What I am watching today = April 8, 2019
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross
Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia
News + Analysis at the Intersection of Globalization + Disruption + Politics
✔️ Libya crisis: Fighting near Tripoli leaves 21 dead
✔️ Merkel to host May for Brexit talks
✔️ House Democratic campaign arm nears war with liberals over primary fights
✔️ Facebook, Google in crosshairs of new UK policy
✔️ Bernie Sanders finds himself in a new role as front-runner
Japan's Abe to visit US, France on pre-G20 tour: AFP reports, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Monday plans to visit the United States, Canada and France this month before his country hosts the G20 later this year. The tour from April 22 to 29 will also include stops in Italy, Belgium and Slovakia, a foreign ministry official said.
Small US Marine presence in Taiwan could ruffle Chinese feathers: LAT reports, military personnel have staffed the de facto U.S. Embassy in Taiwan periodically since 2005, a U.S. government spokesperson said when announcing the opening date next month for a new compound.
China’s hard edge: The leader of Beijing’s Muslim crackdown gains influence: WSJ reports, Chen Quanguo, the official behind aggressive surveillance and social control in China’s restive Xinjiang region, is gaining prominence in Beijing, and his methods are spreading to other parts of the country.
China to relax residency curbs and boost infrastructure: Reuters reports, China will relax residency curbs in many of its smaller cities this year and increase infrastructure spending, the state planner said Monday, in a fresh push to boost the urban population and revive slowing economic growth. The National Development and Reform Commission said it aims to increase China’s urbanization rate by at least 1 percentage point by the end of this year.
EV subsidy cuts give Chinese automakers more reason to fret:Nikkei reports, larger-than-expected cuts to China's electric vehicle subsidies are set to hasten industry consolidation and help level the playing field for foreign competitors in the world's largest auto market.
World’s biggest inland port puts German rustbelt on China’s map: FT reports, Duisburg is the world’s largest inland port and one of Europe’s biggest transport and logistics hubs. It is also the western terminus of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s new Silk Road, the Belt and Road Initiative to finance and build infrastructure in more than 80 countries. “The Chinese see Duisburg and its port as their gateway to western Europe,” said Johannes Pflug, the city’s commissioner for China. “That has given it a whole new significance.”
China to 'further open' its doors to Europe, PM Li says ahead of summit: DW reports, China's Li Keqiang has attempted to quell European skepticism towards China's investment approach ahead of this week's EU-China summit. Some fear projects like the Belt and Road initiative aim to bind countries to China.
US companies accelerate lawsuits against China: Nikkei reports, A mounting string of allegations from the US paint a damning portrait of how China's advanced technology sector has rapidly grown due to corporate espionage.
Tesla, Apple, and GE among those who say secrets were stolen.
Clashes rage near Tripoli as UN ceasefire attempt fails: DW reports, at least 21 people have been killed since a Libyan general launched a blitzkrieg campaign to capture Tripoli. A United Nations attempt to secure a temporary cessation of hostilities came to no avail.
BBC: Libya crisis: Fighting near Tripoli leaves 21 dead
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called for an immediate halt to the fighting and called for talks.
Despite calls for restraint, Marshal Haftar and his Libyan National Army (LNA) is poised to seize control of Tripoli.
The Times: US military pulls out of Libya as rebels close in on Tripoli
Germany's AfD joins Italy's League innew populist coalition: DW reports, the Alternative for Germany is forming a new alliance with Italy's League and other far-right parties after the European Parliament elections. They hope the coalition will shake up the European Union.
Salvini begins EU poll campaign with populists rally: FT reports, Italy’s League leader seeks to forge anti-migration coalition across Europe.
SNL: Theresa May (Kate McKinnon) dreams of a better life as Brexit looms on the horizon. http://bit.ly/2KhoMw3
Brexit Day is now four days away, unless or until (Michel Barnier) the EU agrees a further extension this week.
Peter Oborne: I was a strong Brexiteer. Now we must swallow our pride and think again http://bit.ly/2KeSGRl
"If we are to leave the European Union we want a sensible Brexit. There’s no chance of that just now."
"I did not foresee how one of the biggest arguments against Scottish independence – that Europe would not encourage the break-up of its member states by accepting an independent Scotland as a new member – would be lost after Brexit. I failed to understand how the EU is part of the glue which now holds us together in the United Kingdom."
Brexit-distracted Tories lose voter trust on core issues: poll: As the UK's Conservatives struggle to deliver Brexit, an exclusive poll for Politico suggests the party has lost the trust of voters on core issues. In swing seats across the country, the Tories are trailing Labour on the central issues people most care about, the new Politico-Hanbury tracker poll conducted in battleground constituencies has found. But despite the negative view of the party and its handling of Brexit, Theresa May is still seen as the stronger leader compared to her opposition counterpart Jeremy Corbyn.
Push for Brexit deal heats up ahead of EU Summit: WSJ reports, EU leaders to weigh a request from May to further postpone Britain’s departure.
Germany's Merkel to host UK PM May for Brexit talks: DW reports, the British Prime Minister is set to ask for another extension to Brexit at an EU summit this week. Beforehand, May is scheduled to hold talks with the German chancellor before also meeting with France's Emmanuel Macron.
Emmanuel Macron ponders his de Gaulle moment with Brexit: FT reports, Britain is seeking to leave the EU at a time of its choosing, and once again finds its European destiny beholden to the calculations of a charismatic French leader — a president who sees de Gaulle as his role model. De Gaulle said No to the UK’s entry. Will French president Emmanuel Macron have a de Gaulle moment, say No to the UK leaving when it wants, and bundle the British out of the door?
France awaits results from Macron's 'Great National Debate': AFP reports, Over three months, France's "Great National Debate" has led to 10,000 local meetings, around two million online contributions and 100 hours of presidential talking. On Monday, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe begins trying to make sense of it all. The debate was launched in January by President Emmanuel Macron as a response to protests by "yellow vest" demonstrators whose nation-wide revolt over living standards created the biggest crisis of his time in office.
By inviting voters to take part, Macron had twin objectives: anger could be channeled away from the streets and into town hall meetings, while he could soften his image by showing he was open to listening.
Amazon is positioning Alexa, its artificial-intelligence assistant, to track consumers’ prescriptions and relay personal health information.
Kirstjen Nielsen resigned as homeland security secretary.
House Democratic campaign arm nears war with liberals over primary fights: NYT reports, “We reject the DCCC’s attempt to hoard power, which will only serve to keep that talent pool — and Congress itself — disproportionately white and male,” María Urbina, the national political director for Indivisible, a progressive grass-roots group, said of the campaign committee. “Incumbents who engage fully with their constituents shouldn’t fear primaries and shouldn’t rely on the national institutions like the DCCC to suppress challenges before voters ever have a say.”
The federal government now directly owns more than 31% of the total US consumer debt via student loans.
Cory Booker (D-NJ) raised more than $5 million for his presidential election campaign in February and March and has more than $6.1 million in cash on hand.
Iowa Caucus = 310 days away
AP: Bernie Sanders finds himself in a new role as front-runner
"Less than two months into his second White House bid, no other declared candidate in the crowded Democratic field currently has amassed so many advantages: a $28 million war chest, a loyal and enthusiastic voter base and a set of clearly defined policy objectives."
WP: In Iowa, Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke change up their styles to win over skeptical voters
Can Kamala Harris win? The Atlantic reports, no other matchup would be as riveting—or as revealing—as Harris versus Trump. But first she has to get through the primaries.
Nikkei: Huawei takes 5G fight to India and Pakistan
Region primed for $1.2 trillion tech bonanza over the next five years.
Huawei ban: The UK's GCHQ spy agency thinks Huawei's equipment should be banned from sensitive parts of the country such as Westminster in London—the nerve center of the British government and civil service. Why? The Chinese company's "shoddy" engineering practices.
Facebook is in talks to develop an underwater data cable that would encircle Africa, an effort aimed at driving down its bandwidth costs and making it easier for the social media giant to sign up more users.
Facebook, Google in crosshairs of new UK policy to control tech giants: WSJ reports, London’s proposal for new social-media regulator is one of the broadest yet in a larger movement by countries to assert control over tech giants.
UK unveils sweeping plan to penalize Facebook and Google for harmful online content: WP reports, the proposal marks a major new regulatory threat for an industry that’s long dodged responsibility for what its users say or share.
The crowd-sourced, social media swarm that is betting Tesla will crash and burn: LAT reports, Some use commercial databases to track Tesla-loaded ships from San Francisco to Europe and China. Some are experts at automotive leasing or convertible bonds. Some repost customer complaints about Tesla quality and service. One contributor, whose Twitter handle is TeslaCharts, assembles collected data to offer graphical representations of Tesla’s own reports and $TslaQ’s findings. And some do reconnaissance, posting photos and videos of Tesla storage lots, distribution centers, even the company’s Fremont assembly plant as seen from above.
Nissan Motor Co shareholders ousted Carlos Ghosn as a director on Monday, severing his last tie with the Japanese automaker he rescued from near-bankruptcy two decades ago and from which he is now accused of siphoning funds.
Jaguar Land Rover shuts its UK plants on Monday for five days over Brexit, adding to other shutdowns to leave at least half the country’s car production off-line in what could be a pivotal week for Britain’s divorce from the EU.
Grab to raise additional $2bn to accelerate Indonesia expansion: The mega funding comes as Grab rolls out an aggressive strategy to expand its bouquet of services, from transport to food delivery and payments, as it races Indonesia’s Go-Jek to become an app-for-everything in Southeast Asia, home to about 650 million people.
Japan Times: Nissan shareholders officially oust Carlos Ghosn, bringing 20-year relationship to an end
Baylor wins NCAA Women's Basketball Championship.
NCAA Men's Basketball Championship - Line:
Texas Tech v Virginia -1.5
Virginia vs. Texas Tech: Ugliest national championship ever: WSJ reports, there will be a lot of defense. Probably more defense than you care for. And there won’t be many points—which is exactly how both Virginia and Texas Tech like it.
Enjoy the ride + plan accordingly.