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Zorro

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 13,579

Journal Archives

'A punch in the gut': Farmers hit by tariffs see crops swept away by flood

His farm is still cut off by floodwaters, so Iowa soybean farmer Pat Sheldon had to view the damage from the air. On a helicopter ride over what seemed like an endless stretch of water, he came to a place he recognized as his own land — and saw that one of the grain silos had burst open, spilling yellow soybeans into the dingy, toxic water.

“It was like a punch in the gut,” Sheldon said.

“You work hard planting, taking care of these beans and harvesting them. Then, to have that happen makes you almost physically ill,” he said. “But I haven’t had time to get mad — too many responsibilities and people that need still need help.”

Although the water has yet to recede enough for a true examination, Sheldon says more than $350,000 of his corn and soybeans is in jeopardy, and he worries he may lose the farm that’s been in his family for generations.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/a-punch-in-the-gut-farmers-hit-by-tariffs-see-crops-swept-away-by-flood/2019/03/23/e31fbf4a-7405-4ad3-8445-1c654c82e14a_story.html

The article includes the requisite quote by a farmer about how they still support Trump's trade policies.

Treasury yield curve inverts for first time since 2007, underlining recession worries

A closely watched measure of the Treasury yield curve inverted Friday for the first time since 2007, highlighting fears that a global slowdown will take a toll on the U.S. economy.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, -3.17% fell nearly 11 basis points to 2.428%, pushing it below the yield on the three-month T-bill at 2.453%. An inversion of that portion of the yield curve is seen as a reliable warning of a potential recession within a year or two. Inversions have preceded every U.S. recession going back to 1955 with only one false positive, researchers at the San Francisco Federal Reserve found. While inversions of other portions of the curve have also served as recession indicators, the researchers said the 3-month/10-year measure is the most reliable.

Bond yields around the world tumbled after a raft of disappointing purchasing-managers-index readings for the eurozone affirmed fears of lackluster growth in the 19-member group already contending with a trade slowdown and Brexit uncertainty. This comes after the Federal Reserve cut back on its interest-rate projections from two to none this week, with Fed Chairman Jerome Powell citing global economic headwinds for the cautious stance. Yields tend to retreat when growth prospects sour, and inflation fears have waned.

U.S. stocks, meanwhile, accelerated losses as the yield curve inverted.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-year-german-bond-yield-flirts-with-zero-after-lackluster-eurozone-pmis-2019-03-22

This is not a good sign.

Trump's 'socialist' rhetoric is lazy name-calling from a lazy thinker

President Trump has made fearmongering about “socialism” a key plank of his reelection campaign. It’s more lazy name-calling from a lazy thinker, but this time the lazy name-calling may backfire.

For years, Trump has premised his political pitch on the idea that he alone can protect Americans from the many invaders who wish us harm — chiefly immigrants, terrorists and globalists. Lately, he’s added another boogeyman to the bunch, one that’s supposedly homegrown: socialists.

In this year’s State of the Union, he declared, “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country,” as if that were ever truly a risk. He has ramped up similar comments in recent months and has now enlisted his economic advisers in his fight against the great socialist straw man.

Ever since 1947, the White House Council of Economic Advisers has released its annual Economic Report of the President. This enormous tome is supposed to summarize the trends in the economy and lay out the president’s vision for solving ongoing and future challenges. Though the document usually has some political spin — the president’s economic advisers want their boss to look good, after all — it usually sticks to legitimate economic concerns facing the country. Not so this time.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-socialist-rhetoric-is-lazy-name-calling-from-a-lazy-thinker/2019/03/21/8a981252-4c14-11e9-9663-00ac73f49662_story.html

VA is gearing up for a massive shift of health care to the private sector

President Trump’s signature policy for veterans — allowing more of them to shift their health care from the government-run system to private doctors and hospitals — is under attack from newly empowered Democrats and their allies on Capitol Hill.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie is moving quickly to roll out new rules by June that would expand access to private care, especially for veterans in rural and congested areas, if they have a 30-minute drive to receive primary care.

Within two years, as many as half the 7 million veterans now seen at VA could receive their care elsewhere, advocates of the change say.

Trump’s proposed budget, released last week, includes up to $3.2 billion in new spending next year for private-sector visits, including to walk-in clinics.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/va-is-gearing-up-for-a-massive-reroute-of-health-care-to-the-private-sector-but-democrats-are-fighting-back/2019/03/21/637f732a-467b-11e9-90f0-0ccfeec87a61_story.html

Venezuela has its electricity back, for now, but it's still on the verge of collapse

The lights are back on at Quinta Crespo, a bustling public food market in central Caracas. But after Venezuela’s worst blackout in history, there’s a sense of dread at Nancy Rodríguez’s fruit and vegetable stand.

Word from the countryside is that farmers have been unable to find seeds and fertilizer. And the planting season is about to start. Everyone from Wall Street analysts to Rodríguez, who has sold carrots, parsley, bananas and garlic here for decades, worries that this will be the year Venezuela’s agricultural sector collapses.

“The situation is critical,” said Rodríguez, 70, squatting on a plastic stool as customers handled her food, then moved on without buying. “There’s already very little production.”

The five-day nationwide blackout this month was a dramatic sign of the crumbling of Venezuela’s infrastructure. But it was probably only a curtain-raiser for a broader disaster expected in the coming weeks and months as the country’s political crisis deepens, according to economists, diplomats and aid workers here.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/venezuela-has-its-electricity-back-for-now-but-its-still-on-the-verge-of-collapse/2019/03/20/1cb0060e-4986-11e9-8cfc-2c5d0999c21e_story.html

Florida Republicans are trying to thwart both justice and the will of the people

IN CLOSELY divided Florida, it is hard to imagine Democrats and Republicans agreeing on much of anything. But huge numbers of them did last November, when nearly 65 percent of Florida voters decided to let released felons cast ballots in future elections. This was supposed to be a landmark moment in the advancement of voting rights. Felon disenfranchisement in Florida was an 1868 relic devised after the Civil War to prevent African Americans from voting. According to an estimate from the Sentencing Project, the policy banned a fifth of African Americans in Florida from voting in 2016.

After last year’s referendum, headlines promised that more than 1 million people would finally get the right to vote again, the largest extension of voting rights in decades. Since then, felons who had paid their debt to society have been registering to vote and participating in local elections.

But Florida Republican lawmakers are pushing a bill that would make this great reenfranchisement substantially narrower than it seemed. The natural inference is that they worry that newly enfranchised ex-convicts, who are disproportionately African American, will mostly vote for Democrats. Republicans insist that politics is not their motivation. But their actions are still wrong.

The state constitutional amendment that voters approved says all released felons will have their voting rights restored, unless they are guilty of murder or a sexual offense, upon completion of their sentences. The amendment’s backers argue it needs no elaboration from the state legislature. A Florida House committee nevertheless approved a bill Tuesday that would crimp eligibility for reenfranchisement, targeting the poor, in particular.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/florida-republicans-are-trying-to-thwart-both-justice-and-the-will-of-the-people/2019/03/21/40882db4-4b47-11e9-93d0-64dbcf38ba41_story.html

Why was Franklin Graham schmoozing with a sanctioned Russian official this month?

Franklin Graham, America’s most prominent evangelical leader, says Vice President Mike Pence signed off on his trip to Russia earlier this month. While there, Graham met with sanctioned Kremlin officials — even as U.S. investigations ramped up into Moscow’s election interference efforts. One official Russian governmental social media account touted the meeting as a way to “[intensify] contacts between the State Duma and the U.S. Congress.”

In an interview with RIA Novosti, a major Russian state-run outlet, Graham said he called Pence directly to tell him of the trip. “He was very happy to hear the news,” Graham said. “And he admitted that he fully supported my decision.”

A spokesperson for Graham told ThinkProgress that he is currently traveling and unavailable for an interview. Pence’s office did not respond to ThinkProgress’s requests for comment.

According to interviews in Russian media and photos on his own social media accounts, Graham, currently the chair of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, traveled to Moscow earlier this month to meet with a number of prominent Russian figures. Most notably, Graham had a sit-down meeting with Russian Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, who is close to President Vladimir Putin and who has been sanctioned by the U.S. since 2014 for his role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

https://thinkprogress.org/why-was-franklin-graham-schmoozing-with-a-sanctioned-russian-official-this-month-b38f1aa1af13/

CVS Pharmacy Will Begin Selling CBD Products in Stores Across 8 States

Source: Fortune

CVS Pharmacy is jumping on the CBD bandwagon.

The company said in a statement to CNBC on Wednesday that it’s now selling cannabidiol (CBD) products at locations across eight states, including Alabama, California, Colorado, and Maryland, among others. The company is selling everything from lotions to sprays and said that it’s only working with CBD companies “that are complying with applicable laws and that meet CVS’s high standards for quality.”

CBD is most commonly found in hemp and marijuana. CBD is the legal component in marijuana that can have several health benefits, like reducing inflammation, helping with stress, and more. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the component that gives people the “high” in marijuana. It’s also the component that makes marijuana federally illegal. Medical marijuana or recreational marijuana are legal in dozens of states across the U.S.

CBD has quickly become a hot product for people seeking relief for a host of health issues. And since it’s legal, retailers are flocking to carry CBD products in their stores.

Read more: http://fortune.com/2019/03/21/cvs-pharmacy-cbd/

Trump to issue executive order linking grants to colleges with campus free speech

President Donald Trump is expected to issue an executive order Thursday directing federal agencies to tie research and education grants made to colleges and universities to more aggressive enforcement of the First Amendment, according to a draft of the order viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The order instructs agencies including the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services and Defense to ensure that public educational institutions comply with the First Amendment, and that private institutions live up to their own stated free-speech standards.

The order falls short of what some university officials feared would be more sweeping or specific measures; it doesn’t prescribe any specific penalty that would result in schools losing research or other education grants as a result of specific policies.

Trump announced his intention to issue an executive order concerning free speech on college campuses last month at the Conservative Political Action Conference, citing allegations that conservatives on campuses across the U.S. were being silenced.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-to-issue-executive-order-linking-grants-to-colleges-with-campus-free-speech-2019-03-20

Two years of Trump have shaken my faith in America

I have always been a cockeyed optimist about America. That’s due, in part, to my own family story: We came here in 1976 as penniless refugees from the Soviet Union and found a land of freedom and opportunity. It’s also due to my reading of history, which led me to conclude that, for all of its undoubted problems, America has been the greatest force for good in the world over the past century. And it’s due, finally, to my life experience: Having lived long enough to see predictions that America would be overtaken by the Soviet Union, Japan or the European Union proved wrong, I became skeptical of declinism.

But my faith in America has been badly shaken by more than two years of Trumpism. I now fear that the United States’ days as a superpower may be numbered, especially if President Trump wins a second term — as well he might.

I do not doubt that America will continue to be free, wealthy and militarily strong. Although Trump is trying his damnedest to undermine our democracy, our institutions are strong enough to survive his onslaught. Despite his trade wars and fiscal irresponsibility, our economy remains a world-beater. Our gross domestic product is still 1.5 times larger in nominal terms than China’s, and our per-capita GDP is more than three times larger. And, though our relative military advantage is waning, our armed forces remain the most powerful in the world.

But it’s one thing to have great power; it’s another thing to be a great power. After World War II, the United States became an “empire by invitation” whose power projection depended on popular support at home and abroad. Both are now in peril.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/americas-days-as-a-superpower-may-be-numbered--because-of-trump/2019/03/20/ae15c924-4a82-11e9-93d0-64dbcf38ba41_story.html

Max Boot is a sad, sad Republican. He's not happy with the ways things have turned out after consistently attacking Democrats and their policies for years.
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