New England Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Charged with Two Counts of Soliciting Prostitution

Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, has been charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution in Florida.

Kraft, whose holdings also include Gillette Stadium, an eSports team, and International Forest Products, was charged by police in Jupiter, Fla. for paying for sexual services at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, one of 10 facilities that were recently shut down after an investigation found women were kept there in “sexual servitude.”

Women, largely from China, were not permitted to leave the spa, according to Martin County Sheriff Will Snyder. The acts, including Kraft’s, were recorded on surveillance video.

While he’s best known for his business dealings in Massachusetts, Kraft lives part time in Palm Beach County, which includes Jupiter. He has a net worth of $4.36 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index.

Kraft is among more than two dozen individuals being charged in the sting. He is not currently in custody, but police in Florida say an arrest warrant is being issued for him.

A spokesperson for Kraft, in a statement reported by the Associated Press, said they “categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity. Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further.”

Kraft has been dating 39-year-old actress Ricki Noel Lander since 2012. His wife, Myra, died in 2011.

The Patriots have not yet publicly commented on Kraft’s arrest, nor if or how it will affect his relationship with the team. Two years ago, however, Jerry Richardson, then-owner of the Charlotte Panthers, put the team up for sale when he was caught up in an NFL investigation of workplace misconduct. Hedge fund manager David Tepper bought the team the following year.

The Patriots, though, have played in 10 Super Bowls since Kraft bought the team, winning six, including this month.

Time’s Up CEO Lisa Borders Resigned Because Her Son’s Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Time’s Up CEO and president Lisa Borders’ resignation earlier this week was prompted by accusations of sexual misconduct against her son.

Borders, who joined the anti-harassment and gender parity advocacy group in October, announced her resignation Monday, citing “family concerns.”

In a Friday statement on Twitter, Time’s Up–started by hundreds of Hollywood women in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal–further clarified her resignation. “Lisa Borders informed members of Time’s Up leadership that sexual assault allegations had been made against her son in a private forum.” Borders reportedly decided to resign within 24 hours of informing the organization and they “agreed that it was the right decision for all parties involved.”

The Los Angeles Times reported Friday, a woman alleged that Borders’ son “violated” her after offering her a “healing session.” Garry “Dijon” Bowden Jr. allegedly “touched her genitalia, kissed her neck and brushed his erect but clothed penis against her body during the session.” Bowden has denied the allegations.

Borders reportedly volunteered to step down, recognizing the situation could undermine the organization’s mission. The organization’s COO, Rebecca Goldman, will serve as interim CEO.

Borders joined Time’s Up as its first CEO after earlier serving as president of the WNBA. The organization launched in January 2018 in response to sexual assault allegations against Weinstein, a film producer and co-founder of the entertainment company Miramax.

Time’s Up is intended to serve as a means for women to raise their voices on behalf of others who lack power. It has since expanded to focus on gender parity and workplace safety as well.

Jussie Smollett Has Been Cut From ‘Empire’s’ Final Episodes of the Season

Jussie Smollett won’t be seen on Empire again this season. And, at this point, it’s a toss up as to whether the character of Jamal will make it back at all.

Series executives said they removed Smollett from the final episodes of the show’s fifth season following his arrest Thursday morning, as Variety reports. Chicago police say the actor staged an assault on himself in an effort to increase his salary on the hit show.

“The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us” said series executives in a statement released Friday. “Jussie has been an important member of our Empire family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season.”

Fox has not addressed whether Smollett will return to the series, assuming it is picked up for another season. That decision likely rests on how the charges against him play out.

Chicago authorities say Smollett was “dissatisfied with his salary” and “took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career”. Police officials say he paid $3,500 to two Nigerian brothers to stage the attack. The two brothers are cooperating in the investigation. Smollett reportedly earned $125,000 per episode.

Smollett has denied the charges and maintains his innocence. On Thursday, after being released on bail, the actor returned to the Empire set and apologized to the cast and crew.

House Democrats Take First Step in Thwarting Trump’s National Emergency Over Wall

Democrats in the U.S. House filed a resolution on Friday seeking to block President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration to build a wall on the southern U.S. border.

The Democratic-led House will consider a resolution to disapprove of the emergency declaration quickly, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said, and it will be sent over to the Senate as a privileged resolution, which means it will have to get a vote on the Senate floor within 18 days of House passage.

The resolution is the opening salvo in the next phase of conflict between a Republican president and Democrats who capitalized on Trump’s unpopularity to take back the House last November. While Democrats have expressed the desire to get started on their policy agenda, they have also been eager to act as a check on Trump.

Trump last week signed an emergency declaration to divert certain military funding for wall construction, after Congress approved only $1.375 billion of the $5.7 billion he sought in a bipartisan budget bill. The president plans to unilaterally shift nearly $7 billion in federal funds to construct physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The resolution should easily pass the House, and could pick up enough Republican votes to pass in the Senate. Several Republican Senators, including Susan Collins of Maine, Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky have expressed doubt about the emergency declaration, and the measure could get enough GOP votes to pass the Senate.

Trump has, however, said he’d veto the measure. Overriding the veto requires a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate. That will be a difficult threshold to overcome given the reluctance of most congressional Republicans to defy Trump, who maintains solid support among GOP voters.

The resolution presents a potential political headache for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, who previously said the hoped Trump would avoid using emergency powers to get more money for a wall.

But last week, as Congress faced a deadline to pass a spending bill to avoid another government shutdown, McConnell said on the Senate floor that he told the president he will support the emergency declaration.

In addition to the resolution from the House, 16 states have filed a lawsuit challenging the declaration. The House could also pursue its own legal challenge.

Kim Jong Un’s Game Plan: Get Donald Trump Alone

Ever since he met Kim Jong Un in Singapore last year, President Donald Trump has shown a tendency the North Korean leader is sure to try and exploit: making unexpected concessions in one-on-one meetings.

There was the December phone call with Turkey’s president, when Trump surprised his own aides — and prompted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s resignation — by suddenly agreeing to pull troops out of Syria. And last year’s joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, when Trump all but dismissed his own intelligence community’s findings on Russian hacking of the 2016 election.

Heading into next week’s summit with Kim in Hanoi, the president’s top advisers will seek to ensure no last-minute giveaways happen this time around. But for North Korea, the president’s habit of making concessions on the fly presents an opportunity that’s likely to lead negotiators from Pyongyang to disregard the president’s staff to focus on what he might offer.

“They do look to get President Trump in a room and see what they might get out of him,” said Christopher Hill, the North Korea negotiator under President George W. Bush. “If Singapore is any indication, the president seeks to want to negotiate everything himself.”

When the two leaders met last June in Singapore, Trump accepted a vaguely worded statement about “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” In exchange, he had already given Kim a priceless public relations victory just by agreeing to talks. Trump also extended a suspension of major joint military exercises with South Korea, even adopting North Korea’s terminology on those drills — calling them “war games” and “provocative.”

Kim and his team seem to be betting on a repeat. A senior Trump administration official, who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations, said North Korean officials have so far given little away in their meetings with the top U.S. envoy for the talks, Stephen Biegun. The official said the fear is that Kim will make an offer to Trump that sounds good at the moment, inspiring the president to sacrifice something in return that goes too far.

Those fears have largely focused on the fate of about 30,000 U.S troops stationed in South Korea. Kim could seek to exploit Trump’s own professed distaste for overseas deployments to extract a commitment to withdraw some or all of them as part of a deal to secure a peace agreement.

The U.S. and South Korea recently concluded weeks of bruising negotiations that got President Moon Jae-in’s government to increase its payments for hosting American troops, but Trump and his team have indicated they want Seoul to do more.

“I could see Kim saying, ‘South Korea is reluctant to pay for the troops so why don’t you withdraw them?”‘ said David Maxwell, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former special forces colonel in South Korea. “It’s most important we disabuse him of that notion that he can make a deal without the working-level foundation.”

Observers such as Maxwell point to a range of evidence to suggest this is North Korea’s strategy. They cite a refusal to meet with Biegun for months after he was named the lead U.S. negotiator in August 2018.

Biegun got his first formal meetings in January, and complex talks on an agreement from the summit got underway only recently, just a few weeks before Trump and Kim meet. And while the window to achieve anything of substance is short, that didn’t stop the president from agreeing to a second summit where pressure will be high to move beyond the vague agreements from Singapore.

To be sure, ever since his early real estate days, the president has believed he’s the best negotiator in any room, and the intimacy of a one-on-one chat is often where he thinks he can get the best deal. Trump has said he and Kim “fell in love” last year and that North Korea has enormous economic potential under Kim.

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said Thursday in an interview with NBC’s “Today” show that the president and his team remain focused on the end goal of “complete denuclearization” of North Korea and that the main U.S. leverage, UN-backed sanctions, will remain in place until then.

North Korea has shown a preference for Trump, with Pompeo facing a fraught trip to Pyongyang in July where North Korea issued a harsh statement after he left and then it canceled a meeting with him planned for November at the last minute. In December, North Korea’s official media accused the State Department of slander “out of sheer malice” and praised Trump for availing “himself of every possible occasion to state his willingness to improve DPRK-U.S. relations. “

“I don’t want to get into the negotiations, what we might give up, what they might give up,” Pompeo said. But when it comes to sanctions, “we won’t release that pressure until such time as we’re confident that we’ve substantially reduced that risk,” he added.

More generally, the administration defends Trump’s negotiating style, underscoring that decades of negotiations at lower levels by previous Republican and Democratic administrations failed to produce lasting agreements.

“This is a top-down approach with the chairman and the president meeting directly and that allows for a breadth of action, frankly, that if successful could fundamentally transform relations between our two countries,” State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said this week.

‘Guardedly Optimistic’

Supporters of the president’s diplomacy argue that by agreeing to a second summit, Kim will also be under pressure from Pyongyang’s elite to show that negotiating with Trump has been worthwhile, even if sanctions remain. They also argue that the delay in meeting Biegun may have nothing to do with the U.S. and be part of some internal power play within North Korea.

“I’m guardedly optimistic on the summit,” said Joseph DeTrani, former head of the National Nonproliferation Center, a part of the U.S. intelligence community. “There’s so much that could be put on the table that would include true substance.”

In a call with reporters on Thursday, two senior administration officials, who asked not to be identified discussing plans for the summit, confirmed that the event will include a one-on-one meeting between Trump and Kim. They ruled out the idea that the U.S. was prepared to discuss reducing troop levels.

That has done little to reassure critics of the president’s approach.

“We know who Donald trump is, we’ve seen two years of this, and we’ve seen where Kim and the North Koreans are trying to go,” said Laura Rosenberger, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States who advised President Barack Obama on North Korea policy. “The question is: How do we manage the risk, how do we walk away with the least bad outcome?”

The Amy Winehouse Hologram Tour Is on Hold Due to ‘Unique Challenges’

An Amy Winehouse hologram was set to tour later this year with a live band–but the tour has since been postponed. BASE Hologram, the company developing the tour, said in a statement that the delay was due to “some unique challenges and sensitivities.”

In a further statement to Billboard, BASE chairman and CEO Brian Becker said the production was a “cross between a Broadway show and a concert spectacle which requires creative engineering.”

He added that in order to keep their promise to “celebrate [Amy’s] life in the most respectful way possible” the company was “putting the tour on hold while we plot out a creatively spectacular production fitting of her remarkable career.”

The late singer’s family has been supportive of the tour, though some questioned whether it would be ethical.

Catherine Allen, who founded the arts venue virtual reality platform Limina Immersive and is an expert in VR ethics told the Guardian last year that moving forward, the conversation around holograms and consent will be a “hot topic.” Allen said: “As long as the person has consented it’s fine. And this is where it gets tricky with Amy.”

BASE announced last October that it was launching the tour in partnership with Winehouse’s estate. Early plans for the tour included raising money for the Amy Winehouse Foundation, which works to combat drug and alcohol abuse among young people.

Amy Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning in 2011 at the age of 27 after struggling with substance abuse and addiction.

Who Is Kelly Craft, Frontrunner for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations?

U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft is emerging as the frontrunner to replace U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who resigned in December.

Craft as a UN contender comes after State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert withdrew her name over the weekend as Haley’s successor.

A Kentucky native, Craft is backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, also from the Bluegrass State, and she has the support of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as well as national security advisor John Bolton. However, President Donald Trump–who makes the decision–is reportedly considering Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and former Senate candidate John James of Michigan.

Ambassador to Canada since August 2017, Craft has public and private sector experience. She’s served on several boards in Kentucky, including the Center for Rural Development and the Salvation Army of Lexington, according to her State Department biography. Craft co-founded the Morehead State University Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics and founded a marketing and business advisory firm.

Craft and her husband, Joe Craft, are among the biggest Republican financial donors in Kentucky.

Craft was previously a member of the U.S. delegation to the UN General Assembly under President George W. Bush. She also has personal ties to McConnell–she is friends with his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

 

AutoNation CEO Unloads on Tesla, Elon Musk

Mike Jackson will step down as CEO of AutoNation, the country’s largest auto dealer chain, in March, but he’s getting a few things off his chest first–specifically, some thoughts on Elon Musk.

Jackson, speaking on CNBC’s Squawk Box Friday morning, ripped into Musk and Tesla once again, especially the entrepreneur’s recent claim that Tesla will have all the features needed for a fully self driving car before the end of the year.

“I think he is overpromising on autonomous vehicles in an almost unethical way,” said Jackson.

He was no less forthcoming over Tesla’s pre-order practices, accusing the company of advertising the car at $35,000, but building different, more expensive, models instead.

“I think his bait and switch approach on selling the Model 3 where he takes hundreds of thousands of dollars in preorders at $35,000, and then does an auction where … he’ll build your vehicle for you, if you’re willing to pay a higher price. There’s not another retailer in America that could get away with that bait and switch,” he said.

Nor did he resist the urge to take a shot at Musk’s SEC troubles due to his posts on Twitter.

“I’m very proud that I can tweet without having to go through legal and I don’t have to recall my tweets,” he said.

Jackson has headed AutoNation for 20 years. He announced his departure as part of the company’s earnings announcement Friday morning. Carl Liebert, former chief operating officer at financial services company USAA, will take over the role on March 11.

Markets Are Global, Payments Are Local

If you stroll the downtown of the world’s major cities, you’ll see many of the same stores. Yet even as retailers become more global, the way people pay for things still varies dramatically from country to country. According to Kamran Zaki, an executive at payment provider Adyen, this is partly owing to regulation and legacy systems but is also tied to culture: In short, we like to use the payment method we grew up with, even if a newer technology is available. But online payments are just as varied. Here are three ways that online consumers around the world pay for goods.

Brazil
In South America’s biggest market, millions of people make online purchases with Boleto, an off-line installment method. This involves printing a bar code and trotting down to a local store or lottery stand to make a cash payment. The bar code is scanned, and once the item is paid off, the merchant ships it or lets the customers pick it up in a store. Adyen says Boleto accounts for up to 80% of online payments. It’s popular in part because 35% of Brazilians lack a bank account.

The Netherlands
Many Northern Europeans shun credit cards. This is partly the result of a cultural aversion to debt but also because regulations make it impractical for credit card issuers to offer the lavish spending rewards found in North America. So debit cards are especially popular. In the Netherlands, the majority of online transactions are carried out with a system called iDEAL that directs shoppers away from a merchant’s page to an online banking site. After entering an ID and a password, shoppers return to the merchant to complete the transaction.

China
When Chinese consumers want to buy something, it’s very likely the transaction will involve their mobile phone. Digital wallet services like Alipay and WeChat/-Tenpay dominate the spending landscape, so much so that luxury retailers in the U.S. and Europe make a point of ensuring the payment platforms are available for Chinese tourists.

This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of Fortune.

Data Sheet—Looks Like Cord Cutting Just Broke Another Record

Altice USA, the cable mothership of Optimum and Suddenlink that sucked up Cablevision a few years ago, reported decent financial results on Thursday. But the report also marks the final public disclosure we needed to assess the state of cord cutting at the end of 2018. Altice revealed a net loss of 15,000 cable TV customers in the fourth quarter. We already knew that Charter lost 36,000, Comcast shed 29,000, and Verizon 46,000 for the same period. AT&T lost 391,000 for both cable and satellite TV and satellite-only provider Dish Network shrank by 334,000. Net net, that’s 851,000 fewer paying customers for pay TV.

It looks like the legions of cord cutters set a new record for the quarter and are up significantly from a year ago, when one research firm calculated almost 500,000 departed, at the time a historic high.

And there’s more bad news for the industry. Unlike last year, the number of people signing up for cable-like bundles of channels over the Internet also may be shrinking now. Most of the services, such as Sony’s Playstation Vue TV and Google’s YouTube TV, don’t disclose their subscriber numbers regularly, if at all. But AT&T does, and it revealed a net loss of 267,000 DirecTV Now subscribers in the quarter. Dish, which also discloses for its Sling TV service, increased by just 47,000, about one-quarter the gain of a year earlier. Most of the Internet cable packages raised prices by $5 or more a month during the year, cutting into their appeal to cord cutters–most of whom, after all, are motivated by trying to save money.

This year could be even more significant as two of the most anticipated new Internet streaming services finally arrive. Disney is planning to lean heavily on its “iconic brands and franchises,” in the words of CEO Bob Iger, when it launches its Disney+ service later this year. More details are expected at an April 11 investor day, including maybe the price. (Iger has promised to undercut Netflix.) Apple is relying on outside talent–everyone from Reese Witherspoon to Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg–for its as-yet unnamed offering that is rumored to be officially announced on March 25. Both services obviously will offer TV fans even more reason to drop traditional pay-TV. Expect to hear about another record year of cord cutting a year from now.

Aaron Pressman
@ampressman
aaron.pressman@fortune.com

NEWSWORTHY

Pre-disrupted. German automakers Daimler and BMW last year agreed to partner on creating car-sharing services. On Friday, the pair of rivals announced they would invest $1.1 billion in five separate joint ventures: Reach Now for multimodal services, Charge Now for car charging, Free Now for ride hailing, Park Now for parking, and Share Now for car sharing.

I’ll be the judge of that. After being hit by a variety of employee controversies, Google announced on Thursday that it would no longer force workers into arbitration for discrimination or other complaints. The company had already abandon last year forced arbitration for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints.

Twists and turns. On the Apple beat, two interesting rumors. The company is said to be working with Goldman Sachs on a credit card with special features for iPhone users that could be linked to Goldman’s online bank Marcus. And Apple is getting ready to dump Intel chips from its Mac computers as soon as next year in favor of desktop and laptop chips of its own design, Axios reports.

Unplugged. Consumer Reports stopped recommending the Tesla Model 3, citing reliability issues after owners reported loose trim and defects in the sedan’s glass. “Consumers expect their cars to last–and not be in the repair shop. That’s why reliability is so important,” Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ senior director of automotive testing, says. Tesla said it had “already made significant improvements to correct any issues.” Meanwhile, the company said it has begun making Model 3 deliveries in China one week earlier than promised.

Faster is as faster does. After AT&T started labeling some of its 4G LTE services as “5GE,” T-Mobile jokingly tweeted a picture of “9G.” Better be careful. President Trump is now tweeting about the race to 6G. Back in the real world, Verizon announced plans to start offering 5G mobile service in 30 cities later this year, though it did not specify which cities or offer much more detail.

Reporting for duty. On Wall Street, Roku impressed investors but Dropbox…not so much. Fourth quarter revenue at Roku gained 46% to $276 million and the number of active accounts was up 40% to 27.1 million. Roku shares, already up an impressive 68% in 2019, gained 7% in premarket trading on Friday. Dropbox posted revenue of $376 million, up 23%, and adjusted earnings per share of 10 cents, triple the year-ago amount, with both slightly better than analysts expected. But a projected decline in profit margin for this quarter sent its shares down 7%. Dropbox’s stock had gained 25% so far this year.

Summer plans. Hoping to join those public tech companies soon, Pinterest has reportedly filed a confidential initial public offering registration statement. The company is seeking a stock market value of $12 billion or more in a deal planned for late June, the Wall Street Journal reports.

FOR YOUR WEEKEND READING PLEASURE

A few longer reads that I came across this week that may be appealing for your weekend reading pleasure:

She Never Looks Back: Inside Elizabeth Holmes’s Chilling Final Months at Theranos (Vanity Fair)
At the end, Theranos was overrun by a dog defecating in the boardroom, nearly a dozen law firms on retainer, and a CEO grinning through her teeth about an implausible turnaround.

It Started With a Jolt: How New York Became a Tech Town (New York Times Magazine)
Amazon’s sudden decision last week to abandon its plan to build a big campus in Queens, in the face of protests from some local politicians and community activists, is a setback–but not one that reverses tech’s climb in the city.

Who Needs Gender? Why Men and Women Are Dressing Identically (Wall Street Journal)
Unisex style is rising, but are separate men’s and women’s clothing lines really a thing of the past–and what does the gender-neutral revolution mean for you?

Greta Thunberg: ‘All My Life I’ve Been the Invisible Girl’ (Financial Times)
The climate activist on becoming the face of a global movement–and why she sees her Asperger’s as a gift.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

There is a whole sub-genre of video blogging about desk setups. What’s the best laptop stand, standing desk, or succulent setup? Someone has made a video. But for those of you who are more text inclined, Stephen Wolfram, the noted programmer and CEO of Wolfram Research, has a great long and rambling exposition this week on his blog about his “personal infrastructure.” It’s just a fascinating reveal of the way an original thinker works, including his outdoor walking-and-typing set up, his dongle collection and, of course, how he stays productive with the Wolfram Notebooks app:

On a good day I’ll type at least 25,000 characters into Wolfram Notebooks (and, yes, I record all my keystrokes). I always organize my notebooks into sections and subsections and so on (which, very conveniently, automatically exist in hierarchical cells). Sometimes I’ll write mostly text in a notebook. Sometimes I’ll screen capture something from elsewhere and paste it in, as a way to keep notes. Depending on what I’m doing, I’ll also actually do computations in a notebook, entering Wolfram Language input, getting results, etc.

Over the years, I’ve accumulated over a hundred thousand notebooks, representing product designs, plans, research, writings, and, basically, everything I do. All these notebooks are ultimately stored in my filesystem (yes, I sync with the cloud, use cloud files, and file servers, etc.) And I take pains to keep my filesystem organized–with the result I can typically find any notebook I’m looking for just by navigating my filesystem, faster than I could formulate a search for it.

BEFORE YOU GO

We hope you’ve enjoyed our occasional updates about the sad demise of NASA’s Opportunity Rover on Mars. But I hope we were not the inspiration for the man who got a giant tattoo in honor of Opportunity with the phrase “My battery is low and it’s getting dark.” The rover permanently inked on the man’s back is the newer Curiosity, which is still working fine. Oops.

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman. Find past issues, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters.