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July 29, 2014
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Chinese officials arrived unannounced Monday at four of Microsoft's offices in China, reportedly as part of an anti-trust investigation. On Tuesday, a Chinese regulator made an official statement that it is launching an anti-monopoly investigation into Microsoft Corp.

Reuters reports that the investigation was launched because officials suspect Microsoft has "not fully disclosed information about its Windows operating system and Microsoft Office software." China's State Administration for Industry & Commerce (SAIC) is investigating Microsoft's vice president and senior managers.

According to Reuters, the SAIC has already obtained emails and documents from Microsoft's computers and servers. The company has been suspected of violating anti-monopoly laws in China since June 2013.

As Quartz notes, China's domestic operating systems haven't been met with much success, and Microsoft is an "easy target." In May, China's government banned Windows 8 from government computers. While the investigation could lead to serious penalties for Microsoft, "regulatory pressure could result in lower costs for Chinese users, and also encourage Beijing's efforts to break foreign firms' stranglehold over crucial technology infrastructure," according to Quartz. Meghan DeMaria

6:35 p.m. ET
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David Dao, the 69-year-old doctor who was dragged off an overbooked United flight earlier this month to the horror of his fellow passengers, has settled with the airline for an undisclosed amount of money.

His attorney, Thomas Demetrio, said that under the settlement, the sum must remain confidential. His client was on a packed flight to Louisville from Chicago on April 9 when he was chosen at random to give up his seat to a crew member who needed to get to Kentucky to work on another flight; Dao refused, and authorities were called. They forcibly removed him from the flight, with other passengers recording the incident, sparking a major public relations disaster for United once the video went viral. Dao's attorneys have said he suffered a broken nose and concussion and lost two teeth.

The settlement came before Dao even filed a lawsuit, and will save United money on legal fees. Demetrio told The Associated Press he hopes "corporate America notices when you goof up, people respect you a heck of a lot more when you admit it, instead of making people go through three years of depositions, motions, court hearings." Catherine Garcia

5:11 p.m. ET

In the U.S. House of Representatives, Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman represents a western portion of the San Fernando Valley, which is located in Southern California. This is important, because you may have heard the Golden State has loosened its restrictions on the sale of marijuana and has generally been considered a bastion of bud in the nation.

As someone tasked with representing these constituents, then, Sherman should be knowledgeable about marijuana. Fret not, Valley-dwellers, because apparently he has been so thorough in his research that he is even aware of weed's potential to be exploited for nefarious wartime provocations by our enemies. He revealed as much in a pair of tweets Wednesday night regarding his chosen discussion points for a classified briefing about North Korea with Vice President Mike Pence:

Improbably, Sherman is not the first U.S. congressman to voice this concern. In February, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) told CNN's Brianna Keilar, "I can suggest to you that there are national security implications here for a porous border. We sometimes used to make the point that if someone wanted to smuggle in a dangerous weapon, even a nuclear weapon, into America, how would they do it? And the suggestion was made: Well, we'll simply hide it in a bale of marijuana."

For the record, a bale of marijuana is generally considered to weigh but a few dozen pounds. The W54, one of the smallest nuclear warheads ever used by the U.S., weighed around 50 pounds. Kimberly Alters

3:28 p.m. ET
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Convicted murderer Kenneth Williams is scheduled to be put to death Thursday at 7 p.m. CT in what would be Arkansas' fourth execution of the month, BuzzFeed News reports. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) had originally announced eight executions for April, but so far only three have been carried out while four others have been put on hold by different courts. The state is hurrying to carry out capital punishment before the supply of one of its three execution drugs expires at the end of the month.

To date, the state Supreme Court has denied two of Williams' requests for a stay; his lawyers filed a new lawsuit Thursday.

Read The Week's Anthony L. Fisher on why Arkansas' executions are a really big deal here. Jeva Lange

2:58 p.m. ET
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Anthony "Ari" Rinkus is a convicted two-time felon who engineered a car theft ring and then, while still on probation, a Ponzi scheme con job. He also happens to be married to Heather Rinkus, the guest reception manager at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida — a fact he is quick to bring up and evidently has no qualms exploiting, BuzzFeed News reports in a startling investigation.

"Ari, a stocky former used car salesman, frequently holds court over a vodka soda at a local bar, bragging about his and his wife's connection to Trump and his team while trolling for investors for business deals he's peddling," BuzzFeed News writes. Heather Rinkus, who used to work for the family of Betsy DeVos, Trump's education secretary, landed the Mar-a-Lago job just before Trump became president. "[Ari Rinkus] kept saying, 'Once my wife gets that job, I'll have all the connections for you,'" a person who worked closely with Rinkus said.

Under the terms of his probation, Rinkus isn't technically allowed to have a job "that would require him to exercise fiduciary duties; to give investment advice or make investment decisions; to solicit funds; or to handle other people's money, without the advanced, written approval of the probation officer." Yet local real estate agent Richard Allison said Rinkus is "very good at going out there and socializing and finding people who would be good investors," and that he'd been pitched himself.

"He immediately brings up his wife's job — that's how he ropes investors in," said another person whom Rinkus tried to pitch. As FBI Special Agent in Charge Erick Martinez explained: "Investment fraudsters use the appearance of success to mask their tangled financial web of lies."

When told BuzzFeed News was going to write a piece about his dealings, Rinkus walked back almost all of his stories and claims. "I lied," he said.

By all appearances, though, Rinkus has been working for a security company called Securablinds, which is actively seeking government contracts. Rinkus had earlier bragged to BuzzFeed News that he had even pitched Eric Trump on the company. After all, Securablinds, which is based in the U.K, just opened a firm in Palm Beach.

Or, as Rinkus describes it, in "the president's backyard." Read the full investigation at BuzzFeed News. Jeva Lange

2:09 p.m. ET

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was directly told in 2014 not to take money from foreign governments without explicit permission, documents released Thursday reveal. Flynn, who resigned from the Trump administration in February, took $34,000 in December 2015 for a speaking gala concerning Russian TV and more than $500,000 for lobbying on behalf of Turkish interests ahead of the November election. A defense intelligence official said Thursday that no record of Flynn asking for permission or approval "for the receipt of money from a foreign source" could be found, NBC News reports.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) — the ranking member and chairman of the House Oversight Committee, respectively — jointly criticized the White House for denying their request for documents related to Flynn. "I don't understand why the White House is covering up for Michael Flynn," Cummings said.

Facing accusations that Flynn's vetting process by the Trump team was insufficient, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer noted Thursday that the Obama administration was responsible for giving Flynn his security clearance years prior. Of course, it was still the Trump team that named Flynn as the administration's national security adviser, a role he filled for just 24 days. Jeva Lange

1:24 p.m. ET

An asparagus blessing at Worcester Cathedral went awry last Sunday when Gus the Asparagus Man joined the procession while dressed as a giant asparagus spear, BBC reports. Many of the Anglicans in attendance for the crowded St. George's Day service called the display a "pantomime," with the lobby group Christian Concern complaining that Gus' inclusion "made a mockery of Christian worship."

To mark the start of the British Asparagus Festival, a bundle of asparagus spears had been brought to the cathedral from the town of Evesham to receive a blessing. Canon Precentor of Worcester Cathedral Rev. Michael Brierley called the plant "a sign of the abundant provision and generosity of God" and he defended Gus' inclusion, saying it added "a bit of color."

Canterbury priest Rev. Peter Ould disagreed. "I think the service itself is a good idea — there isn't anything wrong in praying for a good growing season," he told The Telegraph. "But someone dressed up as an asparagus and a bloke in a St. George costume behind him holding a sword — that just looks a bit silly."

Others expressed concern about the lack of inclusion of other produce. "Why only adoration of asparagus?" a post on the Church of England blog Archbishop Cranmer said. "Where's the sprout liturgy, or equality for mushrooms?"

Gus is one of several asparagus characters that help celebrate the annual asparagus festival. He attended the St. George's Day service absent of Asparamancer, Eve the AsparaFairy, and the Asparagus King. Jeva Lange

12:13 p.m. ET
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President Trump has famously dismissed climate change as a hoax and his administration is reportedly debating how to walk back the United States' participation in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. But far from Washington, members of the president's party are quietly bridging partisan divides to work with Democrats on climate change legislation, The Los Angeles Times reports.

California Republicans voted last year against legislation that set an aggressive new benchmark for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state by 2030. But the Democrats' legislation has since become law and now Republicans are exploring their own approaches to limiting emissions and using the freed-up revenue of a cap-and-trade program for tax credits and rebates. The proposed cap-and-trade program would require "companies to buy permits to release emissions into the atmosphere," the Times explains.

Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes said: "Californians, whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, are different from the rest of the country. What they're doing back in Washington, D.C., is not what we're going to be doing in California ... It would be foolish not to engage."

Still, it's a shaky new relationship; there is some question about the legality of the program, and Democrats might not be willing to give up certain parts of their proposal in a compromise, such as their wish to regulate public health pollutants along with greenhouse gases in the program. In one heated exchange with Republican Assemblyman Vince Fong (Bakersfield), Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown snapped: "You're not going to vote for cap-and-trade anyway. Look, cap-and-trade is about climate change, which you don't believe in and your president says is a hoax."

But Assemblyman Rocky Chávez (R-Oceanside) indicates things are changing. "You look on what's going on in the Antarctic, in the North Pole, you look at the issue of sea-level rise. It's an issue that we need to be concerned about," he said. "We want to be part of the solution." Jeva Lange

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