White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow speaks during a television interview outside the West Wing of the White House, in Washington, Friday, May 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that the United States and China are stepping back from a possible trade war after two days of talks that produced "meaningful progress." Despite not getting China to agree to trim its overall trade surplus with America by a specific amount, Mnuchin said the U.S. team did get a number of commitments on a framework for reducing the deficit over time, including big increases in purchases of farm products and a doubling of purchases of U.S. energy products. "We are putting the trade war on hold," Mnuchin said on "Fox News Sunday." Because of the progress made in negotiations, Mnuchin said the Trump administration has agreed to put on hold punitive tariffs on up to $150 billion in Chinese products. China had promised to retaliate in a move that threatened a tit-for-tat trade war. Both Mnuchin and Larry Kudlow, head of the president's National Economic Council, said that while China did not agree to meet the $200 billion deficit reduction goal that President Donald Trump has discussed, the Chinese did agree to steps that could ultimately mean big cuts in the trade gap between the two nations. Mnuchin said the actions China has agreed to take as part of the framework the two countries have reached will result in boosting sales of U.S. farm products to China by 35 to 40 percent in this year alone. He said the agreement could result in doubling sales of U.S. energy products, which Mnuchin said could mean an increase in sales of U.S. energy products by $50 billion to $60 billion over the next three to five years. Mnuchin said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross would soon be traveling to China to follow up on the discussions held Thursday and Friday in Washington. On Saturday, the White House issued a joint statement from world's two biggest economic powers in which the U.S. and China pledged to take measures to "substantially reduce" America's massive trade deficit. In the statement, Beijing committed to "significantly increase" its purchases of American goods and services, saying that the increase would "meet the growing consumption needs of the Chinese people and the need for high-quality economic development." The two countries also agreed on "meaningful increases" of U.S. agriculture and energy exports and greater efforts to increase trade in manufactured goods and services. The U.S. said it would send a team to China to work out the details. The statement, however, provided no dollar amounts on how much China might boost its purchases of American products. Kudlow, appearing Sunday on ABC, said that the $200 billion reduction target "interests the president a lot" and that both U.S. and Chinese negotiators have used that figure in the discussions "as a rough ballpark estimate." Last year, the U.S. had a record deficit with China in merchandise trade of $375 billion, the largest with any nation. Trade analysts said it was highly unlikely that China would ever agree to a numerical target for cutting the trade gap, but they said the talks likely were more successful in de-escalating trade tensions. "It is likely that this agreement, weak and vague though it is, will serve as grounds to at least delay the imposition of tariffs," said Eswar Prasad, an economist and trade expert at Cornell University. "The Trump administration seems eager to engineer at minimum a temporary peace with China to ensure a smooth run-up to the Kim-Trump summit in June," Prasad said, referring to the June 12 meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump campaigned in 2016 on a pledge to get tough on China and other U.S. trading partners. He views the massive U.S. trade deficit with China as evidence that Beijing is engaged in abusive trading practices and has outmaneuvered previous U.S. administrations. Last August, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer began an investigation into Beijing's strong-arm tactics to challenge U.S. technological dominance. These include outright cybertheft of U.S. companies' trade secrets and China's demands that American corporations hand over technology in exchange for access to the Chinese markets. Last month, the administration proposed tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports to protest the forced technology transfers. Trump later ordered Lighthizer to seek up to an additional $100 billion in Chinese products to tax. China responded by targeting $50 billion in U.S. products, including soybeans — a shot at Trump supporters in America's heartland. The prospect of an escalating trade war has shaken financial markets and alarmed business leaders. In a separate controversy, the Commerce Department last month blocked China's ZTE Corp. from importing American components for seven years, accusing the telecommunications company of misleading U.S. regulators after it settled charges last year of violating sanctions against Iran and North Korea. The ban amounted to a death sentence for ZTE, which relies heavily on U.S. parts, and the company announced that it was halting operations. A week ago, Trump tweeted that he was working with Chinese President Xi Jinping to put ZTE "back in business, fast." Media reports suggested that the U.S. was offering to swap a ZTE rescue for an end to proposed Chinese tariffs on U.S. farm products.

Starbucks announced a new policy Saturday that allows anyone to sit in its cafes or use its restrooms, even if they don't buy anything. The new policy comes five weeks after two black men who hadn't bought anything were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks. Company executives have said its previous policies were loose and ambiguous, leaving decisions on whether people could sit in its stores or use the restroom up to store managers. Starbucks said it has told workers to consider anyone who walks into its stores a customer, "regardless of whether they make a purchase." The company said anyone can use its cafes, patios or restrooms without buying anything, but it noted workers should still call the police if someone is a safety threat. [related node_id='e2e39d43-dd10-4b9e-8d08-e32db52aa784'] "We are committed to creating a culture of warmth and belonging where everyone is welcome," Starbucks said in a statement. The two men who were arrested April 12 in Philadelphia were awaiting a third person for a meeting. One of them was denied use of a restroom because he hadn't bought anything. A worker called police, and the men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, were arrested. They spent hours in jail before they were released. The incident, video of which was posted on social media, was a major embarrassment for the coffee chain. Starbucks has long projected itself as a socially conscious company and promoted its stores as a neighborhood gathering place. In response to the arrests, Starbucks plans to close more than 8,000 of its U.S. stores on the afternoon of May 29 for racial-bias training for its employees. The men who were arrested settled with Starbucks earlier this month for an undisclosed sum and an offer of a free college education. They also reached a deal with Philadelphia for a symbolic $1 each and a promise from city officials to set up a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs. Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on Google Play Store:http://bit.ly/GetALoop Download the Loop News Caribbean app on the App Store:http://bit.ly/GetiLoop


Rescue teams search through the wreckage site of a Boeing 737 that plummeted into a cassava field with more than 100 passengers on board, in Havana, Cuba, Friday, May 18, 2018. The Cuban airliner crashed just after takeoff from Havana's international airport in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

The only three survivors of Cuba's worst aviation disaster in three decades were clinging to life Saturday, a day after their passenger jet carrying 110 people crashed in a fireball in Havana's rural outskirts. Carlos Alberto Martinez, director of the Calixto Garcia Hospital in the Cuban capital, said doctors are always hopeful that their patients will recover, but he acknowledged that the three Cuban women were in extremely grave condition. "We must be conscious that they present severe injuries," Martinez told a small group of journalists. "They are in a critical state." Meanwhile, relatives of those who died gathered at a morgue in the capital, weeping and embracing each other, as investigators tried to piece together why the aging Boeing 737 went down and erupted in flames shortly after takeoff early Friday afternoon. And the Cuban Council of Churches announced that 20 clergy members of an evangelical church were among the dead. "On that plane were 10 couples of pastors, 20 people. All of the Nazarene Church in the eastern region," said Maite Quesada, a member of the council. The pastors had spent several days at a meeting in the capital and were returning to their homes and places of worship in the province of Holguin. Skies were overcast and rainy at the airport at the time of Cuba's third major air accident since 2010, and state television said the 39-year-old jet veered sharply to the right after departing on a domestic flight to the eastern city of Holguin. Eyewitness and private salon owner Rocio Martinez said she heard a strange noise and looked up to see the plane with a turbine on fire. "In flames, here it comes falling toward the ground, and it seems (the pilot) saw it was an area that was too residential and makes a sharp turn," Martinez said. "To avoid (the houses) ... to avoid a tragedy, because there would have been a massacre." Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said a special commission had been formed to find the cause of the crash. The plane had 104 passengers and six crew members. State airline Cubana, which operated the flight, has had a generally good safety record but is notorious for delays and cancellations and has taken many of its planes out of service because of maintenance problems in recent months, prompting it to hire charter aircraft from other companies. Mexican officials said the Boeing 737-201 was built in 1979 and rented by Cubana from Aerolineas Damojh, a small charter company that also goes by the name Global Air. Aviation authorities in Guyana last year stopped the same aircraft from conducting charter flights because of serious safety concerns, including fears about excessive baggage overloading and other issues. A statement from Mexico's Transportation Department identified the pilot and co-pilot as Capt. Jorge Luis Nunez Santos and first officer Miguel Angel Arreola Ramirez. It said the flight attendants were Maria Daniela Rios, Abigail Hernandez Garcia and Beatriz Limon. Global Air said maintenance worker Marco Antonio Lopez Perez was also aboard. Outside the company's Mexico City offices on Friday, former Global Air flight attendant Ana Marlen Covarrubias said she had worked for the company for over seven years and knows nearly all the crew members. "I don't have the words. I'm very sad. We're in mourning," she said in tears. "It was something really, really, really terrible; a tragedy for us." In addition to the Mexican crew, Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma reported that the passengers were mostly Cubans plus five foreigners from countries it did not identify. Argentina's Foreign Ministry said two of its citizens had died in the crash. In November 2010 a Global Air flight originating in Mexico City made an emergency landing in Puerto Vallarta because its front landing gear did not deploy. The fire was quickly extinguished, and none of the 104 people aboard were injured. That plane was a 737 first put into service in 1975. Mexican aviation authorities said a team of experts would fly to Cuba on Saturday to take part in the investigation. Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on Google Play Store:http://bit.ly/GetALoop Download the Loop News Caribbean app on the App Store:http://bit.ly/GetiLoop

House washed away from its foundation in Lances Bay.

Flash flooding, caused by consistent, heavy rains which lashed sections of the parish of Hanover, washed away small houses and left scores of residents maroonedThursdayevening. Houses were washed away from theLances Bay commumity after the Lances Bay River overflowed its banks. The community of Brissett was also not spared by the the rushing flood waters. In the town of Lucea, a number of motorists and pedestrians wereleft strandedfor long hours. Reports are that some motorists had to run from their motor vehiclesamid gushing flood waters that threatened towashaway the automobiles. There werenoreports ofdeaths. Member of Parliamentfor Eastern Hanover, Ian Hayles has called on authorities toimmediately address the infrastructural problems inthe town. In the meantime, the Meteorological Service Division is reporting that a Trough across the southwestern Caribbean is expected to influence the weather across Jamaica, producing increased rainfall across the island starting lateFridayafternoon through toSaturday. Jamaicans are to expect periods of showers and thunderstorms, which may be heavy at times, across sections of most parishes. For the latest news, download our app athttp://bit.ly/GetALoopJMfor Android; and athttp://bit.ly/GetiLoopJMfor IoS.


Jose Mourinho felt "long-ball" tactics were the reason Chelsea edged a tight FA Cup final against his Manchester United side. Shortof star striker Romelu Lukaku -fit only for the bench due to an ankle injury -United were bluntand fell to Eden Hazard's first-half penalty at Wembley on Saturday. Defeat means Mourinho's second season at Old Trafford ends without a trophy, but he felt the approach from Antonio Conte was overly negative. The Italian fielded Hazard in a floating attacking role behind lone striker Olivier Giroud in a 3-5-1-1 formation,as well as a packed midfield starring tireless midfield dynamo N'Golo Kante. "I think our team did a fantastic defensive job, without [only] defending," Mourinho told a news conference. "We controlled the positions and transitions really well, they only played long balls to Giroud to flick, Hazard to win the second balls, and when you play against a predictable team it's easy to adapt to it. "I didn't think we'd concede in this match but of course Hazard is a very good player and created a penalty." A string of second-half saves from Hazard's fellow Belgium international Thibaut Courtois ensured United scored just once in their last four games of the campaign. But Mourinho, whose battles with a faulty microphone interrupted his brief appearance in front of the media, suggested he will pay little attention to his critics. "I don't have a big desire to speak, it's better to say congratulations to the winners and that's it," a spiky Mourinho said. "I'm quite curious, especially because I'm going on holiday and have more time for that, I'm quite curious over the next few days to read, watch and listen to your [journalists'] opinions. "My opinion of my team's performance was every defeat hurts, but for me personally it hurts less when you give everything and go without any regrets. So I prefer to lose like today than to lose like we did, for example at Newcastle, to give an example of the season. "I leave my players happy with them, Ileave very happy with them and for me that's really important."

Chelsea forward Eden Hazard.

Eden Hazard inspired Chelsea to a 1-0 victory over Manchester United in the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday. The 27-year-old forward fuelled speculation over his future this week by stating he will wait and see how Chelsea's close-season transfer policy develops before committing to a new contract at Stamford Bridge. But he was all business at England's national stadium as he turned the first half into an ordeal for Phil Jones – the United defender whose clumsy foul meant Hazard won and converted a 22nd-minute penalty. United improved upon a tepid showing after the break and Alexis Sanchez had a goal ruled out for offside, but even the late introduction of Romelu Lukaku on his return from an ankle injury could not force an equaliser. It meant a sweet victory for Antonio Conte over his rival Jose Mourinho on what could prove his farewell outing as Chelsea coach, with the FA Cup a notable consolation after theirPremier League title defence slumped to a fifth-place finish. As in the semi-final win over Tottenham, David de Gea was preferred to United's regular cup goalkeeper Sergio Romero and the Spain international was called upon in the ninth minute. Jones gave away possession and Tiemoue Bakayoko set Hazard running at the backpedalling England defender, who he skipped past and forced De Gea to save with his right boot at the near post. Bakayoko and Sanchez had half-hearted penalty appeals turned down but there was little doubt for referee Michael Oliver when he later pointed to the United spot. An utterly hapless start to the game continued for Jones, who blundered through Hazard as the Belgium star darted around him after bringing Cesc Fabregas' lofted pass under his spell. Conte was furious on the touchline after Jones was only yellow carded – in line with the International Football Association Board update brought in from last season – but Hazard was a picture of calmness as he stroked home, sending De Gea the wrong way. Jones had a chance to make amends but headed wide at the far post from Ashley Young's left-wing cross, with United belatedly arriving as an attacking force in the closing minutes of the half. Antonio Rudiger blocked well from Marcus Rashford after Paul Pogba drove a counter-attack in stoppage time. Mourinho's side enjoyed their first sustained spell of pressure early in the second half, with Ander Herrera liberated from attempting to shackle Hazard and lending greater impetus to United's midfield play. Thibaut Courtois beat away a drive from Rashford and Pogba saw a deflected 57th-minute shot loop behind, before Nemanja Matic scuffed wide wastefully against his former club. The pressure looked to have told in the 63rd minute but Sanchez was fractionally offside – a decision confirmed by VAR – when he prodded in after Courtois denied Jones. Chelsea attacks had become a rarity by the time N'Golo Kante marauded forward and played in Marcos Alonso. The wing-back was denied by his countryman De Gea and Young escaped penalty claims for handball as Chelsea followed up. Courtois denied Rashford one against one before the England forward made way for Lukaku, and Mourinho would no doubt have preferred a glorious 82nd-minute headed chance fell tothe Belgian as opposed to Pogba. United's record signing was unmarked but directed substitute Anthony Martial's corner wide, condemning his boss to a trophyless campaign.


Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro crosses himself before voting in presidential elections in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, May 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Venezuelan officials declared socialist leader Nicolas Maduro the easy winner of Sunday's presidential election, while his leading challenger questioned the legitimacy of a vote marred by irregularities and called for a new ballot to prevent a brewing social crisis from exploding. The National Election Council announced that with almost 93 percent of polling stations reporting, Maduro won nearly 68 percent of the votes, beating nearest challenger Henri Falcon by more than 40 points. The disputed victory is likely to heighten international pressure on Maduro, as voter turnout was the lowest in a presidential race since the start of Venezuela's leftist revolution two decades ago. Even as voting was taking place Sunday, a senior State Department official warned that the U.S. might press ahead on threats of imposing crippling oil sanctions on the nation that sits atop the world's largest crude reserves. The election "without any doubt lacks legitimacy and we categorically refuse to recognize this process," Falcon told supporters before the results were announced. Falcon was joined in his call for a new election by third-place finisher Javier Bertucci, who got around 11 percent of the vote. Bertucci, a TV evangelist, stopped short of challenging the results, saying what he called a mistaken opposition boycott that led to the lowest voter turnout in two decades of socialist rule also boosted Maduro. But he said that in the event of a new vote, Maduro should do the courageous thing and desist from running. If Maduro presses forward, he said, Venezuela would explode from a social crisis marked by widespread food shortages and hyperinflation before his new six-year term starts next January. Maduro immediately called for dialogue with his presidential opponents. But he showed no sign of replaying Sunday's vote. "The electoral processes have ended for now," he said, saying that he wanted to spend the next two years before scheduled congressional elections to focus on repairing the economy. He also slammed Falcon, who like him was an acolyte of the late President Hugo Chavez. Maduro said he had never seen a candidate dispute results even before they were announced. "Sooner or later, they all break in the face of threats from the imperialists," he said, appeling to the U.S. to also reconsider its belligerent stance toward his government. Both of Maduro's opponents accused electoral authorities of turning a blind eye to a slew of blatant violations, including the establishment of red tents just steps away from voting centers where ruling party activists scanned on cellphones government-issued "Fatherland Cards." Many voters said they hoped it would bring them a cash bonus or even a free apartment. Under Venezuela's electoral law, any political activity must take place at least 650 feet (200 meters) from voting centers. National Electoral Council president Tibisay Lucena acknowledged a handful of complaints, but insisted they were minor compared to past elections. Falcon said his campaign found "red points" at 86 perecent of polling sites nationwide. He called them a "pressure mechanism, an element of political and social blackmail" directed at the poor. Voting centers across Venezuela appeared largely empty for the election despite assurances from government officials that millions had turned out to vote by midmorning. Turnout in the previous three presidential elections averaged around 79 percent. Chavez, after taking office in 1999, eliminated mandatory voting in Venezuela. Opposition leaders said the lifeless voting centers were evidence that Venezuelans heeded their call to abstain from voting in an election they contended was certain to be rigged in favor of Maduro's socialist policies. Opinion polls say the overwhelming majority of Venezuelans distrust the electoral council. Turnout figures in last year's elections for a constitutional assembly, which the opposition also boycotted, were inflated by at least 1 million votes, according to the company that provided technology for Venezuela's electronic voting machines for more than a decade. Both Maduro and the two anti-government presidential candidates who broke with the opposition's push to boycott the election had urged voters to go to the polls. Maduro, setting an example for government supporters who he called on to vote early, cast his ballot in Caracas shortly after fireworks and loud speakers blasting a military hymn roused Venezuelans from sleep around 5 a.m. He said Venezuelans would provide an example of democracy to the world and brushed back suggestions he was taking the country down an authoritarian path. "It's offensive when they say the Venezuelan people are falling under dictatorship," he said after voting. Maduro also said that if he won the election, he would seek an understanding with his opponents on a way forward for the crisis-wracked country. "I'm going to stubbornly and obsessively insist in dialogue for peace," he said. Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: Download the Loop News Caribbean app on Google Play Store:http://bit.ly/GetALoop Download the Loop News Caribbean app on the App Store:http://bit.ly/GetiLoop

Heavy rains are causing flooded roads and flight delays in south Florida. The region has been hit with rain the last several days and more was falling on Sunday. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that a flood watch had been extended in Broward County until Sunday night due to multiple road closures and pumps operating at maximum capacity. WPLG-TV reported that police in Coral Springs were advising people to stay indoors. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport spokesman Greg Meyer said several flights have been affected by the heavy rain and at least one parking lot used by taxi drivers is flooded. The Miami Herald reported that Hallandale Beach Fire Rescue crews were working on pumps to reduce the flooding that's already struck parts of the city.


Events

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May 30, 2018

Saint Lucia Carnival 2018

Pumping rhythms, sexy costumes and the people dancing under the warm Caribbean sun; welcome to Saint Lucia Carnival! Almost on the heels of the annual Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival, Saint Lucia’s cultural landscape morphs into a flurry of chrome plated steel drums, feathers, and beads. No matter where you are or who you are, Saint Lucia Carnival is something to behold.

In the months, weeks and hours leading up to Saint Lucia Carnival, there are numerous events that are a must see, whether you’re a Carnival veteran, or Carnival newbie. Some of the staple events - the Calypso Tents, Calypso Monarch, Party Monarch, and Carnival Parade are the deep-rooted cultural aspects of Saint Lucia Carnival. But it won’t be Carnival without the ‘wining’ and jumping and non-stop partying.

Here’s a great tip for first-time Carnival revellers - ‘wining’, is a local Caribbean-wide term used to describe the rotational movement of the hips either to the left or to the right, whichever way your waistline can go really. Before you brave any Saint Lucia Carnival event, don’t be afraid to perfect your ‘wining’ motions. You can bet on someone asking pretty ladies to “take ah wine.” Either way, master the move so that you keep up with the locals and really party like a Saint Lucian.

By the time Carnival Monday rolls around, your dancing skills will help burn off all the yummy calories you’ll be consuming – let’s face it; Saint Lucia’s Carnival food scene is just as fabulous! The ultimate Carnival experience is when one joins a “band.” Competing band members flock together at predetermined locations near the staging area, for the beginning of what will be a hyperactive dance session through the city’s streets. With speakers the size of warehouse refrigerators, the vibrations and sounds begin with only the trance of soca leading you throughout the streets of Saint Lucia.

If you’re still alive at the end of Carnival Monday, many band members will go off to enjoy official band parties or you can opt to go home to revitalize yourself – don’t worry, you can comfort yourself by the fact that the next day is Carnival Tuesday…

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August 01, 2018

Chocolate Heritage Month 2018

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Spend August satisfying your sweet tooth during Saint Lucia’s Chocolate Heritage Month.

Saint Lucia’s chocolate legacy dates back to the thriving cocoa industry of the 1700’s and the island still produces some of the world’s most sought-after chocolate. Many of Saint Lucia’s top resort spas and restaurants use the island’s native cocoa in spa treatments and savory and sweet culinary creations that are both indulgent and healthful.

August is an ideal time to sample inventive “choc-tails” and specialty tasting menus, relax with beneficial chocolate-infused spa treatments and enjoy “tree to bar” cocoa plantation tours with island-wide hotel and resort offers. Click here for more information. 

For a deeper look into the island’s chocolate heritage, you can take a plantation tour that shares the history and tradition of Saint Lucian cocoa production. Choose from a variety of experiences such as Morne Coubaril Estate and La Dauphine Estate. The Fond Doux Holiday Plantation tour will lead you through the cocoa fermentation house where you can participate in the traditional “cocoa- rina” dance to polish the cocoa beans. Or, take a behind the scenes look at a bean-to-bar single estate boutique chocolate maker at Jade Mountain’s Emerald Estate Organic Chocolate and Chocolate Laboratory.

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August 31, 2018

Roots & Soul Festival 2018

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A festival dedicated to musicians who are setting new trends in reggae, conscious hip-hop, Afro-punk and R&B, with performances, master classes and encounters between artists and other actors in the music business. Like Saint Lucia Jazz, there will be free and paying concerts, in various parts of the island. This event will bring together musicians, record labels, online music stores and platforms, specialized journalists and other actors in order to enhance market access for Saint Lucian and other musicians and producers.