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CNN sues White House over revoked credentials of correspondent

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

 

President Donald Trump listening to CNN reporter Jim Acosta | REUTERS

CNN filed a lawsuit on Tuesday (November 13) against the Trump administration over the revocation of press credentials for White House correspondent Jim Acosta, whose questions and reporting have been a frequent target of criticism by President Donald Trump.

“We have asked this court for an immediate restraining order requiring the pass be returned to Jim, and will seek permanent relief as part of this process,” CNN said in a statement. “While the suit is specific to CNN and Acosta, this could have happened to anyone. If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials.”

The Republican president has steadily intensified his criticism of the media, with CNN remaining a major target.

Trump erupted into anger last week during a news conference when Acosta questioned him about the so-called migrant caravan traveling through Mexico and about an ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

“That’s enough, that’s enough,” Trump said on Wednesday, as a White House intern attempted to take the microphone off Acosta. “You are a rude, terrible person.”

The White House suspended his credentials later that day, with press secretary Sarah Sanders accusing Acosta of putting his hands on the intern who was trying to take the microphone from him. She called his behavior “absolutely unacceptable.”

Video of the encounter showed Acosta pulling back as the intern moved to take the microphone. He called the White House accusations a lie.

“While the suit is specific to CNN and Acosta, this could have happened to anyone,” CNN said. “If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials.” — Reuters

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U.S. says March 1 ‘hard deadline’ for trade deal with China

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, December 10th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer speaks during a Cabinet meeting held by U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 17, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S.-China trade negotiations need to reach a successful end by March 1 or new tariffs will be imposed, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Sunday, clarifying there is a “hard deadline” after a week of seeming confusion among President Donald Trump and his advisers.

Global markets are jittery about a collision between the world’s two largest economic powers over China’s huge trade surplus with the United States and U.S. claims that China is stealing intellectual property and technology.

“As far as I am concerned it is a hard deadline. When I talk to the president of the United States he is not talking about going beyond March,” Lighthizer said on the CBS show “Face the Nation,” referring to President Donald Trump’s recent decision to delay new tariffs while talks proceed.

“The way this is set up is that at the end of 90 days, these tariffs will be raised,” said Lighthizer, who has been tapped to lead the talks and appeared to tamp down expectations that the negotiation period could be extended.

After a turbulent week in markets, investors “can be reassured that if there is a deal that can be made that will assure the protection of U.S. technology…and get additional market access…the president wants us to do it,” Lighthizer said. “If not we will have tariffs.”

In Argentina last weekend, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a truce that delayed the planned Jan. 1 U.S. hike of tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200 billion of Chinese goods while they negotiate a trade deal.

However, the arrest of a top executive at China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s [HWT.UL] has roiled global markets amid fears that it could further inflame the China-U.S. trade row. In Beijing on Sunday, China’s foreign ministry protested the arrest to the U.S. ambassador.

In a series of appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows, Lighthizer, economic adviser Larry Kudlow, and trade adviser Peter Navarro insisted the trade talks with China would not be derailed by the arrest, which they deemed solely a law enforcement matter.

U.S. equity markets have staked much on the outcome of the talks. Stocks climbed early in the week on optimism tensions between the two sides were easing, then cratered after Trump claimed he was a “tariff man” after all. He also seemed to indicate the talks could be extended.

But Lighthizer, in his first comments since being appointed to lead the negotiations, said the United States will need concessions across a number of areas in coming weeks if the higher tariffs are to be voided.

That includes demands for increased purchases of U.S. goods in a more open Chinese market, as well as “structural changes” to a system that, for example, forces American firms to turn over technology to Chinese partners as a condition of doing business.

“We need agricultural sales and we need manufacturing sales. We need structural changes on this fundamental issue of non-economic technology transfer,” Lighthizer said.

The demands are similar to those made under previous Democratic and Republican presidents, but Lighthizer said he felt Trump’s willingness to go beyond “dialogue” and impose tariffs will produce results.

Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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U.S., China agree on trade war ceasefire after Trump, Xi summit

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, December 3rd, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a working dinner after the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina December 1, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – China and the United States agreed to a ceasefire in their bitter trade war on Saturday after high-stakes talks in Argentina between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, including no escalated tariffs on Jan. 1.

Trump will leave tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports at 10 percent at the beginning of the new year, agreeing to not raise them to 25 percent “at this time”, the White House said in a statement.

“China will agree to purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other product from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance between our two countries,” it said.

“China has agreed to start purchasing agricultural product from our farmers immediately.”

The two leaders also agreed to immediately start talks on structural changes with respect to forced technology transfers, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft, services and agriculture, the White House said.

Both countries agreed they will try to have this “transaction” completed within the next 90 days, but if this does not happen then the 10 percent tariffs will be raised to 25 percent, it added.

The Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, said the negotiations were conducted in a “friendly and candid atmosphere”.

“The two presidents agreed that the two sides can and must get bilateral relations right,” Wang told reporters, adding they agreed to further exchanges at appropriate times.

“Discussion on economic and trade issues was very positive and constructive. The two heads of state reached consensus to halt the mutual increase of new tariffs,” Wang said.

“China is willing to increase imports in accordance with the needs of its domestic market and the people’s needs, including marketable products from the United States, to gradually ease the imbalance in two-way trade.”

“The two sides agreed to mutually open their markets, and as China advances a new round of reforms, the United States’ legitimate concerns can be progressively resolved.”

The two sides would “step up negotiations” toward full elimination of all additional tariffs, Wang said.

The announcements came after Trump and Xi sat down with their aides for a working dinner at the end of a two-day gathering of world leaders in Buenos Aires, their dispute having unnerved global financial markets and weighed on the world economy.

After the 2-1/2 hour meeting, White House chief economist Larry Kudlow told reporters the talks went “very well,” but offered no specifics as he boarded Air Force One headed home to Washington with Trump.

China’s goal was to persuade Trump to abandon plans to raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25 percent in January, from 10 percent at present. Trump had threatened to do that, and possibly add tariffs on $267 billion of imports, if there was no progress in the talks.

With the United States and China clashing over commerce, financial markets will take their lead from the results of the talks, widely seen as the most important meeting of U.S. and Chinese leaders in years.

The encounter came shortly after the Group of 20 industrialized nations backed an overhaul of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which regulates international trade disputes, marking a victory for Trump, a sharp critic of the organization.

Trump told Xi at the start of their meeting he hoped they would achieve “something great” on trade for both countries. He struck a positive note as he sat across from Xi, despite the U.S. president’s earlier threats to impose new tariffs on Chinese imports as early as the next year.

He suggested that the “incredible relationship” he and Xi had established would be “the very primary reason” they could make progress on trade.

Xi told Trump that only through cooperation could the United States and China serve the interest of peace and prosperity. Washington and Beijing have also increasingly been at odds over security in the Asia-Pacific region.

At the same time, Trump again raised with Xi his concern about the synthetic opioid fentanyl being sent from China to the United States, urging the Chinese leader to place it in a “restricted category” of drugs that would criminalize it.

The White House said Xi, “in a wonderful humanitarian gesture”, had agreed to designate fentanyl a controlled substance.

Xi also said that he was open to approving the previously unapproved Qualcomm-NXP deal should it again be presented to him, the White House added.

“This was an amazing and productive meeting with unlimited possibilities for both the United States and China. It is my great honor to be working with President Xi,” Trump said in the statement.

WTO REFORMS
Earlier on Saturday, the leaders of the world’s top economies called for WTO reform in their final summit statement.

Officials expressed relief that agreement on the communique was reached after negotiators worked through the night to overcome differences over language on climate change.

The final text recognized trade as an important engine of global growth but made only a passing reference to “the current trade issues” after the U.S. delegation won a battle to keep any mention of protectionism out of the statement.

Trump has long railed against China’s trade surplus with the United States, and Washington accuses Beijing of not playing fairly on trade. China calls the United States protectionist and has resisted what it views as attempts to intimidate it.

The two countries are also at odds over China’s extensive claims in the South China Sea and U.S. warship movements through the highly sensitive Taiwan Strait.

In addition to tariffs on Chinese goods, Trump has imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports into the United States this year. Numerous countries have filed litigation at the WTO to contest the levies.

The United States is unhappy with what it says is the WTO’s failure to hold China to account for not opening up its economy as envisioned when China joined the body in 2001. The European Union is also pushing for sweeping changes to how the WTO operates.

G20 delegates said negotiations on the summit statement proceeded more smoothly than at a meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders two weeks ago, where disagreement on protectionism and unfair trading practices prevented a consensus.

European officials said a reference to refugees and migration – a sensitive issue for Trump’s administration – was excised to ensure consensus.

On climate change, the United States once again marked its differences with the rest of the G20 by reiterating in the statement its decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and its commitment to using all kinds of energy sources.

The other members of the group reaffirmed their commitment to implement the Paris deal and tackle climate change.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde said high levels of debt accumulated by emerging market nations was a pressing concern.

U.S. officials said a call by G20 leaders for the IMF and World Bank to improve monitoring debt levels was aimed at ensuring that developing economies did not become to heavily indebted to China in return for infrastructure projects.

U.S. officials have warned about China’s increasing influence across swaths of the developing world, including Latin America. G20 summit host Argentina is expected to sign a series of deals with China on Sunday during a one-day state visit by Xi.

Apart from trade and climate change, Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian vessels drew condemnation from other G20 members, while the presence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the summit raised an awkward dilemma for leaders.

Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler arrived amid controversy over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, though Saudi officials have said the prince had no prior knowledge of the murder.

The leader of the OPEC heavyweight had a series of bilateral meetings at the summit, including a closely watched encounter with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Michael Martina, Matt Spetalnick, Maximilian Heath, Scott Squires, Cassandra Garrison, Daniel Flynn and Kylie Maclellan in Buenos Aires; Dave Shepardson and Humeyra Pamuk in Washington, Ben Blanchard in Beijing and John Ruwitch in Shanghai; writing by Matt Spetalnick and Daniel Flynn; editing by Ross Colvin, Alistair Bell, Jonathan Oatis and Will Dunham

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Trump, Obama tout clashing visions of U.S. as elections near

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, November 5th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) greets President-elect Donald Trump at inauguration ceremonies swearing in Trump as president on the West front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Barack Obama made dueling election appearances on Sunday, offering sharply different views on the country’s problems but agreeing on the high stakes for voters in the final 48 hours of a tight campaign.

With opinion polls showing dozens of tight U.S. congressional and gubernatorial races in Tuesday’s election, the current and former presidents said the results would determine what kind of country Americans live in for the next two years.

“This election will decide whether we build on this extraordinary prosperity we have created,” Trump told a cheering crowd in Macon, Georgia, warning that Democrats would “take a giant wrecking ball to our economy.”

Trump campaigned with Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is in a tight race with Democrat Stacey Abrams for the governor’s office.

Obama condemned Trump, without addressing him by name, and Republicans for what he described as their divisive policies and repeated lies. He hammered Trump and Republicans for repeatedly trying to repeal his signature healthcare law while at the same time claiming to support the law’s protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

“The only check right now on the behavior of these Republicans is you and your vote,” Obama told supporters in Gary, Indiana, during a rally for endangered Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly.

“The character of our country is on the ballot,” he said.

Trump and Obama are the most popular figures in their parties, and their appearances on the campaign trail are designed to stoke enthusiasm among core supporters in the late stages of a midterm congressional election widely seen as a referendum on Trump’s first two years in the White House.

Opinion polls and election forecasters have made Democrats favorites on Tuesday to pick up the 23 seats they need to capture a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, which would enable them to stymie Trump’s legislative agenda and investigate his administration.

Republicans are favored to retain their slight majority in the U.S. Senate, currently at two seats, which would let them retain the power to approve U.S. Supreme Court and other judicial nominations on straight party-line votes.

In the midst of a six-day national blitz of rallies ahead of Tuesday’s election, Trump will also appear later on Sunday in Tennessee, which hosts a vital U.S. Senate race.

HARD-LINE RHETORIC

In the final stages of the campaign, Trump has ramped up his hard-line rhetoric on immigration and cultural issues including warnings about a caravan of migrants headed to the border with Mexico and of liberal “mobs.”

He repeated those themes in Georgia, urging voters to “look at what is marching up – that’s an invasion.” He said Democrats encouraged chaos at the borders because it was good politics.

Ronna McDaniel, head of the Republican National Committee, said on ABC’s “This Week” program that the media had chosen to focus on Trump’s immigration rhetoric but the president was also emphasizing economic and job gains under his presidency.

The Labor Department on Friday reported sharply better-than-expected job creation in October, with the unemployment rate steady at a 49-year low of 3.7 percent and wages notching their best annual gain in almost a decade.

But in Indiana, Obama said Republicans were taking credit for the economic renewal that started under his presidency. “You hear those Republicans brag about how good the economy is, where do you think that started?” he asked.

Obama also appeared later on Sunday in his old home state of Illinois, which hosts a competitive governor’s race and several tight U.S. House of Representative races. Obama’s appearance on the campaign trail is his second in three days.

In the battle for the Senate, Democrats are defending seats in 10 states that Trump won in the 2016 presidential election, including a handful that he won by double digits.

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, who heads the Democratic Senate campaign arm, said it was “remarkable” that Democrats were even in striking distance of capturing the Senate given the unfavorable map they faced.

“The fact we still have a narrow path to a majority is a sea change from where we were two years ago,” he said on ABC. “These are some very close races and they are in states where Trump won big.”

As of Sunday morning, almost 34.4 million people had cast ballots early, according to the Election Project at the University of Florida, which tracks turnout. That is up 67.8 percent from the 20.5 million early votes cast in all of 2014, the last federal election when the White House was not at stake.

For all Reuters election coverage, click: here

Reporting by John Whitesides; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Susan Thomas

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