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 31 
 on: May 01, 2018, 03:59:39 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The New York Times....

China Is Set to Take a Hard Line on Trump's Trade Demands

Beijing sees its economy as robust enough to defy U.S. tariff threats, potentially
leaving Washington with no choice but to escalate or back down.


By KEITH BRADSHER | 3:05PM EDT — Monday, April 30, 2018

A container port in China’s eastern province of Shandong. The Trump administration wants Beijing to curb its $300 billion plan to bankroll China's push into advanced technologies. — Photograph: Reuters.
A container port in China’s eastern province of Shandong. The Trump administration wants Beijing to curb its $300 billion plan to bankroll
China's push into advanced technologies. — Photograph: Reuters.


BEIJING — Staking an assertive negotiating stance, China says it will refuse to discuss President Trump's two toughest trade demands when American officials arrive in Beijing this week, potentially derailing the high-level talks.

The Chinese government is publicly calling for flexibility on both sides. But senior Beijing officials do not plan to discuss the two biggest requests that the Trump administration has made over the past several months, according to people involved in Chinese policymaking. Those include a mandatory $100 billion cut in America's $375 billion annual trade deficit with China and curbs on Beijing's $300 billion plan to bankroll the country's industrial upgrade into advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, semiconductors, electric cars and commercial aircraft.

The reason: Beijing feels its economy has become big enough and resilient enough to stand up to the United States.

A half-dozen senior Chinese officials and two dozen influential advisers laid out the Chinese government's position in detail during a three-day seminar that ended here late on Monday morning. The officials and most of the advisers at the seminar gave an overview of China's economic policies, including an in-depth review of the country's trade policy, to make sure China's stance would be known overseas. All of the officials and most of the advisers at the seminar insisted on anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivities.

It is not clear what will happen when the two sides sit down this week or whether either will find a reason to waver. Still, the Chinese and American positions are so far apart that China's leaders are skeptical the two sides can find common ground by the end of this week. They are already raising the possibility that Chinese officials may fly to Washington a month from now for further talks.

“I don't expect a comprehensive deal whatsoever,” said Ruan Zongze, the executive vice president of the China Institute of International Studies, which is the policy research arm of China's Foreign Ministry. “I think there is a lot of game playing here.”

Beijing is frustrated with Mr. Trump's threats to impose tariffs on $150 billion in Chinese goods and dismayed by suggestions in the West that China has a weak bargaining position. Chinese officials think the country's one-party political system and President Xi Jinping's enduring grip on power — particularly after the repeal of presidential term limits in March — mean that China can outlast the United States and Mr. Trump in any trade quarrel.

The Chinese government believes Mr. Trump's background as a businessman means that at some point he will agree to a deal. Seminar participants also reaffirmed previous Chinese trade policy offers to further open the country's financial and automotive sectors, though not in ways that would impact China's industrial modernization program, called Made in China 2025. They also suggested that China would be willing to tighten its intellectual property rules so as to foster innovation within China as well as protect foreign technologies from counterfeiting and other illegal copying.

China is insisting that the parameters of any negotiations be limited, and that the tariff threat be removed before a final deal can be struck.

Chinese officials have reached out to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has reacted positively to China's overtures in the auto and financial sectors. Mr. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive who will be on the Trump administration’s team in Beijing later this week, has sought to calm investors worried that the rhetoric between Washington and Beijing could break out into a full-blown trade war.

China's position is that the bilateral trade imbalance arises from differences in savings rates. Households in China save roughly two-fifths of their income. Americans, on average, save almost nothing. So money from China tends to flow to the United States, buying factories, technology companies, real estate and more, and Americans in turn spend much of that money to buy goods from China. Many economists in the United States, including some at the Treasury, share that view.

By contrast, many trade lawyers, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and Mr. Trump contend that the trade deficit stems to a large extent from unfair practices, including cheap loans by state-controlled banks to exporters.


A worker making carbon fiber on a production line in Lianyungang, in China's Jiangsu province. The material is used in aerospace and other applications. The Chinese government is frustrated with Mr. Trump's threats to impose tariffs on $150 billion in Chinese goods. — Photograph: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
A worker making carbon fiber on a production line in Lianyungang, in China's Jiangsu province. The material is used in aerospace and other
applications. The Chinese government is frustrated with Mr. Trump's threats to impose tariffs on $150 billion in Chinese goods.
 — Photograph: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.


China is ready to discuss shrinking the $375 billion annual trade deficit. But it wants to do so by buying more high-tech American goods. Washington has long blocked such deals because of concerns that they may have military value. China is also willing to buy more oil, natural gas, coal and other goods from the United States, and to help finance the extra pipelines and other infrastructure that would be needed to move them to China.

A senior Chinese government official said that Beijing is unwilling to negotiate with the United States on any curbs on Made in China 2025, which includes large-scale government assistance to favored industries in advanced-technology manufacturing. China perceives the American demands as an attempt to stop China's economic development and technological progress, the senior Chinese official said.

Germany and other countries also have industrial policies, and the United States has not objected to them, he added. American and European officials have argued that those policies elsewhere are much narrower and less ambitious.

Other advisers and officials said that the United States had misunderstood the Made in China 2025 industrial policy. They expressed hope that it might be possible to resolve differences by explaining the program better and making very small tweaks to it — a stance that still may not appease the Trump administration.

The Chinese government is not simply throwing money, land and other resources to favored industries like robotics, artificial intelligence, semiconductors and aircraft manufacturing, they said. China is engaged instead, they contended, in a carefully thought-out program that measures potential profits for each dollar of investment. So China's program bears some resemblance, they said, to private sector investment programs in the West.

One subject was repeatedly and conspicuously avoided by all officials throughout the seminar, even when advisers occasionally speculated about it: whether China might someday try to link trade disputes to national security issues.

China has been deeply involved in international pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, an issue of high importance to the Trump administration. Beijing also wants to someday assert control of Taiwan, a self-governing democracy that Beijing regards as a renegade territory.

Tsinghua University's new Academic Center for Chinese Economic Practice and Thinking organized the seminar, which was held at Tsinghua and two other venues in western Beijing. President Xi graduated from Tsinghua, which is in Beijing and is China's top university, and he has filled much of the senior ranks of his government with Tsinghua professors and graduates.

In some respects, the hard stance struck by Chinese officials reflects a hardening of public attitudes in China.

In mid-April, the United States barred American companies from selling their wares to a Chinese telecom equipment maker, ZTE. The move is seen as potentially crippling to the Chinese company, which needs American chips and software to power the smartphones and equipment it sells around the world.

Washington officials cited ZTE's repeated violations of sanctions against Iran and North Korea, but many in China saw it as a reminder by the United States that sizable sectors of the Chinese economy still rely on American-made goods. Much of the Made in China 2025 policy is aimed at reducing that dependence.

The ZTE case “has changed a lot of Chinese people's opinion,” said Mr. Ruan, of the China Institute of International Studies. “In the past, people saw us as interdependent.”


__________________________________________________________________________

Chris Buckley contributed reporting to this story.

• Keith Bradsher is the Pulitzer Prize-winning Shanghai bureau chief for The New York Times, having reopened the Shanghai bureau on November 14th, 2016. He has previously served as the Hong Kong bureau chief and the Detroit bureau chief for The Times. Before those postings, he was a Washington correspondent for The Times covering the Federal Reserve and international trade, and a New York-based business reporter covering transportation and telecommunications for The Times. Born in 1964, Mr. Bradsher received a degree in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead Scholar. He received a master's degree in public policy with a concentration in economics from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. Prior to joining The New York Times, Mr. Bradsher wrote for the Los Angeles Times from 1987 until 1989.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • White House Considers Restricting Chinese Researchers Over Espionage Fears

 • U.S. Allies Brace for Trade War as Tariff Negotiations Stall

 • The U.S.-China Trade Conflict: How We Got to This Point


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/30/business/china-trump-trade-talks.html

 32 
 on: April 28, 2018, 05:47:18 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

Yep....this just about sums it up perfectly....







 33 
 on: April 26, 2018, 04:58:34 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times....

Chinese tech initiative now a focus of trade war

U.S. views the Made in China 2025 plan as a central threat.

By JESSICA MEYERS | Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Workers prepare for the World Robot Conference in Beijing last year. “Made in China 2025” aims to transform the country from a labor-intensive economy into one focused on products like robots and electric cars. — Photograph: Fu Ting/Associated Press.
Workers prepare for the World Robot Conference in Beijing last year. “Made in China 2025” aims to transform the country from a labor-intensive economy
into one focused on products like robots and electric cars. — Photograph: Fu Ting/Associated Press.


BEIJING — China unveiled its plan to dominate the world's most crucial technologies with little international fanfare, another vague, guiding principle in the labyrinth of Communist Party bureaucracy.

Three years later, it's at the core of a trade dispute with Washington that threatens to upend the global economy.

Made in China 2025” is a blueprint for transforming the country from a labor-intensive economy that makes toys and clothes into one that engineers advanced products like robots and electric cars. The Trump administration views it as an attempt to steal U.S. technology and control cutting-edge industries.

Officials aimed to temper the initiative this month when they announced potential tariffs on $50 billion in goods. But Chinese leaders consider the plan key to the country's development and refuse to alter its course.

“China is trying to achieve a clear goal and America wants to stop it,” said Andrew Polk, cofounder of Trivium/China, a Beijing research firm. “And that's where the competition is.”

Here's what Made in China 2025 is all about and what it means for the trade war:


What's the objective?

The plan funnels billions into 10 industries, including biopharmaceuticals, aerospace and telecom devices. It calls for 70% of related materials and parts to be made domestically within a decade. A separate document details China's strategy to lead in artificial intelligence by 2030.

Officials modeled Made in China 2025 after a German initiative called Industrie 4.0, which envisions greater automation in manufacturing and “intelligent factories” that operate with wireless sensors. They didn't have much choice. The world's biggest population is aging and rising wages are sending low-tech factories to other countries.

“The labor supply is decreasing,” said Ashley Qian Wan, China economist for Bloomberg Economics in Beijing. “And that's going to be a big problem for China.”


China developed its first bullet train last year, the Fuxing, which can reach a top speed of 248 mph. Engineers have also built the first Chinese jetliner. — Photograph: Visual China Group.
China developed its first bullet train last year, the Fuxing, which can reach a top speed of 248 mph. Engineers have also built the first Chinese jetliner.
 — Photograph: Visual China Group.


Why does China care about this so much?

When President Kennedy vowed in 1961 to send a man to the moon, more than 30 million people in China had just starved to death. People's Republic founder Mao Tse-tung closed universities for a decade whereas researchers in Silicon Valley invented the internet. China sees itself as simply trying to catch up.

The country developed its first bullet train last year, a vehicle with a maximum speed of 248 mph named Fuxing, or rejuvenation. Engineers also built the country's first homegrown jetliner, an initial step toward filling Beijing's crowded airport with planes from China rather than America's Boeing or Europe's Airbus.

Officials portray the initiative as transparent and open to foreign companies. They dispel notions that it will monopolize domestic markets. America's dismissal of the plan reinforces a party narrative that the U.S. seeks to undermine China's resurgence.

“We have good reasons to question the legality and legitimacy of many actions taken by the U.S. on the grounds of national security, like its plan to impose high tariffs on many industries of Made in China 2025,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters this month. “Clearly, they are targeting something else.”


Why is the U.S. concerned about it?

The Trump administration frets about the way China aims to achieve its 2025 ambitions. American businesses have long complained about the sacrifices they make to operate in the world's largest market, including requirements to partner with domestic companies and hand over trade secrets.

Officials fear these techniques will make it impossible for U.S. companies to compete in the world's most critical fields. They also worry massive Chinese government subsidies will lead to a global glut of products that push down prices and hurt U.S. businesses.

“There are things China listed and said, ‘We're going to take technology, spend several hundred billion dollars, and dominate the world’,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told senators at a March hearing. “And these are things that if China dominates the world, it's bad for America.”


A bank employee counts 100-yuan notes in Lianyungang, in eastern China's Jiangsu province. — Photograph: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
A bank employee counts 100-yuan notes in Lianyungang, in eastern China's Jiangsu province. — Photograph: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.

A U.S. report on China's intellectual property theft — which led to the most recent potential tariffs — mentioned the plan more than 100 times. Officials are exploring ways to restrict Chinese investment in key industries. The U.S. recently banned ZTE, China's second-largest maker of telecom equipment, from buying U.S. technology.

“Consensus is growing in Washington that the U.S. is in a race with China for technical leadership,” Arthur Kroeber, managing director of Beijing research firm Gavekal Dragonomics, said he recently told clients. And some, he added, think that “economic cold war is the answer.”


Is the Trump administration right?

President Xi Jinping recently told a room full of global investors that China would further open its economy. Officials last week said they would phase out rules that require automakers like General Motors to find a local partner before opening factories in China. They plan to end foreign ownership requirements on electric vehicle makers this year.

This wouldn't mark the first time authorities vowed to shed their protectionist shield. The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China complained last year that foreign businesses were suffering from “promise fatigue”.

The problem is China's high-tech ambitions include “plans to use instruments such as subsidized credit and market access restrictions,” said David Dollar, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former U.S. Treasury official in China. “It makes sense for the U.S. to oppose this practice.”

But Chinese officials see an irony in efforts that try to maintain America's chokehold on innovation. Hua, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, likened the U.S. to a “bully — only it can have high tech and others cannot.”

Neither side looks willing to bend. Recent talks to de-escalate the trade dispute reportedly collapsed over the 2025 plan.

“China views the overall system as inherently unfair because it was created by the current dominant power,” Trivium/China's Polk said. “America should stop complaining and start designing its own industrial policy to counter China.”


__________________________________________________________________________

Kemeng Fan, Gaochao Zhang and Nicole Liu in the L.A. Times' Beijing bureau contributed to this report.

• Jessica Meyers is a freelance journalist based in Beijing. She is Asia special correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, Politico, the Dallas Morning News and other news media organisations.

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=f4657cb8-1584-44e4-b3a6-af3170c0c0f9

 34 
 on: April 22, 2018, 03:56:34 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from the Sunday Star-Times....

Auckland versus the rest of NZ: It's a classic
big brother, little brother relationship


People love to hate our largest city, and it gets
less sympathy when natural disasters hit.


By CRAIG HOYLE | 5:00AM — Sunday, 22 April 2018

Why the hate for Auckland? New Zealand's largest city is actually a beautiful place to live and play. — Photograph: Simon Maude.
Why the hate for Auckland? New Zealand's largest city is actually a beautiful place
to live and play. — Photograph: Simon Maude.


THE TWEETS rained down hard on our largest city.

“Why do I physically hate Auckland,” wrote one social media user, while others poured scorn as residents struggled to recover from the largest storm in a decade.

Columnist Rachel Stewart told Aucklanders to harden up and get a resilience plan.

Her scathing words came as tens of thousands of people went days without power, some facing the frightening prospect of going without food and water.

Hundreds of trees came crashing down in hurricane-force winds on the night of April 10. Arcing power lines lit up the sky, and the next morning poles were strewn over roads like matchsticks.

Initially, more than 180,000 homes were cut off from the grid, and on Friday, ten days later, Vector was still working to restore power to a number of properties across the region.

This wasn't the first time the City of Sails experienced a massive power cut, and it likely won't be the last.

The big one happened back in January 1998 after a 40-year-old gas-insulated 110kV cable failed and plunged central Auckland into darkness for five weeks.

More than 70,000 people were forced to work from home, and those living in apartments had to relocate elsewhere until the power was eventually restored.

As was the case in 1998, there was little sympathy in recent weeks from many south of the Bombays.

Stewart pointed out many in the regions often had to wait weeks for power to be reconnected following a storm.

“Plus we get the chainsaw out and sort the downed trees, start the generator, fix the roof, and cope with instant coffee if we have to. Or moonshine. Whatever's available.”

Stewart says her tweets were supposed to be funny and she wasn't trying to pick on Auckland.

“But it does seem to me that urban people are very focused on urban things, and they forget that living in a big city in New Zealand won't actually save them.”

Aucklanders have embraced the derogatory term ‘JAFA’ (‘Just another f***** Aucklander’), in the same way that some other communities have turned insults into terms of endearment.

“You know that NZ is a nice and supportive country when it turns into a ‘hate on Auckland’ session every time a disaster happens lol,” wrote one Twitter user.


Columnist Rachel Stewart says Aucklanders should harden up and stop complaining about storm damage. — Photograph: David White.
Columnist Rachel Stewart says Aucklanders should harden up and stop complaining
about storm damage. — Photograph: David White.


Hundreds of trees came crashing down in hurricane-force winds on the night of April 10. — Photograph: Jarred Williamson.
Hundreds of trees came crashing down in hurricane-force winds on the night of April 10.
 — Photograph: Jarred Williamson.


Scafolding collapsed at a building site in Hobsonville Point as the storm swept through Auckland. — Photograph: Lawrence Smith.
Scafolding collapsed at a building site in Hobsonville Point as the storm swept
through Auckland. — Photograph: Lawrence Smith.


WHY THE DIVIDE?

James Liu, a professor of psychology at Massey University, says personality differences help explain why the rest of the country sometimes feels alienated from a booming Auckland.

Aucklanders tend to have a more open, global outlook, while those in provincial New Zealand place greater importance on character traits such as humility and honesty.

You could be forgiven for thinking we're not all that interested in getting to know each other — a survey in 2016 found more Aucklanders have been to Sydney than Queenstown.

The survey also highlighted a larger rivalry between the North and South Island as it found that more Southlanders have visited Melbourne and the Gold Coast than the Bay of Islands or Coromandel.

“Each group validates their own in-group characteristics, and maybe downgrades the other one a little bit,” says Liu.

Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt thinks the rest of the country sometimes feels overwhelmed by a city that boasts one-third of our population.

“It feels like it throws the whole country out of kilter, in a way,” he says. “It does generate a bit of resentment.”

Shadbolt says there's also a feeling that when natural disasters happen, cities like Auckland are big enough and strong enough to look after themselves.

It's a classic big brother, little brother relationship.

Shadbolt adds: “You think sometimes, why does everyone want to live in Auckland, and not provincial New Zealand? What's wrong with us? We're friendly, we're financially successful, and we have the lowest unemployment rate.”

But be warned: hating on Auckland can carry a price, as Dean Anderson discovered as an eight-year-old back in 1997.

The Christchurch local waved a banner reading “I hate Auckland” at a Canterbury NPC game, unaware of the uproar he would cause.

There were calls for him to be banned from Lancaster Park and he avoided going to the rugby for many years.

In a 2013 interview, he admitted: “I can see how people would get quite wound up about it”.


Professor James Liu says there are personality differences between Auckland and the rest of the country. — Photograph: Victoria University.
Professor James Liu says there are personality differences between Auckland
and the rest of the country. — Photograph: Victoria University.


Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt thinks the rest of the country sometimes feels overwhelmed by Auckland. — Photograph: John Hawkins.
Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt thinks the rest of the country sometimes feels
overwhelmed by Auckland. — Photograph: John Hawkins.


AUCKLAND'S CHEERLEADER

Auckland councillor Richard Hills is an unapologetic cheerleader for the supercity.

He loves the city's diversity, and points to the fact people from more than 200 ethnicities call it home. Mostly, you can express yourself however you like and feel accepted.

The city has beaches, bush, and sunshine, and is regularly ranked as one of the best places in the world for quality of life.

On the flip side, it also faces traffic gridlock and a crippled housing market that has driven more impoverished families into cars and onto the streets.

Hills understands why some people get sick of hearing about Auckland. And yeah, it must get boring seeing a city always in the news if you're in a different part of the country.

But, Hills says, “we've still got over a third of the country here, and we're really large, so people should expect we get a lot of coverage”.

He says Auckland provides a lot of economic support to the rest of the country, and if the city gets ahead, then the rest of New Zealand gets ahead too.

Some might consider that non-Aucklanders are actually jealous given that Auckland is expected to provide 60 per cent of New Zealand's population growth over the next two decades, which means many of the jobs will be created there.

Or could they be envious that Auckland has the highest annual average household income with almost a third of households earning $100,000 or more?


Auckland is regularly ranked as one of the best places in the world for quality of life. — Photograph: Fairfax NZ.
Auckland is regularly ranked as one of the best places in the world for quality of life.
 — Photograph: Fairfax NZ.


Auckland councillor Richard Hills is an unapologetic cheerleader for the supercity. — Photograph: Chris McKeen.
Auckland councillor Richard Hills is an unapologetic cheerleader for the supercity.
 — Photograph: Christ McKeen.


Hills says the storm was a scary time for many Aucklanders, and they have every right to be upset. — Photograph: Chris Skelton.
Hills says the storm was a scary time for many Aucklanders, and they have every right
to be upset. — Photograph: Chris Skilton.


“IT'S TOUGH FOR US TOO”

Hills thinks it's unfair for people to pile on Auckland following a natural disaster.

He also says comparisons to Christchurch aren't helpful, and that when people are suffering, they're not usually stopping to think about whether someone else has had a worse experience. It's all relative at the time.

That doesn't take away from the horrendous things that happened in the Christchurch earthquake, including loss of life, but Hills defends Aucklanders as having every right to be upset.

“It's a scary time for a lot of people,” he says.

Liu says any sniping against Auckland is relatively tame compared to other bitter grievances such as those between China and Japan.

Research after major earthquakes and natural disasters in Japan showed that a number of mainland Chinese thought the Japanese people were getting what they deserved.

Here in New Zealand, Liu says, the grievances are minor and the dominant response is actually sympathy. The extreme voices have to be balanced against the reality that most Kiwis are very good at helping each other out when bad things happen.

Hills agrees that sometimes we give too much attention to the loud voices saying that Auckland sucks.

Shadbolt likes to think we share a common sense of patriotism.

Most of us, he believes, feel empathy and sympathy for Kiwis affected by a crisis, no matter where they live.

But there will always be the haters.


__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • 400 Auckland homes without power one week on

 • Tremendous wind, then big crash, as huge tree crashes onto Auckland roof

 • Auckland storm: why were we so unprepared?

 • Air traffic halted in Auckland, after day of destructive storms


https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/103168676

 35 
 on: April 14, 2018, 10:37:58 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The New York Times....

Trump Calls Comey ‘Untruthful Slime Ball’ as Book Details Released

President Trump, who fired James B. Comey as his F.B.I. director, took
to Twitter on Friday morning to disparage him as a leaker and liar.


By MICHAEL D. SHEAR and ALEXANDER BURNS | 7:31PM EDT — Friday, April 13, 2018

James B. Comey last year at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. — Photograph: Al Drago/The New York Times.
James B. Comey last year at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. — Photograph: Al Drago/The New York Times.

WASHINGTON — James B. Comey's searing tell-all book was met with an aggressive counter-attack on his character by President Trump and his allies on Friday, even as many Democrats struggled with conflicted feelings about the man they blame for Hillary Clinton's loss in the 2016 election.

In the book, Mr. Comey, whom Mr. Trump fired as F.B.I. director in May, describes the president as “unethical, and untethered to truth,” and writes that he often wondered about Mr. Trump's refusal to acknowledge Russia's attempt to influence the election. “Maybe it was a contrarian streak,” he wrote, “or maybe it was something more complicated that explained his constant equivocation and apologies for Vladimir Putin.” He also compares the president to a Mafia boss.

Pointed details from the book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership leaked out Thursday night before its official release on Tuesday. The response from the president was personal and vicious, even by Mr. Trump's standards.

In two early-morning tweets, the president called the former F.B.I. director an “untruthful slime ball” and a “proven LEAKER & LIAR.” Mr. Trump said that it was his “great honor to fire” Mr. Comey.






Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, escalated the criticism later in the day, saying Mr. Comey will “be forever known as a disgraced partisan hack that broke his sacred trust with the president of the United States.”

The Republican National Committee joined in with an all-hands effort to discredit Mr. Comey by distributing lengthy talking points to conservative pundits, sympathetic media hosts and Republican lawmakers.

The message was coordinated with the White House's and echoes Mr. Trump's. “Comey is a liar and a leaker, and his misconduct led both Republicans and Democrats to call for his firing,” said Ronna McDaniel, the committee chairwoman.

The talking points describe Mr. Comey as a “disgraced former official” and a “consummate Washington insider who knows how to work the media to protect his flanks.” It says that Mr. Comey was “strongly criticized by members of both parties for his history of bizarre decisions, contradictory statements and acting against Department of Justice and F.B.I. protocol.”

The committee created a “Lyin' Comey” website and sent out mass emails to reporters litigating the claims in his book and interviews.

Foreshadowing the attack Mr. Trump delivered on Friday, the committee's talking points branded Mr. Comey as a leaker consumed with grievances against Mr. Trump and listed Comey-bashing quotes from Representative Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, the current Democratic leaders in the House and Senate.

Mr. Comey will have an opportunity to respond to his critics during a book tour that will take him to venues across the country. His first major interview, with ABC News, is scheduled to be broadcast on Sunday night, though the network began airing clips on Friday morning after the book leaked out.

He will have several other high-profile appearances in Washington, followed by events at bookstores in Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles and other cities. At each, Mr. Comey's observations about the president's behavior and character are certain to generate headlines.

The Republican National Committee is organizing television and radio bookings for people appearing to rebut Mr. Comey during the tour. Kellyanne Conway, one of Mr. Trump's most loyal advisers, was up early on Friday to question Mr. Comey's credibility for the TV cameras.

“We find that Mr. Comey has a revisionist view of history and seems like a disgruntled ex-employee,” Ms. Conway said. “After all, he was fired.”

Fox News, the president's preferred TV news network, plans to air its own special on Sunday night, “The Trial of James Comey”, at 9 p.m. on “The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton”.


President Donald J. Trump and James B. Comey at the White House days after the inauguration. — Photograph: Al Drago/The New York Times.
President Donald J. Trump and James B. Comey at the White House days after the inauguration. — Photograph: Al Drago/The New York Times.

Republicans on Friday also leapt at the chance to tie Mr. Comey to Andrew G. McCabe, his former deputy director, after the Justice Department inspector general issued a highly critical report that accused Mr. McCabe of repeatedly misleading investigators.

Not all of the personal insults were coming from the president and his allies. At times, Mr. Comey seemed to be doing the same thing in his book, writing at one point that Mr. Trump's face appeared “slightly orange, with bright white half-moons under his eyes where I assumed he placed small tanning goggles.”

Mr. Comey's comparison of the president's operating style to the Mafia — “The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them world-view. The lying about all things, large and small” — might have been expected to please Democrats if it had come from someone else. But at least initially, he received a somewhat muted defense from Democrats still angry about the way he handled the investigation into Mrs. Clinton's private email server.

While they cheered on his fight with Mr. Trump, they argued that Mr. Comey should not have made public the email inquiry the way he did.

“He let his own ego get in the way, and it put him in charge of fate that was not his decision to act on,” said Jennifer Palmieri, a senior adviser to Mrs. Clinton's campaign. “I don't think he had partisan motivations. But there's a lot of people I know who don't agree with me on that.”

Anger from Democrats toward Mr. Comey cascaded across social media on Friday. Ms. Palmieri said she would urge them not to join Mr. Trump in piling on Mr. Comey, even though she admitted there is “a lot of resentment” toward him.

“I don't agree that he's an untruthful slimeball,” she said, adding that Democrats should not help the president undermine Mr. Comey's credibility. “That's not responsible or productive.”

Mr. Trump's decision to fire Mr. Comey last May eventually led to the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia's 2016 election meddling and whether Mr. Trump has deliberately tried to obstruct the investigation. In an extraordinary day of testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee the next month, he foreshadowed many of the themes of his book, describing how Mr. Trump had tried to derail an investigation of Michael T. Flynn, who served briefly as national security adviser and accused the president of lying and defaming him and the F.B.I.

The former F.B.I. chief's much-anticipated 304-page memoir is the first major memoir by one of the key characters in the Trump administration.

Some of the moments that Mr. Comey describes in the book were already publicly known: He describes a January 2017 dinner where he said that Mr. Trump asked him for a loyalty pledge, an episode that was reported by multiple news organizations last year. But the details cast Mr. Trump and his aides in a negative light.

The time Mr. Comey first briefed Mr. Trump on Russian election meddling has also been frequently described. In the book, Mr. Comey added his own description of how a discussion about a grievous intrusion into the American election process became “a strategy session about messaging on Russia — about how they could spin what we'd just told them.”


__________________________________________________________________________

Michael D. Shear reported from Washington, and Alexander Burns from New York. Eileen Sullivan contributed reporting from Washington.

• Michael D. Shear is a White House correspondent in the Washington bureau of The New York Times, where he covers President Trump, with a focus on domestic policy, the regulatory state and life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. A veteran political correspondent, he covered Barack Obama's presidency, including the 2012 re-election campaign. Before coming to The N.Y. Times in 2010, he spent 18 years at The Washington Post, writing about local communities, school districts, state politics, the 2008 presidential campaign and the White House. A member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that covered the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, Mr. Shear is a 1990 graduate of Claremont McKenna College and has a masters in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He lives in Virginia with his wife and two teenage children.

• Alexander Burns is a political reporter for The New York Times on the National desk, covering elections and the dynamics of political power across the country. He was one of the lead reporters covering Donald Trump's presidential campaign in 2016, after coming to The Times in 2015 as a political correspondent for the Metro desk. Mr. Burns was a reporter and editor at Politico before joining The N.Y. Times, covering the 2012 presidential election and the Republican Party's struggle to define itself during the Obama presidency. He is a graduate of Harvard College, where he edited the Harvard Political Review.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • Read The New York Times' review of Mr. Comey's memoir: James Comey Has a Story to Tell. It's Very Persuasive.

 • Comey's Memoir Offers Visceral Details on a President ‘Untethered to Truth’

 • F.B.I. Agents Supported Comey, Surveys Show, Weakening Trump's Claim of Turmoil


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/13/us/politics/trump-calls-comey-untruthful-slimeball-as-book-details-released.html

 36 
 on: April 13, 2018, 12:30:09 am 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The New York Times....

EDITORIAL: The Law Is Coming, Mr. Trump

Donald Trump has spent his whole career in the company of grifters, cons and crooks.
Now that he's president, that strategy isn't working — for him or for the country.


By THE EDITORIAL BOARD | 11:59PM EDT — Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Illustration: Jon Han.
Illustration: Jon Han.

WHY DON'T WE take a step back and contemplate what Americans, and the world, are witnessing?

Early on Monday morning, F.B.I. agents raided the New York office, home and hotel room of the personal lawyer for the president of the United States. They seized evidence of possible federal crimes — including bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations related to payoffs made to women, including a porn actress, who say they had affairs with the president before he took office and were paid off and intimidated into silence.

That evening the president surrounded himself with the top American military officials and launched unbidden into a tirade against the top American law enforcement officials — officials of his own government — accusing them of “an attack on our country.”

Oh, also: The New York Times reported on Monday evening that investigators were examining a $150,000 donation to the president's personal foundation from a Ukrainian steel magnate, given during the American presidential campaign in exchange for a 20-minute video appearance.

Meanwhile, the president's former campaign chairman is under indictment, and his former national security adviser has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators. His son-in-law and other associates are also under investigation.

This is your president, ladies and gentlemen. This is how Donald Trump does business, and these are the kinds of people he surrounds himself with.

Mr. Trump has spent his career in the company of developers and celebrities, and also of grifters, cons, sharks, goons and crooks. He cuts corners, he lies, he cheats, he brags about it, and for the most part, he's gotten away with it, protected by threats of litigation, hush money and his own bravado. Those methods may be proving to have their limits when they are applied from the Oval Office. Though Republican leaders in Congress still keep a cowardly silence, Mr. Trump now has real reason to be afraid. A raid on a lawyer's office doesn't happen every day; it means that multiple government officials, and a federal judge, had reason to believe they'd find evidence of a crime there and that they didn't trust the lawyer not to destroy that evidence.

On Monday, when he appeared with his national security team, Mr. Trump, whose motto could be, “The buck stops anywhere but here,” angrily blamed everyone he could think of for the “unfairness” of an investigation that has already consumed the first year of his presidency, yet is only now starting to heat up. He said Attorney General Jeff Sessions made “a very terrible mistake” by recusing himself from overseeing the investigation — the implication being that a more loyal attorney general would have obstructed justice and blocked the investigation. He complained about the “horrible things” that Hillary Clinton did “and all of the crimes that were committed.” He called the A-team of investigators from the office of the special counsel, Robert Mueller, “the most biased group of people.” As for Mr. Mueller himself, “we'll see what happens,” Mr. Trump said. “Many people have said, ‘You should fire him’.”

In fact, the raids on the premises used by Mr. Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, were conducted by the public corruption unit of the federal attorney's office in Manhattan, and at the request not of the special counsel's team, but under a search warrant that investigators in New York obtained following a referral by Mr. Mueller, who first consulted with the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein. To sum up, a Republican-appointed former F.B.I. director consulted with a Republican-appointed deputy attorney general, who then authorized a referral to an F.B.I. field office not known for its anti-Trump bias. Deep state, indeed.

Mr. Trump also railed against the authorities who, he said, “broke into” Mr. Cohen's office. “Attorney-client privilege is dead!” the president tweeted early on Tuesday morning, during what was presumably his executive time. He was wrong. The privilege is one of the most sacrosanct in the American legal system, but it does not protect communications in furtherance of a crime. Anyway, one might ask, if this is all a big witch hunt and Mr. Trump has nothing illegal or untoward to hide, why does he care about the privilege in the first place?

The answer, of course, is that he has a lot to hide.

This wasn't even the first early-morning raid of a close Trump associate. That distinction goes to Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump's former campaign chairman and Russian oligarch-whisperer, who now faces a slate of federal charges long enough to land him in prison for the rest of his life. And what of Mr. Cohen? He's already been cut loose by his law firm, and when the charges start rolling in, he'll likely get the same treatment from Mr. Trump.

Among the grotesqueries that faded into the background of Mr. Trump's carnival of misgovernment during the past 24 hours was that Monday's meeting was ostensibly called to discuss a matter of global significance: a reported chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians. Mr. Trump instead made it about him, with his narcissistic and self-pitying claim that the investigation represented an attack on the country “in a true sense.”

No, Mr. Trump — a true attack on America is what happened on, say, September 11, 2001. Remember that one? Thousands of people lost their lives. Your response was to point out that the fall of the twin towers meant your building was now the tallest in downtown Manhattan. Of course, that also wasn't true.


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/10/opinion/trump-michael-cohen-raid.html

 37 
 on: April 10, 2018, 11:50:30 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from the Los Angeles Times....

Trump meets his match: Stormy Daniels' combative lawyer Michael Avenatti

By MICHAEL FINNEGAN and MAURA DOLAN | 4:00AM PDT — Saturday, April 07, 2018

Michael Avenatti is interviewed on Thursday by Kristen Scholer on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. — Photograph: Richard Drew/Associated Press.
Michael Avenatti is interviewed on Thursday by Kristen Scholer on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. — Photograph: Richard Drew/Associated Press.

MICHAEL AVENATTI, the newly famous lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels, has more than a few things in common with President Trump.

He's brash. He's media savvy. He enjoys the high life. He revels in antagonizing opponents.

In short, Trump may have met his match in this Newport Beach lawyer whose client, now America's best-known stripper, is suing the president to break free of a deal that bars her from discussing what she says was a one-night stand with Trump in 2006.

With a swagger worthy of the young Trump who barged his way into New York's tabloids decades ago, Avenatti has spent weeks shuttling among Manhattan TV studios to taunt the president and his fixer Michael Cohen.

His pugnacious edge makes Avenatti a natural on cable news.

“Wait a minute, I'm not done, I'm not done, I'm not done,” he snapped at Cohen spokesman David Schwartz on CNN.

His casual allusions to impeachment — “To address the rumor: We DO NOT have a ‘Monica Lewinsky type’ dress,” he announced on Twitter — underscore the lawsuit's high stakes for Trump.

More than anyone, Avenatti has shaped the scandal's narrative and kept it in the news. He has out-foxed the Trump forces over and over, most strikingly by getting Daniels on “60 Minutes”.

Avenatti — whose professional history, like Trump's, is messy — had already appeared twice himself on “60 Minutes”, both times playing the broadcast's stock part of dogged consumer lawyer nailing big companies for wrong-doing.

“Among trial lawyers, Avenatti is regarded as extraordinarily tenacious and aggressive,” said Brian Kabateck, the incoming president of the Los Angeles Bar Association.

“He may be the perfect foil for Trump,” he said, “because he understands Trump and is in Trump's head.”

Louise Sunshine, a former New York lobbyist who worked closely with Trump early in his career, agreed that Avenatti was a vexing adversary.

“I think he's sort of got Donald figured out,” she said.


Anderson Cooper interviews Stormy Daniels for “60 Minutes”. — Photograph: CBS News.
Anderson Cooper interviews Stormy Daniels for “60 Minutes”. — Photograph: CBS News.

BORN IN Sacramento, Avenatti, 47, grew up mainly in Chesterfield, Mo., a St. Louis suburb where he developed a love for sports cars and the Cardinals.

He studied political science at the University of Pennsylvania and earned a law degree as a night student at George Washington University, working on opposition research for both Democratic and Republican campaigns along the way.

In 2000, he moved to Los Angeles to practice law, spending three years at O'Melveny & Myers, then switching to a smaller firm.

He gravitated toward celebrity cases, working for the Eagles' Don Henley and Glenn Frey when fellow band member Don Felder sued them, claiming he was cheated out of album and concert earnings. Avenatti also handled lawsuits against heiress Paris Hilton and actor Jim Carrey.

In 2007, Avenatti and two partners started a Newport Beach plaintiffs' firm, Eagan, O'Malley & Avenatti.

He soon took on Service Corporation International, a cemetery company accused of desecrating graves in the San Fernando Valley. He won an $80-million settlement, along with his first star turn on “60 Minutes”, the CBS News flagship.

His biggest victory, now on appeal, was a $454-million jury verdict last year against surgical gown manufacturers Halyard Health and Kimberly-Clark. The gowns were supposed to protect doctors and nurses from blood-borne viruses such as Ebola and HIV, but sometimes leaked.

Avenatti was featured in the opening tease for a “60 Minutes” segment on the case. An executive at one of the gown makers, he said, “forgot the 11th commandment.”

“Which is?” Anderson Cooper asked.

“Do not lie to ‘60 Minutes’,” Avenatti replied, his close-up yielding to the ticking stopwatch.

“He's a dangerous lawyer,” said Brian Panish, an attorney who used to work with Avenatti, “because he is so sharp, quick and fearless.”

Avenatti can be difficult with allies.

After a few years of booming business, he told the partners in his firm that he was leaving unless they agreed to give him a bigger share of the profits, John C. O'Malley alleged in a 2011 lawsuit.

Dumbfounded by what he called “brazen tactics,” O'Malley protested, but Avenatti drove him out of the practice, he said in court documents. A judge confirmed an arbitration award of $2.7 million against Avenatti and the firm.

Avenatti, who declined to be interviewed and requested all questions in writing, said by email that the case was resolved to the satisfaction of all involved. “Anybody can say anything in a lawsuit,” he wrote.

With his reliance on contingency cases, Avenatti lives on a boom-or-bust pay cycle.

He and his wife sold their ocean-front bluff-top house in Laguna Beach for $12.6 million in 2015. Since then he has rented high-end homes in Newport Beach and Los Angeles.

In recently filed court papers in their divorce case, his wife detailed extravagant holidays in France, Italy, Spain, Mexico and Japan. Avenatti collects artwork and watches, travels by private jet and leases a Ferrari Spider, his wife claimed in the documents.

A part-time race-car driver, Avenatti has competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit.


Michael Avenatti. — Photograph: Hoch Zwei/Corbis/Getty Images.
Michael Avenatti. — Photograph: Hoch Zwei/Corbis/Getty Images.

“Once you've driven 190 miles per hour in the pouring rain, in the middle of the night, down the Mulsanne Straight with prototype cars whizzing by you at 240-plus miles per hour … compared to that, what I'm doing right now is a warm-up lap,” he told Sports Illustrated after the Daniels case vaulted him to fame.

His Porsche race car and white uniform both advertise Tully's Coffee, the Seattle chain that he bought in 2013 for $9 million in a partnership with “Grey's Anatomy” star Patrick Dempsey, a fellow racer.

Avenatti's sideline as coffee entrepreneur turned into a morass of legal and financial trouble. Dempsey sued and withdrew from the deal, saying Avenatti had borrowed $2 million against Tully's assets without telling him. They resolved the dispute out of court.

Keurig Green Mountain, which owns the Tully's brand, claims the chain has missed royalty payments and has moved to revoke its license to use the name. Tully's denied wrongdoing in its court response.

Multiple landlords have sued for back rent or eviction of Tully's stores.


A race car driven by Michael Avenatti. — Photograph: Hoch Zwei/Corbis/Getty Images.
A race car driven by Michael Avenatti. — Photograph: Hoch Zwei/Corbis/Getty Images.

After a gradual shutdown of Tully's outlets, the remaining stores closed a month ago when they nearly ran out of coffee, according to the Seattle Times, but a company spokeswoman said it was simply launching a “rebranding process.”

David Nold, an attorney for one of the landlords, compared Avenatti to Trump. “They sure seem to have a very similar business style,” he said. “Unpaid bills. Taxes owed. Bombastic to a fault when it comes to the facts.”

Avenatti called Nold “an embarrassment to the legal profession.”

“Any claim that problems arose as a result of anything I did or did not do personally is ridiculous and baseless,” he wrote.

He said he divested his interest in Tully's long ago and now serves solely as outside counsel.

In bankruptcy and civil court papers, however, Avenatti claimed a substantial ownership stake in the coffee chain as recently as April 2017, and in July 2017 identified himself as chairman, general counsel and a board of managers member at Global Baristas US, the company that runs Tully's.


A Tully's Coffee in Tacoma, Washington, in March. — Photograph: Ted S. Warren/Associated Press.
A Tully's Coffee in Tacoma, Washington, in March. — Photograph: Ted S. Warren/Associated Press.

At both Tully's and the Eagan Avenatti law firm, unpaid taxes have been a problem for Avenatti.

The Internal Revenue Service put a $5-million lien on Global Baristas US last June, initially naming Avenatti as the person responsible for payment.

The company withheld payroll taxes from employees, but did not transmit the money to the IRS, the government said. The state of Washington has filed more than $800,000 in similar liens against the company.

When Eagan Avenatti emerged last month from an involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy triggered by an unpaid vendor, Avenatti personally agreed to pay the IRS $2.4 million in back taxes, penalties and interest, bankruptcy court records show.

Nearly $1.3 million of that was for payroll taxes that the firm withheld from employees, but failed to turn over to the government.

Avenatti, who was responsible for holding the money in trust for the IRS, has repaid $1.5 million so far, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles.

Avenatti attributed the unpaid taxes at Eagan Avenatti and the coffee company to “payroll companies that failed to do their job.”

He called the Los Angeles Times' reporting inaccurate, but said he did not have the time or energy to address further questions about his dealings with the IRS and Tully's.

The IRS also has put a $904,000 lien on all of Avenatti's personal property, due to unpaid 2009 and 2010 income taxes, Orange County records show. Avenatti said it “was placed in error,” no taxes are due and the issue was resolved many months ago. The lien remains open, according to the Orange County clerk-recorder's office.

Avenatti said his taxes and personal life were irrelevant to his role in the Daniels case.

As he tries to resolve his financial troubles, his law practice is getting enormous publicity from the sex scandal. Savannah Guthrie, Wolf Blitzer and Megyn Kelly have each grilled him on television. To buttress his case, for the public if not for the court, he rations out scoops to TV networks.

Avenatti has been especially pointed in attacking Cohen, the long-time Trump personal attorney who set up the shell corporation that paid Daniels $130,000 in hush money just before the 2016 presidential election.

On CNN, he ridiculed Cohen for saying he paid off a woman who never had sex with Trump.

“I would encourage every American tomorrow morning to call … Mr. Cohen, claim you had an affair with the president. They will promptly send you a check for $130,000, no questions asked,” Avenatti said sarcastically.

On Twitter, he rips both Cohen and Schwartz, Cohen's lawyer, punctuating tweets with his customary basta, Italian for enough.

“Where have the two legal geniuses of our time, Michael Cohen and David Schwartz, gone?” he tweeted on Thursday. “Forced to sit down by Mr. Trump after repeatedly making a disaster of their case on national television and being mocked by every real lawyer in America? #didtheygotolawschool #basta.”

Trump responds to Avenatti's provocations mostly with silence, leaving it to his spokesmen and lawyers to fight back.

Schwartz dismissed Avenatti's case as “completely wrong on the merits.”

“But,” Schwartz conceded, “he's an excellent performer.”


• To read this article in Spanish, CLICK HERE.

__________________________________________________________________________

• Michael Finnegan is a Los Angeles Times politics writer. Since joining the L.A. Times in 2000, he has covered elections for mayor, governor and president, most recently the Donald Trump campaign. In 2011, Finnegan and fellow Los Angeles Times reporter Gale Holland won the Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism for articles on rampant waste in the $6-billion rebuilding of Los Angeles community colleges. A Los Angeles native, Finnegan started newspaper work at the Hudson Dispatch in New Jersey. For seven years, he covered city and state politics at the New York Daily News. He plays piano on the side.

• Maura Dolan is the California-based legal affairs writer for the Los Angeles Times. She covers the California Supreme Court and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. A California native, she graduated from UC Berkeley and has worked in Washington and Los Angeles for the L.A. Times. She is now based in San Francisco.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • Stormy weather, or how a meeting at a golf resort blew up into a Trump scandal


http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-avenatti-stormy-trump-20180407-story.html

 38 
 on: April 10, 2018, 01:19:55 am 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The New York Times....

Europe Caught in the Middle as Trump Threatens China

The United States is Europe's biggest trading partner, but China is closing fast.
If a trade war breaks out, neutrality may not be an option.


By JACK EWING | 12:05AM EDT — Monday, April 09, 2018

Some European companies, like the German carmaker BMW, manufacture in the United States and export to China. Their sales would suffer if China slaps tariffs on American goods. — Photograph: Christof Stache/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
Some European companies, like the German carmaker BMW, manufacture in the United States and export to China. Their sales would suffer
if China slaps tariffs on American goods. — Photograph: Christof Stache/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.


FRANKFURT — One is a good customer, a military ally, and an old friend, although lately its behavior has been erratic.

The other is also a good customer and despite a few spats and some lingering mistrust, it's getting to be a more lucrative and dependable business partner all the time.

Which side would you choose?

That more or less sums up the dilemma confronting Europe as it watches the escalating conflict between its two biggest trading partners, the United States and China.

The United States is Europe's biggest market for exports like cars and other goods, not to mention a NATO ally. But China is big, too — and getting ever bigger.

The Trump administration has also threatened the institutions that govern global relationships, calling NATO obsolete and stoking trade tensions. So China no longer automatically seems like the less reliable partner.

European leaders were largely silent after President Trump threatened to impose another $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods. But watching from a safe distance as China and the United States argue is not an option for Europe. Its economy is too deeply entwined with both.

“What can they do in terms of staying out of the crossfire?” said Adam Slater, lead economist at Oxford Economics in Britain. “Not a lot.”

Although Mr. Trump's threats are aimed at China, Europe is certain to suffer collateral damage if the president follows through. A spiraling war of tariffs and counter-tariffs would interfere with the global flow of raw materials and components for manufactured goods, disrupting the European economy. And some European companies, like the German carmaker BMW, manufacture in the United States and export to China. Such companies would see their sales suffer if China were to slap tariffs on American goods.

The mere threat of a trade war has already unsettled financial markets and made it more difficult for companies to raise money, Benoît Coeuré, a member of the executive board of the European Central Bank, said on Friday. “None of this supports growth and employment,” Mr. Coeuré said at a conference in Cernobbio, Italy.


The Piraeus Container Terminal in Athens is operated by the Chinese state-owned shipping company Cosco. In recent years, Chinese investors have snapped up European assets including Greek ports, German machinery companies and a 10 percent stake in the automaker Daimler. — Photograph: Angelos Tzortzinis/The New York Times.
The Piraeus Container Terminal in Athens is operated by the Chinese state-owned shipping company Cosco. In recent years, Chinese investors
have snapped up European assets including Greek ports, German machinery companies and a 10 percent stake in the automaker Daimler.
 — Photograph: Angelos Tzortzinis/The New York Times .


The disruption to world trade comes at an unfortunate time for Europe. Recent economic indicators suggest that the Continent's recovery, after a decade of crisis, is losing momentum. Industrial production in Germany shrank 1.6 percent in February, according to official data published this week.

But European leaders' biggest fear may be that Mr. Trump's belligerent approach to trade will destroy the post-war system for resolving conflicts, which involved getting all the parties together in one room. Mr. Trump has already succeeded in forcing countries to beg for individual exemptions to steel and aluminum tariffs, bypassing the World Trade Organization, the usual forum for trade disputes.

“He has created an environment to divide countries,” said André Sapir, a senior fellow at Bruegel, a research organization in Brussels. “Maybe we will remember that 2017 was the last year of the functioning of the multilateral system.”

It's possible Europe might enjoy a few short-term benefits as China and the United States duke it out. If, for example, China were to raise tariffs on Boeing airliners, its European rival Airbus could step into the breach. But positive effects of that sort are not likely to outweigh the risks.

European companies have invested far more in the United States over the years than they have in China. But increasingly, China is where the action is. Germany's total trade with China, exports and imports together, is already bigger than it is with the United States. And China is the biggest single market for companies like Volkswagen, Europe's largest carmaker.

China is also where more German companies are putting their money.

In a poll published on Thursday, 39 percent of German companies questioned said they planned to invest in China this year, up from 37 percent in 2017. The number who said they planned to invest in North America dropped to 35 percent, from 37 percent, according to a survey by the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Even so, Europe remains wary of China's intentions. Though European leaders use tamer rhetoric, they share some of Mr. Trump's concerns about unfair competition from Chinese companies that receive government subsidies. They worry that Chinese companies are stealing European technology, and accumulating too much economic power.

In recent years, Chinese investors have snapped up European assets including Greek ports, German machinery companies and a 10 percent stake in the automaker Daimler. The Chinese government's “Made in China 2025” campaign, a plan to dominate cutting-edge industry, is a threat to German companies who supply precision machinery that the Chinese companies are not yet able to manufacture themselves.

Leaders in Brussels, Berlin and Paris have called for tighter scrutiny of Chinese acquisitions in Europe, though it is unclear how tough they will be.


A blast furnace in Salzgitter, Germany. Europe's most immediate preoccupation is to resolve its own trade disputes with Mr. Trump. The European commissioner for trade is negotiating with the U.S. commerce secretary about winning a permanent exemption from tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. — Photograph: David Hecker/European Pressphoto Agency/via Shutterstock.
A blast furnace in Salzgitter, Germany. Europe's most immediate preoccupation is to resolve its own trade disputes with Mr. Trump.
The European commissioner for trade is negotiating with the U.S. commerce secretary about winning a permanent exemption
from tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. — Photograph: David Hecker/European Pressphoto Agency/via Shutterstock.


At the same time, Europe and the United States have been through a lot together, most notably the Cold War. Both are multi-party democracies with free market economies, unlike China's one-party autocracy. And European and American historical and cultural ties go back centuries.

Still, a trade war could push Europe closer to China.

Europe's most immediate preoccupation is to resolve its own trade disputes with Mr. Trump. Cecilia Malmstrom, the European commissioner for trade, is negotiating with Wilbur Ross, the United States commerce secretary, about winning a permanent exemption from tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. A temporary exemption to the tariffs expires on May 1.

Ms. Malmstrom and other European leaders have also made plain their unhappiness with what they see as Mr. Trump's crusade to undermine the World Trade Organization as the arbiter of trade conflicts. They may see China as a potential ally in efforts to preserve the W.T.O., of which China is also a member.

“The E.U. believes that measures should always be taken within the World Trade Organization framework which provides numerous tools to effectively deal with trade differences,” a spokesperson for the European Commission said in a statement.

For the moment, there is little Europe can do but hope that Mr. Trump's bluster is just a tactic to win concessions from China, and that no trade war will break out. There are few other good options.

Mr. Sapir of Bruegel argues that, longer term, Europe should push for reforms of the trade body to respond to American criticism that the organization is too slow moving, and has failed to curb unfair competition by China. Mr. Trump is unlikely to take much interest in fixing the global trade regime rather than ignoring it, Mr. Sapir said, but it's still worth a try.

“That is the only structural solution,” Mr. Sapir said. “Otherwise we will always be caught in between.”


__________________________________________________________________________

• Jack Ewing writes about business, banking, economics and monetary policy from Frankfurt, and sometimes helps out on terrorism coverage and other breaking news. Mr. Ewing joined The International Herald Tribune, now the international edition of The New York Times, in 2010. Previously, he worked for a decade at BusinessWeek magazine in Frankfurt, where he was European regional editor. He first came to Europe in 1993 as a German Marshall Fund journalism fellow in Brussels, and wound up staying permanently. Mr. Ewing won a New York Times publisher's award in 2011 for coverage of the European debt crisis. He is the author of Faster, Higher, Farther: The Volkswagen Scandal, published in 2017 by W.W. Norton.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • Trump Aims New Threat at China as Mnuchin Warns of Trade War

 • U.S. and China Play Chicken on Trade, and Neither Swerves

 • U.S. Exempts Some Allies From Tariffs, but May Opt for Quotas

 • Wary of China, Europe and Others Push Back on Foreign Takeovers


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/09/business/europe-trump-trade-china.html

 39 
 on: April 08, 2018, 03:33:31 am 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

Quote
He said if Trump were to confess to an affair and say he's sorry if he's guilty, the country would be forgiving.

Quote
“I think seeing pornographic actresses being with the president could indeed suppress the evangelical vote,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. “In my circles, people want to live in a world where the president and a porn star are not on the news every night. I really don't want to explain again to my middle-school daughter what spanking and the president have to do with one another.”






 40 
 on: April 08, 2018, 01:07:32 am 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post....

A planned space hotel hopes to welcome guests by 2022
 — for a cost of almost $800,000 a night


The hotel will accommodate up to four travelers and two crew members at a time, the company says.

By MARWA ELTAGOURI | 9:55PM EDT — Friday, April 06, 2018

Artist's rendering of the proposed Aurora Station hotel. — Illustration: Orion Span.
Artist's rendering of the proposed Aurora Station hotel. — Illustration: Orion Span.

LOOKING FOR a getaway that offers unmatched views of sunrises and sunsets? Specifically, 384 of them in 12 days?

Try outer space.

Houston-based Orion Span hopes to launch the “first luxury hotel in space” — the 35-by-14-foot Aurora Station — by late 2021 and bring guests on board the following year. The hotel will accommodate up to four travelers and two crew members at a time, racing them around the planet at high speeds for 12 days, the company said in a news release.

Adventurers pay $9.5 million per person — or about $791,666 a night — and their $80,000 deposit can already be reserved online, company officials said. But don't fear: The deposit is fully refundable.

“We want to get people into space because it's the final frontier for our civilization,” Orion Span's founder and chief executive, Frank Bunger, told Bloomberg.

Bunger said that one reason Orion Span can aim for a price of less than $10 million per person is because of the declining price of launches.

“Everybody's forecasting that [launch prices are] going to fall,” he told Bloomberg. “Almost every week, there's another rocket-launch company that's starting up with a new way to get to orbit cheaper, faster, better.”

Orion Span's announcement of a luxury hotel in space comes amid a revival of the commercial space industry. The launch of Elon Musk's Falcon Heavy from the Kennedy Space Center in February, for example, was the latest in a series of milestones that have renewed companies' interest in space.

The launch raised the question of whether SpaceX and other private enterprises could maintain their momentum and fulfill the promise of returning humans to space. That likelihood could increase as the Trump administration looks to restructure the role of NASA, allowing private enterprise and international partners to work closely with the space agency.

Orion Span's proposed hotel offers plenty of attractions: zero-gravity flying throughout the station, views of patrons' home towns from space, the ability to take part in research experiments such as growing food while in orbit, and live-streams with friends and family at home through high-speed Internet.

Since commercial spaceflight has yet to launch humans into space, Aurora Station visitors will have three months of training, which would begin with online courses to better understand “basic spaceflight, orbital mechanics, and pressurized environments in space,” officials told Bloomberg. The guests will also have contingency training at the company's headquarters in Houston.

“Orion Span has … taken what was historically a 24-month training regimen to prepare travelers to visit a space station and streamlined it to three months, at a fraction of the cost,” company officials said. “Our goal is to make space accessible to all, by continuing to drive greater value at lower cost.”

Bunger, a former software engineer, told Bloomberg that the experience won't be for everyone. The Aurora Station will mainly cater to those who are passionate about space and astronomical study.

“We're not selling a hey-let's-go-to-the-beach equivalent in space,” Bunger said. “We're selling the experience of being an astronaut. You reckon that there are people who are willing to pay to have that experience.”


__________________________________________________________________________

Christian Davenport contributed to this report.

• Marwa Eltagouri is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post. She previously worked as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, where she covered crime, immigration and neighborhood change.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • The crowds are back. Now can the space industry build on the momentum?


https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2018/04/06/a-planned-space-hotel-hopes-to-welcome-guests-by-2022-for-a-cost-of-almost-800000-a-night

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