Several nations building powerful EMP bombs: Food defense professionals should carefully read the report referenced in this article, which details efforts by several nations, including China and Russia, to build powerful nuclear bombs designed to produce super-electromagnetic pulse (EMP) waves capable of devastating all electronics for hundreds of miles, The most salient point of the report is that an EMP attack on the U.S. would have a devastating effect on our nation by destroying much of the power grid. Should such a scenario ever occur, it would be the beginning of global nuclear war, as U.S. nuclear assets intentionally scattered around the world would be used to retaliate against the nation(s) responsible. Contrary to what adversarial nations might want to think, attribution is assured, and the U.S. assuredly will retaliate with overwhelming ferocity.  The capitals and military assets of attacking nation(s) would be destroyed. Food corporations can protect important parts of their company assets by first preparing for smaller scale events, most likely precipitated through cyber attacks. Although the economic effects would be devastating in even a small-scale event, well-prepared companies can survive. In such an emergency it is essential that critical corporate infrastructure be “hardened,” meaning that it is protected against a pantheon of attack scenarios. Although far from trivial, significant hardening can be achieved relatively quickly.  READ MORE

HUMANITARIAN CRISES

Venezuela continues to disintegrate: Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president on Wednesday, winning over the backing of Washington and many Latin American nations and prompting the socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, to break relations with the United States. Maduro responded that he would give U.S. diplomatic personnel 72 hours to leave Venezuela, which is suffering from a hyperinflationary economic collapse. Read more HERE and HERE

THE FUTURE

Automation may replace a quarter of U.S. jobs: Robots aren’t replacing everyone, but a quarter of U.S. jobs will be severely disrupted as artificial intelligence accelerates the automation of existing work, according to a new Brookings Institution report. Thursday’s report from the Washington think tank says roughly 36 million Americans hold jobs with “high exposure” to automation — meaning at least 70 percent of their tasks could soon be performed by machines using current technology. Among those most likely to be affected are cooks, waiters and others in food services; short-haul truck drivers; and clerical office workers. READ MORE

Amazon tries robots for delivery: Amazon Inc. will use robots to deliver packages in the suburbs north of Seattle, its latest experiment to automate the last-mile of delivery that’s a labor-intensive and costly component of buying products online. The e-commerce giant on Wednesday announced a trial of “Amazon Scout,” autonomous delivery devices the size of a cooler that roll along sidewalks at a walking pace. It will use six robots, which are designed to navigate around obstacles such as people and pets, to deliver packages in Snohomish County. READ MORE

Rise of the vegans: Remember when carnivores had the cultural capital, when there was no greater indicator of a man’s mastery of his own existence than the weight of his lightly bloody steak — apart from, perhaps, the size of his car? Those days are waning. READ MORE

LABOR AND THE ECONOMY

A casino boom and bust: Growing up in Tunica, Missississippi, at the height of its casino boom, Roosevelt Hall thought his community had been dealt a winning hand. But the 38-year-old bartender is increasingly hedging his bets on the future. Now casinos are closing because of a glut in the market. READ MORE

U.S. labor market remains strong: The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits fell to more than a 49-year low last week, but the drop likely overstates the health of the labor market as claims for several states including California were estimated. Still, labor market conditions remain strong, which for now should help to temper fears of a sharp slowdown in economic growth. READ MORE

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

Living paycheck to paycheck: A government job with its steady paycheck is supposed to be a ticket to the middle class. Yet 800,000 government workers just missed their first paycheck this weekend. During the last shutdown, two-thirds of government workers lacked savings to cover one pay period (two weeks) and this one is dragging on much longer. READ MORE

BORDER SECURITY

More than 10,000 Central Americans seek visas: Mexico said Wednesday that more than 10,000 people have requested visas to cross its southern border as it seeks to grant legal documents to members of a rapidly growing U.S.-bound migrant caravan from Central America. If the migrants travel together, the convoy could exceed the size of the last such caravan, which became a flash point in U.S.-Mexican relations as President Donald Trump seized on it to argue for building a giant border wall. Read more HERE and HERE.

CYBER SECURITY

Should workers be allowed to use work email to organize? Google, whose employees have captured international attention in recent months through high-profile protests of workplace policies, has been quietly urging the U.S. government to narrow legal protection for workers organizing online. READ MORE

SUSTAINABILITY

Looking for a guilt-free diet? Good luck with that! Last week’s Lancet report and its “planetary health diet” of next to no red meat will have bolstered the egos of vegans who claim that they are doing the Earth a favor. But just how environmentally friendly are many of the alternatives favored by vegans? READ MORE