Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday's Rubble

I must confess to being surprised that the draft pick (a closely guarded secret) didn't make the front page

First from the blitz:

Britain voted to leave the European Union last year, or don't you remember

"May offers plan for Europeans to stay in Britain after Brexit" by James Kanter New York Times   June 22, 2017

Got a fire under her.

BRUSSELS — Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, the body that organizes summit meetings, invoked the John Lennon song “Imagine” in discussing his hopes for a change of heart.

“Some of my British friends have even asked me whether Brexit could be reversed, and whether I could imagine an outcome where the UK stays part of the EU,” Tusk told reporters. “I told them that, in fact, the European Union was built on dreams that seemed impossible to achieve. So, who knows? You may say I’m a dreamer, but I am not the only one.”

Yes, they “dream about changing the world,” and were I not so insulted I'd answer that knock on the door (checking video first, though).

Does he know what Lennon would think of his blocs participation in the wars?


If you happened to answer the the bell:

"The FCC alleged that Adrian Abramovich, of Miami, ran a robocall operation that made 96 million calls over three months last year. The calls would offer fake travel and vacation deals, using TripAdvisor’s name, in an attempt to fleece consumers, the FCC said....."

Same as that Israeli kid.

As long as it doesn't effect the tennis:

"Strawberries, a treat eaten every year at the Wimbledon tennis championships, could cost Britons a lot more if Brexit leaves farms without enough seasonal workers from overseas. And there are signs labor shortages are already emerging. Strawberry and raspberry prices will jump 35 percent to 50 percent if British growers lose access to summer workers, almost all of whom come from other European Union nations, according to a report commissioned by industry group British Summer Fruits. That would cut UK fruit output and mean imports would be needed to make up for the shortfall. That may be a sooner-than-expected problem. In May, labor providers found it harder to supply fruit and vegetable growers with foreign workers."

In any event, it's an excuse to raise prices.

They take bitcoins?

"Blockchain, the London-based bitcoin currency service provider, has raised $40 million of new funding, representing one of the largest investment rounds in the financial technology sector since Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. New investors in the company, which provides technology such as virtual bitcoin wallets and analytical tools for the digital currency’s underlying system, include Google’s GV, which led the funding with Lakestar. Existing investors, including Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sir Richard Branson, provided new financing. Bitcoin, and the blockchain system that powers it, is one of several virtual currencies and the value of one bitcoin skyrocketed more than 300 percent in the last year."

It's called cooption. They are never going to let you print your own money, even virtually. Going to turn it into another number on the Wall $treet wheel.


"French president proposes expansion of his counterterrorism powers" by James McAuley and Michael Birnbaum Washington Post  June 22, 2017

PARIS — President Emmanuel Macron’s government on Thursday proposed a significant expansion of the authorities’ powers to fight terrorism, alarming civil liberties advocates even as defenders said the plans would help keep France’s citizens safe.

The proposal follows a series of attempted terror strikes in Paris and Brussels in recent weeks and several bloody attacks in Britain claimed by Islamic State-inspired militants. Those have prompted European leaders to search for new strategies to combat terrorism.

Before Macron’s election last month, he said he would seek new approaches. But he also cast himself as a friend of the Muslim world and said that France’s 132-year colonization of Algeria involved ‘‘crimes against humanity.’’ His far-right opponent, Marine Le Pen, sought to paint him as weak on Islamist violence.

What about today's war crimes, you know, the ones you can do something about? 

Oh, right, French guilty of them, too.

The changes proposed Thursday would wind down a state of emergency that gave security officials broad powers after the November 2015 Paris attacks, which claimed 130 lives. Some of those powers would be made permanent, including the ability to temporarily shutter places of worship that promote extremism and to conduct searches with fewer restrictions.

The draft plan would also strip some oversight powers from judges and give security officials more latitude to act without judicial review.

‘‘I think we have achieved a good balance,’’ Interior Minister Gérard Collomb told reporters after a meeting of the Cabinet during which he proposed the law. ‘‘The aim is to put an end to the state of emergency.’’

End it by adopting it, wow. French sure are some smooth talkers.

Both Macron and his predecessor, François Hollande, have sought to end the state of emergency, which has been extended several times since the Paris attacks. It is due to expire July 15, although Macron has asked for it to be prolonged until November. Both Hollande and Macron feared the political blowback if they ended the state of emergency only to face another terror strike, analysts say.

The threat was underlined Monday, when a 31-year-old man rammed a car packed with explosives and guns into a police van on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. He died in the attack, but no one else was injured.

Any crisis drills scheduled for today?

Critics of the emergency powers say they have been applied indiscriminately. Even some analysts who say expanded powers could be useful in disrupting terror plots say the efficacy wears off as militants develop new tactics.

‘‘Emergency powers are effective because they are unusual,’’ said François Heisbourg, an analyst at the Foundation for Strategic Research. ‘‘If you make them usual, they cease to be effective.’’




"Louis Vuitton is working to open a factory in the United States as demand for its iconic canvas-and-leather handbags continues to rise. The LVMH-owned brand is also likely to add an additional production site in France, and could expand its workshop in Portugal, chief executive Michael Burke said. LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault first floated the possibility of a Louis Vuitton factory in the the Carolinas or Texas during a January visit to New York to meet with then President-elect Trump. Global demand for luxury goods is bouncing back faster than expected after economic uncertainty in China and a terror-related slump in European sales had stymied growth for high-end brands during several years."

That's the price of pushing the propaganda agenda, $orry, even in a world for luxury.

Also see: 

"Newton police are looking for two women who stole an estimated $12,000 worth of pocketbooks from the Bloomingdale’s store at the Chestnut Hill Mall and then sped off on Route 9 by running a red light, police said. The women were captured on surveillance cameras as they walked out of the store Monday and as they ran to an SUV parked in the lot of the mall, said Newton Police Lieutenant Bruce Apotheker, a department spokesman. He said once the women got into the SUV, they drove out of the lot quickly, narrowly missing another vehicle in the lot. At the mall exit, the women drove through a red light, cutting in front of westbound traffic on Route 9 before turning east on the busy road. The SUV, with the Massachusetts license plate of 16CW, had been reported stolen, police said....."


"Former State Department Security Officer Accused of Spying for China" New York Times News Service  June 23, 2017

WASHINGTON — A former State Department diplomatic security officer and military contractor was charged with conducting espionage for China after FBI agents found top-secret documents and apparently incriminating messages on a communications device he brought back from Shanghai, the Justice Department said Thursday.

Kevin Patrick Mallory, 60, of Leesburg, Va., made his initial appearance in US District Court in Alexandria, the department said.

“The conduct alleged in this complaint is serious, and these charges should send a message to anyone who would consider violating the public’s trust and compromising our national security by disclosing classified information,” Dana J. Boente, acting assistant attorney general for national security and US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement.

Whatever happened to that loser, anyway?

Geremy C. Kamens, a federal public defender identified on the docket as representing Mallory, did not respond to an e-mail inquiry.

Mallory left the government in 2012 and was working as a self-employed consultant when he was arrested, according to an FBI complaint.

In April, it said, Mallory was returning from a trip to Shanghai when a Customs and Border Protection search of his carry-on luggage revealed that he was bringing $16,500 in undeclared cash into the United States.

In a subsequent FBI interview, the complaint said, Mallory said he had met an unnamed person at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, a think tank that the US government believes acts as a cutout for the Chinese intelligence service.

Same thing over here.


China's military on the move?

"Tesla is in talks to set up a car factory in China" by Carlos Tejada New York Times  June 23, 2017

HONG KONG — In a statement Thursday, Tesla Motors said it needed to set up more overseas factories to make cars that customers could afford. Such a strategy is a must in China, which charges steep tariffs for imported cars.

Well, he did quit Trump's tech council. Probably didn't want to get tweet-bombed.

“To better serve the Chinese market, Tesla is in the process of discussing about the possibility of setting up factory locally with the Shanghai government,” a spokeswoman, Duan Zhengzheng, said in a statement.  “Tesla has always been devoted to cultivating the Chinese market,” she said. China accounted for about 15 percent of Tesla’s revenue last year.

Tesla’s negotiations do not guarantee that a plant will be built. Under Chinese law, such a project would require Tesla to find a Chinese joint-venture partner. While China is full of Chevrolets, Fords, and Volkswagens, most are made in factories jointly owned by a foreign automaker and a local company.

Shanghai controls SAIC Motor Corp., one of China’s largest automakers and a partner for General Motors and Volkswagen. It was not clear whether Tesla’s negotiations with the city government would steer the company to negotiate with SAIC. Calls to the Chinese automaker were not returned.

A Chinese Tesla factory could represent a big symbolic victory for Beijing. Spurred by incessant pollution and increasing dependence on foreign oil, China for the past several years has pushed to be a leader in electric car development.

Sounds like a country we all know and love, 'eh, Americans?

That has raised concern in Western countries. In March, the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China complained that Chinese law requires manufacturers who set up shop in China to transfer crucial technology to their Chinese partners.

The complaint coincides with a broader debate over China’s plan — called Made in China 2025 — to become self-sufficient in some technology industries. That plan has led to concerns that China will nurture and subsidize domestic competitors to Western companies.

That have a MIIC pouring money into things, too?

Still, it is not clear what arrangements Tesla would make in China. The battery is central to any electric car technology. Tesla has invested heavily in its $5 billion Nevada factory, called the Gigafactory, to produce batteries.....


Time to leave China, by any means possible.

"Japanese authorities said Thursday they have obtained a data recording device from a container ship to help determine why it collided with a US destroyer, killing seven American sailors. Japanese transport safety officials said they obtained the voyage data recorder, similar to an airplane’s ‘‘black box,’’ from the Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal, which is currently docked in Yokohama near Tokyo. The safety board is focusing on the cause of the collision and the lessons to be learned, while Japan’s coast guard is investigating possible professional negligence. The Japanese coast guard has revised its estimate of the collision time from an initial 2:20 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. after interviewing the Crystal’s crewmembers and examining the ship’s location. The US Navy still uses 2:20 a.m. as the time of the collision, but US military officials say they have no intention to dispute the Japanese coast guard, and that the investigation will settle the issue....." 

Is there ever an instance where the U.S. military tells the truth?

And the bear continues to make inroads after invading Alaska.


"Afghan bombing kills dozens of workers lined up for pay" Globe wires  June 22, 2017

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — A Taliban car bombing killed at least 34 people and wounded 60 others as they lined up at a bank to collect their pay on Thursday in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, in southern Afghanistan, according to Afghan officials.

Can't get those troops there fast enough.

The attacker drove into a crowd in front of a branch of the New Kabul Bank in the city, detonating a car bomb so potent that some victims were blown into the nearby Helmand River, officials said.

Meanwhile, the ones in Europe don't even injure anyone. Wow.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in the southern province, which has been the center of bitter battles between the insurgents and security forces, aided by NATO troops.

The militants, who are believed to control nearly 80 percent of the province’s countryside, increasingly have been making a push into Lashkar Gah to try to take the city.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yusuf Ahmadi said in an e-mail that the bomb targeted Afghan security personnel collecting their salaries. He said no civilians were killed and gave a higher death toll. But the provincial governor and police chief emphasized that most of the dead were civilians. Witnesses said children were among the wounded.

Think about this for a minute. How stupid is it to line up at the bank, and how did the Taliban get wind of it? 

I mean, I accept something like this as real, but who really knows? Consider the source.

Helmand’s governor, Hayatullah Hayat, said that civilians and soldiers were among the dead and wounded, including children. “Most of the victims were civilians, but some were military, and we are investigating why military men came to a bank in the city, since they should collect their pay from bank branches on their bases,” Hayat said.

Many victims were hard to identify because the bodies were so badly mutilated, said Mualadad Tobagar, the head of the Boost Hospital, where most of the victims were taken.

The attacker struck as scores of people, including many Afghan soldiers and civil servants, waited outside the bank ahead of the Eid-al-Fitr holiday.

A border policeman who was at the scene of the deafening explosion said many people were missing in the ensuing chaos as bystanders, survivors, and ambulances struggled to get the most seriously wounded to the hospital.

A 12-year-old girl named Hosnia was crying outside the bank as she searched for her father.

‘‘I couldn’t find anyone, my brother and my father,’’ she said. ‘‘My father told me he will take me to buy shoes. We came here and then there was the explosion.’

You need to WATCH your environment.

The Taliban recently have overrun Helmand’s key Sangin district, where British and US troops had fought for years to keep them at bay.

Looks like losing to me.


From where the next terror attack comes:

Qatar Airways can no longer fly to Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or the United Arab Emirates.
Qatar Airways can no longer fly to Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or the United Arab Emirates (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images/File). 

"Qatar Airways eyes 10% stake in American Airlines" by Micah Maidenberg and Amie Tsang New York Times  June 22, 2017

NEW YORK — Qatar Airways has expressed interest in buying up to 10 percent of American Airlines, an unsolicited approach that comes amid criticism from US carriers that Persian Gulf competitors have an unfair advantage.

The state-owned Qatar Airways said it intended to purchase at least $808 million of the American carrier’s stock on the open market, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The Qatar Airways chief executive, Akbar al-Baker, approached the American Airlines chief, Doug Parker, about the possible purchase.

Qatar’s move reflects the broad ambitions of the carrier, which has grown from a small, regional player focused on the Middle East to a global carrier with flights to 150 destinations. The airline has plans to bolster its presence in the United States, where it already flies to 10 cities.

But the carrier’s expansion has set off a bitter fight with rivals in the United States. American, along with other major domestic players, has accused Qatar and other Gulf airlines of violating air treaties, called Open Skies agreements, by fueling their growth with huge subsidies from their government backers.

American said in the securities filing that the proposed transaction “does not alter” its conviction that the federal government must enforce its Open Skies deal with the Qatari government to “ensure fair competition.” Matt Miller, a spokesman at American Airlines, declined to comment beyond the securities filing.

A spokesman for Qatar Airways in New York declined to comment.

Shares of American Airlines were up about 1 percent Thursday.

A purchase by Qatar Airways could set up a standoff at a time when the Gulf carrier is already under pressure. Any such purchase is subject to the approval of the American Airlines board, as well as to an antitrust review of the Department of Justice.

Several US carriers, including American Airlines, have previously complained to the Trump administration about the subsidies that the Gulf carriers receive from their government backers. The money, the US carriers wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, has allowed such companies “to operate without concern for turning a profit” and “therefore focus entirely on stripping market share and driving out competition.”

That's ballsy of them given their poor service and increasing fares in the face of a $15 billion bailout after 9/11.

The US companies are playing to President Trump’s “America first” agenda, saying the subsidies hurt the country’s job market. “For every long-haul route lost or foregone as a result of subsidized Gulf carrier competition, more than 1,500 American jobs are lost,” the letter in February said.

Qatar Airways has also been ensnared in an international dispute, as Saudi Arabia and four other Arab states recently cut ties with Qatar. The carrier can no longer fly to Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or the United Arab Emirates.

Travel to the United States has been slumping in recent months for a range of reasons, including Trump’s attempts to enact a travel ban for citizens from some predominantly Muslim countries.

I'm sorry, what's that?


"Egypt says 7 militants killed in raid on desert camp" AP  June 23, 2017

CAIRO — Egypt’s Interior Ministry says it has killed seven people in connection with recent attacks on the country’s embattled Christian minority, including three church bombings and a deadly bus shooting, all claimed by the Islamic State group.

The ministry said in a Thursday statement that the militants, who were killed in an exchange of fire, were hiding in a western desert camp. It did not provide any further details.

Attacks on Coptic Christians have claimed the lives of more than 100 people and injured scores since December.

Earlier on Thursday, the state-run MENA news agency reported that Egypt’s Cabinet approved a three-month extension of the state of emergency, declared by President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi following twin Palm Sunday church bombings.

Why not make it permanent like France?



"Ghana court rejects resettlement of Guantánamo Bay detainees" New York Times News Service  June 22, 2017

ACCRA, Ghana — The Supreme Court of Ghana ruled Thursday that the government’s decision to allow two former Guantánamo Bay detainees to live in the country was unconstitutional.

Last year, Ghana signed an agreement with the United States to allow the two detainees, Khalid Mohammed Salih al-Dhuby and Mahmmoud Omar Mohammed Bin Atef, both citizens of Yemen, to resettle in Ghana. The two were captured by Afghan forces in late 2001 and turned over to the United States, and detained at the US prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as enemy combatants for 14 years, accused of being members of Al Qaeda.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court justices ruled that Ghana’s government, then led by President John Dramani Mahama, erred in approving the detainees’ transfer, saying that the agreement with the United States was an international one that required approval by parliament. Two Ghanaian citizens had brought the case before the court, accusing the government of illegally allowing the men to enter Ghana.

Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo said that unless the government submitted the agreement to parliament for approval within three months, the two men would be returned to the United States.

Mahama, who was president at the time the deal was struck, had said that the two men did not present a security threat and that the United States had directly requested that Ghana accept them for resettlement. The deal drew criticism from religious and civic groups, who cited worries about security.

The current president, Nana Akufo-Addo, has not indicated how he will respond to the court’s decision.

What does the U.S. want him to do?

Otherwise, we will start seeing loads of stories about Ghana.



Now from the march:

"‘I’m worth the trouble, quite frankly’: A defiant Nancy Pelosi dismisses her critics" by Mike DeBonis The Washington Post  June 23, 2017

WASHINGTON — House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, confronted her critics — both Republicans and Democrats — on Thursday after Democratic losses in Tuesday’s House special elections brought new scrutiny to her leadership and fresh calls for her to step aside lest she drag down her party’s candidates in the 2018 midterms.

After briefly addressing the health care bill unveiled Tuesday by Senate Republicans, Pelosi spent the bulk of her weekly news conference playing down the special election losses, defending her leadership and lashing out at a cadre of ‘‘blatantly self-serving’’ internal critics inside the House Democratic Caucus.


"A commission of historians, authors, and community leaders will solicit public input and make suggestions about how to ‘‘set the historical record straight’’ on the monuments in the former Confederate capital.  ‘‘Equal parts myth and deception, they were the ‘alternative facts’ of their time — a false narrative etched in stone and bronze more than 100 years ago — not only to lionize the architects and defenders of slavery, but to perpetuate the tyranny and terror of Jim Crow and reassert a new era of white supremacy. Whether we like it or not, they are part of our history,’’ Mayor Levar Stoney said at a news conference....."

It's an epiphany.

‘‘When it comes to personal ambition and having fun on TV, have your fun,’’ Pelosi said. ‘‘I love the arena. I thrive on competition, and I welcome the discussion. . . . But I feel very confident in the support that I have in my caucus.’’

She added: ‘‘Every action has a reaction, I try to say that to them. Every attack provokes a massive reaction that is very encouraging to me from my members, from our supporters outside and across the country.’’

That's her problem; she doesn't understand what the word condescension means.

Pelosi’s most vocal Democratic critics in recent days consist mainly of members who opposed her bid last year for an eighth two-year term as the party leader in the House.

‘‘Nancy Pelosi was a great speaker. She is a great leader. But her time has come and gone,’’ Representative Kathleen Rice, Democrat of New York, said Thursday on MSNBC. ‘‘I believe that she is not the leader for the future of the Democratic Party. It’s that simple.’’

 No, she is not the future, but she did make history. She was the first, and so far only, female Speaker of the House.

Top GOP leaders frequently say that they have no better ally in electing House Republicans than Pelosi, given her wide name recognition and dismal image among conservative and moderate voters— a point echoed Thursday by none other than President Trump in a tweet.

That's when I turn off the phone.

In a retort Thursday, Pelosi said, ‘‘You want me to sing my praises, is that what you’re saying? Well, I’m a master legislator. I am a strategic, politically astute leader. My leadership is recognized by many around the country, and that is why I’m able to attract the [financial] support that I do, which is essential to our elections, sad to say. . . . I have experience in winning the Congress. When people said to us in ‘05 that you don’t have a chance, be prepared for a Republican permanent majority, [former Senate Democratic leader] Harry Reid and I didn’t accept that.’’

OMG, she has totally lost it and is living in a world of in$ulated and i$olated delu$ion!!

Pelosi added that Republicans have long sought to target Democratic leaders in their advertising, ‘‘and usually they go after the most effective leaders.’’

‘‘I don’t think that any party should allow the opposite party to choose their leaders,’’ she said.....

Only so much they can do.


I don't want to rip on her, but there have been multiple videos over the last few months that show her either drunk or demented. It is time to go.

"The Senate bill retains the basic structure of President Obama’s signature health care law, which most of us call Obamacare. Except that all the parts have been whittled down and weakened....."

Good thing GOP opposition imperils the bill.

"Experts have dismissed Trump’s claims of ineligible voters faking their way into ballot booths as lacking evidence and overblown, the stuff of conspiracy websites. A focus on Russian hacking, however, would put additional attention on the topic of Vladimir Putin’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, an issue that Trump’s White House has vigorously sought to downplay....."

Calls it a hoax, and he is playing into their hands while being part of the game (as are a few others, sad to say). Fact is, there was meddling. Just wasn't by Russia. Was from inside the US government intelligence community. It's a great shell game they have going, Trump here, Democraps here, ma$$ media hates him, triangulation of distraction and political discord while the war machine rolls along.

Also serves to discredit a false Internet rumor of a pedophile ring, a viral Internet rumor known as ‘‘Pizzagate.’’ The fact is you need to look elsewhere for the real investigation, and not to the pre$$ from the very same elite that minimize and cover up such things with spotty vagaries in their coverage. Not only that, they celebrate them with golf tournaments. Even Trump may have a problem, and he knows it.

Of course, it's never hard to believe when it involves religious abuse (it will be even easier now. Less to navigate). You even win awards and get movies made for exposing that.

I suppose you could say he didn't kill anyone, and that is an important distinction.

Judge Goldsmith halts deportation of Iraqi Christians

"Francisco Rodriguez worked as a mechanical engineer in his native El Salvador, and things were going well at his company....."

President Trump says he has no ‘tapes’ of Comey conversations

Anybody hear shots fired?

"Army general demoted as sex scandals continue" by Craig Whitlock The Washington Post  June 23, 2017

The Army has demoted the former commander of the 1st Infantry Division for having ‘‘an inappropriate relationship’’ with a junior officer, the latest in a string of episodes in which Army generals have landed in trouble for personal misconduct.

Wayne Grigsby Jr., who also served as the commander of Fort Riley, Kansas, was reprimanded and demoted from major general to brigadier general after investigators found that he had called and texted a female captain more than 850 times over 10 months and was spending time at her home, according to Army documents obtained by The Washington Post.

Grigsby is the sixth general in the past year whom the Army has punished for sexual misconduct or improper interactions with women, although Army leaders have been reluctant to talk about the issue. The Army relieved Grigsby of command last September, citing a ‘‘loss of confidence’’ in his ability to lead. But officials provided no other details and kept the outcome of the investigation a secret for six months.

Just doing some cleaning up of the Staff is all.

In a statement, Grigsby said he was ‘‘embarrassed and disappointed in myself’’ and apologized for causing pain to his family and the Army.....

I won't add to it.


Captain still has to salute, and so do you recruits.


"Slightly more people sought US unemployment benefits last week, but the number of applications remained at a historically low level that suggests the job market is healthy, the Labor Department says....."

Yeah, participation is at the lowest it has been in over 40 years, but.... the lies from the Labor Department are the wor$t.

"J. Crew Group Inc.’s debt restructuring can’t go forward because not all lenders agreed to it, and it seals the deal on an improper shift of trademark assets to benefit the retailers’ private equity owners, two holdouts said. Funds affiliated with Eaton Vance Corp. and Highland Capital Management sued J.Crew and the agent to its $1.57 billion term loan in New York State Supreme Court Thursday. They say the agent, Wilmington Savings Fund Society FSB, needed unanimous consent of lenders for the deal it inked earlier this month; consenting to the restructuring deal and waiving potential lawsuits against J. Crew over its controversial transfer of its trademark assets last year. On Wednesday, J. Crew said that 88 percent of lenders consented to the deal."

I'm not part of that CREW.

"Etsy, the online marketplace for people to sell crafts and handmade products, announced this week its second round of job cuts in a little more than a month as it attempts to refocus operations. On Wednesday, the New York-based company said it would be cutting 140 jobs, adding to a round of cuts announced on May 2. All told, Etsy said it would be eliminating 230 positions, or about 22 percent of what its workforce was at the end of 2016. The reductions will focus on areas such as marketing, product management, and administration, and they will mainly target the Brooklyn headquarters. Etsy rose to prominence as an early e-commerce site catering to the crafting crowd, but it has encountered stiff competition in recent years as a number of large companies and small began to offer similar platforms for people to sell what they make."

At least the banks are in good shape:

"Once universally dreaded by banks, the Federal Reserve’s annual stress tests are becoming less stressful. The nation’s largest banks breezed through the first phase of their annual tests Thursday, demonstrating that they have enough capital to withstand the type of financial shock that nearly ruined the industry and the world economy in 2008. The banking system, according to the test results, has an even larger capital cushion than it did going into last year’s exam. That is likely to increase calls from the financial industry and its allies in the Trump administration and Congress to start watering down the regulations."

Time to Staple this post together and get to the office:

"Staples Inc. chief executive Shira Goodman says she’s determined to put her company on a growth track again, but the Framingham office supplier appears ready to attempt that feat away from Wall Street’s watchful eyes, under private ownership. Talks with private equity firm Sycamore Partners seem to be nearing a resolution. It’s a tough time to be in retail, and private ownership isn’t a panacea. These investors often clamor for dividends and expense cuts, just like with public companies. Everyone still has a boss, somewhere. However, Staples would at least get more flexibility to make Goodman’s vision of revenue growth a reality....."

Staples CEO Shira Goodman has focused less on stores.
Staples CEO Shira Goodman has focused less on stores (Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff). 

At least stocks edged up slightly -- in case you were not WATCHing.