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Larry Fink accepting his humanitarian award. Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

Where's Larry Fink, the CEO of BlackRock?

The backdrop: In October, Fink was on a long list of CEOs who made a big show of pulling out of Saudi Arabia's Future Investment Initiative, also known as Davos in the Desert. In November, Fink was honored by the International Rescue Committee at its annual dinner, where he received the charity's Humanitarian Award.

  • This week, Fink was back in Riyadh for the Saudi Arabian Financial Sector Conference. He appeared on a panel alongside the Saudi finance minister discussing "the link between purpose and profit." One of the questions posed: "How can investment best be used as a force for positive change?"
  • Fink's panel took place one day after 37 Saudis were executed by the government, one of whom was subsequently crucified. According to Amnesty International at least 104 people have been executed by Saudi Arabia this year, 44 of whom were foreign nationals.

Fink gushed about the tightening spreads on Saudi Aramco's recent bond issue, and he said that when it comes to issues raised by journalists, "the power of the press allows most issues to be mitigated." That, he explained, is why he is optimistic about the region as a long-term investor. "The changes here in the kingdom in the last two years are pretty amazing," he declared.

  • Fink had lots of bold-faced company at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton. (Yes, the conference hotel is the same building that was formerly a luxury prison.) “It’s a privilege to be back in Saudi Arabia,” said HSBC CEO John Flint, also an October refusenik. Other speakers included representatives from JPMorgan, Société Générale and the London Stock Exchange Group.

The bottom line: Back in October, it wasn't clear whether Saudi Arabia would become a toxic destination for capitalists or whether the Jamal Khashoggi outrage would turn out to be a temporary blip. Now we know the answer.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”