As former vice president Joe Biden prepares to launch his 2020 presidential campaign on Thursday, his long public record working for gun control has been consistently in line with the values of today’s Democratic Party, but potential political danger lurks for him even on this issue, NBC News reported on Wednesday.

As a Delaware senator and ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Biden voted in favor of the Firearm Owners Protection Act in 1986, which the NRA has called “the law that saved gun rights.”

Reflecting a vastly different era decades ago, when compromise was common in the Senate and guns were less of a partisan and emotional issue, the act passed by a wide margin.

It overturned six Supreme Court rulings and various regulations, leaving a legacy as one of the most important gun laws of the past century and a major political boost for the growing gun rights movement.

The act allowed dealers to sell rifles, shotguns and ammunition through the mail and limited federal inspections of firearms dealers while allowing them to sell at gun shows.

Biden praised it at the time as a “balanced piece of legislation that protects the rights of private gun owners while not infringing on law enforcement’s ability to deal with those who misuse guns or violate laws,” adding that “I have never believed that additional gun control or Federal registration of guns would reduce crime.”

Biden spokesman Bill Russo said “Cherry-picking an out of context quote from 1986 doesn’t even begin to address Joe Biden’s unparalleled record on gun safety. Let’s be clear on the facts: Joe Biden took on the NRA and won – twice.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Theresa May holds a news conference following an extraordinary European Union leaders summit to discuss Brexit, in Brussels, Belgium April 11, 2019.
FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Theresa May holds a news conference following an extraordinary European Union leaders summit to discuss Brexit, in Brussels, Belgium April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

April 24, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s governing Conservative Party will not change the rules governing leadership challenges but demanded a clear timetable for Prime Minister Theresa May’s departure if her Brexit deal is rejected in parliament, a lawmaker at a party meeting said.

The executive of the so-called 1922 Committee, which groups Conservative lawmakers, met on Wednesday to discuss whether to change the leadership rules after some demanded a change to oust May from her post earlier than current procedures allow.

But a Conservative lawmaker at a broader meeting of the 1922 Committee said the executive had told lawmakers that there would be no change to the rules, but that the committee would call for a “clear schedule” for May’s departure if her Brexit deal is not passed in parliament.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Kylie MacLellan; editing by William James)

Source: OANN

Italy's Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi talks to journalists during the Foreign ministers of G7 nations meeting in Dinard
Italy’s Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi talks to journalists during the Foreign ministers of G7 nations meeting in Dinard, France, April 6, 2019. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

April 24, 2019

ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s government has written to the European Union asking it to ready a plan of action to deal with a possible flight of refugees from the armed conflict in Libya, Italian Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero said on Wednesday.

Moavero was speaking at a joint news conference in Rome after talks with the U.N. envoy on Libya, Ghassan Salame.

(Reporting by Giselda Vagnoni; Editing by Mark Bendeich)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih talks during the 23rd World Energy Congress in Istanbul
FILE PHOTO: Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih talks during the 23rd World Energy Congress in Istanbul, Turkey, October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

April 24, 2019

By Saeed Azhar and Stephen Kalin

RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said on Wednesday he saw no need to raise oil output immediately after the United States ends waivers granted to buyers of Iranian crude, but added that the kingdom would respond to customers’ needs if asked for more oil.

Khalid al-Falih said he was guided by oil market fundamentals not prices, and that the world’s top oil exporter remained focused on balancing the global oil market.

“Inventories are actually continuing to rise despite what is happening in Venezuela and despite the tightening of sanctions on Iran. I don’t see the need to do anything immediately,” Falih said in Riyadh.

The United States has decided not to renew exemptions from sanctions against Iran granted last year to buyers of Iranian oil, taking a tougher line than expected.

“Our intent is to remain within our voluntary (OPEC) production limit,” Falih said, adding that Riyadh would “be responsive to our customers, especially those who have been under waivers and those whose waivers have been withdrawn.”

“We think there will be an uptick in real demand but certainly we are not going to be pre-emptive and increase production,” the minister said.

He said Saudi Arabia’s oil production in May was pretty much set with very little variation from the last couple of months. June crude allocations would be decided early next month, he said.

The kingdom’s exports in April will be below 7 million barrels per day (bpd), while production is around 9.8 million bpd, Saudi officials have said. Under the OPEC-led deal on supply cuts, Saudi Arabia can pump up to 10.3 million bpd.

Falih said there would most likely be “some level of production management beyond June” by OPEC and its allies, but it was too early to predict the output targets now.

Oil prices rallied to their highest level since November after Washington announced all waivers on imports of sanctions-hit Iranian oil would end next week, pressuring importers to stop buying from Tehran and further tightening global supply.

Eight countries, including China and India, were granted waivers for six months, and several had expected those exemptions to be renewed.

Brent crude futures fell on Wednesday, trading at $74.18 per barrel at 0848 GMT, after the International Energy Agency said oil markets were “adequately supplied” and “global spare production capacity remains at comfortable levels.”

A senior U.S. administration official said on Monday that Trump was confident Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates would fulfill pledges to compensate for any shortfall in the oil market following Washington’s decision to end the Iran waivers.

OPEC and industry sources told Reuters on Tuesday that Gulf OPEC producers could meet any oil supply shortage but would first wait to see whether there was actual demand.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other producers, an alliance known as OPEC+, agreed to cut output by 1.2 million bpd. They meet on June 25-26 to decide whether to extend the pact.

A panel of energy ministers from major oil producers, known as the JMMC, meets on May 19 to discuss the oil market and make recommendations before the June meeting, OPEC sources said.

(Writing by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Dale Hudson and Edmund Blair)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: 'The Vessel,' a large public art sculpture made up of 155 flights of stairs, is seen at the center of The Hudson Yards development, in New York
FILE PHOTO: The Hudson Yards development, a residential, commercial, and retail space on Manhattan’s West side, during the grand opening in New York City, New York, U.S., March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

April 24, 2019

By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Developer Related Companies said on Tuesday one of its affiliates has agreed to buy the global headquarters of AT&T’s WarnerMedia in Manhattan for about $2.2 billion, in one of the city’s most expensive commercial real estate deals.

The affiliate has entered into a contract expected to close late in the second quarter for WarnerMedia’s offices spanning 26 floors at 30 Hudson Yards, Related said in a statement.

Related will enter into a long-term lease-back until early 2034 for the space of about 1.5 million square feet (139,355 meters) in an office tower that has the highest observation deck in the Western Hemisphere.

Hudson Yards is a new $25 billion complex of commercial and residential skyscrapers built on Manhattan’s far west side above the rail yards.

Related won bidding to buy WarnerMedia’s stake, as Reuters reported earlier this month. WarnerMedia, formerly Time Warner, became a partner in the building’s development in 2014.

AT&T has sought to cut its debt by about $20 billion in 2019 after last year’s $85 billion takeover of Time Warner.

A team led by Doug Harmon at brokerage Cushman & Wakefield represented WarnerMedia in the transaction, the most expensive in Manhattan since the sale of Chelsea Market to Alphabet Inc’s Google last year for $2.4 billion in a deal Harmon also handled.

(This story corrects last paragraph to say WarnerMedia, not Related)

(Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih speaks during the Gulf Intelligence Saudi Arabia Energy Forum in Riyadh
FILE PHOTO: Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih speaks during the Gulf Intelligence Saudi Arabia Energy Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

April 24, 2019

By Stephen Kalin and Saeed Azhar

RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil producer, will remain active in the debt markets after its debut $12 billion bond earlier this month, which was “only the beginning”, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Wednesday.

Falih, speaking at a financial conference in Riyadh, also said Aramco would access the equity markets earlier than expected after the company gained exposure among investors through the bond sale.

Many saw the debt deal as a relationship-building exercise with international investors ahead of Aramco’s planned initial public offering, aimed at raising money for the government as Saudi Arabia looks to cut its budget deficit and diversify its economy.

Saudi officials have said the new planned listing date is 2021, but Falih told the conference on Wednesday that the share sale “could slip or come forward a little bit”.

Aramco received more than $100 billion in orders by April 9 for its debut bond – even after its prospectus said the kingdom would not guarantee Aramco’s notes – but chose to sell only $12 billion.

The bond came on the heels of Aramco’s planned $69.1 billion acquisition of a 70 percent stake in petrochemicals firm Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund.

JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, HSBC, Citi, Goldman Sachs and National Commercial Bank were the bonds’ bookrunners.

JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley, along with other banks, worked on the planned stock market listing of Aramco before the move was postponed last year.

(Reporting by Stephen Kalin and Saeed Azhar; Writing by Hadeel Al Sayegh and Davide Barbuscia; Editing by Dale Hudson)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: SAP logo at SAP headquarters in Walldorf
FILE PHOTO: SAP logo at SAP headquarters in Walldorf, Germany, January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo

April 24, 2019

By Douglas Busvine

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – U.S. activist investor Elliott revealed a 1.2 billion-euro ($1.3 billion) stake in SAP on Wednesday and said it supported a new management efficiency drive, sending shares in the German business software company to an all-time high.

SAP has until now escaped the attention of activist investors, steered by co-founder and Chairman Hasso Plattner who has withstood tough competition from U.S. rivals and is still the biggest shareholder in the German company with 6.5 percent.

Yet SAP has never achieved the 40 percent profit margins that Microsoft boasted at its height. It reported an adjusted operating margin of 24 percent for the first quarter as it grapples with a catch-up transition to cloud computing.

Europe’s most valuable technology company now wants to expand adjusted operating margins by a total of 5 percentage points through 2023.

“This is that magic moment that people have been waiting for where they are like, wow, nobody grows like SAP, but can I get some margin out of this growth?” Bill McDermott, the 57-year-old New Yorker who has run SAP for nine years, told Reuters.

“I think our shareholders are going to be super-psyched.”

Boosting margins in the cloud – where SAP’s subscription-based products are hosted remotely – is the holy grail for a company that still makes most of its money from license fees and maintenance for software running on customers’ on-site servers.

The Elliott stake of around 1 percent in SAP is the first German technology investment by the $34 billion U.S. hedge fund group, which has also urged industrial conglomerate Thyssenkrupp to restructure and called on utility Uniper to agree to a takeover by Fortum.

Elliott technology-team partner Jesse Cohn and portfolio manager Jason Genrich have a track record of close involvement with the firms they back, with Cohn for example taking a board seat at online marketplace eBay as part of a deal with management on a strategy review and running activist campaigns at software firms EMC and Citrix .

“Elliott fully supports the initiatives announced today,” Cohn and Genrich said in a statement.

“The company’s shares were clearly undervalued in relation to its revenue growth, and today’s announcement lays the foundation for substantial realization of value.”

SAP’s shares have underperformed rivals Oracle, Salesforce and Microsoft in the past 12 months. It trades at a forward price/earnings ratio of 21, compared to 58 at Salesforce, an all-cloud outfit, 25 at Microsoft and 15 at Oracle, according to Refinitiv data.

“SAP is in the fortunate position that a number of shareholders give us regular feedback – we welcome that feedback, which we take seriously, especially as we advance our plans to meet or beat our 2023 ambitions,” SAP said in response to the Elliott investment.


The pivot by McDermott came as SAP reported a quarterly operating loss of 136 million euros due to an 886 million euro up-front charge arising from the announcement in January that SAP would let go of 4,400 people.

After adjusting for that and other one-offs, non-IFRS operating profits rose by 13 percent at constant currencies to 1.47 billion euros, above expectations in a poll of 17 analysts.

Chief Financial Officer Luka Mucic said the staffing exercise, only the second major restructuring since SAP was founded by Plattner and a group of former IBM colleagues in 1972, was on track.

SAP lifted its growth forecast for non-IFRS operating profits this year to 9.5-12.5 percent at constant currencies, while also nudging up its outlook for 2020.

Its shares rose 8 percent – their biggest daily gain since Nov. 2008, adding $11 billion to its market cap. That in turn lifted the Stoxx Europe 600 Technology Index by 2.7 percent to its highest since last July.

SAP will update investors at a capital markets day on Nov. 12 in New York. It is eyeing a multi-year share buyback program as McDermott sets his sights on more than doubling the company’s market capitalization to $300 billion.

Valuing the cloud side of the business at 10 times revenues – in line with industry peers – gives a figure of $200 billion based on projected 2023 revenues, McDermott said. Add to that a core revenue multiple of 4-5 times gives another $100 billion.

“It’s just simple math,” he told Reuters.

(Additional reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Michelle Martin, Kirsten Donovan/Georgina Prodhan/Jane Merriman)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A view shows S-400 surface-to-air missile system after its deployment near Kaliningrad
FILE PHOTO: A view shows a new S-400 “Triumph” surface-to-air missile system after its deployment at a military base outside the town of Gvardeysk near Kaliningrad, Russia March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Vitaly Nevar/File Photo

April 24, 2019

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia will start delivering its S-400 missile defense systems to Turkey in July, the head of Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport said, according to Interfax news agency.

“Everything has been already discussed and agreed,” Alexander Mikheev told Interfax.

The United States has threatened to impose sanctions if Turkey seals its S-400 deal with Russia. Ankara has said its purchase should not trigger sanctions as Turkey is not an adversary of Washington and remains committed to the NATO alliance.

(Reporting by Maxim Rodionov; Writing by Andrey Ostroukh)

Source: OANN

The Occidental Petroleum Corp headquarters in Los Angeles
FILE PHOTO: The Occidental Petroleum Corp headquarters is pictured in Los Angeles, California September 16, 2013. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

April 24, 2019

(Reuters) – Oil and gas producer Occidental Petroleum Corp on Wednesday offered to buy rival Anadarko Petroleum Corp in a $57 billion deal, topping Chevron Corp’s agreement to buy Anadarko for $50 billion.

Both cash-and-stock deals include Anadarko’s debt.

Occidental’s $76 per share offer comprises $38 in cash and 0.6094 shares of Occidental for each share of Anadarko, representing a premium of 19 percent to Anadarko’s closing price on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Debroop Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: View of cranes at the container terminal at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah
FILE PHOTO: A view of cranes at the container terminal at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Yemen January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad/File Photo

April 24, 2019

DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister on Wednesday blamed Yemen’s Houthi movement for a stalled peace deal in the main port of Hodeidah, saying the Iran-aligned group was ignoring the kingdom’s call for a political solution to the four-year war.

Saudi Arabia is leading a Western-backed Sunni Muslim military coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to restore the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, which was ousted from power in the capital Sanaa by the Houthis in late 2014.

“They are ignoring our calls for a political solution to this crisis,” Prince Khalid bin Salman said at a security conference in Moscow, in his first comments on Yemen since becoming deputy defense minister in February.

The warring parties reached a deal at U.N.-sponsored talks in Sweden in December for a ceasefire and troop withdrawal from the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions of people.

The Houthis say they are ready to implement the Hodeidah deal, but that the other side is obstructing it.

The truce has largely held but the redeployment of forces has stalled with each side blaming the other for impeding the pact, the first major breakthrough in peace efforts in over four years aimed at paving the way for political negotiations.

Prince Khalid, a son of King Salman and a full younger brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, accused regional rival Iran of trying “to seize the Yemeni state” by supporting the Houthis, who control Hodeidah and most urban centers in Yemen.

The Houthis deny being puppets of Iran and say their revolution is against corruption.

The conflict, which has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed the poorest Arabian Peninsula nation to the brink of famine, is largely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and its arch foe Shi’ite Muslim Iran.

The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), a database tracking violence in Yemen, last week said around 70,000 people have been reported killed since the start of 2016.

Western nations, some of which supply arms and intelligence to the alliance, have increased pressure on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to end the conflict following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October at the hands of Saudi agents at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.

(Writing by Lisa Barrington; Additional reporting by Tuqa Khalid; Editing by Alison Williams)

Source: OANN

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