Tag Archives: politics

Trump calls for elimination of tariffs, end to US being world’s ‘piggy bank’

(CNN)President Donald Trump on Saturday said he wanted to see the elimination of trade barriers between the United States and its closest allies amid tensions over the Trump administration’s move to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the EU, Canada and Mexico.

“Ultimately that’s what you want,” he said. “You want a tariff free. You want no barriers. And you want no subsidies. Because you have some cases where countries are subsidizing industries and that’s not fair.”
Later Saturday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would with “absolute certainty” impose retaliatory measures on July 1 to answer Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum. He said the argument that Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum are a matter of national security are “kind of insulting.” Trudeau said Canadians are nice but added, “We will not be pushed around.”
    “I will always protect Canadian workers and Canadian interests,” Trudeau said.
    The remarks prompted Trump to accuse Trudeau of making “false statements” and to say the United States would not endorse the G7 communique.
    “Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!,” the President tweeted on Saturday.
    In a second tweet, Trump wrote, “PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that, ‘US Tariffs were kind of insulting’ and he ‘will not be pushed around.’ Very dishonest & weak. Our Tariffs are in response to his of 270% on dairy!”
    Trump had warned hours earlier that the United States would not allow the continued imposition of trade barriers by other nations.
    “Great meetings and relationships with the six Country Leaders especially since they know I cannot allow them to apply large Tariffs and strong barriers to … U.S.A. Trade,” Trump wrote in a pair of tweets. “They fully understand where I am coming from. After many decades, fair and reciprocal Trade will happen!”
    “The United States will not allow other countries to impose massive Tariffs and Trade Barriers on its farmers, workers and companies,” Trump continued. “While sending their product into our country tax free. We have put up with Trade Abuse for many decades — and that is long enough.”

    Allied responses

    Trump’s call for the elimination of trade barriers come amid fears of an all-out trade war after the US moved ahead with a 25% import tax on steel and a 10% on aluminum on most countries. The United States’ closest trading partners — the EU, Canada and Mexico — have vowed to impose retaliatory tariffs on scores of US products beginning in the coming weeks.
    Echoing Trudeau, British Prime Minister Theresa May said Saturday that the European Union also will impose countermeasures to the US tariffs.
    “The EU — of course, we operate as a member of the EU, as we currently are — the European Union will impose countermeasures to the United States,” May said. She added that the United Kingdom is a champion of free trade and would work to put in place free trade agreements with the United States and other countries once it leaves the European Union.
    “We want to continue a good trading relationship with the EU, but we also want to take advantage once we are outside it of being able to negotiate our own agreements with other countries around the world because I think that is to the benefit of the people living in the United Kingdom” May said.
    May characterized her relationship with Trump as “very good.”
    “We have a very good relationship with President Trump,” May said. “We work with President Trump. The United Kingdom has a very good relationship with the United States.”
    G7 leaders had intended to use the summit to confront Trump on the tariffs, which they have described as protectionist and a threat to the global economy.
    Trump said he discussed the idea of eliminating tariffs with his G7 counterparts.
    “I did suggest it … I guess they are going to go back to the drawing board and check it out,” Trump said. “The relationships are very good,” he added, mentioning his discussions with French and Canadian leaders specifically.
    On Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron appeared to indicate room for negotiation ahead of a delayed meeting with Trump, telling reporters “Sometimes we disagree.”
    Globally, tariffs are close to their lowest levels ever — averaging around 2.9% — according to the latest data from the World Bank. Tariffs have been falling for decades due to free trade agreements.
    Before departing the summit, Trump doubled-down on his assertions that the US has been subjected to unfair trade duties for many years. “It’s going to change. Tariffs will come way down. We’re like the piggy bank that everybody is robbing and that ends.”
    He added, “if they retaliate, they’re making a mistake. We have a tremendous trade imbalance. When we try to bring our piece up a little bit so it’s not so bad.”

    Pushback in Congress

    Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska said Trump’s comments on eliminating tariffs among G7 nations would be “tremendous news” if the President is serious about the issue, adding, “I would happily carry his bag to every single meeting of those negotiations.”
    But Sasse said Trump’s complaints that other countries have taken advantage of the United States are unfounded, adding that he recommended “less whining on the global stage.”
    “The simple fact is that more trade has been overwhelmingly beneficial to U.S. families and to net U.S. job creation for 75 straight years, and pretending America has been taken advantage of — that is, pretending that we’re losers — isn’t true.
    “The constant victim-talk doesn’t help anyone,” he continued. “It doesn’t help trade negotiations. And it doesn’t help U.S. citizens understand the disruption in our economy that is actually coming from more technology and more automation, not from free trade agreements — which have overwhelmingly benefited American families.”
    Earlier this week, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, vowed to press ahead with legislation that would require lawmakers to approve of trade actions by the President that are done on the grounds of national security, despite opposition from Trump.
    The President’s characterization of the United States’ relationships with allies as “a 10” when asked at the news conference about any tensions between his administration and other G7 nations also drew criticism from a senior European diplomat.
    “He must mean there are 10 things on which we totally disagree,” the diplomat said. “Or like the title of the movie ’10 Things I Hate About You.'”
    Trump has long criticized the United States’ goods deficit. Economists point out that the current US economy is much more driven by services like hospitals, universities, tech companies and banks. Manufacturing, an industry Trump focuses on, makes up about 10% of US economic output.
    Recent World Trade Organization data shows that America’s average tariff for imported goods is 2.4%. Canada’s average tariff for imported goods is 3.1%, and the EU’s average tariff for imported goods is 3%.

    Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/09/politics/trump-g7-tariffs-trade/index.html

    Judge sends Paul Manafort to jail, pending trial

    Washington (CNN)Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort will await his trial for foreign lobbying charges from jail.

    The order marked an end to almost eight months of attempts by Manafort to lighten his house arrest restrictions after he was charged and pleaded not guilty to foreign lobbying violations.
    “The harm in this case is harm to the administration of justice and harm to the integrity of the court’s system,” Berman Jackson told Manafort in court.
      The judge emphasized to Manafort how she could not make enough rulings to keep him from speaking improperly with witnesses, after he had used multiple text messaging apps and called a potential witness on an Italian cellphone.
      “This is not middle school. I can’t take his cellphone,” she said of Manafort. “I thought about this long and hard, Mr. Manafort. I have no appetite for this.”
      Manafort also entered a not guilty plea to two additional charges levied against him last week, of witness tampering and conspiracy to obstruct justice. In total, he faces seven criminal charges in DC federal court.
      Three US marshals led Manafort out of the packed courtroom into the prisoner holding area immediately after the judge’s ruling. He was not placed in handcuffs. Before he disappeared through the door, he turned toward his wife and supporters and gave a stilted wave.
      Minutes later, a marshal returned to give Manafort’s wife, Kathleen, still standing in the courtroom’s front row, his wallet, belt and the burgundy tie he wore Friday.
      Court marshals held Manafort in the bowels of the courthouse for several hours following the hearing as they considered how to keep him protected from other inmates behind bars. He arrived about 8 p.m. at the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia, 90 miles south of Washington.
      In a tweet, President Donald Trump said the decision to revoke Manafort’s bail was “tough,” although he referred to it as a “sentence.”
      “Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort, who has represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other top political people and campaigns. Didn’t know Manafort was the head of the Mob. What about Comey and Crooked Hillary and all of the others? Very unfair!”
      In her wind-up to her order, Berman Jackson also gave a brief nod to the bitter environment around the case:
      “This hearing is not about politics, is not about conduct of the office of the special counsel.”

      ‘Danger to the community’

      When Manafort was first arraigned and pleaded not guilty in October, a magistrate judge set a $10 million bail price and placed him under house arrest, confiscating his passports. Manafort then attempted to find assets of his own and through real estate and family members’ accounts. In December, the judge signed off on his plan — provided he could supply the correct documentation. It didn’t come through, according to the court filings.
      Prosecutors have argued all along that the jet-setting political consultant was a significant flight risk. As the process to negotiate his bail dragged on, prosecutors discovered possible mortgage fraud related to some of the properties he hoped to use as bail. That’s when they finalized additional federal criminal charges against him in Virginia.
      In the past month, Manafort finally came up with a plan to post some of his own and others’ properties for his bail. The prosecutors appeared to agree with the plan, according to court filings.
      Then, last week, Mueller’s team alleged they found evidence Manafort had tried to coach potential witnesses.
      On Friday, they told the judge Manafort was a “danger to the community” and that he had committed a crime while out on release: obstruction of justice.
      Prosecutor Greg Andres described the following scene to the court from February 24, a day after Manafort’s co-defendant, his longtime deputy Rick Gates, flipped:
      A man was driving with his wife through rural Italy when his phone rang. Manafort identified himself to the man, Alan Friedman, a public relations consultant he once worked with.
      “I need to give you a heads up about Hapsburg,” Manafort told him three times. “Have you seen any article about Hapsburg?”
      Manafort was referring to a project he and Friedman had worked on years ago to bring influential Europeans to the US to push pro-Ukrainian politics while the group posed as independent experts. The project, dubbed the Hapsburg group, was among Manafort’s efforts to skirt foreign lobbying laws, prosecutors allege.
      Friedman turned down the radio as Manafort spoke, Andres said, then hung up the phone a minute and a half into the call. Manafort tried several more times to reach him in the following days.
      Andres said prosecutors now know Manafort used multiple ways to communicate with former colleagues like Friedman and Konstantin Kilimnik, a Moscow-based associate who’s also charged in the alleged witness tampering: In addition to phone calls and half a dozen encrypted messaging apps, Manafort uses a system with email called “foldering,” where multiple people have access to an account and write messages to one another as drafts,but the emails are never sent.
      “This was a sustained campaign over a five-week period to use multiple numbers, applications and people,” Andres said in court about the witness tampering allegations.
      Manafort’s lawyer Richard Westling argued that Manafort had no way to know Friedman would be a witness in the case. Westling asked the judge to simply issue a more specific order for Manafort to follow while out on bail.
      “This will not happen again,” Westling said.
      But the witness tampering allegations, which also resulted in new criminal charges, were enough Friday for Manafort to lose his house arrest privileges.

        Trump on Manafort: I feel a little badly about it

      ‘Shellshocked’

      He faces another 18 criminal charges for financial fraud and false reporting allegations in Virginia federal court. That case is set to go to trial earlier than the DC case, with a late July start date.
      His DC trial is set to begin in September, meaning he could spend the next three or more months imprisoned.
      Manafort has maintained his innocence and vowed to fight the charges since he was indicted alongside Gates in late October. Gates has since changed his plea to guilty and agreed to help prosecutors, because of the significant cost of his legal fees and attention bearing down on him and his family. Another associate of Manafort’s, Kilimnik, was charged with witness tampering and has not yet appeared in court.
      Prosecutors haven’t tied Manafort, Gates and Kilimnik’s alleged wrongdoings to the actions of the Trump campaign, which is at the core of Mueller’s investigation. However, prosecutors have said in several previous court filings that they are looking into Manafort’s contacts with Russians and Ukrainians — including Kilimnik — and possible coordination he may have orchestrated with them while he oversaw the campaign.
      Manafort had spent his days since October stuck in his apartment under court order. He could leave only for legal meetings, medical needs and religious observances. The judge had allowed him to travel a few times for special exceptions, such as to his father-in-law’s funeral on Long Island and his grandson’s baptism in Virginia.
      He wore ankle bracelets that tracked his movements through GPS technology, one on each leg.
      Leading up to Friday’s hearing, Manafort was optimistic he would avoid jail, according to a source familiar with the situation, but he and his legal team expected Mueller’s team to be as aggressive as possible.
      His friends were “shellshocked” in the wake of the judge’s decision Friday, the source said.
      Manafort’s new confines create another hurdle in his trial preparations and will make it more difficult for him to confer with his counsel and prepare his defense.

        Manafort traveled under fake name

      CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to clarify whose baptism Manafort was permitted to attend. It was his grandson’s.

      Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/15/politics/judge-sends-paul-manafort-to-jail-pending-trial/index.html

      GOP congressman asks if rocks are causing sea levels to rise

      Washington (CNN)A member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology evinced skepticism about climate change during an exchange with a witness about rising sea levels.

      A study released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in March documented accelerating sea-level rise driven by climate change.
      E&E News reported on the comments of Brooks and others at the hearing, including California GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher who said he was “disturbed” that he heard people warning against questioning the link between human activity and climate change.
        On Wednesday, at a hearing titled “using technology to address climate change,” Brooks began by raising a broad question about rising ocean levels to the witness panel.
        Philip Duffy, president of Woods Hole Research Center, said in response to the question that “the last 100-year increase in sea-level rise, as I mentioned earlier, has clearly been attributed to human activities, greenhouse gas emissions.”
        Brooks interjected and rephrased his question again, asking if there “are other factors.”
        “What about erosion?” Brooks offered during the exchange. He added: “Every time you have that soil or rock, whatever it is, that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise because now you’ve got less space in those oceans because the bottom is moving up.”
        Duffy responded that he did not believe that explained sea-level rise.
        “I’m pretty sure that on human time scales those are minuscule effects,” Duffy said.
        Brooks then moved to ice levels and asserted that Antarctic ice is growing, to which Duffy responded that satellite records have documented “shrinkage of the Antarctic ice sheet and an acceleration of that shrinkage.”
        Brooks wrapped up his questioning by saying he had heard differently from NASA, and said there were “plenty of studies” showing an ice sheet increase in Antarctica.
        “I’ve got a NASA base in my district,” Brooks said. “And apparently, they’re telling you one thing and me a different thing.”
        A day after the hearing, the committee tweeted a link to an op-ed from The Wall Street Journal denying climate change caused sea-level rise.
        According to NASA, Antarctica’s ice sheets have lost mass since 2002.
        The agency’s site also said, “Sea level rise is caused primarily by two factors related to global warming: the added water from melting ice sheets and glaciers and the expansion of seawater as it warms.”
        Duffy, who worked on climate change policy in the Obama administration, told CNN on Thursday that while he had “never heard that particular line” on sea level rise before, he essentially had expected the tone of the hearing to feature climate change skepticism.
        “None of that is new,” Duffy said. “They’ve been doing that forever.”
        Duffy said he would have hoped a “productive” science committee would seek to formulate aggressive policy on climate change as well as expand the nation’s scientific capabilities.
        And as for the question of sea level rise, Duffy said, “It’s really caused by climate change.”

        Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/17/politics/mo-brooks-nasa-climate-change/index.html

        More Than 30 Trump Aides Lose Top-Secret Clearance, Sources Say

        More than 30 aides to President Donald Trump have been stripped of access to top secret intelligence, two people familiar with the move said.

        The officials have been notified that they will be downgraded to lower-level “secret” interim security clearances, said the two people. None of the officials has been asked to leave the administration and their portfolios on top secret matters will be distributed to other staff members, they said.

        Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, is among those officials whose security clearance has been downgraded as a result of the new policy on interim clearances set by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, said another person familiar with the material. The change means that Kushner lost access to some files, including those containing intelligence on foreign leaders and diplomats that can be used to gain an advantage in negotiations, according to a second person, who is familiar with the clearance process.

        All of the officials whose clearances were downgraded held the top secret designation on an interim basis. Kelly set a new policy that took effect last week that permits interim clearances only at the secret level and not permitting temporary clearances at higher levels.

        The revelations come as the White House weathers intense criticism over its handling of sensitive intelligence after former Staff Secretary Rob Porter was permitted to keep his clearance status for months even though the FBI said it had provided the White House a report including allegations of domestic violence from his two ex-wives. 

        Grassley Wants Answers

        Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley this week called for answers from the White House and the FBI about reports that dozens of top officials still lacked a full security clearance and that some them, including Kushner, had access to the highly classified President’s Daily Brief prepared by intelligence agencies.

        The crackdown on clearances also come amid the drama of a special counsel investigation into Russian election meddling and potential ties to Trump election advisers. Trump communications director Hope Hicks, who had been romantically linked to Porter and who testified Tuesday to a House panel in the Russia probe, on Wednesday announced her plans to resign in a statement released by the White House.

        In an earlier memo released Feb. 16, Kelly said that the administration must “do better” in its handling of security clearances. Kelly said he would discontinue all “Top Secret or SCI-level interim clearances” for people who have ongoing investigations stretching back to June 1, 2017, using an acronym for “Sensitive Compartmented Information.” While the new policy was set to take effect on Feb. 23, White House officials have declined to say who would be affected.

        In a statement last week, Kelly didn’t address whether Kushner’s security clearance would be revoked but said he had “full confidence” in his ability to continue his foreign policy work. Trump said at a news conference last week that “I will let General Kelly make that decision. I have no doubt he’ll make the right decision.”

        A spokesman for Kushner, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that no concerns have been raised to Kushner about his security clearance and that the White House’s new security clearance policy doesn’t affect Kushner’s ability to do his job. His assignments by Trump include leading efforts to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians, overhauling prison sentencing and technology innovations.

          Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-28/more-than-30-white-house-aides-said-to-lose-top-secret-clearance

          YouTube Bans Firearms Demo Videos, Entering the Gun Control Debate

          • Google’s new policy prohibits promotion of guns, bump stocks
          • At least one video gun blogger ditched YouTube for PornHub

          YouTube, a popular media site for firearms enthusiasts, this week quietly introduced tighter restrictions on videos involving weapons, becoming the latest battleground in the U.S. gun-control debate.

          YouTube will ban videos that promote or link to websites selling firearms and accessories, including bump stocks, which allow a semi-automatic rifle to fire faster. Additionally, YouTube said it will prohibit videos with instructions on how to assemble firearms. The video site, owned by Alphabet Inc.’s Google, has faced intense criticism for hosting videos about guns, bombs and other deadly weapons.

          For many gun-rights supporters, YouTube has been a haven. A current search on the site for “how to build a gun” yields 25 million results, though that includes items such as toys. At least one producer of gun videos saw its page suspended on Tuesday. Another channel opted to move its videos to an adult-content site, saying that will offer more freedom than YouTube.

          Read more: Reddit Wades Into the Gun Control Debate

          “We routinely make updates and adjustments to our enforcement guidelines across all of our policies,” a YouTube spokeswoman said in a statement. “While we’ve long prohibited the sale of firearms, we recently notified creators of updates we will be making around content promoting the sale or manufacture of firearms and their accessories.” 

          YouTube has placed greater restrictions on content several times in the past year, responding to a series of issues with inappropriate and offensive videos. Most of those changes involved pulling ads from categories of videos. Google is more reluctant to remove entire videos from YouTube, but has been willing to do so with terrorism-related content.

          The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun industry lobbying group, called YouTube’s new policy “worrisome.”

          “We suspect it will be interpreted to block much more content than the stated goal of firearms and certain accessory sales,” the foundation said in a statement. “We see the real potential for the blocking of educational content that serves instructional, skill-building and even safety purposes. Much like Facebook, YouTube now acts as a virtual public square. The exercise of what amounts to censorship, then, can legitimately be viewed as the stifling of commercial free speech.”

          The firearms decision comes days before Saturday’s March For Our Lives, a rally organized by survivors of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead.

          See also: QuickTake on the gun-control debate

          The new YouTube policies will be enforced starting in April, but at least two video bloggers have already been affected. Spike’s Tactical, a firearms company, said in a post on Facebook that it was suspended from YouTube due to “repeated or severe violations” of the video platform’s guidelines.

          “Well, since we’ve melted some snowflakes on YouTube and got banned, might as well set IG and FB on fire!,” Spike’s wrote on Facebook, where it has over 111,000 followers, referring to the social network and its Instagram app. A YouTube spokeswoman said the channel has been reinstated after it was mistakenly removed.

          InRange TV, another channel devoted to firearms, wrote on its Facebook page that it would begin uploading videos to PornHub, an adult content website.  

          Read more: Citigroup Restricts Some Gun Sales by Its Business Customers

          “YouTube’s newly released released vague and one-sided firearms policy makes it abundantly clear that YouTube cannot be counted upon to be a safe harbor for a wide variety of views and subject matter,” InRange TV wrote. “PornHub has a history of being a proactive voice in the online community, as well as operating a resilient and robust video streaming platform.” PornHub didn’t immediately return a request for comment on the matter. 

          Last month, gun control activists escalated the pressure on tech giants for giving a platform to the National Rifle Association. A flurry of businesses cut ties with the pro-gun group after the deadly Parkland school shooting. Companies with streaming services, such as Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc. and YouTube, declined to remove the NRA channel.

          Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-21/youtube-bans-firearm-sales-and-how-to-videos-prompting-backlash

          Russian Hackers Attacking U.S. Power Grid and Aviation, FBI Warns

          • U.S. officials warn of attacks, including on nuclear plants
          • Cyber-attacks underway since at least March 2016, U.S. says

          Russian hackers are conducting a broad assault on the U.S. electric grid, water processing plants, air transportation facilities and other targets in rolling attacks on some of the country’s most sensitive infrastructure, U.S. government officials said Thursday.

          The announcement was the first official confirmation that Russian hackers have taken aim at facilities on which hundreds of millions of Americans depend for basic services. Bloomberg News reported in July that Russian hackers had breached more than a dozen power plants in seven states, an aggressive campaign that has since expanded to dozens of states, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

          "Since at least March 2016, Russian government cyber actors" have targeted "government entities and multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors," including those of energy, nuclear, water and aviation, according to an alert issued Thursday by the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

          Critical manufacturing sectors and commercial facilities also have been targeted by the ongoing "multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors."

          Cyber-attacks are "literally happening hundreds of thousands of times a day," Energy Secretary Rick Perry told lawmakers during a hearing Thursday. "The warfare that goes on in the cyberspace is real, it’s serious, and we must lead the world."

          Separately Thursday, the U.S. sanctioned a St. Petersburg-based “troll farm,” two Russian intelligence services, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and other Russian citizens and businesses indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on charges of meddling with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

          A joint analysis by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security described the hackers as extremely sophisticated, in some cases first breaching suppliers and third-party vendors before hopping from those networks to their ultimate target. The government’s report did not say how successful the attacks were.

          Read More: Russia Is Said to Be Suspect in Hacks of U.S. Power Plants

          The Russian hackers "targeted small commercial facilities’ networks where they staged malware, conducted spear phishing, and gained remote access into energy sector networks," according to the Homeland Security alert.

          An industry-government partnership provided potential indicators of compromise for electric companies following Thursday’s announcement, said Scott Aaronson, vice president of security and preparedness at the utility trade group Edison Electric Institute. The federal government alerted grid operators to a threat targeting the energy and manufacturing sectors last summer, but the incident didn’t affect operations, he said.

          The hackers deliberately selected targets and methodically went after initial victims as a way to reach their ultimate prizes, including industrial control systems used by power plants and other infrastructure. Their tactics included sending spear-phishing emails and embedding malicious content on informational websites to obtain security credentials they could then leverage for more information and access.

          And once they obtained access, the attackers "conducted network reconnaissance," and moved within the systems to collect information on industrial control systems.

          The government’s alert on Russian cyber-attacks does not cover suspected meddling by the country in the 2016 election.

          An October report by researchers at Symantec Corp., cited by the U.S. government Thursday, linked the attacks to a group of hackers it had code-named Dragonfly, and said it found evidence critical infrastructure facilities in Turkey and Switzerland also had been breached.

          The Symantec researchers said an earlier wave of attacks by the same group starting in 2011 was used to gather intelligence on companies and their operational systems. The hackers then used that information for a more advanced wave of attacks targeting industrial control systems that, if disabled, leave millions without power or water.

          The disclosure comes amid mounting calls from lawmakers to step up protection of the nation’s electric grid. Senator Maria Cantwell, the top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, pushed for a cyberthreat assessment of the grid last year, to better defend the infrastructure against potential attacks.

          "I hope today’s belated response is the first step in a robust and aggressive strategy to protect our critical infrastructure," Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington state, said in an emailed statement.

          U.S. intelligence officials have long been concerned about the security of the country’s electrical grid. The recent attacks, striking almost simultaneously at multiple locations, are testing the government’s ability to coordinate an effective response among several private utilities, state and local officials, and industry regulators.

          Many of the targeted power plants are conventional, but the attacks included at least one nuclear power plant in Kansas, Bloomberg News reported in July. While the core of a nuclear generator is heavily protected, a sudden shutdown of the turbine can trigger safety systems. These safety devices are designed to disperse excess heat while the nuclear reaction is halted, but the safety systems themselves may be vulnerable to attack.

          The operating systems at nuclear plants also tend to be legacy controls built decades ago and don’t have digital control systems that can be exploited by hackers.

          Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-15/russian-hackers-attacking-u-s-power-grid-aviation-fbi-warns

          White House proposes path to citizenship for 1.8 million people

          Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump is proposing giving 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship in exchange for $25 billion for his long-promised wall and a host of other strict immigration reforms, according to a White House framework proposed Thursday.

          In what the White House framed as a “dramatic concession” and “compromise,” Trump would accept a path to citizenship not just for the roughly 700,000 undocumented immigrants were covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program when it was ended. But the proposal would also cover those undocumented immigrants who meet the DACA criteria but did not sign up and even more who would be newly eligible under the proposal’s timeframe requirements — giving legal status and a pathway to citizenship to about 1.8 million people.
          In return, the White House would like to see a $25 billion investment in a trust for border infrastructure and technology, as well as more funds for personnel, and an end to family migration beyond spouses and minor children. The diversity visa lottery would also be abolished, though the visas would be reallocated so that the backlog of people already waiting for family visas and high-skilled immigration green cards would be processed.
            In what may end up being the most contentious piece of the proposal, the White House is also looking to close “legal loopholes” that will allow it to deport more immigrants, specifically as it relates to undocumented immigrants from countries that don’t border the United States — which would likely include changes in immigration enforcement authority that would be virtually impossible for Democrats to swallow.
            The White House official sold the plan as a “compromise position” that it believes would get 60 votes in the Senate — a point White House officials underscored multiple times on Thursday — and then could be “sent over to the House for additional improvement and modification.”
            One senior White House official told conservative outside groups, surrogates and congressional officials in a call Thursday that the bill “should make Democrat support to get to 60 votes a given.”
            “This is legislation that really represents a bipartisan consensus point. It is extremely generous in terms of the DACA piece and then fulfills all four of the President’s priorities,” a senior White House official told reporters on Thursday. “This bill is right down the center in terms of public opinion.”
            Senior White House officials who briefed reporters Thursday on the framework also expressed a pointed rejection of the Durbin-Graham bill that the White House rejected in recent weeks.
            One official quipped that an agreement on immigration between Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican, is “like announcing the sun has risen and there’s fish in the ocean.”
            Another official also said that despite suggestions from Senate Democrats, the White House’s framework is “galaxies apart” from what Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer proposed to the President over the weekend.
            White House officials said Thursday they expect lawmakers on Capitol Hill to “digest” the proposal and formulate legislative text to bring to the floor in the Senate and called it “kind of the bottom line for the President.”
            But the officials signaled that while the framework should pass muster in the Senate, they did not expect it to be the basis for legislation in the House.
            Instead, one senior White House official said it is “probably likely” that the two chambers will pass different bills and “end up in conference.”
            The White House’s portrayal of the framework as a broad-based compromise is likely to face skepticism on Capitol Hill, where immigration reform has long been contentiously disputed. While the proposal’s pathway to citizenship for nearly 2 million undocumented immigrants will earn plaudits from many Democrats, the framework also includes several hardline immigration reforms that Democrats may find hard to swallow.
            Some conservatives are also likely to oppose the pathway to citizenship that Trump is endorsing.
            Those eligible will be able to become citizens in 10 to 12 years, Trump said on Wednesday, contingent on meeting work and education requirements the White House is leaving up to Congress to establish.
            “If they do a great job, I think it’s a nice thing to have the incentive of, after a period of years, being able to become a citizen,” Trump said Thursday.
            And the clock is ticking down for lawmakers to find a solution, with DACA protections expiring March 5.
            If a deal can’t be reached by then, a senior White House official made clear Thursday that those immigrants whose protections expire could be subject to deportation.
            “If it doesn’t work then they’ll be illegal immigrants and if they fall into the hands of ICE,” the official said. “They won’t be targeted, but if they fall into the hands of ICE … well they’ll be put into the system … and ultimately could lead to their deportation.”

            Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/25/politics/white-house-immigration-framework/index.html

            Trump tells Pentagon to plan a military parade

            Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump has asked for a military parade and the Pentagon is reviewing potential dates, Pentagon spokesman Charlie Summers said Tuesday.

            In response to the news, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that Trump had asked the Defense Department to “explore” the idea.
            “President Trump is incredibly supportive of America’s great servicemembers who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe. He has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation,” Sanders said.
              The Washington Post first reported Trump told top Pentagon brass last month he wants a military parade.

                Trump and Macron at Bastille Day

              “The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” a military official told the paper. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military.”
              Trump’s meeting with senior military leaders last month included Vice President Mike Pence, White House chief of staff John Kelly, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford.
              Trump was French President Emmanuel Macron’s guest on Bastille Day last year, and later called the French military parade he witnessed “one of the greatest parades” he had ever seen.
              He said last September in a conversation with Macron that when he came back from France he wanted a military parade on the Fourth of July in Washington.
              Trump’s call for a military parade might be hitting a few snags. The Post said shipping tanks and military hardware into Washington could cost millions of dollars, and that military officials said they were unsure how to pay for it.
              After the Gulf War in 1991, the US put on a victory celebration replete with servicemembers and military gear.
              The news of Trump’s call for a military parade in the US comes as North Korea plans to show off dozens of long-range missiles during a February 8 parade, sources with deep knowledge of North Korea’s intentions told CNN last week.
              The parade is expected to include dozens of intercontinental-range Hwasong-15 missiles, which the North Koreans test-fired for the first time in late November, the sources said.
              The display of “hundreds” of missiles and rockets would be an attempt “to scare the hell out of the Americans,” one of the sources said.

              Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2018/02/06/politics/military-parade-trump/index.html

              Air Force One’s new refrigerators cost $24 million

              Washington (CNN)Air Force One is primed to receive an upgrade that will include new refrigerators expected to cost American taxpayers nearly $24 million.

              “The current rear lower lobe cold chiller units being replaced are the original commercial equipment delivered with the aircraft in 1990. The units were based on the technology at the time and designed for short-term food storage,” Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek told CNN.
              “Although serviced on a regular basis, reliability has decreased with failures increasing, especially in hot/humid environments. The units are unable to effectively support mission requirements for food storage,” she said.
                Defense One highlighted the cost of the chillers earlier this week.
                Due to the fact that Air Force One is a one-of-a-kind aircraft, many of its components require unique testing by the Federal Aviation Administration and the cost of the testing is included in the price of the component, in this case refrigerators. The $24 million contract will cover the costs of engineering support services for the new chillers — including prototype design, manufacturing and installation, according to the DOD contract.
                “The units and associated aircraft structural modifications are being specially designed to provide nearly 70 cubic feet of temperature-controlled (refrigeration/freezer) storage to support on-board personnel for an extended period of time, without having to restock while abroad,” Stefanek told CNN.
                “The engineering required to design, manufacture, conduct environmental testing and obtain Federal Aviation Administration certification are included in the cost,” she said.
                Former senior adviser to President Barack Obama Eric Schultz mocked the high price tag in a tweet on Friday, saying, “we would have been impeached.”
                The Boeing fridge contract isn’t the first time an administration has come under fire for the high cost of military aircraft upgrades — the Obama administration was pressured to scuttle plans to build a new fleet of presidential helicopters in 2009 after reports emerged that they cost at least $11 billion.
                When he was running for president, Trump boasted he would swap out Air Force One with his private jet and has been fiercely critical of the cost of the new Air Force One program in the past, stating “costs are out of control” and “cancel order!” in a December 2016 tweet.
                But since taking office, Trump — like his predecessors — has traveled aboard the Boeing-made VC-25 aircraft, the latest version of which entered service in 1990.
                The Air Force announced last year that it had finalized a deal to purchase two already-built aircraft from Boeing to serve as the next generation of Air Force One, flying future presidents around the world for decades to come. That contract is separate from the arrangement between Boeing and the Air Force for upkeep of the current Air Force One fleet.

                Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/26/politics/air-force-one-refrigerator-contract-boeing/index.html

                Trump’s Tariffs on Solar Mark Biggest Blow to Renewables Yet

                President Donald Trump dealt his biggest blow to the renewable energy industry yet.

                On Monday, Trump approved duties of as much as 30 percent on solar equipment made outside the U.S., a move that threatens to handicap a $28 billion industry that relies on parts made abroad for 80 percent of its supply. 

                The tariffs are the latest action by Trump to undermine the economics of renewables. The administration already decided to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, sought to roll back Obama-era regulations on power plant-emissions and signed sweeping tax reforms that constrained financing for solar and wind. The import taxes are the most targeted strike on the industry yet and may have larger consequences for the energy world.

                “We are inclined to view it as posing greater trade risk for all types of energy, particularly if other nations establish new trade barriers against U.S. products,” Washington-based research firm ClearView Energy Partners LLC said Monday.

                Solar Surges

                U.S. panel maker First Solar Inc. jumped as much as 9 percent to $75.20 in after-hours trading in New York. The Tempe, Arizona-based manufacturer stands to gain as costs for competing, foreign panels rise.

                Just the threat of tariffs shook solar developers in recent months, with some hoarding panels and others stalling projects in anticipation of higher costs. The Solar Energy Industries Association projected 23,000 job losses this year in a sector that employed 260,000.

                Trump approved four years of tariffs that start at 30 percent in the first year and gradually drop to 15 percent. The first 2.5 gigawatts of imported solar cells are exempt for each year.

                The duties are lower than the 35 percent rate the U.S. International Trade Commission recommended in October after finding that imported panels were harming American manufacturers. The idea behind the tariffs is to raise the costs of cheap imports, particularly from Asia, and level the playing field for those who manufacture the parts domestically.

                “This is not a goodbye for renewable energy in the U.S.,” Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “I don’t believe this decision will reverse the solar expansion in the U.S. The global solar industry will adjust. The penetration of solar in the U.S. will continue.”

                First Solar is the largest of a handful of panel makers left in the U.S. after most of the industry migrated to China in the past decade. That means the major impact of the duties will be on panel installers, which get most of their supplies from Chinese companies.

                Read More: Why Trump Is Taxing Solar Panels Imported by U.S.: QuickTake Q&A

                Despite higher anticipated costs, American solar installers including Vivint Solar Inc. and Sunrun Inc. jumped in after-hours trading. “A 30 percent tariff in Year One is bad,” said Gordon Johnson, a New York-based analyst at the Vertical Group, but “it’s less than what the consensus was.”

                Jigar Shah, co-founder of investor Generate Capital Inc. and an outspoken advocate for the solar industry, went as far as to describe the decision as “good news.” The tariffs are “exactly what the solar industry asked for behind closed doors” to prevent a negative impact on companies, he said.

                Not Deterred

                The duties won’t be entirely devastating for the U.S. solar industry, said Hugh Bromley, a New York-based analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. He estimated they’ll increase costs for large solar farms by less than 10 percent and for residential systems by about 3 percent.

                The decision will “destruct some demand for new projects in the next two years,” Bromley said. “But they will likely prove insufficient in magnitude and duration to attract many new factories.”

                For Trump, the tariffs represent a step toward making good on a campaign promise to get tough on the country that produces the most panels — China. Trump’s trade issues took a backseat in 2017 while the White House focused on tax reform, but it’s now coming back into the fore: The solar dispute is among several potential trade decisions that also involve washing machines, consumer electronics and steel.

                Solar Threatened

                Tariffs may curb U.S. solar investments that have already fallen in recent years

                Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

                The decision comes almost nine months after Suniva Inc., a bankrupt U.S. module manufacturer with a Chinese majority owner, sought import duties on solar cells and panels. It asserted that it had suffered “serious injury” from a flood of cheap panels produced in Asia. A month later, the U.S. unit of German manufacturer SolarWorld AG signed on as a co-petitioner, adding heft to Suniva’s cause.

                Suniva had sought import duties of 32 cents a watt for solar panels produced outside the U.S. and a floor price of 74 cents a watt. Trump’s tariffs translate to a charge of about 10 cents a watt, according to Bromley.

                Read More: U.S. Solar Has a $1.5 Billion, Long-Shot Plan to End a Trade War

                Shunfeng International Clean Energy Ltd., Suniva’s parent, was up 3.9 percent in Hong Kong after jumping as much as 5.2 percent earlier.

                While Trump has broad authority on the size, scope and duration of duties, the dispute may shift to a different venue. China and neighbors including South Korea may opt to challenge the decision at the World Trade Organization — which has rebuffed prior U.S.-imposed tariffs.

                Here’s what people are saying about the tariffs:

                • Suniva thanked Trump for “holding China and its proxies accountable” and said it looked forward to global settlement negotiations. Trump said in his statement that the U.S. Trade Representative will discuss resolving a separate trade dispute that resulted in duties imposed on Chinese solar products and U.S. polysilicon.
                • SolarWorld said it “appreciates the hard work of” Trump and is “hopeful” the tariffs will be enough to rebuild solar manufacturing in the U.S.
                • Sunrun said that while the decision lifts “a cloud of uncertainty,” it runs counter to “consumers, bipartisan elected officials, many military personnel, and the 99 percent of American solar workers whom this tariff will harm in the coming years.” It called for the administration to clarify which countries won’t be subject to the tariffs. (The U.S. Trade Representative said Mexico and Canada will be subject to the duties, despite previous reports that they may be spared.)
                • Rooftop solar installer Sunnova Energy Corp. said the tariffs will not deter the industry. Vivint said it was “disappointed” but would continue to “provide consumers with a better way to create energy.”
                • China’s JinkoSolar Holding Co. said the tariffs were “better than expected” and that it wouldn’t eliminate the possibility of building a plant in the U.S. Taiwan’s Neo Solar Power Corp. similarly said it would study the feasibility of establishing assembly lines in the U.S.
                • South Korea’s Hanwha Q Cells Co. plans to diversify sales to avoid the U.S. tariffs and look for other markets
                • Regardless of the tariffs, solar installer Tesla Inc. said it’s “committed to expanding its domestic manufacturing,” citing a “gigafactory” it opened in Buffalo, New York.
                • Bill Waren, senior trade analyst at Friends of the Earth, called the decision “recklessly irresponsible and a thinly veiled attack on clean energy.”
                • ClearView Energy Partners LLC estimated a roughly 6 percent increase in the costs of commercial solar projects and a 4 percent rise in residential rooftop solar expenses. Large, utility-scale projects may bear the brunt, with a 10 percent increase.
                • The Solar Energy Industries Association warned the tariffs will delay or kill billions of dollars of solar investments.

                  Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-22/trump-taxes-solar-imports-in-biggest-blow-to-clean-energy-yet