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Monthly Archives: August 2016

OBAMA PAYS MEXICO FIVE BILLION DOLLARS TO KEEP DONALD TRUMP

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—President Barack Obama defended his decision on Wednesday to issue a payment of five billion dollars to Mexico to compel that nation to retain custody of Donald J. Trump.

The payment, which will be delivered to the Mexican government in hard American currency by Wednesday afternoon, will insure that Trump will remain in Mexico for the rest of his natural life.

“I have been assured by the government of Mexico that Mr. Trump will be well taken care of and, if he proves to be a productive member of their society, will be provided a pathway to Mexican citizenship,” Obama said.

While the transfer of funds to Mexico sparked howls of protest from some Trump supporters, it was hailed by congressional Democrats, as well as by over a hundred Republicans currently running for reëlection, including Arizona Senator John McCain.

The President bristled at the suggestion that paying Mexico to keep Trump was “reverse ransom” and an extravagant use of taxpayer money. “There is only one accurate word for this payment: “a bargain,” he said.

 

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ANN COULTER JUST GOT WRECKED BY COMEDIANS AT ROAST OF ROB LOWE

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It was supposed to be a roast of actor Rob Lowe, but then Ann Coulter showed up.

Comedy Central won’t be airing the Comedy Central Roast of Rob Lowe until Labor Day, but for rancid Trump supporter and conservative columnist Ann Coulter it will be a long wait.

Instead of focusing on riffing on Rob Lowe, the comedians on stage took turns burying Coulter over her hateful rhetoric directed at Latinos.

Saturday Night Live comedian Pete Davidson asked, “If you are here, Ann, who is scaring the crows away from our crops?”

And it only got worse from there.

Retired quarterback Peyton Manning, who is also a conservative and Papa John Schnatter’s bestest buddy, torched Coulter by unfairly comparing her to a horse. Of course, that’s just unfair to the horse.

“I’m not the only athlete up here,” Manning said. “As you know, earlier this year, Ann Coulter won the Kentucky Derby.”

The pile-on didn’t end there either.

Jeff Ross ripped Coulter a new one during his set.

“Ann Coulter wants to help Trump make America great again,” he began. “You can start by wearing a burka. You have a face that would make doves cry. That voice, it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard in an inner-city school you wanna defund. Ann’s against gay marriage. What’s your thinking on that? If I can’t get a husband they shouldn’t, either?”

Comedian Jimmy Carr went further than anyone. “Ann is one of the most repugnant, hateful, hatchet-face bitches alive,“ Carr said. “It’s not too late to change, Ann. You could kill yourself.”

“Not Safe” host Nikki Glaser said “Ann Coulter has written 11 books, 12 if you count Mein Kampf,” and added that, “The only person you will ever make happy is the Mexican who digs your grave.”

Roast Master David Spade even got in some digs of his own. “She seems stiff and conservative, but Ann gets wild in the sheets. Just ask the Klan,” he said. “It looks like she’s having a good time. I haven’t seen her laugh this hard since Trayvon Martin got shot.”

Singer-songwriter Jewel drew applause with her Coulter slam.

“As a feminist I can’t support everything that’s been said tonight, but as someone who hates Ann Coulter, I’m delighted.”

Obviously, Coulter was only there to promote her book, which she did by claiming that her appearance on stage had nothing to do with her book.

“I’m only here for all the love and respect I have for Rob Lowe and all of the talented performers tonight,” she said as the audience booed. “It has nothing to do with the book I published four days ago.”

To add further humiliation to Coulter’s evening her jokes fell flat which led to Rob Lowe to interrupt and deliver the line of the night.

“After seeing your set tonight, we’ve seen the first bombing you can’t blame on a Muslim,” he quipped.

Overall, it was a pretty embarrassing night for Coulter. As it turns out, Comedy Central may want to consider a new title for their special, because this certainly wasn’t the Comedy Central Roast of Rob Lowe. It was the Comedy Central Takedown of a Hateful Bigot Named Ann Coulter.

We’ll all now have to wait with anticipation for the video to come out on Monday, September 5th. Get your popcorn ready.

 

 

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Have we reached Peak Dog in our cities?

by Lloyd Alter 

Rosie and jasper

CC BY 2.0 Lloyd Alter/ Jasper (front) and Rosie (rear)

August 26 is National Dog Day. In New York State, it’s the law: WHEREAS, National Dog Day honors dogs by giving them “a day” to show deep appreciation for our long connection to each other; and for their endearing patience, unquestioning loyalty, for their work, their capacity for love and their ability to impact our lives everyday in the most miraculous ways.”

Yes, dogs are wonderful. My wife has one (Jasper, in the foreground) and so does my daughter (Rosie, in the background.) They tolerate me, and the feeling is mutual. But on this National Dog Day, I have to ask: Do dogs belong in the city?

The problem is one of doggy density; as our cities grow vertically to accommodate more people, you can reach a point of peak dog, with three main effects:

Poop.

pets map© Statsbee

There are a lot of dogs in our cities, and they make a lot of poop. According to Susan Freinkel in LiveScience, “America’s 83 million pet dogs produce some 10.6 million tons of poop every year. That’s enough to fill a line of tractor-trailers from Seattle to Boston”

Studies have traced 20 to 30 percent of the bacteria in water samples from urban watersheds to dog waste. Just two to three days of waste from 100 dogs can contribute enough bacteria, nitrogen and phosphorous to close 20 miles of a bay-watershed to swimming and shellfishing, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It also can get into the air we breathe: a recent study of air samples in Cleveland, Ohio, and Detroit, Mich. found that 10 to 50 percent of the bacteria came from dog poop.

Then there is the mess of it. In Toronto, where there are thousands of condos, many complain that the little parks have become dog toilets. People are supposed to pick up after their dogs and often do, and then leave little plastic bags of poop all over the city.Jim Yardley writes in the New York Times:

The problem is as universal as cockroaches, and seemingly as unsolvable. Urban dog ownership demands a balance of love and duty, and not everyone is dutiful about cleaning up after the morning walk. Cities have tried everything from the postal service (a Spanish mayor mailed the stuff back to dog owners) to shaming (some cities have publicized the names of offending owners) to bribery (some parks in Mexico City offered free Wi-Fi in exchange for bags of waste).

In Naples, Italy, they are so desperate that they are turning to DNA testing.

The idea is that every dog in the city will be given a blood test for DNA profiling in order to create a database of dogs and owners. When an offending pile is discovered, it will be scraped up and subjected to DNA testing. If a match is made in the database, the owner will face a fine of up to 500 euros, or about $685.

In Toronto, schools are plagued with dog droppings. As dramatically described in the Toronto Sun, “the stench of resentment has been building as parents and school staff confront neighbourhood dog owners.” One parent complains:

“The dog owners have to have some consideration for the health of the kids. I mean, (kids) are always putting their hands in their mouths … Nobody likes to see kids get sick.”

Noise

noise compaints© Ben Wellington, The New Yorker

As doggie density increases, so do noise complaints. In New York City there are whole websites devoted to complaining about dogs. People have been complaining in the Times since 1901:

barking dogsNew York Times July 28, 1901/Screen capture

There are laws regulating it, with fines in New York starting at $175 and rising to $525. And not just in the city, according to the more recent New York Times:

Barking dogs can be considered a nuisance. “There are dog barking laws across the state,” says Elinor D. Molbegott, an animal law lawyer in East Williston, N.Y., who served as general counsel for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “There are also noise ordinances and common law nuisance issues.”

As more people move into apartments and leave their dogs alone all day, the problem is only going to get worse.

Fear

poop signsign at Canoe Park/via

A lot of people are afraid of dogs. I am afraid of dogs. In Toronto where I live, so many people ignore the rules and let their dogs run off-leash, and it can be frightening. Dog lovers don’t always get this; Chris Selley asks in the National Post:

What sort of joyless crank would object to the sight of a friendly, well-behaved dog off his leash in a wide-open park, or trotting down a residential street?

Lots, apparently.

However good your dog might be off-leash, [dog trainer] Yeu argues, obeying the law is a matter of common courtesy. “It’s a symptom of the fact that maybe there aren’t enough off-leash spaces in the city, but regardless, that doesn’t make it OK,” he argues. “There are a lot of people who don’t like dogs, are fearful of dogs, or have allergies or medical issues related to dogs. The public shouldn’t have to tolerate that.” And clearly many don’t.

And it’s not like people have no reason to be afraid. Some scary stats:

  • Dog bites occur every 75 seconds in the United States. Each day, over 1,000 citizens need emergency medical care to treat these injuries.
  • In 2012, more than 27,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery as a result of being bitten by dogs.
  • Dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2015, costing more than $570 million.
  • A 2010 study showed that the average cost of a dog bite-related hospital stay was $18,200, about 50% higher than the average injury-related hospital stay
  • .

Dealing with doggie density

fountain in park toronto© Claude Cormier + Associés

It is a complex issue; increasing urban density is seen by many as key to reducing housing costs, getting people out of cars and building better cities for everyone. But just as cities need bike and transit infrastructure, we have to think more about dog infrastructure, dog runs and dog parks, and even dog fountains like Claude Cormier + Associés is building in Toronto. Dogs are not the only noise problem either; perhaps we need better noise standards, higher sound transmission coefficient requirements. As for the fear factor: I’m working on it, starting small.

 

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How Two Former Silicon Valley Engineers Amped Up Sales For Their Yarn Company With Subscriptions

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This August Laura and Doug Zander, the founders of Jimmy Beans Wool, a small but rapidly growing online yarn retailer based near Reno, Nev., launched what they thought would be an easy experiment: selling their customers subscriptions. It’s worked almost too well.” These are phenomenal problems to have,” says Laura.

The Zanders, both former Silicon Valley software engineers, have always been aggressive about growth. Since starting the business as a brick-and-mortar shop for knitters in 2002, they’ve grown–sometimes faster than was good for them–by trying everything they could think of, including working social media, writing books, pushing CEO Laura, 41, as a brand spokesperson, creating knitting classes and offering how-to videos on YouTube. Last year the 45–employee company had $8 million in revenue. (Here’s a profile of a company that makes the software that drives subscription businesses.)

The subscription idea began two years ago when Jimmy Beans (a fanciful name) started selling yarn samples online. Enough people were trying the big 20-yard balls at $1.50 a pop and going on to buy other stuff that the Zanders and their team started to wonder how much product they could move if they sold samples by subscription, the way BirchBox and Sephora sell b eauty products. Thus was born the Beanie Bags.

 

 

 

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FIXER UPPER: What you can learn from Joanna Gaines and her signature brand

by Betsey Guzior

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The exterior of the Magnolia Market on a quiet Wednesday. The Waco, Texas, home of Chip and Joanna Gaines opened last October. On weekends, lines form around the block to enter the store.

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WACO — If you can guess why I’m in a semi-industrial area of Waco, Texas, at 9 a.m. on a Wednesday in the middle of a heat wave — even for Texas — read on.

Because you know that I’m about to enter the Fixer Upper Wonderland, Magnolia Market.

This is the place built by the messiahs of shiplap, Chip and Joanna Gaines, whose HGTV show “Fixer Upper” launched a design and lifestyle brand.

Magnolia Market is the latest, but not the last, way that Joanna Gaines is taking her clean and rustic aesthetic into homes across America.

Her furniture line, Magnolia Homes, is entering its second year and rolling out at Value City Furniture stores nationwide. A magazine is planned to debut in October. Their bed and breakfast, Magnolia Home, just sold out its reservations for 2017. A book, “The Magnolia Story,” is due in October.

Do a quick Google search and you’ll find all sorts of fawning over the couple and the Fixer Upper brand.

It’s clear they have the magic touch.

So, I enter the “silos” (the nickname given to the complex built at the site of old grain silos) with a bit of fangirl glow that’s only 10 percent sweat.

But for me, it’s not about the stuff — the store after all is a Pinterest page come to life.

It’s about the careful branding the two have cultivated. It’s impressive, and there’s lots to learn from it.

The Fixer Upper style is as distinct as a fingerprint. Joanna Gaines’ design sense was informed long ago. Lots of white, a mix of old and new pieces, with a touch of minimalism. Joanna’s home first was featured in the Design Mom blog in 2012; a TV producer called them after and offered to film a pilot. Before that, the two were residential home builders. But the look was there.

The lesson: Find your style, and refine it, and refine it again.

When success comes, be ready. Magnolia Market opened last October, and the crowds came — sometimes overwhelming the town of Waco, which has been super supportive of the Gaines. During my trip, there were lots of staff prepared to help patrons find their favorite items.

The lesson: Anticipate how success can spoil your business, then make the appropriate moves.

You can’t fake authenticity. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram calls Magnolia Market a “Six Flags for shiplap,” a spot-on description of the place. It’s a direct extension of the couple’s TV personality — and is key to the believability of their brand. It’s a trait that endeared viewers to “Fixer Upper” early on and drives the connection the brand has with its fans now.

The lesson: Stay true to your brand, even if it means losing out on a short-term gain that could compromise it.

Bring your posse along for the ride. The city of Waco is the silent partner of the Gaines family. The town — formerly associated with a federal shootout with separatists in 1993, a 2015 biker bar shootout, and a sexual assault scandal at nearby Baylor University — welcomes “Fixer Upper” fans with large billboards. A cottage industry is growing around the Magnolia Market site. The couple also saved the grain silo site from possible demolition, and, in May, bought a beloved restaurant, the Elite Cafe, in downtown Waco.

The lesson: It pays to play nice with those around you because the success of one leads to the success of the other.

You can’t always control your brand. Stories last week revealed that many of the homeowners whose homes are featured on the program are renting them outthrough AirBnB or VRBO. Even Clint Harp, whose woodworking wonders make cameos on the show, is renting out his house, a historic two-story four square, after being unable to live without tourists driving by constantly. A half dozen homes are available for rent. That hasn’t made mama happy, as Chip would quip on the show. The couple is looking for ways to build in more restrictions on home rentals for future seasons.

The lesson: There are some problems you just can’t predict. If your brand is already strong, a few surprises won’t compromise your integrity.

 

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How to find happiness after retirement

by JENN SAVEDGE –

Happy retired couple

The biggest secret to happiness later in life? Don’t wait until you retire to find it. (Photo: goodluz/Shutterstock)

When most people think about retirement, they think about savings plans and investments — but retirement is about more than just money. It’s about health and family, finding meaning in life, and cultivating an attitude of positivity that encourages happiness at all stages of life.

Research shows that if you want to be happy in your golden years, you need to look at more than your financial bottom line. Here are five key things to keep in mind:

Multi-generational familyClose family is one of the secrets to leading a long and healthy life. (Photo: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock)

Stay close to family. A new study published in the Journal of Applied Gerontologyfound that older people who had more family members in their social networks and those who were close with their family members were less likely to die than those who were not as connected with their family. Interestingly, the same longevity connection could not be made for retirees who had many friends — regardless of how many friends they had or how close they were to them. Researchers noted that their study underscores the importance of family to long-term health. In other words, even if they sometimes drive you crazy, staying close to family may just help you live longer.

Senior woman volunteeringAbout 59 percent of surveyed seniors said giving back to others in a hands-on and focused way gave them the most happiness in retirement. (Photo: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock)

Volunteer. A recent survey mentioned in the Wall Street Journal found that when retirees were asked what brought them the most happiness, most said their greatest happiness came from helping people in need rather than focusing only on themselves. The survey found that seniors who volunteer and/or donate money to others were happier (66 percent vs. 52 percent) and healthier (50 percent vs. 43 percent) than those who did not regularly give to others.

Seniors running in the parkIt’s never too late to start a daily exercise regime. (Photo: Tom Wang/Shutterstock)

Stay active. Physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of premature death after smoking, excessive drinking and obesity. So it’s really never too late to make exercise a part of your routine. According to a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine of 3,454 people over the age of 64, active adults who continued to exercise into retirement were seven times as likely to be healthy agers as those who were not active. If you’re starting from ground zero, talk to your doctor to get the green light before you start exercising.

Senior woman at workLike gardening? A part-time job at a greenhouse may give you more enjoyment than spending those same hours at home. (Photo: Tyler Olsen/Shutterstock)

Keep working. Some of the happiest retirees are those who ease into retirement by transitioning to a part-time job or picking up an encore career that more closely aligns with their interests. The key is to stay busy, whether that’s with work (paid or unpaid) or hobbies. One survey found that seniors who had 10 or more regular activities reported more satisfaction with their retirement than those who engaged in five or fewer.

Woman having fun riding a bikeDon’t wait until you retire to find happiness in life. (Photo: Olga Danylenko/Shutterstock)

Don’t wait. If you think you have to wait until you retire to find happiness, you’re wrong. Sure, retirement frees up some of the time you might need to pursue different hobbies, but the truth is, if you think you have to postpone happiness until you retire, you likely won’t find it then either. Retirement is a stage in your life. Happiness is not. It’s something that you should seek out everyday in connections with your family, meaningful work, physical activity, and by giving back to your community.

Cultivate happiness now and you’ll be sure to have even more of it in retirement.

 

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“Free Trade”: The Elites Are Selling It But The Public Is No Longer Buying

by Dave Johnson –

“Voters have figured out that our country’s current “free trade” policies are killing their jobs, wages, cities, regions and the country’s middle class,” writes Johnson.

“Free trade”: The elites are selling it but the public is longer buying it. Look at the support for Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Donald Trump, especially in light of Sanders’ surprise 20-point comeback in this week’s Michigan primary. With primaries coming soon in Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina, will Sanders’ trade appeal resonate again?

Voters See Free Trade Killing Their Jobs And Wages

Voters have figured out that our country’s current “free trade” policies are killing their jobs, wages, cities, regions and the country’s middle class. Giant multinational corporations and billionaires do great under free trade, the rest of us not so much.

Elites say increasing trade is always good. But when you close a factory here, then open the factory “there” and bring the same goods back to sell in the same outlets, you have “increased trade” because those goods now cross a border. The differential between wages paid here and there goes into the pockets of the executives and shareholders. Those unemployed American workers add to wage pressures on the rest of us. Inequality increases.

There are other bad consequences as the effects of free trade ripple through local economies. The stores and gas stations and restaurants where the workers shopped and dined have to cut back. The factory’s suppliers have to cut back and lay off, too. Property values drop in the neighborhoods where all of those workers lived. The local tax base erodes. Roads and buildings and downtowns deteriorate… (The old lead pipes going to the houses do not get replaced.)

On a national scale, these local effects add up to a tragedy.

The national industrial ecosystem collapses as well. The manufacturing “know-how” migrates out of the country. The schools that taught people how to do what the factory did drop those classes. The investors who know how to evaluate manufacturing proposals go away. The raw materials pipeline migrates away. Reviving the outsourced industries will require tremendous and nationally coordinated investment.

For decades we’ve been told all this is actually good for “us.” But people have come to understand that the “us” this is good for doesn’t include about 99 percent of “us” or our country.

Trade Behind Sanders’ Michigan Upset

Sanders’ Michigan primary upset was most likely driven by his repeated trade message. Michigan’s primary upset demonstrates again that voters have caught on that our country’s trade policies have sent millions of jobs out of the country, put tremendous downward pressure on wages, decimated regions of the country (Flint, Detroit, the “rust belt”) and are dealing a death blow to America’s middle class.

Watch this Sanders ad on the damage our trade deals have done:

While people talk about “NAFTA” (the North American Free Trade Agreement) the term is really used as a shorthand for all of our country’s disastrous trade policies, including the millions of jobs and tens of thousands of factories outsourced to China.

Dave Jamieson, Labor Reporter at The Huffington Post, writes about how trade contributed to Sanders’ upset, in “Why Bernie Sanders And Donald Trump Won The Michigan Primaries“:

The exit polling from Michigan indicates that most voters there are wary of free trade agreements — and that Sanders and Trump drubbed their opponents among those voters.

According to CNN, 58 percent of Democratic voters polled after casting ballots said they believe U.S. trade with other countries takes away U.S. jobs, compared with just 30 percent who said they believe it creates them. Among that group, Sanders won by a whopping 17-point margin: 58 percent to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s 41 percent. He won the primary overall by less than a 2-point margin.

[. . .] Trade — and resentment toward U.S. trade policy — has been the sleeper issue in 2016.  By eliminating trade barriers with low-wage countries, the North American Free Trade Agreement and subsequent treaties over the past two decades have encouraged U.S. companies to move jobs to countries where workers are paid less.

Sanders has made a point of pressing Clinton on trade throughout the Democratic debates, including just days ago. The Vermont independent has been a vocal opponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal with 12 Pacific Rim countries championed by President Barack Obama. Clinton’s stance on the deal hasn’t beennearly as clear.

The New York Times reported in “Trade and Jobs Key to Victory for Bernie Sanders“:

Mr. Sanders pulled off a startling upset in Michigan on Tuesday by traveling to communities far from Detroit and by hammering Mrs. Clinton on an issue that resonated in this still-struggling state: her past support for trade deals that workers here believe robbed them of manufacturing jobs. Almost three-fifths of voters said that trade with other countries was more likely to take away jobs, according to exit polls by Edison Research, and those voters favored Mr. Sanders by a margin of more than 10 points.

At The Washington Post, David Weigel and Lydia DePillis write in, “Voters skeptical on free trade drive Sanders, Trump victories in Michigan“:

The salience of trade, in a state where unemployment had tumbled more than half since the start of the Great Recession, blindsided a Democratic Party that has struggled to find coherence between its labor base and its neoliberal leadership. It also worried Republicans, whose leaders and donors are resolutely in favor of free trade.

“There has been a bipartisan conventional wisdom that the damage done to working-class jobs and incomes are simply part of inevitable changes, ones we cannot and should not challenge,” said Larry Mishel, president of the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. “Even President Obama is blaming inequality problems on technological change, which is not even a plausible explanation for post-2000 America. People correctly understand that many elites simply believe that wage stagnation is something we cannot change.”

… In Michigan, exit pollsters for the first time asked voters whether they thought trade created or took away American jobs. The “take away” faction made up 55 percent of the Republican primary vote and 57 percent of the Democratic primary vote. Trump won the GOP faction with 45 percent, and Sanders won the Democratic side with 56 percent.

Trump, Too

A YUGE part of Donald Trump’s appeal is his position on trade. A new poll shows that 66% of Republican voters oppose TPP.

Last week’s post, Trump Taps Into Economic Anxiety Resulting From ‘Free Trade’ noted that “Trump is tapping into an economic anxiety felt by many, many Americans. Our trade policies are at the root of this anxiety, and Trump knows it and says it, and people nod their heads.” Here is Trump speaking after the “Super Tuesday” primaries:

Our nation is in serious trouble. we’re being killed on trade, absolutely destroyed, China is just taking advantage of us. I have nothing against China, I have great respect for China but their leaders are just too smart of our leaders, our leaders don’t have a clue. And the trade deficits at 400 billion dollars and 500 billion dollars, are too much, no country can sustain that kind of trade deficit. It won’t be that way for long, we have the greatest business leaders in the world, on my team already, and believe me we’re going to redo those trade deals and it’s going to be a thing of beauty.

Trump has been sounding this message throughout his campaign. Here is Trump on trade from last November:

Trump on Sanders:

“I’ll tell you, there’s one thing that we’ve very similar on,” Trump said during a town hall hosted by MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. “He knows that our country is being ripped off big league, big league, on trade.”

Elites Getting The Message

The country’s elites might just be getting the message. The D.C. insider newsletter Daily 202 agrees, in “Six explanations for Bernie Sanders’s surprise win in Michigan“:

1. A message of economic populism, particularly protectionism, is much more potent in the Rust Belt than we understood.

Most Michiganders feel like they are victims of trade deals, going back to NAFTA under Bill Clinton, and they’re deeply suspicious of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Outsourcing has helped hollow out the state’s once mighty manufacturing core.

Trump and Sanders both successfully tapped into this.

Six in 10 Michigan Democratic primary voters said international trade takes away U.S. jobs, and Sanders won these voters by roughly 20 points, according to preliminary exit poll data reported by CNN. Only 3 in 10 thought trade creates jobs; Clinton won that group.

One-third of voters said Clinton is too pro-business. Sanders won more than four in five of them.

… Clinton, after speaking supportively of the TPP, flip-flopped once the agreement was signed.

Similarly, D.C.-insider Politico, “5 takeaways from Bernie’s Michigan miracle“:

4. Free trade is Clinton’s albatross. Just as the cable networks were calling the shocker for Sanders, an email popped into my inbox from one architect of Obama’s 2008 triumph, who was travelling overseas. “Americans really hate free trade,” he wrote. “Don’t know how else to explain it. Same thing running through republican race.”

Clinton … has the burden of schlepping the albatross of NAFTA with her throughout the Midwest. This is where voters’ lack of trust and her core belief in the value of open markets for American manufacturers collide: When Clinton questions free trade nobody really believes her; Sanders’ thunderous anti-free trade talk taps a vein of deep grievance, his cash advantage allowed him to saturate markets with word of his opposition to TPP and NAFTA – and his debate-stage answer on the topic was pithier and more convincing than Clinton’s.

Will Sanders’ Trade Position Resonate In Upcoming Primaries?

There are primaries coming soon in Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina, and there are signs that a fair trade message is breaking through. The Alliance for American Manufacturing took a look at one of these states, Ohio, writing in,” Ohioans Love Manufacturing — and Favor Getting Tough on China Trade“:

And a new statewide poll of likely Ohio voters finds trade will likely be a dominant issue in the March 15 primary, as vast majorities of respondents worry that the United States has “lost too many manufacturing jobs” and think it would be effective to “crack down on foreign countries that violate their trade agreements.”

… Conducted Feb. 27 to March 2 by Public Opinion Research and The Mellman Group, the poll looked at voter opinion on trade, manufacturing and the presidential candidates. Researchers discovered that while support for American manufacturing is nearly universal, majorities of respondents are worried about a shrinking middle class and the impact of manufacturing job loss.

Most participants are also concerned about foreign trade, including with China. Ninety-one percent agreed that it’s time for crack down on countries that violate trade agreements, and 83 percent said that it is important that China is officially declared a currency manipulator.

… Other key findings:

● 93 percent of participants worry that the U.S. has “lost too many manufacturing jobs in this country.”

● 74 percent of participants have unfavorable views of “manufactured goods made in China,” including 77 percent of “conservative” respondents.

● 96 percent of participants are favorable of “manufactured goods made in America,” including 98 percent of “conservative members of the GOP.”

● 92 percent of participants think that “too many jobs are being shipped overseas” and 86 percent are worried they “don’t seem to manufacture anything here in America anymore.”

Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina have also been hammered by outsourcing of jobs caused by trade policies and likely have similar sentiments.

There Is A Better Way To Do Trade

Current U.S. trade policies are written by representatives of multinational corporations with the intent of locking in their dominance while driving wages and environmental costs down. The resulting agreements are clearly in their interests and not the rest of us. Our country’s enormous, humongous trade deficit is a metric for understanding the damage being done to our country.

Now that the public is clearly rejecting the current trade approach, there are alternatives available. Just having non-corporate stakeholders including representatives of labor, consumer, human rights, environmental and other groups at the table would bring about a more fair and just trade regime.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus has released “Trade Principles that Put Workers First in Trade Agreements.” Click through for details, but summarized:

● Protect Congress’ Authority to Set Trade Policy
● Restore Balanced trade
● Put Workers First
● Stop Currency Manipulation
● Expand Buy America Procurement Practices
● Protect the Environment for Future Generations
● Prioritize Consumers above Profits
● Protect Nationhood Rights
● Secure Affordable Access to Essential Medicines and Services
● Respect Human Rights
● Provide a Safety Net for Vulnerable Workers

The 2013 AFL-CIO convention passed Resolution 12: America and the World Need a New Approach to Trade and Globalization, calling for a “people-centered trade policy” that will:

● Create shared gains for the workers whose labor creates society’s wealth.
● Strengthen protections for the environment. Companies must not use trade rules to pit one country’s environmental rules against another, as they seek the lowest-cost place to produce.
● Protect the freedom to regulate in the public interest.
● Set rules for fair competition. Workers of a nation must not be unduly disadvantaged by unfair economic competition resulting from choices about how to organize their economies.
● Include strong rules of origin so that trade agreements are not merely a conduit to ease the global corporation’s race to the bottom.
● Not provide extraordinary privileges to foreign investors.
● Effectively address currency manipulation.
● Retain the ability for all nations to stimulate their economies through domestic infrastructure and spending programs.
● Protect the right of governments to choose the scope and level of public services to provide.
● Protect intellectual property (IP) in a fair and balanced manner.
● Protect the unique U.S. transportation regulatory and legal structure.
● Protect the right of governments to secure the integrity and stability of their financial systems.
● Be negotiated in an open, democratic and accountable manner.
● Be flexible and responsive.

 

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Avoid That Pain in the… 3 Ways to Reduce Saddle Sores

In any sport, there are certain injuries that are considered “badges of honor” — unavoidable misfortunes that we can chalk up to experience and the journey toward becoming serious athletes in our favorite pursuits.

For cyclists, IT band soreness and broken collarbones are ones we encounter from time to time. But there’s one that’s much more common — and a little harder to discuss with your friends: saddle sores.

Yup, that skin irritation in the, well, most sensitive part of your gear. In some ways, saddle sores are inevitable, but the good news is they don’t need to be a frequent part of your cycling experience. Here are three tips to minimize their effect and keep you riding in comfort.

1. Get out of your chamois.

There’s always that one person who will tell you stories about how he wears his chamois all day and never gets saddle sores. Ultimately, it’s good practice to get out of your wet cycling gear as soon as possible so your skin can start healing in a dry and clean environment. There’s a great book on this topic by MapMyFitness contributor Molly Hurford (and, full disclosure, my fiancée!) entitled Saddle, Sore: A Women-Only Guide to You and Your Bike. One of its suggestions is to change out of your bike shorts as soon as you’re done riding, especially if you’re prone to irritation or infections.

Evan Guthrie of the Norco Factory Team has found a huge benefit to getting out of his chamois and showering as soon as possible after a ride. “I’ll grab a recovery shake, then go get clean to help reduce the chances of needing extra recovery days due to something like a saddle sore,” he says, “which helps me achieve more quality workouts over the course of a season.”

2. Stand up.

As a coach, this is an area I often ask about, as many cyclists are told to never stand up because it’s inefficient. In fact, the standing motion makes steep climbs easier and also has the benefit of letting pressure off your saddle area. (In other words, if your butt hurts, stop sitting on it so much!) If you find yourself inside or on very flat, monotonous terrain, try setting a timer to remind you to stand or, better yet, try searching for more variety in your rides to challenge skills like cornering, climbing and standing. The key to standing is learning to transfer your weight from one pedal to the other to find balance twice per pedal stroke. Try pausing at the bottom of each pedal stroke while looking ahead and feeling your all your weight over that pedal.

3. Check your laundry detergent.

If your saddle sores are more of a rash and worsen regardless of how much you clean up or how much fiddling you do with your bike setup, it might be good to try a hypoallergenic detergent. One of the key changes Hurford recommends in Saddle, Sore is washing your shorts with the chamois facing out and using an extra rinse to make sure all the detergent is removed before drying and wearing.

If you find your sores aren’t gone within a few rides, it’s worth taking a day or two off from riding. If they still don’t improve, visit your doctor to ensure you don’t require a more advanced topical treatment. Respecting your tissue will help you prevent extended periods off your bike or, worse, surgery. And that’s way more uncomfortable than just talking about it.

 

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Brutal Truths That Will Make You a Better Person

 

1. Nobody is actually too busy to respond to you.
That guy or girl isn’t too busy to answer your text. That employer isn’t too busy to answer your email. If you’re not hearing back from someone, it’s because they have deliberately chosen not to answer you. And the sooner you stop making excuses for the people who don’t make you a priority, the sooner you can move on to the people and situations that do.
2. Everyone has his or her own best interests at heart.
No matter how genuine, kindhearted or caring a particular person is, they’re always going to be more aware of their own needs than they are of yours. Even the most attentive lover may not realize they’re pushing your buttons if you never tell them they’re doing so. Even the most honest employer may not be aware that they’re working you into the ground if you just keep accepting more work.
Unfortunately, other people are going to be aware that they’re stretching your limits, but will nonetheless push you unless and until they encounter resistance. Most people are going to take as much from you as you let them get away with – which means it’s up to you to define and uphold your own boundaries. The most powerful people aren’t afraid to say ‘No,’ to what they don’t want to do – because they know that nobody’s going to stick up for them if they don’t stick up for themselves.
3. You are never going to please everybody.
If you actually listened to what every single person wanted from you, you’d end up a lifeless, shapeless, emotionless blob. And then someone would come along and tell you to be more interesting.
The truth is, it’s impossible to please everybody. There will always be someone who’s offended by the most traditional life path or bored by the most radical one. You’re going to be criticized no matter what you do, so you might as well do what you love. Because if there’s anyone whose judgment you should listen to, it’s your own.
 
4. The world owes you absolutely nothing.
You may be the coolest, kindest, smartest, most interesting person in the world, but if you’re not putting any of those traits to work, you’re entitled to absolutely nothing in exchange for possessing them.
Truly powerful people know that there are two basic choices: You can spend your entire life feeling sorry for yourself because you deserve more than you’re getting, or you can go out into the world and actually claim what’s yours. Guess which choice the more successful people tend to opt for?
5. The prize for arguing on behalf of your restrictions is getting to keep them.
You can spend your entire life loudly declaring to others that you don’t have the time, money, energy or resources to accomplish the things you actually want. And all of what you claim may be true – but the harsh truth is, every single person on the planet has at least one damn good excuse for not pursuing the life they want.
The difference between the people who get what they want out of life and those who don’t is that the people who get what they want ignore their excuses. They find a way around their limitations, instead of just bitching about them, and that is the very reason why they succeed.
6. Your actions define you, not your thoughts.
You can sit indoors all day conceptualizing a better world, but until you get out there and start implementing change, you’re not actually making a difference. Good intention is a wonderful thing but unless it’s coupled with action, it counts for nothing. At the end of the day, your character is determined by what you do, not by what you think about.
7. Nobody is coming to save you from your life.
We all want to believe that the person of our dreams, the job opportunity of a lifetime or the surprise that we never expected is waiting around the corner for us. When we’re unhappy with where we are, we irrationally hope that a drastic change in circumstance will come along and save us from our misery.
But the truth of the matter is, life doesn’t work that way. Nobody’s heading your way on a white horse and if you want to see change in your life, you have to create it from the ground up.
This is what the most powerful people know. When times get tough, the strongest people strap on their own armor, mount that white horse and come to their own rescue. Because they know that if anyone is going to save their day, it’s going to have to be them.
 

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I am what’s wrong with America*

*according to some guy

On Friday, I went on TV and called for empathy for supporters of Donald Trump. Forget the candidate for a second, I said. Let us ask what kind of pain is throbbing in those precincts most drawn to his theme of destructive renewal. And let us ask, those of us who have felt history to be moving in our direction, whether we listened to — not redressed, but listened to — the grievances of our “brothers and sisters” before they graduated into anger:

I think we need to listen to each other again…The fact that immigration scares people. I’m a son of immigrants. I’m not going to reduce my commitment to immigration. But can I empathize with the fact that if your town was 95 percent all white and now it’s down to 60, that that can scare you? Can I empathize with that? Yeah. And did people like me do a good job of doing that? No. We didn’t. And I think we need to rediscover each other as a people. We need to hear each other’s stories. We need to listen. We need to adopt someone from the other side and just say, like, “Beneath your ideas, what is the life story that gives rise to those ideas?” We need to do that at the level of individual conversations, families, TV shows. But we have a huge getting-back-together to accomplish.

Normally, the quote above would suffice, but I must share a screenshot, because it will explain everything that is wrong with America (according to some guy).

I received a few warm, generous notes from people around the country afterward. One said, simply and eloquently,

thanks for recognizing our deeply felt hurt today

just retired from manufacturing,

Dennis

Another wrote a thoughtful note about supporting Trump-Pence only after giving up hope on his anti-powers-that-be dream ticket: Trump-Sanders:

People throughout the world would have been shocked to see that Democracy can and does work when people are reasonable enough to debate and compromise.

But on Facebook, some guy named James didn’t like my call for reconciliation. He offered this comment:

An effeminate, domesticated male like you will never comprehend this rage. You are literally incapable of viscerally understanding. The rage will continue. What are we upset about? We are upset that a guy like you has a voice in the public square. You can be in the square as long as you sit in the corner, facing outward without a pen and pencil and only speak when spoken to. That is the source of the rage. What is the deal with your hair? Grow up man/boy.

When I saw this comment, I was engaged in an activity that didn’t put me in a very good position to refute his charge of failing to live up to his standards of manliness. But still I answered:

James, I’m not sure what about me made you so worry for your own masculinity, but I am trying to reach out across the divides of the country I assume we both love. I will keep trying. And I will be happy to listen if you want to share your ideas and experiences and can muster the grace to do so. Now, if you’ll excuse me, this domesticated effeminate has to go feed his son.

Now, James didn’t like this. So he explained what it was that so offended him about my call for empathy. It was, let us say, visual. I, apparently, hadn’t assimilated enough. Which is strange, since I’m from Cleveland. He wrote:

Anand, your focus should be on assimilation and not celebrating diversity. The divisions in our nation are caused by cultural Marxism and the desire of newcomers not to assimilate but demand that the dominant culture celebrate the new that they are brining. How do we reach across the divides? The answer is for the new to assimilate. You can start by your hair.

(As an aside, I think James meant “bringing,” not “brining,” but while I have you, certain dishes really do benefit from brining, and I know you are tempted, as I am, to skip that step in your recipes, and you really shouldn’t.)

I now countered James on two fronts. First of all, my hair is American. My hairstyle is not common in India, where my parents come from. Not least because I get my hair cut in Harlem, by a Japanese woman, and doing this would be an inconvenience for 95 percent of Indians living in India. Second, I noticed on Facebook that James’s parents had been missionaries to Japan, and that James himself was born in that country. I wondered how being a missionary and bringing your foreign religion to other people squared with James’s criticism of “the desire of newcomers not to assimilate but demand that the dominant culture celebrate the new that they are brining.” (Again, we assume he meant “bringing.” But do remember to brine!) I asked him,

When your parents went to Japan, did they assimilate into local religious traditions, or did they try to get people to celebrate the new they were bringing? Just wondering.

Oh, no. This James did not like one bit. Not one bit. He came back at me:

My parents went with the distinct purpose to change the Japanese view of religion. Let me educate you the purpose of missionaries is to go and convert people in this case to Christianity.

People that leave everything to come to America to become Americans are not doing that. It’s a shame that I have to explain the difference between the role of a missionary and the role of an immigrant to you.

Your hair is a symbol of your rebellion and your condescension to the dominant culture here in America. Like a Japanese robe wandering business hours and afro or the henya above Spanish words.

If you want to be helpful here in America young man what you need to do is cut your hair and encourage other immigrants rather than focusing on diversity to focus on assimilation.

What is the problem in America the problem is people like you that believe in cultural Marxism division rather than Unity.

Let me educate you again. Grab one of the pieces of currency in your pocket and write the words e Pluribus Unum a hundred times.

What is the bridge that needs to be overcome what needs to be done for Unity in this country people like you your generation and your worldview to change towards assimilation and not to be focused on diversity.

What is the fuel behind the Trump phenomenon? A visceral reaction to Someone Like You on our television screen?

Step 1 get a haircut, step to focus your mind set your world view on assimilation and not diversity, step 3 show some humility.

When Trump says he wants to build a wall, when he says we should not be politically correct any longer, Anand you should view that as a rhetorical missile headed straight for you.

We’re tired of being asked to change, it’s over, you go get a haircut.

Bless your heart😉

Make sure you do your homework there will be a test.

One of the things I have gotten to appreciate about James is that his words really speak for themselves. So I will only need to make a few observations in closing.

  1. James asks me to be “helpful here in America.” But James appears, according to his Facebook check-ins, to be in Japan at this very moment. Though we do not see eye to eye, I hope they do not build any wall before he has the chance to rejoin us here in America.
  2. James suggests that I cut my hair and “encourage other immigrants rather than focusing on diversity to focus on assimilation.” Here’s the thing, James. “Other immigrants” wouldn’t be the correct formulation here, because I AM NOT AN IMMIGRANT. I was born in Cleveland. And you, according to your Facebook bio, were born in Japan, which would make you the immigrant, James, wouldn’t it now? Welcome to America.
  3. Your missionary/immigrant distinction makes no sense, because it is designed for self-justification. By your logic, a missionary is a category of immigrant who is entitled to bend local culture to his or her tastes, and a plain old immigrant is any non-missionary person not entitled to do so. So basically a missionary is an immigrant who auto-exempts himself or herself from the duty (as you see it) to assimilate. This goes to show that the missionary position is not only boring but also sometimes wrong.
  4. A question, James: What culture did the early colonial settlers discover in America, and do you believe they were bound to assimilate into it? And did they?
  5. James, my man: What do you mean by “a Japanese robe wandering business hours and afro or the henya above Spanish words”? Whatever you mean by that cluster of words, that is a party I want to be at, and because I live in New York, I can be at such a party tonight if I wish.
  6. In closing, I just want to say, James, that, as an immigrant, you are and always will be welcome in my America. I’m a Cleveland Indian by birth. You are a Nerima Yankee, one could say. I have hope for you and me. And I have hope for America, because as I browsed the Facebook page of the man behind the venom, I noticed the absolute strangest thing:

I will take your desire for my friendship — still not revoked by you, still not answered by me at this hour — as a sign of how the republic we share might get out of this dark, sad moment: speak our truths, listen to each other’s, heal, repair, rectify, restore, and maybe, after all that, become friends.

 

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