Wednesday February 20, 2019
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US stocks plunge following global rout

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New York: US stocks extended losses in the morning session Tuesday as a renewed broad-based sell-off around the world rattled nervous investors. By midday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 314.56 points (1.90 percent), to 16,213.47. The S&P 500 dropped 36.43 points (1.85 percent), to 1,935.75. The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 67.98 points (1.42 percent), to 4,708.52. Tokyo equities dived with its benchmark Nikkei stocks index plunging 3.84 percent on Tuesday amid weak performances in other stocks markets.

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www.abc.net.au

Chinese shares slumped for a second day on Tuesday on weak economic data, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dipping 1.23 percent to end at 3,166.62 points. China’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) came in at 49.7 in August, down from 50 for July and the lowest since August 2012, according to official data released Tuesday morning. European stocks also traded sharply lower as the heavy falls across the board weighed on market sentiment.

Adding more pessimism to the market, US economic data came out negative. The US August manufacturing PMI registered 51.1 percent, missing market consensus of 52.8 percent and a decrease of 1.6 percentage points from the July reading of 52.7 percent, said the Institute Supply Management (ISM) Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Department of Commerce announced on Tuesday that construction spending during July 2015 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,083.4 billion US dollars, 0. 7 percent above the revised June estimate, slightly below market expectations. On Monday, US stocks declined as recent economic data fueled speculations that the Federal Reserve would begin raising interest rates from September.

(IANS)

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US Military Planes Deliver Aid to Venezuela-Colombia Border

The aid will be delivered to Cucuta, Colombia, where other food and medical supplies are being held.

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US, colombia, venezuela, military
FILE - Demonstrators who are against the Venezuelan government chant outside of the Organization of American States during the special meeting of the Permanent Council, in Washington, April 3, 2017, to consider the recent events in Venezuela. VOA

More than 200 tons of US humanitarian aid intended for Venezuela is scheduled to begin arriving just across the border in Colombia Saturday, delivered by US military cargo planes.

The aid will be delivered to Cucuta, Colombia, where other food and medical supplies are being held.

The aid comes at the request of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido to ease shortages of food and other essentials in economically troubled Venezuela.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has said the aid is part of Washington’s political maneuvering to get him out of office, and he has blocked off a bridge needed to bring the supplies into Venezuela.

The United States said Maduro’s election was unfair and illegitimate, and U.S. officials and scores of other nations have recognized his rival, Guaido, as the country’s interim leader.

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Sacks containing humanitarian aid are pictured at a warehouse near the Tienditas cross-border bridge between Colombia and Venezuela in Cucuta, Colombia, Feb. 14, 2019. VOA

Adding pressure

On Friday, Washington added to the political pressure on Maduro by sanctioning the head of Venezuela’s oil company as well as top intelligence officials.

Earlier Friday, Guiado’s representatives collected aid pledges from many nations at a meeting of the Organization of American States in Washington, where 25 countries promised more than $100 million in humanitarian aid to Venezuela.

“We came to ask for the solidarity of the governments of the world,” said Lester Toledo, coordinator for international help for Venezuela. “We appreciate the diplomatic gestures. We appreciate the letters and the recognition of President Guaidó. But we ask for help, to make the humanitarian aid a reality. That all donations can let us purchase medical supplies that we really need.”

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If the aid does arrive in Venezuela, organizations like the Red Cross will help distribute the supplies with “neutral and independent” conditions, Mario Villarroel, president of Venezuela’s Red Cross, said. Pixabay

Distributing the aid

U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States Carlos Trujillo said Guaidó has a plan.

“I believe that President Guaidó has done everything possible to make Maduro accept the humanitarian aid. Maduro has no argument, the person sitting in power doesn’t let the humanitarian aid reach his people who are dying of hunger,” Trujillo said.

Guaido said the aid will be brought into Venezuela Feb. 23.

Maduro, however, said the aid will not be brought into his nation, and he blames U.S. economic sanctions for Venezuela’s problems.

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“They’re putting pressure on Venezuela’s banks, which are in charge of purchasing and bringing the food and supplies. The White House is pressuring so that none of our bank accounts work. They have frozen billions of dollars that could otherwise buy food and medicine,” he claimed.

If the aid does arrive in Venezuela, organizations like the Red Cross will help distribute the supplies with “neutral and independent” conditions, Mario Villarroel, president of Venezuela’s Red Cross, said.

“We have the necessary experience, we know it is a very complex issue, but we will do our best to coordinate the distribution and organization of this humanitarian aid,” he said. (VOA)