Good morning, Q-MHI readers!
WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY
The AT&T-Time Warner merger faces its fate.
A US federal judge rules this afternoon in the trial over the Justice Department’s attempt to block the $85 billion deal, which it argues will reduce competition in the cable industry. The decision could signal if similar mergers will succeed in the future.
It is about tectonic shifts in the media and technology industries. It’s about how and where we consume content and it’s about the data that companies like Netflix, Facebook and Amazon collect on viewing habits and consumer behavior that gives them a leg up over companies like Time Warner and AT&T.
The trial is also a landmark for the entire industry, as companies like Disney, Fox and Comcast wait to see how the judge rules before moving ahead with their own mega deals. If AT&T and Time Warner win, it will likely be full steam ahead. But if the ruling falls in the Justice Department’s favor, a new era of government scrutiny over these types of mergers could freeze further consolidation in the industry.
The lawsuit landed like a bomb when it was filed on Nov. 20, 2017, more than a year after the two companies announced the deal.
A Senate committee votes on new Federal Reserve board nominees.
The banking committee is expected to approve Richard Clarida for the vice chairman post and Michelle Bowman as a new member of the governing board.
Both nominees are likely to win committee approval. Analysts expect them to be confirmed to their posts by the full Senate as soon as this summer.
Mr. Clarida and Ms. Bowman are the fourth and fifth nominees by Mr. Trump to the Fed’s seven-member board. They follow Mr. Powell, who became chairman in February; Randal Quarles, who became the Fed’s vice chairman for bank supervision last fall; and Marvin Goodfriend, a Carnegie Mellon University economist also awaiting Senate confirmation.
Typically, nominees try not to make waves at confirmation hearings, and last month’s hearing for Mr. Clarida and Ms. Bowman wasn’t particularly adversarial.
That wasn’t the case in January, at Mr. Goodfriend’s hearing, when he left Democrats visibly frustrated with his answers to their questions. The banking committee approved him on a party-line vote, but his nomination hasn’t come up before the full Senate.
Republicans have a 51-to-49 majority in the chamber, and nominees are confirmed with a simple majority. The GOP’s majority is delicate due to the absence of Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), who is being treated for brain cancer.
Nintendo takes the stage at E3 in Los Angeles.
The Japanese game maker is expected to reveal details about the upcoming Super Smash Bros. for Switch, and possible new Pokémon titles.
We know the new Smash Bros. for Switch will be the centerpiece of the presentation, but Nintendo is sure to have a lot more up its sleeve. It has already announced plans for upcoming Pokemon games and Metroid Prime 4, so we may see more details from each of those franchises. Plus it always rolls out a few surprises.
Like last year’s presentation, this will focus primarily on games due out before the end of the year. That show included Super Mario Odyssey, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and Metroid: Samus Returns, along with longer-term games like the new Yoshi and Pokemon titles.
Shortly after the Nintendo presentation, the E3 show floor will officially open through Thursday, June 14. Keep checking back all week for plenty of games and news and news about games from E3 2018.
SPONSOR CONTENT BY BANK OF AMERICA MERRILL LYNCH
Smart cities are the future—and also the present.
From water-monitoring smart sensors to drones for emergency response, technology is already improving daily urban life—often in hidden ways. Take an inside look at the tech keeping cities clean, safe, and efficient.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING
The historic US-North Korea summit took place.
Donald Trump gave a thumbs-up to dictator Kim Jong Un before their 40-minute one-on-one meeting on Singapore’s Sentosa island.
They also sat down and briefly spoke to the media, during which Trump gave a thumbs-up to Kim. It was an impulsive gesture made in response to a comment Kim made. “It has not been easy to get here,” Kim said of the historic meeting. “The old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles, but we have overcome them and we are here today.”
Trump’s thumbs-up response would seem fair enough—except, of course, he’s the president of the United States, which Kim has threatened with nuclear weapons, and Kim is the ruthless dictator of a country where the slightest political offense can lead to imprisonment, torture, or death for entire extended families.
They signed a document stating a commitment to the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” but specifics were light.
US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed a mysterious agreement that Trump said was “very comprehensive” and would lead to a relationship with North Korea that is “very different than it has been in the past.”
Since they weren’t handed copies prior to the signing, journalists had to make out what was in it from photos of the agreement. A North Korean aide wearing latex gloves reportedly inspected and wiped the pen intended for Kim, which he didn’t end up using.
Here’s the full text.
Joint Statement of President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at the Singapore Summit
President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) held a first, historic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018.
President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un conducted a comprehensive, in-depth, and sincere exchange of opinions on the issues related to the establishment of new U.S.-DPRK relations and the building of a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Convinced that the establishment of new U.S.-DPRK relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un state the following:
1. The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new U.S.-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
2. The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
4. The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
Having acknowledged that the U.S.-DPRK summit — the first in history — was an epochal event of great significance in overcoming decades of tensions and hostilities between the two countries and for the opening up of a new future, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un commit to implement the stipulations in this joint statement fully and expeditiously. The United States and the DPRK commit to hold follow-on negotiations, led by the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and a relevant high-level DPRK official, at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the U.S.-DPRK summit.
President Donald J Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have committed to cooperate for the development of new U.S.-DPRK relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.
AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly gave up on an Alzheimer’s drug.
The pharma giants called off trials (paywall) of the drug lanabecestat, saying it wasn’t going to meet its goal. Johnson & Johnson also halted a trial of a similar drug in May. Pharma companies are increasingly giving up on looking for a cure for what is the most common cause of dementia in the Western world.Dementia isn’t a disease itself, but is caused by many. In 60% to 80% of dementia cases, the cause is Alzheimer’s disease. In the US, where older adults are on the verge of outnumbering children for the first time ever, a new case of Alzheimer’s is now diagnosed every 66 seconds. This year, the total cost of caring for all of the people in the US with this disease is expected to reach $1 trillion—higher than it’s ever been before. And yet despite what has obviously become a crisis, there hasn’t been a new treatment for Alzheimer’s in over a decade.
There are three main reasons scientists have not successfully developed new Alzheimer’s drugs in the last decade and a half. The first is a complication of the disease itself: for years, it’s asymptomatic. Neurological symptoms only begin to show when the disease has progressed to the point where it has irreversibly damaged the brain, at which point it’s almost impossible to treat.
In this case,Scientists have seven years to meet the 2025 goal set out by the government’s National Alzheimer’s Project Act. In clinical research, especially following a progressive disease, seven years is a blink of an eye. And the rate at which people are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s will almost certainly increase in the coming years as the global population continues to age. Increased life expectancy means increased chances of living with the disease; almost 40% of those older than 85 have Alzheimer’s.
Past pharmaceutical failures may be discouraging, but in some sense they’ve been important, says Egge. They’ve demonstrated how complex Alzheimer’s disease really is, which encourages more funding from groups like the NIH. Knowing what doesn’t work and how even the structure of research needs to be improved, has been crucial for laying out the path forward.
The US unveiled a new de facto embassy in Taiwan.
The American Institute in Taiwan, which serves as Washington’s unofficial link to Taipei—China forbids diplomatic recognition of Taiwan as a separate country—cut the ribbon on a new $250 million complex. The White House did not send any high-level staff to the opening.
The Trump administration’s support for Taiwan led some to speculate that a high-level official, most notably Bolton, would attend the ceremony. A guest of his stature attending would likely rattle Beijing, which this year has gone to new lengths to assert its claim over Taiwan. Over the past several months, global companies like Marriott, Zara, and Qantas issued public apologies after Chinese authorities reprimanded them for referring to Taiwan as an independent country on their websites. And since Tsai Ing-wen assumed Taiwan’s presidency in 2016, Taiwan has lost four diplomatic allies to China—São Tomé and Príncipe, Panama, the Dominican Republic, and Burkina Faso.
Marie Royce, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs in the State Department, and Mississippi congressman Gregg Harper, who chairs the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, will both attend. Bolton will be in Singapore, tending to the Trump-Kim summit. Still, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert called the new embassy a “milestone” on Twitter.
According to Jonathan Sullivan, director of the China Policy Institute at University of Nottingham, it’s possible that the Trump administration has prevented its highest figures from attending the ceremony in order to ensure Beijing cooperates with the US’s attempts to denuclearize North Korea.
“Neither the US nor Taipei want to unnecessarily provoke a reaction from China, which is, for good reason, hypersensitive to American support for Taiwan,” he says.
However, Sullivan adds, the new facility’s mere existence serves as an important symbol, regardless of who ultimately attends its opening ceremony:
“It signals American commitment to Taiwan, without which Taiwan would be totally marginalized and vulnerable to Chinese pressures. It also sends a signal to China that Taiwan continues to be an important American partner, and the US is not going anywhere.”
Trump’s top economic advisor had a heart attack.
Minutes before the Singapore summit began, the president tweeted that Larry Kudlow, chair of the National Economic Council, had been hospitalized.
“Our Great Larry Kudlow, who has been working so hard on trade and the economy, has just suffered a heart attack. He is now in Walter Reed Medical Center,” Trump tweeted, 25 minutes before he was set to meet with Kim for the first time.
Kudlow, 70, was not traveling with the US President in Singapore, but he had just returned to the United States from the G7 summit in Canada, where trade tensions dominated the atmosphere.
Facebook finally submitted its homework assignment.
The company sent the Senate over 400 pages of answers to roughly 2,000 questions posed before and after CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s April hearings.
In the answers, the company also detailed ways its partners were able to gather information about users’ activities even if they’re not logged into Facebook, including information about the purchases they make and the games they play. Questions about how Facebook tracks nonusers during the hearing had illuminated the social network’s digital reach, which many users had either ignored or taken for granted.
Despite the length of the responses, many did not actually answer the questions asked. For example, the Committee said it “had become aware that Facebook has surveyed users about whether they trust the company to safeguard their privacy” and asked that Zuckerberg provide the results of any such survey.
But in a 326-word reply, Facebook did not say whether it surveyed its users or what it found if it did, instead reiterating, “Privacy is at the core of everything we do. And our approach to privacy starts with our commitment to transparency and control.”
Lawmakers have continued to raise the specter of regulation after reports that followed the hearings on Facebook’s data-sharing deals with device makers and other companies. The company says it’s open to privacy regulation — as long as it was “the right regulation.” In its answer to Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., the company offered to write such laws itself.
The two separate documents, a 225-page set of answers to the Senate Judiciary Committee and a 229-page set of answers to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, were posted late Monday.
The documents contained no real bombshells (paywall). Facebook Inc.turned in more than 450 pages of homework to U.S. lawmakers, defending itself against claims that it is a monopoly and sidestepping questions about the effectiveness of an app that can effectively spy on competitors.
In documents released Monday, Facebook responded to more than 2,000 questions posed to Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg by members of U.S. Senate and House committees when he testified in April. The material is granular in places and sometimes evasive, and delivered no apparent bombshells.
Q-MHI OBSESSION INTERLUDE
Steve Mollman on how Trump’s dealmaking style led to a summit with Kim Jong Un.
“When South Korean officials relayed an invitation from Kim to Trump to meet in person, Trump accepted the invitation straightaway, sending his aides scrambling… That Trump was not more cautious—and didn’t consult extensively with Korea experts—isn’t surprising. As a businessman, he often dismissed steps others would view as prudent, such as hiring consultants.”
He wrote in The Art of the Deal:
“I like consultants even less than I like committees. When it comes to making a smart decision, the most distinguished planning committee working with the highest-priced consultants doesn’t hold a candle to a group of guys with a reasonable amount of common sense and their own money on the line.”
On Saturday (June 9), Trump said his instincts would quickly tell him whether Kim was serious about denuclearization:
“I think within the first minute, I’ll know… Just my touch, my feel, that’s what I do… I think very quickly I’ll know whether or not something good is going to happen.”
Trump clearly takes pride in his instincts, and doesn’t see much need for preparation. He said last week of the summit, “I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about attitude, it’s about willingness to get things done.” Nor did he see consulting Korea experts as a necessity—indeed, the US still has no ambassador to South Korea, one of many diplomatic posts (paywall) left unfilled. In a telling comment to Fox News last November, he said of the empty diplomatic positions, “Let me tell you, the one that matters is me. I’m the only one that matters.”
Trump, like many negotiators, is a strong believer in the power of leverage. As he wrote in The Art of the Deal:
“The best thing you can do is deal from strength, and leverage is the biggest strength you can have. Leverage is having something the other guy wants. Or better yet, needs.”
For Trump, sanctions provided the US with leverage over North Korea. Some argue that (paywall) Trump’s insistence on ratcheting up economic pressure through heavier sanctions forced Kim to the table—though Kim counters that it was his completion of North Korea’s nuclear program that made the time right for a meeting.
In The Art of the Deal, he described intentionally horrifying New York city planning officials by showing mockups of an ugly building he was supposedly planning to erect if they didn’t give him permission for the skyscraper he wanted to create.
“Naturally, they were horrified. I’m not sure they believed we’d ever build it, or even that it was buildable, but there was no way they could be sure.”
Similarly, on foreign policy, he’s said, “I don’t want people to know my thinking.”That’s one thing, at least, he shouldn’t be too worried about.
MATTERS OF DEBATE
Schools need better teachers, not smaller classes.
More school funding also has a vanishingly small effect.The students who stand to benefit the most from the most effective teachers are those in disadvantaged schools. But a new report from the OECD finds that in many countries, including France, the Netherlands and the US, just the opposite is happening: Disadvantaged schools have less qualified or less experienced teachers, compared to advantaged schools. Instead, many of these countries attempt to address inequity by creating smaller classes or lower student-teacher ratios for worse-off schools.
To help poor students, countries should “assign high-quality teachers, and not just more teachers, to the most challenging schools,” said Andreas Schleicher, director of the OECD’s Education and Skills group. “Teacher policies have a critical role to play in delivering a future for millions who currently may struggle to have one.”
The OECD report says the best-performing school systems had three things in common when it came to teachers: Most had a required and extended period of on-the-job training during which they received feedback and support from mentors in a formalized program; most professional development was in-house, rather than imported by experts; and teacher evaluation focused on useful feedback for improvement. Also, teachers felt valued in society.
But the report was quick to note that policy matters. “Contrary to what is often assumed, high-performing systems do not enjoy a natural privilege simply due to a traditional respect for teachers; they have also built a high-quality teaching force as a result of deliberate policy choices, carefully implemented over time.”
Denuclearization shouldn’t stop with North Korea.
There is only one long-term solution to potential annihilation: global nuclear disarmament.On June 12, US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will hold a summit meeting in Singapore. Trump has said “We will both try to make it a very special moment for world peace.” All of humanity should wish for their success. Peace between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) would be a great achievement welcomed by all. But it would be just one step in resolving the larger nuclear dilemma—the spread of nuclear weapons across nine countries, the desire of terrorists to obtain such weapons, and the possibility that one or more of the world’s existing 16,000 nuclear weapons will be launched in error.
Despite biologic and chemical weapons of mass destruction being outlawed, nuclear weapons are still legal. In 2017, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), an organization borne out of the IPPNW, for its proposal to abolish nuclear weapons.
There is therefore only one long-term global solution: total nuclear disarmament. The denuclearization of the Korean peninsula could be a first step toward that goal.
Does Justin Trudeau wear fake eyebrows?
An unusual video from the G7 summit is spawning follicular conspiracy theories. US President Donald Trump renewing the threat of global trade war as he abruptly rejected the text of a consensus statement and branded as “false” statements made by the summit’s Canadian host Justin Trudeau.
“Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our US farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our US Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the US Market!” Trump tweeted.
“PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that… he ‘will not be pushed around.’ Very dishonest & weak,” continued the US president.
But the possibility of a trade war has been ‘overshadowed’ by an unusual theory circulating about Trudeau’s eyebrows, specifically that one of them came off during a live press conference.
As the claim is picking up steam, we will examine whether it is true.
Footage of Trudeau’s press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron on 7 June appears to show Trudeau’s eyebrow falling off.
Once the footage was shared online, a number of news sites began to pick up the story, such as WorldNetDaily, TheDailyWire and TheDailyCaller.
Russia’s state-backed broadcaster RT ran a poll with the majority voting that it was a fake eyebrow.This tweet is one of many making the assertion, but is the most widely retweeted, having over 7,400 today.
There is no evidence that Trudeau’s eyebrow fell off at a press conference or that he wears fake ones. A number of video and photographic sources contemporaneous with the event show that his left eyebrow remains fully intact throughout.We rate this claim as FALSE.
Rat bones reveal how humans change the environment.
Their chemical composition tells us what people were eating over 2,000 years ago. Jillian Swift didn’t set out to become the “rat girl.” But as the Max Planck archaeologist studied more sites, she realized that there was a wealth of information there besides fossils and tools. “Excavation is an inherently destructive activity, so it’s best practice to collect everything we find,” Swift said by email—and that includes dirt, rocks, and yes, rat bones. “There’s a whole wealth of rat assemblages just sitting in the back of cabinets, waiting for someone to do something interesting with them.”
That fascination with making the most of the leftover bits from a dig spurred Swift and her colleagues to analyze 145 rat bones from three Polynesian island systems in the Pacific. The rodents, considered invasive, disease-carrying pests in life, proved surprisingly useful in death. By measuring the chemical composition of the rat bones, the researchers could make inferences not only about what humans were eating around 2,000 years ago, but also how their early residence on the islands—Mangareva, Tikopia and Ua Huka (also known as Marquesas)—shaped the environment.
US bureaucrats have to tape Trump’s papers back together.
The president enjoys tearing documents into shreds, even when they must be preserved.Solomon Lartey spent the first five months of the Trump administration working in the Old Executive Office Building, standing over a desk with scraps of paper spread out in front of him.
Lartey, who earned an annual salary of $65,969 as a records management analyst, was a career government official with close to 30 years under his belt. But he had never seen anything like this in any previous administration he had worked for. He had never had to tape the president’s papers back together again.
Armed with rolls of clear Scotch tape, Lartey and his colleagues would sift through large piles of shredded paper and put them back together, he said, “like a jigsaw puzzle.” Sometimes the papers would just be split down the middle, but other times they would be torn into pieces so small they looked like confetti.
It was a painstaking process that was the result of a clash between legal requirements to preserve White House records and President Donald Trump’s odd and enduring habit of ripping up papers when he’s done with them — what some people described as his unofficial “filing system.”
Under the Presidential Records Act, the White House must preserve all memos, letters, emails and papers that the president touches, sending them to the National Archives for safekeeping as historical records.
The Pope has a space suit.
Astronauts from the International Space Station gave him a custom blue jumpsuit but to distinguish him from ordinary planetary pilgrims like themselves they added a white cape, outfitted with a white cape.
“Since clothes make the man, we thought we’d have a flight suit like ours made for you,” Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli told the pope at a meeting in the Vatican also attended by four other Space Station veterans – three Americans and one Russian.
“OK, and you will plan my trip,” joked the 81-year-old pontiff, clearly enjoying the exchange.Nespoli said the suit was identical to theirs and made of the same material. It bore the pope’s name at birth, Jorge Bergoglio, and the flag of his native country, Argentina.
The small white cape bore the Vatican flag, the official NASA wings logo and “Pope Francis” embroidered on it.
Africa’s ancient baobab trees are suddenly dying.
Researchers suspect climate change might be the cause, but have no direct proof.The researchers have been visiting ancient trees across southern Africa since 2005, using radio carbon dating to investigate their structure and age.
Unexpectedly, they found that eight of the 13 oldest and five of the six largest baobabs had either completely died or had their oldest parts collapse.
Baobab trees have many stems and trunks, often of different ages. In some cases all the stems died suddenly.The trees that have died or are dying are found in Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana and Zambia. They are all between 1,000 and more than 2,500 years old.
The researchers, from universities in South Africa, Romania and the US, say the loss of the trees is “an event of an unprecedented magnitude”.Revealing the findings in the journal Nature Plants, they say the deaths were not caused by an epidemic.
“We suspect that the demise of monumental baobabs may be associated at least in part with significant modifications of climate conditions that affect southern Africa in particular,” said the team, led by Dr Adrian Patrut of Babes-Bolyai University in Romania. “However, further research is necessary to support or refute this supposition.”