Donald ‘FAKE NEWS’ Trump Blasted By Hamilton Mayor Over His NAFTA Tweets

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBC NEWS)

 

Hamilton’s mayor fires back at Trump over NAFTA tweets

CBC News Posted: Aug 27, 2017 2:35 PM ET Last Updated: Aug 27, 2017 2:37 PM ET

U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, on Aug, 22.

U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, on Aug, 22. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger took to Twitter Sunday to call out U.S. President Donald Trump’s tweet saying he may have to terminate NAFTA after both Canada and Mexico were “being very difficult.”

We are in the NAFTA (worst trade deal ever made) renegotiation process with Mexico & Canada.Both being very difficult,may have to terminate?

The only thing that needs to be terminated is your presidency. Save yourself and your country. Resign and you will be popular everywhere. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/901804388649500672 

“The only thing that needs to be terminated is your presidency,” Eisenberger wrote. “Save yourself and your country. Resign and you will be popular everywhere.”

During a campaign rally on Tuesday, in Phoenix, Ariz., Trump said he didn’t think the U.S. could make a deal, and would end up “probably terminating NAFTA at some point, probably.”

The U.S. negotiator who worked on the original North American Free Trade Agreement says that despite Trump’s suggestions, he will not likely terminate the deal anytime soon.

Fre Eisenberger

Mayor Fred Eisenberger took issue with one of U.S. President Donald Trump’s tweets today. (Adam Carter/CBC)

Ambassador Carla Hills was George H.W. Bush’s trade representative presiding over the initial talks in the early 90’s. She told CBC News Network’s Power & Politics she has been assured by people close to Trump that his threat was actually referring to a mechanism that could be enacted five years from now, after an assessment had been made into whether all three parties had met their commitments.

“Let’s hope that’s what he intended,” she told host Rosemary Barton. “It’s a better interpretation than an ending of the agreement when our economies are so closely linked and we have so many jobs that are dependent.”

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens similarly responded to trump on Twitter, saying, “35 of 50 States call Canada their # 1 customer. I look forward to hearing the position of elected officials from those states.”

If You Buy Walmart You Are Feeding China’s Communist Leadership And Their Army

 

According to Global Research.Org 95% of the non food products that are on sale in your local Wal-Mart store are made in China. I knew that almost all of the products that I looked at to buy had made in China tags on them, yet I didn’t realize that it was quite that high of a percent. Wal-Mart has apx 11% of all of America’s GDP go through their hands each year. Folks, that is one out of every nine dollars and that in itself is a dangerous thing for any nations economy. I learned many years ago back when old man Walton was still alive when they used to advertise that they only bought made in America products to help American manufacturing jobs stay here in America that this slogan was a blatant fraud and a lie. I was a long haul truck driver for a span of over 30 years and I picked up Wal-Mart loads quite a few times at the shipping docks in Elizabeth New Jersey and at the port in Miami Florida. It was not at all uncommon that when I would get backed up to the dock that the load would be staged there waiting to be put onto the trailer yet I would often have to sit there for at least two more hours so the dock workers could take off all of the tags saying where it was actually made at and to put on made in the USA tags. Wal-Mart itself grew from lying to the American people so to be honest with you when I have seen tags on items in one of their stores that said ‘made in the USA’ I can’t help but doubt that this is also another lie.

 

A couple of years ago Wal-Mart bought three ships ‘made in China’ for the sole purpose of shipping products to the western ports of the U.S.. These three ships was said to cost about 500 million dollars each. These ships are so large that they can not fit through either the Suez or Panama Canals. They are designed for one purpose, to bring cheap Chinese garbage to the American market. In reality if people here in the States want to bring jobs back to America all they have to do is to quit doing any of their shopping at Wal-Mart or Lowe’s (they own 100% of Lowe’s). Wal-Mart nor China are friends to or of the American people. Only two things really matters to these two entities and that is power and money. If the American Federal Government gave a damn about the American people they would never ever allow any company to have such a huge amount of their GDP in the hands of one company. If the Federal Government gave a damn about American jobs they would pass a bill requiring at least 80% of every company’s American sales to be from products made in America, this is how you could keep jobs for the American people. Yet it is obvious to most of the American people that the Politicians only listen to the big money people who grease their personal sleds. Donald Trump and his family and their businesses are a good example of this farce. Only money matters, you and I do not matter.

 

If you are a person that pays any attention to world affairs you already should know that the Communist Leadership behind their ‘President for life’ Xi Jinping have been very active in building up their military throughout Asia, even building islands upon coral formations and constructing military air fields upon them. They pretty much claim all of the South China Sea, all of the mineral deposits below it and the Air Ways above it to be their own. They claim Taiwan as their own property as well as Mongolia, Tibet, Islands that belong to Japan and they are pushing hard against India by claiming that thousands of square miles of northern India actually belong to them. China has been building up its military machine at an unrepresented level during this past five years under President Xi Jinping (whom President Trump calls his good friend). So folks, this is the reason I chose the title that I did for this article this evening. To me, it is very obvious that money and power matters far more to Wal-Mart owners and stock holders and to the Chinese government as well as Americas Federal Politicians than the sovereignty and the safety of the American people matter. The only way that I can see that ‘we the people’ can fight back and to regain our jobs is to totally quit shopping at companies like Wal-Mart. One could also easily say that our national security depends on it.

Kentucky: Unions Sue Governor Blevins Over His Un-Constitutional ‘right to work law’)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE RICHMOND REGISTER OF KENTUCKY)

Labor groups sue over right-to-work law

FRANKFORT — Labor groups filed suit in Franklin Circuit Court on Thursday claiming the recently passed Kentucky right-to-work law violates the state constitution’s prohibition on illegal takings and unequal treatment.

The Kentucky AFL-CIO and Teamsters Local 89 are asking the law be thrown out and seek an injunction prohibiting its enforcement, claiming it discriminates against unions while not prohibiting forced dues collections by other volunteer member organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and the Kentucky Bar Association.

The suit alleges that the law violates the constitutional bar on “illegal takings without just compensation” because it robs unions and their members of unreimbursed expenses for negotiating wage and benefits for workers who choose not to pay union dues or join the union.

After Republicans captured control of the state House of Representatives last year, giving the GOP control of the governor’s office and both legislative chambers, the General Assembly quickly passed right-to-work legislation in the first week of the 2017 General Assembly. The law prohibits unions from requiring workers at union work places to pay dues in support of collective bargaining expenses.

Republican Matt Bevin urged its passage and credits the legislation for subsequent announcements by Braidy Industries to construct an aluminum mill near Ashland and Amazon to expand operations in northern Kentucky.

“It’s shameful that groups like the AFL-CIO and Teamsters are playing political games at a time when Kentucky is experiencing unprecedented economic development growth,” said Amanda Stamper, Bevin’s spokeswoman.

“This frivolous lawsuit threatens to hurt Kentucky’s families, robbing them of high-paying job opportunities — a good example of which are the 550 jobs coming to northeastern Kentucky as a result of the new right-to-work law,” she said.

House Speaker Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, who sponsored the legislation, said he’s confident it will stand up in court.

“Not only am I confident the Kentucky Right-to-Work Act is constitutional, but we are also seeing results we predicted when the bill was passed.”

But AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan called claims that right-to-work laws improve a state’s overall economy a “total falsehood” aimed at attracting low-wage industries and dividing workers.

“In other states where right-to-work laws have been implemented,” Londrigan said, “wage rates have gone down. We found that across the United States when we compare right-to-work states to non-right-to-work states, there is a significant amount of wages that workers make, ranging from $1,500 to $5,000 a year less a year in right to work states.”

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said the law is constitutional and pointed to a recent federal district court that dismissed a suit challenging Wisconsin’s right-to-work law.

But Irwin Cutler Jr., one of the attorneys for the AFL-CIO and Teamsters, said that’s only half the story.

That suit challenged the Wisconsin law under provisions of the federal constitution. But a second suit that challenges the law under the Wisconsin constitution won a favorable lower court decision. So did a similar suit in West Virginia. All three suits are under appeal.

Cutler and William Johnson, another attorney representing the union groups, said they are challenging the law under Kentucky’s constitution because it has stronger “illegal takings” and equal treatment provisions than the U.S. Constitution.

“In each state, you have to look at how the law that was passed comports with the constitution of that state and we think that is a strong point in our suit,” Johnson said.

Cutler said federal law requires unions to represent all workers at a worksite with a collective bargaining unit, even if they can’t collect dues from some workers.

“Under this law, unions still have the obligation to represent every worker in the plant, and yet the only ones who pay for that service are the ones who decide they want to,” Cutler said. “That constitutes, under the Kentucky Constitution, an unlawful taking of the services, the property, of the labor union and its members.”

The suit also contends the right-to-work law is discriminatory because it applies only to unions but not to other groups which require membership dues. (In fact, the law specifically exempts several membership organizations, including chambers of commerce and the Kentucky Education Association.)

Cutler said Kentucky law actually requires Chambers of Commerce to collect dues to pay for their services — “yet unions are required to pay for their services and are prohibited from charging dues unless someone voluntarily wants to pay for that service.”

Chapter 102.020 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes authorizes chambers of commerce and specifies articles of incorporation. It says in part: “The annual dues of the members of this corporation shall be not less than twelve dollars ($12), payable as provided in the bylaws of the corporation.”

Ashli Watts, Vice President of Public Affairs for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, didn’t dispute the language of that statute but said it is open to interpretation. She said the state chamber supports right-to-work.

“As the last southern state to pass right to work, Kentucky is already benefiting from this law that’s only been in effect 5 months. The point to be made is that membership in the Kentucky Chamber, and other chambers of commerce, is voluntary,” Watts said. “We are confident that the law will be upheld, like it has been in other states.”

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Follow him on Twitter @cnhifrankfort.

The Vatican’s Swiss Guard Just Added 40 New Members

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Pope Francis Delivers First 'Urbi Et Orbi' Blessing During Easter Mass In St. Peter's Square
Swiss guards perform ceremonial duties during Holy Easter Mass held by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s square on March 31, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Franco Origlia—Getty Images

The Vatican’s Swiss Guard Just Added 40 New Members

2:55 PM ET

(VATICAN CITY) — The world’s oldest standing army has 40 new members after a Vatican Swiss Guard swearing-in ceremony.

Each man took a loyalty oath Saturday evening in a ritual-rich ceremony in the St. Damaso courtyard of the Apostolic Palace. The May 6 date commemorates the day in 1527 when 147 guardsmen died while protecting Pope Clement VII during the Sack of Rome.

Earlier Saturday, Pope Francis told the Guards they’re called to “another sacrifice no less arduous” — serving the power of faith.

The recruits, who enroll for at least two years, must be single, upstanding Swiss Catholic males younger than 30.

Wearing blue-and-gold uniforms and holding halberds — spear-like weapons — they are a tourist delight while standing guard at Vatican ceremonies. Their main duty is to protect the pope.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Role-Making

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Opinion

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Role-Making

When the Saudi King receives the Egyptian president, the Arab role in the region will prevail over talks between the two leaders. This goes without saying, as Saudi Arabia and Egypt constitute the pillars of any effective Arab role. Any strategic gathering between the two countries would be regarded as a dynamic drive for common Arab work. Such joint collaboration is very much similar to the German-French joint cooperation in Europe, despite the different circumstances and characteristics. The relationship between Berlin and Paris does not require total conformity but is based on a common vision of basic challenges in the fields of security, politics, and economy.

The list of challenges on the Saudi-Egyptian negotiations table is clearly known: terrorism, represented by the forces of darkness, mainly ISIS; instability, which was caused by the big uprising launched by Iran’s revolution policies, apart from a president smiling and another flexing his muscles, and the deadlock resulting from Israel’s continuous settlements.

Other factors, which have belittled the Arab role in the region, cannot be ignored, such as fruitless policies that have fueled poverty, desperation, failure and backsliding.

The two leaders had to take into consideration a significant and decisive development when assessing challenges ahead. Before reaching its 100-day threshold, Donald Trump’s Administration has introduced a major change in the United States’ international image and rhetoric. It succeeded in restoring its prestige after it regained the ability to make decisions and placed the tremendous US force at the disposal of diplomacy to stop those who distort the balance of powers and violate borders and the requirements of world peace and security.

Statements made by the members of the new Administration have shown that the current US perception of the big chaos in the Middle East is completely different from that of Barack Obama’s Administration, in particular with regards to the Iranian upheaval in the region.

On the other hand, visits conducted by Saudi and Egyptian officials to Washington have reflected the two countries’ belief that Trump is the “president who will put the United States back on the right track”. The US president has also reestablished all alliances between the US and its traditional allies, as stated by Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his interview with The Washington Post.

We are witnessing, therefore, a US Administration, which blames Iran for destabilizing the region and does not hide its intention to work closely with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other Arab moderate countries to fight terrorism and suppress regional fires. It is clear that Trump’s Administration has listened with interest to the opinion of its Arab visitors on Syria, Yemen, settlements and other issues.

There is no doubt that the Middle East is currently an arena for raging conflicts, which will shape the region for many decades. Those wishing to sit around the negotiations table must prepare their working papers. Roles are built and made. They require continuous maintenance in light of internal and world developments.

A country’s demographic and military weight does no longer define its role. In the new world, roles have new prerequisites: the well-being of national economy, growth development, social cohesion, and youth engagement in shaping the future. Other prerequisites include institutions that are managed with integrity, competence and accountability.

One can say that Saudi Arabia is getting ready for the central role projected to it. Over the past two years, it has become obvious that the Kingdom has set a vision for what it wants to become in the future, in particular with regards to its economy, in light of changes in the world’s economies. It has proven that it can establish relationships on the basis of mutual interests and partnerships. The Kingdom has a program aimed at engaging the youth in the march towards growth and community-based rehabilitation to face new challenges. Royal decrees issued on the eve of the summit were very evident in this regard.

Egypt, for its part, is trying to get ready for the coming phase. Its war against terrorism, which targets its stability, unity, and role, did not lead it to neglect the difficult economic situation. The country is taking painful measures to reduce poverty and unemployment rates and revive its economy. Egypt’s economic battle is not separate from the fight against ideologies threatening its cities. Soldiers are needed to combat terrorism, growth is necessary to ease desperation, universities are indispensable to engage students in the wave of successive technological revolutions, and institutions are required to guarantee the rule of law and the protection of all citizens without any form of discrimination.

Role-making begins with education, openness to the world, planning and monitored execution.

Arab countries will not regain their natural presence in the region unless they take back their active role. They cannot take back that role unless they decide to move out of the long-standing stalemate and overcome regrets and melancholy. Roles are made with effort and knowledge. Future is built with numbers, not with illusions. Establishing Saudi Arabia and Egypt’s roles on solid and modern bases and forging firm cooperation mechanisms represent the means to restore balance in the region and shrink the power of non-Arab states to its normal size.

Ghassan Charbel

Ghassan Charbel

Ghassan Charbel is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

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So Far Trump And Obama Don’t Act Much Different When It Comes To Iran

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

New York (CNN) As a candidate, President Donald Trump pulled no punches in his criticism of the Obama administration’s multilateral pact with Tehran to curb the Iranian nuclear program. The deal stank, he said then.

Now his secretary of state is, for the time being, certifying it.
“I’ve been doing deals for a long time, I’ve been making lots of wonderful deals — great deals — that’s what I do. Never, ever, ever in my life have I seen any transaction so incompetently negotiated as our deal with Iran. And I mean, never.”
It was September 9, 2015, a few months into his presidential campaign, and Trump was in Washington, where he was addressing a rally against the Obama administration’s historic nuclear pact with Tehran. Trump by then had established himself as a Republican primary player. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz welcomed his rival to the event, reasoning that where Trump went, the cameras followed.

Trump: "I've been doing deals for a long time"

Trump: “I’ve been doing deals for a long time” 05:06
That much has remained the same. But when it comes to the Iran deal, Trump has, for the moment, changed. Blaring skepticism has given way to (yet another) pragmatic adjustment. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday delivered a letter to Congress confirming that Iran has kept up its end of the controversial bargain.
The letter pads what will be an unpopular conclusion among GOP hawks with word that Trump has ordered a review of plans to lift sanctions in accordance with the deal, citing the Iranian government’s ties to assorted terror groups. To follow through on the implicit threat would, ironically, put the US in defiance of the terms of the agreement.

Explore Trump’s progress on key campaign promises

Which is to say, it’s not happening. At least not yet. By fate or fancy, the Trump administration has effectively taken on the foreign policy of its predecessor. The missile attack on Syria — a one-off tactical jab — was initially celebrated (or denounced) as a departure from Obama’s caution, but the reality is that American strategic positions in multiple foreign theaters remain essentially indistinguishable from a year ago.
Democrats will, of course, use this as another example of Trump betraying his campaign promises. That’s fair enough. Candidates make outlandish claims at their own political peril. But the reality here is that reality, more than any president, rules. Who saw it coming? Former Associated Press correspondent Terry Anderson, kidnapped by Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, in 1985 and held for nearly seven years, offered a pretty good preview.
“The Iranians aren’t at Trump’s beck and call, and they won’t be if he’s elected president,” Anderson told The New Yorker after the 2015 speech. “It’s so idiotic that I don’t know how to address it. One of the first things a president learns when he comes into office is that he can’t simply order things and make them happen — in our government, let alone anyone else’s.”
If he hasn’t yet learned that, then Trump has surely experienced it. Though largely true to his campaign pledges as a matter of effort, he has been repeatedly turned back by the same forces he vowed to tame. Obamacare remains, thanks to in the intransigence of his own party. NATO? “Obsolete” no more. Tax reform? That could be the most difficult feat of all.
President Trump’s reversals
before becoming president
after becoming president

NATO
March 27, 2016
“I think NATO’s obsolete. NATO was done at a time you had the Soviet Union, which was obviously larger, much larger than Russia is today. I’m not saying Russia’s not a threat. But we have other threats.”
April 12, 2017
“I complained about that a long time ago, and they made a change. Now they do fight terrorism. I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete.”

China
June 28, 2016
“I’m going to instruct my treasury secretary to label China a currency manipulator.”

Attacking the Syrian government
August 29, 2013
Tweet: “What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval.”
April 6, 2017
“Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched…” Trump did not ask for nor receive congressional approval to launch his attack.

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen
September 12, 2016
“She’s keeping (rates) artificially low to get Obama retired … I think she is very political and to a certain extent, I think she should be ashamed of herself because it is not supposed to be that way.”
April 12, 2017
I like her, I respect her … It’s very early.”

Executive orders
July 10, 2012
Tweet: “Why is @BarackObama constantly issuing executive orders that are major power grabs of authority?”
March 31, 2017
Trump has issued 23 executive orders, including his controversial travel ban, since taking office on January 20.

The unemployment rate
March 12, 2016
The numbers are phony. These are all phony numbers. Numbers given to politicians to look good. These are phony numbers.”
March 10, 2017
White House press secretary Sean Spicer: “I talked to the President prior to this and he said to quote him very clearly: ‘They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now.’ “

Presidential golf
October 13, 2014
Tweet: “Can you believe that,with all of the problems and difficulties facing the U.S., President Obama spent the day playing golf.Worse than Carter”
February 11, 2017
Trump has visited his golf courses 16 times since taking office. In early February he tweeted: “Played golf today with Prime Minister Abe of Japan and @TheBig_Easy, Ernie Els, and had a great time. Japan is very well represented!”

The Export-Import Bank
August 4, 2015
“I don’t like it because I don’t think it’s necessary … It’s sort of a featherbedding for politicians and others, and a few companies. And these are companies that can do very well without it. So I don’t like it. I think it’s a lot of excess baggage. I think it’s unnecessary. And when you think about free enterprise it’s really not free enterprise. I’d be against it.”
April 12, 2017
“It turns out that, first of all, lots of small companies are really helped, the vendor companies. But also, maybe more important, other countries give [assistance]. When other countries give it we lose a tremendous amount of business.”

Federal hiring freeze
October 23, 2016
“On the first day of my term of office, my administration will immediately pursue … a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce the federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health).”
April 12, 2017
Trump signed a presidential memorandum freezing federal hiring days after taking office. Then, on his 82nd day in office, budget director Mick Mulvaney announced this: “What we are doing tomorrow is replacing the across-the-board hiring freeze that we put into place on day one in office and replacing it with a smarter plan, a more strategic plan, a more surgical plan.”
Even China, an ever-present campaign trail piñata, has been spared in deference to existential concerns on the Korean Peninsula. “They’re not currency manipulators,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal a week ago, after more than a year of guarantees that he would order his treasury secretary to label the country a currency manipulator.
His explanation was simple. Pyongyang and its nukes were the priority.
“What, am I going to start trade war with China in the middle of (Chinese President Xi Jinping) working on a bigger problem with North Korea?” Trump said during an interview with Fox News. “I’m dealing with China with great respect. I have great respect for him. We’ll see what he can do. Maybe he won’t be able to help. That’s possible. I think he is trying. Maybe he won’t be able to help. That’s a whole different story.”
And so it goes for the Iran deal. Is Trump going to begin unraveling the dense, multinational accord in the middle of a ramped-up war on ISIS and escalating tensions with Syria (plus Russia and Iran by proxy)?
Not yet. His tactical unpredictability, for now, only stretches so far. Through nearly 100 days in office, Trump’s foreign policy has a familiar ring.

World leaders for Silk Road talks

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

World leaders for Silk Road talks

The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation will be held from May 14 to 15 in Beijing and President Xi Jinping will attend the opening ceremony and host the round table summit of the leaders, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said yesterday.

Xi has championed the “One Belt, One Road” initiative to build a new Silk Road linking Asia, Africa and Europe, a landmark program to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure projects.

China has dedicated US$40 billion to a Silk Road Fund and the idea was the driving force behind the establishment of the US$50 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Among those attending will be Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Indonesian President Joko Widodo will also be attending the forum.

British finance minister Philip Hammond will come as Prime Minister Theresa May’s representative, while Germany and France will send high-level representatives.

Wang confirmed Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte as one of the leaders coming, along with the Spanish, Greek, Hungarian, Serb and Polish prime ministers and Swiss and Czech presidents.

“This is an economic cooperation forum, an international cooperation platform that everyone is paying attention to, supports and hopes to participate in,” Wang said.

“One Belt, One Road is to date the most important public good China has given to the world, first proposed by China but for all countries to enjoy,” said.

“The culture and historical genes of One Belt, One Road come from the old Silk Road, so it takes Eurasia as its main region,” he said, adding that representatives of 110 countries would attend the forum.

A section of the New Silk Road is in Pakistan, where some projects run through the disputed Kashmir region.

Wang dismissed concerns, saying the Pakistan project had no direct connection to the dispute and India was welcome to participate in the New Silk Road.

“Indian friends have said to us that One Belt, One Road is a very good suggestion,” he said.

During the forum, China is expected to sign cooperative documents with nearly 20 countries and more than 20 international organizations, Wang told reporters.

China will work with countries along the route on action plans concerning infrastructure, energy and resources, production capacity, trade and investment, which will help to turn the grand blueprint into a clear roadmap, he said.

Another task of the forum will be to push forward delivery of cooperative projects, Wang said.

During the forum, parties will identify major cooperative projects, set up working groups and establish an investment cooperation center.

China will also work with all parties on a set of measures that will include improved financial cooperation, a cooperation platform for science, technology and environmental protection, and enhanced exchanges and training of talent.

Participants will sign financing agreements to support their cooperative projects, Wang said.

China will use the forum to build a more open and efficient international cooperation platform; a closer, stronger partnership network; and to push for a more just, reasonable and balanced international governance system, Wang said.

What in the World Is Causing the Retail Meltdown of 2017?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE ATLANTIC’)

What in the World Is Causing the Retail Meltdown of 2017?

In the middle of an economic recovery, hundreds of shops and malls are shuttering. The reasons why go far beyond Amazon.

A retail store with signs advertising a pre-closing clearance sale
Mark Blinch / Reuters
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From rural strip-malls to Manhattan’s avenues, it has been a disastrous two years for retail.

There have been nine retail bankruptcies in 2017—as many as all of 2016. J.C. Penney, RadioShack, Macy’s, and Sears have each announced more than 100 store closures. Sports Authority has liquidated, and Payless has filed for bankruptcy. Last week, several apparel companies’ stocks hit new multi-year lows, including Lululemon, Urban Outfitters, and American Eagle, and Ralph Lauren announced that it is closing its flagship Polo store on Fifth Avenue, one of several brands to abandon that iconic thoroughfare.

A deep recession might explain an extinction-level event for large retailers. But GDP has been growing for eight straight years, gas prices are low, unemployment is under 5 percent, and the last 18 months have been quietly excellent years for wage growth, particularly for middle- and lower-income Americans.

So, what the heck is going on? The reality is that overall retail spending continues to grow steadily, if a little meagerly. But several trends—including the rise of e-commerce, the over-supply of malls, and the surprising effects of a restaurant renaissance—have conspired to change the face of American shopping.

Here are three explanations for the recent demise of America’s storefronts.

1. People are simply buying more stuff online than they used to.

The simplest explanation for the demise of brick-and-mortar shops is that Amazon is eating retail. Between 2010 and last year, Amazon’s sales in North America quintupled from $16 billion to $80 billion. Sears’ revenue last year was about $22 billion, so you could say Amazon has grown by three Sears in six years. Even more remarkable, according to several reports, half of all U.S. households are now Amazon Prime subscribers.

But the full story is bigger than Amazon. Online shopping has done well for a long time in media and entertainment categories, like books and music. But easy return policies have made online shopping cheap, easy, and risk-free for consumers in apparel, which is now the largest e-commerce category. The success of start-ups like Casper, Bonobos, and Warby Parker (in beds, clothes, and glasses, respectively) has forced physical-store retailers to offer similar deals and convenience online.

What’s more, mobile shopping, once an agonizing experience of typing private credit-card digits in between pop-up ads, is getting easier thanks to apps and mobile wallets. Since 2010, mobile commerce has grown from 2 percent of digital spending to 20 percent.


The Growth of Mobile Shopping

Cowen Research

People used to make several trips to a store before buying an expensive item like a couch. They would go once to browse options, again to narrow down their favorites, and again to finally pull the trigger on a blue velvet love seat. On each trip, they were likely to make lots of other small purchases as they wandered around. But today many consumers can do all their prep online, which means less ambling through shopping centers and less making incidental purchases at adjacent stores (“I’m tired, let’s go home … oh wait, there’s a DSW right there, I need new sneakers”).

There will always be a place for stores. People like surveying glitzy showrooms and running their fingers over soft fabrics. But the rise of e-commerce not only moves individual sales online, but also builds new shopping habits, so that consumers gradually see the living room couch as a good-enough replacement for their local mall.

2. America built way too many malls.

There are about 1,200 malls in America today. In a decade, there might be about 900. That’s not quite the “the death of malls.” But it is decline, and it is inevitable.

The number of malls in the U.S. grew more than twice as fast as the population between 1970 and 2015, according to Cowen Research. By one measure of consumerist plentitude—shopping center “gross leasable area”—the U.S. has 40 percent more shopping space per capita than Canada, five times more the the U.K., and 10 times more than Germany. So it’s no surprise that the Great Recession provided such a devastating blow: Mall visits declined 50 percent between 2010 and 2013, according to the real-estate research firm Cushman and Wakefield, and they’ve kept falling every year since.


Shopping Space per Person, by Country

Cowen Research

In a long and detailed paper this week on the demise of stores, Cowen Research analysts offered several reasons for the “structural decay” of malls following the Great Recession. First, they said that stagnating wages and rising health-care costs squeezed consumer spending on fun stuff, like clothes. Second, the recession permanently hurt logo-driven brands, like Hollister and Abercrombie, that thrived during the 1990s and 2000s, when coolness in high-school hallways was defined by the size of the logo emblazoned on a polo shirt. Third, as consumers became bargain-hunters, discounters, fast-fashion outlets, and club stores took market share from department stores, like Macy’s and Sears.

Finally, malls are retail bundles, and when bundles unravel, the collateral damage is massive. (For example, look at pay TV, where ESPN has bled millions of subscribers in the last few years as one of its key demographics, young men, abandon the cable bundle that is critical to ESPN’s distribution.) In retail, when anchor tenants like Macy’s fail, that means there are fewer Macy’s stragglers to amble over to American Eagle. Some stores have “co-tenancy” clauses in malls that give them the right to break the lease and leave if an anchor tenant closes its doors. The failure of one or more department stores can ultimately shutter an entire mall.

3. Americans are shifting their spending from materialism to meals out with friends.

Even if e-commerce and overbuilt shopping space conspired to force thousands of retail store closings, why is this meltdown happening while wages for low-income workers are rising faster than any time since the 1990s?

First, although rising wages are obviously great for workers and the overall economy, they can be difficult for low-margin companies that rely on cheap labor—like retail stores. Cashiers and retail salespeople are the two largest job categories in the country, with more than 8 million workers between them, and the median income for both occupations is less than $25,000 a year. But recently, new minimum-wage laws and a tight labor market have pushed up wages for the poorest workers, squeezing retailers who are already under pressure from Amazon.

Second, clothing stores have declined as consumers shifted their spending away from clothes toward traveling and dining out. Before the Great Recession, people bought a lot of stuff, like homes, furniture, cars, and clothes, as retail grew dramatically in the 1990s. But something big has changed. Spending on clothes is down—its share of total consumer spending has declined by 20 percent this century.

What’s up? Travel is booming. Hotel occupancy is booming. Domestic airlines have flown more passengers each year since 2010, and last year U.S. airlines set a record, with 823 million passengers. The rise of restaurants is even more dramatic. Since 2005, sales at “food services and drinking places” have grown twice as fast as all other retail spending. In 2016, for the first time ever, Americans spent more money in restaurants and bars than at grocery stores.


Non-Food Retail vs. Restaurants and Bars: 1992-2016

St Louis Fed

There is a social element to this, too. Many young people are driven by the experiences that will make the best social media content—whether it’s a conventional beach pic or a well-lit plate of glistening avocado toast. Laugh if you want, but these sorts of questions—“what experience will reliably deliver the most popular Instagram post?”—really drive the behavior of people ages 13 and up. This is a big deal for malls, says Barbara Byrne Denham, a senior economist at Reis, a real-estate analytics firm. Department stores have failed as anchors, but better food, entertainment, and even fitness options might bring teens and families back to struggling malls, where they might wander into brick-and-mortar stores that are currently at risk of closing.

* * *

There is no question that the most significant trend affecting brick-and-mortar stores is the relentless march of Amazon and other online retail companies. But the recent meltdown for retail brands is equally about the legacy of the Great Recession, which punished logo-driven brands, put a premium on experiences (particularly those that translate into social media moments), and unleashed a surprising golden age for restaurants.

Finally, a brief prediction. One of the mistakes people make when thinking about the future is to think that they are watching the final act of the play. Mobile shopping might be the most transformative force in retail—today. But self-driving cars could change retail as much as smartphones.

Once autonomous vehicles are cheap, safe, and plentiful, retail and logistics companies could buy up millions, seeing that cars can be stores and streets are the ultimate real estate. In fact, self-driving cars could make shopping space nearly obsolete in some areas. CVS could have hundreds of self-driving minivans stocked with merchandise roving the suburbs all day and night, ready to be summoned to somebody’s home by smartphone. A new luxury-watch brand in 2025 might not spring for an Upper East Side storefront, but maybe its autonomous showroom vehicle could circle the neighborhood, waiting to be summoned to the doorstep of a tony apartment building. Autonomous retail will create new conveniences and traffic headaches, require new regulations, and inspire new business strategies that could take even more businesses out of commercial real estate. The future of retail could be even weirder yet.

Belvidere

Belvidere

 

Belvidere, the name sounds so peaceful

Is it not a place for our children to grow

Swinging bridge and waterfall

Two scenic parks in which to spend our time

My youth from the time of ten years old

This is the hometown in which I was grown

 

No coal fields, nor mines nor stinky paper mills

Mostly factories are the place people mark their time

From the Blue Ridge of Virginia to Dakota’s Black Hills

Beautiful places we have pitched our tents

Chrysler Corporation, in Belvidere built an assembly plant

 

Chasing a good job trying to escape starvation wages

Belvidere Illinois is where our family went

Belvidere turned out to be a great place to live

Except their winters too much cold and snow

The people good honest hard working folks

But their winters I don’t miss

Mom, dad, and brother Larry

They do sleep in peace there now

 

Sister Jackie who is a wearer of the cloth

With husband Wayne there they do remain

Belvidere, you’re always in my prayers

Your beauty, kindness and your friendliness

Like fresh spring roses, a great place to rest your cares

 

Belvidere, still such a pretty word to me

You always bring a special smile upon my face

My memories of you brings light to my heart

I pray that all the people of the earth

Could have such fond recall

Of the places they were grown

 

After life’s last breath is gone

It is there I wish they plant my bones

In loving memory of the place that I was grown

Such wonderful people upon God’s earth

Belvidere, the place that I called my home

Mr. Putin Seeks a Meeting With Mr. Trump In Helsinki Finland In May

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

(Are the people of Russia and the people of the U.S. really enemies of each other, no I do not believe so personally. It is the ego’s and the distrust of Nation’s Leaders toward each other, both the Civilian and the Military/Intelligence Leaderships. This is something the Media doesn’t need to be trying to become the ‘news maker’. The world is better off if the U.S. along with all of Europe, Israel and Russia are honestly friendly with each other.)–this opinion by trs.

Putin seeks Trump meeting in Helsinki in May
Russian President Vladimir Putin at the 'Arctic: Territory of Dialogue' International Forum in Arkhangelsk, Russia, 30 March 2017Image copyright EPA
Image caption Mr Putin said he would be “glad” to meet Mr Trump at a summit of the Arctic Council in Helsinki

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he would like to meet US President Donald Trump at an Arctic nations summit in Finland in May.

He again rejected allegations that Russia had interfered in the 2016 US presidential election.

And he said sanctions against Russia were also hurting the US and Europe.

Mr Trump had voiced hopes for improved relations with Moscow, but he has been dogged by claims of links between his election campaign and Russia.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and both houses of the US Congress are investigating alleged Russian interference in the election.

Russia ‘tried to hijack US election’, Senate hearing told

Mr Putin, speaking at an Arctic forum in Arkhangelsk in northern Russia, said he would be “glad” to meet Mr Trump at a summit of the Arctic Council in Helsinki in May.

“Both side should prepare such events,” he said. “If not, then such a meeting could take place within the framework of the usual meetings, at the G20.”

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, whose country is due to take the rotating leadership of the Arctic Council, said he would be honoured to host such a meeting.

The G20 summit of world powers is set to convene in the northern German city of Hamburg in early July.

Donald Trump (file pic)Image copyright REUTERS
Image caption Mr Trump says claims of collusion between his campaign and Russia are “fake news”

Mr Putin criticised “endless and groundless” allegations that Russia interfered in the US election, and what he termed the use of the “Russian card” in US politics.

“Do we want to completely cut relations?” he asked. “Do we want to bring the situation to what it was during the Cuban Missile Crisis of the 1960s?

“I very much hope that sometime – the sooner the better – the situation will return to normal. I very much hope that we’ll… improve Russian-American relations, for the good of our people’s, and for the whole world.”

Mr Putin said he would support President Trump in fighting terrorism, and co-operate with the Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency.

He added that he was ready to work with the new US presidential administration on fighting Islamic State in Syria.

Earlier this year, Slovenia offered to host a meeting between Mr Putin and Mr Trump. Mr Putin offered thanks, but said it would depend on Washington.

Western nations imposed sanctions on Russia over its annexation of the Crimea and its role in the Ukraine crisis.

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—Thank You, oldpoet56, T.R.S.

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