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U.S.-China Reach Impasse in Trump’s Trade War

President Donald Trump has agreed not to impose the additional 25% tariffs on Chinese goods on Jan. 1, 2019 in exchange for China’s vow to buy American soybeans and a nebulous promise to start talks on structural changes to its economy.

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Buenos Aires, Argentina (4E) – President Donald Trump has agreed not to impose the additional 25% tariffs on Chinese goods on Jan. 1, 2019 in exchange for China’s vow to buy American soybeans and a nebulous promise to start talks on structural changes to its economy.

Analysts said China achieved its main goal — getting Trump to delay the 25% additional tariffs he promised he’d impose as late as last week. China, however, seems to have added caveats to its “concessions.”

It said its ability to carry out the reforms demanded by Trump will depend on it attaining certain milestones such as meeting its “people’s needs” first, and implementing a new round of reforms before resolving America’s legitimate concerns.

In other words, China will apparently take no action unless it meets these preconditions.

On the other hand, Trump to attain his main goal — getting China to implement structural changes to its economy and admitting to intellectual property theft. Instead, what Trump got was a promise to “discuss” these key issues, which should have been discussed months ago.

This is a humiliating outcome for a man who brags about being the best dealmaker (some say bully) in the world. Trump and president Xi Jinping he met face-to-face Dec. 1 in Argentina for a much anticipated dinner that did result in a temporary ceasefire in their escalating tit-for-tat trade war ignited by Trump.

After the 2-1/2 hour meeting, White House chief economist Larry Kudlow said the talks went “very well,” but offered no specifics.

The White House said Trump will maintain tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports at 10 percent that were to have gone into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. It said Trump to not raise tariffs to 25 percent “at this time.”

In exchange, China will agree to purchase a very substantial amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other product from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance between the two countries. This amount hasn’t been agreed upon, however.

The White House claims China has agreed to start purchasing agricultural product from American farmers immediately.

Xi and Trump also agreed to immediately start talks on structural changes to China’s closed and government-controlled economy. China and the U.S. will discuss intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, forced technology transfers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft, services and agriculture.

China and the U.S. agreed they will try to complete this “transaction” within the next 90 days. If this doesn’t happen, then the 10 percent tariffs will be raised to 25 percent, said the White House.

Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi said the talks were conducted in a friendly and candid atmosphere. He said Xi and Trump agreed their countries can and must get bilateral relations right.

He claims discussions on economic and trade issues were very positive and constructive. He also noted both leaders reached consensus to halt the mutual increase of new tariffs.

Wang pointed out that China is willing to increase imports in accordance with the needs of its domestic market and the people’s needs, including marketable products from the United States, to gradually ease the imbalance in two-way trade.

He noted China and the U.S. agreed to mutually open their markets. Yi noted that as China advances a new round of reforms, the United States’ legitimate concerns can be progressively resolved.

Wang also said both two sides will “step up negotiations” toward full elimination of all additional tariffs.

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Politics

North Korea Threatens to Cancel Denuclearization Talks over Latest Sanctions

North Korea angrily blasted the latest United States sanctions, saying this move by the Trump administration could “block the path to denuclearization on the Korean peninsula forever.”

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Pyongyang, North Korea (4E) – North Korea angrily blasted the latest United States sanctions, saying this move by the Trump administration could “block the path to denuclearization on the Korean peninsula forever.”

North Korea denounced the latest U.S. sanctions, which Washington imposed on three top Noorth Korean officials for serious human rights abuses and censorship. It expressed “shock and indignation” at the new U.S. sanctions while accusing Trump of being “bent on bringing… relations back to the status of last year which was marked by exchanges of fire.”

Pyongyang noted Trump’s policy of “maximum pressure” will be his “greatest miscalculation.”It urged Trump to return to the confidence building that was hoped for following the summit in Singapore last June between Trump and Kim Jong-un.

Washington said it imposed the sanctions after a U.S. Department of State report revealed human rights abuses committed by the men. The U.S. Department of Treasury named those sanctioned as Ryong Hae Choe, an aide close to Kim, who leads the Workers’ Party of Korea Organization and Guidance Department. Also sanctioned was State Security Minister Kyong Thaek Jong sand Propaganda and Agitation Department head Kwang Ho Pak.

The sanctions freeze any assets the three North Koreans might have under U.S. jurisdiction. It also generally prevents them from making transactions with anyone in the United States. The sanctions were announced as the State Department released a report on North Korean human rights and other abuses.

The State Department report said human rights abuses in North Korea “remain among the worst in the world and include extrajudicial killings, forced labor, torture, prolonged arbitrary detention, rape, forced abortions, and other sexual violence.

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Chris Matthews Predicts Trump Might Resign “in the Coming Weeks”

Liberal pundit Chris Matthews, who hosts the talk show, “Hardball with Chris Matthews” on MSNBC, told his TV audience about his hunch Donald Trump might resign in the coming weeks as part of a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

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New York, NY, United States (4E) – Liberal pundit Chris Matthews, who hosts the talk show, “Hardball with Chris Matthews” on MSNBC, told his TV audience about his hunch Donald Trump might resign in the coming weeks as part of a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Matthews also said Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump could be the “next dominoes to fall” in the Mueller investigation. Trump’s children might face prosecution and possible prison time for their roles related to Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections.

“But what if the prosecutor were to offer the president an alternative,” asked Matthews. “What if he were to say he would let the children walk if the old man does the same? That would mean giving up the presidency in exchange for acquittals all around — not just for himself, but for all his kids.”

He said Trump might have to emulate former Vice President Spiro Agnew, who resigned in 1973 as part of a deal with prosecutors to avoid prison time in a tax evasion case.

“Leverage the office while you still have it,” said Matthews in a piece of advice to Trump.

“So let’s watch the probable events of the coming weeks bring all this to a breaking point,” he said. “It is going to be historic.”

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US Senate Passes Criminal Justice Reform

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved legislation to decrease America’s substantial prison population by lowering some mandatory federal sentences, giving inmates added opportunities to earn reductions in jail time, and encouraging prisoners to better themselves so they are less likely to return to crime upon release.

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Washington, DC, United States (VOA) – The U.S. Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved legislation to decrease America’s substantial prison population by lowering some mandatory federal sentences, giving inmates added opportunities to earn reductions in jail time, and encouraging prisoners to better themselves so they are less likely to return to crime upon release.

Passing 87-12, the First Step Act was hailed by proponents as a long-overdue retooling of the federal criminal justice system, an effort that drew resounding support from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers as well as President Donald Trump.

“Congratulations to the Senate on the bipartisan passing of a historic Criminal Justice Reform Bill,” Trump tweeted shortly after the vote. “I look forward to signing this into law!”

“The bill makes smart changes to our criminal justice system in ways that will make it fairer, more humane, and more just,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said.

“This legislation is proof that we can be tough on crime and more compassionate to those who deserve a second chance,” Mississippi Republican Roger Wicker said in a statement.

The bill retroactively ends the discrepancy in federal sentences for drug offenses involving crack and the powder form of cocaine, which would reduce jail time for thousands of prisoners convicted of crack offenses.

The legislation also reduces some mandatory sentences, gives federal judges more flexibility to make exceptions to mandatory prison terms, and allow inmates to earn greater sentence reductions through good behavior and vocational training.

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