NEW ALBANY, Ohio (AP) — Facebook will spend $750 million on a new data center in central Ohio, the company announced Tuesday — marking another boost for the state’s growing technology sector.
The world’s biggest social media company joined Republican Gov. John Kasich and a host of other dignitaries to announce its 10th data center will be in New Albany, just northeast of Columbus.
The 22-acre (8.9-hectare) data center will be powered exclusively with renewable energy. It is expected to employ 100 people to start and to begin providing services in 2019.
Rachel Peterson, the company’s director of data center strategy and development, said several factors attracted Facebook to the location, including fiber and power infrastructure, government support, livability and the availability of high-tech talent.
“We look at that community fit and how we’re going to live and work in a community,” she said. “We not only live there. We work there, too. We hire there locally. So we want to make sure there’s a strong fit.”
She said the availability of renewable energy sources, including wind, solar and hydro, was critical to the decision — a factor underlined by Kasich, who has pushed back against legislative efforts to turn back the state’s alternative energy requirements.
“It is critical that we continue developing the renewables, because, believe me, at the end of the day, if the Facebooks and the Googles and the PayPals and the Amazons think that we are not committed to renewable energy, they will not come here. Period, end of story,” he said.
Menlo Park, California-based Facebook has been adding data centers in the U.S. and internationally to handle the growing number of photos, videos and additional digital content it must process from its 2 billion users. The Ohio project was code-named Sidecat as it moved through the successful application process for $37 million in state tax incentives.
U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi, whose district will house the facility, said it’s “incredibly important.”
“It continues to show not just the Silicon Valley, but job creators all over the country, that, hey, you know what, something must be happening in Ohio,” the Republican congressman said, noting the hope that a synergy is beginning to build.
Amazon opened three cloud-computing data center sites in central Ohio last year. The company invested about $1 billion in centers in New Albany and two other Columbus suburbs, Dublin and Hilliard.
Kasich said Tuesday’s announcement shows Ohio is diversifying its economy beyond its heavy reliance on manufacturing. He hopes the growing number of tech jobs entice younger workers to move to or remain in Ohio, whose population growth has stagnated as average ages rise.
“Ohio has it all,” Kasich said. “You’ve got the cool factor. You’ve got exciting companies. You’ve got the lower cost of living.”
He noted other recent technology investments in the state, including by Explorys, IBM Analytics and Teradata. Cologix, a Denver-based date company, also plans a $130 million data center on its Columbus campus.
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The wife of Zimbabwe’s president has been accused of assaulting a young woman at an upscale hotel in South Africa, though she did not show up for court Tuesday as police had indicated.
It was not immediately clear where Grace Mugabe was. Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula said in a video posted by local broadcaster eNCA that she had handed herself over to police. But a police spokesman, Vishnu Naidoo, later said no arrest had been made and police were talking with the suspect’s lawyers.
The case draws yet more attention to the increasingly outspoken wife of the world’s oldest head of state, 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe. Last month she challenged her husband publicly for the first time to name a successor, positioning herself as a possibility as his advanced age takes a toll ahead of next year’s election.
Twenty-year-old model Gabriella Engels has accused Grace Mugabe of assaulting her Sunday night while she was visiting mutual friends of Mugabe’s sons in a hotel room in an upscale Johannesburg suburb. She claims the first lady’s bodyguards stood by and watched as Mugabe attacked her.
Engels posted several photos on social media showing a gash in her forehead, which she called a result of the alleged encounter.
“She flipped and just kept beating me with the plug. Over and over,” Engels told local news channel News24. “I had no idea what was going on. I was surprised . I needed to crawl out of the room before I could run away.”
Police confirmed that a 20-year-old woman registered “a case of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm” on Monday, but said the suspect could not be named as she had not yet appeared in court.
“The investigation into this case has already reached an advanced stage,” a police statement on Tuesday said.
It was unclear whether Mugabe would qualify for diplomatic immunity if charges are brought against her.
There was no immediate comment by Zimbabwe’s government or ruling party. Zimbabwean press reported earlier this week that Mugabe, 52, was in South Africa seeking medical attention.
It was not clear Tuesday night whether Mugabe was still in South Africa or had returned to Zimbabwe.
“If she went back, I just hope the police can do something to get her back,” Engels told The Associated Press. “I don’t want her to get away with this.”
She said she had recently met the Mugabe brothers and that mutual friends invited her to hang out at the hotel. She said the brothers were not in the room the night of the alleged assault.
“I don’t know how she got into the hotel room. We didn’t know she was Robert Mugabe’s wife,” Engels said. “I only found out outside when blood was rushing down my face and back.”
Mugabe has been accused of assaults during other overseas trips, including a 2009 visit to Hong Kong in which a photographer accused her of beating him up.
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina sheriff is working to identify and charge protesters who toppled a nearly century-old Confederate statue.
Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews issued a statement Tuesday that investigators are using video footage to identify those responsible for toppling the statue. Law enforcement officers took video throughout the protest Monday in downtown Durham.
But they didn’t intervene as demonstrators climbed a ladder, attached a rope and then pulled down the statue. The protest was in response to violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.
Andrews said he chose to exercise restraint. He said he met with county leaders and protest organizers beforehand and was aware of the potential for vandalism.
County officials didn’t immediately respond to messages asking whether the statue would be put back up.
EUCLID, Ohio (AP) — The mayor of a Cleveland suburb where a white police officer repeatedly punched a black man and hit his head on pavement is promising a thorough review.
Euclid (YOO’-klihd) Mayor Kirsten Gail on Monday attended a community relations task force meeting where protesters raised questions about police treatment of residents, especially minorities.
In a statement , Gail says cellphone and dashcam video of the Saturday altercation after a traffic stop raise “serious concerns.” She says officials will take “appropriate action” after reviewing it.
Police say a 25-year-old Cleveland man ignored an officer’s orders and began resisting. Video show a three-minute struggle before the man is handcuffed with help from other officers.
He is charged with driving under suspension and resisting arrest. He hasn’t commented.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — During recent trips to Croatia and Malta, a Dubai-based billionaire and business partner of the Trump Organization looked more like a head of state himself — mingling with government dignitaries, receiving a presidential reception and visiting the glittering Mediterranean Sea.
Hussain Sajwani met with leaders in the two European nations and addressed local journalists, many of whom referred to his ties to President Donald Trump or simply called him “the Donald of Dubai.”
Sajwani’s trips, as well as a recent deal in Oman, show that Trump’s business partner in Dubai wants to expand his development empire beyond the Mideast and a tower under construction in London.
Enter Sajwani’s DAMAC Properties, which launched a new effort this week to sell Trump-branded villas at the golf course bearing the American president’s name.
“My dream is as we have put our major, iconic tower in London, that we do repeat that in major gateway cities around the world,” Sajwani said in a July online video. “Tokyo, Toronto, New York, Paris, I don’t know. But that would be a dream — to grow DAMAC with its iconic brands around the world.”
Sajwani’s dream for a global expansion — as well his growing online presence among social media videos and posts — received a major boost with Trump taking the White House. It also raised the public profile of a billionaire whose fortune grew in part out of contracting work his companies did in supplying U.S. forces during the 1991 Gulf War that expelled Iraqi forces from Kuwait.
DAMAC Properties declined an Associated Press interview request with Sajwani. In a statement, DAMAC spokesman Niall McLoughlin said the company is “exploring opportunities in major gateway cities across Europe and the U.S., hence the numerous and ongoing meetings over the past many years” by Sajwani.
Sajwani wholeheartedly embraced Trump, even as the U.S. presidential candidate’s campaign saw him call for a “complete shutdown” of Muslims coming to the United States. Once reaching office, Trump’s travel ban on six predominantly Muslim countries avoided naming the UAE, a major U.S. ally that hosts some 5,000 American troops and is the U.S. Navy’s busiest foreign port of call.
In February, Trump’s sons Eric and Donald Jr. opened the Trump International Golf Club in Dubai , the first of two to be built in the sheikhdom by Sajwani. DAMAC share prices have nearly doubled from 2.17 dirhams (59 cents) a share on the day of the U.S. election in November, to a high of over 4 dirhams ($1.09).
That made Sajwani, who owns over 70 percent of DAMAC stock, even richer.
However, economies overall have slowed across the Middle East amid a glut in global oil prices. An ongoing diplomatic dispute between Arab nations and Qatar has likely also affected DAMAC, as 6 percent of all its customers from 2014 to 2016 were Qataris, according to an April filing by the company on the Nasdaq Dubai. DAMAC announced results Monday that put its second-quarter earnings at 704 million dirhams ($191.6 million), down from 864 million dirhams ($235.2 million) in the same period last year.
Facing that sluggish market, Sajwani has begun to look abroad.
In Oman, he signed a deal in June with the state-run Oman Tourism Development Co. for DAMAC to help redevelop Port Sultan Qaboos in Muscat, a project valued overall at $1 billion.
Then in July, Sajwani visited Croatia and met with President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic. Sajwani also visited tourist towns along the coast of the Adriatic Sea, according a DAMAC statement at the time. The local branch of Colliers International, a commercial real estate firm headquartered in Toronto, said it organized the three-day trip for Sajwani, trying to pitch him on developments on the Istria peninsula and Central and Southern Dalmatia.
DAMAC “continues to look at the investment opportunities” in Croatia, primarily along the Adriatic, said Vedrana Likan, the managing partner of Colliers’ Croatian arm.
Sajwani then traveled to Malta, an archipelago nation off Italy in the Mediterranean Sea, and met with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
Both Croatia and Malta are members of the European Union, which Emirati citizens have been able to travel to without visas since 2015. That can drive business for any possible DAMAC project in either country, as well as create new European interest in Dubai, where the developer makes its real money, said Issam Kassabieh, an analyst with the UAE-based firm Menacorp Finance.
“It’s a very effective method of branding,” Kassabieh said. “Once foreign investors see the DAMAC name in Europe, they’ll follow it all the way back to the source, which is Dubai, so they can capitalize on it here.”
Meanwhile, DAMAC Properties just this week launched a new set of Trump-branded duplex villas, priced from 2.96 million dirhams ($806,000) that include three-year memberships at the golf course. The company previously offered stand-alone villas at prices starting at 5 million dirhams ($1.3 million) up to 15 million dirhams ($4 million).
The Trump Organization, now run by Trump’s adult sons though the president hasn’t divested from it, also tweeted that the new villas were for sale . It told the AP that the villas are “not a new project” and represented “our longstanding relationship with DAMAC Properties.”
While DAMAC merely mentions Trump as representing “the most respected developments throughout the world,” one Dubai newspaper more bluntly suggested buyers could “own a piece of the Trump name.”
And while it remains unclear how Sajwani trades on his Trump ties in private meetings with foreign leaders, advertising and marketing by DAMAC prominently features Trump. That could lead to potential conflicts, said Norman Eisen, who served as President Barack Obama’s lead ethics attorney and who now is a part of a watchdog group suing Trump for his alleged violations of a clause of the U.S. Constitution that prohibits foreign gifts and payments.
If Sajwani “is featuring the Trump name in his marketing materials and if, as one can fairly assume, that’s being furnished to government officials and others, then that would be a not-very-subtle attempt to trade on his business partner’s presence in the White House,” Eisen said.
Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellap . His work can be found at http://apne.ws/2galNpz .
NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump went home to Trump Tower on Monday for the first time since his inauguration, with a throng of chanting protesters awaiting — but never seeing — him.
Thousands of demonstrators roared “shame, shame, shame” and “not my president!” while watching for Trump’s motorcade along Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, but it ultimately approached from another direction. A far smaller crowd of Trump supporters also awaited him.
Onlookers who did see the motorcade greeted it with cellphone cameras and a few obscene gestures.
By the tower, some protesters carried signs with such messages as “impeach” and “the White House is no place for white supremacy.” Chants including “love, not hate — that’s what makes America great” and “New York hates you!” echoed off the surrounding buildings. Nearby, an inflatable, rat-like caricature of Trump stood by The Plaza hotel.
Adam Vazquez had protested at Trump Tower on Election Night and said he returned because he felt the country had hit “a pivotal point,” particularly after the white supremacist rally that descended into violence Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Republican president’s initial condemnation of bigotry and violence “on many sides, on many sides” spurred two days of pressure to specifically denounce white supremacist groups, which he did Monday.
“It shows you that the president, in a time of crisis, could not step up,” said Vazquez, a 26-year-old video and content producer. “That is something we have to take note of, coming out tonight and showing that this is not OK.”
Meanwhile, about two dozen Trump fans near The Plaza chanted “God bless President Trump” and carried American flags and signs with such sentiments as “now is not the time for divisiveness.”
“We are here to show President Trump … that he has a lot of fans here, even in liberal New York City, even in Manhattan,” said Ariel Kohane, a 46-year-old member of a group called Jews for Trump.
He said he supported the president because of his views on national security, immigration and fighting radical Islamists and crime, among other issues. The anti-Trump protesters, to him, are “left-wing, liberal Communist snowflakes.”
With supporters and anti-Trump demonstrators penned behind police barricades across the sidewalk, both sides yelled at each other, “Go home!”
A block south of Trump Tower, police officers with bullhorns confronted protesters pressing against and straining the barricades, telling the demonstrators to step back. Police said two people were arrested for disorderly conduct amid the protests but didn’t say where or when.
Police stationed sand-filled sanitation trucks as barriers around Trump’s signature skyscraper and layers of metal police barricades around the main entrance.
After Trump was elected, security around the tower ramped up dramatically, with barricades and checkpoints manned by scores of uniformed police officers. The security precautions have been lessened somewhat in Trump’s absence but still have inconvenienced residents and business owners in the busy area, home to stores such as Tiffany and Louis Vuitton.
Trump, a native New Yorker, said Friday that he had stayed away since January because he realized the impact of the street closings and other aspects of a presidential visit.
“I would love to go to my home in Trump Tower, but it’s very, very disruptive to do,” he said.
And protesters, including City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, were not welcoming him.
Gabby Parra, a 17-year-old high school senior from Teaneck, New Jersey, said she did not have “the proper words to describe” her dislike for Trump. She said she feels the president dehumanizes minorities, noting that he launched his campaign by portraying Mexico as a source of rapists and murderers coming into the U.S.
The Rev. Jan Powell, a retired minister of the United Church of Christ, is troubled by Trump, too, and particularly resented his response to the violence in Virginia.
Still, she said, “I pray for him every day. We are both human beings.”
Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz and Jonathan Lemire contributed to this report.