May 3, 2019 / 11:14 AM / 20 days ago

Friday Morning Briefing

Pentagon warns on risk of Chinese submarines in Arctic, cyclone slams Indian temple town after a million people flee east coast homes and Microsoft rolls out new cloud services for AI and blockchain. Catch up on the latest headlines.

United States

Deepening Chinese activities in the Arctic region could pave the way for a strengthened military presence, including the deployment of submarines to act as deterrents against nuclear attack, the Pentagon said. The assessment is included in the U.S. military’s annual report to Congress on China’s armed forces and follows Beijing’s publication of its first official Arctic policy white paper in June.

Huawei said it will “vigorously oppose” a motion filed by U.S. prosecutors to disqualify its lead defense lawyer from a case accusing the Chinese company of bank fraud and sanctions violations. According to a filing in the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, the U.S. government sought to remove James Cole from the case. Cole was the No.2 official at the Justice Department between 2011 and 2015, a period when the United States was obtaining information on how Huawei might have been doing business in Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.

Democrats intensified their pressure on President Donald Trump’s administration as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Attorney General William Barr of committing a crime by lying to lawmakers and a key committee chairman threatened to hold Barr in contempt of Congress.

The founder of Insys Therapeutics became the highest-ranking pharmaceutical executive to be convicted in a case tied to the U.S. opioid crisis, when he and four colleagues were found guilty of participating in a scheme to bribe doctors to prescribe an addictive painkiller.

Immigrant rights groups asked a U.S. court to reverse a Trump administration decision that allows asylum seekers who cross the border illegally to be held without bond. The groups, which include the American Civil Liberties Union, say an April 16 decision by U.S. Attorney General William Barr violates the asylum seekers’ rights under U.S. law and puts thousands of people at risk of being detained for months or years while they wait for their cases to work their way through a backlogged immigration court system.

World

Stranded passengers wait for train services to resume at a railway station after their trains were cancelled following Cyclone Fani, in Ahmedabad, India May 3, 2019. REUTERS/Amit Dave

Cyclone slams Indian temple town after a million people flee east coast homes. Tropical Cyclone Fani, the strongest to hit India in five years, spent days building up power in the northern reaches of the Bay of Bengal before it struck the coast of the state of Odisha, the state-run India Meteorological Department said.

A Vietnamese woman who spent more than two years in a Malaysian prison on suspicion of killing the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was freed on Friday, her lawyer said. Doan Thi Huong, 30, was charged along with an Indonesian woman with poisoning Kim Jong Nam by smearing his face with liquid VX, a banned chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017. Malaysian prosecutors dropped a murder charge against Huong last month after she pleaded guilty to an alternate charge of causing harm.

U.N. urges Venezuela to clarify fate of detained opposition lawmaker. The U.N. human rights office called on Venezuela’s government of Nicolas Maduro to disclose the whereabouts of opposition lawmaker Gilber Caro, who was arrested last week. Venezuela’s opposition-run National Assembly said a week ago that Caro had been detained, calling the move a violation of his parliamentary immunity.

Business

Microsoft announced new tools for software makers aimed at making technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain easier for businesses to use. Microsoft released the tools ahead of its software developer conference next week in Seattle.

General Motors is considering a $1 billion investment at its Missouri assembly plant where it builds vans and trucks, state officials said. Missouri Governor Mike Parson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that GM, in a closed-door meeting, had outlined a plan to invest in the plant and add jobs.

U.S. employers likely maintained a strong pace of hiring in April while steadily increasing wages for workers, pointing to solid economic growth and moderate inflation pressures.

Tesla

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk personally owes $507 million to Wall Street banks involved in Tesla’s stock and debt sale, backed by his stake in the electric car maker, a company filing showed.

Tesla will raise up to $2.3 billion in new capital, renouncing what Elon Musk called a “Spartan diet” and easing Wall Street concerns about the money-losing company’s ability to overcome a drop in sales and build new product lines.

Reuters TV

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is engaged to her longtime partner Clarke Gayford after a proposal over the Easter holidays, her spokesman said.

Jacinda Ardern engaged to long time partner
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