President Donald Trump Accomplishments

U.S. President Donald Trump signs an executive order on education as he participates in a federalism event with Governors at the White House in Washington, DC, U.S. April 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

By Kami Klein

On January 20th, 2019 it will be two years since President Donald Trump took the oath to lead our country and began the task of making America great again.  It has been an arduous task under constant scrutiny, challenging world policies as well as many profound events in our country. Despite these daunting obstacles the inventory of accomplishments from the White House grows even longer.

Below is a list compiled by the Washington Examiner and compared with information offered through the White House, on the accomplishments and promises kept by the President.  This list was released in October of 2018, showing 20 months of actions and leadership of this Presidency. The list will continue to grow and update as we enter the next two years of his term.

With change come difficult moments and we understand as Americans that it is in those times that we can take action with prayer and encouragement.  We ask that you keep our President, Lawmakers, Senators, World Leaders, as well as community leaders in your prayers. May God’s blessings be upon this Nation!  

Economic Growth
4.2 percent growth in the second quarter of 2018.
For the first time in more than a decade, growth is projected to exceed 3 percent over the calendar year.

4 million new jobs have been created since the election, and more than 3.5 million since Trump took office.
More Americans are employed now than ever before in our history.
Jobless claims at lowest level in nearly five decades.
The economy has achieved the longest positive job-growth streak on record.
Job openings are at an all-time high and outnumber job seekers for the first time on record.
Unemployment claims at 50 year low
African-American, Hispanic, and Asian-American unemployment rates have all recently reached record lows.
African-American unemployment hit a record low of 5.9 percent in May 2018.
Hispanic unemployment at 4.5 percent.
Asian-American unemployment at a record low of 2 percent.
Women’s unemployment recently at the lowest rate in nearly 65 years.
Female unemployment dropped to 3.6 percent in May 2018, the lowest since October 1953.
Youth unemployment recently reached its lowest level in more than 50 years.
July 2018’s youth unemployment rate of 9.2 percent was the lowest since July 1966.
Veterans’ unemployment recently hit its lowest level in nearly two decades.
July 2018’s veterans’ unemployment rate of 3.0 percent matched the lowest rate since May 2001.
Unemployment rate for Americans without a high school diploma recently reached a record low.
Rate for disabled Americans recently hit a record low.
Blue-collar jobs recently grew at the fastest rate in more than three decades.
Poll found that 85 percent of blue-collar workers believe their lives are headed “in the right direction.”
68 percent reported receiving a pay increase in the past year.
Last year, job satisfaction among American workers hit its highest level since 2005.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans rate now as a good time to find a quality job.
Optimism about the availability of good jobs has grown by 25 percent.
Added more than 400,000 manufacturing jobs since the election.
Manufacturing employment is growing at its fastest pace in more than two decades.
100,000 new jobs supporting the production & transport of oil & natural gas.

American Income
Median household income rose to $61,372 in 2017, a post-recession high.
Wages up in August by their fastest rate since June 2009.
Paychecks rose by 3.3 percent between 2016 and 2017, the most in a decade.
Council of Economic Advisers found that real wage compensation has grown by 1.4 percent over the past year.
Some 3.9 million Americans off food stamps since the election.
Median income for Hispanic-Americans rose by 3.7 percent and surpassed $50,000 for the first time ever in history.
Home-ownership among Hispanics is at the highest rate in nearly a decade.
Poverty rates for African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans have reached their lowest levels ever recorded.

American Optimism
Small business optimism has hit historic highs.
NFIB’s small business optimism index broke a 35-year-old record in August.
SurveyMonkey/CNBC’s small business confidence survey for Q3 of 2018 matched its all-time high.
Manufacturers are more confident than ever.
95 percent of U.S. manufacturers are optimistic about the future, the highest ever.
Consumer confidence is at an 18-year high.
12 percent of Americans rate the economy as the most significant problem facing our country, the lowest level on record.
Confidence in the economy is near a two-decade high, with 51 percent rating the economy as good or excellent.

American Business
Investment is flooding back into the United States due to the tax cuts.
Over $450 billion dollars has already poured back into the U.S., including more than $300 billion in the first quarter of 2018.
Retail sales have surged. Commerce Department figures from August show that retail sales increased 0.5 percent in July 2018, an increase of 6.4 percent from July 2017.
ISM’s index of manufacturing scored its highest reading in 14 years.
Worker productivity is the highest it has been in more than three years.
Steel and aluminum producers are re-opening.
Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and NASDAQ have all notched record highs.
Dow hit record highs 70 times in 2017 alone, the most ever recorded in one year.

Achieved massive deregulation at a rapid pace, completing 22 deregulatory actions to every one regulatory action during his first year in office.
Signed legislation to roll back costly and harmful provisions of Dodd-Frank, providing relief to credit unions, and community and regional banks.
Federal agencies achieved more than $8 billion in lifetime net regulatory cost savings.
Rolled back Obama’s burdensome Waters of the U.S. rule.
Used the Congressional Review Act to repeal regulations more times than in history.

Tax Cuts
Biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history by signing the Tax Cuts and Jobs act into law
Provided more than $5.5 trillion in gross tax cuts, nearly 60 percent of which will go to families.
Increased the exemption for the death tax to help save Family Farms & Small Business.
Nearly doubled the standard deduction for individuals and families.
Enabled vast majority of American families will be able to file their taxes on a single page by claiming the standard deduction.
Doubled the child tax credit to help lessen the financial burden of raising a family.
Lowered America’s corporate tax rate from the highest in the developed world to allow American businesses to compete and win.
Small businesses can now deduct 20 percent of their business income.
Cut dozens of special interest tax breaks and closed loopholes for the wealthy.
9 in 10 American workers are expected to see an increase in their paychecks thanks to the tax cuts, according to the Treasury Department.
More than 6 million American workers have received wage increases, bonuses, and increased benefits thanks to tax cuts.
Over 100 utility companies have lowered electric, gas, or water rates thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Ernst & Young found 89 percent of companies planned to increase worker compensation thanks to the Trump tax cuts.
Established opportunity zones to spur investment in left behind communities.

Worker Development
Established a National Council for the American Worker to develop a national strategy for training and retraining America’s workers for high-demand industries.
Employers have signed Trump’s “Pledge to America’s Workers,” committing to train or retrain more than 4.2 million workers and students.
Signed the first Perkins CTE reauthorization since 2006, authorizing more than $1 billion for states each year to fund vocational and career education programs.
Executive order expanding apprenticeship opportunities for students and workers.

Domestic Infrastructure
Proposed infrastructure plan would utilize $200 billion in Federal funds to spur at least $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investment across the country.
Executive order expediting environmental reviews and approvals for high priority infrastructure projects.
Federal agencies have signed the One Federal Decision Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) streamlining the federal permitting process for infrastructure projects.
Rural prosperity task force and signed an executive order to help expand broadband access in rural areas.

Health Care
Signed an executive order to help minimize the financial burden felt by American households Signed legislation to improve the National Suicide Hotline.
Signed the most comprehensive childhood cancer legislation ever into law, which will advance childhood cancer research and improve treatments.
Signed Right-to-Try legislation, expanding health care options for terminally ill patients.
Enacted changes to the Medicare 340B program, saving seniors an estimated $320 million on drugs in 2018 alone.
FDA set a new record for generic drug approvals in 2017, saving consumers nearly $9 billion.
Released a blueprint to drive down drug prices for American patients, leading multiple major drug companies to announce they will freeze or reverse price increases.
Expanded short-term, limited-duration health plans.
Let more employers to form Association Health Plans, enabling more small businesses to join together and affordably provide health insurance to their employees.
Cut Obamacare’s burdensome individual mandate penalty.
Signed legislation repealing Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board, also known as the “death panels.”
USDA invested more than $1 billion in rural health care in 2017, improving access to health care for 2.5 million people in rural communities across 41 states
Proposed Title X rule to help ensure taxpayers do not fund the abortion industry in violation of the law.
Reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy to keep foreign aid from supporting the global abortion industry.
HHS formed a new division over protecting the rights of conscience and religious freedom.
Overturned Obama administration’s midnight regulation prohibiting states from defunding certain abortion facilities.
Signed executive order to help ensure that religious organizations are not forced to choose between violating their religious beliefs by complying with Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate or shutting their doors.

Combating Opioids
Chaired meeting the 73rd General Session of the United Nations discussing the worldwide drug problem with international leaders.
Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand, introducing new measures to keep dangerous drugs out of our communities.
$6 billion in new funding to fight the opioid epidemic.
DEA conducted a surge in April 2018 that arrested 28 medical professions and revoked 147 registrations for prescribing too many opioids.
Brought the “Prescribed to Death” memorial to President’s Park near the White House, helping raise awareness about the human toll of the opioid crisis.
Helped reduce high-dose opioid prescriptions by 16 percent in 2017.
Opioid Summit on the administration-wide efforts to combat the opioid crisis.
Launched a national public awareness campaign about the dangers of opioid addiction.
Created a Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis which recommended a number of pathways to tackle the opioid crisis.
Led two National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days in 2017 and 2018, collecting a record number of expired and unneeded prescription drugs each time.
$485 million targeted grants in FY 2017 to help areas hit hardest by the opioid crisis.
Signed INTERDICT Act, strengthening efforts to detect and intercept synthetic opioids before they reach our communities.
DOJ secured its first-ever indictments against Chinese fentanyl manufacturers.
Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) team, aimed at disrupting online illicit opioid sales.
Declared the opioid crisis a Nationwide Public Health Emergency in October 2017.

Law and Order
More U.S. Circuit Court judges confirmed in the first year in office than ever.
Confirmed more than two dozen U. S. Circuit Court judges.
Followed through on the promise to nominate judges to the Supreme Court who will adhere to the Constitution
Nominated and confirmed Justice Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Signed an executive order directing the Attorney General to develop a strategy to more effectively prosecute people who commit crimes against law enforcement officers.
Launched an evaluation of grant programs to make sure they prioritize the protection and safety of law enforcement officers.
Established a task force to reduce crime and restore public safety in communities across Signed an executive order to focus more federal resources on dismantling transnational criminal organizations such as drug cartels.
Signed an executive order to focus more federal resources on dismantling transnational criminal organizations such as drug cartels.
Violent crime decreased in 2017 according to FBI statistics.
$137 million in grants through the COPS Hiring Program to preserve jobs, increase community policing capacities, and support crime prevention efforts.
Enhanced and updated the Project Safe Neighborhoods to help reduce violent crime.
Signed legislation making it easier to target websites that enable sex trafficking and strengthened penalties for people who promote or facilitate prostitution.
Created an interagency task force working around the clock to prosecute traffickers, protect victims, and prevent human trafficking.
Conducted Operation Cross Country XI to combat human trafficking, rescuing 84 children and arresting 120 human traffickers.
Encouraged federal prosecutors to use the death penalty when possible in the fight against the trafficking of deadly drugs.
New rule effectively banning bump stock sales in the United States.

Border Security and Immigration
Secured $1.6 billion for border wall construction in the March 2018 omnibus bill.
Construction of a 14-mile section of border wall began near San Diego.
Worked to protect American communities from the threat posed by the vile MS-13 gang.
ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations division arrested 796 MS-13 members and associates in FY 2017, an 83 percent increase from the prior year.
Justice worked with partners in Central America to secure criminal charges against more than 4,000 MS-13 members.
Border Patrol agents arrested 228 illegal aliens affiliated with MS-13 in FY 2017.
Fighting to stop the scourge of illegal drugs at our border.
ICE HSI seized more than 980,000 pounds of narcotics in FY 2017, including 2,370 pounds of fentanyl and 6,967 pounds of heroin.
ICE HSI dedicated nearly 630,000 investigative hours towards halting the illegal import of fentanyl.
ICE HSI made 11,691 narcotics-related arrests in FY 2017.
Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand introduced new measures to keep dangerous drugs out the United States.
Signed the INTERDICT Act into law, enhancing efforts to detect and intercept synthetic opioids.
DOJ secured its first-ever indictments against Chinese fentanyl manufacturers.
DOJ launched their Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) team, aimed at disrupting online illicit opioid sales.
Released an immigration framework that includes the resources required to secure our borders and close legal loopholes, and repeatedly called on Congress to fix our broken immigration laws.
Authorized the deployment of the National Guard to help secure the border.
Enhanced vetting of individuals entering the U.S. from countries that don’t meet security standards, helping to ensure individuals who pose a threat to our country are identified before they enter.
These procedures were upheld in a June 2018 Supreme Court hearing.
ICE removed over 226,000 illegal aliens from the United States in 2017.
ICE rescued or identified over 500 human trafficking victims and over 900 child exploitation victims in 2017 alone.
In 2017, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) arrested more than 127,000 aliens with criminal convictions or charges, responsible for
Over 76,000 with dangerous drug offenses.
More than 48,000 with assault offenses.
More than 11,000 with weapons offenses.
More than 5,000 with sexual assault offenses.
More than 2,000 with kidnapping offenses.
Over 1,800 with homicide offenses.
Created the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) Office in order to support the victims and families affected by illegal alien crime.
More than doubled the number of counties participating in the 287(g) program, which allows jails to detain criminal aliens until they are transferred to ICE custody.

Negotiating and renegotiating better trade deals, achieving free, fair, and reciprocal trade for the United States.
Agreed to work with the European Union towards zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies.
Deal with the European Union to increase U.S. energy exports to Europe.
Litigated multiple WTO disputes targeting unfair trade practices and upholding our right to enact fair trade laws.
Finalized a revised trade agreement with South Korea, which includes provisions to increase American automobile exports.
Negotiated a historic U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement to replace NAFTA.
Agreement to begin trade negotiations for a U.S.-Japan trade agreement.
Secured $250 billion in new trade and investment deals in China and $12 billion in Vietnam.
Established a Trade and Investment Working Group with the United Kingdom, laying the groundwork for post-Brexit trade.
Enacted steel and aluminum tariffs to protect our vital steel and aluminum producers and strengthen our national security.
Conducted 82 anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations in 2017 alone.
Confronting China’s unfair trade practices after years of Washington looking the other way.
25 percent tariff on $50 billion of goods imported from China and later imposed an additional 10% tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods.
Conducted an investigation into Chinese forced technology transfers, unfair licensing practices, and intellectual property theft.
Imposed safeguard tariffs to protect domestic washing machines and solar products manufacturers hurt by China’s trade policies
Withdrew from the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Secured access to new markets for America’s farmers.
Recent deal with Mexico included new improvements enabling food and agriculture to trade more fairly.
Recent agreement with the E.U. will reduce barriers and increase trade of American soybeans to Europe.
Won a WTO dispute regarding Indonesia’s unfair restriction of U.S. agricultural exports.
Defended American Tuna fisherman and packagers before the WTO
Opened up Argentina to American pork exports for the first time in a quarter-century
American beef exports have returned to China for the first time in more than a decade
OK’d up to $12 billion in aid for farmers affected by unfair trade retaliation.

Presidential Memorandum to clear roadblocks to construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Presidential Memorandum declaring that the Dakota Access Pipeline serves the national interest and initiating the process to complete construction.
Opened up the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to energy exploration.
Coal exports up over 60 percent in 2017.
Rolled back the “stream protection rule” to prevent it from harming America’s coal industry.
Cancelled Obama’s anti-coal Clean Power Plan and proposed the Affordable Clean Energy Rule as a replacement.
Withdrew from the job-killing Paris climate agreement, which would have cost the U.S. nearly $3 trillion and led to 6.5 million fewer industrial sector jobs by 2040.
U.S. oil production has achieved its highest level in American history
United States is now the largest crude oil producer in the world.
U.S. has become a net natural gas exporter for the first time in six decades.
Action to expedite the identification and extraction of critical minerals that are vital to the nation’s security and economic prosperity.
Took action to reform National Ambient Air Quality Standards, benefitting American manufacturers.
Rescinded Obama’s hydraulic fracturing rule, which was expected to cost the industry $32 million per year.
Proposed expansion of offshore drilling as part of an all-of-the-above energy strategy
Held a lease sale for offshore oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico in August 2018.
Got EU to increase its imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States.
Issued permits for the New Burgos Pipeline that will cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

Foreign Policy
Moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Withdrew from Iran deal and immediately began the process of re-imposing sanctions that had been lifted or waived.
Treasury has issued sanctions targeting Iranian activities and entities, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force
Since enacting sanctions, Iran’s crude exports have fallen off, the value of Iran’s currency has plummeted, and international companies have pulled out of the country.
All nuclear-related sanctions will be back in full force by early November 2018.
Historic summit with North Korean President Kim Jong-Un, bringing beginnings of peace and denuclearization to the Korean Peninsula.
The two leaders have exchanged letters and high-level officials from both sides have met resulting in tremendous progress.
North Korea has halted nuclear and missile tests.
Negotiated the return of the remains of missing-in-action soldiers from the Korean War.
Imposed strong sanctions on Venezuelan dictator Nicholas Maduro and his inner circle.
Executive order preventing those in the U.S. from carrying out certain transactions with the Venezuelan regime, including prohibiting the purchase of the regime’s debt.
Responded to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.
Rolled out sanctions targeting individuals and entities tied to Syria’s chemical weapons program.
Directed strikes in April 2017 against a Syrian airfield used in a chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians.
Joined allies in launching airstrikes in April 2018 against targets associated with Syria’s chemical weapons use.
New Cuba policy that enhanced compliance with U.S. law and held the Cuban regime accountable for political oppression and human rights abuses.
Treasury and State are working to channel economic activity away from the Cuban regime, particularly the military.
Changed the rules of engagement, empowering commanders to take the fight to ISIS.
ISIS has lost virtually all of its territory, more than half of which has been lost under Trump.
ISIS’ self-proclaimed capital city, Raqqah, was liberated in October 2017.
All Iraqi territory had been liberated from ISIS.
More than a dozen American hostages have been freed from captivity all of the world.
Action to combat Russia’s malign activities, including their efforts to undermine the sanctity of United States elections.
Expelled dozens of Russian intelligence officers from the United States and ordered the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle, WA.
Banned the use of Kaspersky Labs software on government computers, due to the company’s ties to Russian intelligence.
Imposed sanctions against five Russian entities and three individuals for enabling Russia’s military and intelligence units to increase Russia’s offensive cyber capabilities.
Sanctions against seven Russian oligarchs, and 12 companies they own or control, who profit from Russia’s destabilizing activities.
Sanctioned 100 targets in response to Russia’s occupation of Crimea and aggression in Eastern Ukraine.
Enhanced support for Ukraine’s Armed Forces to help Ukraine better defend itself.
Helped win U.S. bid for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
Helped win U.S.-Mexico-Canada’s united bid for 2026 World Cup.

Executive order keeping the detention facilities at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay open.
$700 billion in military funding for FY 2018 and $716 billion for FY 2019.
Largest military pay raise in nearly a decade.
Ordered a Nuclear Posture Review to ensure America’s nuclear forces are up to date and serve as a credible deterrent.
Released America’s first fully articulated cyber strategy in 15 years.
New strategy on national biodefense, which better prepares the nation to defend against biological threats.
Administration has announced that it will use whatever means necessary to protect American citizens and servicemen from unjust prosecution by the International Criminal Court.
Released an America first National Security Strategy.
Put in motion the launch of a Space Force as a new branch of the military and relaunched the National Space Council.
Encouraged the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies to increase defense spending to their agreed-upon levels.
In 2017 alone, there was an increase of more than 4.8 percent in defense spending amongst NATO allies.
Every member state has increased defense spending.
Eight NATO allies will reach the 2 percent benchmark by the end of 2018 and 15 allies are on trade to do so by 2024.
NATO allies spent over $42 billion dollars more on defense since 2016.
Executive order to help military spouses find employment as their families deploy domestically and abroad.

Veterans affairs
Signed the VA Accountability Act and expanded VA telehealth services, walk-in-clinics, and same-day urgent primary and mental health care.
Delivered more appeals decisions – 81,000 – to veterans in a single year than ever before.
Strengthened protections for individuals who come forward and identify programs occurring within the VA.
Signed legislation that provided $86.5 billion in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the largest dollar amount in history for the VA.
VA MISSION Act, enacting sweeping reform to the VA system that:
Consolidated and strengthened VA community care programs.
Funding for the Veterans Choice program.
Expanded eligibility for the Family Caregivers Program.
Gave veterans more access to walk-in care.
Strengthened the VA’s ability to recruit and retain quality healthcare professionals.
Enabled the VA to modernize its assets and infrastructure.
Signed the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act in 2017, which authorized $2.1 billion in additional funds for the Veterans Choice Program.
Worked to shift veterans’ electronic medical records to the same system used by the Department of Defense, a decades-old priority.
Issued an executive order requiring the Secretaries of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs to submit a joint plan to provide veterans access to access to mental health treatment as they transition to civilian life.
Increased transparency and accountability at the VA by launching an online “Access and Quality Tool,” providing veterans with access to wait time and quality of care data.
Signed legislation to modernize the claims and appeal process at the VA.
Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, providing enhanced educational benefits to veterans, service members, and their family members.
Lifted a 15-year limit on veterans’ access to their educational benefits.
Created a White House VA Hotline to help veterans and principally staffed it with veterans and direct family members of veterans.
VA employees are being held accountable for poor performance, with more than 4,000 VA employees removed, demoted, and suspended so far.
Signed the Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act, increasing the number of VA employees that can assist justice-involved veterans.

Scientists test warning system as asteroid flies by

Scientists test warning system as asteroid flies by

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – An asteroid the size of a school bus flew remarkably near Earth on Thursday, providing scientists with an opportunity to test the warning systems that would kick in if a space collision was coming.

Asteroid 2012 TC4 came close — passing Earth at a distance of only around 44,000 km (27,000 miles), which is nothing in Universe terms.

There was no actual risk of a hit, although the asteroid did come well inside the orbit of the Moon and that of some human-made satellites.

“Basically, we pretended that this is a ‘critical’ object with a high risk of impacting Earth … and exercised our communication channels and used telescopes and radar systems for observations,” Detlef Koschny of European Space Agency said in a blog post on the agency’s website.

The results were mixed.

Koschny said one big radar system in Puerto Rico did not work due to damage from Hurricane Maria but that another U.S. based radar system was used instead.

“This is exactly why we do this exercise – to not be surprised by these things,” he said.

Radar images showed the asteroid was about 10 to 12 meters (yards) wide, roughly the size of an asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013, leaving more than 1,000 people injured by flying glass and debris.

Koschny said the ESA now needed to update its predictions for how close 2012 TC4 will come to Earth on its next flyby, which has so far been forecast for 2079.

(Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

World food prices rise to highest in 18 months in September

food - grain, pasta, rice

By Steve Scherer

ROME (Reuters) – World food prices rose in September to their highest since March 2015, led mainly by sugar, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday.

Except for a small dip in July, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) food price index has been increasing steadily since January, when it hit a seven-year low.

The index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 170.9 points in September, 2.9 percent above the month before and 10 percent higher than the same month last year.

Sugar prices surged 6.7 percent in September from the previous month, largely because of bad weather in Brazil, the world’s biggest sugar producer and exporter, FAO said.

While cereal prices declined slightly, meat edged up and dairy and vegetable oil prices increased.

“A lot of the September increase has to do with sugar, so if sugar were to stop increasing, the index would be more or less flat,” said FAO senior economist Abdolreza Abbassian. “But the scope for big declines is not there.”

FAO raised slightly its forecast for world cereal production in the 2016-17 season rose to 2.569 billion tonnes, which would be a new record high and a 1.5 percent increase on the previous season. World wheat output is seen at 742.4 million tonnes, up slightly from the previous forecast of 740.7 million tonnes.

Cereal stocks are seen at 659.9 million tonnes in the 2016-17 season, down slightly from the previous month’s forecast.

(Reporting by Steve Scherer. Editing by Jane Merriman)

Islamist violence strains a poor nation’s warm welcome for refugees

Refugees pose for photo in Nigeria

By Joe Bavier

DIFFA, Niger (Reuters) – Unlike many victims of Islamist violence fleeing to Europe, Aba Ali found a warm African welcome closer to home. But even in southern Niger, where a local family accepted him as a brother, hospitality for refugees is now reaching its limits.

Ali, a 45-year-old mechanic, lost his home in neighboring Nigeria two years ago when he fled Boko Haram fighters who massacred his friends and neighbors.

Crossing into Niger, the world’s fifth poorest nation, he became one of the many refugees living with local people who themselves often have barely enough to feed their own children.

A surge in violence since last month, however, has displaced tens of thousands more, testing that spirit of open-armed acceptance in Niger’s Diffa region as shortages of food and water put communities under severe strain. Competition for scarce resources is creating friction and the risk of ethnic unrest.

Ali found a degree of security in Diffa, a region of blazing hot sand dotted with sparse trees and donkeys, thanks to Adamu Moumouni, a stranger who took him in when he had nothing.

“He became my family,” said Ali, tears streaming down his cheeks. “If it wasn’t for him, I would have no one here,” he added, his words barely audible over the bleating of goats on a small nearby plot of land that Moumouni gave him.

The United Nations says 2.4 million people have been displaced by Boko Haram’s seven-year campaign to establish an Islamic emirate which has spilled over Nigeria’s borders into Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

Ali’s lasting memory of his home village of Malam Fatori in northeastern Nigeria is his elderly mother standing in the doorway as gunfire rang out. “She told me ‘Run! Run!'” he said.

He escaped, helped by a fisherman from Niger who ferried him across the river that forms the border between the two countries. From there, he watched helplessly as Boko Haram drove those still waiting on the far bank into the water.

“I saw women enter the water with babies on their backs, and when they reached the other side the babies were gone,” he said.

Ali’s two wives and five children survived and also got to Diffa, but he lost 19 friends the day he fled. His mother, who was in poor health, made it to Niger a year later, only to die after a few days.


When he arrived in Diffa, Ali was a broken man. Then he met Moumouni.

“It was the suffering that brought us together. What happened to them could happen to us,” Moumouni said.

Since then, members of the two men’s families have married and they’ve even named babies after each other.

Unlike Ali, some fleeing Boko Haram push on through Niger for Europe, making the dangerous journey across the Sahara and Mediterranean among an estimated 150,000 this year – some escaping violence, others simply seeking a better life.

In the wealthy nations of Europe, their reception has been mixed. Germany received one million migrants last year from Africa, the Middle East and Asia. But the number of arson attacks on migrants’ hostels there has shot up while Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open door policy has come under heavy fire.

Other European nations are trying to stem the flow, saying they cannot cope, while countries on the separate Balkan migrant route have halted it by erecting border fences.


In Niger, Diffa is hosting a quarter of a million people – more than one in three of the population – displaced by the insurgency. They include more than 80,000 Nigerians like Ali, who have been largely taken in and helped by local residents rather than accommodated in bleak refugee camps.

“People have a sense of collectivity,” Nigerien Interior Minister Mohamed Bazoum told Reuters. “It’s characteristic of Africa.”

But Diffa’s economy, once among Niger’s most robust, is in ruins. Boko Haram stalks the river border, which has been evacuated by the government, killing off a once lucrative fishing industry and leaving precious irrigated farmland fallow.

The security situation is only getting worse. On June 3, Boko Haram fighters launched one of their most daring raids yet on Nigerien soil, briefly seizing the town of Bosso in the southeast and killing 32 soldiers. 50,000 civilians fled.

After arriving in 2014, Ali found work in Diffa fixing motorcycles, but then they were banned to prevent attackers using them to make a getaway. Moumouni, a mason, began bringing him along to construction sites but now few people are building due to the constant threat of violence.

And still more people are fleeing. “More displacement means less capacity to absorb those displaced,” said Arjika Barke, International Rescue Committee coordinator in Diffa. “There are now areas that are saturated.”

This is raising tensions. Deadly violence broke out last month in one village between nomadic Fulani herdsmen and members of the Buduma ethnic group, who left their Lake Chad island homes last year following Boko Haram attacks there.

The cause was a dispute over access to a well being used by both displaced villagers and livestock.

“These groups lived together in peace before,” said Lamido Souley Mani Orthe, a Fulani chief.

The government is drilling more wells to defuse tensions, but Aboubacar Halilou of the conflict resolution charity Search for Common Ground says risks are growing as resources become increasingly scarce. “Both sides are arming now. Boko Haram and ethnic fighting – the two conflicts are linked,” he said.

Still, those with the least to offer stand ready to help.

Since the Bosso attack last month, Ali has let 45 new arrivals camp on the dusty ground of the courtyard Moumouni gave him. “These people who are here, we are obliged to care for them,” he said. “We can’t not help them.”

(Editing by Tim Cocks and David Stamp)

U.S. allies tighten grip around Islamic State stronghold in Syria

Syrian Democratic Forces manning anti-aircraft weapon

By John Davison and Ahmed Rasheed

BEIRUT/BAGHDAD – (Reuters) – U.S.-backed militia drew within firing distance of the last road into an Islamic State stronghold in northern Syria on Thursday, part of a wave of new offensives putting unprecedented pressure on the self-declared caliphate.

The effective encirclement of Manbij by a militia called the Syria Democratic Forces is part of an assault launched last week, backed by U.S. air power and American special forces, to seal off the last stretch of Syrian-Turkish frontier.

It marks the most ambitious advance by a group allied to Washington in Syria since the United States launched its military campaign against Islamic State two years ago.

Simultaneously, Russia is backing a separate advance by forces of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against Islamic State in another part of the country.

And in Iraq, at the opposite end of Islamic State territory, the Baghdad government has sent forces to try to storm the Islamic State bastion of Falluja, an hour’s drive from Baghdad.

Islamic State has also lost territory in recent weeks to Kurds in northern Iraq and anti-Assad rebels in Syria as its disparate enemies attack on a number of fronts.

But it demonstrated on Thursday it can still mount deadly attacks deep inside the territory of its foes. It claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings that killed at least 24 people in Baghdad, and was presumed to be behind a suicide bombing that killed a Western-backed rebel leader in southern Syria.

A five-year-old multi-sided civil war in Syria and a weak government in Iraq have made it impossible to wage a single coordinated campaign against the militants. But Washington and other powers hope this year will see the tide turn against Islamic State, which has ruled over millions of people in Iraq and Syria since declaring its caliphate in 2014.


In Syria, Washington has long lacked capable proxies on the ground, but has found its first strong allies in the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), formed last year by recruiting Arabs to join forces with a powerful Kurdish militia.

The SDF launched its new offensive last week against the city of Manbij, Islamic State’s main bastion near the Syria-Turkish border west of the Euphrates River.

The overall aim is to shut the Turkish-Syrian frontier, which has served for years as Islamic State’s only major route to the outside world for manpower and material, and more recently for followers returning to Europe to carry out attacks.

An SDF spokesman said on Thursday his group had reached the last road into Manbij from the west, having previously cut off supply routes from north, south and east.

“We have reached the road that links Manbij and Aleppo, from the west,” Sharfan Darwish, spokesman for the Syria Democratic Forces-allied Manbij Military Council, told Reuters.

A monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, confirmed that the SDF had advanced to within firing distance of the western road, positioned within a kilometer of it, and were now in effective control of all routes into the city. Civilians in the city and surrounding countryside were fleeing.

Darwish would not comment on whether the SDF was planning an assault on the city itself. He told Reuters on Wednesday forces was poised to enter, but were being cautious due to the civilian presence there.

In southern Syria, where a range of anti-Assad rebel groups include Western-backed nationalists, one of the founders of a rebel alliance called the Free Syrian Army’s Southern Front was killed by a suicide bomber suspected to belong to Islamic State.

Saleem Bakour, a colonel in the Syrian army who defected to the rebels, had led rebels in battle against Islamic State fighters who pushed south after being driven out of the city of Palmyra by Russian-backed government forces in March.

“The martyr was one of the toughest leaders who fought Daesh (Islamic State). We are committed to fighting them to the end,” Southern Front spokesman Issam el-Rayyes said.


In Iraq, Islamic State claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings that killed at least 24 people in Baghdad on Thursday. Such bombings have become frequent again in the capital in recent weeks, after months in which security there had improved despite Islamic State’s control of swathes of territory in the provinces.

The deteriorating security in the capital prompted Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to order an assault on Falluja, Islamic State’s closest bastion to the capital, two weeks ago. It began in earnest last week with troops sweeping into southern rural districts, and they entered the built-up areas of the city for the first time this week.

The Iraq assault on Falluja has the support of U.S. air power, but veers from Washington’s battle plan, which called for the government to focus its forces on Mosul, Islamic State’s de facto Iraqi capital further north.

Falluja, where U.S. forces fought the heaviest battles of their own 2003-2011 occupation of Iraq, has long been a stronghold of Sunni Muslim insurgents opposed to the Shi’ite-led government in Baghdad.

Washington fears a sustained campaign in Falluja could bog down the army in hostile territory and delay the recapture of Mosul.

(Additional reporting by Suleiman al-Khalidi in Amman; writing by Peter Graff; editing by Andrew Roche)

World ‘greatly worried’ on China’s maritime expansion, says Japan

Still image from United States Navy video purportedly shows Chinese dredging vessels in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, speaking ahead of a visit to Beijing, said on Monday China was making the world “worried” with its military buildup and maritime expansion in the East and South China Seas.

Ties between China and Japan, the world’s second- and third-largest economies, have long been plagued by a territorial dispute, regional rivalry and the legacy of Japan’s World War Two aggression.

China and Japan dispute sovereignty over a group of uninhabited East China Sea islets, while in the South China Sea, Beijing is building islands on reefs to bolster its claims.

China has rattled nerves with its military and construction activities on the islands in the South China Sea, including building runways, though Beijing says most of what it is building is for civilian purposes, like lighthouses.

“Candidly speaking, a rapid and opaque increase in (China’s) military spending and unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas under the aim of building a strong maritime state are having not only people in Japan, but countries in the Asia-Pacific region and the international community worried greatly,” Kishida said in a speech to business leaders.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims to parts of the waters, through which about $5 trillion in trade is shipped every year.

Kishida plans to visit China as early as Japan’s “Golden Week” extended holiday, which starts on Friday.

“Through candid dialogue with the Chinese side, I want to get the wheel turning to create the Sino-Japanese relations that are suitable for a new age,” he said.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Nick Macfie)

World shows solidarity, tightens security after Paris attacks

LONDON (Reuters) – World leaders responded to Friday’s bloody attacks in Paris with outrage and defiant pledges of solidarity, but several countries said they would tighten security, especially at their borders, and a few urged their citizens not to travel to France.

Islamic State claimed responsibility on Saturday for the coordinated assault by gunmen and bombers that killed 127 people across Paris. President Francois Hollande said the attacks amounted to an act of war against France.

Several countries said they had stepped up their own security in response to the attacks, including Belgium and Switzerland, which border France. France’s neighbor to the south, Spain, said it was maintaining its state of alert at level 4 on a five-point scale.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the Netherlands would tighten security at its borders and airports, and said the Dutch were “at war” with Islamic State.

“Our values and our rule of law are stronger than their fanaticism,” he said.

Belgium imposed additional frontier controls on road, rail and air arrivals from France and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel asked Belgians on Saturday not to travel to Paris unless necessary. Hong Kong also issued a travel alert for France.

Bulgaria imposed additional frontier controls on road and transit traffic.

London Metropolitan Police Service’s assistant commissioner Mark Rowley told the BBC that policing across Britain would be strengthened but said there would be no change to the threat level which currently stood at the second-highest category.

New York, Boston and other cities in the United States bolstered security on Friday night, but law enforcement officials said the beefed-up police presence was precautionary rather than a response to any specific threats.

The United States and Russia, divided on many issues including the war in Syria that has fueled Islamist violence, voiced their support for the French people on Friday night.

“Once again we’ve seen an outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians,” U.S. President Barack Obama said. “We stand prepared and ready to provide whatever assistance that the government and the people of France need.”

“Those who think that they can terrorize the people of France or the values that they stand for are wrong,” Obama said.



Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to Hollande and all the people of France following the “horrible terrorist attacks in Paris”, the Kremlin said in a statement.

“Russia strongly condemns this inhumane killing and is ready to provide any and all assistance to investigate these terrorist crimes.”

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Egypt stood in solidarity with France and supported counter-terrorism efforts.

“Terrorism recognizes no boundaries or religion, and claims the lives of innocent people in different parts of the world,” a statement from the presidency’s office said.

Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body condemned the attacks as contrary to Islamic values.

“Terrorists are not sanctioned by Islam and these acts are contrary to values of mercy it brought to the world,” said a statement by the Council of Senior Scholars carried by the Saudi Press Agency on Saturday.

The Western defense alliance NATO said it stood with France, a founder member. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, “We stand strong and united in the fight against terrorism. Terrorism will never defeat democracy.”

In Brussels the leaders of European Union institutions, which have been trying to coordinate security responses since the Islamist attacks in Paris in January, joined the chorus of support.

“I am confident the authorities and the French people will overcome this new trial,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said.

But in a sign of potential divisions ahead, Poland’s European affairs minister designate said after the attacks in Paris, Warsaw would not be able to accept migrants under European Union quotas.

In September, Poland backed a European Union plan to share out 120,000 refugees, many of them fleeing the war in Syria, across the 28-nation bloc.

Now, “in the face of the tragic acts in Paris, we do not see the political possibilities to implement (this),” said Konrad Szymanski, who takes up his position on Monday as part of a government formed by last month’s election winner, the conservative and euroskeptic Law and Justice (PiS) party.


(Writing by Alastair Macdonald and Sonya Hepinstall; Editing by Giles Elgood)

China Jolts World Markets with Yuan Devaluation

China’s central bank announced they devalued the country’s currency by 2%, causing the biggest one day loss in the currency trade for the Yuan in decades and showing the second-largest economy in the world continues to struggle.

The move is causing major concern among traders around the world that other nations will begin to devalue their currencies in an attempt to gain advantage in a slower trade market.

“In terms of competitive forces, this raises the stakes. This isn’t a war per se but about maintaining competitiveness. A lot of significant emerging markets have been using this valve,” said Andre da Silva, global head of interest rate strategy at HSBC Holdings, referring to currency devaluations.

“The yuan exchange rate will be more market-oriented going forward,” Zhou Hao, an economist at Commerzbank in Singapore, wrote in a report. “Volatility of both the onshore and offshore rates will pick up significantly.”

The move by China caused the Dow Jones Industrial Average to fall over 200 points.  Apple fell more than 4 percent and Caterpillar fell more than 3.5 percent because of the Yuan’s impact on the profits of those multinational corporations.

Analysts say that Apple was a target of the move because the decline helps Apple’s Chinese rivals.

“Chinese tech companies across sectors are all pushing out into the world,” said Xiang Ligang, chief executive of Chinese telecommunications industry website “The yuan devaluation will make these products that much more competitive overseas.”

Greece No Vote Would Mean Euro Exit

European Union financial experts say that if Greece’s voters reject a referendum on the nation’s debt this Sunday it would mean the nation leaves the Euro.

Greece shut down the nation’s banks on Monday after a weekend run on ATMs caused many to run out of cash.  A strict limit on ATM transactions has been put in place by the government through Thursday.

The shut down of banks and the stock markets in the nation will last at least through the Sunday vote.

Greek leadership was defiant in the fact of default and the EU no longer providing bailout funds to the nation.

“The decision not to prolong financial aid to Greece is offensive, and it’s a disgrace for Europe in general,” Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in a national address.

The country’s poorer neighbors, however, are showing little sympathy for Greece’s plight.

“We are much poorer than the Greeks but we have performed reforms,” Rosen Plevneliev, the president of Bulgaria said. “When you have a problem, you have to address it and not shift it to Brussels or onto somebody else.”

The country’s actions have carried negative impact on world financial markets.  World stock markets all took sharp dives at their openings which carried throughout the day; the euro tumbled on world currency markets.

JBS Special News Report: Naghmeh Abedini Rallies World Leaders For Husband

Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of wrongfully imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini, has been traveling the world meeting with leaders asking them to pressure the Iranian government for her husband’s release with the help of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).

JBS News writer, Jason Wert, recently had the honor of interviewing Tiffany Barrans of the ACLJ. Barrans has been at Naghmeh’s side since 30 hours after Saeed was imprisoned by the Iranians and has traveled with Naghmeh around the world.

Tiffany spoke with USA Headline News about their travels and the reception of world leaders, including a trip last week to the European Parliament, Germany and then yesterday in front of the U.S. Congress.

Q: What kind of reception did you receive from European Leaders?

Barrans: We had an incredible reception both at the European Parliament and with every member of the German government that we met.  Individuals at the Foreign Ministry, the top leaders, the people in the party who were second in command to Chancellor Angela Merkel.

It is always amazing to me how in touch Europe is with the issues of religious freedom in particular and more broadly with human rights.  And they look for ways to make sure their actions match their words.  Something I hope we can improve upon here in the United States!  We truly had a great reception from everybody.

Q: Given that America and Europe do not have the best relationship right now, have you found some countries do not want to become involved because Saeed is an American?

Barrans: It’s always a touchy subject, obviously.  There are some countries that hesitate to get involved because he is an American.  Sometimes it’s related to their relationship with the American government and sometimes it’s because they’re concerned he may have been a spy!

Luckily for us, the Iranian government came out very quickly in their state controlled media and said that [Saeed] was not being considered a spy so we can quickly nip that one and move on.

Germany in particular, the Netherlands has been great as well, has a real heart for those who have been persecuted for their faith and have been active in this field.

Q:  This may seem out of left field, but do you think perhaps the legacy of the Holocaust is what contributes to Germany’s passion for religious freedom?

Barrans: I don’t think that’s out of left field, I think that’s right on!  A lot of them would even admit that themselves.  There are so many in current generations that centuries of trying to right that wrong are necessary and even then, you can’t.  So they’re very sensitive to those who are persecuted, on religious grounds in particular.  It’s also in many businesses whose equipment was used for medical experiments.  So that’s why you see Germany taking a lead on religious freedom issues.

Q:  How is Naghmeh holding up?

Barrans:  I’ve been with Naghmeh since 30 hours after her husband was taken the summer of 2012.  So I’ve walked with her very closely through this process.  It never ceases to amaze me the strength that the Lord gives her.  It truly is a divine thing for her to walk in peace.

I see those moments when we travel together, when we’re tired, when something bad happens when I get that 3:30 in the morning call when she’s broken because she’s human just like the rest of us.  But her faith has always encouraged me and strengthened my faith, to be honest.

It’s hard for me to watch her to have to console her two young children who fear when she leaves to advocate for Saeed and to bring their daddy home that they’re concerned that she won’t come home.  That like their daddy she will go to do good and not come home.

But her faith always encouraged me.

Q:  We spoke with Naghmeh after she met with the President in Idaho about her husband’s situation and how the President told her son that he would try to bring him home by his birthday.

Barrans:  Naghmeh tells the story of six-year-old Jacob, her son,  at his birthday in March.  When he met the President at the end of January he said “Mister President, will you bring my daddy home for my birthday?”  And the President looked him in the eye and said “Well son, when’s your birthday?” and Jacob said “March 17th!”  You know, a very strong little boy.  And the President said “oh, that’s very soon but I will try, I will try.”

In the heart and the mind of a little boy, if I can speak with the President of the United States then of course my daddy is coming home.  And he woke up on March 17th on his birthday and he ran around the house looking for his daddy and his hopes were just crushed when he wasn’t there.

You think of it through the experience of a child that age and realize that he’s lived almost half of his life without his father.  It’s very difficult and then imagine being the mom who is missing her husband and trying to insure that her children are still living a life that is whole and complete when something so large is missing.

Q:  Naghmeh spoke before a Congressional committee on Tuesday.  What kind of reception did she receive from the committee?

Barrans: I have never seen a Congress so unified on something to be quite honest.  Religious liberty is something that they should be, to be quite honest.  But as you had the family members of the four held captive in Iran and the pain they experience there was such an incredible reaction from Congress.

You saw Democrats, in some cases for the first time, asking how they can consent to the nuclear deal and trust Iran with something as important as a nuclear deal when they’re violating their own law and international law very publicly by holding these Americans?

That’s incredible in that we haven’t necessarily heard that before loudly from the party but it was great to see the Dems taking that position as well as the Republicans at the hearing.