A Post-American Africa – By Reuben Brigety August 2018

TIKSA NEGERI / REUTERS African leaders gathered at the Assembly of Heads of State and the Governments in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, July 2017.

Africa is transforming rapidly, and the United States’ approach to Africa is not keeping pace. While other countries are jumping at opportunities to invest in growing African economies, the United States is struggling to keep up. China’s commitments to the continent are stronger than ever, as evidenced by the upcoming Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, during which China and African countries will strengthen cooperation on the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, sign a number of bilateral agreements, and sign a communiqué calling for “a stronger community with a shared future between China and Africa.” U.S. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, delayed two years before finally appointing an assistant secretary for African Affairs last month, and his administration has committed a series of diplomatic blunders in its relations with the continent, such as snubbing the chair of the African Union Commission in a botched visit to Washington and punishing Rwanda for imposing tariffs on secondhand clothes from the United States. On a deeper level, the United States has failed to outline any kind of serious, long-term agenda for engagement with Africa, leaving the continent’s leaders wondering about the future of U.S.-African partnership.

On August 20, First Lady Melania Trump announced that she would make a solo trip to Africa in October. (The goals and itinerary of the trip have not yet been announced.) Her visit is long overdue. For decades, U.S. presidential administrations, Democratic and Republican alike, have partnered with African governments and regional institutions to save African lives, improve African economies, and stop African wars. They did so based on the premise that helping Africa prosper also served the interests of the United States. Past administrations enjoyed the privileged position of being a “partner of choice” to Africa. For example, when Rwandan troops needed to be airlifted to the Central African Republic in 2014 to support an African Union peacekeeping force, they called on the U.S. Air Force for support. When the AIDS pandemic threatened to wipe out an entire generation of young Africans, the United States responded with the transformational President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (or PEPFAR). And thousands of young Africans studied in American universities in the 1960s and 1970s, and rose to prominent roles in government and business in their home countries years later. But the United States is now in danger of losing its status Africa’s “partner of choice,” supplanted by China and others. If the United States is to regain its standing with African countries, both the U.S. government and the U.S. private sector must make serious efforts to improve their understanding of Africa: how it is changing, how other actors are responding to those changes, and what the implications are for their own approaches to the continent.

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Anticipation builds around Mueller as 60-day election window nears – JOSH MEYER 08/30/2018 06:54 PM EDT

The cutoff is not a hard and fast rule, but some former prosecutors expect Mueller to bend over backward to avoid taking steps that might be construed as improper before the midterms.

Robert Mueller.
Special counsel Robert Mueller and his team have managed, so far, to keep their plans about the timing — and the targets — of indictments almost entirely under wraps. | Brendan Smialowski/AFP Getty Images

The window closes next week for special counsel Robert Mueller to take any more bombshell actions before midterm season officially kicks off, and people in the president’s orbit and across Washington are watching with heightened anticipation that a final pre-election surprise could come soon.

Longtime Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone emailed supporters Monday and asked for donations to his legal defense fund, saying he believes his indictment is imminent.

The president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has publicly called on Mueller to wrap up his investigation into Trump by the end of next week, when the midterms will be two months away.

“Just a few days before 60 day run-up to 2018 elections,” Giuliani tweeted Saturday from his golfing vacation in Scotland. “If Mueller wants to show he’s not partisan, then issue a report on collusion and obstruction.”

The increased attention stems from Justice Department guidelines that recommend against law enforcement taking major investigative or prosecutorial actions close to an election, so as not to unduly influence voters. Although primaries have been underway for months, Giuliani and others have said the 60-day period before the election should be free of any big activity by Mueller’s team.

But a close read of Justice Department policy shows that the cutoff is not a hard and fast rule, according to more than a dozen current and former Justice Department officials and other legal experts.

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Japan to Spend Billions on U.S. Missile-Defense System – By Alastair Gale and Chieko Tsuneoka Aug. 31, 2018 1:31 a.m. ET

POTUS has called for Tokyo buy more American military equipment to reduce its trade surplus with Washington and its dependency on U.S. protection

An advanced Global Hawk surveillance drone displayed at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan.

An advanced Global Hawk surveillance drone displayed at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan. Photo: Eric Talmadge/Associated Press

TOKYO—Japan is set to pay $2.1 billion for a new U.S. missile-defense system, one of its largest military acquisitions, as pressure from President Trump accelerates Tokyo’s spending on American military hardware.

Japan is already among the biggest global buyers of U.S. arms, ranking alongside countries in the Middle East in recent years with purchases of F-35 stealth jet fighters and Global Hawk unmanned surveillance aircraft.

Even so, last year Mr. Trump called for Tokyo buy “massive amounts” of U.S. military equipment to reduce its trade surplus with Washington and its dependency on U.S. protection. Under a security alliance formed after World War II, the U.S. has military bases across Japan. The U.S. Seventh Fleet is permanently stationed near Tokyo.

Support for the alliance is strong in Japan, particularly during periods of tension with North Korea or China.

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Justice Department Sides Against Harvard In Racial Discrimination Lawsuit – Merrit Kennedy August 30, 2018

The U.S. Department of Justice is throwing its support behind an anti-affirmative action group that is suing Harvard University over alleged racial discrimination in its admissions policies.

In a document filed in federal court on Thursday, the Justice Department said it is siding with Students for Fair Admissions in its request for a trial, currently scheduled to begin in mid-October.

The Justice Department said in a press release that Harvard has “failed to show that it does not unlawfully discriminate against Asian Americans.”

Harvard has filed a motion for summary judgment in its favor, which if approved by a judge would mean the case would not be tried. It argues that the lawsuit is baseless.

In a statement, Harvard said it was “deeply disappointed” that the Justice Department has taken the plaintiff’s side, “recycling the same misleading and hollow arguments that prove nothing more than the emptiness of the case against Harvard.”

“Harvard does not discriminate against applicants from any group, and will continue to vigorously defend the legal right of every college and university to consider race as one factor among many in college admissions, which the Supreme Court has consistently upheld for more than 40 years,” the university added.

This lawsuit dates back to 2014, and alleges that Harvard is in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits racial discrimination in programs that receive federal funding. In its court filing Thursday, the Justice Department says Harvard receives “millions of taxpayer dollars every year.”

The Justice Department says Harvard’s admissions office uses a “personal rating” for applicants. It says in the court filing that the “vague and elusory” scoring system of “subjective” factors could be biased against Asian-Americans. According to the Justice Department, “it scores Asian-American applicants lower on the personal rating than white applicants.”

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Is It Possible to Find Love Without Dating Apps? – ALEX BAKER-WHITCOMB CULTURE 08.30.18 07:55 PM

Dimitri Otis/Getty Images

Dating in 2018 can be a challenge. I’m sorry, let me rephrase: It suuuuuuuuccckkkkksssss.

Apps like Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Grindr, and others are the dater’s tools of choice , and yet hating them is the one thing we can all agree on these days. They’re often more hazard than help, and the forced psychoanalysis of every picture and witty answer can shake even the most durable of confidences loose. Why am I not getting more matches? Why didn’t they respond? But is it your fault, or the app’s? Is it really possible to find true love with just your thumbs? I set out on a journey to find out, and it starts with defining love itself.

The heart of the matter is the heart itself. Like any muscle, it must be worked on to grow. And love for most people seems to emulate that—a laborious growing process. A symbiotic relationship where two people don’t just grow together, but toward each other. But how do you decide on the person, the deciding factor of your success? I asked some of my friends that question and got varying answers: Someone that makes me laugh. Someone that’s empathetic. Someone that gets me snacks. But how do you filter for that? Will Tinder ever have a checkbox for “level of snack-readiness?”

So if we agree that common interests and values are the types of things we’re all looking for in relationships, how can we be expected to find them in an app that sorts for first-glance aesthetics and the ability to write one clever sentence about yourself? It’s Romance Roulette. Your filters aren’t set for love; they’re set for lust, and their equation for it is faulty at best. Your best chance at not getting eliminated before you even start is to conform, in which case you arrive safely in the dating pool without any of the things that make you, you. Dating apps reward homogeneity, sifting everyone into two-dimensional profiles that look the same, sound the same, and in some cases, even algorithmically identify which picture is best to represent you for the largest possible audience.

Of course, people don’t love each other for what makes them the same; they love them for what makes them unique. I wanted someone insatiable, someone whose eyes set ablaze when they talked about something important to them. I wanted someone who was a good friend, a motivator, someone who enjoyed being a blessing to those around them. I wanted someone to invest their love in me for exactly the things that make me different. For those looking for a simple standard, a dating app can provide you with a sea of able-bodied mates. I wanted more than a flat photo and a single sentence could provide. So I chose to swipe dating apps right off my homescreen.

Bye Bye, Bumble

Moving away from dating apps sounds liberating—and it is. You’ll realize characteristics that only matter inside your phone screen—What picture is best of me? What’s one sentence that describes me? Why am I not getting the matches I want?—have been worrying you way too much outside of it. If you try to game love, you can expect love to game you. Hookups and temporary flings can be easy to find on apps, but when deep connections keep evading you, it’s not the app you question. It’s yourself. It can chew on your confidence to the point where it’s no longer raising your chances by widening the pool, it’s hurting them by leaving you at half strength during the times that really matter.

But how does one even meet people without an app anymore? Approaching strangers in bars is harder than it’s ever been; we leave our dating to our phones, and real life is spent inside the confines of our tightly knit friend circles. Anyone trying to date outside of their phone has the potential to come off, well, creepy.

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