КУПУЙ

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vows the United States will be victorious in any trade war with China, a day before the Trump administration’s latest tariffs on Chinese imports go into effect.

Pompeo told Fox News on Sunday. “We are going to get an outcome which forces China to behave in a way that if you want to be a power, a global power… you do not steal intellectual property.”

The Trump administration has argued tariffs on Chinese goods would force China to trade on more favorable terms with the United States.

It has demanded that China better protect American intellectual property, including ending the practice of cyber theft. The Trump administration has also called on China to allow U.S. companies greater access to Chinese markets and to cut its U.S. trade surplus.

Last week, the United States ordered duties on another $200 billion of Chinese goods to go into effect on September 24 (Monday). China responded by adding $60 billion of U.S. products to its import tariff list.

The Untied States already has imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China has retaliated on an equal amount of U.S. goods.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump threatened more tariffs on Chinese goods — another $267 billion worth of duties that would cover virtually all the goods China imports to the United States.

 

Comcast beat Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox in the battle for Sky after offering 30.6 billion pounds ($40 billion) for the British broadcaster, in a dramatic auction to decide the fate of the pay-television group.

U.S. cable giant Comcast bid 17.28 pounds a share for control of London-listed Sky, bettering a 15.67 offer by Fox, the Takeover Panel said in a  statement shortly after final bids were made Saturday.

Comcast’s final offer was significantly higher than its bid going into the auction of 14.75 pounds, and compares with Sky’s closing share price of 15.85 pounds on Friday.

Brian Roberts, chairman and chief executive of Comcast, coveted Sky to expand its international presence as growth slows in its core U.S. market.

Owning Sky will make Comcast the world’s largest pay-TV operator with around 52 million customers.

“This is a great day for Comcast,” Roberts said on Saturday. “This acquisition will allow us to quickly, efficiently and meaningfully increase our customer base and expand internationally.”

Comcast, which also owns the NBC network and movie studio Universal Pictures, encouraged Sky shareholders to accept its offer. It said it wanted to complete the deal by the end of October.

Comcast, which requires 50 percent plus one share of Sky’s equity to win control, said it was also seeking to buy Sky shares in the market.

A spokesman for Fox, which has a 39 percent holding in Sky, declined to comment.

The quick-fire auction marked a dramatic climax to a protracted transatlantic bidding battle waged since February, when Comcast gate-crashed Fox’s takeover of Sky.

It is a blow to media mogul Murdoch, 87, and the U.S. media and entertainment group that he controls, which had been trying to take full ownership of Sky since December 2016.

It is also a setback for U.S. entertainment giant Walt Disney, which agreed on a separate $71 billion deal to buy the bulk of Fox’s film and TV assets, including the Sky stake, in June and would have taken ownership of the British broadcaster following a successful Fox takeover.

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s aides have begun contingency planning for a snap election in November to save both Brexit and her job, the Sunday Times reported.

The newspaper said that two senior members of May’s Downing Street political team began “war-gaming” an autumn vote to win public backing for a new plan, after her Brexit proposals were criticized at a summit in Salzburg last week.

Downing Street was not immediately available to comment on the report.

Meanwhile, opposition Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn said Saturday that his party would challenge May on any Brexit deal she could strike with Brussels, and he said there should be a national election if the deal fell short.

The British government said Saturday that it would not “capitulate” to European Union demands in Brexit talks and again urged the bloc to engage with its proposals after May said Brexit talks with the EU had hit an impasse.

“We will challenge this government on whatever deal it brings back on our six tests, on jobs, on living standards, on environmental protections,” Corbyn told a rally in Liverpool, northern England, on the eve of Labor’s annual conference.

“And if this government can’t deliver, then I simply say to Theresa May the best way to settle this is by having a general election.”

Labor’s six tests consist of whether a pact would provide for fair migration, a collaborative relationship with the EU, national security and cross-border crime safeguards, even treatment for all U.K. regions, protection of workers’ rights, and maintenance of single-market benefits.

Tensions between China and the United States escalated Saturday as China’s Foreign Ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad to issue a harsh protest against U.S. sanctions set for the purchase of Russian fighter jets and surface-to-air missiles.

The move came hours after China canceled trade talks with the U.S. following Washington’s imposition of new tariffs on Chinese goods.

The statement on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website called the imposition of sanctions “a serious violation of the basic principles of international law” and a “hegemonic act.” The ministry also wrote, “Sino-Russian military cooperation is the normal cooperation of the two sovereign states, and the U.S. has no right to interfere.” The U.S. actions, it said, “have seriously damaged the relations” with China. 

China had earlier called on the U.S. to withdraw the sanctions, and speaking to reporters Friday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing had lodged an official protest with the United States.

China’s purchase of the weapons from Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport violated a 2017 U.S. law intended to punish the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin for interfering in U.S. elections and other activities. The U.S. action set in motion a visa ban on China’s Equipment Development Department and director Li Shangfu, forbids transactions with the U.S. financial system, and blocks all property and interests in property involving the country within U.S. jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported that China had planned to send Vice Premier Liu He to Washington next week for trade talks, but canceled his trip, along with that of a midlevel delegation that was to precede him.

Earlier Friday, a senior White House official had said the U.S. was optimistic about finding a way forward in trade talks with China.

The official told reporters at the White House that China “must come to the table in a meaningful way” for there to be progress on the trade dispute. 

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that while there was no confirmed meeting between the United States and China, the two countries “remain in touch.”

“The president’s team is all on the same page as to what’s required from China,” according to the official.

The Trump administration has argued that tariffs on Chinese goods would force China to trade on more favorable terms with the United States. 

It has demanded that China better protect American intellectual property, including ending the practice of cybertheft. The Trump administration has also called on China to allow U.S. companies greater access to Chinese markets and to cut its U.S. trade surplus.

Earlier this week, the United States ordered duties on another $200 billion of Chinese goods to go into effect on Sept. 24. China responded by adding $60 billion of U.S. products to its import tariff list.

The United States already has imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China has retaliated on an equal amount of U.S. goods.

Національне агентство з питань запобігання корупції наступного року планує виплатити 565,6 мільйона гривень парламентським партіям на статутну діяльність. Така інформація міститься в проекті державного бюджету на наступний рік, передає #Точно, проект Радіо Свобода.

Зокрема, у різних пропорціях гроші отримають «Народний фронт», «Блок Петра Порошенка», «Самопоміч», Радикальна партія Олега Ляшка, «Опозиційний блок» та «Батьківщина».

У 2015 році Верховна Рада ухвалила закон, який передбачає фінансування партій з держбюджету і вимагає від партій звітувати про надходження і використання коштів. Наразі державне фінансування отримують лише парламентські партії, а з наступних виборів до Верховної Ради – всі політичні сили, які пройдуть бар’єр у 2% від всіх голосів виборців. Тобто партія може не потрапити до парламенту, але матиме можливість отримувати на розвиток кошти з держбюджету.

Цього року стало відомо, що 900 мільйонів гривень виплатили партіям від початку державного фінансування.

За останніми дослідженнями Комітету виборців України, партії витрачають мільйони гривень платників податків на свою рекламу.

America’s rediscovered prowess in oil production is shaking up old notions about the impact of higher crude prices on the U.S. economy.

It has long been conventional wisdom that rising oil prices hurt the economy by forcing consumers to spend more on gasoline and heating their homes, leaving less for other things.

Presumably that kind of run-up would slow the U.S. economy. Instead, the economy grew at its fastest rate in nearly four years during the April-through-June quarter.

President Donald Trump appears plainly worried about rising oil prices just a few weeks before mid-term elections that will decide which party controls the House and Senate.

“We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices!” Trump tweeted Thursday. “We will remember. The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!”

Members of The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, who account for about one-third of global oil supplies, are scheduled to meet this weekend with non-members including Russia.

The gathering isn’t expected to yield any big decisions — those typically come at major OPEC meetings like the one set for December. Oil markets, however, were roiled Friday by a report that attendees were considering a significant increase in production to offset declining output from Iran, where exports have fallen ahead of Trump’s re-imposition of sanctions.

OPEC and Russia have capped production since January 2017 to bolster prices. Output fell even below those targets this year, and in June the same countries agreed to boost the oil supply, although they didn’t give numbers.

Rising oil prices

Oil prices are up roughly 40 percent in the past year. On Friday, benchmark U.S. crude was trading around $71 a barrel, and the international standard, Brent, was closing in on $80.

The national average price for gasoline stood at $2.85 per gallon, up 10 percent from a year ago, according to auto club AAA. That increase likely would be greater were it not for a slump in gasoline demand that is typical for this time of year, when summer vacations are over.

The United States still imports about 6 million barrels of oil a day on average, but that is down from more than 10 million a decade ago. In the same period, U.S. production has doubled to more than 10 million barrels a day, according to government figures.

“Because the U.S. now is producing so much more than it used to, [the rise in oil prices] is not as big an impact as it would have been 20 years ago or 10 years ago,” said Michael Maher, an energy researcher at Rice University and a former Exxon Mobil economist.

The weakening link between oil and the overall economy was seen — in reverse — three years ago. Then, plunging oil prices were expected to boost the economy by leaving more money in consumers’ pocket, yet GDP growth slowed at the same time that lower oil prices took hold during 2015.

Other economists caution against minimizing the disruption caused by energy prices.

“Higher oil prices are unambiguously bad for the U.S. economy,” said Philip Verleger, an economist who has studied energy markets. “They force consumers to divert their income from spending on other items to spending on fuels.”

Since energy amounts to only about 3 percent of consumer spending, a cutback in that other 97 percent “causes losses for those who sell autos, restaurants, airlines, resorts and all parts of the economy,” Verleger said.

Pack leader

The federal Energy Information Administration said this month that the U.S. likely reclaimed the title of world’s biggest oil producer earlier this year by surpassing the output of Saudi Arabia in February and Russia over the summer. If the agency’s estimates are correct, it would mark the first time since 1973 that the U.S. has led the oil-pumping pack.

And that has made the impact of oil prices on the economy a more complicated calculation.

When oil prices tumbled starting in mid-2014, U.S. energy producers cut back on drilling. They cut thousands of jobs and they spent less on rigs, steel pipes and railcars to ship crude to refineries. That softened the bounce that economists expected to see from cheaper oil.

Now, with oil prices rising, energy companies are boosting production, creating an economic stimulus that offsets some of the blow from higher prices on consumers. Oil- and gas-related investment accounted for about 40 percent of the growth in business investment in the April-June quarter this year.

Moody’s Analytics estimates that every penny increase at the pump reduces consumer spending by $1 billion over a year, and gasoline has jumped 24 cents in the past year, according to AAA. That is “a clear-cut negative,” but not deeply damaging, said Ryan Sweet, director of real-time economics at Moody’s.

“Usually with gasoline prices, speed kills — a gradual increase [like the current one], consumers can absorb that,” Sweet said. Consumers have other factors in their favor, he added, including a tight job market, wage growth, better household balance sheets, and the recent tax cut.

Sweet said the boon that higher prices represent to the growing energy sector, which can invest in more wells, equipment and hiring, means that the run-up in crude has probably been “a small but net positive” for the economy.

“That could change if we get up to $3.50, $4,” he said.

China has canceled trade talks with the United States following Washington’s imposition of new tariffs on Chinese goods.

The Wall Street Journal reports that China had planned to send Vice Premier Liu He to Washington next week for the talks, but has now canceled his trip along with that of a midlevel delegation that was to precede him.

US was optimistic

Earlier Friday, a senior White House official said the U.S. was optimistic about finding a way forward in trade talks with China.

The official told reporters at the White House that China “must come to the table in a meaningful way” for there to be progress on the trade dispute.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said while there was no confirmed meeting between the United States and China, the two countries “remain in touch.”

“The president’s team is all on the same page as to what’s required from China,” according to the official.

Trade imbalance

The Trump administration has argued that tariffs on Chinese goods would force China to trade on more favorable terms with the United States.

It has demanded that China better protect American intellectual property, including ending the practice of cybertheft. The Trump administration has also called on China to allow U.S. companies greater access to Chinese markets and to cut its U.S. trade surplus.

Earlier this week, the United States ordered duties on another $200 billion of Chinese goods to go into effect Sept. 24. China responded by adding $60 billion of U.S. products to its import tariff list.

The United States has imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China has retaliated on an equal amount of U.S. goods.

Tariffs on all China imports?

Earlier this month, President Trump threatened even more tariffs on Chinese goods — another $267 billion worth of duties that would cover virtually all the goods China imports to the United States.

“That changes the equation,” he told reporters.

China has threatened to retaliate against any potential new tariffs. However, China’s imports from the United States are $200 billion a year less than American imports from China, so it would run out of room to match U.S. sanctions.

Прем’єр-міністр Великобританії Тереза Мей вважає неприйнятними пропозиції Європейського союзу щодо Brexit, повідомляє прес-служба Даунінґ-стріт, 10.

Виступаючи з заявою в Лондоні 21 вересня, прем’єр зазначила, що непогодженими залишаються питання єдиного з Євросоюзом ринку та кордону між Північною Ірландією та Республікою Ірландія.

Як розповіла Мей, за результатами саміту в Зальцбурзі 19–20 вересня  Брюссель пропонує Лондону лише два варіанти.

За першим Великобританія залишається в Європейській економічній зоні та митному союзі. Другий варіант передбачає укладення угоди про вільну торгівлю між Сполученим Королівством і Євросоюзом з запровадженням прикордонного контролю.

За останнім сценарієм Північна Ірландія лишається в Європейській економічній зоні, тобто, фактично, з економічної точки зору буде відокремлена від решти країни, пояснила Мей.

В свою чергу Британія пропонує ЄС третій варіант, за яким між ними залишається «безконтрольна» торгівля.

«Вчора Дональд Туск зазначив, що наші пропозиції можуть підірвати єдиний ринок. Він не пояснив жодних деталей і не надав зустрічних пропозицій. Отже, ми перебуваємо в глухому куті», ­ – зазначила прем’єр-міністр.

Вона підкреслила, що Британія ніколи не погодиться на останні пропозиції Євросоюзу, які б могли нашкодити територіальній цілісності країни.

«Ми викладемо нашу альтернативу, яка збереже цілісність Великої Британії. І це буде відповідати зобов’язанням, прийнятим у грудні минулого року, включаючи зобов’язання про те, що між Північною Ірландією та іншою частиною Великої Британії не буде створено нових регуляторних бар’єрів», – сказала Мей.

Вона додала, що її уряд буде й далі працювати над підготовкою до можливого виходу з ЄС без угоди з Брюсселем.

20 вересня на саміті ЄС в австрійському Зальцбурзі лідери Євросоюзу зажадали від Мей якомога швидше викласти позицію з ключових пунктів переговорів про вихід країни з об’єднання, таких, як торговельні відносини з Євросоюзом і режим кордону між Ірландією і Північною Ірландією.

Офіційним днем виходу Великої Британії зі складу Євросоюзу є 29 березня 2019 року, після цього почнеться так званий «перехідний період», який триватиме до 2021 року. У липні британський уряд представив проект угоди про вихід з ЄС, згідно з яким країна продовжить слідувати стандартам ЄС в багатьох економічних питаннях і отримає право на необмежену торгівлю сільськогосподарськими товарами на Європейському єдиному ринку.

Євроскептики розкритикували цей проект як занадто «м’який» і невигідний для Лондона. Частина соратників Мей із Консервативної партії тепер, за повідомленнями ЗМІ, готують її відставку. З іншого боку, лунають голоси і про необхідність провести повторний референдум і переглянути рішення про вихід Британії з ЄС.

Self-driving technology is making online shopping a more convenient, more cost-effective experience. One new startup in San Jose, California, is launching a fully driverless delivery service, which many predict is something customers will be seeing a lot more of in the future. Faiza Elmasry takes a look at how these driverless cars are making people’s lives easier, in this report narrated by Faith Lapidus.

Facebook Inc. said Thursday that it would no longer dispatch employees to the offices of political campaigns to offer support ahead of elections, as it did with U.S. President Donald Trump in the 2016 race.

The company and other major online ad sellers, including Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Twitter Inc., have long offered free dedicated assistance to strengthen relationships with top advertisers such as presidential campaigns.

Brad Parscale, who was Trump’s online ads chief in 2016, last year called on-site “embeds” from Facebook crucial to the candidate’s victory. Facebook has said that Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton was offered identical help, but she accepted a different level than Trump.

Google and Twitter did not immediately respond to requests to comment on whether they also would pull back support.

Facebook said it could offer assistance to more candidates globally by focusing on offering support through an online portal instead of in person. It said that political organizations still would be able to contact employees to

receive basic training on using Facebook or for assistance on getting ads approved.

Bloomberg first reported the new approach.

Shaping communications

Facebook, Twitter, and Google served as “quasi-digital consultants” to U.S. election campaigns in 2016, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and University of Utah found in a paper published a year ago.

The companies helped campaigns navigate their services’ ad systems and “actively” shaped campaign communication by suggesting what types of messages to direct to whom, the researchers stated.

Facebook’s involvement with Trump’s campaign drew scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers after the company found its user data had separately been misused by political data firm Cambridge Analytica, which consulted for the Trump campaign. 

In written testimony to U.S. lawmakers in June, Facebook said its employees had not spotted any misuse “in the course of their interactions with Cambridge Analytica” during the election.

Canada and the United States showed scant sign on Thursday of closing a deal to revamp NAFTA, and Canadian officials made clear Washington needed to withdraw a threat of possible autos tariffs, sources said.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump wants to be able to agree on a text of the three-nation North American Free Trade Agreement by the end of September, but major differences remain.

“We discussed some tough issues today,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters after meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Freeland, who has visited Washington four weeks in a row to discuss NAFTA, gave no further details.

Market fears over the future of the 1994 pact, which underscores $1.2 trillion in trade, have been regularly hitting stocks in all three nations, whose economies are now highly integrated.

While multiple deadlines have passed during the more than year-long negotiations to renew NAFTA, pressure on Canada to agree to a deal is growing, partly to push it through the U.S. Congress before Mexico’s new government takes office on Dec. 1.

Canada says it does not feel bound by the latest deadline.

Asked whether time was running out, Freeland said her focus was getting a deal that was good for Canadians.

Trump came to power last year vowing to tear up NAFTA unless major changes were made to a pact he blames for the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs.

Trump struck a side-deal on NAFTA with Mexico last month and has threatened to exclude Canada if necessary. He also said he might impose a 25 percent tariff on Canadian autos exports, which would badly hurt the economy.

​Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union, who was briefed on the talks by Canada’s negotiating team, said Ottawa insisted that the tariff threat be withdrawn.

“Why would Canada sign a trade agreement with the United States … and then have Donald Trump impose a 25 percent tariff on automobiles?” Dias told reporters.

“That for us is a deal breaker. It doesn’t make a stitch of sense. … We are a small nation, we’re not a stupid nation,” added Dias.

Freeland said she would return to Canada on Thursday ahead of a two-day meeting of female foreign ministers she is co-hosting in Montreal. Early next week she will be in New York for a United Nations session.

Ottawa is under pressure from some sectors to abandon its insistence that a bad NAFTA is worse than no NAFTA.

Jim Wilson, the trade minister of Ontario — Canada’s most populous province and heart of the country’s auto industry — met federal negotiators on Wednesday and tweeted on Thursday, “It is imperative that the feds reach a deal.”

The Globe and Mail newspaper on Thursday reported that U.S. negotiators want Ottawa to agree to capping its auto exports to the United States at 1.7 million vehicles a year, something that Canadian industry sources dismissed as unacceptable.

Separately, a Canadian source directly familiar with the negotiations said, “We have not discussed a cap.”

Reuters and other outlets reported in August that a side letter with Mexico would cap tariff-free or nearly duty-free Mexican imports to the United States at 2.4 million vehicles.

U.S. automakers privately question why the United States would seek to cap Canadian exports to the United States, given that companies are unlikely to expand production in Canada compared with lower-cost Mexico.

Seven years after the Arab Spring, little has been done to address youth unemployment in Tunisia, a key factor in extremist groups’ ability to recruit marginalized youth, rights groups and experts warn.

“Someone who is marginalized with nothing to lose, no stability in life, no vision of the future, no hope for change, can become a very easy target for terrorist groups,” Amna Guellali, director of Human Rights Watch’s Tunisia office, told VOA.

The Arab Spring was ignited in Tunisia, in part because of deteriorating economic conditions. A frustrated street vendor set himself on fire outside a local municipal office in Sidi Bouzid to protest repeated harassment from authorities, who often confiscated his goods or fined him for selling without a permit. 

Although economic conditions that force people to eke out a living on society’s margins play a big role in the unrest, Guellali said that unemployment is the central issue in Tunisia.

 “Unemployment stands at 15 percent, rising to 36 percent for Tunisians under 24 years old. Unemployed youths with diplomas are 25 percent, according to the last statistic of 2017,” Guellali added.

The World Bank, which has been helping Tunisia in its development, has also warned that unemployment among young people is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

Economic growth 

The World Bank says Tunisia has made progress in its transition to democracy and good governance practices, compared with other countries in the Middle East, but still grapples with growing its economy and providing economic opportunities. 

Tunisia’s economic growth in the post-Arab Spring era remains weak despite a modest increase in 2017. According to World Bank data, the economy grew by 1.9 percent in 2017 compared with 1.0 percent in 2016. Since the revolution, the economy has been growing by an average 1.5 percent annually, lower than previous years.

“Tunisian youth don’t see improvement; they actually see that the economic conditions have worsened more than the previous regime,” Darine El Hage, a regional program manager at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), told VOA. 

El Hage added that the institute’s field research indicates that Tunisian youth are both frustrated and feel hopeless, with some appreciating the previous government of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali for its relative stability. 

Mohamed Malouche, founder of the Tunisian American Young Professionals organization, agrees. He believes that ordinary Tunisians feel betrayed by the country’s politicians.

“The Tunisian public has been very patient, but they are not seeing that democracy is paying off. They all feel that they have been cheated by politicians,” Malouche said. 

Ripe for extremism

Terror groups such as the Islamic State group and al-Qaida have large numbers of Tunisians among their ranks and are active in various countries in the region.

Youssef Cherif, an independent Tunisian analyst, believes that when young people join militant groups, it is not due to ideological or religious preferences.

“Tunisian youth are trying to find a space where they can feel that they are important and feel a sense of identity and sense of belonging,” Cherif said.

Malouche agrees. “The lack of economic opportunities, the feeling of injustice and the lack of trust in the government institutions force Tunisian youth to take the extremism route,” he said. 

“Tunisia is becoming a fertile ground to extremism recruiters who are taking advantage of vulnerable young men by offering them money and promises,” he added.

Malouche said lack of political representation is also a factor.

“The Tunisian youth are not [seeing] themselves in the political process. They don’t feel that they are truly represented by the current people in power,” he said.

Root causes

Since the toppling of autocrat Ben Ali in 2011, nine Cabinets have been elected, none of which fully addressed high inflation and unemployment.

“The government has not addressed the root causes of the situation. They haven’t adopted comprehensive policies. They only adopted some cosmetic measures,” Human Rights Watch’s Guellali said.

The government is trying to encourage foreign investment, but continued instability has deterred investors, she said. 

Political division

Political differences between President Beji Caid Essebsi and Prime Minister Youssef Chahed further complicate efforts to bring about reforms.

In July, Essebsi urged the prime minister to step down, citing the country’s political and economic problems. Chahed ignored the call.

“A change of government will shake the confidence of Tunisia’s international partners … as economic data will begin to improve by the end of this year [2018],” Chahed told state news agency TAP, responding to the president’s call for his resignation.

The Tunisian government has taken a number of steps to try to address  inflation and unemployment, including efforts to strengthen small businesses in the country and exemption of foreign companies from taxation to encourage more foreign investment. But analysts, like USIP’s El Hage, believe that these solutions are at best easy fixes.

“There are some mobilizations at the level of the government. However, these mobilizations are short-lived and don’t reflect long-term and comprehensive economic reform policy,” El Hage said. 

Some of the information in this report came from Reuters.

The European Union’s consumer protection chief said Thursday she’s growing impatient with Facebook’s efforts to improve transparency with users about their data, warning it could face sanctions for not complying.

EU Consumer Commissioner Vera Jourova turned up the pressure on the social media giant, saying she wants the company to update its terms of service and expects to see its proposed changes by mid-October so they can take effect in December.

 

“I will not hide that I am becoming rather impatient because we have been in dialogue with Facebook almost two years and I really want to see, not the progress — it’s not enough for me — but I want to see the results,” Jourova said.

 

The EU wants Facebook to give users more information about how their data is used and how it works with third party makers of apps, games and quizzes.

 

“If we do not see the progress the sanctions will have to come,” she said. She didn’t specify punishment, saying they would be applied by individual countries. “I was quite clear we cannot negotiate forever, we just want to see the result.”

 

The EU has been pressing the U.S. tech company to look at what changes it needs to make to better protect consumers and this year Facebook has had to adapt to new EU data protection rules. The concerns took on greater urgency after the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal erupted, in which data on 87 million Facebook users was allegedly improperly harvested.

Jourova said she hopes Facebook will take more responsibility for its nearly 380 million European users.

 

“We want Facebook to be absolutely clear to its users about how their service operates and makes money,” she said.

 

Facebook said it has already updated its terms of service in May to incorporate changes recommended at that point by EU authorities.

 

The company said it “will continue our close cooperation to understand any further concerns and make appropriate updates.”

 

Jourova also said U.S.-based property rental site Airbnb has agreed to clarify its pricing system in response to complaints that it could mislead consumers.

 

Airbnb has promised to be fully transparent by either including extra fees in the total price for a booking quoted on its website or notifying users that they might apply, she said.

 

The company is complying with EU demands spurred by concerns that consumers could be confused by its complicated pricing structure, which could add unexpected costs such as cleaning charges at the end of a holiday.

 

Airbnb is also changing its terms of service to make it clear that travelers can sue their host if they suffer personal harm or other damages. That’s in response to complaints that its booking system can leave tourists stranded if the rental is canceled when all other arrangements have been already made.

 

Airbnb said “guests have always been aware of all fees, including service charges and taxes, before booking listings,” and will work with authorities to make it even clearer.

 

 

 

New U.S. claims for jobless benefits fell for the third week in a row, hitting their lowest level in nearly 49 years for the third straight week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The new figures suggest the U.S. economy’s vigorous job creation continued unabated this month as the data were collected during the survey week for the department’s more closely watched monthly jobs report, due out next week.

Amid a widely reported labor shortage, employers are reluctant to lay off workers who are difficult to replace.

For the week ended September 12, new claims for unemployment insurance fell to 201,000, down 3,000 from the prior week. Economists had instead been expecting a result of 209,000.

The result was the lowest level since November of 1969, whereas the prior week’s level had been the lowest since December 1969.

However, economists say that in reality the levels are likely the lowest ever, given demographic changes in the United States in the past half century.

Claims have now held below the symbolic level of 300,000 for more than 3.5 years, the longest such streak ever recorded.

Though they can see big swings from week to week, jobless claims are an indication of the prevalence of layoffs and the health of jobs markets.

In a decade of economic recovery, the United States has seen uninterrupted job creation, driving the unemployment rate to historical lows.

In light of these trends, the Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise interest rates next week to prevent inflation from rising too quickly.

 

 

 

When Behnoush Babzani turned 35, she threw a party. She also used her birthday to ask friends to donate to a cause she cares about deeply: helping people who need bone marrow transplants.

She herself received a bone marrow transplant from her brother.

“It’s not that my body was making cancerous cells, it was that my body was making no cells,” she said. “So think about the boy in the bubble. I had to be isolated. I didn’t have an immune system to protect me.”

Using a new feature on Facebook, Babzani in a few clicks posted a photo of herself in a hospital gown when she was receiving treatment and she asked her friends to help raise $350.

 

WATCH: Facebook’s Birthday Fundraiser Feature Brings Smiles to Charitable Causes

New way to raise money for causes

Facebook has always been a convenient way to send birthday wishes to friends. Now users have started taking advantage of a new feature introduced a year ago by the popular social networking site to turn birthday wishes into donations to help a favorite cause.

It’s turned into a huge success for charities. In its first year, Facebook’s birthday fundraiser feature raised more than $300 million for charities around the world. With a new revenue source, some charities are rethinking some of their standard fundraising activities.

The success of the Facebook birthday feature comes as social media users have begun to question how internet services connecting friends and family around the world have also become a mechanism for some to spread hate or influence foreign elections.

​Networks used to spread hate

Along with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, testified in the U.S. Senate recently about steps the company has taken to identify and remove posts that violate the company’s terms of service.

“We were too slow to spot this, and too slow to act. That is on us,” Sandberg told the Senate committee.

Yet, the birthday fundraiser feature shows the power of using social media for good, says Facebook spokeswoman, Roya Winner.

“It gives people who are celebrating a birthday, a chance to turn that day into something that’s bigger than themselves,” she said.

Some of the biggest recipients have been St. Jude, the children’s hospital, the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Cancer Society, No Kid Hungry, which focuses on child hunger in the U.S., and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

In the days that followed, Behnoush surpassed her goal, raising more than $1,700. Her social network became an army pulling together to do good.

Rescuing sea lions

Two weeks before his 65th birthday, Stan Jensen, retired from working in sales at a Silicon Valley firm, received a message from Facebook asking if he wanted to mark the occasion of his birthday by dedicating the day to a cause. He did.

He turned to 1,400 Facebook friends to help raise money for the Marine Mammal Center in Northern California, where he volunteers once a week helping injured sea lions.

He raised $2,300. 

“It surpassed my wildest dreams,” he said, and he let his friends know they made a difference.

“You’ve bought a ton of fish,” he told them. “You are feeding all the animals we have on site for several days.”

His birthday is coming up again, and the sea lions are always hungry. He’s perfecting his pitch: “I know I’m special to you, but I’d like just the cost of a Starbucks coffee. Just $5. Please.”

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