U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to declare the situation on the border with Mexico a national emergency, in a move that would grant him vast powers and would likely be contested in Congress and in the courts.
 
Some members of Trump’s own Republican Party have expressed concerns about the national emergency, fearing both a degradation of the role of Congress and setting a precedent.
 
Democrats have long argued there is a humanitarian issue at the border but there is no national emergency.
 
The national emergency comes at the end of a process which saw Trump largely lose to Congress over funding for his proposed vast expansion of the border wall.
 
Trump pushed the federal government into the longest shutdown in history, ending last month after 35 days.
 
Trump announced his intention a day before funding for the government was again set to run out and as Congress was approving appropriations, but without cash for Trump’s wall.
 
The president has agreed to sign the funding bill and keep government open.
 
Trump is expected to take executive action to announce funding for the wall from alternative funds.
 
The entire process is being denounced by Democrats as a blatant attempt to bypass Congress, which is constitutionally viewed as having the power of the purse.
 
The appropriations bill has set aside 1.375 billion dollars for physical barriers on the border.
 
Trump campaigned on the border wall and pledged Mexico would pay for it.
 
He was also once a fierce critic of former president Barack Obama when he took executive action, evading Congress.
 
 
Oil prices fell by around 1 per cent on Monday as drilling activity in the United States, the world’s largest oil producer, picked up and financial markets were pulled down by trade concerns.
 
A refinery fire in the U.S. state of Illinois, which resulted in the shutdown of a large crude distillation unit, that could cause crude demand to fall also weighed on prices, traders said.
 
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at 52.09 dollars per barrel at 0347 GMT, down 63 cents, or 1.2 per cent, from their last settlement.
 
International Brent crude oil futures were down 49 cents, or 0.8 per cent , at 61.61 dollars a barrel.
 
In the United States, energy firms last week increased the number of oil rigs operating for the second time in three weeks, a weekly report by Baker Hughes said on Friday.
 
Companies added seven oil rigs in the week to Feb. 8, bringing the total count to 854, pointing to a further rise in U.S. crude production, which already stands at a record 11.9 million bpd.
 
WTI prices were also weighed down by the closure of a 120,000-barrels-per-day (bpd) crude distillation unit (CDU) at Phillips 66’s Wood River, Illinois, refinery following a fire on Sunday.
 
Elsewhere, the head of Russian oil giant Rosneft, Igor Sechin, has written to the Russian President Vladimir Putin saying Moscow’s deal with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to withhold output is a strategic threat and plays into the hands of the United States.
 
The so-called OPEC+ deal has been in place since 2017, aimed at reining in a global supply overhang.
 
It has been extended several times and, under the latest deal, participants are cutting output by 1.2 million bpd until the end of June.
 
OPEC and its allies will meet on April 17 and 18 in Vienna to review the pact. Analysts said economic concerns were also weighing on crude oil futures.
 
Vandana Hari of Vanda Insights said in a note that crude prices were dragged down “as China returned from a week-long Lunar New Year holiday and regional stock markets plunged into the red amid resurgent concerns over the U.S.-China trade dispute.”
 
Trade talks between the Washington and Beijing resume this week with a delegation of U.S. officials travelling to China for the next round of negotiations.
 
The United States has threatened to increase tariffs already imposed on goods from China on March 1 if the trade talks do not produce an agreement.
 
Preventing crude prices from falling further have been U.S. sanctions on Venezuela, targeting its state-owned oil firm Petroleos de Venezeula SA (PDVSA).
 
“The issues in Venezuela continue to support prices. Reports are emerging that PDVSA is scrambling to secure new markets for its crude after the U.S. placed additional sanctions on the country,” ANZ bank said on Monday.
 
 
Source: PmNews
US President Donald Trump has named senior Treasury Department official David Malpass to lead the World Bank.
 
If approved, he is expected to push the bank to narrow the focus of its lending to the world's poorest countries, among other changes.
 
His nomination has stirred debate, as some worry that Mr Malpass, a critic of the bank, will seek to reduce its role.
 
White House officials said Mr Malpass, a long-time Republican, would be a "pro-growth reformer".
 
At a press conference in Washington, Mr Trump praised Mr Malpass as a "strong advocate for accountability at the World Bank for a long time".
 
The president, who frequently criticises multilateral institutions, said he expected Mr Malpass to ensure that the bank's dollars "are spent effectively and wisely, serve American interests and defend American values."
 
The White House describes Mr Malpass as a "pro-growth reformer"
Who is David Malpass?
Mr Malpass, a Trump loyalist, was a senior economic adviser to the US president during his 2016 election campaign.
 
He has served as the Treasury Department's undersecretary for international affairs since August 2017.
 
The 62-year-old has criticised the World Bank, along with other institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, for being "intrusive" and "entrenched".
 
He has also pushed the bank to reduce its lending to China, which he says is too wealthy to deserve such aid, and deploys harsh practices when lending to other countries.
 
Who is Trump's World Bank pick Malpass?
The US, the World Bank's largest shareholder and a major source of its funding, has traditionally held sway over the selection process for president.
 
An American has led the institution since its start in the 1940s, when it was created to help rebuild Europe in the aftermath of World War II.
 
However, there has been increased pressure to diversify the bank's leadership, reflecting the economic rise of other countries in recent decades.
 
Counting the votes
It is not clear if other countries will propose alternatives to challenge Mr Malpass for the presidency.
 
The World Bank, which has 189 members, is accepting names until 14 March and plans to create a shortlist of up to three candidates for interviews.
 
Its executive board expects to vote on candidates before its April meeting.
 
The US controls 16% of the 25-member board's voting power.
 
European shareholders, who control another significant chunk of voting power, are also unlikely to block the pick, according to News reports.
 
The World Bank helped to fund repairs of the Kariba Dam
White House officials said Mr Malpass would champion "pro-growth" policies, emphasising the role of the private sector, increased lending transparency and more "competitive" tax systems.
 
He will also oversee implementation of reforms the US pushed last year, which coupled an increase in money for the bank with changes aimed at reducing lending to China.
 
Officials said Mr Malpass's nomination did not signal a lack of support for the organisation, which helps finance development projects with loans, credits and grants, committing more than $60bn (£46.3bn) in its most recent financial year,
 
However, they said the administration did want to see changes to make it more effective.
 
"Sometimes that does require real reform and modernising ways of doing business," a senior administration official said during a background briefing with reporters.
 
The World Bank's search was triggered by the unexpected resignation of Jim Yong Kim
If approved, Mr Malpass would replace Jim Yong Kim, a doctor and former president of Dartmouth University, who unexpectedly resigned last month.
 
Mr Kim, whose tenure had been rocky, is joining a private equity fund.
 
 
Source: PmNews
The dollar held steady against its peers on Wednesday, showing little reaction to U.S. President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address which touched upon trade and budget issues but provided investors with few surprises.
 
In an annual speech on Tuesday outlining his priorities for the coming year, President Trump said that illegal immigration was an urgent national crisis and reiterated his vow to build a border wall.
 
Trump also said any trade agreement with China “must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit, and protect American jobs.”
 
The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was little changed at 96.072, after briefly touching a near two-week high of 96.135.
 
“Trump’s address did not contain surprises. He did not, for example, declare a state of emergency (over border funding) nor make surprising comments about China,” said Ayako Sera, senior market economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust.
 
“The fall by the Australian dollar appears to have generated more attention,” Sera added.
 
The Australian dollar tumbled after central bank chief Philip Lowe opened the door to a possible rate cut after more than a year of signaling tighter future policy.
 
In his first public speech of the year, Lowe said rates could go in either direction, depending on the labor market and inflation.
 
The Aussie dollar was last down 1 per cent at $0.7165.
 
The Reserve Bank of Australia has left its official cash rate at a record low of 1.50 per cent since August 2016 and Governor Lowe had repeatedly emphasized the next move was more likely to be up.
 
The euro was little changed at $1.1400 after slipping 0.25 per cent the previous day to its lowest since Jan. 28.
 
The single currency was pressured after a survey released on Tuesday showed euro zone businesses expanded at their weakest rate since mid-2013 at the start of the year.
 
The dollar edged down 0.15 per cent to 109.78 yen after posting a gain of 0.4 per cent overnight.
 
While the Japanese currency’s big gains against the downtrodden Aussie was seen as a factor weighing on dollar/yen, the greenback stayed in reach of a five-week peak of 110.165 yen reached on Monday.
 
The dollar has been managed to hold its ground although U.S. Treasury yields declined the previous day and pulled back from one-week highs.
 
“The dollar is managing to draw support in spite of lower Treasury yields thanks to a combination of a dovish-sounding Federal Reserve and U.S. data, which has been relatively strong on the whole recently,” said Shusuke Yamada, chief Japan FX and equity strategist at Bank Of America Merrill Lynch.
 
The Australian dollar was down more than 1 per cent at 78.66 yen.
 
The pound remained on the back foot following a slump overnight. The currency was a shade lower at $1.2950 after brushing $1.2923, its lowest since Jan. 22.
 
Sterling had lost nearly 0.7 per cent on Tuesday on a weak Purchasing Managers’ Index data and uncertainty about Brexit talks.
 
UK cabinet ministers have secretly held talks on plans to delay Brexit by eight weeks, the Telegraph newspaper reported late on Tuesday.
 
The delay would postpone Brexit to May 24. Currently, Britain is due to leave the European Union on March 29. 
 
 
Source: Reuters
 
In a bid to contain the increasing number of refugees and asylum seekers wanting to illegally force their way to greener pastures, the US has deployed an additional 2,000 troops to its border with Mexico.
 
That much information was revealed by the Pentagon which noted that the addition will bring the total number of troops stationed on the southern border to about 4,300.
 
The Pentagon added that the soldiers would help border-patrol agents, carry out surveillance work and install miles of razor wire.
 
In addition, the US defence department said 3,750 extra soldiers would be sent to the border, although many will replace troops already there. The first deployments took place in November.
 
“Additional units are being deployed for 90 days, and we will continue to evaluate the force composition required to meet the mission to protect and secure the southern border,” a Pentagon statement said.
 
The move by the Pentagon comes after President Donald Trump battled Congress for funds to build a wall along the border saying such a measure is needed to stop illegal immigration.
 
 
Source: Routers
Embattled president of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro is claiming that US president Donald Trump is out to kill him by ordering his assassination.
 
Maduro, 56, made the submission an interview with Moscow’s RIA news agency as his main global backer Russia called on Wednesday for mediation in a standoff deepening geopolitical splits.
 
“Donald Trump has without doubt given an order to kill me and has told the government of Colombia and the Colombian mafia to kill me,” Maduro said, reprising a constant accusation of his and Chavez’s over the years.
 
Maduro’s comments comes hours after the country’s Supreme Court placed a travel ban on opposition leader Juan Gaido whose accounts were also frozen.
 
 
Source: NAN
The first-ever report on the health of refugees and migrants in Europe revealed that they tend to be healthier than the residents of host countries.
 
Australia has announced the last four children still in Nauru detention centre will soon be moved to the US after the two countries struck a deal.
 
Nauru is a tiny island country, covering just 21km2, located northeast of Australia and close to the equator where hot and humid temperatures prevail all year.
 
It was one of two camps where refugees and asylum seekers were put after Australia announced five years ago that anyone who tried to claim asylum after arriving by sea would never be allowed to settle.
 
Scheer says Trudeau damaged ‘integrity’ of immigration system
 
Andrew Scheer says a 2017 tweet by Justin Trudeau welcoming refugees to Canada has weakened the immigration system. The Tory leader says irregular border crossings lead to longer waits for those hoping to immigrate “the right way.”
 
"Every asylum seeker child has now been removed from Nauru or has had their claim processed and has a clear path off the island," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday.
 
Women, families and children were held on Nauru, while single men were kept on Manus, an island belonging to Papua New Guinea (PNG), where some of them were kept for five years.
 
New Zealand 'back door'
 
At least 46 children were born on Nauru.
 
"Over the past five months, we've been working quietly and methodically to remove children from Nauru. Today, there are only four children on Nauru and they will resettle permanently in the US," David Coleman, Australian Immigration minister, told reporters.
 
When Morrison took over as prime minister last August, there were 113 asylum-seeking children on Nauru.
 
The US agreed in 2016 to accept up to 1 250 refugees from Nauru and Papua New Guinea, but the vast majority of them have not yet been accepted.
 
New Zealand has also offered to take some of the refugees, but Australia has declined the offer because it fears that would allow asylum seekers to enter through the "back door".
 
Australia has stopped publishing data on the number of refugees held in the centres. Local media and refugee advocates estimate close to 1 000 people are currently held.
 
According to David Manne, legal expert with the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre, Sunday's announcement is good news for the children but said Australia still had no policy on what to do with ones who might arrive in the future.
 
"After years and years of around 200 children being sent from Australia to Nauru and being held in cruel and degrading conditions, finally they can rebuild their lives after the devastating harm that has been caused to them," Manne said.
 
"Any future arrivals under the Australian policy would resolve in other children being held in the same kind of inhuman conditions. What we don't have is any significant and detailed shift in Australian policy if asylum seekers were to assert their fundamental human rights to seek asylum."
 
 
Source:News24

The United States said on Thursday it was imposing visa restrictions on Ghana, accusing the African country of not cooperating in accepting its citizens ordered removed from the United States.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “has ordered consular officers in Ghana to implement visa restrictions on certain categories of visa applicants,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement.

“Without an appropriate response from Ghana, the scope of these sanctions may be expanded to a wider population,” the statement said.

“Ghana has failed to live up to its obligations under international law to accept the return of its nationals ordered removed from the United States,” said DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

“We hope the Ghanaian government will work with us to reconcile these deficiencies quickly,” she said.

United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Stuart Symington on Tuesday said Nigeria should get the 2019 elections right in order not to disappoint those that looked up to it after the feat recorded in 2015.

 Symington made the remarks when he paid a visit to the Police Command in Kaduna.

“The State of Kaduna is an important place during this election. I am here to underscore a couple of key ideas.

 “The first being that these elections are really about Nigerians, decided by Nigerians under it’s laws which will define the future of Nigeria.

 “The election is also for others who have looked up to Nigeria’s example of democracy in the past especially if it would be as good as that of the elections of 2015.” 

He therefore said it was important for Nigerians to decide on the election’s credibility like they did in 2015, “so that it’s credit will be invested in democracy and freedom throughout West Africa and across the entire World.” 

He urged Nigerians to also interrogate politicians using hate speeches and disseminating fake news, as they are capable of dividing or causing problems among the people. 

“These kinds of negative speeches can have negative impacts in the future. 

“There are other people who have pointed fingers at those who are saying the elections would come out wrong, saying the elections can be right if every citizen of Nigeria act on the understanding that they are individually responsible for anything they get from the polls”, he stressed. 

He noted that so far, there has been cheering commitments from President Muhammadu Buhari and other leading candidates contesting to rule the country, to ensure that every vote counts. 

The U.S ambassador added that people must take responsibility for their actions, “first before God, second under the laws of the country, in the eyes of countrymen and lastly in the eyes of the world.” 

Symington therefore encouraged all Nigerians to participate peacefully in the elections, to guarantee free, fair, peaceful and a credible honest reflection of their choice.

Source:. (NAN)

In Washington this week, the US and China are due to hold their highest level talks since the two sides struck a temporary truce to their trade war.
 
They have until 1 March to come up with some sort of compromise or tariffs will be hiked again, and we march back into a trade fight that affects us all.
 
China watchers tell me Beijing is under increasing pressure to make a deal.
 
Here's why:
 
A slowing economy:
The trade war may not have caused China's slowdown, but it is definitely making things worse.
 
Growth data released last week showed China posted the slowest growth rate since 1990 but that in itself is not as worrying as other data points, including that consumer sentiment and retail sales are flatlining or weakening fast.
 
Small and medium-sized companies in China are feeling the chill with lower orders and inventories.
 
How worrying is China's slowdown?
A quick guide to the US-China trade war
Just how much pressure the Communist Party is facing because of a weakening economy was reflected in a rare acknowledgement by President Xi Jinping, whose legitimacy is based in part in keeping China strong.
 
Losing its factory lustre?
There is also evidence to show that foreign firms are diversifying their sourcing, production and supply chains away from China, if not pulling out altogether.
 
This recent survey conducted by QIMA, a leading Asian supply chain auditor, shows that 30% of more than 100 global businesses are diverting their sourcing from China to other countries.
 
As many as three-quarters of these companies have started sourcing suppliers in new countries.
 
If this trend continues then jobs in Chinese factories are at risk - a recent report looking at China's economy by JP Morgan points to rising unemployment as a major near-term risks.
 
Social stability is predicated on China's economic stability, and the Communist Party is well aware that its credibility lies in delivering the Chinese dream to its people.
 
The Huawei factor:
The fate of Huawei also hangs in the balance, both from a business and diplomatic standpoint.
 
China is big on symbolism and "doesn't believe in coincidences" Einar Tangen, an advisor on economic affairs for the Chinese government, told me on the line from Beijing.
 
Mr Tangen pointed to the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei founder, which took place on the day President Xi and US President Donald Trump met at the G20 summit and declared the temporary truce between the two sides, setting the 90 day deadline for talks.
 
What's going on with Huawei?
The Huawei exec trapped in a gilded cage
Another date looms next week, with the latest round of talks taking place on the day the US has to file the extradition treaty for Ms Meng.
 
"Both of these dates are seen as attempts by the US to use Huawei as leverage in the trade talks," says Mr Tangen.
 
The US is also reportedly preparing an investigation into Huawei which could see it banned from buying American chips, a move that crippled China's ZTE last year.
 
Mr Tangen warns that pushing Beijing will backfire.
 
"The Chinese see this as the US trying to push China down," he says.
 
"This is not about right or wrong. They view this in context of the 100 years of humiliation they suffered at the hands of the West and they don't want that repeated."
 
American firms want a deal But the US is also under pressure to make a deal.
 
American firms in China have complained about the impact of Trump's tariffs on their business but want the US to make a good deal.
 
"This administration has been willing to risk the health of the US economy with tariffs," says Stephen Kho, international trade partner at law firm Akin Gump in Washington DC.
 
"So now that we've come this far, businesses want to take advantage of this moment and walk away from these talks with something significant. They will want to see China's offer to buy more American goods along with promises of systemic changes."
 
A solution to the US-China trade war is good for us all.
 
The longer these two superpowers slap tariffs on each other's goods, the more expensive products will be for us, companies will report lower profits, and global growth will slow.
 
Both sides are under pressure to make a deal. But this is ultimately, as Mr Kho also points out, "a game of chicken." Whoever blinks first could also be the biggest loser.
 
 
Source: Business Insider
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