New ABC / WaPo Poll Shows Drop In Trump Favorability Courtesy Of Aggressive “Oversamples”

January 17, 2017

In the month during the run up to the election on November 8th, we repeatedly demonstrated how the mainstream media polls from the likes of ABC/Washington Post, CNN and Reuters repeatedly manipulated their poll samples to engineer their desired results, namely a large Hillary Clinton lead (see “New Podesta Email Exposes Playbook For Rigging Polls Through ‘Oversamples’” and “ABC/Wapo Effectively Admit To Poll Tampering As Hillary’s “Lead” Shrinks To 2-Points“).  In fact, just 16 days prior to the election an ABC/Wapo poll showed a 12-point lead for Hillary, a result that obviously turned out to be embarrassingly wrong for the pollsters.

But, proving they still got it, ABC/Washington Post and CNN are out with a pair of polls on Trump’s favorability this morning that sport some of the most egregious “oversamples” we’ve seen.  The ABC/Wapo poll showed an 8-point sampling margin for Democrats with only 23% of the results taken from Republicans…

ABC Poll


…while the CNN poll showed a similar 8-point advantage for Democrats with only 24% of respondents identifying as Republicans.

“A total of 1,000 adults were interviewed by telephone nationwide by live interviewers calling both landline and cell phones. Among the entire sample, 32% described themselves as Democrats, 24% described themselves as Republicans, and 44% described themselves as independents or members of another party.


Of course, as we’ve repeatedly pointed out, these sampling mixes couldn’t be further from reality.



And while a quick 2 second review of the methodology of these polls immediately reveals their obvious bias, here are some of the results.

ABC latched on to the conclusion that Trump is just being super mean to the media…

57% of Americans see Donald Trump’s treatment of the news media as unfair in new @ABC News/WaPo poll: 

Photo published for Trump to Enter Office as Most Unpopular President in at Least 40 Years, Poll Finds

Trump to Enter Office as Most Unpopular President in at Least 40 Years, Poll Finds

Trump is the most unpopular incoming president since at least Jimmy Carter.

ABC / Wapo Poll


Even though they found that the media is treating him “fairly.”

ABC / Wapo Poll


Meanwhile, ABC/WaPo found that President-elect Trump is the least popular candidate to take the White House in modern history, with a 40% approval rating…

ABC / Wapo Poll


…while his cabinet picks were apparently equally disliked by ABC/Wapo’s disaffected Hillary supporters.

ABC / Wapo Poll


In conclusion, this seemed to sum up today’s polls perfectly:

The same people who did the phony election polls, and were so wrong, are now doing approval rating polls. They are rigged just like before.

Thailand: When the police double as murderers

January 17, 2017

Losing hope in dysfunctional, broken society

17 Jan 2017 at 04:30

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‘Love triangle’ murder of Suphaksorn Ponthaisong (seen above, her mother is holding her picture)

There are seven suspects in the ‘love triangle’ .murder of Suphaksorn Ponthaisong – of whom four are current or former officers of the military or police. (Bangkok Post file photo)

As the military regime dreams about a 20-year strategic plan for Thailand, people on the street seem to be composing an unofficial guideline on how to stay alive and out of jail in this increasingly dysfunctional country.

Don’t resist a robbery. Don’t get on public commuter vans. Don’t share news reports online even if they are produced by internationally renowned news organisations.

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Maybe we shouldn’t own a car either as we could end up like former teacher Jomsap Saenmuangkhote who claimed to have been wrongfully imprisoned over a fatal car accident. The list is long and growing as each day brings more cases that seem to shake the people’s trust in the country’s law enforcement and justice system.

Those who still believe that everything is fine in La La Thailand, that we are heading to a better tomorrow, toward reform and long-term development as advertised by the government, consider this. Among eight suspects wanted in the alleged abduction and murder of a woman involved in the high-profile love triangle case, four are either active or former police and military officers.

The alleged mastermind, Pol Col Amnuay Phongsawad, is superintendent of Ban Pong police station in Ratchaburi. That is no doubt a high-ranking position. It’s one whose occupant is expected to have a proven track record and a high degree of integrity.

The murder of Suphakson Ponthaisong, 28, seems to have destroyed the trust. Even though Pol Col Amnuay, who turned himself in to police, denied the murder charge, he reportedly admitted having a dispute with Suphakson and ordered some men to give her “a lesson”.
For some reason, the “lesson” turned out to be a shallow grave for Suphakson. What people can’t help but wonder, however, is whether Pol Col Amnuay’s attitude that police officers can give people “a lesson” whenever they want to is an acceptable practice within the force.

If so, this case may reveal a systemic fault with the police department, credited as the start of the justice system, that runs much deeper than the authorities may be willing to admit.

That is not all. The eighth, and latest, suspect detained in the case is a kamnan in Ratchaburi. During a press conference last Saturday, the village headman claimed Pol Col Amnuay phoned him in November…

The headman’s confession made it appear like putting together a death squad was simple, everyday business. The only awkward part, however, is these people are public officials and law enforcement officers.If they double as murderers, what hope do we have?

It’s true we, ordinary people, have no choice but to keep our hopes up as we struggle to stay alive and fight another day. Still, it’s discouraging to consider how broken the entire system has been. Think about the iPhone robbery earlier this month in which a young man was stabbed to death. One of the suspects in that case was found to have been in and out of jail eight times. That should not be treated as a normal thing.

The crime was shocking when it occurred but do we know what turned a youngster into a repeat offender like that? Do we care?

As time passes by and the shock factor has faded, maybe we become less willing to face up to the fact that society is simply failing.

The same is true with substandard public commuter vans or inter-provincial tour buses that are prone to serious accidents. The government may replace public vans with minibuses on inter-provincial routes but the enforcement problem and human error including a tendency for drivers to drive fast and recklessly to make more trips will remain.
As we try to cope with developments in society, with news that hundreds of applicants to the police force allegedly cheated in the entrance examination, and with repeated floods and the same old ineffective  methods to cope with them, isn’t it about time to accept that something is completely wrong in this society which won’t be easily fixed?

See also:

EDITORIAL – ‘Misreporting’ (Philippine Star)

January 17, 2017

Media groups trotted out yesterday video and tape recordings to prove that indeed President Duterte had threatened to declare martial law if the drug menace became exceptionally “virulent.” Malacañang officials, for their part, insisted that the President’s words had been “misreported” and journalists had again missed the context and nuance of his public pronouncement made over the weekend in Davao City.

Yesterday Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II added to the voices of administration officials who said the President did not intend to declare martial law. For all his talk about emulating his favorite predecessor Ferdinand Marcos and imposing military rule, President Duterte had previously said he considered it “stupid” and unnecessary to declare martial law at this time. He should just stick to that message to avoid seeing his statements misreported.

Amid the bickering, several senators gave a sound advice yesterday: the President should just stop talking about martial law. In many of his speeches, President Duterte has been rambling on about his options in attaining his objective of eliminating all drug dealers in the country, down to the last man and woman. And he keeps mentioning martial law as a weapon against criminality and general lawlessness. Journalists simply pick up the statements.

Every utterance of the head of government is news, whether it is said openly in public, whispered off-mike, texted, tweeted or posted on Facebook, as US president-elect Donald Trump is finding out. President Duterte should learn from the travails of the incoming US leader whom he considers a friend.

ay be familiar with the wartime admonition that loose lips sink ships. When one is prone to rambling in public, leaving a wide room for different interpretations, there is virtue in circumspection. If President Duterte sincerely believes imposing martial law is needless and stupid, he should just shut up about it.

 (Philippine Star,

“President Duterte sees a loophole in the current Constitution that is supposed to have safeguards against the declaration of martial law in the country.”

 (December 29, 2016)

 (Duterte to declare martial law only if needed, Philippine Inquirer, December 28, 2016 )

United States Congress set to introduce Hong Kong human rights act ‘in coming days’

January 17, 2017

Bill proposed in wake of disappearances of five Causeway Bay booksellers looks to target officials responsible for suppressing freedoms

By Stuart Lau
South China Morning Post
UPDATED : Tuesday, January 17, 2017, 10:18 pm

The United States Congress looks set to introduce a human rights act on Hong Kong “in the coming days” as Donald Trump takes his anti-China rhetoric to the presidency, the Post has learned.

“I look forward to reintroducing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act in the coming days,” Marco Rubio, co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China, said in an email through a spokesman on Tuesday. “America must show leadership and support these values in our foreign policy.”

The bill was proposed in the wake of the disappearances of five Causeway Bay booksellers in 2015 who later turned up in the custody of mainland authorities. It proposed punitive measures against any government officials in Hong Kong or the mainland responsible for suppressing basic freedoms in the city.

The law would require the US president to identify persons responsible for the surveillance, abduction, detention or forced confessions of booksellers and journalists in Hong Kong or other actions suppressing basic freedoms, and to freeze their US-based assets and deny them entry into the country.

 U.S. President-elect Donald Trump

Trump’s ascension to the presidency has raised hopes among democracy activists in Hong Kong that the US will take a harder line against China on the city’s democratic development.

In recent weeks Trump has questioned the one-China policy which governs America’s relationship with Taiwan and made overtures of support to Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen, sparking a fresh point of contention with Beijing.

Trump’s words have left Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp waiting to see if they will find an ally in the incoming leader.

The guest list for Trump’s inauguration in Washington on Friday includes Anson Chan Fang On-sang, the city’s former No 2 official turned democracy activist. Chan, who was invited by her Republican contacts, said she hoped to meet the president-elect.

Under the Obama administration, the US government has ­spoken out from time to time on issues such as the Occupy ­pro-democracy protests and the ­disappearances of the Causeway Bay booksellers.

 Former chief secretary Anson Chan hopes to meet US president-elect Donald Trump face to face in Washington. Photo: Edward Wong

“Hong Kong is a critical global financial hub and well known to Mr Trump, his powerful inner circle of global financial players and, of course, many members of his likely cabinet,” said Nirav Patel, president of The Asia Group, a US-based consultancy firm.

The former deputy assistant secretary of state for the US government’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs called it the “right game plan” for Trump to support the “unique qualities of Hong Kong’s political culture and system”.

“The president-elect’s actions since the election – as evidenced by his commitment to double down on strategic engagement with India and Japan and stand up against Chinese assertiveness – demonstrate that he is committed to standing with and up for America’s Asian allies and partners,” Patel said.

But any political involvement in the city’s affairs will no doubt fuel Beijing’s unease over what it calls “interference” by foreign governments in Hong Kong civil society.

Pro-Beijing politicians have claimed that the student-led Occupy movement, which paralysed the city’s central business district in 2014, was plotted by foreign governments, referring indirectly to the US and Britain in particular.

Outgoing chief executive Leung Chun-ying vowed to provide evidence of foreign meddling in the political movement but never followed up on his pledge.

Trump’s inauguration coincides with the start of election season for the city’s top job. On the agenda will be how the next chief executive handles the contentious issue of universal suffrage, and whether the following election five years from now sees the city’s leader chosen not by the 1,200-member Election Committee but by all Hong Kong voters.

While pro-democracy figures like Chan hope Trump’s administration will support their cause, some observers question the president-elect’s level of interest in the city’s democratic development.

“There are differences between Taiwan and Hong Kong issues from a US policy perspective,” said Professor Richard Hu Weixing, head of the University of Hong Kong’s department of politics and public administration. Unlike Taiwan, he said, Hong Kong was not a “sensitive and defining issue” between the US and China.

While Washington might “weigh in to support Hong Kong’s democratisation process for ideological reasons and political value” and Trump could “escalate tension over Hong Kong if there is a highly contentious US-China relationship”, Hu said such a situation was unlikely in the near future, adding that Hong Kong was “not high on [Trump’s] agenda”.

Strong tensions between the two powers might not work out in the city’s favour. On the business side at least, Hong Kong would be vulnerable in the event of a US-China trade war.

Writing on the implications of a Trump presidency for Asia, Nomura analysts Young Sun Kwon and Minoru Nogimori said: “Hong Kong is the entrepôt for a significant amount of business between China and the US.”

They noted that declining trade volumes would be negative for local businesses in packaging exports from the mainland destined for the US.

Davos: President Xi Jinping Idealizes a Troubled China

January 17, 2017


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China’s President Xi Jinping delivers a speech on the opening day of the World Economic Forum, on January 17, 2017 in Davos. Photograph by Fabric Cofrini—AFP, Getty Images

China’s President Xi Jinping, also the Communist Party leader, opened the World Economic Forum in Davos today by promoting globalization in what was a clear sign that China is worried how potential trade barriers arising from populist movements in the U.S. and Britain will affect the country’s economic growth, of which exports remain a key component.

Xi was the first Chinese leader to attend the confab of global elites in its four decade history. His attendance alone was a sign of China’s concern. And then he started talking. “There is no point in blaming economic globalization for the world’s problems because that is simply not the case,” he said. “And that will not help to solve the problems.”

“Pursuing protectionism is like locking oneself in a dark room,” he added “While wind and rain may be kept outside, so are light and air … No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war.”

Xi understands global leaders are vulnerable to angry masses, including those in China. The focus of Chinese politics over the past three years has been to consolidate power in the hands of the Communist Party, stamping out pockets of dissent they fear could grow by clamping down on social media critics and putting more dissidents in jail.

In February an outspoken businessman who many in China compared to Donald Trump was silenced online after criticizing the Party (and he was as a Party member himself). Meanwhile, scores of human rights lawyers have been jailed.

Xi portrayed China’s market being open to global companies in his speech. “China will keep its door wide open, and not close it,” he said.

That conflicts with what foreign companies already in China think. Last year, the American Chamber of Commerce in China said more than three-quarters of its members in a survey felt that foreign businesses were less welcome than before in China because of unfair regulations, unclear laws, and Chinese protectionism. Companies from Apple (AAPL, +0.72%) to Qualcomm (QCOM, -0.04%) have recently come under fire from Chinese regulators.

Xi reminded attendees several times about the strength of China’s stable economy, with GDP growth near 7%. But that strength does not prove a Chinese miracle. The growth rate has stayed so clearly consistent because of an unprecedented explosion of government debt over the past year, even more than that during the country’s 2008-09 stimulus. The unease over the domestic economy has driven capital flight, hurting the yuan currency, and cutting China’s foreign reserves to $3 trillion at year’s end from $3.25 trillion to begin 2016.

Xi’s speech was deemed effective by some.

There is a vacuum when it comes to global economic leadership, and Xi Jinping is clearly aiming to fill it. With some success.

While others were dismissive of it, because of China’s recent history.

To everyone RTing glowingly about the Great Leader Xi’s comments about trade, openness, and other BS…..are you *#&@$! drunk?

Xi visited Davos with a delegation of more than 80 business executives. The message was that China believes in globalization at a time when the rest of the world is doubting it. But it also gave a hint of panic: if trade is diminished with the West, China will have one more crisis tugging at a vulnerable economy.


Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 17, 2017.REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
By Noah Barkin and Elizabeth Piper | DAVOS, SWITZERLAND

Chinese President Xi Jinping offered a vigorous defense of free trade at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday in a speech that underscored Beijing’s desire to play a greater global role as the United States turns inward.

In the first appearance by a Chinese leader at the annual meeting of political leaders, CEOs and bankers in the Swiss Alps, Xi also cautioned other countries against blindly pursuing their national interests, in an apparent reference to the “America first” policies of Donald Trump.

Real estate mogul and former reality TV star Trump, who will be inaugurated as U.S. president on Friday, campaigned on a promise to confront China more aggressively on trade.

He has vowed to renegotiate or ditch multilateral trade agreements and protect U.S. industries from foreign competition by levying new tariffs on goods from abroad.

Xi likened protectionism to “locking oneself in a dark room” in the hopes of protecting oneself from danger, but in so doing, cutting off all “light and air”.

“No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war,” Xi said in a nearly hour-long speech in a massive conference hall as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden looked on.

He said Beijing would not boost its trade competitiveness by devaluing its currency, something Trump has repeatedly said China has done in the past, and urged all signatories of a landmark climate deal in Paris last year to stick to the agreement.

Trump has criticized the deal and indicated he may pull the United States out of it.


As Trump vows to focus on American interests, Europe is increasingly pre-occupied with its own troubles, from Brexit and militant attacks to the string of elections this year in which anti-globalization populists could score gains.

This has left a vacuum that China seems eager to fill.

More than half a dozen senior Chinese government figures joined Xi in traveling to Davos, whereas in prior years Beijing sent fewer, lower-level officials.

A large number of sessions at the WEF are focused on Asia this year, including one entitled “Asia Takes the Lead”.

“In a world marked by great uncertainty and volatility the world is looking to China,” WEF founder and chairman Klaus Schwab said before welcoming Xi to the stage.

Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, reacting to Xi’s speech on Twitter, said: “There is a vacuum when it comes to global economic leadership, and Xi Jinping is clearly aiming to fill it. With some success.”

Ian Bremmer, president of political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, tweeted: “Davos reaction to Xi speech: Success on all counts. Miles away from any official Chinese speech before”.

Xi’s appearance took place at a time of rising tensions between Beijing and Trump, who broke with decades of precedent last month by taking a congratulatory telephone call from the president of Taiwan, which Beijing sees as part of China.

Last week Trump said that America’s “One China” policy was up for negotiation, triggering a furious response from state-run Chinese newspapers who said Beijing would be forced to “take off the gloves” if Trump did not change his rhetoric.

Although Xi painted a picture of China as a “wide open” economy, his government has come under mounting criticism from trading partners for its continued restrictions on foreign investments at a time when its state-run firms are aggressively pursuing acquisitions in Europe.

In an apparent nod to these criticisms, China’s cabinet announced ahead of Xi’s speech that it would take steps to ease limits on investment in banks and other financial institutions. But no further details were provided, nor a timetable for their implementation.

“Today, I think there is a big question mark as to how China pivots in this world,” Bob Moritz, global chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers, told Reuters in Davos.

“Will they be more regional or global in their mindset and, more importantly, in their negotiations? It’s something we are going to have to watch over the next 12 months.”


China, the world’s top exporter, is heavily dependent on free trade and would be hit hard by a new wave of protectionism and a broader backlash against globalization.

In his speech, Xi acknowledged that globalization had become a “Pandora’s Box”, benefiting certain segments of society while harming others. “”It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” Xi said, quoting Charles Dickens.

But he said globalization was not to blame for the global financial crisis, which he attributed to an excessive pursuit of profits, nor for the flood of refugees from the Middle East, which he said was due to conflicts in Syria and the broader region.

Fears of a hard economic landing in China roiled global markets during last year’s WEF meeting.

Those concerns have eased but the International Monetary Fund warned on Monday about ongoing risks to the Chinese economy, including its high reliance on government spending, record lending by state banks and an overheating property market.

Xi tried to send a reassuring message, saying the economy had entered a “new normal” driven by household consumption. Despite a sluggish global economy, he said China’s economy was likely to have grown by 6.7 percent in 2016.

But some economists in Davos remain cautious.

“China is still one of the biggest risks, and I think the only reason it is not at the top of the list is that the United States has become such a locus of uncertainty,” said Kenneth Rogoff, an economist at Harvard University.

(This version of the story was corrected to remove quote attributed wrongly to John Kerry)

(Additional reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Pravin Char)

Wilbur Ross, Trump’s Commerce pick, offshored 2,700 jobs since 2004

January 17, 2017

Unemployed autoworker Donald Coy, who was laid off from Ross’s auto-parts plant, when it closed its doors in December 2016, is pictured in front of the former manufacturing plant in Canton, Ohio, U.S., January 14, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk
By Andy Sullivan | WASHINGTON

Billionaire Wilbur Ross, chosen by Donald Trump to help implement the president-elect’s trade agenda, earned his fortune in part by running businesses that have offshored thousands of U.S. jobs, according to Labor Department data attained by Reuters.

As a high-stakes investor a decade ago, Ross specialized in turning around troubled manufacturing companies at a time when the U.S. economy was losing more than 100,000 jobs yearly due to global trade. A Senate confirmation hearing on his nomination to become commerce secretary is set for Wednesday.

Supporters say Ross saved thousands of U.S. jobs by rescuing firms from failure. Data attained by Reuters through a Freedom of Information Act request shows that rescue effort came at a price: textile, finance and auto-parts companies controlled by the private-equity titan eliminated about 2,700 U.S. positions since 2004 because they shipped production to other countries, according to a Labor Department program that assists workers who lose their jobs due to global trade. [For a graphic click]

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Wilbur Ross. Getty Images

The figures, which have not previously been disclosed, amount to a small fraction of the U.S. economy, which sees employment fluctuate by the tens of thousands of jobs each month. But Ross’s track record clashes with Trump’s promise to protect American workers from the ravages of global trade.

Recently, Trump claimed credit for saving 800 jobs at a Carrier Corp. factory in Indiana, even touring the plant to shake hands with employees. He has targeted Ford Motor Co (F.N) and other automakers to keep hundreds of jobs inside the U.S. borders.

That disconnect could draw attention at his hearing, one of many scheduled this week for Cabinet nominees ahead of Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

“He is not the man to be protecting American workers when he’s shipping this stuff overseas himself,” said Don Coy, who lost his job at the end of 2016 when a company Ross created – International Automotive Components Group – closed a factory in Canton, Ohio and shifted production of rubber floor mats to Mexico, eliminating the final 16 jobs in a factory that once employed 450 workers.

Ross resigned from the IAC board of directors in November 2014 and was named chairman emeritus.

Ross did not respond to several requests for comment. His offshoring activities are not unusual in an era when globalization has lowered international trade barriers. Auto-parts maker Delphi Corp., for example, has offshored 11,700 U.S. jobs since 2004, while textile makers have offshored at least 17,000 jobs since then, the Labor Department said.

As IAC shuttered its Canton plant in the final months of 2016, Ross argued on behalf of Trump that free-trade agreements hurt the United States.

“When Ford offshores new production facilities to Mexico, that both boosts the Mexican economy and reduces investment in this country,” he wrote in September in a Washington Post opinion piece penned with Peter Navarro, another Trump economic adviser who has been tapped to direct a White House trade council.

In a bid to reverse offshoring, Trump has threatened to impose “a big border tax” on automakers that choose to build cars in Mexico rather than the United States and has talked of resetting free-trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

A Trump transition spokesperson said personnel decisions at Ross’s auto-parts and textile companies were driven by the need to put operations near customers and keep U.S. plants competitive, echoing arguments made by other auto industry executives who face pressure from Trump.

“Few people have done as much to defend American jobs and negotiate good deals for American workers as Wilbur Ross,” said the spokesperson, who asked not to be named.

The offshoring figures for Ross’s companies came from the Labor Department’s Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, which provides retraining benefits to some workers who lose their jobs due to outsourcing or cheap imports. The program does not cover everybody who is hurt by global trade: service-sector workers were not eligible until 2009, and those who don’t apply for the program don’t show up in its records.

Only 1.6 million factory workers qualified for TAA benefits between 2001 and 2010, a time when the United States shed 6 million manufacturing jobs.

Despite Trump’s campaign rhetoric about countries like Mexico and China taking U.S. jobs, the TAA figures show globalization has claimed fewer jobs in recent years. The program covered roughly 80,000 workers last year, down from about 340,000 in 2009. [For a graphic, click]


Ross amassed a fortune, estimated by Forbes magazine at $2.5 billion, by buying up companies in struggling industries and returning them to profitability. Labor leaders such as United Steelworkers president Leo Gerard have said that Ross over the years saved thousands of manufacturing jobs.

In one case, Ross bought two struggling North Carolina fabric makers out of bankruptcy to create International Textile Group (ITG) in 2004, as textile import quotas were being phased out. Between 2005 and 2011, the company laid off 1,268 U.S. workers as it set up operations in Mexico, China and Nicaragua, TAA records show. ITG CEO Ken Kunenberger told Reuters that those job reductions were primarily due to competition from cheap imports.

ITG now operates six U.S. plants, down from nine in 2007, according to its annual reports. Ross sold the company in October for an undisclosed sum.

Ross also created International Automotive Components Group in 2007 to buy up auto-parts makers around the world as the industry struggled with overcapacity and slowing sales. TAA filings show IAC eliminated 853 U.S. jobs because it shifted work from the United States to Mexico.

“We tried every trick in the book to get them to stay but they just weren’t interested,” said Tim Scott, who served on the city council in Carlisle, Pennsylvania when IAC decided to close its plant there in 2009, shifting work to Mexico and Tennessee.

An IAC spokesperson said the company has expanded in Mexico to be near the automakers that buy its parts, a common business strategy in the sector.

IAC has expanded its workforce in Mexico and Canada by 42 percent to 8,500 since 2008, and by 10 percent in the United States to 11,000 over the same period, spokesman David Ladd said.

In another venture, Ross combined several mortgage lenders into Homeward Residential Holdings Inc. in 2007, just as the housing market was collapsing.

Homeward laid off 596 employees in Florida and Texas and shifted their work to India in 2012, according to TAA filings. That was a sizeable portion of the company’s global workforce, which it pegged at 2,800 a few months after the layoffs were announced.

Ross sold Homeward in October 2012 for $750 million, which delivered a further return on top of $900 million in profits the company had already generated.

“Homeward has been profitable in each year of its existence,” he said in a press release.

(Additional reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Edward Tobin)

Brazil police fire rubber bullets at inmates

January 17, 2017


© AFP | Rival prisoners prepare for violent clashes at the Alcacuz Penitentiary Center near Natal , northeastern Brazil, on January 17, 2017

NATAL (BRAZIL) (AFP) – Brazilian police fired rubber bullets Tuesday at inmates on the grounds of a jail where dozens were massacred over the weekend in the latest in a string of prison riots.Police positioned on top of the outer walls of the Alcacuz jail near the northeastern city of Natal fired at inmates who had taken control of part of the complex.


Horrific images show mutilated corpses piled up inside hellhole Brazilian prison after 33 inmates were slaughtered in bloody riot

Moldovan President Visits Russia, Hints of Ending EU Pact

January 17, 2017

MOSCOW — Moldova’s new president, who is visiting Russia on his first trip abroad, voiced hope Tuesday for rebuilding “strategic” ties with Moscow and hinted that the ex-Soviet nation could eventually shelve a trade pact with the European Union.

President Igor Dodon, who was elected in November, has pledged to restore the trade and political relations with Moscow that cooled after Moldova signed a trade association agreement with the EU.

Dodon said after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin that Moldova “got nothing” from the agreement while losing the lucrative Russian market. He said his government could move to annul the EU pact if it gets support for such a move after 2018 parliamentary elections.

He added that Moldova also was willing to take on observer status in a Russia-dominated economic alliance.

Standing alongside Putin, Dodon said Moldova “won’t repeat mistakes of the past” and will work to rebuild close ties with Russia.

The Russian leader hailed Dodon for making a trip to Moldova’s breakaway Trans-Dniester region, saying it showed courage and reflected respect for the region’s residents that could help settle a long-running separatist conflict.

Putin said Russia, which has its troops stationed in Trans-Dniester, could act as a mediator and a guarantor of a settlement.

Before his trip to Moscow, Dodon said he wanted closer relations with Russia. Ties between the two countries deteriorated after Moldova signed the European Union association agreement and Russia placed a trade embargo on Moldovan wine, fruit and vegetables.

Moldova, an agricultural nation of about 3.5 million located between Ukraine and Romania, exports mainly to the EU, with more than 50 percent of exports going to EU markets in 2016. Its top market is Romania.

Russia, however, has remained a major market for Moldovan workers. There are about 500,000 Moldovans working in Russia, especially in construction.


Alison Mutler in Bucharest, Romania contributed to this report.

Chinese buying copper as a shield against weakening yuan

January 17, 2017

Copper, U.S. dollar move nearly in lockstep as Chinese buy the metal as a shield against weakening yuan

Chinese speculators are buying copper in dollars on the New York and London exchanges, analysts say. Above, the trading floor of the open-outcry pit at the London Metal Exchange in December.

Chinese speculators are buying copper in dollars on the New York and London exchanges, analysts say. Above, the trading floor of the open-outcry pit at the London Metal Exchange in December. PHOTO: SIMON DAWSON/BLOOMBERG NEWS

Updated Jan. 17, 2017 6:43 a.m. ET

A surprising surge this winter in global copper prices shows the long reach of the strengthening dollar.

Copper has risen more than 25% over the past three months to $2.70 a pound in New York, hitting an 18-month high in December.

The gains have surprised some analysts because metals and other commodities tend to fall when the dollar appreciates. A stronger U.S. currency makes these materials more expensive to buyers around the globe, and the dollar recently hit a 14-year high against a basket of major currencies.


But copper and the dollar have been moving nearly in lockstep recently, a phenomenon that many analysts attribute to rising appetite for copper among Chinese investors seeking to protect their wealth against the risk that the yuan would depreciate sharply against other global currencies, primarily the dollar.

In November, the correlation between copper and the WSJ Dollar Index reached its highest level since 2007, according to FactSet data. Chinese speculators buying copper in dollars on the New York and London exchanges are one reason why the metal and dollar have been moving together, analysts say.

“As the yuan depreciates, Chinese investors typically want to own hard U.S. [dollar] denominated metals like copper,” said Ingrid Sternby, senior base metals analyst at Blenheim Capital Management LLC.

Copper joins a growing list of assets that the Chinese have been buying to shield themselves from further declines in the yuan, which recently touched an eight-year low against the dollar. They have poured money into overseas real estate and commodities such as gold. Even the value of the cryptocurrency bitcoin has soared or plunged this year based in part on Chinese traders moving in and out in response to the yuan’s fluctuations.

The copper rally means higher prices for industrial users of the metal, though it has been a boon to mining companies. Vancouver, British Columbia-based Capstone Mining Corp. has used futures contracts to sell future production at prices near current levels.

“It provides more certainty around our balance sheet,” said Darren Pylot, chief executive of the Canadian mining company. The rise in copper prices has also enabled the company to restart mining operations in a project that was previously shut down, prompting Capstone to hire back about 40 workers.

Chinese investors initially started buying copper locally to bet on an economic rebound, analysts said, piling in through contracts sold in yuan on the Shanghai exchange in the fall. Data from the London Metal Exchange show that daily copper volume in Shanghai surged in November to its highest in nearly one year, exceeding 1.3 million lots traded in one day.

As the yuan’s decline against the dollar began to gather steam, activity on dollar-denominated exchanges also picked up. Copper-trading volume on the London exchange was 65% higher in November, compared with the average monthly volume during the rest of the year, according to data from brokerage firm Marex Spectron.

LME data show that copper volume during Asian trading hours accounted for as much as 30% of all trades on the London exchange during the past two months, up from less than 10% in October, which traders say signals increased activity from China.

Demand for copper in Asia has also boosted volume on the New York Mercantile Exchange, where average daily volume more than doubled for the month of November.

The increased interest stands to make trading in the copper market even more frenetic, increasing risk—and reward—for those who take part. Howard Simons, an economic consultant and president of Rosewood Trading in Glenview, Ill., said volatility in copper prices this month has jumped to the highest level in nearly four years, based on a 21-day standard deviation of price changes.

“In five hours on one day, we saw [copper] prices trade in a range that would normally take a year” to play out, said Steve Hardcastle, head of client services at Sucden Financial.

Some investors say the burst of Chinese money in the copper market also means they now have to keep a closer eye on Chinese regulatory policy and capital controls that could affect Chinese retail trading. In November, the Shanghai Futures Exchange increased trading margins for copper and other metals in an effort to slow the buying frenzy.

It shows the power that China has over the copper market, said Joseph Murphy, Dublin-based portfolio manager at Mediolanum Asset Management, which manages about $35 billion in assets and has been increasing its investments in commodities. “That is a worry.”

Write to Stephanie Yang at and Rhiannon Hoyle at


Copper price jumps as China imports hit all-time high

January 17, 2017

At the end of November copper hit an 18-month high on the back of optimism about the possible impact of president-elect Donald Trump’s $500 billion-plus infrastructure plan on the metal, widely used in construction, manufacturing transportation and power industries.

The price has since come off the boil, official customs data from China, responsible for some 45% of global consumption of  the red metal, released overnight is helping the metal attempt these height again.

Copper futures trading on New York Comex added a couple of pennies trading near its day high of $2.6915 per pound ($5,934 a tonne) in lunchtime dealings. Copper is up 5.7% this week toCopper price jumps as China imports hit all-time high a one-month high.

China’s refined copper imports surged nearly 30% to 490,000 tonnes in December compared to November, boosting imports for 2016 to a new record of 4.95 million tonnes, up just under 3% compared to the 2015 total.

Concentrate imports soared in 2016,  with volumes gaining 28% year on year hitting an all-time high of 16.96 million tonnes for the year. December imports declined only 5% from the monthly record of  1.76 million tonnes in November.

Chinese imports compare to global mined production of an estimated 20.4 million tonnes per year.

After  underperforming other metals and steelmaking raw materials for the better part of 2016, copper has been playing catch-up and is now up 40% from six-year lows hit mid-January last year.