Thursday, May 31, 2018

0 Big pharma M&A may be killing off new medications and raising drug prices

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Biotech pharma lab drug development

  • Pharmaceutical companies have a strategy to block out competition to their prescription drugs.
  • According to a new study, about 7% of all pharma mergers and acquisitions from 1989 to 2011 are so-called "killer acquisitions," meaning they're used strategically by big pharma to eliminate competition from smaller companies. 
  • The practice could drive up prices on existing therapies, the study says. 

Big pharmaceutical companies may have developed a strategy to block out competition to their prescription drugs.

A recent study by researchers at the Yale School of Management and London Business School noted a trend of mergers and acquisitions made by big pharma to strategically eliminate competitors. The researchers dubbed these deals "killer acquisitions."  

For example, a large pharmaceutical company with a successful drug brand might acquire a new, smaller company  making a drug to treat the same disease. This way, the large pharma company can terminate the new drug's development and it can continue to control market share. The researchers estimated that 7% of pharma deals were so-called killer acquisitions.

In a recent example of this, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals settled with the Federal Trade Commission in 2017 after it was charged with violating anti-trust laws over its specialty drug Achtar. Several years earlier, Questcor (a company that Mallinckrodt later acquired) bought a competitor to Acthar called Synacthen. The FTC alleged that this kept other companies from selling the competing drug at a lower price. 

The study suggested that large drug companies sometimes buy up smaller companies only to shut down their production and ongoing development. An analysis of more than 60,000 drug developments in the U.S. market from 1989 to 2011 gave insight into how these types of deals are reshaping the R&D process at companies. 

Drugs acquired by other large pharma companies were more likely to be terminated than non-acquired drugs, particularly when the parent company already had a similar product, the study found. If these deals hadn't taken place, the number of drugs continuing development each year would increase by 5%. This means killer acquisitions may be preventing a large number of medical treatments from being developed, the study said, and it may also drive up the price of existing drugs.


SEE ALSO: A bombshell New York Times report says that Purdue Pharma knew OxyContin was being abused within the first few years after it launched

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0 Philippines’ Crypto Wallet Reaches 5 Million Users, Adds More Coins

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Philippines' Crypto Wallet Reaches 5 Million Users, Adds More Coins

Averaging more than a million onboardings per year, Philippines’ announced it reached a whopping five million users this week for its mobile payments application (app) and hot crypto wallet. Not content with merely adding numbers for their own sake, the company also revealed it would add two new popular coins: bitcoin cash (BCH) and ether (ETH).

Also read: Bitgrail Exchange Ordered Down Indefinitely as Italian Court Upholds Halt

Philippines’ Hits 5mil User Milestone

Founder Ron Hose enthusiastically explained, “We are excited and proud to provide 5 million customers with access to financial services. Our focus on creating financial inclusion to all Filipinos has propelled our growth to date.”

Many of the southeast Asian archipelago’s inhabitants struggle with inadequate economic opportunities and poor financial services. Nearly half of the Philippines is living on close to $2 a day, and its central bank, Bagko Sentral ng Pilipinas, estimated early last year that 86% of Philippines’ citizens are unbanked – bereft of basic banking services used by folks in the West every day.

Philippines' Crypto Wallet Reaches 5 Million Users, Adds More Coins

Those factors just might be features rather than bugs when it comes to cryptocurrency adoption. Indeed, for relatively smooth economies in the West, money is already digitized for all intents and purposes. Crypto adoption, as a result, in the West has been a bit of struggle: the immediate argument gets lost in money that ‘works,’ and works well.

For Filipinos to become one’s own bank, in effect, relying less on financial legacy permission and trust, a peer-to-peer currency out of view of its notoriously corrupt government seems to be proving very attractive if numbers are any indication. Adds Bitcoin Cash (BCH)

“Millions of our customers have already used’s web and mobile apps to access a wide array of financial services,” CEO Ron Hose continued, “including buying load, paying bills, topping up their beep™ card, and purchasing digital currencies, all without needing a bank account.”

Five million users has come in only four years for the company. It was founded by Runar Petursson and Mr. Hose, both Silicon Valley veterans. Their services are a way for Filipinos to become banked, a potential market of over 300,000 people. In the past two years, it has raised a total of $10mil in venture capital funding, indicating investors believe the company to be “on” to something.

Philippines' Crypto Wallet Reaches 5 Million Users, Adds More Coins

Users of the company’s platform can take advantage of ever-important remittance services, card top-ups, wallet transfers, paying bills, and even online shopping. Just the mere notion of a friction-filled economy (as is the case within the Philippines), flattening and becoming more streamline would seem to forecast wonderful economic advancements for the nation, at least theoretically.  

“Responding to consumer demand for additional blockchain-based services,” the company notes it has already rolled out ether (ETH) acceptance in addition to its existing bitcoin core (BTC) offering, “with an eye for future smart contract based financial services, and will also begin supporting Bitcoin Cash (BCH) next month, in an effort to support lower cost blockchain based payments.”

Do you think more emerging economies will embrace crypto? Let us know in the comments. 

Images via the Pixabay,

Verify and track bitcoin cash transactions on our BCH Block Explorer, the best of its kind anywhere in the world. Also, keep up with your holdings, BCH and other coins, on our market charts at Satoshi’s Pulse, another original and free service from

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0 PR: Mesmr – Revolutionary Decentralized Media Platform Announced

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Mesmr - Revolutionary Decentralized Media Platform Announced

This is a paid press release, which contains forward looking statements, and should be treated as advertising or promotional material. does not endorse nor support this product/service. is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the press release.

Los Angeles, CA (May 30, 2018) — mesmr™, the blockchain-based new media ecosystem, is announcing the creation of, a media platform designed for content creators and their audiences.

“mesmr was formed due to a lack of trust in today’s new media platforms. Our goal is to give everyone the power to unleash their creativity, own the rights to their personal data and to leverage the transparency of blockchain, giving brands a visible ROI on their marketing spend. We’re building a consumer-centric blockchain in the hopes that we can bring everyone into the world’s new operating system that is blockchain technology,” Dil-Dominé Leonares, mesmr founder and CEO stated.

The announcement comes in the midst of calls by content creators to revisit how the modern media platform manages revenue and access to content. With a unique token-based system, mesmr rewards all three parties—creators, audiences, and brands—for their participation on the platform.

“One of our goals is to drive mass adoption of blockchain technology by making everything very user friendly,” added Val Kantchev, mesmr’s Chief Technology Officer. “A lot follows from that user focus, including also the decision to build our own blockchain network.” rewards all participants for their engagement in the ecosystem. Based on their belief in on-demand income, will be giving viewers tokens for their time spent watching ads, should the consumer choose to opt-in for this feature. In addition, they want to give them the option to either keep their data private or release it to advertisers for a fee. Their goal is to spur the adoption of blockchain by creating a platform that provides all the benefits of a token, without sacrificing user experience like other content sharing platforms in the blockchain industry.

The company is aiming to create a “content democracy”, where videos succeed or fail based on merit, not how well they fit into advertiser-friendly guidelines. The community decides what rises to the top. Creators receive 80% of the advertising revenue generated from their content, and community members can gain extra tokens for sharing content that performs well.

Over the next few weeks, mesmr will be rolling out their TGE (Token Generation Event) with a pre-sale set for June 15th. Allowing purchase of the mesmr token (MSMR) with Ethereum (ETH), they are expecting to generate over 350 million tokens with a value of $200 million USD.

To learn more about mesmr, you can visit their website or view their whitepaper available here.

About mesmr:
Founded in 2017, mesmr is committed to creating a secure media ecosystem powered entirely by blockchain. The soon-to-be-released, mesmr blockchain will be powered by the Proof of Influence consensus protocol solving the unfairness of PoS (Proof of Stake) and the sustainability issues of PoW (Proof of Work). is the first proof of concept that runs on the mesmr blockchain and utilizes the influence score.

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This is a paid press release. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the promoted company or any of its affiliates or services. is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in the press release.

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0 This is the biggest style mistake Roger Federer has ever made — and it still haunts him to this day

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Roger Federer

  • Roger Federer, renowned for his style, has reflected on his biggest fashion faux pas.
  • Federer made a glaring wardrobe malfunction over 10 years ago and it was picked up by the British press.
  • The error still haunts him to this day.


Grand Slam tennis champion Roger Federer is renowned for his finesse and style on and off the court, but the 36-year-old is still haunted by a fashion faux pas he made over 10 years ago.

Federer is often seen on the red carpet wearing a tailored suit with a matching tie and manicured hair. He has welcomed comparisons to James Bond, would relish seeing Leonardo DiCaprio play him in a biopic of himself, and claimed he would never, ever, dress like Rafa Nadal.

Federer has picked up 20 of the major titles in the sport and has the celebrity appeal to match but, in an interview with GQ Magazine, Federer explained that he is still guilty of making public howlers.

Federer recalled an "embarrassing" wardrobe malfunction at a Wimbledon ceremony over 10 years ago that was picked up by the British media.

He said: "Back in 2005 or 2006, I was so excited I won, I wanted to put on the whole outfit that we’d made together. I went to receive the trophy and as I walk down, I’m a bit nervous and as I put my hands in my pockets, I realise that the pockets are going backwards."

"I was like, 'It’s too late! I can’t change them any more!' I lifted the trophy and the pants were on backwards. You could hardly see it, but I think one British media picked it up and were like, 'What’s going on? He’s got the zipper at the back.'"

The incident actually occured in 2007 — and there's photo evidence here:

roger federer trousers on backwards

Federer added: "That was quite embarrassing!"

roger federer

Federer has not played competitive tennis since a second round loss to Thanasi Kokkinakis at the Miami Open in March. He decided to skip the entire clay season so he could be as fit and as fresh for the 2018 Wimbledon Championships, a tournament that starts in June.

Hopefully, this time, he'll wear his trousers the right way round.

SEE ALSO: Everything tennis icon Roger Federer eats and drinks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner

DON'T MISS: Roger Federer just smashed yet another tennis record

UP NEXT: Roger Federer does one thing differently to everybody else, according to Andre Agassi's former fitness coach

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0 The psychological reasons why we want what we can't have — and why we chase someone who pulls away

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woman sleeping alone

  • Sometimes it can feel like you're always chasing something you can't have.
  • It can feel like the more someone pulls away, the more you end up wanting them.
  • This is partly due to our vanity and self-esteem, and partly due to our warped sense of their value.
  • In reality, their perceived value is all in your head, and you're better off pursuing people who actually respect you enough to be honest.
  • It's easier said than done, though.

"Too often, the thing you want most is the one thing you can't have," said Meredith Grey in the show "Grey's Anatomy." "Desire leaves us heartbroken, it wears us out. Desire can wreck your life."

This will sound all too familiar for people who always seem to be chasing things they can't have. It might be a dream job, or it could be a person — either way, when something is out of reach, they want it that much more.

You might have started dating someone, and thought things were going well. You were attracted to each other, and you were under every impression things were progressing in the right direction. Then they started to pull away, and instead of letting them go, you started bombarding them with messages and calls.

You could feel them slipping further away, but you couldn't control that burning desire to fix whatever went wrong. Predictably, the more they distance themselves, the more you chase them, until eventually they're gone for good.

We place more perceived value on people who are busy

Erika Ettin, the founder of dating website A Little Nudge, has a theory for why we behave this way.

"The less someone responds or reciprocates to one's advances, the more perceived value the pursuer thinks this person has," she said. "So we try harder since this person must really be 'worth it' if he or she is in such high demand — in other words, this person is a scarce resource."

If someone is busy, our minds can go into overdrive thinking they must be spending time with other people. They're obviously popular, so something primal in our brain can make us think they are more valuable than they really are.

In fact, Ettin said that often this means we start to place more value on the other person than we do ourselves. But if someone isn't being honest with you, she said, they simply aren't worth your time,

"This person's lack of response, though, should not imply a higher value," she said. "Rather, at its simplest, it should imply a lack of proper communication... or just rudeness."

Unfortunately, walking away is much easier said than done. When we like someone, our brain will release the hormone dopamine when they appear in our messages, or ask to see us.

We can get hooked on this happy hormone, and start chasing the high, like a drug. If we get intermittent attention from someone, it's all the more addictive than if we got it all the time.

We are susceptible to 'breadcrumbing'

"Our brains love the unpredictability because the highs are higher than if we got the desired reward all the time," Ettin said. "This is why breadcrumbing has sadly entered our lexicon recently."

Breadcrumbing is when someone texts or calls on a sporadic basis, normally because they know you will respond. They will seem to be pursuing you, but in reality have no intention of being tied down to a relationship. They just like leaving you breadcrumbs, like a trail in Hansel and Gretel, to string you along.

Thanks to the dopamine, we let people treat us this way, because the reward feels so good on the rare occasions we get it.

"With the extra dopamine, though, comes added anxiety," she said. "'When is he going to text?' 'I haven't heard from her in three days, and I know she's back from her weekend trip by now.' 'If he wants to go out this weekend, he needs to ask since it's already Friday afternoon.' Is that a worthwhile trade-off? I say no."

It can be incredibly tempting to fall for the thrill of the chase, particularly because our vanity can drive us to keep pursuing someone who just isn't interested. But if you can pull yourself away, and devote your time and energy to what you do have rather than what you don’t, you're likely to save yourself a lot of heartache in the end.

SEE ALSO: It hurts when someone you're dating doesn't text you back — but you might be upsetting yourself more than they are

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0 Thailand's famous beach from 'The Beach' is closing after damage by too many tourists

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maya bay thailand

  • Thailand's Maya Bay, made famous in 1998 film "The Beach," is closing to tourists for the first time.
  • The crowds it attracts have caused damaged to the beach and its surroundings.
  • The beach is also unlike the one depicted in the film due to its crowds, litter, and the noise of boat engines.
  • It will close on June 1 and reopen on September 30.

Thailand's Maya Bay, made famous in the 1998 film "The Beach," is closing down on Friday, June 1 because it has been damaged by too many tourists.

A bucket list tropical spot for all travellers, the stunning beach became extra popular with visitors after Leonardo DiCaprio graced its shores in Danny Boyle's film.

467,000 UK tourists visited Thailand in 2016 — but their trips to Maya Bay have caused damage to the beach and its surroundings, according to environmentalists.

According to the BBC, Thai authorities will close the beach, a short strip of land on the island of Ko Phi Phi, to tourists for the first time to give it "a chance to recover from the strain of thousands of daily visitors."

maya bay thailand

The current beach is also unlike the one depicted in the film, according to tourists, as it is much more crowded and "definitely not relaxing" with the sound of speedboat engines in the background and some litter on the sand.

One 23-year-old tourist, Lara Vogelsberg, told the BBC: "The beach in the film is very relaxing, there are no people to be seen, and you get this idea of a very lonely place in the middle of nowhere.

"Then you come here and you think you're in Times Square in New York."

You can watch the trailer for "The Beach" here:

Thon Thamrongnawasawat, an advisor to Thailand's national parks department, said: "We are a beautiful country but we have to protect our natural resources.

"We have significant information that all the boats that come in and out really impact the coral reef."

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation in Thailand also recognised "the deterioration of the ecosystem in the area of Maya Bay" in a notice.

maya bay

However, as tourism is a massive source of income for the country, the beach won't be closed forever, and is set to reopen on September 30 ahead of high season.

"We won't close it to tourism forever but have to do something to save our sea, and we have to start at Maya Bay," Thamrongnawasawat said.

SEE ALSO: We asked a travel expert whether booking cheap flights or collecting air miles will save you the most money — and the answer was clear

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0 Sears is closing 72 stores as sales tumble

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  • Sears is closing 72 Sears and Kmart stores.
  • The company revealed the closures as it announced revenues dropped more than 30% for the quarter to $2.9 billion.
  • Sears previously announced a list of 166 store closures that took effect this year.
  • Over the last several months, the company has been quietly closing additional stores, as Business Insider has previously reported.

Sears said Thursday that it's closing another 72 stores, on top of the more than 160 locations that the company has already shuttered this year.  

The company said closing sales for the 72 stores would begin in the "near future." Sears also hinted at more closures to come, saying the 72 stores are among a list of 100 unprofitable stores that the company has identified.

Sears is closing more stores as the company's sales continue to slide, with revenues falling more than 30% to $2.9 billion in the most recent quarter, compared to $4.2 billion in the prior quarter. 

Same-store sales during the period dropped 13.4% at Sears stores and fell 9.5% at Kmart.

Sears previously announced a list of 166 store closures that took effect this year. Over the last several months, the company has been quietly closing additional stores, as Business Insider has previously reported.

The company is currently looking to raise cash through a potential deal with ESL Investments, the hedge fund run by Sears' CEO Eddie Lampert. 

In April, Lampert proposed that ESL Investments purchase Sears' Kenmore brand, its home-improvement business, its Parts Direct division, and some of the company's real estate.

"While we are pleased with the progress on our capital structure initiatives, we are continuously exploring additional opportunities to further streamline operations and adjust inventory and operating expenses," Sears CFO Rob Riecker said in a statement. The company "will need to continue to right size our store base and focus on our best stores, including our new smaller store formats."

SEE ALSO: Sears is closing 42 stores in 26 states — here's the list

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0 10 things you need to know before the opening bell (SPY, SPX, QQQ, DIA, SNAP)

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Trump golf

Here is what you need to know. 

Trump looks prepared to kick off a trade war with the European UnionThe Trump administration is prepared to announce steel and aluminum tariffs on imports from the European Union as early as Thursday, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Fed rolled out major changes to a key post-financial crisis Wall Street regulationThe Fed is proposing changes that would ease rules on trades made by banks using depositors' money, the Associated Press reports.

A little-known part of Italy's constitution makes it almost impossible for the country to leave the euroArticle 75 of the Italian constitution forbids referendums dealing with international treaties, meaning that the country's constitution would need to be changed before a referendum could be held on EU and euro membership.

2 UBS analysts just made a big market call that should have everyone a little worriedTechnical analysts Michael Riesner and Marc Müller wrote in a note sent out to clients on Wednesday that the top is in for the US 10-year yield and that if that's the case, it would be a "huge game changer on the macro side."

Bill Gross' flagship fund cratered as Italy's political turmoil rocked global marketsGross' Janus Henderson Global Unconstrained Bond Fund slumped more than 3% Tuesday as investors took flight from riskier bonds, including Italy's, and sought safer debt, including US Treasurys.

Warren Buffett reportedly tried to invest $3 billion in UberThe deal fell apart because of disagreements over the size and terms of the potential investment, according to Bloomberg.

Snap spikes on report saying it has entered a partnership that'll help it monetize in IndiaSnap shares gained 4.08% on Thursday after a Times of India report said the social-media company has entered into a partnership with the ad-tech firm Tyroo to help it monetize its more than 9 million users in the country. 

Stock markets around the world are higherHong Kong's Hang Seng (+1.37%) paced the gains in Asia and Britain's FTSE (+0.18%) is out front in Europe. The S&P 500 is set to open little changed near 2,725.

Earnings reports keep comingAmerican Eagle, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Sears all report ahead of the opening bell while Costco, GameStop, and Lululemon are set to release their quarterly results after markets close. 

US economic is heavyPersonal income and spending, PCE core prices, and initial claims will all be released at 8:30 a.m. ET before Chicago PMI and pending home sales cross the wires at 9:45 a.m. ET and 10 a.m. ET, respectively. The US 10-year yield is up 1 basis point at 2.87%. 

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0 People in China can now file for divorce on the WeChat instant messaging app

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china married couple

  • WeChat, China's most popular instant messaging app, now allows people to register for divorce.
  • The function is being trialed in Guangdong province, but there are plans to it further.
  • Take a look at how it works below.

People in China can now file for divorce on WeChat, the country's most popular instant messaging service.

The app rolled out a trial "divorce" functionality in Guangdong province, which is home to major cities including Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

Couples who no longer want to be together can now make an appointment with their local divorce registration office under WeChat's new function, which was rolled out about two weeks ago.

We first noticed the new function via a tweet by Matthew Brennan, a WeChat expert living in China.

How it works

The left screen in the picture below shows the generic document home screen, which allows you to personal documents for all sorts of purposes.

Scroll further down, and under the subtitle "Marriage" is a function that says: "Make an appointment for divorce registration," as can be seen in the right screen.

wechat divorce button

The app then takes you to a page where you tell it whether you're currently living in China or somewhere else.

Then you can enter personal details of the people getting divorced, including names and addresses. Then you can make an appointment with the local divorce registrar.

wechat divorce registration

Brennan, the WeChat expert, told Business Insider that making appointments was "pretty typical functionality that we find in WeChat."

He added: "It's also very typical that payments can also be handled directly through WeChat, although without going through the process, it's unclear if this is an option right now."

Filing for divorce is just one of WeChat's many new functions. Users in the province can also store driving permits and passport copies, and manage their tax documents. They can also apply for marriage licence.

Which such functions are only available to Guangdong citizens, WeChat's developer Tencent is aiming to roll them out across China in the future, Brennan told Business Insider.

The influence of WeChat, an app used by one billion active users worldwide, is growing in users' daily lives. Last year a judge in Nanjing, east China, called a woman on WeChat during court proceedings when she failed to turn up.

SEE ALSO: One photo shows that China is already in a cashless future

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0 Italy's political crisis is developing rapidly — here's how things have changed this week

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Italy Europe flags car driving

  • Italy's political crisis has calmed somewhat since it's rapid escalation at the beginning of the week.
  • The prospect of a coalition government between the Five Star Movement and the Lega Nord is seemingly back on the table.
  • Markets have been calmed by these developments, which are seen as a positive.
  • You can see all of Business Insider's coverage of the crisis here.

Italy has been on everyone's minds this week.

The country held an inconclusive election at the start of March and various parties have struggled to form a coalition government since then. Rumblings about the developing political crisis in Italy started to rear their head over the weekend, with suggestions that two deeply anti-eurozone parties could form a government.

The crisis escalated on Tuesday when markets around the world sold off aggressively. Investors feared that what was happening in Italy could ultimately lead to the demise of the eurozone.

In the last two or so days, however, market panic has died down somewhat, and asset prices have stabilized in the absence of any major new bad news. Attention has shifted away from Italy and toward President Trump's threat of a trade war with Europe.

But Italy hasn't solved its problems overnight. Here's a summary of what's going on in Italy, where the political situation is developing rapidly.

New elections?

The biggest shift since Tuesday is that a fresh general election in Italy is looking less likely.

Another vote — following elections held on March 4 — seemed a sure thing at the start of the week as President Sergio Mattarella attempted to install a technocratic government.

That government would have struggled to find support in the Chamber of Deputies (Italy's lower house). As a result, it was difficult to see how the government could function. Carlo Cottarelli, the former International Monetary Fund official chosen by President Mattarella to head this government, would likely have stepped down if he'd failed to gain parliamentary approval, then stayed in place as a caretaker until a fresh election.

This plan now seems unlikely, as the Five Star Movement and the Lega Nord, the two biggest parties in the Chamber of Deputies, have rekindled their attempts to form a coalition government with a majority in the chamber.

After the election in March, Five Star emerged as the biggest party but fell well short of being able to govern alone. Six weeks of talks with various parties followed until eventually late last week it looked as though a government would be formed by Five Star in coalition with the Lega Nord, party led by Matteo Salvini.

Italian Northern League leader Matteo Salvini shows a rosary as he speaks during a political rally in Milan, Italy February 24, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

The League, as the party is often known, previously had ties to Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, but it moved toward Five Star when an opportunity to govern presented itself.

Before a coalition could crystallize, President Mattarella — who must approve every major position in the government — rejected the two parties' nomination for finance minister.

The coalition had put forward Paolo Savona, a highly eurosceptic economist and former banker who was a minister of trade and industry in the 1990s.

Savona has frequently advocated that Italy leave the euro, describing the single currency in a recent book as a "German cage." He has been highly critical of Germany in particular, saying in the book: "Germany didn't change its idea on its role in Europe after the end of Nazism, even if it abandoned the idea of imposing itself militarily."

He also claims that Italy's decision to join the euro back in the 1990s has "halved Italians' purchasing power."

Savona's euroscepticism was enough for Mattarella to reject his appointment and the coalition unraveled as a result.

Now, however, Luigi Di Maio, Five Star's leader, and the League's Salvini are set to resume talks. They are believed to be attempting to find a fresh candidate for finance minister, hoping this will allow them to form a government.

"Let's find someone of the same calibre as Savona, who would still remain in the government in another ministry," Di Maio said on Facebook after meeting with President Mattarella.

According to a report from Reuters, which cites Mattarella's staff, the president has "welcomed" Di Maio's renewed attempts to try to form a government.

Salvini cancelled a rally in Lombardy on Thursday so that he could travel to Rome for talks. But Salvini is believed to favour an early election over a coalition, most likely because of the Lega Nord's surging popularity in the polls. Polls show the party on about 27%, up from around 22% at the time of the March election.

Markets have calmed

Whether or not Five Star and the League can find a suitable candidate for finance minister remains to be seen, but the renewed talks have given stock and bond markets something of a boost.

Italian government bonds — known as BTPs — were hammered earlier in the week by the possibility of a new election and the possibility of a so-called Italexit, but have calmed significantly in the last two days.

Bonds are rallying sharply on Thursday, with the yield on the two-year BTP falling more than 60% from it's highest level on Tuesday to a yield of around 0.98%. Bond yields move inversely to prices, so when prices increase, yields fall.

Stock markets around the world also nosedived at the start of the week but are rallying on Thursday as the prospect of Italy leaving the eurozone appears to recede.

SEE ALSO: A little-known part of Italy's constitution makes it almost impossible for the country to leave the euro

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0 Vote Compass: Many women don't trust Doug Ford, a potential problem for PCs in key ridings

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Ont Elxn First Debate 20180507

Doug Ford ranks as the least trustworthy of the four main party leaders among women, according to data from CBC's Vote Compass survey, a gap that could prove costly for the Tories on election day.

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0 2 UBS analysts just made a big market call that should have everyone a little worried

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Bond trader

  • A pair of UBS technical strategists said there's "growing evidence" that the benchmark US 10-year yield has topped for the year. 
  • If that's the case, they say it would be a "huge game changer on the macro side."
  • The rebound in the 10-year above 3% has partly been driven by expectations that US inflation and economic growth would improve. 
  • A reversal in yields could signal the opposite. 

Many on Wall Street have tried and failed to call the end of the three-decade-long bull market in bonds.

As the 10-year yield recently approached and leapt above 3%, meaning bond prices were falling, this call was whispered again by market commentators.

But a pair of technical analysts at UBS don't see the bond bull market ending soon — at least not in 2018, even as traders make record bets for the opposite.

"With the break of the 2017 bull trend in US 10-year yields we have relatively clear evidence that our suggested major 2018 yield top is in, which de facto would be a huge game changer on the macro side," Michael Riesner and Marc Müller said in a note on Tuesday. 

The rebound in the 10-year above 3%, fundamentally speaking, has partly been driven by the expectation that US inflation would increase. A drop in yields, as the analysts forecast, could signal a reversal of the so-called reflation theme, which is predicated on stronger economic growth and an extension of the nine-year long expansion.

 "It would simply imply that the 2016 reflation cycle has topped and it means we are just at the beginning of a major rotation from cyclical stocks back into defensives, which underperformed more than 2 years," Riesner and Müller said.

Their call for lower yields is on the other side of Treasury speculators, who, on net, recently made record short bets on the 10-year, according to data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. But last week, some speculators were likely squeezed out of their short positions as political turmoil in Europe bid up bond prices and sent yields tumbling from above 3%. 

"With last week’s significant reversal in US yields, we have growing evidence that the May 15th yield top at 3.11% represents our anticipate [sic] major 2018 yield top," Riesner and Müller said. They expect the 10-year to fall to as low as 2% late this year. 

Besides the speculative positioning, they're watching the charts, as would be expected of technical analysts, who study chart patterns in making forecasts. They said that the 10-year broke its September 2017 bull trend, signaling the recent run-up in yield was over.

Screen Shot 2018 05 30 at 3.52.50 PM

SEE ALSO: MACQUARIE: The safest places investors usually flock to are getting wrecked — here's what to stick with when markets are in turmoil

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0 The market’s top-performing stock picker shares his advice for one day conquering Wall Street

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0 A top Google scientist wrote a prophetic email warning that its military AI contract would be 'red meat' for critics

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Fei Fei Li

  • A Google scientist warned in an internal email that the company's involvement in the US Department of Defense's Project Maven would be "red meat" for critics.
  • The message, seen by The New York Times, proved prophetic after there has been a huge backlash against Google, both internally and externally, over the Pentagon drone contract.
  • Furious staff have flooded message boards, attended fractious meetings, created anti-Maven stickers, and resigned in protest. Academics have written to Google asking it to withdraw from the project.
  • Google plans to create a list of principles about its use of artificial intelligence for military means.

A senior Google scientist warned in an email that winning a military AI contract would spark a controversy which would be totally out of the company's control.

The email was disclosed in a detailed New York Times report, which charts the backlash against Google, both internally and externally, after the firm won a slice of the US Department of Defense's "Project Maven."

The Pentagon program will use artificial intelligence to interpret video images. The Department of Defense said machine learning is critical to "maintain advantages over increasingly capable adversaries and competitors," but critics say Google's involvement could help improve the accuracy of drone missile strikes.

Fei-Fei Li, the chief scientist for AI at Google Cloud, issued her warning in an email exchange last September about how to publicise Google's role in Project Maven.

In the message to Google's Head of Defense and Intelligence Sales Scott Frohman, she reportedly said: "Avoid at ALL COSTS any mention or implication of AI. Weaponized AI is probably one of the most sensitized topics of AI — if not THE most. This is red meat to the media to find all ways to damage Google."

In a statement to the New York Times, Li doubled down on her email: "I believe in human-centered AI to benefit people in positive and benevolent ways. It is deeply against my principles to work on any project that I think is to weaponize AI."

Furious staff flood message boards, create anti-Maven stickers, and resign in protest

Her remarks turned out to be prophetic, with Google's involvement in Project Maven stoking strong feelings, as many pointed to the company's "don't be evil" motto.

Around 4,000 Google staff signed a letter to CEO Sundar Pichai urging the company to end the controversial contract with the Department of Defense, while around a dozen employees resigned in protest, according to Gizmodo. More than 200 academics and researchers also demanded Google pull out of the deal.

Sundar Pichai Google I/O CEO

The New York Times reported that Project Maven has "fractured" the workforce, leading to several internal meetings where staff around the world have listened to explanations from senior management. Internal message boards have also been flooded with comments about the deal.

One outgoing engineer petitioned to rename a conference room after Clara Immerwahr, a German chemist who killed herself in 1915 after protesting the use of science in warfare. "Do the Right Thing" stickers have also appeared in Google's New York office, according to the New York Times.

"Even within this free-expression workplace, longtime employees said, the Maven project has roiled Google beyond anything in recent memory," The New York Times said.

Google to come up with military AI "principles"

Google declined to comment when contacted by Business Insider.

The New York Times said Pichai addressed the matter at an all-staff meeting last Thursday, telling employees that the firm intends to come up with a list of principles about its use of artificial intelligence for military means. These will stop the use of AI in weaponry, Google said.

Separately, Diane Greene, the chief executive of Google Cloud, has reassured staff that its Project Maven involvement is "not for lethal purposes" and the deal is only worth $9 million.

SEE ALSO: A former Googler leading the charge against AI weapons says her time at Google taught her that even 'nice' people can make bad moral decisions

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0 A LA-based startup is trying to convince Hollywood that artificial intelligence is better at picking hit shows that networks and studios

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  • The startup Fresno Unlimited says it can make web series that have a better chance at being hits – thanks to artificial intelligence.
  • The company's proprietary tech can also be used to distribute these shows directly to audiences who are most likely to watch – they say.
  • Fresno has already worked with Jimmy Kimmel on a web original, and plans to announce three new shows this summer. And the firm has just tapped former Hulu executive (JP) Colaco as its new president of revenue and media.

There are dozens of production companies in Los Angeles promising some sort of unique knack for making shows that connect with those younger consumers who live on digital platforms.

But one startup claims it knows exactly what people want to watch, and how get it in front of them – thanks to artificial intelligence.

The venture-backed Fresno Unlimited has built a platform that pulls data from social media and other digital outlets to help content creators figure out what genres and topics are ripe for potential series. So far, it's raised $8 million, with investors including famed ex-Facebook engineer Chamath Palihapitiya, via his firm Social Capital. 

Fresno also uses that same AI platform – which it calls PCH – to help isolate individual consumers on social media platforms and push that AI-informed content straight to them.

It's the kind of pro-machine, Silicon Valley thinking that would seem to be at odds with Hollywood, known for its dedication to artists, as well as the many gatekeepers who use connections, research, experience and their guts to decide which shows and movies get made.

To help bridge that gap, Fresno is tapping someone with experience speaking both languagues. The firm has just tapped Jean-Paul (JP) Colaco  as its new president, revenue and media.  Colaco spent six years building Hulu, before leaving the web video outlet for stints at the now-defunct short form video startup Vessel and, most recently, the virtual reality entertainment venture Jaunt VR.


Despite its less proven premise, Fresno Unlimited says it is attracting serious Hollywood interest. Last year, the company produced a Facebook series featuring Jimmy Kimmel, and it expects to announce three more original series featuring name talent sometime this summer.

"We think we've found a better way," said Fresno founder and CEO Rob Goldberg. "We can use machine learning, data and insights to minimize the failure rate and even predict what people want."

Goldberg said he can't yet fully explain exactly how Fresno's AI works, or where it pulls all of its data from without spilling secrets. Some of it comes from publicly available source and some is proprietary, he said.

Okay, but how does AI help make a better show exactly? Goldberg mentioned a series that is in the works with a popular actress who was originally interested in producing a web show about art collecting.

Fresno Unlimited's tech found that only few people were predisposed to watch something that niche. But a much larger potential audience, while intimidated by the art gallery world, associated art with cool Instagram images and the like. So the company is now working with the actress to produce a show with a broader appeal.

For his part, Colaco said he was drawn to Fresno by the idea that data and science can actually make content more predictable, and distribution more precise.

"You're potentially increasing the likelihood that you can create a hit. you're making it easier for people to consume," he said. "It's harder and harder marketer and creators to find audiences. If we do this right, brands should be able align with super premium content and the engagement for their ads should be higher."

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0 Mike Pompeo ate filet mignon with a hardline North Korean official, and tried to save the Trump peace summit

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kim yong chol pompeo dinner toast

  • Mike Pompeo met Kim Yong Chol, a North Korean official with a bad reputation, on Wednesday.
  • They had a lavish steak dinner served on State Department tableware in a Manhattan high-rise.
  • The display of friendship is part of diplomatic efforts to save a summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un due in less than two weeks.
  • They are trying to hash out sharply differing ideas of denuclearizing North Korea.
  • The meeting is remarkable as it is the Trump administration's first taste of the Kim regime unfiltered by mediators like South Korea.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sat down for a steak dinner with an infamous North Korean official as part of a diplomatic frenzy dedicated to resurrecting the cancelled summit between Donald trump and Kim Jong Un.

Pompeo met Kim Yong Chol, the vice chairman of North Korea's Party Central Committee and a former intelligence chief, for dinner in New York on Wednesday.

The men and two aides went to a high-rise building in east Manhattan, and ate a high-class menu served on State Department crockery in a "working dinner" designed to help hash out the two countries' dramatically different ideas of how North Korea should handle its nuclear weapons program.

kim yong chol

Along with Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol were Andrew Kim, a senior CIA official and North Korea expert, and an unnamed North Korean aide.

The US has demanded that North Korea abandon all of its nuclear weapons, while Pyongyang has insisted that it needs nuclear weapons for yong chol pompeo dinner labelled

Experts are skeptical as to whether Pyongyang will really comply with full denuclearization, no matter what concessions it receives in return.

Trump cancelled a highly-anticipated summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore last week, blaming "tremendous anger and open hostility" from North Korea.

However, officials both sides have since said they are still working toward making the June 12 meeting happen.

US and North Korean officials have continued to meet for pre-summit negotiations in Singapore, while the US invited Kim Yong Chol to a meeting on American soil, the type of which has not taken place for decades.

Fine dining diplomacy

Pompeo and Kim's private dinner took place near the United Nations headquarters in Midtown East, Manhattan, the BBC reported. It lasted around 90 minutes.

Here's the menu:


Bibb lettuce and spring pea salad starter with burrata cheese, ramp pesto, and shaved crudité

Main course

Filet mignon with corn purée, blanched celeriac, and pan-wilted spinach


Viennese chocolate soufflé with homemade vanilla ice cream

Photos of the dinner showed Pompeo, Kim, and two aides smiling and toasting each other.

kim yong chol pompeo dinner menu

kim yong chol pompeo signed menuPompeo tweeted after the dinner: "Good working dinner with Kim Yong Chol in New York tonight. Steak, corn, and cheese on the menu."

The pair also signed a menu after the meal.

Controversial figure

Kim, the country's former intelligence chief, is the highest-ranking North Korean official to visit the US since 2000, when then-leader Kim Jong Il sent Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok to Washington.

This is also Kim Yong Chol's first visit to the US. Because he has been sanctioned by the US Treasury Department twice, he was given a sanctions waiver to make this trip, The Guardian reported.

The 72-year-old is a controversial figure among South Koreans. He is believed to be behind the sinking of a South Korean Navy ship in 2010 that killed 46 sailors, in which Pyongyang has denied involvement.

He is also thought to be behind the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures in response to the James Franco and Seth Rogen movie "The Interview," which insulted Kim Jong Un.

kim yong chol pompeo handshake

SEE ALSO: What we know about Kim Yong Chol

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0 Wearing glasses could really mean you're smarter, according to a new study

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jimmy zooey

  • There could be some truth to the idea that smart people wear glasses.
  • Research has consistently associated poor eyesight with higher cognitive function, and a new study adds to the body of evidence.
  • But there are several reasons the association exists in the first place.
  • Also, it's important to note that intelligence is subjective and many genetic and environmental factors are at play.

Nerds wear glasses — or that's what society taught us to believe growing up. In TV shows and movies, the clever characters almost always have bad eyesight. You can probably think of a few kids in your school classes who followed the trend, too.

There are a few theories for where the association came from, some of which are discussed in a thread on Quora. One is that if you have bad eyesight, you're more likely to sit at the front and easily ignore the people behind you, leading to better learning.

Another is that having an accessory on your face immediately makes you look different and thus an outsider — and kids aren't always nice to those. So perhaps in lieu of popularity, kids with glasses turn to books and academia. Additionally, as pointed out by an article in Inverse, people who can't see well aren't likely to be as involved in sports, which can be isolating at school.

According to a new study, published in the journal Nature Communications, the association may run deeper at the genetic level. The research found an association with mypoia — the scientific work for shortsightedness — and greater cognitive function.

Bad eyesight being linked to intelligence is a good headline, so it has been picked up on in the news, but the study actually looked at many genetic characteristics that were related to having better cognitive function.

The researchers, led by Gail Davies from the University of Edinburgh, analysed data from over 300,000 people aged between 16 and 102 who had taken part in previous studies in Europe, North America, and Australia.

"This study, the largest genetic study of cognitive function, has identified many genetic differences that contribute to the heritability of thinking skills," she said. "The discovery of shared genetic effects on health outcomes and brain structure provides a foundation for exploring the mechanisms by which these differences influence thinking skills throughout a lifetime."

Overall, there were 148 regions of DNA that were associated with having better cognitive function, 58 of which have never been reported before. And one of the specifics was how subjects with high cognitive ability were about 30% more likely to have genes associated with bad eyesight than others, according to the results.

As well as supposedly higher intelligence, the genetic factors associated with higher cognitive function also seemed to be linked to better cardiovascular heath, decreased risk of lung cancer, better mental health, and living longer.

The study didn't investigate the causation for the findings. According to another lead researcher, Ian Deary, more research is needed to see the bigger picture, but the findings could help with understanding brain diseases like Alzheimer's.

"We also need to study our results closely to see what they can tell us about the possibility of understanding the declines in cognitive function that happen with illness and in older age," he said.

This study wasn't the first to find the association between poor eyesight and cognitive function, as myopia has been consistently associated with intelligence. For example one paper, published in the Lancet in 1988, found that out of 5,943 poor sighted and 9,891 regular sighted 18-year-old men, those with myopia had significantly higher test scores and educational levels.

The exact reasons are not known, and it's worth mentioning that intelligence is highly subjective and almost impossible to measure. Also, there are so many factors, both genetic and environmental, that contribute to how someone's brain turns out.

What is clear, though, is that the association doesn't seem to be going away any time soon. There is evidence that wearing glasses whether you need to or not makes people think you're more intelligent anyway, which is why defense lawyers recommend clients wear them during a trial.

In other words, whether it's based on genetic truth or not, glasses are an easy prop to convey intelligence. And if used in real life, or on screen, the majority of your audience will understand what you're getting at.

SEE ALSO: Eating one egg a day could significantly reduce your risk of heart disease, according to a major new study

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0 'All the good women have already been snapped up': The 'pitiful and patronizing' excuses British companies give for their lack of diversity

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Board Room

  • A government report into gender balance at boardroom level reveals some shocking excuses for a lack of diversity.
  • Preview of the long-awaited Hampton-Alexander Review into boardroom diversity sheds light on lack of female board members.
  • Excuses included that: "All the 'good' women have already been snapped up."

"We have one woman already on the board, so we are done - it is someone else's turn."

This was one of many comments from a UK government commissioned report into gender balance, which revealed some old-fashioned attitudes to women board members at FTSE 100 companies.

Responding to the comments which were published on Wednesday ahead of the Hampton-Alexander Review's full release in June, British business minister Andrew Griffiths called the statements from top UK companies "pitiful and patronizing." 

The government included a handful of the most ridiculous excuses companies gave for a lack of gender-balance on their boards. Here are the 10 "best" picked out:

  1. "I don't think women fit comfortably into the board environment."
  2. "There aren't that many women with the right credentials and depth of experience to sit on the board - the issues covered are extremely complex."
  3. "Most women don't want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board."
  4. "Shareholders just aren't interested in the make-up of the board, so why should we be?"
  5. "My other board colleagues wouldn't want to appoint a woman on our board."
  6. "All the 'good' women have already been snapped up."
  7. "We have one woman already on the board, so we are done - it is someone else's turn."
  8. "There aren't any vacancies at the moment - if there were I would think about appointing a woman."
  9. "We need to build the pipeline from the bottom - there just aren't enough senior women in this sector."
  10. "I can't just appoint a woman because I want to."

Amanda Mackenzie, chief executive of Business in the Community, an organisation that advocates for corporate social responsibility, said: "As you read this list of excuses, you might think it’s 1918, not 2018. It reads like a script from a comedy parody, but it’s true."

The Department for Business said progress has been made with statistics showing that since 2011 the number of all-male FTSE 350 company boards has fallen from 152 to 10. But the list shows there is more to be done. 

The British government wants women to make up at least a third of boards for the UK's 350 biggest companies by 2020, and is using reports such as  Hampton-Alexander Review, which will be released in June, to raise awareness of the issue.

SEE ALSO: Companies with more female executives make more money, Bank of America says

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0 'We rolled this out wrong': Spotify CEO regrets the way R Kelly and XXXTentacion were banned (SPOT)

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Spotify Daniel Ek

  • Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said the way the firm banned musicians R Kelly and XXXTentacion from its playlists was badly handled.
  • R Kelly and XXXTentacion were booted from Spotify's playlists earlier this month, but XXXTentacion was reinstated while he awaits trial for charges of domestic abuse.
  • Ek didn't say if R Kelly would be reinstated but explained the ban came from new policies around hate speech and hateful conduct.
  • He said it was difficult to act as the "moral police" for art.

Spotify's chief executive Daniel Ek has said he regretted the way his company banned musicians R Kelly and XXXTentacion without really explaining why.

The company removed R Kelly from its playlists earlier this month in the wake of allegations that he had run sex cults involving young women. It also banned and then reinstated XXXTentacion, who is awaiting trial for charges of domestic abuse and witness harassment, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

To be clear, neither artist was banned entirely from Spotify, but both were removed from its playlists.

Speaking at the Code Conference on Wednesday, Ek didn't give an update on whether R Kelly would be reinstated, but did say he regretted the way the whole incident was handled.


The ban came from two new internal policies, he said.

"One was about hate speech, and I think that's less controversial," Ek said. "Then there's the other one about conduct and, just being very honest, we were very vague."

Here's what Spotify has to say officially about hateful conduct:

"We don’t censor content because of an artist’s or creator’s behavior, but we want our editorial decisions — what we choose to program — to reflect our values. When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful (for example, violence against children and sexual violence), it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator."

Ek said the company could have handled the communication around this policy better: "The whole thing was to make sure we didn't have hate speech, it was never about punishing one individual artist or even naming one individual artist. So I think coming back to my responsibility as a leader, I think we rolled this out wrong and we could have done a better job."

He said it was difficult for Spotify to act as the "moral police," adding that editorialising music took the company into tricky legal turf, like whether a musician had been charged with an offence. "We're a platform, we want art, we want a lot of diverse opinions," he said.

There are some things which are obvious hate speech though.

"There are certain things where I think the rules should be pretty clear," Ek said. "If you are talking about being KKK [Ku Klux Klan] and doing that stuff, it's obvious we don't want that on the service."

SEE ALSO: Spotify has removed R. Kelly from its playlists after abusive 'sex cult' allegations

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0 Two MPs are locked in a Twitter brawl over race and identity. Time to talk?

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For months now, two MPs — Liberal Celina Caesar-Chavannes and Conservative Maxime Bernier — have been locked in a very public Twitter battle over identity politics.

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0 NDP, PCs look to pick up Liberal seats in southwestern Ontario

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0 Canada to urge G7 partners to rethink foreign aid at meeting focused on gender equality

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Canada will prod its G7 partners to rethink how foreign aid is delivered - to challenge the system's "global architecture" and treat women and girls as agents of change instead of as beneficiaries.

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0 How a Canadian doctor turned personal tragedy into a quest to transform lives in India

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Dr. Chandra Sankurathri left Canada 22 years ago, grieving for the family he lost in the Air India bombing. What he did with that grief can only be called inspiring.

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0 Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says securing investment from Warren Buffett would fulfil a 'fanboy' career goal

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Dara Khosrowshahi and Warren Buffett

  • Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said he would fulfil a career ambition in securing investment from Warren Buffett after Bloomberg revealed that talks took place over a $3 billion deal.
  • Khosrowshahi said he is a Buffett "fanboy," but doing a deal with Berkshire Hathaway is not a top priority right now.
  • He confirmed that Uber remains on course to IPO in 2019.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said he would fulfil a career-long ambition in securing investment from Warren Buffett — but the deal is not top of his priority list right now.

Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway came close to taking a $3 billion (£2.2 billion) stake in Uber, but deal the fell apart because of disagreements over the size and terms of the potential investment.

Soon after the news broke, Khosrowshahi and Buffett confirmed that the talks did take place. The Uber CEO told CNBC that "we did have discussions" and, although not all the details of the Bloomberg report were accurate, the deal was a very tempting prospect.

"One of my business goals in life has been to get Warren Buffett to invest in something that I'm involved in and, so far, I failed," Khosrowshahi said. "His brand, his smarts are unparalleled. I'm a Warren Buffett fanboy."

The feeling was mutual with Buffett saying on Wednesday that he is a "great admirer" of Khosrowshahi. The Uber boss said it's "always possible" that talks could resume, but there "has to be a match."

"We are a company that has an enormous growth trajectory, but at the same time, that comes with considerable risk. I don't think we necessarily fit in with the typical Warren Buffett investment. Maybe we can be a different kind of an investment, a portfolio diversification play for him," Khosrowshahi explained.

The former Expedia CEO said, however, that doing business with Buffett is not his "first priority" right now. "First priority is to continue building a management team, continue to invest in the brand and get us in a position where we can build a big business and, along the way, go public," he added.

Khosrowshahi confirmed that Uber remains on course to IPO in 2019. "Lots of things can happen in the world but we have a reasonable buffer as well, so I think we're in a pretty good spot," he said.

SEE ALSO: Warren Buffett reportedly tried to invest $3 billion in Uber

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0 Stick bug eggs can survive being eaten, pooped out by birds: study

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The stick bug has used nature to its advantage by looking like a stick to avoid being eaten. And researchers have discovered that this cleverly disguised insect may be using another bit of nature to its advantage: getting eaten by birds.

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0 'Amazing' Manitoba double-data offers spark questions over why only some provinces get the best phone deals

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0 A 14th straight YouGov poll shows Britain wishes it had never voted to leave the EU

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Theresa May Angela Merkel

  • A 14th straight YouGov poll shows that a majority of people in the UK now believe the decision to leave the European Union was "wrong."
  • Prime Minister Theresa May's net approval rating has moved upward.
  • May has also made several incremental compromises that suggest she is negotiating for a "soft Brexit" from the EU.
  • Is May's popularity somehow pegged to the country's newfound distaste for leaving?

LONDON — The British public has moved solidly into "Bregret" territory as a 14th straight YouGov poll shows that a majority of people now believe the decision to leave the EU was "wrong." This was the most recent poll result: 

  • In hindsight, do you think Britain was right or wrong to vote to leave the European Union?
  • Right: 43
  • Wrong: 44
  • Don't Know: 13
  • Source: YouGov poll published May 20, 2018.

The 1% difference is within the margin of error. However, a majority of the British have believed Brexit is "wrong" since about summer 2017, according to YouGov's polls. Prior to that, they were marginally in favour of the EU Referendum result from 2016.

This chart (below) shows all those YouGov polls grouped into monthly averages. Opinion of Brexit has been negative, on average, for nine straight months:

opinion poll brexit right or wrong

The Brexit deadline is March 2019, just 10 months away. The polls suggest that as Britain goes through its historic departure from Europe, a majority of people wish it never happened.

At the same time, Prime Minister May's net approval rating has moved upward as she inches toward a soft Brexit, according to a moving average of opinion polls compiled by Pantheon Macroeconomics:

Theresa May approval ratings brexit

Pantheon analyst Samuel Tombs published the two charts next to each other in his most recent UK Chartbook, a monthly roundup of the most crucial charts on British economics.

Tombs has argued repeatedly — like a number of his colleagues in The City and on Wall Street — that the UK government will eventually cave and opt for a soft Brexit because the economic cost of crashing out of the EU would cause too much political damage to May's government. Also, a soft Brexit — in which Britain would stay in a customs union with the EU and remain close to its regulations — is the only compromise that can both command a majority in Parliament and go a long way to preserving the invisible Irish border.

Might May's popularity be pegged to the country's newfound distaste for leaving the EU? One potential theory is that remain voters prefer May as prime minister to the hardline rivals in her party who would prefer a "no deal" scenario that puts the economy at risk.

SEE ALSO: POLL: A majority of British people regret voting for Brexit

AND: Two trends propping up economic growth in Britain have suddenly reversed as more consumers realise the damage from Brexit is permanent, not transient

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