Arms trade at highest since cold war; After Brexit, likelihood of Nexit; China’s leftover men

1 Arms trade at highest since cold war (Saeed Kamali Dehghan in The Guardian) The global transfer of major weapons systems rose over the past five years to the highest volume since the end of the cold war as the Middle East nearly doubled its imports, according to an annual report on arms sales.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) said that more weapons were delivered between 2012 and 2016 than any other five-year period since 1990. Saudi Arabia, which leads a military intervention in Yemen that has cost hundreds of civilian lives, was the world’s second largest importer after India, increasing its intake by 212%, mainly from the US and the UK.

Asia was the main recipient region in the world as India dwarfed regional rivals, China and Pakistan, by accounting for 13% of the global imports. While India received most of its arms from Russia, the Saudis relied heavily on US arms. US and Russia together supplied more than half of all exports. China, France and Germany were also among the top five exporters.

Despite staggering figures in the Middle East, which includes a 245% increase in the imports of arms by Qatar, Iran, which is under an arms embargo, received only 1.2% of total arms transfers to the region. In 2016, Iran took delivery of S-300 air defence missile systems from Russia in its first significant import of major weapons system since 2007.

The high demands for arsenals in the Middle East was in contrast with the plummeting oil prices. China solidified its position as a top-tier supplier by increasing exports by 6.2% compared to 3.8% in the period between 2007 and 2011, while Germany decreased its exports by 36% in the same period. Algeria was the largest importer in Africa.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/20/global-arms-weapons-trade-highest-point-since-cold-war-era

2 After Brexit, likelihood of Nexit (Khaleej Times) For a small nation that has grown hugely wealthy thanks to centuries of doing business far and wide, the political mood in the Netherlands has turned surprisingly inward. As a March 15 parliamentary election looms in the Netherlands – one of the founding members of the European Union – popular lawmaker Geert Wilders is dominating polls with an isolationist manifesto that calls for the Netherlands “to be independent again. So out of the EU”.

After Britons voted last year to divorce from the EU, could a Dutch departure – known here as “Nexit”, after “Brexit” – be close behind? “I see the European Union as an old Roman Empire that is ceasing to exist. It will happen,” Wilders said.
Wilders’ Party for Freedom is a serious contender to win the popular vote, with most polls a month out from the election showing it ahead of all other parties. Over the past dozen years, the Dutch have already voted in referenda against EU proposals twice.

Few analysts think Nexit would materialise: Despite his popularity, Wilders will struggle to find coalition partners among mainstream parties, which shun him and his strident anti-EU rhetoric. Then again, few observers predicted last year that Britain would vote to become the first country to leave the EU, so the worries are real about the possible effects of a Nexit – or a further disintegration of European unity driven by the rise of nationalist populism throughout the continent.

An exit from the EU would likely deal a huge blow to Rotterdam, a cosmopolitan city known for its port, one of the world’s busiest. The city employs 90,000 people, and a further 90,000 are directly linked to its activities elsewhere in the country. Port of Rotterdam corporate strategist Michiel Nijdam believed a Dutch exit from the EU seemed unlikely, though not impossible.

http://khaleejtimes.com/business/economy/after-brexit-will-nexit-follow

3 China’s leftover men (Rob Budden on BBC) In China, there is a name for unmarried men over 30. Shengnan, meaning “leftover men” have yet to find a wife – and in a country with a growing gender gap, that’s a big problem.

China has many millions more men than women, a hangover of the country’s one-child policy, which was overturned in 2015, though its effects will last decades more. The gender imbalance is making it hard for many men to find a partner – and the gap is likely to widen.

By 2020, it’s estimated there will be 30 million more men than women looking for a partner. In his book, The Demographic Future, American political economist Nicholas Eberstadt cites projections that by 2030, more than a quarter of Chinese men in their 30s will not have married.

Now, with far fewer women than men, the race to find a suitable partner—and win her over before someone else does—has led some men to go to great lengths to find a wife. The longstanding tradition of meeting a potential partner has given way to modernity. Online dating is growing fast in China, as elsewhere, and messaging apps such as WeChat are increasingly popular ways of getting to know people.

http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20170213-why-millions-of-chinese-men-are-staying-single

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Saudis prepare for Aramco IPO, world’s biggest; When Zuckerberg sets the rules; Fake news isn’t a new phenomenon

1 Saudis prepare for Aramco IPO, world’s biggest (Khaleej Times) Saudi Arabia is considering two options for the shape of Saudi Aramco when it sells shares in the national oil giant next year: a global industrial conglomerate, and a specialised international oil company, industry and banking sources said.

The listing of Aramco, expected to be the world’s biggest initial public offer and raise tens of billions of dollars, is a centrepiece of the government’s ambitious plan – known as Vision 2030 – to diversify the economy beyond oil.

When the plan was publicly released in June last year, it pledged to “transform Aramco from an oil-producing company into a global industrial conglomerate”. But now Saudi officials and their advisers are debating whether to make Aramco “a Korean chaebol”, as one source said, referring to sprawling South Korean conglomerates, or a specialised company focused purely on oil and gas.

A specialised company might be easier to value because of its simplicity and, since the risks in its business would be clearer, achieve a higher price for its shares. Other than its core oil and gas production, exploration and refining businesses, Aramco – which employs more than 55,000 people – has plans to build solar and wind power facilities.

As the kingdom’s biggest company and one of its most efficient, it is being pressed into service to jump-start industrial projects that are too big or daunting for the private sector. It is developing a $5 billion ship repair and building complex on the east coast, and working with General Electric on a $400 million forging and casting venture.

As the IPO approaches, officials are asking themselves whether the domestic and international investors who will be asked to buy Aramco shares really want exposure to such a complicated array of assets. Last year, Prince Mohammed said he expected the IPO would value Aramco at a minimum of $2 trillion, and that the figure might end up being higher. But this will depend partly on the tax regime which Aramco faces.

http://khaleejtimes.com/business/markets/saudis-discuss-shape-of-aramco-ipo

2 When Zuckerberg sets the rules (Carole Cadwalladr in The Guardian) Last week, Mark Zuckerberg set out a new mission for the company he has created. “In times like these, the most important thing we at Facebook can do is develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us,” he says. A global community that “prevents harm, helps during crises and rebuilds afterwards”.

A role that might be more accurately described as this: government. Because that’s what this letter is, a template for Facebook’s role in a new world order. A supranational power that exists above and beyond the nation state. A digital interface between you and everything else: your friends, the news, the world.

But where does that power end? Who holds it to account? What are the limits on it? Because the answer is there are none. Facebook’s power and dominance, its knowledge of every aspect of its users’ intimate lives, its ability to manipulate their – our – world view, its limitless ability to generate cash, is already beyond the reach of any government.

He is wrestling with the question of how Facebook can change the world. Whereas the question is: do we actually want Facebook to change the world? Do we want any corporation to have so much unchecked power? “In recent campaigns – from India across Europe to the US – we’ve seen the candidate with the largest and most engaged following on Facebook usually wins,” Zuckerberg writes.

Zuckerberg’s letter is a big deal. And yet, in the current news cycle, you may well have missed it. He released it on Thursday, coincidentally the same day on which Donald Trump denounced the press as the enemy of the people. A press whose financial model has been undermined by Google and Facebook. Which, we all have to hope, finds another financial model – and fast.

Because good intentions are not enough. It is not enough that Mark Zuckerberg is not an arrogant fool. Facebook is a corporation doing what corporations do: making money, grabbing market share, maximising profit.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/19/mark-zuckerberg-says-change-world-he-sets-rules

3 Fake news isn’t a new phenomenon (BBC) Fake news, false stories that masquerade as real news are not new. In the spring of 1917 some of Britain’s most influential newspapers published a gruesome story. Britain was at the time trying to bring China into the war on the Allied side.

In February a story appeared in the English-language North China Daily News that claimed the Kaiser’s forces were “extracting glycerine out of dead soldiers”. Rumours about processing dead bodies had been in circulation since 1915 but had not been presented as facts by any official source.

That changed in April when the Times and the Daily Mail published accounts from anonymous sources who claimed to have visited the Kadaververwertungsanstalt, or corpse-utilisation factory. The Times ran the story under the headline Germans and their Dead, attributing the claim to two sources – a Belgian newspaper published in England and a story that originally appeared in a German newspaper, Berliner Lokal-Anzeiger on 10 April.

The German government protested loudly against these “loathsome and ridiculous” claims. But their protests were drowned out by public expressions of horror from the Chinese ambassador. China declared war against Germany on 14 August 1917.

It was in 1925 that Sir Austen Chamberlain admitted, in a Commons statement, there was “never any foundation” for what he called “this false report”. In the same year the Conservative MP John Charteris – who served as head of intelligence – reportedly admitted, while on a lecture tour of the US, that he had fabricated the story.

In 1917 MI7 employed 13 officers and 25 paid writers, some whom moonlighted as “special correspondents” for national newspapers. One of their most talented agents was Major Hugh Pollard who combined his work in the propaganda department with the role of special correspondent for the Daily Express. After the war Pollard confessed his role in spreading the corpse factory lie to his cousin, Ivor Montague. But lies have consequences. During the 1930s the corpse factory lie was used by the Nazis as proof of British lies during the Great War.

http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-38995205

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Global stocks rise on hopes of Trump policy, EU growth; Ten Indian cities in list of 20 with worst air; Smartwatch no threat to the traditional

1 Global stocks rise on hopes of Trump policy, EU growth (San Francisco Chronicle) Global stocks rose Monday after President Donald Trump promised tax cuts for companies and appeared to steady relations with key Asian trading partners Japan and China. Upbeat economic forecasts from the European Union also helped buoy sentiment.

Investors pushed US indexes to a record on Friday, encouraged by strong company earnings and optimism over the Trump administration’s promises of tax cuts and less government regulation. Trump also appeared to back away from promises to declare Beijing and Tokyo manipulate their currencies and said he had a “very warm” phone conversation with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

Trump said Washington would honor its “one China” policy, which had been in question since he spoke to the leader of Taiwan after his election. Trump also met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and announced discussions of a possible bilateral trade deal.

The Trump-Abe meeting and Trump’s “One China” commitment “could allay some of the trade concerns in Asia and set free into the market more bullish bets,” Jingyi Pan of IG said in a report. “While it remains to be hashed out, President Donald Trump’s mention of a ‘level playing field’ on currency valuation also appears to reflect an amicable turn after the US president accused his visitors of currency manipulation.”

http://www.sfgate.com/news/world/article/Asian-stock-markets-gain-after-Wall-Street-hits-10927857.php

2 Ten Indian cities among 20 with worst air (The Guardian) Billions of people in cities around the world are exposed to dangerous air, but pollution levels vary widely – and the fast-growing cities of Asia and Africa are the worst affected.

We’ve broken down data from the World Health Organization on ultra-fine particles of less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5s) region by region. Paris’s air may have almost twice as many PM2.5s as WHO recommended levels (18 micrograms per cubic metre compared with 10µg/m³) – but Delhi’s air contains 122µg/m³, while Zabol, Iran, is the worst at 217µg/m³.

Tetovo in Macedonia – a city of 50,000 near the Kosovo border – has the worst PM2.5 air pollution in Europe, according to the WHO data. There are 10 Indian cities in the list of top 20 with the worst air.

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/datablog/2017/feb/13/most-polluted-cities-world-listed-region

3 Smartwatch no threat to the traditional (Manoj Nair in Gulf News) The time hasn’t come for a smartwatch revolution to take hold, and traditional luxury watchmakers are just fine with that.

“I think of them as a smart instrument like your phone or computer and helps you keep in touch,” said Raynald Aeschlimann, President and CEO of Omega. “It was an interesting way of thinking of carrying information and how you can get at it. “But a [luxury] watch is a totally different thing — it’s the spirit people are buying into. It’s not a storage place for information… but more like the ring you bought or some pens. They are full of emotions.”

Nearly two years from the launch of the Apple Watch — which was supposed to be the moment when smartwatches were to upend the traditional watch business — things haven’t actually panned out that way. For the tech giants, smartwatches still represent a niche with their sales universe. And during this period, they have not turned out to be the must have lifestyle-work accessory everyone needed to have.

But there have been other threats the Swiss watch industry has had to confront during this period. China’s crackdown on corruption meant sales of luxury timepieces was ticking along slowly, while another constant worry was the strength of the Swiss franc.

There are shifts that Omega — one of the crown jewels in the Swatch Group portfolio — is bringing on. Last month, it sold out a Limited Edition Speedmaster — all 2,012 pieces — in just over four hours exclusively through its online channels.

Selling online is not the only way Omega wants to connect with a younger buyer base — it can always call in star power to impress them. There’s the brand’s association with the James Bond movies, and George Clooney is always on hand to light up billboards with an Omega in hand. And for the younger set, Omega’s got Eddie Redmayne, the 35-year old with an best actor Oscar on his resume.

http://gulfnews.com/business/sectors/retail/smartwatch-led-revolution-fails-to-tick-along-1.1977588

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Rolls-Royce headed for historic loss; Mexico unites against Trump; Mulling a cashless society

1 Rolls-Royce headed for historic loss (Graham Ruddick in The Guardian) Rolls-Royce will report one of the biggest losses in British corporate history this week as Brexit and a corruption scandal leave an indelible mark on the famous aerospace company.

City analysts have forecast that Rolls could report a pre-tax loss of more than £4bn – its worst ever – due to the sharp decline in the value of the pound and the £671m penalty that the company has agreed to pay to settle corruption allegations.

Accounting rules mean Rolls will be forced to write down the value of its currency hedges to reflect sterling’s slump. The pound has lost almost a fifth of its value against the dollar since Britain voted to leave the EU last June. Rolls hedges billions of pounds of cash to protect itself against currency fluctuations because deals in the aerospace industry are conducted in dollars.

The financial results will also recognise the impact of the £671m penalty that Rolls agreed with authorities in the UK, US and Brazil to settle corruption charges. Although Rolls will make the payment over five years it is likely to recognise the full cost in the latest accounts as an impairment charge.

Rolls, which makes engines for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliners and Airbus’s A380 superjumbos among others, has been affected by lower-than expected demand for the wide-bodied airliners to which it supplies engines. But it has also been hurt by cuts to defence spending and the decline in the oil price, which has lowered demand from the offshore oil and gas industry for its marine products.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/feb/11/rolls-royce-bribery-settlement-brexit-propel-historic-losses

2 Mexico unites against Trump (BBC) Tens of thousands of people in Mexico have taken to the streets to protest against Donald Trump’s immigration policies and plan for a border wall. Demonstrators in more than a dozen Mexican cities, dressed in white, waved Mexican flags and anti-Trump placards.

Organisers said they wanted to send a message that Mexico was united against Mr Trump. They also criticised Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto for failing to tackle corruption and reduce violence. Demonstrators marching through the nation’s capital, Mexico City, carried signs of unity. One banner read: “Gracias, Trump, for unifying Mexico!”

Mr Trump’s plan to build a wall along the US border with Mexico has angered citizens in the country and Mr Pena Nieto has consistently refused to meet the US president’s demands to pay for it. “Mexico does not believe in walls,” he said.

Mr Trump’s crackdown on immigration has also created fear among Mexicans living in the US, who may face deportation under the president’s new measures. Mr Trump has signed three executive orders targeting crime and drug cartels with the aim of deporting illegal immigrants who have committed such crimes.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-38952359

3 Mulling a cashless society (Aref Al Ramli in Gulf News) For more than 200 years, the world has used cash as the basis of economic activity. But is that about to radically change with the rapid development of digital payment systems, products and services?

Doing a quick online search, there are conflicting theories about what a cashless society actually means and whether or not it is a pipe-dream that will never fully realise its potential. An article in Fast Co makes a compelling point: “…one thing is clear: As online shopping becomes yet more prevalent, and prepaid credit cards take the place of more and more low-value cash transactions, cash is well on its way to becoming obsolete.”

When you couple this with the emergence of technology like Near Field Communication (NFC) and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), which allows chip-enabled cards, mobile phones and even smart watches to conduct transactions with a mere waft of the payment device over a programmed payment point, it is hard to argue against the growth of cashless transactions.

Other technologies like the peer to peer payments will also limit the transfer of cash among friends, colleagues and others. The possibilities for the future of digital banking are exciting. The way in which we bank and conduct transactions is rapidly changing and it is being driven from both customers and through emerging technologies.

The solutions need to work for the society as a whole, and be meaningful, simple, efficient and secure and not just a fad or gimmick that works for a while and then becomes obsolete. If we continue to embrace the digital revolution and keep the customer at the heart of every decision, of every product development, then they will come with us on that journey.”

http://gulfnews.com/business/sectors/banking/cashless-society-a-pipe-dream-or-a-reality-1.1976802

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Record revenues for Renault; Brazil’s corruption scam spreads across Latin America; North Korea dares US with missile tests

1 Record revenues for Renault (BBC) French carmaker Renault has reported record annual revenues after a revamp of its range boosted sales. Revenues rose 13.1% to 51.2bn euros (£43.6bn) last year, slightly ahead of expectations, while net income jumped by nearly 20% to 3.54bn euros.

Earlier this week, Renault said it had sold 3.2 million vehicles last year, a 13.4% rise on 2015, with market share rising in all regions. The firm’s sales have now overtaken French rival Peugeot Citroen. Renault’s financial director Clotilde Delbos said 2016 had been “a very good year” for the carmaker, and the company had hit all of its targets.

Renault said it expected the global car market to grow by between 1.5% and 2% next year, with sales in Europe and France up 2%. It forecasts the markets in Brazil and Russia will be “stable”, but expects 5% growth in China and the Indian market to expand by 8%.

Last month, French authorities said they would investigate Renault over suspected “cheating” in diesel emissions tests. The Paris prosecutors office is to conduct a probe into “cheating on key parts” of vehicles and into the quality of the tests.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-38928776

2 Brazil’s corruption scam spread across Latin America (Emma Graham-Harrison in The Guardian) The fallout from a massive bribery scandal that helped to bring down a Brazilian president is spreading across Latin America, threatening to engulf leaders from Panama to Peru.

The workings of a secret “bribery department” at the Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht that suborned government officials around the world for years are being exposed by investigators. Meticulous schemes of graft laid out by witnesses, in plea deals and in leaked and seized documents show how the company funnelled $800m of payouts to politicians and parties in Latin America alone.

As prosecutors chase the trail of that cash, it has led them towards some of the region’s most prominent figures. Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, was accused in leaked testimony last year of taking campaign funds from Odebrecht, and the Panamanian president, Juan Carlos Varela, was implicated by a man who has himself been arrested in connection with the scandal. Both deny wrongdoing.

Perhaps the most surprising accusations came this week, when authorities implicated two men who have based their political careers on a reputation for integrity in countries plagued by graft. Peru sent out an Interpol arrest warrant for its former president Alejandro Toledo, on charges of taking some $20m in bribes. And Colombia’s chief prosecutor has said the country’s Nobel peace prize-winning president Juan Manuel Santos may have taken money for his re-election campaign. Both men have strongly denied the charges.

Authorities who offered a $30,000 reward for Toledo’s capture say he took the money in return for smoothing Odebrecht’s path to a lucrative contract for a road connecting Brazil to Peru’s Pacific coast. They have sought particular help from the US, where Toledo is a visiting scholar at Stanford University, and from Israel. His wife has Israeli citizenship and the country does not have an extradition treaty with Peru, so officials fear he may try to seek refuge there.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/11/brazils-corruption-scandal-spreads-across-south-america

3 North Korea dares US with missile test (San Francisco Chronicle) North Korea reportedly fired a ballistic missile in what would be its first such test of the year and an implicit challenge to President Donald Trump’s new administration. Details of the launch, including the type of missile, were scant.

There was no immediate confirmation from the North, which had recently warned it is ready to test its first intercontinental ballistic missile. The reports come as Trump was hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and just days before the North is to mark the birthday of leader Kim Jong Un’s late father, Kim Jong Il.

Trump ignored a shouted question about the developing situation as he, Abe and their wives posed for photos before heading to dinner at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile was fired from around Banghyon, North Pyongan Province, which is where South Korean officials have said the North test launched its powerful midrange Musudan missile on Oct. 15 and 20.

Though Pyongyang has been relatively quiet about the transfer of power to the Trump administration, its state media has repeatedly called for Washington to abandon its “hostile policy” and vowed to continue its nuclear and missile development programs until the US changes its diplomatic approach.

http://www.sfgate.com/news/world/article/South-Korea-says-North-Korea-test-fires-missile-10926060.php

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News Corp slides into loss; Tim Cook says fake news killing people’s minds; Ford bets $1bn on robotics startup

1 News Corp slides into loss (BBC) Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has reported a loss for the three months to December, amid a difficult environment for print advertising. The group made a loss of $219m compared with the same time last year when profits were $106m.

However, a growing demand for “accurate and timely journalism” was helping to lift subscriber numbers for some of its news outlets, it said. News Corp gets more than half its revenue from outside the US. The firm’s chief executive Robert Thomson said The Wall Street Journal now had more than 2.1 million paid subscribers and that for the first time, more than 50% of those subscribers were digital.

The group reported strong performances at its book publisher Harper Collins and its digital estate agency division. Rapid expansion meant “digital real estate” was “well on the way to becoming the largest contributor to our profitability”, said Mr Thomson. He said a reduction in the value of print-related fixed assets at the firm’s Australian newspaper business had hurt income for the quarter, together with non-cash charges related to Foxtel.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-38927316

2 Tim Cook says fake news killing people’s minds (Kevin Rawlinson in The Guardian) Fake news is “killing people’s minds”, Tim Cook, the head of Apple, has said. The technology boss said firms such as his own needed to create tools that would help stem the spread of falsehoods, without impinging on freedom of speech.

Cook also called for governments to lead information campaigns to crack down on fake news in an interview with a British national newspaper. The scourge of falsehoods in mainstream political discourse came to the fore during recent campaigns, during which supporters of each side were accused of promoting misinformation for political gain.

While instances were seen among supporters of both sides of the recent US election battle, Donald Trump’s campaign was seen by many as a particular beneficiary of fake news reports. And the US president’s team has been caught sending aides out to insist that a huge crowd had attended his inauguration, when the evidence showed a relatively modest audience was there.

Fake anti-Trump stories during the election included one in which it was falsely claimed that he had groped the drag queen and television presenter RuPaul. Hillary Clinton was scrutinised over her claim that there was “no evidence” her emails had been hacked because the FBI director, James Comey, had concluded it was likely they had been.

A study by economists at Stanford University and New York University published two months after November’s US presidential election found that in the run-up to the vote, fake anti-Clinton stories had been shared 30 million times on Facebook, while those favouring her were shared eight million times.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/feb/11/fake-news-is-killing-peoples-minds-says-apple-boss-tim-cook

3 Ford bets $1bn on robotics startup (San Francisco Chronicle) Ford Motor is spending $1 billion to take over a budding robotics startup to acquire more expertise needed to reach its ambitious goal of having a fully driverless vehicle on the road by 2021. The big bet comes just a few months after the Pittsburgh startup, Argo AI, was created by two alumni of Carnegie Mellon University’s robotics program, Bryan Salesky and Peter Rander.

The alliance between Argo and Ford is the latest to combine the spunk and dexterity of a technologically savvy startup with the financial muscle and manufacturing knowhow of a major automaker in the race to develop autonomous vehicles. Last year rival General Motors paid $581 million to buy Cruise Automation, a 40-person software company that is testing vehicles in San Francisco.

The Argo deal marks the next step in Ford’s journey toward building a vehicle without a steering wheel or brake pedal by 2021 — a vision that CEO Mark Fields laid out last summer. The big-ticket deal for the newly-minted company clearly was aimed at getting Salesky and Rande. Salesky formerly worked on self-driving cars at a high-profile project within Google — now known as Waymo — and Rander did the same kind of engineering at ride-hailing service Uber before the two men teamed to launch Argo late last year.

The two will develop the core technology of Ford’s autonomous vehicle — the “virtual driver” system, which Nair described as the car’s “brains, eyes, ears and senses.” “This is likely a realization that Ford is behind relative to companies like GM, Audi, Volvo, Waymo and Uber, and is trying to catch up,” said Raj Rajkumar, a Carnegie Mellon computer engineering professor who leads the school’s autonomous vehicle research.

Ford isn’t just racing General Motors and other automakers to gain robotics experience. Uber bought autonomous trucking startup Otto for an estimated $680 million last summer primarily to get Otto’s engineers on its team working on driverless vehicles. Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski, another former Google engineer, is now overseeing Uber’s testing of driverless cars in Pittsburgh and Arizona.

http://www.sfgate.com/business/technology/article/Ford-invests-1B-in-robotics-startup-in-10923894.php

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Record trade surplus for Germany; More tourists in Dubai than New York, Rome; Instagram generation and food waste

1 Record trade surplus for Germany (BBC) Germany’s trade surplus hit an all-time high last year as the country continued to export significantly more than it imported. German exports climbed 1.2% to 1.2 trillion euros in 2016, while imports rose 0.6% to 954.6bn euros. This left a surplus of 252.9bn euros, up from 244.3bn euros in 2015.

It comes days after Donald Trump’s top trade advisor accused Germany of exploiting the euro to boost exports. Peter Navarro alleged the euro was a German currency in disguise, and this gave Germany an unfair advantage over the US and other nations. A low currency makes goods cheaper to sell abroad.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected the claims, however, stressing it always been her country’s policy that the European Central Bank should pursue an independent monetary policy. The German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said that the euro was in fact too weak for Germany.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-38918804

2 More tourists in Dubai than New York, Rome (Gulf News) Dubai attracted more than 14 million visitors in one year, making the city one of the most visited destinations in the world, according to data released by Euromonitor International.

The market research firm, which ranks cities according to international visitor arrivals, named Dubai as the seventh most popular city for travellers, with total guests reaching 14.2 million in 2015, up by 7.6 per cent from a year earlier.

Dubai is the only city from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region to feature in the top 10 or 20 rankings and is outperforming other tourist hotspots like New York, Rome and Miami. Hong Kong remained the top city destination in the world for the seventh consecutive year, with 26.7 million international visitors as measured in 2015.

Bangkok overtook London as the world’s second most visited city, with 10 per cent jump in international arrivals. London moved down to the third spot in the global ranking but remained the top European city destination.

Euromonitor said that the travel industry continued to face some challenges, including terrorist attacks, geopolitical conflicts and economic uncertainty, but the ten best performing cities remained resilient.

http://gulfnews.com/business/sectors/tourism/dubai-one-of-world-s-most-visited-cities-euromonitor-1.1975860

3 Instagram generation and food waste (Rebecca Smithers in The Guardian) A generation gap in attitudes towards cooking and eating is helping to fuel the UK’s food waste mountain, research reveals, driven by time-poor millennials who do not understand the value of the food on their plate.

In contrast to savvy older consumers familiar with post-war rationing, those aged 18 to 34 are preoccupied by the visual presentation of food to photograph and share on social media while failing to plan meals, buying too much and then throwing it away.
The UK churns out 15m tonnes of food waste a year – of which 7m tonnes come from households. The estimated retail value of this is a staggering £7.5bn, and the government’s waste advisory body, Wrap, calculates that a typical family wastes £700 of food a year.

A national supermarket study of the food waste patterns of 5,050 UK consumers reveals nearly two-fifths of those aged over 65 say they never waste food, compared with just 17% of those under 35. The research by Sainsbury’s found more than half (55%) of 18- to 34-year-olds had a “live to eat” attitude to food – more about pleasure than necessity but with higher shopping bills and more waste.

Older generations were more likely to “eat to live” with lower grocery bills and reduced waste. Millennials – those born in or after the mid-1980s – were also the most likely to try unusual recipes to create Instagram-friendly dishes, involving exotic ingredients that are harder to reuse.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/feb/10/instagram-generation-fuelling-uk-food-waste-mountain-study-sainsburys

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