Pakistan Parliament denounces Trump policy

Author: 
Sib Kaifee
Fri, 2017-09-01 03:00
ID: 
1504214537497543100

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani MPs on Thursday unanimously approved a resolution presented by Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif rejecting the new US strategy in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Khurshid Shah asked that a joint session of Parliament be held immediately after Eid Al-Adha to compose an appropriate response to anti-Pakistan statements made by US President Donald Trump during his televised address to the nation.
During his speech on Aug. 21, Trump said Pakistan harbors “agents of chaos” and protects militant groups that allegedly use Pakistani soil to launch attacks against the US-backed Afghan government.
Asif advised MPs to postpone all official visits to the US, and scheduled visits by American delegations to Pakistan.
A visit by the US Acting Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells to discuss the Trump administration’s new Afghan policy was postponed without reason in a statement issued on Sunday by Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry.
Former Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said resolutions and condemnation will not halt US criticism.
He urged Islamabad to revisit the rules of engagement with the US since it continues to blame Pakistan for its own failures in the region.
“The US did not ask Pakistan before going to Afghanistan,” Khan said, adding that America chose to talk with the Taliban, but when Pakistan does so it is unacceptable to Washington.
Javed Hafiz, a retired Pakistani diplomat, told Arab News that Parliament’s resolution was hashed out prematurely.
“Have (MPs) thoroughly studied our deficit, neighboring relations and our dependency on the IMF (International Monetary Fund), which the US controls?” he asked.
“Before adopting any confrontational policy, they need to take a step back and open doors for talks. The current approach isn’t right.”
Parliament concluded its session by demanding the formulation of an economic policy in case US reimbursements under the Coalition Support Fund are further slashed or halted.
The resolution said Afghanistan, the US and its allies should better manage the border and stop terrorists from attacking Pakistan.
It added that the US tilt toward India would create an imbalance between the nuclear rivals, thus destabilizing the region. The US ambassador is to be summoned and briefed on Pakistan’s reservations.
A Foreign Ministry official told Arab News that Asif will lead a delegation to China, Russia, Turkey and Iran to hold talks with the regional stakeholders following the resolution.
Mosharraf Zaidi, a foreign policy expert and former advisor to ex-Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, told Arab News that Pakistan should maintain a working relationship with the US while engaging other countries.

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Brexit blow for Arab immigration to Britain

Author: 
SEAN CRONIN
Fri, 2017-09-01 03:00
ID: 
1504214537457542500

LONDON: Brexit is discouraging Arab immigration to Britain say lawyers, as continental Europe increases in appeal for emigrants.
Economic uncertainty, sluggish growth and the weak pound is also a turn-off for would-be immigrants eyeing the country as a base for their business.
“The fall in net migration to the UK may be an effect of the recent Brexit result, and due to perceived concerns over the resultant effect on the UK’s overall economic performance relative to other high-income EU member states,” said Nicola Anne Wilkins, senior immigration lawyer at Astons. “Concerns could be attributed to a number of factors including job certainty, a fall in the value of the pound or investment depreciation.”
Net migration to Britain fell to its lowest level in three years in the year to the end of March, according to UK government statistics released last week.
Brexit uncertainty is taking its toll on the UK economy, which grew by 0.3 percent in the second quarter according to data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
It showed negligible household spending growth as consumer inflation reached a four-year high of 2.9 percent in May, fueled by the weak pound.
The weak pound can be both a positive and negative factor for would-be immigrants depending on their reasons for moving to the UK and what currency their own assets are held in.
While the fall in sterling has drawn Arab money into the UK property market — its investment appeal does not always equate to being an attractive place to live and work — especially with such a clouded economic outlook arising from Brexit.
“A lot of business people coming here are not particularly minded about their inability to access the European single market,” said Jahed Morad, a London-based lawyer who advises entrepreneurs and businesspeople from the Middle East on visa applications.
“But where it does impact them is the fall in the value of the pound and also the general economic uncertainty around Brexit, because if you are a small business owner coming into an uncertain environment in terms of the consumer appetite for your goods or services then obviously that makes them a little more nervous,” he said.
According to ONS data, about 15,000 people moved to the UK from the Middle East and Central Asia in the year to March 2017. The data does not include a breakdown of individual source countries.
Those numbers were flat on a year earlier but down by half from two years earlier when arrivals from the region peaked at 23,000 in the year to June 2015
Law firms and consultancies specializing in immigration advice are increasingly targeting the Middle East, drawn by the wealth held by Arabs considering a move to Europe.
“A lot of small firms with contacts in the Middle East have set up offices in Dubai where they advise clients on UK immigration and nationality laws,” added Morad.

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Trump Ending Obama-Era “Dreamer” Program: Report

President Trump is expected on Friday to announce plans to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which gave a deportation reprieve to hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants also known as “dreamers”, Fox News reports. Under DACA, nearly 800,000 people brought to the country illegally as children received work permits and deferral from deportation.

Trump had originally promised to terminate DACA during his presidential campaign, but since taking office had left the door open to preserving parts of it. According to Fox, which cites a senior administration official, Trump will announce the program’s end but will allow so-called “dreamers” currently in the program to stay in the U.S. until their work permits expire – which, for some, could be as long as two years.

The program, which was instituted through an executive order signed by President Obama in 2012, has been facing a legal challenge from Texas and nine other states, which threatened court action to attempt to block it unless Trump rescinds DACA by Sept. 5.

However, on Thursday afternoon, White House officials on Thursday pushed back on the Fox News report, claiming no decision has been made. “A final decision on that front has not been made,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during today’s press briefing. “When we have a final decision, this is under review, there are a lot of components that need to be looked at.” She then told a reporter “No offense to your colleagues from Fox News, but I’m better informed than they are … it has not been finalized.”

“A final decision on that front has not been made, and when it is, we will certainly inform everybody in this room,” she said.

White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert added that “the administration is still reviewing the policy,” and said the lawsuits “won’t affect the policy decision, but it will affect the timing of it. We certainly have to watch the lawsuits and how they matriculate through the courts and when the deadlines will be.”

According to The HIll, Trump and senior administration officials, including White House chief of staff John Kelly, have said they don’t believe DACA would hold up in court, while the DOJ has declined to say whether it would defend the program from the potential lawsuit.

Rumors have been circulating for weeks about how Trump plans to respond to the threat of court action, prompting Democrats, some Republicans and activists to mount a public defense of the program.

 

Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) introduced amendments Tuesday that would prevent public funds from being used to alter the memo that instituted DACA in 2012.

 

And California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) said Monday his office was considering mounting a defense of the program if the Justice Department refuses to act.

A plan to allow DACA to simply lapse already has buy-in from conservative groups that want the president to end the program. “Our position has been that President Trump should allow DACA to lapse,” Ira Mehlman from the Federation for American Immigration Reform told Fox News. “As people’s two-year deferments and work authorization expire they should not be renewed.”

Ironically, in an interview with ABC News earlier this year, Trump suggested he might not entirely do away with DACA. “They shouldn’t be very worried,” Trump said of the young people in the program. “I do have a big heart.”

Meanwhile, Democrats on Thursday expressed opposition to the move, referencing the president’s past comments. “If he ends DACA, Trump would betray #DREAMers he said he’d treat w/ ‘great heart.’ These incredible young people make our country stronger,” tweeted Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, the 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee.

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U.S. Coal Output Up 9.6% Year On Year

U.S. coal output last week stood at 16.7 million short tons, according to estimates from the Energy Information Administration. This compares to 17.025 million tons in the prior week – a record-high for 2017. Both weekly figures represent substantial increases on an annual basis, by 9.6 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively. Over the long term, however, the increase will be unsustainable, analysts believe. The current increase is prompted by an increase in international coal prices, itself driven by an output decline in China and supply disruptions…

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Trump To Block Russian Ownership Of Venezuelan Subsidiary In US

Trump’s White House will block attempts by the Kremlin to acquire large portions of Venezuela’s Citgo, a U.S. subsidiary of the state-owned PDVSA. Rosneft agreed to acquire half of Citgo’s shares in exchange for a $1.5 billion loan in 2016. Cash-hungry PDVSA approved the deal, leaving American lawmakers concerned that a Russian firm would control roughly five percent of U.S. refining capacity via the buyouts. Citgo controls three refineries which process 750,000 barrels of oil per day. It also owns 48 storage facilities for refined…

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OPEC Compliance Hits 89 Percent In August

Output from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) fell by 170,000 barrels per day this month, down from a year-long high in July, according to feedback from a new Reuters survey, which now stands at 32.83 million bpd. The drop in output came as Libya faced renewed conflict in the Oil Crescent and OPEC members increased their compliance to preexisting production quotas. The cartel’s No. 1 and No. 2 producers, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, cut output last month, causing compliance to rise by five points to 89 percent –…

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Harvey’s Destruction “May Have Solved The Auto Industry’s Inventory Problem”

On Tuesday, during the peak of the Harvey-related flooding, we reported that the hurricane may leave a greater trail of automobile destruction than even Katrina, the most expensive natural disaster in US history. In August 2005, Katrina wiped out some 500,000-600,000 vehicles but William Armstrong of CL King warned that Houston has about 5x more people than New Orleans did at the time.

Cars

The news was especially bad for retailers and auto dealers: storms of this magnitude bring not only millions in salvage-related charge offs for the auto industry but a loss of critical “selling days” for one of the biggest markets in the country.  As CNBC pointed out, Citi analyst Itay Michaeli figures Hurricane Harvey could knock about 500,000 units off the August auto SAAR to be reported tomorrow. Michaeli now estimates Harvey will affect some 125 counties in Texas and about 60 percent of the state’s auto sales.

Before Harvey, Michaeli estimated the August sales pace for the country was going to be in the mid-16 million range. As the storm lingers over the area, Michaeli has dropped his estimate. “Our analysis suggests that Hurricane Harvey could push this down to the low-16 million unit range,” Michaeli wrote in a note to clients.

“This is bad; real bad,” said Marc Cannon, an AutoNation executive vice president. “Right now, we are focused on making sure all of our employees are safe and taken care of. At the same time, we’re focusing on getting all of our stores up and running.” AutoNation’s 18 dealerships in the Houston remain shut as widespread flooding has not only swamped thousands of buildings in the Houston area, it’s likely damaged hundreds, perhaps thousands of new cars and trucks parked on dealership lots.

Which, while terrible news to dealers – many of whom face bankruptcy if their insurance policies don’t cover all the damages – may be just what the struggling U.S. OEM and supplier industry ordered, according to a new report by RBC. As bank analyst Joseph Spak writes, “while the devastation from Tropical Storm Harvey continues and our thoughts remain with the affected areas, we are beginning to wonder if the storm can, at least near-term, change the auto narrative. Harvey may have removed a number of the overhangs that caused investors to sour on the group.

The RBC strategist then lays out his reasoning why Harvey may have helped the US auto industry in terms of the 4 most pressing narratives: bloated inventory, demand concerns, peak mix, and used vehicles pricing. In fact, as he puts it, “In short, Harvey may have solved the industry’s inventory problem.

Here is the spin:

  • Overhang 1: Bloated inventory. July 2017 days inventory stood at 68 days, 8 days higher than July 2016 and 13 days higher than the 10-year July average. This led investors to be worried about production cuts. Absolute inventory (at July 2017) was up ~330k units y/y. Edmunds estimates approximately 366k new cars and light trucks are on dealer lots in Texas that could be affected by Harvey. We believe a significant number of those could be damaged. Once Houston is stabilized, we see an opportunity for automakers to help re-position inventory from other geographies (we suspect GM could take advantage of this). In short, Harvey may have solved the industry’s inventory problem.
  • Overhang 2: Demand concerns. We expect there could be a modest impact to August SAAR (we hedged by ~0.1mm to 16.4mm), but also believe the market won’t put a lot of credence into the print. We would expect a further impact into early September before delayed purchases start to come back. Then over late 2017 and into 2018, replacement would occur. The actual damage to existing vehicles in operation is unknown but likely extensive. Cox Automotive estimates ~500k vehicles could ultimately be scrapped (they estimate Sandy was ~250k). As a result, we believe future NA production forecasts could be positively revised – a good catalyst for suppliers.
  • Overhang 3: Peak mix concerns. Moreover, this should be a rich mix as Texas is a key truck market (~14% of all full-size trucks, vs. 9% of overall sales; 1 out of 5 vehicles sold in Texas is a full-size truck). Key pickup truck suppliers AXL, TEN, BWA could benefit. We would favor Ford and F-150 suppliers and Ram and their suppliers over GM and K2XX suppliers given GM may not be able to participate as much given constraints from their program changeover.
  • Overhang 4: Used vehicle pricing concerns. We would expect near-term used vehicle pricing to improve given a rush of demand for loaner vehicles. This could help consumers looking to trade-in vehicles and potentially residual values for new leases.

In short, yet another twist on the familiar broken window, or in this case, busted car fallacy, which of course is great in capturing the flow impact on metrics such as GDP and consumption, but completely ignores the capital lost as a result of the inherent destruction, something which insurers, and perhaps the US taxpayer, will ultimately be on the hook for. Naturally, there is only so far that this type of “obligation transfer” can stretch before the whole construct falls apart, or else every time the US entered a recession a few strategically placed nukes would be sufficient to unleash a new economic golden age until the next contraction in the business cycle. Luckily, economists haven’t gone that far yet. Unluckily, it is becoming increasingly obvious to everyone that the “next best thing” may be needed to boost growth. War.

As for cars, here is Spak’s advice on how to trade the Texas tragedy:

Time to tactically increase auto exposure. Net, with valuations that will screen attractive relative to other potential Harvey recovery plays, we would tactically look to increase exposure to the group. Separately, suppliers with meaningful Europe exposure should benefit from the Euro move. Among suppliers, larger beneficiaries could be: AXL, BWA, DAN, TEN. For OEMs, we would look to F.

If he is right, how long before a populist outcry demands that any industries benefiting from Harvey’s destruction should be taxed more?

For now one thing is certain – stocks of RV makers have surged on the Harvey news, whether on expectations that just like during Katrina, FEMA will splurge on recreational vehicles to house the tens of thousands of emergency workers, or simply on expectations that with their homes – and car – badly damaged, tens of thousands of Texans will opt to buy the one object that combines the two.

Which just may push US GDP even more into the green: recall that in the first quarter, the biggest contributor to personal spending came from sales of… recreational goods and vehicles.

Incidentally, for those who wonder, FEMA’s 2005 purchase of RVs ended up being a big hit to taxpayers. Back then, FEMA hurriedly bought 145,000 trailers and mobile homes just before and after Katrina hit, spending $2.7 billion largely through no-bid contracts. It then scrambled – unsuccessfully – to sell as many as 41,000 of the homes, netting about 40 cents on each dollar spent by taxpayers.

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Libya Thwarts Suspected Oil Smugglers For Second Time This Week

A medium-sized oil tanker that was smuggling crude oil in the Mediterranean Sea was apprehended by the Libyan coastguard on Thursday, according to a new report by The New Arab.  The ship, called “Rex,” had ten crew members, all of whom have been captured by the coast guard. Colonal Abu Ajila Abdelbarri told reporters that the crew and boat had been under tight surveillance prior to their arrest in Libyan waters. The tanker flew the Tanzanian flag and carried 1.16 million liters of diesel. The crew contained five Turks, three Georgians…

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India moves to deport Rohingya Muslims

Author: 
SANJAY KUMAR
Fri, 2017-09-01 03:00
ID: 
1504212210647318100

DELHI: “Kill us, but don’t send us back to Myanmar,” pleaded 29-year-old Sabber, a Rohingya refugee living in India since 2005.
Sabber, who was known as Kyaw Min in his home country, has lived in constant fear of deportation since the Indian government asked state governments to identify and deport all Rohingya Muslims.
“This is absolutely wrong, very inhumane,” said Sabber, who lives with family members in a shanty in New Delhi.
“The community came to India seeking shelter from the atrocities taking place in their own country. How can you turn them back when you know that the situation in Myanmar is so dangerous for us?”
In January, he formed the Rohingya Human Rights Initiative (RHRI), an NGO, to take up the issue of the community’s suffering with the Indian government.
But Kiren Rijiju, union minister of state for home affairs, told Reuters: “They are all illegal immigrants. They have no basis to live here. Any illegal immigrants will be deported.”
Some 16,500 Rohingya are registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in New Delhi.
“We can’t stop them from registering. But we are not signatory to the accord on refugees,” Rijiju said.
But Human Rights Watch (HRW) said: “While India is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol, it is still bound by customary international law not to forcibly return refugees to a place where they face a serious risk of persecution or threats to their life or freedom.”
Raghu Menon, media and advocacy manager at Amnesty International India, told Arab News: “Considering how dangerous the situation is in Myanmar, sending them back against their wishes is not only a violation of international law but also morally questionable.”
HRW has come down heavily on the Indian government’s decision to deport the minority. “Indian authorities should abide by India’s international legal obligations and not forcibly return any Rohingya to Burma without first fairly evaluating their claims as refugees,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of HRW.
Despite not being a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, India has a healthy tradition of giving asylum to persecuted minorities, including Tibetans, Afghans, ethnic Kachins from Myanmar, Buddhist Chakmas from Bangladesh, and Tamils from Sri Lanka.
MP Shashi Tharoor, a prominent leader of the Congress Party, tweeted: “Shocked by Govt’s decision to deport Rohingya refugees. Ancient humanitarian tradition being sacrificed purely because Rohingyas are Muslim?”
But the Indian government says deportation is due to security reasons. The Week magazine quoted a Home Affairs Ministry official as saying: “Illegal migrants are more vulnerable to getting recruited by terrorist organizations.”
Dr. Nafees Ahmad, assistant professor at the Faculty of Legal Studies at the South Asian University (SAU), told Arab News that such an argument is unconstitutional.
“Constitutional protection of the right to life and personal liberty is also available to people who aren’t citizens of India. No one can be forcefully deported and expelled,” he said.
An estimated 40,000 Rohingya Muslims live in various cities in northern India. They have come from Bangladesh after fleeing Myanmar.
Sabber said hundreds of Rohingya are languishing in jails in Kolkata and Tripura after being caught crossing the India-Bangladesh border. He has asked the Indian government to release them.
Meanwhile, he plans to buy goats to slaughter for Eid Al-Adha on Saturday and throw a feast for his community, because “in our life there’s hardly any moment of enjoyment. It’s a constant struggle.”

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Boomers Are Turning 71 – These 4 Charts Paint A Perfect Storm It Will Set Off For Investors

Authored by Stephen McBride via MauldinEconomics.com,
Few investors understand the magnitude of the looming demographic crisis and its ramifications.
The first Baby Boomers turned 70 last year. At the same time, the US fertility rate is at its lowest p…

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