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Dow Rallies 370 Points on Easing US-China Trade Fears

U.S. stocks surged on Thursday on expectations of a de-escalation in trade tensions after Washington and Beijing agreed to hold high-level talks next month, while strong U.S. economic data eased fears of a domestic slowdown.

After anxiety about a deepening trade war triggered a sell-off in late July and early August, leading to speculation that a decade-long bull market was ending, the S&P 500 has largely recovered and is now less than 2% short of its July 26 record high close. The benchmark index has climbed 2.4% in the past two sessions.

China and the United States agreed to hold talks in early October in Washington, boosting markets as investors bet on a thaw in the trade war between the world’s two largest economies, which has taken a toll on global growth.

Alternating signs of improvement and deterioration in the U.S.-China trade war, often based on tweets and comments from Trump, have repeatedly sparked volatility on Wall Street in recent months.

“Whether the talks occur or not, we’ll see. And whether they are productive, we’re skeptical. But the market loves it,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York.

The S&P information technology index rose 2.1%, while financials jumped 1.9%, the two rising the most among the 11 major S&P 500 sectors.... Read More Newsmax

Brazil's burning ban takes effect as Amazon fires rage

Brazil's burning ban takes effect as Amazon fires rage

Porto Velho (Brazil) (AFP) - A 60-day ban on burning in Brazil took effect Thursday after a global outcry over fires raging in the Amazon and data showing hundreds of new blazes in the rainforest.

The decree issued by President Jair Bolsonaro comes after escalating international pressure over the worst fires in the Amazon in years, which have ignited a diplomatic spat between Brazil and Europe.
But activists quickly doused hopes that the ban would work.

“The people who burn without a license are not going to obey,” said Rodrigo Junqueira of the Socio-Environmental Institute.

Thousands of troops and firefighters have been deployed since the weekend to combat the fires, along with two C-130 Hercules and other aircraft that are dumping water over affected areas in the country’s north.

Police on Thursday arrested three people for burning more than 5,000 hectares (12,350 acres) in a conservation area in Para state.

More than 1,600 new fires were ignited between Tuesday and Wednesday, taking this year’s total to almost 85,000 – the highest number since 2010, official data shows. Around half of them are in the vast Amazon basin.

Bolsonaro however claimed in a live broadcast on Facebook that “this year’s fires are below the average of recent years.”

UN chief Antonio Guterres on Thursday mooted a meeting of key countries to drum up support to tackle the fires that have also devastated swaths of Bolivia.

“We are strongly appealing for the mobilization of resources and we have been in contact with countries to see whether, during the high-level session of the General Assembly, there could be a meeting devoted to the mobilization of support to the Amazon,” Guterres told reporters.

Brazil’s foreign ministry said it was not aware of the proposal.

It urged “foreign authorities” to learn more about the country’s environmental policies, the situation in the Amazon and measures taken to combat the fires “before proposing new initiatives.”

- Ban ‘not useful’ -

International offers of help for combating the fires is a hot-button issue in Brazil, with Bolsonaro and others insisting on the country’s sovereign rights over the Amazon.

Bolsonaro on Wednesday accused France and Germany of “buying” Brazil’s sovereignty after the G7 offered $20 million in Amazon fire aid.

Vice President Hamilton Mourao – widely considered a moderate voice in Bolsonaro’s government – also weighed in publicly for the first time on Wednesday, insisting in an opinion piece that “our Amazon will continue to be Brazilian.”

The governors of several states in the Amazon told Bolsonaro in a meeting on Tuesday that international help was needed.

Their plea came after Norway and Germany halted around $70 million in Amazon protection subsidies earlier this month.

The United States is ready to help Brazil fight forest fires in the Amazon, President Donald Trump said Wednesday, criticizing the G7 for failing to consult Bolsonaro over its initiative.

A water-bombing plane financed by G7 money has taken off from Paraguay to help fight fires in the Amazon, in coordination with Chile, the French president said Thursday.

Bolsonaro also renewed a demand Wednesday that French leader Emmanuel Macron withdraw “insults” against him, fueling a war of words between the two men that threatens to torpedo a huge trade deal between the European Union and South American countries, including Brazil.

In the escalating row, Macron has accused Bolsonaro of lying to him about Brazil’s climate change stance, while Bolsonaro has slammed Macron as having a colonialist mentality.

“I think Bolsonaro is causing enormous harm to the Brazilian people, a little out of evil and a little out of ignorance,” former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva told the BBC from jail where he is serving almost nine years for corruption...READ MORE AFP

US Open best chance to unseat 'Big Three', says Djokovic

New York (AFP) - Defending champion Novak Djokovic said the timing of the US Open makes it the most unpredictable of the Grand Slams as the Serb made a promising start in his quest for a fourth title in New York.

The world number one, who has won four of the past five majors, brushed past Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 in the opening round Monday.

He is attempting to become the first back-to-back men’s US Open winner since Roger Federer lifted the trophy five years running from 2004 to 2008.

Djokovic, Federer and Rafael Nadal have combined to capture 11 successive and 54 of the last 65 Grand Slams, although success at Flushing Meadows has proved more accessible to those outside the “Big Three” than any other event.

Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Marin Cilic, Juan Martin del Potro and Andy Roddick have all triumphed in New York, whereas only six titles have eluded tennis’ most successful trio elsewhere dating back to Federer’s 2003 Wimbledon victory.

“Well, maybe what I would point out is this Grand Slam is the last Grand Slam of the year. So some players maybe might have been more exhausted, less freshness in the legs, so to say, than is the case, for example, in Australia is the beginning of the season,” said Djokovic.

“Because it’s a long season, it’s a lot of surfaces that you have to change and it takes a toll on your body.

“So maybe that’s the case why this tournament has provided some different names from the big three, big four that have won the major title.

“Nevertheless, Del Potro and Cilic are not the outsiders, so to say. They have been in top of the men’s game, played finals of other slams. They deservedly won this title at least once.”

- ‘In the moment’ -

Djokovic famously saved two Federer match points to claim a fourth Wimbledon title in July, his 16th Grand Slam success.

Reflecting on that dramatic finale, Djokovic said the key to his remarkable recovery was to live “in the moment” in what amounted to a fight-or-flight situation.

“I think regardless whether you’re an athlete or not, I think we all, as human beings, when we face this kind of adversity or major significant moment in our life, it seems like we’re going to fail at something that we work so hard at trying to do,” he said.

“Most common reaction is to kind of stress out and just to be kind of unable to get the best out of yourself, in a way. So I just try to, as cliche as it sounds, and as simple as it sounds, I just try to be in the moment.

“I understand that I can’t affect anything that is happening off the court or what has happened that got me to that point of being one shot away from losing a match.

“But I think also the more often that it happens, the more experience you have in knowing how to handle it every next time that you’re in that position.”

Credit: AFP

Fitch, S&P downgrade Argentina's credit rating on rising uncertainty

Buenos Aires (AFP) - Argentina’s peso ended a tumultuous week Friday having shed 20 percent in its value against the US dollar as both Fitch and S&P cut the South American country’s long-term credit rating, citing increased uncertainty and a rising risk of default.

The peso gained 2.75 percent to trade at 58.12 to the dollar on Friday, after several days of freefall were halted Thursday following a joint appeal for calm by President Mauricio Macri and his center-left rival Alberto Fernandez.

But the outlook remains uncertain after markets went into turmoil following Macri’s crushing defeat by the populist Fernandez in nationwide primary polls on Sunday.

“The Argentine peso has stabilized over the past few trading days but the collapse earlier this week has made a sovereign debt default highly likely,” said analysts Capital Economics in a note.

Ratings agency Fitch downgraded the crisis-hit government’s credit rating two notches to “CCC” from “B.” Standard & Poor’s dropped it a single grade from “B” to “B-.”

“The pronounced turbulence of the financial market, with a significant depreciation of the Argentine peso and a rise in interest rates… has significantly weakened the already vulnerable financial profile,” added S&P.

“The downgrade of Argentina’s ratings reflects elevated policy uncertainty… a severe tightening of financing conditions and an expected deterioration in the macroeconomic environment that increase the likelihood of a sovereign default or restructuring of some kind,” Fitch said in its announcement.
Read More: AFP

Superhero Movies You Never Got To See

Superhero Movies You Never Got To See

Superhero Movies You Never Got To See It's kind of hard to get your head around today, but there was a time when the idea of a big-budget superhero movie raking in the big bucks at the box office was downright laughable in the minds of Hollywood executives. Successes like Richard Donner's 1978 classic Superman: The Movie and Tim Burton's landmark 1989 flick Batman were pretty much seen as flukes; comic books were for kids, the logic went, so big-screen adaptations were a gamble at best.

But before Marvel Studios was formed and promptly bet every last one of their chips on a shared universe involving what were then C-list characters, there were a few brave souls who tried to buck the prevailing logic and bring the colorful figures of their childhoods to the screen. Even after 2000's X-Men and 2002's Spider-Man established the blueprint for the modern superhero genre, some struggled to work from that blueprint, and comic book-based movies experienced a ton of growing pains in trying to figure out exactly what the genre could be, and what kind of stories could be told.

Here are the projects that talented filmmakers — and, well, some not-so-talented — tried and failed to get off the ground well before superhero cinema came to dominate pop culture. These are the early attempts at mining properties that may be seen as guaranteed moneymakers today, but were viewed as mere kid stuff not so very long ago.


Wonder Woman starring Sandra Bullock:

There's a long history of attempts to tell the story of Princess Diana of Themiscyra on the big screen, but until 2017, they had always failed to launch. The reason for this can probably be summed up in two words: Lynda Carter.

Sam Raimi's Thor:

Sam Raimi's Spider-Man series may look a little quaint by today's standards, but when the first film dropped in 2002, it seemed like a minor miracle that somebody — anybody — had not only made a big-budget film featuring the wall-crawler, but a pretty damn good one.

John Singleton's Luke Cage starring Idris Elba:

The erstwhile Power Man wasn't the first black hero in comics, or even in Marvel lore (Black Panther and the Falcon both preceded him), but Luke Cage immediately earned a high profile by virtue of a colorful costume, a formidable power set, and an awesome catchphrase ("Sweet Christmas!").

Venom starring Topher Grace:

As well-received as Sam Raimi's first two Spider-Man films were, that is exactly how well-received 2007's Spider-Man 3… wasn't. While it had its moments — Thomas Haden Church's Sandman was a definite highlight — it also suffered from villain bloat, a convoluted script, and Emo Peter Parker.

Read More:

Federer stunned in straight sets by Rublev at Cincinnati

Federer stunned in straight sets by Rublev at Cincinnati

Cincinnati (AFP) - Roger Federer crashed to a third-round defeat in a first-time meeting with Andrey Rublev, who posted a 6-3, 6-4 upset on Thursday at the ATP Cincinnati Masters.

The seven-time Cincinnati champion, who turned 38 last week, was unable to make an impression as he played only his second match since losing the Wimbledon final to Novak Djokovic.

“I struggled on my serve early on. Got broken the first service games, and there you have it,” Federer said. “That sort of set the tone for the match maybe a little bit.

“But the combination was tough: he was playing well. I was maybe struggling especially on the offensive. I didn’t think I was feeling the ball badly, but sometimes can’t rely on that serve to the one-two punch.”

Rublev, a 21-year-old Russian qualifier who missed months last season with injury, was shell-shocked at his win over the 20-time Grand Slam champion.

“It’s an amazing feeling when you play such a legend as Roger,” he said. “At least 99 percent of the crowd was supporting him.

“Today I was just trying to do my best. I told myself I need to play every point to the end. No matter what the situation, I kept fighting.”

Third seed Federer went down to the world number 70 in barely an hour, losing for only the 10th time here after winning 47 matches.

“He was super clean,” Federer said. “Defense, offense, serving well. Didn’t give me anything. He was everywhere. So it was tough for me, but excellent match by him. I was impressed.”

The Swiss will now head into the US Open later this month with just two matches on hard courts under his belt.

Rublev earned his second top-five win in a month after beating Dominic Thiem in Hamburg on his way to the final.

Frenchman Richard Gasquet ousted Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (8⁄6), 6-3 while Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka reached his second quarter-final of the season by defeating Australia’s Alex de Minaur 7-5, 6-4.

The 77th-ranked Nishioka, who shocked compatriot Kei Nishikori on Wednesday, will next face either France’s Adrian Mannarino or Belgian 16th seed David Goffin for a place in the semi-finals.

Nishioka, 23, advanced in 82 minutes, never facing a break point while twice breaking the Australian’s serve.

- Barty eyes No. 1 return -

Women’s top seed Ashleigh Barty held off Anett Kontaveit as the Estonian served for victory before the top seed scraped a 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 triumph into the WTA event quarter-finals.

The win keeps the Australian in the chase for a possible return to the WTA number one ranking, which she lost to Naomi Osaka on the eve of this US Open build-up event.

Barty needs to reach Sunday’s final in order to regain the ranking summit.

“It was a little bit scrappy at times today but proud of the way we were able to fight and hang in there right until the end,” said the reigning Roland Garros champion.

“Ultimately that was the most important part about today was to try to hang in there as best that I can, fight right until the end and try and make a match of it... Read More

Lightof My Life Trailer: Casey Affleck Directs Himself in Post

Lightof My Life Trailer: Casey Affleck Directs Himself in Post

For his long-awaited followup to his controversial feature directorial debut, “I’m Still Here,” Casey Affleck picked a bit of a strange premise to tackle: a post-apocalyptic drama about a world without women. The actor and filmmaker settled two lawsuits in 2010 accusing him of sexual harassment and other forms of misconduct during the making of “I’m Still Here.” Despite the lawsuits being settled, Affleck has faced scrutiny over his behavior in the wake of the #MeToo and Time’s Up anti-harassment movements. 

When he debuted his latest film, “Light of My Life,” at the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year, he hit back at queries regarding its genesis. “It’s not. I wrote this movie and made this movie before all of those things became part of the conversation,” Affleck said at the film’s festival press conference about the film being a response to his personal history. “I hope people keep their minds open and be responsible and measured in their reactions. And people can talk for themselves. It’s not something I can control.” 

One thing to talk about in purely cinematic terms: Affleck’s apparent affection for other post-apocalyptic and survivalist dramas that hinge on the relationship between parent and child, like “The Road” and “Leave No Trace.” Both films appear to have influenced “Light of My Life,” which follows Affleck as a father attempting to hide his daughter after a plague kills the rest of the world’s female population.

Per the film’s (relatively obtuse) synopsis: “Parent and child journey through the outskirts of society a decade after a pandemic has wiped out half the world’s population. As a father struggles to protect his child, their bond, and the character of humanity, is tested.” The film also stars Tom Bower and Elisabeth Moss, who appears in flashbacks as Affleck’s character’s wife.

Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw

Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw

Ever since hulking lawman Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), a loyal agent of America's Diplomatic Security Service, and lawless outcast Shaw (Jason Statham), a former British military elite operative, first faced off in 2015's Furious 7, the duo have swapped smack talk and body blows as they've tried to take each other down. But when cyber-genetically enhanced anarchist Brixton (Idris Elba) gains control of an insidious bio-threat that could alter humanity forever--and bests a brilliant and fearless rogue MI6 agent (The Crown's Vanessa Kirby), who just happens to be Shaw's sister--these two sworn enemies will have to partner up to bring down the only guy who might be badder than themselves. 

Rating: PG-13 (for prolonged sequences of action and violence, suggestive material and some strong language)
Genre: Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense
Directed By: David Leitch
Written By: Chris Morgan
In Theaters: Aug 2, 2019 Wide Studio: Universal Pictures


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