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Doug Schoen, pollster and Democratic strategist, blasted President Donald Trump's approach to foreign policy and said it projects an image of the U.S. abdicating its role as "democracy's standard-bearer."

Schoen made his comments in a column posted by Fox News website Tuesday.

Schoen referred to former Vice President Dick Cheney recently pressing Vice President Mike Pence about Trump's foreign policy during a closed-door event.

"Despite often opposing Vice President Cheney, I largely agree with him that the Trump administration's foreign policy lacks direction and discipline," he said.

"I remain concerned that President Trump's nationalistic, isolationist 'America First' approach to foreign policy projects an image of the United States as abdicating our role on the world stage as democracy's standard-bearer."

Schoen claimed many of the "more reasoned voices" on Trump's national security team have left, notably former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.

"While I may not have wholeheartedly agreed with Secretary Mattis on everything, we share an understanding of the role that the United States should play on the world stage: the role of a global leader who champions democracy and stands up for our allies," he said.

And Schoen said Trump's lack of foreign policy direction has been particularly troubling.

"For America to truly succeed, we must renew our commitment to global leadership in a way that is informed by an idealistic, moral, yet also practical outlook toward the international community," he said.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Ethiopian Red Cross workers carry a body bag with the remains of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash victims at the scene of a plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa
FILE PHOTO: Ethiopian Red Cross workers carry a body bag with the remains of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash victims at the scene of a plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

March 19, 2019

By Omar Mohammed

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Financiers, passengers and industry partners are, for now, still backing Ethiopian Airlines’ quest to become Africa’s dominant carrier, despite a March 10 crash that killed 157 people.

The causes of the Flight 302 tragedy will likely take months to establish. While much of the international focus has been on U.S. planemaker Boeing and its 737 MAX 8 jet, the airline’s reputation could also hinge on the results of the investigation.

Although crash inquiries focus on preventing future accidents rather than attributing liability, any findings that the carrier fell short in plane maintenance or piloting could be damaging.

For the present, however, passenger confidence in Ethiopian Airlines, long regarded as one of the most reliable in Africa, has remained steady, according to the company. Cancellation and booking rates are unchanged since the crash, said spokesman Asrat Begashaw.

“We are operating as normal,” he told Reuters. “Our brand is keeping its level, and we are okay.”

Two banking sources with knowledge of the matter said that, barring a major new twist in the investigation with long-term fallout, banks were still comfortable lending to Ethiopian Airlines.

“Ethiopian is a solid company,” said one, an official from an international bank that helped finance the acquisition of some Ethiopian Airlines planes. “No reason to change the way the bank sees its credit risk at this point.”

A vote of confidence from lenders is important for the airline because its years of rapid expansion have largely been financed by international borrowing.

The second source, a top European aviation banker, said Ethiopian Airlines was “a good airline, with a good reputation”.

“So unless it (the crash) is a major problem of piloting or maintenance – and it is far too early to talk about that – they will still have access to financing,” the source added.

The sources declined to be identified because the matters are confidential.

FOREIGN INVESTORS

Ethiopian Airlines has borrowed from foreign banks including JP Morgan, ING Capital and Societe Generale over the past decade. It also has outstanding bonds worth $540 million, though none due until 2024, Refinitiv data shows.

The borrowing helped finance the acquisition of stakes in or establish partnerships with at least four African carriers, establishing hubs to feed traffic into Addis Ababa. Last year, the Ethiopian capital overtook Dubai as the main gateway for long-haul passengers into Africa.

The airline’s fleet grew from 35 planes in 2007 to 111 in 2019. It now flies to more than 119 international destinations, up from 52 a decade ago.

The expansion has made the state-owned carrier, founded in 1945, the most profitable major airline on the continent. Ethiopian’s net profit in the 2017/18 financial year rose to $233 million from $229 million the previous year; operating revenue jumped 43 percent to $3.7 billion.

Last year, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced plans to sell a minority stake in the airline as part of a broad strategy to open up the country to foreign investors.

Industry analysts said it was too early to evaluate the impact of the crash on the airline’s long-term plans but said, for now, its reputation remained largely intact.

“It’s a very strong management team, with good vision,” said Nawal Taneja, an author and professor at Ohio State University’s Center for Aviation Studies. “We’ve got to look at the strength of the airline as a whole, not just this one incident.”

PARTNERS, BOEING BOOKINGS

Those who want to travel across Africa have few options other than flying. Conflict, poor roads, and limited cross-border train transport often make travel by land difficult.

Analysts said the crash was unlikely to damage Ethiopian’s partnerships with African carriers, key to a strategy that helped increase passenger numbers from 2.5 million a decade ago to 10.6 million last year, or with other industry players.

One such partner is ASKY, a Togo-based carrier which Ethiopian Airlines helped launch in 2010.

“Ethiopian’s accident has not affected our partnership in any way,” said Lionel Tsoto, the airline’s head of public relations. “We continue just as before.”

Global aviation leasing firm GECAS said the airline was a “close and valued partner who we look forward to working with in the future”.

The crash, which saw the Nairobi-bound flight go down minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa, triggered a global grounding of 737 MAX planes, wiping about 10 percent off Boeing’s share price. GRAPHIC: http://graphics.thomsonreuters.com/testfiles/boeing737maxseries

Investigators have noted similarities with another deadly crash in Indonesia five months ago involving a plane of the same type owned by Lion Air, but safety officials stress the investigation is at an early stage.

Ethiopian Airlines, which grounded its handful of remaining 737 MAX planes, said it would decide whether to cancel orders for 29 others after a preliminary investigation.

Analysts said it was unlikely that the carrier would cancel the orders, worth $3.5 billion at the current list price, because Boeing would have to fix any problems before regulators permit the jet to fly again.

Boeing will be keen to retain the airline as a customer; more than half of Ethiopian’s fleet are Boeing jets.

“Ethiopian have been very loyal to Boeing in the past,” said Phil Seymour, chief executive of the IBA Group, a Surrey-based aviation consultancy.

“They will be in control of the conversation with Boeing now,” he added. “I would suspect that the business decision is to stick with the order.”

(Additional reporting by Tim Hepher and Inti Landauro in Paris, Rachel Armstrong in London, Maggie Fick in Addis Ababa and John Zodzi in Lome; Editing by Katharine Houreld, Alexandra Zavis and Pravin Char)

Source: OANN

An aircraft engine being built at Honeywell Aerospace in Phoenix
FILE PHOTO: A worker is seen building an aircraft engine at Honeywell Aerospace in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. on September 6, 2016. REUTERS/Alwyn Scott

March 19, 2019

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – New orders for U.S.-made goods rose less than expected in January, held back by decreases in orders for computers and electronic products, in another indication of slowing manufacturing activity.

Factory goods orders edged up 0.1 percent, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday, as demand for primary metals and fabricated metal products fell. That followed an unrevised 0.1 percent gain in December.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast factory orders rising 0.3 percent in January. Factory orders increased 3.8 percent compared to January 2018.

The release of the report was delayed by a 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government that ended on Jan. 25.

Reports last Friday showed manufacturing output fell for a second straight month in February and factory activity in New York state hit nearly a two-year low this month.

Manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 percent of the economy, is losing momentum as the stimulus from last year’s $1.5 trillion tax cut package fades. Activity is also being crimped by a trade war between the United States and China as well as by last year’s surge in the dollar and softening global economic growth, which are hurting exports.

In January, orders for machinery rose 1.5 percent after falling 0.4 percent in December. Orders for mining, oil field and gas field machinery fell 2.7 percent after tumbling 8.2 percent in December.

Orders for electrical equipment, appliances and components rebounded 1.4 percent after dropping 0.3 percent in December. Computers and electronic products orders fell 0.9 percent after decreasing 0.4 percent in December.

Orders for primary metals declined 2.0 percent and fabricated metal products orders fell 0.6 percent. Transportation equipment orders increased 1.2 percent in January, slowing from the prior month’s 3.2 percent rise.

Orders for civilian aircraft and parts increased 15.6 percent in January. Motor vehicles and parts orders gained 0.4 percent.

The Commerce Department also said January orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, which are seen as a measure of business spending plans on equipment, rose 0.8 percent as reported last week. Orders for these so-called core capital goods dropped 0.8 percent in December.

Shipments of core capital goods, which are used to calculate business equipment spending in the gross domestic product report, also increased 0.8 percent in January as previously reported. Core capital goods shipments edged up 0.1 percent in December.

(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

Source: OANN

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

  • Activists are blaming global warming for historic flooding in the Midwest, however, the science behind their claim is weak and not in line with the latest National Climate Assessment.
  • Hundreds of homes are inundated with water and at least three people have been killed in floods.
  • Thousands of people across four states were forced to evacuate because river flooding breached nearly 200 miles of levees.

Some environmentalists and scientists are blaming global warming for the historic flooding across the Midwest, adding to the long list of disasters eager activists link to climate change.

But is the scientific connection between historic Midwest floods and global warming very strong? No, it’s not.

A “bomb cyclone” led to sudden, devastating floods across the Midwest and Great Plains that left at least three people dead, according to reports. Officials say it’s the worst flooding in 50 years.

While most in the media largely stayed away from connecting Midwest flooding to climate change, environmentalists were quick to make the connection, claiming the science was on their side.

Bill McKibben, a prominent environmentalist who made headlines protesting the Keystone XL oil pipeline, proclaimed “[s]cientists confirm climate change” was at work in the historic Midwest flooding.

An aerial view of the flooding at the Camp Ashland in Nebraska

Flooded Camp Ashland, Army National Guard facility, is seen in this aerial photo taken in Ashland, Nebraska, U.S., March 17, 2019. Picture taken March 17, 2019. Courtesy Herschel Talley/Nebraska National Guard/Handout via REUTERS.

The article McKibben linked to, however, only mentions a “changing climate” once, but does discuss the myriad of other, likely more important factors, that contributed to the massive flooding, like rainfall piling up over frozen ground. (RELATED: DC Opens Door To Private Investors Financing Its Climate Change Case Against Exxon, Lawyer Says)

The liberal blog ThinkProgress claimed Midwest floods were a “terrifying preview of climate impacts to come,” though the article relied heavily on comment from environmental activists.

“This level of flooding is becoming the new normal,” John Hickey, Sierra Club’s Missouri chapter director, told ThinkProgress.

Other environmental activists attacked major media outlets, like The New York Times and The Washington Post, for not linking Midwest flooding to global warming.

Environmental policy experts were quick to point out the lack of science behind such claims.

An aerial view of Spencer Dam after a storm triggered historic flooding, near Bristow, Nebraska

An aerial view of Spencer Dam after a storm triggered historic flooding, near Bristow, Nebraska, U.S. March 16, 2019. Office of Governor Pete Ricketts/Handout via REUTERS.

The 2018 National Climate Assessment (NCA) found that “formal attribution approaches have not established a significant connection of increased riverine flooding to human-induced climate change.”

Likewise, the NCA noted that “a variety of other compounding factors, including local land use, land-cover changes, and water management also play important roles.”

Land-cover was an extremely important factor in the Midwest floods. Heavy rain fell onto snow-covered, frozen ground. Rain and snowmelt ran off into already ice-covered rivers, which rose and sent massive chunks of ice downstream, breaking infrastructure and damming up the river.

More than 70 cities across Nebraska declared emergencies amid historic floods. Thousands of people across four states were forced to evacuate because river flooding breached nearly 200 miles of levees, CBS News reported.

The Mississippi and Missouri rivers also saw widespread flooding. Residents in western Illinois saw the worst floods in 50 years, according to The Chicago Tribune. Many homes in Holt County, Missouri were sitting in up to 7 feet of water from river flooding, The Associated Press reported.

Flooded apartments are seen over Elkhorn River after a storm triggered historic flooding in Nebraska

Flooded apartments are seen over Elkhorn River after a storm triggered historic flooding in Nebraska, U.S. March 16, 2019. Office of Governor Pete Ricketts/Handout via REUTERS.

Oddly enough, the Nebraska-based Omaha World-Herald got comments from two scientists who gave rather broad statements on the connection between global warming and extreme rainfall.

Former NASA climate scientist James Hansen said “the strongest storms are getting stronger with global warming” because warmer air has more moisture. Penn State University climate scientist Michael Mann, creator of the controversial “hockey stick graph,” told the World-Herald that some studies show factors behind “bomb cyclones” are increasing due to climate change.

“There is evidence now in modeling studies that climate change is increasing these factors, supporting the development of more intense bomb cyclones and Nor’easters, packing tropical storm-scale winds and dumping huge amounts of precipitation (often in the form of huge snowfalls),” Mann said.

However, atmospheric scientist Ryan Maue shot back, saying that Hansen and Mann were giving generalized explanations of modeled climate impacts instead of gathering actual data on the flood event.

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Source: The Daily Caller

The Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel pauses during a news conference after a monetary policy review in Mumbai
FILE PHOTO: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Urjit Patel pauses during a news conference after a monetary policy review in Mumbai, India, December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

March 19, 2019

By Suvashree Choudhury

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Economists raised concerns over a sharp slowdown in Indian economy and pitched for a monetary policy boost to support growth at a meeting with the nation’s central bank chief on Tuesday, according to three participants.

Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das met more than a dozen economists to get their views on the economy ahead of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decision due on April 4.

Most economists expect the six-member MPC to cut the repo rate by 25 basis points for the second time in a row next month to 6.00 percent, a level last seen in August 2017.

While the economists did not specify the extent of rate cut that the RBI could consider, one of them called for a 50-basis- point reduction, one of the participants said.

“Most of the participants said that monetary policy needs to do the heavy lifting to boost growth as there was no space for fiscal expansion,” another participant said.

The meeting under Das, who took charge in December, was in sharp contrast to the previous ones under former governor Urjit Patel, who was slightly reclusive and preferred to meet a small group of 5-6 economists. Das’ style has, however, been more open and communicative.

India’s economy expanded by 6.6 percent during October-December, its slowest pace in five quarters, on weak consumer demand and investments, dealing a major blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he seeks a second term in office at a general election that kicks off next month.

Slowing growth has hit the federal government’s tax collections, constraining its ability to substantially boost spending ahead of elections.

However, neither Das nor any RBI official from the monetary policy department gave any indication of their thoughts or views, as is typical in such big-group meetings.

Economists and strategists spoke of several issues including drought, liquidity management, exchange rate, inflation, growth, bank credit growth, real interest rates and monetary policy transmission.

“The meeting went on for two-and-a-half hours as there were many participants,” said another economist who attended the meeting.

“But they didn’t say a single word on these topics.”

The RBI did not respond to an email seeking comment on the meeting with economists.

Some economists pointed out that food inflation could begin inching up after September if monsoon rains were not sufficient, but was unlikely to push retail inflation past the RBI’s 4 percent target.

Consumer inflation was at 2.57 percent on-year in February as food prices continued to fall for a fifth straight month.

The economists also raised concerns over a slowdown in global growth that has hurt India’s exports. India’s outbound shipments grew 2.4 percent annually in February, slower than 3.7 percent in January.

“Overall, the view was that the downside risks to growth have increased since the last policy while inflation risks have remained muted,” said a third participant.

“Not many of us clearly specified how much rate cut we wanted, but we presented the facts to make it clear to RBI that there was a need for a big boost to the economy.”

(Reporting by Suvashree Choudhury; Editing by Shreejay Sinha)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Pumpjacks are seen against the setting sun at the Daqing oil field in Heilongjiang
FILE PHOTO: Pumpjacks are seen against the setting sun at the Daqing oil field in Heilongjiang province, China December 7, 2018. REUTERS/Stringe

March 19, 2019

By Dmitry Zhdannikov

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices rose to new 2019 highs on Tuesday, supported by supply cuts from OPEC and falling output from Iran and Venezuela due to U.S. sanctions.

Brent crude oil futures were up 55 cents at $68.09 per barrel at 1145 GMT, having earlier risen to a new 2019 high of $68.16 a barrel, their highest since November 2018.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were at $59.47 per barrel, up 38 cents from their last settlement. They have also risen on Tuesday to their highest since November 2019 of $59.57 a barrel.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on Monday scrapped its planned meeting in April, effectively extending supply cuts that have been in place since January until its next regular meeting in June.

OPEC and a group of non-affiliated producers including Russia, known as OPEC+, cut supply in 2019 to halt a sharp price drop which began in the second-half of 2018 due to booming U.S. production and fears of a global economic slowdown.

Saudi Arabia has signaled that OPEC and its allies may continue to restrain oil output until the end of 2019.

“The OPEC+ deal has brought stability to crude prices and signs of an extension have taken crude higher,” said Alfonso Esparza, senior market analyst at futures brokerage OANDA.

Prices have been further supported by U.S. sanctions against oil exports from Iran and Venezuela, traders said.

Venezuela has suspended its oil exports to India, one of its key export destinations, the Azeri energy ministry said on Tuesday, citing Venezuela’s oil minister.

Because of the tighter supply outlook for the coming months, the Brent forward curve has gone into backwardation since the start of the year, meaning that prices for immediate delivery are more expensive than those for dispatch in the future, with May Brent prices around $1.20 per barrel more expensive than December delivery Brent.

(GRAPHIC: Brent crude oil forward curves – https://tmsnrt.rs/2FlM7YZ)

Outside OPEC, analysts are watching U.S. crude oil production, which has risen by more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) since early 2018, to around 12 million bpd, making the United States the world’s biggest producer ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Weekly output and storage data will be published by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note that economic “risks are skewed to the downside” and that “we forecast global demand growth of 1.2 million bpd year-on-year in 2019 and 1.15 million bpd during 2020”.

The bank said it expected “Brent and WTI to average $70 per barrel and $59 per barrel respectively in 2019, and $65 per barrel and $60 per barrel in 2020.”

(Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing Joseph Radford and Louise Heavens)

Source: OANN

Contrary to the views of most economists, the Trump administration expects the U.S. economy to keep booming over the next decade on the strength of further tax cuts, reduced regulation, and improvements to the nation's infrastructure.

The annual report from President Donald Trump's Council of Economic Advisers forecasts that the economy will expand a brisk 3.2 percent this year and a still-healthy 2.8 percent a decade from now. That is much faster than the Federal Reserve's long-run forecast of 1.9 percent annual economic growth.

The administration's forecast hinges on an expectation that it will manage to implement further tax cuts, incentives for infrastructure improvements, new labor policies and scaled-back regulations — programs that are unlikely to gain favor with the Democratic-led House that would need to approve most of them.

Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House council, insisted that the president's economic agenda would provide enough fuel to drive robust growth at a time when the majority of economists foresee a slowdown due in part to the aging U.S. population.

He said the biggest risk to growth would be if financial markets anticipate that Trump's existing policies would be reversed. Without getting into specifics, Hassett said the risk would be if markets expect that the winner of the 2020 presidential election would shift away from policies such as the tax overhaul that Trump signed into law in 2017.

"Uncertainty over the policies themselves could slow their positive impact," Hassett said.

The tax cuts added roughly $1.5 trillion to the federal debt over the next decade, not accounting for economic growth. The report suggests that the lower tax rates have increased business investment in ways that will make the economy more productive, while also creating a surge in people coming off the sidelines to search for work.

The administration's optimism comes amid signs of slowing global economic growth, as well as a recent slowdown in manufacturing production and weakness in retail sales in January and December.

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: A general view of the Corniche Towers is seen in Doha
FILE PHOTO: A general view of the Corniche Towers is seen in Doha, Qatar February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

March 19, 2019

DOHA (Reuters) – Qatar will launch an energy-focused Islamic lender later this year with a targeted capital of $10 billion to finance both domestic and global projects, an executive said on Tuesday.

Tiny but wealthy Qatar is one of the most influential players in the liquefied natural gas market with annual production of about 77 million tonnes, and it plans to increase this over 40 percent to 110 million by 2024.

Speaking at an Islamic Finance conference in Doha, executives launching Energy Bank said it would be the largest Islamic energy-focused lender in the world, and would target private sector and government energy projects, both at home and abroad.

Mohammed al-Marri, chairman of Energy Bank’s media committee, said operations would begin in the fourth quarter of 2019.

“With paid-up capital of $2.5 billion, the establishment of Energy Bank in Qatar comes in light of the incredible growth projected for Qatar’s energy sector,” Marri told a news conference.

Marri declined to specify how or when the bank planned to raise its capital to the $10 billion target. He said it would focus on financing oil and gas, petrochemicals, and renewable energy projects, but declined to specify how much would be allocated for lending outside the country.

(Reporting by Eric Knecht; Writing by Saeed Azhar; Editing by Louise Heavens and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

Source: OANN

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a speech at the annual Global Solutions Summit in Berlin
German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a speech at the annual Global Solutions Summit in Berlin, Germany, March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

March 19, 2019

BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday she would fight for an orderly Brexit right up until Britain’s planned departure from the European Union on March 29.

Merkel, asked whether she was ready to offer British Prime Minister Theresa May a new Brexit deal, said she “noted with interest” a ruling by the speaker of parliament that May must change her twice-defeated divorce deal to put it to a third vote.

“Now, we will see what Theresa May says to us, what her wishes are – we will try to respond to those,” Merkel added, speaking at a conference in Berlin.

“We will follow very closely how the British government reacts to what was said yesterday in parliament,” she added. “As to how deal with the situation, I can’t assess how it will be (at an EU summit) on Thursday – there is far too much in flux.”

In a move that added to the sense of crisis in London and exasperation in European capitals just days before the March 29 exit date, Speaker John Bercow shocked May’s government on Monday by ruling it could not put the same Brexit deal to another vote unless it was substantially different.

“I will fight until the last minute of the time to March 29 for an orderly exit,” Merkel said. “We haven’t got a lot of time for that, but still some days.”

Asked if she would be prepared to grant Britain a delay to Brexit, Merkel replied that she wanted to have very good relations with Britain even after Brexit.

(Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Michelle Martin)

Source: OANN

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a speech at the annual Global Solutions Summit in Berlin
FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a speech at the annual Global Solutions Summit in Berlin, Germany, March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

March 19, 2019

BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday that if there was no international agreement on taxing digital companies by the second half of next year, Europe should go ahead anyway.

Merkel also, however, expressed optimism that a global solution would be reached given that U.S. President Donald Trump is also interested in achieving that.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin and Madeline Chambers)

Source: OANN


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