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Chinese Trade Negotiator to Visit US in Late January

China’s economic czar, Vice Premier Liu He, will travel to the United States later this month for the second round of negotiations aimed at resolving the ongoing trade war between the global economic giants.

Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters in Beijing Thursday that Liu will visit Washington on January 30-31. He was invited by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

U.S. negotiators were optimistic after the first round of talks in Beijing last week that the two sides would be able to resolve tariff disputes that have upset global markets.

The trade talks are the result of an agreement last month between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to stop the tit-for-tat tariff conflict between the two countries for 90 days starting on New Year’s Day.

The United States has long complained about access to the vast Chinese market and Beijing’s demands U.S. companies reveal their technology advances.

If no deal is reached by March 2, U.S. tariffs on $200 billion Chinese goods will rise from 10 percent to 25 percent.

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ФСБ заявляє про затримання українця на в’їзді до Криму

Коментарів адвоката або родичів затриманого наразі немає

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У Запоріжжі підтвердили смерть дитини від грипу

У Запоріжжі лабораторно підтверджено смерть від грипу дитини у віці близько двох місяців. Про це кореспонденту Радіо Свобода повідомили у Запорізькому обласному лабораторному Центрі МОЗ України.

Наразі це перший випадок смерті від грипу в регіоні з початку епідемічного сезону.

«Захворюваність зараз невисока. Епідпоріг не перевищений. Тобто були шкільні канікули, ми мали зниження, і за останній тиждень захворюваність на 34% нижче порога. Але разом з тим 29 грудня померла дитина. Дитині місяць і 24 дні, тобто немовля. Що треба заначити – родина благополучна, хоча і багатодітна, і у дитини не було жодних проявів, зі слів мами, ані грипу, ані ГРВІ. Жодних провіяв вона не бачила. Зі слів мами, він був абсолютно здоровий. Ліг спати з мамою і зранку вона виявила його мертвим. На розтині патологоанатомічний діагноз – пневмонія. І лабораторно потім вже з матеріалу підтвердили грип H3N2», –розповіла завідувач відділення організації епідеміологічних досліджень Запорізького обласного лабораторного Центру МОЗ України Марина Колерова.

За інформацією МОЗ, за другий тиждень 2019 року на грип та ГРВІ захворіли понад 176 тисяч людей, із них більше половини – діти.

Втім, у міністерстві запевняють, що про епідемію не йдеться: показник захворюваності на грип та ГРВІ становить 458,2 на 100 тисяч населення, що на 11,7 % менше епідемічного порогу по Україні. Водночас,зазначається, що епідемічні пороги перевищені в Чернігівській (на 34,2%), Житомирській (13,7%), Сумській (10,7%) та Одеській (2,0%) областях.

При цьому в Києві станом на 16 квітня тринадцять шкіл призупинили освітній процес через карантин (188 класів).

З початку епідемічного сезону зареєстровано 19 летальних випадків, з них 8 – за період з 7 по 13 січня, повідомляє МОЗ.

Грип – це гостре респіраторне захворювання, спричинене вірусом. Легко передається від людини до людини повітряно-крапельним шляхом.

Серед симптомів грипу – висока температура, яка тримається мінімум п’ять днів; лихоманка; головний біль; ломота у м’язах і суглобах; загальна слабкість; втрата апетиту, можливо, нудота; кашель, що може тривати більше двох тижнів; нежить.

Від того чи іншого штаму грипу можна вакцинуватися. За даними МОЗ,з початку епідемічного сезону проти грипу вакциновано 0,4% від загальної кількості населення країни

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John Bogle, Founder of Vanguard, Dies at 89 

John C. Bogle, who simplified investing for the masses by launching the first index mutual fund and founded Vanguard Group, died Wednesday, the company said. He was 89.

Bogle did not invent the index fund, but he expanded access to no-frills, low-cost investing in 1976 when Vanguard introduced the first index fund for individual investors, rather than institutional clients.

The emergence of funds that passively tracked market indexes, like the Standard & Poor’s 500, enabled investors to avoid the higher fees charged by professional fund managers who frequently fail to beat the market. More often than not, the higher operating expenses that fund managers pass on to their shareholders cancel out any edge they may achieve through expert stock-picking.

Mutual fund industry critic

Bogle and Vanguard shook up the industry further in 1977. The company ended its reliance on outside brokers and instead began directly marketing its funds to investors without charging upfront fees known as sales loads.

Bogle served as Vanguard’s chairman and CEO from its 1974 founding until 1996.

He stepped down as senior chairman in 2000, but remained a critic of the fund industry and Wall Street, writing books, delivering speeches and running the Bogle Financial Markets Research Center.

The advent of index funds accelerated a long-term decline in fund fees and fostered greater competition in the industry. Investors paid 40 percent less in fees for each dollar invested in stock mutual funds during 2017 than they did at the start of the millennium, for example. But Bogle continued to maintain that many funds were overcharging investors, and once called the industry “the poster-boy for one of the most baneful chapters in the modern history of capitalism.”

Bogle also believed that the corporate structure of most fund companies poses an inherent conflict of interest, because a public fund company could put the interests of investors in its stock ahead of those owning shares of its mutual funds. Vanguard has a unique corporate structure in which its mutual funds and fund shareholders are the corporation’s “owners.” Profits are plowed back into the company’s operations, and used to reduce fees.

$5 trillion under management

Vanguard, based in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, manages $5 trillion globally. It helped usher in a new era of investing, and index funds have increasingly become the default choice for investors. In 2017, investors plugged $691.6 billion into index funds while pulling $7 billion out of actively managed funds, according to Morningstar.

Vanguard offers both index and managed funds, but remains best-known for its index offerings. Vanguard’s original index fund, now known as the Vanguard 500 Index, is no longer the company’s biggest, but remains among the company’s lowest-cost funds.

Bogle spent the first part of his career at Wellington Management Co., a mutual fund company, then based in Philadelphia. He rose through the ranks and, in his mid-30s, was tapped to run Wellington.

He engineered a merger with a boutique firm that was making huge sums, but was ousted after the stock market tanked in the early 1970s, wiping out millions in Wellington’s assets. He said he learned an important lesson in how little money managers really know about predicting the market.

Knack for math

Bogle suffered several heart attacks and underwent a heart transplant in 1996, the year he stepped down as CEO. He reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 for Vanguard directors in 1999 and left as senior chairman the next year.

Vanguard did not provide a cause of death. Philly.com is reporting he died of cancer, citing Bogle’s family.

John Clifton Bogle was born in May 1929 in Montclair, New Jersey, to a well-off family; his grandfather founded a brick company and was co-founder of the American Can Co. in which his father worked.

Bogle attended Manasquan High School in Manasquan, N.J, for a time, then got a scholarship to the prestigious all-boys Blair Academy in Blairstown, New Jersey. It was at Blair that Bogle discovered his knack for math. He graduated from Blair in 1947 and was voted most likely to succeed.

Bogle graduated from Princeton with a degree in economics in 1951. His thesis was on the mutual fund industry, which was then still in its infancy.

Bogle is survived by his wife, Eve, six children, 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

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Giant US Bank Reveals 29 Percent Pay Gap Between Men, Women

Female employees at Citigroup Inc around the world are paid just 71 percent of what men earn, the giant bank said on Wednesday, declaring its intentions to close its gender pay gap.

A Citigroup shareholder group that sought data on the pay gap said the bank is the first U.S. company to disclose such figures.

The U.S.-based bank employs more than 200,000 people in more than 100 countries, and more than half those employees are female, it said.

Tackling the 29 percent gap means increasing the number of women in senior and higher-paying roles, promoting women to at least 40 percent of assistant vice president through managing director jobs, Citigroup said in a statement.

Citigroup said it disclosed the data in response to a shareholder proposal from Arjuna Capital, an investment management firm.

The bank said its “raw pay gap” showed median pay for females globally was 71 percent of the median for men.

The raw gap measures the difference in median total compensation not adjusted for job function, level and geography.

With those adjustments, women are paid an average of 99 percent of what men are paid, it said.

“We have work to do, but we’re on a path that I’m confident will allow us to make meaningful progress,” Sara Wechter, head of human resources, said in a statement.

In the United States overall, women last year working full-time year-round earned 80 percent of what men earned, according to commonly cited data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Congress outlawed pay discrimination based on gender in 1963, yet public debate over why wages still lag drastically for women has snowballed in recent years.

Globally, the World Economic Forum reported an economic gap of 58 percent between the sexes for 2016, costing the global economy $1.2 trillion annually.

Last January, Citigroup said it was increasing compensation for women and minorities to bridge pay gaps in the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany, becoming the first big U.S. bank to respond to a shareholder push to analyze and disclose its gender pay gap.

This past year it expanded its pay equity review beyond those three countries to its workforce globally, it said.

 

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World Economic Forum Warns of Impact of Global Tensions

International tensions and nationalist politics can further weigh on the global economy this year and hinder efforts to deal with big issues such as climate change, the organizers of next week’s Davos forum warned Wednesday.

In its annual Global Risks Report, the World Economic Forum said the world is evolving into “a period of divergence following a period of globalization.”  A “darkening” economic outlook, in part fostered by geopolitical tensions between the United States and China, “looks set to further reduce the potential for international cooperation in 2019,” it said.

 

“With global trade and economic growth at risk in 2019, there is a more urgent need than ever to renew the architecture of international cooperation,” said Borge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum, which hosts an annual gathering of business and political leaders in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

 

“We simply do not have the gunpowder to deal with the kind of slowdown that current dynamics might lead us towards,” he added.

 

In 2018, the global economy slowed more than most experts had predicted and stock markets posted their worst year in a decade. Much of that has been blamed on the standoff between the U.S. and China over trade that has led to both sides imposing tariffs on hundreds of billions worth of goods.

 

The report, which is based on the views of around 1,000 experts and decision-makers from around the world, found that 88 percent of respondents expect a “further erosion” of global trading rules and agreements that will hold back growth.

 

The U.S.-China relations will be one of the main talking points at next week’s gathering in Davos, with a number of high level representatives from each side due to attend, including U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and China’s vice president, Wang Qishan. Britain’s upcoming exit from the European Union will be another key issue after British lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected the Brexit deal Prime Minister Theresa May had negotiated with the EU.

 

The 2016 vote to leave the EU had been driven in large part by a belief that Brexit would restore decision-making powers to Britain. U.S. President Donald Trump has used similar justifications to employ his “America First” policies on a range of international issues, such as climate change.

 

One area identified as being affected by the more fractured geopolitical environment is the need to modernize critical infrastructure projects around the world, such as roads, bridges and power networks, firstly and foremost to avoid accidents such as the collapse of a bridge in Genoa, Italy, last summer that killed 43 people.

 

John Drzik, President of Global Risk and Digital at Marsh, which helped with the preparation of the report, said the “more protectionist economic environment” is increasing costs and causing delays. The introduction of steel tariffs by the United States, he noted, raised the costs of an infrastructure project in Detroit by approximately 13 percent.

 

“Persistent underfunding of critical infrastructure worldwide is hampering economic progress, leaving businesses and communities more vulnerable both to cyberattacks and natural catastrophes, and failing to make the most of technological innovation,” he said.

 

 

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Angola’s Oil Reforms: Miracle or Mirage?

Angolan President Joao Lourenco has made headline-grabbing changes in the nation’s vital oil sector since taking power in 2017.  Economists say these changes should improve Angola’s economy, and may even provide a model for other resource-rich African nations.  But Lourenco’s critics say the reforms are cosmetic and haven’t brought benefits to ordinary Angolans.

 Oil has long been a blessing and a curse for citizens of this Southern African nation.  Allies of longtime president Jose Eduardo dos Santos allegedly enriched themselves off oil profits, while most citizens remained desperately poor.

But since taking office in 2017, Lourenco has been making welcomed changes.

“The current president really, really has — I wouldn’t say he has turned it around, he has taken some major steps that the industry has been waiting and the economy has been looking at,” said NJ Ayuk,  head of the Johannesburg-based Centurion Law Group and chairman of the Africa Energy Chamber of Commerce. “And we are seeing things improving if these steps are actually implemented and they actually go forward.”

Lourenco is trying to diversify the oil-dependent economy, announcing the nation’s first diamond auction later this month.

He also sacked several of the former president’s children from top positions, including his daughter, who was running the state oil company Sonangol.

Lourenco also reformed Sonangol, streamlining operations and regulations to make it easier for foreign investors to work in the oil sector.

Economist Cobus de Hart of NKC African Economics said it’s too soon to be optimistic.

“Most of the improvement is due to higher oil prices,” he told VOA. “And obviously it will take some time for the reforms at Sonangol to translate to increased earnings and also a marked improvement in inefficiencies. But moves have thus far seem to have attracted more interest from global oil majors to invest more in the country.”

Angolan journalist and human rights activist Rafael Marques, a frequent critic of the government, said the leadership changes at the state oil company are cosmetic and misleading.

“The way contracts are allocated, you still have companies that belong to politically exposed persons providing services,” he said. “So, some reforms are being implemented. But the point is not to replace one set of crooks by another set of crooks. Most of the public contracts [Lourenco is] signing off are without public tender. And remember, that’s where the oil money goes to.”

Nonetheless, Ayuk, who recently visited Angola, said he is hopeful. 

He said if Angola continues reforming its oil industry, it could trigger similar efforts in other African countries.

“What is really exciting is that most observers are looking at this and saying, ‘Maybe this could be something that we can really build upon and look at as a model that works for Africa.’ The truth of the matter is that if Angola gets it right, there is no reason why Mozambique or South Africa, or Namibia, or Nigeria, or Equatorial Guinea cannot get it right. Because people are tired of not seeing these resources translate to development.“

 

 

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Рятувальники загасили пожежу в будинку на Європейській площі в Києві, про який розповідали «Схеми»

У Державній службі надзвичайних ситуацій повідомили, що загасили пожежу в триповерховій відселеній будівлі в центрі Києва – раніше про цей будинок в числі 24 пам’яток, його долю та власників розповідали «Схеми: корупція в деталях» (спільний проект Радіо Свобода та телеканалу «UA: Перший») у спецпроекті #VanishingHeritage.

За даними ДСНС, пожежа виникла на даху триповерхової будівлі за адресою Грушевського 4б, утім, існувала загроза її поширення на прилеглі будинки (серед яких, зокрема, готель «Дніпро»). Вогонь охопив площу близько 700 квадратних метрів. 

Цей будинок – унікальна споруда ХІХ століття, приклад первинної забудови вулиці Грушевського, яких лишилося лише декілька. Раніше він був у списку пам’яток архітектури.

Це вже втретє в Києві горять історичні будівлі, про які йшлося в розслідуванні «Схем» – у ньому журналісти пояснювали, що подекуди недобросовісним власникам історичного спадку простіше довести будинок до такого стану, коли його вже не можна реконструювати, щоб вигідніше заробити на землі в центрі столиці.

Раніше пожежі спалахували в будинках на Подолі: у будинку на розі вулиць Волоської та Іллінської і в споруді на вулиці Щекавицька, 19/33.

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Economic Fallout Mounts as US Government Shutdown Continues

The White House has doubled projections of how much economic growth is being lost because of the partial government shutdown, now in a record 26th day with no end in sight to President Donald Trump’s standoff with opposition Democrats over his demand for taxpayer money to build a barrier at the southern border with Mexico.

Kevin Hassett, the chairman of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers, said Tuesday the country’s robust economy has already lost a half percentage point from the shutdown, during which 800,000 government workers have been furloughed or forced to work without pay. He said quarterly economic growth is being reduced by .13 of a percent each week the shutdown continues.

Trump is meeting Wednesday with a group of nearly 50 Democratic and Republican lawmakers that calls itself the Problem Solvers Caucus, as he continues to make the case for more than $5 billion in funding for construction of the border wall aimed at stopping illegal migration into the United States. Democrats have offered $1.3 billion in new border security funding, but none specifically for a wall.

Taking to Twitter, Trump cited other examples of walls he argued were 100 percent successful.

Pelosi asks to delay State of Union speech

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, leader of the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives and a staunch opponent of Trump’s call for a wall, asked him Wednesday to delay his scheduled January 29 State of the Union address before Congress unless the shutdown ends this week, or deliver his address in writing, a practice presidents followed more than 100 years ago.

Pelosi cited security concerns, noting that the U.S. Secret Service, which guards Trump and his family, and the Homeland Security agency have not been funded during the shutdown, “with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs.”

About one-fourth of government operations has been impacted since December 22, closing some museums, curtailing airport security operations and limiting food inspections, among other government services.

The Trump administration recalled 50,000 federal civil servants on Tuesday, many of them to help process refunds during the country’s annual tax return filing season, but they, like other “essential” employees already working without being paid, also will not be compensated until the impasse over border wall funding ends.

Bill guarantees back pay

Trump is set Wednesday to sign a bill to guarantee that federal workers, regardless of whether they were forced to work or furloughed during the shutdown, eventually get paid their lost wages, as has been done during previous shutdowns over the last several decades.

Workers for private contract companies hired by the government, however, are unlikely to recoup lost wages. If the shutdown lasts another week, government workers will miss their second paycheck this month.

Helping hand for furloughed workers

Some financial institutions have adopted programs to help those workers deal with a sudden loss in income, while a number of Washington area restaurants are giving away meals to federal workers.

The charity World Central Kitchen, which is known for its work feeding people in disaster zones such as Puerto Rico after a hurricane devastated the U.S. territory in 2017, is opening a popup stand Wednesday in Washington to feed federal employees.

The site is on Pennsylvania Avenue, about halfway between the Capitol and the White House, and the group’s founder, chef José Andrés, said the location is symbolic of the need for Americans to come together.

“We’re going to be open for any federal family that needs food,” Andrés said in a Twitter video announcing the project. “We will have food for you to eat or food to take home. But also I hope it will be a call to action for our senators and congressman and especially President Trump to make sure that we end this moment in the history of America where families are about to go hungry.”

While Trump and Democratic leaders blame each other for the situation dragging on, a number of recent polls have put more of the responsibility on the president.

Most Americans blame Trump for impasse

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released Tuesday indicated 51 percent of respondents blame Trump and 34 percent blame congressional Democrats. In the same poll, 62 percent of people said they support adding more border patrol agents, and there was a roughly even split of 43 percent of people both supporting and opposing additional fencing at the border.

The Senate and House were both due to be in recess next week, but leaders in both chambers have said that break will be canceled if the shutdown is still in effect.

“We’re going to stay out for a long time, if we have to,” Trump told supporters in a conference call Tuesday.

In Congress, the House has passed several bills that would follow Pelosi’s plan to reopen the government for now and debate the border later, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will not bring up any legislation that Trump would not support.

McConnell vs Schumer

McConnell on Tuesday called on Senate Democrats to make “an important choice.”

“They could stand with common sense, with border experts, with federal workers, and with their own past voting records by the way, or they could continue to remain passive spectators complaining from the sidelines as the speaker refuses to negotiate with the White House,” McConnell said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Trump should “see the pain” the shutdown is causing.

“He’d benefit from listening to the stories of federal civil servants who were working without pay, locked out of their jobs, maybe then President Trump will understand the damage he’s causing by holding these people hostage until he gets what he wants,” Schumer said. “Meanwhile, Leader McConnell, Senate Republicans are hiding in the shadows as if they have some kind of aversion to doing their job when it involves the slightest break with the president.”

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