Month: March 2020

Trump administration officially rolls back Obama’s fuel efficiency rules

The Trump administration announced new fuel efficiency standards Tuesday that roll back the aggressive plans made by the Obama administration. The rules, which were required by law to be released Tuesday, seek a 1.5% annual increase in fuel efficiency on automobiles beginning next year, a big drop from the 5% increase set by President Obama. The changes to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards would mean average miles per gallon in new vehicles would be around 40 as opposed to the 55 mpg by 2025 that the Obama administration wanted. The administration said the new rules for vehicle fleets, which set mileage standards through 2026, strike a proper balance among consumer needs, the economy and the environment, but critics contended the final rules are insufficiently green. The administration says the new rules will make new vehicles more affordable, which will lead to a major reduction in deaths and injuries as consumers will replace their older, less-safe models with new automobiles that have better safety features. “Our standards are tough but obtainable,” said James Owens, acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). “We think we’ve struck the right balance. By reducing the regulatory burden we will get more Americans into newer, safer, cleaner vehicles.” Many automakers say the Obama-era standards would have been difficult to reach, as consumers continue to buy gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks and have turned away from smaller sedans that use less gasoline. With the average price of a new vehicle in the U.S. climbing to $38,000, the administration argued it had become an item increasingly beyond the means of many American families to buy new. The average age of a car on the American highways is 12 years old, up from eight years old in 1990, Mr. Owens and other administrators said in a conference call Monday announcing the new standards. The new regulations should knock at least $1,000 off the sticker price of new vehicles and spur the purchase of up to 2.7 million new cars. That would mean 3,300 fewer fatalities, 397,000 fewer injuries and more than 1.8 million fewer vehicles damaged in crashes, according to the NHTSA and the Environmental Protection Agency, which worked together for 18 months to draw up the new regulations.

This is great news!!    🙂

U.S. Consumer Confidence Holds Up Better Than Expected

The U.S. economy entered the era of coronavirus on a strong footing but consumers are worried about the short-term future, a survey of consumers showed Tuesday. The Conference Board’s index of consumer confidence fell sharply in March but the decline was nearly all attributable to the expectations portion of the survey. The present situation component fell from 169.3 to 167.7, a small decline to a still historically elevated level, indicating that U.S. consumers felt comfortable with their jobs and business conditions even as many parts of the economy began to shut down in March. The expectations gauge, however, crashed. This fell from 108.1 last month to 88.2 in March, the lowest level of the Trump presidency. “Consumer confidence declined sharply in March due to a deterioration in the short-term outlook,” said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “March’s decline in confidence is more in line with a severe contraction – rather than a temporary shock – and further declines are sure to follow.” The resilience in the current conditions was evident in views of both general business conditions and the labor market. The share of consumers claiming business conditions are “good” was relatively unchanged at 39.6 percent, while those claiming business conditions are “bad” increased, from 10.8 percent to 11.4 percent. Those saying jobs are “plentiful” decreased from 46.5 percent to 44.9 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” was unchanged at 13.9 percent. The outlook for the next six months is where the coronavirus had its biggest impact. The percentage of consumers expecting improved business conditions over the next six months fell from 20.6 percent to 18.2 percent, while those expecting business conditions will worsen more than doubled, from 7.2 percent to 14.9 percent. The share expecting more jobs slipped from 16.6 percent to 15.5 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs jumped, from 12.0 percent to 17.1 percent. Regarding their short-term income prospects, the share expecting an increase fell from 22.7 percent to 20.7 percent, while the share expecting a decrease rose from 6.1 percent to 8.8 percent. All of those figures are likely to get significantly worse in the next few months. The measures of the present situation will catch up with the expectations for the future, while the expectations gauge will likely not improve until real progress against the virus is evident. As of March, far too many consumers expect improved business conditions and far too few anticipate fewer jobs, implying that consumers will encounter downside economic shocks in the months ahead.

Harvard/Harris Poll: 5-in-6 Americans Want to End Immigration from Mexico

In the midst of the Chinese coronavirus crisis, about five-in-six American adults said they want to see the United States end all immigration from Mexico. The latest Harvard/Harris Poll asks Americans whether they would support or oppose an immigration moratorium on Mexico during the coronavirus crisis. Overall, 83 percent — or five-in-six — said they favor ending all immigration from Mexico at the moment. This sweeping support for ending immigration from Mexico includes 75 percent of Hispanic Americans and 77 percent of black Americans. Another 73 percent of Democrat voters said they support ending immigration from Mexico, while 84 percent of swing voters and 93 percent of Republican voters support such a measure. Even among the most liberal voters, nearly 70 percent said they support ending immigration from Mexico, as well as 74 percent of voters who supported failed Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016. The poll comes as Mexico’s coronavirus cases continue to climb, now reaching nearly 1,000 confirmed infections with 20 deaths and 938 active cases. While the overwhelming majority of Americans want to see an end to immigration from Mexico, the State Department has issued waivers that will more quickly fast-track many Mexican workers into the U.S. through the H-2B and H-2A visa programs. The directive effectively allows agricultural and nonagricultural businesses to quickly import foreign workers on H-2A and H-2B visas without standard interview and application procedures. As Breitbart News has reported, immigration moratoriums are not uncommon in American history. Currently, there are about 45 million foreign-born residents living in the U.S., a 108-year record high. The country’s last immigration boom — between 1900 and 1920 — was eventually met with a near immigration moratorium. Between 1925 and 1966, the U.S. legal immigration level did not exceed 327,000 annual admissions. Since major changes were enacted in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson (D) and in the 1990s by President George H.W. Bush (R) — changes that allow foreign nationals to bring as many foreign relatives to the country as they want — legal immigration levels have continued booming for about five decades. Today, about 1.2 million legal immigrants are admitted to the U.S. every year.

And that’s not even counting the over 22 MILLION illegal aliens living here already.  Americans of all political stripes and affiliations are saying enough is enough.  We need a moratorium on ALL immigration, legal and illegal.  Our infrastructure is being crushed.  And, especially in these times, it is critical we put a stop to immigration entirely, and in fact, work to remove those who shouldn’t be here in the first place.  Now is the time to be ramping up deporting illegals by the hundreds of thousands (and yes, you read that correctly), paying particular attention to known gang members, criminal aliens, and those determined by an immigration judge to be deported…regardless of age or gender.  And NOW is the time for the federal government to ramp up construction of the wall/fence on our southern border.  This poll must be driving Democrat politicians, the dominantly liberal mainstream media, and the rest of the open-borders crowd absolutely crazy.  🙂

‘Radical changes’: Marine Corps overhaul aimed at confronting China

The Marine Corps plans to give up its tanks, dramatically remake its artillery batteries, cut its helicopter fleet and take a host of other “radical” steps in arguably the most sweeping American military overhaul in a century — all with the goal of preparing for a potential 21st-century conflict with China. And a little global pandemic hasn’t stopped the Corps from hitting a very different beach. Seventy-five years after storming beaches at Iwo Jima, Marine Corps leaders unveiled a blueprint this month concluding that the branch’s traditional approach no longer meets the nation’s needs. “The Marine Corps we have been building for many years now is increasingly out of step with the problems they’re going to face” in confronting China, said Chris Brose, chief strategy officer at Anduril Industries and former staff director for the Senate Armed Services Committee. “There are reasons for why that is the case,” he added. “The Marine Corps has borne the burden of a lot of the deployments overseas post-9/11. They were optimizing for a different set of challenges.” Pentagon officials argue that China’s rapidly improving military capabilities make the prospect of a traditional Iwo Jima-type shore landing exceedingly unlikely, and the Corps instead will shift its resources toward becoming a “stand-in” force that can operate within enemy range rather than fighting its way into theater from the sea. In a sweeping planning document released last week, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David H. Berger laid out a host of other major changes designed to remake the service with the recognition that preparing for a World War II-style conflict — or even a major ground- and air-based operation such as the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq — can no longer be the service’s top priority. Some critics are already arguing that the new approach is too China-centric, but top Marine officials stress that now is the time for systematic change. “I am convinced that the defining attributes of our current force design are no longer what the nation requires of the Marine Corps,” Gen. Berger said in the document, which lays out a decadelong plan to shift the service into a more modern role. “With the shift in our primary focus to great power competition and a renewed focus on the Indo-Pacific region, the current force has shortfalls in capabilities needed to support emerging joint, naval and Marine Corps operating concepts.”

Gen Berger hasn’t exactly been instilling much in the way of confidence, as of late.  He’s been giving in to the pressures of political correctness, and undermining the cohesion of the Corps.  So, we’re a bit leery of whatever grandiose plans he may have for the future of the Marines.  Historically, the mission of the Marine Corps is to “secure the beachhead.”  In other countries, they are called the “naval infantry.”  And, our Marines execute that mission better than any other naval infantry on the planet.  Period.  But, sounds like Gen. Berger wants to somehow change their mission to a “more modern role,” whatever the heck that means.  As a former “field grade” Army officer, I’ll remain skeptical, given the General’s spectacularly poor decisions as of late, until we’re provided more specifics.  Regardless, I know my brothers and sisters in the Corps will rise to the challenge and do us proud no matter what.

Storytime with Dana: ‘Let Me Tell You About Jasper’

In the midst of all of these abrupt changes with offices and schools closed during the coronavirus outbreak, so many people are grappling with how to manage taking care of their children while also taking care of business. I have lots of friends who were staring into the future thinking, “How are we going to do this?” I had an idea of how to help – to provide a few minutes each afternoon of Storytime with Dana. I loved being read to as a child, and I remember Mrs. Laura Bush encouraging families to keep a story time routine with children as much as possible, especially during times of stress and uncertainty. I hope that parents will be able to take a breather while I try to keep their kids occupied and entertained for a few minutes every day. Today is as much a treat for me as it is for you! I will be reading part of my book, “Let Me Tell You About Jasper” with my very special guest, Jasper! Just click here to watch and listen!

Dana Perino grew up in Colorado and was the Press Secretary for former President George W. Bush.  Jasper is, of course, her dog.  Dana currently hosts FOX News Channel’s (FNC) The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino (weekdays 2-3 p.m. ET) and also serves as co-host of The Five (weekdays 5-6 p.m. ET). She joined the network in 2009 as a contributor. Follow her on Twitter@DanaPerino.        🙂


Netherlands becomes latest country to reject China-made coronavirus test kits, gear

The Netherlands is the latest country to reject China-made coronavirus testing kits and other protective gear, calling the items substandard and raising serious questions about the quality of the supplies Beijing is selling to the world. The Netherlands joins Spain, Turkey, Georgia, and the Czech Republic in their concerns over masks and test kits. The claims come as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases surge in the United States and Europe, highlighting the dependence many countries have on Chinese imports. The Dutch health ministry said over the weekend that it was forced to recall 600,000 face masks that were shipped from China on March 21 after they were found to be faulty. Some of the masks failed to fit the mouth properly while others were found to have insufficient filters, the government said. “Health care workers have been informed and told not to use the masks. Due to the shortages, we can find ourselves in a situation where only protective equipment is available that does not meet the highest standards,” the health ministry said in a statement. “This is an issue in all countries.” On Monday, the Netherlands said the number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus hit nearly 4,000. Of those, 507 new patients were admitted to the hospital. The number of deaths rose by 93 to 864. Testing in the Netherlands is mostly confined to people with serious symptoms, meaning it’s likely the numbers of cases of coronavirus are higher. On March 19, Bruno Bruins, the medical care minister leading the Dutch government’s fight against the coronavirus, resigned after collapsing from exhaustion during a parliamentary debate on the pandemic a day earlier. Bruins fell to the floor in parliament while taking questions. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said it was unclear how long it would take for Bruins to recover, though Bruins vowed to come back as soon as possible. “The nature of this crisis is such that it demands a minister who can be ready to go full throttle immediately,” Rutte said during a televised press briefing. reported Monday the government will likely extend its social distancing directives past its current April 6 deadline. Last week, Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa said the country had bought $467 million in medical supplies from China, including 950 ventilators, 5.5 million testing kits, 11 million gloves, and more than half a billion protective face masks. Soon after receiving the supplies, the government announced plans to return 9,000 “quick result” test kits to China, because they were deemed substandard, specifically the sensibility of the test was around 30 percent when it should be higher than 80 percent. “China creates the poison and sells the solution to it,” foreign affairs expert Gordon Chang told Fox News. Beijing admitted that the kits they sold to Spain were bought from Bioeasy, a Chinese company not licensed to make them. China announced late last week that it was launching an investigation into Bioeasy.

And given the communist propaganda way of doing things, we’re sure that they’ll “find” someone to scapegoat and parade around as the culprit who will “confess” to doing this, and they’ll imprison he/she for life and shame his/her family..and that’ll be it.  It’s like them saying that there have been less than 3000 deaths in Wuhan.  And yet, based on cremation data, it’s obvious that in Wuhan alone, there have been tens of THOUSANDS of deaths from this Wuhan virus.  Of course China is WAY under-reporting the deaths and cases of Wuhan virus, and so the lazy, agenda-driven dominantly liberal mainstream media is almost giddy when it reports that the U.S. has the “most” cases and deaths from this pandemic in an effort to somehow tie Trump to the reason.  It’s fake news….and it’s why the American people don’t trust the liberal media.  CNN and MSNBC’s ratings are in the toilet and continuing to drop….and they still don’t get why that is.

As for the rest of us..  The big takeaway from this story is that more and more countries are waking up to the fact that they need test kits and other healthcare related equipment that is quality; NOT cheap Chinese-made crap that is defective.  Their crap is quite literally killing people.  It’s like adding insult to injury.  The Wuhan virus came from, well..Wuhan China…and they sat on that fact for months before admitting to the world they had a problem.  Just fathom how many thousands of lives could have been saved if we, and other countries, knew sooner.  Then, once they started to “save face” and make/ship out testing kits, they turned out to be crap.  Again, if you are buying something and you have a choice between something made in China, and something that might be a couple more bucks but says its made in the USA, then please please BUY American!!  All of these great American companies (i.e. Ford, Apple, GE, 3M, MyPillow, Jockey, Honeywell, etc.) are stepping up and either making ventilators (at great profit loss to themselves), or donating money or masks…or both.  The least we can do as consumers, is support them by BUYING AMERICAN.  I recently needed some tennis shoes.  So, instead of buying Nike or some other brand made in some sweat factory in China, I bought a great pair of New Balance which were made right here in the USA with American material and by American workers, and I love em!  If you need a car or truck, consider Ford, Chevy, or GM.  Just sayin..    🙂

Ford teaming with GE to build 50,000 ventilators by July 4, working on ‘Trump time’

Ford is partnering with GE Healthcare to build 50,000 ventilators by July 4 at the automaker’s Rawson Components Plant in Michigan, the companies announced on Monday. The automaker will produce the Airon Model A-E ventilator, which has been licensed by GE Healthcare for the effort. Airon currently manufactures the devices at a rate of just three units per day at its Florida location, and Ford will assist in boosting production there as the new line is set up in Michigan. The current retail price for the device is approximately $7,000. A press release accompanying the announcement quoted White House Defense Production Act Coordinator Peter Navarro as saying Ford and GE are working on ‘Trump time’ to get the project going. The Model A-E is a relatively basic model that is sufficient for treating COVID-19 patients, according to Tom Westrick, GE Healthcare vice president and chief quality officer. It is compatible with masks and intubation and operates pneumatically via its oxygen supply without the need for electricity. A team of 500 paid-volunteer UAW members will work three shifts, 24 hours daily when the Ford facility reaches full production. Ford is also helping GE double the production of its own more complex CARESCAPE R860 through a separate effort. The news comes following an announcement from General Motors and Ventec Life Systems that the automaker is converting one of its electronic components factories to produce the Ventec VOCSN ventilator at the rate of up to 10,000 units per month.

This is SO awesome!   Kudos to both Ford Motor Company and GE for their joint effort here!  Excellent!!    🙂

Oil sinks to 18-year low but holds $20 level

West Texas Intermediate crude oil tumbled to an 18-year low after President Trump extended COVID-19 social distancing guidelines until at least April 30. WTI futures for May delivery fell 6.6 percent to $20.09 per barrel, closing at their lowest level since February 2002. The contract hit a session low $19.27 a barrel, down 10.4 percent. The losses came despite President Trump telling “Fox & Friends” on Monday that he would hold a phone call later in the day to discuss low energy prices with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Monday’s slide comes after prices plunged Friday in response to Saudi Arabia saying it has not held talks with Russia regarding a “joint agreement to balance oil markets.” Crude oil prices have crashed 68 percent this year as the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia has added to a supply glut at the same time the COVID-19 pandemic has caused demand destruction.

TCM host Alicia Malone reveals 6 comforting old Hollywood films to watch during coronavirus pandemic

Need an escape while social distancing during the coronavirus crisis? Take a step back in time to Hollywood’s golden era. Staying indoors due to concerns about spreading COVID-19 is incredibly crucial. But having plenty of free time can also be a great opportunity to unwind and explore some of the most influential, feel-good films that have forever shaped Hollywood. Film expert and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) host Alicia Malone shared some of her favorite classic films to watch for some much-needed comfort and joy that families can experience. Not only are all of these films part of TCM’s upcoming lineup, but some are also being featured in the TCM Classic Film Festival: Special Home Edition, which will air from April 16-19. Many of these films are also accessible through your favorite streaming services. Click here to see Malone’s six favorite old Hollywood films to watch while quarantined:


Federal agencies warned of ventilator shortages for nearly two decades

The overwhelming number of coronavirus patients flooding hospitals across the U.S. has resulted in a shortage of ventilators for those experiencing difficulty breathing. But while President Trump has faced criticism from states, like New York, for the short supply, federal agencies have been predicting the need for more ventilators for nearly two decades. Reports from various government offices have been sounding the alarm over the course of at least three successive presidencies dating back to the George W. Bush administration. “GAO found that most hospitals lack the capacity to respond to large-scale infectious disease outbreaks,” concluded the U.S. Government Accountability Office in a 2003 report after the SARS outbreak, noting that “few hospitals have adequate medical equipment, such as the ventilators that are often needed for respiratory infections such as SARS, to handle the large increases in the number of patients that may result.” A 2005 Congressional Research Service report examining avian flu also noted that the U.S. was unlikely to be prepared for a pandemic due to that virus’ effect on the lungs. “If this strain were to launch a pandemic and retain this trait, large numbers of victims may require intensive care and ventilatory support, likely exceeding national capacity to provide this level of care,” that report said. “In any event, such specialized care is not available in most developing countries, and access to it is uneven within the United States.” Later that same year, the Department of Health and Human Services released an extensive report on the plan for an influenza pandemic. A key item on their list of actions to take for a “health care and emergency response” was to “assess surge capacity” of medical systems including ventilators, noting the necessity for maintaining an emergency stockpile. “Despite planning and preparedness, however, in a severe pandemic it is possible that shortages, for example of mechanical ventilators, will occur and medical care standards may need to be adjusted to most effectively provide care and save as many lives as possible,” the report warned, noting the likelihood of a significant increase in the demand for ventilators in the event of a large-scale outbreak. The need for ventilators – and other resources – is repeatedly discussed in this report, even referencing a CDC spreadsheet that could help predict the potential need for ventilators at different stages of a pandemic. A CNN report last week detailed a number of these internal government reports. The mounting problem after nearly two decades of warnings, however, is not simply the product of a problem ignored. The government accepted bids from companies in 2008 planning to buy tens of thousands of additional ventilators for the stockpile after swine flu, avian flu, SARS, and MERS revealed the need. According to a New York Times report, the federal government contracted the small Japanese company Newport Medical Instruments to develop and produce inexpensive ventilators that the U.S. would purchase. Years later, after prototypes were developed, Newport was bought out by Covidien in 2012, and the project ground to a halt. By 2014, Covidien wanted out of the contract, former federal officials told the Times, and the government agreed to cancel it. A year later, Covidien was purchased by Medtronic, which told the Times that the ventilators Newport was developing would not have been usable on newborns and would have fallen short of the government’s requirements. The government entered into a new contract with Philips in 2014, and finally ordered 10,000 ventilators in December 2019, with delivery expected later this year. “We definitely saw the problem,” Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, CDC director from 2009 to 2017, told the Times. “We innovated to try and get a solution. We made really good progress, but it doesn’t appear to have resulted in the volume that we needed.” Meanwhile, reports sounding the alarm continued to pile up while that effort stalled. In 2006, the Congressional Budget Office warned that in the event of a flu pandemic on the level of the 1918 Spanish flu, the U.S. would be grossly underprepared when it comes to ventilators. The CBO noted that at the time there were an estimated 100,000 ventilators in the country, but “a severe influenza pandemic like the one in 1918 would require 750,000 ventilators to treat victims.” A 2007 flu pandemic plan published by the Department of the Interior also noted that in such an event: “A substantial percentage of the world’s population will require some form of medical care,” and that medical facilities would likely be “ overwhelmed, creating a shortage of hospital staff, beds, ventilators and other supplies.” Similar language was used in a 2009 OSHA report for influenza pandemic preparedness that also referred to instructions from the Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC for estimating the demand for ventilators and other equipment in the event of pandemics of varying scales. The same year, a report on preparedness for swine flu from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology warned then-President Barack Obama that “[c]ases requiring mechanical ventilation or intensive care could reach 10 to 25 per 100,000 population, requiring 50 to 100 percent or more of the total ICU capacity available in the United States and placing great stress on a system that normally operates at 80 percent of capacity.” In 2013, an avian flu outbreak in China led to a report from the National Institutes of Health on the demand for ventilators in the event of a flu pandemic. “There is a clear challenge to plan and prepare to meet demands for mechanical ventilators for a future severe pandemic,” the report said, estimating that in a “high severity scenario,” the U.S. would need “approximately 35,000 to 60,500 additional ventilators.” The Trump administration was also warned, as a June 2017 CDC report discussed the agency-managed Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) of ventilators, stating that “SNS ventilators might not suffice to meet demand during a severe public health emergency.” In 2006, the American Association for Respiratory Care recommended that the SNS increase its ventilator inventory to between 11,000 and 16,000. Earlier this month, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN that the stockpile currently has 12,700 ventilators. This is up from roughly 4,000 in 2006. Now that the country is in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the government is pushing for speedier delivery of the ordered ventilators that had been expected later on this year, as well as looking to other manufacturers for additional machines. General Motors has been working with medical device company Ventec Life Systems and parts suppliers to build more ventilators, and Trump invoked the Defense Production Act when he felt they were not moving fast enough. GM expects to produce ventilators at a rate of 10,000 per month starting in mid-April. Ford has announced that they and General Electric are also working together to produce “a simplified version” of an existing GE ventilator.