What I am watching today = June 14, 2019
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross
Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia
Iran, NATO + Russia, Insomnia, Golden Escalator, Jason Bentley, Facebook, Toronto Raptors
✔️ US + Iran trade accusations in wake of tanker attacks
✔️ Can bluetooth headsets alleviate depression and insomnia?
✔️ Golden escalator moment: the surreal day Trump kicked off his 2016 campaign
✔️ Facebook hires bank lobbyist ahead of cryptocurrency launch
✔️ Why Kawhi Leonard should stay in Canada
WSJ: US, Iran trade accusations in wake of tanker attacks
Iran rejected American allegations that it was behind an attack on two fuel tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
Gold Jumps to 14-Month High.
If Tehran is behind the latest attacks on shipping in the Gulf it will become even harder to find a resolution to the deepening crisis between the US and Iran.
Tankers are attacked in Mideast, and US says video is evidence Iran was involved: NYT reports, Two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman were crippled in the strikes, which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed on Iran. Late Thursday, the Pentagon released a video it said showed an Iranian patrol boat removing a mine from one of the ships.
LAT: Suspected attacks on tankers in Gulf of Oman stoke worry about Iran conflict
Bloomberg: Gulf on edge as conflicting accounts of tanker attacks swirl
US loses billions as Chinese tourists stay away over trade war: DW reports, the number of arrivals from China to the US fell last year for the first time in 15 years. The Chinese are the world's highest-spending foreign visitors and their tourism dollar is sorely missed.
WSJ: Hong Kong’s clout as a global financial center clouded by uncertainty
Hong Kong protests raise stakes for Xi’s hard-line agenda: NYT reports, the battle in Hong Kong over a bill that would allow extraditions to mainland China reflects the risks of President Xi Jinping’s domineering approach to rule.
Michael Schuman: Hong Kong is in danger of being hollowed out again: If Beijing damages business confidence, the territory becomes just another Chinese city.
China’s economy shows fresh signs of weakness: WSJ reports, Chinese economic data on industrial output and investment published Friday added to evidence of a slowdown that some economists said risks breaching the government’s 6% bottom line for growth, unless there is more stimulus.
China's May industrial output growth cools to 17-year low as trade war escalates: Reuters reoorts, China's economy flashed more warning signs in May as the United States ramped up trade pressure, with industrial output growth unexpectedly slowing to a more than 17-year low and investment cooling, underlining a need for more stimulus.
China probes FedEx after Huawei parcels misrouted.
FT: Chinese brokerage severs ties with UBS over pig comment
Securities body calls for Swiss bank to fire economist over remark in research note.
“Chinese consumer prices rose. This was mainly due to sick pigs. Does this matter? It matters if you are a Chinese pig. It matters if you like eating pork in China. It does not really matter to the rest of the world.” -- Paul Donovan, an economist at UBS, said on Wednesday in comments about the impact of African swine fever in China.
"The perceived insult is derived either from a misreading of the English text by a non-native speaker, or from a poor Chinese translation" -- Stephen Matthews, University of Hong Kong.
Haitong International Securities said the company had suspended activities with UBS across all business divisions based on “a collective decision made by the senior management”.
Tory leadership contest: Matt Hancock has pulled out of the race to succeed Theresa May, admitting that the Conservative Party is not looking for “the candidate of the future”.
The Liberal Democrats struggle to embody Britain’s political realignment.
OTD: In 1940 the German army entered Paris.
NATO and Russia: Maneuvers and countermaneuvers on the Baltic Sea: DW reports, NATO is practicing in the Baltic Sea these days, as it's done before. What's new: The exercise is headed by the US Navy's 2nd Fleet command, a key force during the Cold War era. Russia is running a countermaneuver.
Peggy Noonan: England needs a slap, and so does China: Getting on with Brexit is the right thing to do. So is pushing back against the crackdown in Hong Kong. https://on.wsj.com/2XKoGzi
Martin Wolf: A no-deal Brexit would be a lunacy wrapped up in a stupidity: The cost to Britain’s economy and its standing in the world would be immense. https://on.ft.com/2XKqQio
"No deal is either lunatic or a confidence trick. It is not a policy any sane or decent politician could even consider."
Phil Collins: Macron has more say over Brexit than we do: The French president’s clout in Brussels is growing and gives him greater influence over our future than the next PM.
Tim Harford: How the US is weaponizing the world economy: Donald Trump likes to use commerce for coercion, but the tactic could backfire. https://on.ft.com/2XK7Yjq
"The US is not the first global superpower to ponder the use of financial and communication networks as a weapon of war. In the early 20th century, modern economies were increasingly underpinned by complex financing. Britain viewed the central role of the City of London in the world’s banking, telegraph and marine insurance system as potentially decisive when coupled with the power of the Royal Navy."
Can bluetooth headsets alleviate depression and insomnia?Brain Machine Interfaces are wearable tech that probe the brain’s electrical circuitry.
Automakers tap VR to banish boredom in autonomous cars.
Trump upends long-held views on foreign election help: WP reports, American opposition to foreign involvement in elections dates back to the nation’s founding, reflected in legal prohibitions and widely embraced norms.
OTD: In 1775 America’s second continental congress authorized the enlistment of ten companies of citizen-soldiers, an event regarded as the foundation of the US Army.
Sarah Sanders will be leaving the job at the end of the month to return to her home state of Arkansas.
WP: Trump says he won’t fire Kellyanne Conway over Hatch Act violations
The president’s comments came a day after the Office of Special Counsel publicly recommended removing the White House counselor from federal office.
Adam Gabbatt: Golden escalator moment: the surreal day Trump kicked off his 2016 campaign: Trump Tower speech was filled with the lies, offensive comments and bombastic energy that has come to define his presidency. http://bit.ly/2IfHGAn
"Four years ago, on 16 June 2015, after Trump had slowly descended a golden escalator to the basement of his eponymous New York City tower, he clambered onto a makeshift stage and began his announcement speech."
I remember watching this kick-off event and thought, this is going to be a problem.
LAT: Impeach Trump? Many California Democrats aren’t convinced
Where is Howard? Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz' not-quite presidential campaign has hit a major roadblock. On Wednesday, Schultz told his staff "that he was letting everyone go except those in senior leadership positions," HuffPost's Amanda Terkel reported. "Schultz said [to his staff] that if Biden does not appear to be the nominee, he would think about jumping into the presidential race after Super Tuesday." Schultz also publicly released a letter explaining why he has been absent from public life: He said he needed "three separate back surgeries" and is taking the summer to recuperate.
Bloomberg: Trump and Warren find common ground on economic populism
DNC Names 20 Candidates for First Debates:
Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado
Former Vice President Joe Biden
Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York
Sen. Kamala Harris of California
Former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado
Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas
Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont
Rep. Eric Swalwell of California
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts
Author Marianne Williamson
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang
A candidate can still matter, even without a debate spot: NYT reports, the Democratic National Committee set the lineup for the first presidential debate based on poll results, and some candidates didn’t make the cut. But candidates in years past have become serious contenders after starting with around 1 percent of the vote.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio takes his low popularity to the national stage: LAT reports, Some days it seems nobody wants him to run for president. Why is De Blasio inviting all this abuse?
Hundreds of companies urge Trump to drop new China tariffs: FT reports, the letter — whose signatories include retailers Walmart, Target, Ikea and J Crew — which was made public on Thursday, urges Trump not to go ahead with new, punitive tariffs of 25 percent on more than $300bn of imports from China that are not currently subject to levies.
A growing number of US farmers battered by low grain prices and the threat of a prolonged trade war with China are seeking salvation in a plant that until recently was illegal: hemp.
Bloomberg: Kudlow warns of consequences if China spurns Trump summit invite
New York property barons lose grip on state politics: FT reports, new rent-control rules signal an end to a quarter century of domination by big landlords.
Facebook hires bank lobbyist ahead of cryptocurrency launch: FT reports, StanChart’s head of public affairs to join social media group as director of public policy.
Brigadoon DC | Aperitivo
Thursday, June 27
5:30 - 7:30 pm
1426 H Street, NW
An aperitivo is often described as being similar to the American happy hour, but when it's a Brigadoon gathering, it’s much more than that.
This is a free to attend, cash bar gathering designed for meeting old friends and making new friends.
RSVP - here
Oil tanker companies spooked by Gulf attacks: FT reports, few predict traffic will grind to a halt, but shippers are likely to face higher costs.
Bayer plans to invest $5.64 billion on developing new ways to combat weeds over the next decade, as the German chemicals giant seeks to win back trust in its business in the wake of thousands of lawsuits alleging its Roundup herbicide causes cancer.
Huawei is postponing the sale of the $2,600 Mate X, in part to improve the quality of the folding screen, the phone’s most intricate technical component.
FT: Broadcom cuts full-year outlook as trade war crimps demand
Shares fall 7% as chipmaker hit by geopolitical uncertainties and Huawei crackdown.
The long-shot science that attracted Brad Pitt and Neil Woodford: FT reports, the promise of abundant nuclear power propelled ‘cold fusion’ company to $918m valuation.
"Actor Brad Pitt, philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective and stock picker Neil Woodford are among the high-profile figures who have bought stakes in Industrial Heat, a North Carolina company attempting to develop power sources that run on “low-energy nuclear reactions”, an idea on the fringes of modern physics."
Tom Braithwaite: How Peloton took the lead in the race of fitness companies: At-home revolution is squeezing traditional gyms and upmarket studios such as SoulCycle. https://on.ft.com/2Ig7XOZ
"Gyms will continue to exist. So will upmarket alternatives such as SoulCycle. But the real money will be made in this marriage of software, hardware, and media."
LAT: Spirit’s new strategy: Be a less terrible airline
Good luck with that.
VinFast: Vietnam's homegrown carmaker VinFast will deliver its first cars on June 17, the company said Friday as it showcased a factory in one of Asia's fastest growing economies.
WP: Residents welcome Amazon but worry about the DC area becoming more expensive, poll shows
About 7 in 10 Washington-area residents say Amazon’s headquarters in Northern Virginia will mainly have a good impact on the region.
LAT: KCRW mainstay Jason Bentley to step down as ‘Morning Becomes Eclectic’ host
If you are not listening to KCRW on a regular basis, you are doing it all wrong.
Who ‘deserves’ to go to Harvard? A dean at the university tells graduates all success stems from inherited privilege and chance. https://on.wsj.com/2XHs0eA
What got us to the Moon (and back) in 1969? Fifty years on, it is time to reappraise the audacity and political will behind Apollo 11. https://on.ft.com/2Iep43D
An epic overland expedition — at the age of 87: Tim Slessor is preparing to drive from Singapore to London in a 64-year-old Land Rover. https://on.ft.com/2Ihxyaq
"Tim Slessor’s 88th birthday will not be a conventional one. If all goes to plan, he will be behind the wheel of a 64-year-old Land Rover somewhere in Tibet, five weeks into a 100-day drive from Singapore to London."
AFP: K-pop 'Gangnam' mogul resigns as drug, sex scandals rock agency
Art expert stakes reputation on 'lost' $170 million Caravaggio: AFP reports, art expert Eric Turquin is not only convinced that a canvas found in the attic of an old house in southwest France is a Caravaggio -- he believes it is a revolutionary masterpiece. France's leading authority on Old Masters paintings has staked his reputation on the assertion that the work -- left forgotten under an old mattress for 100 years -- is the fiery Italian artist's lost "Judith and Holofernes".
Toronto Raptors win.
Jason Gay: Why Kawhi Leonard should stay in Canada: The quiet MVP won a title and remodeled a franchise in his image. It can’t get better than that. https://on.wsj.com/2XMYi7M
Brazilian midfielder is in her seventh World Cup tournament: NYT reports, Formiga’s remarkable drive, and uncommon ability have contributed to her longevity. But her presence has exposed Brazil’s failure to develop talent.
Maurizio Sarri is set to return to Italy to take the vacant managerial role at Juventus and bring the curtain down on a fretful one-year stay at Chelsea.
Chris Froome conscious after surgery but rider remains in intensive care: Guardian reports, Froome came off his bike and hit a wall at 37mph on Wednesday while examining a time trial stage route in the Critérium de Dauphiné. The Team Ineos rider sustained multiple fractures, including a broken femur, elbow, and several ribs. He required extensive surgery overnight in a hospital in St Etienne.
FIFA Women's World Cup = Today
Japan v Scotland @ 9:00 am ET
Jamaica v Italy @ 12:00 pm ET
England v Argentina @ 3:00 pm ET
Enjoy the ride + plan accordingly.