U.S.

FILE PHOTO: Levi Strauss & Co. CEO Chip Bergh and CFO Harmit Singh ring bell during IPO on floor of New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York
FILE PHOTO: Levi Strauss & Co. CEO Chip Bergh rings a bell as CFO Harmit Singh looks on during the company’s IPO on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

March 21, 2019

By David Randall

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Levi Strauss & Co’s is betting it can convince investors there is still plenty of global growth left for the 165-year old company, but fund managers fret the iconic blue jeans maker’s stock may be too pricey to generate a decent return.

The San Francisco-based company returned to the public markets Thursday for the first time since it went private through a leveraged buyout in 1985 with a stock debut that sold $587 million worth of shares and gave it a market value of more than $8.7 billion .

In its prospectus, Levi’s said it plans to expand its women’s clothing line and grow in markets such as China, which represented just 3 percent of its net sales in 2018. Levi’s shares jumped more than 30 percent, which has mutual fund managers questioning whether a long-term investment in the denim company would be profitable.

“It’s a mature company that already has broad distribution and its customer base is shrinking because department stores are shrinking,” said Chris Terry, a portfolio manager at Dallas-based Hodges Capital Management.

Unlike companies like Under Armour Inc, whose shares are up nearly 22 percent year-to-date, Levi’s does not “have a ton of room to expand the brand” because it is already so well-known, Terry said.

The newly-public company would also face increased competition for fund managers’ attention if VF Corp spins off Western jeans brand Wrangler’s, as expected in the first half of 2019. Wrangler’s also sells apparel, including cowboy hats, shirts, and jackets.

“With Wrangler, you get Western wear, which is probably a larger secular growth opportunity” than denim alone and has only one other major competitor in Boot Barn Holdings Inc, Terry said. Year-to-date, shares of Boot Barn are up more than 56 percent.

Robert Bacarella, portfolio manager of the Monetta Fund, said concerns over Levi’s expansion plans outweigh the attractiveness of its brand name at its current price.

“We’re all sitting around here asking, ‘Where’s the growth?’” he said. “If they can come out with a plan to show that they can grow market share and not be as dependent on retail stores then it becomes a lot more interesting.”

With its long history, the company comes to the public markets at a time when the most anticipated initial public offerings are technology companies tied to the growth of the smartphone.

The average age of companies that have debuted so far in 2019 is four years, according to Kathleen Smith, principal at Renaissance Capital.

Fellow Bay Area companies Lyft, Uber Technologies Inc, AirBnb Inc and Pinterest, which are all expected to go public this year, have all been founded in the last 11 years.

Concerns about Levi’s growth rate would have been alleviated if its shares had remained near the $15 initial midpoint of the IPO pricing, or roughly seven and a half times its earnings before interest, taxes, and amortization, said Arun Daniel, a portfolio manager at J O Hambro Capital Management.

“They could see double-digit growth in the women’s category by taking share from competitors like Guess, which would be interesting because then you’re getting both the brand and growth and it becomes an attractive story for 3 to 5 years,” Daniel said. “But it all comes down to price.”

(Reporting by David Randall; Editing by Jennifer Ablan and Nick Carey)

Source: OANN

Inside view of a greenhouse at the botanical garden
Inside view of a greenhouse at the botanical garden “Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil” in Paris, France, March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

March 21, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – French Open organizers on Thursday unveiled the brand new Court Simonne Mathieu, hoping the 5,000-seat arena will boost the tournament’s atmosphere as they raised the prize money by more than eight percent.

Named after France’s second-most decorated female player, the arena is nestled among the area’s graceful 19-century greenhouses.

The prize money has been raised from 39.2 million euros ($44.48 million) up to 42.6 million, with the singles’ winners each earning a cheque of 2.3 million euros.

Tournament director Guy Forget doesn’t yet know which players will be the first to step onto the brand new court when the French Open starts on May 26, but he is certain the arena will be worthy of the occasion.

“Wimbledon, the U.S. and Australian Open spread out, they have facilities that are more modern, more comfortable, we were a bit lagging behind,” Forget said.

“Thanks to this court and the stadium that has been growing in size, we will be able to welcome all the fans in perfect conditions.”

Concern for the greenhouses was at the heart of the fierce opposition the French Tennis Federation faced when it announced the revamp, because the plan involved expanding the venue into the picturesque Serres d’Auteuil.

The famed botanical garden is home to 6,000 square meters of greenhouses built in 1898 and contain works by the sculptor Auguste Rodin, and the Roland Garros expansion has added more than 1,300 sqm of greenhouses to the existing ones.

The center court, Court Philippe Chatrier, has been partially restored before being equipped with a retractable roof for the 2020 edition.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

Source: OANN

The Lyft Driver Hub is seen in Los Angeles
The Lyft Driver Hub is seen in Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

March 21, 2019

By Joshua Franklin and Ross Kerber

NEW YORK/BOSTON (Reuters) – Union pension fund adviser CtW Investment Group said on Thursday Lyft Inc “faces an all-but-insurmountable barrier” to profitability due to issues with the ride-hailing company’s pricing strategy and new regulations driving costs higher.

The comments come four days into the roadshow for Lyft’s much-anticipated initial public offering (IPO), in which it is seeking to raise around $2 billion at a valuation of up to $23 billion.

Investor demand has been strong so far, with the IPO book oversubscribing after just two days, making it more likely that Lyft will hit or even exceed its valuation target, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

This is despite Lyft not having yet turned a profit, reporting a loss of $911 million in 2018, wider than its $688 million loss in 2017.

In a letter to potential investors in the IPO, CtW argued Lyft can only become profitable by reducing the share of revenue received by its drivers. CtW said Lyft’s larger rival Uber Technologies Inc pursued this strategy.

“Over the past three years, Lyft has mimicked Uber’s pay compression strategy, and IPO investors face the risk that the far smaller company will not be capable of sustaining low pay any longer than the market leader could,” CtW Research Director Richard Clayton wrote in the letter.

CtW said challenges for Lyft would also come from local politicians, including a move by New York City to set a minimum wage for drivers.

CtW works with union pension funds affiliated with Change to Win and which it says collectively manage $250 billion in assets.

Asked why CtW was commenting on Lyft ahead of the IPO, Clayton said in an emailed statement the group wants to make sure decision makers managing workers’ retirement savings take a careful look at Lyft before deciding whether to buy into the IPO. CtW also represents drivers unions which could be affected by the rise of ride-hailing services.

A spokesman for Lyft declined to comment.

In meetings with investors this week, Lyft executives said the company would be profitable much sooner were it not for investments in areas such as its scooter business, Reuters has reported. Lyft executives also said they expect the costs of processing transactions to come down.

Lyft is scheduled to price its IPO on March 28 and begin trading on the Nasdaq the following day.

(Reporting by Joshua Franklin in New York and Ross Kerber in Boston; Editing by Susan Thomas)

Source: OANN

President Donald Trump said Thursday that it's time for the United States to recognize Israel's control over the disputed Golan Heights, an announcement that signals a shift in U.S. policy and comes ahead of the Israeli prime minister's planned visit next week to the White House.

The administration has been considering recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the Golan, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967. Last week, in its annual human rights report, the State Department dropped the phrase "Israeli-occupied" from the Golan Heights section, instead calling it "Israeli-controlled."

"After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!" Trump tweeted.

Minutes later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted his appreciation. "At a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel, President Trump boldly recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Thank you President Trump!"

In addition to its policies toward the Palestinians, the U.S. has taken a hard line toward Iran, much to Netanyahu's delight.

Trump's announcement came as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Jerusalem, lauding warm ties with Israel and promising to step up pressure on Iran. Pompeo's words gave a public boost to the Israeli leader at the height of a tight re-election campaign. Netanyahu is to be in Washington for two days next week — two weeks before Israel's April 9 ballot.

Standing together in Jerusalem Thursday, neither Netanyahu nor Pompeo mentioned the heated Israeli election campaign. But Netanyahu, facing a tough challenge from a popular former military chief and reeling from a series of corruption allegations, has repeatedly sought to focus attention on his foreign policy record and strong ties with Trump.

Pompeo has said his trip has nothing to do with politics.

Netanyahu thanked Pompeo for the Trump administration's strong stance against Iran, which Israel regards as an existential threat.

Netanyahu has accused Iran of attempting to set up a terrorist network to target Israel from the Golan Heights, using the incident to repeat his goal of international recognition for Israel's claim on the area.

"You could imagine what would have happened if Israel were not in the Golan," he said. "You would have Iran on the shores of the Sea of Galilee."

Pompeo paid a solemn visit Thursday to Jerusalem's Western Wall along with Netanyahu in an apparent sign of support for Israel's control of the contested city.

Pompeo is the highest-ranking American official to tour the holy site with any Israeli leader. His visit was likely to further infuriate the Palestinians, who already have severed ties with the U.S. over its Jerusalem policies.

Pompeo and Netanyahu prayed at the wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, before depositing written prayers in its crevices and then touring nearby tunnels and synagogue. Neither made any public comment at the site.

The secretary said he thought it was important to visit the wall with the Israeli leader as a show of support for Israel.

"I think it's symbolic that a senior American official go there with a prime minister of Israel," he said before making the trip. "It's a place that's important to many faiths and I'm looking forward to it. I think it will be very special."

Israel captured east Jerusalem and the Old City in the 1967 Mideast war, and for decades, U.S. officials refrained from visiting the Western Wall with Israeli leaders to avoid the appearance of recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the city's most sensitive holy sites. The Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

But the Trump administration has upended the longstanding policy, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem last year after recognizing the city as Israel's capital. Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its eternal and indivisible capital.

Senior U.S. officials, including Trump and numerous predecessors, have visited the wall privately in the past, but never with an Israeli leader.

The Old City is home to Jerusalem's most sensitive holy sites, including the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where tradition says Jesus was entombed and resurrected. Pompeo, a devout Christian, also stopped at the church.

Next to the Western Wall is a hilltop compound revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The spot, which once housed the biblical Temples, is the holiest site in Judaism and today is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam.

The competing claims to the site are a frequent source of tension and lie at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

When Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, he said it did not determine the city's final borders. But the gesture was perceived as unfairly siding with Israel and prompted the Palestinians to sever ties with the U.S. The Palestinians already have rejected a planned Mideast peace initiative by the administration.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said Pompeo's visit added additional obstacles to peace hopes. "While they are claiming to be trying to solve the conflict, such acts only make it more difficult to resolve," he said.

While previous secretaries of state have traditionally met with the Palestinians when visiting the region, Pompeo has no such talks planned.

"The Israelis and Palestinians live side-by-side. We need to help them figure out how to do that," Pompeo said. "It's a fact, and this administration wishes well for the Palestinian people."

In addition to the Jerusalem recognition, the administration also has cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians, helping fuel a financial crisis for Abbas' Palestinian Authority.

At a meeting with Pompeo, Israel's President Reuven Rivlin expressed his deep concern about the Palestinians, both in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and under the internationally backed Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

"If the Palestinian Authority will collapse, we will have to take care about what is going on,"

Source: NewsMax

FILE PHOTO: China's President Xi Jinping visits Portugal
FILE PHOTO: China’s President Xi Jinping attends a meeting with Portugal’s Parliamentary President Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues at the Parliament in Lisbon, Portugal, December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Pedro Nunes

March 21, 2019

ROME (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Rome on Thursday at the start of a three-day visit during which he will sign an accord drawing Italy into his giant “Belt and Road” infrastructure plan despite U.S. opposition.

Italy, seeking a welter of new export deals to boost its stalled economy, will become the first Group of Seven major industrialized nation to join the multi-billion-dollar project which is designed to improve Beijing’s global trade reach.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Alison Williams)

Source: OANN

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

March 21, 2019

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Democratic head of a U.S. congressional investigative panel on Thursday pressed the White House for information on whether President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, used the unofficial WhatsApp messaging tool to communicate sensitive or classified information with foreign leaders.

U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings made the request in a letter to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, which was seen by Reuters.

In the letter, Cummings noted that Kushner’s lawyer had told Congress in December that Kushner used WhatsApp as part of his official duties but did not say whether such messages included classified information.

The congressman also said the lawyer told his committee that Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and Kushner’s wife, continued to receive emails related to official business on a personal email account.

Cummings said in his letter that a law governing presidential records prohibits top White House officials, including the president and vice president, from using non-official electronic messaging accounts.

Cummings said that when it was under Republican control in March 2017, his committee started investigating whether White House officials were using personal email and messaging accounts to conduct official business.

He said that Trump’s White House had so far failed to provide documents and information and was “obstructing” his committee’s efforts to investigate possible violations of White House policy and the presidential records law.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

A sign advertises homes for sale in a new housing development in Dickinson
FILE PHOTO: A sign advertises homes for sale in a new housing development in Dickinson, North Dakota January 21, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen

March 21, 2019

By Jason Lange

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve’s decisive statement this week that interest rates are unlikely to rise this year sends a signal to U.S. households: keep buying stuff.

The Fed tries to guide the U.S. economy by controlling the interest rate banks charge one another for overnight loans. Moving this rate up lifts other rates in the economy, making it costlier for people to use their credit cards or to buy homes and cars. Higher rates also make companies rethink investments.

A solid majority of Fed policymakers on Wednesday said higher rates are unlikely this year, leading investors to bet the economy might slowing enough for the Fed to actually cut rates.

The following are some possible consequences for American households:

EASY CREDIT

The Fed’s signal on its interest rate outlook led key market rates to fall, including the yield on 10-year Treasury bonds. That is a sign that rates are also falling for loans used to buy houses and cars. Interest rates for credit cards may also drift lower. Mortgage rates have been falling since November when Fed policymakers made clear they would be patient about rate decisions.

GRAPHIC-Falling mortgage rates: https://tmsnrt.rs/2UOhJvq

SAVING DISCOURAGED

Lower rates also encourage spending by taking the shine off some common ways to save money. Low yields reduce the return on money in savings accounts as well as in funds made up of safe-haven government bonds. This poses a problem for retirees who depend more on their income from savings and who take a hit from lower rates on Treasury bonds. The Fed has argued that retirees benefit from actions taken to support the broader economy.

GRAPHIC-Weak returns on deposits: https://tmsnrt.rs/2HwPA9n

RETIREMENT BOOST

Rising stock prices comprise the flip side of lower bond yields. That boosts the value of private retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s, particularly those of young people whose accounts tend to be weighted toward stocks.

The benchmark S&P 500 stock index surged after the Fed’s decision, reflecting the view that cheaper borrowing costs would help company profits. It is possible that stock market gains could boost consumer spending because people sometimes loosen their purse strings after a rise in perceived wealth.

GRAPHIC-Rate pressure: https://tmsnrt.rs/2UNxaEj

BUOYANT LABOR MARKET

The U.S. jobless rate is near its lowest level in 50 years although lately there have been signs of softening in the labor market. Hiring slowed sharply in February and the number of new jobless claims every week has also been ticking higher. The Fed’s action aims to keep the labor market solid. That could help encourage more people to rekindle job searches they had given up when the economy was still weak following the 2007-09 financial crisis.

GRAPHIC-U.S. employment picture: https://tmsnrt.rs/2HAXkad

(Reporting by Jason Lange, editing by G Crosse)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Lighthizer testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer testifies at a House Ways and Means Committee on U.S.-China trade in Washington U.S., February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

March 21, 2019

By Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s plans for trade negotiations with the United States fall far short of what is required and any idea of delaying formal talks would not work, the U.S. ambassador to the EU said on Thursday.

The European Commission, which negotiates trade deals on behalf of the 28 EU countries, has presented two negotiating mandates to governments for approval, one on reducing tariffs on industrial goods, the other on making it easier for companies to clear their products for sale on both sides of the Atlantic.

“The mandate that is being circulated falls far short of what even (Commission) President Juncker and President Trump discussed in July in Washington. The idea was to have a wide-ranging conversation about all aspects of our relationship,” Gordon Sondland told an AmCham business conference in Brussels.

The EU and the United States ended months of standoff in July when President Donald Trump agreed with Jean-Claude Juncker not to hit EU car imports with extra tariffs while the two sides worked on improving economic ties.

EU governments have failed so far to agree on launching formal trade talks, Germany pressing for a quick start, and France bidding for more time.

Stalling, said Sondland, would have consequences.

“The more the EU leadership plays the delay game the more we will have to use leverage to realign the relationship,” he said.

Some in Europe, he said, believed they could simply wait for a new U.S. president, but this tactic would not work.

“The (U.S.) Democrats disagree with President Trump on many issues…. but when it comes to fixing our trade imbalance with the EU there is no daylight between (us), none,” he said.

A key part of the July agreement was to remove import duties on “non-auto industrial goods”. The EU has said cars should be included and rejected Washington’s demand that agriculture should feature in talks too.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told Congress last week that discussions were at a “complete stalemate”.

The EU says progress has been made – its two negotiating mandates, discussions of possible regulatory cooperation and the doubling of U.S. soybean imports into Europe since July, although mainly because they are cheaper than rival imports.

Sondland repeated the U.S. line that agriculture had to be part of trade discussions, but acknowledged that the two sides could build up deals piece by piece, as long as they did move though the issues.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Source: OANN

The Comcast NBC logo is shown on a building in Los Angeles, California
FILE PHOTO: The Comcast NBC logo is shown on a building in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

March 21, 2019

(Reuters) – Comcast Corp said Thursday it will launch a new internet streaming video service called Xfinity Flex, as the U.S. cable operator targets TV viewers who prefer watching content online over more expensive cable TV packages.

Xfinity Flex will be available starting March 26 only to Comcast’s internet customers and will cost $5 per month.

(Reporting by Sheila Dang; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Source: OANN

Phil Bryant, governor of Mississippi, speaks during an election night party for Republican U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith in Jackson
FILE PHOTO: Phil Bryant, governor of Mississippi, speaks during an election night party for Republican U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith in Jackson, Mississippi, U.S., November 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

March 21, 2019

(Reuters) – Mississippi’s Republican governor signed one of America’s strictest abortion bills on Thursday banning women from obtaining an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can often occur before a woman even realizes she is pregnant.

Dubbed the ‘heartbeat bill,’ this is the second legislative attempt in less than a year aimed at restricting abortions in a state with a single abortion clinic.

In a tweet earlier this week, Governor Phil Bryant thanked the state’s legislature for “protecting the unborn” by passing the bill and sending it to him for his signature.

The Mississippi law joins a wave of similar Republican-backed measures recently introduced in Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia.

Conservative Republican proponents say these bills are intended to challenge Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 landmark ruling that women have a constitutional right to an abortion.

U.S. states are jostling for a showdown on abortion rights in 2019, with all eyes on the conservative-dominated Supreme Court.

Just last November, a U.S. federal judge struck down a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks, ruling that it “unequivocally” violates women’s constitutional rights.

The new Mississippi bill prohibits the abortion of a fetus with a detectable heartbeat, before the point where a woman may be aware she are pregnant.

It also states that any physician who violates the restriction is subject to losing the license to practice medicine.

The law makes exceptions for women whose health is at extreme risk. It is a victory for anti-abortion groups, but abortion rights advocates have promised to pursue legal action to overturn it.

“This ban is one of the most restrictive abortion bans signed into law, and we will take Mississippi to court to make sure it never takes effect,” Hillary Schneller, staff attorney at the global abortion rights advocacy group Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement.

“This ban — just like the 15 week ban the Governor signed a year ago — is cruel and clearly unconstitutional.”

A fetus that is viable outside the womb, usually at 24 weeks, has widely been considered the threshold in the United States to prohibit an abortion.

Last week, a federal judge blocked Kentucky’s fetal heartbeat abortion law. An Iowa judge overturned that state’s heartbeat law in January after declaring it violated the state’s constitution.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Nick Carey and Richard Chang)

Source: OANN

The progressive organization MoveOn called on Wednesday for the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to boycott the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference — and many have heeded their calls.

AIPAC, an organization “committed solely to strengthening, protecting and promoting the U.S.-Israel relationship,” has its three-day conference scheduled for next week. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are all confirmed speakers for the conference.

Multiple Democratic presidential candidates: South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete ButtigiegMassachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Former Secretary of Housing & Urban Development Julian Castro and California Sen. Kamala Harris have all announced that they will not be in attendance for this year’s conference.

Buttigieg announced he would not be in attendance prior to boycott announcement.

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) afternoon general session in Washington March 21, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

MoveOn released a statement on Wednesday that included a survey conducted internally. According to that survey, more than 74 percent of MoveOn members agree or strongly agree with the statement that “any progressive vying to be the Democratic nominee for President should skip the AIPAC conference.”

Comparatively, less than one-fifth of respondents, 18.6 percent, said they disagree or strongly disagree.

MoveOn cited four specific reasons why members are calling for the boycott.

  1. AIPAC advocated against the Iran Nuclear Deal.
  2. One of the speakers is Netanyahu, who was indicted earlier this year.
  3. AIPAC has “been known to peddle anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric while giving platforms to Islamophobes.”
  4. AIPAC “has refused to condemn the antisemitism of Republicans,” and they specifically call out Steve Bannon.

Harris spoke off-the-record at the convention last year, where she explained her support for a two-state solution.

AIPAC was embroiled in a recent saga in which they were accused of purchasing pro-Israel support from members of Congress by Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar.

The comment sparked significant backlash from a number of political leaders across both sides of the aisle, including some who will be speaking at the conference — such as Pelosi, Pence and Schumer(RELATED: Omar Releases Statement After Backlash Surrounding Tweet Accusing AIPAC Of Buying Israel Support)

AIPAC, Harris’ and Omar’s offices were all approached for comments, but none had responded at the time of publication.

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Source: The Daily Caller

Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Caribbean tour
FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, attend a reception at the Prime Minister’s official residence, in Kingstown, St Vincent and Grenadines, March 20, 2019. Jane Barlow/Pool via REUTERS

March 21, 2019

By Marc Frank

HAVANA (Reuters) – Prince Charles and his wife Camilla arrive in Cuba on Sunday as part of a Caribbean tour, the first British royals to visit the Communist-run nation even as ally the United States seeks to isolate the country.

The royal couple were asked by the UK government to add Cuba to their tour of former and current British territories in hopes of boosting commercial relations and political influence.

The plans were made before the Trump administration intensified efforts this year to end what it views as Latin America’s “troika of tyranny”: the socialist governments of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. It has warned foreign companies away from doing business with Cuba, continuing its reversal of Trump predecessor Barack Obama’s detente with the island.

“The visit shows a fresh willingness by the UK to engage with Cuba in the Diaz-Canel era,” said Paul Hare, a former British ambassador to Cuba who lectures at Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies.

“The UK has long seen the U.S. trade embargo as the wrong way to produce greater openness and tolerance of new ideas in Cuba,” he said.

The visit will be welcomed on the island, which has seen a decline in high-profile visits since the likes of Pope Francis, then-U.S. President Obama and the Rolling Stones graced its shores just a few years ago.

“This visit means a lot because it shows the world that Cuba is a safe country and at the same time, in spite of economic and political adversities, it continues as a country of social interest,” culture ministry employee Mariela Gonzalez, 42, said on the streets of Havana.

The royal couple will dine with Cuba’s new president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, who succeeded Raul Castro a year ago. They first met last November on Prince Charles’ 70th birthday, when the Cuban president was visiting London.

There are no plans for Charles to meet Raul Castro, who remains head of the Communist Party, though that could change, according to Britain’s embassy.

The royals’ schedule through Wednesday, when they depart for the Cayman Islands, includes a tour of Havana’s restored colonial district, visits to community and green energy projects, a meeting with young entrepreneurs, reviewing a parade of antique British cars, and various cultural activities.

Former Royal Ballet star Carlos Acosta, who returned to his native land in 2015 to start a dance company, termed the visit “great” and said he hoped it would strengthen relations.

“I was formed here and for many years I was in the UK and built my career, so these two nations are very important to me,” said the world-renowned Acosta, who will take over direction of England’s Birmingham Royal Ballet next year.

BREXIT AND TRUMP

Britain has worked through its embassies worldwide to strengthen bilateral commercial relations since a referendum three years ago to exit the European Union. 

Plans for high-level officials to accompany the Prince of Wales were scuttled by the political drama playing out in London over how best to leave the EU before a March 29 deadline.

British trade with Cuba was less than $100 million last year. However, some 200,000 British tourists vacation there annually.

Insurer Lloyds of London and British-based accounting firm Ernst and Young do a brisk business on the island, as do lubricants manufacturer Castrol and Aberdeen Standard Investments, which manages Cuba-focused real estate firm CEIBA Investments Ltd

A handful of well-known British corporations have investments in Cuba through subsidiaries, for example Imperial Brands Plc, British-American Tobacco Plc and Unilever.

These and other British companies may eventually become targets of lawsuits by Cuban-Americans if Washington presses ahead with a tougher stance on foreign investment.

The Trump administration has threatened to activate a dormant law as soon as next month that allows American citizens to go to court against foreign companies “trafficking” in their nationalized and confiscated properties taken at the time of Cuba’s 1959 Revolution.

(Reporting by Marc Frank; additional reporting by Nelson Acosta; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A couple look towards signs pointing out distances to different cities,at an observation post in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights
FILE PHOTO: A couple look towards signs pointing out distances to different cities,at an observation post in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo

March 21, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday it was time to back Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, territory Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Middle East War.

“After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!” Trump said on Twitter.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by David Alexander)

Source: OANN

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

March 21, 2019

By Ann Saphir and Howard Schneider

SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Federal Reserve policymakers see a U.S. economy that is rapidly losing momentum. They predict inflation will miss their 2 percent target for yet another year, despite rising wages, and they expect unemployment to increase.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s view of it all? He calls these fundamentals “very strong,” says the economy is in a “good place and sees the outlook as “favorable.”

Welcome to the new normal.

Powell’s upbeat assessment of a deteriorating economy shows how completely the Fed has embraced a world of stubbornly weak inflation, permanently slower growth and chronically low interest rates that give the central bank precious little room for conventional policy easing when the next downturn arrives.

It is a situation that poses risks to the Fed’s credibility, given the long-running failure to lift inflation to a target first specified in 2012 in hopes of guiding the economy upward. It also raises the stakes over an evolving debate about the need for fiscal, social and other policies that may be targeted to pick up the slack.

“It feels like the Fed has come to Jesus on this topic,” said University of Oregon economics professor Tim Duy, who believes the abrupt revisions to Fed forecasts show the Fed may have already raised interest rates too far. “The secular stagnation story, some part of it, must in fact be a reality.”

Powell delivered his message on Wednesday as the Fed signaled it is likely finished with the interest rate increases it started back in 2015, and hinted that should the outlook worsen, a rate cut may be next.

“We are very mindful… of what the risks are,” Powell said after the Fed held its target range for short-term rates steady at 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent. “We don’t see data coming in that suggests we should move in either direction… We should remain patient and let the situation clarify over time; when the time comes, we will act appropriately.”

DOWN IN THE DUMPS?

At least nine and perhaps as many as 15 of the Fed’s 17 policymakers slashed their interest rate forecasts, with most seeing no rate hikes this year. As a group they now believe the economy has lost perhaps a third of its momentum compared with last year, and will grow around 2.1 percent in 2019.

What about the idea they would need to boost rates high enough to brake growth and actually curb inflation, a feature of their outlook in 2018? A thing of the past.

If anything, the Fed’s concern has shifted in the other direction, toward inflation remaining so low it undermines business and household expectations about the future, another potential drag on growth if either sector becomes more cautious in spending.

To some analysts, the abrupt revisions sound like a warning.

“What does the Fed know that it’s not saying?” asked Marvin Loh, global macro strategist at State Street.

“I think we are bracing for another shoe to drop,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West in San Francisco.

That was also the view of financial markets, with short-term interest-rate futures quickly pricing in a rate cut next year.

Powell noted risks to his positive outlook include a slowdown in Europe and ongoing trade tensions with China.

RISK OF THE LESS-LIKELY OUTCOME

To others, however, it seemed like confirmation of an inconvenient truth: that global growth may have peaked, leaving countries stuck in slow-growth mode and reliant on fiscal policy to keep from grinding to a halt. In addition, they will have to carry the load of recovery should a recession occur.

“Even once this episode is past, what do things look like? In the Fed’s view it is a world of sub-2 percent growth” over the long run, said Nathan Sheets, chief economist at PGIM Fixed Income and a former U.S. Treasury official. “By U.S. historical standards, it is not great.”

Central banks in Japan and Europe are in a similar fix, fueling a global debate about whether, given chronically low interest rates, it makes sense for larger and economically more dynamic nations to borrow more for investments in infrastructure, education, climate adaptation and other endeavors that would have a clear public return.

“It is a different world,” former International Monetary Fund Chief Economist Olivier Blanchard said in a meeting with reporters recently at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “We are going to be in a world where monetary policy is highly constrained and fiscal (policy) will become central.”

Originally skeptical of the secular stagnation argument that low growth in developed nations is hardwired into the long-term outlook by aging populations that over-save, he said he now views that as the “more likely” state of affairs.

The issue now is whether the current slow-growth expansion will continue indefinitely in the hoped-for “soft landing” that the Fed foresees in its current projections.

There are arguments to the contrary. The recently released Economic Report of the President projected growth will remain near 3 percent this year and could edge up in coming years if, for example, the now-temporary household tax cuts approved in 2017 are made permanent. Resolution of current global trade frictions could also raise the global outlook.

But 2018, a year that began with U.S. and world officials heralding an era of synchronized global growth, may also prove the outlier.

Said Bank of the West’s Anderson: “Even with the U.S. pausing, it might not be enough to stop a global downturn.”

(Reporting by Ann Saphir and Howard Schneider; Editing by Dan Burns and Dan Grebler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Lebanon President Michel Aoun addresses the European Parliament in Strasbourg
FILE PHOTO: Lebanon President Michel Aoun addresses the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, September 11, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler/File Photo

March 21, 2019

BEIRUT (Reuters) – U.S. sanctions on Hezbollah are harming Lebanon as a whole, President Michel Aoun said on Thursday ahead of a visit to the country by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The United States deems the heavily armed, Iran-backed Hezbollah group a terrorist organization and has been steadily increasing financial sanctions against it as part of efforts to counter Iran.

Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah has a large armed militia that has helped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his eight-year war against rebels, but it is also a political party in Lebanon with seats in the parliament and cabinet.

“Lebanon is within the siege that has been imposed on others, particularly on Iran. And it is passing, as a result of that, through a big crisis,” Aoun told Russian media in Lebanon, the Lebanese Presidency office said.

Sanctions against Hezbollah introduced since 2016 raised fears among Lebanese that U.S. correspondent banks might deem Lebanese banks too risky to do business with, harming a major part of Lebanon’s economy.

However, Lebanon’s Central Bank has repeatedly said that the banking sector is fully compliant with sanctions and that foreign institutions are satisfied with how it implements regulation.

“We don’t expect more measures against the banks,” Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, said.

But he said the “negative impact of the siege on Hezbollah afflicts all Lebanese, as it does the Lebanese banks”.

“Every Lebanese bank has uncertainty about dealing with a depositor, fearing that he has a link with Hezbollah … This mutual fear does not build an economy and sound trade relations,” he added.

U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo is due to visit Lebanon on Friday and Saturday after trips to Kuwait and Israel. In Israel, Pompeo described Iran-backed Hezbollah as a risk to the Lebanese.

Aoun is scheduled to visit Russia over March 25-26 after being invited by President Vladimir Putin, Aoun’s office said.

(Writing by Lisa Barrington and Tom Perry; Editing by David Goodman)

Source: OANN

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman visit the Western Wall Tunnels in Jerusalem's Old City
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visit the Western Wall Tunnels in Jerusalem’s Old City March 21, 2019. Abir Sultan/ Pool via REUTERS

March 21, 2019

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accompanied Israel’s prime minister on a visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on Thursday in the first such gesture since Washington recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, angering Palestinians.

The ancient Western Wall, the most sacred prayer site in Judaism, is located in the eastern part of the city that Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed in a move not recognized internationally.

Israel has long considered all of Jerusalem as its eternal, indivisible capital, while Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state they seek in territory Israel took in the June 1967 war.

Shortly after entering office in January 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump visited the Western Wall, though without Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Later that year Trump reversed decades of U.S. policy and officially recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, though making clear that he was not prejudging a settlement on where the city’s borders should be.

Since that shift, the U.S. ambassador to Israel has paid visits to the Western Wall along with Netanyahu. Pompeo suggested that his own visit as the top U.S. diplomat in Netanyahu’s presence was significant.

“I think it’s symbolic that a senior American official goes there with the prime minister of Israel,” he told reporters prior to arriving in the walled Old City.

The Western Wall is a remnant of the compound of a Jewish temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. The elevated plaza above it is the Noble Sanctuary, the third holiest site in Islam, containing the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

Pompeo, Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador David Friedman together approached the wall and each leaned against its massive stones with one hand. Pompeo then placed a prayer note in between the stones, as is customary.

Before going to the wall, he visited the nearby Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to be site of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial.

Pompeo, now on a Middle East tour, visited Kuwait before Israel and is due to proceed to Lebanon. His trip to Israel, three weeks before a closely contested election, was portrayed in local media as a Trump administration boost for the right-wing Netanyahu.

(Reporting by Rami Amichay; Writing by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Mark Heinrich)

Source: OANN

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

Graeme Gallagher | Contributor

Six people have been killed and 30 are seriously injured after a chemical plant explosion in eastern China on Thursday.

Occurring at around 2:50 p.m. local time, the blast at the Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical factory, which produces fertilizer and pesticides, created a fireball and billowing clouds over the industrial park area in Yancheng, Jiangsu, province, according to BBC.

Damaging further buildings in the radius, the explosion is believed to have caused a 2.2-magnitude earthquake that was recorded by China’s earthquake administration at the same time as the factory erupted.

Videos and images of the deadly explosion have surfaced social media. (RELATED: Multiple Fatalities After Explosion Devastates Kindergarten In China)

Shockwaves from the explosion shattered nearby windows of residential buildings and destroyed cars, injuring many through flying debris. Children are among those injured as online maps show 10 schools are within the 5K radius of the explosion.

“Workers were trapped after buildings were knocked down by the shock wave, which also shattered windows of nearby homes,” reported state-run news agency Xinhua. “Witnesses said many workers were seen running out of the factory covered in blood after the blast.”

A total of 176 fire trucks and 928 firefights have been sent to the site for rescue operations and to combat the ongoing flames from the blast. (RELATED: China Backs Venezuela’s Claim That Blackout Is Result Of U.S. Sabotage, Offers Help)

Paramilitary police officers and a medical staff transfer an injuried man as smoke rises from an explosion site behind them in Yancheng in China's eastern Jiangsu province on March 21, 2019. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Paramilitary police officers and a medical staff transfer an injuried man as smoke rises from an explosion site behind them in Yancheng in China’s eastern Jiangsu province on March 21, 2019. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

The chemical company, Tianjiayi Chemical, was founded in 2007 and was listed by the State Administration of Work Safety to have had 13 safety problems, including a lack of safety training among management, at the plant. In addition, the company has received past punishments for “failures regarding solid waste management, environmental impact assessments and air pollution,” according to the South China Morning Post.

Industrial accidents have become prevalent in the East Asian country, as poor safety regulations have led to past factory explosions.

Two massive explosions, linked to haphazard management of explosive materials and poor regulations, in the port of Tianjin killed more than 160 people in 2015. Similarly, another explosive, due to problems in their safety management systems, in the Hebei province, near Beijing, killed 23 people last year.

Source: The Daily Caller

A Wells Fargo logo is seen in New York City
FILE PHOTO: A Wells Fargo logo is seen in New York City, U.S. January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

March 21, 2019

(Reuters) – Wells Fargo’s board is in talks with Harvey Schwartz, the former president and co-chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs, to take over as the bank’s next chief executive, the New York Post reported on Thursday, citing people briefed on the talks.

Schwartz is up against another serious candidate for Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan’s job, whose identity couldn’t immediately be learned, the newspaper reported citing one source close to the situation.

Shares of Wells Fargo pared some losses to trade down 1.5 percent at $49.62. The stock was earlier down 2.4 percent.

The bank was not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru)

Source: OANN

Lauryn Overhultz | Columnist

U.S. figure skater Mariah Bell, 22, is under investigation after allegedly slashing her South Korean competitor with her skate during a Wednesday practice.

16-year-old Lim Eun-soo claims Bell crashed into her on purpose during the final warmup at the International Skating Union World Figure Skating Championships and intentionally left a gash in Eun-soo’s calf, according to the New York Post.

The incident, which is similar to the time Tonya Harding was accused of hiring someone to injure her rival during the 1994 Winter Games, seemed to be premeditated, according to a rep from the Korean sports agency All That Sports.

Eun-soo had been skating near the outer edges of the rink for space when Bell crashed into her from behind and “suddenly kicked and stabbed Lim’s calf with her skate blades” the spokesperson told Yonhap News. (RELATED: Olympic Figure Skaters Credit God In Unlikely In Return To God)

“Mariah Bell didn’t apologize to Lim Eun-soo after the incident and instead continued to rehearse for her routine. We believe this is not a minor situation that can happen in an official rehearsal,” the spokesperson said.

Eun-soo went on to compete in the ladies short program despite the injury to her calf and even placed fifth overall beating out Bell who placed sixth.

All That Sports has requested that the Korea Skating Union file a complaint against Bell.

Both skaters are trained by the same Los Angeles coach and Eun-soo’s rep claims Bell has been bullying and harassing Eun-soo leading up to the competition.

Source: The Daily Caller

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte arrives to greet the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at Colonel Jesus Villamor Air Base in Manila
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte arrives to greet the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at Colonel Jesus Villamor Air Base in Manila, Philippines, Thursday, February 28, 2019. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS

March 21, 2019

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte said Manila’s relations with Beijing will not be jeopardised despite two former officials filing a complaint with the International Criminal Court over China’s aggression in the disputed South China Sea.

Since taking office in 2016, the Philippine leader re-oriented his foreign policy away from longtime ally the United States and toward China, despite decades of mistrust and bitter maritime disputes with Beijing.

However, the country’s former anti-graft chief and former foreign affairs minister is asking the ICC to conduct a preliminary examination on China’s role in the South China Sea.

The letter was dated March 13 – four days before the Philippines’ unilateral withdrawal from the ICC was formalized.

Duterte said: “They think they have a good case and I would say that there is no jurisdiction over this country and of China.”

Close ties will remain as China understands that anyone can file a case as the Philippines is a democratic country, he told reporters late on Thursday.

Duterte is facing criticism from opponents for making too many political concessions to China in return for billions of dollars of pledged Chinese loans and investment, most of which have yet to materialize.

China says it has irrefutable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and the waters around them.

Under the ICC rules, any individual, group or state can communicate with the prosecutor on alleged crimes falling under the court’s jurisdiction. The complaints can form the initial basis of the preliminary examinations.

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Alison Williams)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A Tesla logo is seen at a groundbreaking ceremony of Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory in Shanghai
FILE PHOTO: A Tesla logo is seen at a groundbreaking ceremony of Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory in Shanghai, China January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

March 21, 2019

(Reuters) – Tesla Inc filed a lawsuit on Thursday against a former engineer at the company, claiming he copied the source code for its Autopilot technology before joining a Chinese self-driving car startup in January.

The engineer, Guangzhi Cao, copied more than 300,000 files related to Autopilot source code as he prepared to join China’s Xiaopeng Motors Technology Company Ltd, the Silicon Valley carmaker said in the lawsuit filed in a California court.

Separately, Tesla lawyers on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against four former employees and U.S. self-driving car startup Zoox Inc, alleging the employees stole proprietary information and trade secrets for developing warehousing, logistics and inventory control operations.

Cao, Xiaopeng and Zoox could not be immediately reached for comment.

Tesla is building a vehicle assembly facility in Shanghai, putting it in direct competition with Xiaopeng and other Chinese companies in the world’s largest electric vehicle market.

Its Autopilot is a driver assistance system that handles some driving tasks and allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel, although the company stresses it still requires driver supervision and does not make the vehicle autonomous.

Cao’s LinkedIn profile shows he has been working with Xiaopeng since January as “head of perception”.

Xiaopeng, which debuted an electric car in Las Vegas last year, counts Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Foxconn Technology Co Ltd among its investors.

The company, also known as Xpeng Motors, employs at least five former Tesla employees, the U.S. carmaker alleged in the lawsuit.

Apple Inc last year accused one former employee of stealing trade secrets related to self-driving cars and joining Xiaopeng’s U.S. subsidiary.

Several companies are racing to develop the technology required to make cars drive on their own and lawsuits against former employees have become common as firms strive to keep proprietary information in-house.

Alphabet Inc’s Waymo self-driving vehicle unit took Uber Technologies to court after a former employee stole thousands of confidential documents and became chief of Uber’s self-driving car project. Uber later paid $245 million to settle the case.

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham, Bernard Orr)

Source: OANN

Imported automobiles are parked in a lot at the port of Newark New Jersey
Imported automobiles are parked in a lot at the port of Newark New Jersey, U.S., February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

March 21, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A conservative group has sued the U.S. government for access to a report on whether auto imports pose a big enough security risk to justify hefty tariffs on the sector, part of a growing chorus demanding a copy of the document.

Cause of Action Institute (CoA), a watchdog aligned with the conservative political activists David and Charles Koch, asked the District of Columbia Federal Court on Wednesday to require the Commerce department to hand over a copy of the report, which could unleash tariffs of up to 25 percent on imported cars and parts.

Last month, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross submitted the so-called “Section 232” national security report to President Donald Trump, starting a 90-day countdown for him to decide whether to impose the tariffs on millions of imports.

The Commerce department declined to comment.

The industry has warned that tariffs could add thousands of dollars to vehicle costs and potentially lead to hundreds of thousands of job losses throughout the U.S. economy.

The Commerce Department started its investigation in May 2018 at Trump’s request. Known as a Section 232 investigation, its purpose was to determine the effects of imports on national security. It had to be completed by February.

In the suit, CoA alleged the Commerce Department has missed deadlines to respond to Freedom of Information Act Requests it filed for the report on Feb. 18, a day after the report was sent to the White House.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has also sought a copy of the report without success, Politico reported.

Administration officials have said tariff threats on autos are a way to win concessions from Japan and the EU. Last year, Trump agreed not to impose tariffs as long as talks with the two trading partners were proceeding in a productive manner.

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Additional Reporting by David Shepardson and David Lawder; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A gas flare on an oil production platform in the Soroush oil fields is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Persian Gulf
FILE PHOTO: A gas flare on an oil production platform in the Soroush oil fields is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Persian Gulf, Iran, July 25, 2005. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

March 21, 2019

By Alex Lawler

LONDON (Reuters) – Iran’s oil exports have dropped in March to their lowest daily level this year, according to tanker data and industry sources, even before Washington formally requires importing countries to reduce purchases to avoid infringing U.S. sanctions.

Shipments are averaging between 1.0 and 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd) so far this month, according to Refinitiv Eikon data and three other companies that track Iranian exports. That’s lower than February, when shipments were at least 1.3 million bpd.

Shipments have dropped from at least 2.5 million bpd in April 2018, the month before U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sanctions, fueling a year of economic crisis in the country.

Tehran has vowed to keep exporting oil despite U.S. efforts to reduce its shipments to zero, but the export decline could be another indicator of economic pressure from the embargo.

In a new year speech on Thursday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the Islamic Republic had resisted U.S. sanctions and called on the government to boost national production to face enemy pressures.

For the oil market, the drop in Iranian shipments will add to an OPEC-led oil supply cut and comes ahead of U.S. plans to clamp down further on Iranian exports from May, after ending of the current round of fairly generous waivers from sanctions.

Still, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, which began cutting production from Jan. 1 to bolster prices, are unlikely to be in a rush to change course, analysts say, without concrete signs of a shortage.

“We do expect less Iranian oil exports after May,” said Sara Vakhshouri of energy consultant SVB Energy International.

“However, we don’t think that OPEC will increase its production in anticipation of lower Iranian oil exports, but only if there are clear signs of further Iran and/or Venezuelan export cuts in the market,” Vakhshouri said.

Venezuela, an OPEC member, is also under U.S. sanctions which have curbed its exports.

Iran’s export levels have become more opaque since U.S. sanctions on the country’s oil sector took effect in November, although estimates of March supplies are falling into a narrower range than in previous months.

Kpler, a company that tracks oil flows, said Iranian shipments so far in March had dropped sharply to 1.03 million bps from 1.44 million bpd in February.

“Iranian crude loadings have struggled through the first half of March,” Kpler said in a report, although it said exports would rise closer to 1.3 million bpd in the rest of March.

(Editing by David Holmes)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO - The HSBC bank logo is seen at their offices in the Canary Wharf financial district in London
FILE PHOTO: The HSBC bank logo is seen in the Canary Wharf financial district in London, Britain, March 3, 2016. REUTERS/Reinhard Krause

March 21, 2019

By Lawrence White

LONDON (Reuters) – HSBC has signed a deal to offer BlackRock’s Aladdin investment management software to the bank’s wealthy customers, in a boost to the U.S. asset manager’s plans to squeeze money from technology by selling it to rivals.

Aladdin began as an internal tool at BlackRock before becoming the linchpin of Chief Executive Larry Fink’s plan to increase revenues from technology. It is used by investment managers to help to oversee risks and make investment decisions.

Robert Goldstein, chief operating officer at BlackRock, said HSBC’s scale would mean many more advisers would have access to capabilities previously only available to institutional investors.

The partnership between Europe’s largest bank and the world’s biggest asset manager comes as both industries are battling to use technology to increase profits and improve service.

Guilherme Lima, HSBC’s group head of wealth management, said the software would help investors to understand hidden risks in their portfolios by acting as an ‘X-ray’ that could look through a mix of individual stock holdings, mutual funds and index trackers to reveal that all of them are exposed to a single stock, for example, or macro-economic risk.

That will help HSBC to respond to growing demand from wealthy customers for their banks to offer advice rather than simply selling products.

“It’s about being able to have a detailed conversation with the client and provide more value added advice,” Stuart Parkinson, global head of product, investments and collaboration in HSBC’s private bank, said.

BlackRock’s Fink has said he aims to increase revenues from technology to 30 percent of the firm’s total by 2022, as the broader stockpicking business has come under pressure from lower cost index funds.

More than 200 institutions and around 25,000 investment professionals use Aladdin and its risk analytics, BlackRock says.

Some market participants have questioned whether this presents a systemic risk, as the growing number of firms using the software for investment decisions could make portfolios more correlated and hence exposed to market shocks.

BlackRock executives have downplayed this idea, saying customers use Aladdin in different ways to suit their own purposes.

HSBC has already begun to roll out the platform in the United States and in Hong Kong, the bank said. Over the next 2-3 years Aladdin will eventually be offered to all customers who hold $1 million or more with the bank.

HSBC’s retail bank and its private bank which serves wealthier customers both chose Aladdin independently of each other after running a lengthy procurement process, HSBC’s Parkinson said.

(Reporting By Lawrence White. Editing by Jane Merriman)

Source: OANN

Simone Biles smiles during warm-ups at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Boston
FILE PHOTO: Simone Biles smiles during warm-ups at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., August 19, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

March 21, 2019

By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) – Simone Biles believes U.S gymnastics is moving in a positive direction after the “dark place” it found itself in a year ago following a sex-abuse scandal.

The Texas-based 22-year-old, winner of a record-equaling four gold medals at the Rio Olympics, was one of more than 100 gymnasts who say they were abused by former Gymnastics USA doctor Larry Nassar who was jailed last year.

Gymnastics USA was criticized for failing to safeguard the welfare of its athletes and the subject of dozens of lawsuits by victims of Nassar.

Speaking ahead of the Superstars of Gymnastics event taking place in London on Saturday, Biles, who said next year’s Olympics in Tokyo will “definitely” be her last, said she was encouraged by their response.

“We are all very hopeful that they (Gymnastics USA) are making the right decisions so that we can kind of get out of that dark place,” Biles told Reuters close to the O2 Arena which will host Saturday’s event.

Biles received widespread admiration when going public about being abused by Nassar and was, along with other victims, awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage award.

“The response has been good and encouraging, knowing that its kind of relateable in a way,” she said. “But you know, you have to pick and choose your battles wisely.

“I think my actions have given other athletes a way to know that they are not alone and (abuse) does happen, so they don’t have to be in the dark about everything.”

Biles, heralded as the greatest gymnast of all time, will perform exhibition routines at the Superstars of Gymnastics event, with her role chiefly as part of the judging-panel that will use an “out of 10” scoring system.

It will be a light-hearted distraction before the serious business of the countdown to Tokyo.

She admits to tough times since returning to action from a two-year break although her four golds at the world championships in Doha showed she was back to her dazzling best.

“The muscle memory is there, but it was a little bit difficult to keep up at times,” she said.

“There were times I wanted to give up. In the end I knew what the goals were and it paid off.

Biles will be 23 in Tokyo, relatively old for female gymnastics, but feels the age demographic is changing.

“Even after the Olympics we had the oldest American team with an average age of 19, but we were also the most successful,” she said. “So I feel the age is changing just a little bit, so hopefully the peaking age is not 16 any more!”

“I hope I make the team,” she said. “This time it will be smaller with just four in 2020 so that’s more difficult.”

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)

Source: OANN

Levi Strauss & Co. CEO Chip Bergh on floor of New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) during company's IPO in New York
FLevi Strauss & Co. CEO Chip Bergh is seen during the company’s IPO on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

March 21, 2019

By Diptendu Lahiri

(Reuters) – Shares in Levi Strauss & Co surged 31 percent in their debut on Thursday, giving the U.S. jeans maker a market value of $8.7 billion and indicating a strong investor appetite ahead of much-awaited listings from Lyft and Uber Technologies.

The 165-year-old company’s return to the public market comes at a time when stocks are near all-time highs and the popularity of denim is surging, driven by the resurgence of the 90s styles such as high-waist and pinstriped jeans.

The self proclaimed inventor of the blue jeans, which has grown to become one of the world’s most recognized denim brands, hopes to use a part of the proceeds from the share offering to expand further into emerging markets such as Brazil, China and India.

“Denim continues to prove prevalent in streetwear and on the runway, so we’re not expecting it to go anywhere any time soon,” an analyst at retail analytics firm Edited said.

“That’s why now is a great time for Levi’s to capitalize on this momentum.”

Levi first went public in 1971. It sold a total of 1.27 million shares at $47 each and the stock opened at $60, according to a New York Times report.

After 14 years as a public company, it was taken private by the Haas family, the descendants of founder Levi Strauss, in a $1.6 billion leveraged buyout.

Levi’s second IPO was priced at $17 on Wednesday, above the expected range, in an oversubscribed offering. The Haas family will retain 80 percent voting control of the public company. The market capitalization of the company is based on outstanding shares of about 390 million, which includes the over-allotment option.

“There is a lot to like when it comes to Levi Strauss the brand and its outlook moving forward,” said Jeff Zell, senior research analyst and partner at IPO tracking firm, IPO Boutique.

“The company and the underwriters targeted a reasonable valuation to start and allowed the true investor demand to dictate price which ultimately came one-dollar above range.”

The company reported a 14 percent rise in revenue to $5.6 billion in 2018, a majority of which came from men’s denim. Its biggest market is Americas, which accounts for about 55 percent of total revenue.

The San Francisco, California-based company sells in 110 countries through 50,000 retail stores and its rivals include Gap Inc and VF Corp’s Lee and Wrangler brands.

To attract young customers, Levi’s is planning to expand its tailor shop and print bar that allow consumers to customize and put their own designs on the company’s branded jeans and T-shirts.

Levi’s market splash also marks the start of what could be a blockbuster year for IPOs with several high profile companies expected to list their shares.

Ride-hailing service provider Lyft Inc kicked off the investor road show for its market debut on Monday and larger rival Uber is expected to go public in April.

The line-up also includes photo-posting app Pinterest, home-renting service provider Airbnb and business messaging app Slack.

(Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri and Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Writing by Sweta Singh; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

Source: OANN

William Davis | Contributor

During a visit to Jerusalem, Israel, alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo decried the “dark wave of anti-Semitism” across Europe and the U.S.

Pompeo took the time to criticize perceived anti-Semitism from members of Congress while in the Israeli capital, although he did not mention anybody by name. (RELATED: Ted Cruz Slams The UN For Defending Hamas Over Israel: It’s ‘Absurd And Dishonest’)

“All nations, especially those in the West, must go to the barricades against bigotry,” Pompeo said. “Sadly, we in the United States have seen anti-Semitic language even in the great halls of our own capital.”

Pompeo’s comments come amid weeks of debate after Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar made comments that were widely perceived to be anti-Semitic, something for which she drew criticism from all sides of the political spectrum. (RELATED: Omar Has Gotten In Hot Water With Frequent Comments About Israel)

Omar has previously accused Israel of “hypnotizing the world,” and has been accused of using tropes about Jewish money to question U.S. support for the lone Democratic state in the Middle East.

Pompeo’s trip to Israel comes weeks away from the Israeli elections, where Netanyahu is facing a tough re-election bid after being indicted on fraud and bribery charges. The elections will take place April 9.

Follow William Davis on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

Paul Ingrassia | Contributor

Former President Jimmy Carter officially became America’s longest living president Thursday when he turned 94 years and 172 days, surpassing George H.W. Bush’s age of 94 years and 171 days at the time of his death. 

Carter, who has been out of office since 1981, also holds the record for longest post-presidency. At 38 years and counting, Carter has a significant leg up on the runner-up, Herbert Hoover, who spent 31 years and 230 days out of office after his presidency. 

From left, President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, former President Barack Obama, former first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former President Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter attend the state funeral for former U.S. President George H. W. Bush at the Washington National Cathedral. (Photo by Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images)

From left, President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, former President Barack Obama, former first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former President Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter attend the state funeral for former U.S. President George H. W. Bush at the Washington National Cathedral. (Photo by Alex Brandon – Pool/Getty Images)

H.W. Bush was previously the oldest president in American history when he reached 93 years, 166 days in November of 2017, officially surpassing former President Gerald Ford at the time of his death in 2006. H.W. Bush died on Nov. 30 2018. (RELATED: George H.W. Bush Just Became The Longest Living President)

Only six (John Adams, Herbert Hoover, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, H.W. Bush and Carter) of the 45 men who ascended to the highest office of the land reached the age of 90 in their lifetimes. Carter is the only one still living of the six.

Four of the six men who reached the age of 90 did so in the twenty-first century. Adams, America’s second president served from 1797-1801 and was the only president to turn 90 in the nineteenth century. Hoover, who was president from 1929-1933, was the second president to reach 90. He was the only president to hit 90 in the twentieth century in 1964, 139 years after John Adams. 

Adams, however, outlived Hoover by 176 days, making him the longest record holder to maintain the title of oldest president until Ronald Reagan turned 90 years and 248 days in 2001. Adams held onto the title for nearly two centuries, the longest duration by far.

After Carter, the next oldest living president is the current occupant of the office, President Donald Trump, who is 72-years-old, 280 days.

Trump, alongside former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, are the only three presidents who were born in the same year: 1946, the first year of the baby boomer generation. Carter remains the only living president from the greatest generation, a demographic group that roughly encompasses Americans born between 1900 and 1924.

Carter, who has overcome a number of health ailments in recent years including brain cancer, still remains active in public life and in his various humanitarian efforts.

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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].

Source: The Daily Caller

The IMF logo is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington
FILE PHOTO: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington, U.S., as IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde meets with Argentine Treasury Minister Nicolas Dujovne September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

March 21, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund supports the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision to halt its campaign to raise interest rates as a prudent move amid economic uncertainty, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said on Thursday.

“Given the range of global uncertainties facing the U.S. economy, we support the Fed’s decision to be patient in determining future changes to the Federal Funds rate,” Rice told a regular biweekly news conference. “The Federal Reserve’s continued adherence to the principles of data dependence and clear communication, we believe, will help to minimize any market disruptions and spillovers from its policy decisions.”

The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday brought its three-year drive to tighten monetary policy to an abrupt end, abandoning projections for any interest rate hikes this year amid signs of an economic slowdown, and said it would halt the steady decline of its balance sheet in September.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Source: OANN

IMF logo is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington
FILE PHOTO: International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington, U.S., as IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde meets with Argentine Treasury Minister Nicolas Dujovne September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

March 21, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund is still awaiting guidance from its members on whether to recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s leader, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said on Thursday, adding that there is no schedule for an IMF board meeting to decide the issue.

Rice told an IMF news briefing that there is still no clarity on Venezuela’s leadership situation and any shift in the Fund’s recognition of the government will be guided by its 189 member countries and the international community and “views are still being formed.”

Another Washington-based multilateral institution, the Inter-American Development Bank, last week replaced the representative of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro with an economist backed by Juan Guaido, a major setback for the Maduro government.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Source: OANN

Michael Cohen’s business partner on the failed Trump Tower Moscow project will testify publicly before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 27, the committee announced.

Felix Sater will testify “about his business ventures with the Trump Organization and the potential Trump Tower Moscow deal,” according to a Thursday press release from the committee.

The committee will also have an open hearing on March 28 on “Putin’s Playbook: The Kremlin’s Use of Oligarchs, Money and Intelligence in 2016 and Beyond.”

The hearings are the first under Democratic Chairman Adam Schiff’s tenure.

Sater, a real estate executive who has worked as an informant for the U.S. government for decades, worked with Cohen beginning in late 2015 to build a Trump-branded skyscraper in Moscow. (RELATED: Bruce Ohr Testimony Undercuts Adam Schiff’s Theory About FBI’s Handling Of Dossier)

Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, speaks about President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, during an interview with Mike Allen of Axios, on Jan. 31, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Sater sent several text messages touting the project and pledging to get the support of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He also came up with the idea to offer Putin a $50 million penthouse as part of the negotiation to secure the deal. Sater said the offer was part of a “marketing conversation” he had with Cohen.

Cohen pleaded guilty in the special counsel’s probe to lying to Congress about the timeline of his work on the Trump Tower project. He claimed that negotiations ended in January 2016, before the beginning of the 2016 primaries. Cohen acknowledged in his Nov. 29 plea agreement that he continued his efforts through June 2016.

Sater, who has known Cohen since childhood, has said he saw no evidence of election-related collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.

Schiff, a California Democrat, has shifted his focus recently from the question of collusion to whether Russia or other foreign countries have compromised President Donald Trump through lucrative business deals.

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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].

Source: The Daily Caller

Some Democrats are pushing for a complete overhaul of the U.S. government – from lowering the voting age to expanding the size of the Supreme Court, CNN is reporting.

The list of reforms being proposed by prominent Democrats goes far beyond climate change and healthcare, the news network said in an analysis posted Thursday.

Here are some of the changes being floated by the Democrats:

  • Overhauling the election system:  Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a presidential candidate, has endorsed abandoning the Electoral College.
  • Expanding the size of the Supreme Court: Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Warren – all presidential candidates — told Politico they would consider increasing the number of justices on the high court.
  • Addition of a new state: CNN noted every Democrat making a bid for the White House, who serves in the House or Senate, has endorsed making Washington D.C. a state.
  • Lowering the voting age: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has endorsed lowering the voting age to 16, which would require a constitutional amendment.

    CNN noted the idea have little or no chance of becoming reality in the near future. And President Donald Trump commented on the proposals on Wednesday calling the Democrats "strange" for pushing them.

Source: NewsMax

Phil Bryant, governor of Mississippi, speaks during an election night party for Republican U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith in Jackson
FILE PHOTO: Phil Bryant, governor of Mississippi, speaks during an election night party for Republican U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith in Jackson, Mississippi, U.S., November 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

March 21, 2019

(Reuters) – Mississippi’s Republican governor was due to sign one of America’s strictest abortion bills on Thursday banning women from obtaining an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can often occur before a woman even realizes she is pregnant.

Dubbed the ‘heartbeat bill,’ this is the second legislative attempt in under a year aimed at restricting abortions in a state with a single abortion clinic.

In a tweet earlier this week, Governor Phil Bryant thanked the state’s legislature for “protecting the unborn” by passing the bill and sending it to him for his signature.

The Mississippi bill joins a wave of similar Republican-backed measures recently introduced in Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia.

Conservative Republican proponents say these bills are intended to challenge Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 landmark ruling that women have a constitutional right to an abortion.

U.S. states are jostling for a showdown on abortion rights in 2019, with all eyes on the conservative-dominated Supreme Court.

Just last November, a U.S. federal judge struck down a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks, ruling that it “unequivocally” violates women’s constitutional rights.

The new Mississippi bill prohibits the abortion of a fetus with a detectable heartbeat, before the point where a woman may be aware she are pregnant.

It also states that any physician who violates the restriction is subject to losing their license to practice medicine.

The bill makes exceptions for women whose health is at extreme risk. It is a victory for anti-abortion groups, but abortion rights advocates have promised to pursue legal action if Bryant signs the bill.

“The term ‘heartbeat bill’ is a manipulative misnomer,” The Center for Reproductive Rights, a global abortion rights advocacy group, tweeted on Wednesday. “These bills actually rob women of their choice to have an #abortion before they even know they’re pregnant.”

The group added that it would sue Bryant if he signs the bill into law.

A fetus that is viable outside the womb, usually at 24 weeks, has widely been considered the threshold in the United States to prohibit an abortion.

Last week, a federal judge blocked Kentucky’s fetal heartbeat abortion law. An Iowa judge overturned that state’s heartbeat law in January after declaring it violated the state’s constitution.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Nick Carey)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Buildings are seen in the financial district in Oslo,
FILE PHOTO: Buildings are seen in the financial district in Oslo, Norway May 31, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

March 21, 2019

By Tarmo Virki

HELSINKI (Reuters) – Norway’s capital Oslo will become the first city in the world to install wireless charging systems for electric taxis, hoping to make recharging quick and efficient enough to speed the takeup of non-polluting cabs.

The project will use induction technology, with charging plates installed in the road at taxi ranks linking to receivers installed in the vehicle, Finnish utility Fortum said on Thursday.

From 2023 onward all taxis in Oslo will have to be zero emission and Norway wants all new cars to be zero emission by 2025. Among other nations, Britain and France have similar goals for 2040.

Fortum, which is working with U.S. firm Momentum Dynamics and the City of Oslo on the scheme, said the greatest hurdle for electrification of taxis had so far been the infrastructure, as it is too time consuming for cabbies to find a charger, plug in, then wait for the car to charge.

Induction is more energy efficient and enables charging the taxis while they are in the slowly moving queues at taxi ranks.

“Time equals money when taxi drivers are working,” said Ole Gudbrann Hempel, head of Fortum’s public charging network in Norway.

Norway has the world’s highest rate of electric car ownership, partly thanks to long-term perks such as free or discounted road tolls, parking and charging points. Last year, almost one in three new cars sold was electric.

The government also exempts electric vehicles from taxes on traditional vehicles that are very high in a country which does not have its own fossil fuel car industry to lobby against them.

With just five million people, Norway bought 46,143 new battery electric cars in 2018, making it the biggest market in Europe, ahead of Germany with 36,216 and France on 31,095, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.

(Editing by Terje Solsvik and David Holmes)

Source: OANN

A man passes by the corner stone on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in the financial district in New York
FILE PHOTO: A man passes by the corner stone on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in the financial district in New York City, U.S., March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

March 21, 2019

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The average borrowing cost for U.S. banks to borrow excess reserves from each other rose above what the Federal Reserve pays on excess reserves for the first time ever on Wednesday, New York Federal Reserve data released on Thursday showed.

The average or “effective” federal funds rate came in at 2.41 percent on Wednesday, higher than the 2.40 percent interest rate the U.S. central bank pays on the excess reserves that banks leave with it.

(Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Source: OANN

A man passes by the corner stone on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in the financial district in New York
FILE PHOTO: A man passes by the corner stone on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in the financial district in New York City, U.S., March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

March 21, 2019

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The average borrowing cost for U.S. banks to borrow excess reserves from each other rose above what the Federal Reserve pays on excess reserves for the first time ever on Wednesday, New York Federal Reserve data released on Thursday showed.

The average or “effective” federal funds rate came in at 2.41 percent on Wednesday, higher than the 2.40 percent interest rate the U.S. central bank pays on the excess reserves that banks leave with it.

(Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Source: OANN

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the death anniversary of the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in Tehran
FILE PHOTO: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the death anniversary of the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in Tehran, Iran, June 4, 2017. TIMA via REUTERS

March 21, 2019

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran is determined to boost its defence capabilities despite mounting pressure from the United States and its allies to curb its ballistic missile programme, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Thursday.

“We need to take Iran to a point that enemy understand that they cannot threaten Iran … America’s sanctions will make Iran self-sufficient,” Khamenei said in a speech broadcast live on state TV.

President Donald Trump withdrew the United States last May from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers, saying it gave too much away to Iran, and reimposed far-reaching U.S. sanctions.

The U.S. sanctions aim to force Iran to accept tougher restrictions on its nuclear work, drop its ballistic missile program and scale back support for militant proxies in Middle East conflicts from Yemen to Syria.

Khamenei said the European signatories of the deal had failed to maintain Iran’s interests.

“They have stabbed Iran in the back … The Western countries have proved they cannot be trusted,” he said in the speech in the holy Shi’ite city of Mashhad.

The other signatories to the nuclear deal – Germany, France, Britain, the European Union, Russia and China – have remained committed to the agreement and have been trying to salvage the pact by a mechanism to circumvent Trump’s sanctions.

Iran says its missile programme is purely defensive and has rejected the curbs on it demanded by the United States. Tehran says it has missiles with a range of up to 2,000 km (1,250 miles), which puts Israel and U.S. military bases in the region within reach.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Frances Kerry)

Source: OANN

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the death anniversary of the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in Tehran
FILE PHOTO: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the death anniversary of the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in Tehran, Iran, June 4, 2017. TIMA via REUTERS

March 21, 2019

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran is determined to boost its defence capabilities despite mounting pressure from the United States and its allies to curb its ballistic missile programme, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Thursday.

“We need to take Iran to a point that enemy understand that they cannot threaten Iran … America’s sanctions will make Iran self-sufficient,” Khamenei said in a speech broadcast live on state TV.

President Donald Trump withdrew the United States last May from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers, saying it gave too much away to Iran, and reimposed far-reaching U.S. sanctions.

The U.S. sanctions aim to force Iran to accept tougher restrictions on its nuclear work, drop its ballistic missile program and scale back support for militant proxies in Middle East conflicts from Yemen to Syria.

Khamenei said the European signatories of the deal had failed to maintain Iran’s interests.

“They have stabbed Iran in the back … The Western countries have proved they cannot be trusted,” he said in the speech in the holy Shi’ite city of Mashhad.

The other signatories to the nuclear deal – Germany, France, Britain, the European Union, Russia and China – have remained committed to the agreement and have been trying to salvage the pact by a mechanism to circumvent Trump’s sanctions.

Iran says its missile programme is purely defensive and has rejected the curbs on it demanded by the United States. Tehran says it has missiles with a range of up to 2,000 km (1,250 miles), which puts Israel and U.S. military bases in the region within reach.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Frances Kerry)

Source: OANN

“On the advice of counsel, Mr. Stone will not produce the documents requested by the House Committee on the Judiciary,” Stone’s attorney wrote to Nadler in a letter reviewed by The Daily Caller, adding, “whether the documents requested by the House Committee on the Judiciary exist or not, they are subject to a Fifth Amendment claim.”

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 25: U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) listens during a House Rules Committee meeting at the U.S. Capitol February 25, 2019 in Washington, DC. The Democrat-led committee is meeting to consider a resolution to block the national emergency declaration that seeks to allow President Trump to shift spending to fund sections of a U.S.-Mexico border wall. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Stone’s attorney continued, “Mr. Stone’s invocation of his Fifth Amendment rights must be understood by all to be the assertion of a Constitutional right by an innocent citizen, who is currently defending his innocence, and one who denounces secrecy for the purposes of advancing innuendo.”

Stone instead noted that Nadler should seek relevant documents from the House Select Committee On Intelligence, where he testified in September 2017. Stone also pointed to the recent charges he faces from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office.  Stone was indicted on seven counts by Mueller’s team on charges of allegedly making false statements to Congress, tampering with a witness and obstructing a government investigation. (EXCLUSIVE: Trump Considers Reviewing FBI Policies After Stone Raid) 

Pictured is U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“As a current criminal defendant, with the presumption of innocence guaranteed to him, it is not in Mr. Stone’s best interest to participate in any additional proceedings, outside those in federal court, until the charges are resolved,” Stone said.

The indictment against Stone claims that a “senior official” on Trump’s 2016 campaign asked Stone to inquire with Wikileaks about possible impending releases of damaging information on Hillary Clinton in July 2016. Stone told The Daily Caller at the time of his indictment he is “unfamiliar” with the email referenced within Mueller’s indictment, but noted that perhaps it needed more context.

Nadler’s document requests to Stone included anything related to Michael Cohen, contacts with foreign governments, and his communications with Trump.

Source: The Daily Caller

A sign marks a Biogen facility in Cambridge
FILE PHOTO: A sign marks a Biogen facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S. January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

March 21, 2019

(Reuters) – Biogen and partner Eisai Co Ltd are ending two late-stage trials testing an Alzheimer’s drug, they said Thursday, marking the latest setback for an industry keen to develop treatments for the memory-robbing disease.

Shares in Biogen slid 25 percent to $81.60 in premarket trading.

The decision to discontinue the trials testing drug aducanumab was made after an independent data monitoring committee reported the drug was unlikely to be successful, the companies said. The recommendation was not based on safety concerns, they added.

After dozens of experimental Alzheimer’s drugs have failed in the recent past, there is a desperate need for a treatment that works.

The disease is the most common form of dementia that affects nearly 50 million people worldwide and is expected to rise to more than 131 million by 2050, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International.

Biogen said it would continue to develop other treatments for Alzheimer’s.

“This disappointing news confirms the complexity of treating Alzheimer’s disease and the need to further advance knowledge in neuroscience,” Biogen Chief Executive Officer Michel Vounatsos said.

“We will continue advancing our pipeline of potential therapies in Alzheimer’s disease.”

The companies, however, for now will also discontinue a mid-stage study and a long-term extension study of aducanumab.

(Reporting by Tamara Mathias in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

Source: OANN

Job seekers speak with potential employers at a City of Boston Neighborhood Career Fair on May Day in Boston
Job seekers speak with potential employers at a City of Boston Neighborhood Career Fair on May Day in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., May 1, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

March 21, 2019

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, pointing to still strong labor market conditions, though the pace of job growth has slowed after last year’s robust gains.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 221,000 for the week ended March 16, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Data for the prior week was revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.

The Labor Department said no states were estimated. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to 225,000 in the latest week. Claims have been drifting in the middle of their 200,000-253,000 range this year.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 1,000 to 225,000 last week.

The Federal Reserve held interest rates steady on Wednesday and its policymakers abandoned projections for further rate increases this year, noting that “the labor market remains strong but growth of economic activity has slowed from its solid rate in the fourth quarter.”

The unemployment rate is 3.8 percent and annual wage growth in February was the strongest since 2009.

The claims data covered the survey week for the nonfarm payrolls portion of March’s employment. The four-week average of claims fell 11,000 between the February and March survey periods, suggesting a pickup in job growth after hiring almost stalled last month.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by only 20,000 jobs in February, the fewest since September 2017. The slowdown followed big gains in December and January.

Average job growth has moderated to about 165,500 per month from 223,250 per month in 2018, reflecting a shortage of workers and softening economic growth as the stimulus from a $1.5 trillion tax cut package fades.

A trade war between the United States and China, as well as slowing global growth and uncertainty over Britain’s exit from the European Union, are also hurting domestic economic activity.

Thursday’s claims report showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid decreased 27,000 to 1.75 million for the week ended March 9.

The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims rose 6,000 to 1.77 million.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani Editing by Paul Simao)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Ford logo is seen at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan
FILE PHOTO: The Ford logo is seen at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

March 21, 2019

(Reuters) – Ford Motor Co said on Thursday its Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks would retire at the end of 2019.

Shanks, 66, will be succeeded by Tim Stone, who served 20 years at Amazon, and was the former CFO of Snap Inc.

Stone will join Ford on April 15 as a company officer and assume the role of chief financial officer on June 1, Ford said.

(Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: U.S. ambassador to Yemen on Capitol Hill in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Matthew Tueller, U.S. ambassador to Yemen on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

March 21, 2019

ADEN (Reuters) – The U.S. ambassador to Yemen blamed the Iran-aligned Houthi movement on Thursday for the stalling of a U.N.-led peace deal in the main port of Hodeidah and said the group’s weapons pose a threat to other countries in the region.

The Saudi-backed Yemeni government and the Houthis reached a ceasefire and troop withdrawal deal for Hodeidah, which is under Houthi control, at talks in Sweden in December. The pact was the first major breakthrough in efforts to end the four year war.

While the truce has largely held, the troop withdrawal by both parties has yet to materialize with each side blaming the other for lack of progress. The deal aimed to avert a full-scale assault on the port which is a lifeline for millions of Yemenis facing starvation.

“We are greatly frustrated by what we see as delays and stalling on the part of the Houthis in implementing what they agreed to in Sweden, but I have great confidence in the UN envoy and what he is doing,” ambassador Matthew Tueller told a televised news conference in the southern port of Aden, where the internationally recognized government is based.

“We are willing to work with others in order to try to implement these (Sweden) agreements and see whether the Houthis can in fact demonstrate a political maturity and start to serve the interests of Yemen rather than acting on behalf of those who seek to weaken and destroy Yemen,” he said.

Tueller said he had “not given up hope” that the deal would be implemented in Hodeidah, where thousands of Yemeni forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition are massed on the outskirts.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the war which pits the Houthis against other Yemeni factions backed by the Saudi-led coalition loyal to the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The Houthis ousted Hadi’s government from power in the capital Sanaa in late 2014.

The conflict is widely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Houthis, who control Sanaa and most population centers, deny being puppets of Tehran and say their revolution is against corruption.

The United States has sided with the Yemeni government against the Houthis and provides military support to the Saudi-led coalition, including help with targeting for Saudi air strikes.

“SEVERE DANGER” TO REGION

The Sunni Muslim coalition twice tried to seize the port last year in a bid to weaken the Houthis by cutting off their main supply line. The United Nations and aid groups fear a full-on offensive may disrupt operations at the port that handles the bulk of Yemen’s imports and trigger mass starvation.

The alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates accuses Iran of smuggling weapons, including missiles which have targeted Saudi cities, to the Houthis. The group and Tehran deny the accusations.

Tueller said the United States was working with Yemeni authorities to prevent arms smuggling from Iran and to strengthen local security institutions.

“The fact that there are groups that have weapons, including heavy weapons and even weapons that can threaten neighboring countries, and those weapons are not under the control of the institutions of the state – this is a severe danger to the region as well as to Yemen,” he said.

The United States does not support groups that “seek to divide Yemen”, Tueller said, in an apparent reference to southern separatists whose forces have been taking part in coalition operations under the leadership of the UAE.

The complex war has revived old strains between North and South Yemen, formerly separate countries which united into a single state in 1990. A separatist leader warned this month that any peace deal that fails to address the south’s wish for self-determination could trigger a new conflict.

(Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli and Ghaida Ghantous in Dubai; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: File photo of city workers walking past the Bank of England in the City of London
FILE PHOTO: City workers walk past the Bank of England in the City of London, Britain, March 29, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

March 21, 2019

By Andy Bruce and David Milliken

LONDON, March 21 – The Bank of England kept interest rates steady on Thursday and said most businesses felt as ready as they could be for a no-deal Brexit that would likely hammer economic growth and jobs.

The BoE said its nine rate-setters voted unanimously to keep interest rates on hold at 0.75 percent, just days before the world’s fifth-biggest economy could leave the European Union without a deal to smooth its way.

“The economic outlook will continue to depend significantly on the nature and timing of EU withdrawal,” the BoE said.

The central bank again said rates could move in either direction if there is a no-deal Brexit, as a sharp fall in the value of the pound could generate inflation pressure in addition to the broader economic shock.

Separately, the BoE published a survey of just under 300 companies that showed around 80 percent feel they are “ready” for a no-deal, no-transition Brexit — up from 50 percent in January.

A disorderly Brexit on March 29 remains possible as Prime Minister Theresa May waits to hear from Brussels on her request to delay Britain’s departure from the European Union by three months, to allow her to get her deal though parliament.

Many companies reported that there were “limits to the degree of readiness” that were possible in advance of a possible no-deal scenario, the BoE said.

“Indeed, the March survey also showed that respondents – even those that felt ‘ready’ – still expected output, employment and investment over the next 12 months to be significantly weaker under a ‘no deal, no transition’ Brexit,” the BoE said.

The minutes from the March meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) showed little change in tone since the central bank published its latest economic outlook in February.

Brexit uncertainty had created volatility in British asset prices and sterling, and was hurting businesses confidence and investment, the central bank said.

“The news in economic data has been mixed, but the MPC’s February … projections appear on track,” the minutes said.

“The broad-based softening in global GDP and trade growth has continued. Global financial conditions have eased, in part supported by announcements of more accommodative policies in some major economies.”

The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday brought its three-year drive to tighten monetary policy to an abrupt end, abandoning projections for any interest rate hikes this year amid signs of an economic slowdown.

And earlier this month, the European Central Bank announced new stimulus measures to prop up a still-fragile economy, promising to put off raising rates and to give banks access to more multi-year loans.

Last August the BoE raised rates for only the second time since before the global financial crisis.

On Thursday it stuck to plans for a further gradual increases in borrowing costs, but only once it has a clearer idea of what Brexit will mean for the world’s fifth-biggest economy.

Some members of the Monetary Policy Committee, including Governor Mark Carney, have said they would probably vote to cut rates if Britain leaves without a deal.

Most economists polled by Reuters expect rates to rise later this year if Brexit goes smoothly.

Private-sector business surveys suggest the economy has slowed sharply in the run-up to Brexit and as the world economy lost momentum.

Inflation in Britain is running just below the BoE’s 2 percent target but pay growth is running at its highest level in more than 10 years. The BoE said signs of strength in inflation pressure in the labor market were “notable”.

Source: OANN

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman stand next to the dedication plaque at the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman stand next to the dedication plaque at the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Young/Pool

March 21, 2019

By Dan Williams

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described Hezbollah on Wednesday as a risk to Middle East stability and conferred with Israel about the heavily armed, Iranian-backed Lebanese group ahead of a trip to Beirut.

Pompeo, who has been on a regional tour to promote the Trump administration’s hard tack against Iran, received a warning from Israel which worries it may again be in the sights of Hezbollah forces winding down their intervention in Syria’s war.

Meeting Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem, Pompeo listed Hezbollah, Palestinian Hamas and Yemen’s Houthis – all recipients of Iranian support – as “entities that present risks to Middle East stability and to Israel”.

“They are determined to wipe this country off the face of the planet and we have a moral obligation and a political one to prevent that from happening. You should know that the United States is prepared to do that,” Pompeo said in public remarks at the meeting.

For its part, Israel has carried out repeated air strikes on Hezbollah in Syria, where the Shi’ite Muslim militia – along with Russian air power – helped President Bashar al-Assad turn the tables against mainly Sunni Muslim rebels and militants.

In a speech broadcast on the Persian new year on Thursday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the Islamic Republic had successfully resisted “unprecedented, strong” U.S. sanctions.

Iran has faced economic hardship since U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew last year from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers and reimposed sanctions.

Focusing his remarks on Lebanon, Rivlin told Pompeo that its prime minister, Saad al-Hariri, “cannot say to anyone that Lebanon is separate from Hezbollah” – a reference to the group’s political clout in Beirut where it has ministers in the government as well as lawmakers in parliament.

“If some(thing) will happen from Lebanon toward Israel, we will hold Lebanon as the responsible (party)”, Rivlin said, speaking in English.

Washington also has been increasingly voicing concern at Hezbollah power, echoing Israel, whose forces were fought to a standstill by the militia in a 2006 Lebanon war.

Pompeo’s visit to Jerusalem was widely seen in Israel as a boost for Netanyahu, who enjoys a close relationship with Trump, just three weeks before a closely contested Israeli election.

In a further signal of solidarity with Israel, Pompeo was later scheduled, accompanied by Netanyahu, to visit Judaism’s Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.

In May 2017, Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the wall, but did not ask Netanyahu to join him.

Seven months later, Trump broke with decades of U.S. policy and recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, incensing Palestinians who claim the city’s eastern sector as the capital of a future state they seek.

Last May, Washington moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Pompeo also visited the embassy on Thursday.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Mark Heinrich)

Source: OANN

David Krayden | Ottawa Bureau Chief

Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is urging the Trump administration to take some “real action to stop gun violence” and ban assault weapons.

In a Thursday morning tweet, Sanders said the United States should emulate the recent actions of New Zealand, where this week’s mosque shootings that massacred 50 people have prompted the government to toughen already strict gun laws in the country.

“This is what real action to stop gun violence looks like. We must follow New Zealand’s lead, take on the NRA and ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons in the United States,” tweeted Sanders.

Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) takes the stage at a campaign rally in Concord, New Hampshire, U.S., March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) takes the stage at a campaign rally in Concord, New Hampshire, U.S., March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

(RELATED: The Key To Winning In 2020 Will Be Properly Explaining Socialism, Says Bernie Sanders)

Sanders cites an article in the Washington Post that details the “action” in New Zealand, where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Thursday that her government was banning semiautomatics six days after shootings in two Christchurch mosques that killed 50 people. Police say the attacker was prepared for another assault.

Arden said she plans to buyback weapons that are already in circulation and prosecute anybody who doesn’t comply with the ban.

“On 15 March, our history changed forever. Now, our laws will, too,” Ardern said, according to the Post. “We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place.”

Supporters listen as Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Sanders is introduced in Concord

Supporters listen as Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is introduced at a campaign rally in Concord, New Hampshire, U.S., March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder.

Sanders comes from a rural state where gun ownership is high and hunting popular. Although he was reluctant to promote wide gun control as a senator, the senator supported an assault weapons ban in 1994. (RELATED: Bernie Sanders’ New Speechwriter Lauded The ‘Economic Miracle’ Of Venezuelan Socialism)

His position hardened in the wake of the Parkland shootings in February 2018, when a student killed 17 of his peers. Sanders was a popular speaker at Parkland rallies that advocated increased gun control in America.

Follow David on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

David Krayden | Ottawa Bureau Chief

Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is urging the Trump administration to take some “real action to stop gun violence” and ban assault weapons.

In a Thursday morning tweet, Sanders said the United States should emulate the recent actions of New Zealand, where this week’s mosque shootings that massacred 50 people have prompted the government to toughen already strict gun laws in the country.

“This is what real action to stop gun violence looks like. We must follow New Zealand’s lead, take on the NRA and ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons in the United States,” tweeted Sanders.

Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) takes the stage at a campaign rally in Concord, New Hampshire, U.S., March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) takes the stage at a campaign rally in Concord, New Hampshire, U.S., March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

(RELATED: The Key To Winning In 2020 Will Be Properly Explaining Socialism, Says Bernie Sanders)

Sanders cites an article in the Washington Post that details the “action” in New Zealand, where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Thursday that her government was banning semiautomatics six days after shootings in two Christchurch mosques that killed 50 people. Police say the attacker was prepared for another assault.

Arden said she plans to buyback weapons that are already in circulation and prosecute anybody who doesn’t comply with the ban.

“On 15 March, our history changed forever. Now, our laws will, too,” Ardern said, according to the Post. “We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place.”

Supporters listen as Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Sanders is introduced in Concord

Supporters listen as Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is introduced at a campaign rally in Concord, New Hampshire, U.S., March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder.

Sanders comes from a rural state where gun ownership is high and hunting popular. Although he was reluctant to promote wide gun control as a senator, the senator supported an assault weapons ban in 1994. (RELATED: Bernie Sanders’ New Speechwriter Lauded The ‘Economic Miracle’ Of Venezuelan Socialism)

His position hardened in the wake of the Parkland shootings in February 2018, when a student killed 17 of his peers. Sanders was a popular speaker at Parkland rallies that advocated increased gun control in America.

Follow David on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

A general view of the Norwegian central bank in Oslo
FILE PHOTO: A general view of the Norwegian central bank in Oslo, Norway March 6, 2018. REUTERS/Gwladys Fouche

March 21, 2019

By Nerijus Adomaitis and Terje Solsvik

OSLO (Reuters) – Norway’s central bank raised its main interest rate on Thursday, as expected, and said its next hike may come earlier then previously planned, strengthening the crown currency against the euro.

The bank raised its key policy rate to 1.0 percent from 0.75 percent previously, in line with the forecast of 23 out of 26 economists in a Reuters poll.

Norges Bank’s approach stands in contrast to those of the U.S. Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and others in Europe, which are keeping rates on hold due to rising uncertainty about the prospects for the global economy.

“Our current assessment of the outlook and balance of risks suggests that the policy rate will most likely be increased further in the course of the next half-year”, said Governor Oeystein Olsen.

“The rate path shows a greater probability of a rate hike than of an unchanged rate in June,” he added.

The new rate path shows the bank sees rates averaging 1.1 percent in 2019, against 1.0 percent seen previously, and 1.6 percent in 2020, against 1.4 percent before.

Following the unanimous decision, Norway’s currency, the crown, surged over one percent against the euro to trade at 9.6010 at 0913 GMT and was pushing toward its biggest one-day gain in over a year.

“As expected Norges Bank hiked the key rate today. The rate path was lifted in the front and indicates the next hike already at the June meeting,” Nordea Markets analyst Joachim Bernhardsen said in a note.

Oil-rich Norway stands alone among other developed economies in tightening monetary policy, thanks to rising crude prices and higher-than-anticipated economic growth and inflation.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve brought its three-year drive to tighten monetary policy to an abrupt end, abandoning projections for any interest rate hikes this year amid signs of an economic slowdown, and saying it would halt the steady decline of its balance sheet in September.

On Thursday, the Swiss National Bank kept in place its ultra-loose monetary policy, as anticipated by economists, and later in the day the Bank of England is also expected to announce unchanged rates amid continued uncertainty over Brexit.

Norges Bank raised its growth forecasts for 2019 and 2020 while predicting a sharper slowdown in the two following years, from 2.7 percent expansion this year to just 1.1 percent growth in 2022.

“How to balance global vs domestic factors? Front-load rate hikes in the path and take a wait-and-see approach regarding the long-end. Well done Norges Bank!” tweeted Erica Blomgren, fixed income strategist at SEB.

(Editing by Gwladys Fouche and Toby Chopra)

Source: OANN

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 20, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

March 21, 2019

By Amy Caren Daniel

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures were subdued on Thursday, a day after the Federal Reserve abandoned projections for any interest rate hikes this year amid signs of an economic slowdown.

At the conclusion of its two-day monetary policy meeting on Wednesday, the central bank brought its three-year drive to tighten monetary policy to an abrupt end, and released details of a plan to end the monthly reduction of its balance sheet.

Shares of U.S. lenders, which are sensitive to interest rates, took a hit after the statement.

Citigroup Inc, Bank of America Corp and JPMorgan Chase & Co fell between 0.10 and 0.47 percent in light premarket trading on Thursday.

“The decision by the Fed to go all in on the dovish pivot caught markets off guard, with investors expecting a more cautious and gradual approach from a central bank that typically errs on the more hawkish side,” Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda in London, wrote in a note.

“Whether this is a sign that policy makers are genuinely concerned about the economy in 2019 or that they’ve finally bowed to external pressure, it’s certainly a bold move.”

A dovish Fed and hopes of a resolution to the ongoing trade war between United States and China have spurred a rally in stocks this year, with the S&P 500 now about 4 percent away from its record closing high in September.

Investors will now keep a close watch on trade talks between the United States and China as U.S. trade delegates travel to Beijing to resume negotiations.

President Donald Trump warned on Wednesday that Washington may leave tariffs on Chinese goods for a “substantial period” to ensure that Beijing complies with any trade agreement.

At 6:37 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 18 points, or 0.07 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were down 0.5 points, or 0.02 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 10.5 points, or 0.14 percent.

Among stocks, Micron Technology Inc rose 3.6 percent after the chipmaker said it sees a recovery in the memory chip market coming and reported a quarterly profit that beat estimates.

Boeing Co slipped 0.4 percent after pressure mounted on the world’s largest planemaker in Washington as U.S. lawmakers called for executives to testify about two crashed 737 MAX jets.

Economic data on tap includes initial claims for state unemployment benefits, which are expected to have fallen to 225,000 in the week ended March 16 from 229,000 in the previous week. The data is due at 8:30 a.m. ET.

(Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

Source: OANN


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