Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Ed Westwick's girlfriend speaks out amid sexual assault allegations

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Ed Westwick’s girlfriend is speaking out amid confirmation that the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office is reviewing sexual assault allegations against the “Gossip Girl” star.

Jessica Serfaty reminisced about the couple’s time together and shared a photo on her Instagram of she and Westwick kissing with the caption, “New York just ain’t the same without.”

According to People, the couple was last spotted out together in Los Angeles back in January. It was also rumored that prior to being accused of sexual assault, the actor was planning on proposing to his model girlfriend. Though Serfaty was never snapped in a formal engagement ring, she was seen wearing a Cartier love band on her left ring finger in several Instagram posts dating back to December

So far, three women have accused the actor of sexual assault. The first was Kristina Cohen, who told the Associated Press that she filed the police report but the LAPD did not identify the alleged victim in the investigation. Cohen claimed Westwick raped her three years ago at a get-together at his home.

Following Cohen’s claim, a second woman, Aurelie Wynn, came forward alleging she was also sexually assaulted by Westwick in 2014.

Westwick denied the allegations calling them “unverified and probably untrue social media claims.”

After being accused of harassment by two of the women, Westwick denied the allegations in a tweet which has since been deleted.

The post read, “It is disheartening and sad to me that as a result of two unverified and provably untrue social media claims, there are some in this environment who could ever conclude I have had anything to do with such vile and horrific conduct,” he wrote. “I have absolutely not, and I am cooperating with the authorities so that they can clear my name as soon as possible.”

Westwick was fired from BBC’s “Ordeal by Innocence” following the allegations.

After first two accusers, another woman named Rachel Eck accused the actor of also assaulting her in 2014. 

Westwick later deleted his social media denials though it was believed that a that his lawyer gave him the advice to remove the post as part of their policy for clients to avoid using social media with regards to their case.

Fox News’ Kathleen Joyce contributed to this report. 

The White House state dinner: Diplomacy through flowers, food and fun

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A state dinner is often referred to as the hottest ticket in town in Washington, D.C.

The black-tie events are only thrown for the most important of foreign visits. It’s a tradition that dates back to 1874, when President and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant hosted King David Kalakaua of Hawaii (known then as the Sandwich Islands). Today, the highly-orchestrated evenings are often accompanied by plenty of pomp and circumstance, and take months of planning to put together.

The Trumps will get their first chance to host a state dinner Tuesday, when President and Mrs. Trump welcome French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron to the White House.

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S EATING HABITS REVEALED IN FORMER STAFFERS’ BOOK

“Usually it’s reserved for a country where the relationship is strong, is important, is of strategic importance to our country and to theirs,” explained Anita McBride, former chief of staff to first lady Laura Bush. “That really does convey to both countries, both Americans and in this case the French, that this is a relationship that is so important, you are our first foreign guest to be hosted on a state visit.”

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron and Brigitte Macron have their picture taken on a visit to the estate of the first U.S. President George Washington in Mount Vernon, Virginia outside Washington, U.S., April 23, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RC126C16DC10

President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, have their picture taken on a visit to the estate of the first U.S. President George Washington in Mount Vernon, Va., on Monday.  (Reuters)

Before the state dinner, the guest of honor joins the President for a series of meetings at the White House. According to McBride, a board member of the White House Historical Association, the topics of those meetings set the tone for the rest of the evening.

“You try and really utilize members of your administration who are involved in this particular visit,” McBride said. “They generally do become hosts at tables. They’re hosts for American guests and the foreign delegation seated as well.”

And the diplomacy efforts continue well into the night, but with a glass of wine in hand. For President Macron’s visit, Mrs. Trump has chosen wines that are American and French collaborations, as a nod to the historic friendship between the two countries. And the menu the Trumps have chosen for the dinner will “showcase the best of America’s cuisines,” but with “nuances of French influences,” according to the First Lady’s office.

“It’s always easier to get the tough things done when you have good relationships with people,” McBride said. “They’re a little nicer with a glass of wine, with entertainment, with beautiful flowers, and with people hopefully on their best behavior when they’re in the White House. Civility and etiquette goes a long way.”

state dinner menu closeup reuters

Guests at the state dinner will dine on goat cheese gateau, rack of lamb, jambalaya, and a selection of American/French wines.  (Reuters)

WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT TRUMP’S FIRST STATE DINNER

While every tiny detail of the menu and decor are planned, the trickiest and most crucial element of the party is the guest list. The First Couple gets recommendations from all over Washington — including the State Department, the National Security Council, and the Legislative Affairs office — about who should make the cut. With sometimes less than 150 seats available, the President and the first lady have to make a very tough final call on who they think will be the most interesting and influential party guests.

“At the end of the day, it’s their decision,” McBride explained. “The President and the first lady pick who the guests are, what the final seating arrangement is, what the menu is, the entertainment. There’s not a detail about that event they don’t know about and are not influencing.”

But with such a big event comes plenty of help, including lots of research from the Office of Protocol. According to McBride, their research is invaluable help for planning a premier foreign visit. Making sure every detail will be enjoyed by the visiting delegation and won’t cause any international faux pas.

“They will have information between the working teams in both governments, McBride said. “Are there allergies of a leader? Are there certain flowers they don’t like? Are there colors that are not in keeping with the customs of a particular country? A lily for one country may be beautiful, for another it may not be appropriate.”

state dinner 1 reuters

“The President and the first lady pick who the guests are, what the final seating arrangement is, what the menu is, the entertainment. There’s not a detail about that event they don’t know about and are not influencing,” says Anita McBride, former chief of staff to first lady Laura Bush.  (Reuters)

It’s input like that, and from other agencies, that help state dinners go off without a hitch. McBride, who worked in the White House during the Reagan and both Bush administrations, recalled a time when the White House felt particularly compelled to deliver perfection: the state visit of Queen Elizabeth.

“There was an added pressure to make sure it was particularly perfect,” McBride said. “Here’s a woman who has lived through 14 American presidents. We wanted to be on our best behavior.”

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The Queen’s visit is one of many examples Mr. and Mrs. Trump have to draw on for the French Prime Minister’s official visit. But even with centuries of tradition in place, McBride says the Trumps could take their first state dinner in a different direction.

“Like everything else with this administration, we could be in for something completely new.” McBride said.

First Lady Melania Trump has announced her color scheme will be gold and cream, and she’ll be using the Clinton and Bush china for the dinner service.

Liberty Property: 1Q Earnings Snapshot

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MALVERN, Pa. (AP) _ Liberty Property Trust (LPT) on Tuesday reported a key measure of profitability in its first quarter. The results beat Wall Street expectations.

The real estate investment trust, based in Malvern, Pennsylvania, said it had funds from operations of $98.6 million, or 65 cents per share, in the period.

The average estimate of six analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for funds from operations of 62 cents per share.

Funds from operations is a closely watched measure in the REIT industry. It takes net income and adds back items such as depreciation and amortization.

The company said it had net income of $140.2 million, or 95 cents per share.

The real estate investment holding trust posted revenue of $190.2 million in the period, also topping Street forecasts. Three analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $169.5 million.

Liberty Property expects full-year funds from operations in the range of $2.55 to $2.65 per share.

The company’s shares have decreased almost 9 percent since the beginning of the year. The stock has decreased 4 percent in the last 12 months.

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This story was generated by Automated Insights using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on LPT at https://www.zacks.com/ap/LPT

Dad of toddler found dead in suitcase now facing charges

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A Virginia man whose toddler daughter’s body was found in a suitcase next to train tracks in New Jersey earlier this month is now facing charges.

Hudson County prosecutors say 37-year-old Travis Plummer, of Richmond, is charged with desecrating the human remains of 23-month old Te’Myah Layauna Plummer. But the cause of death remains under investigation.

The child’s body was found April 11 just west of the Journal Square rail station in Jersey City in the PATH rapid transit system, which serves New Jersey and parts of New York City.

Authorities had been seeking the pair since last month, though they didn’t believe they were in danger. It was thought Plummer may have relocated to Jersey City or Charlotte, North Carolina.

The FBI tracked Plummer to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he was arrested without incident April 19. He’s awaiting extradition and it’s not known if he’s retained a lawyer.

Police: Bomb kills Hezbollah operative in southern Lebanon

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Lebanese police officials say an operative with Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group was killed when a bomb he was holding went off in his home in the country’s south.

The officials say it isn’t clear what the operative, identified as Bilal Hassan, was doing with the bomb and now it got onto his home.

Initial reports were conflicting. Lebanon’s private Al-Jadeed TV says Hassan was actually holding a grenade cartridge for a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher.

The state-run National News Agency said a “strange object” exploded in his house on the edge of the southern port-city of Sidon.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

They said Hezbollah members inspected Hassan’s house after the blast and were later followed by policemen who opened an investigation in the case.

Kym Johnson, Robert Herjavec welcome twins

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Kym Johnson and Robert Herjavec have something to dance about.

The former “Dancing with the Stars” partners have welcomed twins into the world.

Johnson posted on Instagram that their “little angels” were born on Monday morning. The 41-year-old says she never thought her heart could feel so full.

The couple had previously announced they were expecting a boy and a girl. They did not reveal their names.

Herjavec is the father of three children from a previous marriage. The 55-year-old businessman appears on “Shark Tank.”

United Airlines CEO takes big pay cut, chairman leaves

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United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz’s saw a big pay cut in 2017, at his request, while the company is losing its chairman and another board member as it deals with numerous PR disasters.

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Ticker Security Last Change %Chg
UAL UNITED CONTINENTAL HLDG. 70.33 -1.42 -1.98%

Munoz took home $9.56 million last year, nearly half of compensation in 2016, according to a filing by the company. In an employee letter Munoz suggested that the company’s compensation committee not give him a bonus.

“I felt it was important to send a message about the culture of accountability and integrity that we are building here as a United team.

“We had some incredible successes in 2017, but also some setbacks,” he said.

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Chairman Robert Milton, a former Air Canada CEO, is stepping down and will be replaced, while director Laurence Simmons is also departing.

These changes come as the company has dealt with numerous PR disasters over the past year, including a dog dying on a flight and the dragging of a passenger off of an overbooked flight.

Spain eyes EU piracy mission HQ as Brexit sell off continues

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Spain looks set to take charge of the European Union’s anti-piracy operation off Somalia despite a challenge from Italy, as EU countries continue to pick over the spoils left by Britain’s departure from the bloc next year.

With Brexit due in just 11 months, Spain wants to host the prestigious headquarters for EUNAVFOR Atalanta at its southern port of Rota in a joint effort that would see France assume responsibility for a parallel civilian maritime surveillance facility.

Italy entered the running late and its candidacy appears dwarfed by those from two of Europe’s historic naval powers.

Time is running out for a decision to be made, and EU countries are concerned that a potentially embarrassing vote might be required to break the deadlock.

Nobody home? Amazon can now deliver packages to your car

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Amazon can now deliver packages to your car.

The online retailer has announced partnerships with General Motors and Volvo that allows it to unlock the trunk of a vehicle to place a package inside.

The program is being rolled out in 37 cities across the United States and works with any 2015 or later model year GM car with an active OnStar account, or any Volvo model compatible with the automaker’s On Call connected app.

The service is included with an Amazon Prime account and only requires users to download the new Amazon Key app to activate it. Shipping options are the same as for home delivery, including same day and free two-day, and is handled by Amazon Logistics Delivery Service Providers.

The only restriction is that the vehicle has to be parked in a publically-accessible place. The vehicle is unlocked from a remote control center, not by the person making the delivery, then locked again after it is closed.

The service has been tested in Europe for the past three years, and a pilot program was launched in a few locations in the U.S. last fall. Eligible cities now include Atlanta, Nashville and Los Angeles. New York City is not currently on the list.

Amazon offers a similar service for in-home deliveries, but it requires the installation of a camera-equipped connected door lock.

No one home? Amazon can now deliver packages to your car

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Amazon can down deliver packages to your car.

The online retailer has announced partnerships with General Motors and Volvo that allows its parcel carriers to unlock the trunk of a vehicle to place a package inside.

The program is being rolled out in 37 cities across the United States and works with any 2015 or later model year GM car with an active OnStar account, or any Volvo model compatible with the automaker’s On Call connected app.

The service is included with an Amazon Prime account and only requires users to download the new Amazon Key app to activate it. Shipping options are the same as for home delivery, including same day and free two-day.

The only restriction is that the vehicle has to be parked in a publically-accessible place. The vehicle is unlocked from a remote control center, not by the person making the delivery, then locked again after it is closed.

The service has been tested in Europe for the past three years, and a pilot program was launched in a few locations in the U.S. last fall. Eligible cities now include Atlanta, Nashville and Los Angeles. New York City is not currently on the list.

Amazon offers a similar service for in-home deliveries, but it requires the installation of a camera-equipped connected door lock.

Alphabet Stock: Buy or Sell?

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This article was originally published on ETFTrends.com.

Alphabet is better known to most investors as Google. For virtually its entire operating history as a public company, Google held the dominant market share in search, but its name change offers insight into what else is to come from Google. Alpha is a measure of performance on a risk-adjusted basis, so are Google co-founders […]

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7 Money Tips From Shark Tank’s Mr. Wonderful

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This article was originally published on ETFTrends.com.

Kevin O’Leary, aka Mr. Wonderful, isn’t just the star of the hit show Shark Tank, he’s also a massively successful businessman with a net worth estimated to be over $400 million. The bulk of his wealth was created when he built and sold SoftKey to Mattel for $3.65 billion. Since then, he has gone on to create […]

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Investing With Rising Rates: 5 Portfolio Considerations

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This article was originally published on ETFTrends.com.

As central banks around the world set interest rates that strongly influence all sorts of debts, from mortgages to student loans to treasury bills to corporate bonds, here are 5 porfolio considerations to consider with rising rates. When interest rates are low, it reduces the borrowing costs and encourages businesses to borrow and expand more, […]

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The Benefits of Guided Choice IRAs

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This article was originally published on ETFTrends.com.

Trying to understand all the terminology of investing, and which company’s offer what can not only be confusing, but quite overwhelming. Some company’s offer higher returns compared to others. But if you look at all the fees, it isn’t always worth it in the end. So what makes GuidedChoice stand out when it comes to […]

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UN prosecutor urges judges to give Karadzic life sentence

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A United Nations prosecution lawyer has urged appeals judges to convict former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic on a second genocide count and increase his 40-year sentence for overseeing Serb atrocities during the Bosnian war to a life sentence.

Prosecutor Katrina Gustafson told a five-judge appellate panel at the U.N. Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals that Karadzic “abused his immense power to spill the blood of countless victims. Justice requires that he receive the highest possible sentence — a life sentence.”

Karadzic’s lawyers said Tuesday that not only should he not be convicted of a second genocide count, but the genocide conviction imposed by trial judges in 2016 for Karadzic’s role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre should be overturned on appeal.

Ed Westwick's girlfriend confirms his spotlight absence in wake of sexual assault allegations

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Ed Westwick’s girlfriend, Jessica Serfaty, has further confirmed that her boyfriend has been staying out the spotlight since it was revealed that the sexual assault allegations against the actor were being reviewed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

The 26-year-old model reminisced about the couple’s time together and shared a photo on her Instagram of she and Westwick kissing with the caption, “New York just ain’t the same without.”

According to People, the couple were last spotted out together in Los Angeles back in January. It was also rumored that prior to being accused of sexual assault, the actor was planning on proposing to his model girlfiend. Though Serfaty was never snapped in a formal engagement ring, she was seen wearing a Cartier love band on her left ring finger in several Instagram posts dating back to December

So far in Westwick’s case, three women have accused the actor of sexual assault. The first was Kristina Cohen, who told the Associated Press that she filed the police report but the LAPD did not identify the alleged victim in the investigation. Cohen claimed Westwick raped her three years ago at a get-together at his home.

Following Cohen’s claim, a second woman, Aurelie Wynn, came forward alleging she was also sexually assaulted by Westwick in 2014.

Westwick denied the allegations calling them “unverified and probably untrue social media claims.”

After being accused of harrassment by two of the women, Westwick denied the allegations in a tweet which has since been.

The post read, “It is disheartening and sad to me that as a result of two unverified and provably untrue social media claims, there are some in this environment who could ever conclude I have had anything to do with such vile and horrific conduct,” he wrote. “I have absolutely not, and I am cooperating with the authorities so that they can clear my name as soon as possible.”

Westwick was fired from BBC’s “Ordeal by Innocence” following the allegations.

After first two accusers, another woman named Rachel Eck accused the actor of also assaulting her in 2014. 

Westwick later deleted his social media denials though it was believed that a that his lawyer gave him the advice to remove the post as part of their policy for clients to avoid using social media with regards to their case.

Fox News’ Kathleen Joyce contributed to this report. 

Coca-Cola profit jumps as costs fall, new drinks arrive

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Coca-Cola’s first-quarter profit jumped as the company introduced new flavors and continues to discard its bottling operations.

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Coca-Cola’s began selling Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, a reformulated replacement for Coca-Cola Zero, in 20 markets last year. It reported a “double-digit” growth during the quarter Tuesday. The company has also been moving its Honest and Smartwater brands into more international markets.

It’s also been branching out with small-batch and specialty drinks and focusing more on sales of concentrates. The shift cut into revenue, but it’s also lowering costs.

Net income rose 16 percent to $1.37 billion, or 32 cents per share. Excluding one-time gains and costs, it reported 47 cents per share in profit, beating Wall Street’s per-share expectations by a penny.

The world’s largest drink maker reported a 3 percent boost in volume and a 4 percent jump for concentrates, with its namesake brand contributing the most. Concentrate sales rose in every region but Latin America, where they were flat.

“We’re encouraged with our first quarter performance as we continue our evolution as a consumer-centric, total beverage company,” said CEO James Quincey.

Revenue fell 16 percent to $7.63 billion during the quarter, mainly because it’s shedding its bottling operations. The numbers still topped Wall Street expectations.

Shares Coca Cola Co. rose almost 2 percent before the opening bell Tuesday.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on KO at https://www.zacks.com/ap/KO

Armenia marks massacre by Ottoman Turks 103 years ago

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Armenia’s government and the country’s opposition are taking part in events to mark the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians a century ago by Ottoman Turks.

Tuesday’s commemoration of the massacre that began 103 years ago —viewed by Armenians and many historians as genocide — comes after the country’s prime minister resigned in a surprise move following days of anti-government protests.

Armenia’s acting prime minister and other officials laid flowers at a hilltop memorial complex in Armenia’s capital Tuesday morning along with thousands of residents. Leaders of the opposition and their supporters were marching to the memorial later on Tuesday.

Turkey, the successor to the Ottoman Empire, vehemently denies that the massacre was genocide and insists it was part of the violence during World War I.

VA secretary pick Ronny Jackson’s confirmation hearing delayed, amid conduct questions

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The Senate has delayed its confirmation hearing for President Trump’s pick for Veteran Affairs secretary amid growing questions about nominee Dr. Ronny Jackson’s past conduct and ability to manage the agency.

The postponement was confirmed to Fox News late Monday night by South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds, a Republican member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. The panel had been scheduled to hold the hearing Wednesday.

Rounds said committee Chairman Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., recently told him and other committee members that he wants to resolve some “unsubstantiated allegations” about Jackson, the official White House doctor and a Navy rear admiral.

“He wants to do it right. We told him that if he wanted to delay the meeting, that was fine with us. We most certainly want to get … the facts outs,” Rounds told “Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream.” 

Reports of unspecified allegations surrounding Jackson’s conduct have recently surfaced. 

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 file photo, President Donald Trump shakes hands with White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson as he boards Marine One to leave Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., after his first medical check-up as president. On Wednesday, March 28, 2018, President Donald Trump fired Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, and tweeted that Jackson is his nominee to replace Shulkin. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

VA secretary nominee Ronny Jackson’s confirmation hearing has been postponed.  (AP)

The White House had not responded by Tuesday morning to a request for comment.

“Some Republican colleagues have told me that they think the hearing should be postponed, which certainly deserves consideration,” said Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat on the committee. “I think there may well be a need for more time, in fairness to Admiral Jackson, so he and the administration have an opportunity to answer these questions fully and fairly.”

However, Blumenthal declined to discuss why more time might be needed.

Trump selected Jackson last month to run the Department of Veterans Affairs after firing former Obama administration official David Shulkin, amid an ethics scandal and mounting rebellion within the agency, the federal government’s second largest.

But Jackson has since faced numerous questions from Republican and Democratic lawmakers as well as veterans groups about whether he has the experience to manage the massive department of 360,000 employees serving 9 million veterans. The agency in recent years has faced challenging in trying to provide prompt adequate care for veterans.

Rounds, who has met personally in his Capitol Hill office with Jackson, has previously also said the doctor’s small staff at the White House will be an issue as he prepares to lead the VA.

“We’ve got 360,000 people there,” he said. “Are they going to manage the secretary or is the secretary going to manage the VA? That’s a good question to ask, and he needs to answer it. He needs to be the leader. A lot of folks want to be led and managed.”

Rounds also said the committee still needs more paperwork from the White House on Jackson before the nomination can go forward.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Senate panel to delay confirmation hearing for Trump VA pick, amid conduct questions

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The Senate has delayed its confirmation hearing for President Trump’s pick for Veteran Affairs secretary amid growing questions about nominee Dr. Ronny Jackson’s past conduct and ability to manage the agency.

The postponement was confirmed to Fox News late Monday night by South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds, a Republican member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. The panel had been scheduled to hold the hearing Wednesday.

Rounds said committee Chairman Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., recently told him and other committee members that he wants to resolve some “unsubstantiated allegations” about Jackson, the official White House doctor and a Navy rear admiral.

“He wants to do it right. We told him that if he wanted to delay the meeting, that was fine with us. We most certainly want to get … the facts outs,” Rounds told “Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream.” 

Reports of unspecified allegations surrounding Jackson’s conduct surfaced overnight. 

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 file photo, President Donald Trump shakes hands with White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson as he boards Marine One to leave Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., after his first medical check-up as president. On Wednesday, March 28, 2018, President Donald Trump fired Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, and tweeted that Jackson is his nominee to replace Shulkin. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

VA secretary nominee Ronny Jackson’s confirmation hearing has been postponed.  (AP)

The White House had not responded by Tuesday morning to a request for comment.

“Some Republican colleagues have told me that they think the hearing should be postponed, which certainly deserves consideration,” said Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat on the committee. “I think there may well be a need for more time, in fairness to Admiral Jackson, so he and the administration have an opportunity to answer these questions fully and fairly.”

However, Blumenthal declined to discuss why more time might be needed.

Trump selected Jackson last month to run the Department of Veterans Affairs after firing former Obama administration official David Shulkin, amid an ethics scandal and mounting rebellion within the agency, the federal government’s second largest.

But Jackson has since faced numerous questions from Republican and Democratic lawmakers as well as veterans groups about whether he has the experience to manage the massive department of 360,000 employees serving 9 million veterans. The agency in recent years has faced challenging in trying to provide prompt adequate care for veterans.

Rounds, who has met personally in his Capitol Hill office with Jackson, has previously also said the doctor’s small staff at the White House will be an issue as he prepares to lead the VA.

“We’ve got 360,000 people there,” he said. “Are they going to manage the secretary or is the secretary going to manage the VA? That’s a good question to ask, and he needs to answer it. He needs to be the leader. A lot of folks want to be led and managed.”

Rounds also said the committee still needs more paperwork from the White House on Jackson before the nomination can go forward.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Global stocks mostly rise amid upbeat corporate earnings

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Global stocks mostly rose Tuesday as company earnings reports continued to largely beat expectations, suggesting the economy remains strong despite concerns about trade.

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KEEPING SCORE: Germany’s DAX was up 0.3 percent to 12,608 while France’s CAC 40 was little changed at 5,437. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.3 percent to 7,421. U.S. shares were also set to drift higher with Dow and S&P 500 future both up 0.6 percent.

EARNINGS: Coca-Cola reported net income of 32 cents per share in the first quarter, above Wall Street expectations. That followed a jump in profits at Google parent Alphabet late Monday. It reported strong digital ad sales and an accounting adjustment. The reports confirm that the first three months of the year have been largely positive for companies, as they enjoy a strong global economy, despite recent tensions between the U.S. and China over trade.

U.S. BOND YIELDS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note drew close to 3 percent on Monday, a milestone it has not reached since January 2014. It touched 2.98 percent but by Tuesday had fallen back to 2.97 percent. The 10-year yield stood at 2.43 percent at the end of 2017. Since the global financial crisis in 2008-09, a combination of low inflation expectations and a bond-buying program by the Federal Reserve have helped keep bond yields low but they have climbed this year as inflation has picked up and the Fed raised interest rates. With the Fed no longer buying bonds and investors expecting greater inflation, analysts say higher yields could make bonds more attractive than stocks. They also make U.S. dollars relatively more attractive.

THE QUOTE: “The U.S. dollar has put on a compelling show overnight as the stars align on the back of higher U.S. yields and a considerable reduction in the U.S. dollar’s geopolitical risk premium as an outwardly calmer mood surrounding trade and geopolitical risk takes hold,” Stephen Innes of OANDA said in a commentary.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 108.81 yen from 108.71 yen. The euro fell to $1.2220 from $1.2233.

ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.9 percent to finish at 22,278.12, helped by the weaker yen. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.6 percent to 5,921.60, and South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.4 percent to 2,464.14. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1.4 percent to 30,661.56, while the Shanghai Composite jumped nearly 2.0 percent to 3,128.93, recouping losses from the previous day. Shares were mixed in Southeast Asia.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil gained 18 cents to $68.82 a barrel. It rose 0.4 percent to $68.64 a barrel in New York the previous day. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 8 cents to $74.79 per barrel in London.

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Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

Her work can be found at https://www.apnews.com/search/yuri%20kageyama

Philippines ambassador to Kuwait apologizes amid tensions

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The Philippines’ ambassador to Kuwait has offered a public apology after he made comments about his diplomatic mission’s efforts to help abused Filipino housemaids in the Gulf nation.

Renato Villa read from a statement and took no questions from journalists in Kuwait City on Tuesday.

He said Philippines Foreign Minister Alan Peter Cayetano also had made an apology to Kuwait “for the actions that were undertaken by the embassy … to assist Filipino nationals in grave distress here in Kuwait but which the government … found unacceptable.”

Kuwait police arrested two Filipinos earlier this week over helping maids flee their employers.

The Philippines banned workers from coming to Kuwait over abuse complaints after a dead Filipina was found in a freezer in an abandoned Kuwait City apartment in February.

Travelers profit misses on higher catastrophe losses

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April 24 (Reuters) – Insurer Travelers Cos Inc’s quarterly profit missed analysts’ estimates on Tuesday due to a rise in catastrophe losses and lower investment income.

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Shares of the Dow component were down 2.5 percent premarket.

On a core basis, the New York-based company earned $2.46 per share, missing analysts’ average estimate of $2.68, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Travelers, which is seen as a bellwether for the insurance sector, said catastrophe losses, net of reinsurance, widened 2 percent to $354 million in the first quarter.

The company blamed winter storms in the eastern United States, a wind and hail storm in the southern United States and mudslides in California for the rise.

Net investment income fell 1 percent to $603 million, due to lower private equity returns compared with a year earlier, the company said.

However, income tax expenses at the firm fell 21.3 percent, primarily driven by lower U.S. corporate income tax rate, while underwriting gains rose 22.3 percent to $258 million.

Net written premiums rose 5 percent to $6.82 billion.

Net income rose to $669 million, or $2.42 per share, in the first quarter ended March 31 from $617 million, or $2.17 per share, a year earlier.

The company reported a combined ratio of 95.5 percent, compared with 96 percent a year earlier. A ratio below 100 percent means an insurer earns more in premiums than it pays out in claims.

Total revenue rose 5 percent to $7.29 billion.

(Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

Romania: Leader faces misconduct charges in court hearing

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Romania’s most powerful politician is heading to court for the final hearing in a corruption case, days after the U.S. State Department said graft remains widespread at every level of government in the European Union member.

Liviu Dragnea, chairman of the Social Democratic Party, dismisses the charges of official misconduct as “mere statements, gossip and rumors” ahead of Wednesday’s hearing.

Prosecutors say Dragnea intervened to keep two women on the payroll of a family welfare agency, even though they were employed by the party.

In recent months, the left-wing government has embarked on a contentious judicial overhaul, prompting protests and criticism from the EU.

Critics say the proposals, including restricting public statements about corruption probes, would make prosecutions harder.

Pakistan arrests father, uncle in Italian's 'honor' killing

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Pakistani police say they have arrested the father and the uncle suspected in an “honor” killing of a 25-year-old Italian citizen, a woman of Pakistani origin who refused to marry the man they chose for her.

Police official Intisar Hussain says the two men were arrested early on Tuesday and charged with the killing of Sana Cheema in the city of Gujrat in Punjab province.

The Italian Foreign Ministry says it’s following the case through its embassy in Islamabad, which is gathering information from Pakistani authorities to define the circumstances of the case and offer any assistance that might be necessary.

Pakistani police say Cheema died on April 18 under mysterious circumstances. Her body will be exhumed this week to determine the exact cause of her death.