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June 18, 2018
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This spring, the Pentagon quietly upgraded U.S. Cyber Command, giving it authority to launch daily, offensive cyber attacks against foreign computer networks, The New York Times reported Sunday.

In the past, Cyber Command operated mostly in a defensive mode, neutralizing digital threats and only rarely making offensive strikes against targets like the Islamic State. Though those strikes have had "mixed" results and can land the U.S. in difficult situations with allies, the Times notes, Cyber Command will now be able to engage in preventive, "constant, disruptive 'short of war' activities" against terrorist networks and state actors alike.

The decision to expand Cyber Command's power was not "formally debated inside the White House before it was issued," the Times reports, citing multiple current and former administration officials, all unnamed. In fact, shortly after National Security Adviser John Bolton took office this year, he eliminated the role of White House cybercoordinator. Bonnie Kristian

9:47 a.m. ET
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The national debt is becoming more important than America's children.

Investment in U.S. kids fell below 10 percent of annual federal spending in 2017 and is projected to shrink even more, a new study by the Urban Institute Kids' Share has found. Adults, on the other hand, hog 45 percent each year.

Spending on children through tax provisions, education, and health care totaled $375 billion of America's $3.9 trillion in federal spending in 2017. Most of that number — $180 billion — seemingly went to adults anyway through dependent exemptions and other tax provisions. Only $42 billion went to childhood education last year.

Federal spending on children was only about 3.2 percent of the budget back in 1960. But it grew from there, peaking at 10.4 percent in 2010, per the study. Childhood spending has since shrunk and, if it continues as projected, will fall to 6.9 percent by 2028. Meanwhile, the national debt is growing, and America will likely be spending more on its debt's interest than on its children in two years.

Those shrinking numbers can partly be attributed to America's aging population, the study suggests. As baby boomers reach Medicare-receiving age, money spent on their Social Security and health care is only projected to grow.

At least the federal budget isn't something millennials can be blamed for ruining. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:43 a.m. ET
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The Second Amendment just went DIY.

The government has settled a lawsuit that will allow people to download files to 3-D print firearms, CNN reported Friday. The settlement concludes a years-long legal battle with Cody Wilson, a "post-left anarchist" who sued after the State Department told him to take plans for a 3-D printed handgun off the internet.

Officials originally told Wilson that posting the plans could violate trade laws that prohibit the export of guns, since people anywhere in the world could theoretically download the files. Now, Wilson's plans are exempted from export restrictions, making them available to anyone who finds them online starting Aug. 1.

The handgun, nicknamed "The Liberator," is made out of ABS plastic, which is the same material as Lego bricks, reports CNN. Anyone with a 3-D printer can make their own Liberator, provided they can procure a metal firing pin to complete the weapon. Wilson himself was surprised that the government backed down without going to trial, telling CNN that officials suddenly "folded their tent" and even agreed to pay nearly $40,000 of Wilson's legal fees.

Gun control advocates are concerned that "ghost guns" like Wilson's will make it easier for people who would fail a criminal background check to get a firearm anyway, since they are untraceable without serial numbers or government regulation. Wilson, however, is excited at the prospect of developing a collection of files for people to download plans for other firearms. As his nonprofit's website says, "the age of the downloadable gun formally begins." Read more at CNN. Summer Meza

9:01 a.m. ET
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When it comes to filling the soon-to-be-empty seat on the Supreme Court, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is playing hardball.

In a private meeting Wednesday, McConnell apparently told senior Republicans he may keep pushing back the confirmation vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh until right before the November midterms, sources tell Politico. Why? Because Democrats keep trying to surface the nominee's long paper trail, and McConnell, it seems, is sick of it.

Even before President Trump had announced his nominee to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, Democrats were dead-set on a strategy of resistance, warning Trump's pick could cement a conservative majority on the nation's highest court and spell disaster for issues like reproductive rights. Since then, Democrats have been requesting every piece of Kavanaugh's records in an attempt to find something they can use to fight his confirmation.

McConnell is apparently ready to retaliate. He's already canceled the Senate's August recess, and is looking to drain Democrats' campaign time even more by delaying Kavanaugh's confirmation vote, per Politico. The delay would mean red-state Democrats wouldn't be able to leave the Capitol and utilize valuable campaign time until the Kavanaugh vote, and his potential confirmation would serve them a crushing defeat just days before voters head to the polls.

If Democrats manage to flip the Senate this fall, that could give them the 50 votes they need to defeat Kavanaugh's nomination. But McConnell has already pledged to hold the vote before the midterms, even if it's at the very last minute. Kathryn Krawczyk

8:40 a.m. ET

President Trump said in an interview on CNBC's Squawk Box on Friday that he was prepared to impose tariffs on all $500 billion in Chinese imports if China doesn't ease its trade policies toward the U.S. "I'm ready to go to 500," Trump told CNBC's Joe Kernen.

The Trump administration so far has hit China with tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods, prompting China to respond in kind. The Trump administration is now reviewing potential levies on $200 billion in Chinese products, and China has threatened to retaliate again if Trump goes through with the proposal. Trump said the tariffs are necessary to get China to treat U.S. companies fairly, and stop forcing them to hand over their technology for access to Chinese markets. Harold Maass

6:00 a.m. ET
YouTube/The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

President Trump surprised everyone — his own director of national intelligence included — on Thursday by seemingly inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington. This sent Stephen Colbert into a conniption fit on Thursday's Late Show.

"It is hard to imagine you could be this shocked every day by the Trump administration," Colbert said. "I mean, freshly shocked!" Americans were horrified by Trump's Monday meeting in Helsinki with Putin, Colbert said, and since then, people within the administration have been "trying to put distance between Trump and Putin." But then the president had to sabotage those efforts with a tweet (what else?), suggesting he and Putin were arranging a second meeting. That made Colbert spit out his coffee.

"Second meeting. Second meeting?!" Colbert gasped. "Because the first one went so well! ... Nothing could have gone worse than your meeting in Helsinki!" So what's Trump thinking? Colbert says one thing's for sure: Trump is in Putin's pocket. "The reason remains, why? There's only two possible answers: Either Putin has something on him, or he's an idiot." Either way, somebody has to break it to Trump that Putin doesn't have his interests at heart, so Colbert staged a tearful intervention. Watch below — but beware, there's some NSFW language. Jessica Hullinger

2:05 a.m. ET

The Apprentice premiered on Jan. 8, 2004. On July 19, 2018, President Trump realized what the title of his show meant.

The realization hit Trump while at a White House jobs event Thursday, with Ivanka Trump in attendance. Trump told the audience that "23 companies and associations are pledging to expand apprenticeships," then paused for a beat. "That's an interesting word for me to be saying, right, The Apprentice?"

Okay, that's fine, Trump made a reference to a reality program he once hosted, not a big deal. But now that everything about the show and the board room and Omarosa and telling people "You're fired!" suddenly made sense, he kept going. "I never actually put that together until just now," Trump said. "That was a good experience, I will tell you that." Turning to his former co-star/daughter/senior adviser, he continued, "Isn't that strange, Ivanka? I never associated, but here we are, can't get away from that word. It's a great word." Watch the president connect the dots in the video below. Catherine Garcia

1:44 a.m. ET

President Trump started his Thursday off by tweeting that his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday "was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media," a statement that CNN's Chris Cuomo called "ugly" and "unoriginal," but "most importantly ... an admission that you hate your country."

The phrase "real enemy of the people" was used as an "operative threat to murder the opposition during the French Revolution," Cuomo said. Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong both used it, too, he said, adding, "America, the country you lead, was formed in defiance of strongmen, bullies, and the idea that might makes right. A free press is a metaphor for what makes America great, so you have now admitted that you are against what we are all about."

Cuomo isn't concerned over Trump's tweet, because he knows the media is not the enemy, and is "perhaps the best check against the abuse of power that can lead to a Stalin or a Mao." The person who should be worried is Trump, Cuomo said, because "do you really think the people will keep a president who hates what their country is all about?" Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia

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