AP News in Brief 08-02-19

Trump says he’ll put 10% tariffs on remaining China imports

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump intensified pressure Thursday on China to reach a trade deal by saying he will impose 10% tariffs Sept. 1 on the remaining $300 billion in Chinese imports he hasn’t already taxed. The move immediately sent stock prices sinking.

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The president has already imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese products, and Beijing has retaliated by taxing $110 billion in U.S. goods.

U.S. consumers will likely feel the pain if Trump proceeds with the new tariffs. Trump’s earlier tariffs had been designed to minimize the impact on ordinary Americans by focusing on industrial goods. But the new tariffs will hit a vast range of consumer products from cellphones to silk scarves.

The president’s announcement via Twitter came as a surprise, in part because the White House on Wednesday had said Beijing confirmed that it planned to increase its purchases of American farm products. That word came just as U.S. and Chinese negotiators were ending a 12th round of trade talks in Shanghai, which the White House called “constructive.”

Though the negotiations concluded without any sign of a deal, they are scheduled to resume next month in Washington.

Japan downgrading South Korea trade status, raising tensions

TOKYO — Japan’s Cabinet on Friday approved the removal of South Korea from a “whitelist” of countries with preferential trade status, a move sure to fuel antagonism already at a boiling point over recent export controls and the issue of compensation for wartime Korean laborers.

The decision expanding controls over exports of sensitive materials takes effect on Aug. 28. It follows an earlier requirement that Japanese companies’ exports to South Korea be approved on a case-by-case basis for three materials used in semiconductors, smartphones and other high-tech devices — South Korea’s key exports.

Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko said the decision was needed to “appropriately carry out export controls for national security purposes” and was based on South Korea’s “insufficient” export controls.

In addition to escalating tensions between the Asian neighbors, the move will ripple across the high-tech sector, further affecting supply chains already rattled by U.S.-China trade tensions.

The loss of preferential trade status will apply to dozens more products on a list of items that potentially could be converted to weapons. That’s in addition to more than 200 other items requiring individual inspection for exports to all countries. Ending South Korea’s “white country” status would also mean Japan could limit exports of any product on national security grounds.

From wire sources

North Korea fires weapons again in possible pressure tactic

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired what appeared to short-range ballistic missiles twice Friday into the sea off its eastern coast in its third round of weapons tests in just over a week, South Korea’s military and presidential office said.

The increased testing activity is seen as brinkmanship aimed at increasing pressure on Seoul and Washington over stalled nuclear negotiations. North Korea also has expressed frustration at planned U.S.-South Korea military exercises, and experts say its weapons displays could intensify in coming months if progress on the nuclear negotiations isn’t made.

By test-firing weapons that directly threaten South Korea but not the U.S. mainland or its Pacific territories, North Korea may also be trying to dial up pressure on Seoul and test how far Washington will tolerate its bellicosity without actually causing the nuclear negotiations to collapse.

Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the launches were conducted at 2:59 a.m. and 3:23 a.m. from an eastern coastal area and said the projectiles flew 220 kilometers (137 miles) on an apogee of 25 kilometers (15 miles) and at a max speed of Mach 6.9.

South Korea’s presidential office, which held an emergency meeting presided over by chief national security adviser Chung Eui-yong to discuss the launches, said the South Korean and U.S. militaries shared an assessment that the projectiles were likely newly developed short-range ballistic missiles the North has been testing in recent weeks. However, the office said further analysis was needed because the projectiles showed similar flight characteristics with the weapons that the North test fired on Wednesday and described as a new rocket artillery system.

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Boris Johnson’s party suffers defeat in UK special election

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s governing Conservative Party lost a special election early Friday, leaving it with a one-vote working majority in Parliament as Brexit looms.

In the Conservatives’ first electoral test since Johnson became prime minister nine days ago, the party was defeated for the seat of Brecon and Radnorshire in Wales by Jane Dodds of the opposition Liberal Democrats. Dodds won 43% of the vote, while Conservative Chris Davies, who was fighting to retain the seat after being convicted and fined for expenses fraud, got 39%.

The result makes it harder for Johnson’s government to pass laws and win votes in Parliament, with Brexit scheduled to happen in less than three months.

Johnson says Britain will leave the European Union on Oct. 31, with or without a divorce deal. But Parliament voted in the past against the country leaving the EU without an agreement on the terms, and is likely to try again in the fall to thwart Johnson’s plans.

In her victory speech, Dodds urged the prime minister to “stop playing with the future of our communities and rule out a no-deal Brexit now.’”

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Hard-won budget, debt deal clears Senate, advances to Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — A hard-won budget and debt deal easily cleared the Senate on Thursday, powered by President Donald Trump’s endorsement and a bipartisan drive to cement recent spending increases for the Pentagon and domestic agencies.

The legislation passed by a 67-28 vote as Trump and his GOP allies relied on lots of Democratic votes to propel it over the finish line.

Passage marked a drama-free solution to a worrisome set of looming Washington deadlines as both allies and adversaries of the president set aside ideology in exchange for relative fiscal peace and stability. The measure, which Trump has promised to sign, would permit the government to resume borrowing to pay all its bills and would set an overall $1.37 trillion limit on agency budgets approved by Congress annually.

It does nothing to stem the government’s spiraling debt and the return of $1 trillion-plus deficits but it also takes away the prospect of a government shutdown in October or the threat of deep automatic spending cuts .

The administration and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., played strong hands in the talks that sealed the agreement last week, producing a pragmatic measure that had much for lawmakers to dislike.

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Puerto Ricans have no idea who will be new governor Friday

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Less than 24 hours before Gov. Ricardo Rosselló was expected to leave office, Puerto Ricans had no idea who would replace him as political chaos threatened to paralyze the island with a constitutional crisis.

Rosselló has promised to step down at 5 p.m. Friday in response to huge street protests by Puerto Ricans outraged at corruption, mismanagement and an obscenity-laced chat that was leaked in which the governor and 11 male allies made fun of women, gay people and victims of Hurricane Maria.

“It’s frustrating. We’re in limbo,” said Jose Ramos, a taxi driver. “The island doesn’t have a path forward.”

As one of his last acts, Rosselló put forward veteran politician and lawyer Pedro Pierluisi to fill the vacant secretary of state post, next in line for the governorship under the U.S. territory’s constitution.

Pierluisi is a former representative to the U.S. Congress seen by most ordinary Puerto Ricans as a conciliatory, relatively uncontroversial figure, unlikely to be met by continued street demonstrations.

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Robert F. Kennedy’s granddaughter, Saoirse Hill, dies at 22

HYANNIS PORT, Mass. (AP) — Robert F. Kennedy’s granddaughter, Saoirse Kennedy Hill, has died, the family announced Thursday night.

The Kennedy family’s statement followed reports of a death at the storied Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. The statement was issued by Brian Wright O’Connor, a spokesman for Saoirse Hill’s uncle, former congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II.

Hill was the daughter of Robert and Ethel Kennedy’s fifth child, Courtney, and Paul Michael Hill, who was one of four falsely convicted in the 1974 Irish Republican Army bombings of two pubs.

“She lit up our lives with her love, her peals of laughter and her generous spirit,” the statement said, adding that she was passionate about human rights and women’s empowerment and worked with indigenous communities to build schools in Mexico.

She attended Boston College, where she was a member of the class of 2020, the university confirmed to The Boston Globe.

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Katy Perry, others ordered to pay $2.78M for copying song

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Katy Perry, her collaborators and her record label must pay more than $2.78 million because the pop star’s 2013 hit “Dark Horse” copied a 2009 Christian rap song, a federal jury decided Thursday.

It was an underdog victory for rapper Marcus Gray, a relatively obscure artist once known as Flame, whose 5-year-old lawsuit survived constant court challenges and a trial against top-flight attorneys for Perry and the five other music-industry heavyweights who wrote her song.

The amount fell well short of the nearly $20 million sought by attorneys for Gray and the two co-writers of “Joyful Noise” — Emanuel Lambert and Chike Ojukwu — but they said they were pleased.

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“We weren’t here seeking to punish anyone,” said Gray’s attorney, Michael A. Kahn. “Our clients came here seeking justice, and they feel they received justice from a jury of their peers.”

Perry herself was hit for just over $550,000, with Capitol Records responsible for the biggest part of the award — $1.2 million. Defense attorneys had argued for an overall award of about $360,000.

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