Well all the big breaking news came out of the Toy Group last night.
First, we have an answer to the last minute scratch of the best in breed Pekingese, Pequest General Tso-
Another midstate competitor, a Pekingese named General (Pequest General Tso) won its best of its breed competition Monday at Westminster and was slated to compete in the toy group. However, the 2-year-old dog was excused from the ring as judging began.
Dog show announcers on CNBC said the young dog was overwhelmed by the situation and his owner and handler, David Fitzpatrick of York County, opted to withdraw.
Interesting that the only source in all of Google News is from Pennlive. Don’t people care about dog breeding any more?
The second bit of big news is that the group winner, Shih Tzu Hallmark Jolei Rocket Power is co-owned by Patty Hearst. Yes, that one. From Associated Press in The Guardian–
“People move on,” she said, smiling at Rocket. “I guess people somehow imagine you don’t evolve in your life. I have grown daughters and grand-daughters and other things that normal people have.”
Hearst has been involved in the dog show world for more than 10 years. She said many are surprised to find out she’s moved on to play with pooches.
Listed as Patricia Hearst Shaw, she turns 61 on Friday and is one of Rocket’s three co-owners. She’s mostly worked with French bulldogs and one of them won an award ribbon earlier in the day.
As it turns out her daughters are cat people.
Last night’s other Group Winners-
Hound, Tashtins Lookin For Trouble, Beagle, 15 In.
Non-Sporting, Dawin Hearts On Fire, Standard Poodle
Herding, Bugaboo’s Picture Perfect, Old English Sheepdog
Tonight’s Groups are Sporting, Working, Terrier, and of course Best In Show. Coverage starts at 8 pm ET on USA. There will be no immediate repeat except for the Pacific feed, but it will be repeated at 8 am tomorrow on USA in case you miss it.
In a 20 minute segment of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” host John Oliver lights up an industry giant, tobacco and how it uses the courts to suppress the laws of the poorest countries to restrict cigarette sales and inform their citizens of the health hazards of tobacco use. John also introduces a new mascot and a tee shirt, Jeff the Diseased Lung, for an adverting campaign
As Last Week Tonight host John Oliver notes early in his incredible, 20-minute examination of the global battle being fought over tobacco advertising, the smoking rate in the United States has dropped from 43 percent in 1965 to 18 percent today thanks to strict laws outlawing cigarette ads. With America largely kicking its smoking habit, the tobacco industry has been forced to make up the revenues abroad, leading to court battles in countries like Australia, Uruguay and Togo, one of the 10 poorest nations in the world.
Oliver’s takedown also focuses on the extreme lengths companies like Philip Morris International are going to place their products in the hands of the youth, including a Marlboro-sponsored kiosk outside an Indonesian school where teens can purchase a single cigarette for a dime.
Countries have responded to Big Tobacco’s unorthodox marketing with laws that allow government to place grotesque images of smoker’s lung and blackened teeth on cigarette packaging, but even those measures have resulted in threats of billion-dollar lawsuits from the tobacco giants in international court.
One such battle is being waged in Togo, where Philip Morris International, a company with annual earnings of $80 billion, is threatening a nation with a GDP of $4.3 billion over their plans to add the harsh imagery to cigarette boxes, since much of the population is illiterate and therefore can’t read the warning labels.
That’s right, a company was able to sue a country over a public health measure through an international court. How the f*ck is that possible?
Apparently, PMI had dug up a treaty from 1993 that stated that Australia couldn’t seize Hong Kong-based companies’ properties, so before it started litigation, it moved its Australia business to its Hong Kong-based division and then sued claiming the property being seized was its trademarks on its cigarette packages.
But it wasn’t just PMI who came after Australia. Three countries – Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and Ukraine – also filed complaints with the World Trade Organization against Australia’s plain packaging law. However, it turns out, Ukraine has zero trade with Australia of any tobacco products. [..]
Not surprisingly, these complaints are fully backed by PMI, who will even cover some of the legal costs. But Big Tobacco doesn’t just go after big countries; the small South American country of Uruguay was also a target. Oliver points out that it’s a country we think so little about that the audience didn’t even notice he was deliberately highlighting the wrong country on a map to prove his point.
It is treaties like the WTO that harm struggling counties and the poorest populations around the world. President Barack Obama would like to further that harm with even bigger “free trade” like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). These treaties will cause job losses, lower wages, higher drug prices, endanger the environment and food supplies. The treaties also would give companies, like Phillip Morris International, even more power to sue governments if those governments’ policies cause a loss of profits, undermining democracy. They are being negotiated in secret and the public only knows about them because Wikileaks released drafts of some of the worst clauses that it had acquired.
CARMON: So I know that you have no intention of retiring, and correct me if I’m wrong, anytime soon. But I’m wondering what you want your successor to look like?
GINSBURG: My successor will be the choice of whatever president is sitting at that time. But I’m concerned about doing the job full steam. And I’ve said many times, once I sense that I am slipping, I will step down. Because this is a very intense job. It is by far the best and the hardest job I’ve ever had. And it takes a lot of energy and staying power to do it right. So that is when I will step down, when I feel I can no longer do the job full steam.
Suppose that by enacting a particular law we’d increase the U.S.Gross Domestic Product. But almost all that growth would go to the richest 1percent.
The rest of us could buy some products cheaper than before. But those gains would be offset by losses of jobs and wages.
This is pretty much what “free trade” has brought us over the last two decades.
I used to believe in trade agreements. That was before the wages of most Americans stagnated and a relative few at the top captured just about all the economic gains.
The fact is, trade agreements are no longer really about trade. Worldwide tariffs are already low. Big American corporations no longer make many products in the United States for export abroad.
To the extent big American-based corporations any longer make stuff for export, they make most of it abroad and then export it from there, for sale all over the world – including for sale back here in the United States.
In fact, today’s “trade agreements” should really be called “global corporate agreements” because they’re mostly about protecting the assets and profits of these global corporations rather than increasing American jobs and wages. The deals don’t even guard against currency manipulation by other nations.
According to Economic Policy Institute, the North American Free Trade Act cost U.S. workers almost 700,000 jobs, thereby pushing down American wages.
Since the passage of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, America’s trade deficit with Korea has grown more than 80 percent, equivalent to a loss of more than 70,000 additional U.S. jobs.
The old-style trade agreements of the 1960s and 1970s increased worldwide demand for products made by American workers, and thereby helped push up American wages.
The new-style global corporate agreements mainly enhance corporate and financial profits, and push down wages.
That’s why big corporations and Wall Street are so enthusiastic about the upcoming Trans Pacific Partnership – the giant deal among countries responsible for 40 percent of the global economy.
That deal would give giant corporations even more patent protection overseas. It would also guard their overseas profits.
And it would allow them to challenge any nation’s health, safety, and environmental laws that stand in the way of their profits – including our own.
Global deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership will boost the profits of Wall Street and big corporations, and make the richest 1 percent even richer.
Third Way (h/t TPM), a Democratic pro-trade think tank, has released a new study, “Are Modern Trade Deals Working?” It examines the various “free trade” deals the U.S. has signed since 2000 to conclude that 13 of 17 have led to an improvement in our goods (not including services; see more below) trade balance with the countries involved, giving a net improvement over the 17 agreements studied of $30.2 billion per year.
I did a similar analysis of this very question (though in less detail than the Third Way study) in 2012. Unlike the Third Way report, my post included all U.S. free trade agreements (rather than starting in 2001 like Third Way) as well as the effect of the 2000 agreement for Permanent Normalized Trade Relations (PNTR) with China. So, compared to the Third Way study, my post includes the FTAs with Israel, Canada, and Mexico, but did not consider the Panama FTA, which had not yet come into effect when I posted. My conclusion was essentially the same as Third Way’s, that the effects of the agreements on our trade in goods were usually positive, but of small size (the effect of the Israel FTA was also small). Because the Third Way study begins in 2001, however, it omits the impacts of NAFTA and PNTR with China. However, as my post showed, they are the most important by far.
This fact is not lost on opponents of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Lori Wallach of Public Citizen Global Trade Watch told the Associated Press that “studies such as Third Way’s make a big deal out of modest trade improvements with countries like Panama, and gloss over huge trade deficits with major trading partners such as South Korea, Mexico and Canada.” She’s right.
In 1993, the year before NAFTA went into effect, the United States had a surplus with Mexico on trade in goods of $1.7 billion. In 1995, it went to a deficit of $15.8 billion, and in 2014 the goods trade deficit was $53.8 billion, down from 2007′s peak of $74.8 billion. This was in sharp contrast with the analysis of Gary Hufbauer and Jeffrey Schott, who predicted trade surpluses on the order of $9-12 billion through the 2000s, even as they admitted that the peso was overvalued (it collapsed in value in the December 1994 “Tequila crisis”).
Meanwhile, the balance of trade in goods with Canada went from a deficit of $10.8 billion in 1993 to $34.0 billion in 2014. Note that the U.S. had a peak deficit of $78.3 billion in 2008, which collapsed to $21.6 billion in 2009.
In 2000, the year PNTR was adopted, the United States had an $83.9 billion goods trade deficit with China. In May of that year, the International Trade Commission (h/t David Cay Johnston) released a report estimating that the trade balance would worsen by a further $4.3 billion. According to the article, the U.S. Trade Representative and the White House both criticized this study strongly. And in fact, the 2001 deficit fell to $83.1 billion. However, in 2002 it was $103.1 billion, an increase more than four times the ITC prediction, and by 2014 it had grown to $342.6 billion.
By including trade in goods but not trade in services, Third Way is admirably the stacking the deck against its own position. It points out that the U.S. has a global surplus in trade in services of $232 billion in 2014, including a $45 billion surplus with Canada and Mexico. However, it doesn’t mention that the U.S. goods trade deficit was $737 billion in 2014, or that the country’s overall 2014 trade deficit was $505 billion, up from $477 billion in 2013.
The ultimate question is whether TPP and TTIP are going to be more like the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement, or more like NAFTA and PNTR. Considering that the TPP includes all the NAFTA countries, Australia, Chile, Japan, and six others, comprising “nearly 40 percent of global GDP,” I think it’s safe to assume that it will have a much bigger impact than the FTAs with Australia or Chile, for instance. Similarly, since the European Union has an economy about the same size as the U.S. economy, I believe the TTIP will also have big consequences.
Moreover, we have to remember that these are much more than trade agreements. Both of them have increased protections for investors, patents, trademarks, and other intellectual property, and in both of them the U.S. is advocating the inclusion of investor-state dispute settlement so companies can sue governments through arbitration rather than courts, something that has proven more favorable for companies vis-a-vis both governments and consumers. So, in addition to the negative effects on U.S. workers that we would expect on the basis of the Stolper-Samuelson Theorem, all signatory countries are likely to suffer from higher prices for medicine and assaults on their regulations through investor-state dispute settlement.
Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungoverwe’ve been bailed outwe’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.
This Day in History
Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer gets life in prison; House lawmakers pick a president; Garry Kasparov beats IBM’s Deep Blue at chess; NBA star Michael Jordan born; The Eagles release their greatest hits.
The young Puccini decided to dedicate his life to opera after seeing a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida in 1876. In his later life, he would write some of the best-loved operas of all time: La Boheme (1896), Tosca (1900), Madame Butterfly (1904) and Turandot (left unfinished when he died in 1906). Not one of these, however, was an immediate success when it opened. La Boheme, the now-classic story of a group of poor artists living in a Paris garret, earned mixed reviews, while Tosca was downright panned by critics.
The original version of the opera, in two acts, had its premiere on February 17, 1904, at La Scala in Milan. It was very poorly received despite the presence of such notable singers as soprano Rosina Storchio, tenor Giovanni Zenatello and baritone Giuseppe De Luca in the lead roles. This was due in large part to the late completion and inadequate time for rehearsals. Puccini revised the opera, splitting the second act into two acts and making other changes. On May 28, 1904, this version was performed in Brescia and was a huge success.
The opera is set in the city of Nagasaki. Japan’s best-known opera singer Tamaki Miura won international fame for her performances as Cio-Cio San; her statue, along with that of Puccini, can be found in Nagasaki’s Glover Garden.
Butterfly is a staple of the standard operatic repertoire for companies around the world and it is the most-performed opera in the United States, where it ranks as Number 1 in Opera America’s list of the 20 most-performed operas in North America.
Is it that time of year again? I look at the snow on the ground and while it’s not quite as bad as the Blizzard of ’13 (which basically took me out for 4 days) there’s still a lot of it. What could be better than to be in a nice warm arena with some cute doggies?
New breeds? Sure we have new breeds, first of all the Coton de Tulear which is basically another one of those dust mop dogs, all hair with tiny eyes and nose peeking out of the fluff. It will be competing in the ‘Non-Sporting’ group which is a catch all for the breeds who have no other purpose than to be, well… dogs. Second we have the Wire Haired Vizla which is a Vizla with a curly coat. They will compete in the ‘Sporting Group’.
Tonight’s coverage is on CNBC starting at 8 pm ET and will cover the Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding Groups. I’ll try to put up some pretty tables shortly but I’ve been busy most of the day and they don’t post the brackets until the breed judging is done (around 4 pm).
There will be a repeat at 11 pm (so pretty much immediately) on CNBC and at 8 am tomorrow on USA which will cover the final night.