Europe Responds Swiftly to US Tariffs, Threatens Retaliation

Reaction to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from American trading partners — including the European Union — came fast and furious, with threats of retaliation and warnings they risk sparking a trans-Atlantic trade war. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the European bloc would respond by imposing penalties of its own on American exports. “Today is a bad day for world trade,” said Cecilia Malmström, the European trade commissioner. EU officials previously informed the World Trade Organization of the bloc’s plan to levy duties on $7.2 billion worth of U.S. exports if the Trump administration proceeded with threats to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum. Canadian and Mexican officials also threatened retaliatory responses but have as yet not indicated which U.S. products they will target. Both countries had hoped that the White House would continue to exempt them from the tariffs.  National security cited Europe, along with Canada and Mexico, had been granted a temporary reprieve from the U.S. tariffs after they were unveiled in March by Trump, who said the levies were needed to stem the flood of cheap steel and aluminum into the U.S. and that to impose them was a national security priority. In Europe, there was disappointment, but less surprise.  Juncker called the U.S. action “unjustified” and said Europeans had no alternative but to respond with tariffs of their own and to lodge a case against Washington with the World Trade …

US Slaps Tariffs on Steel, Aluminum from EU, Canada, Mexico  

The United States is escalating trans-Atlantic and North American trade tensions, imposing a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico beginning on Friday. The U.S. also negotiated quotas or volume limits on other countries, such as South Korea, Argentina, Australia and Brazil, instead of tariffs, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also told reporters by telephone.  President Donald Trump has repeatedly said such measures are necessary to protect American jobs and industries in key manufacturing sectors.  “The president’s actions are about protecting American steel, American aluminum,” a White House spokesman, Raj Shah, said on Fox News. “They’re critical for national security.” But the negative reaction from some of America’s most important strategic allies has been quick and fierce. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the tariffs “totally unacceptable” and vowed retaliation.  “This decision is not only unlawful, but it is a mistake in many respects,” said French President Emmanuel Macron, warning that “economic nationalism leads to war.” France’s finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, who met Ross earlier on Thursday, said the U.S. shouldn’t see global trade like the Wild West or Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. ‘Bad day for world trade’ European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the U.S. move marked “a bad day for world trade,” announcing there is “no choice” but to proceed with a World Trade Organization dispute settlement case and additional duties on numerous U.S. imports. The retaliatory tariffs from the Europeans are expected to …

Oregon’s Marijuana Story a Cautionary Tale for California

When Oregon lawmakers created the state’s legal marijuana program, they had one goal in mind above all else: to persuade illicit pot growers to leave the black market. That meant low barriers to entry that also targeted long-standing medical marijuana growers, whose product is not taxed. As a result, weed production boomed — with a bitter consequence. Now, marijuana prices here are in free fall, and the craft cannabis farmers who put Oregon on the map decades before broad legalization say they are in peril of losing their now-legal businesses as the market adjusts. Oregon regulators on Wednesday announced they will stop processing new applications for marijuana licenses in two weeks to address a severe backlog and ask state lawmakers to take up the issue next year. ​California takes heed Experts say the dizzying evolution of Oregon’s marijuana industry may well be a cautionary tale for California, where a similar regulatory structure could mean an oversupply on a much larger scale. “For the way the program is set up, the state just wants to get as many people in as possible, and they make no bones about it,” Hilary Bricken, a Los Angeles-based attorney specializing in marijuana business law, said of California. “Most of these companies will fail as a result of oversaturation.” A staggering inventory Oregon has nearly 1 million pounds (453,600 kilograms) of marijuana flower, commonly called bud, in its inventory, a staggering amount for a state with about 4 million people. Producers told The Associated Press wholesale …

Trump Planning Tariffs on European Steel, Aluminum

President Donald Trump’s administration is planning to impose tariffs on European steel and aluminum imports after failing to win concessions from the European Union, a move that could provoke retaliatory tariffs and inflame trans-Atlantic trade tensions. The tariffs are likely to go into effect on the EU with an announcement by Friday’s deadline, according to two people familiar with the discussions. The administration’s plans could change if the two sides are able to reach a last-minute agreement, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Trump announced in March the United States would slap a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum, citing national security interests. But he granted an exemption to the EU and other U.S. allies; that reprieve expires Friday. ​Europe bracing Europe has been bracing for the U.S. to place the restrictions even as top European officials have held last-ditch talks in Paris with American trade officials to try to avert the tariffs. “Realistically, I do not think we can hope” to avoid either U.S. tariffs or quotas on steel and aluminum, said Cecilia Malmstrom, the European Union’s trade commissioner. Even if the U.S. were to agree to waive the tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, Malmstrom said, “I expect them nonetheless to want to impose some sort of cap on EU exports.” European officials said they expected the U.S. to announce its final decision Thursday. The people familiar with the talks said Trump could …

Union: Strike Could Cost Vegas Casinos $10M a Day

The two largest resort operators in Las Vegas would lose more than $10 million a day combined if housekeepers, cooks and others go on strike, a possibility starting Friday, the union representing thousands of casino workers said Wednesday. The Culinary Union detailed how it thinks a one-month strike would impact MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment, which operate more than half the properties that would be affected if 50,000 workers walk off the job. Workers last week voted to authorize a strike as disputes over workplace training, wages and other issues have kept the union and casino operators from agreeing on new contracts. The union conceded that it is difficult to estimate how the strike at more than 30 casino-hotels would affect Las Vegas overall because the last citywide strike took place in 1984, when the city had 90,000 fewer hotel rooms and only about 12.8 million annual visitors. Last year, more than 42.2 million people visited. Contract expires midnight Thursday But it says MGM and Caesars would see a 10 percent reduction in revenue because of the loss of group and independent travelers. A strike also could happen as fans head to Las Vegas for the Stanley Cup Final. “Furthermore, one might assume a 10 percent worsening of operating margins due to the use of less experienced and less skilled replacements … to keep the doors open, rooms cleaned, food cooked, and cocktails served, not to mention other factors such as the disruptions to management staff’s regular work,” the …

AP Fact Check: Trump Overstates Progress on Opioids

President Donald Trump is overstating progress against the opioid epidemic, claiming “the numbers are way down” despite an increase of opioid-related deaths and overdoses in his first year in office. A look at his comments during a political rally in Nashville on Tuesday night: TRUMP: “We got $6 billion for opioid and getting rid of that scourge that’s taking over our country. And the numbers are way down. We’re getting the word out — bad. Bad stuff. You go to the hospital, you have a broken arm, you come out, you’re a drug addict with this crap. It’s way down. We’re doing a good job with it. But we got $6 billion to help us with opioid.” THE FACTS: Opioid prescriptions are down; deaths and other indicators of the epidemic are up, according to the latest statistics, from 2017. And those developments have nothing to do with the $6 billion approved by Congress because that money is for this year and next. Trump didn’t specify what numbers he was talking about. But according to data released in April, prescriptions for opioid painkillers filled in the U.S. fell almost 9 percent last year, the largest drop in 25 years. The total dosage of opioid prescriptions filled in 2017 declined by 12 percent because more prescriptions were for a shorter duration, fewer new patients started on them and high-dose prescriptions dropped. The numbers are from health data firm IQVIA’s Institute for Human Data Science. But legal prescriptions are only one front of …

New Guidelines: Start Colorectal Cancer Screening Earlier 

The American Cancer Society is recommending people start testing for colon and rectal cancer at age 45, rather than 50 as currently prescribed. It also recommends people who are in good health and with a life expectancy of more than 10 years continue regular colorectal cancer screening through the age of 75. The group said the initial test does not have to be a colonoscopy, but instead could be one of several non-invasive tests, such as a home stool test available by prescription. “All of these tests are good tests, and the choice should be offered to patients,” said the cancer society’s Dr. Rich Wender. “The best test is the test that gets done.” The change in procedure is based on new information about a marked increase in the incidences of colorectal cancer, particularly rectal cancer, among younger individuals. Experts aren’t sure why there has been a 50 percent increase in cases since 1994. Most colon cancer occurs in adults 55 and older, and the good news is that rates of cases and deaths have been falling for decades. Colon cancer, combined with rectal cancer, is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. This year, more than 140,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with it, and about 50,000 will die from it. …

WHO: Smoking Remains Major Cause of Death, Disease

Fewer people are smoking worldwide, especially women, but only one country in eight is on track to meet a target of reducing tobacco use significantly by 2025, the World Health Organization said Thursday. Three million people die prematurely each year because of tobacco use that causes cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and stroke, the world’s leading killers, it said, marking World No Tobacco Day. They include 890,000 deaths through secondhand smoke exposure. The WHO clinched a landmark treaty in 2005, now ratified by 180 countries, that calls for a ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship, and taxes to discourage use. “The worldwide prevalence of tobacco smoking has decreased from 27 percent in 2000 to 20 percent in 2016, so progress has been made,” Douglas Bettcher, director of the WHO’s prevention of noncommunicable diseases department, told a news briefing. Better pace in industrialized nations Launching the WHO’s global report on trends in prevalence of tobacco smoking, he said that industrialized countries were making faster progress than developing countries. “One of the major factors impeding low- and middle-income countries certainly is countries face resistance by a tobacco industry who wishes to replace clients who die by freely marketing their products and keeping prices affordable for young people,” he added. Progress in kicking the habit is uneven, with the Americas the only region set to meet the target of a 30 percent reduction in tobacco use by 2025 compared with 2010, for both men and women, the WHO said. However, the United States is currently not on track, bogged down by litigation over warnings on cigarette packaging and lags in taxation, said Vinayak Prasad of the …

Malaysia Moves to Rebalance Relationship With China

Malaysia and China are looking to re-balance ties as the new government of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad seeks to renegotiate billions of dollars of Chinese backed infrastructure spending, with the goal of reducing the country’s national debt. China is Malaysia’s leading foreign direct investor at over $3.38 billion, ahead of the U.S., Japan and Singapore, with major infrastructure deals negotiated during the previous government of Najib Razak. The main contract is a $14 billion (55 billion ringgit) East Coast Rail Link, as well as manufacturing, real estate and sovereign wealth fund bonds. Carl Thayer, a professor of politics at Australia’s University of New South Wales, says Malaysia is seeking to move beyond anti-Chinese rhetoric that had been an undercurrent of the May 9 national polls. Thayer said during the campaign Chinese investment in Malaysia was an issue, amid concerns Malaysia was excessively indebted to China. “But Prime Minister Mahathir since the election has basically declared that the existing agreements will stand — that’s with any country. But there will be a review of these agreements with China. And the key project there seems to be the east coast rail line which is seen as a ‘white elephant’, costing a lot of money and not really delivering,” he said. The East Coast Rail line is a key portion of Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI) infrastructure into South East Asia covering 688 kilometers connecting the South China Sea with the Thai Border. The new government says the fresh negotiations are a bid …