Gloves off in French election as Le Pen aide calls Macron ‘arrogant’

OANN

April 24, 2017

By Bate Felix and Sudip Kar-Gupta

PARIS (Reuters) – Round two of the bitter fight for the French presidency got under way on Monday within hours of first round results with far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s top aide launching a stinging attack on her centrist opponent Emmanuel Macron.

“Emmanuel is not a patriot. He sold off national companies. He criticized French culture,” Florian Philippot, deputy leader of Le Pen’s National Front told BFM TV, saying she and Macron held completely different visions of France.

Philippot called the independent centrist and former investment banker “arrogant” and said that in Sunday night’s speech acclaiming his move into the May 7 second round “he was speaking as if he had won already”.

“That was disdainful toward the French people,” Phillipot said. Macron’s victory dinner celebrations at Paris’s upscale Rotonde restaurant amounted to “bling-bling biz,” he said.

Though Macron, 39, is a comparative political novice who has never held elected office, new opinion polls on Sunday saw him easily winning the final clash against the 48-year-old Le Pen.

Interior ministry final figures in the highly-contested first round gave Macron 23.74 percent of the votes against Le Pen’s 21.53.

A Harris survey saw Macron going on to win the runoff against her by 64 percent to 36. An Ipsos/Sopra Steria poll gave a similar result.

Analysts say Le Pen’s best chance of hauling back Macron’s big lead in the polls is to paint him as a part of an elite aloof from ordinary French people and their problems.

Part of that strategy would be to remind voters of Macron’s former role as a deal-maker in investment banking and economy minister in the discredited government of outgoing Socialist President Francois Hollande.

Sunday’s outcome is a huge defeat for the two center-right and center-left groupings that have dominated French politics for 60 years.

It reduces the prospect of an anti-establishment shock on the scale of Britain’s vote last June to quit the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president.

In a victory speech on Sunday Macron told supporters of his fledgling En Marche! (Onwards!) movement: “In one year, we have changed the face of French politics.” He went on to say he would bring in new faces and talent to transform a stale political system if elected.

Conceding defeat even before figures from the count came in, rival conservative and Socialist candidates urged their supporters now to throw their energies into backing Macron and stopping any chance of a second-round victory by Le Pen, whose anti-immigration and anti-Europe policies they said spelled disaster for France.

For a graphic on French presidential election, click http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/FRANCE-ELECTION/010031D933E/index.html

(Writing by Andrew Callus; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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Trump resorting to unilateralism with steel probe: China Daily

OANN

April 24, 2017

BEIJING (Reuters) – Washington’s move to probe steel imports could trigger a trade dispute between the United States and its major trading partners, who are likely to take retaliatory steps, the official China Daily said in an editorial on Monday.

The article was the strongest official response yet to U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday launching an investigation of China and other steel producers for dumping cheap steel products into the United States.

“By proposing an unjustified investigation into steel imports in the guise of safeguarding national security, the U.S. seems to be resorting to unilateralism to solve bilateral and multilateral problems,” the China Daily said.

The probe could result in efforts by the United States to curb imports that will affect the interests of a number of its major trade partners, including China, it said.

“If the U.S. does take protectionist measures, then other countries are likely to take justifiable retaliatory actions against U.S. companies that have an advantage … in fields such as finance and high-tech, leading to a tit-for-tat trade war that benefits no one,” it said.

The article called on the United States, the world’s top economy, to use the settlement mechanism under the World Trade Organization to resolve the dispute over steel.

Reducing imports will not alter the weak competitiveness of U.S. steelmakers, help restore U.S. manufacturing or bring back jobs, as President Trump hopes, it said.

It was a marked shift from official comments on Friday. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a briefing the country needed to ascertain the direction of any U.S. investigation before it could make a judgment.

(Reporting by Josephine Mason; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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Afghan defence minister, army chief of staff resign over deadly attack

Reuters World

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan President Ashraf Ghani accepted the resignations of his defence minister and army chief of staff on Monday, after more than 140 soldiers were killed last week in the deadliest ever Taliban attack on a military base, the president's office said.
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France’s Macron favorite for presidency in runoff with Le Pen

OANN

April 24, 2017

By Sybille de La Hamaide and Matthias Blamont

PARIS/HENIN-BEAUMONT, France (Reuters) – Centrist Emmanuel Macron took a big step toward the French presidency on Sunday by winning the first round of voting and qualifying for a May 7 runoff alongside far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Though Macron, 39, is a comparative political novice who has never held elected office, new opinion polls on Sunday had him easily winning the final clash against the 48-year-old Le Pen.

Sunday’s outcome is a huge defeat for the two center-right and center-left groupings that have dominated French politics for 60 years, and also reduces the prospect of an anti-establishment shock on the scale of Britain’s vote last June to quit the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president.

In a victory speech, Macron told supporters of his fledgling En Marche! (Onwards!) movement: “In one year, we have changed the face of French politics.” He went on to say he would bring in new faces and talent to transform a stale political system if elected.

Conceding defeat even before figures from the count came in, rival conservative and Socialist candidates urged their supporters now to put their energies into backing Macron and stopping any chance of a second-round victory by Le Pen, whose anti-immigration and anti-Europe policies they said spelled disaster for France.

A Harris survey taken on Sunday saw Macron winning the runoff by 64 percent to 36, and an Ipsos/Sopra Steria poll gave a similar result.

As investors breathed a collective sigh of relief at what the market regarded as the best of several possible outcomes, the euro soared 2 percent to $1.09395 <EUR=> when markets opened in Asia before slipping back to around $1.0886.

It was the euro’s highest level since Nov. 10, the day after the results of the U.S. presidential election.

In a race that was too close to call up to the last minute, Macron, a pro-EU ex-banker and former economy minister who founded his own party only a year ago, had 23.9 percent of the votes against 21.4 percent for Le Pen, according to figures from the Interior Ministry with 96 percent of votes counted.

Seconds after the first projections came through, Macron supporters at a Paris conference center burst into the national anthem, the Marseillaise. Many were under 25, reflecting some of the appeal of a man aiming to become France’s youngest head of state since Napoleon.

“PRESIDENT OF PATRIOTS”

With an eye to Le Pen’s avowedly France-first policies, Macron told the crowd: “I want to be the president of patriots in the face of a threat from nationalists.”

If he wins, Macron’s biggest challenges will lie ahead, as he first tries to secure a working parliamentary majority for his young party in June, and then seeks broad popular support for labor reforms that are sure to meet resistance.

Addressing the battle ahead, he declared he would seek to break with a system that “has been incapable of responding to the problems of our country for more than 30 years”.

“From today I want to build a majority for a government and for a new transformation. It will be made up of new faces and new talent in which every man and woman can have a place,” he said.

Le Pen, who is herself bidding to make history as France’s first female president, follows in the footsteps of her father, who founded the National Front and reached the second round of the presidential election in 2002.

Jean-Marie Le Pen was ultimately crushed when voters from right and left rallied around the conservative Jacques Chirac in order to keep out a party whose far-right, anti-immigrant views they considered unpalatably xenophobic.

His daughter has done much to soften her party’s image, and found widespread support among young voters by pitching herself as an anti-establishment defender of French workers and French interests against global corporations and an economically constricting EU.

“The great issue in this election is the rampant globalization that is putting our civilization at risk,” she declared in her first word after results came through.

She went on to launch an attack on the policies of Macron, whom she again described as “the money king” in a disparaging swipe at his investment banker background.

His deregulation policies, she said, would lead to unjust international competition against France’s business interests, mass immigration and free movement of terrorists.

Nevertheless, with several defeated candidates calling on supporters to stop her, Le Pen she seems destined to suffer a similar fate to her father when she goes up against Macron in two weeks’ time.

Defeated Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon, Socialist Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and defeated right-wing candidate Francois Fillon all urged voters to rally behind Macron in the second round.

In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman hailed Macron’s success, tweeting: “Good that @EmmanuelMacron succeeded with his policy for a strong EU and social market economy. Wishing him all the best for the next two weeks.”

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker expressed similar good wishes for the second round, his spokesman said in Brussels.

BITTER DEFEAT

It was a bitter night for Fillon, seen as a shoo-in for the Elysee until he was hit in January by allegations that his wife had been paid from the public purse for work she did not do.

Fillon scored 19.9 percent in the first round and far-left contender Jean-Luc Melenchon 19.5 percent.

“This defeat is mine and it is for me and me alone to bear it,” Fillon, a 63-year-old former conservative prime minister, told a news conference, adding that he would now vote for Macron.

The two politicians left in the race offer radically contrasting economic visions for a country whose economy lags that of its neighbors and where a quarter of young people are unemployed.

Macron’s gradual deregulation measures are likely to be welcomed by global financial markets, as are cuts in state expenditure and the civil service. Le Pen wants to print money to finance expanded welfare payments and tax cuts, ditch the euro currency and possibly pull out of the EU.

“Markets will be reassured that the dreaded Le Pen versus Mélenchon run-off has been avoided,” said Diego Iscaro, an economist from IHS Markit.

“As a result, we expect some recovery in French bond prices, while the euro is also likely to benefit,” he said. “However, a lot can happen in two weeks and French assets are likely under some pressure until the second round is out of the way.”

Timothy Ash, an economist at Bluebay asset management, said Trump’s victory last November marked a turning point for electorates playing the protest card.

“Despite all the hype about the rise of populism, 60 percent of voters went for mainstream candidates … In an uncertain world, they rather go for what they know best and want to take fewer risks,” he said.

For a graphic on French presidential election, click http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/FRANCE-ELECTION/010031D933E/index.html

(Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Bate Felix, Michaela Cabrera, Michel Rose, Geert De Clercq, Mathieu Rosemain, John Irish, Andrew Callus, Sarah White, Ingrid Melander and Leigh Thomas in Paris, and Ilze Filks in Henin-Beaumont; Writing by Richard Balmforth; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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Gloves off in French election as Le Pen aide calls Macron 'arrogant'

Reuters Top News

PARIS (Reuters) - Round two of the bitter fight for the French presidency got under way on Monday within hours of first round results with far-right leader Marine Le Pen's top aide launching a stinging attack on her centrist opponent Emmanuel Macron.
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Gloves off in French election as Le Pen aide calls Macron 'arrogant'

Reuters World

PARIS (Reuters) - Round two of the bitter fight for the French presidency got under way on Monday within hours of first round results with far-right leader Marine Le Pen's top aide launching a stinging attack on her centrist opponent Emmanuel Macron.
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Soccer pitch operator Goals Soccer confirms talks with Powerleague

Reuters Sports

(Reuters) - Goals Soccer Centres Plc, the five-a-side football pitch operator, confirmed that it was in early discussions with privately owned Powerleague Group to explore possibilities of a merger.
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Fallon says energy markets not working, intervention needed

Reuters UK

LONDON (Reuters) - Conservative Party will intervene in the energy market if it wins an upcoming election in June because the current system is not working properly, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said on Monday.
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Trump sons seek to extend family brand into domestic markets - Washington Post

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Washington Post

Trump sons seek to extend family brand into domestic markets
Washington Post
NEW YORK — Apprentices no more, Eric and Donald Trump Jr. are now at the helm of the Trump Organization and adjusting to the reality presented by their father's presidency. They're eyeing ways to use the new lease on the family fame by expanding the ...
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France Delivers Euro's Latest Existential Question - New York Times

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New York Times

France Delivers Euro's Latest Existential Question
New York Times
Marine Le Pen, one of two remaining candidates for the French presidency, in Henin-Beaumont, France, on Sunday. She has long disdained the euro as a malevolent threat to prosperity. Credit Alain Jocard/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images. LONDON ...
French vote for Macron, Le Pen shuts out mainstream politicsWashington Post
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Vaccination gaps lead to dangerous measles outbreaks in Europe - ECDC

Reuters World

LONDON (Reuters) - Gaps in vaccination coverage against measles have led to several outbreaks of the highly-contagious disease in Europe in the past year, with both children and young adults affected, health officials said on Monday.
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Vaccination gaps lead to dangerous measles outbreaks in Europe: ECDC

Reuters Health

LONDON (Reuters) - Gaps in vaccination coverage against measles have lead to several outbreaks of the highly-contagious disease in Europe in the past year, with both children and young adults affected, health officials said on Monday.
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U.N. finds torture widespread in Afghanistan

Reuters World

KABUL (Reuters) - Torture and mistreatment of detainees by Afghan security forces is as widespread as ever, according to a U.N. report released on Monday, despite promises by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and new laws enacted by the government.
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Luxury retailer Jimmy Choo puts itself up for sale

Reuters Top News

LONDON (Reuters) - British luxury retailer Jimmy Choo is seeking offers for the company as part of a review of its strategic options to maximise shareholder value, it said on Monday.
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Cricket-Bangalore's star power refuses to translate into IPL success

Cricket - Reuters

NEW DELHI, April 24 (Reuters) - Royal Challengers Bangalore learnt it the hard way that star power does not always guarantee success after succumbing to the lowest ever score in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in Sunday's match against the Kolkata Knight Riders.
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U.S. watching piracy increase off Somalia, sees ties to famine

Reuters Africa

DJIBOUTI (Reuters) - The United States is closely watching a recent increase in piracy off the coast of Somalia, a senior U.S. military official said on Sunday as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visited an important military base in Djibouti.
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Cricket-Australia spinner O'Keefe misses out on national contract

Cricket - Reuters

MELBOURNE, April 24 (Reuters) - Spin bowler Stephen O'Keefe has been omitted from Cricket Australia's proposed list of players to be awarded national contracts for the 2017/18 season after being sanctioned for a second alcohol-related offence in the space of a year.
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New Orleans begins to take down prominent Confederate monuments

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U.S. carrier group heads for Korean waters, China calls for restraint

OANN

April 24, 2017

By Ben Blanchard and Ju-min Park

BEIJING/SEOUL (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping called for all sides to exercise restraint on Monday in a call about North Korea with U.S. President Donald Trump, as Japan conducted joint drills with a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group headed for Korean waters.

The carrier group was sent by Trump for exercises in waters off the Korean peninsula as a warning, amid growing fears North Korea could conduct another nuclear test soon in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

Angered by the approach of the U.S. carrier group, a defiant North Korea said on Monday the deployment of the USS Carl Vinson was “an extremely dangerous act by those who plan a nuclear war to invade the North”.

“The United States should not run amok and should consider carefully any catastrophic consequence from its foolish military provocative act,” Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, said in a commentary on Monday.

“What’s only laid for aggressors is dead bodies and deaths,” the newspaper said.

Two Japanese destroyers have already joined the carrier group for drills in the western Pacific, and South Korea said on Monday it was also in talks about holding joint naval exercises.

Washington and its allies fear Pyongyang could be preparing to conduct another nuclear missile test or launch more ballistic missiles.

China is increasingly worried the situation could spin out of control, leading to war and a chaotic collapse of its isolated and poverty-struck neighbor.

Xi told Trump that China resolutely opposes any actions that run counter to U.N. Security Council resolutions, a Chinese foreign ministry statement said.

China “hopes that all relevant sides exercise restraint, and avoid doing anything to worsen the tense situation on the peninsula”, the statement paraphrased Xi as saying.

The nuclear issue can only be resolved quickly with all relevant countries pulling in the same direction, and China is willing to work with all parties, including the United States, to ensure peace, Xi said.

The issue has gained added urgency as North Korea prepares to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its Korean People’s Army on Tuesday. It has marked similar events in the past with nuclear tests or missile launches.

“REPEATED PROVOCATION”

Earlier, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe described his conversation with Trump as a “thorough exchange of views”.

“We agreed to strongly demand that North Korea, which is repeating its provocation, show restraint,” Abe told reporters.

“We will maintain close contact with the United States, keep a high level of vigilance and respond firmly,” he said.

Abe also said he and Trump agreed that China, North Korea’s sole major ally, should play a large role in dealing with Pyongyang.

A Japanese official said the phone call between Trump and Abe was not prompted by any specific change in the situation.

The U.S. government has not specified where the carrier strike group is, but U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Saturday it would arrive “within days”.

South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun gave no further details about the South’s plans, other than saying Seoul was holding discussions with the U.S. Navy.

“I can say the South Korean and U.S. militaries are fully ready for North Korea’s nuclear test,” Moon said.

South Korean and U.S. officials have feared for some time that North Korea could soon carry out its sixth nuclear test.

Satellite imagery analyzed by 38 North, a Washington-based North Korea monitoring project, found some activity under way at North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site last week.

However, the group said it was unclear whether the site was in a “tactical pause” before another test or was carrying out normal operations.

Adding to the heightened tensions, North Korea detained a U.S. citizen on Saturday as he attempted to leave the country.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Ju-min Park; Additional reporting by Takashi Umekawa and Linda Sieg in TOKYO, James Pearson in SEOUL, Philip Wen in BEIJING, and Steve Holland in WASHINGTON; Editing by Paul Tait)

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'Australia first' fortifies position of country's prime minister

Reuters Top News

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has recorded a rise in voter support just days after tightening rules for foreigners seeking work and citizenship under an "Australia first" policy, a newspaper poll showed on Monday.
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'Australia first' fortifies position of country's prime minister

Reuters World

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has recorded a rise in voter support just days after tightening rules for foreigners seeking work and citizenship under an "Australia first" policy, a newspaper poll showed on Monday.
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Golf-U.S. PGA Tour Texas Open scores

Golf - Reuters

April 24 (Gracenote) - Scores from the U.S. PGA Tour Texas Open at the par-72 course on Sunday in San Antonio, Texas -12 Kevin Chappell (U.S.) 69 68 71 68 -11 Brooks Koepka (U.S.) 68 74 70 65 -9 Tony Finau (U.S.) 71 65 74 69 Kevin Tway (U.S.) 70 68 72 69 -8 Aaron Baddeley (Australia) 69 70 73 68 -7 Kang Sung-Hoon (Korea) 69 70 74 68 Brian Gay (U.S.) 68 72 71 70 Ryan Palmer (U.S.
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U.S. carrier group heads for Korean waters, China calls for restraint

Reuters Top News

BEIJING/SEOUL (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping called for all sides to exercise restraint on Monday in a call about North Korea with U.S. President Donald Trump, as Japan conducted joint drills with a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group headed for Korean waters.
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U.S. carrier group heads for Korean waters, China calls for restraint

Reuters World

BEIJING/SEOUL (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping called for all sides to exercise restraint on Monday in a call about North Korea with U.S. President Donald Trump, as Japan conducted joint drills with a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group headed for Korean waters.
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Cases of anti-Semitism increased last year, report says - Fox News

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Fox News

Cases of anti-Semitism increased last year, report says
Fox News
Cases of anti-Semitic intimidation and vandalism increased last year, according to data released by the Anti-Defamation League Monday. The group found 1,266 cases of anti-Semitic harassment last year, compared to 941 in 2015 and 912 in 2014. The sharp ...
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Arsenal want to win FA Cup for Wenger, says Ramsey

Reuters Sports

(Reuters) - Arsenal are targeting an FA Cup win to honour manager Arsene Wenger and make up for an inconsistent season, midfielder Aaron Ramsey said after their semi-final victory over Manchester City.
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Tennis - WTA Tour singles standings

Tennis - Reuters

April 24 (Gracenote) - Standings from the WTA Tour singles Points 1 (2) Serena Williams(U.S.) 7010 2 (1) Angelique Kerber(Germany) 6925 3 (3) Karolina Pliskova(Czech Republic) 6020 4 (4) Dominika Cibulkova(Slovakia) 5065 5 (5) Simona Halep(Romania) 5021 6 (6) Garbine Muguruza Blanco(Spain) 4691 7 (7) Johanna Konta(Britain) 4330 8 (8) Ag
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Euro jumps, shares firm on French election relief

Reuters Top News

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The euro briefly vaulted to five-month peaks on Monday after the market's favoured candidate won through the first round of the French election, reducing the risk of a Brexit-like shock and sparking a mass unwinding of safe-haven trades.
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Trump discusses North Korea tensions with Asian leaders

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Tesla’s big Model 3 bet rides on risky assembly line strategy

Reuters Top News

(Reuters) - Tesla Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk took many risks with the technology in his company's cars on the way to surpassing Ford Motor Co's market value.
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Canada, Germany deliver shock World Relays wins

Reuters Sports

(Reuters) - Canada survived a scary moment in the heats before going on to deliver a stunning win ahead of the United States and Jamaica in the men's 4x200 metres at the IAAF World Relays on Sunday.
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Tesla’s big Model 3 bet rides on risky assembly line strategy

OANN

April 24, 2017

By Alexandria Sage

(Reuters) – Tesla Inc <TSLA.O> Chief Executive Elon Musk took many risks with the technology in his company’s cars on the way to surpassing Ford Motor Co’s market value. Now Musk is pushing boundaries in the factory that makes them.

Most automakers test a new model’s production line by building vehicles with relatively cheap, prototype tools designed to be scrapped once they deliver doors that fit, body panels with the right shape and dashboards that don’t have gaps or seams.

Tesla, however, is skipping that preliminary step and ordering permanent, more expensive equipment as it races to launch its Model 3 sedan by a self-imposed volume production deadline of September, Musk told investors last month.

Musk’s decision underscores his high-risk tolerance and willingness to forego long-held industry norms that has helped Tesla upend the traditional auto industry. While Tesla is not the first automaker to try to accelerate production on the factory floor, no other rival is putting this much faith in the production strategy succeeding.

Musk expects the Model 3 rollout to help Tesla deliver five times its current annual sales volume, a key target in the automaker’s efforts to stop burning cash.

“He’s pushing the envelope to see how much time and cost he can take out of the process,” said Ron Harbour, a manufacturing consultant at Oliver Wyman.

Investors are already counting on Tesla’s factory floor success, with shares soaring 39 percent since January as it makes the leap from niche producer to mass producer in far less time than rivals.

There are caution signs, however. The production equipment designed to produce millions of cars is expensive to fix or replace if it doesn’t work, industry experts say. Tesla has encountered quality problems on its existing low-volume cars, and the Model 3 is designed to sell in numbers as high as 500,000 vehicles a year, raising the potential cost of recalls or warranty repairs.

“It’s an experiment, certainly,” said Consumer Reports’ Jake Fisher, who has done extensive testing of Tesla’s previous Models S and X. Tesla could possibly fix errors quicker, speeding up the process, “or it could be they have unsuspected problems they’ll have a hard time dealing with.”

Musk discussed the decision to skip what he referred to as “beta” production testing during a call last month with an invited group of investors. Details were published on Reddit by an investor on the call. (https://www.reddit.com/r/teslamotors/comments/5zrb7t/tsla_investor_call_notes/).

He also said that “advanced analytical techniques” – code word for computer simulations – would help Tesla in advancing straight to production tooling.

Tesla declined to confirm details of the call or comment on its production strategy.

The auto industry’s incumbents have not been standing still. Volkswagen AG’s Audi division launched production of a new plant in Mexico using computer simulations of production tools – and indeed the entire assembly line and factory – that Audi said it believed to be an industry first. That process allowed the plant to launch production 30 percent faster than usual, Audi said.

An Audi executive involved in the Mexican plant launch, Peter Hochholdinger, is now Tesla’s vice president of production.

MAKING TOOLS FASTER

Typically, automakers test their design with limited production using lower grade equipment that can be modified slightly to address problems. When most of the kinks are worked out, they order the final equipment.

Tesla’s decision to move directly to the final tools is in part because lower grade, disposable equipment known as “soft tooling” ended up complicating the debut of the problem-plagued Model X SUV in 2015, according to a person familiar with the decision and Tesla’s assembly line planning.

Working on a tight deadline, Tesla had no time to incorporate lessons learned from soft tooling before having to order the permanent production tooling, making the former’s value negligible, the source said.

“Soft tooling did very little for the program and arguably hurt things,” said the person.

In addition, Tesla has learned to better modify final production tools, and its 2015 purchase of a Michigan tooling company means it can make major equipment 30 percent faster than before, and more cheaply as well, the source said.

Financial pressure is partly driving Tesla’s haste. The quicker Tesla can deliver the Model 3 with its estimated $35,000 base price to the 373,000 customers who have put down a $1000 deposit, the closer it can log $13 billion.

Tesla has labored under financial pressure since it was founded in 2003. The company has yet to turn an annual profit, and earlier this year Musk said the company was “close to the edge” as it look toward capital spending of $2-2.5 billion in the first half of 2017.

Tesla has since gotten more breathing room by raising $1.2 billion in fresh capital in March and selling a five per cent stake to Chinese internet company Tencent Holdings Ltd <0700.HK> .

Musk has spoken to investors about his vision of an “alien dreadnought” factory that uses artificial intelligence and robots to build cars at speeds faster than human assembly workers could manage.

But there are limits to what technology can do in the heavily regulated car business. For example, Tesla will still have to use real cars in crash tests required by the U.S. government, because federal rules do not allow simulated crash results to substitute for data from a real car.

(Editing by Peter Henderson and Edward Tobin)

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Tesla’s big Model 3 bet rides on risky assembly line strategy

Reuters Technology

(Reuters) - Tesla Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk took many risks with the technology in his company's cars on the way to surpassing Ford Motor Co's market value. Now Musk is pushing boundaries in the factory that makes them.
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Sessions downplays criticism over Hawaii remarks, says 'nobody has a sense of humor'

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Victim's family on Arkansas execution: 'Ready for it to be done' - CNN

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CNN

Victim's family on Arkansas execution: 'Ready for it to be done'
CNN
(CNN) Darla Jones said she can't imagine what it will be like to watch the man who killed her mother as he is executed by lethal injection on Monday. She believes that after Jack Harold Jones is put to death, a feeling of anticipation among her family ...

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Arkansas plans to execute two convicts Monday

OANN

April 24, 2017

By Joseph Ax

(Reuters) – The state of Arkansas plans to execute two inmates on Monday evening, which would make it the first U.S. state in 17 years to put a pair of convicts to death on the same day.

A flurry of last-minute legal appeals at both the state and federal level are expected, though their likelihood of success may have diminished with the recent appointment of conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

The high court cleared the way last week for Arkansas to hold its first execution in 12 years and the state carried out the death penalty on convicted murderer Ledell Lee.

Jack Jones, sentenced in 1996 for raping and strangling Mary Phillips and attempting to murder her 11-year-old daughter, is scheduled to be put to death at 7 p.m at the Cummins Unit prison, about 75 miles southeast of the state capital of Little Rock. Jones was also convicted of rape and murder in Florida.

At 8:15 p.m., the state is tentatively scheduled to execute Marcel Williams, who was sentenced to death in 1997 for kidnapping, raping and murdering Stacy Errickson. He also abducted and raped two other women.

The last time a state executed two inmates on the same day was 2000 in Texas.

The condemned pair were among eight inmates that Arkansas had initially planned to execute in the span of 11 days, a compressed schedule prompted by the impending expiration date of supplies of a sedative used as part of the three-drug lethal injection process.

The drug in question, midazolam, was employed in flawed executions in Oklahoma and Arizona, where witnesses said the inmates writhed in apparent pain on the gurney. No problems were reported in Lee’s execution on Thursday.

Four of the planned executions have already been placed on hold by court order.

The unprecedented schedule generated a wave of criticism and legal challenges, including a lawsuit from the company that makes one of the drugs. The company claimed that the state obtained its supplies under false pretenses, but the state’s Supreme Court threw out that lawsuit last week.

On Friday, a federal judge in Little Rock rejected an appeal from Jones and Williams that obesity and related conditions made it more likely that midazolam would fail to render them unconscious.

More court challenges are a virtual certainty as the hour of execution approaches.

(Additional reporting by Steve Barnes in Little Rock, Arkansas; Editing by David Gregorio)

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New Zealand recall injured trio in Champions Trophy squad

Reuters Sports

(Reuters) - Fast bowlers Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne and all-rounder Corey Anderson returned to the New Zealand squad for June's Champions Trophy after proving their fitness during the Indian Premier League, the country's cricket board said on Monday.
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Cricket-New Zealand recall injured trio in Champions Trophy squad

Cricket - Reuters

April 24 (Reuters) - Fast bowlers Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne and all-rounder Corey Anderson returned to the New Zealand squad for June's Champions Trophy after proving their fitness during the Indian Premier League, the country's cricket board said on Monday.
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Eight North Korean defectors in China at risk of deportation - Human Rights Watch

Reuters World

SEOUL (Reuters) - Eight North Korean defectors in China face involuntary repatriation after being detained by Chinese police last month, the Human Rights Watch group and a pastor who have been assisting them said on Monday.
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South Korea presidential candidate Ahn seeks to restart six-party talks on North Korea

Reuters World

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean software mogul-turned-presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo will seek to restart six-party talks aimed at denuclearising the Korean peninsula if he is elected on May 9, he said in a written interview with Reuters.
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Philippines' Duterte insists he can be 50 times more brutal than terrorists

FOX

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Pacquiao lands Down Under, tells Horn to be ready

Reuters Sports

(Reuters) - Eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao concedes his next opponent Jeff Horn is a bit of an unknown quantity but has told the Australian he needs to be in peak condition to make sure their WBO welterweight title fight pleases fight fans Down Under.
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Pence trims Asia trip to deal with domestic priorities

OANN

April 24, 2017

By Roberta Rampton

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has cut short the final leg of his Asia trip to race back to Washington, where the Trump administration faces a critical week on tax reform and a funding plan to keep the government running, an aide said on Sunday.

Pence, who has been traveling in Asia to reassure allies and partners about President Donald Trump’s commitment to the region, had originally planned to spend two nights in Honoluluat the end of a trip that took him to South Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Australia.

While he spoke with business leaders in each country, Pence’s trip was overshadowed by rising tensions in North Korea, where it is feared another nuclear test could be conducted soon in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

Pence will now spend one night in Hawaii and is slated to be back in Washington on Tuesday morning, his aide told reporters before Air Force Two landed at Pago Pago in American Samoa for refueling.

Trump has a busy week ahead. Funding appropriated by Congress to run the government runs out on Friday, so he and lawmakers must agree on new legislation or the government will shut down on Saturday.

Saturday is also Trump’s 100th day in office, a benchmark used by pundits to assess the initial accomplishments and shortfalls of his young presidency.

Trump plans to outline principles for tax reform onWednesday, a top brief for Pence.

While in Honolulu, Pence will meet leaders of the U.S.Pacific Command and is also slated to speak to U.S. troops and their families, the aide said.

Pence had planned to tour the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor but will no longer do that, the aide said.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Paul Tait)

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China policymakers bullish on economy, cite strong first quarter GDP, stable yuan

Reuters Top News

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Policymakers in China are pushing a bullish message on the world's second-biggest economy after a solid first quarter, pointing to a slow down in capital outflows and a stable yuan after a selloff last year stoked fears of instability.
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Trump's first 100 days: What can he accomplish before the hundredth day? - Washington Post

World


Washington Post

Trump's first 100 days: What can he accomplish before the hundredth day?
Washington Post
Here's where things stand heading into Day 95 of the Trump administration: President Trump plans to mark his 100th day in office on Saturday with a rally in Pennsylvania. That day could also mark the beginning of a government shutdown, depending how ...
Trump's First 100 Days: An 'Entry-Level' PresidencyNPR
Trump marking 100th day with 'big rally'CNN
The Scandals of Donald Trump: Presidential EditionThe Atlantic
The Hill -Washington Examiner
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North Korea says it is ready to strike U.S. aircraft carrier

OANN

April 24, 2017

By James Pearson and Steve Holland

SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – North Korea said on Sunday it was ready to sink a U.S. aircraft carrier to demonstrate its military might, in the latest sign of rising tension as U.S. President Donald Trump prepared to call the leaders of China and Japan.

The United States ordered the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group to sail to waters off the Korean peninsula in response to mounting concern over the North’s nuclear and missile tests, and its threats to attack the United States and its Asian allies.

The U.S. government has not specified where the carrier strike group is as it approaches the area. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Saturday it would arrive “within days,” but gave no other details.

North Korea remained defiant.

“Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a single strike,” the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, said in a commentary.

The paper likened the aircraft carrier to a “gross animal” and said a strike on it would be “an actual example to show our military’s force”.

The commentary was carried on page three of the newspaper, after a two-page feature about leader Kim Jong Un inspecting a pig farm.

A senior U.S. administration official said Trump was expected to speak later on Sunday with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

In another sign of the intense focus on Pyongyang in Washington, the White House is expected to host U.S. senators for a top-level briefing on North Korea on Wednesday, a White House official said.

The official said the briefing would be led by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

U.S. and South Korean officials have been saying for weeks the North could soon stage another nuclear test, something the United States, China and others have warned against.

South Korea has put its forces on heightened alert.

China, North Korea’s sole major ally, opposes Pyongyang’s weapons programs and has appealed for calm. The United States has called on China to do more to help defuse the tension.

Speaking during a visit to Greece, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said there were already enough shows of force and confrontation and appealed for calm.

“We need to issue peaceful and rational sounds,” Wang said, according to a statement issued by China’s Foreign Ministry.

U.S. CITIZEN DETAINED

Adding to the tensions, North Korea detained a Korean-American man in his 50s, bringing the total number of U.S. citizens held by Pyongyang to three.

The man, Tony Kim, had been in North Korea for a month teaching accounting at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), the institution’s chancellor, Chan-Mo Park, told Reuters. He was arrested at Pyongyang International Airport on his way out of the country.

The arrest took place on Saturday morning local time, the university said in a statement, and was “related to an investigation into matters that are not connected in any way to PUST”.

North Korea will mark the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its Korean People’s Army on Tuesday.

It has in the past marked important anniversaries with tests of its weapons.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests, two of them last year, and is working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the United States.

It has also carried out a series of ballistic missile tests in defiance of U.N. sanctions.

North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threat is perhaps the most serious security challenge confronting Trump.

He has vowed to prevent the North from being able to hit the United States with a nuclear missile and has said all options are on the table, including a military strike.

WORRY IN JAPAN

North Korea says its nuclear program is for self-defense and has warned the United States of a nuclear attack in response to any aggression. It has also threatened to lay waste to South Korea and Japan.

The U.S. defense secretary said on Friday that North Korea’s recent statements were provocative but had proven to be hollow in the past and should not be trusted.

“We’ve all come to hear their words repeatedly; their word has not proven honest,” Mattis told a news conference in Tel Aviv, before the latest threat to the aircraft carrier.

Two Japanese warships, the Samidare and Ashigara, left western Japan on Friday to join the Carl Vinson and will “practice a variety of tactics” with the U.S. strike group, the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force said in a statement.

The Japanese force did not specify where the exercises were taking place, but the destroyers by Sunday could have reached an area 2,500 km (1,500 miles) south of Japan, which would be east of the Philippines.

From there, it could take three days to reach waters off the Korean peninsula. Japan’s ships would accompany the Carl Vinson north at least into the East China Sea, a source with knowledge of the plan said.

Japan’s show of naval force reflects growing concern that North Korea could strike it with nuclear or chemical warheads.

Some Japanese ruling party lawmakers are urging Abe to acquire strike weapons that could hit North Korean missile forces before any imminent attack.

Japan’s navy, which is mostly a destroyer fleet, is the second largest in Asia after China’s.

(Additional reporting by Ju-min Park in SEOUL, Tim Kelly in TOKYO and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Writing by James Pearson and Phil Stewart; Editing by Alexander Smith and Peter Cooney)

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Local, global security firms in race along China’s ‘Silk Road’

OANN

April 24, 2017

By Brenda Goh, Michael Martina and Christian Shepherd

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – Global security companies and their smaller Chinese rivals are jostling for business along Beijing’s modern-day “Silk Road”, the grandiose plan for land and sea routes connecting the world’s second largest economy with the rest of Asia and beyond.

Representing investments of hundreds of billions of dollars, the pet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen boosting economic growth at home, and as positive for everything from steel prices to cement makers.

Security firms also expect to tap the rush, offering to protect thousands of Chinese workers – and the pipelines, roads, railways and power plants they build – as they fan out across the world under the “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative.

It won’t be easy, however, with executives warning that state-owned enterprises running or planning projects from Africa to Vietnam sometimes prefer to deal with fellow Chinese, treat safety as an afterthought and try to keep costs to a minimum.

“OBOR is a lifetime (of work) for us,” said John Jiang, managing director of Chinese Overseas Security Group (COSG).

The small consortium of security providers was set up early last year and operates in six countries: Pakistan, Turkey, Mozambique, Cambodia, Malaysia and Thailand.

“In eight years’ time, we want to run a business that can cover 50-60 countries, which fits with the One Belt One Road coverage,” Jiang told Reuters.

Chinese personnel are essentially barred under Chinese law, and that of many host nations they work in, from carrying or using weapons.

Instead, COSG and its rivals usually work with and train local staff and focus on logistics and planning.

In Pakistan, for example, where attacks by militants and separatist insurgents are considered a serious threat, COSG has a joint venture with a local security firm with links to Pakistan’s navy.

The Pakistani army also plans to provide 14-15,000 armed personnel dedicated to guarding Chinese projects, according to local media reports.

The $57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the largest single project under the OBOR banner, envisages roads, railways, pipelines and power lines that link China’s western reaches with the Arabian Sea via Pakistan.

CHINESE VERSUS INTERNATIONAL

Major international security operators hope their scale and experience can convince China’s price-conscious state-owned giants to pay for foreign expertise.

Firms like Control Risks and G4S <GFS.L> offer staff with military backgrounds and decades of experience in risky regions around the world.

G4S said it had seen an acceleration of interest in its services since OBOR began gaining traction.

Michael Humphreys, a Shanghai-based partner at Control Risks, said around a third of the security consultancy’s work in China was related to OBOR.

Hong Kong-based logistics firm Frontier Services Group <0500.HK>, co-founded by Erik Prince who created the U.S. military security services business Blackwater, announced in December it was shifting strategy to capitalize on OBOR.

It plans to set up an office in the southwestern province of Yunnan, which adjoins Southeast Asia, and another base in Xinjiang in China’s west, the starting point for the CPEC project crossing Pakistan.

Smaller Chinese firms like COSG, Shanghai-based Weldon Security and Dewei Security, meanwhile, see their advantage over multinationals in state-owned enterprises’ preference for hiring Chinese to handle sensitive projects.

Only a handful of the estimated 5,800 Chinese security companies operate overseas, with the vast majority focusing on the domestic market.

“For Chinese firms, especially with security work, they (state companies) want to speak with another Chinese person. We can also one hundred percent reflect their thinking when we work,” said Dewei general manager Hao Gang.

NO EASY SELL

Security risks facing Chinese workers abroad are varied and often unpredictable.

Yu Xuezhao, a former soldier working in Kenya for Dewei, is helping to train hundreds of local guards to protect Chinese contractors operating there, including oil giant Sinopec <600028.SS> and China Road and Bridge.

Africa, where China invested long before OBOR was formally created, is considered a part of the initiative.

“The most common incidents we encounter are thefts and strikes,” 27-year-old Yu said, speaking from a training compound in the Kenyan capital Nairobi he has managed since 2015. “We train security guards to inspect cars and do ground patrols.”

Events can quickly escalate.

In 2015, for example, an attack on a hotel in Mali killed three workers at a Chinese state firm, leading to calls by Beijing for beefed up security.

Officials revealed then that 350 security incidents had occurred between 2010-2015 involving Chinese firms abroad.

Such concerns do not easily translate into lucrative contracts, however.

In some cases, security companies are called in to deal with an emergency rather than to coordinate a long-term strategy.

“For a lot of companies, they come to us when they’ve (already) got a problem,” said Humphreys of Control Risks.

“They’ve started the project and they can’t move it forward because they have a labor dispute or someone is throwing petrol bombs at their trucks.”

Hao and other Chinese security executives added that most state-owned enterprises were building their overseas security capabilities from a low base.

“A lot of the larger state-owned enterprises have only just started to go out in the last few years. As such, overseas security work remains a blank space for those firms who had not gone out before,” he said.Some Chinese experts said companies operating abroad were beginning to think more about the importance of safety.

“This is something Chinese companies need to study more,” said Lu Guiqing, general manager of private builder Zhongnan Group and former chief economist at China State Construction Engineering Corporation.

“When you ‘go out’ safety is the most important. What’s the point if you end up losing people?”

(Additional reporting by Joseph Campbell in BEIJING and George Ng’ang’a in NAIROBI; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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UPDATE 1-Cricket-Younis reaches 10,000 test runs in first for Pakistan

Cricket - Reuters

April 23 (Reuters) - Younis Khan became the first Pakistan batsman to score 10,000 test runs on Sunday, reaching the milestone against West Indies in the opening match of his farewell international series.
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Europe becomes a new destination for American women stars

Reuters Sports

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - For years it was assumed that if professional women's club soccer was to truly take off it would be the United States that would provide the home for an elite competition.
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North Korea detains US citizen as tensions rise - CNN

World


CNN

North Korea detains US citizen as tensions rise
CNN
(CNN) North Korea detained a US citizen for unknown reasons as he was planning to fly out of Pyongyang International Airport on Saturday morning. Kim Sang Duk, also known as Tony Kim, was teaching at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, ...
US carrier group heads for Korean waters, China calls for restraintReuters
N. Korea detains US citizen; 3rd American being heldWashington Post
The Sad Saga of North Korea's ATMsBloomberg
Los Angeles Times -BBC News -The Boston Globe -Inside Higher Ed
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