TPM World News

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s administration is planning to impose tariffs on European steel and aluminum imports after failing to win concessions from the European Union, a move that could provoke retaliatory tariffs and inflame trans-Atlantic trade tensions.

U.S. and European officials held last-ditch talks in Paris on Thursday to try to avert a deal, though hopes are low and fears of a trade war are mounting.

“Global trade is not a gunfight at the OK Corral,” France’s finance minister quipped after meeting U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “It’s not about who attacks whom, and then wait and see who is still standing at the end.”

The tariffs are likely to go into effect on the EU with an announcement before Friday’s deadline, according to two people familiar with the discussions. The administration’s plans could change if the two sides are able to reach a last-minute agreement, said the people, who spoke only on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Ross told Le Figaro newspaper that the announcement would come Thursday, likely after markets close.

Trump announced in March that the United States would slap a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum, citing national security interests. But he granted an exemption to the EU and other U.S. allies; that reprieve expires Friday.

“Realistically, I do not think we can hope” to avoid either U.S. tariffs or quotas on steel and aluminum, said Cecilia Malmstrom, the European Union’s trade commissioner.

Even if the U.S. were to agree to waive the tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, Malmstrom said, “I expect them nonetheless to want to impose some sort of cap on EU exports.”

Malmstrom is meeting U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Paris on Thursday among other international trade chiefs.

If the U.S. moves forward with its tariffs, the EU has threatened to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. orange juice, peanut butter and other goods in return.

Fears of a global trade war are already weighing on investor confidence and could hinder the global economic upturn. European officials argue that tit-for-tat tariffs will hurt growth on both sides of the Atlantic.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called the U.S. tariffs “unjustified, unjustifiable and dangerous.”

“This will only lead to the victory of those who want less growth, those who don’t think we can develop our economies across the world. We think on the contrary that global trade must have rules in a context of multilateralism. We are ready to rebuild this multilateralism with our American friends.”

Tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to the U.S. can help local producers of the metals by making foreign products more expensive. But they can also increase costs more broadly for U.S. manufacturers who cannot source all their needs locally and have to import the materials. That hurts the companies and can lead to more expensive consumer prices, economists say.

“Unilateral responses and threats over trade war will solve nothing of the serious imbalances in world trade. Nothing,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in an impassioned speech Wednesday.

In a clear reference to Trump, Macron added: “These solutions might bring symbolic satisfaction in the short term. … One can think about making voters happy by saying, ‘I have a victory, I’ll change the rules, you’ll see.'”

But Macron said those “who waged bilateral trade wars … saw an increase in prices and an increase in unemployment.”

Besides the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, the Trump administration is also investigating possible limits on foreign cars in the name of national security.

Ross criticized the EU for its tough negotiating position. But German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier insisted the Europeans were ready to negotiate special trade arrangements, notably for liquefied natural gas and industrial goods, including cars.

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko turned up at a news conference in the Ukrainian capital Wednesday less than 24 hours after police reported he had been shot and killed at his Kiev apartment building. The country’s security services said Babchenko’s death was faked to foil a plot to take his life.

Ukrainian police said Tuesday that Babchenko, a strong critic of the Kremlin, was shot multiple times in the back Tuesday and found bleeding there by his wife. Authorities said they suspected he was killed because of his work.

Vasyl Gritsak, head of the Ukrainian Security Service, announced at a news conference Wednesday that the security agency and the police had solved Babchenko’s slaying. He then startled everyone there by inviting the 41-year-old reporter into the room.

To the applause and gasps of the press, Babchenko took the floor and apologized to the friends and family who mourned for him and were unaware of the plan.

“I’m still alive,” he said.

Before ushering Babchenko into the room, Gritsak said investigators had identified a Ukrainian citizen who had been recruited and paid $40,000 by the Russian security service to organize and carry out the killing. The unidentified Ukrainian man in turn hired an acquaintance who had fought in the separatist war in eastern Ukraine as the gunman.

Babchenko, one of Russia’s best-known war reporters, fled the country in February 2017 after receiving death threats. He spoke and wrote about leaving the country because of the threats against him and his family. He said his home address was published online and the threats he received were made by phone, email and social media.

Ilya Ponomarev, a former Russian lawmaker who also moved to Ukraine, said Wednesday that Babchenko continued being threatened after he settled last fall in Kiev, where he worked as a host for the Crimean Tatar TV station. Babchenko did not take the intimidation too seriously, according to Ponomarev.

Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and support for separatist insurgents in eastern Ukraine were topics on which the journalist was scathingly critical of the Kremlin.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration plans to shorten the length of validity for some visas issued to Chinese citizens, the State Department said Tuesday, as President Donald Trump works to counter alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property by Beijing.

The changes begin June 11. The State Department said that under the new policy, U.S. consular officers may limit how long visas are valid, rather than the usual practice of issuing them for the maximum possible length.

The State Department did not provide specifics. But a U.S. official said that according to instructions sent to U.S. embassies and consulates, Chinese graduate students will be limited to one-year visas if they are studying in fields like robotics, aviation and high-tech manufacturing. China identified those areas as priorities in its “Made in China” 2025 manufacturing plan.

The instructions also say that Chinese citizens seeking visas will need special clearance from multiple U.S. agencies if they work as researchers or managers for companies on a U.S. Commerce Department list of entities requiring higher scrutiny. Those clearances are expected to take months for each visa application, the official said. The official wasn’t authorized to comment publicly and requested anonymity.

The application process itself won’t change, the State Department said.

The changes come as Trump seeks to crack down on China’s trade practices, especially those related to cutting-edge industries that Beijing wants to dominate. On Tuesday, Trump renewed his threat to place 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods, in retaliation for what his administration says are China’s unfair trade practices.

The changes were foreshadowed in Trump’s national security strategy issued in December. That document said the U.S. would review and tighten visa procedures “to reduce economic theft by non-traditional intelligence collectors.” It specifically mentioned possible restrictions on visas for foreign students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

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JERUSALEM (AP) — Gaza militants fired more than 25 mortar shells toward communities in southern Israel Tuesday, the Israeli military said, in what appeared to be the largest single barrage fired since the 2014 Israel-Hamas war.

No one was hurt and the military said most of the mortar shells were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system, though one of the shells landed near a kindergarten shortly before it opened. The high volume of projectiles came as tensions have been running high along the Israel-Gaza border and a fierce Israeli response was expected.

“Israel will exact a heavy price from those who seek to harm it and we see Hamas as responsible for preventing such attacks,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said following the barrage.

The Islamic Jihad, a Gaza militant group, was believed to be behind the attacks with a green light from Hamas, the militant Islamic group that runs the Gaza Strip.

“We are sticking to the right of return as well as responding to the Zionist crimes,” said Khaled al-Batsh, an Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza.

Ismail Radwan, a Hamas official, said the barrage proved that the “resistance is capable of hurting the occupation and it proved this today by responding to its crimes.”

Radwan spoke as a boatful of students and medical patients set sail out of Gaza City’s port, aiming to break 11 years of naval blockade that Egypt and Israel imposed after the militants violently took control of the coastal territory.

The expedition would be a new way of challenging the blockade but also raises the possibility of more confrontation and violence as Israel bars any boats from Gaza reaching farther out than 6 miles into the Mediterranean Sea.

In southern Israel, angry residents complained about how vulnerable they felt after 15 years of rocket fire threats from neighboring Gaza, which will likely put pressure on the government to retaliate harshly.

Adva Klein, a resident of Kibbutz Kfar Aza, said she only got about two hours of sleep because of the frequent incoming fire and the sirens warning of them. Other residents reported machine gun fire from Gaza as well.

“It’s been a really scary morning,” said Adele Raemer, a resident of Kibbutz Nirim.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he was convening the top military brass at his Tel Aviv headquarters to discuss the situation.

The border area has been tense in recent weeks as the Palestinians have held mass protests aimed at lifting a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt after Hamas seized power in 2007.

Israeli fire has killed more than 110 Palestinians, most of them during the Hamas-led protests, which climaxed on May 14.

On Sunday, Israeli shelling killed three Palestinian militants from the smaller Islamic Jihad group after the troops found a bomb planted along the border. The Islamic Jihad vowed retaliation.

On Monday, a tank fired at a Hamas position in the Gaza Strip, killing one man and wounding another, after Israeli troops came under fire on the frontier while apprehending two armed Palestinians.

Hamas has vowed to continue the border rallies. Israel says it is defending its border as well as its communities nearby. It accuses Hamas of trying to carry out attacks under the cover of protests.

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Diplomacy accelerated Tuesday ahead of a potential summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a team of American diplomats involved in preparatory discussions left a Seoul hotel, possibly to continue talks with their North Korean counterparts.

Meanwhile, in Beijing, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol planned to head to the United States, potentially for more talks to set up the summit over the future of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. He would be the most senior North Korean official to visit the United States in 18 years.

It’s possible the trip could be a reciprocal visit after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, twice in recent weeks for meetings with Kim Jong Un, after which he said there was a “shared understanding” between the two sides about what they hope to achieve in the summit. It remains unclear whom Kim Yong Chol would meet in the United States if he goes.

South Korean media also reported that a North Korean delegation arrived in Singapore on Monday night for likely summit preparations with U.S. officials. Seoul did not confirm reports that the North Korean officials were headed by Kim Chang Son, Kim Jong Un’s close associate, and that his American counterpart would likely be White House deputy chief of staff for operations Joe Hagin.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said Washington and Pyongyang were engaging in “working-level” talks to arrange the possible summit, but said it couldn’t confirm specifics. Ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk also did not say whether Seoul knew of any U.S. plans regarding Kim Yong Chol’s possible visit, such as whether he and Pompeo have plans to meet.

Yonhap said Kim Yong Chol’s name was on the passenger list for a flight Wednesday from Beijing to New York. It earlier reported that he was heading straight to Washington, but later said he changed his flight to New York. South Korean officials couldn’t immediately confirm the report. Kim was seen in the Beijing airport Tuesday by Associated Press Television.

Kim is a former military intelligence chief and now a vice chairman of the North Korean ruling party’s central committee tasked with inter-Korean relations. A visit to the United States would be the highest-level North Korean official visit since 2000, when late National Defense Commission First Vice Chairman Jo Myong Rok visited Washington, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said.

In South Korea, it wasn’t immediately clear whether the American officials, including Sung Kim, the U.S. ambassador to Manila, were heading to the Korean village of Panmunjom, which straddles the border inside the Demilitarized Zone, where they met with North Korean officials on Sunday. Sung Kim is a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea and was a top negotiator with North Korea in past nuclear talks.

Trump withdrew from a planned June 12 summit with Kim Jong Un last Thursday, citing hostile North Korean comments, but has since said the meeting in Singapore could still happen. South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has lobbied hard for nuclear negotiations between Trump and Kim, met with the North Korean leader in a surprise meeting on Saturday in an effort to keep the summit alive.

In their second meeting in a month, Moon said Kim expressed willingness to cooperate to end confrontation and work toward peace for the sake of a successful summit with Trump. But Kim also said he was unsure whether he could trust the United States over its promise to end hostile policies against North Korea and provide security assurances if the country does abandon its nuclear weapons, according to Moon.

At their first meeting on April 27, Kim and Moon announced vague aspirations for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and permanent peace, which Seoul has tried to sell as a meaningful breakthrough that increases the chances of successful talks between Kim and Trump.

Their second meeting came after inter-Korean relations had chilled in recent weeks, with North Korea canceling a high-level meeting with Seoul over South Korea’s participation in a two-week military exercise with the United States that ended last week. The Koreas have agreed to put high-level discussions back on track with a meeting on Friday. But that did not stop North Korea’s state media from continuing its criticism of allied military exercises on Tuesday, saying if Washington “sincerely hopes for the talks, it should stop the acts of threatening its dialogue partner by force.”

Since the 1970s, the United States and South Korea have been holding a major summertime exercise called Ulchi Freedom Guardian that involves tens of thousands of troops. South Korea’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday there have been no discussions yet between Washington and Seoul on modifying the drills, which usually take place in August.

Despite Kim’s apparent eagerness for a summit with Trump, there are lingering doubts about whether he will fully relinquish his nuclear weapons, which he may see as his only guarantee of survival. Moon has insisted Kim can be persuaded to abandon his nuclear facilities, materials and bombs in a verifiable and irreversible way in exchange for credible security and economic guarantees.

U.S. and South Korean officials haven’t confirmed the details of the pre-summit negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang at the border.

The officials may discuss bridging the gap between the two sides on what a deal on the North’s nuclear weapons would look like. There’s also speculation that American officials are trying to persuade the North Koreans to export a certain number of their nuclear warheads overseas at an early stage as proof of their commitment to denuclearize.

U.S. officials have talked about a comprehensive one-shot deal in which North Korea eliminates its nukes first and receives rewards later. But Kim, through two summits with Chinese President Xi Jinping in March and May, has called for a phased and synchronized process in which every action he takes is met with a reciprocal reward from the United States.

Seoul has been advocating an alternative approach in which the North’s comprehensive commitment and credible actions toward denuclearization are followed by a phased but compressed process of inspection and verifiable dismantling. Before he canceled the summit, Trump did not rule out an incremental approach that would provide incentives along the way to the North.

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A U.S. team was in North Korea to plan a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to President Donald Trump, raising expectations that the on-off-on meeting would indeed take place.

Both the State Department and South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said the American and North Korean officials have been engaged in talks at the Korean village of Panmunjom, which straddles the border inside the Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ. One can cross the border simply by stepping across a painted line, but moving beyond several footsteps into the North at Panmunjom would be rare for U.S. officials.

Trump withdrew from a planned June 12 Singapore summit with Kim last Thursday, but quickly announced it could still happen. His tweet Sunday afternoon, which offered praise for the longtime U.S. adversary, was the latest signal that his concerns about the North’s stance toward the summit had been allayed.

“Our United States team has arrived in North Korea to make arrangements for the Summit between Kim Jong Un and myself,” he tweeted Sunday. “I truly believe North Korea has brilliant potential and will be a great economic and financial Nation one day. Kim Jong Un agrees with me on this. It will happen!”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in gave details about his surprise meeting Saturday with Kim in Panmunjom, saying Kim had committed to sitting down with Trump and to a “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tapped veteran American diplomat Sung Kim, the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, to handle pre-summit negotiations. On a separate but complementary track was the CIA team Pompeo set up last year when he headed the spy agency. And on a third track was a White House logistical group sent to Singapore on Sunday to prepare in case the summit takes place. It was led by Joe Hagin, White House deputy chief of staff for operations.

The Korean leaders’ second summit in a month saw bear hugs and broad smiles. But their quickly arranged meeting appeared to highlight a sense of urgency on both sides of the world’s most heavily armed border.

The talks, which Moon said Kim Jong Un requested, capped a whirlwind 24 hours of diplomatic back and forth. They allowed Moon to push for a U.S.-North Korean summit that he sees as the best way to ease animosity that had some fearing a war last year.

Kim may see a meeting with Trump as necessary to easing pressure from crushing sanctions and to winning security assurances in a region surrounded by enemies.

Moon told reporters that Kim said he’s willing to cooperate to end confrontation and work toward peace for the sake of the successful summit with Trump.

Moon said he told Kim that Trump has a “firm resolve” to end hostile relations with North Korea and initiate economic cooperation if Kim implements “complete denuclearization.”

“What Kim is unclear about is that he has concerns about whether his country can surely trust the United States over its promise to end hostile relations (with North Korea) and provide a security guarantee if they do denuclearization,” Moon said.

“During the South Korea-U.S. summit, President Trump said the U.S. is willing to clearly put an end to hostile relations (between the U.S. and North Korea) and help (the North) achieve economic prosperity if North Korea conducts denuclearization,” he said.

Kim, in a dispatch issued by the North’s state-run news service earlier Sunday, “expressed his fixed will on the historic (North Korea)-U.S. summit talks.” During Saturday’s inter-Korean summit, the Korean leaders agreed to “positively cooperate with each other as ever to improve (North Korea)-U.S. relations and establish (a) mechanism for permanent and durable peace.”

They agreed to have their top officials meet again June 1. Moon said military generals and Red Cross officials from the Koreas will also meet separately to discuss how to ease military tensions and resume reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

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SHANGHAI (AP) — Ivanka Trump’s brand continues to win foreign trademarks in China and the Philippines, adding to questions about conflicts of interest at the White House, The Associated Press has found.

On Sunday, China granted the First Daughter’s company final approval for its 13th trademark in the last three months, trademark office records show. Over the same period, the Chinese government has granted Ivanka Trump’s company provisional approval for another eight trademarks, which can be finalized if no objections are raised during a three-month comment period.

Taken together, the trademarks could allow her brand to market a lifetime’s worth of products in China, from baby blankets to coffins, and a host of things in between, including perfume, make-up, bowls, mirrors, furniture, books, coffee, chocolate and honey. Ivanka Trump stepped back from management of her brand and placed its assets in a family-run trust, but she continues to profit from the business.

Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said on Twitter that the recent approvals create “more conflicts of interest and more potential for using the White House for self-enrichment.” His government watchdog group was behind one of several lawsuits against President Donald Trump for violations of the emoluments clause of the constitution, which bars officials from accepting gifts from foreign states unless they are approved by Congress.

As Ivanka Trump and her father have built their global brands, largely through licensing deals, they have pursued trademarks in dozens of countries. Those global trademarks have drawn the attention of ethics lawyers because they are granted by foreign governments and can confer enormous value. Concerns about political influence have been especially sharp in China, where the courts and bureaucracy are designed to reflect the will of the ruling Communist Party.

Chinese officials have emphasized that all trademark applications are handled in accordance with the law.

More approvals are likely to come. Online records from China’s trademark office indicate that Ivanka Trump’s company last applied for trademarks — 17 of them — on Mar. 28, 2017, the day before she took on a formal role at the White House. Those records on Monday showed at least 25 Ivanka Trump trademarks pending review, 36 active marks and eight with provisional approval.

The World Intellectual Property Organization’s global brand database also shows that her company, Ivanka Trump Marks LLC, won three trademarks in the Philippines after her father took office. Two of them cover clothing, including lingerie and baby clothes, were filed on Feb. 8, 2017 and registered in June and November. The third, filed on Mar. 1, 2017, covers clothing and footwear and was registered in July.

Companies register for trademarks for a variety of reasons. They can be a sign of corporate ambition, but in many countries, like China, where trademark squatting is rampant, companies also file defensively, to block copycats from grabbing legal rights to a brand’s name. Trademarks are classified by category and may include items that a company does not intend to market. Some trademark lawyers also advise clients to register trademarks for merchandise that is manufactured in China, even if it’s not sold there.

Ivanka Trump does not have a large retail presence in China, but customs records show that the bulk of her company’s U.S. imports are shipped from China.

The brand’s secretive Chinese supply chains have been the subject of some controversy. A year ago Monday, three men working for China Labor Watch, a New York-based non-profit, were arrested while investigating labor abuses at Ivanka Trump suppliers in China. After thirty days in detention, they were released on bail, but continue to live under police surveillance.

Li Qiang, the group’s founder, said Monday that he hopes bail will be lifted soon and that the case will not go to trial.

Police in Ganzhou, the southeastern Chinese city where the men were detained, could not be reached for comment. The Chinese law firm that handles Ivanka Trump’s intellectual property in China also did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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LONDON (AP) — Lars Andersen’s business handles some of the most sensitive data there is — the names and phone numbers of children.

The owner of London-based My Nametags, which makes personalized nametags to iron into children’s clothing, says protecting that information is fundamental to his business, which operates in 130 countries.

But starting Friday, My Nametags and most other companies that collect or process the personal information of EU residents must take a number of extra precautions to comply with the new General Data Protection Regulation, which the EU calls the most sweeping change in data protection rules in a generation.

While the legislation has been applauded for tackling the thorny question of personal data privacy, the rollout is also causing confusion. Companies are trying to understand what level of protection different data needs, whether this could force them to change the way they do business and innovate, and how to manage the EU’s 28 national data regulators, who enforce the law.

“Once you try to codify the spirit (of the law) — then you get unintended consequences,” Andersen said. “There’s been a challenge for us: What actually do I have to do? There are a million sort of answers.”

That uncertainty, together with stiff penalties for violating the law, has convinced internet-based businesses such as Unroll.me, an inbox management firm, and gaming company Ragnarok Online to block EU users from their sites. Pottery Barn, an arm of San Francisco-based housewares retailer Williams-Sonoma Inc., said it would no longer ship to EU addresses. The Los Angeles Times newspaper said it was temporarily putting its website off limits in most EU countries.

The implementation of GDPR has also made data protection an issue in contract negotiations as firms argue about how to divvy up responsibility for any data breach.

“Deals are being held up by data protection,” said Phil Lee, a partner in privacy security and information at Fieldfisher, a law firm with offices in 18 EU cities. “If something goes wrong, what happens?”

EU countries themselves aren’t quite ready for the new rules. Less than half of the 28 member states have adopted national laws to implement GDPR, though the laggards are expected to do so in the next few weeks, according to WilmerHale, an international law firm.

As with most EU-wide regulations, enforcement of the new data protection rules falls to national authorities. While the EU stresses that the law applies to everyone, one of the big outstanding questions is whether regulators will go after any entity that breaks the law or simply focus on data giants like Google and Facebook.

Lawyers also say it isn’t yet clear how regulators will interpret the sometimes general language written into the law. For example, the law says processing of personal data must be “fair” and data should be held “no longer than necessary.”

“It’s time to put on your seatbelt and check your airbag,” said D. Reed Freeman Jr., a privacy and cybersecurity expert at WilmerHale. “It’s kind of like a lift-off with a rocket. It’s about to launch.”

Andersen of My Nametags said the law has already caused problems for his business.

He has been advised that the company website in the Netherlands has to be different from the one in the U.K. because the two countries are likely to apply the law differently, and has a dispute with a supplier over which of them is responsible for protecting certain data.

U.K. Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has tried to ease concerns, saying the most important thing is for companies to try their best to comply with the law and work with authorities to correct any problems.

“We pride ourselves on being a fair and proportionate regulator and this will continue under the GDPR,” Denham said in a blog post. “Those who self-report, who engage with us to resolve issues and who can demonstrate effective accountability arrangements can expect this to be taken into account when we consider any regulatory action.”

The new law comes at a time when advances in technology make data more valuable, and therefore raise the stakes in protecting it.

The ability to analyze everything from consumer purchases to medical records holds enormous potential, with suggestions that it will make us healthier, improve traffic flows and other good things for society. At the same time, it provides business with huge new opportunities for profit, with some experts putting the value of the global data economy at $3 trillion.

That potential is underscored by changes in the list of the world’s most valuable companies, which was once dominated by energy and industrial companies. Now Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook hold five of the six top spots.

“Data is the new soil,” said Adam Schlosser, the project lead for digital and trade flows at the World Economic Forum. “It serves as a foundational element for growth.”

But with that potential comes concern that data can be used for private gain, threatening personal privacy rights.

Allegations that political consultant Cambridge Analytica used data harvested from Facebook accounts to help Donald Trump with the 2016 presidential election offered a tangible example of the fears highlighted by privacy campaigners.

Andersen fears that “dodgy operators” will continue to flout the rules, but he hopes publicity around GDPR will help demonstrate that he takes data protection seriously — that he recognizes the information behind those nametags decorated with cupcakes, unicorns and smiley faces is something to be safeguarded.

“In terms of pieces of data that you don’t want to go astray, your children’s information is kind of the core of that,” Andersen said. “In a way, that’s why we as a company have been successful — (by) trying to treat our customers as parents in the way I would want to be treated as a parent.”

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea said Friday that it’s still willing to sit for talks with the United States “at any time, (in) any format,” a remarkably restrained and diplomatic response, from a nation noted for its proud belligerence, to U.S. President Donald Trump’s abrupt cancellation of a summit with the North’s autocratic leader, Kim Jong Un.

The statement by Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan, a longtime nuclear negotiator and senior diplomat, which said the North is “willing to give the U.S. time and opportunities” to reconsider talks that had been set for June 12 in Singapore, could be driven by a need to use the summit to ease crushing international sanctions, or by a determination that a summit with the mercurial Trump is the best opportunity the North will ever have to elevate itself, and its nuclear program, to equality with its archrival. One analyst marveled that the North Korean response was “close to an apology letter.”

Regardless of the motivation, Kim Kye Gwan’s statement is the latest whiplash development in efforts to diplomatically address what might be the world’s most dangerous standoff. Focus will now swing back to how Trump will respond to the North’s seemingly conciliatory gesture.

The stakes are high. A scrapping of diplomacy could see a return to the torrent of weapons tests — and the fears of war they created — that North Korea unleashed last year as it sought to put the finishing touches on a nuclear-armed missile program meant to target the entire U.S. mainland. Since January, Kim has taken a radically softer approach to foreign affairs, sending his sister to the Olympics in South Korea, meeting with his South Korean counterpart on their shared border and exploding parts of his nuclear testing site Thursday in an apparent sign of good faith. The Singapore summit would have been the culmination of this outreach.

Earlier comments by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, seen as a driving force behind the summit and just returned to Seoul from a meeting with Trump in Washington, suggested that the South, a top U.S. ally and host to 28,500 U.S. troops, was blindsided by Trump’s statement. Moon said he was “perplexed” at Trump’s announcement that he was canceling the summit because of what the U.S. president said was North Korea’s “tremendous anger and open hostility.” Moon urged direct talks between Trump and Kim to get things back on track.

Many observers had expected a belligerent North Korean response to Trump’s cancellation, but the comments by Kim, the North’s vice foreign minister, seemed, at times, almost meek, and in stark contrast to the bellicose declarations last year of the North’s willingness to pursue nuclear war.

Kim said Pyongyang’s “objective and resolve to do our best for the sake of peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and all humankind remain unchanged.” Kim said the cancellation of the talks shows “how grave the status of historically deep-rooted hostile North Korea-U.S. relations is and how urgently a summit should be realized to improve ties.”

“As far as the historic (North Korea)-U.S. summit is concerned, we have inwardly highly appreciated President Trump for having made the bold decision, which any other U.S. presidents dared not, and made efforts for such a crucial event as the summit,” Kim said. “His sudden and unilateral announcement to cancel the summit is something unexpected to us and we cannot but feel great regret for it.”

Kim speculated that Trump may have “lacked the will for the summit or he might not have felt confident,” but that the North has “exerted sincere efforts” for talks that “would mark a meaningful starting point for peace and security in the region and the world.”

Kim Dong-yub, a North Korea expert at Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies, said the North Korean response was notably “courteous, reserved and diplomatically refined,” which he said shows that Pyongyang is eager to talk with Washington and believes that the United States needs more time to prepare for the summit.

Trump’s cancellation of the summit came amid mounting skepticism about the North’s sincerity after the country’s earlier threats to scrap the Kim-Trump summit. That may have been aimed at bolstering its negotiating position, rather than killing the meeting.

“They wanted to face the United States in a more confident position. Obama or (Bill) Clinton could have accepted (these kinds of North Korean statements). But it’s Trump. He’s decided not to enter talks while being pushed (by North Korea) like this,” said Choi Kang, vice president of Seoul’s Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

Koh Yu-hwan, a professor at Seoul’s Dongguk University, said Kim’s statement was “close to an apology letter.”

The North might have also sensed an opening in Trump’s seemingly mixed messages.

“I really believe Kim Jong Un wants to do what’s right,” the U.S. president said at one point. Trump also said from the White House that a “maximum pressure campaign” of economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation would continue against North Korea — with which the U.S. is technically still at war — but he added that it was possible the summit could still take place at some point.

In his statement to the North, Trump said: “If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write.”

It was unclear whether Trump was engaged in what he saw as a negotiating ploy or if his moves were a manifestation of mounting internal concerns over ensuring a successful outcome for the summit.

While the statement may keep the possibility of a summit alive, there were also hints in North Korea’s response to Trump that Pyongyang was willing to walk away.

Kim said the United States is at fault for what Trump described as North Korea’s “hostility,” saying that Pyongyang was responding to “excessive” U.S. comments pressuring the country to “unilaterally discard” its nuclear weapons ahead of the summit. Trump’s move to cancel the summit has forced the North to “rethink whether the efforts we have so far put in and the new path we have taken is the right choice.”

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TORONTO (AP) — An explosion caused by an “improvised explosive device” ripped through an Indian restaurant in a mall in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, wounding 15 people, Canadian police said.

Peel Region Sergeant Matt Bertram said two suspects with their faces covered to conceal their identity entered the Bombay Bhel restaurant late Thursday, dropped some sort of IED device and fled.

“We have no indication to call it a hate crime or any kind of terrorism act,” Bertram said.

Peel Region paramedic Joe Korstanje said three people suffered critical injuries and were taken to the hospital while the remaining 12 victims suffered what he described as minor and superficial injuries. Police later updated the condition of the three critically injured patients to stable.

The explosion happened just after 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, and the plaza where the restaurant is located was still sealed off on Friday.

“Nothing was said by these individuals,” Bertram said. “It appears they just went in, dropped off this device, and took off right away.”

Bertram said they couldn’t say what the device was yet.

“Different callers called in and said it was firecrackers or some said gunshot sort of noises. I don’t think it was an explosion that was rocking anything,” he said. “Until we can get in there and analyze the material after the search warrant we won’t be able to say what it was.”

Andre Larrivee, who lives in a nearby condo, said he was watching television and heard a loud explosion.

“It was really loud,” he said, comparing the noise to an electric generator that had exploded at a nearby construction site recently.

Police asked for the public’s help and released a photo of the suspects, with dark hoodies pulled over their heads and their faces covered.

Peel region police, in a tweet, described the first suspect as in his mid-20s, 5-foot-10 to 6-feet with a stocky build, wearing dark blue jeans, a dark zip-up hoodie and a baseball cap with a light gray peak.

The second suspect is described as a little shorter with a thin build, wearing faded blue jeans, a dark zip-up hoodie pulled over his head, gray T-shirt and dark colored skate shoes.

Hours after the incident, the Indian consulate in Toronto tweeted it had opened a helpline for those seeking assistance following the explosion. Vikas Swarup, India’s High Commissioner to Canada, tweeted that India’s Consul General in Toronto visited the injured in the hospital. He also said that the three Indian-Canadians who were reported to be critically injured are stable.

The restaurant describes itself online as an authentic, yet casual, Indian dining experience. Police said the plaza would be sealed off all night.

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LiveWire