Nicolás Maduro, Emperor Naruhito, William Barr, Robert Mueller, Caster Semenya, Urban Meyer

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What I am watching today = May 1, 2019

Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia 

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


✔️ Guaido’s high-risk gamble flops as Maduro keeps grip on military

✔️ The brain makes no distinction between a broken bone and an aching heart.

✔️ Mueller complained to Barr about memo on key findings

✔️ Milken Conference trades rainbows for clouds

✔️ Caster Semenya loses appeal against IAAF testosterone rules


Brigadoon Annapolis 2019 | Salon Dinner + Sailing

Starting Thursday, September 12 please make plans to attend Brigadoon Annapolis | Salon Dinner + Sailing

Dinner will be held at Flamant on Thursday, September 12 and a morning cruise of the Chesapeake Bay will take place on Friday, September 13.

Cost per ticket is $355.00.

Secure your spot - here.


Venezuelans clash as small group of troops Joins Maduro: WSJ reports, opposition leader Juan Guaidó, flanked by a small group of heavily armed troops outside a military base, called for Venezuelans to protest to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro, setting up a potential armed struggle. 

NYT: Venezuelan opposition leader steps up pressure, but Maduro holds on

Venezuela's Guaido calls for 'largest march' in history
: Reuters reports, Venezuelans were expected to take to the streets for what opposition leader Juan Guaido pledged would be the 'largest march' in the country's history, a day after he called for the military to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

Guaido’s high-risk gamble flops as Maduro keeps grip on military: Bloomberg reports, it was a ploy that from its outset was a long shot.

WSJ - Editorial: High stakes in Caracas: Either democratic forces oust the regime, or Cuba cements its hold.

Arms binge: Defense spending in Turkey has surpassed the world’s top 15 arms purchasers, a reflection of the burden on the country’s strained finances after its foray into neighboring Syria, where it fought both Islamic State and US-backed Kurdish forces. Spending on NATO’s second-largest army rose 24 percent to $19 billion in 2018. Worldwide, military spending rose 2.6 percent last year to $1.82 trillion.

Kuwait on Wednesday inaugurated one of the world's longest causeways, linking the oil-rich Gulf state's capital to an uninhabited border region set to become a major free trade hub.

Crashed F-35A fighter jet located, US says: Nikkei reports, the F-35A stealth fighter that crashed off the coast of Japan has been found, and recovery efforts are underway, a U.S. Air Force commander said Monday. 

Japan’s new emperor accends to throne: WSJ reports, Japan welcomed Emperor Naruhito to the throne with dancing and fireworks at midnight—when the new emperor’s era, known as Reiwa, began.

Japan's new empress, Empress Masako, waves as she and Emperor Naruhito leave the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

Charles Parton: The true cost of signing up with Huawei: There is nothing hysterical in doubting the wisdom of intimate contact with the CCP.

The formidably resourced Huawei propaganda machine wants to convince you that “if you don’t trade with Huawei, you don’t trade with China.”

China needs others as much as others need China.

Dragons, disrupted: Foreign suspicion is hemming in China Inc’s global rise: The Economist reports, if China wants to see more of its companies succeed abroad, it should cut them slack at home.

China, US hold 'productive' trade talks in Beijing: Reuters reports, China and the United States held "productive" trade talks in Beijing on Wednesday and will continue discussions in Washington next week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, as the two try to end their trade war.

Next week China’s Vice Premier Liu He will come to Washington for further talks.

OTD: In 1707 the English and Scottish parliaments merged after acts were passed in each house.

FT: Cameron falls short of target for $1bn China fund

Office of former UK prime minister hopes first fundraising round will be concluded soon.

UK Conservatives steer clear of Brexit ahead of elections: WSJ reports, candidates focus on local issues in a bid to counter voter exhaustion and anger that threatens Prime Minister Theresa May and her ruling party.

Therese Raphael: Jeremy Corbyn is playing a strong hand well on Brexit: The Labour Party’s contortions on Brexit are sound political strategy. The big question is whether it all holds together until the next national election.

FT: Julian Assange sentenced to 50 weeks in jail

WikiLeaks founder convicted for breaching bail in 2012 by hiding in the Ecuadorean embassy.

Sweden grants asylum to 2 Pussy Riot activists: DW reports, two members of the Russian protest group have won an appeal on their asylum claim in Sweden. The couple said they had received death threats and feared arrest if forced to return to Moscow.

Isabelle Mateos y Lago: Both sides would suffer in a renewed EU-US trade clash: Europeans should not be complacent about the effect of uncertainty on investment.


Rejection kills: The brain makes no distinction between a broken bone and an aching heart. That’s why social exclusion needs a health warning.


@JamesMLindsay: #OnThisDay in 2011 Navy Seals raided Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, killing the orchestrator of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. President Obama called it "a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people."

Mueller complained to Barr about memo on key findings: WP reports, a letter from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to Attorney General William P. Barr and a subsequent phone call reveal the degree to which the men disagreed as they handled the probe of the president.

Mueller objected to Barr’s summary of report on Russia: WSJ reports, special counsel Robert Mueller said in a letter to Attorney General William Barr that Barr’s letter to Congress summarizing his office’s investigation failed to fully capture the context and substance of their probe.

As Trumps sue to block subpoenas, Democrats ponder impeachment: NYT reports, House Democrats see President Trump’s latest provocations as a dangerous abuse of power. The efforts have revived internal debate over the ultimate weapon in their arsenal: impeachment.

Trade wars hurt American farmers: US farmers’ personal income fell by the most in three years during the the first quarter of 2019 — the latest harbinger of potential political trouble for Trump stemming from losses linked to trade wars.

Democrats, Trump agree to aim for $2 trillion infrastructure package: WSJ reports, Democratic congressional leaders said President Trump agreed to aim for a $2 trillion infrastructure package, though the sides didn’t discuss how it would be paid for. 

LAT: Beto O’Rourke travels California seeking direction and his old spark

@jonallendc: Biden’s shock-and-awe campaign to the top:

* Big money
* Huge poll boost
* Hits ping off him like video-game defenders
* Quick pivot on impeachment obscures gaps with liberals
* Except Bernie, rivals won’t attack him directly

Hartford Courant: Quinnipiac Poll shows Biden with huge lead among Democrats

Biden 38%
Warren 12%
Sanders 11%
Buttigieg 10%
Harris 8%
O'Rourke 5%


Stephen Gandel: The Milken Conference trades rainbows for clouds: Markets are up. Unemployment is down. Profits aren’t a disaster. So why are attendees so glum?

Server maker Super Micro to ditch "made-in-China" parts on spy fears: Nikkei reports, Super Micro Computer, the server maker at the heart of spy chip allegations last autumn, has told suppliers to move production out of China to address US customers' concerns about cyber espionage risks, according to industry sources familiar with the matter. Despite denying allegations that its Chinese-made motherboards had been implanted with malignant chips, US customers and especially government-related clients have asked Super Micro not to supply them with motherboards made in China because of security concerns, according to one company executive. 

Huawei plans world’s first 5G TV.

FT: Marriott takes aim at Airbnb with home rental service

World’s largest hotel operator opens a new front as industry grapples with online rivals.

Ford has borrowed anti-collision technology from its cars to build a supermarket trolley that children can't crash.

FT: Beyond Meat looks to raise up to $240m in upsized IPO

Plant-based meat substitute company could be worth $1.5bn after strong investor interest.

WeWork files for IPO.

FT: Ex-Google chief Schmidt steps down from Alphabet board

Board reshuffle comes after company issues disappointing earnings report.

Bloomberg: Ford partners with Amazon to enable package deliveries to trunks

ESPN Magazine to go web-only.

CBS embraces strategy of making shows for its rivals: WSJ reports, about a quarter of CBS-produced shows this year are for other platforms, from Netflix to Disney+.


K-Pop stardom lures Japanese youth to Korea despite diplomatic chill

Three tonnes of rubbish collected from Everest: AFP reports, a dedicated clean-up team sent to Mount Everest has collected three tonnes of garbage in its first two weeks, officials said Wednesday, in an ambitious plan to clean the world's highest rubbish dump.


Caster Semenya loses landmark legal case against IAAF over testosterone levels: Guardian reports, the South African 800m star Caster Semenya has lost her landmark legal case against athletics’ governing body, the IAAF, in a decision that will send shockwaves through sport. It means that the 800m Olympic champion will have to take medication to reduce her testosterone if she wants to run internationally at events between 400m and a mile. The surprise verdict, which was announced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport after three arbitators had spent more than two months deliberating over the complex and highly contentious case, came even though Cas agreed that the IAAF’s policy was “discriminatory” to athletes with differences in sexual development (DSDs) such as Semenya.

Caster Semenya loses appeal against IAAF testosterone rules: DW reports, champion sprinter Caster Semenya has lost her appeal against regulations limiting testosterone levels in certain women's athletic events. The judges found the rule "discriminatory" but also said limits were necessary.

Drone Racing League teams up with Lockheed Martin on autonomous drones.

Reggie Bush might recruit Urban Meyer to end his retirement, coach at USC: SI reports, Bush said he and former teammate Matt Leinart might try to recruit Urban Meyer to end his retirement and coach at USC if head coach Clay Helton struggles in 2019.

@Brett_McMurphy: Updated @CFBPlayoff title odds via @SuperBookUSA: 

Clemson 2-1
Bama 5-2
Georgia 7-1
OhioSt 10-1
Mich, OU 14-1
LSU, Texas 25-1
ND, Wash 30-1
UF, Oregon, Neb, A&M 40-1
Auburn 60-1
Wisconsin 80-1
FSU, Iowa, Miami, MissSt, PennSt, USC, Utah, WashSt 100-1
MichSt, OkSt, TCU, VT 200-1

Enjoy the ride + plan accordingly.


Belt and Road, Shinzo Abe, Starbucks, Maria Butina, Don Quijote, Vacation

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What I am watching today = April 26, 2019

Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia 

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


✔️ Xi vows new direction for ‘Belt and Road’ after criticism

✔️ Does Starbucks make you smarter?

✔️ Maria Butina is not a Russian spy, but a 'spotter'

✔️ “I haven’t seen anything else quite like Don Quijote”

✔️ The new vacation perk: Celebrity encounters


21 ways to not have the right network:

1. Same backgrounds - think homophily.

2. Lack of mission statement.

3. Thinking small.

4. Too much self-reliance.

5. Same skills. Same talents. Same ideas.

6. Too provincial.

7. Limited perspective.

8. Choosing personality over purpose.

9. Reactive. 

10. Not stubborn enough.

11. Easily swayed.

12. Over-reliance on cash and class as the connection.

13. Spending not investing.

14. No reboot.

15. Too many jerks.

16. More campaign, not cause.

17. Comfortable and content.

18. Thinking the hype is real.

19. Lack of moxie.

20. Don’t do the work.

21. Many ideas, no execution.


Marc A. Ross specializes in thought leader strategy for executives and entrepreneurs working at the intersection of globalization, disruption, and politics. 


China’s Xi vows new direction for ‘Belt and Road’ after criticism: WSJ reports, China’s President Xi Jinping signaled a recalibration of his global infrastructure-building program as he sought to assuage foreign critics who blame Beijing for pushing excessive lending onto developing economies.

Xi pledges open Belt and Road but west is split on programme: FT reports, Beijing chips away at wariness over flagship infrastructure building project.

Nikkei: Xi pledges Belt and Road reboot amid rising 'debt trap' concerns

China's Belt and Road is 'green and clean,' says Xi
: DW reports, Chinese President Xi Jinping says the Belt and Road program must be "open, green and clean." Beijing wants to dispel fears that its infrastructure plans will leave countries saddled with debt and environmental damage.

UK in China: Philip Hammond, the chancellor, attends the 2nd Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, along with President Putin.

China lobbies ASEAN on yuan use, cracking dollar dominance: Nikkei reports, Beijing proposes Asian currencies, including yen, be added to emergency pool.

AFP: Xi says will abolish anti-competitive subsidies to Chinese firms

China’s Xi signals approval for Trump’s trade war demands
: Bloomberg reports, Xi spent a large portion of his speech Friday addressing Chinese domestic reforms, pledging to address state subsidies, protect intellectual property rights, allow foreign investment in more sectors and avoid competitive devaluation of the yuan. All four are issues the US is addressing in trade talks with Beijing.

China's rocket start-ups develop 'shoebox' satellites: Reuters reports, China's private rocket manufacturers are racing to develop small rockets capable of sending satellites into space at affordable prices, as part of a broader Chinese dream of building commercial satellites that can offer services from high-speed internet for aircraft to tracking coal shipments.

Geoffrey Owen: How to meet the challenge of China: Western governments should think twice before trying to keep Chinese companies out.

"Fifty-two years ago, the French journalist and politician Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber wrote a hugely successful book called Le Défi Américain (The American Challenge). In it, he warned that European industry was about to be overwhelmed by giant American companies such as General Motors and Ford. Unless urgent action was taken to create bigger European companies, Servan-Schreiber argued, Europe would became a technological vassal of the US."

Dan Wang: Why China will rival the US in high tech: Critics who say bureaucracy and rote education stifle innovation are missing the biggest factor in the mainland’s favor: its huge market. 

Anjani Trivedi: Why China can’t pull up the world: Beijing’s stimulus has been targeted and domestically focused. That means it won’t do much to boost growth elsewhere.

LAT: Trump's withdrawal from TPP trade deal is hurting U.S. exports to Japan

The White House is scrambling to undo the damage of Trump’s swift withdrawal from what would have been the world’s largest regional trade agreement.

The remaining 11 members proceeded anyway, slashing tariffs and leaving US businesses at a significant competitive disadvantage. 

Today: Donald Trump hosts Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, at the White House.

Japan’s Abe visits White House in latest bid to soothe Trump’s ego — and avoid his ire: WP reports,the Japanese leader has played a diligent inside game to mixed results but now faces a new test amid President Trump’s threats on trade.

Trump and Abe to meet as Japan and US seek trade deal: NYT reports, Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan will meet today to discuss a bilateral deal that was almost unthinkable two years ago. But the United States may have to agree to some concessions.

The US is pushing to reduce its trade deficit with Japan and gain better access to the Asian nation’s agricultural market. Japan is looking for a concrete promise that it won’t be hit by possible US tariffs on auto imports.

Reuters: Japan tells US can't link monetary policy to trade: finance minister Aso

FT: Japanese government and Nissan reject Renault merger talks

Relations sink to new low after double snub to French carmaker.

Europe’s nationalists band together in bid for influence: WSJ reports, European Parliament elections next month will test the strength of an energized far-right’s views, offering a signpost to Europe’s politics in coming years. Nationalists are reaching across borders to try to build an alliance they hope can reshape the legislature.

France’s Macron vows to cut taxes, stay on pro-business course: WSJ reports, French President Emmanuel Macron promised to cut taxes in a long-awaited address that sidestepped demands for immediate measures to quell months of violent yellow-vest protests.

FT: French employees face challenge to short-hours culture

Macron wants citizens to work longer in bid to increase tax revenues.

Macron responds to yellow vest protests by promising tax cuts, more reforms: DW reports, President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to ease taxes on France's middle class, reform its civil service while also reinstating public order. His long Elysee Palace news conference follows months of yellow vest protests.


Virgin plastics: As the EU waves through the single-use plastics ban, broadly shuns fracking and pushes for decarbonization by 2050, plans for a wholesale contradiction involving INEOS and US ethane are underway in the city of Antwerp.

Roger Dooley: Does Starbucks make you smarter? One thing the coffee giant has been very smart about is preserving the powerful aroma of roasted coffee beans. Research shows that the mere smell of coffee can improve some cognitive functions. University of Toronto researchers recently published results which verified the concept that coffee cues prime the brain with an expectation of increased sharpness. Subjects from cultures where coffee drinking is common experienced higher levels of alertness and attention when primed with coffee cues than those from tea-oriented cultures.

One sign that neuromarketing has transcended its era of hype and hucksterism: Nielsen now has 16 neuro labs globally, including five in the US. One opened late last year in Cincinnati, Ohio, the heart of client country and home to Procter & Gamble, which is among the marketers that now have neuroscientists in-house.

"I think the industry is still a little bit of wild, wild west. It's still got plenty of snake oil in it," says Duane Varan, CEO of MediaScience.


Trump sought out loyalist to curtail special counsel — and drew Mueller’s glare: WP reports, Trump’s efforts to enlist Corey Lewandowski as a back channel were read by some legal observers as one of the clearest cases for potential obstruction of justice laid out in Robert S. Mueller III's report.

Admitted Russian agent Butina to be sentenced in US, faces deportation: Reuters reports, admitted Russian agent Maria Butina will be sentenced on Friday by a federal judge after pleading guilty in December to conspiring with a Russian official to infiltrate a gun rights group and influence U.S. conservative activists and Republicans.

USA Today: Maria Butina is not a Russian spy, but a 'spotter': DOJ revives intrigue over gun rights activist

Rolling Stone: 17 takeaways from Maria Butina’s sentencing memo

The NRA-friendly Russian national reveals a plot to get Vladimir Putin on American cable TV.

FT: Sanders launches attack on Biden over lobbyist fundraiser event

Attendance at private function underlines ex-vice president’s urgent need for cash.

Reuters: Like Trump, Democrat Buttigieg bills himself as a turnaround expert

Bloomberg: Biden banks on Trump to help win White House in 2020

"Biden’s strategy – which his campaign said will include an emphasis on rebuilding the middle class and unifying the country – comes after more than two years of party post-mortems concluded that Hillary Clinton’s almost single-minded emphasis on Trump’s shortcomings contributed to her loss in 2016."

Offshore drilling + 2020: The Trump administration has shelved plans for a vast expansion in offshore oil and gas drilling following a court decision blocking fossil fuel activity in large swaths of the Arctic. Offshore drilling is not seen as such a swell idea in Trump must-win state Florida.

Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox: America’s future depends on the bedroom, not the border: With a historically low unemployment rate, America is running low on workers in everything from high-tech to construction, manufacturing and services as Donald Trump’s stronger immigration policies help raise wages for existing US workers, from the lowest paid to well-paid construction workers, for the first time in decades.


Uber ratcheted down its target valuation to a range of about $80 billion to $90 billion.

FT: Uber to pitch IPO between $44 and $50 a share

Ride-hailing app could raise $8bn-$10bn and will sell about $500m of stock to PayPal.

Nikkei: Japan's Don Quijote exports retail 'jungles' in age of Amazon

Discounter bets on bricks-and-mortar chaos to win Asian customers.

Bloomberg: The cult Japanese retailer making billions breaking all the rules

Don Quijote is a little like a mashup of TJ Maxx, Dollar Tree, Costco, and the no-frills grocer Aldi, with a dollop of Japanese eccentricity thrown in. 

“I haven’t seen anything else quite like Don Quijote,” says Michael Causton, a retail analyst in Tokyo for Japan Consuming. “It’s chaotic, messy stores, which belie what’s behind it—a highly disciplined, extremely rigorous management philosophy.”

Retail experts have described Donki, as it’s popularly known, as a jungle, a hoarder’s paradise, even a fire hazard, with shelves so heavily packed they look as if they might fall over. But the heart of its strategy is simple: Floor staff should have near-total autonomy to decide what to sell.

The first target is Asia for Don Quijote, which sells everything from humidifiers to sex toys.

Walmart has unveiled a new “store of the future” and test grounds for emerging technologies, including AI-enabled cameras and interactive displays. The store, a working concept called the Intelligent Retail Lab — or “IRL” for short — operates out of a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Levittown, NY.

Amazon to roll out one-day shipping worldwide: FT reports, online retailer beats estimates as profits more than double in first quarter.

Starbucks plans to expand delivery service to 50 Chinese cities.


The new vacation perk: Celebrity encounters: WSJ reports, To let tourists come home with bragging rights, the travel industry and fundraisers are selling access to celebs, rockers, athletes and a whole host of boldfaced names.

Tim Harford: Always seek out novelty — even at home: The search for new experiences should not just be for our holidays. 

Enjoy the ride + plan accordingly.


NFL Draft, Belt and Road Forum, Japanese Scientists, Joseph R. Biden Jr., Lululemon, Jazz Fest

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What I am watching today = April 25, 2019

Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia 

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


✔️ Brexit stirs Scottish call for new independence vote

✔️ Japan creates first artificial crater on asteroid

✔️ Joe Biden launches bid for White House

✔️ Ford Motor Co. will invest $500 million in Rivian Automotive Inc.

✔️ Jazz Fest at 50


My 2019 NFL Mock Draft

First Round

1. Arizona Cardinals - Scottsdale is cool in your 60s, not so much in your 20s.

2. San Francisco 49ers - You'll have a chance to invest in the next Theranos.

3. New York Jets - "No, we are the Jets. Not the Giants."

4. Oakland Raiders - "It's actually crazier in the locker room."

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Ybor City looks fun.

6. New York Giants - The fourth most valuable franchise in the NFL.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars - "Jacksonville, do you believe in miracles?" - that was 23 years ago.

8. Detroit Lions - At least "The Captain" Steve Yzerman is back in town.

9. Buffalo Bills - You'll love Toronto.

10. Denver Broncos - It's the Vic Fangio era. Enough said.

11. Cincinnati Bengals - Love that WKRP and chili on spaghetti. Amazing.

12. Green Bay Packers - "No way. Aaron Rodgers is not a diva. No way."

13. Miami Dolphins - You'll wish you worked at a Hard Rock.

14. Atlanta Falcons - "One of our players married a Real Housewife of Atlanta!"

15. Washington Redskins - Only the White House is more poorly managed in this town.

16. Carolina Panthers - The floppy hair and khakis capital.

17. New York Giants - The ninth most valuable professional sports franchise in the world.

18. Minnesota Vikings - Still a spectacular stadium.

19. Tennessee Titans - "Did we tell you Vince Young appeared on the cover art for the Madden NFL 08?"

20. Pittsburgh Steelers - Playoff appearances = 1947, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.

21. Seattle Seahawks - Seahawk is another name for Osprey.

22. Baltimore Ravens - Have you had a crab cake sandwich?

23. Houston Texans - Astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly are fans.

24. Oakland Raiders - Peaking for Las Vegas!

25. Philadelphia Eagles - "Yes, Gritty is more horrifying in person."

26. Indianapolis Colts - The owner just bought the piano used by John Lennon for 'Sgt. Pepper' album.

27. Oakland Raiders - Three picks in the first round, still won't matter.

28. Los Angeles Chargers - High schools in Texas have more fans in the stands.

29. Seattle Seahawks - Some QBs give watches, Russell Wilson gives linemen Amazon stock.

30. Green Bay Packers - "Seriously. Aaron Rodgers is not a diva."

31. Los Angeles Rams - Headquartered in Agoura Hills, California. You know the place where the filming of the M.A.S.H TV series took place.

32. New England Patriots - Denting the Vince Lombardi Trophy?!? Did Gronk just put a curse on the team?!?


Marc A. Ross specializes in thought leader strategy for executives and entrepreneurs working at the intersection of globalization, disruption, and politics.


Brexit stirs Scottish call for new independence vote: WSJ reports, Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon said she would seek another referendum on secession. The head of the Scottish government called for another referendum on secession from the UK within two years if Brexit goes ahead, saying independence would allow Scotland to keep its place in the European Union.

Therese Raphael: Watch out, UK Conservatives. Nigel Farage is coming after you. His new Brexit Party seeks seats in the European Parliament, but his larger ambition is realigning British politics.

FT: Hammond to seek UK deals in China’s Belt and Road Initiative

The chancellor to lobby for British companies to provide finance or engineering expertise.

Belt and Road forum: China's 'project of the century' hits tough times: Guardian reports, a raft of countries including Turkey have refused to attend latest summit amid growing concern about debt diplomacy.

Belt and Road Forum: Is the China-Pakistan economic corridor failing? DW reports, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan is participating in the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing amid reports that the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project is not really moving forward.

Spy chiefs in uproar over leak from secret Huawei talks: The Times, an unprecedented leak from highly confidential talks with senior ministers about the Chinese telecoms company Huawei has caused outrage among spy chiefs. There were calls for an inquiry after reports emerged of a meeting at which Theresa May was said to have given Huawei approval 

Catalonia: The crisis at the heart of Spain's election: Reuters reports, proudly displaying two Spanish flags he brought to wave at a Vox rally, retired police officer Jose Antonio Corrales Sierra says he will vote for the far-right party in Sunday's election and is ditching the mainstream PP conservatives because of Catalonia.

France's Macron to unveil long-awaited reform plan: AFP reports, Macron will unveil Thursday his long-awaited response to nearly six months of street protests as he lays out reform plans that could prove decisive for his political future. Macron, 41, swept to power in 2017 on hopes he would be a youthful breath of fresh air for France.

In rare move, French warship passes through Taiwan Strait: Reuters reports, a French warship passed through the strategic Taiwan Strait this month, U.S. officials told Reuters, a rare voyage by a vessel of a European country that is likely to be welcomed by Washington but increase tension with Beijing.

AFP: China says navy warned off French warship in Taiwan Strait

"The Chinese military sent warships in accordance with the law, in order to identify the French ship, and warn it to sail away," Ren Guoqiang said at a monthly press briefing.

FT - Editorial: A US-China trade deal will not resolve all the tensions: The world’s long-term future depends on managing this relationship.


New missile gap leaves US scrambling to counter China: Reuters reports, American aircraft carriers are the backbone of US military supremacy in Asia. But Xi Jinping's upgraded Rocket Force could render them obsolete in a conflict with China.

Nikkei: Xi poses a riddle and reignites speculation about his successors

Talk of a 'President Chen Min'er' and 'Premier Hu Chunhua' swirl in capital.

Why would Xi Jinping allow himself to be seen flanked by Chen Min'er and Hu Chunhua? Perhaps to prepare for a political battle that is still more than three years away.

LAT: After Trump walked out on him, North Korea’s Kim meets with Putin in Russia

Putin, Kim summit shows Kremlin’s increasing political dominance
: WP reports, the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent a stark signal to the United States that the Kremlin can wield influence over Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

OTD: In 1945 the San Francisco Conference began, at which the UN Charter was drafted.


Measles outbreak in US is largest since disease was declared eliminated: NYT reports, the outbreak, linked to skepticism about vaccines, has led to extraordinary measures, including $1,000 fines and bans on unvaccinated children in public.

Japan creates first artificial crater on asteroid: AFP reports, Japanese scientists have succeeded in creating what they called the first-ever artificial crater on an asteroid, a step towards shedding light on how the solar system evolved, the country's space agency said Thursday. The announcement comes after the Hayabusa2 probe fired an explosive device at the Ryugu asteroid early this month to blast a crater in the surface and scoop up material, aiming to reveal more about the origins of life on Earth.


NYT: Trump vows stonewall of ‘all’ House subpoenas

Deutsche Bank hands over Donald Trump loan documents
: reports: DW reports, the German lender has started providing files to New York authorities related to funding of Trump projects. Investigators are interested in Deutsche Bank as it is one of the few banks to lend to the Trump Organization.

Steven L. Hall: ‘No collusion’? I managed Russia operations at the CIA. Read between the lines.

"Counterintelligence investigations don’t always result in charges. Just ask Felix Bloch."

Jonathan Bernstein: The resistance is coming from inside the White House: Trump staffers are already known to ignore the president, and it’s a tendency that will only continue.

Pence hits the road to save new Trump trade deal: FT reports, the vice-president seeks to rally support for an agreement with Canada and Mexico.

Biden enters 2020 Democratic presidential race: WSJ reports, former Vice President Joe Biden said he would seek the Democratic nomination in 2020, launching a third bid for the White House as a blue-collar stalwart in a party hungry to defeat President Trump.

Biden is running for president, after months of hesitation: NYT reports, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has stayed on the sideline while his record has been scrutinized. His entry has the potential to reshape the Democratic primary contest.

Joe Biden launches bid for White House: FT reports, the former vice-president faces big questions over age, gaffes and his behavior around women.

Joe Biden enters the presidential race, testing whether his time has come — or come and gone: LAT reports, Joe Biden launches a third bid for the presidency at the age of 76, and his entry could give new shape to the sprawling candidate field.

Joe Biden jumps into crowded 2020 race: WP reports, the former vice president, who is making his third bid for the Democratic nomination, took direct aim at President Trump and declared that “we are in the battle for the soul of this nation.”

Biden is a first-tier candidate.

My top Dem buddy strategist thinks Beto is the dude to beat.

US broadcaster under scrutiny for disseminating propaganda: WSJ reports, federal officials are scrutinizing the US government’s Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, established to promote democratic values abroad, after complaints it has distributed propaganda favorable to authoritarian regimes in Central Asia. 


Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank ended merger talks.

Walmart’s British arm is blocked from merger with UK supermarket: WSJ reports, regulators blocked the proposed merger between Walmart’s British grocery unit and rival J Sainsbury citing competition concerns, meaning the US retail giant must now find ways to drive stand-alone growth for Asda in the UK’s highly competitive retail market.

Facebook set aside $3 billion for an expected fine from the Federal Trade Commission over privacy issues, cutting into profit even as its underlying business remained strong.

Tesla on Wednesday that it lost $702 million in the first quarter, a sharp reversal from the profits it made in the second half of last year. 

Musk signals Tesla cash call after burning through $1.5 billion: FT reports, the carmaker indicates readiness to raise outside capital after net loss of $702m in first quarter.

Huawei hits out at claims of state control through 'employee' stake: Nikkei reports, the staff lack direct ownership interest, admits executive, but have rights of shareholders.

Chinese companies face surging write-offs: Nikkei reports, after a global investment spree, impairments weigh on tech and energy companies.

Reuters: Volkswagen plans electric vehicle plant with JAC in China: local government

Ford Motor Co. will invest $500 million in Rivian Automotive Inc., aligning the maker of the industry-leading F-Series pickup line with an upstart that’s electrifying gas-guzzling trucks and sport utility vehicles.

Lululemon to launch line of grooming products.

Bloomberg: Microsoft poised to top $1 trillion in value, beating Amazon and Apple

Microsoft gained 5.2 percent in pre-market trading after its third-quarter earnings.


Jazz Fest at 50: The stubbornness and joy of New Orleans: NYT reports, over a half-century, the eclectic and beloved live-music and food event has grown inseparable from the cultural ecosystem of its hometown.

Enjoy the ride + plan accordingly.


Queen Elizabeth II, Kim Jong Un, CRISPR, Joe Biden, Guy Raz

MRD July.png

What I am watching today = April 24, 2019
Curation and commentary from 
Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia 

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


✔️ Trump finally gets his British state visit

✔️ Drones to deliver medicines to 12 million people in Ghana

✔️ Beer and cigarette makers join the pot lobbying parade

✔️ Beyond Meat targets $1.2 billion valuation

✔️ Tribeca Film Festival opens in New York


Brigadoon Remote 2019 - Save the Date

Think of four days where you can work remotely in a country estate, spend the day as you want, work on your book, strategize, think, read, whiteboard, check-out, go for a hike, and have evening dinners with fellow participants where the topic of conversation is business development and entrepreneurship.

November 11-15, 2019
One hour outside of Edinburgh, Scotland
Limited to 7 participants
$250.00 deposit secures your spot

Ping at if you want to attend.



London Town: Trump and FLOTUS accepted the invitation of Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to visit the United Kingdom from June 3 to 5, 2019.

Trump finally gets his British state visit — but tensions that led to delay remain: WP reports, the president, deeply unpopular in Britain, will probably not be able to avoid massive demonstrations against his visit, scheduled for early June.

May approves Huawei involvement in UK 5G network: FT reports, Chinese telecoms group banned from most sensitive parts of project on security concerns.

The Times: Theresa May set to anger US with ‘limited access’ for Huawei

: The funeral of Lyra McKee, the Northern Irish journalist who was shot dead last week during riots, is held in Belfast.

China's Belt and Road cracks down on corruption in image revamp: Bloomberg reports, the Belt and Road Initiative is getting a makeover to tone down government rhetoric and tighten oversight, after allegations of corruption and a lack of sustainability dogged some of its highest-profile projects. Beijing is taking a range of steps to exert more control over the program, officials and participants said, including a more muted publicity drive, clearer rules for state-owned-enterprises, restricting use of the BRI brand, and building overseas auditing and anti-corruption mechanisms. It’s also stepping up efforts to get developed nations to join in to spread the risk of building projects in poorer nations and to counter allegations that BRI is just an attempt to build China’s political influence.

Beijing to defend initiative as it welcomes 37 heads of state to summit this week.

Chinese enterprises invested over $90 billion in BRI countries.

China has signed 173 cooperation documents on BRI with 125 countries and 29 international organizations as of April 18, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.

OTD: In 1970 China launched its first satellite, which orbited the Earth transmitting the patriotic tune The East is Red.

Mnuchin and Lighthizer to head to Beijing as trade talks resume: FT reports, talks to focus on stubborn hurdles of intellectual property, technology transfers.

“The subjects of next week’s discussions will cover trade issues including intellectual property, forced technology transfer, non-tariff barriers, agriculture, services, purchases, and enforcement,” the White House said.

Kim and Putin set for talks as Russia seeks influence: FT reports, Pyongyang pivots to northern neighbor as ties founder with US.

‘I have long dreamed of visiting’: Kim Jong Un arrives in Russia for talks with Putin: WP reports, the Kremlin has said no major agreements will be signed during Kim’s meeting with Vladimir Putin, which is expected to take place behind closed doors.

Russia's Putin meets North Korea's Kim: Side-show or power move in nuclear crisis? DW reports, in the wake of stalled nuclear talks with the US, Kim is seeking diplomatic assistance from the Kremlin. Russia wants stability on its far-eastern border — but President Putin may have a bigger picture in mind.

Martin Wolf: The age of the elected despot is here: People want to believe a powerful and charismatic leader is on their side in an unjust world.


A new normal: A journey through America’s complex history with cannabis. Directed by Spike Jonze. (video)

University of California gets its CRISPR patent: Six years after the initial application — and after a legal dispute that sucked up tens of millions of dollars — a foundational CRISPR-Cas9 patent will be granted to the University of California. The patent, based on the work of Jennifer Doudna, Emmanuelle Charpentier, and their colleagues, covers CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing in every kind of cell, in lab dishes and in living organisms. 

FT: Drones to deliver medicines to 12 million people in Ghana

Zipline project is the world’s largest drone delivery network. The drones are planned to be able to deliver to 2,000 clinics across Ghana.


WP: White House plans to fight House subpoena of former counsel Donald McGahn for testimony on Mueller report

: In 1800 President John Adams approved the spending of $5,000 to establish a Library of Congress.

WSJ: S&P 500 and NASDAQ hit closing records

Stocks have flourished this year—the S&P 500 is up 17% while the Nasdaq has gained 22%.

Morning Consult Political Intelligence report:

- Biden remains the top overall pick among all likely Democratic primary voters and voters in early primary states.

- Buttigieg moves up to third place with 9% of the vote: More than half (64%) of likely Democratic primary voters have now heard of Buttigieg.

- Health care and the economy remain the most important issues to Democratic voters.

- Trump's approval hits record low: The President's net approval of -18 is his worst since taking office.

Trump camp descends on Pennsylvania as alarms grow over 2020: Politico reports, the president's team is set to meet with a state Republican Party riven by dissension.

Larry Hogan derides Trump as ‘dear leader’: Politico reports, Maryland Governor Hogan (R) said he's unafraid to stand up to the president but is in no rush to jump into the 2020 race.

Joe Biden: He’ll be the 21st Democrat to enter the party’s 2020 presidential field and will now announce his 2020 presidential bid on Thursday.

WP: Joe Biden to enter 2020 presidential race with Thursday video announcement

Inside Biden's battle plan
: Politico reports, he is seeking to mark his entrance into the 2020 race with a rush of union support, early-state endorsements, and fundraising figures.

Rivals are scrambling to dig up dirt on Pete Buttigieg: NBC News, Buttigieg was on nobody's radar as a serious presidential contender until a few weeks ago. Now his competitors are scrambling to find vulnerabilities.

Beto O’Rourke opens his California campaign Saturday in Los Angeles: LAT reports, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke will launch his 2020 California Democratic presidential primary campaign on Saturday with a four-day swing, stopping in Los Angeles, San Francisco, the Central Valley, and San Diego.

Trump orders administration officials not to attend White House correspondents dinner: Reuters reports, Trump, who bemoaned his treatment by the news media in a flurry of tweets on Tuesday, has barred members of his staff and administration from attending the White House Correspondents' Association dinner on Saturday, officials said.

Beer and cigarette makers join the pot lobbying parade: Politico reports, the push to legalize marijuana quickly transformed the cannabis industry into a multibillion-dollar legal business. And now Fortune 500 companies and elite K Street lobbying firms have joined the green gold rush. Altria, the tobacco giant better known for Marlboros, recently took a $1.8 billion stake in the cannabis company Cronos Group. Constellation Brands, which makes Corona beer, has spent money on cannabis lobbying after making a major investment in Canopy Growth, a Canadian marijuana company. On K Street, powerhouse firms like Holland & Knight — which has represented Comcast, Google and Dow Chemical — have taken on marijuana clients.

Pot may be illegal at the federal level but corporate giants and K Street are preparing for the push to legalize.


Applied Materials halts work for red-flagged Chinese chipmaker: FT reports, US supplier pulls staff from San’an Optoelectronics following government listing.

Pepsi dispenser: PepsiCo has announced a new beverage dispenser for the food service sector, colleges, and workplaces. The "hydration platform" is aimed at encouraging people to fill up their own reusable bottles, and not with soda, but rather with flavored, carbonated water. is preparing to take the family tree research/DNA testing company public amid increasing consumer interest in DNA tests.

Beyond Meat targets $1.2 billion valuation when it becomes the first plant-based meat company to IPO.

PayPal's Venmo closes in on a new partnership to launch a credit card.

Luminary, flush with $100 million in funding, wants to sell you a $8/month subscription to deliver exclusive podcasts. It’s planning to eventually roll out more than 40 ad-free shows, which include Guy Raz (of How I Built This fame), Lena Dunham, and Trevor Noah.

Wing Aviation, a unit of Alphabet’s Google, received the first US authorization to operate a fleet of consumer delivery drones.

SoftBank Group plans to invest about $1 billion in Wirecard, forging a partnership that allows SoftBank to take a minority stake in the German payments company.

Nikkei: Huawei closes technology gap with Apple on chip design

Chinese 4G semiconductors already 'equal to or better than' US tech giant.


LAT: As Coachella raged, the LA tech world made plans to live on Mars

Betaspace, billed as the place where “Burning Man and the Consumer Electronics Show collide.” 

Today: Tribeca Film Festival opens in New York.

Enjoy the ride + plan accordingly.


Sri Lanka, Adidas, Don McGahn, Luckin Coffee, Beyoncé

MRD July.png

What I am watching today = April 23, 2019

Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia 

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


✔️ Sri Lanka links bombings to New Zealand attacks

✔️ A new Adidas shoe uses just one material + fully recyclable

✔️ Pelosi urges caution on impeachment 

✔️ Amazon strengthens ties with Casino

✔️ The mystery of business casual


7 deadly sins of communications

Based on my experience, communication efforts fail because of these seven reasons:

1. No clear and consistent strategy

2. Over-indexing on tactics

3. Poor organization and staffing

4. No consistency or editorial calendar 

5. Know-how is not shared and made available

6. Efforts are reactive and by chance

7. Online activities not in sync with offline activities



Sri Lanka links bombings to New Zealand attacks: WSJ reports, Sri Lanka’s government has information indicating the plotters of Easter bombings that killed more than 300 people were reacting to the New Zealand shootings that left 50 Muslims dead in March, the country’s defense minister said.

Huawei has received funding from Beijing security agencies: According to a source for The Times, which indicates the CIA warned British intelligence of the links; China’s National Security Commission, the People’s Liberation Army and another branch of Chinese intelligence reportedly funded the telecom.

At Tokyo C20, civil society leaders from around the world press to be heard at Osaka G20: JTJ reports, participants from 40 countries concluded a gathering in Tokyo calling for inclusion at the Group of 20 leaders’ summit set to be hosted by Osaka this year.

Kim Jong Un will soon visit Russia to meet Vladimir Putin.

Japan softens tone on North Korea and Russia in foreign policy report as Abe pursues deals: TJT reports, Tokyo removed a reference to applying “maximum pressure” on Pyongyang and stopped short of explicitly claiming ownership of the Russian-held islands off Hokkaido.

FT: Japan scrambles to recover F-35 jet before Russia or China

Civilian ship joins search operation that highlights sensitivity of craft’s technology.

US, Indian navies practice hunting submarines together in Indian Ocean: Stars & Stripes reports, a Navy P-8A Poseidon and guided-missile destroyer recently joined with the Indian navy’s P8-I Neptune for submarine-hunting drills near Diego Garcia. 
To help counter China, US turns to the Coast Guard: WP reports, as a US Coast Guard cutter sailed through the East China Sea last month, Chinese vessels shadowed it on the high seas, service officials said. It was a reminder to the Americans of where they were: in a strategic area a couple hundred miles from China’s shores. 

How China is replacing US as Asia’s military titan: Reuters reports, Chinese leader Xi Jinping has refashioned the People's Liberation Army into a force that is rapidly closing the gap on US firepower – and in some vital areas has surpassed it. American victory over China in a regional war is no longer assured.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s unsteady steps revive worries over Beijing succession plan: WSJ reports, images of a slightly limping Xi Jinping stirred questions about his health and renewed concerns about succession plans for the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao.


London calling: Trump to pay a state visit to Britain in June as a guest of Queen Elizabeth II.

How to become the next prime minister: The next Conservative leader must clear three tricky hurdles before they end up in Downing Street.

Brexiteers rewrite the rules in fresh bid to oust May: The Times reports, Tory Brexiteers will make a fresh attempt today to oust Theresa May within weeks by changing party rules to allow another challenge to her leadership. Members of the party’s powerful backbench 1922 Committee are to meet this afternoon for an emergency session.

Colm Kelleher: The EU’s post-Brexit ambitions miss an important point: Lost in the London v Europe dogfight is a larger truth — the market is global, not regional.

How long will Angela Merkel's chancellorship last? DW reports, Angela Merkel says she wants to remain in office until her term is up. But behind the scenes, plans are already being hatched for Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to take over the chancellorship.


A new Adidas shoe uses just one material – and is fully recyclable: Usually, Adidas's trainers include more than 12 different materials. The Futurecraft.Loop uses one plastic and could usher in an era of shoe subscriptions.

"It's estimated that 300 million pairs of running shoes are thrown away each year in the UK alone."


FNC: House Judiciary chairman subpoenas ex-White House counsel Don McGahn

Mueller report fallout threatens to redefine constraints on presidency: WP reports, the aftermath of the special counsel’s report, as well as Congress’s inability to help serve as a check on President Trump, could create a precedent in which it remains unclear where to draw lines on presidential behavior.

NYT: Pelosi urges caution on impeachment as some Democrats push to begin

Kamala Harris calls for impeachment of Trump: FT reports, the California senator is second major presidential contender to demand Congress acts.

Meet the Democrats’ new voice on foreign policy: Politico reports, Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) is an unlikely member of Congress. But he's fast becoming a force on Capitol Hill.

Herman Cain withdrew from consideration for the Federal Reserve board.

Lighthizer aide to depart as US-China trade talks progress: FT reports, the top legal adviser to Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative, is leaving the Trump administration at a delicate moment in the negotiations to resolve Washington’s trade dispute with China. Stephen Vaughn, the general counsel at USTR, will be replaced by Joseph Barloon, a lawyer at Skadden Arps, in the role in the coming weeks

Q1 2019 fundraising totals:

1. Trump $30m
2. Bernie Sanders $21m
3. Elizabeth Warren $17m
4. Kamala Harris $13m
5. Kirsten Gillibrand $12.6m

Where is Howard Schultz?

NYT: Biden looms, but Bernie Sanders is running his own race

Hogan visits New Hampshire, hoping to find activists eager for an intraparty fight
: WP reports, even though most New Hampshire polls show most of the GOP base is solidly behind President Trump, the moderate Republican governor of Maryland is flirting with a primary challenge.

How to redesign GDP for the 21st century: Quartz reports, for decades, economists have tried to come up with better methods of measuring the economy than gross domestic product. But the dominance of GDP—a single figure, universally understood, and widely used for almost a century—has endured. This is despite its shortcomings gauging wellbeing and other factors that are important to a nation’s economic health. Now, though, some economists have created an ambitious new measure with the potential to challenge the preeminence of GDP. This new metric doesn’t directly measure happiness or wealth or development, but calculates something else GDP neglects—free digital goods and services. These 21st-century technologies have basically broken 20th-century practices for measuring the economy. MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, along with Avinash Collis, W. Erwin Diewert, Felix Eggers and Kevin J. Fox, have developed “GDP-B”. It’s designed to capture the numerical value of the things that we don’t pay for but still have plenty of value, such as online maps, photos taken on smartphones, Wikipedia, and social media.


This Estonian start-up is a thorn in Uber’s side: NYT reports, the ride-hailing company Bolt is an unexpected success story, and an example of a troublesome global trend for Uber.

Amazon strengthens ties with French food retailer Casino: Reuters reports, Amazon and French retailer Casino are expanding their partnership, with Amazon installing pick-up lockers in Casino stores and making more of the French company’s products available on Amazon.

Last April I predicted that Amazon would buy a French retailer.

Luckin Coffee has filed to list publicly in the US as the loss-making company battles to dethrone Starbucks in China.


Beyday: HBO had been courting Beyoncé in an attempt to air Homecoming, a behind-the-scenes look at her Coachella performance. Then, Netflix made a counteroffer so large that HBO — which has spent decades cultivating a reputation as a distributor with staggering coffers — balked and had to pull out. We now have that number: Variety reports Netflix inked a $60 million deal with Beyoncé for three projects, meaning that Homecoming sold for $20 million. It’s good to be the queen.

The mystery of business casual: No one knows what shoes to wear to work. Silicon Valley has an answer.

In defense of disorder: Humans love laws and seek predictability. But like our Universe, which thrives on entropy, we need disorder to flourish.

Enjoy the ride + plan accordingly.