Month: February 2019

Rob Dew joins this broadcast of the War Room to discuss the potential filing of perjury charges against Michael Cohen. Craig Sawyer then joins to even further expose the censorship against conservatives on Facebook and then Owen wraps up the show taking callers and discussing today’s recent news.

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Craig Sawyer//Skype

Source: The War Room

Speakers at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday warned against “the Democrats’ crazy efforts to impeach” President Donald Trump, Fox News reports.

In his speech, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the highest ranking Republican on the House Oversight Committee, dismissed the testimony given by Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen earlier this week.

“This is step one in the Democrats’ crazy efforts to impeach the president of the United States,” he said.

“And the best they could come up with is this guy who is going to prison in two months for lying to Congress,” Jordan said, referring to Cohen. “That’s their star witness. That’s their first big hearing.”

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said that Democrats are “trying to lay the foundation” to impeach Trump with Cohen’s testimony.

“It’s not just impeachment,” he said. “It’s taking away everything that is foundational of who we are.”

He also blasted Democrats for “embracing socialism,” and singled out freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., specifically for vowing to pay her staffers a living wage by lowering the salaries of senior staff.

“She’s really serious about it,” Meadows said. “Maybe she needs to put her money in there.”

Former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka said in his speech, “What is America’s biggest problem? Not socialism in Russia, but in America!”

CPAC will continue with appearances from South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Utah Sen. Mike Lee, and Georgia Sen. David Perdue.

Source: NewsMax

Alex Jones joins the Joe Rogan podcast for the first time since the internet beef went viral and the original podcast was the most popular podcast of all time. We also react to the conclusion of the Michael Cohen testimony and takes calls responding to it and the Rogan podcast as well.

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Kaitlin Bennett//Skype

Source: The War Room

FILE PHOTO: The President and CEO of Ford Motor Company Hackett poses with Volkswagen CEO Diess at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit
FILE PHOTO: The President and CEO of Ford Motor Company Jim Hackett, poses with Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Ben Klayman/File Photo

February 27, 2019

BERLIN (Reuters) – Volkswagen on Wednesday praised its cooperation with Ford and took pains to highlight its rival’s autonomous vehicles technology, as both carmakers explore deepening their partnership to include self-driving cars.

VW and Ford have agreed to develop a range of commercial vehicles together and explored cooperating on electric cars. VW has however so far resisted agreeing to invest in Ford’s autonomous vehicle unit.

“We are very happy joining forces on light commercial vehicles and we are exploring this further,” Volkswagen’s Chief Executive Herbert Diess said on Wednesday.

“Ford is one of the pioneers on autonomous, that is why we are talking to Ford.”

(Reporting by Nadine Schimroszik; Writing by Edward Taylor; Editing by Michelle Martin)

Source: OANN

Two African-American women clinched the top two spots in Chicago’s mayoral election Tuesday, meaning they will face each other in a runoff to become the Windy City’s first black female mayor.

Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle beat 12 other candidates — including William Daley, son of former Mayor Richard Daley — but neither grabbed more than 50 percent of the vote, meaning there will be a runoff in April to succeed outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

RAHM EMANUEL WARNS DEMS NOT TO ‘MIMIC’ TRUMP’S POLITICS

According to The Chicago Tribune, unofficial results showed Lightfoot with 17.5 percent, Preckwinkle with 16 percent and Daley with 14.7 percent. Chicago has had a female mayor before, and an African-American mayor, but never an African-American woman as a mayor.

"What do you think of us now?" Lightfoot told supporters Tuesday night. "This is what change looks like."

She later congratulated Preckwinkle for reaching the runoff: "No matter which one of us wins, Chicago will make history on April 2nd by electing the first Black woman mayor. It’s long overdue," she tweeted.

Lightfoot, a political outsider and the first openly gay woman to run for Chicago mayor, was the subject of an early apparent shot from Preckwinkle, a former City Council member and public school teacher, over her lack of political experience.

"It’s not enough to stand at a podium and talk about what you want to see happen," Preckwinkle said. "You have to come to this job with the capacity and the capability to make your vision a reality."

According to the Tribune, Lightfoot had positioned herself as the progressive voice against an entrenched Chicago political machine, while Preckwinkle pitched herself as someone with a track record of taking on powerful interests.

“We may not yet be at the finish line, but we should acknowledge that history is being made,” Preckwinkle said in Hyde Part, according to the Tribune. “It’s clear we’re at a defining moment in our city’s history, but the challenges that our city faces are not simply ideological. It’s not enough to say Chicago stands at a crossroads. We need to fight to change its course.”

Turnout was low, with The Associated Press reporting that by late afternoon turnout was around 27 percent of registered voters. The prior low was 33.8 percent in 2007.

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Lightfoot and Preckwinkle had both been critical of the city’s response to the 2014 police shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald. Emanuel’s popularity dropped after the release of video of McDonald’s shooting, and he eventually decided not to seek re-election.

The runoff will take place on April 2.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

FILE PHOTO: A EU flag is seen outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels
FILE PHOTO: A European Union flag is seen outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium November 14, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

February 27, 2019

By Francesco Guarascio

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union should set up a police force to investigate tax evasion and financial crime and create a watchdog to counter money-laundering, EU lawmakers said in a report on Wednesday, which accuses seven member states of acting as tax havens.

The report is the result of a year’s work by a committee of the EU Parliament, set up after a series of revelations of alleged financial crime in some EU states and in tax havens across the world, such as the Luxleaks and Panama Papers.

The committee concluded that not enough has been done by EU states to close loopholes on tax rules, as many governments showed a “lack of political will to tackle tax avoidance and financial crime.”

Under pressure from media revelations, EU states did approve some reforms in past years to reduce tax avoidance, but blocked the most relevant overhauls over a common tax base and a digital levy.

New loopholes have also emerged, such as the “cum/ex” tax trade trick revealed last year by Reuters and other media organizations.

The European Commission, led by former Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, shunned proposing a reform that could end governments’ veto power on tax matters.

The lack of appetite for reform is partly due to the fact that some of the 28 EU states “display traits of a tax haven and facilitate aggressive tax planning,” the report said, citing Luxembourg, Belgium, Cyprus, Hungary, Ireland, Malta and The Netherlands.

“Europe has a serious money-laundering and tax fraud problem,” said socialist lawmaker Jeppe Kofod, who took part in drafting the report.

The report was backed by the main parties in the European Parliament, including the conservatives and the socialists, and will be put to a vote of the whole assembly in coming weeks.

To counter cross-border tax evasion and financial crime, the committee recommended the European Commission immediately starts working on a proposal for a European financial police force with investigative powers.

The EU’s police agency Europol has limited powers and largely coordinates the work of national forces – when they are willing to cooperate.

The report, which is not binding but bears political weight, also called on EU states to set up a watchdog in charge of countering money-laundering in the bloc, after scandals at several EU banks in recent months.

States have so far ignored European Central Bank calls to create such a body, fearing the loss of national competences.

They have only agreed on a minor reform that would allow the European Banking Authority (EBA) to increase to a dozen the officials working on money-laundering, an overhaul the EBA’s incoming head deems insufficient.

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: President Trump hosts discussion with U.S. governors at the White House in Washington
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with U.S. governors at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Young

February 27, 2019

By Ginger Gibson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. House panel investigating President Donald Trump wants to depose Trump’s long-time tax lawyer Sheri Dillon, as well as Stefan Passantino, former deputy White House Counsel in charge of compliance and ethics, according to letters sent to both of them on Wednesday and seen by Reuters.

House of Representatives Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, a Democrat, said in the letters that the panel wants to ask about Trump’s legally mandated financial ethics disclosures.

The panel, the letters said, also seeks information about payments made before the 2016 presidential election by former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen to buy the silence of women who claimed they had affairs with the married Trump.

Neither Dillon nor Passantino responded immediately to requests for comment. The White House also did not immediately have a comment.

The letters, sent hours before Cohen was set to testify to the committee about his work for Trump, signals a widening of its investigation into Trump’s personal finances.

Dillon has a deep understanding of the president’s tax filings. Breaking with decades of presidential tradition, Trump has refused to make his tax returns public, leading other Democrats in Congress also to seek them. The letter did not indicate the committee would question Dillon about Trump’s tax returns.

The Cummings letters targets a 92-page ethics disclosure form that Trump filed in May 2018. It said he repaid Cohen in 2017 for a $130,000 payment made weeks before the November 2016 election to porn actress Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels, to silence her over an alleged sexual encounter with Trump in 2006.

A June 2017 disclosure filed by Trump did not list a debt owed to Cohen. Some critics of the president have said this omission amounted to filing a false report, a federal crime.

In the letters to Dillon and Passantino, Cummings wrote that interviews with them “will address issues related to President Donald Trump’s financial disclosure reporting and the reimbursement of Michael Cohen for payments to silence women alleging affairs before the 2016 election.”

He added that, to accommodate committee Republicans’ concerns, Dillon and Passantino would be able to provide “a first-hand account of your interactions with the Office of Government Ethics.”

Passantino’s signature appeared on the 2018 disclosure filing, confirming that he concluded Trump was “in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.”

Passantino, summoned to appear on March 18, is now a legal adviser to the Trump Organization, the president’s business.

Dillon, summoned to appear on March 19, is a partner at the law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. She detailed Trump’s business investments at a press conference in 2016 shortly after he was elected and would likely have helped prepare the ethics disclosure, which provides an account of his business holdings.

(Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman visits Gaza's Kerem Shalom crossing, the strip's main commercial border terminal
FILE PHOTO: Then-Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman visits Gaza’s Kerem Shalom crossing, the strip’s main commercial border terminal, July 22, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo

February 27, 2019

(Reuters) – The Palestinian Authority has rejected the first 2019 monthly tax transfer from Israel because it slashed the portion designated for financial support to families of militants who are jailed in Israel, a PA minister said.

The decision came despite increasing cash flow troubles, caused in part by U.S. aid cuts, that could destabilize the PA, an interim self-government body set up following the 1993 Oslo accords between the Palestinians and Israel.

Under the interim accords, Israel collects taxes on imports into the Israeli-occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, an enclave under Palestinian Islamist rule since 2007, and makes monthly transfers of the proceeds to the PA.

The tax transfers make up about half of the PA’s budget, according to Palestinian Finance Ministry data.

On Feb. 17, Israel announced a freeze on about 5 percent of that money affecting stipends the PA pays to families of Palestinian militants killed or jailed by Israel.

In response, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the PA itself would keep paying the stipends rather than accept a partial tax transfer.

“We have refused to receive the 700 million shekel ($194 million) transfer after Israel deducted 42 million shekels from it,” Hussein al-Sheikh, the PA minister of civil affairs, told Reuters regarding the monthly transfer.

The Israeli finance ministry declined to comment.

Some analysts see potential danger if PA financial troubles mount in the West Bank, where the Authority maintains security cooperation with Israel even as Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been stalled for years.

“Coupled with other de-funding measures, stability in the West Bank is being compromised in worrying ways,” said Tareq Baconi of the International Crisis Group think tank. But he said Israel may reverse its decision rather than risk a PA collapse.

Palestinian Finance Minister Shukri Bishara said last week the PA faced “difficult days” in the coming weeks, hinting it might have to cut the salaries of some civil servants.

Israel and the United States say the PA’s stipend policy fans Palestinian violence while the Palestinians see the slain and jailed Palestinians as heroes of a national struggle to end Israeli occupation and create an independent state.

The United States passed legislation last year to sharply reduce aid to the PA unless it stopped the pay-outs.

Washington has slashed hundreds of millions of dollars of funding to humanitarian organizations and U.N. agencies which aid the Palestinians as it seeks to pressure Abbas to enter peace negotiations with Israel.

(Reporting by Rami Ayyub and Ali Sawafta; Editing by Maayan Lubell and Mark Heinrich)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Zimbabweans queue outside a bank in Harare
FILE PHOTO: Zimbabweans queue outside a bank in Harare, Zimbabwe, February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo/File Photo

February 27, 2019

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s central bank has sold up to $20 million to banks for trading on a newly-launched forex interbank market, but the money could be exhausted by the end of next week due to high demand, banking sources said on Wednesday.

Zimbabweans had hoped the end of Robert Mugabe’s rule in 2017 after an army coup would change their economic fortunes, but have instead watched as a severe dollar crunch hobbles businesses and brings shortages of medicines, fuel and food.

Many anticipated walking into banks to buy U.S. dollars after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) scrapped a discredited 1:1 dollar peg for surrogate bond notes and electronic dollars last week, merging them into a lower-value transitional currency called the RTGS dollar.

But banks were under orders to restrict transactions to companies and individuals with foreign payments to make that would stimulate economic growth, according to a central bank directive seen by Reuters.

That, and the fact the exchange rate has remained stuck at around 2.5 RTGS to the dollar since the currency started trading on Friday, brought criticism from bankers and economists that it was not the monetary reform needed.

The central bank sold what it called “seed” U.S. dollars to a handful of banks on Friday, but RBZ governor John Mangudya and Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube have refused to say the amount.

“They sold between $15 and $20 million to the banks,” said one executive whose bank bought dollars from the RBZ.

“But that will be exhausted by the end of next week, and that is when reality will kick in.”

“WE WILL RUN OUT SOON”

Another executive at one of Zimbabwe’s three biggest banks confirmed the amount and added: “The problem is that there is huge demand, but no one is selling, so we will run out pretty soon.”

Dealers at banks said the reason sellers were not coming forward was because they wanted a higher rate for dollars.

On the black market, $1 bought 3.6 RTGS, unchanged from Tuesday. But dealers said the central bank was giving indications to the market that it did not want the official rate to move beyond 2.5 for now.

“You then ask yourself whether this is really a free float,” a dealer at a Harare bank said.

The central bank says it removed the 1:1 dollar peg to benefit exporters who previously surrendered a portion of their dollars at the official rate.

Exporters, including miners who earn the most dollars for the economy, can now sell part of their U.S. dollars at the 2.5 rate. But they can only keep dollars in local foreign currency accounts for 30 days, after which they are required to sell on the interbank market.

This, the central bank hopes, will create a ready pool of dollars for importers and the government.

But some analysts are skeptical, saying exporters should be allowed to keep all their dollars and only sell when they need to, if Zimbabwe is to attract foreign investment.

“This is not much of a currency reform. They just merged the RTGS (electronic dollars) and bond notes and devalued the exchange rate, but everything remains the same,” said Tony Hawkins, professor of business studies at the University of Zimbabwe.

In another sign of the acute dollar shortages, long queues resurfaced at petrol stations this week where fuel is supplied by government purchases in the U.S. currency.

(Writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Alexandra Zavis and Andrew Cawthorne)

Source: OANN

A T.J. Maxx store which is owned by TJX Cos Inc in Pasadena
A T.J. Maxx store which is owned by TJX Cos Inc in Pasadena, California U.S., May 15, 2017. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

February 27, 2019

(Reuters) – Off-price apparel retailer TJX Cos Inc reported better-than-expected quarterly same-store sales on Wednesday, as steep discounts drove more shoppers to its T.J. Maxx and Marshalls stores during the holiday season.

TJX reported a 6 percent rise in comparable-store sales, beating analysts’ average estimate of a 3.54 percent rise, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Net sales rose to $11.13 billion from $10.96 billion.

(Reporting by Soundarya J in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

Source: OANN

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess address a news conference in Berlin
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess address a news conference in Berlin, Germany February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

February 27, 2019

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Volkswagen said on Wednesday it had struck a deal with Microsoft to cooperate on cloud computing in China and the United States, as part of its drive to offer connected vehicle services across the globe.

By allowing vehicles to tap Microsoft’s remote computer processors via the so-called cloud, Volkswagen can offer its customers personalized on-board media streaming, and make suggestions for parking and charging.

Volkswagen will use its Automotive Cloud as the core of its vehicle and service data operations for its new ID electric cars which are due to hit showrooms in 2020, the carmaker said.

(Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Mark Potter)

Source: OANN

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former attorney, testifies before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday, and is expected to accuse the commander-in-chief of knowing his long-time adviser Roger Stone was reaching out to WikiLeaks about the publication of stolen Democratic National Committee emails.

Cohen, who released his prepared opening statement ahead of his House hearing, apparently will not claim Trump directed those communications.

READ: MICHAEL COHEN’S PREPARED OPENING STATEMENT BEFORE HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE

"Questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia," Cohen will testify. "I do not. I want to be clear. But, I have my suspicions."

Trump, who is in Hanoi, Vietnam, for his second meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, tweeted that Cohen was "lying in order to reduce his prison time."

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Cohen was disbarred in New York on Tuesday – the same day he testified behind closed doors before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He is slated to report to prison next month to serve three years time.

Fox News’s Gregg Re contributed to this report.

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Source: Fox News Politics

People shop for tomatoes in the family owned farm
People shop for tomatoes in the family owned farm “Kligeni” in Cesis August 22, 2014. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

February 27, 2019

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada’s annual inflation rate in January was 1.4 percent, down from a 2.0 percent increase in December, as energy costs declined and growth in the price of services slowed, Statistics Canada data indicated on Wednesday.

Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast the rate would be 1.5 percent. The step back from the Bank of Canada’s 2.0 percent target underscores market expectations that imminent interest rate hikes are off the table.

The Bank of Canada has raised rates five times since July 2017, though Governor Stephen Poloz indicated last week that while interest rates need to move up into a neutral range, he was in no rush to resume monetary tightening.

Energy costs declined 6.9 percent in January compared to the previous year, driven by a 14.2 percent fall in gasoline prices.

Service costs were up 2.7 percent, though down from 3.5 percent in December as transitory pressures eased, Statistics Canada said.

The Bank of Canada’s three core inflation measures were unchanged, with CPI common, which the bank says is the best gauge of the economy’s underperformance, at 1.9 percent.

(Reporting by Julie Gordon and Dale Smith in Ottawa; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Source: OANN

David Hookstead | Reporter

The Alliance of American Football has continued its trend of strong TV ratings.

According to SportsTVRatings Tuesday, the AAF games over the past weekend on the NFL Network for week three got just more than a million viewers. As pointed out by Awful Announcing, the games on Saturday and Sunday saw jumps of 16 percent and 21 percent from week two of the league.

The AAF has certainly had some problems off of the field. There have been payroll issues, a lawsuit and poroblems with where the team in Florida can practice. (RELATED: San Diego Fleet Quarterback Phillip Nelson Completes No-Look Heave Of A Pass)

It hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing at all times.

However, the TV numbers have been solid from the jump. The debut weekend on CBS got more than three million viewers and beat a nationally televised NBA game.

If you’re an executive, player or coach in the league right now, then you have to be happy with the TV ratings. The NFL Network isn’t ever going to draw the same numbers as normal broadcast television, but putting up more than a million viewers over a weekend is very strong.

Plus, the numbers keep going up. Not only are they strong, but they continue to trend in the correct direction. I think the AAF is here to stay for a long time.

Follow David Hookstead on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: The logo of German pharmaceuticals company Merck is seen at the company's headquarters in Darmstadt
FILE PHOTO: The logo of German pharmaceuticals company Merck is seen at the company’s headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany, May 16, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

February 27, 2019

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Drugs and lab supplies maker Merck KGaA is offering to buy Versum Materials in a cash deal valuing it at $5.9 billion including debt, pitting the German group against Entegris which last month also bid for the electronic materials maker.

Merck on Wednesday said it proposes to acquire Versum for $48 per share, a premium of 16 percent to Tuesdays’s closing price and of 52 percent to the share price before Entegris’ offer.

Merck added that it was prepared to proceed immediately to due diligence and to quickly agree to a merger agreement, adding that it did not need its own shareholders to approve a such deal.

(Reporting by Arno Schuetze, editing by Riham Alkousaa)

Source: OANN

Derek Hunter | Contributor

On the show Wednesday, we get into all the news of the day — the North Korea summit, Michael Cohen drama, Sen. Cory Booker declares the American Dream dead, a Democrat compares Border Patrol to Nazis, Louie Gohmert rocks, and men make the strongest women. We get to all if it on today’s show.

Listen to the show:

The public hearing in Congress today featuring Michael Cohen, a former lawyer for President Donald Trump facing a long prison term for lying to investigators and tax evasion, promises to have some fireworks. Democrats are looking to embarrass the president while he’s overseas and Congressman Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, is hinting that he’s going to ask about Cohen’s faithfulness to his wife. It’s going to be quite a show either way.

The House voted to override the president’s national emergency declaration on the southern border, soon the Senate will likely follow suit. None of it matters, it’s not going to change anything because the president will veto it and Congress doesn’t have the vote to override that veto. It’s all a show.

New Jersey Sen. and Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker thinks the American Dream is dead, that the United States is not the place you want to be born if you aren’t born rich because people can no longer get ahead. The fix, he says, is of course more government programs.

Democratic Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon of Pennsylvania compared U.S. Border Patrol to Nazis because reality doesn’t matter anymore to the left. We have the audio.

Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert highlighted the hypocrisy of Democrats when, at a hearing on climate change, what they say is the most important issue in all of human history, only 2 Democrats bothered to show up. Gohmert used House rules to call for the meeting to be adjourned immediately after it began and carried the vote. The audio is hilarious, you have to hear it to believe it.

There is a force dominating women’s sports in colleges and high schools across the country. That force is men. You’d think the “party of science” wouldn’t be rejecting biology like they are.

Help spread the word about The Daily Daily Caller Podcast. Please take a minute to rate and review on iTunes, share on social media and be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode:

The Daily Daily Caller Podcast is a daily look and mocking of the news from a conservative perspective. Hosted by Derek Hunter, it is available in audio form Monday-Thursday and will have a video option on Fridays.

Derek Hunter is a columnist and contributing editor for The Daily Caller and author of “Outrage, INC: How the Liberal Mob Ruined Science, Journalism, and Hollywood” from HarperCollins, availablenowPick Up a copy, or several copies, here. Send compliments and complaints to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @derekahunter.

Source: The Daily Caller

French President Emmanuel Macron meets his Iraqi counterpart Barham Salih in Paris
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, February 25, 2019. Christophe Ena/Pool via REUTERS

February 27, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday that there could only be an agreement for an extension to the Brexit Article 50 negotiation period if justified by Britain and if there were clear objectives.

“We would support an extension request only if it was justified by a new choice of the British,” Macron said at a joint news briefing held with German leader Angela Merkel.

“But we would in no way accept an extension without a clear objective,” he added.

(Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: ATP 500 - Dubai Tennis Championships
FILE PHOTO: Tennis – ATP 500 – Dubai Tennis Championships – Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, Dubai, United Arab Emirates – February 26, 2019 Japan’s Kei Nishikori in action during his first round match against Benoit Paire of France REUTERS/Christopher Pike

February 27, 2019

(Reuters) – Polish qualifier Hubert Hurkacz stunned top seed Kei Nishikori 7-5 5-7 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Wednesday.

Hurkacz converted six out of seven break points to beat his Japanese opponent in a little over two hours. The world number 77 faces Stefanos Tsitsipas or Egor Gerasimov next.

World number 113 Ricardas Berankis, who stunned eighth seed Daniil Medvedev on Tuesday, continued his fine form with a 6-4 6-1 victory over American Denis Kudla.

The Lithuanian qualifier will face Gael Monfils or Marcos Baghdatis in the last eight.

Roger Federer, who is searching for a 100th ATP title, will meet Spaniard Fernando Verdasco later on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

Source: OANN

David Hookstead | Reporter

Dallas Cowboys star Randy Gregory has been suspended from the league indefinitely.

According to Ian Rapoport Tuesday afternoon, the talented defensive end was suspended for “violating the Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse and the terms of his conditional reinstatement.” Gregory has previously had multiple issues with the league’s substance abuse policy, which resulted in multiple suspensions. (RELATED: The Story Of How A Dallas Cowboys Star Got Put In Rehab Sounds Straight Out Of A Movie)

This is just jarring. It really looked like Gregory had turned his life around, and was cruising down the right path with the Cowboys.

There was even a huge profile on the NFL star and how he was able to beat his previous issues.

Now, he’s been hit with another massive suspension. After missing the entire 2017 season, he could easily end up with the same fate for the 2019 year.

I know that substance abuse is a lot more than just putting down whatever you’re consuming, but I’ll never understand how athletes with so much on the line just can’t seem to get it figured out.

Gregory balled out this past season. It looked like he was finally where he belongs, and now he’s been sidelined again for an unknown amount of time.

He really needs to get his life figured out before he worries about returning to the Cowboys. If he can’t figure out what’s going on in his personal day-to-day life, then football isn’t going to be a focus of his at all.

I really hope Gregory gets everything on the correct track because he’s far too talented to not be playing.

Follow David Hookstead on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

A view of the sign outside the Lowes store in Westminster
A view of the sign outside the Lowes store in Westminster, Colorado February 26, 2014. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

February 27, 2019

(Reuters) – U.S. home improvement chain Lowe’s Companies Inc missed Wall Street forecasts for same-store sales on Wednesday, citing poor performance in Canada.

The results follow disappointing numbers from larger rival Home Depot on Tuesday on the back of a cold and wet winter.

Since taking over in July last year, Lowe’s Chief Executive Marvin Ellison has shrunk its struggling Canadian business to less than 300 stores in efforts to boost earnings.

The moves led Lowe’s to record a pre-tax expense of $150 million during the fourth quarter to account for severance and lease obligation costs.

“We anticipate continued weakness in the Canadian housing market in the near-term, but remain confident in our market position in Canada and the long-term potential of that business,” Ellison said in a statement.

The company maintained its sales and earnings projections for 2019.

Sales at Lowe’s stores open for at least 13 months rose 1.7 percent in the fourth quarter ended Feb. 1, below analysts’ average estimate of a 2.03 percent increase, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

It reported a net loss of $824 million, compared with a profit of $554 million a year earlier. Lowe’s recorded $1.6 billion in pre-tax charges, reflecting store closures across North America.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned 80 cents per share, 1 cent more than Wall Street analysts had expected.

Net sales overall rose about 1 percent to $15.65 billion, but missed expectations of $15.74 billion.

(Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)

Source: OANN

David Hookstead | Reporter

Zion Williamson’s absence from Duke’s lineup was felt Tuesday night in a 77-72 loss to Virginia Tech.

The freshman phenom missed his second straight game with a sprained knee after hurting himself at the start of the UNC game.

Since his injury, the Blue Devils are 1-2 without Williamson playing. They lost to UNC after he got hurt, beat Syracuse and then lost to the Hokies last night. (RELATED: Nearly 3 Million People Tuned In For Duke’s Win Over Syracuse)

They’re simply not the same team without him playing, and it’s clear as day to anybody with eyes.

If you’re a fan of Duke, you have to be concerned right now. When Zion is playing, Coach K’s squad looks damn near unbeatable.

However, they look more than human with him on the bench with a sprained knee. They better hope like hell he’s back for the tournament because they simply don’t look like a championship team without him.

That might sound harsh, but it’s the truth. They got rocked by UNC after he went down, and VT handled them for large portions of Tuesday night. It wasn’t pretty.

If you’re a fan of the Duke Blue Devils, then I suggest hitting the panic button. They’re in the tournament no matter what at this point, but they could be bound for an early exit if Zion Williamson isn’t on the floor in March.

Follow David Hookstead on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

Amber Athey | White House Correspondent

First daughter and presidential adviser Ivanka Trump criticized Yahoo on Wednesday for a headline suggesting that she does not support a minimum wage.

Yahoo published a story claiming that Trump challenged “Ocasio-Cortez’s minimum wage platform” by saying “people want to work for what they get.”

“No I did not,” Trump tweeted in response. “I do not however believe in a minimum wage guarantee for people ‘unwilling to work’ which was the question asked of me.”

In a preview of an interview with Fox News host Steve Hilton set to air Sunday, Trump specifically attacked a proposal laid out in a FAQ sheet on New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal that guarantees a living wage for people “unwilling to work.” (RELATED: Ivanka Trump Rips Into Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal)

“So, I think that this idea of a guaranteed minimum is not something most people want,” Trump explained. “They want the ability to be able to secure a job. They want the ability to live in a country where’s there’s the potential for upward mobility.”

In response to the misleading Yahoo article, Trump also touted her work on “economic growth via workforce development and skills training.” Trump has also been a staunch proponent of paid family leave policies.

Follow Amber on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

Jhenny Andrade rocked Instagram late Tuesday night.

Andrade, who is from Brazil, posted a photo of herself in an incredibly revealing outfit for her fans to enjoy. (SLIDESHOW: These Women On Instagram Hate Wearing Clothes)

Just how spicy is this photo? Well, her outfit doesn’t exactly cover up a whole lot. (SLIDESHOW: 142 Times Josephine Skriver Barely Wore Anything)

You’ll know exactly what I mean when you take a look below. Enjoy! (SLIDESHOW: 71 Times Samantha Hoopes Stripped Down)

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You can always count on Andrade to just casually drop some fire like it’s no big deal at all, which is exactly what she did here. (SLIDESHOW: This Blonde Bombshell Might Be The Hottest Model On The Internet)

Take a look at a few more examples if you don’t believe my assessment of her skills. (SLIDESHOW: 60 Times Abigail Ratchford Wore Almost Nothing)

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Source: The Daily Caller

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after shaking hands before their one-on-one chat during the second U.S.-North Korea summit at the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

February 27, 2019

By John Geddie and Miral Fahmy

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump were at pains to show they were getting along in the well-choreographed first moments of their meeting in Hanoi, body language experts said.

The first images of their meeting in the Vietnamese capital showed them both walking towards each other against a backdrop of intertwined flags hands outstretched, before they clasped and turned in sync to face the flashes of the assembled media.

“They are both making an effort to show their relationship has improved since the last time,” said Allan Pease, an Australian body language expert and author of several books on the topic. “The mirroring between them is quite strong.”

Pease said “mirroring” was how people who want to show that they have a rapport imitate each other’s body language to put the other at ease.

Both of the leaders sought to project a sense of command with “alpha male” handshakes when they met in Singapore eight months ago, but displayed some anxiety in their first moments.

Trump has since declared he and Kim “fell in love” after exchanging letters, a far cry from the threats and insults traded in late 2017 when Trump called Kim “Little Rocket Man” and a “sick puppy”, while Kim said Trump was a “dotard” – an archaic word meaning senile old person. Trump, 72, is more than twice the age of Kim, 35.

Kim looked far more confident compared to their last meeting in Singapore, while Trump welcomed Kim with his palm facing up – a sign, said body language expert Karen Leong, that was almost supplicatory.

“Kim was walking towards Trump far more briskly with his hand extended. Previously in Singapore, Kim was far more hesitant. There is much more sense of familiarity,” said Leong, managing director of Singapore-headquartered Influence Solutions and author of the book “Win People Over”.

“Trump wants the rapport. He is not here to become the bully, he is here to win Kim.”

There were signs of tension, however, when the two men sat down after the initial handshake.

Pease noted Trump – sitting in his traditional, dominant position with hands forward making a steeple shape – furrowed his brow. Kim’s fingers were clenched in his lap, a position that shows frustration and self-control.

“They both smiled only when they were expected to, and how they practised it. They were performing,” he added.

The summit in Singapore marked the first time a sitting American president met with a North Korean leader, but the vague agreement struck to work towards complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula has produced few concrete results.

(Reporting by John Geddie, Aradhana Aravindan, Karishma Singh and Miral Fahmy in SINGAPORE and Joyce Lee in SEOUL; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Source: OANN

David Hookstead | Reporter

The Wisconsin Badgers fell to Indiana 75-73 Tuesday night in a Big 10 thriller that went to three overtimes.

As you all know, I told people I was insanely nervous for the game in Assembly Hall. Indiana might be having a down year, but they have the talent to hang with anybody. I knew we could run into some serious issues on the road in Bloomington. Well, it turns out I was correct.

However, we have nobody but ourselves to blame for the loss. Our free throw shooting down the stretch was simply atrocious. We shot 13-25 from the line, and that’s simply not acceptable if you want to win as a powerhouse program. One free throw is the difference between a win and a loss last night. Just one, and we couldn’t get it. (RELATED: Wisconsin Beats Nebraska 62-51, Khalil Iverson Throws Down Another Monster Dunk)

It also didn’t help that Brad Davison played one of the worst games that I’ve ever seen from him since arriving in town. It was atrocious. All players are bound to have a bad game from time to time, but it’s never a good sign when it’s one of the star players.

The question now is where we go from here. We’re sitting at 19-9 with games against Penn State, Iowa and Ohio State left. In a perfect world, we’d win all three of them.

At the very least, we can only lose one. There’s no excuse for losing anymore than that, and I’m being generous by even suggesting one loss would be something we could swallow.

Last night broke our spirit, and now it’s time to get it back together. We fought for three overtimes. While that’s admirable, it should never have even come to that.

It’s time to dissect what happened this morning, and then immediately get to work on our final three regular season games.

We’re the Wisconsin Badgers. We won’t let one loss keep us down for long. We’ll learn from it and rebuild. I’ll see you in March, and we’ll be dangerous. Count on that, my friends.

P.S.: We have got to stop starting games so late. It was midnight by the time I got to bed last night. Props to me for not missing a second of the game, but these late starts are getting absurd.

Follow David Hookstead on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

Traders work on the floor of the NYSE in New York
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

February 27, 2019

By Shreyashi Sanyal

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures edged lower on Wednesday, mirroring global markets, as the second U.S.-North Korean nuclear summit kicked off and fresh hostilities erupted between nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump met in Hanoi, with the U.S. president saying he was not walking back on U.S. demands for North Korea’s denuclearization.

Pakistan said on Wednesday it shot down two Indian fighter jets, a day after Indian warplanes struck inside Pakistan for the first time since a war in 1971, prompting several world powers to urge both sides to show restraint.

“Tension between India and Pakistan is weighing on markets this morning ahead of a very busy day of events,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

“We don’t expect (Federal Reserve Chair Jerome) Powell’s second round of testimony before the U.S. House Financial Committee to change, thereby keeping the focus on geopolitical worries and the Trump-Kim summit that will likely lead to a mixed market session.”

Powell said on Tuesday that the Fed was in “no rush to make a judgment” about further changes to interest rates and that rising risks and recent soft data should not prevent solid growth for the U.S. economy this year.

The Fed’s dovish signals and optimism around China-U.S. trade talks have boosted equities in recent weeks, pushing the benchmark S&P 500 index to within roughly 5 percent of its record closing high hit in late September.

At 7:23 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 64 points, or 0.25 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were down 6 points, or 0.21 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 14.5 points, or 0.2 percent.

Among stocks, shares of Mylan NV sank 9.9 percent in premarket trading after the generic drugmaker reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit and forecast weak 2019 earnings, as it grappled with significant problems at its Morgantown, West Virginia plant.

Best Buy Co Inc jumped 11 percent after the consumer electronics retailer beat analysts’ estimates for quarterly same-store sales on demand for wearable devices, gaming consoles and appliances during the holiday quarter.

Lowe’s Companies Inc rose 2.4 percent after the U.S. home improvement chain’s fourth-quarter profit beat market expectations.

The Commerce Department will release its report on December factory goods orders at 10:00 a.m. ET, likely showing a 0.5 percent rise, compared with an unexpected fall in November.

(Reporting by Shreyashi and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Susan Matthew; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

Source: OANN

The logo and ticker for Campbell Soup Co. are displayed on a screen on the floor of the NYSE in New York
The logo and ticker for Campbell Soup Co. are displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

February 27, 2019

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Campbell Soup Co on Wednesday reported a quarterly loss, hurt by impairment charges of $346 million for its struggling fresh food business.

Camden, New Jersey-based Campbell said net sales rose about 24 percent to $2.71 billion in the second quarter ended Jan. 27, helped by the acquisitions of Snyder’s-Lance and Pacific Foods.

(Reporting by Richa Naidu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Source: OANN

Election campaign chief Thohir, talks during a media briefing in Jakarta
Chief of Indonesia’s presidential election campaign for Joko Widodo, Erick Thohir, talks during a media briefing in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

February 27, 2019

By Ed Davies

JAKARTA (Reuters) – The head of Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s re-election campaign said on Wednesday supporters should not be complacent over the incumbent’s lead in opinion polls, given the high number of undecided voters and threat of fake news.

Widodo enjoys a double-digit lead in most opinion polls over retired general Prabowo Subianto ahead of the April 17 election, which is a repeat of the bitterly fought race in 2014.

“Right now we need to focus on undecided voters,” said Erick Thohir, a billionaire businessman picked as campaign chief after he organized the Asian Games hosted by Indonesia last year.Speaking to a group of foreign journalists, Thohir put the number of undecided voters at 12 to 15 percent of the electorate in the world’s third-biggest democracy.

Thohir, who controls media and entertainment assets along with stakes in soccer and basketball clubs around the world, said many of the undecided were young and first-time voters.

Widodo was polling well in the most populous island of Java, and gaining ground in battleground provinces such as West Java and Banten where he struggled in 2014, Thohir said.

“We’re still confident in West Java we can win,” he said, but he added the campaign was struggling in parts of Sumatra island, including West Sumatra and Aceh.

Thohir said it was important not to underestimate the impact of fake news, often circulated on social media, and said the campaign had learned from the 2016 U.S. elections that there was a need to push back in these situations.

“This is why … when there is fake news we need to make a strong statement,” he said.

Indonesian election watchdogs have reported a spike in fake news during the campaign amid concerns about the impact in a country of avid social media users.

“Mr Jokowi is one of the victims in the last few years,” said Thohir, referring to the president’s nickname.

Widodo has been falsely accused in rumors often spread online of being Christian, having Chinese ancestry or being a communist.

All are sensitive accusations in the Muslim-majority country where the communist party is banned and suspicions linger over the wealth of its ethnic Chinese community and the influence of Beijing.

The two main presidential campaigns have promised to run a clean race.

Thohir, 48, who has been touted as a potential future minister, said he would not seek a cabinet job if Widodo won and looked forward “to going back to reality” as a businessman after the election.

(Editing by Darren Schuettler)

Source: OANN

Cardinal George Pell arrives at County Court in Melbourne
Cardinal George Pell arrives at County Court in Melbourne, Australia, February 27, 2019. AAP Image/David Crosling/via REUTERS

February 27, 2019

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican is opening its own investigation into accusations against Cardinal George Pell, who was found guilty of sexual abuse of minors in his native Australia, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

The move means that Pell, who maintains his innocence and plans to appeal the verdict, could be dismissed from the priesthood if the Vatican’s doctrinal department also finds him guilty.

The Pell conviction has been particularly embarrassing for the Vatican and Pope Francis, coming just two days after the end of a major meeting of Church leaders on how to better tackle the abuse of children by clergy.

The 77-year-old Pell, a former top Vatican official, will spend his first night behind bars on Wednesday after he was remanded in custody pending sentencing for sexually abusing two choir boys in Australia two decades ago. [nL1N20L2CX]

“After the guilty verdict in the first instance concerning Cardinal Pell, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) will now handle the case following the procedure and within the time established by canonical norm,” Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said.

He did not elaborate about the timing or the procedure. The investigation could lead to a full trial or an abbreviated “administrative process”, a Vatican source said.

VATICAN FINANCES

Gisotti also confirmed that Pell was no longer head of the Secretariat for the Economy, where he oversaw the Vatican’s finances. Pell’s five-year term in the post expired several days ago and the pope has not yet named a successor.

Pell, the most senior Catholic cleric to be convicted for child sex offences, was found guilty in December of five charges related to the abuse of the 13-year-old boys while he was Archbishop of Melbourne in the 1990s.

Pell’s guilty verdict was revealed in Australia on Tuesday after a court suppression order was dropped. He will be sentenced on March 13.

Last month, a CDF “administrative process” found Theodore McCarrick, a former cardinal who served as archbishop of Washington, D.C,, guilty of sexual abuse of minors and adults.

McCarrick, who resigned as cardinal last year when the accusations first surfaced and were deemed credible by U.S. Church investigators, was dismissed from the priesthood.

McCarrick became the first cardinal to step down in a century and the highest-profile Catholic figure to be defrocked over sexual abuse.

While McCarrick’s case began and ended in Church tribunals, the Vatican investigation of Pell unusually follows a conviction in a civil court.

The Vatican procedure could choose to use information from the Australian court, Vatican sources said.

One source added that it was unusual because the Vatican had announced its own investigation into Pell before the appeals case in Australia.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Catherine Evans and Gareth Jones)

Source: OANN

Michael Cohen has been disbarred in New York, with a court ruling that President Trump’s former lawyer’s guilty plea in Robert Mueller’s investigation automatically stripped him of his eligibility to practice law.

The court’s decision Tuesday came while he was on Capitol Hill, testifying behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee. He plans to testify in an open House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday.

COHEN TO ACCUSE TRUMP OF KNOWING ABOUT ROGER STONE-WIKILEAKS PLOT, BUT DENY ‘DIRECT EVIDENCE’ OF RUSSIA COLLUSION

Neither a spokesperson for Cohen nor for the New York Courts responded to Fox News’ request for comment on the decision.

Cohen, in November, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a Trump real estate project in Russia as part of Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates.

The guilty plea was related directly to his August 2017 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee about a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, giving lawmakers a “false” description of the Moscow Project. Cohen also testified, at the time, that all communications with Russia regarding the project ended in January 2016, prior to the Iowa Caucuses—the first contest in the presidential race—but later admitted communications continued through June 2016 when Trump became the Republican nominee.

Cohen is slated to report to prison next month to serve three years time.

MICHAEL COHEN SPECTACLE OVERSHADOWS KOREA SUMMIT

Trump slammed Cohen on Tuesday, saying he was “lying” as part of the investigation to reduce his allotted prison time.

“Michael Cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately). He had other clients also. He was just disbarred by the State Supreme Court for lying & fraud. He did bad things unrelated to Trump. He is lying in order to reduce his prison time. Using Crooked’s lawyer!” Trump tweeted, noting that Cohen was represented by longtime Clinton ally Lanny Davis.

Cohen has been under criminal investigation as part of a grand jury probe into his personal business dealings, including his tax business and bank fraud, since April, when the FBI raided his home, office, and hotel room to seize a collection of documents as part of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York’s criminal probe.

In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to five counts of tax evasion, one count of making false statements to a financial institution, one count of willfully causing an unlawful corporate contribution, and one count of making an excessive campaign contribution. The excessive campaign contribution was regarding the $130,000 payment made to Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election in exchange for her silence about an alleged one-time sexual encounter with Trump.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Trump denied in April that he knew anything about Cohen’s payments to Daniels, though the explanations from the president and his attorney Rudy Giuliani have shifted several times.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Source: Fox News Politics

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Standard Chartered is displayed at its main branch in Hong Kong
FILE PHOTO: A logo of Standard Chartered is displayed at its main branch in Hong Kong, China August 1, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

February 27, 2019

By Lawrence White

LONDON (Reuters) – Standard Chartered is targeting more trade-focused business from Chinese companies by hiring around 15 bankers worldwide, a source familiar with the plans told Reuters.

The move forms part of a broader StanChart strategy announced on Tuesday to boost profits in its corporate and institutional banking division by focusing on its network of 63 countries, mainly in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The London-based bank is pursuing the plan despite trade tensions between the United States and China and the new Chinese-speaking hires will be based in countries including Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Uganda and the United Arab Emirates, the source said on Wednesday.

They will work in StanChart’s Global Subsidiaries team to bank Chinese companies with business in those markets.

StanChart Chief Executive Bill Winters said a network was vital to financing trade and investment between regions, after analysts questioned why it remains in markets such as Indonesia and Korea where returns have been weak for years.

Around 20 of its 63 markets are delivering substandard returns, Winters said, but maintaining a presence in them is worthwhile for the ability to help global companies expand, invest and trade in those countries.

The corporate banking unit added more than 6,400 customers last year and ‘network’ income from firms operating outside their home market grew to 70 percent of the investment banking division’s total income, head of that division Simon Cooper told staff in a memo seen by Reuters.

The bank’s emerging markets and trade-focused business model has been hit hard in recent years by rising Sino-U.S. trade tensions and slowing growth in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, but Cooper said the bank will keep pursuing its strategy.

“We’ve talked a lot about trade tensions recently and they continue to be a concern. However, we might see some new winners emerge: Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand have great potential to capitalize on the shifting trade landscape,” he said in the memo to around 12, 000 staff in the investment bank.

The new China bankers, which will also include hires in Pakistan and Britain, will help grow the bank’s business with Chinese companies that are expanding globally, the source said.

(Reporting by Lawrence White; Editing by Alexander Smith)

Source: OANN

The sign of a Best Buy store in Pasadena
The sign of a Best Buy store in Pasadena, California U.S., February 28, 2017. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

February 27, 2019

(Reuters) – Best Buy Co Inc beat Wall Street estimates for fourth-quarter same-store sales on Wednesday as the biggest U.S. consumer electronics retailer sold more wearable devices, gaming consoles and appliances during the holiday quarter.

The company’s shares were up 11 percent in early trading.

Best Buy’s domestic comparable sales rose 3 percent in the three months ended Feb. 2. Analysts on average had expected a 2.03 percent rise, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Total revenue fell 3.7 percent to $14.80 billion, as the year-ago quarter had an extra week, but still beat expectations of $14.70 billion.

(Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - Australian Open - Fourth Round
FILE PHOTO: Tennis – Australian Open – Fourth Round – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, January 20, 2019. Croatia’s Marin Cilic gestures during the match against Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut. REUTERS/Aly Song

February 27, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – Marin Cilic will return to defend his Queen’s Club title this year while Australian Open semi-finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas will play in the tournament for the first time, the organizers said on Wednesday.

Former U.S. Open champion Cilic, who beat Novak Djokovic for the title last year, will once again use the tournament to fine-tune his preparation for Wimbledon.

“Winning the (title) last year was one of the highlights of my career,” Cilic, who also triumphed in 2012, said in a statement.

“It was a close final and fightback against Novak and came after I was narrowly beaten by Feliciano Lopez in the final a year earlier.

“I have always loved playing at the Queen’s Club, and it will be a special feeling to try to defend my title in 2019.”

Tsitsipas, who stunned 20-times Grand Slam champion Roger Federer at last month’s Australian Open, will make his debut in the grass court tournament.

“I’ve heard so much about this club, so many great champions have lifted the trophy over more than 100 years, and I am looking forward to having my own chance to compete on grass for the title in June,” last week’s Marseille Open winner Tsitsipas said.

(Writing by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ossian Shine)

Source: OANN

Saagar Enjeti | White House Correspondent

President Donald Trump kicked off his second summit Wednesday evening local time with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Trump kicked off the summit in similar fashion with a ceremonial handshake between the two leaders. Trump briefly took questions while shaking the North Korean leader’s hand, saying of the summit, “I think it’ll be very successful” and that the two leaders have “a great relationship.”

The president was asked whether he would officially declare an end to the Korean War to which he replied, “we’ll see” and reaffirmed his commitment to making the goal of the summit denuclearization on the Korean peninsula.

Shortly afterwards, the two leaders were seen by reporters again seated across from each other with respective translators, when Kim Jong Un spoke for the first time. The North Korean leader expressed optimism about the summit’s beginning and some regret for “misunderstandings” in the interim 251 days since they last met in Singapore. He added that “a lot of patience was needed.”  (RELATED: Here’s What Trump, Kim Jong Un Agreed Upon At Summit)

The president then noted his hope that the second summit would be more successful than the first and emphasized a point that he will likely raise time and time again during the summit; that North Korea has “tremendous economic potential” if it agrees to denuclearize.

Trump and Kim Jong Un were scheduled only for a 20-minute initial 1-on-1 meeting. After they will be joining an expanded bi-lateral working dinner, which is scheduled to last 90 minutes. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Monday that Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will accompany the president.

The summit between the two leaders will then continue Thursday, though the White House has not yet released any other details. Trump mentioned briefly at the end of his second session with Kim Jong Un that a news conference would take place at the end, just as he did in Singapore.

Trump will seek to build upon his June 2018 summit with the North Korean leader where the two countries signed a memorandum agreeing in principle to begin a denuclearization process. The previous summit’s main achievement was securing a cooling period in tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, which ratcheted up early in Trump’s presidential term.

White House officials say the president will now seek to secure some sort of concrete commitment from the North Korean government to begin a denuclearization process. Trump’s pitch to Kim Jong Un is that by agreeing to denuclearization the young leader can usher in a new extraordinary period of economic prosperity.

North Korea’s economy is currently hampered by some of the most strict international sanctions in the world, hindering its ability to trade in international markets and subjecting the country to an effective blockade from the community of nations.

Source: The Daily Caller

A handout photo of a FedEx SameDay bot, an autonomous same-day delivery robot which will be tested this summer in Memphis and other cities
A FedEx SameDay bot, which will be tested this summer by FedEx and partners such as Pizza Hut, Target and Walmart for same-day delivery in some cities including Memphis, Tennesse, U.S., is shown in this handout photo provided February 26, 2019. Courtesy FedEx/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY NO RESALES, NO ARCHIVE

February 27, 2019

By Lisa Baertlein

(Reuters) – FedEx Corp this summer plans to begin testing a robot to handle home deliveries for partners ranging from Walmart Inc to Pizza Hut.

Shippers, retailers and restaurants are experimenting with robots, drones and self-driving cars in a bid to use automation to drive down the high cost of delivering gadgets, groceries and even cups of coffee the “last mile” to consumer doorsteps.

FedEx is teaming up with DEKA Development & Research Corp, whose founder Dean Kamen invented the Segway stand-up scooter and iBot stair-climbing wheelchair, for its project. The delivery company said the robots could become part of its SameDay service that operates in 1,900 cities around the world.

The battery-powered robots look like coolers on wheels. Cameras and software help them detect and avoid obstacles as they roam sidewalks and roadways at a top speed of 10 miles (16 km) per hour.

The project must win approval in test cities, including the shipper’s hometown of Memphis, and the first deliveries will be between FedEx office stores.

On average, more than 60 percent of merchants’ customers live within three miles of a store location. FedEx said it is working with its partners, which also include AutoZone Inc and Target Corp, to determine if autonomous delivery to them is a viable option for fast, cheap deliveries.

The “last mile” to the home accounts for 50 percent or more of total package delivery costs. Restaurants pay third-party delivery companies like Uber Eats, DoorDash and GrubHub commissions of 10-30 percent per order.

Investors and companies are pouring millions of dollars into projects aimed at lowering those costs and overcoming regulatory hurdles. For safety reasons, many states want autonomous vehicles to have humans as emergency backup drivers.

Starship Technologies, which has raised more than $40 million in venture funding, last year deployed robots to deliver packages in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In January, it teamed up with French food service company Sodexo to take Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Blaze Pizza orders to the 40,000 students at George Mason University’s Fairfax, Virginia, campus. That service costs $1.99 per order.

Amazon.com is testing its own delivery robot dubbed “Scout”.

FedEx rival United Parcel Service Inc is not testing robots – but like FedEx and Amazon, it is experimenting with drone deliveries.

Other tests include tie-ups between grocery seller Kroger Co and self-driving car startup Nuro, as well as DoorDash and General Motors Co’s Cruise Automation.

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Middle East summit in Warsaw
FILE PHOTO: White House advisers Jared Kushner looks on during the Middle East summit in Warsaw, Poland, February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

February 27, 2019

ANKARA (Reuters) – White House adviser Jared Kushner arrived in Turkey on Wednesday for talks with President Tayyip Erdogan that are expected to focus on a U.S. peace plan for the Middle East.

Kushner, who has responsibility for Washington’s Israel-Palestinian policy, has said the plan will address final-status issues of the conflict, including establishing borders.

He was scheduled to meet Erdogan at the presidential palace in the Turkish capital Ankara at 3 pm (1200 GMT), the presidential office said. No media statement has been scheduled.

Erdogan has been one of the most vocal critics of President Donald Trump’s support for Israel.

Last year he said the United States had forfeited its role as mediator in the Middle East by moving its Israel embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing the city as Israel’s capital.

“The United States has chosen to be part of the problem rather than the solution,” the Turkish president said last May, days before he hosted a summit of Muslim leaders which threatened economic measures against countries which followed the United States in moving their embassies to Jerusalem.

Israel calls all of Jerusalem its “eternal and undivided capital”, a status not recognized internationally. Palestinians want East Jerusalem, captured and occupied by Israel in a 1967 war, as capital of a future state.

In an interview broadcast on Monday on Sky News Arabia during a visit to U.S.-allied Gulf Arab states, Kushner made no specific mention of a Palestinian state, whose creation had been a key goal of Washington’s peace efforts for two decades.

But he said the long-awaited peace proposal would build on “a lot of the efforts in the past”, including the 1990s Oslo accords that provided a foundation for Palestinian statehood, and would require concessions from both sides.

U.S. officials said that Kushner, who is Trump’s son-in-law, is expected to focus on the economic component of the plan during his week-long trip to the region.

(Reporting by Mert Ozkan; Writing by Daren Butler; editing by Gareth Jones)

Source: OANN

  • Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen will tell Congress on Wednesday that he saw no ‘direct evidence’ of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, but that he did overhear a conversation in which Roger Stone told Donald Trump he spoke to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
  • Cohen will testify that Stone told Trump that WikiLeaks planned to release emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee.
  • Cohen will also say that Trump implicitly instructed him to lie to Congress about efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen acknowledges that Trump did not ‘directly’ ask him to lie. 

Michael Cohen will make several bombshell allegations about President Trump during his testimony on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, including that he overheard political operative Roger Stone tell Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign that he had spoken to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about the release of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee.

While Cohen will offer scathing testimony against his former boss, he also claims he has no “direct evidence” that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government. Cohen will also testify that, contrary to recent BuzzFeed News report, Trump did not directly instruct him to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Cohen, who will begin a three year prison sentence on May 6, will also provide numerous anecdotes from his decade of working for Trump which he says shows the former real estate mogul to be “a racist…a conman…a cheat.”

Cohen’s 20-page opening statement was released Tuesday night ahead of his testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Cohen testified earlier on Tuesday in a closed hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Cohen’s claims about Roger Stone are perhaps the biggest bombshell contained in the opening statement.

“A lot of people have asked me about whether Mr. Trump knew about the release of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails ahead of time. The answer is yes,” Cohen plans to testify.

“He was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails.”

Roger Stone, a longtime ally of President Donald Trump, speaks to reporters after appearing before a closed House Intelligence Committee hearing at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Cohen claims that in July 2016, just before the Democratic convention, he was in Trump’s office when Stone was patched through to Trump via speakerphone.

“Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign,” Cohen’s testimony reads.

“Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of ‘wouldn’t that be great,’” he added.

Stone, a longtime Trump confidant, has long denied speaking with Assange or having advance knowledge of the release of DNC emails. He has also claimed he never spoke with Trump about WikiLeaks.

Stone was indicted on Jan. 24 in the special counsel’s investigation on seven charges related to his House Intelligence Committee testimony regarding his discussions about WikiLeaks. Those charges center largely on his communications after WikiLeaks released DNC emails. The special counsel has mostly focused on what Stone knew about WikiLeaks’ plans to release emails stolen from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

Stone was slapped with a gag order on Friday, meaning that he cannot speak publicly about his case.

No ‘direct evidence’ of collusion, but suspicions about Trump Tower meeting

Cohen says in his testimony that he has no firsthand knowledge that Trump or his campaign colluded with Russians to influence the election.

“Questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia. I do not. I want to be clear. But, I have my suspicions,” Cohen will say.

The statement, if accurate, would undercut allegations made about Cohen in the infamous Steele dossier. The 35-page report, which was funded by the DNC and Clinton campaign, claimed that Cohen visited Prague in August 2016 in order to pay off Russian hackers who had stolen DNC and Clinton campaign emails. (RELATED: Michael Cohen Again Disputes Report Alleging Prague Visit)

Cohen has denied the dossier’s allegations, most recently on Dec. 27, after McClatchy reported that Cohen’s cell phone pinged off of a tower near Prague around the time the dossier claims he was there.

The possible collusion that Cohen claims to have witnessed involves an infamous meeting held at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr. and a group of Russians in June 2016.

Trump Jr. hosted the meeting after an associate emailed him to say that a Russian attorney wanted to provide the campaign with derogatory information on Hillary Clinton.

“If it is what you say I love it,” Trump Jr. responded to the offer.

The meeting’s attendees, which included Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and the Russian delegation, have all claimed that the meeting was a waste of time. They’ve said that the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, used the introduction to the campaign to discuss one of her pet issues: the Magnitsky Act. The attendees have claimed that no information about Clinton was exchanged and that there was no follow up to the meeting.

U.S. President Donald Trump listens to questions from reporters about an impending U.S. Government shutdown... (Photo by REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

U.S. President Donald Trump listens to questions from reporters about an impending U.S. Government shutdown. (Photo by REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Cohen says that he believes, but does not know for certain, that Trump Jr. told his father about the meeting before it occurred, a claim which Trump Jr. denies.

Cohen says that he was in the room with Trump in early June 2016 when Trump Jr. walked behind his father’s desk, and said: “The meeting is all set.”

“Ok good…let me know,” Trump replied.

Cohen says that he concluded a year later that the Russian meeting must have been the topic because Trump Jr. “would never set up any meeting of any significance alone – and certainly not without checking with his father.”

BuzzFeed bomb or bombshell? 

Cohen also addresses allegations reported by BuzzFeed that Trump instructed him to lie to Congress about efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Cohen pleaded guilty on Nov. 29 to lying to Congress by claiming that negotiations to build the skyscraper ended in January 2016. Cohen admitted that he worked through June 2016 to try to make the deal happen and that he spoke frequently with Trump about the project.

BuzzFeed News reported in January that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress, and that he has told the special counsel as much during his dozens of hours of meetings with prosecutors. BuzzFeed also reported that emails, text messages, and witnesses at the Trump Organization would corroborate Cohen’s testimony.

The report proved controversial after the special counsel’s office issued a statement saying that the story was inaccurate. BuzzFeed has stood by the story but not followed up with additional details to back up the original article.

Cohen will testify that Trump did not “directly” instruct him to lie to Congress.

“Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates,” the opening statement reads.

“In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for him, he would look me in the eye and tell me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing,” Cohen will say.

“In his way, he was telling me to lie.”

He also said that “[y]ou need to know that Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it.”

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A baby boy weighing 268 grams when born in August 2018, the hospital claims is the smallest baby to survive and be sent home healthy, is seen five days after his birth in Tokyo
A baby boy weighing 268 grams when born in August 2018, the hospital claims is the smallest baby to survive and be sent home healthy, is seen five days after his birth in Tokyo, Japan, in this undated handout photo released by Keio University School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics and obtained Reuters on February 27, 2019. Mandatory credit Keio University School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics/Handout via Reuters

February 27, 2019

TOKYO (Reuters) – A baby boy weighing just 268 grams (9.45 oz) at birth was sent home after months in a Tokyo hospital, the smallest surviving male baby in the world, Keio University hospital said.

The boy was born through Caesarean-section last August after he failed to gain weight during the pregnancy and doctors feared his life was in danger.

The boy was in intensive care until his weight reached 3.2 kilograms and he was discharged on Feb. 20, said Dr. Takeshi Arimitsu of the university’s School of Medicine, Department of Paediatrics.

“I am grateful that he has grown this big because, honestly, I wasn’t sure he could survive,” the boy’s mother told Reuters.

The previous record was held by a boy born in Germany in 2009 weighing 274 grams, according to the Tiniest Babies registry managed by the University of Iowa.

The smallest girl was born weighing 252 grams in Germany in 2015, according to the registry.

(Reporting by Mayuko Ono; Writing by Stanley White; Editing by Darren Schuettler)

Source: OANN

Amber Athey | White House Correspondent

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met and shook hands in Vietnam amid the second international summit between the two leaders Wednesday.

The two world leaders greeted one another at approximately 6:29 pm local time in Hanoi, Vietnam ahead of a planned dinner, approaching one another from opposite sides of a staged area and meeting in the middle. The pair then shook hands in front of a group of U.S. and North Korean flags.

WATCH:

The handshake appeared to be firm but familiar, as the two men leaned in close to one another and Trump patted Kim’s back several times.

Kim initially appeared very grim. However, after a brief exchange with Trump, his face took on a wide smile. The pair appeared slightly confused as to where they were supposed to go after the photo-op.

Trump and Kim shook hands again later during a presser where each leader spoke briefly to reporters. The U.S. president initiated the second shake at the end of the presser and gently patted Kim on the hand as the two smiled.

WATCH:

Trump will be approaching the summit with the goal of reaching a denuclearization agreement with the North Korean leader after decades of tension between their respective countries. (RELATED: Here’s What Trump Hopes To Get Out Of Kim Jong Un)

Trump and Kim previously met in June 2018, where they discussed denuclearization and human rights.

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Luciana Andrade gave her fans on Instagram a treat with a recent post.

The Brazilian-born UFC octagon girl dropped a shot of herself in a flower pattern bikini, and it’s absolutely awesome. (SLIDESHOW: These Women On Instagram Hate Wearing Clothes)

Is is the wildest snap that we’ve ever seen out of Andrade? No, but it’s still extremely impressive. (SLIDESHOW: 142 Times Josephine Skriver Barely Wore Anything)

Take a look below, and decide for yourself what you think. (SLIDESHOW: 71 Times Samantha Hoopes Stripped Down)

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Luciana Andrade (@lucianaandradeufc) on

I’m not sure there are many better ways to get your day started than with the photo above. It really is that simple. (SLIDESHOW: This Blonde Bombshell Might Be The Hottest Model On The Internet)

Here are a few more times Andrade managed to absolutely dominate the web. (SLIDESHOW: 60 Times Abigail Ratchford Wore Almost Nothing)

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Luciana Andrade (@lucianaandradeufc) on

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A post shared by Luciana Andrade (@lucianaandradeufc) on

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A post shared by Luciana Andrade (@lucianaandradeufc) on

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A post shared by Luciana Andrade (@lucianaandradeufc) on

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Thomas Ingenlath, Chief Executive Officer of Polestar speaks during a launch event in Shanghai
Thomas Ingenlath, Chief Executive Officer of Polestar speaks during a launch event in Shanghai, China October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Adam Jourdan

February 27, 2019

By Esha Vaish

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Volvo Cars’ luxury performance brand Polestar unveiled online its first fully electric sedan on Wednesday, with a price and driving range to rival Tesla’s mass market Model 3.

The Polestar 2 will cost about 59,900 euros ($68,100) for its launch edition and can be driven for around 275 miles before it needs recharging – broadly in line with the Model 3’s current price in Europe of 58,800 euros and 260 miles range.

The Model 3 and Polestar 2 are cheaper than most of the electric models launched by traditional premium carmakers so far, as Tesla and Polestar bet mass market customers are on the verge of adopting battery technology. Both have also promised even lower prices later on.

Polestar’s launch comes as Tesla is trying to ramp up Model 3 sales in Europe and China, where recent government subsidies and programs are boosting the take up of electric vehicles. A cut in subsidies in the United States, in contrast, in dampening demand in the Californian start-up’s home market.

Tesla was dealt a setback this month after influential U.S. magazine Consumer Reports withdrew its endorsement for the Model 3, citing reliability problems. Analysts say Polestar has strong engineering as it is built on the Volvo platform.

Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath told Reuters he hoped to sell “north of” 50,000 Polestar 2s in the 2-3 years after deliveries start from the first half of 2020, but said how much production capacity the company sets up would depend on market conditions.

“If the market develops fine, I don’t think the production volume will be the limitation. It depends much more on how the car resonates with the market, how the market develops and how the tariffs develops,” he said.

Carmakers including Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and BMW are beginning deliveries of premium electric cars unveiled over the past year as they try to muscle in on a market that Tesla has dominated so far.

Securing the electric market has become increasingly important as demand for traditional combustion engine vehicles slows in China and Europe, partly due to tariffs stemming from Washington’s trade war with Beijing.

Although electric carmakers have also been affected, with Tesla having adjusted Model 3 prices in China after tariffs, Ingenlath said he expected electric sales to be supported by government subsidies and as the market grows from a low base.

Electric vehicle sales forecasts support this view.

Polestar 2 is the first of five fully electric vehicles that Volvo Cars, owned by China’s Geely, has promised.

The car will be available for online order initially in China, the United States and Canada as well as six European launch markets, and Ingenlath said he expected the three continents to each account for roughly a third of sales.

Volvo, which owns half of Polestar with the rest held by its parent Geely, said earlier this year it was talking to investors about raising funds to support Polestar’s electrification costs. Ingenlath said it was too early to give an update on how that was progressing.

(Reporting by Esha Vaish in Stockholm; Editing by Mark Potter)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro gestures during a meeting with Argentina's President Mauricio Macri, at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia
FILE PHOTO: Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro gestures during a meeting with Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri, at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil January 16, 2019. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino/File Photo

February 27, 2019

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro late on Tuesday withdrew an executive order signed in January that would have increased the number of officials able to effectively keep government documents and data secret.

In January, Vice-President Hamilton Mourao, acting for Bolsonaro while the president underwent surgery, signed the measure that altered Brazil’s freedom of information rules by allowing a wider range of officials to designate information as secret or ultra-secret. The move was widely denounced by transparency advocates and journalists at the time.

In February, however, Brazil’s lower house voted to suspend the measure, in what amounted to the first legislative defeat for the right-wing Bolsonaro, who took power on Jan. 1.

While the suspension must still be confirmed by the senate, Bolsonaro decided to cancel the executive order, according to the Wednesday edition of the government’s official bulletin.

(Reporting by Eduardo Simoes; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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FILE PHOTO: Logo of Switzerland's Swisscom telecommunications is seen in Zurich
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Switzerland’s Swisscom telecommunications is seen at an office building in Zurich, Switzerland November 22, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

February 27, 2019

ZURICH (Reuters) – Swiss telecom company Swisscom cannot be forced to block access to foreign internet sites that illegally make films available, the highest Swiss court said on Wednesday, ending a three-year-old copyright case brought by a local film company.

The Swiss Supreme Court dismissed the complaint of the company, Zurich-based Praesens-Film, that owns the Swiss rights for numerous films and had demanded Swisscom deploy technology to block downloads or streaming access.

The decision, which confirms a lower-court ruling, concluded that in order for Swisscom to be forced to block the sites in question, it would have to be a participant in the copyright infringement.

“The activities of Swisscom are limited to offering access to the world-wide internet. The films aren’t offered by Swisscom, rather via third parties based in unknown locations in foreign countries,” the court wrote. “These parties are neither customers of Swisscom, nor do they have any other relationship to the telecom company.”

Swiss legal observers had judged the case important, since it provides other internet providers, of which Swisscom is the nation’s largest, with guidance on their legal obligations in instances where websites offer films in violation of copyrights.

(Reporting by John Miller, editing by John Revill)

Source: OANN

A Greek national flag flutters atop the parliament building in Athens
A Greek national flag flutters atop the parliament building in Athens, Greece, January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

February 27, 2019

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Greece has not made enough progress in reforms agreed last year to get a 750 million euro ($854.4 million) bonus from the euro zone, but could still complete the changes before the bloc’s finance ministers discuss the issue on March 11, the European Commission said on Wednesday.

Greece struck a debt relief deal with euro zone creditors last June to continue various reforms even after its third bailout program ended in August. The Commission has the task of monitoring the reform progress.

In return, Athens is to get 750 million euros every six months. The money is part of about 4.8 billion euros of profits from Greek bonds held by the euro zone that is to be handed back to Athens by mid-2022 and from a waiver of the step-up interest rate margin on part of the euro zone loans.

“Concerning Greece, the second Enhanced Surveillance Report … shows significant progress but also some areas in which further efforts are needed, and I urge the authorities to complete these in time for the next Eurogroup,” European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Pierre Moscovici said in a statement.

There are 16 various reforms at different stages of completion, but the key ones were linked to the clearance of government arrears – the roll-out of a primary healthcare system and centralized healthcare procurement and the legal framework for non-performing loan resolution, in particular the household insolvency law.

(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)

Source: OANN

Women stand in a shoes shop in Rome
Women stand in a shoes shop in Rome, Italy, August 11, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi

February 27, 2019

By Jan Strupczewski

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Italy’s economy is facing excessive imbalances and policies of its government are making matters worse, which also poses a threat to other euro zone countries, the European Commission said on Wednesday.

However, the EU executive arm, whose job is to analyze the economic performance of each of the EU’s 28 countries and warn of trouble ahead, said it would wait until it receives Italy’s reform program in April before taking action.

“Italy is experiencing excessive imbalances. High government debt and protracted weak productivity dynamics imply risks with cross-border relevance, in a context of still high level of non-performing loans and high unemployment,” the Commission said.

Last year, Italy narrowly escaped an EU disciplinary procedure over its very high public debt, which under EU rules should be falling every year.

In an unprecedented stand-off, the Commission rejected in October the initial 2019 draft budget of Italy’s ruling eurosceptic and populist coalition, that would have raised borrowing to cover election promises.

Rome and the Commission eventually reached a compromise over the deficit but it was based on an economic growth forecast of 1.2 percent. In February, the Commission revised that down to 0.2 percent.

“The government debt ratio is not expected to decline in the coming years, as the weak macroeconomic outlook and the government’s current fiscal plans, though less expansionary than its initial plans for 2019, will entail a deterioration of the primary surplus,” it said.

Italy’s borrowing costs surged in the second half of 2018 as investors grew worried about the extra borrowing needed to finance generous policies of tax cuts and spending on welfare and earlier pensions.

The Commission said Italian reforms broadly stalled last year and some, like the pension reform of the previous government, were reversed, which would make public finances less sustainable and hit productivity and potential GDP growth.

“Cost competitiveness is stable, but weak productivity growth persists. This is rooted in long-standing issues with the functioning of labor, capital and product markets, compounded by weaknesses in the public administration and justice system, which drags down potential GDP growth,” it said.

While Italian banks have significantly reduced the number of their bad loans, keeping that up could be a challenge in a slowing economy, the Commission said.

How bad Italy’s imbalances become depend on what the government does next, the Commission said, adding it would decide what action to take after Rome sends its reform plans in April.

“The Commission will therefore closely monitor developments and assess policy steps and commitments to address imbalances, in particular the level of ambition of the National Reform Programme, in the context of the forthcoming European Semester Spring Package,” it said.

(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)

Source: OANN

Jeffrey Ubben, Founder & CEO at ValueAct Capital, poses for a portrait before speaking on the Reuters Newsmaker event'
Jeffrey Ubben, Founder & CEO at ValueAct Capital, poses for a portrait before speaking on the Reuters Newsmaker event’ “The Future of Shareholder Activism” panel in Manhattan, New York, U.S., February 22, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

February 27, 2019

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Jeffrey Ubben’s ValueAct Spring Fund, which invests in companies aiming to address environmental and social problems, is making a bet on an academic-turned-hedge-fund-manager who picks stocks based on how effective companies are as employers.

The Spring Fund is buying a stake in Irrational Capital, a hedge fund launched three years ago by Duke University behavioral economist Dan Ariely and his business partner David van Adelsberg. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

It is an unusual move for a hedge fund to back a smaller rival. But ValueAct, the $15 billion fund that last year launched the $350 million Spring Fund, is familiar with such an arrangement. It sold a stake in itself to Affiliated Managers Group more than a decade ago.

So far Spring Fund has mainly bought stakes in publicly listed companies, including power utility Hawaii Electric Industries Inc and gene-editing company Horizon Discovery Group Plc.

“Dan (Ariely’s) work makes the case for connecting positive workforce culture to performance,” Ubben said in an interview. He met the economist seven years ago through a connection at Duke University, where Ubben earned his undergraduate degree.

Ariely and Van Adelsberg have come up with a system to measure employee engagement, pride in their work and sense of purpose across the corporate world. Their data is funneled into a computer that churns out rankings of companies that Irrational Capital then invests in.

Irrational Capital has so far gathered information on over 1,000 companies through “any type of data we can get our hands on,” Ariely said, adding this includes 350 companies with market capitalizations of more then $1 billion. Ariely declined to name the companies, and Ubben said he doesn’t need to know Ariely’s picks.

“We don’t intervene in what the data show by saying something like this company scores highly but we don’t like the CEO. We are true to the data,” Ariely said in an interview.

Ariely, a 51-year old professor, researcher and author, views himself as an expert in understanding human behavior. He spent time in the hospital as a teenager recovering from burns received when a flare exploded during a celebration and said the opportunity to observe nurses at work built his skill.

Meanwhile, Ubben, 57, is fast becoming one of Wall Street’s biggest critics of corporate America’s short-termism. He is now trying to convince investors that positive workplace culture can drive above-average returns.

OPERATIONAL CHANGES

For nearly two decades, Ubben has staked a claim to bringing a long-term approach to activist investing. His playbook does not usually call for a fast return of capital to shareholders or a quick flip of a company to a seller.

Instead, ValueAct prefers to push for operational changes at companies such as Microsoft Corp and Citigroup Inc from behind the scenes. Two years ago, Ubben handed the chief investment officer role at ValueAct to Mason Morfit, but he remains the firm’s CEO and runs the Spring Fund.

Over ValueAct’s lifetime, the main fund has returned an average of nearly 15 percent a year, an investor said. Ubben declined to say how the new fund has done, citing regulations.

Pushing back against corporate greed has galvanized public opinion and politicians alike, and Ubben wants to convince mainstream investors that committing resources to employees’ well-being will not short-change shareholders.

“These hedge fund managers write letters and dictate what should be done by management and then they get their buddies to buy the stock and help hijack the company,” Ubben said of some of his competitors, declining to name them.

Ubben said he was particularly irked when Aramark Inc, the food services and facilities company he recently invested in, was punished by analysts for doing good. Management returned the roughly $100 million windfall the company received through the tax system overhaul to employees in the form of higher wages and by boosting the match to their retirement savings, Ubben said. But Goldman Sachs Group Inc downgraded its rating to neutral from buy, citing growing labor pressures in the sector.

Aramark did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Data from Gallup Inc, known for its public opinion polls, also showed that organizations that are best in engaging their employees deliver earnings per share growth that is more than four times that of their competitors.

“This is the last mile and this is the hardest thing,” Ubben said of Irrational Capital. “We want to spread the word and introduce the concept and grow it so that a lot of people will invest in it.”

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; editing by Greg Roumeliotis and Cynthia Osterman)

Source: OANN

Amber Athey | White House Correspondent

President Donald Trump took a jab at Democratic Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal for embellishing his service record in Vietnam, as the president visits the country for the second summit between North Korea and the U.S.

In between trade meetings with the Vietnamese prime minister and preparations for a dinner with North Korean President Kim Jong Un, the president tweeted sharp criticism of the senator he nicknamed “Da Nang Dick.” Trump even alleged that he spoke of Blumenthal’s mischaracterizations with Vietnamese leaders.

“I have now spent more time in Vietnam than Da Nang Dick Blumenthal, the third rate Senator from Connecticut (how is Connecticut doing?),” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “His war stories of his heroism in Vietnam were a total fraud – he was never even there. We talked about it today with Vietnamese leaders!”

The New York Times reported in 2010 that Blumenthal had repeatedly made misstatements related to his service in U.S. Marine Corps Reserve that falsely implied he fought in the Vietnam War. Blumenthal apologized for not being “as clear or precise as I should have been about my service in the Marine Corps Reserves.” (RELATED: Trump Puts Sen. Blumenthal On Blast With Stolen Valor Reference)

The president first bestowed the “Da Nang” nickname on Blumenthal in October when the senator questioned the integrity of then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s nominee to serve on the Supreme Court.

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A man reads a newspaper at a coffee shop in central Athens
A man reads a newspaper at a coffee shop in central Athens, Greece, November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Costas Baltas

February 27, 2019

By Francesco Guarascio

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Half of European Union countries are experiencing economic imbalances that differ widely, the EU Commission said on Wednesday, as the bloc discusses how to improve convergence among its 27 members after Britain leaves.

In a regular check-up of EU governments’ economic policies and achievements, the Commission renewed its warning that gaps that are harmful to the whole bloc not being addressed in several states, while a growing number of them face shortfalls.

As economic growth slows, “challenges vary significantly across countries and call for appropriate and determined policy action,” the Commission said in its report.

Thirteen states were rebuked for their economic imbalances, two more than in last year’s assessment.

Of them, Italy, Greece and Cyprus were found to have “excessive” shortfalls which would require swift corrective action. The Commission was mostly worried by the high ratio of bad loans in their banking sectors and their large public and private debt.

Bulgaria, Germany, Ireland, Spain, France, Croatia, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Sweden also have imbalances although less acute than the three Mediterranean states, the commission said. Croatia’s imbalances are no longer considered excessive.

None of these countries have sufficiently narrowed the gaps the Commission had highlighted in a report last year, in a sign that EU’s fiscal recommendations have so far been largely ignored in national capitals.

Problems also differ among countries, with France affected by low productivity, Italy hit by high unemployment and debt and Germany lagging on investments.

CASH FOR REFORMS?

The EU monitoring was launched after the 2008-09 global financial crisis to address national economic imbalances that could weaken the EU economy.

However, major shortfalls have not been tackled by EU states. For example, Italy’s large public sector debt has not dropped and Germany has maintained an excessive trade surplus.

Structural reforms have also stalled in recent years in many countries of the bloc. “To unlock the full growth potential of our economies, we need structural reforms,” the Commission’s vice-president in charge of financial stability Valdis Dombrovskis said in a statement.

In a bid to address these shortfalls and lower economic divergences among EU states, the Commission last year proposed to set up a 25-billion-euro ($28.4 billion) EU fund to help countries that embark on structural reforms, such as of their pensions systems or labor markets.

Germany and France, the two largest countries of the bloc, supported the cash-for-reform plan in a blueprint agreed last week, but a fund will only be set up if there is backing from all EU states. Not all countries support the plan.

If agreed, the fund could begin financing reforms from 2021 when the new long-term EU budget will start.

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)

Source: OANN

The motorcade of U.S. President Donald Trump passes bystanders on a road near the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi
The motorcade of U.S. President Donald Trump passes bystanders on a road near the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung Hoon

February 27, 2019

By Hyonhee Shin

HANOI (Reuters) – North Korean officials visited some high-tech factories and a tourist site in Vietnam on Wednesday, as their leader, Kim Jong Un, looks to shore up his sanctions-hit economy by copying the successes of another old U.S. foe.

President Donald Trump noted how Vietnam was thriving soon after he arrived late on Tuesday for his second summit with Kim, in Hanoi, a city the United States bombed during the Vietnam War.

As Trump tries to cajole Kim into taking steps towards full and verified denuclearization of North Korea, he has been highlighting its economic potential and the example Vietnam offers.

When Kim visited Singapore in June, for his first summit with Trump, he was impressed with its development and said he was eager to learn from its experiences.

Now he’s keen to learn from Vietnam.

A group of Kim’s foreign policy and economic aides, who accompanied him to Vietnam, traveled out of Hanoi on Wednesday to the industrial port town of Haiphong and the nearby UNESCO-listed Ha Long Bay.

Kim, scheduled to begin talks with Trump in the evening, did not join the trip.

In Haiphong, the delegation toured the automaker Vinfast, smartphone firm VinSmart and VinEco, an agriculture and food supplier, all of the which are units of Vietnam’s largest conglomerate, Vingroup.

But the trip was not all work. Some members of the delegation snapped selfies on a boat ride on Ha Long Bay, one of Vietnam’s top tourist sites, South Korean broadcaster KBS reported.

Communist-ruled Vietnam has boomed since it launched reforms known as “doi moi” in the late 1980s.

“Vietnam’s ‘doi moi’ is an ideal model for North Korea, which wants to retain the one-party system while pursuing bold economic reforms to engineer growth,” said Cho Bong-hyun, a specialist in the North Korean economy at IBK Bank in Seoul.

Cho said Vietnam’s size, population, the state of its agriculture and its need for foreign capital made it a better model for North Korea to copy than China.

The North Korean team was led by Ri Su Yong, a former vice foreign minister and now vice chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party, and included for the first time top economic policymaker O Su Yong.

The inclusion of O, a former minister of electronics and vice minister of metals and machine building, in the delegation signals Kim’s hope to take a page from Vietnam’s book.

‘BETTER FIT’

Kim shifted his focus to the economy at a party congress last April, abandoning the parallel pursuit of nuclear weapons and economic development he had expounded since taking power in 2011.

While Vietnam’s model of reform is widely touted as the economic path for North Korea, Vietnam’s transformation has required political change and levels of individual freedoms that would require major reforms for the Kim family, which is afforded godlike status by state propaganda.

The delegation’s choice of the three factories and the tourist hot spot reflected Kim’s calls for “cutting-edge technologies” and a self-reliant economy.

Vinfast is Vietnam’s first fully fledged carmaker, while VinSmart rolled out its first locally made smartphone, Vsmart, last year.

Despite Vietnam’s new focus on high-tech industry, agriculture remains a major source of exports and driver of growth. VinEco promotes sustainable farming.

Ha Long Bay, dotted with steep-sided islands, attracted more than 12 million tourists last year, numbers Kim can only dream of.

North Korea is building tourist complexes in the east coast city of Wonsan and in the alpine town of Samjiyon near its famous Mount Paektu.

Kim’s late grandfather, Kim Il Sung, visited Ha Long Bay in 1964. On Wednesday, Vietnamese officials gave the visiting delegation pictures from that trip as a gift for Kim Jong Un, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.

North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper hailed Vietnam’s “big potential” and efforts to “diversify industrial structure” from the agriculture-dependent economy.

Yang Un-chul of the Sejong Institute in South Korea said if the North is ever going to fulfil its ambition to be an advanced socialist economy, it has to learn from business like the ones the delegation visited in Vietnam.

“North Korea would want to make better use of its good labor and nurture more sophisticated industries, and those sites have something to offer,” Yang said.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Additional reporting by Joyce Lee, Jeongmin Kim and Wonil Lee in SEOUL; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen outside the entrance of the London Stock Exchange in London
FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen outside the entrance of the London Stock Exchange in London, Britain. Aug 23, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo

February 27, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – Preparations made so far are no guarantee markets won’t be disrupted if there is a no-deal Brexit, Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority said on Wednesday.

FCA Chief Executive Andrew Bailey told a House of Lords committee that he could give no assurance there would not be market disruption if Britain crashes out of the European Union next month with no transition deal.

Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29 but has no agreement with Brussels that would include a business-as-usual transition agreement.

Britain and the EU have taken steps to avert dislocation in markets, but Bailey said work remained to be done to mitigate risks from uncleared cross-border derivatives and exchange of data.

But unlike Britain, Brussels has decided there is no need for EU-wide action on uncleared derivatives, leaving it to individual states to take measures, which some have.

“Those measures are not the same. Some are more robust than others … It’s helpful in term of reducing the cliff edge,” Bailey told a House of Lords committee on EU affairs.

Brussels was unwilling to go as far as Britain in taking steps to avoid disruption to markets from any hard Brexit partly because it wanted to see a transfer of financial services activity from Britain to the continent, he added.

A hard Brexit also risk disrupts the flow of data between financial firms in Britain and the EU, he said.

The FCA has told financial-services firms in the past 24 hours they need to put in place contingency measures, such as clauses in contracts, as a workaround to avoid disruption in data flows, Bailey said.

(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Larry King)

Source: OANN


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