Conflicts of interest plague White House
The Economist’s July 20th edition took a look at President Trump’s business conflicts of interest after six months on the job. The verdict: They look increasingly worse. Walter Shaub, the head of the Office of Government Ethics, has called the Trump administration’s global conflicts of interest, “pretty close to a laughing stock.” He’s resigning six months ahead of schedule. Trump has made appearances at his golf clubs and hotels more than 40 times as president, including hosting foreign leaders at Mar-a-Lago, in Florida.
Housing market threatens California’s future
California’s economy isn’t the problem. Construction and good jobs are plentiful in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. But there’s a darker side to prosperity: California’s median home cost has crept up to $500,000, making it hard for middle class families to find affordable housing. On Wednesday, The New York Times reported the spike in housing costs threatens to doom the state’s growth and quality of life. California lawmakers are weighing legislation to stymie neighborhood groups that have worked to derail affordable housing proposals.
Global cops shut down AlphaBay
AlphaBay, one of the largest online black markets for illegal drugs, fake I.D.s, firearms and toxic chemicals was seized by international law enforcement authorities on Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department announced. Law enforcement authorities in Thailand, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Canada and the United Kingdom—as well as Europol—assisted with the seizure of AlphaBay’s infrastructure. The New York Times reported the site’s chief administrator, Alexandre Cazes, was arrested by Thai authorities on July 5 and committed suicide in a Thai jail on July 12. AlphaBay had 200,000 users and 40,000 vendors, the Justice Department said on Thursday.
Lloyds of London warns of a super-attack
On Tuesday, Lloyd’s of London warned a global cyber attack could result in damages of as much as $121.4 billion, Bloomberg reported. That’s on par with losses caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Lloyd’s said in the report. Insurers alone could face total claims ranging from $620 million to $8.1 billion, the report said. Prominent hacker attacks have recently raised awareness of the vulnerability some companies have to cyber crime, Bloomberg reported.
ExxonMobile protests fine
ExxonMobile was fined $2 million, the maximum allowed under current law, for violating U.S. sanctions on Russia, authorities with the U.S. Treasury Department alleged on Thursday. The alleged violations occurred when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson led the global oil company, authorities said. CNN Money reported presidents of Exxon’s American subsidiaries cut a deal with Russian oil tycoon Igor Sechin after U.S. sanctions were imposed. Sechin is the CEO of the Russian state oil giant Rosneft and a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Exxon said it had relied on guidance from the Obama administration when representatives signed the deal in question and called the penalty unfair. Tillerson referred all questions to the Treasury Department and Exxon.
Bankrupt bridal brand says, “Sorry!”
Bankrupt bridal retailer Alfred Angelo finally reached out to panicked brides and apologized for “inconvenience and hardship” Fortune reported on Monday. The company directed customers to contact its bankruptcy trustee. The retailer filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy (a total liquidation) last week, rather than another form of bankruptcy that would have allowed the company to restructure its debt. That left brides who hadn’t yet received their dresses from more than 60 locations wondering what they’d wear down the aisle. The company had about $50,000 in assets and over $50 million in debt, according to The New York Times.