Critics see no end to foreign favors to Trump businesses

article

First came news that a Chinese government-owned company had signed on to help build an Indonesian project that will include a Donald Trump-branded hotel and golf course. Then, days later, the president tweeted that his administration would ease sanctions against a Chinese smartphone maker accused of espionage. “Too many jobs in China lost,” he wrote.

Continue Reading Below

Ethics watchdogs and political adversaries called last week’s events a blatant case of Trump appearing to trade foreign favors to his business for changes in government policy, exactly the kind of situation they predicted would happen when the real estate mogul turned politician refused to divest from his sprawling business interests.

And they say that such dealmaking will likely become business as usual, unchecked by a Republican-led Congress, court cases that could take years and a public that hasn’t gotten too excited about the obscure constitutional prohibition on the president accepting emoluments, or benefits, from foreign governments without congressional approval.

“It’s an issue that seems highly technical and complex, and is difficult to link to everyday lives,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat who is heading up an emoluments lawsuit brought by about 200 or so members of Congress.

“But when you bring it home to the reason for the emoluments clause, namely to prevent conflicts of interest, so the president will act only for the benefit of the United States, not for his own self-interest, then people should understand that his taking that benefit compromises his priorities,” Blumenthal said.

Such concerns have dogged Trump since he took office. His Washington hotel, just blocks from the White House, has become a magnet for foreign governments seeking to influence his administration, including groups tied to Kuwait, Bahrain, Turkey, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. Trump’s financial disclosure last week showed the hotel took in more than $40 million in revenue last year. To allay fears of conflicts, Trump promised to give the U.S. Treasury the profits from foreign stays at his hotels, which came to $151,470. His company declined to say how that figure was calculated.

A Quinnipiac University National Poll released in March found that 57 percent of Americans believe Trump is not honest. Still, in the latest Quinnipiac poll last month, Trump’s job approval rating stood at 41 percent, matching the highest mark of his presidency.

Shana Gadarian, a political psychologist at Syracuse University, said those who pay attention to politics tend to be more partisan and often set aside information they find inconsistent with their beliefs.

“To the extent that you like this administration,” she said, “you might say this is just the way business is done. This isn’t a concern.”

Whether there was a quid pro quo in the China-Indonesia deal, similarly, depends on whom you ask.

An Indonesian company, MNC Land, confirmed last week that it hired the subsidiary of the state-owned Metallurgical Corp. of China to build a theme park in its Lido City development outside Jakarta. MNC Land three years earlier struck a deal for the development to include a Trump-branded hotel, 400 luxury villas and condos, and an 18-hole championship golf course.

MNC Land said the Trump Organization has “no relationship” with the theme park that the Chinese company is building. It also said that news reports that a Chinese government-backed $500 million loan for the project had been signed were false.

The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment. China’s foreign and commerce ministries and the Cabinet’s news office also did not respond to requests for comment. Calls to the China Metallurgical Group rang unanswered.

James Schultz, a former associate White House counsel for Trump, said the argument that Trump was violating the emoluments clause merely because a theme park is being built near a Trump hotel property  is “farfetched.”

Just 72 hours after that deal was announced, Trump sent a tweet that marked what appeared to be a major reversal in the government’s stance on massive Chinese phone company ZTE and on Trump’s “America First” foreign policy.

The U.S. intelligence community has warned about the Chinese smartphone maker’s perceived ties to the Chinese government and its possible use for remote surveillance. ZTE has been fined in recent years for shipping American goods to five embargoed countries, including Iran and North Korea. The Pentagon banned ZTE phones from retail stores on military bases because the devices could be a security risk. And the Trump administration ordered a seven-year halt in American shipments of computer microchips and software that are at the heart of most of ZTE’s telecommunications gear.

That ban particularly was devastating to ZTE and its 75,000 employees, with the company recently announcing it was halting operations.

Trump tweeted that he was working with the president of China “to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!”

Don Fox, the former general counsel of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, said the Chinese “knew exactly what they were investing in” with the deal in Indonesia. “It also strains credulity that the president wasn’t aware of this when he made his favorable comments about ZTE.”

Three pending lawsuits, which could potentially take years to litigate, are likely the key to untangling whether such a business deal, in addition to the various bookings of Trump properties by lobbyists, foreign governments, corporate and political interests, constitute emoluments. The president’s attorneys have disputed that.

“It is our only real remedy,” Blumenthal said of the cases. “It may sound like a sign of frustration, and inertia, but the founders provided us this sole remedy. … We need a judge to order the president to obey the law.”

Critics see no end to foreign favors to Trump businesses

article

First came news that a Chinese government-owned company had signed on to help build an Indonesian project that will include a Donald Trump-branded hotel and golf course. Then, days later, the president tweeted that his administration would ease sanctions against a Chinese smartphone maker accused of espionage. “Too many jobs in China lost,” he wrote.

Continue Reading Below

Ethics watchdogs and political adversaries called last week’s events a blatant case of Trump appearing to trade foreign favors to his business for changes in government policy, exactly the kind of situation they predicted would happen when the real estate mogul turned politician refused to divest from his sprawling business interests.

And they say that such dealmaking will likely become business as usual, unchecked by a Republican-led Congress, court cases that could take years and a public that hasn’t gotten too excited about the obscure constitutional prohibition on the president accepting emoluments, or benefits, from foreign governments without congressional approval.

“It’s an issue that seems highly technical and complex, and is difficult to link to everyday lives,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat who is heading up an emoluments lawsuit brought by about 200 or so members of Congress.

“But when you bring it home to the reason for the emoluments clause, namely to prevent conflicts of interest, so the president will act only for the benefit of the United States, not for his own self-interest, then people should understand that his taking that benefit compromises his priorities,” Blumenthal said.

Such concerns have dogged Trump since he took office. His Washington hotel, just blocks from the White House, has become a magnet for foreign governments seeking to influence his administration, including groups tied to Kuwait, Bahrain, Turkey, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. Trump’s financial disclosure last week showed the hotel took in more than $40 million in revenue last year. To allay fears of conflicts, Trump promised to give the U.S. Treasury the profits from foreign stays at his hotels, which came to $151,470. His company declined to say how that figure was calculated.

A Quinnipiac University National Poll released in March found that 57 percent of Americans believe Trump is not honest. Still, in the latest Quinnipiac poll last month, Trump’s job approval rating stood at 41 percent, matching the highest mark of his presidency.

Shana Gadarian, a political psychologist at Syracuse University, said those who pay attention to politics tend to be more partisan and often set aside information they find inconsistent with their beliefs.

“To the extent that you like this administration,” she said, “you might say this is just the way business is done. This isn’t a concern.”

Whether there was a quid pro quo in the China-Indonesia deal, similarly, depends on whom you ask.

An Indonesian company, MNC Land, confirmed last week that it hired the subsidiary of the state-owned Metallurgical Corp. of China to build a theme park in its Lido City development outside Jakarta. MNC Land three years earlier struck a deal for the development to include a Trump-branded hotel, 400 luxury villas and condos, and an 18-hole championship golf course.

MNC Land said the Trump Organization has “no relationship” with the theme park that the Chinese company is building. It also said that news reports that a Chinese government-backed $500 million loan for the project had been signed were false.

The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment. China’s foreign and commerce ministries and the Cabinet’s news office also did not respond to requests for comment. Calls to the China Metallurgical Group rang unanswered.

James Schultz, a former associate White House counsel for Trump, said the argument that Trump was violating the emoluments clause merely because a theme park is being built near a Trump hotel property  is “farfetched.”

Just 72 hours after that deal was announced, Trump sent a tweet that marked what appeared to be a major reversal in the government’s stance on massive Chinese phone company ZTE and on Trump’s “America First” foreign policy.

The U.S. intelligence community has warned about the Chinese smartphone maker’s perceived ties to the Chinese government and its possible use for remote surveillance. ZTE has been fined in recent years for shipping American goods to five embargoed countries, including Iran and North Korea. The Pentagon banned ZTE phones from retail stores on military bases because the devices could be a security risk. And the Trump administration ordered a seven-year halt in American shipments of computer microchips and software that are at the heart of most of ZTE’s telecommunications gear.

That ban particularly was devastating to ZTE and its 75,000 employees, with the company recently announcing it was halting operations.

Trump tweeted that he was working with the president of China “to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!”

Don Fox, the former general counsel of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, said the Chinese “knew exactly what they were investing in” with the deal in Indonesia. “It also strains credulity that the president wasn’t aware of this when he made his favorable comments about ZTE.”

Three pending lawsuits, which could potentially take years to litigate, are likely the key to untangling whether such a business deal, in addition to the various bookings of Trump properties by lobbyists, foreign governments, corporate and political interests, constitute emoluments. The president’s attorneys have disputed that.

“It is our only real remedy,” Blumenthal said of the cases. “It may sound like a sign of frustration, and inertia, but the founders provided us this sole remedy. … We need a judge to order the president to obey the law.”

3 Stocks That Feel Like Disney in 1957

Today’s Walt Disney Company is a multimedia powerhouse known all over the world for its iconic characters and treasure trove of intellectual property. Not so back in 1957, when it was just beginning to formulate the structure that would position the company to dominate the entertainment industry in the decades to come.

The question is: Are there other companies out there that are positioning themselves so that it will pay off for investors far into the future?

Continue Reading Below

With that in mind, we asked three Motley Fool investors to choose top companies that remind them of Disney at the beginning of its 60-year winning streak. They offered convincing arguments for Axon Enterprise, Inc. (NASDAQ: AAXN), Shopify (NYSE: SHOP), and Sprouts Farmers Market, Inc. (NASDAQ: SFM).

A stunning development

Rich Duprey (Axon Enterprise): The Disney of today is a mammoth entertainment complex, bringing together movies, TV shows, and theme parks, but in 1957 such a multifaceted enterprise was only just beginning to fulfill the promise all those tentacles held. In similar fashion, Axon Enterprise is only just beginning to realize the many possibilities inherent in its three-pronged attack of stun guns, body cameras, and evidence management software.

The foundation of Axon is its Taser-conducted electrical weapons, the ubiquitous less-than-lethal force found in virtually every major police department and in thousands of smaller departments. But now it’s advancing through the body camera market, particularly with its acquisition of rival VieVu, and the tethered Evidence.com evidence management database.

Body cameras and software management are the future for Axon, though they account for just 37% of total revenue at the moment, which was the result of 66% growth in the quarter compared to 10% growth in Taser sales. The software and sensors segment will soon become the predominant stream in the immediate future.

With the acquisition of VieVu, Axon will own 80% of all big-city police department camera contracts, and will be in a much stronger position to gain the handful that remain. And it’s the software side that will prove to be the stickiest, as once a department is brought into the web of having its evidence managed by Axon, it becomes difficult to extract itself from it.

Axon Enterprise stock doesn’t come cheap, but it’s perhaps worthwhile since it now owns both the body cam and stun gun field. Body cams are still a huge growth industry outside of the major departments that have already been conquered, and with the two biggest names under its umbrella, it’s now a titan in the way Disney dominated the market back in the day.

Serving every aspect of e-commerce sales

Danny Vena (Shopify): One of the defining characteristics of the Disney of 1957 was the company’s plan to create an interconnected library of characters that could be leveraged across a variety of mediums, making it more valuable than the sum of its parts.

Looking for a similar situation outside the entertainment industry, I immediately hit upon e-commerce facilitator Shopify. The company began as a platform designed to make it easy for small- and medium-size businesses to reap the benefits of website sales. Shopify supplies 100 different ready-to-use templates and over 2,300 apps that can be combined to create a custom website and user experience for any online store.

The company has become wildly successful by encouraging the next generation of entrepreneurs to join the e-commerce revolution, but Shopify didn’t stop there, and offers a growing list of interconnected services that simplify nearly every aspect of the digital selling experience.

Shopify allows businesses to accept and process credit cards and is connected with all the major payment processors. It also offers discounted shipping rates for high-volume users and is integrated with the biggest third-party logistics services. The platform can accept and track orders and simplify selling across a multitude of sales channels including social media, marketplace, brick-and-mortar, and mobile. It also offers working capital loans secured by ongoing sales.

It’s hard to argue with the company’s success, with now boasts more than 609,000 merchants and counting in 175 countries worldwide. Some merchants have become so successful with Shopify that it was necessary to expand upmarket to serve the needs of enterprise level operations. The fruits of that labor, Shopify Plus, is now one of the fastest-growing facets of the company’s business.

While Shopify’s growth has slowed somewhat from its recent breakneck pace, it still delivered 68% year-over-year revenue growth and 64% gross merchandise volume (GMV) growth in its most recent quarter. It’s important to note that the company is not yet profitable due to its continuing international expansion, but that’s only a matter of time.

This combination of online sales platform, integrated payments and shipping, multichannel capability, and growing upmarket capability, Shopify might just be the Disney of e-commerce.

A future grocery powerhouse

Tim Green (Sprouts Farmers Market): Sales at U.S. grocery stores totaled nearly $700 billion in 2017. Sprouts Farmers Market, a chain of around 300 stores mostly in the southern and western United States, generated just $4.7 billion of sales last year. With plans to build roughly 30 new stores annually, Sprouts has room to grow for years to come.

What exactly is Sprouts? Picture Whole Foods, but with prices that don’t make you openly weep. Sprouts’ small-format stores put produce, bulk foods, and meat front and center. The company doesn’t carry many national-brand grocery items, instead focusing on higher-quality, natural, and organic products. It also sells a full line of private-label grocery products.

I do most of my family’s grocery shopping at Sprouts. The prices on produce and meat are better than even traditional supermarkets, and the quality is top-notch. I think the company has a bright future, but it’s important to remember that the grocery business is brutal. Sprouts is putting up solid sales numbers, with 2.7% comparable sales growth in the first quarter and 14% overall sales growth thanks to new stores. It also cut its full-year sales guidance earlier this month. With the grocery business shifting online, competition is only going to get tougher.

Though Sprouts may be in a very difficult business, it differentiates itself with small stores, high-quality products, and low prices. I think the company has a lot of potential.

10 stocks we like better than Axon EnterpriseWhen investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has quadrupled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the 10 best stocks for investors to buy right now… and Axon Enterprise wasn’t one of them! That’s right — they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

Click here to learn about these picks!

*Stock Advisor returns as of May 8, 2018

Danny Vena owns shares of Shopify and Walt Disney and has the following options: long January 2019 $85 calls on Walt Disney. Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Timothy Green has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Axon Enterprise, Shopify, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

3 Stocks That Feel Like Disney in 1957

Today’s Walt Disney Company is a multimedia powerhouse known all over the world for its iconic characters and treasure trove of intellectual property. Not so back in 1957, when it was just beginning to formulate the structure that would position the company to dominate the entertainment industry in the decades to come.

The question is: Are there other companies out there that are positioning themselves so that it will pay off for investors far into the future?

Continue Reading Below

With that in mind, we asked three Motley Fool investors to choose top companies that remind them of Disney at the beginning of its 60-year winning streak. They offered convincing arguments for Axon Enterprise, Inc. (NASDAQ: AAXN), Shopify (NYSE: SHOP), and Sprouts Farmers Market, Inc. (NASDAQ: SFM).

A stunning development

Rich Duprey (Axon Enterprise): The Disney of today is a mammoth entertainment complex, bringing together movies, TV shows, and theme parks, but in 1957 such a multifaceted enterprise was only just beginning to fulfill the promise all those tentacles held. In similar fashion, Axon Enterprise is only just beginning to realize the many possibilities inherent in its three-pronged attack of stun guns, body cameras, and evidence management software.

The foundation of Axon is its Taser-conducted electrical weapons, the ubiquitous less-than-lethal force found in virtually every major police department and in thousands of smaller departments. But now it’s advancing through the body camera market, particularly with its acquisition of rival VieVu, and the tethered Evidence.com evidence management database.

Body cameras and software management are the future for Axon, though they account for just 37% of total revenue at the moment, which was the result of 66% growth in the quarter compared to 10% growth in Taser sales. The software and sensors segment will soon become the predominant stream in the immediate future.

With the acquisition of VieVu, Axon will own 80% of all big-city police department camera contracts, and will be in a much stronger position to gain the handful that remain. And it’s the software side that will prove to be the stickiest, as once a department is brought into the web of having its evidence managed by Axon, it becomes difficult to extract itself from it.

Axon Enterprise stock doesn’t come cheap, but it’s perhaps worthwhile since it now owns both the body cam and stun gun field. Body cams are still a huge growth industry outside of the major departments that have already been conquered, and with the two biggest names under its umbrella, it’s now a titan in the way Disney dominated the market back in the day.

Serving every aspect of e-commerce sales

Danny Vena (Shopify): One of the defining characteristics of the Disney of 1957 was the company’s plan to create an interconnected library of characters that could be leveraged across a variety of mediums, making it more valuable than the sum of its parts.

Looking for a similar situation outside the entertainment industry, I immediately hit upon e-commerce facilitator Shopify. The company began as a platform designed to make it easy for small- and medium-size businesses to reap the benefits of website sales. Shopify supplies 100 different ready-to-use templates and over 2,300 apps that can be combined to create a custom website and user experience for any online store.

The company has become wildly successful by encouraging the next generation of entrepreneurs to join the e-commerce revolution, but Shopify didn’t stop there, and offers a growing list of interconnected services that simplify nearly every aspect of the digital selling experience.

Shopify allows businesses to accept and process credit cards and is connected with all the major payment processors. It also offers discounted shipping rates for high-volume users and is integrated with the biggest third-party logistics services. The platform can accept and track orders and simplify selling across a multitude of sales channels including social media, marketplace, brick-and-mortar, and mobile. It also offers working capital loans secured by ongoing sales.

It’s hard to argue with the company’s success, with now boasts more than 609,000 merchants and counting in 175 countries worldwide. Some merchants have become so successful with Shopify that it was necessary to expand upmarket to serve the needs of enterprise level operations. The fruits of that labor, Shopify Plus, is now one of the fastest-growing facets of the company’s business.

While Shopify’s growth has slowed somewhat from its recent breakneck pace, it still delivered 68% year-over-year revenue growth and 64% gross merchandise volume (GMV) growth in its most recent quarter. It’s important to note that the company is not yet profitable due to its continuing international expansion, but that’s only a matter of time.

This combination of online sales platform, integrated payments and shipping, multichannel capability, and growing upmarket capability, Shopify might just be the Disney of e-commerce.

A future grocery powerhouse

Tim Green (Sprouts Farmers Market): Sales at U.S. grocery stores totaled nearly $700 billion in 2017. Sprouts Farmers Market, a chain of around 300 stores mostly in the southern and western United States, generated just $4.7 billion of sales last year. With plans to build roughly 30 new stores annually, Sprouts has room to grow for years to come.

What exactly is Sprouts? Picture Whole Foods, but with prices that don’t make you openly weep. Sprouts’ small-format stores put produce, bulk foods, and meat front and center. The company doesn’t carry many national-brand grocery items, instead focusing on higher-quality, natural, and organic products. It also sells a full line of private-label grocery products.

I do most of my family’s grocery shopping at Sprouts. The prices on produce and meat are better than even traditional supermarkets, and the quality is top-notch. I think the company has a bright future, but it’s important to remember that the grocery business is brutal. Sprouts is putting up solid sales numbers, with 2.7% comparable sales growth in the first quarter and 14% overall sales growth thanks to new stores. It also cut its full-year sales guidance earlier this month. With the grocery business shifting online, competition is only going to get tougher.

Though Sprouts may be in a very difficult business, it differentiates itself with small stores, high-quality products, and low prices. I think the company has a lot of potential.

10 stocks we like better than Axon EnterpriseWhen investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has quadrupled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the 10 best stocks for investors to buy right now… and Axon Enterprise wasn’t one of them! That’s right — they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

Click here to learn about these picks!

*Stock Advisor returns as of May 8, 2018

Danny Vena owns shares of Shopify and Walt Disney and has the following options: long January 2019 $85 calls on Walt Disney. Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Timothy Green has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Axon Enterprise, Shopify, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Hawaii geothermal plant plugs wells as lava flows nearby

article

Production wells at a geothermal plant under threat by lava flowing from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano have been plugged to prevent toxic gases from seeping out.

Continue Reading Below

Lava from a nearby, new volcanic vent entered, then stalled, on the 815-acre (330-hectare) property where the Puna Geothermal Venture wells occupy about 40 acres (16 hectares). Residents have been concerned about hazards if the lava flowed over the plant’s facilities, or if heat generated would interact with various chemicals used on-site.

Ten wells were “quenched” by cooling them with enough cold water to counter the pressure of volcanic steam coming from below, said Hawaii Gov. David Ige. The last well was plugged with mud, because it had remained hot despite the infusion of water. Metal plugs in the wells, which run as deep as 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) underground, are an additional stopgap measure.

“All wells are stable at this point,” said Ige. County officials are also monitoring various gases that may leak into the atmosphere.

A spike in gas levels could prompt a mass evacuation, said Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno. Officials, however, have not discussed specific scenarios that would lead to such an emergency.

Puna Geothermal, owned by Nevada’s Ormat Technologies, was shut down shortly after Kilauea began spewing lava on May 3. The plant harnesses heat and steam from the earth’s core to spin turbines to generate power. A flammable gas called pentane is used as part of the process, though officials earlier this month removed 50,000 gallons (190,000 liters) of it from the plant to reduce the chance of explosions.

The plant has capacity to produce 38 megawatts of electricity, providing roughly one-quarter of the Big Island’s daily energy demand.

Lava destroyed a building near the plant late Monday, bringing the total number of structures overtaken in the past several weeks to nearly 50, including dozens of homes. The latest was a warehouse adjacent to the Puna plant, Hawaii County spokeswoman Janet Snyder told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The building was owned by the state and was used in geothermal research projects in the early days of the site.

Native Hawaiians have long expressed frustration with the plant since it came online in 1989; they say it is built on sacred land. Goddess of fire, Pele, is believed to live on Kilauea volcano, and the plant itself is thought to desecrate her name.

Other residents have voiced concerns over health and safety.

Scientists, however, say the conditions on Kilauea make it a good site for harnessing the earth for renewable energy.

“There’s heat beneath the ground if you dig deep enough everywhere,” said Laura Wisland, a senior analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. But in some places in the U.S. “it’s just hotter, and you can access the geothermal energy more easily.”

Geothermal energy is also considered a clean resource as it doesn’t generate greenhouse gas emissions, said Bridget Ayling, the director of Nevada’s Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy.

Ormat said in a May 15 statement that there was a low risk of surface lava making its way to the facility. The company also said there was no damage to the facilities above-ground and that it was continuing to assess the impact. The plant is expected to begin operating “as soon as it is safe to do so,” according to the statement.

Puna Geothermal represents about 4.5 percent of Ormat’s worldwide generating capacity. Last year, the Hawaii plant generated about $11 million of net income for the company. Ormat is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, and shares have fallen nearly 10 percent since Kilauea began erupting.

Kaleikini said the gases that could potentially leak from the Puna plant are no different from those coming from active fissures.

The U.S. Geological Survey said sulfur dioxide emissions from the volcano have more than doubled since the current eruption began. Kilauea’s summit is now belching 15,000 tons (13,607 metric tons) of the gas each day up from 6,000 tons (5443 metric tons) daily prior to the May 3 eruption.

Scientists say lava from Kilauea is causing explosions as it enters the ocean, which can look like fireworks. When lava hits the sea and cools, it breaks apart and sends fragments flying into the air, which could land on boats in the water, said U.S. Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall.

Underscoring the eruption’s dangers, a Hawaii man was hit by a flying piece of lava over the weekend said the molten rock nearly sheared his leg in half.

Darryl Clinton told the Honolulu television station KHON that he was on the roof of a home helping to put out fires from flying rocks when an explosion several hundred yards away launched a “lava bomb” that him above the ankle.

Clinton said doctors saved his leg, but he must avoid putting weight on it for six weeks.

Clinton was the first person to suffer a major injury because of the eruption.

___

Yan reported from Honolulu. Associated Press writer Audrey McAvoy contributed from Honolulu.

___

Follow AP’s complete coverage of the Hawaii volcano here: https://apnews.com/tag/Kilauea

Hawaii geothermal plant plugs wells as lava flows nearby

article

Production wells at a geothermal plant under threat by lava flowing from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano have been plugged to prevent toxic gases from seeping out.

Continue Reading Below

Lava from a nearby, new volcanic vent entered, then stalled, on the 815-acre (330-hectare) property where the Puna Geothermal Venture wells occupy about 40 acres (16 hectares). Residents have been concerned about hazards if the lava flowed over the plant’s facilities, or if heat generated would interact with various chemicals used on-site.

Ten wells were “quenched” by cooling them with enough cold water to counter the pressure of volcanic steam coming from below, said Hawaii Gov. David Ige. The last well was plugged with mud, because it had remained hot despite the infusion of water. Metal plugs in the wells, which run as deep as 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) underground, are an additional stopgap measure.

“All wells are stable at this point,” said Ige. County officials are also monitoring various gases that may leak into the atmosphere.

A spike in gas levels could prompt a mass evacuation, said Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno. Officials, however, have not discussed specific scenarios that would lead to such an emergency.

Puna Geothermal, owned by Nevada’s Ormat Technologies, was shut down shortly after Kilauea began spewing lava on May 3. The plant harnesses heat and steam from the earth’s core to spin turbines to generate power. A flammable gas called pentane is used as part of the process, though officials earlier this month removed 50,000 gallons (190,000 liters) of it from the plant to reduce the chance of explosions.

The plant has capacity to produce 38 megawatts of electricity, providing roughly one-quarter of the Big Island’s daily energy demand.

Lava destroyed a building near the plant late Monday, bringing the total number of structures overtaken in the past several weeks to nearly 50, including dozens of homes. The latest was a warehouse adjacent to the Puna plant, Hawaii County spokeswoman Janet Snyder told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The building was owned by the state and was used in geothermal research projects in the early days of the site.

Native Hawaiians have long expressed frustration with the plant since it came online in 1989; they say it is built on sacred land. Goddess of fire, Pele, is believed to live on Kilauea volcano, and the plant itself is thought to desecrate her name.

Other residents have voiced concerns over health and safety.

Scientists, however, say the conditions on Kilauea make it a good site for harnessing the earth for renewable energy.

“There’s heat beneath the ground if you dig deep enough everywhere,” said Laura Wisland, a senior analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. But in some places in the U.S. “it’s just hotter, and you can access the geothermal energy more easily.”

Geothermal energy is also considered a clean resource as it doesn’t generate greenhouse gas emissions, said Bridget Ayling, the director of Nevada’s Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy.

Ormat said in a May 15 statement that there was a low risk of surface lava making its way to the facility. The company also said there was no damage to the facilities above-ground and that it was continuing to assess the impact. The plant is expected to begin operating “as soon as it is safe to do so,” according to the statement.

Puna Geothermal represents about 4.5 percent of Ormat’s worldwide generating capacity. Last year, the Hawaii plant generated about $11 million of net income for the company. Ormat is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, and shares have fallen nearly 10 percent since Kilauea began erupting.

Kaleikini said the gases that could potentially leak from the Puna plant are no different from those coming from active fissures.

The U.S. Geological Survey said sulfur dioxide emissions from the volcano have more than doubled since the current eruption began. Kilauea’s summit is now belching 15,000 tons (13,607 metric tons) of the gas each day up from 6,000 tons (5443 metric tons) daily prior to the May 3 eruption.

Scientists say lava from Kilauea is causing explosions as it enters the ocean, which can look like fireworks. When lava hits the sea and cools, it breaks apart and sends fragments flying into the air, which could land on boats in the water, said U.S. Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall.

Underscoring the eruption’s dangers, a Hawaii man was hit by a flying piece of lava over the weekend said the molten rock nearly sheared his leg in half.

Darryl Clinton told the Honolulu television station KHON that he was on the roof of a home helping to put out fires from flying rocks when an explosion several hundred yards away launched a “lava bomb” that him above the ankle.

Clinton said doctors saved his leg, but he must avoid putting weight on it for six weeks.

Clinton was the first person to suffer a major injury because of the eruption.

___

Yan reported from Honolulu. Associated Press writer Audrey McAvoy contributed from Honolulu.

___

Follow AP’s complete coverage of the Hawaii volcano here: https://apnews.com/tag/Kilauea

Markets Right Now: Stocks open lower on Wall Street

article

The latest on developments in financial markets (all times local):

Continue Reading Below

9:35 a.m.

Stocks are opening lower on Wall Street following a late slide the day before.

Technology companies, energy companies and banks led declines in early trading Wednesday.

Hewlett Packard Enterpise dropped 7 percent and Cimarex Energy fell 2 percent.

Target slumped 4.9 percent after reporting profits that came in below analysts’ forecasts.

Jewelry seller Tiffany soared 13.6 percent after its profits blew past Wall Street’s expectations.

The SP 500 index fell 11 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,713.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 108 points, or 0.4 percent, to 24,727. The Nasdaq composite fell 30 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,348.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 3.02 percent.

Markets Right Now: Stocks open lower on Wall Street

article

The latest on developments in financial markets (all times local):

Continue Reading Below

9:35 a.m.

Stocks are opening lower on Wall Street following a late slide the day before.

Technology companies, energy companies and banks led declines in early trading Wednesday.

Hewlett Packard Enterpise dropped 7 percent and Cimarex Energy fell 2 percent.

Target slumped 4.9 percent after reporting profits that came in below analysts’ forecasts.

Jewelry seller Tiffany soared 13.6 percent after its profits blew past Wall Street’s expectations.

The SP 500 index fell 11 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,713.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 108 points, or 0.4 percent, to 24,727. The Nasdaq composite fell 30 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,348.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 3.02 percent.

The next recession: When, and why it will happen

video

The Trump economy a win for Republicans in midterms?

National Center for Public Policy Research’s Horace Cooper on the impact of President Trump’s economic policies.

As the second-longest expansionary economic cycle in history continues, investors have started to fret about its end. When volatility picked up in the markets earlier this year, many were concerned that the end was near.

Continue Reading Below

Banks have held steady on their forecast for a slightly positive finish for the markets in 2018, with Wells Fargo noting that we are in the “late stages” of the economic expansionary cycle. If it won’t be this year, when will the economy’s growth engine stall?

According to the 2018 Q2 Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey, the U.S. will likely enter the next recession in 2020.

More than half of the survey participants, which included economists and real estate experts, expect the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monetary policy will be the trigger for the recession, which is most likely to start in the first quarter.

If the predictions are true, and the slowdown hits in the first quarter of 2020, then this will officially be the longest economic expansion cycle in history.

More from FOX Business

    “As we close in on the longest economic expansion this country has ever seen, meaningfully higher interest rates should eventually slow the frenetic pace of home value appreciation that we have seen over the past few years, a welcome respite for would-be buyers,” said Zillow senior economist Aaron Terrazas.

    Less than a year ago, survey participants predicted that a geopolitical crisis would most likely be the trigger for the next recession.

    The next recession: When, and why it will happen

    video

    The Trump economy a win for Republicans in midterms?

    National Center for Public Policy Research’s Horace Cooper on the impact of President Trump’s economic policies.

    As the second-longest expansionary economic cycle in history continues, investors have started to fret about its end. When volatility picked up in the markets earlier this year, many were concerned that the end was near.

    Continue Reading Below

    Banks have held steady on their forecast for a slightly positive finish for the markets in 2018, with Wells Fargo noting that we are in the “late stages” of the economic expansionary cycle. If it won’t be this year, when will the economy’s growth engine stall?

    According to the 2018 Q2 Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey, the U.S. will likely enter the next recession in 2020.

    More than half of the survey participants, which included economists and real estate experts, expect the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monetary policy will be the trigger for the recession, which is most likely to start in the first quarter.

    If the predictions are true, and the slowdown hits in the first quarter of 2020, then this will officially be the longest economic expansion cycle in history.

    More from FOX Business

      “As we close in on the longest economic expansion this country has ever seen, meaningfully higher interest rates should eventually slow the frenetic pace of home value appreciation that we have seen over the past few years, a welcome respite for would-be buyers,” said Zillow senior economist Aaron Terrazas.

      Less than a year ago, survey participants predicted that a geopolitical crisis would most likely be the trigger for the next recession.