These Burgers Are Better for the Planet, but You’d Never Know It

As the world’s population heads toward 10 billion by midcentury, experts are wrestling with how to feed the world without wrecking the planet. It’s not easy to find foods with lower environmental impact that still taste as good as the ones they are intended to replace. But chefs and environmentalists are both cheering one new menu item: the mushroom-blended burger. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

NY’s Immigrant Taxi Drivers Despair as Taxi Industry Slumps

A financially distraught yellow cab driver from Romania recently hanged himself in his New York garage, marking the fourth suicide among city taxi drivers in as many months. In the tragedy’s aftermath, members of New York’s taxicab drivers union are renewing their calls for a cap on the number of app-based for-hire vehicles, such as Uber and Lyft, which they say are driving workers of a once-thriving industry into the ground. VOA’s Ramon Taylor reports.

Could Enemies Target Undersea Cables That Link the World?

Russian ships are skulking around underwater communications cables, causing the U.S. and its allies to worry the Kremlin might be taking information warfare to new depths.

Is Moscow interested in cutting or tapping the cables? Does it want the West to worry it might? Is there a more innocent explanation? Unsurprisingly, Russia isn’t saying.

But whatever Moscow’s intentions, U.S. and Western officials are increasingly troubled by their rival’s interest in the 400 fiber-optic cables that carry most of world’s calls, emails and texts, as well as $10 trillion worth of daily financial transactions.

“We’ve seen activity in the Russian navy, and particularly undersea in their submarine activity, that we haven’t seen since the ’80s,” General Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of the U.S. European Command, told Congress this month.

Without undersea cables, a bank in Asian countries couldn’t send money to Saudi Arabia to pay for oil. U.S. military leaders would struggle to communicate with troops fighting extremists in Afghanistan and the Middle East. A student in Europe wouldn’t be able to Skype his parents in the United States.

Small passageways

All this information is transmitted along tiny glass fibers encased in undersea cables that, in some cases, are little bigger than a garden hose. All told, there are 620,000 miles of fiber-optic cable running under the sea, enough to loop around Earth nearly 25 times.

Most lines are owned by private telecommunications companies, including giants like Google and Microsoft. Their locations are easily identified on public maps, with swirling lines that look like spaghetti. While cutting one cable might have limited impact, severing several simultaneously or at choke points could cause a major outage.

The Russians “are doing their homework and, in the event of a crisis or conflict with them, they might do rotten things to us,” said Michael Kofman, a Russian military expert at nonprofit research group CNA Corp.

It’s not Moscow’s warships and submarines that are making NATO and U.S. officials uneasy. It’s Russia’s Main Directorate of Deep Sea Research, whose specialized surface ships, submarines, underwater drones and minisubs conduct reconnaissance, underwater salvage and other work.

One ship run by the directorate is the Yantar. It’s a modest, 354-foot oceanographic vessel that holds a crew of about 60. It most recently was off South America’s coast helping Argentina search for a lost submarine.

Parlamentskaya Gazeta, the Russian parliament’s publication, last October said the Yantar has equipment “designed for deep-sea tracking” and “connecting to top-secret communication cables.” The publication said that in September 2015, the Yantar was near Kings Bay, Georgia, home to a U.S. submarine base, “collecting information about the equipment on American submarines, including underwater sensors and the unified [U.S. military] information network.” Rossiya, a Russian state TV network, has said the Yantar not only can connect to top-secret cables but also can cut them and “jam underwater sensors with a special system.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

Preparing for sabotage

There is no hard evidence that the ship is engaged in nefarious activity, said Steffan Watkins, an information technology security consultant in Canada tracking the ship. But he wonders what the ship is doing when it’s stopped over critical cables or when its Automatic Identification System tracking transponder isn’t on.

Of the Yantar’s crew, he said: “I don’t think these are the actual guys who are doing any sabotage. I think they’re laying the groundwork for future operations.”

Members of Congress are wondering, too. 

Representative Joe Courtney, a Connecticut Democrat on a House subcommittee on sea power, said of the Russians, “The mere fact that they are clearly tracking the cables and prowling around the cables shows that they are doing something.”

Democratic Senator Gary Peters of Michigan, an Armed Services Committee member, said Moscow’s goal appears to be to “disrupt the normal channels of communication and create an environment of misinformation and distrust.”

The Yantar’s movements have previously raised eyebrows.

On October 18, 2016, a Syrian telecom company ordered emergency maintenance to repair a cable in the Mediterranean that provides internet connectivity to several countries, including Syria, Libya and Lebanon. The Yantar arrived in the area the day before the four-day maintenance began. It left two days before the maintenance ended. It’s unknown what work it did while there.

Watkins described another episode on November 5, 2016, when a submarine cable linking Persian Gulf nations experienced outages in Iran. Hours later, the Yantar left Oman and headed to an area about 60 miles west of the Iranian port city of Bushehr, where the cable runs ashore. Connectivity was restored just hours before the Yantar arrived on November 9. The boat stayed stationary over the site for several more days.

Undersea cables have been targets before.

At the beginning of World War I, Britain cut a handful of German underwater communications cables and tapped the rerouted traffic for intelligence. In the Cold War, the U.S. Navy sent American divers deep into the Sea of Okhotsk off the Russian coast to install a device to record Soviet communications, hoping to learn more about the U.S.S.R.’s submarine-launched nuclear capability.

Eavesdropping by spies

More recently, British and American intelligence agencies have eavesdropped on fiber-optic cables, according to documents released by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor.

In 2007, Vietnamese authorities confiscated ships carrying miles of fiber-optic cable that thieves salvaged from the sea for profit. The heist disrupted service for several months. And in 2013, Egyptian officials arrested three scuba divers off Alexandria for attempting to cut a cable stretching from France to Singapore. Five years on, questions remain about the attack on a cable responsible for about a third of all internet traffic between Egypt and Europe.

Despite the relatively few publicly known incidents of sabotage, most outages are due to accidents.

Two hundred or so cable-related outages take place each year. Most occur when ship anchors snap cables or commercial fishing equipment snags the lines. Others break during tsunamis, earthquakes and other natural disasters.

But even accidental cuts can harm U.S. military operations. 

In 2008 in Iraq, unmanned U.S. surveillance flights nearly screeched to a halt one day at Balad Air Base, not because of enemy mortar attacks or dusty winds. An anchor had snagged a cable hundreds of miles away from the base, situated in the “Sunni Triangle” northwest of Baghdad.

The severed cable had linked controllers based in the United States with unmanned aircraft flying intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions for coalition forces in the skies over Iraq, said retired Air Force Colonel Dave Lujan of Hampton, Virginia.

“Say you’re operating a remote-controlled car and all of a sudden you can’t control it,” said Lujan, who was deputy commander of the 332nd Expeditionary Operations Group at the base when the little-publicized outage lasted for two to three days. “That’s a big impact,” he said, describing how U.S. pilots had to fly the missions instead.

Facebook ‘Ugly Truth’ Memo Triggers New Firestorm Over Ethics

Was a leaked internal Facebook memo aimed at justifying the social network’s growth-at-any-cost strategy? Or simply a way to open debate on difficult questions over new technologies?

The extraordinarily blunt memo by a high-ranking executive — leaked this week and quickly repudiated by the author and by Facebook — warned that the social network’s goal of connecting the world might have negative consequences, but that these were outweighed by the positives.

“Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies,” the 2016 memo by top executive Andrew “Boz” Bosworth said. “Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.”

While Bosworth and Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said the memo was only a way to provoke debate, it created a new firestorm for the social network mired in controversy over the hijacking of personal data by a political consulting firm linked to Donald Trump.

David Carroll, a professor of media design at the New School Parsons, tweeted that the memo highlighted a “reckless hubristic attitude” by the world’s biggest social network.

“What is so striking is that an executive chose to have this conversation on a Facebook wall,” said Jennifer Grygiel, a Syracuse University professor who studies social networks. “He showed poor judgment and poor business communication skills. It speaks to Facebook’s culture.”

Grygiel said these kinds of issues require “thoughtful discussion” and should take place within a context of protecting users. “When these companies build new products and services, their job is to evaluate the risks, and not just know about them, but ensure public safety.”

Bosworth, considered part of chief executive Zuckerberg’s inner circle, wrote: “The ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect more people more often is ‘de facto’ good.”

On Thursday, he said he merely wanted to open a discussion and added that “I don’t agree with the post today and I didn’t agree with it even when I wrote it.”

Zuckerberg responded that he and many others at Facebook “strongly disagreed” with the points raised.

‘Offloading’ ethical questions

Jim Malazita, a professor of science and technology studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, said it was not surprising to see the memo in an industry whose work culture is highly compartmentalized.

Malazita said the memo frames the discussion with the assumption that technology and connecting people is always positive.

“By the assumptions built into that framework they are already shutting down a whole bunch of conversations,” he said.

Malazita added that most people who learn computer science are taught to make these technologies work as well as possible, while “offloading” the question of moral responsibility.

“It’s not that they don’t care, but even when they care about the social impact, there’s a limit to how much they practice that care.”

Joshua Benton, director of Harvard University’s Nieman Journalism Lab, said it may be too easy to blame Facebook for misuse of the platform.

“I’m rarely in a position to defend Facebook,” he said, but the view that a technology is worth spreading even though some people will use it for terrible ends “is something you could have believed about the telegraph, the telephone, email, SMS, the iPhone, etc,” Benton tweeted.

Doing the right thing

Patrick Lin, director of the ethics and emerging sciences group at California Polytechnic State University, said he sees “no evidence that Facebook’s culture is unethical, though just one senior executive in the right place can poison the well.”

“I’d guess that most Facebook employees want to do the right thing and are increasingly uncomfortable with how the proverbial sausage is made,” Lin added.

Copies of internal responses at Facebook published by The Verge website showed many employees were angry or upset over the Bosworth memo but that some defended the executive.

Others said the leaks may suggest Facebook is being targeted by spies or “bad actors” trying to embarrass the company.

South Sudan Dispute With Mobile Firm Disrupts Service

Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese remained without mobile phone service Friday, as network operator Vivacell continued a standoff with the government over a licensing dispute.

The government cut the network’s signal to its roughly 900,000 subscribers just after midnight Tuesday, alleging that Vivacell owed tens of millions of dollars in licensing fees.

The government’s information minister, Michael Makuei, told VOA earlier this week that Vivacell previously had been exempted from taxes and licensing fees. “We want them to pay a sum of up to $66 million for their license, and up to now they are dragging their feet,” he said.

The licensing fee dispute underscores the mounting financial pressures facing the government in a country ravaged by civil war since late 2013.

Ruling party holds Vivacell stake

Pagan Amum – the former secretary general of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), the country’s ruling party – said Vivacell already pays for a valid license it has held for years. “There is no way Vivacell can be required to pay for another license,” he told VOA’s “South Sudan in Focus” radio program on Thursday.

Amum said that, as secretary general, he had helped negotiate the original deal with Lebanon’s Fattouch Investment Group – Vivacell’s majority owner – giving the SPLM party a minority share in the telecom firm. 

Vivacell has operated in South Sudan since 2008 under a license issued to the SPLM, Amum said. He added that, since 2012, the ruling SPLM has received $100,000 a month from Vivacell for licensing fees.

Vivacell officials went to Makuei’s office earlier this week in an attempt to negotiate, but he refused a meeting, the firm’s managing director, Jesus Antonio Ortiz Olivo, told Reuters on Wednesday. 

Makuei, in media interviews this week, has expressed a desire “to reorganize the telecommunications sector.” 

Low cellphone penetration rate

Mobile phone subscription rates have been falling in South Sudan, and telecom-sector operators “are placing themselves in survival mode and are hoping for a political settlement and a return to some degree of social stability,” the telecommunications research site BuddeComm reported in February.

BuddeCom said South Sudan has one of Africa’s lowest rates of cellphone penetration, at 21 percent, noting that recovery could bring “potentially many years of strong growth” to the sector.

South Sudan’s regulatory Communications Authority estimates the country’s entire telecom market – also served by South Africa’s MTN and Kuwait’s Zain – has fewer than 3 million subscribers, according to Reuters.

Complications for customers, clients

On Wednesday in the capital city, Juba, long lines formed at mobile phone stores where people waited to buy new subscriber identification module (SIM) cards from Vivacell competitors.

Vivacell subscriber Ever Fanusto said the sudden shutdown cut her off from friends and relatives, including those living overseas.

“I used to call my elder brother who is in America and now we have been disconnected with him,” Fanusto said. She added that it would be a challenge to retrieve her contacts’ information and load it onto a new SIM card.

In a notice published Wednesday, Vivacell informed its subscribers that the company was working with national authorities to resolve the matter and that it hoped to resume business soon in South Sudan. Otherwise, the company said it would set up “a clear mechanism” for reimbursing dealers, retailers and agents for their SIM card stocks.

Пенсійна реформа вивела з тіні 400 тисяч українців – міністр

Близько 400 тисяч українців завдяки пенсійній реформі додалися до числа платників єдиного соціального внеску (ЄСВ). Про це заявив міністр соціальної політики Андрій Рева в програмі «Свобода в деталях» (спільний проект Радіо Свобода та Радіо НВ), повна версія якої вийде на Радіо НВ 1 квітня о 19:04.

«Після проведеної реформи з’явилося близько 400 тисяч нових платників єдиного соціального внеску, які почали платити. Зараз питання, яке ставлять люди, коли влаштовуються на роботу – навіть не «яка заробітна плата?», а «чи буду я отримувати її легально?» Люди починають розуміти, що це важлива річ», – вказав міністр.

Він відзначив, що нині в Україні «співвідношення тих, хто платить ЄСВ і тих, хто отримує пенсію один до одного, але якщо ви візьмете працездатне населення, яке б могло платити», то на одного пенсіонера припадає двоє працездатних – «26 мільйонів працездатних людей і 12 мільйонів пенсіонерів».

«З 26 мільйонів офіційно зайнятих 16 мільйонів, ЄСВ платять 12 мільйонів, 4 мільйони абсолютно легально не платять ЄСВ. Далі за методикою МОП врахуємо 1 мільйон 800 тисяч безробітних… Тобто додаємо ще 2 мільйони до 16 і отримуємо 18 мільйонів, а де ще 8 мільйонів? В тіні, за кордоном і так далі», – додав Андрій Рева.

Раніше Радіо Свобода повідомило, що близько 100 тисяч громадян України пенсійного віку не отримують пенсію зараз і не отримуватимуть її надалі.

Amid Flood of Chinese Products, India Wants Fairness

Sampad Yadav, who sells electrical goods in a shop in the business hub of Gurugram on the outskirts of New Delhi, says Chinese goods such as LED lamps are popular with customers. “When people make a price comparison, and want to move towards the cheapest goods, those are usually Chinese products.”


As in many other countries, Chinese products such as lamps, electronics, smartphones and engineering goods from the manufacturing giant have flooded Indian markets.


However India has long fretted that areas in which it is strong such as generic drugs and Information Technology services, which make up some of its main exports to Western markets, remain shut out of China. That has made it difficult to bridge a ballooning trade deficit of about $50 billion between the two countries.


But there is optimism this could change following a meeting this week between the commerce ministers of the two countries in New Delhi.


“The Chinese side have agreed to work on the issue, prepare a road map to bring the trade to balanced level over a period of time,” Indian Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu said after discussions with his Chinese counterpart, Zhong Shan.


Trade experts hope the growing tensions on trade issues between the United States and China will prompt Beijing to open up its markets more to Indian exports. “I think China is definitely under pressure now, looking into the kind of initiation which has happened against China,” says Ajay Sahai, who heads the Federation of Indian Exports Organization.


The meeting between the Indian and Chinese commerce ministers this week came amid efforts to deescalate tensions between the Asian neighbors following a period of rocky ties and a tense 70-day face-off between their troops in the Himalayas last year.

Despite a long-lingering boundary dispute and an often-fraught diplomatic relationship, trade ties between the Asian giants have gained significant momentum and China is now India’s largest trading partner. Bilateral trade in 2017 topped $80 billion rising by more than 20 percent over the previous yea.


But worryingly for New Delhi, the trade deficit remains high despite a marginal growth in Indian exports – they add up to about $16 billion versus Chinese imports into India of about $68 billion.


Market access a key issue

India exports mainly raw materials like iron ore, copper and cotton yarn to China. “In whatever value added exports where we are competitive, unfortunately the market is not open for us,” says Sahai.


However China has promised to give greater market access to Indian goods, particularly pharmaceuticals and agricultural goods such as rice, as well as service exports, according to the Indian commerce minister. “They have decided to work in a way that will address security issues from their side as well as introduce Indian companies to those who can buy these products in China,” says Prabhu.


New Delhi, which is trying to ramp up domestic manufacturing, is also urging China to manufacture more goods exported to India within the country.

Whether the promised actions translate into concrete outcomes remains to be seen. But exporters are hopeful. Sahai points out that China has invited Indian traders to what is being billed as the country’s first importers fair to be held in Shanghai later this year – it is being showcased as a measure to further open up China’s market.


The positive tenor of talks between the two countries comes days after U.S. President Donald Trump announced plans to impose tariffs on Chinese imports valued at $60 billion.


New Delhi could also face U.S. ire on trade issues – although its exports to the United States are comparatively small, it has a high trade deficit in its favor and Washington has often complained of protectionist barriers in India. In February, Trump called out India for imposing higher duties on Harley-Davidson motorcycles than the U.S. does on Indian motorbikes.


Amid growing fears that global trade faces uncertain times, analysts have called on countries like India to focus on increasing trade within the region.   


India and China also said they will strengthen cooperation in the World Trade Organization and other multilateral and regional frameworks to maintain their common interests.

Гривня зміцнилася на міжбанку: долар подешевшав більш як на 20 копійок

Українська національна валюта 30 березня посилила свої позиції на міжбанківському валютному ринку.

Торги розпочалися зі зростання пропозиції долара за рахунок обов’язкових продажів – 30 березня є останнім у першому кварталі днем для таких операцій експортерів, повідомляє сайт «Мінфін». Натомість покупці були менш активними, оскільки торги відбувалися в режимі tomorrow – зарахування валюти відбудеться лише наступного тижня через великодні святкування у США.

Національний банк України з метою не допустити надмірних коливань вийшов із «запитом найкращого курсу» і викупив частину долара за ціною 26,285 гривні. «На 13:00 зареєстровано 396 угод на суму 280,74 мільйона доларів по середньозваженому курсу 26,3074», – вказують експерти.

29 березня Національний банк України вперше з 5 березня встановив курс гривні до долара США на рівні понад 26 гривень 50 копійок за одиницю американської валюти. Офіційний курс на 30 березня становить 26 гривень 54 копійки за долар.

Vietnam Stands to See Modest Wins if China, U.S. Start Trade War

A wider Sino-U.S. trade dispute would help export-reliant Vietnam compete against Chinese companies but put the country at risk of any global fallout, analysts say.

The numerous exporters in Vietnam that ship manufactured goods to the United States would save money compared with Chinese peers if not subject to American tariffs, said Dustin Daugherty, senior associate with business consultancy Dezan Shira & Associates in Ho Chi Minh City.

The U.S. government said this month it would develop a list of tariffs on up to $60 billion in Chinese imports. China has threatened to impose its own in response.

“Let’s say (the United States) went the more traditional route, tensions kept escalating and more tariffs are slapped on Chinese products,” Daugherty said. “In that case Vietnam’s export sector definitely benefits. We’re already seeing the U.S. being very warm to Vietnam and U.S. businesses keen on doing business with Vietnam.”

But Chinese firms hit by tariffs might flood Vietnam with raw materials for local manufacturing, while overall world market volatility caused by a Sino-U.S. trade dispute could hamper the country’s trade, said Carl Thayer, emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

​A tariff-free Vietnam scenario

Vietnamese exporters would save money compared to their Chinese peers if the U.S. government placed tariffs on Chinese firms alone without touching their cross-border supply chains, Daugherty said.

The government of U.S. President Donald Trump calls China unfair in its trade practices, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative says on its website. China enjoys a $375 billion trade surplus with the United States.

Vietnam counts the United States as its top single-country export destination and it shipped $46.484 billion worth of goods to that market last year.

Vietnamese officials have carved out an investment environment since the 1980s that hinges on low costs for manufacturers. American-invested factories such as a Ford Motor plant and an Intel chip factory are among those active in Vietnam today.

Foreign investment contributed to exports worth $155.24 billion in 2017, financial services firm SSI Research in Hanoi says. Vietnam’s economy grew about 7 percent in the first quarter this year, it says.

Attractive investment

Vietnam would be a more attractive investment compared with China under higher U.S. tariffs, analysts say.

Some new investors might be formerly China-based firms hoping to flee the tariffs, said Song Seng Wun, an economist in the private banking unit of CIMB in Singapore.

China itself might offer Vietnam, along with other countries, preferential trade policies or infrastructure help to shore up trade ties, some believe. Stronger trade relations outside the United States would help China offset any tariff damage, Daugherty said.

This week China’s commerce minister pledged to relax trade rules affecting India.

​Specter of a broader trade war

U.S. import tariffs that hit China’s extensive cross-border supply chain would hurt Vietnam as a place that finishes Chinese goods for final export, Thayer said. It’s unclear whether Washington would tax Chinese firms alone or their wider supply networks.

Chinese firms already co-invest with Vietnamese partners, Song said, and supply chains for goods such as consumer electronics can net multiple countries, not just China.

More co-investment might follow if Vietnam can offer shelter from tariffs. But Sino-Vietnamese political tension over a maritime dispute risks giving Vietnamese firms a bad name at home if they work too extensively with Chinese partners.

“I would say there will be all kinds of repercussions and implications just because of the very integrated supply chain in the world these days,” Song said. “Take an Apple phone as an example. Parts from here and there are assembled in China.”

Steel, aluminum tariffs

U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs that took effect last week cover much of the world including China and Vietnam. Vietnam exported 380,000 tons of steel, worth $303 million, to the United States in 2017, domestic news website VnExpress International says.

Chinese firms hit by the range of tariffs being mulled now in Washington might boost sales to Vietnam, Thayer said. Chinese sellers of raw materials for Vietnamese exports could dump goods into Vietnam to keep up their own balance sheets as U.S. tariffs hurt them, he added.

Chinese sellers often have an economy of scale that lets them sell for less in Vietnam than local vendors do. Vietnam counts China as its top trading partner.

An escalation of Sino-U.S. trade tensions could also chill global markets or trade as a whole, some analysts fear. That fallout could slow global growth, he said.

“Disruption to trade shouldn’t affect Vietnam overall, but it’s the way the entire globe is reacting to this that I think could affect Vietnam,” he said. “Vietnam is overall heavily committed to global integration with a number of partners, so disruption along that way would have an effect.”

Rivers and Tides Can Provide Affordable Power

While wind turbines and solar cells generate power only when there is wind and sun, most rivers always flow and most ocean shores always experience tidal currents. At a recent energy summit organized by the U.S. Energy Department, a company from Maine displayed an innovative submersible generator that effectively harvests power from shallow rivers and tidal currents. VOA’s George Putic has more.

NY Auto Show Features Electric, Self-Driving Cars

A recent fatality involving one of Uber’s self-driving cars may have created uncertainty and doubt regarding the future of autonomous vehicles, but it’s not stopping automakers who say autonomous and self-driving vehicles are here to stay. At the New York International Auto Show this week, autonomous vehicles and electric cars were increasingly front and center as VOA’s Tina Trinh reports.

Facebook’s Zuckerberg Disavows Memo Saying All User Growth Is Good

A Facebook Inc. executive said in an internal memo in 2016 that the social media company needed to pursue adding users above all else, BuzzFeed

News reported Thursday, prompting disavowals from the executive and Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg.

The memo from Andrew Bosworth, a Facebook vice president, had not been previously reported as Facebook faces inquiries over how it handles personal information and the tactics the social media company has used to grow to 2.1 billion users.

Zuckerberg stood by Bosworth, who goes by the nickname “Boz,” while distancing himself from the memo’s contents.

Bosworth confirmed the memo’s authenticity but in a statement he disavowed its message, saying its goal had been to encourage debate.

Facebook users, advertisers and investors have been in an uproar for months over a series of scandals, most recently privacy practices that allowed political consultancy Cambridge Analytica to obtain personal information on 50 million Facebook members. Zuckerberg is expected to testify at a hearing with U.S. lawmakers as soon as April.

​’Provocative’ statements

“Boz is a talented leader who says many provocative things. This was one that most people at Facebook including myself disagreed with strongly. We’ve never believed the ends justify the means,” Zuckerberg said in a statement.

Bosworth wrote in the June 2016 memo that some “questionable” practices were all right if the result was connecting people.

“That’s why all the work we do in growth is justified. All the questionable contact importing practices. All the subtle language that helps people stay searchable by friends,” he wrote in the memo, which BuzzFeed published on its website.

He also urged fellow employees not to let potential negatives slow them down.

“Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools. And still we connect people,” he wrote.

Bosworth said Thursday that he did not agree with the post today “and I didn’t agree with it even when I wrote it.

“Having a debate around hard topics like these is a critical part of our process and to do that effectively we have to be able to consider even bad ideas, if only to eliminate them,” Bosworth’s statement said.

Ads Pulled from Ingraham Show After She Mocked Parkland Survivor

At least three companies said Thursday they were pulling advertisements from a Fox News show hosted by conservative pundit Laura Ingraham, heeding a call from a teenage survivor of the Florida school massacre whom Ingraham mocked on Twitter.

Parkland student David Hogg, 17, tweeted a list of a dozen companies that advertise on The Ingraham Angle and urged his supporters to demand that they cancel their ads.

Hogg is a survivor of the Feb. 14 mass shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Parkland suburb of Fort Lauderdale. Since then, he and other classmates have become the faces of a new youth-led movement calling for tighter restrictions on firearms.

Hogg took aim at Ingraham’s advertisers after she taunted him Wednesday on Twitter, accusing him of whining about being rejected by four colleges to which he had applied.

On Thursday, Ingraham tweeted an apology “in the spirit of Holy Week,” saying she was sorry for any hurt or upset she had caused Hogg or any of the “brave victims” of Parkland.

“For the record, I believe my show was the first to feature David … immediately after that horrific shooting and even noted how ‘poised’ he was given the tragedy,” Ingraham tweeted, adding that Hogg was welcome back for another interview.

But her apology did not stop at least three companies from parting ways with her show. U.S. celebrity chef Rachael Ray’s pet food line Nutrish, travel website TripAdvisor and online home furnishings seller Wayfair Inc all said they were canceling their advertisements.


Wayfair said it supports open dialogue and debate, but “the decision of an adult to personally criticize a high school student who has lost his classmates in an unspeakable tragedy is not consistent with our values,” it said in a statement.


Replying to Hogg’s boycott call, Nutrish tweeted: “We are in the process of removing our ads from Laura Ingraham’s program.”

A representative for the pet food line did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.


CNBC cited a TripAdvisor spokesman as saying the company does not condone “inappropriate comments” made by Ingraham that in its view “cross the line of decency.”

TripAdvisor representatives did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Ingraham’s show runs on Fox News, part of Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox Inc.

New York Offers Free Cybersecurity Tools to Public to Deter Hackers

New York City will offer free cybersecurity tools to the public as part of a new effort to improve online safety, officials said Thursday, a week after Atlanta was hit with a ransomware attack that knocked some municipal systems offline.

The program, dubbed NYC Secure, will launch a free smartphone protection app to warn users when suspicious activity is detected on their devices, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at a news conference.

“New Yorkers aren’t safe online. We can’t wait around for other levels of government to do something about it or the private sector,” de Blasio said.

The program will cost the city about $5 million per year, he said.

“It’s our job in government to make sure that people are safe online. It’s a new reality,” de Blasio said.

City agencies will also beef up security protection on public Wi-Fi networks by the end of the year to protect residents, workers and visitors.

Those networks will be secured with a tool, dubbed Quad9, that is available to anybody in New York City and beyond at

Quad9 routes a user’s web traffic through servers that identify and block malicious sites and email.

Atlanta cyberattack

NYC Secure was unveiled as Atlanta officials worked alongside federal law enforcement and technicians from private security firms to investigate the cause of the attack that encrypted data on computers.

Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore said she was waiting to hear more about how the hackers breached city networks, the scope of the attack and when city services would be fully operational.

“Everybody in the public wants to know. I want to know, too,” Moore said at a news conference. “But I do think that we need to give them an opportunity to get the information.”

Atlanta on Thursday reactivated a website that allows residents to make requests for trash pickup, report traffic signal outages and ask for other public works-related services.

Municipal court services remained offline Thursday and City Hall employees told Reuters their work computers were still unusable a week after the hack was detected.

In Cuba, Vietnam Communist Party Chief Advocates Economic Reforms

The head of Vietnam’s Communist Party advocated for the importance of market-oriented economic reforms on a two-day visit to old ally Cuba, which is struggling to liberalize its poorly Soviet-style command economy.

Vietnam and Cuba are among the last Communist-run countries in the world but Hanoi set about opening up its centralized economy in the 1980s, two decades before Havana started to do so in earnest under President Raul Castro.

Castro leaves office on April 19 after two consecutive five-year mandates without having been able to unleash in Cuba the same kind of rapid economic growth as that experienced by Vietnam. He remains head of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) until 2021.

“The market economy of its own cannot destroy socialism,” Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong said in a lecture at Havana University.

“But to build socialism with success, it is necessary to develop a market economy in an adequate and correct way.”

Hanoi had managed to lift around 30 million Vietnamese out of poverty over 20 years, Trong said.

The PCC this week admitted a slowdown in its market reforms it attributed to the complexity of the process, low engagement of the bureaucracy and mistakes in oversight.

The number of self-employed workers in the Caribbean island nation of 11.2 million residents has more than tripled to around 580,000 workers since the start of the reforms.

But the government last year froze the issuance of licenses for certain activities amid fears of rising inequality and a loss of state control. It has also backtracked on some reforms in recent years, particularly in the agricultural sector.

Trong said it was clear Cuba, like Vietnam, wanted to avoid shock therapy.

“With the clear vision of the PCC … [Cuba] will surely reach great achievements and successfully reach a prosperous and sustainable socialism,” Trong said.

Cubans complain their economy suffers two types of blockades, the internal one, namely stifling state controls, and the external one: the U.S. trade embargo.

Vietnam also suffered U.S. sanctions, but Washington lifted them more than two decades ago. Analysts say it is unlikely it will do the same for Cuba any time soon.

U.S. President Donald Trump has shifted back to hostile Cold War rhetoric and partially rolled back the detente forged with Havana by his predecessor Barack Obama.

Utility Plans to Close Nuclear Plants in Ohio, Pennsylvania

FirstEnergy Corp. said it will shut down three nuclear plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania within the next three years, making it the latest U.S. utility to announce closings as the nuclear industry struggles to compete with electricity plants that burn plentiful and inexpensive natural gas.

The company announced the closings Wednesday and a day later appealed to the U.S. Department of Energy for help, asking that it be allowed to get more money for electricity produced by its nuclear and coal-fired plants. It said in its request that the closings of its nuclear plants could threaten the reliability of the electric grid across the East Coast.

FirstEnergy said Wednesday that it would be willing to work with both Ohio and Pennsylvania to find a way to keep the plants open, but lawmakers remain unwilling to offer a financial rescue and it appears the plants are nearing a shutdown.

The natural gas boom and increasing use of renewable energy have combined in recent years to squeeze the nation’s aging nuclear reactors, which are expensive to operate and maintain.

New York and Illinois have responded by giving out billion-dollar bailouts that will be paid by ratepayers to stop unprofitable nuclear plants from closing prematurely.

But similar proposals have met with resistance in Connecticut and New Jersey, as well as in Ohio and Pennsylvania, because such subsidies would cause utility bills to increase.

Some proponents of nuclear power say the plants are needed to maintain a diverse lineup of energy sources, arguing that while natural gas is cheap now, that might not always be the case. They also say the nuclear plants are vital to the rural towns where they’re located, providing millions of dollars in tax money for schools and local governments. 

In Ohio, where FirstEnergy is based, state lawmakers said earlier this year that there would be no more hearings on a proposal to increase electric bills to give the company’s plants an extra $180 million a year.

FirstEnergy said it plans to close its Davis-Besse nuclear plant near Toledo in 2020, and that a year later it will shut down the Perry plant near Cleveland and its Beaver Valley operation in Pennsylvania.

“Though the plants have taken aggressive measures to cut costs, the market challenges facing these units are beyond their control,” said Don Moul, president of FirstEnergy Solutions, a subsidiary that runs the nuclear plants.

The three plants, built in the 1970s, employ a combined 2,300 people who would be affected by the closings.

PJM Interconnection, which operates the electric grid covering 65 million people from Illinois east to Washington, is likely to review the impact the potential closings would have on it.

The Davis-Besse plant has had its share of operational problems since it opened four decades ago.

It was the site of the worst corrosion ever found at a U.S. reactor when inspectors discovered an acid leak that closed the plant for extensive repairs from 2002 to 2004.

Facebook Says It’s Making Progress in Election Preparedness

Facebook says it is making progress weeding out fake accounts and fake news on its service. The moves are aimed at preventing election interference ahead of the U.S. midterms.

Samidh Chakrabarti, a product manager, said in a conference call Thursday that Facebook is using machine learning to block fake accounts before they spread misinformation, rather than wait for reports from users. Suspicious accounts are then reviewed by humans — similar to ways Facebook monitors other malicious content.


Facebook is also expanding its fact-checking efforts beyond the written word to include photos and videos. And it plans to launch a public archive of elections-related ads by the summer.

Guy Rosen, a vice president, said Facebook is also looking ahead to prevent new kinds of threats but provided no details.

Долар уперше з початку березня посилився понад 26,5 гривні – НБУ

Національний банк України вперше з 5 березня встановив курс гривні до долара США на рівні понад 26 гривень 50 копійок за одиницю американської валюти. Офіційний курс на 30 березня становить 26 гривень 54 копійки за долар.

Регулятор оприлюднив курс на підставі торгів, що відбулися на міжбанківському валютному ринку. 29 березня вперше за багато тижнів НБУ вийшов на ринок із пропозицією долара, щоб не допустити надмірного послаблення гривні. Як інформує сайт «Мінфін», Нацбанк у форматі «запиту найкращого курсу» продав щонайменше 30 мільйонів доларів.

US, Canada Differ on Quick NAFTA Resolution

The Trump administration is hopeful it can reach a deal on a new North American Free Trade Agreement before the July 1 presidential election in Mexico and U.S. midterm congressional elections in November.

“I’d say I’m hopeful — I think we are making progress. I think that all three parties want to move forward. We have a short window, because of elections and things beyond our control,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told CNBC television Wednesday.

But Canada’s chief negotiator was far less optimistic.

“We have yet to see exactly what the U.S. means by an agreement in principle,” Steve Verheul told reporters Wednesday in Ottawa. There are still “significant gaps,” Verheul said. “We can accomplish quite a bit between now and then, and we’ve made it clear to the U.S. that we will be prepared to negotiate at any time, any place, for as long as they are prepared to negotiate, but so far we haven’t really seen that process get going,” he said.

Officials from the U.S., Canada and Mexico are supposed to meet in the United States next month for the eighth round of talks, although Washington has not announced dates yet.

Robots Pose Big Threat to Jobs in Africa, Researchers Warn

It could soon be cheaper to operate a factory of robots in the United States than employing manual labor in Africa. That’s the stark conclusion of a report from a London-based research institute, which warns that automation could have a devastating effect on developing economies unless governments invest urgently in digitalization and skills training.

The rhythmic sounds of the factory floor. At this textile plant in Rwanda, hundreds of workers sit side-by-side at sewing machines, churning out clothes that will be sold in stores across the world.

Outsourcing production by using cheap labor in the developing world has been a hallmark of the global economy for decades. But technology could be about to turn that on its head.

Research from the Overseas Development Institute focused on the example of furniture manufacturing in Africa. Karishma Banga co-authored the report.

“In the next 15 to 20 years, robots in the U.S. are actually going to become much cheaper than Kenyan labor. Particularly in the furniture manufacturing industry. So this means that around 2033, American companies will find it much more profitable to reshore production back. Which means essentially get all the jobs and production back from the developing countries to the U.S. And that obviously can have very significantly negative effects for jobs in Africa.”

As robots are getting cheaper, she says, people are getting more expensive.

“So the cost of a robot or the cost of a 3D printer, they’re declining at similar levels, around 6 percent annually. So that’s a significant decline. Whereas wages in developing countries are rising.”

There’s no doubting the challenges posed by automation to manual labor in developing countries – but some are fighting back.

The Funkidz furniture factory in Kenya breaks with the traditional mold of production. Automated saws cut perfect templates using computer-aided designs, overseen by skilled programmers and operators.

The investment is paying off, with rapid growth and expansion into Uganda and Rwanda. But Kenyan CEO Ciiru Waweru Waithaka says she can’t find the right employees.

“We have machines that sit idle because we don’t have skilled people. There are many people who need jobs, yes, we agree, but if they have no skills… I would love to employ you, but you need a skill, otherwise you cannot operate our machines. So we are urging all institutions, government, please let us take this skills gap as a crisis.”

That call is echoed by the ODI report authors – who urge African governments to use the current window of opportunity to build industrial capabilities and digital skills – before the jobs crunch hits.

WTO Chief Sees No Sign of US Departure

There is no sign that the United States is distancing itself from the World Trade Organization, and negotiations are underway to avert a global trade war, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said in a BBC interview broadcast Wednesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump has launched a series of tariff-raising moves, upsetting allies and rivals alike.

Trump is also vetoing the appointment of WTO judges, causing a backlog in disputes and threatening to paralyze what is effectively the supreme court of trade. Some trade experts have begun asking whether Trump wants to kill the WTO, whose 164 members force each other to play by the rules.

“I have absolutely no indication that the United Sates is walking away from the WTO. Zero indication,” Azevedo said in an interview on the BBC Hardtalk program, according to excerpts released early by the BBC.

Last month, Trump called the WTO a “catastrophe” and complained the United States had only a minority of its judges.


The next day, Azevedo gently set him straight, noting that the United States had an unusually good deal, since it had always had one of the seven judges.

Asked whether the WTO should be thinking about a Plan B without the United States, Azevedo told the BBC that he had not heard anything to suggest that such a situation was in the cards.

“Every contact that I have in the U.S. administration assures me that they are engaging,” he said.

The question of whether U.S. tariffs were legal could be settled only by a WTO dispute panel, but the damage from such unilateral actions would be felt much more quickly as other countries retaliated, leading to a global trade war, he said.

“I don’t think we are there yet, but we are seeing the first movements towards it, yes,” he said.

Nobody believed it was a minor problem, including those in the U.S. administration, and people were beginning to understand how serious the situation was and what impact it could have on the global economy, Azevedo said.

“There are still negotiations ongoing. … We want to avoid the war, so everything that we can do to avoid being in that situation, we must be doing at this point,” he said.

Trump Gets First Trade Deal as US, Korea Revise Agreement

U.S. President Donald Trump, who campaigned against economic agreements he considered unfair to America has his first trade deal.

The United States and South Korea have agreed to revise their sweeping six-year-old trade pact which was completed during the administration of Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.

The agreement “will significantly strengthen the economic and national security relationships between the United States and South Korea,” according to a senior administration official in Washington.

Trump had threatened to scrap the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA), calling it “horrible.” But officials of his administration on Tuesday confirmed key aspects of the agreement which officials in Seoul had announced the previous day.

“When this is finalized it will be the first successful renegotiation of a trade agreement in U.S. history,” according to a senior U.S. official.

The tentative agreement between the United States and its sixth largest trading partner and a critical security ally in Asia comes at a time of fast-moving developments on the Korean peninsula.

In exchange for terms more favorable to American automakers, South Korea — the third largest steel exporter to the United States — is being exempted for recently announced heavy tariffs on steel rolled out by Trump. South Korea will also limit to about 2.7 million tons per year shipments of steel to the United States.

“This is a huge win,” a senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters on a conference call Tuesday evening.

Trump last week also temporarily excluded other trade partners, including Canada, the European Union and Mexico from the announced import duties of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, which came into effect on Friday.

Under the revisions to be made the KORUS FTA, South Korea is to allow American carmakers to double to 50,000 the number of vehicles that meet U.S. safety standards to Korea annually even though they do not comply with various local standards.

“The revisions to the KORUS FTA benefit both countries as they addressed the United States’ primary concern in autos trade, opening the South Korean market to additional exports of U.S. autos,” Troy Stangarone, the senior director of congressional affairs and trade at the Korea Economic Institute in Washington, tells VOA. “For South Korea, they addresses concerns in the dispute settlement process, while the overall revisions remained relatively narrow in scope. The agreement also takes a potentially contentious issue off of the table as the United States and South Korea prepare for critical talks with North Korea.”

Vehicle emissions standards will also be eased for U.S. vehicles imported from 2021 to 2025.

The Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association immediately called on Seoul to also ease environmental and safety standards for domestic vehicle manufacturers “to offer a level playing field.”

The balance is heavily in favor of South Korea. According to U.S. government statistics, Americans bought $16 billion  worth of passenger cars while such purchases made by South Koreans totaled just $1.5 billion.

The United States, under the revised deal, will also maintain tariffs on exports of South Korean pick-up trucks until 2041, an extension from the previously agreed 2021. However, no South Korean manufacturer is currently exporting such vehicles to the U.S. market.

U.S. officials also say that South Korea has agreed to recognize U.S. standards for auto parts.

“They will reduce some of the burdensome labeling requirements when it comes to auto parts,” a senior U.S. official told reporters.

The apparent settlement of the trade dispute comes before a planned meeting between the leaders of rival South and North Korea. Trump has also accepted an invitation relayed by the South from the North’s leader, Kim Jong Un, to meet with the U.S. president. The White House on Tuesday said planning for such a summit is still proceeding but no location or date has been decided. State Department official say they are unsure it will happen by May as previously announced.

The rival Koreas have no diplomatic relations and technically remain at war since a 1953 armistice signed by armies of China and North Korea with the United Nations Command, led by the United States.

China at a Quandary With US Tech Firms Amid Trade Dispute

While China and the United States seem to be negotiating in an effort to avert a trade war, Washington is unlikely to relent in its determination to stop advanced technology from leaving America for China.

“I think there is a growing consensus in the United States that Chinese firms should be blocked from certain types of acquisitions of U.S. firms, of getting certain types of U.S. technology,” said AlexCapri, an international trade scholar at the National University of Singapore.

China has come up with a list of U.S. products it will target as part of a retaliatory action against Washington’s plan to raise tariffs on Chinese products. But it has been silent about restricting technology companies.

International action

The European Union already is considering a law that would scrutinize and block Chinese purchases of local firms for the purpose of acquiring new technology. China is worried any U.S. action would embolden European politicians and hasten the process of prohibiting Chinese acquisitions.

“I don’t know that is unique just in the United States. I think there are other European countries, Australia … so, I expect to see a lot more interference, a lot more blockage of acquisitions by either Chinese-owned funds or Chinese-owned tech firms that are looking to grow through acquisitions,” said Capri.

That has been evident in recent months as the U.S. put limits on China’s Huawei technology company and clamped down on Singapore-based Broadcom because it is connected with Chinese companies and can work as a conduit to supply technology information.

“Even in situations where you have tech firms that may not be flying a Chinese flag, if these companies are in fact doing business with other companies, then those acquisitions may be blocked,” Capri said.

It is this concern that led to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s announcement last week that foreign companies no longer are obliged to share their technology with local partners when they invest in China. Obligatory knowledge-sharing by foreign companies has been the bulwark of China’s technological development in past decades, and also a sore point with western companies and governments.

“China needs some foreign inputs, and to attract … high-end foreign companies,” said Xu Bin, CEIBS (China Europe International Business School) professor of finance. The country also “needs to open more in the areas where China has not been open that much,” he added.

Li’s offer also is colored by the Chinese parliament’s recent decision to remove presidential term limits, which could give President Xi Jinping perpetual rule, Xu said.

Negligible effect

For Beijing, the situation is particularly bad because it has fewer opportunities to retaliate against the U.S. tech companies like Facebook and Google (Alphabet). Twitter already faces closed doors in China.

Speaking on CNBC, Daniel Ives, head of technology at GBH Insights, said the company strongly believes that “Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google are ‘primarily insulated’ from tariff worries and a potential retaliatory trade war with China. Ultimately, the bark is much worse than the bite.”

Beijing also will find it extremely difficult to restrict foreign manufacturing companies and their partners in China, like Apple, which is using a Taiwanese company, Foxconn, to assemble products in Chinese cities. Such a move would hurt local firms and the domestic economy.

“For [Apple CEO Tim] Cook and company, given the tightly-woven integration between Apple and Foxconn in China, we believe there is minimal risk to this relationship,” said Ives. “… And the last thing China is going to do is tinker with the Apple machine and impact its significant billions [of dollars] of investments in the country and major consumer sales within China, despite fears.”

There is another dimension to Li’s seemingly generous offer. Many Chinese companies now want to protect their own intellectual property rights (IPR) as they venture into the U.S. and other countries. These firms have moved up the innovation value chain after starting with borrowed knowledge and are now capable of producing their own set of technologies.

“China positions itself at the forefront of world innovation. So China needs also to protect their own IPR,” said Lourdes Casonova, director at Cornell’s Emerging Markets Institute. “The initial fear that China had when they opened their economy long ago is not there as it was. So they need to protect their own IP.”

At the same time, Beijing is hoping for support from an unlikely quarter —  American multinationals that derive a substantial part of their revenues by doing business with China. That was evident last week during a conference attended by American CEOs in Beijing.

“Countries that embrace openness, trade, diversity are the countries that do exceptionally well; and countries that don’t, don’t,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said, adding, “The pie gets larger [when we are] working together. It’s not just a matter of carving it up between sides.”

Investment company Black Rock CEO Laurence Fink gave it a fine point.

“The world needs a strong China and a  strong U.S.,” he said. “The world does not need a public fight in which we reduce mutual opportunities.”

Expert Says Brexit Campaign Used Data Mined From Facebook

The computer expert who sparked a global debate over electronic privacy said Tuesday that the official campaign backing Britain’s exit from the European Union had access to data that was inappropriately collected from millions of Facebook users.

Christopher Wylie previously alleged that political consultancy Cambridge Analytica used data harvested from more than 50 million Facebook users to help U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign. Wylie worked on Cambridge Analytica’s “information operations” in 2014 and 2015.

Wylie on Tuesday told the media committee of the British parliament that he “absolutely” believed Canadian consultant AggregateIQ drew on Cambridge Analytica’s databases for its work on the official Vote Leave campaign. The data could have been used to micro-target voters in the closely fought referendum in which 51.9 percent of voters ultimately backed Brexit.

“I think it is incredibly reasonable to say that AIQ played a very significant role in Leave winning,” he said.

Because of the links between the two companies, Vote Leave got the “the next best thing” to Cambridge Analytica when it hired AggregateIQ, “a company that can do virtually everything that [Cambridge Analytica] can do but with a different billing name,” Wylie said.

The testimony comes a day after Wylie and two other former insiders presented 50 pages of documents that they said proved Vote Leave violated election finance rules during the referendum campaign.

They allege that Vote Leave circumvented spending limits by donating 625,000 pounds ($888,000) to the pro-Brexit student group BeLeave, then sending the money directly to AggregateIQ.

Campaign finance rules limited Vote Leave’s spending on the Brexit referendum to 7 million pounds. When Vote Leave got close to that limit in the final weeks of the campaign, it made the donation to BeLeave, said Shahmir Sanni, a volunteer who helped run the grassroots student group.

Wylie told Britain’s Observer newspaper that he was instrumental in founding AggregateIQ when he was the research director of SCL, the parent company of Cambridge Anayltica. He said they shared underlying technology and worked so closely together that Cambridge Analytica staff often referred to the Canadian firm as a “department.”

AggregateIQ, based in Victoria, British Columbia, issued a statement saying it has never been part of Cambridge Analytica and has never signed a contract with the company. The company also said it was 100-percent Canadian owned and operated and was never part of Cambridge Analytica or SCL.

“AggregateIQ works in full compliance within all legal and regulatory requirements in all jurisdictions where it operates,” the company said in a statement. “It has never knowingly been involved in any illegal activity. All work AggregateIQ does for each client is kept separate from every other client.”


Trump’s Approval Ratings Are on the Upswing

With a robust U.S. economy, polls show that President Donald Trump’s approval ratings are on the upswing, even as a majority of Americans still disapprove of his 14-month White House tenure.

A pair of polls this week — by CNN and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research — both say that 42 percent of Americans approve of his performance as president, the highest figures the news organizations have recorded in months. CNN says 54 percent of voters disapprove of Trump’s handling of the presidency, while AP says 58 percent feel that way.

Real Clear Politics’ national average of several polls shows a similar result, a 53-42 negative rating for Trump.

Trump’s approval ratings, through the first months of his four-year term, have been the lowest among modern U.S. presidents recorded during seven decades of polling. But CNN noted that Trump’s current standing is only marginally lower than that recorded for President Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s and President Barack Obama in 2010 in the earliest stages of their two-term presidencies.

Trump’s White House tenure has been buffeted by a marked turnover of key officials, with Trump firing both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster in recent days, and allegations of extramarital affairs in 2006 — relationships the U.S. leader has denied took place a decade before the 2016 election.

Both CNN and AP said that Trump’s brightening approval numbers are linked to the performance of the U.S. economy, the world’s largest, where voters give him a favorable assessment compared to his handling of other public issues.

The U.S. unemployment rate has held steady at 4.1 percent, wages for many workers are growing, and the Republican-approved tax cut legislation championed by Trump has added more money to workers’ paychecks.


Saudi Crown Prince: OPEC, Russia Consider Long-Term Oil Pact

OPEC and Russia are working on a long-term deal to cooperate on oil supply curbs that could extend controls over world oil supplies by major exporters for

many years to come.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Reuters that Riyadh and Moscow were considering extending an alliance on oil curbs that began in January 2017 after oil prices crashed.

“We are working to shift from a year-to-year agreement to a 10-20 year agreement,” the crown prince told Reuters in an interview in New York. ”We have agreement on the big picture, but not yet on the detail.” 

Saudi Arabia recruited Russia and other producers to collaborate on oil supply curbs in 2017 after oil prices crashed and the Saudi oil minister said last week Riyadh hoped to extend that deal into 2019.

The crown prince said a flotation of 5 pct of state Saudi oil company Aramco could take place at the end of 2018 or early 2019, depending on market conditions.

Мінекономрозвитку: Україна застосовує 12 захисних торговельних заходів щодо товарів з Росії

Віце-прем’єр, міністр економічного розвитку і торгівлі Степан Кубів заявляє, що Україна застосовує 12 захисних торговельних заходів щодо товарів з Росії. 

«Станом на сьогодні, що стосується імпорту товарів походженням з Російської Федерації, діє 12 захисних торгових заходів», – сказав він.

Кубів уточнив, що 10 заходів є антидемпінговими, один – компенсаційний і ще один – спеціальний.

Кабінет міністрів України 14 березня схвалив тимчасову заборону на ввезення російських мінеральних добрив.

21 березня уряд зупинив дію програми економічного співробітництва з Росією на 2011-2020 роки

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