Clyde is a business graduate interested in writing about latest news in politics and business. He enjoys writing and is about to publish his first book. He’s a pet lover and likes to spend time with family. When the time allows he likes to go fishing waiting for the muse to come.
The diamond industry is a thriving one. From statement earrings and delicate necklaces to symbolic engagement rings and wedding bands, the sparkling rocks appear in an array of elegant jewellery around the globe. Usually a representation of eternal love, sometimes passed on through generations within a family, and almost always given to someone in the hopes of the sentiment and love lasting forever, it is therefore unsurprising that people are becoming more interested in the source of their diamonds.
As one of the rarest and most extraordinary gems on the planet, there is great value in understanding the origin of the stones and the journey taken from mine to ring. The increasing knowledge led to a decline in demand for diamonds for a few years, before picking up again in 2016. Although the market is currently thriving worldwide, there are still some dark corners that aren’t representative of the happiness and love typically portrayed by the gemstones.
What are conflict diamonds?
Also known as blood diamonds, conflict diamonds are those excavated from mines dominated by rebel units opposed to governments. These factions sell diamonds illegally to fund violence and invading armies.
Mountains of jewels are not the only outcome from these mines. Civil wars, human suffering and exploitation, environmental degradation, and destruction are all results from multiple diamond mines around the globe. The past two decades alone have seen seven countries in Africa experiencing civil wars, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, the Republic of Congo, Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone and the Central African Republic.
Approximately 3.7 million lives have been lost from the wars fueled by the black diamond trade so far, with millions more missing. To date, there are still millions living with the consequences and suffering from broken homes, families, and lives. The rebel gangs are often liable for the violence caused in these areas. However, governments and mining companies are also responsible for a lot of the destruction caused in countries that aren’t at war.
Consumers are increasingly gaining awareness of the violence and histories of these diamonds, supported by the recognition of award-winning film, Blood Diamond, 2006. As a consequence, the fight against the carnage is rising, yet violence is still present in many mining areas around Africa, and a notable amount of gems are still joining the market undetected. Just ten years ago, the industry was predicted to be made up of between four and fifteen percent of conflict diamonds.
Having lived in both South Africa and Zimbabwe for 15 years, Nikolay, CEO of Taylor & Hart, recalls his time there:
“Growing up in South Africa, we were acutely aware of the human rights violations that were happening in neighbouring Zimbabwe, under the government of President Robert Mugabe. Millions of people were being oppressed by his regime, and thousands crossed the borders into South Africa as refugees, trying to find work illegally. When in 2008 we heard about the crackdown by the government on miners in the Marange mines, we decided to take an active position, and though at the time Zimbabwean diamonds were not considered ‘conflict’ by international standards, we would ensure we no longer knowingly offered them and have not ever since.”
The growth of ethically sourced diamonds
Concern grew as the ability to differentiate ethically sourced diamonds from blood diamonds became apparent. This resulted in the Kimberley Process (KP) being established in 2003, in an effort to make the entire industry conflict-free. There are 80 countries involved in the certification scheme so far, which has managed to reduce the number of conflict diamonds infiltrating the supply chain, leading to less than one percent of diamonds in current circulation estimated to be unethical.
Unfortunately, the KP is not flawless as multiple countries have declined to be a part of the scheme. There has also been a lot of criticism about how sufficient the verification of the diamonds is. Only governments, NGO’s, and professional industry bodies are included in the identification process and workers in areas such as Zimbabwe, who work under extremely high levels of brutality and denied fundamental rights, are excluded. Zimbabwe is a certified conflict-free country, and so any diamonds acquired from this country are marked as such, yet the suffering endured is not considered. Being paper-based is also an issue due to increased possibilities of tampering, imitation records, and loss.
The evolution of the fight against the blood diamond trade is accelerating, and more people and businesses are getting on board to help the suffering stop. The latest breakthrough comes from a company named Everledger. They are working with Blockchain technology and aim to transition the Kimberley Process to an entirely digital system. This will make information available to retailers and consumers, and the whole process will become more accurate.
Many people in the industry avoid any diamonds coming from Zimbabwe, due to them being unethical, even though they are conflict-free and so the KP is used as a reference guide only. CanadaMark can fill the gap of information for many traders as it details the origin and history of the gem. Consumers on the high street can also request certificates for their diamond purchases, which will state the country of origin.
Synthetic diamonds have been introduced as a solution to the problems in the verification of ethical diamonds and have a successful niche in the market. However, this could not replace authentic diamonds due to the additional challenges that would arise. The diamond industry is the only source of income for the local economy in many countries in South Africa and replacing that for lab produced gems would leave a more significant issue. 10 million people are currently affected by the financial economy from the diamond industry, and so millions of jobs would be lost if synthetic gems were to become mainstream.
Value of diamonds is increasing as demand rises and fewer sources are located.
In a statement released on October 15, Colin Kaepernick’s lawyers wrote: “We can confirm that this morning we filed a grievance under the CBA on behalf of Colin Kaepernick.
“This was done only after pursuing every possible avenue with all NFL teams and their executives.
“If the NFL (as well as all professional sports leagues) is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful political protest – which the owners themselves made great theatre imitating weeks ago – should not be punished and athletes should not be denied employment.
“Such a precedent threatens all patriotic Americans and harkens back to our darkest days as a nation. Protecting all athletes from such collusive conduct is what compelled Mr. Kaepernick to file his grievance.
“Colin Kaepernick’s goal has always been, and remains, to simply be treated fairly by the league he performed at the highest level for and to return to the football playing field.”
Some players from the 49ers again knelt during the anthem before their match on October 15.
They were playing for the first time since VP Mike Pence walked out of their game in Indianapolis, after several members of the team did not stand.
Argentine Airlines is the latest carrier to suspend flights to Venezuela.
The carrier said it had concerns over security in Venezuela because of increasing criminal violence and political uncertainty.
Aerolineas Argentinas joins dozens of airlines who have taken similar action.
IATA, the trade body for the world’s airlines, says Venezuela is becoming increasingly isolated.
The body’s vice-president, Peter Cerdá, said last week: “The situation has become increasingly difficult, most of IATA’s members have left Venezuela. There are only six or seven carriers left operating a very low flight frequency.
“Venezuela is becoming disconnected, it’s practically disconnected from the rest of the world, above all by air, and we can’t see any solution in the short term.”
Since 2003 Venezuela has operated a series of currency exchange controls managed by the government.
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has offered the airline’s pilots better pay and conditions.
The improved conditions came after Ryanair was forced to cancel thousands of flights in recent weeks.
In a letter to pilots, Michael O’Leary also apologized for changes that caused disruptions to their rotas and urges them not to leave the airline.
The chief executive’s apology came after he accused the pilots of being “full of their own self-importance”.
However, in the letter seen by the Irish Independent newspaper, Michael O’Leary urges pilots to stay with Ryanair “for a brighter future”.
Ryanair has been in crisis after the rota changes – brought about to comply with new aviation rules – led to a shortage of pilots because the airline failed to plan for enough leave.
The airline announced its first wave of 2,100 cancelations in the middle of September, after it rearranged pilots’ rosters to comply with new aviation rules requiring a change in how their flying hours are logged.
Towards the end of September Ryanair announced 18,000 further flights would be canceled over the winter season. These moves affect more than 700,000 passengers.
Ryanair blamed the flight fiasco on its own mistaken decision to force its pilots to take their remaining annual leave before the end of this year, rather than by the end of the financial year next March.
That left the airline without enough pilots to fly all its scheduled flights in September and October.
However, passengers have complained about the short notice of the cancellations and the consumer group Which? said Ryanair’s compensation information was “woefully short”.
Many of Ryanair’s 4,200 pilots had joined unions over the past two weeks over discontent with the disruptions caused by the rota changes.
Michael O’Leary’s letter implored the pilot team not to leave Ryanair and offered them improved terms and working conditions.
The sweeteners included pay increases, loyalty bonus payments, improved rotas and better compensation for pilots forced to work away from their home base.
Michael O’Leary stressed that Ryanair was a “very secure employer” and he emphasized that the airline’s pilots “are the best in the business”.
He asked them not to allow competitor pilots or their unions “to demean or disparage our collective success”.
The Ryanair boss also urged the airline’s pilots not to join “one of these less financially secure or Brexit-challenged airlines”.
Michael O’Leary’s letter asked the pilots to take note of “the recent bankruptcies of Air Berlin, Alitalia and Monarch”, as well as the difficulties faced by another budget airline, Norwegian Air, which has been under pressure to boost its finances.
Investors have been concerned that Ford is not moving quickly enough in markets such as China and in sectors such as automated cars to fend off competitors, including new ones emerging from Silicon Valley.
Jim Hackett said Ford needs to automate and simplify its production processes and invest $7 billion in its successful products, such as SUVs and light trucks, which have driven US sales this year.
Ford is also planning to make its vehicles more tech-savvy, with 90% of its vehicles sold around the world “built with connectivity” by 2020.
Executives said those features – such as easy compatibility with phones and other devices – would help attract customers to the brand.
They said they also opened opportunities for new lines of business, such as medical transport, ride-hailing and goods delivery.
Ford already operates a shuttle bus service called Chariot in four US cities and is set to expand it further by the end of the year. It said it has signed agreements to work with cities such as Mumbai on transport.
Jim Hackett said Ford had been slow to shift to electrification because of the costs. But it is working on partnerships with companies such as Zotye in China, where the government has called for quotas related to electric car sales.
Volkswagen has announced that the diesel emissions scandal will cost the company an extra $3 billion (€2.5 billion), because engines are proving “far more technically complex and time consuming”.
The additional cost, for fixing engines in the US, takes the total bill to $30 billion.
Two years after the diesel emission cheating scandal first emerged, VW is still struggling to put the crisis behind it.
Separately Munich prosecutors made an arrest in connection with the scandal.
German media reports have named the person taken into custody as Wolfgang Hatz, former board member at VW unit Porsche. But there has been no official confirmation of his identity.
Wolfgang Hatz was head of Research and Development at VW-owned Porsche and had held other roles in the VW group, including in engine development at Audi. He was suspended after the diesel emissions test-cheating was exposed. He then left the company.
In 2016, Porsche said no evidence had been found against Wolfgang Hatz.
Wolfgang Hatz was reportedly close to former VW chief executive, Martin Winterkorn, who has denied any knowledge of the “defeat devices” which allowed vehicles to artificially reduce emissions during tests before their existence was exposed publicly.
Another former Audi executive, Giovanni Pamio, was taken into custody earlier this year, at the request of the US Department of Justice. One man has so far been jailed in connection with the scandal: Volkswagen engineer James Liang received a 40 month sentence in a US court last month.
News of the additional financial burden from dealing with vehicles in the US underlines the difficulty VW is having extricating itself from the scandal.
VW shares initially fell sharply on September 29 although they later recovered most of the lost ground.
The automaker first admitted in September 2015 that it had used illegal software to cheat US emissions tests.
Since then VW has been adapting its cars to meet legal requirements. However, the process in the US is proving tougher than expected.
It is also amending cars in Europe, but the process there is more straightforward, VW said.
The additional costs will be reflected in Volkswagen’s third quarter results, which will be reported next month.
President Donald Trump comes again under fire after his criticism of NFL players.
On September 22, President Trump said the NFL should fire players who protest during the US anthem.
High-profile football players as well as basketball star LeBron James openly criticized President Trump in response.
One NFL team owner said Donald Trump’s comments were “offensive” but the president has gone on to repeat his criticism.
At a rally on September 22, President Trump said NFL players who protested during the playing of the national anthem should be fired by their team – referencing a controversial string of protests over race relations started by player Colin Kaepernick in 2016.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement saying “divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect”.
Donald Trump, however, doubled down on his comments in a tweet: “Roger Goodell of NFL just put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country. Tell them to stand!”
The NFL Players’ Association said President Trump had crossed a line by effectively telling players to just “shut up and play”.
Association president Eric Winston said President Trump’s comments were “a slap in the face to the civil rights heroes of the past and present”.
On September 23, the Oakland Athletics’ Bruce Maxwell became the first Major League Baseball player to kneel in protest during the national anthem, mimicking the gesture of protest started by Colin Kaepernick.
Jed York, CEO of the San Francisco 49ers – Kaepernick’s former team – said he would continue to support his players.
“The callous and offensive comments made by the President are contradictory to what this great country stands for,” Jed York said in a statement.
There has been no comment from many teams, including New York Jets owner Woody Johnson – a wealthy businessman and Trump campaign donor who was appointed as his ambassador to the UK.
On September 23, President Trump withdrew an invitation to the White House to basketball champions the Golden State Warriors after one player, Stephen Curry, said he did not want to attend.
Stephen Curry – NBA’s most valuable player in 2015 – said he wanted to show that he and other players did not stand for “the things that he’s said and the things that he hasn’t said in the right times”.
President Trump tweeted afterwards: “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.
“Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!”
In response, triple NBA champion LeBron James, one of the sport’s foremost stars, labeled President Trump a “bum”.
He said: “U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain’t going! So therefore ain’t no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!”
Retired star Kobe Bryant also tweeted his support: “A #POTUS whose name alone creates division and anger. Whose words inspire dissension and hatred can’t possibly <<Make America Great Again>>.”
In the letter, Michael Hickey said these pilots would be “helping protect the integrity of the operation during the remainder of the flight year”.
Ryanair also faces pressure to publish a full list of the flights it plans to cancel every day amid growing anger among customers.
So far it has only published a list of affected flights up until September 20.
The airline has blamed a backlog of staff leave for the disruption, which could affect up to 400,000 passengers.
Ryanair is changing its holiday year, which currently runs from April to March, to run from January to December instead.
This has led to large numbers of its staff taking holidays in September and October.
Reports on September 18 also suggested recruitment problems were affecting the airline and that it had lost pilots to rival Norwegian Air.
A Norwegian Air spokesperson said: “We can confirm that 140 pilots have joined us from Ryanair this year. Pilot recruitment is also underway for more pilots for our new Dublin base opening later this year.”
Over the past few years, the building and construction industries have been facing the many challenges that come with a worker shortage. Although there are numerous education, training and governmental initiatives available, companies still need to do everything they can to entice laborers in the work place. The following are 7 strategies that can assist you in engaging employees and boosting the visibility of your businesses brand.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has seen significant growth in the job market. But not all industries are having an easy time of it when hiring employees, especially in the labor workforce. Younger employees have grown up using technology and some may even depend on it. Although you may not be familiar with today’s technological advances, your company can grow and expand when you embrace it. You can incorporate the use of technology in your workplace through apps, smartphones and tablets. As you grow accustomed to the latest updates, you can switch to a total upgrade by using software that is made specifically for the construction industry. When you present your business as modernized and techy-savvy, you’ll be surprised at the network of candidates you’ll be able to acquire.
Image source Pexels
Engage Employees Through Social Media Platforms
Businesses in the construction industry rely on skilled professionals to get the job done. According to AllClimateRoofing.com, “Getting factory trained individuals can be challenging in today’s labor shortage. That’s why we are using social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to hire workers.”
But to encourage the best, you need to do more than post a position. Employers also need to engage prospective candidates by starting a conversation. Applicants will then have an outlet where they can comment, ask questions and provide helpful feedback.
Publish Newsworthy Information
It may get exhausting for a company to simply post job listings. If you’re looking to attract experienced candidates, you want to post newsworthy information. This can include newsletters, blogs and information related to today’s industry. Through this avenue, you’ll be able to boost your company’s visibility. You can also increase your company’s profile by publishing product updates and news that will entice job seekers to your business.
Place Existing Employees in the Spotlight
An employee who enjoys their work and place of business, may share updates or make posts on social media. This form of activity can engage others who may be thinking about applying for a position within your company. You can also place existing co-workers in the spotlight either weekly or monthly. Whether the employee works in production, accounting, customer service or within a specific field, you’ll develop a great connection to both current and future employees by featuring star workers. Comments can include their years of employment, position held within the company and strengths.
Welcome New Employees
Once you’ve hired a candidate, you can make your new employee feel welcome by posting their profile on your business website. The additional visibility also shows your following that you value the workers that you hire for your firm. It could also encourage other laborers in the industry to consider your company over the other many organizations.
Offer a Sneak Peak of Day-to-Day Duties
The day-to-day duties of a company may vary and be dependent on the type of job offered. You can entice prospective laborers by offering a blog or video post of what a day in the life of your business could be like. This sneak preview can be personalized to fit the profile of a project manager, laborer or other position that your company offers.
Take a Targeted Approach to Your Search
If you post your job on the Internet or in an advertisement, you may not get the candidates that will suit your position. To ensure you get exactly what you’re looking for, you can take a targeted approach to your search. You can place your employment postings on a college or university message board. Expert workers could also be found by staying connected to trade schools in the area.
With the boost in the economy in recent years, many job sectors are finding the market to be heading toward positive territory. But while construction businesses are looking to capitalize on the building boon, some companies are lacking the right skilled workers. By putting the above tips into motion, you can grow your business and overcome the shortage in the labor industry.
These signals – known as signs – would be very useful to the batter if he could see them, but he’s looking in the other direction, using only the pitcher’s posture and grip for guidance.
Stealing signs, as the practice is known, involves a team member seeing the opponent’s signal and somehow relaying that information to the batter in the short window before the ball is thrown.
The MLB investigation found the Red Sox would have an off-field person watching a camera feed of the catcher. He would then contact the dug-out via the Apple Watch, and that signal would be passed on from the dug-out to the batter.
According to the New York Times, MLB will now look to see if the Red Sox had used the technique in other games.
Stealing signs by analogue means – such as a team mate at second base seeing the catcher and revealing the signal to the batter opposite – is legal. However, using a devices such as binoculars or electronics to aid the process is not.
Teams have long used ingenious ways to steal signs, including in 1951 when the New York Giants’ Bobby Thomson hit a World Series-winning home run, a hit later dubbed the “shot heard round the world”.
It was revealed some years later that the Giants had a team member in the club house opposite using a telescope to spot signs.
Joel Sherman, a baseball columnist for the New York Post, said on Twitter that MLB must clamp down on mischievous uses of technology in the sport.
He wrote: “MLB must rethink how it polices tech use. Perhaps no electronics at all in dugout.
“Also, teams might have to rethink how signs are given on field by going to verbal signals or eliminating putting fingers down as the lone way to convey pitch selection.”
California is home to some of the country’s most beautiful and congested roads. Millions call California home and millions of others visit each year to take in the seascapes, landscapes, and tourist attractions. Each year, individual California drivers log an average of 13,636 miles, which exceeds the national average of 9,363 miles per driver. Collectively, Californians drive over 300 billion miles. These numbers do not take into account (a) tourists, (b) businesspeople, and (c) out-of-state drivers passing through.
Image source Wikipedia
Hundreds of Car Accidents on California Roads Every Day
With so many cars on the road and so many miles being driven it should not be surprising that injury-causing auto accidents occur quite frequently. In 2013, the latest year for which data was available, more than 157,000 traffic accidents caused more than 223,000 injuries in California. That is 430 accidents and 610 injuries each and every day in the Golden State. Research points to a correlation between an improving economy, the number of vehicles on the road, and injury causing accidents. “We’ve seen a huge spike of car crash personal injury claims in our office” say Sherwin Arzani, an attorney that handles car accident cases in Los Angeles, CA. “As the economy continues to grow it is likely that we will continue to see hundreds of traffic accidents in California each day,” Mr. Arzani goes on to say.
Injuries caused by a California car accident can be severe. A personal injury lawsuit for damages against those responsible for causing the crash can be a great way to get the much needed financial support you require to get back to your day-to-day life. Injuries that car accident victims often seek to recover compensation for include:
Traumatic brain injury;
Spinal cord injury;
Internal organ damage;
Loss of limbs;
What kind of compensation will you be able to ask for in your personal injury lawsuit? The answer is directly related to the kinds of injuries you sustained. These injuries could be physical, emotional, psychological, or even financial. Damages are generally broken down into two categories: economic and noneconomic.
Economic damages are paid to compensate you for verifiable and easily identifiable losses. These often include past and future medical costs, lost wages, projected lost future wages, and costs of property damage repair or replacement. If a loved one is killed in a car accident, families may seek to recover costs associated with the funeral and/or burial of the victim.
Noneconomic damages are paid to compensate you for losses that are more difficult to assign a monetary value. These losses are often very personal and depend on more subjective details. Noneconomic damages may include emotional distress, embarrassment, pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and loss of enjoyment of life. If a loved one is killed in a car accident, families may seek to recover costs associated with their own emotional distress, loss of consortium or companionship, and grief.
Why Should I Hire a California Car Accident Attorney After My Accident?
The time following a car accident can be overwhelming. This is especially true if you sustain serious injuries and need to find a way to pay your medical bills. Hiring an attorney can help to reduce the stress you face and maximize the compensation you are able to recover. Attorneys have experience dealing with the complexities of personal injury claims and understand the nuances of the law. Insurance companies will want to take advantage of victims shortly after an accident and prey on a lack of specialized legal knowledge. Hiring an attorney can help to ensure that your rights are protected and that you recover the compensation you deserve – and not a penny less. When you hire an attorney to represent you they may:
Review the police report, photographs of the scene of the accident, and medical evaluations;
Independently investigate the accident;
Consult with experts, including medical professionals and accident recreationists;
Find and interview witnesses;
Communicate and negotiate with insurance companies;
Determine potentially responsible parties;
Research similar cases to help maximize compensation;
Draft compelling legal arguments to persuade defendants and the court; and
Communicate with you and explain the process.
At Citywide Law Group, a trusted Los Angeles personal injury law firm, we do not want to add more stress to a victim’s life after an accident. We understand the financial pressure that often accompanies a car accident. To help ensure that victims are not afraid of seeking legal representation we offer our services on a contingency fee basis. This means that we do not get paid until we recover compensation for you. If you have been injured in a California car accident, contact our office today for a free, no-commitment consultation.
Your financial adviser’s overriding duty is to maximize your return on investment year after year. All other considerations, including the adviser’s own earnings, are secondary.
Not necessarily. Financial advisers have to make money somehow, or they wouldn’t be in business to help you make money.
Commission-Based vs. Fee-Only Advising: What’s the Difference?
One of the financial planning industry’s many fault lines opens around the question of advisers’ compensation for the services they provide.
Some advisers earn money from commissions on sales of equities and other financial products. They’re known as ‘commission-based advisers.’ They often have other sources of income, including kickbacks from the funds they recommend. Commission-based advisers aren’t always required to disclose such kickbacks, and many don’t, so it’s not always clear to clients when they’re subject to charges that eat into their returns.
Image source Creative Commons Images
Reputable fee-only financial advisers don’t take commissions or kickbacks from funds. Instead, their recurring fees (usually paid quarterly or annually) are calculated as a percentage of their clients’ total assets under management (AUM). Investment management fees typically decrease as AUM increases — for instance, a retail fee-only adviser might charge 1% on assets under £500,000, 0.75% on assets between £500,000 and £1,000,000, and 0.50% on assets above £1,000,000.
Which Is Better?
By definition, fee-only financial advisers earn money through fees only. Their compensation structures are inarguably more client-friendly. If you’re looking for an adviser that won’t nickel-and-dime you, fee-only is the way to go.
The proof of fee-only financial advisers’ superiority is in the tape. In the 1970s, fee-only financial advisers were virtually unheard of. Today, they’re everywhere, and growing more common by the day.
Why? Simple. They treat clients better and their investments tend to perform better year after year — though past performance is not necessarily determinative of future results.
Questions to Ask Financial Adviser Candidates
Now that you have a basic understanding of the difference between commission-based and fee-only financial advisers, you’re ready to begin researching and evaluating prospective advisers. Use these questions to hone in on the right fit for your needs.
How are you compensated? Fee-only advisers are increasingly the gold standard for long-term investors. Choose accordingly.
What is your investing philosophy and approach? Some advisers hew to a passive approach that seeks merely to match the market. Others use active investing strategies to beat the market. Your appetite for risk will determine which approach you favour.
How have your clients’ investments performed over time? Don’t enter into an adviser relationship without carefully evaluating their investments’ short-, medium-, and long-term performance.
Are you a member of any professional financial advising or planning organizations? A stamp of approval from reputable organizations like the Financial Conduct Authority helps assuage concerns about legitimacy and experience.
Remember, investing for the long haul is a marathon, not a sprint. You won’t do yourself any favours by rushing into a relationship with a new financial adviser.
On August 18, the US announced it planned to look into hacking and reports that the Chinese government is steering investment into US companies in key industries as a way to gain access to new technology.
US officials will gather comments and hold a hearing in October as part of the so-called Section 301 investigation.
Penalties might be targeted against individual companies, or more wide-ranging, which will shape China’s reaction.
On August 15, China’s commerce ministry warned: “If the US side takes actions that impair the mutual trade relations, disregarding the facts and disrespecting multilateral trade rules, China will not sit idle.”
Ryanair has accused the German government and Lufthansa of conspiring to carve up collapsed airline Air Berlin.
Lufthansa is negotiating over buying Air Berlin planes, which are still flying following a 150 million euro German government loan.
Ryanair said there was an “obvious conspiracy” between Germany, Lufthansa and Air Berlin to carve up the assets.
The German government rejected the accusation and said its support for Air Berlin did not breach anti-trust rules.
Air Berlin filed for bankruptcy on August 15, after its biggest shareholder, the Abu Dhabi-based airline Etihad, withdraw its financial support.
Over the past year Air Berlin’s passenger numbers have been in freefall. Last month the airline – Germany’s second-biggest carrier – lost a quarter of its customers compared with July 2016.
Germany’s economy minister, Brigitte Zypries, said that a deal whereby Lufthansa took over part of the insolvent airline should be struck in the next few months.
Ryanair said: “This manufactured insolvency is clearly being set up to allow Lufthansa to take over a debt-free Air Berlin which will be in breach of all known German and EU competition rules.
“Now even the German government is supporting this Lufthansa-led monopoly with 150m euros of state aid so that Lufthansa can acquire Air Berlin and drive domestic air fares in Germany even higher than they already are.”
A German economy spokeswoman said: “I reject the accusation by Ryanair today that it was a staged insolvency application.”
Ryanair has lodged a complaint with the German regulator, the Bundeskartellamt, and the European Commission.
Lufthansa said it was already in negotiations with Air Berlin to take over parts of the company and was considering hiring more staff: “Lufthansa intends to conclude these negotiations successfully in due time.”
Ryanair has in the past made other criticisms of the relationship between Air Berlin and Lufthansa.
Lufthansa has been operating 38 Air Berlin Airbus jets on its behalf under a “wet lease” arrangement. In January Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary described the deal as a “joke”.
Michael O’Leary told the German magazine WirtschaftsWoche that the deal was “a takeover with the aim of dominating the market. Lufthansa controls the capacities of its most important competitor, sets the prices and decides where aircraft will start. The German authorities are doing nothing”.
Lufthansa’s interest in Air Berlin has also upset its own staff.
At its Eurowings subsidiary, unions are balloting cabin crew about industrial action after pay talks broke down – something the unions blame on Air Berlin’s collapse.
German cabin crew union UFO said: “The reasons why no solution could be worked out with Eurowings management became clear yesterday: the Lufthansa group can obtain cheap aircraft through Air Berlin’s insolvency and doesn’t need to take on its staff or their wage agreements.”
However, the demise of Air Berlin could open up the German market to more competition.
Ryanair and EasyJet have only managed to get a toehold at airports such as Berlin, Cologne/Bonn, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt.
Gerald Khoo, transport analyst at Liberium Capital, said: “Based on August schedules, Germany currently represents just 9% of EasyJet’s capacity and 7% of Ryanair’s, compared with 76% of Lufthansa’s, highlighting the relative importance of that market to each carrier.”
Ryanair has been targeting the German market, with new routes to and from Frankfurt.
Gerald Khooo said: “We would expect German airports to move up the list of priorities for next summer for both major low cost carriers, whether or not they attempt to pick up assets and/or staff from Air Berlin’s bankruptcy process.”
Reuters reported on August 15 that Easyjet was in talks to buy assets from Air Berlin. EasyJet declined to comment.
It is not known who the recipient of Bill Gates’ latest donation is, however when federal documents are filed, it usually means new money is being given to a foundation, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports.
In 2010, Bill and Melinda Gates and the well-known investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett created the Giving Pledge, and as of May 2017, 158 individuals or couples have agreed to contribute at least half of their wealth to charity.
This latest donation is the biggest charitable gift to have been made anywhere in the world so far this year.
The second largest was made by Warren Buffett, who donated almost $3.2 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last month.
The third biggest came from Dell Computer Corporation founder Michael Dell and his wife Susan.
In May, Michael and Susan Dell gave more than $1 billion to their foundation, which focuses on children’s issues and community initiatives.
Elon Musk’s company, Tesla, expects to raise nearly $1.8 billion by selling “junk” bonds to private investors – even more than the electric automaker aimed for when it announced the offering this month.
Tesla said the money will keep its balance sheet steady as it ramps up manufacturing of its newest car.
The company aims to make 5,000 of its mass market Model 3 a week by the end of this year.
It has estimated it is already spending about $100 million a week to hit that target.
On August 4, Tesla said was looking to raise $1.5 billion by selling bonds, but after one week it said it now expected to raise $1.77 billion from the sale.
The fundraising is limited to major institutions and not private investor.
Junk bonds are ones that pay a higher yield than normal bonds (5.3% in Tesla’s case), but also carry a higher risk of not being paid back. The bonds are set to be repaid in 2025.
Analysts said Tesla‘s ability to raise more than $1.5 billion indicated an appetite for risk among investors, as low interest rates have limited returns in many other types of investments. High stock market valuations have also made it harder to make a profit.
“Without the proceeds from the note offering, Tesla’s liquidity position would be stressed,” analysts at Moody’s said, warning of risks to potential investors.
Tesla had about $3 billion in cash at the end of June, but it spent more than $2 billion in the most recent quarter.
The company has frequently turned to investors to overcome persistent operating losses.
Tesla plans to eventually make more than 500,000 of the new Model 3 cars a year at its Fremont factory – or about 10,000 per week.
Moody’s said the target was ambitious given the relatively small size of the US electric car market.
When you hear about state and private pension reform in the UK, it is fair to say that the majority of changes are met with negativity. In recent times, we have seen the value of the typical state pension fall while the age at which citizens can comfortably retire in Britain is also set to increase incrementally over the next 20 years.
This trend has changed recently, however, with the announcement that gay applicants will now be able to secure equal pension benefits in the workplace.
Image source Public Domain Pictures
So how has this change come about, and what does it mean for citizens?
The Rule Change: A Seminal Moment for UK Pensions
The issue of equal pension rights has been a source of some controversy in recent times, thanks primarily to an exemption in the Equality Act that has historically enabled employers to exclude same sex civil partners and spouses from access to pension funds. More specifically, it prevented these applicants from receiving funds that were paid in prior to the Civil Partnership Act being passed into law back in 2005, with businesses thought to be leveraging this loophole to reduce pension payouts.
The legislation was finally challenged by retired businessman John Walker, 66, who brought a case to the Supreme Court in an attempt to secure the equal pension rights upon his death for his husband. He argued that his partner should receive the same benefits and payout as any same sex couple, and after a prolonged legal battle the court finally ruled unanimously in his favour last week. As a result, the exemption has been immediately discontinued and any companies that continue to discriminate on this basis will be found to be breaking the law.
The Last Word: What Does This Mean for the Industry and Same Sex Applicants
The ruling will have a far-reaching impact on the industry, as same sex applicants will now be eligible to receive 50% of the value of a pension (for the remainder of their life) in the event of their partners’ death. According to the government’s figures, the full equalisation of pension rights will cost an estimated £3.3 billion to UK firms, with the public sector likely to be the most adversely affected.
From the perspective of same sex applicants, the ruling is exceptionally good news and eases much of the concern and worry that has blighted homosexual couples as they approach retirement. It also means that they can make more certain plans for their future, with service providers such as Tilney available to help applicants optimise their pension funds.
Above all else, it is another victory for equality in the UK and one that will have a seismic and instant impact on the pension sector.
The US has averaged growth of 184,000 jobs per month this year, roughly on pace with last year and well above the level needed to match increases in the working age population.
Many economists believe the gains have put the labor market at or near so-called full employment, and predicted that wages would rise as employers compete for workers.
But wage growth, while steady in July, has not accelerated.
The average hourly wage in the US was $26.36 in July, up 2.5% year-on-year. That was same pace as in June and slower than some prior months.
One reason for the lackluster wage growth may be that many of the job gains this year have been in lower-paid industries such as leisure and hospitality, where the average hourly wage was less than $15.50 in July.
That sector is responsible for almost a quarter of the more than 1m job gains since January.
There could also be more slack in the labor market than anticipated.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 5.3 million people working part-time in July who would have preferred full-time work, little changed since June.
The number of discouraged workers – who are not looking for work because they do not believe there are jobs available – has also changed little since July 2016.