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🥊 So much beef

Good Monday afternoon. A lot of fights going down this week. Also, stay on the lookout for a gift from us soon.
In today’s issue:
  • Climate vs. Supreme Court
  • Facebook vs. Apple
  • Investigators vs. Jared Kushner
  • Druglords & Credit Suisse vs. Switzerland

Cleared For Take Off. Kinda.
The UK Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled Heathrow can plough ahead with plans to build a controversial third runway.
Refresher. For a short, blissful while it seemed like Britain’s longest game of will they/won’t they (the idea for a new landing strip was first floated in 1968) was finally over. In February, the Court of Appeal ruled Theresa May’s government unlawfully approved Heathrow’s third runway because it failed to consider the UK’s commitments under the UN Paris climate accord.
Now? The $14bn project is making a Lazarus-style comeback. The Supreme Court unanimously found ministers did take the Paris agreement into account and were within their discretion not to give it any further weight. 
But… Heathrow can’t break ground yet. The airport still has to apply for planning permission, at which stage climate considerations - like the government’s legally binding promise to hit net-zero emissions by 2050 - will be addressed.
Fight or flight. BoJo - who recently announced plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 68% - has refused to endorse Heathrow’s proposals despite the judgement.
Zoom out. Pro-runway or pro-climate, no one’s fighting over armrests right now. Observers are asking if building a new runway makes any business sense in a post-COVID world.
Silicon Valley’s Civil War
Image: Apple
Image: Apple
Long-time frenemies Facebook and Apple spent last week fighting over who exploits you more.
Huh? Next year, Apple will roll out a new feature (pictured above) that requires users to opt in to the kind of data collection that produces creepily accurate ads.
So Facebook retaliated like Regina George any rational tech giant would.
  • It – ironically - took out full-page ads in the NYT, Washington Post and WSJ to “stand up for small businesses.”
  • It launched a webpage with testimonials about how the new feature would hurt small-business owners’ ability to reach specific customers.
Facebook says Apple’s move will “change the internet"; Apple says that’s the point. It argues users should be able to choose if and when their data is being collected.
Between the lines. Facebook isn’t righteous and Apple isn’t a saint. Both have personal agendas:
  • Facebook is worried disallowing tracking will cleave its main revenue stream; an August survey showed less than 25% of respondents would allow apps to track them if given the choice.
  • Apple: without personalized ads, apps might have to pivot towards subscription models and, in turn, pay the App Store’s 30% cut.
Grab the popcorn. We’re used to seeing Big Tech lumped together as an evil monolith regulators hate. It’s weirdly entertaining knowing tech giants want to kneecap each other, too.
My take: Between data gluttony and app-store hegemony, Facebook and Apple have a lot of dirt on each other. This fight reinforces how big Big Tech is, and just how valuable our data has become.  
In other tech news… Texas has joined 2020’s trustbuster’s club. It’s suing Google for abusing its “monopolistic power.”
Kushner’s Super-Secret Shell Company
Image: Giphy
Image: Giphy
First son-in-law Jared Kushner reportedly created a shell company that secretly spent hundreds of millions of campaign dollars.
The story. The shell company – called American Made Media Consultants – was created by Kushner in 2018 as a family piggy bank. Eric Trump’s wife, Lara Trump, was president of the company, while Mike Pence’s nephew served as vice-president. Very on-the-nose.
AMMC operated like a “campaign within a campaign,” siphoning half of the Trump re-election campaign’s $1.26 billion war chest to family and top advisors to skirt federally mandated disclosures. Meaning financial and operational details – like who the money was paid to – were shielded from public scrutiny. 
Who knew? Barely anyone. Top campaign staff told Business Insider the shell company was shrouded in secrecy. Although campaign officials did conduct an internal audit of AMMC’s operations, those findings were never reported.
A very Trumpian season finale. Two lawmakers are now asking the FBI and Federal Election Commission to investigate the shell company, arguing Trump’s campaign might’ve violated laws barring the spending of campaign cash for personal use and public disclosure requirements.
(The best tweet on this story: “I do not understand why anyone gives Trump money.”)
A Wrestler and a Bank Manager Walk Into a Bank…
To launder money. Nope, not a joke. A Bulgarian wrestler, Credit Suisse and one of its ex-employees were indicted by Swiss prosecutors on Thursday for helping a Bulgarian drug ring launder CHF 35 million ($39m).
The story dates back to the early 2000s. When communism fell in Bulgaria, top-level athletes were left with little financial support. So they turned towards other (real shady) sources of income.
 As a client of Credit Suisse, one Bulgarian wrestler – who remains anonymous and has already been convicted in several countries – laundered profits from a European cocaine trafficking ring through Switzerland. He was aided by a former employee at the bank, who set up “special financial transactions” through which the money was laundered.
Credit Suisse has been charged for failing to take “reasonable and required” anti-money laundering measures, with prosecutors claiming the bank was aware of the situation “from at least 2004.” 
  • The Zurich-based bank, on the other hand, says it’s ‘astonished’ by the indictment.
Now? The case will be handed to the Swiss Federal Criminal Court, where Credit Suisse will “defend itself vigorously.”
Bad to worse. From a spying scandal in February, to questionable deals with Softbank and involvement in one of Asia’s most spectacular accounting frauds – Credit Suisse has had a weird 2020. The bank’s losses and scandals might plunge it into a fourth-quarter loss, says Bloomberg.
Zoom out. This isn’t the only Swiss bank with dirty secrets. Just last month, Swiss prosecutors scolded Société Générale for letting convicted fraudster Allen Stanford deposit $150m. 
  • Robinhood, the stock trading app, pays $65m to settle SEC case for misleading customers about how it makes money.
  • Trump calls reports he considered imposing martial law to keep Biden out of the White House “fake news.”
  • The MI6 might’ve let informants commit serious crimes in the UK.
  • India’s Supreme Court proposes mediation to end farmers’ protests.
  • Swiss parliament approves marriage equality bill.
  • 50+ people are arrested in Indian call-center scam that siphoned over $14m from thousands of Americans.
  • Glossier, the unicorn makeup brand, trademarks its pink packaging.
  • Dr Suess‘ estate is able to sue the publisher of a Star Trek-themed “mash-up” of the author’s final book, court says.
This virtual law firm is trying to create a Netflix-style subscription service to disrupt the legal industry.
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