NATO, Wellness, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Holmes, Idris Elba, Formula E

MRD July.png

What I am watching today = April 12, 2019

Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia 

News + Analysis at the Intersection of Globalization + Disruption + Politics


✔️ Arab Spring 2.0

✔️ For NATO, China is the new Russia

✔️ Who comes to the rescue of stranded robots?

✔️ Buttigieg is the hottest thing in politics. Can it last?

✔️ Uber warns it may never make profit


A second North African autocrat is on the verge of being felled this month by massive popular protests: Call it Arab Spring 2.0.

NATO to enhance security in the Black Sea region: UK Defence Journal reportts, NATO Foreign Ministers agreed a package of measures to improve situational awareness in the Black Sea region and strengthen support for partners Georgia and Ukraine. 

For NATO, China is the new Russia: Politico reports, Beijing, rather than Moscow, was the top concern as the alliance gathered in Washington early this month. 

Military drills in Arctic aim to counter Russia, but the first mission is to battle the cold: NYT reports, bitter temperatures pose an immediate threat to NATO troops defending icy waterways.

Indonesia unrest: The former special forces commander taking on President Joko Widodo in next week’s election has vowed to tap into a “tsunami” of discontent he says is building across the country. As Bloomberg reports, Prabowo Subianto has challenged tens of thousands of supporters at rallies to reject the April 17 result if the president wins a second five-year term, setting the stage for a disputed poll and possible mass protests.

Malaysia to resume China-built Belt and Road rail project: FT reports, Beijing agrees to cut cost by a third to break year-long impasse.

Japan’s population decline accelerates: FT reports, country set to lose equivalent of a midsize city every year for foreseeable future.

As China trade war cools, Japan braces for its clash with Trump: Bloomberg reports, the world’s third-biggest economy has a lot at stake in the talks, which are expected to start next week in Washington just as the U.S.’s negotiations with China appear to be winding down. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is desperate to avoid tariffs or quotas on lucrative auto exports, while Trump wants to crack open Japan’s agricultural market and reduce a $60 billion trade deficit.

Millions of Chinese youth 'volunteers' to be sent to villages in echo of Maoist policy: Guardian reports, Communist Youth League students to ‘spread civilization’ in countryside and ‘promote technology.’

David Hoffman: What’s missing from the US-China trade deal: The only way to truly change Chinese commercial behavior is to open up the country to full and unhindered foreign competition. 

Theresa May could bring forward Brexit bill to break deadlockon deal: The Times reports, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn agreed last night to press on with Brexit talks as the prime minister spelt out a new route to reaching a deal in the Commons. The party leaders held a short meeting in parliament after Mrs May updated MPs on the latest Brexit delay.

The Times: Jacob Rees-Mogg’s sister to stand for Farage’s Brexit Party

Annunziata Rees-Mogg told the party’s launch in Coventry that she had been a member of the Conservatives since 1984 but that Brexit was a “fight we must win”. Last year Mr Rees-Mogg was quoted describing his younger sister as “my Brexit conscience who ensures I do not go soft”.

Roger Cohen: Brexit heads for that riveting black hole: Brexit could still happen. But for the first time the odds on it happening are no better than even.

Brexit exposes painful disconnect between England and Britain: The split can be traced back to the Blair government’s election in 1997 on a commitment to parcel out powers.
Can Brexit Britain still laugh at itself? The British pride themselves on their GSOH — but what happens when politicians are in on the joke?

Greece eyes 16+1 group of China and eastern European states: FT reports, move comes in spite of European Commission’s branding of China as ‘systemic rival.’

The move comes as the European Commission branded Beijing a “systemic rival” and was alarmed by Italy’s decision to become the first G7 country to endorse the Belt and Road Initiative, China’s global infrastructure investment drive. 


Digital-native retailers are giving physical stores a radical makeover: Online brands are opening brick-and-mortar shops, using technology and data-driven customer insights to transform the in-store experience.

The best brands work seamlessly offline and online.

Who comes to the rescue of stranded robots? Humans: Food-delivery robots are everywhere, but they often need some help from softhearted humans when their navigation goes awry.

The basic questions about universal basic income: After years of hype, UBI could become a large-scale reality. But first, policymakers and businesses will have to address fundamental implementation issues.

Why successful men are meditating and trading beer for green juice: WSJ reports, wellness—the umbrella term for everything from meditation to yoga to moringa oil—is no longer just for women. Increasingly men (and businesses) are getting juiced about holistic health.

Wellness was a Brigadoon Sundance 2019 topic, just sayin'. 


Sabato's Crystal Ball: Frontloaded primary schedule suggests the possibility of an early Democratic knockout

-- The size of the Democratic field, combined with the party’s proportional allocation of delegates and other factors, raises the possibility of a very long nomination process that may not be decided until the convention.

-- However, the voting calendar is so frontloaded that a nominee may emerge relatively early in the process.

Trump 2020 challengers dodge wall street and corporate donors: The money race in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary is more Walmart than Tiffany so far. The biggest war chests mostly have been amassed in increments of $200 or less, and primarily online, Bloomberg reports. Candidates are making a virtue of the modesty of their average donation -- as low as $20 -- while swearing off deep-pocketed donors, who are increasingly a liability with their base. 

LAT: Mayor Pete Buttigieg is the hottest thing in politics. Can it last? 


Elizabeth Holmes’ failed Theranos was just granted 5 new patents in 2019: CB Insights reports, after being accused of years of fraud, Theranos officially shut down in September 2018. But in March of this year — and just a few months after its death — the company was granted its first blood-testing patent of 2019. Since then, Theranos has been granted 4 additional patents.

Chevron is acquiring independent exploration company Anadarko in a $33 billion deal.

Move is most significant consolidation since period of weaker oil prices began in 2014. is rolling out wide-scale layoffs and closing most offices abroad to cut costs to cope with a slowing economy and rising competition. 

Disney unveils streaming service aimed at undercutting Netflix: FT reports, CEO Bob Iger expects five years of losses in bid to catch up with high-tech rivals.

Uber maintains heavy spending to keep rivals at bay: FT reports, ride-hailing app’s ‘winner-takes-all’ strategy will continue to cost billions.

Data from Uber’s IPO prospectus:

Uber will offer ample employment opportunities for lawyers for years to come. Among the legal risks it points to: “a number of inquiries, investigations, and requests for information” coming from the US Department of Justice, along with other agencies from the US and other countries. 

$860 million possible: Travis Kalanick, the former chief executive and co-founder who still sits on Uber’s board, holds an 8.6 percent stake in the company.

How big Uber can get: The company laid out several total addressable markets for its different businesses, adding up to more than $12tn in market opportunity it hopes to disrupt.

- Personal mobility: $5.7tn, consisting of “all passenger vehicle miles and all public transportation miles in all countries globally” totaling 11.9tn miles

- UberEats: $2.8tn, the amount consumers spend at restaurants

- Freight: $3.8tn, the market for freight trucking in 2017

The Times: Uber warns it may never make profit

The world’s largest taxi-hailing company revealed that it made a $3 billion operating loss last year.

Grab faces $2bn payout to Uber if no IPO by 2023: Nikkei reports, US ride-hailer has redemption right according to prospectus.

LAT: Amazon’s entry into the satellite internet market sets up another faceoff between Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk


Idris Elba is DJing at Coachella.

LAT: Fancy Chinese food is here to stay — and it's about time

If the Chinese Communist Party was smart, it would spend $1 billion supporting chefs and use premium Chinese food as a soft power tool.

I've never understood why Beijing hasn't propped up a high-end food joint in NYC.

'Clean' Chinese food by white restaurateur prompts outrage: NYT reports, the uproar over a restaurant in Manhattan has become the latest front in the debate over cultural appropriation. Arielle Haspel defended her concept and menu, while acknowledging some errors in presenting them.

Jonah Hill: from ‘Superbad’ to serious director: The actor-turned-auteur talks about Scorsese, skateboarding and why his debut feature ‘Mid90s’ is a ‘string of pearls.’

Is the Hudson Valley turning into the Hamptons? NYT reports, developers have discovered the once-sleepy Catskills and are building million-dollar homes there. And now there’s a bus service modeled after the Hampton Jitney.


ABB FIA Formula E championship powers away after a slow start: FT reports, a friendly collision with F1 looms as the electric racing series gains sponsors and fans.

Now into its fifth season, the ABB FIA Formula E championship features 13 races across five continents, with leading carmakers such as Audi, BMW, Nissan and Jaguar competing in the series.

Sunday: Formula 1's 2019 Chinese Grand Prix @ 2:10 am ET. The race will take place at the Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China.

Enjoy the ride + plan accordingly.


Marc Ross

Based in Washington, DC, I specialize in thought leader communications and global public policy for public affairs professionals working at the intersection of globalization, disruption, and politics.

Clients hire me to ghostwrite, engage influencer networks, manage media relations, produce events, audit their communications infrastructure, consult on hiring, provide issue briefs and news generating talking points, as well as manage end to end communications projects where I assume a role of project leader and general contractor.

I work independently but provided access to a substantial global network of collaborators with expertise in websites, graphic design, audio, video, polling, data analytics, and research.

Using the latest tactics of an American political campaign with expertise shaped by being a practitioner of global business communications, I help clients tell their story and build trusted relationships with all necessary stakeholders.

Successful communications are all about STOCK = strategy, tactics, organization, consistency, and know-how.