Friday, 31 May 2019

Tokyo 2020 torch relay route revealed, uniforms unveiled

June 1, 2019

By Jack Tarrant

TOKYO (Reuters) – Tokyo 2020 organizers on Saturday unveiled the uniforms to be worn by 10,000 volunteer runners during the torch relay and presented further details about the route the relay will take.

Organizers said the torch will travel through all 47 of Japan’s prefectures – from Hokkaido in the north to the southern island of Okinawa – and most of the country will have the chance to see the torch with 98% percent of the population residing within an hour’s distance from the route.

The 121-day relay will begin on March 16 at the J-Village in Fukushima, which is Japanese soccer’s national training center and a symbol of resilience during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed almost 16,000 people.

Games organizers have sought to stress the importance of Tokyo 2020 as the ‘reconstruction Olympics’ and it was evident in the choice of the route, which will pass through Okuma, where part of the Fukushima nuclear complex is located, and past Kumamoto Castle, which suffered heavy earthquake damage in 2016.

“It is not just about places where people can come or around landmarks, but the torch will also visit areas affected by the Great Japan Earthquake and Kumamoto Castle, recovering from the Kumamoto earthquake,” said Miho Takeda, a Tokyo 2020 committee member and five-time Olympic medalist in synchronized swimming.

“The relay will go through areas of Japan that are working hard to recover from natural disasters.”

The torch will also visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and pass Mount Fuji before arriving at the National Stadium in Tokyo on July 24 during the Olympics opening ceremony.

The runners’ uniform, designed by fashion designer Daisuke Obana, was unveiled by multiple Olympic gold medalist judoka Tadahiro Nomura.

The uniforms, which are produced in part from recycled plastic bottles, incorporate a diagonally-draped red sash similar to those used as batons in Ekiden, Japan’s famous long distance relay events.

“The torch bearer uniform is eco-friendly. Coca Cola collected plastic bottles in their company and recycled them to use them in the uniform material,” Nomura said.

(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

Ruiz hoping extra pounds make difference against Joshua

June 1, 2019

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Andy Ruiz Jr. hopes to use his extra weight as a weapon against heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua when the pair meet on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

Joshua will defend his IBF, WBA and WBO titles against Ruiz, who is looking to become the first Mexican heavyweight champion.

While the 1.98m tall Briton came in at 247 1/2 pounds for his debut fight in the United States, Ruiz tipped the scales at 268 pounds during Friday’s weigh in.

The 29-year-old hopes the pounds will help him overcome his height and reach disadvantage.

“That was the game plan,” Ruiz told reporters. “We’re fighting someone big, someone taller than me. So I want to carry that weight well so my punches are going to hit harder.”

Joshua brings an undefeated record of 22 wins, including 21 knockouts, to the ring against Ruiz (32-1, 21 KOs). He had been scheduled to fight Jarrell Miller but the New York State Athletic Commission refused to sanction the fight after Miller failed a drugs test.

“Tomorrow night, I put the titles in the air and they’re up for grabs,” Joshua said. “And me and him go to war. So the best man wins.”

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

MLB roundup: Cards edge Cubs in 10

June 1, 2019

Matt Carpenter hit a game-ending, bases-loaded single in the 10th inning to send the host St. Louis Cardinals to a 2-1 victory against the Chicago Cubs on Friday night.

Carpenter sent a fly ball the opposite way to a largely vacant left field, as the Cubs had loaded four defenders on the right side of the infield. The hit off Steve Cishek scored Kolten Wong, who had doubled into the right field corner with one out, and secured the Cardinals’ first walk-off victory of the season.

Chicago relievers Kyle Ryan, Brad Brach and Brandon Kintzler collaborated on three innings of perfect, three-strikeout relief before St. Louis’ 10th-inning rally against Mike Montgomery (1-1), Dillon Maples and Cishek.

Jordan Hicks (2-2) was the winner, pitching hitless ball in the ninth and 10th with two walks and two strikeouts.

Yankees 4, Red Sox 1

Aaron Hicks hit a tiebreaking two-run single in the third inning, and New York beat visiting Boston.

The Yankees improved to 3-0 against the Red Sox this year and continued to roll. New York beat Chris Sale (1-7) for the second time this year and won for the 14th time in 17 games overall.

DJ LeMahieu hit a game-tying double in the third inning, then belted his sixth homer in the fifth to make it 4-1. Rafael Devers homered in the second inning for the Red Sox, who dropped their third straight.

Reds 9, Nationals 3

Curt Casali homered among his three hits and drove in four runs for the third time in his career as host Cincinnati posted a victory over Washington.

Joey Votto collected three singles for his fifth straight multi-hit performance, and Jose Iglesias scored three times for the Reds, who have plated 66 runs in their past nine games (5-4).

Juan Soto belted a solo homer and a double to extend his career-high hitting streak to 14 games for the Nationals, who fell for just the second time in eight contests. The loss was Washington’s first in Cincinnati since June 4, 2016.

White Sox 6, Indians 1

Charlie Tilson ripped a go-ahead, two-run double in the third inning, and Chicago pulled away for a win over visiting Cleveland.

Jose Abreu and Yolmer Sanchez also drove in one run apiece for the White Sox, who increased their season-high winning streak to five games. Dylan Covey (1-4) allowed one run on eight hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out five while earning his first victory since Aug. 31, 2018.

Francisco Lindor hit a solo shot to lead off the game for the Indians’ lone run. Cleveland has dropped two in a row, five of seven and nine of 12.

Pirates 9, Brewers 4

Kevin Newman and Colin Moran each drove in two runs as Pittsburgh used a small-ball game to beat visiting Milwaukee.

Pittsburgh, which had lost eight of its previous 11 games, including the series opener Thursday, had 13 hits — all singles. Chris Archer (2-5) pitched seven innings, allowing four runs — all on homers — and five hits, with seven strikeouts and two walks.

The Pirates rode a six-run third inning to the win. Jesus Aguilar and Keston Hiura homered for Milwaukee.

Orioles 9, Giants 6

Dwight Smith Jr. hit a grand slam, Trey Mancini added a two-run shot, and Baltimore defeated visiting San Francisco.

Renato Nunez added a solo homer for the Orioles. Andrew Cashner (6-2) survived a five-run first inning and gave up six runs on eight hits in five innings. Three Orioles relievers strung together four innings of one-hit relief, with Richard Bleier picking up his second save.

Former Orioles farmhand Mike Yastrzemski hit his first major league homer and tripled for the Giants.

Twins 5, Rays 3

Eddie Rosario hit a two-run, bases-loaded single in the ninth inning to break a tie and give Minnesota a victory over Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Polanco scored three runs and had two doubles and a RBI, and Willians Astudillo had two RBI singles for Minnesota, which improved to 15-3 following a loss.

Kevin Kiermaier hit a two-run homer and Austin Meadows stole home for Tampa Bay, which had a season-best six-game winning streak snapped.

Tigers 8, Braves 2

Leadoff hitter Niko Goodrum had five hits, including two solo homers, and Detroit overpowered host Atlanta to win its third straight.

Goodrum’s first career five-hit night included four runs and three RBIs. Nicholas Castellanos and Grayson Greiner also homered for the Tigers while Brandon Dixon added two hits and an RBI. Detroit had lost 12 of 13 prior to the winning streak.

Detroit’s Spencer Turnbull (3-4), who was activated off the bereavement list, gave up two runs (one earned) on five hits in six-plus innings. Atlanta’s Mike Foltynewicz (1-4) gave up five runs, including three homers, on seven hits in five innings while striking out eight.

Rockies 13, Blue Jays 6

Trevor Story hit two home runs and had a career-high seven RBIs, German Marquez pitched seven strong innings, and Colorado beat Toronto in Denver.

Story followed up Thursday’s four-hit game with three more and scored four runs. Nolan Arenado also had three hits and Raimel Tapia scored four times for Colorado, which has won six in a row. Marquez (6-2) allowed two runs on six hits and struck out seven and had two of the Rockies’ 17 hits. He now has a five-game hitting streak. He is three shy of Mike Hampton’s club record for a pitcher set in 2002.

Randal Grichuk and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. homered for the Blue Jays, who have lost four in a row.

Rangers 6, Royals 2

Joey Gallo’s first career grand slam highlighted a six-run sixth inning and helped Texas even its four-game set against visiting Kansas City at Arlington, Texas.

Ariel Jurado (2-2) delivered a second straight strong start, giving up two runs and striking out six in six innings for the Rangers, who bounced back from a 4-2 loss to the Royals on Thursday. However, it was Gallo’s 16th homer of the season and first in seven games that was the difference.

Texas was stymied for five innings by Kansas City’s Danny Duffy (3-2) until the home side broke through in a major way while batting around in the sixth.

–Field Level Media

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U.S. judge waves through D.C. case against Facebook

June 1, 2019

By Katie Paul

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Friday denied Facebook Inc.’s request to dismiss a lawsuit by the Washington, D.C. attorney general over the social media giant’s improper sharing of 87 million users’ data with British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

The U.S. capital city sued Facebook in December, accusing it of misleading users because it had known about the breach for two years before disclosing it and had allowed third-party app makers to access user information without their consent.

Judge Fern Flanagan Saddler signed the order denying Facebook’s motion to dismiss, or alternatively, stay proceedings, the court said in a brief statement on its website.

It was the second legal blow for the world’s largest social network on Friday, after a judge in Delaware ordered it to turn over to shareholders emails and other records on its handling of data privacy, also linked to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the decision.

Cambridge Analytica, hired by U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, used a personality quiz distributed on Facebook to gather profile information in order to predict and influence voter behavior.

It shut down after the breach was disclosed. Several U.S. and European regulatory probes into Facebook ensued, including investigations by multiple state attorneys general.

The Washington, D.C. court could award unspecified damages and impose a civil penalty of up to $5,000 per violation of the district’s consumer protection law, or potentially close to $1.7 billion, if penalized for each consumer affected.

The lawsuit alleges the firm’s quiz software had data on 340,000 D.C. residents, even though just 852 users had directly engaged with it.

(Reporting by Katie Paul; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Ten years on, questions remain over response to Air France 447

June 1, 2019

By Tim Hepher and Allison Lampert

SEOUL/MONTREAL (Reuters) – As Air France pilots fought for control, an Airbus A330 passenger jet plummeted from 38,000 feet for four minutes, its engines running but its wings unable to seize enough air to fly.

The doomed jet, weighing 205 tonnes, was in freefall after entering an aerodynamic stall. The ordeal ended in tragedy in the early hours of June 1, 2009 https://reut.rs/2YYR1lt, mid-way from Rio de Janeiro to Paris during an Atlantic storm, killing all 228 people on board.

As relatives mark the disaster’s tenth anniversary, the aviation industry is still implementing lessons learned from Air France flight 447 even as it faces a new crisis over the two-month-old global grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft.

French investigators found the crew of AF447 mishandled the loss of speed readings from sensors blocked with ice from the storm, and pushed it into a stall by holding the nose too high.

The BEA investigation agency called for improved training of pilots, instructors and inspectors, and better cockpit design among recommendations to prevent a repeat of the catastrophe.

The crash, which sparked a wider debate about the balance of humans and technology, is seen as one of a handful of accidents that changed aviation. But it has taken as much as a decade to implement some recommendations put forward by the BEA.

Even before finding the main part of the wreckage, the agency called in late 2009 for improved tracking of aircraft.

The initial reaction of the airline industry was lukewarm and the regulatory panel charged with such discussions had gone for some time without meeting because it lacked a secretary, according to people with direct knowledge of the discussions.

It was not until after the disappearance of a second jet in 2014, the MH370 – a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, that regulators took firm action, they said.

A decision to require signals every 15 minutes in remote zones came into force last year.

“After AF447 many people had an intuitive perception that an accident of a plane cruising over the ocean is very, very rare and so it wasn’t evident that there would be another (case),” said the BEA’s current director, Remi Jouty.

“To see adoption of international norms taking time was frustrating. But we know processes are very slow, and then MH370 accelerated matters and there was momentum,” he told Reuters.

Airlines holding annual talks in Seoul this weekend will seek to restore confidence strained by the two recent Boeing crashes and still haunted by the disappearance of MH370.

A spokesman for the International Civil Aviation Organization, the United Nations’ aviation agency, cautioned against drawing links between AF447 and Malaysia’s MH370.”The real aircraft tracking recommendations came after MH370, and the only reason they appear to have been adopted more quickly is because they leveraged the work already initiated post-AF447,” he said.

AUTOPILOT DILEMMA

A second major upheaval from AF447 concerned training, BEA’s Jouty said. Investigators rarely cast blame for accidents but seek to understand the mental picture facing a confused crew and what training is needed to avoid future disasters.

Together with the fatal crash of a Colgan Air turboprop near Buffalo, New York, in 2009, the AF447 tragedy led to new procedures and training.

Yet other key recommendations remain mired in disagreement.

The BEA called in 2011 for an indicator showing pilots the “Angle of Attack” – a stall-related parameter that is once again in the spotlight after MAX crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

Opponents say civil pilots are trained to rely on other data and the gauge would be redundant or even confusing.

For almost 20 years, many investigators have also called for cockpit video cameras to record what information is actually displayed to pilots. The BEA repeated the proposal after AF447.

Pilot unions oppose the idea due to concerns over privacy and fears it could be a distraction.

Loss of control remains a worry.

Air France and French unions have defended the AF447 pilots, saying they faced conflicting alarms.

“I’ve been really for the past 20 to 25 years pushing people to fly manual,” said Mohammed Aziz, a former air investigator and consultant with Aviation Strategies International, adding many pilots are ordered to use autopilot as much as possible.

“Automation is what makes your life much easier but then the minute you need to use your skills you find that most pilots have lost some,” Aziz added.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro and Redmi Note 5 Pro both get stable Android 9 Pie updates

Back in March, Xiaomi started sending out beta builds of the Android 9 Pie update for both the Redmi 6 Pro and the Redmi Note 5 Pro to interested testers in India. And now it looks like all the bugs have been ironed out, because the stable update is rolling out for both devices. It's arriving over-the-air in India, as MIUI 10.3.2.0.PDMMIXM for the Redmi 6 Pro, weighing in at 1.6GB. This release includes the May 2019 security patch level. You also get face unlock support for App lock, the ability to stay on the lock screen after using face unlock, and to restrict the opening of the...

Mexico eyes steps to cut immigrant flows to U.S. border, official says

June 1, 2019

By Frank Jack Daniel

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico wants to sharpen existing measures in its bid to narrow a flood of Central American migrants to the U.S. border, a top Mexican official said on Friday, ahead of planned meetings in Washington over tariffs threatened by President Donald Trump.

Trump on Thursday said he would introduce the tariffs, starting at 5% on June 10 and quickly ratcheting higher if Mexico did not substantially halt illegal immigration, largely from Central America, across the U.S.-Mexican border.

“To avoid these flows that go from Central America to the United States in large numbers I think we can make progress with traditional mechanisms and better exercise existing rules,” said Jesus Seade, Mexico’s deputy foreign minister for North America.

Asked if Mexico might agree to be classified as a “safe third country” where asylum seekers would have to lodge claims instead of the United States, he replied, “That is not something we are working with.”

Seade declined to give further details of what more Mexico could do to stem immigration, citing the delicate nature of the talks in Washington.

Trump’s ultimatum is the biggest foreign policy test yet for Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and a tall order for security forces already struggling to reduce migrant flows and combat record levels of gang violence and homicide.

Trump’s pressure has spurred Mexico to step up the number of undocumented immigrants it detains and deports in recent months, but numbers reaching the U.S. border have also risen.

Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard traveled to Washington on Friday and is to be joined by Seade on Sunday. On Wednesday they will meet a U.S. delegation led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to resolve the dispute.

Seade said the Mexican team was setting up other meetings for Monday and Tuesday, and had spoken ahead of the trip with the United States Trade Representative.

“I had a good conversation with (USTR) Robert Lighthizer, but in reality the issue at hand has more to do with immigration,” he added.

Trump has pledged to end the wave of tens of thousands of asylum seekers, including many Central American families fleeing poverty and violence, who make the arduous journey north to seek refuge in the United States.

In the biggest migrant surge on the U.S-Mexican border in a decade, U.S. officials say 80,000 people are in custody, with an average of 4,500 mostly Central American migrants arriving each day, overwhelming the handling resources of border officials.

The number of migrants arrested on the southwest border last month was 98,977, a record.

As part of the U.S. effort to stem the flow, Kevin K. McAleenan, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Guatemala government agreed to boost law enforcement cooperation, the DHS said on Friday.

“Included in the agreement is a provision on law enforcement training to improve criminal investigations that disrupt human trafficking and drug smuggling networks,” the DHS said in a statement.

Such networks are often run by transnational criminal groups that profit from human suffering, it added.

A Mexican government source said McAleenan and Guatemala’s government agreed on the presence of DHS “advisers” in the Central American nation, but Mexico was not part of the pact.

Since taking office in December, Lopez Obrador has urged Trump to help him tackle migration by promoting economic development in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

(Writing and additional reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Take Five: Tweet, Freak, Sleep, Repeat

June 1, 2019

(Reuters) – 1/MEXICAN STANDOFF … IN JAPAN

The G20’s finance ministers and top central bankers brass will meet in Japan next weekend, and with the global trade war escalating rapidly again — Mexico has been dragged back into the thick of it — they’ll have plenty to talk about.

Spooked markets will hope blockbuster tete-a-tetes among U.S. President Donald Trump, President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mexican leaders all make progress.

But the host’s top currency diplomat, Masatsugu Asakawa, has already tried to manage expectations, saying the post-meeting communique won’t include language saying members will fight protectionism, and the Bank of Japan governor has been sounding cautious.

That’s one reasons why the outlook for the global economy is now looking so grim. Bond markets are convinced a global recession is coming, Australia could become the second advanced economy to start cutting interest rates again next week — to a record low of 1.25% — and some economists are now penciling in as many as five Fed cuts.

Global PMI activity and trade: https://tmsnrt.rs/2WzqeyD

2/ A CASE OF CHICKEN LITTLE?

With Trump lobbing a new grenade — possible tariffs on Mexico — into the trade battle, the world may have stepped closer toward recession. Bond markets shout that warning loudly: three-month U.S. yields are well above 10-year rates, the so-called curve inversion that’s foretold most 20th century U.S. recessions.

But could it be that bond markets are behaving like Chicken Little, warning the sky is falling? After all, years of money-printing may have weakened bonds’ predictive power. So let’s look at other gauges of a downturn?. First, unemployment. It rose before the past two recessions, but U.S. unemployment is now near 50-year lows. Equities? May will be the first month in the red this year for global and U.S. stocks. But before the last two recessions, U.S shares turned down on a 12-month rolling basis — that hasn’t happened yet this time. Looming recessions push up junk bond yields, but they’ve actually fallen in 2019. On the downside, Korean exports, a bellwether of global growth, have fallen for five straight months. The Baltic Dry Freight index, a leading indicator for raw-material demand, is also down this year.

So signals are mixed. Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida has just signaled interest rates might be cut if growth looks at risk. But his view overall was that the U.S. economy was in a “very good place”.

U.S. Yield Curve: http://tmsnrt.rs/2zUqXiW

3/TIME TO TLTRO

It’s time for action again at the European Central Bank. It will use its June 6 meeting to disclose the details for another round of ultra-cheap, multi-year TLTRO loans. Corporate lending in April expanded at its best rate this year, a positive sign. But with the growth outlook weak (think trade wars, Brexit, weak PMIs), generous TLTRO terms would be a sure-fire way to help.

But how generous is generous? There could be disappointment if they are not as low as previous rounds, especially with the German Bund yields, which anchor euro zone borrowing costs, at record lows.

Evaporating inflation expectations, a U.S.-China trade war that could soon spill into Europe and worries about Italy all mean ECB chief Mario Draghi should stick to his trademark dovish tone. The bank will also have new economic forecasts to chew over.

Time to TLTRO, pt. III: https://tmsnrt.rs/2WBhIPI

4/THE ALBATROSS

The U.S. Federal Reserve holds a two-day conference in Chicago, where central bank insiders will huddle with private-sector economists to debate how the Fed might tweak things to better meet its dual mandate of stable inflation and full employment.

Fed brains have been flummoxed by the apparent breakdown in the relationship between employment and prices and by their inability to coax inflation up to their 2% target for any length of time. Since establishing that target in 2011, the Fed has managed to meet it only a handful of times, and with the trade war ratcheting up it is again drifting out of reach.

When unemployment was last this low, half a century ago, both headline inflation and core inflation, stripping out food and energy costs, were far higher than they are today. It’s far from certain what will emerge from Chair Jerome Powell’s framework review initiative, but it is clear that Fed officials are fretful of losing the confidence of consumers and markets in their ability to steer inflation.

Low inflation: The Fed’s albatross – https://tmsnrt.rs/2Kf6qdx

5/MAN OF ACTION? “There are those who talk and those who act,” Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini has been quoted as saying. During his one year in office, Salvini has certainly shown he can talk. Now markets may be find out if he’s also a man of action.

Emboldened by European parliamentary elections, in which his far-right party got a third of the votes, Salvini is threatening to tear up EU fiscal rules. He argues the result gives his party a mandate to push through tax cuts and fight EU budget rules. Doing that would end the budget truce with the European Commission after less than six months.

The Rome-Brussels standoff will escalate after June 5 if the Commission decides to start disciplinary steps against Italy for failing to rein in debt. It could impose fines as high as 8.7 billion euros.

We may also learn soon if Salvini intends to dissolve his coalition with the 5-Star Movement and call snap elections, something he has so far ruled out.

All that has put markets on high alert. Shares in Italian banks have fallen to their lowest since September 2016. Italian bonds sold off after the election and yield spreads over German yields have widened, approaching last November’s 300 bps.

The risk is that worsening debt metrics trigger credit rating downgrades in coming months. That would raise bond yields further, hurting Italian banks. If Salvini — and the Commission — do act, buckle up for more turbulence.

Italian assets: Man of action? – https://tmsnrt.rs/2KoAofh

(Reporting by Sujata Rao, Dhara Ranasinghe and Marc Jones in London, Danilo Masoni in Milan, Marius Zaharia in Hong Kong, Vidya Ranganathan in Singapore and Dan Burns in New York; editing by Larry King)

U.S. begins collecting higher tariffs on Chinese goods arriving by sea

June 1, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States began collecting higher, 25% tariffs on many Chinese goods arriving in U.S. seaports on Saturday morning in an intensification of the trade war between the world’s two largest economies and drawing retaliation from Beijing.

U.S. President Donald Trump imposed the tariff increase on a$200 billion list of Chinese goods on May 10, but had allowed a grace period for sea-borne cargoes that departed China before that date, keeping them at the prior, 10% duty rate.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office in a May 15 Federal Register notice set a June 1 deadline for those goods to arrive in the United States, after which U.S. Customs and Border protection would begin collecting the 25% duty rate at U.S. ports. The deadline expired at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Saturday

The tariff increase affects a broad range of consumer goods, and intermediate components from China including internet modems and routers, printed circuit boards, furniture, vacuum cleaners and lighting products.

Earlier on Saturday, China began collecting higher retaliatory tariffs on much of a $60 billion target list of U.S. goods. The tariffs, announced on May 13 and taking effect as of midnight in Beijing (1600 GMT), apply additional 20% or 25% tariffs on more than half of the 5,140 U.S. products targeted. Beijing had previously imposed additional rates of 5% or 10% on the targeted goods.

No further trade talks between top Chinese and U.S. negotiators have been scheduled since the last round ended in a stalemate on May 10, the same day when Trump announced higher tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods and then took steps to levy duties on all remaining Chinese imports.

China ordered the latest tariff increases in response to Trump’s move.

Trump has accused China of breaking a deal to settle their trade dispute by reneging on earlier commitments made during months of negotiations. China has denied the allegations.

Beijing has grown more strident in recent weeks, accusing Washington of lacking sincerity and vowing that it will not cave to the Trump administration’s demands.

Its rhetoric has hardened particularly since Washington put Chinese company Huawei Technologies Co Ltd on a blacklist that effectively bans the firm from doing business with U.S. companies.

(Reporting David Lawder in Washington and Stella Qiu and Se Young Lee in Beijing; editing by Grant McCool)

Samsung Galaxy A80 could launch in India next week

Samsung made the Galaxy A70 official in March and the Galaxy A80 in April, but while the former has already gone on sale in some markets, including India, the A80 with the unique rotating pop-up camera is still nowhere to be found in stores. That may change very soon. The Korean company is apparently going to hold some exclusive preview events of the Galaxy A80 for interested customers in India next week. Samsung fans in Delhi, Mumbai, and Hyderabad will be able to see and experience it on Saturday, June 8, while people in Bangalore and Kolkata will have the same opportunity on Sunday,...

Tsurenko seeks confidence-boosting French Open win over Halep

June 1, 2019

(Reuters) – Lesia Tsurenko overcame a sudden onset of self doubt after her 30th birthday with a gritty display to beat Aleksandra Krunic in the French Open second round and the Ukrainian will seek another shot in the arm when she meets Simona Halep on Saturday.

Tsurenko sealed the second-round win by taking the deciding third set 11-9 after bad light stopped play on Thursday — her birthday — and said the result had helped her deal with the mental conflict.

“I feel relieved now… I said this morning to myself that probably if I’m not going to win this match there would be a very big mental problem in future for me,” Tsurenko said.

“But I was, like, you have to win this match just to prove to yourself that you can handle everything. That was my goal today. And I did it. I’m just happy that I did it.

“It was really tough mentally to play and at the end my body was just not listening to me… being a tennis player, at some point you think no, no, no. I’m going to fight. And this is exactly what happened.”

Tsurenko has never beaten defending champion Halep in seven career meetings, including two matches in February, but she said she was looking forward to the pair’s third-round meeting.

“I’m actually really excited to play Simona again this year,” the world number 27 said.

“We played a few times already… I think that matches like it makes me better. Win or lose, it’s always good experience and it’s always, like, positive for your future.”

In other matches on the main showcourts, Novak Djokovic takes on unseeded Italian Salvatore Caruso while Alexander Zverev faces Dusan Lajovic.

Serena Williams continues her quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title against fellow American Sofia Kenin. Naomi Osaka, who has endured difficult matches in her previous two rounds, takes on Katerina Siniakova.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)

NBA notebook: Kerr says Durant could return for Game 3

June 1, 2019

Golden State forward Andre Iguodala is expected to play Sunday, despite being hobbled at the end of Game 1 of the NBA Finals, but teammate Kevin Durant won’t.

Coach Steve Kerr updated the state of the Warriors’ health Friday, saying Iguodala should play in Game 2 while Durant may return for Game 3 on Wednesday when the series shifts to Oakland, Calif. The Toronto Raptors won Game 1 on Thursday night 118-109 to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Iguodala drove in for a score near the end of the game and was limping afterward. Kerr said Iguodala underwent an MRI exam Friday morning, and while he didn’t disclose the results, The Athletic reported it came back clean.

As for Durant, Kerr said he already has been ruled out for Game 2. Durant has been sidelined since injuring his right calf during the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets on May 8. The Warriors were 5-0 without Durant in these playoffs until the loss to the Raptors.

–Draymond Green insists that Drake isn’t getting under his skin, commenting one day after the Golden State Warriors star had a brief verbal exchange with Drake after Game 1 of the NBA Finals as the Canadian rapper enjoyed the Toronto Raptors’ 118-109 victory.

Green said Friday that Drake deserves a little extra slack for his antics because of his fame: “Drake talking on the sideline, I think so many people make a big deal out of it. It is what it is. He’s a fan. He talks and it gets more attention because he’s Drake.

“He’s worked his a– off to be who he is. I think we all know when you do that, you get more leash than others. I think there’s so much talk and the NBA needs to — no, they don’t. He worked to be who he is; you should get more leash. But I don’t mind it. It’s fun for me.”

–The Los Angeles Clippers were fined $50,000 for violating the NBA’s anti-tampering rule because of recent comments in which coach Doc Rivers compared Kawhi Leonard to all-time NBA great Michael Jordan.

Leonard, who led the Toronto Raptors to the NBA Finals, is slated to become a free agent after the season, and the Clippers are one of the teams expected to seek his services. Rivers made the comments Tuesday when he appeared on an NBA Finals preview show on ESPN.

“(Leonard) is the most like Jordan that we’ve seen,” Rivers said on the show. “There’s a lot of great players. LeBron (James) is phenomenal, KD (Kevin Durant) is phenomenal. Not that (Leonard) is Jordan or anything like that, but he’s the most like him.”

–Projected high NBA draft pick Cam Reddish will undergo core-muscle surgery prior to the June 20 draft, The Athletic reported.

Reddish played with the injury during his one season at Duke before entering the draft. His recovery time will be approximately six weeks, according to the The Athletic. Reddish, a swingman, is viewed as a probable Top 10 pick. He is currently listed as the No. 8 selection in the mock draft at nbadraft.net.

The 6-foot-8 Reddish averaged 13.5 points and 3.7 rebounds in 36 games last season. He shot just 35.6 percent from the field, including 33.3 from 3-point range.

–Field Level Media

NFL notebook: DT McCoy reportedly to pick from 3 teams

June 1, 2019

After finishing his latest free-agent visit with Carolina on Friday, six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy will reportedly decide on his 2019 team among three final suitors: the Panthers, the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns.

NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday that the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers star will mull over his final three options this weekend.

Several media outlets reported Thursday that McCoy, 31, finished up a two-day visit with Baltimore after having also visited the Browns last week, days after his release by the Tampa Buccaneers. The Tampa Bay Times reported McCoy has drawn bids from 10 teams with an offer as high as $11 million annually.

McCoy, the third overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, was released by the Buccaneers on May 20 with three years left on his contract. The deal called for him to make $13 million in base pay this season. The original contract was for six years and $95.2 million.

–The NFL suspended quarterback Chad Kelly two games for a violation of the league’s personal conduct policy.

The Indianapolis Colts signed Kelly this offseason, and if he makes the team, he won’t be eligible to play in a regular season game until Sept. 22. Under the suspension, Kelly can take part in offseason practices, training camp and preseason games.

Kelly, 25, last played for the Denver Broncos and was released in October 2018 on the heels of an arrest for criminal trespass while he was the Broncos’ No. 2 quarterback at the time behind Case Keenum, now with the Washington Redskins.

–Charges against former Houston Texans tight end Ryan Griffin were dismissed, two weeks after the team released him following his arrest in Nashville, Tenn.

Griffin, 29, was charged with vandalism and public intoxication on April 27 during the NFL draft, which was held in Nashville. He allegedly punched a hotel window and sustained a bloody left hand in the incident.

He was released a day later on $1,750 bond, with a court date set for Friday. The Houston Chronicle reported the charges were dismissed at a settlement conference. Griffin was assessed $195 in court costs. Griffin was entering the final year of a three-year, $9 million extension signed in March 2017.

–New Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur will have surgery Sunday to repair a torn Achilles tendon, according to multiple reports.

LaFleur was injured while playing “knockout” on a basketball hoop at the stadium on Wednesday night, reports Mike Silver of NFL.com. Silver suggests LaFleur will coach from a cart during the upcoming OTAs and likely throughout the offseason, but could return to the sidelines by the time the regular season starts.

LaFleur, 39, became the 15th head coach for Green Bay’s storied franchise after a month-long search in January. LaFleur replaced Mike McCarthy, who was fired by Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy on Dec. 2 after Green Bay was stunned by the Arizona Cardinals.

— Field Level Media

U.S. limits protections for some migrant children

June 1, 2019

By Kristina Cooke and Mica Rosenberg

(Reuters) – U.S. immigration authorities on Friday said the government would limit which migrant children who enter the country alone qualify for special protections in the United States, the latest move by the Trump administration to tighten immigration restrictions.

President Donald Trump has become increasingly aggressive in his fight to stem the surge of migrants crossing the U.S. border from Mexico. On Thursday he announced plans to slap tariffs on goods from Mexico if it does not act to stop the flow of migrants.

Children who are not accompanied by an adult have a special status under U.S. law, which allows them to make their claims to a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) asylum officer, in a non-adversarial setting, instead of an immigration judge. If they are denied, they get a second chance in immigration court.

USCIS spokeswoman Jessica Collins said the agency was rescinding a memorandum put in place by the administration of Democratic President Barack Obama that allowed children to keep their special status even if they turned 18 or reunited with a parent or legal guardian before filing an asylum application.

Trump has repeatedly said many of the protections for migrants are “legal loopholes” that have spurred much of the migration of children.

U.S. border patrol agents have apprehended almost 45,000 unaccompanied children at the southwest border since October. Most of them are teenagers and have often endured trauma and abuse in their home countries and on the journey north.

USCIS said it was returning to a previous policy from 2009. Immigration advocates said the move could have a wide impact as many unaccompanied minors reunite with parents in the United States.

    “Congress must reform the law to address the underlying issues fueling the border crisis and encouraging unaccompanied minors to make the dangerous journey to the United States,” Collins said.

The new guidance, first reported by BuzzFeed News, is the latest example of moves by the Trump administration to tighten immigration policy in the absence of Congressional action. It goes into effect on June 30, USCIS said.

Maria Odom, vice president for legal services at Kids In Need of Defense, who was the agency’s ombudsman when the 2013 memo was issued, said it was often not practical for children to quickly file for asylum. 

    “We have many kids who are so traumatized, and it takes a considerable amount of time to get them to talk,” she said. Children also are often moved from shelter to shelter when they initially arrive in the United States.

The memo was issued by the outgoing director of USCIS, Francis Cissna, the latest casualty of Trump’s purge of high-level officials of the Department of Homeland Security over concerns they were not doing enough to stem the flow of migrants. Trump has also threatened tariffs on all Mexican goods if Mexico does not do more to stop migration to the United States.

Cissna, who was popular with immigration restrictionists, made a number of rule changes during his tenure that have made it more difficult for legal immigrants to come to and stay in the United States. Cissna’s resignation is effective June 1.

(Reporting by Kristina Cooke and Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Samsung Galaxy M40 full specs leak reveals smaller battery than previously rumored

Samsung is launching the Galaxy M40 in India on June 11. To build up the hype it's already released some teasers, and an official has even outed some information about the handset. Thus, we found out it would be priced around INR 20,000 ($287 or €257 according to the current exchange rates), that its main rear camera would be a 32 MP snapper, and on the front the selfie shooter would have 16 MP resolution. Today more specs of the highest-end Samsung M-series smartphone have been leaked, and despite what past rumors claimed, it looks like it's not getting a 5,000 battery (like the M30),...

NASCAR notebook: Jones keeps on truckin’ in Cup car

June 1, 2019

Erik Jones ran one NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race last year, in a substitute role for Noah Gragson at Kyle Busch Motorsports.

As it turned out, that experience informed his opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice session at Pocono Raceway, where Jones started 31st in the No. 18 truck last year because of the driver change and charged to a runner-up finish.

“I never really would have thought this, but I drove that truck here last year filling in, and it actually helped me a lot making my first few laps (in Friday’s Cup practice), because I kind of knew it would be similar to that,” Jones said Friday during a question-and-answer session with reporters at the Tricky Triangle, venue ahead of Sunday’s Pocono 400 (2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

“So I tried to copy that a little bit, and it was pretty close. You lift probably a little more in (Turn) 1 than I thought, I guess if I really have to pin it down, but you’re carrying a lot of speed. You’re not off the throttle much, compared to what we had here the last couple years.”

The higher-downforce, lower-horsepower competition package introduced this year will yield significant differences in the way drivers turn a lap at the 2.5-mile, three-cornered track. For one thing, a new gear rule effectively eliminates shifting gears down the frontstretch. For another, off-throttle time is lessened, though Jones found in practice that he was using more brake than he expected.

“Probably more than I thought,” acknowledged Jones, who was fourth on the speed chart in the final practice. “Going into the weekend, yeah, I didn’t think we’d be needing much of any (brake) in any of the corners, really.

“I’m using a little bit into (Turn) 1 — I mean a really small amount. None really into (Turns) 2 or 3. Not any significant amount. I didn’t know that we’d be using any brake, so it’s a little bit more than I thought. As far as throttle traces and how I thought it was going to drive, it feels pretty close.”

WORLD WIDE TECHNOLOGY SUPPORTING WALLACE, VICTORY JUNCTION

Bubba Wallace has a new sponsor livery on the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet at Pocono Raceway this weekend, and it speaks to creative financing that will benefit not only Wallace but also children attending the Victory Junction Gang Camp.

World Wide Technology founder and chairman David Steward and his family made a leadership gift to the Victory Junction Gang Camp, in support of the camp’s mission to enrich the lives of children with chronic medical conditions and serious illnesses.

Victory Junction, in turn, will appear with World Wide Technology on Wallace’s car for 16 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races this season, starting this weekend at the Tricky Triangle. The sponsorship, which operates with the mantra “Feel Your Heart Race,” is fully funded by the Steward Family Foundation through the donation designed to promote the camp and its work with children.

To team owner Richard Petty, it’s an important breakthrough for an organization that has been operating on a smaller budget than many of its rivals in the Cup series.

“It’s always important to have good backing for your race car,” Petty said on Friday during the announcement at Pocono Raceway. “We’ve got a pretty good driver — we’ve just got to get him a better car. As everybody knows, it takes money to make a better car …

“It’s a perfect storm for us from a racing standpoint and a perfect storm for Victory Junction to get the name out there. A lot of people’s heard tell of it but don’t know what it is. This is going to give everybody a chance to see what Victory Junction really does.”

Wallace found out on Tuesday that the partnership had been finalized.

“I was kind of speechless at first,” Wallace acknowledged. .”.. We’ve got an opportunity to set the world on fire. To speak on Victory Junction, I’ve been able to visit twice, three times maybe, and there’s no cooler special place to see. The kids light up and let themselves be kids again.”

SHORT STROKES

Daniel Suarez sustained his ascendance in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice — at least for one session. After leading both Saturday sessions for last week’s Coca-Cola 600, Suarez was fastest in Friday’s opening session at Pocono Raceway, turning a lap at 171.217 mph. “I feel like we need to be a little bit better in the longer runs,” said the driver of the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, who was 17th-fastest in Happy Hour …

Kurt Busch jumped to the top of the speed chart late in the final practice, posting a speed of 172.712 mph on his fastest lap. Brad Keselowski was second quickest at 171.798 mph, followed by Kyle Larson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kyle Busch …

John Hunter Nemechek lost control of his No. 23 Chevrolet and backed it into the Turn 1 wall early in Friday’s opening NASCAR Xfinity Series practice. Because of extensive damage to the rear and driver’s side of the car, Nemechek’s GMS Racing team opted to go to a backup car and spent the rest of first practice and beyond preparing the backup for the second session. Nemechek was 14th-fastest in Xfinity Happy Hour, but trailed leader Cole Custer (169.383 mph) by more than three miles per hour.

–By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media

Trump to end trade privileges for India on June 5

June 1, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Friday that the United States would end its preferential trade treatment for India on June 5.

Trump had announced his intention to remove India from the Generalized System of Preferences program in March and the June 5 date follows the expiration of a 60-day notification period.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

In swipe at China, U.S. defense chief warns of Asia instability

June 1, 2019

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan suggested on Saturday that China was responsible for a range of destabilizing activities in Asia, stirring already heightened tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

In a wide-ranging speech in front of regional defense chiefs at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Shanahan called on Asian allies to increase their security spending, while emphasizing the United States’ commitment to the region.

    Shanahan’s comments come as the United States and China are locked in an escalating trade war and at odds over a range of issues from the disputed South China Sea to democratic Taiwan, claimed by China as its sacred territory.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; additional reporting by Joe Brock; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

U.S. Justice Department prepares anti-trust investigation of Google: WSJ

June 1, 2019

(Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department is preparing an anti-trust investigation of Alphabet Inc’s Google, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing sources.

The probe is expected to examine Google practices linked to search and other businesses, according to the report, which also said the Federal Trade Commission had investigated Google many years ago but will defer to the DOJ this time.

Google and the Justice Department did not respond to requests by Reuters for comment on Friday.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Sony infographic brags about its mobile innovations, records and world firsts

Sony's smartphone business is anything but a beacon of hope and huge sales and profitability. Still, the company is in it for the long haul and doesn't plan on exiting this market, even if it is retreating from certain areas. While its sales numbers might not be great, Sony wants to remain relevant, and its latest effort to do that is an infographic. This was shared today on the official blog of its mobile arm, and it's all about the various innovations, records, and world firsts that can be attributed to its past in the mobile business. From the first 4K display in a smartphone (the...

U.S. tariff threat backs Mexican president into corner, facing Trump

June 1, 2019

By Dave Graham

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s threats to slap punitive tariffs on all Mexican trade if Mexico does not stop illegal immigration has punched a gaping hole in his Mexican counterpart’s hands-off approach to diplomacy, with potentially ruinous consequences.

Mexico could face a severe economic shock if Trump makes good on a pledge to impose escalating tariffs of 5% on all Mexican goods from June 10 if the country does not halt a recent surge of migrants from Central America crossing the U.S. border.

The news, delivered in a tweet on Thursday evening, battered the peso and fueled concern about President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s reluctance to engage in foreign affairs or push back against Trump on his touchstone issue of illegal immigration.

It also raised fears that the Republican president will keep attacking Mexico as he seeks re-election next year.

In power since December, the leftist Lopez Obrador has tried to deflect Trump’s barbs, insisting that the best way to tackle migrant flows is by jointly fostering development in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, where most of the migrants apprehended on the U.S. border come from.

Trump has shown no enthusiasm for the idea.

In his day-to-day business, the 65-year-old Mexican president has stayed focused on domestic issues, pursuing a nationalist agenda of economic self-reliance and putting the brakes on foreign investment in the oil industry.

Foreign policy has been largely left in the hands of Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, who has been dispatched to Washington to persuade the Trump administration to back down.

“Lopez Obrador doesn’t want to get involved in this, but it’s impossible to avoid,” said former foreign minister Jorge Castaneda, a longstanding critic of Lopez Obrador, who says he has failed to grasp the significance of the U.S. relationship.

“Relations with the United States in Mexico are not a foreign policy issue. They are a domestic policy issue.”

Around 80 percent of Mexico’s exports are sent to the United States, whose businesses by far account for the biggest source of foreign direct investment to the country. U.S. business groups and lawmakers have said tariffs could be devastating to both countries.

Lopez Obrador told his morning news conference on Friday he believes the U.S. government will ultimately “rectify” its position. Asked if he would change the country’s migration policy to accommodate Trump’s request, he said Mexico is already tackling the problem.

Mexican officials have signaled they will respond in kind if Washington actually imposes tariffs, steps likely to target regions with high concentrations of Trump voters.

But doubts are growing in Mexico about whether Lopez Obrador has taken the wrong tack by downplaying U.S. provocations.

Agustin Basave, a former diplomat and ex-leader of the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution, said Mexico had to put cooperation on security, combating drug trafficking and migration with Washington “on the table” to stand up to Trump.

There was no point in trying to “appease” Trump because even if Mexico completely sealed its southern border with Guatemala, he would keep demanding concessions, Basave added.

Trump has said this year he will cut off U.S. aid to Central America and threatened to close the Mexico-U.S. border.

“He’ll use Mexico as a scarecrow the whole time,” Basave said. “And this will increase the closer the (U.S.) election gets.”

UNPREDICTABILITY

Mexico faces an uphill struggle to contain immigration, particularly in the wake of budget cuts to migration authorities made to fund Lopez Obrador’s flagship welfare policies.

One Mexican official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the number of people seeking to reach the United States from the rest of Latin America through Mexico is now so great that Mexico could only hope to “administer” the problem.

Hector Vasconcelos, a lawmaker from the ruling National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) who heads the Senate foreign relations committee, said Lopez Obrador was right to try to manage tensions by not reacting to Trump’s broadsides.

“It’s always been a given for me that President Trump could do anything at any moment,” Vasconcelos told Reuters, pointing to how the U.S. election process was influencing his rhetoric.

“I think we need to get used to this being President Trump’s way of governing. So I don’t think there is a way out,” he added, saying that if Mexico had taken a more combative approach to Trump, bilateral relations would today be even worse.

Among diplomats and government officials, widespread unease about Lopez Obrador’s attitude extends beyond his dealings with Trump to the international stage in general.

In March, Lopez Obrador said he had asked Spain to apologize for crimes committed during the Spanish conquest of Mexico in 1519-1521, a step one foreign diplomat from a third country described as “nuts”.

The president’s announcement this month that he wanted to ditch the so-called Merida Initiative, a framework for security cooperation with the United States, did little to cement stronger U.S.-Mexico ties.

Sergio Alcocer, a former deputy foreign minister for North America, said the Merida scheme was beneficial to Mexico because it made Washington assume co-responsibility for security matters that have helped fan bilateral tensions over the border.

“If you leave the mechanism, you lose that,” he said.

(Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Sonya Hepinstall)

Want A More Creative Brain? Here’s What The Neuroscientists Suggest

Since the early 1990s, we’ve come to develop a more thorough and accurate understanding of what a brain engaged in creative thought “looks like.” The key, it seems, is integration: the firing of strong, lateral networks, connecting a diverse range of brain pathways in both hemispheres. – Fast Company

President Putin on Africans.

"Africa will never be independent. Africans believe in Europeans, Americans and Chinese more than themselves--they don't trust themselves at all.

A white man will commit crime in Africa but no action will be taken because Africa authorities view us as semi-gods, far from the truth. A blackman can be abducted in Europe, get harrassed or even killed but no African authority will question. Africans present themselves as weak people with no hope especially when dealing with Europeans and Americans.

They are their own enemies. They hate each other and that gives their colonial masters power to continue exploiting African resources. "

Guide to the classics: Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass and the complex life of the 'poet of America'

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Amazon Debuts Echo Show 5: Smaller, Cheaper, More Private

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Hilltoppers Upset Falcons in Opening Round of the Postseason

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Opera Review: Tosca at Royal Opera House



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New Modern Warfare game promises Call of Duty crossplay on PS4, Xbox One and PC



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UK business lobby warns PM hopefuls: No-deal Brexit will cause severe damage

May 31, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – Leaving the European Union without a deal will cause severe long-term damage to Britain’s competitiveness, one of the country’s main business groups warned the 12 candidates hoping to succeed Theresa May as prime minister.

“Firms large and small are clear that leaving the EU with a deal is the best way forward,” the Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Carolyn Fairbairn wrote in a letter.

“Short-term disruption and long-term damage to British competitiveness will be severe if we leave without one.

“The vast majority of firms can never be prepared for no-deal, particularly our SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) members who cannot afford complex and costly contingency plans.”

Britain was due to leave the EU in March but that has been pushed back until Oct. 31 after lawmakers rejected May’s negotiated settlement.

A total of 12 Conservative lawmakers are seeking to take over from May with several saying they are prepared to take Britain out of the European Union without an agreement in place, which has further strained relations with firms.

“We have a clear message for the next Conservative leader and future Prime Minister. Champion business,” wrote Fairbairn.

(Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

Oil drops 1%, set for biggest monthly fall since November as trade wars spreads

May 31, 2019

By Colin Packham and Henning Gloystein

SYDNEY/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices fell by more than 1% on Friday and were on track for their biggest monthly fall since November as trade conflicts spread and U.S. crude output returned to record levels.

Front-month Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $65.97 at 0639 GMT, down by 90 cents, or 1.4%, from last session’s close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $55.92 per barrel, down 67 cents, or 1.2%, from their last settlement. WTI earlier marked its lowest since March 8 at $55.66 a barrel.

The drops mean that crude oil futures are on track for their biggest monthly loss since last November.

U.S. President Donald Trump ramped up trade tensions globally by vowing to slap tariffs on all goods from Mexico, firing up fears over economic growth and appetite for oil.

The Mexico trade dispute adds to a trade war between the United States and China, which many analysts expect to trigger a recession.

“All is not well with the economic world, at least according to bond and commodity traders,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at futures brokerage CMC Markets in Australia, wrote in a note published on Friday.

“These (price) moves signal deteriorating sentiment about the outlook for global growth,” he said.

U.S. OUTPUT BACK TO RECORD

Crude prices have also been under pressure from a much smaller-than expected decline in U.S. stockpiles and U.S. crude oil production’s return to its record 12.3 million barrels per day.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said U.S. crude stocks fell by around 300,000 barrels last week, to 476.49 million barrels.

That was much less than the 900,000-barrel decline analysts forecast in a Reuters poll and well below the 5.3 million-barrel drawdown the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported on Wednesday.

U.S. investment bank Jefferies said on Friday that Brent had been falling “on the U.S.-China trade war saga and U.S. inventory builds with this week’s draw too small to impress the market.”

Meanwhile, top oil exporter Saudi Arabia has raised production in May, a Reuters survey found, but not by enough to compensate for lower Iranian exports which collapsed after the United States tightened the screws on Tehran.

Washington will sanction any country which buys oil from Iran after the expiration of waivers on May 2, U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said on Thursday.

(Reporting by Colin Packham in SYDNEY and Henning Gloystein in SINGAPORE; Editing by Joseph Radford)

UK house price growth cools unexpectedly in May: Nationwide

May 31, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – British house price growth cooled unexpectedly in May to its slowest rate in three months, mortgage lender Nationwide said on Friday, countering other signs the housing market may be past the worst of its pre-Brexit slowdown.

House prices increased 0.6% in May compared with a year ago after rising by 0.9% in April. A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to a 1.2% rise in May.

House prices in May fell 0.2% from April, when they grew 0.3% on the month Nationwide said.

The figures looked at odds with other tenative signs that activity in housing market is gradually picking after slowing sharply through 2018.

While house prices have been rising across the country as a whole, prices in London have fallen according to various indicators, hit by unaffordable prices for many buyers, tax changes and Brexit uncertainty.

“Nationwide’s data confirm that house prices remain on an essentially flat trend, primarily because Brexit uncertainty has instilled some caution among buyers,” economist Samuel Tombs from Pantheon Macroeconomics said.

“The trend likely won’t improve in the next couple of months, given the political deadlock in Westminster.”

Mortgage lending data for April from the Bank of England, which had improved in recent months, is due at 0830 GMT.

(Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by Susan Fenton and Alison Williams)

Hungary’s Fidesz might join new grouping in European parliament: PM

May 31, 2019

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungary’s Fidesz party could join a new grouping in the European parliament if staying in the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) does not line up with national interests, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told state radio on Friday.

Fidesz was suspended from the EPP in March over Orban’s record on respect for the rule of law, freedom of the press and rights for minorities.

“We are members of the EPP right now and we will see which direction the EPP goes … whether we can influence it and whether it is in line with the interests of Hungary and the Hungarian people,” Orban said.

“If yes, then we will stay, if not, we will sit in a new formation,” he said, without saying which alternative grouping Fidesz could join.

The EPP won the EU parliamentary election but with a shrinking share of seats, which obliges it to form a coalition with at least two other groups to obtain a majority.

Orban’s move to court far-right leaders in the run-up to the European election irked mainstream allies in the EPP grouping.

Orban also told radio the Visegrad four group in the European Union — Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic — had agreed to take a common stance in selecting new EU leaders.

“We will have a unified stance in personnel issues,” he said.

Regarding a new president of the European Commission, he said he would support a candidate who was anti-immigration, had “national feelings” and was “ready to defend” Christian culture.

“We have such a candidate in mind, not just one,” Orban said, declining to give any names.

Fidesz won more than 52% of votes in Hungary in the European parliamentary election on a hardline anti-immigration platform.

(Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Edmund Blair)

Saudi Arabia says firm stand needed to deter Iran, Iraq demurs

May 31, 2019

By Marwa Rashad and Aziz El Yaakoubi

MECCA, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s King Salman told an emergency Arab summit on Friday that decisive action was needed to stop Iranian “escalations” following attacks on Gulf oil assets, as U.S. officials said a military deployment had deterred Tehran.

The right of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to defend their interests after the attacks on oil pumping stations in the kingdom and tankers off the UAE were supported in a Gulf Arab statement and a separate communique issued after the wider summit.

Tehran denies any involvement in the attacks and in a sign of regional tensions, Iraq, which has good ties with neighboring Iran and Washington, said it objected to the Arab communique, which stated that any cooperation with Tehran should be based on “non-interference in other countries”.

“The absence of a firm deterrent stance against Iranian behavior is what led to the escalation we see today,” King Salman told the two consecutive meetings late on Thursday.

The ruler of the world’s top crude exporter said Shi’ite Iran’s development of nuclear and missile capabilities and its threats on world oil supplies posed a risk to regional and global security.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that attacks on four vessels near a major bunkering hub, just outside the Strait of Hormuz, were “efforts by Iranians to raise the price of crude oil around the world.”

Riyadh accused Tehran of ordering the drone strikes. The attacks were claimed by the Iran-aligned Houthi group which has been battling a Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen for four years.

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said on Thursday that evidence of Iran being behind the tanker attacks would be presented to the U.N. Security Council as early as next week.

“The kingdom is keen to preserve the stability and security of the region, to spare it the scourge of war and to realize peace and stability,” King Salman said.

Iran, which is locked in several proxy wars with Saudi Arabia in the region, rejected what it called “baseless” accusations made at the summit, Iranian state news agency IRNA reported.

“We see the Saudi effort to mobilize (regional) opinion as part of the hopeless process followed by America and the Zionist regime (Israel) against Iran,” IRNA quoted Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi as saying.

IRAQ PLEA

Iraqi President Barham Salih, asking the gathering to support Iraq’s stability, said that rising tensions with Iran could spark a war if not managed well and voiced hope that Iran’s security would not be targeted.

Pompeo has warned Iraqi leaders that if they failed to keep in check Iran-backed militias, which now form part of Baghdad’s security apparatus, the United States would respond with force.

Tensions have risen between the United States and Iran after U.S. President Donald Trump a year ago withdrew Washington from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran, re-imposed sanctions and boosted its military presence in the Gulf.

Bolton has said that Iranian mines were “almost certainly” used in the tanker attacks. An Iranian official dismissed that as “a ludicrous claim.”

The Islamic Republic has said it would defend itself against any aggression. Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri has said Tehran was not allowed to pursue development of nuclear weapons as it was banned by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The final communique said regional stability required the establishment of an independent Palestinian state along 1967 borders to include Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

MILITARY DEPLOYMENT

U.S. special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, said on Thursday that a repositioning of U.S. military assets in the region had deterred Iran, but that the United States would respond with military force if its interests are targeted.

The United States has deployed 900 additional troops to the region and extended the stay of 600 other service members, after speeding up deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group and sending bombers and additional Patriot missiles.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told the summit it was time to renew discussions on joint Arab defense mechanisms.

The United States and the UAE, which hosts a U.S. air base, on Wednesday activated a defense cooperation agreement signed earlier this year.

Gulf states have a joint defense force under the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), but the alliance has been fractured by a boycott imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and non-GCC Egypt since mid-2017.

The Gulf communique said the six nations had discussed the GCC defense mechanism during their meeting.

Qatari Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani, whose country hosts the largest U.S. military base in the region, attended the summits, the most senior Qatari official to visit the kingdom since the embargo.

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington, Ali Abdelaty and Mohamed Elsherifin Cairo, Guy Faulconbridge in London, Lisa Barrington and Sylvia Westall in Dubai, Eric Knecht in Doha and Babak Dehghanpisheh in Geneva; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Grant McCool and Jason Neely)

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