Wednesday, June 14, 2017
US Fed hikes rates; Mini helicopters to challenge flying cars; Qatar pulls out troops from Africa
1 US Fed hikes rates (BBC) The US Federal Reserve has said it would raise its key interest rate by 0.25%, the second rise this year. The central bank voted to raise its key rate target to a range of 1% to 1.25%. That's the highest level since 2008, when policymakers cut rates to encourage borrowing and spending after the financial crisis.
The bank also said it would begin cutting its bond holdings and other securities this year. It cited continued US economic growth and job market strength as reasons for raising its benchmark interest rate. "Our decision ... reflects the progress the economy has made and is expected to make," said Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
The rise was widely anticipated after a low unemployment rate, but other economic indicators, including inflation, have been weaker. The Fed's statement noted that price rises have slowed recently. Inflation is below the target of 2%. But then Fed Chair Janet Yellen thinks a large part of that is down to falls in specific prices.
2 Mini helicopters to challenge flying cars (Khaleej Times) As global automakers compete to bring the first flying car to market, Czech pilot Pavel Brezina is trying a different tack: instead of creating a car that flies, he has made a "GyroDrive" -- a mini helicopter you can drive.
The engineer and owner of Nirvana Systems, a company producing motors for small flying machines, insists his vehicle is the first in the world authorised to operate both on roads and in the air. "Everyone is trying to make a high-speed car that can fly, but this is a different thing," said the tall, bespectacled 51-year-old, who has 30 years' experience as a pilot under his belt.
His GyroDrive vehicle is based on a gyroplane -- a mini-helicopter -- that uses a copter-style rotor to move up and down, and an aeroplane-type "pusher propeller" to go forward. Brezina's company buys gyroplane kits from a German firm, and then assembles and equips them with a system allowing the pilot-driver to switch between a petrol engine propelling the rotors and an electric engine that drives the wheels.
The two-seat GyroDrive has a maximum driving speed of just 40 kmph (25 mph) and can take its crew of two on short drives to a petrol station or a hotel. It needs less than 100 metres (110 yars) to take off and reaches a top speed of 180 kmph in the air. Its flying range is 600 kilometres.
After landing, the pilot only has to fix the main rotor blades along the axis of the GyroDrive and pull out a built-in licence plate to transform it into a road vehicle. Prices start at $63,500.
3 Qatar pulls out troops from Africa (San Francisco Chronicle) Qatar said Wednesday it has pulled all of its troops from the border of Djibouti and Eritrea, east African nations that have a long-running territorial dispute which Doha had helped mediate.
Qatar offered no explanation for the move, though it comes amid a diplomatic dispute with other Arab nations that have cut diplomatic ties and now are trying to isolate Qatar from the rest of the world. While the dispute hasn't escalated to a military confrontation, Qatar's military is dwarfed by neighboring Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two of its biggest opponents in the crisis.
The 450 Qatari troops controlled a mountainous border crossing between Eritrea and Djibouti, said Nasredin Ali, a spokesman for Eritrea's biggest armed group, known as the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization. Eritrean forces moved in after the troops departed, Ali said.
Doha mediated the conflict between the two countries in 2010. Gulf nations have stationed troops in both African countries, using that as a jumping-off point for the ongoing Saudi-led war in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have accused Qatar of supporting terrorism and severed ties with Doha last week. Qatar denies the allegations, but its ties to Iran and embrace of various Islamist groups have put the country under intense scrutiny.