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-0.62 (-1.57%)
At close: 4:03PM EDT
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Previous Close39.61
Open39.69
Bid38.95 x 3100
Ask38.98 x 1200
Day's Range38.27 - 39.91
52 Week Range26.26 - 45.86
Volume12,257,322
Avg. Volume12,504,584
Market Cap30.14B
Beta (3Y Monthly)0.23
PE Ratio (TTM)12.88
EPS (TTM)3.03
Earnings DateOct 24, 2019
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1y Target Est42.07
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  • Johnson Says He Won’t Negotiate a Delay With EU Over Brexit
    Bloomberg

    Johnson Says He Won’t Negotiate a Delay With EU Over Brexit

    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans were again thrown into chaos after the U.K. parliament voted to take more time to scrutinize the deal the prime minister struck with the European Union this week, forcing him to seek the delay he vowed he never would.Without Parliament’s sign-off, Johnson is required by law to send a letter to Brussels on Saturday requesting that Brexit be delayed until Jan. 31 -- three months after his self-imposed deadline. At a rare Saturday sitting, lawmakers voted by 322 to 306 in favor of a rebel Tory’s proposal to withhold their approval for now.BrexitDeal. Boris Johnson will be forced to send a letter to the EU requesting an extension pic.twitter.com/DCy4zZbZjA— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) October 19, 2019 In a post-vote letter to MPs and peers in the House of Lords, Johnson said he won’t request a delay from the EU and that the government will introduce new legislation next week “needed for us to leave the European Union with our great new deal” on Oct. 31.The result prolongs the 3 1/2 years of political turmoil triggered by the referendum. The possible outcomes range from delaying Brexit -- allowing time for a general election or a second referendum on leaving -- to a battle in court, or a chaotic and economically damaging departure from the bloc without a deal in just 12 days.Johnson’s hopes of meeting his deadline of getting the U.K. out of the EU by the end of the month now rest on pushing the legislation that implements his deal through Parliament in less than two weeks. The Withdrawal Agreement Bill could begin its journey as soon as Tuesday. But, on Monday, Johnson will make another attempt to get Parliament to sign off on the principle of his deal, making the extension unnecessary.BrexitDeal pic.twitter.com/UELjzvF5K5— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) October 19, 2019 The scale of Johnson’s defeat on Saturday, though, shows the problem he has created for himself by alienating his allies in the Democratic Unionist Party. Their 10 votes made the difference between defeat and victory.They had supported Johnson until this week, when he signed a Brexit deal that creates a customs border in the Irish Sea -- a concession designed to secure Ireland and the EU’s support for the agreement. The DUP angrily denounced that during the debate.When Johnson does try to push his deal through, the question will be, as it was on Saturday morning, whether he has the votes. The day saw Conservative MPs, both current and almost all those he expelled last month, saying they would vote with him, as well as a small number of Labour MPs. If he can hold that coalition together for two weeks, he might have a chance.Johnson could still try to circumvent the legislation forcing him to seek a delay, but he do so, he would be certain to face legal challenges that could end up in the U.K. Supreme Court.Assuming he concedes and sends the letter, an extension will require the unanimous agreement of EU leaders. The European Commission urged the British government to clarify its next steps.On Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron said one shouldn’t be granted. But Macron made similar noises before approving a Brexit delay in April. EU officials say it’s unlikely that he or any other leader would refuse another one, particularly if the U.K. was headed for a general election.On Saturday, the French presidency said in a statement: “Our message is clear: a deal has been negotiated. It is now up to the British parliament to say if it approves it or rejects it. An additional delay is in no one’s interest.”If attempts to avert a no-deal Brexit fail, the consequences for Britain are likely to be severe. According to the government’s own analysis, a no-deal Brexit would cause disruption to trade, financial services, and food supplies, and risk civil disorder.(Adds letter to MPs in the third paragraph.)\--With assistance from Greg Ritchie.To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net;Kitty Donaldson in London at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Edward Evans, James AmottFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • ‘Hanky-panky?’ Traders pocket ‘stunning’ profits after Trump’s comments on trade talks goose the stock market
    MarketWatch

    ‘Hanky-panky?’ Traders pocket ‘stunning’ profits after Trump’s comments on trade talks goose the stock market

    One longtime CME trader’s says this kind of stock-market manipulation hasn’t been seen since al Qaeda cashed in before initiating the Sept. 11 attacks.

  • Johnson Says He’ll Press on After Commons Defeat: Brexit Update
    Bloomberg

    Johnson Says He’ll Press on After Commons Defeat: Brexit Update

    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Parliament voted for Boris Johnson to request a further delay to Brexit after a day of high tension in the House of Commons in London. The prime minister, who said the choice is his deal or no deal, said he will not “negotiate delay” with the European Union and will introduce the legislation needed next week for the U.K. to leave the EU on Oct. 31.Lawmakers voted 322 to 306 in favor of an amendment by former Tory minister Oliver Letwin which requires Johnson to write a letter by 11 p.m. requesting an extension until Jan. 31. Letwin said the amendment provides insurance against crashing out without an agreement on Oct. 31.https://t.co/TVTCmIxjxD pic.twitter.com/SpMI6G5obQ— Bloomberg Brexit (@Brexit) October 19, 2019 https://t.co/TVTCmIxjxD pic.twitter.com/SpMI6G5obQ— Bloomberg Brexit (@Brexit) October 19, 2019 Johnson said he will tell the EU further delay would be “bad for this country, bad for the European Union and bad for democracy.” His deal wasn’t put to a vote as a result of the amendment being passed “because the meaningful vote has been voided of meaning,” he said.Key DevelopmentsMPs vote by 322 to 306 for Letwin amendment forcing government to request Brexit delayFurther votes being lined up for next weekProtesters converge on Parliament in anti-Brexit demonstrationCommons Vote Not All Bad News for Johnson (4:25 p.m.)The vote for Oliver Letwin’s amendment deprives us of a chance to test how much support there is for Johnson’s Brexit deal in Parliament, but it did tell us some things. Johnson mustered 306 votes against the amendment. While not all of those MPs would vote for his deal -- Labour’s Kate Hoey has said she won’t, for example -- several of the 322 who backed it said they would. That includes five former Tories, with two more saying they would have been willing to back the prime minister once the Letwin amendment passed. On the Labour benches, excluding Hoey, there were three abstentions by MPs who have said they would vote for a deal.Transferring those votes into a theoretical vote on a deal, we get 315 votes for Johnson, and 316 against. That’s not enough. But if Johnson were to pick up a few more Labour votes, and at least three more Labour MPs have indicated they’d vote for his deal, he’d be over the line.BrexitDeal PeoplesVoteMarch pic.twitter.com/G2X65uZBw4— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) October 19, 2019 Macron Questions Wisdom of Further Delay (4 p.m.)French President Emmanuel Macron issued a statement acknowledging the vote in the House of Commons and questioning the wisdom of a further delay to Brexit.“The vote by the British Parliament opens the way to a possible request for an extension. We will see in the coming hours what happens,” Macron’s office said in a statement. “It is not up to us to give our opinion at this stage and this will happen in consultation with our European partners.”“But our message is clear: a deal has been negotiated, it is now up to the British Parliament to say if it approves it or rejects it. An additional delay is in no one’s interest.”EU Takes Note of Commons Vote on Delay (3:40 p.m.)The European Commission said it has taken note of the House of Commons vote on the Letwin amendment and urged the British government to clarify the next steps.“It will be for the U.K. government to inform us about the next steps as soon as possible,” Mina Andreeva, chief spokeswoman for the Brussels-based commission, the EU’s executive arm in Brussels, said in a twitter post.Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit Co-ordinator, said the body’s Brexit steering group will consider the result of the Commons vote on Monday. “Whatever happens next, the marches outside the Parliament show just how important a close EU -- U.K. future relationship is,” he said on Twitter.Another Vote Mooted for Monday (3:25 p.m.)Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg announced that on Monday there will be a debate on a section of the European Union Withdrawal Act 2018 -- raising the possibility of another vote on Boris Johnson’s deal.There are also plans for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, the legislation needed to leave under the new deal, to be debated on Tuesday.Together they raise the possibility of two votes on the Brexit deal on consecutive days. Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow said he would seek clarity on the government’s plans. By Monday Johnson should have requested an extension from Brussels in accordance with the requirements of the Benn Act.The Meaning of Johnson’s Ambiguity (3:15 p.m.)Boris Johnson’s elliptical response to the Letwin vote (see 3 p.m.) could be understood as suggesting he won’t send a letter to the EU, and in a briefing his office declined to clarify what he meant.But it’s clear from his earlier comments, and from his team’s approach to proceedings on Monday, that a letter requesting an extension will be sent to the EU. If the bloc agrees to it -- and the text of the letter is specified in law -- then the government is obliged to accept.In his comments to the House of Commons on Saturday morning, Johnson acknowledged he would have to write to the EU. “Whatever letters they may seek to force the government to write, it cannot change my judgment that further delay is pointless, expensive and deeply corrosive of public trust,” he said.Johnson Pledges to Press on With Brexit (3 p.m.)Boris Johnson said he’ll press on with Brexit and ruled out negotiating a further delay to Brexit with the European Union after losing a vote intended to force him to request an extension from the bloc.“I will not negotiate a delay with the EU and neither does the law require me to do so,” Johnson said. “Next week the government will introduce the legislation needed to leave the European Union with our new deal on Oct. 31.”The Benn Act, passed last month, required Johnson to write to the EU by 11 p.m. tonight if he was unable to get his deal agreed by Parliament.Campaigners Celebrate at Delay to Vote (2:55 p.m.)A raucous cheer erupted from the crowd packing Parliament Square after the result of the vote on Oliver Letwin’s amendment was announced. They had marched through central London towards Parliament to demand another referendum on leaving the EU.It had started raining moments earlier, but it didn’t dampen the mood among the buoyant crowd.Gove Appeals For Unity In Commons Vote (2:30 p.m.)Before MPs left the chamber to vote, Brexit Minister Michael Gove closed the debate for the government, arguing they should “honor democracy” and vote Boris Johnson’s deal through.He said he hoped that, come the end of the day, the “vote in 2016 that we promised to honor will after three and a half years of deadlock and division be honored by a House that is at last ready to unite.”Speaking for the opposition, Labour business spokeswoman Rebecca Long-Bailey emphasized the economic impact of the deal. “For business, for our industry and for our manufacturing, it reduces access to the market of our biggest trade partner, threatening jobs up and down our country,” she said.“This is a bad deal for industry, a bad deal for manufacturing and more importantly a bad deal for jobs.”Demonstrators Fill Parliament Square (1:50 p.m.)A large crowd gathered outside Parliament after marching across central London demanding a referendum on Boris Johnson’s deal.Parliament Square was full of singing protesters waving EU and British flags as tens of thousands more packed Whitehall – the road between Parliament and Trafalgar Square which houses government buildings. They carried banners calling for a second referendum and chanted “Object to Brexit”.Theresa May Backs Johnson’s Plan (1:20 p.m.)Former Prime Minister Theresa May said she will vote for Boris Johnson’s agreement with the EU, even though it sets up a border in the Irish Sea, something she pledged never to accept. There had been speculation that she might not back it for that reason.“If you don’t want no deal, you have to vote for a deal,” she told the House of Commons. “If you want to deliver Brexit, if you want to keep faith with the British people, if you want this country to move forward, then vote for the deal today.”Letwin Moves Amendment Despite Pressure (12:50 p.m.)Oliver Letwin has so far shrugged off the pressure to drop his amendment (see 12:15 p.m.) and spoke to introduce it in the House of Commons. It doesn’t cause a delay but adds the insurance that the U.K. won’t leave without a deal if the government fails to get the necessary legislation through in time, he said.The prime minister “wants to be able to say to any waverers ’it’s my deal or no-deal. Vote for the implementing legislation or we crash out’,” Letwin said. “Despite my support for the Prime Minister’s deal, I do not believe that it’s responsible to put the nation at risk by making that threat.”If Parliament backs the amendment “we can be secure in the knowledge that the U.K. will have requested an extension tonight, which if granted can be used if and to the extent necessary, and only the extent necessary, to prevent a no-deal exit.”Starmer Highlights Threat to Trade (12:40 p.m.)Keir Starmer, Brexit spokesman for the opposition Labour party, told MPs that Johnson’s deal “rips up our close trading relationship with the EU,” with the price being paid in damage to the U.K. economy and job-losses.He ran through passages of Theresa May’s old deal versus Boris Johnson’s new one, notably the removal of the phrase “the parties envisage having a trading relationship on goods as close as possible with a view to facilitating a needs of legitimate trade.”He asked Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay: “If the aspiration of the government is to stay as close as possible to the EU on trade rules, why take the words out?” Barclay didn’t reply.Starmer added that he doesn’t believe the prime minister’s promises on workers rights and the future relationship with the EU. “There is more than enough evidence that his word doesn’t mean anything and can’t be trusted,” he said.Letwin Under Pressure to Drop Amendment (12:15 p.m.)Oliver Letwin is coming under pressure from his former Tory colleagues to drop his amendment, according to three Tory MPs who have been involved in discussions with him.While another MP could push Letwin’s amendment to a vote, if he doesn’t gun for it himself then support -- particularly among former Tories -- could melt away.ERG Pledges Support to Brexit Legislation (12 p.m.)Mark Francois, deputy chairman of the hard line Brexit European Research Group of Tory MPs, said the caucus agreed at its meeting on Saturday morning that its members won’t disrupt the passage of divorce legislation through Parliament this month.The announcement is significant because some MPs have said they will back the Letwin amendment to stop the ERG from forcing a no-deal divorce from the EU on Oct. 31 by blocking the government’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill.“We agreed that if we vote for the deal, we vote for the bill,” Francois told the House of Commons.Shortly afterwards, independent MP Nick Boles made clear he doesn’t believe them.Grieve Appeals for Time for Scrutiny (11:45 a.m.)Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, one of the MPs expelled from the Conservative Party for opposing Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy, appealed for more time for MPs to scrutinize the deal with the EU.The government “is taking us out at such a gallop that proper scrutiny can’t take place,” Grieve told the House of Commons. “It continues to give the impression that it wants to run a coach and horses through the rights of this house.”Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay defended the lack of an official assessment of the deal’s economic impact. “It’s difficult to model a deal that was only made on Thursday,” he said.Labour Confirms Backing for Letwin (11:20 a.m.)The opposition Labour Party confirmed its lawmakers will be ordered to back Oliver Letwin’s amendment, which would force Boris Johnson to send a letter to the EU requesting a Brexit extension on Saturday night.Labour will vote for the amendment “to stop Boris Johnson sneaking through a no-deal crash out or setting up a blackmail vote between his sell-out deal and no deal on Oct. 31,” the party said.They argue that the amendment wouldn’t stop the U.K. leaving the EU on Oct. 31 if the necessary legislation is passed in time and simply prevents a “crash out by stealth.”Bonmarche Blames Brexit Delay For Failure (11:10 a.m.)Bonmarche, a U.K. womenswear retailer employing 2,900 people, went into administration and said uncertainty over Brexit delivered the knockout blow.“The delay in Brexit has created negativities, both in the global markets towards Britain and damaged consumer sentiment,” Chief Executive Officer Helen Connolly said in a statement. “Without such a delay, it is feasible to believe that our issues would have been more manageable.”Johnson: This Deal or No-Deal (10:55 a.m.)Challenged by Liberal Democrat MP Luciana Berger on the fact no economic analysis on the deal has been done, Johnson said the deal had been welcomed by business lobby groups and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney.“The choice for her today is this deal, which I think is very good for this country economically and politically, and no-deal,” Johnson said “That’s what she has to decide between.”Johnson Pledges to Consult Parliament (10:45 a.m.)Boris Johnson gave reassurance after reassurance to concerned former Tories. He told Greg Clarke, who was business secretary under Theresa May, that workers’ rights will always be as good as or better than they are in the EU.In response to a question from former Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, the prime minister also said he’ll sign up to a proposal from Labour MPs Lisa Nandy and Gareth Snell that Parliament would have to agree the negotiating mandate for the next stage of Brexit talks and the future relationship with the EU should only be signed with the agreement of lawmakers.Letwin Amendment ‘A Shame,’ Johnson Says (10:30 a.m.)Johnson took aim at former Tory minister Oliver Letwin, whose widely-supported amendment looks set to delay a vote on the deal until next week.While saying Letwin has the “best possible intentions”, Johnson told MPs that “this is a momentous occasion for our country and for our Parliament, and it would be a great shame if the opportunity to have a meaningful vote were to be taken away from us.”What Happens if Letwin Amendment Passes (10:20 a.m.)It looks likely the Letwin amendment will pass, as it has the support of opposition parties and several former Tories.The government says if that happens, it won’t push the amended motion to a vote. At that point, the uncontested votes of opposition MPs will mean the whole motion falls. Where will that leave us?Effectively, Johnson will be where he was at the start of the day. Without a deal passed by Parliament, he’ll be obliged by the Benn Act to write to the EU seeking a delay to Brexit until Jan. 31, 2020. Although officials have talked about finding a way around the law, the prime minister seemed to concede in Parliament that he’ll have to send the letter.Johnson will still have a way to meet his pledge to deliver Brexit by Oct. 31 -- by getting his deal passed in Parliament before that date. But as he won’t have pushed today’s vote, he won’t know whether he has the support to do that.Packed Commons Sees MPs Sitting in Gallery (10 a.m.)The House of Commons is packed. Some MPs who can’t squeeze on to the green benches in the chamber are perched in seats in the gallery one level up, usually taken by staff and official visitors.MPs are continuously barracking the opposing side. Jeremy Corbyn drew jeers from the Tories when he said “we are not prepared to sell our constituents” because the Tories accuse Labour of abandoning their supporters who voted to leave. Boris Johnson drew ironic Labour jibes when he appealed for MPs to be less adversarial.Corbyn Warns Against Johnson’s Promises (9:55 a.m.)Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said Johnson’s deal is worse than the one negotiated by Theresa May and the Government’s proposed timetable deprives MPs of the opportunity for properly scrutinizing it.“We’re having a debate today on a text for which there is no economic impact assessment and no accompanying legal advice,”Corbyn said. “It’s not a good deal for our country and future generations will feel its impact.”Corbyn also leveled a warning at Labour MPs who suggested overnight that they might back the deal after receiving assurances from Johnson over workers rights after Brexit. “This prime minister can’t be trusted and these benches will not be duped,” Corbyn said. Backing the deal would start a “race to the bottom in regulations and standards,” he added.Johnson Says EU and U.K. Want to Move On (9:45 a.m.)Addressing Parliament, Boris Johnson tried to reach out for support, saying he wants to involve parliament in the future stages of Brexit.“I shall continue to listen to all honorable members throughout the debate today, to meet with anyone on any side, and to welcome the scrutiny the House will bring to bear, if, as I hope, we proceed to consider the Withdrawal Bill next week,” Johnson said.He also effectively conceded that if his motion doesn’t pass, he’ll have to ask for an extension, telling Parliament that “it cannot change my judgement that further delay is pointless, expensive and deeply corrosive of public trust.”The EU and the U.K. public want to move on from Brexit, Johnson said. While he had in the past urged a renegotiation with the EU, he said this is a good deal and should be embraced by all sides.Johnson Won’t Push Vote on Deal if Letwin Wins (9:30 a.m.)Boris Johnson won’t push his Brexit deal to a vote on Saturday if a rebel amendment that’s designed to postpone legal sign-off is passed, a U.K. official said.Johnson needs formal Parliamentary approval for his deal by the end of Saturday to get out of a law that requires him to request a delay of Britain’s departure from the European Union.But former Conservative minister Oliver Letwin’s amendment to Johnson’s motion would postpone legal approval until all the necessary laws have passed Parliament.The official said the effect of the amendment would be to render the motion meaningless. The government will still push ahead with putting its Brexit legislation before Parliament on Monday, the official said.Baker Sees Deal as ‘Tolerable Path’ (9:20 a.m.)Leader of the ERG Steve Baker told reporters after their meeting that he believes the deal is a “tolerable path to a bright future.”However, on their way out of the meeting, veteran Brexiteers Bill Cash and John Redwood declined to comment on how they would vote, leaving it open that they might abstain.DUP’s Wilson Appeals to the ERG (9:15 a.m.)The Democratic Unionist Party’s Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson also spoke to the European Research Group of hard-line Brexiteers at their meeting on Saturday morning (see 9 a.m.).He spoke after the group’s chairman Steve Baker had recommended that members should back Johnson’s deal and urged them to oppose it. The DUP is against the agreement because it imposes different rules on Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K.ERG Deputy Chairman Mark Francois said after the meeting that no one in the room had said they would vote against the agreement, but members leaving the committee room refused to comment to reporters. “The ERG is not a Stalinist organisation so it will be up to everyone how they vote,” Francois said.Brexit ‘Spartans’ Pulling Behind Johnson (9 a.m.)Johnson has got the big scalp: Steve Baker, chairman of the pro-Brexit European Research Group and a key figure in the so-called “Spartans,” who refused to back May’s Brexit deal, has recommended that colleagues should support Johnson’s deal.Before the last big Brexit vote, Baker made an emotional speech to the group about his frustration with the process. If he’s on board, Johnson might hope to get all the Spartans.Tory MP Nigel Evans said that Baker had recommended at a meeting of the group on Saturday that they should back the plan.Johnson Gains Support as MPs Gather (8:45 a.m.)The vote is looking very close. By Bloomberg’s count, Johnson has 42 of the 61 MPs backing him that he needs, and there could easily be 20 more undeclared supporters out there.But a couple of former Tories are refusing to say. Both former Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Antoinette Sandbach have refused to say what they’ll do. Hammond said he is open to backing the deal, but he is also backing the Letwin amendment.In Westminster there’s an idea around that if the Letwin amendment passes, the government might pull the final vote. But there’s no procedure to allow it to do that.Barclay Warns Over Dither and Delay (8:30 a.m.)Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said Oliver Letwin’s proposed amendment would cause “further delay, further dither and further uncertainty,” causing more damage to British business.He warned that any request to extend the Oct. 31 deadline could be vetoed by another EU member. “It is not Oliver Letwin’s decision how long an extension will be, anymore than it is the U.K. Parliament’s decision,” he said.Duncan Smith: Letwin Should ‘Stow’ His Plan (Earlier)Former Tory leader and lead Brexiteer Iain Duncan Smith didn’t attempt to conceal his anger over Olive Letwin’s amendment, which would force Johnson to request a delay from the EU on Saturday as insurance against the U.K. accidentally crashing out without a deal on Oct. 31.“This vote has to be clear to our partners in Europe that we’re now on a track to leave under this deal,” Duncan Smith told the BBC, warning that the amendment would extend uncertainty. “I wish Oliver Letwin would just stow this now.”Dodds Says DUP May Back Insurance Amendment (Earlier)Nigel Dodds, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party’s 10 MPs in Westminster, said the party will examine the Letwin amendment and decide whether to back it later on Saturday.“It’s a very interesting amendment,” Dodds told BBC Radio. “It does have the merit of pointing out that this would withhold the approval of the Commons from the government’s plan.”He said the party, which will vote against Johnson’s deal, hasn’t yet made a final decision on the Letwin amendmentEarlier:Brexit Decision Day Arrives as U.K. Parliament Votes on DealBoris Johnson Might Not Even Get His Brexit Vote on Saturday\--With assistance from Thomas Mulier and Jonathan Stearns.To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net;Kitty Donaldson in London at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.net;Greg Ritchie in London at gritchie10@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Thomas PennyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Susan Rice weighs in on 'the danger' surrounding big tech
    Yahoo Finance

    Susan Rice weighs in on 'the danger' surrounding big tech

    The international reputation of large American tech firms can impact how the global community perceives the U.S., says a former top national security official under Barack Obama.

  • Bloomberg

    Nestor Is Set to Storm Into Florida Panhandle With Needed Rain

    (Bloomberg) -- Tropical Storm Nestor was set to drop in on the Florida panhandle Saturday with high winds and rain that will miss the nation’s energy hub along the Gulf of Mexico coast but could bring needed moisture to area crops suffering from drought.Nestor was located in the Gulf about 75 miles (121 kilometers) southwest of Apalachicola, Florida, and moving at around 17 mph, according to a 4 a.m. New York-time advisory by the U.S. National Hurricane Center. The storm could produce a 3-5 foot storm surge, though its winds are expected to diminish once it hits landfall, the center reported.Nestor will move quickly to the northeast after it arrives on the panhandle Saturday, cutting across Georgia and South Carolina before rolling out to sea, said Dan Pydynowski, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, it will provide plenty of moisture at a time when about 65% of the U.S. Southeast is snared by drought, according to the Drought Monitor in Lincoln, Nebraska.“There is going to be some localized flooding problems in some areas, but for a lot of the region, when push comes to shove, it is going to be a benefit,” Pydynowski said, calling Nestor a “quick mover” that will tamp down any flooding issues.With its baptism by the hurricane center on Friday, Nestor becomes the 14th named storm in the Atlantic this year. By Sunday, Nestor is expected to be over the Atlantic off the coast of North Carolina or Virginia.Nestor’s rains will help soak soils but won’t eliminate the drought altogether, said Dan Hicks, a meteorologist at Freese-Notis Weather in Des Moines, Iowa. The hurricane center said the dry soil will probably decrease the risk of flash flooding from heavy rains.“In the long term this should be a benefit,” Miller said.To contact the reporter on this story: Brian K. Sullivan in Boston at bsullivan10@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tina Davis at tinadavis@bloomberg.net, Reg GaleFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Twitter Blamed for Saudi Spy Hack of Activist Tied to Khashoggi

    (Bloomberg) -- A Saudi dissident sued Twitter Inc. claiming its failure to tell him about a state-sponsored hack of his account led to government agents discovering his plans for a social media protest with Jamal Khashoggi a few months before the journalist was slain last year.Omar Abdulaziz claims a Twitter employee, a Saudi national, was recruited by the government to gain access to his account and gather intelligence on him.Twitter found out about the activities of the employee, Ali Al-Zabarah, fired him in 2015 and later notified a few dozen users of the platform that their accounts “may have been targeted by state-sponsored actors,” Abdulaziz said in the complaint.But Abdulaziz says he wasn’t notified. All he got a few months later was an email saying that due to a bug “the email address and phone number linked to your account was viewed by another account,” according to the complaint, which included the email from Twitter.In June 2018, Saudi agents planted malware on Abdulaziz’s phone, which allowed them to spy on his activities, he alleges. At the time, he and Khashoggi, who worked for the Washington Post, were planning the “electronic bees” project, which organized Saudi activists on Twitter to counter the government’s so-called “electronic flies” campaign.Read More: Israeli Spyware May Have Helped Khashoggi Killers, Snowden SaysAbdulaziz, who had won political asylum in Canada, where he was attending college, said Saudi agents stepped up their harassment of him in July 2018 and arrested his brothers in Jeddah. The agents asked him to meet at the Saudi embassy in Ottawa. He declined. A few months later, Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.Subsequently, the fired Twitter employee was appointed by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman to be the chief executive officer of a multibillion-MISK foundation, according to the complaint.Abdulaziz said his brothers are still in prison in Saudi Arabia without having been charged and have been tortured to pressure Abdulaziz to stop his activism.McKinsey & Co., also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, is faulted for writing a report that identified Abdulaziz as one of the top three activists protesting human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia.Read More: How Despots Use Twitter to Hunt DissidentsTwitter and McKinsey “have individually invaded plaintiff’s privacy and exposed him, his family members, friends and political associates to imprisonment, torture, and even death,” Abdulaziz said in the complaint.Much of the narrative in the complaint was reported a year ago in the New York Times.Representatives of Twitter and McKinsey didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. McKinsey told the Times last year that the report was an internal document based on publicly available information and wasn’t prepared for any government entity. The firm was quoted saying it was “horrified” that the report could have been misused.The case is Abdulaziz v. Twitter Inc., 19-cv-06694, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Burnson in San Francisco at rburnson@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net, Peter Blumberg, Joe SchneiderFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Are Q3 2019 Earnings Results Really That Good?
    Zacks

    Are Q3 2019 Earnings Results Really That Good?

    Are Q3 2019 Earnings Results Really That Good?

  • Bloomberg

    Trump to Nominate Deputy Energy Secretary to Replace Rick Perry

    (Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said he will nominate Dan Brouillette to be his next energy secretary when Rick Perry leaves the job later this year.“Dan’s experience in the sector is unparalleled. A total professional, I have no doubt that Dan will do a great job!” Trump tweeted Friday.Brouillette has been serving as No. 2 to Perry, who led the Energy Department with its $36 billion budget and control of the nation’s nuclear arsenal and emergency crude oil stockpile. The White House arranged for Brouillette to meet with Trump on Friday after Perry gave the president a resignation letter. The deputy has been taking on increasingly high-profile roles for Perry, including sitting in for him at cabinet meetings. The White House session was described by people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named because it was private.Perry, 69, has been grooming Brouillette, 57, to succeed him for months while planning his own departure. In recent months, Brouillette has more frequently served as the public face of the Energy Department both on missions abroad and at U.S. events.Trump has elevated deputies at other agencies after the leaders departed. He made David Bernhardt acting secretary of the Interior after Ryan Zinke left the administration, then nominated him for the post. Trump used a similar approach with current Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler, who served as the second-ranking official under former chief Scott Pruitt.A Louisiana native, Brouillette worked at the Energy Department under former President George W. Bush as an assistant secretary for congressional and intergovernmental affairs.His vision for the Energy Department isn’t expected to veer from the one held by Perry, a vocal advocate of the nation’s oil and gas industry, who attempted -- so far unsuccessfully -- to subsidize unprofitable coal and nuclear plants in the name of national security and electric grid reliability.Brouillette has backed those efforts and said during a speech earlier this year that “fuel-secure units are retiring at an alarming rate,” a phenomenon that would “threaten our ability to recover from attacks and natural disasters,” if left unchecked.The nominee emerged as a key figure during internal administration debates last fall over whether to grant waivers for some countries from sanctions on Iran’s oil. Brouillette argued against the waivers, saying the administration should take a tougher stance against Iran, in a memo to the State Department.In addition to his past stint at the Energy Department under Bush, Brouillette has worked as staff director for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where he played a role crafting major energy legislation. He also was a senior executive in the policy office of Ford Motor Co. and financial services provider United Services Automobile Association.To contact the reporters on this story: Jennifer Jacobs in Washington at jjacobs68@bloomberg.net;Ari Natter in Washington at anatter5@bloomberg.net;Jennifer A. Dlouhy in Washington at jdlouhy1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net, Steve GeimannFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Will Twitter (TWTR) Stock Continue Its 2019 Success After Q3 Earnings?
    Zacks

    Will Twitter (TWTR) Stock Continue Its 2019 Success After Q3 Earnings?

    Twitter (TWTR) is set to report its third quarter results on Thursday, October 24 before the opening bell.

  • Exclusive: Twitter leases new office space in Santana Row
    American City Business Journals

    Exclusive: Twitter leases new office space in Santana Row

    Social networking giant Twitter Inc. is expanding its office presence in Silicon Valley. The San Francisco-based company has signed a new lease for office space at Santana Row in San Jose, three real estate industry sources told the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Twitter is leasing between 30,000 and 35,000 square feet of office space at Santana Row, the sources said.

  • 3 Tech Stocks for Growth Investors to Buy During Q3 Earnings Season
    Zacks

    3 Tech Stocks for Growth Investors to Buy During Q3 Earnings Season

    Let's dive into three tech stocks that we found using our Zacks Stock Screener that growth investors might want to consider buying during Q3 2019 earnings season...

  • Benzinga

    Why MKM Is Neutral On These 3 Social Media Stocks

    Social media users have plenty to type about these days, but not every platform is buzzing. Snap demonstrated strong execution over the last year, and it’s poised to profit near-term from the Android app, the launch of a gaming platform, a sales reorganization and premium content partnerships.

  • Barrons.com

    Twitter and Pinterest Stocks Have Plunged From Their Highs. It’s Not Safe to Buy Them Yet, Analyst Says.

    It’s been a wild ride this year for both Twitter and Pinterest stock. The social-media companies’ shares had huge runs earlier in the year—and have more recently seen substantial profit-taking. MKM Partners says don’t bottom fish.

  • Facebook's (FB) Watch to Get Exclusive Shows From FOX Sports
    Zacks

    Facebook's (FB) Watch to Get Exclusive Shows From FOX Sports

    Facebook's (FB) Watch to receive sports-related digital shows and content from recent partnership with Fox Sports amid the intensifying sports streaming battle.

  • Bloomberg

    Erdogan’s ‘Too Big to Fall’ Gamble Pays Off, But Carries Risks

    (Bloomberg) -- President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long based his dealings with the U.S. and Europe on a bet: That threats to cut his country loose or crush its economy won’t be followed through, because Turkey is simply too strategically important.That calculation appears to have held true when it comes to the 120-hour pause that Erdogan agreed to on Thursday for his offensive in northern Syria.Having ignored a threat from President Donald Trump to “obliterate” the Turkish economy, Erdogan secured what he interpreted as U.S. agreement to establish a Turkish-controlled buffer zone, cleared of U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters, which is what he had set out to create with his military operation. The U.S. also promised to halt further sanctions.Syria fits a broader pattern. Erdogan has for years sought to capitalize on Turkey’s position as the second-largest military in the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance, its strategic location stretching from Iran and the Caucasus to Europe, its control of the straits that connect the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, and its ability to funnel waves of refugees to Europe.Trump’s Haphazard Syria Deal Leaves Erdogan With Long-Sought WinWhy U.S. and Turkey, Allies for Decades, Keep Feuding: QuickTakeEven so, there are risks from Erdogan’s too-big-to-fall gamble.In part that’s because the Turkish and U.S. positions differ widely on the scope of the truce, while three of the main forces on the battlefield -- the Kurds, the Syrian government and Russia -- weren’t even at the table.But, more importantly, Turkish-U.S. ties have become dependent on the “mutual political crush” that Erdogan shares with Trump, says Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.Erdogan said Friday he won’t forget a letter from Trump that warned him not to be a “fool,” for pushing hard against the Kurds, and vowed to respond to what he said was a missive out of line with diplomatic courtesies. But he also said he understood the U.S. president was “under pressure,” adding “I am just taking care of my relationship with Trump.”Elsewhere, especially in Congress and at the Pentagon, Turkey has lost powerful friends who once advanced its interests in Washington. That matters as U.S. foreign policy making fractures.“This is a very deep problem,” rooted in a long list of grievances, said Cagaptay. In Syria, he added, Turkey and the U.S. have allied with each others’ “terrorist” enemies to pursue security goals: Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist extremists, and fighters linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, respectively.“DoD and the Hill are two power centers that could upset the apple cart in the relationship going forward,” said Cagaptay, referring to the Pentagon and Congress.The sanctions Trump imposed on Turkey this week were largely symbolic. But both the House and Senate are considering far tougher, bipartisan penalties, some of which may still be imposed.A proposal from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham would target Turkey’s financial institutions, its energy sector, leaders, and any U.S. person who buys sovereign Turkish debt. With $180 billion of short term debt to finance each year, that would be catastrophic for Turkey’s economy.After Thursday’s deal, Graham said he remained “ready to come and hit Turkey hard if they don’t get out of Syria and reset the table.”U.S. prosecutors this week issued a long-awaited indictment against Halkbank, one of Turkey’s largest, for its alleged role in a plot to circumvent U.S. sanctions against Iran. Less egregious cases against other foreign banks resulted in multi-billion dollar fines that would destroy the bank. Pence said Halkbank was not part of Thursday’s deal with Erdogan.The relationship has been souring on both sides, especially since a failed 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan. Many Turks -- with encouragement from state controlled media -- believe the U.S. was complicit. Criticizing the U.S. is a political winner for Erdogan. His attack on the U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters in Syria has, so far, won domestic support, too.“Erdogan has scored points at home for standing up against the U.S. to order the incursion after months of diplomatic wrangling, and fueled nationalist sentiment,” said Emin Demirel, author of several books about the Kurdish conflict and jihadist groups.Oil DrillingTo date, Erdogan’s gamble that Turkey is too important for the West to risk losing has allowed him to buck complaints and threats over everything from mass imprisonments to the destruction of democratic institutions, drilling for oil in waters claimed by Cyprus, and the purchase of NATO-non compatible S-400 missile defense systems from Russia. His actions in Syria are just the latest example.In separate interviews, three senior Turkish officials outlined the government’s confidence that the U.S. and other Western countries cannot afford to risk a break with Turkey. The officials, who were not authorized to speak with media, cited the country’s strategic location.Those considerations hark back to the need to prevent Turkey, along with Greece, from being pulled into the Soviet sphere of influence after World War II. Today, not only is there no mechanism to eject Turkey from NATO (even if its other 28 members wanted to), the country hosts early warning radar for the alliance’s missile defense system and, at Incirlik airbase, approximately 50 U.S. nuclear weapons.Europe QuestionAccording to the officials, Turkey is working to reduce its dependency on the West for arms. In 1975, the U.S. imposed an arms embargo following Turkey’s occupation of northern Cyprus, grounding half the Turkish air force as spare parts dwindled.Turkey has even more leverage when it comes to the EU. Erdogan has recently repeated threats to send millions of refugees toward Europe, if leaders persisted in branding his military operation in Syria an “invasion.” Refugee sea crossings from Turkey to Greece were already increasing this year.Whether this mutual dependency would survive a collapse of the Syrian truce, however, remains uncertain.EU Council President Donald Tusk on Friday said he did not want fresh tensions with Turkey, even as he called for Erdogan to withdraw fully from Syria. “The so-called cease-fire, this is not what we expected,” he told reporters in Brussels. “In fact, it’s not a cease-fire, it’s a demand of capitulation of the Kurds.”French President Emmanuel Macron went further.“I consider what has happened in the past days a heavy mistake by the West and by NATO,” he said in Brussels. “It questions also the functioning of NATO. Sorry to say that but we cannot hide it.”\--With assistance from John Ainger, Patrick Donahue, Helene Fouquet and Onur Ant.To contact the reporters on this story: Marc Champion in London at mchampion7@bloomberg.net;Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara at shacaoglu@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.net, Mark WilliamsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • There Will Be No More Facebook Revolutions
    Bloomberg

    There Will Be No More Facebook Revolutions

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- “Twitter revolution,” “Facebook revolution” — these terms became widespread during the Arab Spring rebellions at the beginning of this decade. They’re outdated now: For today's protesters in Hong Kong and Barcelona, or for Extinction Rebellion activists in capitals around the world, the social networks and even messenger applications run by big U.S. corporations are becoming a secondary tool, and one not used for organizational purposes.After protesters in Egypt forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign in February 2011, one of the revolution’s public faces, Google executive Wael Ghonim, went on CNN to be interviewed by anchors Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer. When Blitzer asked him what was going to happen next, the following exchange ensued:Ghonim: Ask Facebook.Blitzer: Ask what?Ghonim: Facebook.Cooper: Facebook.Blitzer: Facebook. You’re giving Facebook a lot of credit for this?Ghonim: Yes, for sure. I want to meet Mark Zuckerberg one day and thank him, actually. This revolution started online. This revolution started on Facebook.That was so 2011. If there’s any one app today’s protesters would want to credit, it’s Telegram. But not even this itinerant messenger, whose team was based in St. Petersburg, Berlin, London and Singapore before ending up in Dubai, plays the same kind of outsize role that Facebook and Twitter took on in previous protests, up to and including Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement” of 2014. With its powerful group messaging functionality and “channel” feature which allows users to broadcast information, Telegram is the central media platform for the Hong Kong protesters of today, who are now pushing for greater democracy for the former British colony. It’s also the go-to tool for pro-independence Catalans who have taken to the streets to protest the long prison sentences for leaders of the Spanish region’s doomed 2017 secession bid. There, the secretive Democratic Tsunami group uses Telegram to communicate with its 150,000 followers. It also uses a Telegram bot to collect data for an app it created to map protest activities and street clashes. For its part, Extinction Rebellion has been moving from Facebook-owned WhatsApp to Telegram because it allows bigger group chats, and because it has a voting tool that allows independent-minded rebels to decide what they want to do. (This tool is also used in Hong Kong).Signal, the encrypted messenger, and Mattermost, an open-source alternative to the enterprise messenger Slack, also are popular among activists.Direct file transfers, encrypted messengers and specially created apps have become essential for spreading all kinds of material that might land its distributors in trouble — such as the fake boarding passes Democratic Tsunami sent out so protesters could get into the Barcelona airport on Oct. 14, causing more than 100 flights to be canceled.Of course, today’s activists still use social media platforms run by big U.S. corporations. But when they do it’s mainly for outward communication such as with the media, not with people actively involved in the protests. Since the Arab Spring, governments have mastered use of the big commercial social media networks themselves. Since the Hong Kong protests began, both Facebook and Twitter have complained about China’s attempts to use them for disinformation and counterpropaganda. Besides, many protesters believe their anonymity isn’t well protected on the social networks, Malek Dudakov of the Moscow-based think tank Center for the Study of New Communications wrote in a recent report about the use of the technology by the Hong Kong protest movement. Telegram, run by a nonprofit founded by Russian libertarian Pavel Durov, has a reputation for resisting government attempts at censorship and infiltration. Russia has attempted to block the messenger for refusing to hand over encryption keys to domestic intelligence, but Telegram has fought back and is still accessible in most of Russia. Mainland China has had more success in cutting off access to it. But even on Telegram, the risk of losing one’s anonymity is a potential problem. One protest group moderator in Hong Kong was arrested in June. Durov has accused China of trying to take his service down in Hong Kong with distributed denial of service attacks. Those efforts contrast with concerns that big U.S. companies are more likely to cooperate with the authorities.Earlier this month, Apple Inc. approved a smartphone map app that Hong Kong protesters have been using for distribution in its App Store after an initial ban. But then it swiftly took HKmap.live down again. Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook explained that the Hong Kong cybersecurity authority had told the company that the app was being used by criminals to “target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where no police are present.” This episode prompted the Democratic Tsunami in Catalonia to release its own app for Android only — and not through the Google Play Store, in which most Android users get their apps.Even though its services are blocked in mainland China, Google has also behaved in a way some protesters, and even some of its employees, find suspicious. Citing an internal rule against the monetization of current events, the Play Store banned a game called “The Revolution of Our Times” that allowed players to act out the role of Hong Kong protesters. The game’s developers had promised to give 80% of their proceeds to charity.Big Tech’s role, even if unwitting, in unrest has always looked like an aberration. Where the profit motive is involved, cooperating with governments makes more sense than facilitating those who fight them. Now, the dust is settling on the tech revolution, and real-world revolutions need non-commercial tech tools. So protesters either design their own or fall back on open-source apps or those developed by nonprofits. Facebook and Twitter are where propaganda battles rage and insults fly, not where action is coordinated — and that’s a natural consequence of their evolution as big businesses that attract way too much government attention.So, if you’re wondering what comes next for all the modern-day protest movements, don’t ask Facebook.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Melissa Pozsgay at mpozsgay@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Financial Times

    FirstFT: Today’s top stories 

    The country’s trade war with the US, slowing income growth and cooling manufacturing investment took a toll on the world’s second-largest economy between July and September, according to the figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Friday.

  • Financial Times

    How smart tech could put a stop to wine fraud

    My wine collection runs to half a case of sub-£10 claret — if I don’t count bottles of the undrinkable and unthinkable left in the kitchen at parties — but even I could tell it apart from vin de table. A company called Chainvine is using 21st-century blockchain and “internet of things” (IoT) technology to address a problem that is hundreds of years old — and seems to be getting worse. Since 2005, Koch alone has had to bring three major wine fraud lawsuits, one relating to four bottles that purportedly belonged to Thomas Jefferson, US president from 1801 to 1809, but proved rather younger.

  • Mark Zuckerberg Touts Broad Power of Expression as ‘Fifth Estate’
    Bloomberg

    Mark Zuckerberg Touts Broad Power of Expression as ‘Fifth Estate’

    (Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said the social network doesn’t fact-check political advertisements because it’s not the place of technology companies to become arbiters of truth.“I don’t think most people want to live in a world where you can only post things that tech companies judge to be 100% true,” Zuckerberg said on Thursday to an auditorium full of students at Georgetown University’s Gaston Hall in Washington. “People should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying.”In recent weeks, Facebook has been criticized for its policy on political ads, with the presidential campaigns of Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren calling on the company to remove ads from U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign that include claims with no evidence. Facebook has declined to do so, raising the larger question of whether such ads on social media should be regulated.Zuckerberg said on Thursday that he’s considered getting rid of political ads on his platforms altogether -- it’s a small part of the company’s business -- but banning them would favor incumbents.“In a democracy, I believe people should decide what’s credible, not tech companies,” Zuckerberg said.The company doesn’t fact-check posts from politicians, including ads, to avoid the appearance that it’s taking sides. Warren took advantage of Facebook’s policy earlier this month with a series of ads claiming Zuckerberg was endorsing Donald Trump for re-election -- which isn’t true. Warren, who is running for the Democratic nomination, ran the false assertion to highlight Facebook’s policy following an ad from Trump that accused fellow Democrat Joe Biden of bribing officials in Ukraine, without any proof.“Facebook has chosen to sell Americans’ personal data to politicians looking to target them with disproven lies and conspiracy theories, crowding out the voices of working Americans,” said Bill Russo, a spokesman for Biden.Zuckerberg also warned that if technology companies and platforms like Facebook don’t fight hard to uphold free speech, the internet could one day look like it does in China. The Chinese government, he said, is building a censored version of the internet, and exporting that version through some of its most popular online services.He called out Bytedance Inc. unit TikTok, a rival mobile social network, as one of those services, and said TikTok has censored content from the Hong Kong protests.“Until recently, the internet in almost every country outside China has been defined by American platforms with strong free expression values,” Zuckerberg said. “There’s no guarantee these values will win out.”Zuckerberg also used Thursday’s speech, billed as a conversation on free expression, to argue that the social network’s enormous size and scale offers people a new kind of power: the ability to share their thoughts with the masses. The CEO called this power “a fifth estate alongside the other power structures in our society.” He touted the importance of giving individuals a voice, which is where the most progress comes for social change.“In times of social turmoil, our impulse is often to pull back on free expression. We want the progress that comes from free expression, but not the tension,” Zuckerberg said. “We saw this when Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famous letter from Birmingham Jail, where he was unconstitutionally jailed for protesting peacefully.”Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., responded on Twitter, writing that the late civil rights leader was targeted by “disinformation campaigns launched by politicians” that “created an atmosphere for his assassination.”Internet services like Facebook can still protect free expression while addressing problems that have been raised by this new technology, Zuckerberg said. He acknowledged that when everyone has a voice, some people will use that to try to organize violence and influence elections. At Facebook’s scale, even if a very small percentage of people try to cause harm, that’s still a lot, Zuckerberg said. The company has chosen to focus on the authenticity of the speaker rather than judging the content itself, he said.While Facebook, as a private business, is not beholden to free-speech rules per the First Amendment, more than 2.7 billion people use its products around the world. The company’s algorithm--software that decides what people see in their feeds--and content policies have a tremendous impact on whose voices are heard.The company’s decisions have often been controversial, putting Facebook in a constant defensive posture with many government leaders, who either think Facebook is doing too much or not enough to police its properties.Since Russia’s election interference in 2016, Facebook has built up an apparatus of third-party fact checkers, responsible for marking a post as false, after which it might be ranked lower in the news feed, but never removed. The system, which often fails to address content until after it’s gone viral, doesn’t apply to political ads.Facebook’s rules on what stays up and gets taken down on its social network, as well as on Instagram, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp platforms, are applied by a global group of thousands of low-wage contractors, who manage more than 100 billion pieces of content across the digital properties daily. The results are often inconsistent, causing confusion. The company is building an independent oversight board that can be the last word on Facebook decisions that users disagree with.Besides the content policies, Facebook has been under fire for its news feed algorithm, which tends to highlight content that triggers an emotional response in users. That means shocking news, including false information, tends to spread quickly there. Facebook has been hesitant to remove misinformation because of concerns, especially on the conservative side, about showing political bias. Zuckerberg has been meeting conservative pundits to improve the relationship, though the company has said it hasn’t found any evidence of bias.(Updates with Biden spokesman comments in seventh paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Kurt Wagner in San Francisco at kwagner71@bloomberg.net;Sarah Frier in San Francisco at sfrier1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Turkey, U.S. Agree to Brief Cease-Fire to Allow Kurdish Retreat

    (Bloomberg) -- Turkey agreed to a temporary pause of military operations in Syria that could be extended if Kurdish fighters formerly allied with America leave the border region, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence announced after a hastily arranged visit to Ankara.The “immediate” cease-fire will last 120 hours, Pence said during a press conference Thursday in the Turkish capital following about five hours of talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Pence said the Syria-based YPG, which consists mostly of ethnic Kurd fighters previously aligned with the U.S., has provided assurances that they’ll make a “safe and orderly withdrawal.”“We think the agreement today first ends the violence, which is what President Trump sent us here to do,” Pence said. He declined to describe any concessions made by Turkey.Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the one-page accord wasn’t a cease-fire, but a pause, and boasted that Turkey had gotten what it wanted from the U.S. Top of their demands was that Turkish armed forces will be oversee a 20-mile “safe zone” inside Syria.But a senior administration official said that despite the dispute about the wording, the agreement was a cease-fire. The official, who was granted anonymity to discuss the matter, added that the administration had been in contact with the YPG throughout the negotiations and that the group had been told to halt firing its artillery into Turkey.Turkish forces quickly invaded the northeast of the country and attacked Kurdish fighters previously aligned with the U.S. after President Donald Trump told Erdogan in an Oct. 6 phone call that he wouldn’t stand in the way. While the U.S. initially withdrew a handful of troops from two border posts, Defense Secretary Mark Esper later said all 1,000 American forces would pull out of the region.The accord reached Thursday bears some resemblance to what Erdogan proposed a day earlier to end the impasse. In a speech to ruling party lawmakers in Ankara, Erdogan said Turkey would end its operation only after Kurdish militants withdraw from the secure zone Ankara wants to create in Syria. Syria and Russia have long opposed any permanent role for Turkey in northern Syria.As part of the agreement, Pence said no additional U.S. sanctions would be imposed on Turkey. He added that the U.S. will withdraw existing sanctions if a permanent cease-fire takes effect after the 120-hour period. But Pence said a failure to reach an accord on Thursday would have resulted in new penalties.The Turkish lira jumped to a one-month high on the news.It wasn’t immediately clear whether the cease-fire is absolute. Under the terms of the agreement, Turkey and the U.S. agreed that “counter-terrorism operations must target only terrorists and their hideouts, shelters, emplacements, weapons, vehicles and equipment.” Turkey considers the Kurdish-led forces in Syria to be terrorists.Pence emphasized that Turkey agreed not to engage militarily in Kobani, a strategic border town. Syrian forces on Wednesday entered Kobani as part of a deal with Kurdish fighters to fend off the Turkish offensive. But Cavusoglu refrained from calling the arrangement for Kobani an agreement.The one-day visit by Pence and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo was cobbled together after rising bipartisan criticism of Trump’s Oct. 6 decision to start pulling back U.S. forces in northern Syria, opening the way for Erdogan’s forces to attack Kurdish fighters who had helped the U.S. defeat Islamic State’s “caliphate.”Trump, minutes before the press conference, said the deal would mean “millions of lives will be saved.” Trump has continued to defend his decision and rejected widespread claims that his move gave Erdogan a green light to send his forces over the border. He called it “an amazing outcome” upon landing in Texas on Thursday, adding “we’ve gotten everything we could have ever dreamed of.”The president said that Erdogan is still likely to visit the White House next month as scheduled.The announcement in Ankara came just as Republican Senator Lindsey Graham proposed legislation prohibiting anyone in the U.S. from buying Turkey’s sovereign debt, as lawmakers aim to escalate pressure on Erdogan’s government. Graham, who has repeatedly blasted Trump’s troop withdrawal, called the agreement “encouraging” but added that he didn’t know the details.“We’re ready to come and hit Turkey hard if they don’t get out of Syria and reset the table,” Graham told reporters in Washington. “I appreciate what Pompeo and Pence have done. I don’t know the details. I don’t trust Erdogan.”But Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, another foreign policy hawk, said “From what I understand it’s not a cease-fire.” He said the deal was a message to the Kurds that “You have one hundred and x number of hours to get out of here before we kill you.”Erdogan likely emerges with a political boost from the crisis and deal with the U.S. Turks are overwhelmingly supportive of a heavy-handed approach against Kurdish separatists that Turkey has been fighting against since 1984. All main opposition parties except the pro-Kurdish HDP expressed support for Turkish troops in Syria and Erdogan in his dealings with the international community.(Updates with details about the negotiations, in paragraph.)\--With assistance from Laura Litvan.To contact the reporters on this story: Jordan Fabian in Ankara at jfabian6@bloomberg.net;Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara at shacaoglu@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Bill Faries at wfaries@bloomberg.net, ;Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, ;Onur Ant at oant@bloomberg.net, Joshua GalluFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Grab What You Can in India’s Bad-Loan Melee

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Snatch-and-grab is the new hallmark of Indian finance. As a banker friend in Mumbai put it to me only half-jokingly, a unit of "grabbed" cash collateral in hand is worth more than two units of hypothetical receivables. Yet this is no laughing matter. Not only is opportunistic behavior going to worsen India’s $200 billion-plus bad loan crisis, but now that everyone from the government’s sleuths to the courts are joining the melee, the ensuing chaos will limit the recovery for lenders and threaten depositors. Rajnish Kumar, chairman of State Bank of India, sat down for a chat with me at the Bloomberg Equality Summit in Mumbai this week. He had highlighted the problem last month by blaming what he called the selfishness of one bank for a default by Altico Capital India Ltd., a nonbank lender to property builders. When asked why his HDFC Bank Ltd. had choked Altico by helping itself to the money the shadow financier had raised elsewhere and parked with him, Aditya Puri, the managing director of India’s most valuable lender, replied: “What is out-of- turn? It is my security and I will exercise it.”Now the regulator, the Reserve Bank of India, will decide whether Kumar’s unhappiness is a case of sour grapes or if Puri did indeed cross a line. For State Bank of India, Altico is just one of the several instances where the taxpayer-funded bank has been at the receiving end.SBI didn’t drag tycoon Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications Ltd. to an in-court bankruptcy process, hoping instead that Ambani would be able to sell assets to his brother Mukesh, India’s richest man, out of court. Ericsson AB, an operational creditor, pursued the opposite strategy and got itself a very decent court-enforced settlement by invoking the younger Ambani’s personal guarantee. More recently, SBI’s Kumar received a fresh blow when India’s enforcement directorate, tasked to fight economic crime, attached the assets of insolvent Bhushan Power & Steel Ltd. on suspicion of money laundering by its previous management. Both the new owner, who won control of Bhushan during bankruptcy, and Kumar, who’s waiting for his check, are impatient. Yet, thanks to the enforcement directorate, the $2.8 billion sale has now been put on hold by an adjudicating authority.ArcelorMittal, too, has also been waiting endlessly to conclude a near-$6 billion purchase of Essar Steel India Ltd., the most keenly watched Indian bankruptcy. There, Kumar and other creditors are facing a legalized version of snatch-and-grab: An appellate authority has held that rights of financial creditors like SBI are no superior to those of unsecured operational creditors.Finance 101 is being turned upside down in India. Take securitization. It got a bad rep during the 2008 subprime crisis, but the reality is that for India’s cash-starved shadow banks to survive, they must package more of their small-ticket loans into securities and sell them on to people like Kumar, who have a more stable source of funding: deposits. How hard is this? A court order is blocking the troubled Dewan Housing Finance Corp., which is seeking a restructuring of its $12 billion liabilities to Kumar and other creditors, from putting cash collected from homeowners into accounts from which holders of its mortgage-backed securities are paid. Six of these bonds were downgraded this week by Moody’s Corp. affiliate ICRA — three of them defaulted. These notes were supposed to perform for investors even if Dewan went bankrupt. Securitization will not lead to a safer financial system in India if this basic tenet is flouted. Small savers may not understand the nuances of high finance, but they’re the ones who feel the pain when a cooperative bank goes up in flames and the regulator puts limits on cash withdrawals. That’s what happened recently after a $1 billion fraud at Punjab & Maharashtra Co-operative Bank. The Reserve Bank is playing with fire. Imagine the consequences if, say, housing societies decide to move money out of smaller institutions and into too-big-to-fail SBI or HDFC Bank. Bailing out even small parts of a large deposit-taking industry will become a headache for Indian taxpayers. A capital-constrained economy like India can’t afford a jungle raj in finance. Only a set of clear rules can end the cash grab by powerful intermediaries and state authorities. Once powerless depositors join in the free-for-all, it will be too late.To contact the author of this story: Andy Mukherjee at amukherjee@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Patrick McDowell at pmcdowell10@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andy Mukherjee is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies and financial services. He previously was a columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He has also worked for the Straits Times, ET NOW and Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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    Congress Pushes Forward On Turkey Sanctions Despite Ceasefire

    (Bloomberg) -- Republican and Democratic lawmakers vowed to move ahead with sanctions on Turkey despite the announcement by Vice President Mike Pence that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to temporarily halt hostilities in northern Syria.South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham and Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen said they welcomed the agreement but will continue urging their colleagues to sign on to the sanctions bill they introduced Thursday. That measure would sanction Turkish leaders, financial institutions and its energy sector, as well as prohibit any U.S. firms or individual from buying the country’s sovereign debt.Senators of both parties said the deal Pence outlined doesn’t do enough to protect the Kurds who fought with the U.S. against the Islamic State and have been targeted by Turkish forces seeking to occupy Syrian territory south of Turkey’s border.Graham said the deal was “encouraging,” but he doesn’t trust Erdogan.“We’re ready to come and hit Turkey hard if they don’t get out of Syria and reset the table,” Graham said. Referring to his sanctions proposal, he said he will “continue to get co-sponsors, but this sounds positive.”Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, said he didn’t see Pence’s announcement as a win for the Kurds.“From what I understand it’s not a cease-fire,” Rubio said. “You have one hundred and x number of hours to get out of here before we kill you.”The Graham-Van Hollen measure is one of four bills that have been introduced in recent days to sanction Turkey for invading northern Syria. The Trump administration had imposed some sanctions on Turkey earlier this week, but Pence said those will be re-evaluated as part of Thursday’s deal with Erdogan.Speaking with reporters Thursday, Van Hollen said it is “within Turkey’s power” to avoid these sanctions by drawing back from Syrian territory that had been controlled by the Kurds.“We do not want these sanctions to have to go into effect,” Van Hollen said. However, he said that Congress will insist on punishing Turkey if it doesn’t change course.House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, who sponsored the bipartisan House sanctions bill, said his committee will continue with its work on penalties for Turkey.”I am glad there is a cease fire, it’s a good sign, but let’s see if it lasts,” Engel said. ”Last time I had confidence in Turkey was a long time ago.”House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer dismissed the deal with Turkey that Pence announced on Thursday. They said in a statement that Trump is “flailing” and said Erdogan has “given up nothing.”“Next week, the House will pass a strong, bipartisan sanctions package to work to reverse the humanitarian disaster that President Trump unleashed in Syria,” they said. “Our service members, our allies and our partners all suffering from the Syrian conflict deserve smart, strong and sane leadership from Washington.”Veto-Proof MajorityThe sanctions in the Graham-Van Hollen bill would be effective immediately upon enactment unless the Trump administration comes to Congress every 90 days to certify that Turkey is not operating unilaterally in Syria and has withdrawn its armed forces, including Turkish supported rebels, from areas it captured beginning on Oct. 9.The version of the bill introduced Thursday also includes sanctions on Halkbank and any other financial institution that “knowingly facilitated transactions” for Turkey’s military. The Trump administration has come under scrutiny for not fining Halkbank for its alleged involvement in a massive scheme to evade sanctions on Iran.The same version of the bill would have to pass the House and the Senate before going to President Donald Trump to be signed into law. There is strong bipartisan opposition to Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria, but Senate leaders haven’t committed to bringing a sanctions bill to a vote.Graham said he thinks there is enough support for the legislation to win a veto-proof majority in the Senate.The House Foreign Affairs Committee bill doesn’t include the provision to sanction sovereign debt or that country’s energy sector. That proposal does include the Halkbank sanctions, as well as penalties on senior Turkish officials and the military.Both the House and Senate bills include penalties already mandated by a 2017 law that requires sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of the Russian-made S-400 missile.Additional ProposalsSeparately on Thursday, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Jim Risch and ranking Democrat Bob Menendez introduced another sanctions proposal targeting Turkish leaders and people providing arms to Turkish forces in Syria. That bill includes the Halkbank sanction and would also direct Trump to oppose loans to Turkey from international finance institutions and review Turkey’s participation in NATO.The Graham-Van Hollen bill is the only one that would restrict purchases of Turkey’s sovereign debt, by directing that “the president shall prescribe regulations prohibiting any United States person from purchasing sovereign debt of the Government of Turkey.”The U.S. Treasury Department has been reluctant to sanction the sovereign debt of other countries, an option that was floated in 2014 to punish Russia, citing concerns that the impact would spill over into the global financial markets. Congress has proposed, but not passed, measures to sanction Russian sovereign debt.Timothy Ash, a strategist at BlueBay Asset Management in London, said sanctioning sovereign debt would be “lights out for Turkey.” He said the penalties against Halkbank and other Turkish banks are “also pretty severe.”Ash said the bill could be “softened” as it goes through Congress, with some of the more severe provisions removed, but “the warning signal to Turkey is pretty stark.”Bipartisan RebukeIn a show of bipartisan opposition to Trump’s decision to pull troops out of northern Syria, the House Wednesday passed a mostly symbolic resolution by a 354-60 vote to disapprove of the U.S. withdrawal and call on Erdogan to “immediately cease unilateral military action” in the region.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday he was encouraged by the House’s bipartisan vote and wants the Senate to pass an even stronger measure.McConnell said he wants a measure tougher than the version passed in the House, which he said doesn’t address the plight of the Sunni and Christian minority in the country and doesn’t take a stance on whether the U.S. should maintain a military presence in Syria.“My first preference is for something stronger than the House resolution,” he said. McConnell has not yet commented on the cease-fire Pence announced or the timing for a vote on sanctions legislation.\--With assistance from Laura Litvan.To contact the reporters on this story: Daniel Flatley in Washington at dflatley1@bloomberg.net;Anna Edgerton in Washington at aedgerton@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Kevin Whitelaw at kwhitelaw@bloomberg.net, Joe SobczykFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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