March 2, 2017 / 12:14 PM / 2 years ago

Thursday Morning Briefing: Sessions under scrutiny over contacts with Russia

Top Democrats pressed for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign after the Washington Post reported he had not disclosed two meetings with the Russian ambassador before President Donald Trump took office.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrives to attend an a speech by President Donald Trump at a joint session of Congress in Washington, Feb 28, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

 

The man who last year made global headlines by claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of bitcoin, is working with a fugitive online gambling entrepreneur to file scores of patents relating to the digital currency and its underlying technology, blockchain.

Digits of the day: $20 million

President Donald Trump has promised to use existing funds to begin immediate construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Those funds currently total $20 million, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The cost of building the wall: $21.6 billion.

Bonus digits of the day: $24 billion

Snapchat parent Snap Inc raised $3.4 billion in its IPO last night, valuing the company at $24 billion, more than double the size of Twitter and the richest valuation in a U.S. tech IPO since Facebook five years ago. The shares priced at $17 each, above the expected range of $14-16. And the IPO was oversubscribed by more than tenfold, indicating a hunger for the shares that might produce a pop on the first day of trading.

Here's a list of the people and firms getting the biggest windfalls from the Snap IPO.

Meanwhile an investor committee that advises the Securities and Exchange Commission plans to review if Snap's decision to deny shareholders voting rights might also reduce the social media company's public disclosures on executive pay and other governance matters.

Dante's Inferno? No, just a volcano

Italy's Mount Etna, Europe's tallest and most active volcano, spews lava as it erupts on the southern island of Sicily, Italy Feb. 28, 2017. REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello

Italy's Mount Etna, Europe's tallest and most active volcano, spews lava as it erupts on the southern island of Sicily, Italy Feb. 28, 2017. REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello

Around the country

- During Trump's address before Congress on Tuesday, he told a story about a woman who has Pompe disease, a rare muscle disorder, and the president lauded the disease's drug treatment. It was part of his attack on "artificially high" drug prices. One problem: The drug costs $300,000 a year.

- Trump's daughter Ivanka was a key advocate for the more measured, less combative tone he struck in that speech. She made recommendations for the speech during a brainstorming session in the Oval Office on Sunday, helping her father decide on a new approach aimed at easing concerns over whether he had the right temperament to govern effectively.

- The House intelligence committee will investigate allegations of collusion between Trump's presidential campaign and Russia, the committee's top Democrat told MSNBC.

Around the world

- The fortunes of the richest 100 members of China's parliament and its advisory body - all billionaires - grew about 64 percent in the four years since Xi Jinping rose to power in 2013. Since then, the wealth of the upper crust in the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, has grown faster than the wider economy, the stock market, home prices and wages.

- U.S.-backed Iraqi forces advancing in the Islamic State group's stronghold in western Mosul fought off a counter-attack by the militants during bad weather. Iraqi forces captured the eastern side of Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting and launched their attack on the districts that lie west of the Tigris River last month.

- Malaysia will deport a North Korean held in connection with the death of the estranged half-brother of Kim Jong Un, and cancel visa-free entry for all North Koreans, as diplomatic ties between the two countries fray further following the killing at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Around Wall Street

- About 32 million Yahoo user accounts were accessed by intruders in the last two years using forged cookies. The company said some of the latest intrusions can be connected to the "same state-sponsored actor believed to be responsible for the 2014 breach," in which at least 500 million accounts were affected. Yahoo also said in December that data from more than 1 billion user accounts was compromised in August 2013.

- China supports the work of the World Trade Organization, the country's foreign ministry said, after the Trump's administration said it might defy WTO rulings it viewed as interfering with U.S. sovereignty.

Today’s reason to live

Ray Charles – Tell The Truth

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