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FILE PHOTO: A sign is displayed on the Morgan Stanley building in New York U.S., July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
April 25, 2019
(Reuters) – Morgan Stanley will pay $150 million to settle charges it concealed the risk of mortgage-backed securities that were sold to two large California pension funds, the state’s attorney general Xavier Becerra announced on Thursday.
The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) will receive $122 million from the settlement, while the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) will receive $8 million. The remainder will go to Becerra’s office.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
FILE PHOTO: The logo of commodities trader Glencore is pictured in front of the company's headquarters in Baar, Switzerland, July 18, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
April 25, 2019
(Reuters) – Glencore Plc said on Thursday that the U.S Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is investigating whether the miner and its units may have violated certain regulations through “corrupt practices”.
The company said the investigations are at an early stage and have a similar scope in terms of subject matter as a current investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Swiss-based Glencore said last July it received a subpoena from the DoJ requesting documents and records on compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and money-laundering statutes.
The documents related to the company’s business in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Venezuela and Nigeria.
Glencore said it will cooperate with the CFTC, but declined to comment beyond the statement.
The company added that its response will be managed by its investigations committee, which was set up following the DoJ subpoena.
(Reporting by Justin George Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Sriraj Kalluvila)
Former Obama adviser on Biden: He’s ‘the candidate that can best beat both Bernie Sanders and President Trump’
Robert Wolf, former economic adviser to President Obama, said former Vice President Joe Biden, who officially announced his 2020 bid Thursday morning, has “really been resonating the last few weeks because he looks like he’s the most powerful candidate to go against President Trump.”
Wolf, a Fox News contributor, made the statement on “Fox & Friends” 90 minutes after Biden officially announced his 2020 presidential bid.
He announced his run in an online video Thursday, after weeks of speculation and anticipation, making him the 20th Democrat fighting for the Oval Office.
Asked about Biden’s announcement video, Wolf said, “I thought it was powerful and compassionate. I think that, listen, in this polarizing environment it's an incredible contrast to
“The truth is, I think that he’s saying we have to bring people together and this is not the right way. And I'm going to show you the right way and I think it's very powerful.”
Wolf, who said he has known Biden for more than a decade, added, “I think there’s a reason his polls, the Monmouth (University) Poll came out where he was top in the Democratic field, (a) poll this morning came out where he was plus 8 over Trump, I know polls mean nothing at this point, but he’s really been resonating the last few weeks because he looks like he’s the most powerful candidate to go against President Trump.”
A former senator from Delaware, Biden, who also served as vice president for two terms under Barack Obama, has emerged as a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination — topping the polls alongside self-proclaimed Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Biden’s announcement on Thursday marks the beginning of his third campaign for the White House.
Wolf acknowledged Biden’s name recognition will prove to be an asset for his campaign.
“I think there’s no question early on name recognition matters. We know at this point in 2008 or 2007 Rudy Giuliani was beating Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama became president. So as the guy that was backing Obama when he was at 1 percent, I know many things can change,” Wolf said.
“I would say it's a little different (now), I would say name recognition is actually more important today because when there is a field of 20, you know, you’re going to have a lot of people get 10 to 15 percent. And then all of a sudden name recognition on stage doesn't cost you money to introduce yourself and there’s going to be a fight for money.”
Even Biden’s entry into the crowded Democratic primary field isn’t enough to move former President Barack Obama off the sidelines. Obama's team released a statement praising Biden on Thursday but didn’t offer an explicit endorsement.
“Former presidents never endorse. Maybe the only one who did was President Bush (who) endorsed his brother. But they just don't endorse. They sit on the sidelines and they wait for the primary to actually take place. They don't like to put their finger on the scale so it's not a surprise,” said Wolf on Thursday.
He added, “I have been with him (Obama) for over a decade. I mean, their love for each other is real.”
Wolf said that he thinks Obama would “love” to see Biden as president, adding, “You don't think that President Obama wants Joe or any of the field to beat President Trump?”
He also weighed in on if Biden can take on Sanders.
“There’s no question you cannot discount Bernie Sanders. You would say today, until Joe Biden announced, he was absolutely the frontrunner. He had the most money. He has the most grassroots. He’s been running for four years. And he has a lane that really no one’s matching yet, the populist left,” said Wolf.
“That being said, within the party, we're not sure if he just has the highest floor at 20 percent and does he have possibly a ceiling at 30 percent? We don't know.”
He added, “It's clear that one of the reasons, I think, the polls for Vice President Biden have gone up, is he’s viewed as the candidate that can best beat both Bernie Sanders and President Trump and I think there’s a lot of Democrats that want to see that.”
Source: Fox News Politics
AOC wades into discussion on Bernie’s controversial felon voting plan, after her chief of staff endorsed it
In a series of tweets Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez said that in order to avoid looking "utterly out of touch," people should question whether a non-violent criminal should lose the right to vote.
Her comments furthered an already brewing debate that Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., started when he indicated that he would support all felons — including sexual assaulters and murderers like Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — receiving the right to vote.
For Ocasio-Cortez, critics should have been more concerned about a "nonviolent person stopped [with] a dime bag," a reference to a small bag of illicit drugs.
She went on to suggest the U.S. prison system was unjust, pointing to slavery and international incarceration rates.
The New York Congresswoman portrayed mass incarceration as ultimately stemming from slavery in the United States.
"Black Americans & [people of color] are far more likely to be convicted + sentenced longer than White Americans for similar crimes," she tweeted.
Apparently annoyed by the responses on Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez knocked pundits whom she felt were like "1st graders" commenting on her tweets.
"GOP already bad-faith attacking 'nonviolent offenses.' Clearly if you are looking at CONTEXT CLUES in my thread & limits of 280 chars you know I’m referring to nonviolent drug offenses," she tweeted.
Her chief of staff also received backlash after his Wednesday tweet which implied prisoners were "most affected by unjust laws."
"What's the reason NOT to let incarcerated people vote?" he asked. "Shouldn't the people most affected by unjust laws have some say in electing people to change them?"
Although Sanders, somewhat of a progressive icon, has endorsed voting rights for prisoners, other 2020 hopefuls seemed more hesitant. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who was ranked among the top three candidates in a poll this month, said that while he supported restoring felons' voting rights, he didn't think they should receive that right while incarcerated.
Source: Fox News Politics
"GOP: Let's pose our older male members next to cardboard cutouts of young female legislators," she tweeted. Her tweet included a post from the Republican Party of Kentucky. However, the politician pictured was Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth, Ky., not a Republican as she claimed.
Ocasio-Cortez later deleted the tweet but not before critics pointed out the gaffe on Twitter.
"It literally says in the tweet that she is quoting that Yarmuth is a Democrat," writer Ryan Saavedra tweeted.
"1st grade readers are in fact the worst," Matt Whitlock, a senior advisor to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, tweeted. He was knocking Ocasio-Cortez for one of her earlier tweets in which she called pundits "first graders" for apparently misinterpreting her comments on voting rights for prisoners.
This wasn't the first time the freshman congresswoman appeared to mix up her political parties. While appearing in a video with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., she enthusiastically declared that she would turn a Kansas house seat "red" — the color often representing the Republican Party.
In 2018, she also faced criticism after she suggested that the government could pay for a large portion of Medicare-for-all by transferring "$21 trillion" in Pentagon "financial transactions" — a claim that fact checkers disputed.
Ocasio-Cortez has been portrayed as one of the leaders of the progressive wing in the Democratic Party. She, along with Sanders, has received intense criticism for policy proposals like the "Green New Deal."
Source: Fox News Politics
Community members look on after a body was recovered from under the mud after heavy rains caused by flooding in Marianhill near Durban, South Africa, April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Rogan Ward
April 25, 2019
By Rogan Ward
DURBAN/JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – More than 70 people have been killed in South Africa after torrential rains along the eastern coast, officials said on Thursday, and rescuers were still recovering bodies.
KwaZulu-Natal province, where most of the deaths occurred after the downpours led to flooding and mudslides, has heavy rain every year, but they rarely kill so many people in such a short space of time.
Some of the worst-hit areas were informal settlements in KwaZulu-Natal, where people live in flimsy houses without proper foundations or drainage systems.
Sixty-seven people had died in KwaZulu-Natal, and six more in neighboring Eastern Cape province, authorities said.
“I don’t recall that in history,” said Lennox Mabaso, a spokesman for KwaZulu-Natal’s cooperative governance department.
A Reuters reporter saw rescuers come to collect the body of a woman who had been dug out of the mud by locals.
The woman had been on her way to work, despite her daughter and grandchild protesting that she should stay indoors, when she and the two children were swept away by floodwaters, her sister told Reuters.
While the children were rescued, they could not find their mother. “It became clear she was dead,” the sister said.
Residents recounted on Wednesday how floodwaters and mudslides crashed through houses, many with people inside, and destroyed roads and other infrastructure.
The rains carved chunks out of hills and roads in the region, with cars, tin roofs and other rubble swept into the deep muddy trenches left behind.
In other places, people buried their dead on muddy hillsides churned up by the storm, marking their resting place with simple wooden crosses.
Over 100 millimeters of rain was recorded as falling at numerous stations within the area between Monday morning and Tuesday, said Vanetia Phakula, a senior forecaster at the South African Weather Service.
Phakula said the high death toll could instead be explained by the flooding and mudslides occurring in more highly populated areas. “Hence the death toll is what it is today,” she said.
While more rain was expected on Thursday it was not expected to be heavy, and the service was forecasting dry weather in most areas by Friday, she added.
(Additional reporting by Emma Rumney and Onke Ngcuka in Johannesburg; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Dow Jones Industrial Average stock market index listed company Goldman Sachs (GS) is seen on the clothing of a trader working at the Goldman Sachs stall on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, United States April 16, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
April 25, 2019
By Elizabeth Dilts
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs Group Inc is expanding a financial advisory service for top executives to target millions of other affluent employees at some of the biggest U.S. companies, as it seeks to build its retail and wealth management businesses.
Goldman’s Ayco unit provides high-end tax and wealth advice to top executives at some 400 companies, including 60 Fortune 100 companies. According to the bank’s estimates these firms employ at least 8 million people and Goldman now wants them as clients, too.
Goldman began rolling out a new Ayco personal finance website for rank-and-file workers in October and has so far signed up 70 companies. By the end of 2019, the bank hopes to have signed up around 100 companies, which employ 2 million employees, Larry Restieri, the unit’s chief executive, said in an interview this month.
In recent weeks, it has also started pitching high-yield savings accounts and personal loans from its online bank Marcus through the Ayco website, Restieri added.
The rollout is the latest effort of the Wall Street trading and advisory firm to reposition itself as a traditional bank.
Goldman seeks to reach a wider customer base. Its trading business has been shrinking. In the first quarter, the bank’s corporate clients helped it grow mergers and acquisitions revenue but overall revenue slumped.
Chief Executive David Solomon must deliver on a target of $5 billion in new annual revenue by 2020 or risk getting squeezed by rival behemoths like JPMorgan Chase & Co and Bank of America Corp . [https://tmsnrt.rs/2H81K9a]
The bank took its first step toward that goal with the creation of Marcus in 2016. In March, Goldman announced a co-branded credit card with Apple Inc, which will connect it to hundreds of millions of iPhone users.
Expanding Ayco is the next step into the $9 trillion U.S. mass affluent customer market and offers the bank an opportunity to gain new clients cheaply.
The primary cost to the bank – developing the online platform – will be offset by fees companies will pay to offer the service to their workers, Goldman executives said.
Some investors fret Goldman is expanding into an area where it has little experience. They worry the bank is making $40,000 personal loans and extending credit card debt to iPhone users when the economy is showing signs of slowing.
Goldman thinks otherwise. Executives there say the Ayco expansion is part of a bigger plan, culminating with the launch of a retail wealth management offering later this year.
Restieri said it is too early to put numbers on the contribution the expanded Ayco could make toward Goldman’s $5 billion goal.
In November, the bank said that it was halfway toward meeting that target and that Ayco, along with private wealth management and asset management, had so far contributed $400 million.
Ayco’s website, called Financial Wellness, starts with an online questionnaire. Employees of corporate clients such as Google’s parent Alphabet Inc answer questions like, “Do you generally live within your means?” and “Do you have an emergency fund?”
After workers answer questions about their savings, credit card debt, student loans and other finances, Ayco offers what it calls solutions such as Marcus savings accounts, personal loans or products from other financial institutions.
Adoption rates are a question. One company that offered a financial incentive got as much as 60 percent of its employees to use Financial Wellness. Others have seen lower pick-up rates.
But as Ayco rolls out its mass-market offering, Restieri thinks it will benefit from brand cachet of having already served the bosses.
“When this offering is presented to employees, the top C-suite of those companies would have already been using us for 10-15 years,” Restieri said.
(Reporting By Elizabeth Dilts; editing by Neal Templin and Paritosh Bansal)
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FILE PHOTO: 2017 Kids Choice Sport Awards – Show – Los Angeles, California, U.S., 13/07/2017 – NFL football player Odell Beckham Jr. accepts the Hands of Gold Award. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
April 24, 2019
Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters Tuesday that the team has yet to finalize its plans for the top overall pick in the draft, which starts Thursday.
“We’re still working through it,” Kingsbury said after his team’s first practice of the year at a voluntary minicamp. “I wouldn’t say the hay is in the barn.”
Quarterback Josh Rosen, who is widely believed to be on the trade block as the Cardinals consider Kyler Murray with the top pick, has been a full participant during the offseason program despite rampant rumors. Kingsbury said he “couldn’t be more impressed” with Rosen, whom the Cardinals traded up to draft 10th overall last year.
–Odell Beckham Jr. is happy as with the Cleveland Browns and glad to have left behind the New York Giants, according to a Twitter rant, seemingly set off by a user who called him a “cancer” with the Giants.
“Ask any one of my teammates of who I was as a teammates and a man and a person…. yes I’m cancer to a place that’s ok wit losing because I want to win that BADDD. Ur absolutely correct !” wrote Beckham, who was traded by the Giants in March, one season into a five-year, $95 million contract extension he signed last August.
–Philadelphia defensive end Chris Long told USA Today he is uncertain about whether he will return for a 12th NFL season in 2019.
“From the looks of things they’re going to make it hard for me in my favorite city,” Long said.
After seeing media speculation that the Eagles have asked him to take a pay cut, Long responded on Twitter, indicating his decision is related to how much playing time the team can offer him.
–The Seattle Seahawks agreed to trade franchise-tagged defensive end Frank Clark to the Kansas City Chiefs for a 2019 first-round pick, a 2020 second-round pick and a swap of 2019 third-round picks, according to multiple reports.
Clark, who must pass a physical for the trade to become official, has also agreed in principle with the Chiefs on a five-year, $105.5 million contract with $63.5 million guaranteed, according to multiple reports.
–Although Josh Gordon is still suspended indefinitely by the NFL, the wide receiver signed his restricted free agent tender with New England, according to multiple media reports.
By signing the contract tender, Gordon ensures that if he becomes eligible to play at any point this coming season, it will be with the Patriots. The 28-year-old is set to earn up to $2,025,000 on the one-year deal, but only if he plays all 16 games.
–The Pittsburgh Steelers are working to finalize a contract extension with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger before the draft begins Thursday, ESPN reported.
According to the report, the sides have been in discussions since the regular season ended and are making progress.
–Veteran kicker Robbie Gould informed the San Francisco 49ers he won’t negotiate a long-term contract with the team and wants to be traded, he told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Gould’s agent, Brian Mackler, said that if Gould decides to play with the 49ers this fall, he would hold out throughout training camp and report just before the season opens on Sept. 8. San Francisco put the franchise tag on Gould in February.
–The Los Angeles Rams exercised quarterback Jared Goff’s fifth-year option, putting him under contract through 2020.
The option, which is guaranteed only for injury, will pay Goff an estimated $22.8 million. He is set to make $4.3 million in base salary in 2019, part of a rookie contract worth $27.9 million over the first four seasons.
–The Los Angeles Chargers picked up the fifth-year option on defensive end Joey Bosa, according to multiple reports.
Bosa, 23, was the Chargers’ first-round pick — No. 3 overall — in the 2016 draft.
–The Baltimore Ravens exercised left tackle Ronnie Stanley’s fifth-year option, putting him under contract through 2020.
The option, which is guaranteed for injury only, will be worth around $13 million in 2020. Stanley’s rookie contract was worth $13.1 million over the first four seasons, including a $3.2 million salary for 2019.
–Longtime Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart signed a one-day contract to retire as a member of his old team, ending an 11-year NFL career.
“Thank you @panthers for 10 amazing seasons and bringing me to this place that I now call home,” Stewart said, according to the team’s Twitter account. “Keep Pounding!!!”
–Two videos that allegedly show New England owner Robert Kraft participating in illegal acts at Florida massage parlor will not be released to the public yet.
Palm Beach County Judge Leonard Hanser agreed with a request made by Kraft’s defense team to keep the videos sealed, at least for now. In his decision, he wrote “making these images public, at this time, seriously jeopardizes Defendant’s fundamental right to a fair and impartial jury.”
–Field Level Media
Attorney General William Barr is set to hold a news conference Thursday morning where he will discuss the long-awaited release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.
Barr will be joined by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at 9:30 a.m. where they are expected to discuss the release of the report, officials said.
A summary of the report released by Barr last month stated that the special counsel found no proof of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election.
This is a developing story; check back for updates.
Source: Fox News Politics
FILE PHOTO: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attends a news conference following the closing session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
April 13, 2019
By Alexandra Harney
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China is confident that it will meet its 2019 economic growth target of six percent to 6.5 percent, premier Li Keqiang said on Friday.
Speaking at a summit between China and Central and Eastern European countries in the Croatian city of Dubrovnik, Li listed several positive indicators of economic activity and pledged to continue policies to help support growth.
Li said China would maintain the direction of its macroeconomic policies but would not move toward quantitative easing or flood the economy with bank bills.
A Reuters poll on Friday showed China’s economic growth is expected to slow to a near 30-year low of 6.2 percent this year, as sluggish demand at home and abroad weigh on activity despite a flurry of policy support measures.
(Reporting by Alexandra Harney; Additional reporting by Shanghai newsroom; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
FILE PHOTO: Amazon.com’s logo is seen at Amazon Japan’s office building in Tokyo, Japan, August 8, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo
April 12, 2019
TOKYO (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc’s Japanese unit raised the membership fee for its Prime service by 26 percent on Friday, the first such hike since it was launched in the country 11 years ago.
The new annual Prime membership fee is 4,900 yen ($43.86) versus 3,900 yen previously, Amazon said in a statement. The e-commerce giant did not provide a reason, but pointed to the growing number of services available to members.
Prime membership fees in Japan are far below the $119 annual fee in the United States, helping attract Japan’s thrifty consumers. The e-commerce giant has grown rapidly in Japan, exerting pressure on home-grown players like Rakuten.
While some companies are moving to hike prices in low inflation Japan due to rising labor and shipping costs, they risk being shunned by frugal consumers.
(Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Himani Sarkar)
Democratic leaders in Congress said on Thursday they would seek President Donald Trump’s support in coming weeks for legislation to invest up to $2 trillion to rebuild U.S. infrastructure, including roads, bridges and schools.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said at separate news conferences they would try to revive an effort that sputtered early in Trump’s presidency for major investments in aging public works.
The White House said Trump had spoken recently with Pelosi and “agreed to meet soon to discuss working together on infrastructure,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said.
Democrats have been seeking a much larger investment than Trump and fellow Republicans in Congress have suggested.
“Has to be at least $1 trillion, I’d like it to be closer to $2 trillion,” Pelosi told reporters at a House Democratic meeting in Leesburg, Virginia. She said there would be discussions on how such an amount could be financed.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, told reporters later on Thursday that the financing issue was a major obstacle.
“I’m all for taking it (infrastructure legislation) up once the president and Democrats, everybody says: ‘OK, here’s how we’re going to pay for it.’ As soon as that magically appears, I think we have a way forward,” McConnell said.
Schumer, speaking to reporters outside the U.S. Senate, said a meeting would occur within the next several weeks.
“The bottom line is this: If they’re not going to put real money and have real labor and environmental protections, we’re not going to get anywhere,” Schumer warned.
Past bipartisan efforts by Democrats and Trump have brought mixed results. A criminal justice bill was enacted, but an immigration reform effort was a dismal failure, as were border security talks.
“The president calls people and says: ‘Why don’t we do something?’ but then he’s unwilling to really do anything beyond his hard-right base and nothing gets done,” Schumer complained.
But as Republicans and Democrats gear up for the 2020 presidential and congressional elections, they could be eager to show voters accomplishments.
Last month, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao urged Congress to act promptly.
Deere said: “The president wants a bipartisan infrastructure package that rebuilds crumbling infrastructure, invests in the projects and industries of tomorrow, and promotes permitting efficiency.”
Pelosi was dismissive of Trump’s plan unveiled in February 2017 designed to encourage spending on improvements by states, localities and private investors. Trump had asked Congress to authorize $200 billion over 10 years to spur a projected $1.5 trillion in projects, but it had no new direct federal spending and never got a vote in Congress.
“We have to put aside any negative attitudes. We are going there with a positive attitude: How much do you want to invest? How do we prioritize, because we want to do school construction, we want to do public housing, there are other things too,” Pelosi said.
Source: NewsMax America