Macro Links Jan 22nd – Shutdown Day Three

Macro Links Jan 22nd – Shutdown Day Three

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MACRO LINKS TABLE OF CONTENTS (Click or Scroll Down)

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US GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

Deadline Passes, Triggering Shutdown; Senate Rejects Short-Term Spending Bill – WSJ

The Senate rejected a one-month spending bill early Saturday, triggering the shutdown of many government services and setting off a partisan fight over who would bear the political consequences.

Government Shutdown Begins as Budget Talks Falter in Senate – The New York Times

The shutdown, coming one year to the day after President Trump took office, set off a new round of partisan recriminations and posed risks for both parties. It came after a fruitless last-minute negotiating session at the White House between Mr. Trump and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader.

U.S. Government Shutdown Starts as GOP Spending Bill Hits Wall – Bloomberg

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell held a key procedural vote open past the midnight deadline to pass a spending bill with the chamber well short of the 60 votes needed to advance a House Republican measure to fund the government for another 30 days.

Blame game intensifies over US government shutdown

The US government remained closed on Sunday as Republicans and Democrats continued to blame each other for the shutdown while President Donald Trump called for a change in Senate rules to end the impasse. With the Senate unable to reach the 60 votes needed to avert a government shutdown on Friday night, Mr Trump tweeted that Republicans should resort to the “nuclear option” and allow legislation to pass with 51 votes.

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BITCOIN, CRYPTOCURRENCY, INITIAL COIN OFFERINGS

Bitcoin Futures Cop Says It Will Remain on Beat During Shutdown – Bloomberg

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said it would keep tabs on Bitcoin futures trading and other markets during a government shutdown, even though it would be forced to halt many other normal activities.

SEC says bitcoin funds raise ‘investor protection issues’

The U.S. securities regulator on Thursday raised alarm about the safety of bitcoin-themed investments, telling the fund industry they want answers to their concerns before endorsing more than a dozen proposed products based on cryptocurrencies.

SEC Pours Cold Water on Prospect of Bitcoin ETFs – WSJ

Wall Street’s top regulator all but shut the door to approving exchange-traded funds that hold bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, questioning whether the products could comply with rules meant to protect mom-and-pop investors.

Here’s How Scammers Are Using Fake News To Screw With Bitcoin Investors

In the largely unregulated world of bitcoin and cryptocurrency, fraudsters are getting rich by deliberately spreading false information to affect the price of their holdings using social media, scam news sites, and private chat apps.

As Bitcoin Sinks, Crypto Bros Party Hard on a Blockchain Cruise – Bloomberg

The group of mostly young men, many of whom became wildly rich — at least on paper — as Bitcoin and other digital tokens skyrocketed last year, had in all likelihood just lost millions. But if anyone was fazed, they didn’t show it. The party rolled on as the sangria and Red Bull flowed, Bitcoin-themed rap music blared and drones filmed it all from above.

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TAXATION, WEALTH HAVENS, INEQUALITY

The Tax Break That Doctors and Plumbers Both Will Miss – WSJ

The new law contains guardrails, designed to limit the pass-through deduction’s cost and prevent people from claiming a business tax break for what is really labor income. Among them, doctors, lawyers and others in service businesses can’t claim the break if they earn too much money. The restrictions also affect high earners in any business or trade where the “principal asset” is “the reputation or skill of one or more of its employees or owners.”

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RUSSIA PROBE

Omarosa may have taped confidential White House discussions – NY Daily News

Former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault-Newman may have taped confidential West Wing conversations and fears being caught up in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, sources told the Daily News on Thursday. The former reality TV star’s official last day in the Trump administration is Saturday — despite the abrupt announcement of her departure last month — and her next step seems to be lawyering up.

Kushner’s Deutsche Bank-Backed Property Stung by Tenant Troubles – Bloomberg

Last year, New York prosecutors requested documents from Deutsche Bank related to the property, where the Kushners used the debt to take out $59 million in cash. It isn’t clear what prosecutors are looking for. But mortgages granted under generous financial assumptions then sold to others who will bear the risk have piqued their interest in other cases. A spokesman for the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Deutsche Bank.

Twitter Finds 1,062 More Accounts Linked to Russian Agency – Bloomberg

The social media company said it’s emailing notifications to 677,775 people in the U.S. who followed one of these accounts or retweeted or liked a Tweet from these accounts during the election period, according to a blog post Friday. That’s almost 1 percent of Twitter’s 69 million monthly active users in the U.S. The new IRA accounts are in addition to 2,752 accounts Twitter found and disclosed last year.

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NORTH / SOUTH KOREA, IRAN, NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Small Chinese Shippers From Troubled Ports Seen Aiding North Korea Trade – WSJ

For small-time shipowners in China, the sanctions were more bad news. Trade with North Korea had been legal—and was considered just another business opportunity in Asia, according to an official at a shipowner association in Jiangsu Province, where Nantong is located.

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RATES, LIQUIDITY, SYSTEMIC RISK, BALANCE SHEETS

Is Lithium the Next Canary in the Markets Mine? – WSJ

Industrial and consumer companies are minting real profits now—not promising profits tomorrow—and U.S. Treasurys yields are testing 2.6%. At the same time, major central banks finally look poised to cut their liquidity drips. One result: Plays on moon bases, hyperloops and dogecoins may suddenly be susceptible to bad news again, as bitcoin and lithium demonstrated this week.

18F22 - ALB SHARE PRICE

Sliding US dollar creates a trap for investors

The risk from a sliding dollar is that it means investors are firmly facing in one direction, betting on further gains for equities, credit and emerging markets. A dollar rebound, something that a number of analysts and investors still expect, would not just send those sure bets into reverse, but spark turbulence across markets.

18F22 - US UNEMP RATE

US 10-year Treasury yield hits highest since July 2014

Investors have been closely scrutinising the recent declines in US sovereign bond prices, with yields on Friday eclipsing levels hit after Donald Trump won the US election in 2016. The rise in yields has been buoyed by expectations of firmer economic growth and inflation in the US, as well as the view that central banks may unwind crisis-era stimulus programmes faster than investors had previously thought.

Why Is Volatility So Low? Some See Crowded Trades, Minsky Moment – Bloomberg

Arrange all the trading days this millennium from lowest to highest by the value of the VIX that day. The first 41 entries on that list would all be from 2017! Fully 80 of the top 100 calmest days since the turn of the century were in this past year. It’s not as if there wasn’t anything to worry about.

Spain Has Rating Raised to A- by Fitch on Economic Recovery – Bloomberg

Spain’s credit rating was raised one level at Fitch Ratings, which said the country’s “buoyant” economic growth has helped reduce the government’s general deficit. The decision puts Spain in ‘A’ grade territory for the first time since 2012, when it was mired in a recession and a housing slump. It also marks the first upgrade for the country from a major credit-rating company in more than two years.

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MACRO OP-EDS, INSIGHT, EVENTS AND TRENDS

Making Crypto Millions Isn’t What it Used Be – Bloomberg

In 2018, the pitch goes something like this: “Pssst. Want to buy the next Bitcoin? You’re not American, are you? Or Chinese? Or Korean? And you get that these tokens aren’t securities? You won’t get any dividends or interest or cash flows or anything like that? Excellent. In fact, you won’t really get much of anything at all, because these tokens have no rights, or uses, or attributes. And remember, if anyone asks, this isn’t an ICO. It’s a TGE — a Token Generation Event.”

The rise and fall of bitcoin – Tales from the crypto

Perhaps the best way of understanding bitcoin is through a model of how bubbles operate. The classic model, developed by Hyman Minsky and elaborated by Charles Kindleberger, a historian who studied bubbles, has five stages: displacement, boom, euphoria, financial distress and revulsion. We have not yet reached the “distress” stage but we might be near it. Worries about the security of cryptocurrencies could be the trigger for another sell-off. At that point, the price could fall as quickly as it rose—as the saying goes “up like a rocket, down like a stick”.

When Trading in Bitcoin, Keep the Tax Man in Mind – The New York Times

Come April, people who have bought and sold Bitcoin — or any of the other digital currencies that have quickly sprouted across the web — will be expected to report any profits on their federal tax returns. Considering Bitcoin’s jump of more than 1,500 percent last year, there are probably many people who logged gains or losses for the first time, as people rushed in with the irrational exuberance of the early dot-com days. But how much tax you owe will depend on how and when you acquired the digital currency — which, in fact, isn’t treated as a currency at all. Instead, for tax purposes, the Internal Revenue Service views Bitcoin and its cryptocoin cousins as property.

Jared Kushner Is China’s Trump Card | The New Yorker

Kushner often excluded the US government’s top China specialists from his meetings with the Chinese Ambassador, a slight that rankled and unnerved the bureaucracy. “He went in utterly unflanked by anyone who could find Beijing on a map,” a former member of the National Security Council said. Some officials who were not invited to Kushner’s sessions or briefed on the outcomes resorted to scouring American intelligence reports to see how Chinese diplomats described their dealings with Kushner. Other U.S. officials spoke to Cui directly about the meetings. Kushner was “their lucky charm,” the former N.S.C. member said. “It was a dream come true. They couldn’t believe he was so compliant.” (A spokesman for Kushner said that none of the China specialists told him that “he shouldn’t be doing it the way he was doing it at the time.”)

Why the alt-right is winning America’s meme war

What is going on here is a classic example of the type of “network” effect described by Niall Ferguson, the British historian, in his 2017 book The Square and the Tower: people are congregating online to challenge hierarchies, using the power of the (cyber) crowd against the elite. This fight is not just about ideas, but communication styles too. Five centuries ago, Martin Luther upended the power of the Roman Catholic Church by using vernacular speech to undercut priestly Latin. Today, alt-right trolls are using memes to overturn mainstream ideas about political communication.

Whole Foods employees reveal why stores are facing a crisis of food shortages – Business Insider

Order-to-shelf, or OTS, is a tightly controlled system designed to streamline and track product purchases, displays, storage, and sales. Under OTS, employees largely bypass stock rooms and carry products directly from delivery trucks to store shelves. It is meant to help Whole Foods cut costs, better manage inventory, reduce waste, and clear out storage. But its strict procedures are leading to storewide stocking issues, according to several employees. Angry responses from customers are crushing morale, they say. (Many of the photographs in this story were provided to Business Insider by customers.)

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CENTRAL BANKS & MONETARY POLICY

Bank of Japan Looks to Massage Its Message as Inflation Edges Up – WSJ

The Bank of Japan is optimistic about hitting its 2% inflation target within two years and is considering how best to communicate any possible policy changes, say people familiar with its thinking. As the central bank prepares for its first policy meeting of 2018 on Monday and Tuesday, insiders see more signs that inflation is on the right track.

Fed Officials See Benefits in Letting Inflation Run Above Target – Bloomberg

“Let me be clear: A small and transitory overshoot of 2 percent inflation would not be a problem,” William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said in a Jan. 11 speech. “Were it to occur, it would demonstrate that our inflation target is symmetric, and it would help keep inflation expectations well-anchored around our longer-run objective.”

18F22 - INFLATION INDEX

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USA ECONOMY DATA, CITIES AND STATES

Consumer Sentiment Slides for Third-Straight Month – WSJ

A measure of U.S. consumer sentiment slid in January for the third-straight month, continuing to ease after reaching its highest level in more than a decade. The University of Michigan on Friday said its consumer sentiment index was 94.4 in early January, down slightly from 95.9 in December. It dropped in December and November after hitting the highest level since 2004 in October.

Tom Petty Died From Accidental Drug Overdose Involving Opioids, Coroner Says – The New York Times

“As a family we recognize this report may spark a further discussion on the opioid crisis and we feel that it is a healthy and necessary discussion and we hope in some way this report can save lives,” Mr. Petty’s family said. “Many people who overdose begin with a legitimate injury or simply do not understand the potency and deadly nature of these medications.”

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GLOBAL ECONOMY DATA

UK retail sales fall most since June 2016

UK retail sales posted the biggest fall since the direct aftermath of the 2016 Brexit referendum vote, with consumers feeling the pinch from rapidly rising prices and shifting some spending to November from December.

18F22 - UK RETAIL SALES

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POSITIONING, INFLECTION, MARKET CALLS

US stocks hit new record for stretch without a 5% reversal

The US stock market has clocked a new record for tranquillity, as a robust global economy and still supportive monetary policy push the S&P 500 to almost 400 trading days without a 5 per cent reversal. The benchmark for large-cap US companies has averaged about four 5 per cent declines — from peak to trough — annually since 1927, but volatility in US stocks has evaporated in recent years.

‘The Intensity Is Crazy’: Stock Advisers Bask in the Bull Market – Bloomberg

“It’s relentless and remarkable,” said Michael Antonelli, an institutional equity sales trader and managing director there. “When you see people buying an industrial stock, Boeing, like it’s a FANG, you know that’s emblematic of this rally when they are buying stocks with both hands.”

GE shares stumble to worst week since financial crisis

General Electric shares tumbled for a fifth straight session on Friday, sending the stock to its biggest weekly percentage drop since the financial crisis, after the company flagged a possible breakup and more than $11 billion in charges earlier in the week.

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COLOR, EARNINGS, SENTIMENT, VALUATIONS

ADM Has Made Takeover Approach to Bunge Ltd. – WSJ

Archer Daniels Midland has made a takeover approach to grain trader and processor Bunge, according to people familiar with the matter, setting up a possible bidding war with Glencore. The two companies have a standstill arrangement that temporarily prevents Glencore from making a hostile bid for Bunge. It is unclear whether the expression of interest from ADM negates the standstill, which expires in coming weeks, and enables Glencore to make another move now.

Twitter Analyst Support Piles Up as Turnaround Gains Steam – Bloomberg

Facebook Inc.’s recent decision to emphasize content generated by users’ friends and family in their news feeds, pulling back from posts created by brands, businesses and news outlets, was cited by Victor Anthony, an analyst at Aegis Capital, when he raised his rating on Twitter’s stock Monday to buy from sell. Anthony said Facebook’s shift will probably boost Twitter’s importance to media outlets and businesses.

US banks’ mission to boost investor payouts sparks concern

Despite a lot of one-off hits from tax and a pretty miserable trading environment on Wall Street, the banks all said they would look to step up payouts to shareholders through higher dividends and bigger buyback programmes (with the blessing of the regulator.) Rather than building capital bases, in other words, they would allow them to fall. They would rely a little less on equity to fund their operations, and a little more on debt. To some, that is a worrying trend.

Wall Street traders brace for meager paychecks as bonus season approaches

Bonuses could be 10 percent to 20 percent lower than the prior year, and traders who sit on desks that posted losses could get nothing at all, consultants and recruiters said in interviews. “Getting zero bonuses was unheard of a couple years ago, but it happens today,” said Alan Johnson, head of compensation consulting firm Johnson Associates.

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DEALS, MERGERS, IPOs, LBOs, RESTRUCTURINGS

The year’s first big tech IPO is a dud – Axios

The 2018 IPO market appears to have fumbled its opening kickoff, even if ADT owner Apollo Global Management booked a strong paper profit on the first stage of its quick flip. The Florida-based company priced 105 million shares at $14 per share, compared to plans to price 111.11 million shares at between $17 and $19 per share. It opened trading today on the NYSE at just $12.65 per share.

SurveyMonkey is expected to go public later this year – Recode

Last valued at $2 billion, SurveyMonkey is advised by Silicon Valley heavyweights like Sheryl Sandberg and Meg Whitman, who have sat on its board. But despite its prominence and profitability, SurveyMonkey is approaching its third decade as a private company, serving as a prime example of startups’ reluctance to test public markets.

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HEDGE FUNDS, PRIVATE EQUITY, MONEY MGMT

Potential Buffett Heir Reveals What May Be Just the Start of His Berkshire Stake – Bloomberg

A regulatory filing on Friday shows Abel indirectly holds about $2.1 million of stock in the Omaha, Nebraska-based company. But a separate disclosure last year noted an agreement that could catapult his holdings higher. That filing showed he could convert a stake in Berkshire’s energy business into more than $400 million of stock in the conglomerate.

Ajit Jain Reports $109 Million Stake in Berkshire Hathaway – Bloomberg

Ajit Jain, the insurance executive who was named a vice chairman of Buffett’s conglomerate earlier this month, disclosed the holdings in a regulatory filing on Thursday. A large portion of the stake is held by a foundation and trusts in his family’s name, and his wife also owns some of the shares. Jain directly controls about $22 million of the stock.

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ENERGY CRUDE OIL, OIL SANDS, SHALE

IEA Sees ‘Explosive’ Growth in U.S. Oil Output as Prices Rally – Bloomberg

U.S. oil output is set for “explosive” growth this year as prices rally, the International Energy Agency said on Friday. That was just one of a chorus of voices from Goldman Sachs group Inc. to OPEC itself warning of a looming output surge reminiscent of the “heady days” of the first shale boom.

OPEC Frets About New Flood of U.S. Oil – Bloomberg

OPEC increased its forecast for rival oil-supply growth for a second month running after a recovery in prices sent Brent crude to $70 a barrel. OPEC’s output cuts — now entering a second year — have been successful in eroding bloated stockpiles and lifting prices to a three-year high. Yet the rally has prompted concern that competitors in the U.S. will be emboldened to expand production.

The World’s Oil Kings Are Under Threat – Bloomberg

Middle East producers who for decades reigned as the undisputed leaders of oil sales to Asia are sensing a threat to their dominance, which is goading them to review age-old habits. Before the U.S. shale boom and the biggest price crash in a generation, buyers eager to feed their galloping economies had little choice but to purchase their supply even if terms weren’t desirable.

U.S. Oil Output Expected to Surpass Saudi Arabia, Rivaling Russia for Top Spot – WSJ

U.S. oil production is expected this year to surpass Saudi Arabia’s output, upending a global pecking order that has been a basis for U.S.-Middle Eastern policy for decades. Crude output in the U.S. will likely climb above 10 million barrels a day in 2018, which would top the high set in 1970, the International Energy Agency said Friday.

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POLLUTION, CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Huge Oil Spill Isn’t China’s Real Offshore Disaster – Bloomberg

The fact is, thanks to massive overfishing in China’s territorial waters, there isn’t much marine life left to kill in the disaster zone. According to He Pemin of Shanghai Ocean University, those waters have been so denuded over the last three decades that fishermen “normally bypass the area and go further afield for a bigger catch.”

Think Flu Season Is Bad? It Might Get Even Worse – Bloomberg

The influenza virus that’s sickened millions of Americans this season is already the most widespread outbreak since public health authorities began keeping track more than a dozen years ago. Now, with the threat of more strains emerging, it might get even worse.

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BREXIT, SCOXIT, LONDON, UK ECONOMY

Boris Johnson Suggests Building a Bridge From U.K. to France – The New York Times

The idea of a bridge more than 20 miles long may be no more than a trial balloon by Mr. Johnson. A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May told reporters on Friday that the government was not aware of any specific plans for a bridge. Nor was it mentioned in a 16-page summary of the meeting released by the Élysée Palace in Paris.

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JAPAN

Shinzo Abe’s Party Wants Japan Ready for Video Games in Olympics – Bloomberg

Arcane laws meant to stop illegal gambling have prevented paid video game tournaments in Japan, stunting the domestic market even as e-sports has become a multibillion-dollar global industry. Over the past few months, negotiations between four e-sports groups and Japan’s consumer protection agency have yielded a workaround to exempt professional gamers from the rules.

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DACA, TRAVEL BAN, IMMIGRATION, WALL

Supreme Court Agrees to Decide Legality of Current Trump Travel Ban – WSJ

The Supreme Court agreed to consider the legality of President Trump’s latest ban on travelers from certain countries, giving the justices a chance to settle a yearlong legal battle over one of the White House’s most controversial initiatives.

Supreme Court to Consider Challenge to Trump’s Latest Travel Ban – The New York Times

President Trump’s third attempt to impose restrictions on travel from predominantly Muslim nations will face a test in the Supreme Court this spring.

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GEOPOLITICS, CRIME, TERRORISM

Baltimore Fires Another Police Commissioner, After Record High Murder Rate – The New York Times

Besieged by the nation’s highest big-city murder rate, Baltimore named a new police commissioner for the third time in five years on Friday, with the mayor saying she was “impatient” for change. The surprise move came as the city struggles to control the violence that took the lives of almost 900 residents during the two-and-a-half-year tenure of the last chief, Kevin Davis, who was fired on Friday.

In Venezuela’s Oil Hub, Prosperity Turns to Crime, Hunger – WSJ

Oil from Lake Maracaibo transformed Venezuela into the world’s biggest oil exporter, but output has plummeted, oil equipment is idle and rusting and once-flush workers are going hungry and must deal with failing equipment and piracy.

Moscow creates bank to help it avoid US sanctions

Moscow is creating a bank that the Kremlin will use to finance its defence industry in a manoeuvre that will help it avoid new US sanctions. Russia’s central bank said on Friday that Promsvyazbank, Russia’s ninth largest bank by assets, would become a “special-purpose bank for serving military-industrial-complex businesses”.

Russian Spy Ship Operating Near U.S. Coast

In a statement provided to Newsweek, U.S. Southern Command added, “We are aware of Russian naval activities in our hemisphere. We work closely with our interagency partners to be aware of maritime contacts of interest, while recognizing the right of sovereign nations to freely navigate in international waters and visit countries they have agreements with. Freedom of the seas applies to all maritime nations, all navies, everywhere—so long as they understand and comply with internationally-recognized responsibilities that come with that freedom.”

U.S. Military Escalates War Efforts in the Philippines – WSJ

The U.S. military has launched a new counterterrorism mission in the Philippines, making operations there eligible for the same funding used to finance the long-running wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, military officials said.

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PROPAGANDA, CORRUPTION, AUTHORITARIANISM

Facebook to Let Users Rank Credibility of News – The New York Times

The initiative, which follows an overhaul that Facebook announced last week to emphasize posts, videos and photos shared by friends and family, will not increase the amount of news on the social network. But the move has implications for what news will be consumed on Facebook, potentially favoring the most familiar names in media that are seen as the most credible, while tilting away from lesser-known and less-trusted outlets without solving the issue of whether news could still be distorted.

Facebook to Rank News Sources by Quality to Battle Misinformation – WSJ

Facebook plans to start ranking news sources in its feed based on user evaluations of credibility, a major step in its effort to fight false and sensationalist information that will also push the company further into a role it has long sought to avoid—content referee.

Sudan Jails Journalists in New Sign of Repression – The New York Times

The authorities in Sudan arrested seven journalists as they covered economic protests there this week, including reporters for Reuters and Agence France-Presse, with no word on charges or when they might be released. Press advocates said Friday that the arrests, carried out by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service, reflected an increasingly repressive censorship in the vast African nation, where news media independence has long been under assault.

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TRUMP WORLD

‘I’ll give her a week’ to lose the baby weight, Trump said of Melania, months before alleged tryst with Stormy Daniels – The Washington Post

Seven months before an alleged tryst with porn star Stormy Daniels, Donald Trump told radio host Howard Stern that he would give his pregnant wife, Melania, a couple of days — or maybe a week — to regain her model figure after giving birth. “You know, Howard, she’s got the kind of a body and makeup where, about one day after the baby, it’s going to be the same as it was before,” Trump said during an appearance on Stern’s show on Dec. 7, 2005.

President Trump Is Having an Affair ‘Right Now,’ Michael Wolff Tells Bill Maher

There was one story about Trump that he kept hearing, but couldn’t confirm, even by his questionable standards. “I didn’t have the blue dress,” Wolff said, referring to the evidence that damned Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Tabloid held porn star’s 2011 interview after Trump threat

A tabloid magazine held back from publishing an adult film star’s 2011 account of an alleged affair with Donald Trump after the future president’s personal lawyer threatened to sue, four former employees of the tabloid’s publisher told The Associated Press.

Jon Corzine’s New Hedge Fund Eyes Event Wagers Triggered by Trump – Bloomberg

Corzine, 71, whose wide-ranging career includes serving as a U.S. senator and governor from New Jersey, is jumping into the hedge fund industry as it struggles to raise money. His fund will make event-driven and macro trades on the expectation that President Donald Trump’s policies will trigger corporate actions and ripple through asset valuations, the person said. Tax reform could spell stock-price divergence in sub-sectors of the small-cap Russell 2000 Index, spurring deals.

Donald Trump Is Still Their Man – WSJ

Buchanan County provides a window into the world of Mr. Trump’s core supporters, who comprise about 25% of registered voters, according to Wall Street Journal-NBC News polls. The county is whiter, older, more rural and less educated than the U.S. overall. The same is true for Mr. Trump’s supporters nationally.

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TRADE, PROTECTIONISM, REGULATION, OVERSIGHT

China to Be Focus of U.S. Trade Policy This Year, White House Says – WSJ

President Donald Trump’s “America First” trade policy will be more focused in the coming year on countering China, an administration official said. The strategy may emphasize enforcement over negotiations with its leaders.

Mulvaney requests no funding for Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – POLITICO

Every quarter, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau formally requests its operating funds from the Federal Reserve. Last quarter, former director Richard Cordray asked for $217.1 million. Cordray, an appointee of President Barack Obama, needed just $86.6 million the quarter before that. And Wednesday, President Donald Trump’s acting CFPB director, Mick Mulvaney, sent his first request to the Fed. He requested zero.

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ELECTORAL POLITICS

Google Executives Pledge to Scour More Content Ahead of Midterm Elections – Bloomberg

The chief executive officers of Alphabet Inc.’s Google and YouTube pledged to scour videos and other content more closely for misleading news and inappropriate messages on their web services ahead of elections in the U.S later this year.

Retrial of Senator Menendez Adds Twist to Midterm Elections – The New York Times

The Justice Department announced on Friday that it intended to retry Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, two months after a jury deadlocked on federal corruption charges against him. The move means Mr. Menendez will have to defend himself again in a year when he is up for re-election.

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SCANDALS, LAWSUITS, FINES, REGULATORY

Newsweek Raided by Manhattan DA in Long-Running Probe

Investigators for the Manhattan district attorney raided Newsweek’s offices on Thursday, removing 18 computer servers as part of a long-running probe into the company’s finances, according to witnesses. The investigators, armed with a search warrant, took photographs and gathered information about the servers and their capacity, according to sources close to the matter. Throughout the day, investigators were seen closely examining the equipment inside the server room.

One After Another, Athletes Face Larry Nassar and Recount Sexual Abuse – The New York Times

The Olympic gymnasts Jordyn Wieber and Aly Raisman are among dozens of women speaking in a Michigan court this week about sexual abuse from the former team doctor. For four full days this week, in a fluorescent-lighted courtroom here, women and girls — some of them the best gymnasts in the country, others with dreams prematurely crushed, they said, by a man who now sat in handcuffs 10 feet away — leaned into a microphone to address him, sometimes through sobs, sometimes with screams, but always with determination.

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RETAIL APPAREL, SPECIALTY, DINING, BIG BOX

Amazon Has a Plan to Become Profitable. It’s Called Advertising – Bloomberg

Over the past several years, Bezos & Co. have quietly put together the pieces for a marketing platform that lets Amazon make money from the sheer size of its audience. Having bet on Amazon cloud services and pushed the shares past $1,300, investors are now salivating about the ad business, which doesn’t require big investments in new data centers or shipping hubs and generates fat margins.

Amazon raises price of its Prime membership

Amazon has raised the price of its Prime membership for the first time since 2014, upping the fee for consumers who pay monthly by almost a fifth. The service, which charges users a fee to access two-day shipping, free video and music streaming and unlimited storage, has been seen by analysts as a central tool in making the company the key destination for online shoppers.

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MEDIA, CABLE, SPORTS, ENTERTAINMENT

Union Is Formed at Los Angeles Times and Publisher Put on Leave – The New York Times

Journalists at The Los Angeles Times voted overwhelmingly to form a union despite aggressive opposition from the paper’s management team, reversing more than a century of anti-union sentiment at one of the biggest newspapers in the country. Shortly after the final vote count was announced on Friday, The Times’s parent company said that the newspaper’s publisher, Ross Levinsohn, was taking an unpaid leave of absence while a law firm investigated allegations of coarse workplace behavior while he was employed by other companies.

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AUTOS, ELECTRIC, SELF-DRIVING

BMW Alums’ China Electric-Car Maker Seeks $400 Million – Bloomberg

Byton, the Chinese electric-car startup founded by former BMW AG executives, is seeking about $400 million in a new round of funding, people with knowledge of the matter said. The Nanjing-based company, which showcased a concept car at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month, has been reaching out to potential investors to gauge their interest, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

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AIRLINES, SHIPPERS, RAIL, TRANSPORTS

Delta Air Lines Tightens Rules for Service and Support Animals – The New York Times

Delta Air Lines said on Friday that it was tightening its rules for transporting service and support animals in an effort to reduce misbehavior by dogs and other creatures that air carriers are required by law to allow on board. Service dogs are specially trained to aid people with disabilities. Emotional support animals provide comfort and companionship to their owners and do not require coaching.

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AEROSPACE, MILITARY & DEFENSE

Jim Mattis warns US losing military edge

“Great power competition — not terrorism — is now the primary focus of US national security,” said Mr Mattis, who warned against the rise of authoritarianism. “Our competitive edge has eroded in every domain of warfare — air, land, sea, space, and cyber space — and it is continuing to erode.”

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ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, DRONES, FUTURE TECH

Microsoft Says AI Advances Will Require New Laws, Regulations – Bloomberg

Companies making and selling AI software will need to be held responsible for potential harm caused by “unreasonable practices” – if a self-driving car program is set up in an unsafe manner that causes injury or death, for example, Microsoft said. And as AI and automation boost the number of laborers in the gig-economy or on-demand jobs, Microsoft said technology companies need to take responsibility and advocate for protections and benefits for workers, rather than passing the buck by claiming to be “just the technology platform’’ enabling all this change.

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MISCELLANEOUS

British 15-year-old gained access to intelligence operations in Afghanistan and Iran by pretending to be head of CIA, court hears

A 15-year-old gained access to plans for intelligence operations in Afghanistan and Iran by pretending to be the head of the CIA to gain access to his computers, a court has heard. From the bedroom of the Leicestershire home he shared with his mother, Kane Gamble used “social engineering” – where a person builds up a picture of information and uses it manipulate others into handing over more – to access the personal and work accounts of some of America’s most powerful spy chiefs .

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