China

People take pictures of paramilitary officers marching in formation in Tiananmen Square in Beijing
People take pictures of paramilitary officers marching in formation in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

May 26, 2019

By Cate Cadell

BEIJING (Reuters) – It’s the most sensitive day of the year for China’s internet, the anniversary of the bloody June 4 crackdown on pro-democracy protests at Tiananmen Square, and with under two weeks to go, China’s robot censors are working overtime.

Censors at Chinese internet companies say tools to detect and block content related to the 1989 crackdown have reached unprecedented levels of accuracy, aided by machine learning and voice and image recognition.

“We sometimes say that the artificial intelligence is a scalpel, and a human is a machete,” said one content screening employee at Beijing Bytedance Co Ltd, who asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak to media.

Two employees at the firm said censorship of the Tiananmen crackdown, along with other highly sensitive issues including Taiwan and Tibet, is now largely automated.

Posts that allude to dates, images and names associated with the protests are automatically rejected.

“When I first began this kind of work four years ago there was opportunity to remove the images of Tiananmen, but now the artificial intelligence is very accurate,” one of the people said.

Four censors, working across Bytedance, Weibo Corp and Baidu Inc apps said they censor between 5,000-10,000 pieces of information a day, or five to seven pieces a minute, most of which they said were pornographic or violent content.

Despite advances in AI censorship, current-day tourist snaps in the square are sometimes unintentionally blocked, one of the censors said.

Bytedance declined to comment, while Weibo and Baidu did not respond to requests for comment.

SENSITIVE PERIOD

The Tiananmen crackdown is a taboo subject in China 30 years after the government sent tanks to quell student-led protests calling for democratic reforms. Beijing has never released a death toll but estimates from human rights groups and witnesses range from several hundred to several thousand.

June 4th itself is marked by a cat-and-mouse game as people use more and more obscure references on social media sites, with obvious allusions blocked immediately. In some years, even the word “today” has been scrubbed.

In 2012, China’s most-watched stock index fell 64.89 points on the anniversary day https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-stocks-tiananmen-idUSBRE8530F720120604, echoing the date of the original event in what analysts said was likely a strange coincidence rather than a deliberate reference.

Still, censors blocked access to the term “Shanghai stock market” and to the index numbers themselves on microblogs, along with other obscure references to sensitive issues.

While companies censorship tools are becoming more refined, analysts, academics and users say heavy-handed policies mean sensitive periods before anniversaries and political events have become catch-alls for a wide range of sensitive content.

In the lead-up to this year’s Tiananmen Square anniversary, censorship on social media has targeted LGBT groups, labor and environment activists and NGOs, they say.

Upgrades to censorship tech have been urged on by new policies introduced by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC). The group was set up – and officially led – by President Xi Jinping, whose tenure has been defined by increasingly strict ideological control of the internet.

The CAC did not respond to a request for comment.

Last November, the CAC introduced new rules aimed at quashing dissent online in China, where “falsifying the history of the Communist Party” on the internet is a punishable offence for both platforms and individuals.

The new rules require assessment reports and site visits for any internet platform that could be used to “socially mobilize” or lead to “major changes in public opinion”, including access to real names, network addresses, times of use, chat logs and call logs.

One official who works for CAC told Reuters the recent boost in online censorship is “very likely” linked to the upcoming anniversary.

“There is constant communication with the companies during this time,” said the official, who declined to directly talk about the Tiananmen, instead referring to the “the sensitive period in June”.

Companies, which are largely responsible for their own censorship, receive little in the way of directives from the CAC, but are responsible for creating guidelines in their own “internal ethical and party units”, the official said.

SECRET FACTS

With Xi’s tightening grip on the internet, the flow of information has been centralized under the Communist Party’s Propaganda Department and state media network. Censors and company staff say this reduces the pressure of censoring some events, including major political news, natural disasters and diplomatic visits.

“When it comes to news, the rule is simple… If it is not from state media first, it is not authorized, especially regarding the leaders and political items,” said one Baidu staffer.

“We have a basic list of keywords which include the 1989 details, but (AI) can more easily select those.”

Punishment for failing to properly censor content can be severe.

In the past six weeks, popular services including a Netease Inc news app, Tencent Holdings Ltd’s news app TianTian, and Sina Corp have all been hit with suspensions ranging from days to weeks, according to the CAC, meaning services are made temporarily unavailable on apps stores and online.

For internet users and activists, penalties can range from fines to jail time for spreading information about sensitive events online.

In China, social media accounts are linked to real names and national ID numbers by law, and companies are legally compelled to offer user information to authorities when requested.

“It has become normal to know things and also understand that they can’t be shared,” said one user, Andrew Hu. “They’re secret facts.”

In 2015, Hu spent three days in detention in his home region of Inner Mongolia after posting a comment about air pollution onto an unrelated image that alluded to the Tiananmen crackdown on Twitter-like social media site Weibo.

Hu, who declined to use his full Chinese name to avoid further run-ins with the law, said when police officers came to his parents house while he was on leave from his job in Beijing he was surprised, but not frightened.

“The responsible authorities and the internet users are equally confused,” said Hu. “Even if the enforcement is irregular, they know the simple option is to increase pressure.”

(Reporting by Cate Cadell. Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

Source: OANN

U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wave on the way to the course to play golf at Mobara Country Club in Mobara, Chiba Prefecture
U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wave on the way to the course to play golf at Mobara Country Club in Mobara, Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, Japan May 26, 2019. Kimimasa Mayama/Pool via Reuters

May 26, 2019

By Jeff Mason

CHIBA, Japan (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump kicked off the second day of a Japan visit on Sunday with a round of golf with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, engaging in personal diplomacy aimed at smoothing tough discussions over differences on trade.

Trump, dressed in a red pullover, and Abe, wearing a blue blazer and white pants, met on a lawn and smiled for photographers before taking off for their game.

Abe’s office later posted a “selfie” picture on the course with Trump and Abe smiling together. Abe said in the post he hoped to make the Japan-U.S. alliance “even more unshakeable.”

The president’s state visit is meant to showcase the strength of the Japan-U.S. relationship, but tensions over trade have provided a backdrop of uncertainty.

Trump is unhappy with Japan’s large trade surplus and is considering putting high tariffs on its auto exports if a bilateral trade agreement is not reached. The United States and China are engaged in an expensive trade war that has pounded financial markets worldwide.

During remarks to business leaders on Saturday night, Trump ribbed Japan over its trading “edge” while saying progress had been made.

“With this deal, we hope to address the trade imbalance, remove barriers to United States exports, and ensure fairness and reciprocity in our relationship. And we’re getting closer,” he said.

“Just last week, U.S. beef exports gained full access to Japan and to the markets in Japan for the first time since the year 2000. We welcome your support in these efforts, and we hope to have several further announcements soon, and some very big ones over the next few months.”

Fox News reported on Sunday that Trump planned to wait until after Japanese elections in July to push for a trade deal, and officials have played down prospects of any major progress on the president’s trip.

The two leaders are also likely to discuss North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. Trump said on Sunday he was not concerned about recent missile launches from North Korea and was confident that the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, would keep his promises.

After their golf game, Abe and Trump will attend a sumo tournament.

“I’ve always found that fascinating,” Trump said about Japan’s national sport during a meeting with Abe in Washington last month. “So, in fact, we’re having a trophy made in this country. We’re going to give the trophy to the winner of the championship.”

That trophy, now finished, weighs 60-70 pounds and is being called the “President’s Cup,” according to a White House official.

Trump will be the first U.S. president to attend such a tournament, according to another U.S. official, and the first to present a cup in the ring.

He is attending the final day of a 15-day tournament.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Source: OANN

U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wave on the way to the course to play golf at Mobara Country Club in Mobara, Chiba Prefecture
U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wave on the way to the course to play golf at Mobara Country Club in Mobara, Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, Japan May 26, 2019. Kimimasa Mayama/Pool via Reuters

May 26, 2019

By Jeff Mason

CHIBA, Japan (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump kicked off the second day of a Japan visit on Sunday with a round of golf with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, engaging in personal diplomacy aimed at smoothing tough discussions over differences on trade.

Trump, dressed in a red pullover, and Abe, wearing a blue blazer and white pants, met on a lawn and smiled for photographers before taking off for their game.

Abe’s office later posted a “selfie” picture on the course with Trump and Abe smiling together. Abe said in the post he hoped to make the Japan-U.S. alliance “even more unshakeable.”

The president’s state visit is meant to showcase the strength of the Japan-U.S. relationship, but tensions over trade have provided a backdrop of uncertainty.

Trump is unhappy with Japan’s large trade surplus and is considering putting high tariffs on its auto exports if a bilateral trade agreement is not reached. The United States and China are engaged in an expensive trade war that has pounded financial markets worldwide.

During remarks to business leaders on Saturday night, Trump ribbed Japan over its trading “edge” while saying progress had been made.

“With this deal, we hope to address the trade imbalance, remove barriers to United States exports, and ensure fairness and reciprocity in our relationship. And we’re getting closer,” he said.

“Just last week, U.S. beef exports gained full access to Japan and to the markets in Japan for the first time since the year 2000. We welcome your support in these efforts, and we hope to have several further announcements soon, and some very big ones over the next few months.”

Fox News reported on Sunday that Trump planned to wait until after Japanese elections in July to push for a trade deal, and officials have played down prospects of any major progress on the president’s trip.

The two leaders are also likely to discuss North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. Trump said on Sunday he was not concerned about recent missile launches from North Korea and was confident that the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, would keep his promises.

After their golf game, Abe and Trump will attend a sumo tournament.

“I’ve always found that fascinating,” Trump said about Japan’s national sport during a meeting with Abe in Washington last month. “So, in fact, we’re having a trophy made in this country. We’re going to give the trophy to the winner of the championship.”

That trophy, now finished, weighs 60-70 pounds and is being called the “President’s Cup,” according to a White House official.

Trump will be the first U.S. president to attend such a tournament, according to another U.S. official, and the first to present a cup in the ring.

He is attending the final day of a 15-day tournament.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Source: OANN

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama arrives for his visit to the Tibet Institute Rikon in Rikon
FILE PHOTO: Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama arrives for his visit to the Tibet Institute Rikon in Rikon, Switzerland September 21, 2018. REUTERS/ Arnd Wiegmann

May 26, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – China should hold talks with Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad told Chinese officials during a trip to the Himalayan region where he criticized Beijing for interfering in religious freedom.

Branstad visited Tibet last week, the first such trip by a U.S. ambassador since 2015, amid escalating trade and diplomatic tension between the two countries.

His visit followed the passing of a U.S. law in December that requires the United States to deny visas to Chinese officials in charge of implementing policies that restrict access to Tibet for foreigners, legislation that was denounced by China.

Branstad met Chinese government officials and Tibetan religious and cultural figures, and “raised our long-standing concerns about lack of consistent access” to Tibet, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said in an emailed statement on Saturday.

“He encouraged the Chinese government to engage in substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, without preconditions, to seek a settlement that resolves differences,” an embassy spokeswoman said.

“He also expressed concerns regarding the Chinese government’s interference in Tibetan Buddhists’ freedom to organize and practise their religion,” she said.

Beijing sent troops into remote, mountainous Tibet in 1950 in what it officially terms a peaceful liberation and has ruled there with an iron fist ever since.

The Dalai Lama fled to India in early 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, and Beijing still brands him a dangerous separatist. China says its leaders have the right to approve his successor, as a legacy from China’s emperors.

But the 83-year-old Nobel peace laureate monk, who lives in exile in the northern Indian hill town of Dharamshala, has said that his incarnation could be found in India after he dies, and that any other successor named by China would not be respected.

Tibetan tradition holds that the soul of a senior Buddhist monk is reincarnated in the body of a child on his death.

China’s Foreign Ministry said last week that the government welcomed Branstad’s visit, but that China hoped the ambassador would not take any “prejudices” with him on the trip.

In December, China criticized the United States for passing the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, which seeks to promote access to Tibet for U.S. diplomats and other officials, journalists and other citizens by denying U.S. entry for Chinese officials deemed responsible for restricting access to Tibet.

The U.S. government is required to begin denying visas by the end of this year.

(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Source: OANN

A man casts his vote during European Parliament election in Riga
A man casts his vote during European Parliament election in Riga, Latvia, May 25, 2019. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

May 25, 2019

By Alastair Macdonald

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Europeans vote on Sunday in an election expected to further dent traditional pro-EU parties and bolster the nationalist fringe in the European Parliament, putting a potential brake on collective action in economic and foreign policy.

Right-wing populists top opinion polls in two of the big four member states – Italy and supposedly exiting Britain – and could also win in a third, France, rattling a pro-Union campaign championed by centrist President Emmanuel Macron.

However, exit polls in some countries that have already voted have given pro-EU parties some comfort. The Dutch Labour party, all but written off, looks to have finished first, helped by the visibility of having the EU socialists’ lead candidate, current EU deputy chief executive Frans Timmermans.

In the Netherlands, pro-Union parties scored 70%, up three points on the last European Parliament vote in 2014, and left the upstart anti-immigration party of Thierry Baudet fourth on 11%.

The Dutch also turned out in bigger numbers, albeit at just 41%, reinforcing hopes in Brussels of reversing a 40-year trend of declining turnout that critics cite as a “democratic deficit” that undermines the legitimacy of European Union lawmaking.

An exit poll after Friday’s vote in deeply pro-EU Ireland pointed to an expected “Green Wave”. Across the bloc, concerns about climate change and the environment may bolster the pro-EU Greens group and could mean tighter regulations for industry and for the terms the EU may set for partners seeking trade accords.

Britain also voted on Thursday and a new party focused on getting out of the EU was forecast by pre-vote opinion polls to come top, but there has been no exit poll data. Attention there has focused on the resignation of Prime Minister Theresa May. Results will be out late on Sunday, when all countries have voted.

WAY AHEAD UNCLEAR

The challenges facing the European project include unprecedented transatlantic slights from a U.S. president who fetes Europe’s populists, border rows among its own members over migrants and an economy hobbled by public debt and challenged by the rise of China.

But parties seeking collective action on shared issues such as trade, security, migration or climate change should still dominate, albeit with a smaller overall majority.

Europeans are preparing to remember events that shaped the Union. It is 75 years since Americans landed in France to defeat Nazi Germany and since Russian forces let the Germans crush a Polish bid for freedom, and 30 since Germans smashed the Berlin Wall to reunite east and west Europe. But memories of wars, hot and cold, have not sufficed to build faith in a united future.

Mainstream parties pushing closer integration of the euro currency zone’s economy are struggling to capture the imagination of a public jaded by political elites.

Matteo Salvini’s League in Italy may pip the Christian Democrats of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the bloc’s power broker, to become the biggest single party in the 751-seat chamber.

Right-wing ruling parties in Poland and Hungary, defying Brussels over curbs to judicial and media independence, will also return eurosceptic lawmakers on Sunday.

The results should be clear by late on Sunday, with exit polls in Germany at 1600 GMT and France at 1800 GMT setting the tone before the final end of voting, in Italy at 2100 GMT, sees the Parliament publish its own seat forecast.

The result will usher in weeks of bargaining among parties to form a stable majority in the Parliament, and among national leaders to choose successors to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and other top EU officials.

Many expect a clash as early as Tuesday, when leaders meeting in Brussels are likely to snub Parliament’s demands that one of the newly elected lawmakers should run the EU executive.

(EU election graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/2HvZs1M)

(Reporting by Alastair MacDonald; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Source: OANN

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Primarily through his son Hunter, former vice president and now 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden has been “offshoring” corruption, contends investigative journalist and author Peter Schweizer.

He explains in the first episode of a new series called “The Drill Down with Peter Schweizer” that bank documents entered in a court case “shed light on just how much money [foreign] oligarchs were sending to the Biden family while he was vice president.”

As WND reported in an interview story, Schweizer’s 2018 bestselling book “Secret Empires: How Our Politicians Hide Corruption and Enrich Their Families and Friends” spells out the financial deals Hunter Biden’s private equity firm secured in Ukraine and China while his father, as vice president, was negotiating U.S. foreign policy with those countries.

Schweizer’s book centers on what he calls “corruption by proxy,” in which family and friends of powerful political figures position themselves as middlemen, creating “previously unimaginable pathways to wealth.”

Regarding the Bidens, the records of just one bank account show $3.1 million from the Ukrainians flowed in over an 18-month period, Schweizer said.

“There was $142,000 that showed up from a Kazakh oligarch, and then there was a mysterious $1.2 million from a limited liability company that nobody seems to know where it exists [and] that funneled the money to a small Swiss bank that has been implicated in international money laundering,” Schweizer said.

Flowing out of the account, he said, is “hundreds of thousands of dollars into the personal banking accounts of Hunter Biden himself.”

Read more at https://www.wnd.com/2019/05/biden-money-trail-exposed-in-court-documents/#zwiLlZRsRRdDYVwP.99

Spread the love

Primarily through his son Hunter, former vice president and now 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden has been “offshoring” corruption, contends investigative journalist and author Peter Schweizer.

He explains in the first episode of a new series called “The Drill Down with Peter Schweizer” that bank documents entered in a court case “shed light on just how much money [foreign] oligarchs were sending to the Biden family while he was vice president.”

As WND reported in an interview story, Schweizer’s 2018 bestselling book “Secret Empires: How Our Politicians Hide Corruption and Enrich Their Families and Friends” spells out the financial deals Hunter Biden’s private equity firm secured in Ukraine and China while his father, as vice president, was negotiating U.S. foreign policy with those countries.

Schweizer’s book centers on what he calls “corruption by proxy,” in which family and friends of powerful political figures position themselves as middlemen, creating “previously unimaginable pathways to wealth.”

Regarding the Bidens, the records of just one bank account show $3.1 million from the Ukrainians flowed in over an 18-month period, Schweizer said.

“There was $142,000 that showed up from a Kazakh oligarch, and then there was a mysterious $1.2 million from a limited liability company that nobody seems to know where it exists [and] that funneled the money to a small Swiss bank that has been implicated in international money laundering,” Schweizer said.

Flowing out of the account, he said, is “hundreds of thousands of dollars into the personal banking accounts of Hunter Biden himself.”

Read more at https://www.wnd.com/2019/05/biden-money-trail-exposed-in-court-documents/#zwiLlZRsRRdDYVwP.99

Illustration picture showing U.S. dollar and China's yuan banknotes
A U.S. dollar banknote featuring American founding father Benjamin Franklin and a China’s yuan banknote featuring late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong are seen among U.S. and Chinese flags in this illustration picture taken May 20, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee/Illustration

May 25, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – The United States has called on China to curb the development of its state-owned enterprises (SOEs), a demand that China sees as an “invasion” on its economic sovereignty, Chinese state news agency Xinhua said on Saturday.

Trade tensions between Washington and Beijing escalated sharply earlier this month after the Trump administration accused China of having “reneged” on its previous promises to make structural changes to its economic practices.

Washington later slapped additional tariffs of up to 25% on $200 billion of Chinese goods, prompting Beijing to retaliate.

As trade talks stalled, both sides have appeared to be digging in. China has denied it had walked back on its promises but reiterated it would not make concessions to “matters of principles” to defend its core interests, although no full details were given.

“At the negotiating table, the U.S. government presented a number of arrogant demands to China, including restricting the development of state-owned enterprises,” Xinhua said in a commentary.

SOEs in China enjoy not only explicit subsidies but also hidden benefits such as implicit government guarantees for debts and lower interest for bank loans, analysts and trade groups say.

“Obviously, this is beyond the scope of trade negotiations and touches on China’s fundamental economic system,” Xinhua said.

“This shows that behind the United States’ trade war against China, it is trying to invade China’s economic sovereignty and force China to damage its core interests.”

The commentary added the United States has made unfounded accusations including that Beijing had forced technology transfers from foreign firms operating in China, saying this is all evidence that the U.S side is “forcing China to change its development path.”

(Reporting by Yawen Chen and Ryan Woo; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Source: OANN

Nigeria's Onome Ebi sits on the pitch during their women's first-round group F soccer match against Brazil at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
Nigeria’s Onome Ebi sits on the pitch during their women’s first-round group F soccer match against Brazil at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 12, 2008. REUTERS/Ceerwan Aziz

May 25, 2019

LAGOS (Reuters) – Defender Onome Ebi was named to play at her fifth women’s World Cup when she was included on Saturday in Nigeria’s squad for next month’s finals in France.

Ebi, 36, first competed at the 2003 women’s World Cup in the U.S. and then at subsequent editions in China, Germany and Canada.

She is the first African to achieve the feat.

Three-time African women’s Footballer of the Year Asisat Oshoala will be the Super Falcons’ key player as they take on Norway in Reims on June 8 and then South Korea and hosts France in Group A.

She featured for Barcelona in the women’s Champions League final defeat to Olympique Lyonnais in Budapest last week.

The Nigerian squad features 15 foreign-based players in a much-changed look since Swedish-born coach Thomas Dennerby took over 18 months ago.

Nigeria have been past the first round only once in seven previous World Cup finals appearances.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Alaba Jonathan (Bayelsa Queens), Chiamaka Nnadozie, Tochukwu Oluehi (both Rivers Angels)

Defenders: Ngozi Ebere (Arna Bjornar), Onome Ebi (Henan Huisanhang), Faith Michael (Pitea IF), Osinachi Ohale (Vaxjo), Chidinma Okeke (FC Robo)

Midfielders: Halimatu Ayinde (Eskilstuna United), Rita Chikwelu (Kristianstand), Ogonna Chukwudi (Djurgardens), Evelyn Nwabuoku (Rivers Angels), Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene (Eskilstuna United), Amarachi Okoronkwo (Nasarawa Amazons)

Forwards: Rasheedat Ajibade (Alvadsnes), Chinwendu Ihezuo (Henana Huisanhang), Anam Imo (Malmo FC Rosengard), Uchenna Kanu (Southeastern University), Alice Ogebe (Rivers Angels), Desire Oparanozie (En Avant Guingamp), Francisca Ordega (Shanghai W), Asisat Oshoala (Barcelona), Chinaza Uchendu (Sporting Braga).

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Clare Fallon)

Source: OANN

The Economic Innovation Group’s (EIG) Distressed Communities Index (DCI) shows a significant economic transformation (from two distinct periods: 2007-2011 and 2012-2016) that occurred since the financial crisis. The shift of human capital, job creation, and business formation to metropolitan areas reveals that rural America is teetering on the edge of collapse.

Since the crisis, the number of people living in prosperous zip codes expanded by 10.2 million, to a total of 86.5 million, an increase that was much greater than any other social class. Meanwhile, the number of Americans living in distressed zip codes decreased to 3.4 million, to a total of 50 million, the smallest shift of any other social class. This indicates that the geography of economic pain is in rural America.

“While the overall population in distressed zip codes declined, the number of rural Americans in that category increased by nearly 1 million between the two periods. Rural zip codes exhibited the most volatility and were by far the most likely to be downwardly mobile on the index, with 30 percent dropping into a lower quintile of prosperity—nearly twice the proportion of urban zip codes that fell into a lower quintile.

Meanwhile, suburban communities registered the greatest stability, with 61 percent remaining in the same quintile over both periods. Urban zip codes were the most robust—least likely to decline and more likely than their suburban counterparts to rise,” the report said.

Visualizing the collapse: Economic distress was mostly centered in the Southeast, Rust Belt, and South Central. In Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and West Virginia, at least one-third of the population were located in distressed zip codes.

Prosperous zip codes were the top beneficiaries of the jobs recovery since the financial crisis. All zip codes saw job declines during the recession, each laying off several million jobs from 2007 to 2010. But by 2016, prosperous zip codes had 3.6 million jobs surplus over 2007 levels, which was more than the bottom 80% of distressed zip codes combined. It took five years for prosperous zip codes to replace all jobs lost from the financial crisis; meanwhile, distressed zip codes will never recover.

EIG shows that less than 25% of all counties have recovered from business closures from the recession.

“US business formation has been dismal in both magnitude and distribution since the Great Recession. The country’s population is almost evenly split between counties that have fully replaced (with 161 million residents) and those that have not (with 157.4 million). This divide is due to the fact that highly populous counties—those with more than 500,000 residents—were far more likely to add businesses above and beyond 2007 levels than their smaller peers. Nearly three in every five large counties added businesses on net over the period, compared to only one in every five small one,” the report said.

To highlight the weak recovery and geographic unevenness of new business formation, EIG shows that the entire country had 52,800 more business establishments in 2016 than it did in 2007.

Five counties (Los Angeles, CA; Brooklyn, NY; Harris, TX (Houston); Queens, NY; and Miami-Dade, FL. ) had a combined 55,500 more businesses in 2016 than before the recession. Without those five counties, the US economy would not have recovered.

On top of deep structural changes in rural America, JPMorgan told clients last week that the entire agriculture complex is on the verge of disaster, with farmers in rural America caught in the crossfire of an escalating trade war.

“Overall, this is a perfect storm for US farmers,” JPMorgan analyst Ann Duignan warned investors.

Farmers are facing tremendous headwinds, including a worsening trade war, collapsing soybean exports to China, global oversupply conditions, and crop yield losses in the Midwest due to flooding. This all comes at a time when farmers are defaulting and missing payments at alarming rates, forcing regional banks to restructure and refinance existing loans.

Today’s downturn of rural America is no different than what happened in the 1920s, 1930s, and the early 1980s.


Trump hit China with 25% on more than half of their exports. The stock market panicked this week. Here’s why you should celebrate…

Source: InfoWars


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