What I am watching today = April 5, 2019
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross
Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia
News + Analysis at the Intersection of Globalization + Disruption + Politics
✔️ Has Russia infiltrated the German Parliament?
✔️ UK’s May requests further Brexit delay
✔️ Vast majority of Canadians are concerned about plastic waste
✔️ Adm. Bill Moran: It’s time to make data strategic for our Navy
✔️ Juventus poised to win eighth straight Serie A title
BBC: Has Russia infiltrated the German Parliament?http://bit.ly/2UrOh1y
Must watch = BBC's Newsnight on how Russia supports confusion and chaos in the West via elections.
China also employs similar entrepreneurial spycraft tactics - think the recent Mar a Lago operation.
Julian Assange to be kicked out of Ecuadorian embassy: WikiLeaks: DW reports, WikiLeaks said its founder will be expelled from Ecuador's London embassy within "hours to days." The non-profit said the INA papers scandal, which has implicated Ecuador's president, was the pretext for the expulsion.
Days to Brexit (current) deadline: 7
The EU increasingly sees a long Brexit delay as the most likely outcome of an emergency leaders’ summit next week, even though it’s neither side’s preference.
UK’s May requests further Brexit delay: WSJ reports, the British government requested an additional delay to Brexit until June 30 to buy more time to get a divorce deal through parliament, as the EU debated its own timetable for the UK’s departure.
FT: May seeks to delay Brexit until end of June
The request comes as Donald Tusk offers to postpone UK departure by up to 1 year.
On the quiet, UK prepares for 'zombie' European polls: AFP reports, the prospect of Britain holding European elections would have been unthinkable just weeks ago but with the Brexit timetable now uncertain, the country is reluctantly planning for a possible campaign. Village halls and schools across the country are being booked as polling centers, and orders placed with specialist stationers for tens of millions of ballots in case the May 23 vote goes ahead.
Britain to take part in European Parliament elections, signaling a significant delay to Brexit: WP reports, the move satisfies a key demand from the European Union, which has said Britain cannot remain in the bloc beyond May 22 if it did not hold the elections.
French benefit: France is already reaping some Brexit benefits, with the number of British investment projects on French soil rising 33 percent in 2018.
France hosts wary G7 in shadow of Trump snub, Brexit and yellow vests: Reuters reports, France offered a wary welcome to foreign ministers from the Group of Seven on Friday for a meeting overshadowed by a snub from Donald Trump’s U.S. administration, a meltdown in Britain over Brexit and months of anti-government protests at home.
Miami Herald: Feds are investigating possible Chinese spying at Mar-a-Lago and Cindy Yang, sources say
"The consulate and China’s Embassy in Washington, DC, did not respond to questions about who Zhang is and whether she works for China’s government."
Trump says US-China trade deal close, but no summit plans yet: WSJ reports, Trump says ‘this is an epic deal, historic—if it happens,’ but Trade Representative Lighthizer says major issues remain.
NYT: ‘Epic’ China trade deal near completion, Trump says, but haggling continues
EPIC = Hilarious
Bloomberg: China hails 'new consensus’ on trade as Trump talks up unfinished deal
US and China delay possible trade deal: FT reports, Trump says an agreement will be reached within 4 weeks as toughest issues resolved.
Reuters: Biotech crops among sticking points in US-China trade deal: sources
"There seem to be two main sticking points holding up completion of the deal. One, China wants the Trump administration to immediately lift tariffs on Chinese-made products, while the Trump team wants to see China taking steps to demonstrate good faith before it relieves the pressure. Two, the two sides can't agree on a mechanism by which US officials can verify that China is keeping its new promises over time." -- Signal, GZERO Media
A victory for Trump: Companies are rethinking China: Keith Bradsher at the NYT reports, the trade war between the United States and China is nearing a possible truce. But global companies are nevertheless moving to reduce their dependence on Chinese factories to make goods.
Jenny Leonard: Don’t count on US-China trade relations warming up anytime soon: Despite positive messages from both sides, hopes are fading that they can find mutually beneficial policies.
EU-China summit preparations stumble over trade, human rights: Reuters, tensions over trade, investments and minority rights may prevent China and the EU from agreeing a joint declaration at a summit next week, four diplomats in Brussels said on Friday, sapping a European push for greater access to Chinese markets.
Peter Martin and Alan Crawford: China’s influence digs deep into Europe’s political landscape: China has an array of advocates of all political persuasions across Europe.
First it was money. Then it was food and electricity. Now, Venezuelans are struggling to find water. WP reports, for millions of people in this oil-rich nation, the breakdown of basic services has reduced life to a daily struggle to secure fundamental needs — and as shortages spread, many say, it’s getting harder.
US to Europe on NATO: Washington is more than Donald Trump: DW reports, NATO's unresolved long-term issues won't go away. But on its 70th anniversary event in the US capital, the trans-Atlantic alliance at least received the timely affirmation that broader Washington is behind it.
Wrapped in plastic is not fantastic, Canadians say: CBC reports, the vast majority of Canadians are concerned about plastic waste, believe individuals and businesses have a responsibility to reduce it and feel strongly that not enough is being done by government to address the issue, a new poll suggests
"Right now, just 11 percent of plastic used in Canada is recycled. The polling suggests that about three-quarters of Canadians accept that it's their responsibility to reduce plastic, but less than half said they knew of places they could shop for products with little plastic packaging."
Google scraps ethics council for artificial intelligence: FT reports, Google's AI ethics board has bitten the dust just one week after its formation. It was a chaotic few days, with thousands of Googlers and others decrying its inclusion of drone company chief Dyen Gibbens and Kay Coles James, head of the right-wing Heritage Foundation. One of the key AI ethics problems is to do with algorithmic bias, and James is an opponent of LGBTQ rights, so people thought she was a pretty terrible fit for the role. One board member resigned and others squirmed, and eventually, Google pulled the plug.
Bloomberg: Americans drank less alcohol in 2018 for the third straight year
1. Americans are drinking less.
2. When they do drink, it's higher-end stuff.
3. And they want to try something lower-cal (but refreshing).
Average price of brand-name drugs more than 18 times higher than generics: A new report on changes in generic drug pricing from AARP’s Public Policy Institute finds that brand-name drugs in 2017 were, on average, more than 18 times the price of their generic counterparts. The average annual cost for a generic drug taken regularly was $365, but the price for the brand-name equivalent was close to $6,800.
Potentially damaging information in Mueller report starts political fight: WP reports, Attorney General William P. Barr is facing more pressure to release the full report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III amid revelations that members of the Russia probe team are frustrated with the limited information that Barr has released so far.
Trump intends to nominate former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain to the Federal Reserve’s board.
Today: Trump goes to California to see a newly built section of the wall along the border with Mexico.
Where Rudy Giuliani’s money comes from: Bloomberg reports, while he represents the president for free, he travels the world consulting, giving speeches, and building his brand.
Adm. Bill Moran: It’s time to make data strategic for our Navy: Our military is in a high-stakes race to harness the power of data, a revolution that may make previous leaps in military technology — think radar, nuclear power, or space — seem trifling in comparison. To fully seize these opportunities before our adversaries do, we need to look less at the technologies we covet and more in the mirror about our own data structures and culture. http://bit.ly/2UwhpVp
The Blitzscaling basics: In their new book, Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh explain why it often makes sense to prioritize growth over efficiency. http://bit.ly/2Uwq3mS
LAX expansion plans call for a new terminal east of Sepulveda Boulevard: LAT reports, the new and expanded terminals should open before Los Angeles hosts the 2028 Summer Olympic Games, Los Angeles World Airports spokesman Heath Montgomery said. More precise timing and a cost estimate will be determined during a future environmental analysis, he said.
Matthew A. Winkler: Los Angeles is having a loud economic boom: From home values to share prices, its expansion is outpacing big-city peers under a business-friendly Democratic mayor.
The US average home price hit a record high of $300K (that's thanks to a surge in houses above $750K).
AFP: Facebook to block foreign ads for Australia election
European Commission finds German automakers illegally colluded on emissions technology: DW reports, German car giants VW, Daimler, and BMW colluded to restrict the development of technology to clean emissions from passenger cars, the European Commission said in preliminary findings from its antitrust probe.
Snap announced a new ad-supported gaming platform at its Partner Summit, following recent moves into the market by other tech companies. However, the company's business model - called Snap Games - stands in contrast to Apple's, which will be based on a subscription.
JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon's annual letter to shareholders muses on cybersecurity, capitalism, and recessions.
Elon Musk visited court after ignoring an SEC order for Tesla lawyers to screen his tweets pre-tweet (the judge gave him 2 weeks to agree to a settlement with the SEC).
Lenny Rachitsky: What seven years at Airbnb taught me about building a company http://bit.ly/2UyFV8i
Amazon reportedly working on Alexa earbuds to take on Apple’s AirPods.
Passport control: A record 93 million US citizens traveled outside the country in 2018.
Hemp clothing is happening, and no, it won’t get you high: WSJ reports, once sullied by its associations with seedy drug culture, the irreproachable hemp plant is gaining ground in summer fabrics that rival wrinkly linen.
At Cosmopolitan Magazine, data is the new sex: NYT reports, Jessica Pels, the editor, is trying to save the magazine from the jaws of Instagram.
Robert A. Caro on the means and ends of power.https://nyti.ms/2UveFaR
Is Canada a city-state of Toronto? Canada's population spread:
Final Four Odds:
Texas Tech v Michigan State -2.5
Auburn v Virginia -5.5
Doc's Morning Line: Move the 3-point line back in college basketball, NCAA Tournament http://bit.ly/2K6MAmd
From a loyal reader in Cincinnati, Ohio. Go Blue!
Bloomberg: Nike nabs Naomi Osaka from Adidas in surprise endorsement deal
Tottenham Hotspur scores football’s biggest profit: FT reports, Tottenham Hotspur has reported the largest annual profit of any football club in history, providing a welcome financial boost as the English Premier League side settles into a new stadium that cost more than £1bn to construct. Pre-tax profits in the year to June 30 2018, were £138.9m, up from £51.7m a year earlier and beating the previous record of £125m made by Liverpool last season. The north London team achieved £380.7m in revenues over the twelve months, a period that covers last season, up from £309.7m a year earlier.
Juventus poised to win eighth straight Serie A title in record time.
Plans to keep smaller clubs out of Champions League: It is believed that The European Club Association (ECA) will push UEFA to make 'radical' changes to the competition after 2024. ECA want to revamp the format of the competition, which is now eight groups of four teams, to four groups of eight teams. That would mean 14 group games would be played instead of six for each team, which will include a promotion and relegation system. The 24 teams who qualify from these groups would automatically qualify for the next season's competition, meaning other clubs would have to fight for the remaining eight spots. There are also fears that UEFA will bow to the demands of their biggest clubs, including staging matches on weekends.
Enjoy the ride + plan accordingly.