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Good morning, Q-MHI readers! 

Aerial view of Mar-a-Lago, the oceanfront estate of

As a private businessman, Donald Trump battled cabinet makers, mechanics, and painters with bullying lawsuits and intimidation aimed at negotiating a better “deal” for himself by paying them less than promised.

Donald Trump stands next to a genie lamp as the lights

In the interview, Trump repeatedly said the cases were “a long time ago.” However, even as he campaigns for the presidency, new cases are continuing. Just last month, Trump Miami Resort Management LLC settled with 48 servers at his Miami golf resort over failing to pay overtime for a special event. The settlements averaged about $800 for each worker and as high as $3,000 for one, according to court records. Some workers put in 20-hour days over the 10-day Passover event at Trump National Doral Miami, the lawsuit contends. Trump’s team initially argued a contractor hired the workers, and he wasn’t responsible, and counter-sued the contractor demanding payment.

Trump and his lawyers used similar tactics on women who say they had sexual relations with him, or who have accused him of assault, leaving behind a string of non-disclosure agreements and opaque private settlements.

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Fifteen women have come forward with allegations against Donald Trump, each accusing him of inappropriate conduct. Their charges range from an unwanted touch from behind to aggressive, sudden kissing to fingers groping up their skirt and into their underwear. Donald Trump and his campaign insist all of the stories are fabricated and politically motivated.

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So far:

  • 15 women have accused Donald Trump of various forms of sexual assault, including one accusation of rape. This figure includes standing accusations from both before and after the release of the Access Hollywood tape on October 7.
  • Four other women have publicly said Mr. Trump walked in on them and other pageant contestants while they were undressing. Buzzfeed reports another three women have confirmed the pageant stories but did not want their names used.
  • The alleged incidents range from the early 1980s to 2013.
  • Donald Trump has adamantly denied all of the stories and accuses the women of being political tools trying to shift the presidential campaign weeks before the election.

FILE PHOTO: Souvenir necklaces with a portrait of Chinese President Xi Jinping are displayed for sale at a stall in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, February 26, 2018.

But in sparking a trade war with China, the self-proclaimed great dealmaker faces a completely different type of adversary. Instead of small businessmen or Playboy bunnies, Trump is taking on the richest Communist Party regime in history, and a leader who has just consolidated power so completely that he has effectively allowed himself to be ruler for life.

Key US industries, including agriculture, autos, and airplanes, are also heavily dependent on China for profits.With the release of dueling tariff lists in the last 24 hours, China and the US are getting dangerously close to a bona fide trade war. On China’s potential hit list are US-made aircrafts, soybeans, and automobiles, which made up a combined 30% of the $130.4 billion in US exports to China in 2017.

After China retaliated with its own tariffs, Trump this week pushed for another $100 billion in tariffs, without consulting other branches of government. The move sparked outrage in his own party: John McCain decried Trump’s lack of “a real strategy” and Nebraska senator Ben Sass said the president is “threatening to light American agriculture on fire.”

Which is to say that politically, China currently has something the US does not—unity.

Yes, this is because China is an autocratic dictatorship, in which human rights are regularly abused and no one has a vote. And yes, there have been plenty of Beijing power struggles beneath the surface.

But when it comes to the trade war, Beijing’s establishment is “united on the response they’ve taken” to the US’s proposed tariffs, said John Ross, a senior research fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at the Renmin University of China. “I have not detected any significant signs of disagreement about what should be done,” he said.

Trump is negotiating like he’s still in the private sector, and acting like he’s king of his own empire. In reality, it’s Xi who has that kind of power. No one in China is likely to speak out against Xi’s trade pushback. If they did, they’d be silenced, perhaps brutally.

In acting like he has the same authority as Xi, Trump is setting himself up to lose another deal.Heather Timmons (Q-MHI).

 

FIVE THINGS ON Q-MHI WE ESPECIALLY LIKED

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Sherlock Holmes and the Kazakhstan kleptocracy. In this investigation, part-time sleuth Max de Haldevang managed to link the ownership of 221b Baker Street—the fictional home of Sherlock Holmes—to the family of Kazakhstan’s decades-long president. The building now tells the story of modern London: “A mecca for money stashed away by the elites of corrupt countries.”

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Valued at more than £130 million ($183 million), the property spanning 215 to 237 Baker Street is held via a web of secretive offshore corporations which hide its owner’s identity. It is notorious among anti-corruption activists: In 2015, then-prime minister David Cameron singled out allegations about the property in a speech in Singapore, insisting, “We need to stop corrupt officials or organised criminals using anonymous shell companies to invest their ill-gotten gains in London property.”


Addressing the back of the house. While many companies lovingly attend to the working conditions of white-collar employees (see: desks, standing), the needs of service workers frequently go ignored. Oliver Staley explains how Hilton Hotels is trying to rectify the imbalance with a plan to spruce up the places where hotel staff work, eat, and congregate—and why it’s worth the investment.

Hilton Anatole, Dallas

“Our mission is to be the most hospitable company in the world, and you can’t do that without great people, and you can’t get great people without being a great workplace,” says Matt Schuyler, Hilton’s chief human resources officer. “We can’t have a dungeonous back of house and expect people to have a great workplace.”


Luxury doesn’t mean what it used to. As clothes get cheaper and more disposable, wealthier fashion consumers no longer want items that look shiny and new. Downright uncomfortable materials, like raw denim, are now the most desired. Marc Bain explores why the old offers an emotional charge that new clothes simply cannot.


A taxi driver flashes a peace sign as he and other taxi drivers begin their protest against Uber in Montreal...

Is your Uber driver really worth five stars? For most passengers, the ride-sharing service’s highest rating is also the default, as a new study explains. Alison Griswold notes that the reason has to do with basic human decency: It’s uncomfortable for us to give other people a bad review, especially if we know they’re going to see it.


The Spotify logo is displayed as the stock waits to begin selling as a direct listing on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, U.S., April 3, 2018.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson - RC1D6CF5E6C0

Spotify’s IPO was an insight into investor psychology. The streaming company’s direct listing was a success, mainly because the VCs and funds who backed Spotify didn’t sell their shares. Why not? David Yanofsky uses the IPO’s unusually low trading volumes to suggest that backers think Spotify—which has never turned a profit—will soon be worth even more than $25 billion.

FIVE THINGS ELSEWHERE THAT MADE US SMARTER

A story about Antarctica that isn’t depressing. Pilita Clark, for the Financial Times (paywall), takes us through a melting continent using the daily lives of scientists at a British scientific base. Perks include outdoor yoga, a wild bird that delights in toying with a scientist’s wooly hat, and gin and tonics made with chunks of ancient glacier.

Antarctic scientists discovered the hole in the ozone layer, along with ice cores that shed new light on the planet’s climate history. Yet for most of the 20th century, Antarctica was widely thought to be frozen in time.  Not any more. Parts of the continent are changing fast, including sections of the massive ice sheet that covers it. This holds so much water that if it ever melted completely, global sea levels would rise by nearly 60m. This will not happen any time soon, but even small losses would affect coastal cities and islands around the world, as well as some of the most iconic polar creatures. The race to understand Antarctica has become more urgent, even as conditions on the continent remain as forbidding as ever.


What’s the deal with all these online mattress companies? In a strange offshoot of the e-commerce revolution, Curbed’s Jeff Andrews digs deep to explain that low overhead, VC funding, powerful digital-marketing tools, and vulnerable brick-and-mortar competitors have led to hundreds of companies offering to ship you a compressed mattress.


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The brutal bureaucracy of ISIL. Behind the headline-making violence of the Islamic State’s attempt to build a caliphate in Iraq was an administrative machine that, in some ways, was more efficient what it replaced, writes Rukmini Callimachi for The New York Times (paywall), drawing from thousands of files collected after ISIL’s fall.

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The documents were pulled from the drawers of the desks behind which the militants once sat, from the shelves of their police stations, from the floors of their courts, from the lockers of their training camps and from the homes of their emirs, including this record detailing the jailing of a 14-year-old boy for goofing around during prayer.

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The world knows the Islamic State for its brutality, but the militants did not rule by the sword alone. They wielded power through two complementary tools: brutality and bureaucracy.ISIS built a state of administrative efficiency that collected taxes and picked up the garbage. It ran a marriage office that oversaw medical examinations to ensure that couples could have children. It issued birth certificates — printed on Islamic State stationery — to babies born under the caliphate’s black flag. It even ran its own D.M.V.

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The documents and interviews with dozens of people who lived under their rule show that the group at times offered better services and proved itself more capable than the government it had replaced.They also suggest that the militants learned from mistakes the United States made in 2003 after it invaded Iraq, including the decision to purge members of Saddam Hussein’s ruling party from their positions and bar them from future employment. That decree succeeded in erasing the Baathist state, but also gutted the country’s civil institutions, creating the power vacuum that groups like ISIS rushed to fill.

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One of the keys to their success was their diversified revenue stream. The group drew its income from so many strands of the economy that airstrikes alone were not enough to cripple it.


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How British architecture took over the world. Apple’s new “spaceship” HQ is the epitome of a trend that has the likes of Norman Foster—who says his favorite piece of architecture is a Boeing 747—designing major corporate buildings covered with once-impossible curved glass. For 1843 magazine, Joe Lloyd describes how the Brits wooed big business with an optimistic, forward-thinking space-age futurism.

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