Last year Marriott International's big news was buying Starwood Hotels and Resorts. This year it's launching a cruise line under The Ritz-Carlton flag. We talk to luxury brand's President and COO Herve Humler about the official announcement later this morning.
Donald Trump has made clear that there’s little room in his “America First” foreign policy for pressure on authoritarian foreign governments—whether Russia, Saudi Arabia, or China—to improve their human rights record. The one exception is Cuba where, on Friday, he reimposed failed Cold War sanctions, ostensibly to pressure Cuba to improve human rights. Trump’s Cuba move had been opposed by the Departments of Commerce, Defense, State, Treasury, Agriculture and Homeland Security; by the generally Republican-leaning Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers; and by Human Rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, all of whom believe that Americas 57-year old policy of isolating Cuba has been a failure and is bad for Americans and Cubans. As former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes wrote, Trump’s new hard line Cuba policies, “will hurt ordinary Cubans, harm the image of the United States, and make it harder for Americans to do business and travel somewhere they want to go.” A CORRUPT DEAL BETWEEN TRUMP AND RUBIO? But as reported by The Miami Herald, Politico, and Mother Jones, one man in particular—Marco Rubio—intensively lobbied Trump behind the scenes to reimpose sanctions. Trump sided with Rubio, who was standing directly behind Trump as he announced his new Cuba policy. Rubio, in turn, defended Trump against Comey in the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings. The headline to a Washington Post article on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Comey hearings read, “Rubio defends Trump in Comey Questioning”. As Miami Herald journalist Fabiola Santiogo wrote, Rubio seemed more interested in getting Comey to publicly admit that President Trump ‘was not personally under investigation’ than in obtaining any new evidence for the Senate investigation. It was as if Rubio…was acting as Trump’s defense attorney instead of as a member of a bipartisan committee investigating crucial national security issues. Hmm... it’s fair to ask if there was an implicit or explicit deal here? Trump reinstates sanctions on Cuba; Rubio, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee― which is actively investigating possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia, and now possible obstruction of justice—goes easy on Trump and hard on Comey and uses his position on the Intelligence Committee to defend Trump. Indeed, it’s fair to ask if such a possible deal between Trump and Rubio itself constituted Obstruction of Justice. Special Prosecutor Mueller and Congressional Committees should require Rubio, Rubio staff members, and others with knowledge of the dealings between Trump and Rubio on Cuba policy to answer whether Trump directly or indirectly asked for Rubio’s loyalty in the Russia investigation, or at least for Rubio to go easy, and whether Rubio directly or indirectly promised any loyalty in exchange for Trump accepting Rubio’s Cuba policy. THE RUSSIA CONNECTION Adding to the suspicions, Trump’s policy of isolating Cuba from America helps Russia. The loss of revenues from American tourists and business will likely lead Cuba to turn back to Russia as an economic, and even military, patron. Russian has recently forgiven billions of dollars of debt owed by Cuba and become a major supplier of oil to Cuba, replacing Venezuala which has its own economic crisis. There is talk of Russia reopening military bases in Cuba, which could put Russian signal intelligence 90 miles from US shores. As Sen. Patrick Leahy wrote in an op-ed piece last week, One obvious way to mitigate Russian influence in our hemisphere is through enhanced engagement with Cuba…As two retired US military generals wrote in an op-ed in Politico last month, cooperation with Cuba has been a game changer for regional security. Since the thaw in US-Cuba relations, our two governments have signed nine formal bilateral agreements on issues related to matters of national security, including human trafficking, counter-narcotics, and cybersecurity. Why cast aside this opportunity to coordinate on cross border and maritime law enforcement…and instead cede the playing field to Putin? Hmm, again... Trump’s new policy of isolating Cuba helps Russia and Putin. More grounds for questions from Mueller and Congressional Committees. TRUMP LINING HIS OWN POCKETS? Finally, Trump Cuba policies may gain him personal economic advantage over The Trump Organization’s competitors in the hotel industry. Starwood Hotels, which was recently acquired by Marriot, has negotiated deals to manage several hotels in Cuba, some of which are partly owned by Gaviota, a tourism company owned by the Cuban military, which, in socialist Cuba, is widely involved in the Cuban economy. Other major American hotel chains hope to use the Starwood deal as a template for their own expansion into Cuba. These efforts by the American hotel industry to invest in Cuba will likely be slowed or halted by Trump’s new Cuba sanctions. But Trump himself told CNN last year that he would like to open a hotel in Cuba “at the right time.” And The Trump Organization has been exploring investing in Cuba hotels as early as 1998, sometimes in violation of US law. According to Newsweek, A company controlled by Donald Trump…secretly conducted business in Communist Cuba during Fidel Castro’s presidency despite strict American trade bans that made such undertakings illegal, according to interviews with former Trump executives, internal company records and court filings. Documents show that the Trump company spend a minimum of $68,000 for its 1968 foray into Cuba at a time when corporate expenditure of even a penny in the Caribbean country was prohibited without U.S. government approval. In 2012 and 2013, Trump Organization officials again travelled to Cuba—also possibly in violation of US law ― to explore opportunities to open golf courses, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. The Trump official included Trump Organization executive V.P. Larry Glick, environmental consultant for golf Edward Russo, chief legal officer Jason Greenblatt, and Trump golf executive Rob Lieberman. Russo referred questions about the trips to Eric Trump who responded, “[M]any major competitors have sought opportunities in Cuba… [I]t is important for us to understand the dynamics of the markets that our competitors are exploring.” Hmm, hmm, hmm a third time... Trump’s new Cuba sanctions will harm his business competitors like Marriott/Starwood and potentially give the Trump Organization time to catch up before his competitors get too far ahead in establishing American-managed hotels in Cuba. Along with gaining little Marco’s help in the Russia and conflict of interest investigations, and aiding Russian interests in Cuba, are Trump’s new hard-line Cuba policies designed to help his own personal business interests? There’s plenty here for Special Counsel Mueller and Congressional Committees to investigate in connection with Trump’s decision to reimpose Cold War Sanctions on Cuba—potential Obstruction of Justice, foreign policy moves that help Russia, and possible conflicts of interest with Trump’s businesses. Things could start to get even more interesting. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
We believe that Marriott International, Inc.'s (MAR) unmatched portfolio of lodging brands, an increased demand for travel, and continual expansion efforts will pave the way for its growth this year.
N.Y. DAILY NEWS: Trump’s new NY HUD director planned Eric Trump’s wedding, has no housing experience -- DEMS drub GOP at baseball game -- A RECORD 24,959 tickets sold -- PENCE hires McGuireWoods’ Cullen -- B’DAY: Bres
Good Friday morning. THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: “President Trump chooses inexperienced woman who planned his son Eric’s wedding to run N.Y. federal housing programs,” by Greg Smith: “She’s arranged tournaments at Trump golf courses, served as the liaison to the Trump family during his presidential campaign, and even arranged Eric Trump’s wedding. Now President Trump has appointed longtime loyalist Lynne Patton -- who has zero housing experience and claims a law degree the school says she never earned -- to run the office that oversees federal housing programs in New York. “Patton was appointed Wednesday to head up the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Region II, which includes New York and New Jersey, where she’ll oversee distribution of billions of taxpayer dollars. Patton’s tight relationship with the Trump clan dates back to 2009, when she began serving as the family’s ‘event planner.’ … She also claims on her LinkedIn page to have obtained a juris doctorate degree in 2000 from Quinnipiac University School of Law in Connecticut. Next to the J.D. notation is written (N/A) without explanation. On Thursday school registrar Jim Benson said Patton attended for two semesters but did not graduate. She also listed Yale University but HUD officials couldn’t explain why that was there. Patton, who begins her Region II job July 5, did not return calls seeking comment.“As head of the biggest HUD regional office in the U.S., Patton will oversee distribution of billions in cash to public housing authorities -- including NYCHA -- as well as tens of thousands of rental vouchers and block grants that fund housing inspections and senior citizen programs.” http://nydn.us/2sikxU8 -- N.Y. DAILY NEWS COVER: “She planned Eric Trump’s nups & falsely touts law degree. Now Prez has decided new housing boss in N.Y. is ... THE WEDDING SCAMMER” http://nydn.us/2turnp6 -- LYNNE’S LinkedIn page says she has the following specialties: “Public Engagement, Community Outreach & Revitalization, Strategic Networking, High-Net Worth Fundraising, Client Ambassador, Celebrity Talent Acquisition, Event Planning, Promotions, Social Media Strategy, Philanthropic Auctions & Tournaments, Public & Media Relations.” http://bit.ly/2ryfdiE THE U.S. is sending 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan, per the AP. http://apne.ws/2s88SsE Donald Trump ran for president saying he’d end foreign entanglements. PRESIDENT TRUMP is going to Miami today to announce changes to the U.S. policy toward Cuba. FLASH -- AP at 5:09 a.m.: “Russia claims it has killed IS leader al-Baghdadi,” by Bassem Mroue in Beirut and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow: “The Russian Defense Ministry said Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a Russian strike in late May along with other senior group commanders. There had been previous reports of al-Baghdadi being killed but they did not turn out to be true. The IS leader last released an audio on Nov. 3, urging his followers to keep up the fight for Mosul as they defend the city against a major offensive that began weeks earlier. The spokesman for the U.S.-led anti-IS coalition said in a statement Friday he could not confirm the Russian claim.” http://apne.ws/2rCXIJ5 THE CONGRESSIONAL BASEBALL SCORE -- 11-2, DEMOCRATS WIN. RACHAEL BADE and KYLE CHENEY bring us the scene from the Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park: “Rodney Davis stood in the shadow of the Nationals Park scoreboard and wiped away a tear. Just a day earlier, the Republican congressman from Illinois — and catcher for the Republican congressional baseball team -- watched his colleague Steve Scalise, the House majority whip, get shot on a practice baseball field in Virginia, while other lawmakers and aides scrambled for cover. …“‘This is what our country needs after such a tragic act,’ said Davis, his arm still scabbed and scraped from diving away from the gunman’s bullets on Wednesday….Florida Democrat Charlie Crist was spotted walking around in a suit, a young staffer trailing him carrying his suit jacket.” http://politi.co/2ttQWGH -- COLD WATER ALERT. This is a kumbaya moment -- and we’d emphasize moment. It is, of course, impossible to predict the future. Remember: a gunman shot then-Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords in the head. Nothing changed. We’re skeptical much will change this time. Speaker Paul Ryan told Jake Tapper on CNN that “we can have different ideas without being vitriolic.” Yes, they can. But there is no evidence to show they will. We hope we’re wrong. TAPPER had a joint interview with Ryan and Nancy Pelosi, and Anderson Cooper had Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer. A good night for CNN. -- COOPER got this gem of an interaction. Classic line from McConnell when asked about Trump calling the investigation a witch hunt: COOPER: "President Trump made a statement last night with Congressman Scalise. It was getting bipartisan praise for his tone. Today tweeting about -- calling this a witch hunt against him, just talking about the people leading it being disturbed, I think was his term, or conflicted. Is that appropriate? MCCONNELL: "I typically don't comment on the president's tweeting habits." COOPER: "Do you think it is a witch hunt?" MCCONNELL: "I don't have any observations about that. We had here an example of a horrendous event that we all condemn, and we're here together tonight to make the point to the American people that there's a whole lot of cooperation in the Congress, even though it may not be covered, on a daily basis."THE WHITE HOUSE SHOWED UP! -- “At congressional baseball game, newfound unity has its limits,” by Yahoo’s Hunter Walker: “As she talked to Yahoo News, [Kellyanne] Conway spotted top White House adviser Gary Cohn, who was in a dark suit. She called Cohn over. ‘Look how Gary Cohn dresses for a baseball game. He dresses like Gary Cohn! Gary come here!’ Conway beckoned. ‘He came out of the womb looking like that,’ quipped Mulvaney as Cohn strolled over. ‘This is New York chic,’ said Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs banker. As Cohn posed for photos with Conway, Mulvaney reached over and put an LSU hat on his head. Cohn couldn’t see the cap. ‘Does it make me a hillbilly?’ Cohn asked. ‘We couldn’t make you a hillbilly if we tried,’ Mulvaney said.” https://yhoo.it/2ttWtNu NYT NATIONAL BASEBALL WRITER TYLER KEPNER on the game. Good nugget: “A record 24,959 tickets were sold for the charity exhibition -- a higher attendance than Thursday’s major league games in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota and Oakland.” http://nyti.ms/2rmUQAK CLICKERS -- “Prayers and pitches: Scenes from the congressional baseball game” -- 33 pix http://politi.co/2rCV4Tz … 27 PHOTOS by the Washington Post http://wapo.st/2rCXhhC SPOTTED at the Anheuser-Busch and Buffalo Wild Wings game watch party in the PNC Diamond Club: Sean and Rebecca Spicer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Reps. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), Dave Joyce (R-Ohio), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), John Delaney (R-Md.), Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Carl Hulse, Cate Martel, Naomi Jagoda, Allison Brennan, Roland Foster, Kate Pointer.-- Photo of Tyson’s lobbyist Matt Mika’s friends and colleagues http://bit.ly/2t9fXI4 THE LATEST ON SCALISE -- RACHAEL BADE: “House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the Louisiana Republican shot during a congressional baseball practice Wednesday, is doing better but remains in critical condition and will be hospitalized for an extended period of time, according to a statement from his doctors. MedStar Washington Hospital Center said in a statement Thursday evening that Scalise underwent another surgery ‘related to his internal injuries and a broken bone in his leg.’ ‘He remains in critical condition, but has improved in the last 24 hours,’ the statement said. ‘The Congressman will require additional operations, and will be in the hospital for some time. At the request of the family, we will continue to provide periodic updates.’” Bade on the emotional times on the Hill http://politi.co/2swDk15-- KEY LINE HERE: Scalise will be hospitalized for an “extended period of time.” This will be a long recovery.THE NEXT FRONTIER -- “Rattled by shooting, lawmakers want more personal protection,” by Seung Min Kim and Rachael Bade: “Lawmakers are debating a range of heightened security measures following Wednesday’s shooting that critically injured House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, with a growing number of Republicans even seeking to carry their own guns into the Capitol for personal safety. Rattled by the mass shooting by a gunman with an apparent political agenda, lawmakers are struggling with how to balance ensuring security for members of Congress while keeping themselves accessible to voters. “The gamut of options includes new rules ramping up the law enforcement presence at big group events with lawmakers, equipping Capitol Police with more advanced weapons, and allowing individual members to spend taxpayer or campaign dollars on personal security measures. And several GOP lawmakers want the green light to bring their personal firearms onto Capitol grounds, a move that immediately alarmed Democrats who favor tougher gun restrictions.” http://politi.co/2ry7KQy-- MANY LAWMAKERS have mused about each getting their own Capitol Police officer. But that would be a hugely pricey government expense. ON THE ALLEGED GUNMAN -- “Scalise Gunman Dodged 2006 Charge That Would Bar Gun Purchases,” by Bloomberg’s Ari Natter: “James Hodgkinson, 66, was arrested after a 2006 incident in which he was accused of beating his foster daughter, according to court records. The case crumbled after the victim decided not to testify ... Under federal law, someone found guilty of domestic battery of a family member can be barred from legally owning a firearm.” https://bloom.bg/2ttKeR1WAPO’S ASHLEY PARKER, the pride of Montgomery County, scooped that Vice President Mike Pence has hired Richard Cullen, the chairman of McGuireWoods, to represent him. http://wapo.st/2s7VoNE MATT NUSSBAUM reminds us that McGuireWoods also once employed Jim Comey! And the firm also currently represents former Rep. Aaron Schock, who is facing 24 counts of criminal charges related to alleged crimes during his time in office. SCOOP -- “Trump transition officials ordered to save Russia documents,” by Josh Dawsey: “Aides and volunteers on Donald Trump’s presidential transition were instructed Thursday to save any records related to ‘several pending investigations into potential attempts by Russia interests to influence the 2016 election,’ according to a memo provided to POLITICO. In the memo from a transition lawyer, campaign officials were told to preserve all documents related to the Russian Federation, Ukraine and a number of campaign advisers and officials, including former campaign manager Paul Manafort, advisers Carter Page, Rick Gates and Roger Stone, and former national security adviser Gen. Michael Flynn.” http://politi.co/2sFQA36-- GOLDEN BOY ALERT: “Special counsel is investigating Jared Kushner’s business dealings,” by WaPo’s Sari Horowitz, Matt Zapotosky and Adam Entous: “FBI agents and federal prosecutors have also been examining the financial dealings of other Trump associates, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Carter Page, who was listed as a foreign-policy adviser for the campaign.” http://wapo.st/2shPVCa THE PUSHBACK -- “Rosenstein prods media for ‘anonymous allegations’ on Russia probe,” by Darren Samuelsohn: “A top Trump Justice Department official issued an unusual, vague statement Thursday night, casting doubt on a series of recent media reports detailing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's growing probe into the Trump campaign for potential collusion with Russia in the 2016 campaign. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appeared to be taking issue with recent Washington Post and New York Times stories that President Donald Trump himself is now the subject of an obstruction of justice probe, as well as a separate new report from the Post that Mueller is looking into White House senior adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner’s finances. ..."’Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials,’ particularly when they do not identify the country - let alone the branch or agency of government - with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated,’ Rosenstein said. ‘Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations. The Department of Justice has a long-established policy to neither confirm nor deny such allegations.’ “Rosenstein’s statement caught many in Washington off guard, in part because it was so generic and didn't actually specify which news reports it was addressing. It’s also notable because of who issued it: With Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused from all things related to the Russia probe, Rosenstein as the No. 2 DOJ official has the reins over the Mueller probe. He’ll get Mueller’s budget and he also has the power to block major investigative steps -- with the caveat he must report to Congress if that happens.” http:[email protected]: “The Washington Post has updated the Kushner story to reflect the officials cited are indeed U.S. officials.”JOSH DAWSEY, “White House aides fret over Trump’s Russia probe obsession”: “The greatest threat to Trump and his presidency, say administration officials and outside advisers, comes from his own conduct and obsessive behavior after he took office. While congressional and FBI investigations may prove Trump or his team broke laws before he took office, his advisers say they’re more worried that the things he’s done since the inauguration may have left him exposed to obstruction of justice or other charges. Trump, for months, has bristled almost daily about the ongoing probes. He has sometimes, without prompting, injected. ‘I’m not under investigation’ into conversations with associates and allies. He has watched hours of TV coverage every day -- sometimes even storing morning news shows on his TiVo to watch in the evening -- and complained nonstop.” http://politi.co/2sFWm4NTHE COUNSEL -- “Mueller, Known for Being Above the Fray, Is Now in the Thick of It,” by NYT’s Scott Shane and Charlie Savage: “Veterans of past Washington battles on the borders of law and politics said that the president’s pushback was to be expected, but that its ferocity and timing were unusual. Just one month into the job, Mr. Mueller has not yet finished hiring staff members or installing a computer network -- deliberately segregated from the main Justice Department -- in the Patrick Henry Building in downtown Washington.“‘It’s early in the game to begin to impugn the prosecutors,’ said Philip Allen Lacovara, a Watergate prosecutor and a Republican. ‘It’s a pre-emptive nuclear strike. If you’re afraid of what the prosecutors are going to find out, you try to debunk anything they might come up with in advance by attacking them.’” http://nyti.ms/2shLOX2JUST POSTED -- POLITICO MAGAZINE'S TIM ALBERTA: "Man on a Wire: Mike Pence’s Tightrope Act... He might be the most consequential vice president ever. He could well be the next commander in chief. And the one person in America he can’t have thinking about that is his boss." http://politi.co/2tunArX SHOCKING! -- “Senate likely to miss its Obamacare repeal deadline,” by Jen Haberkorn: “Senate Republicans are getting dangerously close to missing their deadline to hold a Senate health care vote by month’s end, potentially derailing fulfillment of their seven-year-old campaign promise to repeal Obamacare. The Senate left Washington on Thursday with a seemingly insurmountable health care to-do list: When they return on Monday, Republicans will have just two weeks before the Fourth of July recess to overcome the remaining big divides on policy – including what year to roll back Medicaid expansion and how deeply to cut the program that covers health care for low-income people. They also must settle on how to bring down health insurance premiums and when to cut the taxes that paid for Obamacare -- not to mention the vexing issue of whether to defund Planned Parenthood.” http://politi.co/2rDiWGuALEX ISENSTADT, “GOP sirens blaze over Georgia special election”: “The GOP is bracing for the prospect of a loss in Tuesday’s Georgia’s special election that could have far-reaching implications for President Donald Trump and his party’s fortunes in 2018. As grim confidential polling data circulates among GOP strategists, interviews with nearly two dozen Republican operatives and officials reveal that they are preparing for the possibility of an unnerving defeat that could spur lawmakers to distance themselves from Trump and his already-troubled legislative agenda, and potentially encourage a wave of retirements. ...“While Republicans privately lampoon Ossoff’s campaign skills -- deriding him as an inexperienced, talking-point driven candidate -- they acknowledge his cash advantage has made him a lethal opponent. ‘We’re going to find out if a monkey banging cymbals together spending $25 million can get elected,’ the NRCC’s executive director John Rogers told a group of Capitol Hill chiefs of staff this week, said one person present for the meeting. His meaning was clear to those in attendance: Ossoff might seem like a mechanical candidate, but he had to be taken seriously.” http://politi.co/2rxCDocSORRY MEGYN! Alex Jones says he will release a tape of his entire day with Megyn Kelly tonight. http://bit.ly/2swg9mM Her interview is slated to run Sunday. -- PAGE SIX: “Megyn Kelly interview completely overhauled after backlash” http://pge.sx/2ry1R5Q FASCINATING LOOK BEHIND THE SCENES -- “At Last, Jeff Bezos Offers a Hint of His Philanthropic Plans,” by NYT’s Robert Frank: Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, is well on his way to becoming the richest person in the world, with a net worth of more than $80 billion. What’s less certain is what he plans to do with his fortune, and how he could reinvent philanthropy.“On Thursday, after questions from The New York Times about the level of his giving, Mr. Bezos posted on Twitter a ‘request for ideas’ for philanthropy. ‘I’m thinking about a philanthropy strategy that is the opposite of how I mostly spend my time -- working on the long term,’ he wrote. ‘For philanthropy, I find I’m drawn to the other end of the spectrum: the right now.’” http://nyti.ms/2rncunL TRUMP INC. -- “With shift on Cuba, Trump could undercut his company’s hotel-industry rivals,” by WaPo’s Drew Harwell and Jonathan O'Connell: “[A]s the owner of a real estate company with a big stake in hotels and resorts, Trump brings an added element to an issue that is unique to his presidency — the ability, through his official actions, to undermine a growth area for his industry rivals who have raced in recent years to establish a foothold in a lucrative new market. Starwood Hotels and Resorts, which merged with Marriott International to form the world’s largest hotel chain, last year debuted the first Cuban hotel managed by a U.S. company in nearly 60 years, taking advantage of President Barack Obama’s 2014 move to normalize relations with Cuba and lighten regulations enforcing the U.S. embargo on the island.” http://wapo.st/2sFYZUgK-STREET FILES -- “Sudan Ramps Up Washington Lobbying as Sanctions Deadline Looms,” by Bloomberg’s Jen Jacobs and Nick Wadhams: “Sudan is on the cusp of ending its long status as a pariah in Washington, and the African nation is bolstering its stable of lobbyists to ensure that it happens soon. The government of President Umar al-Bashir -- which is listed by the U.S. as a state sponsor of terrorism -- has hired Washington law firm Squire Patton Boggs LLP at a cost of $40,000 a month to lobby on its behalf as part of its accelerating campaign to ensure that President Donald Trump permanently lifts sanctions against the country ahead of a deadline next month, according to a filing with the Justice Department.” https://bloom.bg/2t8WIhPBREAKING LATE LAST NIGHT -- “Trump won’t alter status of current Dreamers,” by Josh Gerstein: “President Donald Trump’s administration has issued its most explicit promise to date that so-called Dreamers can keep their permission to work legally in the U.S. ‘No work permits will be terminated prior to their current expiration dates,’ the Department of Homeland Security said in guidance posted on its website Thursday night. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has said recently that the administration is not seeking to deport those who received quasi-legal status under a policy President Barack Obama adopted in 2012. However, the new statement from DHS seems to be a forward-looking promise not to take action against those in the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, an initiative for undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children.” http://politi.co/2shGwLcLISTEN IN -- The Pollsters -- Kristen Soltis Anderson and Margie Omero -- had Anna on their podcast to talk all things Playbook. The bipartisan duo is @thepollsters on Twitter and Facebook. Listen and subscribe http://apple.co/2jJaEKUHOW A STREET IN BROOKLYN IS CHANGING THE ENERGY GRID: The shared economy is flourishing, with companies like Airbnb and Lyft capitalizing on the growing popularity of shared services. Can their success be replicated in the energy industry? In the latest installment of POLITICO Magazine’s “What Works” series, we look at Brooklyn-based LO3 that devised a micro grid system that uses a phone app and smart meters to enable neighbors with solar panels to strike deals amongst themselves on the amount of electricity they buy from each other and at what price. We also look at the revitalization of Tampa, Florida – a broken down deep water port revitalized after 40 years of public and private investment. Read more on Tampa’s revitalization http://politi.co/2tsAvuq … about Brooklyn’s energy grid http://politi.co/2rwOymb … Photo gallery http://politi.co/2szxlsjSUNDAY SO FAR – “Fox News Sunday”: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) ... Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) ... Jay Sekulow ... Robert Scheer. Panel: Brit Hume, Julie Pace, Lisa Boothe, Juan Williams-- CBS’ “Face the Nation”: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) ... Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Political panel: Ramesh Ponnuru, Phil Rucker, Nancy Cordes, and Jamelle Bouie-- NBC’s “Meet the Press”: panel: David Brooks, Danielle Pletka, Amy Walters and Eugene Robinson-- CNN’s “State of the Union”: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) ... Jay Sekulow ... Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)-- CNN’s “Inside Politics”: Karoun Demirjian, Abby Phillip, Jeff Zeleny, Phil MattinglySPOTTED: Georgetown coach and NBA legend Patrick Ewing stopping by Wolf Blitzer’s table at Cafe Milano last night to pay his respects ... Carly Fiorina at the American/JetBlue terminal at DCA yesterday.OUT AND ABOUT --- POOL REPORT: “President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attended the official investiture ceremony for Justice Neil Gorsuch Thursday afternoon at the Supreme Court. After the other eight justices took their seats on the dais, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein presented the Justice’s commission, which was read by the court’s clerk. Chief Justice Roberts then administered the judicial oath to Justice Gorsuch. The courtroom was filled with friends and family of the Justice, as well as his devoted clerks Mike Davis, Jameel Jaffer, Janie Nitze, Matt Owen, and David Feder.”-- SPOTTED: retired Justice John Paul Stevens, Maureen Scalia, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), (who voted against Justice Gorsuch’s confirmation), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Don McGahn (whose birthday is today) and wife Shannon, Mark Paoletta, Marc Short, Makan Delrahim, James Burnham, Mike McGinley, Chris Grieco, Lucas Walker, Leonard Leo, Jonathan Bunch, Rob Collins, Ann Donaldson, Ed Whelan, Michael Keneally, Liz Horning, Gustav Eyler, Ryan Newman, Brett Talley, Patrick Bumatay, Wan Kim, Eric Tung, Tobi and Evan Young, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, Kenneth Starr, Liz Johnson, Mary Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Bopp, Rachel Brand, Greg Katsas, Ted Lehman, Theresa Wardon, Nicole Gustafson, Greg Garre, Megan Lacey.-- Last night, the Picnic Theatre Company staged its second sold-out performance of Noel Coward’s “Hay Fever” at Dumbarton House gardens, directed by Steve Rochlin and featuring Christina Sevilla, Emily Lenzner, Nova Daly, Charles Kovatch, Fran Holuba, Daniela Kelley, Antonio Olivo, Kevin Rooney and Bob Gerber. Pics http://bit.ly/2sifLpL … http://bit.ly/2s8bZ3O SPOTTED: Peter Cherukuri, Jay Newton-Small, Anu Rangappa, Matea Gold, Jon Lenzner, Debbie Berger, Courtney Carlson, Amb. Abdulwahab Al-Hajjri, Amb. Tatiana Gfoeller, Sanna Kangasharju, David Van Ongevalle, Andreas Ledergerber and Andy Oros.-- Collective SuperPAC, a national PAC dedicated to building black political power, kicked off the first ever Black Campaign School with a special reception last night at the Blackburn Center at Howard University. The event was co-sponsored by Priorities USA, EMILY’s List, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and ActBlue. SPOTTED: Quentin and Stefanie Brown James, Stacey Abrams, Shavonda Sumter, Tishaura Jones, Guy Cecil, Donna Brazile, Symone Sanders, Jamal Simmons, Leah Daughtry, Dan McNally and Tim Lim.-- Longtime friends and colleagues of Carolyn Brehm gathered at Jones Day last night to celebrate her retirement and welcome Selina Jackson into her position as VP of global government affairs for Proctor & Gamble. SPOTTED: Amb. Richard Boucher, Jay Timmons, Joel Johnson, Poppy McDonald, William Lane, Sean Mulvaney, Mike Prentiss, Richard Goodstein, Ira Shapiro, Sean Broderick, DJ Peterson.TRANSITIONS – KIKI BURGER has started at PR firm Sunshine Sachs, where she’s helping manage political and non-profit clients out of their LA office. She is an alum of Rock the Vote and Susan G. Komen. … Linda Chavez, the president of the Becoming American Institute and a syndicated columnist, has joined the Niskanen Center as a senior fellow.WELCOME TO THE WORLD -- POLITICO night editor Craig Howie (who helps edit Playbook on the weekend), and wife, Niki, a landscape designer at Through the Garden, early this morning welcomed Leif Diño Howie, born 2:52 a.m. in Winchester, Va., to 7lb 14oz. “Everyone happy and healthy hooray!” Pic http://bit.ly/2si1VUo -- Joanne Denyeau, planning producer at MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” and Mike Kramer, SVP at Westchester Chubb company, recently welcomed Ruth Anne Kramer. “We lovingly call her Ruthie. Ruthie has a big brother, Joey Kramer. He turns 2 in August.” Pic http://bit.ly/2rCZKZxBIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Phil Singer, CEO and founder of Marathon Strategies. How he’s celebrating: “Israel. Kim and I are taking the kids on their first big overseas trip.” How he thinks the Trump presidency is going: “Amazing if you work at the Kremlin.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2sGn8db BIRTHDAYS: Don McGahn is 49 ... Politico’s John Bresnahan and Zach Stanton ... Brandi Hoffine, associate VP for comms and strategy at UC ... NPR’s Steve Inskeep, the pride of Carmel, Indiana … Marcus Brauchli, co-founder and managing partner of North Base Media and a WSJ and WaPo alum ... Phil Cox, founding partner at 50-State and former RGA exec. director, is 43 … former Rep. Robert Hurt (R-Va.) is 48 ... Adam Talbot, director at West Wing Writers ... Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) is 37 ... Jim Dau is 41 ... Indira Lakshmanan, journalism ethics chair at Poynter and columnist for the Boston Globe, celebrating with her husband at Fiola Mare (h/t Nihal Krishan) ... Caity Rogowski (h/t Jon Haber) ... Jenna Galper (h/ts Alexandra De Luca and Helen Brosnan) ... PBS NewsHour politics producer Rachel Wellford (h/ts Nick Massella and Simone Pathe) ... Reid Wilson, national correspondent at The Hill … Liz Bourgeois, executive comms manager at Facebook ... Jessica Boulanger, SVP of comms. at Business Roundtable ... former Amb. Daniel C. Kurtzer is 68 ... Israeli investigative journalist Ronen Bergman is 45 (h/ts Jewish Insider) … Brett Bethune, intern for Sen. Claire McCaskill (R-Mo), is 2-1 (h/t mom Anne) ...... Aaron McLear, director of public affairs for the West at Uber, is 4-0, celebrating at The Battery in SF (h/t Niki Christoff) ... Matt Vari, a digital strategist at Mothership Strategies, email aficionado and Diet Coke enthusiast, is 25 (h/t Jonas Murphy) ... Angie Kelley, VP for immigration policy at CAP ... Reid Wilson, former Clinton EPA ... Sarah Schoeffel ... Matthew Bartlett … WTOP alum Bob Madigan … John Leo ... Snap’s Kara Rivers ... Nicole Luna ... Mark Tapscott … Francisco “Frank” Sanchez, chairman of CNS Global Advisors ... Jill McNaughton … Pat Roth of Phoenix ... Pedro Moreno ... Katie Nelson Thomson ... NPR’s Jessica Taylor ... Joel R. Maliniak ... Jeffrey Block ... Don Harris ... Peter O’Toole, alum of Burson-Marsteller, GE and Pfizer ... David J. Jones ... Jon Kevin Lauck ... Traci Nobles ... John Shaw ... David Eades … Jill McNaughton ... Steve Welchert, star of the 1977-1981 University of Iowa Football team ... Caryl Terrell ... Troy Perry (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) ... author Joyce Carol Oates is 79 ... golfer Phil Mickelson is 47 (h/ts AP)
As reported earlier this week, overnight Bloomberg confirmed that Wu Xiaohui, the chairman of China's insurance conglomerate which recently made headlines in the US for nearly reaching a deal with Jared Kushner over 666 Fifth Ave., was detained by a joint team of Central Commission for "Discipline Inspection" and police for questioning. It adds that that Chinese investigators who detained Wu are carrying out a wide probe that includes looking into the sources of funding for the firm’s acquisitions overseas, possible market manipulation by insurers, and “economic crimes." The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that investigators were een checking whether Wu - whose fortune last year was calculated to be just over $1 billion - was involved in bribery and other economic crimes at Anbang and that Wu couldn't be contacted for comment. As noted on Wednesday, Anbang said Wu couldn’t perform his duties for personal reasons, a story which has since been disproved. The authorities are said to be examining Anbang transactions including acquisitions overseas and their funding. According to Bloomberg;s sources, the probe also fits into a broader investigation of possible market manipulation by insurers, although they didn’t specifically define the term “economic crimes.” The action is the result of the government’s crackdown on a sector that is "supposed to help families and companies cut their financial risks, but has recently become a hub for rampant financial speculation." Yet while Wu's fate now appears sealed, swallowed by China and unlikely to reemerge any time soon if ever, questions have emerged about the viability of Anbang Insurance Group itself, which as the NYT reported overnight, has seen its growth come to a "screeching halt" as Chinese investors who helped fund its meteoric rise no longer want to have anything to do with the politically connected company which is "no longer in Beijing’s good graces." Specifically, according to government data released on Thursday, Anbang’s sales of life insurance policies and investment products, an key source of cash, stopped almost completely in April after tumbling sharply in March. It wasn't just Anbang: across the insurance industry, where the (ab)use of Wealth Management Products is prevalent, sales slowed in April compared with earlier in the year. More details: From January through March of this year, Anbang raised three-fifths as much money as it raised all of last year, government data shows. It has maintained a large stockpile of cash after a series of big investments fell apart, including a $14 billion bid for Starwood Hotels and Resorts and a deal for a Manhattan office tower with Kushner Companies, the family real estate firm partly owned by Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of President Trump and an administration adviser. But Anbang’s latest figures are eye-catching for the opposite reason. Including new kinds of policies and wealth management products, it took in only $218 million in April this year, down from $5.92 billion in the same month last year, the government data on Thursday showed. That was the biggest Y/Y collapse in the company's premium income on record, and as a result Anbang is now under "acute" financial pressure. The NYT notes that "its revenue from existing life insurance policies and certain wealth management products was down 88 percent in April compared with the same month the previous year. The rest of the industry was up 4.5 percent in the same period." While largely ignored on the list of potential Chinese risk factors, Anbang's troubles could soon become systemic. In early May, Chinese insurance regulators ordered Anbang to stop selling two investment products. One, they said, was improperly marketed as long-term insurance while a crucial application for the other lacked an actuary’s signature. By that point, Anbang was already in trouble. Questions about Anbang’s financial strength had begun circulating on social media in China in March and April, as Chinese officials publicly raised questions about sales of wealth management products by some insurers. If the drop in revenue is steep enough, Anbang could eventually be forced to liquidate assets. A big factor will be what happens with its existing policies and investment products, which comprise China's shadow banking system. As the NYT adds, Anbang’s annual report provides little information on the monthly tempo at which its previously issued investments are maturing. The company might need to pay them out if they are not rolled over into further investments with the company. The company’s policies do have very stiff penalties on early redemption to discourage holders from turning them in early for cash. Anbang could raise money by selling some of its investments, but that could take time. Additionally, the conglomerate, which over the past 3 years was nothing short of the world's most aggressive "roll up" has been an active investor in Western hedge funds, in addition to making outright acquisitions of overseas companies. And those terms tend to impose severe limits on Anbang’s ability to ask for its money back quickly. That said, a firesale of Anbang assets, which include the Waldorf Astoria, should be a fascinating event. The biggest risk from a potential unwind of Anbang, however, is the fate of its billions in WMP "assets" and whether any troubles at the insurer lead to investor impairment, and a potential run on China's $8.5 billion "shadow bank" considered by many as the Achilles heel of China's massively overlevered financial system.
Сегодня утром стало известно, что глава одного из крупнейших китайских финансовых конгломератов, Anbang Insurance Group, У Сяохуэй арестован. Арест состоялся еще на прошлой неделе, но сообщения об этом появились только сегодня. Официально причины ареста на сообщаются, компания уже заявила о сложении господином У своих полномочий по «личным причинам».Anbang Insurance Group управляет активами на $130 млрд, портфель состоит не только из финансовых активов: в 2014 году Anbang приобрела культовую нью-йоркскую гостиницу Waldorf Astoria за $1,95 млрд, а в 2016 году совершила попытку приобрести за $14 млрд сеть гостиниц Starwood Hotels & Resorts, однако по ряду причин отказалась от продолжения борьбы за сеть. Западные СМИ сообщают, что задержание главы Anbang может быть частью кампании китайских властей по борьбе с коррупцией или ужесточению контроля над финансовым рынком страны.Евгений Хвостик
Anbang Insurance, China's hyperacquisitive insurance rollup, which was responsible for a sizable portion of China's merger spree between 2014 and 2016, and which has since been accused of being a money laundering vehicle, of wreaking "havoc" with the Chinese insurance market, and was a potential investor in Jared Kushner's 666 Fifth Avenue building until the deal fell apart in March, announced that its billionaire Chairman Wu Xiaohui, is "unable to perform his duties" due to personal reasons, confirming Chinese media reports that the tycoon had recently been detained by authorities. On Tuesday, China's Caijing reported that Wu - whose net worth was recently estimated at over $1 billion - was taken away by Chinese authorities, citing unidentified people. The report said that officials from the China Insurance Regulatory Commission met with a small group of Anbang staff on June 10 and didn’t provide specific reasons for Wu being taken. Curiously the report, which did not explain if Wu was assisting with a government investigation or was himself the target of a price, was later deleted from the magazine’s website. A person familiar with the matter told the South China Morning Post that Wu had been “assisting relevant investigations” and previously had always returned to his office or home after a few hours of questioning. Wu hasn’t returned since he was taken away at the end of last week, the person said. Last week, the FT reported that Wu was barred by Chinese authorities from leaving the country, however Anbang denied the report. Xiaohui led Anbang’s rapid rise and abrupt emergence in the international business arena, where the company became known for its ambitious takeover bids. In October of 2014, Anbabg bought the Waldorf Astoria in New York for $1.95 billion, a record for a single American hotel, and later closed the property while it converts most of the rooms to luxury condominiums. In early 2016, Anbang agreed to buy Strategic Hotels & Resorts, owner of 16 high-end hotels in the U.S., from Blackstone for about $6.5 billion. One hotel next to a major naval base later dropped out of the purchase amid national security concerns. About the same time as Anbang agreed to the Strategic purchase, it made a surprise $14 billion offer for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, starting a bidding war with Marriott International Inc. A few weeks later, Anbang unexpectedly walked away from the bid, having forced Marriott to increase its offer by about $1 billion. Anbang also had an agreement to buy Fidelity & Guaranty Life, however the deal was canceled in April after the Chinese company failed to meet transaction deadlines. Most notably, Anbang had been in talks to invest in the proposed redevelopment of 666 Fifth Ave. in New York, the marquee building of Kushner Cos., the family company of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Talks broke off in March. However, once Beijing cooled on offshore M&A amid a crackdown on shady financial dealings encouraging capital flight, the company quickly became a target for dometic anger, suffering the wrath of local regulators over his company’s risky reliance on life insurance policies to raise funds, as well as an opaque corporate structure, profiled extenisvely by the NYT. In a statement posted on its website, Anbang announced that other senior managers have been authorized to carry out Wu’s responsibilities and operations are normal. As Bloomberg notes, the news adds to the intrigue surrounding one of the country’s most aggressive overseas dealmakers, which only came into being in 2004. Since it embarked on a global takeover spree three years ago, Anbang has drawn attention for making preemptive offers and disrupting transactions already in place. Wu has personally negotiated deals without using traditional investment banks. Wu, who is married to the granddaughter of Chinese revolutionary and statesman, Deng Xiaoping, doesn’t speak English and often travels with translators. The vast majority of Anbang is collectively owned by relatives of Wu or his wife, Zhuo Ran, the New York Times has reported, although its corporate structure is so opaque it is difficult to trace ownership. As the FT reported earlier, Xiaohui's detention is the highest-profile development in a sweep of China’s financial industry by corruption investigators that began in earnest in January, when a well-known financier was escorted from a luxury hotel in Hong Kong by Chinese police and taken across the border. Xiao Jianhua has not been heard from since, and there has been no official confirmation that he is under arrest.
A Marriott International, Inc. (MAR) unit, The Ritz-Carlton recently announced the opening of The Ritz-Carlton, Astana.
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Shares of Marriott International Inc. (MAR) rose nearly 5% in after-hour trading on May 8, after the company reported better-than-expected first-quarter 2017 results
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