U.S.

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)

Source: OANN

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)

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: U.S. investor and founder of the Baring Vostok private equity group Michael Calvey leaves a court after a hearing in Moscow, Russia
FILE PHOTO: U.S. investor and founder of the Baring Vostok private equity group Michael Calvey leaves court after a hearing in Moscow, Russia. April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

June 19, 2019

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian private equity fund Baring Vostok said on Wednesday it has ceded a 9.99% stake in Vostochny Bank to the lender’s other big shareholder following a legal battle, meaning it is no longer the majority shareholder.

Baring Vostok, whose U.S. founder is under house arrest in Russia on embezzlement charges, has been locked in a legal battle with businessman Artem Avetisyan’s Finvision over control of the bank. The case is being closely watched by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A court in Russia’s Far East ruled last week that Baring Vostok must relinquish a 9.99% stake to Finvision after Avetisyan went to court, claiming Finvision had an agreement with Baring Vostok that it could exercise an option to increase its stake by 10%.

The fund’s share in Vostochny Bank has now fallen to 41.6%, while Finvision’s share has risen to 42%, according to Reuters calculations.

A spokesman for Baring Vostok said on Wednesday that the fund did not plan to appeal the ruling and that it had already handed over the stake to Finvision.

Baring Vostok was founded by prominent U.S. businessman Michael Calvey, who with other fund executives, has been detained in Russia since February pending a trial on embezzlement charges. They all deny the charges and say the case is a way of pressuring them in a dispute over control of a Russian bank.

The case against Calvey rattled Russia’s business community and in April he was freed from jail and placed under house arrest.

Putin said earlier this month that he was closely following the embezzlement case against Calvey and that Russian law enforcement agencies should work to establish whether he was guilty or not.

(Reporting by Tatiana Voronova; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Susan Fenton)

Source: OANN

President Donald Trump’s plan to begin deporting “millions” of undocumented immigrants as soon as next week will start with people who have defied final deportation orders, acting Immigration, Customs and Enforcement Director Mark Morgan says.

Morgan told Fox News Wednesday night that the process would begin with those who have had previous access to a lawyer and a court hearing but haven’t complied with the final edict. ICE will help people who voluntarily comply execute an “ordered, dignified” exit from the U.S., he said.

“We have a demographic that has had an enormous amount of due process,” Morgan said. “We’re not going to exempt any demographic.”

The president’s announcement of the plan earlier this week was seen as a signal he may be opening a new front in his war on immigration ahead of his formal his re-election campaign kickoff last night.

Trump said in a Monday tweet that ICE would begin removing migrants “as fast as they come in” but didn’t provide details about what the new initiative would entail. Morgan said Wednesday that the operation will focus on those who have been issued final deportation orders by federal judges but remain in the country.

The president has been focusing on undocumented immigrants — one of his signature issues — in recent weeks as he tries to make the case that voters should re-elect him in 2020.

Morgan said told CNN earlier this month that the new ICE effort could prove a disincentive for migrant families currently traveling to the U.S. who count on legal limits on the time children can be held in government custody to secure release into the country.

Trump is eager to demonstrate that he’s taking a hard line on immigration as he increasingly focuses on his re-election campaign, which he’s set to launch Tuesday night in Orlando, Florida.

In 2016, Trump won the White House with a populist message and promises to build a wall and stop flows of illegal immigration. But the president has struggled to secure congressional support for construction of his signature border barrier, and migration flows have surged in recent months as migrant families from Central America pour into the country from Mexico.

The campaign of Kamala Harris, a senator from California seeking the Democratic nomination to oppose Trump in the general election, said Trump’s tweet is evidence he wants “to rid our country of ethnic and racial groups he doesn’t like.”

“History has shown us what happens when governments begin mass roundups based on ethnic background or national origin,” Harris campaign manager Juan Rodriguez said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Trump threatened to impose new tariffs on Mexico if the country didn’t stem those migrant flows. The U.S. ultimately relented after the Mexican government agreed to step up internal immigration enforcement efforts.

The administration has also requested $4.5 billion in emergency funds that would help address the surge of migrants at the border but not be used for wall construction.

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: A Harley-Davidson Inc. logo is seen at the Paris auto show in Paris
FILE PHOTO: A Harley-Davidson Inc. logo is seen at the Paris auto show in Paris, France, October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

June 19, 2019

(Reuters) – Harley-Davidson Inc will partner with Qianjiang Motorcycle Co. to produce a new range of smaller bikes, adding to moves to build more motorcycles outside the United States that have angered President Donald Trump.

The company said the new bike would have an engine displacement of 338 cubic centimeters, by far the smallest-powered engine Harley has ever made and would be sold in China from the end of 2020.

Most motorcycles sold in the U.S. are far larger, with engine capacities of more than 601 cubic centimeters.

(Reporting by Rachit Vats in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham)

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

A North Korean flag is seen on the top of its embassy in Beijing
FILE PHOTO – A North Korean flag is seen on the top of its embassy in Beijing, China, February 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee

June 19, 2019

By Josh Smith

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea has provided its largest food and aid donation since 2008 to U.N. aid program in North Korea, officials said on Wednesday, amid warnings that millions of dollars more is needed to make up for food shortages.

South Korea followed through on a promise to donate $4.5 million to the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), and announced it was also providing 50,000 tonnes of rice for delivery to its northern neighbor.

North Korea has said it is facing droughts, and U.N. aid agencies have said food production fell “dramatically” last year, leaving more than 10 million North Koreans at risk.

“This is the largest donation from the Republic of Korea to WFP DPRK since 2008 and will support 1.5 to 2 million children, pregnant and nursing mothers,” WFP senior spokesman Herve Verhoosel said in a statement, referring to his agency’s operation in North Korea, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

More aid would be needed, however, to make up for the shortfalls, he said.

“WFP estimates that at least 300,000 metric tons of food, valued at $275 million, is needed to scale up humanitarian assistance in support of those people most affected by significant crop losses over successive seasons,” Verhoosel said.

North Korea is under strict international sanctions over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

While inter-Korean engagement spiked last year amid a push to resolve the nuclear standoff, Seoul’s efforts to engage with Pyongyang have been less successful after a second U.S.-North Korea summit ended with no agreement in February.

SANCTIONS A PROBLEM

South Korea would work with the WFP to get the aid as quickly as possible to the North Korean people who need, the South’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with North Korea, said in a statement.

“The timing and scale of additional food assistance to North Korea will be determined in consideration of the outcome of the aid provision this time,” the ministry said.

According to South Korean officials the rice is worth 127 billion won ($108 million).

The government would aim to have the rice delivered before September, and officials were in touch with counterparts in North Korea, Unification minister Kim Yeon-chul told reporters.

South Korea’s Agriculture Ministry said the last time South Korea sent rice to North Korea was in 2010, when 5,000 tonnes were donated. The largest donation ever was in 2005 when South Korean sent 500,000 tonnes of rice.

Seoul also recently donated $3.5 million to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for humanitarian projects in North Korea.

Technically humanitarian aid is not blocked by the sanctions, but aid organizations said sanctions enforcement and a U.S. ban on its citizens traveling to North Korea had slowed and in some cases prevented aid from reaching the country.

Aid shipments have also been controversial because of fears that North Korea’s authoritarian government would divert the supplies or potentially profit off it.

Verhoosel said the WFP would require “high standards for access and monitoring” to be in place before distributing any aid.

In March, Russia donated more than 2,000 tonnes of wheat to the WFP’s North Korea program.

(Reporting by Josh Smith. Additional reporting by Hyonhee Shin.; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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.

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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: The logo of Austrian oil and gas group OMV is seen at a gas station in Vienna
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Austrian oil and gas group OMV is seen at a gas station in Vienna, Austria, October 30, 2018. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader/File Photo

June 19, 2019

(Corrects name of Borealis CEO to Alfred Stern (not Achim Stern) in paragraph 22 in June 18 story.)

By Kirsti Knolle

VIENNA (Reuters) – After years of largely banking on low-cost Russia for growth, OMV is shifting attention towards the Middle East as its chemist chief executive chases his vision of making the Austrian oil and gas group a major supplier of plastics.

OMV boss Rainer Seele has spent more than 4 billion euros ($4.5 billion) – 40% of the group’s M&A budget until 2025 – for oil and gas concessions in the region, a 15% stake in Abu Dhabi National Oil Co’s (ADNOC) refining business and a to-be-formed trading joint venture with ADNOC and Italy’s Eni. 

“We want to have a fully integrated business model in Abu Dhabi – from the well via the refinery and the petrochemicals all the way to marketing and trade in international markets,” the chief of Austria’s second-largest listed company told shareholders last month.

OMV traditionally earns its money from producing, distributing and refining oil and gas in Europe. A focus on low-cost oil and gas fields in Russia – a source of investor concern due to U.S. and EU sanctions – helped the group get back on its feet financially in recent years and become one of the best cash-flow generators in the sector.

After fixing a price this month for the purchase of Siberian gas assets from Gazprom, OMV has largely achieved its Russian expansion plans.

The Russia-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, of which OMV is a financing partner, could face delays. However, OMV’s downside risks are limited to the 950 million euros it has committed, of which it has paid 644 million euros so far.

“This is already captured by its discounted valuation relative to its peers,” analysts at Berenberg said in a note.

Seele’s new, Middle East-focused strategy stems from a shift in the environment surrounding OMV’s business model, with challenges created by the politically promoted rise of renewable energy and increased use of electric vehicles.

Consultancy Wood Mackenzie forecasts that demand for oil in developed countries will revert to structural decline next year and drop by about 4 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2035. In contrast, it expects demand in developing economies, mainly in Asia, to increase by nearly 16 million bpd in the same period.

The rise in developing-country demand is seen largely driven by the petrochemicals industry, which uses oil to make the plastics needed for fertilisers, packaging, detergents and clothes, as well as for electric-car parts, solar panels and wind turbines.

This is where Seele gets excited. Refraining from expanding into renewables like BP and Royal Dutch Shell, the CEO plans to monetize his oil with the expected surge in demand for plastics and also jet fuel, especially in China.

For Seele, the new focus is a journey back to his roots. The 58-year-old German holds a PhD in chemistry and started his career as a chemical research scientist.

He has chosen the United Arab Emirates as a base from which to secure a big piece of the Asian petchem pie, aiming to maximize profit via the entire value chain.

“What I am always preaching is, hey guys, try to think integrated,” he told Reuters when asked why he did not simply buy into China. “I cannot come up with an integrated business model in Asia if I buy into a petchem unit there. It would be an isolated investment.”

The UAE, a strategic investor in OMV since 1994, has aggressive energy ambitions for the coming decade. It is cooperating with international groups including Shell, Germany’s Wintershall DEA and U.S. investment firms KKR and BlackRock to pioneer approaches and technologies.

Last year, the UAE launched a $132 billion capex program to become self-sufficient in gas by 2030 and establish itself as an exporter of petrochemical products. It plans to invest $45 billion alone into the Ruwais complex, which is located 240 km (150 miles) west of Abu Dhabi, to make it the largest integrated refinery/petrochemicals facility in the world.

CREATING A “BORDEAUX”

ADNOC Refining plans to spend $1.9 billion annually, according to its five-year business plan. As OMV holds 15%, its share would be 285 million euros per year.

A cost optimization of Ruwais operations will be followed by investments to enable the use of different feedstocks and the processing of heavier, more sour crude at the site, Seele said in explaining the plans for ADNOC Refining.

“We will create a Bordeaux,” said Seele, a connoisseur of red wine. “Right now we are only running with Cabernet Sauvignon in Abu Dhabi and we will add some Merlot.”

One challenge will be to export to Ruwais OMV’s European model of bundling refining and petrochemical production in integrated hubs.

“We are transferring our European refineries now from predominantly fuel refineries to jet fuel and petchem units,” Seele said. “That’s the transformation we have in mind (for Ruwais as well).”

To deliver on its goal, OMV is working closely with its subsidiary Borealis, which partly runs the Ruwais refinery via its Borouge joint venture with ADNOC. Seele and Alfred Stern, chief executive at Borealis, plan big.

Borouge hopes to give the final go-ahead for the construction of a fourth petrochemical complex at the site next year, Stern told Reuters. He did not disclose the cost of the new complex, but said it would be a “multi-billion” decision.

OMV’s purchases of a 20% stake in Abu Dhabi’s SARB and Umm Lulu offshore oil concessions and a 5% stake in the Ghasha offshore gas and condensate fields from ADNOC were crucial for growth as they secure access to cheap feedstock, Seele said.

OMV also plans to recycle used plastic and convert it into synthetic crude oil at the Abu Dhabi complex. It is testing the patented, so-called ReOil technology at home.

“What we see in the market is a clear signal. If we don’t find a solution to recycle plastics, our polymer business will be negatively impacted,” the CEO said with a view to investors, who want the industry to work harder against climate change.

“At the latest, in 2025 we would like to have a commercial plant.”

Analysts have praised OMV’s plans, saying major players in the oil and gas industry may envy the company for the deals with its financially strong shareholder ADNOC.

However, risks remain: The emirate’s gas fields have proved challenging to monetize in the past due to high operating costs and artificially low local prices for the fuel.

“New technologies and development plans can improve this, but the fields still remain relatively difficult,” said Robin Mills, chief executive at energy consultancy Qamar Energy in Dubai.

Another challenge is inadequate infrastructure. The pipeline network needs to be extended, Seele says, at the same time indicating a solution is under way. “If you identify a problem, solve it.”

($1 = 0.8897 euros)

(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Additional reporting by Alexandra Schwarz-Goerlich; Editing by Dale Hudson and Jan Harvey)

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

An Airbus A350-1000 performs during the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris
An Airbus A350-1000 performs during the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France June 18, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

June 19, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – Airbus, reeling from the potential loss of a major customer for its best-selling A320neo as British Airways owner IAG placed a lifeline order for the grounded 737 MAX, prepared to hit back with more orders for its A321XLR on Wednesday.

The planemaker has been negotiating with U.S. airlines investor Bill Franke whose Indigo Partners has also been known to place orders for multiple airlines within its portfolio and could reel it in for the Paris Airshow, industry sources said.

Airbus declined to comment.

After weathering intense scrutiny over safety and its public image, Boeing won a vote of confidence on Tuesday as IAG signed a letter of intent to buy 200 of its 737 MAX jets that have been grounded since March after two deadly crashes.

The surprise order lifted the energy of a previously subdued Paris Airshow, where the talk had been of the possible end of the aerospace cycle, given the issues at both Boeing and Airbus as well as geopolitical and trade tensions around the world.

Australia’s Qantas Airways said on Tuesday it would order 10 Airbus new A321XLR jets and convert a further 26 from existing orders already on the Airbus books.

Airbus is also in talks with leasing company GECAS and has been trying to secure an eye-catching order for the A321XLR from American Airlines, though the world’s largest carrier does not typically make announcements at air shows.

Airbus is looking for up to 200 orders for the A321XLR, which is designed to open up new routes.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher, Eric M. Johnson, Jamie Freed, Editing by Alistair Smout)

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)

Source: OANN

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)

Source: OANN

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)

Source: OANN

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives at his official residence after an earthquake, in Tokyo
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives at his official residence after an earthquake, in Tokyo, Japan June 18, 2019, in this photo taken by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN. THIS IMAGE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY, AN UNPROCESSED VERSION HAS BEEN PROVIDED SEPARATELY.

June 19, 2019

TOKYO (Reuters) – A strong and shallow earthquake struck Japan’s northwest coast around Niigata prefecture on Tuesday, triggering a small tsunami, shaking buildings and cutting power to around 9,000 buildings.

The magnitude 6.4 quake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), lasted for as long as 20 seconds and damage included a landslide that struck a road, according to public broadcaster NHK. There were no initial reports of fatalities or fires.

Authorities lifted a 0.2-1.0 meter tsunami warning for the region after waves several centimeters high struck parts of the Niigata coast.

A tsunami of up to one meter could have caused some flooding and damage in low-lying coastal areas and river banks, though much of Japan’s coastline is guarded by sea walls.

“We will work closely with local authorities to provide any disaster measures including lifesaving and rescue operations and have instructed officials to provide information in a timely and accurate manner,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga – the top government spokesman – told a media briefing.

The quake struck at 10.22 p.m. local time (1322 GMT Thursday) at a depth of 12 kilometers (7.5 miles), the USGS said.

It measured 6.7 according to the Japan Meteorological Agency, and in some places was as high as a strong six on the agency’s seven-point “Shindo”, or Seismic Intensity Scale, which measures ground motion at specific points unlike magnitude which expresses the amount of energy released.

Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (Tepco) Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant was not affected by the quake, which hit 85 km ( 53 miles) northeast of the site. All of its seven reactors were already shut down, NHK said.

A Tepco spokesman said an initial inspection showed no damage to the plant, and inspectors would carry out more detailed checks.

The quake also temporarily halted express bullet train services in the region, with some roads also closed, according to NHK.

(Reporting by Tim Kelly, Elaine Lies, Linda Sieg, Takaya Yamaguchi and Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Catherine Evans and John Stonestreet)

Source: OANN

Pumpjacks are seen against the setting sun at the Daqing oil field in Heilongjiang
Pumpjacks are seen against the setting sun at the Daqing oil field in Heilongjiang province, China December 7, 2018. Picture taken December 7, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

June 19, 2019

By Aaron Sheldrick

TOKYO (Reuters) – Oil prices extended gains on Wednesday after rising in the previous session on rekindled hopes for a U.S.-China trade deal and on the potential for conflict between the U.S. and Iran in the Middle East after tanker attacks there last week.

Brent crude futures were up 3 cents at $62.17 a barrel by 0330 GMT. They rose 2% on Tuesday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude gained 12 cents to $54.02 a barrel. The U.S. benchmark surged 3.8% in the last session.

In a post on Twitter, U.S. President Donald Trump said preparations were starting for him to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, next week.

That comes after talks to reach a broad deal on trade between the United States and China broke down last month after Washington accused the Chinese of backing away from previously agreed commitments.

Interaction between the two sides since then has been limited, and Trump has threatened, repeatedly, to slap more tariffs on Chinese products in an escalation that businesses in both countries want to avoid.

“Global demand for crude got a boost on expectations that trade talks are showing some positive signs following President Trump’s tweets,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA in New York.

Both oil benchmarks gave up earlier gains in the Asian session after data showed that Japan’s exports fell for a sixth straight month in May as China-bound shipments weakened, underlining the impact of the trade war.

Tensions in the Middle East after last week’s tanker attacks remain high, with Trump saying he was prepared to take military action to stop Iran having a nuclear bomb but leaving open whether he would sanction the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies.

Fears of a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since last Thursday’s attacks, which Washington has blamed on Tehran. Iran has denied involvement.

Iran said this week it would breach internationally agreed curbs on its stock of low-enriched uranium within 10 days, possibly paving the way for the country to develop a nuclear weapon, adding that European nations still had time to save a landmark nuclear deal.

The U.S. is deploying about 1,000 more troops to the Middle East for what Washington said were defensive purposes, citing concerns about a threat from Iran.

Market participants are also waiting for a meeting between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers including Russia, a group known as OPEC+, to decide whether to extend a supply reduction pact that ends this month.

OPEC and non-OPEC states are discussing holding meetings on July 10-12 in Vienna, a date range proposed by Iran, OPEC sources said on Tuesday. OPEC itself, however, is considering meeting on July 1-2 though it is still saying meeting will be held on June 25-26 on its website.

U.S. crude stocks also fell by 812,000 barrels last week to 482 million, industry group the American Petroleum Institute said on Tuesday.

The report from the government’s Energy Information Administration are due later on Wednesday. [EIA/S]

(Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Joseph Radford and Christian Schmollinger)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Labourers work at Maxport garment factory in Thai Binh province
FILE PHOTO: Labourers work at Maxport garment factory in Thai Binh province, Vietnam June 13, 2019. REUTERS/Kham

June 19, 2019

By Sachin Ravikumar

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Confidence among Asian companies in the June quarter fell to its lowest since the 2008-09 financial crisis, as a U.S.-China trade war disrupts global supply chains and shows little sign of easing soon, a Thomson Reuters/INSEAD survey found.

The Thomson Reuters/INSEAD Asian Business Sentiment Index tracking companies’ six-month outlook worsened in the three months ended June to 53, versus 63 in the previous two quarters.

A reading above 50 means optimistic respondents outnumbered pessimists, but worries about the threat of a prolonged trade war drove the index to its lowest since the June quarter of 2009, when the first edition of the survey was released.

“There was a big dip (in the index) three quarters ago, and we felt it was the uncertainty about the trade war and people were worried about the future,” said Antonio Fatas, a Singapore-based economics professor at global business school INSEAD.

“We get a sense after four quarters of low numbers that now, it’s not just uncertainty. This is a true slowdown in growth. We see activity declining — it’s not just the expectation that activity will decline,” Fatas added.

For a fourth straight quarter, survey participants cited the global trade war as the chief risk to business, followed by Brexit and a slowdown in the Chinese economy.

The survey interviewed 95 companies in 11 Asia-Pacific countries that together contribute about a third of global gross domestic product and are home to 45% of the world’s population.

It was conducted from May 31 to June 14.

RISING CAUTION

The index staying above the neutral point of 50 suggests companies in the region are not expecting an imminent global recession, but the decade low indicates caution was rising as trade tensions mount.

The United States and China have been embroiled in a trade standoff since last year, marked by tit-for-tat import tariffs, as Washington looks to force Beijing to make changes to its business policies. Talks between the two to reach a detente ended last month without a deal.

Washington’s move to put Huawei, the world’s No.2 maker of smartphones, on an export blacklist that bars U.S. companies from doing business with the Chinese firm without special approval further ratcheted up tensions.

Still, U.S. President Donald Trump has said that a deal would “eventually” be struck.

BNP Paribas, however, does not expect a resolution to the trade war this year, said Hong Kong-based Manishi Raychaudhuri, Asia-Pacific equity strategist at the banking group.

The trade tensions are hurting supply lines, especially that for higher-end smartphones, with many manufacturers looking to move production out of China and into countries such as Vietnam, Taiwan and Bangladesh, Raychaudhuri noted.

These changes, however, “can’t be made overnight”, he added.

U.S.-based Broadcom Inc, which makes radio-frequency chips used in Apple’s iPhones and iPads, last week forecast a $2 billion hit to annual sales from the trade tensions and the U.S. ban on Huawei.

Huawei has acknowledged a harder-than-expected hit from the ban and slashed its revenue forecast for the year.

China’s economy is also feeling the heat, with industrial output growth sliding to a 17-year low in May.

Respondents to the survey included Japan’s Nikon Corp, South Korea’s Samsung Electronics, India’s Tata Consultancy Services and Reliance Industries Ltd, as well as Thailand’s PTT PCL.

Note: Companies surveyed can change from quarter to quarter.

(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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

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

A man is reflected on an electronic board showing a graph analyzing recent change of Nikkei stock index outside a brokerage in Tokyo
A man is reflected on an electronic board showing a graph analyzing recent change of Nikkei stock index outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

June 19, 2019

By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian share markets jumped on Wednesday as investors dared to hope the Federal Reserve would follow the lead of the European Central Bank and open the door to future rate cuts at its policy meeting later in the day.

Indeed, ECB President Mario Draghi’s shock turnaround on easing fueled talk of a worldwide wave of central bank stimulus, firing up stocks, bonds and commodities.

Adding to the cheer was news U.S. President Donald Trump would meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit later this month, and that trade talks would restart after a recent lull.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbed 0.6% in early trade, adding to a 1% gain the day before.

Japan’s Nikkei rose 1.5% and South Korea 1.1%. E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 were a fraction firmer after a upbeat Wall Street session.

The Dow ended Tuesday with gains of 1.35%, while the S&P 500 rose 0.97% and the Nasdaq 1.39%. The S&P 500 has gained 6% so far this month to be 1% from the all-time high hit in early May.

All eyes are now upon the Fed which is scheduled to release a statement at 1800 GMT on Wednesday, followed by a press conference by Chairman Jerome Powell shortly after.

Yet the heightened anticipation also creates risks the Fed might fail to meet investors’ high expectations.

“Market expectations for a dovish shift are nearly universal, the only question seems to be the degree,” said Blake Gwinn, head of front-end rates at NatWest Markets.

Futures are almost fully priced for a quarter-point easing in July and imply more than 60 basis points of cuts by Christmas.

“Markets will be looking for validation of this pricing,” he added. “We think this represents a fairly high bar for the Fed to deliver a dovish surprise.”

SUB-ZERO YIELDS

BofA Merrill Lynch’s latest fund manager survey spoke volumes about the sea change in sentiment.

Allocation to global equities dropped 32 points to a net 21% underweight, the lowest since March 2009, while the bond allocation hit the highest since September 2011.

Interest rate expectations collapsed, while concerns about a trade war soared to be the top risk for investors, ahead of monetary policy impotence, U.S. politics and a slower China.

The shift was clear in bond markets where German yields hit record lows deep in negative territory, while Japanese yields sank to the lowest since august 2016 at -0.145%.

Yields on the U.S. 10-year note reached the lowest since September 2017 at 2.016%, a world away from the 3.25% top touched in November last year.

The fallout in currencies was significantly less, in large part because it was hard for one to gain when all the major central banks were under pressure to ease.

The euro did pull back a bit after Draghi’s comments, but at $1.1198 was still well within the recent trading range of $1.1106-$1.1347.

The dollar remained sidelined against the yen at 108.53, and a shade firmer on a basket of currencies at 97.628.

In commodity markets, the rate-cut buzz kept gold near 14-month highs at $1,346.62 per ounce.

Michael Hsueh, an analyst at Deutsche, noted the decisively dovish shift in central bank expectations was bullish for gold.

“This provides the desired backdrop – one in which investors are less likely to be concerned about the opportunity cost of holding a non-yielding asset, particularly versus the increasing stock of negative-yielding debt,” he said.

Reflation trades also supported oil prices, as did hopes for a thawing in the Sino-U.S. trade dispute. [O/R]

Brent crude futures bounced 40 cents to $62.54, while U.S. crude firmed 45 cents at $54.35 a barrel.

(Editing by Sam Holmes)

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

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

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

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had strong words for his Republican colleague Tuesday as he called for the Senate to take on election security legislation.

The New York Democrat mentioned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell several times during a press briefing, saying it’s time for Republicans to step up to the plate and work with Democrats on securing the nation’s elections system.

“Democrats will keep pushing McConnell and the Senate to secure elections in several different ways,” Schumer said.

“First, we will continue to press Leader McConnell to hold debate, and we’re gonna hold standalone votes, vote after vote, on the many bills that exist on election security. Second, I am calling on Leader McConnell to allow votes on amendments to the NDAA — the defense bill coming up this week — related to securing our elections from foreign interference. Third, I’m gonna push for more election security as part of the budget caps deal.”

NBC News posted a clip of Schumer’s remarks.

Schumer said he’s baffled as to why the GOP-run Senate has not yet addressed election security bills that have been introduced.

“Just last week, Sen. McConnell was asked why the Senate hasn’t voted on election security legislation. He responded by telling reporters that they needed to write about the absence of problems in the 2018 election,” Schumer said.

“Sen. McConnell’s comments come after learning in the Mueller report that election systems in Florida counties were hacked by Russia. Three years later, the public is still learning how Russia interfered with our democracies. It is irresponsible by the Republican leader to declare ‘mission accomplished’ about the 2018 elections.”

Schumer added that he won’t stand by and watch the bills sit idly in “Leader McConnell’s legislative graveyard.”

McConnell said last week, meanwhile, that the Senate will hold a briefing on election security.

Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election through computer hacks, social media campaigns, and other tactics that, according to the Mueller report, were performed by the Russian government.

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan speak to the media at the State Department in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan speak to the media at the State Department in Washington, U.S., April 19, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

June 18, 2019

By Phil Stewart and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan abandoned his quest for the top Pentagon job on Tuesday as reports emerged of domestic violence in his family, plunging the leadership of the U.S. military into new uncertainty just as tensions with Iran are rising.

Shanahan said he made the decision, first announced by U.S. President Donald Trump in a tweet, to prevent his three children from reliving “a traumatic chapter in our family life.”

“It is unfortunate that a painful and deeply personal family situation from long ago is being dredged up,” Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, said in a statement.

Hours after naming Secretary of the Army Mark Esper to replace Shanahan as acting secretary, Trump told reporters he would likely nominate the former Raytheon executive and army veteran to the defense secretary position.

Shanahan, 56, was thrust into the role in an acting capacity in January, after then Defense Secretary Jim Mattis abruptly resigned over policy differences with Trump.

He had been due to go before U.S. senators for confirmation hearings when the allegations of incidents of domestic violence surfaced as part of FBI background checks.

USA Today reported that the FBI had been examining a nine-year-old dispute involving Shanahan and his then-wife.

The newspaper reported https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/06/18/defense-secretary-fbi-patrick-shanahan-wife-domestic-violence-altercation/1470811001 that Shanahan said in a statement late on Monday that he “never laid a hand on” his former wife. USA Today reported that he and his wife both claimed they had been punched by the other and that his wife was arrested after the incident but the charges were dropped.

The Washington Post also reported that Shanahan’s teenage son allegedly hit his mother with a baseball bat in 2011, when the Shanahans were already living apart, leaving her unconscious in a pool of blood.

The Post said Shanahan had been responding to its questions about the incidents since January. He told the paper he now believes he was wrong to say in a memo to his ex-wife’s brother that his son had acted in self-defense.

“Bad things can happen to good families . . . and this is a tragedy, really,” the paper quoted Shanahan as saying. He added the disclosure of the incident would “ruin my son’s life.”

IRAN TENSIONS

Shanahan has been a prominent figure as tensions between the United States and Iran have risen in recent weeks. It was Shanahan who announced the deployment of about 1,000 more troops to the Middle East on Monday, citing concerns about a threat from Iran.

Worries about a confrontation between the two countries have mounted since attacks last week on two oil tankers near the Gulf. Washington blamed long-time foe Iran for the incidents but Tehran denies responsibility.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it was a bad time for the United States not to have stable leadership at the Pentagon.

“This is a very difficult time, with everything going on in Iran and with provocations and counteractions. And to have no Secretary of Defense at this time? It’s appalling, and it shows the chaos in this administration,” he told reporters.

The decision to stand down promises to prolong what has already been the longest period without a confirmed defense secretary.

Shanahan was the longest official in history to serve as secretary of defense in only an acting capacity, according to Pentagon records. Part of the delay was due to Shanahan being under investigation by the Pentagon inspector general for allegedly seeking preferential treatment of Boeing while at the department. He was cleared of wrongdoing in April.

Shanahan did not have prior experience in national security matters before he was picked by Mattis to be his deputy.

A source familiar with the situation said Shanahan met Trump in the Oval Office on Tuesday morning to say he wanted to step down. The source, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the decision was 100 percent Shanahan’s.

(Additional reporting by Makini Brice and Amanda Becker; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Mary Milliken, Nick Zieminski and Sonya Hepinstall)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission logo adorns an office door at the SEC headquarters in Washington
FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission logo adorns an office door at the SEC headquarters in Washington, June 24, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

June 18, 2019

By Katanga Johnson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said on Tuesday it is considering boosting the number of options in private stock sales by broadening access to more potential investors and revamping the capital-raising process of private companies.

The agency invited the public to comment on whether it should expand its private-offering framework.

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said he considers public consultation a step toward addressing concerns over the large amount of capital raised in the private versus public markets, and the way it bars some investors from participating.

“We are taking a critical look at our exemptions from registration to ensure that our multifaceted private offering framework works for investors and entrepreneurs alike, no matter where they are located in the United States,” Clayton said.

He added that the goal is to expand investment opportunities while maintaining appropriate protections.

Tuesday’s request for comment seeks public feedback on whether the SEC should take steps to facilitate a company’s transition from one form of offering to another, and whether retail investors should be allowed greater exposure to companies through pooled investment, the agency said.

It will also consider the limitations on who, and in what amount, a person can invest in a private company stock sale.

The agency said it welcomes responses from startups, entrepreneurs and investors.

Some industry advocates welcome the SEC’s public consultation, arguing that both companies and investors stand to win if the agency moved to adopt a proposal that expanded investor access to private offerings.

“There is huge interest from retail investors in getting in on the ground floor of the next large successful company,” said Dina Ellis Rochkind, an attorney with the Paul Hastings law firm. There would be equally strong interest from startups to raise capital from retail investors, she added.

Democrat-appointed Commissioner Rob Jackson said he voted in favor of letting the public in to more private deals but was hesitant because of the potential for fraud to less-savvy investors.

“The questions in this release involve a fundamental tradeoff: the costs families suffer when investors are victims of fraud versus the benefits of broader access to capital,” Jackson said.

(Reporting by Katanga Johnson; Editing by Susan Thomas and Bill Berkrot)

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

Sanctions are working against Iran, and as it is “lashing out,” the Trump administration is acting “absolutely appropriate” with the steps it has taken to protect U.S. allies and assets in the region, Rep. Michael Waltz said Tuesday.

“Inflation is spiking,” the Florida Republican told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.” “You have a series of labor strikes…since the president lifted the waivers, in terms of Iran being able to export its oil, they have dropped from 2.5 million barrels per day to less than 400,000.”

That has caused Iran’s government to “externalize the problem,” which is creating an “external crisis,” said Waltz.

He also said Iran’s pressure on Europe is “blackmail,” as it is trying to create a narrative blaming the current issues on the United States for pulling out of the Iran deal.

“That ignores the fact that Iran is supporting terrorism all over the region and Syria, Iraq, Yemen,” said Waltz. “It is holding Americans hostage as we speak.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., has also blamed Trump’s actions and called on the United States to reinstate the Iran nuclear deal, and Waltz said she is ignoring the “fact of history,” from the Beirut bombings to the deaths of more than 500 American soldiers during the Iraq War.

“At the end of the day, they are emboldened by a perceived weakness, and deterred by strength,” said Waltz.

He also on Tuesday commented on the Trump 2020 rally taking place in his home state noting that a win in Florida is important to a presidential race.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has withdrawn from consideration to head the U.S. military, President Donald Trump said on Tuesday, adding that Shanahan wanted to spend more time with his family.

Trump said Secretary of the Army Mark Esper will be named as the new acting defense secretary. Esper had been considered a leading contender for the job if Shanahan was ultimately not confirmed.

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: Single family homes being built by KB Homes are shown under construction in San Diego
FILE PHOTO: Single family homes being built by KB Homes are shown under construction in San Diego, California, U.S., April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

June 18, 2019

By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. homebuilding fell in May, but groundbreaking activity in the prior two months was stronger than previously thought, pointing to some tentative signs of improvement in the struggling housing market.

Land and labor shortages are, however, making it difficult for builders, especially in the single-family housing segment, to fully take advantage of a sharp decline in mortgage rates. That has left the housing market continuing to grapple with tight inventory and sluggish sales growth.

The report from the Commerce Department on Tuesday came as Federal Reserve officials started a two-day policy meeting.

Low inflation, a slowing economy and an escalation in the trade war between Washington and Beijing have led financial markets to fully price in an interest rate cut this year, pulling down mortgage rates. The U.S. central bank is, however, not expected to cut rates on Wednesday.

“Housing continues to wander along, not doing much better but not weakening a whole lot,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania.

Housing starts dropped 0.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.269 million units last month amid a drop in the construction of single-family housing units, the government said. Data for April was revised up to show homebuilding rising to a pace of 1.281 million units, instead of increasing to a rate of 1.235 million units as previously reported. Housing starts in March were also stronger than initially estimated.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast housing starts edging up to a pace of 1.239 million units in May.

Single-family homebuilding, which accounts for the largest share of the housing market, dropped 6.4% to a rate of 820,000 units in May. Single-family housing starts fell in the Northeast, the Midwest and West, but rose in the South, where the bulk of homebuilding occurs.

Some on the weakness in groundbreaking activity likely reflects heavy rain and flooding in some parts of the country.

The housing market hit a soft patch last year and has been a drag on economic growth for five straight quarters.

The PHLX housing index was trading higher, in line with a broadly firmer U.S. stock market. The dollar rose slightly against a basket of currencies, while U.S. Treasury yields fell.

GRADUAL IMPROVEMENT

Despite the recent signs of improvement in housing starts, there are concerns that renewed trade tensions between the United States and China could hurt future home building.

A survey on Monday showed confidence among homebuilders ebbed in June, with builders continuing “to report rising development and construction costs, with some additional concerns over trade issues.”

Builders said that despite lower mortgage rates, “home prices remain somewhat high relative to incomes, which is particularly challenging for entry-level buyers.”

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate has decreased to 3.82% from a peak of about 4.94% in November, according to data from mortgage finance agency Freddie Mac. According to the latest data, house prices rose 3.7% in March from a year ago, outpacing wages, which increased 3.1% in May.

Building permits rose 0.3% to a rate of 1.294 million units in May. It was the second straight monthly increase in permits. Building permits have been weak this year, with much of the decline concentrated in the single-family housing segment.

Permits to build single-family homes increased 3.7% to a rate of 815,000 units in May, after five straight monthly declines. Permits were boosted by a 7.7% jump in the South, the largest gain since December 2016. But single-family housing permits fell in the Northeast, West and Midwest.

“The gain in permits along with more favorable buying conditions points to gradually improving activity over the summer,” said Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, North Carolina. “That said, lower mortgages rates will not likely be rocket fuel for residential construction, and a surge in activity is unlikely.”

Starts for the volatile multi-family housing segment surged 10.9% to a rate of 449,000 units last month. Permits for the construction of multi-family homes dropped 5.0% to a pace of 479,000 units.

Housing completions fell 9.5% to 1.213 million last month. Realtors estimate that housing starts and completion rates need to be in a range of 1.5 million to 1.6 million units per month to plug the inventory gap. The stock of housing under construction was little changed at 1.131 million units.

“If you were waiting for more construction to deal with the nation’s growing housing shortage, you are going to have a longer wait,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York.

(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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 17, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

June 18, 2019

By Shreyashi Sanyal

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks rallied on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 inching close to record levels, as President Donald Trump’s comments on restarting trade talks with China added to optimism of a more accommodative Federal Reserve.

Trump said he would meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit later this month, and that talks between the two countries would restart after a long lull.

Trade-sensitive industrials jumped 1.92% on the development, while technology stocks gained 2.08%, the biggest boost to the benchmark index.

Chip companies, which have a sizable revenue exposure to China, led the rally among tech stocks, with the Philadelphia Semiconductor index surging 4.67%.

“Trump’s meeting with Xi was really what the markets had been hoping for to restart the trade negotiations. Right now the conversation is headed in a direction that’s removing the fear of a trade war,” said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist and senior portfolio manager at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York.

The prolonged trade war and its impact on economic growth had investors betting that the Fed would cut rates to preserve the current U.S. economic expansion, which would be the longest on record this summer.

The central bank is expected to leave interest rates unchanged at its two-day policy meeting ending Wednesday, but is widely seen as laying the foundation for a cut later this year.

The Fed is scheduled to release its statement at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) on Wednesday and Chairman Jerome Powell will address a press conference shortly after.

The S&P 500 has gained 5% so far this month on rate cut expectations, putting the benchmark index just 1% away from its all-time high hit in early May.

“Fed’s main task will be the same as always: Carefully craft its language as to not disappoint markets. ‘Yes, we may not cut right away, but don’t worry, anything goes wrong we’ll be right there to save you’,” said Craig Kirsner, president at Stuart Estate Planning Wealth Advisors in Coconut Creek, Florida.

Lifting sentiment was ECB President Mario Draghi’s comments indicating a possibility of fresh rate cuts or asset purchases.

At 11:16 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 372.66 points, or 1.43%, at 26,485.19 and the S&P 500 was up 37.43 points, or 1.30%, at 2,927.10.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 149.21 points, or 1.90%, at 7,994.24.

Large-cap favorites such as Facebook Inc, Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp rose between 1.5% and 3%, the biggest boost to the Nasdaq.

Boeing Co gained 2.8%, lifting the Dow, after the planemaker received an order for its 737 MAX jets, which have been grounded, valued at more than $24 billion at list prices.

Facebook climbed 1.09% after it revealed plans to launch a cryptocurrency called Libra, the latest development in its effort to expand beyond social networking and move into e-commerce and global payments.

Only the defensive utilities, real estate and consumer staples sectors were among the decliners.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 4.83-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 3.80-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 53 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 71 new highs and 25 new lows.

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

Source: OANN

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., one of the most vulnerable U.S. senators running for re-election next year, will receive backing from Americans for Prosperity, the political arm of the influential Koch network, CNBC reported Tuesday.

The director of AFP’s Colorado operation, Jesse Mallory, explained Gardner’s willingness to stand up to President Donald Trump is one of the main reasons for the group’s support.

“He was one of the first five GOP senators to back a proposal in 2018 to rein in the president’s authority to impose tariffs unilaterally, and has called on the president to work with Congress to avoid prolonging the trade war that is driving up prices for consumers and businesses and killing jobs in industries that depend on imported components, in Colorado and across the country,” Mallory wrote in an op-ed published in the Colorado Sun on Tuesday.

In addition to benefitting from AFP Action’s grassroots mobilization and advertising campaigns, the Libertarian organization will also be hosting a rally for Gardner in Denver on June 26.

The endorsement by the AFP for Gardner comes as political analysts are labeling Colorado’s senate seat as a possible pickup opportunity for the Democrats in 2020, with the GOP defending at least 20 seats in the Senate in the election next year.

Related Stories:

Source: NewsMax Politics

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees arrive at FCI Victorville federal prison in Victorville
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees arrive at FCI Victorville federal prison in Victorville, California, U.S. June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

June 18, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Monday that U.S. authorities would begin next week removing millions of immigrants who are in the United States illegally.

“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump tweeted, referring to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. “They will be removed as fast as they come in,” he said. He did not offer specifics.

There are an estimated 12 million immigrants who are in the United States illegally, mainly from Mexico and Central America.

Under a deal reached earlier this month, Mexico has agreed to take Central American immigrants seeking asylum in the United States until their cases are heard in U.S. courts.

The agreement, which included Mexico pledging to deploy National Guard troops to stop Central American immigrants from reaching the U.S. border, averted a Trump threat to hit Mexican imports with tariffs.

Trump also said in the tweet that Guatemala “is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement.”

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence suggested last week that Guatemala could receive asylum seekers from its neighbors as a so-called safe third country.

Details of the plan have not been made public, and Guatemala has not publicly confirmed talks that the U.S. State Department said were taking place in Guatemala on Friday.

U.S. rights group Human Rights First said, however, it was “simply ludicrous” for the United States to assert that Guatemala was capable of protecting refugees, when its own citizens are fleeing violence.

Mexico has agreed that if its measures to stem the flow of migrants are unsuccessful, it will discuss signing a safe third country agreement with the United States.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Peter Cooney)

Source: OANN

One of film producer Weinstein's new attorneys Baez speaks following a hearing at New York Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City
FILE PHOTO: Part of film producer Harvey Weinstein’s new legal team, attorney Jose Baez, speaks following a hearing at New York Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., January 25, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

June 18, 2019

NEW YORK (Reuters) – One of the lawyers representing Harvey Weinstein in his rape trial due to begin in September has asked a judge to let him drop the former movie producer as a client, the New York Post reported, citing a letter from the attorney to the New York court.

The attorney, Jose Baez, asked a Manhattan justice to let him off the case six months after Weinstein, 67, hired him because of their strained relationship, the newspaper reported on Monday.

“Mr. Weinstein has engaged in behavior that makes this representation unreasonably difficult to carry out effectively and has insisted upon taking actions with which I have fundamental disagreements,” Baez wrote to Manhattan Supreme Court Justice James Burke last week, according to the newspaper.

Baez did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

Prosecutors in New York accuse Weinstein, 67, of forcibly performing oral sex on a woman in 2006 and raping another woman in 2013. Weinstein faces five criminal charges, including rape, and could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. The trial is scheduled to begin on Sept. 9.

More than 70 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct. He has denied all accusations and said any sexual contact was consensual.

Weinstein hired Baez and Harvard University law professor Ron Sullivan after his former attorney Ben Brafman left the case in January. Sullivan left the case last month after his defense of Weinstein sparked an outcry at Harvard and led to his dismissal from a dean role.

Baez previously represented Casey Anthony, a Florida woman found not guilty in 2011 of murdering her 2-year-old daughter Caylee in a high-profile criminal case.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Will Dunham)

Source: OANN

Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., is ramping up the rhetoric against the Trump administration’s work to stem mass migration, calling the centers where arrested illegals are being detained “concentration camps,” comparing it to the Holocaust.

“The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border,” AOC told her Instagram followers in a live video Monday night, as posted by the Washington Examiner. “And that is exactly what they are. They are concentration camps.”

AOC’s rhetoric was reiterated via Twitter on Tuesday morning:

“This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying. This is not hyperbole. It is the conclusion of expert analysis.”

AOC was linking to an Esquire opinion piece that compared the Trump administration’s stopping of asylum seekers at the border and housing them at U.S. centers to the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, where they housed Jews during World War II before slaughtering them.

The Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. – when reached by the Examiner – sent an essay warning “Why Holocaust Analogies Are Dangerous.”

“It is all too easy to forget that there are many people still alive for whom the Holocaust is not ‘history,’ but their life story and that of their families,” Holocaust historian Edna Friedberg wrote. “These are not abstract tragedies on call to win an argument or an election. They carry the painful memories of the brutal murder of a cherished baby boy, the rape of a beloved sister, the parents arrested and never seen again. . . .

“Careless Holocaust analogies may demonize, demean, and intimidate their targets. But there is a cost for all of us because they distract from the real issues challenging our society, because they shut down productive, thoughtful discourse.

“At a time when our country needs dialogue more than ever, it is especially dangerous to exploit the memory of the Holocaust as a rhetorical cudgel. We owe the survivors more than that. And we owe ourselves more than that.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

President Donald Trump, whose administration has blamed Iran for the attacks on Norwegian and Japanese oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, described those and other recent incidents as “very minor.”

Trump’s comments came in an interview with Time magazine Monday.

In the interview, Trump cast doubt about going to war to protect international oil supplies; however, he said he might take military action to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

“I would certainly go over nuclear weapons,” Trump said when asked what moves would lead him to consider going to war with Iran, “and I would keep the other a question mark.”

Asked about the recent attacks on oil tankers, he described those as limited and said: “So far, it’s been very minor.”

He noted the Gulf of Oman is less important to the United States than it once was.

“Other places get such vast amounts of oil there,” Trump said. “We get very little. We have made tremendous progress in the last two and a half years in energy. And when the pipelines get built, we’re now an exporter of energy.”

And Trump maintained Iran has adopted a less hostile posture toward the U.S. since he took office.

Meanwhile, Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, citing concerns about a threat from Iran, said Monday 1,000 more troops will be deployed to the Middle East for what he said were “defensive purposes.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a news conference at Diaoyutai state guesthouse in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a news conference with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez (not pictured) at Diaoyutai state guesthouse in Beijing, China May 29, 2019. REUTERS/Florence Lo

June 18, 2019

By Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters) – The Chinese government’s top diplomat warned on Tuesday that the world should not open a “Pandora’s Box” in the Middle East, as he denounced U.S. pressure on Iran and called on it not to drop out of a landmark nuclear deal.

Fears of a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since last Thursday when two oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman.

The United States blamed Iran for the attacks, more than a year after President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Iran denied involvement in the tanker attacks and said on Monday it would soon breach limits on how much enriched uranium it can stockpile under the deal, which had sought to limit its nuclear capabilities.

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced on the same day the deployment of about 1,000 more troops to the Middle East for what he said were defensive purposes, citing concerns about a threat from Iran.

Speaking in Beijing after meeting Syria’s foreign minister, Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi said the United States should not use “extreme pressure” to resolve issues with Iran.

Wang told reporters that China was “of course, very concerned” about the situation in the Gulf and with Iran, and called on all sides to ease tension and not head towards a clash.

“We call on all sides to remain rational and exercise restraint, and not take any escalatory actions that irritate regional tensions, and not open a Pandora’s box,” Wang said.

“In particular, the U.S. side should alter its extreme pressure methods,” Wang said.

“Any unilateral behavior has no basis in international law. Not only will it not resolve the problem, it will only create an even greater crisis.”

Wang also said that the Iran nuclear deal was the only feasible way to resolve its nuclear issue, and he urged Iran to be prudent.

“We understand that relevant parties may have different concerns but first of all the comprehensive nuclear deal should be properly implemented,” he added. “We hope that Iran is cautious with its decision-making and not lightly abandon this agreement.”

At the same time, China hopes other parties respect Iran’s legitimate lawful rights and interests, Wang said.

China and Iran have close energy ties, and China has been angered by U.S. threats against countries and companies that violate U.S. sanctions by importing Iranian oil, including Chinese firms.

China has had to walk a fine line as it has also been cultivating relations with Iran’s regional rival, Saudi Arabia, the Asian giant’s top oil supplier.

Iran’s foreign minister has visited China twice this year already. Saudi Arabia’s crown prince has also visited Beijing this year.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Writing by Se Young Lee and Michael Martina; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Robert Birsel)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: 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: 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/File Photo

June 18, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he would meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit later this month, and that trade talks between the two countries were set to restart ahead of time.

“Had a very good telephone conversation with President Xi of China. We will be having an extended meeting next week at the G-20 in Japan. Our respective teams will begin talks prior to our meeting,” Trump tweeted.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Tim Ahmann)

Source: OANN

A worker adjusts EU and U.S. flags at the start of the 2nd round of EU-US trade negociations at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels
A worker adjusts European Union and U.S. flags at the start of the 2nd round of EU-US trade negotiations for Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

June 18, 2019

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s trade surplus in goods with the United States increased in the first four months of 2019 while its deficit with China widened, figures that could further strain global tensions.

The European Union’s surplus with the United States grew to 48.2 billion euros ($54.0 billion) in Jan-Apr 2019 from 46.0 billion euros in the same period of 2018, EU statistics office Eurostat reported on Tuesday.

With China, the EU’s trade deficit expanded to 62.0 billion from 57.2 billion euros.

The United States has hit the European Union with tariffs and threatened more in complaint over the trade balance. Both Washington and Brussels have also complained that China wants free trade without playing fair.

Overall, the goods trade deficit of the 28-nation bloc increased to 21.7 billion euros in Jan-Apr 2019 from 10.3 billion a year earlier.

Energy imports were the chief cause of the deficit, especially from Russia and Norway.

For the narrower 19-country euro zone, exports grew by 5.2% year-on-year in April and imports by 6.6%, leading to a narrowing of its trade surplus to 15.7 billion euros in April from 17.1 billion a year earlier.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the euro zone’s trade surplus also declined to 15.3 billion euros in April from 18.6 billion in March as exports fell by 2.5% month-on-month and imports declined by 0.9%.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Francesco Guarascio)

Source: OANN

President Donald Trump criticized European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s comments Tuesday that further monetary policy changes may be needed by the ECB, saying that would spark unfair European competition against the United States.

“Mario Draghi just announced more stimulus could come, which immediately dropped the Euro against the Dollar, making it unfairly easier for them to compete against the USA. They have been getting away with this for years, along with China and others,” Trump said on Twitter.

Draghi said the ECB might may need to cut interest rates or purchase assets if inflation in the euro zone continued to lag its target range.

“In the absence of improvement, such that the sustained return of inflation to our aim is threatened, additional stimulus will be required,” Draghi told the ECB’s annual conference in Sintra, Portugal.

The comments sent the euro down by a quarter of a percent against the U.S. dollar while stocks erased early losses and bond yields fell further.

Trump has repeatedly criticized currency manipulation by other countries with which the United States has large trade deficits, saying weaker currencies abroad give trading partners an unfair advantage and hurts American workers.

If a country’s currency is artificially low, its exports are more competitive. Higher U.S. interest rates would generally increase the value of the dollar, making U.S. exports more expensive.

Earlier in June, Trump criticized China, with which he is engaged in a trade spat, for devaluing its currency and said it created an uneven playing field for commerce.

He made similar criticisms of Russia and China in April, remarks that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said were “a warning shot at China and Russia about devaluation.”

Trump has been critical of the U.S. Federal Reserve for its recent interest rate increases and has pressed the independent central bank to cut rates at a policy meeting this week. But the Fed is expected to leave borrowing costs unchanged on Wednesday.

Source: NewsMax Politics

An aerial view shows the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris
An aerial view shows the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France, June 17, 2019. Picture taken June 17, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

June 18, 2019

By Tim Hepher and Eric M. Johnson

LE BOURGET, France (Reuters) – Airbus and Boeing bagged a combined $15 billion of plane deals on day two of the Paris Airshow, as their sales teams scrapped for orders after a downturn in business at many airlines and the grounding of Boeing’s top-selling jet.

Airbus extended its early lead in orders at the event with a $6 billion deal on Tuesday to sell 36 planes to Philippines airline Cebu Air, including 10 of the new long-range A321XLR model launched on Monday.

The European planemaker also struck a deal to sell a further 30 A320neo aircraft to Saudi Arabian Airlines, worth $3.3 billion at list prices, while Malaysia’s AirAsia converted 253 A320neo orders to the larger A321neo model. Financial terms of the AirAsia deal were not disclosed.

Airbus shares were up 0.6% at 1100 GMT, having touched a record high of 126.50 euros in early trade.

Boeing, meanwhile, gained a much needed lift after a slow start to the show on Monday as Korean Air committed to buying 20 of the U.S. planemaker’s 787 Dreamliners, worth $6.3 billion at list prices.

Despite the flurry of activity, dealmaking at the aerospace industry’s biggest annual event has been quieter than normal, fuelling speculation that a decade-long boom might be coming to an end.

With airlines struggling to contend with overcapacity, slowing economies and geopolitical tensions, some analysts warn that Airbus and Boeing could face a growing number of cancellations from their bulging order books.

Boeing in particular is suffering after the grounding of its MAX 737 aircraft in March following two deadly crashes.

A321XLR TAKES OFF

However, the planemakers are confident of continued strong demand for more fuel-efficient jets as emissions regulations tighten and air travel continues to rise, driven by Asia’s growing middle classes. Boeing on Monday increased its 20-year industry demand forecast.

“Although investors have started to ask questions about the state of the upcycle, the aerospace industry remains very confident in the current state of the market,” analysts at Vertical Research Partners said in a note.

Sources familiar with the matter say that American Airlines and leasing giant GECAS are also in talks to buy Airbus’s new A321XLR, which is aimed at new routes for airlines with smaller planes, stealing a march on Boeing’s plans for a potential planned NMA mid-market jet.

As well as 10 Airbus A321XLR jets, Cebu Air said it was buying 16 larger A330neo planes and five of A320neo model. Finance chief Andrew Huang told a news conference the A330neo jets would have up to 460 seats, allowing the budget airline to add new international routes.

Cebu, which operates the Cebu Pacific brand, had a 51% share of the Philippine domestic market in 2018, according to company data. In the international market, its 19% share was second only to the 28% held by full-service rival Philippine Airlines.

Saudi Arabian Airlines, which already has 35 planes on order from the Airbus A320neo family, said its additional purchases included 15 of the A321XLR jet and that it also has an option to buy as many as 35 more A320neo aircraft.

Korean Air said in October 2018 that it was likely to order more Boeing 787 jets, mainly to replace its existing aircraft, as it looks to streamline its fleet and reduce costs.

(Additional reporting by Laurence Frost, Andrea Shala, Alistair Smout, Cyril Altmeyerhenzien, Sudip Kar-Gupta, Neil Jerome and Jamie Freed; Editing by Mark Potter, Keith Weir and David Goodman)

Source: OANN


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