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US – Wall Street changes the rules

New rules for Wall Street. The classifications in the S&P 500 index which contains the 500 American companies with the greatest capitalisation are changing. New sections and subsections are being added to reflect the transformation of the tech, media and consumer sectors in recent years. Google, Facebook and Netflix, the market’s driving forces, are moving to a new telecommunication services sector.

The technological sector is being downsized, and from now on will only contain one of the five big-tech companies, Apple, and account for 20% instead of 26% of the entire S&P index. Historically, when a sector approaches 30% of the S&P500, as happened in 2007 with financial securities, the market suffers, so this organisation change could be positive. The telecommunication services section will increase from 2% to 11%. This is the most sweeping reorganisation of the American stock market’s benchmarks since 1999.

Vote: 8 to the innovative capabilities of those writing the rules to allow for how society is changing.  

UN – Trump cancels UN funds for Palestinians

The American administration has decided to remove all United States funding to the United Nations Aid programme (UNRWA) for the Palestinian people.

UNRWA supports over 5 million people in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, providing health services, education and social services.

The loss of the main donor will seriously jeopardize the survival of the entire programme. The US up to now have always been the largest funders of UNRWA: in 2017 they donated 368 million dollars, followed by the European Union with 160 million dollars and Saudi Arabia with 150 million. The American administration paid the first instalment of 60 million in January and has now cancelled all further payments. Jordan has announced that it will lead the fund collection for Palestinian refugees, after the United States cuts, and has called for a meeting of the Arab League to solicit donors to over the 200 million dollar deficit required to support UNRWA

Vote: 5 to American irresponsibility. One can’t govern the world with a Colt 45…

VENEZUELA – New sanctions against Caracas

The American Treasury department has announced sanctions against the entourage of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. These are levied against his wife Cilia Flores, the vice-president Delcy Rodriguez, the Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino and Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez. President Trump, who has invited the Venezuelan armed forces to topple the government, stated that a human tragedy is taking place in Venezuela and urgent measures are needed to restore democracy. All the “options” are on the table, including the “strongest ones”, as Trump confirmed during the United Nations Assembly. Trump also said he was prepared to meet Maduro in New York on the same occasion. In the meantime, the presidents of Argentina, Peru, Paraguay and Colombia have filed a joint request with the International Court of Justice in the Hague that it should bring the Maduro government to trial for crimes against humanity.

Vote: 3 to Maduro for his authoritarian hold over his country. 4 to Trump for calling for the use of force

NORTHAMERICA – New free trade deal

The US State Department has approved the sale of weapon systems worth 330 million dollars to Taiwan. The Agency for Defence and Security Cooperation of the Pentagon has declared in a press release that the sale will help to improve Taiwan’s defence capacity, which is an important political and military stabilising force in Asia. Beijing has vehemently protested against the transaction and in reply has denied the US Navy amphibious warship USS Wasp the right to drop anchor in Hong Kong.

Vote: 5 to the US State Department, its policy in Asia is unclear: appeasement or confrontation?

Over one quarter of Californians were not born in the USA. TRUE

According to the United States Census office almost 11 million Californians, i.e. 27% of the population, were not born in America. More than half of the “foreigners” that live in the state were born in Latin America, while 37% come from Asia. The main countries of origin are Mexico with 4.3 million, the Philippines with 812,000 and China with 760,000. California’s governor Jerry Brown has declared that immigrants are a fundamental part of the state and their presence has contributed to California’s wealth and dynamism.

Thanks to Donald Trump, the United States has become the world’s largest producer of oil and gas. FALSE

According to a report by the United States Energy Information Administration, which compiles data on global energy production, the US overtook Russia to become the largest global producer of oil and gas in 2011, i.e. during the Barack Obama presidency. Since then America has constantly been increasingits advantage. In 2017, the first year of the Trump presidency, the United States produced 59.4 billion BTU of oil and gas per day compared with 46.4 quadrillion produced by Russia.

Almost half of those who reside illegally in the United States entered the country with a regular visa. TRUE

Although the debate on illegal immigration in America usually focuses on those who illegally cross the border between the United States and Mexico, according to estimates by the Centre for Migration Studies, almost half of all unauthorized migrants that live in the United States entered the country legally. Each year the United States issues thousands of temporary visas to students, tourists and foreign workers that can last from a matter of weeks to several years… some of these individuals stay after their visas have expired!

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