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NATION ROUNDUP — Trade impasse: Trump pledges $16B to farmers; markets slump

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump rolled out another $16 billion in aid for farmers hurt by his trade policies, and financial markets shook Thursday on the growing realization that the U.S. and China are far from settling a bitter, year-long trade dispute.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that the first of three payments is likely to be made in July or August and suggested that the U.S. and China were unlikely to have settled their differences by then.

“The package we’re announcing today ensures that farmers do not bear the brunt of unfair retaliatory tariffs imposed by China and other trading partners,” Perdue said.

The latest bailout comes atop $11 billion in aid Trump provided farmers last year.

“We will ensure our farmers get the relief they need and very, very quickly,” Trump said.

Seeking to reduce America’s trade deficit with the rest of the world and with China in particular, Trump has imposed import taxes on foreign steel, aluminum, solar panels and dishwashers and on thousands of Chinese products.

 

3 dead, state capital battered as storms rake Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — An outbreak of nasty storms spawned tornadoes that razed homes, flattened trees, tossed cars across a dealership lot and injured dozens of people in Missouri’s capital city and killed at least three others elsewhere in the state.

The National Weather Service confirmed that a large and destructive twister moved over Jefferson City shortly before midnight Wednesday.

The tornado cut a path about 3 miles long and a mile wide from the south end of Jefferson City north toward the Missouri River, said police Lt. David Williams. Emergency workers reported about two dozen injuries, Williams said, and around 100 of people were in shelters. Hospitals reported treating injuries such as cuts and bruises.

There were no immediate reports of any deaths or missing people in the capital city of about 40,000, but door-to-door checks were being done Thursday.

Many in Jefferson City considered themselves fortunate to survive.

 

Facebook: Fake account removal doubles in 6 months to 3B

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook removed more than 3 billion fake accounts from October to March, twice as many as the previous six months, the company said Thursday.

Nearly all of them were caught before they had a chance to become “active” users of the social network.

In a new report, Facebook said it saw a “steep increase” in the creation of abusive, fake accounts. While most of these fake accounts were blocked “within minutes” of their creation, the use of computers to generate millions of accounts at a time meant not only that Facebook caught more of the fake accounts, but that more of them slipped through.

As a result, the company estimates that 5% of its 2.4 billion monthly active users are fake accounts, or about 119 million. This is up from an estimated 3% to 4% in the previous six-month report.

The increase shows the challenges Facebook faces in removing accounts created by computers to spread spam, fake news and other objectionable material. Even as Facebook’s detection tools get better, so do the efforts by the creators of these fake accounts.

 

US charges WikiLeaks founder with publishing classified info

WASHINGTON — The U.S. filed new charges Thursday against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, accusing him of placing the United States at risk of serious harm by publishing thousands of secret and classified documents, including the names of confidential sources for American armed forces.

In an 18-count, superseding indictment, Justice Department prosecutors allege that Assange directed former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in one of the largest compromises of classified information in U.S. history.

The case presents immediate questions about media freedom, including whether the Justice Department is charging Assange for actions — such as soliciting and publishing classified information — that journalists do as a matter of course. Department officials said Thursday they believe Assange strayed far outside First Amendment protections.

 

See also: NATION ROUNDUP: Tornadoes flip campers, damage homes in Southern Plains