Quadruple amputee Corinne Hutton given double hand transplant

Quadruple amputee Corinne Hutton, 47, who lost her hands and feet in 2013 and nearly died after suffering acute pneumonia and sepsis, underwent a 12-hour procedure, said her charity Finding Your Feet.

Surgeons at Leeds General Infirmary were able to carry out the complicated surgery on the single mother from Renfrewshire in Scotland after more than gratefula dozen false alarms for donors over the years.

It comes after doctors finally found a match for her blood group, skin tone and hand size.

Professor Simon Kay, who was recently awarded an OBE, and Professor Andrew Hart, who performed the surgery to remove Ms Hutton’s hands and lower legs, were among the team working on the procedure.

Leading the team was Professor Kay, who performed the first double hand transplant in the UK three years ago. Ms Hutton, who was taken into surgery on Monday, was his sixth procedure.

“Corinne is one of the most positive, resilient and determined people I have met and despite all the hurdles she has faced she has now got the hands she wishes for,” he said.

“She didn’t go into this lightly, she researched it deeply and understood the risks as well as the benefits.

“She realises what a remarkable life-affirming gift she has received from an unknown family devastated by grief and I know she will be forever grateful.”

Ms Hutton, a former businesswoman who now campaigns to raise awareness of organ and limb donation, had been given a 5% chance of survival after getting severe pneumonia and sepsis.

Since then, she has gone on to become the first female quadruple amputee to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro and has climbed Ben Nevis.

She has also cycled around the Isle of Arran, abseiled, and taken up skiing – as well as ballroom dancing.

Her charity has raised more than £700,000 so far.

A Finding Your Feet spokesman said: “Cor was close to losing hope about finding a match for a transplant, but that’s not her style.

“She has accomplished an unbelievable amount since losing her limbs, and we’re certain she’ll continue to inspire people as she builds up strength and learns to use her new hands.

“It’s bittersweet, because transplants require a donor. That person and her family have changed the lives of many today, and made it possible for a mum to hold her son’s hand again. Cor will not waste a moment with what they’ve given her.”

The first woman to undergo a double hand transplant in the UK was Tanya Jackson, who was inspired by Ms Hutton to go forward with the surgery.

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GIC joins German mobile bank N26's US$300m funding round

SINGAPORE – Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC is taking part in a US$300 million (S$406.6 million) fundraising by N26, which aims to build the first global mobile bank.

Following the Series D funding round, the fintech start-up will be valued at US$2.7 billion. The latest funding round was led by New York-based venture capital and private equity firm Insight Venture Partners and backed by several existing investors.

N26 has to date raised more than US$500 million from major global investors including Tencent, Allianz X, Li Ka-Shing’s Horizons Ventures, Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, Earlybird Venture Capital, Redalpine Ventures and Greyhound Capital.

The start-up said it will use the proceeds to drive global expansion, starting with the US launch of its mobile banking product in the first half of 2019.

Said Valentin Stalf, CEO and co-founder of N26: “Around the world, millions of people still suffer from bad banking experiences and high fees. With Insight Venture Partners and GIC joining our renowned group of existing investors, N26 has the support of the best investors globally to disrupt one of the largest industries in the world.”

N26 currently operates in 24 markets across Europe, and has more than 2.3 million customers. It is targeting to reach over 100 million customers in the coming years.

Since launching its first product in January 2015, N26 has processed more than €20 billion (S$31.1 billion) in transaction volume. Customers currently hold over €1 billion in the mobile bank’s accounts.

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Ashley Judd's sexual harassment claim against Harvey Weinstein dismissed

But in the ruling a judge in Los Angeles said the actress’ defamation claim against him could still go ahead.

Judd had accused the Hollywood movie mogul of sexual harassment in violation of a California law barring such conduct by a person in a “business, service or professional relationship” with another.

US district judge Philip Gutierrez said he was not determining whether Judd was sexually harassed by Weinstein “in the colloquial sense of the term”.

He said Judd’s relationship as an actress with the film producer was not covered under the California statute she had sued under, nor under a 2019 amendment.

Judd, one of the first women to publicly accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct, has accused him of defaming her in 1998 after she refused what she claims were his sexual advances around a year earlier.

She filed the lawsuit in April 2017. According to court documents, Judd claimed Weinstein invited Judd to a hotel room in Beverly Hills in late 1996 or early 1997 to discuss potential film roles.

But when she showed up at the hotel room, Weinstein “appeared in a bathrobe, and, instead of discussing film roles, asked if he could give her a massage,” Judd claimed, according to the court documents.

She refused, as she did other alleged approaches by Weinstein, including a request that she watch him take a shower, the documents quote Judd as having alleged.

In her lawsuit, the actress accused him of smearing her reputation by discouraging director Peter Jackson from casting her in his movie franchise The Lord of the Rings.

Weinstein has denied defaming Judd or interfering with her career.

“We have said from the beginning that this claim was unjustified, and we are pleased that the court saw it as we did.

“We believe that we will ultimately prevail on her remaining claims,” Weinstein’s lawyer, Phyllis Kupferstein, said.

Judd’s attorney, Theodore J Boutrous Jr, said that this ruling does not change Judd’s complaint.

“Nothing about today’s ruling changes that Ms Judd’s case is moving forward on multiple claims,” Boutrous said.

“We look forward to pursuing the three claims for relief that the court has already ruled can move forward,” he also said.

Weinstein is to stand trial in May in New York on five charges, including rape, involving two other women.

The disgraced Hollywood producer has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 70 women.

He has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.

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Japan's Abe to meet May as Brexit crunch approaches

LONDON (Reuters) – Japan’s Shinzo Abe is likely to urge British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday to do everything she can to avoid a disorderly Brexit that some of Japan’s leading companies have warned could be a disaster.

Japanese firms have spent more than 46 billion pounds in Britain, encouraged by successive British governments since Margaret Thatcher promising them a business-friendly base from which to trade across Europe.

The future of Brexit remains deeply uncertain – with options ranging from a disorderly exit from the EU to another membership referendum – because British lawmakers are expected on Jan. 15 to vote down the deal May struck with the EU in November.

Abe welcomed the deal in November and investors fear that if it is defeated then the world’s fifth largest economy would be plunged into a chaotic no-deal Brexit that would severely disrupt supply chains.

Speaking in the Netherlands on Wednesday, Abe said he wanted to avoid a no-deal Brexit and “see the influence of Brexit to the global economy minimised.”

“We will continue to work closely with Theresa May to help in whatever way we can in the run-up to the (UK parliamentary) vote” on the exit deal she struck with Brussels, Abe said.

UK business minister Greg Clark said a no-deal Brexit would be a disaster and partners such as Japan need assurance that it will be avoided.

Abe and May will discuss the economic opportunities that exist for both nations as the UK leaves the European Union, Downing Street said ahead of the meeting.

“The UK and Japan are natural partners,” May said.

“As the UK prepares to leave the EU, we raise our horizons towards the rest of the world. Our relationship with Japan is stronger than ever, and this visit will enhance co-operation in a wide range of areas.”

For Abe, however, Britain’s trading relationship with Europe after Brexit will be high on the agenda. He told reporters before his departure to Europe that he would convey Japan’s position on Brexit to May, reports said.

When the two met at the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires in December, Abe asked for May’s support to avoid a “no deal” and to ensure transparency, predictability and legal stability in the process.

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Japanese carmakers Nissan, Toyota and Honda build roughly half of Britain’s nearly 1.7 million cars and have warned about the loss of any free and unfettered trade with the European Union after Brexit.

The country’s ambassador to Britain, Koji Tsuruoka, issued a blunt warning about Brexit in February when he said Japanese companies would have to leave Britain if trade barriers made them unprofitable.

“If there is no profitability of continuing operations in the UK – not Japanese only – then no private company can continue operations,” he said. “So it is as simple as that.”

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U.S. Spent $8 Billion on Afghanistan’s Air Force. It’s Still Struggling.

MOGHKHAIL, Afghanistan — The A-29 attack plane was a white speck in the bright skies over eastern Afghanistan as it launched a dummy bomb that exploded just yards from the target, a wrecked truck. “Spot on!” said an American adviser watching the exercise.

The plane’s Afghan pilot had been guided by an Afghan coordinator on the ground — but only after previous bombing runs had struck well wide of the truck.

Eleven years after the United States began building an air force for Afghanistan at a cost now nearing $8 billion, it remains a frustrating work in progress, with no end in sight. Some aviation experts say the Afghans will rely on American maintenance and other support for years.

Such dependence could complicate President Trump’s moves to extricate the United States from the 17-year-old war against Taliban insurgents — a war in which they lately appear to be gaining ground.

“It would be a home run if we got to 60 to 65 percent” self-sufficiency for the Afghan Air Force, said retired Air Force Brig. Gen. John E. Michel, who commanded the air training mission in 2013 and 2014. “You have to have a realistic view of how hard this is.”

For years beginning with the Obama administration, part of the American exit strategy has been to build and train the Afghan military — including the air force — to fight the insurgents on its own.

That strategy appeared to be undermined in December when Mr. Trump was said to have ordered preparations for half the 14,000 American troops in Afghanistan to come home.

At the same time, American military officials have been warning that the Afghans remain dangerously unprepared.

“If we left precipitously right now, I do not believe they would be able to successfully defend their country,” Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., nominated to lead the United States Central Command, told Congress last month.

Today, American-led coalition aircraft carry out roughly five times as many airstrike missions as the Afghan Air Force — more than 6,500 last year alone. When insurgents overrun outposts or districts, it typically takes American warplanes and American-trained commando units to drive them back.

Airstrikes from Afghan aircraft have killed civilians at a disproportionately higher rate than American ones.

“The Afghan Air Force, while it is improving, has not in any sense offset the need for more and more U.S. air presence, and that’s a little discouraging,” said Anthony H. Cordesman, a security analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

“There is no plan to create an Afghan Air Force as yet that could replace the role of the U.S. air component,” he said.

By any measure, the Afghan Air Force is far more capable than the deteriorating, 20-aircraft force of 2007. About 265 American-trained Afghan pilots now fly 118 aircraft supplied by the United States, American trainers said. The fleet is projected to double by 2023. A separate Special Mission Wing flies special operations missions.

Last month, Afghan pilots flew their first night attack missions. In June, they conducted their first combat airdrop. In March, the air force fired its first laser-guided bomb in combat, with 600 more fired since.

Afghan aircraft now regularly ferry troops and supplies and provide close air support. They also help evacuate casualties.

But in interviews, United States Air Force commanders declined to predict when Afghans would fly with only minimal American support. They cited the unpredictability of building a modern air force in an undeveloped country consumed by war.

A recent aviation journal article described the training mission as “building an aircraft in flight while it’s getting shot at.”

A report last year by the Defense Department’s inspector general, while citing improvements, said American commanders could not effectively track Afghan progress because “they have not defined the intended end state” of the air program.

Brig. Gen. Joel Carey, who commands a NATO-led training mission for Afghanistan, said he was focused on “taking bite-sized chunks and consolidating gains.”

One goal is to reduce reliance on American-led airstrikes. But those airstrikes rose by roughly 40 percent last year to help counter a Taliban offensive that some Afghan officials estimated had inflicted more than 30 deaths a day on Afghan forces in recent months.

When Taliban fighters overran much of the city of Ghazni in August, it took American-led coalition warplanes and American-trained Afghan commando units to reclaim the strategic city, with support from Afghan aircraft.

Maj. Gen. Barre R. Seguin, a senior United States Air Force commander in Afghanistan, said the number of Afghan airstrikes would grow as the American government supplied more aircraft. Lt. Col. Koné Faulkner, a Pentagon spokesman, said the Afghan share of overall strikes had increased in the past two years.

But Afghan ground commanders complain that calls for Afghan air support often go unheeded. In August, an Afghan military base in the northern province of Faryab was overrun by Taliban fighters after commanders had begged in vain for air support and helicopter resupply.

“They kept saying: ‘We’ll be there in an hour,’” said First Lt. Mohammad Reza. “But they betrayed us and never came.”

Lt. Gen. Mohammad Shoaib, the Afghan Air Force commander, said the force was not yet big enough to cover the entire country in the face of persistent Taliban attacks.

Discussing a recent mission failure, he cited the time needed to plan missions and identify targets, as well as delays caused by bad weather, difficult terrain, communications problems and concerns about civilian casualties.

“Afghanistan is a war zone,” General Shoaib said. “It’s a challenge.”

American trainers have built an Afghan Army that relies heavily on air power that the air force might not be able to provide for years, said John F. Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghan reconstruction.

“The Afghan Air Force doesn’t have the assets and capabilities yet to meet all operational requirements nationwide,” he said.

Another concern is civilian casualties. In July, the United Nations said the Afghan Air Force had been responsible for 52 percent of civilian casualties caused by airstrikes in the first half of 2018, despite having conducted far fewer strikes than coalition aircraft. The United Nations also said insurgents had been responsible for two-thirds of all civilian casualties.

General Shoaib and General Carey said American and Afghan aircrews followed strict procedures to limit civilian casualties, with pilots often pulling away from confirmed enemy targets for fear of hitting civilians.

But Patricia Gossman, a senior Afghanistan researcher for Human Rights Watch, said the Afghan and United States militaries did not always conduct adequate civilian casualty investigations, making it difficult to correct mistakes.

Some decisions on aircraft choices also have been faulted. Aviation experts have criticized a decision to phase out the old workhorses of the Afghan forces — Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters — for American-made UH-60 Black Hawks.

Mr. Michel, the retired general, said the Mi-17 was “the perfect helicopter” for Afghanistan because it can carry more troops and supplies than the Black Hawk and is less complicated to fly.

“Let’s be candid,” he said of the switch. “That was largely done for political reasons.”

American commanders said obtaining spare parts for the aging, Russian-made copters was difficult. Of the 47 Mi-17s assigned to the Afghans, only 20 are operational.

Mi-17s flew half the fleet’s 28,000 sorties last year, but the first Black Hawk did not fly until May. The plan to provide 81 Black Hawks will not be complete until 2030, Mr. Sopko said.

Maj. Salim Faqiri, who has flown both aircraft, said that the Russian helicopter was more powerful but that the Black Hawk was more maneuverable and performed better in dusty landing zones.

The United States has supplied Afghanistan with three types each of helicopters and propeller planes. Afghans have been trained to maintain and repair aircraft, and to assemble and load munitions. In many cases, Afghans are now training fellow Afghans.

“They can do a lot on their own — the normal stuff,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Sam McIntyre. “We’re trying to push them to the next level.”

Another adviser, Air Force Col. Chris Goodyear, said that, realistically, “We have to go at the pace the Afghans are capable of carrying things.”

But even as the training mission shows progress, it has been dogged with problems.

In 2013, the Pentagon abandoned a $486 million fleet of 20 G-222 medium-lift cargo planes provided to the Afghans, selling 16 planes for scrap metal at 6 cents a pound.

Last spring, the Pentagon said that more than 150 Afghans sent to the United States for training — including air trainees — had gone absent without leave.

At least eight Afghan military helicopters crashed last year, according to a tally by The New York Times. Asked about Taliban claims that the choppers were shot down, General Carey said the crashes were under investigation.

Although Afghan and American commanders say they have tried to crack down on corruption, the use of air force aircraft as personal taxis by Afghan political bigwigs remains a problem. American commanders say theft of aviation fuel delivered by Afghan contractors is another.

General Shoaib predicted that the air force would be self-sufficient — except for maintenance — in three or four years. Some military analysts are less optimistic.

Bill Roggio, who edits the Long War Journal, said the Afghan Army would not need an air force if it could take and hold ground. Since 2017, Taliban insurgents have held more Afghan territory than at any time since the American invasion in 2001.

“The Taliban doesn’t have an air force,” Mr. Roggio said. “They do quite well without it.”

Fatima Faizi and Fahim Abed contributed reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Taimoor Shah from Kandahar, Afghanistan.

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Trump advisers would recommend he veto four spending bills over border security: statement

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s advisers would recommend he use a veto if he is presented with four spending bills while there is no agreement on border security, the White House Office of Management and Budget said on Wednesday.

“Moving these four bills without a broader agreement to address the border crisis is unacceptable,” the office said in a statement on the 19th day of a partial government shutdown triggered by disagreement over the Republican president’s demand for funds to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

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Jaguar Land Rover to make 'substantial' job cuts after China, diesel slump: Source

LONDON (REUTERS) – Britain’s biggest carmaker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is set to announce “substantial” job cuts in the thousands, a source told Reuters, as the company faces double-digit drops in demand in China and a slump in sales for diesel cars in Europe. 

The company builds a higher proportion of its cars in Britain than any other major or medium-sized carmaker and has spent millions of pounds preparing for Brexit, in case there are tariffs or customs checks. 

JLR swung to a loss of £354 million (S$611 million) between April and September and had already in 2018 cut around 1,000 roles in Britain, shut its Solihull plant for two weeks and announced a three-day week at its Castle Bromwich site. 

The Tata Motors-owned company has unveiled plans to cut costs and improve cash flows by £2.5 billion including “reducing employment costs and employment levels”. Those cuts will be “substantial” and run into the thousands, the source told Reuters. 

“The announcement on job losses will be substantial, affecting managerial, research, sales, design,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. 

Production line staff will not be affected “at this stage”, said the source. 

The company declined to comment when contacted by Reuters. 

JLR, which became Britain’s biggest carmaker in 2016, had been on course to build around one million vehicles by the turn of the decade, but output in 2018 looks set to have fallen as sales in the first eleven months dropped 4.4 per cent. 

Sales in China between July and September fell by 44 per cent, the biggest slump of any market for the central England-based firm, turning the country from its biggest sales market to its smallest. 

Its chief financial officer said in October that the firm’s Changshu plant in China “has basically been closed for most of October in order to allow the inventory of both our vehicles and dealer inventory to start to reduce”.

Like fellow automakers, the company could be faced with adding costs and bureaucracy on vehicles and components in fewer than 80 days if lawmakers next week reject a deal by Prime Minister Theresa May.

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Billionaire environmentalist Steyer will not enter 2020 White House race

(Reuters) – Billionaire donor and liberal activist Tom Steyer, who has led an effort to impeach President Donald Trump, announced on Wednesday he will not seek the Democratic presidential nomination and instead will continue his effort to oust the president.

Steyer, 61, made his announcement in Iowa, the traditional starting point for the presidential nominating contests that will kick off early next year, after months of openly exploring his own presidential campaign, his staff confirmed.

“The impeachment question has reached an inflection point,” Steyer wrote on Twitter. “That’s why I just announced that I will be dedicating 100% of my time and effort in 2019 toward Mr. Trump’s impeachment and removal from office.”

Steyer’s decision not to enter the race also leaves the deep-pocketed donor available to support one of as many as two dozen Democrats who are weighing 2020 presidential bids.

Steyer plans to spend $40 million this year to pressure the U.S. House of Representatives, which Democrats won control of in the November 2018 elections, to begin impeachment proceedings, and to encourage Democrats vying for the White House to support Trump’s impeachment.

Steyer has been a force in Democratic fundraising over the past decade. NextGen America, a political nonprofit he formed in 2013, has poured millions into elections, focusing on climate change, immigration and access to affordable healthcare, among other issues.

Steyer said he spent $120 million on the 2018 elections, investing heavily in youth turnout, which he called an untapped source of Democratic support. He also spent more than $90 million during the 2016 elections, when he backed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Some of his money has gone to his Need to Impeach campaign against Trump. Steyer has accused the Republican president of colluding with Russia to win the White House in 2016 and obstructing investigations into their efforts, allegations that Trump has denied.

“I will do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to remove this president,” Steyer wrote Wednesday on Twitter.

In a tweet in October, Trump dismissed Steyer as a “crazed & stumbling lunatic who should be running out of money pretty soon.”

Steyer amassed a fortune estimated by Forbes at $1.6 billion by founding the investment firm Farallon Capital in the mid-1980s and serving as a partner at the San Francisco private equity firm Hellman & Friedman.

Early opinion polls showed the environmentalist and philanthropist, who is based in San Francisco, trailing other Democrats in name recognition and support.

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8 things you need to know about MacKenzie, soon-to-be ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos

Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, on Wednesday (Jan 9) announced his split from his wife MacKenzie, after 25 years of marriage.

The couple said in a statement on Twitter that they shared “such a great life together as a married couple”, and “though the labels might be different, we remain a family, and we remain cherished friends”.

Thanks to his stake in Amazon, Mr Bezos, 54, has an estimated net worth of US$137 billion (S$185 billion) and topped Forbes’ list last year of the richest Americans and the list of billionaires worldwide.

Mr Bezos has often credited Mrs Bezos, 48, for her support when he founded Amazon, which grew from an online bookseller to one of the world’s largest retailers.

She was there in the company’s early years, when Mr Bezos was drafting Amazon’s business plan, even as she pursued her dream of being an author.

Here are eight things you should know about Mrs Bezos.

1. A Princeton graduate who is an author of two books

Mrs Bezos grew up in San Francisco as the daughter of a financial planner and a housewife. She studied English at Princeton University, where she was an assistant to American novelist and Pulitzer Prize winner Toni Morrison.

It took her a decade before she published her debut novel, The Testing Of Luther Albright, in 2005.

The psychological thriller set in Sacramento, California, won the 2005 American Book Award, and it was described by the New York Times as “quietly absorbing”.

Her second book, Traps, is a tale of four women who meet on a road trip to Las Vegas.

2. She met Bezos at a New York hedge fund and fell in love with his laugh

When Mrs Bezos was trying for a job at New York hedge fund D. E. Shaw & Co in 1993, the first person to interview her at the firm turned out to be Mr Bezos, who was then a senior vice-president. She got the job as a research associate.

In a 2013 interview with Vogue magazine, she was quoted as saying: “My office was next door to his, and all day long, I listened to that fabulous laugh.

“How could you not fall in love with that laugh?”

Mrs Bezos, then 23 years old, told the magazine that she made the first move to woo her future husband by suggesting lunch.

3. A whirlwind romance, with wedding bells ringing in just months

Within three months of their lunch date, the couple got engaged. And another three months later, they tied the knot.

Shortly after, Mr Bezos began working on his idea of an online bookseller, and the young couple took the plunge by uprooting their lives in New York to move to Seattle.

Mrs Bezos told Vogue in 2013: “I have no business sense whatsoever, but I saw how excited he was.”

According to a 1996 Wall Street Journal report, it was Mrs Bezos who drove them across the country in 1994, with their dog Kamala in tow.

Mr Bezos was next to her “tapping out a business plan on his computer along the way”, according to tech magazine Wired.

The pair first lived in a one-bedroom rental in downtown Seattle.

4. She was one of Amazon’s earliest employees, and Bezos’ greatest support

Mrs Bezos was considered one of Amazon’s earliest employees when the firm was founded in 1994. She helped with the accounting in its first year.

According to Wired, she was also responsible for negotiating Amazon’s first freight contracts.

Mr Bezos has always been outspoken about his wife’s unwavering support during that period.

“When you have loving and supportive people in your life, like MacKenzie, my parents, my grandfather, my grandmother, you end up being able to take risks,” Mr Bezos had said.

The couple have four children: three boys and an adopted girl from China.

5. She left a scathing Amazon review on Mr Bezos’ biography

Mrs Bezos made headlines in November 2014 when she left a one-star review of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos And Amazon, a book about her husband written by American author Brad Stone.

She was among those who left scathing reviews on the book’s Amazon site, claiming that the book had several factual errors, even as some 60 per cent gave it five stars.

“I was there when he wrote the business plan, and I worked with him and many others represented in the converted garage, the basement warehouse closet, the barbecue-scented offices, the Christmas-rush distribution centres, and the door-desk filled conference rooms in the early years of Amazon’s history,” she wrote in the review.

6. Standing up against bullies

In 2004, Mrs Bezos started anti-bullying organisation Bystander Revolution, which has a website offering advice from students and even celebrities.

As the executive director, she said that her goal was to spread “simple habits of kindness, courage, and inclusion”.

She wanted the website, which features videos and interviews, to be a resource for the average person to stop bullying.

“No matter who you are or what you’re facing, you can find personal stories, suggestions, and encouragement from someone who has dealt with a similar issue,” the website said.

Together with her husband, Mrs Bezos launched the Day One Fund in 2018 to help homeless families and build pre-schools for low-income communities.

7. She could become the world’s richest woman

Mrs Bezos could become the world’s richest woman with the divorce, reported local and international news outlets.

Washington DC divorce lawyer Sandy Ain told The Washington Post that the area where the Bezos family resides is a “common property” state, which means that all the assets and debts accumulated during their marriage would be divided equally.

Mr Ain does not represent Mr Bezos or Mrs Bezos in their split, but has handled high-profile divorce cases among the rich in the past.

With Mr Bezos being the richest person in the world, a 50/50 agreement would result in the biggest recorded divorce settlement, reported The Washington Post.

This could mean that Mrs Bezos could walk away from the divorce with about US$66 billion, making her the richest woman in the world, according to CNBC.

Currently, Ms Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, the granddaughter of the founder of cosmetics manufacturer L’Oreal, is the richest woman in the world, with a net worth of US$45.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a ranking of the world’s 500 richest people.

However, a divorce lawyer told CNBC that a 50/50 split is unlikely, as Mr Bezos’ wealth is tied to him continuing to have a controlling stake in Amazon.

This also may not be the case if the couple have a pre- or post-nuptial agreement. The couple or Amazon have yet to comment on the likely division of their assets.

8. Was she dumped for a former TV anchor?

Soon after Mr Bezos and Mrs Bezos revealed their plan to divorce, new reports have suggested that Mr Bezos has been in a secret relationship with Ms Lauren Sanchez, a former TV anchor and the estranged wife of Hollywood talent mogul Patrick Whitesell.

The New York Post’s celebrity news site Page Six reported that Mr Bezos made the divorce announcement on Wednesday believing that photos of himself and Ms Sanchez could soon be made public.

The report said that Mr Bezos got to know Ms Sanchez, a former anchor of television channel Fox’s Good Day LA, through her soon-to-be former husband Mr Whitesell. He is considered one of Hollywood’s most powerful men, as the agent to stars such as Matt Damon and Christian Bale.

Mr Bezos and Ms Sanchez reportedly became closer after her separation from Mr Whitesell.

Sources: Reuters, People.com, Vogue, Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Bloomberg, Washington Post, Wired, The New York Post

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Most Asia shares inch up as signals on trade talks awaited

TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares edged up on Thursday on a weaker dollar and hopes of more economic stimulus in China, but many stocks seesawed as markets awaited some details on this week’s U.S.-China trade talks amid hopes an all-out trade war can be averted.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.2 percent, hovering at a near four-week high, helped by a fall for the dollar.

Japan’s Nikkei closed 1.3 percent lower.

European stocks are expected to open lower. Spread-betters looked for Britain’s FTSE to be 0.2 percent lower, France’s CAC off 0.5 percent and Germany’s DAX down 0.4 percent.

Wall Street’s S&P 500 rose 0.41 percent on Wednesday, extending its gains from 20-month lows touched around Christmas to more than 10 percent.(Asian stock markets: tmsnrt.rs/2zpUAr4)

But E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 were down half a percent.

Weak Chinese inflation data raised the prospect of further government stimulus but China’s blue-chip CSI 300 went back into the red, losing 0.2 percent, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng struggled to maintain a small gain.

Delegations from China and the United States ended three days of trade talks in Beijing on Wednesday in the first face-to-face negotiations since both sides agreed to a 90-day truce in their trade war.

China’s commerce ministry said on Thursday the talks were extensive, and helped establish a foundation for the resolution of each others’ concerns.

However, there were few concrete details on the meetings, which were not at a ministerial level, so were not expected to produce a deal to end the trade war.

Risk assets extended a days-long rally overnight after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s December meeting showed that many policymakers believed they could be patient about future U.S. monetary tightening, while a few did not support the central bank’s rate increase last month.


Figures out of China on Thursday showed the country’s consumer prices and factory-gate inflation both increased less than expected in December, with the latter rising at the slowest pace in over two years.

The pace of month-on-month increases in factory-gate inflation declined for a second straight time.

“If this trend persists, it may turn negative on year-on-year terms this year and more radical stimulus measures, such as benchmark interest rate cuts, may become possible,” said Betty Wang, senior China economist at ANZ Research.

Oil also caught investors’ attention after U.S. crude and Brent jumped overnight, helped by optimism that Sino-U.S. trade tensions are easing, while OPEC-led crude output cuts also provided support.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures on Wednesday gained almost 5.2 percent, while Brent crude futures rose more than 4.6 percent, extending a rally that has pushed futures up about 14 percent this year.

Both benchmarks gave up some of their recent gains on Thursday. U.S. crude was last trading 59 cents lower at $51.76 a barrel, down 1.15 percent. Brent lost 57 cents to $60.87, off 0.93 percent.

Chris Weston, Melbourne-based head of research at foreign exchange brokerage Pepperstone, said he viewed more gains in oil prices as a key driver for any further rise in risk appetite.

If U.S. crude futures can break through the $55 level, “you’re going to see real yields probably lower. That’s really good for the cost of money and taking some further headwinds out of the U.S. dollar,” he said.

U.S. Treasury yields last stood at 2.699 percent, down from 2.710 percent at the U.S. close on Wednesday.

The dollar remained on the defensive after hitting its lowest level since mid-October amid the signs Fed policymakers are becoming more cautious about future rate hikes and as investors unwound safe-haven bets due to optimism over the trade talks.

The yuan strengthened, breaching the key 6.8 per dollar level for the first time since August in both onshore and offshore trade.

The greenback was down a tenth of a percent against the euro at $1.1556. The single currency gained 0.9 percent against the dollar during the previous session, its biggest one-day gain since late June.

Against a basket of six major rivals, the dollar briefly dipped to 95.029, its lowest since Oct. 16, and was last down 0.1 percent.

The dollar lost 0.2 percent against the yen, a safe-haven currency that’s often preferred by traders during times of market and economic stress.

The Canadian dollar retreated in line with oil prices, and last traded down 0.2 percent at C$1.3232. It had risen to a five-week high during the previous session.

The Bank of Canada held interest rates steady as expected on Wednesday but said more increases would be necessary even though low oil prices and a weak housing market will harm the economy in the short term.

In commodity markets, spot gold was 0.2 percent higher at $1,296.40, edging towards a near seven-month peak of $1.298,60 scaled on Friday.

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