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Amazon bets big on the grocery biz; Putin critics mysteriously turn up dead in the UK; Trump grants DREAMers a reprieve — for now.
Prime real estate
- Amazon is doubling down on its push into brick-and-mortar stores. And now they’re not just bookstores; they’re grocery stores.
- The world’s largest online retailer announced today it is buying the pricey organic supermarket chain Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, adding to the online grocery delivery service it already has. [CNN Money / Paul R. La Monica and Chris Isidore]
- The news has already sent other grocery stocks into a tailspin. Kroger, Supervalu, and Costco shares all dropped, as did those of Target and Walmart. [CNBC / Katie Little]
- So what’s in the details of biggest deal the internet giant has made to date? First of all, it’s great for Whole Foods, which has been struggling with falling sales recently. It gets a bunch of cash and the ability to keep operating under its name. [Business Insider / Bob Bryan]
- For Amazon, it’s the latest sign of an internet giant moving to dominate the retail market in all areas, from books to clothes to electronics and now food. Amazon already makes movies and television shows, designs its own clothing lines, and manufactures home electronics, and is opening up more physical bookstores across the US.
- Its Prime service is transforming how Americans buy products (and has also come under fire for discriminatory delivery practices). [Bloomberg / David Ingold and Spencer Soper]
- Amazon’s vast presence has important implications for US antitrust laws, which are supposed to guard against businesses becoming monopolies, incentivize competition, and protect consumers from high prices. [Yale Law Journal / Lina Khan]
- In many ways, antitrust laws aren’t prepared to handle internet retail and the modern economy. Because those laws focus more on prices of the things we buy, they aren’t really equipped to deal with a business like Amazon, which underprices some of its goods to undercut the competition and grow even bigger. [The Yale Law Journal / Lina Khan]
- What remains to be seen is how Amazon fares under Trump, who does not have the friendliest relationship with its CEO, Jeff Bezos (an outspoken critic of Trump policies and the owner of the Washington Post). [Recode / April Glaser]
- If the Trump administration decides to home in on antitrust laws, it could follow the example of the European Union, which has brought discrimination cases against Google for steering consumers toward Google Shopping and away from rivals when they browse for goods online. [Forbes / Sally Hubbard]
- Fourteen fixers, oligarchs, and other critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin have succumbed to mysterious deaths around the UK as the British government turns a blind eye, according to a bombshell BuzzFeed investigation. [BuzzFeed / Heidi Blake, Tom Warren, Richard Holmes, Jason Leopold, Jane Bradley, and Alex Campbell]
- In a report that reads like a spy thriller, BuzzFeed has begun to release names of men whom intelligence officials say were killed by members of the Russian Mafia or security forces. Officially, British police have ruled that the 14 victims died of heart attacks or suicide, but the BuzzFeed investigation alleges the cause of death is something more sinister. [BuzzFeed / Heidi Blake, Tom Warren, Richard Holmes, Jason Leopold, Jane Bradley, and Alex Campbell]
- At least one of these assassinations — of Russian financier Alexander Perepilichnyy — came from direct orders from Putin, according to US intelligence officials. Before he died in 2012, Perepilichnyy helped expose massive tax fraud by Russian officials. [BuzzFeed / Heidi Blake, Jason Leopold, Jane Bradley, Richard Holmes, Tom Warren, and Alex Campbell]
- Assassinations of journalists and Putin critics in Russia are nothing new, and are troubling in their own right. [Vox / Vladimir Milov]
- But evidence that the Kremlin is going further afield to silence its critics — combined with the allegations that Britain is looking the other way — is noteworthy.
- The most well-known assassination of a former Russian is the 2006 poisoning of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko. Litvinenko had recently gotten British citizenship and was living in London when he was poisoned via radioactive polonium in his tea. [BBC / Frank Gardner]
- The years following Litvinenko’s death saw outrage and a period of extremely tense relations between Britain and Russia. They also saw the Russian Parliament pass new laws allowing that country’s special services to target and kill “extremists” abroad — except their definition of extremists included people who slandered the president. [BBC / Steven Eke]
- So what changed between Russian and the UK from then to now? Money, and fear.
- There’s billions of Russian money in British real estate, which made former Prime Minister David Cameron loath to impose tough sanctions on Russia when it invaded Crimea in 2014. [Reuters / Tom Bergin and Brenda Goh]
- Now, with Russian hackers meddling in the US election and attempting to interfere in the French elections as well, intelligence officials say the British government is too afraid of retaliations to confront Putin about the assassinations taking place on its soil. [BuzzFeed / Heidi Blake, Tom Warren, Richard Holmes, Jason Leopold, Jane Bradley, and Alex Campbell]
- BuzzFeed says it plans to release more names of those killed in Britain in the coming days.
A reprieve for DREAMers
- Nearly 800,000 children of illegal immigrants who were born in the United States can stay, for now.
- Late Thursday, the White House announced it would not get rid of the Obama-era protections for the so-called DREAMers, meaning they won’t face deportation and can continue to apply for work permits. [Vox / Dara Lind]
- Their parents were not so lucky; Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly officially rescinded an Obama administration memo that would have extended protections to the parents of DREAMers. That memo was already ineffective, as it faced a federal court challenge from Texas and other states. [Washington Post / Maria Sacchetti]
- But White House officials told reporters that the decision is just a temporary one and Trump is still trying to decide what to do with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in the long run. [Vox / Dara Lind]
- Trump made illegal immigration a centerpiece issue in his campaign, and at least to begin with, his administration was considering tougher policies on DREAMers.
- Earlier this year, administration officials drafted an executive order that would have axed the DACA program in two years, making the young unauthorized immigrants unable to travel outside the US and eligible for deportation. [Vox / Dara Lind]
- Trump’s change of heart could spell trouble for his popularity with anti-immigration hardliners, who made up some of the most enthusiastic members of his voting base during the 2016 election.
- When Trump started to signal a softer approach on DREAMers, calling them “these incredible kids” and waffling on what to do with them, it angered those supporters who believed he would be just as tough on children of illegal immigrants as he was on their parents. [NYT / Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Jennifer Steinhauer]
- This latest move by the White House was initially praised by some advocates, but was just as swiftly followed up with criticism for Trump’s policies for the remaining 10 million-plus undocumented immigrants. [NYT / Michael Shear]
- Under the Trump administration, immigration arrests have shot up 38 percent from 2016. That’s in large part because criteria to arrest undocumented immigrants have expanded. Under the last years of Obama’s presidency, arrests were supposed to target gang members, or immigrants convicted of a felony or series of high-level misdemeanors. Now those arrested don’t have to have committed a serious crime — or any crime at all. [USA Today / Alan Gomez]
- Shootings, murders, and attempted suicide have all been broadcast over Facebook Live. New analysis has found violence is live-streamed on the social network far more often than we think. [BuzzFeed / Alex Kantrowitz]
- Yoko Ono is finally getting a songwriting credit on John Lennon’s greatest hit, “Imagine.” Lennon once admitted in an interview that he didn’t give her credit because he was too “macho” and Ono was “just the wife.” [NPR / Andrew Flanagan]
- Field scientists who spend their days in gross places weighed in on what the worst smells ever are. The stinky winner is ... wait for it ... dead turtles. [The Verge / Rachel Becker]
- Sexual harassment is a huge problem in India. But a new anti-sexual harassment campaign there has turned into moral policing, with cops interrogating and arresting couples in addition to men who harass women. [Broadly / Sunaina Kumar]
- “Look at this and try not to puke. If someone would ask me to marry them with a ring like this, I would slap them in the face and run.” [Lorde to Jimmy Fallon / Tonight Show]
- “I’m not looking to portray you as a bogeyman ... the craziest thing of all would be if some of the people who have this insane version of you in your heads walk away saying, ‘you know I see the dad in him. I see the guy who loves those kids and is more complex than I’ve been led to believe.” [Megyn Kelly to Alex Jones / BuzzFeed / Charlie Warzel]
- “Donald Trump’s administration did seem to be spiraling out of control, but Pence was — literally and figuratively — 1,400 miles away from the maelstrom in Washington, projecting his de facto stance of serene confidence or willful oblivion, depending on one’s perspective.” [Washington Post / Ashley Parker]
- “Why are these two mega-retailers both trying to sell me shirts? The short answer is because they both want to sell everything.” [NYT / Neil Irwin]
- “The way that we are taught to think about fatness is that fat is not a permanent state. You're just a thin person who's failing consistently for your whole life.” [Lindy West to This American Life / Ira Glass]
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