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Displaying items by tag: United States

The United States of America has warned that widespread vote-buying could mar the general elections.
 
The US Deputy Ambassador Jonathan Cohen, who spoke on Thursday during a United Nations Security Council meeting on West Africa, urged politicians, civil society groups and community leaders to ensure that the election was free and fair.
 
Cohen said, “The United States sees a risk that widespread vote-buying could challenge the integrity of the election process.
 
“We are concerned about reports of intimidation and partisanship by security forces, heightened insecurity and inability of internally displaced persons or persons with disabilities to vote.”
 
Chambas said “tensions are high” in Nigeria ahead of the vote, but that prospects for peaceful elections had brightened with the signing of an accord last month in which parties pledged to support calm and order.
 
According to the time table released by the Independent National Electoral Commission, the presidential and parliamentary elections will hold on February 16, while the gubernatorial and state assembly elections will hold on March 2.
 
President Muhammadu Buhari, who in 2015 became the first opposition candidate to defeat a sitting president in Nigeria, is hoping to secure a second four-year term in the elections as he faces a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar.
 
In all, 71 candidates are vying for the presidency.
 
Recalled that the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral commission, Mahmood Yakubu, said a number of measures had been taken to combat vote-buying, which had been widespread in recent gubernatorial elections.
 
In the Ekiti governorship election last year, both the ruling and opposition parties were accused of offering voters cash for their voter cards.
 
During the primaries to pick presidential contenders, some candidates, including Abubakar, were accused of offering financial inducements to delegates for their support.
 
 
Source: PunchNg
Published in World
American Breweries can't get labels approved for new beers.
 
The US federal agency in charge of approving the labels has been closed as a result of the government shutdown in that country.
"We release new beers every other week," said Laura Dierks, CEO and founder of Interboro. "Right now, we're looking at not being to sell beer in February because of this."
 
Delays could persist even when the government resumes normal functioning. "It's almost certain there will be a backlog when the shutdown ends," said Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers' Association, a trade group representing breweries.
The American government shutdown is threatening to halt new beer releases from breweries across the US.
 
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approves labels and, in some cases, recipes for new concoctions of beer, wine, and spirits. The federal agency has been closed as a result of the shutdown, triggered by US President Donald Trump's insistence that US legislators approve funding for a border fence he promised Mexico would pay for.
 
Brooklyn, New York-based Interboro Spirits and Ales is already feeling the impact of the agency's closure.
 
"We release new beers every other week," said Laura Dierks, CEO and founder of Interboro. "Right now, we're looking at not being to sell certain beer in February because of this."
 
Dierks can continue selling new beers within New York state, but in order to sell across state lines, she needs federal approval.
 
"We're dependent on that revenue," she said.
 
The shutdown is also delaying the permitting process for breweries that have applied to open new locations.
 
Even if the shutdown ends soon, delays could persist for weeks.
 
"It's almost certain there will be a backlog when the shutdown ends," said Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers' Association, a trade group representing breweries.
 
Breweries can continue submitting their requests for approval on new labels, recipes, and locations during the shutdown. But none of them will be processed until the shutdown ends.
 
 
Source: Business Insider
Published in Business
Wednesday, 09 January 2019 16:02

Oil rises 1% on U.S., China trade talk optimism

Oil prices rose by around 1 per cent on Wednesday, extending gains from the previous session on hopes that Washington and Beijing may soon resolve trade disputes that have cast a dark shadow over the global economy.
 
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures CLc1 were at $50.42 per barrel at 0752 GMT, up 64 cents, or 1.3 per cent, from their last settlement.
 
That marked the first time this year that WTI has topped $50 a barrel.
 
International Brent crude futures LCOc1 were up 69 cents, or 1.2 per cent, at $59.41 per barrel.
 
Both crude price benchmarks had already gained more than 2 per cent in the previous session.
 
“Crude continues to extend gains as early reports from Beijing, regarding trade negotiations, are fuelling optimism around successful trade talks between the U.S. and China,’’ said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore.
 
“After a dreadful December for risk markets, crude oil continues to catch a positive vibe,’’ Innes said.
 
The oil price jumps were in line with Asian stock markets, which climbed to 3-1/2 week highs on Wednesday.
 
Trade talks in Beijing between the world’s two biggest economies entered the third day on Wednesday, amid signs of progress on issues including purchases of U.S. farm and energy commodities and increased U.S. access to China’s markets.
 
State newspaper China Daily said on Wednesday that Beijing is keen to put an end to its trade dispute with the United States, but that it will not make any “unreasonable concessions” and that any agreement must involve compromise on both sides.
 
If no deal is reached by March 2, Trump has said he will proceed with raising tariffs to 25 per cent from 10 per cent on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports at a time when China’s economy is slowing significantly.
 
Citing the trade tensions, the World Bank expects global economic growth to slow to 2.9 per cent in 2019 from three per cent in 2018.
 
“At the beginning of 2018 the global economy was firing on all cylinders, but it lost speed during the year and the ride could get even bumpier in the year ahead,’’ World Bank Chief Executive Officer, Kristalina Georgieva, said in a semi-annual report released late on Tuesday.
 
More fundamentally, however, oil prices have been receiving support from supply cuts started at the end of 2018 by a group of producers around the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as well as a non-OPEC member, Russia.
 
The OPEC-led cuts are aimed at reining in an emerging supply overhang, in part because U.S. crude oil output (C-OUT-T-EIA) surged by around two million barrels per day (bpd) in 2018, to a record 11.7 million bpd.
 
Official U.S. fuel storage data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) is due at 1800 GMT on Wednesday.
 
 
 
Source: The Reuters
Published in Business
A Chinese defense industrial giant recently showed off a Chinese version of the US military's GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), which is more commonly called the "Mother of All Bombs."
The unnamed weapon developed by China North Industries Group Corporation Limited is said to be China's largest non-nuclear weapon.
Much smaller and lighter than the US MOAB, which is delivered by C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, China's weapon is dropped by the H-6K bombers.
China's got a new bomb, and it's a really big one.
 
A major Chinese defense industry corporation has, according to Chinese media, developed a deadly new weapon for China's bombers.
 
Referred to it as the "Chinese version of the 'Mother of All Bombs,'" this massive aerial bomb is reportedly China's largest non-nuclear bomb, the Global Times explained Thursday, citing a report from the state-run Xinhua News Agency.
 
People's Liberation Army Air Force's bomber H-6K is on display on the opening day of the Airshow China 2018 on November 6, 2018 in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province of China.
The weapon, said to weigh several tons, was developed by China North Industries Group Corporation Limited. A recent promotional video showed the weapon in action. The video, which was apparently released at the end of December, marked the first public display of this particular weapon.
 
Carried by the Chinese Xi'an H-6K bombers, which is a version of the older Soviet Tupolev Tu-16 bombers, the weapon almost completely fills the bomb bay, which would make it roughly five to six meters in length.
 
Chinese military analysts and observers argue that China's large bomb could eliminate fortified targets, clear out landing areas, and terrify enemy combatants.
 
Indeed, massive airdropped bombs with tremendous destructive power play an undeniable role in psychological warfare, and not just through seismic shock. During the Gulf War, two US MC-130E Combat Talons dropped a pair of BLU-82 Daisy Cutters, the largest conventional bombs in the US arsenal at that time. A British SAS commando about 160km away reportedly radioed to headquarters, "Sir! The blokes have just nuked Kuwait!"
 
The next day, a US aircraft dropped leaflets that read: "You have just experienced the most powerful conventional bomb dropped in the war ... You will be bombed again soon ... You cannot hide. Flee and live, or stay and die."
 
The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb is pictured in this undated handout photo
Last year, while waging war against militants in Afghanistan, the US military dropped a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) weapon, more commonly known as the "Mother of All Bombs," on the Islamic State.Although China is using the same nickname for its bomb, the Chinese weapon is smaller and lighter than its American counterpart. Chinese media speculated that the size restrictions may have been intentional, ensuring the weapon could be dropped from a bomber.
 
The 11-ton US bomb is delivered by a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft.
 
 
Source: Business Insider
Published in World
Friday, 04 January 2019 05:01

US issues fresh travel warning to China

The US state department has urged Americans to “exercise increased caution” when travelling to China after a spate of high-profile detentions.
 
Its updated advice warns that US citizens have been arbitrarily prevented from leaving the country.
 
The warning comes as two Canadian citizens remain in detention in China.
 
Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were arrested last month as relations between the two countries worsened.
 
The pair face accusations of harming national security and, on Thursday, China’s top prosecutor said they had “without a doubt” violated the law.
 
Separately, three US citizens were accused of committing “economic crimes”and barred from leaving China in November.
 
Victor and Cynthia Liu, who are the children of a fugitive businessman, and their mother, Sandra Han, have reportedly been detained since June.
 
“US citizens may be detained without access to… consular services or information about their alleged crime,” the advisory reads.
 
“Individuals not involved in legal proceedings or suspected of wrongdoing have also been subjected to lengthy exit bans in order to compel their family members or colleagues to co-operate with Chinese courts,” the state department said in a separate warning issued last January.
 
The latest advice also warns of “special restrictions” on those who hold dual US-Chinese citizenship.
 
Dual-citizenship is not allowed under Chinese law, and the state department has warned that US-Chinese nationals can be detained and denied US assistance in China.
 
It advises travelling on a US passport with a valid Chinese visa and asking officials to notify the US embassy immediately if you are detained or arrested.
 
 
Source: PmNews
Published in World

China has opened the door to imports of rice from the United States for the first time ever in what analysts took to signal a warming of relations between the world's two biggest economies after a frosty year marked by tensions and tit-for-tat tariffs.

The green light from Chinese customs, indicated in a statement posted on the customs authority's website on Friday, comes in the run-up to talks between the countries in January after U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a moratorium on higher tariffs that would affect trade worth hundred of billions of dollars.

It was not immediately clear how much rice China, which sources rice imports from within Asia, might seek to buy from the United States. But the move, which comes after years of talks on the matter, follows pledges from China's commerce ministry of further U.S. trade openings earlier this week.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see importers trying to move rice into China from California but I don't know if it will be in breathtaking quantities right away," said Stuart Hoetger, an analyst and physical rice trader based in California.

As of Dec. 27, imports of brown rice, polished rice and crushed rice from the United States are now permitted, as long as cargoes meet China's inspection standards and are registered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA on Dec. 11 forecast U.S. rice production at 6.93 million tonnes while Chinese rice imports were estimated at 5 million tonnes. Rice makes up only a small portion of U.S. agricultural exports, which are dominated by shipments of soybeans, grain, tree nuts and meat.

U.S. rice futures had little reaction to the announcement, declining by 7 cents to $10.06 per cwt.

"The permission for U.S. rice suggests an improving U.S. and China relationship," said Cherry Zhang, an agriculture analyst with consultancy JCI. Zhang said she expected any imports would likely be ordered by state-owned companies.

Officials at a government-affiliated think tank in Beijing said the price of U.S. rice was not competitive, compared with imports from South Asia, and said the move to formally permit imports from the United States should be interpreted as a goodwill gesture. China opened its rice market when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, but a lack of phytosanitary protocol between China and the United States effectively banned imports, according to trade group USA Rice.

Nonetheless, in July China formally imposed additional tariffs of 25 percent on U.S. rice, even though imports were not permitted at the time.

 

Published in Agriculture
The attorney general for Washington, D.C. said on Wednesday the U.S. capital city had sued Facebook Inc for allegedly misleading users about how it safeguarded their personal data, in the latest fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
 
The world’s largest social media company has drawn global scrutiny since disclosing earlier this year that a third-party personality quiz distributed on Facebook gathered profile information on 87 million users worldwide.
 
It sold the data to British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
 
Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said Facebook misled users because it had known about the incident for two years before disclosing it.
 
The company had told users it vetted third-party apps, yet made few checks, Racine said.
 
Facebook said in a statement: “We’re reviewing the complaint and look forward to continuing our discussions with attorneys general in DC and elsewhere.”
 
Facebook could be levied a civil penalty of 5,000 dollars per violation of the region’s consumer protection law, or potentially close to $1.7 billion, if penalized for each consumer affected.
 
The lawsuit alleges the quiz software had data on 340,000 D.C. residents, though just 852 users had directly engaged with it.
 
Shares in the company were down 4.7 per cent in afternoon trade on Wednesday.
 
Privacy settings on Facebook to control what friends on the network could see and what data could be accessed by apps were also deceiving, Racine said.
 
“Facebook’s lax oversight and confusing privacy settings put the information of millions of consumers at risk,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
 
“In our lawsuit, we’re seeking to hold Facebook accountable for jeopardizing and exposing the information” of its customers.
 
Racine said Facebook had tried to settle the case before he filed the lawsuit, as is typical during investigations of large companies.
 
He described Facebook’s cooperation as “reasonable,” but said that a lawsuit was necessary “to expedite change” at the company.
 
At least six U.S. states have ongoing investigations into Facebook’s privacy practices, according to state officials.
 
In March, a bipartisan coalition of 37 state attorneys wrote to the company, demanding to know more about the Cambridge Analytica data and its possible links to U.S. President Donald Trump’s election campaign.
 
Also in March, the Federal Trade Commission took the unusual step of announcing that it had opened an investigation into whether the company had violated a 2011 consent decree.
 
It cited media reports that raise what it called “substantial concerns about the privacy practices of Facebook.”
 
If the FTC finds Facebook violated the decree terms, it has the power to fine it thousands of dollars a day per violation, which could add up to billions of dollars.
 
State attorneys general from both major U.S. political parties have stepped up their enforcement of privacy laws in recent years, said James Tierney.
 
Tierney is a lecturer at Harvard Law School and Maine’s former attorney general.
 
Uber Technologies Inc in September agreed to pay 148 million dollars as part of a settlement with 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., which investigated a data breach that exposed personal data from 57 million Uber accounts.
 
 
Source: PmNews
Published in Telecoms
U.S. companies likely maintained a solid pace of hiring in November while increasing wages for workers, suggesting the economy remains strong enough for the Federal Reserve to continue raising interest rates in 2019.
 
The Labor Department will publish its closely watched monthly employment report on Friday against a backdrop of a steep sell-off on Wall Street and a partial inversion of the U.S. yield curve, which have stoked fears of a recession.
 
Stocks have been mostly hurt by uncertainty whether a 90-day truce agreed by President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping over the weekend will hold and lead to a lasting easing of trade tensions between the world's two largest economies.
 
Nonfarm payrolls probably increased by 200,000 jobs last month, according to a survey of economists, after surging 250,000 in October. The unemployment rate is forecast steady at near a 49-year low of 3.7 percent.
 
Average hourly earnings are seen up 0.3 percent in November after gaining 0.2 percent in October. That would leave the annual increase in wages at 3.1 percent, matching October's jump, which was the biggest gain since April 2009.
 
A strong employment report would allay fears about the economy's health and increase the probability of the Fed raising interest rates more than once next year.
 
"Since the Fed is now very data-dependent, stronger data should give the market more confidence that the Fed will continue hiking in 2019," said Veronica Clark, an economist at Citigroup in New York. "We think the Fed will go twice next year."
 
Financial markets are pricing in one rate hike from the Fed in 2019, compared with expectations for possibly two rate hikes a month earlier, according to CME Group's FedWatch program. The U.S. central bank is expected to increase borrowing costs on Dec. 18-19 for the fourth time this year.
 
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell last month appeared to signal the central bank's three-year tightening cycle was drawing to a close, saying its policy rate was now "just below" estimates of a level that neither cools nor boosts a healthy economy.
 
Minutes of the Fed's November policy meeting published last week showed nearly all officials agreed another rate increase was "likely to be warranted fairly soon," but also opened debate on when to pause further hikes.
 
THE AMAZON EFFECT
 
Wage growth could surprise on the upside after online retail giant Amazon.com Inc raised its minimum wage to $15 per hour for U.S. employees last month in the face of tightening labor market conditions.
 
Soft October data on the housing market, business spending on equipment as well as a jump in the trade deficit to a 10-year high have heightened fears the economy is slowing.
 
Growth forecasts for the fourth quarter are around a 2.7 percent annualized rate. The economy grew at a 3.5 percent pace in the third quarter.
 
Job gains have averaged 212,500 per month this year, double the roughly 100,000 needed to keep up with growth in the working-age population. But there are signs of potential speed bumps ahead. The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits is near eight-month highs.
 
General Motors has announced plans to cut up to 15,000 jobs in North America next year, which will affect some assembly plants in the United States.
 
For now, the labor market is on solid footing and is seen supporting the economy through at least early 2019, after which growth is expected to significantly slow as the stimulus from the Trump administration's $1.5 trillion tax cut package fades.
 
"Even if layoffs are beginning to pick up in some areas, the fact that many industries are reporting worker shortages and unfilled vacancies suggests that aggregate payrolls could continue to expand," said Lou Crandall, chief economist of Wrightson ICAP LLC in Jersey City, New Jersey.
 
Hiring last month was likely across all sectors. An early Thanksgiving is expected to have boosted retail employment while transportation and warehousing payrolls probably rose, driven by seasonal hiring.
 
However, an unusually cold November probably slowed hiring at construction sites after companies added 30,000 workers to their payrolls in October.
 
Manufacturing employment is forecast increasing by 20,000 jobs last month after rising 32,000 in October.
 
 
Source: Business Insider
Published in Economy
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will lead negotiations with China over tariffs, market access and structural changes to intellectual property practices over the next 90 days, the White House has confirmed, potentially signaling a harder U.S. line.
 
On Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping declared a trade truce, agreeing to hold off on new tariffs following months of escalating tension. The two sides also agreed to negotiate over the next 90 days.
 
Lighthizer leading the talks marks a shift from the administration's previous approach to China trade talks that had been largely led by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Lighthizer, an experienced trade negotiator and having just completed a new agreement with Canada and Mexico, is one of the administration's most vocal China critics.
 
"Robert Lighthizer, the ambassador, USTR, is in charge of these negotiations," White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told National Public Radio. "He's the toughest negotiator we've ever had at the USTR and he's going to go chapter and verse and get tariffs down, non-tariff barriers down and end all these structural practices that prevent market access."
 
A White House official also confirmed the decision to have Lighthizer lead the negotiations.
 
Mnuchin had said the negotiations with China would be led by Trump, with an "inclusive team" of administration officials, including himself and other cabinet officials.
 
Mnuchin led some past rounds of talks due to his relationship as the counterpart to Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, the top economic adviser to Chinese President Xi Jinping. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also led a failed round of talks in Beijing in June, while mid-level Treasury officials hosted a round of discussions in August.
 
The White House said on Saturday that the talks would cover structural changes in China on forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft, services and agriculture.
 
Most of these issues were identified in USTR's "Section 301" investigation of China's intellectual property practices, which formed the basis of the U.S. tariffs imposed on Chinese goods.
 
Lighthizer said last week that China had failed to alter the "unfair, unreasonable" practices at the heart of the trade dispute.
 
 
Source: The Routers
Published in Business

The population of unauthorised immigrants in the United States fell to 10.7 million in 2016, its lowest level since 2004.

It was so largely due to a decline in the number of people coming from Mexico, the media reported on Wednesday, quoting a study recently released.

The report from the Pew Research Centre pewrsr.ch/2Qptbid, based on US Census data and other figures from 2016, showed the number of illegal immigrants in the United States has declined steadily.

Their numbers were peaked 12.2 million in 2007.

Researchers believe part of the reason for the decline was the economic recession that gripped the United States in 2007.

Thereafter, there was the slow recovery that followed, which limited work opportunities for migrants.

“The combination of economic forces and enforcement priorities may be working together to discourage people from arriving or sending them home,’’ said D’Vera Cohn.

Cohn is one of the authors of the Pew Research Centre report.

President Donald Trump has made immigration enforcement a focus for his administration, most recently, pressing the US Congress to authorise funding of a wall on the border with Mexico.

He has deployed troops in advance of the arrival of a caravan of migrants from Central America.

Even before Trump took office, a decline in the number of illegal immigrants from Mexico had changed the demographic profile of unauthorised migrants in the United States.

Among recent arrivals, immigrants in the United States, who overstayed a visa, were likely to outnumber people who illegally crossed the border, it said.

Overall, the Pew study was in line with previous research that found many unauthorised immigrants have been living in the United States for years.

Their children are more likely to have been born in the country than abroad.

Among the 10.7 million unauthorised immigrants, two-thirds of adults have lived in the United States for more than a decade, the Pew Research Centre study found.

Five million US-born children with American citizenship are living with parents or relatives, who are unauthorised immigrants, the study found.

 


Source: pewrsr.ch/2Qptbid

Published in Opinion & Analysis
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