OAN Newsroom

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FILE PHOTO - Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud attends the 2019 budget meeting in Riyadh
FILE PHOTO – Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud attends the 2019 budget meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia December 18, 2018. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS

March 20, 2019

CAIRO (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud called Morocco’s King Mohammed VI to review “brotherly relations” between the two countries, state news agency SPA said on Wednesday.

Moroccan media last month said Morocco has recalled its ambassador to Saudi Arabia for consultations, indicating cracks in relations between the traditional Sunni Muslim allies over Yemen, Qatar and Western Sahara.

The call also discussed regional and international events, SPA added.

(Reporting by Hesham Hajali; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: People walk outside the central bank headquarters building in Brasilia
FILE PHOTO: People walk outside the central bank headquarters building in Brasilia, Brazil, September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

March 20, 2019

By Jamie McGeever

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s central bank kept its benchmark interest rate at a record low 6.50 percent on Wednesday, as expected, while noting that recent economic data has been weaker than expected and that inflation risks are no longer skewed to the upside.

The bank’s nine-member monetary policy committee, known as Copom, voted unanimously to keep the benchmark Selic rate unchanged for the eighth straight meeting, as forecast by all 21 economists in a Reuters poll. [BR/INT]

In a sign that new central bank chief Roberto Campos Neto will stay the steady course set out by his predecessor, Copom repeated a line from recent policy statements that policy is best determined with “caution, serenity and perseverance.”

In a shift from its February statement, however, Copom said on Wednesday that risks to inflation are symmetrical. Six weeks ago the committee said inflation risks were skewed to the upside but moderating.

“Recent data on economic activity came in below expectations,” policymakers said in their statement.

“On the one hand, the high level of economic slack may lead to a lower-than-expected prospective inflation trajectory. On the other hand, frustration of expectations regarding the continuation of reforms…may affect risk premia and increase the path for inflation over the relevant horizon,” they said

Copom has long stressed the importance of economic reforms and adjustments – the biggest of which is an overhaul of social security recently presented in Congress – to keep inflation anchored and improve the outlook for Brazil’s economy.

(Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Brad Haynes and Alistair Bell)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: People walk outside the central bank headquarters building in Brasilia
FILE PHOTO: People walk outside the central bank headquarters building in Brasilia, Brazil, September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

March 20, 2019

By Jamie McGeever

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s central bank kept its benchmark interest rate at a record low 6.50 percent on Wednesday, as expected, while noting that recent economic data has been weaker than expected and that inflation risks are no longer skewed to the upside.

The bank’s nine-member monetary policy committee, known as Copom, voted unanimously to keep the benchmark Selic rate unchanged for the eighth straight meeting, as forecast by all 21 economists in a Reuters poll. [BR/INT]

In a sign that new central bank chief Roberto Campos Neto will stay the steady course set out by his predecessor, Copom repeated a line from recent policy statements that policy is best determined with “caution, serenity and perseverance.”

In a shift from its February statement, however, Copom said on Wednesday that risks to inflation are symmetrical. Six weeks ago the committee said inflation risks were skewed to the upside but moderating.

“Recent data on economic activity came in below expectations,” policymakers said in their statement.

“On the one hand, the high level of economic slack may lead to a lower-than-expected prospective inflation trajectory. On the other hand, frustration of expectations regarding the continuation of reforms…may affect risk premia and increase the path for inflation over the relevant horizon,” they said

Copom has long stressed the importance of economic reforms and adjustments – the biggest of which is an overhaul of social security recently presented in Congress – to keep inflation anchored and improve the outlook for Brazil’s economy.

(Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Brad Haynes and Alistair Bell)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: People walk outside the central bank headquarters building in Brasilia
FILE PHOTO: People walk outside the central bank headquarters building in Brasilia, Brazil, September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

March 20, 2019

By Jamie McGeever

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s central bank kept its benchmark interest rate at a record low 6.50 percent on Wednesday, as expected, while noting that recent economic data has been weaker than expected and that inflation risks are no longer skewed to the upside.

The bank’s nine-member monetary policy committee, known as Copom, voted unanimously to keep the benchmark Selic rate unchanged for the eighth straight meeting, as forecast by all 21 economists in a Reuters poll. [BR/INT]

In a sign that new central bank chief Roberto Campos Neto will stay the steady course set out by his predecessor, Copom repeated a line from recent policy statements that policy is best determined with “caution, serenity and perseverance.”

In a shift from its February statement, however, Copom said on Wednesday that risks to inflation are symmetrical. Six weeks ago the committee said inflation risks were skewed to the upside but moderating.

“Recent data on economic activity came in below expectations,” policymakers said in their statement.

“On the one hand, the high level of economic slack may lead to a lower-than-expected prospective inflation trajectory. On the other hand, frustration of expectations regarding the continuation of reforms…may affect risk premia and increase the path for inflation over the relevant horizon,” they said

Copom has long stressed the importance of economic reforms and adjustments – the biggest of which is an overhaul of social security recently presented in Congress – to keep inflation anchored and improve the outlook for Brazil’s economy.

(Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Brad Haynes and Alistair Bell)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer AG poses for a picture during the annual results news conference of the German drugmaker in Leverkusen
FILE PHOTO: Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer AG poses for a picture during the annual results news conference of the German drugmaker in Leverkusen, Germany February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo

March 20, 2019

By Tina Bellon

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Bayer AG had hoped a new trial strategy focusing jurors on scientific evidence could stem a burgeoning tide of U.S. lawsuits over its glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup, but a second jury finding on Tuesday that the product caused cancer has narrowed the company’s options, some legal experts said.

Bayer shares tumbled more than 12 percent on Wednesday after a unanimous jury in San Francisco federal court found Roundup to be a “substantial factor” in causing California resident Edwin Hardeman’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The jury decision was a blow to Bayer after the judge in the Hardeman case, at the company’s request, had split the trial, severely limiting evidence plaintiffs could present in the first phase. Tuesday’s defeat on terms considered advantageous to Bayer sets up the second phase to be even tougher and limits the grounds on which the company could appeal any final verdict, the experts said.

“The fact that Bayer lost this trial despite it being set up in the most favorable way for them is a huge setback,” said Thomas Rohback, a Connecticut-based defense lawyer.

Bayer in a statement on Tuesday said it stood behind the safety of Roundup and was confident the evidence in the second trial phase would show that Monsanto’s conduct was appropriate and the company not liable for Hardeman’s cancer.

The company, which bought Monsanto last year, on Wednesday declined to comment beyond that statement.

Tuesday’s finding did not address liability, which will be determined following the second trial phase that began on Wednesday.

Bayer denies glyphosate or Roundup cause cancer. The German company faces more than 11,200 lawsuits over the popular weed killer. Last August, following the first Roundup trial, a California state court jury issued a $289 million verdict against the company.

Two weeks after that verdict, which was later reduced to $78 million and is being appealed, Bayer Chief Executive Werner Baumann reassured analysts that the company had a new legal strategy based on focusing jurors on the scientific evidence.

“Bayer and the joint litigation team are working to ensure that, going forward, this overwhelming science will get the full consideration it deserves,” Baumann said in an Aug. 23 conference call.

A LOT AT STAKE

There is a lot at stake for Bayer, which acquired Roundup maker Monsanto last year for $63 billion. Though Bayer does not break out sales figures for Roundup, glyphosate is the world’s most widely used weed killer, and Roundup is the leading brand.

Bayer’s new strategy was focused on keeping out plaintiffs’ allegations that the company improperly influenced scientists, regulators and the public about the safety of Roundup. Bayer has denied it acted inappropriately and said in public statements following the August verdict that it thought the jury was inflamed by the claims of corporate misconduct.

Vince Chhabria, the San Francisco federal judge overseeing the Hardeman case, agreed with the company’s argument that such evidence was a “distraction” from the scientific question of whether glyphosate causes cancer. He agreed to split the trial in a January order.

Had Bayer had won the first phase, there would have been no second phase looking at company liability. Now that it has lost, almost all of the previously excluded evidence can be presented to the jury.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers hit Bayer with those allegations in their opening statements for the second phase on Wednesday. Aimee Wagstaff, one of Hardeman’s lawyers, said Monsanto influenced the science around Roundup through its “cozy” relationship with regulators.

Bayer could convince the jury in the second phase that, despite their finding that Roundup played a substantial role in Hardeman’s cancer, the company was not liable. Experts said that was unlikely.

“They could present evidence of how careful they were in developing Roundup, but that’s an uphill battle given that the scientific evidence was their strongest argument,” said Alexandra Lahav, a law professor at the University of Connecticut.

A lawyer for Bayer on Wednesday argued that Bayer could not be held liable because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as other regulators worldwide, approved Roundup without a cancer warning.

If the Hardeman trial had not been split and a final verdict went against Bayer, the company might have been able to appeal any damages award to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by claiming the jury had been improperly swayed by inflammatory evidence, said Lori Jarvis, a Virginia-based mass tort defense lawyer. That argument will now be difficult to make.

“It would not be surprising at all for the 9th Circuit to uphold what the jury did in this case, particularly given the great effort Chhabria put into creating a level playing field for Monsanto,” Jarvis said.

Some lawyers said Bayer could still argue on appeal that plaintiffs’ experts and their scientific evidence were insufficient and statistically invalid and should not have been admitted at trial. But they noted the 9th Circuit, which oversees the San Francisco federal court, has generally been permissive in allowing expert testimony.

However, experts said it was probably too soon to write off Bayer’s legal strategy, noting future Roundup cases could result in different outcomes.

“It’s a relatively early phase in this litigation as a whole and we just need to see more trials to understand Bayer’s liability,” said Adam Zimmerman, a law professor at Los Angeles-based Loyola Law School.

(Reporting by Tina Bellon; Editing by Anthony Lin and Bill Berkrot)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer AG poses for a picture during the annual results news conference of the German drugmaker in Leverkusen
FILE PHOTO: Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer AG poses for a picture during the annual results news conference of the German drugmaker in Leverkusen, Germany February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo

March 20, 2019

By Tina Bellon

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Bayer AG had hoped a new trial strategy focusing jurors on scientific evidence could stem a burgeoning tide of U.S. lawsuits over its glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup, but a second jury finding on Tuesday that the product caused cancer has narrowed the company’s options, some legal experts said.

Bayer shares tumbled more than 12 percent on Wednesday after a unanimous jury in San Francisco federal court found Roundup to be a “substantial factor” in causing California resident Edwin Hardeman’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The jury decision was a blow to Bayer after the judge in the Hardeman case, at the company’s request, had split the trial, severely limiting evidence plaintiffs could present in the first phase. Tuesday’s defeat on terms considered advantageous to Bayer sets up the second phase to be even tougher and limits the grounds on which the company could appeal any final verdict, the experts said.

“The fact that Bayer lost this trial despite it being set up in the most favorable way for them is a huge setback,” said Thomas Rohback, a Connecticut-based defense lawyer.

Bayer in a statement on Tuesday said it stood behind the safety of Roundup and was confident the evidence in the second trial phase would show that Monsanto’s conduct was appropriate and the company not liable for Hardeman’s cancer.

The company, which bought Monsanto last year, on Wednesday declined to comment beyond that statement.

Tuesday’s finding did not address liability, which will be determined following the second trial phase that began on Wednesday.

Bayer denies glyphosate or Roundup cause cancer. The German company faces more than 11,200 lawsuits over the popular weed killer. Last August, following the first Roundup trial, a California state court jury issued a $289 million verdict against the company.

Two weeks after that verdict, which was later reduced to $78 million and is being appealed, Bayer Chief Executive Werner Baumann reassured analysts that the company had a new legal strategy based on focusing jurors on the scientific evidence.

“Bayer and the joint litigation team are working to ensure that, going forward, this overwhelming science will get the full consideration it deserves,” Baumann said in an Aug. 23 conference call.

A LOT AT STAKE

There is a lot at stake for Bayer, which acquired Roundup maker Monsanto last year for $63 billion. Though Bayer does not break out sales figures for Roundup, glyphosate is the world’s most widely used weed killer, and Roundup is the leading brand.

Bayer’s new strategy was focused on keeping out plaintiffs’ allegations that the company improperly influenced scientists, regulators and the public about the safety of Roundup. Bayer has denied it acted inappropriately and said in public statements following the August verdict that it thought the jury was inflamed by the claims of corporate misconduct.

Vince Chhabria, the San Francisco federal judge overseeing the Hardeman case, agreed with the company’s argument that such evidence was a “distraction” from the scientific question of whether glyphosate causes cancer. He agreed to split the trial in a January order.

Had Bayer had won the first phase, there would have been no second phase looking at company liability. Now that it has lost, almost all of the previously excluded evidence can be presented to the jury.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers hit Bayer with those allegations in their opening statements for the second phase on Wednesday. Aimee Wagstaff, one of Hardeman’s lawyers, said Monsanto influenced the science around Roundup through its “cozy” relationship with regulators.

Bayer could convince the jury in the second phase that, despite their finding that Roundup played a substantial role in Hardeman’s cancer, the company was not liable. Experts said that was unlikely.

“They could present evidence of how careful they were in developing Roundup, but that’s an uphill battle given that the scientific evidence was their strongest argument,” said Alexandra Lahav, a law professor at the University of Connecticut.

A lawyer for Bayer on Wednesday argued that Bayer could not be held liable because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as other regulators worldwide, approved Roundup without a cancer warning.

If the Hardeman trial had not been split and a final verdict went against Bayer, the company might have been able to appeal any damages award to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by claiming the jury had been improperly swayed by inflammatory evidence, said Lori Jarvis, a Virginia-based mass tort defense lawyer. That argument will now be difficult to make.

“It would not be surprising at all for the 9th Circuit to uphold what the jury did in this case, particularly given the great effort Chhabria put into creating a level playing field for Monsanto,” Jarvis said.

Some lawyers said Bayer could still argue on appeal that plaintiffs’ experts and their scientific evidence were insufficient and statistically invalid and should not have been admitted at trial. But they noted the 9th Circuit, which oversees the San Francisco federal court, has generally been permissive in allowing expert testimony.

However, experts said it was probably too soon to write off Bayer’s legal strategy, noting future Roundup cases could result in different outcomes.

“It’s a relatively early phase in this litigation as a whole and we just need to see more trials to understand Bayer’s liability,” said Adam Zimmerman, a law professor at Los Angeles-based Loyola Law School.

(Reporting by Tina Bellon; Editing by Anthony Lin and Bill Berkrot)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer AG poses for a picture during the annual results news conference of the German drugmaker in Leverkusen
FILE PHOTO: Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer AG poses for a picture during the annual results news conference of the German drugmaker in Leverkusen, Germany February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo

March 20, 2019

By Tina Bellon

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Bayer AG had hoped a new trial strategy focusing jurors on scientific evidence could stem a burgeoning tide of U.S. lawsuits over its glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup, but a second jury finding on Tuesday that the product caused cancer has narrowed the company’s options, some legal experts said.

Bayer shares tumbled more than 12 percent on Wednesday after a unanimous jury in San Francisco federal court found Roundup to be a “substantial factor” in causing California resident Edwin Hardeman’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The jury decision was a blow to Bayer after the judge in the Hardeman case, at the company’s request, had split the trial, severely limiting evidence plaintiffs could present in the first phase. Tuesday’s defeat on terms considered advantageous to Bayer sets up the second phase to be even tougher and limits the grounds on which the company could appeal any final verdict, the experts said.

“The fact that Bayer lost this trial despite it being set up in the most favorable way for them is a huge setback,” said Thomas Rohback, a Connecticut-based defense lawyer.

Bayer in a statement on Tuesday said it stood behind the safety of Roundup and was confident the evidence in the second trial phase would show that Monsanto’s conduct was appropriate and the company not liable for Hardeman’s cancer.

The company, which bought Monsanto last year, on Wednesday declined to comment beyond that statement.

Tuesday’s finding did not address liability, which will be determined following the second trial phase that began on Wednesday.

Bayer denies glyphosate or Roundup cause cancer. The German company faces more than 11,200 lawsuits over the popular weed killer. Last August, following the first Roundup trial, a California state court jury issued a $289 million verdict against the company.

Two weeks after that verdict, which was later reduced to $78 million and is being appealed, Bayer Chief Executive Werner Baumann reassured analysts that the company had a new legal strategy based on focusing jurors on the scientific evidence.

“Bayer and the joint litigation team are working to ensure that, going forward, this overwhelming science will get the full consideration it deserves,” Baumann said in an Aug. 23 conference call.

A LOT AT STAKE

There is a lot at stake for Bayer, which acquired Roundup maker Monsanto last year for $63 billion. Though Bayer does not break out sales figures for Roundup, glyphosate is the world’s most widely used weed killer, and Roundup is the leading brand.

Bayer’s new strategy was focused on keeping out plaintiffs’ allegations that the company improperly influenced scientists, regulators and the public about the safety of Roundup. Bayer has denied it acted inappropriately and said in public statements following the August verdict that it thought the jury was inflamed by the claims of corporate misconduct.

Vince Chhabria, the San Francisco federal judge overseeing the Hardeman case, agreed with the company’s argument that such evidence was a “distraction” from the scientific question of whether glyphosate causes cancer. He agreed to split the trial in a January order.

Had Bayer had won the first phase, there would have been no second phase looking at company liability. Now that it has lost, almost all of the previously excluded evidence can be presented to the jury.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers hit Bayer with those allegations in their opening statements for the second phase on Wednesday. Aimee Wagstaff, one of Hardeman’s lawyers, said Monsanto influenced the science around Roundup through its “cozy” relationship with regulators.

Bayer could convince the jury in the second phase that, despite their finding that Roundup played a substantial role in Hardeman’s cancer, the company was not liable. Experts said that was unlikely.

“They could present evidence of how careful they were in developing Roundup, but that’s an uphill battle given that the scientific evidence was their strongest argument,” said Alexandra Lahav, a law professor at the University of Connecticut.

A lawyer for Bayer on Wednesday argued that Bayer could not be held liable because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as other regulators worldwide, approved Roundup without a cancer warning.

If the Hardeman trial had not been split and a final verdict went against Bayer, the company might have been able to appeal any damages award to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by claiming the jury had been improperly swayed by inflammatory evidence, said Lori Jarvis, a Virginia-based mass tort defense lawyer. That argument will now be difficult to make.

“It would not be surprising at all for the 9th Circuit to uphold what the jury did in this case, particularly given the great effort Chhabria put into creating a level playing field for Monsanto,” Jarvis said.

Some lawyers said Bayer could still argue on appeal that plaintiffs’ experts and their scientific evidence were insufficient and statistically invalid and should not have been admitted at trial. But they noted the 9th Circuit, which oversees the San Francisco federal court, has generally been permissive in allowing expert testimony.

However, experts said it was probably too soon to write off Bayer’s legal strategy, noting future Roundup cases could result in different outcomes.

“It’s a relatively early phase in this litigation as a whole and we just need to see more trials to understand Bayer’s liability,” said Adam Zimmerman, a law professor at Los Angeles-based Loyola Law School.

(Reporting by Tina Bellon; Editing by Anthony Lin and Bill Berkrot)

Source: OANN

Late senator John McCain is honored during the 2018 Iran Uprising Summit in New York
Late senator John McCain is honored during the 2018 Iran Uprising Summit in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky

March 20, 2019

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The widow and daughter of John McCain – former U.S. senator, Republican presidential nominee and Vietnam War hero – on Wednesday criticized President Donald Trump and his online supporters for attacking McCain and his family.

Speaking on Wednesday to an employee at an Ohio factory that makes military tanks, Trump again hammered McCain. “So I have to be honest, I’ve never liked him much,” Trump said. “I really probably never will. But there are certain reasons for it.”

Meghan McCain, the daughter of the late senator, spent the last few days defending her father and politely criticizing Trump. On Wednesday she said the president had reached “a new, bizarre low – attacking someone who is not here is a new low.”

She also said, “If I had told my dad… he would think it is so hilarious that our president was so jealous of him that he was dominating the news cycle in death.”

Barely six months after McCain’s death, Trump started the latest exchange between himself and the McCain clan on Sunday in a blast of Tweets, including one that attacked “‘last in his class’ (Annapolis) John McCain.”

A spokeswoman for Meghan McCain said she was not immediately available for further comment.

Cindy McCain, the senator’s widow, sarcastically urged her Twitter followers to “see how kind and loving a stranger can be” and shared with them an online message from someone who described John McCain as a “traitorous piece of warmongering shit and I’m glad he’s dead.”

On Tuesday, speaking to reporters in the Oval Office while sitting next the president of Brazil, Trump added: “I never was a fan of John McCain, and I never will be.”

The tweets and soundbites triggered a swirl of anti-McCain attacks and pro-McCain appeals on social media, like the one Cindy McCain shared, and cable TV discussion.

Without rebuking Trump, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said in a Tweet: “Today and every day I miss my good friend John McCain. It was a blessing to serve alongside a rare patriot and genuine American hero in the Senate.”

The White House had no comment on Trump’s latest attacks.

(Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Dan Grebler)

Source: OANN

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro takes part in wreath laying at the Tomb of Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro arrives during ceremonies to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery during his visit to Washington in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

March 20, 2019

BRASILIA (Reuters) – The government of Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro has seen its popularity plummet since he took office in January, with just a third of those asked approving of its performance, according to a poll published on Wednesday.

Despite easily winning October’s election, Bolsonaro’s government has the worst approval rating of any administration at this early stage since Brazil returned to democracy three decades ago.

Pollster Ibope said 34 percent of those surveyed found the Bolsonaro government doing a “great/good” job, compared to 49 percent in mid-January. The government’s “bad/terrible” rating rose 13 percentage points to 24 percent, Ibope said.

Bolsonaro spent the week cosying up to U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, without receiving much in return, sparking frustration among trade officials.

Back home, criticism of Bolsonaro is growing just as he has put before Congress his fiscally crucial but highly unpopular plan to reform the pension system. Most economists agree the system must be overhauled to shore up public finances and foster growth.

Brazil’s Congress is typically not particularly responsive to public opinion, but if the pension reforms were to spark street protests, the pressure on lawmakers to balk at the bill could have an impact.

Those surveyed who said they trusted Bolsonaro in the role dropped 13 percentage points from January to 49 percent. Those who say they have no trust in him jumped 13 points to 44 percent.

Bolsonaro’s strongest approval ratings are among higher income Brazilians, while the lowest ratings were registered in large cities, and in the poorer Northeast region, Ibope said.

Evangelical Christians were the social group that most trust in Bolsonaro, the poll showed.

Ibope surveyed 2,002 people between March 16-19 across Brazil. The poll’s margin of error is 2 percentage points.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; editing by Brad Brooks and Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The Boeing logo is pictured at the LABACE fair in Sao Paulo
FILE PHOTO: The Boeing logo is pictured at the Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition fair (LABACE) at Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil August 14, 2018. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

March 20, 2019

Source: OANN

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte attends Arab league and EU summit, in Sharm el-Sheikh
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte attends a summit between Arab league and European Union member states, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, February 24, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

March 20, 2019

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – The Dutch governing coalition will lose its majority in the senate as a result of provincial elections in which a far right populist party booked major gains, according to an exit poll commissioned by national broadcaster NOS.

The vote came just two days after a Turkish-born man was arrested on suspicion of shooting three people dead in the central city of Utrecht, in an attack that may have given the anti-immigration Forum for Democracy party a boost.

If the projection conducted by polling firm Ipsos is accurate, Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s center-right governing coalition will need to seek support from additional parties to pass legislation.

(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Soy beans are seen at storage plant in Carlos Casares
FILE PHOTO: Soy beans are seen at a storage plant in Carlos Casares, Argentina, April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian/File Photo

March 20, 2019

By Hugh Bronstein and Karl Plume

PERGAMINO, Argentina/CHICAGO (Reuters) – Francisco Santillan, 55, a grains farmer from the heart of Argentina’s soybean country, has two things on his mind: the rains and twists and turns in a bitter trade war between the United States and China that has hurt prices.

The weather-worn farmer, who rides a Harley-Davidson around the 4,500 hectares of farmland he manages, is expecting a bumper soybean crop when he begins harvesting this month, but he and his neighbors are holding off from sealing deals with buyers in the hope a trade war breakthrough will bolster prices.

The United States and China, the world’s top soybean producer and importer respectively, have slapped import duties on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of each other’s products in their dispute. Tariffs made U.S. soybeans too expensive so Beijing stopped buying them, resulting in a glut that has hit soybean contracts in Chicago, the reference price for the global trade.

Trump said on Wednesday that a trade deal with Beijing was coming along nicely, with U.S. negotiators poised to head to China next week for another round of talks. Negotiations to resolve the dispute have been turbulent – Trump also said on Wednesday tariffs would remain in place for a long time and last week that he was in no rush to reach a deal.

Benchmark Chicago Board of Trade soybean futures are hovering near $9 per bushel, only about 90 cents above decade lows posted in September.

“I am waiting for a better price,” said Santillan, one of a group of farmers who spoke to Reuters among fields of green, knee-high soy plants in the country’s fertile Pampas, where the ground was damp from heavy rains.

“The season is coming along very well. The harvest will be above 55 million tonnes and that will have a huge impact on the economy,” Santillan said. “But with news about the U.S.-China trade war determining Chicago reference prices, rather than supply and demand, it’s like we are flying without instruments.”

CASH CROP

Much in Argentina, the world’s No. 3 soybean producer and the top exporter of soyoil and the soymeal livestock feed that is fuelling Asia’s shift in diet from rice to pork and poultry, hangs on the soy crop.

A severe drought last year dragged the economy into recession, while bumper tax revenues this year could help support government spending and prop up President Mauricio Macri’s bid for re-election.

Delayed sales could hamper that. Just 16.2 percent of this season’s expected crop was sold by early March versus 30.5 percent at the same point a year earlier, government data show.

The uncertainty over prices – and the delays to deals – could also rattle the global trade as major buyers look to lock in supply, namely Archer Daniels Midland Co, Bunge Ltd, Cargill Inc and Louis Dreyfus Co.

The “ABCD” quartet, which dominates global grain trade, rely on a steady flow of grain to turn a profit in a typically thin-margin business. Farmers’ reluctance to sell at low prices has stung the grains merchants recently, particularly Bunge, which blamed limited farmer selling in Brazil for earnings misses last year.

Bunge’s acting Chief Executive Gregory Heckman called Argentina “one of the larger wild cards” for the firm’s oilseeds business in 2019, and said the firm anticipated farmers would hold more of their soybeans as a hedge against inflation and currency fluctuations.

“Soybean sales are happening slower this season than at any point over the last 10 years,” said a Buenos Aires-based grains broker. “Farmers are saying ‘I don’t like the price and I don’t need the money now because I was able to make cash with wheat and corn. So I’ll wait’.”

The uncertainty for the soy harvest comes at a complex time for President Macri too, who is battling to revive the economy while fending of challenges from political rivals ahead of national elections in October.

“For Argentina, the trade war between the United States and China is piling uncertainty on a country that is already full of uncertainty,” said Jorge Bianciotto, who manages a 2,300-hectare farm called La Lucila in Pergamino.

“This generates risks in terms of next year’s planting and investment decisions.”

His neighbor, Juan Girado, who manages a 500-hectare plantation, shared his concern.

“When they say the conflict is likely to end, prices rise. When the conflict looks like it’s deepening, prices fall,” he said. “So with a big crop on the way, and with prices as low as they are, it would be good for us for the trade war to end.”

(Reporting by Hugh Bronstein and Karl Plume; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Susan Thomas)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Soy beans are seen at storage plant in Carlos Casares
FILE PHOTO: Soy beans are seen at a storage plant in Carlos Casares, Argentina, April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian/File Photo

March 20, 2019

By Hugh Bronstein and Karl Plume

PERGAMINO, Argentina/CHICAGO (Reuters) – Francisco Santillan, 55, a grains farmer from the heart of Argentina’s soybean country, has two things on his mind: the rains and twists and turns in a bitter trade war between the United States and China that has hurt prices.

The weather-worn farmer, who rides a Harley-Davidson around the 4,500 hectares of farmland he manages, is expecting a bumper soybean crop when he begins harvesting this month, but he and his neighbors are holding off from sealing deals with buyers in the hope a trade war breakthrough will bolster prices.

The United States and China, the world’s top soybean producer and importer respectively, have slapped import duties on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of each other’s products in their dispute. Tariffs made U.S. soybeans too expensive so Beijing stopped buying them, resulting in a glut that has hit soybean contracts in Chicago, the reference price for the global trade.

Trump said on Wednesday that a trade deal with Beijing was coming along nicely, with U.S. negotiators poised to head to China next week for another round of talks. Negotiations to resolve the dispute have been turbulent – Trump also said on Wednesday tariffs would remain in place for a long time and last week that he was in no rush to reach a deal.

Benchmark Chicago Board of Trade soybean futures are hovering near $9 per bushel, only about 90 cents above decade lows posted in September.

“I am waiting for a better price,” said Santillan, one of a group of farmers who spoke to Reuters among fields of green, knee-high soy plants in the country’s fertile Pampas, where the ground was damp from heavy rains.

“The season is coming along very well. The harvest will be above 55 million tonnes and that will have a huge impact on the economy,” Santillan said. “But with news about the U.S.-China trade war determining Chicago reference prices, rather than supply and demand, it’s like we are flying without instruments.”

CASH CROP

Much in Argentina, the world’s No. 3 soybean producer and the top exporter of soyoil and the soymeal livestock feed that is fuelling Asia’s shift in diet from rice to pork and poultry, hangs on the soy crop.

A severe drought last year dragged the economy into recession, while bumper tax revenues this year could help support government spending and prop up President Mauricio Macri’s bid for re-election.

Delayed sales could hamper that. Just 16.2 percent of this season’s expected crop was sold by early March versus 30.5 percent at the same point a year earlier, government data show.

The uncertainty over prices – and the delays to deals – could also rattle the global trade as major buyers look to lock in supply, namely Archer Daniels Midland Co, Bunge Ltd, Cargill Inc and Louis Dreyfus Co.

The “ABCD” quartet, which dominates global grain trade, rely on a steady flow of grain to turn a profit in a typically thin-margin business. Farmers’ reluctance to sell at low prices has stung the grains merchants recently, particularly Bunge, which blamed limited farmer selling in Brazil for earnings misses last year.

Bunge’s acting Chief Executive Gregory Heckman called Argentina “one of the larger wild cards” for the firm’s oilseeds business in 2019, and said the firm anticipated farmers would hold more of their soybeans as a hedge against inflation and currency fluctuations.

“Soybean sales are happening slower this season than at any point over the last 10 years,” said a Buenos Aires-based grains broker. “Farmers are saying ‘I don’t like the price and I don’t need the money now because I was able to make cash with wheat and corn. So I’ll wait’.”

The uncertainty for the soy harvest comes at a complex time for President Macri too, who is battling to revive the economy while fending of challenges from political rivals ahead of national elections in October.

“For Argentina, the trade war between the United States and China is piling uncertainty on a country that is already full of uncertainty,” said Jorge Bianciotto, who manages a 2,300-hectare farm called La Lucila in Pergamino.

“This generates risks in terms of next year’s planting and investment decisions.”

His neighbor, Juan Girado, who manages a 500-hectare plantation, shared his concern.

“When they say the conflict is likely to end, prices rise. When the conflict looks like it’s deepening, prices fall,” he said. “So with a big crop on the way, and with prices as low as they are, it would be good for us for the trade war to end.”

(Reporting by Hugh Bronstein and Karl Plume; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Susan Thomas)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: MLB: Chicago White Sox-Media Day
FILE PHOTO: Feb 21, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox outfielder Eloy Jimenez (74) poses for a photo on photo day at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

March 20, 2019

Without playing in a major league game, outfielder Eloy Jimenez agreed to a six-year deal worth a guaranteed $43 million with the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday, multiple outlets reported.

The deal, which also includes two option years, is a record in guaranteed money for a player already in a team’s system who had not logged a day of big league time. Jimenez has played in the White Sox’s organization since 2017 when he was acquired in the deal that sent left-hander Jose Quintana to the Chicago Cubs.

Including the options, Jimenez’s contract would be worth $77 million, according to ESPN.

Jimenez, the White Sox’s top prospect, had already been assigned to Triple-A Charlotte to start the upcoming season, but the deal means that he is now expected to be in the team’s Opening Day lineup on March 28 at Kansas City.

Because the contract will take him into his initial free agency years, the White Sox can put Jimenez on the major league roster now without worrying about starting his free-agency clock. If he played three weeks in the minor leagues to start this season, it would have delayed his move into free agency by one year. The new contract eliminates that scenario.

Jimenez, 22, batted .337 with 22 home runs and 75 RBIs in 108 games last season between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. He is a .311 hitter in five minor league seasons with 65 home runs.

The previous record in guaranteed money for a player already in an organization was the six years and $24 million the Philadelphia Phillies agreed to with Scott Kingery last March. The previous record before that was the $10 million guarantee between Jon Singleton and the Houston Astros in 2014.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: MLB: Chicago White Sox-Media Day
FILE PHOTO: Feb 21, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox outfielder Eloy Jimenez (74) poses for a photo on photo day at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

March 20, 2019

Without playing in a major league game, outfielder Eloy Jimenez agreed to a six-year deal worth a guaranteed $43 million with the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday, multiple outlets reported.

The deal, which also includes two option years, is a record in guaranteed money for a player already in a team’s system who had not logged a day of big league time. Jimenez has played in the White Sox’s organization since 2017 when he was acquired in the deal that sent left-hander Jose Quintana to the Chicago Cubs.

Including the options, Jimenez’s contract would be worth $77 million, according to ESPN.

Jimenez, the White Sox’s top prospect, had already been assigned to Triple-A Charlotte to start the upcoming season, but the deal means that he is now expected to be in the team’s Opening Day lineup on March 28 at Kansas City.

Because the contract will take him into his initial free agency years, the White Sox can put Jimenez on the major league roster now without worrying about starting his free-agency clock. If he played three weeks in the minor leagues to start this season, it would have delayed his move into free agency by one year. The new contract eliminates that scenario.

Jimenez, 22, batted .337 with 22 home runs and 75 RBIs in 108 games last season between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. He is a .311 hitter in five minor league seasons with 65 home runs.

The previous record in guaranteed money for a player already in an organization was the six years and $24 million the Philadelphia Phillies agreed to with Scott Kingery last March. The previous record before that was the $10 million guarantee between Jon Singleton and the Houston Astros in 2014.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May listens in Parliament, in London
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May listens in Parliament, in London, Britain March 20, 2019, in this screen grab taken from video. Reuters TV via REUTERS

March 20, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday she deeply regretted her decision to seek a Brexit extension from the European Union and she urged lawmakers, who have twice previously rejected her plan, to back her now.

“This delay is a matter of great personal regret for me,” May said in a statement delivered in her Downing Street residence.

“I passionately hope that (lawmakers) will find a way to back the deal I have negotiated with the EU, a deal that delivers on the referendum and is the very best deal negotiable, and I will continue to work night and day to secure the support” for the deal.

“But I am not prepared to delay Brexit any further than the 30th of June,” she said.

Earlier on Wednesday, May asked the EU to allow Britain to delay its departure date by three months to June 30, and EU leaders are expected to discuss the matter at a summit on Thursday.

(Reporting by William Schomberg, Andrew MacAskill in London; editing by Elisabeth O’Leary)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: 2019 World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos
FILE PHOTO: Roberto Azevedo, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 24, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

March 20, 2019

By Ana Mano

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil’s agreement with the United States to forgo special treatment by the World Trade Organization (WTO) would apply only to future negotiations within the multilateral trade body, Director General Roberto Azevedo said on Wednesday.

For example, Brazil’s self-defined status as a “developing” country has allowed it to subsidize up to 10 percent of its agricultural output, whereas the limit for “developed” nations is 5 percent, Azevedo said.

That would not change with Brazil’s potential new status, he said at a foreign trade seminar, because the plan to forgo the special WTO status would not affect prior agreements.

After a White House meeting on Tuesday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and U.S. President Donald Trump said in a joint statement that Brazil had agreed to begin a process to relinquish special and differential treatment in WTO negotiations, in line with a U.S. proposal. In return, the United States would back Brazil’s bid to become a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a forum for rich nations.

“The proposal would only concern future negotiations and whether countries would benefit or request differentiated treatment in WTO talks,” Azevedo said.

Azevedo said the United States has proposed new criteria to differentiate among a range of countries in the “developing” category, which includes major economies such as Brazil and China along with smaller nations such as Guatemala and Honduras.

According to Azevedo, such criteria could include whether a country is a member of the OECD or the G20 group of nations, and whether its participation in total global trade exceeds 0.5 percent.

(Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Richard Chang)

Source: OANN

The logo of U.S. memory chip maker MicronTechnology is pictured at their booth at an industrial fair in Frankfurt
The logo of U.S. memory chip maker MicronTechnology is pictured at their booth at an industrial fair in Frankfurt, Germany, July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

March 20, 2019

(Reuters) – U.S. chipmaker Micron Technology Inc beat analysts’ estimates for quarterly revenue and profit on Wednesday, getting a lift from demand for its memory chips used in data centers.

The company’s shares, which have gained about 27 percent this year, were marginally higher in choppy after-market trading.

The results come against the backdrop of a glut in the global semiconductor industry that has been triggered by waning demand for smartphones.

Chipmakers are also reeling from a prolonged trade war between the United States and China, with Micron warning in September that U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods will weigh on its financial results for as much as a year.

Micron has been looking to weather the slowdown by investing more on its next generation chips, as well as reducing output.

Net income attributable to the company fell to $1.62 billion, or $1.42 per share, in the second quarter ended Feb. 28, from $3.31 billion, or $2.67 per share, a year earlier.

Revenue fell to $5.84 billion from $7.35 billion.

Excluding items, the company earned $1.71 per share.

Analysts on average had expected Micron to report a profit of $1.67 per share and revenue of $5.82 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

(Reporting by Sayanti Chakraborty in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: U.S. acting Secretary of Defense Shanahan pauses during remarks on the proposed U.S. Space Force at a think tank in Washington
FILE PHOTO: U.S. acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan pauses during remarks on the proposed U.S. Space Force at a think tank in Washington, U.S. March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

March 20, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon Inspector General said on Wednesday that it would investigate a complaint that acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, violated ethical rules by allegedly promoting Boeing while in office.

Last week Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, filed a complaint with the Inspector General saying that Shanahan had appeared to violate the ethical rules by “promoting Boeing in the scope of his official duties at the Department of Defense (DOD) and disparaging the company’s competitors to his subordinates.”

“The Department of Defense Office of Inspector General has decided to investigate complaints we recently received that Acting Secretary Patrick Shanahan allegedly took actions to promote his former employer, Boeing, and disparage its competitors,” said Dwrena Allen, a spokeswoman for the Inspector General.

Prior to taking over as acting Pentagon chief earlier this year, he was the deputy defense secretary.

Shanahan joined Boeing in 1986 and spent more than three decades there, working on the 737 and 787 Dreamliner. He was also the president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems and worked on the Apache, Chinook and Osprey military aircraft.

“Acting Secretary Shanahan has at all times remained

committed to upholding his ethics agreement filed with the DoD,” said Lieutenant Colonel Joe Buccino, a Pentagon spokesman.

“This agreement ensures any matters pertaining to Boeing are handled by appropriate officials within the Pentagon to eliminate any perceived or actual conflict of interest issue with Boeing,” Buccino said.

During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last week, Shanahan said he would support an investigation by the Inspector General.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Source: OANN

Canada's PM Trudeau speaks during Question Period on Parliament Hill in Ottawa
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

March 20, 2019

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) – In a fresh blow to the embattled government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a legislator quit his ruling Liberal Party to sit as an independent on Wednesday after defending a former minister at the center of a political scandal.

Trudeau has been on the defensive since Feb. 7 over allegations top officials working for him leaned on former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to ensure construction firm SNC-Lavalin Group Inc avoided a corruption trial.

The political crisis threatens the government’s chances of re-election in a vote scheduled for October this year. Polls have shown that Trudeau’s Liberals could lose the vote as the damage from the scandal spreads.

The prime minister told reporters that parliamentarian Celina Caesar-Chavannes, who has publicly backed Wilson-Raybould several times and earlier this month attacked Trudeau on Twitter, had left the Liberal parliamentary caucus.

“I want to thank her for her service to the Liberal Party and to her constituents and wish her the best,” Trudeau said in brief remarks.

Caesar-Chavannes, who represents a parliamentary constituency in the province of Ontario, had already announced she would not run again in this October’s federal election.

Although her departure has little immediate political effect – the Liberals still have a majority in the House of Commons – it underlines the staying power of an affair that has already cost Trudeau two high-profile female cabinet ministers, his closest aide and the head of the federal bureaucracy.

It is also awkward for a prime minister who came to power in late 2015 promising to boost the role of women in politics.

The office of Caesar-Chavannes was not immediately available for comment.

The legislator told the Globe and Mail newspaper earlier this month that Trudeau had shouted at her after she called him to say she would not contest her seat in this year’s election.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Nick Carey)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Tennis: BNP Paribas Open-Day 9
FILE PHOTO: Mar 12, 2019; Indian Wells, CA, USA; Naomi Osaka (JPN) reacts after being defeated in her fourth round match against Belinda Bencic (not pictured) in the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

March 20, 2019

By Steve Keating

MIAMI (Reuters) – World number one Naomi Osaka arrived at the Miami Open on Wednesday to face questions about a multi-million dollar lawsuit for allegedly failing to honor a contract with a former coach.

According to the lawsuit filed in Florida’s state court on Feb. 7 and seen by Reuters, Christophe Jean says he began coaching Osaka and older sister Mari in 2011.

Jean says he entered into a services contract with their father Francois in March 2012 that would pay him 20 percent of Osaka’s future earnings.

Osaka’s attorney Alex Spiro described the lawsuit as a “false claim” that has no merit.

Osaka, who has enjoyed a meteoric rise and won the last two grand slams to reach number one in the world, has career earnings of $10.8 million and has made millions more in endorsements.

Jean says that he signed a contract that would pay him a share of Osaka’s future earnings as her family were unable to pay the going rate for coaching.

Asked about the lawsuit during her pre-tournament news conference Osaka, who grew up less than three miles from Hard Rock Stadium, the new home of the Miami Open, said: “I’m not allowed to say anything. I am unable to make a comment.”

Spiro, however, said Jean was an opportunist looking to cash in.

“While it comes as no surprise that Naomi’s meteoric rise as an international icon and inspiration would lead to some false claim, this silly “contract” that Naomi never saw or signed — which purports to give away part of herself at the age of 14 — is particularly absurd,” Spiro told Reuters in an email. “This case has no merit and we will move past it.”

The 21-year-old U.S.-based Japanese player raised eyebrows last month when she announced she was parting with coach Sascha Bajin, who guided her to the Australian and U.S. Open titles.

That split, however, appeared amicable with both Osaka and Bajin wishing each other the best for the future.

(Additional reporting by Jack Tarrant in Tokyo and Frank Pingue in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Patrick Pouyanne, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Total, attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos
FILE PHOTO: Patrick Pouyanne, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Total, attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

March 20, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – The board of French oil and gas major Total has proposed to keep Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne’s 2018 compensation at 3.1 million euros ($3.55 million) compared with 3.8 million in 2017, company documents showed on Wednesday.

The total pay includes 1.4 million euros in fixed compensation, same level as 2017, and 1.72 million in annual variable compensation, compared with 2.4 million in 2017, and 69,000 in other benefits, the documents showed.

(Reporting by Bate Felix; editing by Leigh Thomas)

Source: OANN

Walmart's logo is seen outside one of the stores in Chicago
Walmart’s logo is seen outside one of the stores in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

March 20, 2019

By Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Walmart Inc. Chief Technology Officer Jeremy King is leaving the company, according to an internal company memo, even as the retailer races to transform its e-commerce business and close the gap with rival Amazon.com Inc.

King, who joined the company in 2011, led a revamp of Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce technology platform by making it faster, more competitive and customer-friendly, all of which have been key to the retailer’s fight against its e-commerce rivals.

Under King, Walmart integrated its massive stores and online systems and began offering shoppers services such as in-store pickup of online orders, easy returns and online grocery pickup, among other benefits.  

King also led the company’s technology arm, Walmart Labs, through more than 10 acquisitions and was key in moving the company’s operations to the cloud, which gave the retailer more resources to compete with Amazon. He also oversaw the opening of four new tech offices.

In the past two years, King oversaw the tech transformation of Walmart’s roughly 4,700 U.S. stores.

Fiona Tan, senior vice-president of customer technology, Walmart Labs, will take on more responsibility as King’s replacement is found. She has been asked to become a liaison for the technology team, Walmart U.S. and the U.S. ecommerce leadership team, according to the memo, a copy of which Reuters has seen.

King’s departure comes at a time when Walmart is in the middle of making massive investments in its e-commerce business to compete more effectively. In February, the company said it expects its e-commerce losses to increase this year due to ongoing investments and it is focused on increasing return customer visits and strengthening its online product assortment.

The retailer’s ecommerce success has been erratic over the years but sales growth in the past few quarters has shown signs of consistency.

In the most recent quarter, online sales grew 43 percent and matched the previous quarter’s increase. The company credited that to a broader assortment of goods on its website and improved delivery, as well as store pickup of online grocery orders.

“The operational decisions made during (King’s) time were key to the success of our technology team and led to more agile ways of working,” said the memo sent on Wednesday to Walmart staff by U.S. Chief Executive Greg Foran and U.S. e-commerce chief Marc Lore.

“During Jeremy’s tenure, we created important relationships with Microsoft, Google, NVIDIA and others that will help carry our digital transformation well into the future,” the memo said.

It was not immediately clear what King intends to do once he leaves the retailer. His last day with the company will be March 29, according to the memo.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Actor Bill Murray recites his words during a performance with cellist Jan Vogler from their new album New Worlds, at the Southbank Centre in London
FILE PHOTO: Actor Bill Murray recites his words during a performance with cellist Jan Vogler from their new album New Worlds, at the Southbank Centre in London, Britain June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

March 20, 2019

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. horse racing announcer Dave Johnson, who called Triple Crown races for ABC television for two decades, on Wednesday sued the makers of Bill Murray’s 2014 film “St. Vincent” for using his signature phrase “and down the stretch they come” without permission.

Johnson, 77, a Manhattan resident, accused the film’s distributor Weinstein Co, the producers Chernin Entertainment and Crescendo Productions and other defendants of infringing his 2012 trademark in the phrase, one of the most recognizable in American sports.

The lawsuit does not name Murray as a defendant.

Murray’s character Vincent MacKenna, a grumpy retiree who drank and gambled, used the phrase “in the context of a race and in a clear attempt to imitate” Johnson, the complaint said.

Johnson said this would likely confuse the public, tarnishing his rights to a phrase “inextricably linked” with his celebrity persona, likeness and identity.

The lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court seeks unspecified damages. “St. Vincent” grossed $54.8 million worldwide, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.

A lawyer for the defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“‘And down the stretch they come’ embodies all that is good about thoroughbred racing,” Johnson’s lawyer Andrew Mollica said in a phone interview. “Mr. Johnson owns that mark. If the defendants are going to put it in a major motion picture that earned $54 million, they had a duty to seek his permission.”

Johnson’s use of the phrase involves emphasizing the word “down” as horses turn into the homestretch of a race.

In 2015, Johnson told The New York Times he began using the phrase in the 1960s, and gave it more verve when calling races at Santa Anita Park in California to combat an ancient sound system.

The lawsuit references other trademarked signature sports phrases, including late baseball broadcaster Harry Caray’s “Holy Cow!”, basketball broadcaster Dick Vitale’s “awesome baby” and boxing and wrestling announcer Michael Buffer’s “Let’s get ready to rumble!”

Johnson stopped calling the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes for ABC Television when the races moved to NBC in 2001.

Asked why Johnson did not sue over “St. Vincent” sooner, Mollica said: “Mr. Johnson did not see the movie, and I’m afraid I did not either.”

“When we knew, we moved,” he added.

The case is Johnson et al v Chernin Group LLC et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 18-02485.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Nick Carey)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: India's Border Security Force soldiers patrol along the fenced border with Pakistan in Ranbir Singh Pura sector
FILE PHOTO: India’s Border Security Force soldiers patrol along the fenced border with Pakistan in the Ranbir Singh Pura sector near Jammu February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Mukesh Gupta/File Photo

March 20, 2019

By Jonathan Landay

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States remains concerned about India-Pakistan tensions as the two nuclear-armed countries’ militaries remain on alert despite some de-escalation in the region, a senior U.S. administration official said on Wednesday.

“We do still see the militaries on alert and so we realize if there, God forbid, would be another terrorist attack, then you could quickly see escalation in the situation once again,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

Tensions between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region, which both claim, make the area one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints.

The simmering dispute erupted into conflict late last month when Indian and Pakistani warplanes engaged in a dogfight over Kashmir on Feb. 27, a day after a raid by Indian jet fighters on what it said was a militant camp in Pakistan. Islamabad denied any militant camp exists in the area, and said the Indian bombs exploded on an empty hillside.

In their first such clash since the last war between the two nations in 1971, Pakistan downed an Indian plane and captured its pilot after he ejected in the Pakistan-controlled section of Kashmir.

(Reporting by Jonathan Landay; writing by Doina Chiacu; editing by David Alexander and Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Joe Biden speaks to fire fighters in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Former Vice President Joe Biden poses for a selfie after addressing the International Association of Fire Fighters in Washington, U.S., March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

March 20, 2019

By Ginger Gibson and James Oliphant

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former Vice President Joe Biden has begun building a presidential campaign ahead of an expected announcement next month that he will vie for the Democratic nomination in 2020, sources familiar with his plans said on Wednesday.

Biden has told supporters and former staff that he will run, according to one source who has knowledge of discussions. Biden and his aides also have reached out to donors and potential bundlers – people who volunteer to raise money on behalf of the candidate – to assess support, according to another source.

A third source with direct knowledge of Biden’s plans offered a caveat, saying the former vice president was very close to running, but “it’s not 100 percent.”

“We’re leaning into that moment” when Biden gives the green light, the source said. Biden, the source said, feels “a very strong sense of responsibility to make sure Donald Trump is not president for a second term.”

The sources asked to remain anonymous because of the confidential nature of the ongoing discussions.

Biden all but gave away his plans last weekend when he spoke at a fundraiser in his home state of Delaware. After referring to himself as part of the field of presidential hopefuls, he corrected himself, saying instead that he could run.

An official bid by Biden could profoundly shake up the sprawling Democratic field, with more than a dozen candidates already seeking to challenge President Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee.

After 36 years in the U.S. Senate and eight years as vice president under former President Barack Obama, Biden will position himself as the Democratic standard bearer for a party that has moved more to the left than the last time his name appeared alone on a ballot.

Public opinion polls have him as an early favorite, with nearly every measure of early support showing him leading.

But he also will enter the race as Democrats debate the future of the party, with some calling for a fresh-faced liberal to move the party forward and others hoping for a centrist who can heal national divisions. At 76, Biden will be the second oldest candidate in the Democratic primary, after Senator Bernie Sanders. Biden made two unsuccessful bids for the Democratic presidential nomination, in 1988 and 2008.

Waiting until after March 31 to announce his bid will allow Biden to avoid an April 15 deadline for candidates to submit fundraising disclosures about how much money they have raised so far.

If Biden does jump into the race in the final days of March, he would be behind those who have already posted large fundraising totals, like Sanders and former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke, who each raised about $6 million their first day in the contest.

The delay in launching also could be to allow Biden time to secure staff.

Mark Putnam, a Democratic advertising and video maker who worked for Obama and several of last year’s successful congressional candidates, was seen last weekend surveying scenes outside Biden’s childhood home in Scranton, Pennsylvania, according to the political news website Politico. He would be a top-tier hire for Biden.

Putnam crafted an ad for the unsuccessful “Draft Biden” movement that tried to convince Biden to run in 2016. His office did not respond to a request for comment about whether he is working for Biden now.

(Reporting by Ginger Gibson and James Oliphant; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Leslie Adler)

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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a news conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim, in Baghdad
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a news conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim, in Baghdad, Iraq March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Khalid Al-Mousily

March 20, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – Iran will overcome “inhumane and illegal” U.S. sanctions in the new Iranian year by expanding ties with nations equally tired of “bullying” by the United States, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Wednesday on Twitter.

“We rely solely on our own people to overcome any challenges, but we also welcome constructive engagement, including with the expanding array of nations who are equally sick and tired of the bullying of the U.S.,” Zarif said on his Twitter feed.

(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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Mohamed Tahir Ayala is sworn in as prime minister in front of Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir during a swearing in ceremony in Khartoum
Mohamed Tahir Ayala is sworn in as prime minister in front of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir during a swearing in ceremony of new officials after Bashir dissolved the central and state governments in Khartoum, Sudan February 24, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

March 20, 2019

CAIRO (Reuters) – Sudan’s Prime Minister Mohamed Tahir Ayala dissolved the state-owned Sudanese Petroleum Corporation and dismissed its secretary general, Azhari Ibrahim Bassbar, state news agency SUNA said on Wednesday.

Ayala ordered all the corporation’s assets, documents and employees be transferred to the oil ministry, SUNA said, without giving a reason for the move.

The Sudanese Petroleum Corporation was responsible for importing petroleum to Sudan and distributing it domestically.

(Reporting by Hesham Hajali and Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Yousef Saba; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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U.S. President Trump and Brazilian President Bolsonaro hold news conference at the White House in Washington
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro listens to U.S. President Donald Trump during a joint news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

March 20, 2019

By Lisandra Paraguassu and Anthony Boadle

WASHINGTON/BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro won glowing praise and conditional promises from U.S. President Donald Trump on his visit to the White House this week, yet Brazilian negotiators came away grumbling about their hosts driving a hard bargain.

Diplomats and other officials said Brazil got few immediate concessions in return for granting a unilateral visa waiver for U.S. visitors, a tariff-free quota for wheat imports and easier access for U.S. space launches from Brazil.

Bolsonaro, an outspoken Trump admirer who seemed eager to please at their first meeting, failed to win more room for Brazil’s sugar exports or overturn a U.S. ban on fresh Brazilian beef – both major objectives of the country’s farm sector.

“If this is the way forward, we might as well stay put,” said a Brazilian official directly involved in the negotiations, who requested anonymity to speak freely. “They asked for everything, but didn’t want to cede on anything.”

Reactions among Brazilians focused largely on the symbolism of the visit, with Bolsonaro supporters calling it a vindication for the iconoclastic leader and critics cringing to see him so cozy with Trump.

Yet the frustration of the Brazilian delegation reflects the deeper difficulty of overcoming trade barriers and agribusiness competition between the two countries, even as their presidents find common ground in their brash style and conservative views.

Bolsonaro celebrated his visit as the start of a new era of U.S.-Brazil friendship, playing up his admiration of Trump and their shared disdain for political correctness and “fake news,” as they often call unfavorable press coverage.

The presidents also found common ground in condemning Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and cooperating on public security and military development. Designating Brazil a “major non-NATO ally” will ease U.S. arms sales to the Brazilian armed forces, while a new technology safeguard agreement will help U.S. companies to conduct commercial space launches in Brazil.

However, in more transactional areas such as trade, the Brazilians’ goodwill offerings, such as an annual import quota of 750,000 tonnes of tariff-free wheat, were not met in kind.

“If this reciprocity does not occur, Bolsonaro’s preference for the U.S. will look naive in the future,” said Welber Barral, a former Brazilian foreign trade secretary.

Brazil’s new openness to wheat imports will mainly benefit U.S. exporters and was a slap in the face to neighboring Argentina, another major trade partner, Barral said.

He also warned that Brazil stands to face more setbacks on trade if it gives up the benefits of “developing country” status at the World Trade Organization (WTO) — the U.S. condition for supporting Brazil’s bid to join the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a policy forum for wealthier nations.

That conditional endorsement — concrete WTO concessions in return for symbolic OECD membership — left Brazilian Economy Minister Paulo Guedes visibly annoyed after his meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

“That’s no exchange. He’s making that demand,” he told journalists.

Addressing an audience at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday, Guedes also gave a hint of the sticking points that stood in the way of broader trade agreements.

“You want to sell pork? Okay, buy my beef. You want to sell ethanol? Buy my sugar. Beef for pork, ethanol for sugar, wheat for auto parts. They’re little things,” he said.

None of the exchanges he suggested were formalized in talks.

Guedes reminded the audience that China, Brazil’s top trading partner, would be ready to pick up the slack if the United States did not engage.

“They are moving in, trying to invest,” Guedes warned.

(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu and Anthony Boadle, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Powell holds news conference following two-day policy meeting in Washington
U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell holds a news conference following the two-day Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) policy meeting in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

March 20, 2019

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve held interest rates steady on Wednesday and its policymakers abandoned projections for further rate hikes this year as the U.S. central bank flagged an expected slowdown in the economy.

In a major shift in its perspective, the Fed also now expects to raise borrowing costs only once more through 2021, and no longer anticipates the need to guard against inflation with restrictive monetary policy.

Market reaction:

Stocks: The S&P 500 reversed losses to turn 0.3 percent higher. The Dow turned 0.1 percent higher. Bonds: The 10-year U.S. Treasury note yield fell to 2.5405 percent and the 2-year yield fell to 2.4003 percent.

Forex: The dollar index reversed slight gains and was off 0.63 percent.

Comments:

Brian Jacobsen, senior investment strategist, Wells Fargo Asset Management, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

“I didn’t think they’d do it, but they came across as more dovish than what was expected. Wrapping up the balance sheet run-off by the end of September rather than the end of December was the biggest surprise. Beginning in October they will keep allowing the MBSs to run-off, but replace them with Treasuries. There was also more consensus on ‘no hikes for 2019’ than I thought there would be.

“While the ECB’s dovish tilt was taken as a bearish omen for the Eurozone economy, the Fed’s dovish tilt is viewed as much more bullish. The key difference was in the messaging. The ECB’s was couched in terms of weakness. The Fed’s is couched in terms of caution.”

Danielle Hale, chief economist, Realtor.com, Washington

“It’s no surprise that the Fed decided to hold rates steady today, given its January pledge of taking a patient approach to reviewing data and making interest rate decisions. But today’s meeting also gives us clues about the road ahead for mortgage rates, which are influenced by both short-term rates and the longer-term economic outlook. Despite current short term rate increases, recent economic forecasts have been less certain, which has caused mortgage rates to slip recently.

“With today’s downgrade of the forecast for 2019 and 2020 from the Fed and lowered expectations for the median Fed Funds rate in this time, we expect this trend to continue with steadiness or even further potential declines in mortgage rates. While a plus for home buyers, if concerns about the economic outlook rattle consumer and home buyer confidence, it could offset the benefit of lower mortgage rates.”

Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser, Allianz, Newport Beach, California

“The Federal Reserve continued its move to a significantly more dovish policy stance, delivering to bullish investors exactly what they were hoping and betting for in terms of the outlook for interest rates and balance sheet.”

Doug Ramsey, chief investment officer, Leuthold Group, Minneapolis, Minnesota

“It sounded like to me as if I were listening to the (European Central Bank.) I had to read the Fed statement twice. It was a surprise. I think we are on the cusp of that – Does the Fed know something we don’t? What I found most interesting is more of the change in tone than substance by the Fed at this point. We are cautious on the stock market and moderately bullish on the bond market. We continue to forecast an economic slowdown. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a rate cut later this year – around the fourth quarter. And I wouldn’t necessarily take that as a bullish thing.”  

Peter Cardillo, chief market economist, Spartan Capital Securities, New York

“It’s very dovish, obviously. They talked about the balance sheet (reductions)… and it does appear now they have abandoned raising rates for the remainder of the year. But that came also with lower economic activity, not by much, but they lowered some of their forecasts. Basically, this should be positive for stocks and hard assets as well.

“If rates go down, it’s less of a headwind for stocks. It doesn’t mean we’ll turn into a super bull market.”

Andre Bakhos, managing director, New Vines Capital LLC, Bernardsville, New Jersey

“The markets are viewing the fact that there will be no more rate hikes this year positively and it creates a risk-on scenario and if we can get a trade deal done in this stabilizing environment it could set up very nicely down the line.

“The markets have rallied very strongly on the news and that type of strong move is indicative of a sigh of relief and what one would deem as the best case scenario. In other words, a slowing economy is good as it keeps rates low, it shows that we can have growth even though the economy is slowing down and that helps markets.”

“This is going to create a good trading environment, and net-on-net this is a sigh of relief for traders and something the markets could focus on in the nearer term while we wait for a better visibility in China.”

Leslie Falconio, senior strategist, UBS Global Wealth Management’s Chief Investment Office, New York

“We anticipated the Fed removing one dot in 2019 and leaving one dot. They’ve removed both hikes in 2019. They’ve removed two hikes in 2020, leaving only one hike. That’s a bit dovish which is pushing yields down.

“They came out a bit more dovish than what the market was anticipating and what we were anticipating. The yield curve is therefore steepening. The long end is underperforming a little in Treasuries. When it comes to the balance sheet, although we were anticipating for the balance sheet (runoff) to cease we needed confirmation for exactly when they’d do that.”

“The market had already priced that the fed wouldn’t raise this year. That’s why you’re not getting as big a move. The market was right. It was pricing out two hikes this year and from what the Fed gave us the market was correct.”

Luke Tilley, chief economist, Wilmington Trust, Wilmington, Delaware

“The Fed moved in a much more dovish direction than anticipated on the rate hikes. That should be pretty supportive to the market. The action on the balance sheet is also supportive of markets.”

“We are not concerned that the Fed has downgraded its GDP forecast. Our forecast has been about 2 percent growth for 2019 for quite some time, so the Fed is coming down closer to our expectation. The dovishness on rates is less about anticipated growth and more about the fact that we simply don’t have any signs of inflation picking up.”

Chuck tomes, associate portfolio manager, Manulife Asset Management, Boston

“Overall it seems the Fed was able to solidify their dovish view as there are no rate hikes priced in for this year and only one rate hike for 2020. That was more dovish than people were expecting at the margin, even though the market was looking for a dovish Fed today.

“The dollar has come under pressure against a large number of currencies around the world.”   

Josh Bivens, director of research, the Economic Policy Institute, Washington, D.C.

“This is a welcome pause from the too-regular increases of the past couple of years. It is also a pause warranted by the economic data. There are clear signs that past rate increases are slowing spending growth through traditional transmission channels – slower residential investment growth and lower net exports – and 2019 will see the fiscal boost from tax cuts and higher spending levels fade rapidly. While wage growth is clearly healthier in recent years, productivity has also staged what looks increasingly like a durable, if unspectacular, rebound. This productivity rebound has helped keep price inflation firmly within – or even under – the Fed’s long-run targets. At this point, the key challenge facing the Fed in coming years is likely not going to be how to keep inflation in check, instead it will be how to keep the recovery going as long as possible to let workers finally eke out some significant gains. Indications that the Fed is unlikely to raise rates this year suggest they realize this.” 

Gennadiy Goldberg, interest rate strategist, TD Securities, New York

“It’s fairly dovish I’d say, given that there were 11 dots going to zero hikes in 2019, which is certainly quite a move lower. The fact that they’ve announced balance sheet runoff ending I think is certainly quite dovish as well. In a sense I think this is quite a bit more dovish than the market was priced for and that’s why you’re seeing Treasuries rally and equities rally as well. I think the expectation in the markets was a lowering to one dot. I think that was really the consensus and the fact that we’ve had 11 at zero, so effectively no hikes this year, sends a pretty dovish signal to the market.”

Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst, Western Union Business Solutions, Washington

“The Fed exceeded markets’ dovish expectations which took a toll on the greenback. The Fed did a big about-face on policy. The fact that the Fed threw in the towel on a 2019 rate hike was particularly dovish. Still, with the Fed erring more on supporting growth, it could reduce the chance of a rate cut in the months ahead. As for the timing on the end of balance sheet normalization, September is the early side of expectations.”

Evan Brown, head of macro asset allocation strategy, UBS Asset Management, New York

“It definitely skewed on the dovish side of expectations. The main surprise is that the Fed projects zero hikes in 2019. Whereas our broad expectation, and the expectation of consensus, was for them to leave in at least one hike in 2019. So, they’re effectively saying they’re done for the year.

“There’s one hike projected for 2020 but there’s a long time between now and then and so the market is effectively taking the view that the Fed is done tightening.  

“The balance sheet rolloff information is coming in in line with expectations. The main surprise is having no hikes in 2019 for the median dot projection – and there was a surprisingly high number of FOMC members who were in favor of that.”

Walter Todd, chief investment officer, Greenwood Capital, Greenwood, South Carolina

“The market had already priced in no hikes for 2019, but the Fed kind of validated that with the dots. That’s somewhat significant. The clarification on when they are going to end the balance sheet, maybe that was sooner than people anticipated, end of September. That’s the two things that the market is maybe reacting to at this point.”

(Americas Economics and Markets Desk; +1-646 223-6300)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Lewis Hamilton in action during practice for the Australian Grand Prix
FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 – Australian Grand Prix – Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia – March 15, 2019 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action during practice REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

March 20, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – Five times world champion Lewis Hamilton did a fantastic job in getting his damaged car to the finish of Formula One’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Mercedes’ chief strategist James Vowles said on Wednesday.

The five times world champion started on pole position but finished second in Melbourne last Sunday after Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas seized the lead off the line and went on to win by 20 seconds.

Mercedes said after the race that part of the floor on Hamilton’s car was missing, with Vowles providing more detail on the team website.

“On inspection of Lewis’s car after the race, we noticed some damage over what we call the tyre seal area,” he said.

“That area is quite sensitive aerodynamically; it’s both for downforce and also for balance of the car. And we believe we sustained it during the course of the race while riding over some of the kerbs.”

Vowles said Hamilton’s progress during the race was also hindered by having to manage the tyres significantly after an early pitstop to cover the threat posed by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

“That floor damage wouldn’t have helped,” he said. “It would have caused the rear to be more unstable than it normally would be, and he did a fantastic job bringing that car to the end of the race.”

Vowles praised Bottas for being “on it all weekend”, with a perfect start and then leaving enough tyre performance to set the fastest lap.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by David Goodman)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A Citibank sign on bank branch in midtown Manhattan in New York
FILE PHOTO: A Citibank sign on a bank branch in midtown Manhattan, New York, November 17, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Segar

March 20, 2019

By Mayela Armas and Corina Pons

CARACAS (Reuters) – Citigroup Inc plans to sell several tons of gold placed as collateral by Venezuela’s central bank on a $1.6 billion loan after the deadline for repurchasing them expired this month, sources said, a setback for President Nicolas Maduro’s efforts to hold onto the country’s fast-shrinking reserves.

Maduro’s government has since 2014 used financial operations known as gold swaps to use its international reserves to gain access to cash after a slump in oil revenues left it struggling to obtain hard currency.

In the past two years, however, it has struggled to recover its collateral.

Under the terms of the 2015 deal with Citigroup’s Citibank, Venezuela was due to repay $1.1 billion of the loan on March 11, according to four sources familiar with the situation. The remainder of the loan comes due next year.

Citibank plans to sell the gold held as a guarantee – which has a market value of roughly $1.358 billion – to recover the first tranche of the loan and will deposit the excess of roughly $258 million in a bank account in New York, two of the sources said.

The ability of Maduro’s government to repay the loans have been complicated by the South American country’s dire economic situation as well as financial sanctions imposed by the United States and some European nations.

Most Western nations say that Maduro’s re-election to a six-year term last year was marred by fraud and have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate president.

Guaido invoked Venezuela’s constitution to announce an interim presidency in January. However, Maduro retains control over state institutions in Venezuela and has the support of the powerful military. He has branded Guaido a U.S. puppet.

With Washington’s support, Guaido’s team has taken control of state oil company PDVSA’s U.S. refining subsidiary but its attempt to negotiate a 120-day extension of the repurchase deadline for the collateral was unsuccessful, the sources said.

“Citibank was told that there was a force majeure event in Venezuela, so the grace period was necessary, but they did not grant it,” said one of the sources, who belongs to Guaido’s team.

A Venezuelan government source familiar with the matter confirmed that the country’s Central Bank did not transfer the money to Citibank this month.

Citigroup declined to comment. The Venezuelan Central Bank did not immediately respond to a request for information.

In a report presented to the U.S. securities regulator in February, Citibank said Venezuela’s Central Bank had agreed four years ago to buy back in March 2019 a “significant volume of gold” as part of a contract signed to obtain some $1.6 billion. Citibank said that, following the transaction, it owned the gold.

Guaido is attempting to freeze bank accounts and gold owned by Venezuela abroad, much of which remains in the Bank of England. At the end of 2018, the Central Bank paid investment bank Deutsche Bank AG about $700 million to recover ownership of a portion of gold used as collateral for a loan.

However, the bullion remained in the custody of the Bank of England, despite the Central Bank’s request to repatriate it. In light of that transaction, the sources said there was no incentive for the Central Bank to repay Citibank. RENEGOTIATE DEBT

Guaido’s team also began preparing this month for a possible debt restructuring in a bid to ease payments and stop any hostile action by creditors, said two sources who took part in the discussion.

In meetings between members of Guaido’s team with legal advisors in the United States, there were discussions of starting renegotiations soon not only with Venezuelan bondholders, but also with the Chinese and Russian governments and companies affected by a wave of nationalizations, said the sources.

“We want to address the debt in a comprehensive way. We calculate that it totals $200 billion,” said one of the sources.

The Citgo refinery unit, Venezuela’s main asset abroad, is under scrutiny because it serves as a guarantee for the issuance of a PDVSA bond and a loan from Russian oil company Rosneft.

Guaido’s advisers are also evaluating the payment in the coming weeks of around $72 million in interest coming due on PDVSA’s 2020 bonds to avoid any action by creditors against Citgo.

(Reporting by Corina Pons and Mayela Armas; Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A car with a Lyft logo in its window drives down a street as the company prepares for its upcoming IPO in New York
FILE PHOTO: A car with a Lyft logo in its window drives down a street as the company prepares for its upcoming IPO in New York, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

March 20, 2019

BOSTON (Reuters) – Lyft Inc executives are focused on cutting insurance costs and will phase in self-driving vehicles on simple routes first, they said at a road show for investors ahead of the ride-hailing company’s initial public offering set for next week.

Reducing insurance costs is “the number one initiative,” said Chief Financial Officer Brian Roberts at a luncheon at a Boston hotel on Wednesday for investors considering whether to buy into the closely watched IPO.

(Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Rimasauskas ahead of a verdict announcement in his extradition case at a court in Vilnius
FILE PHOTO: Evaldas Rimasauskas ahead of a verdict announcement in his extradition case at a court in Vilnius, Lithuania July 17, 2017. REUTERS/Andrius Sytas

March 20, 2019

By Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A Lithuanian man on Wednesday pleaded guilty to U.S. charges that he helped orchestrate a scheme to defraud Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google out of more than $100 million, federal prosecutors announced.

Evaldas Rimasauskas, 50, entered his plea to one count of wire fraud before U.S. District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan. He faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison at his sentencing, currently scheduled for July 24.

Rimasauskas also agreed to forfeit about $49.7 million he personally obtained from the scheme, according to a court filing.

Paul Petrus, a lawyer for Rimasauskas, said the plea spoke for itself and declined to comment further.

Rimasauskas, originally from the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, was extradited to the United States from Lithuania in August 2017.

U.S. prosecutors accused Rimasauskas and unnamed co-conspirators of bilking Google and Facebook out of more than $100 million by posing as an Asian hardware vendor and claiming that the companies owed the vendor money.

The prosecutors did not name the companies, but Taiwan-based Quanta Computer Inc confirmed after Rimasauskas’ arrest that it was the Asian vendor, and a Lithuanian court order in 2017 identified Google and Facebook as the victims.

The scheme defrauded Google out of $23 million and Facebook out of $99 million, according to that order. Prosecutors said Rimasauskas contributed to the scheme by setting up a fake company and a bank account in Latvia.

The scheme is an example of a growing type of fraud called “business email compromise,” in which fraudsters ask for money using emails targeted at companies that work with foreign suppliers or regularly make wire transfers.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said in February 2017 that losses from such scams since the agency began tracking them in 2013 totaled more than $3 billion.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

The wrecakge of a burnt out bus is seen on a road in Milan
The wreckage of a bus that was set ablaze by its driver in protest against the treatment of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, is seen on a road in Milan, Italy, March 20, 2019. Vigili del Fuoco/Handout via REUTERS

March 20, 2019

MILAN (Reuters) – A bus full of schoolchildren was hijacked and set on fire by its own driver on Wednesday in an apparent protest against migrant drownings in the Mediterranean, Italian authorities said.

All 51 children managed to escape unhurt before the bus was engulfed in flames on the outskirts of Milan, Italy’s business capital. Police named the driver as Ousseynou Sy, a 47-year-old Italian citizen of Senegalese origin.

“He shouted, ‘Stop the deaths at sea, I’ll carry out a massacre’,” police spokesman Marco Palmieri quoted Sy as telling police after his arrest.

A video posted on Italian news sites showed the driver ramming the bus into cars on a provincial highway before the fire took hold. Children can be seen running away from the vehicle screaming and shouting “escape”.

One of the children told reporters that the driver had threatened to pour petrol over them and set them alight. One of group managed to call the police, who rushed to the scene and broke the bus windows to get everyone to safety.

Palmieri said some children were taken to hospital as a precautionary measure because they had bruises or were in a state of shock, but none suffered serious injuries.

A teacher who was with the middle school children was quoted by Ansa news agency as saying that the driver had said he wanted to get to the runway at Milan’s Linate airport.

An unnamed girl was also quoted as saying that Sy blamed deputy prime ministers Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio for the deaths of African migrants at sea.

The United Nations estimates that some 2,297 migrants drowned or went missing in the Mediterranean in 2018 as they tried to reach Europe.

A Libyan security official said on Tuesday that at least 10 migrants died when their boat sank off the Libyan coast near the western town of Sabratha.

The Italian government has closed its ports to charity rescue ships that pick up migrants off the Libyan coast. Salvini says this has helped reduce deaths because far fewer people are now putting to sea.

Human rights groups say deaths might have increased with hardly any boats now searching for the would-be refugees.

(Reporting by Sara Rossi and Crispian Balmer; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Source: OANN

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands as they deliver joint statements during their meeting in Jerusalem
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands as they deliver joint statements during their meeting in Jerusalem March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Young/Pool

March 20, 2019

By Jeffrey Heller

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showcased his close relationship with the Trump administration on Wednesday, hosting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo three weeks before an Israeli election.

Washington’s announcement that President Donald Trump, a popular figure among Israelis, had invited Netanyahu to the White House for talks and a dinner two weeks ahead of the April 9 vote was also widely seen in Israel as a boost for the right-wing Likud party chief.

Following a visit to Kuwait, Pompeo met Netanyahu in Jerusalem, where both men hailed U.S.-Israeli ties under Trump, a popular figure among Israelis and a leader whom the prime minister has featured on election billboards.

“We also know that our alliance in recent years has never been stronger,” Netanyahu said in comments to reporters, with Pompeo at his side.

Netanyahu is battling for his political survival against both a strong challenger in centrist candidate Benny Gantz and against plans by Israel’s attorney-general to indict the prime minister, now in his fourth term, in three corruption cases.

Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing and portrayed himself in the election race as a leader with a wealth of international diplomatic experience that Gantz, a former armed forces chief and novice politician, cannot match.

“I look forward to my visit next week to Washington, where I will meet with President Trump, and I believe we can carry this relationship even stronger,” Netanyahu said. “It’s getting stronger and stronger and stronger.”

Angering Palestinians and drawing international concern, Trump broke with decades of U.S. Middle East policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017 and moving the American Embassy, which Pompeo will visit on Thursday, to the city last May.

Pompeo, in his remarks, said the Israeli people should have confidence that Trump – who is due to present a peace plan after the Israeli ballot – will maintain a “close bond” with Israel.

“I know that you and the president have an outstanding working relationship,” Pompeo said, addressing Netanyahu. “He sent me here to build upon that and to represent him here.”

Netanyahu said he and Pompeo, at the start of their discussions, examined how to “roll back Iranian aggression” in the region.

Pressure on Iran, Netanyahu said, must be intensified now that the United States has reimposed sanctions on Tehran following Washington’s withdrawal from a 2015 deal with world powers to limit the Iranian nuclear program.

Pompeo and Netanyahu later attended a meeting in Jerusalem with leaders from Cyprus and Greece on the construction of a 2,000 km (1,243 mile) gas pipeline linking vast eastern Mediterranean gas resources to Europe through those countries and Italy at a cost of $7 billion.

Lebanon – Pompeo’s next stop – has warned its Mediterranean neighbors that the planned EastMed pipeline must not be allowed to violate its maritime borders.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Men in construction hats are seen aboard Chevron's Petronius oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico
FILE PHOTO: Men in construction hats are seen aboard Chevron’s Petronius oil platform, located 100 miles (161 km) off the coast of New Orleans, in the Gulf of Mexico June 3, 2008. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

March 20, 2019

By Nichola Groom

(Reuters) – The Trump administration’s fourth major auction for oil and gas leases in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico received $244 million in high bids on Wednesday, reflecting an uptick in interest from drillers attracted to the region’s low prices.

Of the 78.5 million acres (31.77 million hectares) offered, companies submitted bids on 1.26 million acres, or about 1.6 percent of the total, an increase from two sales last year when about 1 percent of acreage offered received bids.

“We’re on a positive slope,” Mike Celata, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s regional director for the Gulf of Mexico, said on a conference call with reporters.

Despite the higher revenue and acreage, the price per acre was below that of the last sale held in August, about $193 an acre compared with $222 an acre.

“We saw a modest increase in overall spend, but it was outpaced by the increase in acreage leading to lower amount per acre, furthering our hypothesis that it is a buyer’s market in the Gulf of Mexico,” William Turner, senior research analyst at Wood Mackenzie, said in a statement.

High bids of $244.3 million were higher than the 2018 sales but were still far short of the revenue generated by Central Gulf sales between 2013 and 2015, which ranged from $538 million to $1.2 billion.

Oil major Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Norway’s Equinor were among the winning bidders, with Shell taking 87 tracts, BOEM said. Equinor had the highest bid of nearly $24.5 million for a single tract.

Of the 227 tracts that received bids, 213 has been previously leased but were released back to the government since 2014 when the price of oil <CLc1> dropped.

“What you are seeing is companies looking at prospects that had been identified in the past and deciding it was time to pick up some more acreage,” Celata said.

The outcome of the lease sale was the latest signal from the industry about their interest in U.S. waters as President Donald Trump’s Interior Department prepares to release a long-awaited proposal to expand offshore drilling, possibly to new areas of the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic.

Offshore drilling is a crucial part of the Trump administration’s “energy dominance” agenda to open up more federal land and waters to energy exploration.

But most of the recent U.S. boom in oil production has been focused onshore, where it is cheaper to drill than in deepwater.

(Reporting by Nichola Groom; editing by Marguerita Choy and Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Part of Uljanik shipyard is seen in Pula
FILE PHOTO: Part of Uljanik shipyard is seen in Pula, Croatia, August 20, 2018. Picture taken August 20, 2018. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic

March 20, 2019

ZAGREB (Reuters) – Croatia will decide in coming days whether to place troubled shipbuilder Uljanik into bankruptcy or try to restructure the business at a cost to the state of around one billion euros, a top official said on Wednesday.

Last month Uljanik, the country’s largest shipbuilder, chose local rival Brodosplit as a strategic partner to restructure its operations, with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri acting as an adviser in the process.

“The restructuring would cost us 1.009 billion euros ($1.15 billion), while bankruptcy would cost us 557 million euros,” Branko Bacic, a leading official of the biggest party in the ruling coalition, the conservative HDZ, said after a meeting of the ruling conservative-liberal coalition.

“Now we know the figures, but given the significance of the issue not just for Uljanik, but for our shipbuilding industry as a whole, we took a few days more for a decision,” he said.

Uljanik, which owns two shipyards in the northern Adriatic cities of Pula and Rijeka and is 25 percent owned by the state, has been working to stave off bankruptcy due to liquidity problems that began in 2017. Workers staged strikes twice last year over unpaid wages.

The latest difficulties for the government arose when it became clear that restructuring costs might reach two percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

Some analysts believe that shipbuilding no longer holds strategic importance for Croatia, meaning further state funding to save the dock would be the wrong economic choice.

Economy Minister Darko Horvat said on Wednesday that despite the lower initial cost of bankruptcy, it was debatable which option was more favorable in the long run.

The government has already paid out 3.1 billion kuna ($474.57 million) on the basis of state guarantees extended in previous years to help Uljanik stay afloat, driving the general budget into deficit in 2018.

Sound public finances and lower public debt, which is currently just below 75 percent of gross domestic product, are important to Croatia’s drive to adopt the euro in the next four to five years.

Croatia’s once-prosperous shipbuilding industry has struggled since the collapse of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, losing business to competitors, particularly in South Korea and other Asian nations.

Croatia has spent more than 33 billion kuna in the past 25 years to save and then sell state-owned shipyards, but those efforts yielded little success.

(Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays
FILE PHOTO: Mar 10, 2019; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts (50) takes the field prior to a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

March 20, 2019

Reigning American League Most Valuable Player Mookie Betts said Wednesday he doesn’t expect to sign a contract extension with the Boston Red Sox.

He told Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald he’s firm that he will enter the 2019 season playing under his existing one-year, $20 million deal.

“That’s exactly what I expect,” the outfielder said. “Didn’t expect anything to happen until I’m a free agent.”

Betts confirmed to reporters he rejected an offer of eight years and $200 million following the 2017 season, first reported by Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

Betts can become a free agent after the 2020 season.

With baseball’s brightest young stars now committed to monster deals — Manny Machado (San Diego, 10 years/$300 million) Bryce Harper (Philadelphia, 13 years/$330 million) and Mike Trout (finalizing a reported 12-year, $430 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels) — Betts will command much more than $200 million if he remains on his career trajectory.

And he knows it.

“I love it here in Boston. It’s a great spot. I’ve definitely grown to love going up north in the cold,” Betts, a 26-year-old Tennessee native, told reporters. .”.. That doesn’t mean I want to sell myself short of my value.”

In 2018, Betts led the AL with a .346 batting average, a .640 slugging percentage and 129 runs. His .438 on-base percentage ranked second to Trout’s .460 mark. He displayed power and speed, hitting 32 home runs and stealing 30 bases.

In 644 career games over four-plus seasons with the Red Sox, Betts has a .303 career batting average, 110 home runs, 110 stolen bases and 390 RBIs.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Trump addresses members of U.S. military during refueling stop in Anchorage, Alaska
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump introduces U.S. Army Bronze Star recipient Sgt. Sean Rogers after calling him onstage while addressing members of the military during a refueling stop at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska, U.S., February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

March 20, 2019

By Mike Stone

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Defense is proposing to pay for President Donald Trump’s much-debated border wall by shifting funds away from projects that include $1.2 billion for schools, childcare centers and other facilities for military children, according to a list it has provided to lawmakers.

The Pentagon gave Congress a list on Monday that included $12.8 billion of construction projects for which it said funds could be redirected.

Around 10 percent of the list relates to educational establishments and includes school buildings for the children of service members in places like Germany, Japan, Kentucky and Puerto Rico.

The move comes as a surprise given the Trump administration’s oft-touted support for the sacrifices made by military families and suggests the White House’s desire to build a wall on the border with Mexico outstrips nearly all other issues.

However, of the $1.2 billion in projects related to education, approximately $800 million worth are far in the future, and those funds could readily be used for wall construction and replaced later.

The Pentagon told Congress that just because a project was listed, it “does not mean that the project will, in fact, be used” as a funding source to build sections of the border wall.

Trump earlier in March asked for $8.6 billion in his 2020 budget request to help pay for his promised wall on the U.S-Mexico border to combat illegal immigration and drug trafficking. It drew swift criticism from Democrats.

He declared a national emergency in a bid to fund the wall without congressional approval, a move that allows his administration to use money from the military construction budget, if needed.

In a tense Congressional hearing last week, Democratic senators demanded that they be provided a list of military funds that could be utilized to fund wall construction.

Military officials have vowed that they would not use any funds from military housing. A recent Reuters investigation https://reut.rs/2t1Y2UA found thousands of U.S. military families were subjected to serious health and safety hazards in on-base housing, prompting moves from lawmakers to improve landlord controls.

But elementary and middle schools on bases around the world serving military families are at risk of suffering from the funding diversion, as well as a new engineering building and parking garage at West Point, the Army’s military academy in New York state.

Joint Base Andrews, where the president’s Air Force jet is based, was slated to receive $13 million for a “Child Development Center,” but funding for that project is on the list.

The base currently has three child development centers serving the 12,000 to 14,000 active and reserve military stationed there.

(Reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by Chris Sanders and Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Trump addresses members of U.S. military during refueling stop in Anchorage, Alaska
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump introduces U.S. Army Bronze Star recipient Sgt. Sean Rogers after calling him onstage while addressing members of the military during a refueling stop at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska, U.S., February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

March 20, 2019

By Mike Stone

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Defense is proposing to pay for President Donald Trump’s much-debated border wall by shifting funds away from projects that include $1.2 billion for schools, childcare centers and other facilities for military children, according to a list it has provided to lawmakers.

The Pentagon gave Congress a list on Monday that included $12.8 billion of construction projects for which it said funds could be redirected.

Around 10 percent of the list relates to educational establishments and includes school buildings for the children of service members in places like Germany, Japan, Kentucky and Puerto Rico.

The move comes as a surprise given the Trump administration’s oft-touted support for the sacrifices made by military families and suggests the White House’s desire to build a wall on the border with Mexico outstrips nearly all other issues.

However, of the $1.2 billion in projects related to education, approximately $800 million worth are far in the future, and those funds could readily be used for wall construction and replaced later.

The Pentagon told Congress that just because a project was listed, it “does not mean that the project will, in fact, be used” as a funding source to build sections of the border wall.

Trump earlier in March asked for $8.6 billion in his 2020 budget request to help pay for his promised wall on the U.S-Mexico border to combat illegal immigration and drug trafficking. It drew swift criticism from Democrats.

He declared a national emergency in a bid to fund the wall without congressional approval, a move that allows his administration to use money from the military construction budget, if needed.

In a tense Congressional hearing last week, Democratic senators demanded that they be provided a list of military funds that could be utilized to fund wall construction.

Military officials have vowed that they would not use any funds from military housing. A recent Reuters investigation https://reut.rs/2t1Y2UA found thousands of U.S. military families were subjected to serious health and safety hazards in on-base housing, prompting moves from lawmakers to improve landlord controls.

But elementary and middle schools on bases around the world serving military families are at risk of suffering from the funding diversion, as well as a new engineering building and parking garage at West Point, the Army’s military academy in New York state.

Joint Base Andrews, where the president’s Air Force jet is based, was slated to receive $13 million for a “Child Development Center,” but funding for that project is on the list.

The base currently has three child development centers serving the 12,000 to 14,000 active and reserve military stationed there.

(Reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by Chris Sanders and Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Smoke rises from the last besieged neighborhood in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province
FILE PHOTO: Smoke rises from the last besieged neighborhood in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria, March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

March 20, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – France, one of the main contributors to the fight against Islamic State in the Middle East, has received no answers to questions about U.S. calls for it and others to help secure northeastern Syria, its foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Defence Minister Florence Parly was in Washington on Monday aiming to get details from U.S. officials over an idea to set up and observe a safe zone being negotiated for northeastern Syria.

That followed U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision in December to withdraw the bulk of his 2,000 troops in Syria after the defeat of Islamic State (IS) militants.

“Mrs Parly went to the United States to start talking to the Americans and try to get answers to various questions: If by chance the American military presence would be maintained? What would be the contours of its presence? What would be the mission? What would be the capabilities?” Le Drian said.

“We do not have these answers yet…It is on the basis of information that we don’t have yet that President (Macron) will determine the possibility of a French contribution.”

Since Trump made his announcement, advisers have convinced the U.S. president to leave about 400 U.S. troops, split between two different regions of Syria.

It wants about 200 U.S. troops to join what Washington hopes will be a total commitment of about 800 to 1,500 troops from European allies, which are to set up and observe a safe zone being negotiated for northeastern Syria.

However, the idea has met scepticism from Washington’s European allies, and foremost from France, which has 1,200 troops primarily based in providing air strikes, artillery support and training in Iraq. It also has an unspecified number of special forces in Syria.

Le Drian said Islamic State’s last Syrian pocket in Baghouz would fall imminently, but that militants were now going underground and fleeing to other countries, including Afghanistan.

“We can’t envisage abandoning those that were our best allies fighting Islamic State on the ground,” Le Drian said, referring to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

(Reporting by John Irish and Sophie Louet, Editing by William Maclean)

Source: OANN

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visits Christchurch
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attends a news conference after meeting with first responders who were at the scene of the Christchurch mosque shooting, in Christchurch, New Zealand March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su

March 20, 2019

(Reuters) – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday Foreign Minister Winston Peters will travel to Turkey to “confront” comments made by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on the killing of 50 people at mosques in Christchurch.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday after a lone gunman opened fire at the two mosques during Friday prayers.

Erdogan – who is seeking to drum up support for his Islamist-rooted AK Party in March 31 local elections – said on Tuesday Turkey would make the suspected attacker pay if New Zealand did not.

The comments came at a campaign rally that included video footage of the shootings that the alleged gunman had broadcast on Facebook.

Ardern said Peters would seek urgent clarification.

“Our deputy prime minister will be confronting those comments in Turkey,” Ardern told reporters in Christchurch. “He is going there to set the record straight, face-to-face.”

Erdogan has referred to the mosque shootings several times during public gatherings in recent days.

Turkish Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said comments made by Erdogan on Monday during the commemoration of the 1915 Gallipoli campaign were taken out of context, adding he was responding to the attacker’s “manifesto”, which was posted online by the attacker and later taken down.

“Turks have always been the most welcoming & gracious hosts to their Anzac visitors,” Altun said on Twitter, using the abbreviation for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

“As he was giving the speech at the Canakkale (Gallipoli) commemoration, he framed his remarks in a historical context of attacks against Turkey, past and present.”

During his speech on Monday, Erdogan described the mass shooting as part of a wider attack on Turkey and threatened to send back “in caskets” anyone who tried to take the battle to Istanbul.

Peters had earlier condemned the airing of footage of the shooting, which he said could endanger New Zealanders abroad.

Despite Peters’ intervention, an extract from Tarrant’s alleged manifesto was flashed up on a screen at Erdogan’s rally again on Tuesday, along with footage of the gunman entering one of the mosques and shooting as he approached the door.

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he summoned Turkey’s ambassador for a meeting, during which he demanded Erdogan’s comments be removed from Turkey’s state broadcaster.

“I will wait to see what the response is from the Turkish government before taking further action, but I can tell you that all options are on the table,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

Australia’s ambassador to Turkey would meet with members of Erdogan’s government on Wednesday, Morrison said.

Morrison said Canberra is also reconsidering its travel advice for Australians planning trips to Turkey.

Relations between Turkey, New Zealand and Australia have generally been good. Thousands of Australians and New Zealanders travel each year to Turkey for war memorial services.

Just over a century ago, thousands of soldiers from the ANZAC struggled ashore on a narrow beach at Gallipoli during an ill-fated campaign that would claim more than 130,000 lives.

Visitors come to the area to honor their nations’ fallen on ANZAC Day every April 25.

(Reporting by Colin Packham in Sydney and Ali Kucukgocmen in Istanbul; Editing by Michael Perry and Frances Kerry)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller atomizers are displayed for sale at a garden shop near Brussels
FILE PHOTO: Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller atomizers are displayed for sale at a garden shop near Brussels, Belgium November 27, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

March 20, 2019

By Jim Christie

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A lawyer for a man who sued Bayer AG unit Monsanto after developing cancer on Wednesday told a jury about the company’s alleged efforts to influence scientists and regulators, a day after the jury found Bayer’s glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup to have caused the man’s disease.

The jury in San Francisco federal court on Tuesday found Roundup to be a “substantial factor” in causing California resident Edwin Hardeman’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but did not find Bayer liable.

Liability and potential damages will now be decided by the same jury in a second trial phase that began on Wednesday after the initial phase focused on scientific evidence alone.

Aimee Wagstaff, one of Hardeman’s lawyers, said Monsanto influenced the science around Roundup through its close links to regulators, including a “cozy” relationship with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has not required a cancer risk warning for the weed killer.

Wagstaff also claimed Monsanto ghost-wrote scientific studies to influence regulatory reviews.

Bayer denies allegations that Roundup or glyphosate cause cancer, saying decades of independent scientific studies have shown the chemical, one of the most widely used weed killers, to be safe for human use.

But the company’s share price fell more than 12 percent on Wednesday after Tuesday’s jury decision, later recovering slightly. Shares closed down 9.6 percent at 63 euros ($71.53).

The trial, which began on Feb. 25, is also a test case for a future litigation. More than 760 of the 11,200 Roundup cases nationwide are consolidated in the federal court in San Francisco that is hearing Hardeman’s case.

Hardeman’s case marks the second U.S. Roundup trial after a jury in a similar case in August awarded $289 million in damages. That award was later reduced to $78 million and is on appeal.

Bayer in a statement on Tuesday said it was disappointed with the jury’s decision.

“We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto’s conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman’s cancer,” the company said.

During the second trial phase, the jury will be asked to decide whether Roundup was defectively designed by failing to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect, and whether Bayer failed to warn consumers of potential health risks.

Bayer in response can introduce evidence of regulatory assessments concluding glyphosate to be safe.

The U.S. EPA, the European Chemicals Agency and other regulators have found that glyphosate is not likely carcinogenic to humans. The World Health Organization’s cancer arm in 2015 reached a different conclusion, classifying glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

Brian Stekloff, a lawyer for Bayer, in his opening statement on Wednesday said Wagstaff had presented the jury with “cherry-picked evidence” and did not tell the whole story.

“It’s not just regulators,” Stekloff said. “It’s also other groups of scientists that have found no carcinogicity.”

($1 = 0.8807 euro)

(Reporting by Jim Christie in San Francisco; writing by Tina Bellon in New York; editing by Bill Berkrot)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An electric vehicle charging cable is seen on the bonnet of a Volvo hybrid car in this picture illustration
FILE PHOTO: An electric vehicle charging cable is seen on the bonnet of a Volvo hybrid car in this picture illustration taken July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Phil Noble/Illustration

March 20, 2019

By Esha Vaish

GOTHENBURG (Reuters) – Volvo Cars expects its margins on electric cars to match those of vehicles with combustion engines by 2025, the head of the Chinese-owned Swedish carmaker told Reuters.

Global automakers are planning a $300 billion surge in spending on electric vehicle technology over the next five to 10 years but have admitted that higher component costs and limited take-up in initial years will hit margins.

Volvo is investing about 5 percent of its annual revenue, equating to a little more than $1 billion a year, in building driverless and electric cars and has promised to deliver five fully electric cars to market in the next few years.

It showcased the first less than a month ago, made by its luxury performance brand Polestar to rival to Tesla’s Model 3. It also plans to launch a Volvo-branded electric compact SUV this year in the company’s push to derive 50 percent of its sales from fully electric cars by 2025.

“It’s very difficult to say if we’re going to have the same margins in 2025 as we had in 2015 … because electric cars are very expensive,” Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson told Reuters on the sidelines of a safety showcase by the company in Gothenburg.

“But I would be absolute sure we will have the same margins with electric cars as we will with conventional combustion cars in 2025.”

Samuelsson said the convergence would be helped by reducing costs for components such as batteries and declining margins on conventional cars.

(Reporting by Esha Vaish in Gothenburg; Editing by David Goodman)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Professional race car driver Danica Patrick poses for a photograph during an interview with Reuters in New York City
FILE PHOTO: Professional race car driver Danica Patrick poses for a photograph during an interview with Reuters in New York City, New York, U.S., April 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar

March 20, 2019

By Frank Pingue

(Reuters) – Danica Patrick will return to the racing world at this year’s Indianapolis 500 as a TV analyst, rather than racing around the storied oval at blazing speeds.

Patrick, who wound up her racing career after last year’s Indianapolis 500, was announced on Wednesday as part of the broadcast team for NBC Sports’ inaugural coverage of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on May 26.

“The Indianapolis 500 holds a very special place in my heart,” Patrick said in a statement.

“The moment I drive into the facility, I’m flooded with positive emotions. I have no doubt it’ll be the same this year when I come back as an analyst.”

Patrick finished third at the Indianapolis 500 in 2009, the best result ever at the Brickyard by a woman driver.

She said her decision to join the NBC Sports team, where she will also contribute to pre-race and post-race coverage, is not a sign that she misses the thrill of racing.

“I’m not a look-back kind of person, I’m a look-forward,” Patrick told a conference call on Wednesday. “So I feel like this is part of looking forward, this is something totally new and different for me.

“Now, it’s coming at a place where I have a lot of history but this hasn’t been my job which is why I am going to work really hard to make sure that I am ready like anything else I do that is different.”

Patrick is no stranger to the role of race analyst. While still an active driver in NASCAR, she served as a guest analyst for Fox Sports’ coverage of NASCAR Xfinity races in Michigan, Pocono and Talladega.

Patrick, the only woman to win an IndyCar race and to start from pole at the Daytona 500, was perhaps the most outspoken driver during her racing career and said that will not change when she serves as a studio analyst.

“Oh yes. Can’t change my stripes,” said Patrick. “I won’t be afraid to give my opinion.”

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Brigitte Bardot the former French film star turned animal rights activist gestures as she speaks to ..
FILE PHOTO: Brigitte Bardot the former French film star turned animal rights activist gestures as she speaks to EU [Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas (not pictured)] at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, June 9, 2006. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

March 20, 2019

SAINT-DENIS-DE-LA-REUNION, France (Reuters) – The highest ranking official on the French island of Reunion filed a legal suit against former film star and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot on Wednesday after receiving a letter deemed “racist” by the authorities.

In the letter, sent on Tuesday to the prefect of Reunion and local media, Bardot described inhabitants of the Indian Ocean island as “aboriginals who have kept the genes of savages” and denounced what she called the barbaric treatment of animals by a “degenerate population”.

“This letter contains terms that are offensive and racist toward the inhabitants of Reunion”, prefect Amaury de Saint-Quentin said in a statement.

Bardot’s lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

The Brigitte Bardot Foundation, dedicated to animal protection, said Bardot had written the letter as a personal initiative, separate from the institution.

Bardot, now 84, rose to sex symbol status as an actress in the 1950s. She starred in numerous films and was also famous as a singer and fashion model but in recent decades has become better known as an outspoken campaigner for animal welfare.

Reunion is an overseas French department in the southern Indian Ocean, to the east of Madagascar, and is known for its volcanoes, coral reefs and rainforest.

Bardot’s comments triggered widespread outrage on the island, with several officials saying they would also take legal action. Two anti-racism NGOs, Licra and SOS Racisme, said they too intended to go to court.

“Ordinary racism has no place in the exchange of opinions”, France’s Minister of Overseas Territories Annick Girardin said on Tuesday, adding that she would add her name to the complaint filed by the island’s prefect.

In Paris, the president of the lower house of parliament, Richard Ferrand, expressed his “contempt” for Bardot’s comments.

Animal rights activists say abuse of animals is common on the island and that animal sacrifice is tolerated in some religious ceremonies.

(Reporting by Bernard Grollier; Additional reporting by Julie Carriat and Elizabeth Pineau; Editing by Richard Lough and Gareth Jones)

Source: OANN

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May answers questions in the Parliament in London
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May answers questions in the Parliament in London, Britain, March 20, 2019 in this screen grab taken from video. Reuters TV via REUTERS

March 20, 2019

By Elizabeth Piper, Kylie MacLellan and William James

LONDON (Reuters) – France threatened to reject British Prime Minister Theresa May’s request for a three-month delay to Brexit on Wednesday unless she can guarantee to get her departure plans though parliament, potentially sending Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal.

May asked the European Union to allow Britain to extend Brexit to June 30 and EU leaders are expected to discuss the matter at a summit on Thursday. The decision must be taken unanimously by all remaining 27 EU members.

Some EU states, including Germany, had given a largely positive response to May’s well-flagged request.

But with the clock ticking toward Britain’s formal departure date on March 29, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said May would need to make her case before EU leaders in Brussels.

“Our position is to send the British a clear and simple message: as Theresa May said repeatedly herself, there are only two options to get out of the EU: ratify the Withdrawal Agreement or exit without a deal,” Le Drian told the French parliament.

“A situation in which Mrs May was not be able to present to the European Council sufficient guarantees of the credibility of her strategy would lead to the extension request being dismissed and opting for a no-deal exit,” he said.

May’s initiative came just nine days before Britain is formally due to leave the European Union and marked the latest twist in more than two years of negotiations that have left British politics in chaos and the prime minister’s authority in tatters.

After the defeats in parliament opened up the possibility of Britain leaving the EU without a deal and a smooth transition, May said she remained committed to leaving “in an orderly manner” and wanted to postpone Brexit until June 30.

Her announcement prompted uproar in parliament, where the opposition Labour Party accused her of “blackmail, bullying and bribery” in her attempts to push her deal through, and one prominent pro-Brexit supporter in her own Conservative Party said seeking a delay was “betraying the British people”.

Britain voted in 2016 to leave the EU by 52 to 48 percent, but the decision has split the country, opening up divisive debates over the future of the economy, the nation’s place in the world and the nature of Britishness itself.

A European Commission document seen by Reuters said the delay should either be several weeks shorter, to avoid a clash with European elections in May, or extend at least until the end of the year, which would oblige Britain to take part in the elections.

The pound fell sharply as May requested her extension.

(Additional reporting by by Kate Holton and Alistair Smout in London and Alastair MacDonald in Brussels; Writing by by Guy Faulconbridge and Giles Elgood; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Source: OANN

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Dallas Mavericks
Mar 18, 2019; Dallas, TX, USA; A view of the arena during the game between the Dallas Mavericks and the New Orleans Pelicans at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

March 20, 2019

The NBA Summer League will have an international flavor in 2019.

The Chinese and Croatian national teams will join all 30 NBA teams in participating in the league, which will be held July 5-15 in Las Vegas, the NBA announced Wednesday.

Team China played in Las Vegas at the 2007 NBA Summer League, but Team Croatia is making its debut at the event, marking the first time the league will have two international teams.

Each of the 32 teams will play four preliminary games, with the top eight teams seeded into a tournament to determine the champion. Those that don’t make the championship bracket will play a consolation game.

Every NBA team will participate in Las Vegas for the second consecutive year. The Portland Trail Blazers beat the Los Angeles Lakers for the 2018 title.

China will host and participate in the 32-team FIBA World Cup, which begins Aug. 31. Croatia did not make the field.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

A statue is pictured next to the logo of Germany's Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt
FILE PHOTO: A statue is pictured next to the logo of Germany’s Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, Germany September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

March 20, 2019

By Matt Scuffham

(Reuters) – Deutsche Bank AG’s merger talks with Commerzbank AG has put its 10,000 U.S. workers on edge, three employees told Reuters, with some concerned a deal could pressure Deutsche to further shrink or even dispose of its U.S. businesses.

The future of the bank’s U.S. trading and investment banking presence had already been in question, with some shareholders calling for further cuts on top of ones announced last year, and speculation has intensified following confirmation of the merger talks on Sunday.

The German government, which has a 15 percent stake in Commerzbank, is expected to retain a stake in the combined business if a deal materializes. Some employees fear that could pressure the bank to focus on its home market.

Both banks have cautioned that the outcome of the talks remains uncertain, and the process could drag on for months. In the meantime key employees could decamp to rival Wall Street banks and hedge funds, further weakening a business that has underperformed for years. Several executives have left the bank’s U.S. operations in recent months.

“We don’t know what’s going on. Everything is up in the air,” said one senior employee within the bank’s U.S. equity sales business, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Chief Executive Christian Sewing reiterated in a memo to staff on Sunday that Deutsche aimed to remain a “global bank with a strong capital markets business,” and a source familiar with the matter said the merger would not change the bank’s commitment to a strong U.S. presence.

Deutsche Bank declined to comment on Wednesday.

German finance minister Olaf Scholz, reportedly a proponent of the merger, has previously stressed the need for Germany’s banking sector to support German companies who want to go abroad to export.

After the 2007-2009 financial crisis, Deutsche maintained a large presence on Wall Street, even as European rivals like Credit Suisse Group AG made big cuts to U.S. investment banking operations.

Deutsche Bank’s U.S. business has brought in around half of revenue for its overall investment banking unit, which includes corporate and investment banking as well as trading, even though it came with a relatively high cost of capital.

However, encumbered by litigation and regulatory investigations into past misconduct, the business has struggled to compete with Wall Street rivals.

Deutsche had said last May that it would reduce its global headcount to well below 90,000 from 97,000. That included a 25 percent cut in equities sales and trading jobs, a significant number of which were in New York, where it has lagged rivals.

Cutting more jobs in the United States would not provoke the same political pushback that the two banks would face if they axe jobs in Germany, banking analysts say.

PAY CONCERNS

Even if Deutsche Bank keeps its U.S. operations largely intact following a Commerzbank deal, some staff fear pay and bonuses would decline because the combined entity would face a backlash from German taxpayers if its remuneration was seen as excessive.

Commerzbank, which is focused on personal and commercial lending, typically pays its staff less than Deutsche Bank. If the German government were to retain a stake in a combined entity, lawmakers would likely argue that it should keep a tight rein on pay.

Traders at Deutsche Bank’s U.S. equities business have already felt a squeeze, with some receiving substantially smaller bonuses for 2018, the sources said.

That has contributed to a decline in morale, which has been exacerbated by the departure of senior staff including Brad Kurtzman, co-head of equities trading in the Americas, who is leaving at the end of this month, the sources said.

A recent focus on recruiting college graduates, held up by senior management as an affirmation of the bank’s long-term commitment to the trading division, has done little to quell concern, they added.

One employee, who asked not to be named, said further defections are considered likely as staff look to pre-empt further cuts should the Commerzbank deal go through.

(Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

Source: OANN


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