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FILE PHOTO: A sculpture with Euro symbol is pictured in front of the European Parliament in Brussels
FILE PHOTO: A sculpture of Euro symbol is pictured in front of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, May 2, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

June 19, 2019

By Dhara Ranasinghe

LONDON (Reuters) – Mario Draghi’s dramatic Tuesday hints of further monetary easing by the European Central Bank has stabilized collapsing euro zone inflation expectations, but the departing ECB chief will struggle to calm market fears of Japan-style economic stagnation.

Draghi shocked the markets by saying the ECB bank would ease policy again if inflation fails to accelerate. That sparked the biggest one-day fall in euro area bond yields in years as investors bet that yet another cut in its sub-zero deposit rate was in the offing, and possibly even a resumption of its 2.6 trillion euro bond-buying stimulus.

His broadside arrested the relentless fall in investor inflation expectations that at its core reflects doubts about the ECB’s ability to achieve its near 2% target with a toolkit now depleted by years of monetary stimulus.

Having slid since the June 6 ECB meeting to almost half the ECB’s medium-term target, a key long-term market inflation gauge – the five-year, five-year breakeven forward rate – posted its biggest ever one-day jump after Draghi spoke on Tuesday.

(Graphic: Inflation expectations surge after Draghi’s Sintra speech – https://tmsnrt.rs/2Y6NUb2)

But that 10 basis-point pop to a two-week high of 1.29% on Wednesday still leaves the rate more than half a percentage point shy of where the ECB is targeting.

“Given that inflation expectations essentially drive realized future inflation…we can see that Draghi is trying to avert the prospect of deflation,” said Justin Onuekwusi, portfolio manager at Legal & General Investment Management.

Strategists reckon the behavior of this key gauge shows both that Draghi was correct to be more aggressive about promising “whatever it takes” to avoid falling prices and that the ECB has much more work to do.

“The five-year, five-year forward inflation rising is a sign that the ECB is regaining some credibility in achieving its goals. But action will have to follow,” said Benjamin Schroeder, senior rates strategist at ING in Amsterdam.

The measure is tracked by the ECB and so followed closely by market watchers and economists.

A 10 bps ECB rate cut is now fully priced in by October, and another is anticipated in 2020. Commerzbank expects the ECB to move as early as July.

The shift echoes a dramatic change globally in rate expectations for major central banks in the last six months.

(Graphic: Global rate cut bets rise – https://tmsnrt.rs/2Irovnl)

The ECB is not the only central bank battling both low inflation and low expectations for inflation.

A key long-term gauge of U.S. inflation expectations has also fallen sharply in recent months and is now below 2% and close to its lowest since 2016.

In Japan, struggling with deflation for much of the last quarter-century, the central bank has pushed back its forecast for hitting its own inflation target numerous times over the years, and inflation expectations remain low.

Part of the problem for central banks is that changes such as technology point to a structural shift lower in inflation.

Just 9% of investors expect higher global inflation in the next year, down 30 percentage points from last month, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s June fund manager survey.

(Graphic: Global multiverse bond index at lowest since 2016 – https://tmsnrt.rs/2XY2zp9)

For sure, not all inflation indicators send the same worrying signals as the five-year, five-year forward, leading to some concern that the ECB is too focused on market indicators.

Euro zone wages rose in the first quarter of the year at the highest pace recorded since the data was first collected.

In addition, UniCredit Bank head of macro research Marco Valli estimates that price gauges from the real economy are currently in line with or above their long-term averages. That contrasts with the end of 2014 and early 2016 – when the ECB last ramped up quantitative easing.

And while Germany’s ZEW economy sentiment index, which takes into consideration inflation expectations, has fallen in recent months, it remains well off the lows plumbed during the 2012 euro zone debt crisis.

The ECB’s job in boosting long-term inflation is much harder because even after years of quantitative easing, which it only ended in December, and record low interest rates, inflation — at just 1.2% — remains well below target.

In fact, it has consistently undershot the ECB’s target since 2013.

“The problem is that the ECB is so near to the end of their monetary policy instruments, it is clear that they cannot cut interest rates more than one or maximum two times anymore,” said Ulrich Leuchtmann, head of FX & EM Research at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

“The ECB, like every other central bank, is near the end of its means, which means every step is less effective than it normally would be.”

And the slide in the five-year, five-year gauge — down 30 bps this year alone — is a concern because of what it says about investor faith in the ECB’s ability to meet its mandate.

Low inflation is damaging to economic growth because if consumers and corporates think price rises will be slow or even move down they may hold off on the spending activity that boosts an economy.

“Inflation expectations are an important input,” said Hermes Investment Management economist Silvia Dall’Angelo.

“They provide a pull for inflation toward target and because now inflation expectations are no longer consistent with target, it’s very hard for the ECB to bring inflation back.”

(Reporting by Dhara Ranasinghe, Karin Strohecker, Helen Reid, Sujata Rao; Graphics by Saikat Chatterjee and Sujata Rao; Editing by Mike Dolan and Hugh Lawson)

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FILE PHOTO: People attend a symbolic funeral prayer for Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the courtyard of Fatih mosque in Istanbul
FILE PHOTO: People attend a symbolic funeral prayer for Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the courtyard of Fatih mosque in Istanbul, Turkey November 16, 2018. REUTERS/Huseyin Aldemir/File Photo

June 19, 2019

RIYADH (Reuters) – Moments before Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed and dismembered last October, two of his suspected murderers laying in wait at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate fretted about the task at hand, according to a U.N. report published on Wednesday.

Will it “be possible to put the trunk in a bag?” asked Maher Mutreb, a Saudi intelligence officer who worked for a senior advisor to Saudi crown prince, according to a report from the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions.

“No. Too heavy,” responded Salah al-Tubaigy, a forensics doctor from the Interior Ministry who would dismember and dispose of the body. He expressed hope his task would “be easy”.

Tubaiqy continued: “Joints will be separated. It is not a problem. The body is heavy. First time I cut on the ground. If we take plastic bags and cut it into pieces, it will be finished. We will wrap each of them.”

Mutreb and 10 others are now standing trial in closed hearings in Saudi Arabia for their role in the crime.

Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, rejected the investigator’s report as “nothing new”.

He added in a tweet: “The report of the rapporteur in the human rights council contains clear contradictions and baseless allegations which challenge its credibility.”

The report, which calls for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other senior Saudi officials to be investigated over their liability for Khashoggi’s death, relies on recordings and forensic work conducted by Turkish investigators and information from the trials of the suspects in Saudi Arabia.

Khashoggi, a critic of the prince and a Washington Post columnist, was last seen at the consulate where he was to receive papers ahead of his wedding.

TEXT MESSAGE

The report concludes that his murder was deliberate and premeditated. The CIA and some Western countries believe the crown prince ordered the killing, which Saudi officials deny.

Media reports have published the contents of some recordings obtained from inside the consulate, but the U.N. report discloses chilling new details.

At the end of the exchange with Tobaigy, Mutreb asks if “the sacrificial lamb” has arrived. At no point is Khashoggi’s name mentioned, but two minutes later he enters the building.

Khashoggi is ushered to the consul general’s office on the second floor where he meets Mutreb, whom he knew from when they worked together at the Saudi Embassy in London years earlier.

Mutreb tells Khashoggi to send his son a mobile text message.

“What should I say? See you soon? I can’t say kidnapping,” Khashoggi responds.

“Cut it short,” comes the reply. “Take off your jacket.”

“How could this happen in an embassy?” Khashoggi says. “I will not write anything.”

“Type it, Mr. Jamal. Hurry up. Help us so that we can help you because at the end we will take you back to Saudi Arabia and if you don’t help us you know what will happen at the end; let this issue find a good end,” Mutreb says.

The report says the rest of the recordings contain sounds of movement, heavy panting and plastic sheets being wrapped, which Turkish intelligence concluded came after Khashoggi’s death as Saudi officials dismembered his body.

(Reporting By Stephen Kalin, Editing by William Maclean)

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Turkish President Erdogan greets his supporters during an opening ceremony in Istanbul
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan greets his supporters during an opening ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey, June 18, 2019. Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS

June 19, 2019

By Orhan Coskun, Humeyra Pamuk and Jonathan Spicer

ANKARA/ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has gone on the warpath against the main opposition days ahead of a re-run of a mayoral vote in Istanbul, scrapping plans to avoid divisive rhetoric that some officials in his ruling AK Party believed would alienate voters.

Standing atop a bus in Istanbul on Tuesday, Erdogan claimed the opposition’s mayoral candidate Ekrem Imamoglu aligned with coup plotters, without presenting evidence, and later warned of unspecified actors targeting Turkey’s independence.

After weeks of keeping an uncharacteristically low profile, the president re-inserted himself into the campaign with his usual confrontational style.

The switch is a risk for Erdogan and the AK Party (AKP), which suffered a shock defeat in Istanbul in March local elections – a loss that some in his party believed was in part due to the president’s uncompromising style.

The loss marked one of his biggest setbacks in 16 years in power, and the AKP challenged the result.

According to interviews with five party officials, as well as their advisers, Erdogan and his party had decided in recent weeks to effectively air-brush the president from the campaign ahead of the June 23 Istanbul vote, including erasing his face from highway-side billboards and cancelling dozens of planned rallies across the city.

AKP officials had concluded that Erdogan’s uncompromising approach had become a liability with some key voters in Istanbul, especially Kurds and AKP supporters who were turned off by his polarizing rhetoric, the party insiders said.

By laying low, Erdogan also could have distanced himself in the event of another defeat, advisers added.

But things changed earlier this week with internal party polling showing Imamoglu slightly ahead, prompting Ergodan to intervene, according to two of the people.

In recent days, “Erdogan had asked party officials if it is possible to arrange a meeting or a rally to make a speech every day in Istanbul” ahead of the vote, a senior AKP official said. “That’s the new strategy.”

Defeat on Sunday for Erdogan’s hand-picked mayoral candidate, former prime minister Binali Yildirim, would serve as a further embarrassment for the president after the AKP succeeded in annulling the March result.

It would also weaken what only three months ago appeared to be his iron grip on power as Turkey battles recession, jockeys in war-torn Syria, and balances its U.S. and Russian ties.

It may embolden challengers to his rule, although it wouldn’t immediately affect the balance of power in Ankara.

An AKP spokesman declined to comment on the shifting strategy.

In public appearances in recent days, Erdogan urged supporters to help him rally voters this weekend.

“We can’t hand our Istanbul to these liars,” Erdogan said in a speech on Tuesday, referring to the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and its mayoral candidate Imamoglu.

Imamoglu has denied any links with the coup plotters.

“I know things will be said,” Imamoglu said in an interview with state broadcaster TRT Haber late Tuesday. He added: “These attacks are the attacks of those who cannot digest that we are ready for the task.”

STRATEGY ‘BACKFIRED’

Erdogan, the country’s most dominant political figure since the modern Turkish state’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, launched his own career in Istanbul and had served as its mayor.

The AKP and its Islamist predecessors had for 25 years controlled the city, which has a budget of close to $4 billion and accounts for a third of the country’s economic output.

Ahead of Turkey’s local elections in March, Erdogan held up to eight rallies a day addressing thousands of voters and millions more on live television. He delivered tough nationalist messages, asking voters to support the AKP as “a matter of survival.”

“The Erdogan campaign strategy backfired, especially among Kurds and middle-class conservatives,” in part because of his polarizing rhetoric said Galip Dalay, a visiting scholar at the University of Oxford.

After Erdogan’s Istanbul mayoral candidate Yildirim lost by some 13,000 votes, the AKP complained that the election was marred by irregularities.

Last month, Turkey’s High Election Board scheduled the re-run, a move that opponents said was politically influenced and heightened concerns about eroding rule of law and institutional independence.

According to AKP officials and insiders, the party is targeting the 1.7 million voters who stayed home on March 31, particularly conservative Kurds and AKP supporters looking for more focus on fixing the country’s stalled economy.

“People who didn’t vote and disenchanted voters, as well as Kurdish voters, will be a major factor,” said one AKP official, who added that the party was looking to boost turnout from an already high 84 percent in March to 94 percent.

The party had in recent weeks emphasized a face-to-face campaign in areas that had relatively low overall turnout and high Kurdish populations, officials say.

That included bringing several elderly Kurdish leaders from the country’s southeast to the city to build support in small neighborhood gatherings, sources close to the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) told Reuters.

But a return to a prominent role for Erdogan in the campaign in the past few days followed fresh polling data and a debate on Sunday between the two mayoral candidates.

Imamoglu, who won the March vote, was gaining momentum, according to figures published Monday by polling firm Mak Danismanlik. Internal polls from the two leading parties showed the CHP candidate enjoying a narrow lead over the AKP’s Yildirim as of last week.

“Erdogan looked at the internal polls and saw that Yildirim still lagged behind, so he decided to go all in,” said one source close to the party with knowledge of the recent polling. “But it could have the opposite impact on voters and push them away.”

COURTING KURDS

In Istanbul’s working-class Esenyurt district, where turnout was low in March and the CHP ousted the AKP, resident Halil Cetin said Erdogan should step back.

“This survival rhetoric was too much at the center and people were annoyed by this, saying ‘This is a municipal vote, what kind of a survival issue could there be?’” said Cetin, originally from Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish Diyarbakir region. Yildirim “resonates,” he added.

Among the overtures the AKP has made to Kurds in recent weeks was lifting a years-long ban on lawyers visiting jailed Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan, a move that prompted several Kurdish lawmakers and thousands of prison inmates to end hunger strikes.

But such gestures were unlikely to make a meaningful impact on Kurdish voters, said HDP Group Chairman Saruhan Oluc. “These little acts have no chance of creating a positive response,” he said in an interview.

The economy remains another key challenge for AKP and Erdogan, who have seen support hurt by last year’s currency crisis that tipped Turkey’s economy into recession, devalued the lira by 30% and sent inflation soaring.

“The economy is problematic. The voters are heavily influenced by the developments in the economy and we see the impact of that by them not going to the ballot box,” the senior AKP official said.

(Additional reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen in Istanbul and Ece Toksabay and Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Cassell Bryan-Low)

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An Iraqi soldier stands next to a military vehicle at the entry of Zubair oilfield after a rocket struck the site of residential and operations headquarters of several oil companies in Basra
An Iraqi soldier stands next to a military vehicle at the entry of Zubair oilfield after a rocket struck the site of residential and operations headquarters of several oil companies at Burjesia area, in Basra, Iraq June 19, 2019. REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani

June 19, 2019

By Aref Mohammed and Ahmed Rasheed

BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) – A rocket hit a site in southern Iraq used by foreign oil companies on Wednesday, including U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil, wounding three people and threatening to further escalate U.S.-Iran tensions in the region.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack near Iraq’s southern city of Basra, the fourth time in a week that rockets have struck near U.S. installations.

Three previous attacks on or near military bases housing U.S. forces near Baghdad and Mosul caused no casualties or major damage. None of those incidents were claimed.

An Iraqi security source said it appeared that Iran-backed groups in southern Iraq were behind the Basra incident.

“According to our sources, the team (that launched the rocket) is made up of more than one group and were well trained in missile launching,” the security source said.

He said they had received a tip-off several days ago the U.S. consulate in Basra might be targeted but were taken by surprise when the rocket hit the oil site.

Abbas Maher, mayor of the nearby town of Zubair, said he believed Iran-backed groups had specifically targeted Exxon to “send a message” to the United States.

U.S.-Iranian hostility has risen since President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and other world powers in May last year.

Trump has since reimposed and extended U.S. sanctions on Iran, forcing states to boycott Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own. Tehran has threatened to abandon the nuclear pact unless other signatories act to rein in the United States.

The U.S. face-off with Iran reached a new pitch following attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf in May and June that Washington blames on Tehran. Iran denies any involvement.

ESCALATION FEARED

While the long-time foes say they do not want war, the United States has reinforced its military presence in the region and analysts say violence could nonetheless escalate.

Some Western officials have said the recent attacks appear designed to show Iran could sow chaos if it wanted.

Iraqi officials fear their country, where powerful Iran-backed Shi’ite Muslim militias operate in close proximity to some 5,200 U.S. troops, could become an arena for escalation.

The United States has pressed Iraq’s government to rein in Iran-backed paramilitary groups, a tall order for a cabinet that suffers from its own political divisions.

Iraq’s military said three people were wounded in Wednesday’s strike by a short-range Katyusha missile. It struck the Burjesia site, west of Basra, which is near the Zubair oilfield operated Italy’s Eni SpA.

Police said the rocket landed 100 meters from the part of the site used as a residence and operations center by Exxon. Some 21 Exxon staff were evacuated by plane to Dubai, a security source said.

Zubair mayor Maher said the rocket was fired from farmland around three to four kilometers (2 miles) from the site. A second rocket landed to the northwest of Burjesia, near a site of oil services company Oilserv, but did not explode, he said.

“We cannot separate this from regional developments, meaning the U.S.-Iranian conflict,” Maher said.

“These incidents have political objectives … it seems some sides did not like the return of Exxon staff.”

EXPORTS UNAFFECTED

Exxon had evacuated its staff from Basra after a partial U.S. Baghdad embassy evacuation in May and staff had just begun to return.

Burjesia is also used as a headquarters by Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Eni., according to Iraqi oil officials.

The officials said operations including exports from southern Iraq were not affected.

A separate Iraqi oil official, who oversees foreign operations in the south, said the other foreign firms had no plans to evacuate and would operate as normal.

A Shell spokesman said its employees had “not been subject to the attack … and we continue normal operations in Iraq.”

Wednesday’s rocket strike fits into a pattern of attacks since May, when four tankers in the Gulf and two Saudi oil pumping stations were attacked.

They have been accompanied by a spate of incidents inside Shi’ite-dominated Iraq, which is allied both to the United States and fellow Shi’ite Muslim Iran.

The attacks in Iraq have caused less damage but have all taken place near U.S. military, diplomatic or civilian installations, raising suspicions they were part of a campaign.

A rocket landed near the U.S. embassy in Baghdad last month causing no damage or casualties. The United States had already evacuated hundreds of diplomatic staff from the embassy, citing unspecified threats from Iran.

Iran backs a number of Iraqi Shi’ite militias which have grown more powerful after helping defeat Islamic State.

Iraqi officials say that threats from Iran cited by Washington when it sent additional forces to the Middle East last month included the positioning by Iran-backed militias of rockets near U.S. forces.

Rockets hit on or near three separate military bases housing U.S. forces near Baghdad and in the northern city of Mosul in three separate attacks since Friday.

(Additional reporting by Rania El Gamal in Dubai; Writing by John Davison; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Jon Boyle and Andrew Cawthorne)

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Former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks is seen during a closed door interview before the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill
Former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks is seen during a closed door interview before the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 19, 2019. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

June 19, 2019

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Hope Hicks, once a close aide to U.S. President Donald Trump, arrived on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to face questions in Congress about six instances in which Democrats believe Trump may have broken the law during the 2016 presidential campaign and while in the White House.

The White House has asserted immunity over testimony by Hicks involving her 14 months in the Trump administration, according to a knowledgeable source, continuing its strategy of not cooperating with House investigations.

The 30-year-old Hicks, accompanied by two personal lawyers, ignored shouted questions from reporters as she arrived just before 9 a.m. (1300 GMT) to appear under subpoena in a closed session of the House Judiciary Committee.

Two White House lawyers also were expected to join her, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

Hicks could remain well into the evening, fielding a wide range of questions from the panel’s 41 Democratic and Republican lawmakers and staff.

Hicks was Trump’s former campaign press secretary and his White House communications director until she left in March 2018 and later became chief communications officer and executive president for Fox Corporation, parent company of Fox News.

Democrats want to hear from her about alleged hush money payments made during the campaign to two women, including porn star Stormy Daniels, who say they had affairs with Trump. He has denied the affairs.

They also want Hicks to talk about five examples of potential obstruction of justice by Trump that are laid out in U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian election interference in the 2016 presidential election, as well as the president’s efforts to impede the Mueller investigation.

Hicks was mentioned 183 times in Mueller’s report.

Assertions during questioning of executive privilege, a legal principle sometimes cited by presidents to keep White House information under wraps, would block a key line of inquiry by the committee and could lead to a subsequent legal challenge.

Despite the closed setting, Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, view Hicks’ appearance as a breakthrough for their congressional investigation, which could trigger impeachment proceedings against the president if it unearths evidence of serious misconduct.

Democrats say her appearance could help undermine Trump’s strategy of stonewalling congressional investigators by encouraging others to cooperate with them and by giving investigators the chance to challenge any executive privilege assertions, possibly in federal court.

MANY TOPICS

Democrats want Hicks to testify about an effort by the president to mislead the public about a June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower in New York, where the Mueller report said campaign officials, including the president’s son Donald Trump Jr., met with Russians offering “dirt” on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. A key question is whether Trump himself was aware of the meeting at the time.

Aides said Hicks also would be asked about alleged obstruction by Trump involving McGahn, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former FBI Director James Comey and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

A transcript of her testimony, which will be released after the interview, will be featured at a Thursday hearing where the committee will examine an ABC News interview, in which Trump said he saw nothing wrong with accepting damaging information about a U.S. political opponent from a foreign government, aides said.

The White House last month asserted executive privilege to block the release of Mueller’s unredacted report and related evidence, such as investigative interviews. The committee and the Justice Department have since reached an agreement giving panel members access to more of the Mueller report and some underlying material from the investigation.

The House voted 229-191 on June 11 on party lines to

authorize House committees to file lawsuits in federal court seeking orders from judges to compel officials to cooperate with official congressional demands for testimony or evidence.

Former White House Counsel Don McGahn, a star witness in the Mueller report, last month defied a subpoena for his testimony and documents after the White House directed him not to cooperate with the Judiciary panel.

McGahn could face legal action. Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said last week that other witnesses, including Hicks and former McGahn aide Annie Donaldson, also could face court action if they defy committee subpoenas.

Mueller’s 448-page report found insufficient evidence to establish that the Trump campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Moscow, despite numerous contacts between the campaign and Russia. It also described numerous attempts by Trump to impede Mueller’s investigation but stopped short of declaring that he committed a crime.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Peter Cooney and Bill Trott)

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Russian national Oleg Pulatov, accused of downing of flight MH17, is seen in this handout photo
Russian national Oleg Pulatov, one of the accused of downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, nearly five years after the crash that killed 298 passengers and crew, is seen in this handout photo released by Dutch Police and obtained by Reuters on June 19, 2019. Dutch Police/Handout via REUTERS

June 19, 2019

By Toby Sterling and Anthony Deutsch

NIEUWEGEIN, Netherlands (Reuters) – Three Russians and a Ukrainian will face murder charges for the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine which killed 298 people, in a trial to start in the Netherlands next March, an investigation team said on Wednesday.

The suspects are likely to be tried in absentia, however, as the Netherlands has said Russia has not cooperated with the investigation and is not expected to hand anyone over.

“These suspects are seen to have played an important role in the death of 298 innocent civilians”, said Dutch Chief Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke.

“Although they did not push the button themselves, we suspect them of close cooperation to get the (missile launcher) where it was, with the aim to shoot down an airplane.”

Dutch Justice Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus said in a letter to parliament the Netherlands had taken unspecified “diplomatic steps” against Moscow for failing to fully comply with legal requests or providing incorrect information.

The Dutch-led international team tasked with assigning criminal responsibility for the plane’s destruction named the four suspects as Russians Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Igor Girkin, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko. It said international arrest warrants for the four had been issued.

Girkin, 48, a vocal and battle-hardened Russian nationalist, is believed to live in Moscow where he makes regular public appearances. He is a commentator on Russian and foreign affairs via his own website and YouTube channel.

“The rebels did not shoot down the Boeing,” Girkin told Reuters on Wednesday without elaborating.

Ukrainian authorities said they would try to detain Kharchenko, the suspect believed to be on their territory.

MH17 was shot out of the sky on July 17, 2014, over territory held by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine as it was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Everyone on board was killed.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “The Russian Federation must now cooperate fully with the prosecution and provide any assistance it requests.” There were 10 Britons on the flight.

RUSSIAN MISSILE

Most of those on board were Dutch. The joint investigation team formed by Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine found that the plane was shot down by a Russian missile.

Last year Russian President Vladimir Putin called MH17’s downing a “terrible tragedy” but said Moscow was not to blame and there are other explanations for what happened.

The governments of the Netherlands and Australia have said they hold Russia legally responsible.

Asked if she expected the suspects to attend the trial, Silene Fredriksz, whose son Bryce was on the plane, said: “No, I don’t think so. But I don’t care. I just want the truth, and this is the truth.”

Moscow has said it does not trust the investigation.

“Russia was unable to take part in the investigation despite expressing an interest right from the start and trying to join it”, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

The investigation team said Girkin was a former FSB security service colonel who served as minister of defense of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) in the summer of 2014.

It said Dubinsky was head of the military intelligence agency of DNR, while Pulatov was head of a second department of the DNR military intelligence agency. Kharchenko was head of a reconnaissance battalion for the second department, it said.

Prosecutors have said the missile system that brought down the plane came from the Russian 53rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade, based in the western Russian city of Kursk.

(Additional reporting by Bart Meijer in Amsterda, Maria Vasilyeva and Anastasia Teterevleva in Moscow; Editing Hugh Lawson and Janet Lawrence)

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FILE PHOTO: EU summit following the EU elections in Brussels
FILE PHOTO: European Council President Donald Tusk holds a news conference after a European Union leaders summit following the EU elections, in Brussels, Belgium May 28, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

June 19, 2019

By Philip Blenkinsop and Belén Carreño

BRUSSELS/MADRID (Reuters) – European Council President Donald Tusk said on Wednesday that he was “cautiously optimistic” that EU leaders would agree names to hold the bloc’s top jobs when they meet in Brussels on Thursday.

Multiple diplomats and officials have told Reuters it may be too soon for a deal at the summit, which will be chaired by Tusk, citing disagreement between Berlin and Paris over a German candidate Manfred Weber’s bid to take over at the helm of the bloc’s executive Commission later this year.

“There are different views, different interests, but also a common will to finalize this process before the first session of the European Parliament,” Tusk said in an invitation letter to the 28 national leaders.

“I remain cautiously optimistic, as those I have spoken to have expressed determination to decide swiftly. I hope we can make it on Thursday.”

The new leaders will help set the EU’s course for the next five years as the bloc struggles with weak economies and a wave of euroskeptic sentiment at home, as well as facing external challenges from the United States to Russia to China.

Following an EU-wide election last month, the new European assembly is due to gather for the first time on July 2 and should then elect its new president for 2019-24.

That job is part of a package of the EU’s most senior leadership positions that come vacant soon.

They include replacements for European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the bloc’s chief diplomat Federica Mogherini, the head of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt Mario Draghi, and Tusk himself.

“I think that there is a chance of reaching an agreement at the summit,” said a senior EU diplomatic source. “At least, we are going to know which candidacies can fly and which couldn’t.”

Others have pointed out, however, that German Chancellor Angela Merkel could not drop Weber – who is a deputy head of her Bavarian sister party CSU – just yet.

Weber’s bid to lead the European Commission is firmly opposed by French President Emmanuel Macron, as well as the socialist Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez who is seeking to raise Madrid’s sway in the bloc.

WEBER’S LAST DANCE?

Should a deal prove elusive this week, Brussels sources said another leaders’ summit could take place on June 30 or July 1, or even in late August.

“There’s a strong desire to get things done quickly. I don’t see things going on beyond the summer,” another senior EU diplomat said on Wednesday.

The EU needs to balance out political affiliations, regional distribution and the candidate’s own profiles. The bloc is also seeking to let more women into its male-dominated leadership, with expectation that senior Commission roles would go to candidates such as Spain’s Economy Minister Nadia Calvino.

Beyond a firm majority – or, preferably, unanimity – among the 28 national leaders, any candidate to run the next European Commission must also be approved by the new European Parliament.

Despite voting to quit the bloc in 2016, Britain remains one of the 28 members and has members of the European Parliament until it finally leaves.

Political factions in the parliament are still discussing a coalition agreement and a pro-EU majority is in the works between the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), the socialists, the liberals and the greens.

The EPP, the parliament’s largest multi-country grouping, has so far stuck firmly with Weber. The socialists promote Dutchman Frans Timmermans, who currently is a deputy head at the Commission responsible for the rule of law.

The bloc’s current top competition official in Brussels, Denmark’s Margrethe Vestager, runs for the liberals. The group, which includes Macron’s allies, on Wednesday elected a former Romanian prime minister, Dacian Ciolos, as their new leader.

Brussels sources said Merkel’s condition for eventually dropping Weber could be demanding that no other candidate proposed by the European Parliament – Timmermans or Vestager – get to lead the Commission either. Other names in the running include the bloc’s Brexit negotiator and center-right Frenchman Michel Barnier, Belgium’s liberal caretaker Prime Minister Charles Michel, Bulgaria’s World Bank head, Kristalina Georgieva, or Lithuania’s outgoing President Dalia Grybauskaite.

GRAPHIC – EU top jobs race – https://tmsnrt.rs/2WSEMJU

(Additional reporting by Robin Emmott, Peter Maushagen and Sabine Siebold in Brussels, Giselda Vagnoni in Rome, Gederts Gelzis in Riga, Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Alison Williams)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the NYSE in New York
FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., June 4, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

June 19, 2019

By Shreyashi Sanyal

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat opening for Wall Street’s main indexes on Wednesday, as investors refrained from taking positions ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy statement that is expected to open the door to future interest rate cuts.

Bets of a rate cut have helped markets climb in June, with the S&P 500 index gaining 6% so far and about 1% away from its all-time high hit in early May.

The Fed’s statement and new economic projections are to be released at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT), giving investors an idea on how a prolonged U.S.-China trade conflict, President Donald Trump’s demands for a rate cut and softer-than-expected economic data have impacted monetary policy thinking.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell will hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m. ET (1830 GMT).

“Expectations remain elevated over a rate cut in July and investors will be closely scrutinizing the statement for confirmation of a cut next month,” said Lukman Otunuga, a research analyst at ForexTime Limited in London.

“Should the Fed sound less dovish than expected or completely omit any hints about taking action next month, it could send equity markets sliding.”

Global financial markets have been fired up by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s Tuesday volte-face on policy easing and as investors bet on a worldwide wave of central bank stimulus.

At 8:27 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 17 points, or 0.06%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 0.5 points, or 0.02% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 8.75 points, or 0.11%.

Sentiment was also buoyed by hopes of progress on U.S.-China trade dispute, with Beijing hinting that positive outcomes were possible in negotiations with Washington, after the world’s two largest economies agreed to revive their troubled talks at a G20 meeting this month.

Trade-sensitive industrial giants Boeing Co and Caterpillar Inc rose in premarket trading, while semiconductor companies, which source and supply products to China, also moved higher.

Boeing shares inched up 0.5% as the planemaker secured orders from Taiwan’s China Airlines and Qatar Airways at the Paris Airshow, a day after IAG placed a lifeline order for the grounded 737 MAX jet.

Among other stocks, Adobe Inc jumped 4% after the Photoshop software provider beat analysts’ estimates for quarterly profit and revenue.

TripAdvisor Inc gained 3.4% after SunTrust Robinson upgraded the company’s stock to “buy.”

(Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the NYSE in New York
FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., June 4, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

June 19, 2019

By Shreyashi Sanyal

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat opening for Wall Street’s main indexes on Wednesday, as investors refrained from taking positions ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy statement that is expected to open the door to future interest rate cuts.

Bets of a rate cut have helped markets climb in June, with the S&P 500 index gaining 6% so far and about 1% away from its all-time high hit in early May.

The Fed’s statement and new economic projections are to be released at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT), giving investors an idea on how a prolonged U.S.-China trade conflict, President Donald Trump’s demands for a rate cut and softer-than-expected economic data have impacted monetary policy thinking.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell will hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m. ET (1830 GMT).

“Expectations remain elevated over a rate cut in July and investors will be closely scrutinizing the statement for confirmation of a cut next month,” said Lukman Otunuga, a research analyst at ForexTime Limited in London.

“Should the Fed sound less dovish than expected or completely omit any hints about taking action next month, it could send equity markets sliding.”

Global financial markets have been fired up by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s Tuesday volte-face on policy easing and as investors bet on a worldwide wave of central bank stimulus.

At 8:27 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 17 points, or 0.06%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 0.5 points, or 0.02% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 8.75 points, or 0.11%.

Sentiment was also buoyed by hopes of progress on U.S.-China trade dispute, with Beijing hinting that positive outcomes were possible in negotiations with Washington, after the world’s two largest economies agreed to revive their troubled talks at a G20 meeting this month.

Trade-sensitive industrial giants Boeing Co and Caterpillar Inc rose in premarket trading, while semiconductor companies, which source and supply products to China, also moved higher.

Boeing shares inched up 0.5% as the planemaker secured orders from Taiwan’s China Airlines and Qatar Airways at the Paris Airshow, a day after IAG placed a lifeline order for the grounded 737 MAX jet.

Among other stocks, Adobe Inc jumped 4% after the Photoshop software provider beat analysts’ estimates for quarterly profit and revenue.

TripAdvisor Inc gained 3.4% after SunTrust Robinson upgraded the company’s stock to “buy.”

(Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Homes are seen for sale in the southwest area of Portland
FILE PHOTO: Homes are seen for sale in the southwest area of Portland, Oregon March 20, 2014. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola/File Photo

June 19, 2019

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. mortgage applications declined last week from about a 33-month peak as most home borrowing costs moved up from their lowest levels since September 2017, the Mortgage Bankers Association said on Wednesday.

The Washington-based group’s seasonally adjusted index on loan requests, both to buy a home and to refinance one, fell to 511.8 in the week ended June 14. It fell 3.4% from the prior week’s 529.8, which was the highest reading since September 2016.

Interest rates on 30-year fixed-rate “conforming” mortgages, or loans whose balances are $484,350 or less, averaged 4.14% last week. They were up 2 basis points from prior week’s 4.12%, the lowest level since September 2017.

Other 30-year mortgage rates MBA tracks were unchanged to 3 basis points higher from the week before.

Meanwhile, 15-year mortgage rates averaged 3 basis points lower at 3.50%, while the average borrowing costs on five-year adjustable home loans rose 2 basis points to 3.45%.

Mortgage rates generally increased in line with higher bond yields last week as traders pared their safe-haven bond holdings after U.S. President Donald Trump called off threatened tariffs on Mexico and encouraging data on retail sales and industrial output.

MBA’s seasonally adjusted gauge on refinancing applications fell 3.5% to 1,888.8 from prior week’s 1,956.5, which was the highest since November 2016.

The refinance share of mortgage activity grew to 50.2% of total applications from 49.8% the week before.

“Borrowers were sensitive to rising rates, but the refinance share of applications was still at its highest level since January 2018, and refinance activity was at its second highest level this year,” Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, said in a statement.

The group’s barometer on loan applications for home purchases, which is seen as proxy on future housing activity, slipped 3.5% to 268.6. The latest figure was up almost 4% from a year ago.

“Strong demand from first-time buyers and low unemployment continue to push this year’s purchase activity above a year ago,” Kan said.

(Graphic: U.S. mortgage applications interactive – https://tmsnrt.rs/2RnEpRD)

(Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Outside view of a restaurant's wall decorated with hundred of bottles in Paris
FILE PHOTO: Outside view of a restaurant’s wall decorated with hundred of bottles in Paris, France, July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

June 19, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – Sales of spirits in France fell last year, hurt by “yellow vest” anti-government protests that were at their peak during the end of the year period that accounts for a bulk of sales, French spirits association FFS said on Wednesday.

Protests late last year, which saw some of the worst street violence in Paris in decades and blocked access to shopping malls around the country, cost 0.1 percentage point of French growth in the fourth quarter last year, the INSEE statistics agency said in March.

The weekly protests gradually waned this year.

In 2018, spirits sales in French supermarkets fell 2.1% in volume to 275 million liters, and fell 1.34% in value to 4.72 billion euros compared to the year earlier, FFS said.

Not all spirits performed poorly. Sales of rum showed a 5.7% rise in value and 3.3% rise in volume, while sales of gin increased by 7.6% in value and 2.4% in volume, boosted by innovation and higher qualities.

Spirits exports hit a record high of 4.3 billion euros in 2018, up 1.8% on 2017, mainly boosted by Cognac, liqueurs and rum sales. The volume exported stood at 445 millions liters, or 53 million 12-bottle boxes, up 1.9% on the year.

This confirmed data from wine and spirits exporters group FEVS in February.

Looking ahead, FFS warned that a food law implemented in February raising the minimum price at which retailers can sell goods had added between 5% and 8% to spirit prices, but that only benefited retailers and not producers.

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide, editing by Inti Landauro and Deepa Babington)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Outside view of a restaurant's wall decorated with hundred of bottles in Paris
FILE PHOTO: Outside view of a restaurant’s wall decorated with hundred of bottles in Paris, France, July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

June 19, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – Sales of spirits in France fell last year, hurt by “yellow vest” anti-government protests that were at their peak during the end of the year period that accounts for a bulk of sales, French spirits association FFS said on Wednesday.

Protests late last year, which saw some of the worst street violence in Paris in decades and blocked access to shopping malls around the country, cost 0.1 percentage point of French growth in the fourth quarter last year, the INSEE statistics agency said in March.

The weekly protests gradually waned this year.

In 2018, spirits sales in French supermarkets fell 2.1% in volume to 275 million liters, and fell 1.34% in value to 4.72 billion euros compared to the year earlier, FFS said.

Not all spirits performed poorly. Sales of rum showed a 5.7% rise in value and 3.3% rise in volume, while sales of gin increased by 7.6% in value and 2.4% in volume, boosted by innovation and higher qualities.

Spirits exports hit a record high of 4.3 billion euros in 2018, up 1.8% on 2017, mainly boosted by Cognac, liqueurs and rum sales. The volume exported stood at 445 millions liters, or 53 million 12-bottle boxes, up 1.9% on the year.

This confirmed data from wine and spirits exporters group FEVS in February.

Looking ahead, FFS warned that a food law implemented in February raising the minimum price at which retailers can sell goods had added between 5% and 8% to spirit prices, but that only benefited retailers and not producers.

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide, editing by Inti Landauro and Deepa Babington)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Outside view of a restaurant's wall decorated with hundred of bottles in Paris
FILE PHOTO: Outside view of a restaurant’s wall decorated with hundred of bottles in Paris, France, July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

June 19, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – Sales of spirits in France fell last year, hurt by “yellow vest” anti-government protests that were at their peak during the end of the year period that accounts for a bulk of sales, French spirits association FFS said on Wednesday.

Protests late last year, which saw some of the worst street violence in Paris in decades and blocked access to shopping malls around the country, cost 0.1 percentage point of French growth in the fourth quarter last year, the INSEE statistics agency said in March.

The weekly protests gradually waned this year.

In 2018, spirits sales in French supermarkets fell 2.1% in volume to 275 million liters, and fell 1.34% in value to 4.72 billion euros compared to the year earlier, FFS said.

Not all spirits performed poorly. Sales of rum showed a 5.7% rise in value and 3.3% rise in volume, while sales of gin increased by 7.6% in value and 2.4% in volume, boosted by innovation and higher qualities.

Spirits exports hit a record high of 4.3 billion euros in 2018, up 1.8% on 2017, mainly boosted by Cognac, liqueurs and rum sales. The volume exported stood at 445 millions liters, or 53 million 12-bottle boxes, up 1.9% on the year.

This confirmed data from wine and spirits exporters group FEVS in February.

Looking ahead, FFS warned that a food law implemented in February raising the minimum price at which retailers can sell goods had added between 5% and 8% to spirit prices, but that only benefited retailers and not producers.

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide, editing by Inti Landauro and Deepa Babington)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO - Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah is seen during the Arab summit in Mecca
FILE PHOTO – Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah is seen during the Arab summit in Mecca, Saudi Arabia May 31, 2019. REUTERS/Hamad l Mohammed

June 19, 2019

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Kuwait’s ruling emir arrived on a state visit to Iraq on Wednesday and is expected to discuss escalating regional tensions after attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz.

Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah was met by Iraq’s president, oil minister and other senior Iraqi officials and will discuss bilateral ties and recent regional and international developments, Kuwait’s state news agency KUNA said.

The two OPEC member states transport most of their crude through the Strait of Hormuz, through which almost a fifth of the world’s oil passes, and near where six tankers have been attacked in the past month.

The United States and Saudi Arabia have accused Iran of being behind the attacks, which Tehran denies. Kuwait has described the tanker attacks as a threat to international peace and security, without assigning blame.

(Reporting by Iraq Newsroom; Editing by Toby Chopra)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: New Toyota cars are transported from their manufacturing facility in Burnaston
FILE PHOTO: New Toyota cars are transported from their manufacturing facility in Burnaston, Britain March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Staples/File Photo

June 19, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – British factory orders slid in June against a backdrop of stoppages in car production following uncertainty about when Britain will leave the European Union, the CBI’s monthly industrial trends survey showed on Wednesday.

The Confederation of British Industry survey’s total order book balance sank to -15 this month from -10 in May, the weakest reading since October 2016 and a steeper fall than expectations of a reading of -12 in a Reuters poll.

June’s production index sank to +2 from +14 in May, which the CBI said reflected the sharpest contraction in car manufacturing since March 2009, as producers brought forward seasonal plant closures.

“There’s clear evidence that Brexit uncertainty is really biting, with our surveys showing volatility in both stocks and output in recent months,” CBI economist Alpesh Paleja said.

“Firms are desperate to see an end to the current impasse. That means securing a Brexit deal that can not only command the support of parliament and the EU, but prioritizes the protection of jobs and the economy,” he added.

(Reporting by David Milliken, editing by Andy Bruce; London newsroom +44 20 7542 7947, uk.online@reuters.com)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO - A Republican supporter wears a party logo on her denim jacket before a sunset cruise with the Belknap County Republicans in Laconia
FILE PHOTO – A Republican supporter wears a party logo on her denim jacket before a sunset cruise with the Belknap County Republicans in Laconia, New Hampshire, May 29, 2015. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter

June 19, 2019

By Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Republicans chagrined by how few women their party has serving in Congress are launching an initiative on Wednesday aimed at reversing the trend in the 2020 elections, though steep fundraising, recruitment and policy hurdles lie ahead.

The WFW (Winning for Women) Action Fund, which raises money to support female Republican candidates for Congress, is announcing a goal of electing 20 Republican women to the House of Representatives next year.

There are 13 Republican women serving in the House now, down from 23 in the previous Congress and the smallest number since 1995. Democrats have 89 female representatives after a record number of women ran for office in 2018, many of them motivated by a dislike of President Donald Trump.

“Our numbers are so low, it’s become appalling,” said Olivia Perez-Cubas, spokeswoman for the WFW Action Fund.

The fund will ramp up recruitment efforts and offer more financial support to help women get through primaries, where they sometimes struggle against men who are viewed as more conservative by the party’s base.

Some party activists report a high level of early interest from Republican women thinking about throwing their hats in the ring for Congress in 2020.

Julie Conway, executive director of VIEW PAC (Value in Electing Women Political Action Committee), another group that supports Republican women candidates, said she has already met with as many as 85 women considering a bid.

“At this point in the 2017 cycle, it probably would have been a third of that,” Conway said, noting many of the women are looking to run in the competitive swing seats Republicans lost when Democrats seized control of the House in the mid-term elections last year.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, the party’s official congressional campaign arm, has engaged with 172 women interested in running, and 50 have filed papers to run, spokesman Michael McAdams said.

Republicans suffered a setback last week when Representative Susan Brooks, who heads NRCC recruiting efforts, announced she would take herself out of the re-election game by retiring from Congress next year.

Democrats pounced on the news about the Indiana lawmaker. Representative Cheri Bustos, chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said it underscored the problem Republicans had created “in a party whose leadership continually marginalizes women’s voices.”

HISTORIC DISPARITY

The disparity between the number of Republican and Democratic female lawmakers has never been greater, said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

“You are talking about a situation where of the 127 women who serve in Congress, House and Senate, 106 are Democrats and 21 are Republicans. That’s the biggest difference we’ve ever seen,” Walsh said.

Republican women lag far behind in financial resources compared to their Democratic counterparts. Organizations such as Emily’s List spent $24.4 million last year to back female House Democratic candidates who support abortion rights.

By contrast, VIEW PAC says it has directly contributed and helped raise over $6.5 million for Republican women candidates since it began operating more than 20 years ago.

Republican women in 2020 may also have to grapple with a voter backlash to new laws in some states restricting abortion and could find it difficult to disentangle their candidacies from the impact of Trump’s rhetoric and policies, Walsh said.

“Women’s underrepresentation (in Congress) has been a problem within the Republican party for a while, but I think Donald Trump’s presidency has only exacerbated that situation,” Walsh said.

In the near term, Republican women activists are hoping their preferred candidate prevails in a special election in North Carolina’s third congressional district, to replace long-time Republican Representative Walter Jones who died in February.

The July 9 Republican primary runoff pits pediatrician Joan Perry, who has never before run for political office, against state lawmaker Greg Murphy.

All 13 Republican women in the U.S. House have endorsed Perry. The WFW Action Fund has spent almost half a million dollars on advertising on her behalf, and Women Speak Out PAC, linked to the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, has spent $75,000 backing her.

However, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, Republican Representative Mark Meadows, has endorsed Murphy, saying he has done more to advance conservative policy.

Perry agrees more Republican women are needed in Congress. But she is urging voters to elect her for her conservative stances, including her opposition to abortion and support for Trump’s wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“I am running for whom I am, and the values that I embrace,” she said.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

Cars stand on closed highway A9 at the crossing to highway A10 after a car accident near Mischendorf
FILE PHOTO: Cars stand on closed highway A9 at the crossing to highway A10 after a car accident near Mischendorf, 40 km south-west of Berlin, Germany, August 5, 2018. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

June 19, 2019

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission said on Wednesday it had cleared 431 million euros ($482.8 million) of public support by German authorities to cities to adapt diesel-powered municipal and commercial vehicles to reduce their nitrogen oxide emissions.

The measures are designed to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 1,450 tonnes per year and will be available in over 60 municipalities where national limits for the emissions were exceeded in 2017.

“Tackling air pollution is one of Europe’s greatest challenges,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement. “So these three schemes provide a good incentive for vehicle operators in Germany to invest in cleaner vehicles in the most polluted German cities.”

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop)

Source: OANN

Trump Sees The Future Is Keeping America Great Because He Has 2020 Vision! Trump Is Making America Great Again! Will You Vote For Trump?

Trump officially launches re-election campaign, makes case for second term: ‘Keep America Great’
President Trump formally launched his 2020 re-election campaign Tuesday night before a jam-packed crowd in Orlando’s Amway Center, and quickly unloaded on the media organizations and government actors he said tried their hardest to bring down both See More his candidacy and then presidency with the Russian collusion scandal. “Our patriotic movement has been under assault from the very first day,” Trump said. He specifically called out the “phony” dossier used by the FBI to secure a secret surveillance warrant to surveil one of his former aides, Carter Page. To supporters’ delight, Trump even debuted a new impersonation of Hillary Clinton.

For the most part, Tuesday’s rally focused on Trump’s policy successes, from criminal justice reform to the economy. He also touted the planned Space Force, celebrated the “obliteration” of ISIS, and Republicans’ role in a newly energized national pro-lifemovement. And after polling the boisterous crowd, Trump appeared to settle on a new campaign slogan: “Keep America Great.” Still, not everyone loves the new Trump rallying cry. In an op-ed in the Opinion section of FoxNews.com, Fox News contributor Deroy Murdock explains why he believes the president needs a better re-election campaign slogan and what it should be.

Republicans demand Democratic leadership condemn AOC for ‘concentration camp’ remarks
Top Republicans are urging Democratic leadership to condemn Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks comparing detention facilities on the southern border to concentration camps. Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., on Monday told her Instagram followers on a live-stream that the U.S. government is “running concentration camps on our southern border.”

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said AOC’s remarks disrespect history and disregard what happened during the Holocaust. “It’s a total disregard to the facts, in particular about the Holocaust, but also you see the extent to which her colleagues and the people whoare supposed to be leading the Democrats in the House – Speaker Pelosi, Steny Hoyer – won’t stand up and criticize what she’s saying and condemn those comments,” the House Republican Caucus chairwoman said in an interview on “The Story with Martha MacCallum.”

The debate over slavery reparations comes to the Hill
Slavery reparations will be the center of debate during a scheduled hearing Wednesday before a House Judiciary subcommittee. After being treated as a fringe issue, reparations increasingly have been discussed by the mainstream of the Democratic Party. Several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have endorsed looking at the idea, though they have stopped short of endorsing directpayouts for African-Americans. Still, the nation remains divided on the issue, as illustrated by remarks ahead of Wednesday’s hearing by Sen. Cory Booker, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. In addition to Booker, actor and activist Danny Glover and writer Ta-Nehisi Coates are also among the witnesses expected to testify at the hearing.

Will a US-China trade talk breakthrough come at the G-20?
President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping have agreed to meet in Japan and discuss trade at the G-20 Summit, amid a weeks-long stalemate on negotiations and tension over looming new tariffs on China. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that he and Xi had had “very good” telephone conversations. “We will be having an extended meeting next week at the G-20 in Japan,” the president tweeted. “Our respective teams will begin talks prior to our meeting.”

Pentagon in transition as acting Defense Secretary Shanahan plans to depart
President Trump abruptly announced Tuesday that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan is withdrawing from consideration to lead the Pentagon and he’s naming Secretary of the Army Mark Esper as Shanahan’s replacement. While speculation had brewed for days about Shanahan’s status, the announcement came shortly after the publication of an explosive USA Today report that the FBI has been probing a violent domestic dispute from 2010 between Shanahan and his then-wife as part of his background investigation. Speaking to reporters outside the White House,the president said, “it’s a difficult time for Pat,” adding Shanahan would take “some time off for family matters.” In a resignation letter Tuesday, Shanahan said “it is unfortunate that a painful and deeply personal family situation from long ago is being dredged up and painted in an incomplete and therefore misleading way in the course of this process.”

TODAY’S MUST-READS
Kelly Shackleford: Why Oregon cake bakers’ victory matters so much (for all of us).
New York clerk ‘will not be granting drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants,’ contrary to new law: report.
Guests watch in horror as massive huntsman spider eats a possum in their ski lodge.

MINDING YOUR BUSINESS
Will the Fed cut interest ratesduring its meeting this week?
Amazon Prime Day 2019: Here’s everything we know so far.
These colleges have the highest employment rate after graduating.

Source

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping meet business leaders at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping meet business leaders at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

June 19, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – China said on Wednesday positive outcomes were possible in trade negotiations with the United States, after the presidents of the world’s two largest economies agreed to revive their troubled talks at a G20 meeting this month.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he would meet Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan. China, which previously declined to say whether the two leaders would get together, confirmed the meeting.

The two countries are in the middle of a costly trade dispute that has put pressure on financial markets and damaged the global economy.

Talks to reach a broad deal broke down last month after U.S. officials accused China of backing away from agreed commitments. Interaction since then has been limited, and Trump has threatened to put more tariffs on Chinese products in an escalation that businesses in both countries want to avoid.

News that the negotiations were back on the agenda cheered China’s stock markets with the blue-chip CSI300 index ending 1.3% higher while the Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.0%.

Speaking at a daily news briefing, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said it was important to find a solution that was acceptable to both sides.

“I’m not getting ahead of myself, but communication over four decades shows it is possible to achieve positive outcomes,” he said.

Lu said he could not give an exact agenda for the meeting.

“The two leaders will talk about whatever they want,” he said. “A deal is not only in the interests of the two peoples but meets the aspirations of the whole world.”

In another possible sign of a pre-G20 thaw, China’s state television’s movie channel, which has in recent weeks broadcast old patriotic films about China’s heroics against the United States in the 1950-53 Korean War, on Wednesday showed a movie that put the United States in a far more positive light.

The channel showed 1999’s “Lover’s Grief over the Yellow River”, about a U.S. pilot in World War Two who was rescued by Communist guerrilla forces in China and falls in love with one of the young women fighters.

The overseas edition of the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily said on its Weibo account the movie was “deeply moving”, and showed a picture of the lead Chinese actress and lead U.S. actor locked in an embrace.

“It’s better to fall in love than to fight,” the Beijing office of the Communist Youth League wrote approvingly of the movie on its Weibo account.

(Reporting by Cate Cadell; Additional reporting by Beijing newsroom and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Darren Schuettler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe holds a joint news conference with visiting U.S. President Donald Trump (not pictured) in Tokyo
FILE PHOTO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe holds a joint news conference with visiting U.S. President Donald Trump (not pictured) in Tokyo, Japan May 27, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

June 19, 2019

By Linda Sieg and Kiyoshi Takenaka

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faced stiff opposition criticism on Wednesday after a report warned that many retirees won’t be able to live on pensions alone, a topic likely to become an issue in an election for parliament’s upper house.

Abe has made reform of the social security system a top priority to cope with Japan’s fast-ageing, shrinking population.

But the furor over the report and Finance Minister Taro Aso’s refusal to accept its findings have created a headache for Abe’s coalition ahead of the upper house poll and amid speculation that the premier may also call a snap election for the more powerful lower chamber.

A report this month by advisers to the Financial Services Agency (FSA) said a model case couple would need $185,000 in addition to their pensions if they lived for 30 years after retiring.

The report was meant to highlight the need to plan ahead for retirement but instead gave opposition parties ammunition to blast Abe’s government.

“What is making lots of people angry is that you are simply stressing stability (of the system) and not addressing their anxiety head-on,” Yukio Edano, leader of the largest opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, told Abe during debate before a parliamentary panel.

Abe said the report had caused “misunderstandings” and reiterated the government’s position that reforms to the pension system implemented in 2004 had ensured its sustainability.

Pensions are a particularly sensitive topic for Abe.

His Liberal Democratic Party suffered a massive defeat in a 2007 upper house election during his first stint as premier partly because of voter outrage over misplaced pension records. Two months later, Abe resigned.

Abe’s ruling bloc is unlikely to lose its upper house majority but the fuss has trimmed his support and a weak performance would hamper efforts to cement his legacy.

Aso, 78, the wealthy scion of an elite political family, also said he’d never worried about supporting himself as he aged and didn’t know if he was receiving a pension.

“INCONVENIENT TRUTH”

That many retirees cannot subsist on pensions alone and will outlive their savings is one of Japan’s worst-kept secrets and one reason Abe is considering raising the retirement age.

“The FSA has done exactly what it is supposed to do — not be afraid to uncover inconvenient truths,” said Jesper Koll, CEO of asset manager WisdomTree Japan.

Yuichiro Tamaki, leader of the opposition Democratic Party for the People, said Aso’s rejection of the report had deepened public unease.

“Holding back, hiding or even falsifying information just because an election is near does not help you win trust for the government nor for the pension system,” he told Abe.

Japan’s life expectancy is the highest among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries at 87.1 years for women and 81 years for men. The World Economic Forum last week forecast Japanese men could be expected to outlive their savings by 15 years and women by almost two decades.

About 54% of Japanese who get public pensions rely on them for their entire income, according to 2015 government data.

Opposition parties have also used the FSA report to renew questions about the sustainability of the public pension system.

The government in 2004 adopted reforms it said had made the system sustainable for the next 100 years, a pledge many private economists, opposition lawmakers and ordinary Japanese question.

“People knew, even before the release of report, that there will be many economic problems after their retirement,” said Yu Nakahigashi, 40, a self-employed businessman. “I don’t want them to hide the truth from the public.”.

(Additional reporting by Yuri Harada; editing by Darren Schuettler and Nick Macfie)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: People pass by an entrance to Google offices in New York
FILE PHOTO: People pass by an entrance to Google offices in New York, U.S., June 4, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

June 19, 2019

By Paresh Dave

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Shareholder activists want Google parent Alphabet Inc to break itself up before regulators force the world’s biggest internet ad seller to split into different pieces.

SumOfUs, a U.S.-based group that aims to curb the growing power of corporations, is set to make that proposal at Alphabet’s annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday at an auditorium at the company’s offices in Sunnyvale, California.

“Officials in the US & EU continue to be concerned about Alphabet’s market power in view of restrictions on monopolies,” the proposal reads. “We believe that shareholders could receive greater value from a voluntary strategic reduction in the size of the company than from asset sales compelled by regulators.”

The proposal has no realistic chance of success as Alphabet’s top two executives, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, hold 51.3 percent of shareholder votes.

Nevertheless, it shows a growing focus on the prospect of antitrust action against Alphabet and other big technology firms such as Facebook Inc and Amazon.com Inc as they face a political and public backlash over privacy issues and the power they now wield over the world’s information.

U.S. President Donald Trump has been a frequent critic of Google, claiming without evidence that its search engine unfairly produces results unfavorable to him. He has suggested that U.S. regulators should follow Europe’s lead and look closely at tech companies’ monopolies, but has not suggested any specific remedy.

The U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are gearing up to investigate whether Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook misuse their massive market power, sources told Reuters earlier this month.

The breakup proposal is one of a record of 13 on the ballot at Alphabet’s Wednesday meeting. A group of Google employees is backing five of the proposals, which it helped craft, but not the proposal to split the company.

Tibetan and Uighur ethnic group leaders concerned about Google’s work in China are among speakers expected to speak at demonstrations outside the auditorium before the meeting. Community activists pressing Google to address housing shortages in Silicon Valley also planned to rally.

Alphabet said in shareholder materials its existing policies address issues raised in the proposals and declined to comment further.

Although none of the proposals is likely to pass, Google may respond to issues raised. The company stopped working on a censored Chinese search engine and banned use of its artificial intelligence tools for weaponry after petitions from employees and outside activists.

“We started as a voice in the wilderness on some of these issues, but conversations have come more to the fore,” SumOfUs campaign manager Sondhya Gupta said.

(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Bill Rigby)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Rohingya refugees gather at a market inside a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar
FILE PHOTO: Rohingya refugees gather at a market inside a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

June 19, 2019

By Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Human rights groups on Wednesday called on Southeast Asian leaders to rethink their approach to the Rohingya refugee crisis ahead of a regional summit in Bangkok this week.

Myanmar regards Rohingya Muslims as illegal migrants from the Indian subcontinent and has confined tens of thousands to camps in its western Rakhine State since violence swept the area in 2012.

More than 700,000 Rohingya crossed into Bangladesh in 2017, according to U.N. agencies, after a crackdown by Myanmar’s military sparked by Rohingya insurgent attacks on the security forces.

The Rohingya issue, especially their repatriation from Bangladesh, is expected to be a major topic during four days of meetings among leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Thailand from Thursday.

Human rights activists say the bloc should not rush to get involved in the repatriation without addressing the root causes of their displacement.

“ASEAN needs to stop turning a blind eye to Myanmar’s atrocities against the Rohingya, and cease lending legitimacy to the repatriation process,” Eva Sundari, an Indonesian lawmaker and a board member of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, said in a statement.

U.N. investigators have said the 2017 Myanmar military operation that drove more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims into Bangladesh was executed with “genocidal intent” and included mass killings, gang rapes and widespread arson.

Myanmar denies widespread wrongdoing and says the military campaign across hundreds of villages in the north of Rakhine State was in response to the attacks by Rohingya insurgents.

But rights groups say conditions in Rakhine State are not conducive to the safe return of refugees.

“ASEAN seems intent on discussing the future of the Rohingya without condemning – or even acknowledging – the Myanmar military’s ethnic cleansing campaign against them,” said Brad Adams, the Asia director of the Human Rights Watch.

“It’s preposterous for ASEAN leaders to be discussing the repatriation of a traumatized population into the hands of the security forces who killed, raped, and robbed them.”

Mostly Buddhist Myanmar is a member of ASEAN. The grouping includes Muslim-majority Malaysia and Indonesia, where the plight of the Rohingya is of particular concern.

Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai rejected any suggestion the grouping, which is under Thailand’s chairmanship this year, would gloss over Myanmar’s action, but at the same time, said ASEAN would not be apportioning blame.

“This is not about whitewashing anyone,” he told Reuters.

“ASEAN is not here to point to who is right or wrong, our concern is the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya in refugee camps who should begin to take their first step to making a return”.

Repatriation would only take place on a voluntarily basis, and with the consent of both Myanmar and Bangladesh, he said.

Thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar by sea in an exodus that peaked in 2015, crossing the Andaman Sea to Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

Last week, a boat carrying 65 Rohingya arrived at a southern Thai island, raising concern that there could be a new wave of people smuggling by sea after a 2015 regional crackdown on trafficking.

(Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph at the stock exchange in Frankfurt
FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, June7, 2019. REUTERS/Staff

June 19, 2019

(Reuters) – European stock markets were flat on Wednesday after posting their best results in five months a day earlier thanks to a strong policy speech from European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi that flagged a potential return to bond-buying and lower interest rates.

Draghi’s speech sank the euro and drove major euro zone bond yields back below zero, slashing effective market borrowing costs, giving a boost to companies worried by sagging growth and driving the pan-European STOXX 600 index almost 2% higher.

It was flat compared to Tuesday’s close by 0709 GMT, although interest rate sensitive banking stocks outperformed with a 0.7% rise.

Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banking Group bucked that trend to gain 2.8% after the British lender pledged to make an additional 50 million pounds ($62.75 million) in savings from its takeover of rival Virgin Money.

Also keeping markets afloat was news that China and the United States are rekindling trade talks ahead of a meeting next week between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit in Japan, sparking hopes that the tensions between the two sides would abate.

Draghi’s speech has also further upped the stakes for a Federal Reserve policy meeting that will be Wednesday’s main market event, already expected to point the way to interest rate cuts for the second half of this year.

(Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham)

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Women's World Cup - Group C - Jamaica v Australia
Soccer Football – Women’s World Cup – Group C – Jamaica v Australia – Stade des Alpes, Grenoble, France – June 18, 2019 Jamaica players applaud fans after the match REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

June 19, 2019

(Reuters) – Tributes rained down on Sam Kerr in Australia on Wednesday after the striker-captain became the nation’s first player – male or female – to score a World Cup hat-trick in a four-goal blitz of Jamaica.

Kerr did it all by herself in Grenoble on Tuesday, firing the Socceroos to a 4-1 win over the eliminated Reggae Girlz and a last 16 clash against Norway..

Former Australia striker Tim Cahill, the country’s most prolific scorer with 50 goals from 108 matches, led the congratulations on social media.

“Massive result,” Cahill tweeted with a bunch of applause emoticons. “Congratulations Matildas and Sam Kerr with 4 goals”.

Kerr struck her first two with a pair of well-taken headers in the first half and capitalized on two defensive blunders after the break, with Jamaica goalkeeper Nicole McClure gift-wrapping her fourth with a botched attempt at a pass.

The 25-year-old Kerr now has five goals for the tournament to equal the United States’ Alex Morgan in the Golden Boot race.

Cahill, who retired from international football after the men’s World Cup last year, was renowned for his lethal headers and Kerr’s efforts against Jamaica raised comparisons by local pundits on Wednesday.

“It was the best individual performance of her Matildas career, and probably the greatest one-off show by any Australian player,” Fairfax soccer journalist Michael Lynch wrote on Wednesday.

Kerr joked that she was going after Cahill’s “heading record”.

“I grew up watching Timmy Cahill. Headers are my favorite goals. I think it just comes naturally for me, I know it is one of my strengths so I try and work on it a bit,” she said.

“Maybe it is coming from an AFL (Australian Rules football) background and getting up there.”

Kerr’s five goals for the tournament have lifted her past veteran team mate Lisa De Vanna’s previous Australian record of four at a World Cup set in the 2007 finals.

Only Americans Michelle Akers (1991) and Morgan, who scored five in the 13-0 rout of Thailand, have scored more goals in a women’s World Cup match.

Jamaica coach Hue Menzies was left dazzled by Kerr’s display.

“I told her after the game, ‘you were just good to sit back and watch’. I would pay to come and watch her, it’s just something she just has within her, and she brings her team with her,” Menzies said.

Despite the easy win, it was still a tense night for Kerr and Australia who were in danger of slipping into third place in the group after substitute Havana Solaun netted Jamaica’s first World Cup goal after halftime.

Kerr’s enterprise ensured Australia finished second, however, and pushed third-placed Brazil into a tough last 16 clash against heavyweights France or Germany.

Australia were criticized after being upset 2-1 by Italy in their opener, and the Matildas needed an epic 3-2 comeback win over Brazil to steady their tournament.

A defiant Kerr told the critics “to suck on that one” after the Brazil win, a riposte that sat uncomfortably with some media pundits at home.

After her Jamaica masterclass, there was only praise.

“She’s a special one and in the end I’m fortunate not only with the win but if there’s one player you’re really happy for to score the goals, it’s Sammy,” said coach Ante Milicic.

“We, as an Australian footballing community, should be thankful that we’re witnessing one of the best players in the world live.”

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Japanese Vice Minster of Finance Asakawa, Finance Minister Aso, and Bank of Japan Governor Kuroda hold a news conference at the IMF and World Bank's 2019 Annual Spring Meetings, in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Japanese Vice Minster of Finance Masatsugu Asakawa, Finance Minister Taro Aso, and Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda hold a news conference after the G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ meeting at the IMF and World Bank’s 2019 Annual Spring Meetings, in Washington, April 12, 2019. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan

June 19, 2019

By Leika Kihara

TOKYO (Reuters) – Substantial discussions on trade, including reform of the World Trade Organization, will likely take place at a summit of Group of 20 major economies next week in Osaka, a senior Japanese finance ministry official said on Wednesday.

Japan, which chairs this year’s G20 gatherings, will take a neutral stance in the U.S.-China trade row and urge countries to resolve tensions with a multilateral framework, said Masatsugu Asakawa, vice finance minister for international affairs.

“With regard to differences (on trade) between the United States and China, Japan of course won’t take sides. We will also not take any steps that go against WTO rules,” said Asakawa, who oversaw the G20 finance leaders’ gathering earlier this month.

“Japan will continue to take a multilateral approach in promoting free trade,” he told a news conference.

China and the United States, the world’s two largest economies, are in the middle of a costly trade dispute that has pressured financial markets and damaged the world economy.

Markets are focused on whether U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping can narrow their differences when they sit down at the G20 summit.

The bitter trade war has forced the International Monetary Fund to cut its global growth forecast and overshadowed the G20 meetings that conclude with the Osaka summit on June 28-29.

At the finance leaders’ gathering, the G20 issued a communique warning that trade and geopolitical tensions have “intensified” and that policymakers stood ready to take further action against such risks.

“The macro-economic impact (of the trade tensions) is an issue of concern,” Asakawa said, conceding it took considerable time for G20 finance ministers and central bank heads to agree on their communique’s language on trade.

More “concrete” discussions on trade policy will take place at the G20 Osaka summit, he added.

The row over trade appeared to spread to currency policy when Trump criticized European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s dovish comments as aimed at weakening the euro to give the region’s exports an unfair trade advantage.

Asakawa rebuffed the view the Bank of Japan’s massive stimulus program could also provoke the ire of Trump.

He also said the G20 shared an understanding that members would accept any exchange-rate moves driven by ultra-easy monetary policies as long as the measures are not directly aimed at manipulating currencies.

“The BOJ’s ultra-easy policy is aimed at beating deflation, not at manipulating exchange rates. That’s understood widely among the G20 economies,” he said.

Fears of the widening fallout from the trade war have heightened market expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve will start cutting interest rates this year. Draghi said on Tuesday the ECB will ease again if inflation fails to accelerate.

The dovish tone of other central banks have piled pressure on the BOJ, though many analysts expect it to keep policy steady at least at this week’s rate review.

(Additional reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Chris Gallagher & Shri Navaratnam)

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FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell holds a news conference in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell arrives at his news conference following the closed two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting in Washington, U.S., May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

June 19, 2019

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Tuesday kept up pressure on the head of the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates, following a report that White House lawyers earlier this year explored whether they could legally strip Jerome Powell of the Fed chairmanship.

Asked by reporters outside the White House if he wanted to demote Powell, Trump said: “Let’s see what he does.”

Trump has repeatedly attacked Powell for raising interest rates, claiming that the Fed’s four rate hikes last year were undercutting his economic and trade policies, particularly as he battled over trade issues with China. Last October Trump said the Fed had “gone crazy” under Powell.

The Fed wraps up a two-day policy meeting in Washington on Wednesday. Powell and fellow U.S. central bankers are expected to leave interest rates steady but potentially lay the groundwork for a rate cut later this year.

“They are going to be making an announcement pretty soon, so we’ll see what happens,” Trump told reporters.

Earlier Tuesday, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi signaled he would ease policy to deal with low inflation across the Atlantic, a move that Trump said benefited Europe and was unfair to the United States.

“I want to be given a level playing field, and so far I haven’t been,” Trump told reporters.

The comments add to pressure on Powell, who is facing financial market expectations for three rate cuts by year’s end as economic data has weakened, though the data still points to continued, though slower, growth.

Trump, who picked Powell to replace Janet Yellen as the Fed chair, told ABC News last week: “I’m not happy with what he’s done.”

Bloomberg News, citing people familiar with the matter, reported Tuesday that the White House’s counsel’s office had looked into the legality of demoting Powell to a Fed governor in February, soon after Trump discussed firing the Fed chairman. Such a move would be unprecedented in the Fed’s 100-year history.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow declined to confirm or deny the report, but told reporters that Trump is not considering any changes to Powell’s status. Powell’s four-year term as Fed chair expires in 2022.

“The Fed is independent. They’ll act on their own time, in their own way,” Kudlow said.

Powell has said he does not believe the president has the power to fire him, and that he would not resign if asked.

A spokeswoman for the Fed Board of Governors on Tuesday said, “Under the law, a Federal Reserve Board chair can only be removed for cause.”

Robert C. Hockett, a law professor at Cornell Law School, whose research includes monetary law and economics, said demoting Powell might not be considered removal. But any move by Trump to do so would probably be contested by members of the Senate, which must confirm nominees for Fed chair and to the Fed’s Board of Governors, and could lead to a legal challenge over the limits of the president’s power, Hockett said.

He also said the Fed’s policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee, known as the FOMC, could act to preserve Powell’s authority.

“Even if Trump could ‘demote’ Powell, the FOMC could nevertheless vote to keep him on as FOMC chair, thereby neutralizing Trump’s move,” Hockett said.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Trevor Hunnicutt, Dan Burns; writing by Ann Saphir; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Grandi attends a news conference in Geneva
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi attends a news conference on the annual Global Trends report on forced displacement at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, June 17, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

June 19, 2019

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) – Developing countries, not rich Western nations, are bearing the brunt of the world’s refugee crisis and are hosting most of the record 70.8 million displaced people who have fled war and persecution, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

Half of the world’s forcibly displaced are children and the 2018 total is the highest in nearly 70 years, the U.N. refugee agency said in its annual flagship report, Global Trends.

But the global figure, which comprises 25.9 million refugees, 41.3 million people uprooted within their homelands, and 3.5 million asylum-seekers, is “conservative”, it said.

That is because it does not include most of the 4 million Venezuelans who have fled abroad since 2015 as they do not need visas or to lodge asylum claims to stay in most host countries. If the outflow continues, a total of 5 million Venezuelans could have left by year-end, it said.

“Certainly if the situation is not solved politically in Venezuela, with a political agreement, we will see a continuation of this exodus,” Filippo Grandi, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, told a news briefing.

Venezuelans, arriving mainly in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, formed the second biggest flow abroad last year, after Syrians fleeing to Turkey following eight years of war, the report said.

“When you say Europe has a refugee emergency, or the United States, or Australia – no. Most of the refugees are in fact in the country next to where the war is, and unfortunately that means mostly in poor countries or in middle-income countries,” Grandi said.

“That’s where the crisis is, that’s need where we need to focus,” he told a news briefing.

More than two-thirds of the world’s refugees come from five countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia, the report said.

ASYLUM CLAIMS

U.S. President Donald Trump has made reducing illegal migration along the border with Mexico one of his signature policy pledges.

Central Americans reaching the United States after fleeing violence or persecution in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are entitled to request asylum, Grandi said.

The United States should give such people a fair hearing and not separate children from their parents, he said, adding that his agency stood ready to help U.S. authorities deal with the challenge.

With 254,300 asylum claims lodged in 2018, the United States is the world’s largest recipient of applications, the report said.

But Grandi said the United States has a huge backlog of 800,000 cases to be processed and that his agency was also helping Mexico to beef up its capacity to handle asylum-seekers.

Asked whether Trump’s policies had made the work of UNHCR more difficult, he said: “It’s not just in the United States, in Europe as well, and Australia.

“This is the crisis of solidarity that I have mentioned. It is identifying refugees and migrants with a problem instead of people that are fleeing from a problem,” he said.

In Europe, the issue has been heavily politicized, leaving some governments “terrified” to commit to take in people rescued at sea after fleeing Libya or other conflict zones, Grandi said.

“So the appeal I make, now that we are in a situation where European (Parliament) elections are behind us, is to stop this electoral agitation. The numbers arriving in Europe are frankly manageable,” he said.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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FILE PHOTO: Women's World Cup - Scotland Training
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football – Women’s World Cup – Scotland Training – Allianz Riviera, Nice, France – June 8, 2019 Scotland manager Shelley Kerr during training REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

June 19, 2019

(Reuters) – Scotland must “bring their A-game” to their final group stage match of the women’s World Cup against Argentina on Wednesday if they are to have any hope of reaching the last-16, coach Shelley Kerr has said.

World Cup debutants Scotland are bottom of Group D after defeats by Japan and England, but victory over Argentina in Paris could help guide them into the knockout rounds as one of the four best third-placed teams.

The stakes are as high for Argentina, who have one point so far and will be guaranteed a spot in the last-16 if they beat the Scots, and Kerr wants her players to take the game to their opponents.

“We have to be more attacking against Argentina and they will have to at some point as well,” she told a news conference on Tuesday.

“It’s something we’ve been good at throughout the campaign to get us here. And I’ve no doubt that our players are prepared well enough and (if they) bring their A-game, I’m sure it will be a positive result for us.”

With England and Japan both ranked in the world’s top 10, Kerr said 20th-ranked Scotland knew their chances of reaching the knockout rounds would rest on the game against Argentina, who are 17 places below them in the world rankings.

“Not in a negative way, but we probably planned to be in this position,” the 49-year-old added. “We were hopeful we’d have taken something from those first two games but realistic that it would probably come down to the Argentina game.”

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Jennings)

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Soccer: CONCACAF Gold Cup-Panama at Trinidad and Tobago
Jun 18, 2019; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Panama midfielder Armando Cooper (11) gets around Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (8) and scores a goal in the second half of group play in the CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer tournament at Allianz Field. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

June 19, 2019

(Reuters) – Panama scored two second-half goals en route to a 2-0 Gold Cup win over Trinidad and Tobago in Saint Paul, Minnesota on Tuesday.

After a lackluster first half, Panama took the lead in the 53rd minute when they intercepted a pass deep in opposition territory before Armando Cooper netted his first Gold Cup goal.

Panama doubled their advantage in the 68th minute through Edgar Barcenas after Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Marvin Phillip had blocked several shots in quick succession.

Trinidad and Tobago’s next game in Group D is against the United States in Cleveland on Saturday while Panama face Guyana.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll;Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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General view of a landscape of partially thawed Arctic permafrost near Mould Bay
General view of a landscape of partially thawed Arctic permafrost near Mould Bay, Canada, in this handout photo released June 18, 2019. The image was captured in 2016 by researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks who were amazed to find the permafrost thawing 70 years faster than models predicted. Louise Farquharson/Handout via REUTERS

June 19, 2019

By Matthew Green

LONDON (Reuters) – Permafrost at outposts in the Canadian Arctic is thawing 70 years earlier than predicted, an expedition has discovered, in the latest sign that the global climate crisis is accelerating even faster than scientists had feared.

A team from the University of Alaska Fairbanks said they were astounded by how quickly a succession of unusually hot summers had destabilized the upper layers of giant subterranean ice blocks that had been frozen solid for millennia.

“What we saw was amazing,” Vladimir E. Romanovsky, a professor of geophysics at the university, told Reuters by telephone. “It’s an indication that the climate is now warmer than at any time in the last 5,000 or more years.”

With governments meeting in Bonn this week to try to ratchet up ambitions in United Nations climate negotiations, the team’s findings, published on June 10 in Geophysical Research Letters, offered a further sign of a growing climate emergency.

The paper was based on data Romanovsky and his colleagues had been analyzing since their last expedition to the area in 2016. The team used a modified propeller plane to visit exceptionally remote sites, including an abandoned Cold War-era radar base more than 300 km from the nearest human settlement.

Diving through a lucky break in the clouds, Romanovsky and his colleagues said they were confronted with a landscape that was unrecognizable from the pristine Arctic terrain they had encountered during initial visits a decade or so earlier.

The vista had dissolved into an undulating sea of hummocks – waist-high depressions and ponds known as thermokarst. Vegetation, once sparse, had begun to flourish in the shelter provided from the constant wind.

Torn between professional excitement and foreboding, Romanovsky said the scene had reminded him of the aftermath of a bombardment.

“It’s a canary in the coalmine,” said Louise Farquharson, a post-doctoral researcher and co-author of the study. “It’s very likely that this phenomenon is affecting a much more extensive region and that’s what we’re going to look at next.”

Scientists are concerned about the stability of permafrost because of the risk that rapid thawing could release vast quantities of heat-trapping gases, unleashing a feedback loop that would in turn fuel even faster temperature rises.

Even if current commitments to cut emissions under the 2015 Paris Agreement are implemented, the world is still far from averting the risk that these kinds of feedback loops will trigger runaway warming, according to models used by the U.N.-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

With scientists warning that sharply higher temperatures would devastate the global south and threaten the viability of industrial civilization in the northern hemisphere, campaigners said the new paper reinforced the imperative to cut emissions.

“Thawing permafrost is one of the tipping points for climate breakdown and it’s happening before our very eyes,” said Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director of Greenpeace International. “This premature thawing is another clear signal that we must decarbonize our economies, and immediately.”

(Reporting by Matthew Green; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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FILE PHOTO: Basketball - NBA New Orleans Pelicans training
FILE PHOTO: Basketball – NBA Global Games – New Orleans Pelicans training session ahead of preseason game against Houston Rockets – Beijing, China – 11/10/16. New Orleans Pelicans Anthony Davis shoots the ball. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

June 19, 2019

The Los Angeles Lakers, with LeBron James in place and Anthony Davis on the way, reportedly are attempting to clear enough salary-cap space to make a run at a third star player this summer.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks, the Lakers are looking to expand the agreed-upon trade that would bring in Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, hoping to add other teams who might take fringe players off their hands.

It’s all part of the Lakers’ efforts to boost their available money from the current $23.8 million up to $32.5 million.

Those who could be on their way out of Los Angeles, according to the report, are Moritz Wagner, Jemerrio Jones and Isaac Bonga. The Lakers also would need Davis to waive the $4 million trade bonus that he is contractually due to receive in order for his new team to reach its desired salary-cap level.

–Kawhi Leonard is ready to head home and is reportedly focusing on signing with the Los Angeles Clippers.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski dispelled reports that Leonard might be interested in joining the Lakers, who will add Anthony Davis when trades can become official next month. Per Wojnarowski’s report, it’s the Clippers that Leonard wants to join.

Leonard attended San Diego State and is an L.A. native. He had almost an entire section of Oracle Arena filled with family in Oakland to watch the Toronto Raptors claim Game 6 against the Warriors and win the NBA Finals last week.

–Boston forward Al Horford will turn down his 2018-19 option of $30.1 million and no longer intends to re-sign with the Celtics, multiple media outlets reported.

After he opts out, the 33-year-old will be able to discuss contracts with other teams starting June 30. Players can sign or re-sign contracts beginning July 6.

Horford has spent the last three years in Boston since arriving on a free agent deal from Atlanta, where he played the first nine seasons of his career. The nine-time All-Star averaged 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 68 games for the Celtics last season.

–Rockets All-Star point guard Chris Paul wants out of Houston, and his relationship with MVP candidate James Harden is “unsalvageable.”

According to Yahoo Sports, Paul approached management to demand a trade following the season-ending loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference semifinals.

Moving Paul and his three-year, $124 million contract will not be easy, though general manager Daryl Morey has been open about having trade discussions involving all of his players other than Harden this offseason.

–Should you know the whereabouts of Kyrie Irving, the Celtics would like a word.

Irving, who can opt out of his contract and become a free agent June 30, has reportedly gone silent and given president Danny Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens no choice but to assume he will move on to another team.

Reports last week indicated Irving was “preparing to sign” with the Brooklyn Nets not long after splitting from his only professional agent to join the stable of Roc Nation. Because Irving has no active agent — his change from Jeff Wechsler cannot be official until June 29 — the Celtics have no conduit to the six-time All-Star.

–The Pelicans picked up the 2020-21 option for head coach Alvin Gentry, who is now under contract for the next two seasons.

“We couldn’t be happier to extend our relationship with Alvin,” executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said in a statement.

Gentry, 64, has spent the past four seasons coaching the Pelicans, going 145-183.

–Harrison Barnes is set to opt out of his contract with the Sacramento Kings and become an unrestricted free agent.

Barnes’ agent, Jeff Schwartz, told ESPN of the pending move that will allow the 27-year-old to pursue his fourth NBA team since entering the league with the Golden State Warriors in 2012.

Traded from the Dallas Mavericks to the Kings in February, Barnes averaged 16.4 points per game between the two clubs.

–A sheriff’s deputy sustained serious injuries and is considering a lawsuit against Masai Ujiri after an altercation with the Raptors president following Thursday’s title-clinching victory in Oakland, the deputy’s attorney said.

David Mastagni, the deputy’s attorney, told Bay Area CBS affiliate KPIX late Monday that his client has a “serious concussion” and a “serious jaw injury” after an “unprovoked, significant hit to the jaw” caused by Ujiri.

“No options are being ruled out as to how to rectify the situation,” Mastagni added.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones try to make a catch on a long pass in front of Philadelphia Eagles defender Jalen Mills in the third quarter of their NFL football game in Philadelphia
FILE PHOTO: Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones try to make a catch on a long pass in front of Philadelphia Eagles defender Jalen Mills in the third quarter of their NFL football game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 6, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar

June 19, 2019

The Atlanta Falcons are confident they will re-sign wide receiver Julio Jones to a new long-term extension before training camp begins next month, ESPN reported Tuesday.

Jones has two years remaining on his deal, which owes him $9.6 million in 2019 and $11.4 million in 2020. He signed a contract adjustment as training camp opened last July — giving him $4.4 million, including $2.9 million from his 2019 salary, up front — and the team reportedly promised to do a full extension this offseason. That came after Jones missed the Falcons’ entire offseason program and threatened to hold out into training camp.

The 30-year-old again missed voluntary workouts this summer, but he showed up for mandatory minicamp. He told reporters in April he isn’t concerned with being the NFL’s highest-paid wide receiver.

In his eighth season, Jones is coming off of his sixth Pro Bowl selection — fifth in a row — after catching 113 passes for a league-high 1,677 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He remains the NFL’s all-time leader in career receiving yards per game (96.7).

–Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford played through broken bones in his back last year, according to a team reporter.

Mike O’Hara, a long-time Lions beat reporter who now works for the team’s website, said of Stafford on a recent episode of his podcast, “He had a broken back last year. Broken bones in his back.”

After taking 12 hits against the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 2, Stafford was listed with a back injury for the final four weeks of the 2018 season, including limited participation and questionable designations for games in Weeks 14-16. He played in all four games, throwing for 691 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions as the Lions went 2-2.

–The former NFL running back who wore “He Hate Me” on his jersey during his season in the XFL was found safe after going missing in South Carolina, according to a report from the Charlotte Observer.

Police said Torrold “Rod” Smart was located and was OK, the Observer reported. Earlier in the day, the Lancaster (S.C.) County Sheriff’s Office said Smart was a “missing endangered person” and was seeking information regarding his whereabouts.

Smart, 42, played college football at Western Kentucky. As an undrafted free agent in 2000, he was signed by the then-San Diego Chargers but was released. The following year, he played for the Las Vegas Outlaws of the XFL, then later in 2001 played in the Canadian Football League and with the Philadelphia Eagles. He played four more seasons with the Carolina Panthers.

–New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas is headed for paydirt, one way or another.

General manager Mickey Loomis said on Mad Dog Sports Radio that the Saints and Thomas have begun talks geared toward a long-term deal. Thomas, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, had 125 receptions for 1,405 yards in 2018.

“We’ve had some conversations, and I like keeping that close to the vest until there’s something to report, but look, we love what Mike’s done for us,” Loomis said. “He’s a fantastic player, one of the best at his position in the league, and hopefully we can keep him a Saint for a long time as well.”

–More than 5,000 Denver Broncos fans attended owner Pat Bowlen’s memorial service, according to the team.

Bowlen died last week at age 75 after a fight with Alzheimer’s disease. The team hosted a public memorial service at Broncos Stadium at Mile High, where fans walked past photos and memorabilia from Bowlen’s life and watched a video tribute in his honor.

Former Broncos players such as John Elway, Rod Smith and Peyton Manning also attended the service. Bowlen will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame posthumously this August.

–Former Senior Bowl director and Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage is expected to join the New York Jets’ personnel department under new general manager Joe Douglas, NFL Network reported.

Per the report, Savage’s role is not yet fully defined, but an announcement “should come this week,” absent a setback. NFL Network also reported Ravens assistant director of pro personnel Chad Alexander will join the Jets as director of player personnel.

ESPN reported the Jets are hiring Indianapolis Colts vice president of player personnel Rex Hogan as assistant general manager, after Hogan served as New York’s senior director of college scouting from 2015-17.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: California's Governor Gavin Newsom speaks during the California Democratic Convention in San Francisco
FILE PHOTO: California’s Governor Gavin Newsom speaks during the California Democratic Convention in San Francisco, California, U.S. June 1, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo

June 19, 2019

By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – California Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday apologized to Native Americans for violence and other wrongdoings they suffered during the state’s history and called their mistreatment genocide.

The Democratic governor, in an executive order, called for the creation of a Truth and Healing Council to produce a report before the end of 2024 on the historical relationship between the state and Native Americans.

Newsom delivered the apology during an appearance with tribal leaders at the California Indian Heritage Center near Sacramento, the state capital.

“It’s called a genocide, that’s what it was, a genocide,” Newsom said, citing the $1.3 million in state funding authorized in the 1850s to subsidize militia campaigns against Native Americans. “No other way to describe it, and that’s the way it needs to be described in the history books.”

Tribal leaders who appeared with Newsom on Tuesday thanked him for the apology.

“It’s healing to hear your words, but actions will speak for themselves and I do look forward to hearing more and seeing more of you,” Erica Pinto, chairwoman of Jamul Indian Village in San Diego County, said.

“WAR OF EXTERMINATION”

In discussing the history of California’s treatment of Native Americans, Newsom cited an 1851 address to the state legislature by California’s first governor, Peter Burnett.

“That a war of extermination will continue to be waged between the races until the Indian race becomes extinct must be expected,” Burnett said then.

The state of California had never previously formally apologized for its role in wrongdoing against Native Americans, according to the governor’s office.

Newsom’s predecessor, Democrat Jerry Brown, did endorse a 2016 book by historian Benjamin Madley, of the University of California, Los Angeles, titled “An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873.” The book detailed how California’s indigenous population fell from as many as 150,000 people to about 30,000.

Madley estimated that between 1846 and 1873, up to 16,000 Native Americans were killed in California. Disease, dislocation and starvation also took their toll, Madley wrote.

The U.S. Congress in 2009 passed a resolution, tucked into an appropriations bill, that apologized to Native Americans for violence, maltreatment and neglect inflicted by U.S. citizens.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; editing by Bill Tarrant and Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

MLB: San Diego Padres at Colorado Rockies
FILE PHOTO: Jun 14, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado (13) celebrates after a solo home run in the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

June 19, 2019

The Major League Baseball Umpires Association criticized the one-game suspension of San Diego Padres infielder Manny Machado, calling it “a slap in the face” and “a disgrace to the game.”

Machado was suspended for “aggressively arguing and making contact with” plate umpire Bill Welke as he disputed a called third strike in Saturday’s game against the Colorado Rockies.

“One game..one single game. What kind of precedent is that setting? It is NOT okay to throw a temper tantrum and physically touch someone of authority, just because you don’t agree. Violence in all workplaces is not tolerated. Period,” the MLBUA’s statement read, in part.

Major League Baseball, which also fined Machado an undisclosed amount for the incident, issued a statement opposing the umpires association’s input on the matter. The league statement said it was inappropriate for the umpires’ union to comment on player discipline, just as it would be inappropriate for the players’ union to comment on umpire discipline.

–The New York Yankees activated outfielder Giancarlo Stanton from the 10-day injured list before their game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Stanton, 29, had been out since April 1, having played just three games this season while battling multiple injuries. He batted fifth and played right field upon his return.

The Yankees also are expecting outfielder Aaron Judge, who has played in just 20 games this season because of an oblique injury, to return this week.

–Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve will join the team on the road and could be back in the lineup on Wednesday.

Altuve, a six-time All-Star and the 2017 American League MVP, has been out since May 11 due to a strained left hamstring.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch said outfielder George Springer, who has been sidelined since May 25 because of a hamstring strain, could go on a rehab assignment later this week. Reliever Collin McHugh (elbow), out since May 15, also is nearing a return, Hinch said.

–The condition of former Red Sox star David Ortiz was upgraded to good by doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where he remains in the intensive care unit.

Tiffany Ortiz offered the update on her husband in a statement issued by the team. She said David Ortiz “continues to make progress with his recovery.”

Ortiz, 43, was shot in the back June 9 as he visited a club in his hometown of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He had surgery for internal injuries that evening, then was flown to Boston the following day and underwent a second operation.

–Catcher Zack Collins, the 10th overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, was recalled by the Chicago White Sox.

Welington Castillo left Sunday’s game with soreness in his back and was placed on the 10-day injured list. He was diagnosed with a strained left oblique.

The White Sox also reinstated left-handed pitcher Jace Fry from the 10-day injured list, filling the roster spot that opened when right-hander Thyago Vieira was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte on Monday.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

Canada's PM Trudeau speaks during a news conference in Ottawa
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference about the government’s decision on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 18, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

June 19, 2019

By David Ljunggren and Nia Williams

OTTAWA/CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) – Canada on Tuesday approved as expected a hotly contested proposal to expand the western Canadian crude oil pipeline it bought last year, providing hope for a depressed energy industry but angering environmental groups.

Construction on the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline is scheduled to resume this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a news conference. A senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said earlier that Ottawa expected legal challenges to the approval.

The project would triple Trans Mountain’s capacity to carry 890,000 barrels per day from Alberta’s oil sands to British Columbia’s Pacific coast, alleviate congestion on existing pipelines and diversify exports away from the United States.

Trudeau, who faces a tough fight in a national election scheduled for October, has been under pressure both from western Canadian politicians who accuse him of doing too little for the oil industry, and from environmental groups, which see the oil sands as a highly polluting source of crude production.

“This isn’t an either/or proposition. It is in Canada’s national interest to protect our environment and invest in tomorrow, while making sure people can feed their families today,” he said, adding he knew some people would be disappointed.

The Liberal government previously approved the expansion in 2016 but that decision was overturned last year after a court ruled the government had not adequately consulted indigenous groups.

The approval was widely expected as the government spent C$4.5 billion ($3.4 billion) to buy the 66-year-old pipeline from Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd last year to ensure that the expansion proceeded. Western Canada’s oil production has expanded faster than pipeline capacity, causing a glut of crude to build up.

Trudeau said the government would make a series of accommodations to indigenous concerns about the pipeline, including on protections of killer whale and fish habitats in British Columbia.

One group of indigenous activists in British Columbia, called Tiny House Warriors, vowed in a statement that the expansion would not be built on their territory.

“The Trudeau government does not have the right to put a pipeline through unceded Secwepemc land,” spokeswoman Kanahus Manuel said.

FURTHER OBSTACLES AHEAD

The government’s latest approval can be appealed through the courts. Trans Mountain also requires various permits and route approvals in British Columbia, where that province’s left-leaning New Democratic Party government opposes the project.

The B.C. government also plans to appeal a recent British Columbia Appeal Court ruling that the provincial government cannot restrict the flow of oil on pipelines that cross provincial boundaries.

British Columbia Premier John Horgan said his government was “disappointed” with the federal government’s decision but would not unduly withhold construction permits.

Mike Hurley, mayor of Burnaby, where the pipeline terminates in a tank farm near the Westridge Marine Terminal on Burrard Inlet, said his city was “absolutely against” the pipeline expansion.

“It brings too much extra risk into our community and we don’t believe the risk is worth the rewards. There’s risk of fire, explosion, chemical releases, a natural disaster for our First Nations people who use the inlet so much, and for business.”

Construction is expected to take 2-1/2 years, investment bank Tudor Pickering Holt & Co said. Assuming work on the expansion resumes this year, the expanded pipeline could be in service in early 2022.

“We will measure success not by today’s decision but by the beginning of actual construction and more importantly by the completion of the pipeline,” said Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, a frequent critic of Trudeau. “This is now a test for Canada to demonstrate to the rest of the world we are a safe place in which to invest.”

The decision will help create billions in economic benefits across Canada as it allows Canadian oil to reach higher-paying international markets, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association said in a statement.

Eighty percent of the expanded pipeline’s total capacity has been contracted to companies including Suncor Energy Inc, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd and Exxon-owned Imperial Oil Ltd, according to a National Energy Board filing.

The Canadian government has long said it planned to sell the pipeline once most of the obstacles to its construction have been cleared. Numerous indigenous groups have said they are interested in investing in it.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Nia Williams in Calgary; Additional reporting by Kelsey Johnson in Ottawa and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Peter Cooney)

Source: OANN

U.S. President Donald Trump reacts on stage formally kicking off his re-election bid with a campaign rally in Orlando
U.S. President Donald Trump reacts on stage formally kicking off his re-election bid with a campaign rally in Orlando, Florida, U.S., June 18, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

June 19, 2019

By Steve Holland

ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Tuesday formally launches what may be an uphill battle to persuade voters to give him four more years in office, as he bets a strong U.S. economy will outweigh voter concerns about his unorthodox style and polarizing policies.

At an evening rally in Orlando, Florida, Trump, who has long made it known he is running for re-election, will begin making his case with gusto for a second term. He and his wife, Melania, and a large contingent of senior White House staff arrived in Orlando aboard Air Force One for the occasion.

The Trump of 2020 most certainly will bear a strong resemblance to the Trump of 2016 – brash and eager to bash opponents and promote tough policies on trade and immigration.

Two-and-a-half years into his tenure, Trump sees plenty of positive factors, led by a growing economy with low unemployment.

“If the economy stays strong, he is very likely to get re-elected,” said Trump confidant Newt Gingrich, a former Republican speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

But an investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, coupled with a presidential style marked by name-calling and eye-popping tweets, has undermined some Americans’ confidence in Trump before the November 2020 election.

He also has stirred division with his hard-line policies on immigration and unsettled business and farm groups with his use of tariffs in trade disputes with China and some allies.

Democrats cite a string of broken promises in Trump’s first term, from lowering drug prices to closing corporate tax loopholes and stopping plant closures. In a media call on Tuesday, Democratic Party officials focused on his moves to weaken the signature healthcare law of his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, without providing an alternative.

“Donald Trump is launching his campaign for re-election tonight and the American people face a choice – we can make Trump an aberration or let him fundamentally and forever alter the character of this nation,” said Kate Bedingfield, deputy campaign manager for Democratic front-runner Joe Biden.

POLLING CONCERNS

A Reuters/Ipsos poll on June 11 gave Trump a 40% job approval rating, compared with 57% who disapproved. Other opinion polls have shown him running consistently behind his main Democratic challengers, such as Biden, in key battleground states.

Republican strategists say the fundamentals favor Trump as he heads into his election but that he faces challenges given his bare-knuckled approach, which he refuses to temper.

“His support with his base is as strong as it’s ever been for any Republican incumbent president. The challenge is adding to that and building the coalition he needs for re-election,” said Republican strategist Ryan Williams, a former adviser to 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

In a Twitter post before his trip, Trump said: “Republican enthusiasm is at an all time high. Look what is going on in Orlando, Florida, right now!”

The Orlando Sentinel, however, welcomed the president’s visit with an editorial titled: “Our endorsement for president in 2020: Not Donald Trump.”

Trump supporters with tents and sleeping bags started camping out at the rally venue on Monday and thousands had gathered by Tuesday afternoon in a torrential downpour. “It was like a big Trump party,” said Maureen Bailey, who slept in a tent with her twin sister, Laureen Vartanian.

Local Democratic Party officials planned a “Win With Love” rally a few blocks from the Trump rally.

Starting his 2020 push in Florida, which the former New York businessman considers his second home, shows how important the state is to Trump’s re-election hopes. He would like to recreate the state-by-state electoral victory map he assembled to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

That election included Trump victories in Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, and he thus far faces challenges in all those states, along with North Carolina.

FLORIDA IS A KEY

Democrats vow to win back industrial states like Pennsylvania and Michigan that flipped to Trump in 2016 after decades of voting Democratic in presidential elections, and they believe his behavior and policies will generate strong turnout among Americans eager to turn him out of office.

Trump campaign advisers wave off the polls at this stage, saying Trump had trailed in most polls in 2016 and still won.

The advisers believe Trump’s chances will improve once Democrats go through their hard-fought nominating process and produce a nominee for him to face off against.

Nobody is expecting Trump to change his behavior. Aides who had urged him early in his White House tenure to tone down his style are long gone.

Some Trump advisers had urged the president to begin his campaign launch in New York with a nostalgic recreation of the scene from June 2015 when Trump and his wife rode down an escalator at Trump Tower for his announcement speech.

On his flight to Tokyo on May 24, Trump turned down the idea, based on input from the first lady, who thought he should do something new and was adamantly against the escalator ride, said a person with direct knowledge of the conversation.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington and Carlo Allegri in Orlando; Editing by Bill Trott and Peter Cooney)

Source: OANN

Almost four years to the day President Donald Trump announced his run for the White House from Trump Tower in New York City, he took the stage at a massive rally in Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday night to announce his plans for a second term.

Taking the stage with first lady Melania Trump, and his vice president, Mike Pence, and his wife Karen, Trump beamed as his wife declared: “It has been my honor to serve as first lady of this incredible country for the past two years. And I’m excited to do it for six more.”

“With every ounce of heart, might and sweat … we are going to keep keep America great again and we will indeed keep America great,” Trump said. “Better than ever before. And that is why tonight I stand before you to officially launch my campaign for a second term as president of the UnitedStates.”

Trump announced his first improbable run for the White House on June 16, 2015.

After pounding Democrats, Hillary Clinton, the media and the two-year investigation of Russia meddling by special counsel Robert Mueller, Trump declared:

“The only thing these corrupt politicians will understand is an earthquake at the ballot box. We did it once and now we will do it again and this time we’re going to finish the job.”​

“2016 was not merely another four-year election. This was a defining moment in American history, ask them right there,” he said, pointing at the news media in the crowd. He then smirked as the crowd booed and chanted their disdain.

“That is a lot of fake news back there,” he declared.

“Our patriotic movement has been under assault from the very first day,” he declared. “We accomplished more than any other president has in the first two and a half years of a presidency. And under circumstances that no president has had to deal with before, because we did, in the middle of the great and illegal witch-hunt.

“We went through the greatest witch-hunt in political history. The only collusion was committed by the Democrats, the fake news media, and their operatives and the people who funded the phony dossier, crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC,” he said.

“It was all an illegal attempt to overturn the results of the election, spy on our campaign, which is what they did, and subvert our democracy. Remember, the insurance policy just in case Hillary Clinton lost.”

At which point the crowd burst into the chant: “Lock her up!”

Of Democrats, he complained:

“They only care about their own political power,” he said. “They went after my family, my business, my finances, my employees, almost everyone that I have ever known or worked with, but they are really going after you. That’s what it is all about. It’s not about us. It’s about you. They tried to erase your vote, erase your legacy of the greatest campaign and the greatest election probably in the history of our country.

“Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice and rage. They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it.”

He framed the 2020 election as “a verdict on the amazing progress we have made” and “a rigged system.”

“So if you want to shut down this rigged system once and for all, then show up November 3rd. That’s your day, big day, and vote, vote, vote.We’re going to have a big, big day.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

Employee works on assembling an electric vehicle (EV) at a factory of Suda Electric Vehicle Technology Co, in Sanmenxia, Henan
An employee works on assembling an electric vehicle (EV) at a factory of Suda Electric Vehicle Technology Co, in Sanmenxia, Henan province, China March 19, 2019. Picture taken March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

June 19, 2019

By Kane Wu, Yilei Sun and Julie Zhu

HONG KONG/BEIJING (Reuters) – Last year, Wei Qing and his private equity investment team visited more than 20 Chinese electric vehicle manufacturing startups.

The end result? They decided not to invest in any.

“There are too many uncertainties from when a company tells a story in the early stage, to when it produces a sample car and raises funds, to the eventual mass production,” said Wei, managing director at Shanghai-based Sailing Capital.

Wei, who declined to name the EV makers his team visited, said he thinks only a few of them will survive. Sailing instead decided to invest in an EV parts supplier, he added.

His concerns reflect what bankers describe as increasingly tough funding times for Chinese EV makers which must jostle for attention in a crowded sector and produce convincing arguments about future profitability despite government cuts to EV subsidies and plans to phase them out.

Numerous setbacks plaguing Tesla Inc in its quest for sustained profitability as well as a dramatic slide in sales and problems with some cars at Chinese startup Nio Inc have also put investors on their guard.

This year, Chinese EV makers have raised just $783.1 million as of mid-June compared with $6 billion for the same period a year earlier and $7.7 billion for all of 2018, according to data provider PitchBook.

One Hong Kong-based banker said he had been approached by at least a dozen EV makers seeking new funds but had to pass on most of them as they were not able to set themselves apart from the crowd.

Even fundraising efforts that have gotten off the ground are not moving as fast as EV makers would like.

“It is challenging,” said the banker who began working on one fundraising this year. “If you can get a meeting with investors, you can always tell a story, but some don’t even reply to your requests for a meeting.”

He declined to be identified as the negotiations were not public.

(For a graphic on ‘Fundraising by Chinese EV Companies’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2IjAjYt)

SUBSIDY WOES

Eager to curb smog and jump-start its own auto industry, China has said it wants so-called new energy vehicles (NEVs) – which also include hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell cars – to account for a fifth of auto sales by 2025 compared with 5% now.

Those ambitions have spawned a plethora of EV startups competing not just with each other, but also global automakers and Tesla, which plans to start production in China this year.

About 330 EV firms are registered for some sort of subsidy, government data shows, although the number of more well established startups is much smaller, at around 50.

But amid criticism that some firms have become overly reliant on government funds, Beijing has reduced subsidies, raised the standards needed for vehicles to qualify and flagged they will end altogether after 2020.

That has led to sharp slowdown as vehicle prices rise. Sales of NEVs in May rose just 1.8% from a year earlier compared with 18.1% in April, and 62% growth for 2018.

Surviving in the current funding environment, requires much cost discipline, Daniel Kirchert, CEO at Nanjing-based EV maker Byton, told Reuters.

“Given the current situation, it is not enough for any startup to come up with good products and be fast to market. At least it’s equally important to manage cost. Not only fixed costs but variable cost,” he said.

Byton, which is backed by state-owned automaker FAW Group and battery supplier Contemporary Amperex Technology Co (CATL) is one of a few EV makers with a fundraising round in train, seeking $500 million.

Others include Leap Motor, backed by state-owned Shanghai Electric Group Corp and Sequoia Capital China, which is seeking $372 million as well as CHJ Automotive, founded by serial entrepreneur Li Xiang, which wants to raise as much as $500 million.

Those with successful funding under their belts this year include Baidu Inc-backed WM Motor Technology Co Ltd which closed a $446 million round in March, according to PitchBook.

Some have obtained money outside private equity. E-Town Capital, a Beijing government investment firm, will invest 10 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) in a joint venture with Nio, which could help Nio build its own plant.

TESLA, NIO WEIGH

But overall, industry funding prospects are much bleaker, particularly as Tesla and Nio struggle.

Founder Elon Musk told Tesla employees last month the $2.7 billion the company recently raised would give it just 10 months to break even at the rate it burned cash in the first quarter. Shares in the industry pioneer have slid 32% in the year to date.

Nio’s shares have been hit harder, down 60% this year on a cut to its delivery outlook, a halving in first-quarter sales from the previous quarter, increased competition and reduced subsidies. Its reputation has also been hurt after three vehicles caught on fire and by the inadvertent shutting down of a car on Beijing’s prestigious Changan Avenue after the driver initiated a software update.

Nio declined to comment.

“Some of the listed EV industry leaders are currently underperforming in the secondary trading market and that has created pressures for the sector’s short-term outlook,” said Brian Gu, president of EV startup Xpeng Motors and a former senior JP Morgan banker.

“We are seeing investors become more cautious, selective and keenly focused on the frontrunners. I think this trend is likely to persist,” he said.

An investor in WM Motor was more downbeat about the willingness of private equity investors to fund the industry.

“Nio is probably the best among Chinese EV start-ups. Look where it stands now – how can that make us comfortable about writing cheques for other EV start-ups?” said the investor who also held Nio shares but sold them this year.

(Reporting by Kane Wu and Julie Zhu in Hong Kong and Yilei Sun in Beijing; Additional reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu in Beijing; Editing by Jennifer Hughes and Edwina Gibbs)

Source: OANN

UK premiere of
Cast members Ed Sheeran, Lily James and Himesh Patel attend the UK premiere of “Yesterday” in London, Britain, June 18, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

June 18, 2019

By Emily G Roe

LONDON (Reuters) – Imagine a world where The Beatles never existed? That is what British director Danny Boyle asks audiences to believe in his new movie “Yesterday.”

The comedy, arriving in movie theaters next week, tells of struggling British musician Jack who wakes up after a traffic accident and finds himself in an alternate timeline where only he can remember the music of the 1960s band.

Boyle, who won an Oscar for the 2008 movie “Slumdog Millionaire,” said the band gave permission for their music to be used in the film despite it being a story where “they are literally erased from the consciousness of the world.”

“I think they (The Beatles) must have loved the idea – how quirky the idea was. It appeals to their sense of humor I think,” Boyle said on the red carpet in London on Tuesday.

“That is so typical of their sense of humor – and their bravery as well – because they are experimenters. So I think they like the fact that it’s a bit left field,” he added.

Boyle said Ringo Starr and the widow of George Harrison had seen the film and sent notes of support.

As for Paul McCartney, Boyle said: “I don’t think Paul has seen the movie, but he’s seen the trailer and he said ‘Oh that seems to work!’”

Boyle said he had also written to Yoko Ono, the widow of John Lennon.

The movie also features Grammy Award-winning British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, playing himself, as the person who helps Jack, played by British actor Himesh Patel, recreate some of the band’s most famous hits, sending his career soaring.

The movie, with a screenplay by “Love Actually” writer Richard Curtis, also features Lily James, Kate McKinnon and James Corden.

“Yesterday” starts its global rollout on June 26.

(Reporting by Reuters Television, editing by G Crosse)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: PG&E crew work on power lines to repair damage caused by the Camp Fire in Paradise,
FILE PHOTO: PG&E crew work on power lines to repair damage caused by the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, U.S. November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

June 18, 2019

By Jim Christie

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – PG&E Corp will pay $1 billion as part of its bankruptcy reorganization to more than a dozen local governments in California struck by wildfires in recent years, the company and lawyers for the governments said on Tuesday.

Payments to the local governments will settle claims from lawsuits put on hold by PG&E’s bankruptcy and are separate from the thousands of individual claims stemming from wildfires that the company expects will be filed against it during the bankruptcy period.

San Francisco-headquartered PG&E filed for Chapter 11 protection in January anticipating $30 billion in liabilities from wildfires in 2017 and 2018 blamed on its equipment.

The local governments said in a filing in March that their claims could top more than $2.5 billion for fire-related damage to roads, bridges, sidewalks, road signs and signals, public landscaping and water systems.

The governments include the city of Paradise, which was leveled by November’s Camp Fire in California deadliest and most destructive wildfire of modern times.

The city of Santa Rosa and Sonoma and Napa counties, which were hard hit by blazes in 2017, also are among the localities that settled with PG&E.

(Reporting by Jim Christie; editing by Grant McCool)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Containers are pictured at an industrial port in Tokyo
FILE PHOTO: Containers are pictured at an industrial port in Tokyo, Japan, February 22, 2019. Picture taken on February 22, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-hoon

June 18, 2019

By Tetsushi Kajimoto

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s economy is likely to stop expanding this year and into next with the Sino-U.S. trade war and a planned sales tax hike expected to crimp activity, a Reuters poll of Japanese companies found, with most calling for fresh stimulus to prop up growth.

The gloomy outlook suggests that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s reflationary policy mix, known as “Abenomics”, is sputtering.

“A combination of the U.S.-China trade friction and the tax hike in October will almost certainly tip Japan into recession,” an electric machinery maker wrote in the monthly survey.

The Corporate Survey found 42% of respondents see the economy contracting into next year, while 52% believe growth will remain stagnant. Just 5% foresee it expanding, the June 4-13 poll showed.

China and United States, the world’s two largest economies, have been locked in a tit-for-tat tariff war for nearly a year, which has curbed global trade and upended supply chains, pressuring Japan’s exports and factory output.

Some 55% of Japanese firms said harsher U.S. punitive tariffs against China were affecting their business profits, with much higher proportions of transport machinery firms and chemicals makers taking a hit, the Reuters Corporate Survey showed.

But only 7% of Japanese firms were considering moving their operational base or supply chains outside of China, suggesting they see the trade spat calming down or are waiting to see how long it lasts. Some 57% said this wasn’t something they are considering while 36% said they had no businesses in China.

TAX HIKE

Japanese businesses are also worried that raising the sales tax to 10% from 8% — to cover rising social welfare costs as the nation rapidly ages — will undermine consumer spending.

Previously, when the tax rate was raised from 5% in April 2014, it triggered a slump.

To keep the economy from faltering, nearly two-thirds of companies called for fresh stimulus, with a quarter of respondents wanting an individual income tax cut and nearly as many demanding the government postpone the sales tax hike.

The next two most popular choices were investment tax breaks, picked by 22%, and more fiscal spending, picked by 20%.

Only 5% picked further monetary easing as a stimulus option, underscoring a widespread market view that the Bank of Japan’s stimulus has done about all it can.

“Additional stimulus is necessary if the sales tax hike goes ahead even as the global economy is in a downtrend,” a machinery maker manager wrote in the survey, which collects anonymous comments.

“We must stop a sales tax hike for good, or even cut it to 5% or below,” a retailer said.

ALREADY PEAKED

The survey’s outlook reinforces the growing view that Japan’s economy may already be in recession after having likely peaked out last autumn, said Yasunari Ueno, chief market economist at Mizuho Securities.

Both Ueno and business respondents expressed concerns about a slump in the economy after Japan hosts the summer Olympics next summer.

“As Tokyo Olympics-related capex runs its course, a stronger yen lifted by expectations of Fed rate cuts will add downward pressure on growth,” Ueno said. “Moreover, if the sales tax rises to 10% as planned in October, that will hurt consumer sentiment.”

The economy has shown signs of slowing since late last year. In the most recent quarter ended in March, it grew at an annual pace of 2.2% but key GDP components – consumption, capex, exports and imports – all slowed sharply from the prior quarter.

Meanwhile, as President Donald Trump demands that the U.S.-Japan trade gap be fixed, nearly two-thirds of Japanese firms saw no need to reduce Japan’s trade surplus with the United States, the survey showed.

The survey, conducted for Reuters by Nikkei Research, canvassed 505 big and midsize companies, of which 240-260 companies responded on condition of anonymity.

(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; editing by Malcolm Foster and Sam Holmes)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An Adobe Systems Inc software box is seen in Los Angeles
FILE PHOTO: An Adobe Systems Inc software box is seen in Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

June 18, 2019

(Reuters) – Adobe Inc beat analysts’ estimates for quarterly profit and revenue on Tuesday, driven by growth in its digital media business that houses its flagship product Creative Cloud, sending its shares up 4.6% after market.

Adobe is sharpening its focus on the fast-growing cloud business, a fiercely competitive market dominated by Microsoft Corp, Oracle Corp and Salesforce.com Inc.

In doing so, Adobe, known for its image-editing software Photoshop, partnered with Microsoft in March to bolster its sales and marketing software capabilities.

Salesforce and Microsoft also posted better-than-expected quarterly results on the back of growth in their cloud businesses.

Adobe’s shift to a cloud-based subscription has brought a more predictable revenue stream for the company, by selling its software through web-based subscriptions and not through the sale of packaged-licensed software.

On Tuesday, Adobe’s executives expressed confidence in the company’s ability to raise prices annually for its subscription-based services, while driving volume growth by attracting new users.

“We’re able to do that through the various new products that are attracting folks to our platform… And then as they get comfortable with those, they end up to upsell them into full suite products for multiple applications,” Chief Financial Officer John Murphy on post-earnings call.

Subscription revenue during the second quarter jumped 27.7% to $2.46 billion and product revenue rose 1.2% to $152.8 million.

Revenue from Adobe’s digital media segment jumped 22% to $1.89 billion, above estimates of $1.86 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Revenue from its Experience Cloud business, which provides services including analytics, advertising and marketing, rose 34% to $784 million, above analysts’ estimate of $774.9 million. The growth was helped by the acquisitions of Magento and Marketo, Chief Executive Officer Shantanu Narayen said on the call.

However, the company expects to report revenue of about $2.80 billion in the third quarter, below analysts’ estimates of $2.83 billion. It estimates a 20% revenue rise in its digital media unit in the current quarter.

The San Jose, California-based company’s revenue jumped 25% to $2.74 billion in the quarter ended May 31, beating estimates of $2.70 billion.

Excluding items, Adobe earned $1.83 per share, above the average analyst estimate of $1.78.

(Reporting by Sayanti Chakraborty in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

Source: OANN

Protest against U.S. President Donald Trump in London
Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during a rally against U.S. President Donald Trump, in London, Britain, June 4, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville

June 18, 2019

(Reuters) – British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn will back a move on Wednesday for Labour party to change its Brexit policy and support a second referendum in all circumstances, The Times reported, citing a senior Labour source.

Labour, which along with the Conservatives saw its support slump at the European elections as voters expressed their frustration over Brexit deadlock, is divided over whether to unequivocally support holding a second referendum.

Corbyn has so far only said the option of another Brexit vote should be kept on the table, along with a national election. The prospect poses a dilemma as many of the party’s supporters backed Brexit.

(Reporting by Ishita Chigilli Palli in Bengaluru; Editing by Chris Reese)

Source: OANN

President Donald Trump on Tuesday stood by claims he made about five men who were wrongly convicted for the brutal rape of a female jogger in New York City’s Central Park 30 years ago.

Dubbed the “Central Park Five,” the men have faced renewed attention after becoming the subjects of a Netflix miniseries about them.

The attack made national headlines in 1989 as a sign that crime in the city had spiraled out of control. The victim in the case, a 28-year-old investment banker, nearly died from the incident and was left with no memory of it.

Amid the intense media attention, Trump, then a real estate developer in New York, spoke out about the case and took out a full-page ad in several of the city’s newspapers calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty.

Asked by a reporter outside the White House whether he would apologize to the five men, Trump said: “Why do you bring this question up now? It’s an interesting time to bring it up.”

“You have people on both sides of that. They admitted their guilt. If you look at Linda Fairstein and if you look at some of the prosecutors, they think that the city should never have settled that case. So we’ll leave it at that,” he said, referring to one of the prosecutors in the case.

The case raised questions about race as a factor in the criminal justice system. All five of the men – Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Korey Wise and Yusef Salaam – were black or Hispanic, while the victim was white.

The men were all between the ages of 14 and 16 at the time of the attack. They were imprisoned for between five and 13 years.

Though they all confessed after long police interrogations, they each later recanted their statements, saying they had been exhausted and coerced by police officers.

Their convictions were overturned in 2002, after another man confessed to the crime and DNA tests confirmed his guilt.

In 2014, New York City agreed to pay more than $40 million to the five men.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Facebook logo is seen on representations of virtual currency in this illustration picture
A 3-D printed Facebook logo is seen on representations of virtual currency in this illustration picture, June 18, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

June 18, 2019

By Pete Schroeder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A leading U.S. House lawmaker on Tuesday called on Facebook Inc to halt development on its new cryptocurrency and for company executives to testify before Congress, adding to global concerns about what the digital currency could mean for data privacy and security.

Maxine Waters, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, said Facebook should halt development of the product, dubbed Libra, until Congress and regulators can review the issue, and called on company executives to testify before Congress.

“Facebook has data on billions of people and has repeatedly shown a disregard for the protection and careful use of this data,” she said in a statement. “With the announcement that it plans to create a cryptocurrency, Facebook is continuing its unchecked expansion and extending its reach into the lives of its users.”

Her comments came after Representative Patrick McHenry, the senior Republican on her panel, also sought a hearing on Facebook’s new initiative. A Facebook representative said the company looked forward to answering lawmakers’ questions.

Facebook’s announcement was met with immediate backlash from U.S. lawmakers and regulators across the globe, who are concerned that Facebook is already too massive and careless with users’ privacy.

“Facebook is already too big and too powerful, and it has used that power to exploit users’ data without protecting their privacy. We cannot allow Facebook to run a risky new cryptocurrency out of a Swiss bank account without oversight,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, in a statement.

U.S. Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat who also sits on Senate Banking Committee, expressed concern that through Libra, Facebook was using its scale in social networking to achieve dominance in adjacent markets like mobile payments.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called for more regulation of tech companies.

“This instrument for transactions will allow Facebook to collect millions and millions of data, which strengthens my conviction that there is a need to regulate the digital giants,” he said in an interview on Europe 1 radio.

But Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said he had an “open mind” on the potential utility of the product, while warning it could face strict regulation.

Facebook has engaged with regulators in the United States and abroad about the planned cryptocurrency, company executives said. They would not specify which regulators.

A U.S. regulatory source briefed on the matter said Facebook had been in communication with U.S. regulators but added it was still unclear how the currency would be structured and whether it would directly fall under any existing U.S. regulatory regimes.

Switzerland’s financial watchdog said it was in contact with the initiators of the Libra project but declined to comment on whether it was obtaining specific regulatory permission or status.

Markus Ferber, a senior German lawmaker in the European parliament, said in a statement that Facebook’s new coin should put “regulators on high alert” and called on the European Commission to start work on regulatory framework for virtual currencies.

(Reporting by Pete Schroeder and Katie Paul; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

Women's World Cup - Group C - Jamaica v Australia
Soccer Football – Women’s World Cup – Group C – Jamaica v Australia – Stade des Alpes, Grenoble, France – June 18, 2019 Australia’s Sam Kerr scores their fourth goal REUTERS/Emmanuel Foudrot

June 18, 2019

GRENOBLE, France (Reuters) – – Sam Kerr struck four times to send Australia through to the last 16 of the women’s World Cup with a 4-1 victory against Jamaica on Tuesday.

Kerr struck twice either side of the interval as Australia finished second in Group C. They pipped third-placed Brazil on goals scored to set up a meeting with Norway for a place in the quarter-finals.

Jamaica bagged their first goal of the tournament through Havana Solaun but finished bottom of the Group after three defeats.

Italy topped Group C on goal difference with six points despite a 1-0 defeat against Brazil.

Kerr scored her second goal of the tournament with a header after 11 minutes to put the Matildas in the driving seat on a stiflingly hot night at the Stade des Alves.

Kerr doubled the tally three minutes before the break with another header after being left unmarked in the area.    

Halftime substitute Solaun reduced the arrears as she netted Jamaica’s first women’s World Cup goal after collecting a perfect through ball from Khadija Shaw in the 49th minute.

But Kerr became the first Australian to score a hat-trick in a senior World Cup with a clinical finish after a defensive blunder by the Jamaicans.

She added a fourth seven minutes from time and that final goal allowed them to leapfrog Brazil on goals scored in the standings.

(Writing by Julien Pretot, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The logo for Anadarko Petroleum corp. is displayed on a screen on the floor at the NYSE in New York
FILE PHOTO: The logo for Anadarko Petroleum corp. is displayed on a screen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

June 18, 2019

By Sabina Zawadzki

LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. energy firm Anadarko Petroleum Corp on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for the construction of a $20 billion gas liquefaction and export terminal in Mozambique, the largest single LNG project approved in Africa.

The announcement, which occurred at an event in Mozambique, was widely expected after Anadarko last month flagged the decision date.

“As the world increasingly seeks cleaner forms of energy, the Anadarko-led Area 1 Mozambique LNG project is ideally located to meet growing demand, particularly in expanding Asian and European markets,” Chief Executive Officer Al Walker said in a statement http://pdf.reuters.com/htmlnews/htmlnews.asp?i=43059c3bf0e37541&u=urn:newsml:reuters.com:20190618:nPn4scVtza.

Anadarko has agreed to be taken over by Occidental Petroleum Corp. Once that deal goes ahead, Occidental has agreed to sell assets including the Mozambique LNG project to French oil major and large LNG trader Total SA. Officials at Total were not immediately available for comment.

Natural gas use is growing rapidly around the world as countries seek to meet rising energy demand and wean their industrial and power sectors off dirtier coal.

The project, which has committed long-term supplies to utilities, major LNG portfolio holders and state companies around the world, underscores the industry’s conviction that LNG demand will soar in years to come despite a slump in prices this year.

Low prices for the gas that is super-cooled for transportation prompted fears final investment decisions (FIDs) such as Anadarko’s would be delayed or scrapped. But the U.S. company gathered enough long-term buyers to underpin the financing of the project.

“Flexible commercial arrangements, including an innovative co-purchase agreement with Tokyo Gas and Centrica, have been instrumental in securing the project a roster of high-quality customers in a crowded LNG market,” said Frank Harris, head of LNG Consulting at Wood Mackenzie.

LNG prices slumped this year as a jump in supply from new terminals in the United States, Australia and Russia were not totally met by higher demand in Asia.

The trade is also nowhere near as developed as the market for crude oil, causing erratic price movements.

“At $20 billion, today’s FID is the largest sanction ever in sub-Saharan Africa oil and gas,” added Jon Lawrence, an analyst with Wood Mackenzie’s sub-Saharan Africa upstream team.

The project is also expected to be transformational for Mozambique, one of the poorest nations on earth beset by economic crisis, conflict stemming from a civil war and serious governance malaise, whose annual gross domestic product is just $13 billion.

The government of Mozambique said the project is expected to create more than 5,000 direct jobs and 45,000 indirect jobs.

With a 12.88 million tonne per year (mtpa) capacity, Mozambique LNG is one of the largest greenfield LNG facilities to have ever been approved. It involves building infrastructure to extract gas from a field offshore northern Mozambique, pump it onshore and liquefy it, ready for further export by LNG tankers.

On the African east coast, the liquefaction plant will be able to sell LNG to both the lucrative Asian market, home to 75%of global LNG demand, and to the flexible European market, which helps balance global LNG trade by soaking up excess supply.

Mozambique LNG joins other mega-projects approved in the past year such as Exxon Mobil Corp’s 16 mtpa U.S. Golden Pass plant and Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s 14 mtpa LNG Canada facility.

Still expected this year are approvals from Exxon for a 15.2 mtpa project also in Mozambique, and from Russia’s Novatek for its 19.8 mtpa Arctic LNG-2 plant.

Anadarko’s partners in the Mozambique LNG project are Mitsui, Mozambique state energy company ENH, Thailand’s PTT and Indian energy firms ONGC, Bharat Petroleum Resources and Oil India.

(Reporting by Sabina Zawadzki in London; additional reporting by Scott DiSavino in New York and Debroop Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Jan Harvey, Marguerita Choy and Arun Koyyur)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: World Athletics Championships
FILE PHOTO: Athletics – World Athletics Championships – women’s 100 metres final – London Stadium, London, Britain – August 6, 2017 – Elaine Thompson of Jamaica after the race. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

June 18, 2019

By Kayon Raynor

KINGSTON, Jamaica (Reuters) – As Jamaica prepares to select their world championship team, the exhilarating days of the nation’s male sprinters, led by Usain Bolt, dominating the world are gone, two of the Caribbean island’s top coaches say.

While the country’s female sprinters continue to excel, the men do not rank among the year’s best in either the 100 or 200 meters.

“It appears we are going through another one of those cycles,” coach Glen Mills, who guided Bolt to eight Olympic gold medals and 14 world championship medals between 2007 and 2017, told Reuters.

“I think that there is talent in the junior level that could develop, which could move us once again to the forefront,” said the optimistic Mills two days before the June 20-23 national championships which will help determine the Jamaican team for the Sept. 28-Oct. 6 world championships in Doha.

Stephen Francis, who brought two-times world 100m bronze medalist and former record holder Asafa Powell to global attention, blamed a variety of reasons for the recent decline.

“You find that a combination of bad coaching, bad environment, bad influences and a lack of discipline and all that kind of thing are responsible for the fall,” Francis said in an interview with Reuters.

“I stated a couple of years ago that there was going to be a problem with male sprinting in Jamaica.”

The saving grace has been the female sprinters led by Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, a five times global champion at 100m, and Rio double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson, the coaches believe.

“Our female program looks very lucrative with our top females over the years, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson and of course we have quite a large number of youngsters including Briana Williams (World under-20 double gold medalist) among others,” Mills said.

Francis added: “Shelly and Elaine are there, but you have others in the pipeline who one expects in two or three or four years will replace them.

“But not so for the men, I don’t know if anybody can say where the next good talent is coming from.”

Still there is optimism that Jamaica could win as many as 10 medals in Doha.

“I think we have at least three events where we have prospects on the male side… obviously the discus (2019 world leader (Fedrick Dacres), the sprint hurdles (Olympic and world champion Omar McLeod), maybe the 400m and maybe the long jump,” Francis said.

“On the female side, there are a whole lot of events where we have medal prospects.”

Fraser-Pryce and Thompson are among the year’s fastest in the 100, Janeek Brown and Danielle Williams in the 100m hurdles and the women’s 4x100m relay team.

(Editing by Gene Cherry and Toby Davis)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) logo is seen before the FCC Net Neutrality hearing in Washington
FILE PHOTO: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) logo is seen before the FCC Net Neutrality hearing in Washington February 26, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

June 18, 2019

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will vote in July on whether to auction a key band of largely unused 2.5 GHz spectrum to help advance next-generation 5G wireless networks and scrap requirements that it be used for education, the agency said on Tuesday.

The FCC in May 2018 voted to consider releasing additional key 2.5 GHz mid-band spectrum reserved in the 1960s for what is now known as the Educational Broadband Service.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement the proposal would give existing users more flexibility in how they use the spectrum. “Valuable mid-band spectrum available for new mobile services will allow for more efficient and effective use of these airwaves and will advance U.S. leadership in 5G,” he added.

Pai said last year the FCC was seeking to ensure that existing users would retain spectrum, give some entities a chance to obtain new licenses “and then auctioning off the remaining white spaces.” Reuters reported the auction plans earlier on Tuesday.

Sprint Corp uses leased spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band in its existing 4G network and 5G network that it is being rolled out. That spectrum is a key part of Sprint and T-Mobile US Inc’s proposed $26 billion tie-up and 5G plan, and is not directly affected by the auction, FCC officials said.

The U.S. Education Department in a June 7 letter told the FCC it should maintain an “educational use requirement” for that spectrum and suggested setting aside revenue from license sales to help students who lack the internet access required to do their homework.

The FCC proposal would remove that educational requirement, officials told reporters on a conference call. It did not provide an auction timetable but said the proposal would establish a “competitive bidding window.” Several FCC auctions are planned this year, the agency added.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr last year noted that the 2.5 GHz band is unused in about half the country, and more than 90% of the licenses held by educational institutions are leased to other entities.

Carr said those arrangements show “many educational institutions have contracted with those providers so that each can focus on what it does best: the former can educate

students, and the latter can build wireless networks.”

The FCC also plans to vote next month on revising its children’s television programming rules, it said in a statement.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Richard Chang)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: South African athlete Caster Semenya speaks with journalists after she raced for the first time after her ban in France
FILE PHOTO: South African athlete Caster Semenya speaks with journalists after she raced for the first time after her ban due to elevated testosterone levels at a small meeting in Montreuil, near Paris, France, June 11, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer – /File Photo

June 18, 2019

(Reuters) – Caster Semenya will get another chance at her favorite event, the 800 meters, when the South African competes in the June 30 Prefontaine Classic in California, her agent and meeting officials told Reuters on Tuesday.

The race will be the first at the distance for the double Olympic champion since the Swiss Federal Tribunal issued a stay of new IAAF regulations for XY chromosome athletes like Semenya with differences in sexual development (DSDs) who compete in events ranging from 400 meters to a mile.

“Caster’s representation requested that she be removed from the 3,000 meters (where she was originally entered) to the 800 meters and we are happy to comply,” meet director Tom Jordan said in a telephone interview.

“Indications are she will be going for a fast time,” said Jordan, who was busy lining up a competitive field for the race at Stanford University.

Semenya, unbeaten at the distance in 30 finals since 2015, has a personal best of 1:54.25, with the world record 1:53.28.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) last month rejected her appeal against the rules, which mean middle distance female athletes with a high natural level of testosterone must take medication to reduce it.

Semenya has defiantly refused to take medication and appealed to the Swiss Federal Tribunal, which earlier this month said the South African will be able to run in the 800m without medication until her appeal is ruled on by the tribunal on June 25.

The ruling applied only to Semenya, the IAAF said.

“Nothing changes from our point of view,” an IAAF spokeswoman said on Tuesday when asked for comment on Semenya decision to run in the Diamond League race.

“The IAAF continues to comply with the Swiss Federal Tribunal’s order dated 31 May to suspend the DSD Regulations in as far as they apply to the appellant. It should be noted that the Diamond League meetings are not organized by the IAAF. Entry for any athlete into a Diamond League meeting is by invitation only from the meeting organizer.”

Semenya had wanted to run an 800 meters at Sunday’s Rabat Diamond League meeting. She at first was denied entry but officials later reversed their decision.

It came too late, Semenya said.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Source: OANN


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