Martin Selmayr, the European Commission’s new secretary general, is seen in an official portrait, 11 February 2018
Photo: European Commission/Etienne Ansotte
MEPs order inquiry into European Commission appointment, and Donald Trump blocks a semiconductor takeover. Delano’s breakfast briefing.
Selmayr appointment blasted by European Parliament
MEPs have criticised the appointment of Martin Selmayr as the EU’s top civil servant, saying it undermines public trust in the bloc, write Bloomberg, the Financial Times and Reuters. Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, named Selmayr the commission’s secretary general on 1 March. Selmayr had been Juncker’s chief of staff and previously his campaign director. The pro-Brexit MEP Nigel Farage said: “It is the perfect stitch-up--it smacks of nepotism, unaccountable government, abuse of public funds.” Sophia in ’t Veld, a pro-EU Dutch MEP, said naming Selmayr was a “grave error” that displayed a “total lack of political judgment”. The European Parliament voted for its budget committee to start an investigation. Guenther Oettinger, the European budget commissioner, said Selmayr was “100 percent suitable for this position” and the appointment had been handled “by the book”.
Trump blocks Broadcom-Qualcomm deal
US president Donald Trump has blocked the $142bn bid by Broadcom, a Singapore semiconductor firm, to take over Qualcomm, an American chipmaker, as reported by the BBC, Financial Times and New York Times. Trump said the proposed acquisition “threatens to impair the national security of the US”. It is feared that Broadcom would let Huawei, a Chinese telecom equipment giant, take the global top the spot in developing wireless technology. The order also barred Broadcom’s candidates for board directors. Trump similarly cited national security grounds for applying a 25% tariff on steel imports.
No Norman Brexit adverts on Tube
Transport for London, the public transport body, has banned a Brexit-themed advert from the Normandy Development Agency, which promotes the French region’s economy. As the Guardian reported, the proposed poster reads: “If you didn’t vote for Brexit or it’s not right for your business, why not vote with your feet and open an office, or settle a production unit, in Normandy.” TfL said the advert “did not fully comply” with its policies that limit “images or messages which relate to matters of public controversy or sensitivity”.
Bitcoin sentiment tracker
Thomson Reuters, the news and financial data firm, will start tracking online talk about bitcoin, “to help investors looking for an edge in trading the world’s biggest cryptocurrency”, the news agency reported. The new service “will scan over 400 websites, many specific to cryptocurrencies, to capture market-moving sentiment and themes”. Analysts have found a link between online searches for “bitcoin” and movement in the cryptocurrency’s price.
Not ready for global flu outbreak
The world is wholly unprepared to handle the next global flu outbreak or other health pandemic. That’s according to Dr. Jonathan Quick, author of the new book “The End of Epidemics: The Looming Threat to Humanity and How to Stop It”. He told PRI, the American public radio broadcaster: “The flu vaccine is one of the least consistent vaccines we have, because it’s made each year based on the best scientific guesses of what particular strains of flu will hit us.... If we’re right, we get 60 percent effectiveness, at best. When we’re wrong, we’ve gotten as little as 10 percent. We really need a much, much better flu vaccine.”
Blue checkmarks for all Twitter users
Twitter is development a new system to verify all users, according to The Verge. The technology news site quoted Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey as saying during a livestream: “The intention is to open verification to everyone”. Currently the social media firm only adds its blue checkmark to the accounts of high profile users, such as celebrities and politicians.