WSJ-27-04-2019.pdf - WSJ Are the Humanities Really Dying REVIEW Vacation With The Famous THE WALL STREET JOURNAL WEEKEND Overall 1Q GDP rose more than

WSJ-27-04-2019.pdf - WSJ Are the Humanities Really Dying...

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Unformatted text preview: WSJ Are the Humanities Really Dying? REVIEW . Vacation With The Famous THE WALL STREET JOURNAL WEEKEND Overall 1Q GDP rose more than expected What’s News The increase beat projections GDP, annualized quarterly change Macroeconomic Advisers 1Q : 3.2% 4 Atlanta Fed's GDPNow tracker 3.5% 3 World-Wide 3.0 2.5 2 N RA leader LaPierre has told the group’s board he is being extorted and pressured to resign by the organization’s president, Oliver North, over allegations of financial improprieties. A1  Trump said in a speech before the NRA that he would withdraw the U.S. as a signatory to a global arms treaty that Obama supported but Congress never ratified. A2  China’s Xi pledged fresh backing for the liberalization of his country’s economy in ways the Trump administration has demanded. A6  The president, meeting with Abe at the White House, said that Japanese tariffs on U.S. farm products must be lifted. A6  Sri Lankan authorities confirmed that a radical preacher who inspired a series of Easter bombings died during the attack. A7  Maria Butina, the Russian woman who pleaded guilty to being part of an effort to influence U.S. policy, drew an 18-month sentence. A4  Families from China were among those who allegedly paid the most in the college-admissions scandal. A3  The Archdiocese of New York released a list of clergy described as credibly accused of sexual abuse. A3 Business & Finance  The U.S. economy started 2019 with a pop, as gross domestic product rose at a 3.2% annual rate in the first quarter despite multiple headwinds. A1  The S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose to fresh records, boosted by U.S. economic data. The Dow also gained. B13  Big oil companies are posting underwhelming firstquarter profits as they face geopolitical challenges and weaker commodity prices. A1  Tesla’s Musk reached a deal with the SEC that would eliminate the risk of him being held in contempt over his previous use of Twitter. B1  The Justice Department opened a criminal investigation into how Ford certifies its vehicles to meet U.S. emissions standards. B1  Startup uBiome is under scrutiny from law enforcement and insurers over billing practices. A3  Slack published plans for its unusual IPO, detailing financial results. B13  Renault wants to officially bring to the bargaining table a proposal to merge with Nissan. B3  Apple held talks with Intel about acquiring parts of its smartphone-modem chip business. B3 How Trump Lost Half Of Washington NOONAN, A13 CONTENTS Books..................... C7-12 Design & Decor. D8-9 Food......................... D6-7 Gear & Gadgets... D10-11 Heard on Street...B14 Obituaries................. A9 Opinion............... A11-13 Sports....................... A14 Style & Fashion D2-3 Travel...................... D4-5 U.S. News............ A2-4 Weather................... A14 World News....... A6-8 > s 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved WSJ.com SATURDAY/SUNDAY, APRIL 27 - 28, 2019 ~ VOL. CCLXXIII NO. 98 * * * * * * * * 5% OFF DUTY 2.0 1.5 1 1.0 0.5 0 2016 2017 2018 2019 Jan. Feb. March April Much of that growth was driven by net exports... ...and strong investment in inventories... ...while consumer spending gains moderated... ...and soft inflation supported the GDP growth. Pct.-point contribution to GDP 2 Pct.-point contribution to GDP 2 Annualized quarterly change 5% PCE price index* 3% 4 2 3 1 2 0 –1 1 –1 –2 0 –2 1 1 0 0 –1 –2 2015 ’16 ’17 ’18 ’19 2015 ’16 ’17 ’18 ’19 2015 ’16 ’17 ’18 ’19 2015 Annualized quarterly change ’16 ’17 ’18 ’19 Note: GDP adjusted for inflation and seasonality Sources: Commerce Department (GDP, exports, inventories, consumer spending, inflation); Macroeconomic Advisers by IHS Markit, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (projections) Taylor Umlauf and Max Rust/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL Economy Grows at 3.2% Rate, Shrugging Off Slowdown Fears BY HARRIET TORRY WASHINGTON—The U.S. economy started 2019 with a pop, growing rapidly despite multiple headwinds, including deweaker domestic mand, suggesting the current expansion has more room to run in its 10th year. Gross domestic product— the value of all goods and services produced in the U.S., adjusted for inflation and at a seasonality—rose 3.2% annual rate from January through March, the strongest rate of first-quarter growth in four years, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Rising exports, falling imports and higher inventory investment drove much of the growth, helping to offset weaker gains in consumer spending and business investment. The strong report marked a turnaround from a gloomy start to the year, when the economy looked close to stalling due to challenges including a partial U.S. government shutdown, market turmoil in late 2018 and slowing global growth. The outlook brightened as the Federal Reserve shelved plans to raise interest rates this year, the shutdown ended in late January, stocks started climbing toward new highs, and the global picture improved as China’s growth in the first quarter beat expectations. President Trump, who had pledged to lift U.S. economic growth to a sustained annual pace of 3% or better, welcomed the 3.2% figure, calling it “an incredible number” Friday. “We have great growth China’s Top Cop Led Interpol. Then He Disappeared. Low Prices Hit Oil Giants BY BRADLEY OLSON AND REBECCA ELLIOTT 0 1Q 2015 HHHH $5.00 and also very, very low inflation,” Mr. Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews. His top economist, Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett, told The Wall Street Journal the report “confirms our view that the momentum from last year was not a sugar high but a serious response to long-run policies that have made the U.S. a more attractive place for business.” Please turn to page A2  S&P 500, Nasdaq close at record levels............................. B13 The world’s largest oil companies are reporting underwhelming first-quarter profits during a time of geopolitical challenges and weaker global commodity prices. Sanctions in Venezuela, production cuts in Canada and lower natural-gas prices in Asia took a toll on Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and other companies. The business of refining crude, one of the most reliable profit centers in the industry during the past five years, was especially hard-hit. The anemic results added to concerns about the direction of crude prices, where lackluster demand, excess gasoline and a buildup of oil in storage led analysts to question whether a market rally of more than 40% this year may soon come to a close. U.S. oil prices reported their largest one-day decline in dollar terms since Christmas Eve, falling 2.9%, or $1.91, to close at $63.30. The decline followed remarks by President Trump, who told reporters that he “called up OPEC” and asked the group to help lower fuel costs. Mr. Trump, on Twitter, has repeatedly asked the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to increase production and lower Please turn to page A8  Crude prices sink after president’s remarks.............. B13  Heard on the Street: Is big oil’s shale bet a mistake?... B14 EXCHANGE A DRASTIC PLAN TO STOP FIRES: UNPLUG CALIFORNIA He was expected to help Beijing fight graft but got arrested himself BY DREW HINSHAW AND BRADLEY HOPE Communist Party ideals. Then, his Chinese support staff at Interpol’s Lyon headquarters stopped answering their phones. Next, a phone call from a male voice threatened her in Chinese. “Don’t talk, just listen,” he said. “We have two teams coming for you.” Her home security alarm went off several times that day. Ms. Meng asked a Polish Interpol officer she knew to meet her in the back of a Lyon charcuterie shop, where she laid out her worries: The Chinese government jailed my husband and is trying to kidnap me. In China’s long bid to gain greater influence on the global stage, placing a senior cop at the top of Interpol was meant to be a diplomatic achievement. China wanted a bigger role in the world of international law enforcement. It also wanted Interpol’s help reeling in fugitives facing charges of alleged corruption back home, Please turn to page A10 LYON, France—Nine days after her husband disappeared on a routine trip to China, Grace Meng frantically dialed a contact at Interpol, the global police agency, to report him as a missing person. His name? Meng Hongwei. Job title? President of Interpol. Ms. Meng, the wife of the senior Communist Party member, had received an ominous alert from her husband, one of the world’s top cops. His last text to her, at 12:30 p.m. on the September day he arrived in Beijing, was “wait for my call” followed by a butcher knife emoji. The message was clear to her. He had run afoul of China’s powerful president and was heading to prison. For a week she hoped for his release, likely accompanied by an apology for falling short of Drive-Ins Struggle to Keep Audience in the Dark i i i Theaters face new bête noire: cars with automatic lighting BY CHRIS KORNELIS BREMERTON, Wash.—Previews were beginning before a showing of “Pet Sematary” at the Rodeo Drive-In, and the headlights on a Chevy Silverado, its bed facing the screen, were lighting up the cars in the rows behind. Just as manager Cheryl Ondracek reached the vehicle, the lights went out. She asked the couple covered in blankets in the back of the truck to be sure not to open their doors during the movie. If they did, the lights would go back on. The customers were obliging. “We’re not gonna touch it,” the man said. Lights out, please Then the movie began, and accompanying it were a host of other lights in the lot— parking lights, dashboard lights, interior-door lights—all of which refused to go dark. “And that happens all night long,” Ms. Ondracek says. At her three-screen, 1,000-car drive-in, she sometimes has to tape garbage bags over vehicles’ running lights. She is consider- ing making headlight covers. The nation’s changing entertainment landscape has reduced the number of drive-ins in the U.S. to just a fraction compared with their heyday. The hardy survivors now face a new bête noire: lights from new cars that won’t turn off. New cars have other issues for drive-ins: radios customers use to listen to the movies turn off automatically and batteries are worn down by customers who don’t know how to put their ignition in auxiliary. The most visible problems revolve around lights. Lots and lots of lights. There are interior lights, Please turn to page A8 Extortion Allegation Riles Top NRA Ranks BY MARK MAREMONT Longtime National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre has told the group’s board he is being extorted and pressured to resign by the organization’s president, Oliver North, over allegations of financial improprieties, in a battle stirring up one of the nation’s most powerful nonprofit political groups. In a letter sent to NRA board members late Thursday afternoon, Mr. LaPierre, the group’s CEO and executive vice president, said he refused the demand. Instead he called on board members to “see this for what it is: a threat meant to intimidate and divide us.” Mr. North sent his own letter to the board late Thursday evening, in which he said his actions were for the good of the NRA and that he was forming a crisis committee to examine financial matters inside the organization, according to people familiar with its contents. Mr. North previously had sent a longer letter to the board’s executive committee detailing new allegations of financial improprieties involving more than $200,000 of wardrobe purchases by Mr. LaPierre that were charged to a vendor, according to the Please turn to page A2 A2 | Saturday/Sunday, April 27 - 28, 2019 THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. * ***** U.S. NEWS U.S. Backing Out of Arms-Trade Treaty INDIANAPOLIS—President Trump said he would withdraw the U.S. as a signatory to a global arms treaty that President Obama supported but Congress never ratified. “We will never surrender American sovereignty to anyone,” Mr. Trump declared Friday at a speech before the National Rifle Association. The Arms Trade Treaty seeks to regulate the international sale of conventional weapons. It was approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013 and signed that year by Mr. Obama, but the pact has never been ratified by Congress. Mr. Trump signed a letter Friday asking the Senate to return the unratified document to the White House. The NRA, a key backer of Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign, was a leading opponent of the treaty, arguing it could impinge on the rights of American gun owners. The treaty has been ratified by 101 countries, including the member states of the European LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS BY ZUSHA ELINSON AND BEN KESLING President Trump held up an executive order as he announced the treaty withdrawal on Friday. Union, but a senior administration official noted that China and Russia aren’t parties to it. While some U.S. conservatives say the treaty could open the door to stricter gun regulations, some people familiar with the document say it has no effect at home. “The treaty has no impact whatsoever on Second Amendment rights of U.S. citizens,” said Thomas Countryman, a former assistant secretary of state who was the lead U.S. negotiator for the treaty. “The U.S. has long been the leader in saying there has to be a careful process of deciding on arms exports so they don’t go to regimes that the Continued from Page One people. One of those people described Mr. LaPierre’s letter as an “angry reaction” to Mr. North’s longer letter. The behind-the-scenes brawl is taking place amid the gun-rights group’s big annual meeting, at which President Trump spoke Friday. Insiders say matters will come to a head by Monday, when the NRA’s full 76-member board is set to meet. The fight stems in part from a dispute between the NRA and its longtime advertising firm, Ackerman McQueen Inc., which resulted in a lawsuit filed by the NRA earlier this month. In the suit, the group claimed Ackerman McQueen had refused to provide records justifying its billings. Ackerman McQueen has called the lawsuit “frivolous” and “inaccurate.” One of the NRA’s claims was that for months it had been stymied in attempts to get details of the ad firm’s contract with Mr. North, a former Marine Corps officer and Iran-Contra figure who hosts a documentary program on NRATV produced by Ackerman McQueen. According to Mr. LaPierre’s letter to board members, which The Wall Street Journal has reviewed, Mr. North called an NRA senior staffer Wednesday to convey a message to the NRA chief. In the call, according to the letter, Mr. North said that unless Mr. LaPierre resigned, Ackerman McQueen was prepared to Economy Regains Momentum Continued from Page One Many economists cautioned that some of the contributors to first-quarter growth could prove temporary. Trade, for instance, played a large role, as exports rose while imports declined, a positive for growth since exports boost GDP while imports reduce it. Analysts said firms boosted imports in late 2018 ahead of anticipated increases in trade tariffs, which didn’t materialize due to progress in U.S.-China trade talks, leading to a drop in the first quarter. Inventory investment also contributed strongly to U.S. growth, a factor that could dent the second quarter if companies draw down on stockpiles rather than place new orders. Measures of underlying demand were also muted. After stripping out the volatile categories of trade, inventories and government spending, sales to private domestic buyers rose at an annual rate of 1.3%—half the rate of the prior quarter and a DANIEL ACKER/BLOOMBERG NEWS (PHOTOS) Feuding Leaders Roil NRA Wayne LaPierre, top, CEO of the National Rifle Association, has accused the NRA’s current president, Oliver North, of extortion. send a letter to the NRA board that would be “bad for me, two other members of my executive team and the Association.” The letter, Mr. LaPierre wrote the board, “would contain a devastating account of our financial status, sexual harassment charges against a staff member, accusations of wardrobe expenses and excessive staff travel expenses.” Mr. LaPierre added that after the call “others informed me that I needed to withdraw the NRA lawsuit against [Ackerman McQueen] or be smeared.” A spokesman for Ackerman far slower pace than the overall GDP growth number. The housing sector was a drag on growth for the fifth straight quarter. Consumer spending, which makes up two-thirds of economic activity, rose at a mere 1.2% rate in the first quarter, down from a stronger 2.5% in the fourth quarter of 2018. Americans reined in purchases of big-ticket items such as vehicles. “Spending slowed to a crawl,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, adding: “It’s a report that affirms we did in fact have weak domestic demand.” Still, she and other economists expect consumer spending to pick up this spring after seeing strong retail sales growth in March. Unemployment remains low, incomes and wages are rising, and consumer sentiment remains robust, which all underpin solid spending in the months ahead. While Ford Motor Co.’s vehicle sales declined 1.6% in the first quarter, U.S. sales chief Mark LaNeve expressed optimism they would pick up over the rest of the year during a call with analysts in early April. “The consumer is in great shape,” he said, adding that “if you simplify a lot of the data, people have a job and some level of income growth or [are] at least optimistic about their prospects for employment and income growth. They tend to buy vehicles.” JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Jamie Dimon expressed a similar outlook during an April 12 earnings call, saying, “People are going back to the workforce. Companies have plenty of capital.” He added that “business confidence and consumer confidence are both rather high…it Rising incomes and wages are expected to underpin solid spending ahead. could go on for years. There’s no law that says it has to stop.” The economic expansion, which began under President Obama in mid-2009, is set to become the longest on record in the second half of 2019. Friday’s report offered evidence of solid, but not accelerating, corporate demand. Nonresidential fixed investment— which reflects business spending on software, research and development, equipment McQueen said it would have no comment. William A. Brewer III, an outside attorney for the NRA, said, “many of the issues raised by Col. North have been the subject of review and investigation by the NRA since early last year. In our view, the items involving Mr. LaPierre may reflect a misinformed view of his and the NRA’s commitment to good governance.” The letter also claims that Mr. North told the NRA staffer the letter wouldn’t be sent if Mr. LaPierre promptly resigned. If Mr. LaPierre supported Mr. North’s continued tenure as NRA president, the letter claimed, Mr. North stated he could negotiate an “excellent retirement” package for the NRA chief. Mr. LaPierre wrote that the threat was couched, “in the parlance of extortionists, as an offer I couldn’t refuse. I refused it.” In the letter, Mr. LaPierre said Mr. North was paid “millions of dollars annually” by Ackerman McQueen, for a dozen episodes of his series, “Oliver North’s American Heroes.” But only three episodes have been delivered thus far, Mr. LaPierre wrote, and the NRA has demanded to know what it is paying for “in light of these production shortfalls.” Ackerman McQueen “appears to have responded indirectly by trying to oust me,” Mr. LaPierre wrote. The dispute pits two highprofile conservative figures against each other. Mr. LaPierre has headed the NRA for close to 30 years. Mr. North is a conservative folk hero from his tenure in the 1980s on the National Security Council and his role in the Iran-Contra scandal. —Zusha Elinson contributed to this article. and structures—rose at a 2.7% rate, pulling back from 5.4% in the fourth quarter. Inflation slowed in the first quarter, the Commerce Department reported, a factor likely ...
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