Japan, Taiwan, Venezuela, Kamala Harris, McDonald’s, Telemedicine

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What I am watching today = April 2, 2019

Curation and commentary from 
Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia 

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


✔️ WTO warns of ‘strong headwinds’ in global trade

✔️ Politically, no one knows how Brexit will end

✔️ Japan's big banks to slash hiring of new graduates due to automation

✔️ Kamala Harris raised $12 million in Q1

✔️ Julian Dunkerton is back at Superdry


Brigadoon Remote.

Details coming soon.



FT: WTO warns of ‘strong headwinds’ in global trade

Economists forecast growth of just 2.6% this year as US-China spat and volatility bite.

Saudis vs. Bezos: Fortune reports, Jeff Bezos's security chief, Gavin de Becker, has reported back on the leak to the National Enquirer of the Amazon chief's sexts with his mistress. De Becker reckons the Saudi authorities hacked Bezos's phone as revenge for the Bezos-owned Washington Post giving heavy coverage to the Saudis' murder of Jamal Khashoggi, who wrote for the paper. He said it remains unclear whether Enquirer publisher AMI knew about the Saudis' involvement; the paid source was the mistress's brother.

"Japan's Tankan business sentiment survey showed weaker manufacturing sentiment. Sentiment is generally influenced by the media news cycle. Sensationalism in media is poorly filtered. Media reporting of the trade tensions has an impact. However, capital spending plans were better than expected. Capital spending was a major driver of weaker growth globally late last year." -- Paul Donovan of UBS.

Infectious form of African swine fever virus detected for first time in Japan, in meat from China: Japan Times, the agriculture ministry said the discovery of the virus has prompted a decision to strengthen measures against illegal imports of livestock products.

Ken Rapoza: Taiwan just became a huge variable in the China trade war

Defense contractors will love this order. Those who would like to see the trade war end, won’t love it as much.

Taiwan could creep into trade talks, becoming a greater variable than the South China Sea issue ever was.

Remember kids, it isn't a US-China trade war, it is a US-China geopolitical war.

Venezuela crisis: Opposition's Guaidó awaits army support: BBC reports, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó has acknowledged that there can only be a change of government with the support of the armed forces. 

‘Time for tougher deterrence from China’ as US steps up patrols in South China Sea: SCMP reports, China should reinforce “deterrence facilities” in the South China Sea as the United States and its allies mount a bigger challenge in the contested waters, a prominent Chinese specialist said. 

'Killer dust' pollutes South Korea's relations with China: Nikkei reports, Beijing rebuffs Moon's attempt to share blame for deteriorating air.

Nikkei: South Korea's 5G head start puts Samsung in pole position

OTD: In 1982 Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands.

Barnier warns no-deal Brexit is increasingly likely: FT reports, EU chief negotiator says ‘strong justification’ is needed from UK for a long extension.

EU's Barnier: May deal is the only path to orderly Brexit: DW reports, EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has told UK lawmakers that — if they want an orderly Brexit — Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement is the only show in town.

FT: Theresa May weighs fourth vote on Brexit deal

Politically, no one knows how Brexit will end.

Rob Mudge: Brexit — 'Theresa through the looking glass': The UK government's handling of the Brexit process is growing increasingly shambolic by the day. Any semblance of control has gone out of the window.

NATO at 70: Europe fears tensions will outlast Trump: FT reports, as the military alliance celebrates its anniversary, America’s commitment is being questioned.

NATO is preparing to bolster its power on its front lines against Russia by boosting support to non-members Ukraine and Georgia and building up its arsenal in eastern Poland.


Telemedicine + urgent care use on the rise: STAT reports, a new white paper released today from the nonprofit FAIR Health looked at medical pricing and other health care trends from 2012 to 2017 and found that people in the US used more telehealth services and urgent care centers in 2017 than during the previous year. Here’s a closer look at the report’s findings:

Telehealth: Use of telemedicine services grew nationally by 53 percent between 2016 and 2017, with 55 percent growth in urban areas and 29 percent growth in rural areas. Oklahoma had the most telehealth usage, New Jersey the least.

Urgent care centers: The use of urgent care centers in urban areas increased by 15 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, while staying the same in rural areas. The average price per 30-minute visit was most expensive for urgent care centers, at $213, compared to $207 in a doctor’s office and $129 in a retail clinic.

Goals and rewards redraw the brain’s map of the world: Two new studies show that the brain’s navigation system changes how it represents physical space to reflect personal experience. http://bit.ly/2JW6EYq

New York City embraced congestion pricing. Will other cities follow? New York’s decision to charge drivers to enter Manhattan’s most congested neighborhoods may embolden cities like Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

A robot walks into a bar, doesn’t get the joke: struggling to teach humor to AI https://lat.ms/2JYRilK 

Japan's big banks to slash hiring of new graduates in 2020 due to automation: Japan Times, major lender MUFG Bank plans to hire only 530 new graduates next April, down about 45 percent from this year, according to informed sources. Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. and Mizuho Financial Group Inc. also plan to slash their hiring of new graduates.


Full Mueller: House Judiciary Committee said it will vote on Wednesday on whether to authorize subpoenas to obtain Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s full report.

The Guardian: Joe Biden's very bad week: has his White House run failed before it begins?

WSJ - Editorial: Joe Biden’s identity reckoning: He may have been VP, but he’s old, white, male and heterosexual.

Michelle Goldberg: The wrong time for Joe Biden: He’s not a sexual predator, but he is out of touch.

David Brooks: Why you love Mayor Pete: Buttigieg detaches progressive policy from the culture war.

In Buttigieg's last race for mayor, he only needed to secure 8,500 votes total to win the office. And it appears his biggest decision was whether or not open a main street to two-way traffic.

Kamala Harris of California raised $12 million in the first three months of 2019.

A Trump mutiny? Republican prospects warily eye 2020 presidential run: LAT reports, Bill Weld is exploring the possibility of challenging President Trump and John Kasich and Larry Hogan aren't ruling it out. But the odds facing them are steep.

One of the GOP’s brightest female stars is dogged by Trump in 2020: Politico reports, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst will have to outrun the president, whose trade war has damaged his standing in the state.

Plastic bag ban: New York will become the second state after California to ban (most) single-use plastic bags starting in March 2020. NYC residents use 71,000 tons of nonbiodegradable plastic bags annually, and according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the bags “have blighted our environment and clogged our waterways.” Small business and retail trade groups criticized the policy.

Royal Dutch Shell said it had found “material misalignment” over climate policy with the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) and would quit the body in 2020.


Seat to lead Volkswagen’s drive into cheap electric cars: FT reports, Spanish brand aims to produce electric vehicles costing less than €20,000.

FT - Editorial: Consolidation is key for the automotive industry: Declines in sales and the rise of electric vehicles make tie-ups a must.

Kellogg is reportedly nearing a deal to sell its Keebler, Famous Amos and fruit snacks businesses to Nutella-owner Ferrero for between $1B-$1.5B.

Airbnb buys stake in Indian hotel start-up Oyo: FT reports, Oyo, the fast-growing Indian hotel franchise, has raised over $100m from US room-booking site Airbnb, giving fresh firepower for its international expansion drive. Founded in 2013 by then 19-year-old university dropout Ritesh Agarwal, Oyo has become the world’s most rapidly expanding hotel chain, adding more than 700 properties each month.

Bitcoin burst to its highest level in almost five months on Tuesday, sending smaller cryptocurrencies up, with analysts ascribing the move to a major order by an anonymous buyer that triggered a frenzy of computer-driven trading.

P&G drafts video game team to boost brand with esports fans: Cincinnati Business Courier reports, Procter & Gamble Co. assembled a team of 11 Twitch streamers from around the world to represent the Gillette brand and create content for viewers of increasingly popular electronic sports, also known as esports.

Superdry has lost a bitter battle against Julian Dunkerton after shareholders narrowly voted in favor of the reappointment of the co-founder and former chief executive.

Whatsapp targets fake messages ahead of India mega-election: AFP reports, WhatsApp launched a hotline Tuesday allowing Indians to flag rumors circulating ahead of the upcoming election, a major concern in a country where fake news has fuelled violence.

McDonald’s of the future: McDonald’s just made the Big Mac of acquisitions with its purchase of Dynamic Yield, a Tel Aviv-based startup that provides retailers with “decision logic” technology. It’s the biggest buy the brand has made since 1999 and digs into the customization boom heating up the restaurant business. But with fast food restaurants fighting over the spotlight, will the tech tactic be enough to cook up sustainable consumer attention for McDonald’s? http://bit.ly/2JVPaLK

Burger King deal fuels plant-based meat group: FT reports, Silicon Valley start-up Impossible looks to raise fresh funds after launching veggie Whopper.

Startups power Shenzhen's rise as high-tech hub: Nikkei reports, the city produces more than half of China's international patent filings.

Hal Brands: Google needs a lesson in patriotism: Alphabet shuns business with the Pentagon but is helping China develop artificial intelligence. 

Remember kids, it isn't a US-China trade war, it is a US-China tech war.


Algorithmic jackpot: The most-shared story on Facebook so far this year is a 119-word news brief posted to the US 105 FM New County radio station’s page. The post — “Suspected Human Trafficker, Child Predator May Be in Our Area.” — for whatever reason checked every box of the Facebook algorithm, which then accelerated the local crime brief to 800,000 shares on the platform, which is twice as high as any other English-language content of 2019.

'They're amazingly isolated': is social media making NBA players miserable? NBA commissioner says many of the stars he meets are unhappy. The criticism they face on Twitter and Instagram could be to blame.

These are the best places to own a vacation home in the US https://bloom.bg/2UtGWhO

"Summit Park -- the term for the micropolitan area -- ranked highest on Bloomberg’s Wealthiest US Vacation Havens Index. The area is home to the Park City, Silver Summit and Deer Valley resorts." 


Final 4 odds: The Virginia Cavaliers, Michigan State Spartans, Texas Tech Red Raiders and Auburn Tigers are the sole survivors of the 2019 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. According to FiveThirtyEight predictions, their chances of winning the championship in a week’s time are 41 percent (UVA), 28 percent (MSU), 22 percent (TX Tech) and 10 percent (Auburn), respectively. 

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.