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The German share price index DAX graph at the stock exchange in Frankfurt
The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Staff

April 25, 2019

By Susan Mathew

(Reuters) – European shares slipped on Thursday as weak earnings from Nokia and news of failed attempts at mergers added to a downbeat mood on renewed fears of a slowdown in global growth.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index finished 0.2 percent lower after an eight-session rally in the benchmark index stalled on Wednesday.

“The sizes of losses seem to be driven primarily by domestic news,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA in London, pointing also to some profit-taking and softer earnings.

Most major country indexes in the region ended significantly lower, with London’s FTSE 100 down 0.5 percent while Frankfurt’s DAX broke a nine-session winning streak with a 0.25 percent decline.

But not all earnings were bad. Stocks in Madrid and Zurich got a headwind from strong earnings at wind energy producer Iberdrola and lender UBS, respectively.

Reigniting growth fears, data showed the South Korean economy unexpectedly contracted in the first quarter, while Chinese officials warned of protracted pressure on growth, a day after disappointing German Ifo sentiment survey exacerbated concerns about the euro zone’s economic outlook.

Finnish telecom network equipment Nokia was the biggest drag on STOXX 600, sliding 9 percent and logging its sharpest decline in 18 months, after reporting a surprise quarterly loss.

Nokia’s fall knocked the tech index 0.7 percent lower following the previous day’s 4 percent surge.

Sainsbury’s slump after Britain’s competition regulator blocked its proposed 7.3 billion pound ($9.4 billion) takeover of Walmart-owned Asda, and homebuilder Taylor Wimpey’s warning on lower full-year margins, weighed on London’s FTSE.

The banking index shed 0.6 percent, weighed down by Barclays and Swedbank shares.

Britain’s Barclays slipped after reporting a 10 percent drop in quarterly profit, as its under-pressure investment bank struggled with tough markets.

Swedbank fell after posting an estimate-beating first-quarter profit as the Swedish lender admitted to previous shortcomings in combating money laundering.

However losses were tempered by Switzerland’s biggest bank UBS advancing after its first-quarter results surpassed analyst expectations, a day after smaller rival Credit Suisse also posted strong results.

The gains helped Swiss shares buck the gloom and close 0.4 percent higher. Meanwhile, wind energy producer Iberdrola’s 4.3 percent jump after it raised its 2019 guidance for net profit and dividend growth, helped Spanish stocks outperform.

“Equity markets are very much driven by the earnings season and as there are mixed numbers are coming in, investors are taking a little bit of cautious approach,” Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at TF Global Markets (UK) Ltd in London.

Shares of Swiss drugmaker Novartis was the biggest boost to the pan-region index, after Guggenheim upgraded the stock, while many other brokerages raise price target after the drugmaker posted higher first-quarter profit and raised 2019 profit target.

German heavyweight Bayer rose after the drug and farming supplies company posted a 45 percent gain in quarterly core earnings on the back of seed maker Monsanto’s acquisition.

Semiconductor maker ASM soared about 10 percent after beating first-quarter targets, while Germany’s Dialog Semiconductor rose more than 2.5 percent after forecasting higher than anticipated profits in the first quarter.

In the wake of the failed merger talks between Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, a deal that had faced fierce opposition from the workforce, Deutsche shares dipped 1.5 percent while Commerzbank slipped 2.3 percent.

(Reporting by Medha Singh, Agamoni Ghosh and Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Source: OANN

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A Massachusetts judge and a court officer accused of helping an illegal immigrant flee an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent waiting to take him into custody were indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury for obstruction of justice and three other counts, officials said.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Andrew Lelling was set to officially announce the charges at a 12:45 p.m. news conference, according to a tweet from the office’s official account.

Newton District Court Judge Shelley M. Joseph and the court officer, identified in court documents as Wesley MacGregor, face several charges stemming from an April 2, 2018 incident in which the pair allegedly helped Jose Medina-Perez get out of the courthouse via a back door in order to elude the ICE agent who sought Medina-Perez. They’re both charged with obstruction of justice, aiding and abetting; obstruction of a federal proceeding, aiding and abetting; conspiracy to obstruct justice; and perjury.

Medina-Perez, a twice-deported illegal immigrant with a fugitive warrant for drunken driving in Pennsylvania, had been in Joseph’s courtroom in order to be arraigned on drug charges.

ICE issued a detainer on Medina-Perez, a written request to hold an individual wanted for deportation for up to 48 hours, and had an agent waiting outside the courthouse to detain Medina-Perez after the arraignment. But during the hearing, Joseph reportedly warned Medina-Perez’s attorney “ICE is going to get him,” according to courtroom recordings obtained by the Boston Globe in December.

His lawyer was also heard telling Joseph “ICE will pick him up if he walks out the front door. But I think the best thing for us to do is clear the fugitive issue and release him.”

“What if we continue [the case]?” the judge said before the courtroom’s audio recorder was shut off, leaving the next 58 seconds unrecorded.

Minutes later, Medina-Perez walked out of the courthouse without being seen by the ICE agent.

Joseph was appointed Newton District judge by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker in 2017 after several years serving as a criminal defense attorney and a prosecutor, the Boston Globe reported.

After reports of Joseph’s alleged intervention emerged in December, Baker told reporters he believed Joseph should be benched while the incident was investigated.

“I don’t believe she should be hearing criminal cases until that federal case is resolved,” Baker said about Joseph. “Look, judges are not supposed to be in the business of obstructing justice. And as far as I can tell, based on the facts as they were presented, she clearly violated the court’s own policies with respect to the way they’re supposed to handle continuance and involve federal immigration enforcement.”

Medina-Perez’s freedom was short-lived. He was arrested later that same month in Roslindale and again let go, this time by an immigration judge who freed him on bond. That case is currently pending, officials said. The 38-year-old native of the Dominican Republic had been previously deported in January 2003 and June 2007, ICE said. His real name is Oscar Manuel Peguero, although he goes by several aliases.

Source: Fox News National

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Former Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday he asked former President Barack Obama “not to endorse” his White House campaign, The Washington Free Beacon reports.

Biden officially announced his campaign Thursday, and Obama issued a statement soon after praising his former running mate without outright endorsing him for president.

“I asked President Obama not to endorse,” Biden told reporters in his home state of Delaware. “And he doesn’t want to — whoever wins this nomination should win it on their own merits.”

Biden spokesperson Kate Bedingfield told MSNBC earlier Thursday that Biden asked Obama “not” to endorse him.

“The vice president actually asked the president not to endorse,” Bedingfield told MSNBC. “He wanted to make the case. He is running in this race because he believes we need to restore the soul of this nation. We need to rebuild the backbone of America and that we need to unify and come together. Voters know Joe Biden.”

Source: NewsMax America

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Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte isn’t done with the dramatics just yet.

Though his government is walking back threats of war, the f-bomb dropping leader is now vowing to sever diplomatic ties with Canada if it doesn’t retrieve 2,000 tons of trash that was accidentally sent to Manila in 2013 and 2014.

“The 70 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries will be put to naught if Canada will not act with dispatch and finality the resolution of this undiplomatic episode to which we take outrage,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, who also acts as chief presidential legal counsel, said in a statement.

CANADA-PHILIPPINES TRASH WAR: WHO WOULD WIN IF DUTERTE ACTUALLY FOLLOWED THROUGH WITH HIS THREAT?

He added that Canada can’t “dilly dally” on picking up the trash that purportedly contains household garbage and used adult diapers.

“It must retrieve them pronto or we throw them back to its shores,” Panelo added.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) talks to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (R) before the opening ceremony of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila, Philippines,13 November 2017. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) talks to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (R) before the opening ceremony of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila, Philippines,13 November 2017.  (Reuters)

Thursday’s threats to cut ties comes two days after Duterte said he would declare war on the North American nation if they didn’t clean up their mess. The nation’s unconventional leader went all-in on Canada, slamming them during a televised meeting with local officials after visiting earthquake-hit Pampanga province, north of Manila.

PHILIPPINES’ DUTERTE GIVES CANADA 1 WEEK TO TAKE BACK GARBAGE OR ‘WE WILL DECLARE WAR’

“I want a boat prepared. I’ll give a warning to Canada maybe next week that they better pull that thing out or I will set sail to Canada and pour their garbage there,” Duterte said, adding he would ask Canadian officials to “prepare a grand reception.”

“Celebrate because your garbage is coming home,” he said. “Eat it if you want to.”

Despite the soundbites, Duterte’s Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana chalked up the threats of war to a “figure of speech.”

“It’s a figure of speech meant to dramatize his extreme displeasure,” he told reporters Wednesday night. “But if it were me, I would run after the importer of the garbage.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

The Canadian Embassy in Manila has said it was “strongly committed to collaborating with the government of the Philippines to resolve this issue.”

Source: Fox News World

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Former Vice President Joe Biden made his 2020 candidacy official on Thursday, but even his entry into the crowded Democratic primary field isn’t enough to move former President Barack Obama off the sidelines.

Biden announced his run for president in an online video Thursday, after weeks of speculation and anticipation. After his announcement, Biden was asked why his former boss of eight years isn’t publicly backing him.

“I asked President Obama not to endorse,” Biden told Fox News on Thursday outside an Amtrak station in Delaware, adding that “whoever wins this nomination should win it on their own merits.”

JOE BIDEN OFFICIALLY LAUNCHES 2020 PRESIDENTIAL BID

Obama’s team released a statement praising Biden on Thursday but didn’t offer an explicit endorsement.

“President Obama has long said that selecting Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made,” Obama spokeswoman Katie Hill said in a statement Thursday morning. “He relied on the Vice President’s knowledge, insight, and judgment throughout both campaigns and the entire presidency. The two forged a special bond over the last 10 years and remain close today.”

Meanwhile, sources close to the Obamas have told Fox News that the former president has made clear that he doesn’t plan on endorsing early in the primary process—if at all.

“President Obama is excited by the extraordinary and diverse talent exhibited in the growing lineup of Democratic primary candidates,” a source close to Obama told Fox News Thursday. “He believes that a robust primary in 2007 and 2008 not only made him a better general election candidate but a better president, too. And because of that, it’s unlikely that he will throw his support behind a specific candidate this early in the primary process – preferring instead to let the candidates make their cases directly to the voters.”

BIDEN 2020 ANNOUNCEMENT MET WITH QUICK ENDORSEMENTS, PUSHBACK FROM DEMOCRATS

Republicans have used the non-endorsement to attack Biden, with RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeting that Obama has “chosen *not* to endorse his right-hand man.”

But former communications director for the Democratic National Committee and former spokesperson for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign Mo Elleithee said he doesn’t view the decision as a snub, saying it is appropriate for Obama to remain on the sidelines.

“I think it’s pretty clear that President Obama wants to play a neutral role in the primary process, and there are a number of candidates in this field that he has a relationship with,” Elleithee, a Fox News contributor and executive director of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service, told Fox News. “I think he wants to focus more on helping set the table for a successful election for the party, rather than necessarily helping to pick the candidate.”

Elleithee said that Obama has praised a number of candidates in the race, but said “he hasn’t put out a statement like he did for Biden today for anyone else.”

“I think Biden holds a special place in Obama’s political heart, and he wanted everyone to know that, without going so far as to put his thumb on the scale one way or the other,” he said.

Democratic strategist and Fox News contributor Jessica Tarlov agreed.

“It’s definitely not a snub at Biden or any reflection of how he feels about his former vice president who he is obviously very close with,” Tarlov told Fox News. “President Obama and Michelle have both made it clear that they want the Democratic process to play out, as it should.”

Despite a lack of an Obama endorsement, Biden was met with support quickly after his official announcement. Sens. Bob Casey, D-Penn. and Chris Coons, D-Del., were among the first to officially get behind his campaign.

Fox News’ Peter Doocy, Kristin Brown and Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

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European shares dip on disappointing earnings, growth worries

The German share price index DAX graph at the stock exchange in Frankfurt
The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Staff

April 25, 2019

By Susan Mathew

(Reuters) – European shares slipped on Thursday as weak earnings from Nokia and news of failed attempts at mergers added to a downbeat mood on renewed fears of a slowdown in global growth.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index finished 0.2 percent lower after an eight-session rally in the benchmark index stalled on Wednesday.

“The sizes of losses seem to be driven primarily by domestic news,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA in London, pointing also to some profit-taking and softer earnings.

Most major country indexes in the region ended significantly lower, with London’s FTSE 100 down 0.5 percent while Frankfurt’s DAX broke a nine-session winning streak with a 0.25 percent decline.

But not all earnings were bad. Stocks in Madrid and Zurich got a headwind from strong earnings at wind energy producer Iberdrola and lender UBS, respectively.

Reigniting growth fears, data showed the South Korean economy unexpectedly contracted in the first quarter, while Chinese officials warned of protracted pressure on growth, a day after disappointing German Ifo sentiment survey exacerbated concerns about the euro zone’s economic outlook.

Finnish telecom network equipment Nokia was the biggest drag on STOXX 600, sliding 9 percent and logging its sharpest decline in 18 months, after reporting a surprise quarterly loss.

Nokia’s fall knocked the tech index 0.7 percent lower following the previous day’s 4 percent surge.

Sainsbury’s slump after Britain’s competition regulator blocked its proposed 7.3 billion pound ($9.4 billion) takeover of Walmart-owned Asda, and homebuilder Taylor Wimpey’s warning on lower full-year margins, weighed on London’s FTSE.

The banking index shed 0.6 percent, weighed down by Barclays and Swedbank shares.

Britain’s Barclays slipped after reporting a 10 percent drop in quarterly profit, as its under-pressure investment bank struggled with tough markets.

Swedbank fell after posting an estimate-beating first-quarter profit as the Swedish lender admitted to previous shortcomings in combating money laundering.

However losses were tempered by Switzerland’s biggest bank UBS advancing after its first-quarter results surpassed analyst expectations, a day after smaller rival Credit Suisse also posted strong results.

The gains helped Swiss shares buck the gloom and close 0.4 percent higher. Meanwhile, wind energy producer Iberdrola’s 4.3 percent jump after it raised its 2019 guidance for net profit and dividend growth, helped Spanish stocks outperform.

“Equity markets are very much driven by the earnings season and as there are mixed numbers are coming in, investors are taking a little bit of cautious approach,” Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at TF Global Markets (UK) Ltd in London.

Shares of Swiss drugmaker Novartis was the biggest boost to the pan-region index, after Guggenheim upgraded the stock, while many other brokerages raise price target after the drugmaker posted higher first-quarter profit and raised 2019 profit target.

German heavyweight Bayer rose after the drug and farming supplies company posted a 45 percent gain in quarterly core earnings on the back of seed maker Monsanto’s acquisition.

Semiconductor maker ASM soared about 10 percent after beating first-quarter targets, while Germany’s Dialog Semiconductor rose more than 2.5 percent after forecasting higher than anticipated profits in the first quarter.

In the wake of the failed merger talks between Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, a deal that had faced fierce opposition from the workforce, Deutsche shares dipped 1.5 percent while Commerzbank slipped 2.3 percent.

(Reporting by Medha Singh, Agamoni Ghosh and Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Source: OANN

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Massachusetts judge who helped illegal immigrant escape ICE arrest indicted, federal authorities say

A Massachusetts judge and a court officer accused of helping an illegal immigrant flee an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent waiting to take him into custody were indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury for obstruction of justice and three other counts, officials said.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Andrew Lelling was set to officially announce the charges at a 12:45 p.m. news conference, according to a tweet from the office's official account.

Newton District Court Judge Shelley M. Joseph and the court officer, identified in court documents as Wesley MacGregor, face several charges stemming from an April 2, 2018 incident in which the pair allegedly helped Jose Medina-Perez get out of the courthouse via a back door in order to elude the ICE agent who sought Medina-Perez. They're both charged with obstruction of justice, aiding and abetting; obstruction of a federal proceeding, aiding and abetting; conspiracy to obstruct justice; and perjury.

Medina-Perez, a twice-deported illegal immigrant with a fugitive warrant for drunken driving in Pennsylvania, had been in Joseph's courtroom in order to be arraigned on drug charges.

ICE issued a detainer on Medina-Perez, a written request to hold an individual wanted for deportation for up to 48 hours, and had an agent waiting outside the courthouse to detain Medina-Perez after the arraignment. But during the hearing, Joseph reportedly warned Medina-Perez’s attorney “ICE is going to get him,” according to courtroom recordings obtained by the Boston Globe in December.

His lawyer was also heard telling Joseph “ICE will pick him up if he walks out the front door. But I think the best thing for us to do is clear the fugitive issue and release him.”

“What if we continue [the case]?” the judge said before the courtroom’s audio recorder was shut off, leaving the next 58 seconds unrecorded.

Minutes later, Medina-Perez walked out of the courthouse without being seen by the ICE agent.

Joseph was appointed Newton District judge by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker in 2017 after several years serving as a criminal defense attorney and a prosecutor, the Boston Globe reported.

After reports of Joseph’s alleged intervention emerged in December, Baker told reporters he believed Joseph should be benched while the incident was investigated.

"I don't believe she should be hearing criminal cases until that federal case is resolved," Baker said about Joseph. "Look, judges are not supposed to be in the business of obstructing justice. And as far as I can tell, based on the facts as they were presented, she clearly violated the court's own policies with respect to the way they're supposed to handle continuance and involve federal immigration enforcement."

Medina-Perez’s freedom was short-lived. He was arrested later that same month in Roslindale and again let go, this time by an immigration judge who freed him on bond. That case is currently pending, officials said. The 38-year-old native of the Dominican Republic had been previously deported in January 2003 and June 2007, ICE said. His real name is Oscar Manuel Peguero, although he goes by several aliases.

Source: Fox News National

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Biden: ‘I Asked President Obama Not to Endorse’

Former Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday he asked former President Barack Obama "not to endorse" his White House campaign, The Washington Free Beacon reports.

Biden officially announced his campaign Thursday, and Obama issued a statement soon after praising his former running mate without outright endorsing him for president.

"I asked President Obama not to endorse," Biden told reporters in his home state of Delaware. "And he doesn't want to — whoever wins this nomination should win it on their own merits."

Biden spokesperson Kate Bedingfield told MSNBC earlier Thursday that Biden asked Obama "not" to endorse him.

"The vice president actually asked the president not to endorse," Bedingfield told MSNBC. "He wanted to make the case. He is running in this race because he believes we need to restore the soul of this nation. We need to rebuild the backbone of America and that we need to unify and come together. Voters know Joe Biden."

Source: NewsMax America

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Philippines warns Canada about severing diplomatic ties over trash – but walks back war threat

Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte isn't done with the dramatics just yet.

Though his government is walking back threats of war, the f-bomb dropping leader is now vowing to sever diplomatic ties with Canada if it doesn't retrieve 2,000 tons of trash that was accidentally sent to Manila in 2013 and 2014.

“The 70 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries will be put to naught if Canada will not act with dispatch and finality the resolution of this undiplomatic episode to which we take outrage,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, who also acts as chief presidential legal counsel, said in a statement.

CANADA-PHILIPPINES TRASH WAR: WHO WOULD WIN IF DUTERTE ACTUALLY FOLLOWED THROUGH WITH HIS THREAT?

He added that Canada can't "dilly dally" on picking up the trash that purportedly contains household garbage and used adult diapers.

“It must retrieve them pronto or we throw them back to its shores,” Panelo added.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) talks to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (R) before the opening ceremony of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila, Philippines,13 November 2017. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) talks to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (R) before the opening ceremony of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila, Philippines,13 November 2017.  (Reuters)

Thursday's threats to cut ties comes two days after Duterte said he would declare war on the North American nation if they didn't clean up their mess. The nation's unconventional leader went all-in on Canada, slamming them during a televised meeting with local officials after visiting earthquake-hit Pampanga province, north of Manila.

PHILIPPINES' DUTERTE GIVES CANADA 1 WEEK TO TAKE BACK GARBAGE OR 'WE WILL DECLARE WAR'

“I want a boat prepared. I’ll give a warning to Canada maybe next week that they better pull that thing out or I will set sail to Canada and pour their garbage there,” Duterte said, adding he would ask Canadian officials to “prepare a grand reception.”

“Celebrate because your garbage is coming home,” he said. “Eat it if you want to.”

Despite the soundbites, Duterte's Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana chalked up the threats of war to a "figure of speech."

"It's a figure of speech meant to dramatize his extreme displeasure," he told reporters Wednesday night. "But if it were me, I would run after the importer of the garbage."

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

The Canadian Embassy in Manila has said it was "strongly committed to collaborating with the government of the Philippines to resolve this issue."

Source: Fox News World

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Biden enters White House race without Obama’s endorsement

Former Vice President Joe Biden made his 2020 candidacy official on Thursday, but even his entry into the crowded Democratic primary field isn’t enough to move former President Barack Obama off the sidelines.

Biden announced his run for president in an online video Thursday, after weeks of speculation and anticipation. After his announcement, Biden was asked why his former boss of eight years isn't publicly backing him.

"I asked President Obama not to endorse,” Biden told Fox News on Thursday outside an Amtrak station in Delaware, adding that “whoever wins this nomination should win it on their own merits.”

JOE BIDEN OFFICIALLY LAUNCHES 2020 PRESIDENTIAL BID

Obama's team released a statement praising Biden on Thursday but didn’t offer an explicit endorsement.

“President Obama has long said that selecting Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made,” Obama spokeswoman Katie Hill said in a statement Thursday morning. “He relied on the Vice President’s knowledge, insight, and judgment throughout both campaigns and the entire presidency. The two forged a special bond over the last 10 years and remain close today.”

Meanwhile, sources close to the Obamas have told Fox News that the former president has made clear that he doesn’t plan on endorsing early in the primary process—if at all.

“President Obama is excited by the extraordinary and diverse talent exhibited in the growing lineup of Democratic primary candidates,” a source close to Obama told Fox News Thursday. “He believes that a robust primary in 2007 and 2008 not only made him a better general election candidate but a better president, too. And because of that, it’s unlikely that he will throw his support behind a specific candidate this early in the primary process – preferring instead to let the candidates make their cases directly to the voters.”

BIDEN 2020 ANNOUNCEMENT MET WITH QUICK ENDORSEMENTS, PUSHBACK FROM DEMOCRATS

Republicans have used the non-endorsement to attack Biden, with RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeting that Obama has "chosen *not* to endorse his right-hand man."

But former communications director for the Democratic National Committee and former spokesperson for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign Mo Elleithee said he doesn't view the decision as a snub, saying it is appropriate for Obama to remain on the sidelines.

“I think it’s pretty clear that President Obama wants to play a neutral role in the primary process, and there are a number of candidates in this field that he has a relationship with,” Elleithee, a Fox News contributor and executive director of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service, told Fox News. “I think he wants to focus more on helping set the table for a successful election for the party, rather than necessarily helping to pick the candidate.”

Elleithee said that Obama has praised a number of candidates in the race, but said “he hasn’t put out a statement like he did for Biden today for anyone else.”

“I think Biden holds a special place in Obama’s political heart, and he wanted everyone to know that, without going so far as to put his thumb on the scale one way or the other,” he said.

Democratic strategist and Fox News contributor Jessica Tarlov agreed.

“It’s definitely not a snub at Biden or any reflection of how he feels about his former vice president who he is obviously very close with,” Tarlov told Fox News. “President Obama and Michelle have both made it clear that they want the Democratic process to play out, as it should.”

Despite a lack of an Obama endorsement, Biden was met with support quickly after his official announcement. Sens. Bob Casey, D-Penn. and Chris Coons, D-Del., were among the first to officially get behind his campaign.

Fox News’ Peter Doocy, Kristin Brown and Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

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Ted Cruz Slams New Exemptions to Iran Sanctions

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, blasted new exemptions reportedly granted by the administration to recent sanctions against Iran.

"These reports are deeply troubling,” he said in a statement on Thursday. “I hope they are mistaken.

“Any policy that includes significant exemptions and waivers is less than maximum pressure, and leaves the Ayatollahs with access to additional resources that they will use to undermine the security of America and our allies, to build up their nuclear and ballistic missile programs, to support Middle East terrorist groups including Lebanese Hezbollah and Hamas, to arm Shia militias in Iraq that are undermining the sovereignty of the Iraqi government, to provide military support for the Houthi militia preventing a peaceful political settlement in Yemen, to supply forces in Syria including those under Iranian command, to support the Taliban and other terrorists in Afghanistan, to maintain the IRGC and IRGC Qods Force, to launch cyberattacks, and to threaten international shipping.

“I very much hope these reports are premature, and that State Department defenders of the Obama Iran nuclear deal have not succeeded in weakening the president's decision to withdraw from that disastrous deal."

The administration granted exemptions on Wednesday to new sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Foreign governments and businesses that have dealings with the Revolutionary Guard and its affiliates will not be subject to a ban on U.S. travel under waivers outlined in two notices published in the Federal Register.

Source: NewsMax Politics

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Floods stall fertilizer shipments in latest blow to U.S. farmers

Contents of grain silos which burst from flood damage are shown in Fremont County, Iowa
FILE PHOTO: The contents of grain silos which burst from flood damage are shown in Fremont County Iowa, U.S., March 29, 2019. REUTERS/Tom Polansek

April 25, 2019

By Karl Plume

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Farm supplier CHS Inc has dozens of loaded barges trapped on the flood-swollen Mississippi River near St. Louis – about 500 miles from the company’s two Minnesota distribution hubs.

The barges can’t move – or get crucial nutrients to corn farmers for the spring planting season – because river locks on the main U.S. artery for grain and fertilizer have been shuttered for weeks. High water presents a hazard for boats, barges and lock equipment.

Railroads have also been plagued by delays from winter weather and flooding in the western Midwest, further disrupting agricultural supply chains in the nation’s bread basket.

The transportation woes are the latest headache for a U.S. agricultural sector reeling from years of slumping profits and the U.S.-China trade war, and they threaten to cut the number of acres of corn and wheat that can be planted this year.

The shipping delays follow months of bad weather in the rural Midwest, including a “bomb cyclone” that flooded at least 1 million acres (405,000 hectares) of farmland last month and a record-breaking April snow storm.

“Our barges are a long way from where we need them in the upper Midwest,” said Gary Halvorson, senior vice president of agronomy at CHS. “We really don’t think that any rail line will be at their preferred service rate until summer.”

Agricultural retailers rely on barges and trains to resupply distribution warehouses across the farm belt. But river flooding has delayed the seasonal reopening of the northern reaches of the Mississippi River to barge traffic. The latest National Weather Service river forecasts suggest one of the river’s southernmost locks could remain closed until at least the first week of May.

FALLING PROFITS, PRODUCTION

Reduced or poorly timed fertilizer applications can hurt yields, potentially denting this year’s U.S. farm profits, which are already predicted to be about half of their 2013 peak, according to the latest U.S. government forecast. Delayed shipments can also mean lost sales for farm suppliers and higher demurrage penalties, or late-return charges, on stalled barges and rail cars.

CHS, one of the largest publicly traded U.S. agriculture suppliers, said this month cited poor weather as a key reason for a $8.9 million drop in agricultural profits during its fiscal second quarter.

Agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland Co said severe weather and flooding would cut its first-quarter profit by $50 million to $60 million while DowDuPont said flooding would slash first-quarter profits in its agriculture division by 25 percent.

Fertilizer producers such as Nutrien Ltd, Mosaic Co and Yara International also lost sales due to bad weather in the fourth quarter of last year and first quarter of this year. Mosaic announced last month that it would cut U.S. phosphate fertilizer production by 300,000 tonnes for the spring season due to poor weather and large inventories left over from the fall.

Farm retailers such as CHS and privately held Growmark may see additional losses through the spring season as the tighter planting window limits the application services they provide, according to CoBank analyst Will Secor.

SCRAMBLING TO PROTECT CROP YIELDS

Farmers are not expected to skip nitrogen fertilizer applications entirely, which would cause yields to drop by about half, according to Purdue University agronomist Bob Nielsen. But higher nutrient costs could have growers applying less-than-optimal amounts.

Some farmers could shift from corn to soybeans, which can be planted later and require fewer fertilizer applications. But soybeans will continue to face uncertain demand as long as the U.S. and top buyer China remain locked in a trade war.

“Right now my plan is to plant more corn because the price of beans is so low,” said Don Batie, a farmer near Lexington, Nebraska.

The weather problems started last autumn, a period when some farmers treat fields after harvesting in preparation for the following spring. But wet weather prevented fall fertilizer applications, and an exceptionally snowy winter in many areas slowed or halted winter field work.

More recent storms have threatened to narrow the limited spring window for field treatments.

“When you add to it this re-supply constraint of not being able to move barges up the Mississippi, it puts us in a precarious position,” said Kreg Ruhl, manager for crop nutrients division at Growmark, the country’s third-largest agriculture retailer in terms of revenue.

PRICES RISING

Retail fertilizer prices have started rising in parts of the Midwest and are likely to rise further as local supplies are depleted and retailers scramble to resupply.

In Iowa, the top U.S. corn producing state, the price of the common fertilizer urea was up 20 percent in late April from a year ago, and anhydrous ammonia was up 27 percent. Both hit their highest early spring levels in three years, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

Without timely barge deliveries, CHS will lean on its rail network that brings imported supplies from Galveston, Texas, to any of the 29 rail hubs it owns in places like Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Marshall, Minnesota; and Minot, North Dakota.

Higher U.S. fertilizer prices and strong demand from other countries could help producers such as Nutrien, Mosaic and Yara recover some recent profit weakness in upcoming quarters.

For farmers and fertilizer retailers, however, uncertain fertilizer deliveries will likely weigh on agricultural markets through the planting season.

“We’re doing our very best to make sure that our retail network is supplied,” said CHS’s Halvorson.

(Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago Editing by Brian Thevenot and Caroline Stauffer)

Source: OANN


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