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Redemption is sweet for Takuma Sato

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For the past week, Takuma Sato has been a human punching bag after his involvement in a first lap crash last Sunday at Pocono Raceway. He was widely criticized by the other drivers involved in the crash, including Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Sato and his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team supported their driver and even released on-board video footage shot form Sato’s car that they believe showed the driver did not make an erratic move.

Still, Sato arrived at World Wide Technology Raceway as a driver in serious need of redemption. He found it in Saturday night’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500.

Sato led 97 laps of the 248-lap contest at the 1.25-mile short oval and claimed the fifth NTT IndyCar Series victory of his career.

Redemption is sweet for Sato.

“This win for the whole team effort, we can put it all behind,” Sato said. “Tonight’s champagne tasted so beautiful, but I have to thank everyone so much for their support.”

At one stage, Sato was a lap down, but the race played out perfectly for the driver from Tokyo to not only get his lap back, but race to the front.

“It’s been an incredible weekend,” Sato said. “Every race weekend is intense with a lot of pressure, but this one was a tough one after Pocono. I got support from a lot of people, actually. They changed their mind after seeing the evidence.

“My team’s support was incredible. I want to thank every single person on the team and all the fans that supported me, and the media, they showed what was a fact. It wasn’t easy, but we focused and built a fast car. We kept our head down and it was a very, very exciting show tonight.”

It was Sato’s first short oval victory of his career and the 42-year-old driver from Japan has now won on every type of track in the NTT IndyCar Series. His first win was on the streets in the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach in 2013 driving for AJ Foyt Racing. His second win came at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the 101stIndianapolis 500 in 2017 when he was racing for Andretti Autosport.

He won last year’s Portland Grand Prix on a permanent road course for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. This year, it’s the first time Sato has won two races in the same season. In April, he won the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park, another natural road course, and then claimed the short oval win at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway Saturday night.

Sato has collected the entire set.

“It’s a nice collection with a lot of great trophies and memories,” Sato said. “Before tonight, the best finish on a short oval for a driver from Japan was Hidecki Mutoh at Iowa when he finished second (to Dan Wheldon in 2008). We have now completed all types of course, but we have to keep winning of course.

“To get two races in the same season is a fantastic feeling. That was on my target list.”

Earlier in the race, the main players in last week’s crash at Pocono were racing side-by-side at Gateway with Sato and Hunter-Reay just inches apart and with Rossi close by.

This time, there was no incident, but it was certainly ironic.

“When Ryan and I went side-by-side we tried to give each other room,” Sato recalled. “Today was very close again. We raced fair, in a hard battle, and I had no problem with that.

“But I had a huge moment at the start when James Hinchcliffe and I touched at the start and I lost a lot of positions on that.”

But Sato was able to battle back.

When Sato went down one lap, he went to the back of the grid at the end of a caution and pitted one more time so that he could stretch his fuel and get the lap back. He was successful in that.

He was able to use the same strategy later in the race when he stretched his fuel again and went from 13 to first. He was also able to save fuel during the final caution that lasted from Laps 192 to 204.

“That, too, was a very important moment,” Sato said.

When the checked flag waved, there was Sato driving under the checkered flag and achieving redemption.

“Literally the definition of professional sports: hero maybe one minute, zero the next, hero again,” Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden said of Sato’s performance. “That’s just how it goes.

“Everyone thought Takuma was the worst thing on the planet of Earth leaving Pocono. Now it was like it wasn’t his fault. Now he’s probably a hero again. Next week he could be a loser one more time. No one knows.

“You live day by day in this sport. It’s every day you’re judged. A great day for him obviously. All these teams put in a lot of work. I’m sure it’s very gratifying for those guys. Really everyone in front of us did a great job. Santino had a great race. All these guys did a pretty nice job. I’m sure for Sato and his crew, they’re going to be pretty happy about it.

“I wish it was us. It’s hard not to feel happy for everybody because there’s a lot of work that goes into this paddock from all the teams.”

Here’s What Your Nightmares Really Mean

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Dreams are classified, according to experts, as “the stories the brain tells during sleep — a collection of clips, images, feelings, and memories that involuntarily occur during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of slumber.” While that sounds almost idyllic, we know that dreams are not always pleasant. Nightmares are also common for most people and, in some cases, can be recurring.

Fortunately, nightmares are fairly benign for the most part. In fact, some professionals believe they can even serve as a message. Below, we chatted with experts about recurring bad dreams and broke down everything you need to know about them. Read on to find out why they happen, what they might mean and when they could be a sign of something more serious.

Why You’re Having Nightmares (And What They Mean)

“A nightmare is connected to and trying to help you with an unpleasant situation in your life,” Lauri Loewenberg, a certified dream analyst in Apollo Beach, Florida, said. “A recurring nightmare would likely be caused by either an ongoing difficult issue that is yet to be resolved … or a recurring behavior pattern that leads to a recurring difficult issue.”

Most dreams aren’t literal, but some themes or symbols may come up that can help you decipher what your nightmare is trying to tell you, Loewenberg said.

“For example, if you keep getting yourself into relationships with toxic people, you are likely to have recurring nightmares about snakes,” she said. “Or if you have a recurring behavior pattern of avoiding confrontations or difficult problems rather than facing them, you are likely to get recurring dreams of being chased.”

Negative self-beliefs, such as “I’m not lovable,” “I’m worthless” or “I’m not good enough,” can also end up manifesting in your dreams, said Anthony Freire, an eye movement desensitization and reprocessing specialist and founder of The Soho Center for Mental Health Counseling in New York. “And the more we hold on to these negative beliefs about the self, the scarier or more nightmarish the dream becomes,” he said.

Another common cause of nightmares ― especially recurring ones ― is trauma. These “tend to not be symbolic in nature, but rather a replay of the traumatic event. These are typically post-traumatic stress nightmares,” Loewenberg said.

Recurring nightmares can also be caused by health issues or medications, but they’re usually less common.

How To Make Nightmares Stop

In order to rid yourself of even the worst recurring nightmares, be prepared to identify and address the root causes. “Processing the underlying reason behind the nightmares would likely make them dissipate,” Freire said.

Depending on how intense your nightmares are, you could try one or more of these techniques:

Journal

Consider writing in a journal about both your nightmares and your real-life experiences during the day, Tracy Vadakumchery, a practicing pre-licensed mental health counselor and cognitive behavioral specialist at The Feel Good Center in New York, recommended. Doing so may make it easier to connect the dots and locate closure, she said.

Rewrite The Dream

Writing can also be powerful if you’re specifically focusing on the content of your dream. Try changing the outcome of your nightmare when you’re awake, Loewenberg suggested. This is especially effective with nightmares that are a result of past trauma.

“When doing this technique, be sure to write down all the details of the nightmare you can remember,” Loewenberg said. “Then, when you get to the end or the most frightening part of the nightmare, rewrite it.”

Avoid Screens Before Bed

“Watching TV or movies before bed will likely just make you dream a different version of your unresolved emotional business by combining it with any vivid scenes from a movie,” Freire said, adding that you should allow yourself “a good hour before bed to not keep your brain hyperactive with screens.”

When To Get Professional Help

If addressing your recurring nightmares on your own doesn’t work, consider reaching out to a mental health professional.

“If the nightmares occur more than two times per week and/or are accompanied by severe distress and impairment in functioning, it is time to check in with a professional,” said Nicole M. Ward, a California-based licensed marriage and family therapist who specializes in trauma. “Impairments in function can include falling asleep at work, avoiding sleep and/or having frequent conflict within their personal or professional relationships.”

You should also think about seeing a therapist, Freire added, “if nightmares are keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep, and the accumulation of loss of sleep is causing other symptoms such as: fatigue, memory loss, anxiety, heart arrhythmias, etc.”

So don’t let bad dreams get in the way of good sleep.

Exclusive: Aramco Trading sells first U.S. West Texas Light crude to South Korea’s Hyundai – sources

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Aramco Trading Company (ATC) sold its first-ever cargo of U.S. West Texas Light (WTL) crude, with a South Korean refiner the buyer, as the Saudi Aramco unit expands its U.S. oil dealings to boost trade volumes, four people familiar with the matter said.

ATC is key to Saudi Aramco’s strategy as it expands its refining and petrochemical operations to boost global sales. The trading unit has been buying U.S. crude from Texas refinery Motiva [MOTIV.UL] to re-sell in Asia, the people said.

ATC has been shipping U.S. oil such as West Texas Intermediate (WTI) Midland crude, Eagle Ford condensate and sour grade Mars to refiners in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates since last year, they said.

It expanded that selection of U.S. crudes earlier this month, loading its first-ever 1 million-barrel cargo of WTL, the people said. The shipment is expected to arrive at Hyundai Oilbank’s [INPTVH.UL] refinery in Daesan in October, they said.

This was also Hyundai Oilbank’s first WTL crude purchase, two of the sources said.

The sources declined to be named as they were not authorized to speak to the media. Saudi Aramco and Motiva did not respond to a request for comment. Hyundai Oilbank declined to comment.

The shipment follows an agreement this year for Saudi Aramco to take a 17% stake in Hyundai Oilbank, South Korea’s smallest refiner by capacity. The firms also signed two 20-year contracts for Aramco and its trading arm to supply 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude from January 2020.

ATC was set up in 2012 initially to market refined products, base oils and bulk petrochemicals, but it has expanded into crude, competing with trading and international oil companies.

The company is using Motiva’s expertise in sourcing and pricing U.S. crude to expand its trade volume, the people said. Because of its experience as a refiner, Motiva is able to get good prices for U.S. oil, one person said.

In return, ATC buys Iraqi Basra crude for Motiva when the market is favorable, the people familiar with the matter said.

The United States has become the world’s biggest oil producer as shale oil discoveries have pushed its output above 12 million bpd, sending U.S. exports to a record above 3 million bpd since a crude oil export ban was lifted in 2015.

Over the past year, more of the output from the Permian Basin, the biggest U.S. shale field, has been of a super light oil known as WTL with an API gravity – a measure of density – similar to condensate.

ATC has especially stepped up condensate sales to refiners in South Korea and the United Arab Emirates after they stopped importing the petrochemical feedstock from Iran due to U.S. sanctions, trade sources said.

Besides supplying U.S. Eagle Ford condensate, ATC’s WTL shipments could increase as more of the light oil becomes available for export after new pipelines connect shale oil production from the Permian Basin to U.S. Gulf Coast terminals, one of the people said.

Plains All American’s 670,000-bpd Cactus II pipeline began commercial deliveries this month. The pipeline segregates WTL barrels to maintain quality from the oilfield to the dock, which is vital to Asian refiners, the people said.

“Asia should have demand for it with their (condensate) splitters and capabilities to run ultra light crudes,” one source said.

South Korea surpassed Canada to become the biggest buyer of U.S. oil in June.

 

Former Google self-driving car engineer charged with stealing trade secrets

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A former Google self-driving car engineer was charged Tuesday with 33 counts of stealing or trying to steal the company’s trade secrets related to the technology, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.

The initial accusation that Anthony Levandowski stole secret materials from Google in 2015 rocked Silicon Valley and led to a blockbuster civil trial last year.

Levandowski, who is expected to appear in San Jose federal court Tuesday, could face years in prison if convicted. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

“All of us, generally speaking, are free to move from job to job, but what we cannot do is stuff our pockets on the way out the door,” U.S. Attorney David Anderson said at a press conference in San Jose.

Levandowski, 39, was allowed to self-surrender, which he did at the San Jose federal courthouse. Anderson would not comment on the Justice Department probe of Uber.

Miles Ehrlich and Ismail Ramsey, lawyers for Levandowski, said they will fight the charges.

“This cash rehashes claims already discredited in a civil case that settled more than a year and a half ago,” the lawyers said in a written statement handed out at the courthouse. “The downloads at issue occurred while Anthony was still working at Google — when he and his team were authorized to use the information.”

In 2017, Waymo — Google’s self-driving car operation — sued Uber, and while Levandowski never testified at the trial the following year, his absence loomed large over it.

The fight began in February 2017, when Waymo publicly alleged that former star engineer Levandowski “downloaded over 14,000 highly confidential and proprietary design files for Waymo’s various hardware systems,” including a crucial laser-based system known as LiDAR.

In federal charges unsealed Tuesday, the government claims that in December 2015, Levandowski took nearly 10 gigabytes of secret data from his employer.

“Silicon Valley is not the Wild West,” said John Bennett, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Francisco bureau, at the same press conference. “The fast-paced and competitive environment does not mean that federal laws can be ignored.”

Levandowski abruptly left Google early in 2016, founding the company Otto, which was quickly acquired by Uber for $680 million — an astonishing amount for a company that was only several months old.

In 2017, during hearings in the run-up to the civil trial, Levandowski fought hard to keep silent. He repeatedly invoked the Fifth Amendment, protecting himself against self-incrimination and was threatened with being fired rather than comply with court orders.

According to former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s July 2017 deposition, Levandowski downloaded the files as an “insurance policy” to protect a $120 million bonus from Google. But Kalanick was blunt with his analysis of his then-employee’s behavior: “That’s pretty f—ing dumb.”

After four days of trial in February 2018, the lawsuit ended in a surprise settlement.

Anderson said Uber and Google’s Waymo were both supportive of the investigation and provided materials to the government

Since being fired from Uber in May 2017, Levandowski has gone on to found a related company called Pronto, which he announced in December 2018. Its top executives include veterans from Uber, Otto and Google.

Pronto announced on Tuesday that Robbie Miller, the company’s chief safety officer, would be taking over as chief executive.

Trump admin pulling millions from FEMA disaster relief to send to southern border

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The Trump administration is pulling $271 million in funding from the Department of Homeland Security, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund, to pay for immigration detention space and temporary hearing locations for asylum-seekers who have been forced to wait in Mexico, according to department officials and a letter sent to the agency by a California congresswoman.

To fund temporary locations for court hearings for asylum-seekers along the southern border, ICE would gain $155 million, all from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, according to the letter from Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif.

The allocations were sent to Congress as a notification rather than a request, because the administration believes it has the authority to repurpose these funds after Congress did not pass more funding for ICE detention beds as part of an emergency funding bill for the southwest border in June.

Specifically, the Department of Homeland Security will lose $116 million previously allocated for Coast Guard operations, aviation security and other components in order to fund nearly 6,800 more beds for immigrant detainees, the officials said.

“We would not say this is with no risk but we would say that we worked it in a way to…minimize the risk. This was a must pay bill that needed to be addressed,” said a DHS official, who noted that the funds would begin transfer immediately to fund ICE through Sept. 30.

Combined with existing space, the funding would allow ICE to detain nearly 50,000 immigrants at one time.

The Trump administration has claimed that the sudden rise in border crossings in 2019 has overwhelmed resources at the border, and that the lack of detention space at ICE has caused backlogs at border stations that offer migrants substandard conditions.

In July, there were 82,049 undocumented migrants who were apprehended or presented themselves at the southwest border, a sharp decline from over 144,000 in May, but still double the number seen the same month the previous year.

The $155 million for court hearings was originally allocated to FEMA in 2006 and 2007, but would have been used in the current budget to prepare to respond to natural disasters, such as hurricanes.

The administration began sending Central American migrants back to Mexico to await their court hearings in the U.S. as a means of slowing down the number of asylum-seekers who present themselves for asylum and remain in the U.S. until their court hearing. The funding will allow those immigrants waiting in Mexico to have their cases heard at the border, rather than being transported to locations within the interior of the country.

“I object to the use of funds for that purpose because the Department has provided no substantiation for a claim that this transfer is necessary due to ‘extraordinary circumstances that imminently threaten the safety of human life or the protection of property,’” Roybal-Allard said, referring to a provision that would allow DHS to repurpose funds at this point in the budget cycle without notifying Congress.

Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, also expressed reservations about the administration’s plan.

“I have grave concerns about DHS’s proposed end-run around laws passed by Congress that would drain millions from agencies tasked with protecting the homeland from security threats and natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires — including CBP, TSA, FEMA and the Coast Guard,” Tester said in a statement.

“Congress has already deliberated DHS’s request and appropriated the highest-ever funding for border security and immigration enforcement, which passed on a bipartisan basis and was signed by President Trump,” he added.

Pity, 10-man Atlanta United hold on for U.S. Open Cup crown

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It’s taken Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez some time to get used to these United States, but he’s in the sweet spot now.

He’s also a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champion.

Martinez scored six minutes after a Minnesota United own goal as Atlanta United built an early lead and held on through a Leandro Gonzalez Pirez red card at Mercedes Benz Stadium on Tuesday.

It’s Atlanta’s first USOC title, the first won by a team from Georgia, and joins the club’s 2018 MLS Cup in the trophy case

To borrow an adjective from PST’s Joe Prince-Wright, the second half was pulsating.

Atlanta’s first goal came when Leandro Gonzalez Pirez’s cross was partially blocked but took a turn into the goal in the 10th minute.

After failing to record a goal or assist in his first eight MLS contests, Pity Martinez posted three goals and seven assists in his next 18 plus two goals in the Open Cup.

Minnesota pulled one back just after the break to reinvigorate the match.

It was Robin Lod who produced the goal, the Finnish national team hitting a shot that deflected past Brad Guzan.

Pirez made it more tense when he took his second yellow card in the 74th minute.

Ike Opara missed a first half chance, but thought he made up for it in stoppage time. His would-be equalizing assist was popped over the bar by Michael Boxall.

 

How To Calm Your Nerves Before Public Speaking At Work

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No other everyday office opportunity can strike terror in employees quite like public speaking. Giving a presentation can be a chance to get your voice heard, but 1 in 4 Americans fear it. It scares more of us than snakes, hell, walking alone at night and insects, according to a 2018 survey by Chapman University.

But research shows there are ways to calm your jitters and not feel overwhelmed. Here are some that tips psychologists and experts have for the nervous public speaker:

1) Reframe those nerves as excitement.
Don’t listen to the advice of those “Keep calm and carry on” posters if you’re anxious about public speaking. Instead, try embracing your sweaty palms and racing heartbeat as signs of excitement. This reappraisal of anxiety can actually help stop nerves from overwhelming you, a 2014 Harvard Business School study found. How you think about your anxiety can change how you perform under it.

In the study, business professor Alison Wood Brooks recruited participants to sing the Journey song “Don’t Stop Believin’” in front of a group. Before they belted their hearts out, they were told to say, “I am anxious,” “I am excited,” or nothing. A video game measured how well they performed. The group that declared their excitement improved their singing performance more than the “anxious” and say-nothing groups.

Similarly, in a separate experiment, participants were asked to give a short public speech after being told to say “I am calm” or “I am excited.” The “excited” group gave better speeches, independent raters judged. Brooks suggested that this works because encouraging excitement can prime you to see the task as an opportunity, whereas trying to calm down can make you see the challenge as a threat.

2) Make it about the ideas you want to share; don’t make it all about you.
Yes, being asked to speak in front of your peers can be an honor. But don’t make the opportunity about more than it is if you’re worried about your boss’ approval or what the audience will think.

Amanda Hennessey, founder of Boston Public Speaking, has coached people for more than a decade. She advises taking the focus off of yourself and putting it instead onto the valuable information you are going to deliver. That way, the speech becomes “an exchange of ideas rather than a referendum of our self-worth,” she said.

Hennessey said public speakers in the office can focus on why the public speaking matters for their team or client and “what’s at stake for the people.”

“That brings us to that place of passion and purpose, where our bodies feel very alive,” Hennessey said.

If your mind starts to narrate a horror story about how your talk will go, Hennessey suggests a physically grounding technique to help you stay continually present.

“Feel your feet on the earth and start to notice things around you, look at something on your desk that makes you happy and really look at it,” Hennessey said. “We want to get back to the present, instead of projecting about the future.”

3) Don’t obsess over each word.
If you have done the necessary preparation, don’t monitor what you are about to say right before the public speaking opportunity, advises Sian Beilock, a psychologist who authored “Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To.” Looking at famous examples of people “choking” under pressure, she found that high-achieving people can underperform when they are struck by “paralysis analysis” and try to control every part of their performance by paying too much attention to step-by-step details.

“Oftentimes, the reason that we mess up, especially something that’s well-learned or practiced, is that we start paying too much attention to the details,” Beilock said. “When you’re focusing on every step of what you’re going to say right before you go in, that can be problematic.“

Beilock says a public speaker can distract themselves with an activity that takes their mind off what they are about to do. “One way that research has found to get rid of that monitoring is to focus on something at a higher level,” Beilock said. “In golf, they talk about one swing thought, or a mantra that encapsulates the entire putting stroke. When you’re speaking and you’re trying to get the point across, think about the three points you want to get across. What are the three goals?”

With those in mind, when you do open your mouth, you can focus on the outcome of what you’re trying to say rather than “every word coming out of your mouth,” Beilock said.

Hennessey suggests carrying positive self-affirmations that speak to you, such as “I got this,” “I release the need to prove my worth,” “I am excited to share what I care about,” or “I am enough.”

She said speakers can keep a copy of the words on a piece of paper in their wallet to read over before a talk. “Different ones appeal to different people,” Hennessey said. “If it sparks joy, it’s going to keep doing that and it’s going to be able to cut through the noise of our mind.”

4) Exercise.
There is a large body of research that shows aerobic exercise can reduce the body’s biological stress response. If this fits into your lifestyle and routine, go ahead and do it as part of your preparation for public speaking.

But don’t make the exercise a need you have to fulfill in order for a talk to go well. “Have it be OK if you suddenly you can’t [exercise],” Hennessey said. “You want to be careful about having rituals, but not getting so attached to them.”

Trump’s Tariffs Will Make These Ordinary Things More Expensive

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President Donald Trump’s trade war with China is probably going to cost you some money.

The newest round of tariffs on Chinese goods was announced on Aug. 1 and targets consumer goods, including everyday items like clothes, shoes, video games, computers and toys.

Trump wrongly claimed earlier this summer that the U.S. wouldn’t be paying for the fallout from the tariffs on China and said that China would be absorbing the costs.

But American companies are the ones who end up paying for tariffs imposed by Trump on products imported from China. The companies then typically add the cost of those tariffs onto the prices that customers pay.

Unless Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping can ease the tension between the two of them and call off the trade war, consumers will feel the burn after Trump’s tariffs take effect in September and December ― some of the busiest shopping months of the year.

A JPMorgan analysis estimates that this latest round of tariffs, on top of existing ones, will cost the average household in the U.S. $1,000 per year.

Shoes, in particular, will be impacted by the tariffs. A whopping 99% of shoes sold in the U.S. are made in China.

Apple customers should also be worried. Many of the tech giant’s most popular products are assembled in China, including its iPhones and iPads. Apple’s Mac Pro, its newest desktop model slated to hit the market this fall, is also being assembled in China.

While some American companies can apply to be excluded from the burden of Trump’s tariffs, the president very publicly denied Apple from such exceptions.

Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a group of American trade groups fighting to end tariffs, said Friday that the latest round will jack up prices for consumers and called on Congress to intervene in Trump and Xi’s trade war.

“The administration is betting the health of our entire economy on a tariff strategy that is a proven loser,” the group said in a statement. “These added tariffs will ratchet up consumer prices, stall business investment, escalate uncertainty and cost American jobs.”

Here are some of the types of products imported from China whose prices could soon go up thanks to the trade war. (The full list, which contains hundreds of goods and materials, can be found here.)

Starting in September:

  • Clothes including suits, coats, jackets, pants, dresses, accessories and
  • underwear
  • Umbrellas
  • Ovens and stoves
  • Beef and chicken
  • Ketchup
  • Cheese
  • Chocolate
  • Bed linen
  • Blankets
  • Curtains

Starting in December:

  • Cellphones, laptops, computer monitors, keyboards, headphones and
  • speakers
  • Shoes including athletic shoes, boots and waterproof shoes
  • Christmas decorations
  • Handbags
  • Picture frames
  • Toys
  • Fishing rods and poles
  • Diapers
  • Combs
  • Umbrellas
  • Video games and consoles

U.S. to test mirrorless, camera-based systems in autos

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The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to test how drivers could use cameras to replace traditional rearview mirrors in automobiles, a technology already allowed in other countries, the agency said on Tuesday.

The planned test by the agency known as NHTSA would examine “driving behaviour and lane change manoeuvre execution” in cars with traditional mirrors and camera-based visibility systems, the department said in a notice offering the public a chance to comment.

In March 2014, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers — a trade group representing General Motors Co, Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE), Toyota Motor Corp and others, along with Tesla Inc, petitioned NHTSA to use camera-based rear or side-vision systems. A similar petition was filed by Daimler AG in 2015 seeking approval for camera use instead of rearview mirrors in heavy-duty trucks. Those petitions are still pending.

NHTSA said in a report last year it was still studying the issue. The new testing would initially focus on passenger vehicles and later on larger vehicles.

Auto manufacturers have commonly added front and rear cameras to assist with manoeuvres like parking, but some are now adding side cameras to provide visibility without traditional mirrors in other markets.

Toyota began selling a Lexus ES in Japan last year with cameras replacing side mirrors and was followed by Volkswagen, which began selling its Audi e-tron model with cameras instead of side mirrors in Europe in December.

Both sell versions in the United States with traditional mirrors.

Honda Motor Co Ltd will have the technology standard on its Honda e when the model goes on sale in Europe later this year or early next year, a spokeswoman said.

The technology is already approved in Europe and Japan.

Mirrorless systems are “an example of where automotive technology is ahead of the legislative curve” in the United States, said Mark Dahncke, an Audi of America spokesman.

The test comes as automakers are investing in technology and autonomous driving capability.

Tesla said in October it had made all eight external cameras on its Model S, Model X and Model 3 cars active, providing a “360-degree visualization of surrounding vehicles,” though the cars still have traditional mirrors.

Purdue Pharma offers $10-12 billion to settle opioid claims

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The maker of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, and its owners, the Sackler family, are offering to settle more than 2,000 lawsuits against the company for $10 billion to $12 billion. The potential deal was part of confidential conversations and discussed by Purdue’s lawyers at a meeting in Cleveland last Tuesday, Aug. 20, according to two people familiar with the mediation.

Brought by states, cities and counties, the lawsuits — some of which have been combined into one massive case — allege the company and the Sackler family are responsible for starting and sustaining the opioid crisis.

At least 10 state attorneys general and the plaintiffs’ attorneys gathered in Cleveland, where David Sackler represented the Sackler family, according to two people familiar with the meeting. David Sackler, who was a board member of the company, has recently been the de facto family spokesperson.

The lawsuits that Purdue and the Sacklers are seeking to settle allege that their company’s sales practices were deceptive and at least partly responsible for the opioid crisis, which claimed more than 400,000 lives from 1999 to 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some of the lawsuits also allege that after 2007 the Sackler family drained the company of money to enrich themselves.

“The Sackler family built a multibillion-dollar drug empire based on addiction,” New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in May when his state joined others in suing the Sackler family and their company. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey was the first to name family members in her suit in January.

Purdue Pharma, which makes the opioid painkiller OxyContin, and the Sackler family have denied the allegations laid out in the lawsuits.

The company said: “While Purdue Pharma is prepared to defend itself vigorously in the opioid litigation, the company has made clear that it sees little good coming from years of wasteful litigation and appeals.”

“The people and communities affected by the opioid crisis need help now. Purdue believes a constructive global resolution is the best path forward, and the company is actively working with the state attorneys general and other plaintiffs to achieve this outcome,” the company added.

A representative for the Sackler family did not respond to a request for comment.

At the Cleveland meeting, the company presented a plan for Purdue to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy and then restructure into a for-profit “public benefit trust.

The Purdue lawyers claim the value of the trust to plaintiffs would include more than $4 billion in drugs that would be provided to cities, counties and states, the people familiar with the matter said. Some of the drugs are used to rescue people from overdoses.

The in-kind drugs, combined with profits from the sale of drugs, would add up to a total Purdue settlement ranging from $7 billion to $8 billion, according to two people familiar with the offer.

The trust would exist for at least 10 years. Three “well-recognized expert” trustees would be independently appointed by a bankruptcy court, according to the terms of the potential deal. Those trustees would in turn choose a board of directors to run the trust, according to the term sheet.

Any profits from the sale of Purdue’s drugs such as OxyContin or Nalmefene, a drug that has been fast-tracked by the FDA and would be used for emergency treatment of opioid overdoses, would go to the cities, counties and states if they agree to the settlement.

The Sackler family would give up ownership of the company and would no longer be involved, according to two people familiar with the matter.

For their part, the Sackler family, which has faced an increasingly hostile activist movement, would pay at least $3 billion. Forbes ranks the family as the 19th richest in America, with a fortune of at least $13 billion shared by an estimated 20 family members.

The Sackler money would be obtained by the family selling off Mundipharma, a separate global pharmaceutical company they own, according to a person briefed on the potential settlement deal. An additional $1.5 billion may be tacked onto the $3 billion if the sale of Mundipharma exceeds $3 billion.

Mundipharma describes itself on its website as a privately owned network of “independent associated companies” with “a presence in over 120 countries.” Mundipharma is controlled by the Sackler family.

A 2016 Los Angeles Times investigation of Mundipharma described how the global venture offered a new international pipeline for Purdue’s opioids.

Purdue Pharma’s legal team informed the assembled plaintiffs’ attorneys that if they did not take the potential settlement, the company would go ahead and declare bankruptcy, the people familiar with the matter said. The company’s lawyers claim the value of a fully liquidated Purdue in a standard bankruptcy would be considerably lower than the current settlement offer amount.

Purdue Pharma is just one of the opioid companies being sued by more than 2,000 cities and counties for “grossly” misrepresenting “the risks of long-term use of those drugs for persons with chronic pain,” according to court documents. The cases against a variety of opioid companiesare being overseen by U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster of Northern Ohio, who attended the meeting last week, according to two people familiar with the meeting.

The states have brought their cases separately. But the Purdue settlement deal was presented as a global deal for all plaintiffs, including the states, according to people familiar with the potential deal.

The opioid crisis has cost the United States more than $504 billion, according to a 2017 report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Purdue Pharma has earned more than $35 billion from the sale of OxyContin.

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