In the aftermath of the recent U.S. election, as notables from near and far (and really far) made their pilgrimages to Trump Tower hoping to figure out what this most unexpected presidency might look like, these two made the oddest of couples: the tall, elaborately coiffed president-elect and the elfin CEO of the most famous company in China, a country candidate Donald Trump had repeatedly excoriated on the campaign trail as a trade villain.
In the extraordinary life of Ma Yun, known to most people in the West as Jack Ma, this meet and greet on steroids was yet another of many extraordinary moments. Ma, the founder and executive chairman of the Alibaba Group, had come to Manhattan to tell Trump he wanted to help American entrepreneurs sell their goods directly into China—using, of course, his e-commerce site to connect buyers to sellers. As Ma was speaking to the assembled press, Trump at one point leaned into the microphone and chirped, “He loves this country.”
A few seconds later, Trump realized he might have erred. Proclaiming to the world that the most globally visible businessman in a country run by an authoritarian regime that is, at best, a strategic rival of Washington’s “loves” the United States might not be good for Ma back home. So Trump, towering over his tiny counterpart, awkwardly interjected, “He loves China too,” as Ma grinned but said nothing.
That the two men hit it off that day—and friends of each say they did—is not surprising. Ma, like Trump, is brash and blunt, particularly by the standards set for Chinese businessmen, most of whom avoid attention the way Trump avoids strong winds. Not Ma. “He’s an alien,’’ his friend and fellow billionaire Guo Guangchang, founder of the Shanghai conglomerate the Fosun Group, once said. “He’s so out there.” Every year, for example, Ma hosts an annual meeting of “Aliren” (Alibaba people) from all over the world at the company’s headquarters in Hangzhou, about 100 miles south of Shanghai. Employees and customers alike come to hear Ma evangelize for the brand. And evangelize he does, making impassioned speeches about what the company has accomplished each year, as well as what it has failed to do. He invites celebrities and politicians and businesspeople. Arnold Schwarzenegger came while he was governor of California. I’ve seen Ma ably translate a Q&A session with then–U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, and I’ve seen him share that stage with the CEO of eBay, a company he gleefully drove out of China when Meg Whitman (now running Hewlett-Packard) was in charge.
I first got to know Ma while he was in the process of outwitting Whitman in the early 2000s. He sat in his office and, proudly on the record, told story after story of how he thought eBay—then his primary competitor in China—was screwing up. He told me Whitman was making secret visits to the country and spending weeks with her China team, trying to get their strategy right. He even told me where she was staying while there (the private residence wing of the J.W. Marriott in Shanghai). He cackled repeatedly during our conversation, mocking his rival and her company. He was so open that I had a hard time believing I was interviewing a Chinese CEO. After I left his office, I called the Marriott where Ma had said Whitman was holed up. He was right.
Read more at Newsweek.
Susan Rice lifts her hands to her face. She pushes aside her gray hair and wipes away tears.
She turns to her family, sitting behind her in a federal court, and mouths “I love you.” It may be a while before they’re all together again. Rice turns back to face Judge Mark Bennett as he enters. The federal courtroom is silent except for the clang of shackles on Rice’s wrists and ankles and her muffled sobs. Her emotion is perhaps unsurprising. The grandmother of three faces between five and 40 years in prison for conspiracy to distribute 5 or more grams of methamphetamine. That’s the size of a packet of sugar. What is surprising — almost stunning — is the emotion coming from the bench. Bennett is about to sentence Rice for a crime that she admits committing, one for which she believes she deserves punishment. It’s the severity of the punishment that has her and her family flabbergasted — and the judge frustrated.
Bennett seems exasperated, exhausted almost, as he explains he must sentence Rice to a full five years — the mandatory minimum required by law. It is a sentence he deems unjust, too much for a low-level addict, just for being caught with a certain weight of drugs. Bennett makes sure the record reflects he felt strongly enough to request that Iowa’s US Attorney consider waiving the mandatory minimum. He accepts the defense mitigation that Rice had never been in trouble before she was in her 50s, when she began drinking heavily after a bad divorce and was introduced to meth. She met a mid-level dealer who offered her a mattress in his basement and free meth if she would drive him around.
A willing drug mule to feed her addiction? Yes. But not the drug trafficker or conspirator whom the charges and mandatory minimum sentences were designed to target, the judge believed.
His plea fell on deaf ears. He was told there was no option for Rice to be treated as an exception to the law. “I strongly disagree with that decision,” the judge says firmly from the bench. It is not the first time he has felt this way. Bennett says 80% of the mandatory sentences he hands down are unjust — but that he is handcuffed by the law, which leaves no room for judicial discretion to consider a sentence based on individual circumstances of the defendant.
Too often, Bennett says, low-level nonviolent drug addicts dealing to feed their habit end up being sentenced like drug kingpins. Bennett says if he had the power, he would jail Rice for perhaps a year, or 18 months. Across the street in a state courthouse, she would have been put on probation, he says. “I think it’s a miscarriage of justice,” Bennett says. “But you know people are entitled to their own sense of what justice is.” In the courtroom, the judge lowers his head and his voice. “With the greatest of reluctance, I sentence you to 60 months,” he says.
It’s expected that almost half of Generation Z, the generation following Millennials, will connect online up to 10 hours per day, and one-third will spend at least one of those 10 hours watching video. It’s no surprise then that the most-used app by Gen Z is YouTube, followed by the three other biggest social video apps: Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat.
- Gigi and Bella Hadid/Kendall and Kylie Jenner
- Amandla Stenberg
- Fifth Harmony
- Shawn Mendes
- Astronauts Wanted
- Whistle Sports
- Defy Media
- Victoria’s Secret
- Forever 21
- Brandy Melville
- Anastasia Beverly Hills
“Today’s decision is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.’s leadership position in the world.”
With those 102 characters, Lloyd Blankfein introduced himself to Twitter, taking a swipe at President Donald Trump for pulling out of the Paris climate accord.
The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. chief executive officer’s June 1 debut on the social media platform was unusual. No other leader of a big U.S. bank has an official Twitter account. Most avoid taking stands on political issues in any venue for fear of igniting a backlash or damaging their brand. And Blankfein, who has been the target of public scorn for his bank’s role in the 2008 financial crisis, was opening himself up to more abuse.
“I felt there was some inevitability to it,” Blankfein said in a June 27 interview, six Twitter posts and 40,000 followers later. “In this world, part of my job is to make us understood because the consequences of not being understood were made quite vivid to me.”
Blankfein’s embrace of a new technology and his willingness to speak out on controversial issues go hand in hand with a strategic retooling as he begins his 12th year as the bank’s leader. Call it Lloyd 3.0. If the first act of Blankfein’s career ended with the crisis, and the second covered its aftermath, the third began a year and a half ago with his recovery from lymphoma and his decision to stick around.
His longtime deputy and heir apparent, Gary Cohn, took the cue and left for a job in Trump’s White House, precipitating a management reshuffle. Blankfein’s decision also led to questioning by some investors and analysts about whether he can rejuvenate a business that has struggled to show revenue growth for the past five years and where trading market share has stayed flat as rivals gained ground. Had the thinking at the top gone stale?
“They are a boat without an oar trying to navigate choppy waters,” said Brian Kleinhanzl, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. “If you don’t get better banking, better trading, then what are you going to do to improve revenue? I don’t know that they have an answer to that.”
Read more at Bloomberg.
Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist, has examined the brains of 202 deceased football players. A broad survey of her findings was published on Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Of the 202 players, 111 of them played in the N.F.L. — and 110 of those were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., the degenerative disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head.
C.T.E. causes myriad symptoms, including memory loss, confusion, depression and dementia. The problems can arise years after the blows to the head have stopped.
The brains here are from players who died as young as 23 and as old as 89. And they are from every position on the field — quarterbacks, running backs and linebackers, and even a place-kicker and a punter.
They are from players you have never heard of and players, like Ken Stabler, who are enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Some of the brains cannot be publicly identified, per the families’ wishes.
The image above is from the brain of Ronnie Caveness, a linebacker for the Houston Oilers and Kansas City Chiefs. In college, he helped the Arkansas Razorbacks go undefeated in 1964. One of his teammates was Jerry Jones, now the owner of the Dallas Cowboys. Jones has rejected the belief that there is a link between football and C.T.E.
Read more at The New York Times.
Nine years after his plumbing company collapsed at the height of the credit crunch, Clint Barta is feeling confident enough to start again.
“It’s only been days, so it’s a bit slow,” says Barta who has been in the business for 33 years. “But I’m meeting with a builder tomorrow.”
The plumber had to lay off 75 employees back in 2008 and commuted daily for an out-of-town job to keep his family afloat.
“For years, we saw nothing in this town,” he says. “But now we live in ‘Trump times’ and it’s all starting to change”.
Barta lives in Jamestown, a tiny town of 1,900 people nestled in the fertile hills of north Tennessee. An area “with 230 churches and just one pub”, as some locals describe it.
It’s a two-hour drive from here to the nearest city, and the busy streets and shining high-rises of the state capital Nashville feel like a world away.
In Jamestown, the streets that make up the town centre are deserted.
A short walk takes you past row upon row of empty shops with bare shelves, broken blinds, and months’ worth of post piling up under the doors.
There are dusty shop fronts, a florist with plastic funeral wreaths in the window, a thrift store, a few sun-bleached ‘For Sale’ signs.
Between 2008 and 2012 official statistics show Jamestown had the sixth lowest median household income of any town in the US. And by 2015 over half of its population was living below the poverty line.
But since Donald Trump won the election in November 2016, there’s a new sense of optimism in the air.
“I am hopeful about his promise of bringing jobs back, I have already experienced it myself with my business reopening”, says Clint Barta. “Trump is a businessman and I’d rather have a businessman in office than a politician.”
Many echo his optimism. Voters in Jamestown and the surrounding Fentress County came out overwhelmingly in favour of the Republican candidate, who won 82.5% of the local vote.
“[We are] Republicans through and through, there’s no denying it,” Barta laughs.
Read more at the BBC.
More than four months into his term, how close is President Donald Trump to making good on his signature promise to build a wall between the United States and Mexico?
Let’s take a look.
Has construction begun?
Doesn’t look like it. On his fifth day in office, Trump ordered construction of the wall to begin using cash on hand. ProPublica reported last month that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had just $20 million in their coffers for the project, which isn’t much when cost estimates for building a border wall range from $1 million to $21.6 million per mile.
The border between the United States and Mexico is more than 1,900 miles, and there’s already 694 miles of existing fence. CBP did not respond to inquiries about whether any stretch of new wall has been built, although there are no signs of any activity. Repairs to 40 miles of older fencing were approved in the 2017 funding bill passed earlier this month, but funds for the concrete barrier that so energized Trump’s voters have yet to materialize.
In March, CBP put out a call for proposals that asked for two different design options: the very solid, concrete type that Trump described on the trail, and the alternative-material, see-through wall favored by border experts. Finalists will be announced in June, and prototypes will be built shortly afterward.
For the project to truly get off the ground, Trump needs to convince either Mexico or Congress to give him the cash. Few lawmakers in either party have said that funding for the wall is a priority.
Is Mexico paying for the wall?
During the campaign, Trump promised that Mexico would fund it up front. Now, the president says Mexico will eventually pay for the wall, so any money Congress allocates is just a temporary expenditure.
But Mexico says nope.
“Mexico, of course, will not pay,” Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said in January, reiterating what he has said repeatedly for the last two years, including to Trump directly during a campaign trail visit.
Read more at NBC.
No Democrat in the House of Representatives did what Cheri Bustos did last November. She wasn’t the sole member of her party to win in a congressional district Donald Trump also took—there were 11 others—but she was the only one to post a 20-point landslide, and she did it in agricultural, industrial, blue-collar northwestern Illinois. In the kind of place where Hillary Clinton lost big last fall and where Democrats have been losing in droves for the last decade, Bustos has done just the opposite. A former newspaper reporter, the wife of a county sheriff and the mother of three grown sons, the 55-year-old third-term representative has won by wider margins every time she’s run. And this past election, she notched victories not only in the urban pockets she represents—Rock Island and Moline of the Quad Cities, plus pieces of Rockford and Peoria—but in all her rural counties, too. If Democrats are going to wrest control of the House from Republicans, argue many party strategists, it’s going to happen in large part by doing more of whatever it is Bustos is doing three hours west of Chicago in her nearly 7,000-square-mile district of small towns and soybean fields.
“We ought to be studying Cheri Bustos,” Democratic consultant Mark Longabaugh, a senior adviser in Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, told me recently.
So twice in the first four months of this year, I traveled to her district to watch her work. In January, on a frigid Saturday the week before Trump’s inauguration, I accompanied her in a silver, staffer-driven Ford Taurus, as she donned a yellow hard hat and installed an air filter in a locomotive in Galesburg (the latest in a regular series of appearances she calls “Cheri on Shift”), stationed herself in a grocery store produce section to introduce herself to customers at a Hy-Vee in Canton (“Supermarket Saturdays”) and swung by a pub in Peoria to talk with a group of activist women. And last month, on a rainy Wednesday, I joined her again, when she put on a pair of safety goggles for a tour of an aerospace factory in Rockford and met with the mayor of Rock Falls, population 9,266.
The Bustos blueprint, she told me in January as the Taurus dodged raccoon road kill outside a speck of a village called Maquon, is rooted in unslick, face-to-face politicking. She shows up. She shakes hands. She asks questions—a lot of questions. “Don’t talk down to people—you listen,” she stressed. When she does talk, she talks as much as she can about jobs and wages and the economy and as little as she can about guns and abortion and other socially divisive issues—which, for her, are “no-win conversations,” she explained. And at a time when members of both parties are being tugged toward their respective ideological poles, the more center-left Bustos has picked her spots to buck such partisanship. She’s a pro-choice Catholic and an advocate for limited gun control, but she has supported the Keystone pipeline and called for improvements to Barack Obama’s “imperfect” Affordable Care Act. It’s worked. She’s the only Democratic member of the Illinois’ congressional delegation from outside Chicagoland.
Read more at Politico.