US

North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un on Thursday accused the United States of operating in “bad faith” at February’s Hanoi summit, which produced no breakthroughs in talks about the North’s denuclearization and U.S. sanctions.

Kim added peace on the peninsula depended on the United States’ “future attitude.

At the meeting in Vietnam between the two leaders, Trump had demanded sanctions relief only if North Korean abandoned its nuclear weapons program. Kim wanted sanctions relief in exchange for dismantling a single nuclear facility.

But the balance the U.S. sought shifted dramatically Thursday, when Kim met with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin — a sit-down described by the Korean Central News Agency as “unreserved and friendly,” AFP reported.

Kim declared “the situation on the Korean peninsula and the region is now at a standstill and has reached a critical point,” the news agency reported. And he warned the situation “may return to its original state as the U.S. took an unilateral attitude in bad faith at the recent second DPRK-US summit talks.”

“Peace and security on the Korean peninsula will entirely depend on the U.S. future attitude, and the DPRK will gird itself for every possible situation,” he said, AFP reported.

Kim said he hoped to usher in a “new heyday” in ties between Pyongyang and Moscow.

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: Tiger Woods of the U.S. is congratulated by Jack Nicklaus after his final round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin
FILE PHOTO: Tiger Woods of the U.S. is congratulated by Jack Nicklaus (L) after his final round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, June 3, 2012. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan

April 26, 2019

By Rory Carroll

(Reuters) – Tiger Woods said Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major championships is in his sights following his triumph at the Masters as he enjoys a career “extension” after a prolonged period of injury woes.

In his first comments since winning his 15th major title and fifth green jacket, the 43-year-old American said he always thought Nicklaus’s mark was reachable, provided his career was long enough.

“It took him an entire career to get to 18,” Woods said in an interview with streaming service GOLFTV.

“So now that I’ve had another extension to my career — one that I didn’t think I had a couple of years ago — if I do things correctly and everything falls my way, yeah, it’s a possibility.”

“I’m never going to say it’s not, except for a couple of years ago when I couldn’t walk,” he said with a laugh.

“Now I just need to have a lot of things go my way, and who’s to say that it will or will not happen? That’s what the future holds, I don’t know. The only thing I can promise you is this: that I will be prepared.”

Everything was going Woods’s way during his final round in Augusta, a win, he said, that had yet to sink in.

The former world number one was two shots behind the leading Francesco Molinari at the 12th at Augusta National when the British Open champion opened the door by finding water en route to a double-bogey.

“It went from a one-horse race with all of us kind of chasing Francesco, to now Pandora’s box is opened up playing 13, where … there’s at least seven with a legitimate chance to win the tournament with six holes to go.”

Woods birdied the next hole to grab the lead and held his nerve despite a logjam of contenders.

He will make his first start since the Masters at the May 2-5 Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina where he will bid to match Sam Snead’s all-time record of 82 PGA Tour victories.

However, Woods said he was just happy to show his two children the positive side of a career that was derailed by personal problems and a litany of back injuries that convinced many the best golfer of his generation was done.

“They never knew golf to be a good thing in my life and only the only thing they remember is that it brought this incredible amount of pain to their dad and they don’t want to ever want to see their dad in pain,” he said.

“And so to now have them see this side of it, the side that I’ve experienced for so many years of my life, but I had a battle to get back to this point, and it feels good.”

(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles, Additional reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ian Ransom)

Source: OANN

A U.S. judge in Washington state Thursday blocked new Trump administration rules that would provide additional hurdles for women seeking abortions, including by banning taxpayer-funded clinics from making abortion referrals.

Judge Stanley Bastian in Yakima granted the preliminary injunction in cases brought by the state and abortion rights groups, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said. The new rules were due to take effect May 3.

“Today’s ruling ensures that clinics across the nation can remain open and continue to provide quality, unbiased healthcare to women,” Ferguson, a Democrat, said in an emailed statement.

The ruling came two days after a federal judge in Oregon, hearing a separate challenge by 20 states, said he intended to at least partially block the rules. That judge, Michael McShane, suggested he was reluctant to issue a nationwide injunction, but said the administration’s new policy was motivated by “an arrogant assumption that the government is better suited to direct women’s health care than their providers.”

Title X is a 1970 law designed to improve access to family planning services, especially for low-income women and those in rural areas, but abortion opponents and religious conservatives say it has long been used to indirectly subsidize abortion providers.

Abortion is a legal medical procedure, but federal laws prohibit the use of Title X or other taxpayer funds to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the woman.

Clinics that receive money under Title X provide a wide array of services, including birth control and screening for diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases and cancer. The program serves 4 million patients, about 1.6 million of whom obtain services through Planned Parenthood.

In addition to banning abortion referrals by taxpayer-funded clinics, the changes would prohibit clinics that receive federal money from sharing office space with abortion providers — a rule critics said would force many to find new locations, undergo expensive remodels or shut down.

“All over the country, there are Title X providers looking at their patient schedules and wondering what they were going to do,” said Clare Coleman, president of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, which sued. “Now we know that everyone can continue to do their care as they have been doing for the past 50 years.”

The judge made his ruling from the bench and said he would issue a written opinion early next week, Coleman said.

The Department of Health and Human Services declined to comment, citing a policy of not commenting on litigation.

While the new rules would permit clinic staff to discuss abortion with clients, they would no longer be required to do so. If patients ask for an abortion referral, staff would be required to give a list of primary care providers with no indication as to which provide abortions.

The list would have to include providers who do not offer abortions, and it could not include clinics or organizations that aren’t primary care providers, such as Planned Parenthood.

Supporters of the changes say they return Title X’s regulations back to their original legislative intent that “none of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”

“We’re extremely disappointed that a district judge made a ruling — a wrong ruling — that affects the entire nation,” said Mark Miloscia, executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, which was not involved in the case. “We support family planning, but not giving it through agencies that kill the unborn.”

The legal challenges argue that the changes violate a requirement that patients receive pregnancy counseling that is not weighted for or against abortion, and that it violates the Affordable Care Act’s prohibition on regulations that impose “unreasonable barriers to the ability of individuals to obtain appropriate medical care.”

Some 98,000 patients in Washington were expected to receive care through Title X this year, Ferguson said.

Source: NewsMax America

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz speaks during a news conference in Ottawa
FILE PHOTO: Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, January 9, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

April 26, 2019

OTTAWA (Reuters) – The Bank of Canada could start hiking rates again “sometime down the road,” although such a move will depend on whether upcoming economic data backs up its assessment that a current slowdown is only a temporary detour, the central bank’s head said on Thursday.

The Bank of Canada has raised interest rates five times since July 2017, although it has stayed on the sidelines in recent decisions as global trade concerns, the slumping oil sector and a weaker housing sector have weighed on the Canadian economy.

The bank again held rates steady on Wednesday but took a more dovish stance than in recent releases, removing wording around the need for “future hikes,” while lowering its growth forecasts for 2019.

But in a televised interview with Maclean’s magazine on Thursday, Governor Stephen Poloz said the central bank believed the slowdown would be temporary, lasting “a couple of quarters,” and implied the worst was already over.

“What we have to do then is wait and see if the data proves to us that we were right about that,” he said. “Assuming we are, then sometime down the road we’ll be able to say: ‘OK, now it’s time to start normalizing again,’ but that remains to be seen.”

He repeated that any move would be data-dependent.

The Bank of Canada estimates its neutral range is between 2.25 and 3.25 percent. The overnight interest rate is currently at 1.75 percent.

Poloz also said there was nothing to signal that Canada was on the verge of recession, but when asked if U.S. President Donald Trump’s protectionist trade policies could provoke a new global recession, he said: “Certainly.”

“When you think about the gains in income and living standards that have been created by trade liberalization in a postwar period, to erase even a portion of those would be to risk causing a recession globally,” Poloz said.

(Reporting by Julie Gordon and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Source: OANN

The FBI will meet next month with Florida officials to brief them on Russian hackers who might have phished their way into a local elections office, the Miami Herald reported.

Florida’s GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., each said Thursday the FBI has asked about scheduling a meeting within the next few weeks to talk about election hacking. 

DeSantis and Scott have blasted federal authorities for their silence in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueler’s report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election; the report said the FBI believes Russian hackers were able to “gain access” to “at least one” Florida county government computer network.

“They won’t tell us which county it was. Are you kidding me? Why would you not say something immediately?” DeSantis said. “We’re looking for answers. I think finally next week we’re going to get somebody, or maybe the week after we’re going to have somebody come brief us on what happened.”

“We’re going to make it public,” DeSantis added about whatever is discussed with the FBI. “Unless somehow it’s classified, the public has a right to know what may have happened.”

According to the Herald, it was known even before Mueller’s report that hackers tried to hack Florida elections offices by sending emails with malware-laced attachments. Mueller’s report was the first official statement to indicate any of those attempts might have been successful, the Herald reported.

Source: NewsMax America

A T-Mobile logo is seen on the storefront door of a store in Manhattan
FILE PHOTO: A T-Mobile logo is seen on the storefront door of a store in Manhattan, New York, U.S., April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

April 25, 2019

(Reuters) – T-Mobile US Inc on Thursday beat Wall Street’s first-quarter estimates for net new phone subscribers who pay a monthly bill, aided by its competitively-priced wireless plans aimed at fending off its bigger rivals.

The third-largest U.S. mobile carrier said it added a net 656,000 phone subscribers in the first quarter, compared with 617,000 additions a year earlier.

Analysts were expecting 612,000 new subscribers, according to research firm FactSet.

Revenue rose to $11.08 billion from $10.46 billion, slightly ahead of estimates of $11 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

(Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru and Sheila Dang in New York; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

Source: OANN

Chile's President Sebastian Pinera attends a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera attends a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (not pictured) at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, April 24, 2019. Parker Song/Pool via REUTERS

April 25, 2019

(Reuters) – Chilean President Sebastian Pinera kicked off an investment forum in China on Thursday with an invitation for the Asian giant to use Chile as a jumping off point to do business in Latin America, even as Washington has warned Chile to proceed with caution.

Pinera told the forum that Chile’s objective was to attract more investment from Chinese companies in technology, electric vehicles, telecommunications, and e-commerce.

“We want to transform Chile into a business center for Chinese companies, so that you can, from Chile, reach out to all of Latin America,” Pinera told Chinese investors at an investment and innovation forum in Beijing, according to a Chilean government statement.

The Chilean president’s visit to China, the Andean nation’s top trading partner, comes just weeks after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Chile and slammed China’s “nefarious” actions and “predatory” lending practices, which critics say leave borrowers beholden to Beijing.

China rejected Pompeo’s criticisms, calling them “slanderous” and “irresponsible.”

Pinera has met with several Chinese electric vehicle makers during his week-long visit to Asia, including BYD and Yutong. Chile is one of the world’s largest producers of lithium, a key ingredient in electric vehicle batteries.

He also met executives from ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing, which is planning to take on U.S. rival Uber in some of Latin America’s fastest-growing markets, including Chile.

It was not immediately clear whether Pinera would meet with Chinese telecommunications company Huawei during the visit. Chile has been in talks with Huawei since at least 2017 regarding a possible trans-Pacific fiber optic cable, and other projects.

Pompeo earlier this month warned Chile that Chinese technology, including equipment made by Huawei, poses a security risk that could affect information sharing by the United States.

U.S. influence in Latin America has been increasingly challenged by China, whose booming economy over the past two decades has driven up demand for South America’s raw materials.

Chile, among Latin America’s most open economies and the world’s top copper exporter, has sought to remain neutral amid the growing tensions, promoting instead the need for open markets and trade.

(Reporting by Dave Sherwood and Natalia Ramos in Santiago, writing by Dave Sherwood, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign launch announcement is not making President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign nervous, his daughter-in-law and senior campaign adviser Lara Trump said Thursday.

“He made us wait so long to announce he was running for president,” she told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.” “With the campaign, it doesn’t make us nervous. Joe Biden is among a sea of other candidates who quite frankly are all trying to out-Bernie [Sanders] one another.”

She said she did not hear any proposals for the future in Biden’s announcement, but instead “race baiting as usual . . . identity politics is something that I think we’ll see more of, and we saw it there.”

Trump added she is not concerned about Biden defeating the president in Pennsylvania, as voters there elected him to office because he promised them he would get their jobs back that were taken away by President Barack Obama, “who I might remind folks was a partner right alongside Joe Biden and got a lot of nothing accomplished.”

However, she said, President Trump brought the jobs back and “that’s something the people of Pennsylvania are incredibly grateful for.”

She also criticized Hillary Clinton for her call to conduct hearings on the president after special counsel Mueller’s report.

“It is pretty rich coming from a woman who, against the direction of the FBI, deleted 33,000 emails, destroyed cell phones with hammers, and used BleachBit to wipe their servers,” Trump said. “This is just more of the same from the Democrats. The Mueller report showed there was no collusion with Russia. The president and our campaign did absolutely nothing wrong.”

Source: NewsMax America

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan “fully complied with his ethics agreements and his ethical obligations,” according to the Pentagon’s watchdog review of potentially favoring Boeing, The Washington Post reported.

“While Shanahan did routinely refer to his prior industry experience in meetings, witnesses interpreted it, and told us, that he was doing it to describe his experience and to improve government management of DoD programs, rather than to promote Boeing or its products,” the probe concluded, according to the Post.

The investigation exoneration of the former Boeing employee and acting defense secretary opens the door for President Donald Trump to officially nominate Shanahan as the official secretary of defense, replacing the resigned James Mattis.

Shanahan, who spent 31 years at Boeing, faced allegations of bias toward Boeing stemmed from his 18 months as deputy defense secretary, beginning in July 2017.

In a written statement summarizing the outcome of its probe, which began March 15, the inspector general’s office said it “did not substantiate any of the allegations and determined that Acting Secretary Shanahan fully complied with his ethical obligations and agreements regarding Boeing and its competitors.”

A spokesman for Shanahan, Army Lt. Col. Joe Buccino, said Shanahan’s ethics agreement “ensures no potential for a conflict of interest with Boeing on any matter.” He said Shanahan is focused on “retooling the military for great power competition,” executing the national defense strategy and caring for service members and their families.

The 47-page report cited examples of Shanahan strictly adhering to the commitment he made in June 2017 not to be involved in Boeing matters. It said that in September 2017, Air Force Gen. John Hyten, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, approach Shanahan to brief him on a Boeing program.

“General Hyten told us that Mr. Shanahan said, ‘Stop. That’s a Boeing program. I can’t talk about it.’ General Hyten told us that he asked Mr. Shanahan, ‘Not even conceptually about future capabilities?’ and that Mr. Shanahan said, ‘No, I can’t talk about that at all.'”

It quoted Mattis, who was among former officials interviewed by the IG’s office, as calling Shanahan “my ethical standard bearer” and “part of my solution when it came to ethical endurance.” 

The report said the IG received allegations about Shanahan from several sources. 

In March, a watchdog group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed an ethics complaint with the IG. It alleged that Shanahan has appeared to make statements promoting Boeing and disparaging competitors, such as Lockheed Martin. This and all other allegations investigated by the IG were found to be unsubstantiated.

Shanahan, 56, joined Boeing in 1986, rose through its ranks and is credited with rescuing a troubled Dreamliner 787 program. He also led the company’s missile defense and military helicopter programs.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Source: NewsMax Politics

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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