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Report: US SEC Subpoenas Tesla Over Musk’s Tweets

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has sent subpoenas to Tesla Inc. regarding Chief Executive Elon Musk’s plans to take the company private and his statement that funding was “secured,” Fox Business Network reported on Wednesday, citing sources.

Subpoenas typically indicate the SEC has opened a formal investigation into a matter. Tesla and the SEC declined to comment.

Musk stunned investors and sent Tesla’s shares soaring 11 percent when he tweeted early last week that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 per share and that he had secured funding for the potential deal.

The electric carmaker’s shares were last down 1.9 percent at $341.00 on Wednesday. They have erased all their gains following Musk’s tweet last week.

Musk provided no details of his funding until Monday, when he said in a blog on Tesla’s website that he was in discussions with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and other potential backers but that financing was not yet nailed down.

The CEO’s tweet may have violated U.S. securities law if he misled investors. On Monday, lawyers told Reuters Musk’s statement indicated he had good reason to believe he had funding but seemed to have overstated its status by saying it was secured.

The SEC has opened an inquiry into Musk’s tweets, according to one person with direct knowledge of the matter. Reuters was not immediately able to ascertain if this had escalated into a full-blown investigation on Wednesday.

This source said Tesla’s independent board members had hired law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to help handle the SEC inquiry and other fiduciary duties with respect to a potential deal.

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US Retail Sales Rise Solidly; Productivity Accelerates

U.S. retail sales rose more than expected in July as households boosted purchases of motor vehicles and clothing, suggesting the economy remained strong early in the third quarter.

Other data on Wednesday showed worker productivity growing at its fastest pace in more than three years in the second quarter, but a drop in labor costs pointed to moderate wage inflation. Strong domestic demand supports expectations the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in September for the third time this year.

The Commerce Department said retail sales increased 0.5 percent last month. But data for June was revised lower to show sales gaining 0.2 percent instead of the previously reported 0.5 percent rise. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales nudging up 0.1 percent in July. Retail sales in July increased 6.4 percent from a year ago.

Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales advanced 0.5 percent last month after a downwardly revised 0.1 percent dip in June. These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product.

Core retail sales were previously reported to have been unchanged in June. Consumer spending is being supported by a tightening labor market, which is steadily pushing up wages. Tax cuts and higher savings are also underpinning consumption.

July’s increase in core retail sales suggested the economy started the third quarter on solid footing after logging its best performance in nearly four years in the second quarter.

Gross domestic product surged at a 4.1 percent annualized rate in the April-June period, almost double the 2.2 percent pace in the first quarter. While the economy is unlikely to repeat the second quarter’s robust performance, growth in the

July-September period is expected to top a 3.0 percent rate.

The Fed increased borrowing costs in June and forecast two more interest rate hikes by December.

Prices of U.S. Treasuries fell and the U.S. dollar added slightly to gains immediately after the release of the data. U.S. stock index futures were trading lower.

Productivity rises

Last month, auto sales rose 0.2 percent after edging up 0.1 percent in June. Sales at clothing stores rebounded 1.3 percent after declining 1.6 percent in June. Receipts at service stations increased 0.8 percent.

Online and mail-order retail sales increased 0.8 percent, likely boosted by Amazon.com Inc’s “Prime Day” promotion. That followed a 0.7 percent rise in June. Americans

spent more at restaurants and bars, lifting sales 1.3 percent.

But receipts at furniture stores fell 0.5 percent and sales at building material stores were unchanged last month. Spending at hobby, musical instrument and book stores declined further in July, falling 1.7 percent.

In a separate report on Wednesday, the Labor Department said nonfarm productivity, which measures hourly output per worker, rose at a 2.9 percent annualized rate in the April-June quarter.

That was the strongest rate since the first quarter of 2015.

Data for the first quarter was revised lower to show productivity increasing at a 0.3 percent pace instead of the previously reported 0.4 percent rate. Economists had forecast productivity growing at a 2.3 percent rate in the second increased at a rate of 1.3 percent.

The government also revised data going back to 1947, which did not materially change the picture of lackluster productivity growth, though unit labor costs were stronger than previously estimated in 2017 because of upward revisions to hourly compensation.

The annual rate of productivity growth from 2007 to 2017 was revised up 0.1 percentage point to a rate of 1.3 percent.

Unit labor costs, the price of labor per single unit of output, fell at a 0.9 percent pace in the second quarter. That was the weakest pace since the third quarter of 2014.

First-quarter growth in unit labor costs was revised up to a 3.4 percent rate from the previously reported 2.9 percent pace.

Labor costs increased at a 1.9 percent rate compared to the second quarter of 2017, pointing to moderate wage inflation.


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У Києві запрацювала система громадського велопрокату – КМДА

У Києві почала роботу система громадського велопрокату Bike sharing, повідомляє Київська міська адміністрація на своєму сайті. Планується, що такий прокат буде коштувати 30 грн за півгодини, місячний абонемент – 199 гривень, а на сезон – за 599 гривень.

Щоб узяти велосипед в оренду потрібно скачати мобільний додаток Nextbike, зареєструватися в ньому та зчитати QR-код із велосипеда на парковці.

«Система велопрокату столиці спочатку буде розрахована на 33 велостанції. Їх розміщують у найбільш зручних місцях: біля станцій метро «Лук’янівська», на Оболонському проспекті біля станцій метро «Почайна», «Золоті ворота», «Арсенальна», «Оболонь», «Мінська», «Героїв Дніпра», «Лівобережна», «Харківська», «Позняки», «Осокорки», «Тараса Шевченка», «Контрактова площа» на Верхньому Валу біля Київського велотреку, на Софійській площі, Майдані Незалежності, Михайлівській площі, Контрактовій, Поштовій, вулиці Хрещатик (біля КМДА) та вулиці Архітектора Городецького, в парку імені Тараса Шевченка, на Райдужному масиві, Русанівській набережній та інших», – мовиться у повідомленні на сайті КМДА.

Поки що, зазначають в адміністрації, у проекті задіяно буде тільки 100 велосипедів, але до кінця наступного року за умови інвестицій цю кількість планують збільшити до 2 тисяч.

Також у КМДА обіцяють облаштувати 64 вулиці столиці таким чином, аби велосипедистам було комфортно ними пересуватися, а також створити три магістральних веломаршрути та встановити велопарковки біля комунальних закладів міста.

Як розповідають у КМДА, компанію «Nextbike», із якою міська влада впроваджує пілотний проект велопрокату, було засновано у 2004 році у Лейпцигу. Вона оперує системами громадського прокату велосипедів більше ніж у 150 містах, у 25 країнах світу.

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МОН подовжило прийом до закладів профосвіти до жовтня

Подавати документи до закладів професійно-технічної освіти можна до 1 жовтня. Про це йдеться в листі, який Міністерство освіти і науки розіслало регіональним управлінням освіти і науки.

Таке рішення МОН пояснює бажанням забезпечити «рівне право громадян на здобуття професійної (професійно-технічної) освіти відповідно до своїх здібностей», а також виконання відповідними закладами регіонального та державного замовлення на підготовку фахівців.

Наразі, повідомляють у МОН, до закладі професійно-технічної освіти на бюджет вже вступили понад 60 тисяч осіб.

Подача документів до вищих навчальних закладів завершилася 26 липня.

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British Police ‘Satisfied’ They Know Identity of Car Attack Suspect

British counterterrorism police say they believe they know the identity of the man they arrested Tuesday after he crashed a car into a group of pedestrians and cyclists outside the Houses of Parliament in London.

Authorities have not publicly identified the man, saying only he is a 29-year-old British national who is originally from Sudan.

He is being held on suspicion of preparation of a terrorist act as well as attempted murder.

Police said Wednesday the priority for investigators remains figuring out the motivation behind the incident that injured three people. Two of those hurt were taken to the hospital for treatment, but both have since been released.

Officers have completed searches at two sites in Birmingham and one in Nottingham, and another search was ongoing Wednesday at another address in Birmingham.

London Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu told reporters on Tuesday that based on what authorities knew about the suspect so far it did not appear that he was someone previously known to British counterterror or intelligence agencies.

Prime Minister Theresa May wrote in a post on Twitter, “My thoughts are with those injured in the incident in Westminster and my thanks to the emergency services for their immediate and courageous response.”

President Donald Trump also reacted to the incident on Twitter, saying: “Another terrorist attack in London… These animals are crazy and must be dealt with through toughness and strength!”

Last year, a man drove a car into pedestrians on nearby Westminster Bridge, killing four people there before stabbing to death a police officer outside parliament. Police shot that attacker dead.

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У правозахисній організації «Агора» прокоментували ймовірність, що Сенцов попросить про помилування

«Не буде Олег писати ніяких прохань, це ж очевидно»

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Malta Lets European Migrant Ship Safely Dock After 4 Days at Sea

The United Nations on Wednesday welcomed Malta’s agreement to allow a European rescue ship carrying 141 migrants to dock at one of its ports after the vessel became the latest to stuck in a disagreement among various nations about what to do with people rescued at sea.

The U.N.’s refugee agency further commended France, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain for joining Malta in taking in the migrants once they reach shore.

But the agency’s chief Filippo Grandi said the situation never should have existed, calling it “dangerous and immoral” that rescue ships are left to sit at sea while governments do their best to take as little responsibility as possible.

“There is an urgent need to break away from the current run of impasses and ad-hoc boat-by-boat approaches on where to dock rescued passengers,” Grandi said. “Only with clearly identifiable ports of safety will shipmasters feel confident when responding to distress calls that they’ll be able to promptly disembark passengers, and won’t become objects of lengthy negotiations.”

After initially refusing to let the Aquarius dock, Malta changed its mind when five other European Union nations agreed to take in the migrants. Malta called it a “concrete example of European leadership and solidarity.” 

The migrants to be given refuge across the EU include 141 from the Aquarius, and 114 others Malta rescued in the Mediterranean Monday.

France, which has agreed to take in 60 of the migrants, is thanking Malta “for its humanitarian gesture.”

“Maybe European states have finally understood that this concerns our common border at the south of Europe, that this is a problem for the 28 member states, and that we can’t avoid responsibility,” said Frederic Penard of the European rescue group SOS Mediterranee, which operates the Aquarius with Doctors Without Borders.

On Friday, the Aquarius picked up the 141 migrants who were stuck in unstable wooden boats off the Libyan coast.

SOS Mediterranee said most of the migrants came from Somalia and Eritrea and had been held in inhumane conditions in Libya before heading out to sea. Many were suffering from malnutrition.

Thousands of people from sub-Saharan Africa and countries such as Syria and Afghanistan try crossing the Mediterranean every year to escape war, terrorism and poverty for a better life in the European Union.

Italy had been the most popular destination for the migrants because its islands are closest to the coast of North Africa.

But Italy is refusing to accept any more, saying it has done enough and that other EU members must pitch in. 

It also said cooperating with private rescue ships like the Aquarius plays into the hands of human traffickers who get large sums of money and abandon their passengers at sea.

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British Police Search for Motive In Westminster Crash

British police are investigating several addresses in Birmingham and Nottingham in connection with a suspected terror attack near the Houses of Parliament Tuesday in London. A 29-year-old man was arrested after driving a silver Ford Fiesta into a crowd of pedestrians and bike riders, causing injuries, before he ran into a barrier. The police have not identified the man but said he was a British citizen originating from another country and not a London resident. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke reports.

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Turkey Boosts Tariffs Amid US Feud

Turkey on Wednesday announced tariff hikes on a range of U.S. goods in the latest back-and-forth move amid a deteriorating relationship between the two countries.

The extra tariffs apply to imports of vehicles, alcohol, coal, rice and cosmetics.

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Twitter the increases were being done “within the framework of the principle of reciprocity in retaliation for the conscious economic attacks by the United States.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is accusing the United States of waging a targeted economic war on his country, and on Tuesday he proposed a boycott of U.S. electronic goods.

“If they have the iPhone, there is Samsung elsewhere. In our own country we have Vestel,” said Erdogan.

Asked how U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration would react to any such Turkish boycott, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders replied during Tuesday afternoon’s briefing, “I certainly don’t have a policy announcement on that at this point.” 

Trump administration sources say further sanctions against Turkey are under active consideration. But Sanders declined to say how the U.S. government plans to apply more pressure on Ankara, which repeatedly has ignored calls from Trump and others to free Christian pastor Andrew Brunson. 

Turkey accuses Brunson of espionage and is holding him under house arrest pending his trial. 

The chargé d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Turkey, Jeffrey Hovenier, visited Brunson on Tuesday and called for his case — and those of others detained in Turkey — to be resolved “without delay” and in a “fair and transparent manner.”

National Security Adviser John Bolton met at the White House on Monday with Turkish ambassador Serdar Kilic, but the discussion reportedly did not result in any substantive progress.

Trump, who has called Brunson’s detention a “total disgrace,” last Friday doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum exports in order to increase pressure on Erdogan. 

Earlier this month, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Turkey’s ministers of Justice and Interior in response to the continued detention of the pastor, who has lived in the country for 20 years and heads an evangelical congregation of about two dozen people in the port city of Izmir. 

The escalating dispute between the two countries has exacerbated Turkey’s economic crisis, pushing the lira to record lows. The Turkish currency has lost about 40 percent of its value this year against the U.S. dollar.

Erdogan has called on Turks to exchange their dollars for lira in order to shore up the domestic currency.

In a joint statement Tuesday, Turkish business groups called on the government to institute tighter monetary policy in order to combat the currency crisis. They also said Turkey should work to resolve the situation with the United States diplomatically while also improving relations with another major trading partner, the European Union.

The Turkish central bank has pledged to take “all necessary measures” to stabilize the country’s economy to make sure the banks have all the money they need. But world stock traders were dismayed the bank did not raise interest rates, which is what many economists believe is necessary to ease the crisis.

The United States and Turkey also have diverging interests over Syria, which is enmeshed in a protracted civil war. 

The differences are drawing Turkey closer to Russia, they key adversary of NATO but a country supplying more than half of Turkey’s gas.

Turkey has agreed to buy S-400 surface-to-air missiles from Russia, an unprecedented move by a NATO member, which has raised objections from members of both parties of the U.S. Congress and the Trump administration. 

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, voiced support for Turkey during a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara on Tuesday, stating both countries plan to switch from dollars to national currencies for their mutual trade.

“We view the policy of sanctions as unlawful and illegitimate, driven mostly by a desire to dominate everywhere and in everything, dictate policies and call shots in international affairs,” said Lavrov, predicting “such a policy can’t be a basis for normal dialogue and can’t last long.

Lavrov, alongside Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, also declared, “We are at a turning point, without exaggeration, in world history” from dominance by a single power toward a multipolar environment. 

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Royal Bank of Scotland Pays $4.9B for Crisis-era Misconduct

Royal Bank of Scotland will pay $4.9 billion to settle U.S. claims that it misled investors on residential mortgage-backed securities between 2005 and 2008, the U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday.

The Justice Department said the penalty was the largest ever imposed on a bank for misconduct leading up to the financial crisis. The bank announced in May that it had reached the settlement in principle.

The government alleges RBS misled investors in underwriting and issuing residential mortgage-backed securities, understating the risks behind many of the loans and providing inaccurate data.

“Despite assurances by RBS to its investors, RBS’s deals were backed by mortgage loans with a high risk of default,” Andrew E. Lelling, U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said in a statement.

The Justice Department said that RBS disputes the allegations and does not admit wrongdoing, although the bank said in a statement it was happy to move on.

“There is no place for the sort of unacceptable behavior alleged by the DoJ at the bank we are building today,” RBS Chief Executive Ross McEwan said.


In conjunction with the settlement, the bank also said it would be paying out an interim ordinary dividend of 2 pence per share on October 12 to shareholders.

The dividend is the bank’s first since its near-collapse and 45.5 billion-pound ($58 billion) state bailout in 2008.

The DOJ settlement and the resumption of dividends were two of the last big milestones in RBS’s decade-long journey back to normality. The looming Justice Department fine had weighed on the bank’s share price and prevented it from paying out to its shareholders.

Together with hefty cuts made to its investment bank and international business, a return to dividends could help shift the bank’s profile with investors from a risky bet into a safe, predictable value stock.

It also expands the market for future government share sales by enabling a broader array of investors to look at buying the bank’s shares.

Tuesday’s announcement marked the latest in a long-running series of massive settlements struck between the U.S. government and large global banks over conduct leading up to the financial crisis.

On August 1, the Justice Department struck a settlement with Wells Fargo, which agreed to pay $2.09 billion to settle similar claims.