Deutsche Bank to Slash Thousands of Jobs to Control Costs 

Germany’s struggling Deutsche Bank is slashing thousands of jobs as it reshapes its stocks trading operation and refocuses its global investment banking business on its European base.

The bank said Thursday it would cut its workforce from 97,000 to “well below” 90,000 and that the reductions were underway.

It said headcount in the stocks trading business, mostly based in New York and London, would be reduced by about 25 percent. Those cuts will cost the bank about 800 million euros ($935 million) this year.

Deutsche Bank has struggled with high costs and troubles with regulators. The bank replaced its CEO in April after three years of annual losses and lagging progress in streamlining its operations.

New CEO Christian Sewing has said the bank would refocus on its European and German customer base and cut back on costlier and riskier operations where it doesn’t hold a leading position. Sewing said the bank was committed to its international investment banking operations but must “concentrate on what we truly do well.” The new strategy means stepping back from several decades of global expansion in which the bank sought to compete with Wall Street rivals such as Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan Chase.

Sewing replaced John Cryan in April with a mandate to accelerate the bank’s wrenching restructuring. It has suffered billions in losses from fines and penalties related to past misconduct. But progress in cutting costs has remained elusive. Sewing on Thursday affirmed the bank’s goal to hold costs to 23 billion euros this year and 22 billion next year.

The announcement came hours before Board Chairman Paul Achleitner had to face disgruntled investors at the bank’s annual shareholder meeting. The bank’s share price has sagged and it paid only a small dividend of 11 euro cents per share last year.

Addressing an audience of several thousands in Frankfurt, Achleitner said Cryan had “set the ball rolling for fundamental change” but later displayed “shortcomings in decision-making and implementation.”

“Dear shareholders, you are right to expect the bank and its management to hit the targets it has set itself,” he said. “If there are signs those targets are in jeopardy… then we on the supervisory board have to act swiftly and decisively.”

The bank’s troubles and the turmoil surrounding Cryan’s departure have put pressure on Achleitner as well. Cryan was forced to publicly push back against a media report that Achleitner was looking for a replacement, then left to twist in the wind for days before being shown the door. Achleitner brought Cryan to the bank in 2015 and thus in principle shares responsibility for the bank’s strategy and performance since then.

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US Lawmakers to Receive Intelligence Briefing on FBI Informant Trump Calls ‘Spy’

Senior U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials are set to give separate briefings to two sets of lawmakers Thursday in connection with the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

In the first session, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and FBI Director Christopher Wray will meet with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes and Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy.

​The White House arranged those talks with the two Republican lawmakers, who want more information about an FBI informant who had contact with Trump campaign officials during the 2016 race.

Democrats complained the meeting was inappropriate and asked for an expanded session that would include the so-called Gang of Eight bipartisan group of senior members of both parties.

That request was granted, but not in place of the Nunes and Gowdy talks, and will take place a few hours after the Republican-only session.

The expanded talks will include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, and the ranking Democrats on the Senate and House intelligence committees, Sen. Mark Warner and Rep. Adam Schiff, according to the Justice Department.

Foreign policy scholar

Trump has seized on the FBI’s use of Stefan Halper to talk to three of his campaign associates as part of the Russia probe, claiming Halper was working to “spy for political reasons” in order to help Democrat Hillary Clinton win the election.

Halper is an American foreign policy scholar at Britain’s University of Cambridge, and worked as a secret informant to report on foreign affairs conversations he had with the three Trump advisers: Carter Page, Sam Clovis and George Papadopoulos. Decades ago, Halper served in three Republican U.S. administrations in various domestic policy roles.

The FBI, at the time it used Halper as an informant, was looking into Trump campaign links to Russian interests during the latter stages of the 2016 campaign, part of what eventually became special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing criminal investigation. Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his contacts with Russians.

Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion between his campaign and Russia.

Russia election meddling

Last year, the U.S. intelligence community assessed that Russia carried out an influence campaign meant to disrupt the election and help Trump’s chances of winning.

After Trump earlier this week demanded the FBI and the Justice Department disclose confidential records about the use of Halper, Rosenstein and Wray agreed to Thursday’s meeting with Nunes and Gowdy to show them the information.

Trump told White House reporters he was not “undercutting” the Justice Department by making his demand for the information about Halper.

“We’re cleaning everything up. This was a terrible situation,” he said. “I want total transparency … because this issue supersedes Republicans and Democrats.”

Defense contracts

It has not been disclosed how much the FBI paid Halper. But U.S. financial records show that since 2012 Halper has had contracts with the Defense Department for more than $1 million for research and development in the social sciences and humanities, although the money did not go solely to him. He hired other academics to help with the research and prepare reports.

Trump said in another tweet, using his  oft-repeated pejorative for his 2016 Democratic challenger, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Rosenstein has also asked the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate the FBI’s use of Halper.

“If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action,” Rosenstein said.

 

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US Lawmakers to Receive Intelligence Briefing on FBI Informant Trump Calls ‘Spy’

Senior U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials are set to give separate briefings to two sets of lawmakers Thursday in connection with the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

In the first session, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and FBI Director Christopher Wray will meet with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes and Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy.

​The White House arranged those talks with the two Republican lawmakers, who want more information about an FBI informant who had contact with Trump campaign officials during the 2016 race.

Democrats complained the meeting was inappropriate and asked for an expanded session that would include the so-called Gang of Eight bipartisan group of senior members of both parties.

That request was granted, but not in place of the Nunes and Gowdy talks, and will take place a few hours after the Republican-only session.

The expanded talks will include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, and the ranking Democrats on the Senate and House intelligence committees, Sen. Mark Warner and Rep. Adam Schiff, according to the Justice Department.

Foreign policy scholar

Trump has seized on the FBI’s use of Stefan Halper to talk to three of his campaign associates as part of the Russia probe, claiming Halper was working to “spy for political reasons” in order to help Democrat Hillary Clinton win the election.

Halper is an American foreign policy scholar at Britain’s University of Cambridge, and worked as a secret informant to report on foreign affairs conversations he had with the three Trump advisers: Carter Page, Sam Clovis and George Papadopoulos. Decades ago, Halper served in three Republican U.S. administrations in various domestic policy roles.

The FBI, at the time it used Halper as an informant, was looking into Trump campaign links to Russian interests during the latter stages of the 2016 campaign, part of what eventually became special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing criminal investigation. Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his contacts with Russians.

Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion between his campaign and Russia.

Russia election meddling

Last year, the U.S. intelligence community assessed that Russia carried out an influence campaign meant to disrupt the election and help Trump’s chances of winning.

After Trump earlier this week demanded the FBI and the Justice Department disclose confidential records about the use of Halper, Rosenstein and Wray agreed to Thursday’s meeting with Nunes and Gowdy to show them the information.

Trump told White House reporters he was not “undercutting” the Justice Department by making his demand for the information about Halper.

“We’re cleaning everything up. This was a terrible situation,” he said. “I want total transparency … because this issue supersedes Republicans and Democrats.”

Defense contracts

It has not been disclosed how much the FBI paid Halper. But U.S. financial records show that since 2012 Halper has had contracts with the Defense Department for more than $1 million for research and development in the social sciences and humanities, although the money did not go solely to him. He hired other academics to help with the research and prepare reports.

Trump said in another tweet, using his  oft-repeated pejorative for his 2016 Democratic challenger, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Rosenstein has also asked the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate the FBI’s use of Halper.

“If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action,” Rosenstein said.

 

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Pompeo: Trump-Kim Summit Still on Schedule

The top U.S. diplomat who held face-to-face talks with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has assured lawmakers the U.S. will negotiate only a strong denuclearization deal with Pyongyang. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testified on Capitol Hill Wednesday ahead of an expected June 12 summit in Singapore between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s reclusive leader, Kim Jong Un. VOA’s Congressional correspondent Katherine Gypson reports.

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Trump Wants Cuts in US Aid, Insists on Calling MS-13 Gang Members ‘Animals’

U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to make “radical” changes to U.S. aid practices by withholding government assistance from countries that allow criminals to sneak into the United States. Trump spoke Wednesday at a forum in New York, a U.S. state that is battling gang activity. New York officials briefed Trump on the progress they have made in dismantling the violent Mara Salvatrucha gang, also known as MS-13. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke reports.

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Amazon, Starbucks Pledge Money to Repeal Seattle Head Tax

Amazon, Starbucks, Vulcan and other companies have pledged a total of more than $350,000 toward an effort to repeal Seattle’s newly passed tax on large employers intended to combat homelessness.

Just days after the Seattle City Council approved the levy, the No Tax On Jobs campaign, a coalition of businesses, announced it would gather signatures to put a referendum on the November ballot to repeal it. 

Amazon, Starbucks, Vulcan, Kroger and Albertsons each promised $25,000 to the effort last week, according to a report filed by the campaign. The Washington Food Industry Association pledged $30,000. 

Referendum backers will have to gather 17,632 signatures of registered Seattle voters by June 14 to get the measure on the ballot.

The so-called head tax will charge businesses making at least $20 million in gross revenues about $275 per full-time worker each year. The tax would begin in 2019 and raise about $48 million a year to build affordable housing and provide emergency homeless services.

Opponents say the Seattle measure is a tax on jobs and questioned whether city officials are spending current resources effectively. 

Worker and church groups and others praised the tax as a step toward building badly needed affordable housing in an affluent city where the income gap continues to widen and lower-income workers are being priced out.

The clash over who should pay to solve the city housing crisis that’s exacerbated by Seattle’s rapid economic growth featured weeks of tense exchanges, raucous meetings and a threat by Amazon, the city’s largest employer, to stop construction planning on a 17-story building near its hometown headquarters.

Amazon has resumed planning the downtown building, but the company remains “apprehensive about the future created by the council’s hostile approach and rhetoric toward larger businesses, which forces us to question our growth here,” said Drew Herdener, Amazon’s vice president for global corporate and operations communications. 

Four council members initially pitched an annual tax of $500 per full-time employee before a compromise proposal lowered the tax rate after they could not muster six votes needed to override a potential veto by Mayor Jenny Durkan. 

The mayor signed the head tax on May 16, saying “we must make urgent progress on our affordability and homelessness crisis.”

Seattle’s action came as cities around San Francisco consider business taxes to help offset issues created by the growth of tech companies. 

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Amazon, Starbucks Pledge Money to Repeal Seattle Head Tax

Amazon, Starbucks, Vulcan and other companies have pledged a total of more than $350,000 toward an effort to repeal Seattle’s newly passed tax on large employers intended to combat homelessness.

Just days after the Seattle City Council approved the levy, the No Tax On Jobs campaign, a coalition of businesses, announced it would gather signatures to put a referendum on the November ballot to repeal it. 

Amazon, Starbucks, Vulcan, Kroger and Albertsons each promised $25,000 to the effort last week, according to a report filed by the campaign. The Washington Food Industry Association pledged $30,000. 

Referendum backers will have to gather 17,632 signatures of registered Seattle voters by June 14 to get the measure on the ballot.

The so-called head tax will charge businesses making at least $20 million in gross revenues about $275 per full-time worker each year. The tax would begin in 2019 and raise about $48 million a year to build affordable housing and provide emergency homeless services.

Opponents say the Seattle measure is a tax on jobs and questioned whether city officials are spending current resources effectively. 

Worker and church groups and others praised the tax as a step toward building badly needed affordable housing in an affluent city where the income gap continues to widen and lower-income workers are being priced out.

The clash over who should pay to solve the city housing crisis that’s exacerbated by Seattle’s rapid economic growth featured weeks of tense exchanges, raucous meetings and a threat by Amazon, the city’s largest employer, to stop construction planning on a 17-story building near its hometown headquarters.

Amazon has resumed planning the downtown building, but the company remains “apprehensive about the future created by the council’s hostile approach and rhetoric toward larger businesses, which forces us to question our growth here,” said Drew Herdener, Amazon’s vice president for global corporate and operations communications. 

Four council members initially pitched an annual tax of $500 per full-time employee before a compromise proposal lowered the tax rate after they could not muster six votes needed to override a potential veto by Mayor Jenny Durkan. 

The mayor signed the head tax on May 16, saying “we must make urgent progress on our affordability and homelessness crisis.”

Seattle’s action came as cities around San Francisco consider business taxes to help offset issues created by the growth of tech companies. 

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Starbucks Calls Anti-Bias Training Part of ‘Long-Term Journey’

Starbucks Corp. on Wednesday revealed details of the employee anti-bias training program that will take place behind closed doors at 8,000 U.S. company-owned cafes on the afternoon of May 29.

Starbucks announced plans to shutter stores and corporate offices to train 175,000 employees after the controversial April 12 arrests of two black men, who were detained for hours after the manager of a Philadelphia Starbucks called police because they had not made purchases and refused to leave.

The arrests of Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, who were waiting to meet a friend, sparked protests and calls for a boycott of the coffee chain known for its diverse workforce and liberal stances on issues such as gay marriage.

Starbucks said the first training on May 29 “will serve as a step in a long-term journey to make Starbucks even more welcoming and safe for all.”

It will include videos featuring Starbucks executives such as Chief Executive Kevin Johnson, Executive Chairman and co-founder Howard Schultz, board member Mellody Hobson, hip hop artist Common, store managers and experts from the Perception Institute. Employees also will view a film called “You’re Welcome” by Stanley Nelson and participate in discussion and problem-solving sessions on identifying and avoiding bias in every day situations.

Starbucks said the long-term program is being designed and developed with input from researchers, social scientists, employees and other advisers.

Those partners include consultancy SY Partners — which worked with Starbucks to reinvent itself after a business crisis spawned by the “Great Recession”; the Perception Institute; Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund; Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; and Heather McGhee, president of public policy group Demos.

Since the Philadelphia incident, Starbucks has said it will allow people to sit in its cafes and use its restrooms without making a purchase. It also said it has outlined procedures for dealing with customers who are disruptive, using tobacco, drugs or alcohol or sleeping in its cafes. 

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