Trump Disbands Advisory Panels As CEOs Quit Over Charlottesville Remarks

WASHINGTON:  Two of the White House’s top corporate advisory groups disbanded Wednesday in a direct affront to President Donald Trump, as the fallout from his controversial statements about who was to blame for violent protests involving white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, cascaded beyond Washington.

The exodus of business advisers comes as a stinging rebuke to the president, who had sold himself as a businessman whose dealmaking prowess would pay off for companies and workers. It also stands as a remarkable breach in relations between Trump, the leader of the Republican Party, and a business community that historically has had an ally in the GOP.

Condemnations from business leaders, representing all corners of American industry, were striking for the ways they personally critiqued Trump for failing to attempt to unify the country in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville over the weekend.

“Constructive economic and regulatory policies are not enough and will not matter if we do not address the divisions in our country,” JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon, a member of Trump’s “Strategy & Policy Forum,” wrote to his employees Wednesday after the councils were disbanded. “It is a leader’s role, in business or government, to bring people together, not tear them apart.”

“Racism and murder are unequivocally reprehensible and are not morally equivalent to anything else that happened in Charlottesville,” Campbell Soup chief executive Denise Morrison, a member of the White House’s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative, said Wednesday morning, before the announcement. “I believe the president should have been – and still needs to be – unambiguous on that point.”

Trump came to office amid high hopes that he could work closely with the business community – after his predecessor, Barack Obama, had faced criticism for pushing for overregulation. Executives largely viewed the GOP’s control of the White House and Congress as a rare opportunity to cash in on a wish list of policy goals that they felt would help their firms and the economy, such as tax cuts and regulatory rollback.

But after an initial courtship between Trump and chief executives during his first weeks in office, business leaders have grown increasingly uneasy with his erratic leadership style and divisive statements, in which Trump often uses Twitter to criticize companies and executives he earlier praised. The severing of ties Wednesday represented the culmination of a rapid decline in that relationship.

“It’s entirely stunning,” said Bill George, the former chief executive of medical devices giant Medtronic and a Harvard Business School professor. “He gave them great access. They’re on these councils, and all those industry committees are coming together. Now they’re saying, ‘I can’t tolerate this.’ “

“This has never happened – not in my lifetime,” George said.

Although Trump said on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon he was shutting down the advisory councils – to avoid “putting pressure on the businesspeople” – momentum was already moving strongly in that direction.

After Trump made equivocal comments about who was to blame for violence at rallies held by white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville over the weekend, Ken Frazier, the chief executive of pharmaceutical giant Merck, resigned from Trump’s manufacturing council Monday.

Trump fired back on Twitter, saying Frazier, one of the few African-American business leaders in Trump’s orbit and someone he had just recently called one of the “great, great leaders of business,” could now work to “LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES.”

He added that he could easily find executives to replace those who left.

But the reality was quite the opposite, and several other executives followed Frazier’s lead.

On Tuesday, Trump made more controversial statements about Charlottesville, including one that appeared to show sympathy for some of the people who marched with neo-Nazis and white supremacists. The weekend’s protests had turned violent, and one person had been killed.

Tuesday was the turning point for many executives on Trump’s business councils, who set up conference calls with one another Wednesday morning to discuss whether and how to sever ties with the White House. “Tuesday was a point of no return,” a person on one of the conference calls said.

Many of the executives on the conference calls indicated they planned to resign from the advisory councils. Stephen Schwarzman, the founder of Blackstone who chaired one of the groups – the Strategy & Policy Forum – crafted a statement saying the group would be disbanded.

Schwarzman did not respond to requests for comment.

Jeff Immelt, a member of the manufacturing advisory group and chairman of General Electric, said he found Trump’s statements on Tuesday “deeply troubling” and had told others earlier Wednesday that he was resigning.

“The committee I joined had the intention to foster policies that promote American manufacturing and growth,” he said. “However, given the ongoing tone of the discussion, I no longer feel that this council can accomplish these goals.”

Corporate angst about Trump began immediately after he took office, with many chief executives – particularly those in Silicon Valley – repudiating his executive order that sought to block the entry of people from seven Muslim-majority countries into the United States. His views on climate change also led to some estrangements, including with Tesla founder Elon Musk, who resigned from Trump’s business councils after the president announced he would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

But many executives found ways to heap praise on Trump and let him take credit for retaining factories or creating new jobs, even though some of those plans were already in the works before his election.

Intel, for example, announced it would create 10,000 new jobs following Trump’s election through construction of an Arizona facility, but it had already announced plans to expand operations in Arizona back in 2011. Similarly, Trump touted a March announcement by Charter Communications to invest $25 billion in the United States, but the company’s jobs plan was in motion as early as 2015.

Other companies, however, announced fresh plans to build and hire thousands of new workers. One of these – e-commerce giant Amazon – was celebrated by Trump last year when it announced it would be hiring 100,000 workers. Then on Wednesday on Twitter, Trump excoriated the firm – which for years did not collect state sales tax, though now it does – for “doing great damage to tax paying retailers. Towns, cities and states throughout the U.S. are being hurt – many jobs being lost!”

Trump has criticized Amazon founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos for coverage of The Washington Post, which Bezos owns, suggesting he is using it to advance his financial interests. The Post’s editors and Bezos, who has met with Trump as part of a White House advisory group called the American Technology Council, have declared that he is not involved in any journalistic decisions.

Trump formed corporate advisory groups in part to show how closely he was pulling in corporate executives after they often complained about tax and regulatory policies during the Obama administration. Trump promised them the largest package of tax cuts in U.S. history and a $1 trillion infrastructure package, but those plans have not materialized, while frustration with his comments and leadership style has grown.

On Wednesday, even the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, which often reflects the pulse of corporate leaders, said the resignations of chief executives should concern the president. “A GOP President who loses the business class has a big problem,” the editorial page declared.

Trump has long said his background in real estate and numerous business ventures give him unrivaled expertise when it comes to rebuilding the U.S. economy, which has seen weak economic growth since the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009.

Before he became president, he railed against the state of the economy, decrying the loss of manufacturing jobs and dismissing the steadily rising stock market as a “big fat, ugly bubble.”

But on Tuesday, before his comments about the rally by white supremacists, Trump had a much different take on the economy. He said the “country is booming. The stock market is setting records. We have the highest employment numbers we’ve ever had in the history of our country. We’re doing record business.”

Trump’s eroding corporate support comes at a time when he faces numerous tests on Capitol Hill that will directly influence the economy and financial markets. The White House and Republican leaders in Congress are discussing ways to jointly push through an overhaul of the tax code in the remainder of 2017 that cuts taxes and allows corporations to bring back trillions of dollars in overseas earnings to the United States.

Congress must pass legislation to keep the government operating past Sept. 30, and Trump has signaled that he is willing to allow the government to shut down if Democrats won’t give him money to build a wall along the Mexico border.

Congress must also vote by late September to raise or suspend the debt ceiling. Failing to do so, many chief executives and economists believe, could lead to a financial crisis, recession and a spike in interest rates. The White House has given different takes on how it believes the debt ceiling should be addressed, but it recently has called on Congress to raise the debt ceiling.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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World Trusts Putin More Than Trump In Foreign Affairs, Pew Says

The survey was taken before Trump signed a bill deepening sanctions against Russia (AFP Image)

People around the world have more confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin handling world affairs than in his U.S. Counterpart Donald Trump, a Pew Research Center survey showed.

Of 36 countries canvassed, 22, including Germany, France and Japan, trust Putin more, according to the pollster’s 2017 spring survey. People had more confidence in Trump in 13 countries, including the U.K., India and Israel. Only Tanzanians saw them as equals. Results from the U.S., which was also part of the survey, weren’t included in this question, and China wasn’t polled. Pew conducted its research from Feb. 16 to May 8.

Pew said that 23 percent of the American public had confidence in Putin, while 53 percent share the same feeling for Trump. Globally, a median 60 percent of people in 37 countries, including the U.S., said they lack confidence in the Russian leader’s actions in world affairs, versus 26 percent who said he’s doing a good job. About a third of the nations surveyed see Russia as a major threat to their country, similar to the level of concern caused by China and U.S.

The survey was taken before Trump signed a bill deepening sanctions against Russia over Ukraine and the Kremlin retaliated by ordering the U.S. to slash staff at its diplomatic missions. Tensions have also risen as Congress and the FBI move forward on probes into potential ties between Trump’s team and Russia during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Trump has called the investigation a “witch hunt.”

Most Russians believe that Putin has improved their country’s standing in the world, according to the survey by the Washington-based non-partisan group. Meanwhile, American and Russian views of each other have become less harsh. The number of Russians who see the U.S. favorably rose to 41 percent, from 15 percent in 2015. The positive feeling also rose among respondents in the U.S., to 29 percent from 22 percent, Pew said.

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Virginia Rally Victim's Message 'Magnified,' Mother Tells Memorial

With tears, defiant tributes, hundreds of purple-clad people packed a Charlottesville theater (Reuters)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va:  With tears and defiant tributes, hundreds of purple-clad people packed an historic Charlottesville theater to remember the 32-year-old woman killed when a suspected white nationalist crashed his car into anti-racist demonstrators.

Heather Heyer, a paralegal whom colleagues said was devoted to social justice, was killed after clashes on Saturday between white nationalists attending a “Unite the Right” gathering and counter-protesters. James Fields, a 20-year-old Ohio man, has been charged with her murder.

“They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well guess what? You just magnified her,” Heyer’s mother Susan Bro said to long and loud applause from those gathered at the city’s 1930s era Paramount Theater.

Bro told the audience that her daughter’s favorite Facebook post was “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

“She paid attention. And she made a lot of us pay attention,” Bro said. “I want this to spread. I don’t want this to die. This is just the beginning of Heather’s legacy.”

The crowd later fell silent for the hymn “Amazing Grace” sung while the sound of the sea played in the background. The singer, Barbara Edwards, wife of the pastor of the city’s Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church, said it evokes the singing of the anthem in the belly of a slave ship.

In the crowd were Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, U.S. Senator Tim Kane and Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer. At the request of Heyer’s family, many of those in attendance wore purple, her favorite color.

The theater’s marquee outside read: “Heather Heyer, gone but not forgotten.”

Wearing a violet-hued polo shirt, his voice breaking with emotion, Heyer’s father Mark Heyer told the gathering how truly proud he was of his daughter.

“I came here today and I was overwhelmed by the rainbow of colors in this room,” he said. “That’s how Heather was.”


Fallout from Heyer’s death and the street fights among protesters has become President Donald Trump’s biggest domestic challenge. Trump was assailed from across the political spectrum over his initial response blaming “many sides” for the violence.

On Monday, the Republican president bowed to political pressure and denounced neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan by name, but on Tuesday he again inflamed tensions by insisting counter-protesters were also to blame.

Residents of the usually quiet, liberal-leaning Virginia city were horrified by the violence they said was brought by outsiders.

White nationalists called Saturday’s rally to protest plans to remove a statue of General Robert E. Lee, commander of the pro-slavery Confederate army in the U.S. Civil War.

Undeterred by the clashes, state and city leaders in several southern U.S. states have vowed to step up efforts to remove such monuments from public spaces.

Amid concerns trouble could erupt outside Wednesday’s memorial, a small group of anti-racist protesters wearing pink helmets and carrying baseball bats and purple shields stood quietly near the theater.

One of the group, who declined to be identified, said they brought weapons to defend themselves in case the white supremacists returned.

“The cops didn’t protect us on Saturday and we don’t trust them to do so today,” the group member said.

Also outside the theater, near where Heyer died, artist Sam Welty was chalking a large portrait of her on a memorial wall that features many tributes to her.

“The way she lost her life, doing what she did, really stood for Charlottesville,” said Welty, 42.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Trump described Heyer as “beautiful and incredible … a truly special young woman. She will be long remembered by all!”

© Thomson Reuters 2017

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Pakistan's Apex Anti-Corruption Group Summons Nawaz Sharif, Sons

Pakistan’s top anti-graft organisation has summoned ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif (File)

Lahore:  Pakistan’s top anti-graft organisation has summoned ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his two sons in money laundering and corruption cases on Friday on the order of the Supreme Court.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has issued summons to Nawaz Sharif and his sons — Hussain and Hasan to interrogate them in its Lahore office in connection with their offshore properties revealed by the Panama Papers case.

On July 28, the five-member bench of the Supreme Court had disqualified Sharif for possessing a work permit in the firm of his son in the UAE.

The apex court had also directed the NAB to investigate money laundering and other corruption charges against Sharif and his children, son-in-law Safdar and relative federal finance minister Ishaq Dar in light of the report of the Joint Investigation Team.

The NAB confirmed that Sharif and his sons have been directed to appear before NAB’s Lahore office on August 18.

The NAB said that it will take up the reference against Ishaq Dar on August 23 and summons has been issued to him in its respect.

Sharif, however, has not yet decided to appear before the NAB.

“Nawaz Sharif is considering boycotting the NAB proceedings because he thinks it is very much likely that like the Panama Papers case he may not get justice in its case as well,” a PML-N senior leader told PTI.

He said Sharif has already expressed his concern over a Supreme Court judge who is supervising the NAB’s investigation against him, fearing that he (judge) will ensure adverse verdict against him in the accountability court.

“Sharif will discuss the NAB summons with his confidants on Thursday before making a final decision about his appearance in NAB,” he added.

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White Supremacists, Neo-Nazis Cheer Donald Trump Remarks

White supremacists and neo-Nazi groups enthusiastically embraced President Donald Trump (File)

Washington:  White supremacists and neo-Nazi groups enthusiastically embraced President Donald Trump Wednesday, seeing an endorsement of their cause in his insistence that left-wing groups were also to blame for the deadly violence at a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“This man is doing absolutely everything in his power to back us up and we need to have his back,” Andrew Anglin wrote on the DailyStormer, a neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic website that acts as a hub of the extreme right.

“It’s going to be really, really hard to have any bad feelings towards Trump for a long, long time after this,” he said.

Richard Spencer, the white nationalist organizer of the “Unite the Right” rally, hailed Trump’s statement as “fair and down to earth.”

“Trump cares about the truth,” said Spencer, who added he was “proud of” the president.

Trump stunned many Americans Tuesday after he strongly condemned leftist agitators as equally responsible for the deadly violence at Saturday’s rally in Charlottesville.

Hundreds of so-called alt-right activists descended on the city armed with clubs and bats and brandishing Nazi flags and symbols, to protest plans to take down a statue of Confederate general Robert E Lee.

Violent clashes erupted between white supremacists and anti-racism counter-protesters, and a young woman was killed when a suspected Nazi sympathizer rammed his car into a crowd of demonstrators.

Trump has come under fire from other political leaders, including several former presidents, for arguing that there was “blame on both sides” at the rally organized by white supremacists.

While Trump added general condemnations of Nazis and racists, groups aligned with the alt-right movement applauded his willingness to tag the left with blame.

White nationalist and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke took to Twitter to express his appreciation.

“Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists,” he wrote.

Jack Posobiec, an alt-right figure whose comments Trump has retweeted, wrote “We [are] primetime now” and “Goodnight, Alt Left” as the president spoke to reporters from the Trump Tower in New York.

Many alt-right groups who took part in the rally have since been kicked off social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, and had their webpages shut down by hosts  enforcing policies against hate speech and threats.

But some still managed to communicate.

Trump ‘used our talking points’

After being blocked by two mainstream hosting services, DailyStormer resurfaced temporarily Wednesday on a site using a “.ru” domain indicating a possible Russian host, before being shut down again.

Anglin applauded Trump’s apparent sympathy for opponents of the removal of Lee’s statue from a Charlottesville park.

Trump “uses our talking points — that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are next after the Confederate monuments and that they’re trying to destroy our history.”

James Kirkpatrick, the head of  VDARE, an organization that seeks to restrict immigration to white Europeans, cheered Trump for focusing the blame for violence on the leftist “antifa” — short for anti-fascist — movement.

“President Donald Trump finally did what no-one in the Conservative Establishment would: calling out the Antifa (the “Alt-Left” in his words) for sparking violence at the legally-sanctioned demonstration in Charlottesville.”

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Fracking: Shale rock professor says UK gas reserves 'hyped'

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The gas reserves in shale rocks in the UK have been “hyped”, a geology professor has warned.

Prof John Underhill from Heriot-Watt University said UK shale deposits were formed 55 million years too late to trap substantial amounts of gas.

He said the government would be wise to formulate a Plan B to fracking for future gas supplies.

But the fracking firm Cuadrilla said it would determine how much gas was present from its test drilling.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique designed to recover gas and oil from shale, a sedimentary rock found worldwide.

The amount of shale gas available in the UK is acknowledged to be a great unknown.

Cuadrilla said estimates from the British Geological Survey (BGS) indicated a large potential gas reserve.

But Prof Underhill said his research on the influence of tectonic plates on the UK suggested that the shale formations have been lifted, warped and cooled by tectonic action.

These factors make shale gas production much less likely.

“The complexity of the shale gas basins hasn’t been fully appreciated so the opportunity has been hyped,” he told the BBC.

Big US deposits

This is very different from the US, where big deposits of shale gas were created in the continental heart of America, far from the movement of tectonic plates.

Prof Underhill’s comments are based on an unpublished paper on tectonics. He said he deduced the impact on shale formations by chance.

He said: “I’m neutral about fracking, so long as it doesn’t cause environmental damage. But the debate is between those who think fracking is dangerous and those who think it will help the economy – and no-one’s paying enough attention to the geology.

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Prof Underhill said UK shale basins had been partly formed by magma under Iceland

Prof Underhill said: “For fracking to work, the shale should be thick enough, sufficiently porous, and have the right mineralogy. The organic matter must have been buried to a sufficient depth and heated to the degree that it produces substantial amounts of gas or oil.”

Iceland magma

Professor Underhill said the UK had been tilted strongly by tectonic movement caused by an upward surge of magma under Iceland.

This subsequently led the shale gas basins to buckle and lift, so areas that were once buried deep with high temperatures which generated oil and gas, were then lifted to levels where they were no longer likely to generate either.

The basins were also broken into compartments by folds which created pathways that have allowed some of the oil and gas to escape, he said.

A spokesman for the BGS said it could not comment formally on Prof Underhill’s comments as it had not done the research.

‘Very large potential’

Cuadrilla’s technical director Mark Lappin told the BBC: “We have noted the BGS estimates for gas-in-place and consider that volume to be indicative of a very large potential reserve.

“It’s the purpose of our current drilling operations to better understand the reserve, reduce speculation from all sides and decide if and how to develop it.

“I expect Professor Underhill would be supportive of the effort to understand the resource including geological variation.”

The government’s opinion tracker showed public support for fracking has fallen to 16%, with opposition at 33%. But it also reported a lack of knowledge of the technology, with 48% of people neither supporting nor opposing it.

Follow Roger on Twitter @rharrabin

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Racism, Xenophobia Must Be Opposed In US, Everywhere: United Nations

Racism and xenophobia must be countered in US as everywhere in the world, Antonio Guterres said (File)

United Nations:  Racism and xenophobia must be countered in the United States as everywhere in the world, UN chief Antonio Guterres said Wednesday in response to a US political firestorm sparked by President Donald Trump.

The US commander-in-chief sparked a furious backlash Tuesday by appearing to put white nationalists and counter-demonstrators on an equal moral footing over weekend violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“I do not comment on what presidents say. I affirm principles and the principles I affirm are very clear,” the UN secretary general told reporters when asked for his reaction.

“Racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or Islamophobia are… poisoning our societies and it is absolutely essential for us all to stand up against them everywhere and every time.”

The UN chief said it was essential to “condemn all forms of irrationality” that undermine tolerance and diversity “be it in the United States or everywhere else in the world. Unfortunately these demons are appealing a little bit everywhere.”

“Whenever necessary I will say whatever I believe is necessary independently of the fact that might be not pleasant for the president of this country or any other country,” he said.

A woman was killed and 19 other people injured in Charlottesville on Saturday when a suspected white supremacist drove his car into a group of counter-protesters.

“I think there is blame on both sides,” Trump said on Tuesday. “You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent.”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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What's in a name?

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These company names aren’t so strange but others in China are a little more unusual

China has banned companies from registering weird and long names.

Last year, Beijing banned any more “bizarre” buildings. In recent years the country has seen buildings shaped like a teapot and another resembling a pair of trousers.

Now, China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce has continued the government’s crusade for normalcy with restrictions on such names as ‘scared of wife’ or ‘prehistoric powers’.

So, just how weird and wonderful are Chinese company names? Well, a few otherwise-unoccupied social media users in China have dug up some gems.

Skinny blue mushrooms

Some curiosities have crept into business names from internet memes.

“Shenyang Prehistoric Powers Hotel Management Limited Company” might sound weird but less so to Chinese sports fans who remember swimmer Fu Yuanhui.

She famously won a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics, afterwards declaring: “I have used all my prehistoric powers to swim!”

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China’s swimmer Fu Yuanhui attributed her win to her “prehistoric powers”

There are also lots of restaurants and cafes with the phrase “skinny blue mushroom”.

The phrase originated from a meme which mocked a man from Guangxi province who uploaded a video of himself talking about his loneliness while his girlfriend was away.

“Unbearable, I want to cry,” he moaned – but thanks to his accent, it ended up sounding more like “skinny blue mushroom”.

Scared of wife

One of the best known offbeat names on Chinese social media is a condom company called “Uncle Niu”.

Or, more accurately, “There Is a Group of Young People With Dreams, Who Believe They Can Make the Wonders of Life Under the Leadership of Uncle Niu Internet Technology Co Ltd.”

It’s not concise, but at least it’s positive.

Others aren’t so upbeat, especially when it comes to home life.

And given “Beijing Scared of Wife Technology Company” and “Anping County Scared of Wife Netting Products Factory” are both registered companies, the trend doesn’t seem to be limited by industry or region.

Lost in translation

The rules of written Chinese are vastly different to those of written English, so many names seem far stranger in translation than in the original tongue.

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Western company names often have no direct equivalent in Chinese

English names can seem pretty strange in Chinese too, and there’s a cottage industry among branding agencies to help western companies come up with names for the Chinese market.

Western company names often follow the name of their founder (think Boeing, Ford or Gucci), which might have no direct translation.

Or they might be a concocted portmanteau (think Verizon, which is the Latin word “veritas” meaning truth, with horizon bolted on to the end) or maybe even just tech nonsense (Etsy, Hulu).

“What we think is most important to come up with a name that captures the spirit of the brand,” says Tait Lawton, from Nanjing Marketing Group, which provides naming services.

Mighty liquid guard

Western companies sometimes try to phonetically replicate the original, or come up with a Chinese name that’s fairly neutral in meaning.

Others will come up with a new name that tries other ways of encapsulating the brand.

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A stable of treasure horses – or BMWs

“BMW’s current Chinese name is 宝马. It’s great. The first character means ‘treasure’ and the second character means ‘horse’. The sound is ‘bao ma’, starting with a B and M. Plus, it’s short. It just has a great feel to it,” says Mr Lawton.

He has a few other examples he likes too.

Pampers, for example, is 帮宝适 or “bang bao shi”, which means “helps make baby comfortable”.

Walch soap 威露士 or “wei lu shi” loosely translates as “mighty liquid guard”, and who wouldn’t want to wash with that?

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Saudi Arabia To Open Salwa Border Point To Qatari Pilgrims For Haj: SPA

Saudi Arabia said it would welcome Qatari pilgrims to perform the haj (Representational)

CAIRO:  Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it would welcome Qatari pilgrims to Saudi Arabia to perform the haj this season, amidst a feud that has triggered tensions between the two nations since June.

A statement on the official Saudi Press Agency said the Salwa border point would be open for Qatari citizens who wish to perform the annual pilgrimage to pass through with no electronic permissions needed.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates imposed sanctions on fellow U.S. ally Qatar in June and cut all transport links with the country. The four boycotting Arab states accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism, a charge which Doha denies.

The statement, which also said Qataris wishing to perform the haj would be welcome through two of the Kingdom’s airports, came after a meeting between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and Qatari Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali bin Abdullah bin Jassim al-Thani.

Qatar accused the Saudis of politicizing haj and addressed the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion last month, expressing concern about obstacles facing Qataris who want to attend haj this year.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Germany's 'hidden champions'

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Baden-Wuerttemberg has firms which are “hidden champions”, says Professor Winfried Weber

Driving along the “romantic road” between two towns in Baden-Wuerttemberg in southern Germany it’s easy to admire the lush rolling hillsides, vineyards and picturesque villages.

But peer a bit closer and you catch site of a factory.

Look harder and you discover that this area between the historic towns of Bad Mergentheim and Wertheim is dotted with medium-sized or “Mittelstand” companies.

“You don’t expect to find companies here from the heart of German world class industry but they are just in between those valleys in these hills,” says Winfried Weber, professor of management at Mannheim University of Applied Sciences.

His passion for the privately owned – often still family run – Mittelstand companies is personal.

His grandfather was a clockmaker who was forced out of business by Japanese competition in the 1950s.

Today he says his mission is to tell the story of these companies’ current success.

‘Hidden champions’

He travels the world lecturing and hosts business delegations from South Korea and China.

“I tell them don’t go to Berlin, come here to this rural province in southern Germany,” he tells me as he drives along the gently winding road.

“You find here a very high concentration of world class Mittelstand companies in relation to the population,” he says.

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Mittelstand firms often manufacture and sell niche products

About 99% of German companies are small and medium sized. There are about 3.3 million of them.

Strictly speaking, they would have fewer than 500 employees to be classed as Mittelstand, but it’s a term that goes much deeper and has come to define a business mindset.

“In Germany a lot of those small and medium sized companies are doing exports from the beginning,” Prof Weber says.

“They try to be in the forefront of innovation, and find and define a niche, and then sell on an international level.”

And the most successful ones are world market leaders in their niche sectors, which Prof Weber says are “hidden champions”.

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Prof Weber says small German firms embody “patient capitalism”

This is where he believes much of Germany’s exporting prowess stems from.

“In Germany we have only 28 of the global 500 biggest companies but we have around 48% of those small world market leaders,” Professor Weber says.

We’re on our way to meet Gabriella Koenig, managing director of Koenig & Meyer, a “hidden champion”.

Her company makes music and microphone stands. If you’re a musician you have probably used one of them.

Slim with shortly cropped dark hair, she fizzes with energy and enthusiasm.

In the car park she introduces me to her 81-year-old father and both are keen to tell me the history of the company.

Gabriella’s grandfather started the firm with a business partner in the early 1930s in eastern Germany, but after the Second World War, they moved to Wertheim in the west.

Gabriella is the third generation to take charge.

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Gabriella Koenig’s firm, which makes music stands, has three factories

She goes into a vast noisy factory full of green metal-bashing machines.

“We have almost every production process in-house to guarantee the best quality so that we can really control every step,” she says above the roar of the machines.

True to the spirit of the Mittelstand, exporting has long been vital to the company.

“Already in the 1950s Koenig & Meyer was visiting the first trade shows in Frankfurt,” she says, “and found the first international partners.”

Today the company employs 280 people in three factories and has a turnover of 38m euros (£34m; $44m).

About 60% of sales are exports to 80 countries worldwide, with 70% of their turnover in Europe.

Gabriella says customers, “accept that the product can be 15-20% more expensive than a competitive cheaper made item.”

But has the weakness of the euro helped?

“I would say yes definitely. The euro helps us, as all other Germany companies who are exporting a lot,” she says.

Trade surplus

Germany has been criticised by its trading partners for exporting much more than it imports.

Last year it had a whopping current account surplus of just under $300bn.

Wage restraint in the last fifteen years and labour market and welfare reforms are all credited with making Germany more competitive.

Another criticism levelled at Germany is that it’s not investing enough at home.

The International Monetary Fund is urging the government to spend more on public infrastructure projects, which it says would encourage German companies to invest there too, and help re-balance its global trade.

But Prof Weber says that in spite of their exporting success, the Mittelstand does face challenges.

Succession can be an issue. Gabriella doesn’t have children but says the company will stay in the family.

Finding enough skilled staff is also a challenge – Koenig & Meyer trains employees on apprenticeship schemes.

However, Gabriella says, “it gets more and more difficult nowadays to find young people who will join the company.”

While there is clearly innovation in the Mittelstand, at Koenig & Meyer they come up with 20 to 30 new products every year, they are not Silicon Valley.

Prof Weber says Germany has, “fewer IT start-ups, we have less venture capital.”

But he says the outlook is long-term and, “You can say that our capitalism is more patient capitalism”. He also believes that others can learn from the Mittelstand.

“I think that the future big company will be a little bit like many Mittelstand companies, with a more down-to-earth approach, with flatter hierarchies and more responsibility, and more flexibility for the workforce.”

Listen to “The Secrets of Germany’s Success“.

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Pakistan Begins Documentation Of Unregistered Afghans: Officials

Pakistan started documentation of around 1 million unregistered Afghan refugees (Representational)

Islamabad:  Pakistan started documentation of around 1 million unregistered Afghan refugees, Pakistani and Afghan officials said.

Pakistani officials on Wednesday said that documentation of the un-registered Afghans will enable the authorities to know the exact number of the un-registered refugees, where they live and what they do in Pakistan. They will be given cards for their identification, Xinhua news agency reported.

Officials said that 21 registration centres have been established across Pakistan, including capital Islamabad, for the  registration purpose.

Pakistan continues to host approximately 1.45 million registered refugees, according to the UN refugee agency. Around 1 million are still unregistered, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Pakistani officials.

Pakistan’s National Data Base Registration Authority is providing technical support to the government in the documentation process. Afghan government has also sent officials to monitor the process.

The registration follows three years of consultations between the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan and UNHCR.

Under  the scheme Afghans will be issued with an Afghan Citizen, or AC card  providing legal protection from arbitrary arrest, detention or  deportation under Pakistan’s Foreigner’s Act.

The documentation process is expected to be completed in six months, Pakistani officials said.

UNHCR officials welcomed the program and said it will allow Afghans to stay in Pakistan for the time being, until they can be issued documents such as passports, by the Government of Afghanistan. Afghan government has already launched the passport program for the refugees in Pakistan and Iran.

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US calls for 'major' Nafta overhaul

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Robert Lighthizer said Nafta had “failed many Americans”

The US is looking for a “major” overhaul of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), a senior US trade official said as negotiations on the pact got underway.

Mexico and Canada defended the deal on Wednesday in the first day of talks to revise the trade agreement.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said President Trump wanted changes beyond just updating the pact.

Talks between the three countries are expected to last for months.

“He is not interested in a mere tweaking of a few provisions and a couple of updated chapters,” Mr Lighthizer said in his opening remarks in Washington.

“We feel that Nafta has fundamentally failed many, many Americans and needs major improvement.”

The Nafta talks came as President Trump suffered a setback with some of the biggest US companies over his handling of violent clashes in Virginia.

Two key White House business advisory councils were disbanded on Wednesday after several bosses quit over how Mr Trump reacted to the far-right rally last weekend.

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Donald Trump has criticised car companies manufacturing vehicles in Mexico

Renegotiating Nafta was a major campaign theme for Mr Trump, who has described it as the “worst deal”. He blames it for the loss of US manufacturing jobs, a position that struck a chord with many voters.

Mexico’s Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo said he was not surprised or deterred by Mr Lighthizer’s tough posture, which is in line with earlier US statements.

The US will be seeking changes such as stronger labour provisions and stricter rules of origin, which determine where companies can say a product is made. That measure is opposed by US automakers.

The US also wants to revamp the Nafta panels used to resolve disputes.

Canada maintains that those panels – which have rejected US complaints in the past for industries such as softwood lumber – are critical.

“It’s fundamental because the commerce department [in the US] takes a lot of measures and countervailing duties which sometimes are unjust and not founded, like in softwood lumber,” Raymond Bachand, one of the Nafta negotiators on the Canadian side, told the BBC.

“Through that mechanism – which is much faster than the WTO mechanism – we win and these decisions are reversed. So they’re fundamental.”

All three sides say there is an opportunity to “modernise” the agreement to reflect new technology and online business.

Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, shared a photo of the talks on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon, saying it had been a “productive discussion … on the mutually beneficial economic relationship between Canada and the US”.

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Guatemala Hospital Shooting Kills 2 Children, 5 Adults

Seven people including two children were killed and 12 injured in a gang shooting (AFP)

Guatemala City:  Seven people including two children were killed and 12 injured in a gang shooting in a hospital in Guatemala on Wednesday, officials said.

Police said gunmen burst into the Roosevelt Hospital in Guatemala City to rescue a jailed gang member who had been transferred there for a medical appointment.

The shooters were members of the Salvatrucha gang, one of the most notorious bands terrorizing Central America.

The attackers arrived in a car and took away fellow gang member Anderson Daniel Cabrera, 29, who had been jailed for murder, said officials who asked not to be named.

Two prison guards, two hospital workers, two children and another adult were killed, officials said.

Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales condemned the attack.

“The head-on fight against organized crime is our government’s priority,” he said in an address.

National police chief Nery Ramos said officers caught five gang members involved in the attack, but the convict had not been found.

Witness Elena De Leon sobbed as she told  how she and her daughter were at the hospital for an appointment when the attackers struck. They escaped unharmed.

“I am very worried and tired of what is happening in Guatemala”, she AFP.

“People are right to feel angry and annoyed, and not to trust public officials.”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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After CEOs Exodus Over Charlottesville, Trump Disbands Business Councils

Washington/New York:  U.S. President Donald Trump disbanded two high-profile business advisory councils on Wednesday after corporate CEOs quit in protest at his remarks blaming violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, not only on white nationalists but also on the protesters who opposed them.A parade of prominent Republicans and U.S. ally Britain rebuked Trump after his Tuesday comments on Saturday’s bloodshed further enveloped his seven-month-old presidency in controversy and paralyzed his policy aims.

Trump announced the break-up of the advisory councils after 3M Co’s Inge Thulin became the latest of several chief executives to leave Trump’s American Manufacturing Council, and the president’s Strategic and Policy Forum broke up of its own will.

“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Ohio Governor John Kasich, Senator Lindsey Graham, former U.S. presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush and others took aim at the remarks by Trump that worsened deep divisions within a Republican Party that controls both chambers of Congress and the White House.

People gather for a vigil in response to the death of a counter-demonstrator, in Washington (Reuters)

A former senior Trump administration official raised the prospect that some White House officials could quit because of Trump’s comments.

“If you have some high-profile individuals leaving, you may have a whole host of high-profile individuals leaving,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

McConnell, who last week drew Trump’s ire over the Senate’s failure to pass healthcare legislation, issued a statement saying “messages of hate and bigotry” from white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups should not be welcome anywhere in the United States. McConnell’s statement did not mention Trump by name.

“We can have no tolerance for an ideology of racial hatred. There are no good neo-Nazis, and those who espouse their views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. We all have a responsibility to stand against hate and violence, wherever it raises its evil head,” McConnell said.

U.S. stocks had been trading near the day’s high when the latest trickle of CEO resignations emerged in early afternoon and the market weakened substantially.

In light of the developments, investors moved into the safety of U.S. Treasury debt, sending their yields, which move in the opposite direction to bond prices, to their lows of the day. The benchmark 10-year note yield was last down 2 basis points to yield 2.24 percent.

‘Blame on both sides’

Trump’s remarks on Tuesday were a more vehement reprisal of his initial response to Saturday’s bloodshed around a white nationalist rally.

In his comments at a heated news conference in New York on Tuesday, Trump said “there is blame on both sides” of the violence in Charlottesville, and that there were “very fine people” on both sides.

Kasich said there was no moral equivalency between the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and anybody else.

“This is terrible. The president of the United States needs to condemn these kind of hate groups,” Kasich said on NBC’s “Today” show. Failure to do so gave such organizations a sense of victory and license to hold more events elsewhere, said Kasich, one of Trump’s rivals for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential election.

In London, British Prime Minister Theresa May offered a rare rebuke of Trump by one of the United States’ closest foreign allies.

“I see no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them and I think it is important for all those in positions of responsibility to condemn far-right views wherever we hear them,” May told reporters when asked to comment on Trump’s stance.

May has been widely criticized by political opponents in Britain for her efforts to cultivate close ties with Trump since he took office in January.

Vice President Mike Pence, who is cutting short a trip to Latin America, said at a news conference in Chile that “I stand with the president and I stand by those words.”

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Susan Heavey; Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Makini Brice and Mohammad Zargham in Washington; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Frances Kerry and Howard Goller)

© Thomson Reuters 2017

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Tom Cruise's Mission Impossible Stunt Fails, Shooting Delayed

Tom Cruise was left with a badly-damaged and possibly broken ankle, US media reported (AFP)

Los Angeles:  Filming of “Mission: Impossible 6” has been delayed by up to three months after its star Tom Cruise damaged his ankle in a botched stunt, US media reported on Wednesday.The 55-year-old, known for performing his own death-defying stunts, was injured as he attempted a jump between buildings while attached to cables but fell short and slammed into a concrete wall.

US trade press reported that Cruise was left with a badly-damaged and possibly broken ankle after the accident on Saturday in central London, footage of which went viral.

“Mission: Impossible 6” — co-starring Simon Pegg, Henry Cavill, Rebecca Ferguson, Angela Bassett and Alec Baldwin — is due for release July 27 next year.

The crew has two more months of filming scheduled, according to the Hollywood Reporter, and the original October wrap date has been moved back to Christmas.

Variety magazine, citing several unnamed sources, said the delay could be as long as three months and quoted an “individual close to the production” who said Cruise may have broken his ankle in two places and hurt his hip.

Paramount, the studio distributing the film, and Cruise’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment and it was not clear how any delay would affect the rest of the cast.

Cruise is admired in the industry for his adventurous attitude to filmmaking, which over the years has involved some hair-raising moments on set.

Cruise’s co-stars in summer blockbuster “The Mummy” revealed earlier this year the actor is not just single-minded when it comes to do doing his own stunts, but cajoles his fellow cast members to get involved too.

Annabelle Wallis told the CinemaCon convention in March the star convinced her to join him in a terrifying zero gravity plane crash stunt, when the scene could easily have been filmed in front of a green screen.  

The shoot involved 64 takes simulating zero gravity during four high altitude flights over two days.

“Tom is renowned for making sure that the audience gets the most out of their cinematic experience,” Wallis, 32, told an audience at the annual Las Vegas gathering.

“We jump off buildings and towns explode, and Tom really does it all, and he insists his cast do it too,” added Jake Johnson, 39, who plays Cruise’s sidekick in “The Mummy.”

“Yes, I got hurt. My character dies, I almost died. We’d do a stunt and it would hurt, and I’m like, ‘I think something went wrong because it hurt’ and he’d go ‘Well yeah — we jumped off a building, dummy.'”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Nokia 8 smartphone takes 'bothie' videos

The latest Nokia smartphone aims to popularise the idea of filming “bothies”.

The device can capture video from both its front and rear-facing cameras at the same time, and broadcast the images side-by-side to YouTube and other livestreaming services.

The aluminium-shelled Nokia 8 costs about 600 euros ($703; £547).

The BBC’s technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones asked whether it is distinctive enough to stand out from other high-end rivals.

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Marine survey firm Gardline sold to Royal Boskalis Westminster

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Gardline operates 40 vessels, including crew transfer ships and survey catamarans

A British family-owned marine services company has been sold outright in a deal worth £40m.

Norfolk-based Gardline, founded by the Darling family in 1969, employs 750 people and has been bought by Dutch firm, Royal Boskalis Westminster.

Gardline’s activities include marine geophysical surveys, offshore geotechnical services and environmental surveys.

Boskalis has taken on the firm’s debts, which also amount to £40m.

In a joint statement, the firms said there were “significant synergies” between them.

Gardline operates 40 vessels, including crew transfer ships and survey catamarans.

Its head offices are in Great Yarmouth, with further activities in the USA, Brazil and Singapore.

Boskalis has a fleet of more than 900 vessels and floating equipment and 11,700 employees, operating in more than 90 countries across six continents.

“With the acquisition, Boskalis strengthens its position as marine services provider in north-west Europe,” it said.

Gardline’s profits have fallen in recent years, and Boskalis said the company had suffered from the downturn in oil and gas.

It said it was not forecasting Gardline’s finances would be turned around in the short-term but that the acquisition “positions Boskalis well for when end-markets recover”.

Earlier this month, Gardline secured contracts worth £6m with Scottish Power Renewables to carry out a range of pre-construction surveys across East Anglia offshore wind farm sites.

Boskalis has yet to respond to questions on whether jobs will be affected by the takeover.

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National Minimum Wage: Workers win £2m compensation

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Argos has already admitted failing to pay the minimum wage

Workers whose bosses failed to pay the National Minimum Wage (NMW) are to be refunded a record £2m, the government has revealed.

In its latest “name and shame” campaign, it lists 230 employers which have not complied with the law.

In total 13,000 employees have received – or will receive – compensation for their loss of pay.

Among the worst offenders were hairdressers and beauty treatment businesses, involving around 60 firms.

Around 50 employers in the hospitality sector – including two fish and chip shops – were fined for not paying the NMW, or the National Living Wage for those aged over 25.


However the largest fine, of £800,000, was levied on Argos.

In February Argo admitted failing to pay 37,000 staff an average of £64 each. However, only a third of those are included in the latest figures, as the others were no longer working for the company at the time.

Employees had been required to attend briefings before their shifts started, but without being paid. They also had to undergo security searches after their shifts ended.

Sainsbury’s, which bought Argos a year ago, has already apologised for the mistake.

“I am pleased to say the issue was resolved quickly, and processes have been updated to ensure this cannot happen again,” said John Rogers, the chief executive of Argos.


Despite the government’s apparent success in cracking down on pay, it is thought that hundreds of thousands of workers are still not getting their legal entitlement.

In October last year the Office for National Statistics (ONS) put the figure at 362,000.

The TUC said the problem was still far from being solved.

“We know there are more wage-dodging employers out there,” said Frances O’Grady, the TUC’s general secretary. “TUC research suggests there are at least a quarter of a million workers being cheated out of the minimum wage.”

The current rate for the National Living Wage is £7.50 per hour.

The adult rate for the National Minimum Wage is £7.05 for those between 21 and 24.

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Amazon launches Instant Pickup service targeting students

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Amazon is offering certain “essential” items for pickup from self-service lockers within two minutes

Amazon has launched a service in the US offering daily “essentials” for collection within two minutes of ordering.

The items available in Instant Pickup include snacks, cold drinks, smartphone chargers and Amazon devices.

The move poses a threat to bricks-and-mortar convenience stores, but one expert questioned its appeal.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has criticised Amazon on Twitter for harming other retailers.

Instant Pickup

The new service will enable Prime and Prime Student members to use the Amazon app to order items they need urgently from a curated collection of popular products.

Amazon employees at the pickup points then process the order, and it will be available to collect from a self-service locker within two minutes.

For now, the service will be available at only one location in each of:

  • Los Angeles
  • Berkeley
  • Atlanta
  • Ohio
  • College Park, Maryland

The online retail giant already operates 22 manned pickup locations on or near university campuses in the country.

Moving offline

Over the past two years, Amazon has been making an increasing play for offline bricks-and-mortar shops – from the physical book shop Amazon Books, launched in Seattle in 2015, to its acquisition of the grocery chain Whole Foods in June.

“They’re making a play for convenience stores, but ultimately, you have to think of the logistics involved,” Ronan Hegarty, news editor of the Grocer magazine, told the BBC.

“How many people would live within two minutes of the pickup point, and would they really want to do this? To me, it sounds fantastic.

“You might actually pass a shop selling [what you need] on the way to the pickup point.

“I don’t think it’s going to stop a chain like 7-Eleven in its tracks just yet.”

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On Wednesday, the president tweeted: “Amazon is doing great damage to tax paying retailers. Towns, cities and states throughout the US are being hurt – many jobs being lost!”

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Two more bosses quit White House panel

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Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup Co was the eighth person to resign from a White House business panel

Two more executives have resigned from a White House business council, amid controversy over President Donald Trump’s reaction to violent clashes in Virginia last weekend.

Inge Thulin of manufacturer 3M and Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup Co announced their decisions on Wednesday.

Seven groups have withdrawn after the far-right rally in Charlottesville.

Businesses have been under pressure to distance themselves from Mr Trump over his handling of the clashes.

He did not swiftly condemn the white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups that rallied in Charlottesville, and on Tuesday appeared to defend the rally’s organisers.

Mr Trump has dismissed the resignations, saying executives are “not taking their jobs seriously as it pertains to this country”.

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UK Working Closely With India In Tackling Terrorism: Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson said that Jaguar produced by Tatas is a triumph of modern India. (File Photo)

London:  The United Kingdom is working closely with India in tackling terrorism and extremism, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said.

“We are sharing information with India in tackling the scourge of terrorism and extremism,” he said while speaking at a dinner hosted by the Indian Journalists’ Association in London last night to celebrate India’s 71st Independence Day.

Referring to the UK-India defence cooperation in producing the Hawk Jetliners in Bengaluru, he said, “We are working ever more closely with India than in the past.”

“Our relationship is much more than trade and export of whisky. Our relationship is about to ensure safety, security and freedom in the Asian region,” he said.

Johnson said that Jaguar produced by Tatas is a triumph of modern India.

India’s High Commissioner to the UK Y K Sinha suggested that there could still be greater cooperation “if you bring down the price of Hawk”.

With Britain (poised) to exit from the European Union “there is greater opportunity for trade with India and it will be a win-win situation for both countries,” he said.

He noted that the dialogue has already started and a lot of UK ministers have gone to India and quite a few Indian ministers are coming here.

“There are differences on issues like Visas but they are surmountable,” Mr Sinha added.

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Dulux owner Akzo Nobel strikes truce with activist investor

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An activist investor hedge fund has agreed to halt its long-running feud with Dulux paint owner AkzoNobel.

US hedge fund Elliott Advisors reached a “standstill” agreement after clashing with Akzo over the way the company should be run.

The feuding was fuelled by a failed 27bn euro (£23bn) takeover bid for Akzo, which its management rejected.

Elliott has agreed to suspend legal action against the Dutch firm and back Akzo’s plans to improve the business.

Gordon Singer, the boss of Elliott’s UK division, said it was pleased to come to an agreement with Akzo.

In May, the hedge fund made a legal bid to force the removal of Akzo’s chairman, Antony Burgmans, after the firm refused to enter takeover talks with US rival PPG Industries.

PPG walked away from its bid in June and Akzo is now pursuing plans to strengthen its business, which include selling its chemicals division.

Mr Burgmans said he was “pleased our recent constructive discussions with Elliott improved understanding between both parties”.

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Elliott has also agreed to back new chief executive, Thierry Vanlancker, at a shareholder meeting on 8 September.

The hedge fund oversees about $30bn (£23.5bn) of assets and has a reputation as a no-holds-barred activist investor.

The firm, founded by billionaire Paul Singer, is notorious for pursuing Argentine debt for more than a decade, seizing one of the country’s naval ships while it was docked in Africa.

Separately, Elliott has increased its stake in mining firm BHP Billiton as it looks to force the company to sell its US shale business.

Elliott took its holding in BHP to 5% in a bid to keep the commodities giant “accountable for delivering results”.

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Hizbul Mujahideen Designated As Foreign Terrorist Group by US

The move comes two months after the US declared Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist. (File photo)

Washington:  The United States has added the Hizbul Mujahideen to its blacklist of terrorist organisations today. US authorities had already designated the Kashmiri group’s leader, Syed Salahuddin, a “global terrorist”, but he operates freely in in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. 

The State Department designation bans US citizens and residents from dealing with the group and any assets found to belong to the Hizbul Mujahideen in areas under US jurisdiction will be frozen.

“Today’s action notifies the US public and the international community that HM is a terrorist organization,” the department said.

“These designations seek to deny HM (Hizbul Mujahideen) the resources it needs to carry out terrorist attacks,” it added.

In announcing the designation, the State Department said the group had claimed responsibility for several deadly attacks in Jammu and Kashmir. 

Last month, the United States designated the group’s leader Salahuddin a terrorist. Pakistan denounced the move.

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Game of Thrones struck by fresh leak

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HBO’s Spanish and Nordic offshoots streamed the episode early

Game of Thrones’s next episode has been pirated and shared online in the latest leak to hit the fantasy TV series.

However, this time, the source of the leak was not hackers or thieves, but rather the show being mistakenly released on to its broadcaster’s streaming platform too early.

The episode, titled Death is the Enemy, has since been withdrawn, but not before it was copied.

Twin Peaks suffered a similar error recently.

A spokesman for HBO Europe blamed an unnamed contractor for the most recent blunder.

“We have learned that the upcoming episode of Game of Thrones was accidentally posted for a brief time on the HBO Nordic and HBO Espana platforms,” Tom Krogsgaard Nielsen told the BBC.

“The error appears to have originated with a third-party vendor, and the episode was removed as soon as it was recognised.

“This is not connected to the recent cyber-incident at HBO in the US.”

Reports indicate that high-definition footage from the episode was initially posted to YouTube, the Daily Motion, Instagram and other social media sites.

Although it has since been removed, different copies of the complete 66-minute show are still being shared on several file-sharing platforms, according to the news site Torrentfreak.

Stolen shows

HBO has suffered a series of security setbacks over recent weeks.

Unidentified hackers have released Game of Thrones scripts, company documents and unbroadcast video episodes of some of HBO’s other shows, including Curb Your Enthusiasm and Insecure.

They claim to have stolen 1.5TB of data in total.

In a separate incident, pirated copies of the 6 August episode of Game of Thrones were spotted online several days earlier in the week, featuring an Indian broadcaster’s logo.

Four people have since been arrested, three of whom work for a Mumbai-based company that stored and processed the show for an online streaming service.

Not what it seemed

HBO is not the only broadcaster to have been caught out by its own technology.

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Director David Lynch has declined to provide previews of Twin Peaks episodes (pictured) to the press, to help avoid details leaking

Sky Deutschland accidentally uploaded episode 14 of Twin Peaks: The Return to its streaming platform on 7 August, instead of episode 13.

It blamed “wrong labelling of the broadcasting file” for the error, which is somewhat ironic as one of the themes of the series is mistaken identities.

Although some viewers shared spoilers and screengrabs to Reddit, reports at the time suggested the episode had not been pirated as a consequence.

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Amazon to open new Severn Beach warehouse in 2018

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The new warehouse will open in Severn Beach near Bristol

Online retail giant Amazon is to open a new warehouse near Bristol in 2018 which it says will create 1,000 jobs.

Amazon’s Stefano Perago said: “Bristol offers fantastic infrastructure and talented local people who we look forward to joining the Amazon team.”

The new warehouse will open at Severn Beach adding to its 13 sites in the UK.

The firm was exposed in a BBC documentary for its treatment of its delivery drivers on long hours, low pay and driving longer than legal limits.

The online retail giant says it will start recruiting engineers, operations managers, HR and IT specialists in 2018 ahead of the Severn Beach site’s opening next year.

‘Customer demand’

Other new warehouses are set to open in Doncaster, Warrington and Tilbury this autumn. The firm’s UK workforce will total 24,000 by the end of this year.

The decision to launch a Bristol site was driven by “increasing customer demand”, Amazon said.

It added the move would expand its selection and support small businesses using its online Marketplace and help these small businesses grow.

Filton and Bradley Stoke MP Jack Lopresti said: “This will bring more jobs to our area and offer careers with training opportunities, helping the local economy to grow.

“An international outward-looking company like Amazon will help us maximise the fantastic opportunities for our region after Brexit.”

Amazon made headlines earlier this month when it was found to have paid 50% less UK corporation tax last year, despite a 54% jump in turnover.

Accounts filed by Amazon UK Services show the company was billed £15.8 million in 2015 compared with £7.4 million in 2016.

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Ryanair accuses Lufthansa of Air Berlin 'conspiracy'

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Ryanair has accused Lufthansa and the German government of conspiring to carve up collapsed airline Air Berlin.

Air Berlin filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday, after the Abu Dhabi-based airline Etihad ended its financial support for the airline.

However, Air Berlin planes are still flying, thanks to a €150m German government loan.

Ryanair said there was an “obvious conspiracy” between Germany, Lufthansa and Air Berlin to carve up the assets.

Air Berlin’s passenger numbers have been in freefall. Last month the airline – Germany’s second-biggest carrier – lost a quarter of its customers compared with July last year.

Germany’s economy minister, Brigitte Zypries, said that a deal whereby Lufthansa took over part of the insolvent airline should be struck in the next few months.

Ryanair said: “This manufactured insolvency is clearly being set up to allow Lufthansa to take over a debt-free Air Berlin which will be in breach of all known German and EU competition rules.

“Now even the German government is supporting this Lufthansa-led monopoly with 150m euros of state aid so that Lufthansa can acquire Air Berlin and drive domestic air fares in Germany even higher than they already are.”

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Ryanair has lodged competition complaints with the German regulator, the Bundeskartellamt, and the European Commission.

Lufthansa said it was already in negotiations with Air Berlin to take over parts of the company and is exploring the possibility of hiring additional staff. “Lufthansa intends to conclude these negotiations successfully in due time.”

Ryanair has in the past made other criticisms of the relationship between Air Berlin and Lufthansa.

Lufthansa has been operating 38 Air Berlin Airbus jets on its behalf under a “wet lease” arrangement. In January Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary described the deal as a “joke”.

He told the German magazine WirtschaftsWoche that the deal was “a takeover with the aim of dominating the market. Lufthansa controls the capacities of its most important competitor, sets the prices and decides where aircraft will start. The German authorities are doing nothing”.

More competition

However, the demise of Air Berlin could open up the German market to more competition.

Ryanair and EasyJet have only managed to get a toehold at airports such as Berlin, Cologne/Bonn, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt.

Gerald Khoo, transport analyst at Liberium Capital, said: “Based on August schedules, Germany currently represents just 9% of EasyJet’s capacity and 7% of Ryanair’s, compared with 76% of Lufthansa’s, highlighting the relative importance of that market to each carrier.”

Ryanair has been targeting the German market, with new routes to and from Frankfurt.

Mr Khooo said: “We would expect German airports to move up the list of priorities for next summer for both major low cost carriers, whether or not they attempt to pick up assets and/or staff from Air Berlin’s bankruptcy process.”

Reuters reported on Tuesday that Easyjet was in talks to buy assets from Air Berlin. EasyJet declined to comment.

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In Rare Rebuke Of Trump, UK's Theresa May Says Condemn Far-Right Views

Theresa May’s remark was a rare rebuke of Donald Trump by his closest foreign ally (Reuters)

London:  British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday there was no equivalence between fascists and those who opposed them, a rare rebuke of U.S. President Donald Trump by one of his closest foreign allies.Trump inflamed tensions after a deadly rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, by insisting that counter-protesters were also to blame, drawing condemnation from some Republican leaders and praise from white far-right groups.

“There’s no equivalence, I see no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them and I think it is important for all those in positions of responsibility to condemn far-right views wherever we hear them,” May told reporters when asked to comment on Trump’s stance.

On Monday, May’s spokesman had said that while Britain condemned racism, what the U.S. president said was “a matter for him”.

May has been widely criticised by domestic political opponents for her efforts to cultivate close ties with Trump, who she visited at the White House days after his inauguration and invited for a state visit to Britain.

Her openly critical comment on Wednesday was an unexpected shift from May, who is keen to cement what she and many other Britons see as a “special relationship” between London and Washington as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.

The invitation to Trump to make a state visit to Britain sparked immediate controversy in Britain when the U.S. head of state announced his widely-criticised ban on travel from Muslim-majority countries just hours after May left the White House.

Trump’s stance on the Charlottesville violence drew renewed calls for Trump’s state visit, which would be hosted by Queen Elizabeth and involve lavish pageantry, to be cancelled. May had rejected similar calls after previous Trump-related controversies.

“Donald Trump has shown he is unable to detach himself from the extreme-right and racial supremacists,” said Vince Cable, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrats.

“It would be completely wrong to have this man visit the UK on a State Visit.”

No date has been announced for the visit.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout, editing by Estelle Shirbon)

© Thomson Reuters 2017

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Scottish Parliament targeted in 'brute force' cyber attack

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MSPs have discussed cyber security on several occasions recently

The Scottish Parliament has been targeted by a “brute force” cyber attack, officials have said.

Chief executive Sir Paul Grice said the attack, from “external sources”, was similar to that which affected Westminster in June.

He confirmed the attack in a message to MSPs and staff with parliamentary email addresses, urging them to be vigilant.

Mr Grice said “robust cyber security measures” identified the attack early, and systems “remain fully operational”.

Scottish NHS boards were also affected by a cyber-attack in May, leading to several discussions of cyber security at Holyrood.

Parliamentary corporate body member David Stewart told MSPs in June that an independent review of “cyber security maturity” had been carried out, and had “offered assurance that sufficient and effective arrangements are in place to manage cyber threats and risks”.

He added that parliament regularly takes advice from the police, the security services and the national cyber security centre.

‘Brute force’

A “brute force” attack involves hackers repeatedly trying to access systems using a range of different passwords, in the hope of effectively guessing the correct password through trial and error.

Mr Grice’s email urged MSPs and staff to make sure their passwords were as secure as possible, saying that the parliament’s IT team would “force a change to weak passwords as an additional security measure”.

He wrote: “The parliament’s monitoring systems have identified that we are currently the subject of a brute force cyber attack from external sources.

“This attack appears to be targeting parliamentary IT accounts in a similar way to that which affected the Westminster parliament in June. Symptoms of the attack include account lockouts or failed logins.

“The parliament’s robust cyber security measures identified this attack at an early stage and the additional security measures which we have in readiness for such situations have already been invoked. Our IT systems remain fully operational.”

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'Dragon Captured' As Cargo Arrives At International Space Station

It is the 12th mission for SpaceX under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA (AFP)

Miami:  SpaceX’s unmanned Dragon cargo vessel, carrying the first super-computer to space as part of its 6,400 pound (2,900 kilograms) payload arrived Wednesday at the International Space Station.

“And that is confirmed capture,” said a NASA commentator as space station’s robotic arm grabbed the spaceship at 6:52 am (1052 GMT).

The spaceship blasted off Monday from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying food, science experiments and other gear for the astronauts living in orbit.

It is the 12th mission for SpaceX under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA.

A key part of the cargo is a sophisticated supercomputer made by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), called The Spaceborne Computer.

Researchers want to see if the computer can survive the harsh conditions of space, and whether it could one day help astronauts navigate long missions in deep space, whether around the Moon or to Mars.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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App iTrump wins trademark fight against Trump Organization

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iTrump was a follow-up app to iBone, a trombone simulator

An app developer appears to have prevailed in a long-running trademark war against the US president’s business operation.

The creator of iTrump first clashed with the Trump Organization in January 2011, when the billionaire’s lawyers alleged the trumpet simulator’s name falsely suggested a link to the tycoon.

After defeating this claim, the developer then went on the attack.

And this resulted in the company losing a key trademark of its own last week.

On 11 August, the US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board cancelled the New York-headquartered company’s exclusive right to use “Trump” in relation to entertainment services, including reality TV shows.

The ruling followed earlier victories by San Francisco-based Tom Scharfeld, in which he prevented the Trump Organization from owning the exclusive right to use “Trump” in connection with computer games, golf-related mobile apps and music streaming.

What are trademarks?

Trademarks are the distinctive name or symbol used to identity a product made by a manufacturer or a good distributed by a dealer.

Trademark law is generally concerned with avoiding consumer confusion regarding the origin or manufacturer of a product.

To trademark an existing word, the applicant needs to demonstrate they have given it new meaning and that there would not be grounds for confusion with other marks.

The Bloomberg news agency was first to report last week’s development.

It brings to an end the legal action between Mr Scharfeld’s company Spoonjack and the US president’s conglomerate, assuming neither side launches a fresh claim.

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Donald Trump passed control of his business to his two eldest sons after becoming the US president

Mr Scharfeld had represented himself, which required teaching himself about trademark law.

He told Bloomberg that he believed Mr Trump’s legal team “didn’t seem to respect that I could do this”.

“I just wanted to be treated fairly,” he said.

He added that he now planned to spend more of his time marketing his music apps rather than defending them.

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UK's Biggest Warship Sails Into Home Port For First Time

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy (Reuters)

Portsmouth:  Britain’s most advanced and biggest warship, the 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, berthed for the first time at its home port of Portsmouth on Tuesday.

The 280-metre (920-foot) vessel entered the harbour on England’s southern coast at 0610 GMT, greeted by thousands of spectators.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy, according to the Ministry of Defence.

“Today we welcome our mighty new warship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, to her home for the very first time,” said Defence Secretary Michael Fallon. “She is Britain’s statement to the world: a demonstration of British military power and our commitment to a bigger global role.”

The ship is currently undergoing sea trials. It cannot yet deploy planes, but flying trials from its deck are due to begin in 2018.

It took eight years to build HMS Queen Elizabeth, with construction taking place in six cities and involving 10,000 people.

Along with its sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, it is part of a defence programme worth 6 billion pounds ($7.65 billion).

Commanding officer Captain Jerry Kyd told the BBC that the carrier “sends the right signals to our allies and indeed potentially to our enemies that we mean business.”

© Thomson Reuters 2017

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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North Korea's Move To Stop Guam Missile Test 'Wise' Decision: Trump

Trump said last week by warning North Korea it faced “fire and fury” if threat continued. (File)

North Korea:  US President Donald Trump on Wednesday praised North Korea’s leader for backing off on plans to fire missiles toward the US Pacific territory of Guam.

“Kim Jong-Un of North Korea made a very wise and well reasoned decision. The alternative would have been both catastrophic and unacceptable!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Trump stunned the world last week by warning North Korea it faced “fire and fury” if it continued to threaten the US or its allies with its ballistic missile program. His impromptu comments while on vacation in New Jersey were interpreted as raising the prospect of a US nuclear attack against North Korea.

The unpredictable and isolated North Korean leader on Tuesday had been briefed by his missile forces on a “plan for an enveloping fire at Guam,” according to the North’s official KCNA news agency.

But afterward, according to KCNA, he decided to postpone the operation to “watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees” and not to go ahead unless the US commits more “reckless actions.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said after Kim postponed the threat that Washington remains ready for talks.

But he added that would be up to Kim when such negotiations would begin.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Uber privacy audits after 'God View' row

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Uber has agreed to 20 years of privacy audits to settle FTC charges over how it handles customer and driver data

Uber has been ordered to introduce tougher measures to protect the privacy of its drivers and their customers, to settle charges brought by a regulator.

It also had to agree to have the effectiveness of the stricter controls assessed by an independent auditor every two years for the next 20 years.

The charges relate to God View, a software program that enabled the ride-sharing company to monitor real-time locations of customers and drivers.

Uber faces fines if it fails to comply.

The US Federal Trade Commission began investigating Uber following allegations about the God View program in the media in 2014.

After the investigation started, Uber developed an automated system for monitoring employee access to customer and driver personal data.

However, the FTC said the company had stopped using it eight months after it had been put in place.

Concerns were also raised over a 2015 breach that exposed personal data about more than 100,000 Uber drivers.

“Uber failed consumers in two key ways: first by misrepresenting the extent to which it monitored its employees’ access to personal information about users and drivers, and second by misrepresenting that it took reasonable steps to secure that data,” said FTC acting chairman Maureen Ohlhausen, who presided over the settlement.

“Our order requires a culture of privacy sensitivity for Uber.

“It is going to make them take privacy into account every day.”

Uber said it was pleased that the FTC investigation had ended.

“We have significantly strengthened our privacy and data security practices since then and will continue to invest heavily in these programmes,” an Uber representative said.

Comparitech security researcher Lee Munson said: “While such an agreement with the FTC may sound incredibly arduous, Uber will probably benefit from a necessary change in approach which will stand it in good stead for the incoming EU General Data Protection Regulation, which threatens stiff penalties for companies that are lax with employee and customer data.”

Fines and lawsuits

Apart from the FTC investigation, Uber was also sued by the New York attorney general over the God View allegations.

And, in January 2016, Uber agreed to encrypt all rider geo-location data, as well as to pay a penalty of $20m (£16m) to settle concerns over how it had handled the data breach.

One year later, the FTC ordered Uber to pay a further $20m over claims the company had misled drivers about the potential income they could earn.

Separately, Uber’s former forensic investigator Ward Spangenberg has been suing the company over alleged age discrimination and whistleblower retaliation.

In a court declaration from December 2016, Mr Spangenberg alleged that Uber had let its employees spy on celebrities and ex-partners.

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Ex-Pak PM Nawaz Sharif Files Plea In Supreme Court Challenging Ouster

Nawaz Sharif was the 15th Pakistani PM who was sacked before completing a full term (Reuters)

Islamabad:  Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has hit back against his ouster by the Supreme Court over corruption allegations, demanding a review of his case.The Supreme Court sacked Sharif last month following an investigation into corruption allegations against him and his family, making him the 15th premier in Pakistan’s 70-year history to be sacked before completing a full term.

The allegations against the prime minister spiralled from the Panama Papers leak last year, which sparked a media frenzy over the lavish lifestyles and luxury London property portfolio of the Sharif dynasty.

In a lengthy petition demanding that his case be reviewed, Sharif’s legal team laid out 19 points challenging the court’s judgement, saying the ruling suffered “from errors floating on the surface”. 

“The petitioner seeks review of the final order of the court,” read the application filed late Tuesday, according to a copy seen by AFP.

Saad Rasool, a Pakistani lawyer and constitutional expert, said the chance of the petition succeeding and Sharif being reinstated were slim.

“Reversing the judgement is close to impossible,” Rasool told AFP.

“According to Pakistani laws and rules of the Supreme Court, the same exact bench reviews the petition.”

The Supreme Court has also ordered the country’s anti-corruption watchdog, the National Accountability Bureau, to open a criminal case against Sharif, his sons — Hussain and Hassan — and his daughter Maryam.

Last week Sharif led a defiant crowd of supporters from the capital, Islamabad, to his hometown, Lahore, in a days-long procession that brought thousands into the streets in a show of force.

During the trip Sharif repeatedly lambasted the court’s ruling, saying the decision was an “insult” to Pakistanis.

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China Angered At US Criticism Of Religious Freedom, Says US Not Perfect

Chinese Foreign Ministry said China fully respected freedom of religion and belief.

BEIJING:  China hit back on Wednesday at criticism by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of its record on religious freedom, saying the United States was not perfect and should be looking after its own affairs rather than making baseless accusations.

Tillerson, speaking at the State Department while introducing the agency’s annual report on religious freedom, said the Chinese government tortures and imprisons thousands for their religious beliefs, citing the targeting of Falun Gong members, Uighur Muslims and Tibetan Buddhists.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China fully respected and protected freedom of religion and belief.

“The so-called U.S. report ignores the facts, confuses right and wrong and makes wanton criticism of China’s religious freedom situation,” she told a daily news briefing.

“China is resolutely opposed to this and has lodged solemn representations with the U.S. side.”

The United States would do better to look at its own problems, Hua added.

“Everyone has seen that the facts prove the United States is not totally perfect,” she said, without providing any examples.

“We urge the United States to respect the facts and properly manage its own affairs, and stop using the wrong means of the so-called religious freedom issue to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.”

State news agency Xinhua said in an English-language commentary the violence at a weekend rally by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, meant the United States should reflect on its own problems before pointing the finger at China.

“Against the backdrop of the recent clash between white supremacists and their opponents, the U.S. accusations against China simply lay bare the double standard it employs,” it said.

“The violence highlighted the danger of racism, which is a serious problem in a still divided U.S. society,” Xinhua added.”Despite its self-proclaimed role as the world’s human rights champion, the fact is the world’s sole superpower is far from becoming a respected role model in this regard.”

The violence erupted on Saturday after white nationalists converged in Charlottesville for a “Unite the Right” rally to protest against plans to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, commander of the pro-slavery Confederate army during the U.S. Civil War.
Many of the rally participants were seen carrying firearms, sticks and shields. Some also wore helmets. Counter-protesters likewise came equipped with sticks, helmets and shields.

The two sides clashed in scattered street brawls before a car ploughed into the rally opponents, killing a woman and injuring 19. A 20-year-old Ohio man, James Fields, said to have harboured Nazi sympathies, was charged with murder.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Daniel Craig confirms he'll play James Bond again

Daniel Craig says he is coming back as James Bond.

The actor was asked whether he will play the secret agent again during his appearance on US chat show The Late Show.

“Yes,” Daniel Craig told host Stephen Colbert, before standing up to shake his hand.

The actor, who has played 007 in the past four Bond films, has until now refused to say whether he will do it again.

But on the show he revealed he’s known for a “couple of months”.

“We’ve been discussing it, we’ve just been trying to figure things out,” he said. “I always wanted to, I needed a break.”

The next Bond film, the 25th in the series, is due out in November 2019.

Daniel Craig

He said it will be his last outing as the spy.

“”I think this is it. I just want to go out on a high note, and I can’t wait.”

The 49-year-old was still refusing to confirm speculation about it as late as Tuesday.

Lea Seydoux and Daniel Craig

“No decision has been made,” he told Boston radio station Magic 106.7.

“I know they’re desperate to get going and I would in theory love to do it, but there is no decision just yet.”

In 2015 he caused controversy for saying he’d “rather slash [his] wrists” than make a fifth Bond film, a statement for which he later apologised.

Daniel Craig is the seventh actor to play James Bond on film.

Pierce Brosnan played Bond four times before the role went to Daniel Craig in 2006

Image caption Pierce Brosnan played Bond four times before the role went to Daniel Craig in 2006

Scottish star Sean Connery first took on the role in 1962 and played him seven times, ending with Never Say Never Again in 1983.

Roger Moore matched that total, between 1973 and 1985.

David Niven and George Lazenby each played him once during the 1960s, while two films were released with Timothy Dalton in the lead role, The Living Daylights (1987) and Licence to Kill (1989).

Daniel succeeded Pierce Brosnan as Bond and made his debut in Casino Royale in 2006.

He has since played the spy in Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015).

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US-Japan Conduct Air Drills As North Korea Watches Next Move By 'Yankees

A member of the US Marines during the joint exercise with Japan Ground Self Defense Force (Reuters)

Tokyo:  Japanese jets conducted air manoeuvres with US bombers southwest of the Korean peninsula on Wednesday as North Korea considered whether to fire missiles towards the US-administered territory of Guam.

Reclusive North Korea has made no secret of its plans to develop a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and of reaching the United States to counter what it perceives as constant US threats of invasion – such as US war drills with neighbouring South Korea and Japan.

It has ignored warnings from the West and from its lone major ally, China, to halt its nuclear and missile tests which it conducts in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.

The exercise in the East China Sea involved two US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flying from Andersen Air Force Base on the Pacific island of Guam and two Japanese F-15 jet fighters, Japan’s Air Self Defence Force said in a news release.

“These training flights with Japan demonstrate the solidarity and resolve we share with our allies to preserve peace and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific,” the US Air Force said in an announcement.

The US planes, which were designed to carry nuclear bombs and later switched to conventional payloads, have flown several sorties in East Asia over the past several weeks. In addition to air drills with Japanese fighters, the bombers have also exercised with South Korean aircraft.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delayed a decision on firing missiles towards Guam and US officials have since taken a gentler tone, but tension in the region nonetheless remains high.

The North Korean threats had prompted US President Donald Trump to say the US military was “locked and loaded” if North Korea acted unwisely. Those words in turn prompted a warning from China for both sides to tone down the shrill rhetoric.

North Korea has often threatened to attack the United States and its bases and is likely to be infuriated by the current manoeuvres and US-Japanese annual joint military drills next week.

In his first public appearance in about two weeks, Kim on Monday inspected the command of the North’s army, examining the plan to fire four missiles aimed at landing near Guam, the official KCNA news agency reported.

“He said that if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean peninsula and in its vicinity, testing the self-restraint of the DPRK, the latter will make an important decision as it already declared,” KCNA said.

The DPRK stands for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Wednesday’s air exercise took place close to Japanese-controlled islets in the East China Sea which are also claimed by China. The uninhabited territory is known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

While the US has declined to take sides in the spat over sovereignty, it nonetheless has said it would defend the islands from attack under its security alliance with Japan.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in a telephone conversation with Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s minister for foreign affairs, said tensions on the Korean peninsula were showing some signs of easing but had not passed.

The parties involved should “make a correct judgment and wise choice by taking a responsible attitude toward history and people”, Wang said, according to a statement on the Chinese foreign ministry’s website.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Is the wages puzzle getting less puzzling?

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For months now, economists have been struggling with what they call the “wages puzzle”.

Conventional economic theory says if unemployment gets low enough, wages will take off – with inflation following close behind.

The general idea is that when labour markets are tight, workers’ bargaining power is increased.

Therefore employees can demand wages that beat their expectations for inflation.

Until recently it was painfully obvious that that wasn’t happening. The rate of unemployment kept hitting 40-year lows but wages kept sagging.

On Wednesday the wage optimists were given something to cling on to. Unemployment hit 4.4% in the second quarter of the year, the lowest – once again – since the mid-1970s.

But, against expectations, pay rises improved, up by 2.1% (excluding bonuses) compared with a consensus prediction of 2%. Maybe the economic theory was right after all – and pay is now ticking up because labour markets are tight.

It remains, however, a long way short of what would be required to trigger the sort of wage-price spiral about which central bankers have been hyper-vigilant since the 1970s.

That employees are prepared to accept wages that shrink by a tiny bit less than they did the last time these figures came out does not exactly bespeak a dramatic new assertion of workers’ bargaining power.

Bank of England hawks

With inflation on the official CPI measure at 2.6%, wages are still shrinking in real terms – by 0.5%. And pay rises averaging 2.1% compares to 2.8% as recently as November last year. Not much ammunition there for the hawks on the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee who would like to raise interest rates sooner rather than later.

But it does look like deeper changes in the labour market are afoot. With the weaker pound, it is in theory less worthwhile than it used to be for workers to come to the UK from elsewhere in the EU to earn pounds, sending them home to convert into Polish zlotys or Bulgarian levs.

Is that theoretical prediction coming true? The number of non-UK nationals added to the UK workforce was just 109,000 on the year. In the first quarter it was a much sharper increase – of 207,000. Here too, the economic theory may, eventually, be proved right after all.

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Amid Regional Tension, Japan, US Conduct Live-Fire Drill

A Japan Ground Self Defense Force’s Type 90 tank fires during the joint exercise (Reuters)

Eniwa (Japan):  Some 300 Japanese and US military personnel on Wednesday carried out live-fire artillery training in northern Japan, officials said, amid high regional tensions over North Korean missile threats.

The drill, part of a 19-day exercise, came after a tense war of words between the United States and North Korea over Pyongyang’s threats to fire missiles towards the Pacific island of Guam.

Troops from Japan’s Ground Self-Defence Force (GSDF) and US Marines fired live ammunition from armed vehicles at a manoeuvre area on the northern island of Hokkaido.

The two forces began the Northern Viper 2017 exercise on August 10, involving a total of 1,300 GSDF troops and 2,000 Marines.

“It is the first joint exercise between the GSDF and US Marines in Hokkaido,” a defence ministry spokesman said.

The spokesman denied any link between the drill and recent regional tension over North Korea.

“This is not conducted with a particular country or region in mind,” he said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said Tuesday he would hold off on a plan to fire four ballistic missiles towards Guam, a US Pacific island territory.

The threat had come after US President Donald Trump warned Pyongyang of “fire and fury” over intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) development.

Japan has deployed the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile defence system in Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi prefectures in western Japan, which North Korea had warned could be along its missiles’ flight path.

It also deployed the system in nearby Ehime prefecture.

Meanwhile, the defence ministry said US Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft will join the Northern Viper drills starting on Friday despite growing concerns after a fatal crash off Australia earlier this month.

The MV-22 — a hybrid helicopter-turboprop — has two engines positioned on fixed wingtips that allow it to land and take off vertically.

The aircraft, which can travel much faster than a helicopter, has been involved in a series of deadly incidents, mostly in the United States.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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UK Unemployment Rate Hits Lowest Level Since 1975

The rate dipped to 4.4 per cent in the three months to June (File Photo)

London:  Britain’s unemployment rate has struck a new 42-year low, official data showed on Wednesday, as the uncertainty of Brexit boosts temporary hirings.

The rate dipped to 4.4 per cent in the three months to June to record the lowest level since 1975, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement. It had stood at 4.5 per cent in the quarter to May.

A total of 1.48 million people were recorded as unemployed at the end of June, down 1,57,000 compared with a year earlier, although with wages growth struggling to keep pace with UK inflation.

“The headline figures shout growth and stability — and yet there’s a huge amount of uncertainty on the ground, particularly due to Brexit,” said David Morel, head of employment firm Tiger Recruitment.

“Against a backdrop of political and economic uncertainty, people are choosing to stay put rather than speculatively look for other jobs.”

But he noted that “Brexit-related and broader economic uncertainty” was supporting the temporary jobs market as employers “have put their permanent hiring on hold”.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Walnut wipeout whips up chocolate storm

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Walnut Whips have been sold for more than a century

First it was Toblerone that shrunk, followed by packets of Maltesers. But has the maker of the Walnut Whip gone too far in removing the famous nuts from the chocolate?

Nestle is launching new versions of the Walnut Whip – its oldest chocolate brand – without a nut on their peak.

The new Whips (sans the Walnut prefix) come in three flavours, although the traditional walnut variety will still be available in a single pack year round – and a multi-pack at Christmas too.

“Walnut Whip remains on sale alongside our new vanilla, caramel and mint versions,” a Nestle spokeswoman confirmed to the BBC.

“This means there is something for consumers wanting to try something new, as well as for long-standing fans of our century-old walnut product.”

‘Sold differently’

The new products are being sold in packs of three with the walnut version remaining in its single packs.

The spokeswoman said: “As the original version, with a long history, Walnut Whips are being sold slightly differently, in the same way as they traditionally have been for more than a century.

“They will continue to be sold as a single treat as they have been ever since their launch in 1910. They will also be sold in larger six packs at Christmas, when consumers want to be able to purchase them in larger quantities.”

She added the decision to launch the new flavours had been made because the company “wanted to extend the Whip range”.

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The new walnut-less Whips

However, importer Helen Graham said that strong global demand for the walnut, together with the falling value of the pound and a poor crop in Chile last year led to a rise in prices of about a fifth.

She told the Guardian: “There was a shortage of crop and then there is the additional factor of exchange rates and rising transport costs as well.”

The news has provoked a mixed reaction on social media with some Twitter users unhappy that their favourite treat has been changed, but others very pleased because they said they always removed the nut anyway.

The Walnut Whip was launched in 1910 by Duncan’s of Edinburgh.

In the past, Nestle has claimed that one is eaten every two seconds in the UK.

The chocolate was in the news in 2007 when Ken Livingstone, then Mayor of London, said people living in the capital would not pay more than 38p a week for the 2012 Olympics – the treat’s cost at the time.

“To get the Games for the price of a Walnut Whip a week is a bargain,” he said.

‘Value for money’

There was controversy last November when the spaces between the triangular chunks on a bar of Toblerone were made bigger.

Its US maker, Mondelez, said it had made the decision to do that rather than raise the price “to keep the product affordable for our customers”.

Later in the month, a food retail expert spotted that the weight of a packet of Maltesers had shrunk from 121g to 103g.

Manufacturers Mars said it wanted to ensure its customers could obtain its chocolate brands “at the best value for money”.

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Uber official apologises for 'misunderstanding' in Philippines

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A top Uber official has apologised to the Philippines’ transport regulator and vowed to respect its authority following a temporary ban on its services in the country.

The ride-hailing firm was ordered to stop services for a month in a dispute over accreditations for new drivers.

Uber briefly ignored the suspension and moved to appeal the decision.

The ride-hailing firm has faced other regulatory battles as it seeks to expand in Asia.

The suspension by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) concerns a violation of a directive to stop accrediting new drivers.

Uber said on Tuesday that it would appeal the order, and briefly resumed services in defiance of the ban.

But the company reversed course later in the day and complied with the order.

Uber official apologises

After initially rejecting its authority, Uber has adopted a more conciliatory tone with the transport regulator.

In a video posted on Philippines television network ABS-CBN’s website on Wednesday, Uber’s regional general manager for Asia Pacific, Michael Brown, said the company respected local authorities.

“We’re going to do everything we possibly can to show that we respect the authority of the LTFRB,” he said.

Reporters captured the comments as Mr Brown spoke to LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra.

The pair spoke ahead of a meeting held by the country’s senate public services committee about Uber’s situation, according to local media.

“Anything you need from us, we’re going to do it,” Mr Brown said.

“If there’s been a misunderstanding in the past, that’s on us and I apologise for that misunderstanding. We have every intention to respect the LTFRB,” he said.

Mr Delgra said the regulator would work with Uber.

“This is not a fight, we’re trying to work together to address public transport issues,” Mr Delgra said.

Safety concerns over recalled Uber cars

Uber: The scandals that drove Kalanick out

Uber fires employees over harassment

Uber’s troubles in the Philippines are the latest in a series of hurdles to its attempts to expand globally.

Speed bumps

The company has faced regulatory scrutiny in other Asian countries, including South Korea, Japan and India. Earlier this year Uber suspended operations in Macau after a dispute with local regulators.

Uber is also warding off legal challenges as it fights to repair a corporate image badly bruised by sexism and misconduct allegations.

Chief executive Travis Kalanick resigned in June, bowing to pressure from shareholders. His departure came after a review of practices at the firm and scandals including complaints of sexual harassment.

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UK jobless rate down to 4.4%

Unemployment in the UK fell by 57,000 in the three months to June, official figures show, bringing the jobless rate down from 4.5% to 4.4% – its lowest since 1975.

Average weekly earnings increased by 2.1% compared with a year earlier.

But with the rate of inflation running at 2.6%, real earnings fell by 0.5%.

The number of people employed on zero hours contracts as their main job fell 20,000 compared to a year earlier.

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New Satellite Pics And Offer To Find MH370 With 'Unprecedented Precision'

The disappearance of the plane has become one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries

Sydney/Kuala Lumpur:  Australia’s main scientific agency said on Wednesday it believed with “unprecedented precision and certainty” that a missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft crashed into the sea northeast of an area scoured in a fruitless two-year underwater search.

The agency’s assertion is based on satellite pictures taken two weeks after Flight MH370 went missing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board, on a flight to Beijing from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

But the Australian government rejected the conclusion of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), issued in a report on Wednesday, saying it was not specific enough.

The disappearance of the Boeing 777 has become one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries. It is thought to have been diverted thousands of miles off course out over the southern Indian Ocean before crashing off the coast of Western Australia.

Australia, Malaysia and China called off a A$200 million ($160 million), two-year search for the plane in January after finding nothing, despite the protests of families of those onboard.

The CSIRO has previously raised doubts about the main 120,000-sq-km underwater search zone, saying it believed the plane went down to the north of it.

Its latest assertion was its most insistent yet and was based on a review of satellite images provided by the French military intelligence service and France’s national space agency, CNES, which showed 70 pieces of debris with a dozen of those “probably” man-made.

“We think it is possible to identify a most-likely location of the aircraft, with unprecedented precision and certainty,” the CSIRO said.

CSIRO oceanographer and the report’s lead author, David Griffin, told Reuters by telephone that if the debris spotted in the pictures was authentic, then it supported previous ocean-drift analysis pointing to a crash zone just to the north of the area that was most thoroughly searched.

“It all fits together so perfectly, the only thing missing is proof that those actually are pieces of plane,” Griffin said.


Australia has not ruled out resuming the search for the airliner but has said that would depend on finding credible evidence about the plane’s whereabouts.

Australian transport minister Darren Chester said the new analysis “does not provide new evidence leading to a specific location of MH370”.

Malaysia’s deputy transport minister Aziz Kaprawi declined to comment on the agency’s report, saying that he was awaiting further information from Australian authorities.

But he said Malaysia has not given up on the search and it had called for a meeting with Australian and Chinese authorities to discuss an offer from a private seabed exploration firm, Ocean Infinity, to resume the search.

“No decision has been made but we are definitely considering a new search. We will seek input from our counterparts,” he told Reuters.

Malaysia said this month Ocean Infinity had offered to search for free, and would seek payment only if the aircraft was found. A company spokesman declined to comment.

The company says on its website it has the world’s most advanced fleet of autonomous underwater vehicles for seabed mapping, survey and search.

Australia and Malaysia earlier rejected investigators’ recommendations to extend the hunt by 25,000 sq km (9,653 square miles) north of the original search area, saying the location identified was too imprecise.

Investigators believe someone may have deliberately switched off MH370’s transponder before diverting it over the Indian Ocean.

Various pieces of debris have been collected from Indian Ocean islands and Africa’s east coast and at least three of them have been confirmed as coming from the missing plane.

CSIRO said some of objects spotted in the pictures were “comparable with some of the debris items that have washed up on African beaches”.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Trump, Again, Casts Blame On Both Sides For Deadly Violence In Virginia

NEW YORK:  President Donald Trump insisted on Tuesday that left- and right-wing extremists became violent during a weekend rally by white nationalists in Virginia, reigniting a political firestorm over U.S. race relations and his own leadership of a national crisis.

Trump, who drew sharp criticism from Republicans and Democrats for his initial response, reverted on Tuesday to his position that both sides were at fault for the violence, a day after bowing to pressure to explicitly condemn the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups.

Appearing angry and irritated, the president maintained that his original reaction was based on the facts he had at the time. Blame, he said, belonged on both sides.

“You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now,” Trump said, referring to right- and left-wing protesters.

From there, the back and forth with reporters turned tense.

“Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch,” Trump said of the participants in the deadly protest. “There was a group on this side. You can call them the left … that came violently attacking the other group. So you can say what you want, but that’s the way it is.”

The violence erupted on Saturday after white nationalists converged in Charlottesville for a “Unite the Right” rally in protest of plans to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, commander of the pro-slavery Confederate army during the U.S. Civil War.

Many of the rally participants were seen carrying firearms, sticks and shields. Some also wore helmets. Counter-protesters likewise came equipped with sticks, helmets and shields.

The two sides clashed in scattered street brawls before a car plowed into the rally opponents, killing one woman and injuring 19 others. A 20-year-old Ohio man, James Fields, said to have harbored Nazi sympathies, was charged with murder.

Two state police officers also were killed that day in the fiery crash of the helicopter they were flying in as part of crowd-control operations.


Addressing the melee for the first time on Saturday, Trump denounced hatred and violence “on many sides.” The comment drew sharp criticism across the political spectrum for not explicitly condemning the white nationalists whose presence in the southern college town was widely seen as having provoked the unrest.

Critics said Trump’s remarks then belied his reluctance to alienate extreme right-wing groups, whose followers constitute a devoted segment of his political base despite his disavowal of them.

Yielding two days later to a mounting political furor over his initial response, Trump delivered a follow-up message expressly referring to the “KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists and other hate groups” as “repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

Trump’s detractors dismissed his revised statements as too little too late.

His remarks on Tuesday inflamed the controversy further. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke immediately applauded Trump on Twitter.

“Thank you President Trump for your honesty and courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville and condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa,” Duke wrote, referring to Black Lives Matter (BLM) and anti-facists.

Democrats seized on Trump’s latest words as evidence that Trump saw white nationalists and those protesting against them as morally equivalent.

“By saying he is not taking sides, Donald Trump clearly is,” said Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer of New York. “When David Duke and white supremacists cheer your remarks, you’re doing it very, very wrong.”

In a similar vein, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, said Trump’s characterization of the violence missed the mark.

“Neo-Nazis, Klansmen and white supremacists came to Charlottesville heavily armed, spewing hatred and looking for a fight. One of them murdered a young woman in an act of domestic terrorism, and two of our finest officers were killed in a tragic accident while serving to protect this community. This was not ‘both sides,'” he said.

A tweet by former President Barack Obama soon after the violence had garnered 2.8 million “likes” to become the most liked Twitter message ever by Tuesday, the social media network said.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…,” Obama said in the tweet on Saturday, accompanying a picture of himself looking through an open window at a group of children.

Administration officials, hoping to put the controversy behind them after the remarks on Monday, worried that the controversy would now last for days and, potentially, affect the president’s ability to achieve legislative and policy goals.

Asked about the White House’s next steps, one official said: “I think next steps are just to stop talking.”


Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO labor federation representing 12.5 million workers, became the latest member of Trump’s advisory American Manufacturing Council to resign in protest.

“We cannot sit on a council for a president who tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism,” Trumka said. “President Trump’s remarks today repudiate his forced remarks yesterday about the KKK and neo-Nazis.”

Three other members of the council – the chief executives of pharmaceutical maker Merck & Co Inc, sportswear company Under Armour Inc and computer chipmaker Intel Corp – resigned on Monday.

In Tuesday’s remarks, Trump also sympathized with protesters seeking to keep Lee’s statue in place but offered no equivalent remarks for those who favored its removal.

“You had people in that group … that were there to protest the taking down of a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name,” he said.

Trump also grouped former presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, two of the nation’s founding fathers, together with Confederate leaders such as Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson, who fought to separate Southern states from the Union, noting that all were slave owners.

“Was George Washington a slave owner? Will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? … Because he was a major slave owner,” Trump said.

On Tuesday, Trump explained his initial restrained response by saying: “The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement, but you don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts. It takes a little while to get the facts.”

In what became at times a heated exchange with reporters shouting questions, Trump said, “You also had people that were very fine people on both sides.”

He said that while neo-Nazis and white nationalists “should be condemned totally,” protesters in the other group “also had trouble-makers. And you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats. You got a lot of bad people in the other group too.”

© Thomson Reuters 2017

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Admiral profits held back by rising personal injury costs

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Shares in Admiral sank 7% after the insurer said the rising cost of personal injury claims hit profits.

The firm’s pre-tax profits rose 2% to £193m in the six months to the end of June 2017, as the number of UK insurance customers rose 11%.

However, changes to the way payments are made to accident victims – the Ogden rate – meant higher costs.

The changing rate weighed on profits last year, and Admiral said the impact had continued into 2017.

“Most of the adverse impact from the increase in the costs of large injury claims was in our 2016 second half result,” said its chief executive David Stevens in a statement.

“However, some extra costs carry into 2017. In these circumstances, we are happy to report a marginal increase in profitability and to deliver a more material increase in the underlying dividend,” he said.

The company estimated that the cost of the Ogden rate changes would be £150m, unchanged from six months earlier.

The government has been consulting on how the Ogden rate should be set, although a final decision has been delayed.

Admiral also reported a 15% rise in group turnover to £1.45bn, and net revenue of £550m, up 8%.

Mr Stevens said: “The first half of 2017 saw Admiral ambitious in pursuit of both immediate and longer-term growth opportunities.”

However, investors were disappointed at the figures. Admiral’s shares fell as much as 7% in early trading, making the stock the worst performer on the FTSE 100.

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New Data May Help Pinpoint Location Of MH370: Australia

There were 239 passengers and crew on board when the plane disappeared

Canberra:  The Australian agency overseeing the underwater search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 released two new reports on Wednesday, which may help pinpoint where the Boeing 777 disappeared.

The underwater search for the missing jetliner, which vanished in 2014, was called off in January after almost three years of searching, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and other agencies, however, continued to conduct drift modelling and satellite analysis.

ATSB chief Greg Hood on Wednesday released a statement and two reports from Geosciences Australia and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) which point to a narrower search area for the missing jet.

Hood said Geosciences Australia had analysed satellite imagery from the region in which the jet may have disappeared and found several man-made objects at the bottom of the ocean.

He said that while the latest report was encouraging, the object had “not been definitely identified” from MH370.

“They (reports) provide analysis and findings relating to satellite imagery taken on March 23, 2014, two weeks after the disappearance of MH370, over the southern Indian Ocean.

“Geoscience Australia identified a number of objects in the satellite imagery which have been classified as probably man-made.

“The image resolution is not high enough to be certain whether the objects originated from MH370 or are other objects that might be found floating in oceans around the world.”

Meanwhile the CSIRO’s reverse drift modelling has narrowed down any potential new search area to be just 5,000 sq km, down from 25,000 sq km last year.

Hood said that while it was not up to Australia to decide whether a new underwater search should be commissioned, this data “may be useful” in informing any further search effort “that may be mounted in the future”.

MH370 was a scheduled passenger flight bound for Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. There were 239 passengers and crew on board when it disappeared on March 8, 2014.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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This Obama Tweet One Of The Most Popular In Twitter History

Unlike some former presidents, Barack Obama is showing no signs of completely abandoning public life.

Since leaving office, Obama has commented on major events or controversies, including the terrorist attack in Manchester, England, and Sen. John McCain’s brain cancer diagnosis. He did so again on Saturday, after the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion . . . People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love . . . For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite,” Obama said, quoting former South African president Nelson Mandela in tweets.

The first tweet, which shows a picture of Obama smiling at four children, has been retweeted more than 1 million times and liked 2.6 million times as of Tuesday afternoon.

According to Favstar, a Twitter-tracking site, it’s one of the most-liked tweets in the history of Twitter, second to singer Ariana Grande’s response to the deadly terrorist attack during her concert in Manchester. It also ranks No. 7 among the most retweeted tweets.

Obama has used Twitter only sporadically since January, tweeting a handful of times every month to weigh in on national conversations. It’s unclear if Obama himself or a social media team is handling his Twitter handle.

President Donald Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville has become the subject of widespread criticisms. In a statement Saturday, he condemned hatred and bigotry from “many sides,” not saying which “sides” he was referring to, or whose hatred and bigotry he was condemning. Many Democrats and some Republicans took issue with Trump for not calling out white nationalists or white supremacists, even after a car, allegedly driven by a neo-Nazi sympathizer, plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 19 others.

On Monday, after two days of criticisms, Trump finally explicitly condemned hate groups, “including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists.”

But on Tuesday, Trump defended his earlier statement in a highly combative news conference.

“Before I make a statement, I like to know the facts,” Trump told reporters, also reiterating his belief that both sides are to blame for the violence.

Obama did not comment on the White House’s statements on Charlottesville and has largely avoided criticizing his successor.

In June, however, he weighed in on two of the current administration’s major policy items: climate change and health care.

He criticized the Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement. Trump, who has labeled climate change a “hoax,” had promised to “cancel” the climate deal and Obama-era regulations that he said were killing jobs and industries. Obama issued a statement in early June that not-so-subtlety called the administration’s policies on climate change antiquated.

“The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created. I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack,” Obama said. “But even in the absence of American leadership; even as this Administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect future generations the one planet we’ve got.”

Later that month, on June 22, the Senate released a draft of a health-care bill that would roll back much of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Obama wrote a lengthy Facebook post in response.

“I recognize that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has become a core tenet of the Republican Party. Still, I hope that our Senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did,” Obama wrote.

He said that the Senate bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, is “not a health-care bill” – but a “massive transfer of wealth” from the poor and middle class to the wealthy.

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Flood of Cheap Chinese Imports May Hurt India's Factories

The weaker yuan is intensifying a flood of cheap Chinese goods into the country.

A troop standoff along the border with China isn’t the only worry for Indian policy makers.

The weaker yuan is intensifying a flood of cheap Chinese goods into the country, threatening to hurt India’s struggling factories and blow out its biggest bilateral trade deficit. So authorities should take steps to support domestic companies as well as curb gains in the rupee, said Soumya Kanti Ghosh, chief economic adviser at State Bank of India, the nation’s biggest lender and one of its top currency traders.

India must “reduce dependence on such frivolous Chinese imports,” Ghosh said. Failing to do so would erode competitiveness at Indian companies and put at risk Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship ‘Make in India’ campaign, he said.

The comments follow years of U.S. threats to brand China a currency manipulator and come as Indian and Chinese soldiers face off in a remote area of the Himalayas. The risks to India’s economy are more pronounced as a new national sales tax disrupts supply chains. Factory output contracted in June for the first time in four years, official data show, mirroring subdued private surveys. That stands to only burnish the appeal of inexpensive Chinese imports.

India mainly ships electronic products, engineering goods and chemicals from China, its biggest trading partner, with whom its trade deficit has ballooned nine-fold over the past decade to $49 billion in 2016. This figure was about $51 billion for the fiscal year through March 31, on imports of $61.3 billion.

India’s central bank does not comment on day-to-day currency fluctuations and doesn’t target a particular exchange rate for the rupee. But it has been intervening in the currency market to curtail the rupee’s gains, traders say.

The rupee has strengthened 6 percent versus the U.S. dollar this year, while the yuan has gained 4 percent. China’s currency has weakened some 2 percent against the rupee, extending last year’s 4 percent decline, the steepest fall among 10 major Asian currencies.

These rupee gains could trigger expectations of further appreciation, lulling importers into leaving their currency exposures unhedged, Ghosh warned. At least 40 percent of current portfolios aren’t protected against exchange-rate swings, according to State Bank of India projections.

“If this trend of rupee appreciation continues, thereby making goods from China cheaper, our imports from China could very well exceed the level of $61.3 billion attained in financial year to March 2017,” Ghosh said.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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