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Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple see profits climb

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amazon facebook google and apple see profits climb

The big four technology firms have produced a record £29billion in profits and £177billion of sales during the coronavirus pandemic. 

In a blowout set of earnings, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook all reported quarterly results within minutes of each other – unveiling combined revenues of £177billion ($220.28billion) and profits of £29billion ($38billion) for July to September.

The figures stand in stark contrast to the fortunes of many traditional businesses, which have been devastated by the Covid-19 crisis, as consumers flock online to buy goods and switch to working from home. 

Big Tech’s earnings are also continuing to soar despite increased regulatory scrutiny across the four companies – including federal antitrust charges against Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc and user and advertiser boycotts of Facebook Inc. 

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is seen in a file photo. The company on Thursday reported record sales and profits for the quarter ended in September

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is seen in a file photo. The company on Thursday reported record sales and profits for the quarter ended in September

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is seen in a file photo. The company on Thursday reported record sales and profits for the quarter ended in September

Amazon shares initially rose 2 per cent in after-hours trading, but then slumped 1 per cent as the company forecast £3.97billion ($4 billion) in COVID-19 related costs for the fourth quarter

Amazon shares initially rose 2 per cent in after-hours trading, but then slumped 1 per cent as the company forecast £3.97billion ($4 billion) in COVID-19 related costs for the fourth quarter

Amazon shares initially rose 2 per cent in after-hours trading, but then slumped 1 per cent as the company forecast £3.97billion ($4 billion) in COVID-19 related costs for the fourth quarter

Making a fortune: Jeff Bezos – pictured with partner Lauren Sanchez

Making a fortune: Jeff Bezos – pictured with partner Lauren Sanchez

Making a fortune: Jeff Bezos – pictured with partner Lauren Sanchez

On Wednesday, a day before the earnings were published, Republican senators in a virtual Senate commerce committee tongue-lashed Facebook, Google and Twitter, accusing them of censoring conservative content on their platforms.  

Google has also been sued by the Department of Justice for anti-competitive behaviour and Apple is being watched after it emerged that it was charging a premium for companies to advertise through its App Store.   

Amazon said yesterday that its sales surged 37 per cent for the quarter to a record $96.2 billion (£74.4billion), generating a $6.3 billion (£4.87billion) profit, roughly three times its profits from the same period last year. 

Shares in iPhone maker Apple fell by more than four per cent as the firm reported a one per cent rise in revenues to £50billion ($64.7 billion) and a seven per cent drop in profits to £9.8billion ($7billion). 

This was slightly better than expectations but Apple did not offer any forecasts of sales for Christmas, leaving investors in the dark about how well the firm thinks its new iPhone 12 handset will sell. 

Handout photo issued by Apple of Tim Cook during the Apple Event for the unveiling of the iPhone 12 Pro, which was introduced along with the iPhone 12 Pro Max by the technology company earlier this month

Handout photo issued by Apple of Tim Cook during the Apple Event for the unveiling of the iPhone 12 Pro, which was introduced along with the iPhone 12 Pro Max by the technology company earlier this month

Handout photo issued by Apple of Tim Cook during the Apple Event for the unveiling of the iPhone 12 Pro, which was introduced along with the iPhone 12 Pro Max by the technology company earlier this month 

Shares in iPhone maker Apple also fell by more than four per cent as the firm reported a one per cent rise in revenues to £50billion and a seven per cent drop in profits to £9.8billion

Shares in iPhone maker Apple also fell by more than four per cent as the firm reported a one per cent rise in revenues to £50billion and a seven per cent drop in profits to £9.8billion

Shares in iPhone maker Apple also fell by more than four per cent as the firm reported a one per cent rise in revenues to £50billion and a seven per cent drop in profits to £9.8billion

However the company reported a 21 per cent drop in iPhone sales in the July to September quarter, worse than analysts had predicted, with strong sales of its Macbook computers and iPad tablets failing to make up for the decline.  

At the same time, Google parent Alphabet’s shares roared almost eight per cent higher. 

It reported a 14 per cent rise in third-quarter revenues to £35.7billion ($46.1 billion) and a 60 per cent rise in profits to £8.7billion ($11.25 billion). 

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google's Alphabet Inc., is seen as he testifies remotely during a Senate Commerce hearing on Wednesday

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google's Alphabet Inc., is seen as he testifies remotely during a Senate Commerce hearing on Wednesday

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google’s Alphabet Inc., is seen as he testifies remotely during a Senate Commerce hearing on Wednesday 

Google parent Alphabet's shares roared almost eight per cent higher in post-session trading after the firm blew analysts' expectations out of the water

Google parent Alphabet's shares roared almost eight per cent higher in post-session trading after the firm blew analysts' expectations out of the water

Google parent Alphabet’s shares roared almost eight per cent higher in post-session trading after the firm blew analysts’ expectations out of the water

The company, which makes most of its income from digital ads, benefited from higher spending by businesses seeking to attract online shoppers over the summer as well as a 45 per cent rise in sales at its cloud computing division. 

Elsewhere, the return to higher advertising spending by businesses also buoyed the rival ad businesses of social networks Facebook and Twitter. 

Facebook reported a 22 per cent rise in revenues to £16.6billion ($21.2billion) and a 29 per cent rise in profits to £6.1billion ($7.84 billion). 

It said daily users rose 12 per cent to 1.82billion during the quarter.    

Founder and CEO of US online social media and social networking service Facebook Mark Zuckerberg is pictured in February

Founder and CEO of US online social media and social networking service Facebook Mark Zuckerberg is pictured in February

Founder and CEO of US online social media and social networking service Facebook Mark Zuckerberg is pictured in February 

Facebook reported a 22 per cent rise in revenues to £16.6billion and a 29 per cent rise in profits to £6.1billion

Facebook reported a 22 per cent rise in revenues to £16.6billion and a 29 per cent rise in profits to £6.1billion

Facebook reported a 22 per cent rise in revenues to £16.6billion and a 29 per cent rise in profits to £6.1billion

Since the start of the virus outbreak in the United States eight months ago, consumers have turned increasingly to Amazon for delivery of groceries, home goods and medical supplies. 

As brick-and-mortar shops closed their doors under lockdown orders, Amazon moved to recruit over 400,000 more workers and earned the largest profits in its 26-year history.

It has kept the world’s largest online retailer at the center of workplace and political tumult. Democratic politicians this month accused Amazon of holding ‘monopoly power’ over merchants on its platform, which the company disputes. 

Meanwhile, more than 19,000 of Amazon’s U.S. employees contracted COVID-19, and some staff protested for site closures.

Amazon has responded with an array of precautions and a virus testing program for employees that have helped the company stay operational.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive and richest person in the world, said in a press release, ‘We’re seeing more customers than ever shopping early for their holiday gifts, which is just one of the signs that this is going to be an unprecedented holiday season.’

At the same time, logistics costs have been rising in recent months as Amazon worked to cut standard delivery times for Prime loyalty club customers — and the pandemic has only added to its challenges.  

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Friend says Khashoggi ‘threatened’ by Saudi official before death

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friend says khashoggi threatened by saudi official before death

A close friend of Jamal Khashoggi has told a Turkish court on Tuesday that the slain Saudi journalist felt threatened by people close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The main court in Istanbul held a second hearing in the trial in absentia of 26 Saudi suspects in the Washington Post columnist’s high-profile murder — including two former aides to the powerful Saudi crown prince.

The 59-year-old was suffocated and dismembered inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate on October 2, 2018 after going inside to get documents for his marriage to Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz.

The murder sparked an international outcry and tarnished the reputation of the oil-rich kingdom and the crown prince.

Jamal Khashoggi

Jamal Khashoggi

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

A close friend of Jamal Khashoggi (left) has told a Turkish court on Tuesday that the slain Saudi journalist felt threatened by people close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right)

Ayman Nour, an Egyptian political dissident and longtime friend of Khashoggi, told the court that the journalist had described to him being personally threatened by the Saudi media czar.

‘Jamal said he had been threatened by Qahtani and his family,’ Turkish media quoted Nour as telling the court.

‘Nour said Khashoggi had reported being threatened by Saud al-Qahtani since 2016,’ Rebecca Vincent of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) separately tweeted from the courtroom.

‘Khashoggi spoke of a phone call from Qahtani when he was living in Washington DC, saying he knew his kids and where they lived. Nour said Khashoggi was crying, which was unusual, and said he was afraid.’

The Turkish trial is being held separately from a Saudi one that overturned five death sentences issued after a closed-door hearing in September.

The Riyadh court instead jailed eight unidentified people for terms ranging from seven to 20 years in what Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) both called a ‘parody of justice’.

Turkish prosecutors have charged Saudi’s former deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri and the royal court’s one-time media czar Saud al-Qahtani with orchestrating the murder and giving direct orders to a Saudi hit team.

Khashoggi’s fiancee Cengiz also attended Tuesday’s hearing, which was adjourned to March 4.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the order to murder Khashoggi came from ‘the highest levels’ of the Saudi government but has never directly blamed Prince Mohammed.

Relations between the two countries suffered in the wake of Khashoggi’s death.

Ayman Nour (pictured) told the court that the journalist had described to him being personally threatened by the Saudi media czar

Ayman Nour (pictured) told the court that the journalist had described to him being personally threatened by the Saudi media czar

Ayman Nour (pictured) told the court that the journalist had described to him being personally threatened by the Saudi media czar

But Erdogan discussed ways to enhance ties with the prince’s ageing father King Salman on the eve of last weekend’s virtual G20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia.

The Turkish trial is monitored closely by human rights advocates.

Vincent said the Istanbul court rejected RSF’s application to become a civil party in the Khashoggi’s case.

This would have given the Paris-based group broader access to court documents.

‘We were disappointed,’ Vincent told AFP, calling it ‘a missed opportunity to ensure robust international scrutiny.’

‘But regardless we will continue to closely monitor this case and call for adherence to international standards,’ she said.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Ministers ‘plot foreign aid law change’ as Scots Tory Ruth Davidson brands it ‘poor economics’ 

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ministers plot foreign aid law change as scots tory ruth davidson brands it poor economics

Ministers could change the law to cut Britain’s foreign aid budget as part of sweeping economic reforms.

The current rate of 0.7 per cent of GDP was enshrined in law by the Coalition government in 2015, but the current administration wants to cut it to 0.5 per cent.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to outline a raft of economic moves tomorrow when he presents a spending review to help the UK get through the pandemic. 

Boris Johnson is believed to have approved a temporary cut for just a year, but altering the law would allow the target to be lowered more permanently. 

The UK has previously said it would be cutting its global aid budget by £2.9 billion this year due to the economic hit of the coronavirus crisis, but that the 0.7 per cent commitment towards international development would still be met. 

The legal change, first reported by the BBC, comes as politicians and church leaders voice their concern at the plans.

Former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson became the latest to do so today, branding the proposal ‘bad economics’.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to outline a raft of economic moves tomorrow when he presents a spending review to help the UK get through the pandemic

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to outline a raft of economic moves tomorrow when he presents a spending review to help the UK get through the pandemic

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to outline a raft of economic moves tomorrow when he presents a spending review to help the UK get through the pandemic

Politicians and church leaders have voiced their concern at the plans, with former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson branding the proposal 'bad economics'

Politicians and church leaders have voiced their concern at the plans, with former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson branding the proposal 'bad economics'

Politicians and church leaders have voiced their concern at the plans, with former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson branding the proposal ‘bad economics’

Writing in the Times, Ms Davidson, a former critic of Boris Johnson, said: ‘The UK has always believed in shouldering its burden in the world. When famine or natural disaster strike, Britain pitches in. 

‘We’re one of the biggest educators of girls on the planet, support the largest vaccine programmes and do more to return war-ravaged land to civilian use through de-mining programmes than every other nation bar the US.

‘This isn’t simple charity, it benefits us too. Countries with healthy, educated, literate populations – and without huge swathes of unusable land – have higher employment, greater resilience and are more stable. 

‘They are less likely to descend into war or provide home to terrorists and are more likely to prove bigger and more reliable suppliers and consumers for trade.’

The MSP joins the former prime ministers David Cameron and Tony Blair in warning against the move, while Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has also made a significant intervention.

Mr Welby told The Observer: ‘A global recovery from the economic consequences of the pandemic requires a global response. Keeping our aid commitment is a strong signal that the UK is a reliable partner for long-term economic, social, environmental and educational advancement across the globe.’

Mr Cameron, who oversaw the country first meeting the 0.7% target in 2013, said abandoning it would be a ‘moral, strategic and political mistake’.

And Mr Blair said foreign aid – and the 0.7% target – had been a ‘great British soft power achievement’ and that it had saved millions of lives in Africa by reducing deaths from malaria and HIV.

Last week, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman drew attention to the fact the legislation enshrining the 0.7% target in UK law explicitly acknowledged it might not always be met.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has also made a significant intervention, telling the Observer: 'Keeping our aid commitment is a strong signal that the UK is a reliable partner for long-term economic, social, environmental and educational advancement across the globe'

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has also made a significant intervention, telling the Observer: 'Keeping our aid commitment is a strong signal that the UK is a reliable partner for long-term economic, social, environmental and educational advancement across the globe'

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has also made a significant intervention, telling the Observer: ‘Keeping our aid commitment is a strong signal that the UK is a reliable partner for long-term economic, social, environmental and educational advancement across the globe’

Meanwhile, coronavirus has led to a strain on the public purse with the Government spending billions keeping the economy ticking over.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was grilled on the proposed change today int he Commons.

SNP MP Neil Gray asked if now was the right time to be considering cuts to the UK’s aid budget given US president-elect Joe Biden’s commitment to increase aid spending.

Mr Raab replied: ‘Actually, we consistently show that we are a leading, if not one of the leading, countries on aid. That will continue.

‘We’ve also, which will matter to the United States, indicated the increase in defence spending which shows what a dependable ally we are and all of the soundings that we’ve had, and I’ve had, with the incoming leadership show there are huge opportunities on climate change, on Covid, to strengthen the relationship even further.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Mark Meadows tells president’s staff they need permission to speak to members of next administration

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mark meadows tells presidents staff they need permission to speak to members of next administration

Mark Meadows has instructed White House staff not to speak with Joe Biden‘s team, in another sign President Donald Trump‘s team is still not completely complying with the transition despite authorizing it Monday.

‘Unless specifically authorized,’ the White House chief of staff said in a late Monday evening memo seen by Bloomberg that those on Trump’s team ‘are not permitted to speak directly with a member of the Biden transition team or the federal transition coordinator.’

Meadows, however, did say in the memo that the White House would ‘comply with all actions needed to ensure the smooth transfer of power.’

He said that the Trump administration’s work is not yet finished.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows instructed Trump's team not to 'speak directly' with members of the new administration unless given 'specific authorization' to do so

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows instructed Trump's team not to 'speak directly' with members of the new administration unless given 'specific authorization' to do so

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows instructed Trump’s team not to ‘speak directly’ with members of the new administration unless given ‘specific authorization’ to do so

Although the transition process has been authorized, President Donald Trump says this is no where close to a concession that he lost to Joe Biden

Although the transition process has been authorized, President Donald Trump says this is no where close to a concession that he lost to Joe Biden

Although the transition process has been authorized, President Donald Trump says this is no where close to a concession that he lost to Joe Biden

Trump finally allowed the transition to Biden to commence, but the president made it clear he is still not conceding the election and will fight the results to the end.

The General Services Administration ascertained the election for Biden Monday, which Trump said he authorized, meaning the former vice president will now begin to get daily intelligence briefings and communicate with the COVID task force.

‘Remember, the GSA has been terrific, and Emily Murphy has done a great job, but the GSA does not determine who the next President of the United States will be,’ Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. 

The transition could only begin once the GSA recognized the ‘apparent successful candidate.’

Biden began announcing his Cabinet picks on Monday and will formally introduce them during a speech in Delaware on Tuesday afternoon.

Many Republicans were urging the president to allow the transition to begin after GSA Administrator Emily Murphy made it clear she would not sign off on the transition process even after Biden declared victory and most major media outlets called him the victor.

Trump has praised Murphy for holding her ground.

‘I want to thank Emily Murphy at GSA for her steadfast dedication and loyalty to our Country,’ Trump tweeted Monday. ‘She has been harassed, threatened, and abused – and I do not want to see this happen to her, her family, or employees of GSA.’

‘Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good fight, and I believe we will prevail!’ he continued. ‘Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.’

Meadows and other senior Trump aides, including White House Counsel Pat Cipolline, have encouraged the president to allow the transition to begin – even without conceding.

They admitted they could not justify withholding support for the transition any longer.

Trump has launched several legal challenges in swing states that went blue this year, but many have already been thrown out and none have yet prevailed.

General Services Administration Administrator Emily Murphy would not sign off on ascertaining the election for Joe Biden until yesterday ¿ when Trump said he instructed her to give the OK for the transition to begin

General Services Administration Administrator Emily Murphy would not sign off on ascertaining the election for Joe Biden until yesterday ¿ when Trump said he instructed her to give the OK for the transition to begin

General Services Administration Administrator Emily Murphy would not sign off on ascertaining the election for Joe Biden until yesterday – when Trump said he instructed her to give the OK for the transition to begin

36049234 8982147 image a 10 1606229036819

36049234 8982147 image a 10 1606229036819

Trump took credit for the ascertainment, claiming he will allow the transition to begin

Trump took credit for the ascertainment, claiming he will allow the transition to begin

Trump took credit for the ascertainment, claiming he will allow the transition to begin

The president reiterated on Twitter that the transition did not mean his concession – still insisting it will be revealed he is the true winner.

‘What does GSA being allowed to preliminarily work with the Dems have to do with continuing to pursue our various cases on what will go down as the most corrupt election in American political history?’ he asked.

The post was flagged as disputed by Twitter.

Trump continued on Monday evening; ‘We are moving full speed ahead. Will never concede to fake ballots & ‘Dominion’.’

Dominion Voting Systems spoke out Sunday saying it is ‘not physically possible’ for its machines to change voter selections.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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