Internet Hoaxes Literally Killed 20 People In The Last Two Months

Social media networks and messaging apps, for all their plus points, are the catalysts for fake news – the real kind of fake news, not the Trumpian kind. Some vague efforts have been made to tackle an admittedly monstrous and unprecedented problem, but as a grim tale about WhatsApp has highlighted, the war on viral lies can lead to casualties.

The New York Times recently explained that, in India, false rumors regarding child abductions spread both easily and quickly. This has led to multiple murders – many conducted by mobs – in recent times, and many of the original fake news stories that trigger them are being sent over WhatsApp.

As reported by the Guardian, at least 20 people have been lynched in the country in the last two months as a result of such unfounded rumors.

The Facebook-owned messaging service will now restrict people to being able to forward messages to just 20 people in an attempt to stop fake news from spreading. Gizmodo have spotted that, in India, the cap is set even lower, at just five people. This, of course, doesn’t mean you can’t communicate the news in others ways – by taking a screenshot or typing it out yourself anew, say.

The (at present, temporary) move was prompted by a Channel 4 news report, which revealed through undercover filming that the service’s moderators were contravening Facebook’s own policies. It’s unclear, though, whether the move will ultimately prove to be effective.

Fake news is horrifically complex; it’s an end-of-video game boss with several dangerous attack styles but without the traditional weak point. Studies are only just revealing the extent to how it spreads and how it’s resistant to correction.

It’s becoming clear that willful ignorance and intentional deceptions are like diseases, for which the antibiotics of factual information are increasingly ineffective.

Fake news spreads far more quickly and further on social media than genuine information. Anti-vaxxers suffer from a psychological effect that means it’s not enough to show them the truth, you need to take down their overconfidence in their own opinions first.

Misrepresenting or otherwise popularizing fake science, too, comes at a cost: Unfounded rumors of impending disasters or medically induced conditions spread across the web like a viral infection, sometimes dramatically altering people’s lives for the worse. At a minimum, it puts scientific endeavors in a bad light, as fake news for other reporting often leads to a lower public trust in journalism in general.

As these examples reported in parts of India have shown, fake news can directly lead to killings, too. Unfortunately, it’s 2018: The most powerful people in the world are often engaged in spreading fake news, either to frighten people for economic gain or to game the balance of political power. Fake news isn’t going away anytime soon.

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“Monster” Crocodile That Evaded Capture For Nearly A Decade Caught At Last In Australia

For nearly a decade, an elusive “monster” crocodile has evaded wildlife authorities in Australia. Now, rangers in the Northern Territory have captured the massive saltwater croc.

Rumors of a large, shadowy figure swimming near a boat ramp on the Katherine River had long mystified local rangers and intrigued area locals.  

“We’ve called it a lot of things over the years because it’s been so hard to catch,” senior wildlife officer John Burke told ABC News.

NT Parks and Wildlife rangers say it is rare to capture a crocodile this massive in the Katherine River. Despite its gargantuan size, rangers say capturing the croc wasn’t as challenging as one might think. A trap was set a few weeks ago near the river in hopes of capturing the so-called “big fella”. Just like that, he swam right into it. 

“We’ve found that the big guys, because they’re so used to being the boss of their hole, they tend to work with us better than the little ones,” Burke said.

Measuring a whopping 4.7 meters long (over 15 feet) and weighing up to 600 kilograms (1,320 pounds), officials estimate the male crocodile is around 60 years old. NT Parks and Wildlife said in a Facebook post that the crocodile has been “removed” to “prevent human interaction in more populated areas.” The photo shows the giant strapped down to the bed of a trailer with duct tape around its jaw and eyes to minimize stress.

The post continues a warning as well: “Large crocodiles can move around Top End waterways undetected and you should always Be Crocwise.”

Captured more than 300 kilometers (187 miles) from the ocean, the crocodile was found just 30 kilometers (17 miles) downstream from the popular tourist destination Katherine Gorge, where visitors swim, canoe, and take crocodile tours. The crocodile was driven to a crocodile farm outside of Katherine, where the Associated Press says he will likely become a tourist attraction

Though “Big fella” sounds massive, he’s not the largest crocodile to be captured in Australia. In 1974 a 6-meter-long (20-foot) saltwater croc was captured in a net in the Mary River, according to the Australian government

 If you’re still not convinced that everything in Australia is trying to kill you then you’re certainly crazy.

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Russia’s biggest gun maker thinks its electric car is a Tesla killer. HAHAHA!

Can the modern but retro Kalashnikov CV-1 take on Tesla?
Image: Kalashnikov

Russia’s biggest gun manufacturer is looking to take on Tesla with its new electric concept car.

Kalashnikov, maker of the AK-47 assault weapon, has gone retro with its new “supercar,” the CV-1, unveiled at a Russian defense show near Moscow Thursday.

According to media outlets reporting at a press event at the expo, a Kalashnikov media rep said the car will “let us stand in the ranks of global electric car producers such as Tesla.”

It certainly looks retro, with the design and body of an old-school IZh 21252 “Kombi” car — the Kombi came from a Soviet era car maker from the 1970s. It’s a bold design decision, a vintage throwback akin to the Fujifilm Instax camera.

The CV-1 supercar has a rather old-fashioned design.

Image: Kalashnikov

Aside from making guns, Kalashnikov had previously built electric motorcycles and electric “Ovum” vehicles that were used at the World Cup in Russia this summer. The electric motorcycles had been used last year for police patrolling roads. But mostly the company builds weapons. And the occasional salt-and-pepper shaker.

So, will the company’s CV-1 “supercar” stand up to Tesla’s electric empire?

A limited number of Tesla vehicles have been sold in Russia in the past few years.

Kalashnikov didn’t give any pricing details for the potential vehicle, but the specs that the company provided didn’t exactly stack up with Tesla.

Tesla’s electric vehicles boast much more impressive stats. The CV-1 claims to have about a 200-mile range and go from 0 to 60 mph in 6 seconds. Tesla’s newest affordable sedan, the Model 3, has a 220-mile range and a long-range battery that reaches 310 miles. The Model 3 can reach 60 mph in 3.5 seconds.

If the concept car isn’t that impressive to you, check out the gun maker’s walking robot named Igoryok, also unveiled at the defense show this week. 

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Bomb that killed 40 children in Yemen was supplied by the US

(CNN)The bomb used by the Saudi-led coalition in a devastating attack on a school bus in Yemen was sold as part of a US State Department-sanctioned arms deal with Saudi Arabia, munitions experts told CNN.

The bomb is very similar to the one that wreaked devastation in an attack on a funeral hall in Yemen in October 2016 in which 155 people were killed and hundreds more wounded. The Saudi coalition blamed “incorrect information” for that strike, admitted it was a mistake and took responsibility.
In March of that year, a strike on a Yemeni market — this time reportedly by a US-supplied precision-guided MK 84 bomb — killed 97 people.
    In the aftermath of the funeral hall attack, former US President Barack Obama banned the sale of precision-guided military technology to Saudi Arabia over “human rights concerns.”
    The ban was overturned by the Trump administration’s then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in March 2017.
    As the US-backed Saudi-led coalition scrambles to investigate the strike on the school bus, questions are growing from observers and rights groups about whether the US bears any moral culpability. The US says it does not make targeting decisions for the coalition, which is fighting a Houthi rebel insurgency in Yemen. But it does support its operations through billions of dollars in arms sales, the refueling of Saudi combat aircraft and some sharing of intelligence.
    “I will tell you that we do help them plan what we call, kind of targeting,” said US Secretary of Defense James Mattis. “We do not do dynamic targeting for them.”
    The latest strike has left the community in Yemen’s northern Saada governorate reeling.
    Zeid Al Homran visits the graveyard where his two little boys are buried every day. On this occasion, he brought their five-year-old brother along. He is all Al Homran has left.
    “I was screaming in anger and all around me women were throwing themselves on the ground,” he told CNN. “People were screaming out the names of their children. I tried to tell the women it couldn’t be true but then a man ran through the crowd shouting that a plane had struck the children’s bus.”

    ‘Bodies scattered everywhere’

    The bomb’s impact as it landed on the bus full of excited schoolchildren on a day trip was devastating.
    Of the 51 people who died in the airstrike, 40 were children, Houthi Health Minister Taha al-Mutawakil said last week. He added that of the 79 people wounded, 56 were children.
    Eyewitnesses told CNN it was a direct hit in the middle of a busy market.
    “I saw the bomb hit the bus,” one witness said. “It blew it into those shops and threw the bodies clear to the other side of those buildings. We found bodies scattered everywhere, there was a severed head inside the bomb crater. When we found that, that was when I started running. I was so afraid.”
    Some of the bodies were so mutilated that identification became impossible. Left behind were scraps of schoolbooks, warped metal and a single backpack.
    Images of shrapnel filmed in the immediate aftermath of the attack were sent to CNN by a contact in Saada. Subsequently, a cameraman working for CNN filmed footage of the shrapnel after the cleanup operation had begun.
    Munitions experts confirmed that the numbers on it identified Lockheed Martin as its maker and that this particular MK 82 was a Paveway, a laser-guided bomb.
    Asked to comment on CNN’s evidence, coalition spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki said: “The democratically elected government of Yemen has been displaced by an Iranian-backed insurgency by minority Houthi militias.”
    “The coalition is in Yemen with the support of the UN Security Council to restore the legitimate government. The coalition is operating in accordance with international humanitarian law, taking all practical measures to minimize civilian casualties. Every civilian casualty is a tragedy.”
    He added that it would not “be appropriate for the coalition to comment further while the investigation is underway.”
    Saudi Arabia denies targeting civilians and defended the incident as a “legitimate military operation” and a retaliatory response to a Houthi ballistic missile from the day before.
    A Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, declined to confirm the provenance of the bomb.
    “The US has worked with the Saudi-led coalition to help them improve procedures and oversight mechanisms to reduce civilian casualties,” she said.
    “While we do not independently verify claims of civilian casualties in which we are not directly involved, we call on all sides to reduce such casualties, including those caused via ballistic missile attacks on civilian population centers in Saudi Arabia.”
    The United Nations has called for a separate investigation into the strike, one of the deadliest since Yemen’s war began in early 2015. Since then, the Saudi-led coalition has battled rebels in support of exiled President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

    Greater US oversight

    There have been growing calls in the US Congress for Saudi Arabia, a key US ally in the Middle East, to do more to cut civilian deaths in Yemen, where three years of conflict have taken a terrible toll.
    On Monday, US President Donald Trump signed a defense spending bill that includes a clause requiring the Pentagon and State Department to certify that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, another key coalition member, are doing enough to reduce civilian casualties. This report must be submitted to Congress within 180 days and then annually for the next two years.

      Dad finds the body of his son killed in airstrike

    The US, alongside the UK and France, is a major supplier of arms to Saudi Arabia.
    Trump signed a nearly $110 billion defense deal with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in May last year in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on what was his first stop abroad as President.
    In the same month, the US government reauthorized the export of Paveway munitions to Saudi Arabia, ending Obama’s December 2016 ban.
    Retired Rear Adm. John Kirby, who served as a spokesman for the State Department and Pentagon under Obama, said the Saudis had a right to defend themselves against missile attacks from the Iranian-backed Houthis but that the Obama administration did not believe they were striking the right balance between that need and proper care for civilian life.
    Asked whether the US had moral complicity in the deaths in Yemen, he said: “The issue of complicity is one that international lawyers probably are best to work out, not somebody like me.”
    “What I would tell you is that we certainly had under the Obama administration deep concerns about the way the Saudis were targeting, and we acted on those concerns by limiting the kinds of munitions that they were being given and stridently trying to argue for them to be more careful and cautious.”

    ‘Legitimate military action’

    In the immediate aftermath of the strike, al-Maliki, the coalition spokesman, told CNN it had been aimed at a “legitimate target.”
    “No, this is not children in the bus,” he said. “We do have high standard measures for targeting.”
    The Saudi ambassador to the UN, Abdullah Al-Mouallimi, similarly told the Security Council this week that the strike was a “legitimate military action” and that “the targeted Houthi leaders were responsible for recruiting and training young children and sending them to battlefields.”
    “We are not engaged in the civil war. We will help to prevent, you know, the killing of innocent people. I’m very concerned about the humanitarian situation,” US Defense Secretary James Mattis said Sunday when asked about the strike. “Wars are always tragic, but we’ve got to find a way to protect the innocent in the midst of this one.”
    Despite a lack of public condemnation over the school bus strike, there are signs that the Trump administration is taking action behind the scenes.
    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed the Saudi-led strike with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a call on Monday. A three-star US general also raised the matter while in Saudi Arabia to meet with the Saudi government and other coalition partners, the Pentagon said.
    “The real key is whether or not the Pentagon can help change the calculus, the thinking, inside the Saudi military,” said Kirby.
    The conflict in Yemen has resulted in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 22 million people — three-quarters of the population — in desperate need of aid and protection, according to the UN.

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    New technology tells us which animal bones were utilized to make ancient tools

    Animals played a crucial role in prehistoric societies. They gave food, raw material, and, often, at least 1.8 million years.

    In several parts of the world specific animals and the tools made from their bones were held by their makers to be and to exactly what level certain animals ‘symbolic value equated into other elements of society, such as innovation and tool manufacture. That’s because a lot of bone tools recovered from historical excavations are so pervasively customized that it is impossible to identify the type of animal from which they were made based upon physiological markers. Archaeologists might just assume that individuals made tools from the same animals they preyed on for food. We have actually utilized emerging technology to provide some responses. A current study by researchers in South Africa and the UK has recognized the animals used by people in the past to make bone arrowheads. Our findings recommend that only certain animals were used for tool manufacture. Others appear to have actually been

    deliberately prevented. For example, predators and bush pigs appear not to have actually been picked for tool manufacture regardless of their remains being discovered in historical websites. Their apparent avoidance may relate to cultural taboos. This is the first time a species-level recognition of bone tools has actually been carried out in southern Africa. Future research study might offer higher insight into how ancient people picked the raw material for their tools. This, in turn, might offer clues about the social, ideological and technological considerations that governed their choices and how these may have changed through time.Animal recognition We used an analytical method called Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry( ZooMS). This utilizes special collagen peptide markers(which are the amino acids that make up the organic part of bone)to differentiate between various groups of animals. It can often recognize bone tothe level of species.The results suggest that farmers utilized fewer species for tool manufacture than they searched for food. We also found that specific animal types were used for tools that didn’t appear to have been looked for food. We determined a narrow series of antelope from the bone tools from 9 archaeological websites from Gauteng and Limpopo. Of particular interest is the existence of sable, roan, zebra and rhino. Until now, we didn’t understand that these types’ bones were utilized to make tools in southern Africa. Sable and roan was very important sources of supernatural strength amongst the Bushmen.

    Their symbolic importance to early farmers idea that farmers utilized animals bones to manufacture tools.If we accept that rock art and the animals it depicted were believed to be imbued with supernatural powers, then it is conceivable that the tools made from their bones were seen in a comparable method.

    Some exemptions

    It’s beneficial noting which species do not appear to have actually been targeted for tool manufacture.

    There are various animals in the research study area whose bones are the appropriate size from which to make arrowheads. Yet, regardless of a vast array of animal stays discovered at the sites, just a portion were used to make bone arrowheads. The majority of the bone tools come from bovids. The two exceptions are zebra and rhinoceros. Why may this be?Carnivores ‘long bones, for circumstances, are mechanically ill-suited for impact-related tasks like arrows. That might describe why we didn’t find any bones coming from species like jackal, leopard or lion. But we’re uncertain the best ways to explain the lack of other types, such as pigs, whose bones share the very same broad mechanical homes as cows and antelopes and which are present at all the archaeological sites.The obvious avoidance of certain animals in bone tool manufacture may be comprehended in terms of their bones’ physical fitness for purpose: that is, could it perform the wanted job? It is clear that this was not their only consideration and that culturally-mediated technological techniques were likely an element too.

    Future instructions

    This research study took a look at just a little sample of bone tools from a small geographical location. There is clearly much more scope to enhance our understanding by broadening the study to consist of older contexts from other parts of southern Africa. This line of query has already begun to acquire traction in Europe and North Africa.


    New innovation will assist reduce the impact of SDG&E outages during wildfires

    SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – SDG&E will reveal brand-new technology and prepare for the upcoming peak fire season Wednesday, including a gadget that will help them decrease the impact of power interruptions throughout high wind days.

    “We paid attention to customers, we asked what they desired to see enhance, and we made enhancements based upon what they told us,” said SDG&E Spokeswoman Allison Torres.A substantial

    modification will be the method SDG&E manages preemptive power failures throughout high wind occasions. Instead of having to close down an entire circuit or line, the company can now shut off just a part of it.

    “A lot of our circuits, the way they work is their long circuits,” states Torres. “We were able to sectionalize them.”

    That suggests just clients in the best danger will have their power shut off.

    “We have actually set up extra weather condition stations to monitor and get real-time data, so we understand who’s experiencing the most extreme fire danger and greatest winds out there,” states Torres.In addition to the new innovation, SDG&E stated it plans to establish nine community centers that will be opened during emergency situations. Homeowners can go there if they lose power or to get info about the fire danger.SDG & E likewise restored its contract for an Aircrane helicopter to do water

    drops during fires. The company will have access to it for the rest of the year. Torres stated that was very important due to the fact that they have actually currently utilized the Aircrane more this year than in all of 2017, and peak fire season hasn’t even started yet.The company will offer more information on all this at a news conference Wednesday. Stay with 10News for the

    most current advancements.


    5 things for July 26: White House, Syria, Facebook, Toronto shooting, Mars

    (CNN)Ready to vacay way off the grid? These are the most remote places on Earth.Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get “5 Things You Need to Know Today” delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

    Hold your fire, everybody. The trade war with the European Union is on hold — for now. President Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reached an agreement, announced in the Rose Garden, to start work on eliminating trade barriers and tariffs. We don’t have many more details, but Trump called it a “very big day for free and fair trade.” At the very least, it seems the deal staves off Trump’s threat of a 25% tariff on European vehicles.
      The White House “dis-invited” CNN White House reporter Kaitlan Collins from the Rose Garden event because it said she asked “inappropriate” questions of Trump earlier in the day during an Oval Office photo op. Collins was working as the “pool” reporter on behalf of all TV networks, so the White House press corps is rallying behind her. “I’m from Alabama. I’m not rude,” she said later.

        White House bans CNN reporter from event

      Meanwhile, that controversial second meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin won’t be held this fall after all. It’ll be next year, “after the Russia witch hunt is over,” national security adviser John Bolton said. This second round of talks, set to be held in Washington and announced via Twitter, surprised and worried some national security officials. Even before the delay was announced, though, Moscow hadn’t officially accepted Trump’s invitation.

        Report: Putin’s soccer ball gift had transmitter chip

      2. Syria

      Scores of people were killed in a day of devastating attacks in southern Syria, and it looks like ISIS is to blame. At least 166 people died in a suicide bombing and attacks in Suwayda province. The suicide bombing struck a vegetable market, killing 38 and leaving behind a nightmarish mix of charred bodies and damaged vehicles. ISIS said its gunmen also attacked government targets and security positions, blowing themselves up with explosive vests after they ran out of ammunition. In recent weeks, Syrian forces backed by Russia have stepped up an offensive in the southern part of the country to rout out what’s left of ISIS in the area.

        Israeli military recounts rescue of White Helmets

      3. Facebook

      At first blush, it looked like Facebook had a pretty decent earnings report. The social media giant’s revenue was up 42% over the same period last year. So, why did its stock plummet 20%? Well, the revenue number was below Wall Street’s expectations (and you know how much they hate that). The company said it expects revenue growth to slow as it puts its users’ “privacy first” and rethinks its product experiences. Facebook said it will spend millions to improve security and safety after the data-sharing debacle, as well as to combat fake news and election meddling. 

        F8 recap: Zuckerberg addresses Facebook’s tumultuous year

      4. Toronto shooting

      Toronto’s still reeling after the deadly rampage that killed two people. Now, city council members there have voted overwhelmingly on a response: to push the Canadian government to ban the sale of handguns and the provincial government to ban handgun ammunition sales within the city. It’s been a violent year in Canada’s biggest city, with shootings and homicides both up over last year. Police are still searching for a motive in Sunday night’s shooting.

        Police: Multiple people shot outside restaurant

      5. Mars

      Ready to buy some lakefront property on Mars? Slow your roll on that. Yes, scientists say a lake of liquid water has been detected on the Red Planet, but it’s buried about a mile under Mars’ southern polar ice cap. Bummer. Still, it’s an amazing discovery: the first evidence of a stable body of water on the planet. Just like ice sheets on Earth, the polar ice caps on Mars change depending on the climate and act as a kind of archive for what’s happened in the past. So, scientists can learn more about Mars’ climate history by studying them.

        Why we care about water on Mars


      Deadline day
      Today is the deadline for the US government to reunite all of the eligible migrant families that it separated at the Mexican border. But we already know as many as 914 parents won’t be reunited with their children by today. A status report is due to be issued this afternoon. 

        Exclusive: Migrant moms beg judge for their children to be returned

      THIS JUST IN …

      Embassy explosion
      A man detonated a bomb on a street outside the US embassy in Beijing. There were no reports of injuries (other than the bomber slightly injuring one of his hands) or damage. Social media users posted videos of a large cloud of white smoke rising from the area around the embassy.

        Explosion occurs outside US Embassy in Beijing


      Helping hands
      While singer Demi Lovato recovers from her apparent overdose, fans online shared stories of #HowDemiHasHelpedMe.

        Demi Lovato hospitalized for apparent overdose

      Dream vacation
      It took a special wheelchair and community support, but an Alabama man finally realized his dream of taking a trip to the beach.

        Watch: special wheelchair gets man to the beach

      Eye can write
      Jonathan Bryan is 12 years old. He can’t speak or write because of physical disabilities. He also wrote a book, using just his eyes.
      ‘Big Chicken Shaq’
      Don’t know what to make for breakfast? Shaquille O’Neal might have you covered — with his new cooking show

        Shaq does the small hands challenge on ‘Ellen’

      Who needs Uber?
      In the future (or later this week, if you live in Chandler, Arizona), Walmart will chauffeur you to the store in self-driving cars.
      At the far end of town …
      The Lorax was one of Dr. Seuss’ greatest bits of fiction. Oh no, say scientists, who claim they’ve found the real thing in Africa.

        Lorax statue stolen from Seuss’ widow


      The percentage of LGBTQ workers in the US who haven’t come out at work, according to a survey from the Human Rights Campaign.

        93-year-old mom’s sign has become iconic


      Never say never
      What happens when a video editor with waaay too much time on his hands combines clips from 169 movies? An unreal version of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” (Click to view.)

      Read more:

      Tesla Marks the Latest High-Profile Bet for Saudi Wealth Fund

      Saudi Arabia’s purchase of a stake of about $2 billion in Tesla Inc. is only the latest high-profile investment by its sovereign wealth fund since 2016.

      The Public Investment Fund built up a less-than 5 percent stake in the electric carmaker in recent months, according to a person familiar with the matter, just as Elon Musk considers taking the company private. PIF’s move comes as it seeks to turn into a $2 trillion powerhouse and help diversify Saudi Arabia’s oil-dependent economy. Here’s a selection of PIF’s recent investments and holdings:

      Uber Technologies Inc.

      PIF invested $3.5 billion in U.S. ride-share company Uber Technologies Inc. in June 2016. PIF Managing Director Yasir Al-Rumayyan took a board seat at the San Francisco-based company after the deal, which valued Uber at $62.5 billion. At the time it was the biggest infusion of cash into Uber from a single investor.

      Virgin Group

      The fund announced plans in October 2017 to invest about $1 billion in Virgin Group’s space companies, Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Co. and Virgin Orbit. PIF also holds an option to invest an additional $480 million in Virgin’s space services. Saudi Arabia plans to support the ventures’ plans for human spaceflight and launching satellites into orbit and may cooperate with Virgin to create a space-centric entertainment industry in the country.

      Blackstone funds

      PIF agreed to commit $20 billion in May 2017 to an infrastructure investment fund with Blackstone Group LP, the world’s biggest private-equity manager. Blackstone plans to raise the same amount from other investors and with leverage, the New York-based asset manager expects to have more than $100 billion in purchasing power for infrastructure projects, primarily in the U.S.


      Saudi Arabia and SoftBank Group Corp. announced the first close of an almost $100 billion technology fund, the largest ever, in May 2017 secured from backers led by PIF and the Japanese company. PIF didn’t disclose the size of its investment, but Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said he might invest up to $45 billion in the fund over five years. Apple Inc., Qualcomm Inc., Foxconn Technology Group and Sharp Corp. also put in capital.

      Separately, PIF also owns stakes in some of Saudi Arabia’s biggest companies on behalf of the government:

      Saudi Basic Industries Corp., owns 70%

      Holds 70 percent of Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the world’s second-biggest chemicals maker by market value. It is now seeking to sell the 70 percent stake to oil company Saudi Aramco.

      Saudi Telecom Co., owns 70%

      Owns 70 percent of Saudi Telecom Co., the country’s biggest phone services provider. The company competes in the local market with a unit of U.A.E.’s Etisalat and Kuwait’s Zain.

      National Commercial Bank, owns 44%

      Holds 44.3 percent of National Commercial Bank, the country’s biggest lender.

      Saudi Arabian Mining Co., owns 65%

      Holds 65.4 percent of Saudi Arabian Mining Co., or Maaden, which has interests in low-grade bauxite, phosphate, aluminum and industrial minerals.

      Samba Financial Group, owns 23%

      Holds a 22.9 percent stake in Samba Financial Group, the country’s third-biggest bank. Citigroup Inc. sold its stake in Samba in 2004.

        Read more:

        Deutsche Bank Cuts Costs Again. Not Even Fruit Bowls Are Safe

        The list of perks at Deutsche Bank AG is shrinking fast.

        Investment bankers at Germany’s largest lender have been told to travel coach class on trains; fewer are able to attend conferences and some former employees said severance pay was less generous than previous handouts. Even small treats like the daily fruit bowls are disappearing.

        The frugal ethos described by half a dozen people with knowledge of the company’s policies reflects Chief Executive Officer Christian Sewing’s focus on saving after a series of botched turnaround efforts. The appointment of a new chief operating officer, Frank Kuhnke, as a direct report to Sewing is a signal that the CEO wants to have better control over processes and expenses. Kuhnke’s efficient yet blunt tactics have earned him the moniker ‘Frank the Tank,’ one person said.

        Sewing has been warning senior managers at the investment bank that if they can’t show they’re able to control expenses, he won’t trust them to be able to grow revenue either. Managers are being given fixed budgets that they must not exceed under any circumstances, said the people, asking not to be identified in discussing internal information.

        While a large part of the bank’s savings will come from a plan to lay off at least 7,000 people, Sewing is scrutinizing non-compensation expenses to change a culture where budget overruns were often seen as trivial, the people said. That’s especially true of the securities unit.

        ‘Negative Surprises’

        Sewing’s predecessor, John Cryan, had previously targeted more costly incentives like a NetJets account for top executives, but expenses still spiked in the fourth quarter of last year as the bank set aside hundreds of millions of euros for bonuses to stem defections. Cryan, who once said that he didn’t understand how “additional excess riches” drive people, later had to abandon a cost target, a decision widely seen as accelerating his ouster in April of this year.

        “Deutsche Bank has a history of negative surprises on costs in the fourth quarter, including last year,” Sewing said on an analyst call in late July. “That pattern ends in 2018.”

        A spokesman for Deutsche Bank declined to comment on the cost saving measures.

        Read more about Cryan’s efforts to cut costs here.

        Travel expenses are one focus of the cost cuts that are now being implemented. Investment bankers in London were scolded last year by the then-regional head of the unit, Alasdair Warren, for their profligate travel spending, one person said. The unit is also reviewing expenses for legal and compliance matters after comparing itself to other banks and finding it’s doing much worse.

        Internal processes have long been a focus of cost cuts at the lender, but the bank has struggled to simplify them. It said this month that internal reviews show its anti-money laundering processes remain too complex and there was a “need to improve in terms of internal processes.” Last year, the Federal Reserve designated the bank’s U.S. business as troubled and this year it failed the bank in its annual stress tests on qualitative grounds, citing “widespread and critical deficiencies” in its internal controls.

        ‘Frank the Tank’

        Kuhnke, the new COO, is taking a fresh look at processes and has already implemented projects — for example getting so-called know-your-customer documentation — that other managers previously failed to carry out. Deutsche Bank is also aiming to accelerate cost savings from the merger of its two German retail units, and it’s focusing on eliminating duplication in back-office functions and computer systems at its German headquarters.

        The bank has also been closing its office in Houston and shrinking the office in Chicago. Previous plans by DWS, the bank’s asset management business, to move to a new Frankfurt office were abandoned amid a stronger focus on costs.

        Cutting compensation expenses, however, won’t be easy. The CEO has promised shareholders that Deutsche Bank’s headcount will fall “well below” 90,000 by the end of next year and he would actually like to get the figure below 87,000, according to two people briefed on his thinking. But an agreement with labor unions prevents Deutsche Bank from firing domestic employees against their will until mid-2021.

        Bonus cuts won’t be easy either. The bank has signaled it won’t be skimpy on pay, at least not for its top performers. Compensation expenses in the investment bank actually rose in the second quarter despite a lower headcount as the bank continued to set aside money for future bonus payments.

        Deutsche Bank’s costs “remain stubbornly high as the group has to make up for a lack of investment in previous years, and German cost reduction is limited by union agreements,” Amit Goel, an analyst at Barclays Plc, wrote in a note.

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