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Tesla shows off self-driving technology to investors

FILE PHOTO: A Tesla logo is seen in Los Angeles
FILE PHOTO: A Tesla logo is seen in Los Angeles, California U.S. January 12, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

April 22, 2019

By Alexandria Sage

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Tesla Inc broadcast a web presentation on Monday to update investors about its self-driving strategy as Chief Executive Elon Musk tries to show that the electric car maker’s massive investment in the sector will pay off.

Global carmakers, large technology companies and an array of startups are developing self-driving – including Alphabet Inc’s Waymo and Uber Technologies Inc – but experts say it will be years before the systems are ready for deployment.

Musk previously forecast that by 2018 cars would go “from your driveway to work without you touching anything.” Teslas still require human intervention and are not considered fully self-driving, according to industry standards.

Teslas have been involved in a handful of crashes, some of them fatal, involving the use of the company’s AutoPilot system. The system has automatic steering and cruise control but requires driver attention at the wheel. Tesla has been criticized by safety groups for being unclear about the need for “hands-on” driving.

The company also sells a “full self-driving option” for an additional $5,000, explained on Tesla’s website as “automatic driving from highway on-ramp to off-ramp,” automatic lane changes, the ability to autopark and to summon a parked car. Coming later in 2019 is the ability to recognize traffic lights and stop signs, and perform automatic driving on city streets, Tesla says.

But Tesla’s use of the term “full self-driving” still garners criticism, as the option is not yet “Level 4,” or fully autonomous by industry standards, in which the car can handle all aspects of driving in most circumstances with no human intervention.

Tesla says its cars have the necessary hardware for full self-driving in most circumstances, and Musk said in February he was certain that Tesla would be “feature complete” for full self-driving in 2019, although drivers would still need to pay attention until the system’s reliability improved.

Tesla reports first-quarter earnings on Wednesday. That is also the deadline by which Musk and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are supposed to settle their dispute over Musk’s use of Twitter.

(Reporting by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

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House Democrats’ views vary on action after Mueller report: Pelosi

FILE PHOTO: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) stands during a meeting with European Parliament President Antonio Tajani on Capitol Hill in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) stands during a meeting with European Parliament President Antonio Tajani on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

April 22, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House Democrats’ views vary on how to proceed after last week’s release of a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Monday.

In a letter to fellow Democratic lawmakers, Pelosi said it is “important to know that the facts regarding holding the president accountable can be gained outside of impeachment hearings.” She added that President Donald Trump engaged in highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior “whether currently indictable or not”.

Top congressional Democrats have left the door open to pursuing the impeachment of Trump, a Republican, but have also said they would first need to complete their own probe into whether he obstructed justice in Mueller’s investigation.

“While our views range from proceeding to investigate the findings of the Mueller report or proceeding directly to impeachment, we all firmly agree that we should proceed down a path of finding the truth,” Pelosi said in her letter.

“As we proceed to uncover the truth and present additional needed reforms to protect our democracy, we must show the American people we are proceeding free from passion or prejudice, strictly on the presentation of fact,” she wrote.

House Democrats will discuss their next steps in a conference call later Monday.

Pelosi and some other Democratic party leaders have been wary of impeachment just 18 months before the November 2020 presidential election, although prominent liberals have demanded the start of proceedings to remove Trump from office since the release of a redacted version of Mueller’s report on Thursday.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, whose panel would spearhead any impeachment proceedings, said Sunday that Democrats would press ahead with investigations of Trump in Congress and “see where the facts lead us.”

The redacted version of Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election outlined multiple instances where Trump tried to thwart the probe. While it stopped short of concluding Trump had committed a crime, it did not exonerate him. Mueller also noted that Congress has the power to address whether Trump violated the law.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell in Washington; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and James Dalgleish)

Source: OANN

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Sen. Ernst: Not Necessary for Mueller to Testify in Senate

The Senate Judiciary Committee doesn't need to hear testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller about his report, because it should instead be focusing on confirming federal judges, Sen. Joni Ernst said Monday.

"We have the report, so we can go on from there," the Iowa Republican, a member of the committee told CNN. "Really, the House seems all over this. I know that we will continue to work on judges as a primary concern in [the Senate] Judiciary."

Ernst also added, when asked if she felt alarmed after seeing Trump's behavior as described in the Mueller report, that "we all know who the president is. He has a brash demeanor, that's about all I can say."

Her comments come as House Democrats call for Mueller to testify. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is scheduled to hold a conference call Monday with House Democrats to discuss a strategy following last week's report release.

Last week, even before Mueller's report was released, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y asked the special counsel to appear before his committee by May 23, posting on his Twitter account a copy of a letter he sent to Mueller.

Sunday, Nadler told NBC News that he hasn't ruled out impeachment but said Congress will "have to hear from" Mueller and Attorney General William Barr first.

"Some of this would be impeachable," Nadler said about allegations in Mueller's report. "Obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable."

Source: NewsMax Politics

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Samsung confirms delay of Galaxy Fold release

FILE PHOTO: The Samsung Galaxy Fold phone is shown on a screen at Samsung Electronics’ Unpacked event in San Francisco
FILE PHOTO: The Samsung Galaxy Fold phone is shown on a screen at Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s Unpacked event in San Francisco, California, U.S., Feb. 20, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Nellis/File Photo

April 22, 2019

(Reuters) – Samsung Electronics Co Ltd confirmed on Monday it would delay the public availability of its Galaxy Fold smartphone after reviewers of the foldable handset reported defective samples.

“To fully evaluate this feedback and run further internal tests, we have decided to delay the release of the Galaxy Fold. We plan to announce the release date in the coming weeks,” Samsung said.

(Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

Source: OANN

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Luckin Coffee files for U.S. IPO

The logo is seen next to a customer at a Luckin Coffee store in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: The logo is seen next to a customer at a Luckin Coffee store in Beijing, China, February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee

April 22, 2019

(Reuters) – China’s Luckin Coffee Inc on Monday filed for an initial public offering with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The coffee chain, which intends to list under the symbol “LK” on the Nasdaq, set a placeholder amount of $100 million to indicate the size of the IPO, a filing with the regulator showed. (

The size of the IPO stated in preliminary filings is used to calculate registration fees. The final IPO size could be different.

(Reporting by Bharath Manjesh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini GanguliEditing by Shinjini Ganguli)

Source: OANN

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On federal logorrhea

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On the roster: On federal logorrhea - I’ll Tell You What: Shut up, they explained - House Dems huddle; Pelosi wants Mueller messaging - Biden will hit Va., Pa. on announcement day - ‘The fluffy vigilante’ 

When the Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday on whether the Trump administration can include a question about citizenship in the 2020 Census, most of the debate will center on whether doing so would skew the results by discouraging immigrants from participating.

(The discussion will also no doubt include the ways in which Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the cabinet member in charge, has screwed things up.)  

But what really matters here isn’t just the latest in the ongoing antagonism between the Trump administration and blue states but rather the larger trend: An increasing number of Americans from all ethnicities and origins don’t trust their government enough to reply to its questions.

Here’s the WSJ: “Survey-response rates have been falling over recent decades. In 1990, when Americans were asked to participate in the Labor Department’s population survey, which is used to calculate the monthly unemployment rate, 4% declined. As of 2018, the nonresponse rate nearly quadrupled, to 15.2%. Another survey, used to calculate inflation, asks Americans to track spending on goods and services. In 1985, 86% agreed to help. Today, 61% do.”

Fewer responses mean less reliable data and less reliable data means less- or wrongly-informed decision making.

Some of it may just be sloth and some of it may be a general aversion to surveys, a trend that afflicted private-sector pollsters, too. But given the corresponding drop in Americans’ overall trust and confidence in government institutions, it’s hard to believe it’s not a significant factor.     

We can blame the distrust of citizens for the government on a lot of things, existing as it does within the general public paranoia of the information age. But we can also blame it on the fact that the government has often been unworthy of our trust.  

The government did not truly, systematically start domestic propaganda until the First World War.

For as long as we have been a nation, controversy has surrounded the use of government resources to tell partial or sometimes even entirely untrue stories to the same citizens on whom the government is supposed to be dependent.

In fact, there are none who would say it is a wholly good thing. There are many, though, who say it is at least sometimes needful.

And in that claim they have been right many times. Our back-to-back-to-back victories in the major global conflicts of the 20th century will stand in history long past the end of this millennium. They would not have been possible with a government that was entirely servile and transparent.

They wrote the Constitution in secret for a reason, people.

Sometimes effective and reasonable governance, especially during periods of national threat or dire uncertainty, requires the government to operate at some distance from the citizens who elected it. Abraham Lincoln still has his critics, but there are precious few outside the ranks of honest-to-goodness Confederate sympathizers who wish he had been even more restrained in his defense of the republic.

But Woodrow Wilson has a different story to tell.

He created the first ever organization inside the United States government that had the sole purpose of misleading the American people. If our enemies in the Great War could use mass media to direct the thoughts and ambitions of their citizens, would we rather lose the fight by self-restraint? If “the world must be made safe for democracy,” then maybe you have to fiddle with the democratic process just enough to make sure we the people don’t make bad choices?

The creation of the Committee of Public Information in 1917 is a watershed that does not get enough attention in our view of modern history – a true departure from the first 128 years of our history.

Does the government have a role to play in reinforcing the attitude and outlook reflected in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution? You bet. Does the military have the need to encourage able, sound recruits or motivate conscripts? We should hope so.

This is a government designed to serve the people of this particular nation. The government we elect gets to pick our flag, our symbols, our currency and our even our name.

Moreover, there is an unwritten, yet tradition-bound role of our national political leaders in the major and minor civic sacrosanctities. Somebody has to throw out the first pitch, why not the guy who has George Washington’s job?

But anything beyond that, especially that which is funded by taxes paid by the same citizens whom the government is trying to manipulate, are found objectionable by many — especially if the political party opposite of theirs is the one doing the manipulation.

Most of the object of the American system is on making sure that the government is responsive to the direction and needs of the populace. But the object of the Bill of Rights is substantially about what the government can tell the people. The government cannot people what to say. The government cannot tell the people with whom they will associate. The government cannot tell the people what and where to worship.

But on seemingly every issue not circumscribed by the Constitution, the government tells and tells and tells us. Happy Asian-Pacific American Heritage/Celebrate Diversity/Distracted Driving Awareness/Donate Life Awareness/Jazz Appreciation Month to all who celebrate…

And when the executive branch changes hands between parties, the priorities and spin can turn on a dime. One day it’s all about energy efficiency, the next day it’s all about energy production. And nearly all of it, even the stuff that isn’t obvious cant, has a political motivation within it.

Just image when the Founders would have said about the resources of a $4-trillion-a-year federal government being used to employ an army of flacks and spin-meisters the very purpose of which is to shape the way Americans think, act and feel – including about the government itself. The Constitution did not contemplate the communications director.

No matter. The howitzers pounding out this pap will blaze on undiminished. And few will likely consider the fact that if the government wanted to hear more from citizens on surveys and elsewhere, it might be wise to listen instead of talk once in a while.

“To look for a continuation of harmony between a number of independent, unconnected sovereignties in the same neighborhood, would be to disregard the uniform course of human events, and to set at defiance the accumulated experience of ages.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 6

Smithsonian: “The Online Bike Museum explains that the Autoped, the first mass-produced motorized scooter ride in the U.S., was ‘[e]ssentially an enlarged child’s scooter with an engine mounted over the front wheel.’ Though some reports claimed it could reach speeds of 35 miles per hour, the steering column operated the clutch and brake, which the museum noted made the ride ‘unsteady’ when it pushed 20 mph. Later, a battery-operated version of the Autoped was made available when the Everready Battery Company bought the outfit. The concept of the scooter stretches back at least a century before to 1817 and Baron Karl von Drais de Sauerbrun of Germany. After he debuted his early two-wheeled, human-powered ride, the velocipede concept was quickly spun off into bicycles, tricycles and kick scooters. … Come the turn of the 19th century, battery-powered machines were also entering into the fold; Ogden Bolton Jr. was issued a U.S. patent for his battery-powered bicycle in 1895.”

Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.

Trump job performance 
Average approval:
 42.8 percent
Average disapproval: 52 percent
Net Score: -9.2 points
Change from one week ago: down 0.8 points 
[Average includes: Fox News: 45% approve - 51% disapprove; Monmouth University: 40% approve - 54% disapprove; Gallup: 45% approve - 51% disapprove; GU Politics/Battleground: 43% approve - 52% disapprove; IBD: 41% approve - 52% disapprove.]

On Friday, Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discussed the findings of the Mueller report, what will happen to Democrats once Joe Biden enters the 2020 race, and Dana shares a musical hit from when The Five were in Nashville. Plus, Dana asks Chris mailbag questions and fires off some trivia questions. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

Politico: “Now that the dust has started to settle after last week’s release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report, Democrats will try to figure out how to move forward. House Democrats, who are in the middle of a two-week recess, will hold a conference call later today so the caucus can start to plot their next steps and sharpen their strategy in a post-Mueller world. Per a Dem aide, the call is expected to focus on the ‘need to see the full report and need to hear from Mueller ASAP.’ Democrats have already made some strategic moves, formally issuing a subpoena on Friday for the full report and all its underlying materials — an immediate top priority for the caucus. And Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) also rejected an offer from the DOJ to view a less-redacted version of the report, arguing that every lawmaker has a right to view the entire report…”

Schiff hedges on impeachment - WaPo: ‘House Democrats will hold a meeting to discuss whether to pursue impeachment proceedings against President Trump, a key lawmaker said Sunday. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said on ‘Fox News Sunday’ that the House Democratic caucus will meet in the coming weeks to discuss the matter. ‘That’s going to be a very consequential decision and one that I’m going to reserve judgment on until we’ve had a chance to fully deliberate on it,’ Schiff said. In an appearance on ABC News’s ‘This Week,’ Schiff said that although the findings of the Mueller report are ‘serious and damning,’ he does not believe the Senate would convict Trump if the House were to impeach him. ‘Now, it may be that we undertake an impeachment nonetheless. I think what we are going to have to decide as a caucus is: What is the best thing for the country?’ he said.”

Trump sues to block probe of his business practices - WaPo: “President Trump and his business sued House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) in a bid to block a congressional subpoena of his financial records on Monday. The lawsuit seeks a court order to prevent Trump’s accounting firm from complying with what his lawyers say is an improper use of subpoena power by congressional Democrats. … Last week, Cummings subpoenaed Mazars USA, an accounting firm long used by Trump. For more than a decade, Mazars and a predecessor firm signed off on financial statements for Trump that he used when seeking loans. Some of the statements include frequent exaggerations or inaccuracies and were accompanied by a note from the firm saying it was not responsible for the accuracy of the information.”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Two sources familiar with Biden’s preliminary plans said the former vice president will announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president on Wednesday in Charlottesville, Va., the site of a clash in August 2017 between white supremacists and counterprotesters that claimed one life. Biden then will fly to Pittsburgh for a rally in the afternoon and then come to Philadelphia, where he will hold a rally at the Art Museum, though the sources said the plans have been shifting in recent days and could change again. David L. Cohen, a Comcast senior executive vice president and an influential Democratic figure, is planning a fund-raiser for Biden at his Philadelphia home Thursday, one sign of the support the former vice president can expect from much of the party establishment, particularly in Pennsylvania. Former Gov. Ed Rendell said he would support Biden, making him one of the most prominent figures in a host of Keystone State insiders expected to do the same.”

Buttigieg likens Bernie backers to Trump fans - Fox News: “Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on Friday said that President Trump’s supporters were similar to Bernie Sanders’ supporters because they both feel marginalized and want to tear down the system. The comments came during a campaign stop in downtown Nashua, N.H. before a crowd of mostly high school students, according to The Washington Examiner. The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind. said that a sense of ‘anger and disaffection’ grows from neighborhoods and families who are struggling to get by despite reports of a healthy economy. ‘It just kind of turns you against the system in general and then you’re more likely to want to vote to blow up the system, which could lead you to somebody like Bernie and it could lead you to somebody like Trump. That’s how we got where we are,’ Buttigieg said. Buttigieg drew a distinction between himself and the 77-year-old Vermont Senator…”

Can Buttigieg turn buzz into ballots? - AP: “There are no policy positions on his website. He has virtually no paid presence in the states that matter most. And his campaign manager is a high school friend with no experience in presidential politics. Welcome to the campaign of Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old Indiana mayor who has suddenly become one of the hottest names in the Democrats’ presidential primary season. Yet there is an increasing urgency, inside and outside of the campaign, that his moment may pass if he doesn’t take swift action to build a national organization capable of harnessing the energy he’ll need to sustain his surge in the nine months or so before the first votes are cast. … Aware of the daunting road ahead, Buttigieg’s team is plowing forward with an ambitious push to expand his operation, attract new campaign cash and pound the airwaves with virtually every media opportunity available.”

A struggling Warren grabs impeachment issue - NYT: “Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has worked for months to find traction in a crowded Democratic presidential primary, stepped forward on Friday with a call to arms: President Trump must be impeached. What followed, generally, was conspicuous silence – and not just from her colleagues in Congress. After sidestepping the explosive issue of impeachment for months by citing the inquiry by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, most of the other 17 Democratic presidential candidates have responded to the special counsel’s report with tentative remarks about impeaching Mr. Trump, demands for the unredacted Mueller findings, calls for further hearings or attempts to simply change the subject. Anything, that is, to avoid clearly answering the question of whether lawmakers should remove the president from office. … But some strategists and lawmakers say that a failed effort would only strengthen Mr. Trump’s re-election chances, allowing him to claim further vindication.”

Moulton becomes the fourth House member to join 2020 field - Politico: “Rep. Seth Moulton announced Monday that he is running for president, vowing to engage young people and military veterans and becoming the third Massachusetts politician to throw a hat into the 2020 ring. An Iraq veteran who led an unsuccessful effort to oust Nancy Pelosi from the House leadership last year, the 40-year-old Moulton has said he plans to run a campaign focused on national security and defense issues, which his campaign argues will make him a foil to President Donald Trump. Moulton was elected to Congress in 2014, after he upset former Democratic Rep. John Tierney in a primary fight. The Salem lawmaker is serving his third term. … Moulton's 2020 website went live on Monday morning, highlighting Moulton's positions on foreign policy and national security, jobs, health care, climate change and leadership. The website also has a store with T-shirts, hats and tote bags.”

Politico: “Deep-pocketed Republicans who snubbed Donald Trump in 2016 are going all in for him in 2020, throwing their weight behind a newly created fundraising drive that’s expected to dump tens of millions into his reelection coffers. The effort involves scores of high-powered businessmen, lobbyists and former ambassadors who raised big money for George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney – and who are now preparing to tap their expansive networks for Trump after rebuffing his first presidential bid. The project, which is closely modeled after the famed Pioneers network that helped to fuel Bush’s 2000 campaign, is slated to be formally unveiled on May 7, when well-connected Republican fundraisers from around the country descend on Washington for a closed-door event with Trump 2020 aides. … Party officials have been reaching out to top fundraisers in recent weeks and wooing them with the prospect of joining ‘raiser clubs,’ with names like 45 Club, Trump Train and Builders Club.”

Trump bashes Bernie in public, praises in private - Daily Beast: “To his rally-goers, Donald Trump openly craves a 2020 showdown with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), salivating at the prospect of getting to run against an elderly, self-declared democratic socialist. But in private, his view of a potential run against the senator is a lot more complex and less swaggeringly self-assured. Those around the president say he’s been of two minds when the topic of facing Sanders in 2020 comes up. While he sees the senator as a vulnerable opponent, he also has offered begrudging respect for his political acumen. Trump will—sometimes unprompted—bring up Sanders’s own working-class support, and acknowledge that there is, in fact, potential for the senator to win over Trump voters with his populist appeal, three sources who’ve discussed this with the president tell The Daily Beast. The president has been impressed with Sanders’ ability to ignite his base and draw a large crowd, though not, in his words, as ‘good as Trump.’”

Herman Cain withdraws from consideration for Federal Reserve seat - WaPo

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., announces successful surgery to treat prostate cancer - Politico

NRCC names first eight members to benefit from Patriot Program ahead of 2020 - Roll Call

Meet the 2020 spouses: The high-powered men and women behind the candidates - Fox News

“It depends on the stolen material.” – Rudy Giuliani, personal attorney to President Trump, when asked by NBC News whether it is “okay for political campaigns to work with material stolen by foreign adversaries.”

“Senators running for president who miss voting due to campaigning should have a pay cut for each missed vote!” – Michael Carter, Kenton County, Ky.

[Ed. note: I have never understood the desire some Americans have about getting members of Congress to work more days. I might even consider a bonus program that would give them bonus cash for every day spent outside of the capital! (I kid… mostly.) The problems with our legislative branch won’t be solved by having them spending more time in Washington. I’d instead say there’s probably a great deal to be said for members being with normal Americans. And I promise that for every vote in which they would be more than just padding, all five of the senators running would be there.]   

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

Orlando Weekly: “In what is probably downtown Orlando's weirdest fight yet, someone dressed as the Easter Bunny ran into an ongoing brawl and beat up a man on Orange Avenue Sunday. An Orlando promoter who goes by Workkk caught the whole thing on video and told Orlando Weekly the fight started when a man bumped into a woman with dreads. The two were already punching each other when the fluffy vigilante suddenly jumped in and started swinging. … ‘As you can see the Easter rabbit been taking boxing classes,’ the promoter says. … The video shows the fight was quickly broken up by a bystander and a bike cop from Orlando Police. Orlando Weekly reached out to OPD for more information but did not receive an immediate comment.”

“In Trump World, the better angels are not in evidence.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the National Review on July 28, 2017.

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Source: Fox News Politics

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Colombia central bank likely to hold rate until September – analysts

The Colombia's central bank logo is seen in Bogota
FILE PHOTO: The Colombia's central bank logo is seen in Bogota, Colombia October 1, 2018. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez

April 22, 2019

By Nelson Bocanegra

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia’s seven-member central bank board will hold the benchmark interest rate steady at its April meeting this week, taking advantage of a lack of pressure on either inflation or economic growth, analysts said in a Reuters survey on Monday.

The policymakers will keep the rate steady until at least September, those surveyed said.

The 19 analysts agreed the rate will remain at 4.25 percent at Friday’s meeting, which will mark one year since the last rate movement.

Those polled said there will be only one movement in borrowing costs this year – an increase of 25 points. In the March survey they had predicted two quarter point increases before the end of 2019.

“The outlook looks set for the bank to hold the rate, without increases, during a longer time,” said Juana Tellez, head economist at BBVA Research. “In 2020 it could increase again by 25 basis points to 4.75 percent – its long-term neutral level.”

Analysts’ inflation expectations for this year were up slightly to 3.30 percent, from 3.20 percent in last month’s survey.

In April, consumer prices will increase 0.39 percent, taking 12-month inflation to 3.15 percent, the poll showed.

“Given the surprisingly low figures in the first two months of the year and lower volatility in inflation because of the new measurement methodology, we have adjusted our estimate for the close of 2019,” said Maria Paula Contreras of Corficolombiana.

“We expect moderate upward pressures because of the El Nino phenomenon, local supply disruptions and the gradual transmission of the (peso) devaluation.”

The economic growth expectations of those polled were down slightly to 3.25 percent, compared with 3.30 percent in last month’s survey.

(Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Susan Thomas)

Source: OANN

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FILE PHOTO: Tennis: Miami Open
FILE PHOTO: Mar 20, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Amanda Anisimova of the United States reaches for a backhand against Andrea Petkovic of Germany (not pictured) in the first round of the Miami Open at Miami Open Tennis Complex. Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

April 14, 2019

Sixth-seeded American Amanda Anisimova overcame a slow start to rally past Brazilian qualifier Beatriz Haddad Maia 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2 on Saturday and reach the Claro Open Colsanitas final in Bogota, Colombia.

It will be the second career final appearance for the 17-year-old Anisimova, who hadn’t won on clay in two years before entering the tournament. She had 13 chances to break Haddad Maia through the first two sets but converted only one, then converted three of four in the final set to wrap up victory in 2 hours and 40 minutes.

In the final, Anisimova will face Australia’s Astra Sharma, who downed former Bogata champion Lara Arruabarrena of Spain 7-5, 6-1 to also reach her first career final. Sharma, 23, completed the victory in just 66 minutes, breaking Arruabarrena — the 11th seed, who reached the final in 2017 and 2018 after winning it in 2012 — four times in five chances.

Anisimova and Sharma have never faced each other in WTA play.

Samsung Open

Polish 17-year-old Iga Swiatek was nearly flawless in her semifinal against the Czech Republic’s Kristyna Pliskova, cruising to a 6-0, 6-1 victory in Lugano, Switzerland, to reach her first career final.

Swiatek needed just 54 minutes to claim victory, despite having to save seven break points on her own serve, including two in the final game before two match points. She converted five of eight opportunities on Pliskova’s serve, winning the first nine games of the match overall.

Opposing Swiatek in the final will be Slovenia’s Polona Hercog, who dispatched France’s Fiona Ferro 7-5, 6-4 in 92 minutes. Hercog is seeking the third title of her career and her first since July of 2012 (Swedish Open). Her only final appearance since that victory came last April at the Istanbul Cup.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

Don McGahn was barely on speaking terms with President Donald Trump when he left the White House last fall. But special counsel Robert Mueller’s report reveals the president may owe his former top lawyer a debt of gratitude.

McGahn, who sat with Mueller for about 30 hours of interviews, emerged as a central character in Mueller’s painstaking investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice and impeded the years-long Russia investigation. In one striking scene , Mueller recounts how Trump called McGahn twice at home and directed him to set Mueller’s firing in motion. McGahn recoiled and threatened to resign instead.

Mueller concluded that McGahn and others effectively halted Trump’s efforts to influence the investigation, prompting some White House officials and outside observers to call him an unsung hero in the effort to protect the president.

John Marston, a former Washington, D.C. assistant United States attorney, said McGahn appeared to help Trump “both in real time with his actions and then as well as being forthcoming.”

McGahn’s relationship with the president was turbulent. A prominent Washington attorney, he joined Trump’s campaign as counsel in 2015 and followed him to the White House, but the two men never developed a close rapport. His departure last fall came as little surprise.

Still, it was McGahn who Trump turned to on June 17, 2017, when he wanted to oust Mueller. According to the special counsel report, McGahn responded to the president’s request by calling his personal lawyer and his chief of staff, driving to the White House, packing up his belongings and preparing to submit his letter of resignation. He told then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus that the president had asked him to “do crazy s—.”

Mueller said McGahn feared Trump was setting in motion a series of events “akin to the Saturday Night Massacre,” the Nixonian effort to rein in the Watergate investigation.

William Alden McDaniel, a lawyer who represented targets and witnesses in the Ken Starr investigation, as well a high-ranking officials in the Iran-Contra scandal, said McGahn appeared to be “one of the few people in the administration to stand up to the president” and that “takes a certain amount of principle.”

Mueller’s report shows there were a handful of other aides who rebuffed orders and suggestions from the president, helping save him from the consequences. Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski resisted an effort by Trump to convince Attorney General Jeff Sessions to un-recuse himself from the investigation and to limit the scope of Mueller’s probe. Priebus and McGahn repeatedly resisted Trump efforts to force out Sessions so that Trump could replace him and install a new person to oversee Mueller’s work.

McGahn also tried in other ways to keep the president in line, advising him that he should not communicate directly with the Department of Justice to avoid the perception or reality of political interference in law enforcement and reminding him that their conversations were not protected by attorney-client privilege.

Trump responded by questioning McGahn’s tendency to take notes and draft memoranda outlining his advice to the president for the historical record.

“Why do you take notes? Lawyers don’t take notes. I never had a lawyer who took notes,” Trump said, according to Mueller’s report. The special counsel said McGahn responded that he keeps notes “because he is a ‘real lawyer’ and explained that notes create a record and are not a bad thing.”

Exchanges like those appear to have led Mueller to conclude that McGahn was “a credible witness with no motive to lie or exaggerate given the position he held in the White House.”

McGahn did not respond to a request for comment Thursday and nearly a dozen friends and former colleagues mostly spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid upsetting him, describing him as a private person.

They largely characterized McGahn’s time in the White House as unhappy and defined by his frequent clashes with the president.

“Don is an experienced lawyer who’s dealt with difficult clients in the past,” said Jason Torchinsky, an election law attorney who has known McGhan for 20 years.

The White House declined comment.

In a campaign and White House staffed largely by novices and bootlickers, McGahn was a rare establishment figure, despite his longer hair and 80s cover band dabbling. He served as commissioner and chairman of the Federal Election Commission and had deep roots with the Republican party, including spending a decade as general counsel of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

At the White House, he earned praise from conservatives for helping confirm a series of conservative judges, including, in his final act, shepherding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation. He was also instrumental in fulfilling long-held conservative priorities, including leading the White House’s systematic effort to cut government regulations and weaken the power of administrative law judges.

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Apple company is seen outside an Apple store in Bordeaux
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Apple company is seen outside an Apple store in Bordeaux, France, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo

April 18, 2019

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) – Apple Inc is notorious for keeping what happens in its laboratories a closely guarded secret. But the iPhone maker plans to share openly everything that happens in its newest lab in Austin, Texas.

Apple said Thursday that it will open a “Material Recovery” lab to investigate new techniques using robotics and machine learning to rip apart its devices and recover valuable materials such as copper, aluminum and cobalt. The 9,000-square-foot lab will be at the same Austin facility as “Daisy,” an Apple-built robot that can now tear apart iPhones at the rate of 1.2 million per year.

The lab is part of Apple’s broader goal to make all of its products from recycled or renewable materials. Apple has not set a date for when it will reach that goal, though some products such as the MacBook Air already feature aluminum made from melted down iPhones traded in to Apple.

Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social Initiatives, told Reuters the research will inform how Apple designs its products.

“I absolutely think that the learnings we make there will be for all of Apple, and hopefully for all of our sector, and of course will influence designers and engineers as we go forward,” Jackson said in an interview.

Apple has faced criticism in the past that its thin-and-light product designs make it hard to disassemble products so they can be recycled.

Kyle Wiens, chief executive of iFixit, which provides free repair instructions for electronics, said Apple deserves some credit for making the iPhone reasonable to recycle. But he said many other popular products in its lineup – such as its AirPods headphones – cannot be economically recycled because they are stuck together with glue.

Jackson pushed back against that notion, saying that smaller products reduce material use and that Apple focuses on making longer lasting products. The company for the first time released figures showing that 7.8 million devices brought to Apple as trade-ins last year ended up with new users.

“Durability matters,” Jackson said. “We know our products are used a long time.”

Apple also said Thursday that materials recovered by the Daisy robot are making their way into new products. For example, batteries recovered by Daisy will be sent to recyclers so the cobalt from them can be used in new Apple batteries.

“Cobalt is mined in horrific conditions,” Wiens of iFixit said. “Reducing cobalt consumption is a good thing across the board.”

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies-Fan Event
Apr 16, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; MLB commissioner Rob Manfred addresses fans and media during an event at Independence Mall to announce Philadelphia as the host of the 2026 All Star Game. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

April 17, 2019

Major League Baseball is gearing up to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence with the announcement Tuesday that the 2026 All-Star Game will be played in Philadelphia.

Commissioner Rob Manfred delivered the news in front of Independence Hall, sharing the stage with All-Stars past and present including Phillies Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt and new Philadelphia outfielder Bryce Harper.

“Major League Baseball is honored to have the 2026 All-Star Game in Philadelphia be part of the celebration of the 250th anniversary of American independence,” Manfred said in a statement. “This event will continue a tradition established in 1976 where the National Pastime plays an important role in a milestone for our country.”

This will be the fifth Midsummer Classic in Philadelphia, which was hosted at Shibe Park in 1943 and 1952 and at Veterans Stadium in 1976 and 1996, but will mark the first All-Star Game at Citizens Bank Park, which opened in 2004.

Choosing the site so far in advance — and before the previous five years’ games are awarded — is unusual, but Manfred said the league has its reasons, according to a report by The Inquirer. Although Philadelphia is a logical location to help mark America’s 250th birthday, by announcing it seven years in advance, MLB could boost the city’s efforts to attract other marquee events for the celebration, just as it did for the bicentennial in 1976.

Also, Manfred noted the league likely won’t have to look hard for a Phillies player around whom to build their 2026 All-Star marketing campaign. By 2026, Harper will be just more than halfway through his 13-year, $330 million contract.

“Let’s hope he gives us a home run derby like he gave us in Washington last year,” Manfred said during the announcement. “That would be great.”

Harper told the crowd, “There’s nothing more exciting than going to an All-Star Game and enjoying it with some of the best players in the game. I can’t really explain how exciting it is to be in the home run derby, to be part of the (pregame) parade. Just for the city and the fans, you guys are going to enjoy it so much.”

Cleveland will host this year’s 90th All-Star Game on July 9, and Los Angeles will host the 2020 game at Dodger Stadium. Sites for 2021-25 have not been named.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The XBox booth is shown at the E3 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles
FILE PHOTO: The XBox booth is shown at the E3 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 13, 2017. REUTERS/ Mike Blake/File Photo

April 16, 2019

By Hilary Russ

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Microsoft Corp said on Tuesday its Xbox Game Studios will partner with Turner Sports’ ELEAGUE to produce a documentary series about “Gears of War” players in conjunction with a new version of the video game launching later this year.

The series will feature six hour-long programs focusing on the new game, called Gears 5, and the lives of its star players from around the globe. It will debut June 14 on Turner’s TBS network.

ELEAGUE produces content about esports and live tournaments. It is a partnership between Turner Sports, a unit of AT&T Inc’s WarnerMedia, and entertainment talent agency IMG.

Esports fans watch live video game tournaments online as well as in packed stadiums.

In July, ELEAGUE will also host the first-ever Gears 5 esports tournament and reveal its first multiplayer mode in action, with coverage streamed on Twitch and Bleacher Report Live. Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.

For Turner, the partnership is another opportunity to serve its sports and entertainment audience while also reaching new segments of the ballooning gaming viewership.

“The audience is the most coveted demographic in the media landscape,” Craig Barry, chief content officer for Turner Sports, told Reuters. “We know they’re out there, we know they’re engaged. No one’s really cracked the code yet.”

Esports fans are younger, more interactive and often more affluent than other sports audiences.

Global esports revenues will grow nearly 27 percent to $1.1 billion this year, according to Newzoo research.

Those numbers include all aspects of the industry, so ELEAGUE is targeting a smaller slice with Gears.

Gears – developed by The Coalition, a studio within Microsoft’s gaming business – has particularly impassioned fans, said Rose Gunson, program manager for Gears of War at Microsoft.

“Our players are very engaging, they have huge personalities. They are very interesting to watch,” Gunson said.

(Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Source: OANN

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