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Spain, Morocco square off after 8,000 migrants arrive by sea
Spain deployed its military to the Moroccan border Tuesday and expelled nearly half of the thousands of migrants who jumped fences or swam onto European soil over two days after Rabat loosened border controls amid a deepening diplomatic spat. Overwhelmed soldiers separated the adults from the young and carried children in their arms while Red Cross workers helped an endless trickle of migrants who were emerging from the water shivering and exhausted. The sudden influx of migrants has fueled the diplomatic spat between Rabat and Madrid over the disputed Western Sahara region and created a humanitarian crisis for Ceuta, the Spanish city of 85,000 in North Africa on the Mediterranean Sea, separated from Morocco by a double-wide, 10-meter (32-feet) fence.
Around 3,000 Moroccan migrants cross into Spanish territory
Around 3,000 Moroccans, a third of whom were presumed to be minors according to Spanish authorities, swam and used inflatable boats Monday to cross into Ceuta, the largest number of migrant arrivals in a single day into Spain's enclave in northern Africa. The influx followed the souring of Spain's relations with Morocco, its southern partner and key ally on controlling migration flows, over Madrid's decision to allow the leader of a militant group fighting for independence from Morocco to receive hospital treatment.
Amazon to extend pause on police use of facial recognition
Amazon said Tuesday that it will extend its ban on police use of its face-recognition technology beyond the one-year pause it announced last year. Amazon and other technology companies have been under pressure from civil rights activists and their own workers to halt the sale of face-recognition systems to law enforcement agencies. One concern is that the technology can incorrectly identify people with darker skin.
Goldman Traders Caught in Mexico Stalemate Chasing $400 Million From Texas Freeze
(Bloomberg) -- It’s a Wall Street nightmare. You score hundreds of millions of dollars on a trade and you just can’t get paid.That’s what Goldman Sachs Group Inc. faces in a transaction pitting its traders against Mexico’s dominant power company, championed by none other than President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, according to people with knowledge of the matter. At issue: roughly $400 million the Wall Street bank believes it’s owed from a natural-gas trade that went wild when a deep freeze hit Texas in February.In private discussions with Goldman Sachs, state-owned utility Comision Federal de Electricidad has blamed rogue traders, ejected staff and even hinted that the side lacking financial sophistication in the trade was, perhaps, the Wall Street bank, the people said.If the impasse continues to escalate, it risks dragging the bank into a political blowup.The freakishly cold storm that battered the central U.S. set off sweeping blackouts as ice formed on wind turbines and some pipelines froze, forcing oil and gas wells to shut. As power suppliers and traders struggled to track down fuel to meet obligations, prices skyrocketed. The surge benefited companies that happened to be on the right side of trades, but their ability to collect depends on what happens to gas suppliers, power generators and utility customers, some of whom have filed price-gouging lawsuits.The cost of paying Goldman Sachs could ultimately come from Mexican households, many of whom were left without power in the winter -- not so much because of local malfunctions but because authorities in Texas cut off fuel exports when their own lightly regulated system failed. It’s little surprise then that officials south of the border are reluctant to write a check to a giant U.S. bank.Yet anybody who bails on such a bet risks becoming persona non grata on Wall Street, complicating their future access. On the other side, Goldman’s leaders have to consider how angry they want to make the government of Mexico, a market where the firm has been expanding.The descriptions of the dispute and the underlying transaction between Goldman and a CFE subsidiary were provided by people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified publicly discussing the talks. A representative for Goldman Sachs didn’t comment for this story.The bank and CFE are heading into arbitration over the matter, a spokeswoman for the utility told a Whatsapp chat room with journalists on Monday, noting “the CFE considers that it has solid and sufficient arguments.”On the face of it, it was a routine natural-gas contract. Goldman had entered into the arrangement with CFE International, an arm of CFE. The investment bank’s obligations were tied to a monthly index of gas prices, while the CFE unit would be exposed to daily rates at certain hubs, such as the Waha hub in West Texas.The daily price there surged by nearly 100 times, whereas the monthly price was left largely unchanged, leaving the CFE subsidiary on the hook for an unusually large amount. But instead of the contract getting settled in the Wall Street firm’s favor, the situation has devolved into an acrimonious spat.The Mexican utility has argued that the traders who initiated the deal at its subsidiary weren’t authorized to do so, and some of them have since left, the people said. CFE has also argued it shouldn’t have to fulfill the contract because of the unforeseeable, extreme price action. And it has asserted that Goldman failed to strike a rock-solid contract because it didn’t get an explicit nod from the parent company as a guarantor on the trade, undermining the bank’s ability to extract the money.For Goldman, the dispute boils down to a contractual obligation that its counterparty is duty-bound to fulfill, even if the debt resulted from unforeseen disaster. The bank has also privately argued that such a trade was routinely carried out between the two sides and that the subsidiary even represented in documentation that it had a guarantee from the parent company, a person close to Goldman said. Chat logs during the deal indicate that CFE’s subsidiary was seeking approvals on various aspects of the trade from its parent, the person said.It’s unclear how and when Goldman will be able to realize the money it insists it’s owed, especially as CFE becomes a central part of the Mexican president’s campaign to reshape the domestic energy market.Read More: Mexico Blames U.S. as Energy Crisis Spills Across the BorderSince winning in a landslide in 2018, Lopez Obrador has sought to roll back energy reforms by his predecessor and has said he wants to turn CFE back into an economic champion. He’s broadly blamed private companies for fleecing the nation in deals hatched with corrupt officials, and he’s taken particular issue with gas contracts that he says unfairly benefited businesses at the expense of the state utility.“We are going to continue to comply with the commitment not to increase the price of electricity, even with speculation and the increases in gas prices that are taking place in Texas and the United States,” he said during his morning press conference on Feb. 18.(Updates with comment from CFE spokeswoman in ninth paragraph.)More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
21 Careers That Are More Likely To Lead To Divorce
You've heard the statistic before: Half of all marriages end in divorce. Whether that number still holds true is debatable, but for many young married people today, it's their career -- or their...
Exodus to jungles, villages as Myanmar troops retake town
Mindat, about 100 km (60 miles) from the Indian border in Chin state, has seen some of the most intense fighting since a Feb. 1 coup that has led to the emergence of ragtag local armies that are stifling the junta's bid to consolidate power. Martial law was declared in Mindat on Thursday before the army launched its assault, using artillery and helicopters against a newly formed Chinland Defence Force, a militia armed mainly with hunting rifles, which said it had pulled back to spare civilians from being caught in the crossfire. A representative of the local people's administrative group of Mindat said he was among some 200 people, including women and children, who had trekked across rocky roads and hills carrying blankets, rice and cooking pots.
Sri Lankan court: China-built port board needs public assent
Sri Lanka’s top court has ruled that some provisions of legislation to set up a powerful economic commission in a Chinese-built port city violate the constitution and require approval by a public referendum to become law. At the center of the dispute are fears that the $1.4 billion port city, part of China's sweeping Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, could become a virtual Chinese outpost or colony. Sri Lanka's government is looking to the project as a lifeline for an economy hard stricken by the pandemic.
The winners and losers of AT&T's split with WarnerMedia
AT&T is unwinding a huge part of its $84 billion acquisition of Time Warner, less than three years after it closed.Driving the news: AT&T this morning announced that it will merge its WarnerMedia properties with Discovery Inc.'s media assets.Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for freeAT&T's contributions will include cable networks CNN, TNN, TNT, Cartoon Network and HBO, plus streaming service HBO Max. Discovery's will include its Discovery-branded content, TLC, Food Network, Eurosport and its Discovery+ streaming service.The deal is expected to close in the middle of next year, via a joint venture that would have projected 2023 revenue of $52 billion and adjusted EBITDA of around $14 billion.The big winner is Elliott Management, the activist investor that in 2019 took a $3.2 billion stake in AT&T and publicly argued that the Time Warner acquisition didn't make strategic sense.Elliott later signed a ceasefire with new AT&T CEO John Stankey, who agreed to spin off DirecTV via a deal with TPG Capital.There were reports in November that Elliott divested its AT&T stake, but my understanding is that it just sold off its small amount of common stock, but maintains most of its swaps. It subsequently purchased new common stock, to be reflected in a 13F being filed today.It does not appear that AT&T reached out to private equity firms to help buttress the deal.The big loser is former AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. Not only were Time Warner and DirecTV his two biggest acquisitions, but his failed pursuit of T-Mobile triggered a massive termination fee that financially strengthened a smaller rival and arguably caused AT&T to sell off its wireless spectrum.The big comp is Verizon, which also has a (relatively) new CEO who views networking as the crown jewel and content as a pricey distraction.The big note is how rushed this morning's announcement felt, despite some background insistence that it wasn't, per Axios media reporter Sara Fischer.They didn't announce the new company's name, instead saying they'll drop it "later this week."No disclosed decisions yet on if the two streaming services will be merged.Reporters had 30 minutes' notice this morning of the Zoom call.No clarity on the future of WarnerMedia boss Jason Kilar, who was notably absent from the press release. Stankey simply said that Discovery CEO David Zaslav — who will run the new business — has lots of discussions ahead of him. The bottom line: Two things you can always count on after acquiring Time Warner are big controversy and big regrets.Editor's note: This post was corrected to reflect that Elliott Management took a $3.2 billion stake in AT&T in 2019 (not in 2020).Like this article? Get more from Axios and subscribe to Axios Markets for free.
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