• Elon Musk found not liable in case brought against him by British diver
    TechCrunch

    Elon Musk found not liable in case brought against him by British diver

    After a three-day trial, Elon Musk was found not liable for defamation in a federal court today in Los Angeles, where Musk reportedly owns a cluster of six homes as well as oversees the operations of both SpaceX and Tesla. British diver Vernon Unsworth had brought the suit against Musk in the fall of 2018 after Musk tweeted that Unsworth was a "pedo guy," meaning a pedophile. Why: after Musk and his employees developed what they called a mini-submarine or escape pod to save a children's soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand in July of 2018, Unsworth -- a stranger to Musk and an experienced diver with specific knowledge of the cave -- called the production a "PR stunt" when asked about the effort in an interview with CNN.

  • These 10 stories will drive investing for the next decade
    Yahoo Finance

    These 10 stories will drive investing for the next decade

    Peak globalization is one of 10 investing themes Bank of America-Merrill Lynch has highlighted for the next decade. Shifting demographics and automation are two other stories with investment implications.

  • Slovakia Shows That Hate Speech Is Bad, Banning It Is Worse
    Bloomberg

    Slovakia Shows That Hate Speech Is Bad, Banning It Is Worse

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Three months before Slovakia’s national election, Robert Fico, the nation’s former three-term prime minister and current leader of the ruling party, has been charged with hate speech, an offense that can potentially land him in prison for five years. Though what he said is certainly reprehensible, the case shows why censoring political speech, as many European countries routinely do, isn’t a great idea.The story began in October 2016, when Milan Mazurek, a nationalist member of the Slovak parliament, said in a radio interview that the government shouldn’t be funding housing for the country’s Roma minority — “people who have never done anything for our nation or our state, but on the contrary, chose to live in an asocial way and suck on our social system.” Both Mazurek and the radio station later were fined, and the legislator lost his parliamentary mandate. Slovakia’s Supreme Court made the final decision in the case in September 2019.Soon afterward, Fico posted a video on Facebook, in which he said:  “Milan Mazurek only said what nearly the whole nation thinks. If you punish someone for telling the truth, you make him a national hero.” That’s what landed him in trouble with the National Criminal Agency, which charged him on Thursday with disparaging nation, race and belief and with inciting ethnic hatred.The Roma, often described as Europe’s largest ethnic minority, are highly visible in Slovakia. They make up just 2% of the country’s population, but they largely live in segregated, often miserable settlements on the edge of villages or towns. An attempt to map them in 2016 found 804 such settlements. Few serious attempts at desegregation have been made: They are politically unpopular. Slovakia has one of the most anti-Roma populations in Europe.So in a way, what Fico said about Mazurek’s conviction making nationalist ideas even more popular makes sense — even if describing the ex-legislator’s word as “the truth” was unworthy of a mainstream European politician who has headed his country’s government for a total of 10 years. The Roma, after all, were an ethnic group the Nazis persecuted with an ardor matched only by that of the Holocaust.Yet Fico, as is his wont, couldn’t resist making a populist statement as his party, Smer, battles to retain its lead ahead of the election, set for Feb. 29 of next year. Though Fico is probably the most senior and high-profile political figure in Europe to be charged with inciting ethnic hate, European countries don’t shy away from using their hate speech laws against politicians. Far-right German politician Lutz Bachmann, founder of the anti-Islamic Pegida movement that staged huge demonstrations in eastern Germany, was fined 9,600 euros in 2016 for calling refugees from the Middle East “cattle,” “filth” and “scum.”French far-right leader Marine Le Pen spent years fighting criminal charges after her 2010 comment comparing Muslims praying in the streets to Nazi occupiers; she was acquitted in 2015, but now another trial is pending for her for posting gruesome images of Islamic State victims on Twitter in 2015, after a series of terror attacks in Paris. Lesser activists are regularly charged and sometimes sentenced.But Fico’s case, coming as it does in the heat of an election campaign, shows the potential for hate speech laws to be abused for political ends — something Fico himself, unsurprisingly, raised in a Facebook post on Friday. He claimed he was charged for “expressing an opinion” and accused the opposition of using the charges to attack his party, which stood firmly behind him.Thanks in large part to Smer’s long rule, Slovakia’s democratic institutions are hardly a shining example to the rest of Europe. Last year, Fico was forced to resign as prime minister after the murder of an investigative journalist and his fiance sparked mass protests. A wealthy businessman has been charged with ordering the killings.Corruption, even state capture, has emerged as a major problem, resulting in the election of anti-graft activist Zuzana Caputova to the country’s relatively weak presidency this year. The party behind the Caputova phenomenon, Progressive Slovakia, is the second most popular in the country behind Smer.But if it’s time for a change of ruling party, it shouldn’t come thanks to the prosecution of Smer’s leader for something he said. The charges could even backfire, given the Slovak public’s distrust of the Roma and the growing popularity of nationalist parties.It would be far better for the downtrodden minority and the country as a whole if the opposition could convincingly argue the case for a stronger and smarter integration effort and present a contrast to Fico’s rhetoric. Constructive moderate speech can win lots of votes, as Caputova proved earlier this year. Given Europe’s history with extreme nationalism, banning politicians from saying whatever they want on matters of race and ethnicity may look like an effective insurance policy against the emergence of another Hitler. It could be argued, though, that letting them speak their minds and play openly to nationalist sentiment would also strengthen resistance to populism. In a way, that’s what has happened in the U.S. since the election of Donald Trump as president. Speech, even disgusting speech, shouldn’t be a crime unless it calls directly for violence. Fico should be allowed to fight on free of harassment. If he loses, it’ll be a sign that European values are alive in Slovakia. If he wins, it’ll be as clear a sign of more nationalist trouble in Eastern Europe — and a signal for moderate forces to organize more effectively.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Tobin Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Elon Musk Beats Back Defamation Lawsuit Over Insulting Tweet
    Bloomberg

    Elon Musk Beats Back Defamation Lawsuit Over Insulting Tweet

    (Bloomberg) -- Elon Musk beat back a defamation claim from a British cave expert who sued the billionaire CEO over a tweet in which Musk labeled Vernon Unsworth a “pedo guy.”A federal jury in Los Angeles Friday took about an hour to return a verdict that said Musk’s insult fell short of defamation.“We were pretty much unanimous from the word ‘go,”’ said Carl Shusterman, a 70-year-old immigration lawyer who served on a jury for the first time.Shusterman said the verdict was straight-forward because it wasn’t clear if the tweet was actually about Unsworth, since Musk didn’t name him. The judge told the jurors that was one of the elements required to establish defamation, Shusterman said.“My faith in humanity has been restored,” Musk said after the verdict.It’s another win for Musk, 48, who’s managed to get out of legal trouble relatively unscathed. Musk agreed to step down from his role of chairman of Tesla Inc. for three years in 2018 to settle a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit over a tweet the regulator said misled investors. But he’s run Tesla and SpaceX as usual.“It’s the last formal distraction from when Elon Musk went off the Twitter rails in 2018,” said Gene Munster of Loup Ventures. “Putting that to rest -- regardless of what the jury decided --is a step forward for Musk.”Unsworth had sought $190 million in damages for the harm he claimed to have suffered from the tweet, and to punish Musk. Musk said he fired off the tweet in anger after Unsworth insulted him and his team in a television interview.“I respect the jury’s decision,” Unsworth said after the verdict. “I’ll take it on the chin and move on.”His lawyers were less gracious, repeatedly referring to Musk as a “billionaire bully.”L. Lin Wood, one of Unsworth’s lawyer, said he wasn’t happy with the outcome. “He deserved a different kind of justice,” Wood said. Wood said he hasn’t decided whether to appeal the verdict.The four-day civil trial featured Wood, and Alex Spiro -- two heavyweights squaring off in the courtroom. Wood had represented Richard Jewell, the security guard falsely accused of being connected to the Centennial Olympic Park bombing during the 1996 Summer Olympics.Spiro, a former prosecutor based in New York, lists rapper Jay-Z, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and several NBA players, including ex-Knick Charles Oakley as former clients.Spiro issued a five-word statement after the verdict.“The jury got it right,” he said.It was the first time that Musk has been called as a witness at a trial, despite numerous legal spats, including one with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over a tweet the regulator said misled investors.Musk told the jury the tweet aimed at Unsworth shouldn’t have been taken literally and was sent because the caver insulted his effort to help rescue members of a Thai soccer team from a flooded cave in 2018.The rescue effort had riveted the attention of the world’s media. Musk and engineers at his companies prepared a mini submarine, built with rocket parts, to help. The kids, aged 11 to 16, were saved without the use of the sub.The high-profile effort from the celebrity CEO drew derision from Unsworth, who knew the caves well and helped in the rescue effort. He told CNN that Musk could “stick his submarine where it hurts” and that it had no chance of working.Musk responded on Twitter, calling Unsworth a “pedo guy” and adding: “Never saw this British expat guy who lives in Thailand (sus) at any point when we were in the caves.” Sus -- meaning suspect, or suspicious.Later, he asked why Unsworth hadn’t sued him. Musk also hired a private investigator to dig into Unsworth’s personal life and leak information to British tabloids.Unsworth, a financial consultant who divides his time between England and Thailand, described to the jury the effect the tweet had on him.“When you combine ‘sus’ and ‘pedo guy,’ I took it as I was being branded a pedophile,” Unsworth said on Wednesday. “I feel vulnerable and sometimes, when I’m in the U.K., I feel isolated.”490 StoriesIt was a tweet heard around the world. An expert witness for Unsworth told the jury that 490 English-language stories were published mentioning the “pedo guy” tweet -- not including stories about the litigation.Musk, who had apologized to Unsworth on Twitter, did so again in court. But Unsworth told the jury he had nothing to apologize for to Musk.Musk told the jury he found Unsworth’s comments in the CNN interview wrong and insulting -- especially to his team which he said worked hard to help in the rescue effort -- and so he fired back.“I thought he was just some random, creepy guy that the media interviewed,” Musk said of Unsworth.Neither man impressed Shusterman, the juror. He said there was no need for Unsworth to put down Musk’s mini submarine, and Musk’s response was equally immature.“I felt it was like two junior high school students fighting,” Shusterman said.(Updates with juror’s comment in third paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at epettersson@bloomberg.net;Kelly Gilblom in London at kgilblom@bloomberg.net;Dana Hull in San Francisco at dhull12@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Craig Trudell at ctrudell1@bloomberg.net, Joe Schneider, Steve StrothFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Teflon Musk Wins Again With Escape From ‘Pedo Guy’ Firestorm

    (Bloomberg) -- Even before the verdict came in Friday, Elon Musk had earned the sobriquet Teflon Man on Twitter.Once a jury decided that he hadn’t defamed a British man by calling him a “pedo guy” in a post on the social media platform -- Musk’s favorite -- his reputation as a controversy-stirring billionaire who escapes relatively unscathed from the firestorms he creates for himself seemed to be sealed.Dan Ives, a Wedbush Securities analyst who covers Tesla Inc., one of Musk’s companies, repeated it: “Right now he’s the Teflon man.” But, Ives added, “it’s a cautionary tale and hopefully situations like this don’t repeat.”There have been more than a few of those already for Musk, who is chief executive officer of Tesla and chairman and CEO of SpaceX. His boards have tolerated them, his fans love him all the more for his antics and investors don’t seem to mind. Tesla shares have rallied more than 60% in the past six months.The defamation lawsuit “was the last formal distraction from when Elon Musk went off the Twitter rails in 2018,” said Gene Munster of Loup Ventures.Even with the positive outcome for Musk, it remains a highly unusual case for a CEO.In July 2018, as the world was riveted by efforts to save a Thai youth soccer team stuck in a flooded cave, Musk’s engineers tried to help by making a mini submarine out of rocket parts. Vernon Unsworth, an expert caver instrumental in the rescue, told CNN that the mini-sub was little more than a publicity stunt. Musk fired off the “pedo guy” tweet -- and hired a private investigator to dig into Unsworth’s personal life and leak information to British tabloids.From there, Musk seemed to lurch from crisis to crisis -- and emerged each time with relatively mild consequences. Another Twitter post in August 2018 got him into hot water with the Securities and Exchange Commission; the agency sued him for securities fraud because he said he was taking Tesla private at $420 a share and had “funding secured,” which he in fact did not. (Tesla is still a public company, by the way.)His settlement with the SEC cost him $20 million and stripped him of his board chairmanship for three years, but he kept running the company as before anyway.Then there was the famous pot-smoking episode on Joe Rogan’s popular podcast in September 2018. Photos of Musk puffing on a cigar-sized joint went viral in a case of unfortunate optics for SpaceX, which has a contract with NASA to fly astronauts to the International Space Station. Musk later acknowledged in an email to SpaceX employee that the stunt was “not wise.”Musk was back in the SEC’s sights this February with a Twitter post about Tesla production figures that the agency contended violated the settlement agreement. A judge declined the SEC’s request to hold Musk in contempt and told both sides to “put on your reasonableness pants” and work something out. They did, amending the original deal to include specific topics that Musk can’t tweet about without prior approval from a Tesla lawyer.On the highly active Twitterverse of Tesla watchers, Friday’s outcome brought a mix of condemnation and applause -- as well as marveling that Teflon Musk had struck again.Lin Wood, Unsworth’s attorney, had his own take: “Goliath wins almost every time.”To contact the reporter on this story: Dana Hull in San Francisco at dhull12@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Craig Trudell at ctrudell1@bloomberg.net, Anne Reifenberg, Kara WetzelFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Amazon Leases Midtown Space after Halting HQ2 Plan for NYC

    (Bloomberg) -- Less than a year after Amazon.com Inc. walked away from a planned headquarters in New York, the e-commerce giant has announced a significant expansion in midtown Manhattan.The company signed a lease for 335,000 square feet in the Hudson Yards neighborhood on the west side. The new office will accommodate more than 1,500 workers and is slated to open in 2021, according to an e-mailed statement.“As we shared earlier this year, we plan to continue to hire and grow organically across our 18 Tech Hubs, including New York City,” the Seattle-based company said.Amazon abandoned plans in February to build an additional headquarters in New York’s Long Island City neighborhood following fierce public criticism of tax breaks promised to the company, and concerns about the impact on housing costs and transportation. The move sent shock waves through New York’s real estate community, which worried that the city was becoming inhospitable to business.But recent months have shown that companies are still attracted to New York and its deep pool of talented workers. Facebook Inc. announced that it was leasing more than 1.5 million square feet at Hudson Yards last month. And Google is also in the midst of a major expansion in the city.Amazon said it is not receiving tax benefits or other incentives for its new office, which will be located in SL Green Realty Corp.’s building on 10th Avenue between 33rd and 34th Streets. The outpost will be roughly the same size as the company’s other corporate offices in New York, where it currently has more than 3,500 employees in its tech hub.Dow Jones reported the lease earlier on Friday.To contact the reporter on this story: Noah Buhayar in Seattle at nbuhayar@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Craig Giammona at cgiammona@bloomberg.net, Linus Chua, Stanley JamesFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Tesla Inc boss Elon Musk wins defamation trial over 'pedo guy' tweet
    Reuters

    Tesla Inc boss Elon Musk wins defamation trial over 'pedo guy' tweet

    A U.S. District Court jury in Los Angeles on Friday found in favour of Tesla Inc boss Elon Musk in the defamation lawsuit brought against him by a British cave explorer who Musk had branded a "pedo guy" on Twitter. The plaintiff, Vernon Unsworth, was seeking $190 million (£148 million) damages against Musk, who during the trial estimated his net worth at $20 billion.

  • Amazon (AMZN) Gains But Lags Market: What You Should Know
    Zacks

    Amazon (AMZN) Gains But Lags Market: What You Should Know

    Amazon (AMZN) closed at $1,751.60 in the latest trading session, marking a +0.64% move from the prior day.

  • Bloomberg

    British Cave Expert Seeks $190 Million in Damages From Musk

    (Bloomberg) -- Elon Musk should pay $190 million in damages to a British cave expert who claims he was defamed by the chief executive of Tesla Inc. in a tweet, the caver’s lawyer told a jury at the end of a trial in Los Angeles.A jury of five women and three men will decide the issue. Before the panel began deliberating, shortly after 1 p.m. in Los Angeles, standing next to the defense table where Musk was seated, L. Lin Wood told them: “Elon Musk is a liar.”Wood asked the jury to award $5 million in actual damages, $35 million in assumed damages and $150 million in punitive damages.Musk called Vernon Unsworth a “pedo guy” in a tweet, responding to an interview the caver gave on television in which he criticized Musk’s effort to use a miniature submarine to rescue members of a soccer team trapped in a Thai cave in 2018.Musk had argued “pedo guy” actually meant “creepy old man,” but Wood said Musk knows that’s not true.“He dropped a bomb on this man,” Wood told the jury, as a tight-lipped Musk glared at the lawyer.Musk’s lawyer Alex Spiro said in his closing argument that Unsworth hadn’t provided any evidence showing he was harmed by the tweets. Although he claimed on the stand to have suffered emotional damage from being a called a pedophile, Spiro said nobody believed he was accused of the crime.Spiro also argued that there had been no independent confirmation that Unsworth suffered emotionally. Unsworth’s Thai companion, Tik, was the only one who noticed when he had a “bad day,” the caver told the jury. But Tik never testified.“Tik’s been with him through this whole thing,” Spiro said. “Where’s Tik?”(Updates with Musk’s lawyer)To contact the reporters on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at epettersson@bloomberg.net;Dana Hull in San Francisco at dhull12@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net, Joe Schneider, Steve StrothFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • GameStop Q3 Earnings Preview: Will GME Stock's Freefall Continue?
    Zacks

    GameStop Q3 Earnings Preview: Will GME Stock's Freefall Continue?

    GameStop (GME) is set to report its third quarter report after the closing bell on Tuesday, December 10.

  • Reuters - UK Focus

    US STOCKS-Wall Street climbs on solid jobs data, trade hopes

    Wall Street ended solidly higher on Friday as a strong jobs report and optimism about U.S.-China trade negotiations ahead of an upcoming deadline helped stoke investor risk appetite. The Dow and the Nasdaq ended the session down from last Friday's close. "This type of report shows underlying economic strength, and it gives corporate management confidence in the strength of the economy," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York.

  • Top Research Reports for Apple, PepsiCo & BHP
    Zacks

    Top Research Reports for Apple, PepsiCo & BHP

    Top Research Reports for Apple, PepsiCo & BHP

  • Buy Apple (AAPL) Stock on Analyst Optimism Heading into 2020?
    Zacks

    Buy Apple (AAPL) Stock on Analyst Optimism Heading into 2020?

    Apple (AAPL) closed up over 1.4% Thursday after a Citi analyst predicted the iPhone maker to outperform this upcoming holiday season.

  • Is Trade Scaring You? ETF Strategies for 2019 Holiday Season
    Zacks

    Is Trade Scaring You? ETF Strategies for 2019 Holiday Season

    It is less likely that Santa alone will drive Wall Street this season as trade tensions persist. Overall, these ETF investing trends should stay strong.

  • GBP/USD Weekly Price Forecast – British Pound Finally Breaks Out
    FX Empire

    GBP/USD Weekly Price Forecast – British Pound Finally Breaks Out

    The British pound broke out during the week, breaking above the crucial 1.30 level kicking off a bullish flag. This of course has been helped by a little bit more certainty with the UK elections.

  • Peloton Backlash Comes With Silver Lining: Pre-Holiday Publicity
    Bloomberg

    Peloton Backlash Comes With Silver Lining: Pre-Holiday Publicity

    (Bloomberg) -- Peloton Interactive Inc. has been pilloried online and punished on the stock market following the release of a holiday ad for its stationary exercise bike that was deemed culturally insensitive. But the backlash could be a good thing for the company in the long run.The commercial, which features a woman documenting a year in her life with the Peloton bike her male partner gave her, struck some viewers as out of touch -- suggesting the already thin “Grace from Boston” was undergoing a strenuous workout in order to lose weight for the guy. The video, released about a month ago, went viral on social media, eliciting a scathing parody by comedian Eva Victor and prompting Peloton to close comments on the official YouTube video.As the internet buzz seemed to hit a peak earlier this week, Peloton’s stock fell 9%. But some experts say the increased attention could end up boosting sales. The shares were up 3.7% on Friday in New York.“They might benefit more because people are looking it up and learning more about it,” Laura Ries, president of advertising consultancy firm Ries & Ries, said. It’s still a short-term bump for a company that has historically been largely successful with marketing, with a total member base of 1.6 million people including more than 560,000 who have one of the proprietary bikes or treadmills plus a fitness subscription, according to Peloton’s most recent quarterly report. The official Peloton ad on the company’s YouTube channel has been seen by more than 3.6 million people.The controversy comes at a crucial time for the New York-based company, which is new to market scrutiny after listing shares in September, as it seeks to capitalize on the all-important holiday sales season and expand in new markets like the U.K. and Germany. The shares had gained 27% since its initial public offering before the wave of internet commentary dragged it down on Tuesday. The company is also facing increased competition in the booming at-home fitness market, especially among workout apps. Nike Inc., Aaptiv Inc. and apps like Kayla Itsines’s Sweat with Kayla have all gained followings for exercise programs available on a user’s phone.Peloton has been punished by Wall Street for its focus on growth over profitability. The company sells a stationary bike starting at about $2,000 and a treadmill that costs about $4,000, in addition to a basic “connected fitness” subscription plan at $39 a month for those pieces of hardware, and the separate digital apps that don’t require equipment. Its loss narrowed in the three months ended Sept. 30 to $49.8 million.The stock surged almost 10% last Friday after the company was reportedly seeing strong demand on Black Friday. And earlier this month, Peloton lowered the price of its digital subscription app to $12.99 a month from $19.49 in conjunction with the launch of new apps for Amazon’s Fire TV and the Apple Watch, a move that could entice new users. JMP Securities analysts raised their price target on the stock after the subscription reduction, saying it “broadens Peloton’s reach, improves conversion, and reduces purchase friction.” Ronald Josey, a JMP analyst, said there are “a lot of good things going on” at the company and that people will continue to buy the bike and other products despite the controversy.According to the most recent earnings report, Peloton expects its user base to grow to 680,000 or more by the end of its second quarter thanks to holiday sales and New Year’s resolutions.Scott Galloway, a professor of marketing a the NYU Stern School of Business, said the commercial itself is tone deaf and borderline offensive. But “in this attention-driven economy, anything that gets attention is arguably a positive,” he said in an interview. “It’s bringing Peloton into the social discourse on very regular basis, which is what ads are supposed to do.” If Peloton had to do it again, Galloway said, “I’d argue they probably would.”(Updates shares in third paragraph. A previous version of the story corrected a company error in the subscription price.)To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Verhage in New York at jverhage2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Mark Milian at mmilian@bloomberg.net, Molly Schuetz, Anne VanderMeyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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