Why do Trump’s foreign golf resorts lose millions of dollars every year? Experts say it could be incompetence, vanity, or something more sinister

Trump Golfing Virginia 2020
US President Donald Trump’s golf courses lose millions of dollars every year, according to financial declarations.

  • Donald Trump posts massive losses at his flagship foreign golf resorts every year.
  • He has previously claimed they are not really golf resorts but “development deals.”
  • However, experts and opponents believe Trump may have other reasons for keeping them.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Donald Trump’s golf resorts lose a lot of money. According to one bombshell New York Times report published last year, the 15 courses he owns around the world have lost over $315 million dollars over the last 20 years. The interesting question is why does Trump continue to hang on to so many loss-making enterprises?

Much about Trump’s financial arrangements remain a mystery, partly because privately listed companies in the US can largely avoid public scrutiny – although ongoing criminal investigations into possible banking and tax fraud may soon change that.

No-one’s quite sure how much he is worth, no-one’s quite sure why the self-styled “king of debt” decided to plow up to $400 million of his cash into his two Scottish golf resorts, and no-one’s quite sure what his still-unpublished tax returns might turn up.

But because the United Kingdom has a registry of companies that requires them to publicly file accounts every year, we can look in granular detail at how much his two courses in Scotland lose every year, and how much debt they’ve racked up (Hint: It’s a lot.)

So why does Trump and his sons, who ran his businesses while he was president, continue to run courses that lose so much money?

We spoke to leading experts, examined the financial data, and looked back at the president’s own words on the matter to try to find out why.

Insider contacted the Trump Organisation for comment but did not receive a reply at the time of publication.

Trump’s losses ‘aren’t normal’

Losses at Golf Recreation Scotland Limited, Turnberry's parent company, amounted to over £2.3 million, or $3.25 million, in 2019.

First, let’s look at the figures. Trump has two golf resorts in Scotland. He opened his first, Trump International Golf Links, in Aberdeenshire in 2012 on a piece of land he had purchased six years before. The course has made a loss every year since.

Company accounts for 2019 – which covered the period before COVID-19 wreaked havoc on many businesses – show that Trump International Golf Club Scotland Limited, which owns the course, posted annual losses of $1.5 million. The total debt on the resort is more than $16 million, the balance sheet shows.

The second course is Turnberry, the jewel in the crown of his global golf empire. He paid $60 million for the storied resort in 2014, where Tom Watson famously scraped a win over Jack Nicklaus at the 1977 Open Championship.

Trump then claimed to have spent a further $150 million on its lavish refurbishment. Turnberry’s parent company, Golf Recreation Scotland, posted a $3.25 million loss on revenue of $26 million in 2019 and owes nearly $160 million to its creditors, the balance sheet shows.

Such losses are not unprecedented in the industry. Running a golf resort profitably is a hard thing to do, said Larry Hirsh, president of Golf Property Analysts, which values and markets golf properties.

“Over the last 10 to 20 years, golf courses have had their challenges,” Hirsh told Insider.

“It costs a lot to go play, and Trump has never been shy about pricing his properties. Certainly, golf has experienced over the last 15 or 20 years a decline in participation,” he said.

However, he added that “it’s certainly not the idea” for major golf courses to lose money, Hirsh said. “I don’t think it’s normal.”

Trump’s golf courses are “not really golf investments”

Trump Turnberry

Donald Trump said in a 2016 interview with Reuters that people looking at the massive losses at his golf resorts were missing the point.

In fact, he said, his resorts were “not really golf investments” but real estate “development deals.”

“It’s pretty simple,” he said. “My golf holdings are really investments in thousands, many thousands of housing units and hotels. At some point, the company will do them. Hopefully, I won’t because I will be president, but we’re in no rush to do them.”

Losses at Trump International Golf Club Scotland Limited, which runs his Aberdeenshire course, amounted to over £1.1 million, or $1.55 million, in 2019.

There is just one problem with those claims: Trump hasn’t built a single residential property on any golf resort he owns in the last decade, in Europe or the United States, Reuters reported.

At his Aberdeenshire resort, he secured provisional permission in 2008 to build around 1,500 luxury homes on farmland surrounding the estate, on the condition he built a hotel and what the Trump Organisation billed as the “world’s greatest golf course.” The economic gains would outweigh the significant environmental impact of the building work, the council said. But neither the houses nor the hotel materialized.

In 2019, he secured approval for a reworked plan to build 500 homes, but construction is yet to start.

At Turnberry, Trump tried and failed to secure permission to develop hundreds of houses on land adjoining the estate. He had boasted to Reuters that he “would have the right to build at least a thousand houses on Turnberry if I wanted to.” But Scottish planners had different ideas: Plans for an 87-house development on farmland adjoining Turnberry were rejected by the local authority in 2019, the Scotsman reported.

The ruling specifically stated that the development had been rejected because it could “negatively affect” the status of Turnberry as an iconic resort – which suggests that Trump’s plan to build houses on his golf resorts may be very unsound from a business perspective.

That brings us to the second theory: Incompetence.

Is it simple incompetence?

trump golf ivanka

“Stupidity and grandiosity should never be overlooked as possible grounds for all of this,” said Daniel Shaviro, the Wayne Perry Professor of Taxation at New York University Law School, who wrote about the former president’s tax returns last year.

Trump’s patchy business record is well-documented. He demonstrated a genius for self-marketing that saw him license out his to resorts and luxury developments all over the world, and ultimately propelled him to the White House. But his businesses have also filed for corporate bankruptcy six times and he counts dozens of hugely expensive failures among his successful business ventures.

Over the decades there were his Atlantic City casinos, which folded after racking up billions of dollars in debt, there was Trump University, which paid out a $25 million settlement to former students in 2017 after New York’s attorney general called it “fraudulent,” and there was a short-lived airline called Trump Shuttle.

The accounts for Turnberry and Trump Links suggest that they may too be two further examples of poorly run businesses. A detailed analysis of Trump’s two courses by Behind the Balance Sheet, a financial research consultancy, illustrated that profits have been consistently lower than at other established rivals in Scotland, including Loch Lomond Golf Club and Gleneagles, the world-famous golf resort. Additionally, capital expenditure has consistently outstripped revenue growth at both resorts. All in all, it’s difficult to see how either business will ever generate a positive return on Trump’s huge initial investment.

Are they being kept for ‘fishy’ tax purposes?

trump golf scotland

Companies House accounts show that Golf Recreation Scotland, Turnberry’s parent company, owes an eye-watering amount to a New York-based trust controlled by one Donald Trump – nearly $160,000,000. Golf Recreation Scotland, which controls Trump’s Aberdeenshire resort, owes Trump personally more than $40 million.

Their loans are unusual, however, because they are interest-free, which is an unusual arrangement because it negates any potential tax benefit of loaning money between companies owned by Trump, Mother Jones reported.

It’s also “a bit fishy” under US tax law, said Daniel Shaviro, the New York University tax expert.

“Under US tax law, you can’t really have an interest-free loan between related parties,” he said.

“There would be a tendency to impute the market interest rate, or else they say it’s really equity.

“So when separate tax entities are engaged in transactions, the idea is that it’s got to be arms-length, it’s got to reflect reality.”

That said, Shaviro said it wasn’t obvious that there was any benefit to the way Trump had set up the loans.

“I don’t see the obvious tax benefits here,” he said. “Whether it’s money-laundering or playing games with lenders, there is a pretty good guess something is going on, but I’m not sure exactly what it would be.”

That brings us to the last unanswered theory.

Trump’s ‘unexplained’ funding for his golf courses

donald trump golf

A group of Scottish lawmakers this year, led by Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie, made headlines around the world when they called for an “unexplained wealth order” into Donald Trump’s finances. Their central question was a simple one: Where did Donald Trump get the money to pay for his resorts in the first place?

Harvie, a member of Scottish parliament, told the house in February: “The purchases in Scotland were part of a very long spending spree, with his spokespeople claiming that he had vast sums of money sitting around and available for investment even though, at the same time, he was apparently being turned down for credit.”

The details are striking: Trump, who used to style himself the “king of debt,” had spent his career building businesses on other people’s borrowed money, even bragging about it on the campaign trail in 2016.

In 2006, he suddenly went on a spending spree, and would spend the next decade buying up more than $400 million worth of properties in cash, the Washington Post reported. The first purchase was his Balmedie estate in 2006; the most expensive of them all was his purchase of Turnberry in 2014, despite the fact it was loss-making then, too. He purchased a course in Doonbeg, Ireland, in the same year, also using cash. So where did it come from?

Harvie alluded to testimony to the US Congress given at a closed-door meeting in 2017 by Glenn Simpson, the head of FusionGPS, the political research agency which produced the controversial Steele dossier on alleged links between Trump and Russia – one part of which was called “misleading” by a UK judge.

Simpson told lawmakers that the firm’s investigations had identified in the Trump Organisation “patterns of buying and selling” real estate that was “suggestive of money laundering.”

Later in his testimony, he said: “Because the Irish and the Scottish courses are under the UK … we were able to get the financial statements.

“And they don’t, on their faces show Russian involvement, but what they do show is enormous amounts of capital flowing into these projects from unknown sources and – or at least on paper it says it’s from the Trump Organisation, but it’s hundreds of millions of dollars. And these golf courses are just, you know, they’re sinks. They don’t actually make any money.”

Trump’s son Eric said Harvie’s claims had “no basis in fact” and called them “disgusting.”

Scotland’s government ultimately rejected these calls for an unexplained wealth order on the grounds that it was for the country’s law officers, not politicians, to instigate such investigations. Nonetheless, these questions about how Trump paid for his golf resorts and why they persist to lose quite so much money will only grow.

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Top Stories this AM: Caitlyn Jenner takes a page from Trump’s book; in-flight unruliness will cost you; the WEF is called off, again

Good morning and welcome to your weekday morning roundup of the top stories you need to know.

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What’s going on today:

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Venmo is blocking some payments mentioning Palestinian relief funds. The company says it’s following the law.

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In this photo illustration the Venmo – Share Payments logo seen displayed on a smartphone.

  • Venmo users say the company is blocking some transactions that mention Palestine-related keywords.
  • Venmo told Insider it’s trying to avoid running afoul of US sanctions laws.
  • But the PayPal-owned company wouldn’t say what caused it to suspend payments.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Some Venmo users are reporting that the PayPal-owned company is preventing them from completing transactions with descriptions mentioning Palestine-related keywords.

Venmo’s customer support inquired about a $50 payment one user received that included the description “Emergency Palestinian Relief Fund,” according to a screenshot the user tweeted.

Venmo said it was “trying to understand… the reference to ‘Palestinian Relief Fund” as well as the “purpose of this payment, including a complete and detailed explanation of what is intended to be paid for and the establishment/location,” according to the screenshot.

Venmo told Insider it was looking into the matter, which it said relates to its obligations under US sanctions laws.

“Venmo takes its regulatory and compliance obligations seriously, including adherence to U.S. economic and trade sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control,” a Venmo spokesperson told Insider, pointing to a blog post about the company’s review process.

That post says Venmo attempts to update users about the status of their payments within 72 hours.

“We strive to balance these obligations with the urgency of our users desire to send humanitarian aid. We understand the importance of these transactions and apologize for any delay that may occur as we work to quickly process payments in compliance with applicable law,” the spokesperson added.

Venmo declined to provide details about what specifically led the company to initiate these reviews, citing security concerns.

A search of OFAC’s sanctions list shows sanctions against groups such as “Palestinian Relief Fund,” “Palestine Development and Relief Fund,” and “Palestinian Relief Society,” as well as Hamas.

But other non-sanctioned groups seem to be getting caught up in Venmo’s automated filters.

A Twitter account affiliated with the Students for Justice in Palestine’s local chapter at the University of Illinois at Chicago instructed potential donors to the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, a legitimate charity, to use the acronym PCRF, saying Venmo appeared to be blocking transactions mentioning the charity’s full name. (PCRF couldn’t immediately be reached for comment).

Various campaigns have sought to raise funds for Palestinians in recent days amid escalating violence in Gaza that has left at least 200 Palestinians and 10 Israelis dead.

Around 600 airstrikes by Israeli forces, many targeting residential homes, have inflicted dozens of civilian casualties, prompting criticism from human rights groups such as Amnesty International, which said the raids “may amount to war crimes.” Hamas has fired back some 1,600 rockets, around 90% of which have been blocked by Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system.

On foreign policy matters, the US has historically sided with Israel, which it considers an ally, though some Democratic leaders recently sought to block Biden’s recent approval of a $735 million deal to sell weapons to the country.

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Amazon reportedly negotiating deal to acquire MGM for around $9 billion

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) logo seen displayed on a smartphone
In this photo illustration the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) logo seen displayed on a smartphone.

Amazon has been in negotiations to acquire MGM for about $9 billion, Variety reported Monday.

The tech giant has reportedly been negotiating a deal for “weeks,” industry sources told the news outlet. The Information first reported on Monday that Amazon was in talks for a potential deal that could run between $7 billion and $10 billion.

“The deal is said to be being orchestrated by Mike Hopkins, senior VP of Amazon Studios and Prime Video, directly with MGM board chairman Kevin Ulrich, whose Anchorage Capital is a major MGM shareholder,” according to the Variety report.

The potential sale of MGM to Amazon could signal the tech company’s move to expand its Amazon Prime streaming inventory to include MGM’s extensive array of content, which include the James Bond, Hobbit, and Pink Panther franchises.

Last month, the company’s streaming service surpassed 200 million Prime members worldwide – 175 million of which streamed Prime Video content in the last year, according to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

MGM Holdings has been exploring a sale since December of last year, Variety reported. At the time that it was considering a sale, the company had a market value of $5.5 billion.

Other companies have also been in the running to acquire MGM, including ViacomCBS and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Representatives from Amazon and MGM did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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Amazon exec Dave Clark pushed USPS to install mailbox now at center of union election controversy

Mailbox Amazon Bessemer
The mailbox outside the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer.

Amazon consumer CEO Dave Clark led the company’s push to persuade the US Postal Service to install a controversial temporary mailbox outside Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, during a recent union election, multiple outlets reported Monday.

“Please let me know where we stand on this — this is a highly visible Dave Clark initiative,” Becky Moore, an Amazon senior manager, said in a January email to USPS officials presented at a National Labor Relations Board hearing Monday, according to Bloomberg.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

Jay Smith, a USPS official in charge of managing major accounts including Amazon, also testified to the NLRB that it was the first time he was aware of the agency installing such a mailbox at the request of a private company, Bloomberg reported.

Photos of the mailbox showed that modifications made by the USPS to accommodate more outgoing ballots could potentially have allowed a recipient assigned to an adjacent incoming mailbox to access the outgoing mail, according to Bloomberg.

Last week, Amazon employee Kevin Jackson testified that he saw the company’s security guards use keys to access that outgoing mail slot, but Amazon denied those allegations, Bloomberg previously reported.

Amazon’s employees voted against unionizing in April. But the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, under which employees would have unionized, filed official objections to the NLRB, claiming Amazon violated labor laws during its anti-union campaign.

The NLRB agreed to hold a hearing to determine whether Amazon acted illegally and whether a new election should be held.

The RWDSU specifically objected to Amazon’s push to convince the USPS to install the mailbox – which came despite the NLRB rejecting Amazon’s requests to force employees to vote in-person – saying the mailbox “provided a clear ability to intimidate workers.”

Amazon previously told Insider the box was an effort to allow workers to vote more easily.

The Washington Post reported last month that the USPS only decided to install the mailbox after repeated requests from Amazon corporate employees, but testimony and evidence presented during the multi-day NLRB hearing has shed more light on Amazon’s tactics.

Smith also testified that the USPS explicitly told Amazon not to place anything around the mailbox that suggested it was where employees needed to vote, CNBC reported. Yet Amazon proceeded to place a tent around the mailbox that read: “Speak for yourself! Mail your ballot here.”

“I was surprised because I was asked, ‘Can anything physical be put on the box?'” Smith said, according to CNBC, adding: “I said no. I did not want to see anything else put around that box indicating that it was a vote.”

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The potential effects of the Supreme Court’s abortion case are ‘really disturbing,’ especially for low-income women and women of color, a lawyer on the case says

Abortion Supreme Court
Pro-choice activists hold signs alongside anti-abortion activists participating in the “March for Life,” an annual event to mark the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the US, outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, January 18, 2019.

  • The US Supreme Court on Monday said it would hear a case about a Mississippi abortion law.
  • The ruling could have a “disturbing” impact on access to abortion, lawyer Rob McDuff told Insider.
  • Anti-abortion laws “have a particularly pronounced impact” on poor and low-income women, he said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The US Supreme Court on Monday announced it would hear arguments in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case regarding a restrictive abortion law in Mississippi. The high court’s ruling could have a “disturbing” impact on abortion access in the US and override decades of legal precedent, a lawyer on the case said.

“We always knew it was a possibility, but it’s pretty rare that the Supreme Court takes a case that calls into question 50 years of precedent,” said attorney Rob McDuff in an interview with Insider on Monday. McDuff represents the Mississippi Center for Justice in the case, told Insider on Monday.

The case concerns a 2018 Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks in gestation. Federal courts blocked the law from taking effect after the sole abortion provider in the state sued, but a ruling from the Supreme Court could reverse the decision, challenging decades-old legal precedent.

Read more: How Marjorie Taylor Greene became the Voldemort of Congress. Few lawmakers even want to say her name.

In the past, the Supreme Court declined to review lower court rulings that had blocked harsh state abortion laws from taking effect, making its decision Monday to hear the Mississippi case all the more startling, McDuff said.

“It’s quite disturbing that the court is now taking up a case that really questions the reasoning of Roe v. Wade,” he said, referencing the 1973 landmark decision by the court that upheld a woman’s right to seek an abortion.

McDuff said he couldn’t speculate which members of the nine-person bench pushed to hear the Mississippi case, but he said the landscape of the court undoubtedly shifted following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last year.

President Donald Trump nominated Justice Amy Coney Barrett to fill in for Ginsburg, who was an abortion rights advocate. Barrett has previously said it was “unlikely” the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade, but suggested the rules around abortion could evolve.

“I don’t think abortion or the right to abortion would change. I think some of the restrictions would change … The question is how much freedom the court is willing to let states have in regulating abortion,” Barrett said in 2016, according to the Associated Press.

Barrett, along with the two other judges Trump nominated, Justices Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh, have shifted the Supreme Court’s ideological balance dramatically toward the right, sounding alarm bells for pro-choice activists.

The Mississippi Center for Justice, of which McDuff is a cofounder, is focused on advancing racial and economic justice. McDuff said anti-abortion legislation put forth in dozens of states, including Mississippi, is at odds with these goals.

“These laws have a particularly pronounced impact on poor women and women of color because it makes it more difficult for them to obtain abortions,” he said. “They can’t afford to travel out of state to a place where it might have better laws.”

Other pro-choice organizations similarly shared concerns about the court’s decision to hear the case Monday.

“If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Mississippi, it will take the decision about whether to have an abortion away from individuals and hand it over to politicians,” said Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, in a statement.

“The American people overwhelmingly support the right of individuals to make this decision for themselves and will not tolerate having this right taken away,” she added.

McDuff said he and others at the Mississippi Center for Justice would work with their counterparts on the lawsuit at the Center for Reproductive Rights, who also represent the plaintiff in the case, to create and execute a legal strategy going forward before arguing the case before the justices next year. A ruling in the case is expected sometime in June 2022.

It’s hard to predict what effect the court’s ruling would have on abortion access, McDuff said, but depending on how the court rules, it could be felt instantly in states across the US.

“The potential is really, really disturbing,” he said.

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FAA proposes combined $100,000 in fines for 4 unruly plane passengers, including man who tried to enter the cockpit

airplane passengers interior
A flight attendant.

  • The FAA announced four civil penalties against passengers totaling more than $100,000 on Monday.
  • The proposed fines stem from incidents of unruly and/or dangerous passenger behavior in recent months.
  • The fines range in amount from $9,000 to $52,500.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Misbehaving in the air may cost delinquents a hefty price as the Federal Aviation Administration cracks down on misconduct amid a surge of troubling episodes in recent months.

The US Department of Transportation agency announced Monday a slew of proposed fines totaling more than $100,000 against four airline passengers accused of interfering with and in one case, assaulting flight attendants.

The largest single civil penalty checks in at $52,500 for a man who had to be physically restrained, according to the FAA.

The most extreme incident happened on a Delta flight from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Seattle, Washington, in December, when a passenger tried to open the cockpit door after repeatedly refusing to comply with crew members’ instructions, the FAA said. The man then physically assaulted a flight attendant, hitting him in the face and pushing him to the floor, before charging at him and threatening him as he tried to restrain the passenger. According to the FAA, flight attendants with the help of another passenger were able to put the man in plastic handcuffs, but the passenger eventually freed himself from the restraints and hit the flight attendant a second time. When the plane landed, police officers took the man, who now faces a $52,500 fine, into custody.

The FAA has proposed a fine of $27,000 against a passenger who made a bomb threat on a Southwest flight from Phoenix, Arizona, to Chicago, Illinois, on January 1. According to the agency, the man began yelling and banging his hands on the seat in front of him shortly after boarding the plane. During the flight, he yelled numerous threats, including that he was going to kill someone, that he had a bomb, and that he was going to blow the plane up. Flight attendants had to relocate multiple passengers nearby and the captain eventually diverted the flight to Oklahoma City, where police took the man into custody.

A JetBlue passenger faces an $18,500 alcohol-related fine stemming from a February flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Las Vegas, Nevada. According to the FAA, a flight attendant noticed the man holding several mini alcohol bottles that the flight crew had not served to him. The attendant told him “multiple times” that he could not drink personal alcohol, but he continued to do so. The man is also accused of failing to comply with the airline’s required mask mandate, wearing it improperly several times and then removing it altogether.

The fourth fine announced Monday also derives from a mask-related incident when a female passenger on an Allegiant Air flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Knoxville, Tennessee, refused to put her mask on properly after being instructed to by flight attendants multiple times. Later in the flight, the FAA said she sat in an exit row while waiting to use the restroom. When a flight attendant told her she couldn’t sit in the exit row, she screamed in the flight attendant’s face while not wearing her mask. When another crew member attempted to give the passenger a disturbance form, the woman began to curse and told the attendants they “couldn’t do anything.”

All four incidents break federal law, which prohibits anyone from interfering with airplane crews or threatening to assault anyone on a flight. The agency said passengers are thus subject to civil penalties because dangerous behavior can disrupt or distract the crew from vital safety duties.

The FAA does not identify individuals who face fines and according to the agency, the passengers have 30 days after notice of the fines to respond to the agency.

Earlier this year, the FAA tightened restrictions on unruly passengers who cause disturbances and refuse to follow crew members’ instructions on commercial flights. The January special order followed multiple incidents linked to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The agency has extended the order indefinitely.

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A sun-skimming spacecraft captured video of a massive plasma eruption on the solar surface for the first time

solar orbiter sun spacecraft
An artist’s impression of the Solar Orbiter observing an eruption on the sun.

The sun is constantly bubbling and bursting. If eruptions on its surface are big enough, they can send billions of tons of plasma and electrically charged particles hurtling toward Earth.

To observe and study those kinds of explosions – called coronal mass ejections (CMEs) – NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) launched the Solar Orbiter probe in February 2020.

The probe made a close approach to our star this year, on February 10, when it flew within 48 million miles (77 million kilometers) of the sun – half the distance between the sun and Earth. As it careened past the sun, back to cooler zones of space, the orbiter caught video footage of two CMEs.

Three imaging instruments on the spacecraft traced the CME as it left the sun and spread through space. The first instrument recorded the sun itself, while the second captured the flow of energy through the sun’s corona, or outer atmosphere.

A third imager captured the stream of electrically charged particles, dust, and cosmic rays flowing out into space from the eruption.

coronal mass ejection cme solar wind gif
The first coronal mass ejection, or CME, observed by the Solar Orbiter Heliospheric Imager appears as a sudden gust of white.

Solar storms can brew dangerous space weather

Outbursts like this are beautiful, and they often interact with Earth’s atmosphere to make the aurora lights, but they can be dangerous.

In 1989, an inundation of electrically charged particles from the sun knocked out Quebec’s power for about nine hours. Two other solar storms cut off emergency radio communications for a total of 11 hours shortly after Hurricane Irma in 2017. A solar storm may have even cut off SOS broadcasts from the Titanic as it sank in 1912.

aurora borealis iss
The aurora borealis, or the “northern lights,” over Canada is sighted from the space station near the highest point of its orbital path, September 15, 2017.

Bursts of solar activity can also endanger astronauts by interfering with their spacecraft or knocking out communications to mission control.

That’s why the Solar Orbiter is investigating such eruptions. Studying the source of these unpredictable electrical storms could help scientists figure out how to protect both astronauts and Earth’s electric grid.

“What we want to do with Solar Orbiter is to understand how our star creates and controls the constantly changing space environment throughout the solar system,” Yannis Zouganelis, an ESA scientist working on the mission, said last year, before the probe launched. “There are still basic mysteries about our star that remain unsolved.”

Watching solar explosions from 2 sides of the sun

On the other side of the sun, near Earth, two other ESA spacecraft – the Proba-2 satellite and the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) – also captured the same two CMEs. The footage below show’s Proba-2’s view of the the eruptions (left) and SOHO’s imagery of the plasma shooting through space (right).

NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, a spacecraft orbiting the sun alongside Earth, also saw the two CMEs. That telescope blocks out the sun to capture eruptions more clearly – its footage is below.

coronal mass ejection cme solar eruption gif
The first CME witnessed by the Solar Orbiter’s Heliospheric Imager, as seen from NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory-A spacecraft.

The sun is entering a new 11-year solar cycle, which means its eruptions and flares are expected to grow more frequent and violent, ramping up to a peak in 2025.

Over the next six years, the Solar Orbiter is set to fly closer to the sun’s poles than any previous probe has come. It’s also expected to send the first photos of the solar poles back to Earth. The spacecraft will be able to keep pace with the sun’s rotation, which enables it to hover over specific spots for long periods of time to watch CMEs and other areas of heightened activity.

By combining data from Solar Orbiter and other space telescopes, NASA and the ESA can watch solar eruptions from their source almost all the way back to Earth.

Already, the Solar Orbiter has spotted these two CMEs and captured the closest images ever taken of the sun. But it’s just getting started. Right now, the spacecraft is in cruise mode – it’s getting its bearings and testing its instruments. The spacecraft is scheduled to start operating all those instruments at full capacity in November. That’s when it will be in full science mode.

Eventually, the probe should venture even closer to the sun than the planet Mercury – within 26 million miles (42 million kilometers).

“We’ve realized in the last 25 years that there’s a lot that happens to a CME between the surface of the sun and Earth,” Robin Colaninno, a researcher working on one of Solar Orbiter’s cameras, said in a NASA release. “So we’re hoping to get much better resolution images of all of these outflows by being closer to the sun.”

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Apple has stored the data of thousands of customers on Chinese servers and censored apps to please the government that controls most of its supply chain, the New York Times reports

Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook.

  • Apple has catered to China’s government as it relies on the country’s supply chain, the NYT reports.
  • Tim Cook approved using servers run by Chinese firms to store customer data, company sources told the NYT.
  • That would make it easy for authorities to access the information of millions of Chinese citizens.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Apple has increasingly bowed to China’s demands as it relies more heavily on its supply chain, which it began building in the nation two decades ago, according to a revealing report from the New York Times’ Jack Nicas, Raymond Zhong, and Daisuke Wakabayashi.

The Times spoke with 17 current and former Apple employees who gave details about how the company has catered to China.

Per those sources, CEO Tim Cook green-lit using servers run by Chinese state-owned companies to store customer data. China also reportedly wouldn’t accept Apple’s use of encryption technology that it typically uses in its data server centers, so the company agreed to abandon it.

That made it easy for authorities to siphon sensitive information from millions of Chinese citizens such as emails, photos, and locations, security experts told the outlet. Such sharing of sensitive information is illegal by US law, as the Times notes.

The tech giant has also complied with the Communist Party’s demands to censor about 55,000 apps from its App Store since 2017 that authorities deemed to be harmful to the government’s values, sources told the Times.

Read more: It’s clear the US does not care about China’s face anymore

Apple employees were tasked with flagging apps that company management perceived would anger the Chinese government, per the report. Topics on those apps that would get flagged include the Dalai Lama and independence for Taiwan, which China argues is a province of the nation. Some apps related to gay dating services and foreign news organizations also disappeared from the store.

A critic of the Communist Party, Guo Wengui, was also a banned topic on Apple’s Chinese App Store, according to internal communications viewed by the Times. An Apple reviewer that approved an app associated with him was fired after Chinese officials contacted the company. Apple said it fired the employee due to poor work performance.

When reached for comment, a representative for Apple pointed Insider to Nicas’ tweet featuring the company’s full statement made to the Times.

It told the publication that it follows Chinese laws and has “never comprised the security of our users or their data in China or anywhere we operate.” Apple also told the publication that it only removed apps from its Chinese app store to abide by China’s laws.

“These decisions are not always easy, and we may not agree with the laws that shape them,” Apple said in the statement. “But our priority remains creating the best user experience without violating the rules we are obligated to follow.”

China is a lucrative market for Apple, with a fifth of the company’s sales coming from the country. Much of the company’s products are assembled in the nation – Apple had the fifth-largest smartphone unit shipment in Q1, according to a 2021 report from the market research firm Canalys.

As the NYT notes, Cook has routinely stated his dedication to human and civil rights, even as reports surface detailing connections between Apple’s Chinese suppliers and forced human labor.

The Information reported last week that seven of apple’s suppliers in China were found to be linked to suspected forced labor of Uyghur Muslims and other persecuted groups from the Xinjiang region. Apple has previously denied using suppliers that relied upon forced Uyghur labor.

You can read the full report on The New York Times here.

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Hamas denies Israel’s claim that it was operating out of a now-destroyed building where AP and Al Jazeera had offices

Al Jalaa tower
A thick column of smoke rises from the Jala Tower as it is destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza city controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, on May 15, 2021

  • Hamas says it wasn’t using a building housing prominent media outlets that Israel destroyed.
  • The building, which housed AP and Al Jazeera offices, was destroyed via a Saturday airstrike.
  • The recent fighting has killed at least 204 Palestinians and 10 Israelis.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Hamas on Monday rejected the Israeli government’s assertion that the militant group was operating out of a Gaza building that housed prominent media outlets and was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike over the weekend.

“Hamas did not have any military or intelligence operations in Al-Jalaa Tower,” Basem Naim, a Hamas official who is the head of the Council on International Relations in Gaza, told The Intercept. Naim’s comments were the first official denial from Hamas to the international media regarding Israel’s claims about the strike.

“We don’t operate anything related to the military wing from civilian houses,” Naim said.

The Associated Press and Al Jazeera, which had offices in the now-destroyed building, have called for an independent investigation into the strike.

The Jerusalem Post, citing anonymous Israeli officials, in a report over the weekend said the US had been provided with a “smoking gun” proving Hamas was using the building.

But Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday said he’d not personally seen any evidence backing up Israel’s claim that Hamas operated out of the building, and the White House has also not said whether it’s been provided with intelligence to back up Israel’s assertions.

“I’m not going to be in a position now or ever of committing or confirming who has or hasn’t seen intelligence,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said to reporters on the matter during Monday’s press briefing.

The Israeli government is facing growing criticism from human rights groups over airstrikes during the past week that have leveled several large buildings in Gaza.

“There is a horrific pattern emerging of Israel launching air strikes in Gaza targeting residential buildings and family homes – in some cases entire families were buried beneath the rubble when the buildings they lived in collapsed,” Saleh Higazi, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement on Monday. “Deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian property and infrastructure are war crimes, as are disproportionate attacks.”

At least 204 Palestinians, including 58 children and 34 women, have been killed as the fighting has intensified since last Monday, according to Gaza’s health ministry, per Reuters. At least 10 people in Israel, including two children and a soldier, have also been killed.

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