Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc committed $10 billion on Tuesday to Occidental Petroleum Corp’s $38 billion cash-and-stock bid for Anadarko Petroleum Corp, boosting its chances of snatching a deal from Chevron Corp.
Occidental and Chevron are locked in the biggest oil-industry takeover battle in years as they eye Anadarko’s prized assets in West Texas’ huge Permian shale oil field.
Anadarko on Monday agreed to start negotiations with Occidental, saying its bid could potentially be superior to Chevron’s existing deal to buy Anadarko for $33 billion in cash and stock.
Berkshire’s cash provides Occidental with flexibility to fund and even increase its proposal. Anadarko has previously expressed reservations about the risk of Occidental having to get any deal voted through by its own shareholders. Occidental could now use the majority of the Berkshire investment to add cash to its bid and remove the requirement for a vote, if it so chooses.
The Berkshire investment, contingent on Occidental completing its proposed acquisition of Anadarko, could also repay some of the debt being taken on to finance the deal’s cash portion, or cover the $10 billion to $15 billion of proceeds from asset sales which Occidental plans in the two years after closing the acquisition.
Analysts said Buffett’s endorsement supports Occidental’s push to get the deal done but comes at a high cost.
Berkshire Hathaway will get 100,000 preferred shares and a warrant to purchase up to 80 million shares of Occidental at $62.50 apiece in a private offering, a statement from Occidental said.
The preferred stock will accrue dividends at 8 percent per annum, compared with about 5 percent yield on common equity and 4 percent on term debt, Tudor Pickering Holt analyst Matthew Portillo said.
“For Occidental shareholders, our view is this is a fairly expensive cost of financing for the transaction even though it carries a kind of nice headline of having Berkshire Hathaway participate in the potential financing here.”
It is rare for Buffett to participate in a bidding war for a company. The last time he did this was in 2016, supporting a consortium including Quicken Loans Inc founder Dan Gilbert that tried unsuccessfully to buy Yahoo Inc’s internet assets.
Shares of Occidental were down 2.1 percent at $58.89 at midday Eastern time, while those in Anadarko were down about 0.3 percent at $72.69. Chevron shares were up 2.7 percent at $120.88.
A Chevron spokesman reiterated that the San Roman, California-based company believes its “signed agreement with Anadarko provides the best value and the most certainty to Anadarko’s shareholders.”
Occidental and Chevron, two of the largest oil and gas producers in the Permian by production volumes, argue they can best squeeze more oil from Anadarko’s 240,000 acres (97,120 hectares)in the area.
The two companies control land adjacent to Anadarko’s properties and expect a deal will add deposits that can produce supplies for decades using low-cost drilling techniques.
Якщо Зеленський не зупинить захоплення Приватбанку рейдером Коломойським – це підтвердить, що він є його рабом, а 13 млн. українців – раби раба
By : ProdusUA -
Якщо Зеленський не зупинить захоплення Приватбанку рейдером Коломойським – це підтвердить, що він є його рабом, а 13 млн. українців – раби раба.
Колишня очільниця Національного банку України Валерія Гонтарева порадила новообраному президентові Володимиру Зеленському звернути увагу на потребу реформування судової системи і правоохоронних органів, щоби зберегти досягнення в очищенні й стабілізації українських фінансів та банківського сектору.
Валерія Гонтарева, яка зараз працює в Інституті глобальних справ у Лондонській школі економіки, каже, що вибрала саме британську столицю, щоб працювати порівняно близько до України і застосовувати свій досвід в авторитетній міжнародній академічній установі.
В інтерв’ю вона наголосила, що одне з її найважливіших рішень на посаді – націоналізація Приватбанку 2016 року – була необхідним кроком, який вважають правильним і підтримали провідні міжнародні фінансові установи.
Намагання одного з колишніх власників, Ігоря Коломойського, оскаржити націоналізацію в судах Валерія Гонтарева назвала «свавіллям» і «неподобством».
Вона вказала, що один з теперішніх радників новообраного президента Зеленського, колишній міністр фінансів Олександр Данилюк, знає, чому «Приватбанк» був під загрозою банкрутства і, що він також підтримав націоналізацію, щоб врятувати гроші українських вкладників.
«Приватбанк був одним з найважчих завдань, бо він був найбільшим банком України: 33% всіх депозитів населення, 20 мільйонів клієнтів, включаючи пенсіонерів студентів – це незахищене населення. Можна собі лише уявити, що могло б бути. Це був би економічний і фінансовий колапс в Україні», – наголосила Гонтарева.
За її словами проблему з націоналізацією має насамперед олігарх Ігор Коломойський, від якого український уряд домагається відшкодування близько 5 мільярдів доларів.
Коломойський оскаржує в українських судах, а також у суді в Лондоні, обвинувачення, що з банку були незаконно виведені багатомільярдні суми.
«Зараз, коли я подивлюся на те, що зі мною роблять наші правоохоронні органи, то можна сказати, що персонально я навіть шкодую, але професійно – ніколи», – розповідає Валерія Гонтарева про свою роботу головою Національного банку України.
Стан української фінансової системи на початку її праці 2014 року Гонтарева описує як «жах, колапс і перфектний шторм».
«А після того почалася ще й реальна війна, коли 15% нашого ВВП ми втратили і ще й 10% нашої території, – розповідає Гонтарева. – Один рік я не мала жодного вікенду і спала не більше п’яти годин на добу. То був жахливий час. Але у професійному відношенні для мене особисто це був великий прорив».
«Я вам можу сказати, що усі реформи за той час були здійснені. Ми перейшли на гнучкий валютний курс. Ми запровадили нову фінансову політику щодо інфляції. Ми розчистили банківський сектор. Ми реформували центральний банк у потужну інституцію», – сказала Валерія Гонтарева.
Тепер на її думку «на макроекономічному рівні усе гаразд», але Гонтарева вважає, що проблема у тому, що «в Україні немає верховенства закону, немає законів, ніхто їх не виконує».
Вона висловила застереження, хоч і не висловлювала конкретних порад новообраному президентові: «Це все (реформи) можна розвернути назад і це – найбільший виклик в Україні. Як це зробити, які пропозиції надати пану Зеленському, я не знаю, бо якщо цього не було зроблено досі, то мені важко сказати, що він може зробити на сьогодні».
Пане Зеленський і команда, Ви починаєте не з того боку! Не законом про мови потрібно зараз займатися, а не дати шахраю Коломойському пограбувати українців через корупційне захоплення Приватбанку!
Довідкове значення курсу гривні після Великодніх свят становитиме 26 гривень 49 копійок – такі дані Національного банку України. В останній робочий день перед вихідними, 26 квітня, курс становив 26 гривень 62 копійки. Таким чином, гривня зміцніє щодо долара на 13 копійок.
Встановлений НБУ курс євро становитиме 29 гривень 49 копійок за одиницю.
Читайте також: Гонтарева дала свій прогноз на курс гривні після виборів
За даними нішевого сайту «Мінфін», торги на міжбанку 26 квітня почалися з курсом 26,55 – 26,59 гривень за долар, а закрилися на позначці 26,37 – 26,42 гривні за долар.
Свого пікового значення 28 гривень 39 копійок за курсом НБУ впродовж останнього року долар сягнув 30 листопада 2018 року. На 12 березня 2019 року офіційний курс становив 26 гривень 31 копійку, це найвищий курс гривні від липня 2018 року.
Українці, не дамо злодію Коломойському знову вкрасти у нас гроші через повернення йому Приватбанку. Бєню в тюрму!
By : ProdusUA -
Міжнародний шахрай Коломойський, за яким полює ФБР, знову намагається обікрасти українців. Але ми, патріоти України, не дамо йому цього зробити. Зараз він сховав свій товстий і смердючий зад в Ізраїлі і шляхом підкупу маніпулює корумпованими українськими суддями. Пропонуємо надати йому можливість прилетіти в Україну, а тут закрити його в тюрмі назавжди і позбавити усього вкраденого! А акції Приватбанку розподілити між усіма громадянами України порівну, адже цей банк є державним, хай він стане дійсно НАРОДНИМ!
Екс-міністр економічного розвитку України в уряді Арсенія Яценюка, а нині член команди Володимира Зеленського Айварас Абромавичус каже, що західні партнери України «вкрай негативно» оцінюють ризик повернення націоналізованого «Приватбанку» колишнім власникам – Ігорю Коломойському й Геннадію Боголюбову – і якщо таке рішення буде ухвалене, воно може призвести до припинення фінансової допомоги України.
Айварас Абромавичус у штабі Зеленського розповів про загрози, пов’язані із «Приватбанком». Напередодні Окружний адмінсуд Києва ухвалив кілька рішень на користь Ігоря Коломойського, і одне з ключових – це визнання незаконною націоналізації «Приватбанку»:
«Коли є ризик повернення «Приватбанку» – і після цього, можливо, якихось інших банків – колишнім власникам, це означає, що президентство почнеться з доволі складної ситуації. Адже ні МВФ, ні Європейський союз, ні інші інститути й держави, які нам пропонують протягом останніх років фінансову допомогу, – ми на неї розраховуємо і в майбутньому, – вони, звісно, не будуть на це дивитися, склавши руки. Вони на це дивляться вкрай негативно».
Крім того, він застеріг, що рішення про повернення «Приватбанку» колишнім власникам – у разі, якщо воно буде ухвалене – може спричинити припинення фінансової допомоги України.
– Які можуть бути негативні наслідки?
– Наслідки – такі, що, через дії шахрая Коломойського, припиниться фінансова підтримка України.
У грудні 2016 року уряд України за пропозицією Нацбанку й акціонерів «Приватбанку», найбільшими з яких на той час були Ігор Коломойський і Геннадій Боголюбов, ухвалив рішення про націоналізацію цієї найбільшої на українському ринку фінустанови.
Банк перейшов у державну власність, на його докапіталізацію загалом держава витратила понад 155 мільярдів гривень. Як заявили в НБУ, до націоналізації «Приватбанку» завдали збитків щонайменше на 5,5 мільярдів доларів.
18 квітня цього року Окружний адміністративний суд Києва визнав незаконною націоналізацію «Приватбанку». Наступного дня цей суд скасував рішення НБУ від 13 грудня 2016 року, який визначив перелік пов’язаних з банком фізичних і юридичних осіб. 20 квітня Печерський суд Києва ухвалив рішення про розірвання договору особистої поруки бізнесмена Ігоря Коломойського по кредитах рефінансування «Приватбанку» на суму в 9,2 мільярда гривень, отриманих до його націоналізації. Згодом стало відомо, що Ігор Коломойський 19 квітня подав п’ять нових позовів до НБУ та «Приватбанку».
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he hopes to makes “substantial progress” in trade talks with China, as the world’s two largest economies try to reach a resolution to their trade war.
Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are leading a U.S. delegation meeting with Chinese officials this week in Beijing.
Next week, Chinese officials will travel to Washington for another round of talks.
Washington and Beijing have held several rounds of talks this year to resolve a trade war that began in 2018 when President Donald Trump imposed punitive tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports. He has been trying to compel Beijing to change its trade practices. China retaliated with tariff increases on $110 billion of U.S. exports.your ad here
Their iconic blue-colored planters and grain cars are recognizable on many farms across the United States. They are also easily spotted in large displays, some stacked one on top of the other, in front of Kinze’s manufacturing hub along Interstate 80, where, inside buildings sprawling across a campus situated among Iowa’s corn and soybeans fields, the company’s employees work with one key component.
“Steel is the lifeblood of Kinze,” says Richard Dix, a company senior director. “We’re a factory that’s essentially a weld house. We cut, burn, form, shape, cut, paint steel.”
WATCH: Kane Farabaugh’s video report
Steel now costs more, the result of a 25 percent tariff on the material imported from most countries, including China.
“When there is a tariff on steel it cuts rights to the core of our fundamental product construction,” says Dix.
In March of 2018, President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on aluminum and steel, with the goal of boosting U.S. production and related employment.
While there has been a modest benefit to the domestic steel industry, Dix says increased costs are negatively impacting smaller manufacturing companies like Kinze.
“We see the bills that come in from our suppliers are higher based on those tariffs,” Dix explains. “Not just in steel but also in a lot of the electronics, rubber commodities and other agricultural parts we buy from China as well. Those tariffs take their effect on our cost structure, on the profitability for the family, through our employees, and now to our dealers and on to our customers.”
Those customers are mostly U.S. farmers who use some of Kinze’s products to put soybean and corn seeds into the ground. Soybean exports in particular are now subject to retaliatory tariffs imposed by the Chinese, one of the biggest export markets for U.S. farmers, which has sunk commodity prices and contributed to another year of overall declining income for U.S. farmers.
That means many are less likely to purchase the products Kinze makes.
“The market is substantially down,” says Dix. “The farmers don’t have that level of security they need to go out into the dealerships and buy that equipment. We get a one-two punch. We pay more for the product that comes into us and therefore on to the customer, and then we have a reciprocal situation where we can’t export what was advantageous to us.”
These are some of the concerns Dix explained to Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst, who participated in a roundtable discussion at Kinze along with farmers and others in Iowa impacted by tariffs. It was part of a “Tariffs Hurt the Heartland” event hosted by Kinze, and organized by the group Americans for Free Trade along with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.
Ernst says the personal stories she gathers from these meetings go a long way in helping President Donald Trump understand the impact on her constituents.
“He has a very different negotiating style,” she told VOA. “He wants to start with the worst possible scenario, and negotiate his way to a good and fair trade deal, but again sharing those stories is very important and yes it does have an impact. I think the president does listen.”
Ernst says she is encouraged by news from the Trump administration on developments in negotiations that lead her to believe the trade dispute with China, and the related tariffs, could end soon.
“When I last spoke to [U.S. Trade Representative] Robert Lighthizer, he had indicated that the deal with China is largely done, it’s just figuring out the enforcement mechanism, and that is what the United States and China are really bartering over right now.”
But Kinze’s Richard Dix says one year under tariffs has already taken a toll on the company’s operations.
“We’re not really that big, so we can say that this impact has been a seven-figure impact for us in the last year, and that’s a substantial amount of money.”
It’s an amount that Dix says, so far, hasn’t been passed on to Kinze’s customers, or the employees.
“We have not actually had any direct layoffs that are attributable to this tariff situation, but we’re all tightening our belts.”
On a sunny, breezy spring day, a group of children, four to seven-years-old, sit on their bikes, helmets and gloves on, ready to start their biking lesson. Their moms, standing nearby, watch them closely, feeling proud that their little ones are learning how to ride.
Instructor Rachel Van is also excited about making biking a part of their lives. She still remembers how she felt, riding a bike for the first time. It was an amazing “I can” moment. Now, her job is helping other kids to experience that moment.
“It’s probably the biggest confidence booster. It gives kids such a sense of independence and agency,” she says.
Basics of biking
Rachel Van quit her job as a salesperson in the bicycle industry last year, to become a certified cycling instructor. She founded Pedal Power Kids to teach bicycle education.
Before hitting the road, she has the group review the basics of the bike maintenance, what she calls “the ABC quick check.”
“A” is for air, she explains. “We have to check our tires before we ride. B is for brakes. We want to make sure our brakes work before we find ourselves on the top of the hill about to go down. And C is for chain. We want to make sure that our chain doesn’t have any junk in it.”
They also work on biking skills, from balance and pedaling to turning, starting and stopping.
And they need to learn and remember some basic rules. The first one is eyes up and forward.
“A lot of kids struggle with their eyes on the ground, looking for their pedals, but obviously that doesn’t allow them to see what’s going on around them, and it also doesn’t allow them to turn properly,” Van says.
That’s because watching where you’re going helps you steer.
“Sometimes people think that you turn your bike using the handle bar. You see little kids going like this, steering,” she says as she demonstrates, turning the handle bar back and forth, “and they fall over. But we really turn by leaning. So, when we look, then our body leans and then our bike leans.”
Biking changes lives
Being able to ride a bike opens a whole new world to children. It gives them a sense of accomplishment and freedom. They become more aware of their surroundings, learning to make safe, smart decisions going from one place to another.
Van’s goal is to get more kids on two wheels. That, she says, will help make the world a better place. “That’s really a great way for kids to be active and develop healthy habits,” Van says. “It helps reduce pollution and just keep families and communities connected.”
Since starting Pedal Power Kids last year, Van has helped around 250 new riders. An active community network of satisfied mothers is her best advertiser.
“Moms are pretty magic,” Van says. “If the mom is happy with something, if [having their child learn to ride] made their lives a bit easier, then they tell their friends. So my business has grown almost entirely through word of mouth.”
Julia Roeling is part of the moms’ network. She says biking is a great activity for their kids to be outside and not to stay home playing video games all the day. But since she had neither the time nor comfort level to teach her kids how to ride, she enrolled two of her three kids in Van’s bicycling class.
“They love working with Rachel,” she says. “She knows what to say to motivate them. Now, they can do it safely. And they know how to get around the community and stop at the stop signs and be together on their bikes.”
The kids in the classes are happy and excited about their biking experiences. They name their bikes and take pride in being able to do the bike maintenance themselves. They have fun biking with their friends.
Having fun is important to teach these kids a sport that will keep them active for life. As Van observes, “We probably wouldn’t be playing lacrosse when we are 75 or 89, but we certainly can be riding a bike!”
One big concern about autonomous vehicles is that logical computers sometimes have trouble dealing with a messy world. To the point, a pedestrian was struck and killed by an autonomous vehicle in Arizona last year. But new algorithms are trying to solve that potentially deadly problem. VOA’s Kevin Enochs reports.
The CEO of Boeing defended the company’s safety record and declined to take any more than partial blame for two deadly crashes of its best-selling plane even while saying Monday that the company has nearly finished an update that “will make the airplane even safer.”
Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg took reporters’ questions for the first time since accidents involving the Boeing 737 Max in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people and plunged Boeing into its deepest crisis in years.
Muilenburg said that Boeing followed the same design and certification process it has always used to build safe planes, and he denied that the Max was rushed to market.
“As in most accidents, there are a chain of events that occurred,” he said, referring to the Lion Air crash on Oct. 29 and the March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Max. “It’s not correct to attribute that to any single item.”
The CEO said Boeing provided steps that should be taken in response to problems like those encountered by pilots of the planes that crashed. “In some cases those procedures were not completely followed,” he said.
The news conference, held after Boeing’s annual meeting in Chicago, came as new questions have arisen around the Max, which has been grounded worldwide since mid-March.
Brief press conference
Southwest Airlines said over the weekend that Boeing did not disclose that a feature on the 737 — an indicator to warn pilots about the kind of sensor failures that occurred in both accidents — was turned off on the Max. Southwest said it found out only after the first crash of the Lion Air Max. Boeing said the feature only worked if airlines bought a related one that’s optional, and in any case the plane could fly safely without it.
Separately, published reports said that federal regulators and congressional investigators are examining safety allegations relating to the Max that were raised by about a dozen purported whistleblowers.
The Boeing event occurred on the same day that the Federal Aviation Administration convened a week-long meeting in Seattle of aviation regulators from around the world to review the FAA’s certification of MCAS, a key flight-control system on the Max.
A spokesman said the FAA will share its technical knowledge with other regulators, but their approval is not needed before the plane resumes flying in the U.S.
Boeing has conceded that in both accidents, MCAS was triggered by faulty readings from a single sensor and pushed the planes’ noses down. Pilots were unable to control the planes although the Ethiopian Airlines crew followed some of the steps that Boeing recommended to recover.
Muilenburg told shareholders that Boeing is close to completing an upgrade to flight software on the Max “that will ensure accidents like these never happen again.”
In the brief news conference that followed, Muilenburg took six questions from reporters, including whether he will resign — he has no intention of doing that — and left as reporters persisted, including one who pointed to the deaths of 346 people and urged the CEO to take more questions.
Besides the software update, Boeing will present the FAA with a plan for training pilots on changes to MCAS. The company is pushing for training that can be done on tablet computers and, if airlines want to offer it, additional time in flight simulators when pilots are due for periodic retraining.
A requirement for training in simulators would further delay the return of the Max because of relatively small number of flight simulators.
Union requests training
The union for American Airlines pilots wants mandatory additional training including, at a minimum, video demonstrations showing pilots how to respond to failures of systems on the plane. Dennis Tajer, a 737 pilot and union spokesman, said Boeing and the FAA must require more training rather than leaving the option to airlines.
“Not every pilot that goes out there and flies is a Boeing test pilot,” Tajer said. “If something happens anywhere in the world, it affects all of us.”
During the one-hour annual meeting, shareholders elected all 13 company-backed board nominees, including newcomer Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor who lobbied for a Boeing plant there, and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Several shareholder resolutions were defeated, including one to name an independent chairman whenever possible instead of letting the CEO hold both jobs. It got 34% support.
A chairman-CEO “is not always a bad thing, but at times of crisis it’s hardly ever a good idea,” said Matt Brubaker, CEO of business-strategy consultant FMG Leading, who was not involved in the debate. “The place they are in now, they need the scrutiny of an inwardly focused CEO to drive change.”
Muilenburg opened Monday’s meeting with a moment of silence for victims of the two crashes. Later that day, lawyers for two Canadian families who lost relatives in the Ethiopian Airlines crash filed the latest in a growing number of lawsuits against Boeing, claiming the plane maker was negligent about safety.
Hiral Vaidya, whose in-laws and four other family members died in the crash, said there were no remains left to cremate.
“We have no closure, we have no peace, we have no answer,” she said, fighting back tears.
Brazil’s indigenous women have been overturning tradition to step into the spotlight and lead an international push to defend their tribal land rights, which are up against the greatest threat they have faced in years under right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro.
Brazil’s 850,000 indigenous peoples live on reservations that make up 13 percent of the territory. Bolsonaro has said they live in poverty and he wants to assimilate them by allowing development of their vast lands, currently protected by law.
The tribal leaders are fighting back — in many cases, led by women. Traditionally, indigenous cultures excluded women from leadership roles that were played by male tribal chieftains.
But that is changing, said Joenia Wapichana, who last year became the first indigenous woman elected to Brazil’s Congress and has been seeking to block Bolsonaro’s attempts to dismantle the indigenous affairs agency Funai.
“Women have advanced a lot and today there are many taking up frontline positions in the defense of indigenous rights,” said Wapichana, 45, a lawyer who was also the first indigenous woman to argue a case before Brazil’s Supreme Court.
Brazil’s top indigenous leader is Sonia Guajajara, who warned at a forum at the United Nations last Tuesday that Bolsonaro’s plans to open up reservations to mining and agriculture could devastate the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, which scientists say is nature’s best defense against global warming.
The next day she was back in Brasilia leading a rally of 4,000 indigenous people representing Brazil’s 305 tribes, protesting Bolsonaro’s move to put reservation land decisions under the agriculture ministry that is headed by farming interests.
“Invasions of indigenous lands have increased since Bolsonaro took office January 1 and that is due to the hate and violence in his speeches against us,” Guajajara said in an interview last week.
Speaking at a news conference, Guajajara, 45, recalled how in 1998 Bolsonaro, then a congressman, said in a newspaper interview that it was a shame the Brazilian cavalry hadn’t been “as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated the Indians.”
Last year, Bolsonaro told reporters that anthropologists had kept native Brazilians “like animals in a zoo” and they should be allowed to benefit from agriculture and mining, charging royalties. Some indigenous people support his plan to allow commercial farming on reservations, although the majority back Guajajara.
With Bolsonaro set on weakening environmental and indigenous protections and a strong farm lobby holding sway in Congress, Wapichana said her tribe decided it was time to get involved in federal politics. They collectively decided to choose her as the candidate and funded her campaign, she said.
She said her goal was at least to preserve those rights currently guaranteed by law.
“It will be hard to advance with this government that is controlled by agribusiness and the farm lobby. What they wanted was to weaken Funai so it can no longer protect us,” she said.
Rather than waiting for someone else to represent them, indigenous women were taking a stand in a way they had not before and joining together across the Amazon, said Leila Salazar-Lopez, president of Amazon Watch, a U.S.-based non-profit that works to stop deforestation and advance indigenous rights in the Amazon Basin.
“It is amazing that the women are stepping up,” she said.
VOA Mandarin service reporter Lin Feng also contributed to this report.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Washington’s decision to end Iran oil waivers to China will not have a negative impact on the latest trade talks between the world’s two leading economies.
“We have had lots of talks with China about this issue. I’m confident that the trade talks will continue and run their natural course,” Pompeo told an audience in Washington on Monday.
China is Iran’s largest oil buyer.
Pompeo added the U.S. would ensure the global oil markets are adequately supplied.
Last Monday, the United States announced it was ending waivers on sanctions to countries that import Iranian oil, including China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey. Since the sanctions were reintroduced, Italy, Greece and Taiwan have halted their Iranian oil imports.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Beijing on Tuesday, for the latest round of negotiations. The two sides will discuss intellectual property, forced technology transfer, non-tariff barriers, agriculture, and other issues.
Vice Premier Liu will then lead a Chinese delegation to Washington for additional talks on May 8.
Washington and Beijing have held several rounds this year to resolve a trade war that began in 2018 when President Donald Trump imposed punitive tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports. He has been trying to compel Beijing to change its trade practices. China retaliated with tariff increases on $110 billion of U.S. exports.
The U.S. and China have struck a positive tone ahead of this week’s talks in Beijing, aimed at ending the trade war, as both countries work toward an agreement.
“We’re doing well on trade, we’re doing well with China,” President Trump told reporters last week.
In Beijing, Chinese officials said that “tangible progress” has been achieved.
“Both sides are also maintaining communication. We believe that both sides’ trade delegations can work together, meet each other halfway and work hard to reach a mutually beneficial agreement,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said last week.
As the United States and China appear close to reaching a negotiated settlement over trade disputes, a group of American business and retailers has called for a “full and immediate removal of all added tariffs” on Chinese goods in a deal, saying anything less would be a “loss for the American people.”
Business groups from “Americans for Free Trade” have asked the Trump administration to “fully eliminate tariffs” on Chinese goods, saying tariffs are taxes that American businesses and consumers pay.
“Americans have paid over $21 billion in taxes due to the imposition of new tariffs,” said a letter to President Trump April 22.
Some experts say the administration lacks confidence in China’s enforcement of a trade deal, and predict some punitive tariffs are likely to remain.
“I cannot imagine China accepting a deal where all the tariffs stay in place. I don’t see how [Chinese President] Xi Jinping can take that to his people. There has to be something for China. On the other hand, I guess I will be surprised if the U.S. removed all of the tariffs because clearly, the USTR team would like to keep at least some of them in place,” David Dollar, Brookings Institution’s senior fellow, told VOA Mandarin.
“The smart thing would be to remove the tariffs on all of the parts and components, and perhaps on some consumer goods. It seems likely to get that compromise,” he added.
Російський газовий монополіст «Газпром» повідомив нові подробиці дій «Нафтогазу України» в намаганні арештувати активи російської компанії на виконання рішення Стокгольмського арбітражу, за яким «Газпром» має сплатити українській компанії понад 2 з половиною мільярди доларів із відсотками.
Як мовиться в новому фінансовому звіті «Газпрому», ще 15 лютого «Нафтогаз» направив до підрозділів найбільших банків у Люксембурзі і до люксембурзької компанії «Газ Капітал», що є «дочкою» монополіста, сповіщення про арешт будь-якої заборгованості і активів «Газпрому» в цій країні: 15 квітня російський монополіст оскаржив цей арешт у суді міста Люксембурга.
Про те, що «Нафтогаз» почав процес виконання рішення арбітражу шляхом стягнення боргу «Газпрому» і в Люксембурзі, обидві сторони раніше згадували лише побіжно.
На цей час українська компанія веде такі процеси також у Нідерландах, Великій Британії, Швейцарії і США і заявляє, що найближчим часом можливі такі процеси і в інших країнах, також триває пошук активів «Газпрому» в інших юрисдикціях.
У грудні 2017 року і лютому 2018 року Стокгольмський арбітраж виніс рішення у спорах «Нафтогазу» і «Газпрому» про постачання газу в Україну і його транзит через українську територію, в підсумку зобов’язавши російську компанію виплатити українській 2,56 мільярда доларів, із нарахуванням відсотків за прострочену виплату. «Газпром» ці рішення оскаржив, але оскарження не зупиняє права «Нафтогазу» домагатися виконання рішення арбітражу.
The International Monetary Fund is forecasting Iran’s economy to shrink by 6% this year as it faces pressure from U.S. sanctions.
In a report released Monday, the IMF said its estimates for Iran, which include the potential for inflation to top 40%, predate a U.S. decision to end waivers that have allowed some Iranian oil buyers to continue making their purchases despite new sanctions that went into effect last year.
The Trump administration is due to formally end the waivers on Thursday for some of Iran’s top crude purchasers, including China, India, Japan, Turkey and South Korea.
The United States says it wants to deprive Iran of $50 billion in annual oil revenues to pressure it to end its nuclear and missile programs. The White House says it is working with top oil exporters Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to ensure an adequate world oil supply.
Turkey and China have attacked the U.S. action, but it is not clear whether they will continue to buy Iranian oil.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said an interview broadcast on the U.S. cable show Fox News Sunday accused the United States of trying to “bring Iran to its knees” and overthrow its government by seeking to thwart its international oil trade.
He said U.S. officials are “wrong in their analysis. They are wrong in their hope and illusions.”
Zarif said the fact that Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 international agreement to curtail Iran’s nuclear program “would not put the U.S. in the good list of law-abiding nations.” Iran state media reported that Zarif told Iranian reporters in New York that Tehran’s withdrawal from the pact is one of “many options” it is considering in the wake of the U.S. end to the waivers on sanctions for countries buying oil from Iran.
Zarif said a team of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, and leaders in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is trying to push U.S. President Donald Trump “into a confrontation he doesn’t want.”
“They have tried to bring the U.S. into a war,” Zarif said, with the goal, “at least,” of Iranian regime change.
Bolton, appearing on the same Fox News program, said the U.S. goal is not regime change, but a change in behavior, specifically an end to Iran’s nuclear weapons program and ballistic missile testing.
“The Iranian people deserve a better government,” Bolton said.
He called Zarif’s accusations “completely ridiculous, an effort to sow disinformation.”
A few months after he turned 17 — and more than two years before he was arrested — Vincent Vetromile recast himself as an online revolutionary.
Offline, in this suburb of Rochester, New York, Vetromile was finishing requirements for promotion to Eagle Scout in a troop that met at a local church. He enrolled at Monroe Community College, taking classes to become a heating and air conditioning technician. On weekends, he spent hours in the driveway with his father, a Navy veteran, working on cars.
On social media, though, the teenager spoke in world-worn tones about the need to “reclaim our nation at any cost.” Eventually he subbed out the grinning selfie in his Twitter profile, replacing it with the image of a colonial militiaman shouldering an AR-15 rifle. And he traded his name for a handle: “Standing on the Edge.”
That edge became apparent in Vetromile’s posts, including many interactions over the last two years with accounts that praised the Confederacy, warned of looming gun confiscation and declared Muslims to be a threat.
In 2016, he sent the first of more than 70 replies to tweets from a fiery account with 140,000 followers, run by a man billing himself as Donald Trump’s biggest Canadian supporter. The final exchange came late last year.
“Islamic Take Over Has Begun: Muslim No-Go Zones Are Springing Up Across America. Lock and load America!” the Canadian tweeted on December 12, with a video and a map highlighting nine states with Muslim enclaves.
“The places listed are too vague,” Vetromile replied. “If there were specific locations like ‘north of X street in the town of Y, in the state of Z’ we could go there and do something about it.”
Weeks later, police arrested Vetromile and three friends, charging them with plotting to attack a Muslim settlement in rural New York. And with extremism on the rise across the U.S., this town of neatly kept Cape Cods confronted difficult questions about ideology and young people — and technology’s role in bringing them together.
The reality of the plot Vetromile and his friends are charged with hatching is, in some ways, both less and more than what was feared when they were arrested in January.
Prosecutors say there is no indication that the four — Vetromile, 19; Brian Colaneri, 20; Andrew Crysel, 18; and a 16-year-old The Associated Press isn’t naming because of his age — had set an imminent or specific date for an attack. Reports they had an arsenal of 23 guns are misleading; the weapons belonged to parents or other relatives.
Prosecutors allege the four discussed using those guns, along with explosive devices investigators say were made by the 16-year-old, in an attack on the community of Islamberg.
Residents of the settlement in Delaware County, New York — mostly African-American Muslims who relocated from Brooklyn in the 1980s — have been harassed for years by right-wing activists who have called it a terrorist training camp. A Tennessee man, Robert Doggart , was convicted in 2017 of plotting to burn down Islamberg’s mosque and other buildings.
But there are few clues so far to explain how four with little experience beyond their high school years might have come up with the idea to attack the community. All have pleaded not guilty, and several defense attorneys, back in court Friday, are arguing there was no plan to actually carry out any attack, chalking it up to talk among buddies. Lawyers for the four did not return calls, and parents or other relatives declined interviews.
“I don’t know where the exposure came from, if they were exposed to it from other kids at school, through social media,” said Matthew Schwartz, the Monroe County assistant district attorney prosecuting the case. “I have no idea if their parents subscribe to any of these ideologies.”
Well beyond upstate New York, the spread of extremist ideology online has sparked growing concern. Google and Facebook executives went before the House Judiciary Committee this month to answer questions about their platforms’ role in feeding hate crime and white nationalism. Twitter announced new rules last fall prohibiting the use of “dehumanizing language” that risks “normalizing serious violence.”
But experts said the problem goes beyond language, pointing to algorithms used by search engines and social media platforms to prioritize content and spotlight likeminded accounts.
“Once you indicate an inclination, the machine learns,” said Jessie Daniels, a professor of sociology at New York’s Hunter College who studies the online contagion of alt-right ideology. “That’s exactly what’s happening on all these platforms … and it just sends some people down a terrible rabbit hole.”
She and others point to Dylann Roof, who in 2015 murdered nine worshippers at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. In writings found afterward, Roof recalled how his interest in the shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin had prompted a Google search for the term “black on white crime.” The first site the search engine pointed him to was run by a racist group promoting the idea that such crime is common, and as he learned more, Roof wrote, that eventually drove his decision to attack the congregation.
In the Rochester-area case, electronic messages between two of those arrested, seen by the AP, along with papers filed in the case suggest doubts divided the group.
“I honestly see him being a terrorist,” one of those arrested, Crysel, told his friend Colaneri in an exchange last December on Discord, a messaging platform popular with gamers that has also gained notoriety for its embrace by some followers of the alt-right.
“He also has a very odd obsession with pipe bombs,” Colaneri replied. “Like it’s borderline creepy.”
It is not clear from the message fragment seen which of the others they were referencing. What is clear, though, is the long thread of frustration in Vetromile’s online posts — and the way those posts link him to an enduring conspiracy theory.
A few years ago, Vetromile’s posts on Twitter and Instagram touched on subjects like video games and English class.
He made the honor roll as an 11th-grader but sometime thereafter was suspended and never returned, according to former classmates and others. The school district, citing federal law on student records, declined to provide details.
Ron Gerth, who lives across the street from the family, recalled Vetromile as a boy roaming the neighborhood with a friend, pitching residents on a leaf-raking service: “Just a normal, everyday kid wanting to make some money, and he figured a way to do it.” More recently, Gerth said, Vetromile seemed shy and withdrawn, never uttering more than a word or two if greeted on the street.
Vetromile and suspect Andrew Crysel earned the rank of Eagle in Boy Scout Troop 240, where the 16-year-old was also a member. None ever warranted concern, said Steve Tyler, an adult leader.
“Every kid’s going to have their own sort of geekiness,” Tyler said, “but nothing that would ever be considered a trigger or a warning sign that would make us feel unsafe.”
Crysel and the fourth suspect, Colaneri, have been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a milder form of autism, their families have said. Friends described Colaneri as socially awkward and largely disinterested in politics. “He asked, if we’re going to build a wall around the Gulf of Mexico, how are people going to go to the beach?” said Rachael Lee, the aunt of Colaneri’s girlfriend.
Vetromile attended community college with Colaneri before dropping out in 2017. By then, he was fully engaged in online conversations about immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, gun rights and Trump. Over time, his statements became increasingly militant.
“We need a revolution now!” he tweeted in January, replying to a thread warning of a coming “war” over gun ownership.
Vetromile directed some of his strongest statements at Muslims. Tweets from the Canadian account, belonging to one Mike Allen, seemed to push that button.
In July 2017, Allen tweeted “Somali Muslims take over Tennessee town and force absolute HELL on terrified Christians.” Vetromile replied: ”@realDonaldTrump please do something about this!”
A few months later, Allen tweeted: “Czech politicians vote to let citizens carry guns, shoot Muslim terrorists on sight.” Vetromile’s response: “We need this here!”
Allen’s posts netted hundreds of replies a day, and there’s no sign he read Vetromile’s responses. But others did, including the young man’s reply to the December post about Muslim “no-go zones.”
That tweet included a video interview with Martin Mawyer, whose Christian Action Network made a 2009 documentary alleging that Islamberg and other settlements were terrorist training camps. Mawyer linked the settlements, which follow the teachings of a controversial Pakistani cleric, to a group called Jamaat al-Fuqra that drew scrutiny from law enforcement in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1993, Colorado prosecutors won convictions of four al-Fuqra members in a racketeering case that included charges of fraud, arson and murder.
Police and analysts have repeatedly said Islamberg does not threaten violence. Nevertheless, the allegations of Mawyer’s group continue to circulate widely online and in conservative media.
Replying to questions by email, Mawyer said his organization has used only legal means to try to shut down the operator of the settlements.
“Vigilante violence is always the wrong way to solve social or personal problems,” he said. “Christian Action Network had no role, whatsoever, in inciting any plots.”
Online, though, Vetromile reacted with consternation to the video of Mawyer: “But this video just says ‘upstate NY and California’ and that’s too big of an area to search for terrorists,” he wrote.
Other followers replied with suggestions. “Doesn’t the video state Red House, Virginia as the place?” one asked. Virginia was too far, Vetromile replied, particularly since the map with the tweet showed an enclave in his own state.
When another follower offered a suggestion, Vetromile signed off: “Eh worth a look. Thanks.”
The exchange ended without a word from the Canadian account, whose tweet started it.
Three months before the December exchange on Twitter, the four suspects started using a Discord channel dubbed ”#leaders-only” to discuss weapons and how they would use them in an attack, prosecutors allege. Vetromile set up the channel, one of the defense attorneys contends, but prosecutors say they don’t consider any one of the four a leader.
In November, the conversation expanded to a second channel: ”#militia-soldiers-wanted.”
At some point last fall the 16-year-old made a grenade — “on a whim to satisfy his own curiosity,” his lawyer said in a court filing that claims the teen never told the other suspects. That filing also contends the boy told Vetromile that forming a militia was “stupid.”
But other court records contradict those assertions. Another teen, who is not among the accused, told prosecutors that the 16-year-old showed him what looked like a pipe bomb last fall and then said that Vetromile had asked for prototypes. “Let me show you what Vinnie gave me,” the young suspect allegedly said during another conversation, before leaving the room and returning with black explosive powder.
In January, the 16-year-old was in the school cafeteria when he showed a photo to a classmate of one of his fellow suspects, wearing some kind of tactical vest. He made a comment like, “He looks like the next school shooter, doesn’t he?” according to Greece Police Chief Patrick Phelan. The other student reported the incident, and questioning by police led to the arrests and charges of conspiracy to commit terrorism.
The allegations have jarred a region where political differences are the norm. Rochester, roughly half white and half black and other minorities, votes heavily Democratic. Neighboring Greece, which is 87 percent white, leans conservative. Town officials went to the Supreme Court to win a 2014 ruling allowing them to start public meetings with a chaplain’s prayer.
The arrests dismayed Bob Lonsberry, a conservative talk radio host in Rochester, who said he checked Twitter to confirm Vetromile didn’t follow his feed. But looking at the accounts Vetromile did follow convinced him that politics on social media had crossed a dangerous line.
“The people up here, even the hillbillies like me, we would go down with our guns and stand outside the front gate of Islamberg to protect them,” Lonsberry said. “It’s an aberration. But … aberrations, like a cancer, pop up for a reason.”
Online, it can be hard to know what is true and who is real. Mike Allen, though, is no bot.
“He seems addicted to getting followers,” said Allen’s adult son, Chris, when told about the arrest of one of the thousands attuned to his father’s Twitter feed. Allen himself called back a few days later, leaving a brief message with no return number.
But a few weeks ago, Allen welcomed in a reporter who knocked on the door of his home, located less than an hour from the Peace Bridge linking upstate New York to Ontario, Canada.
“I really don’t believe in regulation of the free marketplace of ideas,” said Allen, a retired real estate executive, explaining his approach to social media. “If somebody wants to put bulls— on Facebook or Twitter, it’s no worse than me selling a bad hamburger, you know what I mean? Buyer beware.”
Sinking back in a white leather armchair, Allen, 69, talked about his longtime passion for politics. After a liver transplant stole much of his stamina a few years ago, he filled downtime by tweeting about subjects like interest rates.
When Trump announced his candidacy for president in 2015, in a speech memorable for labeling many Mexican immigrants as criminals, Allen said he was determined to help get the billionaire elected. He began posting voraciously, usually finding material on conservative blogs and Facebook feeds and crafting posts to stir reaction.
Soon his account was gaining up to 4,000 followers a week.
Allen said he had hoped to monetize his feed somehow. But suspicions that Twitter “shadow-banning” was capping gains in followers made him consider closing the account. That was before he was shown some of his tweets and the replies they drew from Vetromile — and told the 19-year-old was among the suspects charged with plotting to attack Islamberg.
“And they got caught? Good,” Allen said. “We’re not supposed to go around shooting people we don’t like. That’s why we have video games.”
Allen’s own likes and dislikes are complicated. He said he strongly opposes taking in refugees for humanitarian reasons, arguing only immigrants with needed skills be admitted. He also recounted befriending a Muslim engineer in Pakistan through a physics blog and urging him to move to Canada.
Shown one of his tweets from last year — claiming Czech officials had urged people to shoot Muslims — Allen shook his head.
“That’s not a good tweet,” he said quietly. “It’s inciting.”
Allen said he rarely read replies to his posts — and never noticed Vetromile’s.
“If I’d have seen anybody talking violence, I would have banned them,” he said.
He turned to his wife, Kim, preparing dinner across the kitchen counter. Maybe he should stop tweeting, he told her. But couldn’t he continue until Trump was reelected?
“We have a saying, ‘Oh, it must be true, I read it on the internet,’” Allen said, before showing his visitor out. “The internet is phony. It’s not there. Only kids live in it and old guys, you know what I mean? People with time on their hands.”
The next day, Allen shut down his account, and the long narrative he spun all but vanished.your ad here
Local governments often try to solve problems using old technology. A U.S. Senate bill aims to fund small tech teams to help state and municipal governments update and rebuild government systems. Deana Mitchell takes a look at the impact on one program that is serving the needy.