A Ford-Volkswagen alliance with Argo could redraw self-driving sector

An expanded alliance between Ford Motor Co and Volkswagen AG that includes a partnership in Ford self-driving unit Argo AI could redraw the balance of power in autonomous vehicles.

After Trade War Truce, Trump Accuses China of Not Buying Enough U.S. Farm Products

(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump on Thursday accused China of “letting us down” by not promptly buying more U.S. farm products.

“They have not been buying the agricultural products from our great Farmers that they said they would,” the president said on Twitter. “Hopefully, they will start soon.”

After meeting with President Xi Jinping late last month, Trump said China had agreed to buy more U.S. agricultural products as part of a cease-fire in the two countries’ trade war. The truce suspended U.S. plans to impose tariffs on an additional $300 billion in Chinese goods — action that would have extended the taxes to everything China ships to America.

The United States and China are sparring over the Trump administration’s allegations that Beijing is using predatory tactics — including stealing sensitive technology and forcing U.S. firms to hand over trade secrets — to try to supplant American technological supremacy.

Trump has imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports. Beijing has counterpunched by taxing $110 billion in U.S. goods, specifically targeting U.S. farm products produced by many Trump supporters in the U.S. heartland. The administration has rolled out $27 billion in aid to farmers to ease the pain.

Trump and Xi agreed to restart negotiations that had broken down in May after 11 rounds of talks. So far, the two countries’ top envoys have spoken by phone but haven’t announced plans to resume face-to-face talks.

In addition to opposing sharp-elbowed Chinese tech policies, the United States wants Beijing to buy more U.S. products and to narrow America’s trade deficit with China — a record $381 billion last year.

Last month, a former Chinese diplomat, Zhao Weiping, told reporters in New York that the United States was asking “us to purchase more than we can buy.” He added, “You have to be realistic.” Still, Larry Kudlow, director of Trump’s National Economic Council, said Thursday that “our side expects China very soon to start purchasing American agriculture commodities, crops, goods and services.”

Twitter will start testing its ‘hide replies’ feature next week, in Canada

Twitter users are getting more control over which comments are visible in the conversations they start.

The company has been testing and talking about this feature since earlier this year, but starting next week, Twitter will actually roll it out to users in Canada.

As you can see in the GIF below, when you’re looking at replies to your tweets, you’ll be able select any of them and hit the “hide reply” option. However, as the name implies, these posts won’t be fully removed from Twitter, just hidden from the default view — everyone will still be able to tap on a gray icon to view hidden replies.

Here’s how Twitter’s Michelle Yasmeen Haq and Brittany Forks explain the feature:

Everyday, people start important conversations on Twitter, from #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter, to discussions around #NBAFinals or their favorite television shows. These conversations bring people together to debate, learn, and laugh. That said we know that distracting, irrelevant, and offensive replies can derail the discussions that people want to have. We believe people should have some control over the conversations they start.

Twitter Hide Replies

As my colleague Sarah Perez noted previously, the current implementation is open to at least two criticisms — one, that it could allow users to hide critical viewpoints or fact-checking of their tweets (maybe quote-tweeting will be the better strategy moving forward), and two, that it still forces people to wade through potentially trollish or hateful content in order to hide replies.

Haq and Forks emphasize that Twitter is still looking for ways to improve the feature: “By testing in one country we want to get feedback and better understand how this tool can improve before it’s available globally.”

And yes, the timing of the news is a little awkward, coming right after Twitter went down for about an hour.

Trump Administration Threatens to Extend Trade War to France Over 3% Tax on Big Tech Companies

The Trump Administration is threatening the extend its trade war to France as the country prepares to hit big tech companies––many of them American––with a new tax.

A 3% levy on tech giants was approved by the French Senate on Thursday, despite it upsetting the U.S., which has announced it has launched an inquiry into the law.

“The United States is very concerned that the digital services tax which is expected to pass the French Senate tomorrow unfairly targets American companies,” said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in a statement.

“The President has directed that we investigate the effects of this legislation and determine whether it is discriminatory or unreasonable and burdens or restricts United States commerce.”

Any digital company with revenue over €750 million (about $850 million)––of which €25 million is generated in France––will be subjected to the 3% levy, which will be based on total revenue generated in the country, rather than profits.

France is the first country in Europe to introduce this kind of tax. It would hit about 30 companies, including Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. It will also apply to companies from China, Germany, Spain and the U.K. and one French company.

Global tech companies have been accused of avoiding tax by shifting profits to countries with very low taxes, where they have headquarters, rather than where they make their sales.

“We must act against the perverse effects of a regulatory and fiscal framework that allow digital giants to grow without any limits and without any control,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said when he introduced the bill earlier this year.

The tax faced criticism from tech executives, who said it would damage French President Emmanuel Macron’s attempt to transform the country into a “start-up nation.”

“It’s quite possible that there will be heightened trade tensions between the U.S. and France as the Americans view the digital tax as unfairly targeting U.S. tech companies which falls afoul of ‘America First,’ the doctrine that guides U.S. economic policy,” Linda Yueh, an adjunct professor of economics at the London Business School, said in an email.

But, she added, other countries are already looking at new taxes on big tech companies. “France is unlikely to be alone,” Yueh said.

The tax will be retrospectively applied from early 2019, raising around €400m ($450m) for the French government this year.

NHC issues hurricane warning Louisiana coast ahead of storm Barry

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) on Thursday issued a hurricane warning for Tropical Storm Barry for the Louisiana coast from Intracoastal City to Grand Isle.

Britain says it fended off Iranian attempt to block oil tanker

Three Iranian vessels tried to block a British-owned tanker passing through the strait that controls the flow of Middle East oil to the world, but backed off when confronted by a Royal Navy warship, Britain said on Thursday.