Archive for November, 2019

U.S. President Trump

November 29, 2019

U.S. President Trump and his ambition to strengthen America by changing rules, producing deep divisions in his country. Authoritarian nationalist seeking to put into effect promises of his aggressive presidential campaign, surprised allies and enemies with radical measures, attacking immigrants and intimidating the media, taking distance from free world trade and globalization. His budget plan includes a tax reform, of both personal and corporate taxes, a massive Trillion-Dollar infrastructure program, elevating security and military spending by reducing spending in most other areas, projecting an economic growth of 3%, up from meager 1,6% in 2016. He leaves no doubt to favor companies investing in the United States and contracting Americans, saying that those producing abroad should have to pay a -protectionist- compensating border tax, insisting that U.S. allies used America for years owing lots of money, causing his returning to protectionism, contributing to the rise of global populism, caution and consternation in the international community. Although having a strong base of followers, his approving rate is one of the lowest in U.S. history, as he hopes to gain the support from conservatives motivating their nationalist vision. Saying ‘enough is enough’ the Trump administration ordered a massive missile attack on a Syrian air base in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack killing at least 87 civilians, stepping up the pressure on Russia to rein in Syrian President Al Assad warning of any further chemical attacks, saying the missile strike carries a message for others, sending a carrier-led strike group to the Korean peninsula, increasing international tensions, dropping U.S. military its most powerful nonnuclear bomb on an Islamic State complex in Afghanistan. North Korea said it was ready to sink a U.S. aircraft carrier to demonstrate its military might. The U.S. started moving parts of an anti-missile defense system/the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system to a deployment site in South Korea, about 250 km south of the capital, Seoul, arriving a guided missile submarine from the U.S. Navy in South Korea on the same day that North Korea celebrated the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army. Signaling a certain willingness to exhaust non-military alternatives despite repeated warnings that ‘all options are on the table’, the Trump administration said now it aimed to push North Korea into dismantling its nuclear and missile programs through tougher international sanctions and diplomatic pressure and still remained open to negotiations. A CNN/ORC poll showed nearing the 100-day mark that Donald Trump is the least popular U.S. President in history at this point in his term, as some observers compare his opening months with a chaotic discovery of power. Going by President Trump’s ‘100-day action plan to make America great again’, his progress has been slow. President Trump’s ‘very friendly’ talk with President Rodrigo Dudarte, who has lead a deadly crackdown on drugs in the Philippines, inviting him despite human rights criticism to visit the White House, stuns aides and critics alike, the same as his opening the door to meeting North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, saying he would be honored to meet the young leader under the right circumstances, even as Pyongyang suggested it would continue its nuclear weapons tests, as Asian nations are swinging toward China’s orbit, a consequence of President Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda. Without referring to President Trump, a Fed-speaker declared that trade protectionism is a ‘dead end’ that may score political points but will ultimately hurt the U.S. economy. Deepening sense of crisis as President Trump defends F.B.I. firing, media revealed that the President pressed James Comey, the law enforcement official leading a wide-ranging criminal investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s advisers colluded with the Russian government to steer the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, for ‘loyalty’ at a private dinner in January 2017, promising the F.B.I. director only ‘honesty’, asking President Trump in February 2017 F.B.I. director Comey to close the Flynn/Russia investigation, facing the deepest crisis of presidency as Comey memo surfaces, playing online bettors early end to Trump presidency, naming Justice Department Robert S. Mueller III., former F.B.I. director, special counsel for the Russia investigation. North Korea launched a new developed mid-to-long range ballistic missile, reaching an altitude of more than 2.000 kilometers and landing in the Sea of Japan close to Russia, saying North Korea it was aimed at verifying the capacity to carry a large scale heavy nuclear warhead, asking the U.S. also Russia, after China, to help convince Pyongyang to stop its reckless nuclear weapons program or face serious consequences, sharing the code used in the latest cyberattacks many similarities with past hacks blamed also on North Korea. President Trump shared intelligence about ISIS provided by Israel with Russian officials, probably endangering spy placed inside ISIS by Israel, saying Trump he has an absolute right to share ‘facts’ with Russia, not informing if he revealed classified secrets, offering Russian President Putin transcript to prove that Trump did not pass secrets to Russia. With Trump crisis deepening Wall Street tumbled as reform hopes fade and the Dollar declined to a six-months low, threatening new Russia probe leaks to derail President Trump’s first foreign trip to Saudi Arabia and Europe, reporting media he told Russian officials in the Oval Office that Comey’s firing relieved ‘great pressure’ calling him a ‘nut-job’. President Trump, proving his art as deal maker, celebrated in Saudi Arabia mega-deals worth approximately $380 Billion, including $110 Billion arms agreement and $50 Billion worth deal with Saudi Aramco, inaugurating new era of U.S.-Arab partnership, urging Muslim countries at the Arab-Islamic-American summit to take a lead in fighting terror. European leaders were confronted in Brussels with an authoritarian President Trump, rebuking NATO leaders for not paying defense bill and producing deep differences in discussions over trade with the EU, receiving renewed pleas not to abandon the Paris climate change agreement. Fellow Republican and former U.S. House speaker Boehner said that Trump’s time in office has been a ‘complete disaster’, aside from foreign affairs, praising his aggressive steps to challenge the Islamic State militant group and other moves in international affairs, explaining ‘he’s still learning how to be President’, ‘meaning President Trump the apprentice’, what may explain his cautious attitudes during the G7 summit in Sicily, still developing views on different very important issues, for example on climate change, where he is expected to ultimately do what he believes was best for the United States. German leader Merkel, remaining committed to U.S.-German relations, said that very unsatisfactory results of the G7 summit in Sicily shook her confidence in the United States, reducing her confidence in the Trump administration, moving President Trump and Chancellor Merkel further apart, which could mean a shift in the wider world order, emerging China as Europe’s unlikely global partner on areas from free trade to security. In a statement backed by all 28 EU states the EU and China will commit to full implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement that U.S. President Trump appears to be set to pull out of. President Trump announced the United States will pull out of the landmark Paris climate change pact, saying it was too expensive for the U.S., meaning the decision a profit for U.S. polluters, placing America alongside with Syria and Nicaragua, the other two non-participating countries, fulfilling a major pledge of his election campaign. However the climate won’t be able to survive the long-run absence of U.S. leadership, considering that the United States are second worldwide after China in greenhouse gas emissions; if an actual U.S. withdrawal ends up as a four year absence on a long-run downward emissions trajectory than the climate can survive it. Democratic state governors from California, New York and Washington intend to form an alliance committed to countering climate change, defying President Trump’s determination, announcing disappointed chiefs of Tesla and Space X, Elon Musk and of Disney, Robert Iger, they resign from the President’s advisory council, regretting other important business leaders, so from Apple, Facebook, General Electric, Goldman Sachs, Google, and Microsoft, the decision to exit the Paris agreement, expressing they will remain committed to fight climate change. President Trump accused former FBI chief Comey of lying under oath in his testimony to Senators, where he confirmed Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, saying ‘they did it with purpose’. Notably backing the aggressive position of Saudi Arabia against Iran, and escalating the diplomatic crisis in the Middle East, President Trump accused Qatar of being a high-level sponsor of terrorism, recommending German Chancellor Merkel that all Gulf states and also Iran and Turkey, nations maintaining relations with Qatar, should work together to find a solution to the regional dispute. President Trump is rolling back the dètente with Cuba begun by Obama, asking Cuban government to release political prisoners. Described by President Trump ‘as the single greatest witch hunt in American political history’, former F.B.I. director Robert S. Mueller III appointed as special counsel is overseeing the Trump-Russia investigation. The U.S. Senate voted to enact new sanctions in response to Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election, after reports that the Trump administration is considering easing sanctions on Moscow; EU-allies formally renewed economic sanctions against Russia on Ukraine until January 31, 2018. The Trump administration seems to be ready to use forth in North Korea if needed to stop its nuclear missile program, seeing it as a growing threat, although saying it preferred a global diplomatic action against Pyongyang for defying world powers. The G20 meeting in Hamburg ended with a forged trade compromise as U.S. tariff threat lingers, finding the Trump administration itself isolated, standing on issues like immigration, trade and climate change alone, expressing world leaders their total disagreement with President Trump on climate change. On the sideline of the G20 gathering in Hamburg President Trump and Russian President Putin met face-to-face, who denied again any meddling in the U.S. 2106 election, establishing both sides a discussion how they could work together, including combating cyberattacks and de-escalating the war in Syria, apparently without producing any news. President Trump threatened North Korea with ‘fire and fury’ after Pyongyang announced it examines plans for a missile strike on the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, a major U.S. military base and home of U.S. bombers. President Trump praised Kim Jong Un’s decision not to fire missiles toward Guam, easing tensions between the two countries. After more CEO’s quit Trump council over his response to violence in Charlottesville, the U.S. President ended his two advisory panels, the Manufacturing Council and the Strategic and Policy Forum. Outraged by his defense of white nationalists, the President has been abandoned by executives, contradicted by military leaders and shunned by Republicans. Stephen Bannon, President Trump’s chief strategist, left the White House after clashing for months with other senior advisers and members of Trump’s family. President Trump decided to deepen American involvement in Afghanistan, formerly opposed by him. Shock Poll: a Pew Research Poll shows that most countries prefer Russian President Putin over the U.S. President Trump. After North Korea’s new sixth and most powerful nuclear test, the U.S. urges a fuel cutoff for the country, saying it’s ‘begging for war’, intending to resolve the standoff using tougher sanctions rather than military means. The U.N. Security Council strengthened North Korea sanctions, but North Korea launches still another missile over Japan, escalating again crisis. President Trump signaled he will choose approach on Iran that preserves nuclear deal. Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relation Committee, said Trump was treating his office like ‘a reality show’, in an extraordinary rebuke of a president of his own party, adding he concerns me and he would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation. According to polls, President Trump now is the least popular first-year President in U.S. history and only 18% of voters are actually prepared to vote him again as President in 2020. 12 months of President Trump since election are bringing an economic boom, deepening divisions and probe politics. Compiling a solid record of accomplishments, much of it is unilateral, dependent on extensive executive actions, rolling back President Obama’s regulations, impressive judicial appointments and some progress in the fight against ISIS overseas. The $1,5 Trillion tax bill is his most significant legislative achievement, and a provision of the tax overhaul is expected to release a tide of U.S. corporate cash from abroad, estimated to reach eventually up to $400 Billion, a development likely to jolt the Dollar and reverberate throughout financial markets early 2018. 2018 could bring a bout of protectionism and his toxic persona, suffering still under the not yet concluded investigation of a Russian election interference in his favor, could drive a Democratic wave in the 2018 midterms.Michael Wolff promoted his new book ‘Fire and Fury’-‘Inside the Trump White House’ by saying that Trump is unfit for presidency, adding that his revelations will bring down Trump, defending Trump his mental capacity, saying he is ‘a very stable genius. President Trump accepted an invitation to meet Kim Jong-un of North Korea offering to start talks on giving up its nuclear weapons, a high-level diplomatic encounter so risky and seemingly far-fetched that some of Trump’s aides believe it will never happen. President Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian officials and closed a consulate, joining a coordinated campaign by two dozen countries to retaliate for poisening of a former Russian spy in Britain, saying Russia it will respond in kind to West’s expulsions. James Comey, the President’s fired FBI director, said President Trump is a serial liar, treats women like ‘meat’ and is a ‘stain’ on all who work for him. President Trump called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end Robert S. Mueller III’s, the special counsel’s inquiry into Russia’s election interference and possible ties to his campaign, saying his lawyer it was an opinion, not an order. President Trump forced the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, tapping Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, seeking U.S. Democrats hearings of the ouster, calling it a move to undermine federal probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. President Trump is becoming after midterm elections even more radical, suspending the White House press pass of CNN reporter after confrontation with the President and warning Democrats against using their new majority in the House of Representatives to investigate him and his administration. Fed Chairman Powell has a high approval rate among corporate chief financial officers, the same can’t be said of President Trump or his trade advisors, according to the latest CNBC Global CFO Council. Accused of wrongdoing the Trump foundation will be resolved. A NBC/Wall Street Journal poll contains that only 43% of Americans approve of the job President Trump is doing, while 54% disapprove; only 28% of Americans think the economy will get better in the next 12 months, while 33% expect it will get worse and 37% believe it will stay about the same, the survey found. Ex-Trump adviser and longtime ally Roger Stone was arrested facing obstruction charge, saying he ‘never will’ turn in Trump; he was indicted by special counsel Mueller over alleged coordination with Trump officials about stolen emails from WikeLeaks with information that would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign. President Trump declared a National Emergency so he could build the border wall, provoking a constitutional clash, urging key GOP Senator Lamar Alexander the President to withdraw his national emergency declaration or face a Republican revolt. President Trump considers the U.S. might be closer to reach a positive trade agreement with China, continuing the negotiations between the two nations. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller declines to clear President Trump and more 2020 Democrats call for impeachment warning of Russian sabotage rejecting President Trump’s ‘witch hunt’ claims. House Democrats issue first subpoena in impeachment inquiry seeking documents and witnesses regarding President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, resigning Kurt Volker, Trump’s envoy for Ukraine; President Trump pressed Ukraine’s President to open inquiries, as a favor, that could benefit him politically, saying a former Ukraine Prime Minister in an interview, that Ukraine must investigate the activities of U.S. Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son to establish whether his role in Ukrainian gas company complied with the country’s laws. The White House declared war on impeachment inquiry, claiming effort to undo Trump’s election. The House voted to endorse the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry into President Trump, setting up a critical public phase of the process.

British PM May, after initiating the ‘Brexit’ process, and Japanese PM Abe, considering the growing threat of North Korea and Chinese military expansion in Asia, depend increasingly on their traditional ally, the United States, advancing President Trump to accept his  international commitments. PM May called for early general elections on June 8, 2017, claiming they are a chance to heal divisions over ‘Brexit’, suggesting new polls she will win comfortably Labour, which is on 28%, trailing her Conservative Party , which is at 47%. Conservatives lead over Labour Party has fallen, showing new polls before election that Conservative Party was on 43%, down 1% from a weak ago, while Labour Party was up 3% to 37%. Britain’s official terror level has been raised to ‘critical’ by PM Theresa May, which means another attack is expected ‘imminently’, after bomber slaughted at least 22 people, including children, at packed pop concert in Manchester, suspending May her election campaign, warning an EU report that more than 1.500 jihadists have returned to Europe with orders ‘to carry out attacks’. After a third terrorist attack in less than three months in Britain its PM May said ‘enough is enough’, vowing to intensify counter terror efforts, clarifying that election on June 8, 2017, would go ahead. Ruling Conservatives lost their parliamentary majority, forming PM May a minority government with the small Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party/DUP, weakening her position just days before negotiations of U.K.’s exit from the U.E. were due to start, agreeing both sides the first day of talks that ‘Brexit’ must be orderly. An explosion on the London Underground is being treated as a terrorist attack, leaving more than 30 people injured. U.K.’s growth will lag behind most of E.U.; accelerating Euro-zone set to outstrip Britain at time of ‘Brexit’, as uncertainty is continuing to weigh on investment in the U.K., while inflation is hitting customer purchasing power; the Euro-zone will mark its best year in a decade and maintain a solid growth well into 2018. The U.K. is expelling 23 Russian diplomats over the poisening of a former spy on British soil in a sharp escalation with Moscow, joining the Trump administration a collective statement with Britain, France and Germany denouncing Russia for its role in a nerve gas attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter. Most of U.K. P.M. May’s Conservative Party members oppose her ‘Brexit’ deal, a recent survey showed. Boris Johnson new British PM in deep crisis saying Brexit will happen by October 31, 2019. PM Johnson won a backing to hold a general election on December 12, 2019, throwing the Brexit debate back to British public; the EU agreed to extend the Brexit deadline until January 31, 2020, with the option for Britain to leave sooner if the Parliament approves Johnson’s divorce deal.

German Chancellor Merkel seeking re-election in 2017, challenged by opposition candidate Martin Schulz, is considered as a strong conservative European leader, criticized for her immigration policy allowing refugees to enter and stay in Germany, pushing now public spending on refugees the economic growth in Germany, most likely will be able to rule for a fourth term of four years as chancellor, as people seek calm and stability. In her first meeting with President Trump deep differences about immigration and world trade got evident. Angela Merkel vowed fight hard to win a fourth term in the German Federal election on September 24, 2017 against her center-left challenger Martin Schulz, after an unexpectedly clear state election victory in the German State of Saarland. Angela Merkel won a fourth term as chancellor, placing her in the front of Germany’s post war leaders, even as her victory was overshadowed by the entry of the far-right party Alternative for Germany/AFD, getting some 13% of the vote, into Parliament for the first time in more than 60 years, while the center-left Social Democrats, Merkel’s coalition partner for the last 4 years, announced that the party would go into opposition, forming Mrs. Merkel probably a coalition with the pro-business minded party of the Free Democrats/FDP, who won some 10,4% of the vote, and eventually with the left-leaning pro-environment party of the Greens, who won about 9%, before ending 2017. German veteran finance minister conservative Wolfgang Schaeuble, deeply respected in Germany, agreed to become president of the parliament, clearing the way for another party to take his job, possibly the Free Democrats/FDP as likely new coalition partners, seen as a decisive step to help Mrs. Merkel to form a new government. After failing coalition talks with Free Democrats and the Greens momentum is growing for another grand coalition after SPD leader Schulz agreed to hold talks with Merkel about reviving their outgoing coalition government. Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union/CDU has thrown its support behind pursuing a new alliance with Social Democrats/SPD, renewing the ‘grand coalition’, stressing Merkel the importance for a stable German government. Slowly Germany begins to ponder life after Merkel, as members of Merkel’s conservatives are starting to look ahead to potential alternatives to lead their party and Germany; the succession debate has been supercharged by the inclusion of a clause in the preliminary coalition deal with SPD that envisages a review of the next government’s progress after two years to assess whether any changes to its mission are needed, seen as a good time for Merkel to resign. Angela Merkel moved closer to a fourth term as German Chancellor, after naming Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as new CDU general secretary, tipped as her successor, and appointing ministers for a renewed coalition with the Social Democrats/SPD, still pending a postal vote of SPD’s 464.000 members in favor or against the deal, expected the results to be announced on Sunday, March 4, 2018. Angela Merkel was sworn in for a fourth term as German Chancellor, approving the Parliament earlier her re-election by 364 votes to 315, after securing a new coalition deal with the Social Democrats/SPD, who succeeded to appoint two pro-European politicians to key posts, the Finance and Foreign Minister. Chancellor Merkel initiated her term with a trip to Paris, visiting French President Macron who is seeking her support for plans to reform the EU. Chancellor Merkel, in a major reversal on immigration, agreed to tighten asylum policies to prevent her government’s collapse, weakening her position still more. Angela Merkel will step down as German Chancellor when her mandate ends in 2021, following recent election setbacks in the state of Hesse and after Merkel’s Bavarian sister party, the CSU, suffered huge losses in a state parliament vote. She also said she would not seek re-election as leader of the central-right CDU party in December 2018, post she holds since 2000, explaining the time has come to open a new chapter. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s preferred candidate Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has been elected as new German CDU party leader, a decision that moves her into pole position to succeed Europe’s most influential leader as Chancellor; Kramp-Karrenbauer dubbed by the opposition as the continuity candidate is known as centrist seeking the party unity. German Chancellor Merkel, 64, has been seen shaking for a third time, but she said, she as very well and there was no need to worry, reacting German media with alarm to Mrs. Merkel’s health scare, becoming now a political issue.

President Putin, the powerful and intriguing Russian leader, an experienced ex-spy chief, used to take advantage of international tensions and conflicts to reinforce and extend Russian presence and power. Apparently helped President Trump to get elected through intensive covered operations and hacking, attacking Trump’s adversary Hillary Clinton. The U.S. taking a sharper tone on Russia’s role in Syria, accusing the Kremlin of cover-up the Syrian’s government culpability in chemical weapons attack, ending Russia hopes of swift detente under President Trump, making state media, which hailed his election win, a U-turn, saying Trump was scarier than North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un. Russian President Trump now is saying, maybe private Russian hackers meddled in U.S. election, remarking ‘anything is possible in this virtual world’, denying again any state role. After President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, now the escalation of a diplomatic crisis in the Middle East, cutting Saudi Arabia and the UAE trade and diplomatic ties with Qatar, accused to support terrorism, expecting Washington Qatar to pledge loyalty to a united GCC, of which it is a member, confronting under Saudi leadership Iran, considered as the worst enemy of the United States. Qatar, where the U.S. military has its largest Middle East airbase, Al-Udeid, rejecting the accusations to cooperate with proponents of terror, wanting just normal relations with its neighbors, is seeking help from Turkey and Iran to secure food and water supply, debating Turkey a law for military support of Qatar. President Putin joking, offering political asylum to former F.B.I. chief Comey, who denounced the Russian interference ‘with purpose’ in the U.S. 2016 election favoring Trump. After the U.S. shot down a Syrian military jet near Racca for bombing near U.S. allied forces on the ground, Russia warned the U.S. that it viewed any planes flying in its areas of operations as potential targets and will track them with missile systems and military aircraft, but stopped short of saying it will shoot them down, while the White House said coalition forces fighting Islamic State militants in Syria retained the right of self-defense. U.S. President Trump signed a bill with new sanctions against Russia, escalating tensions, responding Russian President Putin with an order that the U.S. must cut its diplomatic staff in Russia by 755. Russia’s Vladimir Putin has said he will seek another term as president in the 2018 election; he has been in power since 2000 and if he wins the March 2018 election he will be eligible to serve until 2024. President Putin was re-elected obtaining 75% of the vote, beginning a fourth term and expected to stay in power until 2024. Russia announced to expel 150 diplomats, including 60 Americans, closing Washington’s consulate in Saint Petersburg, in retaliation for Western nation’s response to the poisening of a former spy. President Putin invited President Trump to Moscow, saying ‘be my guest’, after the Helsinki meeting and delaying President Trump for the moment to welcome President Putin in Washington.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, the calm, mostly smiling power seeker, is always ready to confront other world leaders, intending to change global power balance further in favor of China; taking advantage of President Trump’s protectionism and regressive climate politics may be in a position to challenge the U.S. for global leadership, expanding China’s economic and military influence not only in Asia, but also in Europe, Africa, the Arab States of the Persian Gulf and Latin America. To avert a trade war with the United States, Peking is offering concessions, promising more liberalizations to increase accessibility for U.S. companies in China. U.S. officials praised China for stepping up efforts to rein in North Korea, Beijing’s neighbor and ally, announcing North Korea it will continue regularly test missiles and military action against it by the U.S. would prompt ‘all out war’, warning China of ‘storm clouds gathering’ in U.S.-North Korea standoff, urging an end to ‘mutual provocations and threats’, cautioning that tensions on the Korean peninsula could run out of control. China said it warned North Korea it would impose unilateral sanctions should Pyongyang carry out another nuclear test, possibly China’s toughest threat yet against its defiant neighbor. Elected new South Korean leader, liberal politician Moon Jae-in, may bring a more conciliatory approach toward North Korea. After launching North Korea an ICBM that can carry a large and heavy nuclear warhead, President Trump warned China he is willing to pressure Pyongyang on His Own.

After an attack on Champs-Èlysèes injecting more uncertainty into French Presidential election, France voted on April 23, 2017, in the first round of bitterly fought election that could define the future of the E.U.. The outcome, a choice between extremes, will show whether the populist tide that saw Britain vote to leave the E.U. and Donald Trump elected President of the U.S. is still rising, or starting to ebb. The pro-EU Emmanuel Macron, the centrist front-runner and  far-right leader Marine Le Pen are set to face each other in a May 7, 2017-runoff for the French Presidency after coming first and second in the first round, early projections have indicated, seeing opinion polls Macron winning the final clash against Le Pen. The European friendly Macron said the EU must reform or face the prospect of a ‘FREXIT’, making the comments as he and his far-right rival Le Pen entered last week of campaigning. Macron has been elected new French President, succeeding Hollande, keeping France at the center of the EU and reducing uncertainties of the Euro-zone, pledging in his inauguration to restore the country’s lost confidence and to relaunch the flagging European Union, agreeing President Macron with German Chancellor Merkel to draw up a road map to deepen EU integration, despite scepticism in Berlin over his proposed reforms. Chancellor Merkel said she was open to creating Euro-zone budget, inclusively to study the possibility of an Euro-zone Finance Minister as proposed by French President Macron. President Macron won a solid parliamentary majority enabling him to push through necessary reforms. German Chancellor Merkel praised the ideas of French President Macron for reform of the E.U. and said they could form the basis for intensive Franco-German cooperation. Emmanuel Macron says France’s economy needs re-shaping to lure investment and rein in spending, as he strives to persuade Berlin that Paris can be a credible partner with whom to drive European reform. As he revolutionized the French labor market, he is battling with unions calling for strikes, putting pressure on him struggling to shake off criticism that he is ‘president of the rich’. France and Germany want to reach a joint position on Euro-zone reform, including tax convergence, capital markets and the banking union, between March and June 2018. EU’s 27 Finance Ministers, with out Britain, reached a Euro-zone reform deal to fight against a financial crisis, expanding the responsabilities  of the European Stability Mechanism/ESM, but without setting up a European -style IMF. France in problem: the ‘yellow vest’ campaign started as a protest against green taxes on petrol and diesel in November 2018, leading President Macron to scrap them. But despite the u-turn violence including widespread rioting has continued , costing the French economy millions. Eight people are now dead as France’s violent ‘yellow vest’ protests entered their fifth weekend facing tear gas and pepper spray. A movement created on social media with no recognized leadership, has forced President Macron into concessions that were unthinkable a few weeks ago. Protesters say it’s not a confrontation about fuel taxes, or any one issue, it’s first and foremost a way for people to say ‘we exist’, to the elites, to the political class, to those who have forgotten about them for the past 20 years, showing to the rest of Europe that people have some power. Three-quarters of French people are unhappy with the way President Macron and his government  are running the country, with the majority keen to see more measures to boost household incomes, a poll showed recently. As the U.K. moves to leave the E.U., France and Germany signed a new treaty aimed at breathing new life into their place at the center of the European Union, highlighting peace and security, backing the emergence of the European Army, saying French President Macron the challenge was for Europe to become ‘a shield’ against the tumults of the world.

Top -Suchen

November 29, 2019

1.G8 countries – of the 8 nations (actually reduced to G7 as Western sanctions against Russia for its intervention in Ukraine have been extended for another six months) only Canada and Germany continue with a triple A rating from all the three leading U.S. credit rating agencies, since Moody’s and Fitch downgraded Britain to Aa1, downgrading Standard & Poor’s Britain after its vote to exit the EU by two notches from AAA, cutting Moody’s and Fitch France credit rating to Aa1 and Standard & Poor’s further to AA, lowering Standard & Poor’s credit rating of the United States 1 notch to Aa1. Standard & Poor’s credit rating for Germany continues to stand at AAA with a stable outlook, expecting growth remains stable, while Moody’s credit rating for Germany was last set at Aaa with stable outlook and Fitch’s credit rating for Germany was last reported at AAA with stable outlook.

2.Currency composition of official foreign exchange reserves – 2017: Dollar 64,0%, €uro 19,7% (declining), Yen 4,2%, Yuan 1,1%, others 11,0%. Currencies like the Australian, the Canadian and the New Zealand Dollar increased their participation. BIS sees Dollar reserve role as secure but set to shrink, from 65% and 70% to 50% and 60%. The Euro, continuing in the second place, is still seen as no alternative to the Dollar.

3.SSFI program was established to provide stability and prevent disruptions to financial markets from the failure of institutions that are critical to the functioning of the U.S. financial system. The only participating institution getting money through this program was American International Group/AIG keeping it from collapsing, calling the Treasury later the program ‘AIG Investment Program’. The G20 group created the Financial Stability Board/FSB in an ambitious effort to strengthen international prudential standards in response to the financial crisis. The full range of its resolution powers specified in the Key Attributes are available to resolution authorities with responsability for the resolutions of banks that could be systemically significant or critical in the event of failure: Crisis Management Group/CMG, Institution-Specific Cross-Border Cooperation Agreements/COAGs, Recovery and Resolution Plans/RRPs. Meanwhile Europe is launching the ECB as banking supervisor for the Euro-zone, planning a rigorous asset review exercise, which is likely to put pressure on national supervisors outside the banking union countries to be equally, shaping EBA’s ongoing work of monitoring risk weights and any action it takes. Additionally and complying with Basel III big European and U.S. banks will be placed under stricter capital requirements. G20/FSB developed a policy framework and critical policy measures to address the systematic and moral hazard risks associated with systematic important financial institutions/SIFIs, targeting full implementation for 2019.

4.G8 – group of eight leading industrialized nations, representing around 15% of the world population and two-third of the global output, holding Russia the every 12 months rotating presidency this year, replacing Britain January 01, 2014, announcing to host the G8 summit 2014 in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, set for June 4th-5th, after holding the Winter Olympics there. As Ukraine crisis deepens Western countries decided not to attend a preparation meeting for the planned G8 summit in Sochi, announcing EU members of the G8 group to pull out of all preparations for the G8 summit in Sochi, threatening President Obama to ‘isolate Russia’, kicking the country out of the G8 group of leading economies, but opposing Berlin that. The Group of seven leading industrialized nations/G7 is considering meeting in the near future, a move that would exclude Russia, which joined what became the G8 in 1998, saying G7 in a statement that referendum on Crimea’s future is a violation of international law, declaring Crimea independence from Ukraine after official referendum results showed 96,77 of Crimean voted to join Russia, signing President Putin Crimea annexation treaty, calling Crimea an ‘integral’ part of Russia, defying U.S. and EU sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans on officials from Russia and Ukraine, warning Ukraine that conflict with Russia has entered into a ‘military stage’, reaching relations between Russia and the West their lowest point since the end of the ‘Cold War’, planning Ukraine under pressure from Russian troops and local forces to abandon Crimean bases. Russia imposed retaliatory sanctions on nine U.S. officials and lawmakers, signing Putin final Crimea reunification treaty, while Ukraine signed an association agreement with the EU. G7 nations announced that the summit meeting planned for Sochi will now be held in Brussels, without Russia, suspending G7 nations their participation in the G8 until Russia changes course, saying G7 energy ministers will also meet to discuss ways to bolster the countries’ collective energy security, considering the great dependence on Russian oil and gas supplies in nations like Germany and Italy, getting EU about a third of its natural gas supplies from Russia. The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly affirmed Ukraine’s territorial integrity and deemed the referendum that led to Russia’s annexation illegal, announcing the IMF bailout program for Ukraine unlocking amounts to $27 Billion over the next two years. President Putin called President Obama to discuss U.S. proposal for a diplomatic solution to Crimea crisis, urging Obama to withdraw Russian troops from Ukrainian border, saying Russia it has no intention to invade eastern Ukraine, warning European leaders of gas supply cuts over Ukraine’s $2,2 Billion gas debt, accusing the U.S. that Moscow is using energy as ‘tool of coercion’. G7 powers used the first meeting without Russia in 17 years to warn Moscow of further hard-hitting sanctions, demanding that Putin must recognize and negotiate with the new Poroshenko Government in Kiev, stop the flow of weapons from Russia into Ukraine and induce the rebels to lay down their arms. Ukraine signed a historic association agreement with EU, after Georgia and Moldova ratified similar deals, alarming Moscow concerned about losing its influence over former Soviet republics.

4a)Significance of suspending G7 nations their participation in the G8 until Russia changes course: Russia, now the sole remaining member of the G8, considers the group of eight/G8 ‘as an informal club’, saying its mission is over because all the economic and financial problems are now discussed in the group of twenty/G20, retaining Russia its membership. Most European countries remain too fragile to cut off important investment and trade sources, warning, like big EU companies, of imposing stricter trade and financial sanctions on Russia. So far the EU, concerned of Europe’s dependency on Russian natural gas supply, has imposed limited sanctions on Moscow, including travel bans and asset freezes. German Chancellor Merkel, worried that economic sanctions against Russia would negatively affect Germany’s economy, said the Ukraine crisis should be resolved by political means without imposing economic sanctions on Russia. The United States and EU sanctions are especially designed to hurt President Putin’s inner circle, having of course also negative effects on Russia’s weak economy, but continued Western diplomatic pressure and already agreed sanctions may convince Moscow to ease its grip on Ukraine, allowing finally a peaceful settlement with pro-Russian rebels in the east of Ukraine, not ending Putin’s outright annexation of the strategic Black Sea Peninsula Crimea, he considers historically important as part of Russia.

4b)The next G7-summit will take place in Germany June 7 and 8, 2015, and German Chancellor Merkel considers that actually President Putin’s participation seems to be unlikely. EU ratified a new round of asset freezes and travel bans against 19 Ukrainian separatist and Russians, which will come into effect February 16, 2015, regardless of the latest ceasefire deal of Minsk, signed by pro-Russian rebels, and starting at 00:01 local time on February 15, 2015. The truce will be monitored by the OSCE, warning European leaders that Russia faces additional sanctions if the Minsk peace agreement is not respected, saying Ukrainian President Poroshenko there is ‘a long way to go to peace’. France’s President disclosed that EU sanctions against Russia could be loosened step-by-step in exchange for compliance with the Minsk peace agreement. German Chancellor Merkel said that there would be not any Group of 8 meetings with Russia as long as it fails to comply with basic common values of democracy and states based on rules of law. Hours after Germany’s Foreign Minister suggested Russia could be readmitted to the G8, a senior Russian official appeared to rebuff the notion, saying Moscow would rather work with emerging economies than the rich nation’s club, from which it was suspended following its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. G7 leaders agreed to keep sanctions against Russia in Place until PM Putin and Moscow-backed separatists fully respect a ceasefire negotiated in Minsk in February 2015, warning they could escalate sanctions if needed, claiming Russia also Kiev must still fully implement the peace deal. Russia’s PM Medvedev said his country is in a new Cold War with the U.S. and its allies, even as Russia, Europe and the U.S. are suggesting to seek cooperation to end Syria’s civil war, resolve the armed stand-off in eastern Ukraine and make progress toward lifting European economic sanctions against Russia. The G7 summit 2016 in Japan without China and Russia on board left the question open if such a reduced G7 can tackle today’s problems, although some observers defended that like-minded countries are better able to prepare for decisive meetings, such as G20 summit 2016 in China of leading and developing countries, agreeing a common line. German Economy Minister Gabriel urged in June 2016 to quickly allow Russia to rejoin the G7 and turn it back into G8, saying: ‘Russia is an important global player and not a regional power’.

5.ICBC, the world’s biggest bank with a Tier 1 capital of $160.646 Billion per mid-2013, reached an agreement with Standard Bank Group Limited, UK, regarding the sale and purchase of shares in Standard Bank Plc, the largest African Bank, acquiring 60% of existing shares in SB Plc for around $770 Million, having a call option to increase its shareholding to 80% in the future and a put option to buy all of the shares of SB Plc.

6.Germany held G7/G8 Group’s presidency 2015, followed by Japan in 2016. The G7 summit 2017 in Sicily/Italy marked by discords over climate change, but unity on tackling terrorism, intending officials to try to agree the wording with the United States on global trade, as U.S. partners in the G7 club are concerned that President Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda could lead to protectionist measures rolling back decades of liberalization between the world’s advanced economies. German Chancellor Merkel, a ‘convinced trans-Atlanticist’, said it became clear at the G7 summit when there was no agreement with the United States, underlining her doubts about the reliability of the United States as an ally, how long and rocky the path would be, warning President Trump he risked isolating the United States, but stressing that Germany still considered the United States as an ally. President Trump announced the U.S. will pull out of the landmark Paris climate change pact, as French President Macron and German Chancellor Merkel are saying they will defend and seeking to implement the agreement with other states.

7.Fannie Mae – financial sanctions: The Federal Housing Finance Agency filed in 2011 claims against 18 major financial institutions relating to U.S. residential mortgage-backed securities offerings between 2004 and 2007, remaining settlement of 7 suits against various institutions pending, after the latest $9,33 Billion agreement with Bank of America covering $57,5 Billion of private-label residential mortgage-backed securities bought by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

8.BASEL III banking standards – to make financial markets more secure BASEL III is rising global minimum capital standards or levels of minimum common equity to risk weighted assets to 7% and for systemically important banks to 9,5%, complaining especially JP Morgan Chase that rules are not in ‘America’s interest’ and that the U.S. should not submit any more to BASEL rules. The Fed approved final U.S. rules implementing BASEL III capital frame work in July 2013, making the U.S. version of BASEL III due to an enhanced supplementary leverage ratio for covered bank holding companies and their insured depositary institution much stricter for larger U.S. banks than their European competitors and could present a disadvantage for U.S. banks, as U.S. regulators are lobbied to reduce the U.S. requirements. You find more BASEL III comments in: http://1read.me

8a)JP Morgan Chase – living will – for the 8 biggest U.S.banks capital ratio – Tier 1 capital (predominant common shares and retained earnings, perhaps some equity, like nonredeemable preferred shares) will have to be 9,5% to risk-adjusted assets, and new rules could raise the minimum capital ratio for the biggest banks from 9,5% to 11,5%, proposing the Fed regulations against banks that are still thought to be too big to fail in favor of smaller less complex banks. JP Morgan seems to be already at 9,8%. The leverage ratio, seen by the Fed as a crititical backstop to the risk-based capital requirements for banks that rely on risky short-term funding, assets to Tier 1 capital on a bank’s balance sheet (including also off-balance sheet exposures), maintaining a minimum of 5%, while FDIC-insured bank subsidiaries would have to maintain a minimum of 6%, and by 2018 banks must rely more on funding sources such as shareholder equity rather than borrowing money. JP Morgan is predicted to have a shortfall under the new standards of $15,6 Billion. But most banks are already on track to comply and could meet requirements by retaining earnings or could shrink or restructure some assets to reduce capital needs. FDIC insurance covers eligible savings of up to $250.000 per depositor, per insured bank for each account ownership category. Letting banks issue against uninsured deposits over the $250.000 limit so-called contingent capital bonds, bonds that a point of a crisis would be automatically transformed into riskier share equity, would mean to transform creditors into owners of a bank.

9.UK Financial Investment Ltd. (UKFI) – manages the British Government’s investments in the Royal Bank of Scotland/RBS, Lloyds Banking Group (Lloyds) and UK Asset Resolution Ltd. (UKAR), acting on behalf on HM Treasury, its sole shareholder.

10.Algeria -FDI above US$ 2 Billion each year since 2012, mainly in the hydrocarbon sector, as the country’s economy is heavily dependent on the petroleum industry. (Algeria: 15th place in terms of proven oil reserves in the world and 10th place in the world of proven gas reserves). Observers are reporting many corruption scandals involving foreign companies, although they consider the climate for international firms considering direct investments is stabilizing.

11.Chase Bank open Sunday in New York, Downtown, Flushing Main St. 10:00 am – 3:00 pm, San Francisco, Union Square, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, other branches in Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago may also be attending on Sunday, in Miami Chase branches seem to be closed on Sunday.

12.Founders Federal Credit Union, Lancaster, South Carolina, SC 29720 – like all U.S. Federal Credit Unions it is a not-for-profit institution owned by its members, committed to serve its members financial needs, governed by a board of volunteers. The National Credit Union Administration/NCUA, an independent U.S. Government Agency, regulates, charters and insures the Nation’s Federal Credit Unions, which have to demonstrate high standards of safety and soundness in its operations.

13.U.S. bank political appointment – President Obama nominated Allan Landon, a former community banker and Chief Executive of the Bank of Hawai, actually partner of private investment fund Community BanCapital, to a seat on the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Board, responding calls for a greater voice for Main Street in the central bank’s deliberations, concerned that Wall Street holds too much sway.

14.G7 thinking of punishing further Russia../go to 4b).

15.Founders Federal Credit Union/go to 12.

16.Chase Bank, release levy/go to smallbusiness.chron.com/remove-bank-levy-4059.html and to smallbusiness.chron.com/dispute-bank-levy-37255.html

17.Banco Santander, the Euro-zone’s biggest bank, targeting lending push after 4thQ. 2014 profit jump, facing its U.S. unit setbacks in its U.S. operations, remaining under pressure from regulators, after a former Banco Santander SA executive has been indicted for insider trading.

18.HSBC Japan Index Fund Accumulation C. is a fund launched in 1989 with a size of Pound Sterling 279 Million, available in a regular savings plan by investing just Pound Sterling 25 per month, deducting charges from income, investing the fund in companies that make up the FTSE Japan Index providing long-term capital growth.

19.Credit Repair Organizations offering help to boost your credit score and clean up your credit report, working under the ‘Credit Repair Organization Act’, a title of the ‘Consumer Protection Act’; there are many credit repair companies and there are lots of scams. Select a company with a good reputation and money-back guarantee, like SkyBlue Credit Repair, Lexington Law, Credit Repair.com, related with TransUnion.

20.Fed’s QE ended completely October 2014, remaining pending rate hike, which likely happens in the second half of this year. Go to 1read.me/U.S./EU/Euro-zone Economies: United States of America, where you will find more explanations.

21.The NFIP was launched in 1968 and Congress passed a number of laws to strengthen the program. The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 repeals and modifies certain provisions of the Biggert-Water Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, making additional program changes to other aspects of the NFIP.

22.BRIC currency reserve pool $100 Billion – go to 1read.me/BRICS – Countries.

23.Countrywide Financial – has been purchased by BofA – go to U.S.Banks, 1read.me

24.Countrywide mortgage assistance – homeloanhelp.bankofamerica.com – home loan assistance – check my loan status.

25.Lloyds TSB – UK Government’s privatization plan delayed as shares in the bailed-out bank are trading below the Government’s break-even price, falling below 69p, ordering to sell the share whenever the price is above 73.6p, the level at which the state bailed out Lloyds in 2008; small investors may be granted a discount of 5p. In the wake of the ‘Brexit’ vote Britain’s Government has scrapped plans to sell stakes in Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds in 2016, leaving disposal plans until 2017 at the earliest. Today/17.05.2017 the British Government has sold its last shares in Lloyds Banking Group, which was bailed out in 2008 at a cost of 20,3 Billion Pounds, handing the state a 43% stake in the bank, which now returned fully back in private hands, continuing BlackRock as the bank’s biggest stakeholder with around 7%, rising shares 0,8% to 70,69 pence. The Government still owns 73% of Royal Bank of Scotland, which was rescued with 45,5 Billion pounds of taxpayers’ cash.

25.a)Lloyds share savings plan maturing June 2016 – oil price declines, oil-related default fears, growth concerns and a general aversion to lower-quality bonds have combined to produce high-yield bond price declines, putting pressure on the banking sector; still ECB considers European banks far more solid than a few years ago as they have significantly strengthened their capital positions; Lloyds is attempting to streamline its business as it prepares to return fully to the private sector; the British Government has reduced its stake from more than 40% to less than 10%, with a deadline of June 2016 being set to complete the task of offloading the taxpayer’s interest; that selloff is now officially on hold and postponed until markets have calmed, as shares fell as low as 60p. and even after rising to 62.4p. the stock remains well below the Government’s bailout breakeven price of 73.6p.; full year result of the bank is due in March 2016, eventually including an additional allocation for compensation claims relating to payment protection insurance mis-selling by another 2 Billion pounds, putting in doubt hopes for a special dividend payout; however an expected positive result of Lloyds, half way through a bigger plan to close 200 branches and cut 9.000 jobs to reduce costs and take more of the business online, could put Government’s sales plans back on track; stock markets likely remain volatile in 2016, following the economy, continuing China as the epicentre of current market instability.

26.BlackBerry’s transformation into a cross-platform, security-focused software and services company advanced, reporting for the third quarter ended November 28, 2015 total revenue of $557 Million, up 14% over the previous quarter, growing the software and services revenue 183% year-over-year and 119% quarter over quarter.

27.Bank of America Merrill Lynch – one of the five largest investment banks in the U.K. paying no corporation tax at all in 2014, despite booking billions of pounds in profits, by using tax breaks and offsetting previous losses against any gains. The bank has about $8 Billion in tax assets to use against tax following the $34 Billion of losses it incurred in the U.K. in 2007 and 2008. However tax regime is changing fast and being forced to adopt to a more fit-for-purpose model, forcing foreign companies to pay more tax. BofA will post a $600 Million pretax write-down in the 4thQ. 2015 as it redeems $2 Billion of trust preferred securities, paying holders 7% to 7,28%, tied to its 2009 acquisition of Merrill Lynch, expecting to realize cash savings from lower funding costs as a results of the redemption.

28.EMU Direct Governments – predominantly in Euro denominated sovereign bonds  with a maturity of up to 10 years of the European Economic and Monetary Union/EMU countries, comprising actually 16 nations of the Euro-area; representative indices available measuring the performance of Euro-denominated Government debt of EMU nations: CITI EMU Government Bond Index/EGBI 1-3 years, Schroder International Selection Fund, SISF Euro Government Bond, Bank of America Merrill Lynch EMU Direct Government Index.

29.PEMEX – refined fuel theft and oil duct illegal tapping – one of the most concerning issues, however making a gloomy economic outlook an implementation of highly needed projects to protect the oil infrastructure difficult for PEMEX and the Mexican Government; PEMEX officials estimate that 8,5 Million fuel barrels are drained from the more than 35.000 km long PEMEX national pipeline network, elevating today the costs of thefts to be at around $1,29 Billion.

30.QATAR – diplomatic crisis in the Middle East; President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia signaled the green light for an aggressive action by the Saudis and Emirati bloc against Qatar, which became a central target for apparently supporting terrorism, rejected by the country’s leader. The U.S. publicly backed the efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council/GCC members to get Qatar to come back to the agreed common GCC pledge of fighting terror, refusing to cooperate with the proponents of terror and ensuring that there is a united front against Iran’s malignant meddling in the internal affairs of Arab states, reiterating that a united GCC, of which Qatar is a member, and a strong United States – Gulf Cooperation Council partnership are critical to defeating terrorism and promoting regional stability. Qatar, where the U.S. military has its largest Middle East Air Base, Al-Udeid, is not necessarily prepared to support a united GCC under Saudi leadership pledging loyalty to confront Iran, as expected by President Trump, preferring to maintain normal relations with its neighbors, and is talking to Iran and Turkey about securing food and water supplies to avoid possibles shortages two days after its biggest suppliers, the United Arab Emirates/UAE and Saudi Arabia cut trade and diplomatic ties, confirming Turkish exporters they are ready to meet Qatar’s food and water demand, debating Turkey a law for military support of Qatar. Escalating diplomatic crisis President Trump now accused Qatar of being a ‘high-level’ sponsor of terrorism, potentially hindering the U.S. Department of State’s efforts to ease heightening tensions and a blockade of the Gulf nation by Arab states and others, defending notably the position of Saudi Arabia; according to German Chancellor Merkel all Gulf nations and also Iran and Turkey should work together to find a solution to the regional dispute. Qatar said it will not negotiate with its neighbors to resolve Gulf dispute unless they first lift the trade and travel boycott they imposed. Ignoring its previous terrorist accusations of Doha, the business- and America first-minded Trump administration approved to sell $12 Billion of warplanes to Qatar, after signing a military agreement  worth up to $110 Billion with Saudi Arabia. Four Arab states that imposed a boycott on Qatar have issued an ultimatum to close Al Jazeera television, curb ties with Iran, shut a Turkish base and pay reparations, aggressive demands making it difficult to settle conflict, recommending the United States any demands should be ‘reasonable and actionable’. Saudi Arabia has led the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt in demanding that Qatar cuts ties with Tehran in return for lifting boycott they have currently imposed on the nation. The State of Qatar expressed its aspirations to strengthen bilateral relations with Iran, not bowing to the regional pressure placed upon it. While Saudi Arabia and its allies accused Iran of interfering in Arab states such as Iraq and Yemen, claiming Tehran’s increasing influence has destabilized the region, Iran claims it is helping fight Sunni extremists and accused Saudi Arabia of backing insurgents. Qatar ramps up air and  sea power, saying dispute with neighbors requires greater self-reliance. Qatar, OPEC’s smallest oil producer but the world’s biggest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter said it will withdraw from the Saudi influenced OPEC effective January 1, 2019 to focus on gas.

31.CUBA – The end of the Castro-era in Cuba, stepping down Raul Castro as President, taking over his chosen successor Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, a Communist Party loyalist.

32.Hong Kong’s leader is backing down after huge protests and will suspend a bill allowing extraditions to China.

33.Fires a raging in the Amazon at a rate scientists have never seen before, burning the largest rain-forest in the world, roughly the size of the U.S. and a key to the health of the entire planet, mobilizing Brazil and the world soldiers and finances in response.