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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 10,106

Journal Archives

When the unthinkable happens: U.S.-China trade negotiations break down for good

It’s impossible to forecast where the U.S.-China trade confrontation is going, although given what the bond market is doing, it’s no place good.

The markets are trading on headlines that may become economic events, but the worst-case scenario of much higher tariffs and a much bigger slowdown in global trade has not developed yet. In other words, I don’t think we are yet at the point of no return in this trade negotiation.

I have long held the view that, because of deflationary trends in Europe and Japan, the 10-year U.S. Treasury will fall to less than 1%. The present deterioration in relations with China is adding to those deflationary trends, so a longer cycle of acrimonious recrimination actually has a deflationary impact because of the slowdown in flow of goods and services, and not inflationary because of higher tariffs, as some investors think.

Low interest rates give a boost to companies with good balance sheets, strong cash flows and high dividend yields that have more limited exposure to the trade confrontation. I can’t be more specific for the purposes of this piece — although I will try to have more picks in future missives — as in my situation I have some hard restrictions on “buy this” or “sell that,” so what I say is insight for people to make their own decisions; I am sort of over-intellectualizing it out of necessity and compliance. That said, the U.S. semiconductor sector does see some serious headwinds in further escalation of the trade war.


Argentine peso and markets plunge after shock vote

Source: BBC

Argentine stock markets and its currency have both plunged after conservative Argentine President Mauricio Macri suffered a shock defeat in primary elections on Sunday.

The peso fell 15% against the dollar on Monday after earlier plunging around 30% to a record low.

Some of the country's most traded stocks have also lost around half of their value in one day.

Mr Macri, in response, has pledged to "reverse" Sunday's election result. At a news conference on Monday, the president also said that the drop suggested the market lacked confidence in an opposition government.

Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-49323553

That can't happen here. Right? Right?

Anger at being labeled racist is the new 'cultural anxiety' for Trump supporters

The people who backed Donald Trump for president in 2016 have largely continued to support him. In the previous election, many of them pointed to cultural anxiety as one of their main reasons for backing Trump’s pledge to “make America great again.” But as more Americans label the president a racist due to his worldview, the voters who continue to back him are becoming bolder in justifying their support, citing retaliation for being viewed as backing a racist.

Trump was unapologetic in stoking the fears of many white Americans when he launched his presidential campaign in 2016. In his opening campaign speech, he articulated his hard-line immigration ideas in response to fears about the impact of Mexican immigrants on America’s cultural fabric.

As a result, the neophyte politician rose to the top of the polls ahead of former governors, senators and other veteran politicos rather quickly. All of this led to claims of racism, largely from people of color on the left who saw a familiarity in Trump’s words — claims that were not boldly embraced by those on the left but that have since become more mainstream.

But fear of being accused of backing a white supremacist worldview caused many Trump fans to remain silent about their support for the real estate developer or to publicly express support for someone else while privately backing Trump.


Check for Dallas Mansion Raises New Questions About NRA Plans

Source: Wall Street Journal

In May 2018, the National Rifle Association sent a $70,000 check to an obscure Delaware entity called WBB Investments LLC, which had been incorporated a week earlier.

The check, a copy of which was obtained by The Wall Street Journal, raises new questions about the NRA’s attempts to explain a tangled transaction involving its then-outside advertising agency and an abortive plan to purchase a $6 million Dallas mansion for NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre.

The advertising agency, Ackerman McQueen, recently turned over documents to the proposed house purchase to the New York attorney general’s office, which is probing Mr. LaPierre’s dealings with the agency as part of a broad investigation of the NRA.

When the Journal broke the story last week, the NRA initially said the plan to buy the mansion was hatched by Angus McQueen, the ad agency’s late co-CEO, as a kind of safe house for Mr. LaPierre. The NRA chief had concerns about his security in the wake of the February 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla.

Read more: https://www.wsj.com/articles/check-for-dallas-mansion-raises-new-questions-about-nra-plans-11565626607

Why Big Oil fears being put on trial for climate change

Oil and gas companies are desperate to stop the wave of lawsuits seeking to hold them financially responsible for their role in climate change. Should these suits get to trial, their executives would have to testify about whether they knowingly misled the public about the climate threat posed by their products going back to the 1970s.

A federal district judge in a recent ruling made it harder for the defendants to shut down a lawsuit filed by the state of Rhode Island to have the industry pay the costs associated with climate change.

Judge William E. Smith ruled that the suit against 21 oil and gas companies, including Exxon, Shell and BP, should be heard in state court — a venue that the companies fear would be less likely to dismiss the case. Federal judges in Northern California and Baltimore, likewise, have ruled that these cases belong in state court. (I have been a pro bono consultant to lawyers representing government plaintiffs in these cases.)

Judge Smith also noted in his opinion: “Defendants understood the consequences of their activity decades ago, when transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy would have saved a world of trouble. But instead of sounding the alarm, Defendants went out of their way to becloud the emerging scientific consensus and further delay changes — however existentially necessary — that would in any way interfere with their multibillion-dollar profits. All while quietly readying their capital for the coming fallout.”


Hong Kong shuts down airport as Beijing says protesters show 'signs of terrorism'

Source: LA Times

Hong Kong’s government canceled all flights departing from the international airport on Monday afternoon, sending police toward the airport as thousands of protesters occupied the terminals in a peaceful sit-in.

The Airport Authority said flights were canceled because large numbers of protesters were “disrupting operations.” The shutdown began at 4 p.m., just as a spokesman for the State Council’s highest Hong Kong affairs office in Beijing said protesters showed “signs of terrorism.”

“These violent, illegal actions must be met with determined legal crackdown, with no softening of hands or any sign of mercy,” said the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Spokesman Yang Guang in a press briefing, accusing protesters of throwing gasoline bombs .

“Hong Kong has arrived at a critical point.”

Read more: https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2019-08-12/hong-kong-shuts-down-airport-as-beijing-says-protesters-show-signs-of-terrorism

The Global Machine Behind the Rise of Far-Right Nationalism

RINKEBY, Sweden — Johnny Castillo, a Peruvian-born neighborhood watchman in this district of Stockholm, still puzzles over the strange events that two years ago turned the central square of this predominantly immigrant community into a symbol of multiculturalism run amok.

First came a now-infamous comment by President Trump, suggesting that Sweden’s history of welcoming refugees was at the root of a violent attack in Rinkeby the previous evening, even though nothing had actually happened.

“You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden! Who would believe this? Sweden!” Mr. Trump told supporters at a rally on Feb. 18, 2017. “They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”

The president’s source: Fox News, which had excerpted a short film promoting a dystopian view of Sweden as a victim of its asylum policies, with immigrant neighborhoods crime-ridden “no-go zones.”


A Common Trait Among Mass Killers: Hatred Toward Women

The man who shot nine people to death last weekend in Dayton, Ohio, seethed at female classmates and threatened them with violence.

The man who massacred 49 people in an Orlando nightclub in 2016 beat his wife while she was pregnant, she told authorities.

The man who killed 26 people in a church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., in 2017 had been convicted of domestic violence. His ex-wife said he once told her that he could bury her body where no one would ever find it.

The motivations of men who commit mass shootings are often muddled, complex or unknown. But one common thread that connects many of them — other than access to powerful firearms — is a history of hating women, assaulting wives, girlfriends and female family members, or sharing misogynistic views online, researchers say.


Student Wins $725,000 in Lawsuit Over 'Troll Storm' Led by The Daily Stormer

The first African-American female student body president of American University won a $725,000 judgment on Friday in a lawsuit against Andrew Anglin, the publisher of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer who incited a racist “troll storm” targeting her, a judge ruled.

This was the third judgment in the past three months against Mr. Anglin. In a separate case on Thursday, a $14 million judgment was rendered against him. He owes a total of nearly $20 million to three people, but they have yet to see a cent in payments.

On the day that the student, Taylor Dumpson, was sworn in as American University’s student body president in May 2017, bananas were found hanging on nooses around campus.

The bananas had messages scrawled on them. One referred to Ms. Dumpson’s predominantly black sorority and another read “HARAMBE BAIT,” a reference to the gorilla killed at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2016.


After my mother's disastrous hospice experience, we filed a state complaint. It came to nothing

My mother did not die well.

She was discharged in January from a Bay Area hospital and transported to a residential care home in distress, writhing in agony at times.

Her pain and sedation medication did not arrive with her, as the hospice agency had told us it would, nor did the hospice nurse assigned to her case. We were told the nurse was tied up at a different location with another patient. After our repeated pleas, a backup nurse arrived several hours later with medication.

My mother improved slightly but still suffered through the next two days. We fired the hospice agency, signed on with another, and finally my mother rested peacefully and mostly pain-free until her death several days later, in mid-January.

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