Asia Down on Huawei Robot Theft, Grand Jury Indictment
Asian stocks are down, though not too heavily, on a grand jury indictment of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wenzhou. She was arrested in Canada late last year and has been waiting for an extradition request by the United States federal government, which now is reportedly following through with it. The indictment is for 23 counts including theft of robot technology from T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS). In 2012, Huawei allegedly began to steal information on a new robot T-Mobile was building, and employees took photos and stole parts of the robot so engineers in China could replicate it, also offering bonuses for stolen information, according to emails obtained by the FBI. So this is not just about violating Iran sanctions. Or so the feds claim. A formal extradition request is expected to be filed on Tuesday. Meanwhile, in the shadow of this, Xi and Trump are meeting over trade again. Should go well.
Speaking of Chinese Espionage…
Users of FaceTime, the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone video chat app, can be spied on by anyone who calls them due to a bug in the software. Users can call a contact and listen in before they answer the call if conference calling is used. Not sure how useful this spying ability is unless they other person doesn’t know that his phone is ringing and he has a FaceTime request. In any case, Apple is on the case trying to fix the bug. Apple added multi-person FaceTime conferencing last year, which appears to be the source of the problem. The problem is expected to be resolved later this week.
Citgo Says Stop
After all the chaos and carnage and starvation in Venezuela, the Trump Administration has finally decided to ban oil imports from the socialist paradise. Its state-owned oil company PDVSA is already bruised and bleeding and barely functional, and this could collapse the entire operation if the ban lasts for any significant length of time. The effect would be to subject the Venezuelan population to an even worse economic hell, though the stated intention is to put more pressure on president Nicolas Maduro, to step aside, which for him would probably mean he gets torn apart limb from limb by an angry mob. So he’s probably not too keen on doing that. Perhaps the US should help him with an exit strategy to save face if they want him out. Oil prices (NYSEARCA:USO) remain steady today at $52 a barrel. The political opposition in Venezuela is now trying to take control of PDVSA and by extension its distributor Citgo so it can continue exports to the US.
Judge Will Hear Evidence of Monsanto Glyphosphate Study Manipulation in Roundup Trial
Uh oh for Monsanto owner Bayer (OTCMKTS:BAYRY), in a bind over the weed killer Roundup, which allegedly causes cancer. The judge in the case, Vince Chhabria, has decided to allow evidence of Monsanto’s attempts to ghostwrite studies over the years that vindicate Roundup as carcinogenic. The judge said that documents which showed the company taking a position on the science or a study introduced during the first phase were “super relevant.” Monsanto calls this sort of evidence a sideshow that will distract from scientific evidence. Technically, according to the standards of logical argument and debate, Monsanto is correct, because casting aspersions on a scientific study because of the people involved in it is technically ad hominem and does not deal with the study evidence itself. The evidence will only be allowed if glyphosphate is determined to have caused the cancer of Roundup user Edwin Hardeman. If so, then the ad hominem evidence will be used to determine Bayer’s liability. So it’s only sort of being admitted into evidence on contingency.
JPMorgan: Bitcoin Worth Less Than Mining Costs
JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), the biggest bank in the US by assets and not a very big fan of Bitcoin (BTC-USD) so much, has come out with a study showing that the current price of Bitcoin is not worth the costs of mining it. The production-weighted cash cost of mining a single Bitcoin is about $4,060, and the price of one Bitcoin is currently $3,433. The problem here is compounded by the fact that the more Bitcoins that are mined, the harder it is to mine it, the more expensive mining becomes, and therefore the more expensive Bitcoin becomes to transact with, and therefore the demand for it falls with the price. So there might be some trouble here going forward. Bitcoin appears to have fallen again recently, down 6% since Saturday.