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The 10-Point: My Guide to the Day's Top News

The Wall Street Journal
Good morning,
Dial M for Merger
The eve of a presidential election is typically a time when companies put merger plans on hold and wait for clarity on crucial matters such as antitrust policy. Not this year. U.S. companies have unleashed a wave of deals to make this month the busiest ever for mergers and acquisitions. The deal making culminated in Qualcomm’s agreement Thursday to buy NXP Semiconductors for $39 billion, part of a swirl of consolidation in the semiconductor industry and the second-largest pure technology deal of all time. We also report that General Electric is in talks to merge its oil-and-gas business with Baker Hughes, a transaction that would dramatically reshape the industrial giant. A deal—which could be worth more than $20 billion—could be structured such that GE combines the businesses and spins them into a new publicly traded company. The burst of activity is all the more surprising given that political opposition to mergers has grown in recent years and some of the proposed tie-ups may face intense regulatory scrutiny after the election.
Saving Speaker Ryan
House Speaker Paul Ryan, under fire from conservatives for rebuffing Donald Trump, is likely to remain in the top job next year, but his path to get there will be narrow and precarious. Republicans’ willingness to anoint him again will face its first test with the leadership votes that follow close on the heels of the Nov. 8 election. Some are already blaming him for not doing more to shore up party unity following Mr. Trump’s crude comments about women. But Mr. Ryan remains popular with many House Republicans, and perhaps his biggest advantage is that no one so far has emerged as a viable alternative. Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, we report that though former President Bill Clinton stopped charging six-figure fees for his speeches about six months after Hillary Clinton began her presidential run last year, his talks still can be costly, including requiring pricey charter air travel.
Track Your Shipment
America’s biggest filer of patent suits wants you to know that it invented shipping notification. Shipping & Transit doesn’t sell tracking systems, or anything else. But claiming patents “for providing status messages for cargo, shipments and people,” the company and a predecessor have sued dozens of major retailers as well as delivery giants FedEx and UPS, extracting millions of dollars in payments. In 2016, the Florida company sued more than 100 mostly small companies. Recent changes in the U.S. patent system have made it easier for companies with deep pockets to combat claims. We report that Shipping & Transit has turned its sights on scores of small businesses, setting fees low enough to discourage court challenges. And despite hundreds of lawsuits filed by Shipping & Transit and its predecessor, a court has never ruled on the merits of its patent claims.
The Long Wait Series
This is the Halley’s Comet World Series. The Chicago Cubs have been championship-free for the past 108 years, the Cleveland Indians for 68. Therefore they must be cursed, rather than the victims of poor management. Yet with the Series tied at 1-1, the 50 players from the two teams are oddly removed from the burdensome weight of such history. They are mostly young men on young teams that have been largely rebuilt the past three years by new executives, having suffered no recent shocking heartbreak. It is up to the fans to provide historical perspective, such as Hazel Nilson, now 108, who was just a few months old when the Cubs last won the series. “They’re going to do it,” she says. “I will see it.”
TODAY'S VIDEO
First Look: Touch Bar
That Was Painless
Apple’s new MacBook Pro has a touch-screen strip above its keyboard. Our Personal Technology columnist Joanna Stern gives it a try.
TOP STORIES
U.S.

Armed Occupiers of Oregon Wildlife Refuge Acquitted

Mike Pence’s Plane Skids Off Runway at New York’s La Guardia Airport
WORLD

China’s Xi Jinping Tightens His Hold on Communist Party

ISIS Hotbed Looms as Risk in Mosul Fight
BUSINESS

Google Parent Alphabet Gets Boost From Ads

CenturyLink in Advanced Talks to Merge With Level 3 Communications
MARKETS

Inflation Fear Fuels Bond Rout

Barbarians and Raiders Increasingly Play the Same Game
NUMBER OF THE DAY
$3.9 billion
Amazon’s shipping costs in the third quarter, up 43%. The online retail giant posted its lowest quarterly profit in a year as it invested heavily to meet consumer demand for more orders delivered faster.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Does anybody seriously think that Russia could somehow influence the choice of the American people? Is it a banana republic or something? America is a great power.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Kremlin has no preference in the U.S. presidential elections. Mrs. Clinton’s campaign has suggested that Russia is backing Mr. Trump, citing the hacking and leaking of emails from the DNC. U.S. security officials blame the hacking on Russia.
TODAY'S QUESTION
Going back to our story above, what are your thoughts on Mr. Ryan’s precarious path to remain House speaker? Send your comments, which we may edit before publication, to 10point@wsj.com. Please include your name and location.
—Compiled by Margaret Rawson
READER RESPONSE
Responding to yesterday’s question on the pullback in infrastructure spending by cities and states, Howard Sierer of Utah wrote: “City and state governments cater to public employee unions with expensive pension plans. The result: dramatically under-funded pension plans and too little funding to maintain infrastructure. These chickens are coming home to roost while the elected officials who made these commitments are themselves retired.” Glen Fillion of Michigan said: “What an opportunity to get public employees into a defined contribution plan and join the rest of taxpayers in the private sector. It’s about time this change happens. Publicly held and private businesses have had to adjust to reality starting over 25 years ago. Why wait till revenues surge and the opportunity is lost? Never let a good crisis go to waste.” And Jeff Templeton of Pennsylvania commented: “The citizens of the various states face a daunting challenge to invest in themselves because most need to raise taxes to do so but are confronted with the promise of higher taxes from a growing federal government with similar needs.”
This daily briefing is named "The 10-Point" after the nickname conferred by the editors of The Wall Street Journal on the lead column of the legendary "What's News" digest of top stories. Technically, "10-point" referred to the size of the typeface. The type is smaller now but the name lives on.
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