If you’re looking to catch up on summer reading, there are plenty of deals through Amazon’s Prime Day to help keep you busy with books for the rest of the season. Prime Day 2019 began this morning and lasts for a full 48 hours, so Prime Members have until the end of the day Tuesday to stock up on everything from a discounted Audible subscription to a number of popular books available on Kindle. Here, the best deals for readers on Amazon Prime Day 2019.
For reading on the go, whether on your commute or even through a smart speaker, the audiobook subscription service Audible makes it easy to listen to books. The monthly rate is typically $14.95, but when members sign up on Prime Day they can get Audible for $4.95 a month for the first three months. A subscription includes three titles each month. There are plenty of celebrated audiobooks available through the service, including Michelle Obama’s Becoming, Tara Westover’s Educatedand Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing.
Several different models of Amazon’s Kindle are on sale through Amazon Prime Day. For readers looking to take their books to the beach or pool, the Paperwhite is a waterproof eReader that stores between 8GB and 32GB and is discounted starting at $84.99 (originally $129.99). Similarly, the newest model of the basic Kindle is being sold for $59.99, a markdown from $89.99. The purchases of either Kindle come with a $5 eBook credit, which can be used for many books available on Amazon, from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Less by Andrew Sean Greer to the bestseller CIRCE by Madeline Miller.
Another digital subscription service is being offered at a massive discount on Amazon Prime Day. Kindle Unlimited allows readers access to over one million titles on any device through the Kindle App. Prime members can take advantage of a three-month deal for $0.00 that gives them access to magazines as well as several book series like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter. The Kindle Unlimited deal extends beyond Prime Day as members have until July 31 to sign up. After the first three months, Kindle Unlimited renews at $9.99 per month.
Amazon Prime Book Box
There is an opportunity specific to young readers on Prime Day, too. With Amazon Prime Book Box, a box of children’s books — either four board books or two hardcover books — is typically delivered as a set for $19.99. Members are able to choose how often to receive the Book Box (every one, two or three months). There are four different age groups for the boxes and the books inside are always up to 35% off their list price. But on Amazon Prime Day, members new to the subscription service are able to get their first box at a 30% discount for $13.99.
China announced its lowest GDP growth numbers since 1992 on Monday, as the ongoing trade war between the world’s two largest economies continues to take its toll.
The country’s GDP grew 6.2% for the quarter ending in June, down from 6.4% the previous quarter, according to government figures cited by CNN.
The U.S. and China are still far from resolving their punishing trade war. Although U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s leader Xi Jinping agreed on a truce during the G20 Summit in late June, they are no closer to agreeing on key issues like IP infringement, and some experts believe the trade war is far from over.
“Uncertainty caused by the U.S.-China trade war was an important factor and we think this will persist,” Tom Rafferty, principal economist, China at the Economist Intelligence Unit, told CNN. “Businesses remain skeptical that the two countries will reach a broader trade agreement and recognize that trade tensions may escalate again.”
Just weeks after the agreement, Trump accused China of not buying enough agricultural products from the U.S.
(WASHINGTON) — American Airlines said Sunday that it will keep the Boeing 737 Max plane off its schedule until Nov. 3, which is two months longer than it had planned.
In a statement, American said the action will result in the cancellation of about 115 flights per day. It said it “remains confident” that the Boeing plane will be recertified this year. But some airline executives are growing doubtful about that timetable.
United Airlines announced Friday that it was extending its cancellations until Nov. 3, a month longer than it had planned.
United has 14 Max jets while American has 24 of them. Southwest Airlines, which has 34 Max jets — more than any other carrier — is canceling about 150 flights per day.
The plane was grounded in March following two deadly crashes.
The announcement Sunday marked the fifth time that American Airlines has pushed back the expected time that the Max would resume flying.
“American Airlines remains confident that impending software updates to the Boeing 737 Max, along with the new training elements Boeing is developing in coordination with our union partners, will lead to recertification of the aircraft this year,” the airline said.
In its previous announcement of further flight cancellations last month, American Airlines had said it had expected the recertification to be accomplished “soon.”
In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Airlines, said, “I expect it’s going to take longer than people expect” before the Max is certified to fly again. He said he could not venture a guess as to when that might occur.
The Federal Aviation Administration has said it is following a thorough process but has no timetable for when the recertification will be completed.
The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that fixing the 737 Max’s faulty flight-control software and completing other steps to start carrying passengers will likely stretch into 2020.
Unnamed officials at the FAA and pilot-union leaders were quoted as saying that no firm timeline has been established but one scenario anticipates the plane could return to the air in January 2020.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission approved a record privacy settlement against Facebook requiring the social media company to pay about $5 billion to resolve an investigation stemming from the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.
The FTC’s settlement was approved by a vote of 3-2, according to two people familiar with the matter. It caps a probe that opened in March 2018 after news that Cambridge Analytica, a consulting firm hired by President Donald Trump’s campaign, obtained user data from a researcher who created a personality quiz app on the social network.
The FTC’s settlement, the largest privacy fine in the agency’s history, marks the most significant action yet against Facebook over a series of mishaps that have compromised users’ data and sent the company reeling from one crisis to another. The mishandling of data has spurred efforts in Washington to pass legislation to better protect the personal information collected by the nation’s technology firms before a window closes ahead of the 2020 presidential campaign.
As the probe dragged on, FTC Chairman Joe Simons came under increasing pressure from lawmakers and privacy advocates to craft a tough settlement that would protect users’ privacy. The deal is likely to leave many critics of the company unsatisfied given the agency’s two Democratic commissioners, Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Rohit Chopra, voted against it.
Facebook declined to comment.
While the FTC settlement removes a major burden weighing on the company, Facebook is still grappling with regulatory scrutiny on a host of other fronts. European Union officials are pursuing multiple data-protection investigations, while U.K. antitrust authorities are examining the company’s dominance in digital advertising.
In the U.S., the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission opened investigations related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook declined to comment on the status of those probes. Separately, the attorney general for Washington, D.C., has sued the company, claiming it failed to safeguard users’ data. Other state attorneys general are also investigating.
The FTC is poised to continue scrutiny of Facebook. As part of a broad agreement with the Justice Department dividing oversight of four of the biggest tech companies, the agency will take responsibility for a potential antitrust investigation into Facebook. One area of focus is likely to be the company’s acquisitions of Instagram and Whatsapp.
The settlement ranks among the highest at the FTC, which reached a $10 billion settlement with Volkswagen AG in 2016 for deceptive advertising in the emission-cheating scandal involving diesel models. The agency’s previous record fine in a privacy action came in 2012, when Alphabet Inc.’s Google paid $22.5 million to settle claims it misrepresented its privacy assurances to Apple Inc.’s Safari users.
The FTC can only impose fines on companies that have previously agreed to settle claims with the agency under consent decrees, but not on first-time offenders. The agency has lobbied for greater authority to penalize wrongdoers in privacy cases, though some have questioned whether it was up to the job of taking advantage of the limited power it has now.
The commission’s 2011 consent decree with Facebook addressed a litany of deceptive practices by the social-media company. Facebook, for example, allowed profile information — photos, education, place of employment — that a user chose to restrict to “Only Friends” or “Friends of Friends” to be accessible to apps that the person’s friends used. Facebook also promised users that it wouldn’t share personal information about them with advertisers when in fact the company identified to advertisers the users who clicked on their ads or to whom ads were targeted.
Under the 2011 settlement, Facebook was required to implement a privacy program, obtain express consent from users before making changes that override privacy preferences, and undergo regular privacy audits.
The Cambridge Analytica incident stems from a personality-quiz app offered to Facebook users by a Cambridge University researcher. About 270,000 people downloaded the app, allowing the researcher to access data about both those individuals and their friends. The information was subsequently sold to Cambridge Analytica.
Facebook has said the researchers obtained users’ data with their consent and sold the information to Cambridge Analytica in violation of Facebook’s policies.
(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.”
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.
Conrad Wu is a serial entrepreneur. He rarely takes a day off or a vacation. His days and nights are spent working on a transportation app he started in 2013, a car washing service app he co-founded in 2015, and brainstorming ideas for new businesses.
What little spare time the 38-year-old has is often spent driving for Uber in Hong Kong, where he was born and lives. He has a daughter and an ailing mother at home, whose medical bills he helps pay.
Despite the financial pressures of supporting a family while starting a business, Wu didn’t hesitate to put his company, Call4Van, on strike last month to protest against a now suspended extradition bill. The proposed law would have, for the first time, allowed suspected criminals to be sent to the mainland to face trial under China’s opaque and arbitrary legal system. Extradition could have been sought for anyone accused of one of 37 categories of crime—and not just locals. Expatriates working in the city, even executives simply transiting through its airport, could find themselves detained.
Call4Van was one of more than 100 companies in Hong Kong that went on strike in June to “defend freedom,” as Wu put it. Others included coffee shops and retail stores.
“Losing money in a short period of time is minuscule considering the potential impact of the law if it gets passed,” Wu told TIME. “Local businesses, and even the entire economy, would be badly impacted.”
The Hong Kong protesters flooding the city over the past month have grabbed international headlines. Many of those crowding the streets are young student activists. But the extradition law has galvanized opposition from all sectors of society. Elderly men and women in wheelchairs were pushed along the routes of several marches, moving alongside parents who brought young children with them. Teachers, religious groups, and stay-at-home moms joined in the demonstrations—as have lawyers, bankers, business owners and other professionals in an impressive show of unity.
Dickson, a Hong Kong banker, was among those fighting against the proposed legislation. He could see protesters gathering a few weeks ago from the window of his office building, which houses several hedge funds and banks, in Hong Kong’s financial district. He might have looked slightly out of place joining the protests in a business shirt and slacks, but that didn’t stop him.
“I went down during lunchtime for about two hours. I really wanted to get out there, but it was a work day,” Dickson, 30, told TIME about a weekday protest he took part in recently. Several of his colleagues spent their lunch breaks protesting too. “I can only imagine the impact if it’s passed. A lot of clients might start banking in and bankers might move to Singapore.” (Several of Hong Kong’s tycoons have already started moving money overseas, according to Reuters.)
Kay, a 32-year-old investment banker at a large international bank, has joined every protest she can—although she has grueling work hours and is often stuck in the office too late to join a rally. But she’s found other ways to express her views. Using skills honed in her corporate job, she helped write the ads that activists took out in international newspapers ahead of the G20 Summit in late June to bring attention to their plight. She’s also been involved in a few fundraising campaigns.
“All I can say is it affects everyone—and if something affects everyone it will affect business,” Kay explains.
The former British colony was built on business. From its notorious, 19th century beginnings as a opium port, trade transformed Hong Kong into a city of taipans, as business magnates are called. Today, Hong Kong is a mecca for dealmakers, who flock to the financial hub from around the world for jobs and business opportunities. Business savviness runs deep in the veins of Hongkongers, who are obsessive players of stocks and real estate. Innumerable skyscrapers bearing the logos of large multinational corporations shine and sparkle across the city’s impressive skyline.
Although it was retroceded to China in 1997, Hong Kong was promised a high degree of autonomy, and its independent judiciary and strong rule of law are important driving factors for the enclave’s ranking as the number one jurisdiction in the world for economic freedom, and the third most competitive financial center in the world, after New York and London. Its stock market overtook Japan’s to become the world’s third most valuable in the world in April.
Residents therefore have good reason to be worried about Beijing’s encroachment—especially the threat of extradition. The Hong Kong government excluded political offenses from the list of extraditable crimes, but nobody in Hong Kong was mollified because Beijing notoriously uses trumped up criminal charges—such as “picking quarrels and provoking trouble“—to silence dissenters.
“People are concerned about whether it means opening gaps in the wall between the mainland Chinese legal system and the Hong Kong legal system” Kevin Yam, a financial regulatory lawyer based in Hong Kong, told TIME.
‘Hong Kong will lose some of its appeal’
Facing widespread opposition and some of the largest protests the city has ever seen, Hong Kong’s top official, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, suspended the extradition bill on June 15.
So far, the debacle over the legislation and the ensuing protests have inflicted minimal damage on businesses in the city. “The day-to-day impact on businesses is very much business continuity, accessibility to their offices,” Grant Strudwick, vice president at risk management firm Pinkerton, told TIME. But companies “are starting to review their longer-term outlook.”
Although Lam says the bill is “dead,” she has not formally withdrawn it. Many believe its revival at some later stage would spell disaster for Hong Kong’s economy.
“Hong Kong will lose some of its appeal—for mainland Chinese people trying to put some assets off shore, for foreign people and companies setting up shop in Hong Kong, and for local Hong Kong people and businesses,” Will Denyer, an economist at Hong Kong-based Gavekal Research, tells TIME. He says implementation of the bill could disrupt everything from international trade and investment to technology sharing.
The entrepôt has historically played an important role in China’s development by serving as a gateway between China and the rest of the world, with goods and capital flowing through. Admittedly, that importance has declined—in the mid-1990s, Hong Kong’s economy accounted for just under a third of China’s GDP compared to less than 3% today—but a huge portion of the foreign direct investment into China is still funneled through Hong Kong.
The city’s developed financial markets are used by the mainland as a testing ground for products to open its own—like the Shanghai and Bond Connect programs, which have launched in the last few years. Hong Kong also acts as a hub for internationalization of China’s currency, the renminbi. Even more importantly, Hong Kong’s own stock market, widely traded into by foreign investors, is a vital portal through which mainland companies can raise capital. At the end of 2018, 1,146 mainland companies were listed in Hong Kong, with market capitalization of $2.6 trillion. Shanghai doesn’t compare. Although the Chinese government set a 2020 deadline to make Shanghai a global financial center, capital controls and over-regulation have stymied its appeal.
As a finance, transportation, trade and aviation hub, China’s wayward enclave is meanwhile earmarked for a lynch pin role in the economic development of the co-called “Greater Bay Area”—an investment and infrastructural zone of 11 cities that Beijing hopes will rival Silicon Valley. And Hong Kong’s stock exchange may be more important than ever for China if the trade war between the U.S. and China can’t be resolved by further talks.
“The reality is that Hong Kong has been seen as a backup to New York as a place for Chinese companies to list if the trade war escalates,” regulatory lawyer Yam says.
Anecdotal evidence supports the theory that mainland companies may be growing wary of U.S. listings. It is widely reported that tech-giant Alibaba, the largest Chinese company listed in the U.S., is considering a secondary listing in Hong Kong, and China’s largest semiconductor manufacturer recently announced its delisting from the New York Stock exchange, although it cited low trading volumes and high costs of maintaining the listing.
“Tariffs can only go so far,” David Webb, a former investment banker who now runs a financial and corporate governance analysis website, told TIME. Trump “could quite reasonably argue that if the mainland government is subsidizing and protecting its state-controlled enterprises, then why is it that we’ve got American money invested in them?”
In fact, the U.S. government is already taking steps to tighten control over Chinese companies listed on U.S. exchanges. In early June, a U.S Congressional committee introduced a bill that would subject Chinese companies listed in the U.S. to more stringent financial reporting requirements. Beijing has challenged U.S. reporting requirements for its companies in the past, citing national security. But if the bill becomes law, companies who do not comply will be forced to de-list.
There’s a lot of money at stake. At the end of 2018, 156 Chinese companies (at least 11 of those are state-owned enterprises) were listed on major U.S. exchanges with a total market capitalization of $1.2 trillion. If Chinese companies face obstacles listing in the U.S., they may need Hong Kong’s stock market.
That’s assuming, of course, that Beijing will continue to prioritize economic gain over politics. Some observers think it won’t. President Xi Jinping’s obsession with national unity is so strong, Webb suggests, that he will curtail Hong Kong’s freedoms if he needs to—”even if that means losing international recognition for Hong Kong as a separate jurisdiction.”
For the activists—and bankers—on the ground, that possibility makes Hong Kong’s struggle for greater freedoms even more pressing. “It’s not a fight about money,” says investment banker Kay. “It’s a fight about values and ideology.”
Racing fans, the stereotype goes, tend to be “petrolheads” — people who love the ferocious growl of an internal-combustion engine, the unmistakeable smell of burning fuel and oil, and the adrenaline jolt from a nearly-1,000-horsepower car roaring past a thrilled crowd. Formula E, an upstart electric racing championship whose fifth season ends with a double-header championship in Brooklyn on July 13-14, has none of these things. But despite the naysayers, it’s building a loyal fanbase anyway.
That’s good news even if all you know about professional racing is that winners of the Indianapolis 500 chug milk for some godforsaken reason. In the automotive world, racing has long driven technological advancements, with developments for success on the track finding their way into cars that you or I could pop into a dealership and buy for ourselves. That’s holding true for electric racing, too. Automakers from BMW to Nissan say that innovations and insights they have developed from Formula E racing has gone on to improve their everyday electric vehicles, or EVs. That’s a smart move for car companies, as they’re under increasing pressure to adapt to an electrified world. And as the world grapples with a changing climate, any developments that result in better, more viable electric cars, while they won’t be a silver bullet, are more than welcome.
That tech pipeline is “a real focal point” for Audi, says Allan McNish, Audi Sport’s Formula E team principal and a three-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a grueling endurance race. “The racing department sits directly underneath the technical development department, and so therefore there is always the very close hand-in-hand relationship between what we do on the track and what actually comes on the road,” he adds.
It’s a similar story at BMW. When the Munich-based automaker joined Formula E this season, it turned to the teams behind the i3 and i8 electric cars for their insight. Now, with their first season largely behind them, those same specialists are turning around and applying what they’ve learned on the track to BMW’s consumer EVs. “This expertise they have gained through racing actually goes straight back into the next project they have, and they are now working on the fifth generation of electric powertrains for BMW,” says BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “So we closed the circle completely.”
Formula E’s rules are purposefully designed to ensure teams focus on pushing electric vehicle technology forward, rather than mucking about with cars’ aerodynamics. Every team drives the same car, using the same battery. They can, however, modify elements of the drivetrain, meaning a team’s competitive advantage comes from getting the best possible performance from an electric system.
“A common view of all of the people involved in Formula E is, we want to focus on the electric drivetrain, we don’t want to focus on whether we can get a tad more aero downforce on the car than the next team, or whether maybe we can squeeze a little more out of the battery,” says McNish. “With this category, today, we want to promote our electric technology, and therefore that limits us to the electric motor — the drivetrain — and we can still make a difference.”
Electric cars, with their instant torque and sometimes comically absurd acceleration, are undeniably fun to drive. But they suffer from a drawback that limits their viability for some: it often takes a lot longer to charge an EV than refill a gas tank (partial charges can be faster for some EVs, though experiments with battery-swapping have largely fizzled out). Many electric cars have more than enough range to get a suburban driver from home to work and back again for an overnight recharge. But longer drives, like road trips, can be a challenge. That might dissuade would-be electric vehicle owners from making the jump.
A version of that problem presents itself in Formula E racing. Teams aren’t allowed to charge or replace their battery mid-race, another clever rule that helps drive innovation. As a result, success in Formula E largely depends on wise energy management. Because there’s no quick top-off waiting for drivers at a pit stop, they have to constantly consider their remaining energy levels when they’re thinking about attacking for the lead, or defending their position in the front of the pack. So for Formula E teams, figuring out a way to optimize their energy efficiency can give them a competitive advantage over their rivals. That kind of innovation can make its way into road cars, increasing their efficiency and making them a more compelling alternative to their gasoline counterparts.
“The focus of Formula E is efficiency, and deriving the maximum efficiency out of your powertrain system,” says Nissan Global Motorsports Director Michael Carcamo, who adds that Nissan’s Formula E car has computer code governing battery efficiency that was borrowed from the LEAF, the company’s popular street EV. And while the company is using the software “in a completely different way” during a race, Formula E “helps us understand the limits” of the code, he says. “How to maximize energy management is one of the things we’ve learned,” says Carcamo.
The early success of Formula E — 300,000 fans came to races in 2018, up by 100,000 from the previous season, while 330 million people tuned in on TV and more than 550 million watched video online — has undoubtedly rocked the racing world, where many a gas-guzzling traditionalist has shunned the upstart alternative competition as an inferior knockoff that isn’t as fast, isn’t as loud, isn’t as fun. But in going to a Formula E race, where high-performance, sci-fi-looking electric cars scream past the crowd with a demonic whir that sounds like a pack of Star Wars TIE Fighters hunting down Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon, you can’t help but feel like EVs are at least part of motorsports’ future. And if Formula E can help drive EV development at a time when it’s increasingly clear we need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, so much the better.