Zicutake USA Comment | Search Articles

#History (Education) #Satellite report #Arkansas #Tech #Poker #Language and Life #Critics Cinema #Scientific #Hollywood #Future #Conspiracy #Curiosity #Washington



TV Ratings: ‘Jesus Christ Superstar Live’ Tops Easter Sunday in Early Numbers

Posted: 02 Apr 2018 07:21 AM PDT

NBC‘s live staging of “Jesus Christ Superstar” is among the top shows of Sunday night in the early Nielsen numbers.

The live musical, which starred John Legend in the title role, averaged a 6.0 rating in Nielsen’s metered market households. That is good enough to tie with “60 Minutes” on CBS in households as well as top ABC’s “American Idol,” which drew a 4.5. It is also on par with the 5.9 that NBC‘s last live musical, “Hairspray Live,” drew back in 2016. “Hairspray Live” ultimately drew a 2.3 rating in adults 18-49 and just over 9 million viewers, making it one of the lower-rated live broadcast musicals to date.

“Jesus Christ Superstar” ended at 10:23 p.m. ET, meaning that these numbers will be subject to adjustment later today.

More to come…

Trump Lobs Another Threat at Amazon, Driving Down Ecommerce Giant’s Stock Again

Posted: 02 Apr 2018 07:14 AM PDT

Donald Trump continued his saber rattling against Amazon on Monday, leading the company’s stock to again take a hit.

Trump tweeted another vague threat that he would somehow make life more difficult for Amazon. The consensus among observers is that the main object of Trump’s ire is the Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

Amazon shares fell as much as 4.5% in early trading Monday.

“Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon. THEY LOSE A FORTUNE, and this will be changed,” the president wrote on Twitter. “Also, our fully tax paying retailers are closing stores all over the country…not a level playing field!”

In tweets Saturday, Trump groused that the U.S. Postal Service “will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon. That amounts to Billions of Dollars.” He also accused the “the Fake Washington Post” of being a lobbying arm for Amazon.

Trump has long railed against Amazon and made explicit threats about taking punitive action against the Bezos-run empire. The Republican launched his latest tirade against the company last Thursday, repeating accusations that Amazon does not paying enough in taxes; claiming that it’s somehow leaching money from the postal system money; and putting small retailers out of business.

Experts say Trump’s attacks on Amazon about the U.S. Postal Service are not based on the facts. First of all, the USPS is not funded by American taxpayers.

Moreover, while the postal service has lost money for more than a decade, that is primarily because of pension and health-care costs — and, in fact, package deliveries through Amazon and other shippers is one area that’s growing for the USPS.

Both the USPS and Amazon have declined to comment on Trump’s outbursts.

Watch Jay-Z Imitate Eminem and Snoop Dogg in Preview From Letterman’s Netflix Show

Posted: 02 Apr 2018 07:00 AM PDT

If hip-hop fans needed any further incentive to watch Jay-Z’s appearance on David Letterman‘s new Netflix show, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman,” how about hearing him imitate rappers like Eminem and Snoop Dogg. In a first excerpt from the episode, we see Jay talking with the heavily bearded host about the different factors that make a great rapper: In Snoop’s case it’s his voice, and in Em’s it’s his syncopation — and Jay delivers spot-on imitations of both.

The full episode launches globally on Friday, April 6.

Launched in January with special guest Barack Obama, the show has proven to be a way for Letterman to have things both ways: Still doing a talk show, but just once a month instead of 20 times.

Jay-Z and wife Beyonce will spend several months on their “On the Run II” tour this year, which launches June 6 in the U.K., heads across Europe before moving to North America on July 25, and continuing across the continent before wrapping in Seattle on Oct. 4. While neither artist is necessarily expected to release new material before the tour — Jay dropped an album last summer, Beyonce just under two years ago — and both tour more or less independently of their release schedules, you never know.


Robert B. Reich: Dollars for decency

Posted: 02 Apr 2018 06:30 AM PDT

Last week, Laura Ingraham, Fox News’ queen of snark, tweeted that David Hogg — a 17-year-old who survived the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, and has been among the eloquent advocates for gun control — “whines about” being rejected by four universities to which he applied. She linked to an article from the Daily Wire calling him a “gun rights provocateur.”

For Ingraham and Fox News, such cruel, ad-hominem attacks are typical. Vitriol helps boost ratings. After all, Fox is a central part of Donald Trump’s America. And Trump, like Fox News, has made bullying and humiliating people into an art form.

But television viewers are also consumers, and the ultimate goal of advertisers isn’t getting them to watch a particular television show. It’s getting them to buy the advertiser’s products. Which has caused a problem for Ingraham.

Shortly after Ingraham’s attack on Hogg, he called for Ingraham’s advertisers to boycott the show. Within days, a slew of them did just that.

As advertisers peeled off, Ingraham tried to take back her comment, saying the “spirit of Holy Week” motivated her to apologize for “any upset or hurt” she might have caused Hogg, “or any of the brave victims of Parkland.”

Hogg rejected the apology. “She only apologized after we went after her advertisers,” he told The New York Times. He then tweeted to Ingraham that he’d accept her apology “if you denounce the way your network has treated my friends and I in this fight. It’s time to love thy neighbor, not mudsling at children.”

Ingraham’s wasn’t the first venal, personal attack directed at the Parkland student survivors who have been advocating gun control, as amplified by Fox News.

Republican Leslie Gibson, who was running unopposed for a seat in the Maine state legislature, called Hogg a “moron” and “bald-faced liar,” and Emma Gonzalez, another Parkland survivor, a “skinhead lesbian.” (This was too much for the good citizens of Maine; Gibson soon dropped out of the race.)

But unlike politicians, who only have to survive elections every few years, corporations have to keep their consumers content all the time.

Selling satisfactory products and services is necessary but often not sufficient. Customers also want to feel good about the brands they’re buying. At the least, they don’t want to associate themselves with mean-spirited vitriol.

Liberty Mutual, the giant insurer, called Ingraham’s comments “inconsistent with our values as a company, especially when it comes to treating others with dignity and respect.” Nutrish, a pet food brand, said Ingraham’s comments “are not consistent with how we feel people should be treated.” TripAdvisor explained that Ingraham’s comments “cross the line of decency.”

Such explanations sound as if these companies chose to drop Ingraham’s show in order to be socially responsible. In truth, they’re just being smart at doing what they’re set up to do — make money. When it comes to consumer products, cruelty doesn’t sell.

Johnson & Johnson didn’t explain its decision to pull the plug on Ingraham, but it’s easy to see why it did. The company spends billions each year trying to convince consumers that Tylenol, baby powder, Band-Aids and its other brands will provide soothing comfort, analogous to a nurturing mother. Yet someone who ridicules a 17-year-old shooting survivor for not getting into the college he applied to is more like an abusive mother.

Behind all this is a new reality. The economy is now centered on intangibles like brand image and intellectual property, the value of which can erode if connected with something nefarious. Look at what happened to Facebook.

Social media can speed up this process. Which is why advertisers reacted as quickly as they did to Hogg’s tweet.

It’s also why corporations have quickly ended commercial relationships with famous people accused of sexual harassment and abuse. These companies aren’t being socially responsible, either. They don’t want to sully their brands.

Companies are spending huge amounts seeking to connect their goods to consumers’ values. They know more about those values than anyone. Which suggests that Americans may have had enough cruelty — coming from Laura Ingraham, from Fox News, from Donald Trump, from the Harvey Weinsteins of the land, from whomever.

Meanwhile, the rest of us should help the process along, and continue to vote with our consumer dollars for decency.

(Robert Reich, a former U.S. Secretary of Labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. Robert Reich’s new book, “The Common Good,” is out Feb. 20. His documentary, “Saving Capitalism,” is available on Netflix.)

‘Ready Player One’ Proves Steven Spielberg Can Still Deliver a Blockbuster

Posted: 02 Apr 2018 06:14 AM PDT

Steven Spielberg enjoyed his best opening in a decade with “Ready Player One.”

The virtual reality fantasy released with a healthy $53 million at the North American box office and picked up an additional $128 million overseas, bringing its global total to $181.2 million. That was enough to land the director of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Jurassic Park” his biggest debut since “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” launched in 2008 with $100 million.

As for his last popcorn movie that wasn’t already part of a multi-million dollar franchise? That would be another novel-turned-big screen event, 2005’s “War of the Worlds,” which premiered with $64 million. That alien invasion flick got a boost from Tom Cruise’s star power (though his Oprah couch jumping did lead to some unwelcome pre-release publicity).

Recent projects have highlighted a different side of Spielberg, with the Oscar-winning filmmaker devoting much of his energy to historical dramas geared toward adults, such as “The Post,” “Lincoln,” and “War Horse.” And while his movies aren’t breaking records like they once did with “Jaws,” “Jurassic Park,” and “E.T.,” as of now, Spielberg seems to be in good shape after a couple of embarrassing box office bombs.

Spielberg’s last few big-budget films — 2016’s “The BFG” and 2011’s “The Adventures of Tintin” — didn’t land with moviegoers, but analysts point to “Ready Player One” as a reaffirmation of the commercial credentials of a man whose name is synonymous with the modern day blockbuster. After all, he practically created the concept of the summer escapist fantasy with 1974’s “Jaws.”

“It put Spielberg right back in his sweet spot,” Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst at comScore, said. “He was one of the architects of the summer movie season. It shows that when Spielberg goes back to what people loved about him in the first place, it really pays off big.”

“Ready Player One” plays like something of an ’80s’ greatest hits compilation. Its virtual reality setting allows Spielberg to stuff the film with cameos from and nods to such Reagan era staples as “Back to the Future” and “Nightmare on Elm Street.” Much like the nostalgia-driven film, audiences themselves are hungry for what could be considered Spielberg’s bread and butter — the family oriented sci-fi epic.

“This takes him back to his early days where he was focused on driving younger moviegoers to the movies,” Dergarabedian said. “We shouldn’t be surprised younger moviegoers have gravitated toward the film, but older audiences as well, who grew up on Spielberg movies.”

The brand familiarity of Spielberg, bolstered by a generally positive critical consensus, will continue to drive interest, Dergarabedian said.

“This is Spielberg doing what Spielberg does best,” he added. “Now people will come out in bigger numbers who are hearing about it and reading about it and seeing the positive social media sentiment.”

And it’ll help that R-rated comedy “Blockers” and brutal thriller “A Quiet Place,” both aiming for strong openings next weekend, don’t exactly overlap with “Ready Player One’s” target audience. That leaves about a month until the next blockbuster — “Avengers: Infinity War.” Dergarabedian points to that duration between all ages-fare as a win for Spielberg and company.

“In this marketplace, if you have a wide open playing field, that’s a luxury that most movies don’t get,” he said. “This is a good thing. The playability will be there.”

Was Letting China Into the WTO a Mistake?

Posted: 02 Apr 2018 06:12 AM PDT

As President Donald Trump’s recent $60 billion-a-year trade tariffs against China have made abundantly clear, there has been growing discontent in the United States with Beijing’s failure to conform to liberal economic and democratic norms. The dismay over Chinese protectionism, and its negative impact on developed economies, has emanated not just from the White House, but from voters as well as from diplomatic, commercial, and academic quarters. The chorus of outrage has even raised doubts over whether the West should have ever admitted China to the World Trade Organization, whose rules-based system seemingly enabled Beijing to prosper even as it engaged in questionable behavior. Was letting China into the WTO a strategic mistake?

In a report released earlier this year, the U.S. Trade Representative argued rather provocatively that the United States had indeed “erred in supporting China’s entry into the WTO on terms that have proven to be ineffective in securing China’s embrace of an open, market-oriented trade regime.” But did it? It would be poor decision making to reject a policy solely on the basis of the unfortunate outcomes that followed. Such an approach fails to address whether there were any superior alternatives at the time when such a policy was made. In the case of China’s accession to the WTO in 2001, the reality is that identifying a preferable alternative, even with the benefit of hindsight, is surpassingly difficult.


To reconsider the merits of supporting China’s WTO membership, we must set the scene. During the 15 years of negotiations leading up to 2001, the United States and other countries set several conditions for China’s admission, including an extensive series of liberalization commitments. These involved concessions such as dropping tariffs on many categories of goods, opening up agricultural trade, and allowing in foreign service providers. In contrast, the United States did not need to make any new market-opening concessions; it just needed to guarantee that it would offer China most-favored-nation status (MFN)-basically, the same levels of tariffs that the United States had been offering Beijing since 1980. Before China joined the WTO, the United States essentially provided Beijing MFN treatment through its regular waiver of the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment, a law intended to restrict the trade benefits the United States offered to Communist nations. Thus, when China joined the WTO, the United States Congress voted to discontinue the regular review and made permanent the privileges it had bestowed upon Beijing over the previous 20 years.

What, then, were the policy alternatives at the time?

One option would have been to refuse China permanent MFN status, while maintaining existing trade policy. In 2000, granting China permanent MFN was highly controversial for the U.S. Congress because of objections to Chinese human rights practices. Arguing in favor, ex ante, President Bill Clinton said, “Congress will not be voting on whether China will join the WTO. Congress can only decide whether the United States will share in the economic benefits of China joining the WTO.” Indeed, had the United States not supported Chinese entry, it would not have received the benefits of the Chinese opening. China could have maintained all its high trade barriers against the United States while dropping them against other countries. The United States would have had the “grandfather” ability to apply higher non-MFN tariffs on China, but it had already decided against doing so in the previous two decades.

A policy of denying MFN would thus have been clearly inferior, as it would have forsaken the benefits of Chinese membership while having retained all the costs that accompanied low barriers toward Chinese goods. Further, this move would have divided the international community on China, given most OECD countries supported its accession at the time. This split would have dramatically weakened the WTO in its early stages, thus undermining a major U.S. foreign policy goal to strengthen the global trading system.

Had the United States chosen to reverse its longstanding openness to Chinese goods, a tougher policy would have been to forsake MFN treatment and to raise barriers against imports from China. This could have been accomplished in a number of ways, but they all look highly problematic.

At the simplest level, the United States could have just raised tariffs on finished Chinese products. However, this would have not only hurt U.S. consumers and businesses that benefited from those imports, but would have also been interpreted as an act of enmity by Beijing. And on top of this, it would likely have been ineffective in stopping China’s rise. As China drove down the prices of toys and t-shirts in other global markets, it would have been very difficult for the United States to insulate itself from the effects. Further, China has ultimately emerged as a major global economic player by tapping into global value chains. Since China is the last stage in the chain, a finished product can appear to have come from China, even if Chinese value-added is relatively small. Since U.S. tariffs are applied based on where a good is finished, not based on value-added, China could have easily affected U.S. markets by performing earlier-stage tasks and then having the goods finished in Malaysia or some other neighboring country. This is the problem with conducting bilateral policy in a multilateral world. In sum, this second alternative is no better than the first, and decidedly worse than the current policy.

As a final alternative, the United States could have shored up the “leaks” in its China containment strategy and sought to rally other countries to exclude China from the global economy, thereby preventing its rise. This might have addressed some of the concerns of the second alternative, but it appears dangerous, implausible, and infeasible: dangerous because trying to isolate China with the open intent of blocking Chinese growth would likely have elicited a hostile response; implausible because the United States was, in late 2001, trying to rally the world to respond to terrorism emerging from the Middle East; and infeasible because the United States has had a difficult time trying to isolate countries with much smaller economies, such as Iran and North Korea. Trying to isolate China would have been orders of magnitude more difficult.


In the absence of any superior policy, the admission of China into the WTO does not appear to have been a mistake. Nonetheless, it may be worth examining several of the consequences that have prompted such concerns today.

Before getting to the concerns, it is worth noting that, in the wake of China’s WTO accession, U.S. GDP per person, adjusted for inflation, grew from $44,400 in the fourth quarter of 2001 to $52,800 in the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of roughly 19 percent. Over the same period, inflation-adjusted manufacturing sector output in the United States rose by more than 15 percent.

U.S. critics of trade with China, however, are most likely to focus on its impact on manufacturing employment. One useful measure to assess this is the share of manufacturing employment in total U.S. nonfarm payrolls, which is the primary indicator used to assess U.S. job creation. This did fall sharply in the wake of China’s WTO accession, from 12 percent in December 2001 to 8.5 percent in December 2017, a drop of just over 29 percent. Yet that decline actually represents a slowing of a preexisting trend. If we take the 16 years before China’s accession, the share of labor in U.S. manufacturing fell by more than 33 percent, from a level of 17.9 percent in 1985. One might argue that China was at least starting to engage with the global trading system over that time, if not yet in the WTO, so perhaps it played some role in the decrease in manufacturing jobs. But looking at the preceding 16-year period, we can see the same trend in the United States: a 31 percent drop from an initial labor share of 25.9 percent in 1969. That occurred during a period in which China was largely isolated from the global economy and it therefore cannot be held responsible.

The challenge, of course, is to try to isolate China’s impact from the broader trends. The ideal way to do this would be to compare China’s track record as a WTO member to an estimated outcome under an alternative scenario-but as we see, of the three possible alternatives outlined above, none of them would have provided better outcomes. There is simply no plausible counterfactual. This is a problem that plagues much of the academic literature that has developed around the “China trade shock,” a theory that claims China’s rise negatively impacted workers and manufacturing in developed nations. But not only does this line of thinking fail to test against a policy alternative, it fails to model a world in which other low-cost suppliers would have emerged to challenge Chinese dominance in labor-intensive manufacturing.

Rather than focusing on the economic impact, one might consider the constraints that Chinese WTO membership has put on the United States. Specifically, the inability to impose tariffs and the requirement to pursue disputes under the WTO.

In fact, in the 15 years following China’s accession, the United States enjoyed broad freedom to apply tariffs on imports from China. As part of China’s accession, the United States had the right to apply a special China safeguard if imports from China were found to be disrupting U.S. markets. (This is known as Sec. 421.) There were a total of seven such cases filed under this provision. Five made it past the U.S. International Trade Commission but only one resulted in U.S. tariffs-specifically, against Chinese tires. The case of the tire tariffs, in retrospect, looks to have been a policy failure, however, because the United States mostly resorted to importing tires from other countries at somewhat higher prices. The evidence is thus clear that the United States was not particularly constrained in its ability to apply bilateral tariffs; it just wisely chose not to.

What about China’s willingness to follow WTO rules? The United States has filed 12 WTO complaints that have resulted in rulings against China. In all of these cases, China has taken some action to comply. In none of them has there been an Article 22 suspension request, in which a party threatens trade sanctions due to a failure to comply. This indicates that the WTO has had success in holding China to its commitments.

The problem with the U.S. Trade Representative’s January 2018 report-in which it claimed that the United States had erred in letting China into the WTO-is that the commitments China made in 2001 do not cover all of the behaviors that are now of concern. Neither China’s WTO accession protocol nor the structure of the organization in 2001 was sufficient to ensure ideal Chinese economic behavior in the decades that followed. This is an indictment of the subsequent failure to pass new multilateral rules, however, rather than of the decision to admit China to the global system. China continues to pose economic policy challenges, but there is no indication these would be any easier to resolve were China unbound by WTO rules.

This article was originally published on ForeignAffairs.com.

Former Mexican president: Trump retreats from leadership yet again

Posted: 02 Apr 2018 06:04 AM PDT

(Ernesto Zedillo, a professor in the field of international economics and politics at Yale University and member of The Elders, was president of Mexico from 1994 to 2000. He is also a member of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council.)

When U.S. President Donald Trump visited the border between our two countries early this month to inspect prototypes for his infamous wall, everyone took notice. Yet, given the avalanche of attacks on international institutions from day one of the Trump administration, it is not surprising that it went relatively unnoticed when Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, announced rather insolently that her country would abandon talks on the global compact on migration in December.

This is a great pity because the very principles that compact would establish — emphasizing the rule of law and orderly migration — are precisely in the self-interest of the U.S.

All U.N. member states — the U.S. included — committed in September of 2016 to negotiate the compact with plans to approve it by the end of this year. This objective did not look overly ambitious. On the one hand, the compact is not legally binding, which should have made governments more accommodating. On the other hand, the negotiation was intended simply to agree on a set of general principles and commitments for countries to deal with international migration.

Both António Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations, and his predecessor, Ban Ki-moon, have been mindful of the complexity and contentiousness of the topic, and the U.N. leadership has all along infused the process with substantial and balanced realism. This is evidenced in U.N. documents that, along with the 2016 declaration, serve as key references for the ongoing negotiations.

One of these is a report prepared by the late Peter Sutherland, an admired advocate of multilateral international cooperation, reflecting on his decade of work as the U.N.’s special representative for international migration. The Sutherland report clearly admits that nations have no obligation to open their borders to all migrants. While the benefits of migration are tangible, he wrote, they do take time to materialize. But their associated costs can appear immediately, for individuals and even entire social groups. This is a situation that must be acknowledged and addressed with practical solutions.

The report also makes clear that although orderly migration depends on providing expanded pathways for legal entry, these must be subject to labor market considerations. Sutherland wasn’t shy to recommend circular, back-and-forth migration as an effective way to manage the movement of people between poorer countries and richer ones.

Another report, by Guterres himself, acknowledges at the outset that migration can be a source of division within and between states and societies, even though it is also an engine of economic growth, innovation and sustainable development. He argues that states and their citizens have legitimate reasons to demand both secure borders and the capacity to determine who enters and stays in their territory.

The report also warns that, since states can hold divergent perspectives on the benefits and costs of migration, governments must be mindful of each other’s specific priorities and challenges. Guterres therefore advises against ignoring citizens’ perceptions and concerns of migration policy.

One of the most serious concerns about irregular immigration into the U.S. is that of people from my own country, Mexico.

Two years ago, a group of individuals (of which I was a member) from both the U.S. and Mexico convened by Washington-based think tank the Center for Global Development published a report that contained a concrete proposal for how joint management of migration could maximize benefits for both states. Our suggested bilateral worker agreement was intended to curtail unlawful cross-border mobility, while also preserving priority for American workers for jobs in the U.S. and enhancing common security on both sides of our border.

But obviously, given the current political conditions in the U.S., our proposal is for the time being chimerical. Shared responsibility on this, and possibly on many other issues that are important for both countries, looks unachievable for now. This is a shame, because there are significant costs for both countries without an agreement — certainly for the U.S., which will continue to spend enormous resources on alternatives that will never deliver the expected results.

Unfortunately, when Haley announced the end of U.S. participation in the global compact on migration, she signaled the total rejection of a simple and sound principle. By declaring that America’s “decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone,” the U.S. government decided to abandon an agreement that’s in the best interests of Americans. Adopting such a posture is regrettable not only for the damage done to the multilateral system but also because it closes the door on initiatives that would address, cooperatively and more effectively, the problems we face in immigration policy today.

This undoubtedly will continue to be the case if the U.S. government decides to go ahead with the idea of building another wall on the American side of the border — fully, I might add, at American taxpayers’ expense. Obviously, under no circumstances will we Mexicans contribute to the materialization of such an extravagant, useless and offensive white elephant.

The global compact should constitute an agenda to strengthen the rule of law, bring the challenges that migration creates under control, and respond effectively and beneficially to the realities of labor markets. Making migration safe, orderly and legal is necessarily an endeavor that must be responsibly shared among states. Precisely to better protect their own citizens, states must act together and cooperatively.

¿Qué hará Trump en la Cumbre de las Américas?

Posted: 02 Apr 2018 06:03 AM PDT

El corresponsal extranjero y columnista de The Miami Herald y El Nuevo Herald

Cuando el presidente Trump haga su primer viaje a Latinoamérica para participar en la Cumbre de las Américas del 13 de abril en Lima, Perú, podría cometer un error garrafal: acaparar los titulares como el crítico más duro del dictador venezolano Nicolás Maduro.

Eso es exactamente lo que más quisiera Maduro: que Trump -quien según las encuestas es el presidente estadounidense más impopular en América Latina de la historia reciente- se convierta en el líder regional de la causa por la democracia en Venezuela.

Si Trump hace eso, Maduro lo usará como munición propagandística para su narrativa de que el desastre humanitario de Venezuela es el resultado de una supuesta “agresión yanqui”, en lugar de ser producto de su desastrosa gestión.

La Cumbre de las Américas del 13 al 14 de abril será clave para el futuro de Venezuela, entre otras cosas porque tendrá lugar poco antes del fraude electoral que Maduro está cocinando para el 20 de mayo.

El tema oficial de la cumbre será la lucha contra la corrupción. Irónicamente, Perú, el país anfitrión, está intentando salir de su más reciente crisis política por temas de corrupción. El ex presidente Pedro Pablo Kuczynski renunció el 21 de marzo tras nuevas acusaciones en el escándalo de corrupción de Odebrecht.

El nuevo presidente peruano, Martín Vizcarra, ha mantenido la decisión de su predecesor de no invitar a Maduro a la cumbre. Sin embargo, el presidente venezolano ha prometido aparecer en la reunión “llueva o truene”.

A juzgar por lo que escuché de fuentes diplomáticas y líderes de la oposición venezolana, la Cumbre considerará una declaración que expresaría la “grave preocupación” de la región por la situación en Venezuela, y pediría sanciones regionales contra el régimen de Maduro.

Pero es probable que esa declaración sea aprobada como un acuerdo paralelo de Estados Unidos, México, Brasil y otros países, en lugar de como parte de la declaración final de la cumbre. La declaración final debe ser aprobada por consenso, y países como Cuba y Bolivia ya han declarado que se opondrán a cualquier condena a Maduro.

Los líderes de la oposición venezolana están pidiendo que las democracias de la región incluyan los siguientes puntos en su declaración sobre Venezuela:

– Un compromiso de no aceptar los resultados de las fraudulentas elecciones venezolanas del 20 de mayo. Maduro, que se postula para la reelección, ha prohibido que los líderes de la oposición y los principales partidos opositores participen en la contienda.

– Un acuerdo para intensificar las sanciones individuales contra altos funcionarios venezolanos. Estados Unidos y Canadá ya han ordenado congelar los fondos y anular visas de entrada de altos funcionarios del régimen de Maduro, pero la mayoría de los países latinoamericanos aún no lo han hecho.

– Un plan para establecer un fondo de apoyo internacional para los refugiados venezolanos en Colombia, Brasil y otros países. Más de 2,5 millones de venezolanos han huido de Venezuela en los últimos años.

La Cumbre sera un momento clave para el futuro de Venezuela, porque el tiempo podría estar corriendo a favor de Maduro. Será la mejor -y quizás la última- oportunidad para que América Latina presione seriamente a Maduro para restaurar la democracia en Venezuela.

En los próximos meses, habrá elecciones en Brasil, Colombia y México, que podrían cambiar el mapa político de la región. En México, por ejemplo, una victoria del líder izquierdista Andrés Manuel López Obrador -que está primero en las encuestas- en las elecciones del 1 de julio casi seguramente resultaría en una postura menos crítica de ese país hacia el régimen de Maduro.

¿Qué hará Trump en la cumbre? Ojalá pueda resistir la tentación de colocarse en el centro del escenario de la crisis venezolana. Eso solo ayudaría a alimentar el relato de Maduro de que la crisis de Venezuela es producto de una confrontación entre Estados Unidos y Venezuela, en lugar de ser el resultado de una de las dictaduras más corruptas, ineptas y represivas de la historia reciente de América Latina.

Trump debería acompañar, quizás incluso liderar desde atrás, pero nunca convertirse en el líder de los esfuerzos diplomáticos para restaurar la democracia en Venezuela.

Retired Justice Stevens puts Democrats on a pin with call to repeal Second Amendment

Posted: 02 Apr 2018 06:02 AM PDT

Democrats are panicking over retired Supreme Court Justice John Stevens’ comments on repealing the Second Amendment.

You know they’re panicking when they insist they’re not panicking.

It is one thing for the left to slowly, carefully, methodically gut the Bill of Rights by using the media and their children’s crusade as proxies.

But it’s quite another thing to honestly declare your intentions about repealing the Second Amendment, which is what Stevens — a Republican appointee but a liberal — is advocating.

At least Stevens is honest about it, which is what you’d expect of a 97-year-old Cubs fan who saw Babe Ruth’s called shot at Wrigley. But he’s driven Democrats crazy.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant, yes, but what if you don’t want to admit to the American public — before the 2018 elections — that shredding the Second Amendment is what’s on the menu?

You panic and say, “That is not what I meant, that is not what I meant at all,” as you’re fixed upon a pin as in the T.S. Eliot poem, which is exactly what Stevens’ op-ed in The New York Times did to the left.

Stevens fixed them on a pin, like insects on a board. An honest pin, to be sure, but a pin nevertheless.

So until Democrats can figure out an escape without demeaning the retired justice, those bent on trashing the long-held American right to bear arms just might want to remember happier times.

Like those halcyon days when they hadn’t yet driven all the moderate Democrats out of their party, when John Kerry was running for president.

Kerry, the impossibly rich liberal, a beneficiary of the Heinz ketchup fortune thanks to his wife, was a worldly fellow, comfortable on a yacht. But he was plagued by his patrician, upper-crust demeanor.

Some political brain decided Kerry should go a duck huntin’ and demonstrate his love for the Second Amendment. And he got all dressed up like Elmer Fudd.

All that was missing was the Fudd hat with the ear flaps. But that would have ruined Kerry’s hair.

Somebody shot some ducks — or perhaps an aide had them quietly strangled — but either way Kerry proudly carried those dead ducks around for news photographers, to demonstrate his reverence for the Second Amendment and the American right to kill some ducks.

The Bill of Rights doesn’t exactly mention duck hunting, but liberals have a way of conflating hunting with the right to bear arms.

Kerry didn’t care. He even dropped his patrician airs for the afternoon and walked around like an animatronic Orvis catalog. And, he got some nice Ohio mud on his boots.

The photo op might have worked, if Kerry hadn’t been wearing obviously stiff new gear, which made him look exactly what he was: a liberal politician in store-bought huntin’ clothes pandering for regular folks’ votes in Ohio by carrying a shotgun and a bunch of dead ducks.

Will we ever see Democrats touch a gun again in a photo op?

Perhaps, but they’ll need a safe emotional distance between any fake Second Amendment reverence and that other recent Democratic event:

That children’s crusade of the left called March for Our Lives, which was treated as some kind of spontaneous happening rather than carefully orchestrated theater.

In it, the young protesters held signs, spent George Clooney’s money, while demanding the government take away Americans’ guns, because, in the words of student leader and apprentice demagogue David Hogg, stupid parents just can’t be trusted with democracy.

“When your old-ass parent is like, ‘I don’t know how to send an iMessage,’ and you’re just like, ‘Give me the (expletive deleted) phone and let me handle it,'” said Hogg in an earlier interview. “Sadly, that’s what we have to do with our government; our parents don’t know how to use a (expletive deleted) democracy, so we have to.”

Of course you do. So just do it.

That’s exactly what Stevens advocated in his New York Times op-ed piece.

Stevens wrote that he was moved by the demonstrations in Washington and other major cities, adding that they reveal broad public support for legislation to minimize the risks of mass killings by those with guns.

“But the demonstrators should seek more effective and more lasting reform,” wrote Stevens. “They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment.”

It would be a more honest debate if Democrats would just drop the pretense and the mealy-mouthing and the business of carrying dead ducks around and follow Stevens lead by declaring they want to repeal the Second Amendment. And have their candidates make that position clear in the upcoming midterms.

But Democrats are wriggling on that pin, saying they really don’t want to mess with the Second Amendment.

“Not if they’d like to keep their jobs,” said one of CNN’s many leftists-in-residence, Symone Sanders, a former press secretary for socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

This is what happens when Democrats allow folks on the right and the Republican Party to define and frame the conversation,” she explained, though Justice Stevens isn’t exactly of the right.

And some of those young people in March for Our Lives demanded America get rid of its guns, but Sanders said she wouldn’t go that far.

“Children are very different than elected Democratic representation.”

In other words, use the children’s crusade until you can’t. And insist you really don’t want to gut the Bill of Rights, until it’s done.

(John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. His Twitter handle is @john_kass.)

Universal Music Enterprises Names Stephen Bolles VP of Film & TV Music

Posted: 02 Apr 2018 06:00 AM PDT

Universal Music Enterprises (UMe), the global catalog division of Universal Music Group, today announced that Stephen Bolles has been appointed Vice President, Film & TV Music. Bolles will be based in New York and will report to Tom Rowland, EVP Film & TV Music.

According to a press release, in this newly created role, Bolles will be responsible for marketing Universal Music Group repertoire to East Coast film and television clients and ad agencies. He will work closely with the UMe and UMG frontline label marketing, product development and brand partnership teams, to create timely sync opportunities around priority artist and catalog releases.

In making the announcement, Rowland said, “With Stephen’s presence in New York, we are able to work more closely with our agency and production partners to deliver precise musical direction throughout their creative process, with the ability to quickly respond to shifting directives as they may evolve.

Stephen Bolles said. “I’m excited to join Bruce Resnikoff, Tom and the incredible team at UMe, and I look forward to working with emerging and heritage artists to increase awareness of our catalog through the power of TV and brands.”

A former independent music supervisor, Bolles was recently head of sync marketing and licensing for the !K7 Label Group.