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Apr 22, 2018

Anonymous Official | IS an Early WARNING Sign of whats to Come? - April 22, 2018.

BBC | No -deal Brexit 2Disastrous" for food firmson April 22, 2018.

bbc.com

No-deal Brexit 'disastrous' for food firms



Shopping basket Image copyright Getty Images
A free trade deal with the EU after Brexit is "crucial" for the UK food and drink industry and failure to secure one would be "disastrous", a committee of MPs has warned.
A no-deal outcome would have a "seismic impact", said the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee.
An EU free trade deal should be the number one priority, the MPs said.
The £28.8bn industry is the UK's largest manufacturing sector, employing 400,000 people.
Rachel Reeves, who chairs the committee, said: "The success of the industry has been highly dependent on participating in the [EU] single market and customs union.
"To ensure the continued success of our food and drinks industry, the government must provide clarity and certainty on our future relationship with the EU and seek continued regulatory, standards, and trading alignment with the EU in the processed food and drink sector."

'Less choice'

Without access to EU markets after December 2020, when the post-Brexit transition period is due to end, UK exports of processed foods such as chocolate, cheese, beef, pork and soft drinks would suffer, the committee said.
At the same time UK consumers would see less choice on supermarket shelves and have to pay higher prices, it added.
Defaulting to World Trade Organization tariffs "would not be an acceptable outcome for the sector and would seriously jeopardise the competitiveness of UK exports", the committee said.
"The government should also seek to replicate all existing EU trade deals with third countries, as they constitute our biggest export destinations."
The committee also pointed out that the UK's food and drink industry was heavily reliant on EU workers and called on the government to ensure that the sector could "continue to have immediate access to the skills it needs".
Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, described the committee's report as "an extremely valuable contribution to the debate about the UK's future trading relationship with the EU".
He added: "We echo the committee's call to government for increased customs capacity and support for businesses of all sizes to navigate the changes ahead. The proposed transition length is briefer than we believe would be optimum and government must review how 'readiness' is progressing."

Iran nuclear deal: Macron urges Trump to stick with 2015 accord | BBC on Aprij 22, 2018.

bbc.com

Iran nuclear deal: Macron urges Trump to stick with 2015 accord


U.S. President Donald Trump meets French President Emmanuel Macron in New York, U.S., 18 September 2017 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The two leaders have "a very special relationship", Mr Macron says
French President Emmanuel Macron has urged his US counterpart, Donald Trump, to stick with the Iran nuclear deal, saying there is no better option.
He was speaking to Fox News ahead of a three-day state visit to the US starting on Monday.
Mr Trump has threatened to abandon the deal, which limits Iran's nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief, unless it is toughened up.
He has until 12 May to decide whether to restore US sanctions against Iran.
Correspondents say such a move would effectively kill the landmark agreement between Iran and six major western powers.
The two leaders are expected to address the issue when Mr Trump hosts Mr Macron this week.
Mr Macron told Fox News he had no "plan B" for the deal if the US decided to restore sanctions, and said the US should stay in the agreement as long as there was no better option.
"Let's present this framework because it's better than the sort of North Korean-type situation."
He said the two leaders had "a very special relationship" and he wanted to address ballistic missiles as part of the deal - a key demand of the US president - as well as work to contain Iran's influence in the region.
President Trump is also demanding that signatories to the deal agree permanent restrictions on Iran's uranium enrichment. Under the current deal they are set to expire in 2025.
He has put pressure on his European co-signatories to address these issues before the 12 May deadline, when he needs to decide whether to sign a waiver giving sanctions relief to Iran.
Under US law, passed during the Obama administration, the president needs to sign these waivers every 120-180 days acknowledging Iran's compliance with the deal.
When Mr Trump signed the last one, in January, he said it was a "last chance" to change the accord, before the US withdraws.
Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif warned on Saturday that his country was prepared to resume its nuclear programme "at much greater speed", if the US withdrew from the accord.
Mr Macron also appealed to the US president not to pull troops out of Syria after the final defeat of so-called Islamic State, saying that would "leave the floor" to Iran and Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.

NYT | In Message to Trump, Europe and Mexico Announce Trade Pact, on April 22, 2018.

nytimes.com

In Message to Trump, Europe and Mexico Announce Trade Pact

Ana Swanson and Milan Schreuer

In announcing a trade pact with Mexico on Saturday, Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, said, “Trade can and should be a win-win process and today’s agreement shows just that.” Vincent Kessler/Reuters
WASHINGTON — The European Union and Mexico on Saturday announced a major update to their existing free trade pact signed nearly two decades ago, a development that will allow almost all goods, including agricultural products, to move between Europe and Mexico duty-free.
The deal, which has yet to be formally signed, is expected to increase trade in dairy, pork, services, digital goods and medicines between the economies. It will also give Mexico greater access to an advanced consumer market, as negotiations with the Trump administration over the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement still appear to be on uncertain ground.
And it sends a message to Mr. Trump that some of America’s closest trading partners are moving ahead with deals of their own — potentially leaving American exporters on the losing end in foreign markets.
In its announcement, Mexico said the agreement would help modernize its existing commercial relationship.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, said in a statement that “trade can and should be a win-win process and today’s agreement shows just that.” He added, “With this agreement, Mexico joins Canada, Japan and Singapore in the growing list of partners willing to work with the E.U. in defending open, fair and rules-based trade.”
The European Union and Mexico said they had reached an agreement in principle on the most important elements of the agreement, with some technical details yet to be resolved. They are aiming to finalize it by year’s end, after which it must be ratified by the European Parliament and the Mexican Senate.
The original trade pact, signed in 1997, was relatively narrow, mainly eliminating tariffs on cars and machinery. The deal came into force in 2000 and was the first free trade pact between Europe and a Latin American country.
Since then, the European Union has added 13 members, and the internet has dramatically changed global business. In May 2016, the countries started negotiations to update the pact. The revised deal adds in a variety of new rules governing agricultural goods, telecommunications, digital trade, intellectual property, climate change, anti-corruption measures, finance and energy.
The deal is particularly notable for giving Mexico access to another wealthy market similar to the United States. The European Union is Mexico’s second-biggest export market after the United States. Yet it is a distant second to the United States, where roughly 80 percent of Mexican exports go.
Mr. Trump has called those close economic ties into question by starting an ambitious renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Nafta negotiators say they may be close to finalizing a deal in the coming weeks. But much uncertainty remains, as the United States, Mexico and Canada continue to advocate for vastly different measures.
Fredrik Erixon, director of the European Centre for International Political Economy, a Brussels-based research organization, said that Mr. Trump’s aggressive posture on trade had pushed Mexico toward negotiations with Europe.
“The E.U. has for at least 10 years been knocking on the door of Mexico to upgrade the trade agreement, and it is only very recently that they have come along,” he said. “It’s perfectly obvious that what has prompted them to change their minds is Donald Trump.”
Both Europe and Mexico have actively been pushing forward with new trade deals amid a global resurgence of skepticism about the benefits of free trade.
Mexico remains part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multicountry trade deal that President Trump criticized and withdrew from on his fourth day in office. The remaining members, including Canada, Japan, Australia and Chile, signed a deal without the United States in March. Mexico is also negotiating with Argentina and Brazil, and has sought out potential alternatives to purchases of American grain and meat if Nafta were to fall apart.
The European Union now has close ties with both of America’s Nafta partners, after a new pact with Canada went into force in September.

DAVOS 2018 | A New Growth Paradigm for Emerging Economies - 23-26 January 2018 Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.

The New York Times | China, Feeling Left Out, Has Plenty to Worry About in North Korea-U.S. Talks, on April 22,2018.

                                                                     

 
nytimes.com

China, Feeling Left Out, Has Plenty to Worry About in North Korea-U.S. Talks

Jane Perlez

Kim Jong-un, center, at a banquet with President Xi Jingping of China, front left, in Beijing in March. Korean Central News Agency
BEIJING — As the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un prepares for his meetings with the presidents of South Korea and the United States, China has found itself in an unaccustomed place: watching from the sidelines.
Worse, many Chinese analysts say, North Korea could pursue a grand bargain designed not only to bring the isolated nation closer to its two former Korean War opponents, but also diminish its reliance on China for trade and security.
Such an outcome — a reversal of 70 years of history — remains a long shot, amid doubts about whether the North would agree to relinquish its arsenal of nuclear weapons. Still, China finds itself removed from the center of the rapidly unfolding diplomacy, and unusually wary about Mr. Kim’s objectives in reaching out to his nation’s two bitterest enemies.
Mr. Kim’s meeting with the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, is set for Friday, and a meeting with President Trump — the first ever between leaders of the two nations — is expected to follow in May or early June. In a sign of just how much is suddenly on the table, South Korea recently confirmed that it was in talks with the North and with the United States about signing a treaty to end the Korean War, which halted in 1953, but never formally ended.
With events moving so quickly, and Beijing finding itself largely left on the outside, analysts said China and its leader, Xi Jinping, must at least consider what they called worst-case contingencies.
“The loss of prestige is a big problem for China and Xi, who wants everyone else to view China as an essential actor of international relations, especially in the Northeast Asian context,” said Zhang Baohui, a professor of international relations at Lingnan University in Hong Kong. “Now, suddenly, China is no longer relevant.”
In a declaration over the weekend that North Korea would suspend nuclear and missile tests, Mr. Kim spoke as if the North was already a nuclear power, and no longer needed weapons tests, a direct challenge to the Trump administration’s stated goal of denuclearization. Washington has declared that the coming negotiations are about getting rid of the arsenal.
Still, President Trump apparently wants to claim a place in history as the American leader who formally ended the Korean War — even though he tweeted on Sunday morning that he was not rushing into a deal. And Mr. Moon is eager to edge toward the reunification of the two Koreas. So China fears the outcome could be either a North Korea or a unified Korean Peninsula leaning toward the United States.
Since the 1950-53 Korean War, when China fought on the side of the North against the United States and its ally in the South, the alliances have been immovable. The North has provided a convenient buffer for China against having American troops on its border; the South serves as a base in the region for the American military.
A banner in Seoul this past week showed a map of the Korean Peninsula and a wish for a successful outcome to the meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea on Friday. Chung Sung-jun/Getty Images
In negotiations over the denuclearization of the North, Beijing has to worry whether all that could suddenly be in play, Chinese analysts said.
“If a grand deal can be struck between Kim and Trump, in the form of denuclearization in exchange for normalization of bilateral relations, then Northeast Asia may see a major realignment,” Mr. Zhang said. “China does not run Kim’s foreign policy and they know that.”
The possible new alignment on the Korean Peninsula that most concerns Beijing is a loose unification between North and South Korea with American troops remaining in the South.
As part of its conciliatory moves before the meetings, the North has dropped its demand for the departure of the 28,000 United States troops stationed in the South as a condition for denuclearization.
“A unified, democratic Korea aligned with the U.S. will be dangerous to the Communist regime in China, though not necessarily the Chinese nation,” said Xia Yafeng, a North Korea expert at Long Island University.
From China’s point of view, a favorable outcome from the meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim may simply be a less dangerous version of the status quo, Mr. Xia said.
There could be a “nice photo” of the two men, with vague promises from the North Korean leader to get rid of his nuclear weapons, and then long negotiations in which China would have a big say, he said.
What is curious is that China has for decades spoken in favor of a peace treaty to end the Korean War. Premier Zhou Enlai of China mentioned ending the Korean War in a 1971 interview with The New York Times columnist James Reston, Mr. Xia said.
China, however, has a very specific view of what such a treaty would entail: the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea, which would leave both Koreas leaning toward China.
“A peace treaty is good for China in that it will presumably denuclearize North Korea, and more important, it will end the legality of the U.S. military alliance and troop presence on the peninsula,” said Yun Sun, a North Korea expert at the Stimson Center in Washington.
Since North Korea is looking for security guarantees from the United States in return for denuclearization, that guarantee “will hopefully include the withdrawal of U.S. troops,” she said.
Mr. Xi, left, and Mr. Kim in Beijing in March. China Central Television, via Associated Press
But, like his grandfather and father who ruled North Korea before him, Mr. Kim has shown signs of wanting to reduce China’s influence.
When the young leader made a surprise visit to Beijing three weeks ago to meet Mr. Xi for the first time, the two men seemed to repair somewhat the traditionally close relationship between the two countries that had been in the freezer since Mr. Kim came to power in 2011.
In fact, the visit was probably not so much a gesture of rapprochement as a deft move by Mr. Kim to play China against the United States, just as his grandfather had maneuvered between China and the Soviet Union, Chinese analysts said.
Mr. Kim’s purpose was to give the impression to the Americans that he was entering the meetings with China at his back, they said. Mr. Xi accepted an invitation from Mr. Kim to make a return visit to Pyongyang, but there were no signs that would happen before President Trump meets with Mr. Kim, a Chinese government spokesman said.
Analysts say that since coming to power, the young Mr. Kim has resented his country’s almost total economic dependence on Beijing, which has only increased under the tough United Nations economic sanctions that China voted for last year.
About 90 percent of the North’s foreign trade in essential items — coal, minerals, seafood, textiles — passes through China, and China is its biggest supplier of fuel.
At the urging of the Trump administration, China approved the sanctions that have severely cut the North’s access to fuel and hard currency. North Korean ties with China seemed to hit a low, with Mr. Kim refusing to even meet a Chinese envoy in November, and conducting a ballistic missile test instead.
Perhaps wary of alienating the North, and unhappy with Mr. Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on Chinese imports, Beijing was no longer so willing to punish the North, Chinese analysts said.
There are already signs that trade is picking up along China’s border with North Korea, Chinese traders say, which could mean a relaxing after six months of near total trade embargo.
Hours after the North’s announcement on Saturday of its suspension of nuclear tests, one outspoken Chinese state-run newspaper, the Global Times, said the United Nations should “immediately discuss the cancellation of part of the sanctions against North Korea.”
Further, the United States, South Korea and Japan should lift their unilateral sanctions against the North, the paper said.

Gerald Celente | May 2018--The US vs China Trade War Escalates! - April 22, 2018,

ABC News | Dershowitz : "No Way" FBI wen after Cohen 2 if they2 weren't interest in Trump," - April 22, 2018

Guardian News | emily Thornberry calls on Amber Rudd to quit over Windrush scandal, on April 22, 2018.

Investopedia | The Basis Of Tariffs And Trade Barriers, on April 22,2022.

investopedia.com

The Basics Of Tariffs And Trade Barriers

Brent Radcliffe

International trade increases the number of goods that domestic consumers can choose from, decreases the cost of those goods through increased competition, and allows domestic industries to ship their products abroad. While all of these effects seem beneficial, free trade isn't widely accepted as completely beneficial to all parties. In fact, President Trump's  presidential campaign last fall was vehemently anti-trade. In 2018, President Trump's administration has announced billions of dollars in new tariffs on Chinese imports. China has retaliated by announcing tariffs on U.S. imported goods, including steel and pork.
This article will examine how some countries react to the variety of factors that attempt to influence trade. (To start with a discussion on trade, see What Is International Trade? and The Globalization Debate.)
Tutorial: Economics Basics

What Is a Tariff?

In simplest terms, a tariff is a tax. It adds to the cost of imported goods and is one of several trade policies that a country can enact.

Why Are Tariffs and Trade Barriers Used?

Tariffs are often created to protect infant industries and developing economies but are also used by more advanced economies with developed industries. Here are five of the top reasons tariffs are used:
  1. Protecting Domestic Employment The levying of tariffs is often highly politicized. The possibility of increased competition from imported goods can threaten domestic industries. These domestic companies may fire workers or shift production abroad to cut costs, which means higher unemployment and a less happy electorate. The unemployment argument often shifts to domestic industries complaining about cheap foreign labor, and how poor working conditions and lack of regulation allow foreign companies to produce goods more cheaply. In economics, however, countries will continue to produce goods until they no longer have a comparative advantage (not to be confused with an absolute advantage).
  2. Protecting Consumers A government may levy a tariff on products that it feels could endanger its population. For example, South Korea may place a tariff on imported beef from the United States if it thinks that the goods could be tainted with a disease.
  3. Infant Industries The use of tariffs to protect infant industries can be seen by the Import Substitution Industrialization (ISI) strategy employed by many developing nations. The government of a developing economy will levy tariffs on imported goods in industries in which it wants to foster growth. This increases the prices of imported goods and creates a domestic market for domestically produced goods while protecting those industries from being forced out by more competitive pricing. It decreases unemployment and allows developing countries to shift from agricultural products to finished goods.
    Criticisms of this sort of protectionist strategy revolve around the cost of subsidizing the development of infant industries. If an industry develops without competition, it could wind up producing lower quality goods, and the subsidies required to keep the state-backed industry afloat could sap economic growth.
  4. National Security
           Barriers are also employed by developed countries to protect certain industries that are deemed strategically important, such as those   supporting national security. Defense industries are often viewed as vital to state interests, and often enjoy significant levels of protection. For example, while both Western Europe and the United States are industrialized, both are very protective of defense-oriented companies.
     5. Retaliation
         Countries may also set tariffs as a retaliation technique, if they think that a trading partner has not played by the rules. For example, if France believes that the United States has allowed its wine producers to call its domestically produced sparkling wines "Champagne" (a name specific to the Champagne region of France) for too long, it may levy a tariff on imported meat from the United States. If the U.S. agrees to crack down on the improper labeling, France is likely to stop its retaliation. Retaliation can also be employed if a trading partner goes against the government's foreign policy objectives.

Types of Tariffs and Trade Barriers

There are several types of tariffs and barriers that a government can employ:
Specific Tariffs
A fixed fee levied on one unit of an imported good is referred to as a specific tariff. This tariff can vary according to the type of good imported. For example, a country could levy a $15 tariff on each pair of shoes imported, but levy a $300 tariff on each computer imported.
Ad Valorem Tariffs
The phrase ad valorem is Latin for "according to value," and this type of tariff is levied on a good based on a percentage of that good's value. An example of an ad valorem tariff would be a 15% tariff levied by Japan on U.S. automobiles. The 15% is a price increase on the value of the automobile, so a $10,000 vehicle now costs $11,500 to Japanese consumers. This price increase protects domestic producers from being undercut but also keeps prices artificially high for Japanese car shoppers.
Non-tariff barriers to trade include:
Licenses
A license is granted to a business by the government and allows the business to import a certain type of good into the country. For example, there could be a restriction on imported cheese, and licenses would be granted to certain companies allowing them to act as importers. This creates a restriction on competition and increases prices faced by consumers.
Import Quotas
An import quota is a restriction placed on the amount of a particular good that can be imported. This sort of barrier is often associated with the issuance of licenses. For example, a country may place a quota on the volume of imported citrus fruit that is allowed.
Voluntary Export Restraints (VER)
This type of trade barrier is "voluntary" in that it is created by the exporting country rather than the importing one. A voluntary export restraint is usually levied at the behest of the importing country and could be accompanied by a reciprocal VER. For example, Brazil could place a VER on the exportation of sugar to Canada, based on a request by Canada. Canada could then place a VER on the exportation of coal to Brazil. This increases the price of both coal and sugar but protects the domestic industries.
Local Content Requirement
Instead of placing a quota on the number of goods that can be imported, the government can require that a certain percentage of a good be made domestically. The restriction can be a percentage of the good itself or a percentage of the value of the good. For example, a restriction on the import of computers might say that 25% of the pieces used to make the computer are made domestically, or can say that 15% of the value of the good must come from domestically produced components.
In the final section, we'll examine who benefits from tariffs and how they affect the price of goods.

Who Benefits?

The benefits of tariffs are uneven. Because a tariff is a tax, the government will see increased revenue as imports enter the domestic market. Domestic industries also benefit from a reduction in competition, since import prices are artificially inflated. Unfortunately for consumers - both individual consumers and businesses - higher import prices mean higher prices for goods. If the price of steel is inflated due to tariffs, individual consumers pay more for products using steel, and businesses pay more for steel that they use to make goods. In short, tariffs and trade barriers tend to be pro-producer and anti-consumer.
The effect of tariffs and trade barriers on businesses, consumers and the government shifts over time. In the short run, higher prices for goods can reduce consumption by individual consumers and by businesses. During this period, some businesses will profit, and the government will see an increase in revenue from duties. In the long term, these businesses may see a decline in efficiency due to a lack of competition, and may also see a reduction in profits due to the emergence of substitutes for their products. For the government, the long-term effect of subsidies is an increase in the demand for public services, since increased prices, especially in foodstuffs, leave less disposable income. (For related reading, check out In Praise Of Trade Deficits.)
How Do Tariffs Affect Prices?
Tariffs increase the prices of imported goods. Because of this, domestic producers are not forced to reduce their prices from increased competition, and domestic consumers are left paying higher prices as a result. Tariffs also reduce efficiencies by allowing companies that would not exist in a more competitive market to remain open.
Figure 1 illustrates the effects of world trade without the presence of a tariff. In the graph, DS means domestic supply and DD means domestic demand. The price of goods at home is found at price P, while the world price is found at P*. At a lower price, domestic consumers will consume Qw worth of goods, but because the home country can only produce up to Qd, it must import Qw-Qd worth of goods.
Figure 1. Price without the influence of a tariff
When a tariff or other price-increasing policy is put in place, the effect is to increase prices and limit the volume of imports. In Figure 2, price increases from the non-tariff P* to P'. Because the price has increased, more domestic companies are willing to produce the good, so Qd moves right. This also shifts Qw left. The overall effect is a reduction in imports, increased domestic production, and higher consumer prices. (To learn more about the movement of equilibrium due to changes in supply and demand, read Understanding Supply-Side Economics.)
Figure 2. Price under the effects of a tariff

Tariffs and Modern Trade

The role tariffs play in international trade has declined in modern times. One of the primary reasons for the decline is the introduction of international organizations designed to improve free trade, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO). Such organizations make it more difficult for a country to levy tariffs and taxes on imported goods, and can reduce the likelihood of retaliatory taxes. Because of this, countries have shifted to non-tariff barriers, such as quotas and export restraints. Organizations like the WTO attempt to reduce production and consumption distortions created by tariffs. These distortions are the result of domestic producers making goods due to inflated prices, and consumers purchasing fewer goods because prices have increased. (To learn about the WTO's efforts, read What Is The World Trade Organization?)
Since the 1930s, many developed countries have reduced tariffs and trade barriers, which has improved global integration and brought about globalization. Multilateral agreements between governments increase the likelihood of tariff reduction, while enforcement of binding agreements reduces uncertainty.

The Bottom Line

Free trade benefits consumers through increased choice and reduced prices, but because the global economy brings with it uncertainty, many governments impose tariffs and other trade barriers to protect the industry. There is a delicate balance between the pursuit of efficiencies and the government's need to ensure low unemployment.

The Washington Post | Michael Cohen, once at pinnacle of Trump’s world, now poses threat to it

washingtonpost.com

Michael Cohen, once at pinnacle of Trump’s world, now poses threat to it



When Donald Trump won the presidency, his longtime attorney Michael Cohen seemed in position for a coveted spot in the senior ranks of the White House.
At one point, Cohen topped a list of five candidates for White House counsel, according to documents reviewed by The Washington Post. He suggested to some Trump allies that he might make a good chief of staff.
But when Trump built his West Wing team, the brash New York lawyer did not make the cut.
Some in Trump’s inner circle worried about blowback from Cohen’s associations and un­or­tho­dox tactics in fixing the New York developer’s problems, Trump associates said.
Among those opposed, the associates said, were Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. For his part, Cohen had warned Trump against giving Ivanka Trump and Kushner White House jobs, saying the president would be hammered by complaints of nepotism, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The rebuff wounded Cohen, according to people familiar with his views, although he continued to publicly express admiration for his longtime boss.
Michael Cohen, a personal attorney to President Trump, leaves federal court in Manhattan on April 16, 2018. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
“Here was a guy who dedicated his life to Trump, who was sure he would be a top pick,” said a Trump associate who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe conversations that he witnessed. But, in the end, “He was iced out.”
Now, the bond between the president and his self-proclaimed fixer is under much more punishing pressure: a wide-ranging criminal investigation into Cohen’s business dealings and actions he took to quash negative stories about Trump during the 2016 campaign.
The outcome — and Cohen’s response to the investigation — could determine the fate of both men, who have relied heavily on each other for years.
Both men have sent public signals in recent days that their relationship remains steady, with Trump describing a federal raid on Cohen’s offices and home as a “disgrace” and calling his attorney to check on him.
But associates of Trump and Cohen say that Cohen, with his deep knowledge of Trump’s personal and financial life, could seek to cut a deal with prosecutors at a moment when Trump’s business dealings are facing scrutiny related to the separate inquiry by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Trump’s former attorney Jay Goldberg, who has talked about the matter with the president, said that if Cohen faces jail time, he would be under extraordinary pressure from his family “to say what he believes the government wants to hear.”
In tweets Saturday, Trump rejected speculation that Cohen would turn against him. Citing a New York Times report on the issue, the president wrote that he “always liked & respected” Cohen, adding: “Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble, even if it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!”
Cohen declined to comment for this story, as did the White House.
A wannabe tough guy
Cohen hardly seemed headed for life as a tough-talking “fixer” growing up in an upper-middle-class town on Long Island. He attended a yeshiva day school, and then elite Lawrence Woodmere Academy. His father, a physician, was a Polish-born Holocaust survivor; his mother was a nurse. Cohen described himself as an “agnostic Jew.”
As a teenager in the 1980s, he dated Ukrainian emigre Laura Shusterman. Cohen often visited her home in Queens, and he also visited friends in Brooklyn, where Soviet refugees had settled in Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay.
“He grew up in a homogenous, wealthy enclave, and he came to a radically different place, Brighton Beach, on the border of Coney Island, which was filled with immigrants and minorities,” said a longtime Cohen friend who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a private relationship.
The Soviet emigres were “tough kids,” and there was a “lot of friction between the Italian and Russian gangs,” the friend said. Cohen emulated them. He later learned to speak Russian “like a 4-year-old,” Cohen told The Post in an interview last year.
Laura’s father, Fima Shusterman, pleaded guilty in 1993 to fraud charges. Cohen married Laura the following year. He befriended a number of emigres from Russia and Ukraine. Among them was Russian migrant Felix Sater, who years later would work with both Trump and Cohen on efforts to develop Trump-branded real estate in Russia and elsewhere.
Cohen was drawn to politics, first as a Democrat volunteering for the 1988 presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis and then as a Republican, losing a 2003 bid for city council.
In a candidate questionnaire for the New York race, Cohen touted his appointment by Republican Gov. George E. Pataki to a transit board, “where I serve as a public watchdog against corruption in government.”
As for his other New York City accomplishments, Cohen wrote that, among his achievements, he had “hectored” a local coffee shop into better managing its trash.
Making money was another Cohen goal. His role model was Trump, whose first book, “The Art of the Deal,” had inspired him. “I’ve been admiring Donald Trump since I was in high school,” Cohen told ABC News.
He invested in the taxi business, for a time managing a fleet of 200 cabs with Simon Garber, a Ukrainian immigrant who also operates a fleet of taxis in Moscow. By 2012, when his partnership with Garber ended, Cohen was earning $90,000 a month from taxi medallions, according to a court filing. He told The Post last year that he never invested in Garber’s Russian business.
Before going to work for Trump, he also invested $1.5 million in a Florida casino boat with two Ukrainian emigres, but the project flopped. “We lost the boat into a foreclosure,” Cohen told The Post last year. “And I wasn’t happy.”
His investments in Trump properties proved more secure. Cohen bought his first property in a Trump building — Trump World Tower near the United Nations — in April 2001, paying $1 million for a condominium that sold 16 years later for $5 million. His in-laws had purchased a separate unit. Trump himself signed Cohen’s sales document.
In 2005, Cohen purchased his most expensive Trump property, in Trump Park Avenue, a former hotel that Trump turned into some of Manhattan’s most luxurious apartments. Its owners included Trump’s daughter Ivanka. Cohen paid $5 million for unit 10A. Again, Donald Trump signed the sales document.
Cohen met Trump in the late 1990s at a political fundraiser for a local Republican whom the developer hosted in Trump Tower. Cohen performed some legal work for Trump in the early 2000s, according to a person familiar with their relationship.
It was a real estate brawl that cemented their bond.
In 2006, Cohen took Trump’s side in a dispute at Trump World Tower, where some condominium owners wanted to oust Trump from managing the property, according to people familiar with the dispute. Cohen, as a unit owner, vocally sided with Trump, who prevailed.
“When Michael won that fight, that’s when Trump gained a lot of respect for him,” said Cohen’s lawyer and longtime friend David Schwartz.
That led to an extraordinary leap in Cohen’s career. Trump hired him as special counsel and executive vice president of the Trump Organization, a privately owned family company that had a collection of hotels, condos, casinos and other properties.
Goldberg, the attorney who was working for Trump at the time, said Cohen stepped into the void left by the 1986 death of Trump’s longtime lawyer Roy Cohn, the former chief counsel to Sen. Joseph McCarthy who had told Trump to counterpunch 100 times harder against whoever tried to hit him.
It was a coup for Cohen, Goldberg said, because at the time, “everybody in the world was trying to get Trump as a client.”
In the following decade, Cohen handled all manner of problems for his boss that could not be solved through traditional channels. Cohen, according to a former associate, employed Trump’s tactics of threats and lawsuits, relying on tough-guy language.
Describing his methods to ABC News, he said that “if somebody does something Mr. Trump doesn’t like, I do everything in my power to resolve it to Mr. Trump’s benefit. If you do something wrong, I’m going to come at you, grab you by the neck, and I’m not going to let you go until I’m finished.”
Cohen also did side deals with Trump. One involved a mixed martial arts fight company called Affliction Entertainment that planned to host pay-per-view bouts in the United States and a reality television show to be filmed in Russia, home to the most famous fighters in the burgeoning sport. The business faltered after Affliction hosted just a few matches.
Cohen, meanwhile, expanded his real estate investments beyond Trump properties. Learning skills from the boss, he invested in New York City real estate and made substantial profits. Starting in 2011, he bought four New York City buildings and sold them for $32 million. One property, a modest apartment building at 172 Rivington St., cost him $2 million in 2011. Three years later, he sold it for $10 million to a family real estate fund represented by Brooklyn lawyer Herbert Chaves, who did not respond to a request for comment. Cohen used the proceeds in 2015 to purchase an interest in a $58 million, seven-story apartment building on the Upper East Side.
Cohen’s wealth is not publicly disclosed, but he has luxurious tastes. He paid $150,000 for a one-month vacation rental in the Hamptons but later sued the landlord, complaining about the small beds and electrical problems in what he called a “nightmare.” The 2014 suit was settled confidentially.
Part of Cohen’s role at the Trump Organization was negotiating licensing deals, selling Trump’s name to developers interested in building Trump Towers abroad. He was the Trump Organization’s main contact for a project in Batumi, a resort city in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. He also told The Post he once traveled to Kazakhstan to try to land a similar deal there.
Ultimately, neither project was constructed, but Trump did make money from preliminary licensing deals in a development in Georgia.
Some of Cohen’s work on international deals has drawn the attention of special counsel Mueller and congressional committees examining possible collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia.
In late 2015, as the Trump campaign was ascendant, Cohen received an email from his old Brighton Beach friend Felix Sater. Sater had worked with Trump on a number of real estate ventures, including Trump Soho condominium. Sater in 1998 pleaded guilty to a role in a Mafia-linked stock-fraud case and later served as an FBI informant, a role that led a federal official to certify that he had provided “information crucial to national security.”
Sater wrote to Cohen that he was pursuing a deal for a Trump Tower in Moscow. Moreover, Sater wrote, Russian President Vladi­mir Putin could help Trump.
“I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected,” Sater wrote to Cohen, according to an email first reported by the New York Times.
In January 2016, Cohen wrote to Putin’s spokesman seeking help on the Trump Tower project. The email went to a general press email address, and the Moscow project did not go forward.
Cohen told congressional investigators in a statement that “this was solely a real estate deal and nothing more. I was doing my job.”
The Moscow proposal came under scrutiny when Mueller and congressional committees began examining Trump’s Russia contacts. Questions also were raised about Cohen’s role in the “Steele dossier,” a report put together by a former British spy that included the unsubstantiated allegation that Cohen had met with Russians in Prague to discuss the hacking of Democrats’ computers. Cohen has said consistently that no such meeting occurred.
Promoting the boss
Cohen for years had pushed Trump to seek the presidency. In 2011, Cohen created a website, shouldtrumprun.com, and traveled on Trump’s plane to the first-caucus state of Iowa to promote his potential candidacy. Trump decided not to run then, but Cohen kept pushing the idea.
Michael Caputo, a former Trump political adviser, said that Cohen was “an ever-present force” in Trump’s activities, including a prospective run for New York governor, the possible purchase of the Buffalo Bills football team, and a presidential bid.
Cohen also became Trump’s attack dog, particularly with journalists. Most famously, he vowed to a Daily Beast reporter in 2015 to “mess your life up” if a story was published about Ivana Trump’s statement in a deposition that her husband had “raped” her. The story included Cohen’s threats and his incorrect assertion that a person cannot be raped by a spouse. He later apologized, and Ivana Trump, Donald Trump’s first wife, backed down from the allegation.
Cohen’s tough talk and willingness to handle difficult problems for Trump became especially useful as Trump launched his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
Cohen said his job was to protect his boss “from all those who seek to malign him.” And as Trump was battling Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton for the White House, an issue surfaced that called for Cohen’s tough negotiating skills.
In the campaign’s final weeks, Cohen paid $130,000 to adult-film star Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump a decade earlier.
Cohen has said that the Trump campaign and the Trump Organization were not involved with the payment, which he said he made by drawing money from a home equity credit line secured by his Trump Park Avenue condo.
In the view of several Cohen associates, the Daniels payment was an ill-conceived Cohen effort to curry Trump’s favor at a time when the lawyer’s rivals were shutting him out. The president has said he was unaware of the payment.
Federal investigators are scrutinizing the payment and any involvement Cohen may have had with another Trump accuser, former Playboy model Karen McDougal. She sold the story of her alleged affair with Trump for $150,000 to AMI, the company that publishes the National Enquirer.
AMI did not publish the McDougal story.
After leaving the Trump Organization in early 2017, Cohen became Trump’s personal attorney, and he secured a contract with the New York law office of Squire Patton Boggs, which agreed to pay him $500,000 annually to help the firm land new business, court documents show. The firm ended its association with Cohen this spring, according to filings.
In the past year, Cohen has had just two other legal clients besides the president, his attorney told a federal judge last week: Fox News host Sean Hannity, who said he consulted Cohen on unspecified real estate matters, and Elliott Broidy, a major Trump supporter who served with Cohen as a deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. Broidy used Cohen to arrange a $1.6 million payment to a Playboy playmate with whom Broidy had an affair.
Cohen also had seven unnamed business clients to whom he did not provide legal advice, according to court filings.
Meanwhile, the value of Cohen’s taxi medallions, required to operate cabs in New York City, has plummeted — from the 2014 peak of $1.2 million per medallion to $300,000 today — amid the rise of ride-hailing companies. Cohen owed $56,000 in back taxes for his New York taxi business, records show.
How Cohen will fare under the financial and legal strain of the investigation remains an open question.
“I will always protect our @POTUS,” he tweeted April 8.
The next morning, the FBI raided Cohen’s office and residences.

The Washington Post | White House privately skeptical of North Korea’s plans to freeze nuclear test.

washingtonpost.com

White House privately skeptical of North Korea’s plans to freeze nuclear test


A TV screen shows file footage of North Korea's missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in South Korea on Saturday. North Korea said it plans to freeze nuclear weapons testing. (Ahn Young-Joon/AP)
PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Trump White House is reacting skeptically in private to North Korea’s announcement of plans to freeze nuclear weapons testing, warning that dictator Kim Jong Un could be setting a trap and promising not to back off a hard-line stance ahead of a potential leaders’ summit.
President Trump called Pyongyang’s move “progress” and “good news” in a pair of tweets after the news broke Friday evening. Behind the scenes, however, his aides cautioned Saturday that Kim’s statement that the North would halt testing and shutter one nuclear facility was more notable for what he left out: a direct pledge to work toward nuclear disarmament.
Although some foreign policy analysts were heartened that Kim appeared eager to set a positive tone for his summit with Trump, which could come in late May or early June, Trump aides were less enthused. In their view, Kim’s moves aimed to offer relatively modest pledges — which could be quickly reversed — to create the “illusion” that he is “reasonable” and willing to compromise.
That, the Trump aides said, would make it more politically difficult for the United States to reject the North’s demands.
Kim’s announcement early Saturday in Pyongyang surprised White House officials, who had been anticipating a statement to the North Korean people in advance of a summit with Trump but did not know when or how he would deliver it.
North Korea’s state news agency read Kim’s statement on television and issued a written version in English. The young dictator pledged to turn his regime’s attention away from weapons development and toward boosting the economy on an “upward ­spiral.”
White House aides viewed the statement as a signal that Kim’s goal is to get the United States and its allies to ease the punishing economic sanctions that the Trump administration helped enact since the president took office. But they said the administration has learned from the country’s past mistakes, when North Korea violated agreements over its nuclear program after sanctions were lifted.
The aides spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss private talks.
Kim is set to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in this week in what is being viewed as a preliminary summit ahead of the face-to-face with Trump. A date and location have not been announced for the latter summit.
South Korean officials said that Kim has signaled he is willing to discuss ways to formally end the Korean War, whose hostilities have been suspended since a 1953 armistice, and that he has dropped the North’s long-standing demand that the United States withdraw tens of thousands of troops stationed on the peninsula.
A key test for Trump will be to navigate the competing pressures of the U.S. allies in the region. Moon’s liberal administration is attempting to broker a deal to reduce tensions over fears of war, while conservative Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who views Kim’s recent moves more suspiciously, is pressing Trump to ensure that Japan’s interests are protected in any final agreement.
Abe used his two-day visit to Mar-a-Lago, the president’s winter retreat in Florida, to emphasize that Japan will insist on “complete, verifiable and irreversible” steps toward denuclearization. The Trump administration has taken a similar position, raising the question of whether anything that falls short of such an agreement at a summit would be a failure.
Some Washington-based analysts said Saturday that a more realistic path for Trump would be to tacitly acknowledge that the North, after relentlessly developing its arsenal for three decades, will not take immediate, concrete steps to eliminate the program.
Another option, they suggested, would be to move first to enact constraints on the North’s arsenal, such as capping the program with limits to contain the threat. That would allow the North the security of maintaining some level of nuclear proficiency while enacting curbs on key bomb fuels and delivery systems. At the same time, the two countries would work toward establishing greater trust that could lead to more serious talks over full disarmament down the road.
“The reality is that North Korea has nuclear weapons, and we have to deal with that reality,” said Toby Dalton, the co-director of the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
In March, Dalton published an essay promoting a cap aimed at preventing the North from achieving “a fully-fledged, combat-ready arsenal.”
“The gap between reality and what we’re planning for is problematic,” Dalton said, “as it creates expectations that can’t be met in the summit process, and we’re back to where we were.”
Seeking to put caps on the North’s program could be interpreted as the Trump administration accepting North Korea as a nuclear state, a controversial idea inside the U.S. government, where a policy of nuclear nonproliferation has long been taken as an article of faith.
Senior U.S. diplomats for Asia, including Susan Thornton, the acting assistant secretary of state, and Mark Lambert, the head of the Korea desk, are advocates of a policy that seeks full denuclearization. But as reports circulated about a potential “bloody nose” military strike on North Korea last year, some U.S. officials argued for containment as a short- or medium-term strategy aimed at preventing military action.
The idea of openly acknowledging North Korea as a nuclear power, however, remains an outlier position, especially given the assumption that it could trigger a nuclear arms race, prompting Japan and South Korea to pursue their own weapons.
Jon Wolfsthal, who oversaw arms control and nonproliferation policy at the National Security Council under President Barack Obama, said a major concern over accepting the North as a nuclear power, even for a limited period, is that Pyongyang would “pocket that and walk away. A lot of people are worried that’s exactly what Kim is trying to do with the summit.”
But Michael Auslin, an Asia scholar at the conservative Hoover Institution, said it is increasingly difficult for the United States to deny reality.
“We’re seeing a de facto normalization of North Korea’s relationship with the world, as Kim Jong Un met with [Chinese President] Xi Jinping, plans to meet with Moon, and now Abe wants a meeting, and then Trump will meet him,” Auslin said. “The reality is that everyone understands these discussions are about a program that has made North Korea a nuclear power.”
Hudson reported from Washington.

The Guardian | What Happens to the global publicity titans if advertising no longer pays? | Media

theguardian.com

What happens to the global publicity titans if advertising no longer pays? | Media

Mark Sweney

Not so long ago a bearish Sir Martin Sorrell berated the advertising industry for its unrealistic “Don Draperish optimism” in the face of tough times, in a reference to hit TV series Mad Men and its depiction of the halcyon days and excesses of 1960s adland. Now it is the next generation, of Sorrell and his “math men” – the builders of global empires designed to churn out profits – that is now perhaps on the brink of becoming history.
Sorrell’s departure may have been prompted by an investigation into allegations of personal misconduct, but with WPP’s share price down a third after a disastrous year, questions were already being raised about whether the 73-year-old’s vision was outdated in modern advertising.
Gerontocracies are common in medialand: Rupert Murdoch is 87; Sumner Redstone, controller of Viacom and CBS, is 94; industry titan Barry Diller is still in business at 76; and John Malone, who controls Discovery and Virgin Media owner Liberty Global, is 77. And, like Sorrell, the businesses that the ageing media barons run are all facing the same core challenge as WPP: the internet.
“I think with the departure of Sir Martin, we’re seeing the beginning of the end for a generation of media and advertising leaders and the baton being handed over to the new generation,” says David Jones, the former global chief executive of French ad group Havas, who now runs his own technology branding firm. “There’s a huge digital divide between the heads of the big legacy companies, who for the most part are well over 70 years old and grew up in a pre-internet, pre-mobile world, and the founders and heads of the tech companies, who for the most part are under 30 years old and helped invent the technology revolution we’re living through.”
For adland, the rise of social media and the power of Google and Facebook has raised valid questions from advertisers about who they spend their money with and whether big groups like WPP, France’s Publicis or US giants Omnicom and IPG still offer the best model to create and buy campaigns for them.
Procter & Gamble, the world’s biggest advertiser and owner of brands from Gillette to Pampers, says that by 2021 it will have cut more than $1.1bn (£780m) from the amount it spends with ad groups compared with 2015 levels. Marketing chief Marc Pritchard, who commands an almost $11bn annual marketing budget, has said that it is time to end the “archaic Mad Men model” and “take back control” of its advertising spending.
Scale was once the biggest selling-point of the global holding groups – providing the muscle to get big savings when buying ad slots or rolling out an international ad campaign – but now it is increasingly being seen as a costly, cumbersome achilles heel.
P&G used to work with 6,000 ad agencies around the world; it now works with 2,500 and expects to cut that number in half again. Moving more of its business inhouse will result in $2bn savings previously spent with agencies. “We have had too many people between us and the consumer,” he said recently. “We have to move a lot faster.”
The sprawling WPP empire is a case in point: it has more than 200,000 staff in 400 separate advertising and marketing businesses, working in more than 3,000 offices in 112 countries.
The stress on the holding-company model was evident last year as WPP reported its worst performance since the ad recession of 2009, the catalyst for the share price plunge. WPP underperformed its peers, but all the major ad groups are struggling with growth rates that would make a Silicon Valley upstart wince. Omnicom grew by 3%, Publicis by 0.8%, Dentsu Aegis by 0.1% and IPG by 1.6%.
Most of WPP’s rivals are also run by men much closer to the end of their career than the beginning. Omnicom’s John Wren is 65, IPG’s Michael Roth 72.
Publicis, the world’s third-largest ad group, signalled a generational change when 46-year-old Arthur Sadoun was appointed chief executive last summer. Nevertheless, his predecessor Maurice Lévy, 76, still keeps a watchful eye on the French advertising empire, having only moved as far as its powerful board.
The media landscape has been upended by the rise of technology that has enabled a new generation of digitally savvy consumers to watch what they want, when they want, on any device they want. Traditional media companies are struggling to keep pace with that change and are having to contend with the rise of Silicon Valley competitors – from Facebook to Netflix – which threaten their business models.
The Netflix streaming juggernaut shows no sign of slowing down, recently smashing analysts’ expectations to hit more than 125 million global subscribers, and the combined market value of Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook is a staggering $2.8 trillion.
A desperate need for scale and digital investment is underpinning a frenzy of consolidation in global media, to try to inject life into the ageing models of traditional players.
Rupert Murdoch’s decision to break up the global empire he spent a lifetime building – with the $66bn sale of 21st Century Fox, including Sky and the Hollywood studio behind X-Men, to Disney – is a stunning admission that, in the global war against deep-pocketed digital rivals, even he was too sub-scale to compete.
Disney’s play for Fox came at the same time as it pulled its content – From Star Wars and Pixar films to the Marvel universe and its traditional cartoons – from Netflix in the US as it races to build its own streaming service in the hope it isn’t too late to catch up.
Redstone, along with daughter Shari, is desperate to recombine CBS with Viacom to increase their chances of survival. And after being rebuffed by Murdoch in its effort to take over Fox, Comcast, owner of NBC Universal, is attempting to gatecrash Disney’s deal by mounting a £22bn bid for Fox’s crown jewel, Sky.
“I think Martin’s departure is a symptom: we are seeing pressure across the media industry,” says Peter Scott, founder of digital marketing group Be Heard. “There is a need to fight back against power of Amazon and Netflix and others that are disrupting and intruding. There is a transformation happening. A technology revolution.”
At 73, Sorrell seems fit and his indefatigable work ethic is as strong as ever, making the issue of age seemingly irrelevant, even with a new baby to deal with. The idea of retirement couldn’t have been further from his mind. “Only when they shoot me,” he had said.
Well, in the corporate sense, that is exactly what has happened. And he may be just the first casualty of a generation of leaders who are finding their ageing business models catching up with them.

Six ads that changed the world

Gibbs SR toothpaste (1955)
At 8.12pm on 22 September 1955 the UK advertising industry was changed forever when Gibbs SR toothpaste became the first ever TV commercial to be broadcast. The toothpaste brand’s place in history was purely down to luck: it won the right to be first in a lottery among 23 brands including Guinness, Surf, Lux, Batchelors Peas and Brillo pads. Initial scepticism that TV would be any good at selling products was short-lived, as the medium dominated the advertising landscape for the next five decades until internet advertising came of age.
Coca-Cola – Hilltop (1971)
Almost half a century since it was created, Hilltop remains one of the most influential and catchy TV ads in history – “I’d like to buy the world a coke and keep it company …”. It was a global phenomenon that proved that advertising was powerful enough to appropriate anything to sell a product, in this case the very anti-establishment movement of the 1960s, which would have been dead set against such commercial exploitation. “It managed to legitimise the spirit of the age and probably kill the hippy movement stone dead,” says Vicki Maguire, joint creative chief at Grey London.
Conservative Party – Labour Isn’t Working (1979)
The Saatchi brothers’ poster for Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative party in 1979 forever changed political advertising in the UK. Before it, political ads were not a feature of UK election campaigns: they were a tactic employed in US presidential races. After it, political attack ads aiming to smear the opposition became a key part of the electioneering arsenal. It remains the most memorable and effective piece of UK political advertising of all time – Tony Blair with “demon eyes” is up there too, with Vote Leave’s slogan “take back control” now arguably joining them.
UK government – Aids campaign (1987)
The chilling TV ads featuring a falling tombstone and John Hurt’s portentous voiceover – “Don’t die of ignorance” – was an incredibly brave campaign and the world’s first major government-sponsored Aids awareness drive. Its hard-hitting tactics, and the success that followed, would be emulated by governments around the world as nations struggled to educate the public in the early days of HIV amid predictions of deaths on a massive scale. “It turned what had felt like a conveniently ‘gay problem’ into a public health issue,” said David Billing, chief creative officer at The Beyond Collective. “The nation was shocked into talking about Aids.”
Chanel No 5 – Le Film (2004)
Nicole Kidman was at the height of her Hollywood stardom, as was fellow Austalian Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, Romeo & Juliet) when the pair teamed up to make an ad that cost £18m, the most expensive ever made for TV. Kidman was paid $3.7m to play an actress pursued by paparazzi, wearing couture outfits designed by Karl Lagerfeld to the sound of Debussy. The ad marked both the zenith and the last hurrah of the Mad Men era of unbridled profligate spending: the internet era was soon to usher in phrases such as “return on investment” as the bean counters started to take control.
Dove – Campaign For Real Beauty (2004)
Dove cleverly tapped into a growing disconnection between the perfect models used in advertising and the “real” women who buy the products. The break with convention – including using normal-sized women and exposing how beauty can go from “real to retouched” in a speeded-up makeover video – has proved to be a masterclass of the new social responsibility expected from advertisers (while still making bucketloads of money for Unilever). “Those ordinary women were both inspirational and aspirational at the same time,” says Maguire. “Women who had previously spent thousands chasing the beauty myth were starting to see through the bullshit.This was timed beautifully.”

The Guarduan | Dozens dead in bombing at Kabul voter registration centre | World news on April 22, 2018.

theguardian.com

Dozens dead in bombing at Kabul voter registration centre | World news

Haroon Janjua

A suicide bomber has killed at least 57 people and wounded dozens outside a voter registration centre in Kabul, in an attack claimed by Islamic State.
The public health ministry spokesman Wahid Majro said another 54 people were wounded in Sunday’s attack. Gen Daud Amin, the Kabul police chief, said the suicide bomber targeted hundreds of civilians who were queuing to receive national identification cards to vote in legislative elections scheduled for 20 October.
“It happened at the entrance gate of the centre. It was a suicide attack,” Amin told AFP.
The large explosion echoed across the city, shattering windows miles away from the site of the attack in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood, where many of the country’s Shia Hazara minority live. Majro said there were five children among the dead.
“I was lined up with my family members to process the voting registration and suddenly saw a chaos after a huge blast,” Bilal Amiri told Guardian. “People were crying, some of the injured breath their last in front of me and I was helpless.”
Police blocked all roads to the blast site, with only ambulances allowed in. Local TV stations broadcast live footage of hundreds of distraught people gathered at nearby hospitals seeking word about loved ones.
Isis claimed responsibility in a statement carried by its Aamaq news agency, saying it had targeted Shia “apostates”. Isis is opposed to the country holding democratic elections.
“We’re fed up with this government to whom we ask for help,” Farooq Hussain said. “Our young generation and children are dying too early.”
Another witness to the attack, named Akbar, told Tolo TV: “Now we know the government cannot provide us security. We have to get armed and protect ourselves.”
Afghan security forces have struggled to prevent attacks by Isis as well as the more firmly established Taliban since the US and Nato concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014.
Both groups regularly launch attacks, with the Taliban usually targeting the government and security forces and Isis targeting the country’s Shia minority. They also want to establish a harsh form of Islamic rule in Afghanistan, and are opposed to democratic elections.
Recent attacks have underscored concerns about security in the run-up to legislative elections scheduled for 20 October, which are seen as a test run for next year’s presidential poll.
Over the next two months, authorities hope to register up to 14 million adults at more than 7,000 polling centres for the parliamentary and district council elections.
Officials have been pushing people to register amid fears a low turnout would undermine the credibility of the polls.
Last week, militants killed three police officers responsible for guarding voter registration centres in two Afghan provinces, according to authorities.
Meanwhile, at least five people were killed when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb in the northern Baghlan province on Sunday. Zabihullah Shuja, spokesman for the provincial police chief, said four other people were wounded in the blast in Pul-e Khomri, the capital of the province.
The Taliban routinely target security forces and government officials with roadside bombs, which often end up killing civilians.
In the northern Balkh province, a district police chief died of his wounds after being shot on Saturday during a gun battle with insurgents, according to Sher Jan Durrani, spokesman for the provincial police chief. He said about a dozen insurgents were also killed in the battle, which is still going on.
Durrani identified the killed commander as Halim Khanjar, police chief for the Char Bolak district. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the killing.
The Afghan capital is also braced for the Taliban’s launch of its customary spring offensive.
The Taliban are under pressure to take up President Ashraf Ghani’s peace offer made in February, but so far the group has given only a muted response.
Some western and Afghan officials expect 2018 to be a particularly bloody year.
Gen John Nicholson, the top US and Nato commander in Afghanistan, told Tolo TV last month that he expected the Taliban to carry out more suicide attacks this fighting season.
Associated Press and Agence France-Press contributed to this report