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Pressure piles on China Evergrande with report chairman under police surveillance


China Evergrande Group’s logo is seen on its headquarters in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China, Sept. 26, 2021. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

The chairman of China Evergrande Group (3333.HK) has been placed under police surveillance, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday, ratcheting up pressure on the embattled developer whose outlook has already darkened significantly this week.

Citing people with knowledge of the matter, the report said Hui Ka Yan was taken away by police earlier this month and is being monitored at a designated location.

It was not clear why Hui was placed under residential surveillance, Bloomberg News said, adding the move was a type of police action that falls short of formal detention or arrest and does not mean Hui will be charged with a crime.

Reuters could not immediately verify the Bloomberg report. Evergrande did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Evergrande is the world’s most indebted property developer and is at the centre of a crisis in China’s property sector, which has seen a string of debt defaults since late 2021 that has dragged on the growth of the world’s second-largest economy.

The company rattled markets afresh when it said on Sunday it could not issue new bonds as part of its offshore debt restructuring plans because of a regulatory investigation into its main Chinese unit, Hengda Real Estate.

Then Hengda said on Monday it had failed to pay the principal and interest on a 4 billion yuan ($547 million) bond due by a Sept. 25 deadline.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that some of Evergrande’s offshore creditors were planning to join a liquidation court petition filed against Evergrande if it does not submit a new debt revamp plan by end of October.

Markets are also focused on another major Chinese developer, Country Garden (2007.HK), which is facing a new bond coupon repayment deadline on Wednesday.

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House GOP advances four spending bills after failed attempts

House Republicans on Tuesday advanced four full-year spending bills, handing Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) a small win but doing little to stave off a government shutdown at the end of the month.

The chamber voted 216-212 to begin consideration of spending measures to fund the Department of Defense; Department of Homeland Security; Department of State and foreign operations; and the Department of Agriculture, rural development and Food and Drug Administration.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) was the lone GOP “no” vote.

Her opposition did not come as a surprise: ahead of the vote, she said she was a “hard no” on the rule because two of the spending bills include funding for Ukraine.

McCarthy initially said he would remove the Ukraine aid from the Pentagon funding bill and hold a separate vote on it, but backtracked after recognizing that there was also assistance for Kyiv in the appropriations bill for the Department of State and foreign operations. The Speaker said it was “too difficult” to strip the money out of the State Department measure.

Greene spoke out against the aid for Ukraine following the vote.

“I just voted NO to advance Ukraine funding bills. After tonight, we will find out who is actually against sending YOUR money to Ukraine. No more stump speeches. No more red meat. No more chest thumping in letters,” Greene wrote in a post on X.

The successful procedural vote marks an incremental win for McCarthy, who has struggled to advance spending measures this month amid conservative opposition. The House tried to advance the Department of Defense appropriations bill twice last week, with hardline opposition sinking the measure both times.

The advancement of the bills, however, will do nothing to avert a shutdown ahead of the Sept. 30 government funding deadline.

Leaders in both parties and chambers have recognized that a continuing resolution will be needed to keep the lights on in Washington beyond the Saturday deadline, but the path to clearing such a measure is unclear.

Senate leaders on Tuesday unveiled a bill to avoid a shutdown, but it remains unknown when it will clear the Senate and if McCarthy will bring the legislation to the floor for a vote. The measure would kick the funding deadline to Nov. 17 and it includes roughly $6 billion for Ukraine and $6 billion in disaster relief.

McCarthy has tried to coalesce his conference around a GOP-crafted continuing resolution that would cut spending and enact a chunk of the House Republican conference’s marquee border bill, but a number of hardliners have said that they will not support a stopgap measure under any circumstances.

House GOP leaders are hopeful that moving the four appropriations bills will make some of those Republican holdouts more open to a continuing resolution. McCarthy on Tuesday said he will bring a stopgap bill to the floor for a vote this week.

Updated at 10:05 p.m.

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Tuberville says he will block military promotions ‘forever’

(NewsNation) — The Senate voted last week to approve three out of more than 300 military promotions blocked by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., in protest of the Pentagon’s abortion travel policy.

Now, Tuberville, who has been holding out on pushing through the hundreds of promotions for months, appears to be flipping the script on Democratic lawmakers.

“We could be confirming two to three of these a day if they wanted to, but they don’t want to,” Tuberville told “NewsNation Now.”

He continued: “This is all going to be left up to Sen. Schumer.”

Considering the impasse, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., filed a motion last week to vote individually on a trio of nominees whose confirmations had been held by Tuberville.

“I got three of these people confirmed last week. I did. Chuck Schumer didn’t do it,” Tuberville said. “I forced his hand. So, if he wants to do more of them, let’s go. Let’s get them done this week.”

Schumer fears the move to vote individually may leave a lasting impact on the Senate.

“The decision by the senior senator from Alabama will have long-lasting repercussions that may not be apparent right away, but we may come to regret,” Schumer said. “I believe we will come to regret them.”

He added, “We cannot allow Sen. Tuberville to decide which of our dedicated and brave service members get promoted and which get to languish.”

Tuberville has hit the pause button on military promotions, freezing the ability to vote on several nominations at once and slowing down the traditional confirmation process. He insists he’s not letting up anytime soon.

When asked how long he would continue the blockade, Tuberville replied, “Forever. I’m not giving in.”

It’s all part of his efforts to compel the Pentagon to overturn its abortion travel policy and allow Congress to vote on it.

The policy pays for service members to travel across state lines to obtain abortions. Tuberville’s stance is if the Pentagon policy is brought to a vote and not approved through legislation, then service members would not be able to receive leave and reimbursement for transportation costs incurred by traveling across state lines to abortion providers.

“The American people deserve, on such a controversial topic, to have a vote on this, and that’s what I’m trying to get,” Tuberville said.

When addressing the holds, Biden administration officials have pointed to an opinion issued last year by the Department of Justice, saying U.S. law only restricts the use of federal funds to “perform abortions” but doesn’t prohibit the use of funds to pay per diem or travel expenses.

The Pentagon maintains Tuberville’s actions are “damaging” to national security and place military leaders in a tough position.

“What we will still continue to do here at the Pentagon is to highlight how damaging this is for our national security, for our readiness, for our military families,” Sabrina Singh, deputy press secretary at the Pentagon, told NewsNation in a previous interview. “That’s something that a senator who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee should really understand.”

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said it’s “well past time” to confirm the remaining military nominees.

“The brave men and women of the U.S. military deserve to be led by highly qualified generals and flag officers at this critical moment for our national security. And their families, who also sacrifice so much every day on our behalf, deserve certainty and our nation’s unwavering support,” Austin said. “I will continue to personally engage with members of Congress in both parties until all of these well-qualified, apolitical officers are confirmed.”

The current hold is affecting roughly 300 general and flag-officer nominations and the transition of leadership within the Department of Defense.

The Hill contributed to this report.

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Screenwriters Accept Deal to Return to Work But Actors Remain on Strike

SAG-AFTRA actors walk on a picket line outside Netflix studios on Tuesday, Sep. 26, 2023, in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES — Leaders of Hollywood’s writers union declared their nearly five-month-old strike over Tuesday after board members approved a contract agreement with studios.

The governing boards of the eastern and western branches of the Writers Guild of America both voted to accept the deal, and afterward declared that the strike would be over and writers would be free to work starting at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

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The writers still have to vote to ratify the contract themselves, but lifting the strike will allow them to work during that process, the Writers Guild told members in an email.

Hollywood actors remain on strike with no talks yet on the horizon.

Read More: Why Actors Are Going on Strike

A new spirit of optimism animated actors who were picketing Tuesday for the first time since writers reached their tentative deal Sunday night.

“For a hot second, I really thought that this was going to go on until next year,” said Marissa Cuevas, an actor who has appeared on the TV series “Kung Fu” and “The Big Bang Theory.” “Knowing that at least one of us has gotten a good deal gives a lot of hope that we will also get a good deal.”

Writers’ picket lines have been suspended, but they were encouraged to walk in solidarity with actors, and many were on the lines Tuesday, including “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner, who picketed alongside friend and “ER” actor Noah Wyle as he has throughout the strikes.

“We would never have had the leverage we had if SAG had not gone out,” Weiner said. “They were very brave to do it.”

Striking actors voted to expand their walkout to include the lucrative video game market, a step that could put new pressure on Hollywood studios to make a deal with the performers who provide voices and stunts for games.

The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Radio and Television Artists announced the move late Monday, saying that 98% of its members voted to go on strike against video game companies if ongoing negotiations are not successful. The announcement came ahead of more talks planned for Tuesday.

Acting in video games can include a variety of roles, from voice performances to motion capture work as well as stunts. Video game actors went on strike in 2016 in a work stoppage that lasted nearly a year.

Some of the same issues are at play in the video game negotiations as in the broader actors strike that has shut down Hollywood for months, including wages, safety measures and protections on the use of artificial intelligence. The companies involved include gaming giants Activision, Electronic Arts, Epic Games, Take 2 Productions as well as Disney and Warner Bros.′ video game divisions.

“It’s time for the video game companies to stop playing games and get serious about reaching an agreement on this contract,” SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said in a statement.

Audrey Cooling, a spokesperson for video game producers, said they are “continuing to negotiate in good faith” and have reached tentative agreements on more than half of the proposals on the table.

So far this year, U.S. consumers have spent $34.9 billion on video games, consoles and accessories, according to market research group Circana.

The threat of a video game strike emerged as Hollywood writers were on the verge of getting back to work after months on the picket lines.

The alliance of studios, streaming services and producers has chosen to negotiate only with the writers so far, and has made no overtures yet toward restarting talks with SAG-AFTRA. That will presumably change soon.

SAG-AFTRA leaders have said they will look closely at the writers’ agreement, which includes many of the same issues, but it will not effect their demands.

Associated Press video journalists Leslie Ambriz and Krysta Fauria in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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INTERNATIONAL EDITION: Former U.S. President Found Liable for Fraud

A judge rules that former President Donald Trump has committed fraud; President Joe Biden joins a picket line and the U.S. government sues We take a look at the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and at the economy in Zimbabwe. Plus a look ahead to Wednesday’s Republican debate.

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Michael Cohen rubs it in after New York judge financially destroys Donald Trump


Donate to Democratic candidate Adam Frisch.

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Today a judge effectively ended Donald Trump financially in the state of New York, ruling that Trump is liable for financial fraud, pulling Trump’s business licenses, and steering Trump’s assets toward receivership.

Michael Cohen was the one who first exposed Donald Trump’s specific acts of financial fraud, including mortgage and insurance fraud, a few years back. Ever since then he’s been leading the way in cooperating with various investigators, including New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Cohen celebrated today’s news by simply breaking out the caviar:

— Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) September 26, 2023


Michael Cohen has previously stated that he’s set to be called as a witness in the New York civil fraud trial against Donald Trump, which is set to begin next week. But with the judge having already found Trump liable, the trial will be more about determining the size of the financial penalties against Trump.

Palmer Report has significant operating expenses, including website hosting, tech support, mailing list services, and much more. If you value Palmer Report’s content, donate here.

Palmer Report has significant operating expenses, including website hosting, tech support, mailing list services, and much more. If you value Palmer Report’s content, donate here.

The post Michael Cohen rubs it in after New York judge financially destroys Donald Trump appeared first on Palmer Report.

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US Bans 3 Chinese Manufacturers Over Suspicions They Used Forced Uyghur Labor

 Three Chinese textile manufacturers have been banned from exporting their goods to the United States over suspicions they may be using forced labor in their production lines.   

International watchdogs have accused the Chinese government of setting up internment camps in the northwestern city of Xinjiang to extract forced labor from Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities, including Kazakhs and Kyrgyz.   

U.S. intelligence now believes the three Xinjiang-based companies are collaborating with the Chinese government to enslave and further persecute Muslim minorities in the region.     

“We do not tolerate companies that use forced labor, that abuse the human rights of individuals in order to make a profit,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said of the decision to place the three companies on the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act Entity List, or UFLPA.     

The State Department issued an injunction Tuesday, warning of China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and the evidence of widespread use of forced labor there.”     

Beijing denies the accusations.   

With the latest additions, the number of blacklisted businesses on the UFLPA has grown to 27. But critics say that number is far too small.   

“There are potentially thousands of China-based companies and entities complicit in slave labor,” said Senator Marco Rubio, who helped sign the UFLPA into law in 2021. “The slow pace [of U.S. sanctions] emboldens those profiting from slave labor.” 

Tuesday’s bans come a month after the U.S. added two other China-based corporations to the UFLPA.  

Companies on the UFLPA can only be removed from the list if they can prove that they are not using forced labor.     

Some information for this report came from Reuters.   

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In a First for a US President, Biden Joins Auto Worker Picket Line

President Joe Biden on Tuesday became the first sitting U.S. president to join a labor strike, standing with workers in the Detroit suburbs as they entered the second week of their strike seeking higher pay, a shorter workweek and other changes from the nation’s top three automakers.

“Folks, stick with it, because you deserve the significant raise you need and other benefits,” Biden said during his short stop to visit marching workers. “Let’s get back what we lost, OK? We stepped up for them. Now it’s time they stepped up for us.”

Workers seek a 40% pay rise, a 32-hour workweek and more, and cite companies’ ballooning profits as justification. On Tuesday, members of UAW Local 174 chanted, “What do we want? Contracts! When do we want them? Now!”

Biden has been careful to not say publicly which of their specific demands he supports or to what extent, only that he supports workers’ right to strike.

But when asked by reporters on Tuesday if he believed workers should get a 40% increase, he said, “Yes. I think they should be able to bargain for that.”

The president of the powerful United Auto Workers union — which endorsed Biden’s presidential run in 2020 but hasn’t yet done the same for his 2024 bid — thanked him.

“Thank you, Mr. President, for coming,” said UAW President Shawn Fain, to workers’ cheers. “Thank you for coming to stand up with us in our generation’s defining moment. And we know the president will do right by the working class. And when we do right by the working class, you can leave the rest to us, because we’re going to take care of this business. Get social justice for all of our members.”

General Motors, the largest of the Big Three automakers, avoided any direct comment on Biden’s appearance but issued a statement saying, “Our focus is not on politics but continues to be on bargaining in good faith with the UAW leadership to reach an agreement as quickly as possible.”

The union claims more than 400,000 members. Many point to the sharp rise in company profits and CEO pay but also to the much smaller rise in worker pay.

At a march last week, one worker said this strike is about much more than terms: It’s about how Americans think about work and corporate compensation.

“I want the levels to be balanced,” said UAW member Yolanda Downs. “I want everyone to make a good living and a fair living. If I’m working on one side of the line and I’m making $30, and the person across from me is making $15 an hour, how is that fair?”

Biden seemed to agree, saying that the automakers “are doing incredibly well. And guess what? You should be doing incredibly well, too. It’s a simple proposition.”

Susan Kang, an associate professor in political science at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said Biden’s decision to stand with workers is significant. But can he tip the balance of negotiations?

“Probably not,” she said. “Because there’s a lot of things going on in the specifics of the negotiations, but he can shift the political support. We already have an overwhelming amount of support from the public for the strike. And I think this is going to further legitimize the position of the striking workers.”

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump plans to rally at a nonunion plant near Detroit on Wednesday instead of participating in the second Republican presidential primary debate that day.

In a statement, he dismissed Biden’s Detroit trip.

“This is nothing more than a PR stunt from Crooked Joe Biden to distract and gaslight the American people from his disastrous Bidenomics policies that have led to so much economic misery across the country,” he said.

The White House refutes that claim, arguing that since Biden took office, “the U.S. economy has added 235,000 auto jobs — over four times as many auto jobs per month (and over five times as many auto manufacturing jobs per month) as under the previous administration, pre-Covid.”

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank with a number of former Trump administration officials on its team, argues that the workers’ demands are exorbitant.

“These demands are unsustainable in the globally competitive economy of 2023,” Rachel Greszler, who researches U.S. economic issues, wrote on September 22.

She added that if the automakers — General Motors, Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler) and Ford Motor Company — capitulate, “that simply will mean more shuttered U.S. plants and fewer jobs for UAW members.”

Kang, of John Jay College, said many older politicians may be missing a broader movement among millennial workers.

“I think that there’s a wave, a tide, towards greater intolerance of deep socioeconomic inequality that really has sort of characterized my lifetime,” she said.

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At least 100 killed, 150 injured in fire at Iraq wedding party


At least 100 people were killed and 150 were injured in a fire at a wedding celebration in the district of Hamdaniya in Iraq’s Nineveh province, Iraqi state media said early on Wednesday, with local sources saying the toll was expected to rise.

The fire ripped through a large events hall in the north-eastern region after fireworks were lit during the celebration, local civil defence said, according to state media.

Video from a Reuters correspondent at the site showed firefighters clambering over the charred wreckage of the building in search of survivors.

Preliminary information indicated that the building was made of highly flammable construction materials, contributing to its rapid collapse, state media said.

Ambulances and medical crews were dispatched to the site by federal Iraqi authorities and authorities in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, according to official statements.

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Menendez indictment prompts calls in US Congress for Egypt aid rethink


Charges that Senator Bob Menendez accepted bribes in exchange for wielding his influence to aid the Egyptian government prompted calls in the U.S. Congress on Tuesday for the Biden administration to rethink $235 million in military aid to Cairo.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Middle East subcommittee, said he hoped the committee would investigate the allegations and Egypt’s involvement.

U.S. prosecutors announced an indictment on Friday accusing Menendez of accepting gold bars and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in exchange for wielding his influence to aid the Egyptian government.

“I would hope that our committee would consider using any ability it has to put a pause on those dollars, pending an inquiry into what Egypt was doing,” Murphy told reporters.

“I have not talked to colleagues about this yet, but obviously this raises pretty serious questions about Egypt, Egypt’s conduct,” he said.

The indictment against Menendez also says he had close relationships with members of Egypt’s intelligence services and held meetings to discuss U.S. military aid.

Menendez has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. He has stepped down temporarily from his role as chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senate Democratic rules require a member charged with a felony to give up any leadership position.

President Joe Biden’s administration decided this month to allow much of U.S. foreign military aid to Egypt to go ahead, saying the country was vital to national security interests despite what critics have said about human rights abuses.

Murphy was among lawmakers who criticized the decision.

Representative Don Beyer, a Democratic House of Representative member and co-founder of the congressional Egypt Human Rights Caucus, said Egypt “is conducting an espionage operation within the U.S. Senate” and Washington should respond.

“I think that calls for a much stronger response from the Biden administration, and the straightforward one is to withhold (the military funds),” Beyer said on CNN.