Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The US's 2.5 billion-pound meat surplus, visualized

So here's a comforting thought: The United States of America will not run out of cheese or meat anytime soon.

US dairy producers now have a 1.39 billion-pound surplus of cheese, according to data from the US Department of Agriculture.

According to new data from the USDA, American meat producers now have 2.5 billion pounds of chicken, turkey, pork, and beef in cold storage, which is also a record, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The American dairy and meat markets are certainly interesting, but here's what we really wanted to know: What does more than a billion pounds of cheese even look like? What does 2.5 billion pounds of meat look like?

Extrapolating from the density of this popular brand of cheddar, 1.39 billion pounds of cheese would take up roughly 900,303 cubic yards.

That's a mountain of cheese, comparable to the size of the US Capitol building.

Further reading: too much cheese Why Trump's trade agenda might worsen America's cheese glut.


Trade War Update: U.S. Goes For China's Jugular

If you want to know the endgame in this China trade war, it is probably this: redirect supply chains to favor American manufacturers; pressure the Communist Party to open its mega domestic market to Americans with no strings; and challenge Chinese dominance in Asia, a dominance many in Washington feel was ill-gotten, partly on the backs of intellectual property theft.

Here's an example as to why: analyst Zhang Lin criticized Beijing for its trade war strategy in an op-ed published July 30 in the South China Morning Post.

Nowadays they are moving in search of safe havens from the escalating trade war between China and the U.S., said Clara Chan Yuen-shan, president of the Hong Kong Young Industrialists Council and chief executive of Lee Kee Holdings.

If you believe China's One Belt One Road project is a means for China to develop markets for its industrial machinery and consumer goods-thus expanding the reach of important companies like telecom systems giant ZTE and heavy machinery manufacturer Zoomlion'then a rival to that gives incentives to Asians to stick to Cisco and Caterpillar instead, in the simplest of terms.

"The U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership was a disappointment to countries seeking a counterweight to China's growth. But that was 18 months ago, and most have adjusted to the new reality. The blow has been softened by the fact that the new tariffs between China and the U.S., at least directionally, create some of the same incentives to increase trade with these other countries as the TPP would have done. Friendly words from Secretary Pompeo solidify that sentiment," Keller says.

Trump being Trump threatened tariffs on everything China sells to the U.S., or around $500 billion.

Either new tariffs will be announced or Trump will be too busy running around the Special Counsel to attack China.


UC Berkeley's 'income inequality' critics earn in top 2%

Scholars from the University of California at Berkeley have played a pivotal role in making income inequality a major political issue.

While Reich helped popularize the income inequality theme, much of the intellectual heavy lifting has been done by UC Berkeley economist Edward Saez and his colleagues at the university's Center for Equitable Growth.

Saez has been researching income inequality since 2003, when he co-authored a paper on the topic with Thomas Piketty, the French economist whose book Capital in the Twenty-First Century also played a key role in popularizing the income inequality issue.

The city of Berkeley's Gini score of 0.5356 places it in the top 5% of U.S. cities for income inequality.

It is also worth noting that all four are in the top 2% of UC Berkeley's salary distribution, and that Saez is in the top 1%. It could be that an effective researcher has to know his or her subject: thus to the study the top 1%, we suppose one has to be in the top 1%. Robert Reich receives somewhat lower compensation than the four CEG economists, collecting $263,592 in pay during 2014.

So if UC Berkeley economists are really opposed to income inequality and are concerned about low-paid workers, they might consider sharing some of their compensation with the teaching assistants, graders, readers and administrative staff at the bottom of Cal's income distribution.

We're not saying income inequality is a bad thing; we're not saying that Reich, Saez and other Berkeley professors should make less than they do, or that student teachers ought to make much, much more.


Facebook has detected a coordinated effort to influence the 2018 US midterm elections

Facebook has detected a coordinated effort to use its social network to influence the 2018 US mid-term elections, according to a report in the New York Times on Tuesday.

"We're still in the very early stages of our investigation and don't have all the facts - including who may be behind this," Facebook said in a blog post published after the Times story published.

Facebook has not directly linked the efforts to Russia, the Times reported, thought it cited two anonymous sources that said Russia was "Possibly" involved.

The election influence campaign involves dozens of inauthentic Facebook accounts and pages, the report says.

"The most followed Facebook Pages were 'Aztlan Warriors,' 'Black Elevation,' 'Mindful Being,' and 'Resisters.' The remaining Pages had between zero and 10 followers, and the Instagram accounts had zero followers," Facebook wrote.

Just last week Facebook refused to answer questions about whether it had detected any such efforts to influence or interfere in the midterm elections.

Facebook, which has more than 2 billion members worldwide, has come under increased scrutiny following revelations that its social network was used to spread misinformation during the 2016 US presidential election, as well as other important elections and referendums, such as the "Brexit" campaign in Britain.


Precision Policing

We believe that precision policing represents the next phase of the policing revolution.

Precision policing is an organizing principle for the complexities of structuring, managing, motivating, and leading a twenty-first-century police force.

The second broad theme of precision policing: whereas focused crime-and-disorder enforcement targets the few who make communities unsafe, neighborhood policing works with the large number of residents who make communities strong.

Commissioner O'Neill has called neighborhood policing the "Greatest change to NYPD patrol in more than 50 years, and the largest systematic outreach to New York's communities in department history." It borrows significantly from two sources: the Boston Fenway Neighborhood Policing initiative, established by Bratton during the 1970s and guided by consultant Robert Wasserman; and the long-established Senior Lead Officer, or SLO, program used by the Los Angeles Police Department, which Bratton led from 2001 to 2009.

Neighborhood policing and focused crime-and-disorder enforcement form the operational backbone of precision policing.

Precision policing is a framework to ensure that the police collaborate with the community in meaningful ways-building police legitimacy because the methods are integrated into the heart of patrol work, not viewed as an ancillary function.

Precision policing ensures that police use connectivity more than enforcement and that when enforcement is necessary, it is accurately focused.


Trump's Tweets End The Myth Of Fed Independence

President Trump's recent Tweets expressing displeasure with the Federal Reserve's interest rate increases led to accusations that President Trump is undermining the Federal Reserve's independence.

President Warren Harding called on the Fed to lower rates.

Significant rate increases could make it impossible for the government to service its existing debt, thus making it difficult for President Trump and Congress to continue increasing welfare and warfare spending.

Two of the three sitting members of the Fed's board were appointed by President Trump.

By the end of his first term, President Trump could appoint six of the Federal Reserve's seven board members.

Given the Federal Reserve's power to help or hinder a president's economic agenda and reelection prospects, it is no surprise that presidents try to influence Fed policy.

Instead of worrying about protecting the Fed from President Trump, we should all worry about protecting the American people from the Fed.


Mueller's midterm elections

There are no specific, detailed rules for Mueller to follow.

If Mueller were to apply the 60-Day Rule, he would basically do what Starr did and try to lay low after Labor Day.

"My guess is that Bob Mueller is intent upon not repeating the very same actions that have caused Jim Comey so much well-deserved criticism," says Ratcliffe.

Whatever Mueller does will not stop his investigation from being a factor in the voting.

Trump misses no opportunity to denounce Mueller as biased and the investigation as a "Witch hunt." Which leads to the question of whether anyone thinks the president will observe the 60-Day Rule himself and refrain from criticizing Mueller before the election? Not a chance, especially when Trump's attacks have taken a toll on public opinion of the probe and of Mueller himself.

Ratcliffe might be on to something when he suggests that the Comey experience is an example Mueller will dearly want to avoid repeating.

"In my opinion, Mueller will either try to clear Donald Trump as a target by Labor Day, or will throttle down any further public actions by the special counsel until after Nov. 6," Ratcliffe says.


Wall Street Journal blasts Trump in scathing editorial over shutdown threats

The Wall Street Journal's editorial board on Monday slammed for his latest threat to shut down the government, asking whether Trump cares if Democrats retake control of the House this year.

In a news story on Monday night, the Journal reported that Trump has privately agreed to put off the fight over the wall until after the election.

Trump's threats have rattled Republicans who believe a shutdown ahead of the election would hurt their party.

In its editorial, the Journal asked whether Trump was again getting advice from former adviser.

The editorial states that it would fit Bannon's profile of stressing "Issues that polarize the electorate to drive voter turnout among the Trump base."

The Journal has frequently aimed heavy scrutiny against Trump.

"Good luck to Republicans running on the Trump tariffs in November," the editorial board wrote.


More Dems Asked About Radical Wing of Party

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may have pulled off an impressive underdog win in New York's 14th congressional district, but she has been more of a headache and a handicap for Democrats than a welcome addition.

Ocasio-Cortez represents the young, radically progressive of the Democratic Party.

Rep. Denny Heck is the most recent Democrat to cast doubt on Ocasio-Cortez's win and to urge a more moderate agenda.

His reasonable view on ICE even has some liberal voters cheering on Heck's opponent, Tamborine Borrelli.

Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has taken a similar approach to questions about ICE and about progressives like Ocasio-Cortez.

Landrieu said the Democratic Party needs to be "a big tent party," with room for everybody.

Ocasio-Cortez, on the other hand, is preparing her Netroots speech.


China's Latest Vaccine Scandal Shows The Flaws Of Socialized Medicine

In China, vaccine production is heavily subsidized by the government and vaccines are given to children through the government's mandatory vaccination program.

Only last November, another major Chinese vaccine maker, the state-run Wuhan Institute of Biological Products sold 400,520 inferior DPT vaccines to several local government agencies, which were then given to countless children through the state-run vaccination programs.

The Chinese government insists that there are no reports of any children falling ill after being given the latest batch of substandard DPT vaccines.

The Chinese government, while punishing the drug companies gently, spends its energy and resources on censoring Chinese parents from complaining about the vaccine scandals or even researching any vaccine related information.

The Chinese government also bans coverage of the latest vaccine scandal in print media.

Between the tainted milk scandal several years ago that made 300,000 babies sick and the current vaccine scandal, Chinese parents are fed up.

Now with the vaccine scandals, Chinese parents once again choose to trust a free market economy like Hong Kong.


The Congressional GOP Is Suicidal

Heading into this summer, I warned that Congressional Republicans were incapable of implementing a truly transformative legislative agenda that would support the America First principles that Donald Trump campaigned on during the 2016 campaign.

By ignoring the Trump agenda - even actively working against it - the Congressional GOP is suicidal, as the Democrats and their psycho socialist base are galvanized and the GOP is not.

The larger purpose behind the Congressional GOP's legislative malfeasance is that many Republicans do not want Trump to succeed.

Earlier this year, Congressional Republicans managed to goad President Trump into signing a ridiculous $1.3 trillion spending bill.

As Bovard assesses in her excellent piece, the "'Trump voters' - so defined as those who supported Trump but do not identify as Republicans - are missing in action.

President Trump appears to have figured out GOP duplicity and is lighting a proverbial fire under their hides: he is demanding that Congress either fully fund the border wall or suffer a government shutdown.

Even if the GOP in Congress did consent to building Trump's wall, it would likely demand greater government spending from Trump.