US President Donald Trump has named senior Treasury Department official David Malpass to lead the World Bank.
 
If approved, he is expected to push the bank to narrow the focus of its lending to the world's poorest countries, among other changes.
 
His nomination has stirred debate, as some worry that Mr Malpass, a critic of the bank, will seek to reduce its role.
 
White House officials said Mr Malpass, a long-time Republican, would be a "pro-growth reformer".
 
At a press conference in Washington, Mr Trump praised Mr Malpass as a "strong advocate for accountability at the World Bank for a long time".
 
The president, who frequently criticises multilateral institutions, said he expected Mr Malpass to ensure that the bank's dollars "are spent effectively and wisely, serve American interests and defend American values."
 
The White House describes Mr Malpass as a "pro-growth reformer"
Who is David Malpass?
Mr Malpass, a Trump loyalist, was a senior economic adviser to the US president during his 2016 election campaign.
 
He has served as the Treasury Department's undersecretary for international affairs since August 2017.
 
The 62-year-old has criticised the World Bank, along with other institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, for being "intrusive" and "entrenched".
 
He has also pushed the bank to reduce its lending to China, which he says is too wealthy to deserve such aid, and deploys harsh practices when lending to other countries.
 
Who is Trump's World Bank pick Malpass?
The US, the World Bank's largest shareholder and a major source of its funding, has traditionally held sway over the selection process for president.
 
An American has led the institution since its start in the 1940s, when it was created to help rebuild Europe in the aftermath of World War II.
 
However, there has been increased pressure to diversify the bank's leadership, reflecting the economic rise of other countries in recent decades.
 
Counting the votes
It is not clear if other countries will propose alternatives to challenge Mr Malpass for the presidency.
 
The World Bank, which has 189 members, is accepting names until 14 March and plans to create a shortlist of up to three candidates for interviews.
 
Its executive board expects to vote on candidates before its April meeting.
 
The US controls 16% of the 25-member board's voting power.
 
European shareholders, who control another significant chunk of voting power, are also unlikely to block the pick, according to News reports.
 
The World Bank helped to fund repairs of the Kariba Dam
White House officials said Mr Malpass would champion "pro-growth" policies, emphasising the role of the private sector, increased lending transparency and more "competitive" tax systems.
 
He will also oversee implementation of reforms the US pushed last year, which coupled an increase in money for the bank with changes aimed at reducing lending to China.
 
Officials said Mr Malpass's nomination did not signal a lack of support for the organisation, which helps finance development projects with loans, credits and grants, committing more than $60bn (£46.3bn) in its most recent financial year,
 
However, they said the administration did want to see changes to make it more effective.
 
"Sometimes that does require real reform and modernising ways of doing business," a senior administration official said during a background briefing with reporters.
 
The World Bank's search was triggered by the unexpected resignation of Jim Yong Kim
If approved, Mr Malpass would replace Jim Yong Kim, a doctor and former president of Dartmouth University, who unexpectedly resigned last month.
 
Mr Kim, whose tenure had been rocky, is joining a private equity fund.
 
 
Source: PmNews
In a bid to contain the increasing number of refugees and asylum seekers wanting to illegally force their way to greener pastures, the US has deployed an additional 2,000 troops to its border with Mexico.
 
That much information was revealed by the Pentagon which noted that the addition will bring the total number of troops stationed on the southern border to about 4,300.
 
The Pentagon added that the soldiers would help border-patrol agents, carry out surveillance work and install miles of razor wire.
 
In addition, the US defence department said 3,750 extra soldiers would be sent to the border, although many will replace troops already there. The first deployments took place in November.
 
“Additional units are being deployed for 90 days, and we will continue to evaluate the force composition required to meet the mission to protect and secure the southern border,” a Pentagon statement said.
 
The move by the Pentagon comes after President Donald Trump battled Congress for funds to build a wall along the border saying such a measure is needed to stop illegal immigration.
 
 
Source: Routers
Embattled president of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro is claiming that US president Donald Trump is out to kill him by ordering his assassination.
 
Maduro, 56, made the submission an interview with Moscow’s RIA news agency as his main global backer Russia called on Wednesday for mediation in a standoff deepening geopolitical splits.
 
“Donald Trump has without doubt given an order to kill me and has told the government of Colombia and the Colombian mafia to kill me,” Maduro said, reprising a constant accusation of his and Chavez’s over the years.
 
Maduro’s comments comes hours after the country’s Supreme Court placed a travel ban on opposition leader Juan Gaido whose accounts were also frozen.
 
 
Source: NAN
US President Donald Trump is televised discussing the southern border wall as traders work on the floor at closing bell of the Dow Industrial Average at the New York Stock Exchange on January 10, 2019 in New York.  
 
Wall Street stocks declined in early trading on Friday following tepid US inflation data, while General Motors surged on a strong profit forecast.
 
About 10 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 23,875.88, down 0.5 percent.
 
The broad-based S&P 500 and tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index also shed 0.5 percent, with the former at 2,583.66 and the latter at 6,951.19.
 
The Consumer Price Index, which tracks costs for household goods and services, fell by 0.1 percent last month from November, the first decline since March, as falling fuel prices masked steady gains in food and shelter costs.
 
The new figures confirm the view of Federal Reserve bankers that they can hold off on raising interest rates again any time soon in the absence of inflation pressure.
 
US stocks have risen the last five sessions on dovish reassurances from Fed officials and hopes over US-China trade talks will yield a deal. Still, some analysts say stocks could be primed to retreat after the strong run due to technical factors.
 
Among individual companies, General Motors surged 7.0 percent after forecasting better-than-expected profits for 2018 and 2019 following job cuts announced in December.
 
 
 
Source: NAN
The US state department has urged Americans to “exercise increased caution” when travelling to China after a spate of high-profile detentions.
 
Its updated advice warns that US citizens have been arbitrarily prevented from leaving the country.
 
The warning comes as two Canadian citizens remain in detention in China.
 
Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were arrested last month as relations between the two countries worsened.
 
The pair face accusations of harming national security and, on Thursday, China’s top prosecutor said they had “without a doubt” violated the law.
 
Separately, three US citizens were accused of committing “economic crimes”and barred from leaving China in November.
 
Victor and Cynthia Liu, who are the children of a fugitive businessman, and their mother, Sandra Han, have reportedly been detained since June.
 
“US citizens may be detained without access to… consular services or information about their alleged crime,” the advisory reads.
 
“Individuals not involved in legal proceedings or suspected of wrongdoing have also been subjected to lengthy exit bans in order to compel their family members or colleagues to co-operate with Chinese courts,” the state department said in a separate warning issued last January.
 
The latest advice also warns of “special restrictions” on those who hold dual US-Chinese citizenship.
 
Dual-citizenship is not allowed under Chinese law, and the state department has warned that US-Chinese nationals can be detained and denied US assistance in China.
 
It advises travelling on a US passport with a valid Chinese visa and asking officials to notify the US embassy immediately if you are detained or arrested.
 
 
Source: PmNews

China has opened the door to imports of rice from the United States for the first time ever in what analysts took to signal a warming of relations between the world's two biggest economies after a frosty year marked by tensions and tit-for-tat tariffs.

The green light from Chinese customs, indicated in a statement posted on the customs authority's website on Friday, comes in the run-up to talks between the countries in January after U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a moratorium on higher tariffs that would affect trade worth hundred of billions of dollars.

It was not immediately clear how much rice China, which sources rice imports from within Asia, might seek to buy from the United States. But the move, which comes after years of talks on the matter, follows pledges from China's commerce ministry of further U.S. trade openings earlier this week.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see importers trying to move rice into China from California but I don't know if it will be in breathtaking quantities right away," said Stuart Hoetger, an analyst and physical rice trader based in California.

As of Dec. 27, imports of brown rice, polished rice and crushed rice from the United States are now permitted, as long as cargoes meet China's inspection standards and are registered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA on Dec. 11 forecast U.S. rice production at 6.93 million tonnes while Chinese rice imports were estimated at 5 million tonnes. Rice makes up only a small portion of U.S. agricultural exports, which are dominated by shipments of soybeans, grain, tree nuts and meat.

U.S. rice futures had little reaction to the announcement, declining by 7 cents to $10.06 per cwt.

"The permission for U.S. rice suggests an improving U.S. and China relationship," said Cherry Zhang, an agriculture analyst with consultancy JCI. Zhang said she expected any imports would likely be ordered by state-owned companies.

Officials at a government-affiliated think tank in Beijing said the price of U.S. rice was not competitive, compared with imports from South Asia, and said the move to formally permit imports from the United States should be interpreted as a goodwill gesture. China opened its rice market when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, but a lack of phytosanitary protocol between China and the United States effectively banned imports, according to trade group USA Rice.

Nonetheless, in July China formally imposed additional tariffs of 25 percent on U.S. rice, even though imports were not permitted at the time.

 

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have made an unannounced Christmas visit to US troops in Iraq.
 
They travelled there “late on Christmas night” to thank troops for “their service, their success and their sacrifice”, the White House said.
 
Mr Trump said the US had no plans to pull out of Iraq.
 
News reports that the trip came days after Defence Secretary Jim Mattis quit over divisions about strategy in the region.
 
The US still has some 5,000 troops in Iraq to support the government in its fight against what remains of the Islamic State (IS) group.
 
rump and Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi was cancelled. Mr Mahdi’s office said it was because of disagreements on how to conduct the meeting. A phone call between the two leaders was held instead, officials added.
 
Mr Trump, his wife and National Security Adviser John Bolton travelled on Air Force One to al-Asad airbase, west of the capital Baghdad, to meet military personnel in the base’s restaurant.
 
He spent about three hours at the base in what is his first visit to the region.
 
During the visit he got a standing ovation from troops as he entered a dining hall and walked around greeting them, posing for selfies and signing autographs.
 
He said the reason for the visit was to personally thank them for helping to defeat IS, adding: “Two years ago when I became president they were a very dominant group, today they’re not so dominant any more. Great job.”
 
 
Source: The Routers
US President Donald Trump’s troubled charity foundation has agreed to close down amid allegations that he and others illegally misused its funds.
 
According to News reports, the move was announced by the Attorney General of New York State, Barbara Underwood, who will supervise the distribution of its remaining monies.
 
She has accused Mr Trump and his three eldest children of using it for private and political gain.
 
The foundation’s lawyer accused her of attempting to politicise the matter.
 
This is just one of several legal cases currently swirling around Mr Trump and his family. Others include a wide-ranging special counsel investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia headed by former FBI chief Robert Mueller.
 
Ms Underwood said the case against Mr Trump and his children Donald Jr, Ivanka and Eric would continue.
 
In a statement, she said there had been “a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation – including unlawful co-ordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and wilful self-dealing, and much more”.
 
She continued: “This amounted to the Trump Foundation functioning as little more than a chequebook to serve Mr Trump’s business and political interests.”
 
Under the terms of the deal to shut down the foundation, Ms Underwood said, it could only be dissolved under judicial supervision and could only distribute its assets “to reputable organisations approved by my office”.
 
She added: “This is an important victory for the rule of law, making clear that there is one set of rules for everyone.
 
“We’ll continue to move our suit forward to ensure that the Trump Foundation and its directors are held to account for their clear and repeated violations of state and federal law.”
 
 
Source: America NewsExpress
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he would intervene with the U.S. Justice Department in the case against a Chinese telecommunications executive if it would help secure a trade deal with Beijing.
 
"If I think it's good for the country, if I think it's good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made - which is a very important thing - what's good for national security - I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary," Trump said in a wide-ranging interview with Reuters in the Oval Office.
 
At the request of U.S. authorities, Huawei Technologies Co. executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested earlier this month in Vancouver on charges of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. The arrest came the same day Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping declared a 90-day truce in their trade war during summit talks in Buenos Aires.
 
Trump, who wants China to open up its markets to more American-made products and stop what Washington calls the theft of intellectual property, said he had not yet spoken to Xi about the case against Huawei's executive.
 
Meng, 46, faces U.S. accusations she misled multinational banks about Huawei's control of a company operating in Iran, putting the banks at risk of violating U.S. sanctions and incurring severe penalties, court documents said.
 
If extradited to the United States, Meng would face charges of conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions. A Canadian court on Tuesday granted bail Meng while she awaits an extradition hearing.
 
Trump, who has made sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program a signature part of his foreign policy, was asked whether Meng could be released.
 
"Well, it's possible that a lot of different things could happen. It's also possible it will be a part of negotiations. But we'll speak to the Justice Department, we'll speak to them, we'll get a lot of people involved," he said.
 
Asked if he would like to see Meng extradited to the United States, Trump said he wanted to first see what the Chinese request. He added, however, that Huawei's alleged practices are troubling.
 
"This has been a big problem that we've had in so many different ways with so many companies from China and from other places," he said.
 
In the wake of his meeting with Xi in Buenos Aires, Trump said during the interview that trade talks with Beijing were underway by telephone, with more meetings likely among U.S. and Chinese officials.
 
He said the Chinese government was once again buying large quantities of U.S. soybeans, a reversal after China in July imposed tariffs on U.S. supplies of the oilseed in retaliation for U.S. duties on Chinese goods.
 
"I just heard today that they're buying tremendous amounts of soybeans. They are starting, just starting now," Trump said.
 
Commodity traders in Chicago, however, said they have seen no evidence of a resumption of soybean purchases by China, which last year bought about 60 percent of U.S. soybean exports in deals valued at more than $12 billion.
 
 
Source: PmNews

The bitter truth buried in recent headlines about how the political consulting company – Cambridge Analytica – used social media and messaging, primarily Facebook and WhatsApp, to try to sway voters in presidential elections in the US and Kenya is simply this: Facebook is the reason why fake news is here to stay.

Various news outlets, and former Cambridge Analytica executives themselves, confirmed that the company used campaign speeches, surveys, and, of course, social media and social messaging to influence Kenyans in both 2013 and 2017.

The media reports also revealed that, working on behalf of US President Donald Trump’s campaign, Cambridge Analytica had got hold of data from 50 million Facebook users, which they sliced and diced to come up with “psychometric” profiles of American voters.

The political data company’s tactics have drawn scrutiny in the past, so the surprise of these revelations came more from the “how” than the “what.” The real stunner was learning how complicit Facebook and WhatsApp, which is owned by the social media behemoth, had been in aiding Cambridge Analytica in its work.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal appears to be symptomatic of much deeper challenges that Facebook must confront if it’s to become a force for good in the global fight against false narratives.

These hard truths include the fact that Facebook’s business model is built upon an inherent conflict of interest. The others are the company’s refusal to take responsibility for the power it wields and its inability to come up with a coherent strategy to tackle fake news.

Facebook’s biggest challenges

Facebook’s first issue is its business model. It has mushroomed into a multibillion-dollar corporation because its revenue comes from gathering and using the data shared by its audience of 2.2 billion monthly users.

Data shapes the ads that dominate our news feeds. Facebook retrieves information from what we like, comment on and share; the posts we hide and delete; the videos we watch; the ads we click on; the quizzes we take. It was, in fact, data sifted from one of these quizzes that Cambridge Analytica bought in 2014. Facebook executives knew of this massive data breach back then but chose to handle the mess internally. They shared nothing with the public.

This makes sense if the data from that public is what fuels your company’s revenues. It doesn’t make sense, however, if your mission is to make the world a more open and connected place, one built in transparency and trust. A corporation that says it protects privacy while also making billions of dollars from data, sets itself up for scandal.

This brings us to Facebook’s second challenge: its myopic vision of its own power. As repeated scandals and controversies have washed over the social network in the last couple of years, CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s response generally has been one of studied naivete. He seems to be in denial about his corporation’s singular influence and position.

Case in point: When it became clear in 2016 that fake news had affected American elections, Zuckerberg first dismissed that reality as “a pretty crazy idea.” In this latest scandal, he simply said nothing for days.

Throughout the world, news publishers report that 50% to 80% of their digital traffic comes from Facebook. No wonder Google and Facebook control 53% of the world’s digital and mobile advertising revenue. Yet Zuckerberg still struggles to accept that Facebook’s vast audience and its role as a purveyor of news and information combine to give it extraordinary power over what people consume, and by extension, how they behave.

All of this leads us to Facebook’s other challenge: its inability to articulate, and act on, a cogent strategy to attack fake news.

The fake news phenomenon

When Zuckerberg finally surfaced last month, he said out loud what a lot of people were already were thinking: there may be other Cambridge Analyticas out there.

This is very bad news for anyone worried about truth and democracy. For in America, fake news helped to propel into power a man whose presidential campaign may have been a branding exercise gone awry. But in countries like Kenya, fake news can kill.

Zuckerberg and his Facebook colleagues must face this truth. Fake news may not create tribal or regional mistrust, but inflammatory videos and posts shared on social media certainly feed those tensions.

And false narratives spread deep and wide: In 2016, BuzzFeed News found that in some cases, a fake news story was liked, commented and shared almost 500,000 times. A legitimate political news story might attract 75,000 likes, comments and shares.

After Zuckerberg was flogged for his initial statements about fake news, Facebook reached out to the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-checking Network in an effort to attack this scourge. Then in January 2018, the social network said that it was going to be more discriminating about how much news it would allow to find its way into the feeds of its users. In other words, more videos on cats and cooking, less news of any kind.

The policy sowed a lot of confusion and showed that Facebook is still groping for how to respond to fake news. It was also evidence that the social network does not understand that fake news endangers its own existence as well as the safety and security of citizens worldwide –- especially in young democracies such as Kenya.

Angry lawmakers in the US and Europe, along with a burgeoning rebellion among its vast audience, may finally grab Facebook’s attention. But we will only hear platitudes and see superficial change unless Facebook faces hard truths about its reliance on data, accepts its preeminent place in today’s media ecosystem and embraces its role in fighting fake news.

Until then, we should brace ourselves for more Cambridge Analyticas.The Conversation

 

Stephen Buckley, Lecturer, The Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications (GSMC)

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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