Fighting Back

Grind for June 20th, 2018

“Irresponsibility is part of the pleasure of art; it is the part the schools cannot recognize.”

– James Joyce

Not Again

The Headline

Chris Hardwick accused of abuse by ex-girlfriend Chloe Dykstra

The Grind

Actress and cosplayer Chloe Dykstra recently posted an essay about her relationship with an abusive ex-boyfriend who forbade her from having male friends and expected her to “be ready for him when he came home from work.”

The abuse caused Dykstra to lose weight, pull out her hair, stop listening to music, and feel “like a ghost.” After the breakup, her ex supposedly made phone calls to get her fired from work.

Dykstra described her ex as “a mildly successful podcaster” who became a “powerhouse CEO of his own company,” leading most to assume she is referring to comedian and Nerdist founder Chris Hardwick.

“I want this to be two things,” wrote Dykstra. “Number One: Closure. I’m approaching my thirties, finding stability, and quite simply, I want this to be out of me. But more importantly, Number Two: A warning. Emotional abuse is a very common thing. More common than you’d think.”

The Details

Chris Hardwick founded Nerdist in 2012 before going on to host game shows @Midnight and The Wall. He also hosts AMC’s Talking Dead.

Nerdist responded to Dykstra’s essay by removing all references to Hardwick from its website. “Like you, we were shocked to read the news this morning,” wrote the website. “Nerdist prides itself on being an inclusive company made up of positive, diverse community of people who come together to share and discuss the things we love. That type of behavior is contrary to everything we stand for and believe in, and we absolutely don’t tolerate discrimination, harassment, and other forms of abuse.”

In her essay, Dykstra made it clear that she did not hold any resentment towards Nerdist. “The person has not been associated with that company for several years, and I hope that they will not suffer as a result of my essay. Be kind to them, they are good people.”

Tit For Tat

The Headline

China announces retaliatory tariffs

The Grind

China’s State Council this week announced new tariffs on US imports including farm products, cars, and crude oil.

The announcement follows major trade offenses from the Trump Administration, including steep taxes on steel and aluminum and a 25% tariff on $50 billion in Chinese goods.

Earlier this month China offered to buy nearly 70 billion dollars’ worth of US products if Trump called off his tariff threat, but it wasn’t enough.

Trump says the tariffs will improve the trade deficit with China and will convince American companies to move manufacturing back to the US.

Beijing has accused Trump of “provoking a trade war.”

The Details

“Beijing is imposing the tariffs in two steps as Washington is doing – picking the same amounts and same dates…” reports The Wall Street Journal.

On July 6th, the new taxes will affect $34 billion in American products including soybeans, chicken, pork, seafood, and vehicles. Farm goods were chosen specifically to harm states that supported Trump’s presidential campaign.

The second wave of taxes will affect $16 billion in US goods including coal, chemicals, crude oil, and medical devices.

Trump responded to the announcement by threatening to tax an additional $100 billion in Chinese imports. “The trade war was started many years ago,” said Trump. The US economy is booming, and “after we do our trade deals, wait ’til you see our numbers.”

Administration officials say the tariffs are necessary in order to convince China to stop forcing tech companies to transfer information to Chinese partners and to interrupt China’s plans to become the global leader in technology and artificial intelligence.

“We’re going to stop…their forced transfer of technology,” said US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

On June 30th, the Trump Administration will release a proposal detailing new restrictions for Chinese investment in the US.

Did you know… In Hong Kong, a betrayed wife is legally allowed to kill her adulterous husband, but may only do so with her bare hands. (The husband’s lover, on the other hand, may be killed in any manner desired.)

European Smackdown

Grind for June 19th, 2018

“Even a mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worthwhile achievement.”

– Henry Ford

You Don’t Hear That Everyday

The Headline

Soccer fans cause mini earthquake when Mexico beats Germany

The Grind

An unprecedented win by Mexico’s soccer team in the World Cup Sunday may have caused a small earthquake, reports CBS Sports.

At least two seismic monitors in Mexico City detected earthquakes at almost exactly the same moment Mexico’s Hirving Lozano scored the only goal in what would turn out to be a 1-0 victory for Mexico.

According to the area’s Institute of Geological and Atmospheric Research, the quake was possibly caused “because of mass jumping” as hundreds of thousands of soccer fans jumped up and down in excitement.

The Background

Sunday’s match, which was overwhelmingly predicted to go in Germany’s favor, represents one of the biggest upsets in Mexico’s World Cup history.

But Mexico’s joy in winning wasn’t just a matter of sports. The victory against Germany, whose team won the World Cup in 2014, comes at a time of ongoing bad news for Mexico.

Relations with the US have soured over President Trump’s ongoing demand for a border wall, his tariffs on steel and aluminum, and his dissatisfaction with NAFTA negotiations.

On top of that is a toxic campaign season which culminates on July 1st when Mexico votes for more than 3,400 positions – including the presidency.

“I barely felt like watching the match, because I thought we were going to get badly beaten,” says taxi driver Juan Rodrigo Guadarrama. “I thought we would not have a chance. But the fact that we won renews our hope…We are so polarized and against each other these days, with the elections and everything else going on, that this brings us back together and makes us feel like things are possible.”

There’s no guarantee Mexico will advance to the next stage, but the unexpected victory against the tournament’s reigning champion has given Mexicans some much-needed faith in their country.

“We will use it as inspiration and encouragement for many other things in our lives, and as a reminder that nothing is impossible,” says soccer fan Fernanda Córdoba.”That is why soccer matters: because it inspires us.”

Mexico will face South Korea on June 23rd and Sweden on June 27th before the top two teams from each group advance to the next stage.

Mexico has never made it past the quarterfinals.

Home Safe

The Headline

Ships carrying 600+ migrants arrive in Spain

The Grind

Rescue ships carrying 630 migrants arrived in Valencia, Spain on Sunday after a week-long journey from Libya.

Upon arrival, migrants were given basic health assessments and allowed to come ashore while authorities collected identification details.

Spain announced Monday it would accept the large group of migrants after they were rejected by Italy and Malta.

“I have mixed feelings,” says David Noguera, head of Doctors Without Borders in Spain. “I am happy that the journey is over – a journey that was too long – and I am worried for the situation in the Mediterranean and the closing of European ports.”

The Details

Spain’s decision to accept the migrants comes amid a deepening immigration debate in Europe that has contributed to a series of conservative and populist victories throughout the continent.

“We celebrate that rescued people are finally in a safe place, where they will be assisted with dignity,” says Noguera. “But now we must collectively reflect on the reasons for people fleeing across the Mediterranean. We need fairer, more humane solutions.”

According to EU law, migrants must apply for asylum in the first European country they enter. This rule has caused problems for Greece and Italy, which due to their location receive more immigrants than other nations.

EU countries have yet to agree on what should be done about the ongoing flow of migrants coming into Europe, but are planning to discuss the issue later this month at the European Council meeting on June 28th.

Did you know… E-mail has been around longer than the World Wide Web.

Dangerous Government Interference

Grind for June 18th, 2018

Balance helps provide the perspective and foundation that we all need to be successful.

– Fran Horowitz.

Big Brother

The Headline

China to implement massive car-tracking system

The Grind

Starting in January of next year, all new cars in China must be equipped with a radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip that will enable roadside stations to track a car’s location.

The chips, which work similar to the devices we use in the US for automated toll roads, will be able to identify vehicles even when fake license plates are used.

The Chinese government insists the program will improve traffic and cut down on the number of terror attacks involving cars, but opponents worry the system is just another element in Beijing’s ever-growing surveillance state.

The Details

“It’s kind of like another tool in the toolbox for mass-surveillance,” says Maya Wang of Human Rights Watch. “To be able to track vehicles would definitely add substantial location details to the chain of data points that they already have.”

Already in that ‘toolbox’ are programs and gadgets including:

— Facial recognition technology at stoplights

— Facial recognition sunglasses

— Infiltration of social media

— Phone scanners that search phones for suspicious content

— Millions of CCTV cameras

— A controversial “social credit” system

— Algorithms that monitor citizens’ reading and purchasing habits

“It’s all happening in the backdrop of this pretty authoritarian government,” cautions Harvard tech expert Ben Green. “It’s really hard to imagine that the primary use [of the car-tracking system] is not law enforcement surveillance and other forms of social control.”

Last summer, China announced that it would become the world leader in artificial intelligence by 2025.

Justice Is Served

The Headline

Former Trump campaign manager will await trial in prison

The Grind

A federal judge on Friday sent former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to jail after Special Counsel Robert Mueller determined Manafort and a business partner had tampered with witnesses.

“I cannot turn a blind eye to this allegation,” said US District Judge Amy Jackson.

Manafort “has nothing to do with our campaign, but I tell you I feel a little badly about it,” said President Trump. “They went back 12 years to get things that he did 12 years ago.”

Manafort “worked for me for a very short period of time,” added Trump.

The Details

Paul Manafort will remain in jail until his trial over charges of a “conspiracy to launder more than $30 million over a decade of undisclosed lobbying for a former pro-Russian politician and party in Ukraine” reports The Washington Post.

The trial is set for September.

Manafort will also go to trial in Virginia in July for tax and bank fraud charges uncovered when prosecutors looked through his financial dealings.

Manafort’s suspicious behavior was uncovered as part of the investigation into possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign. He was indicted by Special Counsel Mueller on October 27th and has been under house arrest ever since.

Manafort, age 69, has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Did you know… In 2010, George Lucas said “I am dedicating the majority of my wealth to improving education. It is the key to the survival of the human race.” Two years later, Lucas sold Lucasfilm Ltd. to Disney for 4.05 billion dollars and is donating the majority of the proceeds to a charity that focuses on education.

Cracking Down On Crime

Grind for June 17th, 2018

“Genius is the ability to put into effect what is on your mind.”

– F. Scott Fitzgerald

Self Fulfilling Prophecy

The Headline

LAPD busted for using predictive algorithm to stop crimes before they are committed

The Grind

The Los Angeles Police Department this month was forced to unveil a controversial crime-predicting program after a lawsuit filed by the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition.

LAPD documents provide “evidence that policing algorithms, which require officers to keep a checklist of (and keep an eye on) 12 people deemed most likely to commit a crime, are continuing to propagate a vicious cycle of disproportionately high arrests of black Angelinos, as well as other racial minorities,” reports In Justice Today.

The Details

The program relies on artificial intelligence to predict which individuals are most likely to commit a crime. A person earns “points” for past offenses and encounters with police. People with the most points are monitored in expectation of future crimes.

Encounters with police are often unavoidable for persons of interest, and each encounter resets the clock for future surveillance – which can last up to two years since their last interaction with police.

Other problems with the system include:

The algorithms rely on data from a city where minority neighborhoods are over-policed.

Individuals trying to move on from past crimes face extra surveillance.

Individuals who may be associated with or know about criminal activity can face extra surveillance even if they have done nothing wrong.

“When we look at LAPD stops, the black population is completely overrepresented,” said Jamie Garcia, a lead organizer for the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition. The algorithms direct cops to “find these people and to basically harass them…If you’re constantly being surveilled, constantly being harassed, the chance of something going wrong…The next thing you know you’re a chalk outline.”

In other words, LAPD units are ordered to check up on persons of interest, without probable cause, to check for things like outstanding warrants or illegal gun seizures. Each encounter adds to that person’s point score, which leads to more surveillance.

And as social science shows us, people who are made to feel like criminals are more likely to become criminals.

Good Timing

The Headline

Trump Administration considers “gag rule” that could block funding from Planned Parenthood

The Grind

The Trump Administration is thinking about reinstating a Reagan-era “domestic gag rule” that would prevent family planning clinics that receive Title X funding from talking about abortion or referring patients to abortion providers.

The rule would also require clinics to be physically and financially separate from abortion services.

Democrats rightly argue that the rule is specifically designed to defund Planned Parenthood, which accounts for more than 40% of Title X funds.

The Details

Republicans are frustrated by Trump’s failure to defund Planned Parenthood, and cutting the abortion provider’s access to federal funds just before midterms elections could go a long way towards maintaining the party’s majority in Congress.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar has received letters signed by more than 80 pro-life groups and over 200 GOP members of Congress pushing to reinstate the gag rule.

“For far too long the Title X Family Planning Program has been integrated with abortion centers,” reads the letter. “It is time to act swiftly to disentangle abortion centers from the Title X network. Doing so would be consistent with the President’s pledge and subsequent actions to defund Planned Parenthood and reallocate funding to alternative providers.”

Success in reinstating the gag rule could result in more voters coming out to support lawmakers who pushed for action on this, but it will also galvanize pro-choice Democrats who insist the restrictions would be a disaster for low-income women seeking access to reproductive healthcare.

“We’ve seen dramatic examples of what happens when states like Texas and Indiana tamper with family planning funds: substantial numbers of people are deprived of healthcare they want, resulting in significantly higher rates of STIs and unintended pregnancy,” said ACLU President Clare Coleman.

The ACLU joined Planned Parenthood affiliates in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Utah in a lawsuit which claims the gag rule is specifically designed to defund Planned Parenthood and to benefit clinics that promote abstinence over contraception.

Did you know… The revenue that is generated from gambling is more than the revenue that comes from movies, cruise ships, recorded music, theme parks, and spectator sports combined.

Rosenstein and Dick’s Sporting Goods In Hot Water

Grind for June 16th, 2018

“Evil is whatever distracts.” – Franz Kafka

Dark Roast

The Headline

Dick’s Sporting Goods confronted by shareholder, for abandoning our Second Amendment

The Grind

The historical term “turncoat” was used during our American Revolution, in which a soldier would turn his coat inside out, to hide is allegiance. The formal definition is “a person who shifts allegiance from one loyalty or ideal to another, betraying or deserting an original cause by switching to the opposing side or party.”

The Details

At the annual shareholders meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, CEO Edward Stack of Dick’s Sporting Goods was confronted and grilled by shareholder and Second Amendment advocate David Almasi as to why the sporting good giant betrayed it’s customers and more importantly “America’s right to keep and bear arms” which is a founding principle of our democracy.

Almasi, a vice president at the National Center for Public Policy Research, attended the meeting representing the think tank’s Free Enterprise Project, confronted Stack, accusing him of violating his responsibilities and fiduciary duties, by purposely giving money in support of anti gun propagandists.

Within the crowded assembly Almasi challenged Stack’s anti gun stand, blasting the retailer’s recent capitulation to the frenzied anti-gun zealots, stating; “Dick’s has damaged its reputation by lending its voice and its resources to those who want to abolish the Second Amendment.”

Adding, “30% of American adults own guns and another 11% live with someone who does. You’ve now alienated them.”

The sudden assault to our Second Amendment by the retail sporting-goods giant began soon after the February 17th Parkland massacre, in which 17-innocent individuals were senselessly gunned down by a deranged loner.

The company also announced that it would raise the age limit to 21, for purchasing “all firearms,” ironically the age limit is 3-years after the legal age for someone serving within the military.

However the most egregious policy change by Dick’s is in their mistreatment of their loyal customer’s, which are avoid sports enthusiasts, who respect the Second Amendment.

The scorched earth business decision by Dick’s to willfully abandon a sizable portion of their loyal customer base, has had a profound negative effect on their bottom-line admitted Stack.


Crime Mob

The Headline

Rosenstein acts like underworld kingpin, threatening “retaliation” against Oversight Committee

The Grind

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein threatening and targeting members of the House Oversight Committee sounds more like an episode from HBO’s popular “Empire Boardwalk” series, in which organized crime kingpin “Nucky Thompson”, played by Steve Buscemi attempts to keep control of his criminal underworld Atlantic City empire by intimidation.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge reported that during a tense closed-door meeting in January, House committee members (including their staff) were suddenly threatened by Rosenstein to back off the investigation, or be prepared to have emails, phone records and other documents from lawmakers and aides “subpoenaed.”

The Details

The chilling incident caught many GOP lawmakers by surprise, with several going on the record accusing the Justice Department of overt “intimidation” after Fox’s stunning revelation, with one lawmakers claiming that Rosentein’s threat so traumatized staffers, that many had been left “physically shaking” over Rosenstein’s thuggish tactics.

Kash Patel, a top Nunes staffer and senior committee counsel member was at the closed door meeting when the alleged threat occurred, and wrote to the House Office of General Counsel, paraphrasing what Rosenstein allegedly said, “Going so far as to say that if the Committee likes being litigators, then ‘we [DOJ] too [are] litigators, and we will subpoena your records and your emails,’ referring to HPSCI [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] and Congress overall.”

A second House committee staffer at the meeting backed up Patel’s account, writing: “Let me just add that watching the Deputy Attorney General launch a sustained personal attack against a congressional staffer in retaliation for vigorous oversight was astonishing and disheartening. … Also, having the nation’s #1 (for these matters) law enforcement officer threaten to ‘subpoena your calls and emails’ was downright chilling.”

Both the Justice Department and the FBI as predicted are down-playing the incident and characterizing to Fox News that the description by staffers and members of the House committee as to what took place within the meeting is false.

Further, an official at the DOJ said that when Rosenstein returns to the United States from a work trip, “he will request that the House General Counsel conduct an internal investigation of these Congressional staffers conduct.”

Although Attorney General Sessions (remember him) had recused himself from the Russian investigation and wasn’t present at that infamous meeting. He nevertheless stood my Rosenstein, “I’m confident that Deputy Rosenstein, 28 years in the Department of Justice, did not improperly threaten anyone on that occasion, but we do believe that we have tried to be cooperative with them and made progress … in fact have had some good relationships with top members of Congress.”

Another DOJ official attempting more “damage control” went on Fox News suggesting that Rosenstein “never threatened anyone in the room with a criminal investigation.”

Adding, “The Deputy Attorney General was making the point, after being threatened with contempt, that as an American citizen charged with the offense of contempt of Congress, he would have the right to defend himself, including requesting production of relevant emails and text messages and calling them as witnesses to demonstrate that their allegations are false,” the official said. “That is why he put them on notice to retain relevant emails and text messages, and he hopes they did so. (We have no process to obtain such records without congressional approval.)”

Perhaps the wider issue for Rosenstein isn’t his bluster threatening investigators, but how to continue stone-walling the committee, from uncovering the truth, which is sure to implicate him.


Did you know… There are 5 to 10 times more stars in the known Universe than there are grains of sand on all the world’s beaches, but a single grain of sand has more atoms than there are stars in the known Universe.


New Scientific Breakthroughs

Grind for June 15th, 2018

“I’ve put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that’s the only way of insuring one’s immortality.”

– James Joyce

New Discoveries

The Headline

New genetic discovery will reduce the number of chemo patients

The Grind

It’s no secret how awful the side effects of chemotherapy are.

According to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, doctors have been over-prescribing chemotherapy to breast cancer patients.

Researchers found that patients diagnosed with “early-stage, invasive, hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer” and who scored within a certain range on the Oncotype DX genetic test respond just as well to hormone treatments as they do to chemo.

The Details

The Oncotype DX test examines 21 different genes to rate the likelihood of breast cancer recurrence. The test effectively splits breast cancer patients into two groups:

— Those who would benefit from a combination of chemo and endocrine therapy.

— Those who would benefit from endocrine therapy only.

Each year, there are about 65,000 cases that fit into neither category. In the past, doctors automatically prescribed chemo to the patients because they assumed it would help.

“For those people, the side effects of chemotherapy could have been avoided, without making the treatment any less effective,” reports Futurism.

Doctors have been using the Oncotype DX test since 2004, but the relevant experiments on chemotherapy weren’t published until 2015.

“In the bigger perspective, this study shows that doctors and researchers need to constantly re-evaluate the assumptions on which medical decisions are based, especially for something as important and time-sensitive as cancer treatments.”

And while this new insight does not eliminate chemotherapy as a viable cancer treatment, it will allow for thousands of breast cancer patients to receive personally-tailored treatments that are just as effective, and far less painful, than chemotherapy.

The Future Is Now

The Headline

Ukrainian clinic creates babies using DNA from three parents

The Grind

A fertility clinic in Kiev is using DNA from three “parents” to help women who are unable to reproduce due to defects in their mitochondrial DNA.

The procedure, which is illegal in the US, has been criticized over fears that children produced this way will be unhealthy. Others worry the procedure could lead to “designer babies.”

“It is a dream to want to have a genetic connection with a baby,” says clinic director Valery Zukin. “As a doctor I understand only one thing: We have parents who couldn’t have children and now they have their own biological child. That’s all. “

The Details

Here’s how the procedure works:

— Scientists take the father’s DNA and use it to fertilize two eggs, one from the mother and one from an egg donor. This creates two embryos.

— Scientists remove all DNA from the donor’s embryo except for 37 specific genes known as “mitochondrial DNA.”

— Scientists remove all DNA from the mother’s embryo and insert it into the donor’s embryo.

— Scientists then insert the donor’s embryo into the womb of the woman who is trying to get pregnant.

The procedure, which costs $8,000 for Ukrainian citizens and $15,000 for foreigners, has resulted in 7 successful pregnancies and 14 failures.

“These babies – they have DNA from mother and from father. So they are genetically related to their parents,” explains clinic embryo scientists Pavlo Mazur, adding that DNA from the egg donor has no effect on traits like eye color, hair color, height, and IQ.

Mazur will present the clinic’s findings this summer at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology’s annual meeting in Barcelona.

Did you know… Theodore Roosevelt read at least one book every day.

Self-Destructive Democrats

Grind for June 14th, 2018

“Our best thoughts come from others.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The First Step

The Headlines

The Trump Doctrine: from G-7 to North Korean Summit equals “Make America Great”

The Grind

Has anyone noticed that Donald Trump (by definition) is considered a “senior citizen”? Moreover, the remarkable stamina displayed by “our” President’s whirlwind, global hopping exploits over this marathon weekend, from the G-7 Summit in Canada to his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore is simply astounding.

The agenda for this President as evidenced by his meetings in both Canada and then again in Singapore is to “make America great” which simply put is the core of the Trump Doctrine in a nutshell.

The Details

In Canada the President faced a somewhat chilly reception from his 6- industrial colleagues, hosted by left-wing Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in Charlevoix, the riverside region in Quebec.

Their collective dissatisfaction with the President was obvious. This president unlike his predecessors is putting “America’s interests first” to the dismay of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom, who’ve collectively practiced “unfair” trade policies against the United States for countless decades, and got away with it because of either weak leadership or progressive dogma by past administrations, promoting “globalization” at the expense of the American worker.

Showing that he meant business, the President recently imposed a 25% tariff on imported steel and a 10% hike on aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union, which is freaking out both Democrats and some Republicans who fear a “trade war.”

Which prompted French President Emmanuel Macron to respond, “The American president may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be. Because these 6 countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force.”

The President’s response, “Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers. The EU trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out!”

The President then “jetted off” to Singapore, to meet for the first time in America’s history with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for what might become the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Hours later “AIRFORCE ONE” touched down in Singapore, and once again marathon discussions with delegates from both North Korea and the United States, preparing for that all important meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and President Trump. The behind-the-scenes preparations and meetings had concluded, and now both leaders were ready to take center stage on what was to be a historic first for both men.

With both the American and North Korean flags as a backdrop the President of the United States and the “Supreme Leader” for North Korea strolled out from opposite sides of the stage, met in the middle, shook-hands and smiled.

The two leaders met “one on one” for nearly an hour and emerged once again smiling for the cameras as they quickly moved to another location in the luxury hotel for more talks, however this time with their respective delegations.

After the historical meeting both leaders appeared once again behind a long desk and signed the agreement that would hopefully begin the complex process of total and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

“The world will see a major change,” Kim said at the signing ceremony, adding that he and President Trump have “decided to leave the past behind.”

The President for his part, has graciously accepted Kim’s olive branch, for now stating, “We’ve developed a very special bond.”

It’s important to point out that the United States gave up nothing; the harsh sanctions are still in place. Our troops are at “the ready” no ransom money was paid for the release of our three hostages; in short, the Trump Doctrine is in place, with its core principles of “Make America Great” secured.

Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

The Headline

“Hip hip hooray” Pelosi is still the best endorsement for Republicans going into the midterm elections

The Grind

Gaffe prone Nancy Pelosi is without a doubt the best reason why average Americans will vote Republican come this November. Certainly the Presidents economic policies of lowering taxes and rising paychecks is what people usually vote for.

However Pelosi’s continued verbal blunders from referencing the President’s massive tax cuts as “unpatriotic” to labeling the hundreds of bonuses handed out by employers to their employees, (averaging $1,000) as “crumbs” simply illustrates clearly just how “out of touch” the 78-year old Minority Leader is.

To make matters worse for Democrats, not one voted for the massive tax reductions, eliminating putative mandates or reducing tax rates across the board for working Americans.

The Details

Ironically in 2011 the Obama Administration did a little “smoke and mirrors” with the payroll tax, adding (on average) about $40 per paycheck. Then House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had a much different take, praising Obama and exclaiming “victory for all Americans.”

Adding, “160 million Americans will continue to receive their payroll tax cut, nearly $40 per paycheck in the pockets of the average family. I salute the work of the unified House Democratic caucus on behalf of the American people.”

Remarkably if the unthinkable should happen and Nancy recaptures the leadership, she’s promised to repeal the Presidents tax cuts. Which is extremely popular in America. In fact a just-released New York Times poll (not exactly a Trump ally) shows a majority of Americans (51%) support the Presidents tax cuts.

Currently over 3-million working Americans have received substantial bonuses averaging $1,000, and in some cases over $3,000, and with rising wages. To date, almost 300 companies around the country have given out bonuses to their workers.

Moreover because of the reduction in the corporate tax rates, businesses can now invest more of their earnings back into their businesses, allowing them to expand and reinvest in their workers.

Perhaps the best way to illustrate just how out-of-touch Pelosi is, was with the incredible May “Jobs Report” that economists had forecasted around 193,000 new jobs would be created. However, when the actual numbers began coming in the tally exceeded even the most optimistic prediction, ending with just over 223,000 new jobs with black unemployment breaking records, the lowest in recorded history, with a 3.8% unemployment rate.

Did you know… Cats are one of the only animals to domesticate themselves and approach humans on their own terms.

Uber and China Looking Out for Business Interests

Grind for June 13th, 2018

“For changes to be of any true value, they’ve got to be lasting and consistent.”

– Tony Robbins

On Again Off Again

The Headline

Chinese phone company shells out $1 billion to stay in US

The Background

You’ve probably heard of ZTE – the Chinese telecom company that has been accused of using phones to spy on American citizens.

In April, ZTE was banned from working with US companies after it was found to have violated US sanctions by working with Iran and North Korea.

Without its US business partners, ZTE was forced to halt production.

The News

President Trump in May said he was working on a deal to get ZTE back into the US. In early June, the Administration announced ZTE had paid a $1 billion fine to regain access to US businesses.

In addition to the fine, the new agreement forces ZTE to alter its management and establishes a US “compliance team” that will work within ZTE for the next decade.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross insists the agreement gives the US the power to ensure ZTE does nothing wrong. “We will closely monitor ZTE’s behavior,” said Ross. “If they commit any further violations, we would again be able to deny them access to US technology as well as collect the additional $400 million in escrow.”

Others are questioning why Trump would offer a deal to a company that broke US sanctions and allegedly spied on US citizens.

“The Trump Administration is giving ZTE and China the green light to spy on Americans and sell our technology to North Korea and Iran, as long as it pays a fine that amounts to a tiny fraction of its revenue,” argues Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Last week, Trump met with his trade advisers to discuss Beijing’s offer to import an extra $70 billion in American goods over the next year.

The offer follows massive tariffs on China including steel, aluminum, washing machines, and solar panel components.

Access Denied

The Headline

New Uber program could block drunken passengers

The Grind

Uber in recent years has emerged as a safe alternative to drunk driving, but it looks like Uber doesn’t want your business if you’ve been drinking.

According to a CNN Money report last week, Uber filed an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office for a machine learning system that predicts an Uber passengers “state.”

Uber says the program will identify “tired” passengers who “might have difficulty locating the provider’s vehicle,” but what the program actually does is predict when a user might be intoxicated.

The Details

The innovative program analyzes the following factors to identify whether a passenger is in an “unusual” state:

— How accurately/quickly the passenger types in his information

— The angle at which the passenger holds his phone

— Location and time of day

— Walking speed

— Passenger’s history with Uber

Based on this information, the program could give Uber drivers a head’s up about the passenger’s state, change the pick-up/drop-off location to a safer area, block the passenger from joining a carpool, match the passenger with a more experienced driver, or choose to block the passenger from accessing a ride.

In my opinion, the new program is a lawsuit waiting to happen (and Uber really doesn’t need any more lawsuits).

I understand that Uber drivers don’t want to deal with rowdy passengers or clean vomit from their cars, but these annoyances have always been part of the ride-sharing industry.

If you don’t want to deal with drunk people, don’t work for Uber.

Did you know… President George W. Bush and Playboy founder Hugh Hefner are cousins!

Last Week’s Winners and Losers

Grind for June 12th, 2018

“Our heads are round so thought can change direction.”
– Allen Ginsberg

Not Fair

The Headline

President Trump urges allies to end unfair trade at G7 summit

The Grind

“The United States has been taken advantage of for decades and decades,” said President Trump this weekend at the conclusion of the G7 summit in Quebec. “I don’t blame other leaders for that, I blame our past leaders. There was no reason that this should have happened.”

Trump during the summit pushed for the elimination of trade barriers, including tariffs and subsidies, and warned allies they could lose access to the US economy if barriers remain in place.

The Details

Going into the summit, G7 members were already frustrated with Trump over his recent tariffs on steel and aluminum from Mexico, the EU, and Canada. All three have promised to retaliate with their own taxes on US imports.

“If they retaliate, they’re making a mistake,” said Trump.

In addition to the US, the Group of Seven includes Canada, Italy, Germany, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Russia was expelled in 2014 after its controversial annexation of Crimea.

Trump this weekend urged members to consider allowing Russia back into the group. “They should let Russia come back in, because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”

Trump left the summit four hours early to avoid talks on the environment, including clean energy, climate change, and the health of oceans.

Trump is now on his way to Singapore, where he will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“This is unknown territory in the truest sense,” said Trump. “But I feel really confident. It’s never been done, it’s never been tested. So we are going in with a really positive spirit.”

Just Say No

The Headline

DA elections this week were a major setback for George Soros

The Grind

Billionaire investor George Soros suffered a major defeat this week when three of the four California district attorney candidates he supported lost to candidates with more traditional views on law enforcement.

Soros spent nearly $3 million on four progressive candidates who supported “lower incarceration rates, crackdowns on police misconduct, and changes in a bail system that they argue discriminates against the poor,” reports Fox News.

Soros’s failure is great news for Republicans because it shows that America (just like Hungary) is not in tune with his progressive ideas and that DA seats can’t be bought.

The Details

“This is a good day for the people,” said DA Anne Marie Schubert, who defeated Soros-backed Noah Phillips. “You can’t buy an election in the county of Sacramento. Here’s to four more years.”

Schubert beat Phillips by a 2-1 margin in spite of a Soros-funded smear campaign against her for her failure to prosecute a cop for shooting a civilian.

The only Soros candidate to come out on top was Diana Becton, who won in Contra Costa County. Becton must face off against Senior Deputy DA Paul Graves in the November general election, however, so her victory is not guaranteed.

Some liberal activists criticized Soros for using his money on ads and smear campaigns rather than efforts to get more people to the polls.

“You can pay for all the ads in the world, but if people don’t go to the polls, it doesn’t really matter,” says Rev. Shane Harris.

Others insist Soros’s money did not go to waste.

“Win or lose, these campaigns have been a success because they elevated the voices of voters,” argues Anne Irwin. “The elections reminded the DAs that these are not tenured positions. They have to answer to the communities that elect them.”

Did you know… The reindeer is the only mammal that can see UV light.

America’s Thriving Economy

Grind for June 11th, 2018

“I am looking for a lot of men who have an infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done.”

– Henry Ford

Looking Up

The Headline

Trump presidency continues to benefit economy

The Grind

US unemployment last month dropped to 3.8% – a figure we haven’t seen since 2000 and that is tied with the lowest it has been since 1969.

“The unemployment rate…indicates a growing shortage of available labor that is encouraging employers to tap underutilized pools of workers, including those without high school diplomas,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

The Details

The unemployment rate for individuals without high school diplomas reached 5.4% in May (a 25-year low). The rate for college grads remained at about 2%.

“When employers run out of workers, that’s when people with the weakest bargaining positions get put in the driver’s seat and can negotiate for better pay and get themselves into roles,” explains Glassdoor economist Andrew Chamberlain.

The drop in unemployment coincided with an increase in the number of payrolls, which grew by 223,000 during the month of May (the average for this year is about 207,000).

Also contributing to the lower unemployment rate are e-commerce giants like Amazon and Walmart, who are struggling to fill positions as consumer demand forces them to expand.

“The last stage of the e-commerce pipeline is just getting goods to people,” notes Chamberlain.

Play It Safe

The Headline

Apple insists it did not request personal information from Facebook

The Grind

Facebook’s deals with Apple and other device makers included access to personal information like religion, relationship status, and political leaning, reports The New York Times.

Facebook made these deals with at least 60 device makers.

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, responded by saying Apple has “never been in the data business” and did not receive or request any personal information from Facebook.

“What we did was we integrated the ability to share in the operating system, make it simple to share a photo and that sort of thing,” Cook told NPR. “So it’s a convenience for the user.”

The Details

Another such “convenience” is Apple’s new Screen Time app, which is designed to inform parents about their children’s use of apps like Netflix and Snapchat.

“All of these things are great conveniences of life,” said Cook. “They change your daily life in a great way.”

Cook also spoke with NPR about President Trump’s decision to impose aluminum and steel tariffs on ally nations – a move he fears will start a trade war.

“Trade brings people closer together…and I think that’s true about countries as well,” said Cook. “It helps a set of broader issues when there’s trade going on.”

Did you know… Macaques monkeys in Japan learned to steal purses and wallets, take out the coins, and use them to buy drinks and snacks from vending machines.