Data

FILE PHOTO: Uber's logo is displayed on a mobile phone
FILE PHOTO: Uber’s logo is displayed on a mobile phone, September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah Mckay/File Photo

March 25, 2019

By Munsif Vengattil

BENGALURU (Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc is six months into a major mapping project that fills holes in its coverage of Middle Eastern cities ahead of a possible takeover of regional rival Careem Networks and this year’s hotly anticipated initial public offering, according to a source with knowledge of the project.

A team of 28 engineers and other staff, working for Indian tech sector outsourcer Wipro, are on the verge of completing detailed mapping of businesses and public buildings in Saudi Arabian cities and have been asked to accelerate work as the company eyes a stock market launch in April, the source said.

The team in the Indian city of Hyderabad has also recently been entrusted with mapping Egypt and is under pressure to speed up the work, the source added, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly.

The costly and time-consuming exercise is vital to moves to scale up in what has become a crucial market for Uber, with the takeover of Dubai-based Careem and progress there a litmus test of Uber’s global ambitions after ceding other Asian countries to local competitors.

It may also have served to bolster the company’s position in talks on buying Careem, which other sources told Reuters on Sunday may announce a $3 billion takeover this week.

Mapping is a largely manual process done one block and one neighborhood at a time, requiring heavy investment, and the data must be updated regularly. Maps are the foundation of ride-hailing apps that shuttle passengers from one point to another via a navigation app.

Careem, which operates in the Middle East, Africa and southern Asia, had said previously it was 45,000 miles into mapping the region, saying that shortfalls in Google Maps in the Middle East coverage had forced it to spend on the project.

PICK-UPS

Normally Uber uses a mix of mapping resources, relying heavily on Google Maps and augmenting its knowledge of streets and pickup points using its own mapping cars and equipment carried by Uber drivers in their vehicles.

Uber’s website says its dedicated mapping cars are currently working only in Canada and around a dozen U.S. states, having previously mapped the UK, France, Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, Columbia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and Brazil.

Uber said the team in India was curating “Places” mapping data in Saudi Arabia to back up the necessary field work as it seeks to create its own set of locations against which it can easily search for pick-ups and drop-offs. It is different from vector mapping data and is a database of trip destinations, the company said.

Uber said it had not started work in Egypt.

According to the source, the process at Wipro is threefold; beginning from validation of existing data, to verification of new data collected from fieldwork and finally manually tagging each business and establishment on the proprietary map.

The fieldwork is done by Uber’s people on the ground, who go from business to business and take pictures from all the exterior sides of a building, a requirement in tagging the location of an establishment. Workers at Wipro use official websites and social media handles, as well as other resources, to fact-check data, the source said.

Wipro said it does not comment on specific client engagements. It was not clear whether Uber had agreements with other outsourcers for mapping the region.

In the run-up to its initial public offering next month, Uber is expected to tout its global reach and strong overseas markets to investors as a differentiation from U.S. rival Lyft.

An Uber purchase of Careem, after it gave up on markets in China, Southeast Asia and Russia in the face of strong local startups, has put the Middle East at the heart of that narrative.

A tie-up with Careem would also allow both companies to stop spending so heavily on infrastructure, as well as subsidizing rides for passengers and poaching drivers with bonuses, which have generated losses for both firms.

(Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Heather Somerville in San Francisco; Writing by Patrick Graham; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Source: OANN

The Daily Caller Shop | Contributor

When it comes to oral hygiene, there’s many different brands on the market, but only one of them stands out from the pack. Mira-Teeth is not just another sonic brush like Oral-B or Philips. Instead of rotating brush heads, the Mira-Teeth Cleaning Starter Kit uses ultrasound technology to penetrate deeply into gums and in between teeth!

Clean and whiten your teeth with zero irritation

Clean and whiten your teeth with zero irritation

Use the code MADNESS15 to get this starter kit for just $169.15 for a limited time 

This revolutionary way of cleaning your teeth is especially effective at eliminating bacteria within your gum pockets. The Mira-Teeth Cleaning Starter Kit targets and destroys microbes in areas where inflammation usually starts. Using powerful vibrations, Mira-Teeth works to clean and whiten your teeth with zero irritation.

Not only is the Mira-Teeth Cleaning Starter Kit more effective at cleaning your teeth than other leading brands, but it also works much faster. You can thoroughly clean your teeth in 50% less time. It’ll only take 30 to 45 seconds to really bring out those pearly-white teeth.

Originally, the Mira-Teeth Cleaning Starter Kit was 16% off, but be sure to use code MADNESS15 for an additional 15% off. That brings your total down to just $169.15!

Like this deal? Check out Vault, the best way to secure your online data for just $9.99/mo.

You can find even more great deals like this at The Daily Caller Shop.

Source: The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller Shop | Contributor

When it comes to oral hygiene, there’s many different brands on the market, but only one of them stands out from the pack. Mira-Teeth is not just another sonic brush like Oral-B or Philips. Instead of rotating brush heads, the Mira-Teeth Cleaning Starter Kit uses ultrasound technology to penetrate deeply into gums and in between teeth!

Clean and whiten your teeth with zero irritation

Clean and whiten your teeth with zero irritation

Use the code MADNESS15 to get this starter kit for just $169.15 for a limited time 

This revolutionary way of cleaning your teeth is especially effective at eliminating bacteria within your gum pockets. The Mira-Teeth Cleaning Starter Kit targets and destroys microbes in areas where inflammation usually starts. Using powerful vibrations, Mira-Teeth works to clean and whiten your teeth with zero irritation.

Not only is the Mira-Teeth Cleaning Starter Kit more effective at cleaning your teeth than other leading brands, but it also works much faster. You can thoroughly clean your teeth in 50% less time. It’ll only take 30 to 45 seconds to really bring out those pearly-white teeth.

Originally, the Mira-Teeth Cleaning Starter Kit was 16% off, but be sure to use code MADNESS15 for an additional 15% off. That brings your total down to just $169.15!

Like this deal? Check out Vault, the best way to secure your online data for just $9.99/mo.

You can find even more great deals like this at The Daily Caller Shop.

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag flutters in front the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna
FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag flutters in front the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

March 25, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – South Korean government officials are expected to press for extending a sanctions waiver on Iran’s petroleum exports that expires in May on a visit to Washington this week.

South Korea’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Affairs Yoon Kang-hyun and other leaders will meet with U.S. State Department officials on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the waiver issued in November to keep buying Iranian oil in exchange for having reduced such purchases, the Seoul government said in a news release on Monday.

The Trump administration has unilaterally reimposed sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, the lifeblood of its economy, as it seeks to curb Tehran’s nuclear and missile ambitions and its influence Syria and other countries in the Middle East

Washington issued sanctions waivers for eight economies in November, including for South Korea, Iran’s fourth largest oil customer in Asia. But the administration has said it wants the exports to go to zero as quickly as possible.

The current U.S. goal is to reduce the number of sanctions waivers and to cut Iran’s oil exports about 20 percent, to below 1 million barrels of oil per day from May, sources said this month.

The South Korean officials will meet with the State Department’s top energy diplomat Francis Fannon on Thursday. On Wednesday they will meet with Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative for Iran, and David Peyman, the deputy assistant secretary of state for counter threat finance and sanctions. The State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the meetings.

Peyman met with South Korean officials in Asia earlier this month. He offered “to continue to closely consult on the extension of sanctions exemption and Korean companies’ technical issues regarding trade with Iran,” a statement from Seoul’s foreign ministry said at the time.

South Korea is a large buyer of a light oil called condensates from Iran and has told a former U.S. official that there are few options for getting the same quality of condensate from other suppliers.

South Korea’s oil imports from Iran fell 12.5 percent year-on-year in February, customs data showed this month.

Yonhap news agency quoted a South Korean official as saying that Seoul has had discussions since November with Washington on gaining an extended exception and that ending the purchases of condensates would affect its economy. “No extension means no imports of Iranian condensate,” an official told Yonhap.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Tom Brown)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag flutters in front the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna
FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag flutters in front the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

March 25, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – South Korean government officials are expected to press for extending a sanctions waiver on Iran’s petroleum exports that expires in May on a visit to Washington this week.

South Korea’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Affairs Yoon Kang-hyun and other leaders will meet with U.S. State Department officials on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the waiver issued in November to keep buying Iranian oil in exchange for having reduced such purchases, the Seoul government said in a news release on Monday.

The Trump administration has unilaterally reimposed sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, the lifeblood of its economy, as it seeks to curb Tehran’s nuclear and missile ambitions and its influence Syria and other countries in the Middle East

Washington issued sanctions waivers for eight economies in November, including for South Korea, Iran’s fourth largest oil customer in Asia. But the administration has said it wants the exports to go to zero as quickly as possible.

The current U.S. goal is to reduce the number of sanctions waivers and to cut Iran’s oil exports about 20 percent, to below 1 million barrels of oil per day from May, sources said this month.

The South Korean officials will meet with the State Department’s top energy diplomat Francis Fannon on Thursday. On Wednesday they will meet with Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative for Iran, and David Peyman, the deputy assistant secretary of state for counter threat finance and sanctions. The State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the meetings.

Peyman met with South Korean officials in Asia earlier this month. He offered “to continue to closely consult on the extension of sanctions exemption and Korean companies’ technical issues regarding trade with Iran,” a statement from Seoul’s foreign ministry said at the time.

South Korea is a large buyer of a light oil called condensates from Iran and has told a former U.S. official that there are few options for getting the same quality of condensate from other suppliers.

South Korea’s oil imports from Iran fell 12.5 percent year-on-year in February, customs data showed this month.

Yonhap news agency quoted a South Korean official as saying that Seoul has had discussions since November with Washington on gaining an extended exception and that ending the purchases of condensates would affect its economy. “No extension means no imports of Iranian condensate,” an official told Yonhap.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Tom Brown)

Source: OANN

Nokia logo is seen at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona
The Nokia logo is seen at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 28, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

March 25, 2019

VIENNA (Reuters) – Austria’s flagship telecoms group A1 said on Monday it had selected Nokia as its partner for building next-generation 5G mobile networks in the country, continuing a long-standing cooperation with the Finnish equipment supplier.

A1 Group, which is controlled by Mexico’s America Movil and the Austrian state, said Nokia would provide it with 5G wireless technology and cloud-based core network technology.

5G will deliver super-fast connectivity and facilitate new applications from self-driving cars to medical robots.

The selection of suppliers for the new networks has become a politically sensitive issue after the United States lobbied Europe to shut out China’s Huawei, saying its equipment could be used by Beijing for espionage. Huawei has strongly rejected the allegations and this month sued the U.S. government over the matter.

The European Commission will urge EU countries to share more data to tackle cybersecurity risks related to 5G networks but will not call for a Huawei ban, sources have told Reuters.

Nokia and Sweden’s Ericsson are the leading European contenders to provide 5G equipment.

“Together with Nokia, we will leverage the full potential of 5G,” said A1 Austria Chief Executive Marcus Grausam.

“We rely on a trusted and long-standing partner with whom we have already successfully implemented numerous major projects.”

A1 Group agreed to pay 64.3 million euros ($72.8 million) for spectrum in the 3.5 Ghz band in Austria’s first 5G auction earlier this month. It has said it will finance that from its operational cash flow.

(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Mark Potter)

Source: OANN

  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence that the Trump campaign or any Trump associates conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
  • That finding deals a heavy blow to Democrats and some in the media who have pushed at least seven different theories of collusion over the past two-plus years.
  • Many of those theories derived from the infamous Steele dossier.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller put a nail in the coffin for the numerous conspiracy theories that the Trump campaign worked with Russian operatives to influence the 2016 election.

Over the past two years, at least seven main theories of collusion have appeared in the press and through the infamous Steele dossier.

Former Trump associates Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen and Roger Stone were all alleged at various points to have colluded with Russia. The infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting was also alleged to be where collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia occurred.

And then there was the case of Peter Smith, the late GOP operative who allegedly worked with hackers to track down Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails.

The theories percolated in the media, often stoked by Democrats like California Rep. Adam Schiff, who said he saw “more than circumstantial evidence” of collusion.

But Mueller dispelled those theories in a report of his 22-month investigation.

“The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” Mueller wrote, according to Attorney General William Barr. (RELATED: Justice Department Details Mueller’s Conclusions: No Collusion)

Mueller found no evidence that Trump, his associates, or other Americans worked with Russians to release emails through WikiLeaks. He also found no evidence that Trump associates helped the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company that planted disinformation on American social media networks.

Here are those seven conspiracy theories.

Carter Page

The Steele dossier alleges that Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser, took part in a “well-developed conspiracy of co-operation” between the Trump campaign and Russian leadership. According to former British spy Christopher Steele, Page was working under the direction of Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman, to carry out the conspiracy.

“The reason for using WikiLeaks was ‘plausible deniability’ and the operation had been conducted with the full knowledge and support of TRUMP and senior members of his campaign team,” alleged Steele in a memo in late July 2016.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 02: Carter Page, former foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign, speaks to the media after testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on November 2, 2017 in Washington, DC. The committee is conducting an investigation into Russia's tampering in the 2016 election. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Carter Page, former foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign, speaks in November 2017. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

In exchange for the help, Trump’s team agreed to side with Russia on the Ukraine issue.

According to Steele’s Aug. 10, 2016 memo, Page had “conceived and promoted” the idea of releasing stolen DNC emails through WikiLeaks in order to swing Democrats away from Hillary Clinton and towards Bernie Sanders.

Steele also claimed that Page met in Moscow with two Kremlin insiders, Igor Sechin and Igor Diveykin, in early July 2016. Diveykin is alleged in the dossier to have told Page about blackmail material on both Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Page has vehemently denied the allegations from the dossier, which the FBI used to obtain four surveillance warrants against the former Trump aide.

Page was not charged in the Mueller investigation.

George Papadopoulos

The FBI’s initial collusion theory involved Papadopoulos, a 32-year-old energy consultant.

On July 31, 2016, the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into Papadopoulos based on a tip the bureau had received from the Australian government.

Alexander Downer, the Australian High Commissioner to the U.K., had claimed that during a May 10, 2016, meeting in London, Papadopoulos told him that Russia had information on Hillary Clinton that it planned to release later in the campaign.

Papadopoulos said that two weeks before that meeting, he had breakfast in London with another diplomat, Joseph Mifsud, who told him that the Russians had “dirt” on Clinton in the form of “thousands” of her emails.

Papadopoulos insists that he did not tell anyone on the campaign about Mifsud’s remarks and that he did not view, handle or disseminate Clinton emails.

He pleaded guilty on Oct. 5, 2017, to lying to the FBI about the extent of his contacts with Mifsud, but he was never charged with a more serious crime.

He served a 14-day prison term and is releasing a book Tuesday.

Michael Cohen

The former Trump lawyer is accused in the dossier of visiting Prague in August 2016 to meet with Kremlin officials for the purposes of paying off hackers.

“The agenda comprised questions on how deniable cash payments were to be made to hackers who had worked in Europe under Kremlin direction against the CLINTON campaign,” reads Steele’s Dec. 13, 2016, memo.

The dossier’s allegations against Cohen were viewed as some of the strongest claims of collusion that have surfaced during Russia gate.

Cohen has vehemently denied the claims since BuzzFeed published the dossier. On Feb. 27, after he had been sentenced in the special counsel’s probe to three years in prison, Cohen testified that he has never been to Prague.

The testimony was seen as a knockout blow for the dossier’s credibility. Mueller’s findings seemingly ended all debate on the matter.

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison on Dec. 12 on charges of tax evasion, bank fraud, illegal campaign contributions and making false statements to Congress.

Paul Manafort

In addition to being linked in the dossier to Carter Page, the former Trump campaign chairman was found to have sent cryptic emails during the campaign referencing Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who was locked in a business dispute with Manafort.

The special counsel also focused Manafort’s role in sending polling data during the campaign to two Russian oligarchs.

“If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,” Manafort wrote in an email to an associate on July 7, 2016, The Washington Post has reported.

In April 2016, shortly after he joined the Trump team, Manafort asked the same associate in an email how he could use his new position to “get whole.”

The email has widely been interpreted as Manafort suggesting that he would use his job on the Trump campaign to settle his debts with Deripaska.

But little came of Manafort’s links to Deripaska. Manafort was convicted in federal court in Virginia on Aug. 21, 2018, on charges related to his Ukraine consulting work. He cooperated with the special counsel after pleading guilty on Sept. 14, 2018, to working as an unregistered foreign agent of Ukraine.

The special counsel’s office hinted at times that prosecutors had evidence that dealt with the core issues of the investigation, but they never presented the evidence during court hearings.

Manafort was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison on March 13.

Trump Tower

Democrats have seized on a June 9, 2016, meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a group of Russians as the strongest verifiable evidence of collusion to emerge during the Russia saga.

Trump Jr. accepted the meeting after receiving an email on June 3, 2016, from Rob Goldstone, a music publicist who worked for Russian pop star Emin Agalarov.

In the email, Goldstone said that Agalarov’s billionaire father had met with Russia’s “Crown prosecutor” and wanted to offer the Trump campaign “with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very helpful to your father.”

Trump Jr. accepted, writing: “If it is what you say I love it.”

Donald Trump, Jr. greets supporters at campaign stop for Republican senate nominee Patrick Morrisey and Republican candidate for the House of Representatives Carol Miller ahead of the 2018 midterm elections at Phillips Machine Service in Beckley, West Virginia, U.S., November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Donald Trump, Jr. greets supporters in Beckley, West Virginia, U.S., November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Goldstone responded to say that a “Russian government attorney” would fly to the U.S. for the meeting.

Trump Jr. attended the meeting with Manafort and Jared Kushner. Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya attended along with Goldstone and several other Russians.

All attendees have claimed that the meeting was a waste of time and that no information regarding the campaign was exchanged.

Veselnitskaya provided the campaign with a short memo containing research compiled by Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that, ironically, commissioned the Steele dossier. Veselnitskaya was working at the time with Fusion GPS on an investigation of Bill Browder, a London-based financier who spearheaded the Magnitsky Act, a sanctions law opposed by the Kremlin.

Mueller investigated the Trump Tower meeting. Goldstone and other attendees appeared before Mueller’s grand jury.

Goldstone responded to Mueller’s finding of no collusion in a message to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“After 2 years, Robert Mueller has delivered his report, stating there was no collusion in the 2016 Presidential election,” Goldstone said. “That includes my email to Donald Trump Jr. and the subsequent Trump Tower meeting … which as I have stated from the beginning, had nothing to do with collusion.”

Veselnitskaya was indicted by prosecutors in Manhattan related to her work against Bill Browder. No other Trump Tower attendees other than Manafort were charged by the special counsel.

Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi

One theory of collusion that emerged over the past year was that Trump confidant Stone and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi were linked to WikiLeaks.

Prosecutors keyed in on Stone because of tweets he sent and remarks he made in August 2016 that suggested he had inside knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans to release emails stolen from Democrats.

Stone said in interviews that he had communications with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. On Aug. 21, 2016, he tweeted that it would “soon [be] the Podesta’s time in the barrel.”

Stone has insisted that he had no direct contact with WikiLeaks or Assange. He also claims that he did not know that WikiLeaks would release Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails in October 2016.

Roger Stone at Politicon at Pasadena Convention Center on July 29, 2017 in California. (John Sciulli/Getty Images)

Instead, he’s maintained that he received tips about the timing and seriousness of the email releases from Randy Credico, a left-wing activist who is friends with a WikiLeaks attorney.

Stone released text messages that showed Credico providing information about the timing of the email releases.

Corsi was a focus because of emails he sent in August 2016 in which he suggested he had inside knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans.

“Word is friend in embassy plans 2 more dumps,” Corsi wrote in the Aug. 2, 2016, email to Stone, seemingly referring to Assange, who lives under asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

“One shortly after I’m back. 2nd in Oct. Impact planned to be very damaging.”

“Time to let more than Podesta to be exposed as in bed w enemy if they are not ready to drop HRC.”

Corsi was offered a plea deal by the special counsel but says he rejected it. Prosecutors wanted him to plead guilty to making false statements about exchanging WikiLeaks-related emails with Stone.

Corsi said he deduced on his own that WikiLeaks had Podesta’s emails and that he had no contact with anyone affiliated with the group.

Stone was indicted by the special counsel on Jan. 24, but not on charges related to conspiracy with Russia or WikiLeaks. He was instead charged with making false statements to the House Intelligence Committee regarding his discussions about WikiLeaks with associates and Trump campaign officials.

Peter Smith

One of the more bizarre collusion conspiracy theories involved Peter Smith, a GOP donor and political operative who lived in Chicago.

The Wall Street Journal first reported in June 2017 that Smith worked with numerous conservative operatives and hackers to obtain the 30,000 emails that Hillary Clinton deleted from her private server.

The conspiracy theory came to encompass close Trump associates, including Michael Flynn. Smith wrote in correspondence that he had been in contact with Flynn regarding the effort to hunt down Clinton’s emails.

The Wall Street Journal reported last year that Mueller was asking witnesses about the Smith operation. The story festered in the media, with follow-up reporting from BuzzFeed.

Smith died by suicide on May 14, 2017.

Follow Chuck on Twitter

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: Mike Lynch, Founder and Chairman of Autonomy Corporation, poses for photographers at an awards ceremony in central London
FILE PHOTO: Mike Lynch, founder of Autonomy, poses for photographers at an awards ceremony in central London March 13, 2008. REUTERS/Toby Melville

March 25, 2019

By Georgina Prodhan

LONDON (Reuters) – British entrepreneur Mike Lynch artificially inflated revenue at his Autonomy software company before selling it to Hewlett Packard for $11 billion, the U.S. firm’s lawyer told a London court on Monday.

HP is suing Autonomy founder Lynch, once hailed as Britain’s answer to Bill Gates, along with his former finance chief Sushovan Hussain for $5 billion after the 2011 deal went disastrously wrong for the Silicon Valley group.

Lynch denies any wrongdoing and says HP’s mismanagement was responsible for the failure of the acquisition.

HP had bought big data firm Autonomy with the aim of making it the centerpiece of a plan to transform HP from a computer and printer maker into a software-focused enterprise services firm, a shift that rival IBM had already pulled off.

But a year later HP wrote down the value of Autonomy by $8.8 billion, saying it had uncovered serious accounting improprieties. These have led it to pursue Britain’s biggest-ever fraud trial against Lynch and Hussain.

Lawyer Laurence Rabinowicz QC, representing HP, told London’s High Court that Lynch and Hussain had knowingly been involved in “widespread and systematic false accounting” to create a materially false picture of Autonomy’s finances.

Autonomy had engaged in “revenue-pumping” by encouraging customers to buy its products in exchange for buying goods from them that it did not need, restructuring deals to produce upfront license fees, and covertly selling pure hardware not even programmed with its software at a loss, he said.

Rabinowicz said the issues were not a matter of complex financial niceties but rather of clear intention. “This is not a business dispute about how to apply accounting procedures,” he said. “This is a fraud case.”

Lynch observed proceedings from a back corner of the courtroom, occasionally scribbling notes or sending messages on his phone.

The 53-year-old, who also faces criminal wire- and securities-fraud charges in the United States, which carry a maximum 25-year prison term, is likely to appear before the London court around July.

Lynch received about $800 million for his stake in Autonomy, which started to turn sour before it was completed.

Many shareholders baulked at the 79 percent premium, and the architect of the strategy, then-chief executive Leo Apotheker was sacked.

Lynch was subsequently fired by Meg Whitman, who took over as HP CEO in 2012.

Both former CEOs are likely to appear as witnesses in the trial which is expected to continue until the end of the year.

(Additional reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Alexander Smith)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Miner works deep underground at Sibanye Gold's Masimthembe shaft in Westonaria
FILE PHOTO: Miner works deep underground at Sibanye Gold’s Masimthembe shaft in Westonaria, South Africa, April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo

March 25, 2019

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s gold and platinum mines will shed around 90,000 jobs in the next three years as above-inflation electricity price increases by power utility Eskom add to already soaring operating costs, an industry body said on Monday.

“In total, as many as 90,222 jobs would be at risk solely as a result of the MYPD4 tariff increases granted by Eskom,” the Minerals Council of South Africa said in a presentation.

Job cuts are politically sensitive in Africa’s most industrialized economy where a quarter of the labor force is unemployed, while power outages and steep price increases by Eskom are set to hurt an already fragile growth outlook.

In February, miner Sibanye-Stillwater said it planned to cut nearly 6,000 jobs in a restructuring of its gold mining operations, while Gold Fields said last year it could slash 1,100 jobs, and Impala Platinum plans to cut its workforce by a third.

Labor unions have threatened strikes over the job cuts at mining firms as well planned reductions at a numerous state-owned companies.

Energy regulator Nersa said in early March Eskom could hike tariffs by 9.41 percent in the 2019, 8.10 percent in 2020 and 5.2 percent in 2021, far less than Eskom’s request for increases above 15 percent in each of the three years.

The industry body said in its presentation that 71 percent of all gold mines and 65 percent of platinum mines were “loss-making or marginal” by the end of 2018, adding the power price hike would make the situation even worse.

Once the largest contributor to South Africa’s gross domestic product, mining has shrunk steadily over the last decade with hard-to-reach deposits, high wage settlements and uncertainty over ownership laws deterring investors against a backdrop of slack global demand.

Last week, Statistics South Africa data showed gold production contracted for the 15th month in a row, shrinking by 22.5 percent in January, while platinum output was up 8.8 percent in the same period.

“We see the Eskom crisis as not just a crisis but a potential disaster,” said Mines Council chief executive Roger Baxter.

(Reporting by Naledi Mashishi and Onke Ngcuka; Writing by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Mark Potter)

Source: OANN

Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation has fueled 533,074 web articles since its inception in May 2017, according to NewsWhip data cited by Axios.

After nearly two years of saturated media coverage of the topic, Attorney General William Barr delivered a report of the special counsel’s investigation to Congress Sunday. Barr wrote in a memo that the special counsel found no evidence the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

The investigation continues to dominate headlines — all four stories on the front page of The New York Times were Mueller-related Monday. (RELATED: Justice Department Delivers Mueller Conclusions To Congress – No Collusion)

The more than 530,000 articles on “Russia and Trump/Mueller” generated an additional 245 million likes, comments and shares on Twitter and Facebook since May 2017, according to Axios. That is not counting all of the airtime the investigation (and pundits’ opinions) received on cable news.

U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up sign to supporters who applauded as he returned to the White House after spending the weekend in Florida March 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up sign to supporters who applauded as he returned to the White House after spending the weekend in Florida on March 24, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

MSNBC seems to lead the pack when it comes to Mueller coverage, with over 4,200 posts mentioning the Mueller probe popping up when searched, according to research by the Republican National Committee (RNC). The RNC also found that 1,965 CNN stories mentioned the Mueller investigation since May 2017, while 1,156 by The New York Times mentioned it and 1,184 by The Washington Post.

The Mueller report seemingly attracted more coverage than other issues Americans also care about. For example, WaPo published 192 more stories about the Russian interference probe than about the Trump administration’s defeat of the Islamic State, according to research by the RNC.

Many pundits on the right called out members of the media for allegedly rooting for a different outcome in the Mueller probe.

“Mueller: no evidence of collusion [with] Russia. Now will the media who invested so much in this narrative accept it, remembering that they are not supposed to root for outcomes? Or will they hold on, looking for ways to save face on their earlier (wrong) predictions/coverage?” former NBC host Megyn Kelly wrote on Twitter Sunday.

Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

Send tips to [email protected].

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

Source: The Daily Caller

3D printed Android logo is seen in front of a displayed cyber code
A 3D printed Android logo is seen in front of a displayed cyber code in this illustration taken March 22, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

March 25, 2019

By Paul Day and Paresh Dave

MADRID/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – An independent study lead by an academic group in Spain has shown that what personal information can be collected by pre-installed programs on new Android mobile devices is expansive and faces little oversight.

The investigation by the public Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, IMDEA Networks Institute and Stony Brook University looked at apps pre-installed on Android devices from 2,748 users, spanning 1,742 unique devices from 214 vendors across 130 countries.

The study did not look at whether the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation laws would bring greater oversight to pre-installed apps on Android devices.

Though Alphabet Inc’s Google owns Android, its open source nature enables device makers to customize the operating system and package other apps with the operating system before delivering them to users.

The study found the setup posed a potential threat to users’ privacy and security because the pre-installed apps request access to data that similar apps distributed through Google’s Play app store cannot reach.

Pre-installed apps often cannot be uninstalled, and Google may not be performing as rigorous security checks of them as it does for app store versions, the researchers found.

“There is a lack of regulation and transparency and no one seems to be monitoring what these stakeholders and apps do,” said co-author of the study Juan Tapiador.  

Google said it provides tools to equipment manufacturers which helps them make sure their software does not violate Google’s privacy and security standards.

“We also provide our partners with clear policies regarding the safety of pre-installed apps, and regularly give them information about potentially dangerous pre-loads we’ve identified,” a Google spokesperson said.

Pre-installed apps recently have drawn increased scrutiny. A U.S. Department of Justice criminal probe into Facebook, which worked with hardware makers to ensure its app would be on users’ devices, is examining those partnerships, the New York Times reported last week.

The authors of the study noted their paper did not focus on any software developers in particular but was a rather a study in the lack of regulation and transparency that surrounded pre-installed apps found on new devices.

Facebook, which has said it is cooperating with multiple government investigations into its handling of users’ private data, said partnering with mobile operators and device manufacturers on pre-installations immediately give users the best experience on its social network.

(Editing by David Evans)

Source: OANN

The ticker symbol and logo for Goldman Sachs is displayed on a screen on the floor at the NYSE in New York
The ticker symbol and logo for Goldman Sachs is displayed on a screen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., December 18, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

March 25, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs’s British business on average paid women 51 percent less than men per hour in 2018, the U.S. investment bank said on Monday, down from 56 percent the year before.

The gap does not reflect the bank paying women at the same level differently from men, the bank said, but rather the fact that fewer women hold the more senior roles that have higher salaries and bonuses.

The data were released as part of rules requiring British firms to disclose regularly their gender pay gaps, and say what measures they are putting in place to try and close the divide.

(Reporting by Lawrence White; Editing by Mark Potter)

Source: OANN

The ticker symbol and logo for Goldman Sachs is displayed on a screen on the floor at the NYSE in New York
The ticker symbol and logo for Goldman Sachs is displayed on a screen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., December 18, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

March 25, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs’s British business on average paid women 51 percent less than men per hour in 2018, the U.S. investment bank said on Monday, down from 56 percent the year before.

The gap does not reflect the bank paying women at the same level differently from men, the bank said, but rather the fact that fewer women hold the more senior roles that have higher salaries and bonuses.

The data were released as part of rules requiring British firms to disclose regularly their gender pay gaps, and say what measures they are putting in place to try and close the divide.

(Reporting by Lawrence White; Editing by Mark Potter)

Source: OANN

Traders work on the floor at the NYSE in New York
Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

March 25, 2019

By Shreyashi Sanyal

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures dipped on Monday, struggling to shrug off global economic slowdown worries triggered by weak factory numbers, despite a report that President Donald Trump’s campaign did not collude with Russia and positive data from Germany.

S&P 500 futures initially rose on Sunday after the report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, but it left unresolved the issue of whether Trump obstructed justice by undermining the investigations that have dogged his presidency.

Wall Street’s main indexes on Friday posted their biggest one-day percentage declines since Jan. 3, after a clutch of dour factory data caused the spread between yields of U.S. three-month Treasury bills to exceed those of 10-year notes for the first time since 2007.

An inverted yield curve is widely understood to be a leading indicator of recession.

On Monday, yields on the 10-year bonds rose back above three-month rates, after a rise in a key German business confidence index.

A survey showed German business morale rose unexpectedly in March after six consecutive drops, suggesting that Europe’s largest economy is likely to pick up in the coming months.

Investors will keep a close watch for developments on trade as top U.S. officials travel to Beijing for the latest round of high-level talks, scheduled to start on March 28.

At 7:15 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 37 points, or 0.14 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were down 5.25 points, or 0.19 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 34 points, or 0.46 percent.

Among stocks trading premarket, Apple Inc dipped 0.3 percent ahead of an event where the company is widely expected to launch its video streaming service. The event is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. ET.

Akamai Technologies fell 3.8 percent after a report brokerage Deutsche Bank downgraded the stock to “sell” from “hold”.

Viacom Inc’s shares rose 4 percent after company and AT&T Inc renewed their contract to continue carriage of Viacom’s services.

(Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

Source: OANN

The German share price index DAX graph at the stock exchange in Frankfurt
The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Staff

March 25, 2019

By Medha Singh

(Reuters) – European shares fell on Monday on concerns over sluggish global growth but an unexpected rise in German business sentiment eased fears of a recession in the bloc’s largest economy.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index pared early losses to dip 0.12 percent while Frankfurt’s DAX, Milan’s, Madrid’s and Paris’s briefly turned positive after data showed German business morale improved unexpectedly in March, suggesting the country’s economy is likely to pick up in the coming months. London’s FTSE was marginally lower.

European stocks on Friday witnessed their biggest weekly decline this year following weak manufacturing data from Europe and the United States that inverted a part of the U.S. yield curve. In the past, that has signaled an upcoming recession.

“It’s the uncertainty around the outlook of the manufacturing sector which is causing the selloff which should be put into context of still a very healthy service sector,” said Mike Bell, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.

“There seem to be conflicting signals from the data with one survey telling things that things are deteriorating a bit in the manufacturing side but on the other hand the IFO survey is showing a pick up.”

Among the biggest weights on the pan-region index was Germany’s Bayer, down 2.1 percent. Its chief executive said over the weekend that management retained the backing of its supervisory board despite a second U.S. ruling that its glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer caused cancer.

While losses in health and technology sectors weighed on the index, a rise in auto stocks and banks limited losses.

Fiat Chrysler jumped 3.2 percent. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Italian carmaker had rebuffed merger approaches by Peugeot earlier this year.

British satellite operator Inmarsat jumped 8.6 percent to lead gains on STOXX after a private equity-led consortium agreed to buy the company for about $3.4 billion in cash.

Majestic Wine tanked 11.2 percent, on course for its worst day since November after it said it would review its dividend policy as it looks to focus on its online wine retail business Naked Wines.

Investors are also dealing with the uncertainty surrounding the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, with the risk of a potentially major “no-deal” shock to the European economy just over two weeks away.

Prime Minister Theresa May is under pressure to give a date for leaving office to swing Brexit-supporting rebel lawmakers in her party behind her twice-defeated European Union divorce treaty.

(Reporting by Medha Singh and Agamoni Ghosh in Bengaluru,; Editing by Keith Weir and Ed Osmond)

Source: OANN

The German share price index DAX graph at the stock exchange in Frankfurt
The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Staff

March 25, 2019

By Medha Singh

(Reuters) – European shares fell on Monday on concerns over sluggish global growth but an unexpected rise in German business sentiment eased fears of a recession in the bloc’s largest economy.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index pared early losses to dip 0.12 percent while Frankfurt’s DAX, Milan’s, Madrid’s and Paris’s briefly turned positive after data showed German business morale improved unexpectedly in March, suggesting the country’s economy is likely to pick up in the coming months. London’s FTSE was marginally lower.

European stocks on Friday witnessed their biggest weekly decline this year following weak manufacturing data from Europe and the United States that inverted a part of the U.S. yield curve. In the past, that has signaled an upcoming recession.

“It’s the uncertainty around the outlook of the manufacturing sector which is causing the selloff which should be put into context of still a very healthy service sector,” said Mike Bell, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.

“There seem to be conflicting signals from the data with one survey telling things that things are deteriorating a bit in the manufacturing side but on the other hand the IFO survey is showing a pick up.”

Among the biggest weights on the pan-region index was Germany’s Bayer, down 2.1 percent. Its chief executive said over the weekend that management retained the backing of its supervisory board despite a second U.S. ruling that its glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer caused cancer.

While losses in health and technology sectors weighed on the index, a rise in auto stocks and banks limited losses.

Fiat Chrysler jumped 3.2 percent. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Italian carmaker had rebuffed merger approaches by Peugeot earlier this year.

British satellite operator Inmarsat jumped 8.6 percent to lead gains on STOXX after a private equity-led consortium agreed to buy the company for about $3.4 billion in cash.

Majestic Wine tanked 11.2 percent, on course for its worst day since November after it said it would review its dividend policy as it looks to focus on its online wine retail business Naked Wines.

Investors are also dealing with the uncertainty surrounding the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, with the risk of a potentially major “no-deal” shock to the European economy just over two weeks away.

Prime Minister Theresa May is under pressure to give a date for leaving office to swing Brexit-supporting rebel lawmakers in her party behind her twice-defeated European Union divorce treaty.

(Reporting by Medha Singh and Agamoni Ghosh in Bengaluru,; Editing by Keith Weir and Ed Osmond)

Source: OANN

A woman passes by a Chase bank in Times Square in New York
A woman passes by a Chase bank in Times Square in New York City, U.S., March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

March 25, 2019

By Anna Irrera

NEW YORK (Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase & Co has awarded 47 financial grants to university faculty and PhD students for artificial intelligence research, ramping up its efforts in the emerging technology, the bank plans to announce later on Monday.

Winners of the JPMorgan’s first AI Research Awards will study the use of AI and machine learning in areas including investment advice, risk management, digital assistants and trading behavior.

The bank declined to disclose the size of the grants.

JPMorgan and other financial institutions have been investing more to develop artificial intelligence-based technology to better process the vast amounts of data they collect and produce, and to become more efficient.

But they are struggling to compete for the best computer-science talent with Silicon Valley startups and large technology companies such as Alphabet Inc’s and Amazon.com Inc.

Through the awards, the bank hopes to deepen ties with academia following the creation of its AI research division less than a year ago, Manuela Veloso, head of JPMorgan’s AI Research, said in an interview.

Veloso’s 16-member unit helps the bank come up with ways for AI to improve its internal processes, by automating more mundane tasks, and enhance services to clients.

The bank spends around $11.5 billion a year on technology and employs more than 50,000 workers in IT.

“The world is becoming increasingly digital and there is a lot of data,” Veloso said. “The only way for this data to be truly useful is to have an AI solution to process it.”

The division’s areas of research include data and cryptography and ethics and fairness.

While the grants do not require PhD fellows to join JPMorgan upon completing their studies, the hope is the awards can help attract talent.

“We want AI and other technical students, when they finish, to also consider joining JPMorgan instead of only thinking about the tech companies,” said Veloso, who is on leave from Carnegie Mellon University.

(Reporting by Anna Irrera in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Board building on Constitution Avenue is pictured in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Board building on Constitution Avenue is pictured in Washington, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

March 25, 2019

(Reuters) – One interest rate hike this year “at most” still makes sense given strong U.S. economic conditions, a Federal Reserve official said on Monday, despite risks that keep him in “wait-and-see mode” for now.

Strong economic growth and a positive outlook could still keep a rate hike on the table this year and another in 2020, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Patrick Harker said in London. He also said the Fed will not be making “any drastic change in the near future” to the kinds of bonds it keeps on its $4 trillion balance sheet.

Harker’s colleagues on the central bank’s policymaking committee on Wednesday abandoned projections for any interest rate hikes this year, citing signs of an economic slowdown.

Harker participates in Fed policy discussions but does not have a vote until next year. Markets regard the Fed’s next likely move as a rate cut.

Inflation is “edging slightly downward” and business confidence has declined, Harker said, factors causing him to see risks tilting “very slightly to the downside” and supporting the Fed’s pause after nine hikes since 2015 have brought the Fed’s target rate to between 2.25 and 2.5 percent.

“I continue to be in wait-and-see mode,” Harker said in a speech prepared for delivery to the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum. “My current view is that, at most, one rate hike this year, and one in 2020, is appropriate, and my stance will be guided by data as they come in and events as they unfold.”

NEUTRALITY, FLEXIBILITY FOR FED BALANCE SHEET

Harker also offered an update on the Fed’s balance sheet. On Wednesday the Fed said it would halt the steady decline of its bond holdings in September but left open questions of exactly what bonds the Fed would like to keep in the long run and how quickly it would try to get there.

The Fed will not go back to holding primarily Treasuries “for some time,” according to Harker. The Fed bought mortgage-backed securities in an unusual step after the financial crisis to help stabilize the housing market and economy.

Yet over time Harker said the central bank should seek to once again hold bonds that would have a neutral effect and give the central bank flexibility to again use bond buying if rates fall near zero and the economy needs stimulus.

To achieve that, Harker said the Fed should avoid cornering the market on any particular security or auction. The Fed could hold bonds of maturities of the same proportion as the broader Treasuries market, he said, or the central bank could favor holding bonds due in a year or less to give them more flexibility to buy longer-term bonds to provide stimulus.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in New York; Editing by Chris Reese)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows the skyline and lakefront of Chicago
FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows the skyline and lakefront of Chicago, Illinois, U.S., August 14, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young

March 25, 2019

By Karen Pierog

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Financial uncertainties swirling around Illinois and Chicago may not deter bond buyers when the two fiscally shaky governments sell more than $1.1 billion of debt this week.

Slim supply in the $3.8 trillion U.S. municipal market, yield-hungry investors, and the shelving of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve for the remainder of 2019 have tipped the scale in favor of sellers, investment managers said.

“We believe that if (Chicago and Illinois are) going to pick a time to come to market, now is a pretty good time to be coming,” said Dan Heckman, national investment consultant at U.S. Bank.

Illinois, the lowest-rated U.S. state at a notch or two above junk due to its huge unfunded pension liability and chronic structural budget deficit, will offer $452 million of taxable and tax-exempt general obligation (GO) bonds in competitive bidding on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, underwriters led by Barclays are scheduled to price $700 million of GO bonds for Chicago, which is also struggling with pension funding and deficits, just days before the city elects a mayor to replace the retiring Rahm Emanuel, who served two terms.

“My gut tells me these deals are going to get done and done at a level that is pretty attractive for Illinois and the city of Chicago and over a longer period of time will likely prove unattractive for investors,” said Nicholos Venditti, a portfolio manager at Thornburg Investment Management.

Illinois’ deal comes just weeks after the new Democratic governor, J.B. Pritzker, unveiled a fiscal 2020 budget and a plan to rescue the state’s sagging finances by switching to graduated income tax rates via a constitutional amendment process.

Budget measures, including the use of one-time revenue and a more than $800 million reduction in contributions to the state’s woefully underfunded pensions, could push Illinois closer to a junk credit rating.

“That is a significant risk,” Venditti said, adding that the situation is even “scarier” in Chicago, which already has a junk rating with Moody’s Investors Service, along with ratings of BBB-plus with S&P Global Ratings and BBB-minus with Fitch Ratings.

The city’s two mayoral candidates – Toni Preckwinkle, who currently heads the Cook County Board of Commissioners, and attorney Lori Lightfoot – have not disclosed detailed plans for addressing a projected $252 million fiscal 2020 budget deficit and escalating pension payments that will top $2 billion in 2023.

“At the city level, I think investors are flying blind,” Venditti said.

Meanwhile, demand is strong with municipal bond funds, including high yield, reporting big weekly inflows of investor dollars since early January, according to Lipper.

Muni bond supply totaling $63.8 billion so far in 2019 is 12 percent below the average year-to-date volume in the previous five years, according to Refinitiv data.

Given the “very, very attractive” muni bond environment for issuers, Heckman said there will be appetite for debt from Illinois and Chicago if their deals are “priced appropriately.”

Investors have been demanding hefty yields for the governments’ GO debt, with Illinois paying the biggest penalty among states.

(Reporting by Karen Pierog in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows the skyline and lakefront of Chicago
FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows the skyline and lakefront of Chicago, Illinois, U.S., August 14, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young

March 25, 2019

By Karen Pierog

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Financial uncertainties swirling around Illinois and Chicago may not deter bond buyers when the two fiscally shaky governments sell more than $1.1 billion of debt this week.

Slim supply in the $3.8 trillion U.S. municipal market, yield-hungry investors, and the shelving of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve for the remainder of 2019 have tipped the scale in favor of sellers, investment managers said.

“We believe that if (Chicago and Illinois are) going to pick a time to come to market, now is a pretty good time to be coming,” said Dan Heckman, national investment consultant at U.S. Bank.

Illinois, the lowest-rated U.S. state at a notch or two above junk due to its huge unfunded pension liability and chronic structural budget deficit, will offer $452 million of taxable and tax-exempt general obligation (GO) bonds in competitive bidding on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, underwriters led by Barclays are scheduled to price $700 million of GO bonds for Chicago, which is also struggling with pension funding and deficits, just days before the city elects a mayor to replace the retiring Rahm Emanuel, who served two terms.

“My gut tells me these deals are going to get done and done at a level that is pretty attractive for Illinois and the city of Chicago and over a longer period of time will likely prove unattractive for investors,” said Nicholos Venditti, a portfolio manager at Thornburg Investment Management.

Illinois’ deal comes just weeks after the new Democratic governor, J.B. Pritzker, unveiled a fiscal 2020 budget and a plan to rescue the state’s sagging finances by switching to graduated income tax rates via a constitutional amendment process.

Budget measures, including the use of one-time revenue and a more than $800 million reduction in contributions to the state’s woefully underfunded pensions, could push Illinois closer to a junk credit rating.

“That is a significant risk,” Venditti said, adding that the situation is even “scarier” in Chicago, which already has a junk rating with Moody’s Investors Service, along with ratings of BBB-plus with S&P Global Ratings and BBB-minus with Fitch Ratings.

The city’s two mayoral candidates – Toni Preckwinkle, who currently heads the Cook County Board of Commissioners, and attorney Lori Lightfoot – have not disclosed detailed plans for addressing a projected $252 million fiscal 2020 budget deficit and escalating pension payments that will top $2 billion in 2023.

“At the city level, I think investors are flying blind,” Venditti said.

Meanwhile, demand is strong with municipal bond funds, including high yield, reporting big weekly inflows of investor dollars since early January, according to Lipper.

Muni bond supply totaling $63.8 billion so far in 2019 is 12 percent below the average year-to-date volume in the previous five years, according to Refinitiv data.

Given the “very, very attractive” muni bond environment for issuers, Heckman said there will be appetite for debt from Illinois and Chicago if their deals are “priced appropriately.”

Investors have been demanding hefty yields for the governments’ GO debt, with Illinois paying the biggest penalty among states.

(Reporting by Karen Pierog in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Source: OANN

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen speaks during a panel discussion in Atlanta
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen speaks during a panel discussion at the American Economic Association/Allied Social Science Association (ASSA) 2019 meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., January 4, 2019. REUTERS/Christopher Aluka Berry

March 25, 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Former U.S. Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen said on Monday the U.S. Treasury yield curve may signal the need to cut interest rates at some point, but it does not signal a recession.

Yellen, who led the Fed between 2014 and 2018, was speaking at the Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong.

The yield curve inverted on Friday for the first time since mid-2007, a shift that has in the past signaled the risk of recession. The slope regained its ascendancy in European trading on Monday after stronger-than-expected German data.

Charles Evans, a voting member of the Fed’s policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee, told the same conference on Monday that it was understandable for markets to be nervous when the yield curve flattened.

(Reporting by Noah Sin; Editing by Kim Coghill)

Source: OANN

Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Evans visits the online music retailer Sweetwater in Fort Wayne
Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans visits the online music retailer Sweetwater, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, U.S. September 14 2018. REUTERS/Ann Saphir

March 25, 2019

By Noah Sin

HONG KONG (Reuters) – With downside risks looming and uncertainties rife, the U.S. Federal Reserve is prudent to wait for more economic data before deciding whether its next move will be to raise rates, or cut them, Chicago Fed Bank President Charles Evans said on Monday.

“If growth runs close to its potential and inflation builds momentum, then some further rate increases may be appropriate over time to ensure that the economy settles in on its long-run sustainable growth path and that inflation runs symmetrically about our 2 percent target,” Evans said in remarks prepared for delivery in Hong Kong.

“In contrast, if activity softens more than expected or if inflation and inflation expectations run too low, then policy may have to be left on hold – or perhaps even loosened – to provide the appropriate accommodation to obtain our objectives.”

Last week the U.S. central bank left rates steady in a range of 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent. Fresh forecasts showed 11 of 17 Fed policymakers expected no rate change for the rest of the year, up from just two in December. That unexpectedly dovish signal had financial markets quickly pricing in a rate cut next year.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell cited low inflation, a slowing global economy and risks like U.S. trade tensions with China for the need to remain patient “for some time.”

Evans, who votes on interest-rate policy this year, had as recently as January said it was entirely plausible the Fed could raise rates twice this year.

While his comments Monday did not rule out such a scenario, he said he had become less sanguine about the economic outlook since last autumn as uncertainties over global growth and trade policies increased. Recent economic data, he said, has been softer than anticipated.

Though there could be upside surprises, he said, including 3.8 percent unemployment fueling stronger consumer spending or accelerating inflation, downside scenarios in his view “loom larger.”

And even if prices do start to rise, he said, “given how muted inflationary pressures appear today, a rise to 2.25 to 2.5 percent is not a big concern to me at the moment.” That assessment suggests Evans has set the bar fairly high for further rate hikes, considering that inflation by the Fed’s preferred gauge has not been that much above the Fed’s 2-percent goal since before the financial crisis.

Still, Evans’ view that both rate hikes or rate cuts are in the realm of possibility echoed that of fellow policymaker Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic, who on Friday said both possibilities are on the table for him.

(Writing by Ann Saphir; Editing by Chris Reese)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An oil pumpjack painted with the colors of the Venezuelan flag is seen in Lagunillas
FILE PHOTO: An oil pumpjack painted with the colors of the Venezuelan flag is seen in Lagunillas, Venezuela January 29, 2019. REUTERS/Isaac Urrutia/File Photo

March 25, 2019

By Devika Krishna Kumar and Jessica Resnick-Ault

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry have made winners out of Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc, Gulf of Mexico offshore heavyweights, as refiners in need of substitutes are scooping up oil produced in the region.

Those two companies produce notable amounts of crude oil that refiners have settled on as the immediate replacement for the heavy Venezuelan crude that U.S. refiners relied on for years. Trading volumes in these grades of oil have surged to the highest in months, and prices touched five-year peaks after sanctions were imposed.

U.S. production has surged to a record 12 million barrels a day, but less than 5 percent of that is heavy oil. The sanctions have hamstrung refineries in the United States, as many giant Gulf Coast facilities need heavier oil to produce high-margin refined products like diesel and jet fuel.

Heavy crude accounts for nearly two-thirds of U.S. oil imports. Of that, Venezuela’s oil accounted for 10 percent of heavy crude imports in 2018 and about 13 percent in 2017, according to U.S. Energy Department figures.

Offshore Gulf oil prices – mostly Mars crude, considered the benchmark U.S. sour crude grade – have hit five-year highs, and sales are up sharply, according to company executives, market participants and data reviewed by Reuters.

“We’re buying more Mars for the current time,” said Marathon Petroleum Corp Chief Executive Gary Heminger. Marathon, one of the nation’s largest refiners, was not a major importer of Venezuelan crude. “Since we’re exporting so much in the light sweet crude markets, you’re going to have to bring in more medium sours.”

Shell operates the most Gulf platforms and BP has the highest volume of output from the region, according to figures provided by the companies. Representatives from the companies would not explicitly link the recent boost in sales of offshore crude to Venezuela’s sanctions, though they did acknowledge the market’s interest.

“We do understand that Mars crude is perceived well in the market right now. We’re happy for that and we take advantage of that,” said Rick Tallant, Shell’s vice president of deepwater Gulf of Mexico production.

Production in the Gulf of Mexico rose to a record 1.7 million barrels a day in 2018, and is expected to exceed 2 million bpd in the fourth quarter, according to U.S. Energy Department figures.

Sanctions have intensified the need for the oil that is being pumped out of these vast fields. Gulf production averaged 1.89 million bpd in March, up nearly 145,000 bpd from February, said Jodi Quinnell, oil analyst at Genscape.

GOING TO MARS

Mars generally refers to a medium sour grade of oil produced from the Mars platform, a joint venture between majority owner Shell and BP located about 130 miles (210 km) off the coast of New Orleans.

Refiners including Valero Energy Corp and Marathon have been scooping up Mars from Shell’s trading unit in the weeks following the sanctions, sources familiar with the deals said. Other refiners, such as Phillips 66, were also seen buying Southern Green Canyon (SGC), a grade similar to Mars, from Shell.

Trading in those grades has surged. Volumes in the Argus Sour Crude Index (ASCI), a tool reflecting prices of three U.S. deepwater sour crudes including Mars, rose to 614,036 contracts for February, the most in nearly a year, data from price reporting agency Argus Media show.

Volumes in Mars for February delivery rose to 410,536 contracts, the highest since August 2018, the data showed.

Prices of other offshore grades such as Thunder Horse, Bonito and SGC also surged to the highest in five years after sanctions took effect.

Phillips 66 declined to comment and Valero did not respond to requests for comment.

EASE OF ACCESS

In an auction of federal offshore leases this week, Shell submitted the most high bids for Gulf leases, winning 87 tracts of land valued at more than $84 million. BP grabbed the third-most parcels, winning 23 parcels priced at more than $15 million.

Shell’s pipeline partnership, Shell Midstream Partners, shipped 10 percent more crude on the Mars system to the Gulf Coast last year.

Both Shell’s Tallant and BP’s regional president for the Gulf of Mexico and Canada Starlee Sykes each said their company is continuing to actively invest in the Gulf, where they say crude can be produced at levels that were cost-competitive with that from shale formations.

With several new projects slated to come online as soon as this year, U.S. refiners could replace a good deal of heavy and medium-crude imports with Gulf barrels, said Sandy Fielden, director of commodities & energy research at Morningstar.

    “Because of their proximity and ease of access to this market, Gulf producers have a natural advantage selling new output to Gulf Coast refiners,” he said.

(Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar and Jessica Resnick-Ault; additional reporting by Stephanie Kelly in New York; Editing by Richard Chang and Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

People chat as the skyline of Singapore's financial district is seen in the background
People chat as the skyline of Singapore’s financial district is seen in the background April 14, 2014. REUTERS/Edgar Su

March 25, 2019

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore’s February core inflation rate eased to 1.5 percent from a year earlier, its lowest in nine months, due to smaller increases in the cost of services, retail items as well as electricity and gas, data showed on Monday.

The median forecast in a Reuters poll was for a 1.7 percent rise. The core inflation gauge in January had risen 1.7 percent from a year earlier.

Singapore’s headline consumer price index edged up to 0.5 percent in February from a year earlier, due to more gradual declines in private road transport and accommodation costs.

The median forecast in the poll was for all-items CPI to rise 0.5 percent.

In January, headline CPI rose 0.4 percent year-on-year.

(Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan and John Geddie; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

Source: OANN

Chris White | Energy Reporter

  • A new report suggesting that Facebook is using a secret code to deboost conservative content is sparse on evidence, according to tech experts.
  • It’s likely that reports showing Facebook suppressing conservative content could be overblown, experts warn. Examples of Facebook deboosting conservative content could be evidence of the company’s inability to moderate its platform.
  • Facebook’s inability to be transparent about the limits of artificial intelligence is creating a lot of problems for the social media giant, one artificial intelligence researcher warns.

Tech experts are criticizing a recent Project Veritas report suggesting Facebook is involved in a secret project designed to suppress conservative content on the platform.

Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe produced a report in February suggesting that Facebook is suppressing the distribution of conservative pages. The report included documents from an insider who claimed the company’s engineers were using a piece of code designed to weed out videos on suicide as a tool to deboost conservative content.

The tool the insider saw during her time at Facebook was labeled Sigma:ActionDeboostLiveDistribution, which is a type of artificial intelligence that does real-time voice-to-text analysis of live stream videos, then records the text, and tries to decipher what the content of the text means.

Content from The Daily Caller, internet pundit Mike Cernovich and others was allegedly targeted using this tool, according to the insider. (RELATED: Daily Caller Editor In Chief Locked Out Of Account For Tweeting ‘Learn To Code”)

Project Veritas’ report also included a memo from Facebook engineer Seiji Yamamoto, who reportedly told a colleague that Facebook should address “… quite a bit of content near the perimeter of hate speech.” Yamamoto, a data science manager, and others discussed in the memos how best to collect information about internet troll behavior for the purpose of shutting down supposedly malicious content.

Screenshot of internal Facebook memo explaining reason for deboosting Mike Cernovich’s page (Screenshot)

The report gained some traction on Twitter after its release, but got elevated to a higher level after Donald Trump Jr. wrote a March 17 editorial on big tech censoring conservatives. He mentioned O’Keefe’s reporting in the piece, writing that “we now know that Mark Zuckerberg’s social media giant developed algorithms to ‘deboost’ certain content, limiting its distribution and appearance in news feeds.”

Software engineers are now poking holes in Project Veritas’ conclusions. Neil Stevens, director of information technology at The Daily Caller, believes there is not much evidence supporting the conclusion O’Keefe’s group is making. Stevens is responsible for building up and maintaining websites for both TheDC and The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Facebook is trying to block suicide content but doing it on the cheap. Instead of using human beings to monitor videos, they’re using artificial intelligence/machine learning systems to scan mass amounts of video without any human intervention,” he told TheDCNF. “And in this case, it failed,” Stevens said, referring to the content O’Keefe provided as evidence that Facebook is deboosting conservatives.

Another likely scenario is that Facebook took note of how internet trolls were jumping into YouTube videos and editing them to include clips of people promoting suicide. Such videos might look normal until a jump-cut halfway through reveals a person demonstrating how to slit a wrist. Facebook tried to use this specific code to flush out such content, but their AI experienced false-positives, Stevens believes.

Screenshot of internal Facebook guide explaining reason for deboosting Mike Cernovich’s video content (screenshot provided by Project Veritas)

Facebook has faced criticisms of censoring individuals, many of whom are conservatives, though some Democrats are also dinging the Silicon Valley giant. Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, for instance, has advocated for breaking up what she believes is Facebook and Amazon’s monopoly. Conservatives meanwhile have hammered the company during the past few years over concerns related to censorship.

President Donald Trump’s social media director Dan Scavino Jr. was temporarily blocked on March 18 from making public Facebook comments. The ban claimed that “some of your comments have been reported as spam,” and that “to avoid getting blocked again,” he should “make sure your posts are in line with the Facebook Community Standards.” The president assured his supporters in a March 19 tweet that he “will be looking into this!” His tweet linked to a story about Facebook targeting Scavino.

Other engineers made similar observations. Emily Williams, a data scientist and founder of Whole Systems Enterprises, for one, argued that Facebook’s lack of transparency about the frailties of their AI-deep learning instruments makes it difficult for people to understand why and how content is being throttled. (RELATED: GOP Lawmakers Grill Social Media Giants Over Alleged Censorship Of Conservatives, Again) 

FILE PHOTO: A 3D printed Facebook logo is placed on broken glass above a printed EU flag in this illustration taken January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

“I think that is a very big stretch,” she said, referring to the belief that Facebook is using the code for anything other than flushing out content promoting suicide. “If Facebook came out and was transparent, that would be one thing, but a lot of people are arrogant and don’t want to admit their algorithms are imperfect,” said Williams, whose company provides AI solutions for a variety of industries.

She added: “If I were trying to weed out extremists I would not use this code. These codes are very good at what they are trained for but not very good at anything else.” Facebook is a profit-driven corporation, so if it wanted to target conservatives or liberals, then it would probably not use a code for a purpose other than what it was designed to do, Williams noted.

A more efficient process would be to “write an algorithm that tries to find those people specifically. Write one for the extreme left and extreme right. And a different one for ISIS and neo-Nazis,” she said. Stevens mirrored her comments, telling TheDCNF that using code for reasons other than the stated purpose risks creating a much higher rate of false-positives, all of which could affect content across the platform.

Facebook fired the insider in 2018 for breaking multiple employment policies, a company spokesman told TheDCNF. Project Veritas’ spokesman Marco Bruno told TheDCNF that his group stands behind O’Keefe’s report. “We happen to trust what our insider saw behind closed doors, and the documents she leaked, more than what Facebook will say on a podium,” Bruno said.

A Facebook spokesman directed TheDCNF to a section of the company’s policy page, which explains that deboosting sometimes occurs on the platform when users upload pre-recorded videos on the Facebook Live feature. The company has tools detecting when a person has misused the feature and can then prompt AI to deboost the non-live videos. Live videos are considered more newsworthy and thus take priority.

Follow Chris White on Facebook and Twitter

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

Source: The Daily Caller

MLB: Spring Training-Miami Marlins at New York Mets
Mar 8, 2019; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) delivers a pitch against the Miami Marlins during a spring training game at First Data Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

March 25, 2019

Pitcher Noah Syndergaard fired a shot at the New York Mets front office Sunday, expressing frustration that teammate Jacob deGrom hasn’t been signed to a contract extension and that the team has an unconventional travel schedule prior to Opening Day.

The Mets and deGrom, who won the 2018 National League Cy Young Award, talked in the offseason, but deGrom told reporters Saturday he wasn’t confident of an agreement in the next few days.

The Mets and deGrom agreed to a one-year, $17 million contract rather than go to arbitration in January. He is eligible to become a free agent in 2021, and Syndergaard said he doesn’t want it to reach that point. This weekend, the Boston Red Sox and ace Chris Sale agreed to a five-year, $145 million extension, and the Houston Astros reached a two-year, $66 million deal with former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander.

“Jake’s the best pitcher in baseball right now. I think he deserves whatever amount he’s worth. I want to keep him happy, so when it does come time for him to reach free agency, he stays on our side pitching for the Mets. I just think they should quit all this fuss and pay the man already,” Syndergaard told reporters.

–Cleveland Indians All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez was carted off the field after fouling a pitch off his left knee.

The switch-hitter was batting right-handed in the third inning of an exhibition game against the Chicago White Sox in Goodyear, Ariz.

Ramirez immediately dropped to the dirt and remained down for several minutes before being assisted to the medical cart. The team called it a left knee contusion and said Ramirez was being taken for X-rays.

–Catcher Erik Kratz will back up Buster Posey in San Francisco after the Giants traded for the veteran.

The Giants sent minor league infielder C.J. Hinojosa to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Kratz.

Kratz, 38, agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.2 million, with $300,000 guaranteed, with the Brewers in November. Milwaukee added Kratz last May in a deal with the New York Yankees and he played in 67 games for the Brewers, batting .236 with six home runs and 23 RBIs.

–The Cleveland Indians signed infielder Brad Miller to a one-year major league contract.

The versatile veteran has played almost every position on the diamond, but the Indians will likely ask him to handle second base while All-Star Jason Kipnis recovers from a right calf strain.

Kipnis has already been ruled out for Thursday’s season opener at Minnesota. Miller, 29, hit .385 with two homers and three RBIs this spring in 12 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

–Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Mark Trumbo will open the season on the injured list, manager Brandon Hyde confirmed.

Trumbo, who led the majors with 47 home runs in 2016, has batted .167 in 13 plate appearances this spring as he recovers from offseason surgery on his right knee. He is a two-time All-Star (2012, 2016) with a .250 career average, 218 home runs and 626 RBIs in 1,085 games with the Los Angeles Angels, Arizona Diamondbacks, Seattle Mariners and Orioles.

“We’re going to let him continue to do his rehab down here,” Hyde told reporters in Sarasota, Fla., according to MLB.com. “I give him so much credit for everything he’s done during his whole rehab process. Give him a ton of credit for trying to come back from a tough injury earlier than anybody has.”

–The Astros finalized a two-year extension with Justin Verlander, the team announced.

“Justin Verlander is one of the elite pitchers in baseball,” said general manager Jeff Luhnow in announcing the deal with the team’s ace. “His late-season arrival in 2017 helped the Astros deliver its first ever championship to the city of Houston. Our fans share in my excitement that Justin will be in an Astros uniform for at least three more years.”

The extension adds two years and $66 million to Verlander’s current deal, which had one year remaining. It makes Verlander the highest-paid pitcher in terms of annual average value ($33 million).

–The Chicago Cubs will option outfielder Ian Happ to Triple-A Iowa, meaning he won’t start the season on the big-league roster.

Happ, 24, was unhappy with the decision, according to manager Joe Maddon. He is expected to get time in center field, second base and third base. The Cubs also are hoping he’ll get more comfortable batting from the left side of the plate.

“I really don’t blame him,” Maddon said at spring training on Saturday. “The guy has really performed very well for us at different periods of time on the major-league level. He is so ingrained in the culture within the building and within the clubhouse. Great teammate. A lot of the veterans have accepted him very readily, which doesn’t happen often with young players.”

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

Illustration photo of a U.S. Dollar note
A U.S. Dollar note is seen in this June 22, 2017 illustration photo. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

March 25, 2019

By Shinichi Saoshiro

TOKYO (Reuters) – The dollar edged back from a six-week low against the yen early on Monday, as a degree of calm returned to the market gripped by fears of a recession in the United States.

The greenback had tumbled on Friday as the spread between 3-month Treasury bills and 10-year note yields inverted for the first time since 2007 following weak U.S. manufacturing PMI data.

An inverted yield curve has historically signaled an impending recession.

Cautious comments from the U.S. Federal Reserve last week had also raised worries about the growth outlook in the United States and the rest of the world.

The dollar was up roughly 0.2 percent at 110.13 yen after sinking to 109.745 on Friday, its lowest since Feb. 11.

“The dollar’s slide on Friday appeared to have been an algo-led reaction to the yield curve inversion and quite simply overdone. Some bargain hunting by market participants emerged to support dollar/yen,” said Yukio Ishizuki, senior currency strategist at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo.

“The response, on the other hand, to the Mueller report has been limited.”

Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russia, and did not present enough evidence to warrant charging Trump with obstruction of justice, U.S. Attorney General William Barr said on Sunday.

The dollar index was unchanged at 96.651 after scraping out a gain of 0.15 percent on Friday.

The euro was little changed at $1.1297. The common currency has lost roughly 0.7 percent on Friday after a much weaker-than-expected German manufacturing survey raised concerns for Europe’s biggest economy and the wider euro zone.

The Australian dollar, viewed as liquid proxy for global growth, stood little changed at $0.7077.

The pound was 0.1 percent lower at $1.3200

Sterling had rallied 0.8 percent on Friday, helped by a weaker euro and after European Union leaders gave British Prime Minister Theresa May a two-week reprieve to decide how Britain will leave the European Union.

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Source: OANN

Illustration photo of a Japan Yen note
A Japan Yen note is seen in this illustration photo taken June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

March 24, 2019

By Swati Pandey

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The Japanese yen hovered near a six-week high on Monday while Asian shares are expected to start lower as risk assets fell out of favor on growing worries about an impending U.S. recession, sending global bond yields plunging.

In Asia, Nikkei futures pointed to a weak start for Japan. Australian shares fell 0.3 percent at the open while New Zealand’s benchmark index faltered 0.9 percent.

Investors also kept one eye on the details of a nearly two-year U.S. investigation which found no evidence of collusion between Donald Trump’s election team and Russia, in a major political victory for the U.S. President.

U.S. stock futures were marginally higher during early Asian hours.

On Friday, all three major U.S. stock indexes registered their biggest one-day percentage losses since Jan.3 with the Dow sliding 1.8 percent, the S&P 500 off 1.9 percent and the Nasdaq dropping 2.5 percent.

Concerns about the health of the world economy heightened last week after cautious remarks by the U.S. Federal Reserve sent 10-year treasury yields to the lowest since early 2018. Adding to the fears of a more widespread global downturn, manufacturing output data from Germany showed a contraction for the third straight month.

In response, 10-year treasury yields slipped below the three-month rate for the first time since 2007. Historically, an inverted yield curve – where long-term rates fall below short-term – has signaled an upcoming recession.

“We have re-run our preferred yield curve recession models, which now suggest a 30-35 percent chance of a U.S. recession occurring over the next 10‑18 months,” said Tapas Strickland, markets strategist at National Australia Bank.

Typically a 40-60 percent probability sees a recession within the next 10-18 months, Strickland added, basing the analysis on previous recessions.

“The risk of a U.S. recession has risen and is flashing amber and this will keep markets pricing a high chance of the Fed cutting rates.”

Much of the concerns around global growth is stemming from Europe and China which are battling separate tariff wars with the United States. Political turmoil in Britain over the country’s exit from the European Union is also a major overhang for risk assets.

On Sunday, Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper said in a front page editorial British Prime Minister Theresa May must announce on Monday she will stand down as soon as her Brexit deal is approved.

The British pound was last flat at $1.3209 after three straight days of wild gyrations. The currency slipped 0.7 percent last week.

Politics was also in focus in the United States.

The long-awaited Mueller report into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to help Trump defeat his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, marked a major milestone of his presidency as he prepares for his 2020 re-election battle.

In currency markets, the Japanese yen – a perceived safe haven – held near its highest since Feb. 11. It was last off 0.1 percent at 110.04 per dollar.

The Australian dollar, a liquid proxy for risk play, was down for its third straight session of losses at $0.7072.

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Source: OANN

MLB: Spring Training-Miami Marlins at New York Mets
Mar 8, 2019; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) delivers a pitch against the Miami Marlins during a spring training game at First Data Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

March 24, 2019

Pitcher Noah Syndergaard fired a shot at the New York Mets front office Sunday, expressing frustration that teammate Jacob deGrom hasn’t been signed to a contract extension and that the team has an unconventional travel schedule prior to Opening Day.

The Mets and deGrom, who won the 2018 National League Cy Young Award, talked in the offseason, but deGrom told reporters Saturday he wasn’t confident of an agreement in the next few days.

The Mets and deGrom agreed to a one-year, $17 million contract rather than go to arbitration in January. He is eligible to become a free agent in 2021, and Syndergaard said he doesn’t want it to reach that point.

“Jake’s the best pitcher in baseball right now. I think he deserves whatever amount he’s worth. I want to keep him happy, so when it does come time for him to reach free agency, he stays on our side pitching for the Mets. I just think they should quit all this fuss and pay the man already,” Syndergaard told reporters.

This weekend, the Boston Red Sox and ace Chris Sale agreed to a five-year, $145 million extension, and the Houston Astros reached a two-year, $66 million deal with former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander.

“If there wasn’t a trend of other guys getting contract extensions, I don’t know what the circumstance would be. But you can see Chris Sale, Verlander, those guys getting extensions. I think it’s time Jacob gets one, too,” Syndergaard said.

The right-hander also said he didn’t understand the reasoning behind the Mets not returning to the Big Apple before their season opener Thursday. Instead, the team will leave Sarasota, Fla., and travel to Syracuse, N.Y., before heading to Washington, D.C., for the opener with the Nationals.

“I don’t know whose idea that was, but it’s not a smart one,” Syndergaard said. “I don’t think that’s conducive for winning ballgames, really — that much travel. I mean, I’m sure the amenities in Syracuse aren’t the best for a Major League Baseball team to go up there and have one last workout before the regular season starts, but those kinds of decisions are above my pay grade.”

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

Charles Kolb | Deputy Assistant to George H.W. Bush

If only Christopher Hitchens were still alive!

The Vanity Fair and former Nation journalist died of esophageal cancer at age 62 in December 2011. He would have a field day with today’s strange new world: the 2016 election, the Clintons (whom he detested), Trump’s presidential antics, Brexit (born a Brit, Hitchens became an American citizen), social media, artificial intelligence, and the 2020 presidential candidates.

Hitch was a great debunker. His irreverence was exceeded only by his intelligence, his eclectic reading, and his remarkable memory. He seemed to know just about everything, and his book titles trumpeted his strong verdicts. Bill Clinton was skewered in “No One Left to Lie To,” and his slim, scathing volume about Mother Teresa was titled “The Missionary Position.” There was, however, one unassailable Hitchens Hero: novelist and essayist George Orwell.

Hitchens’s 2002 book, “Why Orwell Matters,” is worth reading today. Hitchens praised Orwell as a relentless champion of liberty and equality whose vision embraced “a society of free and equal human beings.” Orwell despised communism and fascism, and his novels “Animal Farm” (1946) and “Nineteen Eighty-Four”(1949) warned about the danger of “Big Brother” governments that adopt authoritarian tactics against the governed.

Orwell never knew the Internet, but he surely would have been concerned about how social media platforms operate, with business models heavily reliant on algorithms that maximize profits by freely mining individual data at the expense of privacy. And that’s the problem: a Faustian bargain that says “give us your personal data in exchange for free services.” Governments now justify enhanced surveillance in exchange for enhanced security. As Hitchens wrote, Orwell believed deeply that “there should be no utilitarian tradeoff between freedom and security.”

To her credit, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) recognizes the dangers described by Orwell, and that is why she pledges to break up the big data-driven tech companies if she becomes president. Warren is not alone. The pushback is already starting: the European Union has adopted internet rules (the General Data Protection Regulation) that strengthen individual privacy, is pursuing vigorous antitrust enforcement, and has levied substantial fines against Facebook and Google. We can expect continued congressional hearings that will examine these firms’ business practices, their privacy protections, and their profits.

Hitchens probably would have panned Warren’s fake populism (“I’m a gonna get me a beer”) and her ludicrous Cherokee-heritage claims (“my papaw had high cheekbones”). But the irreverent journalist and the consumer-oriented senator probably would have agreed on curbing social media platforms, enforcing antitrust laws, and forcing changes to existing business models that mine “free data” while offering inadequate privacy guarantees. Warren deserves credit for pressing these issues.

Machines governed by algorithms (mathematical problem-solving formulas that impose a set of rules designed to seek, identify, and capture patterns) now impact increasing aspects of contemporary life. This development is not inherently bad. Algorithms drive a significant portion of daily stock-market trading. Driverless cars use algorithms to process information faster than human brains. Algorithms now fly planes and track our Internet activity, including our daily movements based on our cellphone locations.

Edward Snowden’s massive data dump revealed that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied to Congress when he told Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore) that the government was not collecting personal data on American citizens. The government was scooping up everything it could find and relying on algorithms to search that information for potential terrorist threats.

When algorithms become linked with the brave new emerging world of artificial intelligence, however, there is the potential for both good (health care, fraud prevention, driverless cars, airport facial recognition) and bad (China’s plans to use AI for political monitoring through a “social credit system” that tracks citizens and bolsters Communist one-party political control).

Along with Hitchens and Orwell, Elizabeth Warren worries about tradeoffs between freedom and security. We need to tame the use of algorithms and make them work for us, not against us. What makes us human is our personal interaction with other humans, not with machines.

“Orwellian” is now applied to situations involving official government deception, extensive secret surveillance, and evading reality through lies and misleading information. George Orwell and Christopher Hitchens are no longer with us, so we need crusaders like Elizabeth Warren (and others) to ensure that our world remains governed by humans and not by machines responding to impersonal mathematical formulas.

Charles Kolb served as deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy in the Bush White House from 1990-92.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Source: The Daily Caller

MLB: Spring Training-Houston Astros at New York Mets
Mar 2, 2019; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) throws against the New York Mets at First Data Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

March 24, 2019

The Houston Astros have finalized a two-year extension with ace pitcher Justin Verlander, the team announced on Sunday.

“Justin Verlander is one of the elite pitchers in baseball,” said general manager Jeff Luhnow in announcing the deal. “His late-season arrival in 2017 helped the Astros deliver its first ever championship to the city of Houston. Our fans share in my excitement that Justin will be in an Astros uniform for at least three more years.”

The extension adds two years and $66 million to Verlander’s current deal, which had one year remaining. It makes Verlander the highest-paid pitcher in terms of annual average value ($33 million).

Only outfielder Mike Trout, who will average nearly $36 million annually on his recently signed 12-year, $430 million deal, has a deal with a higher per-annum payout.

Verlander, 36, went 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA and an American League-leading 290 strikeouts in 34 starts last season, his first full season in Houston since coming over from Detroit in a trade in 2017.

Last season, the 2011 AL Cy Young winner finished second for the third time in voting for that award and was part of the top five for the seventh time. He also was the league Most Valuable Player in 2011.

Overall, Verlander is 21-9 in 39 starts with the Astros, posting a 2.32 ERA and striking out 333 batters in 248 innings. The Astros won the World Series in 2017 following the trade for Verlander.

The Astros already had reached extensions with All-Star third baseman Alex Bregman (six years, $100 million) and righty reliever Ryan Pressly (two years, $17.5 million) in the past few days.

Bregman, who turns 25 on Friday, finished fifth in the American League MVP voting last season after batting .286 with a league-high 51 doubles, 31 homers, 103 RBIs and 105 runs scored.

Pressley, 30, is under contract for $2.9 million in 2019 and would have been eligible for free agency after this season. The deal covers the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

Sister of Owais Malik, a suspected militant, displays her phone with the picture of Malik, at her home in south Kashmir's Kulgam district
Sister of Owais Malik, a suspected militant, displays her phone with the picture of Malik, at her home in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district February 16, 2019. REUTERS/Zeba Siddiqui

March 24, 2019

By Zeba Siddiqui and Fayaz Bukhari

KULGAM, India (Reuters) – Kashmiri farmer Yusuf Malik learned that his son Owais, a 22-year old arts student and apple picker, had become an armed militant via a Facebook post.

Days after Owais disappeared from his home in this picturesque valley below the Himalayan ranges, his picture appeared on the social network, posted by a user the family said they did not recognize. The short, thin, curly-haired young man in casual jeans and a T-shirt stared resolutely at the camera, both hands clutching an AK-47 rifle.

In blood red font on the photo was scribbled his new allegiance: the Hizbul Mujahideen, or ‘The Party of Warriors’, the largest of the militant groups fighting to free the mostly-Muslim Kashmir from Indian rule.

“He was a responsible kid who cared about his studies,” said Yusuf, 49, staring down at the carpeted floor of his brick home where he sat on a recent winter morning, clasping his folded hands inside his traditional pheran cloak.

The family said it has not heard from Owais since.

Owais is one of a rising number of local militants fighting for independence of Kashmir – an insurgency being spread on social media amid India’s sustained, iron-fisted rule of the region.

Hundreds of thousands of Indian troops and armed police are stationed in this lush region at the foot of the Himalayas. India and rival Pakistan have always disputed the area and in the past three decades, an uprising against New Delhi’s rule has killed nearly 50,000 civilians, militants and soldiers, by official count.

Historically, that insurrection has largely been led by militants from Pakistan, who have infiltrated into the valley.

But now, an increasing number of locally-born Kashmiris are picking up arms, according to Indian officials. About 400 local Kashmiris have been recruited by militants since the start of 2016, nearly double the number in the previous six years, according to government data. India says Pakistani groups continue to provide training and arms – a claim Islamabad rejects. 

Just a month before Owais Malik showed up on Facebook, another young man, Adil Ahmad Dar, left his home in a nearby part of Kashmir to join a militant group. This February, his suicide attack on a paramilitary convoy killed 40 Indian policemen, and took India and Pakistan to the brink of war.

After Dar’s attack, Indian security forces launched a major crackdown, searching Kashmiri homes and detaining hundreds of supporters, sympathizers and family members of those in armed groups. At least half a dozen gunbattles broke out between Indian police and militants.

The families of Dar and other young militants, as well as some local leaders and political experts, say run-ins between locals and security forces are one of the main reasons for anger and radicalization. After the recent crackdown, they expect more young people to take up arms.

“FREEDOM, MARTYRS”

Outside the narrow lane that leads to the Malik family home in Kulgam in southern Kashmir, children walk to school past shuttered shopfronts and walls spray-painted with the word “azadi”, the local word for “freedom”. The graveyard at the end of the lane has an area for militants, who are remembered as “martyrs”.

Dar’s family claims he’d been radicalized in 2016 after being beaten up by Indian troops on his way back from school for pelting stones at them.

“Since then, he wanted to join the militants,” said his father Ghulam Hassan Dar, a farmer.

India’s home and foreign ministries did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

In news conferences since the suicide bombing, Lt. Gen. K.J.S. Dhillon, India’s top military commander in Kashmir, has dismissed allegations of harassment and rights abuses by Indian troops as “propaganda”. He said the recent crackdown by security forces has resulted in the killing of the masterminds of the attack, and militant recruitment has dipped in recent months.

Syed Ata Hasnain, a retired army general who has served in Kashmir for over 20 years, said the rise in homegrown fighters does not surprise him. 

“Those who were born in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the conflict started, have now come of age,” he said. “This is a generation that has only seen the jackboot. The alienation of this generation is higher than the alienation of the previous generation.”

A 17th century Mughal emperor called Kashmir “paradise on earth”. But violence has ebbed and flowed in the valley since the subcontinent was divided into predominantly Hindu India and Islamic Pakistan after independence from Britain in 1947.

The question of Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, was never resolved, and it has been the catalyst for two wars and several violent clashes between the countries.

Tensions have risen after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in New Delhi in 2014. Modi promised a tougher approach to Pakistan and gave security forces the license to retaliate forcefully against the insurgency.

CULT FOLLOWING

Around that time, many young Kashmiris started rallying around Burhan Wani, who had left home at the age of 15 to join the insurgency. Wani had a large following on social media, where he appeared in videos dressed in military fatigues and armed with an assault rifle, calling for an uprising against Indian rule. 

He and his brother were beaten by security forces when they were teenagers, his family told local media. Wani was 22 when he was killed by security forces in 2016 and thousands attended his funeral despite restrictions on the movement of people and traffic.

The United Nations said in a report last year that in trying to quell mass protests in Kashmir since 2016, Indian security forces used excessive force that led to between 130 and 145 killings, according to civil society estimates.

Thousands were injured, including around 700 who sustained eye injuries from the use of pellet guns by security forces, it said. Thousands of people had simply disappeared since the insurgency began, it said.

The Indian government has rejected the report as false. Indian forces have long been accused of rights abuses and torture in custody in Kashmir, but officials routinely deny the charges.

Instead, India points the finger at Pakistan. Officials say the rebellion in Kashmir is being funded and organized by Pakistan and if they cut off those resources, the insurgency will weaken and it can then focus on building Kashmir’s economy. The Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group claimed responsibility for the latest attack, which was the deadliest in the insurgency.

Pakistan says it only provides moral support to the Kashmiri right to self-determination.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the Muslim spiritual leader of Kashmir who is considered a moderate separatist, contests that India has true plans to engage politically with the people of Kashmir.

“In the past five years we have seen that the government of India has only spoken to Kashmiris through the barrel of the gun, that’s it. There is no political approach,” he said.

“Nobody is dying in Kashmir for lack of roads, electricity and water.” 

LOSING ANOTHER SON

A few miles south of Owais Malik’s home in Kulgam lives Masuma Begum, who said her son and brother had been called in to an army camp two days after the latest bombing and have been held since then.

A military spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Behind the glass panes of a wall shelf above her were photos of a smiling young man, an assault rifle slung on his shoulder.

“That’s my other son, Tausif,” Masuma Begum said. The 24-year-old had joined the Hizbul Mujahideen in 2013 and been killed by the army the same year, she said. “I don’t want to lose another son.”

(Reporting by Zeba Siddiqui and Fayaz Bukhari in KULGAM; Editing by Martin Howell and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: U.S and China trade talks in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: Chinese staffers adjust U.S. and Chinese flags before the opening session of trade negotiations between U.S. and Chinese trade representatives at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. Mark Schiefelbein/Pool via REUTERS

March 24, 2019

(Reuters) – Ahead of fresh high-level trade talks this week, China is not conceding to U.S. demands to ease curbs on technology companies, the Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing three people briefed on the discussions.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are scheduled to travel to Beijing for talks starting on March 28, the White House said on Saturday.

The FT report said Beijing had yet to offer “meaningful concessions” to U.S. requests for China to stop discriminating against foreign cloud computing providers, to reduce limits on overseas data transfers and to relax a requirement for companies to store data locally.

China made an initial offer on digital trade that the United States judged as insufficient, the report said, citing a source.

China then retracted the offer after the United States demanded stronger pledges, the report said, without giving further details.

The White House and China’s Commerce Ministry did not respond to requests from Reuters for comment on Sunday.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday that the talks aimed at resolving the trade dispute were progressing and a final agreement seemed probable.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Neil Fullick)

Source: OANN

It’s easy to get distracted from your work with all the background noise. Whether you’re in the office, cafeteria, or gym, ensure that you’re able to focus completely on the task at hand with the HIGHWAVE Noise-Canceling Wireless Headphones. These fashionable headphones will block out distractions without breaking the bank!

Cancel out noise like never before with HighWave's wireless headphones

Cancel out noise like never before with HighWave’s wireless headphones

These HighWave Quality Noise-Canceling Wireless Headphones are on sale for just $67.99 for a limited time 

The HIGHWAVE Noise-Canceling Wireless Headphones provide active noise-cancellation up to 25db. The ergonomic design ensures that you can wear them all day without any pain or discomfort. Unlike other headphones that have a limited battery life of only a few hours, these headphones provide playback for up to 24 hours on a single charge.

Listen to an entire day's worth of music off of one charge!

Listen to an entire day’s worth of music off of one charge!

If you’re looking for a versatile and affordable pair of headphones, the HIGHWAVE Noise-Canceling Wireless Headphones is definitely a top pick. Thanks to the low latency engineering, these headphones function phenomenally for movies or games without any sound lag. You can answer calls with ease using the smart controls. Plus, the flexible cantilever allows for easy folding during travel.

Get the HIGHWAVE Noise-Canceling Wireless Headphones today for a deeply discounted price. Take 15% off the already discounted price by using code MADNESS15, which brings your total down to just $67.99!

Like this deal? Check out Vault, the best way to secure your online data for just $9.99/mo.

You can find even more great deals like this at The Daily Caller Shop.

Source: The Daily Caller

MLB: Spring Training-St. Louis Cardinals at New York Mets
Mar 22, 2019; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (46) connects for a double against the New York Mets during a spring training game at First Data Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

March 23, 2019

The St. Louis Cardinals announced a five-year extension for newly acquired first baseman Paul Goldschmidt on Saturday.

Financial terms were not revealed, but the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that it will pay him “around $130 million.”

The deal will keep Goldschmidt, 31, in St. Louis through the 2024 season.

“When we made the trade to acquire Paul, we knew we had added one of the game’s premier players,” Cardinals’ President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak said in a statement. “We are all excited for Paul’s introduction to St. Louis, and to our passionate fans, who we feel will make this the perfect match.”

Arizona traded Goldschmidt, a six-time All-Star, to St. Louis in December in exchange for right-hander Luke Weaver, catcher Carson Kelly, infielder Andy Young and the Cardinals’ Compensation B selection in the 2019 draft.

Goldschmidt has slugged 30 or more homers in four of the past six seasons, but the Diamondbacks were shopping the 31-year-old because he was entering the last season of his contract, which was slated to pay him $14.5 million. He batted .290 with 33 homers and 83 RBIs in 2018. He has three 100-RBI campaigns and has batted .300 or better three times since 2013.

Overall, he batted .297 with 209 homers and 710 RBIs in 1,092 games over parts of eight seasons for Arizona. He finished second in National League MVP balloting in 2013, when he set career highs of 36 homers and 125 RBIs, and again in 2015.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

The Daily Caller Shop | Contributor

Chugging a can of beer was easy when you were younger, but now that you’ve upgraded to bottled beer, shotgunning is much harder. Enter the Guzzle Buddy Beer Bottle, a drinking man’s new best friend. The Guzzle Buddy screws on to any bottle so you can down a beer just like you used to. The device is now a quarter of its original price in the Daily Caller shop.

Shotgunning a can, sure. But bottles? With this tool you can!

Shotgunning a can, sure. But bottles? With this tool you can!

The Guzzle Buddy Beer Bottle is now on sale for under $10 when you use the code MADNESS15 at checkout 

The Guzzle Buddy Beer Bottle is perfect for tailgates, Monday Night Football, or just to impress your friends. The bottle attachment is freezer safe so pop it in before the big game to enjoy a frosty drink. Simply toss it in the dishwasher when it needs to be cleaned.

The Guzzle Buddy makes the perfect gift (or gag gift) for the beer aficionado in your life. For only $11, less than the price as a six-pack of Bud Light, it can be yours.

Upgrade your drinking game by purchasing the Guzzle Buddy Beer Bottle in the Daily Caller shop. The price has been reduced from $14.99 to $11. Save an additional 15% with the discount code MADNESS 15 bringing the final price to $9.35.

Like this deal? Check out Vault, the best way to secure your online data for just $9.99/mo.

You can find even more great deals like this at The Daily Caller Shop.

Source: The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller Shop | Contributor

Chugging a can of beer was easy when you were younger, but now that you’ve upgraded to bottled beer, shotgunning is much harder. Enter the Guzzle Buddy Beer Bottle, a drinking man’s new best friend. The Guzzle Buddy screws on to any bottle so you can down a beer just like you used to. The device is now a quarter of its original price in the Daily Caller shop.

Shotgunning a can, sure. But bottles? With this tool you can!

Shotgunning a can, sure. But bottles? With this tool you can!

The Guzzle Buddy Beer Bottle is now on sale for under $10 when you use the code MADNESS15 at checkout 

The Guzzle Buddy Beer Bottle is perfect for tailgates, Monday Night Football, or just to impress your friends. The bottle attachment is freezer safe so pop it in before the big game to enjoy a frosty drink. Simply toss it in the dishwasher when it needs to be cleaned.

The Guzzle Buddy makes the perfect gift (or gag gift) for the beer aficionado in your life. For only $11, less than the price as a six-pack of Bud Light, it can be yours.

Upgrade your drinking game by purchasing the Guzzle Buddy Beer Bottle in the Daily Caller shop. The price has been reduced from $14.99 to $11. Save an additional 15% with the discount code MADNESS 15 bringing the final price to $9.35.

Like this deal? Check out Vault, the best way to secure your online data for just $9.99/mo.

You can find even more great deals like this at The Daily Caller Shop.

Source: The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller Shop | Contributor

Chugging a can of beer was easy when you were younger, but now that you’ve upgraded to bottled beer, shotgunning is much harder. Enter the Guzzle Buddy Beer Bottle, a drinking man’s new best friend. The Guzzle Buddy screws on to any bottle so you can down a beer just like you used to. The device is now a quarter of its original price in the Daily Caller shop.

Shotgunning a can, sure. But bottles? With this tool you can!

Shotgunning a can, sure. But bottles? With this tool you can!

The Guzzle Buddy Beer Bottle is now on sale for under $10 when you use the code MADNESS15 at checkout 

The Guzzle Buddy Beer Bottle is perfect for tailgates, Monday Night Football, or just to impress your friends. The bottle attachment is freezer safe so pop it in before the big game to enjoy a frosty drink. Simply toss it in the dishwasher when it needs to be cleaned.

The Guzzle Buddy makes the perfect gift (or gag gift) for the beer aficionado in your life. For only $11, less than the price as a six-pack of Bud Light, it can be yours.

Upgrade your drinking game by purchasing the Guzzle Buddy Beer Bottle in the Daily Caller shop. The price has been reduced from $14.99 to $11. Save an additional 15% with the discount code MADNESS 15 bringing the final price to $9.35.

Like this deal? Check out Vault, the best way to secure your online data for just $9.99/mo.

You can find even more great deals like this at The Daily Caller Shop.

Source: The Daily Caller

MLB: Spring Training-Houston Astros at New York Mets
Mar 2, 2019; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) throws against the New York Mets at First Data Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

March 23, 2019

The Houston Astros are closing in on a two-year extension worth $66 million for ace pitcher Justin Verlander, according to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com.

Verlander, 36, went 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA and an American League-leading 290 strikeout in 34 starts last season, his first full season in Houston since coming over from Detroit in a trade in 2017.

Last season, the 2011 AL Cy Young winner finished second for the third time in voting for that award and was part of the top five for the seventh time. He also was the league Most Valuable Player in 2011.

Overall, Verlander is 21-9 in 39 starts with the Astros, posting a 2.32 ERA and striking out 333 batters in 248 innings. The Astros won the World Series in 2017 following the trade for Verlander.

The Astros already reached extensions with All-Star third baseman Alex Bregman (six years, $100 million) and righty reliever Ryan Pressly (two years, $17.5 million) in the past few days.

Bregman, who turns 25 on March 30, finished fifth in the American League MVP voting last season after batting .286 with a league-high 51 doubles, 31 homers, 103 RBIs and 105 runs scored.

Pressley, 30, is under contract for $2.9 million in 2019 and would have been eligible for free agency after this season. The deal covers the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

Mason Thibault | Contributor

Are you interested in upgrading your home security? Staying hyper-connected for your security needs is the new norm, and LaView, a California based company is looking to set a new standard for premium home security.

LaView’s new ONE Link system features fantastic tech and specs for getting the job done, including HD 1080P wire-free battery cameras with easy magnetic mounting for flexible 360° angling and seamless portability. It is also very easy to use as the system comes with a Smart Station that plugs directly into the user’s router and employs a single-button synching process to connect all the wireless security cameras.

Why take a chance on home security? With LaViews ONE link, your entire security camera system can stay connected for up to six months without need for recharging!

Why take a chance on home security? With LaViews ONE link, your entire security camera system can stay connected for up to six months without need for recharging!

Why pay hundreds of dollars per camera that require constant maintenance or replacement? LaView’s OneLink system is cost effective and includes an entire WiFI ecosystem for home security 

Over the past year, LaView has developed the ONE Series – its collection of smart home- friendly, WiFi camera solutions. This series of DIY units is designed to address the one-off surveillance needs of their clients, while integrating into a single app. The ONE Link fits perfectly into this range of wireless home security cameras, promoting versatility and ease with its Smart Station.

The Smart Station is the brains of the operation for the ONE Link. Single-button synching with each wireless outdoor camera creates a secure ecosystem of WiFi coverage that doesn’t require users to reenter network credentials when connecting and disconnecting the cameras. Plus, linking via the Smart Station increases the wireless security cameras’ already long-lasting 3- month standby life to an unprecedented 6-month battery life per single charge.

The flexibility goes even further with multiple storage options. Each camera in the ONE Link system is equipped with an onboard micro SD slot that supports up to 128GB of data. That makes for easy, free recording and instant physical access to the HD footage. If local storage doesn’t suit the user, they can take advantage of LaView’s affordable cloud service for expanded data capacity and encrypted security. Or, users can choose both options to guarantee the safety and accessibility of their footage.

Thermal detection gives you unprecedented vision and mindfulness for your security needs

Thermal detection gives you unprecedented vision and mindfulness for your security needs

The ONE Link is all about giving users the freedom to change their minds. Magnetic mounting plates screw into any surface for simple installation, custom 360° angling and easy mobility. Users can place the wireless security cameras indoors, outdoors or take them on-the-go for coverage during a family vacation. Mobile versatility is a big focus for LaView as they continue to develop their ONE Series solutions. These wireless home security cameras let users have their security, their way, with the Smart Station as the link between them and the future of smart home surveillance.

Have a suggestion for a cool product or great deal that you think Daily Caller readers need to know about? Email the Daily Dealer at d[email protected].

Follow The Daily Dealer on Twitter and Facebook

The Daily Caller is devoted to showing you things that you’ll like or find interesting. This is a sponsored post. We do have partnerships with affiliates, so The Daily Caller may get a small share of the revenue from any purchase.

Source: The Daily Caller

Oman's Oil Minister Mohammed bin Hamad al-Rumhy talks to journalists as he leaves the OPEC headquarters in Vienna
Oman’s Oil Minister Mohammed bin Hamad al-Rumhy talks to journalists as he leaves the OPEC headquarters in Vienna, Austria December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

March 23, 2019

COLOMBO (Reuters) – Oman’s oil minister arrived in Sri Lanka on Saturday to participate in the launching of a $3.85 billion oil refinery project, government officials in Colombo said, three days after Oman said it had not yet agreed to invest in the facility.

The arrival of Mohammed bin Hamad Al Rumhy could mean that the project – Sri Lanka’s biggest foreign direct investment deal – is back on track. However, there is no immediate sign of a formal deal involving Omani investment.

Sri Lankan officials said on Tuesday Oman’s oil ministry planned to take a 30 percent stake in the project.

A Singapore company controlled by India’s Accord Group would invest the other 70 percent. The storage tanks part of the facility would be owned fully by the Accord entity.

But on Wednesday, Oman denied knowing about its part in the plan to build the refinery on Sri Lanka’s southern coast.

“He [Oman’s oil minister] is here to take part in the ground breaking ceremony for the oil tanks of the refinery,” a senior official at Sri Lanka’s strategic development ministry told Reuters.

Officials from Oman’s oil ministry were not immediately available for comment.

The refinery is being constructed near a $1.4 billion port at Hambantota that is controlled by China Merchants Port Holdings.

India and China have been vying for political influence in Sri Lanka in recent years, with investment a key part of the battleground.

China is the biggest buyer of Omani oil, importing about 80 percent of the Middle Eastern nation’s overall crude exports in January, according to Oman government data.

Another government official confirmed the minister’s arrival and his participation at the ceremony in Hambantota on Sunday.

There are also plans in place by China Harbour Engineering Corp to build an investment zone alongside the port.

(Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Martin Howell and Clelia Oziel)

Source: OANN

MLB: Spring Training-St. Louis Cardinals at New York Mets
Mar 22, 2019; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (46) connects for a double against the New York Mets during a spring training game at First Data Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

March 23, 2019

Paul Goldschmidt had a double, a triple and a home run, and the St. Louis Cardinals cruised to a 15-5 win over the New York Mets on Friday in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Goldschmidt wrapped up his mammoth performance shortly after agreeing to a five-year, $130 million contract extension, according to multiple reports. The Cardinals acquired the 31-year-old slugger from the Arizona Diamondbacks during the offseason in exchange for pitcher Luke Weaver and a pair of minor-league prospects.

Yadier Molina went 2-for-4 with three RBIs in the Cardinals’ victory. Marcell Ozuna belted his second homer of the spring and drove in a pair of runs.

Mets infielder Jeff McNeil went 3-for-5 with a solo home run in the loss. He is hitting .364 on the spring.

Yankees 6, Phillies 3

Giancarlo Stanton ripped a pair of home runs, and New York recorded a big win over visiting Philadelphia in Tampa, Fla. Zack Britton posted a victory in one of his first appearances with his new club.

Diamondbacks 10, Dodgers 4

Adam Jones homered and drove in four runs from the leadoff spot, and Arizona coasted to a lopsided win over host Los Angeles in Phoenix. Justin Turner and Jeren Kendall homered for the Dodgers.

Rays 3, Pirates 2

Avisail Garcia went 3-for-3 with a pair of RBIs, and Tampa Bay managed a narrow victory over visiting Pittsburgh in Port Charlotte, Fla.

Brewers 6, Reds 4

Cory Spangenberg had two hits and two RBIs as Milwaukee outlasted visiting Cincinnati thanks to a solid bullpen performance in Phoenix. The Brewers’ pen allowed no hits or runs in 3 2/3 innings.

Cubs 7 (ss), Rangers 3

Jose Quintana allowed one run on four hits in six innings, and Chicago cruised to a win over visiting Texas in Mesa, Ariz. Javy Baez and Ben Zobrist each homered.

Angels (ss) 5, White Sox 4

Mike Trout blasted a three-run home run off of left-hander Carlos Rodon, and Los Angeles held on for a narrow win over visiting Chicago in Tempe, Ariz. Leury Garcia homered for the White Sox.

Red Sox 10, Twins 6

Jackie Bradley Jr. homered and drove in three runs as visiting Boston coasted past Minnesota in Fort Myers, Fla. Andrew Benintendi was among three other Red Sox players to homer.

Braves 4, Tigers 3

Julio Teheran struck out five batters in as many innings, and Atlanta scratched out a narrow win over visiting Detroit in Kissimmee, Fla.

Astros 7, Mets 3

Alex Bregman clubbed his third homer of the spring, and Houston relied on a five-run sixth inning to knock off visiting New York in West Palm Beach, Fla. Yuli Gurriel also went yard for the Astros.

Blue Jays 4, Orioles 0

Anibal Sanchez allowed only one hit over six scoreless innings as Toronto beat visiting Baltimore in Dunedin, Fla. Justin Smoak and Brandon Drury each homered for the Blue Jays.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Raphael W. Bostic speaks at a European Financial Forum event in Dublin
FILE PHOTO: President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Raphael W. Bostic speaks at a European Financial Forum event in Dublin, Ireland February 13, 2019. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyn/File Photo

March 23, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve’s patient approach to monetary policy does not mean the U.S. central bank will not increase interest rates, or cut them, should the need arise, the president of the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank, Raphael Bostic, said on Friday.

“We may move up; we may move down,” Bostic said in remarks prepared for delivery to a monetary policy conference at the San Francisco Fed.

The comments were Bostic’s first since the Fed made an unexpectedly dovish shift on Wednesday. Eleven of its 17 policymakers forecast no rate hikes this year, and Fed Chairman Jerome Powell cited low inflation, a slowing global economy and risks like U.S. trade tensions with China for the need to remain patient “for some time.”

After the Wednesday announcement, financial markets, which had already priced out any chance of a rate hike this year, began pricing in the likelihood of a rate cut next year.

But to see the Fed’s recent pronouncements as a “definitive signal” that the central bank will hold rates steady for the balance of the year is not accurate, Bostic said on Friday, adding that patience does not constrain the Fed’s options.

“I am open to all possibilities as we aim to support sustained economic expansion, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near the Committee’s symmetric 2 percent objective,” Bostic said, referring to the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee. “Markets should understand that, so I hope I have made my position clear.”

In February, Bostic said he expected the Fed would need to raise interest rates once this year, after raising rates four times in 2018. He did not say how many rate hikes he now thinks are appropriate.

The Fed has become increasingly worried about meeting its 2 percent inflation target and skeptical that the Trump administration’s tax cuts and deregulation will unleash faster economic growth.

So have financial markets.

Data published earlier on Friday showed U.S. manufacturing activity unexpectedly cooled in March, a troubling sign for the U.S. economic outlook that helped push long-term borrowing costs below short-term ones, an indication of near-term risk and seen by many as a potential harbinger of recession.

The spread between yields on three-month Treasury bills <US3MT=RR> and 10-year notes <US10YT=RR> fell below zero for the first time since 2007 after U.S. manufacturing data missed estimates.

Earlier on Friday, data out of Germany showed the factory sector there was continuing to contract, another worrying sign for the global economy.

(Reporting by Ann Saphir;Editing by Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Mexico's Finance Minister Carlos Urzua speaks during a news conference to announce a plan to strengthen finances of state oil firm Pemex, at the National Palace in Mexico City
FILE PHOTO: Mexico’s Finance Minister Carlos Urzua speaks during a news conference to announce a plan to strengthen finances of state oil firm Pemex, at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico February 15, 2019. Picture taken February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero

March 22, 2019

ACAPULCO, Mexico (Reuters) – Mexico is developing rules that would cap the amount of cash that can used to buy real estate, Finance Minister Carlos Urzua said on Friday, part of a push to reduce the use of physical currency in a country rife with money laundering and corruption.

Urzua, speaking at a banking convention in the resort town of Acapulco, said the government was also considering rules that would require all its payments and collections to be processed electronically.

Also under discussion is the creation of incentives for professionals such as doctors, lawyers and architects to accept electronic payments over cash, he said.

Nearly 57 percent of people in Mexico work off the books, according to government data. Millions lack bank accounts and an estimated 90 percent of all transactions are done in cash.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office in December, has made it one of his priorities to draw more people into the formal economy and reduce cash in circulation to cut down on the laundering of proceeds from the drug trade and other illicit activities.

(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon in Mexico City and Dave Graham in Acapulco; Editing by Tom Brown)

Source: OANN

The U.S. Capitol is seen in Washington after Special Counsel Mueller handed in report on Trump-Russia investigation in W
The U.S. Capitol is seen after Special Counsel Robert Mueller handed in a keenly awaited report on his investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election and any potential wrongdoing by U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

March 22, 2019

(Reuters) – Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election has ensnared dozens of people, including several advisers to President Donald Trump and a series of Russian nationals and companies.

Rod Rosenstein, the No. 2 U.S. Justice Department official, in May 2017 appointed Mueller to look into Russian interference, whether members of Trump’s campaign coordinated with Moscow officials and whether the Republican president has unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe. Mueller has charged 34 people and three companies.

Trump denies collusion and obstruction. Russia denies election interference.

Mueller has handed in a report on his investigation, the Department of Justice said on Friday.

The following are those who have pleaded guilty or have been indicted in Mueller’s inquiry. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/2RwJarW)

PAUL MANAFORT

Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, guilty of five counts of tax fraud, was sentenced to a combined 7-1/2 years in prison in two cases brought by Mueller in which he was convicted by a jury in Virginia in August 2018 and pleaded guilty a month later in Washington.

In Virginia, he was found guilty of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.

Manafort, who prosecutors said tried to conceal from the U.S. government millions of dollars he was paid as a political consultant for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy in a separate case in Washington and agreed to cooperate with Mueller. The Washington case had focused on accusations of money laundering and failing to report foreign bank accounts, among other charges.

A judge on Feb. 13 ruled that Manafort had breached his agreement to cooperate with Mueller by lying to prosecutors about three matters pertinent to the Russia probe including his interactions with a business partner, Konstantin Kilimnik, who they have said has ties to Russian intelligence.

MICHAEL COHEN

Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, pleaded guilty in August 2018 to crimes including orchestrating “hush money” payments before the 2016 election to women who have said they had sexual encounters with Trump, violating campaign laws. That case was handled by federal prosecutors in New York, not Mueller’s office.

As part of a separate agreement with Mueller’s team, Cohen pleaded guilty in November 2018 to lying to Congress about negotiations concerning a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow, a project that never materialized.

Cohen is due to report to prison on May 6 to begin serving a three-year prison sentence.

Cohen in February 2019 testified at a public hearing before a House of Representatives committee. He accused Trump of approving the “hush money” payments and knowing in advance about the 2016 release by the WikiLeaks website of emails that prosecutors have said were stolen by Russia to harm Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. He said Trump implicitly directed him to lie about the Moscow real estate project.

He promised to keep cooperating with prosecutors and made multiple closed-door appearances before congressional panels.

MICHAEL FLYNN

Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser for less than a month in early 2017, pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia during Trump’s presidential transition and agreed to cooperate with Mueller.

Trump fired him as national security adviser after it emerged that Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence and the FBI about his dealings with the then-Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. His sentencing is pending.

ROGER STONE

The longtime Trump ally and presidential campaign adviser was charged in January 2019 with seven criminal counts including obstruction of an official proceeding, witness tampering and making false statements, pleading not guilty.

His trial date has been set for Nov. 5.

Prosecutors said Stone shared with members of the Trump campaign team advance knowledge of the plan by WikiLeaks to release the stolen Democratic emails. Prosecutors also accused him of trying to interfere with a witness, a radio host who matched the profile of Randy Credico.

RICK GATES

The former deputy chairman of Trump’s campaign, Gates pleaded guilty in February 2018 to conspiracy against the United States and lying to investigators. He agreed to cooperate with Mueller and testified as a prosecution witness against Manafort, his former business partner. His sentencing is pending.

KONSTANTIN KILIMNIK

A Manafort aide in Ukraine and a political operative described by prosecutors as linked to Russian intelligence, Kilimnik was charged in June 2018 with tampering with witnesses about their past lobbying for Ukraine’s former pro-Russian government.

Prosecutors said in January 2019 that Manafort shared political polling data with Kilimnik in 2016, providing an indication that Trump’s campaign may have tried to coordinate with Russians.

TWELVE RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS

Twelve Russian intelligence officers were indicted by a federal grand jury in July 2018, accused of hacking the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations as part of a Russian scheme to release emails damaging to Clinton during the 2016 race. They covertly monitored employee computers and planted malicious code, as well as stealing emails and other documents, according to the indictment.

THIRTEEN RUSSIAN NATIONALS, THREE COMPANIES

Thirteen Russians and three Russian companies were indicted in Mueller’s investigation in February 2018, accused of taking part in an elaborate campaign to sow discord in the United States ahead of the 2016 election and harm Clinton’s candidacy in order to boost Trump. The companies included: the Internet Research Agency, a St. Petersburg-based propaganda arm known for trolling on social media; Concord Management and Consulting; and Concord Catering.

GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS

The former Trump campaign adviser was sentenced in September 2018 to 14 days in prison after pleading guilty in October 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials, including a professor who told him the Russians had “dirt” on Clinton.

ALEX VAN DER ZWAAN

A lawyer who once worked closely with Manafort and Gates, Van Der Zwaan pleaded guilty in February 2018 to lying to Mueller’s investigators about contacts with a Trump campaign official. Van Der Zwaan, the Dutch son-in-law of one of Russia’s richest men, was sentenced in April 2018 to 30 days in prison and fined $20,000.

RICHARD PINEDO

Pinedo was not involved with the Trump campaign, but in February 2018 pleaded guilty to identity fraud in a case related to the Mueller investigation for helping Russian conspirators launder money, purchase Facebook ads and pay for supplies.

He was sentenced in October 2018 to six months in jail and six months of home detention.

(Compiled by Susan Heavey, Sarah N. Lynch, Jan Wolfe; Editing by Will Dunham and Grant McCool)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands as they hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

March 22, 2019

By Andy Sullivan

(Reuters) – Special Counsel Robert Mueller and other U.S. prosecutors have been investigating whether President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign conspired with Russia. Trump and Moscow have denied any collusion.

Mueller handed in the keenly awaited report on his probe, the Justice Department said on Friday.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded Russia interfered in the presidential election with a campaign of hacking and propaganda to sow discord in the United States and damage the Republican Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. Russia denies it.

Here are some key interactions between Trump advisors and Russian figures that have been unearthed by Mueller’s probe and investigations in Congress.

TRUMP TOWER MEETING

Several top Trump aides, including campaign chairman Paul Manafort, son-in-law Jared Kushner and son Donald Trump Jr., met in June 2016 at Trump Tower in New York with a Russian lawyer who had offered damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. U.S. prosecutors said the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was an agent for the Kremlin. The meeting was arranged by Rob Goldstone, a British music publicist. Participants in the meeting said nothing improper occurred and that Veselnitskaya discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia and adoption policy, not election issues. The president said he did not know about the meeting beforehand.

EFFORTS TO BUILD A SKYSCRAPER IN MOSCOW

Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, said he pursued a deal to build a Trump-branded skyscraper in Moscow until June 2016, after Trump had clinched the Republican presidential nomination. Cohen said in a guilty plea that he spoke with an assistant to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary in January of that year and briefed Trump on the project more than three times.

Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said the Moscow skyscraper talks continued until Trump won the November 2016 election but later said he misspoke.

Trump, who repeatedly said during the campaign that he had no contacts with Russia, said after Cohen’s guilty plea in November 2018 there was nothing wrong with pursuing the deal.

EFFORTS TO SET UP A MEETING WITH RUSSIAN LEADERS

Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos worked between March 2016 and August 2016 to set up a meeting with Russian leadership, according to prosecutors. They said a London-based professor with ties to the Russian government told him in April 2016 that Moscow had compromising information on Clinton.

Papadopoulos served 14 days in prison after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about those efforts.

MANAFORT OFFERS CAMPAIGN INSIGHTS

Manafort shared election campaign polling data in August 2016 with Konstantin Kilimnik, a former business partner who Mueller has described as having ties to Russian intelligence, according to a court filing inadvertently made public by Manafort’s lawyers. The two also discussed a plan to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, a major Kremlin foreign policy goal as it seeks relief from U.S. economic sanctions, according to court filings.

Manafort, a veteran Republican political consultant who earned million of dollars working for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, also offered private briefings about the campaign to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who is close to Putin, in an effort to collect past debts, according to the Washington Post.

ROGER STONE AND WIKILEAKS

Roger Stone, a veteran Republican political consultant who has worked on and off with Trump for decades, shared with Trump campaign officials advance knowledge he had of a plan by the WikiLeaks website to release emails stolen from the Clinton campaign by Russians, prosecutors said. The charging document mentions that a senior Trump campaign official “was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information” WikiLeaks had about the Clinton campaign, raising the possibility Trump himself made the request. Stone pleaded not guilty to lying to Congress and witness tampering.

MEETINGS WITH RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR SERGEI KISLYAK

Several Trump advisers met with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, before Trump became president.

They included: Michael Flynn, who served as Trump’s first White House national security advisor. Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with Kislyak in December 2017, after Trump won the election but before he took office. During those calls, according to the indictment, Flynn discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia and asked Kislyak to help delay a U.N. vote seen as damaging to Israel, a move that ran counter to the policies of then-President Barack Obama, a Democrat.

Jeff Sessions, a Republican U.S. senator serving as a campaign adviser who Trump later named attorney general, said he met with Kislyak at least twice in 2016 after initially telling Congress he was unaware of any communications between the campaign and Russia. As attorney general, Sessions recused himself from oversight of the Russia investigation, drawing the ire of Trump. The recusal by Sessions left Rod Rosenstein, the No. 2 Justice Department official, with oversight over the probe, which at the time was headed by the FBI. After Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel to take over the probe.

Kushner said he asked Kislyak if he could set up a secure communications channel at the Russian Embassy after Trump won the election. Kushner also said he met with Sergei Gorkov, the head of Russian state-owned bank, Vnesheconombank, during that period at Kislyak’s insistence. Vnesheconombank has been subject to U.S. economic sanctions since mid-2014.

(Compiled by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Will Dunham)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Woman checks a curtain at a store in Mexico City
FILE PHOTO: A woman checks a curtain at a store in Mexico City, Mexico February 28, 2019. Picture taken February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

March 22, 2019

By Sharay Angulo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s annual inflation continued to slow in the first half of March, the statistics institute said on Friday, raising expectations the nation’s central bank will loosen monetary policy later in the year.

Mexican consumer prices rose 3.95 percent in the year through February, slightly below the 3.99 percent increase registered in the second half of February.

Inflation was in line with estimates from a Reuters survey, in which the median forecast of 13 specialists predicted an increase of 3.96 percent.

Fitch Ratings this week said it believed Mexico’s cycle of raising rates was over for now. The central bank will announce its next decision on interest rates on Thursday. The bank held the benchmark lending rate at 8.25 in February after a series of hikes.

Central Bank Governor Alejandro Diaz de Leon said at a banking convention on Friday that it would be important for the entity to consider not only cyclical factors in its decisions on rates, but also other risks including shocks and structural factors.

Diaz de Leon has called for maintaining the central bank’s independence as key to the economic health in Mexico, where President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office in December.

He also has advocated for keeping the central bank’s focus on inflation. In an interview on Thursday, he noted that Lopez Obrador’s decision in late October to cancel a partly-built new Mexico City airport had fanned market volatility in Mexico, as well as concern over the financial health of state oil firm Pemex. [nL1N219025]

Responding to the inflation data, Capital Economics said it expected the headline rate would decline during the second half of the year, paving the way for monetary loosening.

“We expect 75bp of interest rate cuts this year, which is more than markets are currently pricing in,” Capital Economics said in a note.

Core inflation, which strips out some volatile food and energy prices, rose 3.51 percent in the year through the first half of the month.

Consumer prices rose 0.26 percent in the first half of March compared with the previous month.

The data showed that prices for gasoline, lemons and tomatoes rose. Declines in prices for foodstuffs such as potatoes and eggs helped lower prices overall.

Last month, Mexico’s central bank held its benchmark interest rate steady at 8.25 percent, its highest level in more than a decade.

This week, the U.S. Federal Reserve said it does not anticipate rate hikes in 2019, easing pressure on the Mexican central bank to raise the benchmark interest rate in its decision on monetary policy next Thursday.

(Reporting by Sharay Angulo in Mexico City and Dave Graham and Stefanie Eschenbacher in Acapulco; Writing by Julia Love; Editing by Alistair Bell)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A 3-D printed Huawei logo is seen in front of displayed 5G words in this illustration
FILE PHOTO: A 3-D printed Huawei logo is seen in front of displayed 5G words in this illustration taken February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

March 22, 2019

By Foo Yun Chee and Robin Emmott

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission will next week urge EU countries to share more data to tackle cybersecurity risks related to 5G networks but will ignore U.S. calls to ban Huawei Technologies, four people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

European digital chief Andrus Ansip will present the recommendation on Tuesday. While the guidance does not have legal force, it will carry political weight which can eventually lead to national legislation in European Union countries.

The United States has lobbied Europe to shut out Huawei, saying its equipment could be used by the Chinese government for espionage. Huawei has strongly rejected the allegations and earlier this month sued the U.S. government over the issue.

Ansip will tell EU countries to use tools set out under the EU directive on security of network and information systems, or NIS directive, adopted in 2016 and the recently approved Cybersecurity Act, the people said.

For example, member states should exchange information and coordinate on impact assessment studies on security risks and on certification for internet-connected devices and 5G equipment.

The Commission will not call for a European ban on global market leader Huawei, leaving it to EU countries to decide on national security grounds.

“It is a recommendation to enhance exchanges on the security assessment of digital critical infrastructure,” one of the sources said.

The Commission said the recommendation would stress a common EU approach to security risks to 5G networks.

The EU executive’s guidance marks a tougher stance on Chinese investment after years of almost unfettered European openness to China, which controls 70 percent of the global supply of the critical raw materials needed to make high-tech goods.

The measures, if taken on board, will be part of what French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday was a “European awakening” about potential Chinese dominance, after EU leaders held a first-ever discussion about China policy at a summit.

Germany this month set tougher criteria for all telecoms equipment vendors, without singling out Huawei and ignoring U.S. pressure.

Big telecoms operators oppose a Huawei ban, saying such a move could set back 5G deployment in the bloc by years. In contrast, Australia and New Zealand have stopped operators using Huawei equipment in their networks.

The industry sees 5G as the next money spinner, with its promise to link up everything from vehicles to household devices.

Alongside from the Huawei issue, the bloc also plans to discuss Chinese subsidies, state involvement in the Chinese economy and more access to the Chinese market at an EU-China summit on April 9.

(Writing by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Edmund Blair)

Source: OANN

The Daily Caller Shop | Contributor

Cold feet are simply the worst. With all the nerve endings around our feet, it’s no wonder that we feel miserable when are toes are freezing. Make sure that your feet are always warm and happy with the Rechargeable Heated Slippers. These slippers are the ideal way of staying warm even during the dead of winter!

These comfy slippers take warm and cozy to the next level- with heated bottoms for maximum coziness!

These comfy slippers take warm and cozy to the next level- with heated bottoms for maximum coziness!

By using the discount code MADNESS 15, you can take 15 percent off these heated slippers for a limited time 

Hardwood and tile flooring can absorb quite a bit of cold temperature during the winter months. It only takes a few seconds of standing on these surfaces for your toes to get icy cold. Keep your feet protected with a trusty pair of the Rechargeable Heated Slippers when you arrive home after a long day at work. These slippers are fully rechargeable and last roughly 3-4 hours on a single charge.

Not only are the Rechargeable Heated Slippers warm, but they are also extremely comfortable. Thanks to the memory foam insoles, these slippers will contour perfectly to the shape of your foot in order to provide the ultimate relaxation. These slippers come in a beautiful black or tan color for you to choose from.

For a limited time, you can use code MADNESS15 for an additional 15% off the already discounted price. That brings your total for the Rechargeable Heated Slippers to just $55.24!

Like this deal? Check out Vault, the best way to secure your online data for just $9.99/mo.

You can find even more great deals like this at The Daily Caller Shop.

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: A Vulcan Materials Company facility is pictured in Convent
FILE PHOTO: A Vulcan Materials Company construction aggregate facility is pictured in Convent, Louisiana, U.S., June 11, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

March 22, 2019

(Reuters) – U.S. companies’ borrowing to spend on capital investments fell 24 percent in February from a year earlier, the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) said on Friday.

Companies signed up for $5.9 billion in new loans, leases and lines of credit last month, down from $7.7 billion a year ago. The fall was 18 percent, when compared to the previous month.

“Monthly new business volume declined for the first time in almost two years… Fundamentals in the U.S. economy appear to be holding up,” ELFA Chief Executive Officer Ralph Petta said in a statement.

“With the Fed holding interest rates unchanged, these and other economic data bear monitoring in the coming months to better understand the dip in equipment financing volume for February.”

Washington-based ELFA, a trade association that reports economic activity for the $1 trillion equipment finance sector, said credit approvals totaled 76 percent in February, marginally down from 76.1 percent in the previous month.

The data on U.S. business borrowing was based on a survey among 25 members including Bank of America Corp, BB&T Corp, CIT Group Inc and the financing affiliates of Caterpillar Inc, Deere & Co, Verizon Communications Inc, Siemens AG, Canon Inc and Volvo AB.

The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation, ELFA’s non-profit affiliate, said its confidence index for March is 60.4, up from 56.7 in February. Any reading above 50 indicates a positive outlook.

(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel)

Source: OANN


Current track

Title

Artist