Brazil's jailed Lula registered as presidential candidate

Brazil’s jailed Lula registered as presidential candidate


BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s Workers Party registered imprisoned former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Wednesday as its candidate for the October presidential election, despite his serving a 12-year sentence for corruption and facing several more graft trials.

Supporters of imprisoned former Brazil’s President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva attend a march before his Workers’ Party (PT) officially registers his presidential candidacy, in Brasilia, Brazil, August 15, 2018. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

Several thousand supporters marched to Brazil’s top electoral court chanting “Free Lula” and “Lula for President” as they accompanied top members of his PT party to register his candidacy just hours before the deadline.

While he was nominated earlier this month to be his party’s candidate, Lula is expected to be barred from running by the country’s top electoral court since Brazilian law bars candidates whose conviction has been upheld on appeal, which is Lula’s situation. Lula has been jailed since April but still leads all election polling.

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The PT will use all appeals to delay any final ruling on Lula’s registration, and says he is its only candidate. Lula has chosen former Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad to lead the PT ticket when he is likely barred, according to party sources.

Police said 10,000 people participated in the march. No incidents or arrests were reported.

Lula governed Brazil for two terms from 2003-2011 and left office with a record approval rating of 87 percent due to a booming economy and social programs that lifted millions of Brazilians from poverty.

His popularity has been hurt by corruption indictments and scandals involving his party, which was ousted from power in 2016 when his hand-picked successor was impeached for breaking budget rules.

Still, polls show about one-third of Brazilians would vote for him if he is allowed to run, almost double his nearest rival, far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, and many of his supporters are expected to vote for whomever replaces him in the race.

Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu and Ricardo Brito; Writing by Brad Brooks; Editing by Dan Grebler; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe



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Trump revokes security clearance of former CIA director Brennan: White House

Trump strips ex-CIA director and sharp critic of security clearance


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump moved to penalize an outspoken critic on Wednesday, revoking the security clearance of Obama-era CIA Director John Brennan for what he said was “a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations” about his administration.

Trump, in a statement read to reporters by White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, also announced he was evaluating whether other former high-ranking officials – all of whom have criticized him – should have their security clearances withdrawn as well.

The decision came a day after Brennan, who headed the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency under Democratic President Barack Obama, leveled a blistering attack against Trump for the president’s tweeted criticism of former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, who wrote a book critical of Trump.

“It’s astounding how often you fail to live up to minimum standards of decency, civility, & probity. Seems like you will never understand what it means to be president, nor what it takes to be a good, decent, & honest person. So disheartening, so dangerous for our Nation,” Brennan wrote.

Trump, without mentioning specific comments made by Brennan, said the former CIA leader had engaged in “frenzied commentary” and had sought to “sow division and chaos” about the Trump administration.

“Mr. Brennan has recently leveraged his status as a former high-ranking official with access to highly sensitive information to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations – wild outbursts on the internet and television – about this administration,” Trump said.

Trump said he may also revoke the clearances of other critics, including former U.S. national intelligence director James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice, former National Security Agency director Michael Hayden and former deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, among others.

Brennan has frequently appeared on cable television news shows and punched out lashing tweets to attack Trump’s foreign policy positions.

FILE PHOTO: Former CIA Director John Brennan arrives for a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing evaluating the intelligence community assessment on “Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

He was particularly biting about the president’s joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki a month ago. Trump said he tended to believed Putin’s denials about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election despite the U.S. intelligence community view that Moscow was to blame.

Brennan in a tweet suggested Trump could be impeached, saying his performance in Helsinki “rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors’” and was “nothing short of treasonous.”

High-ranking government officials sometimes retain their security clearances after leaving office, allowing them the ability to provide advice as needed to their successors.

“At this point in my administration, any benefits that senior officials might glean from consultations with Mr. Brennan are now outweighed by the risks posed by his erratic conduct and behavior … That conduct and behavior has tested and far exceeded the limits of any professional courtesy that has been due to him,” Trump said.

A spokesman for Brennan declined to immediately comment.

Ned Price, a former National Security Council spokesman for Obama and former CIA official, said Trump was trying to shift public attention away from the critical book by Manigault Newman.

“The proximate target was John Brennan, but the real intent of today’s announcement was to simultaneously shift and silence,” he said.

“The White House knows as well as anyone that Brennan, in his criticism of Trump, has never disclosed classified information. And that’s always been the metric when it comes to a revocation of a clearance,” Price said.

Hayden, asked for his response to Trump’s announced review of his security clearance, replied in an email, “Meh.”

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“With regard to the implied threat today that I could lose my clearance, that will have no impact on what I think, say or write,” Hayden wrote. “If I were to lose my clearance, it would have a marginal impact on the work I do.”

Reporting by Steve Holland and Jeff Mason; additional reporting by Jonathan Landay; Editing by James Dalgleish and Tom Brown



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Twitter bans Alex Jones from tweeting for seven days

Twitter bans Alex Jones, Infowars from tweeting for seven days


(Reuters) – Twitter Inc has banned U.S. conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his website Infowars from tweeting for seven days, saying their tweets violated company’s rules against abusive behavior.

FILE PHOTO: Alex Jones from Infowars.com speaks during a rally in support of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump near the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

The microblogging site said it had asked Jones late Tuesday to delete the tweet that contained a video, which according to a company spokesman had a segment that is an “incitement to violence”.

As of Wednesday, the tweet has disappeared from his account.

The Infowars account repeated the same content that Jones had posted on Tuesday night and the company took a similar action on Wednesday, the spokesman said.

The temporary ban means Jones and Infowars can browse and send direct messages to followers, but would not be able to tweet, retweet, or like.

Twitter’s rules against abusive behavior says that a user may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone or incite other people to do so.

Last week, major tech companies including Apple, Alphabet’s YouTube, and Facebook took down podcasts and channels from the Infowars author, saying he broke community standards.

Reporting by Akanksha Rana and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Sriraj Kalluvila



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Qatar pledges $15 billion to Turkey as lira rallies

Qatar to aid Turkey, lira rallies, U.S. rejects lifting tariffs


ISTANBUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Wednesday ruled out removing steel tariffs that have contributed to a currency crisis in Turkey if Ankara frees a U.S. pastor, as Qatar pledged $15 billion in investment to Turkey, supporting a rise in the Turkish lira.

The White House stance appeared to give Turkish authorities little incentive to work for the release of Andrew Brunson, a pastor on trial in Turkey on terrorism charges and whose case Turkish officials have always said was a matter for the courts.

While the Brunson dispute appeared far from being resolved, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan got a shot in the arm from Qatar’s Emir, who approved a package of economic projects, investments and deposits after the two met in Ankara.

The Qatari money will be channeled into banks and financial markets, a Turkish government source told Reuters.

The move by Turkey’s Gulf ally offered further support to a lira rally after the Turkish central bank tightened liquidity and curbed selling of the currency.

The lira TRYTOM=D3 has lost nearly 40 percent against the dollar this year, driven by worries over Erdogan’s growing control over the economy and his repeated calls for lower interest rates despite high inflation.

The dispute with NATO partner the United States, focused on a tit-for-tat tariff row and Turkey’s detention of Brunson, helped turn the currency’s steady decline into meltdown.

It touched a record low of 7.24 to the dollar early on Monday, rattling global stock markets and threatening the stability of Turkey’s financial sector.

President Donald Trump doubled tariffs on Turkish metals exports to the United States last week prompting Turkey, which says it will not bow to threats, to raise tariffs on U.S. cars, alcohol and tobacco by the same amount on Wednesday.

The White House called the Turkish response a step in the wrong direction.

Speaking to reporters in Washington, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders also made clear that the United States had no plan to remove the steel tariffs if Brunson were released though it could remove those imposed on two senior Turkish officials.

Earlier this month The United States imposed sanctions on two top officials in Erdogan’s Cabinet in a new attempt to get NATO ally Turkey to turn over Branson, who is accused of backing a coup attempt against Erdogan two years ago.

“The tariffs that are in place on steel will not be removed with the release of pastor Brunson. The tariffs are specific to national security,” Sanders said. “The sanctions, however, that have been placed on Turkey are specific to pastor Brunson and others that we feel are being held unfairly, and we would consider that at that point.”

Turkey is ready to discuss its issues with the United States as long as there are no threats, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

Despite the political tensions, the lira rebounded some 6 percent on Wednesday, strengthening to around 6.0 to the dollar.

There was also optimism about better relations with the European Union after a Turkish court released two Greek soldiers pending trial. Cavusoglu said ties with the bloc, which have been strained in recent years, were on a firmer basis and had started normalizing.

A banking watchdog’s step to limit foreign exchange swap transactions also helped the currency.

“They are squeezing lira liquidity out of the system now and pushing interest rates higher,” said Cristian Maggio, head of emerging markets strategy at TD Securities.

“Rates have gone up by 10 percent … The central bank has not done this through a change in the benchmark rates, but they are squeezing liquidity, so the result is the same,” Maggio said.

The lira firmed as far as 5.75 against the dollar on Wednesday and stood at 6.030 at 1758 GMT.

“Remarkable turnaround,” Tim Ash, Bluebay Asset Management senior emerging markets analyst wrote in a client note after the banking watchdog BDDK cut the limit for Turkish banks’ forex swap, spot and forward transactions with foreign banks to 25 percent of equity.

An Apple store is pictured in Istanbul, Turkey August 15, 2018. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

“They are killing offshore lira liquidity to stop foreigners shorting the lira,” he said.

Turkey’s Capital Markets Board (SPK) later said it reduced leverage ratios until September 3 on new positions in foreign exchange markets to avoid fluctuations.

The finance minister will seek to reassure international investors on Thursday in a conference call for which a ministry official said some far 3,000 people had signed up.

The chief executive of Turkey’s Akbank said the banking sector remained strong and the measures taken to support the market had started to have an impact, adding there was no withdrawal of deposits.

SPAT WITH UNITED STATES

A decree signed by Erdogan doubled Turkish tariffs on U.S. imports of passenger cars to 120 percent, alcoholic drinks to 140 percent and leaf tobacco to 60 percent. Tariffs were also doubled on goods such as cosmetics, rice and coal.

The duties were raised in response to the U.S. administration’s “deliberate attacks on our economy,” Vice President Fuat Oktay said.

The United States was the fourth largest source of imports to Turkey last year, accounting for $12 billion, according to IMF statistics. Turkey’s exports to the United States, its fifth-largest export market, were $8.7 billion.

The two countries have been at loggerheads over diverging interests in Syria, Ankara’s ambition to buy Russian defense systems and Andrew Brunson, a pastor on trial in Turkey on terrorism charges.

Trump has repeatedly asked for Brunson’s release. On Wednesday, a court in Izmir, where Brunson is on trial, rejected his appeal to be released from house arrest. An upper court had yet to rule on the appeal, his lawyer told Reuters.

Erdogan has said Turkey is the target of an economic war, and made repeated calls for Turks to sell their dollars and euros. On Tuesday, he said Turkey would boycott U.S. electronic products.

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In another high-profile case, a Turkish court freed Taner Kilic, the local chair of Amnesty International, a researcher from the rights group said.

Additional reporting by Claire Milhench, Marc Jones and Martinne Geller in London, Orhan Coskun in Ankara; Writing by Dominic Evans, Arshad Mohammed; Editing by John Stonestreet



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Uber narrows loss but still a long way from profitability

Uber narrows loss but is a long way from finding profit


SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] said on Wednesday it narrowed its quarterly losses from a year earlier, although the ride-hailing company is still a long way from proving it can be profitable as it gears up to go public in 2019.

FILE PHOTO: An Uber logo is seen on a car as it car drives through Times Square in New York City, New York, U.S., July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

Under the leadership of Dara Khosrowshahi, who became chief executive in September, Uber has juggled investing in new markets while retreating from others where it was losing millions of dollars. It is building up services like food delivery and freight hauling as it seeks new revenue, and possibly a path to profitability, outside its core business.

Uber’s net loss narrowed to $891 million in its second quarter ending June 30 from $1.1 billion a year earlier. Its adjusted loss before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization was $614 million, down from $773 million a year earlier.

Net revenue rose more quickly than gross bookings in the second quarter from the prior period as the company dialed back on promotional subsidies of rides.

But its growth faces risks from decisions like that by New York City this month to cap licenses for ride-hailing services for one year. Uber has also had to grapple with corporate scandals and has lingering and costly legal battles, including over its classification of drivers as independent contractors, and federal probes to resolve.

“I remain unimpressed,” said Brent Goldfarb, associate professor of management and entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland. Improving losses by cutting “the lowest hanging fruit doesn’t mean the underlying model is profitable.”

The company’s most recent valuation was pegged earlier this year at $72 billion. But that was based on Uber becoming the global winner in ride-hailing and logistics, a vision it has retrenched from, and public investors may see a smaller company worth less.

Uber can expect a valuation haircut in an IPO if it does not show more progress toward becoming profitable, said David Brophy, professor of finance at the University of Michigan.

Adjusted losses in the first quarter were $312 million, excluding gains from Uber selling some overseas businesses to local competitors. The sale of its Russia and Southeast Asia operations resulted in a one-time $2.5 billion gain in the first quarter and lowered second-quarter costs.

Under pressure from its board, Uber has endeavored to find more savings after years of a growth-at-all-cost mentality under prior CEO Travis Kalanick, enabled by billions of dollars in private investment.

The company had $12 billion in quarterly gross bookings, which includes rides and Uber Eats, up 6 percent from the previous quarter and about 40 percent from a year before.

Net revenue, which strips out what gets paid to drivers as well as promotions and refunds, was $2.8 billion, up 8 percent over the first quarter and more than 60 percent from last year.

“We had another great quarter, continuing to grow at an impressive rate for a business of our scale,” Khosrowshahi said in a statement.

STICKING WITH INDIA, MIDDLE EAST

Uber is a private company and not required to publicly disclose financials, but recently boosted transparency by starting to release selected figures as it eyes an initial public offering.

Faced with criticism about flooding cities with cars, Uber is spending on bike and scooter rentals, including its acquisition of JUMP electric bikes in April.

While Uber has retreated from China, Southeast Asia and Russia, it says it is sticking with India and the Middle East, tough markets with strong local competitors.

“We are cementing our leadership position,” in India and the Middle East, Khosrowshahi said.

Several Uber investors have told Reuters they want Uber to leave these costly markets too and focus on North America, where U.S.-based Lyft continues to pose a threat, and pull back on ancillary businesses like Uber Freight.

Uber has $7.3 billion in cash on hand, up a billion dollars from the end of the first quarter. The company listed an inflow of $1.5 billion from term loan issuance, net of costs.

Reporting by Heather Somerville; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli



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U.S. and Mexico to set up joint team to fight drug cartels

U.S. and Mexico to set up joint team to fight drug cartels


CHICAGO (Reuters) – The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Mexico will set up a joint team in Chicago targeting Mexican drug cartels and their leaders and finances, to try to stem a flow of drugs that has led to a spike in U.S. overdose deaths, officials said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: An agent of the office of the Attorney General of Mexico carries a package of seized marijuana at the site of a passageway Mexican authorities on Thursday attributed to the cartel of fugitive kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in Tijuana, October 24, 2015. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes/File Photo

DEA Chief of Operations Anthony Williams said at a joint news conference with Mexican government officials in Chicago that targeting cartel finances was key because “the sole purpose of these entities is one thing and one thing only – money.”

Mexico remains the principal highway for cocaine to the United States and has become the top source of heroin, which is fueling a surge in opioid addiction in the United States. It is also a major supplier of methamphetamines.

“It’s not just a Chicago problem, it’s a national problem. Actually, it’s an international problem,” Brian McKnight, special agent in charge of the DEA’s Chicago Field Division, said at the news conference.

Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a left-leaning nationalist, has vowed to shake up Mexico’s war on drug cartels after he takes power in December. He wants to rewrite the rules, aides have said, suggesting negotiated peace and amnesties rather than a hardline strategy that critics say has only perpetuated violence.

However, a change of direction without the United States could increase friction between the neighbors, who have been often at loggerheads since Donald Trump became U.S. president.

Trump has irked Mexico with demands that it pay for a border wall and his comments that it does nothing to slow illegal immigration. He has also pushed to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to favor the United States.

But despite difference with the Trump administration on migration and trade issues, officials and security experts in the United States have applauded long-running bilateral efforts to crack down on drug gangs.

For the past 12 years, Mexico has fought the violent cartels by deploying thousands of police, soldiers and intelligence officers.

Reporting by Karen Pierog, Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Additional reporting by Dave Graham in Mexico City, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien



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Google provides data on U.S. political advertising

Google provides data on U.S. political advertising


(Reuters) – Google has added a section to its twice-yearly transparency report to show who buys U.S. election ads on its platform and how much money is spent on political advertising, the search engine giant said on Wednesday.

The brand logo of Alphabet Inc’s Google is seen outside its office in Beijing, China August 8, 2018. Picture taken with a fisheye lens. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

The move follows similar steps from Twitter (TWTR.N) and Facebook (FB.O) in late June, as social media platforms face the threat of U.S. regulation over the lack of disclosure on such spending.

The new data here from Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google gives details on advertisers who have spent more than $500 on political ads from May 31, 2018.

With a spend of $629,500, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a fundraising organization for President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, stood as the top U.S. political ad spender, according to the data.

Google said it would update the report every week and the public can view new ads that get uploaded or new advertisers that decide to run ads.

Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel



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U.S. and Mexico to set up joint team to fight drug cartels

U.S. and Mexico to set up joint team to fight drug cartels


CHICAGO (Reuters) – The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Mexico will set up a joint team based in Chicago to target Mexican drug cartels, their leaders, and finances, officials said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: An agent of the office of the Attorney General of Mexico carries a package of seized marijuana at the site of a passageway Mexican authorities on Thursday attributed to the cartel of fugitive kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in Tijuana, October 24, 2015. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes/File Photo

The team will aim to slow the flow of illegal drugs from Mexico into Chicago and other U.S. cities and stem a deadly drug epidemic hitting the United States, the U.S. officials said at a joint news conference.

Reporting by Jon Herskovitz, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien



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Trump revokes security clearance of former CIA director Brennan: White House

Trump revokes security clearance of former CIA director Brennan


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan on Wednesday, accusing Brennan of using his access to classified information to “sow division and chaos” about the Trump administration.

FILE PHOTO: Former CIA Director John Brennan arrives for a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing evaluating the intelligence community assessment on “Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

Trump announced the decision in a statement read by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders at her daily news briefing.

FILE PHOTO: Former CIA director John Brennan testifies before the House Intelligence Committee to take questions on “Russian active measures during the 2016 election campaign” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

Trump said he was also reviewing the security clearances of several other former ranking government officials, all of whom have criticized Trump, including former U.S. national intelligence director James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice, former National Security Agency director Michael Hayden and former deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, among others.

Brennan, who was director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency under Trump’s predecessor, Democratic President Barack Obama, has been a sharp critic of Trump, frequently appearing on cable television news shows to attack his foreign policy positions.

Trump’s statement said Brennan had engaged in “increasingly frenzied commentary” and abused his access to classified information by using it to “sow division and chaos.”

U.S. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. August 15, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

“At this point in my administration, any benefits that senior officials might glean from consultations with Mr. Brennan are now outweighed by the risks posed by his erratic conduct and behavior … That conduct and behavior has tested and far exceeded the limits of any professional courtesy that has been due to him,” Trump said.

A spokesman for Brennan declined to immediately comment.

The move against Brennan came a day after the former CIA director denounced Trump in a tweet for his criticism of Omarosa Manigault Newman, the former White House aide who wrote a book critical of the president.

“It’s astounding how often you fail to live up to minimum standards of decency, civility, & probity. Seems like you will never understand what it means to be president, nor what it takes to be a good, decent, & honest person. So disheartening, so dangerous for our Nation,” Brennan wrote.

Reporting by Steve Holland and Jeff Mason; Editing by James Dalgleish and Tom Brown



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Turkish finance minister says Turkey-Qatar will improve cooperation

Turkish finance minister says Turkey-Qatar will improve cooperation


ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey and Qatar will improve cooperation after Doha pledged to invest $15 billion in Turkey, Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak speaks during a presentation to announce his economic policy in Istanbul, Turkey August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Murad Sezer/File Photo

On Twitter, Albayrak also said Turkey will emerge stronger from the current economic situation, with rational policies, strong strategies and with friends and cooperation.

Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Catherine Evans



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