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Feb 2, 2019

UAE's Noor Capital says it bought 3 tonnes of gold from Venezuela: World News February 1, 2019 / 4:22 PM / Updated 20 hours ago

Mayela Armas

CARACAS (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi investment firm Noor Capital said on Friday that it bought 3 tonnes of gold on Jan. 21 from Venezuela’s central bank, at a time when President Nicolas Maduro is seeking to keep his crisis-stricken government solvent.
FILE PHOTO: Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro holds a gold bar during a meeting with representatives of the mining sector in Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela, December 5, 2017. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS
Noor Capital said in a statement it would refrain from further transactions until Venezuela’s situation stabilizes and its purchase was in accordance with “international standards and laws in place” as of Jan. 21.
Reuters reported on Thursday that Venezuela had shipped 3 tonnes of gold to the United Arab Emirates on Jan. 26 and would sell 15 tonnes more to the country in the coming days.
Venezuela’s plan was to sell 29 tonnes of gold held in Caracas to the UAE by February in order to provide liquidity for imports of basic goods, a senior official said.
Two high-level Venezuelan central bank officials were made to resign on Thursday and Friday because they did not want to authorize the sale of gold, three sources familiar with the situation said, declining to be named because the situation was sensitive.
The bank did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
The United States, which is backing an attempt by the opposition to oust Maduro and call new elections, warned bankers and traders on Wednesday not to deal in Venezuelan gold.
Venezuela's Guaido says police visited his home
U.S. Republican Senator Marco Rubio tweeted on Thursday that a “French national” working for Noor Capital was in Caracas “to arrange the theft of more Gold from #venezuela.”
Maduro’s government resorted to selling off gold about a year ago after falling oil production, economic collapse and mounting U.S. sanctions hit public income and made it hard for the country to access credit.
The sale of large volumes of the reserves underpinning the currency is an escalation that countries only generally resort to in the most dire financial straits.
Venezuela had gold reserves of 132 tonnes between the central bank’s vaults and the Bank of England at the end of November, according to central bank data.
Reporting by Mayela Armas; Writing by Angus Berwick, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

Source: Reuters

Venezuela’s Opposition Gears Up for Major Protests

7-9 minutes

With the opposition leader Juan Guaidó calling on his supporters to follow him into the streets again on Saturday, there have been few times in Venezuela’s recent history when so much has appeared to be hanging on a protest.CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times

With the opposition leader Juan Guaidó calling on his supporters to follow him into the streets again on Saturday, there have been few times in Venezuela’s recent history when so much has appeared to be hanging on a protest.CreditCreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times
CARACAS, Venezuela — Opposition leaders in Venezuela are calling for the biggest protests yet against the authoritarian rule of Nicolás Maduro on Saturday, hoping to capitalize on international pressure to force him from power.
The cracks in Mr. Maduro’s armor are starting to add up.
American officials said they would no longer pay his government for oil sales in the United States, a principal source of Mr. Maduro’s hard currency.
The United States and more than two dozen other countries no longer recognize him as Venezuela’s president. And the leader of the opposition, Juan Guaidó, has declared himself the country’s legitimate leader before large crowds, calling on the armed forces to join him to topple Mr. Maduro.
With Mr. Guaidó calling on his supporters to follow him into the streets again on Saturday, few times in Venezuela’s recent history has so much appeared to be hanging on a protest.
It could mark a pivotal moment for Mr. Guaidó’s fledgling bid to challenge Mr. Maduro’s hold on power, which began on Jan. 23, when he brought more than a million people into the streets across the country.
A slogan denouncing President Nicolás Maduro in Chacao, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Caracas.CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times

A slogan denouncing President Nicolás Maduro in Chacao, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Caracas.CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times
“This is our best political opportunity we’ve had,” said Margarita Lopez Maya, a retired political scientist in the capital, Caracas, who spent decades studying strongmen of the country’s past and was readying herself to protest against Mr. Maduro.
“The street is the key piece in the puzzle now,” she said. “Right now, it’s the moment of the citizens.”
Whether protests alone can catalyze a shift in the political standoff in Venezuela is far from clear. As Mr. Maduro broke the power of the opposition-controlled legislature in 2017, demonstrators took to the streets for four months, only to be beaten back in clashes with Mr. Maduro’s security forces that left more than 100 people dead.
But this time, Mr. Maduro is not only facing a challenge on his streets, but increasing unity among his neighbors in the region that his rule is over.
Mr. Guaidó’s government has been busy appointing a team of de facto ambassadors to argue its case among the countries that have recognized him. American sanctions on Venezuela’s state-run oil company could topple the country’s long-crippled economy.
On Thursday, the European Parliament recognized Mr. Guaidó as president. That fell short of protesters’ demands for recognition from the European Union itself, but France, Britain, Spain and Germany are expected to follow suit in the coming days.
An opposition rally in Caracas last week.CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times

An opposition rally in Caracas last week.CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times
“It’s perhaps the first time in years that the street isn’t the only factor in this game,” said Yon Goicoechea, a lawyer and political activist who has been imprisoned by Mr. Maduro’s government.
“If the government represses us as they have been, if they throw us all in jail, it won’t solve the problem,” he added. “This time, the problem isn’t just demonstrations, but the pressure that their economy is suffocating and their diplomatic isolation.”
Since Mr. Guaidó began his bid to oust Mr. Maduro this month, at least 40 people have been killed in clashes with protesters, human rights groups say, a steep escalation from previous protest movements in 2014 and 2017. Many hundreds have been jailed, according to human rights groups.
The crackdown has been made more lethal by Mr. Maudro’s deployment of a special police unit against activists, whose ranks may have included civilian vigilantes. Mr. Guaidó said the unit was sent to his home, a move the politician said was meant to “intimidate” him and his family.
With Mr. Guaidó’s face absent from state-controlled television stations, he took to the internet ahead of protests to make a plea to mobilize.
“We will return to the streets, where we have always been, to get our freedom back,” he said in an online video. “We will shout with spirit! Hope has been reborn.”
President Nicolás Maduro reviewing military exercises with his advisers on Friday.CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

President Nicolás Maduro reviewing military exercises with his advisers on Friday.CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images
At an event in Miami on Friday, Vice President Mike Pence again gave strong support to the protesters in Venezuela.
“Across that country, in the largest cities and the smallest towns, people are rising up in defense of their rights,” he said. “This is no time for dialogue, this is the time for action. And the time has come to end the Maduro dictatorship once and for all.”
While Mr. Maduro remains unpopular among the vast majority of Venezuelans, some said they were not willing to join Mr. Guaidó on Saturday.
Andrea Pacheco, a 30-year-old editor who works for a left-wing news site in Caracas, said she recently became fed up with Mr. Maduro’s government and even attended the opposition protest on Jan. 23.
But she said Mr. Guaidó’s swearing in as “interim president” was a step too far for those like her who spent years backing the country’s former leftist president, Hugo Chávez.
The opposition, she said, “seems to forget that without the people who are the true Chavistas, they won’t be able to make it.”
The coffin of man whose relatives said he was killed by a special police force created by Mr. Maduro.CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times

The coffin of man whose relatives said he was killed by a special police force created by Mr. Maduro.CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times
David Smilde, an analyst at the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights group, said it was unclear whether Saturday’s protests were a make-or-break moment for Mr. Guaidó, but they had amounted to the first time in years that the opposition had been able to deliver quick results to those who backed them.
“The successful protests on the 23rd brought about results,” said Mr. Smilde, referring to the American sanctions and international recognition of Mr. Guaidó. “People can say now, ‘I participated and I saw things happen.’ That can lead them to decide to come out again.”
Still, the ultimate power over the disputed presidency may rest with the Venezuelan military, not the protesters.
Francisco Rodríguez, an economist who worked as an adviser for Mr. Maduro’s rival in the election last year, said large-scale mobilizations have occurred before and been put down by soldiers who appeared numb to the demands of protesters.
The biggest risk for Mr. Guaidó, he said, would be for Mr. Maduro to wait out the street mobilizations, especially if they eventually peter out in a few weeks.
“If the street protests decline, then the government will move in — and then they will imprison Guaidó or take some other move,” said Mr. Rodríguez.
Ana Vanessa Herrero reported from Caracas and Nicholas Casey from Medellín, Colombia.

Source: NYT

On Politics: The Biggest Stories of the Week

5-6 minutes

Politics|On Politics: The Biggest Stories of the Week
The United States began trade talks with China on Wednesday that could prove critical to the trajectory of the world economy, but self-inflicted economic wounds from Mr. Trump’s trade policies could mean lost leverage.
The Trump administration said on Friday that it was suspending one of the last major nuclear arms control treaties with Russia, after five years of heated talks that failed to resolve American accusations that Moscow is violating the agreement.
Additional Reading
U.S. Appears to Soften Timing for List of North Korea’s Nuclear Assets
On Venezuela, Rubio Assumes U.S. Role of Ouster in Chief
Huawei and Top Executive Face Criminal Charges in the U.S.
Another Democrat joined what is looking like one of the most diverse and crowded primary fields in history. Senator Cory Booker, the former Newark mayor who has projected an upbeat message at a polarized time, entered the 2020 race on Friday, embarking on a campaign to become the country’s second black president.
Other potential candidates haven’t announced but certainly seem interested. Howard Schultz, the former chief executive of Starbucks, has begun the groundwork needed to get on the ballot in all 50 states as an independent. Mayor Bill de Blasio has been aiming policy announcements well beyond New York, but no one seems to be listening. And Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a plan that would subject more wealthy Americans to the estate tax, joining a wave of left-wing politicians calling for new ways to tax the rich.
In a changing Democratic Party, a number of moderates, notably Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Michael Bloomberg, are thinking of challenging Mr. Trump. But if too many centrists run, they could box each other out.
Additional Reading
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti Decides Against Presidential Bid
Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 Strategy: Stand Out by ‘Nerding Out’
Can Kamala Harris Repeat Obama’s Success With Black Voters? It’s Complicated
Hundreds of thousands of federal employees returned to work this week, with no guarantee they won’t be idled again in mid-February. The task of avoiding another shutdown is now in the hands of a bipartisan panel that includes some of Congress’s most senior lawmakers — and, perhaps more tellingly, lacks the most vocal immigration hard-liners on Capitol Hill.
As the panel met on Wednesday for the first time, Democratic members laid out their opening offer for improving border security: more customs officers and new technology, but nothing for the wall that Mr. Trump is still demanding.
The five-week government shutdown cost the economy $11 billion, the Congressional Budget Office said. While most of the lost growth is expected to be recovered, nearly $2.7 billion is gone for good.
The State of the Union has a new date. After much back-and-forth, Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited the president to deliver the address on Feb. 5. Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost the governor’s race in Georgia last year, will deliver the Democrats’ official response.
Additional Reading
U.S. Job Gains Show Employers Shrugged Off Government Shutdown
After a Shutdown Test of Wills Comes a Test of Governance
Government Shutdown Is Over, So Where Is the Economic Data?
Congress hit the reset button this week, showcasing a Democratic agenda in the House that had been overshadowed by the struggle to reopen the government. In both chambers, lawmakers have teed up a high-impact lineup of hearings.
The Senate voted Monday to advance legislation affirming local and state governments’ right to break ties with companies that boycott or divest from Israel. The measure to combat the so-called B.D.S. movement is as much about highlighting Democratic divisions on Israel as it is about defending the Jewish state.
As the new House Judiciary Committee convened on Tuesday, Democrats took sustained fire over their ambitious proposal to counter gerrymandering and ease access to the polls. The hearing on the legislation, known as the For the People Act, quickly turned into a partisan brawl.
In a significant rule change announced on Wednesday, veterans who can prove they have to drive for at least 30 minutes to a Veterans Affairs health care facility will be allowed to choose private providers for some services. Critics fear public hospitals will lose more funds.
The Senate, in a bipartisan rebuke to Mr. Trump’s foreign policy, advanced legislation on Thursday to express strong opposition to his decision to pull troops from Syria and Afghanistan.
Additional Reading
From Celebrated to Vilified, House’s Muslim Women Absorb Blows Over Israel
On Both Ends of Capitol, Both Parties Warn Big Pharma on Drug Prices
President Signs Order to Help U.S. Manufacturers and ‘Trump People’
In a lengthy Oval Office interview, Mr. Trump told The New York Times that negotiating with Congress over a border wall was a “waste of time” and that he would probably take action on it himself. He also spoke about the Russia investigation and the 2020 election. Here are five takeaways from the interview.

Source: NYT

Can Day Trading be Profitable?

2 minutes

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