US oil prices open above $50 for first time since May, but headwinds persist

U.S. oil opened above $50 per barrel for the first time since late May on Monday, supported by strong fuel demand, but ongoing high supplies from producer club OPEC kept prices from rising further. “U.S. gasoline demand climbed to last year’s highs and U.S. inventories, notably on the East Coast, declined,” said French bank BNP Paribas.

 

Venezuela could become first oil state to 'fully fail,' analyst warns

Venezuela could become first oil state to ‘fully fail,’ analyst warns

Overall U.S. commercial crude oil stocks have fallen by 10 percent from their late-March peaks to 483.4 million barrels, and seasonally adjusted they are now, for the first time this year, below 2016 levels. Despite this, there were also signs that global oil markets remained amply supplied, capping further price rises. “Crude oil prices face multiple headwinds as OPEC struggles (to cut excess supply),” BNP said. Oil output by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has risen this month by 90,000 barrels per day (bpd) to a 2017-high of 33 million bpd, a Reuters survey found, led by a further recovery in supply from Libya, one of the countries exempt from a production-cutting deal. This comes despite a pledge by OPEC and other producers, including Russia, to cut output by 1.8 million bpd between January this year and March 2018.

Kelly shows his clout: Scaramucci out as WH chief moves in

WASHINGTON (AP) — Firmly taking charge in an unruly White House, former Gen. John Kelly moved in Monday as President Donald Trump’s new chief of staff and immediately made sure that Trump’s profanity-spouting new communications director was shown the door, ignominiously ousted after less than two weeks on the job. It was the latest head-snapping sequence of events at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but Trump dismissed any talk of disarray. He insisted in a morning tweet there was “No WH chaos,” then followed up in the evening with a satisfied “great day at the White House.” Aiming to instill some discipline in the White House, Kelly showed Anthony Scaramucci the door just days after the new communications director had unleashed an expletive-laced tirade against senior staff members that included vulgar broadsides at then-chief of staff Reince Priebus. In short order, Priebus was pushed aside and replaced by Kelly, whose arrival led in turn to Scaramucci’s departure. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Kelly “has the full authority to carry out business as he sees fit” and that all White House staffers will report to him, including powerful aides such as Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, her husband, Jared Kushner, and chief strategist Steve Bannon. Kelly “will bring new structure, discipline and strength” to the White House, she said.

Netflix Has $20 Billion in Debt and Intends to Borrow Much More

Netflix began in 1997 as one of many online movie rental operations, but also launched a movie subscription service and the industry’s first personalized movie recommendation service, called CineMatch. After the Dot-Com bust, and with just 850,000 subscribers in 2002, the company completed an IPO at the equivalent of about $2 a share. But Netflix pioneered movie streaming and then borrowed huge amounts of money over the last five years to be the first streamer to create its own feature content, beginning with House of Cards in 2013. Today, the company has about 104 million total subscribers.  Netflix is burning cash at the level of a developing nation. The company plans to pay for $6 billion of content this year. Yet its negative free cash-flow of $258 million for the same quarter last year, and $423 million for the quarter ending March 30, spiked to a company-record negative $608 million for the quarter ending June 30. On the company’s earnings conference call, management celebrated that they would only have negative free cash flow accelerating to between negative $2 to $2.5 billion this year. The CEO stated, “With our content strategy paying off in strong member, revenue and profit growth, we think it’s wise to continue to invest.” Netflix’s 50 original shows account for more than a third of its Internet prime-time download traffic in North America, and the company was second only to HBO this year with 91 Emmy Award nominations. But all this shockingly good performance has been powered by $20.54 billion in short and long-term debt to create more original content. Netflix intends to expand its spending to eventually reach about 50 percent self-produced original content, but that will take more debt and cause more friction with the producers of movies that start out in theater showings before being streamed.

 

Is Vladimir Putin the richest person in the world? This financier says he’s worth more than Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos combined

Vladimir Putin
Alexander Zemlianichenko | Pool | Reuters Vladimir Putin

 Russian President Vladimir Putin is worth more than both Gates and Bezos combined, says one financier.Putin’s net worth is estimated to be $200 billion, according to former Hermitage Capital Management CEO Bill Browder, who testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, according to prepared remarks obtained by The Atlantic. Currently, Gates is worth almost $90 billion and Bezos is worth almost $85 billion.

“I estimate that he has accumulated $200 billion of ill-gotten gains.” -Bill Browder, former CEO of  Hermitage Capital Management

“I estimate that [Putin] has accumulated $200 billion of ill-gotten gains,” Browder tells Congress, according to The Atlantic. “He keeps his money in the West and all of his money in the West is potentially exposed to asset freezes and confiscation.” Browder says Putin’s wealth is a result of nefarious practices. “There are approximately 10,000 officials in Russia working for Putin who are given instructions to kill, torture, kidnap, extort money from people and seize their property,” continues Browder. Browder founded and lead Hermitage Capital Management, which from 1996 through 2005 was an investment advisory company in Russia and had as much as $4 billion invested in Russian stocks. In 2005, the financier entrepreneur was labeled a “threat to national security” there and banned from the country. After he was forced out, Russian officials seized Hermitage Capital Management’s investment funds and, according to Browder, Putin’s officials stole $230 million Hermitage Capital Management had paid in taxes to the Russian state. Browder was testifying in front of Congress because the Russian lawyer he hired to investigate the seizure of his company, Sergei Magnitsky, was tortured and eventually killed in prison in 2009. Ever since, Browder has been an advocate working to fight for justice for Magnitsky and against corruption in Russia. As such, he was called to testify as part of Congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election.

Trump dictated misleading statement on son’s meeting with Russian: Washington Post

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump dictated a statement, later shown to be misleading, in which his son Donald Trump Jr. said a meeting he had with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 was not related to his father’s presidential campaign, the Washington Post reported on Monday. Trump Jr. released emails earlier in July that showed he eagerly agreed last year to meet a woman he was told was a Russian government lawyer who might have damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as part of Moscow’s official support for his father. The New York Times was first to report the meeting. The Washington Post said Trump advisers discussed the new disclosure and agreed that Trump Jr. should issue a truthful account of the episode so that it “couldn’t be repudiated later if the full details emerged.” The president, who was flying home from Germany on July 8, changed the plan and “personally dictated a statement in which Trump Jr. said he and the Russian lawyer had ‘primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children,'” the Post said, citing unnamed people with knowledge of the deliberations. It said the statement, issued to the New York Times as it prepared to publish the story, emphasized that the subject of the meeting was “not a campaign issue at the time.” The White House did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the Post story, nor did Trump’s outside counsel Marc Kasowitz and Donald Trump Jr.’s attorney, Alan Futerfas. U.S. investigators are probing whether there was collusion between the Kremlin and Trump’s Republican presidential campaign. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Moscow sought to hurt Clinton and help Trump in the 2016 election. Russia denies any interference, and Trump has denied collusion with Russia. The president applauded his son’s “transparency” after he released the email exchanges on July 11. “It remains unclear exactly how much the president knew at the time of the flight about Trump Jr.’s meeting,” the Washington Post said.

Scaramucci Removed as White House Communications Director at Kelly’s Urging

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump ousted his communications director after only 10 days and introduced his new chief of staff, a former Marine Corps general who has the task of imposing more discipline in the West Wing, following one of the most turbulent weeks of the administration. Anthony Scaramucci was removed from the communications director post on Monday, becoming the seventh major administration official to leave in Mr. Trump’s first six months. Mr. Scaramucci was ousted at the urging of the new chief of staff, retired Gen. John Kelly, in one of his first official acts in the job, two administration officials said. Mr. Kelly previously ran the Homeland Security Department. Mr. Kelly urged Mr. Scaramucci to resign during a one-on-one meeting in his new office shortly after being sworn-in at a Monday morning White House ceremony, the officials said. Mr. Scaramucci’s removal was designed to better organize a White House that has been riven by competing factions, they said. The president is “tired of the chaos and the confusion” in the West Wing, said Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who advises the president. He said the president has been ruminating about the chief-of-staff change for weeks, and is prepared to empower Mr. Kelly in a way that his predecessor, Reince Priebus, wasn’t. Mr. Priebus left the position last week.

Economy needs to create 4.4 million more jobs

As a presidential candidate, one of Donald Trump’s dominant messages was his promise to create jobs for Americans left behind by the modern economy. For many, Trump’s rhetoric conjured up images of predominately white male factory workers edged out by global competition and technological innovation. But while that particular group of workers has seen a significant decline in status — both in terms of employment as well as earnings — this group is certainly not alone among the working class. On the contrary, the broader working class — including women and people of color without college degrees — has also seen losses in labor market outcomes in recent decades. As policy makers on both sides of the aisle grapple with strategies to create jobs for America’s “left behind” workers, it’s critical that they grasp the full picture of who these workers are—and the size of America’s employment challenge. On its face, the nation’s 4.4% unemployment rate seems to indicate a robust, healthy labor market. But looking at the prime-age employment-to-population (EPOP) ratio—the share of the population age 25 to 54 who is working—reveals long-term malaise. Since the late 1970s, men with a high-school degree or less have seen a significant long-term decline in employment compared to those who have a college degree, for whom the decline has been modest. And while women saw tremendous employment gains as many entered the workforce for the first time after World War II, that progress has now reversed. Employment among women with a high-school degree or less has been losing ground since its peak in 2000, while employment among college-educated women has plateaued.

Center for American Progress Women without an advanced education have had the steepest declines in the employment-population ratio since 2000.

In addition to the declines experienced by both men and women, workers of different racial backgrounds — not just the archetypal white working-class man — have also been losing ground. From 2000 to 2015, white men with a high-school education or less experienced a 7.3 percentage point decline in EPOP while similarly educated African-American men had a 7 percentage point decline. White and African American women with a high school degree or less experienced even greater declines than their male counterparts—9.4 and 8.5 percentage points, respectively—from 2000 to 2015.

Center for American Progress Job losses by white working-class men haven’t been offset by jobs gains by African Americans or women.

These patterns show that trends in working-class employment have not been a zero-sum game, with one group’s loss translating into another group’s gain. Rather, the pain of employment losses has been spread broadly across subgroups of the working class. Today’s economy would need to add more than 4.4 million jobs to restore employment for prime-age non-college-educated workers to its 2000 level, after accounting for population growth, according to a recent report, “Toward Marshall Plan for America,” from the Center for American Progress.

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Gingrich: 2018 Election Could Be ‘Tough’ If No Tax Reform By Thanksgiving

Sunday, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich predicted the 2018 election could be “tough” for Republicans without tax reform by Thanksgiving.

“We have to have a big tax cut passed and signed into law by Thanksgiving,” Gingrich told host John Catsimatidis Sunday on his New York AM 970 radio show “The Cats Roundtable.”

He added, “If we can run for reelection as the party of prosperity and jobs and take home pay, we’re going to be golden and the American people are going to vote to keep the Republicans in. … If we end up in a situation where we are not able to really show the kind of economic activity that we need, then I think we can have a very tough election next year.”

June pending home sales edge up 1.5%, but spring market stalled

After falling throughout the usually busy spring season, a monthly index of signed contracts to purchase existing homes increased 1.5 percent in June compared with May, and May’s figure was revised slightly higher, according to the National Association of Realtors.  The index was 0.5 percent higher compared with June 2016, the first annual increase since March. So-called pending home sales are a forward indicator of closed sales two to three months later. “The first half of 2017 ended with a nearly identical number of contract signings as one year ago, even as the economy added 2.2 million net new jobs,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors. “Market conditions in many areas continue to be fast paced, with few properties to choose from, which is forcing buyers to act almost immediately on an available home that fits their criteria.” The competition may have eased slightly in June, as the Realtors measured sales to investors at the lowest of the year (13 percent). As a result, cash transactions fell to 18 percent – the smallest share since June 2009 (13 percent). Investors favor cash over traditional financing. Nick Bit: read the underlined parts to get the REAL story

No chaos,’ Trump insists as he swears in new chief of staff

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hoping to turn the page on a tumultuous opening chapter to his presidency, President Donald Trump insisted on Monday there is “no chaos” in his White House as he swore in retired Marine Gen. John Kelly as his new chief of staff. In an Oval Office ceremony, Trump predicted Kelly, who previously served as Homeland Security chief, would do a “spectacular job.” And the president chose to highlight the rising stock market and positive jobs outlook rather than talk about how things might need to change in his White House under Kelly.

President Donald Trump is convening his Cabinet for a kickoff meeting with new chief of staff John Kelly. (July 31)

Trump on Friday ousted Reince Priebus as chief of staff and turned to Kelly, who he hopes will bring military discipline to an administration weighed down by a stalled legislative agenda, infighting among West Wing aides and a stack of investigations. While Trump is looking for a reset, he pushed back against criticism of his administration with this tweet: “Highest Stock Market EVER, best economic numbers in years, unemployment lowest in 17 years, wages raising, border secure, S.C.: No WH chaos!”

In fact, economic growth averaged 2 percent in the first half of this year, a pace Trump railed against as a candidate and promised to lift to 3 percent. The stock market first hit a record under President Barack Obama and has kept growing. The unemployment rate, too, started to decline on Obama’s watch. And wage gains have been weak. Trump on Monday convened his first Cabinet meeting with Kelly at his side, telling his team it is “doing incredibly well” and “starting from a really good base.” On how he would deal with rising tensions with North Korea, Trump said only: “It will be handled.” Seated across from Trump was Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has stayed on the job while Trump has publicly savaged him in interviews and on social media.

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Russian 6th-generation fighter will employ powerful lasers to burn enemy missile

Air-to-ground or air-to-air missiles have one thing in common — they have a seeker head, or targeting system on the missile that uses radar or heat-seeking technology to find and lead the weapon to the target to destroy it. The Russian defense industry says it will deploy powerful lasers on its new sixth-generation fighter that will be able to “burn” enemy homing systems on projectiles fired in their direction, to make them unable to hit a target. “We already have laser protection systems installed on aircraft and helicopters, and now we are talking about developments in the field of powered lasers that will be able to physically destroy attacking missiles’ homing heads. … Roughly speaking, we’ll be able to burn out ‘the eyes’ of missiles that ‘look at us.’ Naturally, such systems will be installed on sixth-generation aircraft as well,” said the Adviser to the First Deputy CEO of Radio-Electronic Technologies Group (KRET) Vladimir Mikheyev, reported Russian state news agency TASS. Drone technology is also a high priority for the Russian defense industry. Manned aircraft flying alongside swarms of unmanned drones is a concept being developed on both sides of the Atlantic. “One drone in a formation flight will carry microwave weapons, including guided electronic munitions while another drone will carry radio-electronic suppression and destruction means, and a third UAV will be armed with a set of standard weaponry. Each specific task is solved by different armaments,” Mr. Mikheyev added. Microwave weapons will complement the laser components on manned aircraft also.

Venezuela braces for a day of fresh violence in wake of Maduro ‘power grab’ victory

An explosive device was detonated at protests in Caracas
An explosive device was detonated at protests in Caracas Credit: JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro claimed victory on Monday in an internationally criticised election for an assembly to rewrite the constitution, but the opposition cried fraud and vowed to keep protesting despite a deadly crackdown. Ten people were killed in a wave of bloodshed that swept Venezuela on Sunday as Maduro defied an opposition boycott and international condemnation – including the threat of new US sanctions – to hold elections for a powerful new “Constituent Assembly.” The country was bracing itself on Monday morning for another wave of violent protests, which have now been erupting for months.

Anti-government activists set up barricades during a protest against the elections for a Constituent Assembly in Caracas
Anti-government activists set up barricades during a protest against the elections for a Constituent Assembly in Caracas Credit: RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

On Sunday, protesters attacked polling stations and barricaded streets around the country, drawing a bloody response from security forces, who opened fire with live ammunition in some cases. Despite the boycott and the unrest, the head of the National Electoral Council, Tibisay Lucena – one of 13 Maduro allies already slapped with sanctions by US President Donald Trump’s administration – said there had been “extraordinary turnout” of more than eight million voters, 41.5 percent of the electorate. This figure is disputed by the opposition, who say that 88% of Venezuelans abstained.

Nicolas Maduro celebrates the results of "Constituent Assembly", in Caracas
Nicolas Maduro celebrates the results of “Constituent Assembly”, in Caracas Credit: AFP

Dressed in bright red, his fist clenched and face beaming, Maduro hailed it as a win in a speech to hundreds of cheering supporters in central Caracas.”It is the biggest vote the revolution has ever scored in its 18-year history,” he said, referring to the year his late mentor, Hugo Chavez, came to power. “What the hell do we care what Trump says?”

A Bolivarian National Police agent was wounded in an explosion in the street in Caracas
A Bolivarian National Police agent was wounded in an explosion in the street in Caracas Credit: EPA/MIGUEL GUTIERREZ

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Next Up for GOP Congress: Raising the Debt Ceiling

Republicans are leaving town for an August recess after a failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. When they return in September, they’ll have just 12 working days to avert another big problem. In a letter to lawmakers Friday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin  said the federal borrowing limit, or debt ceiling, needed to be raised by Sept. 29 or the government risked running out of money to pay its bills. The Treasury Department has been employing cash-conservation measures since March, when borrowing hit the formal ceiling of nearly $20 trillion. Those measures are expected to run out in early to mid-October.

Lawmakers have managed to resolve bitter feuds over the debt limit before. But markets are starting to reflect angst about Washington’s ability to navigate a new showdown given the challenges  This will be the first time Republicans will control both chambers of Congress and the White House while navigating a debt ceiling increase. They face resistance within their own party. Mr. Mnuchin has made clear the administration wants to see the debt limit increased, with no strings attached. But GOP leaders will almost certainly need to rely on Democratic support to get any type of increase to the president’s desk, something Democrats might be reluctant to provide without something in return. They have been unified in opposition to Republicans on other issues. It is going to be a tight squeeze. Treasury’s cash balance is expected to drop to near $25 billion in September—a precariously low level, especially in the event of some unforeseen shock, such as a severe natural disaster, global crisis or unexpected drop in revenue.

Trump asking people to march in lockstep ”That’s what Mussolini wanted.” Historian warns

Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” presidential historian and Rice University professor Douglas Brinkley said President Donald Trump was “unfit for command.” Brinkley called the White House “in utter disarray.” “And you can’t really compartmentalize everything because it’s all morphed together as Donald Trump unfit for command in my opinion,” he added. Host Brian Stelter asked, “Let me be clear, you just said he’s unfit for command?” Brinkley replied, “I think so. I think when you have a White House communications director that uses the kind of foul language that he does against fellow employees of the federal government, and makes threats the way that he did and that’s supposed to be your solution to the United States’s way they’re going to communicate with the world, it means Donald Trump picked the wrong person to be his communications director. He has a White House that’s leaking like crazy. As just mentioned there are people ready to whistle blow. He thinks that you can govern by chaos, and it’s not working,” He continued, “It is true, he has 36 percent of the American public backing him. That means over 60 percent of Americans think that he’s doing a miserable job and the rest of the world is laughing. We have a crisis in North Korea, and we’re playing these reality tv wrestling games because Donald Trump raised on television.” He added, “The key to Donald Trump is just this kind of blind, fierce loyalty. That’s what Franco expected in Spain, that’s what Mussolini wanted in Italy.”

Mysterious craters blowing out of Russia could mean trouble for the whole planet

This photograph shows a crater on the Yamal Peninsula, northern Siberia, taken on August 25, 2014. Its formation is possibly linked to climate change.
Vasily Bogoyavlensky | AFP | Getty Images This photograph shows a crater on the Yamal Peninsula, northern Siberia

In northern Siberia, rising temperatures are causing mysterious giant craters — and even more dire consequences could be in store, say climate scientists. The Russian province’s long-frozen ground, called permafrost, is thawing, triggering massive changes to the region’s landscape and ecology. “The last time we saw a permafrost melting was 130,000 years ago. It’s a natural phenomenon because of changes in the earth’s orbit,” said professor of earth sciences at the University of Oxford, Dr. Gideon Henderson. It’s clear that the thawing permafrost has an important effect on the climate, Henderson said Since 2014, several massive sinkholes have been discovered in the region. The first one reportedly measured over 50 ft wide There are several hypotheses on how the craters are formed, but none of them has been proven, according to Dr. Vladimir Romanovsky, professor of geophysics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “All these hypotheses, though, use the fact that temperature in the region is increasing,” Romanovsky said.The formation of these crater-like holes could have crucial ramifications for Siberia’s community and the environment at large. Nick Bit: please note this happened 130,000 before man walked on the planet. could it be the dinosaurs burned fossil fuels?

Shell plans 400 job cuts at Dutch projects and technology department

LONDON (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell Plc plans to cut more than 400 jobs in the Netherlands, mainly at its major projects and energy technology operations, as the oil giant shifts its business model in response to lower oil prices, according to an internal document seen by Reuters.  The world’s second-largest oil company by market capitalization said in a statement responding to questions from Reuters that “approximately 400 (staff) are potentially at risk of redundancy during the last quarter of 2017/first half of 2018”. That represents around a quarter of the roles at the department, according to the staff consultation document seen by Reuters. The group employs 92,000 worldwide. “Shell is transforming into a simpler company,” a spokesman said, adding the final number of job cuts would be subject to consultation with employees. He declined to answer detailed questions about the consultation document. The proposed restructuring, which will also see dozens of research roles move from the Netherlands to Bangalore, India, highlights how lower oil prices are prompting the Anglo-Dutch oil giant to shift away from the mega-projects which have been its focus for over 20 years. It also underscores an increasing shift of higher-value roles, such as research to lower cost countries. In addition to staff cuts, Shell aims to reduce costs by outsourcing more “lower value-adding” design work, reducing the number of staff on expensive expatriate employment packages and by cutting layers of management in its project and technology operations. The oil industry has been cutting jobs – including around 12,500 at Shell – and capital investment budgets in recent years as lower oil prices have rendered many previously profitable projects uneconomic.

 

Oil prices resume push higher, Brent atop $52 a barrel

Getty Images Oil is getting ready for another up week

Oil prices added to last week’s big gains, with Brent crude hitting fresh two-month highs early Monday amid further signs that U.S. oil production is slowing down. But some analysts caution the rally might lose steam soon. Crude rose every day last week, in the process logging 2017’s biggest weekly gain. The move was started by renewed commitment from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to hold down output and exports. Following that was upbeat U.S. readings on the inventory, production and drilling-activity fronts. The ongoing pullback in U.S. oil supplies and drilling activity has beefed up views that the shale boom, the main culprit of the soft oil prices of the past three years, is plateauing. According to oilfield-service giant Baker Hughes, the number of active oil rigs in the U.S. rose by two last week after a decline of one in the previous week. Meanwhile, government data show U.S. oil inventories have dropped nearly 10% since their latest record high in March. Many market watchers says the prolonged prices have taken a toll on some oil companies, in particularly those with an upstream business. Even though OPEC and Russia have been cutting production all year, oil prices have fallen. In that environment, some oil companies–such as Anadarko Petroleum Corp.–have announced cuts to 2017 spending plans. However, as many U.S. shale producers improved their efficiency through advanced technology, some analysts say the current price rally may not last because “American producers have shown how elastic they can be,” said Ric Spooner, the chief analyst at CMC Markets.

 

Putin says US will have to shed 755 from diplomatic staff

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday the United States would have to cut its embassy and consulate staff in Russia by 755, heightening tensions between Washington and Moscow three days after the U.S. Congress approved sanctions against Russia. In response, the U.S. State Department deemed it “a regrettable and uncalled for act.” Russian’s Foreign Ministry on Friday ordered a reduction by Sept. 1 in the number of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Russia. It said it is ordering the U.S. Embassy to limit the number of embassy and consular employees in the country to 455 in response to approval of the new package of American sanctions. The White House has said U.S. President Donald Trump would sign those sanctions into law. The legislation, which also targets Iran and North Korea, seeks to punish Moscow for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria. “We had hoped that the situation will somehow change, but apparently if it changes, it won’t be soon,” Putin said in an interview televised on Rossiya 1, explaining why Moscow decided to retaliate. “I thought it was the time to show that we’re not going to leave it without an answer.”

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US conducts ‘successful’ test of THAAD defense system with ballistic missile

The U.S. has conducted a test of its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) defense system in Alaska by launching a ballistic missile over the Pacific Ocean, military officials said early Sunday. The weapon was fired by a U.S. Air Force plane and intercepted by the system, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) said, describing the test as “successful.” The exercise will help the U.S. “to stay ahead of the evolving threat,” said MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves in a statement, without elaborating. Earlier this month, U.S. officials told Reuters that the military was planning a test amid tensions with North Korea. The U.S. has THAAD interceptors in Guam that are meant to help guard against a missile attack from a country such as North Korea. THAAD is a ground-based missile defense system designed to shoot down short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Lockheed Martin Corp, the prime contractor for the THAAD system, said it has the ability to intercept incoming missiles both inside and outside the Earth’s atmosphere. “The U.S. Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Army soldiers of the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade from Fort Bliss, Texas, conducted a successful missile defense test today using the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system,” the MDA statement said. The U.S. has also deployed THAAD in South Korea to guard against North Korea’s shorter-range missiles — angering China, which says the system’s powerful radar can probe deep into its territory. Moscow and Beijing, in a joint statement, earlier this month called on Washington to immediately halt deployment of THAAD in South Korea.

US and Georgia hold military drills, as Russia shows off naval strength

The US and Georgia have launched their biggest ever joint military exercises, as the Caucasus nation seeks to push its bid to join Nato. US Vice-President Mike Pence will visit this week and is expected to back the plan, which Russia strongly opposes. Georgia and Russia have had fractious relations over two breakaway republics and fought a brief war in 2008. Russia staged its own show of force on Sunday with President Putin joining a naval display in St Petersburg. The US-Georgia military drills, dubbed Noble Partner, involve some 1,600 US and 800 Georgian troops. The US has also deployed M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks and M2 Bradley infantry vehicles for the exercises, which will go on until 12 August. A number of other nations, including the UK, are involved. Georgian Defence Minister Levan Izoria said the “unprecedented” exercises would “make clear the support for Georgia by the Nato member states, especially the US”. Although Georgia is not a member of Nato, it does voluntarily contribute to the Nato Response Force (NRF), the multinational force of land, air, navy and special operations units the alliance can deploy quickly when needed. The Russo-Georgian War in August 2008 led to Moscow occupying the Russian-backed self-proclaimed republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

WAR FOOTING US Air Force unleashes supersonic bombers in ‘North Korea nuke drill’ as it’s claimed Donald Trump is ‘poised to launch military strike’ against the rogue state

DONALD Trump ‘is to order a military strike against North Korea within a year’ after Kim Jong-un’s military boasted it had fired a ballistic missile capable of hitting the US. Rarely seen source video below explaing potential US attack

Senior military sources in Washington have reportedly claimed Pentagon officials have laid out plans to obliterate a nuclear weapons facility operating deep within a mountain range inside the rogue state.

A B-1B bomber, top, flies with South Korean fighter jets F-15K over Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea

 A B-1B bomber, top, flies with South Korean fighter jets F-15K over Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea

One of two US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flies a 10-hour mission from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam

One of two US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flies a 10-hour mission from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam
Friday’s launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea
Friday’s launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea
The news comes hours after the US flew two supersonic bombers over the Korean Peninsula  in a show of force against North Korea. The B-1 bombers were escorted by South Korean fighter jets as they performed a low-pass over an air base near the South Korean capital of Seoul before returning to the Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. The US Air Force said the mission was a response to consecutive ICBM tests by Kim this month.“North Korea remains the most urgent threat to regional stability,” said Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander.
A US Air Force B-1B bomber, left, flies with a South Korean fighter jet F-15K over the Korean Peninsula on Sunday
A US Air Force B-1B bomber, left, flies with a South Korean fighter jet F-15K over the Korean Peninsula on Sunday
Nick Bit: i am telling you advanced planning for an attack on North Korea is in advanced planning stages. This is a game changer we MUST pay attention to. I am on it!

 

Maduro foes to boycott vote, plan protest as Venezuela’s divisions deepen

Caracas, Venezuela (CNN)With the outcome not in question, a major vote in Venezuela on Sunday could mark a stark turning point for the country. President Nicolas Maduro has scheduled a vote that would allow him to replace the current legislative body, the National Assembly, with an entirely new institution known as the Constituent Assembly. Maduro’s opponents control the National Assembly, holding 112 of the body’s 167 seats, and have been battling with him for political power since they won a majority of seats in December 2015. Before the winners of those elections took office, Maduro stacked the country’s Supreme Court with loyalists to prevent his own impeachment. The proposed Constituent Assembly would be made up of 545 members, all nominated by Maduro’s administration. Nominees include his wife, Cilia Flores, and prominent loyalists such as former Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez and former Vice President Diosdado Cabello. Experts say the vote’s outcome will be a foregone conclusion: Maduro will be able to consolidate political power. The opposition hasn’t submitted any candidates for the vote because it doesn’t recognize the legitimacy of the election. Maduro foes aren’t going to the polls and instead have scheduled a large protest in the capital, Caracas, for Sunday. Ultimately, Sunday’s vote and the creation of Maduro’s Constituent Assembly would give the President immense political power to revise the Venezuelan Constitution. Maduro says the vote will help bring peace to a polarized Venezuela, with all branches of the government falling under the political movement founded by Maduro’s late mentor and predecessor, Hugo Chavez.

Ferrari Owner Totals $288,000 Car an Hour After Purchasing It

New Meaning of BAD DAY

A driver in the United Kingdom had a dreadful day on the roads when he totaled his brand new Ferrari an hour after he purchased it. Police told the BBC that the driver lost control of his Ferrari 430 Scuderia, which “went airborne” off a wet highway in South Yorkshire and dropped down a 160-foot embankment before bursting into flames.

The exact amount that he paid for the car is unknown, but the list price for that model goes for $288,000, and only 499 were ever sold, CNBC reports.

South Yorkshire police said the driver suffered a few cuts and bruises, but was otherwise unscathed.

GOP fears political fallout after health care ‘epic fail’

NEW YORK (AP) — Weary Republicans in Washington may be ready to move on from health care, but conservatives across the United States are warning the GOP-led Congress not to abandon its pledge to repeal the Obama-era health law — or risk a political nightmare in next year’s elections. The Senate’s failure this past week to pass repeal legislation has outraged the Republican base and triggered a new wave of fear. The stunning collapse has exposed a party so paralyzed by ideological division that it could not deliver on its top campaign pledge. After devoting months to the debate and seven years to promising to kill the Affordable Care Act, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., simply said: “It’s time to move on.” But that’s simply not an option for a conservative base energized by its opposition to the health law. Local party leaders, activists and political operatives are predicting payback for Republicans lawmakers if they don’t revive the fight. “This is an epic fail for Republicans,” said Tim Phillips, president of Americans For Prosperity, the political arm of the conservative Koch Brothers’ network. “Their failure to keep their promise will hurt them. It will.”

 

Buchanan Warns Scaramucci a Possible ‘Early’ Casualty

Conservative political commentator Pat Buchanan predicted Saturday on CNN’s “Smerconish” that White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci could be soon getting “his wings clipped,” adding Scaramucci could be an “early” casualty. “I think [Scaramucci] is the one that’s going to get his wings clipped,” Buchanan told host Michael Smerconish. “As for Bannon, everything I have seen Steve Bannon so far, he has kept his head down, done his job, advised the president, sometimes the way the president went sometimes the way he didn’t. If you’re looking at early casualties here, I would take a good look at the Mooch,” he continued.

 

Police push back against Trump’s law-and-order speech

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(CNN)President Donald Trump’s statement encouraging police officers to be “rough” with people they arrest has drawn criticism in law enforcement circles for sending the wrong message at a time of heightened tensions with the public. “As a department, we do not and will not tolerate ‘rough(ing)’ up prisoners,” the Suffolk County Police Department said in a statement. Trump delivered a combative law-and-order speech in the New York suburb Friday, calling gang members “animals” and praising law enforcement for being “rough.” Speaking before law enforcement officers, Trump praised the aggressive tactics of immigration officers and suggested that police shouldn’t protect the heads of handcuffed suspects being put in the back of a car. “When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon. You see them thrown in rough. I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice,'” Trump said to applause, referring to officers shielding prisoners’ heads with their hands. “Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody. I said, ‘You can take the hand away, OK?'” From Boston to Los Angeles, however, law enforcement agencies pushed back. The police statement in the suburb where Trump spoke added, “The Suffolk County Police Department has strict rules and procedures relating to the handling of prisoners, and violations of those rules and procedures are treated extremely seriously.” Suffolk County police have been under Justice Department oversight since 2013, after a federal investigation exposed a pattern of anti-immigrant violence  Nick Bit: This reactionary shit don’t work. I have seen and been a victim of police violence. Encouraging frustrated police to violence who have the worst job in the world is should we say is  not helpful. So the next time you see a innocent cop shot in the back and wonder why. Let me give you the obvious answer. Most cop killer scum bags have been subjected to police brutality in their lifetimes. Arrest them, cage them but do not bend fold or mutilate. We need to ratchet back the rhetoric.  I have a lot of problems when the commander and chief does this shit

Venezuela to vote on constituent assembly amid protests

Voting begins in Venezuela shortly to elect a new assembly with powers to rewrite the constitution. The opposition is boycotting the vote which it says is a power grab by President Nicolás Maduro. The government says the constituent assembly is the only way to bring peace back to the country after months of violent protests. On the eve of the vote, protesters blocked roads in the capital Caracas in defiance of a ban on demonstrations. In a speech broadcast on TV, President Maduro predicted a “big victory”, calling the vote “the most important election held in Venezuela’s political system”. However, electoral council chief Tibisay Lucena acknowledged that some voting machines had been attacked and burned in parts of the country. Oil-rich Venezuela is gripped by a political crisis with soaring inflation and daily food shortages. Violent demonstrations since April have left more than 100 people dead. Many residents in Caracas were stocking up on essential items on Saturday in case unrest left shops closed into Monday, correspondents said. More than 6,000 candidates are standing for the 545-member constituent assembly but none are from the opposition. The new body will have the power to bypass the National Assembly, currently controlled by an alliance of opposition parties.

Continue reading “Venezuela to vote on constituent assembly amid protests”

Chip stocks show signs of slowing with more earnings on tap

NEW YORK (Reuters) – High-flying semiconductor stocks may be poised for more losses in the coming weeks as a large swath of chip names reports quarterly results in a sector that may have run up too far for some investors. Investors will parse earnings from 40 percent of the components in the PHLX semiconductor index .SOX over the next month, including Applied Materials (AMAT.O), Nvidia (NVDA.O) and Marvell Technology (MRVL.O). The index is up more than 20 percent on the year, powered by gains of nearly 60 percent in names such as Nvidia and Lam Research (LRCX.O), which has helped propel the S&P technology sector .SPLRCT higher as the best performing of the 11 major S&P sectors. Only five of the 30 names in the semiconductor index are in negative territory for the year. Semiconductor and semiconductor equipment stocks are expected to see the highest growth within the tech sector, with year-over-year earnings growth of more than 40 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data. “The semis are the heart and soul of the technology sector, particularly the large-cap technology sector, and they are really driving the theme that we saw really take shape in the second quarter,” said Peter Kenny, senior market strategist at Global Markets Advisory Group in New York. “The question is are they going to be able to continue to do it and even if they are, which the street is expecting, there is a case to be made for stretched valuations triggering a little bit of rotation out of the space.” The semiconductor index was poised for its first weekly drop in four and was on track for its fifth drop in six sessions, with declines on Friday coming on the heels of results from Cypress Semiconductor (CY.O), InterDigital (IDCC.O), MicroSemi Corp (MSCC.O) and Intel (INTC.O). “A year ago I would say you have to be careful but now I’d say you have to be extremely careful,” said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

nearly 18.

REPORT: Trump and McMaster ‘at Odds’ on ‘Key National Security Issues’

President Donald Trump is reportedly at odds with his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, who is also at odds with other presidential advisers and cabinet members, according to a congressional aide and other unnamed sources. A congressional source has said that McMaster disagrees with President Trump on many key national security issues, CNN reported. “McMaster has also found himself undercut by others in the President’s orbit like chief strategist Steve Bannon and he has clashed with Defense Secretary James Mattis, according to congressional and administration officials,” CNN reported. McMaster reportedly has produced a strategy for the future of Afghanistan that has yet to be signed off on by the president. The plan would increase the number of U.S. troops deployed there. The report also said McMaster could depart from his post for another job in the Trump administration or in the U.S. military, but it added that another unnamed “senior administration official dismissed the notion as premature and not under serious consideration.” “Bannon’s been undercutting [McMaster] and NSC, but that’s nothing new,” a Republican congressional aide said. “Two sources told CNN on Sunday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson could be on the way out, too, amid his own issues with the White House,” despite the State Department’s claim that Tillerson will stay on the job and that his relationship with Trump is “good.” Mattis is also said to have differences with McMaster over military strategy in Afghanistan, but “Mattis dismissed reports that he and McMaster are at odds, or that McMaster could be on his way out at NSC.”

 

Trump’s six-month stall sparks a White House shake-up

WASHINGTON (AP) — Six months into his presidency, Donald Trump is saddled with a stalled agenda, a West Wing that resembles a viper’s nest, a pile of investigations and a Republican Party that’s starting to break away. Trump on Friday indirectly acknowledged the troubled state of his unconventional White House when he abruptly replaced his chief of staff with hard-nosed retired Gen. John Kelly, until now the Homeland Security secretary. Kelly will take the desk of Reince Priebus, a Republican operative who was skeptical of Trump’s electoral prospects last year and ultimately came to be viewed by the president as weak and ineffective. Kelly’s ability to succeed will depend on factors outside his control, including whether Trump’s squabbling staff is willing to put aside the rivalries that have sowed disorder and complicated efforts to enact policy. But the big question is can Kelly do what Priebus couldn’t? And that’s curbing the president’s penchant for drama and unpredictability, and his tendency to focus more on settling scores than promoting a policy agenda.

No other aide or adviser has been successful on that front. As a candidate, and now as president, Trump has cycled through campaign chiefs and advisers but has remained easily distracted by his personal interests and only loosely tethered to any policy plans.

Continue reading “Trump’s six-month stall sparks a White House shake-up”

Trump blasts Senate rules in Saturday morning tweets

(CNN)President Donald Trump railed against Senate rules requiring 60 votes to overcome a filibuster in a series of tweets Saturday morning, just a day after the chamber dealt a devastating setback to the GOP effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. “Republicans in the Senate will NEVER win if they don’t go to a 51 vote majority NOW,” Trump tweeted. “They look like fools and are just wasting time.” Sens. John McCain, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins joined with Democrats to oppose a “skinny repeal” of Obamacare early Friday morning, a major blow to Trump and the Republicans’ congressional agenda. Trump fumed at the loss after the vote, tweeting that the three Republicans “let the American people down,” linking them to the Democrats who were uniformly against the plan.

 

Continue reading “Trump blasts Senate rules in Saturday morning tweets”

Russia retaliates against US after sanctions

Russia’s Foreign Ministry demanded that the United States cut the number of diplomatic staff it has in Russia and said it would seize two US diplomatic properties, in a sharp response to a new sanctions bill passed by the US Congress a day earlier.

 

 

Wells Fargo cuts 69 executive jobs: spokesman

(Reuters) – Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) said on Friday it is cutting 69 executive jobs at its retail unit, as part of a restructuring in the division. Some of the executives positions will retire with full benefits while others may find positions elsewhere within the bank, said Wells Fargo spokesman Paul Gomez.

Some of the executives may leave the bank, Gomez added. “We have just completed the process of consolidating the Regional President and Area President roles into a new position, Region Bank President,” Mary Mack, senior executive vice president for community banking, said in an internal memo seen by Reuters. The unit will have 91 regional and area presidents as part of the rejig. News of the scandal-hit lender cutting senior executive jobs was earlier reported by Bloomberg. Wells Fargo has been engulfed in scandal since September, when it reached a $190 million settlement with regulators over complaints that its retail banking staff had opened as many as 2.1 million unauthorized client accounts.  Wells Fargo shares ended down 2.6 percent on Friday.

Saudi Shias told to leave Awamiyah or die: Sources

Since the early hours of Saturday, the Saudi forces have started taking the town under heavy shellfire, virtually barricading the public in their home

s.

Picture taken on July 29, 2017 shows hours into the onset of heavy government shellfire against the eastern Saudi Arabian town of al-Awamiyah. (Twitter)

The sources said sharpshooters were training their fire on various targets from atop rooftops and inside armored vehicles. Ali al-Debisi, the leader of a Europe-based Saudi rights body, said the locals are afraid of going out for fear of coming under sniper fire. Regime forces, meanwhile, continued to evict people from their homes in the town, they said. The Qatif region in the province, where the town is located, has witnessed sporadic deaths of security personnel at the hands of unknown gunmen. Blaming the Shia population for the attacks, Riyadh first started ordering security raids against the region before besieging the town and subjecting it to a so-called renovation project.

Photo taken by local resident shows vehicles standing ready to demolish buildings in the town of al-Awamiyah in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. (Twitter via Middle East Eye)

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin extends measure to hold off debt-limit default

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin participates in an interview during The Hill's Newsmaker Series 'Prospects for Tax Reform' at the Newseum April 26, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

The Treasury will continue its suspension of issuing new debt for two more months, a measure intended to stave off default from hitting the federal borrowing limit, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote in a letter to Congressional leaders on Friday. Mnuchin exhorted Congress to raise the federal borrowing limit before the new date. “I believe that it is critical that Congress act to increase the nation’s borrowing authority by September 29, 2017,” Mnuchin wrote in the letter to Congressional leaders. Mnuchin began employing measures to conserve cash in March, when U.S. debt hit the current statutory limit of nearly $20 trillion. The Treasury secretary said in his letter Friday that he would continue to withhold investments from the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund until Sept. 29. Previously, the “debt issuance suspension period” was to end Friday, but Mnuchin extended the time frame. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the government may miss certain payments in October if the Treasury is no longer able to foot the government’s bill.

Trump to sign bill imposing fresh sanctions on Russia

US President Donald Trump will sign into law a bill imposing new sanctions on Russia, the White House says. Both houses of Congress backed the bill, which also includes measures against Iran and North Korea, but it was thought Mr Trump might veto it. Russia has already retaliated by ordering cuts to US diplomatic staff and barring the use of some properties. The sanctions are over Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and alleged interference in the US election. Iran and North Korea are being penalised over their ballistic missile tests.  White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Mr Trump would sign the bill, but only after having negotiated “critical elements” of it. She did not specify what those elements were. “He has now reviewed the final version and, based on its responsiveness to his negotiations, approves the bill and intends to sign it,” she said. The sanctions came months after the Obama administration ordered the seizure of two Russian diplomatic compounds and expelled 35 Russian diplomats in response to alleged hacking of the US Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. US intelligence agencies believe Russia tried to sway the election in favour of Mr Trump and several investigations are looking into whether anyone from his campaign colluded.

Venezuela could be the first sovereign oil producer to ‘fully fail’ after contentious vote, warns analyst

Venezuela could become first oil state to 'fully fail,' analyst warns
Venezuela could become first oil state to ‘fully fail,’ analyst warns
 

Venezuela is already having a major meltdown, and a nationwide vote set for Sunday could send the country over the edge, a top commodities strategist said Friday. Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, said in a note that Venezuela, which has the largest oil reserves in the world, could become the first sovereign oil producer to “fully fail” as a state if President Nicolas Maduro moves forward with the vote to form a new legislative body named the National Constituent Assembly (ANC). The ANC would supersede other legislative bodies — including the opposition-led National Assembly — and would be able to rewrite the country’s constitution, cementing Maduro’s power. The ANC would also be composed mostly of Maduro’s supporters. Those opposing the vote have taken to the streets in protest, and the United States and other nations have threatened to impose sanctions on Venezuela targeting its oil sector, and its state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., or PDVSA. “The Trump administration has issued stark warnings to Maduro about the elections and is reportedly giving serious consideration to targeting the country’s oil sector by either banning Venezuelan imports into the United States or prohibiting the use of dollars in PDVSA transactions,” Croft said. “Either measure would result in extreme economic duress,” she added. “With the country’s foreign reserves recently having fallen below $10 [billion], PDVSA will be extremely hard pressed to avoid a disorderly default in the autumn or continue any semblance of regular salary payments.”The country’s economy is almost completely at the mercy of the oil industry, which contributes 95 percent of Venezuela’s exports. But a lack of investment in the industry has made it less and less profitable and productive.

More than half the continental US within range of latest North Korean missile test

  • North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile on Friday, which landed in the Sea of Japan.
  • Defense experts say New York City and Boston could now be in range of North Korea’s missile.
  • “More of the continental U.S.” is at risk, former CIA Korea branch chief Bruce Klingner said.
North Korea fired a missile that may have landed off the coast of Japan

North Korea fired a missile that may have landed off the coast of Japan  North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile Friday, which defense experts say could reach as far as New York or other U.S. East Coast cities. The most recent test lofted the North Korean missile on a very high trajectory, bringing it down in the Sea of Japan. Preliminary data from the launch reveals that half, if not most, of the continental U.S. would be in range of the missile tested Friday. “Looks like it can pretty much can get to New York, Boston and probably falls just short of Washington,” David Wright, co-director and senior scientist for the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told CNBC. This most recent launch flew for 47 minutes, flying a distance of 1,000 kilometers (about 620 miles) and reached an altitude as high as 3,700 kilometers (nearly 2,300 miles), South Korean military told Reuters. Wright, a physicist and technical arms control specialist, said the launch appears to show North Korea can “go considerably farther” than previous efforts. He believes this missile on a standard trajectory would have a range of 10,400 kilometers (close to 6,500 miles) before accounting for the rotation of the earth, which extends the range of missiles fired from west to east.
This picture taken on July 4, 2017 and released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on July 5, 2017 shows the successful test-fire of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 at an undisclosed location.

 

 

Goodyear stock stumbles 11% after quarter ‘played out differently than we expected’

Tire maker slashed guidance for 2017 after auto manufacturing inventories remained above normal in North America and China

Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR

 Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. shares slid more than 11% Friday, leading S&P 500 decliners, after the company slashed its outlook for the rest of the year and said its second quarter did not pan out as expected.

Other tire makers were swept up in the Goodyear GT, -8.54%  down draft, with Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. CTB, -6.42%  shares down 6% and American depositary receipts of Bridgestone Corp. BRDCY, -0.49%  off 1%. American Axle & Manufacturing shares AXL, -4.25% lost 5%. Goodyear stock was on track for its lowest close in six months. Car parts maker Delphi Automotive Plc DLPH, -0.64% lost 0.8% and Visteon Corp. VC, +0.03%  was down 0.03%. Goodyear had told analysts it expected a decline in unit volumes, driven by the company’s “strategic reduction” in some tires sold in emerging Europe and Africa countries and overall lower auto production, Chief Executive Richard Kramer told analysts on the company’s call, according to a FactSet transcript. Car sales have slid in recent months, with General Motors Co. GM, -0.60% Ford Motor Co. F, -0.40% and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV FCA, +0.10%  reporting steep declines in June. For Goodyear, the second-quarter surprise led it to lower its segment operating income expectations for the rest of the year and now expects it to range from $1.6 billion to $1.65 billion, down from prior guidance of about $2.0 billion. It was the fourth straight time the company cut its 2017 outlook, analysts at Guggenheim said in a note Friday. Previous cuts “saw muted market reaction,” but not so with the latest due to its magnitude, they said.

Barclays suffers loss of $1.6 billion

U.K. lender Barclays reported a net loss of £1.21 billion ($1.58 billion) for the first half of 2017, hit by the fall in sterling, a charge from the mis-selling of payment protection insurance and a loss from the sale of its Africa unit.

Here are the key metrics:

  • H1 profit before tax: £2.3 billion ($3.01 billion) before the impact of the Africa sale vs. expected £2.7 billion, according to an average of projections compiled by the bank.
  • CET1 ratio rises to 13.1 percent.
  • £2.5 billion loss recorded from the sale of its Africa unit.

Barclays sold 33 percent of its Africa unit with a loss of £1.4 billion, and a further £1.1 billion loss over the charge of that sale, it said in the earnings report. Shares edged slightly higher as markets opened on Friday morning.

Barclays CEO: Consumer indebtedness 'something we are mindful of'

 

‘More litigation problems waiting in the wings’

Staley also explained the bank had set aside an additional £700 million in order to meet compensation claims for mis-selling payment protection insurance (PPI) in the U.K. “The sale of Barclays Africa and more PPI costs are the main culprits for the bank’s woes so far in 2017. More litigation problems are waiting in the wings, with the bank in trouble with the FCA (the U.K. regulator the Financial Conduct Authority), the SFO and the U.S. Department of Justice, a formidable triumvirate of adversaries,” Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Landsown, said in an email. The former JPMorgan banker faced investor criticism in April after he had attempted to unmask the identity of a whistleblower. Staley later apologized and admitted he had “made a mistake”.

Trump Chief Of Staff Priebus Is Out — In Biggest White House Staff Shake-Up Yet

President Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus attends an Air Traffic Control Reform Initiative event at the White House on June 5.

He rose from relative state-party obscurity and reached an unlikely pinnacle as the man responsible for the agenda of the president of the United States. Now, Reince Priebus is out of that job as White House chief of staff in the most significant shakeup of the rocky Trump presidency. Trump announced on Twitter that Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has been named as Priebus’ replacement.

As chairman of the Republican National Committee during the 2016 presidential campaign, Priebus’ team supplanted a thin Trump campaign with money and staff to help Trump win the presidency. That brought Trump and Priebus close, but it was never a natural fit — the mild-mannered, careful former Wisconsin Republican Party leader with the Midwestern accent, once critically described as the “nebbish’s nebbish,” and the flashy, cavalier New York billionaire. Priebus’ exit indicates the full decline in the White House of the RNC-led Washington wing. Priebus was the last of the high-profile RNC staffers to exit the West Wing. Months ago, Priebus’ deputy, Katie Walsh, a former RNC chief of staff, accused of being a leaker by rivals inside the White House, left to work on an outside PAC supporting Trump. Then it was Sean Spicer, the beleaguered press secretary doubling as communication director, who left the day Trump brought on board New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director. Priebus’ tenure lasted just seven months, an unusually short stint for a president’s first chief of staff.

Putin Signs Deal to Keep Russian Airbase in Syria for Another Half Century

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an agreement with the Syrian government on Wednesday to ensure a Russian presence at the Hmeymim airbase for another half century, with options to extend the lease in 25-year increments.To be precise, the deal allows Russian forces to continue using the airbase for another 49 years from now. The base, located in Latakia province, has been used by Russia to conduct airstrikes against opponents of the Assad regime since September 2015. Damascus signed off on its end of the deal in January, while the Russian parliament approved it this month. The UK Independent notes that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad visited the airbase to inspect its equipment and personnel recently and was photographed sitting in the cockpit of a Russian SU-35 fighter jet.  “The Syrian people will not forget that its Russian brothers stood next to them in this national war,” Assad wrote in the Hmeymim guestbook. Although the deal gives Russia use of the airbase free of charge, Moscow is reportedly spending about $335,000 annually to maintain the facility. A May 2016 report from CNN described the base as “large, modern, and well-maintained,” mixing Syrian military structures with Russian container housing units. CNN also wrote of the “professionalism of the troops and the pristine state of the equipment they were using “ Iran also has military bases in Syria, to the great consternation of Israel, while the United States maintains temporary installations which the Syrian government considers illegal.

US crude rises toward $50 a barrel, on track for biggest weekly gains this year

Oil prices edged higher on Friday, reaching new two-month highs and on track to post the strongest weekly percentage gains this year as investors digested signs of an easing oversupply. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 61 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $49.65 a barrel by 1:12 p.m. (1712 GMT). It was up 8.5 percent on the week. Brent crude futures were up 92 cents, or 1.8 percent, at $52.41 a barrel, rising 9.1 percent this week. The front of the crude oil curve jumped into backwardation, with the month-ahead trading above the subsequent month, showing investors are not expecting recent gains to last. Brent also broke above its 200-day moving average, a key technical level, for the first time since May 30.

An oil tanker passes storage tanks at the Citgo Refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas.

 

U.S. crude and gasoline inventories fell much more steeply than expected this week and the world’s biggest oil exporter Saudi Arabia said it would further reduce oil output in August. “Positive signs came from the draw in gasoline stocks this week, as the U.S. moves into the peak driving season,” said Ashley Kelty, oil analyst at Cenkos Securities. Oilfield services firm Baker Hughes reported the number of oil rigs operating in the United States rose by 2 to a total of 766 last week. The rig count has risen fairly steadily for more than a year, but the growth has recently moderated. U.S. crude stocks fell sharply by 7.2 million barrels in the week to July 21 due to strong refining activity and an increase in exports, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Brimming U.S. crude supplies have been a challenge to production cuts to prop up prices led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, meaning weekly U.S. inventory data is closely watched. U.S. crude oil production has been on the rise since mid-2016,but it dropped to 9.41 barrels per day (bpd) in the week to July 21, from 9.43 million bpd the week before. The decline was mainly due to a fall in Alaskan output, ANZ bank said.

Exxon Mobil profit disappoints Wall Street, Chevron shines

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) posted a rare earnings miss on Friday, the only international oil producer to do so last quarter, as production slipped in its African and Canadian operations. Exxon’s results were overshadowed by rival Chevron Corp (CVX.N), which easily exceeded Wall Street’s expectations with a double-digit percentage increase in production. Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L), Total SA (TOTF.PA) and Statoil ASA (STL.OL) this week delivered profits that topped expectations also. Chevron for years has downplayed profits to spend heavily on megaprojects in Australia, the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere. That spending now is boosting Chevron’s profit, whereas Exxon has fewer projects about to come online and many of its older assets require more capital to maintain. While profit rose sharply from a year earlier, the Irving, Texas-based company’s production slipped about 1.0 percent. “Exxon continues to really struggle on getting its output up,” said Edward Jones analyst Brian Youngberg. “Chevron is going from a cash spender to a cash generator, even without commodity prices improving,” he said. Shares of Exxon fell about 2.0 percent to $79.17 in Friday afternoon trading while shares of Chevron gained more than 2.0 percent to $108.53 per share. Oil prices CLc1 rose on Friday to a two-month high. Exxon’s stock was the worst drag on the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI, while shares of Chevron led the index higher. Both companies said they would continue to deploy drilling rigs and other equipment to the Permian Basin, the largest U.S. oilfield. That expansion, along with similar plans by other U.S. shale peers, is likely to further irritate the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which have tried with mixed success this year to tame an oversupply of crude oil.

Continue reading “Exxon Mobil profit disappoints Wall Street, Chevron shines”

John McCain votes ‘No’ on ‘skinny repeal’ of Obamacare

You have to look carefully in the video. Senator John McCain gave Obama care repeal  an aviators thumbs down!
John McCain has his sweet revenge.

Washington: The Senate has dealt a devastating setback to Trumps efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, defeating a GOP “skinny repeal” bill early Friday morning.McCain, who had voted for a motion to proceed to the bill Tuesday after returning to Washington following surgery for a brain tumor, held out all day, including in a news conference where he criticized the partisan process that led to the after-midnight vote. His surprise decision came after a prolonged drama on the Senate floor. Multiple Republican colleagues, including Vice President Mike Pence, engaged in animated conversations with the Arizona senator who has long cherished his reputation as a maverick. At one point before the final vote, Trump called Pence, who handed the phone to McCain, a source briefed on the call told CNN. The call, just off the Senate floor, was brief and ultimately unsuccessful. I guess their is a lot of shit Trump forgot to learn in the art of the deal. Like payback.

During the campaign Trump said and i heard him:

“He’s not a war hero,” said Trump. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

McCain, a former Navy pilot, spent roughly five-and-half years in a notorious North Vietnamese prison known as the “Hanoi Hilton,” where he was repeatedly tortured. He spent two of those years in solitary confinement. Nick Note: you got to love this guy

 

Oil demand could peak in about 10 years, says Shell CEO, sooner than others forecast

Shell CEO on electric cars: Electric mobility has to happen 'fast'

 

Demand for oil could peak by the late 2020s or early 2030s in a best case scenario, the CEO of Shell told CNBC, offering a faster timeline than other closely followed oil market prognosticators. To be sure, this does not reflect Shell’s baseline scenario. For oil consumption to start declining in 10 years, policy and technology will have to develop very quickly to expedite the transition to cleaner power, Ben van Beurden, chief executive officer at Royal Dutch Shell, said on Thursday. “Even in the most aggressive scenario, where policies really work at their best, where technology really makes a lot of strides in the near future, oil isn’t going to peak before the late (2020s) or early 2030s, and when it does peak it’s not going to go out of fashion overnight,” he said.Still, the view that oil consumption could start falling that fast is remarkable compared to other forecasts. In its latest annual energy outlook, BP forecast oil consumption may start declining by 2035 in its “fast transition” and “even faster transition” scenario. The International Energy Agency doesn’t see oil peaking until after 2040, even assuming nations around the world achieve announced “aims, targets and intentions” to limit carbon emissions and generate more of their energy from renewable sources. Oil firms have struggled with subdued prices in recent years. At the same time, France and the U.K. have announced plans to end petrol and diesel cars by 2040. However, Van Beurden is not worried with these changes. Van Beurden said he supports the transition to cleaner power sources, saying it is necessary to achieve climate goals adopted by most of the world to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Nick Bit: Oil demand will peek in 2020 in the middle of the great depression we will be in by then. Natural gas which will be half the price of diesel fuel and gasoline will come into vogue. and crude oil will plunge to $10 a barrel.

Republican ‘Obamacare’ repeal reeling after Senate defeat

WASHINGTON (AP) — Dealing a serious blow to President Donald Trump’s agenda, the Senate early Friday rejected a measure to repeal parts of former President Barack Obama’s health care law after a night of high suspense in the U.S. Capitol.Unable to pass even a so-called “skinny repeal,” it was unclear if Senate Republicans could advance any health bill despite seven years of promises to repeal “Obamacare.” “This is clearly a disappointing moment,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “I regret that our efforts were not enough, this time.” “It’s time to move on,” he said. The vote was 49-51 with three Republicans joining all Democrats in voting ‘no.’ Trump responded on Twitter: “3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!” A key vote to defeat the measure was cast by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who returned to the Senate this week after receiving a diagnosis of brain cancer. In an impassioned speech the day he returned, McCain had called for bipartisanship on major issues of national concern, and a return to the “regular order” of legislating by committee.The amendment was a last resort for Senate Republicans to pass something — anything — to trigger negotiations with the House.

Scaramucci Says Priebus Will be Fired, Leakers Prosecuted in Phone Call

White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci communicated his displeasure with regular leaks from the White House in a phone call Wednesday night. Scaramucci reached out to New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza after Lizza tweeted a scoop about Scaramucci and Fox News host Sean Hannity having dinner at the White House with President Donald Trump. He wanted to know who, exactly, had told Lizza about the dinner. Leaking has been a serious problem for the Trump White House, with at least one national security leak per day since Trump took office. Scaramucci promised that he would fire his whole department if it was needed to clear out leakers. “What I’m going to do is, I will eliminate everyone in the comms team and we’ll start over,” he told Lizza. When Lizza refused to tell him if the leaker was an assistant to the President, Scaramucci said, “O.K., I’m going to fire every one of them, and then you haven’t protected anybody, so the entire place will be fired over the next two weeks.” He also attacked his White House colleagues, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon. “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock,” he said. “I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the President. I’m here to serve the country.” As for Priebus, Scaramucci called him “a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,” and intimated that he expected the Chief of Staff to soon depart the West Wing. “Reince Priebus—if you want to leak something—he’ll be asked to resign very shortly,” he told Lizza.

 

 

 

Wisconsin governor defends $3 billion deal for Foxconn plant

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker defended his plan to give a $3 billion tax break over 15 years to convince Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn to build a $10 billion LCD flat screen factory. The 20-million square foot plant will initially employ 3,000 people, but Walker and Foxconn said the company ultimately may employ 13,000 people at the site. Rival Republican Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan tweaked Walker, saying: “You have to ask what price is Wisconsin paying to get them to come there?” Snyder told WJR Radio on Thursday, adding: “I don’t believe in buying companies into our states.” “What we’re proposing is not outrageous,” Walker told a local radio station, saying the deal would also create 10,000 construction jobs. Walker’s office said the incentives are projected to cost between $200 million and $250 million a year, capped at $3 billion. That includes up to $1.5 billion in state income tax credits for job creation, up to $1.35 billion in state income tax credits for capital investment and up to $150 million for the sales and use tax exemption – a sales tax holiday. Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Martha Laning said “while we are all thrilled at the prospect of new jobs coming to the state” she was concerned about “handing over taxpayer funds to foreign investors that could potentially leave Wisconsinites with the bill decades into the future.” Not all Foxconn investments announced have resulted in new jobs. In 2013, Foxconn said it would invest $30 million and hire 500 workers for a new factory in Pennsylvania. But that facility was never completed. Nick Bit: this plant will never be completed. And if is was completed it would be a low pay factory job assembling smart phones. And it would employ more robots then people

 

Iran Launches a ICBM capable of hitting the US with nukes. America is sleeping

Iran says it has successfully tested a rocket that can deliver satellites into orbit, days after the US imposed new economic sanctions on Tehran over its ballistic missile programme. The Phoenix rocket was launched from a new space centre in Semnan in northern Iran. The US criticised the launch and described it as a provocative action. It is the fifth launch of a domestically produced satellite since 2009. Iranian state TV said the launch vehicle could send a 250kg satellite to an altitude of 500 km (300 miles). US state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that if confirmed, the test could violate UN Security Council resolutions. Iran had vowed to respond to the latest set of US sanctions, which targeted 18 entities or individuals that had supported Iran’s ballistic missile programme or the country’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps. The new sanctions came a day after the Trump administration certified that Tehran was complying with a 2015 deal to limit its nuclear programme. But the state department said Iran’s actions in the Middle East were malign and undercut any “positive contributions” from the nuclear deal. Iran’s parliament voted earlier this month to fast-track a bill to increase funds for Iran’s missile programme and the Revolutionary Guards. Nick Bit: I watched this launch live on one of my satellite feeds. It bought a tear to my eye. These are the rockets that one day will be delivering  nukes.

Asia Times: CIA Analyst: Beijing Poses a Greater Threat than Russia

Chinese soldiers ride in tanks as they pass in front of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City during a military parade
Chinese soldiers ride in tanks as they pass in front of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City during a military parade / Getty Images

A senior CIA analyst has offered a rare public glimpse into American intelligence analysis of China. Michael Collins, deputy assistant director and head of the agency’s East Asia mission center, believes more attention should be focused on China and that recent public angst about Russia is distracting America from the threat posed by China.”There’s been a lot of talk about Russia as a competitor, a country that sees the liberal international order as something they don’t necessarily subscribe to, that is actively engaged in trying to undermine US influence in various areas around the world, and that has [the] capability to do it,” Collins said at a security forum in Aspen, Colorado. “I would argue China applies to all three of those as well, and increasingly has more power to do far more about that issue.”

Scaramucci threats, insults inflame fierce White House fight

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s new communications director exploded the smoldering tensions at the White House into a full-fledged conflagration Thursday, angrily daring Trump’s chief of staff to deny he’s a “leaker” and exposing West Wing backstabbing in language more suitable to a mobster movie than a seat of presidential stability. In a pull-no-punches, impromptu CNN interview that he said was authorized by the president, Anthony Scaramucci went after chief of staff Reince Priebus in graphic terms. “The fish stinks from the head down,” he said. “I can tell you two fish that don’t stink, and that’s me and the president.”As new White House communications director. Anthony Scaramucci publicly attacks chief of staff Reince Priebus on Thursday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn’t answer repeated reporter questions about whether Trump has confidence in him. Scaramucci accused unidentified senior officials of trying to sabotage him and committing a felony by leaking information. But the personal financial information that he said someone had “leaked” about him had simply been obtained through a public records request. Then in an interview published by The New Yorker late Thursday, an angry Scaramucci used an expletive to accuse Priebus of being a “f—— paranoid schizophrenic” and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon of trying to burnish his own reputation. He also threatened to fire White House staffers who leaked about a dinner he had with the president. “They’ll all be fired by me,” Scaramucci told the magazine. “I fired one guy the other day. I have three to four people I’ll fire tomorrow. I’ll get to the person who leaked that to you. Reince Priebus — if you want to leak something — he’ll be asked to resign very shortly.”

 

Sessions: Trump’s Public Criticisms Are ‘Kind of Hurtful’

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions / Getty Images

Fox producer Pat Ward tweeted out an excerpt of the transcript of Sessions’ sit-down with Carlson, who hosts “Tucker Carlson Tonight” at 8 p.m. ET.”You have seen the president’s criticism of you. Do you think it’s fair?” Carlson asked. “Well, um, it’s kind of hurtful, but the president of the United States is a strong leader,” Sessions said. “He is determined to move this country in the direction that he believes it needs to go to make it great again, and he has had a lot of criticism and he’s steadfast, determined to get his job done, and he wants all of us to do our job, and that’s what I intend to do.”

Sessions said last week he loved his work at the Department of Justice and would stay as long as it was appropriate. Trump has not stated if he plans to fire him, but he has reportedly mulled over removing him and replacing him with a new attorney general during the Senate recess. Senate Democrats and some Republicans have warned Trump against firing Sessions; Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) said Thursday there would be “holy hell to pay” if Trump did it.

Psychologists fight blame for CIA’s interrogation tactics

SEATTLE (AP) — The two psychologists who helped design the CIA’s harsh interrogation methods used in the war on terror are battling with a civil liberties group over their responsibility for detainees being subjected to waterboarding and beatings following the Sept. 11 attacks. Lawyers for the psychologists say they should be as free from liability as a worker for a company that supplied the Nazis with poison gas used in concentration camps. The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging that claim, saying psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen should be held accountable for the methods they crafted. The group has sued the pair on behalf of three former detainees, including one who died in custody. Both sides will appear Friday before a U.S. judge in Spokane, Washington. The outcome of the arguments in U.S. District Court will determine whether the lawsuit goes to trial, set for Sept. 5. Nick Bit: This is a tough one. but the undeniable fact is torture does not work. Think about it. You going to tell them what ever you think they want to hear. When yet let government start torturing people they start out with the bad guys. Eventually they get around to the good guys. What every power you give them eventually they abuse the shit out of it

Continue reading “Psychologists fight blame for CIA’s interrogation tactics”

Italy’s ‘immortal’ Silvio Berlusconi bouncing back in polls and could become kingmaker

Silvio Berlusconi
Getty Images Silvio Berlusconi

The center-right party of Italian politician and ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is leading voter polls in the country and could now be central to forming a new government in elections looking likely in early 2018, according to analysts. Despite a political career that has been plagued by corruption allegations and sex scandals, Berlusconi is seeing a bounce back in opinion polls against a backdrop of increasing voter anger and apathy at the state of Italian politics. Last weekend, an Ipsos poll conducted for Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera showed that Berlusconi was back leading the polls and that a center-right coalition — made up of Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and other similar conservative parties Lega Nord and Fratelli d’Italia — could capture up to 35 percent of votes. “Former PM Silvio Berlusconi is increasingly likely to become the kingmaker after the next elections, which are unlikely to take place before early 2018,” he said. “Between a center-left that seems to be in a perpetual crisis and a populist Five Star Movement (M5S) that is recovering from a disastrous performance in the recent local elections, the center-right is enjoying positive momentum. This is largely due to the work of the eternal survivor of Italian politics, Silvio Berlusconi.”

ConocoPhillips trims capex after posting quarterly loss

Houston (Reuters) – ConocoPhillips (COP.N) slashed its 2017 capital spending by 4 percent on Thursday, the latest U.S. oil and natural gas producer to do so in reaction to depressed crude prices. Conoco and its peers had mapped out ambitious capital spending programs for 2017 early in the year, expecting oil prices to be higher than where they are today, just under $50 per barrel. But Conoco became the latest this week to cut its spending plans, after Hess Corp (HES.N), Anadarko Petroleum Corp (APC.N) and others.

“This is the right approach for value creation in the upstream sector, especially at a time of uncertainty in the commodity markets,” Conoco Chief Executive Officer Ryan Lance said in a statement.Conoco now plans to spend $4.8 billion this year, down from a prior estimate of $5 billion. The cut came after Conoco reported its quarterly loss more than tripled despite recent asset sales.Conoco has aggressively moved to sell assets and cull debt in the past year, steps praised by Wall Street. The company repaid $3 billion in debt during the quarter and expects to pay off $2.4 billion by the end of the year, which would bring its debt load under $20 billion.

Conoco’s net loss widened to $3.4 billion, or $2.78 per share, in the quarter, from $1.1 billion, or 78 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned 14 cents per share. By that measure, analysts expected a loss of 2 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Production fell 8 percent to 1.4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. Conoco is the latest international oil major to pull back from northern Alberta’s oil sands, among the most costly locations in the world to develop.

Twitter stock plunges as it fails to deliver user growth

Twitter beats Street but monthly users remain flat

 

Twitter reported a lower-than-expected number of monthly active users in its second-quarter earnings release Thursday. The company’s shares dropped as much as 13 percent in midday trading after it reported 328 million monthly active users, unchanged from the previous quarter. “You have zero user growth versus Facebook reporting 70 million new users [after the bell Wednesday],” Aegis Capital internet analyst Victor Anthony said Thursday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “It’s not a recipe for a stock you want to buy.” Advertising revenue also decreased 8 percent year over year, totaling $489 million compared with $535 million in the same quarter last year.

Expectations vs. results

  • EPS (non-GAAP): $0.12 cents vs. $0.05 expected, according to Thomson Reuters.
  • Revenue: $574 million vs. $536.7 million expected, according to Thomson Reuters.
  • Monthly active users: 328 million vs. 329 million expected, according to StreetAccount.
  • Quarterly GAAP net loss was $116 million, representing GAAP diluted EPS of ($0.16).

Twitter started the year strong when the company reported 9 million more monthly active users than expected in the first quarter. User growth has been a concern for investors, who see the 328 million active Twitter users as severely lagging behind Facebook’s more than 2 billion. The social media platform admits it needs to continue to bring its revenue growth in line with its user growth, but Twitter executives remain confident recent efforts are helping to reverse recently declining revenue.

 

 

Russia, Iran Threaten ‘Definitive,’ ‘Painful’ Response to U.S. Sanctions

Officials in both Russia and Iran are threatening retaliation against new sanctions imposed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday. The sanctions bill passed by a vote of 419-3, its overwhelming support partially attributed to the way it challenges President Donald Trump’s authority by pre-empting any White House effort to weaken sanctions on Russia. All three of the “no” votes were from Republicans: Representatives Justin Amash of Michigan, Tom Massie of Kentucky, and John Duncan of Tennessee. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) described the measure as “one of the most expansive sanctions packages in history” and said it “tightens the screws on our most dangerous adversaries in order to keep Americans safe.” The future of the bill in the Senate is unclear at the moment. “I guess the House is sending something over and we’ll have to figure out what to do with it,” Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) shrugged in a CNN interview. Russia and Iran were quick to express outrage after the strong bipartisan vote for the House bill. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the measure leaves no “room for the normalization of relations” between his country and the United States. Ryabkov said the House vote “goes beyond the realms of common sense.”

Wells Fargo moves more auto staff to central hubs, eyes rebranding: memo

(Reuters) – Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) is making more structural and management changes to its auto lending unit, according to an internal memo viewed by Reuters, part of the bank’s effort to control risk more effectively. The latest overhaul will phase out 57 regional offices across the United States and eliminate the positions of those regional managers, according to the memo. Loan funding staff will shift from regional offices to two central locations in Chandler, Arizona, and Irving, Texas, while credit underwriting personnel and salespeople who call on dealerships will remain in local markets under a new management structure. Wells’ auto business, called Wells Fargo Dealer Services, is also likely to get a name change to reflect that it works with retail customers as well as dealers, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly. “This decision was made with careful consideration for our team members, dealer relationships and consumer customers and will take several months to complete as we work to position Dealer Services for future growth in an evolving marketplace,” Pulley said in an emailed statement. Pulley declined to comment on whether there will be a name change or to say how many employees might be affected by the reorganization. Earlier this year Wells Fargo similarly consolidated its auto loan collections staff, a move that could eliminate hundreds of jobs. Nick Bit: Let me let you on on a secret. They are going to wipe out in Auto loans, Credit card and bad mortgage paper. You heard it here first. Changing the name and the zip code will not protect the guilty

 

Deutsche Bank expects lower 2017 revenue after mixed second quarter

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) forecast lower full-year revenue and only a modest improvement in earnings on Thursday, after a drop in capital markets trading hit second-quarter sales. The muted outlook and a 10 percent fall in revenue sent shares in Germany’s biggest bank almost 4 percent lower by midday on concerns its turnaround could prove a long slog rather than a quick fix. Chief Executive John Cryan said the group’s second-quarter profitability fell short of its longer-term goals. “Revenues were not as universally strong as we would have liked, in large measure because of muted client activity in many of the capital markets,” he said in a statement. Cryan later suggested that the outlook for trading income could improve in the second half of the year. In an interview on CNBC, Cryan said he “can’t imagine” volatility levels would stay as low as they currently are. Deutsche Bank has become a major player on Wall Street over the past two decades but extravagant bets and poor conduct have resulted in a litigation bill of 15 billion euros ($17.6 billion) since 2009. Nick Bit: they are up to their Bratwurst in money losing derivatives. i except them to go belly up in the coming wipeout

Why record U.S. oil exports are poised for even more growth

NEW YORK/HOUSTON (Reuters) – U.S. refineries are producing more fuel than ever as they seek to meet rising demand – from overseas, rather than the drivers on nearby roadways. Last year, the U.S. became the world’s top net exporter of fuel, an outgrowth of booming domestic production since the shale oil revolution started in 2010. That’s a fundamental shift from the traditional U.S. role in global markets as a top importer and consumer. Net exports are on track to hit another record in 2017, making foreign fuel markets increasingly important for the future growth prospects and profit margins of U.S. refiners. Shale oil producers have provided refiners with abundant and cheap domestic crude supplies, giving them the raw material they need to produce internationally competitive fuel. The nation set a record in 2016 by sending a net 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of petroleum products to foreign markets. That compares to net fuel imports of 2.3 million just a decade ago, according to U.S. government data. Booming exports have bolstered margins at the biggest U.S. refiners – including Marathon Petroleum and Valero – and compensated for lack of strong growth this year in U.S. fuel demand. Now, the government of U.S. President Donald Trump is seeking to deregulate oil and gas production to further leverage rising U.S. exports for international political gain – a policy Trump calls “energy dominance”. Surging U.S. crude production has already complicated the ongoing effort by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to tame a global glut that has halved oil prices since 2014.

CFTC commissioner nominees pledge to complete position limit rules

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Three of President Donald Trump’s nominees to serve as commissioners on Wall Street’s top derivatives regulatory agency on Thursday pledged to work to complete rules that would restrict trading by market speculators who bet on the rise and fall of prices. The nominees to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Republicans Dawn Stump and Brian Quintenz, and Democrat Rostin “Russ” Behnam, told the Senate Agriculture Committee during their confirmation hearing that they are committed to working to craft a final “position limits” rule that would limit speculators without harming farmers, ranchers and others who rely on futures markets to hedge their business risks. Bonham said: “The relevant question is not whether or not position limits should be completed, but how they should be completed.” The CFTC won broad new powers under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform to police the massive over-the-counter derivatives markets. The agency has largely implemented the bulk of the rules, which required many kinds of derivatives to be cleared centrally to reduce the risk of default and traded on platforms with greater price transparency. Acting CFTC Chairman Chris Giancarlo, who is awaiting Senate confirmation as permanent chairman, earlier this year launched a review that aims to streamline and simplify existing regulations. However, there are still a number of outstanding rules that need to be completed, with the position limits rule one of the most notable.

 

Trump’s transgender troops ban divides veterans in Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s decision to ban transgender service in the armed forces drove a wedge through military veterans in Congress, with one camp standing squarely behind the commander in chief and the other decrying his order as an ugly attack on dedicated troops.Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., a former Army helicopter pilot who lost her legs and partial use of her right arm during the Iraq war, called Trump’s announcement discriminatory. Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla., said Trump’s decision is understandable given the mounting concern among members of Congress over the amount of money the Pentagon is required to spend on gender transition surgeries and hormone therapy. Russell, a retired Army officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said service members undergoing these medical procedures often aren’t ready to deploy. “I’m not surprised that the administration has come out like this,” Russell said on C-Span’s Washington Journal. Trump’s tweets announcing the ban came as the administration and House GOP leaders were trying to work out a problem involving medical costs for service members seeking to transition to another gender while serving in the military, an issue that had created problems for a sweeping spending bill. According to a senior Republican aide, House leaders were taken by surprise when Trump announced the broader ban; they had been pressing for a more narrow response. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because the individual was not authorized to publicly discuss internal talks. “There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military — regardless of their gender identity,” said McCain, who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.

 

 

 

UBS expects wider loss for Tesla; thinks Model S and X demand is slackening

An employee works on a Telsa Motors Model S sedan as it makes its way along an assembly line at company's assembly plant in Fremont, California.
Noah Berger | Bloomberg | Getty Images An employee works on a Telsa Motors Model S sedan as it makes its way along an assembly line at company’s assembly plant in Fremont, California.

UBS now expects a wider loss for Tesla’s second quarter, citing the company’s recent decline in quarterly vehicle deliveries. In a note sent Wednesday, UBS analyst Colin Langan said he projects a loss per share for the period of $1.80, compared with an earlier estimate of $1.32 per share. His full-year estimate is now for a loss per share of $4.20, compared with $3.70 a share, due to a shortfall in vehicle deliveries. Tesla announced in early July it had delivered just more than 22,000 vehicles in the second quarter, far below the 25,000 it delivered in the first. The company blamed the drop on a severe production shortfall of 100 kilowatt-hour battery packs, which are made with different technology than Tesla’s smaller capacity packs. Tesla did say later that in the final days of the quarter, 3,500 vehicles were in transit to their owners and would be counted along with third-quarter results. But Langan said demand for the S and X models is slowing, given roughly flat production since the fourth quarter of 2016, the offering of the lower-priced 60D versions, the age of the Model S and rising inventory. Langan also expects capital expenditures to push Tesla’s second-quarter cash burn to $1.4 billion, far above the roughly $620 million spent in the first quarter. He said stock dilution is likely at some point, given the capital needed to deliver 2 million units in 10 years, which is what Langan thinks is priced into the stock.

 

Noble shares plummet nearly 50 percent after announcing profit warning, asset sales

The stock tumbled as low as 29.5 Singapore cents, or 22 U.S. cents. At 9:08 a.m. HK/SIN, the stock was down 36.52 percent at S$0.365.

The company logo of Noble Group at its headquarters in Hong Kong

At its peak in 2010, Noble was Asia’s largest commodity trader with a market cap of more than $10 billion. Shares hit an all-time high of 17 Singapore dollars in 2011, but have since fallen as it struggles with the aggressive commodity price decline in recent years. Noble has been forced to shuffle management, sell down assets and slash costs to boost liquidity. At the same time, its management has been navigating a series of credit downgrades, write-downs and accusations of improper accounting standards — all of which contributed to the dramatic collapse in its share price. Thursday’s massive drop followed the company’s announcement on Wednesday that it expected to report a loss of as much as $1.8 billion for the second quarter, citing a continued challenging environment for both the company and the commodity sector. It said its headcount would be cut to around 400 from around 900 currently. Noble also posted a surprise loss of $129 million for the first quarter, which the company said caused “difficulties” in managing and supporting its supply chain and hedging activities as well as hurting the confidence of its lenders and other counter-parties. “The board believes that the commodities trading industry will continue to face both challenging conditions and realignment as established participants face a low margin trading environment against the backdrop of changing banking and regulatory landscapes and the potential for digital disruption,” it said in the statement on Wednesday after the market closed. Noble said it was positioning for continued stress, adding it expected the industry would face difficulty accessing liquidity as lenders cut their exposure to the sector.

‘Big Oil’ fights back

Conventional oil and gas producers are approving new projects at the fastest rate since the oil price crash three years ago in a sign of “big oil” fighting back against competition from US shale producers amid low crude prices.More new oil and gasfields were given the go-ahead in the first half of this year than in the whole of 2016 as companies such as ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell and BP re-engineer projects to lower costs and accelerate speed of development. Average development costs have fallen 40 per cent since 2014, according to Wood Mackenzie, the energy consultancy, encouraging companies to revive investment despite continued weakness in the oil market. But they are doing so on a highly selective basis, with only the most attractive projects going ahead.

Barrels are filled with oil at a Royal Dutch Shell lubricants blending plant in Torzhok, Russia.
Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg | Getty Images Barrels are filled with oil at a Royal Dutch Shell lubricants blending plant in Torzhok, Russia.

Conventional oil and gas producers are approving new projects at the fastest rate since the oil price crash three years ago in a sign of “big oil” fighting back against competition from US shale producers amid low crude prices. More new oil and gasfields were given the go-ahead in the first half of this year than in the whole of 2016 as companies such as ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell and BP re-engineer projects to lower costs and accelerate speed of development. The first six months of this year saw 15 large conventional upstream oil and gas projects given the green light, with reserves of about 8bn barrels of oil and oil equivalent, according to WoodMac. This compared with 12 projects approved in the whole of 2016, containing about 8.8bn barrels.

US: North Korea could launch nuclear-capable missile by next year

Washington (CNN)The US believes that North Korea will be able to launch a reliable nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by early 2018, a US official familiar with the latest intelligence assessment confirmed to CNN Wednesday. That would be an acceleration of two years from previous estimates that put Pyongyang three to five years from fully developing long-range missile capabilities. The official clarified to CNN that while North Korea can currently get a missile “off the ground,” there are still a lot of undetermined variables about guidance, re-entry and the ability to hit a specific target.The ongoing assessment from the US intelligence community in recent months has been that North Korea has accelerated its intercontinental range ballistic missile program.  On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Defense Intelligence Agency declined to comment directly on a report from The Washington Post that the agency’s latest assessment concludes Pyongyang will have a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile as early as next year but admitted that Pyongyang’s missile capabilities are progressing. “North Korea’s recent test of an intercontinental range ballistic missile — which was not a surprise to the intelligence community — is one of the milestones that we have expected would help refine our timeline and judgments on the threats that Kim Jong Un poses to the continental United States,” Scott Bray, National Intelligence Manager for East Asia, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told CNN.

Whole Foods profit down as same-store sales declines persists

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Whole Foods Market Inc (WFM.O), which has agreed to be bought by Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) for $13.7 billion, on Wednesday reported a quarterly profit decline after same-store sales fell for the eighth quarter in a row. Shares in the upscale grocer, which released the financial report more than two hours earlier than expected, were largely unchanged at $41.80 in midday trading. Net income fell to $106 million, or 33 cents per share, from $120 million, or 37 cents per share, a year earlier.The Austin, Texas-based upscale grocer reported a 1.9 percent drop in same-store sales for the third quarter that ended July 2. Whole Foods said it expects to close its deal with Amazon during the second half of this year, and said it would not update its earnings forecasts and would not hold a conference call.

The great fall of China stocks is near

Reuters/Aly Song

China is in the beginning stages of a credit bubble unraveling, which is likely to have an outcome similar to the 1997-98 Asian Crisis. I am surprised that after the Chinese stock market crashed in 2015 we have not yet seen this hard landing. It is true that China still has much stronger government control over its economy and the Chinese authorities are fighting this hard landing with all they’ve got. Many investors are looking at the stabilization of the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, +0.12%  and mainland economic data and thinking that China is out of the woods. Will China succeed in ultimately preventing a hard landing? I don’t think so .Ultimately, the clock is running out on the Chinese economy, which is in the first stages of an unraveling credit bubble. As the Chinese economy has slowed dramatically, borrowing has picked up dramatically if you look at a broad credit measure like total social financing. It’s like living on credit cards to live beyond one’s means — only in this case the picture is incomplete as it does not include shadow-banking lending activities, which are as large as China’s GDP by some estimates. Include shadow banking, and China’s situation is similar to living large on credit cards, and when no credit lines are available, visiting the local loan shark and getting another high-rate loan.

 

British economy continues its sluggish start to the year with growth of 0.3% in the second quarter

Britain’s economy continued its sluggish start to the year, new data out today reveals. Growth accelerated in the between April and June thanks to a rebound from the services sector. Growth in movies and retail sales also boosted the figure.  The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said gross domestic product (GDP) came in line with economists’ expectations, growing by 0.3 per cent in its initial estimate for the second quarter of the year. It marked a slight improvement on the 0.2 per cent growth seen during the first quarter of the year, but failed to match a reading of 0.7 per cent for the final three months of 2016. The figures will be interrogated to find evidence of the impact of the Brexit vote and will be crucial as Chancellor Philip Hammond plots his next Budget. The Chancellor has warned the economy is likely to be turbulent while Brexit is negotiated.   The second quarter performance was underpinned by the services sector, with output expanding by 0.5 per cent between April and June, up from 0.1 per cent for the quarter before. However, the construction and manufacturing industry held back the economy, falling by 0.9 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively for the period. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the economy was now at its weakest point since 2012.

State Dept. in ‘Open War’ With White House

Source: State Dept. ignoring White House edicts, going rogue on key issues

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson / Getty Images

The State Department under Secretary Rex Tillerson has been locked in a growing power struggle with the White House that has angered officials in the West Wing and sparked claims that the Trump administration’s top diplomatic organ is now in “open war” with the White House on a range of critical issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian impasse, Iran, the crisis with Qatar, and other matters, according to multiple sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon about the situation. The State Department is said to be in a state of “massive dysfunction,” with top officials working under Tillerson ignoring White House directives on critical staffing issues and key policy matters, according to multiple sources, including administration allies who are said to be increasingly frustrated with what is perceived as the White House’s inability to control its own federal agencies. The tensions have fueled an outstanding power battle between the West Wing and State Department that has handicapped the administration and resulted in scores of open positions failing to be filled with Trump confidantes. This has allowed former Obama administration appointees still at the State Department to continue running the show and formulating policy, where they have increasingly clashed with the White House’s own agenda. The latest flashpoint in this growing civil war is Israel, where a string of terror attacks has sidetracked the Trump administration’s nascent efforts to get the Israelis and Palestinian back to the negotiating table. Just hours after a Palestinian terrorist murdered several Jewish civilians, the State Department told the Free Beacon that it is not clear what motivates such violent acts. The statement sparked anger within the administration and on Capitol Hill, where many viewed the State Department’s declaration as a sign the agency is openly rebelling against the White House. “It’s no secret that the State Department is waging an open political war, which includes policy insubordination and press campaigns, against the Trump White House,” according to one veteran foreign policy analyst who regularly briefs the White House and Trump appointees in the State Department.

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Sperm count falling sharply in developed world, researchers say

Sperm counts in men from America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand have dropped by more than 50 percent in less than 40 years, researchers said on Tuesday. They also said the rate of decline is not slowing. Both findings — in a meta-analysis bringing together various studies — pointed to a potential decline in male health and fertility. “This study is an urgent wake-up call for researchers and health authorities around the world to investigate the causes of the sharp ongoing drop in sperm count,” said Hagai Levine, who co-led the work at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine in Jerusalem. The analysis did not explore reasons for the decline, but researchers said falling sperm counts have previously been linked to various factors such as exposure to certain chemicals and pesticides, smoking, stress and obesity. This suggests measures of sperm quality may reflect the impact of modern living on male health and act as a “canary in the coal mine” signalling broader health risks, they said. Studies have reported declines in sperm count since the early 1990s, but many of those have been questioned because they did not account for potentially major confounding factors such as age, sexual activity and the types of men involved. Working with a team of researchers in the United States, Brazil, Denmark, Israel and Spain, Levine screened and brought together the findings of 185 sperm count studies from 1973 to 2011 and then conducted a so-called meta-regression analysis. The results, published in the journal Human Reproduction Update, showed a 52.4 percent decline in sperm concentration and a 59.3 percent decline in total sperm count among North American, European, Australian and New Zealand men.

Seagate shares plunge more than 16% after earnings

Shares of Seagate tumbled more than 16 percent on  amid a management shake-up and financial results that were far worse than expected. The technology company posted adjusted earnings of 65 cents per share, excluding items, in the fiscal fourth quarter. The earnings badly missed estimates: Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to post more than 30 cents more per share, with an estimate of 98 cents per share. Seagate reported revenue of about $2.41 billion in the latest quarter, below the $2.562 expected by a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate. This time last year, Seagate had revenue of $2.65 billion. Long-time Seagate CEO Steve Luczo said in a statement that the company saw short-term fluctuations in demand for Seagate’s data storage technology amid higher prices in the memory market. Seagate will slash 600 jobs to cut costs.

Luzco also said on Tuesday that he would transition out of the CEO role in October and remain chairman. Chief Operating Officer Dave Mosley was named new CEO.

“As I said to someone the other day, that running a disc drive company is a little bit like driving in stop and go traffic,” Luzco said in the conference call transcribed by FactSet. “Sometimes you’re going 15 miles an hour and sometimes you’re going 85 miles an hour. But you usually get to your destination on time and no one is hurt, but it’s stressful as s— for the driver and oftentimes for the passengers too.”

 

 

Wall Street’s ‘fear gauge’ poised for record low

Wall Street's 'fear gauge' poised for new record low

 

The stock market’s so-called fear index was tracking for a record low close on Tuesday. The CBOE Volatility Index (.VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, hit 9.04 Tuesday, its lowest since Dec. 27, 1993, when it traded as low as 8.89. If the VIX ends the day below 9.31, it will break the closing record low set on Dec. 22, 1993. On Monday, the VIX closed below 10 for an eighth-straight day. Most market analysts have noted the decline in the VIX doesn’t necessarily imply market complacency. Rather, the drop in the index reflects its structure, tracking the bets of options traders on whether the S&P 500 index will rise or fall. Options give traders the right to buy or sell an asset at a preset price, and the steady rise in the S&P 500 has given traders little reason to bet on a significant, volatile drop in the stock index. The VIX has fallen to lows not seen in more than two decades amid U.S. stocks’ steady climb higher, prompting some concern that when market volatility returns, it will spike significantly. One investor has bet about 1 million options contracts that the VIX will shoot up to 25 by October, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The trade could pay out about $265 million if correct, the newspaper said, citing a volatility strategist. The S&P 500 has climbed 15 percent since the election and closed at a record for the 27th time this year on July 19. The stock index set a fresh all-time high Tuesday morning, with energy and financial shares leading the advance. Nick bit: VIX ETF trade coming i can’t stand it. i got to grab some.

Report: Tillerson Tells Friends He’ll Be Lucky to Last a Year at State Department

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson / Getty Images

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has told friends he will be lucky to last a year in his job, according to a friend, while two officials said national security adviser H.R. McMaster was frustrated by what he sees as disorganization and indiscipline on key policy issues inside the White House. A source familiar with the situation told Reuters that Tillerson was “very upset at not having autonomy, independence and control over his own department and the ability to do the job the way the job … is traditionally done.” The source said he had heard nothing about any possible departure, but added: “The situation doesn’t seem to be getting any better, and in some respects appears to be getting worse.”

A spokesman for Tillerson denied that the secretary was thinking of leaving his position. Tillerson and McMaster have been pushing for the United States to take a larger role in international leadership, while Bannon and Gorka have been pushing President Donald Trump’s “America First” platform. White House staffers further sparked Tillerson’s ire by questioning him on new hires for the State Department. Although Tillerson and other senior State Department aides have recommended individuals for several different positions, the administration has refused to move ahead. There has also been reported tension between the White House and State Department over Israel. Tillerson’s agency has placed blame on Israel for acts of Palestinian terror, the Washington Free Beacon reports, placing it at odds with Trump’s team.

Oil jumps to 7-week high as OPEC raises hopes of market rebalancing

Oil prices rallied Tuesday to settle at their highest level in seven weeks, as fresh pledges from Saudi Arabia and Nigeria to, respectively, reduce crude exports and limit output raised hopes of a market rebalance. September West Texas Intermediate crude CLU7, +1.27%  rose $1.55, or 3.3%, to settle at $47.89 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That was the highest finish since June 6 and the best single-session dollar and percentage gain of the year, according to FactSet data. At the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ committee meeting on Monday in Russia, which included some non-OPEC producers, Saudi Arabia announced it would cut August exports to 6.6 million barrels a day, which would be a million less than a year earlier. The kingdom, the world’s biggest crude exporter, typically rolls back shipments in the summer as domestic demand peaks, though a shipment cut of that size would notably expedite market rebalancing, some analysts contend. Meanwhile, Nigeria, which has been exempt from this year’s OPEC-led production-cut deal, vowed to keep daily production at no greater than 1.8 million barrels. The cartel’s latest data put the country’s output at 1.64 million. Jameel Ahmad, vice president of market research at FXTM, was a bit more pessimistic. “OPEC is still trapped in what could be described as a ‘mission impossible’ scenario,” he said. “The cartel is ultimately being trapped between a combination of an ongoing oversupply in the atmosphere, being pressured towards making further cuts and not being in control of production from elsewhere around the globe.”

 

Newly declassified memos detail extent of improper Obama-era NSA spying

The National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation violated specific civil liberty protections during the Obama years by improperly searching and disseminating raw intelligence on Americans or failing to promptly delete unauthorized intercepts, according to newly declassified memos that provide some of the richest detail to date on the spy agencies’ ability to obey their own rules. The memos reviewed by The Hill were publicly released on July 11 through Freedom of Information Act litigation by the American Civil Liberties Union. They detail specific violations that the NSA or FBI disclosed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or the Justice Department’s national security division during President Obama’s tenure between 2009 and 2016. The intelligence community isn’t due to report on compliance issues for 2017, the first year under the Trump administration, until next spring. The NSA says that the missteps amount to a small number — less than 1 percent — when compared to the hundreds of thousands of specific phone numbers and email addresses the agencies intercepted through the so-called Section 702 warrantless spying program created by Congress in late 2008. “Quite simply, a compliance program that never finds an incident is not a robust compliance program,” said Michael T. Halbig, the NSA’s chief spokesman. “…The National Security Agency has in place a strong compliance program that identifies incidents, reports them to external overseers, and then develops appropriate solutions to remedy any incidents.” But critics say the memos undercut the intelligence community’s claim that it has robust protections for Americans incidentally intercepted under the program. “Americans should be alarmed that the NSA is vacuuming up their emails and phone calls without a warrant,” said Patrick Toomey, an ACLU staff attorney in New York who helped pursue the FOIA litigation. “The NSA claims it has rules to protect our privacy, but it turns out those rules are weak, full of loopholes, and violated again and again.”

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Former CIA Director Calls For A Coup If Trump Fires Mueller

In the most vocal opposition to president Donald Trump yet, former CIA Director John Brennan said that if the White House tries to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, government officials should refuse to follow the president orders, as they would be – in his view – “inconsistent” with the duties of the executive branch.

“I think it’s the obligation of some executive branch officials to refuse to carry that out. I would just hope that this is not going to be a partisan issue. That Republicans, Democrats are going to see that the future of this government is at stake and something needs to be done for the good of the future,” Brennan told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer at the Aspen Security Forum, effectively calling for a coup against the president should Trump give the order to fire Mueller.

SEE SHOCKING VIDEO BELOW

 

Russian banker who met Trump son-in-law not acting on our orders: Kremlin

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A senior Russian banker who met President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, did not do so on the Kremlin’s orders, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday. Kushner, who was quizzed on Monday by Senate investigators on his contacts with Russians as part of an investigation into possible Kremlin meddling in last year’s presidential election, said he had met Sergei Gorkov, the head of Russian state-owned Vnesheconombank, on Dec. 13. Russia flatly denies it interfered with the U.S. election. When asked about Kushner’s meeting on Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call that Gorkov had been in the United States as part of a roadshow meeting various U.S. representatives in the course of his work. “These contacts do no need any approval from the Kremlin and naturally (these meetings) did not happen on the Kremlin’s orders,” Peskov said. He said it was “normal practice” for the head of a major Russian bank conducting a roadshow to hold various meetings.

Hot mic caught two senators discussing Trump and the federal budget, report says

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.
Susan Walsh | AP Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.

Two senators were heard on a hot mic after a Senate subcommittee hearing Tuesday discussing the federal budget and the president in unflattering terms, The Washington Post reports. The Washington Post reports Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., says, “I think he’s crazy,” apparently referring to President Donald Trump. “I’m worried,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, replies, according to the newspaper.Collins and Reed were speaking after their subcommittee meeting ended. Collins is the chairman and Reed is the ranking member of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee. According to the Post, the two then speak about the federal budget and Trump’s requests for it: “Oof,” Reed says. “You know, this thing — if we don’t get a budget deal, we’re going to be paralyzed.” “I know,” Collins replies.”[Department of Defense] is going to be paralyzed, everybody is going to be paralyzed,”

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3M Co’s logs worst-ever price drop, caps Dow’s McDonald’s-Caterpillar fueled rally

The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Tuesday enjoyed a 100-point gain, powered by potent rallies in Caterpillar Inc., and McDonald’s Corp., even as a tumble in 3M Co. exacted a mighty toll from the blue-chip gauge. Shares of 3M Co. MMM, -5.05% slashed about 70 points from the Dow DJIA, +0.47% and helped the the maker of Post-it Notes, Scotch tape and Ace bandages post its worst-ever daily price decline, off $10.61, or 5.1%, according to FactSet Data. That historic drop, however was more than offset by surges in shares of McDonald’s MCD, +4.75% and Caterpillar CAT, +5.88% The pair of Dow components, which both reported quarterly results that beat Wall Street’s estimates, contributed 95 points to the average’s gains DJIA, +0.47% Shares of McDonald’s were on pace for their best dollar gain since Oct. 2015, tacked on more than 50 points to the price-weighted Dow, while a rally in industrial giant Caterpillar’s stock CAT, +5.88% added about 40 points to the blue-chip indicator. Overall, the Dow closed up 0.5%, the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.29% finished at a record, up 0.3% as did the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.02% which finished flat but enough to wrap up in positive territory.

Trump won’t say whether he’ll fire Sessions, but says he’s ‘very disappointed’ in attorney general

President Donald Trump publicly aired his frustration with Attorney General Jeff Sessions during an afternoon press conference Tuesday with the Lebanese prime minister. “He should not have recused himself almost immediately after he took office, and if he was going to recuse himself he should have told me to prior to taking office, and I would’ve quite simply picked somebody else,” Trump said. Trump said he thinks Sessions’ actions were “unfair to the presidency.” The president, however, declined to say whether he would ask Sessions to resign or if Sessions should resign on his own. Instead, he said, “we’ll see what happens. Time will tell.” The statements came after an interview with The Wall Street Journal in which Trump said he is “very disappointed” with Sessions for his decision to recuse himself from a probe into whether Russia meddled in the presidential election. Trump declined to say whether he planned to fire Sessions. Trump has tweeted his frustration with Sessions. The Wall Street Journal asked how long Trump planned to criticize his attorney general without firing him. “I’m just looking at it,” he told the Journal. “I’ll just see. It’s a very important thing.” Last week, Trump told The New York Times he would have never appointed Sessions if he knew Sessions would have recused himself from the Russia investigation. Since then, Trump has been vocal about his disapproval of Sessions’ work. Hours before Trump’s press conference remarks, he tweeted:

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

House expected to approve Russia sanctions bill limiting Trump’s influence

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote overwhelmingly on Tuesday for a bill that would slap new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea, potentially complicating President Donald Trump’s hopes of pursuing improved relations with Moscow. The bipartisan measure aims to punish Russia for its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and for alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The measure’s fate in the Senate is uncertain after a key senator said the deal announced over the weekend may not be final. Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters that deal negotiators had a “very good weekend” but the announcement “seemed somewhat premature.” “We’re about there, there’s still some procedural issues we’re discussing but, you know, I think it worked out very, very well, we still got a couple of things to talk about on North Korea,” Corker said. If the Republican-led Senate passes the measure, Trump will need to decide whether to sign the bill or veto it. Rejecting it would carry a risk that his veto could be overridden by lawmakers if they can muster enough support. House members saw the Iran and Russia sanctions bill as a chance finally to get the North Korea measure through the Senate.

Sect. of State Tillerson is ‘taking a little time off’

AFP/Getty Images Break time for Rex Tillerson

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is “taking a little time off,” a State Department spokeswoman said Tuesday. “He does have the ability to go away for a few days on his own,” said Heather Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman, at a briefing. “He’s got a lot of work, he just came back from that megatrip overseas.” The vacation comes amid published reports that Tillerson has been upset at his relationship with President Donald Trump and the White House, and one report speculating that he was considering resigning. Nauert denied the resignation talk. “The secretary has been very clear he intends to stay here at the State Department.” Nick Bit: this is a big shit. this could well become a permanent vacation

Oil surges after Tuesday’s settle on reported 10.2 million barrel drop in US crude stockpiles

Oil prices extended gains after closing at a seven-week high on Tuesday after an industry group reported a huge drop in U.S. crude stockpiles. U.S. crude inventories fell by 10.2 million barrels in the week ending July 21 to 487 million, the American Petroleum Institute reported, compared with expectations for a decrease of 2.6 million barrels. The U.S. Energy Information Administration releases official government data on Wednesday morning.U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were up $2.11, or 4.6 percent, to $48.45 a barrel by 4:42 p.m. ET. They climbed $1.55, or 3.3 percent, to end Tuesday’s session at $47.89, its best closing level since June 7.

OPEC ministers looking at balancing oil market, not strictly price: Sadad Al-Husseini

OPEC ministers looking at balancing oil market, not strictly price: Sadad Al-Husseini   Monday, 24 Jul 2017 | 10:20 AM ET | 02:26 Oil prices rose after Saudi Arabia pledged to curb exports next month and OPEC called on several members to boost compliance with output cuts. At a meeting in the Russian city of St. Petersburg on Monday, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC producers discussed extending their deal to cut output by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) beyond March 2018 if necessary.  Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih added his country would limit its crude exports to 6.6 million bpd in August, almost 1 million bpd below levels of a year ago. Nigeria voluntarily agreed to join the deal by capping or cutting its output from 1.8 million bpd, once it stabilizes at that level. Nigeria, which has been producing 1.7 million bpd recently, had been exempt from the output cuts.

Former Homeland Security chief on Russia probe: I’m worried about 2018 and 2020

The investigation into possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia is a “serious issue,” but there may be more worrying matters to focus on, former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff told CNBC on Tuesday. “I’m worried about 2018. I’m worried about 2020. Do the Russians try to interfere with our election or our kind of civic discourse going forward?” he said in an interview with “Power Lunch.” Both the Senate and a special counsel are investigating what may have occurred between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 election. On Monday, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, denied he colluded with Russia and said his actions while serving on the campaign were “proper.” His comments came after he met with Senate Intelligence Committee staff on the matter. Meanwhile, special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly also looking into a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as part of its probe, Bloomberg reported last week. His investigation is also looking into a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer. According to Reuters, Mueller has asked the White House to preserve any records of that meeting. Chertoff, also a former U.S. assistant attorney general, called that request routine. “I was a prosecutor for many years. Every prosecutor says that. That’s like saying the sun rises in the East.” Trump and his team have vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

 

Trump boy scout Jamboree speech angers parents

Parents have expressed anger after President Donald Trump delivered a highly politicised speech to tens of thousands of boy scouts. Mr Trump started by saying: “Who the hell wants to speak about politics?” But his speech to the Jamboree in West Virginia railed against Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the “cesspool” of politics, drawing whoops and cheers. One parent wrote: “Done with scouts after you felt the need to have my kid listen to a liar stroke his ego.”  The Jamboree of the Boy Scouts of America is held every four years and drew about 35,000 scouts from the ages of 12 to 18 to the latest event, held in Beaver, West Virginia, on Monday evening. The Jamboree had issued a warning on its blog about being respectful. It read: “Chants of certain phrases heard during the campaign (e.g. ‘build the wall’, ‘lock her up’) are considered divisive by many members of our audience, and may cause unnecessary friction.” But in a rambling 35-minute speech, Mr Trump whipped up a response of boos, cheers, chants and jeers as he lambasted fake news, Hillary Clinton’s election campaign and President Obama’s failure to address a Jamboree in person.

 

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Trump messes with Sessions, and Senate Republicans are not pleased

A Wisconsin company will let employees use microchip implants to buy snacks and open doors

 

A Wisconsin company called Three Square Market is going to offer employees implantable chips to open doors, buy snacks, log in to computers, and use office equipment like copy machines. Participating employees will have the chips, which use near field communication (NFC) technology, implanted between their thumb and forefinger. It’s an extension of the long-running implantable RFID chip business, based on a partnership with Swedish company Biohax International. The vending kiosk company, also known as 32M, will “chip” employees at a party on August 1st. (According to an email to The Verge, chips and salsa will be served as snacks.) Around 50 people are supposedly getting the optional implants. NFC chips are already used in a couple of workplaces in Europe; They’re essentially an extension of the chips you’d find in contactless smart cards or microchipped pets: passive devices that store very small amounts of information. A Swedish rail company also lets people use implants as a substitute for fare cards.  Chip implants are far from common, and although Westby speculates on a future where RFID chip technology is used for “your passport, public transit, all purchasing opportunities,” a lot of people might prefer those chips in the form of jewelry or a smartphone component. In an office environment, employers can already monitor most of the data that they could collect through these chips, but in a larger environment, a device you couldn’t easily remove could raise privacy concerns. The US has also been lagging behind Europe on adopting this kind of tech, so it’s cool to see it make its way to an American company — even if it’s mostly an interesting experiment on both continents.

Existing-home sales fall in June as prices soar to fresh record

Sales of previously-owned homes fell to the lowest pace since February as strong demand bumped up against limited supply. Existing-home sales were at a 5.52 million seasonally adjusted annual rate in June, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. That was 0.7% above the year-ago rate, but 1.8% lower than in May and marked the second-lowest monthly tally of 2017. Supply remains the biggest driver of the market now. Total inventory was 7.1% lower than a year ago, and at the current pace of sales, it would take 4.3 months to exhaust all supply. “It’s difficult to sell homes when there are so few available to buy, and the chronic inventory shortage the market has been suffering from — bordering on an inventory crisis at this point — is now more than two years old,” noted Zillow Chief Economist Svenja Gudell. “There are about as many homes for sale now as there were in 1994, except there are about 63 million more people in this country now than there were then.” The supply imbalance continues to skew prices higher. The median sales price was $263,800, a 6.5% increase compared with the year-earlier period. That sets a fresh record and marks the 64th consecutive month of yearly price gains, with housing prices growing at roughly double the pace of wage gains. Nick Bit: Talk about fake news. Let me tell you his con goes. They are holding propriety off the market. This is forcing prices higher. The reality is the falling sales numbers are telling you a real estate crash is right around the corner. A market manipulation pure and simple. That will soon fail!

 

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Australian housing market at risk of crash according to UBS research

Australian housing market at risk of crash according to UBS research
Any sharp action by the country’s central bank could trigger a sharp end to a multi-year boom in property prices.
The Australian housing market has peaked and could crash if the country’s central bank raises rates by too much or too quickly according to researchers at the Swiss bank, UBS. Property in Australia has boomed and the most recent government data marked growth in residential property prices at 10.2 percent year on year for the 2017 March quarter. In a note Monday, UBS Economist George Tharenou said any rash interest rate action from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) could trigger a crash. “We still see rates on hold in the coming year, amid macroprudential tightening on credit growth and interest only loans. “Hence we still see a correction, but not a collapse, but if the RBA hikes too early or too much (as flagged by its hawkish minutes), it risks triggering a crash,” Tharenou warned.

Housing starts fell 19 percent in the first quarter of the year and May’s mortgage approvals also slid 20 percent. After a multi-year boom, the cost of an average home in the country now sits at 669,700 Australian dollars ($532,000) but Tharenou said price growth is certain to slow. “Despite weaker activity, house prices just keep booming with still strong growth of 10% y/y in June. However, this is unsustainably 4-5 times faster than income.

Tharenou said the Australian economy looks robust as its population surges but home buying sentiment has dipped to a level not seen since the 2008 financial crisis.

Japan Video Shows Melted Fukushima Fuel For First Time

A robot sent to explore the submerged ruins of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant is offering a new look at the damage from one of history’s worst nuclear disasters. The device nicknamed “Little Sunfish” found melted clumps of material that is fuel debris it was sent to locate, according to updates

McCain to Return to Senate in Time for Obamacare Repeal Vote

John McCain

John McCain / AP

Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.) announced that he would be returning to the Senate in time for a critical vote Tuesday to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The statement, released by McCain’s press office Monday night, reads: “Senator McCain looks forward to returning to the United States Senate tomorrow to continue working on important legislation, including health care reform, the National Defense Authorization Act, and new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea.” Last week it was announced that McCain had been diagnosed with brain cancer. The GOP can only afford to lose two votes in their health care bid, as all 48 Democrats and Independents oppose the bill.

Oil extends gains as Saudi pledges export curbs

TOKYO (Reuters) – Oil prices extended gains on Tuesday after Saudi Arabia pledged to curb exports from next month and OPEC called on several members to boost compliance with production cuts to help rein in global oversupply and tackle flagging prices. Gains were also supported by a warning from Halliburton’s executive chairman that the growth in North American rig count was “showing signs of plateauing,” clouding a boom in U.S. shale oil production. London Brent crude for September delivery was up 30 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $48.90 a barrel by 0206 GMT after settling up 1.1 percent on Monday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 31 cents, or 0.7 percent, at $46.65. In a ministerial meeting in St. Petersburg on Monday, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC partners were committed to extending their existing deal to cut output by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) beyond March 2018 if necessary. The Saudi minister added that his country would limit crude oil exports at 6.6 million barrels per day in August, almost 1 million bpd below levels a year ago. OPEC also agreed that Nigeria would join the deal by capping or even cutting its output from 1.8 million bpd, once it stabilizes at that level from 1.7 million bpd recently. Nigeria had been exempt from the output cuts. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that an additional 200,000 barrels per day of oil could be removed from the market if compliance with a global deal to cut output was 100 percent. The compliance was 98 percent in June, the group said.

You may soon be able to trade options on bitcoin, ethereum

An image of Bitcoin and US currencies is displayed on a screen as delegates listen to a panel of speakers during the Interpol World Congress in Singapore on July 4, 2017.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced Monday it unanimously approved digital currency trading platform LedgerX for clearing derivatives. LedgerX initially plans to clear bitcoin options, the release said. “Participants in the LedgerX venue will be able to obtain and hedge bitcoin and other digital currencies using exchange-traded and centrally-cleared options contracts,” stated a release from LedgerX. “Initially, LedgerX anticipates listing one to six-month options contracts for bitcoin. Other digital currency contracts such as ethereum options, are expected to follow.” Nick Bit: This could be interesting!

Trump Rolls His Eyes at Reporter When Asked if Sessions Should Resign

President Donald Trump rolled his eyes during a group photo at the White House on Monday when a reporter asked if Attorney General Jeff Sessions should resign.

The incident occurred while Trump met and took a photo with the summer interns for the White House. He complimented their work and began to pose when a reporter called out, “Mr. President, should Jeff Sessions resign?”

The interns snickered at the question while Trump rolled his eyes, grinned, and ignored the question. When the laughing stopped, the reporter went on to ask another question about health care.

“Quiet,” Trump said, spurring more laughter from the intern group.

Ryan: Special counsel Mueller ‘anything but’ a biased partisan

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Monday defended special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election amid allegations by President Donald Trump that the investigation is a “witch hunt.” Asked why Republicans aren’t defending the President, Ryan stressed that Mueller, a former FBI director under the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, is “anything but” a biased partisan. “Remember, Bob Mueller is a Republican who was appointed by a Republican, who served in the Republican administration and crossed over, I mean, and stayed on until his term ended. But — I don’t think many people are saying Bob Mueller is a person who is a biased partisan. He’s really sort of anything but,” the speaker said during a radio appearance on “The Jay Weber Show.” “The point is, we have an investigation in the House, an investigation in the Senate, and a special counsel who sort of depoliticizes this stuff and gets it out of the political sphere, and that is, I think, better, to get this off to the side, I think the facts will vindicate themselves and then let’s just go do our job,” Ryan said. The President tweeted as recently as Sunday that his fellow Republicans were not doing enough to “protect” him as the probe into Russian interference continues. “As the phony Russian Witch Hunt continues, two groups are laughing at this excuse for a lost election taking hold, Democrats and Russians!” he tweeted, then adding, “It’s very sad that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their President.”

Rudy Giuliani: Jeff Sessions ‘made the right decision’ to recuse from Russia probe

(CNN)Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Monday swatted away a report that he is a contender to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and said Sessions made the right decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.Giuliani said there is no truth to a report by Axios that said Trump has recently raised the possibility of tapping Giuliani to replace Sessions, whom the President referred to as “beleaguered” on Monday, days after publicly rebuking Sessions for recusing himself from the federal investigation into Russian election meddling in the 2016 campaign.

Trump calls Attorney General Sessions 'beleaguered' in tweet

Trump calls Attorney General Sessions ‘beleaguered’ in tweet Sessions “made the right decision under the rules of the Justice Department” in recusing himself from the investigation, Giuliani told CNN on Monday after landing at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Speculation about Sessions’ future has run rampant since Trump last week expressed remorse about tapping Sessions, one of his earliest supporters in Washington, to lead the Justice Department. “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Trump told the New York Times last week. Facing a wave of pressure from Democrats and Republicans alike, Sessions announced his recusal in March without consulting the President. But Trump’s anger over the recusal only grew in subsequent months after the deputy attorney general, charged with oversight over Russia matters in the wake of Sessions’ recusal, appointed a special counsel to lead the investigation into contacts between Trump’s campaign and Moscow.
In a news conference the day after the Times interview, Sessions offered no indication he plans to resign. He also sent no signals that he might resign after The Washington Post on Friday reported on Russian intelligence intercepts in which then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak claimed he discussed campaign matters with Sessions during the campaign — despite Sessions’ previous claims to the contrary. Trump and Sessions have not talked since — at least — the Times interview, according to two White House officials.

Read Kushner’s full written statement to Congress here

Its total bullshit and guess what! He is being allowed to testify without being sworn in:

HIGHLY Unusual!

Read a written statement by Jared Kushner released before his appearance in closed-door meetings with members of the U.S. Congress.

Page 1

STATEMENT OF JARED C. KUSHNER TO CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES
July 24, 2017

I am voluntarily providing this statement, submitting documents, and sitting for interviews in order to shed light on issues that have been raised about my role in the Trump for President Campaign and during the transition period. I am not a person who has sought the spotlight. First in my business and now in public service, I have worked on achieving goals, and have left it to others to work on media and public perception. Because there has been a great deal of conjecture, speculation, and inaccurate information about me, I am grateful for the opportunity to set the record straight.

My Role in the Trump for President Campaign
Before joining the administration, I worked in the private sector, building and managing companies. My experience was in business, not politics, and it was not my initial intent to play a large role in my father-in-law’s campaign when he decided to run for President. However, as the campaign progressed, I was called on to assist with various tasks and aspects of the campaign, and took on more and more responsibility.

 

Continue reading “Read Kushner’s full written statement to Congress here”

Roomba vacuum maker iRobot betting big on the ‘smart’ home

(Reuters) – The Roomba robotic vacuum has been whizzing across floors for years, but its future may lie more in collecting data than dirt. That data is of the spatial variety: the dimensions of a room as well as distances between sofas, tables, lamps and other home furnishings. To a tech industry eager to push “smart” homes controlled by a variety of Internet-enabled devices, that space is the next frontier. (Graphic: Rise of the robots – here)

Smart home lighting, thermostats and security cameras are already on the market, but Colin Angle, chief executive of Roomba maker iRobot Corp, says they are still dumb when it comes to understanding their physical environment. He thinks the mapping technology currently guiding top-end Roomba models could change that and is basing the company’s strategy on it. “There’s an entire ecosystem of things and services that the smart home can deliver once you have a rich map of the home that the user has allowed to be shared,” said Angle. That vision has its fans, from investors to the likes of Amazon.com Inc, Apple Inc and Alphabet who are all pushing artificially intelligent voice assistants as smart home interfaces. According to financial research firm IHS Markit, the market for smart home devices was worth $9.8 billion in 2016 and is projected to grow 60 percent this year.

Continue reading “Roomba vacuum maker iRobot betting big on the ‘smart’ home”

WebMD to be bought by KKR’s Internet Brands for $2.8 billion

WebMD Health Corp. WBMD, -0.11% announced an agreement Monday to be acquired by KKR & Co. LP’s Internet Brands in a deal valued at $2.8 billion. Under terms of the deal, WebMD shareholders will get $66.50 in cash for each share they own, a 20.5% premium to Friday’s closing price of $55.19. The deal is expected to close during the fourth quarter. The deal comes after the health information services company announced in February that it was commencing a process to explore strategic alternatives. “We believe that this transaction will provide additional flexibility and resources to deliver increased value to consumers, healthcare professionals, employers, and health plan participants,” said WebMD Chief Executive Steven Zatz. The stock, which is currently halted for news, was up 18% prior to the halt. It has run up 11.3% year to date through Friday, while the SPDR Health Care Select Sector ETF XLV, -0.11% has climbed 17.5% and the S&P 500 SPX, -0.04% has gained 10.4%. KKR’s stock has soared 25.9% this year.

Kushner, in Statement, Says ‘I Did Not Collude’ With Foreign Government

White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner / Getty

BY:

By Jeff Mason

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner said in a statement to congressional committees on Monday that he “did not collude” with Russia or seek back channels with Moscow last year. “I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government,” Kushner said in a written statement released before his appearance in closed-door meetings with members of the U.S. Congress. “I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector,” he said. Kushner said he had “perhaps four contacts with Russian representatives” during the 2016 campaign and presidential transition period after Trump’s victory.

Investor confidence and America’s status as the world’s economic leader are at risk under Trump

During his final term as Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan noted an impediment stifling economies in the former Soviet Union: “legal chaos, rampant criminality, and widespread corruption” reminiscent of the American Wild West. “Market economies,” Greenspan concluded, “require a rule of law.” Suddenly, the words and actions of President Donald Trump are raising questions about that principle here. After attacking the judiciary over his travel ban earlier this year and firing the FBI director investigating his campaign, the president has warned Special Counsel Robert Mueller about his inquiry, ripped his own attorney general and mused about issuing pre-emptive pardons. There’s no sign of direct economic consequences yet, but as he strains the justice system at home and upends American commitments abroad, Trump poses two kinds of risks. One is to investor confidence in the United States. So far, booming markets have shrugged off momentary sensations, such as the disclosure that his son and campaign chairman sought information to damage Hillary Clinton from a Russian lawyer and Russian spy. “The right trade has been to ignore political developments,” said Mohamed El-Erian, chief economist for Allianz. But El-Erian warns that “a major shock” could rattle that trade. Whether Trump himself could administer that shock — say, by firing Mueller and ending the Russia investigation altogether — would depend on how the Republican-controlled Congress reacts. Lawmakers could accept those actions, or challenge a president of their party.

Nick Bit: i have seen this many times before. Eventually the blinders will be ripped off and the markets will  price in the growing Trump disaster

Big 3 German carmakers’ shares slide amid allegations of industrial collusion

(L-R) Dieter Zetsche, CEO of the German car maker Daimler AG, Harald Krueger, CEO of the German car maker BMW and Matthias Mueller, CEO of German car maker Volkswagen AG, shake hands after a talk at the so-called Auto-Gipfel - automotive meeting - in Munich, southern Germany, on November 9, 2016.
CHRISTOF STACHE | AFP | Getty Images (L-R) Dieter Zetsche, CEO of the German car maker Daimler AG, Harald Krueger, CEO of the German car maker BMW and Matthias Mueller, CEO of German car maker Volkswagen AG, shake hands after a talk at the so-called Auto-Gipfel – automotive meeting – in Munich, southern Germany, on November 9, 2016. Shares in the top three German carmakers dropped sharply on Monday after it was reported that EU antitrust officials had started investigating a possible breach of regulatory standards.

 

Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler all slumped towards the bottom of the autos sector shortly after Monday’s opening bell. BMW fell more than 2 percent while Volkswagen and Daimler slid over 3 percent on the news. EU antitrust officials confirmed Saturday they had started investigating allegations of a cartel among a group of German carmakers. “The European Commission and the Bundeskartellamt (German cartel office) have received information on this matter, which is currently being assessed by the commission. It is premature at this stage to speculate further,” the European Commission said in a statement. German news magazine, Der Spiegel, reported Friday that Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, Porsche and Daimler may have been engaged in industrial collusion. The major German carmakers were accused of using industry committees to agree on costs, suppliers, technologies and even the prices of diesel emission treatment systems. BMW rejected reports of emissions collusion while other carmakers have reportedly refused to comment on the claims. Germany’s auto industry has been hit with billion euro fines both in Europe and the U.S. in recent years for cartels related to lighting systems, bearings and engine coolers. In July 2016, the Commission fined MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Inveco and DAF a total of 2.93 billion euros for forming a cartel and colluding on truck prices.

 

Robot finds melted fuel heap inside Fukushima reactor-That’s why its called a melt down!

This image captured by an underwater robot provided by International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning on Saturday, July 22, 2017 shows massive deposits of melted nuclear fuel covering the floor of a damaged reactor at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Okuma town, northeastern Japan. The robot found large amounts of solidified lava-like rocks and lumps in layers as thick as 1 meter (3 feet) on the bottom inside of a main structure called the pedestal that sits underneath the core inside the primary containment vessel of Fukushima’s Unit 3 reactor, said the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning via AP)
  (AP) — Images captured by an underwater robot showed massive deposits believed to be melted nuclear fuel covering the floor of a damaged reactor at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

The robot found large amounts of solidified lava-like rocks and lumps in layers as thick as 1 meter (3 feet) on the bottom inside of a main structure called the pedestal that sits underneath the core inside the primary containment vessel of Fukushima’s Unit 3 reactor, said the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. On Friday, the robot spotted debris of melted fuel for the first time since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused multiple meltdowns and destroyed the plant. The three-day probe of Unit 3 ended Saturday. Locating and analyzing the fuel debris and damage in each of the plant’s three wrecked reactors is crucial for decommissioning the plant. The search for melted fuel in the two other reactors has so far been unsuccessful because of damage and extremely high radiation levels. Nick Bit: the freeging plants are still in melt down spewing radiation into the pacific ocean. The nuclear energy industries greatest cover up EVER!

During this week’s probe, cameras mounted on the robot showed extensive damage caused by the core meltdown, with fuel debris mixed with broken reactor parts, suggesting the difficult challenges ahead in the decades-long decommissioning of the destroyed plant. TEPCO spokesman Takahiro Kimoto said it would take time to analyze the debris in the images to figure out debris removal methods.

Congress reaches deal on sweeping Russia sanctions bill

Bill likely to advance; unclear if President Trump would sign

Getty Images House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy

Congressional negotiators reached a deal late Friday to advance a bill that would punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 election and restrict the president’s power to remove sanctions on Moscow. It remained unclear whether President Donald Trump would sign the bill if it reaches his desk, which is now likely. Mr. Trump has said he wants to improve America’s relationship with Russia and has been slow to embrace the conclusion of intelligence agencies that Moscow meddled in the election. The House is slated to vote Tuesday on a package of sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea, according to guidance released by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.). The new Russian sanctions, which passed the Senate last month in a 98-2 vote, have been held up in the House over disputes about a provision that would have prevented the House minority from introducing legislation to block the president if he chose to remove the sanctions. The new deal is a compromise between Republican and Democratic leaders. It also makes some concessions to oil-and-gas companies. “Those who threaten America and our interests should take notice—your actions have consequences,” McCarthy’s Twitter account posted on Saturday. The compromise legislation, which must pass the House and Senate, would tighten restrictions on the extension of credit to Russian entities and limit Russian businesses in the energy and defense sectors from partnering with U.S. citizens. It also would require the president to seek Congress’s permission to relax any sanctions against Russia.

Oil steady after fall ahead of OPEC/non-OPEC meeting

TOKYO (Reuters) – Oil prices were little changed on Monday following a steep fall in the previous session amid growing expectations that the joint OPEC and non-OPEC ministerial meeting later in the day would address rising production from Nigeria and Libya, two OPEC members exempted from the cuts. Six OPEC and non-OPEC ministers will meet on Monday in St Petersburg to discuss the market outlook and compliance with output cuts. They may recommend a conditional cap on Nigerian and Libyan oil production, sources familiar with the talks said.

The joint OPEC/non-OPEC ministerial committee could also discuss a deeper cut in production, but more studies are needed, according to one of the sources. Kuwait’s oil minister, Essam al-Marzouq, said on Saturday that compliance was good with oil production cuts by OPEC and non-OPEC countries and that deeper cuts were possible. London Brent crude for September delivery was unchanged at $48.06 a barrel by 2228 GMT on Sunday. The contract settled down $1.24 or 2.5 percent on Friday after a consultancy forecast a rise in OPEC production for July despite the group’s pledge to curb output. NYMEX crude for September delivery was down 2 cents at $45.75. A rebalancing of the oil market is progressing more slowly than expected, but it will speed up in the second half of the year, OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo said on Sunday. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Libya and Nigeria should cap output when their output stabilizes, the Financial Times reported.

UK and US to start talks on post-Brexit trade deal

The UK is to hold its first talks with the US to try to sketch out the details of a potential post-Brexit trade deal. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox will spend two days in Washington with US counterpart Robert Lighthizer. EU rules mean the UK cannot sign a trade deal until it has left the bloc. Mr Fox said it was too early to say exactly what would be covered in a potential deal. Firms and trade unions have both warned of the risks of trying to secure an agreement too quickly. The Department for International Trade said discussions were expected to focus on “providing certainty, continuity and increasing confidence for UK and US businesses as the UK leaves the EU”. Mr Fox added: “The [UK-US trade and investment] working group is the means to ensure we get to know each other’s issues and identify areas where we can work together to strengthen trade and investment ties.” The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) director general Adam Marshall said the US’s experience at such negotiations would make it difficult for the UK to secure a good deal. “We’re just getting back into the game of doing this sort of thing after 40 years of doing it via the EU,” he told the BBC’s Today programme.

 

 

 

Donald Trump Jr. adds to legal team: ABC News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The president’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., has added a lawyer with congressional experience to his legal team, ABC News reported on Sunday. Trump Jr. has hired Karina Lynch of the law firm Williams and Jensen, ABC said. ABC said Lynch confirmed to the network that she had been hired by the president’s son, but she did not respond to a query from Reuters. Trump Jr. also hired Alan Futerfas as a lawyer after reports that detailed meetings last year between him and a Russian lawyer. A federal special counsel and several congressional panels are investigating allegations by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and potential connections between Russian officials and the Trump campaign. Moscow has denied any interference, and Trump says his campaign did not collude with Russia. Trump Jr., his father’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and one of his senior advisers, all met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016. That meeting was held in Trump Tower in New York after the lawyer offered damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Lynch’s biography on her law firm website describes her as having experience on the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. She was also investigative counsel to Senator Charles Grassley, according to her law firm biography. The Senate Judiciary Committee said on Friday that Trump Jr. and Manafort had agreed to negotiate whether to be interviewed by the panel in its Russia investigation. Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Peter Cooney

New York Times asks ‘Fox & Friends’ for apology

 

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Times says Fox News’ morning show “Fox & Friends” should apologize for what the newspaper calls a “malicious and inaccurate segment” about intelligence leaks and the Islamic State that aired Saturday. New York Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha said Sunday that she requested an “on-air apology and tweet.” The paper, she wrote, took issue with a Fox host on the segment saying that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “was able to sneak away under the cover of darkness after a New York Times story” in 2015 and a host’s comment that the U.S. government “would have had al-Baghdadi based on the intelligence that we had except someone leaked information to the failing New York Times.” The segment referred to comments by a top military official noted in a Friday Fox story , which was updated online Sunday with a Times statement. The Fox story said the official, Gen. Tony Thomas, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command, was “close” to Baghdadi after a 2015 raid but the “lead went dead” after it “was leaked in a prominent national newspaper.” The Fox story said Thomas “appeared to be referring to a New York Times report in June 2015 that detailed how American intelligence agencies had ‘extracted valuable information.'” “Fox & Friends” will “provide an updated story to viewers tomorrow morning based on the FoxNews.com report,” the company said in a statement emailed by Fox spokeswoman Caley Cronin Sunday. The Times also wrote a fact-check pushing back against both Fox’s story, noting that the Pentagon “raised no objections” with the paper before the 2015 article was published, and against a Saturday morning tweet by President Donald Trump, who said the “failing” New York Times “foiled” a government attempt to kill Baghdadi.

Seat chief says sees CNG cars as possible diesel alternative: report

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Carmaker Seat (VOWG_p.DE) sees compressed-natural-gas (CNG) as an alternative fuel to diesel, the chief executive of the Spanish Volkswagen division said on Saturday. Seat was betting on CNG in order to compensate for falling diesel car sales, its chief executive Luca de Meo was quoted as saying in part of a report due to run in full in the July 24 issue of Automobilwoche. “If the mayor of Barcelona decides to close the city center for Euro-6-diesels, then customers will probably no longer buy diesel cars,” he said. The finance chief of sister company Porsche, Lutz Meschke, also interviewed, said that discussions about a diesel-free future were underway.  UNDER PRESSURE Car stocks tumbled on Friday after a report in Der Spiegel that VW, BMW (BMWG.DE), Audi and Porsche may have colluded to fix the prices of diesel emissions treatment systems. The Spiegel report said that cartel-like behavior may have also applied to vehicle developments, brakes, petrol and diesel engines, clutches and transmissions, citing a letter sent to cartel authorities. German Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries, in separate remarked that trust in the entire German automotive industry was at stake. “Everyone is well advised to cooperate with the state institutions and to create transparency,” she said. The European Commission said on Saturday that EU antitrust regulators were investigating the allegations.

Democrats herald agreement on sweeping Russia sanctions bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Democrats announced Saturday that a bipartisan group of House and Senate negotiators have reached an agreement on a sweeping Russia sanctions package to punish Moscow for meddling in the presidential election and its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria. Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat, said lawmakers had settled lingering issues with the bill, which also includes stiff economic penalties against Iran and North Korea. The sanctions targeting Russia, however, have drawn the most attention due to President Donald Trump’s persistent push for warmer relations with President Vladimir Putin and ongoing investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign. Passage of the bill, which could occur before Congress breaks for the August recess, puts Congress on possible collision course with Trump. The White House had objected to a key section of the bill that would mandate a congressional review if Trump attempted to ease or end the sanctions against Moscow. But if Trump were to veto the bill, he risks sparking an outcry from Republicans and Democrats and having his decision overturned. The sanctions review was included in the bill because of wariness among lawmakers from both parties over Trump’s affinity for Putin.

Continue reading “Democrats herald agreement on sweeping Russia sanctions bill”

The many unearthed interactions between Trump-world and Russia, documented

The many unearthed interactions between Trump-world and Russia, documented

Updated 0445 GMT (1245 HKT) July 23, 2017

(CNN)The White House acknowledged this week that President Donald Trump met Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G20 dinner for an hour — a meeting that went undisclosed for weeks until it came out in press reports. This non-disclosure follows a pattern when it comes to some meetings between Trump associates and Russians. The interactions span back to the in-person meeting at Trump Tower in the summer of 2016 between senior Trump campaign officials and a group of well-connected Russians.

The meetings below include formal appointments, casual pull-asides and phone calls. All of them were discovered through leaks and media reports.
While there is no legal requirement for people running political campaigns to disclose all their meetings, a handful of the most senior Trump campaign, transition and administration officials insisted for months that there were no contacts with Russians. The interactions came in the midst of Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 election and during the subsequent political fallout.
Once some of the aides became White House officials, however, not revealing Russian interactions and meetings is more than an omission to the public — it could be illegal. If any White House and administration officials intentionally omitted meetings with Russian foreign nationals on their security clearance forms, that could be a federal crime.
A number of previously undisclosed interactions with Russians have been revealed in the past six months since Trump took office, and White House officials and Trump associates have since confirmed the following such interactions with Russians.

Continue reading “The many unearthed interactions between Trump-world and Russia, documented”

Russian envoy, at heart of U.S. investigations, ends tenure in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Russia’s ambassador to Washington Sergei Kislyak, a key figure in ongoing U.S. investigations into Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, ended his tenure on Saturday. The Russian embassy in Washington said on its Twitter feed that Minister-Counseler and Deputy Chief of Mission Denis V. Gonchar would serve as Charge d’Affaires until Kislyak’s successor arrived. Kislyak, who held the post since 2008, is expected to be replaced by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Anatoly Antonov. Kislyak’s name has emerged in relation to several of Trump’s associates as a special counsel and congressional panels investigate Russian meddling and possible ties with the Trump campaign. On Friday, the Washington Post reported Kislyak was overheard by U.S. spy agencies telling his bosses he had discussed campaign-related matters, including issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race.

 

Scaramucci once called Trump a ‘hack politician’

Anthony Scaramucci once called then presidential candidate Donald Trump a “hack politician” who is “anti-American.” Now he is the Trump administration’s communications director.

Nick Bit: No wonder the White House is in a uproar. It is amazing to me how these sold out whores change their stories…….

Trump says he has ‘complete power to pardon’

Donald Trump early Saturday said the U.S. president has the “complete power” to issue pardons, but suggested he sees no need to do so as a probe into his campaign’s interactions with Russia continues. In a wide-ranging series of Twitter messages, Trump again called the allegations “fake news”:

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Trump and his legal team were discussing his authority to grant pardons and potential ways to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election meddling. The Post said Trump had asked about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself. While Trump asserted Saturday that the president has “complete power,” any effort to pardon himself would be sure to set off a legal and political firestorm. No president has ever attempted to pardon himself and legal scholars are divided over whether such an action would be valid. Trump sought to turn attention back to Hillary Clinton, his opponent in last year’s presidential election:

Clinton was the subject of an FBI probe last year into her use of a private email server during her tenure as again about leaks:

Donald Trump attacks ‘illegal’ report on Sessions Russian meeting

US President Donald Trump has attacked “illegal leaks” following reports his attorney general discussed campaign-related matters with a Russian envoy. The Washington Post gave an account of meetings Attorney General Jeff Sessions held with the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak.Mr Sessions has previously denied discussing the election campaign. US authorities are investigating possible collusion between Russia and the Trump team. The intelligence services believe Russia meddled in the vote to help Mr Trump win. Russia denies this, and Mr Trump says there was no collusion. The Post’s report quoted current and former US officials who cited intelligence intercepts of Mr Kislyak’s version of the encounter to his superiors. One of those quoted said Mr Kislyak spoke to Mr Sessions about key campaign issues, including Mr Trump’s positions on policies significant to Russia. During his confirmation hearing earlier this year, Mr Sessions said he had no contact with Russians during the election campaign. When it later emerged he had, he said the campaign was not discussed at the meetings. An official confirmed to Reuters the detail of the intercepts, but there has been no independent corroboration.


Trump lashes out at media, Russia investigation and Hillary Clinton in early morning tweetstorm

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to complain about the special counsel investigating possible ties between his 2016 campaign and Russia while insisting that he, as president, has “complete power to pardon.” Trump, who defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in last year’s presidential election but continues to use her as a foil, questioned why his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and special counsel Robert Mueller were not investigating former FBI Director James Comey or Clinton, for her email practices as secretary of state.

Donald Trump

“So many people are asking why isn’t the A.G. or Special Counsel looking at the many Hillary Clinton or Comey crimes. 33,000 emails deleted…,” he wrote on Twitter. “My son Donald openly gave his e-mails to the media & the authorities whereas Crooked Hillary Clinton deleted (& acid washed) her 33,000 e-mails!” The FBI decided last year not to recommend criminal charges against Clinton for her email practices. Trump fired Comey in May. Trump cited his power to pardon in the series of tweets on Saturday that focused ire on leaks to the news media. “While all agree the U.S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us. FAKE NEWS,” he wrote.

 

Hawaii prepares for ‘unlikely’ North Korea missile threat

By JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER, Associated Press

(AP) — Hawaii is the first state to prepare the public for the possibility of a ballistic missile strike from North Korea. The state’s Emergency Management Agency on Friday announced a public education campaign about what to do. Hawaii lawmakers have been urging emergency management officials to update Cold War-era plans for coping with a nuclear attack as North Korea develops nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that can reach the islands. Starting in November, Hawaii will begin monthly tests of an “attack-warning” siren the state hasn’t heard since the end of the Cold War in the 1980s. The wailing siren will be tested on the first working day of each month, after a test of an “attention-alert” steady tone siren with which residents are already familiar. Informational brochures, along with TV, radio and internet announcements will help educate the public about the new siren sound and provide preparedness guidance. “If they’re not educated, they could actually be frightened by it,” agency Executive Director Toby Clairmont said of needing several months to introduce the new siren. Because it would take a missile 15 minutes — maybe 20 minutes — to arrive, the instructions to the public are simple: “Get inside, stay inside and stay tuned,” said Vern Miyagi, agency administrator. “You will not have time to pick up your family and go to a shelter and all that kind of stuff. … It has to be automatic.” He stressed that his agency is simply trying to stay ahead of a “very unlikely” scenario, but it’s a possibility that Hawaii can’t ignore.

Two-thirds of U.S. investors think stocks are overvalued

Major U.S. stock-market indexes are trading near records, and more investors are finding that unsettling. About 36% of investment managers find the U.S. stock market undervalued or fairly valued at current levels, according to a quarterly investment manager survey performed by Northern Trust Asset Management. That’s the lowest reading in the history of the survey, which began in the third quarter of 2008. Nearly two-thirds of investors—65%—say the U.S. equity market is overvalued, the highest percentage on record. The survey was conducted over a period that ended June 22. The S&P 500 SPX, -0.04%  is up 1.5% since then. Concerns have been growing over the valuation of the U.S. market, which by one estimation is the priciest on the planet. However, the picture isn’t completely bearish. The market’s recent gains have occurred against a backdrop of improving corporate earnings, a strong labor market, and positive—albeit tepid—economic growth. “Although managers view U.S. equity valuations as extended, fundamentals—GDP growth, low inflation and earnings growth—are still favorable,” Christopher Vella, chief investment officer for multi-manager solutions at Northern Trust Asset Management said in a news release.

 

Michael Flynn Has Opened New Consulting Firm

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn / Getty Images

Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has opened a new consulting firm, his brother says. Flynn’s new firm, Resilient Patriot, LLC, is advising private equity firms. Flynn is hoping the income will help him in dealing with large legal bills stemming from his involvement in the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the Associated Press reports. “Mike’s not a millionaire, not even close,” Joe Flynn told the Associated Press. “This situation has put him in a tough spot financially. This is going to cost him a lot of money.” Joe Flynn said the Flynn family was putting together a fund so his brother could pay the legal bills. The name of Michael Flynn’s firm is the same as his son’s Twitter account, in which the younger Flynn posted false news stories. Joe Flynn said that aside from his Army pension, this new firm is his brother’s main source of income. “There’s still a cloud over him,” Joe Flynn said. “I think he’s not worried about going to jail or anything like that.”

Anthony Scaramucci Once Said It’s ‘Counterproductive’ to ‘Fight Globalization’

President Donald Trump’s new communications director Anthony Scaramucci once tweeted that trying to “fight globalization is counterproductive.” In March of 2016, after linking to articles about Chinese manufacturers moving jobs to South Carolina and Mexico, he said the “takeaway” from the articles should be, “Trying to fight globalization is counterproductive. Currencies settle the score & free trade fosters greater global econ stability”:

Trump’s former press secretary Sean Spicer, who came from the Republican National Committee and had worked for various GOP establishment entities, resigned on Friday after Scaramucci officially became the White House’s communications director. The New York Times‘ Mark Leibovich described Spicer as someone who, in the pre-Trump era, “represented a Washington [swamp creature] ‘type’ in good standing: an amiable plodder in his job as spokesman for the Republican National Committee and a stock character of the local ensemble.” Scaramucci’s embrace of globalization may be why Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon, according to MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle, reportedly told Scaramucci this morning, “Over my dead body will you get this job!!”

U.S. investigators seek to turn Manafort in Russia probe: sources

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The special counsel investigating possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia has asked White House officials to preserve any records of a meeting last year between the president’s eldest son and a Russian lawyer, according to a source with knowledge of the request.  The sources also did not say whether Mueller has uncovered any evidence to charge Manafort with money laundering, but they said doing so is seen by investigators as critical in getting his full cooperation in their investigation.    “If Mueller’s team can threaten criminal charges against Manafort, they could use that as leverage to convince him to cooperate,” said one of the sources.   Manafort’s spokesman, Jason Maloni, said, “Paul Manafort is not a cooperating witness. Once again there is no truth to the disinformation put forth by anonymous sources and leakers.”  Manafort is seen as a key figure in the investigation because of his senior role in the campaign and his participation in a June 2016 meeting that included the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., close adviser Jared Kushner and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. The meeting was called after the lawyer offered damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.  Manafort became Trump’s campaign manager in June 2016 but was forced to resign two months later amid reports of his business relationship with the Kremlin-backed former Ukrainian leader, Viktor Yanukovich. Manafort previously worked as a consultant to a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine and helped support Yanukovich. According to a financial audit reported by the New York Times, he also once owed $17 million to Russian shell companies.   Former Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was investigating Manafort’s real estate dealings before he was fired by Trump in March, and Mueller has now assumed control of that investigation, one of the sources said.   Bharara was not available for comment on his investigation on Friday.

As oil producers meet, agreement looks strained, OPEC shows ‘cracks,’ analysts say

When oil producers meet Monday, their alliance will look frayed, showing just how tough their goal of stabilizing the world oil market has been, analysts say. There is much focus on the meeting of the five-member Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee, set up to oversee compliance of the deal struck by OPEC, Russia and others as an effort to boost world oil prices. Analysts say the committee will likely recommend maintaining the policy of holding back output at current levels, but efforts will be made to bring Nigeria and Libya into the framework because of the recent unexpected return of their production. Oil prices fell Friday after a report that OPEC’s July supply could rise by 145,000 barrels over June, driving production above 33 million barrels per day. West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 2.5 percent to $45.77 per barrel, and Brent was down 2.6 percent at $48. “Clearly, OPEC has a lot of cracks,” said Francisco Blanch, head of commodities and derivatives strategy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “The cartel is certainly under a fair amount of pressure from members that feel they shouldn’t be cutting production here. I think the meeting is going to be more routine than anything else. There will be some recommendations.”

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Mexico murders up with deadliest month in at least 20 years

In this early Thursday, June 29, 2017 photo, investigators mark the spot where spent bullet casings fell next to a body lying on a road in the town of Navolato, Sinaloa state, Mexico. 59 AK type and AR-15 casings were found in the area. Early Saturday July 1st, Mexican authorities said that at least 19 people died in clashes between armed men and security forces in the town of Villa Union, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) southeast of the beach resort of Mazatlanin, in the gang-plagued northwestern state of Sinaloa, where violence has spiked dramatically following the capture and extradition of convicted drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.(AP Photo/Enric Marti)
 MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s spiraling violence reached new heights with 2,234 murders in June, the country’s deadliest month in at least 20 years, according to government data. Killings rose in states ranging from the tourist haven of Baja California Sur to the Gulf coast state of Veracruz and even in Mexico City, long considered a relative oasis from drug gang violence. For the first six months of 2017, authorities nationwide recorded 12,155 homicide investigations, or 31 percent more than the 9,300 during the same period last year. Just Friday, the same day the report was released, a marine and four other people were killed when armed forces moved against the leader of the principal fuel-theft ring in the central state of Puebla. Four of the dead were alleged members of “Los Bukanas,” a violent gang that sells gasoline stolen through illegal taps in the government oil company’s pipelines. It’s a business that has been estimated to cost the government $1 billion annually and which has grown increasingly violent as authorities try to control it. Also Friday, the top prosecutor in the western state of Jalisco, Eduardo Almaguer, said authorities discovered two drug cartel training camps where they believe about 40 people had been trapped and trained after being tricked by online job advertisements. An unknown number of human remains were also found. The victims were apparently lured by job offers for private security guards or municipal police and were then forced to build their own shelters from wood and branches and train in tactics and shooting — using paintball guns — while under guard by gang members, Almaguer said. The investigation that led to the camps started with six similar reports of missing people in June.

Continue reading “Mexico murders up with deadliest month in at least 20 years”

Trump talks pardons, lashes special counsel about Russia probe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to complain about the special counsel investigating possible ties between his 2016 campaign and Russia while insisting that he, as president, has “complete power to pardon.” Trump, who defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in last year’s presidential election but continues to use her as a foil, questioned why his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and special counsel Robert Mueller were not investigating former FBI Director James Comey or Clinton, for her email practices as secretary of state. “So many people are asking why isn’t the A.G. or Special Counsel looking at the many Hillary Clinton or Comey crimes. 33,000 emails deleted…,” he wrote on Twitter. “My son Donald openly gave his e-mails to the media & the authorities whereas Crooked Hillary Clinton deleted (& acid washed) her 33,000 e-mails!” The FBI decided last year not to recommend criminal charges against Clinton for her email practices. Trump fired Comey in May. Sessions had been Trump’s first supporter in the Senate before being named attorney general, but recently has become a lightning rod for Trump’s anger over the probe into allegations of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Sessions recused himself from the probe in March after having failed to disclose at his confirmation hearing that he had held meetings last year with Russia’s ambassador.

Ex-CIA head says Trump remarks on Russia interference ‘disgraceful’

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Russia’s ambassador to Washington was overheard by U.S. spy agencies telling his bosses that he had discussed campaign-related matters, including issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, the Washington Post reported on Friday, citing current and former U.S. officials. A U.S. official confirmed to Reuters that Ambassador Sergei Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions, then a U.S. senator and key foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump, were intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was nothing automatically inappropriate about Sessions, then a U.S. senator as well as a Trump supporter, discussing policy matters or even Trump’s thinking about them with a foreign diplomat. “The question is whether he crossed the line and discussed classified information or talked about deals like lifting sanctions if the Russians were interested in investing in the U.S. or had dirt on Secretary Clinton,” said a second official familiar with the intercepts, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity. “His memory is another matter.”

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Brennan: Officials should refuse to fire Mueller if asked to by Trump

(CNN)Former CIA Director John Brennan says government officials should refuse orders to fire special counsel Robert Mueller if they are told to by the White House. “I think it’s the obligation of some executive branch officials to refuse to carry that out. I would just hope that this is not going to be a partisan issue. That Republicans, Democrats are going to see that the future of this government is at stake and something needs to be done for the good of the future,” Brennan told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer at the Aspen Security Forum. Brennan was appearing with former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and both men, who served in the Obama administration, told Blitzer they have total confidence in Mueller. “Absolutely. It was an inspired choice- they don’t come any better, ” Brennan said. He added that “If Mueller is fired, I hope our elected reps will stand up and say enough is enough.”

Clapper again warned publicly about Russian interference in US affairs. He was asked about the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort had with a Russian lawyer and others.
Exclusive: Mueller asks WH staff to preserve all documents relating to June 2016 meeting
Exclusive: Mueller asks WH staff to preserve all documents relating to June 2016 meeting
 “I’m an old school, Cold War warrior and all that — so I have, there’s truth in advertising, great suspicions about the Russians and what they do. A lot of this to me had kind of the standard textbook tradecraft long deployed by Russians,” Clapper said. “It would have been a really good idea maybe to have vetted whoever they were meeting with.”

Trump Jr. and Manafort reach deal with Senate panel to avoid public hearing

Washington (CNN)The leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee have cut a deal with President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort to avoid being subpoenaed for a high-profile public hearing next week, with the two men agreeing to provide records to the panel and to be privately interviewed ahead of any public session. In a joint statement, panel Chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking member Dianne Feinstein said, “(W)e will not issue subpoenas for them tonight requiring their presence at Wednesday’s hearing but reserve the right to do so in the future.” Feinstein tweeted later Friday evening, “The Judiciary Committee will talk to Trump Jr. & Manafort before they testify in public, but we will get answers.” Last week, Trump Jr. told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he would testify under oath about his recently revealed 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians, where he attempted to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. But after the Senate Judiciary Committee invited him to attend a public hearing, the President’s eldest struck the agreement to avoid it, instead going behind closed doors. Sources familiar with the matter say no date has been set for his and Manafort’s private interviews with the committee. A source familiar with the committee’s thinking says there was incentive among the committee to make the agreement with Manafort and Trump Jr. because there was a recognition that they were unlikely to appear in a public session.

Continue reading “Trump Jr. and Manafort reach deal with Senate panel to avoid public hearing”

Kushner adds at least $10 million in assets he ‘inadvertently omitted’ to disclose

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner “inadvertently omitted” more than 70 assets worth at least $10.6 million from his personal financial disclosure reports, according to revised paperwork released Friday. The previously unreported assets were included in updated disclosure reports certified by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics on Thursday as part of the “ordinary review process,” according to Kushner’s filing.

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, leads the inaugural meeting of the American Technology Council in the Indian Treaty Room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next door to the White House June 19, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Getty Images Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law

Among the new set of assets Kushner disclosed, which could be worth as much as $51 million, he reported owning an art collection worth between $5 million and $25 million. The new forms also reflect that Kushner sold his interest in an aging shopping mall along the Jersey Shore, and no longer has a stake in a company that had held an interest in apartments in Toledo, Ohio.
Kushner also clarified his $5 million to $25 million stake in a holding company that owns Cadre, a real estate tech startup he co-founded with his brother, Joshua, that investors valued at $800 million. Kushner’s wife and the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, also filed new federal disclosures. She reported assets of at least $66 million and earned at least $13.5 million in income last year from her various business ventures, including more than $2.4 million from the new Trump hotel near the White House. The filings reflect the extraordinary wealth of Trump and her husband, who jointly made at least $100 million since the beginning of 2016 and hold at least $206 million in combined assets, including some that they report are being sold off.

 

Intercepted intel: Sessions discussed Trump campaign with Russian

The Washington Post reports intercepts show Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak told Moscow he and Jeff Sessions discussed the campaign and Trump’s positions on issues important to Russia during the 2016 campaign. Nick Bit: This is what the Russians said in a intercept that they new was monitored by U.S. spy agencies. Funny Trump does not see Russian interference in the election… until he can use it to get Sessions out in a desperate attempt to end the investigation into HIS collusion with the Russians

 

Oil is dropping on a report of rising OPEC supply

  • Reuters said OPEC’s July oil supply was set to rise by 145,000 barrels per day (bpd) compared to June, citing PetroLogistics, a company that tracks OPEC supply forecasts.
  • The increase in oil supply would push production above 33 million barrels per day.

Reuters said OPEC’s July oil supply was set to rise by 145,000 barrels per day (bpd) compared to June, citing PetroLogistics, a company that tracks OPEC supply forecasts.The increase in oil supply would push production above 33 million barrels per day. West Texas Intermediate futures erased earlier gains on the report, trading at $46.52 per barrel.

 WTI intraday from WSI New  Chart engine

The move took place as investors braced for a key meeting between OPEC and non-OPEC members next week. “We’re keying on everything ahead of the OPEC meeting,” said John Kilduff, founding partner of Again Capital. “They can’t add even a barrel right now.” The oil-producing countries will meet to discuss compliance of agreed production cuts and how to bring down inventory levels. That said, they face increasing uncertainty after Ecuador said it will start to increase production again due to revenue reasons, said Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets. “Ecuador’s move underscores the sharp divergence in the economic fortunes of the sovereign producers, with the most cash strapped states in urgent need of financial relief and the flusher nations having the time, and perhaps even the incentive, to let the current cut run its course,” Croft said in a Thursday note.

Russia’s foreign minister says Trump and Putin may have met even more times at the G-20 summit

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Trump and Putin may have met more than three times at the G-20 summit.
  • “Maybe they went to the toilet together,” he joked during an interview with NBC News.
  • Lavrov also criticized the U.S. presence in Syria, calling it “illegitimate.”
Trump and Putin reportedly may have met even more times at the G-20 summit
Trump and Putin reportedly may have met even more times at the G-20 summit

Russia’s foreign minister said President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump may have met more than three times at the G-20 summit, but he shrugged off the importance of the encounters, according to a new report. “Maybe they went to the toilet together,”  Sergei Lavrov joked during an interview with NBC News. On Tuesday, Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group reported that Trump and Putin held a second, previously undisclosed meeting at the summit in Hamburg during a social dinner. Lavrov made light of the situation in the interview, comparing it to children mingling at a kindergarten. “When you are brought by your parents to a kindergarten do you mix with the people who are waiting in the same room to start going to a classroom?” he asked NBC News. In the interview, the foreign minister also criticized the U.S. presence in Syria, calling it “illegitimate” while describing CIA Director Mike Pompeo of having “double standards” about military bases in the country.

DEATH FROM ABOVE

Terrorists could weaponise deadly PLAGUE disease by releasing it as a cloud above cities killing thousands, experts warn

Warning comes amid fears imploding ISIS have been developing chemical and biological weapons.

BLACK Death could once again wipe out millions in Britain if terrorists sprayed an antibiotic resistant form above a city, according to bio-terrorism experts.

The plague killed a third of Europe’s population in the Middle Ages – but scientist and governments fear it could return.

British troops in bio-chemical warfare suits ...but civilians would not be so protected
British troops in bio-chemical warfare suits …but civilians would not be so protected
It comes after research papers were found hidden at Mosul University after the fall of ISIS detailing experimentation using chemical weapons on human beings.

No evidence has been found so far of an advanced biological weapons programme. But with ISIS imploding in Iraq and Syria it is feared the death cult could step-up any clandestine development and wreak revenge on the West. World Health Organisation researchers estimated releasing a 50 kg aerosol cloud of plague bacteria over a city the size of London and its surrounding areas could cause at least 300,000 to become infected with 72,000 perishing from the nightmarish disease. Meanwhile the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US believe plague is a major concern along with anthrax, smallpox, and viral fevers like Ebola and Marburg.

GE’s stock turns sharply lower after CEO Immelt gives downbeat outlook on conference call

Shares of General Electric Co. GE, -3.28% turned sharply lower in premarket trade Friday, as Chief Executive Jeff Immelt hosted his last post-results conference call, before handing the reins to incoming CEO John Flannery, and gave a downbeat outlook. The stock tumbled 4.2%, putting it on track to open at the lowest level since October 2015. The stock initially rose as much as 1.8% after results were reported before selling off to be down 0.9% just prior to the start of the conference call. Immelt said the recovery for the oil and gas market has been slower and more volatile than planned, and with customers delaying purchasing, he expects numbers for GE’s legacy business to be “lower than previously anticipated,” according to a transcript of the call provided by FactSet. “Given our outlook on oil and gas, we are trending to the bottom end of the range of $1.60 to $1.70 EPS for the year,” Immelt said. The stock had tumbled 15.5% year to date through Thursday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.19% has gained 9.4%.

Mueller Asks WH to Preserve All Documents Related to Campaign Meeting With Russians

Robert Mueller / Getty Images

Special counsel Robert Mueller has asked the White House to preserve all documents relating to the meeting between top Trump campaign officials, a Russian lawyer, and others in June 2016. Mueller sent a letter with the request to the White House, asking for all relevant documents to be saved regarding the meeting at Trump Tower, CNN reported Friday. Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort met with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya last summer believing that they would receive compromising information against Hillary Clinton. At least eight people were present at the meeting, including a Russian-American lobbyist and former Soviet counterintelligence officer. Mueller asked for anything related to the recent revelations of the meeting and the release of Donald Trump Jr.’s emails to be saved for his investigation. “As you are aware the Special Counsel’s office is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, including any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of Donald Trump,” Mueller’s letter read. “Information concerning the June 2016 meeting between Donald J Trump Jr and Natalia Veselnitskaya is relevant to the investigation.” The White House counsel’s office on Wednesday sent the letter to White House staff informing them of Mueller’s request.

Financier Anthony Scaramucci Trump’s new communications director—here’s how he made his millions

So who is Anthony Scaramucci?

Scaramucci, 53, was appointed to be one of 16 members of then President-elect Trump’s Presidential Transition Team Executive Committee in November. Before being called to the political sphere, though, he was a hedge-fund financier and entrepreneur two times over. In 2011, he was named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year in the financial services category for his innovation as a founder of SkyBridge Capital. When he received the award, Scaramucci said he was committed to fostering entrepreneurship. SkyBridge Capital, founded in 2005, is a hedge fund with $11.4 billion in assets under management, according to the company’s website. In January, Scaramucci sold his stake in the hedge fund to Washington, D.C.-based RON Transatlantic Advisors and HNA Capital of New York. The deal (which is expected to close this summer) values SkyBridge Capital at $200 million, according to The Wall Street Journal, though Scaramucci’s percent ownership of SkyBridge Capital is not clear. SkyBridge was not Scaramucci’s first entrepreneurial venture. He was also the co-founder of financial services company Oscar Capital Management, which he sold to financial services company Neuberger Berman, LLC in 2001. Scaramucci also worked at Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs and Neuberger Berman, according to his LinkedIn profile. At Goldman Sachs, he was a vice president in private wealth management. He graduated from Harvard Law School and got his undergraduate degree from Tufts. In addition to launching and running financial services companies, Scaramucci is an author. He wrote “The Little Book of Hedge Funds,” “Goodbye Gordon Gekko” and “Hopping Over the Rabbit Hole.”

Sean Spicer resigns as White House press secretary after objecting to Scaramucci hire

White House press secretary Sean Spicer has resigned after opposing President Donald Trump’s appointment of Anthony Scaramucci as communications director, NBC News has confirmed with two people familiar with the matter.The New York Times first reported the news. The president asked Spicer to stay in his role, but Spicer said appointing Scaramucci was a major mistake, the Times reported, citing a person with direct knowledge of the conversation. Spicer’s departure comes six months into the Trump administration. His daily press briefings, often featuring tense exchanges with reporters, were frequently carried live on multiple networks. Scaramucci is a former hedge fund star. He is well-known as the host of the annual SkyBridge Alternatives (SALT) Conference and is currently the U.S. Export-Import Bank’s senior vice president. Earlier, a source close to the White House told NBC that Scaramucci met with Trump and it went well. In the meeting, Scaramucci was offered the role of communications director and accepted it, according to multiple reports. When NBC asked its source whether Trump would change his mind, the person said the president’s mind is made up. But Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus and top adviser Steve Bannon had resisted the appointment, NBC reported Friday. It said the two were kept out of the loop on the decision. Sources both within and outside the White House told NBC that Bannon told Scaramucci that he would get the job “over my dead body.”

 

MSNBC Guest: Trump ‘Will Fire Mueller at Some Point’ Because ‘Totalitarian People’ Show Their Hands

MSNBC guest panelist Donny Deutsch declared Friday that President Donald Trump will fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller “at some point,” making his prediction based on “totalitarian people” like Trump showing their hands. A New York Times report Thursday stated Trump aides and lawyers are looking into Mueller’s team hired for the Russia investigation, seeking ways to discredit the probe and reasons to fire Mueller or his investigators. Mueller recently expanded the investigation to include Trump’s business dealings. “One thing about Trump is he tells you what he’s going to do,” Deutsch said. “He shows his hand. That’s what totalitarian people do. He has said there is a red line if you go into my businesses.” Deutsch pointed to a New Republic article called “Trump’s Russian Laundromat” that, in Deutsch’s words, “lays out all the dirty Russian money coming in.” “Trump knows he cannot let it go that far,” he said. “He cannot. He will be destroyed. He will end up possibly in jail. He will fire Mueller at some point. You can see it. He’s teeing it up, and that’s where this is going, make no mistake about it.” Deutsch, like others on “Morning Joe,” is a former friend of Trump who has become a fierce critic. He previously was rebuked by his co-hosts when, in the aftermath of Trump’s personal attacks via Twitter at host Mika Brzezinski, he challenged Trump to a fight in the school yard.

GE revenue falls 12 percent

(Reuters) – General Electric Co (GE.N) reported a 12 percent drop in quarterly revenue as weakness in its energy connections business offset strength in renewables and power units. Earnings from continuing operations attributable to GE shareholders fell to $1.34 billion in the second quarter ended June. 30 from $3.30 billion a year earlier. Earnings per share from continuing operations fell to 15 cents from 36 cents, the company said.  GE’s energy connections business provides electrification and automation products to the oil and gas, mining, utility and marine industries. Total revenue fell to $29.56 billion from $33.49 billion.

Exclusive: U.S. toughens stance on foreign deals in blow to China’s buying spree

(Reuters) – A secretive U.S. government panel has objected to at least nine acquisitions of U.S. companies by foreign buyers so far this year, people familiar with the matter said, a historically high number that bodes poorly for China’s overseas buying spree. The objections indicate that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews acquisitions by foreign entities for potential national security risks, is becoming more risk-averse under U.S. President Donald Trump. Chinese companies and investors eyeing U.S. assets could face more roadblocks as a result, at a time when the Chinese government is also restricting the flow of capital out of China following a bonanza of Chinese overseas deals. There have been 87 announced acquisitions of U.S. companies by Chinese firms so far in 2017, the highest on record and up from 77 deals in the corresponding period in 2016. CFIUS’s more conservative stance toward deals coincides with growing political and economic tensions between the United States and China. On Wednesday the two countries failed to agree on major new steps to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with China. Since the start of the year, CFIUS has sent letters to companies involved in at least nine deals to say they would be blocked based on measures they have proposed to address potential national security risks, the people familiar said. Many of these deals are in the technology sector, the sources said. A rise in cyber security threats and rapid advances in technology makes it more difficult to establish whether a deal poses any threat, lawyers who represent companies before CFIUS said. An initial objection by the watchdog does not necessarily kill the deal immediately. Some companies this year have chosen to keep their CFIUS filings alive by proposing new mitigation measures, while others have pulled their applications and canceled their deals, the people said. They asked not be identified because interactions between CFIUS and the companies are confidential.

Trump’s lawyers reportedly hunting for ways to discredit and derail Russia probe

President Donald Trump’s lawyers are looking for ways to hit back at special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, media outlets reported on Thursday. Trump’s legal team has been probing the backgrounds of investigators on the case as well as checking for any potential conflicts of interest that could foil Mueller’s inquiry, the Washington Post and New York Times said in separate reports, each citing anonymous sources.

Former FBI director Robert Mueller.
Getty Images Former FBI director Robert Mueller.

These research efforts may also be aimed at firing Mueller or getting some members of his team recused, the New York Times said. The president told the Times on Wednesday that members of Mueller’s team had potential conflicts of interest, adding that he would make the information available “at some point.” Trump has also asked advisers about the president’s pardoning authority, specifically in relation to aides, family members and himself, the Washington Post reported. Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Trump’s external legal team, also resigned on Thursday, the Post added. Tasked with examining alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Mueller has been inspecting the president’s business dealings as well as those of his family and associates.

As Sales Plunge, GM Might Cancel Six Car Models

Discussions with the UAW have started. Entire plants at risk. GM is getting whacked harder than any of the major automakers by the industry-wide plunge in car sales, as Americans switch in ever larger numbers from cars to “trucks,” which include pickups, van, SUVs and crossovers. In the first half of 2017, GM’s car sales in the US plunged 19%, and in June 38%. The rest of the industry (without GM) booked declines in car sales of “only” 10% in the first half and 9% in June. GM is losing ground in the bitter industry-wide reality of dropping car sales. Now comes the next step: Ending production entirely of some models, shuttering plants for good or converting them to making trucks, and fretting about jobs. And that’s already being discussed between the UAW and GM, according to UAW president Dennis Williams. Six passenger cars are currently under review at GM and might be cancelled after the 2020 model year, Reuters “has learned from people familiar with the plans”: Chevrolet Volt (a hybrid, not to be confused with the Bolt, an EV), Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac CT6, Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet Impala, and Chevrolet Sonic. Other automakers already cancelled cars for the 2016 and 2017 model years, including the Dodge Viper; the Volkswagen Eos, a convertible suffering from the decade-long slump of all convertibles; the Honda CR-Z hybrid 2-door; the Lincoln MKS, a nicely groomed Taurus; and Toyota’s entire Scion brand, with some models migrating to the Toyota brand and others, such as the Scion tC, just gone.