US, for First Time, to Sell Coal to Ukraine

The U.S. said Monday that for the first time it will sell coal to Ukraine, easing its reliance on Russia and Moscow-back separatists in eastern Ukraine to meet its energy needs.

The accord calls for Xcoal Energy & Resources in the eastern state of Pennsylvania to ship 700,000 tons of thermal coal by the end of the year to Ukraine’s state-owned energy firm Centrenergo to help it heat homes and businesses in the coming winter months. The first shipment, at a cost of $113 a metric ton, is expected to leave the U.S. port of Baltimore in August.

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said the transaction was “crucial to the path forward to achieve energy dominance” for the United States. President Donald Trump has vowed to bring back the country’s coal industry, which has lost thousands of jobs as the U.S. has turned sharply toward use of cleaner and cheaper forms of energy, chiefly natural gas, even as demand for coal has risen in Europe and Asia.

Ukraine has struggled to meet its energy needs since March, when it cut off coal deliveries from the eastern part of its country controlled by Russian-backed separatists fighting the Kyiv government for control of the industrialized sector. Ukraine has called for a complete ban on coal imports from Russia, which Kyiv and Western countries have accused of supporting the rebellion in eastern Ukraine that has claimed 10,000 lives in the last three years.

Speaking at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, Xcoal president Ernie Thrasher called the deal “historic” and said the company was “committed to serving Ukraine’s needs.”

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With Uber in Turmoil, Lyft’s Ridership Surpasses All of 2016

Ride-hailing service Lyft carried more passengers through June this year than it did in all of last year as it capitalized on missteps at Uber.


The company says ridership through June surpassed the 162.5 million rides it gave in all of 2016. A spokeswoman wouldn’t give an exact number.


Lyft has made its gains as some shun much larger rival, Uber. Riders boycotted Uber after allegations that it took advantage of a New York taxi boycott in protest of President Donald Trump’s first order on immigration. There also were reports of widespread sexual harassment.


Lyft wouldn’t comment on Uber but says it added 160 U.S. cities this year. The company operates only in the U.S.


Uber says it’s given more than 5 billion rides since 2010.



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Used Book Sales Boom in S. Africa as Economic Recession Bites

South Africa entered an economic recession in June, and the country’s unemployment rate is fast approaching 30 percent, according to the government statistics agency. But for the sellers of secondhand books, business has never been better.

Eric Nofal, who has been selling used books for almost 30 years, shows a customer around his store in Johannesburg.

He says he recently faced “intense” competition before launching his fifth bookshop in the city.

“My ex-wife also wanted to open up a shop in this area, but I beat her to the punch, so she is a bit [angry] with me, actually!,” he admitted.

Nofal adds  “I am making money and it is going into my third month and that is pretty good for a new business to make money so quickly. Books have come back.”

It is a big contrast to five years ago when Nofal’s sales dropped dramatically. Book lovers were embracing electronic reading devices like Kindles. He had to close six stores.

But now, Nofal says, the “kindle craze” may be over and many South Africans want to turn “real pages.”

Yet many of his clients give another reason for no longer buying new books.

“They have gone up a hell of a lot. Obviously it depends on your import or your [South African] rand level,” he said.

The rand has dropped steadily against the dollar since the end of 2011, when one dollar was valued at about eight rand. Presently, a dollar is valued at 13 rand.

“A new book should cost you about the price of a meal. In the UK [Britain] that is about right, a meal costs about seven pounds and a [new] book costs about seven pounds. Here on the other hand a reasonable meal for one person will cost you about 70 rand, 80 rand and a [new] book costs 350 [rand]. People just can not afford [new] books,” he said.

Dealers across Johannesburg put the number of second hand book stores at about 50, up from about 25 just a few years ago.

But used books are not always cheaper.

Unpacking hand-me-down books inside his shop, Doron Locketz says that despite the poor economy, some South Africans spend “big money” on rare second hand titles.

“We sold a first edition of Long Walk to Freedom, and the big thing about it was that it was signed, pre the release date, by Mandela. It went to one of our collectors,” he said.

Locketz sold the autographed copy of Nelson Mandela’s bestseller for almost 80,000 rand … more than $6,000 US.

But he says the collectible book market is very small, and he mostly sells used books to a general audience.

“I am delighted to increasingly see more black customers, younger ones, who really have, many of them, a passion for books,” he said.

Economists are predicting a bleak outlook for South Africa for the next few years. So second hand book dealers like Locketz expect sales to rise even further in the near future.


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Уряд: номінальна заробітна плата українців у червні зросла на понад 37%

У Кабінеті міністрів України повідомили, що номінальна заробітна плата українців у червні 2017 року зросла у порівнянні з відповідним періодом 2016 року на 37,9 відсотка, і становила 7360 гривень. Про це інформує урядовий портал з посиланням на дані статистики.

Згідно з повідомленням, найбільше зростання заробітної плати у червні було в сфері виробництва комп’ютерів, електронної та оптичної продукції (12136 гривні), електронного устаткування (7038), автопрому (7798) та на виробництві коксу і продуктів нафтопереробки (8802 грн).

«У червні 2017 року у порівнянні з відповідним періодом 2016 року номінальна заробітна плата працівників освіти зросла на 51,9% (7151 гривні), діяльності у сфері творчості, мистецтва та розваг – на 48,4% (6159 гривні)», – повідомили в уряді.

Економісти в ефірі Радіо Свобода нещодавно заявили, що номінальне підвищення рівня зарплати на сьогодні не є відчутним для громадян, оскільки реальні доходи українців є значно меншими. Тенденція до зростання зарплат є, однак в Україні вони досі лишаються значно меншими за сусідні європейські країни.

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Запаси газу в Україні за тиждень зросли до 13 мільярдів кубометрів – «Укртрансгаз»

Запаси природного газу в українських підземних сховищах газу (ПСГ) у період з 22 до 29 липня зросли на 3,1%, до більш як 13 мільярдів кубометрів. Про це свідчать дані оператора газотранспортної системи України держкомпанії «Укртрансгаз».

Раніше міністр енергетики і вугільної промисловості Ігор Насалик заявив про плани нагромадження на 1 жовтня 2017 року 17 мільярдів кубометрів для проходження опалювального сезону 2017–2018 років.

При підготовці до минулого опалювального періоду профільне міністерство також наполягало на необхідності нагромадити 17 мільярдів кубометрів газу, але керівництво «Нафтогазу України» запевняло, що 14,5 мільярда кубометрів буде цілком достатньо. У результаті, в опалювальний сезон 2016–2017 років Україна ввійшла із запасами «блакитного» палива на рівні 14,7 і завершила сезон на рівні 8,4 мільярда кубометрів.

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Crocodile Industry Hopes to Boost Australia Aboriginal Communities

The crocodile industry in Australia’s Northern Territory, a new report says, is worth more than four times the previous estimate of US $80 million. Officials hope the findings will give poorer aboriginal communities the chance to develop crocodile farming industries.

The saltwater creature is the world’s largest reptile. In Australia, they were once hunted to the brink of extinction, mainly for their skins, which were used to make durable leather goods and clothes.

They have been a protected species since the early 1970s, and their numbers in Australia’s tropical north have soared.

Economic opportunities

The Northern Territory regional government now sees economic opportunities for indigenous communities, where officials want to see an expansion of crocodile egg collection programs.

The eggs would help to stock crocodile farms owned by aboriginal groups, or traditional owners of land, which would supply reptile skins to big fashion houses including Louis Vuitton and Gucci, as well as supplying crocodile meat.

“We are looking at direct investments into rangers to make sure that we see on country a growth in the crocodile industry, so the harvesting of eggs, the growing of the crocodile locally and remotely, which is a very important and valuable use of traditional country done by traditional owners,” said Michael Gunner, the Northern Territory’s chief minister.

Hunting for sport?

An independent Australian MP, Bob Katter, has said that as crocodile numbers increase, so does the threat to people. He believes big game trophy hunters should be allowed to shoot them for sport. Katter has argued that crocodile safaris would boost the incomes of indigenous communities.

While the Northern Territory government supports crocodile safaris, the final decision rests with Australia’s federal government, which has refused to allow them. Conservationists have insisted that the shooting of iconic animals for profit in Australia is abhorrent and should never be allowed.

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Apple Accused of Bowing to Chinese Censors

Apple, Inc. has confirmed that it is removing some applications providing virtual personal networks, or VPNs, from its China App Store, to comply with new Chinese regulations — a move critics say is capitulating to internet censorship.

Apple confirmed the move in an email to National Public Radio on Saturday, after several VPN providers announced that their apps had been removed from the China App Store.

Software made outside China can sometimes be used to get around China’s domestic internet firewalls that block content that the government finds objectionable. Critics call China’s “great firewall” one of the world’s most advanced censorship systems.

VPN apps pulled

“Earlier this year,” Apple said, “China’s MIIT [Ministry of Industry and Information Technology] announced that all developers offering VPNs must obtain a license from the government. We have been required to remove some VPN apps in China that do not meet the new regulations.”

App maker Express VPN said in a blog post that its app was removed from the China Apple Store, and it noted that “preliminary research indicates that all major VPN apps for iOS [Apple operating systems] have been removed.”

The statement continued, “We’re disappointed in this development, as it represents the most drastic measure the Chinese government has taken to block the use of VPNs to date, and we are troubled to see Apple aiding China’s censorship efforts.”

Another company, Star VPN, also announced it had been contacted by Apple with the same notice.

China successful

Golden Frog, a company that makes security software, told the New York Times that its app also had been taken down from the China App Store.

“We gladly filed an amicus brief in support of Apple and their backdoor encryption battle with the FBI, so we are extremely disappointed that Apple has bowed to pressure from China to remove VPN apps without citing any Chinese law or regulation that makes VPN illegal,” said Sunday Yokubaitis, president of the company.

The Times reports that this is the first time China has successfully used its influence with a major foreign technology platform such as Apple, to flex its muscle with software makers.

China is Apple’s largest market outside the United States.

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Україна збільшила запаси газу у сховищах до 13 мільярдів кубів – радник Міненерго

Україна збільшила запаси газу у підземних газосховищах до 13 мільярдів кубів, повідомив радник Міністерства енергетики та вугільної промисловості Максим Білявський.

За його словами, даний об’єм накопичень на п’яту частину перевищує минулорічний, що свідчить про кращу готовність до наступного опалювального сезону.

«Перезимуємо. Сьогодні ранком запаси газу в сховищах перетнули позначку – 13 мільярдів, це на 20% більше ніж торік», – написав Білявський у Facebook.

Затверджений Кабінетом Міністрів план заходів з підготовки паливно-енергетичного комплексу до осінньо-зимового періоду 2017/2018 років передбачає, що Україна до 1 листопада 2017 року має накопичити у підземних газосховищах 17 мільярдів кубічних метрів газу.

Як повідомлялось раніше, загалом цього року «Укртрансгаз» спрямував до підземних газосховищ понад 4 мільярди 100 мільйонів кубометрів газу, що в 2,7 рази більше, ніж за аналогічний період 2016 року, повідомили в компанії, що на 100 відсотків належить «Нафтогазові України».

17 липня «Нафтогаз України» повідомив про початок спільного з ЄС проекту комплексного вивчення українських підземних сховищ газу, що допоможе визначити найбільш ефективну модель використання газових сховищ.

«Нафтогаз України» володіє 100% акцій «Укртрансгазу», який, у свою чергу, управляє найбільшими ПСГ у Європі загальною потужністю 31 мільярд кубометрів.

За даними «Нафтогазу», протягом останніх років використовувалося близько 50% цієї потужності.

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Silicon Valley’s Hot Café: Where Digirati Pitch Ideas Over Venezuelan Coffee

Silicon Valley is the tech industry’s epicenter, but what is the epicenter of Silicon Valley?

It might just be Coupa Café in downtown Palo Alto, Calif.

For the tech community, this café is a meeting place of the who’s who of Silicon Valley, where the likes of the late Steve Jobs of Apple, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google co-founder Sergey Brin have all been spotted. Up-and-coming startup founders are able to buy their lattes with the digital currency Bitcoin before their pitch sessions with leading industry venture capitalists.

The café is so well known among techies that a cup with the Coupa logo was featured as a prop in the 2010 film The Social Network.

“I remember seeing Mark Zuckerberg sitting here and having meetings and people coming up,” said Eric Sokol, an associate professor of medicine at Stanford University.

While Silicon Valley is famous for companies such as Facebook, Twitter and other billion-dollar empires built in cyberspace, some folks in the valley still believe real-world human connections can make a difference.

Making connections

Just from frequenting the café, Sokol says, he became an adviser to a health care related startup and a new venture capitalist fund. Both came about when other patrons at the café overheard conversations he was having, he said.

That’s the kind of “crazy nest of connections” that can occur at Coupa, he said.

The Venezuelan-born Jean Paul Coupal founded the café with his mother and sister in 2004 with the hopes of bringing a bit of his homeland to Silicon Valley — Venezuelan coffee, crepes and Venezuelan arepas. The family puts its touch on all aspects of the business — Coupal’s sister and mother personally painted each of the eight cafés.

While the beautifully decorated walls and rich cuisine may be what initially attracted the tech community, the café’s tech focus has kept it in the vanguard of this café-saturated region.

In 2013, Coupa Cafe began accepting Bitcoins, a digital payment system, allowing customers to pay for their lattes and arepas with the currency.

“We want to be part of the technology,” Coupal said.

The pre-office

And there’s another perk: The café allows patrons to stay all day, which makes it attractive for entrepreneurs who are in the pre-office-space stage.

“A lot of the startups in the area come and they like to work at Coupa, coding all day,” Coupal said. “We’ve seen a lot of products that got developed at Coupa.”

With Stanford and other colleges nearby, the possibility of a life-changing chance encounter is not lost on local students interested in tech.

“I am currently teaching myself JavaScript here at Coupa right now,” said Katie Kennedy, a local community college student. “If someone happened to look over my shoulder and saw what I was doing, I would definitely not say no to any help.”

Now, there are eight Coupa Cafe locations. This one, the original on Ramona Street, is in a building from the 1930s.

“The food’s good, the coffee’s good,” Sokol said. “I wish I had stock, but I don’t in Coupa. And I don’t know, it just has the right atmosphere, the right mix of people. It’s got an energy about it, I guess.”

Cafe Coupa shows that being at the right place at the right time can change a café’s fate as much as a techie’s life.

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Mainstream Model 3 Could Make or Break Tesla Dreams

For Tesla, everything is riding on the Model 3.

The electric car company’s newest vehicle was delivered to its first 30 customers, all Tesla employees, Friday evening. Its $35,000 starting price, half the cost of Tesla’s previous models, and range of up to 310 miles (498 km) could bring hundreds of thousands of customers into the automaker’s fold, taking it from a niche luxury brand to the mainstream. Around 500,000 people worldwide have reserved a Model 3.

Those higher sales could finally make Tesla profitable and accelerate its plans for future products like SUVs and pickups.

Or the Model 3 could dash Tesla’s dreams.

Much could go wrong

Potential customers could lose faith if Tesla doesn’t meet its aggressive production schedule, or if the cars have quality problems that strain Tesla’s small service network. 

The compact Model 3 may not entice a global market that’s increasingly shifting to SUVs, including all-electric SUVs from Audi and others going on sale soon. And a fully loaded Model 3 with 310 miles of range costs a hefty $59,500; the base model goes 220 miles (322 km) on a charge.

Limits on the $7,500 U.S. tax credit for electric cars could also hurt demand. Once an automaker sells 200,000 electric cars in the U.S., the credit phases out. Tesla has sold more than 126,000 vehicles since 2008, according to estimates by WardsAuto, so not everyone who buys a Model 3 will be eligible.

“There are more reasons to think that it won’t be successful than it will,” says Karl Brauer, the executive publisher for Cox Automotive, which owns Autotrader and other car buying sites.

Always part of Tesla plans

The Model 3 has long been part of Palo Alto, California-based Tesla’s plans. In 2006, three years after the company was founded, CEO Elon Musk said Tesla would eventually build “affordably priced family cars” after establishing itself with high-end vehicles like the Model S, which starts at $69,500. This will be the first time many Tesla workers will be able to afford a Tesla.

“It was never our goal to make expensive cars. We wanted to make a car everyone could buy,” Musk said Friday. “If you’re trying to make a difference in the world, you also need to make cars people can afford.”

Tesla started taking reservations for the Model 3 in March 2016. Musk said more than 500,000 people have put down a $1,000 deposit for the car. People ordering a car now likely won’t get it until late 2018. Cars will go first to employees and customers on the West Coast; overseas deliveries start late next year, and right-hand drive versions come in 2019.

Challenges to deliver

But carmaking has proved a challenge to Musk. Both the Model S and the Model X SUV were delayed and then plagued with pesky problems, like doors that don’t work and blank screens in their high-tech dashboards.

Tesla’s luxury car owners might overlook those problems because they liked the thrill of being early adopters. But mainstream buyers will be less forgiving.

“This will be their primary vehicle, so they will have high expectations of quality and durability and expect everything to work every time,” said Sam Abuelsamid, a senior researcher with Navigant Research.

The Model 3 was designed to be much simpler and cheaper to make than Tesla’s previous vehicles. It has one dashboard screen, not two, and no fancy door handles. It’s made primarily of steel, not aluminum. It has no instrument panel; the speed limit and other information normally there can be found on the center screen. It doesn’t even have a key fob; drivers can open and lock the car with a smartphone or a credit cardlike key.

‘Manufacturing hell’

Still, Musk said he’s expecting “at least six months of manufacturing hell” as the Model 3 ramps up to full production. Musk wants to be making 20,000 Model 3s per month by December at the carmaker’s Fremont factory.

Musk aims to make 500,000 vehicles next year, a number that could help Tesla finally make money. The company has only had two profitable quarters since it went public in 2010. But even at that pace, Tesla will remain a small player. Toyota Motor Corp. made more than 10 million vehicles last year.

Abuelsamid said even if it doesn’t meet its ambitious targets, Tesla has done more than anyone to promote electric vehicles.

“A decade ago they were a little more than golf carts. Now all of a sudden, EVs are real, practical vehicles that can be used for anything,” he said.

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Researchers: Artificial Intelligence Can Help Fight Deforestation in Congo

A new technique using artificial intelligence to predict where deforestation is most likely to occur could help the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) preserve its shrinking rainforest and cut carbon emissions, researchers have said.

Congo’s rainforest, the world’s second-largest after the Amazon, is under pressure from farms, mines, logging and infrastructure development, scientists say.

Protecting forests is widely seen as one of the cheapest and most effective ways to reduce the emissions driving global warming.

But conservation efforts in DRC have suffered from a lack of precise data on which areas of the country’s vast territory are most at risk of losing their pristine vegetation, said Thomas Maschler, a researcher at the World Resources Institute (WRI).

“We don’t have fine-grain information on what is actually happening on the ground,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

To address the problem Maschler and other scientists at the Washington-based WRI used a computer algorithm based on machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence.

The computer was fed inputs, including satellite derived data, detailing how the landscape in a number of regions, accounting for almost a fifth of the country, had changed between 2000 and 2014.

The program was asked to use the information to analyze links between deforestation and the factors driving it, such as proximity to roads or settlements, and to produce a detailed map forecasting future losses.

Overall the application predicted that woods covering an area roughly the size of Luxembourg would be cut down by 2025 — releasing 205 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere.

The study improved on earlier predictions that could only forecast average deforestation levels in DRC over large swathes of land, said Maschler.

“Now, we can say: ‘actually the corridor along the road between these two villages is at risk’,” Maschler said by phone late on Thursday.

The analysis will allow conservation groups to better decide where to focus their efforts and help the government shape its land use and climate change policy, said scientist Elizabeth Goldman who co-authored the research.

The DRC has pledged to restore 3 million hectares (11,583 square miles) of forest to reduce carbon emissions under the 2015 Paris Agreement, she said.

But Goldman said the benefits of doing that would be outweighed by more than six times by simply cutting predicted forest losses by 10 percent.

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YouTube-inspired New Toys Aim to Wow Today’s Digitally Savvy Kids

For some youngsters, “unboxing” YouTube videos are all the rage. They involve a pair of hands – some small, some big with lacquered nails or others with hairy knuckles — unwrapping and playing with new toys.

The concept looks and feels mundane, but some of these videos have clocked hundreds of millions of views.

Now this YouTube sensation is influencing the toy industry.

‘Blind bag’ items

Toymakers are creating “blind bag” items, small inexpensive toys packaged in opaque plastic bags. Kids can’t see what they’re getting until the package is opened.

An antidote to digital childhoods, where every song or video is a click away? Maybe.

“Blind bags right now are huge. Kids love opening them, love the surprise factor,” Kelly Foley, marketing manager at Wicked Cool Toys, said.

These blind bag items as well as blind bag miniature collectible sets were on display in New York City recently, at the “Sweet Suite” toy event hosted by The Toy Insider, an online toy review guide.

Foley was showing off the “Little Sprouts” collection from Cabbage Patch Kids. The miniature figurines (more than 120 in all) come in “blind” cabbages, and are meant to be collected.

“They’re small, they’re able to be purchased with allowance money or money that kids earn, pocket change,” Jackie Breyer, editor-in-chief at The Toy Insider, said. A Little Sprouts blind cabbage retails for $2.99.

Influence on toy culture

YouTube’s influence on the toy culture can also be seen in another hot toy – the fidget spinner craze.

“They’re seeing their peers do really cool tricks and also they’re collecting,” Breyer said. “They want a full collection of these, they don’t just want one.”

Besides paying attention to YouTube, toymakers are moving quickly to speak the language of today’s digital natives with toys like the Elmoji, a robot that teaches children coding basics using emojis. It is made by Sesame Street and WowWee.

“It’s a visual language that kids get intuitively, and we want to have them solve problems using emojis because they’re comfortable with them,” Natalie Wight, art director at WowWee, said.

The Lego Boost teaches basic coding principles to kids as young as 7.

But it’s not all work and no play.

“You can build a robot and make him do things like turn and hit a target,” Amanda Madore, senior brand relations manager at LEGO, said. “Or pull his finger and make him pass gas, which kids love.”

Now that might get some views on YouTube.

After all, tech trends may come and go, but kids will still be kids.

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US Economic Growth Accelerates, Hits 2.6 Percent

U.S. economic growth accelerated in April, May, and June, expanding at a 2.6 percent annual rate, says a new report by the Commerce Department.

The gross domestic product data, published Friday, says consumer and business spending helped boost growth.  IHS Markit economist Sara Johnson says U.S. growth was also helped by an accelerating global economy that improved American trade.  

The GDP counts up all the goods and services produced in the nation, and is considered the broadest assessment of economic health. This report is based on preliminary data, and could be revised as more complete information becomes available. Such an adjustment was made in the GDP growth for January, February, and March, which showed growth back then was even slower than first thought.  

U.S. President Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to boost economic growth to 3 percent or higher by cutting regulations, taxes, and a major health care program while boosting spending on infrastructure. While he has cut some regulations, much of the rest of the Republican president’s economic agenda is stalled in Congress, even though both houses are controlled by his fellow Republicans.

A separate study by the University of Michigan says consumer sentiment declined in July, but remains at a “favorable” level.  Economists track consumer attitudes closely because consumer demand drives most U.S. economic activity. 

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Japan Imposes Stiff Tariffs on Imported US Frozen Beef

Japan says tariffs on U.S. imports of frozen beef will rise to 50 percent next month, from the current 38.5 percent.

“The tariff will take effect automatically as the volume of the imported U.S. frozen beef exceeded the quota set by law,” Finance Minister Taro Aso said Friday.

Under World Trade Organization rules, Japan can impose safeguard tariffs when imports rise more than 17 percent, year-on-year in any given quarter.

Japan, known for its world-famous Kobe beef, prized by chefs around the world for its tenderness, flavor and marbled fat, uses tariffs and other measures to protect its farmers from competition.

Peter Seng, chief executive of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, said in a statement the 50 percent tariff has implications for U.S. beef exports that are “significant.”

Australia, however, which exports almost as much beef to Japan as the U.S., is not facing the emergency tariffs because it has a free trade agreement with Japan as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the TPP trade agreement shortly after taking office.

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More Cyber Attacks, More Job Security for Hackers

The surge in far-flung and destructive cyber attacks is not good for national security, but for an increasing number of hackers and researchers, it is great for job security.

The new reality is on display in Las Vegas this week at the annual Black Hat and Def Con security conferences, which now have a booming side business in recruiting.

“Hosting big parties has enabled us to meet more talent in the community, helping fill key positions and also retain great people,” said Jen Ellis, a vice president with cybersecurity firm Rapid7 Inc., which filled the hip Hakkasan nightclub Wednesday at one of the week’s most popular parties.

More tech, more jobs

Twenty or even 10 years ago, career options for technology tinkerers were mostly limited to security firms, handfuls of jobs inside mainstream companies, and in government agencies.

But as tech has taken over the world, the opportunities in the security field have exploded.

Whole industries that used to have little to do with technology now need protection, including automobiles, medical devices and the ever-expanding Internet of Things, from thermostats and fish tanks to home security devices.

More insurance companies now cover breaches, with premiums reduced for strong security practices. And lawyers are making sure that cloud providers are held responsible if a customer’s data is stolen from them and otherwise pushing to hold tech companies liable for problems, meaning they need security experts too.

1.8 million skilled workers needed

The nonprofit Center for Cyber Safety and Education last month predicted a global shortage of 1.8 million skilled security workers in 2022. The group, which credentials security professionals, said that a third of hiring managers plan to boost their security teams by at least 15 percent.

For hackers who prefer to pick things apart rather than stand guard over them, an enormous number of companies now offer “bug bounties,” or formal rewards, for warnings about vulnerabilities that leave them exposed to criminals or spies.

​New ways to make money

One of the outside firms that handle such programs, HackerOne, said it has paid out $18.8 million since 2014 to fix 50,140 bugs, with about half of that work done in the past year.

Mark Litchfield made it into the firm’s “Hacker Hall of Fame” last year by being the first to pull in more than $500,000 in bounties through the platform, well more than he earned at his last full-time security job, at consulting firm NCC Group.

In the old days, “The only payout was publicity, free press,” Litchfield said. “That was the payoff then. The payoff now is literally to be paid in dollars.”

There are other emerging ways to make money too. Justine Bone’s medical hacking firm, MedSec, took the unprecedented step last year of openly teaming with an investor who was selling shares short, betting that they would lose value.

It was acrimonious, but St Jude Medical ultimately fixed its pacemaker monitors, which could have been hacked, and Bone predicted others will try the same path.

“Us cyber security nerds have spent most of our careers trying to make the world a better place by engaging with companies, finding bugs which companies may or may not repair,” Bone said.

“If we can take our expertise out to customers, media, regulators, nonprofits and think tanks and out to the financial sector, the investors and analysts, we start to help companies understand in terms of their external environment.”

Chris Wysopal, co-founder of code auditor Veracode, bought in April by CA Technologies, said that he was initially skeptical of the MedSec approach but came around to it, in part because it worked. He appeared at Black Hat with Bone.

“Many have written that the software and hardware market is dysfunctional, a lemon market, because buyers don’t know how insecure the products they purchase are,” Wysopal said in an interview. “I’d like to see someone fixing this broken market. Profiting off of that fix seems like the best approach for a capitalism-based economy.”

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Lawmakers: Ross Defers to Trump on US Steel Tariff Timing

U.S. lawmakers said on Thursday that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told them he will defer to President Donald Trump on the timing of a decision on new steel import curbs, likely meaning further delays and deliberations on the issue.

Members of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee attending a briefing with Ross said he did not specify a timetable for releasing a long-awaited report that will lay out options for shielding the steel industry from imports on national security grounds.

Ross had originally hoped to release the steel “Section 232” report at the end of June but the timing has slipped amid disagreements among White House aides over the merits of restricting imports that could hurt steel consuming industries.

A House Democratic aide who attended the briefing said Ross repeated President Donald Trump’s comments in a Wall Street Journal interview this week that the decision on potential steel tariffs would take more time and could come after congressional debates on health care, tax reform and infrastructure spending.

“I can only follow my leader,” the aide said Ross told the briefing.

The Commerce secretary also told lawmakers the issue had a lot of complexities and that he was considering the interests of both steel makers and steel users and concerned about potential trade retaliation against U.S. agricultural products. The lawmakers said Ross told them he was taking a similar approach to a parallel national security probe into aluminum imports.

“I think it’s a good sign that they’re actually slowing down and taking a long look, not trying to mix this in with these other issues that have to be lifted,” said Republican Representative Jackie Walorski.

“I think that Secretary Ross is committed to making sure that we’re doing no harm, that we’re getting this right. I need it to be right when it comes to aluminum,” Walorski said, adding that the recreational vehicle industry in her northern Indiana district does not want to higher aluminum prices due tariffs.

Representative Judy Chu, a California Democrat, said Ross told the lawmakers that the Trump administration also wanted to pursue negotiations with other steel-producing countries to address the problem of excess capacity that was causing a flood of dumped imports.

But Ross and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last week failed to secure commitments from their Chinese counterparts to make specific commitments to cut steel production capacity.

China, which produces half the world’s steel, is widely viewed as the source of much of the metal’s excess production.

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