Warning: preg_replace(): Unknown modifier 'd' in /homepages/18/d874236913/htdocs/clickandbuilds/rdspinvestments/wp-content/plugins/ultimate-appointment-scheduling/includes/Settings.class.php on line 942
January 15, 2023 – rdspinvestments

January 15, 2023

Biden declares emergency for California due to winter storms

Biden declares emergency for California due to winter storms© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the economy from an auditorium on the White House campus in Washington, U.S. January 12, 2023. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

(Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for California on Saturday, as storms have pounded the Golden State since Dec. 26, killing at least 19 people and bringing floods, power outages, mudslides, evacuations and road closures.

Biden ordered federal aid to supplement state, tribal and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe winter storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides, the White House said in a statement.

The president’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in Merced, Sacramento and Santa Cruz counties, it said.

Iranian oil exports end 2022 at a high, despite no nuclear deal

Iranian oil exports end 2022 at a high, despite no nuclear deal© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A gas flare on an oil production platform is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Gulf July 25, 2005. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

By Alex Lawler, Bozorgmehr Sharafedin and Chen Aizhu

LONDON (Reuters) -Iranian oil exports hit new highs in the last two months of 2022 and are making a strong start to 2023 despite U.S. sanctions, according to companies that track the flows, on higher shipments to China and Venezuela.

Tehran’s oil exports have been limited since former U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018 exited a 2015 nuclear accord and reimposed sanctions aimed at curbing oil exports and the associated revenue to Iran’s government.

Exports have risen during the term of his successor President Joe Biden, who had sought to revive the nuclear deal, and hit the highest since 2019 on some estimates. This comes despite headwinds such as a stall in those talks and competition from discounted Russian crude.

Energy consultant SVB International said Iran’s crude exports in December averaged 1.137 million barrels per day, up 42,000 bpd from November and the highest 2022 figure SVB has reported based on estimates given earlier.

“In comparison to the Trump administration, there hasn’t been any serious crackdown or action against Iran’s oil exports,” said Sara Vakhshouri of SVB. “January exports were so far strong like previous months.”

“Lower Chinese demand and Russia’s supply to China have been a major challenge for them. Most of its oil still goes to the Far East, ultimately China. Iran also helps Venezuela to export its oil.” 

Adrienne Watson, a National Security Council spokesperson at the White House, said the administration’s enforcement of the sanctions is robust, and “Iran’s macroeconomic figures clearly bear this out.”

“We have not and will not hesitate to take action against sanctions evaders, together with sanctions against Iran’s missile and drone trade, and human rights violations against the Iranian people,” Watson said. The Treasury Department imposed sanctions late last year on an oil smuggling ring linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

Consultant Petro-Logistics, which tracks oil supply, said it was also seeing an upward trend in Iranian crude exports which, in its view, in December reached their highest level since March 2019.

Kpler, a data intelligence firm, put Iranian crude exports at 1.23 million bpd in November, the highest since August 2022 and almost on a par with April 2019’s rate of 1.27 million bpd, although they slipped to just below 1 million bpd in December.

The Iranian oil ministry did not respond to a request for comment on exports. Iran’s draft state budget is based on even higher shipments of 1.4 million bpd, the semi-official Fars news agency reported this week.

China is Iran’s biggest customer. To evade sanctions, most of Iran’s crude exports to China are rebranded as crude from other countries, according to analysts including FGE. Iran in the past has said documents were forged to hide the origin of Iranian cargoes.

Also, Iran last year expanded its role in Venezuela, also under U.S. sanctions, sending supplies of light oil for refining and diluents to produce exportable crude grades.


There is no definitive figure for Iranian oil exports and estimates often fall into a wide range. Tanker-tracking companies use various methods to track the flows, including satellite data, port loading data and human intelligence. Iran generally does not release figures.

According to another analyst, Vortexa, China’s December imports of Iranian oil hit a new record of 1.2 million bpd, up 130% from a year earlier.

“Most of these shipments found home in Shandong, where independent refiners have turned to discounted grades since the second half of 2022 amid sluggish domestic demand and depressed refining margins,” the company said.

The press department of China’s Foreign Ministry, in response to a request for comment, said: “The legitimate and reasonable cooperation between China and Iran under the international legal framework deserves respect and protection,” without directly addressing Reuters query on China’s record Iranian oil purchases.

Vortexa said supply of Russian Urals, the main competing grade to Iranian oil, fell in December – when a price cap on Russian crude exports and European Union ban created uncertainty for buyers.

A revived nuclear deal would allow Iran to boost sales to former buyers like South Korea and Europe.

Still, talks have been at a stalemate since September, and Washington’s special envoy for Iran said in November Tehran’s crackdown on anti-government protesters and the sale of drones to Russia have turned Washington’s focus away from the deal.

Following Trump’s removal of the United States from the nuclear deal and reimposition of sanctions, Iran’s crude exports fell back to as little as 100,000 bpd at times in 2020 from over 2.5 million bpd in 2018, according to tanker trackers.

At least 68 killed in Nepal’s worst air crash in three decades

At least 68 killed in Nepal's worst air crash in three decades

By Gopal Sharma

KATHMANDU (Reuters) – At least 68 people were killed on Sunday when a domestic flight of Yeti Airlines crashed in Pokhara in Nepal, the worst air crash in three decades in the small Himalayan nation.

Hundreds of rescue workers scoured the hillside where the flight carrying 72 people from the capital Kathmandu went down. Officials late in the evening called off the search operations for the day, saying they will resume on Monday.

Local TV footage earlier showed rescue workers scrambling around broken sections of the aircraft. Some of the ground near the crash site was scorched, with licks of flames visible.

The weather had been clear and there was no immediate indication of what caused the crash.

It was Nepal’s deadliest air crash since 1992, the Aviation Safety Network database showed, when a Pakistan International Airlines Airbus A300 crashed into a hillside upon approach to Kathmandu, killing all 167 people on board.

Nearly 350 people have died since 2000 in plane or helicopter crashes in Nepal – home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Everest – where sudden weather changes can make for hazardous conditions.

The European Union has banned Nepali airlines from its airspace since 2013, citing safety concerns.

The plane on Sunday made contact with Pokhara airport from Seti Gorge at 10:50 a.m. (0505 GMT), the Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement. “Then it crashed.” At least 68 people were confirmed dead, it said.

GRAPHIC: Air crash in Nepal https://www.reuters.com/graphics/NEPAL-CRASH/dwvkdakgxpm/chart.png

“Half of the plane is on the hillside,” said Arun Tamu, a local resident, who told Reuters he reached the site minutes after the plane went down. “The other half has fallen into the gorge of the Seti river.”

Khum Bahadur Chhetri, another local resident, said he watched from the roof of his house as the flight approached.

“I saw the plane trembling, moving left and right, and then suddenly it nosedived and it went into the gorge,” Chhetri said.

The government has established a panel to investigate the cause of the crash and it is expected to report within 45 days, finance minister Bishnu Paudel told reporters.

France’s air accident investigation agency BEA said it would participate in the probe into the causes of the crash and coordinate with all other parties involved.

Those on board the twin-engine ATR 72 aircraft included three infants and three children, the Civil Aviation Authority’s statement said.

Passengers included five Indians, four Russians and one Irish, two South Korean, one Australian, one French and one Argentine national.


The journey to Pokhara, Nepal’s second largest city tucked under the picturesque Annapurna mountain range, from the capital Kathmandu is one of the country’s most popular tourist routes, with many preferring a short flight instead of a six-hour-long drive through hilly roads.

A Pokhara Airport spokesman said the aircraft crashed as it approached the airport, adding that the “plane cruised at 12,500 feet and was on a normal descent.” The weather on Sunday was clear.

Flight tracking website FlightRadar24 said on Twitter the Yeti Airlines aircraft was 15 years old and equipped with an old transponder with unreliable data. It added that the last signal from the transponder was received at 0512 GMT at an altitude of 2,875 feet above mean sea level.

Pokhara Airport is located at about 2,700 feet above mean sea level, according to FlightRadar24.

On its website, Yeti describes itself as a leading domestic carrier. Its fleet consists of six ATR 72-500s, including the one that crashed. It also owns Tara Air, and the two together offer the “widest network” in Nepal, the company says.

Yeti said it had cancelled all its regular flights for Monday in “mourning for the passengers who lost their lives.”

The ATR72 of European planemaker ATR is a widely used twin engine turboprop plane manufactured by a joint venture of Airbus and Italy’s Leonardo. Yeti Airlines has a fleet of six ATR72-500 planes, according to its website.

“ATR specialists are fully engaged to support both the investigation and the customer,” ATR said in a statement.

Airbus and Leonardo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Energy & precious metals – weekly review and outlook

Investing.com - Financial Markets Worldwide

Please try another search

Commodities Jan 15, 2023 04:39AM ET

Energy & precious metals - weekly review and outlook© Reuters.

By Barani Krishnan

Investing.com – Even John Arnold, the first trader to make billions off the volatility in natural gas, might be stunned with what’s happened with the heating fuel’s prices in just over a month.

From a December 1 peak above $7 per mmBtu, or million metric British thermal units, the front-month gas contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange’s Henry Hub hit a 19-month low of $3.417 on Friday, settling down 52% from that peak six weeks ago. Prior to that, gas hit a 14-year high of $10 in August.

Arnold, who started at Enron and exited that energy trading firm just before it blew up in a gigantic accounting fraud, formed Centaurus in 2002, a hedge fund that ran as much as $5 billion at one point in natural gas.

Over the next decade, he made so much money trading natural gas – reports say about $3 billion – as the market plunged from a record high above $15 per mmBtu in December 2005 to around $6 by September 2006, that he was grilled at a congressional hearing, in the aftermath of the 2008/9 financial crisis. 

Since retiring in 2012 at the age of 38, Arnold has barely commented on the gas market, staying true to his cause as a philanthropist and as his Twitter account says “eternally fighting status quo bias”.

While Arnold had seen the greatest peaks in gas prices in his time, the market’s volatility then seemed a little more measured than now. 

Point in case: It took nine months for that December 2005 record high of above $15 to achieve a 60% swing-down to around $6 by September 2006. Compared to that, the Henry Hub lost 65% from mid-August 2022 to below $3.50 by mid-January this year: a plunge that only took five months. In fact, from above $7 in December, the market dove 52% in just six weeks.

After explosive upward price action for most of 2022 from weather extremities and a supply squeeze caused by political and other disruptions to Russian gas output in the aftermath of the Ukraine invasion, natural gas futures suddenly collapsed last month. The change has been attributed primarily to unseasonably warm winter temperatures that have left both the U.S. and European heating markets sufficiently supplied.

Friday’s leg lower on the Henry Hub came after the Energy Information Administration reported an 11-bcf (billion cubic feet) build in for the week ended Jan. 6. It was the first ever gas storage build during a January month.

The increase in gas inventories, which came during what is being described as the warmest start to a winter in 20 years, was at the higher end of forecasts by some industry analysts, who expected a build of under 10 bcf last week. Some 14 analysts polled by Reuters had, meanwhile, predicted a draw of 15 bcf on the average from storage last week.

Exports of LNG, or liquefied natural gas, have also been tamped down since June with the shutdown of the Freeport liquefaction facility in Texas. The Freeport outage has idled about 2 bcf of gas per day, or a cumulative 60 bcf a month. That is independent of what’s happening on the weather front.

“Until there are better agreements among all the significant weather forecast models on the February outlook, the gas market will likely view any winter outbreaks with skepticism,” Houston-based energy trading consultancy Gelber & Associates said in a note on Friday to its clients in natural gas.

Some readers might actually wonder if the pivot toward greater cold is already happening. Today’s temperatures, for instance, are among the coldest for this year, dropping to 29 degrees Fahrenheit (-1.7 Celsius) in New York. Gelber said “early-bird market estimates” for next week’s gas storage data is a build between 69 and 75 bcf for the week ended Jan. 13.

Some contend that the plunge in gas prices has nothing to do with fundamentals but more of a “collusion or price fixing” by big hedge fund managers. 

Among the reader feedback I got this week was that the weather was colder in Canada, and the Northern and Eastern United States versus the moderate temperatures experienced elsewhere on the continent. I was told the current pricing was not sustainable as it was pretty much at break-even point with production costs. Any lower the market goes, supply will cease, was the warning I was given. Also, short sellers need higher prices to initiate their shorts and prices will soon be pushed upwards again, was what I heard.

My response was that gas was already overpriced for months, with inventories trending flat year-on-year even as the Henry Hub traded twice higher. As December dawned, it became obvious that the so-called storage squeeze was not going to materialize and Europe wasn’t so much at Vladimir Putin’s mercy (it was the other way round, actually; the Russian president was at the mercy of the weather gods). Thus, the market collapse of the past six weeks.

If indeed, “collusion or price fixing” had brought the market down, then the higher-and-higher prices leading to the $10 peak of August had little in the way of fundamentals too — except perhaps Putin’s ominous voice.

Natural Gas: Market Settlements and Activity 

Henry Hub’s front-month gas contract did a final trade at $3.481 per mmBtu, after officially settling Friday’s session at $3.419 – down 27.60 cents, or 7.5%, on the day. February gas earlier hit a session bottom at $3.417 – its lowest since June 25, 2021.

February gas rose a combined 1.5% on Wednesday and Thursday before ending the week down 8%. Cumulatively, warm winter weather has erased 52% of the market’s value over just six weeks.

Oil: Market Settlements and Activity 

The softening inflation game in the United States is helping oil bulls out, though rising crude prices on their own might ultimately lead to higher inflation.

New York-traded WTI, or West Texas Intermediate, crude for did a final trade of $80.07 on Friday, after settling the official session up $1.47, or 1.9%, at $79.86 per barrel, following a session high at $79.85. The U.S. crude benchmark rose 8.4% gain on the week, completely erasing losses from a week ago.

London-traded Brent crude for did a final trade of $85.49 on Friday, after settling the session at $85.28, up $1.25, or 1.5%, on the day. The intraday peak for Brent was $85.34. For the week, the global crude benchmark gained 8.5%, making up for all of the previous week’s drop, like WTI.

Inflation, as indicated by the , or CPI, rose by 6.5% in the 12 months to December, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the slowest annual advance for the CPI since October 2021 and indicated ahead by the Federal Reserve, which raised rates aggressively last year to curb price pressures. 

Adding to the Labor Department data, the University of Michigan’s closely-watched survey of consumers said on Friday that year-ahead among Americans has fallen for a fourth straight month in January, dipping to 4.0% from 4.4% in December. It was the lowest reading for price pressures since April 2021, the survey said.

The lower inflation readings are bolstering expectations that the Federal Reserve will keep to this year which would greatly assist businesses in the country, after the aggressive increases last year that sent tremors across markets. Those expectations have bolstered risk appetite in most forms this week, including in oil.

Gold: Market Settlements and Activity 

Gold neared a nine-month high on Friday, approaching the key $1,950-an-ounce resistance, as softening U.S. inflation and rate hike expectations boosted contrarian safe-haven trades.

Gold for on New York’s Comex did a final trade at $1,923.35 an ounce, after officially settling the session at $1,921.70 – up $22.90, or 1.2%, on the day. Its session high of $1,925.25 was the loftiest for a front-month contract in Comex gold since the April 25 peak of $1,935.50.

U.S. gold futures contracts have risen 5% since 2023 began, extending its near 4% gain from December and 7% from November.

The , more closely followed than futures by some traders, settled at $1,920.13 – up $23.22, or 1.2%, on the day. Spot gold’s intraday peak was $1,921.97- also the highest since April 25.

Gold has rallied over the past three months as receding inflation drove bond yields and the dollar lower on expectations that the Federal Reserve will be a lot less aggressive with rate hikes this year versus 2022, and might even wrap its monetary tightening well before the end of 2023.

“Gold prices are rising as Wall Street grows confident that the Fed is almost done with raising rates,” said Ed Moya, analyst at online trading platform OANDA. “Non-interest bearing gold is loving the slide in bond yields and that could continue as earnings come in softer-than-expected.”

The yield on the benchmark was at 3.49% on Friday, versus the October peak of 4.34%. The , which pits the greenback against six competing major currencies that include the euro and yen, steadied at just above 102, after tumbling from September’s highs of above 107.

Disclaimer: Barani Krishnan does not hold positions in the commodities and securities he writes about.

Top 5 things to watch in markets in the week ahead

Top 5 things to watch in markets in the week ahead© Reuters

By Noreen Burke

Investing.com — U.S. earnings and retail sales numbers will be the main highlights in a holiday-shortened week. The Bank of Japan’s latest meeting will be in focus after it wrong-footed markets with a policy tweak in December. A slew of economic data from China will likely be downbeat and the World Economic Forum is due to hold its winter meeting in Davos. Here’s what you need to know to start your week.

  1. U.S. retail sales

U.S. retail sales posted their largest decline in 11 months in November and a similar drop in December would add to recent indications that the Federal Reserve’s aggressive rate hikes are cooling the economy.

Economists are forecasting a drop of in figures due to be released on Wednesday, after a 0.6% decrease in November.

The economic calendar also features data on , and along with regional reports on manufacturing output.

Data late last week showing that U.S. consumer prices fell for the first time in over two-and-a-half years in December added to hopes that inflation is on a sustained downward trend that could give the Fed room to ease back on rate hikes.

Money market participants now see a 91.6% chance the Fed will by 25 basis points at its next policy meeting on Jan. 31 – Feb. 1.

  1. Earnings

Investors are closely watching earnings results to see if U.S. companies can beat estimates amid concerns that higher costs are squeezing profit margins.

(NYSE:) and (NYSE:) are both due to report earnings ahead of the open on Tuesday, followed by (NYSE:) ahead of the open and (NASDAQ:) after the close on Thursday.

Year-over-year earnings from companies are expected to have declined 2.2% for the quarter, according to Refinitiv data.

That would be the first U.S. quarterly earnings decline since the third quarter of 2020, when companies were still grappling with the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The S&P 500 is up about 3.8% so far in 2023 after falling more than 19% last year, its biggest annual decline since 2008.

The U.S. stock market will be closed Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.

  1. Bank of Japan

Investors will be keenly awaiting the conclusion of the BOJ’s two-day policy on Wednesday amid speculation that it could make further adjustments to its yield curve control policy, the first stage of phasing out its massive stimulus.

The BOJ stunned markets last month by widening the band around its 10-year bond yield target, a move that investors saw as a prelude to a future rate hike.

Signs of broadening inflationary pressures have bolstered expectations that the BOJ will eventually normalize monetary policy.

in Tokyo, a leading indicator of nationwide trends, rose at the fastest pace in four decades in December, exceeding the central bank’s 2% target for a seventh straight month.

, due out on Friday, is also expected to show an increase.

  1. Chinese data deluge

China is to release data on and on Tuesday, along with December data on , and which are expected to be ugly – economists expect retail sales to have dropped 7.8% for a fourth straight monthly decline and for annual growth to increase by only 1.8%.

But amid China’s rapid reopening investor focus is turning to prospects for a recovery in the world’s second-largest economy.

A sharp rise in travel ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays set to begin on Jan. 21 has fueled worry that it will bring a surge in COVID cases.

On Saturday Chinese authorities said nearly 60,000 people with COVID have died in hospitals since it abruptly abandoned its zero-COVID policy last month following widespread protests.

  1. Davos

The is due to hold its first winter meeting in the Swiss ski resort of Davos since before the pandemic this week, with world leaders, central bank policymakers and top corporate leaders all in attendance.

On the agenda – the cost-of-living crisis, the threat of natural disasters and extreme weather events, geo-economic confrontation and failure to mitigate climate change – the top risks over the next two years according to a survey of WEF members.

Also looming is the first anniversary of Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has rocked a global economy still reeling from the fallout of the COVID pandemic.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg, and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He are all expected to attend.

–Reuters contributed to this report

Repaired German Leopard tanks for Ukraine ready in 2024 at earliest, armsmaker says

Stock Markets 5 hours ago (Jan 15, 2023 08:51AM ET)

Repaired German Leopard tanks for Ukraine ready in 2024 at earliest, armsmaker says© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: German army battle tank Leopard 2 returns after NATO enchanced Forward Presence Battle Group Lithuania exercise in Pabrade military training field, Lithuania, May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

BERLIN (Reuters) -German armsmaker Rheinmetall could deliver repaired Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine in 2024 at the earliest and would need a confirmed order to begin repairs, its chief executive was quoted as saying by Bild newspaper on Sunday.

Germany announced earlier this month that it would provide Ukraine with 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles to help repel Russian forces.

But Kyiv has also requested heavier vehicles such as the Leopards, which would represent a significant step-up in Western support to Ukraine. Still, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said earlier this month delivering the Leopard tanks could not be “ruled out”.The German army has only around 350 Leopard 2 tanks today, compared to some 4,000 battle main tanks at the height of the Cold War.

For Rheinmetall, repairing the tanks it has in stock – at least 22 Leopard 2 tanks and 88 Leopard 1 tanks – would cost several hundred million euros, Papperger told Bild.

“The vehicles must be completely dismantled and rebuilt,” he added.

The firm also has 100 Marder vehicles, Papperger said, but these would also need repairs taking seven to eight months before they could be used.

Rheinmetall did not respond to an emailed request for comment on Sunday.

Germany has become one of Ukraine’s top military supporters in response to Russia’s invasion after last year, overcoming a taboo that is rooted in its bloody 20th century history on sending weapons to conflict zones.

Still, critics say German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his ruling SPD are too slow, waiting for allies to act first instead of assuming Germany’s responsibility as the Western power closest to Ukraine.

Germany’s defence industry is banned by law from producing tanks for stock-keeping. Even if production were ramped up, experts say it could take at least two years for new tanks to be ready for use.

In tribute to rights leader King, Biden invokes ‘battle for the soul of this nation’

In tribute to rights leader King, Biden invokes 'battle for the soul of this nation'© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden departs the White House to board the Marine One helicopter for travel to Delaware from the White House in Washington, U.S. January 13, 2023. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

By Steve Holland

ATLANTA, Ga. (Reuters) -President Joe Biden told Americans to look towards Martin Luther King Jr.’s life for lessons on repairing their divisions, extremism and injustice, as he become the first sitting U.S. president to speak at a Sunday service in the civil rights leader’s church in Atlanta.

Marking Monday’s national holiday celebrating King, Biden delivered a sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church at the invitation of its pastor, Democratic U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock, centered on a common theme – the country and the world are battling against autocratic forces.

“The fact is that I stand here at a critical juncture for the United States and the world in my view,” Biden said, calling it a “time of choosing.”

“Are we a people who will choose democracy over autocracy,” Biden asked. “We have to choose a community over chaos. Are we the people going to choose love over hate? These are the questions of our time and the reason I am here.”

King worked for voting rights, Biden said, but “we do well to remember that his mission was even deeper. It was spiritual. It was moral.”

King often asked ‘Where do we go from here?’ Biden said. “My message to the nation on this day is we go forward. We go together.”

Sunday would have been King’s 94th birthday. He was assassinated at age 39 in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, by avowed segregationist James Earl Ray. King was pastor of Ebenezer church from 1960 until his death.

“The battle for the soul of this nation is perennial,” Biden said in his tribute to King. “It’s a constant struggle between hope and fear kindness and cruelty, justice and injustice.”

Many presidents, including Biden, have visited Ebenezer to honor King, usually during events around the time of his birthday. But Biden was the first to speak from the pulpit at a regular Sunday service.

King “reminds us that we are tied in a single garment of destiny, that this is not about Democrat and Republican, red, yellow, brown, black and white,” Warnock said earlier on Sunday.

On Monday Biden will meet with civil rights advocate Al Sharpton in Washington, and speak to his group, the National Action Network.

Biden is expected to announce his re-election bid in the weeks ahead.

Biden was elected in 2020 with strong support from Black voters after pledging to do more to expand voting rights and address other racial justice issues. But some activist groups boycotted his 2022 speech honoring King, disappointed by what they see as his lack of action.

Russia-Belarus to conduct ‘defensive’ air drills, sparking fear in Kyiv of new offensive in Ukraine


Russia-Belarus to conduct 'defensive' air drills, sparking fear in Kyiv of new offensive in Ukraine© Reuters. Emergency personnel work at the site where an apartment block was heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Dnipro, Ukraine January 15, 2023. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne


By Herbert Villarraga and Nick Starkov

DNIPRO/KYIV, Ukraine (Reuters) – Russia and Belarus will begin joint air force drills on Monday, which have triggered fears in Kyiv and the West that Moscow could use its ally to launch a new ground offensive in Ukraine.

Minsk says the drills are defensive, and since Moscow used its neighbour as a springboard for its invasion of Ukraine last February Belarus has conducted numerous military exercises, both on its own and jointly with Russia.

Together with Moscow, Minsk has also been bolstering the drills with weaponry and military equipment.

Unofficial Telegram military monitoring channels have been reporting a series of fighters, helicopters and military transport planes coming to Belarus since the start of the year – eight fighters and four cargo planes on Sunday alone.

Reuters was not able to verify the reports. The Belarusian defence ministry said only that “units” of Russia’s air forces have been arriving in Belarus.

“During the tactical flight exercise, all airfields and training grounds of the Air Force and Air Defence Forces of the Armed Forces of Belarus will be involved,” the ministry said in a statement.

The situation on Belarus’s southern border – the border with Ukraine – was “not very calm,” and Ukraine has been “provoking” Belarus, said Pavel Muraveyko, first deputy state secretary of Belarusian Security Council, according to a post on the Belarusian defence ministry’s Telegram app on Sunday.

“We’re maintaining restraint and patience, keeping our gunpowder dry,” Muraveyko said. “We have the necessary set of forces and means that will respond to any manifestations of aggression or a terrorist threat on our territory.”

Ukraine has continuously warned of possible attacks from Belarus and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said last week that the country must be ready at its border with Belarus.

The Kremlin has denied that it has been pressuring Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to take a more active role in the conflict in Ukraine. Minsk has said it will not enter the war.


Ukraine saw little hope of pulling any more survivors from the rubble of an apartment block in the city of Dnipro on Sunday, a day after the building was hit during a major Russian missile attack, with dozens of people expected to have died.

The regional governor’s adviser, Natalia Babachenko, said 30 people were confirmed dead so far and more than 30 were in hospital, including 12 in a serious condition. Between 30 to 40 people could still be trapped under debris, she said.

Emergency workers said they had heard people screaming for help from underneath piles of debris from the nine-storey apartment block in the east-central city and were using moments of silence to help direct their efforts. Freezing temperatures added to rescuers’ concerns.

“The chances of saving people now are minimal,” Dnipro’s Mayor Borys Filatov told Reuters. I think the number of dead will be in the dozens.”

Ukraine’s Air Force said the apartment block was struck by a Russian Kh-22 missile, which is known to be inaccurate and that Ukraine lacks the air defences to shoot down. The Soviet-era missile was developed during the Cold War to destroy warships.

Russia fired two waves of missiles at Ukraine on Saturday, striking targets across the country as fighting raged on the battlefield in the eastern towns of Soledar and Bakhmut.

Moscow, which invaded last February, has been pounding Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with missiles and drones since October, causing sweeping blackouts and disruptions to central heating and running water.


In his nightly address after the Dnipro strike, Zelenskiy called on Western allies to supply more weapons to end “Russian terror” and attacks on civilian targets.

Western powers are considering sending battle tanks to Kyiv and ahead of a meeting of Ukraine’s allies in Ramstein in Germany next Friday, where governments will announce their latest pledges of military support.

On Saturday, Britain followed France and Poland with promises of further weapons, saying it would send 14 of its Challenger 2 main battle tanks as well as other advanced artillery support in the coming weeks.

The first despatch of Western-made tanks to Ukraine is likely to be viewed by Moscow as escalation of the conflict. The Russian Embassy in London said the tanks would drag out the confrontation.

Russia’s invasion, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”, has already killed thousands, displaced millions and turned many cities into rubble.


In Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region – the focal point of Russia’s drive to capture more territory – Ukraine’s forces were battling around the small salt-mining town of Soledar.

Russian forces claimed to have taken control of the town, but Ukraine insisted on Sunday that its forces were battling to hold the town, with street fighting raging and Russian forces advancing from various directions.

“Put simply, THE BATTLE CONTINUES,” Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said on the Telegram messaging app. “Everything else is unverified information.”

The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said it was highly unlikely that Ukrainian forces still held positions within Soledar itself.

Reuters could not immediately verify the situation in the town.

House Speaker says Democrats should cap spending to avoid U.S. debt default

House Speaker says Democrats should cap spending to avoid U.S. debt default© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Representative James Comer Jr., R-Ky., speaks during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. June 8, 2022. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy said on Sunday he believes Democrats would agree to cap government spending to avoid a U.S. debt default and he wants to discuss the idea with President Joe Biden.

Republicans now in control of the House have threatened to use the debt ceiling as leverage to demand spending cuts from Biden’s Democrats, who control the U.S. Senate.

This has raised concerns in Washington and on Wall Street about a bruising fight that could be at least as disruptive as the protracted battle of 2011, which prompted a brief downgrade of the U.S. credit rating and years of forced domestic and military spending cuts.

“I want to sit down with him now so there is no problem,” McCarthy said in an interview with Fox News, referring to Biden. “I’m sure he knows there’s places that we can change that put America on a trajectory that we save these entitlements instead of putting it into bankruptcy the way they have been spending.”

McCarthy pointed to the Trump-era agreement by U.S. lawmakers’ in 2019 to suspend the statutory debt limit on Treasury Department borrowing until a later date as evidence that such compromise is possible.

“I believe we can sit down with anybody who wants to work together. I believe this president could be that person,” he said.

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer said on Sunday he hoped debt default could be avoided but put the onus on Democrats to agree to spending cuts.

“Republicans were elected with a mandate from the American people in the midterm elections. We campaigned on the fact that we were going to be serious about spending cuts,” Comer said in an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“So the Senate is going to have to recognize the fact that we’re not going to budge until we see meaningful reform with respect to spending.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Friday the United States will likely hit the $31.4 trillion statutory debt limit on Jan. 19, forcing the Treasury to start extraordinary cash management measures that can likely prevent default until early June.

Congress created the debt ceiling in 1917 to give the government greater borrowing flexibility, and must approve each increase to ensure that the United States meets its debt obligations and avoids a catastrophic default.

Santos to be removed from U.S. Congress if he broke campaign finance laws -Comer

Santos to be removed from U.S. Congress if he broke campaign finance laws -Comer© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Representative George Santos (R-NY) walks to a vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 12, 2023. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Representative George Santos, who lied about much of his resume and life story, will be removed from Congress if found to have broken campaign finance laws, fellow Republican and House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer said on Sunday.

“He’s a bad guy,” Comer said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “It’s not up to me or any other member of Congress to determine whether he can be kicked out for lying. Now, if he broke campaign finance laws, then he will be removed from Congress.”

Santos has repeatedly refused to resign, even as pressure has grown within his own party for him to do so. On Thursday, he said he would vacate his New York City-area seat only if he loses the next election.

More than a dozen Republicans officials, many of them from Santos’ district, which covers parts of Queens and Long Island, have demanded the resignation of the newly elected congressman. At least six of his fellow Republican representatives from New York have joined the calls for him to step down.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has said he will leave Santos’ fate to the Ethics Committee and voters.

Democratic Representative Dan Goldman said he wrote on Sunday to McCarthy, Representative Elise Stefanik, the Republican conference chairwoman, and Dan Conston, head of the Congressional Leadership Fund, a House Republican fundraising group, about a New York Times report that they were aware of Santos’ fabrications before the November election. He urged them to cooperate with any ethics investigation into the matter.

“It is one thing for a candidate such as Mr. Santos to induce voters to support him based on a web of lies,” Goldman wrote in his letter. “But it is altogether something else if the top levels of Republican leadership knew about Mr. Santos’ lies during the campaign and chose to be complicit.”

McCarthy, Stefanik’s office and the Congressional Leadership Fund did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Would you like to receive notifications on latest updates for new Trades? No Yes
Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top