Macro Links Oct 5th – “Moron”
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MACRO LINKS TABLE OF CONTENTS (Click or Scroll Down)
- LAS VEGAS AFTERMATH
- PUERTO RICO
- VLADIMIR PUTIN
- RUSSIA PROBE
- RUSSIAN ACTIVE MEASURES
- CATALAN SECESSION
- RATES, LIQUIDITY, SYSTEMIC RISK, BALANCE SHEETS
- CENTRAL BANKS & MONETARY POLICY
- USA ECONOMY DATA, CITIES AND STATES
- GLOBAL ECONOMY DATA
- FOREX, CRYPTOCURRENCY, EXCHANGE IMPACTS
- REAL ESTATE, HOUSING, REITS, COMMERCIAL
- ENERGY CRUDE OIL, OIL SANDS, SHALE
- ENERGY RENEWABLES, NUCLEAR
- BREXIT, SCOXIT, LONDON, UK ECONOMY
- GEOPOLITICS, CRIME, TERRORISM
- TRUMP WORLD
- TRADE, PROTECTIONISM, REGULATION, OVERSIGHT
- ELECTORAL POLITICS
- SCANDALS, LAWSUITS, FINES, REGULATORY
- SILICON VALLEY, UNICORNS, STARTUPS, VC
- CONSUMER TECH, SOCIAL MEDIA, E-COMMERCE, MOBILE
- AUTOS, ELECTRIC, SELF-DRIVING
- ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, DRONES, FUTURE TECH
- HEALTH, PRODUCTIVITY AND WELLNESS
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday did not deny that he called President Donald Trump a “moron,” amid a bombshell report that his relationship with Trump has been rocky since early in the summer.
As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took to the microphones Wednesday morning to address reports that he had called his boss, President Donald Trump, a “fucking moron,” aides in the White House held out hope that he would offer his resignation.
Tillerson didn’t deny having questioned the president’s intellectual capacities. But he insisted that he wasn’t going anywhere either, much to the chagrin of three White House officials who vented to The Daily Beast in real time about how they wished he would “just leave,” as one put it.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday he has not contemplated resigning his job and praised President Donald Trump’s foreign policy, after a report that he called Mr. Trump a “moron” and nearly quit.
The tensions came to a head around the time President Donald Trump delivered a politicized speech in late July to the Boy Scouts of America, an organization Tillerson once led, the officials said. Just days earlier, Tillerson had openly disparaged the president, referring to him as a “moron,” after a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon with members of Trump’s national security team and Cabinet officials, according to three officials familiar with the incident.
The original report sent Trump into a fury this morning, a White House official said, and Tillerson moved with corporate efficiency to tamp it down. Cable networks interrupted programming for his remarks, the highest-profile public appearance to date by the former ExxonMobil CEO, who has played a surprisingly quiet — and at times awkward — role in Trump’s Cabinet.
While Trump was expressing “total confidence” in Tillerson by midafternoon, the episode further complicated perhaps the most fraught relationship between a president and a secretary of state ever seen. It also comes at a precarious moment for Trump’s foreign policy team as it navigates the twin diplomatic challenges of the Iran nuclear deal and North Korea’s atomic program.
If Mr. Tillerson had hoped to douse questions about how long he would stay, he instead further fueled a debate about his future. Although he insisted he had never considered resigning, several people close to Mr. Tillerson said he has had to be talked out of drafting a letter of resignation on more than one occasion by his closest allies, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff. And they said he has regularly expressed astonishment at how little Mr. Trump understands the basics of foreign policy.
LAS VEGAS AFTERMATH
Mr. Trump has been uncharacteristically subdued about the Las Vegas shooting, one of the deadliest in American history. He has said little about it on Twitter and deflected questions about the killer’s motives, in contrast to previous mass shootings, which have drawn quick, furious reactions from him, particularly when the attackers were Muslim.
At least three AR-15-style rifles were visible on the floor and on the furniture, along with at least a dozen high-capacity magazines, which can hold up to 100 rounds. (A standard American infantry soldier’s magazine is 30 rounds.)
Two of the rifles were outfitted with medium-magnification scopes and two-legged supports, known as bipods, attached to the undersides of the weapons. These additions would have helped Mr. Paddock target specific individuals.
The video poker machines that Stephen Paddock liked were the ones that did not draw attention. They had few look-at-me flashing lights or listen-to-me bells. He would sit in front of them for hours, often wagering more than $100 a hand. The way he played — instinctually, decisively, calculatingly, silently, with little movement beyond his shifting eyes and nimble fingers — meant he could play several hundred hands an hour. Casino hosts knew him well.
“Not a lot of smiles and friendliness,” said John Weinreich, who was an executive casino host at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, Nev., where Mr. Paddock was once a regular and where he met his girlfriend. “There was not a lot of body movement except for his hands.”
“I knew Stephen Paddock as a kind, caring, quiet man,” Marilou Danley, Paddock’s girlfriend, said in a statement read by her attorney. “He never said anything to me or took any action that I was aware of that I understood in any way to be a warning that something horrible like this was going to happen.”
“It never occurred to me in any way whatsoever that he was planning violence against anyone,” she said Wednesday in her first public comments since the shooting.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a longtime advocate of stricter gun control measures, introduced a bill Wednesday that would ban the sale and possession of bump-stock equipment and other devices that essentially turn a semiautomatic weapon into an automatic one.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) told reporters Tuesday that multiple bump stocks were found in the hotel room used by the shooter, who opened fire during the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on Sunday, killing 58 people and injuring over 500 others.
For a generation, Republicans in Congress — often joined by conservative Democrats — have bottled up gun legislation, even as the carnage of mass shootings grew ever more gruesome and the weaponry ever more deadly. A decade ago, they blocked efforts to limit the size of magazines after the massacre at Virginia Tech. Five years later, Republican leaders thwarted bipartisan legislation to expand background checks of gun purchasers after the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
Last year, in the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre, they blocked legislation to stop gun sales to buyers on terrorism watch lists.
But in this week’s massacre in Las Vegas, lawmakers in both parties may have found the part of the weapons trade that few could countenance: previously obscure gun conversion kits, called “bump stocks,” that turn semiautomatic weapons into weapons capable of firing in long, deadly bursts.
Short of installing metal detectors at all the many entrances, or individually searching arriving bags, it may be nearly impossible to prevent visitors from carrying weapons into facilities like the Mandalay Bay, security experts say.
“Because of the open nature of casinos and hotels, it’s almost impossible to do the search you do at an airport,” said Ed Davis, who was the police commissioner in Boston during the Boston Marathon bombing and is now an adviser to the American Gaming Association, the casino industry group. “Unfortunately, Las Vegas is a big soft target,” Mr. Davis said, “and the fact that it hasn’t happened here before is a miracle.”
Establishments like those in Las Vegas where tourists and locals can shoot military-grade weapons underscore how deeply the gun culture is embedded with many Americans and the challenges President Donald Trump and other politicians face when they try to change gun laws. U.S. Representative John Lewis, the Georgia Democrat, and former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, a gunshot victim, are among those who called for tighter regulation.
“If you want to add to your once in lifetime experiences, put Battlefield Vegas on your ‘Bucket list,’” Anthony W., a visitor from Oakland, California, raved on Yelp.com last month. He chose the “D-Day package” which included firing a Thompson submachine gun and said, “I’ll be going back soon for another experience.”
The troubled island’s bond prices plunged Wednesday after the president said the U.S. would wipe out its billions in debt, and creditors braced for a bigger haircut than expected.
A benchmark Puerto Rico bond fell to record lows Wednesday after President Donald Trump said the US territory’s debt would have to be written off. “You know they owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News on Tuesday. “We’re gonna have to wipe that out … You can say goodbye to that. I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs, but whoever it is, you can wave goodbye to that.”
Puerto Rico faces a government shutdown on Oct. 31, including halting its hurricane recovery, if Congress doesn’t provide billions in emergency funds, said Treasury Secretary Raul Maldonado.
While Puerto Rican bonds tanked, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney tried to walk Trump’s comments back during a CNN interview on Wednesday morning. Asked if Trump’s comments should be taken seriously, Mulvaney said “I wouldn’t take it word for word with that,” adding that he talked to the president about the situation after he conducted his interview with Rivera.
“He was insulting to the people of Puerto Rico,” San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz said, appearing on MSNBC. “He said something like, ‘Puerto Rico, you really have taken our budget out of whack because of all the money we’ve thrown here.’ He kind of minimized our suffering here by saying that Katrina was a real disaster, sort of implying that this was not a real disaster, because not many people have died here. Well, you know what? They’re dying.”
Mexico said Wednesday it will send aid to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico — a day after President Donald Trump’s disastrous visit to the U.S. territory during which he complained to victims that catastrophic damage to their island had thrown his budget “out of whack.” The Mexican government said it would send 30 tons of bottled water and mosquito repellent, plus experts in power generation, transmission and distribution, Reuters reports.
President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that a military strike against North Korea designed to destroy its nuclear and missile program might not succeed because Pyongyang could have hidden military facilities that nobody knows about.
“Can a global strike against North Korea be launched to disarm it? Yes. Will it achieve its aim? We don’t know. Who knows what they have there and where. Nobody knows with 100 percent certainty as it’s a closed country.”
President Vladimir Putin said Russia is open to extending a deal with OPEC to curb oil supplies to the end of 2018, though he’ll wait to make a decision until nearer the expiry of the existing pact in March.
The comments are the strongest signal yet that the Kremlin is willing to redouble efforts to lift global energy prices, coming as Putin prepares to welcome King Salman Bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia to Russia for the first time this week. OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo called them a “very strong endorsement” of the deal.
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said on Wednesday that relations with America had “become hostage to the internal political situation in the U.S.,” but that his country had “many friends” in the United States who can help improve relations between the two nations when the political tensions in America settle down.
“Certain forces use the Russian-American ties to solve internal political problems in the U.S.,” Mr. Putin said at a high-profile energy development forum in Moscow. “We are patiently waiting until this process in the internal political life in America will end.”
Facebook Inc. is pledging greater transparency about who’s behind election-related ads online. For years, the company fought to avoid it. Since 2011, Facebook has asked the Federal Election Commission for blanket exemptions from political advertising disclosure rules — transparency that could have helped it avoid the current crisis over Russian ad spending ahead of the 2016 U.S. election.
The special counsel investigating whether Russia tried to sway the 2016 U.S. election has taken over FBI inquiries into a former British spy’s dossier of allegations of Russian financial and personal links to President Donald Trump’s campaign and associates, sources familiar with the inquiry told Reuters.
As federal authorities investigate former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s controversial ties to Russia, his estranged son-in-law is accusing him of conspiring to mislead a federal bankruptcy court about real estate investments.
Jeffrey Yohai made the allegation on Sept. 28 in a case that centers on four troubled California real estate investments that collectively total millions of dollars. Manafort’s daughter, Jessica, filed for divorce from Yohai in March. Yohai’s legal declaration alleged that Manafort and other parties in the cases “have all conspired to mislead this court … as to their true intentions and motivations.”
RUSSIAN ACTIVE MEASURES
The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee delivered a stark warning on Wednesday to political candidates: Expect Russian operatives to remain active and determined to again try to sow chaos in elections next month and next year.
At a rare news conference, Senators Richard M. Burr, Republican of North Carolina and the committee’s chairman, and Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia and its vice chairman, broadly endorsed the conclusions of American spy agencies that said President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia directed a campaign of hacking and propaganda to disrupt the 2016 presidential election.
“The Russian intelligence service is determined — clever — and I recommend that every campaign and every election official take this very seriously,” Mr. Burr said.
“You can’t walk away from this and believe that Russia’s not currently active,” he added.
Russia is hacking the smartphones of NATO troops in Europe in a cyber campaign to gauge military strength, gain insight into operations and intimidate soldiers, according to a report Wednesday.
US and Western officials say they have no doubt the Kremlin is behind the hacking operation because of its high level of coordination and its use of sophisticated drones with surveillance equipment that are beyond what civilians can acquire, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The crisis in Catalonia poses a bigger threat to the EU than Brexit, a senior MEP warned Wednesday as the European Parliament prepared to hold an emergency debate on Spain’s worst political crisis in decades. Catalonia’s leader has vowed to declare independence within days, claiming a mandate from a weekend referendum which was declared illegal by Madrid and the Spanish courts and marred by violence.
In a sign that the Spanish king’s intervention on Tuesday night did little to calm one of the most severe political crises since the country’s return to democracy in the 1970s, Mr Puigdemont lashed out at the monarch late on Wednesday and called the central government “irresponsible” for not accepting mediation in the political crisis.
King Felipe took an uncompromising line in a rare address to the nation on Tuesday that mimicked that of hardliners in the ruling centre-right Popular party government. He accused the separatist Catalan government of flouting the law and seeking to “break the unity of Spain”.
Mireia Boya, a Catalan lawmaker from the pro-independence Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) party, said a declaration of independence would follow a parliamentary session on Monday to evaluate the results of the Oct. 1 vote to break away.
Sunday’s referendum on independence, which was illegal under Spanish law, saw 2m Catalans vote to break away from Spain. The region’s separatist government said this gave them a mandate to declare independence as early as this weekend.
A declaration of independence would likely prompt the Spanish government to attempt to suspend the region’s autonomy, leading to a political and constitutional crisis. Spain’s finance ministry has said if Catalonia were independent the regional economy could shrink 30 per cent.
“About 3.5m Catalans are not in favour of independence, or at least not in the current way,” says Miquel Iceta, leader of the Catalan Socialist party, which opposes secession. “To get to independence you have to at least get the majority of votes. And the pro-independence parties haven’t got a majority of votes. So why are they trying to impose independence on a majority that doesn’t want it?”
A top European Union official backed member states’ use of force to uphold order, three days after an illegal independence referendum in Spain’s Catalan region led to a police crackdown on voters, including several hundred injuries.
RATES, LIQUIDITY, SYSTEMIC RISK, BALANCE SHEETS
JPMorgan has already coined a nickname for the next financial meltdown. And while the firm isn’t sure exactly when the so-called Great Liquidity Crisis will strike, it figures that tensions will start to ratchet up in 2018, once the Federal Reserve starts to unwind its massive balance sheet.
If a reversal of unprecedented monetary easing does, in fact, spur a market crash, it would be cruel twist of irony. After all, it was that same stimulus that helped rescue global markets from the abyss back in 2008, when the most recent crisis hit.
Speaking of that meltdown, JPMorgan is quick to point out that it too was caused by a collapse in liquidity. That time, however, the squeeze was catalyzed by banks underwriting mortgage-backed securities that turned out to be lethal for the market.
Trading of European stocks on dark markets will probably triple as a result of the MiFID II overhaul, the opposite of what the architects of the law intended, as the new rules give some venues flexibility in how they price shares.
What will drive the flow is a new type of trading venue that has sprung up in preparation for MiFID’s crackdown on dark pools. They’re called systematic internalizers, or SIs — platforms run by banks and algorithmic trading firms like XTX, and which Gerko says will account for the bulk of equity trades that move to the dark. SIs are seen winning trades from public venues like stock exchanges because the new rules give them greater flexibility in how they price stocks.
CENTRAL BANKS & MONETARY POLICY
“I actually have a very non-consensus point of view. I think it’s going to be Neel Kashkari,” the the CEO of DoubleLine Capital told the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit on Tuesday in Los Angeles. “He happens to be the most easy money guy that’s in the Federal Reserve system today and that’s why he may win.”
Warsh, 47, is one of four people reported to be on President Donald Trump’s short list of potential nominees to lead the U.S. central bank. Warsh, however, stands out as the only contender to draw criticism from conservatives as well as liberals aimed at stopping his bid for the job. Some of that opposition may have been spurred by his public attacks on the Fed itself.
“There is a fair body of public comments by Warsh that are contrary to the institution,” said Mark Spindel, author of a new book on Fed independence. “He seemed to be fighting for less, not more during the crisis. He seemed to be worried about inflation the way some of the right-wing members of Congress talked about it. Those chickens may be coming home to roost.”
Central bankers are steering the economy without the benefit of a reliable theory of what drives inflation, a former top Federal Reserve policymaker said, as he called for policymakers to pay less attention to theoretical models and more to actual data.
Daniel Tarullo, who left the US central bank’s board of governors earlier this year, said economists displayed a paradoxical faith in the usefulness of unobservable concepts such as the natural rate of unemployment or neutral real rate of interest, even as they expressed doubts about how robust those concepts were.
He was particularly doubtful about the weight inflation expectations play in rate-setting policy, given the “range and depth of unanswered questions” about how they are formed and measured. “The substantive point is that we do not, at present, have a theory of inflation dynamics that works sufficiently well to be of use for the business of real-time monetary policymaking,” said Mr Tarullo in a speech at the Brookings think-tank in Washington.
He reportedly has six candidates, but the choice is really binary: Is he happy with how the Fed has run monetary policy? Or does he think it’s broken and badly needs fixing? Of the six, two represent continuity, two promise disruption, and two are mysteries.
USA ECONOMY DATA, CITIES AND STATES
Even as Chicago’s population shrinks, the city is becoming notably wealthier and better educated, both in absolute and relative terms compared to other cities and the country as a whole, newly available U.S. Census figures show.
Combined with other data, the continuing tale-of-two-cities story suggests large numbers of lower-income African-Americans are fleeing Chicago even as somewhat lesser numbers of better-educated and higher-earning whites, Asians and blacks are coming in. That’s leaving the city better off in some ways than it was a decade ago, but smaller.
“This is an aging industrial city. To have it as the most educated city in the top five nationally is a remarkable development,” says Ed Zotti, a demographer who workers for the Central Area Committee and crunched the data.
A measure of service-sector activity across the U.S. picked up in September to a 12-year high, signaling resilience in the sector powering the bulk of the U.S. economy despite recent hurricanes.
The Institute for Supply Management on Wednesday said its index of nonmanufacturing activity—tracking industries including health care, finance, agriculture and construction—rose to 59.8 in September from 55.3 in August. This marks the highest reading since August 2005, when the index registered 61.3.
GLOBAL ECONOMY DATA
Retail sales declined across the euro area for the second straight month in August, signaling a warning to the European Central Bank as it considers a reduction in its stimulus measures from early 2018.
Wednesday’s data was a surprise to economists who had forecasts sales would rebound by 0.4% from their 0.3% decline in July. It was the largest month-to-month drop since March 2016.
Retail sales fell across the 19-country currency union, affecting Germany, with its strong jobs market, almost as much as France, with its high unemployment rate.
The data are likely to concern some ECB policy makers, since a cooling labor market and a greater reluctance among households to spend suggest consumer inflation is unlikely to accelerate over the coming months. The central bank’s sole remit is to have an inflation rate of just below 2% over the medium term.
“This better result should be seen as a one-off,” Finance Minister Steven Joyce said in a statement. The increase should be “interpreted with caution, and not seen as automatically flowing through into higher surpluses than forecast in the years ahead,” he said.
FOREX, CRYPTOCURRENCY, EXCHANGE IMPACTS
As China widens a crackdown on exchanges and attempts to limit private trading venues for digital currencies, clandestine sales pitches seeking as much as $100,000 per investor are taking place away out of regulators’ sight, according to investors and traders. Some of the activity that used to take place on widely accessible online platforms is shifting to low-profile offices and online messaging services, as digital-currency promoters and investors try to get around the new curbs.
A cryptocurrency firm co-founded by U.S. rapper Ghostface Killah hopes to raise $30 million in a digital coin sale. Cream Capital said Wednesday it would raise the funds through an initial coin offering (ICO) — a method of crowdfunding that has been met with much scrutiny from regulators recently.
It claims it was co-founded by the rapper, who is a prominent member of hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan. Ghostface Killah is the latest in a long line of celebrities — from Paris Hilton to Jamie Foxx — who have put their names behind ICOs and crypto ventures.
REAL ESTATE, HOUSING, REITS, COMMERCIAL
The scrapped sale of The Excelsior hotel in Causeway Bay may have been a “reality check” in a heated Hong Kong property market, according to Irene Lee, chairman of Hysan Development Co. Describing the property market as “quite hot,” Lee said developers needed to be sensible and not get “carried away.” At the same time, she expects an “adjustment” or a “normalization,” not a 1997-style property crash, adding that Hysan will continue to bid for residential sites when “the numbers work for us.”
Home ownership among young Australians has fallen to the lowest level on record, as an explosive property boom squeezes out all but the wealthiest. Supercharged by record low interest rates, a lack of supply and a tax system that favors property investors, home prices have surged more than 140 percent in the past 15 years, propelling Sydney past London and New York to rank as the world’s second-most expensive housing market. Melbourne, ranked the world’s most livable city the past seven years by the Economist Intelligence Unit, is now the planet’s sixth-most expensive place to buy a house.
ENERGY CRUDE OIL, OIL SANDS, SHALE
US exports of crude oil have leapt to a new high of nearly 2m barrels per day, a landmark figure for a country that banned most exports just two years ago. The shipments have been reaching customers in Canada, Europe and increasingly Asia, breaking into markets prized by the Opec cartel. Combined exports of crude and refined fuels such as petrol and diesel have also pushed the US’s net petroleum imports to the lowest levels on record.
ENERGY RENEWABLES, NUCLEAR
Solar power grew faster than any other source of fuel for the first time in 2016, the International Energy Agency said in a report suggesting the technology will dominate renewables in the years ahead.
“What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar PV,” Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, said in a statement accompanying the report published on Wednesday in Paris. “We expect that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology through 2022.”
BREXIT, SCOXIT, LONDON, UK ECONOMY
Ireland’s horseracing business relies on longstanding agreements that allow the tariff-free and unfettered movement of thousands of horses between the UK and Ireland. Britain’s exit from the EU has called these arrangements into question, and the uncertain outlook for the Brexit negotiations in Brussels, and infighting in the British government, have plunged the industry into a state of anxiety.
“The two industries are completely interlinked . . . Ireland and Britain operate as one,” says Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland, the Irish governing body for the sport. “Brexit has challenged the fundamentals we had taken for granted.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May suffered bouts of coughing, a prankster on stage and falling scenery as she struggled to deliver closing remarks aimed at uniting the Conservative Party around her.
As journalists covered their eyes in embarrassment, the party faithful did all they could to get her through it. When her voice gave way, they rallied round her, clapping and cheering on their feet to give her time to take a cough sweet from the chancellor. May, much-criticized for her habit of sticking rigidly to her scripts, even managed to be light on her feet, quipping that she had just been given something from the chancellor for free.
Wanda founder Wang Jianlin has cut back his Hollywood ambitions, including dropping a key project to produce awards-caliber films in-house, after his company came under fire from Beijing for costly overseas acquisitions.
Wanda sent representatives to Los Angeles last month for meetings with studios to assure them that Wanda is still in the game, according to people who met with them. But executives say privately that they wonder if the conglomerate will be allowed to resume its Hollywood pursuits with the same gusto it displayed before the government crackdown.
GEOPOLITICS, CRIME, TERRORISM
Three members of the US Special Operations Forces were killed and two others were wounded in southwest Niger near the Mali-Niger border when a joint US-Nigerien patrol was attacked Wednesday, two administration officials told CNN.
The US President Donald Trump described Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the harder side to convince in his efforts to mediate between the Israelis and Palestinians, according to well-placed sources.
A Western diplomat who was briefed on Trump’s comments, which came during a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York, told Haaretz that “Trump said both leaders are problematic.”
“But the general context was that from the two of them, Netanyahu is the bigger problem.” The Israeli paper said that the claim was backed up by seven Western and Israeli sources who were either present at or briefed on the meeting.
New York prosecutors were preparing a case. Then the D.A. overruled his staff after a visit from a top donor: Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz. Three months after the meeting, he told them to drop the case. Kasowitz subsequently boasted to colleagues about representing the Trump children, according to two people. He said that the case was “really dangerous,” one person said, and that it was “amazing I got them off.” (Kasowitz denied making such a statement.)
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, senior advisers to President Donald Trump, were each fined $200 for missing deadlines to submit required financial reports; it’s Kushner’s second offense.
Americans are increasingly confident in the news media and less so in President Donald Trump’s administration after a tumultuous year in U.S. politics that tested the public’s trust in both institutions, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Tuesday.
U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry took a chartered jet to Ohio last week, according to an airport management company, the day before fellow Cabinet member Tom Price resigned over his use of private charter flights for government business.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is under investigation by two federal agencies for a speech he made to a NHL hockey team this summer, according to a new report Wednesday.
The Interior Department’s office of inspector general is now including Zinke’s use of a private jet to travel after the speech to its review of Zinke’s use of chartered and military planes, CNN reported.
The Office of Special Counsel is also investigating Zinke for a potential violation of the Hatch Act related to the speech. The Hatch Act blocks federal employees from using their positions for political purposes.
TRADE, PROTECTIONISM, REGULATION, OVERSIGHT
The top U.S. and Korean trade officials agreed on a path to make changes to the countries’ five-year-old trade pact, although neither side specified side specified what changes would be sought.
The Trump administration has joined a group of countries objecting to a deal between the UK and EU to divide valuable agricultural import quotas, in a sign of how the US and others plan to use Brexit to force the UK to further open its sensitive market for farm products.
President Donald Trump has been one of the most prominent international backers of Brexit and has vowed quickly to negotiate a “beautiful trade deal” with the UK after it leaves the EU.
But his administration’s objection to a preliminary plan, agreed to by Brussels and London over how to split the EU’s existing “tariff rate quotas” under World Trade Organisation rules after the UK assumes its own WTO obligations following Brexit, illustrates how Washington is likely to drive a hard bargain.
The Facebook page belonging to Roy Moore, the Republican nominee for US Senate in Alabama, in February included a shared image of a group of black men standing on a destroyed police car during the 2015 Baltimore riots.
SCANDALS, LAWSUITS, FINES, REGULATORY
Harvey Weinstein has hired a high-powered team of attorneys to push back on soon-to-be-published bombshell stories from the New York Times and the New Yorker detailing sexual allegations and improper workplace behavior against him. Some women making the charges are believed to be on the record.
SILICON VALLEY, UNICORNS, STARTUPS, VC
Most executives talk about AI like it’s just another thing that’s included in the box or in its cloud; it’s a buzzword, a tick box on a spec sheet slotted in right after the processor. But Pichai is intent on pressing Google’s advantage in AI — not just by integrating AI features into every product it makes, but by making products that are themselves inspired by AI, products that wouldn’t be conceivable without it.
There’s no better example of that than Google Clips, a tiny little camera that automatically captures seven-second moving photos of things it finds “interesting.” It’s a new way to think about photography, one that leverages Google’s ability to do lots of different AI tasks: recognize faces, recognize “bad” photos, recognize “interesting” content. It’s simply applied to your own pictures instead of content on the internet.
CONSUMER TECH, SOCIAL MEDIA, E-COMMERCE, MOBILE
Brussels is stepping up efforts to make Amazon and Apple pay taxes in Europe, reigniting transatlantic tensions in a wider EU crackdown on avoidance by big multinational companies. Amazon has been ordered to pay about €250m for back taxes in Luxembourg after benefiting from illegal state aid, while the European Commission’s competition watchdog will force Ireland to collect €13bn in taxes owed by Apple by taking the case to the European Court of Justice.
The Seattle-based retail giant is now the top recruiter at the business schools of Carnegie Mellon University, Duke University and University of California, Berkeley. It is the biggest internship destination for first-year M.B.A.s at the University of Michigan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dartmouth College and Duke. Amazon took in more interns from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business than either Bain & Co. or McKinsey & Co., which were until recently among the school’s top hirers of interns, according to Madhav Rajan, Booth’s dean.
All told, Amazon has hired some 1,000 M.B.A.s in the past year, according to Miriam Park, Amazon’s director of university programs—a drop in the bucket for a company that plans to add 50,000 software developers in the next year. But Amazon’s flood-the-zone approach to recruiting and hiring future M.B.A.s—in some cases before they have taken a single business-school course—is feeding the career frenzy on campus and rankling some rival recruiters.
AUTOS, ELECTRIC, SELF-DRIVING
The Europe Union’s biggest economy may be warming to the creation of bloc-wide battery consortium to take on the likes of Tesla Inc. and Panasonic Corp.
German industrial and automotive giants including BASF SE and BMW AG have been invited to a meeting in Brussels on Oct. 11 being led by the European Union’s top energy official, Maros Sefcovic, who has pledged as much as 2.2 billion euros ($2.6 billion) for battery development. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government welcomed the talks aimed at creating a European battery consortium, which was first reported by the Financial Times.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, DRONES, FUTURE TECH
At an event Wednesday at the SFJAZZ Center here, the tech giant unveiled the second generation of its line of hardware devices it introduced last year, including its Pixel smartphone and Google Home speaker, touting technology upgrades and sleeker designs.
The new launches followed a mixed first year for Google’s renewed hardware push. The devices received generally positive reviews, but the Pixel was hit by supply shortages and captured a tiny share of the market in the U.S. and abroad. Google Home put a small dent in the market share of Amazon’s Echo competitor.
A subsidiary of Google parent Alphabet Inc. GOOGL Is nearing a deal to develop part of Toronto’s waterfront, the first major foray of the search-engine giant into the creation of high-tech urban space, according to multiple people familiar with the deal.
Alphabet’s unit, Sidewalk Labs LLC, would spearhead the so-called digital-city project, to be located along a 12-acre section of Toronto’s eastern waterfront. It would create up to 3 million square feet, about the size of the Empire State Building.
Google’s Pixel Buds are essentially the company’s answer to Apple’s AirPods. They’re earbuds that connect to a smartphone–in this case, the Pixel–via Bluetooth. At $159, they’re priced exactly the same as AirPods.
But, because they pair with the Pixel smartphone, and thus Google’s software, the headphones can do something Apple’s headphones can’t do: Translate spoken language in real time.
The operation is performed using Google Translate, which is built into the Google Pixel. The wearer taps the right earbud and says something like, “Help me speak Spanish,” and Google gets to work. A person standing nearby can speak out loud in Spanish, and the earbuds will give the wearer the English translation in her ear. She can then hold down her right earbud and speak in English, and her phone will project the Spanish translation from the Pixel’s speaker. The live translation begins only a second or two after the person stops speaking.
HEALTH, PRODUCTIVITY AND WELLNESS
Because we can never have enough reasons to keep exercising, a new study with mice finds that physical activity not only increases the number of new neurons in the brain, it also subtly changes the shape and workings of these cells in ways that might have implications for memory and even delaying the onset of dementia.
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