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Author Archives: Cliff Jones

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Mexico and Canada reject some U.S. proposals for NAFTA

NAFTA explained That was awkward. Government officials from Canada and Mexico slammed the Trump administration’s proposals to renegotiate NAFTA in front of the top U.S. trade negotiator on Tuesday. He, in turn, lambasted the two leaders as they were standing right next to him during a televised news conference. “We have seen proposals that would turn back the clock on 23 years predictability, openness and collaboration,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in Washington. “We must ensure that decisions we make today do not come back to haunt us tomorrow,” Mexico Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo added, alluding to the U.S. proposals to rework the free trade pact. Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. Trade Representative, didn’t mince words in response to the criticism. “I’m surprised and disappointed by the resistance to change from our negotiating partners,” Lighthizer said with Guajardo to his left and Freeland to his right. “We have seen a ... Read More »

Doctors in Puerto Rico: 'Reality here is post-apocalyptic'

Floating hospital sits empty near Puerto Rico Melted medications. Surgical procedures conducted in sweltering 95-degree heat. Malfunctioning X-ray machines. This is the reality doctors in Puerto Rico are facing almost four weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. “We’re practicing disaster medicine in real life,” said Dr. William Kotler, a senior resident in emergency medicine with Florida Hospital in Orlando, who spent two weeks volunteering on the island earlier this month. “We improvise if we have to, with very little resources.” Kotler and four other emergency physicians from Florida Hospital in Orlando, just wrapped up a two-week volunteer mission in Puerto Rico. Arriving one week after Hurricane Maria made landfall, they were the first medical relief team the hospital sent to the island. A second team arrived on Oct. 8 and will stay for two weeks. “We went in blind,” said Dr. Julian Trivino, who was among the first team ... Read More »

Gary Cohn fears this is how the next crisis will happen

Global Financial Crisis: 10 years on The global financial system nearly blew up nine years ago when AIG’s collapse threatened its ability to make good on complex insurance contracts sold to Wall Street. Federal regulators took this risk so seriously that they came to AIG’s(AIG) rescue with a controversial $180 billion bailout to prevent the insurance behemoth’s failure. The 2010 Dodd-Frank law attempted to minimize the danger of exotic derivatives like the ones AIG sold. Dodd-Frank required most of these trades move from opaque over-the-counter markets to more transparent exchanges known as clearinghouses. These third parties act as middlemen that guarantee payment, even if one of the trading partners fails like AIG nearly did. While Dodd-Frank is credited with making derivatives safer, some worry about what happens to the financial system if clearinghouses themselves implode. “We haven’t figured out yet how to resolve a clearinghouse,” Gary Cohn, President Trump’s top ... Read More »

Inspector general says Mnuchin did not fly on government plane to New York

Mnuchin: Plane request was about national security, not personal travel Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin did not use a government plane to fly to a meeting with President Donald Trump in New York in August, the agency’s inspector general confirmed Monday. New travel documents provided to the agency’s inspector general show that Mnuchin, along with his chief of staff, and Justin Muzinich, a counselor to the secretary, flew to New York aboard an American Airlines flight on the morning of August 15, according to a memo from Rich Delmar, general counsel for the inspector general’s office. The inspector general requested additional travel records from Treasury last week after learning the agency had not provided an accurate portrayal of Mnuchin’s trip toNew York that day. Previous travel records provided by Treasury had not specified that Mnuchin had taken a commercial flight to New York’s LaGuardia airport from Washington D.C. to meet with ... Read More »

Venezuela is blaming Trump for missed debt payments

U.S. sanctions Venezuelan president Venezuela didn’t pay its bills last week. It also owes a lot more money very soon as it spirals further into chaos. The country’s government and its state-run oil company missed five small debt payments last week totaling $349 million, according to three experts who closely follow the debt. Delayed payments are becoming increasingly common for the country’s bondholders. But a new excuse is surfacing: President Donald Trump and the financial sanctions his administration imposed on Venezuela in August. The government hasn’t commented on why it didn’t pay this time but in late September, Venezuela Vice President Tareck El Aissami — who the Trump administration labeled a drug trafficker — blamed Trump for a separate delayed payment. “We’re starting an era where the dictatorship of the ‘dollar boss’ won’t be imposed, and we’re ridding ourselves of this supposed threat of Trump,” El Aissami said on September ... Read More »

A month after hurricane, only half of Puerto Rico's banks are open

Why Trump can’t just erase Puerto Rico’s debt Half the banks in Puerto Rico are still closed, almost a month after Hurricane Maria. For weeks, Puerto Ricans have been waiting in long lines to get cash, food, water and gas. But banks have had a harder time reopening than other stores. Nearly 80% of gas stations are open, and 86% of supermarkets. But only 157 of 314 bank branches on the island are open, according to government figures. About 870 ATMs are working, but the government can’t say how many were working before the storm. Most businesses are still without power and are only accepting cash. The island isn’t low on bills: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in September that two “giant” cash shipments had been sent. But the devastated electric grid, poor cell service and other problems make it difficult to safely coordinate deliveries of money. Related: Misery in ... Read More »

How Trump's executive order can hurt those with pre-existing conditions

How Trump is upending Obamacare President Trump says that his executive order will provide quality health care to millions of Americans. The main way he would do this is to make it easier for small businesses to band together to buy health insurance through nationwide association health plans. The order will likely free these plans from several key Obamacare regulations and from state oversight. Instead, they’d be subject to the same federal regulations as large-employer plans. The key backer of this move, GOP Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, dismisses critics’ concerns that association plans would hurt those who are sick and need care. Instead,he says it would allow small businesses to use their collective bargaining power to purchase the same level of coverage as large group plans. “If you get group insurance under this proposal or any group insurance in this country, they can’t discriminate,” Paul said on MSNBC Friday. ... Read More »

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