Category Archives: United States

(CityAM) UK national security at risk over Huawei 5G plans, Trump officials warn

(CityAM)

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The US has warned its allies against using Huawei equipment in 5G networks (Source: Getty)

The UK’s plans for building a 5G mobile network are putting national security at risk, Trump officials have warned, as the US urges its allies not to partner with Huawei.

Senior US officials warned the UK’s system of testing Huawei equipment would not be enough to ensure the country’s 5G network is secure, the Financial Times reported.

Read moreGermany will set its own 5G security standards, says Merkel

The warnings come amid growing pressure from the US, which has told its allies any collaboration with the Chinese tech firm could compromise intelligence sharing agreements.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is part of GCHQ, is currently preparing its annual report into the safety of Huawei equipment.

While the findings of the report are yet to be published, the NCSC has previously indicated it has not seen any evidence of spying by the Chinese firm.

One US official told the Financial Times a significant risk of 5G is that it is based on software, meaning the network can be altered even after the equipment has undergone testing.

“One analogy that we can often use is, one minute you’re holding a 5G coffee cup that is transmitting back telemetric data on what the temperature is what the actual liquid is inside. And then the next moment that object can turn into something radically different,” the source said.

“While a huge opportunity, it is also deeply concerning to us from the perspective of national security.”

The official cast doubts over the UK’s programme for testing Huawei equipment, which is carried out at a dedicated NCSC facility in Banbury known as ‘The Cell’.

“The mandate that the UK and their Huawei oversight centre has is a purely technical mandate about looking at a piece of equipment that is sitting in front of you,” the person said.

“Ours is a much broader question about how trust is changing in the way in which 5G networks will work in the future. Right now, back doors exist by definition, that’s how the manufacturer runs the network.”

The NCSC declined to comment on the report. Earlier this year the spy organisation’s boss, Ciaran Martin, said the UK has “arguably the toughest and most rigorous oversight regime in the world for Huawei”.

“Huawei’s presence is subject to detailed, formal oversight, led by the NCSC,” he said at a cyber security conference in Brussels.

“We also have strict controls for how Huawei is deployed. It is not in any sensitive networks – including those of the government.”

Read moreUS threatens to cut intelligence sharing with Germany over Huawei

The Trump administration has launched a campaign urging its allies not to use the Chinese firm’s equipment. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has previously warned that countries using Huawei technology in their 5G networks risk damaging their relationship with the US.

The Chinese firm has denied all allegations of spying and accused the US of operating a coordinated smear campaign. Earlier this month the company sued the US government, claiming a law limiting its US business was unconstitutional.

(CBS) Brain trauma suffered by U.S. diplomats abroad could be work of hostile foreign government

(CBS)

Since 2016, dozens of American officials have come home from Cuba and China with unexplained brain trauma. Evidence shows it may be the work of another government using a weapon that leaves no trace

In 2016 and ’17, 25 Americans, including CIA agents, who worked in the U.S. Embassy in Cuba suffered serious brain injuries causing impaired vision and memory loss among other persistent symptoms. Now, we’ve learned that at least 15 American officials in China suffered unexplained brain trauma soon after. The FBI is now investigating whether these Americans were attacked by a mysterious weapon that leaves no trace. Over many months we have been collecting evidence of what appears to be a hostile foreign government’s plan to target americans serving abroad and their families.

Mark Lenzi: For me it was November of 2017, when I started to feel lightheaded a lot. I was getting more headaches, my wife was getting headaches too.

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Mark Lenzi

Mark Lenzi is a State Department security officer who worked in the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China. He says that he and his wife began to suffer after hearing strange sounds in their apartment.

Mark Lenzi: Picture holding a marble. Then, picture if you had like a six foot in diameter funnel, metal funnel. The sound that marble would make as it goes around and it progressively gets faster as it gets, goes down towards the hole at the end. It’s a sound like I’ve never heard before.

Scott Pelley: Was this subtle? Like, “Did I hear that?”

Mark Lenzi: No. It was, it was actually somewhat loud. I heard it about three or four times. Always in the same spot. Always over my son’s crib and always right before we would go to bed.

“This was a directed, standoff attack against my apartment.”

Lenzi wears prescribed glasses because sensitivity to light is among his persistent symptoms.

Mark Lenzi: The symptoms were progressively getting worse with me. My headaches were getting worse.  The most concerning symptom for me was memory loss, especially short-term memory loss.

Mark Lenzi believes he was targeted because of his work. He uses top secret equipment to analyze electronic threats to diplomatic missions.

Mark Lenzi: There is no shadow of a doubt in my mind that this was a directed attack against my neighbor and I.

His neighbor was Catherine Werner, who lived one floor up. She’s a U.S. Commerce Department trade officer who promoted American business from the Guangzhou Consulate.

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Catherine Werner

Catherine Werner: I woke up in the middle of the night. I could feel this sound in my head. Um, it was intense pressure on both of my temples. At the same time, I heard this low humming sound, and it was oscillating. And I remember looking around for where this sound was coming from, because it was painful.  

Scott Pelley: When did you first notice that you weren’t feeling well?

Catherine Werner: October of 2017, I started to get hives all over my body. Really bad hives. I woke up with headaches every day. Um, I started to feel tired. The simplest things would just make me very, very tired.

Scott Pelley: Were these symptoms growing worse over time?

Catherine Werner: They were. Yes. My symptoms would get so bad that I would throw up, or I would wake up with nosebleeds.

She says even her dogs were throwing up blood. Werner assumed her illness was connected to China’s toxic smog. She didn’t know it at the time but her symptoms were the same that American officials in Havana had suffered since 2016. The U.S. Embassy there is all but closed as a result.

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The U.S. Embassy in Havana, now all but closed

Catherine Werner: We hadn’t heard about what happened in Cuba. I mean, there were headlines in the news about hearing loss and um, attacks to our diplomats, but we didn’t know the details.

Catherine Werner became so ill, her mother traveled from the U.S. to live with her.

Catherine Werner: She spent almost three months with me. During that time she also got very ill. Um, and she and I shared the same symptoms.

Scott Pelley: What sort of symptoms did your mother have?

Catherine Werner: Headaches and um, ringing in our ears. Um, we also started to both um, have difficulty recalling words.

After reporting her experiences, Werner was medically evacuated to the U.S. for treatment. U.S. agencies are investigating, but Mark Lenzi has a theory.

Mark Lenzi: This was a directed standoff attack against my apartment.

Scott Pelley: It was a weapon?

Mark Lenzi: Oh, of course it was a weapon.

Scott Pelley: An energy weapon–

Mark Lenzi: Absolutely.

Scott Pelley: What sort of energy is this that we’re talking about?

Mark Lenzi:  I believe it’s RF, radio frequency energy, in the microwave range.

A clue that supports that theory was revealed by the National Security Agency in 2014. This NSA statement describes such a weapon as a “high-powered microwave system weapon that may have the ability to weaken, intimidate, or kill an enemy over time without leaving evidence.” The statement goes on to say “…this weapon is designed to bathe a target’s living quarters in microwaves.” The NSA disclosed this in a worker’s compensation case filed by former NSA employee Mike Beck.

Scott Pelley: When you look back across your career is there any incident that leads you to believe that it could be responsible for your Parkinson’s disease?

Mike Beck: Yes.

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Mike Beck

In the 1990’s Beck and an NSA co-worker were on assignment overseas. Years later, he says they developed Parkinson’s Disease at the same time.

Mike Beck: In 1996 a colleague of mine, Chuck Gubete, and I traveled to a hostile country and worked there for about a week. And um, I can’t say where the hostile country– the identity of it.

Scott Pelley: Because it’s still classified?

Mike Beck: Yes.

But it was not Cuba or China.

Scott Pelley: You believe that you and Chuck Gubete were attacked with this microwave weapon?

Mike Beck: Yes. I had a pretty good working knowledge of the hostile country’s intelligence services, what they do to people, what they have done, what their modus operandi is.

Mike Beck says more intelligence has come in recently which he shared in a classified briefing with congressional investigators.

Scott Pelley: Mike, you can’t discuss any of these details because they’re all classified. But in your opinion, does the new information that you briefed the House and Senate Intelligence Committee staff on in any way relate to what happened in Cuba and China?

Mike Beck: It’s relevant to the Cuba and China cases.

No one has officially confirmed that what Beck says happened to him is related to at least 40 Americans injured in China and Cuba. While Beck suffers from Parkinson’s the recent patients are being treated for the same kind of symptoms that doctors would expect from a concussion. Dr. Teena Shetty is Mark Lenzi’s neurologist.

Dr. Teena Shetty: So Mark initially came to me reporting symptoms of headache, memory loss, sleep difficulties, emotionality, and irritability.

Scott Pelley: And what did you make of that in the early days?

Dr. Teena Shetty: I was very surprised. He did not have any history of any trauma or blow to his head, but he reported a constellation of neurologic symptoms which are characteristic of mild traumatic brain injury, without any history of associated head trauma.

Exactly how their brains were injured is the subject of a study at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Brain Injury and Repair. Dr. Shetty is not part of that study, but her patient, Mark Lenzi, is.

Dr. Teena Shetty: The presumption is that something happened which caused a functional brain injury of widespread brain networks because he has symptoms to reflect a multitude of brain networks.

What Dr. Shetty describes mirrors the findings published so far by the University of Pennsylvania study.

Robyn Garfield:They have said that our symptoms are exactly what they saw in Cuba, and that we have the full suite of findings that they had there.

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Robyn and Britta Garfield

Robyn and Britta Garfield are among the 40 patients enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania study. Like Catherine Werner, Robyn Garfield is a trade officer with the Commerce Department. He was posted with his wife and two young children in Shanghai.

Robyn Garfield: I don’t know when the sound started. Um, I do know that it was for months on end.

Britta Garfield: I was sitting next to Robyn and something I felt like hit me from the left side. Um, and at first it felt like an electric shock um, and then it paralyzed me, so I was not able to move or speak.

Scott Pelley: It hit you so hard you felt like you were in danger in the room?

Britta Garfield: Yes.

They say the children suffered blurred vision and loss of balance.

Scott Pelley: Your daughter was literally falling down?

Robyn Garfield: Yes. She fell down multiple times that day.

Britta Garfield: We went on a walk and she just fell on her face. It was very abnormal. She never does that. And then a second time she completely lost her balance and just fell to the side.

Last spring the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, confirmed the case of Catherine Werner. U-Penn found her brain injuries matched the Cuba victims.

Mike Pompeop on May 23, 2018: We had an incident in Guangzhou that the medical indications are very similar and entirely consistent with the medical indications that have taken place to Americans working in Cuba.

But for reasons that are unclear, the State Department is raising doubt about the other 14 China cases. The State Department’s medical office sent Mark Lenzi this note that says, “We have reached the decision that your symptoms and findings do not correlate with the Havana cohort.”

Mark Lenzi: They tried to deny it. They tried to cover it up. They tried to minimize it.

Scott Pelley: Why would the State Department minimize this?

Mark Lenzi: Because it’s China, because we have such a large trade relationship with them. You can push around Cuba. Their trade, you know, relations are minimal. With China, that’s a different beast. Right?

State Department doctors told Robyn Garfield his illness stems from a baseball injury 17 years ago, which does not explain his wife and children.

Robyn Garfield: It is a very complicated geopolitical relationship between the U.S. and China. So that, to me, feels like why this determination’s being made.

Scott Pelley: What does it mean for your benefits today that the State Department is refusing to call this an attack?

Robyn Garfield: It has significant impact on our, our life. Our finances. My career as well, likely. I have not been afforded time for my rehabilitation. Being classified as a preexisting injury means that I don’t have access to paid leave. It also means that after one year my medical bills will not be covered currently.

The China patients have the attention of at least one member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Jeanne Shaheen wrote Secretary Pompeo, “The group from China is increasingly feeling isolated and left behind by… the State Department.”

(NYT) Facebook’s Data Deals Are Under Criminal Investigation

(NYT) Facebook’s offices in Menlo Park, Calif. A federal grand jury is looking at partnerships that gave tech companies broad access to Facebook users’ information.CreditJason Henry for The New York Times

Facebook’s offices in Menlo Park, Calif. A federal grand jury is looking at partnerships that gave tech companies broad access to Facebook users’ information.CreditCreditJason Henry for The New York Times

By Michael LaForgiaMatthew Rosenberg and Gabriel J.X. DanceMarch 13, 2019

Federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into data deals Facebook struck with some of the world’s largest technology companies, intensifying scrutiny of the social media giant’s business practices as it seeks to rebound from a year of scandal and setbacks.

A grand jury in New York has subpoenaed records from at least two prominent makers of smartphones and other devices, according to two people who were familiar with the requests and who insisted on anonymity to discuss confidential legal matters. Both companies had entered into partnerships with Facebook, gaining broad access to the personal information of hundreds of millions of its users.

The companies were among more than 150, including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Sony, that had cut sharing deals with the world’s dominant social media platform. The agreements, previously reported in The New York Times, let the companies see users’ friends, contact information and other data, sometimes without consent. Facebook has phased out most of the partnerships over the past two years.

“We are cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement. “We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions and pledged that we will continue to do so.”

It is not clear when the grand jury inquiry, overseen by prosecutors with the United States attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York, began or exactly what it is focusing on. Facebook was already facing scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission. And the Justice Department’s securities fraud unit began investigating it after reports that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, had improperly obtained the Facebook data of 87 million people and used it to build tools that helped President Trump’s election campaign.

The Justice Department and the Eastern District declined to comment for this article.

The Cambridge investigation, still active, is being run by prosecutors from the Northern District of California. One former Cambridge employee said investigators questioned him as recently as late February. He and three other witnesses in the case, speaking on the condition of anonymity so they would not anger prosecutors, said a significant line of inquiry involved Facebook’s claims that it was misled by Cambridge.

Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, testifying before Congress in April.CreditTom Brenner/The New York Times

[Read more on the 5 ways Facebook shared your data.]

In public statements, Facebook executives had said that Cambridge told the company it was gathering data only for academic purposes. But the fine print accompanying a quiz app that collected the information said it could also be used commercially. Selling user data would have violated Facebook’s rules at the time, yet the social network does not appear to have regularly checked that apps were complying. Facebook deleted the quiz app in December 2015.

The disclosures about Cambridge last year thrust Facebook into the worst crisis of its history. Then came news reports last June and December that Facebook had given business partners — including makers of smartphones, tablets and other devices — deep access to users’ personal information, letting some companies effectively override users’ privacy settings.

The sharing deals empowered Microsoft’s Bing search engine to map out the friends of virtually all Facebook users without their explicit consent, and allowed Amazon to obtain users’ names and contact information through their friends. Apple was able to hide from Facebook users all indicators that its devices were even asking for data.

Privacy advocates said the partnerships seemed to violate a 2011 consent agreement between Facebook and the F.T.C., stemming from allegations that the company had shared data in ways that deceived consumers. The deals also appeared to contradict statements by Mark Zuckerberg and other executives that Facebook had clamped down several years ago on sharing the data of users’ friends with outside developers.

F.T.C. officials, who spent the past year investigating whether Facebook violated the 2011 agreement, are now weighing the sharing deals as they negotiate a possible multibillion-dollar fine. That would be the largest such penalty ever imposed by the trade regulator.

Facebook has aggressively defended the partnerships, saying they were permitted under a provision in the F.T.C. agreement that covered service providers — companies that acted as extensions of the social network.

The company has taken steps in the past year to tackle data misuse and misinformation. Last week, Mr. Zuckerberg unveiled a plan that would begin to pivot Facebook away from being a platform for public sharing and put more emphasis on private communications.

(BBC) Venezuela: US withdraws all staff from Caracas embassy

(BBC)

Image shows the entrance of the embassy of the United States in Caracas
Image captionSecretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that staff would be withdrawn from the Caracas embassy

The US will withdraw all diplomatic staff from Venezuela this week due to the “deteriorating situation” there, the state department has said.

In a tweet, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said having staff in Caracas had “become a constraint on US policy”.

The US ordered all non-essential staff to leave Venezuela in January amid an ongoing diplomatic crisis.

Widespread power cuts and a worsening humanitarian crisis have sparked mass protests.

Amid the crisis, a well-known journalist was detained on Tuesday. Luis Carlos Diaz became the latest journalist targeted by Venezuelan authorities, after he was accused by a radical pro-government TV programme of playing a role in the blackout.

The decision to vacate the embassy came late on Monday and followed critical comments Mr Pompeo made to reporters about Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Relations between the two countries have deteriorated in recent months.

On Tuesday, in a statement published on Twitter by Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, Venezuela’s government gave the remaining US diplomats in the country 72 hours to leave. The US said the “former president” no longer had the authority to order them out.

US President Donald Trump backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó as president after Mr Guaidó declared himself interim leader on 23 January. Venezuela then broke off diplomatic relations in response.

“Nicolás Maduro promised Venezuelans a better life in a socialist paradise,” Mr Pompeo said on Monday. “He delivered on the socialism part… the paradise part? Not so much.”

But in a televised address, Mr Maduro blamed the continuing power cuts on foreign sabotage. “The United States’ imperialist government ordered this attack,” he said, without offering evidence.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro speaks during a televised address on Monday
Image captionVenezuelan President Nicolás Maduro blamed the US for the ongoing power outage

What’s the latest?

Much of Venezuela has been without power since last Thursday. This has reportedly been caused by problems at the Guri hydroelectric plant in Bolívar state – one of the largest such facilities in Latin America.

Venezuela depends on its vast hydroelectric infrastructure, rather than its oil reserves, for its domestic electricity supply.

But decades of underinvestment have damaged the major dams, and sporadic blackouts are commonplace.

People detained by security forces lie on the street after looting broke out during an ongoing blackout in Caracas, Venezuela
Image captionPeople were detained by security forces after looting broke out during the blackout

The opposition says at least 17 people have reportedly died as a result of the blackout.

Over the weekend, pro-government and opposition groups staged rival demonstrations and there were sporadic clashes with police.

Further protests are expected in the capital on Tuesday.

A woman is detained by security forces after looting broke out
Image captionA woman is detained by police during the power cuts

What’s the background?

President Maduro has accused Mr Guaidó of trying to mount a coup against him with the help of “US imperialists”.

Mr Maduro narrowly won a presidential election in April 2013 after the death of his mentor, President Hugo Chávez. He and was elected to a second term in May 2018 in an election which has been widely described as “neither free nor fair”.

In recent years Venezuela has experienced economic collapse, with severe food shortages and inflation reaching at least 800,000% last year.

The Maduro government is becoming increasingly isolated as more and more countries blame it for the economic crisis, which has prompted more than three million people to leave Venezuela.

(CNBC) US ambassador in Berlin urges Germany to cut ties with Huawei or risk losing access to intelligence: WSJ

(CNBC)

Germany risks losing access to intel

  • Ambassador Richard Grenell wrote a letter to Germany’s economics minister urging Berlin to not allow Huawei or other third parties from China to provide 5G infrastructure to the country, according to The Wall Street Journal.
  • The U.S. and Germany have been trying to repair a fragile intelligence sharing relationship following spy scandals in 2013 and 2014.

Kate FazziniPublished 21 Hours Ago  Updated 20 Hours AgoCNBC.com

A man walks past a Huawei shop in Beijing, China, March 7, 2019.

Thomas Peter | ReutersA man walks past a Huawei shop in Beijing, China, March 7, 2019.

Berlin should bar Huawei or other Chinese vendors from constructing Germany’s 5G network or risk losing access to U.S. intelligence, according to a letter from U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell to the country’s economics minister, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

The two countries have been carefully rebuilding their intelligence sharing relationship since 2013 and 2014, when the U.S. and Germany were at odds over two spying scandals stemming from the revelations by Edward Snowden of NSA snooping. Last month, German officials said they “weren’t ready” to ban Huawei equipment and were unsure of the legality of such a request, according to a statement from the German Interior Ministry.

“A direct exclusion of a particular 5G manufacturer is currently not legally possible and not planned,” said a ministry spokesman, according to a CNBC translation. “The focus is on adapting the necessary security requirements so that the security of these networks will be guaranteed even if there are potentially untrustworthy manufacturers on the market.”

The letter was sent Friday, the Journal said. This would be the first time the U.S. has explicitly threatened consequences against a country for using the Huawei’s equipment, which has been the subject of heavy scrutiny from U.S. intelligence agencies that say the company is intimately connected to the Chinese government and intelligence agencies. Huawei continues to deny these claims, and has launched legal and marketing campaigns to defend itself.

A Huawei spokesperson and Grenell’s office were not immediately available to comment.

(BBG) OPEC to Be Squeezed by U.S. Shale Until Mid-2020s, IEA Says

(BBG) By Grant Smith11 de março de 2019, 08:00 WET Updated on 11 de março de 2019, 11:08 WET

  •  Declines in Iran, Venezuela to reduce cartel’s output capacity
  •  Demand for group’s crude stays below pre-cuts level until 2024

OPEC’s loss of market power to what was once its biggest customer will continue until the middle of the next decade as U.S. shale oil thrives.

By 2024, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ capacity to pump crude will actually shrink because of declines in Iran and Venezuela, according to the International Energy Agency. As rivals grow, the amount of oil the world needs from the cartel each year won’t recover to pre-2016 levels — before OPEC started cutting production — throughout the period.

The report may be sobering reading for OPEC, which has capped its production for the past two years to stave off a global glut that would depress prices. Although its cutbacks have mostly achieved those aims, they’ve also invigorated the shale-oil boom in the U.S., helping the country become the world’s biggest crude producer.

America’s energy expansion will proceed, accounting for 70 percent of the growth in global production capacity through to 2024, the Paris-based IEA said in its medium-term report. By that time, the nation could be able to export 9 million barrels a day, exceeding the export capabilities of Russia and coming close to those of Saudi Arabia, the agency said.

“The United States continues to dominate supply growth in the medium term,” said the IEA, which advises most of the world’s major economies on energy policy.

With U.S. supply growth to be supplemented by Brazil, Norway and Guyana, the IEA substantially raised forecasts for new crude from outside OPEC, by as much as 3.3 million barrels a day by 2024.

As a result, estimates for the crude needed from OPEC’s 14 members were slashed. By 2024, the world will still need less crude from the group than it was pumping before production cuts started. That suggests that the group will need to persist with its current output restraints into the next decade, the IEA said.

The amount of crude OPEC is capable of pumping is also set to deteriorate, declining by 380,000 barrels a day by 2024 to 34.53 million. U.S. sanctions will hem in Iran’s oil industry and economic turmoil will take its toll on Venezuela’s, the agency said.

Assuming American restrictions remain in place on Iran, the Islamic Republic’s production capacity will sink by 1.2 million barrels a day to 2.65 million in 2024, and Venezuela’s by 56,000 a day to 750,000.

Among OPEC nations, only Iraq and the United Arab Emirates are set to implement significant additions to its production capacity, the IEA forecasts. Iraq will add 900,000 barrels a day to 2024 to reach 5.8 million a day, while the U.A.E will boost by 500,000 to reach 3.85 million a day. If the sanctions on Iran are removed, OPEC’s collective capacity will expand by 820,000 barrels a day.

The agency kept its view on the rate of growth in global oil demand steady, projecting an annual increase of 1.2 million barrels a day, or 1.1 percent, through to 2024. Trade disputes and the prospect of a “disorderly Brexit” pose risks to these projections, it said.

(Axios) A petro-tipping point: U.S. to surpass Saudi oil exports

(Axios)

Oil and gas wells on Denver International Airport property as seen from a passenger plane landing at the airport in Denver, Colorado.
Oil and gas wells on Denver International Airport property. Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Rising U.S. exports of crude oil and petroleum products (like gasoline) combined are poised to overtake Saudi Arabia’s by the end of the year, Rystad Energy predicts in a new analysis.

Why it matters: It’s a testament to how the U.S. oil boom is increasingly affecting global trade. And it’s just symbolically interesting.Show less

What they’re saying: “This remarkable turnaround is made possible by the continued rise in oil production from [U.S.] shale plays and the increased oil export capacity from the Gulf Coast,” the consultancy said in a brief report.

But, but, but: The U.S. is not rivaling the Saudis when it comes to crude oil exports anytime soon, even as the U.S. crude shipments grow.

  • Numbers bounce around but overall the Saudis are exporting around 7 million barrels per day of crude. The U.S. levels — which have grown sharply in recent years — are still typically much less than half that amount.
  • But the U.S. exports lots of gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products.

The bottom line: The Saudis are at around 9 million barrels per day when you combine crude, natural gas liquids and other petroleum products. The U.S. is at around 8 million and rising.

(CNBC) China’s Huawei sues the US, claiming it shouldn’t be blocked from selling to federal government

(CNBC) China’s Huawei sues the US, claiming it shouldn’t be blocked from selling to federal government

  • Huawei is suing the U.S. over a law that bans government agencies from buying the Chinese technology giant’s equipment, claiming the legislation is unconstitutional.
  • The lawsuit focuses on a provision in a law known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
  • It comes after Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s CFO, filed legal proceedings against Canadian authorities alleging they arrested, detained and searched her in violation of her constitutional rights.

Arjun Kharpal@ArjunKharpalPublished 10 Hours Ago  Updated 9 Hours AgoCNBC.com

Why Huawei is suing the US, and what it hopes to achieve  9 Hours Ago | 03:29

Huawei is suing the U.S. over a law that bans government agencies from buying the Chinese technology giant’s equipment, claiming the legislation is unconstitutional, as the company goes on the front foot following months of political pressure.

The lawsuit, which was filed on Thursday local time, focuses on a provision in a law known as the National Defense Authorization Act. Section 889 of that legislation prohibits executive government agencies from procuring telecommunications hardware made by Huawei and another Chinese firm, ZTE. Both companies are explicitly named in the act.

But lawyers for the world’s largest network equipment maker by revenue, argued that the provision in the NDAA is against the U.S. Constitution.

Huawei has faced intense pressure from President Donald Trump’sadministration, which claims the company’s equipment could be used for espionage by the Chinese government. The tech giant is also facing criminal charges from the Justice Department, which has accused it of stealing trade secrets and skirting U.S. sanctions on Iran. The U.S. government has also tried to persuade allies against using Huawei gear.

Top executives, including the company’s founder, have repeatedly denied the allegations that Huawei is a security risk, while the company has also been carrying out a major public relations push to change its image. The Chinese firm is now going on the legal offensive.

Huawei argues that the provision in the NDAA in which it is explicitly named is really a “bill of attainder” — wherein a legislative act pronounces a specific individual or group guilty of some offense and punishes them without due process. That’s forbidden by the U.S. Constitution. The company’s lawyers also argued that Section 889 is unlawful because it violates Huawei’s right to due process, meaning the firm cannot hear the evidence against it and fight that in court.

Huawei’s legal team is essentially arguing that, by including the provision in the legislation and banning the company’s sales to federal agencies in law, Congress is unconstitutionally acting as a judiciary.

The federal district court where the lawsuit is filed will make a decision on whether Huawei’s lawsuit will hold. Either side — Huawei or the U.S. government — can appeal that decision. A court has the power to invalidate a part of legislation without ripping apart the entire law. So, in theory, Huawei could get Section 889 thrown out.

Huawei will be hoping that by getting Section 889 of the NDAA scrapped, it could open the door for conversations with the U.S. government.

Glen Nager, lead counsel for Huawei and partner at Jones Day, claimed Thursday to CNBC that the American law is “hurting Huawei’s customers in the United States.”

Visitors pass in front of the Huawei's stand on the first day of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelonaon on February 27, 2017 in Barcelona.

Lluis Gene | AFP | Getty ImagesVisitors pass in front of the Huawei’s stand on the first day of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelonaon on February 27, 2017 in Barcelona.

“It’s damaging Huawei’s reputation and it’s limiting the ability of Huawei to provide its innovative products, including 5G, to consumers in the United States,” he added. “Huawei hopes that it can engage in a constructive conversation with the president and his administration over how to bring these innovative technologies and Huawei competition to the United States while providing full assurance of security for the United States of America.”

Huawei has long argued that its absence from the U.S. market will hamper competition in the next generation of mobile networking technology — a claim that experts have contested.

The technology firm is also fighting fires on other fronts. Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Canada in December and was accused of breaking U.S. sanctions against Iran. She faces extradition to the U.S. But the CFO’s lawyers are now suing Canadian authorities, alleging they arrested, detained and searched her in violation of her constitutional rights.

What is 5G?

What is 5G?  7:01 AM ET Tue, 19 Feb 2019 | 05:03

Huawei’s lawsuit against the U.S. bears some similarities to a case in 2018 involving Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab. In September 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ordered government agencies to stop using Kaspersky software, alleging it could be used for espionage by Russia. The ban was later ratified in law.

Kaspersky filed two lawsuits against the government with one claiming the move amounted to a bill of attainder. The two lawsuits were thrown out by a judge in May and Kaspersky also lost an appeal later in the year.

(Reuters) South Korea to work with U.S. and North Korea after failed nuclear talks

(Reuters)

SEOUL/HANOI (Reuters) – South Korea will work with the United States and North Korea to ensure they reach agreement on denuclearisation, the South’s president said on Friday, a day after talks between the U.S. and North Korean leaders collapsed over sanctions.South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivers a speech during a ceremony celebrating the 100th anniversary of the March First Independence Movement against Japanese colonial rule, in central Seoul, South Korea, March 1, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

A second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Vietnam, was cut short after they failed to reach a deal on the extent of sanctions relief North Korea would get in exchange for steps to give up its nuclear programme.

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has been an active supporter of efforts to end confrontation on the Korean peninsula, meeting Kim three times last year and trying to facilitate his nuclear negotiations with the United States.

“My administration will closely communicate and cooperate with the United States and North Korea so as to help their talks reach a complete settlement by any means,” Moon said in a speech in the South Korean capital, Seoul.

RELATED COVERAGE

Moon also said South Korea would consult the United States on ways to resume joint projects with the North including tourism development at Mount Kumgang and the Kaesong industrial complex, both in North Korea.

The Hanoi summit came eight months after Trump and Kim met for the first time in Singapore and agreed to establish new relations and peace in exchange for a North Korean commitment to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

Trump said two days of talks had made good progress but it was important not to rush into a bad deal. He said he had walked away because of unacceptable North Korean demands.

“It was all about the sanctions,” Trump told a news conference after the talks were cut short. “Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that.”

‘BIGGEST STEP’

However, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told a midnight news conference after Trump left Hanoi that North Korea had sought only a partial lifting of sanctions “related to people’s livelihoods and unrelated to military sanctions”.

He said North Korea had offered a realistic proposal involving the dismantling of all of its main nuclear site at Yongbyon, including plutonium and uranium facilities, by engineers from both countries.

“This is the biggest denuclearisation step we can take based on the current level of trust between the two countries,” Ri said.

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui told the briefing she had the impression that Kim “might lose his willingness to pursue a deal” after the U.S. side rejected a partial lifting of sanctions in return for destruction of Yongbyon, “something we had never offered before”.

Speaking to South Korean media later on Friday, Choe appeared more pessimistic chances for progress.

“Having conducted the talks this time, it occurs to us that there may not be a need to continue,” she said, adding that North Korea had taken “many steps” to try to reach a deal.

“We’re doing a lot of thinking,” she said while adding, the situation would change “if our demands can be resolved”.

But despite raising that doubt, both sides have indicated they wanted to maintain the momentum and press on.

“We are anxious to get back to the table so we can continue that conversation that will ultimately lead to peace and stability, better life for the North Korean people, and a lower threat, a denuclearised North Korea,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a news conference in Manila.Slideshow (4 Images)

North Korean media adopted a conciliatory tone.

The state KCNA news agency said Kim and Trump had a constructive, sincere exchange and decided to continue productive talks, without mentioning that the talks ended abruptly with no agreement.

Kim, who is due to leave Vietnam on Saturday, also expressed gratitude to Trump for putting in efforts to get results, KCNA said.

‘OPPORTUNITY TO TALK’

A U.S. State Department official said the North Korean media coverage had been constructive, indicating “ample opportunity to talk”.

U.S., N. Korea spar over talks breakdown

The United Nations and the United States ratcheted up sanctions on North Korea when the reclusive state conducted repeated nuclear and ballistic missile tests in 2017, cutting off its main sources of hard cash

The United States has demanded North Korea’s complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation before sanctions can be lifted. North Korea has denounced that position as “gangster like”.

The U.S. official said North Korea had proposed closing part of its Yongbyon nuclear complex in exchange for the lifting of all U.N. sanctions except those directly targeting their weapons of mass destruction programmes.

The U.S. side said “that wouldn’t work”, he said.

“The dilemma that we were confronted with is the North Koreans at this point are unwilling to impose a complete freeze on their weapons of mass destruction programmes,” said the official, who declined to be identified.

“So to give many, many billions of dollars in sanctions relief would in effect put us in a position of subsidising the ongoing development of weapons of mass destruction,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Analysts estimate North Korea may have a nuclear arsenal of 20 to 60 weapons which, if fitted to its intercontinental ballistic missiles, could threaten the U.S. mainland.

The collapse of the summit leaves Kim in possession of that arsenal though Trump said the North Korean leader had agreed to maintain his moratorium on nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

Failure to reach an agreement also marks a setback for Trump, a self-styled dealmaker under pressure at home over his ties to Russia and testimony from Michael Cohen, his former lawyer who accused him of breaking the law while in office.

Additional reporting by Eric Beech, Matt Spetalnick and David Brunnstrom in WASHINGTON; Jeff Mason, Soyoung Kim, James Pearson, Josh Smith, Ju-min Park, Mai Nyugen, Khanh Vu, Jack Kim in HANOI; Martin Petty and Karen Lema in MANILA; Editing by Robert Birsel and Lincoln Feast

(GUA) Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi collapses after negotiations fail

(GUA) US president says North Korea wanted all sanctions lifted for only partial denuclearisation

The second summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un ended in failure on Thursday with the two sides far apart on the central issues of disarmament and sanctions relief.

The abrupt end to the Hanoi meeting, which was cut short by several hours, was a setback from both leaders who had made long journeys – Kim by rail and Trump by air – in the expectation that a deal was within reach. There are no plans for a third summit, but the US has expressed willingness to continue talks at a lower level.

The collapse of the two leaders’ talks came suddenly. Late on Wednesday night the White House circulated detailed plans for negotiating sessions, a working lunch and a signing ceremony for a joint agreement. When the two leaders reconvened on Thursday morning, however, they appeared sombre and cautious about whether a deal was possible.

A few hours later, the summit was called off. The signing ceremony was cancelled and the official lunch left uneaten. Table settings and name cards went unused in the empty dining hall of the Metropole Hotel, the summit venue, as the leaders made their way back to their own hotels.

In his version of events, Trump said the deal broke down because Kim wanted complete sanctions relief for dismantling the main nuclear complex at Yongbyon, but the US wanted other nuclear facilities, including covert sites, disabled as well.

“It was about the sanctions basically,” Trump said at a press conference in Hanoi. “They wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn’t do that … Sometimes you have to walk, and this was just one of those times.”

“There is a gap. We have to have sanctions,” he said. “There is a gap. We have to have sanctions and he wants to denuke. But he wants to just do areas that are less important than the areas that we want.”

Trump made clear that the current status quo would continue, with North Korea continuing to suspend nuclear and missile tests, while the US would not take part in joint military exercises with South Korea, which the US president said he was opposed to anyway.

“I gave that up quite a while ago because it costs us $100m to do it. I hated to see it. I thought it was unfair,” Trump said, saying South Korea should shoulder more of the costs. “Exercising is fun and it’s nice they play their war games. I’m not saying its not necessary. On some levels it is. On other levels it’s not.”

Trump remained protective of the North Korean leader and the relationship between the two men. “We spent all day with Kim Jong-un,” he said. “He’s quite a guy and quite a character. And our relationship is very strong.”

He even defended Kim over the death of the US student Otto Warmbier, who was sent back home from North Korea seriously ill in June 2017. “He says he didn’t know about it and I will take him at his word,” he said.

Trump gave the most detailed public account to date of the central disagreements that have dogged the negotiations. He confirmed that the US side had confronted Pyongyang with US intelligence about covert nuclear facilities outside Yongbyon and demanded they be put on the negotiating table.

“We know the country very well, every inch of that country,” he said Yongbyon, “while very big, wasn’t enough”.

“We had to have more than that, because there were other things that we haven’t talked about, that we found, that we found a long time ago, but people didn’t know about,” he went on, making clear that one of the sites he was talking about was a second covert uranium enrichment programme. “We brought many points up that I think they were surprised that we knew.”

He said relaxing all sanctions in return for Yongbyon would been meant giving up leverage “that has taken so long to build.” .

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said the breakdown of talks was partly caused by differences over the sequences of nuclear disarmament and sanctions relief. The US wanted North Korea to put its current arsenal, thought to consist of several dozen warheads, some mounted on missiles, on the negotiating table as well, he said.

Trump flew out of Hanoi in the late afternoon, while Kim stayed in the city for talks with the Vietnamese leadership and will make the 70 hour car and train back to Pyongyang on the weekend. It was unclear whether he would stop in Beijing to meet the Chinese president, Xi Jinping.

Trump said he would call his regional allies, the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, as soon as he boarded Air Force One.

The breakdown of the summit is a political disaster for Moon, who had been counting on progress that would lift international sanctions restricting trade and investment between North and South Korea.

A South Korean diplomat said Seoul was stunned by the result. “It was shock. We are trying to figure out what happened,” the diplomat said. “We need to watch what happened behind the scenes.”

(CNN) What to watch during the Trump-Kim Vietnam summit

(CNN)

Hanoi (CNN)US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un won’t be able to replicate the historic nature of their first summit as they meet here in the Vietnamese capital on Wednesday.But their second summit will serve as a real test of whether the two men are indeed converting the optimism of their first meeting into a credible diplomatic endeavor capable of bringing about the long-sought denuclearization of North Korea.That remained in question as Trump arrived in Hanoi on Tuesday to meet with Kim for a summit that is kicking off amid high stakes and low expectations. After months of high-level diplomacy, US officials have made clear that they do not yet know if North Korea is prepared to give up its nuclear weapons.Here’s what to watch as the two leaders meet face-to-face:

A relationship on display: The optics

Trump bets it all on friendship with Kim

Trump bets it all on friendship with KimTrump has consistently emphasized the importance of the personal relationship he has forged with Kim throughout his diplomatic engagement with North Korea.He has referred to their written correspondence as “love letters” and praised Kim as “smart” and “tough.” And during their last summit, the two men played to the cameras with broad smiles, laughter and mutual pats on the back.With another eight months of trust-building between the two countries and still more “love letters” exchanged, the personal chemistry between the two men is sure to take center stage once again — and expert observers will be analyzing every piece of body language.While the second summit likely won’t be able to deliver the drama of the first, the optics-conscious US President seeks to frame his second meeting with Kim as yet another show of his deal-making abilities.Before a day of meetings on Thursday, Trump and Kim will sit down for dinner on Wednesday night, putting their one-on-one relationship at the center of the diplomatic effort.But just as with the first summit, the stagecraft framing the summit in historic terms will also serve to elevate Kim to a position of prominence on the world stage, setting him on level footing with the American President and reducing his isolation among other world leaders.

The deliverables

High stakes, low expectations for second Trump-Kim summit

High stakes, low expectations for second Trump-Kim summitBut beyond the red-carpet treatment and the cheery chemistry that will likely color their meeting, the most persistent question hanging over Trump’s second summit with the North Korean leader is simply: What will they achieve?In the lead-up to the summit, senior Trump administration officials have sought to temper expectations, making clear that a dramatic leap toward the goal of denuclearization is not in the offing. But the summit will nonetheless be a test of whether Trump and Kim can put some meat on the bones of the largely rhetorical accomplishments of their Singapore meeting.US and North Korean officials have been hammering out the contents of a joint declaration for the two leaders to agree to in Hanoi, and the Singapore declaration will be used as a benchmark to evaluate the pace of progress. If the Singapore declaration laid out the broad goals and areas of negotiation, how much more detail will the two leaders agree to in Hanoi? What specific commitments will the two sides make toward achieving the goals they agreed to in Singapore?US officials have been tight-lipped about the agreement that is coming together, but the second joint declaration could address: a mutually agreed definition of North Korean denuclearization, steps toward normalizing diplomatic relations, inspections at North Korean facilities, a freeze in North Korea’s nuclear activities or formalizing the steps to achieve denuclearization and a reduction in US sanctions.What’s clear is that the US will be looking to establish a clear framework for North Korea to take steps toward denuclearization. They are mindful that so far North Korea has yet to take any concrete and verifiable steps in that direction.

Split-screen effect

Democrats blast absent Trump with oversight offensive

Democrats blast absent Trump with oversight offensiveTrump’s arrival in Hanoi on Tuesday set the stage for the split-screen images that will define much of the Hanoi summit: At nearly the same time Trump touched down, his former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen was arriving on Capitol Hill to give private testimony to senators about the President.That imagery will be that much more jarring on Wednesday as Cohen testifies publicly before the House Oversight Committee.Trump has vociferously slammed his longtime former aide as a liar and denied the allegations leveled against him — but how much will he be distracted by Cohen’s testimony while in Vietnam?Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani told CNN’s Pamela Brown that Trump is focused on his summit with Kim.”I don’t think Michael Cohen is occupying even 10% of his attention right now,” Giuliani said.But back in Washington at least, White House officials will be watching Cohen’s public testimony and taking notes in case he wants to be briefed on the testimony, though a senior White House official said it’s possible Trump will watch the hearing, which will start shortly after he wraps up a dinner with Kim in Hanoi.It won’t be the first time the various investigations that have dogged Trump flared up while he is overseas. Days before he departed for his first presidential trip abroad in 2017, the Justice Department named Mueller as special counsel. A year later, as Trump was preparing to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland, the Justice Department announced it was indicting 12 Russian nationals on charges of hacking Democrats’ emails. And in December, Cohen pleaded guilty to a charge from Mueller’s office days before Trump attended a leaders’ summit in Argentina.It’s all led Trump to complain about the swirl of investigations, arguing it undermines his diplomatic effectiveness abroad.

Trump surprises?

Pompeo contradicts Trump tweet on North Korea threat

Play VideoPompeo contradicts Trump tweet on North Korea threat 01:46While US and North Korean officials continued to hash out the contents of the joint declaration in the days before the summit, there’s another reason why US officials have declined to preview likely areas of agreement. And that’s Trump’s penchant for catching his own aides off guard.In keeping with his “I alone can fix it” mantra — and his frequently dim view of the government’s subject-matter experts — Trump has been known to jettison the carefully laid plans of his own government in favor of following his own instincts. That much has been clear in Trump’s handling of world affairs, from US policy toward NATO to his approach to Russia.During the Singapore summit, Trump agreed on the spot to suspend joint US-South Korean exercises. Trump and US officials had not previously planned to put the war games on the table, but Trump’s in the moment move caught the US military’s top brass and regional allies off guard.Now, Trump’s advisers have fretted about what surprise concession the President might make this time.Among the most persistent concerns is that Trump would agree to reduce the US troop presence in South Korea. Those fears were allayed when the US and South Korea reached a new cost-sharing agreement just weeks before the summit, but when asked whether Trump would put the issue on the table during his summit with Kim, senior administration officials have merely said it is not an issue they have discussed with their North Korean counterparts.

How will Trump sell it?

Trump: Kim Jong Un and I see eye to eye

Play VideoTrump: Kim Jong Un and I see eye to eye 02:00For Trump, if one half of his mission on the world stage is the diplomacy and the dealmaking, then the other half is the branding and salesmanship that the former reality TV star has so frequently brought to the presidency.After the first summit in Singapore, Trump leaned into the historic nature of the first meeting between a sitting US president and North Korean leader. In a news conference after the summit, Trump focused on his swing from bellicose orator to peace-loving dealmaker. While the joint declaration offered little that North Korea had not previously agreed to, the symbolism of the summit helped back up his case.But Trump also oversold the significance of the moment and his achievement, taking to Twitter as he made his way back to Washington to declare that “there is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” It is a point that top Trump administration officials have had to walk back as recently as Sunday, when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged that a threat still exists.Regardless of the extent of the progress this week, Trump is poised to sell the summit to the public as proof of his dealmaking abilities and evidence that he is disproving his critics. After all, Trump has increasingly sought to cast the reduced tensions and ongoing diplomacy with North Korea as a victory in and of itself.

(GUA) Michael Cohen to call Donald Trump a ‘racist’, ‘cheat’ and ‘conman’ in first public hearing

(GUA) President’s former lawyer expected to say Trump knew of Roger Stone’s contact with WikiLeaks during 2016 campaign

Michael Cohen is to accuse Donald Trump of being a “conman” and a “cheat” who had advanced knowledge that a longtime adviser was communicating with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign, according to opening testimony he will deliver to Congress on Wednesday.

Cohen’s prepared remarks, confirmed by the Guardian, include a series of explosive allegations about the presidential campaign.

The president’s former lawyer, who will publicly testify before the House oversight committee on Wednesday, will state that Trump was told by Roger Stone that WikiLeaks would publish emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

“In July 2016, days before the Democratic convention, I was in Mr Trump’s office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone. Mr Trump put Mr Stone on the speakerphone,” Cohen’s opening statement reads.

“Mr Stone told Mr Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr Assange told Mr Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Mr Trump responded by stating to the effect of ‘wouldn’t that be great.’”Profile

Who is Michael Cohen?

The remarkable allegations by Cohen go further towards incriminating the president than anything disclosed so far by the special counsel investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Trump hit back from Hanoi, where he is due to attend a summit with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

“Michael Cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately). He had other clients also,” Trump said in a tweet.

The president had been meeting Vietnamese officials when news of Cohen’s extraordinary written statement broke. But he took to Twitter to hit back as soon he returned to his hotel in the Vietnamese capital, to await his evening meeting with Kim.

“He was just disbarred by the State Supreme Court for lying & fraud. He did bad things unrelated to Trump. He is lying in order to reduce his prison time,” Trump wrote.

In his statement, Cohen also suggest his instructions to lie to Congress about a possible Trump Tower deal in Moscow during the 2016 campaign came from the president – albeit not directly.

“In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for him, he would look me in the eye and tell me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing,” Cohen will say. “In his way, he was telling me to lie.”

“Mr Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates,” he will add.

Cohen’s testimony comes one day after he was interviewed under oath by the Senate intelligence committee in the first of three congressional appearances this week.

Cohen, who once said he would “take a bullet” for Trump but has since turned against his former boss, appeared before the Senate panel in a closed session on Tuesday.

Over the course of the hearings, NBC News said Cohen plans to “provide evidence of alleged criminal conduct by Trump since he became president”, while the New York Times reported Cohen “will use documents and his personal experiences to support his statements”.

Cohen will appear in another closed session before the House intelligence committee on Thursday. But all eyes will be on what the former Trump aide reveals on Wednesday, when he is to testify before the Houseoversight and reform committee in a public hearing.

Tensions rose ahead of the long-awaited session, when the Florida lawmaker Matt Gaetz on Tuesday appeared to threaten Cohen on Twitter.

Matt Gaetz(@mattgaetz)

Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot…February 26, 2019

Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, said his team would not respond to Gaetz’ allegations, “except to say we trust that his colleagues in the House, both Republicans and Democrats, will repudiate his words and his conduct”.

Cohenwill be testifying under penalty of perjury but will probably be met with skepticism from Republicans who will seek to draw attention to a track record of dishonesty.

The White House sought to discredit Cohen on Tuesday before the hearings began.

The White House spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, issued a statement saying he was “going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements”.

Sanders said it was “laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies”.

Lanny Davis, Cohen’s lawyer, told the Times that Cohen’s response to questions about his credibility will be: “I take full responsibility, I lied in the past; now you have to decide if I’m telling the truth.”

Cohen was sentenced to 36 months in prison in December for crimes including lying to Congress about Trump’s business dealings with Russia, and facilitating illegal payments. Cohen is set to surrender on 6 May to begin his sentence, as ordered by a federal judge.

In his guilty plea, Cohen said: “I made these misstatements to be consistent with Individual 1’s political messaging and out of loyalty to Individual 1.”

Individual 1 was a reference to Trump.

According to the New York Times, Cohen is expected to discuss what he says he knows of contacts between Trump and Russia, and lay out details on hush payments – which Cohen says were directed by Trump – made to two women, porn actor Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, during Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Trump denies the allegations and says that Cohen lied to get a lighter sentence.

US lawmakers are likely to hear Cohen testify that Trump asked him several times about a proposed skyscraper project in Moscow long after he secured the Republican presidential nomination, according to reports.

Cohen’s assertion that Trump was inquiring about the project as late as June 2016, if true, would show Trump remained personally interested in a business venture in Russia well into his candidacy.

On 29 November, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress by telling lawmakers in 2017 that all efforts relating to the Moscow project had ceased by January 2016. In fact, Cohen said, those efforts continued until June 2016.

Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion took place between his campaign and Moscow.

Cohen is also expected to discuss what he knows about a meeting between Trump campaign associates and a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower before the 2016 election, a matter that is of particular interest to special counsel Robert Mueller and congressional investigators.

But he is only expected to discuss matters related to Russia in the closed-door interviews with the congressional intelligence committees, so as not to interfere with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and links to Trump’s campaign.

Cohen’s week of interviews come as House Democrats launch multiple investigations into Trump’s ties to Russia and conflict-of-interest issues within the administration. House Republicans in the last Congress investigated whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russia, but ended that inquiry over Democratic objections, saying that there was no evidence that they did so. The Senate’s Russia investigation continues.

(BBC) Trump: US and China ‘very very close’ on deal

(BBC)

US President Donald Trump addresses US governors at the White House

President Donald Trump has said that the US and China are “very very close” to signing a trade agreement, potentially ending the long-running feud between the two countries.

Mr Trump told US governors on Monday that both nations “are going to have a signing summit”.

“Hopefully, we can get that completed. But we’re getting very, very close,” he said.

It follows a decision to delay imposing further trade tariffs on Chinese goods.

At the weekend, Mr Trump said both sides had made “substantial progress” in trade talks following a summit in Washington last week.

The rise in import duties on Chinese goods from 10% to 25% was due to come into effect on 1 March.

Instead, Mr Trump said the US is now planning a summit with Chinese Premier Xi Jinping at the US President’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

US shares rose on the decision to delay tariffs, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing 0.23% higher at 26,091.9.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also finished trading in positive territory.

As he prepared to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam, Mr Trump also tweeted that a China trade deal was in “advanced stages”.

Twitter post by @realDonaldTrump: China Trade Deal (and more) in advanced stages. Relationship between our two Countries is very strong. I have therefore agreed to delay U.S. tariff hikes. Let’s see what happens?

Mr Trump’s decision to delay tariff increases on $200bn (£153bn) worth of Chinese goods was seen as a sign that the two sides were moving ahead in settling their damaging trade war.

Last week, Mr Trump noted progress in the latest round of negotiations in Washington, including an agreement on currency manipulation, though no details were disclosed.

Sources told CNBC on Friday that China had committed to buying up to $1.2 trillion in US goods, but there had been no progress on the intellectual property issues.

Donald Trump and China's Vice Premier Liu He in the Oval Office
Image captionPresident Trump met China’s Vice Premier Liu He on Friday

Gregory Daco, chief US economist at Oxford Economics, said: “We had anticipated such a delay and believe a handshake agreement in which China will promise to import more agricultural products, work towards a stable currency and reinforce intellectual property rights protection will be achieved in the coming weeks.

“However, we don’t foresee a significant rollback of existing tariffs, and see underlying tensions regarding China’s strategic ambitions, its industrial policy, technological transfers and ‘verification and enforcement’ mechanisms remaining in place.”

What has happened in the trade war so far?

Mr Trump initiated the trade war over complaints of unfair Chinese trading practices.

That included accusing China of stealing intellectual property from American firms, forcing them to transfer technology to China.

The US has imposed tariffs on $250bn worth of Chinese goods, and China has retaliated by imposing duties on $110bn of US products.

Mr Trump has also threatened further tariffs on an additional $267bn worth of Chinese products – which would see virtually all of Chinese imports into the US become subject to duties.

US and China's tariffs against each other

The trade dispute has unnerved financial markets, risks raising costs for American companies and is adding pressure to a Chinese economy that is already showing signs of strain.

It has also stoked fears about the impact on the global economy.

Last year, the International Monetary Fund warned the trade war between the US and China risked making the world a “poorer and more dangerous place”.

(CNBC) Trump says he will delay additional China tariffs originally scheduled to start on March 1

(CNBC)

  • The United States is planning to delay a menu of additional Chinese tariffs that were scheduled to begin on March 1, President Donald Trump announced on Sunday, as both sides hash out a definitive end to a wide ranging trade dispute.
  • In a series of posts on Twitter, Trump cited “substantial progress” in bilateral talks between the world’s two largest economies.

Javier E. David@TeflonGeekPublished 5:55 PM ET Sun, 24 Feb 2019  Updated 9:08 PM ET Sun, 24 Feb 2019CNBC.com

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on February 22, 2019.

Trump and Chinese President Xi discussing late March summit at Mar-a-Lago, sources say  3:31 PM ET Fri, 22 Feb 2019 | 01:37

The United States is planning to delay a menu of additional Chinese tariffs that were scheduled to begin on March 1, President Donald Trump announced on Sunday, as the world’s two largest economies hash out a definitive end to a wide ranging trade dispute.

In a series of posts on Twitter, Trump cited “substantial progress” in bilateral talks between the U.S. and China. As a result, the president said he would suspend the new levies that would have taken place as early as Friday, but did not articulate a new deadline.

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

I am pleased to report that the U.S. has made substantial progress in our trade talks with China on important structural issues including intellectual property protection, technology transfer, agriculture, services, currency, and many other issues. As a result of these very……107K10:39 PM – Feb 24, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy29.7K people are talking about this

Last week, sources familiar with the situation told CNBC that the United States and China are discussing a late March meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida, news that Trump confirmed on Sunday. The summit is scheduled to take place at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago golf club in Palm Beach, Florida.

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

….productive talks, I will be delaying the U.S. increase in tariffs now scheduled for March 1. Assuming both sides make additional progress, we will be planning a Summit for President Xi and myself, at Mar-a-Lago, to conclude an agreement. A very good weekend for U.S. & China!103K10:50 PM – Feb 24, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy34.2K people are talking about this

Ahead of that confab, China has committed to buying up to $1.2 trillion in U.S. goods, though as late as last week, the two sides were said to be far apart on issues concerning the forced transfer of intellectual property.

Speaking at the White House hours after his tweets, Trump said there could be “very big news over the next week or two” if trade talks go well.

“China has been terrific. We want to make a deal that’s great for both countries and that’s really what we’re going to be doing,” the president told U.S. governors at the event.

Asia market sentiment was broadly higher on Monday.

The U.S.-China trade war has upended markets, and cast a shadow over prospects for global growth. In recent trading sessions, investors have been slowly pricing in the prospect that the fight would be resolved. On Sunday, Dow futures indicated a modestly higher opening on Wall Street Monday.

(CNET) California wants Silicon Valley to pay you a data dividend

(CNET)

The Golden State thinks tech companies should share the wealth.

An outline of the state of California is superimposed over a vast array of zeroes and ones.
Matt Anderson / Getty Images

It isn’t a secret that tech companies collect your personal data and use it to make a buck. If you don’t like it, stop using Facebook and Google. And the rest of the internet.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom thinks there might be a better relationship: Charge companies to use your information and give some of the benefit back to you. He calls it a “data dividend.”

“We recognize that your data has value,” Newsom said during his State of the State speech on Feb. 12.  “And it belongs to you.”

The idea of paying consumers for their data — either by letting them sell it or by taxing companies for the money made using personal data —  isn’t entirely new. Academics have kicked the idea around for decades, and Washington State tried to pass a similar plan in 2017.

Newsom’s suggestion, however, is eye-catching because it coincides with privacybecoming a front-and-center issue for many internet users. Calls for tech companies to get our consent to use our data have taken an increasingly urgent tone, putting those companies into damage control mode. Paying users for their data, as Newsom is suggesting, usually isn’t on the table. His talk of a data dividend might change the conversation.

Now playing: Stronger data privacy laws may be coming to the US 1:41

Another reason to pay attention to Newsom’s dividend talk: California, the home of Silicon Valley, has some of country’s most advanced data privacy laws. That includes the state’s recently passed data privacy protection law, which aims to give users much broader control over their data, as well as more specific laws that protect schoolchildren’s privacy and prevent employers from requiring workers to hand over passwords to their personal accounts.

CNET reached out to several major Silicon Valley companies for comment on Newsom’s remarks. The companies either declined to comment or didn’t respond.

Here comes legislation

While Newsom’s suggestion was open-ended, a bill is very near completion. Common Sense Media, the same organization that spearheaded California’s Student Online Personal Information Protection Act in 2014, has come up with a bill it plans to submit soon.

“While platforms are fast and loose with consumer data, they are not so willing to share what they are doing with the data or how much they are profiting,” said Jim Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media, in a statement. “We fully support the Governor’s data dividend proposal and expect to introduce legislation that reflects that in the coming weeks.”

The details of the bill, drafted by Princeton economist Glen Weyl, aren’t public yet. Weyl said in an interview that the bill is unlikely to push for a straight tax on tech companies for using consumer data, nor will it try to create a specific wage companies must pay consumers directly. Instead, he hopes the bill will help groups of people bargain for a good return on the data they’re generating for tech companies.

That’s because data isn’t just helping companies sell ads. It’s helping them build the tool of the future: artificial intelligence. And once AI starts really taking off, it will earn tech companies a lot of money while putting some people out of a job, Weyl said.

“This is more of a big-picture answer to the questions about AI,” Weyl said, “rather than a huge check in the near future.”

Paying the price

The idea of paying consumers for their data first surfaced in the 1990s, when Kenneth Laudon, an economist at New York University, argued that access to consumer data was artificially cheap. Companies sent out junk mail, and consumers and the government paid with time wasted on unwanted letters and subsidized postal rates. Invasion of privacy also prompted feelings of helplessness and lost trust in companies.

“The cost of invading privacy is far lower than the true social cost,” Laudon wrote. And that was in 1993.

To fix that, he suggested consumers should be allowed sell their data.

More recently, virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier wrote a book called Who Owns the Future? that focuses on the idea of paying users for internet content. Since then, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes as well as academics like Weyl have argued that companies such as Facebook and Google should pay users for time spent searching, clicking and liking, either with a tax or in wages. Finance expert Saadia Madsbjerg of the Rockefeller Foundation said the data brokers who buy and sell information about your internet usage from ISPs and other sources should be taxed for selling consumer data.This is more of a big-picture answer to the questions about AI, rather than a huge check in the near future.Economist Glen Weyl

California might be a powerful place to try the concept IRL. Laws passed in the Golden State tend to set things in motion nationally, like when the state legislators passed the strictest data privacy law in the country in June. That matters throughout the country.

In his book Click Here to Kill Everybody, cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier points out that the toughest state law in the country becomes the de facto federal law for the tech industry, because every tech company has customers in all 50 states.

The only thing that can stop a law like California’s is a federal law that supersedes it. After California’s data privacy law passed, major tech companies including Facebook and Google asked federal lawmakers to pass a privacy law to create a national standard. Several bills have been introduced, but none has passed yet.

Some privacy advocates don’t love the idea of a data dividend. They say public policy shouldn’t create incentives for consumers to share data. Rather, it should help them keep their information private.

Marc Rotenberg, president and executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said a data dividend is more akin to a copyright law than a privacy law. Copyright law encourages people to publish their work.

“That’s not how we understand privacy.” Rotenberg said. “Typically, we want to restrict data or make available the least amount of data possible.”

Balancing a payday with privacy restrictions

Alessandro Acquisti, a professor of information technology and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, said concerns a data dividend will simply encourage people to share their information are valid, up to a point.

A data dividend should be balanced with regulations that protect privacy, he said. Otherwise, a data dividend “may create perverse incentives without ultimately addressing consumers’ privacy concerns.”

Acquisti said there’s no reason Newsom’s soon-to-be-unveiled bill can’t strike that balance. What’s more, a law may be the only way to return the value of data back to internet users.

“I do not believe that such a significant change in the policy of consumer data will be implemented by the tech industry,” Acquisti said, “in absence of regulatory intervention.”

Facebook wants to show it’s a force for good amid scandals: The social network updates its tools for blood donations, nonprofits and mentorships.

Everything you need to know about the Qualcomm-FTC lawsuit: The antitrust case could decide how smartphones get made in the future — and what they cost.

(JTA) Congress is now 3 times more Jewish than the United States as a whole


(JTA)

New members of the House of Representatives being sworn in during the first session of the 116th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 3, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)ADVERTISEMENT

(JTA) — More than 6 percent of the new Congress is Jewish, with 34 Jews among the total of 535 lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

Jews make up 2 percent of the U.S. population, so Congress as a whole is more than thrice as Jewish as the country in general, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center on religion in the new Congress, which was inaugurated Thursday.

The number is even larger in the Senate, where eight of the 100 members are Jewish. That’s 8 percent, for the math challenged.

This Congress has four more Jews than its predecessor, which had 30 Jewish members. But it’s far from the most Jewish Congress ever. That was the 1993 Congress, which boasted 51 Jews — nearly 10 percent of the total.

All of the Jews in the Senate are Democrats, as are all but two in the House. The Republican exceptions are Reps. Lee Zeldin and David Kustoff, from New York and Tennessee, respectively. They are the only non-Christian Republicans in the Congress, according to Pew.

Congress as a whole is overwhelmingly Christian — even more so than the country. Seventy-one percent of Americans identify as Christian, compared to 88 percent of Congress. Both Protestants and Catholics are overrepresented on Capitol Hill.

The most underrepresented group is unaffiliated Americans. Twenty-three percent of Americans don’t identify with a religion, but that’s true of just a sole member of Congress — new Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Unitarians are also represented in Congress.

(BBG) Deutsche Bank Weighed Extending Trump Loans on Default Risk

(BBG)

Top Deutsche Bank AG executives were so concerned after the 2016 U.S. election that the Trump Organization might default on about $340 million of loans while Donald Trump was in office that they discussed extending repayment dates until after the end of a potential second term in 2025, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.

Members of the bank’s management board, including then Chief Executive Officer John Cryan, were leery of the public relations disaster they would face if they went after the assets of a sitting president, said the people, who asked for anonymity because the discussions were private. The discussions were about risks to the bank’s reputation and did not relate to any heightened concerns about the creditworthiness of Trump or his company, the people said.

The bank ultimately decided against restructuring the loans to the Trump Organization, which come due in 2023 and 2024, and chose instead not to do any new business with Trump while he is president, one of the people said.

A spokesman for Deutsche Bank declined to comment, and the people with knowledge of the discussions said they didn’t know why the bank ultimately decided not to extend the loans. The White House didn’t respond to requests for comment.

“This story is complete nonsense,” Eric Trump, a son of the president and an executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said in an email. “We are one of the most under-leveraged real estate companies in the country. Virtually all of our assets are owned free and clear, and the very few that do have mortgages are a small fraction relative to the value of the asset. These are traditional loans, no different than any other real estate developer would carry as part of a comparable portfolio.”

Go-To Lender

Deutsche Bank had been Trump’s go-to lender for decades, even as other commercial banks stopped doing business with him because of multiple bankruptcies. Although the German lender’s investment bank had severed ties with Trump during the financial crisis, after he defaulted on a loan and then sued the bank, its wealth management unit continued to extend him credit.

But, as the New York Times first reported, Deutsche Bank had already turned down a request for a loan from the Trump Organization for work on a Scottish golf course in early 2016, during the campaign, in part because of concern that it might have to collect from a sitting president.

The head of the retail bank at the time, which includes the wealth management unit, was Christian Sewing, who replaced Cryan as CEO in April. Sewing initially favored approving the loan application, but he submitted it to Deutsche Bank’s reputational risk committee, which recommended turning it down, according to a person familiar with the matter. Sewing supported the decision, the person said. The Trump Organization said it never sought such a loan.

The outstanding Deutsche Bank debt includes $125 million for the Trump National Doral Miami resort, which matures in 2023, according to federal records and mortgage documents. The company also owes $170 million for the Trump International Hotel in Washington and has another loan against a Chicago tower, both of which come due in 2024.

Read More: Deutsche Bank in Bind Over How to Modify $300 Million Trump Debt

Trump’s dealings with Deutsche Bank are facing heightened scrutiny now that Democrats are in control of the House of Representatives and two party members — Maxine Waters and Adam Schiff — are sitting at the top of powerful committees.

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have already described in detail what they want from Deutsche Bank. In a March report, they said they would seek to interview senior executives in the bank’s risk division who could tell them about due diligence conducted on Trump after the 2016 election. They also want documents about the bank’s earlier transactions with Trump and would like to interview his personal banker, Rosemary Vrablic.

In the four years before his election, Trump borrowed more than $620 million from Deutsche Bank and a separate lender, Ladder Capital, to finance projects in Manhattan, Chicago, Washington and a Miami suburb, federal documents and property records show. Jack Weisselberg, a top loan-origination executive at Ladder, is the son of Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s longtime chief financial officer who previously worked for Donald Trump’s father, Fred. Ladder loaned Trump $282 million for four Manhattan properties, records show. Jack Weisselberg declined to comment.

The loans are split between variable-rate and fixed-rate mortgages. Some are interest-only loans, with balloon payments due at maturity, according to property records and securities filings.

The maturities on Trump’s Deutsche Bank loans haven’t changed since his preelection financial disclosure, filings show. Government-run databases containing local property filings for New York, Washington, Chicago and Miami-Dade County don’t show any changes in the terms of Trump’s mortgages.

(CNBC) Trump officially directs Pentagon to create Space Force legislation for Congress

(CNBC)

  • President Donald Trump signed a directive Tuesday ordering the Pentagon draft legislation for Congress that would created the Space Force as a part of the the U.S. Air Force.
  • This would establish the first military branch in over 70 years.
  • Currently the U.S. Air Force manages the space domain through the U.S. Space Command.

Michael SheetzAmanda MaciasPublished 17 Hours Ago  Updated 14 Hours AgoCNBC.com

President Donald Trump displays the "Space Policy Directive 4" after signing the directive to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the Armed Forces in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 19, 2019.

Jim Young | ReutersPresident Donald Trump displays the “Space Policy Directive 4” after signing the directive to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the Armed Forces in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 19, 2019.

President Donald Trump signed a directive on Tuesday that ordered the Department of Defense create a Space Force as a sixth military branch.

Known as Space Policy Directive 4 (SPD-4), the directive orders the Pentagon draft legislation for Congress that would create the Space Force as a part of the U.S. Air Force. This would establish the first military branch in 72 years. The Air Force is the nation’s youngest branch and was added shortly after World War II.

“America must be fully equipped to defend our vital interests. Our adversaries are training forces and developing technology to undermine our security in space, and they’re working very hard at that,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

Deputy Defense Sec.: Space and cyberspace the two new war-fighting domains

Deputy Defense Sec.: Space and cyberspace the two new war-fighting domains  3:07 PM ET Wed, 19 Sept 2018 | 01:53

“We’re investing in new space capabilities to project military power and safeguard our nation’s interests, especially when it comes to safety and defense,” Trump added.

The National Space Council developed the directive alongside counterparts at the Pentagon, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, National Security Council, Office of Management and Budget, and the White House Counsel’s Office.

Currently the U.S. Air Force manages the space domain through the U.S. Space Command. This proposed Space Force would stand alongside the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. However, the newest branch is expected to be akin to the structure of the Marine Corps, which is a component of the U.S. Department of the Navy but has separate representation on the Joint Chiefs.

The new sister service branch will be represented on the Joint Chiefs of Staff and overseen by an Air Force under secretary for space.

Trump first floated the Space Force idea as a part of his national security strategy March 13. The president described in March how he had originally coined the term as a joke, while discussing U.S. government spending and private investment in space. Trump then directed the Pentagon in June to immediately begin the creation of the new branch.

“I am hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces,” Trump said in June before asking Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, to see the directive through.

“Our destiny beyond the Earth is not only a matter of national identity but a matter of national security,” Trump said.

In August, Vice President Mike Pence announced the Pentagon’s detailed plan for President Donald Trump‘s vision of a Space Force.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment.