transportation

FILE PHOTO: The world's largest corn mill of global grain company Archer Daniels Midland is pictured in Decatur
FILE PHOTO: The world’s largest corn mill of global grain company Archer Daniels Midland is pictured in Decatur, Illinois, U.S., March 16, 2015. REUTERS/Karl Plume/File Photo

March 25, 2019

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Flooding and severe winter weather in the U.S. Midwest will reduce Archer Daniels Midland Co’s first-quarter operating profit by $50 million to $60 million, the U.S. grains trader said on Monday.

Record floods have devastated a wide swath of the Farm Belt across Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and several other states. The waters have idled ethanol plants, slowed rail shipments of agricultural products and swamped storage bins holding grain from previous harvests.

The disruptions come as the U.S. agriculture industry is grappling with the trade war between Washington and Beijing, which slashed shipments of American farm products to China.

For ADM, the floods are affecting two crucial business units; Origination, which buys, stores and transports grains, and Carbohydrate Solutions, which mills corn and wheat, the company said. The $50 million to $60 million impact on pre-tax operating profit will be roughly equal between the segments, with minor impacts to other units, ADM said.

“Extreme winter weather has affected our first quarter North American operations beyond what we would experience in a typical winter,” ADM said.

With rail lines washed out, and corn in storage flooded, production of ethanol has declined.

ADM’s corn processing complex in Columbus, Nebraska, was idled due to flooding and is running at reduced rates, the company said.

Unfavorable conditions on U.S. rivers since December are also severely limiting barge transportation movements and port activities, according to ADM.

Key rivers were swollen from flooding and ice buildup.

(Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by Susan Thomas)

Source: OANN

Neetu Chandak | Education and Politics Reporter

A man was caught on video kicking a 78-year-old woman in the face on a New York City subway as others watched on earlier in March.

The video shows others on the train filming with their phones and yelling.

“This is an extremely disturbing video,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) spokeswoman Amanda Kwan said, according to the New York Post on Friday.

WATCH (warning, graphic content):

The New York Police Department (NYPD) told The Daily Caller News Foundation over email the incident occurred March 10 around 3 a.m.

“The individual is described as a male Black, approximately 40-years-old, 6’0″, 180 lbs., with a black goatee,” NYPD told TheDCNF. “He was last seen wearing a black jacket, black knit cap, long black and white checkered scarf, metal framed glasses, and black pants.”

Nobody immediately called the police, the Post reported. (RELATED: Police: Two People Pretending To Be Officers Abduct Woman, Drop Her Off At Police Headquarters)

“It’s terrible,” an MTA worker said, according to the Post. “I can’t believe something like that could happen.”

The woman was treated for swelling, cuts to the face and bleeding, according to NYPD.

This is not the first altercation that has occurred on or near a New York City subway. An MS-13 gang member was taken into custody in February after allegedly killing a man at a subway station.

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FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked at the Boeing Factory in Renton
FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked at the Boeing Factory in Renton, Washington, U.S. March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson/File Photo

March 22, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chairman of U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Peter DeFazio on Friday urged current or former Boeing Co and Federal Aviation Administration employees to come forward with any information about the government’s aircraft certification program.

Federal prosecutors, the Transportation Department’s inspector general and lawmakers are investigating the FAA’s certification of the 737 MAX 8 aircraft that has been involved in two fatal crashes since October.

“It is imperative we continue to ensure we have the highest level of safety for the traveling public,” DeFazio said in a statement, urging people to utilize the committee’s whistleblower web page.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Grant McCool)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A screen displays the trading information for chemical producer DowDuPont Inc. on the floor at the NYSE in New York
FILE PHOTO: A screen displays the trading information for chemical producer DowDuPont Inc. on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

March 22, 2019

By Lewis Krauskopf

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Shake-ups come infrequently for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, but some degree of change may be in the works for the stock index as two of its 30 constituents prepare to transform from large conglomerates into smaller companies.

The latest occasion to re-examine the Dow stems from chemical company DowDuPont Inc, which is breaking up into three publicly listed stocks. The first step, the separation of the company’s Dow materials science division, is due to take effect on April 1.

Another index component, industrial conglomerate United Technologies Corp, is also in the process of separating into three companies, possibly in about a year.

While many professional investors prefer other stock gauges to the Dow, membership in the blue-chip index – often thought of as Main Street’s market barometer – still carries allure because of its relatively few constituents. Funds with billions of dollars under management are also linked to the index, so constituent changes affect flows into and out of stocks.

While pieces of the original components could stay in the Dow, those corporate actions could spur the overseers of the index to add fresh blood, some market watchers say.

“All of the options are certainty on the table,” said Todd Rosenbluth, head of ETF and mutual fund research at CFRA. “This could be a catalyst for a new addition to the broader index.”

S&P Dow Jones Indices, which publishes the Dow index, will make an announcement before April 1, according to spokesman Ray McConville.

Any time there is a corporate action in an index, McConville said, “S&P DJI will review the index and make any necessary changes and issue a public announcement before the transaction takes place.”

Known for its inclusion of large U.S. companies as well as its relatively few members compared to other barometers, the Dow has changed components roughly every two years over the past 20 years. The most recent such move came last June, when longtime member General Electric Co was replaced by Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.

Prior to that, DowDupont took over for DuPont in September 2017, after the latter company merged with Dow Chemical, and Apple replaced AT&T in March 2015.

The index is a measure of 30 companies designed to provide suitable sector representation, except for transportation and utilities stocks, which are covered by other Dow Jones indexes, according to published methodology for the index.

The overall level of the Dow does not change when its components do, because the divisor used to calculate the index is adjusted.

Stock selection is “not governed by” quantitative rules, according to the published methodology, which also says “a stock typically is added only if the company has an excellent reputation, demonstrates sustained growth and is of interest to a large number of investors.”

The subjectivity of the criteria regularly prompts speculation about which companies may qualify.

Some companies that seem like obvious candidates at first blush may have strikes against them. For example, two of the largest U.S. companies – Amazon.com Inc and Alphabet Inc, the parent of Google – have share prices that are both well over $1,000 each.

That’s a problem because such high prices would warp the Dow, whose constituents carry more weight the higher their share price. At about $375 a share, Boeing Co is the highest priced stock in the Dow by more than $100.

Many indexes, such as the S&P 500, are weighted by companies’ market capitalization, rather than by their share price.

One remaining piece of DowDuPont – the only materials sector stock in the Dow – could stay in the Dow Jones index.

“If you take DowDuPont off, then there is nothing really with that materials” exposure, said James Ragan, director of wealth management research at D.A. Davidson in Seattle. “I am not sure this is an opportunity to make a big change here.”

The DowDuPont breakup will leave Dow, specialty products company DuPont and Corteva, which focuses on agriculture.

Dow and DuPont would be the biggest of the three, with market values estimated at about $50 billion and $60 billion, respectively, according to Nomura Instinet analyst Aleksey Yefremov. “If they want to have a materials company they have to pick one of these two, just because they are so broad,” Yefremov said.

United Tech is separating into an aerospace supplier, an elevator manufacturer, and a provider of building products including air-conditioning systems.

Aerospace is by far the biggest division of the three by sales, but with one aerospace stock already in the Dow – planemaker Boeing – that new company may be redundant.

In many investors’ eyes, the Dow pales in importance as a market barometer to the S&P 500, with its 500 constituents weighted by market value. Just over $23 billion is invested in mutual and exchange-traded funds tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average compared to nearly $4.3 trillion tied to the S&P 500, according to Lipper research.

But the more than 120-year-old index remains a popular market gauge.

“The Dow’s price-weighted construct and the fact that it’s only 30 names makes it reasonably distinct from measures that folks will more likely look at to be representing the market as a whole,” said Simeon Hyman, global investment strategist at ProShares, which has five ETFs with $1.5 billion linked to the Dow.

But, adds Hyman: “The fact that it’s distinct means that some folks will find utility in it.”

(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf; Editing by Alden Bentley and Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A Pinterest banner hangs on the facade of the NYSE in New York
FILE PHOTO: A Pinterest banner hangs on the facade of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., September 22, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

March 22, 2019

By Liana B. Baker and Joshua Franklin

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc and Pinterest, two of the highest profile internet companies planning to go public this year, have picked the New York Stock Exchange as the venue for their stock listings, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The companies and the NYSE declined to comment.

NYSE has become the exchange of choice over NASDAQ for big technology companies in the past few years after NASDAQ famously bumbled the Facebook IPO with massive technology errors. The exchanges compete fiercely for listing fees, and much like investment banks, often begin courting large companies long before they are ready to list.

NASDAQ did score the IPO of ride hailing firm Lyft Inc, which could reach or exceed a $23 billion valuation when it prices its shares March 28. Lyft will be the first internet player to kick off a string of hotly anticipated public debuts that will energize the IPO market after a quiet start to the year.

In a sign that investors crave newly issued stock, shares of Levi Strauss & Co surged 31 percent in their debut on Thursday, giving the jeans maker a market value of $8.7 billion.

Bloomberg first reported the Uber news on Thursday while the Wall Street Journal first reported the Pinterest news.

Uber, a global logistics and transportation company most recently valued at $76 billion in the private market, is seeking a valuation as high as $120 billion, although some analysts have pegged its value closer to $100 billion based on selected financial figures it has disclosed.

Pinterest, which owns the image search website known for food and fashion photos, was valued at $12 billion in its last fundraising round in 2017. The San Francisco-based company has grown rapidly since its founding in 2008, boasting 250 million monthly active users last September.

Pinterest monetizes its website through advertisements, which it places among the “pins” that users put on the site.

Reuters previously reported Pinterest could raise around $1.5 billion in the IPO, which is likely to come in the first six months of 2019. The Wall Street Journal said on Thursday that the company could reveal its IPO filing as early as Friday and list its shares by mid-April.

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker in New York and Joshua Franklin in New York; additional reporting by Carl O’Donnell; editing by Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

United Nations workers mourn their colleagues during a commemoration ceremony for the victims at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town Bishoftu
United Nations workers mourn their colleagues during a commemoration ceremony for the victims at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town Bishoftu, near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa NegerI

March 21, 2019

By Maggie Fick and Tim Hepher

ADDIS ABABA/PARIS (Reuters) – At the headquarters of the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority, a paper sign balanced above room 107 and a threadbare square of carpet welcome a stream of foreign visitors to the Accident Investigation Bureau.

The office – with three investigators and an annual budget of less than 2.5 million Birr ($89,000) – is leading a multi-party, multi-nation probe into what caused an Ethiopian Airlines flight to crash on March 10, killing all 157 people on board.

Brusque foreign investigators in cargo pants and Ethiopians in suits or reflective vests wave away questions from reporters on how their inquiries are progressing.

This modest agency is under intense international scrutiny because the results of its investigation could have far-reaching consequences for the global aviation industry.

If the investigators highlight flaws in the 737 MAX 8 that echo a recent crash of the same model in Indonesia, their report could deal a major blow to Boeing, the world’s biggest planemaker and a massive U.S. exporter.

But if investigators find Ethiopian Airlines fell short in maintenance, training or piloting, that could damage one of Africa’s most successful companies, a symbol of Ethiopia’s emergence as a regional power.

Disagreements have broken out in Addis Ababa between Ethiopian authorities and foreign investigators over issues including the handling of evidence and crash site management, according to several sources close to the investigation.

Kevin Humphreys, a former Irish regulator who founded the country’s air investigation agency, told Reuters the high stakes involved tend to make probes like this one particularly tough.

“There are tensions because it is unrealistic to assume that international protocols are always going to work. There is a potentially important economic impact from such investigations.”

An 18-strong team of American investigators has been sent to aid the Ethiopians with the inquiry, including representatives from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Boeing, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which certified 737 MAX planes as safe.

U.S. and some other foreign investigators are unhappy because Ethiopia is so far sharing only limited information, the sources said.

“There is no opportunity for the international community to benefit and learn from this,” said one of them, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Some foreign officials are also unhappy about the prominent role Ethiopian Airlines played in the probe, suggesting a possible conflict of interests, they said.

But one Addis Ababa-based source said the carrier’s role in the investigation does not necessarily indicate it is trying to exert undue influence. The airline is more likely involved because it is the most well-funded and staffed state enterprise able to help the over-stretched inquiry team, he added.

“When you have a vacuum, someone has to fill it,” he said.

Ethiopian Airlines’ spokesman Asrat Begachew said the carrier was supporting the investigation. “We are not taking the lead,” he added, declining to comment further.

Under global aviation rules, interested parties like airlines and manufacturers are discouraged from speaking publicly about the investigation.

Yet in the first days after the Flight 302 crash, Ethiopian Airlines made all of the public statements, including announcing the black box recorders would be sent overseas for data extraction.

It was not until six days after the tragedy that the Ministry of Transport began briefing the media and public.

Hours after the crash, Ethiopian Airlines tweeted a picture of its CEO Tewolde Gebremariam holding a piece of debris in the crater of the crash site, surprising aviation experts who said the site should have been preserved for investigators.

Musie Yehyies, spokesman for Ethiopia’s Ministry of Transport, said the government had been quick to share information about the crash. He denied there was any mistrust between the Ethiopians and other parties.

“Our friendship with the United States is obvious,” he told Reuters. “Plenty of governments have been offering assistance, and some of them have helped practically.”

The ministry did not respond to requests for comment on the airline’s role in the investigation or any potential conflict of interest.

Ethiopia’s Accident Investigation Bureau and civil aviation authority, which fall under the transport ministry, declined to comment on the investigation or any grievances of parties involved.

Boeing, the FAA and the NTSB also declined to comment.

BLACK BOXES

The cockpit voice and flight data recorders were recovered the day after the crash, but it took Ethiopian investigators three days to decide where to send them for the information to be extracted and decoded. Like many fast-growing players, the Ethiopians do not have the technology to perform the task.

In a sign of the distrust between the parties, the Ethiopians turned down an American offer to perform the analysis in the United States, according to two sources.

U.S. authorities declined to comment.

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde personally approached German authorities to request to send the black boxes to Germany to have the data extracted there, a separate source with knowledge of matter told Reuters. Airlines are not usually involved in such decisions, according to current and former investigators.

The airline could not comment on the investigation, a spokesman said in response to questions about the incident.

However German officials said they too did not have the most recent software needed to extract the data, so the devices were eventually sent to France.

Partial data from the flight data recorder was shared informally late on Monday with U.S. and French investigators in Paris, but nothing from the cockpit voice recorder, three sources familiar with the matter said.

It is common for the host investigator to closely guard voice recordings to protect privacy but unusual for relatively little data to be available a week after being downloaded.

“As an investigator, it is hard to understand the logic behind withholding safety-of-flight information,” Greg Feith, a former senior air safety investigator with the NTSB, said on Facebook on Thursday.

Ethiopia said on Thursday it had begun analyzing cockpit data and was working with U.S. and European experts.

Following Ethiopian Airlines’ last major crash, outside Beirut in 2010, an investigation led by the Lebanese and to which France contributed blamed crew mismanagement of the aircraft and poor communication in the cockpit.

The airline – led by the same CEO as today – said the report was “biased, lacking evidence, incomplete,” pointing to evidence of an explosion on board.

HIGH STAKES

Most crash investigations end up pinpointing a combination of factors.

For decades, reconstructions by independent investigators have been credited with reducing air accidents to record low levels. The system of co-operation works by sticking to technical details and avoiding blame or other agendas.

Safety experts worry that too many turf battles can cloud the progress of an investigation.

“The sole purpose of an accident investigation is to reduce the chances of something ever happening again,” said Paul Hayes, safety director at the Flight Ascend Consultancy.

The Flight 302 crash triggered the global grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX jets, wiping billions off the company’s market value. Also on the line are more than $500 billion worth of 737 MAX orders.

Ethiopian Airlines is regulated by the country’s civil aviation authority, but its resources are far more extensive. The carrier’s operating revenue in the 2017/18 financial year was $3.7 billion. This dwarfs the regulator’s budget, which is 360 million Birr ($12.5 million) for this fiscal year.

CRASH SITE

Responsibility for leading the probe fell to Ethiopia because the crash occurred on its soil. Nairobi-bound Flight 302 went down into farmland minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa.

The crash killed people from 35 countries, all of which are also entitled to examine the crash site and join in the investigation. America, China, Kenya, Britain, Canada, Israel, France and other nations have sent investigators.

Some nations were unhappy that Ethiopia was using heavy earth-moving equipment at the site, potentially damaging evidence or human remains, although others said that was the only way to move heavy items such as engines.

Some foreign officials also complained of being unable to access the site in the days after the crash.

After Israel’s team were not given permission to visit the site, the Israeli prime minister eventually called the Ethiopian prime minister on Wednesday, a statement on the Israeli prime minister’s website said. 

A permission letter – from Ethiopian Airlines – was issued late on Thursday for the Israeli ambassador and emergency response unit ZAKA, a source familiar with the incident added.

The European Union’s aviation safety agency, EASA, waited more than a week to be allowed to join the crash investigation.

“The Ethiopian investigation body is very keen to keep a very, very closed circle around the investigation,” EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky told the European parliament on Monday.

(Additional reporting by Jason Neely in Addis Ababa, Katharine Houreld in Nairobi, Georgina Prodhan in Paris and David Shepardson in Washington; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Alexandra Zavis and Pravin Char)

Source: OANN

Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter

Alleged mail bomber Cesar Sayoc entered a guilty plea Thursday after being accused of subjecting multiple high-profile Democrats and critics of President Donald Trump to pipe bomb scares in 2018.

Sayoc had previously pleaded not guilty, reported NBC News.

“I know that these actions were wrong and I’m sorry,” Sayoc said as he entered his new plea in front of a federal judge in Manhattan. (RELATED: Woman Who Climbed Statue Of Liberty To Protest Trump Sentenced To 5 Years Probation)

The 57-year-old Florida man could spend the rest of his life in prison after allegedly making more than a dozen IEDs from PVC pipes packed with explosive material and shards of glass. He’s accused of sending them to national figures, including former Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The package scares occurred in October 2018.

Cesar Altieri Sayoc appears in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. in this August 31, 2005 handout booking photo obtained by Reuters October 26, 2018. Hennepin County SheriffÕs Office/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS

Cesar Altieri Sayoc appears in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. in this August 31, 2005 handout booking photo obtained by Reuters October 26, 2018. Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office/Handout via REUTERS

A federal grand jury charged Sayoc on a 30-count indictment in November 2018. The charges include five counts of using a weapon of mass destruction, which carry a maximum penalty of life in prison, and five counts of interstate transportation of an explosive. Each of the latter counts could mean 20 years in prison.

Sayoc was living in a van “plastered with stickers praising Trump and attacking the media” when he was arrested in Florida, reported NBC News.

The intended recipients of the package included:

Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

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

March 21, 2019

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Boeing Co will mandate a previously optional cockpit warning light as part of a forthcoming software update to the 737 MAX fleet that was grounded in the wake of two fatal crashes, two officials briefed on the matter said Thursday.

Boeing previously offered the AOA DISAGREE alert, which warns pilots when the “angle of attack” (AOA) readings do not match, but it was not required by regulators. Boeing will now retrofit older planes with the light that did not initially receive it, the officials said. Boeing did not immediately comment Thursday.

There has been a long-running industry debate about how much information should be displayed in the cockpit, notably about the angle at which the wing is slicing through the air.

Federal prosecutors, the Transportation Department’s inspector general and U.S. lawmakers are investigating the Federal Aviation Administration’s certification of the 737 MAX.

The FAA declined to comment on the software upgrade Thursday but said last week it planned to mandate “design changes” coming from Boeing in its software upgrade by April for the 737 MAX.

Indonesia’s Lion Air did not install the warning light. Lion Air Fight 610 crashed in October minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 onboard. The company told Reuters in November it did not install it because it was not required.

The angle is a key flight parameter that must remain narrow enough to preserve lift and avoid an aerodynamic stall. A faulty AOA reading led the doomed Lion Air jet’s computer to believe it was stalled, prompting the plane’s anti-stall system, called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), to repeatedly push down the plane’s nose.

The planemaker has come under fire in the wake of the Lion Air crash for not outlining the automated system, MCAS, in the flight manual for the 737 MAX.

(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington and Sweta Singh in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Eric Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Source: OANN

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A worker assists his colleague as an turbine engine of Lion Air flight JT610 is lifted up at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta
FILE PHOTO: A worker assists his colleague as an turbine engine of Lion Air flight JT610 is lifted up at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta, Indonesia, November 4, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta

March 21, 2019

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian investigators said on Thursday the cockpit voice recorder from a crashed Lion Air Boeing Co 737 MAX 8 jet showed pilots were searching for the right checklist in their handbooks and were experiencing airspeed and altitude issues.

The details revealed at a press conference corroborated a Reuters report on Wednesday that was based on three sources with knowledge of the cockpit voice recorder’s contents.

Investigators said they have 90 percent of the data needed to release a final report on the October crash that killed 189 people, which is expected in August.

Nurcahyo Utomo, an investigator at Indonesia’s national transportation committee (KNKT) said the recording showed there was “panic” in the cockpit in the last 20 seconds of the flight.

“At the end of the flight it seemed the pilot felt he could no longer recover the flight, then the panic emerged,” he said while declining to say which of the two pilots panicked.

The investigation has taken on new urgency after a second 737 MAX 8 crash at Ethiopian Airlines last week killed 157 people and led to the global grounding of the model.

French air accident investigation agency BEA said on Tuesday the flight data recorder in the Ethiopian crash showed “clear similarities” to the Lion Air disaster.

Investigators examining the Indonesian crash are considering how a computer ordered the plane to dive in response to data from a faulty sensor and whether the pilots had enough training to respond appropriately to the emergency, among other factors.

(Reporting by Cindy Silviana and Bernadette Christina Munthe; writing by Jamie Freed; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Source: OANN

Grover Norquist | President, Americans for Tax Reform

Politicians love to play with trains. And your money.

In Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal,” she suggests that high speed rail should be built out across the country and used in place of air travel. But California’s “bullet” train is just one of several examples that demonstrate why tax dollars should not be wasted on these types of projects.

California’s bullet train, which was intended to run between Los Angeles and San Francisco, was originally estimated to cost $33 billion. However, the one-party state of California recently decided to pull the plug on this undertaking due to the fact that after 11 years and basically nothing to show for it, the real cost of the bullet train had climbed to $98 billion in state and federal tax dollars.

A round-trip flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco can be purchased for $149, and the flight takes 90 minutes. The bullet train was an expensive non-solution in search of a problem.

Meanwhile, some politicians in Mississippi, a predominantly Republican state, think it just might be a good idea to shovel taxpayer money to a proposed passenger train in the Southeast. As in California, this proposal — formally known as the Gulf Coast Rail Project — would soon turn into a massive taxpayer boondoggle.

Unfortunately for taxpayers in Mississippi, the Gulf Coast Rail Project is shaping up to be the same disaster. Given the California example, it is much harder to pretend ignorance.

While the total cost for this project, which calls for two daily passenger trains to run between New Orleans, Louisiana and Mobile, Alabama, is hidden, taxpayers will be on the hook for long-term operational and maintenance costs in addition to the infrastructure enhancements, including new train stations.

Estimates have shown that a one-way rail trip on these passenger trains would take more than 3 hours, and would require a subsidy of $180 per passenger. Today, a person wanting to travel between New Orleans and Mobile can get a ticket on Megabus, a 2.5-hour trip, for $14. For the $180 subsidy, the state could give 12 free bus tickets per passenger. In fact, hiring an Uber, a 2-2.5 hour trip, would often be less expensive than $180.

Recognizing the longer length of the train trip, it is reasonable to assume that it would be the least popular choice of commuters. In fact, the rail carrier’s own analysis projects the Gulf Coast Rail Project would attract just 26 riders per train. That is just two more than there are “blackbirds baked” in Mother Goose’s pie.

It gets worse. The Gulf Coast Rail Project would put jobs and potential new jobs at risk. The passenger trains would run on a line that is now being used by freight trains. Since passenger trains get preference over freight trains and the line is mostly single tracked, the Gulf Coast Rail project will interfere with freight traffic industries along the Mississippi Coast. How many companies would decide to build new factories along a hobbled freight rail line?

Mississippi lawmakers should learn from the California bullet train fiasco, as well as the lessons closer to home: similar state-supported trains that once ran between New Orleans and Mobile in the past were discontinued because they were slower, less reliable, and more expensive than other existing modes of transportation.

As Randal O’Toole, senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of Romance of Rails: Why the Passenger Trains We Love Are Not the Transportation We Need, has exposed:

Today, air travel is far less expensive than train travel, with airfares averaging under 14 cents a passenger mile, barely more than a third of Amtrak fares even though Amtrak receives much bigger subsidies, per passenger mile, than the airlines.

There is no justification for wasting millions of hard-earned tax dollars on yet another expensive, inflexible and unneeded train. Today planes, buses, Uber, and Lyft do much more, much better for much less.

Grover Norquist (@GroverNorquist) is president of Americans for Tax Reform.


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

General Mills breakfast cereal is shown for sale in Carlsbad, California,
FILE PHOTO: General Mills breakfast cereal is shown for sale in Carlsbad, California, U.S., June 27, 2017. REUTERS/ Mike Blake

March 20, 2019

(Reuters) – General Mills quarterly profit beat Wall Street estimates and the Cheerios cereal maker raised its full-year forecast, benefiting from its efforts to cut costs and raise prices, sending its shares up 6 percent on Wednesday.

Consumer goods companies like General Mills have been raising product prices to make up for rising commodities and transportation costs.

“Our year-to-date performance and fourth-quarter plans give us confidence that we will meet or exceed all of our key fiscal 2019 targets,” Chief Executive Officer Jeff Harmening said in a statement.

The company’s adjusted gross margin rose 170 basis points to 34.2 percent in the third quarter and beat the analyst average estimate of 32.89 percent.

General Mills, which owns dessert pre-mix brand Betty Crocker and Nature Valley granola bars, said it expects adjusted profit for fiscal 2019 to be between flat and 1 percent from a prior forecast range of flat to down 3 percent.

The company’s net sales rose 8 percent to $4.20 billion in the third quarter, largely in line with expectations of $4.19 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned 83 cents per for the quarter ended Feb.24 to beat expectations of 69 cents.

(Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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A vendor sells drinking water to motorists in traffic along the Sudirman business district in Jakarta
FILE PHOTO: A vendor sells drinking water to motorists in traffic along the Sudirman business district in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Beawiharta

March 20, 2019

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s capital plans to invest 571 trillion rupiah ($40.27 billion) to upgrade its transportation and other infrastructure in the next 10 years, its governor was reported by media as saying on Wednesday.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said he has submitted a list of proposals to President Joko Widodo including plans to expand the city’s new mass rapid transit (MRT) system and build a 120 km-long light transit railway.

Other projects include investments in a clean water pipeline and waste management projects.

“We will extend the MRT. It’s now 16 km (9.9 miles), but later 231 km more will be built,” he said, as reported by media.

The projects will be funded mostly through debt, Baswedan said.

Next week, the traffic-clogged city will open to public its $3 billion MRT system, running from south to central Jakarta along its main thoroughfares.

The project, funded by a loan from the Japanese government, is a centre-piece of an infrastructure boom under Widodo.

Widodo is vying for re-election on April 17 against opposition candidate, retired general Prabowo Subianto.

Delayed for more than 20 years, the MRT was finally launched in 2013, with the first line originally scheduled to open in 2018.

The national government will explore creative financing options to fund the newly proposed projects alongside the Jakarta administration, Luky Alfirman, director general of budget financing at the finance ministry, said.

(Reporting by Maikel Jefriando; Writing by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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Chinese President Xi Jinping claps at the closing session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
Chinese President Xi Jinping claps at the closing session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

March 20, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – Misunderstandings over China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) are “hard to avoid”, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Wednesday ahead of a trip to Europe by President Xi Jinping during which Italy is set to join the multi-billion dollar trade scheme.

Italy has angered its EU partners by planning to sign infrastructure deals with China, pushing itself as a big backer of the initiative at the heart of Beijing’s foreign policy strategy that is Xi’s signature diplomatic and trade push.

“I think anything new will have a development process,” Vice Foreign Minister Wang Chao told a news briefing when asked about recent controversy in Italy over the accord to be signed this month.

“It is hard to avoid misunderstandings occurring during the process of advancing the construction of the Belt and Road. Of course, the facts are the best proof,” Wang said.

More than 150 countries, regions and international groups have already signed BRI cooperation pacts bringing some benefits to all, he added.

Italy, which is expected to send a high-level delegation to the second Belt and Road summit in Beijing in late April, will be the first stop on Xi’s tour from March 21 to 26 that will also take in France and the tiny principality of Monaco.

With ports that offer easy gateways into Europe’s richest markets, Italy is a promising and prestigious prize for China.

Asked about China’s possible investment in a port in Italy, Wang said investment decisions by its companies would be based on market conditions.

Xi will hold talks with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Rome, and visit the Sicilian capital of Palermo, Wang said.

The two sides will sign commercial pacts on infrastructure, machinery and finance, he added.

Italy’s drive to be the first Group of Seven industrialized nation to join the ambitious venture has upset Washington and alarmed Brussels, raising fears of a sellout of sensitive technology and the handover of critical infrastructure.

On Tuesday, Conte said the commercial and economic deals he will seal with China have no implications for Italy’s geo-political position, in a bid to reassure the European Union and the United States.

In France, Xi and French President Emmanuel Macron will witness the signing of cooperation agreements on energy, transportation, agriculture, finance, culture and science and technology, Wang said.

(Reporting by Tom Daly and Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Liangping Gao; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Joe Torre testifies before Senate Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation on domestic violence in professional sports in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Joe Torre, Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations (MLB), testifies before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on domestic violence in professional sports in Washington December 2, 2014. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

March 20, 2019

By Jack Tarrant

TOKYO (Reuters) – Major League Baseball is concerned at strikeouts surpassing the number of hits and needs more balls in play to arrest the dip in popularity, the league’s chief baseball officer Joe Torre said on Wednesday.

Last season was the first in the league’s history to feature more strikeouts than hits, leading to calls for changes to increase interest.

Average attendance for regular season games in 2018 fell four percent from the previous year to 28,830 per game, according to MLB, while the total number of fans who showed up at the ballpark fell below 70 million for the first time since 2003.

Speaking ahead of the MLB season opener in Tokyo on Wednesday, Torre said the league needs to create more balls in play.

“I am concerned with our game because whenever you go through a season and there are more strikeouts than hits, then it is a concern to me,” said Torre, who led the New York Yankees to four World Series titles as a coach.

“To me the excitement of baseball, to watch the game and manage the game, is to have enough balls in play and we don’t have enough balls in play.”

According to NBC Sports, hitters were sent back to the dugout 41,207 times and recorded 41,019 safeties in 2018.

“We need to put the ball in play more,” said the 78-year-old Torre, who works as liaison between the MLB and its 30 clubs.

“Everyone is throwing 98-99 mph, everyone is trying to strike people out… it is all a concern to me.”

The Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics will start the new MLB season in the Tokyo Dome later on Wednesday and have been playing exhibition games as part of the league’s plan to spread the game in Asia.

“What has been great about the exhibition games here is that there has been a lot going on; players on bases, running the bases and that is exciting to me,” continued Torre.

“That is when the game is going to pick up pace, when we dare the hitters to hit the ball as opposed to trying to get them to miss the ball.”

(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Transportation and Infrastructure House Commitee member DeFazio, speaks at U.S. airline customer service hearing at the U.S. Capitol in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) speaks at a committee hearing on “Oversight of U.S. Airline Customer Service,” in the aftermath of the recent forced removal of a passenger from a Chicago flight at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

March 19, 2019

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives transportation committee and another key Democrat asked the Transportation Department’s inspector general on Tuesday to examine key decisions made by the Federal Aviation Administration in certifying Boeing’s 737 MAX jet for use.

The request follows the March 10 crash of a 737 MAX jet in Ethiopia and the crash in Indonesia in October of another 737 MAX jet.

The inspector general’s office said it would open an audit Tuesday into the plane’s approval but has not disclosed what it will examine. Representative Peter DeFazio, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and committee member Rick Larsen said the crashes underscore “the need to take a more proactive approach with safety to protect the traveling public.”

The two Democrats asked in a letter that the probe include a review of what “led to the FAA’s decision not to revise pilot training programs and manuals to reflect changes to flight-critical automation systems.”

The FAA declined to comment on the letter.

Congress plans to hold hearings as early as next week on the two fatal crashes that are expected to include the FAA’s acting chief, Dan Elwell, and other government officials. The Democrats want the review to help improve the “certification process overall and identify improvements to oversight and safety of all new aircraft.”

Boeing said earlier on Tuesday that it would fully cooperate in the inspector general’s audit.

The Democrats want the audit also to include a review of how each of the new features on the Boeing 737 MAX, including positioning of engines on the aircraft and the corresponding changes to automation, angle-of-attack sensors, and how new software “were tested, certified, and integrated into the aircraft.”

They also ask the review to include “how new features of the aircraft, and potential performance differences in this aircraft, were communicated to airline customers, pilots and foreign civil aviation authorities.”

They also want a status report on corrective actions since the fatal Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October “and whether pilots are being adequately trained before the 737 MAX is returned to revenue passenger service throughout the international aviation community.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by James Dalgleish and Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

David Krayden | Ottawa Bureau Chief

Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders hopes a new speechwriter, a former apologist for the socialist government in Venezuela, will help propel his 2020 campaign to victory. 

Sanders has hired David Sirota to write speeches and act as a communications consultant as the Democratic-Socialist senator continues his quest to win the Democratic nomination for 2020, the Washington Examiner reported Tuesday.

Bernie Sanders Holds Campaign Rally In Des Moines

Bernie Sanders Holds Campaign Rally In Des Moines. Steve Pope/Getty Images

Sirota exhibited his devotion to Venezuela’s brand of socialism during the years of left-wing strongman Hugo Chavez, whose “brand of socialism achieved real economic gains,” according to Sihota. (RELATED: The Key To Winning In 2020 Will Be Properly Explaining Socialism, Says Bernie Sanders)

The journalist was a contributor to Salon magazine in 2013 when he wrote an essay remembering Chavez, who had recently died, praising the despot’s political legacy as an “economic miracle.”

“Chavez racked up an economic record that a legacy-obsessed American president could only dream of achieving,” Sirota wrote in Salon. He also argued that the Venezuelan socialism “suddenly looks like a threat to the corporate capitalism, especially when said country has valuable oil resources that global powerhouses like the United States rely on.”

Today, Venezuela appears more than ever a threat to its own citizens as food shortages and a country-wide blackout — phenomenons for which Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro blames on America —have devastated millions of citizens.

There is mass looting on the streets. According to a 2019 United Nations Human Rights Office report, at least 40 Venezuelans have died while protesting in recent years. The country’s possession of huge oil deposits hasn’t prevented it from approaching the makings of a civil war as the political opposition demands change.

Venezuelan opposition leader and self declared acting president Juan Guaido (C), arrives to take part in a demonstration called by the transportation sector to support him, in Caracas on February 20, 2019. (FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images)

Venezuelan opposition leader and self declared acting president Juan Guaido (C), arrives to take part in a demonstration called by the transportation sector to support him, in Caracas on Feb. 20, 2019. (FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images)

But for Sirota, the problem was the United States that had “become more unequal than many Latin American nations” and he asked, “Are there any constructive lessons to be learned from Chavez’s grand experiment with more aggressive redistribution?”

Sirota’s defense of Venezuela could well be embraced by Sanders, who criticized America’s free market policies and well-stocked supermarkets in the 1980s and argued that queuing-up for bread in the Soviet Union was a symptom of economic freedom. (RELATED: Bernie Sanders, Climate Hawk Spends Nearly $300K On Private Jet Travel In A Month)

“It’s funny, sometimes American journalists talk about how bad a country is, that people are lining up for food. That is a good thing! In other countries people don’t line up for food: the rich get the food and the poor starve to death,” said the Vermont senator, according to the Examiner. Sanders also blamed the United States for the Cold War.

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Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

President Donald Trump announced that he is donating $100,000 of his salary to the Department of Homeland Security, following a promise he made before entering office.

“While the press doesn’t like writing about it, nor do I need them to, I donate my yearly Presidential salary of $400,000.00 to different agencies throughout the year, this to Homeland Security,” the president tweeted on Monday. “If I didn’t do it there would be hell to pay from the FAKE NEWS MEDIA!”

Trump pledged not to accept a salary during the 2016 presidential campaign, but he is by law required to do so. After entering the Oval Office, he has opted to donate his annual $400,000 salary to various agencies every quarter.

The president in January directed his $100,000 paycheck to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), a department that “conducts research on the impact of alcohol use on human health and well-being,” according to the its website. The donation was more personal for Trump, whose late brother, Fred Trump Jr., died nearly four decades ago after battling alcohol addition.

People work on the U.S./ Mexican border wall on February 12, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

People work on the U.S./ Mexican border wall on February 12, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Other agencies that have been beneficiaries of Trump’s salary includes the National Park Service, Department of Transportation, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs and others. John F. Kennedy and Herbert Hoover are the only other U.S. presidents to refuse a salary while in office. (RELATED: Border Crossings To Reach Highest Levels In Over A Decade, Nielsen Warns)

The most recent donation will help fund the Department of Homeland Security’s operations on the border and other immigration enforcement activities.

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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].

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An aircraft engine being built at Honeywell Aerospace in Phoenix
FILE PHOTO: A worker is seen building an aircraft engine at Honeywell Aerospace in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. on September 6, 2016. REUTERS/Alwyn Scott

March 19, 2019

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – New orders for U.S.-made goods rose less than expected in January, held back by decreases in orders for computers and electronic products, in another indication of slowing manufacturing activity.

Factory goods orders edged up 0.1 percent, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday, as demand for primary metals and fabricated metal products fell. That followed an unrevised 0.1 percent gain in December.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast factory orders rising 0.3 percent in January. Factory orders increased 3.8 percent compared to January 2018.

The release of the report was delayed by a 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government that ended on Jan. 25.

Reports last Friday showed manufacturing output fell for a second straight month in February and factory activity in New York state hit nearly a two-year low this month.

Manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 percent of the economy, is losing momentum as the stimulus from last year’s $1.5 trillion tax cut package fades. Activity is also being crimped by a trade war between the United States and China as well as by last year’s surge in the dollar and softening global economic growth, which are hurting exports.

In January, orders for machinery rose 1.5 percent after falling 0.4 percent in December. Orders for mining, oil field and gas field machinery fell 2.7 percent after tumbling 8.2 percent in December.

Orders for electrical equipment, appliances and components rebounded 1.4 percent after dropping 0.3 percent in December. Computers and electronic products orders fell 0.9 percent after decreasing 0.4 percent in December.

Orders for primary metals declined 2.0 percent and fabricated metal products orders fell 0.6 percent. Transportation equipment orders increased 1.2 percent in January, slowing from the prior month’s 3.2 percent rise.

Orders for civilian aircraft and parts increased 15.6 percent in January. Motor vehicles and parts orders gained 0.4 percent.

The Commerce Department also said January orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, which are seen as a measure of business spending plans on equipment, rose 0.8 percent as reported last week. Orders for these so-called core capital goods dropped 0.8 percent in December.

Shipments of core capital goods, which are used to calculate business equipment spending in the gross domestic product report, also increased 0.8 percent in January as previously reported. Core capital goods shipments edged up 0.1 percent in December.

(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

Source: OANN

Ethiopian Red Cross workers carry a body bag with the remains of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash victims at the scene of a plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa
FILE PHOTO: Ethiopian Red Cross workers carry a body bag with the remains of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash victims at the scene of a plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

March 19, 2019

By Maggie Fick and Tim Hepher

ADDIS ABABA/PARIS (Reuters) – The investigation into the final minutes of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 turned on Tuesday to the secrets in the cockpit voice recorder as Boeing and a shaken global aviation industry hung on the outcome.

The voices of Captain Yared Getachew and First Officer Ahmednur Mohammed could reveal what led to the March 10 crash of the Boeing 737 MAX that has worrying parallels with another disaster involving the same model off Indonesia in October.

(GRAPHIC: Ethiopian Airlines crash – https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hn6V4k)

The twin disasters killed 346 people.

Black box data was downloaded in France but only Ethiopian experts leading the probe have heard the dialogue between Getachew, 29, and Mohammed, 25. The data was back in Addis Ababa on Tuesday, sources familiar with the probe told Reuters.

Experts believe a new automated system in Boeing’s flagship MAX fleet – intended to stop stalling by dipping the plane’s nose – may have played a role in both crashes, with pilots unable to override it as their jets plunged downwards.

Both came down just minutes after take-off after erratic flight patterns and loss of control reported by the pilots. However, every accident is a unique chain of human and technical factors, experts say.

The prestige of Ethiopian Airlines, one of Africa’s most successful companies, and Boeing, the world’s biggest planemaker and a massive U.S. exporter, is at stake in the inquiry.

AWKWARD QUESTIONS FOR INDUSTRY

Lawmakers and safety experts are questioning how thoroughly regulators vetted the MAX model and how well pilots were trained on new features. For now, regulators have grounded the existing fleet of more than 300 MAX aircraft and deliveries of nearly 5,000 more – worth well over $500 billion – are on hold.

Pressure on the Chicago-headquartered company has grown with news that federal prosecutors and the U.S. Department of Transportation are scrutinizing how carefully the MAX model was developed, two people briefed on the matter said.

The U.S. Justice Department was looking at the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) oversight of Boeing, one of the people said. And a federal grand jury last week issued at least one subpoena to an entity involved in the plane’s development.

In the hope of getting its MAX line back into the air soon, Boeing said it will roll out a software update and revise pilot training. In the case of the Lion Air crash in Indonesia, it has raised questions about whether crew used the correct procedures.

“Lives depend on the work we do,” acknowledged Boeing boss Dennis Muilenburg, facing the biggest crisis of his tenure.

The MAX, which offers cost savings of about 15 percent on fuel, was developed for service from 2017 after the successful launch by its main rival of the Airbus A320neo.

(GRAPHIC: The grounded 737 Max fleet – https://tmsnrt.rs/2u5sZYI)

After Ethiopia, France and the United States all noted parallels with the Indonesia crash, one person familiar with the probe said black box data showed the Ethiopian Airlines jet’s “angle of attack” was “very similar” to the Lion Air plane.

The angle of attack is a fundamental parameter of flight, measuring the degrees between the air flow and the wing. If it is too high, it can throw the plane into an aerodynamic stall.

GLOBAL RAMIFICATIONS

In the hot seat over its certification of the MAX without demanding additional training and its closeness to Boeing, the FAA has said it is “absolutely” confident in its vetting.

But given the U.S. probe, Canada said it would re-examine its acceptance of the FAA validation and do its own independent certification.

The crisis has put the airline world in a spin.

One company, Norwegian Airlines, has already said it will seek compensation after grounding its MAX aircraft.

Various firms are reconsidering Boeing orders, and some airlines are revising profit forecasts given they now cannot count on maintenance and fuel savings factored in from the MAX.

Beyond the corporate ramifications, anguished relatives are still waiting to find out what happened.

Many have been visiting the crash site in a charred field to seek some closure, but there is anger at the slow pace of information and all they have been given for funerals is earth.

Abdulmajid Shariff, a Yemeni who lost his brother-in-law, was heading home on Tuesday. “I’m just so terribly sad. I had to leave here without the body of my dead brother. But I have to praise almighty God, there is nothing more to do.”

(Reporting by Maggie Fick and Jason Neely in Addis Ababa, Tim Hepher in Paris, David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Jamie Freed in Singapore; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Georgina Prodhan)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo of Offutt Air Force Base and the surrounding areas affected by flood waters in Nebraska
FILE PHOTO: Offutt Air Force Base and the surrounding areas affected by flood waters are seen in this aerial photo taken in Nebraska, U.S., March 16, 2019. Courtesy Rachelle Blake/U.S. Air Force/Handout via REUTERS

March 19, 2019

(Reuters) – Vice President Mike Pence is due to travel to Nebraska on Tuesday to tour the devastation left by floods in the Midwest which have killed at least three people and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

Media reports including CNN say that 74 of Nebraska’s 93 counties had declared states of emergency by early Tuesday.

“This is clearly the most widespread disaster we have had in our state’s history,” in terms of sheer size, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts told reporters on Monday afternoon.

Ricketts will join Pence as he surveys the damage, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Twitter late on Monday. Pence is traveling at U.S. President Donald Trump’s request, she said.

The flood water have been driven by snow melt from heavy rains last week and warm temperatures said Bob Oravec, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.

“Most of the snow pack in Nebraska is now gone, but up river in North and South Dakota, there’s significant snow pack of up to 20 plus inches and it’s melting,” he said.

The Missouri River, the longest in North America, has flooded much of Nebraska between Omaha and Kansas City at the Missouri state line.

The river was expected to crest at more than 47 feet (14.5 meters) on Tuesday, breaking the previous record, set in 2011, by more than a foot, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency said in the latest bulletin on its web page.

At least one person was missing on Monday in addition to the three reported deaths.

State officials said Monday that 290 people had been rescued by the Nebraska State Patrol, National Guard troops, and urban search and rescue teams.

Damage to the state’s livestock sector was estimated at about $400 million, while the full impact on the spring planting season was not yet clear, said Steve Wellman, director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

The state’s highway system suffered hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, said Kyle Schneweis, director of the state Department of Transportation.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta, Gina Cherelus in New York, and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Alison Williams)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Go-Jek driver helmets are seen during the Go-Food festival in Jakarta
FILE PHOTO: Go-Jek driver helmets are seen during the Go-Food festival in Jakarta, Indonesia, Oct. 27, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta/File Photo

March 19, 2019

By Neil Jerome Morales and Fanny Potkin

MANILA (Reuters) – Indonesian ride-hailing firm Go-Jek lost an appeal on Tuesday against the Philippines’ decision to refuse to grant it a license due to its failure to meet local ownership criteria, in a major blow to its Southeast Asia expansion plans.

Go-Jek, whose backers include Alphabet Inc’s Google <GOOGL.O> and Tencent Holdings Ltd <0700.HK>, had hoped to take on Singapore-based Grab which is the dominant player in the Philippines ride-hailing sector.

The firm applied for a license to operate in Manila in August through wholly owned subsidiary Velox but was denied in January, after ride-hailing was added to a list of industries where foreign ownership is limited to 40 percent. [nL3N1Z91BC]

“They filed a motion for reconsideration, but failed to fix Filipino ownership requirement,” Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Martin Delgra told Reuters.

A Go-Jek spokesman said the firm was disappointed and “will now explore our options”.

Several Philippine ride-hailing firms have started operations in the capital Manila and in major provinces over the past two years but have had limited success in eroding Grab’s domestic market share, which stands at over 90 percent.

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales in Manila and Fanny Potkin in Jakarta; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Stephen Coates)

Source: OANN

Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

The Justice Department is investigating Boeing’s development process for the 737 Max jetliner after two high-profile accidents appear to involve the planes’ anti-stall systems, The Wall Street Journal reports.

A grand jury in Washington, D.C., issued a subpoena for documents from one person involved in the development process on March 11, TheWSJ reported, citing a source familiar with the matter. The investigation comes alongside a Department of Transportation probe into the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval process that certified the Boeing plane and its safety and training procedures.

It is unclear whether the two investigations are separate or two parts of a larger inquiry, reported TheWSJ. (RELATED: Ethiopian Boeing Flight ‘Smoked And Shuddered’ Minutes Before Crash)

The Justice Department’s involvement could signal that criminal charges are on the table for those involved in the Max’s development. A prosecutor in the department’s criminal division was listed as a contact on the subpoena, according to TheWSJ.

Two separate crashes, one in October 2018 and another in March, involved Boeing’s Max model. In October 2018, a Max operated by Lion Air crashed into the Java Sea in Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board. The plane crashed shortly after takeoff and investigators suspect a flaw in the system’s anti-stall system caused it, CNN reports.

On March 10, an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 people on board. Boeing investigators are working with the Ethiopian government to identify the cause of the crash. Ethiopia’s transport minister acknowledged that the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes shared “clear similarities” on Sunday.

Members of the Ethiopian red cross search for remains at the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash before a commemoration ceremony at the scene of the crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Members of the Ethiopian red cross search for remains at the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash before a commemoration ceremony at the scene of the crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Many nations have enacted bans on flying Max planes since the Ethiopian Airlines crash. President Donald Trump banned the use of the plane Wednesday, grounding all flights in the U.S. scheduled to use the plane.

Pilots in the U.S. complained multiple times about the Max model plane before the March crash. Several of the complaints cited the model’s anti-stall system. The system sometimes measured false data on takeoff, and it would push the plane’s nose down toward the ground to prevent a stall. Pilots regained control of the plane and continued climbing only after turning off the system.

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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].

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Amber Athey | White House Correspondent

Former Vice President Joe Biden claimed Saturday that he was a desegregationist, despite the fact that he opposed mandatory busing and seemed to embrace segregation in 1975.

During a Delaware Democratic Party fundraising dinner, Biden spoke about the 2017 neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, stating, “I played a very big part in the civil rights movement in this state, on the east side, being engaged in early desegregation efforts and the like. But I thought five years ago I would … never see anything like what happened in one of the historic cities in America.”

WATCH:

Biden’s own comments from the 1970s, however, seem to dispute the notion that he was working to end segregation.

The Washington Examiner reported in January that Biden once argued to NPR that school segregation benefited black people and allowed them retain the integrity of their communities.

“I think the concept of busing … that we are going to integrate people so that they all have the same access and they learn to grow up with one another and all the rest, is a rejection of the whole movement of black pride,” Biden said, also stating that desegregation was “a rejection of the entire black awareness concept, where black is beautiful, black culture should be studied; and the cultural awareness of the importance of their own identity, their own individuality.”

Biden made similar remarks during a 1975 interview with U.S. News & World Report, indicating that he believed federal mandates to bus black students to majority white schools were more harmful than they were beneficial. (RELATED: Joe Biden’s History On Race Looms As He Weighs Presidential Run)

“Common sense says to the average American: ‘The idea that you make me part of a racial percentage instead of a person in a classroom is asinine,’” Biden argued. “In addition, busing also is damaging because it spends on transportation money that could be better spent on new textbooks and other educational improvements.”

On segregation, Biden suggested efforts to desegregate could backfire by resulting in “heightened racial tension.”

“You get whites saying: ‘I know why it’s happening. It’s those goddarned civil-rights people. It’s those damn liberals.’ Then, after there’s turmoil, with school days missed, teachers not showing up, it degenerates into: ‘It’s those blacks,’” Biden claimed.

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Two Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft are parked at a Boeing production facility in Renton, Washington
FILE PHOTO: Two Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft are parked at a Boeing production facility in Renton, Washington, U.S., March 11, 2019. REUTERS/David Ryder

March 18, 2019

By Maggie Fick and Tim Hepher

ADDIS ABABA/PARIS (Reuters) – The world’s biggest planemaker faced escalating pressure on Monday after Ethiopia pointed to parallels between its crash and one in Indonesia, sharping the focus on the safety of software installed in Boeing 737 MAX planes.

The Ethiopian Airlines disaster eight days ago killed 157 people, grounded Boeing’s marquee MAX fleet worldwide, and sparked a high-stakes inquiry for the shaken aviation industry.

Ethiopian Airlines, whose reputation also hinges on the investigation, said at the weekend initial analysis of the black boxes showed “clear similarities” with a Lion Air flight from Jakarta in October which crashed killing 189 people.

Both planes were MAX 8s and crashed minutes after take-off with pilots reporting flight control problems.

Under scrutiny is a new automated system in the MAX model that guides the nose lower to avoid stalling.

Lawmakers and safety experts are asking how thoroughly regulators vetted the system and how well pilots around the world were trained for it when their airlines bought new planes.

Ethiopian Transport Ministry spokesman Muse Yiheyis said on Sunday that data recovered from the black boxes by investigators in Paris demonstrated parallels with the Lion Air crash and had been validated by U.S. experts.

U.S. officials did not corroborate that.

With the prestige of one of the United States’ biggest exporters at stake, Boeing has said the MAX series is safe, though it plans to roll out new software upgrades shortly.

The grounded 737 Max fleet: https://tmsnrt.rs/2u5sZYI

Ethiopian Airlines crash: https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hn6V4k

SHADOW OVER 737 MAX

Boeing has lost billions of dollars of market value since the crash, and halted deliveries of its best-selling model, one intended to be the industry standard but now under a shadow.

There were more than 300 MAX airplanes in operation at the time of the Ethiopian crash, and nearly 5,000 more on order.

Media reports heaped further pressure on Boeing.

The Seattle Times said the company’s safety analysis of a new flight control system known as MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) had crucial flaws, including understating the power of the system.

It also said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) followed a standard certification process on the MAX rather than detailed extra inquiries. The FAA declined to comment, but has said the process followed normal process.

The Wall Street Journal reported that federal prosecutors and U.S. Department of Transportation were scrutinizing the FAA’s approval of the MAX series, while a jury had issued a subpoena to at least one person involved in its development.

Boeing and the FAA declined to comment on that.

Last week, sources told Reuters that investigators found a piece of a stabilizer in the Ethiopian wreckage set in an unusual position similar to that of the Lion Air plane.

Ethiopia is leading the probe, though the black boxes were sent to France and U.S. experts are also participating.

It was unclear how many of the roughly 1,800 parameters of flight data and two hours of cockpit recordings, spanning the doomed six-minute flight and earlier trips, had been taken into account in the preliminary Ethiopian analysis.

In Addis Ababa, a source who has listened to the air traffic control recording of the plane’s communications, said flight 302 had an unusually high speed after take-off before it reported problems and asked permission to climb quickly.

CLOSURE?

The inquiry is not only crucial to give some closure to the families of the victims, who came from nearly three dozen countries, but also has huge financial implications for Boeing and its many customers worldwide.

The MAX is Boeing’s best-selling model ever, with a backlog of orders worth well over $500 billion at a list price of $121 million each.

Norwegian Airlines has already said it will seek compensation after grounding its MAX aircraft, and various companies are re-considering orders.

Some airlines are revising financial forecasts, too, given the MAX had been factored in as providing some maintenance and fuel savings.

Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg sought to allay some fears at the weekend.

“While investigators continue to work to establish definitive conclusions, Boeing is finalizing its development of a previously-announced software update and pilot training revision that will address the MCAS flight control law’s behavior in response to erroneous sensor inputs,” he said.

Dozens of aviation authorities had grounded the MAX series before acting U.S. FAA boss Daniel Elwell said the United States would do the same.

One source close to the probe said Ethiopian officials had been reluctant to share information with U.S. investigation teams and the planemaker.

“There was a lot of distrust, especially at first, but it is easing,” the source said, asking not to be named.

There have also been arguments over access to the crater left by the explosive high-speed impact of Flight 302.

The agony for families of the dead in Ethiopia has been compounded by their inability to bury remains. Charred fragments are all that remain and DNA testing may take months.

(Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; editing by Jason Neely)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The company logo and trading informations for Boeing is displayed on a screen on the floor of the NYSE in New York
FILE PHOTO: The company logo and trading informations for Boeing is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

March 18, 2019

(Reuters) – Boeing Co shares fell by more than 2.2 percent early on Monday, after a pair of newspaper reports over the weekend raised more questions about the certification process for its 737 MAX jets before two recent deadly crashes.

A Wall Street Journal report on Sunday said that the U.S. Transportation Department was probing the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) approval of the 737 MAX and in particular its anti-stall (MCAS) system.

The Seattle Times separately reported that Boeing’s safety analysis of a new flight control system on 737 MAX jets had several crucial flaws.

Shares of the company have declined about 10 percent since the March 10 Ethiopian crash that killed 157 people, wiping nearly $25 billion off its market capitalization, according to Refinitiv data.

Ethiopia said on Sunday that the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines plane had “clear similarities” with October’s Lion Air crash.

The U.S. Transportation Department’s inquiry, which was launched in the wake of the accident in October that killed 189 people, has warned two FAA offices to safeguard computer files, the WSJ reported.

Last Monday, Boeing said it would deploy a software upgrade to the 737 MAX 8, hours after the FAA said it would mandate “design changes” in the aircraft by April.

(Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing Patrick Graham, Bernard Orr)

Source: OANN

Chris White | Energy Reporter

President Donald Trump reportedly said self-driving cars are “crazy” contraptions and will ultimately never work, according to Axios, citing sources reporters say have personally observed the president criticizing the technology.

Trump played out scenes of self-driving cars going haywire and veering into trees and walls, sources told Axios reporters. The president said he doesn’t think autonomous vehicles are practical, according to multiple sources who’ve witnessed Trump discussing the matter privately.

“You know when he’s telling a story, and he does the hand motions,” one source said, referring to Trump’s hand gesticulations.

The person added: “He (Trump) says, ‘Can you imagine, you’re sitting in the back seat and all of a sudden this car is zig-zagging around the corner and you can’t stop the f—ing thing?’”

The president has also called the revolution “crazy,” reported Axios on Sunday.

Trump’s not alone in his view. Nearly 71 percent of U.S. drivers say they would be afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicles, AAA noted Thursday.

Another source told reporters Sunday that Trump told him self-driving cars “will never work.” News of the president’s alleged animus to autonomous vehicles comes amid reports Tesla’s self-driving cars frequently suffer glitches. (RELATED: ‘Car Was Possessed’: Glitches In Autonomous Vehicle Features Are Creeping Out Drivers)

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report from June 2018, for instance, found a Tesla vehicle involved in a deadly wreck in March of that year rapidly accelerated prior to barreling into a street barrier. The report raised alarms about the safety and risk associated with the functionality of Tesla’s autopilot system.

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past the Tesla showroom in Canary Wharf financial district in London, Britain, March 1, 2019. REUTERS/Russell Boyce

Trump’s skeptical position doesn’t seem to have slowed down his administration’s embrace of the technology. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced March 13 a new regulatory body designed to push hyperloop tunnels and self-driving technologies to the forefront.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Friday it is considering changes to decades-old motor vehicle statutes to allow cars with no steering wheels, pedals or gear shifts. One source told Axios’ reporters Sunday it probably wouldn’t take much for Trump to reverse his administration’s light-touch position on such technology.

The White House has not yet responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment about the validity of Axios’ sources.

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FILE PHOTO: Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are parked at a Boeing production facility in Renton, Washington
FILE PHOTO: Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are parked at a Boeing production facility in Renton, Washington, U.S., March 11, 2019. REUTERS/David Ryder/File Photo

March 18, 2019

(Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Transportation is investigating the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval of Boeing Co’s 737 MAX jetliners, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing people familiar with the probe.

The Transportation Department’s inquiry was launched in the wake of October’s Lion Air accident that killed 189 people and is being conducted by its inspector general, which has warned two FAA offices to safeguard computer files, the Journal said.

Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Federal Aviation Administration declined to comment. Two government officials briefed on the matter said it would not be surprising for the Transportation Department’s inspector general to investigate a major safety issue but could not immediately confirm the report.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru)

Source: OANN

Melania Trump is hosting a White House meeting this week to review youth programs at various government departments and agencies.

The first lady's office says she will lead Monday's discussion at a meeting of the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs. The goal is to build upon and improve youth programs that align with her "Be Best" initiative, which focuses on the well-being of children, their safety online and avoiding drugs.

The working group was established under President George W. Bush.

Major participating agencies include the departments of State, Defense, Justice, Interior, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education.

The Environmental Protection Agency, National Endowment for the Arts, National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Agency for International Development are among other participating agencies.

Source: NewsMax

A woman mourns next to coffins during the burial ceremony of the Ethiopian Airline Flight ET 302 crash victims at the Holy Trinity Cathedral Orthodox church in Addis Ababa
A woman mourns next to coffins during the burial ceremony of the Ethiopian Airline Flight ET 302 crash victims at the Holy Trinity Cathedral Orthodox church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 17, 2019. REUTERS/Maheder Haileselassie

March 17, 2019

By Maggie Fick

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia said on Sunday the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane that killed 157 people had “clear similarities” with October’s Lion Air crash, according to analysis of the black boxes recovered from the wreckage of the March 10 disaster.

Both planes were Boeing 737 MAX 8s, and both crashed minutes after take off after pilots reported flight control problems. Concern over the plane’s safety caused aviation authorities worldwide to ground the model, wiping billions of dollars off Boeing’s market value.

Investigators are trying to determine why the aircraft plunged into a field shortly after take off from Addis Ababa, searching for possible similarities to an October Lion Air crash that killed 189 people.

“It was the same case with the Indonesian (Lion Air) one. There were clear similarities between the two crashes so far,” Ethiopian transport ministry spokesman Muse Yiheyis said.

“The data was successfully recovered. Both the American team and our (Ethiopian) team validated it. The minister thanked the French government. We will let you know more after three or four days,” he told Reuters.

In Washington, U.S. officials told Reuters that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. National Transportation Safety Board have not validated the data yet.

When investigators, after reviewing black box data, return to Addis Ababa and start conducting interpretive work, the NTSB and FAA will assist in verification and validation of the data, an official said.

In Paris, France’s BEA air accident investigation agency said data from the jet’s cockpit voice recorder had been successfully downloaded. The French agency said in a tweet it had not listened to the audio files and that the data had been transferred to Ethiopian investigators.

In Addis Ababa, a source who has listened to the air traffic control recording of the plane’s communications said flight 302 had an unusually high speed after take-off before the plane reported problems and asked permission to climb quickly.

Ethiopian Airlines crash: https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hn6V4k

SAFETY ANALYSIS

A preliminary report on the crash is to be released within 30 days, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing the transport minister.

The Seattle Times reported that Boeing’s safety analysis of a new flight control system on 737 MAX jets had several crucial flaws.

The analysis of the system called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) understated the power of this system, the Seattle Times said, citing current and former engineers at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The FAA also did not delve into any detailed inquiries and followed a standard certification process on the MAX, the Seattle Times reported citing an FAA spokesman.

The FAA declined to comment on the Seattle Times report but referred to previous statements about the certification process. It has said the 737-MAX certification process followed the FAA’s standard certification process.

The report also said both Boeing and the FAA were informed of the specifics of this story and were asked for responses 11 days ago, before the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX last Sunday that killed all 157 people on board. The same model flown by Lion Air crashed off the coast of Indonesia in October, killing all 189 on board.

Last Monday Boeing said it would deploy a software upgrade to the 737 MAX 8, a few hours after the FAA said it would mandate “design changes” in the aircraft by April.

A Boeing spokesman said 737 MAX was certified in accordance with the identical FAA requirements and processes that have governed certification of all previous new airplanes and derivatives. The spokesman said the FAA concluded that MCAS on 737 MAX met all certification and regulatory requirements.

In Addis Ababa, aviation staff gathered at Bole International Airport to remember the two pilots and six crew, who perished along with the 149 passengers.

Weeping women held single stems in their shaking hands. Banks of the white flowers, the traditional color of mourning, were placed in front of a row of empty coffins at the ceremony.

The grounded 737 Max fleet: https://tmsnrt.rs/2u5sZYI

(Additional reporting by David Shepardson, Gaurika Juneja, Editing by William Maclean)

Source: OANN

Scott Morefield | Reporter

General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had harsh words for Google’s relationship with China during a Thursday Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

“The work that Google is doing in China is … indirectly benefiting the Chinese military,” Dunford told committee members during the defense budget hearing.

“Look, we’re the good guys. And the values that we represent, and the system that we represent is the one that will allow you, and has allowed you, to thrive,” he said in a paraphrase of how he describes the situation to “industry partners.”

Dunford characterized the work Google and other companies do in China as having “indirect benefit” before going even further.

We watch with great concern when industry partners work in China knowing that there is that indirect benefit. And frankly, ‘indirect’ may be not a full characterization of the way it really is. It’s more of a direct benefit to the Chinese military.

Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, a vocal opponent of some Big Tech practices, tweeted video of Dunford’s statement, calling it a “must watch video.” (RELATED: Half As Many Google Employees Protested Building Chinese Surveillance Tech As Protested Pentagon Project)

“We are in a struggle with the Chinese government over whether or not they’re going to become a regional or maybe global hegemon with values very different from ours, certainly values that do not favor freedom in the world, and we have an American company that does not want to do work with our Defense Department, which is one thing, but they’re happy to help the Chinese … military, at least indirectly,” said Hawley. “I think that’s just extraordinary.”

When asked by CNN, a Google spokesperson “declined to address Dunford’s comments that the company’s work was benefiting the Chinese military,” but did issue a statement to the network on work it does do with the Pentagon.

“We deeply respect the US military and we are working with them to solve problems in areas like cybersecurity, logistics, transportation and planning,” the spokesperson told CNN.

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Source: The Daily Caller

Logo of General Motors is pictured at its plant in Silao
FILE PHOTO: A logo of General Motors is pictured at its plant in Silao, in Guanajuato state, Mexico, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

March 15, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Friday it was seeking public comment on General Motors’ 15-month-old petition seeking approval to deploy a limited number vehicles on U.S. roads without steering wheels or other human controls.

The agency also disclosed that Softbank-backed driverless delivery startup Nuro had also petitioned to deploy a limited number of low-speed, highly automated delivery vehicles intended to be operated without any human occupants. For example Nuro, which partnered with Kroger last year to deliver groceries, seeks approval not to include a windshield in the vehicle.

The petitions for exemptions are from U.S. vehicle safety rules that were largely written decades ago with the assumption that human drivers were in control.

The Transportation Department said it has not made “any judgment on the GM petition and will accept public comments for at least 60 days as it seeks input on a detailed list of questions about the issues surrounding deploying vehicles without human controls.

GM said it 2018 it planned to deploy the vehicles by the end of 2019 but it is unclear if it will win regulatory approval by the end of this year, especially in light of the 15 months that elapsed without any decisions by the agency.

GM spokesman Patrick Sullivan said the company’s “plans have not changed. We are still seeking approval for the petition.”

GM said it would initially limit the speed of the test fleet of no more than 2,500 modified Chevrolet Bolt EVs as part of a GM-controlled ridesharing fleet.

Last year, Congress failed to pass sweeping legislation to speed the deployment of self-driving cars on U.S. roads, while a fatal crash of an Uber Technologies Inc self-driving vehicle with a back-up safety driver in the front seat raised public alarm.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Source: OANN

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

  • Thousands of children will skip school to protest inaction on global warming, but their movement is based on a poor understanding of the science.
  • It’s not surprising given that adults have been telling them for months that humanity only has 12 years to avoid catastrophic warming.
  • But the United Nations assessments don’t suggest we’re on track for catastrophe — and that’s if you buy climate model forecasts.

Thousands of students will skip school Friday over global warming as part of an international movement backed by adult activists and based on a misreading of the latest United Nations climate report.

In the U.S., strikers are calling “for the Green New Deal, for a fair and just transition to a 100% renewable economy, and for ending the creation of additional fossil fuel infrastructure,” according to the Youth Climate Strike website.

Young activists say “inaction has left us with just 11 years to change the trajectory of the worst effects of climate change.”

Isra Hirsi, the teenage daughter of Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, is one of the protest leaders. Her mother joined the planned strike for Washington, D.C., and tweeted in support of the climate protests, “We need to listen to the wisdom of our kids!”

Monied environmental organizations are supporting the strikers, and The New York Times said “grown-ups should listen” to children protesters. So, what exactly are these children saying?

“The rest of my life is literally on the line,” 17-year-old activist Feliquan Charlemagne told The Washington Post. “I’m going to have to grow up in this if we don’t take action and don’t turn it around.”

People take part in a "youth strike for climate change" demonstration in London

People take part in a “youth strike for climate change” demonstration in London, Britain February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson.

“I have dreams to run for president in 2044, but will that even be a possibility for me if we don’t do anything by 2030?” Isabella Fallahi, a 14-year-old high school student, told The Post. (RELATED: House GOP Demands Nancy Pelosi Hold Hearings On The Green New Deal)

The student strikes were inspired by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, who began ditching school in August to sit in protest outside Swedish parliament. Thunberg skyrocketed to fame in 2018 after speaking at the United Nations climate summit in Katowice, Poland.

Greta told the U.N. in December that “civilization is being sacrificed” by adults who were “stealing” their children’s futures by not immediately shedding fossil fuels.

Since then, tens of thousands of students across the western world have skipped school to demand politicians immediately enact policies to decarbonize society. To young students, it’s a battle against a bleak, near-apocalyptic future.

Student activists’ alarm isn’t surprising — it’s been nurtured by the media, climate activists and politicians in the wake of a U.N. report released in October.

The U.N. special report stated emissions needed to fall 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030, and then for emissions to reach zero by 2050 to avoid warming above 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100. The U.N. Paris climate accord calls for keeping future warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

(And that’s if you put faith in the U.N.’s climate models, which have been shown to overestimate warming by as much as 50 percent.)

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg joins students for school strike in Hamburg

16-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg is seen on stage as she takes part in a protest claiming for urgent measures to combat climate change, in Hamburg, Germany, March 1, 2019. REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen.

Is 1.5 to 2 degrees of warming catastrophic? The U.N.’s projections suggest no, but the media framed it as a 12-year deadline to prevent climate change catastrophe. (RELATED: Greenpeace Co-Founder Patrick Moore Calls Out His Former Group For Rewriting History)

The 12-year deadline became a talking point for politicians and climate activists like Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Green New Deal’s main champion, and 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke.

“The scientists are unanimous on this. We have no more than 12 years to take incredibly bold action on this crisis,” O’Rourke said campaigning in Iowa Thursday, adding its our “final chance” to avert potential “extinction.”

There was such a kerfuffle over Ocasio-Cortez invoking the 12-year climate deadline that climate scientists came forward to refute the talking point. However, those same scientists signed onto a letter endorsing the youth climate strikes — strikes based on the same claims scientists criticized.

So, are we on track for catastrophe? The last major assessment put the cost of 2 degrees Celsius of warming above the pre-industrial era equivalent to “between 0.2 and 2.0% of income.”

As climate policy expert Bjorn Lomborg noted, other estimates put the costs of global warming at 2 to 4 percent in lost economic output by the end of the century — so the world will still be richer, just 2 to 4 percent less rich based on economic models.

Final session of the COP24 U.N. Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice

COP24 President Michal Kurtyka, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Patricia Espinosa, Ovais Sarmad, UN Climate Change Deputy Executive Secretary, react after adopting the final agreement during a closing session of the COP24 U.N. Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice, Poland, December 15, 2018. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel.

“Problem, not catastrophe,” tweeted Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and has led in-depth economic analyses on the trade-offs of focusing on climate change at the expense of other issues, like malnourishment and disease.

On the flip side, the U.N.’s 2018 special report pegged the cost of reducing emissions in line with Paris accord goals to be “around 2.4 trillion [dollars] between 2016 and 2035, representing about 2.5% of the world GDP.”

Though that may be on the low-end, the U.N. noted, admitting that other “assessments for a 2°C-consistent transition suggest that including investments in transportation and in other infrastructure would increase the investment needs by a factor of three.”

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Traders work on the floor at the NYSE in New York
FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

March 15, 2019

By David Randall

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The S&P 400 Mid-Cap index has surged to its best start to a year since 1991, both rewarding fund managers and forcing them to work harder to seek out bargains in a group that is now the most expensive part of the U.S. market based on their historical averages.

The rally in mid-cap stocks – companies with a market valuation between $2 billion and $10 billion – has come during a broad rally in global stock markets as investors price in a resolution in the trade talks between the United States and China and fewer interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.

Mid-caps are up 14 percent for the year to date and sport an average price-to-earnings ratio of 16.9 times forward earnings, for their highest valuation premiums to small-cap stocks since 2017, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch research.

Yet fund managers from Janus Henderson, Hotchkis & Wiley, and Fairpointe Capital are among those who are still finding values by concentrating on financial, energy and media stocks and eschewing the high-priced real estate investment trusts and utility companies that make up nearly a fifth of the benchmark index.

“The window for the big bargain bin was the fourth quarter and that was about it,” said Kevin Preloger, a portfolio manager of the $3.3 billion Janus Henderson Mid Cap Value fund. “We’re looking for companies that have good balance sheets and good cash flow, but the tough part is reasonable valuations.”

Preloger’s fund is finding them in financial companies such as M&T Bank Corp and Hartford Financial Services Group Inc that are increasing their stock buybacks at the same time they have been beating analysts’ earnings expectations. Shares of M&T, for instance, are up 20.8 percent since the start of the year and trade at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 11.8.

“Financials are the cheapest sector in the space, and their earnings are also growing,” Preloger said.

Stanley Majcher, a portfolio manager of the $1.4 billion Hotchkis & Wiley Mid-Cap Value fund, is buying into overlooked financial and energy stocks because he considers them less risky than utility companies or REITs with higher valuations.

“Energy is very out of favor and there’s a perception that it’s a risky business because oil prices are likely to be low for a long period of time because of the market share war between OPEC and the U.S.,” he said. “But we see low volatility of demand and more discipline on the supply side.”

Among its largest holdings, Majcher’s fund has several energy companies, including Whiting Petroleum Corp, Kosmos Energy Ltd and Ophir Energy PLC, according to Morningstar data, with mixed results for the year to date. Shares of Whiting are up 12.4 percent year-to-date, while shares of Ophir are up nearly 53 percent over the same time.

Thyra Zerhusen, a portfolio manager of the $2.6 billion AMG Managers Fairpointe Mid Cap fund, said her fund is finding opportunities in media stocks such as broadcast company Tegna Inc, which was spun off of Gannett Co, magazine and local broadcasting company Meredith Corp, and New York Times Co, all of which should see a significant boost in revenues from the 2020 presidential and congressional elections, she said.

“With everybody running for president, the political advertising goes to these smaller market stations. Newspapers are almost non-existent now,” except for the New York Times, which continues to grow its digital subscriptions, she said.

She is also adding opportunistic positions in companies such as Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corp, which completed its merger with the transportation unit of General Electric Co on Feb. 25. Shares of the company are up 2.9 percent year-to-date, and remain 35 percent below where they were trading six months ago.

“We’re trying to add stocks where there may be a short-term problem hitting the share price but the long-term outlook looks okay,” she said.

(Reporting by David Randall; Editing by Jennifer Ablan and Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Men unload a case containing the black boxes from the crashed Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 outside the headquarters of France's BEA air accident investigation agency in Le Bourget
Men unload a case containing the black boxes from the crashed Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 outside the headquarters of France’s BEA air accident investigation agency in Le Bourget, north of Paris, France, March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo

March 15, 2019

By David Shepardson, Richard Lough and Aaron Maasho

WASHINGTON/PARIS/ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – French investigators on Friday will begin analyzing data from the black boxes of the Boeing 737 Max plane that crashed after takeoff from Addis Ababa killing 157 people, the second such calamity involving the aircraft since October.

Experts will be looking for any links between Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash and the October crash of a 737 Max operated by Lion Air in Indonesia that killed 189 people. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration grounded all Boeing MAX jets in service because of similarities between the two crashes.

Boeing said it had paused deliveries of its fastest-selling 737 MAX aircraft built at its factory near Seattle, but continues to produce the single-aisle version of the jet at full speed while dealing with the worldwide fleet’s grounding.

Possible links between the accidents have rocked the aviation industry, scared passengers, and left the world’s biggest planemaker scrambling to prove the safety of a money-spinning model intended to be the standard for decades.

The flight data and cockpit voice recorders were handed over to France’s Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) on Thursday. Technical analysis would begin on Friday and the first conclusions could take several days.

U.S. lawmakers said on Thursday the 737 Max fleet would be grounded for weeks if not longer until a software upgrade could be tested and installed.

Boeing has said it would roll out the software improvement “across the 737 MAX fleet in the coming weeks.”

The captain of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 requested permission to return to Addis Ababa airport three minutes after takeoff as it accelerated to abnormal speed, the New York Times reported.

All contact between air controllers and Flight 302 to Nairobi was lost five minutes after it took off, a person who reviewed air traffic communications told the newspaper.

Within a minute of the flight’s departure, Captain Yared Getachew reported a “flight control” problem as the aircraft was well below the minimum safe height during a climb, the Times reported, citing the person.

After being cleared by the control room to turn back, Flight 302 climbed to an unusually high altitude and disappeared from radar over a restricted military zone, the person added.

Relatives of the dead stormed out of a meeting with Ethiopian Airlines on Thursday, decrying a lack of transparency, while others made the painful trip to the crash scene.

“I can’t find you! Where are you?” said one Ethiopian woman, draped in traditional white mourning shawl, as she held a framed portrait of her brother in the charred and debris-strewn field.

Nations around the world, including an initially reluctant United States, have suspended the 371 MAX models in operation, though airlines are largely coping by switching flights to other planes in their fleets.

Nearly 5,000 MAXs are on order, meaning the financial implications are huge for the industry.

“We continue to build 737 MAX airplanes while assessing how the situation, including potential capacity constraints, will impact our production system,” Boeing spokesman Chaz Bickers said.

Boeing would maintain its production rate of 52 aircraft per month, of which the MAX, its newest version, represents the major share. However, Boeing declined to break out exact numbers.

CONNECTION TO INDONESIA CRASH?

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cited satellite data and evidence from the scene that indicated some similarities and “the possibility of a shared cause” with October’s crash in Indonesia.

The head of the Asian nation’s transport safety committee said the report into the Lion Air crash would be speeded up so it could be released in July to August, months earlier than its original timeframe.

Though it maintains the planes are safe, Boeing has supported the FAA move. Its stock is down about 11 percent since the crash, wiping more than $26 billion off its market value. It fell 1 percent on Thursday.

U.S. and Canadian carriers wrestled with customer calls and flight cancellations and Southwest Airlines Co and American Airlines Group Inc, the largest U.S. operators of the 737 MAX, said they had started flying empty MAX aircraft to be parked elsewhere during the ban.

U.S. President Donald Trump, an aviation enthusiast with deep ties to Boeing, said he hoped the suspensions would be short. “They have to figure it out fast,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

A software fix for the 737 MAX that Boeing has been working on since the Lion Air crash in October will take months to complete, the FAA said on Wednesday.

In what may presage a raft of claims, Norwegian Air has said it will seek compensation from Boeing for costs and lost revenue after grounding its fleet of 737 MAX.

Airline Garuda Indonesia said there was a possibility it would cancel its 20-strong order of 737 MAXs, while Malaysia Airlines said it was reviewing an order for 25 of the aircraft.

Under international rules, Ethiopians are leading the investigation but France’s BEA will conduct black box analysis as an adviser. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was also sending three investigators to assist.

The cause of the Indonesian crash is still being investigated. A November preliminary report, before the retrieval of the cockpit voice recorder, focused on maintenance and training and the response of a Boeing anti-stall system to a recently replaced sensor, but gave no reason for the crash.

(For an interactive graphic on ‘Ethiopian Airlines crash’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2ChBW5M)

(Reporting by Richard Lough, Tim Hepher and John Irish in Paris, Duncan Miriri and Aaron Masho in Addis Ababa, Jeff Mason and David Shepardson in Washington, Omar Mohammed and Maggie Fick in Nairobi; Danilo Masoni in Milan, and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle, Tracy Rucinski in Chicago, Allison Lampert in Montreal; Writing by Stephen Coates; Editing by Neil Fullick)

Source: OANN

An Indonesian National Transportation Safety Commission (KNKT) official examines a turbine engine from the Lion Air flight JT610 at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta
FILE PHOTO: An Indonesian National Transportation Safety Commission (KNKT) official examines a turbine engine from the Lion Air flight JT610 at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta, Indonesia, November 4, 2018. REUTERS/Beawiharta

March 15, 2019

(Reuters) – Indonesia plans to speed up the release of the report into its investigation of the October crash of Lion Air Boeing 737 that killed all 189 people on board to “between July to August”, the head of the nation’s transport safety committee KNKT said on Friday.

The crash was the world’s first of Boeing Co’s 737 MAX jet. A second deadly incident occurred on Sunday with the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet that killed all 157 people on board.

KNKT head Soerjanto told Reuters his agency would speed up its investigation and release the report months earlier than its original timeline of the fall of 2019.

(Reporting by Cindy Silviana; Writing by Fanny Potkin; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

Source: OANN

Before Beto O'Rourke — the latest Democrat entrant to the 2020 presidential race — was embraced by liberal online donors, his top financial backers were wealthy businessmen who donated millions to Republicans, The Washington Post reported.

Several of El Paso's richest business moguls donated to and raised money for O'Rourke's city council campaigns, drawn to his support for a plan to redevelop El Paso's poorer neighborhoods, the Post reported. Some later backed a super PAC that would play a key role in helping him defeat an incumbent Democratic congressman.

At the same time, O'Rourke worked on issues that had the potential to make money for some of his benefactors, the Post reported. For example, his support as a council member for the redevelopment plan coincided with property investments by some of his benefactors, the Post reported.

And as a congressman, O'Rourke supported a $2 billion military funding increase that benefited a company controlled by another major donor— real estate developer Woody Hunt, who also co-founded and funds an El Paso nonprofit organization that has employed O'Rourke's wife since 2016. the news outlet reported.

"We shared a common goal," said Ted Houghton, a local financial adviser and longtime O’Rourke donor who raised money for former GOP Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and helped steer millions in state transportation funding to the city. "The common goal was we needed to move El Paso in a different direction."

Acording to the Post, the former congressman's GOP ties are likely to become an issue as he enters a crowded Democratic presidential primary field that has leaned leftward.

But Republicans are also piling on. A recent ad by the Club for Growth described O'Rourke's pushing a redevelopment scheme "to bulldoze a poor Hispanic neighborhood," the Post reported.

Source: NewsMax

FILE PHOTO: An oil tanker is being loaded at Saudi Aramco's Ras Tanura oil refinery and oil terminal in Saudi Arabia
FILE PHOTO: An oil tanker is being loaded at Saudi Aramco’s Ras Tanura oil refinery and oil terminal in Saudi Arabia May 21, 2018.REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah/File Photo

March 14, 2019

By Rania El Gamal, Chen Aizhu and Min Zhang

DUBAI/SINGAPORE/BEIJING (Reuters) – Rising Russian and U.S. competition has pushed Saudi Aramco to find new buyers for its oil in China, encouraging a shift toward independent refiners and newcomers to the business.

It reflects a new strategy for the Saudi Arabian oil giant after years of dealing almost exclusively with major state-owned Chinese energy firms, industry sources say.

But the change in tack may not offer the same returns. Aramco’s new partners lack the scale and marketing reach of PetroChina and Sinopec Corp, the state-run firms that dominate China’s refining, petrochemical and retail fuel business, analysts say.

Aramco had been talking to PetroChina for years about a refining venture in Yunnan province in the southwest, but industry sources said the plans had been effectively shelved due to poor economics and disagreement over marketing rights.

Aramco, which did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment for this report, has instead turned to new and independent players in China’s refining and petrochemical industry.

In February, it agreed to form a venture with Chinese defense conglomerate Norinco to develop a $10 billion refining and petrochemicals complex in the city of Panjin, in the northeast province of Liaoning.

It also signed memorandums of understanding to expand its activities in Zhejiang province in the east. The plans include buying 9 percent of Zhejiang Petrochemical to secure a stake in a 800,000 barrel per day (bpd) refinery and petrochemicals complex in the city of Zhoushan, south of Shanghai.

The deals are part of a strategy shift to court new buyers, including smaller, independently run refiners, known as “teapots”, industry sources say.

“The private players are more open and entrepreneurial. They also need the oil and the experience,” said one source familiar with the recent deals in China.

CATCHING UP

The strategy has helped put Saudi Arabia on track to lift oil exports to China to 1.5 million bpd in the first quarter, catching up with Russia which has been China’s No. 1 supplier for three years in a row.

In 2018, Russia exported the equivalent of 1.43 million bpd to China, while Saudi Arabia exported 1.135 million bpd, customs data showed. U.S. shipments are still much smaller but have risen fast, surging 25 percent in 2018 to just under 250,000 bpd, although a trade row made them stall in December.

A change of management in Chinese state-run PetroChina and Sinopec, as well as tougher competition from rival crude suppliers, have made it harder for Aramco to secure deals, such as the Yunnan refining venture, industry sources said.

Aramco signed a memorandum of understanding in 2011 with PetroChina to supply oil to the Yunnan plant. But talks on the deal hit a roadblock in mid-2018, the sources said.

“Yunnan went on for five years and it is dead now,” one of the industry sources said. The deal was undermined by the cost of sending crude by pipeline across Myanmar and because PetroChina was not keen to share its marketing rights with Aramco, the sources said.

Aramco aims to expand refining and petrochemical output in China through long-term contracts and access to retail and marketing rights with other firms. But analysts say its new partners may not offer the same reach as the big, state players.

“Independents have a smaller footprint across the value chain and less experience in trading,” said Michal Meidan of Energy Aspects. “The challenge of partnering with independents is precisely the limits of access to the retail market.”

MARKET SHARE

Sinopec and PetroChina control about two-thirds of retail sales in China, while independents together have about a quarter, industry experts say. The Norinco deal includes a plan to set up a fuel retail business and a marketing venture between Aramco, North Huajin and Liaoning Transportation Construction Investment Group Co. The refining complex is in a region dominated by PetroChina and has one of China’s slowest economic growth rates. But it lies close to North Korea, offering scope in future to expand beyond China, sources familiar with the deal say.

Liaoning Transportation leases fuel stations to PetroChina and Sinopec, so the new venture might still need to buy the Chinese majors out or wait until the leases end, said a Huajin oil executive, who asked not to be named.

Norinco declined to comment.

In Zhejiang, alongside taking a stake in a refining and petrochemical complex, Aramco would utilize an oil storage facility to serve Aramco’s Asian customers and set up a retail network in the province with Zhejiang Energy.

Securing retail rights proved a challenge for Aramco when dealing with state firms.

Zhejiang Energy was not immediately available for comment.

A Zhejiang-based executive, who asked not to be named, said Zhejiang Petrochemical had similar memorandums of understanding for retail cooperation with Western energy firms, suggesting Aramco faced competition in the market.

The executive also said the Chinese partners had yet to pick a site for setting up the storage facility and associated crude terminal.

Zhejiang Petrochemical declined to comment.

(Editing by Edmund Blair)

Source: OANN

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

March 14, 2019

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s food firms, once seen as a rare group of winners in the country’s fight against deflation, are falling out of favor with investors as consumers reject price hikes on many household products.

Food company shares have only added 2.8 percent this year, compared with a 7.5 percent gain in the Topix, which in turn underperformed the world’s many other equity indexes.

(For a graphic on ‘Topix sectors’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2F8BI2A)

Prices of food items including soft drinks, yogurt, ramen noodles and ice cream, will go up from this spring, pushed up by higher labor and transportation costs.

At the same time, the increase in retail prices firms can expect to deliver will be capped by consumer resistance and what economists describe as Japan’s deflationary mindset.

“Even if companies can raise their top lines, they would be struggling to make profits due to rising costs and that’s the main challenge that food makers are facing right now,” said Keita Kubota, senior investment manager at Aberdeen Standard Investment, adding that the earnings from Coca-Cola and Suntory do not bode well for the food industry.

“While there are lots of price hikes planned in 2019, we still don’t know how much these price hikes would lead to profits.”

Indeed, many companies, such as Coca-Cola Bottlers Japan Holdings Inc, Suntory Beverage & Food and potato chips maker Calbee Inc, have warned of falls in profits as the planned price hikes fail to cover rising upstream costs.

Mizuho Securities says the combined operating profit for 20 Japanese food companies for the December quarter fell 5 percent year-on-year.

In January, Coca-Cola Japan said it would raise prices on some of its large bottled beverages in April. This, however, would not help counter the full impact of rising costs and on Feb. 14 it said it expected a 29 percent hit to its 2019 annual profit.

The next day, its share price tumbled 13 percent to a 2-1/2 year low, around where it has been trading since.

(For a graphic on ‘Japan food companies’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2F8nC19)

It’s a similar picture in other parts of the sector with Suntory Beverage to raise its beverage prices in May and forecasting a 17 percent drop in annual net profit. Calbee will raise its potato chips prices in May and has slashed its operating profit outlook by 8.8 percent for the fiscal year through March.

The sector’s market underperformance contrasts with three to four years ago, when investors cheered firms’ food price hikes, buoyed by hopes that monetary and fiscal stimulus would help businesses pass on costs to customers and stoke a virtuous consumption cycle.

Now, however, not even an exemption for food from a planned sales tax hike in October has been able help stocks in the sector.

That’s partly because of still high valuations: food maker shares currently trade at 18.6-times earnings, compared with a multiple of 13 for Topix and 9.8 for the auto sector.

“The government failed to counter falling consumption when they raised sales tax in 2014. Consumer sentiment hasn’t changed since then,” said Hiroyuki Ueno, a senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Asset Management.

“Since valuations have become too expensive, we want to avoid food shares.”

(Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Sam Holmes)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8, on a flight from Miami to New York City, comes in for landing at LaGuardia Airport in New York
FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8, on a flight from Miami to New York City, comes in for landing at LaGuardia Airport in New York, U.S., March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

March 13, 2019

By David Shepardson and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Congress plans to scrutinize why the United States waited so many days to ground all Boeing Co 737 MAX jets involved in Sunday’s crash in Ethiopia as other countries and airlines acted more quickly.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the order on Wednesday was the result of “new evidence collected at the site and analyzed today” and “newly refined satellite data” that Canada had cited earlier in its decision to halt flights.

The FAA did not disclose the new evidence at the scene but said it was “the missing pieces” that aligned the track of the two fatal Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes since October.

For decades, the United States has led the world in aviation safety, often setting standards that were later adopted by other countries. The agency came under heavy criticism from U.S. lawmakers and others who questioned why the FAA waited so long to ground the Boeing 737 MAX.

FAA officials plan to brief lawmakers Thursday, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

While President Donald Trump announced the ban on television, acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell said he made the decision with the support of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

“We were resolute in our position that we would not take action until we had data to support taking action,” Elwell told reporters. “That data coalesced today and we made the call.”

Canada grounded the planes earlier on Wednesday while the European Union acted on Tuesday. China and some airlines ordered the planes not to fly within hours of the crash on Sunday.

As of Wednesday night, regulators in Argentina and Mexico had not grounded planes.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, a Democrat, said “it has become abundantly clear to us that not only should the 737 MAX be grounded but also that there must be a rigorous investigation into why the aircraft, which has critical safety systems that did not exist on prior models, was certified without requiring additional pilot training.”

Elwell said Wednesday he was confident in the 737’s certification.

The Senate Commerce Committee also plans to hold a hearing as early as April. Senator Ted Cruz said he plans “to investigate these crashes, determine their contributing factors, and ensure that the United States aviation industry remains the safest in the world.”

The grounding was an abrupt reversal as the United States had repeatedly insisted the airplane was safe to fly even as regulators and airlines around the world grounded the airplane.

Trump spoke to Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg on Wednesday before the announcement.

United Airlines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines Co all fly versions of the 737 MAX and immediately halted flights on Wednesday.

American, with 24 737 MAX airplanes, said it will be “working to re-book customers as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”

Boeing said it supported the action to temporarily ground 737 max operations after it consulted with the FAA, NTSB and its customers. Boeing shares were down 2 percent.

The shift came less than a day after U.S. regulators had again insisted the plane was safe. Even Chao flew aboard a 737 MAX on Tuesday.

The FAA plans to mandate design changes by April that have been in the works for months for the 737 MAX 8 fleet. Boeing said late Monday it will deploy a software upgrade across the 737 MAX 8 fleet “in the coming weeks.”

The company confirmed it had for several months “been developing a flight control software enhancement for the 737 MAX, designed to make an already safe aircraft even safer.”

The FAA said the changes will “provide reduced reliance on procedures associated with required pilot memory items.”

Elwell said Wednesday he was hopeful software improvements “will be ready in a couple months” after testing and evaluation is completed by the FAA of what he called a “software patch.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson and Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Ginger Gibson; Writing by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Boeing celebrates the 10,000th 737 to come off the production line in Renton
FILE PHOTO: Boeing employees are pictured in front of a 737 MAX 8 produced for Southwest Airlines as Boeing celebrates the 10,000th 737 to come off the production line in Renton, Washington, U.S., March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Redmond/File Photo

March 13, 2019

By Tracy Rucinski

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The three U.S. airlines using Boeing Co’s 737 MAX continued to stand by the aircraft on Tuesday, even as some customers, unions and politicians questioned its safety after an increasing number of countries banned the plane following a deadly crash in Ethiopia.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is one of the only major regulators not to suspend 737 MAX flights after Britain and the European Union joined a wave of other suspensions on Tuesday in the aftermath of two disasters involving the same plane within months.

Southwest Airlines Co, American Airlines Group Inc and United Airlines said they were still confident in their fleets. Southwest and American have both said their fleet data showed the plane was safe.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao flew aboard a Southwest 737 MAX 8 on Tuesday to Washington from Austin, according to two people briefed on the matter. A spokesman for Chao did not immediately comment.

Many potential passengers took to social media to express concerns, asking if they could change their flights and some even asking for cancellation. Southwest Airlines’ Twitter account (@SouthwestAir) was busy with hundreds of customers concerned about the plane.

Andrea Call (@andi_call) tweeted to Southwest that she was traveling with her daughter in May. “I don’t want to be on a Boeing Max 8,” she said. The airline responded that it was focused on safety, adding, “Our fleet of Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft are operating as planned today and we plan to operate those aircraft going forward.” Southwest told Call to contact it 24 hours before her flight to find out what aircraft would be used.

Twitter user Sandy (@nycsandygirl) tweeted that she had called American Airlines to change her flight but was told waivers were unavailable for nonrefundable fares.

“It is well within my right to request a change in aircraft without a change fee when safety concerns have been raised about a particular aircraft. China, Indonesia, Ethiopian Airlines & Cayman Airways have all grounded these aircraft so obviously there is a concern,” the Twitter user posted.

Unions that represent American Airlines’ flight attendants and mechanics urged American Airlines Chief Executive Doug Parker to consider grounding the planes pending a thorough investigation. Flight attendants said their contract allows them not to work if they feel unsafe.

A separate union representing United Airlines flight attendants also urged the FAA to ground the jets and conduct an investigation into the 737 MAX.

Pilot unions so far have not joined such requests.

A pilot union, United Master Executive Council, said it has analyzed thousands of safety data points in its 737 MAX 9 operation since May and did not find any performance or mechanical deficiencies.

U.S. Senators Mitt Romney and Elizabeth Warren were the latest politicians to call for the FAA to act. Warren is running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Senator Richard Blumenthal wrote letters to Parker and the chief executives of Southwest and United urging them to voluntarily ground their 737 MAX aircraft, which includes the MAX 9 as well as the MAX 8.

The FAA and Boeing have said the planes are safe to fly.

With 34 737 MAX 8 jets, Southwest is the largest operator of the aircraft, which it said produces thousands of data points during each flight that are constantly monitored.

“To date, we have operated more than 41,000 flights and have corresponding aircraft data that indicates the effectiveness of our operating standards, procedures, and training,” spokeswoman Michelle Agnew said in a statement.

Southwest’s pilot association said on Tuesday it supported the airline’s decision to continue to fly the aircraft, as well as the FAA’s findings to date.

WAITING FOR BLACK BOXES

American Airlines said Tuesday the company continues to “believe the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft is safe and that our pilots are well-trained and well-equipped to operate it.”

The airline is waiting for findings from the black boxes from Ethiopian Airlines that “will provide a better understanding of the cause of this recent accident.” The airline has said extensive flight data collected from its fleet gave it confidence in the safe operation of all its aircraft, including the 737 MAX 8.

American, with 24 MAX 8 planes, said it has been sharing its data with the FAA, in coordination with the Allied Pilots Association, a union that represents American’s pilots.

United Airlines, which does not fly the MAX 8 but operates another model in the series, the MAX 9, also reiterated its confidence in its pilots’ “ability to fly the aircraft safely.”

“(…) we continue to believe the planes will be found to be safe and the impact on Boeing’s long term operations, backlog, book of business and order flow will prove to be limited,” said Jim Corridore, an analyst at investment research firm CFRA who kept his “strong buy” opinion on Boeing.

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; additional reporting by Angela Moon in New York, David Shepardson in Washington and Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A charging port is seen on a Mercedes Benz EQC 400 4Matic electric vehicle at the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto
FILE PHOTO: A charging port is seen on a Mercedes Benz EQC 400 4Matic electric vehicle at the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, February 13, 2019. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

March 12, 2019

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Electric vehicle demand is likely to drop if the United States eliminates a tax credit worth up to $7,500 as President Donald Trump has proposed, a senior U.S. Transportation Department official said on Tuesday.

The White House said on Monday that nixing the credit, which phases out after companies hit 200,000 vehicles sold, could save taxpayers $2.5 billion over the next decade. Automakers have pushed for the credit to be extended.

“As you take away some of these incentives, demand will likely come down a bit,” Derek Kan, the Transportation Department’s under secretary of transportation for policy and a former Lyft Inc executive, said at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston. “When you take away a tax credit, we know from basic economics demand will likely fall because the price is a little high.”

(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by David Gregorio)

Source: OANN

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) walks to his office on the opening day of the 116th Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington
FILE PHOTO – Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) walks to his office on the opening day of the 116th Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. January 3, 2019. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

March 12, 2019

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. senators Mitt Romney and Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday called on the Federal Aviation Administration to follow several other countries and temporarily ground Boeing Co’s 737 MAX 8, days after a crash in Ethiopia killed everyone onboard one of the planes.

“Out of an abundance of caution for the flying public, the (FAA) should ground the 737 MAX 8 until we investigate the causes of recent crashes and ensure the plane’s airworthiness,” Romney said in a tweet.

The move came as the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and numerous countries including Britain, China, Australia, Germany, France and Singapore have grounded the aircraft.

Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, said the FAA should “immediately ground this plane in the United States until its safety can be assured.”

She also called on Congress to review the decision. “The Boeing 737 MAX 8 is a major driver of Boeing profits. In the coming weeks and months, Congress should hold hearings on whether an administration that famously refused to stand up to Saudi Arabia to protect Boeing arms sales has once again put lives at risk for the same reason,” Warren said in a statement released by her presidential campaign.

Romney, who was the Republican Party’s nominee for president in 2012, joined similar calls from senators Richard Blumenthal and Dianne Feinstein, who are Democrats.

The FAA declined to comment on the senators’ statements.

Regulators around the world and a growing number of airlines are grounding the 737 MAX 8 in the wake of two fatal crashes in five months.

Sara Nelson, who heads the Association of Flight Attendants union, on Tuesday urged the FAA to temporarily ground the 737 MAX fleet, as did Consumer Reports, an influential U.S. magazine.

“This is about public confidence in the safety of air travel,” said Nelson.

Boeing in a statement on Tuesday did not directly address the senators’ comments but said it has “full confidence in the safety of the MAX” and noted the FAA has not mandated “any further action at this time.”

Boeing added it understands “regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets.”

The FAA told international carriers on Monday there was no need to ground the plane but it would mandate a software upgrade and training changes by April. Boeing confirmed late on Monday that it will roll out those changes in the coming weeks.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told reporters on Monday that regulators would not hesitate to act if they find a safety issue.

“If the FAA identifies an issue that affects safety, the department will take immediate and appropriate action,” Chao said. “I want people to be assured that we take these incidents, these accidents very seriously.”

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been briefed on the Ethiopian Airlines crash according to administration officials, on Tuesday tweeted that “Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT.”

He added “complexity creates danger. All of this for great cost yet very little gain. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether Trump was referring to a specific airplane.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News on Tuesday that it was “very early in the process” of deciding whether to ground the 737 MAX 8. She added the White House would be in “constant contact” with the FAA “to make determinations at an appropriate time.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson, Ginger Gibson and Lisa Lambert in Washington; writing by Makini Brice; Editing by David Gregorio and Matthew Lewis)

Source: OANN

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

The Trump administration is done trying to negotiate with California, and will move forward with plans to revoke the state of its authority to set tougher fuel efficiency standards.

“At this point, we have to move to finalize,” Andrew Wheeler, head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), stated in a Monday interview with the Washington Examiner. “We don’t have time to move to reopen [negotiations]. We tried to work with California, but we were just not able to. In California, politics was playing the bigger hand than the policy.”

The EPA will introduce its final proposal sometime this spring that strips a waiver California and other states have long used to set tougher vehicle emission standards than the federal government, forcing every state in the U.S. to comply with the same rules.

The move to revoke California of its waiver comes as the Trump administration is also looking to freeze Obama-era efficiency rules meant to cut carbon emissions from the transportation industry. The EPA, along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is finalizing a proposal to freeze vehicle efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, in lieu of raising them annually.

The White House argues the Obama-era rules render new cars too expensive, and would prompt consumers to rely on older models that are less safe and not as environmentally friendly.

The Trump administration in August first proposed freeing fuel economy standards at 37 miles per gallon in 2020. The EPA and Department of Transportation estimated that the freeze would save $500 billion in societal costs and prevent around 1,000 traffic fatalities a year.

EPA Acting Administrator Wheeler waits to address staff at EPA headquarters in Washington

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler waits to address EPA staff at EPA headquarters in Washington, U.S., July 11, 2018. REUTERS/Ting Shen – HP1EE7B1HD42O

However, that proposal initiated a fight between the White House and California, which has enjoyed authority to set tougher standards than the federal government. California officials and the Trump administration attempted to reach a compromise, but negotiations ended on February 21. (RELATED: California Governor Declares There’s No ‘National Emergency’ In Border Town With A Wall)

“California didn’t really give us a legitimate counteroffer,” Wheeler continued. “They promised it after a couple weeks of our proposal, and we waited over 12 weeks before we got an answer. The answer we got really isn’t credible.”

Follow Jason 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: A Junkers Ju-52 airplane of JU-AIR airline takes-off from the airport in Duebendorf
FILE PHOTO: A Junkers Ju-52 airplane of JU-AIR airline takes-off from the airport in Duebendorf, Switzerland August 17, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

March 12, 2019

ZURICH (Reuters) – Switzerland is withdrawing a tourist airline’s commercial license to carry paying passengers in its vintage planes after a crash in the Swiss Alps last year killed 20 people, the country’s government said on Tuesday.

Seventeen Swiss and three Austrians were aboard a trimotor Junker JU-52 aircraft, built in the 1930s as a military aircraft and later used by a Swiss tour operator for scenic flights, when it crashed on Aug. 5.

“Following the accident in the summer of 2018, Federal Office for Civil Aviation (BAZL) re-evaluated the risks of passenger flights with classic planes and came to the conclusion that commercial operation with historic aircraft no longer meets today’s safety requirements,” the Swiss government said.

The agency said results from an ongoing investigation of the Ju-52’s crash last year supported its decision, adding that European laws governing historic planes are due to be changed in mid-2019 to forbid commercial operations.

Private flights by members of the Duebendorf, Switzerland-based Ju-Air, the 37-year-old organization which owns the planes, could eventually be allowed under the rules, BAZL said.

For now, however, Ju-Air’s three Ju-52 aircraft will remain indefinitely grounded until the group carries out technical measures required by the Swiss civil aviation agency to ensure airworthiness.

Ju-Air officials, based at a former Swiss military airfield near Zurich, declined to comment. A press release will be issued later on Tuesday, a spokeswoman said.

Ju-Air’s remaining planes have been banned from flying since November, when the Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board (STSIB) found signs of corrosion on the plane that had crashed, among other shortcomings.

The issues were not the accident’s cause, the safety board said at the time, adding that no technical reason has been determined in its ongoing probe that led to the plane slamming into the ground in the mountain canton of Grisons.

(Reporting by John Miller, editing by Ed Osmond)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Boeing celebrates the 10,000th 737 to come off the production line in Renton
FILE PHOTO: Boeing employees are pictured in front of a 737 MAX 8 produced for Southwest Airlines as Boeing celebrates the 10,000th 737 to come off the production line in Renton, Washington, U.S., March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Redmond

March 11, 2019

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States told international carriers on Monday that the Boeing 737 MAX 8 is airworthy as regulators scrutinize two fatal crashes of the new model of aircraft since October, but said it will mandate forthcoming “design changes” from Boeing by April.

An Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 bound for Nairobi crashed minutes after take-off on Sunday, killing all 157 aboard and raising questions about the safety of the new variant of the industry workhorse, one of which also crashed in Indonesia in October, killing 189 people.

In a notice, the Federal Aviation Administration said it planned to require design changes by Boeing no later than April. Boeing is working to complete “flight control system enhancements, which provide reduced reliance on procedures associated with required pilot memory items,” the FAA said.

The FAA also said Boeing “plans to update training requirements and flight crew manuals to go with the design change” to an automated protection system called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System or MCAS. The changes also include MCAS activation and angle of attack signal enhancements.

The FAA said in the notice made public that external reports are drawing similarities between the crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia. “However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions,” according to the Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community for Boeing 737 MAX 8 operators.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told reporters regulators would not hesitate to act if they find a safety issue.

“If the FAA identifies an issue that affects safety, the department will take immediate and appropriate action,” Chao told reporters. “I want people to be assured that we take these incidents, these accidents very seriously.”

Boeing Co’s top executive told employees on Monday he was confident in the safety of the U.S. manufacturer’s top-selling 737 MAX aircraft.

Reuters and other media outlets have reported that Boeing has for months planned design changes after the Lion Air crash in Indonesia but the FAA notice is the first public confirmation.

Canada’s transport minister also said he will not hesitate to act once the cause of the crash is known.

FAA chief Dan Elwell on Monday said the notification basically “informs the international community where we are and (gives) sort of … one answer to the whole community.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, and Paul Hudson, the president of FlyersRights.org and a member of the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee, on Monday both said the plane should be grounded.

“The FAA’s ‘wait and see’ attitude risks lives as well as the safety reputation of the U.S. aviation industry,” Hudson said in a statement.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA are both at the crash site in Ethiopia, Chao said.

Boeing’s shares fell as much as 10 percent on the prospect that two such crashes in such a short time could reveal flaws in its new plane. Boeing, whose shares closed down 5.3 percent at $400.01 in the heaviest trading trade since July 2013, did not immediately comment Monday on the FAA notification, but said it was sending a team to Ethiopia to aid investigators.

The 737 line, which has flown for more than 50 years, is the world’s best-selling modern passenger aircraft and viewed as one of the industry’s most reliable.

China ordered its airlines to ground the jet, a move followed by Indonesia and Ethiopia. Other airlines, from North America to the Middle East, kept flying the 737 MAX 8 on Monday after Boeing said it was safe.

Boeing’s 737 MAX is the newest version of a jet that has been a fixture of passenger travel for decades and the cash cow of the world’s largest aircraft maker, competing against Airbus SE’s A320neo family of single-aisle jetliners. The 737 family is considered one of the industry’s most reliable aircraft.

The MAX has a bigger and more efficient engine compared to earlier 737 models.

Boeing rolled out the fuel-efficient MAX 8 in 2017 as an update to the already redesigned 50-year-old 737, and had delivered 350 MAX jets out of the total order tally of 5,011 aircraft by the end of January.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Additional reporting by Allison Lampert Editing by Lisa Shumaker and James Dalgleish)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao speaks at the Concordia Summit in Manhattan, New York
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao speaks at the Concordia Summit in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

March 11, 2019

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House on Monday said it wanted Congress to approve legislation to boost U.S. infrastructure by at least $1 trillion, with a “tight time frame” to agree a bill to fund repairs of roads, bridges, airports and other projects.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said on a call with reporters on Monday that the U.S. House of Representatives needs to take action by August, given the looming presidential election in 2020 and the busy calendar.

“This infrastructure bill has to be passed around August so we are looking at a very, very tight time frame,” Chao said.

The White House has not yet introduced legislation on infrastructure this year but issued a fact sheet on Monday detailing some of its principles. Democrats, who control the House, are expected to propose their own legislative plan in May.

Experts say the United States badly needs to invest significant sums in its congested airports, aging energy infrastructure and crumbling roads.

However, Chao said it was not clear from where the administration of President Donald Trump would find the entire proposed $1 trillion earmarked for improvements. “I don’t know yet if it will be fully federal funded. Everything is on the table,” she said.

The administration’s February 2018 plan to use $200 billion in public funds to spur a projected $1.5 trillion in projects largely financed by the private sector was “not successful,” Chao acknowledged. That proposal never got a vote in Congress.

“We had hoped that there’d be a greater acceptance of the private sector coming in to help finance public infrastructure,” Chao said. “Unfortunately, there seems to be a great deal of mistrust of the private sector.”

Congress also must address shortfalls in a highway trust fund, intended to help fund highway projects, before the current funding mechanism expires in September 2020, Chao said. “It may be easier if we merge the two efforts,” she said. Congress has added more than $140 billion to highway repairs to make up for a lack of gasoline tax revenue.

As presidential candidate in 2016, Trump pledged to spend big on infrastructure. Chao said the administration wanted to work on a “bipartisan basis.”

Representative Peter DeFazio, a Democrat who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, called the proposal “highly disappointing” and said it was a recycling of last year’s rejected plan.

The fact sheet did not specify the period over which the administration wants at least $1 trillion but it covers at least 10 years, officials said.

Of the $200 billion in federal funds, $10 billion would be allocated to establish a federal capital revolving fund for investment in buildings and other property. Officials would work with Congress to allocate the “remaining amount toward sectors and projects that address the most important needs.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Customers look at the prices at a supermarket in Rio de Janeiro
FILE PHOTO: Customers look at the prices at a supermarket in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil July 28, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

March 11, 2019

By Jamie McGeever

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Consumer prices in Brazil likely inched higher in February for the second month in a row, according to a Reuters poll of economists, but still ran comfortably below the central bank’s 2019 inflation target of 4.25 percent.

The median forecast in a survey of 19 economists points to consumer prices rising at an annual rate of 3.85 percent in February, up from 3.78 percent the month before, the poll shows. Estimates ranged between 3.77 percent and 3.90 percent.

“If our forecast proves right, then 12-month inflation in February … will still be running below the central bank’s 2019 target,” economists at Citi wrote in a note to clients.

The median estimate from 18 forecasts shows that the monthly rate of increase in consumer prices will be 0.39 percent, up from 0.32 percent in January and the highest since October last year.

The range of these forecasts is 0.31 percent to 0.42 percent.

Economists say seasonal factors pushed the price of foodstuffs higher in February, with tuition fees and other education costs the biggest driver behind the overall rise.

The biggest drag on inflation was transportation costs, which were kept in check by cheaper air travel and fuel, economists say.

If the poll is accurate, it will be the first time since the middle of last year that annual inflation has risen two months in a row and monthly inflation has accelerated three straight months.

However, the magnitude of these increases is small and should present little immediate threat to policymakers’ 4.25 percent inflation target for 2019 or the broad market consensus that interest rates will remain on hold at a record low 6.50 percent for the rest of the year.

New central bank chief Roberto Campos Neto has indicated that monetary policy under his aegis will not deviate from that of his predecessor, Ilan Goldfajn. At his Senate confirmation hearing last month he even repeated the bank’s recent mantra that rate decisions will be based on “caution, serenity and perseverance.”

Recent policy meeting minutes and statements show that rate-setters think inflation risks are moderating, but still believe upside risks are “significant.” The balance of risks in the coming months, therefore, remains “asymmetric” to rising prices, they warn.

Financial markets are more sanguine. Interest rate futures show the central bank’s key Selic rate remaining unchanged at 6.50 percent through January next year. If there is a slight bias, it is to rates being cut.

(Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

Source: OANN

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

Former Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich said that while the Green New Deal might not be the right answer to global warming, “it’s asking the right question.”

“But for all those problems, the Green New Deal is serving an important purpose by provoking a more vigorous level of public debate,” Kasich wrote in a USA Today op-ed published Monday. “We’ve finally reached a tipping point.”

The Green New Deal, introduced by Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey in February, calls for sweeping changes that achieve “net-zero” emissions in 10 years.

Some Democratic 2020 hopefuls endorse the bill, but many moderate Democrats are hesitant to embrace it on worries it’s not feasible to fundamentally transform society so quickly. Republicans oppose the bill’s massive government takeover of the economy.

Kasich, who’s mulling a 2020 presidential run against President Donald Trump, wants moderates in both parties to come up with an alternative to the Green New Deal.

“It’s time for free-market moderates on both sides of the aisle to come up with answers of their own,” Kasich wrote in his op-ed, embracing carbon pricing, fuel economy mandates and subsidies for electric vehicles. (RELATED: Democrats, Including Ocasio-Cortez, Vote Against Green New Deal Amendment)

Republican U.S. presidental candidate Governor John Kasich celebrates his win in the Ohio primary election next to his daughter Rees during a campaign rally in Berea

Republican U.S. presidental candidate Governor John Kasich celebrates his win in the Ohio primary election next to his daughter Rees during a campaign rally in Berea, Ohio, March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk.

Kasich’s op-ed comes after the former governor gave a climate change talk in Canada. In an interview given before the speech, Kasich said he backed a carbon tax or cap-and-trade program, and claimed he’s bought a Tesla with taxpayer subsidies.

“It’s time for free-market moderates on both sides of the aisle to come up with answers of their own,” Kasich wrote.

“They can start with a carbon tax or a cap and trade program, which is a market-based trading system to incentivize carbon reduction,” Kasich wrote. “We also need to continue research supporting Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, the automotive fuel-efficiency requirements that have significantly reduced greenhouse gas pollution in recent years.”

“It’s also important to continue subsidies for electric vehicles, clean-energy transportation that might not exist if fuel-efficiency mandates hadn’t spurred innovators to explore alternatives,” Kasich wrote. “Related to that, we need more research in battery technology, and not just for electric vehicles.”

Kasich called for spending “a lot of money, not a measly few pennies” on research that will “drive advances in energy derived from renewables — solar and wind — as well as natural gas” as well as “nuclear energy, using small-scale modular technologies now being developed.”

Kasich said in November he was “very seriously” considering a presidential run in 2020, though he has not made an announcement on the matter yet. Kasich lost the 2016 presidential primary to Trump, only winning the Ohio GOP primary race.

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An TEPCO employee gives lectures at tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture
FILE PHOTO: An employee of Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) wearing protective suit and mask gives lectures in front of No.3 reactor building at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato

March 8, 2019

OXFORD, England (Reuters) – Eight years after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan, radioactive particles collected from the site are undergoing new forensic investigation in Britain in an effort to understand the exact sequence of events.

A 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck on March 11, 2011, off the Japanese coast, triggering a tsunami that killed some 18,000 people and the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. Meltdowns at three of the Fukushima Daiichi plant’s six reactors spewed radiation into the air, soil and ocean, forcing over 100,000 residents to flee. Many have still not returned.

The Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) is currently collaborating with British researchers to learn more about the state of the radioactive particles created by the meltdown.

Dr Yukihiko Satou from the JAEA oversaw the transportation of particles collected from within the restricted zone, very close to the disaster site, to Britain.

“The particles were fundamentally extracted from those attached to soil, dust and debris,” Satou told Reuters.

Encased in protective tape, the samples were brought to the Diamond Light Source, Britain’s national synchrotron, or cyclic particle accelerator, near Oxford.

Here electrons are accelerated to near light speeds until they emit light 10 billion times brighter than the sun, then directed into laboratories in ‘beamlines’ which allow scientists to study minute specimens in extreme detail.

Researchers have created a 3D map of a radioactive sample using the synchrotron, allowing them to see the distribution of elements within the sample.

Understanding the current state of these particles and how they behave in the environment could ultimately determine if and when the area could be declared safe for people to return.

The head of the team leading the analysis, Tom Scott of Bristol University, said the particles have a structure like a pumice, a very light, porous volcanic rock.

“Studying… this glassy matrix tells us how available within the environment they are,” he said.

The British and Japanese governments have awarded funding to the research team to examine larger particles closer to the site of the meltdown at Fukushima to better define radiation risk in the surrounding area.

The research could have significance beyond nuclear accidents, the team said, because the techniques employed could also be used to image particles in air pollution to better understand the risk they pose to human health.

(Writing by Matthew Stock,; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Source: OANN


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