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Trump's Economic, Tax & Spending Plans

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The Trump Admin. Muzzles Nuclear Weapons Safety Watchdog
RT America


Published on Sep 7, 2018
RT Correspondent Brigida Santos discusses why a new DOE order that could be used to withhold information from a federal nuclear safety board and prevent the board from overseeing worker safety at nuclear facilities appears to violate longstanding provisions in the U.S. Atomic Energy Act.

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Trump Administration Discussed Coup Plans With Rebel Venezuelan Officers

NYT
By ERNESTO LONDOÑO and NICHOLAS CASEY
7 hrs ago



The Trump administration held secret meetings with rebellious military officers from Venezuela over the last year to discuss their plans to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro, according to American officials and a former Venezuelan military commander who participated in the talks.

Establishing a clandestine channel with coup plotters in Venezuela was a big gamble for Washington, given its long history of covert intervention across Latin America. Many in the region still deeply resent the United States for backing previous rebellions, coups and plots in countries like Cuba, Nicaragua, BrazilandChile, and for turning a blind eye to the abuses military regimes committed during the Cold War.

The White House, which declined to answer detailed questions about the talks, said in a statement that it was important to engage in “dialogue with all Venezuelans who demonstrate a desire for democracy” in order to “bring positive change to a country that has suffered so much under Maduro.”

But one of the Venezuelan military commanders involved in the secret talks was hardly an ideal figure to help restore democracy: He is on the American government’s own sanctions list of corrupt officials in Venezuela.

He and other members of the Venezuelan security apparatus have been accused by Washington of a wide range of serious crimes, including torturing critics, jailing hundreds of political prisoners, wounding thousands of civilians, trafficking drugs and collaborating with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States.

American officials eventually decided not to help the plotters, and the coup plans stalled. But the Trump administration’s willingness to meet several times with mutinous officers intent on toppling a president in the hemisphere could backfire politically.

Most Latin American leaders agree that Venezuela’s president, Mr. Maduro, is an increasingly authoritarian ruler who has effectively ruined his country’s economy, leading to extreme shortages of food and medicine. The collapse has set off an exodus of desperate Venezuelans who are spilling over borders, overwhelming their neighbors.

Even so, Mr. Maduro has long justified his grip on Venezuela by claiming that Washington imperialists are actively trying to depose him, and the secret talks could provide him with ammunition to chip away at the region’s nearly united stance against him.

“This is going to land like a bomb” in the region, said Mari Carmen Aponte, who served as the top diplomat overseeing Latin American affairs in the final months of the Obama administration.

Beyond the coup plot, Mr. Maduro’s government has already fended off several small-scale attacks, including salvos from a helicopter last year and exploding drones as he gave a speech in August. The attacks have added to the sense that the president is vulnerable.

Venezuelan military officials sought direct access to the American government during Barack Obama’s presidency, only to be rebuffed, officials said.

Then in August of last year, President Trump declared that the United States had a “military option” for Venezuela — a declaration that drew condemnation from American allies in the region but encouraged rebellious Venezuelan military officers to reach out to Washington once again.

“It was the commander in chief saying this now,” the former Venezuelan commander on the sanctions list said in an interview, speaking on condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisals by the Venezuelan government. “I’m not going to doubt it when this was the messenger.”

In a series of covert meetings abroad, which began last fall and continued this year, the military officers told the American government that they represented a few hundred members of the armed forces who had soured on Mr. Maduro’s authoritarianism.

The officers asked the United States to supply them with encrypted radios, citing the need to communicate securely, as they developed a plan to install a transitional government to run the country until elections could be held.

American officials did not provide material support, and the plans unraveled after a recent crackdown that led to the arrest of dozens of the plotters.

Relations between the United States and Venezuela have been strained for years. The two have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010. After Mr. Trump took office, his administration increased sanctions against top Venezuelan officials, including Mr. Maduro himself, his vice president and other top officials in the government.

The account of the clandestine meetings and the policy debates preceding them is drawn from interviews with 11 current and former American officials, as well as the former Venezuelan commander. He said at least three distinct groups within the Venezuelan military had been plotting against the Maduro government.

One established contact with the American government by approaching the United States Embassy in a European capital. When this was reported back to Washington, officials at the White House were intrigued but apprehensive. They worried that the meeting request could be a ploy to surreptitiously record an American official appearing to conspire against the Venezuelan government, officials said.

But as the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela worsened last year, American officials felt that having a clearer picture of the plans and the men who aspired to oust Mr. Maduro was worth the risk.

“After a lot of discussion, we agreed we should listen to what they had to say,” said a senior administration official who was not authorized to speak about the secret talks.

The administration initially considered dispatching Juan Cruz, a veteran Central Intelligence Agency official who recently stepped down as the White House’s top Latin America policymaker. But White House lawyers said it would be more prudent to send a career diplomat instead.

The American envoy was instructed to attend the meetings “purely on listening mode,” and was not authorized to negotiate anything of substance on the spot, according to the senior administration official.

After the first meeting, which took place in the fall of 2017, the diplomat reported that the Venezuelans didn’t appear to have a detailed plan and had showed up at the encounter hoping the Americans would offer guidance or ideas, officials said.

The former Venezuelan commander said that the rebellious officers never asked for an American military intervention. “I never agreed, nor did they propose, to do a joint operation,” he said.

He claimed that he and his comrades considered striking last summer, when the government suspended the powers of the legislature and installed a new national assembly loyal to Mr. Maduro. But he said they aborted the plan, fearing it would lead to bloodshed.

They later planned to take power in March, the former officer said, but that plan leaked. Finally, the dissidents looked to the May 20 election, during which Mr. Maduro was re-elected, as a new target date. But again, word got out and the plotters held their fire.

It is unclear how many of these details the coup planners shared with the Americans. But there is no indication that Mr. Maduro knew the mutinous officers were talking to the Americans at all.

For any of the plots to have worked, the former commander said, he and his comrades believed they needed to detain Mr. Maduro and other top government figures simultaneously. To do that, he added, the rebel officers needed a way to communicate securely. They made their request during their second meeting with the American diplomat, which took place last year.

The American diplomat relayed the request to Washington, where senior officials turned it down, American officials said.

“We were frustrated,” said the former Venezuelan commander. “There was a lack of follow-through. They left me waiting.”

The American diplomat then met the coup plotters a third time early this year, but the discussions did not result in a promise of material aid or even a clear signal that Washington endorsed the rebels’ plans, according to the Venezuelan commander and several American officials.

Still, the Venezuelan plotters could view the meetings as tacit approval of their plans, argued Peter Kornbluh, a historian at the National Security Archive at George Washington University.

“The United States always has an interest in gathering intelligence on potential changes of leadership in governments,” Mr. Kornbluh said. “But the mere presence of a U.S. official at such a meeting would likely be perceived as encouragement.”

In its statement, the White House called the situation in Venezuela “a threat to regional security and democracy” and said that the Trump administration would continue to strengthen a coalition of “like-minded, and right-minded, partners from Europe to Asia to the Americas to pressure the Maduro regime to restore democracy in Venezuela.”

American officials have openly discussed the possibility that Venezuela’s military could take action.

On Feb. 1, Rex W. Tillerson, who was secretary of state at the time, delivered a speech in which he said the United States had not “advocated for regime change or removal of President Maduro.” Yet, responding to a question afterward, Mr. Tillerson raised the potential for a military coup.

“When things are so bad that the military leadership realizes that it just can’t serve the citizens anymore, they will manage a peaceful transition,” he said.

Days later, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who has sought to shape the Trump administration’s approach toward Latin America, wrote a series of Twitter posts that encouraged dissident members of the Venezuelan armed forces to topple their commander in chief.

“Soldiers eat out of garbage cans & their families go hungry in Venezuela while Maduro & friends live like kings & block humanitarian aid,” Mr. Rubio wrote. He then added: “The world would support the Armed Forces in #Venezuela if they decide to protect the people & restore democracy by removing a dictator.”

In a speech in April, when he was still White House policy chief for Latin America, Mr. Cruz issued a message to the Venezuelan military. Referring to Mr. Maduro as a “madman,” Mr. Cruz said all Venezuelans should “urge the military to respect the oath they took to perform their functions. Honor your oath.”

As the crisis in Venezuela worsened in recent years, American officials debated the pros and cons of opening lines of dialogue with rebellious factions of the military.

“There were differences of opinion,” said Ms. Aponte, the former top Latin America diplomat under Mr. Obama. “There were people who had a lot of faith in the idea that they could bring about stability, help distribute food, work on practical stuff.”

But others — including Ms. Aponte — saw considerable risk in building bridges with leaders of a military that, in Washington’s assessment, has become a pillar of the cocaine trade and human rights abuses.

Roberta Jacobson, a former ambassador to Mexico who preceded Ms. Aponte as the top State Department official for Latin America policy, said that while Washington has long regarded the Venezuelan military as “widely corrupt, deeply involved in narcotics trafficking and very unsavory,” she saw merit in establishing a back channel with some of them.

“Given the broader breakdown in institutions in Venezuela, there was a feeling that — while they were not necessarily the answer — any kind of democratic resolution would have had to have the military on board,” said Ms. Jacobson, who retired from the State Department this year. “The idea of hearing from actors in those places, no matter how unsavory they may be, is integral to diplomacy.”

But whatever the rationale, holding discussions with coup plotters could set off alarms in a region with a list of infamous interventions: the Central Intelligence Agency’s failed Bay of Pigs invasion to overthrow Fidel Castro as leader of Cuba in 1961; the American-supported coup in Chile in 1973, which led to the long military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet; and the Reagan administration’s covert support of right-wing rebels known as the contras in Nicaragua in the 1980s.

In Venezuela, a coup in 2002 briefly deposed Mr. Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chávez. The United States knew a plot was being hatched but warned against it, according to a classified document that was later made public. The coup took place anyway and the George W. Bush administration opened a channel to the new leader. Officials then backed away from the new government after popular anger rose against the coup and countries in the region loudly denounced it. Mr. Chávez was reinstated as president.

In the latest coup plot, the number of military figures connected to the plan dwindled from a high of about 300 to 400 last year to about half that after a crackdown this year by Mr. Maduro’s government.

The former Venezuelan military officer worries that the 150 or so comrades who have been detained are probably being tortured. He lamented that the United States did not supply the mutineers with radios, which he believes could have changed the country’s history.

“I’m disappointed,” he said. “But I’m the least affected. I’m not a prisoner.”

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world...bel-venezuelan-officers/ar-BBN1QgL?ocid=ientp
 

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House Republicans target more tax cuts as elections near

Reuters
By David Morgan
2 hrs ago

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives plan to unveil another round of tax cuts this week, hoping to draw a sharp contrast between themselves and Democrats ahead of the Nov. 6 congressional elections.

Republican lawmakers and strategists say a new tax debate should amplify the party's upbeat economic message, touting a report by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation that forecast the creation of 1.5 million jobs and wage increases if individual tax cuts in last year's tax reform bill were made permanent.

"Anytime we're talking about tax cuts and the growing economy, we're winning," said Matt Gorman, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the party's main campaign support for House Republican candidates.

But experts say House Republican leaders could have trouble mustering the 216 votes needed to pass the measure, given the prospect of widening the federal budget deficit already swollen by a round of tax cuts in December.

And some Republicans from Democratic-leaning states worry that constituents already dislike December's cap on the federal deduction for state and local tax payments, known as SALT.

"Adding another several hundred billion dollars to the deficit is something that I think some Republicans are going to really think hard about," said John Gimigliano, who heads federal tax legislative and regulatory services at the audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG LLP.

"Passage is not automatic," he added.

A dozen House Republicans opposed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act last December. All but one were from the high-tax Democratic states of New York, New Jersey and California.

If successful in the House, the legislation would not likely be taken up in the Senate soon, though experts believe provisions on retirement savings and tax assistance for start-up companies could find bipartisan support eventually.

Dubbed "Tax Reform 2.0", the House package is intended to augment President Donald Trump's 2017 tax overhaul, which added $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit by providing permanent tax cuts for U.S. corporations, but only temporary individual tax cuts that are set to expire after 2025.

Republicans insist Trump's tax overhaul and actions to deregulate industry are boosting the economy. But that has been undercut on the campaign trail by worries about Trump's policy on trade tariffs and a lack of evidence that tax cuts have delivered promised pay increases to workers.

Democrats, who opposed last year's bill, have also cast Republican tax cuts as a giveaway to big corporations and the rich that will lead to cuts in Social Security and Medicare, claims that Republicans deny.

The new legislation would add another $576 billion to the deficit, even taking potentially higher economic growth into account, the Tax Foundation said.

That number could rise if Republicans made an estimated $1.1 trillion in individual tax cuts permanent, but scaled back or eliminated the SALT deduction cap, which is a revenue raiser.

"If this were likely to be enacted in the near term, those numbers would be difficult to square," said David Noren, a tax partner with the law firm McDermott, Will & Emery.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, the 2.0 package's main author, plans to unveil draft language for three bills early in the week and put it to a committee-level vote on Thursday, with a full House vote following by Oct 1.

Aside from making individual tax cuts permanent, Republicans say the legislation will including savings provisions intended to help small businesses offer 401(k) retirement plans, allow 529 education savings plans to pay for apprenticeships and provide access to retirement savings for costs related to births and adoptions.

Republicans say the legislation will also seek to encourage start-up businesses by allowing them to write off more start-up costs and add investors without limiting tax benefits, such as research and development credits.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Bill Berkrot)

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/polit...-cuts-as-elections-near/ar-BBN7ie4?ocid=ientp
 

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China Vows Retaliation if US Approves More Tariffs
RT America


Published on Sep 10, 2018
As the economy is on everyone’s mind, President Trump says leaders of several countries have contacted him to discuss new trade deals. RT America’s Manila Chan reports. For analysis, RT America’s Scottie Nell Hughes is joined by Boom Bust, Bart Chilton.
 

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Stock Futures Drop As China Asks WTO To Approve US Trade Sanctions


by Tyler Durden
Tue, 09/11/2018 - 05:17

"Shape up" indeed...

Just weeks after China filed a complaint with the WTO over the US's Section 201 tariffs on solar panel imports (which Trump imposed back in January, months before the US-China trade spat began in earnest), China is apparently turning up the pressure. According to a Reuters report, China will ask the WTO during a meeting next week for permission to impose sanctions against the US after accusing it of noncompliance with a 2013 anti-dumping ruling. Reuters, which cited a WTO meeting agenda as its source for the news, said China is alleging that the US failed to modify anti-dumping methodologies to comply with the 2013 ruling.



The news sent US equity futures tumbling early Monday morning...
  • *CHINA TO ASK WTO TO AUTHORIZE TRADE SANCTIONS ON U.S: RTRS
  • *CHINA REQUEST FOR SANCTIONS RELATES TO '13 DUMPING DISPUTE:RTRS
Here's more from Bloomberg:
  • On Sept. 21, China will ask the WTO dispute settlement body to sanction trade retaliation against the U.S. for its failure to comply with a 2017 dispute ruling that found certain aspects of the U.S. anti-dumping regime to be illegal
  • China previously claimed that it could ask the WTO to approve $8.4 billion in annual retaliatory trade measures against the U.S. stemming from the case
  • This year a WTO arbitrator determined that the U.S. must comply with the 2017 ruling by Aug. 22
  • The U.S. acknowledged on Aug. 27 that it had not fully complied with the ruling and said it “continued to consult with interested parties on options to address the recommendations” of the dispute settlement body
The request will likely lead to years of legal wrangling, per Reuters.

The request is likely to lead to years of legal wrangling over the case for sanctions and the amount. Last year China won a WTO ruling in the dispute, which related to several industries including machinery and electronics, light industry, metals and minerals, with an annual export value of up to $8.4 billion.​
As one analyst pointed out, this is likely a strategic decision on China's part given that it doesn't have as much leverage to impose tariffs on US imports because of its massive trade surplus with the US.

"I guess they are trying to pursue other avenues to hit back and this is one of them. Certainly something that will trigger some nervousness in markets should they actually go through with it once the US announces those tariffs. For now, they're still "playing by the rules" and going through the WTO so let's see how things will develop from here," said Justin Low at ForexLive.​
Meanwhile, in remarks that appear to cut against the aggressive posturing on trade, the head of China’s market regulator said on Tuesday that a trade war would not benefit China or the US - and that tensions could only be resolved via "dialogue and negotiation," according to a separate Reuters report.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018...rop-china-asks-wto-approve-us-trade-sanctions
 

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China Halts Licenses For US Companies Amid Tariff Battle


by Tyler Durden
Tue, 09/11/2018 - 10:21


As the tariff battle between Washington and Beijing worsens, China has halted license applications from American companies in financial services and other industries until progress is made towards settling the trade dispute, reports AP, citing an official belonging to a business group.



The disclosure marks the first public acknowledgement that US companies expect their operations in China, or access to China's markets, may be disrupted by the dispute over Beijing's technology policy.

China is running out of American imports for penalties in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's tariff hikes, which has prompted worries that Chinese regulators might target operations of U.S. companies.​

The license delay applies to industries Beijing has promised to open to foreign competitors, according to Jacob Parker, vice president for China operations of the U.S.-China Business Council. The group represents some 200 American companies that do business with China. -CNBC

In meetings held over the last three weeks, Cabinet-level officials told USCBC reps that applications from US firms will be put off "until the trajectory of the US-China relationship improves and stabilizes," according to Parker.

Chinese officials, meanwhile, have promised to increase non-US foreign access to several areas, including banking, insurance, securities and asset management.

"There seem to be domestic political pressures that are working against the perception of U.S. companies receiving benefits" amid the dispute, said Parker, who added that Chinese officials want an end to Trump's tariff hikes as well as a negotiated settlement.

Beijing matched Trump's earlier tariff increase on $50 billion of imports but is running out of American goods for retaliation due to their lopsided trade balance. China bought American goods worth about $1 for every $3 of goods it exported to the United States.​

Trump is poised to decide whether to raise duties on $200 billion of Chinese goods. Beijing has issued a $60 billion list of goods for retaliation. -CNBC
Foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shueng, said Monday that China is planning to "definitely take countermeasures" if Trump goes ahead with the hike.

Industries in the crosshairs include those tied to engineering or logistics, in which the US has a trade surplus with China. Chinese commentators, meanwhile, think that Beijing may leverage its multitrillion-dollar holdings of US government debt against the US - however that would impose costs on China.

In June, Beijing said that it would impose "comprehensive measures" if necessary, without specifying what those may consist of.

Chinese business leaders have also rejected Trump's demand that China roll back their "Made in China 2025" initiative, which calls for the state-led emergence of robotics, AI and other technologies.

Washington, Europe and other trading partners say those plans violate Beijing's market-opening commitments. But Communist leaders see them as a path to prosperity and global influence.​
Chinese negotiators agreed in May to narrow their multibillion-dollar trade surplus with the United States by purchasing more American soybeans and other products. Beijing scrapped that deal after Trump's first tariff increase went ahead July 6. -CNBC

Meanwhile, the Trump administration wants Beijing to reduce the privileges of state-owned companies, and get rid of requirements that foreign companies hand over technology to Chinese partners. That said, Chinese officials in meetings with the USCBS suggested that they would be open to buying more American exports, but "showed no appetite at all" for industry reform, changes to their technology polic or any other US priorities, according to Parker.

"I don't consider that to be very positive for any kind of negotiated outcome in the short term or medium term," he said.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-09-11/china-halts-licenses-us-companies-amid-tariff-battle
 

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US Tariff Battle With China Hits New Low Point
RT America


Published on Sep 11, 2018
Amid a worsening tariff battle, China is putting off accepting license applications from American companies in financial service and other industries. China said the ban on US license will remain in place until Washington makes progress toward a settlement of their current trade and technology disputes. The disclosure is the first public confirmation of fears Us companies have that their operations in China and access to its markets will be disrupted by the battle over Beijing’s technology policy. China has vowed to continue the fight saying that will make moves to hurt the US even if it comes at the expense of China. RT’s Manila Chan reports.
 

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Trump's Homeland Security Department shifted nearly $10 million from FEMA to ICE for detention programs

  • A new document shows $9.8 million was transferred from FEMA to ICE
  • Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley claims the money came from FEMA's fund to pay for disaster relief
  • But FEMA says the money came from the agency's 'routine operating expenses'
  • '$10 million comes out of FEMA when we're facing a hurricane season knowing what's happened last year,' Merkley said on MSNBC
  • The documents surfaced just as Hurricane Florence is bearing down on the American coast
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...y-10-million-FEMA-ICE-detention-programs.html
 

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Trade War: US Extends China an Olive Branch
RT America


Published on Sep 12, 2018
The United States has extended another invitation to the Chinese Trade Delegation to join senior officials, such as Trade Secretary Steve Mnuchin in Washington for another round of trade talks. Some are reading this as a major gesture in the trump administration's efforts to ease tensions. RT America’s Manila Chan reports.
 

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Trump economic adviser drops a moab on Obama’s economic policies during WH presser. President’s Council of Economic Advisers, Kevin Hassett, stepped to the podium dropping news that the left-wing press won’t like to report. Kevin Hassett explains: "Many Obama policies were very NEGATIVE for growth...To say Obama destroyed the economy, well, um, that’s not what the CEA Chair should be doing” Later @02:27 Kevin Hassett unveiled a series of charts that show a surge in corporate investment, blue-collar jobs, business startups and small-business optimism after the election two years ago. The U.S. economy is booming and the Trump White House once again says Americans have the 2016 election to thank.
 

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‘Vague & ambiguous’: Trump signs executive order against foreigners who meddle in US elections
RT


Published on Sep 13, 2018
President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that will slap sanctions on foreign companies or people who interfere in US elections.

READ MORE: https://on.rt.com/9e75
 

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Trump Said to Want $200 Billion in China Tariffs Despite Talks
September 14, 2018 by Bloomberg


FILE PHOTO: Shipping containers are seen stacked at the Dachan Bay Terminals in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China July 12, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

By Jennifer Jacobs, Saleha Mohsin and Jenny Leonard (Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump instructed aides on Thursday to proceed with tariffs on about $200 billion more in Chinese products despite his Treasury secretary’s attempt to restart talks with Beijing to resolve the trade war, according to four people familiar with the matter.

But an announcement of the new round of tariffs has been delayed as the administration considers revisions based on concerns raised in public comments, the people said. Trump may be running low on products he can target without significant backlash from major U.S. companies and consumers, two of the people said.

The threat of fresh tariffs roiled financial markets. U.S. stocks erased gains, dropping to session lows, while the dollar strengthened versus the Chinese offshore yuan by the most in two weeks. Technology shares led declines, with Apple Inc. falling as much as 1.7 percent. The iPhone maker last week warned that new tariffs could increase the cost of its products.

The White House didn’t immediately comment.

Trump met with his top trade advisers on Thursday to discuss the China tariffs, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the people said. Mnuchin has led a recent overture to the Chinese to re-start trade talks.

Trump was asked during the meeting whether he was concerned about the impact of the new tariffs on negotiations with China. He responded that he wasn’t, two of the people said.

The public comment period for a list of tariffs on about $200 billion in Chinese goods closed last week, and Trump said the duties would be imposed “soon.” The new round would be in addition to $50 billion in Chinese goods that already face a 25 percent duty.

The Chinese have retaliated with tariffs on an equivalent amount of U.S. exports, and have promised to match future rounds of U.S. duties.

Before his meeting on Thursday, which didn’t appear on his public calendar, Trump boasted on Twitter that he has the upper hand in the trade feud with Beijing and feels “no pressure” to resolve the dispute.

His comment tempered cautious optimism among investors over the U.S. government’s proposal for another round of talks with Beijing.

Disclosure on Wednesday that the U.S. sought to renew the talks rallied U.S. stocks and emerging-market assets.

Third Round
Trump threatened a third tranche of tariffs on another $267 billion of Chinese imports last week, which would mean levying duties on nearly everything China exports to the U.S. Trump said at the time those tariffs were “ready to go on short notice,” but the administration hasn’t yet published a list for public comment.

It has become tricky to find additional products for duties that won’t more obviously impact American consumers, according to two people. There was no decision made during Thursday’s meeting regarding when to issue the $267 billion round.

Apple said last week the $200 billion round of tariffs could hit some of its most popular goods such as the Apple Watch and AirPods headphones. Retailers such as WalMart Inc. and Target Corp. risk being swept up in an escalating trade war if further tariffs hit a broad range of consumer goods, from TVs to sneakers.

Efforts to end the trade dispute have fizzled so far. Officials from both countries have met four times for formal talks, most recently in August, when Treasury’s undersecretary for international affairs, David Malpass, led discussions in Washington with Chinese Vice Minister Wang Shouwen.

The White House has sought to pressure Beijing to reduce its trade surplus with America and protect intellectual property rights of U.S. companies, which it says are abused in China.

© 2018 Bloomberg L.P

https://gcaptain.com/trump-said-to-want-200-billion-in-china-tariffs-despite-talks/
 

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Panel: Trade Tensions May Complicate Delicate Security Environment in Indo-Pacific
By: John Grady
September 13, 2018 5:19 PM


Washington’s simmering trade war with and tariffs against China are creating some unintended consequences for the U.S. military and its relationships with partners in the Pacific, a panel said today.

Speaking Thursday at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C., Yuki Tatsumi, co-director of the East Asia Program at the Stimson Center, said President Donald Trump’s imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum and threats to impose them on automobiles have made Japan and China “kind of strange bedfellows” when it comes to dealing with the United States on economic issues – whereas, in the defense world, Japan would typically stand with the United States in seeking to push back against China’s military aggression.

So far, it hasn’t translated into closer military cooperation between Tokyo and Beijing beyond seeking some “confidence-building steps” to avoid miscalculations in sea or air incidents.

On trade overall and expanding economies, she added that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen are pursuing a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” They are trying to keep the idea of the Trans Pacific Partnership alive as a counter to China’s One Belt/One Road Initiative, but the United states withdrew from the partnership at the start of the Trump Administration.

Daniel Kliman, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, said China and the United States are competing “to set the terms for the 21st century” in the region, both economically and militarily.

Right now, “virtually no nation [but Cambodia] wants China’s view to prevail,” he said, with China looking at the Indo-Pacific region as its own sphere of influence. “The stakes are very high,” he added.

And Beijing has taken advantage of the Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the regional trade partnership and its imposition of tariffs, and has approached Japan and India with a “we’re all in the same boat here” position to shore up its idea of a sphere of influence.

A key element to that strategy is China’s One Belt/One Road initiative of building highways, ports, bridges and dams across Asia and into Europe and Africa, but there have been some bumps in that highway recently that caught Beijing’s attention.

Brian Harding, deputy director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said China learned a lesson recently in trying to push itself on a now-unwilling partner. With a change in government, Malaysia canceled billions of dollars in future infrastructure projects with Beijing, saying the terms were too much in China’s favor and endangered its economic independence.

With that as background, the Chinese leadership “is recalibrating when things go wrong” and are now seeking “on-the-ground intelligence” before investing in risky projects. This had not been the practice in the recent past.

Kliman added that, although Japan and India have been approached in this charm offensive to work together with China on building infrastructure in the region and investing in its development bank, “they are not willing to endorse” the Belt and Road plan.

On the defense side, there has been a lot of continuity between the Trump and Obama administration. Examples cited by the panel included helping to professionalize and modernize the armed services and police forces in Southeast Asia, exercising jointly with Australia and Japan, maintaining forces in South Korea and a naval presence Singapore, and exploring training opportunities in humanitarian and disaster relief with Taiwan.

In Japan, while there have been doubts since 2000 about the United States’ staying power in the Pacific, Tatsumi said the Abe administration is downplaying President Donald Trump’s tweets on security arrangements and alliances “but paying attention to what Secretary [James] Mattis says” about regional security.

With the exception of “backsliding” on the part of the Philippines when it comes to military exercises and training, American allies like Japan, Australia and South Korea are in agreement that, on the trade side of security, they are asking the same question, Kliman said: “How do you mitigate China’s investment in your technology sector?”

Further complicating the situation in the Pacific, as China tries to expand its influence, is that Russia does not want to be outdone by China, Kliman said in answer to an audience question. As a major nuclear power, Moscow “does not want to become a junior partner” to China there.

Russia has taken to showing off its strength in the region through bolstering its arms export business to nations such as Indonesia and Vietnam, where it is the largest supplier. Moscow is also courting the Philippines to buy arms from it rather than the United States.

Although the U.S. and India recently signed a major security agreement and agreed to joint exercises in India for the first time, India “is more and more having to choose between the U.S. and Russia” when it comes to buying sophisticated military hardware, Kliman said. Russia is also the largest arms supplier to India.

India, Indonesia and Vietnam all are working on the administration to exempt them from sanctions for trading with Russia.

https://news.usni.org/2018/09/13/pa...omplicate-delicate-security-environment-there
 

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White House reaches out to China with an iron fist
Illuminati Silver


Published on Sep 17, 2018
http://illuminatisilver.com

White House reaches out to China with an iron fist

Today is Monday 17th September 2018 and we are commenting on the USA outreach to China today.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said today at the Economic Club of New York that The United States is ready to negotiate a trade deal with China whenever Beijing is prepared for serious talks that will reduce tariffs and eliminate non-tariff trade barriers. He stated:

“We are ready to negotiate and talk with China any time that they are ready for serious and substantive negotiations toward free trade to reduce tariffs and non-tariff barriers, to open markets, to allow the most competitive economy in the world, ours, to export more and more goods and services to China,”

This follows the announcement on Saturday by Administration officials that President Donald Trump was likely to announce the new tariffs on about $200 billion of Chinese imports as early as today.

The upcoming tariffs will be on a list of items that included internet technology products and other electronics, printed circuit boards and consumer goods, including Chinese seafood, furniture and lighting products, tires, chemicals, plastics, bicycles and car seats for babies.

The ramifications from Saturday, and further endorsed today, caused a fall in the dollar index to 94.49 almost half a point and a consequent increase in the price of gold and silver. Gold is currently up $8 to $1201 and silver is up 12 cents to $14.19.

Traders are worried about a deteriorating trade war with China, but it’s the Whitehouse’s view that such a strong approach is necessary to force concessions by China.

This concern was re-iterated by Heenam Choi, CEO of the Korea Investment Corporation. He stated over the weekend “Economic problems in emerging markets and the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China could increase the risk of the next financial crisis.” Now whilst we are not ready to go there as yet, we should not under-estimate the adverse economic effect that should this situation escalate further without an early resolution.

If gold fails to stay above $1200 and silver above $14.20 then we are confident that prices will reverse towards the end of this week and into the start of next week. However, if this situation deteriorates then we could have witnessed the bottom of this market. We don’t believe that we have, however, it would be remiss of us at least not to point out that possibility. We shall see how the markets respond to these ‘hardball’ tactics and for how long they remain sustainable.
 

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Trump Slaps Tariffs On $200BN In China Imports; Will Add Another $267BN If China Retaliates


by Tyler Durden
Tue, 09/18/2018 - 05:10


With traders waiting with bated breath for hours, moments ago the White House announced that it has imposed tariffs on approximately $200 billion worth of imports from China, effective September 24.

The tariffs will start at 10% until the end of the year, but in an unexpected twist, are set to rise to 25% on January 1, 2019, in what is worse case scenario than what the market had been pricing in, namely a 10% rate indefinitely.

Trump also warns that if China takes any retaliatory action "against US farmers or other industries", the US will immediately pursue "phase three", and impose an additional $267 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports.

The statement notes that while the US has given China "every opportunity to treat us more fairly", so far China "has been unwilling to change its practices."

Trump concludes by saying that it is his duty "to protect the interests of working men and women, farmers, ranchers, businesses, and our country itself. My Administration will not remain idle when those interests are under attack. China has had many opportunities to fully address our concerns. Once again, I urge China's leaders to take swift action to end their country's unfair trade practices."

Separately, the USTR announced that it has removed about 300 product categories from the tariff list and has cut some subsets of products, but the total value remains "approximately $200 billion", and - as we showed earlier - a substantial portion of the imports targeted this time are consumer goods, which means that the pain to the US household bottom line is about to get real.



Meanwhile, these are the states that will be most impacted by the new tariffs (chart via Bloomberg):


Full statement below:


And text:
Today, following seven weeks of public notice, hearings, and extensive opportunities for comment, I directed the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to proceed with placing additional tariffs on roughly $200 billion of imports from China. The tariffs will take effect on September 24, 2018 and be set at a level of 10 percent until the end of the year. On January 1 the tariffs will rise to 25 percent. Further, if China takes retaliatory action against our fanners or other industries, we will immediately pursue phase three, which is tariffs on approximately $267 billion of additional imports.​

We are taking this action today as a result of the Section 301 process that the USTR has been leading for more than 12 months. After a thorough study, the USTR concluded that China is engaged in numerous unfair policies and practices relating to United States technology and intellectual property — such as forcing United States companies to transfer technology to Chinese counterparts. These practices plainly constitute a grave threat to the long-term health and prosperity of the United States economy.​

For months, we have urged China to change these unfair practices, and give fair and reciprocal treatment to American companies. We have been very clear about the type of changes that need to be made, and we have given China every opportunity to treat us more fairly. But, so far, China has been unwilling to change its practices. To counter China's unfair practices, on June 15, I announced that the United States would impose tariffs of 25 percent on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports. China, however, still refuses to change its practices — and indeed recently imposed new tariffs in an effort to hurt the United States economy.​

As President, it is my duty to protect the interests of working men and women, farmers, ranchers, businesses, and our country itself. My Administration will not remain idle when those interests are under attack. China has had many opportunities to fully address our concerns. Once again, I urge China's leaders to take swift action to end their country's unfair trade practices. Hopefully, this trade situation will be resolved, in the end, by myself and President Xi of China, for whom I have great respect and affection.​

In response to the news, US equity futures dropped...


... as did the Chinese yuan.


And now we wait China's response which may well be greater than the $60BN in tariffs on US goods that it warned previously it would retaliate with automatically.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018...china-imports-will-add-another-267bn-if-china
 

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We'll call it 'Fort Trump!' President says he's considering a permanent American base in Poland after NATO ally offers to put $2 billion toward it and name it after him

  • Polish President Andrzej Duda is appealing to President Trump's well known affection for slapping his name on buildings
  • He is offering to name a permanent U.S. base in Poland after his counterpart
  • Duda is also offering to pay $2 billion towards construction
  • Trump said he is 'very seriously' considering a greater troop presence
  • Trump raised his eyebrow after Duda pitched the idea
  • He also vented about 'defending immensely wealthy countries and they're not paying for the defense'
  • Trump repeatedly goes after NATO allies like Germany for paying what he calls 'dues' by meeting spending commitments

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...nsidering-permanent-American-base-Poland.html
 

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In Latest Trade-War Escalation, China Will Cut Tariffs On Imported Goods


by Tyler Durden
Thu, 09/20/2018 - 06:04


As we've pointed out in the past, one of China's biggest disadvantages in the burgeoning trade war with the US is its yawning trade surplus, which constrains its ability to impose retaliatory tariffs on US goods (which explains China's latest tariff threat). With this in mind, China's leaders are being forced to find alternative ways to strike back at the US that, while not directly targeting imports, can be just as damaging. And one dauy after China's Premier promised once again to "never" (or rather, never again) devalue the Yuan, Bloomberg reported Thursday that China is planning to lower imports on goods from other countries, thereby making US goods less competitive in the domestic Chinese market. The import cuts will reportedly take effect in October.

The decision effectively kills two birds with one stone: It disadvantages US producers and allows China to boast about its progress in liberalizing its markets.

China is planning to cut the average tariff rates on imports from the majority of its trading partners as soon as next month, two people familiar with the matter said, in a move that will lower costs for consumers as a trade war with the U.S. deepens.​
Premier Li Keqiang said Wednesday that China would further reduce the tariffs, without elaborating. The two people who spoke on the new reduction asked not to be named as the matter isn’t public yet.​
By cutting duties on goods even as it retaliates against President Donald Trump’s trade war with higher charges on some U.S. goods, China is following through on long-stated goals to boost imports. The move comes as the nation is trying to stimulate domestic consumption to support a slowing economy, and follows similar cuts to tariffs in July on a wide range of consumer goods.​
The 'significance' of this gesture wasn't lost on analysts, who immediately praised the decision.

"By further cutting import taxes, China is sending a message that it will keep opening up and reform no matter how the trade war goes. It’s more like a commitment to both domestic and international audience. It’s a gesture," said Tommy Xie, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd in Singapore.​

Another analyst praised the decision as a "clever" tactic for fighting back against the US because it will aide China's efforts to transition to a more service-based economy by granting consumers' access to cheaper goods. Beijing, as Reuters points out, has also pledged to increase imports regardless of what happens with the trade war. What's more, cheaper imports will help offset inflationary pressures triggered by LNG tariffs and other levies on energy products from the US.

"The timing of the cut would suggest the tariff tool now is being used as a tactic in the trade war, taking into account both domestic and international considerations," said Bloomberg economist Chang Shu.​

Another factor that is equally important, particularly as China continues its push to leverage the WTO against the US, is that the cuts comport with WTO most-favored-nation rules. China’s average tariff under MFN is 9.8%.

China surpassed the US as the world's largest trading nation back in 2013, and in 2017, the world's second-largest economy imported roughly $1.84 trillion in goods.


Source: Statista

And while South Korea and Japan are the two largest suppliers of Chinese imports, the US still ranks third.



The announcement followed an editorial published Wednesday in the People's Daily declaring that China would use the trade war as an opportunity "to replace imports, promote localisation and accelerate the development of high-tech products".

The import cuts are expected to do just that. But while investors are largely focused on China's publicly threatened retaliation, the country is now finding other, quieter means of exerting pressure on the US, like - perhaps - hinting at the "nuclear option." As Tuesday's TIC data revealed, China sold off more Treasuries in July, sending its holdings to six month lows.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018...alation-china-will-cut-tariffs-imported-goods
 

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Tariffs War: Trump Open to Talk with China
RT America


Published on Sep 19, 2018
After imposing a 10 percent tariff on 200 billion dollars’ worth of Chinese imports and threatening to increase the rate next year, President Trump is now saying that he is open to talks with China. RT America’s Rachel Blevins has the latest.
 

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The Chinese Initiative That’s Driving U.S. Trade War
RT America


Published on Sep 20, 2018
Anya Parampil brings an update on the latest round of tariffs announces by the Trump Administration this week as well as China’s response. Then she explains why China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative is a threat to traditional U.S and European economic domination. Finally she asks ANSWER Coalition National Coordinator, Brian Becker, to break down the implications of “One Belt, One Road” for the developing world.
 

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From toilet roll to handbags: Walmart, Target and Apple warn of price hikes on hundreds of everyday items following Trump's newest tariff on $200billion of Chinese imports

  • China added $60billion of US products to its tariff list this week
  • The move was in retaliation to the Trump administration's planned levies on $200billion-worth of Chinese imports, going into effect Monday
  • A spokesperson for Walmart listed a wide range of goods that may soon receive price hikes in a September 6 letter to the US Trade Representative
  • More than a dozen other retailers have also condemned Trump's tariffs
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6194845/U-S-companies-react-impact-Trump-trade-tariffs.html
 

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From toilet roll to handbags: Walmart, Target and Apple warn of price hikes on hundreds of everyday items following Trump's newest tariff on $200billion of Chinese imports

  • China added $60billion of US products to its tariff list this week
  • The move was in retaliation to the Trump administration's planned levies on $200billion-worth of Chinese imports, going into effect Monday
  • A spokesperson for Walmart listed a wide range of goods that may soon receive price hikes in a September 6 letter to the US Trade Representative
  • More than a dozen other retailers have also condemned Trump's tariffs
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6194845/U-S-companies-react-impact-Trump-trade-tariffs.html
Oh well. Less products bought from China.
 

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Trump set to double down on his commitment to 'America First' when he speaks at the United Nations on Tuesday

  • Trump is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday
  • President will deliver remarks that are expected to rattle friend and foe alike
  • Last year, Trump used the speech to denounce Kim Jong-un as 'Rocket Man'
  • President is likely to criticize Iran in this year's speech
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...tant-Trump-set-rattle-foes-friends-alike.html
 

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From toilet roll to handbags: Walmart, Target and Apple warn of price hikes on hundreds of everyday items following Trump's newest tariff on $200billion of Chinese imports

  • China added $60billion of US products to its tariff list this week
  • The move was in retaliation to the Trump administration's planned levies on $200billion-worth of Chinese imports, going into effect Monday
  • A spokesperson for Walmart listed a wide range of goods that may soon receive price hikes in a September 6 letter to the US Trade Representative
  • More than a dozen other retailers have also condemned Trump's tariffs
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6194845/U-S-companies-react-impact-Trump-trade-tariffs.html
Oh dear i hope this doesn’t mean higher prices for fat bastard American consumers and their fake money.
 

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Congress set to fund government, but not Trump's wall

AP
By MATTHEW DALY and KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press
2 hrs ago


WASHINGTON — Congress is set to pass a crucial spending bill that averts a government shutdown, but there's one potential obstacle: President Donald Trump.

Neither party wants the government to close ahead of the midterm elections that will determine control of Congress, but Trump has made clear his frustration at the lack of money for his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. He says it is "ridiculous" the wall has yet to be fully funded.

With less than a week before a Sept. 30 deadline for a partial shutdown, Republican leaders hope they can get Trump to set aside his frustration about the wall and sign legislation that funds the military and a host of civilian agencies for the next year. The bill also would provide a short-term fix to keep the government running through Dec. 7.

The Senate easily approved the measure last week, with only seven senators voting no.

The vote in the House is expected to be closer, with House conservatives voicing displeasure that money is included for Planned Parenthood but not the wall.

"You want to stanch a blue wave" of Democrats in the midterms? asked Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. "Then keep your promises — and one of those promises is to build the wall."

Trump himself raised the possibility last week that he may not sign the measure unless wall funding is included.

"Where is the money for border security and the wall in this ridiculous spending bill?" Trump said Thursday on Twitter. Republicans "must finally get tough" against Democrats he said are obstructing law enforcement and border security, he added.

But it seems only Trump can stop the spending legislation from becoming law. Biggs and other conservatives admit they don't have the numbers to defeat the spending bill in the House, given that leaders from both parties support the legislation.

"I expect it to pass. The votes are going to be there," said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee who is among the best vote counters in the Capitol.

"There's substantial support" for the bill in both parties, Cole said. He emphasized that the measure increases defense spending — including the largest pay raise for the military in nearly a decade — and boosts funding for a range of domestic programs, including a 5 percent increase for the National Institute of Health, a priority of both parties.

"I think we're in pretty good shape," he said.

Still, many conservatives are unhappy.

"This bill funds things we said we wouldn't, like Planned Parenthood, but doesn't fund things we said we would, like the border security wall. That's unacceptable," said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a leader of the conservative wing of the GOP who has made himself a candidate to lead House Republicans after the midterm elections.

"Republicans need to actually do what we said," Jordan said.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., defended the bill, saying it fully funds the military while providing "historic" spending to fight the opioid epidemic, which takes the lives of more than 100 people in the U.S. every day.

"These are top priorities for the country, and we are ready to get this bill into law soon," Ryan said last week.

Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP lawmakers met with Trump earlier this month to plot strategy and urge the president not to force a shutdown.

Trump's stance has zigzagged. At times he has said he won't allow a shutdown before the midterm elections. At other times, he's mused that closing the government may be good for him politically.

"If it happens, it happens. If it's about border security, I'm willing to do anything," Trump said during a meeting with top Republican lawmakers this month.

McConnell insists there is "zero" chance of a shutdown and says a battle over the border wall should wait until after votes are cast in November.
Ryan, for his part, said GOP leaders "have a very good understanding with the president that we want to get our appropriations done. I'm confident our understanding will stick."

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/polit...ent-but-not-trumps-wall/ar-AAAyLQE?ocid=ientp
 

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SEC Enforcement Wanes on Trump’s Watch

Posted on September 23, 2018 by Jerri-Lynn Scofield

By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.

Stephanie Avakian, the co-director of enforcement for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), last week delivered a speech in Dallas in which she defended the agency’s enforcement program despite a drop in fines collected and cases brought during the 2018 fiscal year.

Statistics such as the number of actions the SEC brought in a fiscal year and the dollar amount of judgments and orders obtained in that year are interesting so far as they go, but they only tell us so much. Put simply, statistics do not provide a full and meaningful picture of the quality, nature, and effectiveness of the Division’s efforts.​
The speech is clearly an attempt to get out in front of soon-to-be released figures– as yet unavailable, as the Commission’s fiscal year closes on September 30. Earlier accounts suggest these figures are declining, thus continuing a downward trend, according to the WSJ:

Total fines ordered through SEC enforcement activity fell 7.2% in 2017 to about $3.8 billion, the lowest total since 2013, according to SEC figures.​
SEC Drops “Broken Windows” Approach to Enforcement
Nearly a year ago, Steven Peikin, the SEC’s other co-director of enforcement, announced the agency would abandon the “broken windows” enforcement strategy pursued under SEC chair Mary Jo White (see this November 2017 post, SEC Soon to Have Five Sitting Commissioners; Budget Constraints Will Stymie Enforcement). As summarised by Compliance Week in a May article:

White first dropped the phrase “broken windows” on the compliance world during a speech in October 2013. Just as police officers deter serious crime by tackling small quality-of-life issues—from graffiti to turnstile jumpers to, yes, breaking windows—White’s idea was to do the same with SEC rules and requirements. “It is important to pursue even the smallest infractions,” she said, suggesting that this dedication would both increase the Commission’s number of enforcement actions and send a strong message to those who would do greater harm.​
As I discussed in my November post, the SEC’s enforcement record during White’s tenure was much less impressive than what she took credit for. Some of the drop in fines collected and cases brought during the last year represents the abandonment of the broken windows approach. I find myself agreeing with Republican Congressman Bill Huizenga about how such statistics can be manipulated, as spelled out in Compliance Week:

“I am pleased to see that the enforcement division under Chairman Clayton has diverted its attention away from the broken windows enforcement philosophy.”​
“In my mind, this misguided approach to enforcement appears to have only been successful at boosting statistics, rather than meaningfully improving investor protections,” [Huizenga] added. “I’m pleased to see that the Commission is shifting away from minor violations in securities laws and instead taking a more selective approach to enforcement. After all, we should not evaluate the true effectiveness of a regulatory agency or its enforcement program solely based on how many headlines it can generate.”​
Avakian’s speech highlighted two other factors that also contributed to the declining enforcement numbers. First, the agency suffers from a shortage of qualified personnel. It has been unable to fill some enforcement slots, due to a federal hiring freeze (a problem Peikin anticipated and which I mentioned in my November post). Several senior staff members in DC and larger regional offices have left the agency for the private sector during the past year. The revolving door still swings.

This policy is no accident: Congress starves the agency’s budget, so as to cripple its effectiveness.

Second, the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Kokesh v. SEC shortened to five years the time during which the SEC can bring a claim for disgorgement of profits. Adapting to this decision, according to Avakian:

has required the entire Division, but particularly those in the Trial Unit, to divert considerable attention to older matters – many of which had been substantially resolved. … As we have noted previously, the Commission has already had to forgo hundreds of millions of dollars in disgorgement – much of which could have been returned to harmed investors – and that number will continue to go up over time.​
Her speech didn’t include any more precise details on funds forgone to date, but, according to the WSJ:

SEC officials have previously said the decision prevented them from getting more than $800 million in fines that they could have sought under the law before the Kokesh decision.​
What Is the SEC’s Focus?
I am in theory open to accepting the argument that numbers of cases brought or fines collected don’t tell the whole story about the effectiveness of the SEC’s enforcement division.

So, what do we see when we take a closer look?

Alas, the record isn’t promising. Although Avakian didn’t discuss this issue in her speech, the agency has gutted its whistleblower program, imposed by Congress as part of the Dodd-Frank reforms (see these two recent posts by Yves, Wall Street Journal Parrots SEC’s Excuses for Big Delays in Whistleblower Payouts; and SEC Knifes Its Whistleblower Program; these problems didn’t commence under Trump’s watch, either, as I wrote in SEC Takes Victory Lap for Pathetic Performance of Whistleblower Program).

An agency interested in ferreting out corporate misconduct would be expanding, rather than gutting such a program; ditto for rapid disbursement of payouts, rather than the slow-walking we currently see instead.

Instead, the SEC has continued to concentrate on insider trading. Avakkian noted the case brought against Congressman Christopher Collins in August. While the transgressions of Collins and his cronies certainly shouldn’t be overlooked, insider trading is an area that occupies all too much attention at the SEC– and the Department of Justice for that matter– at the expense of more serious misdeeds. (This is yet another problem that didn’t just manifest itself on Trump’s watch, as I discussed in The SEC Fiddles While the System Burns: Insider Trading Enforcement As Securities Law Theater).

Peikin emphasized in May testimony before a subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee a focus on charging individuals, when possible, as reported by Compliance Week:

Since May 2017, a number of the Commission’s enforcement actions have also involved charges against one or more individuals, Peikin added. “These actions have involved charges against the senior-most executives of large companies and firms, including CEOs, CFOs, presidents, and senior partners, he said. “The Commission also has charged individuals in several cyber-related matters.”​
Sounds sensible, no? Avakian picked up this theme in her Dallas speech:

We have also continued to focus on individual accountability by pursuing charges against individuals for misconduct in the securities markets, including registered individuals, executives at all levels of the corporate hierarchy, including CEOs, CFOs and other high-ranking executives, and gatekeepers.[2]
She highlighted charges brought against executives at Clovis Oncology, Theranos, and Rio Tinto. Yet when one peeks behind the curtain and looks at some details, the SEC’s performance fails to inspire.

Merely bringing some charges– any charges!– against individuals alone does not suffice. They need to be the right charges, they should be vigorously pursued, and the SEC shouldn’t be content with puny settlements. Take the case of Theranos and its CEO, Elizabeth Homes, which Avian cites as a success and which Yves discussed in this May post, Jay Clayton’s SEC Lets Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes Get Away With Brazen Fraud:

This case proves that the Trump SEC is setting new lows by giving get out of jail nearly free cards to fraudsters.​
Holmes settled with the SEC, paying a puny $500,000 when she raised and torched $700 million of investor funds. She also surrendered 18.9 million shares and gave up control of the company by converting her Class B shares, which give her voting control, to Class A shares. She is also barred from serving as the director or officer of a public company for 10 years. That bizarrely means she remains as CEO of Theranos. She did not admit or deny guilt.​
Pursuing such a soft approach in this high profile case doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of bad corporate actors.

Dealbreaker was also not gulled by Avakian’s Speech– as this headline makes clear, Slacker SEC: Don’t Trip About Lower Fines Or Whatever:

[T]he SEC still loves a layup. And nothing’s providing quite so many of those as the cryptocurrency market, where the regulator is focusing much of its somewhat distracted attention. Also slam-dunk Ponzi schemes. Those are great ways to keep the numbers from falling too much without putting in too much effort.​
Despite those limitations, the SEC has been vigilant in pursuing illegal activity in the market for initial coin offerings, Ms. Avakian said…. In the case of ICOs that don’t involve fraud, but still trampled various investor-protection laws, “we will likely recommend more substantial remedies against issuers that fail to comply,” Ms. Avakian said.​
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced it has obtained a court order halting an ongoing Ponzi-like scheme that raised more than $345 million from over 230 investors across the U.S…. The defendants were allegedly using a web of lies, fabricated documents, and forged signatures in an elaborate scheme to entice investors and perpetuate the fraud…. The SEC also alleges that Merrill and Ledford stole at least $85 million of the investor funds to maintain lavish lifestyles, spending millions of dollars on luxury items, including $10.2 million on at least 25 high-end cars, $330,000 for a 7-carat diamond ring, $168,000 for a 23-carat diamond bracelet, millions of dollars on luxury homes, and $100,000 to a private fitness club.​

Thanks, bros! That’s the kind of stuff that keeps us entertained, and the complaints basically write themselves.​
Over to Avakian for (nearly) the last word (my emphasis):

While statistics provide some information, they do not present a real, full picture of the nature or effectiveness of an enforcement program. Any assessment that suggests our effectiveness should be measured solely based on the number of cases we bring over any particular period of time is misguided. We are committed to quality: to have as broad an impact on the landscape we police as possible; to bring cases that send messages of general and specific deterrence; and to seek and obtain remedies tailored to the conduct at issue and the message we want to send.
That, indeed is the problem. There’s a time and place for a lay-up. But to be an effective regulator, the SEC needs to attempt more types of shots, including the occasional three pointer. The will to attempt all but the easiest shots– and the skills necessary to complete them– are unfortunately, missing.

This entry was posted in Banana republic, Guest Post, Legal, Politics, Regulations and regulators, Ridiculously obvious scams on September 23, 2018 by Jerri-Lynn Scofield.

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/09/sec-enforcement-wanes-trumps-watch.html
 

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Trump's UNGA speech: Iran, illegal immigration & globalism
RT


Published on Sep 25, 2018
US President Donald Trump has addressed the UN General Assembly, stressing that he rejects globalism and socialism while taking aim at illegal immigration and the "corrupt dictatorship" of Iran which sows "death and destruction." READ MORE: https://on.rt.com/9eza
 

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White House: President Trump Speaks at the United Nations General Assembly
okrajoe


Published on Sep 25, 2018
President Trump Addresses the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Courtesy Video | White House Communications Agency | 09.25.2018 |
 

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Donald Trump's worldview was laid bare at the UN -- and it should worry anyone who understands history


Analysis by Nic Robertson, CNN
40 mins ago



US President Donald Trump came late to the podium at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday morning. And within moments, he had the gathered world leaders laughing.

By the time he finished, it was a far more somber mood in the hallowed chamber, in which Trump himself said "so much history has transpired."

But on this day, he was making a history of his own.

The levity he sparked so soon into his address came, perhaps, because he was doing exactly what his audience had come to expect -- plenty of ego; little humility: "I stand before the United Nations General Assembly to share the extraordinary progress we've made. In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country."

He boasted that America is stronger and more powerful than ever before: "Our military will soon be more powerful than it has ever been before. In other words, the United States is stronger, safer and a richer country than it was when I assumed office ... We are standing up for America and for the American people."

He stated, clearly, his Administration's view of the world: "America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control and domination."

The longer he spoke, the more portentous it became: "We will never surrender America's sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable global bureaucracy. America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism. And we embrace the doctrine of patriotism."

And Trump made it clear he is happy to divide the world into nations he sees as his friends and those he sees as undeserving enemies: "We are taking a hard look at US foreign assistance ... whether the countries who receive our dollars and protection also have our interests at heart. Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends."

And when he gave a shout out to some of those friends, he gave yet more insight into the sort of nations he considers allies. Many former friends were missing -- indeed, erstwhile ally Germany even came in for criticism.

Somewhere near the top of the friends list this year -- an astonishing turnaround from being the leader Trump criticized so readily from this very platform last year -- was North Korea.

"I traveled to Singapore to meet face-to-face with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-Un. Since that meeting, we have already seen a number of encouraging measures that few could have imagined."

South Korea and Japan both got a shout out, too.

He singled out Saudi Arabia as a key ally, specifically piling praise on its autocratic rulers, King Salman and his son Mohammed Bin Salman.

Other autocratic Gulf states got praise, too: "The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have pledged billions of dollars to aid the people of Syria and Yemen."

He praised Poland, whose right-wing President Andzrej Duda met with Trump a few days ago, offering to help build a new US military base that he would call "Fort Trump."

The Polish leader, who faces possible sanctions from EU leaders for firing judges as part of sweeping political meddling in the country's judiciary, got a double helping of praise.

Trump explained that Poland found favor with him for the way in which it is standing up to Russia: "We congratulate the European states such as Poland for leading the construction of a Baltic pipeline so that nations are not dependent on Russia ... Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course."

There was a ringing endorsement of India's tough leader, Narendra Modi. Trump highlighted Modi's efforts on poverty, rather than his record of failing to curb sectarianism in India.

He also praised Israel: "There is Israel, proudly celebrating its 70th anniversary as a democracy in the Holy Land." This, of course, was Trump talking up his reasons for announcing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last year, while making no mention of his cuts to UN budgets supporting Palestinians. The obvious implication: If the Palestinians are losing funding, they are not friends who respect the US.

As his speech drew to its close, Trump drew his thoughts together. Just in case we missed it, he made clear once more his belief that though we might all share this planet, we live on it separately: "The whole world is richer, humanity is better, because of this beautiful constellation of nations, each very special, each very unique. And each shining brightly in its part of the world."

An hour or so before, the same audience listened to another world view from the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres.

He seemed to foreshadow Trump's darker leaning with a lesson from history:

"Today, with shifts in the balance of power, the risk of confrontation may increase...In assessing the Peloponnesian War in ancient Greece, Thucydides said, and I quote, 'It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable'."

Trump offers a different worldview, one that keeps nations apart. In his words, "We must defend the foundations that make it all possible. Sovereign and independent nations are the only vehicle where freedom has ever survived."

There will be some who listened to Trump today and heard echoes of the 1930s. Ironic, as the UN came into existence to overcome the global horrors from that dark moment in history.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world...who-understands-history/ar-AAADNNY?ocid=ientp
 

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Donald Trump's worldview was laid bare at the UN -- and it should worry anyone who understands history


Analysis by Nic Robertson, CNN
40 mins ago




He stated, clearly, his Administration's view of the world: "America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control and domination."

The longer he spoke, the more portentous it became: "We will never surrender America's sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable global bureaucracy. America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism. And we embrace the doctrine of patriotism."


There will be some who listened to Trump today and heard echoes of the 1930s. Ironic, as the UN came into existence to overcome the global horrors from that dark moment in history.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world...who-understands-history/ar-AAADNNY?ocid=ientp
oh, did he upset the globalists?

Hopefully by the end of his terms, the U.N. will be history also.
 

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Trump Tells UNGA OPEC ‘Ripping Off’ The World
RT America



Published on Sep 25, 2018
President Trump is no stranger when it comes to criticizing trade with China, the European Union, or Mexico. In today's speech at the United Nations General Assembly, the president went after OPEC. For analysis, RT America’s Scottie Nell Hughes is joined by former US diplomat Jim Jatras.
 

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Trump Asks UNGA to Isolate Iran
RT America


Published on Sep 25, 2018
The United Nations General Assembly continues amid increasing tensions between the United States, its Gulf allies and Iran. RT America’s Dan Cohen reports.
 

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Macron vs Trump at the UN General Assembly
euronews (in English)


Published on Sep 25, 2018
While both leaders have professed friendship and support for each other in public, they stood at opposite ends of the spectrum on many issues they addressed at the UN on Tuesday.…
READ MORE : http://www.euronews.com/2018/09/25/ma...
 

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The US-Mexico Trade Deal Dies

Posted on September 27, 2018 by Yves Smith

Yves here. One detail: this article does not make clear that the incoming president of Mexico, Lopez Obrador, did not object to the current government finalizing a trade pact with the US. But perhaps he could tell it was unlikely to get done in time.

By Barkley Rosser, Professor of Economics at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Originally published at EconoSpeak
Nobody is calling it that, but the low key story on the back pages of today’s major papers report that this is what has happened, not to my surprise. September 29 (or maybe the 30th at a stretch) is the deadline for President Trump to submit to the Congress the final version of the US-Mexico trade deal if there is any chance of it being passed by the US Senate in time for outgoing Mexican President Pena Nieto to sign it on his lats day in office on November 30 after the outgoing Mexican parliament could approve of it. The US Senate rules are that there is a 90-day waiting period for the initial announcement of a trade deal and a 60 day waiting for delivering the final detailed agreement. The Trump administration got their initial report in on time, but with only it involving US and Mexico. Sept. 29 is the deadline for the final deal.

As noted in previous posts here (Aug. 29, econospeak.blogspot.com/2018/08/marrying-nafta-and-tpp-us-mexico-free.html and Sept. 6, econospeak.blogspot.com/2018/09/has-trump-gone-over-the-edge-on-negotiating.html , sorry having trouble providing the links), top Republican senators such as No. 2 John Cornyn of Texas and others have said they will not approve a deal that does not include Canada, a reformed NAFTA. Let me note that it was not impossible for this US-Mexico trade deal to form the basis of such a deal. But, unfortunately, in the immediate aftermath of the announcement of the US-Mexico deal Trump announced that Canada must settle the negotiation on “our terms.” Oh. The funny thing is that there was a possible deal. The US was making demands of Canada about the dairy industry (never a part of NAFTA because it was so hard to make a deal) and Canada was making demands about the lumber industry, generally described as a dispute over “dispute resolution.” There were other issues, but these were the politically hard and sensitive ones involving such places as Wisconsin and Quebec. In the end it appears that no deal between the US and Canada has been made and probably will not be made in time for the Sept. 29 deadline.

The newspaper reports provide zero details of the official negotiations, led by official US trade rep Robert Lighthizer on the US side, a hardline but experienced and knowledgeable official. All we have is that there is no deal between and the US and there will be no further official negotiations between now and the deadline of Sept. 29 or 30. We have just passed a last possible moment to save the US-Canada negotiation at the UN meeting (where the US president for the first time in history was laughed at while addressing the UN General Assembly filled with around 100 national leaders from around the world), actually two. One was a possible meeting between Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Minister, Chyrsta Freeland, which might have happened on the sidelines of the UNGA meetings. I do not think that happened, and while she has in the US media been regularly identified as the Canadian opposite number of Lighthizer, she certainly was not the Canadian rep in the now failed negotiations, presumably somebody on the same level as Lighthizer (US SecState Pompeo is the opposite number of Freeland), whose name I have never seen reported.

But that meeting became completely irrelevant as there became a possible meeting at the same meeting (after Trump got laughed at) between Trump and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau. Trump very loudly and publicly declared that he would not meet with or speak with Trudeau, claiming that he did not like the Canadian ngotiating “style.” Really. In any case, any possible meeting between Lighthizer and Freeland was simply out the window. And, of course, this means there will be no agreement between the US and Canada prior to the Sept. 29 deadline.

According to the back page WaPo report today, despite this failure of getting an agreement with the US’s largest national export destination, the Trump admin will submit the current US-Mexican agreement without Canada (NAFTA minus Canada) to the US Senate (assuming that some not well-reported details of this agreement with Mexico have been resolved). I suppose there is a small chance that the Senate will accept it and that will be it. But based on previous statements by important Republican senators, this will not pass without Canada aboard, and while a few Dem senators (Sherrod Brown) have made supportive noises about Trump’s trade war, I doubt there will be enough to offset the loud GOP opposition, especially given that that United Autoworkers Union has come out against the agreement without Canada, joining in this with the US Chamber of Commerce and the US Business Roundtable.

It looks like the successor to NAFTA, if anything, will have to be renogiated from scratch with the incoming leftist Mexican president, Lopez Obrador, but Canada will have to be brought in, no matter what, or else involved will laugh very loudly at President Trump.

This entry was posted in Economic fundamentals, Globalization, Guest Post, Politics on September 27, 2018 by Yves Smith.

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/09/us-mexico-trade-deal-dies.html
 

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World Moving to De-dollarize?
RT America



Published on Sep 26, 2018
Anya Parampil brings us the latest comments made by U.S. President Donald Trump at the 73rd United Nation General Assembly, where he was laughed at by world leaders for claiming to be the most accomplished U.S. President in history. Former U.K. member of parliament George Galloway and Euro Pacific Capital CEO Peter Schiff join Anya to discuss Trump’s further isolation on the international stage.
 

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'We will know in 48 hours': Breakthrough in NAFTA negotiations means the free trade agreement could continue as a tri-lateral deal between Mexico, US and Canada

  • The US and Canada could finalize a deal to keep the North American Free Trade Agreement a tri-lateral deal
  • Canada and the US have been unable to agree on terms for the new version
  • Canada has asked for a dispute provision and protecting its dairy sector
  • The country's negotiators are concerned Trump will hit them with auto tariffs
  • The US and Mexico reached a deal in August and will go forward regardless
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...-US-Canada-reach-new-NAFTA-deal-48-hours.html
 

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Washington's Sanctions Machine


by Tyler Durden
Fri, 09/28/2018 - 22:10


Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Perhaps it is Donald Trump’s business background that leads him to believe that if you inflict enough economic pain on someone they will ultimately surrender and agree to do whatever you want. Though that approach might well work in New York real estate, it is not a certain path to success in international relations since countries are not as vulnerable to pressure as are individual investors or developers.



Washington’s latest foray into the world of sanctions, directed against China, is astonishing even when considering the low bar that has been set by previous presidents going back to Bill Clinton. Beijing has already been pushing back over US sanctions imposed last week on its government-run Equipment Development Department of the Chinese Central Military Commission and its director Li Shangfu for “engaging in significant transactions” with a Russian weapons manufacturer that is on a list of US sanctioned companies. The transactions included purchases of Russian Su-35 combat aircraft as well as equipment related to the advanced S-400 surface-to-air missile system. The sanctions include a ban on the director entering the United States and blocks all of his property or bank accounts within the US as well as freezing all local assets of the Equipment Development Department.

More important, the sanctions also forbid conducting any transactions that go through the US financial system. It is the most powerful weapon Washington has at its disposal, but it is being challenged as numerous countries are working to find ways around it. Currently however, as most international transactions are conducted in dollars and pass through American banks that means that it will be impossible for the Chinese government to make weapons purchases from many foreign sources. If foreign banks attempt to collaborate with China to evade the restrictions, they too will be sanctioned.

So in summary, Beijing bought weapons from Moscow and is being sanctioned by the United States for doing so because Washington does not approve of the Russian government. The sanctions on China are referred to as secondary sanctions in that they are derivative from the primary sanction on the foreign company or individual that is actually being punished. Secondary sanctions can be extended ad infinitum as transgressors linked sequentially to the initial transaction multiply the number of potential targets.

Not surprisingly, the US Ambassador has been summoned and Beijing has canceled several bilateral meetings with American defense department officials. The Chinese government has expressed “outrage” and has demanded the US cancel the measure.

According to media reports, the Chinese Department purchased the weapons from Rosoboronexport, Russia’s principal arms exporter. This violated a 2017 law passed by Congress named, characteristically, the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which sought to punish the Russian government and its various agencies for interfering in in the 2016 US election as well as its alleged involvement in Ukraine, Syria and its development of cyberwar capabilities. Iran and North Korea were also targeted in the legislation.

Explaining the new sanctions, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert issued a statement elaborating that the initial sanctions on Russia were enacted “to further impose costs on the Russian government in response to its malign activities.” She added that the US will “urge all countries to curtail relationships with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors, both of which are linked to malign activities worldwide.”

As engaging in “malign activities” is a charge that should quite plausibly be leveled against Washington and its allies in the Middle East, it is not clear if anyone but the French and British poodles actually believes the rationalizations coming out of Washington to defend the indefensible. An act to “Counter America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions” is, even as the title implies, ridiculous.

Washington is on a sanctions spree.

Russia has been sanctioned repeatedly since the passage of the fraudulent Magnitsky Act, with no regard for Moscow’s legitimate protests that interfering in other countries’ internal politics is unacceptable. China is currently arguing reasonably enough that arms sales between countries is perfect legal and in line with international law.

Iran has been sanctioned even through it complied with an international agreement on its nuclear program and new sanctions were even piled on top of the old sanctions. And in about five weeks the US will be sanctioning ANYONE who buys oil from Iran, reportedly with no exceptions allowed. Venezuela is under US sanctions to punish its government, NATO member Turkey because it bought weapons from Russia and the Western Hemisphere perennial bad boy Cuba has had various embargoes in place since 1960.

It should be noted that sanctions earn a lot of ill-will and generally accomplish nothing. Cuba would likely be a fairly normal country but for the US restrictions and other pressure that gave its government the excuse to maintain a firm grip on power. The same might even apply to North Korea. And sanctions are even bad for the United States. Someday, when the US begins to lose its grip on the world economy all of those places being sanctioned will line up to get their revenge and it won’t be pretty.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-09-28/washingtons-sanctions-machine
 

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Trade ministers from the US, Canada and Mexico reach last-minute agreement to revamp the NAFTA deal after a YEAR of negotiations and a war of words between Trump and Trudeau

  • The US, Canada and Mexico have been negotiating the terms of a revised North America Free Trade Agreement for more than a year
  • The Trump administration announced a deal had been reached late Sunday night
  • The new pact is being called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement
  • The agreement is a giant step toward Trump delivering on his key campaign promise to overhaul NAFTA
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also praised the new deal as he left an emergency Cabinet meeting late Sunday, telling reporters: 'It’s a good day for Canada'
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...US-make-progress-trade-talks-no-deal-yet.html