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By IkemSamuel

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US President Donald Trump has vowed to help end “vicious and violent” conflicts in Africa.


“Africa right now has got problems like few people would even understand,” he said at a Nato summit press conference.

“It is so sad, it is so vicious and violent,” he said, promising that his goal was to build up the US military and bring peace to the world.

The US is active in counter-terrorism operations and training African troops to fight jihadists in the Sahara

Trade wars won’t fix globalization. Here’s why


The Trump Administration’s announcement in February of new steel and aluminium tariffs on national security grounds, including on imports from allies like the EU, have set the stage for escalating trade tensions. The EU recently imposed retaliatory tariffs on products ranging from bourbon whiskey to motorcycles. The US President hit back with a tweet threatening a 20% import tariff on autos and auto parts, telling manufacturers: “Build them here!”

A number of US-based firms have voiced concerns over supply chain disruptions from trade wars. Harley Davidson stated that it would be shifting production aimed at the EU market outside the US to avoid the additional tariff burden, exemplifying the unintended consequences of this approach.

Earlier this month, the US announced a 25% duty on around $50 billion worth of Chinese imports on the grounds that they utilize intellectual property obtained from US firms through forced technology transfers or theft. China’s Made in China 2025 plan was named and scrutinised in the report. UNCTAD estimates that, like China, more than 100 countries have formal industrial policy strategies, many of which involve joining and benefitting from global value chains (GVCs). Tariff wars undermine growth models that rely on the benefits and efficiencies of globalization.

We asked policy experts and business leaders: how can countries really reap the economic and social benefits of GVCs, while avoiding inequality and environmental damage?

Don’t neglect services : Much of the recent talk of bilateral trade deficits has overlooked the importance of services to the global and national economies. Factors affecting services competitiveness have become important for economic growth and development more generally. Investment in human capital, digital infrastructure (including reliable mobile broadband), efficient and flexible domestic regulation and connectedness with international markets (including open cross-border flow of data, visa facilitation and mutual recognition agreements) are key. The services sector has strong inclusiveness dimensions: it is more SME-intensive than the goods sector is and has more women workers, owners and managers.

Co-operate on competition policy : Various anti-competitive activities by firms impede the efficient operation of value chains. Today, there are over 100 jurisdictions administering competition law. In the absence of global rules on competition, each jurisdiction applies its own system. Firms can find themselves facing conflicting decisions from different authorities with respect to the same merger or other activity. This leads to the most interventionist ruling of a major economy being enforced. In the case of digital products, questions of jurisdiction and enforcement are all the more challenging. Greater cooperation between agencies would improve clarity and reduce gaps in enforcement.

Prioritise tax certainty over incentives : In an attempt to attract GVC-linked foreign direct investment (FDI), many countries engage in harmful tax competition to woo multinational enterprises (MNEs). However, for the most part, FDI tends to be more sensitive to tax certainty than to tax incentives. Enhanced consistency in tax rules, interpretation and enforcement across economies and better cooperation between authorities help foster certainty. That being said, tax credits for education and training could help build a workforce suited for high-demand tasks through public-private partnerships. These and other programmes would need to be designed and monitored carefully to avoid tax evasion or aggressive tax planning by MNEs.

Incentivise sustainability : MNEs play a key role in coordinating activities and actors along the value chain. They set private standards that suppliers and affiliates have to meet. An increasing number (over 550) of these standards are sustainability-related. As these can be difficult for small producers to navigate and meet, coherent standards and simplified procedures are needed. Many big, consumer-facing brands are seeing greater demand for sustainably-sourced products from their customers. Others are finding ways to raise capital by tapping into investor appetite for sustainable business operations.

Implement doing-business reforms : Since MNEs play such an important role in GVCs, creating an enabling environment that attracts and sustains FDI is crucial. This involves reforms that cut red tape and corruption, improve infrastructure, provide quality education to the workforce to enable them to work in modern production chains and ensure that companies operating in the country have access to foreign exchange so that they can pay suppliers and repatriate profits.

So far, the tariff war has been just that: a tariff war, limited to the use of import duties on goods. Soon, though, the US is expected to release details of how it plans to restrict Chinese investment in US companies where it deems it a threat to national security. Meanwhile, the Chinese government could make things difficult for US companies operating in China – by imposing regulatory burdens or encouraging consumer boycotts. It could choose to block mergers , such as the one proposed between the US firm Qualcomm and Dutch firm NPX. The EU could consider retaliating against US banking and insurance companies and taxing digital services, hurting US tech companies.

Short-sighted, protectionist measures ignore and erode the opportunities that GVCs provide for driving inclusive and sustainable growth and do nothing to optimize outcomes.

SOURCE: World Economic Forum

By Aditi Verghese and Sean Doherty

US ambassador to Estonia resigns in frustration over Trump


The US ambassador to Estonia is resigning in frustration with President Donald Trump’s comments about, and treatment of, European allies.

James D. Melville Jr.’s resignation, first reported by Foreign Policy magazine, makes him the third ambassador in the last year to leave the State Department early. He is among many senior State Department officials who have headed for the exits or been pushed toward them since Trump assumed office.

In a statement, a State Department spokesperson confirmed Melville’s departure.

“Earlier today, the United States’ Ambassador to Estonia, Jim Melville, announced his intent to retire from the Foreign Service effective July 29 after 33 years of public service,” the statement read in its entirety.

Melville’s resignation comes at a time of acutely heightened tension in an alliance that, before Trump’s election, had been one of the most solid, reliable and interconnected US relationships.

But Trump’s attacks on NATO members, his trade tariffs against EU nations, his rejection of the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement and his attacks on leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel have cast a pall over US ties to Europe.

Many European officials are wary about Trump’s mid-July visit to the NATO summit in Belgium. Those officials there fear that Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin after NATO will look like the friendlier encounter in comparison.

“The transatlantic relationship, which all around the table we consider a given, is not a given,” a European diplomat told CNN. “We now have a major crisis.”

‘It’s time to go’

Foreign Policy quoted from a private post on Melville’s Facebook page in which the seasoned diplomat referred to the President’s comments about Europe in explaining his decision to retire early.

“A Foreign Service Officer’s DNA is programmed to support policy and we’re schooled right from the start, that if there ever comes a point where one can no longer do so, particularly if one is in a position of leadership, the honorable course is to resign,” the magazine quotes Melville’s post as saying. “Having served under six presidents and 11 secretaries of state, I never really thought it would reach that point for me.”

“For the President to say the EU was ‘set up to take advantage of the United States, to attack our piggy bank,’ or that ‘NATO is as bad as NAFTA’ is not only factually wrong, but proves to me that it’s time to go,” Melville said in the post.

The announcement of Melville’s departure was followed by that of Susan Thornton, Trump’s choice to be the nominee to be assistant secretary for East Asian affairs, later on Friday.

Two State Department officials said Thornton notified staff in an email today that she is retiring in July.

The officials said Thornton, a well-respected career diplomat who has been doing the job in an acting capacity since Trump took office, was notified she will in fact not be the nominee and she decided to retire.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pushed very hard for Thornton’s nomination amid intense push-back from conservatives on Capitol Hill and hardliners in the administration.

Secretary of State Pompeo tipped his hand on Thornton about a month ago during testimony on Capitol Hill, in which he said he would be making announcements on personnel, including a top diplomat for East Asia, signaling Thornton was no longer going to be considered for the post.

The duo is only the latest Foreign Service officer to leave in a department where the senior ranks have been deeply depleted and even rising stars have resigned rather than serve the President.

In November, an award-winning US diplomat based in Nairobi wrote then Tillerson a blistering letter saying that the Trump administration had diminished the influence of State Department with its preference for military solutions.

Elizabeth Shackelford wrote that “despite the stinging disrespect this Administration has shown our profession,” the State Department’s diplomats “continue the struggle to keep our foreign policy on the positive trajectory necessary to avert global disaster in increasingly dangerous times.”

‘Traditional values … betrayed’

In her resignation letter, Shackelford told Tillerson that she “would humbly request that you follow me out the door.”

In January, then-US Ambassador to Panama John Feeley resigned over differences with the Trump administration, saying in his resignation letter that “as a junior Foreign Service officer, I signed an oath to serve faithfully the President and his administration in an apolitical fashion, even when I might not agree with certain policies.”

“My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor bound to resign. That time has come,” wrote Feeley.

Once he had left office, Feeley was less circumspect in a scathing oped in the Washington Post, saying that he had “resigned because the traditional core values of the United States, as manifested in the President’s National Security Strategy and his foreign policies, have been warped and betrayed.”

In March, another career diplomat, then-US Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson, announced her decision to step down amid increased tensions between the US and Mexico that’s due in large part to Trump’s incendiary rhetoric about the country, its citizens and its trade relationship with the US.

A few days after her announcement, the White House delivered the equivalent of a slap, excluding Jacobson — who served as ambassador until May — from a meeting in Mexico City between Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and President Enrique Pena Nieto.

By Morning Call

Philippines President says God is stupid


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has received backlash after he called God stupid in the Asia’s largest Catholic church.

The 73-year-old president who has also insulted the Pope, Barack Obama, the United Nations among others also faulted the concept of original sin referring to God in a rather crude language.

Duterte, in his usual blunt style stated he found it foolish for God to create something “perfect” and then allow the first humans, Adam and Eve, to ruin it by bringing sin into existence because of the forbidden fruit.

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte questioned why God created Adam and Eve only to allow them to cave in to temptation.Photo: theguardian.com

“Who is this stupid God? You created something perfect and then you think of an event that would tempt and destroy the quality of your work,”

“Adam ate it (the fruit from the forbidden tree), then malice was born. Who is this stupid God? You are really a stupid son of a b***ch if that is the case,” he posed.

Referring to the Biblical story of the fall of humankind, the controversial president questioned God’s logic and termed him as stupid.

“Now all of us are born with an original sin. What is the original sin? Was it the first kiss? What was the sin? Why is it original. You’re still in your mother’s womb and yet to already have a sin,”

“…Now you’re stained with an original sins … What kind of a religion is that? That’s what I can’t accept, very stupid proposition,” he said.

He,however clarified that he believes there is a “universal mind.”

Dutertes questioned the concept of original sin saying he didn’t accept it. Photo: VOA News

Duterte’s remarks sparked outrage as his spokesperson, Harry Roque, rushed to his defense urging the public to accept that the president tends to use strong language when expressing his beliefs.

“That is the personal belief of the president. We are free to believe in religion and we are also free not to believe in religion. The president has his personal spiritual beliefs, “

“We cannot fault the president if he has no sense of hypocrisy and we should accept that because even when he was just a candidate, he never hid that from us,” he opined.

Rogue went on to reveal the president’s strong sentiments could have resulted from his childhood experience where he suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a priest.

“I think the declaration of the president stemmed from his bad experience when still young. He was allegedly abused by a priest,”

“This is an issue that the Church should face and perhaps it just happened that the president is one of the victims,” said Duterte’s aide.

He argued the Catholic church should not hide it’s head in the sand and pretend the abuse never happended maintaining that the church “should admit and ask forgiveness so that all the victims, including President Duterte, can also move on with their lives.”

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Source: Tuko News

By Mary Wangari

US blocks visas for ‘corrupt’ DR Congo officials


The US State Department has imposed visa bans on a number of Congolese officials accused of corruption or electoral malpractice.

It declined to name those targeted, but said the move was intended to send a strong signal that Washington was committed to fighting corruption and to supporting credible elections.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is to hold a much-delayed presidential election in December to choose a successor to Joseph Kabila.

His second and final term in office ended in 2016 but many suspect he is trying to stay in power.

By Morning Call