Friday April 19, 2019
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Trump to Combat Sale of Bogus Products on Alibaba, Amazon and eBay

"This president has decided it's time to clean up this wild west of counterfeiting and trafficking," said Peter Navarro

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bogus products, alibaba, amazon
U.S. Customs and Border Protection displays counterfeit toys in this undated photo. VOA

A memorandum was signed by U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday to combat the sale of bogus products through online platforms such as Alibaba, Amazon and eBay.

“This president has decided it’s time to clean up this wild west of counterfeiting and trafficking,” said Peter Navarro, assistant to the president and director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy.

Although Trump’s move takes no immediate action against makers and sellers of fake products — ranging from pharmaceutical drugs to brand-name athletic shoes — it does direct the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate with the Attorney General, the U.S. Trade Representative and the Commerce Department, as well as other federal agencies, to jointly investigate the problem and submit a report with recommendations within 210 days.

“We simply don’t know how much counterfeiting is going on,” according to Navarro.

bogus products, amazon, alibaba
FILE – A fake LVMH handbag purchased and shipped from a China-based website is displayed for a photographer, outside a Louis Vuitton store in Chevy Chase, Maryland. VOA

Speaking to reporters on a conference call Wednesday, Navarro estimated that up to half of the branded goods online are fake.

Customs and Border Protection does not have enough personnel to properly police the flood of illicit goods, including dangerous opioids, pouring into the United States via online sellers, according to Navarro.

“If you don’t clean it up, the government will,” Navarro warned the online platforms, which he says are responsible for selling an estimated half-trillion dollars’ worth of counterfeit products annually.

The frequently seized imported fakes are items of footwear, followed by clothing, leather goods and IT equipment, according to a survey of customs officials in numerous countries. Postal parcels are the most popular way to ship counterfeit and pirated products.

bogus products, amazon, alibaba
FILE – Counterfeit branded fashion goods are presented during the annual news conference of the customs duty office at Frankfurt Airport, outside Frankfurt, Germany. VOA

Besides cheating consumers out of billions of dollars, Navarro says the illicit products pose a national security threat because they are slipping into the military supply chain.

In a statement, the top online U.S. retailer, Amazon, said it “invests heavily in proactive measures to prevent counterfeit goods from ever reaching our store.”

Alibaba, the world’s most popular destination for online shopping, says it has “developed best-in-class systems to protect IP and battle the scourge of counterfeiting.” The Chinese company adds that it welcomes the initiative “and the attention it brings to the global fight against counterfeiting.”

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China is the top producer of fake goods in nine out of 10 categories, including the most popular category, footwear, where as much as 27 percent of all goods seized could be traced back to the country, according to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Union’s intellectual property (EUIPO).

Asked by a reporter if this has been raised during ongoing U.S.-China trade talks, Navarro responded, “There’s no relation of this to that.” (VOA)

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Nancy Pelosi Calls on Trump to Take Down Omar Video Tweet

Pelosi said officials will continue to monitor and assess threats against Omar, and called on Trump to discourage such behavior

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FILE - Rep. Ilhan Omar arrives before NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses a Joint Meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 3, 2019. VOA

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday she has taken steps to ensure the safety of Rep. Ilhan Omar after President Donald Trump’s retweet of a video that purports to show the Minnesota Democrat being dismissive of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The California Democrat also called on Trump to take down the video. Soon after her public request, the video was no longer pinned atop Trump’s Twitter feed, but it was not deleted.

Pelosi was among Democrats who had criticized Trump over the tweet, with some accusing him of trying to incite violence against the Muslim lawmaker. An upstate New York man recently was charged with making death threats against her.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders defended Trump earlier Sunday, saying the president has a duty to highlight Omar’s history of making comments that others deem anti-Semitic or otherwise offensive and that he wished no “ill will” upon the first-term lawmaker.

Pelosi issued a statement while traveling in London saying she had spoken with congressional authorities “to ensure that Capitol Police are conducting a security assessment to safeguard Congresswoman Omar, her family and her staff.”

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. VOA

Pelosi said officials will continue to monitor and assess threats against Omar, and called on Trump to discourage such behavior.

Pelosi was among Democrats who had criticized Trump over the tweet, with some accusing him of trying to incite violence against the Muslim lawmaker. An upstate New York man recently was charged with making death threats against her.

“The President’s words weigh a ton, and his hateful and inflammatory rhetoric creates real danger,” Pelosi said. “President Trump must take down his disrespectful and dangerous video.”

The video in Trump’s tweet on Friday included a snippet from a recent speech Omar gave to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, in which she described the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center as “some people did something,” along with news footage of the hijacked airplanes hitting the Twin Towers. Trump captioned his tweet with: “WE WILL NEVER FORGET!”

Critics accuse Omar of being flippant in describing the perpetrators of the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. She later sought to defend herself by tweeting a quote from President George W. Bush, in which the Republican president referred to the attackers as “people” just days after 9/11.

Neither Trump’s tweet nor the video included Omar’s full quote or the context of her comments, which were about Muslims feeling that their civil liberties had eroded after the attacks. The tweet was posted atop Trump’s Twitter feed for much of Sunday, with more than 9 million views. It remained lower in the feed after Pelosi requested that the video be pulled.

Sanders questioned why Democrats weren’t following Trump’s example and calling out Omar, too. Democrats who criticized the president over the tweet defended Omar, with some noting their past disagreements with her.

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The tweet was posted atop Trump’s Twitter feed for much of Sunday, with more than 9 million views. It remained lower in the feed after Pelosi requested that the video be pulled. VOA

“Certainly the president is wishing no ill will and certainly not violence towards anyone, but the president is absolutely and should be calling out the congresswoman for her — not only one time — but history of anti-Semitic comments,” Sanders said. “The bigger question is why aren’t Democrats doing the same thing? It’s absolutely abhorrent the comments that she continues to make and has made and they look the other way.”

Omar repeatedly has pushed fellow Democrats into uncomfortable territory with comments about Israel and the strength of the Jewish state’s influence in Washington. She apologized for suggesting that lawmakers support Israel for pay and said she isn’t criticizing Jews. But she refused to take back a tweet in which she suggested American supporters of Israel “pledge allegiance” to a foreign country.

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Rep. Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat who represents Manhattan’s financial district, which was targeted on 9/11, said he had no issues with Omar’s characterization of the attack.

“I have had some problems with some of her other remarks, but not — but not with that one,” he said. Sanders commented on “Fox News Sunday” and ABC’s “This Week.” Nadler appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union. (VOA)