In one of those, “no one would believe this if it was in a movie,” stories we bring you “Wholesale Hitman!” Over a real estate dispute gone sour & a lawsuit in China, mogul Tan Youhui hired a hitman to kill a rival developer.
You see, in 2013 Tan Youhui hired Xi Guangan for $2m Yuan (approx. $275,000 with all further money being translated into US dollars) to kill his business rival. But, um … well, Guangan kind of … didn’t do it. He hired a second man to do the job for him!
Xi Guangan hired Mo Tianxiang for half the sum he had received up front. Now we have a second hitman on the job! Only, um … the second hitman didn’t do it, either. He paid a third hitman to kill the developer and that’s how Yang Kangsheng got the contract. Kangsheng, the third hitman was offered about $38,000 up front and promised an additional $71,000 upon contract completion.
But, plot twist (that you probably saw coming from a mile away)! The following year, which brings us to 2014 - Yang contracted Yang Guangsheng, a fourth hitman and offered him $28,000 up front and a promise of an additional $71,000 upon completion of the contract. So, by now Yang Kangsheng (the 3rd hitman) was anticipating the $38,000 up front and the additional $71,000 which all would go to the fourth hitman leaving the third hitman with only a $10,000 profit. Okay. I guess it’s still $10,000 right? Nothing to shake a stick at.
Well, as the fates would have it, the fourth hitman - also didn’t want to go through with it. Several months later, the second Yang hired Ling Xiansi for $14,000 to, you guessed it - kill the developer!
Ling finally spilled the beans to the actual target about the assassination plot and then, in another bizaarre plot twist the two of them faked his murder up to and including staged photos attempted to collect the cash and, presumably evenly split it.
Which didn’t work. So, the developer, who was the target, finally went to the police and reported the plot. As one hitman led to the next, each spilled the beans on the person that hired them and soon enough, all of them, including the original man who hired the first hitman, had been arrested.
The initial developer who started the plot, received five years in jail. All the hitmen involved received between two and four years in jail.
Seriously, though. Can you imagine sitting in a movie theater watching this plot unfold? By the fourth hitman hired I’m sure most audience members would be like, “Really, he hired a fourth hitman! This is starting to get a bit much!” By the time that fifth hitman was hired audience members would be eye rolling their disbelief in movie theaters everywhere!
But, as they always says, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”
My father was a big shot in the worlds of engineering and education.
He retired as the Dean of the College of Engineering at Bradley University after a years long career, producing hundreds of engineers for companies like Caterpillar. One of those young engineers was NOT me.
If I had come to his office one day, when I was still in college, and told my father that Caterpillar had hired me for (this was the 70s) say a mere $20,000 a month in an unspecified position with unspecified responsibilities he would have come unglued.
He would NOT have been proud and congratulated me.
He would have rightfully called the Chairman at Caterpillar (in those days, his friend William L. Naumann), demand I be fired and would never have allowed such a conflict of interest to take place. (I actually had to fight him over the $200 a month job of running the University’s radio station and he ultimately did have me fired after two years.)
Contrast that with former Vice President Joe Biden.
His son, Hunter, is a drug addict who got himself kicked out of the Navy. Serious skillset there.
His father basically had a few responsibilities as Vice President. In addition to staying alive in the event of the President’s untimely demise, two of those were representing President Obama’s policies in China and the Ukraine.
After he got kicked out of the United States Navy, Hunter hitched a ride to China on Air Force Two and a few days after they returned, Hunter’s private equity company got a BILLION dollar “investment” from China’s government.
Imagine that. Coincidence?
Doubtful. But to listen to the former Vice President, sonny boy didn’t do anything wrong—like he intimated the Trump children have. There is, however, a difference. The Trump children were in business long before their father ran for President.
Does Joe really want to take the position that someone who is a businessman CANNOT serve in public office?
You see, Donald Trump is the first President we have had in many years who is NOT part of the political club. Who is so wealthy he cannot be bought, despite the ridiculous claims by people that, somehow, he has become enriched by becoming President. However much the media hates him, it would be very hard for a President as vilified as he to actually increase his net worth while in office.
And his inability to be bought is just another reason he is vilified by people and institutions which would love to buy him.
How is it that a clown like Joe Biden could use his position to make his son wealthy and look the media in the eye and say that nothing was done wrong? That during his tenure there was no corruption?
That’s the very swamp which Trump is in the process of draining. People expect this crap in DC, just as they used to expect the mob to control Chicago, New York and Las Vegas.
Biden would have you believe that he’s an honest man in Washington—that Donald Trump is corrupt. That using his position as Vice President to enrich his son never happened. And, if it did, well, that’s how things work in big time politics.
The truth can be divined in a quote from a video of Biden talking to the Council on Foreign Relations about a Ukrainian prosecutor who apparently was getting a little too close to Sonny Boy. “I said we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said ‘you can’t do that, you have no authority, you’re not the president. I said if the prosecutor’s not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch, he got fired."
(Editor's note: This quote is taken from a one hour video of Biden (and others) discussing Biden's efforts on behalf of the Obama administration to pressure Ukraine into prosecuting corruption and firing prosecutor Viktor Shokin, who was universally recognized by diplomats and officials as an ineffective prosecutor who refused to go after corrupt politicians. Shokin's office was also investigating Burisma, a company that Biden's son Hunter, was a board of director member. Shokin was later fired and replaced by another prosecutor. Therefor, many are pushing an idea that, Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire the prosecutor in order to protect his son who must have done something illegal while he was on the board of directors of this company. The above quote is used as "proof." The first problem with this is that Biden's quote is taken completely out of context and if you watch the full hour video, which is much more interesting than you would expect it to be, it speaks for itself. The second problem is that, if you read about the actual Burisma investigation it dealt with Ukraine's Ministry of Ecology, which allegedly granted special permits, that may or may not have been illegal, to Burisma between 2010 and 2012. Hunter Biden did not join the company until 2014. But, because the investigation was still on going when he joined the company it is factually accurate to say that Hunter Biden was on the board of directors while the company was being investigated by Shokin's office. But, as you can see, it would be impossible for Hunter Biden to have anything to do with the investigation since he wasn't even involved in the company until multiple years after the fact. Finally, the reason Shokin was actually fired was because he refused to go after corrupt politicians. He was replaced by a prosecutor who was known to go after corrupt politicians. So, while it is all true that Hunter Biden raised $1.5 billion with China's state bank by having his fater, who was Vice President at the time and was in China on a state vist, introduce him to some very wealthy Chinese folks, which is a bit shady. There is clearly nothing going on with the no story of the Burisma / Hunter Biden investigation as it was about an issue that was two to four years before Hunter joined the company.)
You know the cliché “power corrupts,” but what does corruption look like? Wherever people have a little bit of power over other people, at least some will misuse it. Most people are not evil or cruel, but if they think they’ll get away with it, they’ll game the system to get rich.
Each year, at least 5 percent of the global gross domestic product (GDP) is wasted by corruption. Corruption makes everything cost more. You might be forced to pay bribes for a permit to build your house, pay police to use roads or bridges, pay kidnappers to avoid violence, to save your child’s life from disease. But corruption costs more than just money.
When the wealthy and well-connected get special access to power, we all suffer. Corruption threatens civic and human rights. Citizens lose autonomy over their bodies and their property, journalists lose their right to speak truth to power. Checks and balances get weaker: elections may be cancelled or rigged to protect the corrupt. Prosecutors and judges are bribed into silence. The rule of law begins to unravel.
Around the world and throughout the centuries, people with power have found ways to exploit others and enrich themselves. The costs—both economic and humanitarian—are devastating.
1. Russia: (Cost of Corruption: 30 Percent of GDP)
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russians were pressured to pay for a “krysha” (literally “roof” but meaning “protection”), essentially safety from criminal gangs. Recently, extortion has become an accepted function of government. The government offices that control access to medical care, education, housing, and utilities are highly corrupt bureaucracies, and demand bribes just to do their jobs.
Officials who can hand out contracts or land triple their salaries in graft and kickbacks. Police can be bought off and judges bribed, so criminal extortion often goes unpunished. Organized crime syndicates conspire with government ministries to exploit average people and then evade justice.
2. China: (Cost of Corruption: 10 Percent of GDP)
Though growing wealthier by the day, China has lagged behind other developed economies due to corruption. Bribery of public officials is commonplace, with 35 percent of Chinese companies admitting to paying bribes for special licenses or to evade taxes.
Average citizens often must pay “facilitation payments” to access public services. An accepted system of favors, bribes, and gifts known as guanxi (literally: ‘relationship’) obscures the total cost of corruption, which may be 10 percent of China’s GDP.
Recent crackdowns that saw 58,0000 corrupt officials indicted were politically motivated and highly selective. The strict rule of the Communist Party in China, and its close ties to the military, perpetuates further enriching the wealthy through “public” power.
3. South Africa: (Cost of Corruption: 10 Percent of GDP)
South African police officers are among the most corrupt in the world. Women are particularly vulnerable, sometimes accused of being sex workers and then assaulted by officers as a “test.” Actual sex workers suffer abuse to avoid arrest. Police often accuse drivers of being under the influence, then demand money to release them.
Prison-building corporation Bosasa secured profitable deals by bribing individual cabinet ministers and the president’s close associates with cash, cars, vacations, and homes. Bosasa’s executives also bribed journalists and prosecutors, resulting in (according to Corruption Watch) “the near destruction of the law enforcement agencies responsible for investigating and prosecuting perpetrators of corruption.”
4. Somalia: (Cost of Corruption: Up to 20 Percent of GDP)
Somalians live with corruption in every aspect of civic life. 80% of state funds are withdrawn by individuals, and not spent on social services. Would-be voters meet with violence, threats, and harassment. Journalists—at least 30 since 2008—have been murdered for investigating corruption or human rights abuses.
Entrepreneurship is barely legal, and most transactions include bribes or violence. Trade is dominated by those with financial ties to the ruling elite. The embezzlement of public funds saps what little money Somalia has to invest in the welfare of its people. Courts lack authority to prosecute corruption.
5. India: (Cost of Corruption: 1.5 Percent of GDP)
As many as 90 percent of Indians work in semi-legal “gray” markets, so they live in constant fear and become easy to extort. Two-thirds of Indians report bribing an official at least once last year. The typical fee to obtain a driver’s license is more than doubled by bribes, and truckers are routinely stopped at makeshift highway checkpoints where regulators or police demand cash.
An exceptionally high tax rate is selectively applied; buying favorable rates or exemption from fines is an established part of the tax system. Few independent media sources exist, and investigative reporting on corruption, especially at high levels, is dangerous for journalists.
6. Venezuela: (Cost of Corruption: >50% of GDP)
The well-publicized devastation of the Venezuelan economy followed a decade of embezzlement and rampant theft at the highest levels of government. Customs officials sell illegal passports to non-citizens, often for the purposes of transporting weapons or drugs.
Government price controls encouraged officials to overstate the costs of basic goods, then sell subsidized goods on the black market for personal gain. Venezuela’s military was caught trafficking food rations. Shortages of medicine, electricity, and clean water are still widespread. Government officials went on printing (and then pocketing) money as inflation increased to nearly 1 million percent. Now 90 percent of the population of a once-wealthy nation lives in poverty.
To retain power while the country’s economy fell apart, President Maduro murdered journalists, attacked protesters, jailed opposition leaders, and terrorized their population.
Is Corruption Human Nature? Is There Hope?
US data is much harder to acquire. Trillions can get lost, $16 Billion missing here, $10 Billion overpaid there... a person could get suspicious. Likely, it’s 5-10 percent of government spending, or 3-5 percent of GDP.
In general, the wealthier and freer the people, the less corrupt and more transparent their government.
Independent courts, a free press, lower taxes, and less government spending all contribute to oversight of power and the ability of citizens to oust abusers.
Corruption is a constant, but strong civic institutions can help combat its worst effects.
Dr. Laura Williams teaches communication strategy to undergraduates and executives. She is a passionate advocate for critical thinking and individual liberties. Her opinions are her own. This article originally appeared on fee.org, then pennypress. This is an edited version, reprtinted with permission.
Ask yourself if you were President, what would you do if you discovered that a foreign country has been waging an underground war against the nation you are sworn to protect surreptitiously killing tens of thousands of your people every year by pouring a drug so deadly that merely accidentally touching a small amount could kill you?
What would you do if you discovered that the same country had been engaging in economic warfare against your country designed to emasculate critical industries, gain control of the mining of critical rare earth minerals used in military manufacturing and manipulating your currency on the world market to ensure that key domestic manufactured goods could not compete on the international market?
And what would you do if you were to discover that this same country was stealing the intellectual property created in your country through forced technology transfers, industrial and government spying and outright theft of individual and company’s patent protections, with this stolen creativity fueling their dynamic economic growth?
If your answer is nothing, then you are at some level describing how the United States government had been responding to China since at least the late 1980s. Some, like the George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations attempted to deal with currency manipulation, when the Treasury pegged it as a manipulator between 1992 and 1994, and later the U.S. administrations would also try to stop technology transfers to China, but ultimately their attempts failed because they weren’t willing to create a meaningful cost to the Chinese government.
The resulting opiate and economic hollowing out crisis is what led to Middle America to embrace a Donald Trump presidency. America lost faith that traditional leaders would fight for their interests and Trump promised them that he would put America (them) first when dealing with Washington, D.C. and the rest of the world.
So when President Donald Trump took the oath of office to the Presidency of the United States and pledged with his hand on the Bible he pledged, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” much of America took heart because for the first time in a long time, they believed that he meant it.
Not being a politician who was steeped in the mythology that somehow China was going to forego thousands of years of history and suddenly transform into a western, capitalist republic similar to Japan’s forced Post World War II conversion, President Trump looked at China through a different lens.
President Trump went to Beijing and was quoted as bluntly stating to Chinese President Xi, “I don’t blame China. After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country to the benefit of its citizens? But in actuality, I do blame past [U.S.] administrations for allowing this out-of-control trade deficit to take place and to grow. We have to fix this because it just doesn’t work for our great American companies and it doesn’t work for our great American workers. It is just not sustainable.”
While many in the media and elsewhere focused upon President Trump’s seemingly giving China a pass for being a bad economic actor, in reality, he was announcing to China and the world, that there was a new sheriff in town and the on-going hollowing out of our nation’s manufacturing sector would no longer be accepted.
Now, almost three years into Trump’s first term, the President has prioritized four items when dealing with China: stopping fentanyl from China; protecting intellectual property rights; stopping Chinese currency manipulation and normalizing tariffs between the two countries.
Incredibly, publications like Bloomberg, which are supposed to be financial in nature, are publishing articles like: U.S. and China got in a trade war and Mexico won demonstrating that they have little understanding of what is at stake either economically or strategically.
First and foremost, those Chinese apologists who believe that someday the communist Chinese government will suddenly reform into good little capitalists and democrats because we are making them incredibly wealthy are dangerously wrong. China has been engaged in an on-going war against the United States for more than twenty years, enabled by open economic borders types who argue that we should ignore that Chinese slaves are making our apparel, plastic junk and yes many of our electronics and their internal components, because the low labor costs drive our prices down.
Importing slave made finished goods is no different than importing cotton for the mills before the Civil War more than 150 years ago, it is astonishing that anyone in modern America would make this argument, yet unwittingly that is exactly what the open economic borders globalists do.
It also cannot be missed that President Trump has engaged his Chinese counterpart more on the fentanyl import issue than any other. Opioid addiction is hollowing out our nation. It knows no economic class or race. Opioids are so addictive that virtually anyone can become controlled by the desire to attain them. And yes, many people die, almost 70,000 a year, from opioids — 30,000 of these directly from fentanyl — which arrived in American bloodstreams straight from China.
Chinese President Xi promised to crack down on the fentanyl trade and his government did recently make it a regulated controlled substance. Xi has promised time and again to stop the fentanyl flow, and yet, just last week, the Mexican Navy interdicted a shipment of 25 tons of fentanyl directly from Shanghai on order from the Sinaloa Cartel which was planning on hotlining it into our nation using their various border crossing routes that some in our nation don’t believe should be shut down.
Unlike an American president, the president of China and his government controls all economic activity including the shipping from China’s ports. The Lazaro Cardenas port where the drugs were seized is Mexico’s largest port and has, off and on, been controlled by the Sinaloa drug cartel. Given the Chinese government’s relatively iron-fisted control, it is more likely than unlikely that they were directly involved in pushing this poison onto the streets with their Sinaloa partners.
A simple understanding of how China lost the first and second Opium Wars to the British in the mid-1800s, is enough to explain why the Xi regime views the destruction of America by attacking the soul of our nation through the same addiction that many believe took China 100 years to recover. And in their wake, they leave millions of broken people and tens of thousands dead each year.
If 30,000 dead Americans each year due to Chinese fentanyl and the burden of supporting human slavery don’t fully make the moral case for changing our fundamental relationship with China, then the theft of intellectual property might. America uses the best research university and government laboratory systems in the world to create the science which will drive the 21st century world. And then China either steals or purchases the ideas flipping them into products that they sell back to the U.S. at ten cents on the dollar. Meanwhile the critical applied sciences manufacturing sector that will determine which country will lead the 21st century ends up in China, as it doesn’t make economic sense to make it in the United States.
It is this last point that head in the sand conservative globalists fundamentally don’t understand. So, here is the point — when a company decides that it makes more sense to make a product in Mexico, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, India or Australia to export to the U.S. rather than China, it is a win. China’s manufacturing sector is diminished and more importantly, the U.S. has supply lines for crucial products outside of the Middle Kingdom.
When Bloomberg declares that Mexico is the winner in the trade war, that means that the United States wins on multiple fronts. As stated in the paragraph above, Mexican supply lines are secure, which benefits the U.S. consumer. Also, as China has to compete with other countries to supply goods to the world, suddenly there is real leverage against the Xi government to crack down on fentanyl production and trade, in exchange for more favorable tariff rates.
And it should not be forgotten that it is in the United States’ interest for the Mexican economy to be healthy as a strong Mexican economy is the most natural barrier against illegal entry into the U.S. of all.
Winning the trade war is not only about transferring manufacturing from China to the U.S., it is about ending China’s opium war on the U.S, its role as a virtual sole source provider, and diversifying the markets which serve the United States. On that front, the Chinese are clearly losing and the U.S. is winning (along with other economies like Mexico).
Diversifying trading partners also allows U.S. consumers a choice. If you are upset that Chinese Christians are jailed for simply having a Bible, say no to products made in China. Upset about the forced organ donations those in concentration camps, the Trump trade war is giving you a “not made in China choice.”
While the market is not moral per se, it is made up of hundreds of millions of transactions by people who are. And by providing a “not made in China” option, President Trump is allowing those choices to have a moral component.
Because ultimately, the so-called trade war by President Trump is a moral and economic fight for the future of the world. It is just sad that so many very smart people are so divorced from any sense of morality, that they cannot see it for themselves without having it explained in explicit terms.
Rick Manning is the President of Americans for Limited Government and a guest contributor to pennypress.com: the conservative voice of Nevada. His views and opinions are his own. This article was originally published at pennypress.com and has been reprinted with permission.
Gee, the Chinese seem to want a trade war.
That should raise the blood pressure of the Chicago School of Economics students.
Why should you care?
The truth is that the Democrats want you to care only because they sense a vulnerability they might be able to exploit in the 2020 election. Of course, what they know about business you could stuff in a thimble and still have room for the 20 mental midgets who want a chance to get the losing party’s nomination. Elizabeth Warren indeed.
If you were to add the IQ of the 20 candidates for the Democrat nomination together, it would not equal one American steelworker—and it is not my intention to insult steelworkers.
The other reason one might care is that your really cheap flat screen TVs will have to be made in Korea or Viet Nam in the future.
Here’s the fact.
China has been ripping us off since President Nixon went to China. We’re the bank they have been robbing. If we catch a cold, they get pneumonia.
They tax the hell out of our manufacturers one way or another, they keep their markets essentially closed to us and they steal our intellectual property. And we’re supposed to allow them to continue? Their next step is to try and replace the dollar as a primary currency.
The truth is that a little pain—slightly more expensive cheap Chinese crap, as an example—probably won’t hurt us.
In case you haven’t seen past the Shepard Smiths and Rachel Maddows of the world, things are pretty good right now for the middle class. However, economic hucksters on cable tv would like you to think we’re headed to 2008 all over again. Remember, when the market drops 700 points in one day, they get more viewers.
Of course, in 2008, crooks on Wall Street and crooks on Main Street had been deliberately making crappy home loans, packaging them up as securities, selling those securities to each other and betting against them.
When it all blew up, they turned to us, the taxpayers, for a bailout and got it. That solved Wall Street’s problem.
But on Main Street, the credit markets seized and millions of people found themselves with mortgages worth more than their houses because the market values of those houses crashed. Those with incomes could power through. Those who got loans which nobody in their right minds would have made, got evicted. And it represented a great buying opportunity for those who got bailed out.
Fast forward to today.
We have a real businessman in the White House—not a community organizer.
If Goldman Sachs and their buddies came to Donald Trump for a bail-out, they might get it but the terms would be much more onerous than the days when Barack Obama was there. Think of our President as negotiating for US in such a situation. We’ve never been in such good hands.
Now is not a good time for Wall Street to come begging.
So, they won’t. They will keep things under control.
There will be no securitization of NINJA (no income, no job or assets) loans like lenders were encouraged to make before 2008.
When you see the amateur economists—like the people responsible for the last crash—predicting another economic crash, remember two things.
One is that we can develop new markets for our exports.
Second, Chinas’ biggest market is us.
As far as China goes, how can they replace us? Especially if we stick with the President in keeping the pressure on.
I have a question for those screamers who claim to be students of the Chicago School of Economics. Or have a gig at one of the business television networks.
What part of the Bill of Rights says “Congress shall make no law or allow no tariff abridging the right of citizens to gather at Walmart and buy cheap Chinese crap”?
To listen to most of the folks on CNBC, Fox Business and Bloomberg, you’d think they replaced the Second Amendment with that.
I’ve been in business, negotiating deals, for most of my adult life. A bad deal is when you memorialize being taken advantage of. A good deal is when all parties to the deal get something they want.
Our trade deal— from the beginning of modern time to date—with China can generously be called a bad deal.
Apparently we want the cheapest flat screen television sets so badly we’re willing to give up our rights to sell stuff in China to get them. And if President Trump thinks that’s a bad deal and wants to impose tariffs to correct it, the companies importing and selling those sets scream that the American consumer is going to take a beating. As opposed to the American worker, who of course, are one and the same.
Then, when it all is sorted out by the Wall Street Journal, that beating appears to be about $800 a year per family. And, keep in mind that the Journal is also populated by many of the same screamers on TV.
The big weekend story was that Apple could be hurt because most of its products are assembled in China.
As an iPhone user (in fact, I use just about every Apple product except the Mac) my humble suggestion to Apple CEO Tim Cook would be build your products in, say, Viet Nam or, here’s a real idea: how about Minnesota, down the street from where Mike Lindell makes My Pillows? No matter how much you say the words multi-national, living in Cupertino has to be nicer and more efficient than Beijing.
At some point you have to realize that the word “nationalism” is not a four letter word.
Steve Jobs and Bill Gates started their companies because you can do that in the United States. They expanded to markets like China in a search for new markets.
And, let me tell you a little about our “friends” in China. They owe me and millions of other Americans millions of dollars in defaulted bonds which their government doesn’t want to pay. Those bonds were issued before China became Red China and many of us either bought them or inherited them. (You can read about that at the American Bondholders Foundationhttp://www.americanbondholdersfoundation.com) They were sold by Wall Street firms who today are still selling Chinese debt.
So, I’m not very sympathetic to the words “trade war” because I doubt that the Chinese have the economic muscle to cause us much pain—not nearly as much as the folks on business TV would like us to believe.
Simply put, President Trump is right and these guys are wrong. After all, God, it is said, invented Economists to make Astrologers look good.
And if it costs us $800 a year per family—or even significantly more—to make that point to the leaders of Red China, buy less cheap Chinese crap and more stuff made in America. It will strengthen our hand and, in the long term, make our lives better.
Trump advisor Larry Kudlow explained the issues very succinctly to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. “Intellectual property theft has to be fixed. Forced technology transfer and ownership of American companies has to be fixed. Cyber interventions have to be fixed. Tariff and nontariff barriers have to be fixed. And there have to be very, very strong enforcement provisions.”
To say that none of this is worth taking strong steps like tariffs is exactly like the Democrat House saying that there’s no crisis on the border.
This President fixes things. The Chinese aren’t used to dealing with a President who fixes things.
They will learn soon enough.
In the meantime, while they are dancing, pay attention to Kudlow’s observation about that, “Some of the Chinese officials have said the agreement was too unbalanced. No. The relationship has been too unbalanced and because of these problems of unfair and sometimes unlawful trading practice, we have to have a very strong agreement to correct, to right, these wrongs before we would be satisfied.”
Thirteen people were killed and two are still missing (and presumed dead) after an irate female passenger attacked a bus driver. The driver hit back but lost control of the bus. It veered into oncoming traffic, smashed another car and plunged off a bridge into the Yangtze River in China.
Police released dash cam footage from another car that caught the moment the bus went off the bridge, as well as footage from inside the bus right before the crash. The video is as crazy as it is sad.
Witness that got off the bus before the crash, told investigators that the woman was angry because she had missed her stop. The bus driver advised her to get off at another stop and walk back. She refused. A fight ensued which led to the crash.
The video is intense. I mean, this is (probably) an accident. A negligent accident to be sure, but probably an accident. But if you watch that video it really, really looks like the driver just turns the wheel to the left and takes the bus off the bridge. Most likely, he was distracted by the woman slapping him in the face with her cell phone, but still, I can’t stop noticing the driver actively cranking the wheel to the left. And then, he doesn’t appear to be shocked when the bus goes off the bridge.
The woman, identified by her surname of Liu and the driver with his surname of Ran were both thought to be alive at first and authorities said they would prosecute both of them for endangering the lives of the passengers. Now, we know that everyone on board died including the irate passenger and the driver.
As a really odd aside, the crash brought out a wave of sexist comments. Notice if you will, the red car that gets hit by the bus as it swerves. Well, that specific red car was driven by a woman. And police and media received a large amount of complaints that the woman driving the red car - caused the accident. And therefore all women drivers should be banned.
Anyway. The woman driving the red car suffered from minor injuries, was taken to the hospital and released. The police, obviously, do not think she did anything wrong.
Chinese police didn’t really comment on the sexist attacks on the innocent driver but released the following statement about the crash: “Fifteen fresh lives have vanished and the lessons are extremely painful. May the dead rest in peace and the living be warned.”
The crash in China made me a little depressed and so I searched the web for good stories about buses drivers. And I found one. Over in France, a bus driver pulled up to a stop where a man in a wheelchair was waiting. The man in the wheelchair has been identified as Francois Le Berre, who has multiple sclerosis.
Anyway, the bus pulls over and the driver turns to the other passengers and asks them to make room so he can get Francois on the bus. But every single passenger on the bus refused to make room for the man in the wheelchair. So the bus driver stood up and told everyone to get the F off his bus. A few folks grumbled about it but they complied and got off the bus. Then the driver said to Francois, “You and your helper can get on the bus. Everyone else can wait for the next one.”
And that’s what happened. The French driver is universally being praised on social media. And I have to agree. Well done.
If you think the American economy is booming now, just think what it would be like if American collegians had an extra $1.5 billion to spend—especially with President Donald Trump’s tariffs set to raise the prices of imported consumer goods despite he and his administration saying the tariffs won’t result in price hikes.
Well, if prices aren’t increasing, tariffs aren’t working. The point of a tariff is to make locally produced products more attractive to local consumers by raising the price of imported alternatives. This, in theory, would result in more local production and fewer imports. But a tariff is paid by the importer of a product, not the exporter. So the 25-percent tariff Trump recently leveled on Chinese imports is transferred to the American consumers of those goods, not the Chinese producers.
The trade war isn’t taking money out of the pockets of Chinese manufacturers; it’s taking money out of the pockets of American consumers of Chinese products and Chinese consumers of American products. And since the United States runs a $375 billion trade deficit with China, the only way Trump can “win” his trade war is if Chinese economists can’t do the math to match Trump’s tariffs dollar-for-dollar. It’s even becoming more likely trade with China ends altogether. China has already cancelled planned trade talks with Trump.
It is impossible for America to run a trade surplus with China because China produces more products Americans consider essential than America produces for the Chinese, including car, computer and mobile phone components. It’s lower labor costs and Americans’ addiction to consumption allow China to perpetually have the upper hand in a trade war. If an iPhone were made entirely in America, it would cost as much as a brand new car, so while Trump might be making some American-made products more attractive to American consumers, he’s doing so at the expense of American consumers who can’t do without many of the Chinese imports found in their technology and automobiles. Even the Tesla Model 3 can only be 95-percent American-made at most.
Since Americans will be paying more for computers, mobile devices and cars, it’s not entirely unreasonable to forgive the $1.5 billion in student loan debt and allow those accepted into college two years of college education free of charge. Students and parents are going to pay more for the devices required to attend college, and colleges are going to pay more for them as well, which will be reflected in tuition costs, which will further increase student loan debt while decreasing consumers’ available income for spending in the American economy, potentially sinking the stock market.
There are other reasons besides boosting the economy for the government to payoff student loan debt. First, today’s Associate’s degree, usually obtained in two years at a community college, is the equivalent of a 1980s high school diploma. Advances in technology have made working in what is now a global economy much more complicated and necessitates further education be obtained. Students are not leaving high school with the education necessary to provide for themselves let alone a family, and it’s not their fault.
Secondly, with 17 states offering tuition-free college programs, the trend seems to be students at least delaying the accumulation of student loan debt for two years, potentially lowering accrued interest as well as principal loan balances. In short, future college students in the United States will be saddled with considerably less student loan debt than current and past college students. Meanwhile, entire generations (and student loan debt does span generations), are suffering student loan debt and unable to stimulate the American economy by spending money on anything but debt and living expenses.
Finally, the collective credit rating of American college students, past, present and future, would receive a boost that could spur entrepreneurial growth and investment in businesses as a whole. America was the land of opportunity, where you could go from “rags to riches” with enough hard work. America used to be the best place to start a small business and be your own boss. That isn’t the case these days because despite incomes increasing for middle-class Americans, their purchasing power has barely budged since 1965. You can’t grow an economy in which most consumers have hardly more purchasing power than their grandparents did over 50 years ago, and consumer confidence in the stock market can’t increase if consumers have no means to express their confidence by purchasing stocks.
Lifting the $1.5 billion in student loan debt owed by 44.2 million American borrowers would allow 44.2 million Americans to spend their student loan payment, averaging $351 per month, stimulating the American economy instead of simply paying off interest. Lenders can’t be the only ones making money if the American economy is going to grow.
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On Monday, June 23rd - the Wild Boar youth soccer team and their coach left their bikes chained at the entrance to the Tham Luang Nang Non in northern Thailand and ventured forth in what they expected to be a two(ish) hour adventure. But the cave flash flooded and the 12 young players and their coach vanished.
Nine days later rescuers from Thailand, China and Australia found them. Other than minor scrapes, miraculously, all 13 of them were safe. Here is the first video of rescuers reaching the boys. The boys didn’t have any food and were in complete darkness but stayed alive by drinking pooled rainwater.
Finding them was step one but rescuing them, it appears, is going to be a daunting task. The boys are estimated to be trapped about 2 kilometer into the cave and approx. 1 kilometer underground. Rescuers are trying to figure out the best way to get them through a labyrinthine series of flooded caves linked together by narrow passageways with zero visibility for most of the swim.
Thai Navy seals have even drained 120 million liters of water out of the caves in order to keep the water levels down to help the rescue. It appears as if rescuers have no great option in how to get the boys out. Some believe that the boys should be trained in underwater cave swimming, which is no easy feat. CNN spoke with Anmar Mirza, of the US National Cave Rescue Commission recently in this interview. From the interview:
"Cave diving is incredibly dangerous for people who are very experienced doing it. And now you're looking at taking people who have no experience or very little experience with diving, and putting them into a complete blackout situation, where they have to rely on a regulator and the tanks with them to breathe.”
Some believe that the boys should continue to be supplied until the rain season is over and the water levels drop and then rescued - something that could take four months.
For now Thai Navy SEALS, a doctor and a nurse are down with the boys. A communication director from the Navy told reporters:
"We have now given food to the boys, starting with the food which is easy to digest and provide high energy. Minerals are also provided. We have taken care of those boys following the doctor's recommendations, so do not worry. We will take care of them the best we can. We will bring all of them to safety. We are now planning how to do so.”
And just today, July 6th, the rescue operation has claimed it's first life, Saman Gunan, a former Thai navy diver tragically died while delivering air tanks down to the boys. This further illustrates how difficult it will be to get untrained divers, all kids mind you, out of the caves. And with monsoon season approaching, rescue workers don't really know how much time they have before the entire caves flood. A 3 mile oxygen line is now being rushed in along with power and phone cables.
Great news! On July 10th it has been reported via multiple sources that all 12 of the boys and their coach has been rescued. Fearing that the monsoon season would flood the rest of the caves rescuers had no choice but to move forward with a rescue operation. It took thousands of people rescuers more than a week to get them out safely. Here is the first video of the boys' rescue.
All of the boys and their coach have lost weight but are in pretty good shape. One of them has a lung infection but it sounds as if treatment is working well for him. The boys will be in quarantine for about 30 days to protect them from other people. Their immune systems have been weakened and doctors are taking no chances. It sounds as if they are all on the road to a full physical recovery.
UPDATED: July 11th.
UPDATED: July 10th.
UPDATED: July 6th 10:00 am.
In late Sept. 2017, North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un called the United States President a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard" in response to insults hurled by Donald Trump during his first speech to the United Nations. Trump called the North Korean dictator a “madman” on a “suicide mission” and that the U.S. would “totally destroy” North Korea if it or its allies were attacked.
The dick measuring continued, with Trump basically saying “mine’s bigger than yours” in a tweet on Jan. 2. He was referring to the size and power of his nuclear launch button after Kim bragged that the United States was within range of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and he had a nuclear launch button on his desk. Eight days later, the White House released a statement announcing the Trump Administration might be open to holding talks with North Korea. It was an obvious attempt to reign in the war rhetoric so everyone could enjoy the Winter Olympics in Seoul, South Korea without worrying about a nuclear attack, but it was more than welcome given the threats of nuclear war made by both bullies with no regard for anyone else on this playground called Earth.
Trump’s official White House statement was hardly responsible for Kim and Trump planning to meet within a month. The statement put much of the worried world at ease despite Trump committing to nothing at all. Considering U.S./North Korea relations consisted of name calling and threatening nuclear war seven months ago and dick measuring four months ago, “might be open to holding talks” sounds really good to a lot of frightened people. So good, in fact, Trump supporters in Michigan chanted for him to win the Nobel Peace Prize. But Trump isn’t even the second-most important player in this nuclear football game. Back in Sept. 2017, when these two “leaders” started threatening each other’s nations with nuclear war, I wrote that Trump’s hands were too small to handle North Korea alone. I was right.
The hands that could handle Kim, China and the U.S. belong to South Korean President Moon Jae In. Moon threatened Kim, too, but unlike Trump, he didn't tweet or speak a single word. His actions spoke volumes.
In July 2017, North Korea tested a missile that could theoretically reach the U.S. mainland. Moon responded with his own missile test, sending a message that South Korea could take out Kim if attacked. He also ordered the full deployment of the missile-defense system despite China’s concerns. Moon had to convince Chinese President Xi Jinping not to take economic retaliations in response to the deployment of the missile-defense system. Xi acquiesced, and Moon earned the trust of both Trump and Xi in the process.
Moon then went to work playing good cop prior to the Winter Olympics. When Kim announced North Korea’s interest in attending the Winter Olympics in Seoul, Moon agreed to host them despite South Koreans taking issue. Trump and his defense team contemplated a “bloody nose” strike of Pyongyang to punish Kim prior to the Olympics to make him more eager to negotiate peace and denuclearization. But Moon talked them out of it, assuring the U.S. that Kim would not receive any concessions.
The real reason Kim sought Korean peace and is ready to talk denuclearization is because he can’t import the materials he needs to grow his nuclear arsenal, and his people are growing more and more desperate by the day due to economic sanctions limiting their access to things they need to survive.
South Korean researchers expected United Nations’ sanctions to start giving North Korea “severe economic difficulties” come March. The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved sanctions banning the import of all natural gas liquids and condensates and capped imports of crude oil. For a nation already struggling to keep the lights on in its capital, losing access to more energy sources limits the exports North Korea can produce and transport, too.
China is responsible for 85 percent of North Korea’s imports but has been limiting its exports of crude oil, refined oil products, steel and other metals to the nation since Jan. 6, as the U.N. mandated. Russia, responsible for 2.3 percent of North Korea’s imports, is also adhering to the U.N. sanctions. Putin has to expel roughly 30,000 North Korean migrant workers along with limiting oil and oil products exports and banning textile exports. Both nations have been accused of subverting the sanctions, with Russia allegedly serving as a middle man moving North Korean coal. Allegations against both nations have not yet been substantiated, but North Korea has long subverted sanctions by trading goods at sea rather than on land. Those maritime trades are being stopped more often, though.
Kim knows his people will eventually be desperate enough to revolt and overthrow him, and he certainly doesn’t want to be the last of the Kim regime, nor does he want the nation to fail. Neither do his neighbors. No one knows what would result from a failed North Korea, but both China and Russia fear a unification with South Korea would lead to American military bases along their shared borders with North Korea. That’s a pretty reasonable assumption and something Trump will no doubt demand when he visits North Korea within the month. Regardless of what comes of the denuclearization talks between Trump and Kim, Moon has proven to be most presidential and most deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize if Korean peace is indeed realized after 68 years at war.
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