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US Workforce to Add 11.5 Million Jobs by 2026

The U.S. economy is expected add another 11.5 million jobs by 2026, as an aging population and longer life spans raise the need for health care providers. The total U.S. workforce is expected to grow to 167.6 million people.

Tuesday’s projections come from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which says job growth will accelerate slightly from its current pace, but it will not return to the brisk gains seen the over previous decades. The BLS updates its job outlook every two years as new information becomes available.

The percentage of the workforce over age 55 will rise to nearly one-quarter in 2026, a sharp increase from the less than 17 percent back in 2006. People in their 50s and 60s may retire, which is one reason experts expect workforce participation rates (the percentage of working age people who have jobs or are seeking work) to decline.

Over the decade, nine out of 10 new jobs will be in the services sector, particularly health care. Employment by companies that produce goods is expected to grow at a meager one-tenth of one percent a year, with a gain of just 219,000 jobs by 2026.

The workforce is expected to become more diverse as Asian and Hispanic parts of the U.S. population grow more quickly than average. Whoever is in the workforce will find additional education important, as two out of three jobs in the fastest-growing areas require at least some post-secondary education and training.

And the whole economy is predicted to expand at a two percent annual rate. That is faster than the current growth rate, but below the gains seen in previous decades.

 

High Rise Buildings Can Be Earthquake-Proof

After a deadly earthquake in 1985, authorities in Mexico City decided they must start constructing houses that can withstand strong shakes. Government buildings, hospitals and schools are now built according to stricter rules, while architects are pushing for their application to other structures too, especially high rise apartment buildings. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Facebook Tests Splitting Its News Feed Into Two

Facebook Inc said on Monday it was testing the idea of dividing its News F eed in two, separating commercial posts from personal news in a move that could lead some businesses to increase advertising.

The Facebook News Feed, the centerpiece of the world’s largest social network service, is a streaming series of posts such as photos from friends, updates from family members, advertisements and material from celebrities or other pages that a user has liked.

 

The test, which is occurring in six smaller countries, now  offers two user feeds, according to a statement from the company: one feed focused on friends and family and a second dedicated to the pages that the customer has liked.

The change could force those who run pages, everyone from news outlets to musicians to sports teams, to pay to run advertisements if they want to be seen in the feed that is for friends and family.

The test is taking place in Bolivia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Serbia, Slovakia and Sri Lanka, and it will likely go on for months, Adam Mosseri, the Facebook executive in charge of the News Feed, said in a blog post.

Mosseri said the company has no plans for a global test of the two separate feeds for its 2 billion users.

Facebook also does not currently plan to force commercial pages “to pay for all their distribution,” he said.

Facebook, based in Menlo Park, California, frequently tests changes big and small as it tries to maximize the time people spend scrolling and browsing the network. Sometimes it makes changes permanent, and other times not.

Depending on how people respond, two news feeds could mean that they see fewer links to news stories. News has proved to be a tricky area for Facebook, as hoaxes and false news stories have sometimes spread easily on the network.

The test has already affected website traffic for smaller media outlets in recent days, Slovakian journalist Filip Struharik wrote over the weekend in a post on Medium.

Publishers might need to buy more Facebook ads to be seen, he wrote: “If you want your Facebook page posts to be seen in old newsfeed, you have to pay.”

 

Ivanka Trump: Tax Plan Addresses Needs of US Families

President Donald Trump’s eldest daughter on Monday channeled her roles as a working mother, entrepreneur and senior adviser to the president to help him sell his administration’s tax plan for reform, which she said is overdue to address the needs of the modern American family in an increasingly competitive global market.

Ivanka Trump joined U.S. Treasurer Jovita Carranza and former U.S. Rep. Nan Hayworth of New York for an hour-long town hall-style meeting at a senior center outside Philadelphia. During the discussion, she called tax reform “critical” legislation and touted the proposed changes to the tax code as changes that will help everyday Americans.

“There are many elements of this tax plan that I think are squarely targeted at creating jobs and growth in this country and offering relief to our middle-income families,” she told the audience. “This is about the recognition that, as a country, we have to have policies that mirror our values. We have to encourage the next generation to be competitive and compassionate. For me, I think this couples together our core values as a country.”

The president has prioritized tax reform as his top agenda item and is urging Congress to pass legislation. He and other Republican leaders have crafted a proposal calling for steep tax cuts for corporations and potentially individuals, a doubling of the standard deduction used by most Americans, a reduction in the number of tax brackets from seven to three or four, and a repeal of the inheritance taxes on multimillion-dollar estates. The tax system would be simplified, and most Americans would be able to file their income taxes on a postcard, according to the plan.

Ivanka Trump has been focused on promoting a plan to expand the child tax credit, which she highlighted Monday as “well-designed.” She drew on her life experience to connect with the audience as a mom who has an understanding of the challenges parents face with the rising cost of child care.

“Every parent has to manage the competing demands of raising a family and their passions,” she told the crowd. “I, too, had to manage that, but I am far more fortunate than most. I had help, and I recognized that I wouldn’t be able to do even a small fraction of what I was able to do professionally or as a parent … if I didn’t have access to the means to be able to put my children in a secure and safe and protected and nurturing environment.”

Increasing the child tax credit, she said, could mean the difference between sending a child to an after-school program or paying for quality day care — and could even aid some young couples wrestling with whether they can afford to start a family.

Trump received a hearty reception from the audience when she talked about how tax reform will benefit small businesses. While she said the need for some regulation is necessary, she argued that America’s tax system is too burdensome and expensive and is affecting the country’s ability to compete.

“If you level the playing field, nobody’s going to beat the spirit of the American worker,” she said. “No country is more innovative. But our corporate rates are dramatically higher than our prime competitors in the developing world. We want people to be choosing America not just because it’s their preferred place to locate but because it makes sense. I do think it can’t just be about cutting taxes. You want to fuel an incentivized growth that will lead to the long-term benefit of both.”

Details on how much the $1,000 child tax credit should increase have not been settled, and the president’s daughter has not publicly offered a number.

Later in the day, Fox News Channel planned to air an interview with her. She was expected to continue discussing taxes.

Amazon Says It Received 238 Proposals for 2nd Headquarters

Amazon said Monday that it received 238 proposals from cities and regions in the United States, Canada and Mexico hoping to be the home of the company’s second headquarters.

The online retailer kicked off its hunt for a second home base in September, promising to bring 50,000 new jobs and spend more than $5 billion on construction. Proposals were due last week, and Amazon made clear that tax breaks and grants would be a big deciding factor on where it chooses to land.

Amazon.com Inc. said the proposals came from 43 U.S. states as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, three Mexican states and six Canadian provinces. In a tweet, the company said it was “excited to review each of them.”

Besides looking for financial incentives, Amazon had stipulated that it was seeking to be near a metropolitan area with more than a million people; be able to attract top technical talent; be within 45 minutes of an international airport; have direct access to mass transit; and be able to expand that headquarters to as much as 8 million square feet in the next decade.

Generous tax breaks and other incentives can erode a city’s tax base. For the winner, it could be worth it, since an Amazon headquarters could draw other tech businesses and their well-educated, highly paid employees.

The seven U.S. states that Amazon said did not apply were: Arkansas, Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming.

Ahead of the deadline, some cities turned to stunts to try and stand out: Representatives from Tucson, Arizona, sent a 21-foot tall cactus to Amazon’s Seattle headquarters; New York lit the Empire State Building orange to match Amazon’s smile logo.

The company plans to remain in its sprawling Seattle headquarters, and the second one will be “a full equal” to it, founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in September. Amazon has said that it will announce a decision sometime next year.

Putin Critic Bill Browder Cleared for Travel to US, Customs Agency Says

A prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin says the United States revoked his authorization to travel to the U.S. after Moscow succeeded in getting him added to Interpol’s wanted list.

Bill Browder, who became a British citizen after giving up his U.S. citizenship in 1998 for tax reasons, tells VOA he hopes the action will soon be overturned, but that he cannot leave Britain until the issue is resolved. In a phone interview from London with VOA, the former banker who became a human rights activist, said he is not just barred from traveling to the U.S.

“In fact, it is worse than that. I am banned from traveling anywhere,” Browder said. “Any national border that I cross, I will be arrested based on the Russian’s illegitimate Interpol notice.”

However, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency spokesperson told VOA late Monday that Browder has been cleared for travel to the U.S. again.

“As the agency charged with preventing the entry of terrorists and other criminal actors from entering the United States, U.S. Customs and Border Protection regularly screens law enforcement systems in order to determine if any travelers present a security or law enforcement risk. This vetting is done on a recurrent basis and decisions on travel are made on the latest information available,” according to the CPB statement. “William Browder’s ESTA [visa waiver travel authorization] remains valid for travel to the United States. His ESTA was manually approved by CBP on Oct. 18 — clearing him for travel to the United States.”

Asked for comment, Browder said the timeline CBP is providing is not accurate, but he hopes that the issue has been resolved.

Earlier in the day, Browder had told VOA he reached out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for clarity on the issue.

“I spoke to somebody there who refused to give me any information on why this happened and encouraged me to write a Freedom of Information Act request if I really wanted to find out.”

Fifth time, says Browder

Browder said this is the fifth time Russia has had him added to Interpol’s list. Each time, he says Interpol has looked at the circumstances, determined they were illegitimate and lifted the notices.

The British activist said he had planned on coming to the U.S. for important meetings related to his ongoing work on Russian human rights violations. Browder would not say if he had planned to meet with prosecutors or lawmakers to discuss Russia’s interference in the 2016 American presidential elections, but he did say Moscow probably considered his planned meetings in the U.S.

“It is a beautiful way of grounding me and making me ineffective and I’m sure they thought that through when they did this,” he told VOA.

Browder is the founder of Hermitage Capital Management Foundation and was once the largest foreign portfolio investor in Russia. His tax lawyer in Russia, Sergei Magnitsky, was jailed in Russia in 2008 under false charges of tax evasion after working to expose a purported tax fraud scheme by Russian officials.

Magnitsky died in a Russian prison in 2009 after being beaten and denied medical care, earning Moscow widespread condemnation from international human rights organizations. Browder, who was living in London at the time, spearheaded a campaign to get Western governments to punish those high-ranking Russians responsible for Magnitsky’s death.  

Sanctions on Russians

The United States, Estonia and Canada have imposed sanctions on Russians involved in Magnitsky’s death, infuriating Putin and the Kremlin. For years, the Kremlin denied beating and mishandling Magnitsky, saying he died of natural causes.

The Kremlin now claims Browder is responsible for Magnitsky’s death, saying he colluded with a British security service to talk Russian prison personnel into not helping Magnitsky. Browder rejects these new murder allegations as “absurd” and “farcical.”

Putin campaigned hard against the measure Browder pushed, known in the U.S. as the “Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law and Accountability Act.” It denies visas and blocks access to American banks for Russians accused of having committed human rights abuses at home. After the resolution passed in the U.S. in 2012, Putin retaliated by ending American adoptions of Russian children.

‘Richest man in the world?’

On July 27, Browder testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that Putin was the “richest man in the world,” a result of “terrible crimes” Putin’s government committed without the threat of retribution.

“I believe he is worth $200 billion,” Browder said, testifying in the Senate panel’s probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. “The purpose of the Putin regime has been to commit terrible crimes in order to get that money, and he doesn’t want to lose that money by having it frozen. So he is personally at risk of the Magnitsky Act.”

‘Remedy this error’

Browder’s visa being revoked had triggered criticism from some former diplomats and lawmakers. The ranking Democratic member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel, called on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to rectify the situation.

“I urge you to immediately reverse the Department of State’s baffling decision to revoke Bill Browder’s visa and explain why the department took this misguided action,” Engel said. “This decision harms American credibility on the world stage, and it is unacceptable. I expect that you will remedy this error at once and explain to me and other lawmakers why this happened in the first place.”

Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Ben Cardin also called on U.S. officials to review the decision on Browser’s travel authorization.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul also weighed in Monday, tweeting:

Bergdahl Defense Calls for Dismissal

The defense for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who could face life in prison after pleading guilty to charges that he endangered comrades by walking off his post in Afghanistan in 2009, has asked the judge to renew a motion to dismiss charges based on new comments made by President Donald Trump.

Trump, whose role as president includes the job of commander in chief, responded to a reporter’s question on Bergdahl last week by stating that he couldn’t say more on the case, “but I think people have heard my comments in the past.”

As a candidate for president, Trump called Bergdahl a “traitor” who deserved to be executed. He also promised that, as president, he would “review his case” if the soldier did not receive further punishment from the court.

The judge, Army Col. Jeffrey Nance, heard arguments Monday in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on the last-minute motion, which said Trump’s comments were “unlawful command influence” that prevent Bergdahl from getting a fair sentence.

Last week, Bergdahl pleaded guilty at a court martial hearing to charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. The latter carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Nance is expected to rule of the motion when the court martial comes out of recess Wednesday morning. He said he “did not have any doubt whatsoever” that he could be fair and impartial.

However, Nance pointed out that “in spite of” Trump’s initial acknowledgement that he shouldn’t comment on the hearing, the president “goes on to say something” knowing that the sentencing for Bergdahl was still pending.

Trump’s comments on the campaign trail had previously been deemed by the judge as “disturbing” but not unlawful command influence because they were considered “political rhetoric” meant to embarrass his opponent.

However, Nance told the prosecution Monday that this reasoning “tend(s) to be eroded when the now president of the United States arguably adopts those statements.”

“What political opponent is he trying to embarrass when making statements in the (White House) Rose Garden?” the judge said.

Starting Wednesday, the hearing is expected to include testimony from soldiers injured in the dangerous search for Bergdahl after he left his post and was captured by the Taliban.  The judge is expected to weigh their testimonies along with factors such as Bergdahl’s willingness to admit guilt and his five years in Taliban captivity.

Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban shortly after he left his remote post in 2009, prompting an extensive manhunt. The soldier from Idaho previously explained his actions saying he merely intended to cause alarm and draw attention to what he saw as problems with his unit.

Bergdahl was freed from captivity in 2014 in exchange for five Taliban detainees held at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  His high-profile case drew national political attention.  President Barack Obama was criticized by Republicans who claimed the prisoner trade jeopardized the nation’s security.  

Speaking last year in an on-camera interview by a British filmmaker, which aired Monday on ABC News, Bergdahl said Trump’s comments would make his chance for a fair trial impossible.

“We may as well go back to kangaroo courts and lynch mobs that got what they wanted,” Bergdahl said.  “The people who want to hang me, you’re never going to convince those people.”

McCain issues veiled criticism of Trump’s Vietnam deferment

U.S. Sen. John McCain has issued a veiled criticism of President Donald Trump’s medical deferments that kept him from serving in the Vietnam War.

 

In an interview with C-SPAN last week, McCain lamented that the military “drafted the lowest income level of America and the highest income level found a doctor that would say they had a bone spur.”

 

One of Trump’s five draft deferments came as a result of a physician’s letter stating he suffered from bone spurs in his feet. Trump’s presidential campaign described the issue as a temporary problem.

 

McCain spent six years as a prisoner of war after his plane was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967.

 

Trump derided McCain’s service in 2015, stating his fellow Republican wasn’t a “war hero” and adding “I like people who weren’t captured.”

 

McCain’s spokeswoman didn’t immediately return a request for comment Monday.

Ivanka Trump to Talk Taxes in Pennsylvania

Ivanka Trump is heading to Pennsylvania to promote the Republican tax overhaul plan.

The White House says Trump will appear at a town hall in Richboro Monday, with U.S. Treasurer Jovita Carranza. The event will be moderated by former Rep. Nan Hayworth.

 

A key part of the conversation will be the proposal to expand the child tax credit, which the first daughter is backing. Ivanka Trump has been working on the plan to expand the $1,000 credit with the administration and lawmakers. Details on how much the credit should increase to have not been settled, and the president’s daughter has not publicly offered a number.

 

Later in the day, Fox News Channel will air an interview with Ivanka Trump by host Sean Hannity. She is expected to continue discussing taxes.

 

 

Taiwan Steps up Asia Business to Reduce Dependence on China

Taiwan is offering visa waivers and setting up overseas investment offices across a swathe of countries to its south, the latest moves to deepen a rebalancing of economic relations away from political foe China.

Officials in Taipei hope to foster more tourism, trade and higher education links with 18 countries covering most of South and Southeast Asia plus Australia and New Zealand. Stronger ties in theory would reduce the role of China, which is Taiwan’s top trading partner now, as the two sides struggle over political differences.

In the latest phase of Taiwan’s effort, called the New Southbound Policy, Philippine citizens may visit Taiwan visa-free for 14 days during a trial period that starts next month and ends in July. Taiwan offered waivers to citizens of Brunei and Thailand in August 2016. Those efforts complement new investment offices, growth in the number of university students in Taiwan and more Taiwanese development aid.

“The purpose of the New Southbound Policy is for us to hold a more advantageous position in international society,” Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said in a National Day speech earlier this month. “I also want to use this opportunity to tell our friends from around the world that faced with a rapidly changing Asia-Pacific region. Taiwan is ready to play a more important role in shaping regional prosperity and stability.”

Shaky relations with China

Tsai announced the New Southbound Policy after taking office in May 2016 to rebalance relations for Taiwan’s $529 billion economy.

Taiwanese business people traditionally choose China for investment because of its relatively low costs, skilled workforce and cultural links. More than 93,000 Taiwanese businesses invested in China between 1988 and 2016, according to the American think tank Council on Foreign Relations.

But China claims sovereignty over Taiwan despite the island’s democratic self-rule, causing enough friction to stop dialogue under Tsai’s presidency.

How the New Southbound Policy works

Taiwan’s economic affairs ministry has established investment offices in Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines to help investors find projects in those countries based on local needs.

The Taiwan government is offering as well credit guarantees for smaller businesses headed to Southeast Asia, where aid from Taipei will help pay for infrastructure and other major projects in those countries. The visa waivers facilitate travel to Taiwan, another boon to the economy.

Taiwan’s trade with the 18 countries covered by the policy had risen 20 percent this year compared to last, Tsai said in her speech without giving an exact time frame.

Tourist arrivals from New Southbound countries are rising as the headcount from China decreases, official data show. The number of postsecondary students in Taiwan from New Southbound Policy countries went up 10 percent over the six months to March from a year earlier, while the number of non-degree university students from China has eased since mid-2016.

Taiwan’s Investment Commission last year approved 252 applications for projects intended for China last year, down 21.5 percent from 2015.

But China remains Taiwan’s top trading partner thanks to a thriving consumer market and the maturity of its supply chain for the likes of tech and machinery. Imports and exports totaled $117.9 billion in 2016.

Feedback from South and Southeast Asia

Indonesia has been a bright spot for finding new investment projects, especially in agriculture, an economic affairs official in Taipei said earlier in the year. Thailand had already approved 274 Taiwanese investment applications, worth $1.39 billion, from 2010 to 2015.

About 3,500 Taiwanese investors had invested in Vietnam as early as 2011 because costs were rising in China while Vietnam was offering incentives to lure foreign capital.

The restart in May of Taiwanese-owned Formosa Plastics Group’s Vietnam steel plant could draw a “cluster” of related Taiwanese firms, said Liang Kuo-yuan, president of Taipei-based think tank Polaris Research Institute in Taipei. Factory work had stopped over a suspected toxic leak that killed fish.

The Philippines, an investment-thirsty Southeast Asian archipelago, is actively looking for Taiwanese companies, said Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist with Banco de Oro UniBank in Metro Manila. Taiwanese electronics firms consider the country an export manufacturing base, he said, while healthcare firms may find partners such as hospitals. The growing consumer base lures others.

“We’re seeing entrepreneurs from Taiwan looking into the Philippines, given that it’s a very big retail market,” Ravelas said.

But one Southeast Asian country, Cambodia, may fear angering China by veering too close to Taiwan. Beijing forbids its allies from establishing formal ties with Taipei. In February Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen declared a ban on raising the Taiwan flag. Two years earlier the government forbid Taiwan from establishing an informal trade office.

Still early days

Similar go-south policies fell flat under former Taiwan president Lee Teng-hui in 1993 and his successor, Chen Shui-bian, after 2000. China in those years was cheaper, with less competition from local companies, in turn drawing Taiwanese investors.

Today’s policy will struggle as Taiwan faces competition in the 18 target counties from other foreign investment sources, Liang said. Competitors include China, India, Japan and South Korea. China and India were less competitive before 2000. Taiwan lacks a material advantage, he said.

“The biggest problem is that Southeast Asia is not a blue ocean market,” Liang said. “There are too many competitors, so Taiwan can’t just use its point of view to go compete in that market. Taiwan after all has what strength?”

Pay-by-Minute Electric Cars

Electric cars are steadily gaining ground in the global auto market, but it’s a slow process. Along with their high price, one of the main reasons for the consumers’ reluctance is the scarcity of infrastructure needed for charging the cars’ batteries. VOA’s George Putic looks at efforts to remove one of the obstacles on the road towards the electric future.

Electric Vehicles Poised to Go Mainstream

The bumper sticker on the back of Scott Wilson’s car reads, “This is what the end of gasoline looks like.”

And what does that car look like? A sleek, sci-fi experimental vehicle? A $100,000 Tesla luxury car? 

Nope. It’s just a Kia Soul EV, the battery-powered version of the Korean automaker’s boxy hatchback.

Once the domain of concept cars and hobbyists, electric vehicles are no longer so exotic. And sales are picking up. A record 150,000 of them sold last year in the United States.

“It used to be I knew everyone I saw that was driving an electric car,” said Wilson, the vice president of the Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Washington, D.C. “Now, I don’t.”

There are about to be a lot more strangers in EVs on the roads, many experts say.

Big carmakers, big plans

Volvo says every car it makes in 2019 and beyond will have an electric motor. General Motors says the company “believes in an all-electric future.” Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) predicts that in just over two decades, EVs will make up more than half of all vehicles sold.

Other analysts have more modest expectations. But even Exxon Mobil sees EVs topping 10 percent of the market by 2040.

Automakers hit a significant milestone in the past year. In December, General Motors launched the Chevrolet Bolt EV, the first car with a price tag under $40,000 and a range of more than 320 kilometers.

Automakers hit a significant milestone in the past year. In December, General Motors launched the Chevrolet Bolt EV, the first car with a price tag under $40,000 and a range of more than 320 kilometers.

That range is “basically double anything else that’s available at a comparable price,” said Chevrolet spokesman Fred Ligouri. Those figures “do wonders for getting beyond” what’s known as range anxiety, potential buyers’ fear of draining the battery before reaching their destination.

One-third of buyers have never owned an electric vehicle before.

“They went from (an) internal combustion engine vehicle right into pure electric,” an encouraging sign, Ligouri said.

The Bolt’s performance has impressed critics as well. Motor Trend magazine named the Bolt the 2017 Car of the Year.

The Bolt beat industry upstart Tesla to the mid-priced market. A modest 15,000 or so have been sold so far. But nearly a half-million people have ordered the Tesla Model 3, the company’s entrant into the mass market, despite long waits and slow production.

“Those are signals that there’s unmet demand for some of these new technologies,” said the World Resources Institute’s Eliot Metzger.

Electrification is cheaper than ever as the price of lithium ion batteries plummets faster than analysts expected. As costs come down, experts are moving up the date when electric vehicles can compete with internal combustion engines on price. BNEF puts that date in the second half of the next decade.

“We’re much further along than most researchers (and) industry insiders would have projected just two or three years ago,” said Nic Lutsey at the International Council on Clean Transportation.

China syndrome

Another reason the industry is moving fast: China.

Officials in the world’s biggest auto market will require carmakers to meet an electric vehicle quota starting in 2019.

Beijing aims to increase EVs’ share of the market from 1 to 2 percent today to around 4 percent in 2020.

“That’s a very large scale up within just several years,” Lutsey noted, but automakers say they can do it.

The push for electric vehicles is part of the government’s plan to clean up the toxic air in China’s major cities. Chinese officials are considering a ban on gas- and diesel-powered cars.

But it’s not just China. Pollution concerns in France, the United Kingdom, and India have officials there considering bans, too.

In the United States, the Trump administration aims to relax vehicle emissions standards, though state policies will likely complicate those efforts.

Without a push from government, experts say electric vehicles will have a hard time making major gains as long as gas prices are relatively low.

But as electric vehicle driver Wilson points out, that can change at any time.

“After the next crisis, when gas is $5 a gallon, then there will be waiting lists for cars like this,” he said.

Orange Is the New White? Unique Amber Wine Creates Buzz

The sloping vineyards of New York’s Finger Lakes region known for producing golden-hued rieslings and chardonnays also are offering a splash of orange wine.

 

The color comes not from citrus fruit, but by fermenting white wine grapes with their skins on before pressing – a practice that mirrors the way red wines are made. Lighter than reds and earthier than whites, orange wines have created a buzz in trendier quarters. And winemakers reviving the ancient practice like how the “skin-fermented” wines introduce more complex flavors to the bottle.  

 

“Pretty outgoing characteristics. Very spicy, peppery.  A lot of tea flavors, too, come through,” winemaker Vinny Aliperti said, taking a break from harvest duties at Atwater Estate Vineyards on Seneca Lake. “They’re more thoughtful wines. They’re more meditative.”

 

Atwater is among a few wineries encircling these glacier-carved lakes that have added orange to their mix of whites and reds. The practice dates back thousands of years, when winemakers in the Caucasus, a region located at the border of Europe and Asia, would ferment wine in buried clay jars. It has been revitalized in recent decades by vintners in Italy, California and elsewhere looking to connect wine to its roots or to conjure new tastes from the grapes. Or both. Clay jars are optional.

 

Aliperti has been experimenting with skin fermenting for years, first by blending a bit into traditional chardonnays to change up the flavor and more recently with full-on orange wines. This fall, he fermented Vignoles grapes with their skins in a stainless steel vat for a couple of weeks before pressing and then aging them in oak barrels.

Orange wines account for “far less than 1 percent” of what is handled by Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, the nation’s largest distributor with about a quarter of the market, according to Eric Hemer, senior vice president and corporate director of wine education.

 

Hemer expects orange wines to remain a niche variety due to small-scale production, higher retail prices _ up to $200 for a premium bottle – and the nature of the wine.

 

“It’s not a wine that’s going to appeal to the novice consumer or the mainstream wine drinker,” Hemer said. “It really takes a little bit more of, I think, a sophisticated palate.”

 

The wines have caught on in recent years among connoisseurs who like the depth of flavors, sommeliers who can regale customers with tales of ancient techniques and drinkers looking for something different. Christopher Nicolson, managing winemaker at Red Hook Winery in Brooklyn, said the wines hit their “crest of hipness” a couple of years ago, though they remain popular.

 

“I think they’re viewed by these younger drinkers as, ‘Oh, this is something new and fresh. And they’re breaking the rules of these Van Dyke-wearing, monocled … fusty old wine appreciators,’” Nicolson said.

 

It’s not for everyone. The rich flavors can come at the expense of the light, fruity feel that some white wine drinkers crave. And first-time drinkers can be thrown by seeing an orange chardonnay in their glasses.

 

“Actually I wasn’t sure because of the color, but it has a really nice flavor,” said Debbie Morris, of Chandler, Arizona, who tried a sip recently at Atwater’s tasting room. “I’m not a chardonnay person normally, but I would drink this.”

Electric Vehicles Poised for Mainstream, Experts Say

Electric cars have been a futuristic promise for decades. And electric vehicles finally appear poised to enter the mainstream. Major carmakers, from Volvo to General Motors, are proclaiming the future is electric. VOA’s Steve Baragona has a look at how soon that future may arrive.

Trump Urges House Republicans to Move Quickly on Budget, Tax Cuts

President Donald Trump urged House Republicans to move swiftly on passing a budget bill during a conference call Sunday, clearing the way for what he described as an historic push for tax cuts.

 

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both joined the House GOP call in which Trump called on members to adopt the budget passed by the Senate this week, so that they can move on to passing his tax reform plan.

 

Trump told the members they were on the verge of doing something historic, according to one Republican official on the call, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss publicly what was intended as a private update for members.

 

Another GOP aide familiar with the conversation said that Trump told the members again and again that the party would have a steep price to pay in next year’s midterm elections if they failed to pass his plan, which would slash the corporate tax rate to 20 percent and double the standard deduction used by most average Americans. The president also said multiple times that, beyond the looming elections, his plan was the right thing to do for country, the person said.

 

The Senate last week passed a budget that includes rules that will allow Republicans to get tax legislation through the Senate without Democratic votes and without fear of a Democratic filibuster.

 

Desperate for legislative victory

Republicans are desperate to rack up a legislative win after a series of embarrassing failures that have come despite the fact that the party controls both chambers of Congress and the White House.

 

On the call, House Speaker Paul Ryan told members he hoped to pass a revised Senate budget bill this week to increase the changes that tax reform can be enacted by the end of the year.

Trump will also work to rally support for the plan on the Hill Tuesday at a lunch with Senate Republicans.

 

Congress also continues to wrestle with the health care system.

 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he’s willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor – if Trump makes clear he supports it. A proposal by two senators – Republican Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democrat Patty Murray of Washington – would extend for two years federal insurance payments that Trump has blocked. But Trump has offered mixed signals, alternately praising and condemning the effort – confusing Democrats and Republicans alike.

 

Asked whether he would bring the bill to the floor, McConnell said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he was waiting “to hear from President Trump what kind of health care bill he might sign.”

 

“If there’s a need for some kind of interim step here to stabilize the market, we need a bill the president will actually sign.  And I’m not certain yet what the president is looking for here, but I will be happy to bring a bill to the floor if I know President Trump would sign it,” the Republican said. He added of Trump: “I think he hasn’t made a final decision.”

 

Compromise on health care?

The plan unveiled last week likely has 60 votes in the Senate, mostly from Democrats, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Sunday urged McConnell to bring it to the floor “immediately, this week.”

 

“This is a good compromise,” Schumer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He predicted it would pass “by a large number of votes” and that the president would ultimately sign it to avoid the blame for rising insurance premiums.

 

“If Republicans think that if premiums go up they’re going to avoid the blame, if Senator McConnell thinks that, he’s wrong,” Schumer said.

Trump at first suggested he supported the temporary fix as he continues to hold out hope for the passage of legislation that would repeal and replace former president Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which Republicans have repeatedly failed to achieve. But White House officials said later that Trump would only sign an interim bill that also lifts the tax penalties that Obama’s health care law imposes on people who don’t buy coverage and employers who don’t offer plans to employees. The White House also wants provisions making it easier for people to buy low-premium policies with less coverage. Top Senate Democrats reject those demands.

 

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, who was also spotted at Trump’s Virginia golf course Sunday, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Trump doesn’t want to back a plan “without also getting something for folks who are being hurt.”

 

“And I think the criticisms you’ve heard this week are like, ‘Look, I’m okay with doing a deal.’ This is the president now. ‘But I’m not getting enough for the folks who are getting hurt. So give me more by way of associated health plans. Give me more of the things that we know we can do for folks back home to actually help them,’” Mulvaney said.

 

“I think there’s actually a pretty good chance to get a deal,” he added. “It’s just Murray-Alexander in its current form probably isn’t far enough yet.”

 

McConnell, in his interviews, also but pushed back against former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s efforts to recruit candidates to challenge Republican incumbents who support McConnell’s leadership, arguing that what Republicans need is candidates who can win.

 

“Look, this is not about personalities. This is about achievement. And in order to make policy, you have to actually win the election,” he said on Fox News. “And some of these folks that you’ve been quoting, as I said are specialists on nominating people who lose.”

Debate Sharpens in Washington on Nuclear Pact with Iran

Debate is sharpening in Washington on the merits and potential pitfalls, the risks and possible rewards, of the United States possibly pulling out of the international nuclear accord with Iran. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the U.S. Congress has decisions to make now that President Donald Trump has withheld certifying Iran’s compliance with the pact co-negotiated by the Obama administration.

Key US Senators Call for More Information on Niger Attack

Key U.S. senators called Sunday for the White House to be more forthcoming about the country’s military involvement in Niger after four U.S. soldiers were killed in an ambush there earlier this month.

In separate interviews on NBC’s “Meet the Press” news show, Republican Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senate leader Charles Schumer said they support an effort last week by Republican Senator John McCain to find out the details of the attack as well as the scope of the U.S. campaign against Islamic State in the west African country. Both Graham and Schumer said they had been unaware of the substantial number of the U.S. troops in Niger.

“I didn’t know there was 1,000 troops in Niger,” Graham said. “This is an endless war without boundaries and no limitation on time and geography. You’ve got to tell us more.

“We don’t know exactly where we’re at in the world militarily and what we’re doing,” Graham said. “So John McCain is going to try to create a new system to make sure that we can answer the question, why were we there, we’ll know how many soldiers are there, and if somebody gets killed there, that we won’t find out about it in the paper.

“I can say this to the families,” Graham said. “They were there to defend America. They were there to help allies. They were there to prevent another platform to attack America and our allies.”

Schumer said, “We need to look at this carefully. This is a brave new world. There are no set battle plans.”

He said that he would favor revisiting the current congressional authorization for overseas military action that is 16 years old, an agreement stemming from the 2001 terror attacks on the U.S.

“There is no easy answer but we need to look at it,” he said. “The answer we have now is not adequate.”

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Graham and McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, last week that the military is shifting its counter-terrorism strategy to focus more on Africa. The defense chief said military leaders want to expand their ability to use force against suspected terrorists.

U.S. officials believe the Niger attack was launched by a local Islamic State affiliate, but the Pentagon is still investigating the circumstances of how it occurred.

 

Trump Defends Frequent Twitter Bickering with US Officials

President Donald Trump is defending his frequent bickering on Twitter with officials across the U.S. political spectrum, saying it sometimes pushes officials “to do what they’re supposed to be doing.”

Trump told Fox News anchor Maria Bartiromo in a wide-ranging interview that aired Sunday, “Sometimes it helps, to be honest with you.”

Republican lawmakers have often suggested Trump end his frequent tweets, but he said, “I doubt I would be here if it were not for social media, to be honest with you.”

He said he views social media as way to present his views unfiltered by the mainstream national media, “because there is a fake media out there. I get treated very unfairly by the media. You have to keep people interested also.

“You know what I find,” he said, “the ones that don’t want me to are the enemies. The people who really don’t like what happened with me and winning the election and of all the things.

“I don’t think I want to take any chances,” Trump said. “And we do get points out there. I mean, we get tremendous points. I can express my views when somebody expresses maybe a false view that they said I gave.

“It works, it just seems to work. I mean, it is a little unconventional,” he said.

On Sunday, Trump continued his attacks against a Florida congresswoman, Democrat Frederica Wilson, who quoted Trump as telling the widow of a U.S. soldier killed in Niger that he “knew what he was getting into” when he joined the military.

In a tweet, Trump said, “Wacky Congresswoman Wilson is the gift that keeps on giving for the Republican Party, a disaster for Dems. You watch her in action & vote” for Republicans.

In the interview, Trump said he wants Congress to move quickly on tax cuts and reforms.

“I will say this,” Trump said, “I want to get it by the end of the year, but I’d be very disappointed if it took that long.”

 

 

South African Bakery Slices Prices and Sees Sales Skyrocket

A bakery in a low-income area of Johannesburg slashed prices of its popular bread, with unexpected results. What started as a way to help feed the community became a recipe for success as the bakery has a lot more business than ever. VOA’s Arash Arabasadi reports.

((NARRATOR))

Fed’s Powell, Economist Taylor, Yellen on Trump’s Federal Reserve List

President Donald Trump is considering nominating Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell and Stanford University economist John Taylor for the central bank’s top two jobs, in an apparent bid to reassure markets and appease conservatives hungry for change.

Under that scenario, either Powell or Taylor would take the reins from Fed Chair Janet Yellen when her term expires in early February, and the other would fill the vice chair position left vacant when Stanley Fischer retired this month.

“That is something that is under consideration, but he hasn’t ruled out a number of options. He’ll have an announcement on that soon, in the coming days,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters Friday.

​Powell a centrist

Making Powell, a soft-spoken centrist who has supported Yellen’s gradual approach to raising interest rates, the next Fed chief would provide the continuity in monetary policy that investors crave.

The addition of Taylor, who has backed an overhaul of the Fed and embraced a more rigid rule-oriented monetary policy, would be a feather in the cap of conservative Republicans who feel that monetary policy has been too loose under Yellen, who was named as Fed chair by Democratic President Barack Obama and has led the central bank since February 2014.

“I think Powell might be the safer pick insofar as we know what we’re getting,” said Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at J.P. Morgan Chase. “He’s a guy who obviously knows the Fed culture, how the (policy-setting) committee operates, so for some of those soft skills we know he would be effective.”

Powell has embraced the Yellen Fed’s monetary policy, keeping the faith that a tighter job market will eventually push wages higher and end a lengthy period of worryingly low inflation.

Taylor has spent the last two decades refining and advocating wider use of a rule that lays out where interest rates ought to be, given certain conditions of inflation and the broader economy. His rule implies that rates should be higher than they are now.

​Yellen’s defense

Yellen, speaking at an economic conference in Washington Friday evening, mounted a strong defense of the tools the Fed has used to fight the sharp economic downturn triggered by the financial crisis and said there was a risk of another crisis in which those “unconventional policies” may be needed again.

Yellen, who Trump has indicated could still be named to another term as Fed chair, was not asked about the Fed job and did not offer any comment on the selection process.

Taylor inflexible?

Although Taylor is highly regarded within the Fed, his rule-based rate-setting position has spurred criticism that he would handcuff U.S. monetary policy.

Taylor pushed back at a meeting at the Boston Fed on Saturday, saying he favored a flexible implementation of policy rules and did not want to tie the Fed’s hands or suggest that he was motivated by a distrust of policymakers.

“I think that’s completely incorrect,” he said. “I trust policymakers; (rules) are an effort to make policy better.”

Some analysts suggest that fears that Taylor would bring an inflexible monetary policy with him to the Fed, as some Republicans in Congress hope, are likely exaggerated.

“There is some scope for disappointment if people think putting Taylor in will just lead to mechanical-based policy,” Feroli said.

Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester, speaking with reporters Friday, seemed to agree.

“Even if you pick a rule, the rule itself would need to be modified given the structure of the economy,” she said. “But I do think being systematic, looking at the kinds of information we look at systematically over time, articulating our strategy for policy and being less discretionary is a good idea.”

Confusing signal

At the same time, there are concerns that the combination of Powell and Taylor atop the world’s most powerful central bank could send a confusing signal to markets.

It is unclear whether Trump, who has criticized Yellen’s stewardship but also said on several occasions that he preferred rates to stay low, wants to dramatically alter the Fed’s direction.

Although he appears to be tilting to Powell and Taylor, in addition to Yellen the Republican president has interviewed his top economic adviser Gary Cohn and former Fed Governor Kevin Warsh for the Fed chief position.

US Warns About Attacks On Energy, Industrial Firms

The Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation warned in a report distributed by email late on Friday that the nuclear, energy, aviation, water and critical manufacturing industries have been targeted along with government entities in attacks dating back to at least May.

The agencies warned that hackers had succeeded in compromising some targeted networks, but did not identify specific victims or describe any cases of sabotage.

The objective of the attackers is to compromise organizational networks with malicious emails and tainted websites to obtain credentials for accessing computer networks of their targets, the report said.

U.S. authorities have been monitoring the activity for months, which they initially detailed in a confidential June report first reported by Reuters. That document, which was privately distributed to firms at risk of attacks, described a narrower set of activity focusing on the nuclear, energy and critical manufacturing sectors.

Department of Homeland Security spokesman Scott McConnell declined to elaborate on the information in the report or say what prompted the government to go public with the information at this time.

“The technical alert provides recommendations to prevent and mitigate malicious cyber activity targeting multiple sectors and reiterated our commitment to remain vigilant for new threats,” he said.

The FBI declined to comment on the report, which security researchers said described an escalation in targeting of infrastructure in Europe and the United States that had been described in recent reports from private firms, including Symantec Corp.

“This is very aggressive activity,” said Robert Lee, an expert in securing industrial networks.

Lee, chief executive of cyber-security firm Dragos, said the report appears to describe hackers working in the interests of the Russian government, though he declined to elaborate. Dragos is also monitoring other groups targeting infrastructure that appear to be aligned with China, Iran, North Korea, he said.

The hacking described in the government report is unlikely to result in dramatic attacks in the near term, Lee said, but he added that it is still troubling: “We don’t want our adversaries learning enough to be able to do things that are disruptive later.”

The report said that hackers have succeeded in infiltrating some targets, including at least one energy generator, and conducting reconnaissance on their networks. It was accompanied by six technical documents describing malware used in the attacks.

Homeland Security “has confidence that this campaign is still ongoing and threat actors are actively pursuing their objectives over a long-term campaign,” the report said.

The report said the attacker was the same as one described by Symantec in a September report that warned advanced hackers had penetrated the systems controlling operations of some U.S.

and European energy companies.

Symantec researcher Vikram Thakur said in an email that much of the contents of Friday’s report were previously known within the security community.

Cyber-security firm CrowdStrike said the technical indicators described in the report suggested the attacks were the work of a hacking group it calls Berserk Bear, which is affiliated with the Russian Federation and has targeted the energy, financial and transportation industries.

“We have not observed any destructive action by this actor,” CrowdStrike Vice President Adam Meyers said in an email.

Turkey Bank Regulator Dismisses ‘Rumors’ After Iran Sanctions Report

Turkey’s banking regulator urged the public on Saturday to ignore rumors about financial institutions, in an apparent dismissal of a report that some Turkish banks face billions of dollars of U.S. fines over alleged violations of Iran sanctions.

“It has been brought to the public’s attention that stories, that are rumors in nature, about our banks are not based on documents or facts, and should not be heeded,” the BDDK banking regulator said in a statement, adding that Turkey’s banks were functioning well.

The Haberturk newspaper on Saturday reported that six banks potentially face substantial fines, citing senior banking sources. It did not name the banks. One bank faces a penalty in excess of $5 billion, while the rest of the fines will be lower, it said.

Asked to comment, a spokesman for the U.S. Treasury, which is responsible for U.S. sanctions regimes, said only: “Treasury doesn’t telegraph intentions or prospective actions.”

Two senior Turkish economy officials told Reuters Turkey has not received any notice from Washington about such penalties, adding that U.S. regulators would normally inform the finance ministry’s financial crimes investigation board.

U.S. authorities have hit global banks with billions of dollars in fines over violations of sanctions with Iran and other countries in recent years.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump last week adopted a harsh new approach to Iran by refusing to certify its compliance with a nuclear deal struck with the United States and five other powers including Britain, France and Germany under his predecessor Barack Obama.

Trump argues the deal was too lenient and has effectively left its fate up to the U.S. Congress, which might try to modify it or bring back U.S. sanctions previously imposed on Iran.

Last week, the U.S. Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker said Trump’s strategy involved placing additional sanctions on Tehran and that Washington had been “engaging our allies and partners” with the aim of denying funds to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The Haberturk report comes as relations between Washington and Ankara, which are NATO allies, have been strained by a series of diplomatic rows, prompting both countries to cut back issuing visas to each other’s citizens.

U.S. prosecutors last month charged a former Turkish economy minister and the ex-head of a state-owned bank with conspiring to violate Iran sanctions by illegally moving hundreds of millions of dollars through the U.S. financial system on Tehran’s behalf.

President Erdogan has dismissed the charges as politically motivated, and tantamount to an attack on the Turkish Republic.

The charges stem from the case against Reza Zarrab, a wealthy Turkish-Iranian gold trader who was arrested in the United States over sanctions evasion last year. Erdogan has said U.S. authorities had “ulterior motives” in charging Zarrab, who has pleaded not guilty.

Democratic Chairman: Trump ‘Most Dangerous’ President Ever

Trying to quell accusations that he is ousting activists from the party’s left flank, Democratic Chairman Tom Perez told fellow Democrats on Saturday that unity is crucial in the fight against President Donald Trump, whom he lambasted as an “existential threat” to the nation.

“We have the most dangerous president in American history and one of the most reactionary Congresses in American history,” Perez said as he addressed the first Democratic National Committee gathering since his February election.

The former Obama Cabinet official blistered “a culture of corruption” that he said extends to Trump’s Cabinet, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but he warned that internal ruckuses over party priorities and leadership would distract from the goal of winning more elections to upend Republicans’ domination in Washington.

The chairman’s plea comes amid a rift over his appointments to little-known but influential party committees and the 75 at-large members of the national party committee. Perez and his aides plug his choices as a way to make the DNC younger and more diverse, but the moves also mean demotions for several prominent Democrats who backed Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential primaries and then supported Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison over Perez in the postelection race for party chairman.

Perez spent time during this week’s proceedings meeting privately with frustrated DNC members, including some he did not reappoint. He apologized publicly Saturday for not reaching all of those members before he announced his appointments, but he defended his overall aim.

“If someone ever asks you which wing of the party you belong to, tell `em you belong to the accomplishment wing of the Democratic Party,” he said, “because you’re trying to get s— done. That’s what we’re trying to do here, folks. We’re trying to move the ball forward.”

Republicans, meanwhile, have exalted in the internal wrangle, painting the DNC as incompetently discordant.

“The Democratic Party’s message of doom and gloom has left them leaderless and nearly extinct in most of the country,” Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens said. “If Tom Perez wants his party to stick with that same failed strategy, Republicans will gladly keep working to help the middle class by cutting their taxes and fixing our broken health care system.”

To some extent, the Democrats’ developments reflect routine party politics after an unusually contentious chairman’s race, but they also fit into the ongoing philosophical tussle on the left.

Sanders’ backers accused the DNC in 2016 of stacking the nominating process in Clinton’s favor and shutting out the Vermont independent who still seeks to pull the party toward his ideology. Those frustrations carried over into the DNC chair race between Perez, the former labor secretary, and Ellison.

Now, Perez’s appointees will hold sway over setting the primary calendar in 2020 and, perhaps most importantly, whether the party’s superdelegates, including the 75 at-large members, will continue to cast presidential nominating votes at Democratic conventions without being bound to any state primary or caucus results.

Democrats are looking next month to hold the Virginia governor’s seat and wrest the New Jersey governor’s seat from Republican control. Next year, Democrats need to flip at least 24 Republican congressional seats to regain control of the House. They face an uphill battle in gaining control of the Senate, because they must defend 10 incumbents in states Trump won last November. Democrats also want to increase their gubernatorial roster from the current 15 state executives.

Separately, former Attorney General Eric Holder urged the party to play the long game necessary to overcome Republican advantages scored when GOP-run legislatures drew congressional and legislative districts around the country after the 2010 census.

Holder leads a political action group, with fundraising support for former President Barack Obama, to back candidates in states where gerrymandering gives Democrats an uphill path to majorities. He singled out Virginia, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Georgia and Texas, among other states, where Republicans “picked their voters” with districts that “are impressive in their geographic creativity but they are destructive to representative democracy.”

The Supreme Court earlier this month heard oral arguments in a case challenging the Wisconsin districts. Legal analysts expect Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the court’s swing vote, will decide whether the court for the first time declares partisan gerrymandering unconstitutional.

Trump Plans to Help With Russia Legal Bills

President Donald Trump intends to spend at least $430,000 of his own money to help pay the legal bills of White House staff and campaign aides related to the investigations into Russian election meddling in the 2016 election.

A White House official confirmed the plan, which was first reported by the website Axios.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the president’s plans.

Trump has dismissed multiple ongoing investigations into whether his campaign colluded with Russia as a “witch hunt” made up by Democrats to explain Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss.

Intelligence officials have concluded that Russia had a clear preference for Trump in the 2016 campaign and tried to help him win.