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Trump plans ‘significant’ troop announcement for Poland but base remains in doubt

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President Donald Trump and his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda were to announce higher US troop levels in Poland on Wednesday, with the main question being whether Washington will defy Russian objections to establish an American base in the NATO country.

A senior Trump administration official said the White House meeting would see the two leaders make “a significant announcement.”

Whether Trump will risk irritating Moscow with a base or take the simpler option of adding more troops to the current non-permanent force was unclear.

Located deep in what used to be Soviet-dominated eastern Europe, Poland is a member of NATO but has long wanted deeper US commitment.

Spooked by resurgent Russia’s seizing control of territory in Georgia and Ukraine over the last decade, Duda has tried to charm the US president, even touting the idea of Poland building a “Fort Trump” to house thousands of US soldiers.

Krzysztof Szczerski, an adviser to the Polish president, said the general concept of a “Fort Trump” was on the agenda Wednesday and that the US presence “will increase both in quality as well as quantity.”

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While US troops already deploy to Poland as part of a rotating NATO presence, a permanent force would thrust American military power one step closer to Russia’s borders.

Likely responses would include the Kremlin increasing military assets in the Russian territory of Kaliningrad, which borders Poland, and possibly also in Belarus, a close ally of Moscow that has resisted hosting a full-scale Russian base on its territory.

– $2 billion sweetener –

Poland has been rebuffed before.

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In the early 2000s, there were intense talks on deployment of a US anti-missile defense system in Poland, ostensibly to guard against Iranian attacks on Europe but seen by Russia as a direct threat.

With the Kremlin vowing to respond with new nuclear missile deployments, president Barack Obama abandoned the project. In 2018, however, Poland signed a $4.75 billion contract to purchase the US Patriot anti-missile systems — a deal seen as a major boost for attempts to modernize Polish forces.

Duda’s current attempts to woo Trump include promising $2 billion for construction costs of the base he wants, not to mention the only half-joking idea of naming the proposed facility after the publicity-loving president.

But the Pentagon has been less enthusiastic about a base. Both US Army Secretary Mark Esper and then-defense secretary Jim Mattis expressed concerns in September about having adequate space to train soldiers.

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What amounts to a diplomatic-military chess game in the long-contested lands between Russia and western Europe is further complicated by Trump’s erratic foreign policy.

The US president has blown hot and cold on Putin and has often spoken disparagingly about his NATO allies.

However, there is strong support in Washington for a tough approach to the Kremlin following its 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Black Sea Crimea region, open support for Ukrainian and Georgian separatist regions, and frequent incursions into NATO airspace.

In another twist, Trump has been dogged throughout his first term by accusations of improper links to Moscow, ranging from secretive business dealings to benefiting from a Russian influence operation during the 2016 election.

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Walmart got a $2.2 billion tax cut — now it’s laying off workers

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Walmart announced it will lay off hundreds of workers in North Carolina despite receiving billions in tax cuts that the Republican Party and President Trump claimed would spur job growth.

The giant retailer will lay off about 570 employees and close its corporate office near the Charlotte airport, despite signing a 12-year lease just four years earlier, the Charlotte Business Journal reported.

The work done at the Charlotte facility will be outsourced to a firm in Arkansas, according to the report.

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Amazon, Google and Facebook warrant antitrust scrutiny for many reasons – not just because they’re large

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There’s a growing chorus of U.S. politicians, antitrust scholars and consumer watchdogs calling for stricter antitrust treatment of Amazon, Google, Facebook and other tech giants. Some even say they should be broken up.

Most recently, U.S. lawmakers launched a sweeping review to determine if these companies have become so big and powerful that they are stifling competition and harming consumers, while federal regulators are also gearing up to take action.

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Hacker used $35 computer to steal restricted NASA data

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A hacker used a tiny Raspberry Pi computer to infiltrate NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory network, stealing sensitive data and forcing the temporary disconnection of space-flight systems, the agency has revealed.

The April 2018 attack went undetected for nearly a year, according to an audit report issued on June 18, and an investigation is still underway to find the culprit.

A Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized device sold for about $35 that plugs into home televisions and is used mainly to teach coding to children and promote computing in developing countries.

Prior to detection, the attacker was able to exfiltrate 23 files amounting to approximately 500 megabytes of data, the report from NASA's Office of inspector General said.

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Trump endorses killing journalists, like Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Online ad networks are now targeting sites that cover acts of violence against dissidents, LGBTQ people and people of color.

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