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
Yesterday the stock market passed a major milestone—the tenth anniversary of the day the market bottomed in 2009 when the S&P 500 hit 666. The S&P has gained more than 312 percent since that low of the financial crisis.
🦅 U.S. NEWS
U.S. Trade Deficit in Goods Hits Record
The U.S. trade deficit in goods reached a record in 2018, defying President Trump’s efforts to narrow the gap, as imports jumped and some exports got hammered by retaliation against U.S. tariffs. By the numbers: The deficit in goods grew 10% last year to $891.3 billion, the widest on record, according to Commerce Department data released Wednesday. U.S. trade gaps with China and Mexico, already the nation’s largest, reached new records. Be smart: Fast economic growth, driven in part by fiscal stimulus, led to a 7.5% increase in imports last year, marked by increased spending on consumer goods, industrial supplies and capital goods. Bottom line: the economy is hot, people have some extra money in their pockets, and are using it to buy stuff. – WSJ (subscription)
Amazon-JPMorgan-Berkshire Health-Care Venture to Be Called Haven
The mysterious new health-care venture announced by Amazon.com Inc., Berkshire Hathaway Inc., and JPMorgan Chase & Co. will be called Haven. Haven also unveiled a website, havenhealthcare.com. The goal: Haven wants to improve access to primary care, simplify insurance and make prescription drugs more affordable, according to the website. It will initially serve 1.2 million employees of Amazon, Berkshire, and JPMorgan, though it later plans “to share our innovations and solutions to help others. – Bloomberg
A new study finds a potential risk with self-driving cars: failure to detect dark-skinned pedestrians
A new study suggests black people are more likely to get hit by an autonomous vehicle than white people. Why it matters: The findings are the latest example of how human bias seeps into artificial intelligence. If AVs are trained with data that includes only light-skinned people as examples of what constitutes a “human,” they won’t recognize dark-skinned people as also “human” in the real world. – Axios / Vox
Italian populists launch welfare program for poor, jobless
Italy’s populist government opened its new minimum income welfare program Wednesday, fulfilling a key campaign promise of the 5-Star Movement to try to reduce poverty and unemployment in the eurozone’s third-largest economy. Details: The so-called “citizen’s income” is essentially a new system of welfare and unemployment benefits for poorer households, providing more money than current unemployment benefits. Big picture: The scheme is slated to cost the Italian government 7.1 billion euros this year, a spending spree that helped spark months of heated budget negotiations with the European Union. At about 133 percent of GDP, Italy’s debt load is the second-highest in Europe, after Greece’s. – AP
Iranian hackers have attacked more than 200 companies in past 2 years, Microsoft finds
Cyber attacks linked to Iranian hackers have targeted thousands of people at more than 200 companies over the past two years. Why it matters: the campaign stole corporate secrets and wiped data from computers. It caused damages estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity and affected oil-and-gas companies, heavy-machinery manufacturers and international conglomerates in more than a half-dozen countries including Saudi Arabia, Germany, the U.K., India, and the U.S. – Market Watch
Russian security services nabbed 600 foreign spies last year, Putin says
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that his security service in 2018 had uncovered almost 600 operatives and agents from foreign intelligence agencies, which he charged were stepping up their efforts to steal Russian secrets. Connect the dots: Last year, the security service arrested Paul Whelan, an American citizen, on charges of suspicion of espionage. The Russians claimed that he was caught accepting classified material in Moscow. – USA Today
Dollar Tree to shutter 390 Family Dollar stores, rebrand others
Discount retailer Dollar Tree plans to close 390 Family Dollar stores this year while renovating 1,000 other locations, the company said in releasing its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings Wednesday. Why it matters: until now these discount outlets were seemingly immune to the “retail apocalypse” crisis that has hit major retailers such as Gap, JCPenney, Victoria’s Secret, and Foot Locker, which have all announced massive closures over the last week. So here’s the question: Why Is Dollar Tree Stock Trading Higher After Its Awful Earnings Miss? – Fox Business / The Street
Red Sox pitcher Wright suspended 80 games for HGH
Boston Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright will sit out the first 80 games of the season after testing positive for Human Growth Hormone. Second Strike: it’s the second suspension for the knuckleballer who missed 15 games last year for violating baseball’s domestic violence policy. Context: The only other player to test positive for growth hormone under the big league program was Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Josh Ravin in 2016. Four players have tested positive for growth hormone under the minor league program since 2015. – AP
Mark Zuckerberg discovers privacy
Facebook will increasingly shift its focus away from public posts to encrypted, ephemeral communications on its trio of messaging apps, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said yesterday in a significant new blog post. Why it matters: this sentiment marks a sharp reversal for Facebook, which has grown into one of the world’s wealthiest companies by inventing exotic new methods of personal data collection and allowing brands to sell advertising against it. Big picture: Zuckerberg says Facebook’s messaging platforms will evolve to more closely resemble WhatsApp. End-to-end encryption will become standard across Facebook’s suite of messaging apps. – The Verge
🤝 PRESENTED BY: GRACE ALLEY
Sunday was National Anthem Day which means that 88 years ago, President Herbert Hoover signed a bill to make the “Star Spangled Banner” the official national anthem for the U.S. on March 3, 1931. With that said, we’ll be featuring Grace Alley’s 100% American Made Flags on our newsletter all week. They’ve been reviewed over 10,000 times on Amazon and come with a “1 Year No Questions Asked Warranty.” Last but not least, if you buy this Flag and Tag it, we’ll send you some unreleased Flag Swag.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
1876: Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone
On this day in 1876, 29-year-old Alexander Graham Bell receives a patent for his revolutionary new invention–the telephone.
Bell offered to sell his telephone patent to Western Union for $100,000 in 1876. The committee appointed to investigate the offer concluded the telephone was “hardly more than a toy” and “inherently of no use to us”.