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- 09/20/18--00:44: _Liam Fox is plottin...
- 09/20/18--02:08: _Danske Bank could b...
- 09/20/18--02:15: _Bernie Sanders has ...
- 09/20/18--02:27: _An Instagram star f...
- 09/20/18--02:30: _'The market is bett...
- 09/20/18--02:39: _People in Australia...
- 09/20/18--02:58: _'We're in the fourt...
- 09/20/18--03:00: _Hackers stole $60 m...
- 09/20/18--03:04: _BANK OF AMERICA: Th...
- 09/20/18--03:04: _An Australian footb...
- 09/20/18--22:10: _One Facebook outage...
- 09/20/18--22:34: _A street artist put...
- 09/20/18--22:45: _Inside Facebook's p...
- 09/20/18--23:00: _Instagram's new TV ...
- 09/20/18--23:05: _Google employees co...
- 09/20/18--23:50: _10 things in tech y...
- 09/21/18--00:01: _10 things you need ...
- 09/21/18--01:16: _A criminal investig...
- 09/21/18--01:45: _A senior Deutsche B...
- 09/21/18--01:49: _Theresa May's leade...
- Exclusive: Liam Fox is planning to scrap EU food standards using controversial "Henry the 8th" powers, multiple sources have told Business Insider.
- The UK trade secretary wants to use government powers to rewrite UK food standards in order to strike a post-Brexit trade deal with the Trump administration.
- Sources claim Fox wants to alter food standards through the Trade Bill. A government spokesperson denied the bill would be used to lower standards.
- Labour accuses Fox of risking putting UK "farmers and food producers out of business."
- The UK will need to lower its food standards to sign a comprehensive trade deal with the US.
- Danske Bank, Denmark's biggest lender, has been rocked by a money-laundering scandal which may have involved $235 billion.
- If the bank is found guilty of any wrongdoing it will likely face a significant fine.
- One estimate suggests the fine could be as high as 53 billion Danish krone ($8.3 billion), while others believe somewhere in the hundreds of millions of dollars is more likely.
- The bank has not yet been found to have done anything wrong, so a fine may not be levied at all.
- More Amazon workers have donated to Bernie Sanders than Barack Obama over the past 14 years, according to political data firm GovPredict.
- It could be a boost for Sanders' campaign against Amazon's working standards, showing his ideas and ideology resonate with certain sections of Amazon employees.
- Amazon has called Sanders' claims about pay and warehouse working conditions "inaccurate and misleading."
- GovPredict found that more than 90% of the political donations made by Amazon employees have gone to Democrat candidates and causes since 2004.
- An Instagram star from Hong Kong has come under fire for taking an unusual carry-on item onto a business class flight.
- Harimao Lee posted a photo of herself sipping Champagne on her Cathay Pacific flight to Rome while draped in fairy lights.
- People on social media questioned the influencer's choice of lighting, with some noting that she was sitting in the seat backwards.
- The post appears to be sponsored by Cathay Pacific as #cathaycreators is tagged in the caption.
- Lee doesn't seem to mind the criticism, though.
- She has since posted more pictures of herself in exotic locations, draped in her beloved fairly lights.
- A sealed one-day auction between Comcast and Fox for Sky is on course to commence Saturday.
- These types of auctions are extremely rare with only two in the past decade.
- Analysts predict that Comcast will win in a bidding war for Sky.
- Australia's biggest supermarket — Woolworths — announced Thursday that it will stop selling sewing needles.
- It is a response to a crisis in the country which has seen people hide needles inside strawberries and other fruit.
- More than 100 reports have been made of hidden needles, and 2 people who accidentally ate needles had to go to hospital.
- The crisis has spread panic, plunged Australia's fruit industry into chaos, and prompted Parliament to pass a new law.
- Former FBI Director James Comey says the Russia investigation into the Trump campaign appears to be nearing its end.
- He suggested that Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's recent guilty pleas and agreement to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller suggested Mueller was closing in on Trump.
- Comey said: "The way you normally do investigations is you work from the bottom up, and so they're getting pretty high."
- Comey admitted that the secrecy with which the investigation has been conducted means he can't be totally sure of its progress.
- 6.7 billion yen ($60 million) in cryptocurrency has been stolen by hackers from a Japanese digital exchange called Zaif.
- Tech Bureau Corp, the Osaka based company that owns the exchange, said hackers gained access for a timeframe of over two hours on September 14 and stole money from Zaif’s ‘hot wallet’ where Bitcoin and other digital currencies are stored, Reuters reported.
- Server problems were detected on September 17, with the company sounding the alarm to authorities the following day. The exchange was taken offline, and efforts have been underway to get it working again.
- Bank of America Merrill Lynch argues the equity bull market as we know it is over, and urges investors to start looking ahead at how to combat the coming collapse.
- It offers a "perverse" trade suggestion to help combat the economic recession that's likely to accompany any stock-market crash.
- An Australian football club has issued a grovelling apology after three of its players were photographed in blackface.
- The athletes were dressed as tennis champions Serena Williams and Venus Williams and Kenyan-born football player Aliir Aliir.
- The incident follows the controversy surrounding Australian newspaper The Herald Sun's mean-spirited crusade against Serena Williams after the American's outburst at the 2018 US Open final.
- When Facebook crashes, traffic to news outlets spikes.
- Data from analytics firm Chartbeat shows that when the Silicon Valley social network goes down, people flock to news apps and websites.
- The data highlights how Facebook can compete with news outlets for users' attention even as it fuels them with traffic.
- And it may demonstrate that despite many news outlets' current dependence on Facebook, many could manage without it.
- 09/20/18--22:34: A street artist put Trump's Hollywood Walk of Fame star behind bars
- A street artist taped bars around Donald Trump's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in California.
- He claimed his protest-art was "intended to be humorous."
- He also said that a Trump supporter failed to remove the bars, "to the amusement of ... passing tourists."
- Facebook is on a mission to help people who speak different languages understand one another.
- It's using M Suggestions, its virtual assistant in Messenger, to translate real-time conversations, and has just added support for French.
- Business Insider spoke to Facebook employees working on the project about the tech behind it, and its potential to radically affect online communication.
- Exclusive: Instagram's new TV service, IGTV, recommended videos of what appeared to be child exploitation and genital mutilation, a Business Insider investigation has found.
- BI monitored IGTV over a three-week period and found its algorithm recommended disturbing and potentially illegal videos.
- Two of the videos, featuring suggestive footage of young girls, were reported to the police by a leading children's charity over concerns they broke the law.
- Instagram took five days to remove the videos, and apologised to users who saw them. The Facebook-owned app said it wants IGTV to be a "safe place for young people."
- British lawmaker Damian Collins, who led the inquiry into Facebook's Cambridge Analytica data breach, described BI's findings as "very disturbing."
- Readers should be warned that some of the details in this report may be upsetting.
- In early 2017, an undisclosed number of Google employees discussed via internal messages ways that they could manipulate search results in protest of President Trump's travel ban, reports the Wall Street Journal.
- They suggested surfacing links to pro-immigration organizations and ways to contact government agencies when you searched for terms like "Islam" or""Muslim."
- Google told the Journal that none of the plans were implemented.
- 09/20/18--23:50: 10 things in tech you need to know today
- Exclusive: Instagram's new TV service recommended videos of potential child abuse. Instagram's new TV service, IGTV, recommended videos of what appeared to be child exploitation and genital mutilation, a Business Insider investigation has found.
- Here's everything Amazon announced at its huge September event. Amazon held a special event on Thursday to unveil a slew of new gadgets and services, including the new Echo Dot, the AmazonBasics microwave and the Alexa Guard.
- Adobe is acquiring software company Marketo for $4.75 billion. Marketo is owned by private equity firm Vista Equity Partners who bought the company for $1.8 billion in 2016.
- Google employees considered manipulating search results to help protest Trump's travel ban. In early 2017, an undisclosed number of Google employees discussed via internal messages ways that they could manipulate search results in protest of President Trump's travel ban, reports the Wall Street Journal.
- Uber could be getting ready to buy Deliveroo, a food delivery startup valued at over $2 billion and one of its biggest international rivals. Uber is reportedly in early talks to buy Deliveroo, London based startup most recently valued at $2 billion, and one of the biggest international rivals to Uber Eats.
- Facebook is taking on Tinder with the official launch of its dating service — but it's only in Colombia for now. The service is built into Facebook's core mobile app, and will compete against the likes of Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid.
- Prosecutors in Minneapolis say they are weighing whether to bring charges against the JD.com founder. Prosecutors are weighing whether to bring charges against Richard Liu after the Minneapolis Police Department turned over the findings of its initial investigation into accusations of rape against the JD.com founder.
- Amazon-owned audiobook service Audible is coming to Apple watch. You'll now be able to listen to audiobooks directly from the watch.
- Instagram is reportedly testing a way to let you easily re-share someone else's photo — a feature users have been begging for. The experimental feature would work similarly to Twitter's retweet button, or shares on Facebook, and the could transform the photo-sharing app.
- Google told US Senators in a letter that it uses automated scans to protect user data and that it catches the "majority" of bad actors. Google's letter, made public on Thursday, did not directly answer questions about instances in which apps may have improperly shared user data.
- 09/21/18--00:01: 10 things you need to know in markets today
- A criminal investigation has been launched into a mystery UK entity believed to be involved in the massive money laundering scandal centered around Danske Bank.
- The UK's National Crime Agency said it was "aware of the use of UK registered companies in this case and has related ongoing operational activity."
- Danske Bank's money laundering scandal relates to non-resident transactions at its Estonian branch, and could have involved as many as $235 billion worth of transactions.
- CEO Thomas Borgen resigned from the helm of the bank earlier this week as a result of the scandal.
- Deutsche Bank's former head of M&A in America presented a plan to break-up the bank to Deutsche Bank's CFO in April.
- The plan involved spinning out Deutsche Bank's investment bank and merging the rest of the company with another bank.
- The CFO listened to the plans but didn't share them with any other members of the executive team.
- Theresa May has been humiliated by EU leaders who unanimously rejected her plans for Brexit.
- European Council President Donald Tusk openly mocked her on social media.
- Conservative MPs from all sides are now rounding on May in order to force her to drop her so-called Chequers plan.
- The row comes ahead of an already difficult Conservative Party conference for the prime minister.
LONDON — Liam Fox is planning to use controversial "Henry VIII" powers to scrap European food standards in order to pave the way for a trade deal with the US after Brexit.
Theresa May's government has insisted that they will not water down EU regulations which currently prohibit the sale of products such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-injected beef in Britain.
However, Fox and Crawford Falconer, the UK's chief trade negotiation adviser, have privately discussed rewriting UK food standards through the upcoming Trade Bill, a source in Fox's Department for International Trade told Business Insider.
The Trade Secretary plans to use statutory instruments which allow the government to rewrite parts of legislation without a vote in parliament, in order to alter the bill once it has been voted on by MPs.
Fox's plans were confirmed by another government source as well as two sources who work closely with his department.
"Nothing is completely off the table. We are going to keep the same high level of health and safety standards but we are on course to negotiate with the US for an FTA and that will require compromise," a government source said.
UK food standards currently mirror those of the EU. The EU enforces stringent rules and regulations on food and the environment. These prohibit contentious agricultural products like chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-treated beef from entering EU markets, including the UK's.
However, Fox believes the UK should diverge from EU rules after Brexit in order to sign wide-ranging free trade deals with countries with lower standards.
Trade experts have warned that any post-Brexit UK-US trade deal will likely require the UK to abandon the EU's food standards. Sir Peter Westmacott, the UK's former ambassador to the US, told BI that US-produced agricultural products would also be produced at a "relatively low cost," posing a threat to UK farmers.
A government spokesperson denied that the Trade bill would be used to lower food standards after Brexit.
"It is not true that the Trade Bill will lower UK food standards and to suggest otherwise is false," they said.
Outfoxed by Gove
Fox has previously defended the potential sale of chlorinated chicken in the UK.
"There are no health reasons why you couldn’t eat chickens that have been washed in chlorinated water," the Trade Secretary told MPs last year.
However, Fox's push to reduce UK food standards have been resisted by Michael Gove's Department for Environment, who are wary that it would contradict Gove's promise not to compromise environmental standards.
"DEFRA and DIT are not pals," a source who has worked with DIT said.
"DEFRA have a big trade team now which sees its mandate as stopping DIT from doing silly things. BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) are also gearing up to battle DIT, but are further behind in the process.”
Gove has previously publicly dismissed suggestions that the UK should lower standards in order to win a deal with the US.
"The Cabinet is agreed that there should be no compromise on high animal welfare and environmental standards. In America they cannot guarantee the same high standards in terms of how chickens are reared that we insist on here," he told MPs last year.
"Unless there is a change in the American side, we would say that those animal welfare rules are things on which we will not compromise."
'Nightmare scenario' for British consumers
Fox's apparent determination to push ahead with plans to alter food standards after Brexit comes as the prime minister comes under renewed pressure to abandon plans to sign up Britain to continued regulatory alignment with the EU after Brexit.
The Initiative for Free Trade, a right-wing organisation with close links to Fox and US President Trump, will this week unveil proposals for a UK-US free trade deal based on cutting back food and environmental regulations.
Fox's colleague, Treasury minister Liz Truss, reportedly told one of the think tanks involved in the proposals that the UK is being held back by "a thicket of regulation and control" and should pursue an "Anglo-American dream."
The government's opponents accused Fox and the government of setting up a "nightmare" scenario for British consumers.
"Theresa May has not even concluded a withdrawal agreement and already Liam Fox is seizing powers to lower our food and animal welfare standards and protections," Barry Gardiner MP, Labour's Shadow International Trade Secretary told BI.
"All in order to strike a quick and grubby trade deal with President Trump.
"When will the Tories understand that lower environmental standards, chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-fed beef is not a dream but a nightmare? Opening up our markets to big US agribusiness risks putting many of our farmers and food producers out of business and fundamentally damage our countryside."
Labour MP Peter Kyle, a leading supporter of the People's Vote campaign, told BI: "In the UK we are rightly proud of the high-quality, world-class food we produce. Our farmers do not want to reduce standards or to allow cheaply-produced, lower quality imports to flood the market just to appease the likes of Donald Trump."
"Our food production and environmental standards must not be carved up at the whims of Liam Fox."
A senior source in the House of Lords warned that peers would also block any move by Fox to redesign the country's food standards using Henry VIII powers."It will go down like a bucket of sick," they told BI.
"For Henry VIII powers to be abused like that would go down very badly in the House of Lords."
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The scandal surrounding the Estonian arm of Denmark's biggest lender, Danske Bank, is one of the biggest in the financial sector in many years.
Danske Bank admitted on Wednesday that as much as $235 billion of transactions flowing through its Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015 may have been suspicious, and connected to potential money laundering.
So far, the bank's CEO, Thomas Borgen has resigned, saying that while an investigation into the branch found no legal wrongdoing from him, he believed the best course of action was to stand down.
"It is clear that Danske Bank has failed to live up to its responsibility in the case of possible money laundering in Estonia," he said in resigning on Wednesday.
As well as Borgen's resignation, Danske has already had to contend with a sharp drop in its share price as investors pull out in anticipation of possible regulatory and legal punishments on the back of the scandal.
Going forward, however, another major issue the bank is likely to have to contend with is one or more substantial fines for its failings in the scandal. No one knows how much any potential fine will be yet, or even if any will be levied, but early estimates range from hundreds of millions of dollars, to billions.
Perhaps the biggest estimate of how much the fine may be so far comes from Danish bank Jyske Bank, a key competitor of Danske Bank. According to a column from Breakingviews, analysts at Jyske have calculated that the heaviest penalty for Danske Bank could amount to 53 billion Danish krone ($8.3 billion).
That is based on about $150 billion of the Estonian transactions being fraudulent, and regulators following the penalties they have imposed on the likes of Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas in previous incidents.
Most estimates are significantly less extreme than that outcome. Credit Suisse, for example, said in a note on Wednesday that markets are expecting the total fine to be below 15 billion krone ($2.3 billion), around 28% of the most pessimistic forecast from Jyske.
The Danish government has also put a smaller number on a potential fine for Danske Bank if it is found to have committed any wrongdoing. The Danish government said on Wednesday afternoon it could be looking to levy a fine of 4 billion kroner ($630 billion) in the event wrongdoing is proved.
According to Bloomberg that estimate is "based on an assumption that the bank’s profits from transactions tainted by laundering amount to about 1.5 billion kroner ($235 million.)"
Danske Bank has not yet been found to be responsible for anything connected to the scandal, so it is possible that it could avoid a fine altogether.
The bank has already received a fine for violating anti-money laundering rules in relation to the monitoring of transactions to and from correspondent banks. In December last year, it was hit with a 12.5 million krone ($2 million) fine. That fine, however, did not concern its Estonian operation.
More Amazon workers have donated to Bernie Sanders than Barack Obama over the past 14 years — and it could provide a boost for the Democrat's war on the tech company.
That's the finding of a detailed study on the political donations of Amazon employees by GovPredict, a political data firm with backing from the prestigious Silicon Valley tech incubator Y Combinator. The company combs through campaign filings to find details of donations.
GovPredict found that 275 Amazon workers have provided funding for Sanders since 2004. Hillary Clinton is the only politician to have received more backing from Amazon staff, with 310 employees contributing to her cause. Barack Obama had support from 171 Amazon employees.
However, when you look at the amount donated to US politicians by Amazon staff, Sanders was in fourth place. Below is a chart produced by GovPredict, showing Clinton leading the way with $610,805 in donations from employees of the Seattle-based tech firm.
The findings could be a boost for Sanders' campaign against Amazon's working standards. The lawmaker introduced a bill, the Stop BEZOS Act, earlier this month in a bid to increase worker pay at large companies like Amazon and Walmart. The aim is to force employers to increase wages to a level at which workers do not need to rely on programs like food stamps or housing assistance.
GovPredict's findings reflect political donations from every level at Amazon, including those who work in the company's warehouses, who are among those Sanders is campaigning for. It shows that Sanders' ideas and ideology resonate with certain sections of Amazon employees.
Business Insider contacted Amazon for comment. The firm fired back at Sanders in a blog post last month, calling his claims about working conditions "inaccurate and misleading." It goes on to tout its pay and benefits, as well as the working conditions in its warehouses — areas that Sanders has repeatedly criticised.
More broadly, GovPredict found that more than 90% of the political donations made by Amazon employees went to Democrat candidates and causes over the past 14 years. The political party has received $6.7 million from Amazon staff, while $731,576 was given to the Republicans, including $17,436 for President Donald Trump.
The findings were almost identical to similar research GovPredict carried out on Alphabet's political donations, meaning a picture is emerging on big tech's liberal leanings.
The Amazon research was presented in a blog post by GovPredict CEO Emil Pitkin. Pitkin is a former Harvard graduate and launched GovPredict at the Y Combinator demo day in 2015. The company is also said to have $120,000 in seed funding from Y Combinator, which has backed startups such as Airbnb, Reddit, and Stripe.
Some people will stop at nothing to capture the perfect travel photo.
One such person is Hong Kong Instagram star Harimao Lee — who has 127,000 followers at the time of writing.
Lee has come under fire on social media for her affinity for fairy lights, which she took on her business class Cathay Pacific flight in order to capture this snap:
She wrote in the caption: "It was the long dark night during the flight from HK to Rome. Stargazing is one thing to do in the cabin." However, the glare from the fairy lights may have made stargazing somewhat tricky.
The post appears to be sponsored by the Hong Kong airline, as #cathaycreators is tagged in the caption.
People on social media tore into the influencer for her choice of lighting, which is an admittedly unusual item to carry in your hand luggage.
Travel writer Cynthia Drescher wrote on Twitter: "Awful lot of effort to make an already great seat (J, CX 77W) look Insta-glam. (She's sitting backwards/in the footwell, brought fairy lights, and has vacant side stare (at what?) down pat)."
"Only a couple of months to go until she can bring a Christmas tree on board,"another user wrote.
Lee is paying no attention to the haters, though.
She has since posted a picture of her entangled in her beloved fairy lights while looking out over the now Instagram-famous Cinque Terre in Italy.
The battle for British broadcaster Sky may be in its final days. Comcast and 21st Century Fox, which have competing bids out for Sky, have until Friday to drop out of bidding before a larger clash of the media titans begins.
Unless there is a breakthrough, the bidding process will end after a single-day auction starting on Saturday, the British Takeover Panel declared on Thursday.
The Takeover Panel has a standard auction timeframe of five days, and bidding can be sealed or open. One-day sealed auctions are so rare there have been only two in the past decade, Morningstar analyst Allan Nichols told Business Insider.
"This is very rare in UK M&A," Alex DeGroote, an independent media analyst, told Business Insider. "And a suitably dramatic end to this saga."
A potential bidding war
Once an auction begins there are few potential outcomes, according to analysts.
Neither company could choose to increase their current bids for Sky. Comcast's current offer is £14.75 per share, valuing Sky at £26 billion ($34 billion), while Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox bid is £14 a share.
Or, both companies could bid in an auction. "The market is betting on a bidding war," Nichols said. The shares for Sky have traded much higher than that of either offer, indicating that the market predicts a competitive bidding process that drives the purchase price higher.
Both analysts said they expect Comcast to win in an auction scenario.
"Comcast is overall positioned better to win," DeGroote said. "It has saved its firepower for this Sky auction, it has more balance sheet headroom and it can derive material operating synergies in a combination."
A final outcome is that shareholders could reject any offer on the table. They have until October 6 to do so. If they reject the offers any future offers would have to be on hold for a period of six months.
The battle for Sky is linked to an earlier fight between Disney and Comcast for some 21st Century Fox assets. In July, Comcast dropped out of that bidding, allowing Disney to win Murdoch's entertainment assets plus the 39% of Sky Fox already owned. If Fox wins out in an auction, it will control Sky. If Comcast wins, it will own the 61% not owned by Fox.
Sky is an attractive asset to both Comcast and Disney as they work to expand their international footprints. The British pay-TV business serves 23 million customers, mostly direct-broadcast-satellite subscribers, in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland.
And it has a strong content portfolio with exclusive rights through 2020 to run HBO shows— like Game of Thrones and Westworld — across Europe, and has the majority of Premier League football TV rights and exclusive rights to the German Bundesliga.
Australia's biggest supermarket chain has stopped selling sewing needles as part of a response to a growing trend of people hiding them in strawberries and other fruit.
Two people have gone to hospital after accidentally eating one of the needles. One person — a child — has been arrested after reportedly admitting to putting needles in strawberries.
On Wednesday, an Australian government minister said that at least 100 reports have been received of needles in fruit. Some of the reports may be false alarms.
Cases have since been reported in many parts of the country, according to this map compiled by News.com.au.
On Thursday, lawmakers in Australia passed new legislation increasing the jail term for those convicted of hiding needles in fruit to 15 years.
You can read the full ammendment to the Criminal Code Act 1995 here.
On Wednesday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called said that anybody who hides a needle in a strawberry is "a coward and a grub."
"It's not a joke. It's not funny," he told reporters. "You are putting the livelihoods of hardworking Australians at risk, and you are scaring children."
He added: "And if you do that sort of thing in this country, we will come after you, and we will throw the book at you."
The governments of Western Australia, New South Wales, and Queensland are all offering a reward of 100,000 Australian dollars ($72,000) for information.
Police said on Wednesday that they had arrested one person in connection with the phenomenon.
According to News.com.au, Stuart Smith, a senior officer in the New South Wales police force, said: "In the last two days we found a young person has admitted to a prank, including putting needles in strawberries, and he'll be dealt with under the youth cautioning system."
James Comey said that Special Counsel Robert Mueller may be nearing the end of his investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia.
The former FBI director gave an interview to St. Louis Public Radio on Wednesday in which he gave an assessment of the progress made by Mueller, his immediate predecessor at the FBI.
Comey said the fact that Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign chairman, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and agreed to cooperate with Mueller suggests that Mueller may be almost done.
Comey said on Wednesday:
"I think there's an argument to be made that the conviction — the plea and cooperation by Paul Manafort — may represent that we're in the fourth quarter.
"Because the way you normally do investigations is you work from the bottom up, and so they're getting pretty high."
He added, however, that he "can't say with certainty" where Mueller is at, because the investigation has largely been conducted under wraps.
"The reason I'm hesitant to even say that is [because] Bob Mueller's conducted his investigation like a pro," Comey said. "You know nothing about it except through his public filings, and that's the way it's supposed to be. So I can't say with certainty where he is."
Listen to Comey discuss this around the 8:00 mark in the clip below:
Mueller's investigation started in May 2017 shortly after Trump fired Comey as FBI director. It has so far lasted 16 months.
Manafort last week pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice and one count of conspiracy against the US last week in a case that centered on his political consulting work from 2006 to 2015 for pro-Russian interests.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, however, claimed that Manafort's case "had absolutely nothing to do with the president or his victorious 2016 presidential campaign."
"The perfect storm of cooperators"
Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, is also cooperating with a Manhattan US attorney's office investigation into his and the president's dealings leading up to the election.
He pleaded guilty last month to five counts of tax evasion, one count of bank fraud, and two counts related to campaign-finance violations.
Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization's longtime chief financial officer, was granted immunity by federal prosecutors last month so he could share information about Cohen and Trump.
One former federal prosecutor said federal investigators now have "the perfect storm of cooperators."
NOW WATCH: Inside the Trump 'MAGA' hat factory
Hackers have stolen 6.7 billion yen ($60 million) in Bitcoin and two other cryptocurrencies from the Japanese digital exchange, Zaif, owned by startup Tech Bureau Corp, the company said on Thursday.
In a statement following the hack, Tech Bureau said that its Zaif exchange was hacked in a window of over two hours on September 14. They detected server problems on September 17, confirmed the hack and sounded the alarm to authorities the following day, Reuters reported.
Tech Bureau Corp said the perpetrators gained access to its 'hot wallet' where the digital coins are stored. The platform has been taken offline, but it said efforts were underway to get it working again.
Japan has been a leader in cryptocurrencies and has set up a system of licensing digital exchanges with the government to regulate the market and protect consumers. The system is designed to make Japan a world leader in the financial technology.
Bitcoin has been legal tender in Japan since April 2017, and some retailers in the country already accept the digital payments, The Washington Post reported. But Thursday’s hack and others before it show the technology is still having teething problems.
The digital exchange, Coincheck, which is based in Tokyo, reported that 58 billion yen ($547 million) in cryptocurrencies disappeared earlier in the year, in what was suspected to be another theft by hackers.
Coincheck had been applying for a government licence since 2012, but still didn’t have at the time it was hacked, sparking debate in the industry. Zaif was registered by the government last year.
On Thursday, after the hack, the company said it had accepted a 5 billion yen ($45 million) offer of investment from Tokyo based company Fisco, for a majority stake in Tech Bureau.
Bitcoin and Manacoin were among the cryptocurrencies taken in the September 14 breach. 2.2 billion yen ($20 million) of the stolen currency belonged to the company and the rest were owned by customers, Tech Corp said.
But there's another attribute that makes the 9-1/2-year bull run truly unique compared to history: its deflationary nature.
If you're unfamiliar with the concept of deflation, it refers to the general decline in prices for goods and services. As it relates to the market, Bank of America Merrill Lynch points out that as stocks have soared to record highs, brokerage commissions have slipped from $80 billion to $30 billion since 2000.
"It's been the most deflationary bull market of all time,"Michael Hartnett, BAML's chief investment strategist, wrote in a recent client note.
This dynamic can be seen in the chart below, which shows the extreme degree to which deflationary assets have outperformed their inflationary counterparts over the past decade or so.
For context, the deflation group includes government bonds, US investment-grade bonds, the S&P 500, US consumer discretionary equities, growth stocks, and US high-yield credit.
Meanwhile, the inflation group contains commodities, Treasury inflation protected securities (TIPS), developed market stocks (ex-US and Canada), US banks, value stocks, and cash.
But why? How did the longest bull market on record end up carrying such an unflattering distinction?
BAML attributes it to what it calls the three Ds: technological Disruption, aging Demographics, and excess Debt.
To make matters even more dire, BAML argues the bull market as we know it is essentially over. As Hartnett puts it, "end of excess liquidity = end of excess returns." And since monetary tightening from global central banks is widely expected to drain liquidity, returns won't be far behind.
Harnett also highlights the fact that if you remove US tech from the equation, global stocks are actually down 7% this year. That's hardly the sign of a thriving bull market.
In the likely case that the inevitable crash in global asset prices also ushers in a full-blown economic recession — as it frequently has in the past — BAML offers what it calls a "perverse" trading suggestion.
It says traders should buy the inflationary assets that have been so righteously shunned during the bull market. That specifically means commodities, developed-market stocks outside of the US and Canada, bank stocks, and value equities.
With those recommendations in mind, you should be at least somewhat well-equipped to battle any coming recession. And even if you end up feeling pressure, following these types of trade suggestions should at least spare you the maximum level of pain.
Three football players have been photographed dressed in blackface as tennis champions Serena Williams and Venus Williams.
The athletes play for the Australian Rules Football team Penguin Football Club, a sports team based in Tasmania, according to The Washington Post.
They wore outfits and makeup to dress up as the Williams sisters and Kenyan-born football player Aliir Aliir as part of "Mad Monday"— an end-of-season celebration.
A photo of the "costumes" was posted on social media and, though it has been removed from Facebook, it has been shared by a number of Twitter users.
Some Australians still have no clue what is considered racist. This Mad Monday "costume" is clearly racist. And I'm a person who is fed up with today's over-the-top political correctness. pic.twitter.com/oWPR0WjeUx— Francis Gonzalez (@fgonzalez_) September 19, 2018
Penguin Football Club has since issued a grovelling apology.
"It was not their intention to upset anyone and all they meant to do was dress as one of their sporting idols," the club said, according to Australian ABC News.
"Their actions were never intended to be racist in any way. Those concerned have been reprimanded and will be given support to make sure they understand that their behaviour was racist and hurtful and that it will not happen again.
The club went on: "The players concerned have acknowledged that what they did was completely and utterly unacceptable and would like to apologise unreservedly for their lack of judgement."
The incident follows the controversy over Australian newspaper The Herald Sun's mean-spirited crusade against Serena Williams following the American's outburst at the 2018 US Open final.
The Herald Sun published a vulgar cartoon which grossly exaggerated her weight, lips, and nose and depicted her as an angry baby. The paper has also attempted to discredit her character by calling her "no feminist hero" and a "fraud."
The newspaper's editor defended the cartoon, and the artist himself countered global condemnation by claiming "the world has just gone crazy."
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Facebook's occasional outages are a headache for its billions of users, but there's an unexpected upside for the media industry: When the social network crashes, traffic to news sites spikes.
That's according to data from Chartbeat, an analytics firm that measures web traffic and referrals for media companies' websites and other businesses. It found that when Facebook briefly stopped working on August 3, 2018, overall traffic to news sites jumped 2.3%, and users surged to apps and search.
The data demonstrates that even though Facebook contributes vast amounts of traffic and referrals to the media industry, it is at least on one level competing with media for people's time and attention — and when it's temporarily out of the picture, traditional journalism gets a boost.
"One of the fascinating things for me in the data ... was to see what extent Facebook can actually be thought of as a competitor to news. Both things are competing for people's time," Chris Breaux, the director of data science at Chartbeat, told Business Insider in an interview.
The data was originally presented at a conference by Josh Schwartz, Chartbeat's chief of product, engineering, and data science.
With Facebook down, referrals to news sites from social sources fell as one might expect, but surges elsewhere more than made up for it. There was an increase in app usage of 22%, while direct visits soared 11%. Search, too, was up 8% — resulting in an overall increase in 2.3% across all sites.
Hang Su, a data scientist at Chartbeat, cautioned that the data doesn't necessarily reflect how traffic to news sites might look in a world without Facebook, given the abnormal nature of the 45-minute event. "It's hard to tell what the trend would really be," she said. "I'm not sure this should be very indicative of ... if Facebook were to decline, so I would take this with a handful of salt."
Over the past few years, vast swathes of the media industry has become highly reliant on Facebook as a source of traffic, obsessing over its every algorithm tweak. But facing sustained outrage over fake news and disinformation, the social network has refocused on personal connections.
Since January 2017 the amount of traffic Facebook has referred to sites that use Chartbeat is down nearly 40%, even as alternative sources of traffic like Google Search and direct mobile traffic soar.
While the 45-minute outage is just a snapshot, it hints at how news outlets needn't be reliant for Facebook for their traffic — and may be able to do just fine without it. And for users, it shows just how much attention and focus Facebook takes away from other spots on the internet.
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A street artist said he put Donald Trump's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame behind bars because of "calls to jail Trump since the day he was elected."
Street artist Plastic Jesus said he affixed the bars on Wednesday using instant-drying "industrial-strength double-sided sticky tape," according to HuffPost. He claimed his protest-art was "intended to be humorous."
"I wanted them to stay down but didn’t want a bill for thousands of dollars to repair the footpath," Plastic Jesus said in an email to HuffPost.
He also noted that a Trump supporter failed to remove the bars, "to the amusement of ... passing tourists.
Plastic Jesus's protest art previously rose to viral fame when the artist constructed a miniaturized wall around Trump's star in August.
Trump's star has been vandalized numerous times since he was elected. In July, a man carrying a pickax in a guitar case pulverized the star.
Donald Trump’s star completely destroyed along the Hollywood walk of fame. pic.twitter.com/b1bpLhmG2X— Ryan Parker (@TheRyanParker) July 25, 2018
In 2015, virtual assistants were the Next Big Thing.
Every major tech company had one, from Apple's Siri to Amazon's Alexa and Google Now, which would later become the more fully fledged Google Assistant. Facebook entered the space in August that year with the announcement of M— a chatbot that lived inside its Messenger app, and which users could ask for just about anything, from hiking recommendations to help buying flowers.
But while the likes of Alexa and Google Assistant have exploded over the last few years, finding their way into everything from fridges to cars, M — in its original incarnation — was never widely rolled out to Facebook's users.
Instead, it morphed into M Suggestions, an AI enhancement that hovers inside users' Messenger chats with their friends and offers contextual suggestions based on their conversations — from making payments to initiating video calls. These recommendations have historically been relatively incremental — send a funny GIF! Attach a sticker! — but Facebook is now leaning hard into translations in Messenger, and using M Suggestions as the engine to do so.
It's by far the most significant application of the technology behind M Suggestions to date — one that has the potential to radically reshape how hundreds of millions of people communicate in real-time on Facebook. Business Insider spoke to some of the team at Facebook working on the project, to learn more about the tech underpinning the ambitious project and their vision for its future.
"At Facebook we have a lot of different cultures and a lot of diversity in our team ... we are all speaking different languages, and we know how frustrating it can be not to be able to communicate ... in your own languages," said Laurent Landowski, a Facebook product manager. "So being able to also really provide M Suggestions for translation to the world is something that we're super proud of."
M is an AI assistant that lives inside other conversations
Every time you send a message to a friend via Messenger — assuming it's not an encrypted "Secret Message"— it's being scanned by Facebook.
That doesn't mean an actual Facebook employee is reading it, of course. Instead, Facebook's automated systems are parsing the message, trying to understand the intent of the message. This effort is partly underpinned by the tech Facebook acquired when it bought natural language startup Wit.AI back in 2015; cofounder Landowski is now the product manager of M Suggestions at Facebook.
If one of Facebook's AI neural net models identifies the message between you and your friend as something it can add context to, M Suggestions will automatically spring into action. If you mention a song, it might prompt you to play it on Spotify; if you're discussing multiple potential activities in a group, it might suggest creating a poll.
And it learns over time what different people utilize it for, and caters its responses accordingly; the version of M that a GIF-addict sees will be very different to what appears for someone who is more restrained in their messaging.
When it comes to quick replies — suggested responses M offers users in conversations to save them time — it even uses users' conversation histories as a training data to teach the AI how they speak, making the responses ("yes" versus "yeah" or "yep" or "yah") sound authentically like their voice.
Its unique positioning — inside users' existing conversations with other people, rather than dedicated human-to-AI chat windows — means it risks being invasive or jarring. As such, Facebook has moved slowly adding suggestions to M, Landowski said. "We have been working on trying to improve and really focus on the delight and relevance as opposed to the number of suggestions we could be suggesting."
He added: "It is super easy to lose user trust."
Translations aren't easy — but the pay-off is huge
M Suggestions has thus far offered fun enrichments to conversations, but it's hardly transformative. Where that changes is translations.
Facebook has provided language translations on its core social network for years, first via traditional phrase-based translation techniques before migrating to a more advanced AI-powered neural net translation system in August 2017.
However, users who wanted to be able to talk across language barriers in real time were out of luck until earlier this year, when Facebook launched the first Spanish-English translations in Messenger, underpinned by M Translations. The company followed it up with the announcement this week that it was adding French.
While Facebook positions Messenger at least in part as a way to stay in contact with the people users are closest to, translations opens it up to assisting people who may never have interacted before — like in Marketplace, Facebook's peer-to-peer sales platform.
"You see more and more ways where translations can be applied, not only in your personal messaging but also like in the Marketplace, buyer-and-seller-type of messaging, that can unlock a lot of further opportunities for use," said Landowski, a native French speaker from Paris.
But translation isn't easy. Languages are always changing and shifting, evolving as slang becomes common parlance, and the problem is especially acute on an informal, real-time platform like Messenger. Facebook's language team has an "active taskforce working to adapt its models to the type of data that Messenger provides, said Necip Fazil Ayan, head of Facebook's language and translation technologies team.
"This is one of the hardest problems we have to deal with while working on translations at Facebook, and it's not a solved problem, making our systems more robust to informal language including slang," he said.
"It's a dynamic language right, and people keep inventing stuff ... my best example instead of just saying 'happy birthday,' [they] start introducing lots of P's or Y's or I's all over the place."
Facebook's unprecedented digital archives of billions of users' public and private conversations means it has a vast dataset with which to train its AI — but some languages have more material available than others. "One of the biggest challenges we're dealing with, both in terms of language understanding and translation perspective, is the set of what we call 'low resource languages.' As you can imagine, all the machine learning models require a lot of data to become accurate ... and we don't have that luxury for a lot of the languages we are dealing with," Ayan said.
And then there's the issue of bias. AI systems are only as good as the data they are trained on, and when there are human biases built into the data, it can creep into the results. "Our data is biased ... we are actively working on this at Facebook ... in machine learning this is a very hot area and it's a very difficult area, and it's going to take a while cleaning up the data from that type of bias or learning where the bias is."
But for all the challenges, automated real-time translations offer Facebook a way to have a have a fairly profound effect on the way people around the world communicate. "I really don't want language to become a barrier when people are expressing their opinions or when people are trying to reach other people to get different perspectives," said Ayan, a native Turkish speaker who grew up in the country.
"So that's the dream, we are going to break down the language barriers and that's my personal mission here."
'It's hard from an AI perspective to be able to create a fully automated assistant that can do everything'
Facebook now describes the original version of M as an experiment, one that provided valuable insight into the kind of things users utilise chatbots for but was never intended as a competitor to Siri et al, and never scaled beyond 2,000-odd users in the Bay Area. (In contrast, more than 100 million people interact with M Suggestions a month as of November 2017, a spokesperson said.)
"It's hard from an AI perspective to be able to create a fully automated assistant that can do everything,"Landowski said, "We basically realized that people, especially in Messenger, they really want to focus on the communication [assistance that M offered] ... it was really about trying to be where they are, which is their actual conversations. Instead of talking to an assistant directly it was all about focusing on the communications."
But there have been rumours circulating for months about Facebook building a smart speaker in the vein of the Amazon Echo of Google Home, with a voice-controlled AI assistant built in.
It was a no-show at Facebook's annual F8 conference in May 2018, but speculation was bolstered after a reverse engineer found references hidden in Facebook's code for an "Aloha" voice feature.
"We're exploring everything," Landowski said when asked about whether Facebook was currently looking at speech recognition.
"Speech is also an interesting way to actually interact with an assistant. We cannot comment more on exactly what we do and what we test, but definitely we are working and trying to improve this."
Contact this reporter via Signal or WhatsApp at +1 (650) 636-6268 using a non-work phone, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, WeChat at robaeprice, or Twitter DM at @robaeprice. (PR pitches by email only, please.) You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.
Instagram's new TV service recommended a crop of graphic and disturbing videos, including what appeared to be child exploitation and genital mutilation.
That's the finding of a Business Insider investigation into IGTV, which launched in June as Instagram attempts to muscle in on rivals like YouTube and Snapchat.
BI spent nearly three weeks monitoring the Facebook-owned video service, during which time IGTV's algorithm recommended questionable content, including sexually suggestive footage of young girls and an explicit video of a mutilated penis.
Two of the videos discovered by BI were reported to the police by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), a British children's charity, and were eventually removed by Instagram five days after BI reported them through the app's official reporting channel.
Instagram apologised to users who saw the videos and said it wants to make IGTV a safe space for young people.
The findings come at a time when Facebook is under extraordinary scrutiny over inappropriate content on its platforms. Facebook and Instagram share a community operations team, and Mark Zuckerberg's company has hired an army of 7,500 moderators and is using AI to snuff out posts that break its guidelines.
Earlier this year, former Facebook moderator Sarah Katz told Business Insider that she had to review 8,000 posts a day and it made her numb to child abuse. But despite the intense oversight, and resources Facebook is ploughing into policing its platforms, disturbing content appears to be slipping the net — and, as in the case of IGTV, even being suggested to users.
IGTV's content recommendation machine
Instagram launched IGTV in June, and was viewed by many as Facebook moving in on YouTube's territory. It allows users to set up their own channels and upload video of up to an hour in length. Anyone with an Instagram account can make a channel, and users swipe through them much like flicking through channels on a television.
IGTV recommends content in three ways: A "For You" tab, which plays videos as soon as you open IGTV; a "Popular" section; and a "Following" menu, which offers videos from people you follow.
Instagram did not answer Business Insider's questions on how IGTV's algorithm recommends certain videos and why videos were suggested that appeared to be child exploitation. But it appears that the For You section recommends things users will like, possibly based on past activity. The Popular tab seems to gather trending content from across IGTV.
Users can scroll through the recommended videos by swiping left, or IGTV will automatically play the next video. It is clearly designed to encourage scrolling and continued viewing, in much the same way that the YouTube algorithm recommends content through its Up Next bar.
Disturbing videos of young girls
Business Insider monitored the For You and Popular tabs for almost three weeks to establish what kinds of content IGTV's algorithm was serving up for users.
We did so in two ways: Firstly through the account of this author and other BI journalists, and secondly an anonymous login set up as a child's account. This second account had no activity history on Instagram and a user age set to 13, which is the earliest people can officially sign up on the app.
Within days of monitoring IGTV through Business Insider accounts, a video appeared in the For You section, titled "Hot Girl Follow Me." It showed a young girl, we speculate to have been 11 or 12, in a bathroom. She glanced around her before going to take her top off. Just as she's about to remove her clothing, the video ends.
The video, uploaded by a user Business Insider is not naming for legal reasons, also appeared under the Popular tab on IGTV. It was also one of the first videos recommended under the For You section to the child account set up by BI, which had no prior history of activity on Instagram.
The same user that uploaded the "Hot Girl Follow Me" video posted another video, titled "Patli Kamar follow me guys plzz," which was also recommended to our child Instagram account under the For You section. It featured another clearly underage girl, exposing her belly and pouting for the camera.
The same two videos were separately uploaded by a different user, who again Business Insider has chosen not to identify. The video named "Hot Girl Follow Me" was called "Follow me guys" by this second user, and was also circulating on IGTV's suggested posts.
Comments on the videos show they were being recommended to other IGTV users. They were also being interpreted by other users as sexually suggestive.
Some condemned the videos and questioned why they had been suggested. "BRO SHE'S LIKE FUCKING 10 WHY THE FUCK IS THIS IN MY INSTAGRAM RECOMMENDED," said one user, commenting on the "Hot Girl Follow Me" video.
Others were more predatory in tone. "Superb," one user commented on the "Patli Kamar follow me guys plzz" video. "Sexy grl," another added.
The NSPCC, which is frequently involved in law enforcement activities around child abuse, reviewed the videos and reported them to the police. It was concerned that they could constitute illegal indecent images under UK law because they appeared to feature footage of erotic posing.
"This is yet another example of Instagram falling short by failing to remove content that breaches its own guidelines," an NSPCC spokeswoman said.
Business Insider reported the videos through Instagram's official reporting function. Because there was no obvious criteria for alerting the company to potential child exploitation, they were logged as "nudity or pornography."
The videos remained online for five days. It was only after Business Insider contacted Instagram's press office that the content was removed. By this time, the two videos — and other versions uploaded by the second user — had racked up more than 1 million views.
Instagram left the accounts that posted the videos active, however. Business Insider asked why the accounts were left up, as Instagram has a "zero tolerance policy" on child abuse. Instagram said the policy applies to the content itself and not to the account that uploads it.
"Instagram’s zero tolerance policy towards child abuse content is the right one, and it must make sure its policy is enforced in practice," an NSPCC spokeswoman said. "Where Instagram has removed child abuse content from an account, we would expect that account to be reviewed by a moderator to establish whether the account should also be suspended."
As of this week, the two accounts remain active. They continue to post sexually suggestive content, but not of the same nature as the "Hot Girl Follow Me" and "Patli Kamar follow me guys plzz" videos.
A graphic video of genital mutilation
Potential child exploitation is not the only questionable content being recommended by IGTV's algorithm.
One of the first videos recommended to Business Insider's anonymous account, registered to a user aged 13, was graphic footage of a penis undergoing an operation involving a motorized saw.
The penis appeared to have a metal lug nut affixed around its middle, above which it was extremely swollen and dark red in colour. The bolt was being removed with a round electric saw by what appeared to be a medic.
It was quickly wiped from IGTV after being reported by Business Insider as nudity, although the account that uploaded it remained live.
Another recommended video showed a baby lying on the floor, wailing inconsolably, with a monkey standing over and touching it. Adults were stood around in a circle, shouting and filming the scene on their phones while the monkey occasionally lashed out at them.
Instagram found that the video was not in breach of guidelines, but discovered the account that uploaded it was linked to a different account that had previously been taken down for breaching community guidelines. For this reason, Instagram took the account down.
There was a multitude of other questionable recommendations being pushed by IGTV's algorithm. Examples included a video in which a group of men deceived a sex worker into thinking she was going to be arrested, a video of a woman pulling something long and bloody out of her nose, and various sexually suggestive scenes.
Business Insider presented its investigation to MP Damian Collins, the British lawmaker who is leading an inquiry into fake news and Facebook's data breach involving Cambridge Analytica. He described the findings as "very disturbing," and said big tech companies need to sink more investment into enforcing their own rules.
"It's a question of the responsibility of the companies to monitor the content that's on their platforms. A lot of the problematic content is already in breach of the community guidelines of these services, but what it shows is that there's not effective enforcement," he said.
An Instagram spokeswoman said: "We care deeply about keeping all of Instagram — including IGTV — a safe place for young people to get closer to the people and interests they care about.
"We have Community Guidelines in place to protect everyone using Instagram and have zero tolerance for anyone sharing explicit images or images of child abuse. We have removed the videos reported to us and apologise to anyone who may have seen them.
"We take measures to proactively monitor potential violations of our Community Guidelines and just like on the rest of Instagram, we encourage our community to report content that concerns them. We have a trained team of reviewers who work 24/7 to remove anything which violates our terms."
"It's not so different from where YouTube was 10 years ago"
It's no secret that social media has a problem with disturbing and illegal material, and tech giants like Facebook have come under fire recently for failing to effectively moderate content at scale. For IGTV, however, the problem isn't just that this material exists, but rather it's being actively suggested by the algorithm.
Mike Henry, CEO of video analytics firm OpenSlate, which works with Facebook, said IGTV is still a young service. "While Instagram is relatively mature, IGTV is a brand new social video platform and will need time to develop its policies and technology. It’s not so different from where YouTube was 10 years ago," he said.
YouTube's child safety policy is broader than Instagram's, for example. Instagram's report function is limited to child nudity, while YouTube's endangerment policy bans "sexualization of minors," which allows scope for reporting images users suspect might be child exploitation.
Henry also said Instagram will have to figure out how to better filter its new platform if it hopes to monetize it, especially considering IGTV was touted as a space for influencers.
"Influencers make great video producers with compelling economics and, at scale, a viable canvas for video ad dollars. With the right policies and infrastructure, IGTV has the potential to become a major player," he said.
For Collins, IGTV's early missteps are evidence that governments need to do more to regulate tech firms.
"These companies are ad services, they make money out of understanding every single thing you could ever want to know about your users so you can target them with advertising. That same technology should surely very easily be able to root out harmful content as well," he said.
"They don't do it because there’s not been a commercial incentive for them to do it, so they’ve just not bothered. But what we have to do through regulation is create that incentive, to say 'you’ve actually got an obligation to do it and if you don’t do it then there will be costs for you for not complying, so you need to invest in doing this now.'"
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An undisclosed number of Google workers considered ways to use the company's powerful search engine to assist in a protest against the travel ban implemented by the Trump administration in January 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday evening.
The Journal said it reviewed emails that show Google employees proposed several ways to "leverage" the company's search engine to direct users to pro-immigration organizations and contact government agencies, especially when searching for terms like "Islam" or "Muslim."
Those Google workers involved considered the existing search results for some of those terms to be “Islamophobic," according to the report. Late on Thursday evening, Google sent a response to the Journal's story to Business Insider.
"These emails were just a brainstorm of ideas, none of which were ever implemented," a Google representative wrote in a statement. "Google has never manipulated its search results or modified any of its products to promote a particular political ideology -- not in the current campaign season, not during the 2016 election, and not in the aftermath of President Trump’s executive order on immigration. Our processes and policies would not have allowed for any manipulation of search results to promote political ideologies.”
The report is likely to draw even more scrutiny into whether Google uses its influential platforms to sway public opinion. The Trump administration has accused the company of using those platforms to silence politically conservative voices, as well as make him look bad.
The news also comes after Google declined to send CEO Sundar Pichai or Chairman Larry Page to testify earlier this month before a congressional committee in which Facebook and Twitter both sent top decision-makers.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.
Good morning! This is the tech news you need to know this Friday.
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Good morning! Here's what you need to know in markets on Friday.
1. Asian stocks extended gains on Friday after Wall Street's S&P 500 set a new all-time high, while the dollar slipped as investors viewed Beijing's and Washington's fresh exchange of import tariffs as less harmful than initially feared. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.2% in early trade, extending the recovery from its 14-month low hit on September 12 to 3.6%
2. Uber is in early talks to buy Deliveroo, a fast-growing food delivery-startup based in London, according to Bloomberg. Deliveroo is one of Europe's biggest startup success stories: Founded in 2013 by Americans Will Shu and Greg Orlowski, Deliveroo enlists contract employees as couriers, who deliver food from local restaurants in some 200 cities all over the UK, the European Union, Asia, and Australia.
3. Walmart has issued a warning in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer that it may have to raise prices due to tariffs on Chinese imports, CNN Money reported. "The immediate impact will be to raise prices on consumers and tax American business and manufacturers," Walmart said, according to the CNN Money report.
4. Tesla's vice president of global supply management, Liam O'Connor, has resigned, Bloomberg reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. The departure of O'Connor, who joined Tesla in March 2015 from Apple, follows the exit of a string of senior executives, including Chief Accounting Officer Dave Morton and Chief People Officer Gabrielle Toledano.
5. Hong Kong's first bullet train glides out of a sleek harborfront railway station bound for mainland China on Saturday, launching a new era of integration and raising fears for some for the territory's cherished freedoms.Unlike other cross-border connections, the $11 billion train project has stoked considerable controversy, with Hong Kong, a former British colony, having had to concede part of its jurisdiction to China for the first time.
6. AT&T on Thursday asked a federal appeals court to reject the Justice Department's challenge to its acquisition of Time Warner, saying the government had offered no basis for second guessing key conclusions of a ruling upholding the transaction. The government is appealing U.S. Judge Richard Leon's ruling in June that AT&T's $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner could proceed. The government had said it would lead to higher prices for consumers and was illegal under antitrust law.
7. The UK government is working on plans to set up an internet regulator, Buzzfeed News reported on Thursday. The regulator would, if established, hold technology companies accountable for content published on their websites and sanction sites if they failed to take down illegal material and hate speech within hours, the report said.
8. Britain is significantly increasing its ability to wage war in cyberspace with the creation of a new offensive cyber force of up to 2,000 personnel, Sky News reported on Thursday. The new force which is expected to be announced soon would represent a near four-fold increase in manpower focused on offensive cyber operations, Sky said.
9. Facebook said on Thursday that it would no longer dispatch employees to the offices of political campaigns to offer support ahead of elections, as it did with U.S. President Donald Trump in the 2016 race. The company and other major online ad sellers including Google and Twitter have long offered free dedicated assistance to strengthen relationships with top advertisers such as presidential campaigns.
10. Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang died on Friday, state television and radio announced. Quang, 61, died in hospital on Friday morning from a "serious illness despite efforts by domestic and international doctors and professors," Vietnam Television reported.
The British entity tasked with dealing with serious and organised crimes has launched a probe into a mystery UK firm that is potentially linked to the massive money laundering scandal which this week forced the resignation of Danske Bank's CEO.
It was reported overnight that the National Crime Agency has launched a criminal investigation into a UK entity which is believed to have links with the Estonian branch of Denmark's biggest bank, which is at the centre of the scandal that could potential have involved $235 billion of cash flows.
Investigations centre on a "UK-registered limited liability partnership, or LLP,"according to a report from the Financial Times, which cites people familiar with the investigation. The entity in question has not been named.
"The NCA is aware of the use of UK registered companies in this case and has related ongoing operational activity," the National Crime Agency said in a statement provided to the FT.
"The threat posed by the use of UK company structures as a route for money laundering is widely recognised and the NCA is working with partners across government to restrict the ability of criminals to use them in this way," it added, declining to comment further.
The investigation into suspicious transactions at Danske Bank's Estonian branch centers on so-called nonresident transactions — effectively transactions done by people not based in Estonia but using the bank's facilities there.
It said it had identified about 10,000 customers who fit the profile of nonresidents, with 6,200 of those fitting what the bank called "the most risk indicators." Of these customers, Danske Bank said, the "vast majority have been found to be suspicious."
It did, however, emphasize that just because a customer had "been found to have suspicious characteristics does not mean that there is a basis for considering all payments in which the customer in question was involved to be suspicious."
As well as the initial 10,000 customers, a further 5,000 customers with nonresident characteristics have also been identified.
In total, Danske Bank says, these 15,000 customers undertook about 9.5 million payments, with the total value of the money flowing about 200 billion euros, or $234 billion.
Analysts believe that the scandal could end up costing Danske Bank as much as $8 billion in fines, if it is found to have committed any wrongdoing
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Deutsche Bank's former head of mergers and acquisitions in America presented a plan to break up the German lender to the bank's chief financial officer earlier this year, according to reports.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Charlie Dupree, who left Deutsche Bank for JPMorgan in June, presented his proposals to Deutsche Bank CFO James von Moltke in April. Dupree said Deutsche Bank should spin-out its investment bank and consider a merger for the rest of its operations to combat its persistent underperformance.
Deutsche Bank declined to comment when contacted by Business Insider.
Speculation around a possible merger between Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, its German rival, has swirled for years in the market but neither side has commented on any potential deal. Bloomberg reported in June that Deutsche Bank's board spoke to shareholders and the government privately about a potential deal.
Von Moltke listened to Dupree's proposals but did not show them to any other members of the executive team, according to WSJ. He is said to have found the plans "well-intended but superficial."
The presentation came around the same time that Deutsche Bank's executive team rejected a similar proposal from shareholders to spin off the investment bank from the retail business.
Deutsche Bank continues grappling with legacy issues that have left it suffering years of share price underperformance and high funding costs. John Cryan was ousted as CEO by the board in April due to his slow progress in turning things around at the bank. The bank's US operations have also been deemed "troubled" by regulators.
Barclays said in a bearish note about Deutsche Bank in May that it believes the bank will struggle to cut costs, is likely to lose market share as it shrinks its US business, and could face a credit downgrade.
LONDON — Theresa May is in the midst of a serious crisis for her leadership after European leaders roundly demolished the Chequers plan she had spent the entire summer selling as the only credible plan for Brexit.
Donald Tusk, European Council President, on Thursday said May's idea that the UK could stay in the single market for goods after Brexit "will not work," and had been rejected by leaders of all 27 EU member states.
He later openly mocked her on Instagram, with a satirical post referring to the EU's rejection of her plans to "cherry pick" parts of the European single market. He was joined by French president Emmanuel Macron, who dismissed the entire Brexit project as being pursued by "liars".
It was a humiliating day for May, who had travelled to Salzburg, Austria quietly confident of receiving encouraging feedback on her Chequers proposals, after recent reports suggested Brussels was ready to soften its Brexit position.
However, what she received from her European counterparts was even more brutal than even the most pessimistic observers had expected, as reflected in this morning's front pages:
Brutal set of front pages for the PM pic.twitter.com/odPXe4ruA9— Dan Bloom (@danbloom1) September 20, 2018
And it's not just the British press who are circling around May.
MPs from all sides of the Brexit divide are ganging up on the embattled prime minister and her corpse Brexit plan.
Cabinet ministers Sajid Javid, Andrea Leadsom, Penny Mordaunt, and Esther McVey all reportedly want May to forget Chequers and focus on a Canada-style free trade deal, while former minister Philip Lee last night called for the Article 50 negotiation process to be extended. His Remain-supporting Conservative colleague Anna Soubry compared May's Brexit plan to a dead parrot, while Iain Duncan Smith, a leading pro-Brexit MP, said that Chequers "clearly isn't going to fly." Meanwhile, Sir Keir Starmer, Labour's Brexit spokesperson, urged May to ditch her "her reckless red lines."
So where did it all go wrong?
It's no surprise that the EU rejected May's Chequers plan. Michel Barnier, the bloc's chief Brexit negotiator, said on numerous occasions this summer that its core proposals — the UK effectively stays in the single market for goods and collects EU tariffs on Brussel's behalf — were never going to be accepted.
A senior EU source told Business Insider as early as June that May's suggestions would not fly.
But 10 Downing Street was braced for a polite "not quite," accompanied by a "but we can make it work." It was not prepared for such a bruising slap down. It certainly was not prepared for French leader Macron to describe Brexit-supporting politicians as "liars" in a pretty extraordinary press conference.
WATCH: French President @EmmanuelMacron makes clear that "those who say that we can easily be without Europe, that everything is going to be fine, that it’s easy and will bring us lots of money are liars"#PeoplesVotepic.twitter.com/7j4vOoANs6— People's Vote UK (@peoplesvote_uk) September 20, 2018
Clearly, May's advisors — who she relies upon heavily for intelligence and guidance — had misread the mood.
Plus, according to multiple reports, May really did not help her cause when she sat down for dinner with European leaders.
May reportedly decided to read out an opinion piece she wrote for German newspaper Die Welt this week, in which she described the EU's Brexit proposals as unacceptable and not credible. That didn't go down well.
"She began to read out the article,” a diplomat told The Times. "The article they had all already read. That is not the way to command a tired group of leaders who are all a bit sick of each other."
The prime minister also opted to flat out reject the EU's updated proposals on how to deal with the thorny issue of the Irish border, which also didn't go down well with leaders around the table.
May also reportedly hadn't been helped by a BI story on Thursday that revealed Liam Fox, her trade secretary, was quietly plotting to use controversial government powers to scrap EU food standards in preparation for a trade deal with the US.
Macron and other European leaders raised the article over the dinner, according to The Times and other reports.
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