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US and China scuffled over nuclear ‘football’ during Trump’s Beijing visit: Axios

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The military aide carrying the nuclear football (second from left) with U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping at Beijing's Great Hall of the People.

Thomas Peter – Pool/Getty Images

The military aide carrying the nuclear football (second from left) with U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

Things got physical between U.S. and Chinese officials over the nuclear “football” during President Donald Trump’s visit to Beijing last year, Axios reported Sunday.

A military aide carrying the “football” — a briefcase with contents for the president to authorize a nuclear strike — was blocked by Chinese security officials at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People in November 2017, according to the report, which cited five sources “familiar with the events.”

The briefcase is supposed to be close to the president at all times. Chief of Staff John Kelly, after hearing about the incident, rushed over and told U.S. officials to keep walking, Axios said. That resulted in a commotion between the Americans and the Chinese.

“A Chinese security official grabbed Kelly, and Kelly shoved the man’s hand off of his body. Then a U.S. Secret Service agent grabbed the Chinese security official and tackled him to the ground,” according to the report.

The news outlet reported the scuffle was over “in a flash” and the Chinese never touched the briefcase. The chief of the Beijing security detail apologized, Axios said.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent outside of normal business hours.

For more on the skirmish, see the full story from Axios.

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Shell announces $9.5 billion sale of West Texas oil field assets to ConocoPhillips

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Separator tanks stand at the Royal Dutch Shell Plc processing facility in Loving, Texas, Aug. 24, 2018.

Callaghan O’Hare | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell on Monday announced a deal to sell the entirety of its Permian Basin assets to ConocoPhillips.

ConocoPhillips is purchasing the West Texas business for $9.5 billion in cash, according to a press release.

The assets span roughly 225,000 net acres with current production about 175,000 barrels per day, the press release said. The sale is set to close in the fourth quarter this year.

The deal would mark Shell’s complete withdrawal from onshore production in Texas. Shell will maintain its offshore production in Texas.

The move comes as the oil industry faces increasing pressure to invest in renewable energy and lower its carbon emissions in the face of a changing climate.

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Flights to Europe are about to rise as U.S. eases Covid travel restrictions

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Tourists look at the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy, on Aug. 25, 2021.

Andrea Merola | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The window to find dirt-cheap fares to Europe is closing.

The Biden administration on Monday said the U.S. in November will start allowing vaccinated foreigners from 33 countries, including the U.K., China and EU nations, easing rules set early in the pandemic.

That’s great news for airlines that are desperate to drum up revenue after a historic lull in demand for routes that were among the most popular before the Covid-19 pandemic. Many EU countries have been welcoming U.S. tourists for months since vaccinations became widely available, but that was not reciprocated by the United States.

“In the past, as restrictions have been eased, there has been an increase in bookings for travel, and we expect a similar reaction here,” Conor Cunningham, executive director of MKM Partners, wrote in a research note to investors.

Bargain hunters eager to take advantage of the relatively cheap flights might be out of luck as demand for trans-Atlantic travel rises.

Round-trip flights to Europe, including the U.K., from the U.S. are going for about $565, a level not seen in its roughly five years of collecting data, said fare-tracking company Hopper.

Fares had dropped 15% from Aug. 30, after the European Union recommended that its member countries reinstate travel restrictions on the U.S. The advisory was non-binding, however, and U.S. travelers can still visit a host of countries if they meet requirements like proof of Covid-19 vaccination or a recent negative Covid test, if not a combination of both.

Adit Damodaran, Hopper’s economist, said he expects airfare to rise from Europe to the U.S. on the lifted travel restrictions and from the U.S. to Europe as more travelers realize the EU notice “was a soft advisory.”

Airlines didn’t immediately say whether they would add flights following the loosened U.S. travel rules, but carriers pounced with added service to destinations like Iceland, Croatia and Greece when those countries started allowing U.S. visitors in earlier this year.

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Democrats to put debt limit suspension in funding bill

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., conducts news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center with House Democrats on achievements including the For The People Act and the agenda for the remainder of the year, on Friday, July 30, 2021.

Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Democratic congressional leaders on Monday said they will try to pass a bill that both prevents a government shutdown and suspends the U.S. debt limit as they try to dodge two possible crises in one swoop.

Congress faces a Sept. 30 deadline to fund the federal government. Separately, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has told lawmakers that the U.S. will likely not be able to pay its bills sometime in October if Congress does not suspend or raise the debt ceiling.

The House plans to vote this week on legislation that addresses both issues. The bill would fund the government through December and suspend the debt ceiling through the end of 2022, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a joint statement.

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The bill’s fate is uncertain. Republicans have said they will not join Democrats in voting to suspend the debt ceiling, raising the prospect of a default that could devastate the global economy.

Pelosi and Schumer on Monday said the GOP has an obligation to address the debt limit because the party helped to pass sprawling coronavirus aid plans last year.

“Addressing the debt limit is about meeting obligations the government has already made, like the bipartisan emergency COVID relief legislation from December as well as vital payments to Social Security recipients and our veterans,” they said, adding that a default “could plunge the country into a recession.”

Democrats also noted that the funding bill will include relief money for a recent string of natural disasters — which could make it more appealing to GOP lawmakers who represent states hit by storms. Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., told NBC News he is inclined to back a funding bill that includes a debt ceiling suspension because it would include “critical” relief funding for his state, which was recently battered by Hurricane Ida.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has tried to force Democrats to suspend the debt ceiling as part of their up to $3.5 trillion bill to invest in the social safety net and climate policy. He did not back down from his position on Monday.

“They have every tool to address the debt limit on their own,” he said.

McConnell said his party would vote for a short-term government funding bill that does not include a debt limit suspension.

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