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U.S. companies are pushing President Trump not to impose further tariffs on Chinese goods, as representatives of the world’s two largest economies embark on a new round of trade talks in Washington, the Associated Press reports. The U.S. imposed 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese imports in June and tariffs on an additional $16 billion are due to kick in this week, but U.S. companies are urging President Trump not to go ahead with his threat to impose tariffs on a further $200 billion in additional Chinese goods, which will force them to absorb the extra cost of components themselves or pass it on to consumers. So far, the tariffs have targeted imported Chinese industrial products, but adding $200 billion to the list would draw in many consumer products, from electronic goods to craft supplies. Undaunted, the administration is moving closer this week to levying tariffs on nearly half of Chinese imports despite broad opposition from U.S. business and the start of a fresh round of talks between the U.S. and China to settle the trade dispute, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The notorious hacking group called APT28, or Fancy Bear, which is linked to the Russian government, created fake versions of the websites of six U.S. political institutions, including some related to public policy and to the U.S. Senate, according to Microsoft which identified and disabled the sites, the Washington Post reports. Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit said the sites may have been designed to target the November midterm Congressional elections. The Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank that investigates corruption in Russia, and the International Republican Institute, a nonprofit group that promotes democracy were targeted, and three sites were made to look like they were affiliated with the Senate. One site spoofed Microsoft’s online products. The discovery was part of an effort by Silicon Valley to address Russian interference in the midterms more aggressively than it did in 2016. Facebook has taken down 32 fake accounts and pages tied to the Internet Research Agency, a Russian disinformation operation active before and after the 2016 election.
Venezuela has devalued its currency by re-issuing it with five zeroes removed and increased the national minimum wage by more than 3,000 percent in a radical attempt to solve its economic ills, including the scourge of hyperinflation, the Guardian reports. President Nicolás Maduro said his “program for recovery, growth and economic prosperity” would end inflation, which may reach 1 million percent this year, and end the financial crisis, which he blamed on an “economic war” waged by imperialist enemies of Venezuela. He said “no experts” were involved in the formulation of the plan, which also proposes pegging its currency to the petro cryptocurrency, raising taxes and increasing petrol prices for some drivers. About 90 percent of Venezuelans now live in poverty, and more than 60 percent said recently they wake up hungry. As the once-wealthy nation has slid into poverty, hundreds of thousands have already decided to leave; the UN estimates 2.3 million Venezuelans now live abroad — with 1.6 million having fled in the last two and half years alone, the biggest movement of people in Latin America’s modern history. Also, Venezuela’s national oil company, PDVSA, has agreed to pay $2 billion compensation to ConocoPhillips of the U.S., ending a dispute that had disrupted the state-controlled group’s exports, the Financial Times reports.