News Briefing - Monday, November 13th 2023
From US Top News and Analysis
Public workers may receive reduced Social Security benefits. There’s growing support in Congress to change that
Under the Government Pension Offset (GPO), Social Security benefits are reduced by two-thirds of the government pension amount. If the two-thirds of the government pension is higher than the Social Security benefit, the Social Security benefit may be reduced to zero. This rule has a significant impact on public employees, particularly firefighters, who often work second jobs in the private sector to earn credits toward Social Security. Edward Kelly, the general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, highlighted the far-reaching consequences of these rules. He expressed that many firefighters also work in jobs like cab drivers, bartenders, or truck drivers, where they contribute to Social Security. However, these public employees are being penalized because of their government pension, resulting in reduced or zero Social Security benefits. Kelly referred to this situation as theft, as public employees who have contributed to Social Security are essentially losing their money due to their public service. Teachers, police officers, and firefighters, among others, are all impacted by these rules. Kelly described his union members as "passionately angry" about this issue, emphasizing that it affects hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of public employees who have paid into Social Security.
Stock futures dip after Moody’s downgrades U.S. outlook: Live updates
U.S. stock futures dipped on Monday after Moody's Investors Service lowered its U.S. credit rating outlook to negative from stable. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 120 points, or 0.36%, while futures tied to the S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 both shed 0.5%. Moody's cited the "very large" fiscal deficits and partisan gridlock in Washington as contributing factors for the downgrade. While the U.S. credit rating remains AAA, the highest level, the lower outlook could impact the attractiveness of U.S. debt for foreign investors. The downgrade follows a similar move by Fitch three months ago. Investors will be watching economic data this week, including the monthly federal budget, the consumer expectations survey, and the consumer price index. The major averages are coming off two consecutive weeks of gains, with the S&P 500 rising 1.3%, and the Dow and Nasdaq gaining about 0.7% and 2.4%, respectively.
Wind power industry in moment of reckoning as stocks fall and earnings crumble
Renewable energy firms are facing a challenging earnings season due to supply chain issues, manufacturing problems, and rising production costs. The global demand for cleaner energy is outstripping the capacity of equipment manufacturers, leading to higher production costs and concerns about the economic viability of large-scale projects. Manufacturing faults, especially at Siemens Energy's wind turbine subsidiary Siemens Gamesa, have further exacerbated the situation. The problems have caused Siemens Energy to abandon its profit forecast and seek government guarantees. In addition, wind energy companies often struggle to secure seabed licenses as they are outbid by traditional oil and gas players. Even if they win contracts, electricity prices are often too low to justify the manufacturing costs. As a result, wind energy stocks have experienced significant declines this year. The first half of the year saw the combined assets of the world's eight largest renewable energy firms decrease by $3 billion, with wind projects particularly affected. Analysts view this as a "learning moment" for the renewable energy industry.
From BBC News - Home
PM facing tough week on Braverman and Rwanda
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing a challenging week in Westminster, with two major issues dominating the headlines: Home Secretary Suella Braverman's comments about police bias and the Supreme Court's decision on the government's plans to send migrants to Rwanda. There are rumors of a potential cabinet reshuffle, which some believe could happen as early as Monday. Braverman's remarks and her lack of sanction from Downing Street have caused discontent among her ministerial colleagues, leading to speculation that she could be moved in a reshuffle. The Supreme Court's ruling on Rwanda is also a significant moment for the government, regardless of who holds the position of home secretary. The decision could be a game changer if the government wins, giving a boost to Sunak and creating a sharp divide with Labour over the issue. Additionally, Wednesday will see inflation figures released, with the government increasingly confident that they will meet their promise of halving inflation this year. This is an essential achievement for the government, despite the ongoing financial pressures facing the public. Lastly, there is the possibility of a vote on a ceasefire in Gaza, which could put Labour in a difficult position if some frontbenchers choose to resign over the party's policy.
Welfare cuts worth billions planned by ministers
The UK government has reportedly drawn up plans to make large-scale changes to welfare benefits for people unable to work due to health conditions. The changes, which are estimated to save £4bn ($5.5bn) from the welfare budget, would require more people with physical and mental health conditions to seek employment. Currently, eligible claimants receive an additional £390 per month on top of their universal credit payment. If the proposals are implemented, some people may no longer receive this additional payment and would instead be expected to look for work. The changes are expected to begin affecting new claimants from 2025, with existing recipients eventually brought into the new system. Job centre work coaches will determine the amount of effort required for finding work, with sanctions imposed on those not making sufficient effort. Exceptions include individuals undergoing cancer treatment and those with terminal illnesses.
Illegal e-bike riders 'goading' officers, police say
Electric motorbikes, often referred to as e-bikes, are causing anti-social issues and endangering neighbourhoods, according to BBC West of England. E-bikes have made headlines in recent months after two high-profile crashes in which young people died. In an attempt to address the rising illegal use of e-bikes, the BBC joined police officers in Bristol while they patrolled the streets. The speeds at which the bikes operate – up to 80 miles per hour – and the fact that they travel without helmets, registration, insurance, or tax, make them difficult for the police to control. Sgt Richard Higbey said that forcing pursuits could have “tragic consequences” and that riders are “goading” the police into chase. Local residents have suggested that clearer guidance is needed, but others feel that the police face a no-win situation.
From - RSS Channel - App International Edition
Trump pleads not guilty to 34 felony counts
Former President Donald Trump's arraignment in a New York state court will not be broadcast by news outlets, according to a judge. However, photographers will be allowed to take pictures in the courtroom before the proceedings begin. Several media organizations, including CNN, had requested permission to broadcast the event, but their request was denied. It is a public proceeding, but news cameras are typically not allowed to broadcast from inside the courtroom. Nonetheless, the judge has allowed for five pool photographers to capture still images at the beginning of the arraignment. The indictment against Trump, stemming from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's investigation into hush-money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign, is expected to be unsealed during the arraignment. Trump's lawyers are fighting to have the charges dropped, and he denies any wrongdoing.
Haberman reveals why Trump attacked judge and his family in speech
In a recent speech at his Mar-a-Lago resort, former President Donald Trump launched a scathing attack on the judge and his family who presided over his arraignment on felony charges. CNN political contributor Maggie Haberman offers insights into the reasoning behind Trump's aggressive remarks. Haberman explains that Trump's attacks stem from a pattern he has followed throughout his political career. Whenever he faces legal challenges or criticism, he tends to lash out at his adversaries, including judges, in an attempt to discredit them. By attacking the judge and their family, Trump aims to undermine their credibility and create doubt in the public's mind about their impartiality. Furthermore, Trump's attacks serve another purpose: they energize his base of supporters. Haberman points out that Trump's aggressive rhetoric resonates with his followers, who view him as a warrior fighting against what they perceive as a corrupt system. By presenting himself as a victim of a biased judiciary, Trump bolsters his image as a champion for the people. In summary, Haberman suggests that Trump's attacks on the judge and his family are part of a strategy to delegitimize his legal challenges and appeal to his base of supporters.
Russian authorities detain suspect over St. Petersburg cafe blast
Ukraine has received its first tranche of $2.7 billion from a new International Monetary Fund (IMF) program. The IMF approved a four-year extended arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) worth roughly $15.6 billion, as part of a $115 billion total support package for Ukraine. The program aims to promote stability and support economic recovery while enhancing governance and institutions to foster long-term growth. Additionally, it enables Ukraine to implement more ambitious structural reforms. Notably, the EFF loan is the first major conventional financing program approved by the IMF for a country involved in a large-scale war. However, the risks are deemed "exceptionally high" as success depends on the size, composition, and timing of concessional external financing to address fiscal and external financing gaps and restore debt sustainability. The IMF's support is crucial for Ukraine's path to EU accession and post-war reconstruction efforts.