Month: July 2018

Woodward, Bernstein Still Atop the News, Long After Watergate

More than 40 years after they became the world’s most famous journalism duo, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein are still making news.

Bernstein was among three CNN reporters who last week broke the story of former Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s allegation that Trump knew in advance of the June 2016 meeting between representatives of his presidential campaign and Russian officials. On Tuesday, Woodward’s upcoming book, Fear: Inside the Trump White House, was No. 1 on Amazon.com, within a day of its announcement. 

The former Washington Post colleagues known for their Watergate coverage speak regularly, they say, comparing notes on the Trump era.

‘He’s a news junkie, and I’m a news junkie,” Woodward, 75, explained Tuesday during a telephone interview, adding that he includes a tribute to Bernstein in his new book’s acknowledgements.

“We keep each other posted pretty well,” Bernstein, 74, said during a separate phone interview. “Obviously, we do different things. But we also have a lifetime of understanding each other and looking at news together.” 

Successful author

Woodward, an associate editor at the Post, is among the most successful nonfiction authors of his time, with a long series of best-selling accounts of sitting presidents from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama. A new Woodward book even became a political tradition — coming out in the fall of an election year.

But after the 2012 release of The Price of Politics, Woodward stepped away from the present, publishing no works on Obama’s second term, and instead focused on Watergate-era news. The Last of the President’s Men, his work on White House aide Alexander Butterfield, the man who revealed Nixon’s taping system, came out in 2015.

A Trump book was an easy choice for Woodward, who calls the current president’s rise a “pivot point” in American history. According to his publisher, Simon & Schuster, Woodward will show the “harrowing life” of the Trump White House and the president’s decision-making process as he draws upon “hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand sources, contemporaneous meeting notes, files, documents and personal diaries.”

What is power?

The book’s title draws upon an interview Woodward and Post reporter Robert Costa had with Trump that was published in April 2016. Costa had noted that Obama defined power as “you can get what you want without having to exert violence.” Trump had a different interpretation.

His answer was, Woodward said, checking his notes, “Real power is — I don’t even want to use the word — ‘fear.’ ”

Bernstein is a political commentator for CNN whose books include A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton and the two Nixon-era classics he wrote with Woodward, All the President’s Men and The Final Days. He is currently working on a memoir about his early years of journalism, when he was starting out at the now-defunct Washington Star.

“My time at the Star was a great learning experience, and then there was the Post and Watergate. Those two experiences inform pretty much everything I do,” Bernstein said.

“Imagine,” he added, referring to himself and Woodward, “here we are, 74 and 75 years old, and we still get to do this.”

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LeBron James Joins Other Celebrities Who Launched Schools

With the launch of a public school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, LeBron James has joined a long list of celebrities who have sought to leave their mark on education centers.

The NBA star, who recently left the Cleveland Cavaliers and signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, was on hand Monday to welcome children to the I Promise School, built in a partnership with the LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron City Schools. The school launches with a group of third- and fourth-graders and plans to expand to serve first through eighth grades by 2022.

James has said the school, with a non-traditional schedule and year-round programming, can have a lasting impact for children facing the kinds of challenges he faced during a rough childhood. James grew up without a father, and he missed a lot of school because he and his mother lacked transportation.

Here is a look at some of the other celebrities who have been involved in creating schools, sometimes with mixed results:

Deion Sanders

The NFL Hall of Famer co-founded a multi-campus charter school called Prime Prep Academy in Texas in 2012. He coached there and served in other capacities but had a rocky relationship with administrators and was twice fired and rehired. The school’s enrollment slid amid financial and administrative problems, and it closed in early 2015.

Shakira

The singer has funded at least a half-dozen schools for children in her native Colombia over the past two decades with her foundation, Pies Descalzos, which means Barefoot in Spanish. Those institutions included a $6 million school she dedicated in 2009 in her hometown, Barranquilla, on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. She said then that her foundation’s work is about “breaking the myth that quality education is the privilege of the few.”

Magic Johnson

The Lakers legend announced in 2011 that he was partnering with for-profit EdisonLearning Inc. to lend his name and business skills to promote dropout recovery centers. The effort expanded to at least 17 Bridgescape schools in six states within a couple years with the goal of reducing school dropout rates in urban areas. The company and Johnson parted ways after five years, but EdisonLearning says four Bridgescape Learning Academies still operate with the Chicago Public Schools.

Tony Bennett

The singer and his wife, teacher Susan Benedetto, founded the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in 2001 in New York, naming it after the legendary singer, who was Bennett’s best friend. The public performing arts high school in Queens, which gets support from Bennett’s nonprofit group, admits students based on auditions. It boasts a high graduation rate, with alumni who have gone on to study at a variety of top arts colleges. 

Will Smith

The actor-rapper and his actress wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, founded the private New Village Academy in the Los Angeles area in 2008. Pinkett Smith said she was moved to start the school after developing home-schooling programs for their own children, but it was embroiled in controversy over rumors the curriculum used instructional methods developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The couple and school leaders denied any connection to the church. The school reportedly closed in 2013. Representatives for the couple couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Andre Agassi

The tennis great ran the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy for at-risk youth in his hometown, Las Vegas. In 2016, the academy was turned over to an out-of-state operator, and it has been rebranded Democracy Prep at Agassi Campus. The school change was compelled by a Nevada state initiative that targeted low-performing schools. The Andre Agassi Foundation for Education also is tied to an investment fund that helps charter school operators get access to buildings and facilities around the country.

Sean “Diddy” Combs

The performer and entrepreneur added another role in 2016 as founder of the Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School in the New York neighborhood where he was born. He said it was a dream come true to create the school, which is part of a group of schools aimed at supporting historically disadvantaged students.

Pitbull

The rapper, whose real name is Armando Christian Perez, has been a celebrity ambassador for the Sports and Leadership Academy, which has locations in Miami and Henderson, Nevada. He’s appeared at ceremonies for the schools, which focus on sports medicine, marketing, business and management. The academy is overseen by the Sports and Leadership Academy Foundation, and he is not a financial donor.

Madonna

The pop star founded the charity Raising Malawi in 2006 to help vulnerable children in that impoverished southern African nation. Its work has included helping to build schools there. It also funded a children’s wing at a hospital that opened last year.

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Study: Heat Deaths to Jump in Absence of Changes

The number of people dying from heat waves is likely to rise sharply in some regions by 2080 if policymakers fail to take mitigating steps in climate and health policies, according to the results of a study released Tuesday.

Deaths caused by heat waves could increase dramatically in tropical and subtropical regions, the study found, followed closely by Australia, Europe and the United States.

Published in the journal PLOS Medicine, the study’s results suggest stricter mitigation policies should be applied to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because lower greenhouse gas emissions are linked with fewer deaths due to heat waves.

Antonio Gasparrini, an expert from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who co-led the research, noted that several countries around the world are currently being hit by deadly heat waves and said it was “highly likely” that heat wave frequency and severity would increase under a changing climate.

“The good news is that if we mitigate greenhouse gas emissions … then the projected impact will be much reduced,” he said.

The researchers said they hoped their research, which used mathematical modeling, would help decision-makers in planning strategies for climate change.

Different scenarios

The model used different scenarios characterized by levels of greenhouse gas emissions, preparedness and adaption strategies, as well as population density to estimate the number of deaths related to heat waves in 412 communities across 20 countries from 2031 to 2080.

The results found that compared with the period 1971 to 2020 and under the extreme scenario, the Philippines would suffer 12 times more excess deaths caused by heat waves in 2031 to 2080.

Under the same scenario, Australia and the United States could face five times more excess deaths, with Britain potentially seeing four times more excess deaths from heat waves in the same period.

These predictions improved, however, when scenarios were modeled with policies implemented to fulfill the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Under the least extreme scenario, and compared with the period 1971 to 2020, the study predicted that Britain would see only around double the number of excess deaths caused by heat waves in 2031 to 2080.

The researchers note that their work had some limitations, since it could model only relatively simple assumptions of how countries may or may not adapt climate policies.

The findings “should therefore be interpreted as potential impacts under hypothetical scenarios, and not as projections of [the] future,” they said in a statement.

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Robotic Hand Can Juggle Cube — With Lots of Training

How long does it take a robotic hand to learn to juggle a cube?

About 100 years, give or take.

That’s how much virtual computing time it took researchers at OpenAI, the nonprofit artificial intelligence lab funded by Elon Musk and others, to train its disembodied hand. The team paid Google $3,500 to run its software on thousands of computers simultaneously, crunching the actual time to 48 hours. After training the robot in a virtual environment, the team put it to a test in the real world.

The hand, called Dactyl, learned to move itself, the team of two dozen researchers disclosed this week. Its job is simply to adjust the cube so that one of its letters — “O,” “P,” “E,” “N,” “A” or “I” — faces upward to match a random selection.

Ken Goldberg, a University of California, Berkeley robotics professor who isn’t affiliated with the project, said OpenAI’s achievement is a big deal because it demonstrates how robots trained in a virtual environment can operate in the real world. His lab is trying something similar with a robot called Dex-Net, though its hand is simpler and the objects it manipulates are more complex.

“The key is the idea that you can make so much progress in simulation,” he said. “This is a plausible path forward, when doing physical experiments is very hard.”

Dactyl’s real-world fingers are tracked by infrared dots and cameras. In training, every simulated movement that brought the cube closer to the goal gave Dactyl a small reward. Dropping the cube caused it to feel a penalty 20 times as big.

The process is called reinforcement learning. The robot software repeats the attempts millions of times in a simulated environment, trying over and over to get the highest reward. OpenAI used roughly the same algorithm it used to beat human players in a video game, Dota 2.

In real life, a team of researchers worked about a year to get the mechanical hand to this point.

Why?

For one, the hand in a simulated environment doesn’t understand friction. So even though its real fingers are rubbery, Dactyl lacks human understanding about the best grips.

Researchers injected their simulated environment with changes to gravity, hand angle and other variables so the software learns to operate in a way that is adaptable. That helped narrow the gap between real-world results and simulated ones, which were much better.

The variations helped the hand succeed putting the right letter face up more than a dozen times in a row before dropping the cube. In simulation, the hand typically succeeded 50 times in a row before the test was stopped.

OpenAI’s goal is to develop artificial general intelligence, or machines that think and learn like humans, in a way that is safe for people and widely distributed.

Musk has warned that if AI systems are developed only by for-profit companies or powerful governments, they could one day exceed human smarts and be more dangerous than nuclear war with North Korea.

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Draft Poster for ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ Sells for $26,400

A rare draft poster for the “Star Wars” sequel “The Empire Strikes Back” has sold at auction for $26,400.

Heritage Auctions says a long-time pop culture collector who wished to remain anonymous made the winning bid Sunday in the Dallas auction.

 

The poster features Han Solo and Princess Leia in an embrace similar to one from a “Gone With the Wind” poster featuring Rhett Butler carrying Scarlett O’Hara while surrounded by flames.

 

Grey Smith, Heritage’s director of vintage posters, says the draft poster for the 1980 movie “The Empire Strikes Back” is unique because it shows Roger Kastel’s complete artwork in the original color palette.

 

After final revisions, the poster had a darker color scheme than the draft’s vibrant reds and oranges. It was also more streamlined with fewer characters.

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Facebook Removes Accounts ‘Involved in Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior’

Efforts to influence U.S. voters ahead of the 2018 midterm elections in November appear to be well underway, though private companies and government officials are hesitant to say who, exactly, is behind the recently discovered campaigns.

Facebook announced Tuesday it had shut down 32 Facebook and Instagram accounts because they were “involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

Specifically, the social media company said it took down eight Facebook pages, 17 Facebook profiles, and seven Instagram accounts, the oldest of which were created in March 2017.

Facebook said the entities behind the accounts ran some 150 ads for about $11,000 on Facebook and Instagram, paid for with U.S. and Canadian currency.

“We’re still in the very early stages of our investigation and don’t have all the facts — including who may be behind this,” Facebook said in a blog post. “It’s clear that whoever set up these accounts went to much greater lengths to obscure their true identities than the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) has in the past.”

Effort to spark confrontations

At least 290,000 accounts followed the fake pages, most of which appeared to target left-wing American communities in an effort to spark confrontations with the far right, according to an analysis done by the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab.

 

“They appear to have constituted an attempt by an external actor — possibly, though not certainly, in the Russian-speaking world,” the Digital Forensic Research Lab said in its own post.

It said similarities to activity by Russia’s IRA included “language patterns that indicate non-native English and consistent mistranslation, as well as an overwhelming focus on polarizing issues at the top of any given news cycle with content that remained emotive rather than fact-based.”

Facebook’s announcement came the same day top U.S. officials warned the country is now in “a crisis mode.”

“Our democracy itself is in the crosshairs,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said at a National Cybersecurity Summit, citing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections.

“It is unacceptable, and it will not be tolerated,” Nielsen said. “The United States possesses a wide range of response options — some of them seen, others unseen — and we will no longer hesitate to use them to hold foreign adversaries accountable.”

Homeland Security officials said they had been in touch with Facebook about the fake accounts and applauded the move to take them down. The White House also praised Facebook’s actions.

“We applaud efforts by our private sector partners to combat an array of threats that occur in cyberspace, including malign influence,” NSC spokesman Garrett Marquis told VOA.

Nielsen, who did not comment on the Facebook announcement directly, also said officials were “dramatically ramping up” efforts to protect U.S. election systems with the help of a new Election Task Force.

She also announced the launch of a National Risk Management Center to make it easier for the government to work with private sector companies to counter threats in cyberspace.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has at times cast doubt on findings by the U.S. intelligence community regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election, chaired a meeting of his National Security Council on election security on Friday, with the White House promising continued support to safeguard the country’s election systems.

Vice President Mike Pence, speaking Tuesday at a Homeland Security-sponsored summit, echoed that, saying, “Any attempt to interfere in our elections is an affront to our democracy, and it will not be allowed.”

Pence assured the audience that the White House did not doubt Russia’s attempts to influence U.S. elections, saying, “Gone are the days when America allows our adversaries to cyberattack us with impunity.”

“We’ve already done more than any administration in American history to preserve the integrity of the ballot box,” he added. “The American people demand and deserve the strongest possible defense, and we will give it to them.”

Hackers targeted congressional campaigns

Less than two weeks ago, Microsoft said hackers had targeted the campaigns of at least three congressional candidates in the upcoming election.

Tom Burt, Microsoft’s vice president for customer security and trust, refused to attribute the attacks, but said the hackers used tactics similar to those used by Russian operatives to target the Republican and Democratic parties during their presidential nominating conventions in 2016.

Late last week, The Daily Beast reported one of the targets of the attack was Missouri Democratic senator Claire McCaskill, who has been highly critical of Russia and is facing a tough re-election campaign.

Until recently, both U.S. government and private sector officials had said they had not been seeing the same pace of attacks or influence campaigns that they saw in the run-up to the 2016 election.

“I think we’re not seeing that same conduct,” Monika Bickert, head of Facebook’s product policy and counterterrorism, said during an appearance earlier this month at the Aspen Security Forum. “But we are watching for that activity.”

Still, many officials and analysts said it was likely just a matter of time before Russia would seek to strike again.

“I think we have been clear across the entire administration that even though we aren’t seeing this level of activity directed at elections, we continue to see Russian information operations directed at undermining our democracy,” Homeland Security undersecretary Chris Krebs said.

Facebook said it was sharing what it knows because of a connection between the “bad actors” behind the Facebook and Instagram pages and some protests that are planned next week in Washington, D.C.

Facebook also canceled an event posted by one of the accounts — a page called “Resisters” — calling for a counterprotest to a “Unite the Right” event scheduled for August in Washington, D.C.

U.S. lawmakers’ reactions

Key U.S. lawmakers applauded Facebook’s actions Tuesday, though they warned more still needs to be done.

“The goal of these operations is to sow discord, distrust and division in an attempt to undermine public faith in our institutions and our political system,” Sen. Richard Burr, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement. “The Russians want a weak America.”

“Today’s announcement from Facebook demonstrates what we’ve long feared — that malicious foreign actors bearing the hallmarks of previously identified Russian influence campaigns continue to abuse and weaponize social media platforms to influence the U.S. electorate,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.

“It is clear that much more work needs to be done before the midterm elections to harden our defenses, because foreign bad actors are using the exact same playbook they used in 2016,” Schiff added.

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Cases of Tick-Borne Meat Allergy May Be on the Rise

As Americans head outdoors for barbeques or hiking in the woods, danger might be lurking in the grass. The bite of the lone star tick, which lives in many eastern U.S. states, has been known to cause an allergic reaction to red meat. New research suggests that meat allergy may be on the rise.

Mammalian meat allergy, also known as the alpha-gal allergy, refers to an allergic reaction caused by a complex sugar found in many mammalian cell membranes. The galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose sugar isn’t found in primates (including humans), but is common to red meats such as pork and beef.

Symptoms of meat allergy can include hives, stomach trouble, and a sudden drop in blood pressure. It can lead to anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. New research by Dr. Jay Lieberman at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center finds one-third of anaphylaxis cases in a recent 10-year period were caused by this arachnid-induced allergy.

Lieberman and his co-authors were interested in assessing the breakdown of various causes of anaphylaxis, including the alpha-gal (red meat) allergy.

Anaphylaxis is usually defined as a reaction involving at least two different organ systems.

“For example, if you have full body hives and you vomit,” Lieberman said, “that can be anaphylaxis, as long as you know that it’s not associated with an infection or virus.”

The researchers evaluated 218 cases of anaphylaxis in patients ranging from as young as 9 years old to 78-year-old retirees who visited their university-affiliated Tennessee clinic over a 10-year period.

By reviewing the patients’ medical records, the doctors could identify the cause of the allergic reactions with high certainty in 85 of the cases and relative certainty in an additional 57 cases.

Researchers found that of the 85 highly certain cases, 28 — or about one-third — were caused by the tick-bite-induced alpha-gal allergy, more than any other source including other food allergies like peanuts or shellfish.

In the 57 cases where the researchers were less certain of the cause of the allergic reaction, they found more than a quarter of the cases were most likely caused by alpha-gal. Taken together, the meat allergy was the most commonly identified source of anaphylaxis in those 142 cases.

Lieberman told VOA not every tick bite leads to an immune system reaction and not everyone with antibodies caused by the tick bite ends up with this meat allergy. “Clearly there are many people who get bitten by ticks that probably never develop the allergy to alpha-gal.”

However, experts say that knowledge of the tick-borne allergy since its formal recognition in the early 2000s, as well as an antibody blood test that helps identify it, has helped spread awareness about it. This comes as the range of the lone star tick is also spreading, north and west from the eastern United States and Mexico.

Lieberman noted that while the number anaphylaxis cases caused by alpha-gal has increased, the number of unidentified cases has also decreased.

“These patients were there before and we didn’t know what it was,” he said. Lieberman further explained that with the advent of a testing method for alpha-gal allergy, these patients are now getting the diagnosis they would have missed before.

Researcher Onyinye Iweala, at the University of North Carolina Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology, who was not involved in the study, said the findings might be due to two reasons.

“I think [the alpha-gal allergy] has been present for a while, but it’s increasing in its prevalence,” Iweala told VOA. “And also we have better diagnostics to identify that people have this condition.”

However, Lieberman warns it can be hard for an afflicted person to recognize the symptoms because they have up to several hours delayed onset.

Speaking on the uniqueness of the alpha-gal allergy, he said, “It’s the only one we know of that’s a delayed allergy, so it can even present in the middle of the night. You eat dinner at 8 p.m., you go to bed at 11 and you wake up at 1 a.m. with these symptoms.”

 

Although Lieberman’s research was conducted in the heart of lone-star tick country in Tennessee, Iweala notes that the meat allergy isn’t a uniquely American problem.

“Meat allergy has been discovered in multiple countries in Europe, Australia, Japan and also in South Africa,” she said. “They’re different tick species that have been identified in Europe and in Australia that have been associated with the alpha-gal allergy,” but the resulting allergy to red meat remains the same.

While people affected can still eat fish and poultry, the allergy might make neighborhood barbecues with hotdogs and hamburgers less enjoyable. Researchers note that the allergy can lessen or even disappear in some people over time. Still many questions remain, including why the allergy seems to be on the rise.

This research was published Monday by the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, where Dr. Lieberman is the vice chair of the food allergy committee.

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Israel Jails Arab Poet for Online ‘Incitement to Terrorism’

An Israeli court jailed an Israeli Arab poet for five months on Tuesday after convicting her of incitement to terrorism for a poem and remarks she posted on social media during a wave of Palestinian street attacks.

Dareen Tatour, 36, posted on Facebook and YouTube a video of herself reading out her poem “Resist, My People, Resist”, as a soundtrack to footage of masked Palestinian youths throwing stones and firebombs at Israeli soldiers.

Tatour published her poem in October 2015 during a spate of deadly Palestinian stabbing, shooting and ramming attacks on Israelis. She was arrested a few days later, and prosecutors said her post was a call for violence. She denied this.

Her case became a cause celebre for freedom of speech advocates in Israel and abroad. It drew attention to the advanced technology used by Israeli security agencies to trawl through social media to identify and arrest users suspected of incitement to violence, or of planning attacks.

Tatour said her poem was misunderstood by the Israeli authorities as it was not a call for violence, rather for non-violent struggle.

U.S.-backed negotiations on a Palestinian state in territory Israel captured in a 1967 war have been stalled since 2014.

Tatour was also charged with supporting a terrorist group. Prosecutors said she had expressed support for the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad’s call for an uprising.

“I wasn’t expecting justice to be done. The case was political from the start, because I am Palestinian and support freedom of speech,” she told reporters at the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court in northern Israel.

Arab minority

Tatour belongs to Israel’s Arab minority, which comprises mainly descendants of the Palestinians who remained on their land after the 1948 Arab-Jewish war that surrounded the creation of the state of Israel. Hundreds of thousands fled or were driven from their homes.

The court added a six-month suspended sentence to Tatour’s jail time, according to the official minutes distributed by the Justice Ministry. Her lawyer, Gaby Lasky, said Tatour would appeal both the verdict and the sentence.

Israel says the string of Palestinian attacks that began in 2015 was fueled by online incitement and it has launched a legal crackdown to curb it.

Indictments for online incitement have tripled in Israel since 2014. Prosecutions by the Israeli military have also increased in the occupied West Bank – most of those charged are young Palestinians.

The campaign against alleged incitement has raised questions about the balance between security and free speech.

On July 18 the Israeli parliament was set to pass legislation that would have empowered the justice system to order Internet providers, such as Facebook and Google, to take down social media posts in Israel deemed as incitement.

But hours before the scheduled vote Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shelved the bill. An adviser to Netanyahu, Jonatan Urich, said the law was open to a too-wide interpretation that could allow cyber-censorship and harm freedom of speech.

 

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Tehran: Trump Wrong to Expect Saudis to Cover Loss of Iran Oil Supply

Iran said on Tuesday U.S. President Donald Trump was mistaken to expect Saudi Arabia and other oil producers to compensate for supply losses caused by U.S. sanctions on Iran, after OPEC production rose only modestly in July.

The comments, from Iran’s OPEC governor, came a day after a Reuters survey showed OPEC production rose by 70,000 barrels per day in July. Saudi production increased but was offset by a decline in Iranian supply due to the restart of U.S. sanctions, the survey found.

“It seems President Trump has been taken hostage by Saudi Arabia and a few producers when they claimed they can replace 2.5 million barrels per day of Iranian exports, encouraging him to take action against Iran,” Hossein Kazempour Ardebili told Reuters. “Now they and Russia sell more oil and more expensively. Not even from their incremental production but their stocks.”

He said oil prices, which Trump has been pressuring the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to bring down by raising output, will rise unless the United States grants waivers to buyers of Iranian crude.

“They are also calling for the use of the U.S. SPR [Strategic Petroleum Reserve]. This will also mean higher prices. U.S. waivers to our clients if they come is due to the failure of bluffers [Saudi and the other producers] and, if not given, will again push the prices higher,” he said.

“So they hanged him [Trump] on the wall. Now they want to have a mega OPEC, congratulations to President Trump, Russia and Saudi Arabia.”

OPEC governors represent their respective country on the organization’s board of governors and are typically the second most senior person in a country’s OPEC delegation after the oil minister.

“The longer-term solution, Mr President, is to support and facilitate capacity building in all countries, proportionate to their reserves of oil and gas. And we will remain the biggest opportunity,” Kazempour said.

 

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From Homeless to Employment in Silicon Valley

As tech giants expand in San Francisco, homelessness and job displacement for locals continues to rise. Deana Mitchell explores one program, created by a formerly homeless man, that’s helping to merge the two worlds for local job seekers.

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