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The latest news from Business Insider

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    • The 2018 US Senate elections are full of tight races, polling shows.
    • Entering the midterms, Republicans hold a 51-to-49 seat majority in the upper chamber of Congress.
    • A few seats changing hands could flip the body to Democratic control.
    • But Democrats are faced with a challenging map.

    The battle for control of the Senate is as tight as can be, RealClearPolitics polling averages show. 

    This week, Republicans continued to build separation from a Democratic incumbent in North Dakota while Democrats built on what was a shrinking lead in New Jersey.

    As of Tuesday, candidates are separated by 3 points or less in six races.

    • Polling shows Republican candidate, Rep. Kevin Cramer building his lead over a Democratic incumbent, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, in North Dakota. In Missouri, Republican Josh Hawley holds a slim lead over another Democratic incumbent, Sen. Claire McCaskill.
    • Meanwhile, Democratic candidates Kyrsten Sinema and Jacky Rosen have been teetering in and out of the lead for the seats currently under GOP control in Arizona and Nevada.
    • In five states won by President Donald Trump in 2016, Democratic incumbents hold substantial leads over their opponents: Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

    Entering the midterms, Republicans hold a 51-to-49 seat majority in the upper chamber of Congress. Depending on which way races go on Election Day, the makeup of the Senate could drastically change in the new year.

    Election Day is November 6. We'll continue to update this map in the weeks leading up to it.

    Allan Smith contributed to an earlier version of this post.

    SEE ALSO: Insiders are buzzing that northern Virginia could soon be awarded Amazon's HQ2 as Jeff Bezos makes a high-profile visit to Washington, DC

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales: There's going to be an 'enormous backlash' against Donald Trump's lies

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    Packing for a trip is something of an art form, and it can take some practice to get it right. If you're not a veteran traveler, you might find yourself burdened with unnecessary items that take up too much space in your luggage and just generally weigh you down. Here are a few things that are pretty much always a mistake to pack.

    Shampoo and conditioner are usually a waste of space.

    If you're traveling somewhere where the locals have easy access to shampoo and conditioner, so will you. There's no reason to trek across the globe with products that you can quickly and cheaply pick up at your destination.

    Tight restrictions on liquids also mean that flying with full bottles might even lead to delays at security checkpoints. Simplify your life and opt to pick up a few days' worth of shampoo at your destination.

    You probably don't need more than two pairs of shoes.

    Packing too many shoes can add unnecessary weight and bulk to your luggage. Unless you're traveling to a special event or on a business trip, you probably only need to packa decent pair of walking shoes and a pair of nicer shoes for restaurants or events.

    Leave the expensive jewelry at home.

    It's natural to want to look your best, but bringing expensive jewelry along on vacation is almost always a mistake.

    Traveling with fine jewelry or other flashy accessories could make youan ideal target for pickpockets, Reader's Digest pointed out. Swap out your real diamond earrings for a pair of imitation studs or strap on a less eye-catching watch to avoid losing or damaging your valuables.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    boy meets world

    For kids who grew up in the ‘90s, "Boy Meets World" was a Friday night favorite on TGIF's weekly lineup. Watching Cory and Topanga grow up and fall in love is still just as fun now as it was back then.

    But even if you've seen every episode, there are a lot of behind-the-scenes details that you might not know about "Boy Meets World." Read on to find out some seriously surprising facts about the show.

    Danielle Fishel almost didn't play Topanga.

    It's hard to imagine "Boy Meets World" without Danielle Fishel as Topanga, but it almost happened. In her memoir, Fishel wrote that another girl was originally cast in the role, but during the episode where Topanga was introduced, the director changed his mind. Even though Fishel thought the original actress was very talented, she didn't stick — and that was her moment to shine.

    "On set the next day, she wasn't there. They had let her go, and the executive producer, Michael Jacobs, needed to find a new girl to play Topanga," Fishel wrote, according to Blind Gossip. "To this day, I don't know why Michael gave me another opportunity to audition for Topanga, although I suspect it was because it was easier than having to do a whole new casting call, but he did."

    Fishel won the role, and the rest is history.

    Fans decided Cory and Topanga's fate.

    Cory and Topanga did get married young, but they'd been going strong as a couple for so long. And while many fans rooted for them on their wedding day, it almost didn't happen. ABC didn't like the idea of them tying the knot so young, so they left it up to the fans to decide.

    "ABC actually did an Internet poll for if they should get married. Michael Jacobs, the creator of the show, pushed for that," Rider Strong said in an interview with Vanity Fair. "Because he said that we were going to get them married, and ABC was like, ‘You can't do it. They're too young.' And he said, ‘Put it out on the Internet and do a poll.' And they did and people wanted them to get married."

    When the cast were still kids, they did their schoolwork together.

    Filming "Boy Meets World" meant that the cast couldn't go to a traditional school, so instead, they had to learn at work. Originally, Danielle Fishel, Rider Strong, and Ben Savage had their own tutors, but eventually, they ended up merging together while they had their on-set lessons during filming.

    "When we started the show, we had little sectioned off areas for each one of us to try to focus and work with our own individual teachers, but it always ended up being more like a regular school classroom with all of us chiming in and learning little bits of what everyone else was learning," Fishel told Parade in 2010.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    NYPD bomb containment vessel

    • A retired New York Police Department detective called the bomb squad early Thursday after realizing a package he'd screened in the actor Robert De Niro's mail looked like the ones he'd seen on news coverage.
    • A series of pipe bombs have been intercepted in recent days after being sent to prominent Democrats and critics of President Donald Trump.
    • The NYPD said Thursday that New Yorkers should be vigilant of all suspicious packages, and to call police immediately if they think there might be a threat.

    A retired New York Police Department detective directly contacted the bomb squad after realizing that a package he'd seen days earlier in Robert De Niro's company's mail looked exactly like the ones featured on news coverage that had been sent to a slew of top Democrats and prominent critics of President Donald Trump, authorities said Thursday.

    NYPD Deputy Commissioner Jason Miller told reporters at a Thursday press conference that the retired detective had noticed the package on Tuesday, one day before a wave of pipe bombs were intercepted after being sent to former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, billionaire Democratic donor George Soros, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters.

    Miller said the retired detective had been watching the news early on Thursday morning when he saw an image of the labeled, manila envelopes used to package the pipe bombs.

    "It struck him that that looked very much like a package he had seen on Tuesday in mail he was to screen for Robert De Niro Productions at their offices on Greenwich Street," Miller said.

    He added that the former detective knew how to directly call the NYPD's bomb squad, which arrived immediately and removed the device safely from the building.

    Miller said the bomb was placed in a "total containment vessel" and brought to the Rodman's Neck range in the Bronx, along with some of the other devices.

    New York City officials urged New Yorkers to be vigilant in the coming days about unfamiliar packages, and to call police if they see anything suspicious.

    "These devices should be considered dangerous," the FBI's assistant director-in-charge, William Sweeney, said at a press conference. "Do not touch, do not move, do not handle any suspicious, unknown package."

    Mayor Bill de Blasio said the bombings were "absolutely terrorism," and added that residents should call 911 for suspicious packages or activities even if they're unsure whether a threat exists.

    "If it's on the cusp, make the call. If you think maybe you should call, definitely call," de Blasio said. "Let law enforcement be the ones to make that call."

    SEE ALSO: John Brennan slams Trump's rhetoric as 'un-American' after bomb scare at CNN, tells the president to 'stop blaming others'

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: What marijuana looks like under the microscope

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    khashoggi mbs

    • The killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi could potentially lead to charges against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman under international law.
    • But experts say that would never happen without an independent investigation. 
    • Sherine Tadros, head of the UN office for Amnesty International in New York, says the UN needs to head an independent investigation into Khashoggi's death.
    • But even if an independent investigation was carried out, experts say Saudi Arabia would work to ensure he wouldn’t face any consequences.

    The troubling killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi could potentially lead to charges against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman under international law, experts say, if an independent investigation is carried out.

    But experts say Saudi Arabia would work to ensure no matter what that he wouldn’t face any consequences.

    Khashoggi, who wrote for The Washington Post and was often critical of the Saudi government, disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

    After weeks of denials, the Saudis acknowledged he was killed in the consulate. The Saudis have since acknowledged that Khashoggi's killing was "likely" premeditated but have attempted to distance the crown prince from the incident. 

    But multiple accounts have suggested that the crown prince, informally referred to as MBS, orchestrated the events that led to Khashoggi's killing. Khashoggi was reportedly killed in a brutal fashion that involved torture, and reports indicate his body was dismembered. 

    Some believe MBS could, and should, possibly face justice in civil and criminal courts. 

    'The acts against Mr. Khashoggi are serious violations of international human rights law'

    Stephen Rapp, the former US State Department ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, recently told The Washington Post that the killing amounted to "serious violations of international human rights law, including the law to protect the individual from torture and forced disappearance."

    International law and precedent could allow prosecutors in several countries to bring charges against MBS, and Khashoggi's family could also potentially bring a case against him in civil courts, Rapp told The Post. 

    For example, the UN Convention against Torture, of which Saudi Arabia is a signatory, could pave the way for charges to be brought against MBS or other Saudi officials.

    Countries that are signatories of the convention, via the principal of universal jurisdiction, could refer a case to the International Court of Justice, or ICJ. The court could pursue an order for Saudi Arabia to prosecute or extradite MBS and the other officials suspected of being involved, Rapp said. 

    Rapp also said that even if MBS didn't know about the operation, as the Saudis have claimed, he could still be viewed as culpable under US and international law due to what's known as "command responsibility," because of his authority and responsibility over those involved. 

    But not all legal experts are convinced such scenarios are realistic. 

    'The Saudis will never go along'

    Bradley P. Moss, a Washington, DC-based lawyer specializing in national security, said the possibilities outlined by Rapp could be done "in theory."

    "Realistically speaking, however, virtually none of these options will be likely to come to fruition absent significant pressure from the US (and President Trump in particular)," Moss told Business Insider.

    Moss said there's no reason to believe the Saudis would allow MBS to be extradited to face justice on the international level or in Turkey, where the killing occurred. 

    Donald Trump

    "The ability to prosecute someone of MBS’ level of seniority and authority is contingent on the approval of that person’s country, and the Saudis will never go along with that idea voluntarily," Moss added. 

    But Moss did say that if global arrest warrants are issued for MBS, he could be "largely confined to Saudi Arabia for many years for fear of extradition." 

    "It may be that MBS personally faces sanctions of some kind by the United States and other countries, and that Saudi Arabia as a country faces some political and financial pressure for a few years," Moss said. "That is likely to be the extent of what occurs though."

    'The first step of course is an actual credible investigation'

    Sherine Tadros, head of the UN office for Amnesty International in New York, says the UN needs to head an independent investigation into Khashoggi's death before discussing potential charges against MBS or other Saudi officials. 

    There are two current investigations into Khashoggi's killing: one by the Turkish government and the other by the Saudi government. Neither have been particularly transparent, and many of the reports surrounding Khashoggi's death have been based on leaks from Turkish officials.

    "What we have are two so-called investigations," Tadros told Business Insider.

    "The Saudis keep changing their mind," Tadros said. "They don't even know where the body is, yet they are sure that nothing is linked to the crown prince."

    Tadros said if it turns out MBS was involved in Khashoggi's death, then Amnesty would love to see "justice go all the way to the top."

    "But the first step of course is an actual credible investigation," Tadros said, adding that the Turkish investigation has been "highly politicized" and the way in which they've leaked information is "highly suspect."

    Tadros said the "best shot we have" at true justice is a "UN investigation that will be transparent, not politicized, and credible."

    UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was "deeply troubled" after Riyadh confirmed Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, and called for a "prompt, thorough, transparent" probe into the incident. 

    'There's a war on freedom of expression, and freedom of speech, and credible journalism'

    Tadros said the most "realistic" way for such an investigation to occur is for Turkey to write a letter to Guterres formally requesting a probe. 

    But Tadros also said both Turkey and Saudi Arabia have reasons to be against a full and independent investigation. 

    "At the end of the day the Saudis have clearly had a very destructive hand in the events that went on inside of that consulate," Tadros said. "They don't want to see a real investigation happen."

    She also said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's troubling record on press freedom might make him reluctant to set a precedent in which the UN investigates crimes against journalists on Turkish soil. But Turkey this week said it would cooperate if the UN and other international bodies call for an independent probe. 

    Khashoggi's killing has "garnered so much incredible attention," Tadros said, that she's deeply concerned about the message sent "to dictators and leaders who attack journalists on a day by day basis if nothing happens."

    "There's a war on freedom of expression, and freedom of speech, and credible journalism, and I think we are losing that war," Tadros said. 

    SEE ALSO: Here's everything we know about the troubling disappearance and death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Scorpion venom is the most expensive liquid in the world — here's why it costs $39 million per gallon

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    dry shampoo  buildup and scalp issues

    Nobody wants lice. Lice are pesky insects that invade your hair and cause severe itching. Not to mention, they can be a nightmare to get rid of. The small pests can easily be picked up in public places — including while traveling.

    The parasitic bugs are known to take up residency is hairy places on people’s bodies such as the head and pubic areas, as well as on clothing and blankets. The most common way to contract lice is through person-to-person contact. If you're traveling in close corridors, such as on an airplane or in a small vehicle, it may seem like picking up lice is unavoidable. Dodging lice while on-the-go is easier said than done.

    There are three different types of lice: Head lice, body lice, and pubic lice. The microscopic bugs are anywhere from 1.1 to 3.6 millimeters in length depending on the type of lice, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Their tiny size makes them hard to immediately see with a naked eye, so you'll need to take extra precautions when you are traveling.

    Here's how to protect yourself from lice during your next trip.

    Check your seat on mass transit.

    Subways, buses, and other forms of public transportation are popular options when traveling. But, according to the Illinois Department of Health, lice can be lurking inside of a train car or on a bus seat. Lice may crawl from an infected person’s head or clothing and make a home in a plush bus seat or in the nooks and crannies of a hard plastic subway seat.

    Although your chances of contracting lice this way or low, you can lessen the possibility of coming down with the bugs by wiping off the seat with a wet wipe before sitting down. You can also hold stand and hold onto the handrail instead of sitting down.

    Read the hotel reviews before you book.

    Like bedbugs, lice can infiltrate hotel rooms if left behind by a previous traveler who had lice. As long as the hotel changes the sheets and gives the hotel room a proper and thorough cleaning, the risk of contracting lice from hotel rooms is fairly low, according to That said, it can still happen.

    Lice enjoy nuzzling up in a warm and cozy space (like the hair on the top of your head). For this reason, lice may be found in hotel room beds, couches, chairs, carpets, and other soft, plush areas that are easy to breed in. When you are making your travel arrangements, make sure to read unbiased, unfiltered reviews of the place you are planning to stay. If in the comments section, you find any reviews that mention lice, that could be a sign to steer clear of the hotel or shared space in question.

    Don't share head or hair products with anyone.

    This one may seem obvious, but it's an important reminder to keep in mind throughout your travels. Avoid sharing combs, hairbrushes, towels, and other items that come into contact with your hair, according to the CDC.

    Even if these items belong to trusted friends and family that you’re traveling with, it’s best to use your own. Although your travel buddies may not have any immediate symptoms of head lice, it’s possible that the tiny and bothersome insect still could be prevalent in their clothing or in their hair.

    This also goes for trying on hats while you’re shopping around during your travels. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    states where you get time off to vote

    If you're wondering whether you can come in late or leave work early to cast your vote in the 2018 midterm elections on November 6, the short answer is, it depends on where you work.

    Currently, there is no federal law that mandates employers provide their employees time off to cast their ballots. But the majority of US states have time-off-to-vote laws, also referred to as voter-leave laws, and have different requirements and exceptions for employers and employees.

    While some states guarantee paid time off, for example, others do not. And the time guaranteed for employees to vote varies state-by-state as well.

    Of course, your own employer may offer leave to vote, even if your state does not. In 2016, for example, Patagonia announced that would close all US stores on Election Day in an effort to encourage customers and employees to vote.

    But, since not everyone's employer is so generous, you'd be well-advised to learn about the specific voter leave provisions in your state before the midterms. 

    SEE ALSO: The political job-interview question hiring managers should never ask

    DON'T MISS: How to handle a particularly sticky topic in the office without ruining your professional reputation


    Time off required

    One hour

    Paid or unpaid


    Notes and exceptions 

    • Unless employee has at least two hours available before or one hour after work to vote.

    • Employee must provide ""reasonable notice"" before taking time off.

    • Employer may specify the hours employee can take off."


    Time off required

    As long as it reasonably takes to vote

    Paid or unpaid


    Notes and exceptions

    • Unless employee has at least two hours available before or after work to vote.


    Time off required

    Three hours 

    Paid or unpaid


    Notes and exceptions 

    • Unless employee has at least three hours available before or after work to vote.

    • Employee must provide notice before Election Day.

    • Employer may specify the hours employee can take off." 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Members of a migrant caravan cross the Mexico-Guatemala border on October 21 near Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico.

    • Conspiracies and misleading information about a migrant caravan making its way through Central America and Mexico have flourished in recent days with the help of prominent conservatives. 
    • On Monday, the president claimed that "criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed" in with the migrant caravan, though he later admitted he had no evidence to support that. 
    • Right-wing activists and websites have spread a host of false claims, including that philanthropist George Soros is funding the caravan. 

    Conspiracies and misleading information about a caravan of thousands of Central American migrants currently making its way north through Mexico have flourished in recent days with the help of prominent conservatives, including President Donald Trump.

    The caravan has provided Trump with an opportunity to move attention from the alleged torture and murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudis, a key ally, and the news that several explosive devices were mailed to prominent Democrats this week, to the issue of illegal immigration, which he has long used to energize his base. 

    Just two weeks before the midterm elections, Trump has repeatedly drawn attention to the situation, and on Thursday announced he will send 800 US Army troops to help secure the US-Mexico border. 

    "We are a great Sovereign Nation. We have Strong Borders and will never accept people coming into our Country illegally!" he tweeted Wednesday. 

    A Soros conspiracy

    One of the most popular conspiracies currently circulating online is that George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist and Democratic donor who is regularly targeted by the right, is funding and organizing the migrant caravan. 

    Campbell Soup Co. executive Kelly Johnston, a former secretary of the US Senate, promoted the Soros conspiracy and argued that his non-profit, Open Society Foundations, is controlling "where [migrants] defecate." Johnston, the company's vice president of government affairs, later deleted the tweet and his account. (In a previous tweet, Johnston called Soros a "terrorist.")

    On Monday, a pipe bomb was sent to Soros' New York home.

    The conspiracy that Soros and other non-governmental organizations are funding the caravan, which began in Honduras, appears to have come from the Honduran ambassador to the United States, Marlon Tábora Muñoz, who sent a video of men purportedly handing cash currency out to migrants in Honduras to Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, a close Trump ally. 

    Muñoz sent the unverified video after Trump publicly threatened to cut off or substantially reduce aid to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador as punishment for their failure to halt the caravan. 

    Gaetz posted the video on Twitter and suggested that Soros is behind the caravan. 

    "Footage in Honduras giving cash 2 women & children 2 join the caravan & storm the US border @ election time," he wrote. "Soros? US-backed NGOs? Time to investigate the source!"

    But the video was filmed in Guatemala, not Honduras, and migrants in the caravan told The New York Times that they were given the equivalent of between 13 and 26 cents by individuals supporting their effort. 

    Republicans and other critics of the caravan have also promoted the conspiracy that Democrats are funding the migrants. 

    "Supporters of the DNC are donating money to create caravans," read a post shared on The Deplorable's Facebook page. "This is real Human Trafficking funded by the democrats [sic]." 

    'Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners'

    On Monday, Trump tweeted that "criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed" in with the migrant caravan, later adding that there are some "very tough criminal elements in the caravan."

    The president may have gotten the idea from "Fox & Friends" host Pete Hegseth, who suggested on the morning show that ISIS members may have joined the caravan, referring to a recent claim by Guatemala's president that his government had arrested and deported "over 100 ISIS fighters."

    There is no evidence to support Trump's claim — a fact he later admitted, but not before Vice President Mike Pence repeated the unsubstantiated assertion, saying, "it's inconceivable that there are not people of Middle Eastern descent in a crowd of more than 7,000 people." 

    "There's no proof of anything but they could very well be," the president said Tuesday.

    Bloodied Mexican police officers

    Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's wife, Virginia Thomas, a conservative activist known for spreading right-wing conspiracies, was one of many this week to spread photos they claimed showed Mexican police officers injured by members of the caravan.

    But the photos were actually taken in 2011, 2012, and 2014 and aren't related to the caravan, despite reports that some law enforcement officers, migrants, and others have been injured as the caravan has made its way north. 

    Thomas tweeted that "the media won't share" the images, which were also posted on several popular pro-Trump Facebook pages, including Trump Train, Make America Great Again, and the Diamond and Silk Fan Page. 

    One photo of a bloodied law enforcement official was actually taken during a 2012 student protest in Mexico, according to The Times

    Dangerous diseases

    Many critics of the caravan have claimed that migrants are bringing disease into the US. 

    "We don't know what people have coming in here — we have diseases in this country we haven't had in decades," conservative Fox News host Laura Ingraham said during her primetime program on Tuesday night. 

    A tweet claiming that migrants are bringing a host of illnesses, including tuberculosis and polio, into the US accompanied by an image of a baby purportedly infected with scabies, went viral on right-wing sites online. 

    But the image was actually taken from 2014 news story by an Arizona ABC News affiliate on undocumented immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border, according to The Times.


    SEE ALSO: Prominent conservative activists and talking heads are promoting a conspiracy theory that Democrats sent explosive devices to Clinton, Obama, and Soros

    DON'T MISS: 19 outlandish conspiracy theories Donald Trump has floated on the campaign trail and in the White House

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This company spent 10 years developing a product that allows humans to scale walls like a gecko

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    donald trump

    • President Donald Trump's trade war with China has dragged on for nearly four months, and American businesses are starting to feel the pain.
    • Surveys from Markit and the Federal Reserve found that businesses face increasing costs that are in some cases being passed on to consumers because of Trump's tariffs.
    • Additionally, major companies like Tesla, 3M, Ford, and Harley-Davidson have said they're feeling the burn and expecting millions of dollars in costs from the tariffs.

    As President Donald Trump's trade war with China drags on, with no end in sight, US businesses are starting to take hits from the escalating tariffs.

    Companies' earlier worries are starting to translate into actual pain as new orders coming in from China face the higher duties imposed by the Trump administration.

    Surveys from the Federal Reserve and market-research firms released Wednesday found widespread worries about the tariffs, while individual companies have started to tabulate the tens of millions of dollars in new costs they're likely to incur from the tariffs.

    Surveys look messy

    While surveys in previous months exposed worries about soon-to-come cost increases from the tariffs, new data seems to show that businesses are now facing that reality.

    The Federal Reserve's Beige Book — a collection of perspectives from the Fed's 12 regional banks — outlined concerns with the effects of the mounting trade war. The word "tariff" appeared 51 times in Wednesday's edition, up from 41 mentions in September and 31 in July.

    trump xiConcerns over the tariffs boiled down to a few issues:

    • First, businesses were concerned that goods coming into the US from other countries were more expensive.
    • Many of those goods were used in products sold by these American companies to consumers, so the increased import prices prompted a boost in costs for firms and an increase in prices for consumers.
    • Second, the retaliatory tariffs made it harder for businesses to sell goods to markets like China and Canada.
    • In turn, the buildup in US supply for those goods subject to tariffs abroad — notably farm goods like pork and soybeans — caused prices to sink in the US and businesses to receive less for their products.

    Here are a few examples of those concerns from the Fed's Beige Book (emphasis added):

    • Boston Fed:"Also, three manufacturing firms faced higher input prices due to tariffs on Chinese goods and services that were not readily substitutable, and the firms expected to pass on (or had already passed on) to consumers at least some of the tariff burdens."
    • Philadelphia Fed:"Other firms reported difficulty meeting the prices of foreign competitors who are not exposed to tariffs on the primary input commodities of their products."
    • Cleveland Fed: "The majority of contacts attributed at least some of these increases to import tariffs. One trucking contact noted that prices for pallet jacks, tires, and packaging material were higher because of the tariffs."
    • Chicago Fed: "Contacts reported a notable drop in Chinese purchases of US soybeans following an increase in Chinese tariffs."
    • Dallas Fed:"Among manufacturers, roughly 60 percent of contacts said the tariffs announced and/or implemented this year have resulted in increased input costs. The share was even higher among retailers, at 70 percent."

    In addition to the Fed's survey, Markit's purchasing manager index released Wednesday reported the largest jump in input cost inflation since September 2013, due in large part to the tariff costs.

    Chris Williamson, the chief market economist at IHS Markit, identified several other recent highs set because of the tariff costs.

    "Tariffs also drove a further marked rise in prices, exacerbating an upward trend in price pressures borne out of robust domestic demand,"Williamson wrote. "Average prices charged for goods rose at one of the fastest rates seen over the past seven years while average charges for services showed the second-largest rise since the global financial crisis."

    Businesses are starting to feel the burn

    Business concerns aren't limited to general surveys — many large corporations expressed concerns about the trade war in their recent quarterly earnings calls.

    Those corporations are already estimating the tariffs' effects, and for some firms, the costs could exceed $100 million a year.

    Auto manufacturers, retailers, and home-goods makers have weighed in on the downsides of the tariffs. Here are a few examples:

    • 3M (consumer-goods manufacturer):"If I fast-forward a little into 2019, we think tariffs will be having a negative impact on our total sourcing cost," Nick Gangestad, 3M's chief financial officer, said on Tuesday, adding, "I'll talk more about this in on November 15, but our view is we have an approximately $100 million headwind from tariffs."
    • Tesla (automaker): The company said on Wednesday in its earnings release that the tariffs on Chinese parts could cost $50 million in its fourth quarter alone.
    • Harley-Davidson (motorcycle manufacturer):"In total, we now expect to incur approximately $43 million to $48 million of increased costs related to tariffs during 2018," CFO John Olin said on Tuesday.
    • Ford (automaker):"From Ford's perspective, the metals tariffs took about $1 billion in profit from us, the irony of which is that we source most of that in the US anyway," CEO Jim Hackett said earlier this month. "If it goes on any longer, it will do more damage."
    • Sleep Number (mattress and bed manufacturer):"The latest tariff rate hikes affect about 5% to 6% of our overall" cost of goods sold, CFO David Callen said on Wednesday. "We are working with our global sourcing providers to mitigate the potential for 40 basis points to 60 basis points of margin rate pressures arising from this fast-changing tariff landscape."
    • Polaris (motorcycle, ATV, and vehicle manufacturer): "As I mentioned earlier, these efforts have largely been effective so far, allowing us to hold our 2018 gross tariff impact to the previous communicated $40 million," CEO Scott Wine said on Monday, adding, "Through recent discussion and analysis, we now believe it is unlikely there will be a short- or medium-term agreement with China on trade issues, and with substantial impact of the 301 list looming, we are considering and taking more aggressive action."

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    now this predict wise

    • A new poll from NowThis/PredictWise found that most adults believe that President Donald Trump encourages violence against journalists.
    • The poll was conducted on October 23, five days after Trump praised a Republican congressman for assaulting a reporter.
    • The results were released in the wake of multiple bomb scares across the country Wednesday, after several explosives were sent in the mail to top Democrats and Trump critics, including CNN.

    Most young adults believe that President Donald Trump encourages violence against journalists, according to a new poll released by NowThis/PredictWise.

    The poll surveyed 750 young adults, ages 18-34, as well as 750 adults ages 35 and older. When asked if they believe the Trump administration, either explicitly or implicitly, encourages violence against journalists, 57% of the younger set said they do. That number was smaller for all adults, at 41%.

    There was a stark difference in opinion when it came to Democrats and Republicans surveyed. While the vast majority of Democrats believe that Trump encourages violence against the press (71%), just 17% of Republicans agreed.

    The poll was conducted on October 23, just five days after Trump praised a Republican Congressman at a campaign rally for attacking a reporter.He has previously called the press the "enemy of the people."

    The results were released on the heels of yet another act of terror on the press.

    On Wednesday, CNN's New York bureau was evacuated after an explosive device was sent in the mail to the network.Trump has openly and repeatedly lashed out at CNN, and calls it "fake news." In July 2017, Trump shared an image of himself body slamming a person who had the CNN logo superimposed on his face.

    Several other devices were sent in the mail to top Democrats and Trump critics including former President Barack Obama, ex-Vice President Joe Biden, and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, among others.

    SEE ALSO: Explosive devices sent in the mail to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and CNN's New York office

    DON'T MISS: Experts say the pipe bombs sent to Democratic figures and CNN were likely meant to scare rather than kill

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    NOW WATCH: Why most people refuse to sell their lottery tickets for twice what they paid

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    Bag of Chips

    No one likes throwing out food that's gone bad before its time. Whether you're frustrated by moldy bread or dealing with stale coffee, keeping food fresh can sometimes be a real struggle. Knowing how to properly store your food can help reduce waste and keep your grocery bills down.

    Here are a few of the best ways to keep your food from going stale.

    You can keep chips crunchy by throwing them in the freezer.

    If you've hosted a party and found yourself left with a giant, half-eaten bag of chips, you can actually keep them edible by storing them in the freezer.

    Lifehacker reported thatthis storage tip works on everything from potato chips to tortilla chips. Food experts don't know exactly why this works, but there's plenty of anecdotal evidence to support the hack onTwitter andReddit.

    Keep your raisins in top condition by storing then in an airtight jar.

    If you're a baker or like to whip up your own trail mix, chances are you have a partially filled container of raisins in your pantry.

    Though these dried fruits won't actually go bad for years, they can get dry and rubbery if they're not stored properly. Protect your stash bykeeping raisins in an airtight glass jar or tub to prevent them shriveling even further, The Spruce Eats recommended.

    Need to resuscitate some dry raisins? Soak them in a bowl of warm water until they plump up again.

    Store crackers in an airtight bag to help them keep their crunch.

    The appeal of crackers is in their crunchiness, so it's crucial to store them correctly if you don't want to end up with chewy snacks.

    According to Leaf TV, the best way to store crackers is in an airtight container or bag in cool and dry place. If left unopened, crackers should stay good for about three months. After opening, you have around two weeks to enjoy them.

    If you don't manage to keep your crackers in good condition, you can actually re-crisp them in the oven. Cook's Illustrated advised that spreading crackers or chips in an even layer on a baking sheet andbaking them at 225 degrees for 15 to 25 minutes should get them nice and crunchy again.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    LeBron James

    • The cheapest ticket to attend the Cleveland Cavaliers game Wednesday night against the Brooklyn Nets was just $2, according to a screenshot of one ticket vendor's website taken on Wednesday.
    • Ticket sales in Cleveland are expected to decline this season now that LeBron James isn't on the team.
    • Both the Cavaliers and their former superstar are both experiencing tough starts to the 2019 NBA season: Cleveland is (0-4) while LeBron's Los Angeles Lakers are (1-3)

    A year after LeBron James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals, fans can snag a ticket to see the LeBron-less Cavaliers for less than the cost of parking at the arena.

    TMZ Sports published a screenshot of the online ticket vendor Flash Seats, whose website showed that the cheapest ticket for the Cavaliers' matchup against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, October 24 was just $2.

    The Cavaliers remain winless this season after falling to the Nets by 16 points.

    James decided to leave the Cavaliers last summer to join the Los Angeles Lakers.

    But that hasn't stopped Cleveland fans from going to games. According to the Bleacher Report, Cavalier fans are averaging higher attendance at home games (19,432) than the Lakers are with LeBron on their squad (18,997).

    Getting a ticket to watch LeBron suit up for the purple and gold, however, is a different story: the average price to attend LeBron's first home game in Los Angeles was $526.73, the Los Angeles Times reported October 19.

    The (1-3) Lakers have struggled out the gate this season with LeBron. It remains to be seen whether local Laker fans will continue shelling out big bucks to attend games if the team falters this season.

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    cnn explosive device suspicious package new york

    • A "pair of unattended packages" on Thursday evening prompted the evacuation of some areas of the Time Warner Center Mall, the location of CNN's studios in New York City.
    • Images from the scene show people leaving the building.
    • It's the second time this week that portions of the building were evacuated due to a potential threat.
    • Police deemed the area safe after the bomb squad and Emergency Service Unit arrived.

    A "pair of unattended packages" on Thursday evening prompted the evacuation of some areas inside the Time Warner Center Mall, the location of CNN's studios in New York City, according to the NYPD.

    A few minutes after the NYPD said its bomb squad and Emergency Service Unit were on the scene, the police department said the mall was clear and there was "no threat or danger."

    Images from the scene show people leaving the building:

    This is the second time this week that portions of the building were evacuated due to a potential threat.

    On Wednesday, a courier dropped off a package containing a suspicious device to at CNN's New York office. The package was addressed to former CIA director John Brennan, who has appeared on CNN and MSNBC as a contributor.

    An envelope containing white powder was reportedly also found with the device, according to NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill.

    Law enforcement officials on Wednesday also intercepted improvised explosive devices that were sent to the residences of Bill and Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, and the offices of Democratic Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Maxine Waters.

    No injuries were reported. President Donald Trump called for national unity in a campaign speech on Wednesday following the discovery of explosive devices.

    "Any acts or threats of political violence are an attack on our democracy itself," Trump said. "No nation can succeed that tolerates violence or the threat of violence as a method of political intimidation, coercion, or control. We all know that."

    SEE ALSO: Trump pointed fingers at the media at a Wisconsin campaign rally hours after bomb scare targeted top Democrats

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    In this Nov. 2, 2017, file photo, Broadcom CEO Hock Tan speaks as President Donald Trump listens during an event to announce the company is moving its global headquarters to the United States, in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington. The highest-paid CEO in Equilar’s analysis was Hock Tan of Broadcom, who made $103.2 million. The vast majority of Tan’s compensation came in the form of a stock grant, valued at $98.3 million. (

    • The mergers-and-acquisitions market in the tech industry rebounded in the third quarter after seeing a slump in the second.
    • The value of such deals hit $66.4 billion, which was more than double the amount from the second quarter.
    • Foreign companies and non-tech buyers helped to boost the number and value of such deals.

    Companies of all kinds renewed their appetite for tech firms in the third quarter.

    The value of tech-related mergers and acquisitions announced in the period hit $66.4 billion, according to a new report from consulting firm PwC. That was not only the highest total in nearly two years, it was more than double the value of the deals announced in the second quarter.

    "After a lackluster performance in Q2 2018, the technology deals market regained its shine," PwC said in the report.

    The firm predicted the deal market would remain robust going forward, despite some potential ups and downs. Funding was up in the quarter for startups, which often represent prime takeover targets as they get bigger, PwC said. And companies of all stripes are placing a premium on innovation and technology, it said.

    "We remain bullish on the prospects for Technology deals regardless of the macro market trends," the firm said.

    Broadcom's takeover of CA Technologies boosted the market

    The deal market's third quarter rebound was driven in part by one big transaction — Broadcom's $18.9 billion deal to takeover of CA Technologies. Broadcom announced that deal just months after the Trump administration barred its attempted acquisition of Qualcomm on national security grounds.

    But the deal market saw strength across the board. Some 485 deals were announced in the period, which was up 15% from the second quarter. More than half of those were for less than $100 million, while another  23% were valued at between $100 million to $500 million.

    The quarter saw one other deal of more than $5 billion — Renesas' $6.7 billion planned acquisition of IDT. And it saw 12 deals valued at between $1 billion to $5 billion, up from just nine such deals in the second quarter.

    PwC Q3 2018 M&A report — Chart on technology deal value and volume

    Software companies were hot commodities

    By far the most popular sector for acquisitions in the quarter was software. Around 250 deals involving such companies were announced in the quarter. The combined value of those transactions was $41.9 billion. That was up from a mere $9.9 billion in the second quarter.

    Information technology services was a relatively hot sector as well. The number of such deals topped 100 and their combined value hit $8.8 billion. That was up from just $5.4 billion in the second quarter and represented the highest total value for the sector since 2016.

    PwC Q3 2018 M&A report — chart showing Deal value and volume by sub-sector

    Money flooded in from outside

    A return of foreign buyers also helped boost the deal market. Some 75 deals in the most recent period involved foreign companies attempting to buy US tech firms. That was up from just 53 such deals in the second quarter. The total value of deals involving foreign buyers was $16.4 billion. That was up from $4.9 billion in the second quarter and was the highest total since the fourth quarter of 2016.

    The Trump administration has been taking a harder line on foreign companies acquiring US technologies and tech firms, subjecting them to more thorough national security reviews. That's led to greater uncertainty over whether deals will go through.

    In addition to a surge of foreign buyers, the deal market saw an influx of acquirers from outside the tech industry. The total number of deals involving non-tech companies reached 137 in the period, up from 80 in the second quarter. That was the highest level in more than two years.

    Meanwhile, the value of deals involving non-tech companies hit $13.3 billion, up from just $5.5 billion in the previous quarter. That was the third highest total in the last 11 quarters.

    PwC Q3 2018 tech M&A report — Chart on tech v. non-tech deals

    Now read:

    SEE ALSO: 9 reasons why there was a sudden slowdown in tech acquisitions last quarter

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    NOW WATCH: Why Amazon reportedly wants to open 3,000 automated stores

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    Susan Wojcicki Sundar Pichai

    • Google CEO Sundar Pichai made a point of trumpeting the company's contributions to the US economy during the company's Q3 earnings call on Thursday.
    • It was an unusual move, likely aimed at appeasing criticism from President Donald Trump and his followers.
    • While it's great that Google is contributing to the US, the company's need to wrap itself in the American flag does not bode well.

    Something interesting happened during Google's quarterly earnings report on Thursday and it had nothing to do with the cost-per-click, the traffic-acquisition-cost or any of the other arcane metrics that Wall Street folks love to geek out over.

    In fact, what happened on the investor call wasn't intended for investors at all. The intended audience was the man in the White House, and Google didn't try to be very subtle about it.

    As Google CEO Sundar Pichai neared the conclusion of his prepared remarks, he noted that Google parent company Alphabet is investing "closer to home." In the third quarter, he pointed out, "more than 80% of Alphabet's total cap-ex was in the US."

    "Not only do these investments in datacenters, machines and offices allow us to bring great services to our users, they have a strong positive impact on the communities around them, supporting thousands of jobs and countless local businesses. This year to date we added more than 9,000 new employees in the US and we continue to grow faster outside the [San Francisco] Bay Area than within it."

    It's not the kind of detail that Google — one of the least transparent companies when it comes to its business — typically goes into during its earnings reports. But these are not ordinary times, and Google, like many of its Big Tech peers, is doing whatever it can to wrap itself in the American flag and show what a good citizen it is.

    Maybe it's because US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said he wants to investigate internet companies for supposedly stifling conservative speech. Or maybe it's because Trump's 2020 campaign manager has called Google a "threat to the republic."Or perhaps because Trump himself has accused Google of rigging its search results against him (it didn't).

    Trump tech meeting

    Google is also on the defensive because of its decision not to pursue weapons-related contracts with the US Department of Defense, a policy which other Trump punching bags like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos have pounced upon, as if to improve their own image with the president.

    Let's be clear, the fact that Google is investing 80% of its capital expenditures in the US is obviously a good thing. Google spent $5.3 billion in cap-ex during the third quarter, so that's real money, and a lot of it.

    But chances are that money was always intended to be spent in the US. One of the key line items of Google's capital expenditures are datacenters, giant infrastructure projects that take years of planning.

    The only thing that's changed is the sudden need for Google to loudly proclaim its patriotic bona fides. For a company as powerful as Google, the unusual flag-waving is a stunning show of deference to, and likely fear of, the White House.

    Yes, right now Google is singing to the commander-in-chief about some very laudable achievements. But there are lots of dangerous "Make America Great Again" policies of which Google has been a vocal opponent, from the travel ban that targeted people from Muslim-majority countries, to transgender rights.

    A lot of vulnerable people depend on powerful entities, even profit-driven corporations, to champion their causes.

    Now that Google has gotten used to bending its knees and kowtowing, what will it say, or do, the next time it needs to curry favor with Trump?

    SEE ALSO: Google's Q3 revenue was just shy of Wall Street but investors are showing no mercy

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    2018 10 25_22 13 40

    • During the "Thursday Night Football" game, the Miami Dolphins completed a pass that needs to be seen to be believed.
    • Quarterback Brock Osweiler scrambled to his left and threw downfield to Jakeem Grant for what appeared to be about a 25-yard catch.
    • The ball was knocked out of Grant's hands when it was then deflected forward off a defender's helmet where it was caught by Devante Parker another 12 yards downfield.
    • The play went down as a 46-yard reception for Parker for being in the right place at the right time.
    • Many on social media compared the catch to a "Madden glitch," in reference to the "Madden" video game series in which bizarre scenes are sometimes carried out by the computer.

    Here is the play, via Fox.


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    Chevrolet Bolt EV 2017

    • General Motors has proposed a National Zero Emissions Vehicle (NZEV) program.
    • The program would be based on a current system of ZEV credits used by California and nine other states.
    • GM, which is rolling out 20 new electric vehicles by 2023, believes an NZEV program would spur the development of more American-made electric cars and trucks.

    On Friday, General Motors proposed a nationwide program for zero-emissions credits that would greatly extend the current nine-state framework and encourage automakers to introduce more electrified vehicles.

    In a statement, GM said the National Zero Emissions Vehicle (NZEV) program "has the potential to place more than seven million long-range [electric vehicles] on the road by 2030, yielding a cumulative incremental reduction of 375 million tons of CO2 emissions between 2021 and 2030 over the existing ZEV program."

    At the moment, the ZEV program is limited to California and nine additional states.

    What is ZEV? Read more about the program from this helpful primer published by The Union of Concerned Scientists.

    GM offered the proposal as part of its comments on the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks, a process undertaken by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to review federal fuel-economy standards established under the Obama administration.

    The Trump administration reopened the review process, a decision supported by the auto industry. Some environmental groups have opposed the move.

    Trump vs. California vs. the auto industry

    mary barra donald trump Sergio marchionne

    But carmakers have also found themselves in the awkward position of contending with a political showdown between Trump and California, which exercises a waiver from the EPA to set its own emissions standards.

    That prerogative goes all the way back to the passage of the Clean Air Act in 1963. And because California is such a large vehicle market, its standard is followed by numerous other states, making it something of a de facto national standard. 

    The prospects of revoking the waiver has created a nightmare scenario for carmakers — one in which they would have to design and engineer vehicles to multiple standards, if California retains its own standards while elsewhere in the country, they're rolled back.

    In this context, GM's proposal achieves two objectives.

    • First, it seeks to create a nationwide emissions solution, based on the market-oriented ZEV-credit system already in place.
    • Second, it supports GM's ambitious objective of introducing 20 new electric vehicles by 2023, as well as CEO Mary Barra's plan to push toward "zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion." 

    GM furnished details of the proposal, including an increasing scale of ZEV credits for all 50 states, "starting at 7% in 2021, increasing 2% each year to 15% by 2025, then 25% by 2030." The program would "terminate when 25% target is met, or based on a determination that the battery cost or infrastructure targets are not practicable within the timeframe," the automaker said.

    The NZEV credits would be "modeled on the current ZEV program: credits per vehicle, based on EV range, as well as averaging, banking, and trading."

    The plan also calls for the establishment of a Zero Emissions Task Force.

    Addressing climate change with an industrial strategy, led by the US

    Reuss Cadillac XT5 debut

    "We believe in a policy approach that better promotes US innovation and starts a much-needed national discussion on electric vehicle development and deployment in this country," Executive Vice-President Mark Reuss said. "It's past time for national policy to address climate change, with an industrial strategy that advances US leadership in the technology that delivers the most benefit: Electrification."

    Reuss added that GM isn't "standing still on this." He noted that the carmaker is already reducing the weight of its car and trucks by 400-500 lbs. and developing new engine technologies, along with committed to a fresh battery-electric design for vehicles that will follow the launch of the Chevy Bolt EV.

    In a conference with reporters on Thursday to preview the NZEV proposal, he also said that the if adopted the idea would facilitate more automakers focusing on EVs, and that it would make their efforts more efficient. For GM, the NZEV credits could create a new revenue stream, helping the automaker offset some of the costs of vehicle development and the creation of EV-charging infrastructure.

    "It could take the guesswork out," he said. "We’re making bets now, but there's a lot of uncertainty, and that can destroy capital."

    FOLLOW US: On Facebook for more car and transportation content!

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    NOW WATCH: Chevy has built a $37.5K all-electric car capable of a 238-mile range

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    Wang Yi and Julie Bishop

    • A proposed trade deal between Australia and Taiwan apparently never had a chance to see the light of day, former foreign minister Julie Bishop says.
    • Bishop blamed what she said was direct and constant pressure from Beijing.
    • That startling concession shines light on a sobering truth: China is comfortable exerting pressure at the very highest corridors of power in order to secure its interests.

    Australia's former foreign minister Julia Bishop says direct and consistent pressure from Beijing effectively skewered any chance Canberra had of even striking up a conversation with Taiwan on a free trade deal.

    The startling concession highlights how Beijing is apparently comfortable exerting pressures at the very highest corridors of power to secure its interests.

    Bishop, who served as foreign minister from 2013 to 2018, told Fairfax Media on Thursday that for two years, her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi "made it clear" that any official flirtations with the island state that China considers a rogue province would ensure that Beijing "would not look favorably on Australia."

    Those are words not to be taken lightly when the resource-rich Australian economy is beeping away on China's life-support.

    China is far and away Australia's key economic partner. China is its largest two-way trading partner, its top export market and its biggest import source, last year generating $129 billion USD in revenue — up 16% on 2016 — and now accounting for 24% of the country's total trade.

    "During my time as foreign minister, I observed an increasing assertiveness on the part of China to encourage nations to disengage from their relationship with Taiwan," Bishop said in remarks that now barely illicit a cringe from Asian Pacific analysts.

    "This included in the Pacific and where some nations still formally recognize Taiwan and in some of the major multilateral forums where Taiwan had observer status to participate in such meetings," she added.

    Dr. Kevin Carrico, a lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Macquarie said smaller nations in the region were vulnerable to an increasingly assertive Beijing.

    "This is an example of the really dangerous nature of People's Republic of China party state influence in Australia's political system," Dr. Carrico told Business Insider.

    "Australia is a sovereign nation and can decide for itself if it would like to pursue a free-trade pact with Taiwan."

    Taiwan’s economic contribution is far from insignificant and the island nation of 23 million remains Australia’s 14th most significant business partner and one of its fastest growing.

    According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, two-way trade in goods and services between Taiwan and Australia topped $10.6 billion in 2017, a rise of 10.9% year-over-year, and now 2% of Australia's total trade.

    xi jinping

    It's a cheque, mate

    While China has for decades been wielding Pacific states like chess pieces in its admirably single-minded pursuit of reintegrating "Chinese Taipei" with the mainland, this is the first time an Australian official at the very highest levels has so publicly acknowledged what so many have feared:

    That the Chinese state is capable and willing to use economic threats to direct Australian foreign policy in the pursuit of its own interests from the corridors and gardens of Zhongnanhai.

    Australian politics has been literally stalked in recent years by what many observers perceive as the growing shadow of Chinese influence across domestic and international policy.

    Politicians have been implicated, journalists have been sued and desperate cracks have taken hold within one of the world's most diverse and proudly multicultural of countries.

    Following an investigation into the extent of foreign interference in Australia ordered by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull earlier this year, reports emerged of attempts by the Chinese Communist Party to influence "all levels" of Australian politics.

    "Our system as a whole had not grasped the nature and magnitude of the threat," Turnbull said in May, just months after a high-profile political figure was sacked and labeled a Chinese “agent of influence.”

    The following week, the Chinese ambassador Cheng Jingye addressed a business event that Business Insider attended at Parliament House, insisting China "never interferes in the internal affairs" of Australia or any other state.

    The ambassador then told business leaders that China never exercised "so-called infiltration of other countries."

    Nevertheless, the following month, Australia passed sweeping new counterintelligence laws that broaden the powers and increase the severity of offenses within espionage and foreign influence.

    And while the ever-diplomatic Turnbull said the laws did not single out any one country, there was no doubt that their target was Beijing.

    Turnbull had previously remarked of "disturbing reports about Chinese influence," and even once had a decent crack at speaking directly to camera in Mandarin to announce, quite daringly, that Australia has stood up, as China once did so famously under the leadership of Mao Zedong — "Zhong guo ren min zhanqilai!"

    Without a doubt, the new laws exacerbated the already inflamed tensions with China, which, again in the words of Ambassador Chen and a state media blitz, accuses Australia of having a "Cold War mentality."

    A December 2017 editorial in the Global Times made that pretty clear.

    "Australia poses a problem for China. If we mind its silly carrying-on, it will deplete our energy, and it doesn’t seem worth our while; however, if we leave it be and pretend nothing is happening, that would only encourage it, and it may go from bad to worse."

    "Australia is one of the countries that have benefited most from China’s rise, yet it is also one of the most provocative voices in the Western bloc. It is beginning to look like a piece of chewing gum stuck to the bottom of China’s shoe.”

    Taiwanese military

    It's getting close to checkmate

    Meanwhile, China has ramped right up that pressure on Taiwan since President Tsai Ing-wen of the more independence-minded Democratic Progressive Party won office in 2016, more actively blitzing Taiwan's attempts at international engagement and looming ever larger across its domestic politics.

    Tsai immediately staggered Communist Party officials by refusing to endorse the "1992 consensus," a pillar of regional stability that enshrines the One China, Two Systems principle that provides China some flexibility with the way it deals with its various client states and wayward provinces from Hong Kong to Taipei.

    And since Tsai took power in the democratic stronghold across from Fujian province, the Pacific chess game has swung strongly in China’s favor.

    The Chinese government first cut off official communication with Tsai's government and then leaned into its multilayered strategy of erasing Taiwan from the international stage and poaching its handful of remaining diplomatic allies.

    In under two years, China has seduced away five Taiwanese diplomatic allies, most recently when China established ties with El Salvador, shrinking Taiwan’s diplomatic pool to just 17 allies.

    In May, the West African state of Burkina Faso became the fourth country to cut ties following similar kiss-offs from diplomatic heavyweights like Panama, Sao Tome, the Dominican Republic and Principe.

    Now, many of the countries with which Taiwan has formal relations worldwide are tiny, weakly developed, and highly vulnerable nations with many dotting across the Pacific like Palau and Nauru.

    tug of war

    Climate change, seasonal typhoons?

    No, it's often the tug-of-war between Taiwan and China that makes these states especially vulnerable to systemic failings, from long-term corruption, debt-trap diplomacy, and the insidious reach of foreign influence in sovereign surrounds.

    From 2000 to the opening of the Beijing Olympics, Taiwan lost nine allies to China amid a bidding war, as Taiwan also showered cash on sovereign states to gain diplomatic recognition.

    There have been successes and failures on both sides.

    Nauru surprised everyone when it jumped ship from China to Taiwan in 2005.

    Tonga, which has voiced concerns about its growing Chinese debts, cut ties with Taiwan in 1998.

    From Vanuatu to the Marshall Islands to the Solomons, China's growing influence and Taiwan's waning is often viewed as an opportunity to roll the dice again.

    In July an airline based in the Pacific nation of Palau says it was forced to close because of China’s attempts to punish the nation for its diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

    And according to Business Insider's Tara Francis Chan, China has been judicious in its application of threats, fines, public shaming, cajoling and the introduction of social credit scores for corporations to force foreign companies to adopt and adhere to its political rhetoric.

    According to Dr. Carrico, Australia's democratic values are being threatened by the intersection of China's rising sense of its place in the world and Canberra's own economic weaknesses.

    "Taiwan is a democratic nation with which Australia shares many values, of course it is unfair to both countries to be held hostage to Beijing's fantasy that Taiwan, never ruled by the People's Republic of China, is somehow 'an inalienable part of China.'"

    Following demonstrations in Taipei on Saturday over the increasing threats from Beijing and as a referendum over whether Taiwan should compete as “Taiwan” or “Chinese Taipei” in international sporting events draws ever closer, Chinese golfers were pulled out en masse from an international event in Taiwan on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

    Beijing has also recently cut Chinese tour groups from visiting Taiwan while both sides have ratcheted up military exercises to show their respective capabilities in any Taiwan Strait conflict.

    Here is a list of the remaining nations still diplomatically aligned, including their dates of engagement and re-engagement, with Taiwan as of October 2018:

    • Swaziland (1968)
    • Vatican City (1942)
    • Kiribati (2003)
    • Marshall Islands (1998)
    • Nauru (1980–2002, 2005)
    • Palau (1999)
    • Solomon Islands (1983)
    • Tuvalu (1979)
    • Haiti (1956)
    • Saint Kitts and Nevis (1983)
    • Saint Lucia (1984–1997, 2007)
    • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (1981)
    • Belize (1989)
    • Guatemala (1933)[56]
    • Honduras (1941)
    • Nicaragua (1962–1985, 1990)
    • Paraguay (1957)

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    billionaires wealth redistribution

    • The total number of billionaires reached 2,158 last year, up 9% from 2016, according to a new report from UBS and PwC. 
    • The growth was fastest in Asia, with China minting roughly one new billionaire every three days.
    • Asian billionaires will be wealthier than their American peers in less than three years. 

    The rich are getting richer and more numerous.

    The world added 332 billionaires last year, with their cumulative wealth increasing 19% to a record $8.9 trillion, according to an annual survey from UBS and PwC. 

    What's behind this phenomenon? Explosive wealth creation in China. 

    "China is where we're seeing unbelievable and unprecedented growth," said John Mathews, head of ultra high net worth Americas for UBS Global Wealth Management. For the first time ever, billionaire growth in Asia Pacific outpaced that of the US last year.

    In 2006, there were just 16 Chinese billionaires. But in 2017, the tally hit 373 – a fifth of the global total. The US still leads regionally, with 585 billionaires, but wealth creation in the region is slowing. The US created 53 billionaires in 2017, compared with 87 in 2012. 

    In China, 106 people became billionaires in 2017 (although a number dropped off the list from 2016). That comes out to roughly one new billionaire every three days. 

    If current trends hold, Asian billionaires' wealth will surpass that of their American counterparts in three years. 


    UBS billionaire chart


    That growth has been driven by self-made entrepreneurs in China, particularly in the technology industry. 

    More than 300 Chinese companies went public last year, unlocking what UBS deems "stealth wealth," the difficult-to-measure wealth of individuals in private markets with little transparency. 

    About 97 percent of Chinese billionaires are self-made, and, at 56 years old on average, they're about a decade younger than their North American counterparts.

    US entrepreneurs could play catch-up next year, though. Mathews said major anticipated initial public offerings in 2019, including Uber, could reveal more stealth wealth, potentially adding more billionaires to the US's count. Of the 53 new billionaires in the US last year, 30 were self-made. 

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    Jamal Khashoggi crown prince protest

    • The United Nations on Thursday said journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder "bears all the hallmarks of an extrajudicial execution" committed by the Saudi state. 
    • Agnes Callamard, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, said that those who masterminded Khashoggi's killing are "are high enough to represent the state."
    • Still, she says it remains to be seen whether or not they acted in the name of the state. 
    • Her declaration follows a statement by the Saudi Attorney General on Thursday which said preliminary investigations reveal that Khashoggi's murder was "premeditated."

    The United Nations on Thursday said journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder "bears all the hallmarks of an extrajudicial execution" committed by the Saudi state. 

    Speaking at a press conference, Agnes Callamard, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, said that those who masterminded Khashoggi's killing are "are high enough to represent the state."

    "The people who orchestrated [the killing] are high enough to represent the state and there has been no information so far that they acted in a completely rogue fashion," she said. 

    "Whether or not they acted in the name of the state, that remains to be discussed and investigated," she added. 

    Callamard reiterated calls for an international probe into the events that took place on October 2, when Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to gather documents for his upcoming wedding. She called on Saudi Arabia to give a UN-designated team access to the information they have procured in their own investigation.

    Callamard is well-known for her investigation into extrajudicial killings committed in the Philippines as part of President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs.

    Her declaration follows a statement by the Saudi Attorney General on Thursday, which said preliminary investigations reveal Khashoggi's murder was a "premeditated" act.

    Saudi Arabia has previously suggested that Khashoggi's killing was carried out by "rogue killers," though many have expressed skepticism that the murder of a high-profile dissident in a foreign country could have been carried out without direction by Saudi leadership. Saudi Arabia has distanced its Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from the murder, and has fired five top officials and detained 18 Saudis during the ongoing investigation.

    The Crown Prince on Wednesday called the Washington Post columnist's murder a "heinous crime that cannot be justified." He has repeatedly denied having advance knowledge of the plot. 

    President Donald Trump on Tuesday described Khashoggi's killing at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul as one of the worst cover-ups in history. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US had identified several individuals it says are responsible, and was already working to revoke visas and is considering imposing sanctions.

    SEE ALSO: US vows to revoke visas and consider sanctions in response to Jamal Khashoggi's death

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