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Bill Gates Tops Jeff Bezos as World’s Richest Person With Amazon Slide

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 16:56

(Bloomberg) -- This time it’s official.Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates overtook Amazon.com Inc.’s Jeff Bezos as the world’s richest person on Friday, reclaiming the top ranking for the first time in more than two years.Gates may have been helped in part by the Pentagon’s surprise decision announced Oct. 25 to award a $10 billion cloud-computing contract to Microsoft over Amazon. Shares of Microsoft have since climbed 4%, giving Gates a $110 billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Amazon’s stock is down about 2% since the announcement, putting Bezos’s net worth at $108.7 billion.Gates, 64, had briefly topped Bezos, 55, on an intraday basis last month after Amazon posted its first profit drop in two years, but shares of the world’s biggest online retailer pared the decline. The index, which tracks the wealth of the richest 500 people, is updated each trading day after U.S. markets close. Europe’s richest person, Bernard Arnault, is third with $102.7 billion.Read more: Microsoft Shares Surge After Controversial Pentagon Contract WinMicrosoft has surged 48% this year, boosting the value of Gates’s 1% stake. The rest of his wealth is derived from share sales and investments made over the years by his family office, Cascade.Bezos would be far richer if he and MacKenzie Bezos hadn’t divorced. The pair announced their split in January, with MacKenzie, 49, receiving a quarter of their Amazon holdings in July. Her net worth dipped to $35 billion on Friday. Gates, on the other hand, may have never relinquished the top spot were it not for his philanthropy. He has donated more than $35 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation since 1994.Gates recently shared his thoughts on the wealth tax that’s been proposed by some Democratic presidential candidates, including Elizabeth Warren, saying he’s already paid more than $10 billion in taxes."If I’d had to pay $20 billion, it’s fine," he said. But "when you say I should pay $100 billion, then I’m starting to do a little math about what I have left over.”As of today, that would be $10 billion.(Updates with Gates comments on wealth tax starting in seventh paragraph.)\--With assistance from Sophie Alexander.To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Metcalf in London at tmetcalf7@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Pierre Paulden at ppaulden@bloomberg.net, Peter Eichenbaum, Steven CrabillFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Turkey Casts Venezuela Another Lifeline, Buying Its Scrap Metal

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 15:05

(Bloomberg) -- Desperate for cash, Venezuela is scrounging around for it in junk piles, looking for discarded car parts and odds and ends from construction sites to sell.But with U.S. sanctions cutting ever deeper into the crippled economy, the Nicolas Maduro regime appears to have found just one customer: Turkey.In the latest lifeline that country has extended to Venezuela -- after buying some of the $40 million worth of gold Maduro sold in July in defiance of U.S. sanctions -- Turkey has purchased 27,800 tons of metals scrap from state-run Corpovez, which has the monopoly in Venezuela on peddling cast-off copper, steel and other such materials.Corpovez said it made the sale in August. The company posted a video on Twitter on Nov. 13 that showed a container of junk being hoisted on to a ship, the Anshun, without saying where the load was heading. The vessel was spotted at the Isken terminal in Turkey on Aug. 30, according to ship-tracking data on Bloomberg.More than decade ago, scrap exports could be relied on for regular foreign-exchange income. It wasn’t a very big business -- the scant data available show sales of $18 million in 2004, for example -- but it was steady.Then buyers, which at one point included the U.S., Japan, Spain and China, began peeling off. The most recent transaction recorded by the the National Institute of Statistics was of 2,000 tons of unspecified junk to Cuba, netting $420,000.So Turkey stepped in. Its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is a staunch Maduro supporter. Erdogan denounced the U.S. sanctions during a visit to Caracas last December, saying Venezuela was facing “manipulative attacks from “certain countries and acts of sabotage from economic assassins.” Turkish products -- pasta, rice, and corn flour -- help fill the heavily discounted food packets most Venezuelans receive every month.The Maduro government in 2017 declared scrap metals “strategic materials” crucial to the country’s industrial development and last year banned any company other than Corpovez from selling or exporting them. That didn’t put an end to the black-market trade. As much as 1,350 tons of copper, aluminum, steel, iron and bronze pieces were stolen between August 2017 to August 2019, according to the prosecutor’s office.Scrap traffickers pinch pipelines from oil fields, pull copper wiring pulled out of electricity substations and rip bronze plaques off graves in cemeteries. Idle plants at state iron factories have been dismantled and sold off, according to the Venezuela Metal-mechanics and Metallurgic Engineers Association.It’s unclear how much Turkey paid for its scrap shipment. Officials at Corpovez didn’t respond to requests for comment.\--With assistance from Joe Deaux.To contact the reporter on this story: Fabiola Zerpa in Caracas Office at fzerpa@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Patricia Laya at playa2@bloomberg.net, Anne Reifenberg, Luzi Ann JavierFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


An expert in fraternity hazing deaths says coddling parents are part of the problem

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 14:32

Hank Nuwer, a journalist who keeps a database on fraternity deaths, thinks parents aren't teaching their children "self-restraint."


Israel to probe 'unexpected' civilian casualties in Gaza strike

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 14:20

Israel's military pledged Friday to investigate unexpected civilian casualties in a strike targeting Islamic Jihad in Gaza, where a ceasefire agreement remained fragile after fighting left 34 Palestinians dead. Israel hit back with strikes early Friday against Islamic Jihad, the second most powerful Palestinian militant group in the Gaza Strip after Islamist movement Hamas which runs the enclave.


Moving university to Vienna, Soros vows to defend academic freedom from Orban

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 13:29

Billionaire George Soros opened the new main campus of his Central European University in Vienna on Friday, saying it would not halt its struggle to defend academic freedom from Viktor Orban, the right wing leader he says hounded it from Hungary. CEU's decision last year to move the bulk of its courses out of Hungary followed a long struggle between Hungarian-born Soros, who promotes liberal causes through his charities, and Orban's anti-immigrant government. Since it was founded by Soros in 1991, CEU has been a gateway to the West for thousands of students from eastern Europe, offering U.S.-accredited graduate degree programmes in an academic climate that celebrates free thought.


Man caught at Houston airport with 35 pounds of liquid cocaine in shampoo bottles

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 12:15

The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol says an arriving passenger tried to smuggle 35 pounds worth of liquid cocaine in shampoo bottles into the country.


The new seal for the Navy's next aircraft carrier contains a hint about big changes coming to naval aviation

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 12:11

The recently unveiled seal for the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy features its best-known aircraft, along with a future addition.


Chicago gang leader accused of trying to help Islamic State

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 12:11

A purported street-gang leader from suburban Chicago who became radicalized in prison faces federal charges accusing him of seeking to provide money to Islamic State militants in Syria, according to a complaint unsealed Friday in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Jason Brown, the 37-year-old leader of the AHK gang, could be heard on secret FBI recordings speaking admiringly about beheadings by the Islamic State group, the 27-page complaint says. AHK, which prosecutors say traffics drugs throughout the Chicago area, is comprised of former members of the Black P-Stone, Gangster Disciples and Four Corner Hustlers who converted to Islam, the court filings say.


American Airlines flight attendants have literally begged not to work on the Boeing 737 Max when it returns, union boss says (BA)

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 11:43

Lori Bassani heads the union for 28,000 American Airlines flight attendants, and she warned of genuine fear among staff over returning to the 737 Max.


Scientists Are Fighting Over One of the Hottest Places on Earth

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 11:30

Some say life can exist there. Others say no way.


FACTBOX-'Witness intimidation is a crime': reaction to Trump impeachment hearing

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 10:58

The U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee held its second public hearing on Friday in an impeachment inquiry examining President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine, with Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, testifying. As Yovanovitch testified, Trump fired off criticism of her on Twitter, a move Democrats labeled "real-time" witness intimidation.


Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ripped late presidential bids and suggested efforts should be redirected to winning state legislatures

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 10:39

In a tweet Thursday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed Michael Bloomberg and Deval Patrick for moving to enter the 2020 presidential race.


Rashida Tlaib referred to House Ethics Committee for a potential violation of federal law

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 10:08

The House Ethics Committee released texts and emails on Thursday that show Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., repeatedly asking her campaign for funds to defray personal costs. The committee’s announcement comes after the board of the Office of Congressional Ethics unanimously voted in August to refer Tlaib for a potential violation of federal law.


Black South Carolina Leaders Distance Themselves from Buttigieg Campaign’s ‘Douglass Plan’

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 09:58

Several black leaders in South Carolina who were listed as supporters of the Buttigieg campaign's “Douglass Plan” distanced themselves from the proposal and the campaign when pressed for comment, saying that the campaign was “intentionally vague” in asking for their endorsements.According to a report from The Intercept, three South Carolina black leaders — Columbia City Councilwoman Tameika Devine, Rehoboth Baptist pastor and state Representative Ivory Thigpen, and Johnnie Cordero, chair of the state party’s Black Caucus — all expressed misgivings over the way that the Buttigieg campaign featured their names prominently in an open letter published in the the HBCU Times touting the plan’s details.“We are over 400 South Carolinians, including business owners, pastors, community leaders, and students. Together, we endorse his Douglass Plan for Black America, the most comprehensive roadmap for tackling systemic racism offered by a 2020 presidential candidate,” the letter reads.Buttigieg, who polled at zero percent among black voters in South Carolina earlier this year, recently called his plan “the most comprehensive vision put forward by a 2020 candidate on the question of how we’re going to tackle systemic racism in this country.”When reached for comment, Devine, Thigpen, and Cordero all denied that they intended their correspondence with the Buttigieg campaign over the plan to be read as an endorsement of the candidate.“Clearly from the number of calls I received about my endorsement, I think the way they put it out there wasn’t clear, that it was an endorsement of the plan, and that may have been intentionally vague. I’m political, I know how that works,” Devine said. “I do think they probably put it out there thinking people wouldn’t read the fine print or wouldn’t look at the details or even contact the people and say, ‘Hey, you’re endorsing Mayor Pete?’”“How it was rolled out was not an accurate representation of where I stand,” Thigpen added. “I didn’t know about its rolling out. Somebody brought it to my attention, and it was alarming to me, because even though I had had conversations with the campaign, it was clear to me, or at least I thought I made it clear to them, that I was a strong Bernie Sanders supporter — actually co-chair of the state, and I was not seeking to endorse their candidate or the plan.”Cordero, who has since been removed as a public supporter, said he did not know “how my name got on there,” and was simply emailed the plan by the campaign and asked for feedback.“What I was talking back and forth with them about was, who drafted the plan? I know Pete didn’t draft the plan. I’m sure he had his advisers do it. But I wanna know who was involved in this plan such that you can claim that you speak for black America,” Cordero said. “The long and the short of it was they never sufficiently answered my questions, so I never actually endorsed the plan. They went ahead and used my name.”In a statement to National Review, the Buttigieg campaign said that “we never gave the impression publicly that these people were endorsing Pete, only that they supported the plan.”“After they indicated their support, we reached out to people multiple times giving them the opportunity to review the language of the op-ed and the option to opt-out. We did hear from people who weren't comfortable being listed and we removed them,” the statement said.A source with knowledge of the situation said that the campaign reached out to Devine on Thursday night, who remained supportive of the plan. It is unclear whether the campaign also reached out to Thigpen.


Former top diplomat to Russia suggests 'Putin has the transcript' of Trump's Ukraine call

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 09:58

New reports suggesting Donald Trump called his EU ambassador on an unsecured line while he was visiting Ukraine could mean that “Vladimir Putin has the transcript”, according to the former top US diplomat to Russia.Michael McFaul, who served as the US ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014, slammed the White House for its “incredibly sloppy” dealings involving Ukraine.


Gay employee says salary was halved to be even with 'females in the office'

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 09:33

Man claims in lawsuit against New York events company that employers sought to degrade him after they learned he was gayThe New York company stages promotional events for companies including Nike, Twitter and Amazon. Photograph: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty ImagesA gay man working at a New York events company has claimed in a discrimination lawsuit that his pay was halved so he would be on a par with “other females in the office”.In the lawsuit against Eventique, a company that stages promotional events for companies including Nike, Twitter and Amazon, Wesley Wernecke claims his employers sought to alienate and degrade him after they learned he was gay, NBC news reported.Wernecke claims that a week after he was hired in June, co-workers began to make comments on his “girly” engagement ring. Asked if his wife wore a similar ring, Wernecke replied that his partner, Evan, did.It was then, he claims, that a tense office environment began to develop between him, co-workers and the company’s chief executive, CEO Henry Liron David. He was then excluded from meetings and after-work drinks with “the fellas”, passed over for assignments and subjected to discriminatory remarks.Wernecke was then called into David’s office and told his salary was being cut by more than 50%, from $145,000 to $70,000.“I couldn’t sleep at night thinking that you were being paid so much more than the other females in the office,” David is alleged to have told Wernecke. The CEO, the complaint alleges, “simply could not bear the thought that Eventique would continue to be represented by a gay man”.Not long after, Wernecke found his salary had been cut more drastically to $58,000.“David took pains to mark Wernecke as different from the other employees through these physical demonstrations,” the complaint alleges. The pattern of discrimination taxed Wernecke’s mental health and he began taking anti-anxiety medication to cope, he said. By October, he had been fired.“Wesley was personally recruited by this employer to be a senior producer, and once [David] learned he was gay, the employer began shutting him out of the business,” Wernecke’s lawyer Anthony Consiglio told NBC News.A lawyer for David and Eventique described the allegations as “baseless”.


Iran moves on ultra-cheap petrol, starts rationing

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 09:09

Iran imposed petrol rationing and raised pump prices by at least 50 percent Friday, saying the move aims to help the needy with cash handouts and is not due to a budget deficit. The Islamic republic provides some of the most heavily subsidised petrol in the world, with the pump price previously standing at just 10,000 rials (less than nine US cents) a litre. "Increasing petrol prices is to the people's benefit and also to help the society's strata under (economic) pressure," President Hassan Rouhani told a cabinet meeting, quoted by state news agency IRNA.


After 50 years, it's past time to bring human LGBTQ+ characters to America's Sesame Street

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 08:45

International versions of Sesame Street reflect local audiences. America is ready for gay characters but cancellation is a risk in some countries.


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