Connect with us

Government

Irma Zeroes in on Florida With $200 Billion Damage Bill Forecast

Published

on

Harvey
  • Irma Zeroes in on Florida With $200 Billion Damage Bill Forecast

Hurricane Irma was strengthening ahead of an all-but-certain collision with southern Florida after devastating the Caribbean islands and threatening to become the most expensive storm in U.S. history.

With top winds of 155 miles (249 kilometers) an hour, the life-threatening storm grew in size, meaning most of Florida will face hurricane-force winds as it cuts a path through the peninsula into Georgia. Now a Category 4 system, Irma is forecast to regain power through Sunday when it may reach Category 5 again, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said late Friday. It has already left at least 21 people dead, thousands homeless across the Caribbean and threatens to rack up as much as $200 billion in damages.

“Much of Florida, especially the southern half, is in for a really long and horrible day on Sunday,” said Todd Crawford, lead meteorologist at The Weather Company in Andover, Massachusetts. Another example of “the power of nature on a heavily populated part of the U.S. coastline is imminent, and the costs will be great.”

Mandatory evacuations were issued across Florida, with around 650,000 people fleeing Miami-Dade as part of the largest evacuation the county’s ever attempted. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate was evacuated, along with the rest of Palm Beach.

“Prepare for the worst possible,” Trump said Friday as he boarded Marine One, bound for Camp David.

Irma is one of three hurricanes churning in the Atlantic Basin. Jose, the third major one of the 2017 season with top winds of 150 miles per hour, is forecast to turn northeast and miss the U.S. In the Gulf of Mexico, Katia was expected to come ashore in Mexico by early Saturday, delivering a dangerous storm surge. The country was just struck by a powerful earthquake on Friday, shaking buildings in the capital and triggering a tsunami warning.

Irma’s hurricane-force winds now extend for 140 miles, creating a danger zone that would reach from West Palm Beach on the Atlantic coast to Fort Myers on the Gulf of Mexico. That’s an “insurance industry nightmare” as every county in the state could see damaged roofs and power outages so vast it overwhelms repair efforts, said Chuck Watson, a Savannah, Georgia-based disaster modeler with Enki Research.

Damages could easily top $135 billion in Florida, with other economic losses pushing the price tag as high as $200 billion, Watson said. Preliminary estimates show losses across the Caribbean nearing $10 billion. CoreLogic said 8.5 million properties in Florida may be damaged by Irma’s winds.

Total losses from Katrina reached $160 billion in 2017 dollars after it slammed into New Orleans in 2005.

“Wind damage is totally going to throw a wrench into the insurance industry,” Watson said. “You are talking about companies failing.”

About 9 million of Florida’s 20.6 million people may lose power, according to the state’s largest utility Florida Power & Light Co. Irma may also curb natural gas demand in one of the largest U.S. markets and threaten $1.2 billion worth of crops.

Officials were taking steps to ensure adequate supplies of gasoline after residents filled up cars, boats and back-up generators ahead of the storm. “We’re bringing in as much supply of refined fuel as possible,” White House Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert said Friday.

Irma was 315 miles southeast of Miami and is forecast to approach the north coast of Cuba and the central Bahamas before striking southern Florida Sunday morning, the hurricane center said.

The hurricane comes just two weeks after Harvey smashed ashore in Texas, knocking offline almost a quarter of U.S. oil refining capacity and causing widespread power outages and flooding.

In other storm news:

  • One of the biggest evacuations of aircraft on record is under way as owners move planes out of Irma’s path.
  • Comcast Corp.’s Universal Parks and Resorts division closed three theme parks in Orlando, and Walt Disney World Resort will shut early Saturday.
  • The storm is threatening the two biggest fuel-sucking ports in Florida: Tampa and Port Everglades.
  • Gasoline demand surged in Florida ahead of the storm, and the U.S. is allowing foreign flag vessels to bring in fuel to help with shortages

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

Published

on

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

Continue Reading

Government

China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

Published

on

China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

Continue Reading

Government

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

Published

on

President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

Continue Reading

Trending