Ortiz: Trump’s Trade Triumphs–Trade War Truce, Deals for Farmers, Prices for Consumers

Rocky financial markets, driven largely by Federal Reserve uncertainty and President Trump’s aggressive tariff negotiation strategy, shouldn’t overshadow two trade victories at the recent G20 Summit.

Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping negotiated a trade war truce. Trump agreed to delay raising tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25 percent in return for Chinese promises to purchase more American agricultural, energy, and industrial exports and reduce the trade deficit.

This ceasefire is double victory for Americans. The most obvious winners are the farmers who have seen their export markets dry up as a result of China’s retaliatory tariffs. Soybean farmers, for instance, will see much needed relief from the deal, as the price of soybeans — the most valuable agricultural export in the country — has plummeted after China slapped them with a 25 percent tariff on July 6. In addition, countless small businesses selling everything from lobsters to whiskey, whose access to one of the biggest markets in the world has diminished as a result of the trade war, will see their Chinese business boom as a result.

American consumers are the other major victors. They avoid facing major price spikes on China-made consumer goods, homewares, and electronics that were set to take place on January 1st. The pain of these price increases on everyday items would have been exacerbated because they would have coincided with millions of consumers trying to pay off their Christmas credit card bills. Small businesses, dealing with one of the slowest months of the year in January, also avoid paying more for inputs that are made in China.

Following the G20 meeting, President Trump tweeted that in the wake of the trade agreement, China has agreed to reduce and remove its 40 percent tariffs on American cars. With GM announcing major layoffs and other American carmakers also struggling, the elimination of this major tariff amounts to an early Christmas present.

Despite the positive outcome of the G20 trade talks, the underlying drivers of the trade war remain. These include China forcing American companies to transfer their technological know-how, among other intellectual property abuses. Another point of contention is China’s widespread subsidies that allow its exports to enter U.S. markets at an artificially low cost. Such issues must be overcome to turn this truce into lasting economic peace and prosperity for both countries. The U.S. and China agreed to continue working toward a solution in further talks this month.

Diplomatically, there was also progress. The White House revealed that Xi would continue to push for a nuclear-free North Korea, while Beijing said Trump would respect the One-China policy regarding relations with Taiwan — both major points of contention in Sino-American relations. China also promised to take action against fentanyl production, which is the leading factor in America’s ongoing opioid overdose epidemic.

The U.S. and China trade ceasefire came on the heels the signing of the new Nafta agreement, dubbed USMCA, by the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. The new agreement includes many provisions that put American businesses and exporters in a better position. For instance, it opens up Canada’s long protected dairy market, a major source of contention among domestic dairy farmers in states like Wisconsin and New York. And it strengthens copyright and patent protections, helping American artists and entrepreneurs earn what they deserve.

The USMCA still needs to be ratified by Congress, and Democrats are opposed to giving President Trump any kind of victory. But it’s going to be difficult for them to vote against the agreement given its provisions that help American labor. This is a wedge issue that may determine which party wins manufacturing or dairy farming states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin in 2020. President Trump raised the stakes on his way home from the summit by saying that he “will be formally terminating Nafta shortly.”

President Trump’s G20 trade victories vindicate his aggressive trade strategy that is based on creating leverage to negotiate better deals for Americans. His “Tariff Man” admission last week that roiled financial markets was just the latest example. While he has been derided by free traders as protectionist, his approach is ironically on track to create freer and fairer trade than any of his predecessors. Consumers, small businesses, and exporters will be the beneficiaries.

Alfredo Ortiz is the president and CEO of the Job Creators Network.

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Disneyland’s new Marvel attractions look pretty legit in new concept art

As if we didn’t have enough to look forward to with the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge park expansion, Disney has released new concept art for its expanded Marvel-themed areas at select Disneyland parks.

Disney Parks first announced the attractions for Disneyland Paris, Disneyland Resort in California, and Hong Kong Disneyland in March 2018, and now we’ve got our first look at ’em.

Described by Disney as a global “Avengers Initiative,” the interconnected attractions and areas at parks around the world are themed around Marvel’s beloved heroes.

At Disney California Adventure park in Anaheim, California, the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction has been running since 2017, but the park will soon enjoy its own Marvel-themed area set to open in 2020.

Stark Industries will set up shop at Disneyland California Adventure.

Stark Industries will set up shop at Disneyland California Adventure.

“In California and Paris, Tony Stark is retrofitting two of his father’s Stark Industries sites into new hubs for training and innovation,” reads Disney’s blog

“Through partnerships with S.H.I.E.L.D., Pym Technologies, Masters of the Mystic Arts and the new Worldwide Engineering Brigade, The Avengers and their allies will forge new global campuses to champion the next generation of heroes.”

Currently undergoing a $2.2 billion multi-year expansion, Disneyland Paris revealed a new image for a permanent Marvel-themed area coming to its Walt Disney Studios Park in 2020, which will feature “heroic encounters” and yet-to-be-announced attractions and dining areas. 

Plus, the area will feature the previously announced, repurposed, Marvel-themed version of the park’s Rock‘n’ Roller Coaster, starring Aerosmith. Why not?

Concept art for the Marvel area at Disneyland Paris.

Concept art for the Marvel area at Disneyland Paris.

“This new area will allow guests to encounter the heroes in new and exciting ways, from the mystic arts of Doctor Strange to the gravity defying feats of Spider-Man,” reads Disney’s release.

“Guests will also experience the latest in Pym Technology with Ant-Man and Wasp and be wowed as Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Captain America and more leap into action on a moment’s notice.”

Hong Kong Disneyland has already seen the rollout of the Iron Man Experience, but will land a new interactive attraction, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle! in March 2019. You’ll fight against Arnim Zola and his army of Hydra Swarm-bots alongside the dream duo.

Concept art for Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle! at Hong Kong Disneyland.

Concept art for Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle! at Hong Kong Disneyland.

Exactly how interactive the attractions are remains to be announced, but Scot Drake, creative executive, Marvel Global Portfolio, said park attendees will take an “active role.”

“We are expanding this epic story universe in a way that, for the first time ever, will allow you to take on an active role alongside these Super Heroes,” said Drake in a press statement.

Sign us up. From looks of the Avengers: Endgame trailer, they’re gonna need some help.

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Meek Mill Drops A Victorious New Video As Championships Debuts At No. 1

Against all odds, the wins keep coming for Meek Mill.

The Philly native’s new album and first post-prison LP, Championships, has debuted at No. 1, Billboard reported on Monday (December 10). It marks the rapper’s second chart-topper, following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money. On top of that, Meek has also notched his first top 10 single, as the Drake-featuring “Going Bad” debuted at No. 6 on the Hot 100 chart.

As if that weren’t exciting enough, Meek doubled down on Monday’s celebratory news by dropping a video for “Intro.” The epic album opener — which samples Phil Collins’s classic “In The Air Tonight” — comes to life in the Kid Art-directed visual, as Meek sets the tone for his triumphant comeback. “We in the championship. We was down 3-1,” he says at the jump, making it clear that he’s overcome the odds. Of course, he didn’t rise from the trenches alone, and his loyal Dreamchasers crew gets plenty of screen time as well, as they revel in their freedom and celebrate their wins.

Taking to Instagram on Monday night, Meek shared a short video celebrating his chart-topping release. The caption: a simple but effective string of trophy emojis. What more is there to say?!

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20 Elf On The Shelf tweets that every exasperated parent can relate to

Parents are freaking done with Elf on the Shelf. 

The innocent holiday tradition started out as a cutesy way to keep their kids’ behavior in check ahead of the holidays, but has been criticized for being a capitalist marketing scheme to indoctrinate children into accepting the surveillance state. 

That, and parents are tired of coming up with creative ways to stage the impish — and unsettlingly creepy — stuffed doll. At this point, are you freezing your elf in a block of ice and artfully placing him in front of an Elsa doll for your kids, or for the Instagram clout? 

Here are a few tweets proving just how exasperated parents feel about the dreaded toy.

1. It’s a narc 

2. Are you creative enough?

3. Sometimes you just have to give in

4. Yikes

5. It’s a trap!

6. It’s a curse

7. A twist on the elf

8. Sometimes it backfires

9. Just get rid of it

10. Reach out to the higher ups

11. Some moms are just done

12. Here’s the tea

13. Add some backstory

14. Don’t let your kid fall in with the bad kids

15. The dog took care of it

16. Oops

17. Older brothers ruin everything

18. But not more than this toy ruined parents

19. Seriously, they’re pretty over it

20. We can all agree to get rid of this tradition

So this Christmas season, just give yourself a break and leave the elf on the damn shelf.

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Sarah Hyland Opens Up About Depression And Suicidal Thoughts After Rejected Kidney Transplant

Sarah Hyland hasn’t exactly been closed off about her health — the Modern Family actress has shared details about her kidney dysplasia, a kidney transplant, non-controllable weight fluctuations, and hospital selfies, to name just a few things she’s discussed in recent years — but she just took things to a whole new level in a new interview with Self.

In the digital cover story, a tearful Hyland revealed that she underwent a second kidney transplant in September 2017. That was just one of the six surgeries she’s had in the past 16 months, having also undergone treatment for endometriosis and a hernia.

In October 2016, Hyland learned that her body had begun rejecting the her first kidney transplant — donated by her dad in 2012 — and she began dialysis treatment (while also juggling her job on one of TV’s most popular sitcoms). In the meantime, her brother prepared to donate a kidney to his older sister.

The surgery was a success, but it seems like the deepest pain from all the trauma wasn’t physical; it was emotional. “When a family member gives you a second chance at life, and it fails, it almost feels like it’s your fault. And it’s not. But it does,” she said, reflecting on learning about her body’s rejection and the emotional distress that followed. “At that time, I was very depressed. For a long time I was contemplating suicide.”

Those feelings of being a constant “burden” on her family are what made it so difficult for Hyland to accept her brother’s organ upon learning he was a match. “When a second family member — someone who you’re supposed to look after, like a little brother — wants to give you a third chance at life, it’s scary because you don’t want to fail them.”

Watch Hyland show off her scars (located on her “KUPA,” or “kidney upper-pussy area”), talk about her amazing support system, and more in the emotional interview above.

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Albums Of The Year: Tierra Whack’s Dizzying World-Building Will Give You Whiplash

In Tierra Whack’s world, MTV stands for “men touch vaginas,” ABC means “all boys cry,” and BET stands for “bitches eat tacos.” That’s according to “Cable Guy,” one of the most accessible points of entry on her shapeshifting, impressive debut, Whack World, a swirling realm all her own where songs vanish just as unsystematically as they materialize. Welcome to an entirely new dimension.

Of course, “accessible” seems like the wrong word to describe Whack’s ephemeral wonder. It’s surely immediate, but that actually undersells how easy the adventurous Whack World — which is comprised of 15 songs, all precisely one minute long — is to get lost inside of. Without much warning, bouncy beats suddenly lift and yield to toy keyboards or looping carnival melodies, the last phrase Whack sings still hanging in that half second of empty space.

Barely four minutes in and somehow already a quarter of the way into the experience, she deadpans, “I’m not perfect but I improvise.” A few tracks later, on a song called “Fuck Off,” Whack grabs hold of a cartoonish country twang to spew hexes involving ass rashes. It’s hilarious. It’ll also give you whiplash if you’re not careful.

Whack grew up in Philadelphia and battle-rapped in her teens under the name Dizzle Dizz. But she wanted more. She idolized Lauryn Hill and André 3000 for their innovation and creative command. “I’m like, I want to be like them. I want to be an artist,” Whack told MTV News in an interview at the top of 2018.

Eventually, after completing school in Atlanta, she cut the wild “Mumbo Jumbo” after a trip to the dentist left her mouth swollen. The track is nearly post-vocal, with Whack’s garbled delivery becoming more important than anything she could be communicating clearly. It came out under her given name in late 2017, but it was just a primer for what she’d soon prove to be capable of.

Whack World splits that kind of bold pioneering into 15 shards of shrapnel; Whack adopts new musical personas as she sees fit and discards them in seconds. For music obsessives, this kind of brevity evokes a key, if potentially obsolete, question: Is Whack World an album or an EP? If 2018 really is the year of the EP, long defined as a music collection of less than 30 minutes, and if albums are basically already dead anyway, then Whack’s contribution snugly works as an EP. Right?

Or maybe albums are just shorter now. This year, Kanye West oversaw an entire fleet of new albums clocking in at barely over 20 minutes. Rappers like Valee, Earl Sweatshirt, and Chris Crack crammed more songs onto releases by keeping them lean, yet brimming with unique flavor. Or maybe it doesn’t matter at all. Whack World, naturally, is unconcerned by these semantic squabbles. The artist has world-building to do.

Whack focused on crafting something complete and holistic, including a full-album visual that also doubles as a short film. She partnered with directors Thibaut Duverneix and Mathieu Léger for a series of interconnected, moody vignettes that allow Whack to inhabit precisely who she wants to be for each track — say, a bloated insect victim on “Bugs Life” and a childlike songbird in “Pet Cemetery”‘s Sesame Street-esque puppet sequence. On release day, Whack also unveiled each clip (and therefore, each song) individually on Instagram in the ultimate act of meeting music fans where they already live. After you’ve experienced the songs via the visual, it’s hard to hear them without conjuring those striking images. And maybe that’s the point.

Last week, at Billboard‘s Women in Music event, Whack presented the Trailblazer award to another pioneer in the field of (e)motion pictures, Janelle Monáe. But then Monáe flipped the script. In a series of escalating praises that left Whack shaking her head in gracious disbelief, Monáe delivered a knockout compliment. “I just want to thank you for sacrificing your time to present this award to me,” she said, looking directly at Whack.

There’s truth there. From the time Whack walked out onstage until when she walked into the back together with Monáe, the whole encounter lasted about six minutes. That’s six Tierra Whack songs right there.

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