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Laatste update
1 maart 2019 13:10
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Osama bin Laden's son Hamza emerging as new al-Qaeda leader
1 mrt 13:02 - The United States is offering a $1 million reward for information on Hamza bin Laden, who is thought to be based near the Afghan-Pakistan border.

AirAsia Emerging as an Unlikely Online Travel Agency Competitor
1 mrt 13:00 - AirAsia.com is becoming a full-fledged online travel agency by any other name and is key to CEO Tony Fernandes’ plan to ramp up ancillary revenue this year. The platform generated more than $4 billion (RM16 billion) in sales last year just from air tickets, Fernandes revealed. The group is increasing its efforts to sell additional […] The post AirAsia Emerging as an Unlikely Online Travel Agency Competitor appeared first on Skift.

Why Americans are suddenly paying $550 per month for new cars
1 mrt 12:59 - The average price of vehicles hit an all-time high in recent months — and with interest rates rising, car shoppers are now borrowing more than ever.

The Latest: India's Modi pledges tough response to terror
1 mrt 12:58 - ISLAMABAD (AP) — The Latest on escalating India-Pakistan tensions (all times local):

Michael Cohen's testimony prompts a new question: In web of Trump investigations, is anyone safe?
1 mrt 12:57 - Michael Cohen's testimony made clear that a web of federal investigations around President Trump show

Maybe it's not so golden: Seniors might not want a Holiday Inn retirement life, experts say
1 mrt 12:54 - A plan to trade a nursing home for Holiday Inns went viral this month, but experts say seniors can't find solace in the satirical plan.

Venezuelan vice president visits Moscow to rally support
1 mrt 12:53 - MOSCOW (AP) — Venezuela's vice president is visiting Russia, voicing hope for stronger ties with Moscow amid the U.S. pressure.

Berlin: We've had no recent talks with Beijing on cybersecurity
1 mrt 12:50 - The German government has not held talks with Beijing about cybersecurity issues in recent weeks, a spokesman said when asked about a report that Chancellor Angela Merkel was seeking a no-spying deal with China over the Huawei issue. Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei is facing intense scrutiny in the West over its relationship with the Chinese government and allegations of enabling state espionage, which it denies. German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Germany and China regularly held talks on how to prevent malicious cyber activities and had agreed that they would protect confidential company data and ensure safe cross-border data transfers when making and implementing cyber laws.

Students in Hamburg, elsewhere call for climate action
1 mrt 12:48 - BERLIN (AP) — Thousands of students skipped class Friday in Hamburg to call for action against global warming, part of a string of protests that have been taking place in cities across the world over recent months.

Pakistan brings captured Indian pilot to border for handover
1 mrt 12:48 - WAGAH, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani officials brought Friday an Indian pilot captured from a downed plane to a border crossing with India for handover, a "gesture of peace" promised by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan amid a dramatic escalation with the country's archrival over the disputed region of Kashmir.

Zscaler, Inc. (ZS) Q2 2019 Earnings Conference Call Transcript
1 mrt 12:44 - ZS earnings call for the period ending January 31, 2019.

US Fed Considers Including BTC Market Crash as ‘Salient Risk’ for Stress Tests
1 mrt 12:42 - The United States Federal Reserve (the Fed) is considering the inclusion of this year’s Bitcoin (BTC) market collapse as one of the “salient risks” to be taken into account for its supervisory stress tests. The prospective amendment was revealed as part of a policy statement published on the official federal government daily journal, The Federal Register, on Feb. 28. The Fed’s annual supervisory stress tests provide the framework for covered companies to conduct their internal stress tests.

U.S. to Demand Agricultural Access in Future U.K. Trade Deal
1 mrt 12:41 - President Donald Trump’s administration published its “negotiating objectives” for a future trade agreement late Thursday, including “comprehensive access” for agricultural goods and a demand to remove “unwarranted barriers” to trade in the farm industry related to health and safety checks. As a member of the European Union, the U.K. is unable to strike its own trade deals and the pursuit of agreements with countries including the U.S., India and Australia is a key argument put forward by supporters of Brexit.

North Korea contradicts Trump's account of negotiations. State Dept. official says NK is 'parsing words'
1 mrt 12:40 - North Korea says it offered far more, and asked for less, than how Trump described the proposal. A State Dept. official said NK is "parsing words."

Nutanix, Inc. (NTNX) Q2 2019 Earnings Conference Call Transcript
1 mrt 12:38 - NTNX earnings call for the period ending January 31, 2019.

Eurotunnel withdraws suit after $43 million Brexit deal
1 mrt 12:36 - LONDON (AP) — Eurotunnel struck a 33 million-pound ($43 million) agreement Friday with the British government to ensure that vital medicine and other critical goods keep flowing to the country in the event Britain crashes out of the European Union without a deal.

Deepening downdraft chills factory activity
1 mrt 12:33 - LONDON/TOKYO (Reuters) - Factories across the globe slammed on the brakes last month as demand crashed, hit by the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, slowing global growth and political uncertainty in Europe ahead of Britain's imminent departure from the EU. A slew of surveys on Friday highlighted how much manufacturers are suffering, particularly those exposed to China's slowdown, and adds weight to expectations that policy tightening from central banks is pretty much over. Euro zone manufacturing activity went into reverse for the first time in over five years last month, British factories slashed jobs and braced for Brexit while China's vast manufacturing industry contracted for a third straight month.

Winter Heatwave in Europe Will Extend Into Middle of March
1 mrt 12:32 - “Almost certainly, man made climate change has already made events like this week’s more likely than if humans were not warming the planet with our fossil fuel emissions,” said James Screen, a climate scientist at the University of Exeter. Forecasts over the last two days revised up temperature predictions for the next two weeks across northern Europe and now indicate above-normal readings through the end of that horizon.

Turkey's Lira Set to Sink 40 Percent by 3Q, TD Securities Says
1 mrt 12:31 - Cristian Maggio, the head of emerging-market strategy at TD, who initially penciled in a sharp sell-off for the first quarter, says “circumstances have convinced” him this will still happen, though not before the second quarter. “The typical pattern is for the lira to go from one crisis to the next one, with stints of relative tranquility in between,” Maggio said. Lira will come under pressure from a deepening economic contraction, upside risks to stubbornly high inflation, a wide balance-of-payments gap, a “bleak” outlook for the nation’s banks which face a mounting pile of bad loans, and a “de facto dollarization” of the economy.

Persecutors Pile on Jehovah’s Witnesses, in Russia and Worldwide
1 mrt 12:30 - Christians are the most widely persecuted religious believers around the globe. They are the most numerous people of faith worldwide. They also tend to evangelize, threatening established religions. Moreover, especially in some Muslim nations, local Christians are assumed to be strong supporters of Israel and agents of America and U.S. foreign policy. The result is an increasingly tenuous existence for Christians in many lands.However, smaller faiths tend to face more intense hostility. Jews, of course, are the traditional scapegoats for numerous ills. Bahá’is are seen by Muslims as apostates. And Jehovah’s Witnesses now are under sustained attack in Russia.JWs, as they are known (and call themselves), might seem an odd addition to that list. While active, their numbers remain relatively low, about 8.5 million worldwide. Their largest national home is America. The next two are Mexico and Brazil, which exist in a region with the least religious persecution. JWs reject any political role. They do not threaten the existing order anywhere.Yet Russia has imposed a six-year sentence on a Danish JW, Dennis Christensen, for “organizing the activity of an extremist organization.” In 2016 the government recognized the JW faith as “extremist”; the following year the country’s supreme court ruled the JW church to be an “extremist organization” and banned it. Although Christensen knew that his faith had been outlawed, explained the prosecutor, the JW unsurprisingly continued to proselytize, hold meetings, and distribute literature. He was arrested in May 2017 at a worship service and is now set to serve six years in a penal colony — which will be decidedly less pleasant than the prisons in Christensen’s homeland.Unfortunately, he is not the only such victim of Russian persecution. Last year Moscow launched a vigorous nationwide campaign against JWs. Earlier this month the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses published a special report, “Russia: State-Sponsored Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses Continues.”From September 2017 to January 2019, the church reported, the Putin government has mounted 300 raids, mostly of homes. Twenty-three people have been jailed, 27 have been placed under house arrest, 41 have been ordered to remain in their hometown, and 121 have been placed under investigation. The church has complained that government security agents use “heavy-handed tactics against the Witnesses as though they were dealing with hardened criminals. The authorities point guns in the face of Witnesses, including children and the elderly — and manhandle them.” Property worth $90 million is subject to confiscation. More than 100 properties, including the large administrative center, have already been seized, and some 300 more face confiscation.The report goes on to list the other JWs facing charges. They should not be forgotten.Three currently are on trial: Sergey Skrynnikov, Yuriy Zalipayev, and Arkadya Akopyan. (The latter is 71 years old.)In pretrial detention are Aleksandr Akopov, Vladimir Atryakhin, Dmitriy Barmakin, Konstantin Bazhenov, Sergey Britvin, Aleksey Budenchuk, Sergey Klimov, Vadim Levchuk, Feliks Makhammadiyev, Valeriy Moskalenko, Georgiy Nikulin, Andrzej Oniszczuk, Konstantin Samsonov, Yuriy Savelyev, Andrey Sazonov, Aleksandr Shevchuk, Nataliya Sorokina, Yevgeniy Spirin, Andrey Stupnikov, Shamil Sultanov, Yeveniy Suvorkov, and Mariya Troshina.Such a campaign might be appropriate against a terrorist organization. But against a group of religious believers whose behavior is decidedly harmless? The armed assaults demonstrate that the Russian government is determined to halt private worship as well as organizational activity.For targeting JWs and other peaceful religious minorities, Russia has been designated a “country of particular concern” by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. In its annual report on persecutors worldwide, USCIRF observed that the Putin government has “continued to target ‘nontraditional’ religious minorities, including Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientologists, with fines, detentions, and criminal charges under the pretext of combating extremism. Most notably, the Jehovah’s Witnesses were banned outright, as was their translation of the Bible, and their followers persecuted nationwide.”Although Russia has gained the distinction of being just about the only majority-Christian country to persecute, it is not the only nation to ban JWs. Twenty-six Muslim nations do so, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and even reasonably liberal Kuwait, as well as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Somalia, and Yemen. Several are Communist, such as China, North Korea, and Vietnam, or formerly Communist. Eritrea, Lebanon, and Singapore are also on the list.Why such hostility? The sect was founded in the U.S. in the 1870s. Its doctrines, including non-trinitarianism and teachings on the role of Jesus Christ, differ significantly from those of traditional Christianity, both Protestant and Catholic. JWs rely on their own biblical translation, have a unique eschatology, and are noted for rejecting blood transfusions and refusing to celebrate traditional religious holidays. However, being different isn’t reason for persecution. (I have several JW relatives and friends. Their theology is not for me, but they are uniformly warm, decent people.)More significant, perhaps, is the separationist nature of JWs. An intense community rather like the Amish, they expel members through disfellowship. They refuse to accord government the respect that public officials crave or to honor the state — to say the Pledge of Allegiance in America, for example, or to serve in the military anywhere. Such attitudes may have generated the Russian claim that they are guilty of “social hostility.” Presumably they are seen as focusing on those within their community rather than without.Moscow denies that it is persecuting JWs for their beliefs. Rather, explained Vyacheslav Lebedev, chief justice of the Russian Supreme Court, “the situation is actually being presented as if these people are being persecuted for their belief and religious activity. Yet the decision, which was made by the Supreme Court amongst others, is unrelated to religion. It is about a violation of the law, which religious organizations have no right to breach.”The law bans the faith, so punishing them for exercising their faith is merely punishing a violation of the law. This argument is perfectly Orwellian. Translating Lebedev: We declared your religious faith to be extremist, and you are not allowed to be extremists. So we are arresting you for being extremists. But feel free to practice your faith and have a good day.Some critics appear to imagine that they are dealing with something akin to al-Qaeda. For instance, Roman Silantyev of Moscow State Linguistic University complained that “this sect promotes external and inner extremism, inciting hatred to those who think and believe in a different way and bullying their own members.” He went on to claim that “recognizing this sect as extremist gave a possibility to dozens of our citizens to leave this concentration camp.” Silantyev appears not to understand religion: Despite the threat of arrest and prison, JWs continue to meet, because they are operating out of faith rather than compulsion.JWs also are known for evangelism, highlighted by their going door to door. This stirs harsh resistance by majority faiths, especially those that are as much political as religious. The Russian Orthodox Church is hostile even to traditional Christian faiths. It would be difficult for its hierarchy to advocate banning Catholic and Protestant churches with roots as deep as its own, but JWs are an easier target.President Vladimir Putin admitted as much. When asked why his government targeted JWs, Putin dismissed the charge. But, he admitted, “our society does not consist solely of religious sects. Ninety percent of citizens of the Russian Federation or so consider themselves Orthodox Christians. . . . It is also necessary to take into account the country and the society in which we live.” Translation: JW’s are different and don’t fit in. This attitude also may explain attacks by groups and individuals on JWs, their homes, and meeting halls.Putin offered a glimmer of hope in December when he allowed that one should not “label representatives of religious communities as member of destructive, much less terrorist organizations” and acknowledged that he did not “quite understand why they are persecuted,” so “this should be looked into, this must be done.” Although Putin’s references to human rights should be treated with more than a few grains of salt, he appears to respect religion, and these comments are hard to explain other than as an expression of genuine puzzlement over so much effort being expended to eliminate an evidently nonexistent threat.Russia’s persecution of JWs pales compared with the punishment, including violence, inflicted on religious minorities elsewhere. Consider the horrors that continue to afflict religious minorities in the Middle East. Conflict zones in Iraq and Syria have shrunk, but Christians, Yazidis, and others continue to be at risk. Both sides of the Sunni–Shia divide, represented by Saudi Arabia and Iran, are inhospitable homes for non-Muslims, as well as for the “wrong” Muslims. American client states, such as Afghanistan and Iraq, are little better.Nevertheless, the precarious status of JWs worldwide shows the breadth and reach of the problem of religious persecution. In Russia, thousands of people, largely ignored owing to their small numbers and relative isolation, are being punished for their faith, persecuted for no plausible reason. The arbitrariness of the state is matched only by the hardship inflicted on the affected individuals and families.The freedom of Jehovah’s Witnesses should be on the religious-liberty agenda. Indeed, given the concern expressed even by Putin, American and European officials should raise the issue when they meet their Russian counterparts. The agenda with Russia is crowded. However, liberty of conscience is always worth defending. Especially when success doesn’t require armed campaigns and regime change.

Trump’s Fatal Attraction
1 mrt 12:30 - The good news is that the Trump/Kim summit in Hanoi did not result in a deal -- because any deal would be nothing but a scam perpetrated by Kim Jong Un. Selling this rug repeatedly is a North Korean specialty. The Kim dynasty inked agreements to denuclearize in 1985, 1992, 1994, 2005, 2007, and 2012. You’ve seen the results. Pyongyang violated every one and marched inexorably toward nuclear weapons and ballistic-missile technology. It’s bad enough to confront the prospect of a nuclear-armed North Korea. It would be worse to, in effect, subsidize it, which is all that was on offer.Why would Kim give up his nukes? To get American aid to improve his economy? Fantasy. He runs a prison state that actually exports slaves to countries like China, Kuwait, and Qatar. His goal is not to develop the economy but to remain firmly in power and to conquer South Korea. He saw what happened to Moammar Qaddafi when he gave up his nuclear program and to Saddam Hussein who only pretended to be working on one.That much must be obvious to Trump’s advisers, if not to Mr. Trump himself, who seemed so eager for a deal that he announced before the Hanoi summit that the U.S. was dropping the demand for a full accounting of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic-missile programs. If that sounds precisely like what President Obama did vis-a-vis Iran, it should.For now, Trump has sidestepped the trap Kim prepared. While he may have avoided one bad outcome, his behavior was so bizarre and sycophantic toward Kim personally that he still departs Hanoi trailing a stench of shame.There is just no mistaking it; our president gets excited in the presence of dictators. Appearing with Kim at a press conference, the president warned reporters -- as he never has regarding the leaders of democracies -- to show respect to Kim. “Don’t raise your voice, please. This isn’t like dealing with Trump.” Trump himself went way beyond diplomatic niceties, contrasting Kim favorably with other “rich kids” who didn’t turn out so well.Even if Mr. Trump could overlook the millions who have been persecuted (it’s a crime to visit a South Korean website), starved, tortured, and worked to death in the Hermit Kingdom, it’s beyond appalling that he would offer a pass about the torture and murder of a young American, Otto Warmbier. Recall that in 2017, Trump had said, “Otto’s fate deepens my administration’s determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency.” But off teleprompter, Trump demonstrated his characteristic sympathy for dictators caught behaving badly. “He [Kim] tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word. . . . I don’t believe he knew about it.”Nor did he believe Mohammad bin Salman knew about Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. And he took Vladimir Putin’s word over the judgment of the U.S. intelligence agencies about Russian interference in the 2016 election.Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has launched a vicious program of state-sanctioned murders of suspected drug addicts and dealers. According to the Philippine National Police, the state has killed more than 5,000 people since Duterte’s election in 2016. Others estimate that the true number is closer to 20,000. Amazingly, Duterte does not dispute this. “What is my sin? Did I steal even one peso? . . . My sin is extra-judicial killings.” On another occasion he said, “Hitler killed 3 million Jews. Now there are 3 million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them all.”The world is full of misery, and American leaders sometimes have to deal with unsavory characters. But nothing required President Trump to pick up the phone in 2017 and say to Duterte, “You are a good man . . . . You are doing an unbelievable job on the drug problem. Many countries have the problem, we have the problem, but what a great job you are doing, and I just wanted to call and tell you that.”Explaining the need for a wall on the southern border, Trump offered this odd report from a conversation with China’s Xi Jinping, who apparently told the president that China has no drug problem because they employ the death penalty. He found this exhilarating. “If we want to get smart, we can get smart,” Trump said. “You can end the drug problem, can end it a lot faster than you think.”It would be less disturbing if Mr. Trump’s chief weakness were for porn stars and money. Alas, his attraction to thugs seems even stronger.© 2018 creators.com

By Failing in Hanoi, Trump Almost Succeeds
1 mrt 12:30 - A couple of years ago, opponents of Donald Trump’s presidential bid warned that a Trump presidency would be a crazy spectacle. Jeb Bush famously said that Trump was a chaos candidate who would be a chaos president.Some even conjured various wild scenarios that might unfold under a President Trump. They said it might look something like this: As tensions flared in some hot spot — the Middle East or maybe along the India–Pakistan border — or as the president conducted perilous negotiations with, say, North Korea, he would be distracted or bedeviled with some sort of domestic scandal.Well, I don’t know if anybody predicted the specific details of Wednesday’s cavalcade of crazy, but if they did, they should collect their door prize.Michael Cohen, Trump’s former “fixer” and vice president of the Trump Organization, owed his career to the fact that he would happily be his boss’s pet snake. By his own admission, Cohen proudly did the president’s “dirty deeds” (his words), likening himself to the Tom Hagen character in The Godfather. He threatened anyone who crossed Trump, paid off inconvenient women, and boasted with a loser’s false courage how he would take a bullet for his boss. He celebrated, with an alacrity rarely matched by Stalin’s henchmen, his employer’s near-superhuman genius and empathy.Then, on Wednesday, as he stopped by Congress before he heads to prison, he shed his old skin, the way snakes can, and tried on a new role of martyr and moralist. It’s possible his professed redemption is sincere. It certainly seemed like it at times. But one needn’t be a cynic to doubt it.Regardless, Cohen’s testimony seemed designed to simultaneously enrage the president in every way possible and ingratiate himself with his left-wing critics. Cohen impugned the president’s character, his intelligence, honesty, and wealth. He called Trump a draft-dodging racist and grifter. If I had to guess, his testimony was framed in the best way possible to compensate for the fact that Cohen could not corroborate the most extreme versions of the Russia-collusion theory, which is a political Holy Grail for Democrats and much of the media.Meanwhile, Trump was in Hanoi, Vietnam — a locale he studiously avoided visiting in his youth by claiming to have bone spurs — to negotiate with the murderous dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong-un.The summit, like the first one, was ill-considered. It rested on the assumption that Trump, the world’s greatest dealmaker, could charm Kim and the North Korean regime out of its nuclear program. The worry from foreign-policy experts across much of the ideological spectrum was that Trump would blunder into a deal just for the sake of being able to declare victory. Rumored concessions leaked out in the media as if through an open faucet.And then, it didn’t happen. The summit was a failure on its own terms, and ironically, that made it a kind of victory for Trump. The political tumult in Washington gave Trump every personal incentive to come up with any deal he could in order to change the subject and have something to boast about. This was, after all, part of the political rationale for his declaration of an emergency to build the wall at the border: It changed the subject from his defeat in the post-government-shutdown budget deal.I have long argued that the North Koreans can’t be talked out of their nuclear program because their nuclear program is central to the rationale for the regime’s entire existence. It would be like talking Hitler and the Nazi regime out of their desire for conquest and their obsessions with the Jews; it’s simply the nature of the regime. You cannot reason a leopard to abandon its spots. It’s doubtful Trump fully recognizes this yet, but that’s irrelevant. He recognized enough: Any deal he could have gotten with Kim would have been worse than doing what he did — walk away from the table. Whether he came to this conclusion on his own or was cajoled into it by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton is irrelevant, too.One can rightly bemoan or lament the fact that the Trump presidency made the Cohen spectacle possible in the first place. But that doesn’t change the fact that the president defied political temptation and did the right thing.© Tribune Content Agency LLC

Let Philly Try Safe Drug-Injection Sites
1 mrt 12:30 - Facing a growing drug crisis, Philadelphians have planned a radical solution: a “safe consumption site” where users can take heroin under medical supervision. Earlier this month, however, the Department of Justice brought a civil suit to block the city’s — and the nation’s — first SCS.In so doing, the DOJ honored the letter of federal law. But it also stood in the way of an idea that could save lives amid a crushing opioid crisis. In the name of an experiment with enormous potential benefit, the agency should reconsider. Better yet -- if less of a political possibility -- Congress should carefully rethink the legal regime that treats these experiments the same way it treats crack houses.In January of last year, Philadelphia’s leadership gave permission, although not funding, to supervised consumption sites within the city. In response, community health leaders incorporated a planned SCS under the name Safehouse, with a board of advisers that includes public-health experts and former governor Ed Rendell.Drug users visiting Safehouse would be provided with a safe environment, including clean needles and fentanyl test strips. After using, clients would be observed on site, with a staff member standing by with life-saving naloxone. Safehouse staff would not distribute drugs, except for FDA-approved medications for opioid-use disorder.This arrangement could stop overdose deaths, protect users from fentanyl adulteration and infection, and expand medication-assisted treatment.It’s clear why Philly signed off: Like the rest of America, it’s in the midst of an overdose crisis. Drug-overdose deaths in the city tripled between 2010 and 2017, according to official data; ER visits for overdoses doubled in the same period. Seventy-four percent of deaths involved fentanyl. Veteran Philadelphia drug reporter Christopher Moraff has noted an increase in the number of HIV infections, indicating dangerous needle-sharing.Although city officials backed Safehouse, the Department of Justice didn’t like what it saw. In early February, U.S. Attorney William McSwain brought a civil suit, claiming that Safehouse was in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, specifically section 856, the “Crack House Statute.” Section 856 prohibits owning or operating a place for the purposes of selling, storing, distributing, or using a controlled substance -- regardless of intent.“The law is clear, and my job is to respect and enforce the rule of law,” McSwain said in his announcement of the lawsuit. “If Safehouse wants to operate an injection site, it should work through the democratic process to try to change the law.”That looks unlikely. Supervised consumption sites exist today in Australia, Canada, and ten European countries; the oldest opened in 1986. But especially in the United States, they remain deeply controversial — respondents to a recent nationally representative survey were more likely to support arguments against SCSs than in favor.Supporters of SCSs focus on mitigating the risks of drug use: what’s called “harm reduction.” They argue that medical oversight and easy access to naloxone save the lives of users, as well as reducing their exposure to infection. Supporters also point out that SCSs can help users get treatment and allow police to refocus limited resources on serious criminals.Opponents in turn emphasize the risks of SCSs. Government approval of drug use may normalize harmful behavior, they contend, causing more deaths. They also worry about effects on the community, arguing that having a designated space for drug use may promote crime or disorder. Some simply say that the government should not sanction otherwise illegal behavior.Research, such as it currently exists, paints a picture more sympathetic to the first view, but only mildly so. The RAND Corporation, a nonpartisan think tank, recently released an overview of the research on the effectiveness and adverse consequences of SCSs. “Many SCSs have been around for 15 to 30 years,” the authors note. “Persistence does not imply effectiveness, but it seems unlikely that these SCSs — which were initially controversial in many places — would have such longevity if they had serious adverse consequences for their clients or communities.”Indeed, the nine rigorous (“quasi-experimental”) studies RAND identified found that SCSs either reduced or did not increase crime rates, overdoses, and overdose-death rates. Many of the professionals RAND interviewed, although they voiced concerns about SCSs, saw the sites as a potentially valuable strategy for reducing deaths and connecting users to treatment.Still, the literature isn’t a home run for SCSs. The quasi-experimental findings all came from just three sites, which limits their general applicability; other studies lacked the sort of design needed to justify strong inferences. Even within the quasi-experimental literature, RAND expressed doubt about the control groups that studies employed.In other words, there’s evidence to support a favorable view of SCSs, but it’s not rock solid. Just because SCSs have (maybe) worked elsewhere doesn’t mean they’ll work in the United States.But if they do, they could be an invaluable tool for fighting a deadly crisis that both city governments and the DOJ are committed to combating. And desperate times call for desperate — even experimental — measures.Drugs killed more than 70,000 people in 2017, outpacing every other non-medical cause of death and reaching the highest drug-death rate in the modern era. Much of the drug supply is now adulterated with fentanyl, meaning that any dose could be a person’s last. Recent research indicates that hepatitis C infections have begun to rise after years of decline, meaning needle sharing will kill even more people.Philly’s experimentation is in fact the whole point of America’s federal system. Letting one municipality take the plunge can teach all of the other cities struggling with the drug crisis — and there are many — what does and does not work. For the DOJ to back off, much as it has with state-level decisions to legalize marijuana, would simply be for it to defer to that federalist principle, with all of the benefits that have historically accompanied it.The ideal, if unlikely, solution would be for Congress to amend the Crack House Statute. Lawmakers could exclude from its terms licensed medical facilities with municipal or state approval to distribute paraphernalia or oversee drug use, while imposing stringent monitoring requirements. Federalist deference combined with mandatory monitoring would let Congress strike an appropriately cautious balance.A more practical (and politically likely) alternative would be for the government to take a wait-and-see approach. In fact, the Eastern District has already exercised a degree of prosecutorial discretion by choosing to bring a civil rather than criminal suit. That shows it understands that moderation is warranted in this situation.Not suing Safehouse would not stop DOJ from prosecuting shadier clinics under the CSA, nor oblige it to stop targeting real drug dealers. Instead, it would free up limited federal resources to target the opioid crisis where it really matters. And if the Safehouse experiment is shown to increase harm, then DOJ retains its discretion to prosecute other sites in the future.In the time it took you to read this article, another American has probably died of a drug overdose. Philadelphia wants to slow that rate through any means necessary — including pursuing radical, but promising, solutions such as SCSs. U.S. Attorney McSwain has his heart in the right place in upholding the law as written; but in so doing, fewer lives may be saved. Always, but especially now, life-saving has to be our priority. Let Philly try.

Dumb or Dishonest
1 mrt 12:30 - Senator Kamala Harris, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Robert Reich — Democrats are truly testing our prowess in 2019’s championship round of that peerless political parlor game, “Dumb or Dishonest?”We don’t play that game when it comes to the great blithering demos at the center of our democracy, because we already know the answer: stone-cold stupid. The American voter bears out the wisdom of the managerial proverb: “None of us is as dumb as all of us.” At the moment, voters are cheesed off because they got a tax cut and because the federal government acted, for once, with uncharacteristic directness and speed.When the Republican tax bill lowered taxes for the great majority of taxpayers — all but about 4 million, as the hilariously named Government Accountability Office runs the numbers — the IRS got a move on and changed the withholding schedules. As a result of which, the people who got a tax cut got a tax cut right then, their paychecks getting a little bigger as Uncle Stupid skimmed off a little less.You can see where this is going.At the end of the year, people who had had less money withheld in taxes faced a terrible new reality: They had had less money withheld in taxes! They owed less, and they paid less, and, because the government did a surprisingly effective job of matching up what was withheld to what was owed, taxpayers got smaller returns. Which is to say, they got their money right away rather than having to wait for a tax refund after making the government an interest-free loan.Getting paid, more or less in full, right now instead of waiting months and months: Naturally, taxpayers are enraged.And along comes Senator Harris. Senator Harris, who might be as dumb as nine chickens or might be a cynical political operator who believes that her constituents are dumber than nine chickens — a supposition for which her election presents compelling evidence — complained on behalf of the morons she represents, writing: “The average tax refund is down about $170 compared to last year. Let’s call the President’s tax cut what it is: a middle-class tax hike to line the pockets of already wealthy corporations and the 1%.”Nope. Wrong on every count. She couldn’t have written a wronger take if she had tried. Refunds are down (to the extent that they are down, more below) because withholding is down, and most taxpayers, according to the government’s figures — and maybe Senator Harris knows someone in government she could ask? — are paying lower taxes. Those refunds aren’t disappearing into the pockets of the hated 1 percent — most of whom would not break stride to bend over and pick up Mr. 50th Percentile’s federal income-tax payments should they happen step over them on the sidewalk — because they already have disappeared into the pockets of the taxpayers currently bitching about their diminished returns.But it gets better: The talking point about tax refunds being down was based on early and incomplete data. It isn’t even clear that the average refund actually will be lower once all the refunds are processed. But, if they aren’t lower, then the IRS messed up. Lower refunds are the right outcome.Representative Ocasio-Cortez — and, in her case, I’m leaning toward “dumber than that weird little runt heel of bologna left over when the deli guy is done slicing, when you’re buying bologna for some reason” — played a similar class-warfare game when she complained about “giving” Amazon $3 billion that instead could be invested in filling potholes and such, apparently being in a state of pristine ignorance about what a tax credit is. Very few things bring out the stupidity in a creature of politics like tax credits.Streaking into the scene like a blazing comet of asininity comes Robert Reich, the gormless lawyer who plays an economist on television, who sets those lower individual returns — lower returns because the money was never taken away in the first place — against the gigantic tax returns coming to General Motors and Ford. “While millions of Americans have seen their refunds shrink,” Reich writes, “some of the most profitable corporations in the country are filing for massive refunds.”Indeed, they are.There are two things at play there: One is that the corporate tax system is not very much like the individual tax system, because it takes into account that businesses have profitable years and money-losing years, and our law allows businesses to carry forward losses against future profits for tax purposes. It’s a way of smoothing out, if not exactly averaging, earnings for tax purposes. (Some other countries extend this benefit to individuals in their tax codes, and it isn’t an obviously terrible idea.) General Motors lost a ton of money in the years leading up to its bankruptcy — hence the bankruptcy — and so it has a lot of losses available to offset future earnings. Ford had some pretty hairy years, too. Now, maybe you think that’s a bad idea, and that businesses should be hit up for taxes in their profitable years without taking into account their money-losing years — that’s not an indefensible idea, but that isn’t how the United States (or much of the rest of the world) has done it for a long time, and businesses aren’t exploiting “loopholes” or engaging in shenanigans when they avail themselves of the benefits of the law. They are following the law not only as it is written but also as it is intended. Carrying losses forward has been around for ages — the practice has nothing to do with the 2019 tax cuts.Likewise, the tax credits. Government uses tax credits to encourage businesses to behave in certain ways. Want more “alternative” energy? The Obama administration couldn’t get enough tax credits for that. Tax credits are also used to encourage hiring — with the support of Robert Reich himself, who once blasted Congress for having “repeatedly rejected tax incentives designed to encourage more hiring” — and to subsidize lines of business that the federal government, in its wisdom, judges to be more important, usually manufacturing or things related to it, such as research and development or physical capital and infrastructure improvements. It would not be fair to say that Reich is an uncritical or categorical supporter of such tax incentives, but, then, neither are most Republicans, who can see crony capitalism clearly enough when the benefits are going to Democrats. But the idea of using tax credits to encourage this or that corporate behavior enjoys wide general bipartisan support — until some company like GM or Ford actually uses the tax credits! On Monday, it’s, “Hooray, tax credits!” On Tuesday, it’s “Why are these evil corporations allowed to use these stupid tax credits we created yesterday with the best of all intentions?”Dumb or dishonest?It is a tough call.

Don’t Root for a Trump Primary Challenge
1 mrt 12:30 - The race for 2020 is taking shape, although there are still significant unknowns, including whether Donald Trump will get a serious primary challenge.His fiercest Republican critics say, “Yes — please, please, yes.”They are probably wrong, and it’s certainly nothing to root for.Trump’s dominance of the party begins with his lockdown support of the right, forcing any primary challenger to the left. This isn’t fertile territory. Self-identified moderates and liberals are only a fraction of the party, and it is grass-roots conservative activists who have fueled the most potent Republican primary challenges (Ronald Reagan in 1976, Pat Buchanan in 1992).Because a primary challenge would naturally come from the left and is unlikely to succeed, it will tend to attract people who don’t have a future in GOP national politics and lack conservative bona fides — the wayward former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld; the centrist governor of Maryland Larry Hogan; the former Ohio governor John Kasich, who convincingly demonstrated his lack of national electoral appeal in 2016.Trump is in a stronger position in the party now than he was then. He’s been a rock on judges, abortion, and religious liberty. Last time, many Republicans told themselves, “Well, at least compared to Hillary, we don’t know what we’re getting with Trump.” Now, they are grateful for what they’ve gotten.Could all of this change? It would require a torpedo to the bow from some enormous scandal and a significant ideological betrayal on something extremely important, like a Supreme Court nominee.The promoters of a Trump primary challenge still haven’t come to grips with how intertwined Trump’s fate is with the party’s.If Trump becomes seriously vulnerable to a primary challenge, it’s a sign that something very bad has happened that won’t be constrained to him. Say it’s proof of a criminal conspiracy with the Russians. Is the rest of the party that has defended Trump so vociferously in the Mueller probe going to emerge unscathed? Say it’s a sudden economic downturn. What’s the case that such an event wouldn’t tank the GOP generally?Indeed, a winning primary campaign against Trump would almost certainly be a catastrophic success. How would the winner put the party back together again for the general election?Perhaps the hardcore Trump base and media will enthusiastically back whoever slays their champion. But why would they? Besides the inevitable hurt feelings and ideological disagreements, they will surely consider recent precedent — Never Trump would be the analogue to Never Hogan.Of course, a primary campaign doesn’t have to be about winning. Futile gestures can achieve a kind of grandeur. Bill Buckley was never going to win the 1965 New York City mayoral campaign, but he did promote his brand of conservatism. In their primary challenges, Reagan and Buchanan were movement-builders, not just candidates.There are people out there who may well have significant say in the party’s future — a Nikki Haley or a Tom Cotton — but for them, 2024 will come soon enough (if Trump loses, the presidential jockeying begins in less than two years; if he wins, in less than four).There is obviously a character case to be made against Trump, although Republican voters are already aware of his flaws and strongly support him nonetheless.The contradiction in the case for a primary challenge is this: If it’s a bad thing that Trump is potentially a weak general-election candidate, as Trump’s critics say, then why make him potentially weaker with a primary challenge? What many of Trump’s GOP detractors won’t say out loud is that when they talk of defeating Trump, they don’t mean only defeating him in a nomination battle; they mean seeing him lose in a general election.That Republican voters would sense this, and understandably recoil, is another reason a primary challenge is probably a box canyon.© 2019 by King Features Syndicate

March freebies: Your monthly guide to food specials, meal deals and more
1 mrt 12:30 - March's biggest deal days include Pi Day on March 14 or 3/14, St. Patrick's Day, which also brings green food and the first day of spring.

China says UN should discuss N.Korea sanctions relief
1 mrt 12:29 - China called Friday for North Korean sanctions relief to be discussed at the UN Security Council after US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un ended a summit without a deal. Beijing is the North's main trade partner and sole major ally, but it has backed a raft of UN sanctions following Pyongyang's repeated nuclear and missile tests in recent years. Both North Korea and the US note that lifting sanctions is an important part of the denuclearisation process, said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang.

Elon Musk Admits the $35,000 Tesla Model 3 Will Come at a Cost – More Layoffs
1 mrt 12:24 - Tesla’s long-promised $35,000 Model 3 is finally here – along with bad news for the firm’s sales and marketing staff, according to the carmaker’s CEO Elon Musk. In an email that Musk sent to employees, the Tesla chief disclosed the company’s decision to move all sales online. Consequently, the electric carmaker will shutter many brick and mortar stores making some employees redundant, CNBC reports. This was driven largely by consumer trends, according to Musk:

Stocks Rise as China Lifts Spirits; Dollar Gains: Markets Wrap
1 mrt 12:22 - Stocks are ending the week on a positive note as the latest economic data from China offered reassurance to investors concerned about the global growth outlook, while prospects of a trade deal improved. The yen’s drop to a 10-week low against the greenback helped boost Japanese equities, while Chinese shares outperformed as an increase in the Caixin manufacturing gauge and confirmation that MSCI Inc. will raise the weight of Chinese stocks in its global benchmarks buoyed sentiment. “The news surrounding China and the Chinese economy has been better than news we’ve seen elsewhere,” Andrew Cole, head of multi asset at Pictet Asset Management Ltd., told Bloomberg TV in Hong Kong.

March roars in like a lion: Millions to endure coast-to-coast snow, then 'punishing' blast of record cold
1 mrt 12:21 - March is definitely coming in like a lion over the next few days. A winter storm will spread snow along a 2,500-mile path from California to Maine.

Box's (BOX) Q4 Earnings Surpass Estimates, Revenues Miss
1 mrt 12:19 - Box's (BOX) top-line growth in fourth-quarter fiscal 2019 is impacted by weakness in the EMEA region. However, growing add-on products and increasing customer base aid profits.

4 Tips for Choosing a Tax Preparer This Year
1 mrt 12:17 - Need help with your taxes? Here's how to find the best person for the job.

An Ex-Deutsche Bank Veteran Is Taking on Indian Banking’s ‘Bad Boy’
1 mrt 12:15 - While Kapoor stepped aside as CEO in January, tensions between Yes and the regulator have persisted, and it now falls to Gill to ease them. Gill, who took the helm Friday, will have to walk a fine line.

Tata Explores Options for Struggling Jaguar Land Rover
1 mrt 12:13 - Just over a decade after purchasing the Jaguar and Land Rover brands, the business has turned from crown jewel to burden, culminating in the biggest corporate loss in Indian history just last month when Tata drastically slashed the value of the asset. Jaguar Land Rover has been hit hard by slumping sales in China, the shift away from combustion and diesel engines, and the brand’s strong historic links to the U.K., where concern over a disruptive Brexit has weighed on demand and prompted some brands to move production. “There is no truth to the rumors that Tata Motors is looking to divest its stake in JLR, and we would not like to comment further on any market speculation,” Tata Group said in an emailed statement.

UK pays Eurotunnel 33 million pounds over 'secretive' no-deal Brexit ferry contracts
1 mrt 12:13 - Britain has paid out 33 million pounds ($43.7 million) to settle a claim with Eurotunnel which runs the Channel Tunnel between Britain and France after the firm took legal action over the process to award ferry contracts to cope with a no-deal Brexit. Eurotunnel had begun court action after the Department for Transport contracted ferry companies in December to ensure supplies to the state-run National Health Service (NHS) and other critical imports should Britain leave the European Union on March 29 without a deal. In a statement, the British government said it had reached agreement with Eurotunnel, whose holding company is Getlink, to settle the case and ensure the Channel Tunnel would continue to keep passengers and freight moving after Brexit.

Pakistan prepares to return Indian pilot as confrontation cools
1 mrt 12:11 - World powers have urged restraint from the two nations, as tensions escalated following a suicide car bombing that killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Feb. 14. The disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir has been at the root of two of those conflicts. Both governments claimed they downed enemy jets on Wednesday, with Pakistan capturing an Indian pilot whose MiG fighter jet crashed in enemy territory after dogfight with a Pakistani JF-17.

Officials say Trump overstated Kim's demand on sanctions
1 mrt 12:09 - HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — President Donald Trump said he walked away from his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un because Kim demanded the U.S. lift all of its sanctions, a claim that North Korea's delegation called a rare news conference in the middle of the night to deny.

The 2020 Election Won't Touch on Social Security Much, if at All, for 1 Reason
1 mrt 12:06 - Social Security deserves to be a hot-button issue for the 2020 presidential election. Here's why it won't be.

The Latest: Eurotunnel withdraws lawsuit against UK
1 mrt 12:03 - LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Britain's departure from the European Union (all times local):

Hedge Fund Titan Can't Stop the Tears From Flowing
1 mrt 12:00 - Perhaps more worrying is the drop in margins in the hedge fund’s most lucrative business category, its absolute return strategy. While the decline can be blamed on a shift toward institutional assets, which typically attract lower levies, it still hurts Man’s ability to generate revenue. To misquote Samuel Beckett, the tears of the asset management industry are a constant quantity.

Latest Ethereum price and analysis (ETH to USD)
1 mrt 12:00 - Latest Ethereum price and commentary Ethereum is currently experiencing sideways momentum, with the price of ETH hovering around $137 over the last 24 hours. Ethereum suffered a minor break downwards at the beginning of the week following the market trend. Because of this, Ethereum has experienced a minor loss of about 10% since last week. Volume is currently sitting close to $4.2 billion, about half of Bitcoin’s volume and more than twice the amount of last week’s ETH volume. The Constantinople update also went live yesterday, which is a huge step towards PoS. Current live Ethereum pricing information and interactive charts are available on our site 24 hours a day. The ticker bar at the bottom of every page on The post Latest Ethereum price and analysis (ETH to USD) appeared first on Coin Rivet.

Bitcoin Awaits Decisive Price Move as Trading Range Tightens
1 mrt 12:00 - Bitcoin has witnessed indecisive trading in the last 48 hours and would turn bullish again if prices rise above $3,900.

Trump administration set to roll out massive offshore oil plan, but many GOP leaders don't want it
1 mrt 12:00 - Republicans back much of Donald Trump's energy agenda but many of them part ways on the president's plan to massively expand offshore drilling.

As Old-Guard Food Companies Stumble, Milk, Sugar and Cheese Take Hits
1 mrt 12:00 - Last week, Kraft Heinz Co., the owner of Jello-O and Oscar Mayer’s Wienermobile, lost $16 billion in market value after reporting a writedown that reduced the value of some big-name trademarks. Dean Foods Co.’s announcement it is contemplating a sale had some analysts doubting if the top milk company would lure any buyers for its shrinking business. Such legacy stalwarts have been criticized for not being in tune with where consumers are going, which is away from sugary, highly processed products that line the brand portfolios of such companies.

Musk Pledges Belt-Tightening as Tesla Cuts Prices, Warns of Loss
1 mrt 11:58 - Tesla probably won’t post a profit in the first quarter, the chief executive officer told reporters Thursday, contradicting several of his past predictions that the company would earn money from now on. “Given that there was just a lot happening in Q1, and we’re taking a lot of one-time charges and there are a lot of challenges getting cars to China and Europe, we do not expect to be profitable in Q1,” Musk said on a call with reporters. Tesla shares fell 4.9 percent to $304.07 in pre-market trading Friday.

Malaysia Plans to Halt All Expansion of Palm Oil Plantations
1 mrt 11:57 - The world’s second-largest producer will cap the area at around 6 million hectares, Minister of Primary Industries Teresa Kok said in an interview Friday. The proposal, which will be put to the cabinet for discussion by March, will require commitment and cooperation from state governments as certain land issues are under their jurisdiction, Kok said at her office in Putrajaya. Malaysia will focus on boosting productivity and yields of existing palm trees, she said.

Malaysia Plans to Halt All Expansion of Palm Oil Plantations
1 mrt 11:57 - The world’s second-largest producer will cap the area at around 6 million hectares, Minister of Primary Industries Teresa Kok said in an interview Friday. The proposal, which will be put to the cabinet for discussion by March, will require commitment and cooperation from state governments as certain land issues are under their jurisdiction, Kok said at her office in Putrajaya. Malaysia will focus on boosting productivity and yields of existing palm trees, she said.

Asia’s Factory Woes Drag Into February Though Signs of Hope Emerge
1 mrt 11:57 - Manufacturing in the euro area shrank for the first time in almost six years, led by a German slump, and there was another contraction in China. Japan’s PMI signaled the first contraction in two and a half years, while Thailand and Malaysia also worsened. There were also signs of a bottoming out: The latest Caixin China purchasing managers headline index rose and there was an improvement in demand.

Glencore cites trade as its 'foremost risk', others rising
1 mrt 11:47 - Miner and trader Glencore said trade barriers are its "foremost risk", but climate, political, legal and other risks had become more prominent. Glencore said in its annual report published on Friday that it was seeking to mitigate these challenges through conservative spending and strict compliance. It also said in February it would limit its coal capacity.

5 Things That Waste Money You Should Warn Your Kids About
1 mrt 11:45 - Maybe you've even thrown in some advice thatif you fall into quicksand, thrashing about is the last thing you should do


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