US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s Historical First State Visit in East Asia

Recognizing the primordial importance of the United States of America’s alliances with Japan, North Korea and China, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the Trump’s administration top diplomat has been in a six-day, three-nation Asian tour since March 15, 2017. See below the developments of his series of Asian business trips:

Meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, leader of the world’s fourth-largest economy, in Tokyo on March 16, 2017

While in Tokyo, Japan. Secretary of State Tillerson said that “Efforts over the past 20 years to bring North Korea to the point of denuclearization have failed; we have had 20 years of failed approaches.”

While with his diplomatic counterpart Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, and ahead of a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Secretary of State Tillerson stated that given this ever-escalating threat of the North Korea nuclearization, the US diplomat is convinced that there is a need for a different approach. The proposal would serve as an alternative strategy to the two last decades of failed policy of confronting North Korea nuclearization. Details of a new approach were not offered. Possible preemptive military strike against North Korean nuclear facilities was not discussed.

Guided by the need to reaffirm with the US States’ security commitment to Japan against potential attacks from North Korea, State Secretary Trillerson has reiterated his concern over challenges to Japan sovereignty in the East China Sea and its trade relationship with the United States.

The most controversial of his visit was to North Korea.

The visiting US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to North Korea’s DMZ on the border between North and South Korea.

His official trip to North Korea was part of a three-country tour of the region. He pursued such official task amid heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula following recent North Korea missile launches. Further, there are also fears that it is preparing for another nuclear test.

Excerpts from this site are these important details: Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson ruled out on Friday opening any negotiation with North Korea to freeze its nuclear and missile programs and said for the first time that the Trump administration might be forced to take pre-emptive action “if they elevate the threat of their weapons program” to an unacceptable level.

Tillerson on North Korea: Military action is ‘an option.’

According to the top diplomat, the United States is looking forward for the enlistment of more support from China which is North Korea’s main economic ally. This will be done through reining in the launching of ballistic missiles and nuclear tests in Pyongyang. However, he added that President Trump had been belligerent rhetoric toward China. This has complicated the task of the nation which includes the threat of trade sanctions.

Visiting Tillerson at China

“We do believe they [the Chinese] have a very important role to play,” Secretary Tillerson said Thursday. “China is a major source of economic trade and activity with North Korea. China has long stated their policy that they too want a denuclearized North Korea.”

China, following his trips to Japan and North Korea, is the final leg of his first official trip to Asia, most challenging and delicate stop.

Secretary Tillerson’s two-day visit will be an avenue for the receiving party in China as well as himself to consider discussing thoroughly with a host of issues which pose significant threats or derail the world’s most important bilateral relationship.

The agenda of Secretary Tillerson will include seeking China’s help in containing North Korea, as well as pushing China on its disputed claims over the South China Sea. Given the planned strategies of the US, China will seek any clarification about US threats of a possible trade war.

The forthcoming meeting of Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump, which is tentatively scheduled next month in the US, will increasingly need closer and more constant coordination. In view thereof, he will be taking the opportunity of preparing the meeting of two (2) leaders.

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President Trump’s Meets with Taoiseach Enda Kenn

Recognizing the bilateral relation between the United States and the Ireland, President Donald Trump welcomed Taoiseach Enda Kenny of Ireland and his contingent in the White House on March 16, 2017.

Remarks by President Trump and Taoiseach Enda Kenny of Ireland at Friends of Ireland Luncheon. Trump meets with Irish leader Enda Kenny, declares ‘I really love Ireland’.

With Taoiseach Enda Kenny high esteemed with President Trump, he congratulated him on his election, unopposed, as the 45th president of the United States of America, backed by the Republican Party coalition which has been at the forefront of his vision, “Making America Great Again,” among others.

They discussed and agreed upon the following important concerns of great interest to both countries such as:

  • United States-Ireland recognized long economic and cultural ties as part of the White House’s celebration of the St. Patrick’s Day.
  • The value of the expansion of the powerful United States-Ireland trade relationship including the identification of new opportunities which have impacts on global issues.
  • Opportunities and risks attendant to Ireland in the wake of the decision of the United Kingdom to the leave the European Union. 
  • The importance of the political parties of Northern Ireland vision in realizing a shared regional government aimed at sustaining the peace process officially launched by the Good Friday Agreement.

To strengthen a bond that thrives, inspires and endures between the United States and Ireland and in a move to become one of the defining decisions of the tenure of Enda Kenny as Taoiseach he invited US President Donald Trump to visit Ireland during his presidency.

The President praised the “tremendous contributions” Irish immigrants and their descendants have made to American life.

The landmark visit of President Trump will continue to pave the way for further cooperation between the nations on issues of mutual concern. This visit which will be another milestone in their respective national histories. Further, the government of Ireland will look forward to the continuing concerted efforts in working with the government of the United States of America towards achieving larger goals for both of their peoples. Moreover, it anticipates intensification of the partnership between them and for more vigorous bilateral relations between them.

In the conclusion of their meeting, see the final words of the US president: President Trump: “God bless Ireland, Northern Ireland and the United States of America.”

Along with the final words uttered by President Trump, their meeting was also highlighted by these important details: “The Taoiseach Enda Kenny is said to have pushed a heavy Northern-Irish agenda to try and garner help with continued peace in the province by invoking the help of the new President. Along with emphasis put on the 50,000 undocumented Irish in America, the event was about shared foreign trade and future partnership. ”

Again, the recently-concluded meeting was a meaningful and fruitful visit of Enda Kenny infused with greater urgency and focused on their common concerns. It has reinforced their common commitment to regular exchange and greater dialogue necessary to contribute significantly to furthering existing friendly relations between their countries and peoples.

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President Donald Trump’s Stance: Buy America, Hire America

Donald Trump’s promises before his victory as the 45th president of the United States of America were highlighted by bringing back jobs for American auto workers and rebuilding America’s manufacturing base, among others. Reiterating his determination, he made remarks before the American auto workers at the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan, U.S. on March 15, 2017.

Among those mentioned by President Trump in his remarks was “We are going to make the process much more simple for auto companies, and everyone else who wants to do business in the United States.”

Buy American and Hire American for the United States Automobile Industry

The preceding news as cited on the website of the White House was released to the public by the Office of the Press Secretary on March 15, 2017.

In a related news entitled, “Trump throws automakers a regulatory lifeline,” was another version of narrating the highlights of the American Center Mobility 2017 presidential remarks. It stated that” President Donald Trump on Wednesday granted automakers a wish they have been pushing hard for over the past year — a signal that tougher fuel-economy standards and greenhouse gas emission rules slated to go into effect between 2021 and 2025 might be relaxed. ”

A related statement that President Donald Trump did not talk about self-driving cars during his Wednesday speech in Ypsilanti Township, but he did promise to help the rapidly evolving industry, said John Maddox, CEO of the American Center for Mobility, is cited here.

President Trump announced about the reaffirmation of his two (2) allied executive departments shared commitment. These are the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) under the Department of Transportation. According to him, they are in the process of reinstating the Midterm Evaluation of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) standards intended for the automotive industry.  In 2016, EPA estimated that to comply with CAFE-GHG standards from 2012-2025, it would entail $200 billion.

“By reinstating the Midterm Evaluation, the Trump Administration will examine, and if necessary, revise, the regulations on auto manufacturers and the attendant costs passed on to consumers.”

“These standards are costly for automakers and the American people,” according to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Trump: I will fight to keep auto industry in the US

“It could take a year for the review process to play out, and Wednesday’s event was effectively a starting gun for intense lobbying efforts over how government policy will drive technology investment decisions in the auto sector,” as stated in an article.

Under the promotion of the supreme interest of the autoworkers in the sideline of the current administration stance: Buy America, Hire America, the automaker’s commitments are as follows:

  • Ford will focus on adding 700 jobs in Michigan instead of putting a plant in Mexico.
  • General Motors has planned to create over 1000 new jobs. Accordingly, it is serious in its commitment in planning for the investment of $1 billion in the United States.
  • Fiat Chrysler has envisioned to create 2,000 jobs. To realize its plan, it announced its commitment to investing $1 billion to modernize two plants located in the United States.

Realizing the effects of the excessive regulations that hamper workers, families, and business, President Trump has taken its solid stance on the following:

  • Directing each agency involved to establish a Regulatory Reform Task Force mandated to identify costly and unnecessary regulations which are deemed to be modified or repealed.
  • Requiring that for every new Federal regulation approved, it is required to eliminate two existing regulations.
  • Directing the Department of Commerce to do two important tasks such as streamlining Federal which permits processes for purposes of domestic manufacturing as well as reduction of regulatory burdens on manufacturers in the local level.
  • Signing House Joint Resolution No. 38 which stops the burdensome “Stream Protection Rule.” 
  • Ordering the review of the “Clean Water Rule: Definition of Waters of the United States” rule, to determine whether or not it is considered as stifling job creation or economic growth.
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Key Investor Sues Theranos on Allegations of Fraud

Theranos

The problems currently facing Theranos are showing no sign of abating soon after a major investor filed a lawsuit against the American health technology company and its founder for lying to investors to raise funds.

Partner Fund Management, one of Theranos’ biggest investors, on Monday filed a lawsuit against the medical-testing firm in Delaware Court of Chancery, accusing it of lying about performance to raise nearly $100 million in investment.

“Theranos and its principals knowingly and repeatedly lied that they had developed proprietary technologies that worked, were on the cusp of receiving all necessary regulatory clearances and approvals, and concealed the truth about the commercial viability of their technologies and methods,” the San Francisco-based hedge fund said in a statement.

Partner Fund is seeking in the suit filed under seal to have a stock-purchase agreement with Theranos to be overturned.

The suit was the first of several expected from investors following recent scandals surrounding the activities of the health technology company, the capability of whose technology has come under intense scrutiny. The Palo Alto, California-based firm is reportedly being investigated at both federal and state levels.

In a statement released Monday, Theranos dismissed the lawsuit filed against it by Partner Fund, saying the complaint lacked merit. It stated readiness to fight the complaint “vigorously.” The company noted that most the statements credited to it in the suit were made after the hedge fund had already made its investment and, as such, could not have served as the main basis for investment.

Founder Elizabeth Holmes had claimed that her company was able to perform dozens of tests and produce accurate results using just a few drops of blood, unlike what rival companies offered. This contributed to boosting Theranos’ valuation to about $9 billion in 2014 and making investors put around $800 million into the firm.

Partner Fund invested $96.1 million in Theranos in February, according to Bloomberg, which cited an anonymous person familiar with the matter.

A report by the Wall Street Journal last October raised questions about the accuracy and reliability of the health technology firm. Investigation by the newspaper revealed that the company only used its own in-house technology for only a little portion of tests carried out, while the most were done using equipment made by traditional manufacturers.

Theranos and Holmes were sanctioned by U.S. regulators in July following discovery of systematic shortcomings in laboratory testing, putting patients’ health at risk. A two-year ban from owning or operating a laboratory was also considered against the company’s founder.

Theranos, which has already voided thousands of test results, currently has an appeal pending against the sanctions imposed on it.

Last week, Holmes announced the closure of the company’s blood-testing labs and wellness centers. The decision led to the dismissal of 340 employees.

The Theranos founder has revealed that the firm would shift its attention from blood-testing to developing and selling products to external laboratories. She said the company would now give its “undivided attention” to commercializing its miniLab tool said to be capable of producing more accurate results from a few drops of blood.

Bloomberg reports that another set of investors filed a lawsuit against Theranos in the same Delaware court on Tuesday.

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Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card Goes Viral

CHASE SAPPHIRE RESERVE

While you may be trying to decide on a credit card, one card has already gone viral, making it of obvious interest to anyone in a quandary over a credit card pick. People are even seen on YouTube, boasting to everyone about owning their precious new credit card – the one that displays a metallic rectangle. Blogs and message boards are also obsessing over the Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit card. On Reddit alone, the card has already sparked as many as 6,000 comments.

The card is so popular that JPMorgan Chase, the card’s issuer, ran out of the card’s fancy engraved metal stock after only 10 days, requiring the company to send a temporary plastic placeholder out to disappointed consumers.

As a result, large credit card issuers are in a type of arms race, all of them introducing tempting rewards programs to catch the attention of affluent customers who spend large amounts of money on recreation and travel. However, these same customers do not want to be bound to a specific airline or hotel’s rewards program.

While the Chase Sapphire Reserve card comes with a $450 annual fee, it still offers a bottom-line value proposition. Matt Schulz, who is an analyst for CreditCards.com, made the following comment. He said, “American Express used to have a stranglehold on the high-end market, but folks like Chase and Citi are coming hard after their crown.” He added, “It’s the best time in years to shop for a rewards card.”

Historically, the Platinum card featured by American Express was a trailblazer of the premium category and its unrivaled champion. However, in 2014, Citi upgraded its high-end Prestige credit card to compete with the Platinum card. The Prestige, like the Platinum card, offered free hotel stays, transferable points that were redeemable for upgrades and airfares, and access to private golf courses and lounges at airports. The card offered spending incentives that permitted customers to cash in more quickly.

One spokeswoman for Chase, Amy Bonitatibus, spoke about the phenomenal response of the Sapphire Reserve. She said, “It significantly exceeded our expectations.” The card has been a particular hit with millennials, who make up the majority of cardholders. Given that many millennials are turning down credit card offers, this small detail is definitely noteworthy in the credit card industry.

Most of the consumers have fallen for the perks and rewards of the Chase Sapphire Reserve. In fact, according to one financial expert, the rewards are so good, people are afraid some of them might be taken away.

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Manitoba Looking to Proposes New Payday Loan Regulations

New Regulations

Earlier this month, the government of Manitoba announced new consumer protection rules that aim to protect citizens from costly payday loans. The latest round of regulations came into effect this month, and lenders were provided with 48 hours to revise their products.

The Justice Ministry decided to rein in the short-term, high-interest loan industry after numerous complaints of confusing terms, a growing number of people entering into endless cycles of debt and plenty of concerns from municipalities.

Under the new rules, businesses that provide consumers with high-cost credit products will be required to be licensed under the province’s Consumer Protection Office. Payday loan stores like Landmark Cash will also be mandated to provide potential borrowers with a detailed information disclosure document that outlines all of the costs, fees and other charges related to the financial product. Also, payday loan companies must display clear signage that explain related cost and fees.

One of the biggest changes that will affect the entire industry is the rule that allows borrowers to cancel and repay their loans within 48 hours without any penalties.

“High-cost credit products, or ‘payday loan-like’ products, can be confusing for some consumers and lead people into a cycle of borrowing that’s hard to get out of,” said Justice Minister Heather Stefanson, in a statement. “This new legislation ensures there is transparency in the process and helps consumers make more informed decisions.”

The legislation further entails that payday loan firms will support the Manitoba Borrowers’ Financial Literacy Fund. They will put money into this program through their licensing fees. The initiative is aimed at educating borrowers and potential borrowers about payday loans and the industry overall.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) government was the first to introduce such legislation in 2013. Ron Lemieux, the minister who was in charge of consumer protection at the time, wanted to amend the Consumer Protection Act and assist consumers in getting credit and avoiding payday loans.

Many jurisdictions across Canada are either proposing or implementing new payday loan regulations. The province of British Columbia recently changed the maximum allowable charge on payday loans from $23 to $17, which makes it the second-lowest in Canada. Meanwhile, the Alberta government also altered the maximum allowable charge to $15, which is now the lowest amount in the Great White North.

This initiative to restrict payday loans is also taking place south of the border.

At all three levels of government, public officials and consumer advocacy groups have been pushing hard to either limit or even prohibit the payday loan industry from operating. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a proposal this past summer that would install a regulatory framework at the federal level for the very first time in the nation’s history.

Proponents of payday loans say it offers impoverished consumers access to credit, especially when financial institutions turn down these same customers for conventional credit products. Opponents say that payday loans do more harm than good because it sends the most vulnerable into endless cycles of debt in which they are unable to pay back.

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Getting Hurt at Work Can Irreparably Damage Your Bank Account

accident

From adolescence to around the age of 65, most people in the US spend most of their time working. Assuming that an average person works around 40 hours per week during that time, he clocks about 90,400 hours, on average, during his work years. Considering the amount of time spent on the job, it is not at all surprising that a large number of mishaps happen at work.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, over 4,600 fatalities occurred on the job in 2014 and over three million people suffered serious injuries in the workplace. The figures represent multiple classifications, or workers with differing levels of medical coverage. News figures shows the workers are categorized as independent contractors, and full-time, part-time, temporary, and permanent employees.

While the Affordable Care Act has provided an increased access to health coverage, medical bills can still leave injured workers struggling financially. High deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance, lost wages, daycare costs, and travel to and from medial facilities show that the costs add up very quickly.

One actuarial firm published a medical index for the previous 15 years. Known as the Millman Medical Index, or MMI, the index calculates the median healthcare cost for a household of four. The statistics show that the amount spent for healthcare has more than tripled since 2001 (at that time, it was approximately $8,400), and now is tallied at around $25,800.

The increase surpasses the growth of the consumer price index (CPI) for healthcare services as well as the 2% calculated increase in median income from 2004 to 2014. Compared to employers, employees currently bear a large part of the burden for the majority of medical expenses. Reports show consumers pay around 43%, an increase from 39% during the 15-year period.

As a result, it is not difficult to see how getting injured at work can also injure someone’s financial standing. Over the past 10 years, the median amount middle-income households spent for medical care increased by just over 50%, which is almost double the growth in salaries (30%), and three times the rate of growth for services and products.

In turn, unpaid medical bills are currently the major reason for bankruptcy filings. Calculated at 62%, the costs surpass mortgage and credit card debt. Job loss is another reason that debts are left unpaid. Losing a job also means the loss of health insurance.

Therefore, financial professionals warn workers to protect themselves if they receive an illness or injury on the job site. Whether the condition is an acute traumatic type injury (such as falling from a ladder) or one that is a cumulative-trauma type condition (like carpal-tunnel syndrome), you need to take the following steps:

  • Report the injury to whoever is in charge. Be clear about what occurred and that it happened on the job. Report the injury even if you do not believe it is serious. The back you strain may not need to be treated for a few days. If you don’t report an injury then, the employer could claim you were not injured on the job.
  • Maintain good records. Organization and showing proof can make the difference between losing financial reimbursement and winning an employment claim. You need to make sure all medical reports, insurance documentation, and incident reports are completely filled out. Make sure all the paperwork is fully completed and all the related expenses are thoroughly recorded.
  • Consider contacting a lawyer. Workplace injury cases can be complex as they involve physicians, independent consultants, physical therapists, insurance company attorneys, and adjusters. Talk to an attorney to evaluate your case. The first consultation is usually free.

Workplace injuries can originate from a broad range of causes. Most injuries happen from bending, climbing, and reaching. They also result from being caught between objects, repetitive motions, falling from heights, overexertion, falling objects, slip-and-fall accidents, and vehicle mishaps. Keeping a work area free of clutter and keeping a steady pace during the day are two ways to avoid or prevent an injury.

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