Whimsical, Hyper-connected, Fucked, Ubiquitous, Deskbound

MRD July.png

What I am watching today = April 19, 2019

Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia 


✔️ 'Whimsical, uninformed': French ambassador's parting verdict on Trump

✔️ Automakers invest heavily in electric vehicles despite still-low demand

✔️ Paranoia, lies, and fear: Trump’s presidency laid bare by Mueller report

✔️ Porsche CEO eyes cooperation with Chinese technology giants

✔️ Are we really too busy to eat well?


Human contact is now a luxury good

Did you see this?

"Screens used to be for the elite. Now avoiding them is a status symbol. Anticipated spending on experiences such as leisure travel and dining is outpacing spending on goods... a direct response to the proliferation of screens." -- Nellie Bowles - technology reporter for The New York Times.

Brigadoon saw screen-free engagement as a luxury since 2013.

At the start, Brigadoon has been powerpoint free and focused on conversation driven events allowing for maximum networking and learning.

Here are three ways to treat yourself to human contact luxury:

Brigadoon Events

Brigadoon Clubs

Brigadoon Professional



New North Korea weapon likely a short-range tactical missile: WSJ reports, a new weapon North Korea claims to have tested is likely a short-range guided missile aimed at striking battlefield targets with precision, say military experts, and not one that breaches a pledge to avoid testing.

International rivalries are driving Libya towards war, UN warns: FT reports, the risk of full-blown conflict escalates as military equipment pours into oil-rich north African state.

'Whimsical, uninformed': French ambassador's parting verdict on Trump: Guardian reports,  outgoing French ambassador to the US has compared the Trump administration to the court of King Louis XIV, filled with courtiers trying to interpret the caprices of a “whimsical, unpredictable, uninformed” leader. Gérard Araud, who retires on Friday after a 37-year career that included some of the top jobs in French diplomacy, said Donald Trump’s unpredictability and his single-minded transactional interpretation of US interests was leaving the administration isolated on the world stage.

“When they say ‘America first’, it’s America alone. Basically, this president and this administration don’t have allies, don’t have friends. It’s really [about] bilateral relationships on the basis of the balance of power and the defense of narrow American interest.”

CIA shifts to focus more on Russia and Iran, director says: WSJ reports, the CIA in the past year has shifted resources to better understand nation-state adversaries such as Russia and Iran, the agency’s director said, suggesting they suffered from neglect in the post-2001 focus on terrorism.

China censors ban Leica name over Tiananmen Square video: FT reports, the German camera maker criticized for ‘Tank Man’ homage to photojournalists.

Leica draws China backlash with video invoking Tiananmen crackdown: Bloomberg, the prestigious camera maker is the latest foreign firm to spark a backlash.

China as the victim, once again...

See the full ad - here.

China invites North Korea to Belt and Road summit: AFP reports, China said Friday leaders from 37 nations and North Korean representatives will attend a summit for its Belt and Road Initiative next week as it hit back at criticism of the massive trade infrastructure project. Chinese President Xi Jinping's pet project is a $1 trillion programme that includes maritime, rail and road projects in Asia, Africa, and Europe.

China builds site to test autonomous cars in highway conditions: Bloomberg reports, state-backed Qilu Transportation Development Group Co. is using a section of an existing highway to create the test site in eastern Shandong province, a company spokesman said Thursday. Construction on the 26-kilometer-long testing site began April 12, and it is expected to start operating in September. Chinese carmakers and industry suppliers including component manufacturers are stepping up efforts to seize opportunities presented by the move toward self-driving capabilities. The stretch of highway being converted to a test site has three tunnels, one bridge, three toll-collecting points, and many slopes, Qilu said. In addition, the company will install lidar systems, sensors, weather-monitoring equipment, and intelligent traffic signs for data exchange between test vehicles, the road, and users.

Battle for .amazon domain pits retailer against South American nations: NYT reports, Amazon is the world’s biggest online retailer. It is also the world’s largest rain forest. The question is who owns the name. This is the core of an epic battle between the tech behemoth Amazon.com and eight South American countries that contain parts of the rain forest. At stake is the domain name .amazon, and who should control it on the internet.

Martin Wolf: Britain is once again the sick man of Europe: If treachery becomes part of the debate, there can only be total victory or total defeat.

Trump forces Brussels' hand on trade despite tariffs backlash: DW reports, Trump's threat of auto tariffs has finally spurred EU leaders into action on a new trade deal with Washington. As the US president seeks reelection next year, will Europe hold more clout in upcoming negotiations?

New North American trade deal modestly boosts US economy, trade panel finds: Reuters reports, the new North American free trade pact would modestly boost the US economy, especially auto parts production, but may curb vehicle assembly and limit consumer choice in cars, a hotly anticipated analysis from the U.S. International Trade Commission showed on Thursday. The report estimates that annual US real gross domestic product would increase by 0.35 percent, or $68.5 billion, on an annual basis compared to a NAFTA baseline, and would add 176,000 US jobs, while raising US exports. The ITC’s estimates are for year six of the trade deal, once it is fully implemented.

Indian man amputates finger after voting for wrong party: AFP reports, an Indian man chopped off his index finger in desperation after voting for the wrong party in the country's national election. In a video that has gone viral on social media, Pawan Kumar said he became confused by the symbols on the electronic voting machine and voted for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party instead of its regional rival in Uttar Pradesh state on Thursday.


New York rents hit all-time high as ownership loses appeal: FT reports, Trump’s tax code changes and property market nerves leave landlords with the upper hand.

FT - Editorial: Meat needs to justify its place on our tables: Yet we do not all have to go vegetarian to save our health or planet.

Automakers invest heavily in electric vehicles despite still-low demand: Reuters reports, last year, only about 2 percent of U.S. auto sales were comprised of full electric or plug-electric hybrid models, with Tesla Inc accounting for more than a third of those sales. The United States ranks seventh in EV sales as a percentage of overall sales, according to the International Energy Agency. Michelle Krebs, analyst at online marketplace Autotrader, expects EV sales to remain relatively modest until charging infrastructure, prices and battery performance improve. “It’s going to be a pretty long runway,” Krebs said, adding EV sales may first rise dramatically in government and corporate fleets.

Coming soon to China: the car of the future: AFP reports, global automakers are positioning for a brave new world of on-demand transport that will require a car of the future -- hyper-connected, autonomous, and shared -- and China may become the concept's laboratory. With ride-hailing services booming and car-sharing not far behind, the need for vehicles tailored to these and other evolving mobility solutions is one of the hottest topics among global automakers gathered for this week's Shanghai Auto Show.


‘Putin has won’: Mueller Report details how Russia interfered in 2016 election: WSJ reports, special counsel Robert Mueller’s report lays out in unprecedented detail how Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and sought to help Donald Trump win the White House.

About 10 percent of the special counsel’s report is blacked out.

FT: Mueller details Trump efforts to block probe

Trump saw special counsel’s investigation as the ‘end’ of his presidency, report says.

Aides didn’t obey Trump orders to intervene.

Oh my god this is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.”

Bloomberg: Trump's obsession with self-preservation laid bare by Mueller

@realDonaldTrump: it was not necessary for me to respond to statements made in the “Report” about me, some of which are total bullshit & only given to make the other person look good (or me to look bad). This was an Illegally Started Hoax that never should have happened

Mueller finds no conspiracy, but report shows Trump welcomed Russian help: LAT reports, it's a pointed reminder of Trump’s willingness to seek any advantage against Hillary Clinton, even if help came from a hostile foreign government.

WP: Mueller lays out evidence against Trump on obstruction, Russia

The report from special counsel Robert Mueller details 10 “episodes” of potential obstruction of justice by Trump, alternating between dense legal analysis and jarring scenes of presidential scheming.

Paranoia, lies, and fear: Trump’s presidency laid bare by Mueller report: WP reports, the 448-page report reveals a vivid portrait of a president and his aides on the brink of obstructing justice.

Trump often said he didn’t remember - at least 37 mentions: Trump’s written responses to Mueller’s questions about Russian interference often contained some version of “I do not remember” or “I do not recall.” Trump did not agree to reply to questions on obstruction or events that occurred during the transition.

WP - Editorial: The Mueller report is the opposite of exoneration

George Conway: Trump is a cancer on the presidency. Congress should remove him. https://wapo.st/2L4iu3p

So it turns out that, indeed, President Trump was not exonerated at all, and certainly not “totally” or “completely,” as he claimed. 

White House counsel John Dean famously told Nixon that there was a cancer within the presidency and that it was growing. What the Mueller report disturbingly shows, with crystal clarity, is that today there is a cancer in the presidency: President Donald J. Trump. Congress now bears the solemn constitutional duty to excise that cancer without delay.

A portrait of the White House and its culture of dishonesty: NYT reports, the report by Mueller shows a hotbed of conflict defined by a president who lies and tries to get his aides to lie for him. At one juncture after another, Trump gave in to anger in ways that turned advisers into witnesses against him.

Now that the Mueller report has been released, Congress faces the politically risky decision of what to do next.

Decision looms for Democrats: Try to impeach? NYT reports, House Democrats took the special counsel’s view of obstruction laws as a nod that Congress should make its own judgment.

Senior House Democrat: Mueller report the beginning, not the end: DW reports, Representative Jerrold Nadler has called the report a roadmap for further congressional investigations. He also accused Attorney General William Barr of undermining the Department of Justice to protect the president.

Garret Graff: The Mueller Report is much worse for Trump than Barr let on http://bit.ly/2KROw2c

House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler has already requested that Robert Mueller testify before Congress no later than May 23.

The role of WikiLeaks: Trump and most likely longtime political operative and Trump associate Roger Stone worked with the website on any information damaging to Hillary Clinton.

Trump declared himself exonerated and then departed for his resort in Florida to celebrate Easter. He left behind in the capital a much more complicated assessment.

Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman: The Mueller Report is 448 pages long. You need to know these 7 key things.https://nyti.ms/2KP21Qk

1. Trump did try to sabotage the investigation. His staff defied him.
2. So many lies. So many changed stories.
3. Fake news? Not so much.
4. No obstruction? Not so fast.
5. Evading an FBI interview proved a successful strategy.
6. No conclusive evidence of conspiracy, but lots of reason to investigate.
7. Imagine reading this report cold.

How underlings sought to capitalise on Trump’s rise: Mueller report documents attempts by Trump associates and Russians to profit from 2016 election. https://on.ft.com/2KSv2dR

Joe Biden is running for President: The Atlantic reports, the former vice president has finally decided he’s in, and he’s announcing in less than a week. Now he just has to finish putting a campaign together. http://bit.ly/2V98LN0

The former vice president will make his candidacy official with a video announcement next Wednesday, according to people familiar with the discussions who have been told about them by top aides.

Biden’s campaign will, at its core, argue that the response to Donald Trump requires an experienced, calm hand to help America take a deep breath and figure out a way to get back on track.

Congress to consider increase in tobacco-buying age to 21: WSJ reports, Senator Mitch McConnell plans to introduce legislation raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products. Public-health advocates and tobacco companies hope a rise from 18 would curb the use of e-cigarettes among youths.


Uber clinches $1 billion investment in self-driving-car unit: WSJ reports, Uber struck a deal with investors including SoftBank Group’s tech fund for a $1 billion investment in its self-driving-car unit as the ride-hailing company prepares for an IPO.

Porsche CEO eyes cooperation with Chinese technology giants: Bloomberg reports, Porsche AG is exploring joint projects with Chinese technology giants including Tencent Holdings Ltd., Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Baidu Inc. to expand digital offerings in its largest market and bolster sales. Country-specific features for voice recognition, navigation and integration of the ubiquitous WeChat messaging service will be developed locally, Porsche Chief Executive Officer Oliver Blume said in an interview in Shanghai this week. The manufacturer also signed an agreement to expand its research cooperation with Tongji University on Wednesday.

China’s mobile-phone giant in Africa: WSJ reports, investors are about to hear much more about Shenzhen Transsion, the world’s fourth-largest cellphone maker.

Shenzhen Transsion will be among the first batch of companies to list on Shanghai’s new board, which wants to become a stock market for the country’s best technology companies—essentially China’s take on Nasdaq. Founded in 2013, Transsion now sells almost every second mobile phone in Africa under its brands Tecno, itel and Infinix.

FT: Amazon to close China marketplace in shift to imported goods

Company says it has seen strong response from Chinese customers to cross-border sales.

China’s Luckin coffee raises $150m in push to overtake Starbucks: FT reports, Chinese coffee start-up Luckin has raised $150m from investors including US asset manager BlackRock in a funding round which values the company at $2.9bn, as it pushes to overtake Starbucks by number of outlets in China.

FTC eyeing Facebook’s Zuckerberg in privacy probe: WP reports, regulators investigating Facebook for mishandling its users’ personal information are exploring the chief executive’s past statements on privacy and weighing whether to seek new oversight of his leadership.

Restaurants are using an app to staff their kitchens: Bloomberg reports, pared helps owners fill vacancies in restaurants—where hiring and retention is hard—on a temporary basis.


Five movies bound to make noise at the Tribeca Film Festival https://on.wsj.com/2KQCia3

17 Blocks
Plus One
Good Posture
Framing John DeLorean

Are we really too busy to eat well? Hurried sandwiches and deskbound lunches have become the norm. But real meals are far from a waste of time. https://on.ft.com/2KQ49r6

Enjoy the ride + plan accordingly.


Ghana, North Korea, Robot Delivery, William Barr, Uber, Champion, ‘Drake Curse’

MRD July.png

What I am watching today = April 19, 2019

Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia 

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


✔️ Ghana is world's fastest growing economy

✔️ Carmakers eye the moon

✔️ AG Barr will hold a presser on the Mueller report at 9:30 am ET

✔️ Daimler invests $100m in battery start-up

✔️ How the ‘Drake curse’ became a thing in sports


Business Schools = Less Math and Management. More Policy and Politics.

With an endless news cycle, a continuous flow of global trade, protectionist laws, and committed geopolitical powers, global politics and global business is being shaped from many directions and far beyond a nation’s borders and a company’s boardroom. Decisions made in Beijing now affect events in Brussels which in turn compels policy in Ottawa and then again impacting Santiago.

The ability to manage this dynamic, globalized political environment, particularly at the intersection of public policy global business, coupled with an underlying cultural phenomenon rejecting the establishment, this new environment is more challenging for business leaders and global companies.

The pace involved in addressing global business challenges has increased as well as, with the scale of the problems expanding to an ever-growing globally diverse network of stakeholders. Disenfranchised and left-behind voters around the world have spoken and demanded a greater share of the profits. The traditional capitalist ideal of being responsible solely to shareholders in under threat and business going forward will involve numerous stakeholders, including governments, media, bloggers, consumers, non-governmental organizations, investors, employees, and citizens.

For future business leaders, simply put, there are a lot more people that will hold you accountable and want a say in the process. Having a genius marketing plan and solid accounting skills won’t be enough.

The time is now for MBA programs to recognize this challenging global public affairs environment. It is critical that classes utilize case studies that explore the nexus between multinational corporations, non-governmental organizations, government officials, institutions, investors, and recent elections.

World-class business leaders will need to excel with a foundation of fundamental business management skills, but they must be equally deft at grasping the intersection of history, politics, geography, culture, and economics to manage this new global business paradigm.

MBA programs must prepare future business leaders with the hard and soft skills to understand and engage global problems, comprehend economic development challenges and opportunities, and connect how these issues spread in a globally interconnected marketplace all influencing and disrupting global politics and global business like never before.



The world's fastest growing economy is located in Africa: Ghana's economic strength is expected to soar in 2019. Many other African countries lag far behind, says the IMF report. http://bit.ly/2Va0AzO

The IMF talks of a growth rate of 8.8% in its World Economic Outlook, which would make Ghana the fastest growing economy in the world in 2019. Last year, the country's economy only grew by 5.6%, putting it in sixth position.

AP: NKorea says it tested new weapon, wants Pompeo out of talks

North Korea said Thursday that it had test-fired a new type of “tactical guided weapon,” its first such test in nearly half a year, and demanded that Washington remove Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from nuclear negotiations.

430,000: Japan's population is shrinking by the equivalent of a medium-sized city each year due to a rapidly declining birth rate. The native-born Japanese population fell by 430,000 in 2018, while 161,000 migrants entered the country, partially offsetting that loss.

China and Japan inch closer for insurance against Hurricane Trump: Nikkei reports, Asia's two biggest economies accelerate diplomacy but produce few results.

Trump stirs alarm that he may be giving China a new trade weapon: Bloomberg reports, details of the US commitments and how the enforcement mechanism will operate remain scant. But Mnuchin’s comments have caused plenty of raised eyebrows from legal scholars to the business community and Congress. If the US allows China reciprocal enforcement powers, it would make China “judge, jury and executioner as to whether we have honored our obligations,’’ said Daniel Price, who served as a senior economic adviser to President George W. Bush and is now at Rock Creek Global Advisors in Washington. “I don’t think the US business community is sufficiently alert to the risk of constantly being exposed to unilateral enforcement action by China.”

US firms no longer 'positive anchor' for Beijing ties: AmCham in China: Reuters reports, Frustrated US businesses can no longer be counted on as a “positive anchor” in US-China relations, a top US business lobby said on Wednesday, arguing any deal to end trade tensions must address structural problems in China’s economic system.

"The media is getting very excited about the fact that Chinese GDP data was somewhat stronger than expected. This data is presented with all the quality and accuracy we have come to expect from China. China's GDP is not necessarily very important to the global economy – it is the integration, not the size of an economy that gives it global importance." --- UBS' Paul Donovan

US and China set tentative timeline for new trade talks: WSJ reports, the US and China have tentatively scheduled meetings as they seek to close out a trade deal, with negotiators aiming for a signing ceremony as soon as late May.

State Department approves new deal with Taiwan for F-16 training, maintenance: UPI reports, the US State Department has approved a $500 million possible contract renewal for training of Taiwanese F-16 pilots and maintenance support. 

Army secretary reveals weapons wish list for war with China and Russia: Defense One reports, US Army leaders revealed Tuesday that they are briefing top military commanders about new weapons being built specifically for “high-intensity conflict” against China and Russia, in a new effort to assure that they could provide vital firepower for those potential battlefields of the future. 

Poland and US closing in on deal to build ‘Fort Trump,’ sources say: Bloomberg reports, Poland is nearing a deal with the US to establish an American military base in the former Communist bloc country, according to people familiar with the matter -- an outpost the Poles see as a deterrent to Russian aggression and that the Kremlin would likely consider a provocation. 

Trudeau challenged: Alberta became the third major Canadian province over the past year to elect a conservative-leaning government. The trend threatens to check Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party agenda as he prepares to face the electorate later this year, trailing in the polls.

US-Canada rift widens over training for 737 MAX pilots: WSJ reports, a rift between the US and Canada is growing over how to ensure the safety of Boeing’s grounded 737 MAX planes, as Ottawa’s focus on additional pilot training could lead to a delay in getting the jet back in the air.

Bogota the new city of spies: Geopolitical crises tend to create unexpected centers of refuge and espionage: West Berlin in the Cold War, Amman, Jordan in the buildup to the conflict in Iraq. Now a shift in the world’s attention to Venezuela — which has seen the departure of US diplomats and an influx of Russian military advisers — has made neighboring Colombia's capital, Bogota, a proxy battleground thronged with mercenaries, agents and clandestine operations.

FT: Moderate Conservatives eye challenge for party leadership

Amber Rudd says it is ‘entirely possible’ she could run as One Nation candidate.

Bloomberg: Brexit delay spurs UK frenzy for summer breaks in EU

Brexit: How it came to this: How the Irish backstop emerged as May's Brexit nemesis. Ireland was streets ahead of the UK when it came to planning for Britain’s exit. http://bit.ly/2Vc8gBF

The roots of the UK’s political and constitutional crisis spread far and wide: decades of anti-EU propaganda, a Tory party civil war, a reckless Cameron gamble, a dogged, blinkered successor, a divided Labour party. And with a starring role, the backstop.

Ted: Facebook's role in Brexit - and the threat to democracy: In an unmissable talk, journalist Carole Cadwalladr digs into one of the most perplexing events in recent times: the UK's super-close 2016 vote to leave the European Union. Tracking the result to a barrage of misleading Facebook ads targeted at vulnerable Brexit swing voters -- and linking the same players and tactics to the 2016 US presidential election -- Cadwalladr calls out the "gods of Silicon Valley" for being on the wrong side of history and asks: Are free and fair elections a thing of the past? Watch - here


Carmakers eye the moon: The next frontier for carmakers could be the moon. China’s BAIC Group is developing joint technology with the country’s Lunar Exploration Project for lunar exploration. Toyota is also teaming up with Japan’s space agency to build a lunar rover, expecting to put it on the moon by 2029. 

The coming obsolescence of animal meat: Companies are racing to develop real chicken, fish, and beef that don’t require killing animals. Here’s what’s standing in their way. http://bit.ly/2KLdxw7
HBR: Does higher education still prepare people for jobs?http://bit.ly/2KMlW2t

'More and more students are spending more and more money on higher education, and their main goal is largely pragmatic: to boost their employability and be a valuable contributor to the economy. Even if the value attached to a university degree is beneficial to those who obtain it, companies can help change the narrative by putting less weight on “higher education” as a measure of intellectual competence and job potential, and instead, approach hiring with more open-mindedness."

French supermarket tests robot delivery: Reuters reports, Casino’s Franprix chain will test the delivery robots on the streets of Paris’s 13th arrondissement for a year. In the French capital, where Amazon has been running its Amazon Prime Now express delivery service since 2016, the speedy and convenient delivery of food has become a battleground among retailers.


Mueller report will be lightly redacted, offering detailed look at Trump’s actions: WP reports, the report is said to show that the special counsel decided he could not come to a conclusion on obstruction because it was difficult to determine the president’s intent.

Mueller Report: Attorney General William Barr will hold a press briefing on the Mueller report at 9:30 am, with Congress expected to receive the report between 11:00 am and noon.

Enjoy the ride and plan accordingly.

The White House already knows some of the details of the report.

Pelosi, Schumer call for Mueller to testify ‘as soon as possible’: WP reports, the Democratic leaders criticized Attorney General William P. Barr for his handling of the special counsel’s report.

US Energy Secretary Rick Perry is planning to leave the Trump administration.

In some US counties, more than 40 percent of all arrests are for marijuana possession.

FT: Sanders leads Democrats in fundraising for 2020 race

Contenders build up war chests to challenge Trump for US presidency.

2020 defense: Twenty-two House districts represented by freshman Democrats that Trump won in 2016 are emerging as key battlegrounds for both parties, as Republicans seek to regain ground in a presidential election year and Democrats try to extend the majority they won in 2018.


Daimler invests $100m in Californian battery start-up: FT reports, the German carmaker announces move for 10 per cent stake as part of electric vehicles push.

Uber nears investment deal for self-driving car unit: WSJ reports, $1 billion investment by group including SoftBank would value division at $7.25 billion.

Some drivers for Uber in DC found it ‘unsustainable,’ study finds: WP reports, the Georgetown University study conducted in 2016 found 33 percent of drivers fell into a “debt trap” working for the ride-hailing service, taking on debt to drive, and all of them lamented its “slippery” wage.

Champion - owned by HanesBrands — hit jackpot, as the teens have bestowed their favor upon it. Last year Champion booked $1.4 billion in sales, and the company hopes to dial those up to $2 billion by 2022. Male teens consider it a top-15 brand, and Champion is worn by 9 percent of upper income boys and 5 percent of girls

Everlane jumps into the $20 billion US sneaker market: Bloomberg reports, the startup famous for environmentally conscious clothing is going after planet-friendly sneaker heads.

FT: Blackstone to ditch partnership structure and become corporation


'It's an absurd profession': the world's most infamous bouncers tell all: Guardian reports, they have a fearsome reputation for excluding eager clubbers – but as a documentary about Berlin’s doormen is released, three of them explain why their policies are ‘all about tolerance.’

See the trailer for Berlin Bouncer - here

Caroline Bullock: Flexible working for parents is great. But child-free people need it, too: The office-bound 9-5 job is an anachronism. All workers, whatever their family status, need greater control over their lives. http://bit.ly/2KUp6Bk

Selfie seaths are an epidemic: Outside reports, a recent report found that 259 people died between 2011 and 2017 while stepping in front of the camera in often dangerous destinations. Our writer went deep on the psychology of selfies to figure out what's behind our obsession with capturing extreme risk-taking.

How Paris firefighters saved Notre Dame: Decisions to focus on belfries and to dial back water pressure were key to preserving structure and artwork. https://on.wsj.com/2VfRX77

The chaplain, the cathedral fire and the race to rescue Notre-Dame’s relics: By the time the Paris Fire Department’s chaplain made his way inside Notre-Dame, flames had already consumed most of the cathedral’s roof and its spire had smashed onto the nave. “I had two priorities: to save the crown of thorns and a statue of Jesus,” Father Fournier said. https://nyti.ms/2KOcLyu

"It was a task emergency workers had prepared for. Firefighters held exercises focused on saving its treasures."

Candice Carty-Williams: 'The swag is limitless': why Beyoncé's Beychella Homecoming film is so radical: The singer’s Coachella concert documentary reveals her intimate humanity, celebrates the culture that built her, ousts stereotypes and redefines blackness. 

See the trailer for Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé - here


Cracking his whip, musher Michael Inuarak keeps his dog team in line as he prepares to take part in the annual Nunavut Quest. CBC reports, for the past few weeks, the 22-year-old Inuarak has been preparing for the Quest — a gruelling, weeklong traditional dog sled race where competitors traverse an unforgiving sea of ice and tundra. This year, the race starts in Inuarak's hometown of Pond Inlet and ends more than 300 kilometres away in Arctic Bay. Running a dog team is about family and keeping the Inuit way of life strong, Inuarak said. "My happiest moment was dog sledding with two of my other brothers and my grandfather, all at the same time," he said. "That's what I always wanted to do — run my dogs with my family." http://bit.ly/2KIUsdX

Alliance of American Football files for bankruptcy: WSJ reports, the Alliance of American Football, a professional football league that suspended operations after less than two months of competition, has filed for bankruptcy.

How the ‘Drake curse’ became a thing in sports https://lat.ms/2L24Ldp

Champions League - Final Four:

Tottenham Hotspur 

Tottenham v Ajax: 30 April + 8 May
Barcelona v Liverpool: 1 + 7 May

Ajax (NED) | UEFA ranking: 20: They dethroned champions Real Madrid, and then stopped Cristiano Ronaldo in his tracks, so what else is left to fear?

Barcelona (ESP) | UEFA ranking: 2: Messi has never had to wait more than four years between European titles – why start now?

Liverpool (ENG) | UEFA ranking: 12: Last season's runners-up have lost none of their attacking edge, but now have added steel at the back.

Tottenham (ENG) | UEFA ranking: 18:  Having eliminated both Dortmund and Manchester City, this looks to be a side primed for knockout football.

How Pep Guardiola lost control of the Champions League: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola helped set new standards for what is possible in English soccer, but his squads have failed to get anywhere in Europe. https://on.wsj.com/2V1b5Wj

Enjoy the ride + plan accordingly.


Notre Dame, US-EU Trade Deal, Braveheart Myth, ‘Bernie or Bust’, Ajax

MRD July.png

What I am watching today = April 17, 2019

Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia 

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


✔️ France vows to restore Notre Dame

✔️ The future's electric at the Shanghai Auto Show

✔️ ‘Bernie or Bust’ voters create predicament for Democrats in 2020

✔️ SpaceX is raising another $500 million in funding

✔️ Destination divorce parties are a new Las Vegas trend


Does trade cause politics or does politics cause trade?



After taxing rescue, France vows to restore Notre Dame; ‘Make it even more beautiful’: WSJ reports, after a frantic effort by firefighters to save Notre Dame Cathedral, President Emmanuel Macron pledged that France would rebuild one of its most cherished monuments within five years. France’s private sector promised to donate hundreds of millions of dollars to the restoration.

The Times: Backlash grows over Notre Dame donations

Yellow-vest anger at generosity of Macron’s “rich friends.”

Pentagon developing military options to deter Russian, Chinese influence in Venezuela: CNN reports, the deterrence options are being ordered following a White House meeting last week where national security adviser John Bolton told acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to develop ideas on the Venezuela crisis. 

OTD: In 1961 about 1,500 CIA-trained Cuban exiles landed in the Bay of Pigs, Cuba.

USS Ross heads to the Black Sea as US and allies increase patrols: Stars & Stripes reports, the destroyer USS Ross entered the Black Sea on Sunday night, the fourth time this year the Navy has sent a warship to the region. 

That's a fine ship.

US-EU trade deal: EU Trade Commissioner Malmstrom has urged a trade deal with the US by 1 November. The EU wants a trade deal that covers industrial goods only. The French objected as EU rules state that trade deals can only be done with countries that have signed up to the Paris climate accord.

US handbags, shovels on $20 billion EU tariff list over Boeing: Reuters reports, handbags, tractors, shovels, and fish are part of an 11-page list of US imports worth $20 billion that the European Union on Wednesday said it could hit with tariffs in a transatlantic aircraft subsidy dispute.

Tusk ‘dreams’ of Brexit reversal: FT reports, the president of the European Council said he would not ‘give into fatalism’ about the Brexit process

Alex Massie: Brexiteers have fallen for Braveheart myth: Tory Leavers are making a big mistake if, like SNP activists, they think that appeals to nationalism will win the day.

FT: City of London cements dominance of renminbi trading

Average daily trading volumes of the Chinese currency in London reached £76.6 billion.

Xi loyalty app: China's state-run CCTV is hiring hundreds of people to ramp up a mobile app used to test Communist Party members’ loyalty to President Xi Jinping and the party. Dubbed “Study the Powerful Country,” the app has become a major topic of conversation among bureaucrats and party officials who are required to download it — with some spending hours racking up points.

China economic activity: China’s economic growth held to a 6.4% rate in the first three months of the year as factory production picked up significantly.

Few pros think this is a real number.

China’s economy stabilizes after Beijing opens the bank vaults: NYT reports, China’s economy stabilized in the first three months of the year, according to official figures released on Wednesday, after Beijing flooded the financial system with money in a whatever-it-takes approach to arrest a slowdown.

China goes all-in on home grown tech in push for nuclear dominance: Reuters reports, China plans to gamble on the bulk deployment of its untested “Hualong One” nuclear reactor, squeezing out foreign designs, as it resumes a long-delayed nuclear program aimed at meeting its clean energy goals, government and industry officials said.

Martin Wolf: China battles the US in the artificial intelligence arms race: What counts is implementation not innovation, and here the Chinese have big advantages. https://on.ft.com/2KLgYTi

Louise Lucas: US and China tech giants look increasingly similar: There is an inconvenient likeness between the main protagonists in both countries. https://on.ft.com/2KGGRUm

"It would be too much to suggest that US tech is taking a chapter or two from China’s playbook. But there is an increasingly inconvenient similarity between the main protagonists in the US and China."

FT: Australian university signs A$100m China deal despite concerns

Monash University, has signed a A$100m deal with China, despite the country’s decision to tighten foreign investment rules last year amid concerns over growing Chinese influence. The Monash deal, which will allow Chinese investors and local governments to commercialise its scientific breakthroughs.

Foxconn's Gou announces bid for Taiwan's presidency in 2020.

US and Japan agree to accelerate trade talks: FT reports, Lighthizer and Japan’s economy minister are set to meet again as early as next week.

Nikkei: Jokowi on track to win Indonesia presidential election: pollsters

Incumbent stops short of claiming victory; rival Prabowo says he won. 


The future's electric at the Shanghai Auto Show: Bloomberg reports, There’s electricity in the air at the China auto show in Shanghai this week, as the battery-car brigade rolls into town like never before. Established global makers and dozens of local startups are rushing to showcase electric-vehicle models in a push led by China, the world's largest car market. But there’s a dark side: While companies have plowed billions of dollars into development, projected EV sales may not be enough to keep the assembly lines moving, suggesting only a few companies will survive when the dust settles.

@web: Why Yeti is a strong lifestyle brand: 

- They chose a customer.
- They charge full price despite the half-price substitutes.
- You’ll find YETI stickers on laptops, trucks, boat windshields.
- It became a status symbol in just three years. 
- The products are excellent.


Trump fights back as he braces for Mueller report: FT reports, attorney-general to release redacted version of document into Russia election interference.

Trump vetoes resolution to end US participation in Yemen’s civil war: WP reports, the president called the measure “an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.” It had passed the House on a 247-to-175 vote and was approved by the Senate with the support of seven Republicans.

Trump cash: The Trump campaign and joint committees ended the first quarter with $48.9 million in the bank, more than three times as much as any of the potential challengers in a crowded Democratic field.

Morning Consult Political Intelligence: Tracking the 2020 Democratic primary

-- Buttigieg ticks up again: Now at 7% of the national vote, this marks his fourth straight week of growth.

-- Bernie Sanders holds a strong lead with young voters: 41% of18-29 year-old women and 39% of 18-29 year-old men support Sanders as their first choice.

-- If Biden doesn't run, Sanders has the most to gain: A projection based on second choice vote shows that Sanders would pick up 12 points if Biden opts not to run, enough to give him a 23 point first place lead.

Bloomberg: ‘Bernie or Bust’ voters create predicament for Democrats in 2020

Thomas B. Edsall: If Trump country soars, will the president glide to a second term? The rate of job growth in Republican-leaning regions is outstripping the rate in more Democratic areas.

Jonathan Bernstein: Is Trump's weakness an electoral advantage? The president has been largely unable to transform his ideas into policy. Conceivably, voters might be thankful.

Doyle McManus: Pete Buttigieg has everything except positions on major issues 


Consumers around the world are spending less on almost everything. Even booze. WP reports, Consumers around the world are likely to spend more cautiously in the coming months amid political and economic uncertainty, according to a new report that surveyed shoppers in 64 countries. Shoppers said they have cut back on clothing and entertainment costs in the past year, and have taken measures to save on gas and electricity, according to the Conference Board Global Consumer Confidence Survey, conducted in collaboration with Nielsen. Consumers in Europe and Latin America are buying cheaper alcohol and groceries, while Asian shoppers are scaling back their annual vacations.

Andrea Felsted: L'Oreal shows the Lipstick Index lives in China: L’Oreal’s strong sales in Asia show that, even in China, demand for cosmetics can weather difficult economic conditions.

SpaceX funding: Elon Musk's SpaceX is raising another $500 million in funding, four months after raking in a similar amount. The new cash could help SpaceX speed up the development of its Starlink satellite Internet business, which is supposed to support the company's bottom line in the future.

10 years after its founding, SpaceX had 0% market share. 16 years after its founding, it had more than 50%. 

Uber's top five: Based on Uber’s S-1 filing, the company conceded that a full 24 percent of its business in 2018 was derived from just five cities: LA, New York, San Francisco, London, and São Paulo

Netflix added 30 million net new subscribers last year as it became the most popular television streaming service on the planet.

Nokia, the 1990s cellphone pioneer, wants to topple Huawei: WSJ reports, it is trying to expand in the U.S. and China at the same time, steering a path through a global technology showdown.

Apple and Qualcomm settle all disputes worldwide: NYT reports, for the past two years, Apple and Qualcomm have dueled on three continents over the division of billions of dollars of smartphone profits and even how much consumers pay for their phones. On Tuesday, just as a trial had begun in a federal courtroom in San Diego over a suit Apple had filed against Qualcomm, the two companies said they had essentially made up.

Nikkei: Apple and Qualcomm settle dispute, paving way for 5G iPhone

Intel pulls out of 5G smartphone chips as iPhone maker commits to rival.

Reuters: Apple in talks with potential suppliers of sensors for self-driving cars - sources


Bloomberg: Destination divorce parties are a new Las Vegas trend

Mending a broken heart with clubs, cabarets, and machine guns.

Cannes 2019: 20 films we hope will be at the film festival: Ahead of the official lineup announcement on Thursday, we’re banking on Quentin Tarantino, Terrence Malick, Kelly Reichardt and Leos Carax making the final cut. http://bit.ly/2V26DGL


The key to building a successful team: Researchers found that if a group has worked together effectively in the past, it can be more important than their individual skills. https://on.wsj.com/2KO5oqD

“Shared success is a distinguishing factor above and beyond skill,” says Brian Uzzi, a co-author of the study and a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Shared success is a concept taken from psychology. The idea is that when groups experience success, individuals are better able to recall the event and articulate what went right or even what went wrong.

Champions League - Quarterfinals - 2nd Game:

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City (Aggregate 1-0) - Today @ 3:00 pm ET
Liverpool v Porto (Aggregate 2-0) - Today @ 3:00 pm ET

'Ajax, sensation of Europe': Dutch and Italian press react to Turin triumph: Guardian reports, the Dutch press exalted the long-awaited return of Ajax to the Champions League semi-finals but in Italy Juve were savaged.

Enjoy the ride + plan accordingly.


Juan Guaido, Bob Iger, Theresa May, Terry Gou, Tiger Woods

MRD July.png

What I am watching today = April 15, 2019

Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia 


✔️ We have reached the end of the Franco-German love-in

✔️ How to win friends and influence algorithms

✔️ Goldman economists say Trump re-election more likely than not

✔️ Tiger’s Masters victory is a $22 million win for Nike

✔️ Solskjær hatches a plan for Camp Nou


Being counted doesn't always count.

"Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts." -- Albert Einstein

The world is inundated with data.

But yet Hollywood can't guarantee a hit.

The outcome of the Stanley Cup can't be confirmed.

The future UK PM officeholder can't be verified.

And the next chef to beat Bobby Flay can't be affirmed.

Still, we love data.

"Do a survey. Do a focus group. Do a study."

Do more data.

I don't think the magic is in more data.

Data should not be about trying to use the information to prove a theory, but to see what the numbers are actually telling us and to inform us what we might be missing - especially since the mind likes to trick us.

You see, our brains are wired to remember and overvalue the vivid and the shocking. Our brains are wired to remember events that actually happened and not events that could happen.

So often we comfort ourselves in data to gain a better understanding and some guidance, but the data often falls short.

In their book, Why Everything You Know About Soccer is Wrong, authors Chris Anderson and David Sally concluded that soccer is basically a 50/50 game. Half is luck, and half is skill.

With this conclusion, the authors determined there are two routes to soccer glory. One is being good. The other is being lucky. You need both to win a championship. But you only need one to win a game.

Disney CEO Bob Iger used a similar conclusion this week.

With the announcement of his company's over the top Disney+ streaming service, Iger is going where his customers are going. One where customers can customize their viewing experience and seamlessly view Mickey and Minnie on numerous devices.

No survey, no focus group, and no study needed to know this is a good move for Disney.

Disney has a customer experience that is visceral and multigenerational. A customer experience that is deep and broad. A customer experience forged with skill.

But Iger knows Disney needs more than skill to win the future.

As Iger told CNBC, if you measure the future against the present, the present doesn't stay the present for very long. Today's marketplace has never been more dynamic.

You can't measure what is happening today. You need to measure what you think will happen in the future - that and harness a little luck.

The reasons many of us don't innovate is the data and the information being used is shaped by a current business model and what has gotten us to our current status.

Data which is based on the present and data which is not of the future.

So be mindful of having too much data as a means to confirm what you want the outcome to be.

Plus don't be afraid of harnessing a little bit of luck.


Marc A. Ross is the founder of Caracal Global and specializes in thought leader strategy for executives and entrepreneurs working at the intersection of globalization and politics.


IMF meetings: The Spring IMF/World Bank meetings ended at the weekend with an air of cautious optimism. While the IMF did cut its forecast for growth, the risk of a recession remains low. 

World Bank urges financial inclusion as growth falters in Europe and Central Asia: DW reports, the economic outlook for the 23 countries that make up the World Bank's Europe and Central Asia unit is gloomy. To improve things, the unit's chief economist Asli Demirguc-Kunt suggests a push for financial inclusion.

Juan Guaido: Why China should switch sides in Venezuela: Our country will be a source of prosperity that fulfills its commitments and ensures security to investors, pledges its interim president. 

Julian Assange: The president of Ecuador, Lenín Moreno, has told the Guardian that Julian Assange repeatedly violated his asylum conditions and tried to use the Ecuadorian embassy in London as a “center for spying” during his seven-year stay there, which ended with his expulsion and arrest by UK police on Thursday.

Duterte heeds pressure to confront China as midterms approach in the Philippines: LAT reports, a year after joking about his country becoming a province of China and professing his “love” for Chinese President Xi Jinping, Duterte is heeding pressure at home to confront Beijing. The Philippine strongman known for his bluster employed his toughest language in years against China this month when he told the country to stay away from the Philippine-held island of Thitu or face the prospect of suicide attacks.

“I will not plead or beg, but I am just telling you [to] lay off the Pag-Asa because I have soldiers there. If you touch that, that’s a different story. I can tell my soldiers, ‘Prepare for suicide missions,’ ” Duterte said in a recent speech.

Moon chases inter-Korean summit to save Trump-Kim nuclear talks: WSJ reports, South Korea’s president said he would push for another summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as he seeks to rejuvenate a diplomatic process that has stalled over the question of how to dismantle Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons.

FT: Lighthizer faces crunch time as US-China trade talks near finish

“I think he will deliver a deal, but the question is whether it will, to put it nicely, pass the ‘straight-face’ test,” said one former senior trade official. “Trump will say whatever they sign is the greatest thing ever, but the jury is still out on whether this will be a real, substantial deal that people take seriously.” 

US waters down demand China ax subsidies in push for trade deal - sources: Reuters reports, US negotiators have tempered demands that China curb industrial subsidies as a condition for a trade deal after strong resistance from Beijing, according to two sources briefed on discussions, marking a retreat on a core U.S. objective for the trade talks.

Bloomberg: China to consider US request to shift tariffs on farm goods

Trump looking to sell deal as win for farmers.

Anjani Trivedi: China's secret weapon in the electric car race: Local automakers are hoarding the country’s “new-energy vehicle” credits, giving them leverage when renegotiating joint ventures with western rivals. 

FBI bars some China scholars from visiting US over spying fears: NYT reports, the FBI has mounted a counterintelligence operation that aims to bar Chinese academics from the United States if they are suspected of having links to Chinese intelligence agencies. As many as 30 Chinese professors in the social sciences, heads of academic institutes, and experts who help explain government policies have had their visas to the United States canceled in the past year, or put on administrative review, according to Chinese academics and their American counterparts.

On rare Taiwan visit, US official urges 5G investment screening: Nikkei reports, Washington seeks tough enforcement to curb Beijing's distorting market practices. David Meale, deputy assistant secretary for trade policy and negotiations at the U.S. State Department, recently addressed the American Institute in Taiwan on 5G.

German regulator says Huawei can stay in 5G race: FT reports, agency defies US call for ban on Chinese group provided it abides by data secrecy rules.

FT: US warns of Huawei’s growing influence over eastern Europe

Secretary of state Mike Pompeo begins diplomatic push to curb China’s ambitions in region.

Bloomberg: Huawei has skirted outright bans in Europe. But not 5G regulations

EU member states approve contentious copyright reform
: DW reports, EU member states have given final approval for copyright reforms ensuring artists and news publishers get their due in the internet era. The proposed reforms have triggered Europe-wide protests over internet freedom.

EU countries back starting trade talks with United States: Reuters reports, European Union countries gave final clearance on Monday to start formal trade talks with the United States after months of delay due to French resistance.

Wolfgang Munchau: We have reached the end of the Franco-German love-in: The interests of the two countries and their leaders are diverging.

Last week’s European Council was dominated by Brexit. But it may be remembered for the visible cracks in the Franco-German relationship.

France and Germany do not disagree on the principle of European political integration, but they are at loggerheads on the most important details. We are headed into a period in which the interests of the two countries and their leaders are diverging. These will be difficult years for the EU.

Macron to set out fix for 'yellow vest' anger: AFP reports, President Emmanuel Macron was to set out a series of major policy announcements Monday in response to five months of nationwide "yellow vest" protests, in what has been billed as a make-or-break moment for his presidency.

Leadership rivals urge May to stay for months: The Times reports, Cabinet rivals to succeed Theresa May are backing the prime minister to stay in office into the autumn if she fails to get her Brexit deal through parliament. 

Guardian: Sisi could rule Egypt until 2030 under constitutional changes

MPs to vote on granting president control over the judiciary and boosting military power. 


Making babies in the year 2045: Huge pools of health data collected over the past generation allow you to pick many of your child’s genetic traits. Are you comfortable with that? https://nyti.ms/2KEswaU

How to win friends and influence algorithms: From YouTube to Instagram, what you see in your feeds isn’t really up to you—it’s all chosen by invisible, inscrutable bots. Here’s how to take back at least some control. https://on.wsj.com/2UXDah4


US 5G: Trump has ruled out using the US government to roll out 5G networks, a plan promoted by some in his administration as a way of beating China in the race to superfast internet. Trump said on Friday he wanted private companies to take the lead on building 5G in the US, dealing a blow to those in his own party who had championed the use of the public sector to help do it more quickly and cheaply.

Democrats want Stephen Miller to testify on immigration policy: WP reports, House Democrats are sharpening their focus on the White House immigration adviser, saying Miller should answer questions about an administration plan to release undocumented immigrants into “sanctuary cities” represented by critics of the president.

Pete Buttigieg launches his official 2020 presidential bid in South Bend.

Molly Roberts: How Pete Buttigieg stole Beto O’Rourke’s mojo: Buttigieg-mania isn’t really a thing, and that’s not only because it’s a mouthful: It’s because Buttigieg is appealing not for being larger than life, but for being regular-sized. That’s refreshing in an era where, as Buttigieg himself pointed out, one nominee in the last presidential election put “I’m with her” on campaign buttons and the other was Trump.

Trump 2020: His campaign raised more than $30 million in the first quarter.

Goldman economists say Trump re-election more likely than not: Bloomberg reports, Trump enjoys a “narrow advantage” over rival candidates heading into the 2020 election given the outlook for the US economy, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Incumbent presidents carry a 5 to 6 percentage-point edge over rival candidates in the popular vote and Goldman Sachs’s economic forecast also leans in favor of Trump, although that is partly offset by his negative approval rating, economists Alec Phillips and Blake Taylor wrote in a report released late on Saturday.

“The advantage of first-term incumbency and the relatively strong economic performance ahead of the presidential election suggest that President Trump is more likely to win a second term than the eventual Democratic candidate is to defeat him,” said Phillips and Blake. 


Bloomberg: Mercedes goes for offroad looks on compact SUV in China

Waste Management 
is buying competitor Advanced Disposal Services for around $2.9 billion.

Charley Grant: Tesla can’t stop dreaming big: Elon Musk’s ambitions to turn Tesla into a dominant automobile player have become a liability instead of an asset.

American Airlines cancels summer flights as Boeing 737 Max fears persist.

Foxconn Technology Group + India + iPhone: Chairman Terry Gou said the iPhone will go into mass production in India this year, a shift for the largest assembler of Apple Inc.’s handsets that has long concentrated production in China.

Bloomberg: Tiger’s Masters victory is a $22 million win for Nike


Tiger Woods shot a 2-under 70 on Sunday to win the Masters by one shot to secure his 15th major title.

The win comes exactly two years since Woods told friends, “I’m done,” before a fourth back surgery resolved a spinal problem that had left him barely able to walk.

Today: The Boston Marathon takes place.

OTD: In 1989 96 football fans were crushed to death at Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield at the start of the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

Hillsborough 30 years on: Victims' families continue fight for justice: DW reports, Monday marks the 30th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. The worst stadium tragedy in British history and its aftermath still haunts English football, with a recent twist in legal proceedings adding to the saga.

Champions League - Quarterfinals - Round 2:

Ajax v Juventus (Aggregate 1-1) - Tuesday @ 3:00 pm ET
Barcelona v Manchester United (Aggregate 1-0) - Tuesday @ 3:00 pm ET

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City (Aggregate 1-0) - Wednesday @ 3:00 pm ET
Liverpool v Porto (Aggregate 2-0) - Wednesday @ 3:00 pm ET

Solskjær hatches a plan for Camp Nou: Ole Gunnar Solskjær believes that in Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, Manchester United have an attack that can overturn the 1-0 deficit to Barcelona in their Champions League quarter‑final second leg on Tuesday. 

Enjoy the ride + plan accordingly.