How “New NAFTA” Impacts Your Bank Account

After months of negotiations, the U.S. and Mexico have reached a preliminary deal that paves the way for a new NAFTA. This deal, called the U.S.-Mexico Trade Agreement, has especially huge implications for the stock market and the auto industry. This new agreement lasts for 16 years, with a review period scheduled every 6 years.

New Auto Rules

Under the new agreement, 75% of the parts in any car sold in North America must be made in either the U.S. or Mexico. The deal also attempts to address wage disparity. Companies often outsource production from Canada and the United States to Mexico, where labor costs much less. Now, workers paid at least $16 and hour must produce 40% of auto parts in cars sold in North America.

The Future of Agriculture

According to CNBC, “Trump said Mexican officials promised the country would start buying as much U.S. farm product as possible.”

No details have emerged regarding which farm products the deal covers. Increased demand from American farmers may revitalize a struggling industry. However, agricultural tariffs or subsidies could change the prices we face at the grocery store.

Stocks Rally

This morning, stocks in all three NAFTA countries opened higher upon anticipation of a successful trade deal. CNN reports that “the Dow rose more than 250 points and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq hit new highs.”

In light of the bilateral agreement, Canada will join negotiations to iron out the future of NAFTA. In a statement, the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs said, “Canada is encouraged by the continued optimism shown by our negotiating partners.”

Trump and Putin Meet Again in Finland Summit

President Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin met in Helsinki, Finland Monday morning. This is the first one-on-one meeting between the U.S. and Russian leaders since 2010.

Trump chose a diplomatic route over mounting pressure to “get tough” on Putin. He then blamed poor U.S. foreign policy in past administrations.

“Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!”

Trump said in his press briefing on Monday.

Trump was referring to the ongoing probe by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller into allegations that Trump colluded with Russia to rig the 2016 presidential election. The investigation continues after over a year despite no evidence being found. As a result, this has led to several lawmakers’ calling for the investigation to end.

Uproar All Around

After the summit, Trump held a press conference with Putin. He said the meetings were “deeply productive.” The president said progress was made on several issues and added that both countries are to blame for the deteriorated relations in recent years.

Trump also refused to stand by the intelligence community’s position that Russia interfered in the elections. He declared that Putin gave him a “strong and powerful denial.”

This statement caused a wide range of angry reactions from both sides of the aisle. Sen. John McCain issued a statement calling Trump “not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin.” He also said that Trump’s remarks are “a recent low point in the history of the American Presidency.”

Former CIA director John Brennan took it even further. He accused the President of treason.

“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you??? [sic]”

Trump ended his statement with it would be a good idea to be on good terms with Russia.

4th of July Terror Plot Foiled in Cleveland

A man pledging loyalty to Al Qaeda planned to attack Cleveland’s 4th of July parade. He hoped to kill members of the military. Thankfully, his plan was thwarted by local and federal officials over the weekend after a months-long investigation.

Consequently, Demetrius Pitts was arrested at 10 a.m. Sunday morning by a federal joint terrorism task force. Pitts had been under investigation by federal agencies since 2017 after he allegedly posted online messages supporting Al Qaeda. He also called for violence against members of the military.

Pitts posted on Facebook:

“Muslims need to start training like this every day. We need to know how to shoot guns, throw hand grenades, hand to hand combat. What would hit them at their core? Blow up in the, have a bomb blow up in the 4th of July parade.”

Stopped in the nick of time

Pitts was seen going to downtown Cleveland last week to conduct reconnaissance at several locations in preparation for his attack. After his visit, he continued to make threatening statements. He said he wanted to “chop off heads and hands,” a standard practice in Islamic terrorist killings.

According to U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman, Pitts had planned to use a van filled with explosives. He intended to target both the public watching holiday fireworks and destroy buildings downtown.

In addition to his bombs, Pitts discussed giving remote control cars packed with explosives to the children of military members, in the hopes that he could harm them and their families.

The would-be terrorist was radicalized in the United States and now could face up to 20 years in prison for his foiled plot.

As a result, authorities encourage people to speak up if they see something amiss during any parades or festivities over the holiday week.

How a Trade War with China Would Impact You

In an aggressively worded statement, China’s commerce ministry blasted President Donald Trump’s order to prepare tariffs on $200 billion of imported Chinese goods. The commerce ministry threatened decisive retaliation, but remained vague on the details.

China will “adopt comprehensive measures in quality and quantity in order to make strong countermeasures,” according to the statement. The Chinese government announced its readiness to “defend the interests of the Chinese people and enterprises” against tariffs the United States may enact.

So far, China has instated only minor retaliatory measures. After Trump announced his tariff plan, China announced 25% tariffs on U.S. goods, including soybeans and beef. The government also ended talks that would have allowed them to import more U.S. goods, particularly farm goods and natural gas.

An Uneven Playing Field

Last year, the U.S. bought four times more from China than China did from the United States. Experts agree that any Chinese import tariffs levied against the U.S. will not be the game-changers that China intends. China depends on the United States for its burgeoning export business.

China’s new refusal to purchase soybeans and beef has already hurt American agriculture, particularly in the farm regions of the Midwest. However, the real impact of these taxes will strike in the consumer goods sector.

How Tariffs Will Impact You

Last year Americans bought over $167 billion in computers and electronics made in China, with another $40 billion in other electronic devices. A trade war between the U.S. and China could lead to Americans paying more for computers, phones, and other devices. The electronics in your car, your kitchen, and your workplace could all become more expensive.

One impact of the tariffs might appear in your refrigerator. Should Trump and Congress enact tariffs on aluminum, beverage packaging prices will increase. Trump proposed a 10% tariff on aluminum and a 25% tariff on steel. Such taxes would increase the cost of soda and beer.

If and when China retaliates, Trump won’t back down. He said Friday that he will institute even more tariffs if the Chinese follow through on their plan to set tariffs of their own.

Despite the controversy, Trump had kind words for China’s leader. “Look, he’s my friend, President Xi. He’s a great man, he’s a wonderful guy, but at some point we have to straighten it out,” the President told Fox News on Monday.

Trump Tells Hannity North Korea to Start Denuclearization “Immediately”

After a historic summit in Singapore between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, the president reported in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity that he believes the North Korean government will begin disassembling their nation’s nuclear program “virtually immediately.”

“I just think that we are now, we are going to start the process of denuclearization of North Korea, and I believe that he’s going back and will start it virtually immediately—and he’s already indicated that and you look at what he’s done.”

A Step in the Right Direction

Trump and Kim held multiple meetings in Singapore. This is a significant step in a peace process that has at times been rather thorny. After the summit, a reporter asked Trump if Kim had agreed to take down his nuclear program. Trump replied that “We are starting that process very quickly.”

The president also stated he would be ending the joint military exercises between South Korea and American troops stationed in the area. In return, Trump said Kim agreed to destroy a major missile-testing site. The two leaders signed a joint declaration stating the U.S. commits to certain “security guarantees” to North Korea as well.

It is unknown whether North Korea will keep their end of the mutual agreement. The president was hopeful when leaving the summit, telling Hannity that they “got along from the beginning.”

The agreement was a far cry from mounting tensions in recent weeks. Trump and Jong-Un traded barbs back and forth, and the summit almost didn’t occur. Trump stated that he “hated” to engage in the back-and-forth rhetoric, the U.S. “had no choice” when negotiating with North Korea.

Trump says that Kim Jong-Un “wants to get [denuclearization] done…and we should all want that to happen.”

White House Plans to Continue Trade Actions Against China

The trade disputes between the United States and China will continue according to the White House. It announced 25% tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods on Tuesday morning.

This comes after previous reports that tensions were cooling between the two countries. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin previously said that tariffs would be suspended while the U.S. and China continue trade talks.

Chian is specifically concerned about the telecom company ZTE. The U.S. crippled it last month with an export ban after the company violated sanctions against North Korea. According to the Trump administration, ZTE is continuing to do business with North Korea.

A Compromise Reached?

On Friday evening, Trump tweeted that he had closed ZTE down “then let it reopen with high-level security guarantees, change of management and board, must purchase U.S. parts and pay a $1.3 Billion fine.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping asked for Trump’s help in easing sanctions on the telecom giant, and Trump saw an opportunity for leverage in the deal.

Several lawmakers, however, are calling for Trump to completely put ZTE out of business. They view the company a threat to national security. Democrat Senator Chris Van Hollen tweeted to Trump that “if you won’t put our security before Chinese jobs, Congress will act on a bipartisan basis to stop you.”

China also announced its own plan to levy tariffs on U.S. goods. This is in retaliation to American advisorsc alling for tougher actions against China. The U.S. wants equal footing and opportunities in Chinese markets, much like the Chinese have in the United States. China, however, hasn’t followed through on its share of concessions.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross is scheduled to visit China in early June to continue meeting with officials in an effort to find common ground.

ZTE is considered a major threat to American security. Sign this petition to tell President Trump not to concede to China on ZTE!

Trump Seeks South Korean Leader’s Opinion on North Korea’s Policy Shift

On Saturday, President Donald Trump called South Korean President Moon Jae-in to discuss concerns that Kim Jong Un is no longer serious about denuclearizing North Korea as promised.

Trump asked Moon’s opinion on North Korea’s recent change to a more defensive position. Last week Pyongyang canceled a meeting with South Korea. They even threatened to call off the upcoming summit between Kim Jong Un and President Trump.

The moves are puzzling. North Korea previously agreed to the summit and seemed open to the idea of denuclearizing. National Security Advisor John Bolton, however, warned that this could happen. According to Bolton and other officials, the North Koreans can’t be trusted to hold up their end of the agreement.

Not the First Time North Korea Has Backed Out

Bolton’s warnings seem to have some merit. According to one U.S. official, the North Koreans have already reneged on promises made during the agreement signed at the North-South Korea summit. Though they agreed to destroy their nuclear test site, Kim has not allowed any foreign inspectors to verify that they’re keeping their word.

Aides say that Trump is still committed to the deal. However, North Korea may be trying to leverage the U.S. and South Korea into more concessions by suddenly threatening to withdraw. They want to out-negotiate President Trump.

Meanwhile, officials are worried that North Korea’s changing attitude might also be influenced by China. China has 90% of North Korea’s trade. President Kim has met with the Chinese president twice. The first without notifying the White House and this close relationship between these countries is a cause for U.S. concern.

As the June 12th summit nears, Presidents Trump and Moon seek to keep President Kim at the table. Trump made sure to tell Kim that the U.S. is not looking to replace him as a leader. For his part, Moon says that he and the government of South Korea will continue to work together with the United States.

Parents Outraged Over Moment of Silence for Hamas Members

Parents of students enrolled at a public high school in Manhattan are outraged after a moment of silence paid tribute to the dozens of Palestinians that were recently killed by Israeli soldiers.

One Jewish parent spoke out against the silent tribute. “I am extremely upset because I did not send my child to a New York City public school to pray for Hamas operatives,” he stated.

Another parent voiced her concern over promoting a moment of silence for terrorists. Many of those killed in the protest have been linked to Hamas.

The killings marked the deadliest day of violence since the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict.

Hamas, A Terrorist Organization

The United States has designated Hamas an official terrorist organization. The Trump Administration has continued to support Israel since Jerusalem was recognized as the capital.

Deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah told reporters:

“The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas. Israel has the right to defend itself.”

Hamas, the largest of several Palestinian militant Islamist groups, originated in 1987 near the beginning of the first Palestinian uprising. The group is infamous for committing suicide bombings across the region.

Many of the school’s students staged a walkout in November 2016 to protest Donald Trump’s election. The school has also held tributes and moments of silence for victims of gun violence at schools, although they aren’t commonplace.

The school’s principal, Ruth Lacey, has yet to respond to the angry parents.

A Department of Education spokesman issued the following statement:

“We support civic engagement and advocacy amongst students, and encourage schools to provide inclusive environments where students are able to respectfully discuss current events.”

U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem Opens

A new American embassy opened in Jerusalem on Monday. Reactions spanned between celebration and violent protest.

President Donald Trump tweeted early Monday morning that it was a “great day for Israel.” Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), along with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were in attendance.

The embassy spent decades in Tel Aviv due to conflict about the city of Jerusalem’s ownership. Both Arabs and Israelis claim the city as theirs, largely because of the religious significance of the location to both Judaism and Islam.

Trump Stops Delaying the Move

In 1995, Congress voted to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and approved funding for the move. Multiple presidents signed waivers to postpone the move, effectively kicking the can down the road to the next president.

By using the waiver, each president managed to support Israel while trying not to anger opponents of the Jerusalem embassy.

Trump promised to move the embassy and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel during his campaign. Many assumed that an American president would never do something so blatantly pro-Israel, while supporters waited to see if Trump would fulfill his promise. Trump, however, followed through, and formally recognized Jerusalem as belonging to Israel in 2017.

As the opening of the embassy drew near, violent protests erupted at the border of the Gaza Strip. Arab activists identifying with Hamas lit tires on fire, threw Molotov cocktails, and engaged with Israeli troops in an effort to stop or disrupt the opening.

The Times of Israel reported the actual opening of the embassy will be a highly secured event, as will its day to day operation. It’s expected to be a constant target for violence.

5 Things That Could Happen If California Secedes

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Image Credit: Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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Electoral Shake-Up

If California secedes, its citizens will no longer have the right to vote in Presidential elections. The state’s 55 electoral votes will disappear – spelling trouble for the Democrats in future elections.

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