Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Wednesday, 12 September 2018. (All times Eastern.)
Hurricane Watch: The National Hurricane Center is reporting a significant course change for Hurricane Florence, which is now scheduled to take a more southerly path that now includes South Carolina for a direct impact. According to this morning’s course change, Georgia will be more heavily impacted that previously reported. The storm also appears to be very slow moving once it makes landfall, according to the latest NHC update, and the National Weather Service is warning of “catastrophic” flooding.
Also: Turning Point USA president Charlie Kirk tweeted a recent video of Maxine Waters (D-CA) at a campaign event encouraging harassment of President Trump’s cabinet officials and bragging that she threatens Trump supporters “all the time”. The crowd cheered Waters as she recalled previous statements that encouraged Democrats to confront Trump officials at restaurants and gas stations. She said the president accused her of threatening his supporters, and Waters explained, “I did not threaten his constituents, supporters. Uh, I do that all the time, but I didn’t do it that time.” [source]
The President is scheduled to receive his intelligence briefing, have lunch with Secretary Pompeo, and then participate in a D.C. fundraiser.
Of note: Media outlets are reporting the federal response to Hurricane Florence will be a test for the president. We’re less than two months away from November’s mid-terms, so the perception of how he manages this storm could be a factor for GOP candidates.
Secretary Pompeo is scheduled to have lunch with the president.
Of Note: The Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security is meeting with officials in the Republic of Georgia on 10-12 September. The meeting will include talks on regional security, and how to strengthen “Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”. Russia still occupies the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Talks will also include Georgia’s “aspirations to integrate into Western institutions,” which is an oblique reference to NATO.
Defense Secretary Mattis and other senior DoD officials have no publicly scheduled events. He’s expected to travel to Macedonia this weekend to meet with defense officials there.
Of note: China and Russia are engaged in the largest military exercise in decades.The exercise includes 36,000 pieces of equipment and a third of all Russian troops, and simulates “conditions as close as possible to war”, according to the Russian defense minister. Vostok-18 runs from 11-15 September.
Also of note: The Latvian Delegation to NATO reminded its Twitter followers this morning of the deployment of four multinational battle groups as a part of NATO’s enhanced forward presence deterrence strategy. The four battle groups, deployed to Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, and Poland, had already been created and deployed. This announcement was likely in response to Vostock-18. [source]
The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) remains the only deployed aircraft carrier, and was last reported in the Philippine Sea. No significant developments for U.S. carrier strike groups have been reported.
Significant House Activity:
- Nothing significant to report.
Significant Senate Activity:
- The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe will receive a briefing on “race, rights, and politics, focusing on black and minority populations in Europe.”
- The Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on “countering Russia, focusing on assessing new tools.”
* Reporting will appear in the Strategic Intelligence Summary or National Intelligence Bulletin.
– Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is reportedly offering U.S. trade negotiators a concession: limited access to its dairy market. Although the U.S. and Mexico have reached a renegotiated NAFTA deal, Canadian cooperation has lagged. If U.S. officials are able to bring Canada in on the new deal, President Trump will achieve a victory and hopefully the months of sanctimonious reporting on this specific topic will end.
– Reuters is reporting that a group of 60 industry organizations have launched Americans for Free Trade, a coalition aimed at fighting back against Trump tariffs. [source] We understand that some U.S. manufacturers are angry over increased input costs — and some manufacturers have had to lay off workers because of it — but one aspect of the Trump tariffs most are overlooking is the actual strategy. Chinese espionage directed at U.S. industrial and economic targets results in, conservatively, $200-300 billion of lost intellectual property and commercial opportunity each year. China steals U.S. technology, reproduces U.S. products, and then dumps them into foreign markets at a lower cost than U.S. producers. That’s far more damaging to the U.S. economy than reciprocal Chinese tariffs. President Trump’s strategy is to modify China’s behavior and achieve more balanced trade with the country for long-term U.S. benefits, even if it causes short-term pain.
– New data out today shows there are now 11 job openings for every 10 unemployed individuals. U.S. manufacturing job openings are at the highest levels since at least 2001. Construction job openings are at the highest level since 2006.
The National Hurricane Center is reporting a significant course change for Hurricane Florence, which is now scheduled to take a more southerly path that now includes South Carolina for a direct impact. According to this morning’s course change, Georgia will be more heavily impacted that previously reported. The storm also appears to be very slow moving once it makes landfall, according to the latest NHC update.
According to the latest information available, Hurricane Florence is expected to stall upon landfall early Friday morning and dump rain into North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia through the weekend. This is similar to what happened to Texas and Louisiana last year during Hurricane Harvey, which led to more severe flooding than had the hurricane passed through the region. National Weather Service meteorologists are warning that this could end up being the “storm of a lifetime” for the Carolinas. Hurricane Florence is expected make landfall as a Category 4 storm.
Meanwhile, Isaac was previously downgraded to a tropical storm, and it’s still on track to enter the southern Caribbean. The NHC is still predicting that Hurricane Helene will spin north and isn’t expected to make U.S. landfall. Additionally, there’s a low pressure system just north of the Yucatan Peninsula that weather forecasters are predicting will affect the Gulf Coast, especially Texas.
REMINDER: This hurricane watch section will remain in this report through the end of the season. I check the latest from the National Hurricane Center each morning and will provide details as necessary.
Drought conditions persist across much of the Southwest. This map is updated every Thursday.
What I’m Looking at this Morning