China Warns Trade War Will Set off a ‘Greater Conflict’

A senior Chinese official is warning that a trade war would hurt all sides and set off a “greater conflict.”

“A trade war serves the interests of none. It will only lead to serious consequences and negative impact,” Vice Premier Han Zheng said at a development forum in Beijing Sunday. “We believe trade protectionism, against the trend, will lead to nowhere.”

Han did not mention the United States or President Donald Trump by name, whose announcement of stiff tariffs on imported Chinese steel and aluminum was answered with tariffs and duties on a list of U.S. imports.

Han appealed to all global trading partners to “cooperate with each other like passengers in the same boat … make economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial for all.”

Fears of a trade war between the world’s two largest economies have sent world markets tumbling.

The United States has accused China of unfair trade practices, including intellectual property theft and dumping Chinese goods on the global marketplace to make U.S. goods appear more expensive.

China has denied the U.S. charges, and Vice Premier Liu He told U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a telephone call Saturday that China is ready to defend its interests.

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Trump Is Staffing – or – Casting From Fox

President Donald Trump’s favorite TV network is increasingly serving as a West Wing casting call, as the president reshapes his administration with camera-ready personalities.

Trump’s new national security adviser, John Bolton, is a former U.N. ambassador, a White House veteran – and perhaps most importantly a Fox News channel talking head. Bolton’s appointment, rushed out late Thursday, follows Trump’s recent attempt to recruit Fox guest Joseph diGenova for his legal team.

Bolton went on Fox to discuss his selection and said it had happened so quickly that “I think I’m still a Fox News contributor.”

Another recent TV-land addition to the Trump White House is veteran CNBC contributor Larry Kudlow as top economic adviser. Other Fox faces on Trump’s team: rising State Department star Heather Nauert, a former Fox News anchor; communications adviser Mercedes Schlapp and Treasury Department spokesman Tony Sayegh. The latter two are both former Fox commentators.

“He’s looking for people who are ready to be part of that television White House,” said Kendall Phillips, a communication and rhetorical studies professor at Syracuse University. “This is the Fox television presidency all the way up and down.”

DiGenova, who has accused FBI officials of trying to “frame” Trump for nonexistent crimes, will not be joining the legal team because of “conflicts,” said Trump counsel Jay Sekulow on Sunday. Sekulow, however, said diGenova and his wife, attorney Victoria Toensing, also a frequent commentator on Fox, would not be prevented from helping Trump “in other legal matters.”

Trump’s affinity for Fox News is by now well-documented. He has bestowed more interviews on the network than any other news outlet and is an avid viewer. People close to the president say he thinks Fox provides the best coverage of his untraditional presidency. It also provides him a window into conservative thinking, with commentary from Republican lawmakers and right-wing thinkers – many of who are speaking directly to the audience in the Oval Office.

On-air personalities Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham are favorites of the president, who also speaks to them privately. This past week Trump promoted Hannity on Twitter, saying: “@seanhannity on @foxandfriends now! Great! 8:18 A.M.”

The president’s early-morning tweets often appear to be reaction to Fox programming. On Friday, for example, Trump tweeted he was “considering” a veto of a massive spending bill needed to keep the government open not long after it was assailed on “Fox and Friends” as a “swamp budget.”

The critic in question was contributor Pete Hegseth, a favorite of the president who has been rumored to be a possible replacement for embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin.

Fox News came in for criticism this past week from CNN chief Jeff Zucker, who on Thursday attacked the rival network by saying it has become a propaganda machine that is “doing an incredible disservice to the country.”

Zucker spoke at the Financial Times Future of News conference two days after a former Fox military analyst quit, claiming he was ashamed at the way the network’s opinion hosts were backing Trump. Zucker said that analyst, Ralph Peters, voiced what a lot of people have been thinking about Fox in the post-Roger Ailes era.

Still, in Trump’s Washington, lawmakers and influence-seekers know that the best way to get in Trump’s ear is often to get on Fox. Legislators routinely seek to get airtime when they are trying to push legislation or policy ideas, said congressional aides who sought anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private thinking.

“A year ago, everyone was trying to figure out how to get into the building; now everyone is trying to figure out how to get on TV,” said Republican consultant Alex Conant.

This past week, for example, conservative lawmakers unhappy with the spending bill moving through Congress took to Fox. “This may be the worst bill I have seen in my time in Congress,” said Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, on Wednesday.

And when the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, prompted a national conversation on gun laws, Fox contributor Geraldo Rivera used his platform to urge the president to support raising the age requirement to buy assault-type weapons.

“You’ve gotta let me give my pitch,” he said on “Fox and Friends” several weeks ago, noting that he would see Trump that night. “Here in Florida and most states a kid cannot buy a beer … and yet he could buy an AR-15 legally.”

The hosts quickly pushed back. “Tell him to let the teachers carry concealed,” said one.

While the coverage varies by show, “Fox and Friends” tends to be Trump-friendly, with the chipper morning show spotlighting his achievements and bashing the “mainstream media.” On Friday, they featured a teen from the Florida high school where the shooting occurred who opposes gun control efforts, as well as a young conservative activist who interviewed Trump at a White House event the day before.

Also appearing Friday was White House counselor Kellyanne Conway – herself a constant presence on cable news – who pushed back at the idea Trump was focused on hiring TV personalities.

“The irony is not lost on me that you have a lot of quote ‘TV stars’ calling Larry Kudlow and John Bolton ‘TV stars,'” Conway said.

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Trump Is Staffing – or – Casting From Fox

President Donald Trump’s favorite TV network is increasingly serving as a West Wing casting call, as the president reshapes his administration with camera-ready personalities.

Trump’s new national security adviser, John Bolton, is a former U.N. ambassador, a White House veteran – and perhaps most importantly a Fox News channel talking head. Bolton’s appointment, rushed out late Thursday, follows Trump’s recent attempt to recruit Fox guest Joseph diGenova for his legal team.

Bolton went on Fox to discuss his selection and said it had happened so quickly that “I think I’m still a Fox News contributor.”

Another recent TV-land addition to the Trump White House is veteran CNBC contributor Larry Kudlow as top economic adviser. Other Fox faces on Trump’s team: rising State Department star Heather Nauert, a former Fox News anchor; communications adviser Mercedes Schlapp and Treasury Department spokesman Tony Sayegh. The latter two are both former Fox commentators.

“He’s looking for people who are ready to be part of that television White House,” said Kendall Phillips, a communication and rhetorical studies professor at Syracuse University. “This is the Fox television presidency all the way up and down.”

DiGenova, who has accused FBI officials of trying to “frame” Trump for nonexistent crimes, will not be joining the legal team because of “conflicts,” said Trump counsel Jay Sekulow on Sunday. Sekulow, however, said diGenova and his wife, attorney Victoria Toensing, also a frequent commentator on Fox, would not be prevented from helping Trump “in other legal matters.”

Trump’s affinity for Fox News is by now well-documented. He has bestowed more interviews on the network than any other news outlet and is an avid viewer. People close to the president say he thinks Fox provides the best coverage of his untraditional presidency. It also provides him a window into conservative thinking, with commentary from Republican lawmakers and right-wing thinkers – many of who are speaking directly to the audience in the Oval Office.

On-air personalities Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham are favorites of the president, who also speaks to them privately. This past week Trump promoted Hannity on Twitter, saying: “@seanhannity on @foxandfriends now! Great! 8:18 A.M.”

The president’s early-morning tweets often appear to be reaction to Fox programming. On Friday, for example, Trump tweeted he was “considering” a veto of a massive spending bill needed to keep the government open not long after it was assailed on “Fox and Friends” as a “swamp budget.”

The critic in question was contributor Pete Hegseth, a favorite of the president who has been rumored to be a possible replacement for embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin.

Fox News came in for criticism this past week from CNN chief Jeff Zucker, who on Thursday attacked the rival network by saying it has become a propaganda machine that is “doing an incredible disservice to the country.”

Zucker spoke at the Financial Times Future of News conference two days after a former Fox military analyst quit, claiming he was ashamed at the way the network’s opinion hosts were backing Trump. Zucker said that analyst, Ralph Peters, voiced what a lot of people have been thinking about Fox in the post-Roger Ailes era.

Still, in Trump’s Washington, lawmakers and influence-seekers know that the best way to get in Trump’s ear is often to get on Fox. Legislators routinely seek to get airtime when they are trying to push legislation or policy ideas, said congressional aides who sought anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private thinking.

“A year ago, everyone was trying to figure out how to get into the building; now everyone is trying to figure out how to get on TV,” said Republican consultant Alex Conant.

This past week, for example, conservative lawmakers unhappy with the spending bill moving through Congress took to Fox. “This may be the worst bill I have seen in my time in Congress,” said Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, on Wednesday.

And when the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, prompted a national conversation on gun laws, Fox contributor Geraldo Rivera used his platform to urge the president to support raising the age requirement to buy assault-type weapons.

“You’ve gotta let me give my pitch,” he said on “Fox and Friends” several weeks ago, noting that he would see Trump that night. “Here in Florida and most states a kid cannot buy a beer … and yet he could buy an AR-15 legally.”

The hosts quickly pushed back. “Tell him to let the teachers carry concealed,” said one.

While the coverage varies by show, “Fox and Friends” tends to be Trump-friendly, with the chipper morning show spotlighting his achievements and bashing the “mainstream media.” On Friday, they featured a teen from the Florida high school where the shooting occurred who opposes gun control efforts, as well as a young conservative activist who interviewed Trump at a White House event the day before.

Also appearing Friday was White House counselor Kellyanne Conway – herself a constant presence on cable news – who pushed back at the idea Trump was focused on hiring TV personalities.

“The irony is not lost on me that you have a lot of quote ‘TV stars’ calling Larry Kudlow and John Bolton ‘TV stars,'” Conway said.

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Facebook’s Zuckerberg Apologizes for ‘Breach of Trust’ in Disclosure of Users’ Data

Facebook co-founder and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg apologized Sunday in full-page ads in nine major British and U.S. newspapers for the massive “breach of trust” at the social media giant that revealed personal information of millions of Facebook users.

Zuckerberg did not mention the British firm accused of using the data, the voter profiling company Cambridge Analytica that obtained the cache of information from British researcher Alexsandr Kogan, who had been authorized by Facebook to collect the data as part of an academic study.

Cambridge Analytica was paid $6 million by President Donald Trump’s successful 2016 presidential campaign for the White House to develop voter profiles.

Zuckerberg said in the ads, “This was a breach of trust, and I’m sorry we didn’t do more at the time” when Kogan developed an app on which 270,000 Facebook users supplied information about themselves. “We’re now taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

In all, because of extensive links of friends and associates to the 270,000 Facebook users, 50 million Facebook users may have had their personal data compromised.

“We have a responsibility to protect your information,” Zuckerberg said. “If we can’t, we don’t deserve it.”

The ads ran in six British national newspapers, including the best-selling Mail, The Sunday Times and The Observer, along with The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal in the U.S.

Zuckerberg said Facebook, with 2.2 billion users worldwide, is also investigating “every single app that had access to large amounts of data before we fixed this. We expect there are others. And when we find them, we will ban them and tell everyone affected.”

A new Reuters-Ipsos poll in the U.S. released Sunday showed that 41 percent of Americans trust Facebook to obey laws that protect their personal information, compared to 66 percent of trust in Amazon; 62 percent in Google; 60 percent in Microsoft and 47 percent in Yahoo.

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Facebook’s Zuckerberg Apologizes for ‘Breach of Trust’ in Disclosure of Users’ Data

Facebook co-founder and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg apologized Sunday in full-page ads in nine major British and U.S. newspapers for the massive “breach of trust” at the social media giant that revealed personal information of millions of Facebook users.

Zuckerberg did not mention the British firm accused of using the data, the voter profiling company Cambridge Analytica that obtained the cache of information from British researcher Alexsandr Kogan, who had been authorized by Facebook to collect the data as part of an academic study.

Cambridge Analytica was paid $6 million by President Donald Trump’s successful 2016 presidential campaign for the White House to develop voter profiles.

Zuckerberg said in the ads, “This was a breach of trust, and I’m sorry we didn’t do more at the time” when Kogan developed an app on which 270,000 Facebook users supplied information about themselves. “We’re now taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

In all, because of extensive links of friends and associates to the 270,000 Facebook users, 50 million Facebook users may have had their personal data compromised.

“We have a responsibility to protect your information,” Zuckerberg said. “If we can’t, we don’t deserve it.”

The ads ran in six British national newspapers, including the best-selling Mail, The Sunday Times and The Observer, along with The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal in the U.S.

Zuckerberg said Facebook, with 2.2 billion users worldwide, is also investigating “every single app that had access to large amounts of data before we fixed this. We expect there are others. And when we find them, we will ban them and tell everyone affected.”

A new Reuters-Ipsos poll in the U.S. released Sunday showed that 41 percent of Americans trust Facebook to obey laws that protect their personal information, compared to 66 percent of trust in Amazon; 62 percent in Google; 60 percent in Microsoft and 47 percent in Yahoo.

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Trump Denies He Can’t Get Top Legal Team, Even as 2 More Lawyers Quit

U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday rebuffed the notion he is having trouble assembling a top legal team to defend him in the Russia probe, even as two lawyers announced as joining Trump’s defense won’t be after all.

A former federal prosecutor, Joseph DiGenova, and his wife, Victoria Toensing, agreed last week to help represent the U.S. leader. But within hours of Trump saying in a Twitter remark that he is “very happy” with his legal team, his personal attorney, Jay Sekulow, said that DiGenova and Toensing would not be among the lawyers defending Trump against allegations that his 2016 campaign colluded with Russia to help him win and then obstructed justice to thwart the investigation.

“The president is disappointed that conflicts prevent Joe DiGenova and Victoria Toensing from joining the president’s special counsel team,” Sekulow said in a statement. “However, those conflicts do not prevent them from assisting the president in other legal matters. The president looks forward to working with them.”

The latest shuffling of Trump’s legal team came days after his lead lawyer, John Dowd, quit, while another top Washington lawyer, Theodore Olson, declined to join Trump’s defense.

On Twitter, Trump said, “Many lawyers and top law firms want to represent me in the Russia case. Don’t believe the Fake News narrative that it is hard to find a lawyer who wants to take this on. Fame & fortune will NEVER be turned down by a lawyer, though some are conflicted. Problem is that a new lawyer or law firm will take months to get up to speed (if for no other reason than they can bill more), which is unfair to our great country — and I am very happy with my existing team.

“Besides, there was NO COLLUSION with Russia, except by Crooked Hillary and the Dems!” Trump added, employing his favorite epithet for the Democratic challenger he defeated, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

 

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating the Trump campaign for months. He indicted 13 Russians on charges of carrying out an online campaign to sow discord in American democracy, while securing guilty pleas from two Trump aides, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and foreign affairs adviser George Papadopoulos, for lying to federal investigators about their contacts with Russian officials.

Mueller’s office and Trump’s defense attorneys have been negotiating over terms of possible testimony by Trump about his actions linked to Russia and the ensuing investigation. Trump says he wants to do the interview, but no agreement on his questioning has been reached.

Mueller is believed to particularly want to question Trump about his knowledge of a mid-2016 meeting his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., set up at Trump Tower in New York, with a Russian attorney on the premise that she was going to hand the Trump campaign incriminating information about Clinton, as well as Trump’s role while president in helping draft a misleading statement about the meeting.

In addition, Mueller’s lawyers want to question Trump about his firing of Flynn in the first month of his presidency and later his ouster of FBI chief James Comey, whom Trump fired while Comey was leading the Russia probe. Mueller, another former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was named shortly thereafter, over Trump’s objections, to take over the Russia investigation.

In other Twitter remarks, Trump defended his reluctant approval Friday of $1.3 trillion in funding for government operations through the end of September.

Trump had sought $20 billion or more to pay for construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to thwart illegal immigration, but had to settle for $1.6 billion.

“Much can be done with the $1.6 Billion given to building and fixing the border wall,” Trump said. “It is just a down payment. Work will start immediately. The rest of the money will come.” He blamed Democrats for not agreeing to a bigger wall deal with a companion agreement to block the deportation of 1.8 million young people who years ago were brought illegally into the country by their parents.

Trump said with $700 billion in funding for defense, “many jobs are created and our Military is again rich. Building a great Border Wall, with drugs (poison) and enemy combatants pouring into our Country, is all about National Defense.

“Build WALL through M!,” with Mexico paying for it, Trump implored, revisiting one of his favorite pledges from the 2016 campaign.

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Trump Denies He Can’t Get Top Legal Team, Even as 2 More Lawyers Quit

U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday rebuffed the notion he is having trouble assembling a top legal team to defend him in the Russia probe, even as two lawyers announced as joining Trump’s defense won’t be after all.

A former federal prosecutor, Joseph DiGenova, and his wife, Victoria Toensing, agreed last week to help represent the U.S. leader. But within hours of Trump saying in a Twitter remark that he is “very happy” with his legal team, his personal attorney, Jay Sekulow, said that DiGenova and Toensing would not be among the lawyers defending Trump against allegations that his 2016 campaign colluded with Russia to help him win and then obstructed justice to thwart the investigation.

“The president is disappointed that conflicts prevent Joe DiGenova and Victoria Toensing from joining the president’s special counsel team,” Sekulow said in a statement. “However, those conflicts do not prevent them from assisting the president in other legal matters. The president looks forward to working with them.”

The latest shuffling of Trump’s legal team came days after his lead lawyer, John Dowd, quit, while another top Washington lawyer, Theodore Olson, declined to join Trump’s defense.

On Twitter, Trump said, “Many lawyers and top law firms want to represent me in the Russia case. Don’t believe the Fake News narrative that it is hard to find a lawyer who wants to take this on. Fame & fortune will NEVER be turned down by a lawyer, though some are conflicted. Problem is that a new lawyer or law firm will take months to get up to speed (if for no other reason than they can bill more), which is unfair to our great country — and I am very happy with my existing team.

“Besides, there was NO COLLUSION with Russia, except by Crooked Hillary and the Dems!” Trump added, employing his favorite epithet for the Democratic challenger he defeated, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

 

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating the Trump campaign for months. He indicted 13 Russians on charges of carrying out an online campaign to sow discord in American democracy, while securing guilty pleas from two Trump aides, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and foreign affairs adviser George Papadopoulos, for lying to federal investigators about their contacts with Russian officials.

Mueller’s office and Trump’s defense attorneys have been negotiating over terms of possible testimony by Trump about his actions linked to Russia and the ensuing investigation. Trump says he wants to do the interview, but no agreement on his questioning has been reached.

Mueller is believed to particularly want to question Trump about his knowledge of a mid-2016 meeting his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., set up at Trump Tower in New York, with a Russian attorney on the premise that she was going to hand the Trump campaign incriminating information about Clinton, as well as Trump’s role while president in helping draft a misleading statement about the meeting.

In addition, Mueller’s lawyers want to question Trump about his firing of Flynn in the first month of his presidency and later his ouster of FBI chief James Comey, whom Trump fired while Comey was leading the Russia probe. Mueller, another former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was named shortly thereafter, over Trump’s objections, to take over the Russia investigation.

In other Twitter remarks, Trump defended his reluctant approval Friday of $1.3 trillion in funding for government operations through the end of September.

Trump had sought $20 billion or more to pay for construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to thwart illegal immigration, but had to settle for $1.6 billion.

“Much can be done with the $1.6 Billion given to building and fixing the border wall,” Trump said. “It is just a down payment. Work will start immediately. The rest of the money will come.” He blamed Democrats for not agreeing to a bigger wall deal with a companion agreement to block the deportation of 1.8 million young people who years ago were brought illegally into the country by their parents.

Trump said with $700 billion in funding for defense, “many jobs are created and our Military is again rich. Building a great Border Wall, with drugs (poison) and enemy combatants pouring into our Country, is all about National Defense.

“Build WALL through M!,” with Mexico paying for it, Trump implored, revisiting one of his favorite pledges from the 2016 campaign.

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Scientists Track Chinese Space Station as It Falls to Earth

Scientists are monitoring a defunct Chinese space station that is expected to fall to Earth around the end of the month, the largest manmade object to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere in a decade.

The head of the European Space Agency’s debris office, Holger Krag, says China’s Tiangong-1 space station will likely fall to Earth between March 30 and April 3.

Krag said it still not yet known where the space station will hit Earth, but said it would be extremely unlikely for anyone to be injured when it does.

Injury unlikely

“Our experience is that for such large objects typically between 20 and 40 percent of the original mass, of 8.5 tons, will survive re-entry and then could be found on the ground, theoretically,” he said.

“However, to be injured by one of these fragments is extremely unlikely. My estimate is that the probability to be injured by one of these fragments is similar to the probability of being hit by lightning twice in the same year,” Krag added.

He said the space station is expected to fall between the areas of 43 degrees south and 43 degrees north, and everything outside that zone is considered safe.

“Northern Europe including France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland are definitely on the safe side. Southern Europe, the southern part of North America, South Asia, Africa, Australia and also South America are still within the zone today,” he said.

Where will it hit?

Scientists say it is hard to predict where Tiangong-1 will hit Earth in part because of its low orbit and high velocity. They say the space station is traveling 17,400 mph and orbits Earth about every 90 minutes.

Tiangong-1 was launched into orbit in 2011 as China’s first space lab. It carried out orbit experiments in preparation for China’s plan to put a permanent space station into orbit by 2023.

 

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Pride, Loneliness in the Deep North: Russians Who Refuse to Abandon Arctic City

In Russia’s far north, the city of Vorkuta is slowly being reclaimed by the Arctic tundra. Its population has plummeted as the local coal mines have closed, and the very future of the city is in doubt. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, Vorkuta’s fate reflects a wider population crisis across Russia’s far north as old Soviet industries have crumbled.

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Swelling Tourism Numbers Come at a Cost in Indonesia

Tourist numbers in Indonesia swelled last year on the back of overseas advertising and infrastructure development. President Joko Widodo has said he wants to “create 10 tourist destinations like the island of Bali.” But the pleasing economic numbers also come with a social and environmental cost as rampant development threatens ecosystems and traditional livelihoods. Jack Hewson has this report.

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