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Thursday, December 27, 2018

The U.S Subsidizes Chinese E-Commerce Postage So They Can Ship For Free

So I've started trying to divest myself of stuff. We have a slew of very cool vintage, antique, and ethnic clothing, knickknacks etc that we accumulated over the years during all our travels abroad.  At one point in time, eBay was a great option for selling. Actually, up until Barack Obama became President, a cool vintage item could start a bidding war that netted some very hefty prices. Then the economy tanked and no-one was spending much money on those kinds of things, so I stopped selling. Now I'm back at it and was gob-smacked to discover that people were selling goods like vintage ethnic hand fans for under a dollar with free shipping to boot. I couldn't figure out how they could make any profit with 10% eBay fees deducted plus the cost of postage until a friend asked if they were being shipped from China, and indeed the bulk of the listings for "vintage fans" were being sent from China. It made even less sense considering how much it costs to post something overseas. Then she sent me the link to a 2017 Forbes article regarding shipping from China, and suddenly it all made sickening sense.

Did you know that the Chinese receive subsidized postage?? Courtesy of the good old U.S.A?? I didn't.

According to the Forbes article:

These super low shipping rates are being subsidized by the U.S. Postal Service. Yes, the United States and, in a roundabout way, the U.S. taxpayer is footing the bill so that Chinese merchants can ship their products to the USA for dirt cheap, essentially losing millions to support a dynamic where domestic American businesses are being undercut by foreign merchants who are immune to any and all intellectual property and consumer safety laws.

And when did this happen? Under Obama's watch!

In 2011, the U.S. Postal Service made special agreements with the national postal carriers of China and Hong Kong (and subsequently South Korea and Singapore) to allow tracking-enabled packages not exceeding 36” or weighing over 4.4 pounds to be sent to the U.S. for extremely low rates. They called this shipping option the ePacket, and the rates are so low that it's cheaper to ship small parcels from China to an American city than it is to send that same parcel domestically.

So basically, shipping a 1 pound package from New York to Beijing cost around $50 back in 2017, whereas the cost for a Chinese merchant to ship that same 1 pound package to NYC was a mere $3.66! No doubt, the U.S. postage rates are more now, and the Chinese are still offering free shipping.

Thank you Obama.

The shipping inequality has created a huge trade imbalance especially for those international e-Commerce businesses operating in this country. There's no way to compete.  And it costs our country money:

The impact of this international postal rate imbalance for the USPS is dire. As pointed out in an article on the Washington Post, the USPS loses around a dollar on each ePacket coming in from China. The USPS Inspector General admitted that his agency lost $75 million handling mail from foreign shippers in 2014 alone.

Who knows how much more we have lost in the four years since.

And did you know that international postal rates are set by the United Nations?? I didn't.
International postage rates for incoming packages are set by a U.N. agency called the United Postal Union (UPU). This is a body that was established in 1874 -- subsequently being absorbed into the U.N. -- that is currently made up of 192 countries which meets every four years to revise its policy and set new terminal fees, with each country getting one vote a piece. While the voting system of the UPU is egalitarian, the shipping rates that it sets are not.

This is crazy. Thank God Trump is trying to do something about trade imbalance. Not that there is much we can do about the shipping travesty, since apparently we could do away with the ePackets, but then China would revert back to the UPU fees, which are even less.

Read the Forbes article for all the details re how unfair this all is. It will make your blood boil.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Air Force Vet Brian Kolfage Sets Up Go Fund Me Page To Build The Border Wall

So if the Democrats refuse to finance a border wall, we the people will. At least that's what Brian Kolfage, Jr is aiming for.

Kolfage is a triple amputee Air Force vet who has set up a Go Fund Me page to pay for the wall. He says that if the 63 million or so Trump voters paid $80 each, the wall would be funded.

With all the scammers out there you wonder if this is legit or not? It seems pretty legit to me. On his Go Fund Me page he has a slew of information on how this will all work, and ways to contact him, including his Facebook page.
A majority of Americans who voted to elect President Donald J Trump voted for him to Make America Great Again. President Trump’s main campaign promise was to BUILD THE WALL. And as he’s followed through on just about every promise so far, this wall project needs to be completed still.
As a veteran who has given so much, 3 limbs, I feel deeply invested to this nation to ensure future generations have everything we have today. Too many Americans have been murdered by illegal aliens and too many illegals are taking advantage of the United States taxpayers with no means of ever contributing to our society.
I have grandparents who immigrated to America legally, they did it the correct way and it's time we uphold our laws, and get this wall BUILT!It’s up to Americans to help out and pitch in to get this project rolling.
“If the 63 million people who voted for Trump each pledge $80, we can build the wall.” That equates to roughly 5Billion Dollars, even if we get half, that's half the wall. We can do this. Democrats are going to stall this project by every means possible and play political games to ensure President Trump doesn’t get his victory. They'd rather see President Trump fail, than see America succeed. However, if we can fund a large portion of this wall, it will jumpstart things and will be less money Trump has to secure from our politicians.
This won’t be easy, but it’s our duty as citizens, just as the greatest generation did with war bonds. This needs to be shared every single day by each of you on social media. We can do it, and we can help President Trump make America safe again!
Contact all the media and ask them to run this story. We are working hard to make this happen but we cannot do it without the mainstream media.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------• How do you know this is not a scam? I'm using my real name, my real information, you can contact me and hold me accountable. People who try to scam you will not be upfront with their information, they will hide and not use their name. I have a public figure Facebook page with a blue check mark issued by facebook that verifies my identity. I'm a retired United States Air Force member who was wounded in Iraq, and lost 3 limbs. I have a website BrianKolfage.com where you can verify more about me. I will respond. I've been on Fox News many times, you can see I'm credible and a real person. The Gary Sinise Foundation also built me and my family a home. Do your research before donating, and contact me if you have any questions.

• 100% of your donations will go to the Trump Wall. If for ANY reason we don't reach our goal we will refund your donation.

• We are working with a law firm on a legal document that will bind the government to using the funds for the border wall itself, nothing else.

• We will hold all funds and not release a single penny until we have all legal aspects covered to ensure our money goes only to the wall.

• If we don’t reach our goal or come significantly close we will refund every single penny.

• How will we get the funds to the right place? We have contacted the Trump Administration to secure a point of contact where all funds will go upon completion. When get this information secured we will update. We have many very high level contacts already helping.

• Republican Representative Steven Palazzo of Mississippi is introducing legislation to direct the Treasury Department to issue government savings bonds which would allow us to fund the wall this method. This is just one option, there are others on the table being discussed.
LET'S GET THIS WALL BUILT! And make America Safe Again!



In just a few days he's raised $393,000 as of this writing. And it's a trending campaign. People are donating anywhere from $5.00 to $500.00.
To donate on Go Fund Me.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

New York's Naked Cowboy Sings Trumps Praises In Time's Square- Video

I love it when someone you would never think was a Trump supporter actually is.

New York's Robert John Burck, aka the Naked Cowboy, performs in New York's Times Square with a cowboy hat clad in tight skivvies with Trump on his rump, guitar in hand, and entertains tourists. He also happens to be married to a Mexican woman who was an undocumented immigrant, but has no qualms about singing the praises of building a wall.

Avi Yemini, an Aussie Jewish blogger met up with him and posted this very funny pro-Trump song-- Sounds Like A Good Plan To Me.

Enjoy!  I had a good laugh. Takes a second to load on my blog.

Apparently he makes a pretty darn good living at it.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Cuba's New Law Censoring All Forms Of The Arts

If you thought Cuba was getting a little less dictatorial with the passing of the Castro dynasty, and that there might be some hope for change, think again.

The Cuban commie government led by Miguel Díaz-Canel apparently has passed a law censoring artistic expression in all art forms. Decree Law 349 was allegedly established to prevent offensive, vulgar or mediocre [whatever the heck that could be] works, but it is substantially more far reaching than that. You actually have to get permission from the government to show your work in public and private spaces. It also has to pass cultural and revolutionary muster or your project could be shut down.

Some of the no-nos that could get you busted:
a) Use of national symbols that contravene current legislation; b) pornography; c) violence; d) sexist, vulgar and obscene language; e) discrimination due to skin color, gender, sexual orientation, disability and any other harm to human dignity; f) that attempts against the development of childhood and adolescence; g) any other that violates the legal provisions that regulate the normal development of our society in cultural matters.

In other words, pretty much anything and everything.

Government sponsored artists have no issue with 349, however there has been a backlash by independent artists, and as a result the government has said it will consult with those opposing the decree to see how it should be "rolled out".
Ever since Decree Law 349 was first published in July in the government’s Gaceta Oficial , there has been plenty of pushback on the island and abroad and a flurry of meetings between government cultural officials and artists, who are still hoping for modifications. The law requires prior government approval for artists, musicians, writers and performers who want to present their work in any spaces open to the public, including private homes and businesses.
But beyond that, it also proposes fining painters and other artists who commercialize their art without government permission. Among the more chilling provisions is the prospect that “supervising inspectors” could review cultural events and shut them down if they don’t believe they meet government standards. Individuals or businesses hiring artists who don’t have prior approval also can be sanctioned.
In addition to shutting them down, they can also seize their personal belongings. Not that there would be much to confiscate from someone in piss-poor Cuba.

And if you want to sell your art? You have to get government approval for that too, although that probably has more to do with the government wanting a piece of the pie rather than artistic control. After all, anyone working for a foreigner during Castro's reign had to pay the government in U.S. dollars and the employee would then get paid in Cuban pesos.

And like a good commie country, some of those protesting have been detained. I wouldn't expect anything less.

More detailed info here.

Other sources:  Miami Herald , Reuters

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Minneapolis Hate Crime Hotline- Perspective From The Left and Right

Last year Minneapolis, Minnesota- home to many Somali Muslims one of which is newly elected Democratic Rep Ilhan Omar- created a hate-crime/harassment hotline.

"Since the general election, many of us have experienced, witnessed firsthand or heard of actions of: racism, xenophobia, sexism and bigotry directed at people here and in cities across the United States," Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights Director Velma Korbel wrote in a statement posted on the city's website. "In no uncertain terms, hate-motivated speech and actions have no place in Minneapolis nor will they be tolerated."
Not surprisingly, the left and the right have diametrically opposing opinions on what amounts to a snitch hotline for the overly sensitive, accessible through the city's 311 hot line  service. We all know that the only people who become super offended by any criticism of their religion are the Muslims, and it was no doubt created with them in mind, probably spurred on by Council On American Islamic Relations (CAIR).  But the only people who appear to be concerned are those of us who realize that this kind of action will eventually lead to the further erosion of free speech. We are already being censored and censured on social media outlets for even mentioning the word "Shariah". I'm not talking about speech that incites physical violence against anyone, that is an abomination, but criticism is not a hate crime, though it seems to be headed that way if the lefties have their way.

So, if you google, you will find a slew of the usual conservative voices opining about the "Shariah hot line", and then you have the alternative weekly left-leaning rag Minneapolis City Pages calling Shariah Law a "myth", and excoriating those of us who think it's not a myth and potentially the beginning of something dangerous.

Pete Kotz of City Pages wrote in response to Jihad Watch claiming that“This is a helpline for Muslims to report incidents of Islamophobia, including, no doubt, rude remarks that are not criminal, and accurate analysis of the motivating ideology behind jihad terror activity.”:
The hotline, of course, does nothing of the sort. People can still speak freely from the depths of their anal cavity, peddling all the theological nuttery they can slobber. It just can’t rise to the level of a crime. Hence the name “hate crime hotline.” The myth has already been debunked by Snopes and Politifact. But the righteous are not easily deterred by accuracy or cognitive limitations.
It might not now, but no matter how much he mocks those who believe, we don't know for sure what will happen when we lose the ability to freely criticize.

I remember

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Why More Countries Refuse To Sign The UN's Compact On Migration

There's a new non-binding pact that the United Nations is hoping member states will sign at its meeting on December 10th and 11th in Morocco- it basically claims that migration is a universal human right. Yes, a human right. The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, as it's called, encourages taking in any and all migrants and refugees wishing to move to another country for whatever reason.
4. Refugees and migrants are entitled to the same universal human rights and fundamental freedoms, which must be respected, protected and fulfilled at all times. 

Fearing that signing the agreement will remove their own sovereign right to control their own borders the following have opted to not sign the pact.
The United States, Austria, Australia, Croatia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Israel, Poland, the Czech Republic, Italy, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Switzerland.
This is not a definitive list, and some might actually vote on it later.

One of the other reasons for pulling out is that the agreement doesn't really distinguish between legal and illegal immigration, and refugees and economic migrants.

Gatestone Insitute has some interesting information, but is a tad dated since it was written back in early November.

And even though a commentary on Forbes explains why there is really nothing to fear since it is technically non-binding and voluntary, and just really making sure that migrants are treated humanely - i.e. don't shoot them and provide healthcare if needed- why is it 30 plus pages long?  Couldn't they have just said that?

And Lorne Gunter in the Toronto Sun explains why it's potentially dangerous.
The danger of the Global Compact for Migration, which international delegates will sign next week in Marrakesh, Morocco, is not that it will enable some clandestine international bureaucracy or judiciary to dictate immigration policy over the objections of sovereign states. It’s that it will enable “progressives” within each nation’s government to liberalize domestic refugee and immigration laws using the excuse that “the UN made us do it.”

I have no issues with legal immigration, and needy refugees, but I do have a problem with anything the U.N. is involved with. And as far as migration being a human right. No, it's not. Immigration/migration is a privilege endowed by the country you are seeking to move to. And you are bound to assimilate if you are granted that privilege, which doesn't often happen. Look at Europe and the multitude of 'no go' zones. No wonder Europe is hesitant to sign a convoluted agreement.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Al-Shabaab Kills Somali Preacher and Followers Over Music

Somalia's al-Shabaab continue to exact their special kind of barbaric Islamist punishment on those they believe are not following their kind of Islam.

Two attacks on the same day. A car bomb killing at least 6 and injuring more in Mogadishu. Apparently targeting soldiers there. The other attack was by two suicide bombers who killed an Islamic Imam along with 17 or more followers. Apparently the cleric was playing music during a religious ceremony.

Two suicide bombers exploded in front of the preacher's residence, which is also a Sufi shrine, and then four gunmen stormed the building and opened fire, said Ahmed Awale, a police officer in Galkayo. At least 20 others were injured, he said.

Somali security forces responded and there was a battle with heavy gunfire in the building. Three attackers were killed in the shootout and one was captured alive, said Awale.

Somalia's extremist rebels, al-Shabab, have claimed responsibility for the attack in Galkayo.

The attack killed Sheikh Abdiweli Ali Elmi, who has hundreds of followers and has been controversial because videos show him and his followers chanting religious poems with music, which some extremists say is not Islamic. Sheikh Elmi had defended his actions, saying music is not contrary to Islamic teachings.

Note of interest- This is the same country that Democratic member-elect of the U.S. house of representatives Ilhan Omar hails from. Not to say she has any affiliation with al-Shabaab. It's just interesting she chooses to still wear an hijab.

Source: Miami Herald

Friday, December 07, 2018

Ben & Jerry Goes Off The Liberal Deep End with #Resist Ice Cream

Was never a Ben & Jerry's fan even when I did eat dairy, but their latest political stunt would most definitely put me off their ice-cream if I did have a penchant for it. 

Back in October, the Vermont ice cream company led by two old lefties launched their #resist ice-cream, effectively thumbing their collective noses at probably half their customer base.

Colorful, though not very appealing, art work.

Like many Donald Trump haters they are part of the #resist movement. You know, those liberal folk out there actively lobbying to get the duly elected president impeached, or whatever it takes to get him out of office. I suppose it probably also includes the #NeverTrumpers- or Republican traitors as I call them- though I'm not sure to what extent, if at all.  Anyway, Ben and Jerry decided they would create an ice cream flavor to reflect their #resist sentiments, so they came up with Pecan Resist. 

From their website:

Together, Pecan Resist!
Alongside all those nutty chunks, this pint packs a powerful message under its lid: together, we can build a more just and equitable tomorrow. We can peacefully resist the Trump administration’s regressive and discriminatory policies and build a future that values inclusivity, equality, and justice for people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, refugees, and immigrants. Pecan Resist supports four organizations that are working on the front lines of the peaceful resistance, building a world that supports their values. Get to know them, then find Pecan Resist here!
Those four organizations:
Color of Change
Color of Change designs campaigns powerful enough to end practices that unfairly hold Black people back, and champions solutions that move everyone forward.
Honor the Earth
Honor the Earth works on issues of climate change, renewable energy, and environmental justice with Indigenous communities.
Neta
Neta is one of the fastest-growing independent media platforms led by people of color along the Texas-Mexico border.
Women's March
Women’s March is committed to harnessing the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change.
That last organization is what really got people up in arms, and rightfully so. Speaking of regressive and discriminatory policies, and lack of equality- the head of Women's March is none other than Linda Sarsour. That rabid anti-Semitic Muslim Linda Sarsour. Yep, the so-called feminist who wears an hijab which demonstrates just how ultra religious she is, and is actually a symbol of oppression. And remember, it's the uber religious ones who believe in Shariah law, which certainly does not promote equality, and is as regressive and discriminatory a law as it gets. They kill gays under Shariah. They call for adulterers to be stoned. Women are worth half what a man is worth.

Sarsour is also a staunch supporter of Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan, who manages to stay on Twitter even after calling Jews "termites."  In the past he has said:
“Hitler was a very great man” in a 1984 speech or that in 1985 he warned Jews: “And don’t you forget, when it’s God who puts you in the ovens, it’s forever!”
Sarsour recently told American Muslims not to "humanize" Jews. And she happens to love The Muslim Brotherhood.

As for co-president of Women's March Tamika Mallory:
In a February 2018 speech, Farrakhan said, “Jews were responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out, turning men into women and women into men. White folks are going down. And Satan is going down. And Farrakhan, by God’s grace, has pulled the cover off of that Satanic Jew, and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through.”

Mallory attended the speech. She once posted a picture of herself embraced by Farrakhan, referring to him as “the GOAT” (Greatest Of All Time). So when she pointedly refused to condemn Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic and anti-LGBT comments after being asked, it was no surprise.

But Ben and Jerry seem to have no qualms about supporting these women even though what they espouse is counter to what their Pecan Resist mission statement promotes.

Liberals are hypocrites so maybe I shouldn't be surprised.