By Alexandra Alper and Karen Freifeld
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Companies that supply the chip sector with sophisticated and expensive equipment plan to warn the Trump administration against a proposal to blacklist China’s top chipmaker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp <0981.HK>, arguing it would be “detrimental” to U.S. industry.
The companies are represented by the semiconductor and electronics manufacturing suppliers industry group SEMI, which drafted a letter seen by Reuters that could be sent as soon as this week to Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross.
In the draft letter, the group argued that blacklisting SMIC would jeopardize the United States’ technological edge by making it harder for U.S. companies to supply the company, which accounts for as much as $5 billion in annual U.S. origin equipment and material sales.
They also argue that such a move would “contribute to a growing perception” that the delivery of U.S. goods is “unreliable” and hit U.S. market share worldwide.
“We urge the Department to carefully consider the immediate and long-term detrimental impacts to U.S. industry, economic and national security that may result from the addition of SMIC to the Entity List,” said the group, which has 2,400 members worldwide, including SMIC and U.S. chip equipment makers Lam Research Corp <LRCX.O> and Applied Materials Inc <AMAT.O>.
The Commerce Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Joe Pasetti, SEMI’s vice president of global public policy, said: “We don’t comment on draft letters leaked to the press.”
Reuters reported earlier this month that the Defense Department was working with other agencies to determine whether to add SMIC to the Commerce Department’s “entity list,” which would force U.S. suppliers to seek hard-to-get licenses before shipping to the company.
Shares of the company plunged by nearly a quarter on the news.
SMIC said in a statement at the time that it was “in complete shock” over the news but was open to communication with U.S. government agencies in hopes of resolving any misunderstandings. While a Defense Department official did not disclose the motive for the proposed action, SMIC’s relationship to the Chinese military is under scrutiny, sources told Reuters, as the Trump administration increasingly trains its focus on China’s military muscle.
The entity list has been used as a tool by the administration against Chinese companies under scrutiny in Washington over national security concerns, from telecoms giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd to surveillance equipment producer Hikvision <002415.SZ>.
(Reporting by Alexandra Alper and Karen Freifeld; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Peter Cooney)
Trump’s 2016 Campaign Listed Millions of Black Voters It Wanted to Stop From Voting, Leak Reveals
LONDON—Over three million Black voters in key states were identified by President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign as people they had to persuade to stay at home on Election Day to help him reach the White House.
The revelation comes from an enormous data leak obtained by the British news network Channel 4. It shows that, four years ago, the Trump campaign prepared files on almost 200 million American voters and separated some out into eight different categories. One such category, assigned to 3.5 million Black voters, was titled: “Deterrence.”
The leaked database was reportedly used by Trump’s digital campaign team, which was critical to Trump’s narrow victory. Channel 4 News has a track record of exposing the unethical practices of Cambridge Analytica—the now-defunct British digital black-ops firm that harvested the Facebook data of tens of millions of voters for the use of Team Trump.
The leaked files show that Black Americans were disproportionately marked ‘Deterrence’ by the 2016 campaign, making up far more of the category when compared to general population stats. For example, in Georgia, Black people make up around a third of the population, but 61 percent of the Trump campaign’s ‘Deterrence’ category there. The same pattern can be seen in data for North Carolina and Wisconsin.
Cambridge Analytica’s Real Role in Trump’s Dark Facebook Campaign
Overall, people of colour—labelled by the campaign as Black, Hispanic, Asian and ‘Other’ groups—made up 54 percent of the people in the ‘Deterrence’ category, according to Channel 4 News. In contrast, the lists of voters that the campaign wanted to encourage to head out to vote were mostly white. It’s impossible to say how effective the tactics were, but research shows that, in 2016, Black turnout fell by eight points.
The data does not offer a complete picture of exactly how the ‘Deterrence’ list was exploited, though it’s likely that it was used to help the campaign micro-target people on Facebook in the months leading up to Election Day in 2016. The Daily Beast revealed two years ago that Team Trump used audience lists created by Cambridge Analytica to target “dark ads” on Facebook in the final months of the 2016 campaign.
There’s no public record of those “dark ads,” which disappeared when the campaign stopped paying for them, and there’s no public information on the lists that were used to target voters. However, Channel 4 does report that it found some evidence that Team Trump pushed ads at Black voters designed to damage opinions of Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton.
One video ad showed Clinton talking about “super-predators” in 1996—a comment she apologized for in 2016 after the clip spread online. Channel 4 reports that Cambridge Analytica privately admitted that the campaign did target “AA,” or African Americans, with what it called the “Predators video,” though it’s not known if the ‘Deterrence’ list was used.
Trump Data Guru Officially Disqualified Over ‘Shady’ Campaign Tactics
Presented with Channel 4’s findings, Jamal Watkins, Vice President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said: “We use data… but it’s to motivate, persuade and encourage folks to participate. We don’t use the data to say who can we deter and keep at home. That just seems, fundamentally, it’s a shift from the notion of democracy.”
Watkins added: “It’s not ‘may the best candidate win’ at that point it’s ‘may the best well-funded machine suppress voters and keep them at home thereby rigging the election so that someone can win’.”
An unnamed Facebook spokesperson said: “Since 2016, elections have changed and so has Facebook—what happened with Cambridge Analytica couldn’t happen today.” The company cited its new rules prohibiting voter suppression, and its searchable political ads library which means that ads don’t just disappear from the network as they did in 2016.
The Trump campaign didn’t provide any comment.
Read more at The Daily Beast.
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3 Stocks Flashing Signs of Strong Insider Buying
If you really want to know which stocks the experts – and those in the know – are buying, pay attention to what they’re doing. Stock reports, company reviews, and press statements are helpful, but you’ll get significant information from watching what the insiders are up to.The insiders – the corporate officers and board members – have to disclose when they snap up shares to prevent any unfair advantages. Tracking their stock purchases can be a useful strategy because if an insider spends their own money on a stock, it could signal that they believe big gains are in store.So, investors looking for stocks that may be flying ‘under the radar,’ but with potential to climb fast, watching for insider purchases identify some sweet market plays. To make that search easier, the TipRanks Insiders’ Hot Stocks tool gets the footwork started – identifying stocks that have seen informative moves by insiders, highlighting several common strategies used by the insiders, and collecting the data all in one place.Fresh from that database, here are the details on three stocks showing ‘informative buys’ in recent days.TravelCenters of America (TA)We’ll start with a company that you probably don’t think about often, but that does provide an essential service. TravelCenters of America is the largest publicly traded owner, operator, and franchisor of full-service highway rest stops in the US. TA started out operating truck stops for rest, repair, and maintenance, and has since expanded to full-service fueling stations offering both gasoline and diesel, fast-food restaurants, convenience stores, and other rest stop amenities. Their network of rest stops is part of the infrastructure that makes long-distance motor transport, both private and commercial, possible in the USA.As can be imagined, the social lockdowns and travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic were not good for TA. The good news is, the worst of the pandemic hit during Q1, and the first quarter is normally TA’s slowest of the year. This year, the first quarter showed a net loss of $1.81 per share. In the second quarter, when warmer weather normally leads to increased driving, the pandemic restrictions were also – at least partially – lifted, and TA reported a sudden turnaround, with a 59 cent EPS profit. Even so, that missed the forecast by almost a dime. The outlook for Q3, normally TA’s strongest of the year, is for EPS of 73 cents.Turning to the insider trades, Adam Portnoy of the Board of Directors has the most recent informative buys. Earlier this month, he purchased over 323,000 shares, laying out more than $5.32 million for the stock. Analyst James Sullivan, of BTIG makes two observations about TravelCenters. First, he points out, “The long-haul trucking industry has an approximate 71% share of total primary tonnage in the U.S. freight industry, making it the primary mode of freight transportation.” Sullivan then adds that this opens up opportunity for TA going forward: “The increasing demands of the nation’s large trucking fleets for consolidated service providers that can provide fuel and truck service on a national basis appear likely to drive additional consolidation in the industry.”Sullivan rates TA shares a Buy, and his $34 price target suggests the stock has an impressive 82% upside potential for the coming year. (To watch Sullivan’s track record, click here)Overall, shares in TA are rated a Strong Buy from the analyst consensus, based on 5 recent reviews including 4 Buys and 1 Hold. The shares are selling for $19.24, and the $22.70 average price target implies room for 18% upside growth. (See TA stock analysis on TipRanks)Highwoods Properties (HIW)The next stock is a real estate investment trust. Highwood operates mostly in the Southeast US, but also in Pittsburgh, where it acquires, develops, leases, and manages a portfolio of suburban office and light industrial properties.Where most companies reported heavy losses during the corona crisis, HIW saw revenues in 1H20 remain stable. EPS has grown sequentially into Q1 and remained flat in Q2 at 93 cents. Both quarter beat EPS expectations.Despite the solid financial results, HIW shares have still not recovered from the market collapse of midwinter. The stock is down 27% year-to-date.Through all of this, Highwoods has maintained its dividend, as is common among REITs. The company has a 17-year history of dividend growth and reliability, and the current payment of 48 cents per common share has been stable for the past 7 quarters. At this level, it annualizes to $1.92 and gives a yield of 5.8%.Highwoods’ insider trading has come from Board member Carlos Evans, who purchased 10,000 shares for $337,000 dollars last week. His move was the first informative buy on HIW in the last 6 months.Truist analyst Michael Lewis is impressed by the quality of HIW’s portfolio. He writes, “We continue to believe that HIW’s portfolio is one of the best-positioned among traditional office REITs in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rent collections have been excellent and there are no large near-term lease expirations. More broadly, the portfolio should benefit from being focused in drivable, close-in Sunbelt suburbs.”In line with these comments, Lewis rates the stock a Buy. His price target, $45, indicates a 31% potential upside from current levels. (To watch Lewis’ track record, click here)Overall, HIW has a cautiously optimistic Moderate Buy consensus rating from the Street. This breaks down into 2 Buy ratings and 1 Hold. We can also see from TipRanks that the average analyst price target is $43, which implies a ~25% upside from the current share price. (See HIW stock analysis on TipRanks)VEREIT (VER)The last stock on our insider trading list is another REIT. VEREIT is major owner and manager of retail, restaurant, and commercial real estate, with a portfolio that includes over 3,800 properties worth a collective $14.7 billion. The company’s assets are 45% retail and 20% restaurants; the rest is mainly office and light industrial sites. The total leasable square footage is 88.9 million square feet.So VEREIT is a giant in the REIT sector – but size didn’t protect it from the general downturn this year. Share performance has been lackluster, and revenues have been falling off gradually since Q4 of last year. The second quarter results showed $279 million on the top line, the lowest in a year – but the quarter also saw earnings turn back upwards, reaching 17 cents per share.VER cut back on its dividend earlier this year, reducing the payment to 8 cents per share to keep it in line with earnings. That dividend has been maintained, and the next payment is set for mid-October. The current dividend yield is 4.5%, well over double the average found among S&P stocks.The big insider trade on VER comes from Board member and CEO Glenn Rufrano. He spent over $252K on a block of 40,000 shares, pushing the insider sentiment on this stock into positive territory.Covering the stock for JPMorgan, 5-star analyst Anthony Paolone sees an important strength in VER, noting that the company has been successful in collecting rents during the crisis period. “[Its] collections showed good improvement going into July, with 85% collections in 2Q and 91% in July; when considering all the abatements and deferrals, it appears that at this point about 94% of pre-COVID contractual rental revenue has been addressed, and it seems to us that a normalized run rate for this vast majority of the portfolio should take hold in early 2021; the company is making progress in working through the remaining 5-6% of non-collections,” Paolone noted.Paolone gives VER an Overweight (i.e. Buy) rating, and his $8 price target implies a 22% upside for the next 12 months. (To watch Paolone’s track record, click here)All in all, VER has drawn optimism mixed with caution when it comes to consensus opinion among sell-side analysts. Out of 5 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 3 are bullish on the stock, while 2 remain sidelined. With an 11% upside potential, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $7.25. (See VEREIT’s stock analysis at TipRanks)To find good ideas for stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.
FBI opens civil rights investigation into fatal 2018 police shooting of Kansas teenager
Federal authorities have opened a civil rights investigation into the fatal police shooting of a Kansas teenager during a wellness check in 2018.
The FBI will “collect all available facts and evidence and will ensure that the investigation is conducted in a fair, thorough and impartial manner,” spokeswoman Bridget Patton told USA TODAY in a statement Monday. The bureau’s Kansas City, Missouri, field office is working with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. attorney’s office in Kansas on the investigation.
Former Overland Park officer Clayton Jenison shot and killed John Albers, 17, in January 2018 after the teen’s friends called police to report he was making suicidal comments. As Albers backed out of his family’s garage in a minivan toward Jenison, the officer yelled at him to stop and then fired 13 times.
More: A mom called 911 to help her 13-year-old with autism, Utah police shot him
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The Johnson County District Attorney later ruled the shooting was justified because Jenison feared for his life.
Albers’ family settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the city for $2.3 million after the shooting. Jenison received $70,000 as part of a severance package when he agreed to resign, according to city officials.
Sheila Albers told the Kansas City Star she is thankful the FBI has reopened the case and accused local officials of presenting a false narrative about her son’s death.
“The FBI investigation highlights the failure of Overland Park and District Attorney Steve Howe to be transparent in their investigations and be accountable to their constituents,” Sheila Albers said.
Overland Park spokesman Sean Reilly told USA TODAY the city will “fully cooperate with all investigations into the 2018 shooting of John Albers, just as we cooperated with the investigations conducted by the Johnson County District Attorney’s office and the Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards.”
The investigation comes amid a national conversation about how police officers respond to calls regarding individuals having a mental health crisis. Nationwide, advocates are calling for change following the police shooting of a 13-year-old boy with autism in Utah and the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who was suffering from acute mental health problems when he died in police custody in New York.
What we know about Daniel Prude’s death: Police used ‘spit hood’ on Black man who died of asphyxiation
Contributing: The Associated Press
Follow N’dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: FBI opens civil rights investigation for police killing of Kansas teen
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