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‘I could declare a national emergency’



SAINT-JEAN-DE-LUZ, France — President Donald Trump said Sunday he could declare the escalating U.S.-China trade war as a national emergency if he wanted to.

“In many ways this is an emergency,” Trump said at the G-7 leaders meeting of the ongoing trade battle between the world’s top two economies.

“I could declare a national emergency, I think when they steal and take out and intellectual property theft anywhere from $300 billion to $500 billion a year and when we have a total lost of almost a trillion dollars a year for many years,” Trump said, adding that he had no plan right now to call for a national emergency.

“Actually we are getting along very well with China right now, we are talking. I think they want to make a deal much more than I do. I’m getting a lot of money in tariffs its coming in by the billions. We’ve never gotten 10 cents from China, so we will see what happens.”

Trump’s comments come as he met with Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson kicking off Group of 7 meetings in the French seaside town of Biarritz.

Clouding the G-7 gathering, which represents the world’s major industrial economies, are the tit-for-tat tariffs between Washington and Beijing.

U.S. President Donald Trump attends a bilateral meeting with Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson during the G7 summit on August 25, 2019 in Biarritz, France.

Pool | Getty Images News | Getty Images

On Friday, Trump said he would raise existing duties on $250 billion in Chinese products to 30% from 25% on Oct. 1. What’s more, tariffs on another $300 billion of Chinese goods, which start to take effect on Sept. 1, will now be 15% instead of 10%.

When asked if Trump had second thoughts about Friday’s move to escalate the trade war with China, Trump said “Yup.” “I have second thoughts about everything,” he added.

Trump then dismissed concerns that leaders at the G-7 and other U.S. allies would pressure him in ending the trade war with China.

“I think they respect the trade war, it has to happen. China has been, well I can only speak for the United States, I can’t say what they are doing to the U.K. and other places, but from the standpoint of the United States what they’ve done is outrageous that presidents and administrations allowed them to get away with taking hundreds of billions of dollars out every year and putting it into China,” Trump said.

“Our country is doing really well, we had horrible trade deals and I’m straightening them out. The biggest one by far is China,” he added.

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Saudi Arabia aims to restore one-third of lost oil output by Monday, WSJ says



Smoke is seen following a fire at Aramco facility in the eastern city of Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, September 14, 2019.

Stringer | Stringer

Saudi Aramco is aiming to restore by Monday about a third of its crude output that was disrupted after drone attacks on two key oil facilities, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing Saudi officials familiar with the matter.

The drone strikes on facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais eliminated 5.7 million barrels of production over the weekend. Officials believe that they can restore 2 million barrels by the end of the day Monday, contrary to earlier claims that full production would resume early this week.

Aramco, the national oil company, has determined that its facilities were hit by missiles, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal. A U.S. government assessment determined that up to 15 structures at Abqaiq were damaged.

Experts said that the strikes could cause oil prices to rise up to $10 per barrel, which could cause up to a 25 cent per gallon rise in gasoline prices. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures settled 0.4% lower at $54.85 on Friday, and Brent crude futures traded 0.2% lower at $60.25 per barrel.

The strikes are the biggest attack on Saudi oil infrastructure since 1990, when the Iraqi military fired scud missiles into the kingdom. The attack sent the Saudi stock market down 2.3 percent at the open on Sunday.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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Apple iPhone 11 shows transformation to camera company



Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., speaks about the new iPhone Pro during an event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. Apple unveiled the iPhone 11 that will replace the XR and start at $699. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The iPhone 11 models Apple launched this week were more camera than phone.

Sure, they can still send texts, download apps, and make video calls, but Apple spent a lot of time and effort marketing its new phones as powerful photography machines.

It’s the latest sign that camera technology is where Apple believes it can make the biggest improvements to the iPhone and where it can distinguish itself from its rivals including Samsung and Huawei, whose cameras have been competitive or even better than the iPhone’s at some aspects, according to technology industry analysts.

Apple spent 13 minutes of its 100-minute press conference talking about the high-end iPhone 11 Pro camera — more time than it spent on launching Apple Arcade, Apple TV+, or the new iPad, and just slightly less time than the 16 minutes it spent talking about new Apple Watch models, according to an analysis from independent Apple analyst Neil Cybart. Apple also spent seven minutes discussing the lower-end iPhone 11 camera, according to a transcript of the event.

“Camera, Camera, Camera is the new iPhone 11,” Deutsche Bank analyst Jeriel Ong said in a note earlier this week reacting to the launch.

“Apple is embracing what we can refer to as the camera plateaus, positioning them as the iPhone’s distinguishing feature,” Cybart wrote in the Above Avalon newsletter on Thursday.

Cameras are “what consumers still care about most and where most expect innovation to happen,” said Gartner analyst Annette Zimmerman. “It is a bit of an easy benchmark for users, as it is easy to observe.”

Phil Schiller, Apple’s top marketing executive, specifically called out the camera as his favorite part of the iPhone on Tuesday. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said there are 800 people dedicated to improving the iPhone’s camera. Aside from new colors, the biggest physical difference in this year’s iPhone 11 models is they simply have more camera sensors and lenses.

‘A social signal’

The entry-level iPhone 11 comes with two cameras: One that takes an “ultrawide” photo that can fit more information into the photograph and a more conventional lens. The two “Pro” iPhones also have a zoom lens, that can take a photo that’s closer to the subject without physically moving closer.

One major reason that Apple is focusing on camera improvements this year is simple: Consumers care about camera quality and take a lot of photos with their phones. Apple’s iPhone is the most used camera on Flickr, according to an analysis the website does based on photographs uploaded to it.

“Consumers upgrade for better cameras – among other reasons,” Forrester analyst Julie Ask said, citing displays as another key feature that consumers look for when upgrading. (This year’s iPhones have the same screens as last year’s.)

Since the design of this year’s phones matches last year’s, highlighting the change in its physical camera design is one of the few ways to distinguish an iPhone 11 from an iPhone X on billboards and other advertisements.

“In a weird way, the number of cameras on the back of your iPhone will become a social signal,” Cybart predicted last week.

Apple also needs to keep up with rivals like Samsung or Huawei, which are also releasing phones with multiple cameras and using machine learning techniques to combine photos for better results, analysts said.

Apple announces iPhone 11 Pro at a launch event.

Source: Apple

One example is night mode, a new feature that uses machine learning to brighten photographs taken in low light. A very similar feature called Night Sight was a key part of Google’s Pixel phones last year, and was featured in advertisements run in the United States.

Analysts also highlighted how Apple is using artificial intelligence and machine learning to create photographs that are actually multiple photographs combined to make a better shot than is possible with a single camera. Apple calls its feature “Deep Fusion,” and while it’s not shipping with the new iPhones, it will be added in a future software update.

“It shoots nine images. Before you press the shutter button, it’s already shot four short images, four secondary images,” Schiller said. “When you press the shutter button it takes one long exposure, and then in just one second the neural engine analyzes the fewest combination of long and short images, picking the best among them, selecting all the pixels, and pixel by pixel, going through 24 million pixels to optimize for detail and low noise.”

Apple’s “‘secret sauce’ is more in the software and how Apple is leveraging AI for photography,” Zimmerman said. “They presented the Deep Fusion feature that helps with the small details in a shot all driven by the AI capability of the A13 Bionic.”

“It takes a lot of resources and only a few can do this, so Apple is among the top 5 but were they the first to market with a triple-camera system leveraging AI and high-end hardware? No,” she continued, noting that both Samsung and Huawei currently have triple-camera systems on the market.

The rise of “pro” cameras on smartphones has led to a sharp drop in standalone camera sales, according to stats from the Camera and Imaging Products Association analyzed by venture capitalist Om Malik. There were 20 million digital cameras sold in 2018, down from 120 million in 2008. (Apple sold nearly 218 million iPhones in its fiscal 2018 and research firm IDC estimates there were 1.4 billion smartphones sold that year.)

“Because hundreds of millions of phones are sold every year, it is possible for companies like Apple, Google, Samsung and Huawei to pour billions into researching and improve their phone cameras, not to mention the software and algorithms.” Malik wrote. “Thanks to this cocktail of better chips, better processing, better sensor and ever-improving algorithms, the future belongs to computational photography.”

Follow @CNBCtech on Twitter for the latest tech industry news.

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Iran rejects US blame for Saudi Aramco attacks as ‘pointless’



Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

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DUBAI — Iran is refuting U.S. allegations that it was behind drone attacks on two massive Saudi oil plants Saturday, with its foreign minister accusing his American counterpart of “deceit” while suggesting talks to get out of the conflict.

“Having failed at ‘max pressure’, @SecPompeo’s turning to ‘max deceit’,” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter Sunday afternoon, referring to the President Donald Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” policy of sanctions on Iran to end what it calls its malign regional behavior.

“Blaming Iran won’t end disaster. Accepting our April ’15 proposal to end war & begin talks may,” Zarif added. 

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said earlier on Sunday that “Such useless accusations… are meaningless and not comprehensible and are pointless.”

Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the pre-dawn attacks, which took place around 4:00 a.m. local time and amount to the biggest attack carried on Saudi oil infrastructure since Saddam Hussein’s scud missile attacks during the first Gulf War.

The kingdom subsequently halted half of its oil production, or 5.7 million barrels of crude oil per day — that’s close to half of its output, or 5% of global oil supply. Officials at Saudi Aramco, the kingdom’s state oil giant and the world’s largest company, say their assessment of the damage is ongoing but are likely to deliver a report on Monday.

Oil prices are expected to spike when markets open as the facilities that were hit — particularly Abqaiq, which has a crude oil processing capacity of 7 million barrels per day (bpd) — represent the heartbeat of the country’s energy infrastructure.  

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has put the blame for the attacks squarely on Iran, saying on Twitter that “Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply… There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”

A number of analysts have also rejected the Houthis’ involvement in the attacks, suggesting they were launched by Iranian-backed proxy militias based in Iraq. Baghdad denies its territory played any role in the attacks. 

Tehran has provided material support to the Houthis, who have been engaged in a bloody war with Saudi Arabia since Riyadh launched an offensive in Yemen in 2015. The conflict is often described as a proxy war between the Sunni kingdom and the Islamic Republic, though the Houthis are far from completely aligned with Iran.

Washington provides intelligence and logistics support to the Saudis for their operations in Yemen, something many members of Congress have voted to end.  

Tensions between Iran and the U.S. and fears of a new war in the Middle East have been rising since the Trump administration withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and re-imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran in an attempt to push it into a more stringent deal involving broader security concessions.

In May and June, six foreign tankers were hit in alleged sabotage attacks that the U.S. government has blamed on Iranian forces, a charge Tehran denies. Iran on June 20 shot down a U.S. surveillance drone it says was flying over its territory, prompting a planned U.S. military strike on Iranian military targets that Trump says he called off with 10 minutes to spare.

Iran since June has been incrementally rolling back its obligations under the 2015 deal, stepping up its uranium enrichment and using advanced centrifuges that bring it closer to bomb-making capability. 

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