Scientists hope microbots will revolutionize medicine - Axios
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Scientists hope microbots will revolutionize medicine

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A group of scientists is calling for more aggressive research on microrobots (or micromotors) that they hope can be used in the human body to perform certain medical functions, like administering drugs, transporting cells, and even carrying sperm to a fertilized egg, per an essay in the science journal Nature.

There are three types of medical micromotors scientists hope can carry out these functions: chemical, physical, and biohybrid.

How they're different:

  • Chemical micromotors react to the liquids around them by using platinum or silver as a catalyst.
  • Physical micromotors manifest as a magnetic helix that act like cargo mules for the body and could perform biopsies or microsurgeries.
  • Biohybrid micromotors are bacteria-driven — they follow bacteria and can be controlled through an external force (think: magnetism) to control and move things around in the body.

Why it matters: "With a coordinated push, microbots could usher in an era of non-invasive therapies within a decade," said Mariana Medina-Sánchez and Oliver G. Schmidt, the researchers behind the essay. Furthermore, the emergence of medical micromotors could revolutionize the types of medicines able to be administered throughout the body, as well as give surgical access to people in more rural areas.

The challenges:

  • Most are currently fueled by toxic chemicals like hydrogen peroxide.
  • Navigating the human body - this is more difficult than making it around a Petri dish.
  • Safety - researchers will have to demonstrate microbots can be removed or breakdown in the body.
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Trump goes after Republicans who won't support health bill

Trump's latest health care tweet is yet another example of the president's penchant for tweet-shaming those who disagree with him. Axios reported this morning on the 8 Republican Senators who could make or break the Senate health bill, and Trump's tweet is not-so-subtly targeting them:

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Inside the Wall Street White House

There are four former Goldman Sachs execs helping out in Trump's White House in pretty prominent positions: Gary Cohn, Steve Mnuchin, Dina Powell, and Steve Bannon. Though they all share a Wall Street background, a new Vanity Fair piece reveals the internal conflicts among these bank-execs-turned-White-House-officials, and how their experience at Goldman might influence the way they approach their roles. The best part: the candid quotes from former Goldman colleagues who arguably know these four better than most.

The money quote: "I don't think [Steve] Bannon has jack sh*t of a Goldman Sachs pedigree," one former Goldman Sachs partner told VF's William Cohan.

Bottom line: These four have one very important thing in common that likely drew Trump's attention: money. "Trump likes alpha males that...have made a lot of money," one former Goldman partner said. This report gives one of the most thorough inside accounts of these key WH players and provides insight into what we can expect from the Trump admin moving forward.

Gary Cohn, chief economic adviser

  • A former Goldman partner explained to Cohan why he though Gary Cohn, a lifelong Democrat, would accept the offer to join Trump's WH staff: "This was an incredibly sort of convenient and opportune kind of thing that came along for Gary because—whether he was going to Washington or not—Gary was out."
  • Cohn reportedly became "overconfident" in his role at Goldman when he was filling in for his boss, who was undergoing lymphoma treatment, in 2015. He approached various board members about making him CEO of the company during this time, but it didn't work out — "there was a lot of loyalty" to Cohn's boss at Goldman.
  • Other Goldman colleagues dispute this account, saying that instead of making "power plays" for CEO, Cohn simply started hearing out the other offers coming his way, which included one from POTUS.
  • His WH role: A former Goldman partner who still talks with Cohn told VF that Cohn is "dedicated to making sure the U.S. doesn't start any ridiculous trade wars or do something 'crazy' on health care."

Steven Mnuchin, treasury secretary

  • "I think Steve Mnuchin's homework is being checked by Gary Cohn," a former Goldman partner told VF.
  • A Washington insider told Cohan about the friction between Cohn and Mnuchin, saying Mnuchin seems "insecure in his role."
  • "[Now] he's going around with ... Trump -like guys, which is really different than [who he was], which was a bit socially awkward, very smart, really into teamwork. I would have sworn he was a Democrat—a liberal Democrat."

Steve Bannon, chief White House strategist

  • Bannon isn't considered part of the Goldman Sachs crew at the White House, in part because he only spent four years there.
  • "What was unusual about him was he was a huge patriot and kept thinking the country was going to hell. He was really concerned about the United States of America. But I was never quite sure what he thought was wrong it. ...He was never quite able to articulate it in a way that I understood."

Dina Powell, deputy national security adviser

  • Powell is one of the WH Goldman members who's seen an almost meteoric rise.
  • "The most remarkable thing about Dina Powell is that she can manage up better than anybody I've ever seen in my entire life," one former Goldman colleague told Cohan.
  • As Cohan notes in his piece, Vogue recently referred to Powell as Trump's "right-hand woman."
  • She's credited as the person responsible for Trump's relatively successful Middle East trip, and she has prior WH experience.
  • "She's the best politician I've ever met in my life. She can work an organization better than anyone I've ever seen. Unlike the rest of us, she has prior White House experience, and she really knows how this place works," a Washington insider said.

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Charity orgs don't want to host banquets at Mar-a-Lago anymore

Andrew Harnik / AP

A new analysis by the Washington Post found that Trump's Mar-a-Lago club has consistently booked fewer charity banquets and events since his campaign announcement than in the seven years before. In 2014-15, just before he ran for office, Mar-a-Lago hosted 52 events — this year they've booked 25.

It's not like they're boycotting President Trump; one charity organizer said, "The decision was based on the disruption on getting into Mar-a-Lago, because of all the security and hassle."

Why it matters: WashPost found these charity banquets accounted for nearly half of the resort's $21 million annual revenue last year. They predict this could be the club's lowest season for charity rentals in nine years, meaning a key part of the Trump Organization could take a significant financial hit ("hundreds of thousands in lost revenue") — not a financial gain, as some might have predicted more guests would book now that he's president.

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Binary Capital delays fund close in wake of Justin Caldbeck situation

Binary Capital website

Binary Capital yesterday delayed its plans to close on upwards of $75 million in new capital for its second fund. This comes after co-founding partner Justin Caldbeck took an indefinite leave of absence in the wake of sexual harassment allegations by women entrepreneurs, Axios has learned.

Below is the note to investors, which was then followed by Caldbeck's longer statement about his leave of absence:

"I wanted everyone to be aware of two things: First we are not closing today given the recent press and secondly, I am issuing this statement immediately about the situation and my sorrow around it. I couldn't be more sorry for putting you in a bad position and will do everything I my power to rectify it."

The San Francisco-based venture firm originally raised $175 million for its second fund last summer, but was seeking additional capital after Lowercase Capital's Matt Mazzeo agreed to join as its third general partner. It is unclear how close Binary had gotten to its $75 million goal, nor what it plans to do next. A firm spokesman declined comment, while an investor says there are "lots of conversations ongoing."

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Mike Pompeo: Trump admin plans on "punishing" leakers

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Mike Pompeo was the first guest on Hugh Hewitt's new MSNBC show. As CIA director, Pompeo was brought on the show to answer vital questions about intelligence and how the White House plans on handling their continued issue with leakers revealing info.

"We, and I would say all of President Trump's government, is incredibly focused on both stopping leaks of any kind from any agency, and when they happen pursuing them with incredible vigor," Pompeo said, adding, "and I think we'll have some successes both on the deterrence side, that is stopping them from happening, as well as on punishing those who we catch who have done it."

Pompeo argued there's an almost obsession with leakers:

"In some ways, I do think it's accelerated. I think there is a phenomenon, the worship of Edward Snowden, and those who steal American secrets for the purpose of self-aggrandizement or money or for whatever their motivation may be, does seem to be on the increase."

And he detailed who's trying to access classified info:

"It's tough. You now have not only nation states trying to steal our stuff, but non-state, hostile intelligence services, well-funded — folks like WikiLeaks, out there trying to steal American secrets for the sole purpose of undermining the United States and democracy."

Pompeo described how Trump and Obama differ in the way they communicated with the intelligence community:

"President Obama consumed his intelligence in a different way. President Trump is incredibly demanding of the intelligence community, asks us incredibly difficult questions, and then counts on myself and other leaders in the IC to deliver those answers for him."

And he responded to criticism that some say Trump is "uninterested in facts":

"I cannot imagine a statement that is any more false than the one that would attribute President Trump not being interested in intelligence and facts when it comes to national security. He is an avid consumer of the products we provide, thinks about them, and comes back and asks great questions. And then, perhaps most importantly, relies upon that information."
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New startup trend: sell one digital currency for another

Rick Bowmer / AP

Entrepreneurs have a new trick to raise money quickly, and it all takes place online, free from the constraints of banks and regulators. Since the beginning of 2017, 65 startups have raised $522 million using initial coin offerings — trading a digital coin (essentially an investment in their company) for a digital currency, like Bitcoin or Ether.

One recent example: Bay Area coders earned $35 million in less than 30 seconds during an online fund-raising event, NYT reports. They sold Basic Attention Tokens (BAT coin) which will grant buyers access to an innovative ad-free web browser the coders are intending to create, but have yet to launch.

And that's the catch: these investors are buying promises in the form of coins for a product or service that doesn't exist.

Similar to the Bay Area example, a group of entrepreneurs in Switzerland secured $100 million last week by selling a coin that will one day be used on Status, an online chat program that's still being developed.

Proponents argue that these initial coin offerings are "a financial innovation that empowers developers and gives early investors a chance to share in the profits of a successful new enterprise," NYT notes.

One big problem: Others say it potentially violates securities law and that this trading of digital currencies is ripe for hackers, from NYT: "Last year, the first blockbuster coin offering, the Decentralized Autonomous Organization, quickly raised more than $150 million. But the project blew up after a hacker manipulated the code and stole more than $50 million worth of digital currency."

Why it matters: While the innovative online fundraising strategy helps new ventures earn significant amounts of money in a record amount of time, the legal and ethical issues could challenge the perception of the company's intentions. By selling these coins for Bitcoin or Ether, "conventional banks and financial institutions are essentially shut out, allowing initial coin offerings to take place beyond the control of regulators," and that could lead to a whole host of issues for the entrepreneurs and investors alike.

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Trump’s tweets help foreign spies collect info on POTUS

Esther Vargas / Flickr cc

Lead story of tomorrow's WashPost Outlook section, "Raw intelligence, 140 characters at a time: President Trump's tweets are a gold mine for foreign spies, says former CIA analyst Nada Bakos":

"CIA operatives have risked their lives to learn about foreign leaders ... With Trump, ... secret operations are not necessary to understand what's on his mind."

"Intelligence agencies try to answer these main questions when looking at a rival head of state: Who is he as a person? What type of leader is he? How does that compare to what he strives to be or presents himself as? What can we expect from him? And how can we use this insight to our advantage?"

"In building a profile of Trump, an analyst would offer suggestions on how foreign nations could instigate stress or deescalate situations, depending on what type of influence they may want to have over the president."

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Volkswagen quickens job cuts with an eye on electrics, self-driving

VW's e-Golf [AP/Jens Meyer

Volkswagen is moving faster to cut up to 23,000 jobs and shift the savings to electric and self-driving car technology, Reuters reports. The company plans to create 9,000 new positions in advanced batteries and mobility services.

Volkswagen isn't alone among carmakers cutting jobs — GM and Ford have both announced significant layoffs, also with an eye toward increasing their focus on electric-car and self-driving technologies. Last month, Ford abruptly fired CEO Mark Fields and replaced him with Jim Hackett, head of its automated-vehicle division.

Why it matters: The U.S. car market peaked last year, but these cuts are about more than the ebb and flow of auto sales. The globe's top auto executives see an existential threat in the form of upstart electric and self-driving car technologies. They know that winning the next five or ten years won't be about building a better internal combustion engine or creating the best marketing campaign, but the next-generation of automotive technologies.

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The Senators who will decide health care

AP

Yesterday's public waffling by Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) put the healthcare bill in sudden danger that almost certainly will mean notable changes.

Assuming Vice President Pence as tie-breaker, the White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only lose two Republicans,and at least eight have expressed misgivings about the bill as currently written.

We asked a high-level source close to Senate leadership for a danger gradient of who is most at risk of defecting. From the source's texts:

1. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine: "She wants to remain engaged in negotiations so makes sense not to foreclose the option to vote 'yes.' But there is no way she'll vote for this bill, just on pro-life protections alone."

2. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky: "He's talking about getting a 60-vote threshold revamp of [Obamacare]. ... He wants this bill to fail. In that vacuum, he feels his bill will get more steam. ... The principle instead of outcomes. Which is admirable. But can't really legislate that way."

3. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah: "I do think he wants to get to 'yes.' I think he realizes that if this fails, it kills the reconciliation vehicle and possibly the chance to repeal major elements of Obamacare. But his vote will come [with] major improvements that may or cannot be accommodated by the budget rules constraining recon."

4. Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada: "If I were Heller and the possible 50th vote, I'd make damn sure to negotiate a big win for Nevada. He has other priorities beyond healthcare. Yucca [Mountain nuclear dump, which he opposes] is one that could possibly be on the line here if he goes up against the President and fellow Rs."

5. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska: "The bill could be improved by amendment to improve Alaska's standing."

6. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado (NRSC chair): "I think Gardner will be OK."

7. Ditto for Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, one of the four conservatives — along with Paul, Lee and Ted Cruz — who rained on the bill's introduction with a joint letter saying they were "not ready to vote for this bill."

8. And Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, looking to his party future.

Paragraph of the day WashPost A1, "In health-care bill, two prized Republican goals converge," by Damian Paletta: "[L]ong-term conservative goals of cutting taxes and entitlement spending have overtaken Trump's agenda ... The legislation would sharply break with pledges Trump made during the 2016 campaign to block reductions in Medicaid spending and to deliver tax cuts primarily to the middle class."

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Melania Trump hires family business employee for WH chief usher

Alex Brandon / AP

Melania Trump selected a Trump International Hotel employee for the White House chief usher position, per NYT. Her decision to hire an employee of the family business is in line with President Trump's penchant for keeping a close network of family and friends as advisers, confidants, and even WH aides.

Timothy Harleth, manager of rooms at the Trump Hotel in Washington, will replace Angella Reid, the former WH chief usher who was the first woman and only the second African American to hold that position. Reid was unexpectedly fired by Trump in May, but the reason for her termination remains unclear.

Harleth will now be in charge of managing the budget, planning family dinners, acting as a confidant to the Trumps, and essentially ensuring things run smoothly in the WH residence. He shares a hospitality background with Reid: she worked at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel before becoming chief usher under Obama.