Hello and happy hump day, readers.
Earlier today, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced a major partnership with the genetic testing firm Color Genomics.
Color will become the sole genetic counseling service for the NIH’s ambitious All of Us research program. The initiative aims to collect health data from 1 million Americans in an effort to understand the genetic, environmental, and lifestyle effects on individual well-being, and to spur personalized drug development and treatment.
With a $4.6 million initial grant, Color will be tasked with both providing genetic counseling for program participants and also creating some of the critical architecture for the overall All of Us project. Here are a few more details on what’s going on.
Read on for the day’s news.
The Pentagon is pulling the plug on a billion-dollar, technically troubled project to build a better weapon that would destroy incoming missiles. The move is aimed in part at considering new approaches to missile defense at a time of rapid technological change.
The announced reason for canceling the Boeing contract, effective Thursday, was that the project’s design problems were so significant as to be either insurmountable or too costly to correct.
Beyond those immediate concerns, the Pentagon is considering whether it needs to start over with designing a defense against intercontinental-range ballistic missiles, such as those North Korea aspires to build, as well as newly emerging types of missiles.
One indication of that broader concern is the Pentagon’s statement that it will now invite industry competition to develop a “new, next-generation interceptor”—potentially a weapon that could take on hypersonic missiles being developed by China and Russia.
The Pentagon currently has 44 missile interceptors based mostly in Alaska. Each is designed to be launched from an underground silo, soar beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, and release a “kill vehicle”—a device that steers into its target and destroys it by force of collision.
These weapons have been tested but never used in actual combat.
It is that “kill vehicle” device that the Pentagon had asked Boeing to redesign so that it could be more reliable against the kind of long-range missiles that North Korea has said it is building to target the U.S.
The Pentagon had spent nearly $1.2 billion on the project when Michael Griffin, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, decided last week to end it. In May he had ordered Boeing to stop its work, pending a decision on a way forward.
“Ending the program was the responsible thing to do,” Griffin said in a statement Wednesday. “Development programs sometimes encounter problems. After exercising due diligence, we decided the path we’re going down wouldn’t be fruitful, so we’re not going down that path anymore.”
Mark Wright, a spokesman for the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, said details about the technical problems that led to the project’s termination would not be released “due to the classified nature of the program.”
Boeing said in a statement that it accepts the decision and supports the competition for a new missile interceptor. Michael
Hi everyone! Fortune commentary editor Tamara El-Waylly here, covering for Ellen for a few days.
The Cherokee Nation is making preparations to send a congressional delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. It would be the first-ever delegation, though the right to send a delegate is enshrined in the Treaty of New Echota. (The treaty also served as justification to force the Cherokee peoples from their homelands).
“At Cherokee Nation, we are exercising our treaty rights and strengthening our sovereignty,” recently elected Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said.
As a “first step” in what will likely be “a long process,” Hoskin requested a Cherokee Nation Tribal Council meeting to consider Kimberly Teehee as a delegate. Teehee was senior policy advisor for Native American affairs for former President Barack Obama.
Hoskin, in explaining why the move was being made now, pointed to how Native issues are moving “to the forefront of the national dialogue.”
Several candidates—like Bernie Sanders, Julián Castro, and most recently Elizabeth Warren—have released proposals addressing Native and Indigenous issues.
And, in case you missed it, the first Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum was held in Sioux Falls, Iowa, earlier this week. As Mark Trahant, editor of digital news Indian Country Today, told NPR: “[The forum] elevates Native American issues to a level that just hasn’t been part of the conversation before. Instead of having candidates do their normal stump speech, they’re really forced to address things that don’t get talked about very much, like treaty rights and the role of the Indian health system.”
And over the forum’s two days, the participating presidential candidates addressed a range of issues. Author and presidential candidate Marianne Williamson said she’d take down the Oval Office portrait of Andrew Jackson, calling its placement “one of the greatest insults.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders received applause for his promise to cancel all student debt, and make community college free. The difficulties regarding access to education, particularly for Native and Indigenous communities, were actually major issues addressed by most, says Vice. For context: Only 13% of Native Americans have a college degree, compared to 28% of Americans.
And, after much criticism over her heritage claims, Sen. Elizabeth Warren apologized: “I know that I have