Monthly Archives: November 2018

SEOUL (Reuters) – A U.S. think tank said on Monday it had identified at least 13 of an estimated 20 undeclared missile operating bases inside North Korea, underscoring the challenge for American negotiators hoping to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

In reports released by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), researchers said maintenance and minor infrastructure improvements had been observed at some of the sites despite the negotiations.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to work toward denuclearization at their landmark June summit in Singapore but the agreement was short on specifics and negotiations have made little headway.

Trump said on Twitter shortly after that summit “there is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea”.

North Korea declared its nuclear force “complete” and halted missile and nuclear bomb testing earlier this year but U.S. and South Korean negotiators have yet to elicit from Pyongyang a concrete declaration of the size or scope of the weapons programs, or a promise to stop deploying its existing arsenal.

North Korea has said it closed its Punggye-ri nuclear testing site and the Sohae missile engine test facility. It also raised the possibility of shutting more sites and allowing international inspections if Washington took “corresponding measures”, of which there has so far been no sign.

Asked whether those hidden sites went against the spirit of the summit and whether North Korea must give them up, a State Department official said Trump had made clear that “should Chairman Kim follow through on his commitments – including complete denuclearization and the elimination of ballistic missile programs – a much brighter future lies ahead for North Korea and its people”.

An official with South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters that Seoul is “familiar” with the sites identified in the report but declined to confirm whether intelligence has indicated any recent changes at the bases.

“The areas are places that our military is surveilling under coordination with the United States,” the official said.

North Korea called off a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in New York last week. State media said on Monday the resumption of some small-scale military drills by South Korea and the United States violated a recent agreement aimed at lowering tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The sites identified in the CSIS report are scattered in remote, mountainous areas across North Korea and could be used to house ballistic missiles of various ranges, the largest of which is believed to be capable of striking anywhere in the United States.

“Missile operating bases are not launch facilities,” the report said. “While missiles could be launched from within them in an emergency, Korean People’s Army operational procedures call for missile launchers to disperse from the bases to pre-surveyed or semi-prepared launch sites for operations.”

None of the missile bases has been acknowledged by North Korea and analysts say an accurate disclosure of nuclear weapons and missile capabilities would be an important part of any denuclearization deal.

Sakkanmol, the site closest to the border with South Korea and its capital, Seoul, appears to be “active and being reasonably well maintained”, the report found.

“North Korea’s decommissioning of the Sohae satellite launch facility, while gaining much media attention, obscures the military threat to U.S. forces and South Korea from this and other undeclared ballistic missile bases,” it said.

TAMPA, Fla./WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday urged Florida election officials to end a recount and declare his fellow Republicans the winners of disputed races in last week’s elections, while Democrats picked up a U.S. Senate seat in Arizona.

U.S. Representative Kyrsten Sinema declared victory and Republican opponent Martha McSally conceded after multiple media outlets called the closely contested Arizona race for the Democrat. Sinema will succeed Republican Senator Jeff Flake, a frequent Trump critic, who did not seek-election.

The results will not affect Republican control of the 100-member Senate. Republicans have won at least 51 seats and Democrats 47 in the elections, with results in Florida and Mississippi still outstanding.

(Reuters) – U.S. stock futures pointed to strong opening gains for Wall Street on Wednesday after the midterm elections handed Democrats the House of Representatives and saw Republicans reinforce their control of the Senate in a widely expected outcome.

After an initial muted market reaction globally, futures for the three major Wall Street indexes powered higher along with European stocks, while the dollar dropped on lowered chances of further U.S. fiscal stimulus.

A Democrat-controlled House will hamper Trump’s pro-business agenda and could lead to uncertainty about his administration, but few worry about a reversal in already-enforced corporate tax cuts and deregulation measures that have played a large hand in the U.S. market’s rally since the 2016 election.

The results for the Republicans were no worse than feared and pointed to a political gridlock that was largely expected by investors, leaving them free to buy back into a market that had its worst month in seven years in October.

“Given what futures are pointing to right now, I think it’s probably a sign that on balance Republicans have marginally outperformed,” said Geoffrey Yu, head of U.K. Chief Investment Office at UBS Global Wealth Management.

“The big question from here is do we add risk. Given how weak markets were in October, there is a slightly stronger case for us to outperform in the short-term.”

At 6:54 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 161 points, or 0.63 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were up 21 points, or 0.76 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 73.5 points, or 1.05 percent.

In a sign of appetite for risk, shares of high-growth technology and internet stocks, including Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc, rose more than 1 percent in premarket trading.

Following a steep selloff in October, the S&P 500 remains down more than 5 percent from its record high, with many investors worried the market could fall further as inflation gathers steam and the Federal Reserve raises interest rates.

The Fed starts its two-day monetary policy meeting later on Wednesday, but is expected to raise rates next only when it meets in December.

Some investors were hopeful that Republicans and Democrats could agree on spending to improve infrastructure, which could boost many companies’ profits and drive more economic expansion.

“With a better balance of power, even with a little bit of continued malaise in equity markets, a stable infrastructure plan can be a good way of invigorating the domestic economy,” Jim Lydotes, manager of the BNY Mellon Global Infrastructure Income Fund, wrote in a client note.

Investors are also focused on healthcare stocks, one of the best performing sectors this year, with the election results seen as reducing the chances of legislative action to cut medical costs.

Colorado voters rejected a measure calling for greater distances between drilling projects and public spaces, which spurred shares of companies operating in the state.

Anadarko Petroleum Corp surged 9.4 percent, while Noble Energy Inc jumped 7.3 percent, making them the top two gainers among S&P companies trading premarket.

    U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi celebrates the Democrats winning a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (L), her grandson Paul (3rd R), U.S. Rep. James Clyburn (2nd R) and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairman Ben Ray Lujan (R) during a Democratic midterm election night party in Washington, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Donald Trump faced greater restraints on his presidency after Democrats won control of the U.S. House of Representatives and pledged to hold the Republican accountable after a tumultuous two years in the White House.

    Trump and his fellow Republicans expanded their control of the U.S. Senate in Tuesday’s midterm elections, following a divisive campaign marked by fierce clashes over race and immigration.

    But they lost their majority in the House, a setback for Trump after a campaign that became a referendum on his leadership.

    With some races still undecided, Democrats were headed for a gain of more than 30 seats, beyond the 23 they needed to claim their first majority in the 435-member House in eight years.

    Seizing the Senate had never looked a likely prospect for the Democrats, and in the event they fell short of a tidal wave of voter support that would have given them control of both chambers of Congress.

    Winning a Senate majority would have allowed Democrats to apply the brakes even more firmly on Trump’s policy agenda and given them the ability to block any future Supreme Court nominees.

    However, the Democrats will now head House committees that can investigate the president’s tax returns, possible business conflicts of interest and possible links between his 2016 election campaign and Russia.

    The Democrats could also force Trump to scale back his legislative ambitions, possibly dooming his promises to fund a border wall with Mexico, pass a second major tax-cut package, or carry out his hardline policies on trade.

    “Today is more than about Democrats and Republicans, it’s about restoring the Constitution’s checks and balances to the Trump administration,” Nancy Pelosi, leader of the House Democrats, told supporters at victory party.

    Despite the Republican loss of the House, Trump wrote on Twitter, “Tremendous success tonight.”

    Early on Wednesday, he added: “Received so many Congratulations from so many on our Big Victory last night, including from foreign nations (friends) that were waiting me out, and hoping, on Trade Deals. Now we can all get back to work and get things done!”

    It was not clear what Trump meant by his reference to trade deals. In pressing for what he views as better trade terms for America, he has imposed import tariffs and pushed Canada and Mexico into agreeing an overhaul of the NAFTA trade accord.

    Trump, 72, had hardened his rhetoric in recent weeks on issues that appealed to his conservative core supporters. He threw himself into the campaign, issuing warnings about a caravan of Latin American migrants headed to the border with Mexico and condemnations of liberal American “mobs” he says oppose him.

    The party with the presidency often loses House seats in midterm elections. Former President Barack Obama’s Democrats suffered what he called a “shellacking” in congressional elections in 2010.

    GRIDLOCK?

    With divided leadership in Congress and a president who has taken an expansive view of executive power, Washington could be in store for even deeper political polarization and legislative gridlock.

    Financial markets often favor Washington gridlock because it preserves the status quo and reduces uncertainty, even though many in the market this time around had been hoping for a continuation of the Republican agenda.

    Wall Street was set for a modestly firmer open on Wednesday and global stocks rose after the election results. The fact that House gains for Democrats may rule out further tax cuts sent the dollar and Treasury yields sharply lower.

    “With the Democrats taking over the House we will now have to see what gridlock in Congress means for policy. As for the market impact, a split Congress has historically been bullish for equities and we expect to see the same pattern again,” said Torsten Slok, Chief International Economist of Deutsche Bank.

    Losing the House will test Trump’s ability to compromise, something he has shown little interest in over the last two years with Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress.

    There may be some room to work with Democrats on issues with bipartisan support such as an infrastructure improvement package or protections against prescription drug price increases.

    “We will have a responsibility to find our common ground where we can, stand our ground where we can’t,” said Pelosi, who has been one of the most frequent targets for Trump’s scathing attacks on his critics and political opponents.

    Foreign policy has been an area that Trump has approached in a very personal way, sometimes antagonizing allies such as Canada while making what critics see as unduly warm overtures to traditional rivals or foes.

    But House Democrats are expected to try to harden U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia, Russia and North Korea, and maintain the status quo on areas like China and Iran. nL2N1X21OE]

    The Kremlin said on Wednesday it saw no prospects for an improvement in relations following the elections.

    “We can say with a large amount of confidence that of course no bright prospects for normalizing Russian-American relations can be seen on the horizon,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

    Trump has sought better ties with Russia but the two countries are at odds over the civil war in Syria, a nuclear arms treaty and the U.S. allegations of election meddling.

    In Germany, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Wednesday it would be wrong to expect policy change from Trump.

    DEMOCRATIC PROBES

    Every seat in the House was up for grabs on Tuesday. The Republicans had an advantage in Senate races because elections were held for only 35 seats in the 100-member chamber and many of them were in states that often lean Republican.

    Republicans built on their slim Senate majority by several seats and ousted four incumbent Democrats: Bill Nelson in Florida, Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota and Claire McCaskill in Missouri.

    Those gains are sure to bolster Republicans’ efforts to get conservative federal judges through confirmation proceedings during a “lame duck” session that starts next week, as well as from January when the new Congress convenes.

    In the 36 gubernatorial contests, Democrats won governorships in states that supported Trump in 2016 but lost high-profile races in Florida and Ohio.

    Democrats could make life difficult for Trump by launching another congressional investigation into allegations of Russian interference on his behalf in the 2016 election. A federal probe by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russia’s role in that election is ongoing.

    Moscow denies meddling and Trump denies any collusion.

    A House majority would be enough to impeach Trump if evidence surfaced of collusion by his campaign, or of obstruction by the president of the federal investigation. But Congress could not remove him from office without a conviction by a two-thirds majority in the Republican-controlled Senate, an unlikely scenario.

    Most Democratic candidates in tight races stayed away from harsh criticism of Trump during the midterm campaign’s final stretch, focusing instead on bread-and-butter issues like maintaining insurance protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions, and safeguarding the Social Security retirement and Medicare healthcare programs for senior citizens.

    WOMEN, YOUNG, HISPANIC VOTERS FUEL GAINS

    The Democratic gains were fueled by women, young and Hispanic voters, a Reuters/Ipsos Election Day poll found. Fifty-five percent of women said they backed a Democrat for the House this year, compared to 49 percent in the 2014 midterm congressional election.

    A record number of women ran for office this election, many of them Democrats. The party picked up seats across the map but some of the campaign’s biggest Democratic stars lost.

    Liberal Beto O’Rourke’s underdog Senate campaign fell short in conservative Texas against Republican Ted Cruz. Andrew Gillum lost to Republican Ron DeSantis in his quest to become Florida’s first black governor.

    The gubernatorial race in Georgia, where Democrat Stacey Abrams was seeking to become the first black woman to be elected governor of a U.S. state, remained too close to call early on Wednesday.

      Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins was poised to become the majority leader, making her the first woman to lead either legislative chamber in New York and the first black woman to lead the State Senate

      Democrats seized control of the New York State Senate for just the third time in 50 years on Tuesday, a victory that could fundamentally alter the state’s economic and political fabric next year and beyond.

      The Senate had been the Republican Party’s last foothold of power in an increasingly blue state. But after a closely watched, expensive battle, Democrats won eight Republican-held seats, giving their party decisive command of Albany’s triumvirate of power and positioning them to unleash a cascade of long-stymied progressive legislation.

      Democrats had needed to flip only one seat to erase the Republicans’ razor-thin majority. They blew past that number, unseating five incumbents and winning three open seats.

      “Thank you for sending us our biggest majority ever,” Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the leader of the Senate Democrats, told supporters on Long Island.

      Ms. Stewart-Cousins is expected to become the Senate majority leader, making her the first woman to lead either legislative chamber and the first black woman to lead the Senate.

      “You keep making history, and you’ve made history for us,” she said.

      Senator John J. Flanagan of Long Island, the leader of the Senate Republicans, called the outcome “disappointing” but promised to preserve Republicans’ voice in Albany.

      “This election is over, but our mission is not,” he said in a statement.

      The Democrats had campaigned on a decidedly Washington-focused message, latching on to the language of a national “blue wave” and promising to strike back at the Trump administration.

        Todo indica que el presunto exlíder del cartel de Sinaloa no se la está pasando tan mal en el inicio del juicio federal en su contra por 11 cargos de narcotráfico y lavado de dinero

        Por:EFE

        ¿De qué se reía Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera? Esa es la pregunta que nadie ha podido contestar en medio del proceso de selección de jurado del juicio en su contra que inició este lunes en la Corte Federal del Distrito Este de Nueva York.

        Como parte del proceso de entrevistas que continúa este martes y en el que se seleccionarán 18 panelistas, 12 permanentes y 6 suplentes, el acusado que enfrenta 11 cargos relacionados con narcotráfico estuvo presente en corte.

        El Chapo, que lucía traje oscuro, camisa blanca abierta de cuello ancho, cinturón y zapatos marrones, siguió la audiencia con ayuda de traductores. Sus abogados le suministraron un bloc para que tomara notas.

        Pero lo que más llamó la atención de los presentes fue el intercambio verbal con uno de sus abogados, Eduardo Balarezo, con quien en un momento compartió una carcajada.

        Balarezo es el único de los abogados que lo representa que habla español.

        Ayer, 17 potenciales jurados fueron descartados del proceso tras confesar tener miedo de que personas ligadas a Guzmán Loera tomen represalias contra ellos o sus familias. También fueron retirados del proceso por razones médicas o por indicar que podrían experimentar problemas financieros si faltan muchos días al trabajo.

        Se espera que el juicio contra el Chapo dure al menos cuatro meses.

        Cualquier gesto o expresión del presunto exlíder del cartel de Sinaloa es motivo de reseña de los medios. No debe sorprender la fascinación considerando que el mexicano lleva más de un año y medio en confinamiento solitario en el Centro Correccional Metropolitano de Manhattan.

        En septiembre, el juez Brian Cohan tuvo que llamarle la atencion a Guzmán Loera, luego de que supuestamente por quedarse embelesado mirando a su esposa Emma Coronel en sala no prestara atención a la audiencia.

         

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