sexta-feira, 31 de março de 2017

Trump's aggressiveness toward Mexico could be good for everyone but the US

Pedro Nicolaci da Costa
Mauricio Macri Michel Temer Brazil Argentina president  
Argentine President Mauricio Macri, left, and his Brazilian counterpart, Michel Temer, after a meeting at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on February 7. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

It's not going be easy. But with President Donald Trump digging in his heels on his misguided antipathy to international trade, Latin American countries may have little choice but to look toward one another for greater commercial integration.
Indeed, it may be an opportunity, even if an awkward one, for the region's largest economies to begin looking at one another more as allies than as rivals.

Already, Mexico has entered talks with Argentina and Brazil for a possible deal on duty-free corn imports, a preemptive response to the Trump administration's promise to rip up the North America Free Trade Agreement and to impose tariffs on goods produced in Mexico.

The presidents of Brazil and Argentina have reaffirmed a commitment to regional integration, with Argentine President Mauricio Macri saying the South American trading bloc Mercosur would seek closer links with Mexico, along whose border Trump has threatened to build a security wall.

"This change in scenario will make Mexico turn to the South with more conviction," Macri said in a recent statement. Trump has already affirmed his antipathy to free trade by abandoning the long-fought Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement among 12 nations that included Mexico, Canada, and Japan.
At the same time, Chile is courting Argentina to enter its own Pacific alliance.

A new report from the International Monetary Fund emphasizes the potential benefits of closer relations among nations of the Americas minus the US.
"Latin American and the Caribbean can reap important growth benefits from further trade integration," the IMF report says. "With trade integration below that of other regions, there is scope for the region to increase trade as an engine of growth and help offset the weaker economic outlook without adversely affecting overall income inequality."

The IMF also emphasizes, perhaps having learned from the sometimes troubled experience of richer nations, that "strengthened social safety nets can help lessen adjustment costs linked to further integration and promote an equitable distribution of gains from trade."

A new book from the World Bank comes to a similar conclusion. It points to the more integrated experience of East Asia and the Pacific as an example for Latin America, which has often had more fractured and protectionist commercial relations internally.
"This book proposes a renewal of 'open regionalism' in Latin America and the Caribbean aimed at achieving the region's goals of high growth with stability," the authors write. "The forces of geography imply that pro-growth global integration cannot be achieved without building a strong neighborhood. The regional economic integration agenda needs to go well beyond the current spaghetti bowl of preferential trading arrangements."

Brian Winter, the editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly, also believes "a more insular United States may push Latin American countries to seek greater trade with each other."
He added: "That could mean a deepening of the Mercosur trade bloc, for example — or an eventual deal between Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance."

Facebook's $2 billion bet on virtual reality has been a fiasco (so far)

Sam Shead and Alex Heath
Palmer Luckey Oculus Oculus cofounder Palmer Luckey. Reuters

In 2014, 21-year-old Palmer Luckey sold his virtual reality company, Oculus, to Facebook for $2 billion (£1.6 billion). Since then his company has become a headache for Mark Zuckerberg.
Now, less than three years later, Luckey, 24, is on his way out of the social-media giant. In that time Oculus made headlines for all the wrong reasons:
  • The Daily Beast reported that Luckey was the backer of a conservative group dedicated to posting anti-Hillary Clinton memes.
  • Luckey's appearance on the cover of Time drew as many lampoons as it did praise.
  • Oculus was accused of stealing the technology its product is based on, and Facebook paid a further $500 million in legal costs.
  • Oculus sales have not hit expectations.
  • Luckey, Oculus' founder, was replaced as the leader of his own company by a more experienced executive.
The question that's likely to be on many people's minds is, "Was it Luckey's choice to leave, or was he fired?" A Facebook representative declined to comment on this matter.
But Luckey's departure, along with several other events at Oculus, suggests that Facebook's big VR bet has so far produced more headaches than victories.

What happened before Luckey left

Last September, The Daily Beast revealed that Luckey secretly funded a conservative group called Nimble America that created viral, anti-Hillary Clinton memes.
Nimble America said in its description that "we've proven that s---posting is powerful and meme magic is real." Luckey told The Daily Beast that Nimble America's work was "something that no campaign is going to run." One such example was an enlarged image of Clinton's face with the phrase "Too big to jail" alongside it.
Luckey, who has a net worth of about $730 million (£586 million), according to Forbes, acknowledged his involvement with Nimble America and said he ran a Reddit account under the pseudonym "NimbleRichMan." That pseudonym shows up on the Nimble America website, which describes Luckey as vice president. He later denied using the Reddit account.
"I've got plenty of money. Money is not my issue," Luckey told The Daily Beast. "I thought it sounded like a real jolly good time."
Following the revelation, multiple female employees resigned from Facebook, people familiar with the matter told Business Insider.
Before The Daily Beast's article, Luckey was the public face of Oculus and regularly made media appearances on behalf of the company. 

palmer luckey time magazine cover 
Luckey on the front cover of Time.Time Magazine

He even made the front cover of Time magazine (wearing no shoes) in August 2015. The image was widely mocked, and it brought about many unflattering uses of Photoshop.
He has been keeping a low profile ever since.
He was absent from Oculus' annual developer conference in October and not mentioned when Oculus restructured its leadership team in December.

Lawsuit and Xiaomi hire highlights issues deep inside Oculus

In January, Zuckerberg hired Xiaomi executive Hugo Barra to lead all of Facebook's virtual reality efforts, suggesting that Facebook wanted to give the Oculus project some adult supervision.
Luckey's last public appearance on behalf of Oculus was in February, when he testified in a Dallas lawsuit by the game maker ZeniMax that claimed Oculus was based on stolen technology.
The jury found Oculus to be guilty of patent infringement and ordered Facebook to pay $500 million (£401 million) in damages. The jury also found that Luckey violated a signed nondisclosure agreement with ZeniMax during Oculus' early days. He was personally ordered to pay $50 million (£40 million) for false designation.

Oculus Rift sales failed to meet expectations

Facebook was heralded by the media as one of the tech industry's leaders in virtual reality when it acquired Oculus three years ago, but early sales of VR headsets have since fallen short of Zuckerberg's expectations.
When Zuckerberg was asked about Facebook's VR and augmented-reality efforts during a conference in February, he said "we're a little behind from where we want to be."
He added that the delayed shipments of the company's Oculus Rift VR headset and touch controllers were a "disappointment" and that VR sales "won't be profitable for quite a while."
Facebook has yet to reveal how many units of its more expensive Oculus Rift headset have been sold, but competitors like HTC and Sony have also made early market-share inroads and put pressure on Oculus.
Samsung recently confirmed that it had sold 5 million of its lightweight Gear VR headsets to date, all of which run Oculus software. A report from SuperData Research last month said total VR revenue from 2016 was $1.8 billion (£1.5 billion), with 6.3 million devices sold.

quinta-feira, 30 de março de 2017

PF deflagra 39ª fase da Lava Jato e executa mandados no Rio

A Polícia Federal deflagrou na manhã desta terça-feira (28) a 39ª fase da Lava Jato, batizada de Operação Paralelo. Autorizada pela 13ª Vara Federal de Curitiba, do juiz Sérgio Moro, a etapa inclui um mandado de prisão preventiva sendo executado no Rio de Janeiro e cinco de busca e apreensão. A ação teria como alvo irregularidades cometidas no mercado financeiro.
A 38ª fase da Lava Jato havia sido deflagrada em 23 de fevereiro, com o nome de Blackout, para investigar o pagamento de US$ 40 milhões em propinas pelos operadores financeiros Jorge e Bruno Luz, pai e filho presos em Miami pela Interpol.
Os subornos teriam beneficiado sobretudo peemedebistas, incluindo senadores. Até aqui, a Lava Jato já executou mais de 180 mandados de prisão preventiva ou temporária, 205 de condução coercitiva e cerca de 750 de busca e apreensão.
Segundo dados da PF, mais de R$ 745 milhões em bens já foram repatriados,

Ação que pode cassar chapa Dilma-Temer entra na reta final: e agora?

O processo que pode cassar o presidente Michel Temer está prestes a entrar em sua fase final no Tribunal Superior Eleitoral (TSE). O julgamento pode ter início já na próxima semana, informou a assessoria da corte na segunda-feira (27).
PSDB pediu ao TSE cassação de chapa Dilma-Temer no final de 2014
PSDB pediu ao TSE cassação de chapa Dilma-Temer no final de 2014
Após pouco mais de dois anos de o PSDB ter pedido a anulação da eleição de Dilma Rousseff presidente e de Temer vice, devido a supostas ilegalidades na campanha eleitoral, o ministro relator do caso, Herman Benjamin, liberou ontem o relatório final do processo (um resumo com os principais pontos da ação em 1.086 páginas) para os demais integrantes da corte.
Ele telefonou na segunda-feira para o presidente do TSE, Gilmar Mendes, e informou que o processo estará pronto para julgamento assim que o Ministério Público apresentar sua última manifestação, o que ocorrerá até esta quarta. Nesse tipo de ação, a lei determina que Mendes deve marcar o julgamento já na sessão seguinte à liberação do voto do relator.
A velocidade de Herman Benjamin surpreendeu. Em entrevista recente à BBC Brasil, Mendes disse que o início do julgamento poderia ficar para o segundo semestre.
Entenda abaixo o processo e seus possíveis desfechos.

Que processo é esse?

No final de 2014, o PSDB pediu ao TSE a cassação da chapa Dilma-Temer. A principal acusação - baseada em revelações da Operação Lava Jato - era de que a campanha petista tinha recebido vultosas doações de empreiteiras clientes da Petrobras e que esses recursos seriam na verdade propinas pagas com recursos desviados da estatal.
"Os benefícios dos recursos ilícitos recebidos são imensuráveis e, a toda evidência, desequilibram o pleito e afetam a legitimidade e a normalidade das eleições", destacaram os advogados tucanos no pedido inicial.
Outras denúncias envolviam também o suposto uso da máquina pública em favor da reeleição de Dilma.
Herman Benjamin é o relator do processo no TSE
Herman Benjamin é o relator do processo no TSE

O que foi apurado?

O TSE demorou quase um ano para decidir se havia indícios suficientes de ilegalidades para abrir um processo contra a chapa Dilma-Temer, o que aconteceu em outubro de 2015.
Desde então, ocorreu a fase de instrução do processo, ou seja, a investigação e produção de provas. Foram ouvidas 58 testemunhas e realizadas perícias em gráficas contratadas pela campanha, suspeitas de terem servido como meio de desvio de recursos.
Deram depoimentos delatores que fizeram acordo com a Operação Lava Jato e integrantes da campanha petista, como o ex-ministro Edinho Silva, que atuou como tesoureiro.
As acusações mais fortes constam dos depoimentos de executivos da Odebrecht realizados neste ano e que estão em sigilo.
Segundo reportagens da imprensa brasileira, Marcelo Odebrecht, ex-presidente do grupo, disse ao TSE que a empreiteira doou R$ 150 milhões para a chapa presidencial eleita em 2014, sem esclarecer quanto seria caixa 2 ou propina. Desse total, R$ 50 milhões teriam sido repassados em contrapartida pela aprovação de uma Medida Provisória que beneficiava o grupo.
Ainda segundo jornais brasileiros, outro executivo da Odebrecht disse que também negociou com Edinho Silva repasses de R$ 7 milhões a cinco partidos que estavam coligados ao PT na campanha, o que teria consistido numa "compra" por aliança e tempo de TV.

O que diz a defesa?

Os advogados de Dilma e Temer negam qualquer ilegalidade na campanha. Eles também reclamam da condução final da instrução do processo, já que o ministro Herman Benjamin não autorizou depoimentos de testemunhas de defesa que poderiam rebater acusações levantadas pelos executivos da Odebrecht.
Ambas as defesas também solicitaram a anulação dos depoimentos dos executivos da Odebrecht, já que as testemunhas foram ouvidas após vazamentos ilegais de trechos de acordos de delação na Lava Jato.
"Defendemos que os depoimentos da Odebrecht não têm validade. Mas se decidir isso (que valem), tem que ter contraditório para a defesa. Não é possível que num processo dessa importância só se ouve um lado. Só se ouviu Odebrecht, não se ouviu mais ninguém", disse à BBC Brasil o advogado de Dilma Flávio Caetano.
Segundo ele, as provas apresentadas pela empreiteira são pífias.
"Anotação do celular do Marcelo Odebrecht feita por ele mesmo, sem participação de ninguém, anotação de agenda com códigos que ninguém decifra. Impossível isso ser prova", argumentou.
"Prova se faz com a participação do outro. Então teria que dizer quem recebeu, quem pagou, aonde foi. Nada disso foi apresentado", afirmou ainda.

O julgamento pode durar quanto tempo?

Isso é imprevisível, já que ministros podem pedir vista do processo, para analisar melhor a ação. Na Justiça Eleitoral, esses pedidos em geral duram poucas semanas.
Além disso, embora seja improvável que Benjamin recue e atenda os pedidos da defesa, esses recursos também devem ser analisados pelos demais seis integrantes da cortes, quando tiver início o julgamento. Se a maioria considerar que mais testemunhas precisam ser ouvidas, por exemplo, isso poderia reabrir a fase de produção de provas, alongando o processo.

Quem vai julgar o processo?

Gilmar Mendes é amigo pessoal de Temer e presidente do TSE
Gilmar Mendes é amigo pessoal de Temer e presidente do TSE
O TSE é formado por sete ministros: três fazem parte do STF (Gilmar Mendes, Rosa Weber e Luiz Fux), dois do STJ (Herman Benjamin e Napoleão Nunes) e dois vêm da advocacia (Henrique Neves e Luciana Lóssio). Estes últimos são nomeados pelo presidente da República, a partir de uma lista tríplice eleita pelo Supremo.
Estão prestes a serem concluídos os mandatos de Henrique Neves (16 de abril) e de Luciana Lóssio (5 de maio), mas se o processo começar realmente na próxima semana eles ainda poderão votar.

O que é preciso para cassar a chapa presidencial?

Para que uma chapa eleita seja cassada não basta que fique provado que houve ilegalidade na campanha, é preciso que ela tenha sido suficientemente grave para interferir na lisura do pleito, violando o direito ao voto, explica a professora de Direito Eleitoral da FGV-Rio Silvana Batini. Essa é a avaliação que será feita pelos ministros.
A BBC Brasil conversou com juristas e integrantes do TSE sobre essa questão. Um dos pontos levantados, por exemplo, é se o recebimento de caixa 2 seria suficiente para cassar a chapa, tendo em vista que também há suspeitas envolvendo a campanha derrotada, do PSDB.
"Se os dois lados tiverem recebido, isso interferiu no resultado da eleição? É uma questão que terá que ser analisada", explicou um deles.
Em entrevista ao jornal Folha de S.Paulo publicada no domingo, Gustavo Guedes, advogado do presidente Temer, disse que os valores que têm sido apontados nas denúncias corresponderiam a uma fração pequena do total gasto na campanha (R$ 350 milhões, segundo a declaração da chapa ao TSE) e não seriam suficientes para interferir na eleição.
"A premissa do direito eleitoral é sempre manter a vontade popular. Eu só posso desconstituir isso se achar determinadas condutas decisivas para a alteração do resultado eleitoral", ressaltou.
Já o PSDB, na ação que deu início ao processo, destaca que Dilma e Temer venceram por pequena margem de votos ("diferença de apenas 2,28%") e que, por isso, a "legitimidade dos reeleitos é extremamente tênue".
Após o impeachment de Dilma, porém, o partido perdeu interesse na cassação da chapa, já que faz parte do governo de Temer. Em sua manifestação final, os advogados do PSDB isentaram o atual presidente de qualquer responsabilidade e apontaram Dilma como única culpada.

É possível cassar a chapa e manter Temer como presidente?

O julgamento pode cassar a chapa Dilma /Temer
O julgamento pode cassar a chapa Dilma /Temer
Uma das estratégias da defesa de Temer para tentar evitar sua cassação é argumentar que ele, individualmente, não teve papel determinante na captação de recursos e não cometeu qualquer ilegalidade.
A tese é considerada fraca por juristas: como presidente e vice são eleitos juntos, pelos mesmos votos, o entendimento predominante é que a chapa é indivisível. Se ficar comprovado grave abuso de poder econômico, a eleição é anulada e ambos perdem o cargo, independentemente da responsabilidade de cada nas ilegalidades.

Segundo a professora Silvana Batini, nunca houve decisão da Justiça Eleitoral no sentido de considerar ilegal uma campanha e cassar apenas o cabeça de chapa, preservando o vice, em casos de processos contra prefeitos e governadores.
Além de decidir sobre a anulação ou não do pleito eleitoral, os ministros também vão analisar se Dilma e Temer tiveram responsabilidade direta em alguma ilegalidade e devem ficar inelegíveis por oito anos.
Nessa caso, sim, pode haver separação das responsabilidades: a punição independe da cassação da chapa e pode ser aplicada a ambos, a apenas um deles ou a nenhum dos dois. Por exemplo, o TSE pode concluir que houve ilegalidade na campanha, cometida pelos tesoureiros, mas que Dilma e Temer não sabiam do ato ilícito.

terça-feira, 28 de março de 2017

'Stop shaking your head': Sean Spicer unloads on reporter who asks about Trump-Russia connections

Allan Smith
Sean Spicer 

 Sean Spicer. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, got into a heated exchange with a White House correspondent during Tuesday's press briefing, telling the reporter to "stop shaking your head" and to "report the facts."
April Ryan, of American Urban Radio Networks, asked Spicer near the tail end of his briefing what the White House was doing to try to repair its image as numerous controversies and investigations regarding Russia's meddling in the 2016 election and President Donald Trump's team's potential cooperation with it were at center stage.

"You don't seem so happy," Ryan said in a joking manner to Spicer as she was prefacing her question. "With all of these investigations ... questions of what is 'is,' how does this administration try to revamp its image, two and a half months in?"
She mentioned the Russia controversy as well as Trump's unfounded claims that President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower before the election.
"I've said it from the day that I got here until whatever that there is no connection," Spicer said. "You've got Russia!"
"If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that's a Russian connection," he continued.

"I appreciate your agenda here," he added. "Hold on. At some point, report the facts!"
Spicer said Republicans and Democrats alike had said there was not evidence pointing to the Trump team's collusion with Russia in election meddling.
"I'm sorry that that disgusts you," Spicer told Ryan. "You're shaking your head."

"Understand this: At some point, the facts are what they are," he said. "And every single person who's been briefed on this situation have all come to the same conclusion. At some point, April, you're going to have to take 'no' for an answer with respect to whether or not there was collusion."

Ryan went back to her original question, which was about how the administration hoped to change the perception of the White House. Spicer said it would keep "doing everything we are doing" with regard to carrying out the Trump agenda.
The reporter then followed up with a question about the president meeting with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whom she pointed out Trump made a vulgar comment about in 2006 and whom she said did not support Trump in the run-up to the general election.
Spicer, dismayed, went back to lambasting Ryan.

"April, hold on, it seems like you're hell-bent on trying to make sure that whatever image you want to tell about this White House stays," he said, later adding, "Stop shaking your head again."
He said Trump was continuing to reach out to people who had disagreed with him in the past, adding "we're bringing groups together."

segunda-feira, 27 de março de 2017

The top 5 predictions for the future of digital

Micahel Seto/Business Insider

The future of digital is rapidly transforming right before our very eyes.

Digital is inheriting the earth, and the generational shift is in full force as millennials and Gen X grow older and smartphones, computers, and tablets become the go-to options for media consumption.
But the rise of digital won't just affect news. Advertising and television will also face major disruption in the coming years.

For the past seven years, IGNITION, Business Insider’s flagship conference, has collected the best minds in media and technology to share what they see as the future. Through unscripted interviews, cutting-edge demos, and insights from industry pioneers, attendees learn what key trends to be aware of and what they need to do to stay ahead.

Henry Blodget opened the latest sold-out IGNITION conference with a presentation entitled The Future of Digital: The Next Big Thing. And he should know...Blodget is co-founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief of Business Insider, one of the most-read business and tech news sites in the world with more than 80 million visitors a month worldwide.

The presentation was put together with the help of the team at BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service.
In the presentation, Blodget details where the future of digital is likely headed.
Here are some of the key takeaways:
  • Digital media consumption is growing. Everything else is shrinking.
  • Digital advertising is growing. Everything else is flat.
  • It's Google, Facebook, and then everyone else.
  • Traditional TV has passed its peak, but TV won't die.
  • The next big thing isn't smartwatches or glasses or even virtual reality.
  • And much more.

domingo, 26 de março de 2017

Câmara: comissão para reforma da Previdência faz última reunião

Antes de ir ao plenário da Câmara, projeto de reforma da Previdência ainda deve passar por mais duas comissões
Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil - 22.3.2017

Antes de ir ao plenário da Câmara, projeto de reforma da Previdência ainda deve passar por mais duas comissões
As reformas trabalhista e da Previdência devem dominar a pauta de debates na Câmara dos Deputados nesta semana, quando as comissões permanentes retoma efetivamente os trabalhos. Ainda assim, a discussão sobre as mudanças na legislação eleitoral e os desdobramentos da Operação Carne Fraca também devem ser destaques na agenda desta semana da Câmara.

A comissão especial que discute o projeto de reforma da Previdência realizará na próxima terça-feira (28) sua última audiência pública. O tema da discussão será os impactos das mudanças nas regras para a aposentadoria para o orçamento público do país. Há a expectativa de que o ministro da Fazenda, Henrique Meirelles, seja o último a ser ouvido no colegiado.

As propostas de mudanças na Previdência devem ser debatidas também nas comissões da Seguridade Social e Família e na de Defesa dos Direitos do Idoso. Os presidentes das respectivas comissões já declararam que a reforma será um dos temas prioritários ao longo de todo o ano na definição de pautas dos colegiados.

A reforma trabalhista deve pautar a agenda da Comissão de Trabalho e ainda segue em discussão na comissão especial do tema, que realiza esta semana outra audiência pública para discutir o direito comparado. Nesta audiência, participarão representantes do Tribunal Superior do Trabalho (TST), institutos de pesquisa econômica e demográfica, além da Organização Internacional do Trabalho (OIT).

Did the Air Force Dash Hopes for Building More F-22s?


When the F-22 Raptor production line ceased in 2011, Air Force Lt. Col. Daniel thought the Pentagon had made a huge mistake. He was driving in his car in 2009 when he found out "the Raptor fleet is done at 187, and I remember thinking, 'This is not great.' I thought it was an error."

Because, "more is better than less, right?" said the F-22 pilot of the 95th Fighter Squadron. He spoke to on the condition that his last name not be used, due to safety concerns amid ongoing air operations against the Islamic State. recently sat down with a few pilots and a maintainer at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, as part of a trip to observe fifth-generation F-22s flying with fourth-generation F/A-18 Hornets for training.

The Air Force originally wanted 381 Raptors. Had the service acquired that many of the stealthy twin-engine fighters from Lockheed Martin Corp., life nowadays might be slightly less hectic for the service members who fly and maintain them.
More of the F-22 fleet could "mitigate [operations] tempo, and we're always on the road so if we had more Raptors, there'd be more Raptor squadrons, more Raptor maintainers that would mitigate some training and operational demands," Daniel said.

"That's exactly right," he said. "But these decisions are above my pay grade."
Daniel added, "Of course, there's a huge cost with that."
He's right. Indeed, cost was the driving factor behind then-Defense Secretary Bob Gates' decision to push for the Pentagon to prematurely stop buying the aircraft.
According to a 2010 RAND study, to restart the F-22 production line to build 75 more of the jets would cost about $20 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars.
To build a new Raptor -- not a 1990s version -- "you're not building the same airplane you were building before, and it becomes a much more expensive proposition," a defense analyst in Washington, D.C. told on background on Thursday.

"So do you build a new ‘old’ F-22, or do you build an improved one?" the analyst said.
And that figure is a rough estimate to restart a marginal lot of planes. It doesn't take into account the cost of hiring workers, integrating newer stealth technologies, or training and equipping additional pilots.
Preparing Raptor pilots to fly from the nest takes time, too.

"To make a really good F-22 pilot, I need about seven to eight years to get him to where he is fully employing a jet and can actually quarterback the whole fight," Daniel said.
But as the Air Force weighs retiring its F-15C/D fleet sometime in the mid-2020s (though lawmakers in Congress will have a say in the matter), many defense experts question how the service plans to maintain its air superiority. For example, will the F-22 eventually take over the role of the F-15 Eagle? If so, will Raptor pilots be more in demand than ever?

The questions aren't abstract. Both the active-duty component and Air National Guard are considering retiring the Boeing-made Eagle, service officials told the House Armed Services Subcommittee during a hearing on Wednesday. The F-16 Fighting Falcon could take over missions from the F-15, they said.
Rep. Martha McSally, an Arizona Republican and former Air Force officer who flew the A-10 Thunderbolt II ground-attack aircraft, said "prior to the F-22, [the F-15] was the best at air-to-air." The F-16, a fixed-wing, single-engine, fourth-generation platform, "doesn't bring the same capability," she said.

The reference by Air Force officials to F-16 rather than F-22 during the hearing also caught the analyst by surprise.
"Why didn't the Air Force say F-22 restart?" he said during a telephone interview. "Why did they leak that they're looking to replace it with F-16s instead of using it as a case to examine F-22 restart?"

One reason might be because the Senate hasn't yet confirmed Heather Wilson, a former Congresswoman nominated by President Donald Trump, to become the next Air Force Secretary, the analyst said. Until she's confirmed, "the Air Force is worried about making any major decisions," he said.

Another reason might be because Air Force leaders have zero interest in restarting the F-22 production line. The reference to F-16 may suggest "this is the end for F-22 restart story -- not the beginning of it," he said.
Earlier this week, officials at Lockheed -- which produces the F-16 and F-22 -- told DefenseOne it plans to move the F-16 production line to South Carolina from Fort Worth, Texas, where it built the single-engine fighters for more than 40 years.

As of Sept. 30, the Air Force had 949 Fighting Falcons, according to Air Force inventory figures obtained by
By comparison, the service has less than half as many Eagles and F-15E Strike Eagles. The F-15 inventory totals 456 aircraft and is split almost evenly between the two variants, with 236 of the older Eagles, including 212 one-seat F-15C models and 24 two-seat F-16D models, according to the service data.

"F-15C/D is just one job," the analyst said of the all-weather, tactical fighter. "The Air Force is going to make the same argument it made on the A-10, which is, 'As we look around the Air Force to save money, we're going to retire things that have one job.'
"The F-16 is multi-role … and the F-16 has grown significantly since it was just a little squirt under the F-15's wing," he said.

For example, in December, Raytheon Co. was awarded a contract to upgrade the F-16 computer system as part of the Modular Mission Computer Upgrade, which features "more than two times the current processing power and 40 times the current memory, equipping USAF pilots with near-fifth-generation aircraft computing power," the company said in a release at the time.

Just this past week, the Air Force announced the 416th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base in California has begun testing F-16s equipped with Northrop Grumman's APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar, a fifth-generation Active Electronically Scanned Array fire-control radar.
"It is intended to replace currently used APG-66 and APG-68 radars and provide the F-16 with advanced capabilities similar to fifth-generation fighters like the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II," the service said in a release.

The Air Force claims it has the capacity in the F-16C community "to recapitalize … radar to serve the same function as the F-15 has done and thereby reduce the different systems that we have to sustain and operate, so that makes it more efficient," said Maj. Gen. Scott D. West, director of current operations and the service’s deputy chief of staff for operations at the Pentagon.
The effort will help minimize the number of systems pilots operate, West said during the hearing on Capitol Hill.

As for the Eagle, Air National Guard Director Lt. Gen. Scott Rice told that any planned upgrades will be fulfilled. However, the Air Force may want to look at the next block of upgrades to save on future sustainment and operational costs, he said.
Rice said he believes the Air Force is getting beyond comparing aircraft platforms, "especially in the digital age" when looking at the platforms as systems and "how they integrate is as important and, in the future, will be even more important than the platform itself," he said.

The F-16 is a "less capable dogfighter than the F-15," the analyst added, "but at the same time the question is, 'How realistic is it that you're going to have a single F-16 without any help'" from other fighter jets? "That's not how we plan to fly," he said.
Last year, the House Armed Services Air and Land Forces subcommittee tasked the Air Force to issue a study of what it would take to get the F-22 line up and running again.

Whether the official study has been completed, "preliminary assessment showed it was cost prohibitive to reopen the F-22 line," an Air Force spokeswoman told on Thursday, in line with RAND's study.
Even so, Lockheed is offering advice on what it would take to do so, said John Cottam, F-22 program deputy for the company in Fort Worth.

"They have come to us and have asked us for inputs into that study, so we have been working very hard with them, in concert with them to provide that data," he said last month. "With this new administration, they have priorities that are putting Americans back to work and making America strong, so we believe that what the Air Force provides could very easily resonate with the administration's policies."
Cottam added, "As time goes on, if the report isn't delivered [to Congress], we can then keep delivering our responses and making it more and more refined."
Meanwhile, Raptor pilots can't help but wonder if newly minted aircraft will again come off the production line.

In any exercise, pilots show up the first couple of days, "integrate with other platforms -- everyone's trying to learn," Daniel said. "By the end of the first week, everybody realized we need about 30 more F-22s in the lane because as soon as the F-22s leave, people start to die in the air-to-air fight."
Daniel said, "It's always disappointing that we don't have more, or don't have more missiles, more gas -- it's always frustrating as an F-22 pilot when you hear, 'Bingo, bingo,' and you're out of missiles and you go home and you start hearing other planes getting shot down."

The stealth, the speed, the "unfair amount of information the jet provides to us … .it's magic," he said.
Even with oncoming upgrades to the F-16, many fighter pilots and others question whether a fourth-generation fighter will -- or could -- ever step up to such a role.
-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

Trump signals new hope for ObamaCare overhaul, says 'Do not worry!'

Joseph Weber

President Trump hinted Saturday that overhauling ObamaCare is still alive, perhaps through a bipartisan deal, following the effort’s dramatic and seemingly terminal failure a day earlier.

“ObamaCare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE,” Trump tweeted. “Do not worry!”
Trump tweeted after House Speaker Paul Ryan on Friday cancelled the final vote for the ObamaCare replacement bill, upon concluding he didn’t have enough votes despite the chamber’s GOP majority.

“We’re going to be living with ObamaCare for the foreseeable future,” the Wisconsin Republican said afterward, making clear that neither he nor Trump intend to introduce new legislation.

Meanwhile, Trump appeared to already be turning his attention to tax reform and returning to his plan to allow ObamaCare to continue -- with the expectation that the 2010 health care law would implode amid increasing costs and few options for US people.

Still, his tweet Saturday suggested a potential willingness to work on a bipartisan plan on overhauling ObamaCare -- albeit a scenario in which Democrats come to the GOP-controlled Congress to work together on improvements.
Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan on Saturday seemed open to such discussions, acknowledging that ObamaCare indeed has problems, including too few tax credits for poor Americans to help them pay for the insurance.

“ObamaCare is not perfect. We need to fix things” he said on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” “This is all fixable if we sit down as reasonable people.”
Louisiana GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy told Fox News' "America's News Headquarters" on Saturday that he agrees with Trump's tweet, suggesting a bipartisan effort. 

sábado, 25 de março de 2017

Michel Temer fala que decisão da China mostra confiança no Brasil

O presidente da República, Michel Temer, afirmou que a decisão da China de reabrir o mercado para a exportação de carnes do Brasil reconhece a confiabilidade do sistema de defesa agropecuário do País. Após mais de sete dias de embargo aos produtos brasileiros, a China voltou atrás em sua decisão , segundo informou neste sábado (25) o  Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento.
Leia também: Brasil tem prejuízo de US$ 40 milhões em suas exportações em apenas uma semana
Michel Temer afirma que decisão da China mostra confiança no Brasil
Alan Santos/PR 16.01.2017
Michel Temer afirma que decisão da China mostra confiança no Brasil
Depois do anúncio chinês que enfatizou a “reabertura total do mercado de carnes brasileiras”, Michel Temer, por meio de nota oficial, afirmou a decisão da China, um dos principais mercados importador de carnes do Brasil, é resultado de todo o trabalho do governo nos últimos dias em esclarecer os fatos acerca da Operação Carne Fraca, da Polícia Federal, deflagrada no dia 17 de março e que envolveu 21 frigoríficos brasileiros.  Ele ressaltou também os esforços contínuos com outros parceiros comerciais do Brasil.
“Nosso País construiu grande reputação internacional neste segmento. E o posicionamento chinês é a confirmação de todo trabalho de esclarecimento levado a termo pelo governo brasileiro nestes últimos dias em todos os continentes”, diz Temer na nota.
O presidente também faz um agradecimento o governo do presidente chinês, Xi Jinping, pela decisão anunciada neste sábado (25). “Temos uma parceria que gerou muitos frutos e, com certeza, muitos ganhos ainda teremos com a sólida relação entre nossas nações. Estamos plenamente confiantes de que outros países seguirão o exemplo da China”, disse.
Leia também: Ministro confirma que "líder de esquema" com frigoríficos foi indicado pelo PMDB

Leia a integra da nota:

“A decisão do governo da China de reabrir o seu mercado à proteína animal produzida no Brasil é o reconhecimento da confiabilidade de nosso sistema de defesa agropecuária. Nosso país construiu grande reputação internacional neste segmento. E o posicionamento chinês é a confirmação de todo trabalho de esclarecimento levado a termo pelo governo brasileiro nestes últimos dias em todos os continentes. Agradecemos o gesto do governo do presidente Xi Jinping. Temos uma parceria que gerou muitos frutos e, com certeza, muitos ganhos ainda teremos com a sólida relação bilateral entre nossas nações. Estamos plenamente confiantes que outros países seguirão o exemplo da China.
Michel Temer"
*Com informações da Agência Brasil
Leia também: Juiz diz que foco da Operação Carne Fraca é apurar casos de corrupção

Think the United States has weak sanctions on Iran? Think again.

Doreen Edelman, opinion contributor

U.S. persons remain prohibited from doing business in or with Iran despite implementation of the Iranian nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The JCPOA negotiations involved China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, the European Union, and Iran. They were completed in 2015. Under the JCPOA, the United States withdrew some of its nuclear-related secondary sanctions in exchange for Iran's compliance. However, the primary prohibitions and restrictions of the Iran sanctions program that affect U.S. persons and entities remain in place today.

The Iran sanctions program dates from right after the Iranian Revolution and the U.S. hostage crisis. President Clinton expanded the sanctions in 1995 when he issued a comprehensive ban on U.S. trade and investment in Iran under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). Since that time numerous executive orders, laws, and regulations have come into effect that have strengthened economic and trade sanctions on Iran.

Recent reports give the impression that most sanctions against Iran are related to the JCPOA. Actually, the JCPOA only removed or modified existing U.S. law regarding secondary sanctions. Secondary sanctions target non-U.S. persons for wholly non-U.S. conduct that occurs entirely outside of U.S. jurisdiction. Primary sanctions, on the other hand, reach only persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

Current primary sanctions prohibit both direct and indirect transactions, purchases, sales, or services to or with Iran without a license or an applicable exception. This means that U.S. entities cannot export to, import from, provide services to, or support or facilitate any transactions with or in Iran. Even a paper clip can’t be sold or shipped to Iran by a U.S. person. U.S. banks are prohibited from processing Iranian transactions, cutting off Iran from direct access to the dollar. Unlike several other sanctions programs, these primary sanctions also apply to foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies, although there is a very restrictive general license under which they now may operate.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has a few other general licenses which allow U.S. persons to do some limited business with Iran, for example, for legal work and transferring inheritance assets. There is one general license for agricultural products, medical products, and devices. General licenses also exist for some commercial passenger aircraft and related parts and services, and for importation of Iranian-origin carpets and foodstuffs. All general licenses are very narrowly tailored, subject to several conditions, and require documentation.

The JCPOA did not remove all secondary sanctions. While it did terminate provisions in some executive orders, freeing foreign individuals to conduct business more freely with Iran in select sectors, there are several secondary sanctions that are not covered by the JCPOA and remain in place. Secondary sanctions continue to apply to non-U.S. persons who conduct business with individuals and entities on its designated persons lists, including the specially designated nationals (SDN), foreign sanctions evaders, and non-SDN Iran sanctions lists. For instance, foreign financial institutions who knowingly facilitate transactions with Iranian SDNs are still subject to secondary sanctions.

Additionally, the president and OFAC have authority to designate foreign persons and companies to any one of the designated persons lists described above. For instance, the day after sanctions relief pursuant to the JCPOA was implemented, OFAC listed eleven individuals and entities. If an Iranian person or entity is on one of the numerous government lists, then U.S. persons, and, depending on the program, foreign persons, are not allowed to do business with such persons or entities nor, arguably, with any person who does business with such persons or entities.

Moreover, designation can occur under sanctions programs that do not directly target Iran, but which often affect Iranian entities and individuals, such as programs that target proliferators of weapons of mass destruction, supporters of terrorism, and human rights abusers. Again, these programs remain in place even after the JCPOA.
Demonstrating his authority and willingness to act under these programs, President Trump responded to Iran’s testing of medium-range ballistic missiles on Jan. 29 and Feb. 3 by designating 25 entities and individuals under the weapons of mass destruction and terrorism sanctions. These individuals, who appeared to be affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) included a number of non-Iranian actors, and some in China, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates.

Additionally, OFAC has made it clear that it will continue to rigorously enforce existing sanctions. As a demonstration of just how tough the United States will continue to be against Iran, OFAC recently announced its largest settlement ever against a non-financial institution. The Chinese corporate organization collectively known as ZTE, settled with OFAC on March 7 for nearly $1.2 billion.
Doreen Edelman is a trade attorney and co-leader of the global business team at Baker Donelson. She has more than 25 years of experience advising companies on import and export compliance, foreign investment and global expansion.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.