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[The Economists] The World In Brief

© SimonXu 管理员   /  2017-8-21 20:11  /   0 人收藏 版权:保留作者信息

Extract from The Economists 8/12

Tensions rose between North Korea and America. The regime ofI(imJong Un threat­ened to strike at American armed forces in Guam, a response to a warning from Donald Trump to unleash "fire and fury like the world has never seen" if the regime con­tinued to threaten America with its nuclear weapons. The heated rhetoric worried many and eclipsed an earlier deci­sion by the UN Security Coun­cil to impose stringent new sanctions on North Korea.

An internal memo written by a male engineer at Google that claimed biological factors accounted for the gender gap in Silicon Valley sparked an uproar.James Damore said he had wanted to start an "honest discussion" about the lack of women in senior jobs, a dis­cussion he argued was impos­sible in the tech industry be­cause of an intolerance of views from outside the liberal mainstream. Google subse­quently sacked Mr Damore for violating its code of conduct.

After weeks of negotiations, Vantiv struck a deal to buy Worldpay, which the compa­nies valued at £9.3bn ($12bn). Based in Cincinnati, Vantiv is one of America's biggest pro­cessors of credit-card pay­ments and electronic money­transfers. World pay is Britain's biggest payment-processor. Vantiv's shareholders wiJl own 57% of the combined group, to be caJled Worldpay.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia scrapped bonuses for its chief executive and senior management, after Australia's financial-intelJi­gence agency charged it with breaching money-laundering and anti-terror laws. The law­suit alleges that the bank lapsed in checking 53,500 transactions over a three-year period at its "intelligent" cash machines, where money can be deposited anonymously. The bank has blamed a soft­ware error, since rectified, for not alerting the authorities to suspicious activity.

Royal Bank of Scotland reported a net profit of £939m ($1.2bn) for the first half of the year, its best six-month perfor­mance in three years. The bank booked some of the costs it incurred from a recent settle­ment with America's housing finance agency for mis-selling risky mortgage-backed securi­ties. The Department of Justice is expected to levy a separate fine in the case by the end of the year, which may push RBS into an annual loss. The British government still retains a majority stake in RBS, nine years after its bail-out.

The national statistics agency in Greece suspended public publication of "flash" esti­mates of GDP. Officials from the IMF and euro zone have raised concerns that these initial calculations of Greek economic growth vary greatly from the "provisional" esti­mates that follow. Flash esti­mates will be provided again once the number-crunchers improve their data-gathering.

Altice, a French telecoms company that has splurged on debt-laden acquisitions, was reported to be interested in buying Charter Communica­tions, America's second­biggest provider of cable-TV. Other companies are circling Charter, notably SoftBank of Japan, lured by its 26m sub­scribers. A deal could be worth upwards of $1.8obn.

Disney said it planned to launch two online streaming networks-one for its films and the other for its ESPN sports channel-and that in two years' time its new movies would no longer be available on Netflix. It is the biggest move yet by a Hollywood studio to take back control of the distribution of its content online. From 2019 fans will have to sign up for Disney's online services if they want to watch the latest releases featur­ing Disney characters, in­cluding those from its Pixar studio subsidiary.

Meanwhile, Netflix made its first-ever acquisition by agree­ing to buy Millarworld, a publisher of comic books. Netflix will produce its own programming based on Millar­world's stable of characters, though the deal does not include the successful Kings­man and Kick-Ass series.

A jury in Manhattan convicted Martin Shlcreli of three counts of securities fraud related to hedge funds he once ran. Mr Shkreli hit the headlines in 2015 when a drugs company he founded increased the price of some medicines by up to 5,000%. His nonchalant response to that furore made him the bete noire of Wall Street. He was similarly laid back at his fraud trial, receiving a rebuke from the judge to stop talking. He will be sentenced within the next few months.

At the conclusion of his trial on bribery charges, LeeJae-yong, the de facto head of the Samsung conglomerate, fought back tears as he denied any wrongdoing. Prosecutors are seeking a 12-year prison sentence. The case is connect­ed to the scandal that led to the downfall of Park Geun-hye as South Korea's president. The court will pronounce its ver­dict on Mr Lee on August 25th.

India's government said the number of tax returns filed by this stage of the year had risen by 25% compared with the same period in 2016. It attribut­ed this to its crackdown on tax evasion through measures such as demonetisation, which took large-denom­ination notes out of circula­tion. Still, the 28m tax returns filed so far is about the same number as in 2013.

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