Trump and Kim Jong Un deescalated. They met in person and sent each other what Trump later called “beautiful letters.” The fears of the moment dissolved. Those who warned of catastrophe were dismissed as alarmist. But were we alarmist? Or did Trump take the possibility of nuclear war from, say, 1 in 100 to 1 in 50?
Moments like this dot Trump’s presidency. His withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal dissolved the only structure holding Iran back from the pursuit of nuclear weapons. What’s followed has been not just a rise in tensions but a rise in bloodshed, culminating with Trump’s decision to do what both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama chose not to do and assassinate Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani.
The end of that story is as yet unwritten, but possibilities range from Trump’s gamble paying off to Iran triggering a nuclear arms race — and perhaps eventually nuclear war — in the Middle East.
Linick’s firing is of particular concern to both groups — Democrats have described the inspector general’s removal as an apparent attempt to retaliate against Linick for reportedly opening an investigation into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
A Democratic congressional aide told Vox’s Alex Ward Linick was looking into the potential “misuse of a political appointee” by Pompeo, including having that appointee carry out “personal tasks” for the secretary of state and his wife.
And CNN reports that a State Department official “confirmed that Pompeo made the recommendation that Linick be removed, but the official did not know the reasons why.”
The most important sentence in the plan, however, did not directly answer any of those questions. Rather, it addressed how to approach implementation. “This plan is in beta and always will be,” it read. As the country continues to struggle with persistent digital divides amid a new economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing need is clear.
The White House American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, which is co-chaired by White House adviser Ivanka Trump and U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and includes Apple (AAPL.O) Chief Executive Tim Cook, Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) Chief Executive Marillyn Hewson and IBM (IBM.N) Executive Chairman Ginni Rometty, plans to call for “an unprecedented investment in digital infrastructure.”
Who says the pandemic is all bad news? Three months after unveiling a restructuring plan, new Julius Baer boss Philipp Rickenbacher is already ahead of his 2022 targets for returns and costs.
In a trading update for the year to the end of April, the Swiss wealth manager said adjusted pre-tax profit was 35 basis points of assets under management, sharply up from 22 basis points in 2019 and above a mid-term target of up to 28 basis points. Costs meanwhile shrunk to 64% of revenue, beating a cost-to-income goal of below 67%.
It will take years before demand returns to pre-coronavirus levels of roughly 100 million barrels a day—if it ever does. The CEOs of Europe’s two largest oil companies, Royal Dutch Shell’s Ben van Beurden and BP’s Bernard Looney, have suggested that oil demand might never fully recover. While many countries would gladly return to their pre-pandemic ways of life just as quickly as they can, three factors cast doubt over the prospect of oil’s recovery.
First, as long as there’s no vaccine or effective treatment, humanity will have to learn to live with COVID-19. Even as containment measures are being loosened in several countries, governments reserve the right to tighten lockdowns again if they see new spikes in coronavirus cases, as Singapore and Japan recently did. Even if these new restrictions come in the form of “lockdown lite,” which allows for occasional outings and for non-essential businesses to continue operating under certain conditions, they will still hit oil demand. And low oil prices will do little to boost demand in such circumstances.
Ensuring access to medical equipment and medicines is one of the most immediate issues arising from the COVID-19 crisis. Health services not only need these to fight the virus, but also to protect their workers and others from infection.
Increasingly, workers employed in other critical sectors, and the wider public, are also relying on protective garments, such as plastic gloves or facemasks, to reduce transmission.
A spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry has said it is too early to allow an independent investigation into the origins and spread of the COVID-19 virus, as nations prepare to meet at this week’s World Health Assembly (WHA).
Spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters at a daily briefing in Beijing that the vast majority of countries do not yet think the pandemic is over, according to Reuters. As such, he argued it is too soon to think about an investigation.
Multiple world leaders have called on Beijing to allow a probe into the coronavirus outbreak, which so far has infected more than 4.7 million people worldwide and killed more than 315,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Zoellick had that right. A global pandemic has brought relations between Beijing and Washington to its lowest point since China reopened to the world in 1978—even lower even than in those extraordinary days following the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.
What had been a more confrontational, trade-centric relationship since the start of President Donald Trump’s term, has now descended into bitterness in the midst of a presidential reelection campaign Trump fears is slipping away. Any chance that the pandemic might spur Washington and Beijing to set differences aside and work together on treatments and other aspects of the pandemic—such as how exactly it started—is long gone.
Last week, the Trump administration moved to block shipments of semiconductors to Huawei Technologies. The Commerce Department said it was amending an export rule to “strategically target Huawei’s acquisition of semiconductors that are the direct product of certain U.S. software and technology.”