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Saturday, December 16, 2017

If Apple Inc. were a bond fund, it would dwarf the competition. The iPhone-maker has $148 billion of its record $257 billion cash pile invested in corporate debt alone, according to a company filing from Wednesday. That's enough to buy all the assets in the world's largest fixed-income mutual fund, the Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund, which has about $145 billion of assets including company, government and mortgage bonds. Like many technology companies, Apple has resisted transferring the money it earns abroad back to the U.S. to avoid triggering corporate income taxes on the earnings. Instead, the Cupertino, California-based company invests in corporate bonds and other assets like money market funds and U.S. Treasuries. read more


US Defence Secretary James Mattis said on Friday (Dec 15) that analysis continued on North Korea's most recent missile test, but he did not believe its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) posed an imminent threat to the United States. "It has not yet shown to be a capable threat against us right now... we're still doing the forensics analysis," Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon. Last month, North Korea said it had successfully tested a new type of ICBM that could reach all of the US mainland and South Korea and US-based experts said data from the Nov 29 test appeared to support that. Mattis did not elaborate on what was lacking in the test to show it was not a capable threat. Some US based experts believe North Korea could be only two or three tests away from being able to declare the missile operational. read more


Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was freed from house arrest Friday, but he will be required to abide by a nightly curfew at his home in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The conditions of Manafort's release, while awaiting trial on money laundering and conspiracy charges lodged against him in October, were contained in a four-page order issued by U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson, adding that Manafort would be required to forfeit $10 million in real estate and cash if he failed to appear for future court hearings. The former campaign chief must abide by a curfew, from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., be subject to GPS monitoring and report once a week to federal authorities in West Palm Beach, Fla. read more


Thursday, December 14, 2017

In July, Russian President Vladimir Putin had announced, in an interview on state-run television, that he was decreasing by 755 the total number of personnel working at U.S. diplomatic facilities in his country. Closing the San Francisco consulate (and two smaller diplomatic annexes) was the Trump administration's retaliation for this move, which included the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, identified as spies, from the country (this list included four employees of the San Francisco consulate, including the building's "chef"). But why the focus on San Francisco? Why not close one of Russia's other three consulates, in New York, Seattle, or Houston? The answer, I discovered, appears to revolve around an intensive, sustained, and mystifying pattern of espionage emanating from the San Francisco consulate. read more


A US military agency is investing $100m in genetic extinction technologies that could wipe out malarial mosquitoes, invasive rodents or other species, emails released under freedom of information rules show. The documents suggest that the US's secretive Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) has become the world's largest funder of "gene drive" research and will raise tensions ahead of a UN expert committee meeting in Montreal beginning on Tuesday. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is debating whether to impose a moratorium on the gene research next year and several southern countries fear a possible military application. read more


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