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Ex-Trump Aide Rick Gates Changes Plea to Guilty

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Good afternoon. One Connecticut family has their Airedale terrier to thank for a multimillion-dollar payout after General Mills agreed to buy their pet food company for $8 billion. Its push into a new market is another sign of a company feeling the heat from an ever-expanding Amazon. Marc Lore knows how they feel—Walmart’s digital “savior” is under increasing pressure from the tech giant. But spare a thought for Amazon workers. They may one day have to wear ultrasonic labor-tracking bracelets.Katie Robertson

Rick Gates’ guilty plea strengthens Mueller's hand. As the newest cooperator with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Rick Gates may become a powerful weapon against former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Gates, who pleaded guilty Friday in Washington, was Manafort’s right-hand man and worked for a decade in his political consulting firm in Ukraine before joining the campaign. In a victory for Mueller and his probe of possible collusion by the campaign with Russia, Gates admitted he conspired with Manafort to defraud the U.S. by failing to disclose their work as unregistered foreign agents in Ukraine, and by hiding offshore bank accounts.

American companies cut ties with the NRA. A call to boycott the association became the top trend on Twitter. Symantec, MetLife, and others offering benefits to NRA members have dropped their association with the lobbying group following the Parkland massacre. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump intensified his call to arm “gun-adept” teachers and school staff on Friday, taking another step toward gun-rights advocates even as he proposes some changes they’ve long opposed.

Prime-age men may never return to the U.S. workforce, a Fed paper says. Men aged 25 to 54 years old have left the labor force at an astonishing rate. A decline in demand for middle-skilled work, with more positions concentrated at the higher and lower ends, has played a role in keeping prime-age men out of the job market, as well as international trade and weaker unions, according to the report.

Walmart's Amazon killer is in the hot seat. Marc Lore was hailed as Walmart’s online guru, the guy who could drag the lumbering giant into the digital-commerce era and put Amazon in its place. But 18 months after selling his startup, Jet, to the world’s largest retailers, Lore is finding those expectations awfully hard to meet. He needs to move fast to silence the doubters and coax Walmart’s legions of in-store shoppers to buy online as well.

Citi is refunding $335 million to U.S. customers whose annual percentage rate should have been lower. It plans to have checks in the mail by the second half of the year for 1.75 million affected accounts. The issue is a setback for CEO Mike Corbat, who has tied some of the bank’s future growth to expanding its credit-card operation.

China’s government seized temporary control of Anbang, and will prosecute founder Wu Xiaohui for alleged fraud. The move cements the downfall of a politically connected dealmaker whose aggressive global expansion came to symbolize the financial overreach of China’s debt-laden conglomerates. Anbang burst onto the world scene in 2014 with the purchase of New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel.

Inside Google’s $131 million Boulder campus. The company’s new site in Colorado, which opened in December, includes flourishes such as pinball machines, pool tables, a climbing wall, and a pizza oven in the cafeteria. Google has increased its workforce to more than 800 employees in Boulder, with Phase 2 of the new campus expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

Photographer: Daniel Brenner/DANIEL BRENNER

 

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