Month: August 2018

China’s Economy Weakens as Trade Fight Heats Up, Emboldening Xi’s Critics

China’s ability to go toe to toe with the United States in the ongoing trade dispute was cast into doubt by economic data released this week showing an economy that had slowed down by far more than expected. Fixed income investment, which includes spending on machinery and infrastructure, rose 5.5 percent compared with a year ago, down from 6.0 percent in the prior month. Economists had expected 6.0 percent. It was the lowest level of fixed income investment growth since 1999, before China ascended to the World Trade Organization. Industrial production was up 6.0 percent, below the 6.3perrcent forecast. Unemployment rose to 5.1 percent last month, up from 4.8 percent in June. Retail sales annual gains were expected to rise from June’s 9.0 percent to 9.2 percent. Instead, sales fell to 8.8 percent.

Clearly China has FAR more to lose in this trade dispute than America does.  Maybe Trump’s tariffs strategy IS working after all..  For more, click on the text above.

Trump signs new defense policy bill that rebuilds military, boosts troop pay

Capping a major victory, President Trump signed a $716 billion defense bill Monday that authorizes hundreds of new planes, ships and tanks, increases troop strength and raises military pay, modernizes the U.S. nuclear arsenal and tightens control of government contracts with Chinese technology companies. Speaking to troops at Fort Drum, N.Y., Mr. Trump said the new National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2019 is “the most significant investment in our military, and in our warfighters, in a generation.” “After years of devastating cuts, we’re now rebuilding our military like never before,” Mr. Trump said. “Every day our military was fighting for us, and now we’re fighting for you.” The signing ceremony also fulfilled Mr. Trump’s promise to provide more certainty for military funding, after years of budget “sequestration” caps under President Obama. It’s the earliest in the year that Congress has completed an NDAA in more than 20 years. The White House said the NDAA helps to develop “a more lethal and resilient force,” and will increase the size of U.S. forces by authorizing 15,600 more troops across the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. The new recruits will bring the total strength of the Army to 487,500 soldiers; Navy, 335,400 sailors; 186,100 in the Marine Corps; and 329,100 in the Air Force. Mr. Trump also got what he wanted in the measure with controls on U.S. government contracts with China’s ZTE Corp. and Huawei Technologies because of national-security concerns; the restrictions are nevertheless weaker than earlier versions of the bill.

🙂

Report: Google Is Tracking Your Location Even if You Tell It to Stop

Google is reportedly tracking your physical movements with your smartphone even if you select privacy settings which are supposed to stop it from doing so. According to the Associated Press, who launched an investigation into the tracking, it “found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store your location data even if you’ve used a privacy setting that says it will prevent Google from doing so.” “Computer-science researchers at Princeton confirmed these findings at the AP’s request,” it continued, adding that, “Storing your minute-by-minute travels carries privacy risks and has been used by police to determine the location of suspects — such as a warrant that police in Raleigh, North Carolina, served on Google last year to find devices near a murder scene.” Despite Google claiming that you can turn off the tracking, the Associated Press revealed that this is not true, and even “with Location History paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking.” “If you’re going to allow users to turn off something called ‘Location History,’ then all the places where you maintain location history should be turned off,” expressed Jonathan Mayer, a former chief technologist for the Federal Communications Commission. “That seems like a pretty straightforward position to have.” In a statement, Google defended their tracking, and proclaimed, “There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people’s experience, including: Location History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services. We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time.” In February 2018 Tucker Carlson revealed that placing an Android phone in airplace mode or disconnecting it from the network would not stop it from tracking location. The governments of South Korea and the U.K. investigated Google for tracking users’ locations without their knowledge in 2017.

Suckers beware: Your $10 reusable steel drinking straw may be counterfeit

As several cities take aim at reducing their carbon footprint by banning plastic straws, one company says there’s a new problem that could soon plague the U.S.: counterfeit reusable straws. FinalStraw sought to create a collapsible, stainless steel straw that consumers could reuse. The straw even comes with a carrying case. However, Emma Cohen, the company’s co-founder, told BuzzFeed News on Monday that counterfeiters flooding websites like Amazon and eBay are creating an issue. “The whole purpose was to reduce waste,” Cohen said, adding the counterfeit straws created a “bigger waste problem.” Searches across Amazon and eBay found that knockoff stainless steel straws were prevalent, according to BuzzFeed News. While FinalStraw intends to sell its item for $20 apiece, other places were selling theirs for $10. Cohen and co-founder Miles Pepper reported more than 200 listings on Amazon, eBay and Alibaba were using FinalStraw’s promotional photos to advertise the knockoffs. FinalStraw doesn’t have a listing on these websites because its final product won’t be ready until November, according to BuzzFeed News. Those who have bought the counterfeit straws have complained to FinalStraw about their purchases falling apart. “People are just genuinely confused,” Cohen told BuzzFeed News. “Some are angry and upset.” Pepper said the company plans to go after the straw sellers after its trademark and patent applications go through. The race for an alternative straw version was kicked off when cities like San Francisco and Seattle announced plans to reduce the use of plastic straws at restaurants. San Francisco became the largest U.S. city last month to ban restaurants and retailers from providing customers with plastic straws. Businesses in the city will have to meet the new guidelines by January 1, 2020. Disney and Starbucks have also announced plans to ban plastic straws.

If FinalStraw and other similar companies want to market such a product, then we’re all for it!  The free market is the place to address this issue; NOT by the fascist Democrat politicians telling us what we can and cannot use to drink a beverage with.  That said…  This is the insanity that happens when we allow political correctness to take over our lives.  Thankfully, I live in a city that still allows plastic straws.  Unreal..

Analysis: Anti-Trump media manages to spin electoral victories into defeats

Candidates supported by President Trump did well in a special congressional election in Ohio and in primaries Tuesday, although some races remained too close to call. But the anti-Trump media did their best to paint the outcome of the voting as bad news for the president. Journalists worked hard to spin a pro-Democratic narrative before the voting. For example, CNN anchor Don Lemon said Republicans are “people who will lie, steal, and cheat, lie to their mother, lie to themselves about what’s right of this country, about truth and facts.” Neutral objective journalism, right? Journalists also talked a lot about a “blue wave” and “a major sign of trouble for Republicans” before the votes were counted. Politico wrote of “Democrats surging.” Sort of like what they predicted back in 2016 when they said President Hillary Clinton would be occupying the Oval Office in January 2017. They were wrong this time, too. That didn’t stop the typical spin. CNBC’s John Harwood used Twitter to say winning was a sign the GOP was going to lose in November. He retweeted a comment saying, “it’s hard to remember when so many victories were such a bad omen going into November.” Harwood even claimed the “GOP has a corruption problem in mid-term elections.” Election season makes people say stupid things. That’s why Democratic socialist media darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez compared a request that she debate to “catcalling.” The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro made the invitation and even offered to pay $10,000 to her campaign or a charity of her choosing. The result was just the latest public relations disaster for the lefty candidate. (You know it’s a bad move when even The New York Times makes you look bad for your comment.) Incredibly, Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan gave a one word support of Ocasio-Cortez, writing simply: “Preach.” Apparently, even asking a liberal millennial woman to debate is now a #MeToo moment. One final point about the media’s post-election distortions. It’s widely known and little reported (now) that midterms are typically bad for the party in power. Here’s NPR back in 2014 explaining: “History tells us that midterm elections are bad – sometimes very bad – for the party that controls the White House.” So, yes, the rules say the GOP is supposed to lose seats in Congress in November. But journalists want to treat the voting as a referendum on President Trump and not politics as usual. It’s almost like they’re whistling past the graveyard of their predictions. Maybe that’s why Don Lemon is now thanking politicians who even watch CNN.

For more of this outstanding analysis by Dan Gainor, click on the text above.

In wake of Supreme Court’s anti-union ruling, nonmembers seek repayment of dues

The labor movement unions suffered a major hit to the pocketbook after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public sector unions could not force nonmembers to pay dues — and now some of those who had paid for years say they want their money back. Mark Janus, the Illinois state employee who won the Supreme Court case in June, became the latest to demand repayment from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, for what he estimates is roughly $2,000 in dues he is owed. All told, billions of dollars could be at stake for hundreds of thousands of government workers. But first they will have to prove they’re entitled to collect on the old payments. “It’s quite clear workers can go and get refunds for whatever the statute of limitations is in their state,” said Patrick Semmens, vice president of National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, who represented Mr. Janus. Others aren’t so sure, saying the justices didn’t say anything about repayments. “In my view, it’s very unlikely that there will be any retroactivity with respect to this decision, and the reason for that is the Janus decision overruled 41-year-old precedent,” said Mitchell Rubinstein, a New York based lawyer. “It changed existing law.” The high court overturned a 1977 case when it ruled 5-4 in Mr. Janus’ favor. The justices said Mr. Janus was right to complain about being forced to pay dues to a labor union that then used his money to advocate for public policies on education or health care that he disagreed with. The court said the dues were an infringement on Mr. Janus’ free speech rights. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the majority, said losing access to non-members’ money could be “unpleasant” for the unions but Americans’ First Amendment rights needed to be maintained. “It is hard to estimate how many billions of dollars have been taken from nonmembers and transferred to public-sector unions in violation of the First Amendment. Those unconstitutional exactions cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely,” Justice Alito wrote. Even before the ruling, Mr. Semmens‘ organization was battling on behalf of Debora Nearman, an Oregon state employee who objected to her union’s dues. She recently settled with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 503 for roughly $3,000, the amount permitted under the statute of limitations in Oregon for claims brought when civil rights are violated. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation also is representing a class-action lawsuit of more than 30,000 employees in California who are suing the SEIU over its policies, and seeking reimbursement in light of the Supreme Court’s latest ruling. “We actually estimated for them that the over 30,000 workers could be entitled to over a $100 million in refunds,” Mr. Semmens said.

Brooks Koepka holds off Tiger Woods, Adam Scott to win PGA Championship

Brooks Koepka secured his status as one of the best golfers in the world Sunday as he won his third major in 14 months at the PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club outside St. Louis. Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title at Shinnecock Hills in June, shot a final-round 66 to hold off Tiger Woods (64) by two shots. Adam Scott shot 67 to finish alone in third, a shot behind Woods. Koepka is the first man to win two majors in the same calendar year since Jordan Spieth won the Masters and U.S. Open in 2015. He is the first man to pull off the U.S. Open-PGA Championship double since Woods in 2000. His 72-hole score of 264 set the PGA Championship scoring record and matched the major championship record set by Henrink Stenson at Royal Troon in the 2016 British Open. The 28-year-old Floridian also joined Jordan Spieth, Woods, Nicklaus and Tom Watson as the only players with three majors before turning 30 since World War II. Koepka had started the final round two shots ahead of Scott, who was playing with a heavy heart after fellow Australian pro Jarrod Lyle died of cancer earlier this week. The Florida native appeared to be in command halfway through the round, weathering bogeys at 4 and 5 to take a three-shot lead over Scott at the turn. But Scott rallied at the same time that Koepka’s touch with the putter deserted him. The Australian birdied 10, 12, and 13, while Koepka missed short birdie putts at 12, 13, and 14. With Koepka stuck in neutral, Woods put on a charge and sent the galleries into a frenzy when he birdied the par-4 15th to get within a shot of the lead after sticking his second shot within a foot of the flagstick. However, Koepka regained control of the championship on the 15th hole, when he drilled a 10-foot birdie putt into the center of the cup to take a one-shot lead. He added to his advantage at the par-3 16th, when he stuck his tee shot to inside seven feet of the hole, then drained the ensuing birdie putt. Scott had one last chance to force some drama on the last hole, but a six-foot birdie putt on the 17th green that would have put him within one shot of Koepka curled wide of the cup. He then bogeyed the final hole to slip out of a tie for second. Woods’ 64, which included two bogeys, is his lowest final-round score in any major. It was his seventh runner-up finish and first since the 2009 PGA Championship. Woods and Koepka played nine holes of a practice round on Wednesday, and the 14-time major champion knew what he was up against. “It’s tough to beat when the guy hits it 340 down the middle,” Woods said. “What he did at Shinnecock, just bombing it, and then he’s doing the same thing here. … And when a guy’s doing that and hitting it straight, and as good a putter as he is, it’s tough to beat.” Koepka never imagined a year like this. He missed four months at the start of the year when a partially torn tendon in his left wrist, causing him to sit out the Masters. He outlasted good friend Dustin Johnson at Shinnecock Hills to become the first back-to-back U.S. Open champion in 29 years. And now this. Koepka joked about working out in a public gym this week with Johnson and not being recognized. He has been motivated by more serious moments, from being left off the “notable scores” section of TV coverage at tournaments and even last week, when he was not summoned for a TV interview to preview the PGA Championship. He now is No. 2 in the world, with a shot at overtaking Johnson in two weeks when the FedEx Cup playoffs start,

Tiger came close…but no purse!  Congrats to Brooks!  Over 55,000 fans were in attendance and the players were impressed with the politeness and positive attitude of the St. Louis fans.  Excellent!!  To see some pics and videos from Bellerive Country Club, just click on the text above.    🙂