Who Will Bailout Trump? | This is Your Country on Drugs | Bullies and Refugees


“I have never advocated war except as means of peace, so seek peace, but prepare for war. Because war … War never changes. War is like winter and winter is coming.”

“But my later experience has taught me two lessons: first, that things are seen plainer after the events have occurred; second, that the most confident critics are generally those who know the least about the matter criticised.”

– Ulysses S. Grant


Is Trump Too Big to Fail: President Trump’s trade policies aren’t working. Trump groused about the US trade deficit with China, so he set about instigating a trade war, placing tariffs on more than $200 billion worth of Chinese goods in the past year. The idea was by making Chinese imports more expensive and less appealing to buy, Americans would start purchasing more products made in America. Meanwhile China would have to buy more US goods, which would then level out the trade deficit. But Beijing did something nobody saw coming, right? It slapped retaliatory duties on US imports, hurting American businesses that depended on exporting what they produced. When Trump’s steep tariffs on all imported steel and aluminum went into effect in March, it so angered other US trading partners that they added their own retaliatory duties on American imports, including agricultural products like dairy, pork, apples, potatoes, beef and soybeans.

The president’s oft repeated goal of boosting US manufacturing may be helping the small US steel industry, but it’s hurting almost every other sector of the American economy. The agriculture industry has been hit so hard the administration launched a $12 billion aid package this year, one part of which is direct cash payments to farmers. In September the government sent out $25 million in bailout checks, but for some it was too little too late. 84 farms in the upper Midwest had already filed for bankruptcy between July 2017 and June 2018. Ford, America’s second-largest car company, said in August that the Trump tariffs had cost the company $1 billion, and it expected to make massive layoffs. On Monday GM said it would close plants in Michigan, Ohio, and Maryland, and cut 15 percent of its salaried workers. As for America’s trade deficit with China? In September it reached a new high: $34.1 billion, a 13 percent increase compared to last year. And now taxpayers are also on the hook for Trump’s $12 billion bailout.

Additional reads: “Beijing Is Pushing Hard To Influence U.S. Views Of China, Report Says: Beijing is mounting an aggressive influence campaign targeting multiple levels of American society.” (NPR) And “After a Hiatus, China Accelerates Cyberspying Efforts to Obtain U.S. Technology: A Chinese intelligence official is accused of trying to obtain trade secrets from the company.” (NYT)


Don’t Bring Your Covfefe Here Please: President Trump landed in Argentina Thursday evening for the annual Group of 20 summit. Host, Argentine President Mauricio Macri, has been working hard to ameliorate touchy subjects that could trigger Trump’s Twitter finger, things like protectionism, the Paris climate agreement, migration. The G-20 is typically devoted to issues of trade and the environment, so if Macri’s gentle approach manages to elicit wording for the joint declaration at the end of the gathering that doesn’t embarrass the US, or cause the unleashing of an All-Caps Tweet Storm, it will be quite an accomplishment. Then again, there are the little matters of a crushing trade war with China, Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement in the Khashoggi murder, and the Russia-Ukraine naval crisis in the Sea of Azov, so….Good Luck with all that. (WaPo)

Everybody Hates Putin: President Trump cancelled talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin that were scheduled to take place at the G-20 summit in Argentina Friday and Saturday. The reason given was Putin’s failure to return the 24 Ukrainian sailors and three vessels his guards seized Sunday in waters off the Crimean peninsula. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Russia was “entirely” to blame for the crisis, and she intended to raise the issue with Putin. (BBC)

Capturing The Horrors Of Yemen: Declan Walsh is the New York Times reporter in Yemen covering the devastating war that has ravished the country, decimated its economy, and inflicted famine. He tells of the heartbreaking dilemma facing journalists and photographers on the ground there, whose job is simply bearing witness to the horror, not attempting to assuage it. (NYT)

Where Is The Refuge For The Refugee?: For two Syrian children, who fled their country’s civil war two years ago and started a new life in northern England, the suffering did not end. Jamal and his sister were repeatedly bullied by their West Yorkshire classmates at the Almondbury Community School. On October 25 a cellphone video was made of Jamal being attacked and choked. When he was able to break free, he did not respond to the taunts and jeers, but simply walked away. Then the video made its way to Twitter and Facebook, where it was seen and shared hundreds of thousands of times. When Jamal saw it, he felt ashamed; he felt sadness for being perceived as somehow different; he blamed himself for what had happened. But where Jamal felt shame, others saw quiet dignity in his suffering and were inspired to do something about it. (WaPo)

Healthy-ish: There’s a worrying message in an editorial in the November 10 edition of the medical journal The Lancet. While humans generally are living longer, progress against medical conditions that disable, sicken or kill is slowing down. The editorial accompanies reports from a massive research project called Global Burden of Disease, which counts cases of disability, illness and death around the world. The studies show increasing obesity in countries like the US and UK is stalling a rise in life expectancy, and causing elevated rates of some conditions such as liver cancer and hypertensive heart disease. Obesity is now leading to a million deaths every year from type 2 diabetes. Bottom line: although we’re living longer, we’re living longer with one or more chronic illnesses. (NPR)


Overdose Epidemic Haunts The US: The rise in opioid-related deaths is responsible for a decline in US life-expectancy for the second time in three years, according to reports issued Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An American born in 2017 is now expected to live to be 78.6 years old, or 1.2 months shorter than a baby born in 2016. The CDC’s three reports show statistics that reveal troubling trends. In 2017 alone, more than 70,000 people died of drug overdoses, the most ever for the US in a single year. That number is nearly 10 percent higher than the number of deaths in 2016. By comparison, only about 17,000 people died from overdoses in 1999.

CDC Director Robert Redfield said of the data: “Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the Nation’s overall health and these sobering statistics are a wakeup call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable.” A substance use disorders expert at Harvard Medical School agreed, saying: “We’re seeing the drop in life expectancy not because we’re hitting a cap [for lifespans of] people in their 80s…[but] because people are dying in their 20s [and] 30s.” There was a bright spot in the reports. The rate of people dying of cancer declined 2.1 percent from 2016 to 2017.

Additional reads: “‘The Numbers Are So Staggering.’ Overdose Deaths Set a Record Last Year: A class of synthetic drugs has replaced heroin in many major American drug markets…. Deaths involving fentanyls increased more than 45 percent in 2017 alone.” (NYT)

– “Number Of U.S. Kids Who Don’t Have Health Insurance Is On The Rise:…children in the United States without health insurance jumped to 3.9 million in 2017 from about 3.6 million the year before. More than 1 in 5 uninsured children nationwide live in Texas — about 835,000 kids — by far the highest number of any state.” (NPR)


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Pardon Me, Trump, Pardon Me: President Trump told the New York Post Wednesday that he hadn’t discussed clemency for ex-campaign manager Paul Manafort, but the possibility for a pardon wasn’t off the table. Trump’s remarks followed a late-Tuesday revelation in the New York Times that Manafort’s lawyer had briefed Trump’s lawyers about what Manafort had been telling investigators in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. That information had enabled the president’s legal team to have an inside look at the investigation and be able to craft their legal defense and public relations strategies. Both the Times and the Post stories appeared after Mueller’s office notified a federal court on Monday that Manafort had lied during his interviews since agreeing to a plea deal, automatically voiding the deal. Prosecutors asked the judge in the case to sentence Manafort as soon as possible without any consideration for his cooperation. (NPR)

– “Michael Cohen Admits Trump Tower-Moscow Talks Continued Well Into 2016 Campaign” (NPR)

– “How a future Trump Cabinet member gave a serial sex abuser the deal of a lifetime” (Miami Herald)

– “His Father-in-Law Insulted Mexicans. Now Kushner Has Won Mexico’s Highest Honor.” (NYT)

– “Convicted US murderer Samuel Little confesses to killing 90 women: If 78-year-old’s claims are confirmed, it would make him one of the worst serial killers in American history” (Guardian)

– “U.S. Seeing Lowest Level Of Unauthorized Immigrants In A Decade, Pew Study Says” (NPR)


– “Wanted: The ‘perfect babysitter.’ Must pass AI scan for respect and attitude.” (WaPo)

– “Why Procrastination Is Bad For Your Brain: Procrastination is a vice many of us indulge in, and there’s a reason it’s so hard to quit. However, the long term effects of putting things off are actually hurting your brain.” (Lifehacker)

– “The Science of the Job Search, Part VII: You Only Need 50% of Job ‘Requirements’” (Talent Works)

– “You’re Licked Before You Begin, But You Begin Anyway.” —Atticus Finch: Bringing To Kill a Mockingbird to Broadway was nearly impossible.” (Vulture)

– “Bee-brained: Are insects ‘philosophical zombies’ with no inner life? Close attention to their behaviours and moods suggests otherwise” (Aeon)

– “The Search for Alien Life Begins in Earth’s Oldest Desert: In the Martian landscape that is the Atacama desert, astrobiologists are learning how to recognize extraterrestrial organisms.” (Atlantic)

– “An Anti-Vaxxer’s New Crusade: Dr. David Ayoub used to be active in the anti-vaccination movement. Now he’s challenging mainstream science again — as an expert witness for accused child abusers.” (Propublica)

– “Why So Many People Hate Winter: Science suggests that there are two types of people who tolerate the cold well. Sadly, I’m neither.” (Atlantic)

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