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Dec 13, 2018

What's News: Apple to Build New Austin Campus; U.K.’s May Survives Leadership Challenge; Best Travel Deals Go Overseas

The Wall Street Journal.
What’s News
Sun icon. Good Morning
Here’s what we’re watching as the U.S. business day gets under way:
Cohen sentencing, tabloid deal escalate Donald Trump's legal woes. The sentencing of one former ally of the president and the disclosure of a key agreement with another strengthened the evidence that Mr. Trump helped coordinate efforts to suppress the stories of two women to protect his 2016 campaign.
Apple plans to build a $1 billion campus in Austin. The tech giant will invest in a new 133-acre Texan premise that will initially accommodate 5,000 employees, with the capacity to grow to 15,000. It will also open new offices in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City, Calif.—adding more than 1,000 employees in each place.
Theresa May survived a leadership challenge. The British prime minister beat back a damaging rebellion within her party but was left politically wounded with the route to Brexit muddier than ever. Mrs. May now heads to a summit today with European Union leaders in Brussels.
China prepares to increase access to foreign companies. Beijing plans to replace an industrial policy savaged by the Trump administration as protectionist by playing down China’s bid to dominate manufacturing and be more open to participation by firms from outside the country.
The ECB is winding down its $3 trillion bond-buying program. The central bank is expected to confirm plans to end asset buying, known as quantitative easing, at its meeting today, becoming the third leading central bank to wind down QE.
Many states are seeing strong revenue. With most states nearing the midpoint of their fiscal years, which end June 30, at least 19 of them are reporting higher-than-expected general-fund revenue, building on gains pegged to the expanding economy and federal tax overhaul.
Coming Friday: How GE burned out. Its business was sputtering. Its stock was spiraling. Its big bet was failing. But the men who led GE remained optimistic. The company defined U.S. industrial might and had helped shape the American Century. Why would this time be different? Get notified when the story goes live.

What's Trending

Single-serve water bottles are popular. They're also made from plastic, and that's becoming a problem. Companies are trying to do what’s eluded them for years: make a better bottle. Evian has pledged to make all its bottles 100% recycled plastic. Nestlé, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and other makers are adding products and trying new strategies.
The Boy Scouts are considering a bankruptcy filing. As the group faces dwindling membership and escalating legal costs related to lawsuits over how it handled allegations of sex abuse, Leaders of the Boy Scouts have hired a law firm for assistance in a possible chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.
Banks get kinder, gentler treatment under President Trump. To ease oversight of banks, regulators appointed by the president are asking examiners who monitor day-to-day operations to be more collegial in their dealings with financial firms.
China's detention of a Canadian is seen as retaliation. State-security agents detained Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat, in Beijing—a move seen by friends and former colleagues as payback for Canada’s arrest of Huawei's chief financial officer at the behest of the U.S.
The best winter travel deals go overseas. International travel is booming over Christmas and New Year, driven by favorable currency exchange rates and plentiful airline service, writes the Journal's Scott McCartney.
Why U.S. school districts are banning homework. The goal is to give students more time to read, sleep and spend time with family, especially at the elementary level, school administrators say. But the changes have been met with concern by some teachers, who say it takes away a tool to reinforce the day’s lesson.
After #MeToo, harassment complaints still bring retaliation. Much of the #MeToo movement has been about emboldening people who experience harassment to come forward without fear of retribution, but data show there are negative consequences for many who do.

Tax Watch

Highlights from our tax coverage
Avoiding the cost of free parking. The Treasury relaxed rules that would have proved costly for churches and charities that provide employee parking.
A tax bill in both houses. The House GOP scrambled to reshape a smorgasbord tax bill it wants to pass by year’s end. The Senate also voted to overturn a rule letting nonprofits withhold information about donors from tax authorities. Neither chamber has shown interest in the other’s measure.
The Treasury gets a deputy. The Senate confirmed Justin Muzinich as deputy Treasury secretary, the first of the Trump administration.
Age has its privileges. Those over 70½ can make charitable contributions from their Individual Retirement Accounts, effectively replacing deductions that Congress pared back a year ago, Wall Street Journal tax columnist Laura Saunders writes.

Chart of the Day

GM's CEO attempts to navigate political fallout. Mary Barra spent much of last week on Capitol Hill in closed-door meetings with lawmakers who felt blindsided by the auto maker’s plans to cut thousands of jobs and close four U.S. plants, accusing GM of taking away jobs from U.S. workers to produce more vehicles in Mexico.

News From Other Sources

Fentanyl is now the deadliest drug in the U.S. The opioid pain reliever has become the drug most frequently involved in overdose deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oxycodone was the most common drug linked to overdose deaths in 2011, before being surpassed by heroin.
via National Public Radio
A near-record number of journalists are behind bars. There were 251 reporters jailed for doing their job around the world as of Dec. 1, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. More than half are in Turkey, China and Egypt.
via Reuters
Virgin Galactic aims for the edge of space. Richard Branson’s space-tourism company will launch the fourth powered test flight today since a 2014 fatal crash. A successful flight could be a turning point as the firm races against Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX to launch a commercial space service.
via Financial Times

This Day in History

Dec. 13, 1918
Wilson Makes First U.S. Presidential Trip to Europe
President Woodrow Wilson arrived in Brest, France, after nine days of travel aboard the SS George Washington. Wilson then traveled by land to a peace conference in Versailles, seeking a definitive end to World War I. Wilson also led the effort to establish the League of Nations during his visit, which would last 26 years and be replaced by the United Nations after World War II.
—Compiled and edited by Phil Nobile in New York and Katy Barnato in London. 

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