Welcome to America’s Newsletter from Tag The Flag, the best morning newsletter on the internet, bringing you nonpartisan news and every view of the Red, White, and Blue. Here’s what you need to know to start your day.
📌 BULLETIN BOARD
Flashback: Remember the video we posted of 96-year-old World War II veteran Pete DuPré who played the national anthem on a harmonica before the U.S. women’s soccer match? Well, it went viral. Thank you, Pete for both your service then and your ability to bring our country together now. Watch the clip→
🦅 U.S. NEWS
The Show Goes On: Trump Digs In & The Squad Fires Back
President Donald Trump doubled down on his attacks against four U.S. congresswomen on Monday and dismissed concerns that his comments were racist, prompting outrage from Democrats, who moved to condemn him in the House of Representatives. In response, the four women, who have dubbed themselves the “squad,” hit back in a joint news conference. Why it matters: the four congresswomen hold significant sway on social media and among party activists, becoming thorns in the side of House Democratic leaders. As for Trump, there was a rumble of discontent from a subset of Republicans — but notably not from the party’s congressional leaders. – AP / NBC / Breitbart / CBS
Closing Time: Store closures accelerate and may top 12,000 in 2019
Despite the year being more than halfway over, the pace of store closures doesn’t appear to be slowing down in the retail industry. More companies piled on the bad news recently. By the numbers: So far, 7,062 store closures have been announced by U.S. retailers this year, according to tracking done by Coresight Research. And the tally could top 12,000 by the end of 2019, setting a new record. Why it matters: Even big names are closing some stores, including Fred’s Pharmacy, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Charming Charlie. One Thing: Despite this appearance of a “retail apocalypse,” estimates show sales rose 4.6% in 2018 amid new store openings and escalating e-commerce purchases and are forecast to grow almost as much this year. – CNBC / Nielsen
The Seltzer Bubble: Demand for sparkling water is higher than ever. So is supply.
The hottest beverage category of the summer is sparkling water, The New York Times reports. Venture capitalists are pouring money into the booming $1.7 billion category, which includes club soda, flavored water, and seltzer. Big picture: a recent survey from NPD found Americans drank sparkling water 10 times each last year, a jump of four servings from 2013. At the same time, fruity, alcohol-infused “hard seltzers” scooped up $389 million in U.S. sales through June 30, a 210% uptick from 2018. Why it matters: there may be a seltzer bubble forming. The drink complies with just about every diet, befits all age groups, and can be found in grocery stores across the United States. It’s everywhere. – The New York Times
🌎 WORLD NEWS
Food For Thought: World hunger on the rise as 820 million at risk, UN report finds
More than 820 million people worldwide are still going hungry, according to a UN report that says reaching the target of zero hunger by 2030 is “an immense challenge”. Big picture: The number of people with not enough to eat has risen for the third year in a row as the population increases, after a decade when real progress was made. Why it matters: Millions of children are not getting the nutrition they need. One in seven babies around the world were born with low birthweight in 2015. Somewhat counterintuitively, obesity – also related to malnutrition – continues to rise in all regions as well. There are 338 million school-age children and adolescents who are overweight and 672 million obese adults. – The Guardian
Trump administration announces major crackdown on asylum seekers
The Trump administration on Monday announced a sweeping new policy tightening restrictions for asylum seekers, in a move that could drastically reduce the number of Central American migrants eligible to enter the United States in this way. Details: The new rule would require most migrants entering through America’s southern border to first seek asylum in one of the countries they traversed – whether in Mexico, in Central America, or elsewhere on their journey. By the numbers: there are more than 900,000 immigration cases pending in federal courts. The average backlog is 727 days. – Fox News
Bulls & Bears: China’s Economy Falters; Slowest Growth In Nearly 3 Decades
China’s economy grew at the slowest pace in 27 years, as the trade war with the United States takes a toll. The second-largest economy in the world grew 6.2% in the second quarter of 2019, a drop from 6.4% in the first quarter, according to data released by the Chinese government. Big picture: The pace of growth in the second quarter was at its slowest since 1992. Bears think China’s debt burden and the trade war gives it little room to maneuver while bulls argue China’s economy is strong enough, and it has hundreds of millions of consumers spending more money. – NPR / Forbes
Facebook’s Crypto Plans Raise National Security Concerns
In a press conference Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Facebook’s proposed digital currency, Libra, “could be misused by money launderers and terrorist financiers” and that it was a “national security issue.” Quoted: “Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin have been exploited to support billions of dollars of illicit activity like cyber crime, tax evasion, extortion, ransomware, illicit drugs and human trafficking,” Mnuchin says, adding that he is “not comfortable today” with Facebook’s launch. Timing: The press conference comes days after President Donald Trump said he was “not a fan” of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and suggested Facebook would need a bank charter to go through with current plans. Why it matters: there’s simply little to no positive sentiment about Big Tech coming from Washington. Case in Point: keep reading in our tech section below. – CNBC
Hall-Of-Fame Boxer Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker Dead At 55 After Being Hit By A Car
Former professional boxing champion Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker was killed Sunday night in Virginia Beach. According to police, Whitaker was crossing a busy intersection around 10 p.m. when a car hit him. He died from his injuries at the scene. He was 55. Elsewhere, the Philadelphia 76ers and star guard Ben Simmons have agreed to a $170 million, five-year contract extension and a child’s birthday party got much cooler after the New Jersey Devils’ mascot ran through a glass window. – Deadspin / AP
In the Hot Seat: What to expect from today’s antitrust hearing featuring big tech
Today representatives from Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple will testify before Congress in the second hearing organized as part of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust investigation into the world’s largest technology companies. According to the committee, this one promises to look at the “impact of market power of online platforms on innovation and entrepreneurship.” Expect Alphabet to receive criticism for the company’s dominance in online search and the ad networks. Facebook will be grilled for its dominance in the social media space and asked about its new cryptocurrency. Finally, Apple’s control over the entire ecosystem it pitches to consumers will be in question. Big picture: For this hearing — and indeed the Congressional investigation to be successful — the focus should be less on the global ambitions of these technology companies and more on the practices they’ve enacted to stifle competition. – Tech Crunch
📅 ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
1945: The first atomic bomb test is successfully exploded
On this day in 1945, at 5:29:45 a.m., the Manhattan Project comes to an explosive end as the first atom bomb is successfully tested in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
Did You Know: there is a unit of time called a “shake” which is named after the idiom “in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.” It was invented by Manhattan Project researchers and is equal to 10 nanoseconds.