Thursday Morning Briefing: Trump intensifies attacks on four Democratic congresswomen


Unbowed, Donald Trump stepped up his vilification of four lawmakers as un-American at a raucous rally, underscoring that the attacks will form a key part of his strategy for winning re-election in 2020. Despite criticism from Democrats that his comments about the four minority congresswomen are racist, Trump went on an extended diatribe about the lawmakers, saying they were welcome to leave the country if they did not like his policies on issues such as immigration and defending Israel. “So these Congresswomen, their comments are helping to fuel the rise of a dangerous, militant hard left,” the Republican president said to roars from the crowd in North Carolina, a state seen as key to his re-election.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt for defying congressional subpoenas related to the U.S. census. The criminal contempt vote against the two Trump cabinet members is likely to be little more than symbolic since the charges would be referred to Barr’s Justice Department.


Thirty people were feared dead in an arson attack on a Japanese animation studio, authorities said, after a man was seen shouting “die” as he doused the building with fuel in the nation’s worst mass killing in nearly two decades. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the fire in the city of Kyoto - the latest grisly killing in a country known for its low crime rates - “too appalling for words” on Twitter and offered condolences to the victims.

War on numbers: Facing a U.N. human rights investigation into its bloody war on drugs, the Philippines presented a new death toll to counter much higher numbers given by critics. But rights groups accused the government of using partial data to mislead and said that even the official figure of more than 5,500 police killings in drug operations was far too high and there must be accountability for every death. President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration has challenged activists’ death tolls of the three-year-old drug war that rise as high as 27,000.

How Reuters counted a quarter million people at Hong Kong's protests. When large-scale demonstrations plunged Hong Kong into political crisis, the size of the crowds quickly became a contentious issue. Police provided relatively low estimates and the protest organizers gave much higher numbers, both trying to prove a point. For Reuters, this was an opportunity to provide an independent estimate that would be an indicator of political sentiment in one of the world’s premier financial hubs.

Sanctions imposed this week by the United States on Myanmar’s military leaders over human rights abuses against Rohingya Muslims do not go far enough, U.N. special rapporteur Yanghee Lee said. The United States banned Myanmar military Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing, three other senior commanders and their families from entering the United States in the strongest steps yet taken by Washington in response to the massacre of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.


Banning pornography from Tumblr was not necessarily meant to define Verizon Media’s strategy to turn around a collection of Internet has-beens. But that is how it has played out. After Verizon, which owns media brands like Yahoo, AOL and social media site Tumblr, declared its media properties nearly worthless last year with a $4.6 billion write-down, the division of the U.S. telecoms giant is resurrecting the businesses as an antidote to the cesspool of the internet.
Netflix said it lost U.S. streaming customers for the first time in eight years and missed targets for new subscribers overseas, an announcement that jarred investors ahead of looming competition. Netflix shares sank nearly 12% in after-hours trading after the company posted quarterly results that showed it shed 130,000 U.S. customers from April to June. The company said it would roll out a lower-priced mobile-only plan in India within the next three months to tap into a price-sensitive market at a time the streaming company is losing customers in its home turf.


About 85% of the recreational vehicles sold in the United States are built in and around Elkhart County, making it a popular stop for politicians to tout their visions for U.S. manufacturing – including President Donald Trump, who staged a rally here last May. And yet this uniquely American manufacturing sector has been caught in the crossfire of Trump’s trade war, according to interviews with industry insiders and economists, along with data showing a steep sales decline amid rising costs and consumer prices. The industry has taken hits from U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum and other duties on scores of Chinese-made RV parts, from plumbing fixtures to electronic components to vinyl seat covers.
Booming stock markets around the globe helped Goldman Sachs Group offset declines in other businesses last quarter, but those gains may not be sustainable, analysts said. The biggest contributor to the bank’s profits was the $1.5 billion it notched from its own equity investments – including $375 million from electronic trading company Tradeweb – some of which it sold during the second quarter.
Global shares slipped on growing signs that a trade dispute between the United States and China was taking a toll on corporate earnings, with nerves spreading from Wall Street through Asia to European markets. The earnings season, kicking off this week, brought bad signs as rail freight giant CSX, cut its revenue forecast as it warned of the impact of the U.S.-China trade war, pushing down Wall Street indexes on Wednesday.


Does renewables pioneer Germany risk running out of power?

Germany, a poster child for responsible energy, is renouncing nuclear and coal. The problem is, say many power producers and grid operators, it may struggle to keep the lights on. The country, the biggest electricity market in the European Union, is abandoning nuclear power by 2022 due to safety concerns compounded by the Fukushima disaster and phasing out coal plants over the next 19 years to combat climate change.
9 min read

U.S. solar sector launches lobbying push to preserve key subsidy

The U.S. solar industry on Wednesday kicked off a lobbying push aimed at convincing Congress to extend a generous tax credit for solar energy systems that is set to begin phasing out next year.
3 Min Read

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