President Trump has asked officials to identify $200bn dollars-worth of Chinese goods to be subject to a 10% tariff in what is becoming an increasingly bitter trade war.
It follows last Friday’s decision to to impose 25% tariffs on $50bn of Chinese products.
Beijing immediately retaliated, matching the US levy. That has prompted Mr Trump to up the ante once more in what he regards as an unfair balance in trade between the two superpowers.
The trade relationship between the United States and China must be much more equitable
In a statement he said: “This latest action by China clearly indicates its determination to keep the United States at a permanent and unfair disadvantage, which is reflected in our massive $376bn trade imbalance in goods. This is unacceptable.
“Further action must be taken to encourage China to change its unfair practices, open its market to United States goods, and accept a more balanced trade relationship with the United States.
“Therefore, today, I directed the United States Trade Representative to identify $200bn worth of Chinese goods for additional tariffs at a rate of 10%.
“After the legal process is complete, these tariffs will go into effect if China refuses to change its practices, and also if it insists on going forward with the new tariffs that it has recently announced.
“If China increases its tariffs yet again, we will meet that action by pursuing additional tariffs on another $200bn of goods. The trade relationship between the United States and China must be much more equitable.”
The increasingly bitter trading relationship between the US and China comes less than a fortnight after a fractious G7 summit where Mr Trump’s use of tariffs, both against China and on steel and aluminium imports from the EU, Canada and Mexico, was roundly criticised.
Offers of a place on a university course should not be made on the basis of “highly inaccurate predicted grades” according to the University and College Union (UCU).
Currently, places on degree courses are allocated on what the student is expected to get at A-level, not what they actually achieve.
UCU claims that the UK is the only nation which uses predicted grades, with research suggesting as few as one in six A-level grade predictions is correct.
It says the system encourages the use of unconditional offers, which can lead to students working less hard for their A-levels and achieving lower than expected grades as a result.
The UCU report is based on research into university admissions in 29 countries, plus England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
It concludes that offers should be made once A-level results are revealed.
:: Top A-level grades up as university applications fall
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “We are alone in the world in using a system where students are offered university places based on highly inaccurate predicted grades.
“Unconditional offers have made a mockery of exams and led to inflated grade predictions, while putting students under enormous pressure to make a snap decision about their future.
“The simplest and fairest way to deal with these problems is for us to adopt a system of post-qualification admissions, where offers are based on actual achievement rather than estimated potential, as the rest of the world does.
“It’s time for the Government to give the system the urgent overhaul it needs.”
:: Think A-levels are easy? Try these questions
Organisations representing senior school staff have supported the report’s findings.
Malcolm Trobe, from the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “ASCL echoes the concerns in this report about the use of predicted grades to award university places and calls on the Government to review the system urgently.
“Out of date and no longer fit for purpose, it is a historical quirk which is not mirrored in other countries and creates unnecessary problems.
“In particular, we are extremely concerned about the rising number of unconditional offers made to students before they have taken their A-levels.
“This practice can demotivate students and lead to under-performance in these important qualifications which disadvantages them if prospective future employers take their A-level grades into account.
“Moving to a system of post-qualifications admissions would end the practice of unconditional offers.
The life of US rapper XXXTentacion, who was shot dead outside a motorcycle dealership on Monday, was as grim and confusing as his music was compelling.
Born Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy in south Florida, he had a troubled upbringing that was often punctuated by violence.
His mother was a teenager when he was born and flitted in and out of his life. Despite that, he was fiercely protective of her, once claiming that when he was just six years old he “bit [the] flesh out” of a man who laid his hands on her.
He was later expelled from middle school for fighting, but he soon channelled his energy and fury into music.
The 20-year-old became the most popular artist in the genre known as SoundCloud Rap, defined by its languid, hazy beats and wide-ranging influences – comprising everything from hardcore hip-hop to grunge and indie.
From the outset XXXTentacion’s songs were visceral and abrupt. His breakout single Look At Me! sounded like it was being played through a smashed-up phone speaker – but he was also capable of disarming fragility and tenderness.
On his debut album, 17, he talked sensitively about depression and mental anguish, largely forsaking hip-hop beats for acoustic guitars and smudged, sullen melodies.
Rapper Kendrick Lamar was one of many high-profile supporters, tweeting “listen to this album if you feel anything. raw thoughts” – and the record peaked at number two on the US charts.
His surging popularity was noted by the music industry and, by October 2017, he had scored a distribution agreement reportedly worth $6 million (£4.5m) between his own record label and Caroline Records, which also represents Van Morrison and Chrissie Hynde.
But the teenager’s career was already being overshadowed by his legal problems, including charges of aggravated battery of a pregnant woman, domestic battery by strangulation and, later, witness tampering.
Onfroy laughed off the allegations in a profanity-strewn tirade on social media, calling the charges “fabricated” and pledging to donate $100,000 to domestic violence-prevention programmes (it is unclear whether the payment ever materialised).
He also continued to court controversy, releasing a provocative music video earlier this year in which, to make a point about racism, he put a noose around the neck of a young white child. He later gave an interview in which he argued against feminism.
Fans were apparently unswayed by – or attracted to – the star’s tribulations; sending his latest album ? to number one in the US. The album also produced his only UK hit, a desolate heartbreak song called SAD.
The star’s manager reflected that Onfroy’s volatile life was what made his music so compelling. “He’s just a young kid that was lost and needed a chance in life,” Solomon Sobande told Billboard magazine last year.
“So much stuff around him touched my heart. I just came to the point like, ‘I gotta help this kid.'”
However, many found it impossible to separate his music from his actions; and Spotify briefly blacklisted Onfroy’s songs from its service earlier this year.
His death in an apparent drive-by shooting will undoubtedly reignite interest in the star’s all-too-brief career.
New listeners will hear his pain and the all-too-familiar price of neglect and deprivation – but they should also take time to question why violence is so frequently used to signify credibility in music.
US President Donald Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on an additional $200bn (£151bn) of Chinese goods in a growing trade row.
Mr Trump said the 10% tariffs would come into effect if China “refuses to change its practices”.
The move would be a major escalation of the dispute, which threatens to take the US and China into a trade war.
Mr Trump insists that China has been unfairly benefitting from a trade imbalance with the US for years.
Last week, he announced the US would impose 25% tariffs on $50bn worth of Chinese goods.
Beijing responded by saying it would hit 659 US products worth $50bn – including agricultural products, cars and marine products – with a similar tax.
Mr Trump said that by retaliating, China was “threatening United States companies, workers, and farmers who have done nothing wrong”.
Stock markets had already fallen on Monday amid fears of further deterioration of US-China trade relations
What is a trade war and why should I worry?
China vows fast response to US tariffs
The US president released a statement on Monday night saying he had asked his trade advisers to identify additional Chinese products on which to impose new tariffs.
“These tariffs will go into effect if China refuses to change its practices, and also if it insists on going forward with the new tariffs that it has recently announced,” he said.
“If China increases its tariffs yet again, we will meet that action by pursuing additional tariffs on another $200 billion of goods. The trade relationship between the United States and China must be much more equitable.”
G7 summit ends in disarray over tariffs
US tariffs a dangerous game, says EU
The US tariffs already announced affect more than 800 Chinese products worth $34bn in annual trade. They are due to come into effect on 6 July.
The product lines range from aircraft tyres to turbines and commercial dishwashers.
The White House said it would consult on tariffs on the further $16bn of products, and would apply these later.
The US wants China to stop practices that allegedly encourage transfer of intellectual property – design and product ideas – to Chinese companies, such as requirements that foreign firms share ownership with local partners to access the Chinese market.
However, many economists and businesses in the US say the tariffs are likely to hurt some of the sectors the administration is trying to protect, which depend on China for parts or assembly.
The US announced plans for tariffs this spring, after an investigation into China’s intellectual property practices.
Passengers on Northern Rail services are facing further disruption with a fresh strike in a long-running dispute over guards on trains.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union are staging a 24-hour stoppage, with further walkouts planned for Thursday and Saturday.
The company said it would run as many services as possible between 07:00 and 19:00 BST.
The union claims imposing driver-only services is a risk to public safety.
Regional director for Northern, Sharon Keith, said: “On each day of the strike action we will be running fewer services and expect those services we do operate to be extremely busy.
“It is, therefore, vital that anyone thinking of travelling with Northern on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday plans their journey carefully.”
Workers strike again in train safety row
Rail strike go ahead as talks fail
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It’s another day and another rail scandal under [Transport Secretary] Chris Grayling.
“Instead of propping up a foreign owned company in its fight against British workers, Chris Grayling should be allowing meaningful discussions to take place which would allow passengers to keep a second member of staff on every train.”
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “This dispute is not about jobs or safety. Guards have been guaranteed their jobs and the independent rail regulator has ruled that driver-controlled trains, which have been used in this country for 30 years, are safe.
“We urge the union to abandon these strikes, work with the train operator and make passengers’ services their number one priority.”
RMT members on South Western Railway will strike for three days from Thursday in the same dispute.
Some of the UK’s biggest water companies did not properly support customers during this winter’s Beast from the East snow chaos, causing “significant hardship”, Ofwat has said.
The regulator said more than 200,000 customers were left without water for more than four hours and tens of thousands were cut off for days.
It accused firms of bad planning, communication and a lack of support.
Severn Trent, South East, Southern and Thames Water performed worst, it found.
The regulator also said it was concerned the £7m of compensation paid out to customers may not have been enough and that it would review existing guidelines.
Ofwat chief executive Rachel Fletcher said: “The freeze and rapid thaw earlier this year was forecast and was not unprecedented.
“But too many companies were caught off guard and let people down, causing real hardship as a result. Our report shows there is no excuse for this level of failure.”
The icy spell in late February and early March led to a big increase in the number of burst water mains and in customers’ own water pipes as frozen pipes thawed.
But Ofwat said that while suppliers’ frontline staff worked tirelessly to fix the issues, higher up some firms lacked proper emergency response plans.
Citing survey data from the Consumer Council for Water, Ofwat identified common failings, including:
Almost three-quarters of customers whose water supply was disrupted did not receive alternative supplies of water
There was limited or inaccurate data on where problems were occurring and whether they had been resolved
Only 60% of affected customers received direct communication from their supplier
Stakeholders such as councils, schools and emergency services received “little or no” proactive communication “before, during or after the event”.
“In some cases, customers were left to fend for themselves, or depend upon the support of local bodies or volunteers,” it added.
Ofwat said all water companies in England and Wales needed to improve, but it has asked Severn Trent, South East, Southern and Thames Water to publish action plans by 28 September setting out how they would do better next time.
Big thaw leaves thousands without water
No water? Can you claim compensation?
“We will take action if they don’t rise to this challenge,” Ofwat said of the four.
It also said current compensation arrangements “were not reflective” of the impact on customers of being without water for a prolonged period. As such, it will consult on tougher rules obliging firms to provide customers with “resilient supplies”.
In a statement issued on behalf of the four worst performers, industry body Water UK said fewer than 3% of all customers in England and Wales were affected by supply disruptions during the extreme weather.
However, it acknowledged significant numbers had experienced “disruption and hardship”.
A spokesman for Severn Trent said: “We’d like to apologise again to our customers who were affected during the extreme weather in March. Customers rightly expect water whenever they need it, and we’ve been working hard since March to make improvements to our incident response processes.”
Steve Robertson, boss of Thames Water, said: “I am pleased Ofwat has recognised that frontline staff worked tirelessly in extreme circumstances to restore customer supplies. As the report notes, we rapidly increased water production by 15% to minimise disruption.”
He said the scale of leaks and bursts was “the worst in living memory” but added: “We’re really sorry we could not protect those customers impacted.”
Labour has been putting pressure on the government to tackle what it describes as “scandalous” profits made by private water companies.
In February, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said suppliers had paid out £13.5bn in dividends to shareholders since 2010, while claiming tax breaks and pushing up prices for millions of consumers.
The party has pledged to renationalise water, energy and rail companies if it wins the next election.
However, the government said the plan would cost taxpayers billions of pounds and lead to worse services.
Former Conservative leader Lord Hague has called for a “decisive change” in the law on cannabis – suggesting that the Tories should consider legalising recreational use of the drug.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said “any war” has been “irreversibly lost”.
Lord Hague goes further than senior Tories who have suggested a law change after a boy with epilepsy was given a special licence to use cannabis oil.
The government is creating an expert panel to look into individual cases.
Last week officials at Heathrow Airport confiscated Billy Caldwell’s cannabis oil, which the 12-year-old’s mother Charlotte had been attempting to bring into the UK from Canada.
The Home Office returned some of the medicine after protests from Ms Caldwell, and assurances from the medical team treating Billy that the treatment was necessary.
Billy was discharged from hospital on Monday, but will continue to be treated with the oil.
Lord Hague said the episode “provides one of those illuminating moments when a longstanding policy is revealed to be inappropriate, ineffective and utterly out of date”.
By returning the medicine, the Home Office had “implicitly conceded that the law has become indefensible”, he said.
Lord Hague said licensing cannabis for medical use would be a “step forward”, but also said the Conservatives should be as “bold” as Canada where state-regulated recreational consumption is being considered.
‘Multi-billion pound black market’
Currently, cannabis is a Class B drug, with penalties for possession of up to five years in prison.
Lord Hague’s remarks mark a significant change of heart – as Tory leader between 1997 and 2001, he called for a tough approach to drug law enforcement.
But, in a message to his party colleagues, he said: “We are pragmatists, who change with society and revise our opinions when the facts change. On this issue, the facts have changed very seriously and clearly.”
“As far as marijuana, or cannabis, is concerned, any war has been comprehensively and irreversibly lost,” he said.
It was “nothing short of deluded” to think the drug could be driven off the streets, and he compared ordering the police to crack down on its use to “asking the army to recover the Empire. This battle is effectively over”.
He said the fact that cannabis was both illegal and widely available effectively permitted “the worst of all worlds” to arise: encouraging more potent and dangerous variants of the drug, with users reluctant to seek help.
“The overall result is the rise of a multi-billion pound black market for an unregulated and increasingly potent product, creating more addiction and mental health problems but without any enforceable policy to do something about it.
“The only beneficiaries are organised crime gangs. It is absolutely unacceptable to allow this situation to continue.”
In his article, Lord Hague said under successive governments it has been assumed that there has been little alternative to trying to win a war on drugs, cannabis included.
He said: “Taking an alternative view has been regarded as indicating a tendency to weird, irresponsible or crazily liberal opinions.
“It’s time to acknowledge facts, and to embrace a decisive change that would be economically and socially beneficial, as well as rather liberating for Conservatives in showing sensible new opinions are welcome.”
‘Useful medical properties’
Many other countries, including much of the US, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, have legalised the use of medicinal cannabis.
On Monday, asked about the Billy Caldwell case, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it was obvious the government was not “getting the law on this kind of thing right” and suggested a review would take place “as quickly as possible”.
The government is creating an expert panel to look into individual cases where the use of medicinal cannabis has been recommended.
Asked later about the government’s position, Prime Minister Theresa May said there was a “very good reason” for the current rules on cannabis – “because of the impact that they have on people’s lives”.
She said a system was already in place for medicinal use, and that government policy would be driven by “what clinicians are saying”.
In suggesting the recreational use of cannabis should be made legal, Lord Hague has gone further than his fellow senior Conservatives who have called for a change in the law on the use of medicinal cannabis.
On Sunday, Sir Mike Penning, who chairs an all-party parliamentary group looking at medical cannabis, said the Caldwell case proved the existing laws were “bizarre and cruel”, and added that “fundamental reform of the system” was needed.
Fellow Conservative Crispin Blunt MP, co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on drug policy reform, said the existing law was “frankly absurd”.
Ex-Tory health minister Dan Poulter said the current situation was “ridiculous” and pledged to push for a law change.
Raising an urgent question on the issue in the Commons on Monday, Gower MP Tonia Antoniazzi said there were two children – aged six and one – in her constituency who have a serious life-limiting condition and could “benefit hugely” from medicinal cannabis.
Other MPs also raised cases, while the shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said the current system – even with the new expert panel announced – is “simply not fit for purpose” and called for the legalisation of cannabis oil for medical use.
Cannabis and the law
Cannabis is a Class B drug – it’s illegal to possess, give away or sell, including for pain relief.
The penalty for possession is up to five years in prison.
Supplying attracts a sentence of up to 14 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
According to Home Office statistics, cannabis was the most commonly used drug in the UK in 2016-17, with 6.6% of adults aged 16 to 59 having used it. That’s about 2.2 million people.
A father-of-four who survived prostate cancer has said he is “fortunate” to be alive after an MRI scan spotted the disease before it developed.
Sion Brynach, from Cardiff, is now calling for more men to get access to a pre-biopsy scan to give them more of a chance at life.
It comes as a new report shows Wales is lagging behind in access to mpMRI scans – which can detect the disease better.
The Welsh Government said the use of mpMRI was under review.
The Multiparametic MRI (mpMRI) scan, which is done before a biopsy, is able to boost detection of prostate cancer.
In England, an NHS trial is under way to cut prostate cancer diagnosis times from six weeks to a matter of days using the scan.
But in Wales only three out of seven Welsh health boards provide the scan, as it is not currently recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE).
It is available in Cardiff and Vale, Aneurin Bevan and Cwm Taf health boards, but not in north Wales.
According to a report by charity Prostate Cancer UK, detection in Wales is lagging behind when compared to that in England where 92% of areas provide mpMRI before biopsy, 60% of which provide the scan to a high standard.
‘It’s a very striking experience’
Last November Mr Brynach was sat in his office when he got a call telling him he had a tumour.
He was 49-years-old.
Luckily his prostate cancer was diagnosed before it had developed to a stage where it could not be treated – after he had an MRI scan despite a blood test showing that things were normal.
He now wants to see all men to have the chance to access the latest technology to detect the cancer sooner, saying the PSA test, which involves taking a patients blood to measure the amount of prostate-specific antigen, was “unreliable”.
“You always want there to be a universal access to these sorts of scans,” he said.
“I had my MRI scan before my biopsy, which was fortunate.
“The more it is available to everyone, the better. Technology moves on so quickly – things are different in just six months – so you want people to have access to the latest technology when it comes to their health.”
Charity Prostate Cancer UK said the “inequality in access cannot be allowed to continue.”
The Welsh Government said while NICE do not currently recommend a pre-biopsy MRI scan, this was under review and if the position changed health boards would be expected to provide it.
A spokesman added: “Health boards are already considering the potential impact of the revised guideline through the Wales Urology Board.”
Raymond Starr, 63, from Colwyn Bay, in Conwy county, paid nearly £900 to have the mpMRI scan after being unable to get it at an NHS hospital in north Wales.
“It came as a shock that I had to pay but I didn’t hesitate,” he said.
“When the pictures came back, it was clear that there was a tumour.”
Cancer survival ‘worse in poorer areas’
Q&A: Cancer in Wales
Just 14-weeks-ago, he went to Liverpool and had keyhole surgery to remove the tumour.
“We’re not greedy,” he added, “We can’t expect this scanner to be in every hospital in north Wales – cost wise you can’t do it – but at the very least, we should have it in the middle.
“I would have gone in a normal MRI scanner if I hadn’t paid and they wouldn’t have got a picture as accurate as they needed.
“The longer you leave it, the worse the result could be.”
Universities in the UK should stop using predicted grades when people are applying for places, say lecturers and head teachers.
A study from the University and College Union says no other developed country uses such a system of forecasts of results for university admissions.
The lecturers say most predicted grades turn out to be incorrect.
Head teachers have backed calls for a change, saying the current approach is “no longer fit for purpose”.
A study from the UCU lecturers’ union has examined admissions systems from 30 major countries and found no others using the UK’s approach of pupils applying on the basis of grades predicted by their teachers.
The UCU also cites research from 2016 suggesting as few as 16% of predictions for three A-levels or equivalent had proved accurate.
Ucas, which operates the admissions system, says the most recent figures suggest predicted grades are usually higher than the actual results – with 73% of applicants performing less well than forecast by their teachers.
The report from lecturers calls for an “urgent overhaul” of the application system, so that pupils would know their actual exam grades before making their final applications.
“We are alone in the world in using a system where students are offered university places based on highly inaccurate predicted grades,” said UCU leader Sally Hunt.
The calls for a review of the application system – and ditching the reliance on predicted grades – was backed by the ASCL head teachers’ union.
“Out of date and no longer fit for purpose, it is a historical quirk which is not mirrored in other countries and creates unnecessary problems,” said Malcolm Trobe, the ASCL’s deputy general secretary.
He said that there might be practical challenges – such as the timetable for applications – “but we do not believe these are insurmountable”.
Under the Labour government in 2004, a review recommended a change so that pupils had their results before applying – on the grounds that it would be fairer for disadvantaged applicants.
Ministers backed the change, but the proposals were never implemented.
The idea was put forward again in 2012 – and once more were not adopted.
Universities UK says the position remained that there were “continuing practical obstacles”.
Clare Marchant, head of Ucas, has spoken against changing the applications timetable.
She said it would mean “structural change to either the secondary or higher education systems”.
And she warned it would be harder for poorer pupils who would have to make decisions after they had finished their exams and left school.
“It was felt that students from disadvantaged backgrounds would be less likely to have access to teachers and support in making application choices,” said Ms Marchant.
The Sutton Trust social mobility charity has said the opposite – with a report saying the current system works against talented, disadvantaged youngsters.
Mr Trobe also warned about the rise in unconditional offers to university applicants – in which universities say they will admit a student regardless of their exam results.
“This practice can demotivate students and lead to underperformance in these important qualifications, which disadvantages them if prospective future employers take their A-level grades into account,” he said.
An Australian court has fined Apple A$9m (£5m;$6.5m) for refusing to fix iPhones and iPads that had been serviced by third parties.
The nation’s consumer watchdog took the tech giant to court last year following complaints from users about faulty devices.
Apple admitted that it misled 275 people about their rights to remedies such as repairs and replacements.
The Federal Court of Australia found those actions breached consumer law.
The investigation followed complaints about Apple’s so-called “error 53”.
The fault rendered iPhones and iPads inoperable, after users downloaded a software update.
But when customers sought repairs, Apple denied some of them assistance because their devices had previously been fixed by a third party, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said.
In many cases, Apple refused remedies even when the third-party repair was for something like a cracked screen and not related to the fault, the ACCC said.
“The court declared the mere fact that an iPhone or iPad had been repaired by someone other than Apple did not, and could not, result in the consumer guarantees ceasing to apply,” Commissioner Sarah Court said on Tuesday.
The watchdog said Apple had contacted about 5,000 customers to compensate them for the error.
In 2016, Apple was forced to issue a fix and apologise for error 53 after similar claims.