Donald Trump's precise plan to build a border wall and make Mexico pay for it involves confiscating remittance payments that Mexicans living in America send home to their families, he revealed on Tuesday. It's a plan that in practice would expand the black market for money transfers and even increase crime:
Security and money-laundering experts who watch the underground financial economy say that in all likelihood, such a rule would not stop the remittances: It would simply send them into the underground economy. Couriers or others will help facilitate money transfers across the border; Mexican nationals could also transfer money through a digital currency like Bitcoin.
"I guarantee you, before the wall has five bricks in it," said [Don Semesky, a former financial investigator at the IRS and DEA], "there would be an informal black market."
Either way, the result would be devastating for law enforcement: they’d lose a powerful tool to trace dubious money tied to drug-runners, terrorists, or human traffickers. [Politico]
On Wednesday, Jack Ma, founder and chairman of the Chinese retailer Alibaba, walked back a promise he made to President Trump in January 2017.
During their meeting, Ma told Trump he planned on creating 1 million jobs in the United States over five years, getting American businesses and farmers onto Alibaba's online platform to sell their wares in China. There's no way this could happen now, Ma told the Chinese news outlet Xinhua on Wednesday. "The promise was made on the premise of friendly U.S.-China partnership and rational trade relations," he said. "That premise no longer exists today, so our promise cannot be fulfilled."
On Monday, in the latest round of tariffs the U.S. imposed levies on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China retaliated by slapping tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. imports. During an Alibaba investor conference on Tuesday, Ma called the trade tensions "a mess," but told Xinhua he will not "stop working hard to contribute to the healthy development of China-U.S. trade." Catherine Garcia
"Sunday Morning" has made it to Super Bowl Sunday.
The halftime show at Super Bowl LIII will be headlined by dad-friendly rock band Maroon 5, sources told Variety on Wednesday.
The pop group recently collaborated with rappers Cardi B and Kendrick Lamar, leading to predictions that they will join Maroon 5 on stage when they perform in Atlanta in February 2019. Besides "Sunday Morning," Maroon 5 could perform more recent hits like "Sugar," "Moves like Jagger," and "Animals."
The NFL has not confirmed that Maroon 5 was selected for the 53rd Super Bowl, but if the group performs, they would join the ranks of Prince, Beyonce, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, and Paul McCartney, all of whom have performed Super Bowl halftime shows. Read more at Variety. Summer Meza
After spending 27 years in prison on a murky murder charge, Valentino Dixon has been declared innocent thanks to his colored pencils and a golf magazine.
Dixon was sentenced to 39 years to life in prison for the 1991 murder of Torriano Jackson, and served most of the sentence in the Attica Correctional Facility. He passed the time sketching detailed landscapes of golf courses, and eventually caught the eye of Golf Digest. In 2012, Dixon shared his story with the magazine: his shaky conviction, his maintained innocence, and how he longed to set foot on the courses he drew.
Despite a wave of media attention following the profile, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo still puttered past a pardon for Dixon, Golf Digest details. But then, two attorneys stepped in and built a pro bono case around the original magazine article — though "it's embarrassing for the legal system that for a long time the best presentation of the investigation was from a golf magazine," one of the defenders told Golf Digest.
That defense, eventually corroborated with a wrongful convictions report, resulted in Dixon becoming a free man. The man who admitted responsibility for Jackson's killing on the day he was shot — and nearly every day since — pleaded guilty. And Dixon, with his "family and support team" in tow, went to the park.
Ryan Coogler, who earlier this year directed the wildly successful superhero film Black Panther, has just lined up a highly unexpected next project.
Per The Hollywood Reporter, Coogler is now set to produce Space Jam 2, the sequel to Warner Bros.' beloved 1996 movie in which Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes characters unite to play a basketball game against evil aliens. This time, LeBron James will star in the lead role, having been attached to the project since 2016. Previously, Star Trek Beyond's Justin Lin was going to direct, but now, Random Acts of Flyness creator Terrence Nance will fill that role.
James told The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday that he "loved [Coogler's] vision" for Black Panther, adding that he wants to inspire people with the Space Jam sequel the way Coogler did with that film. The Space Jam sequel does not yet have a release date or an official title, but it's set to begin production in 2019. James' production company, SpringHill Entertainment, teased the project on Instagram with a photo of a locker room populated by James and Bugs Bunny, and ComicBook.com writer Brandon Davis speculates the numbers seen in the picture, 1-23-20-21, might suggest the release date is Jan. 23, 2021. Read more about the Space Jam sequel at The Hollywood Reporter. Brendan Morrow
A recent essay in the New York Review of Books was so controversial that it has resulted in the editor's departure before even hitting newsstands.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that Ian Buruma has left as editor of the Review of Books. This comes days after the erudite magazine published a piece by former radio host Jian Ghomeshi, who has been accused of sexual assault by over 20 women. He was acquitted of five charges in 2016, per The Guardian. In a piece titled "Reflections from a Hashtag," Ghomeshi talks about the #MeToo movement and the experience of living as an outcast after facing sexual misconduct allegations.
The essay is to appear in the magazine's Oct. 11 edition, but it was published online on Sept. 14. A backlash swiftly followed, with critics arguing that Ghomeshi should not have been given a platform to paint himself as a victim and that the magazine allowed him to mischaracterize the allegations against him. Buruma defended the decision to publish the article in an interview with Slate last week, arguing that it wasn't "a defense of what he may have done" but was an "angle on an issue that is clearly very important." While noting that Ghomeshi was acquitted, Buruma also argued, "The exact nature of his behavior — how much consent was involved — I have no idea, nor is it really my concern."
In clinical trials for the majority of FDA-approved cancer drugs, fewer than 5 percent of the patients were black, Stat News and ProPublica reported Wednesday.
Out of the 31 cancer drugs approved since 2015, 24 of them have had single-digit proportions of black patients during trials, the analysis found. In one trial for a multiple myeloma treatment, just 1.8 percent of participants were black, even though black Americans are twice as likely as white Americans to be diagnosed with the blood cancer and there may be "meaningful differences" in how the condition affects the two races.
The Food and Drug Administration has not established any rules that would require drug makers to test treatments on minority patients, and many manufacturers don't diversify their trials voluntarily, reports Stat News.
Drug companies often say it is challenging to enroll minorities, reports ProPublica. The clinical trials with the highest black participation, up to 12 percent, were from Johnson & Johnson, a company that uses an internal group to improve trial diversity. Advocates have called on the FDA to implement similar standards across the industry, but the agency has demurred.
Minorities are also often not properly incentivized or are not able to participate: Financial barriers, logistical challenges, and distrust of the medical community are all factors that sometimes discourage minorities from joining trials, even though they could be "life-extending opportunities," said Dr. Kashif Ali, research head at Maryland Oncology Hematology. Read more at Stat News. Summer Meza
President Trump has a true appreciation for the power of nature. Especially when it washes a boat onto someone's yard.
Trump visited North Carolina on Wednesday to survey damage in the few areas where Hurricane Florence's floodwaters have subsided. One homeowner was particularly concerned that his insurance company wouldn't pay for the flooding damage, but Trump was more excited that the man "got a nice boat out of the deal," The New York Times' Mark Landler reports.
After meeting a man who'd named his dog after the president, Trump noticed a yacht had trucked through another man's deck. "I think it's incredible what we're seeing," Trump said after confirming the boat was not the homeowner's. "The boat just came here." And while Trump promised to "find out the name of the insurance company" that snubbed the man, he also suggested the free boat could make up for it. "What's the law?" the president asked. "Maybe it just becomes theirs."
Trump to a homeowner in New Bern, NC, who had a yacht wash up in his backyard: “At least you got a nice boat out of the deal.” pic.twitter.com/twtT3it8ul
— Mark Landler (@MarkLandler) September 19, 2018
Besides being awestruck by a mystery boat, Trump also made sure to confirm North Carolina's Lake Norman was doing okay, Landler reports. Trump "love(s) that area," he told a state official, but he "can't tell you why." Survey says it's because there's a Trump National Golf Club on the shore. Kathryn Krawczyk