The Cronyism Grown Into U.S. Food Aid

America is a generous country. Taxpayers can take pride in the fact that, under the terms of the 2014 Farm Bill, they will send more than $2 billion worth of food to needy countries this year. Thanks to these aid programs, more than 50 million people in 51 countries will be fed by U.S. foreign aid. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that these programs are rife with cronyism that make them more expensive and less effective than they should be.

Just how much cronyism is there? Enough that another 8 to 10 million people could be fed at no added cost just by removing two unnecessary regulations.

What do these regulations do? The first requires that nearly all U.S. food aid be sourced from American farmers. The logic is that American food aid can combine generosity with national self-interest, stabilizing U.S. agricultural markets while providing aid.

But that self-interest has a cost, and a significant one. Namely, there is often more than enough food nearby that could be purchased and transported at a far lower cost and with far less waste than by shipping American food across the ocean. Even Africa, the continent most commonly associated with hunger crises, produces more than enough food to feed itself — as does the world as a whole, for that matter. In light of this fact, requiring that food aid be sourced in the United States no longer makes sense.

It’s a bizarre case where the costs of cronyism so outweigh the benefits that even one of the primary beneficiaries, the American Farm Bureau Federation, supports reform. The problem is that this regulation is a relic of a different era, one in which food aid was a meaningful portion of American agricultural exports and in which local food production in hunger-stricken areas was rarely sufficient to meet local demand. That is no longer the case — food aid today accounts for less than 1 percent of agricultural exports and less than 0.1 percent of food production in the country. The times have changed, but our rules have not.

The other regulation mandates that at least half of all U.S. food aid be carried on U.S.-flag vessels, known as the Cargo Preference for Food Aid (CPFA). The Government Accountability Office (GAO) studied the effects of the CPFA, and found that the costs were significant. Overall, the GAO estimated that the CFPA increased costs of shipping by 23 percent between 2011 and 2014, making up over $107 million of the total $456 million cost.

This time, the original intent behind the rule was based on national security concerns rather than economic ones. Lawmakers intended to use the food aid program to subsidize a merchant marine that could be called upon in times of war. Yet again, the organization that the regulation is intended to benefit, the Department of Defense, supports reform. The vast majority of U.S. vessels carrying food aid do not meet minimum standards for reform, and the DoD has stated that elimination of the regulation would not impact America’s maritime readiness in the case of war.

It is an unfortunate fact that as much as 60 percent of the food aid budget is spent on items that have nothing to do with food — such as transportation costs for the American food that we’re sending halfway around the world on more expensive American ships. And it’s why simple reform, such as the bipartisan Food for Peace Reform Act of 2018, would free up nearly $300 million simply by reducing the requirement for U.S.-sourced food to 25 percent.

It’s rare that cronyism is so egregious and outdated that its beneficiaries support reform. When they do, lawmakers should take the hint, and support reform as well.

The post The Cronyism Grown Into U.S. Food Aid appeared first on The American Spectator.

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What Is the John Mcafee Redemption Unit? Crypto Advocate Touts Physical Currency, 2020 Presidential Bid

If not, I will create my own party. I believe this will best serve the crypto [currency] community by providing the ultimate campaign platform for us.” Previously, he told CNNMoney that he had created a new political entity called the Cyber Party.

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What’s Cool About Summer

Heading off to see a summer blockbuster? Thank the early 20th century movie hero who kicked off the phenomenon. Not Superman. Not Captain America. Not even Rin Tin Tin.

William Carrier.

In 1902, the young engineer was working for a heating outfit called Buffalo Forge. That company was approached by Sackett & Wilhelms, a print shop in Brooklyn that was facing a dilemma. Four-color printing meant paper had to be inked four separate times, with each run laying down a different hue. Thanks to humidity, sheets would often shrink or expand in the interim between inkings, making the finished image a mess. What could be done?

Carrier came up with a way of “conditioning” the air in order to keep the temperature and moisture level steady. You can probably guess what he called his invention.

Not only did printing companies suddenly have a solution to the problem of summer, so did all sorts of other industries, from candy makers (chocolate no longer turned gray) to razor manufacturers (blades no longer rusted) to theaters.

In the earliest days of cinema, theaters would often close during the summer as their cramped, crowded spaces became suffocating sweatboxes. Thanks to air conditioning, not only could they stay open, they became bastions of comfort. In 1925, the Rivoli Theater in Times Square became the first movie theater to install the new technology. A decade later, summer had become the biggest time of year for movies, and the summer blockbuster was born.

Air conditioning changed more than just our film viewership. Cooler air had basically been the holy grail of sizzling civilizations since the dawn of history. In ancient Egypt, porous urns were filled with water that slowly seeped out and evaporated, providing a modicum of relief. (Though not as much relief as those slaves with the palm fronds, I’d guess.) In ancient Rome, an emperor named Elagabalus had ice harvested from the mountains and spread around his garden, so the breeze would waft cool air inside.

The rest of us spent eons fanning ourselves and drinking lots of liquids. Meanwhile, homes were built to deflect oppressive heat as best they could. Shaded front porches were wide enough for socializing and even sleeping on. Windows were positioned to facilitate cross drafts. High ceilings drew the heat up and away from the humans panting below.

After World War II, A/C finally came to the average home, and when it did, life changed. For starters, builders could use thinner and thus cheaper materials. They could ditch the porches, scrap the shutters, and lower the ceilings. All this made the American Dream less expensive, luring the masses to the ‘burbs—and to the South. The share of Americans living in the Sun Belt rose from 28 percent before the war to 40 percent afterward.

Central air has gotten a bad rap as a community killer: By keeping neighbors sealed inside their arctic homes, it creates existential anomie (and artificially high viewership for CNN). As a gal who’s always cold, I have done a ton of A/C bashing myself, and I didn’t install so much as a window unit for many a sweltering summer for fear that my kids would never leave their climate-controlled rooms. Yet as annoying as that constant stream of cold indoor air is to those of us forced to keep space heaters under our desks in July, A/C has made life better for a lot of people—including the downtrodden.

Climbing temperatures can be a killer. For one thing, people are more likely to commit suicide when it’s very hot outside. For another, when a heat wave hits, the poor are more likely to die. Nowadays, high temperatures cause about 600 deaths a year in America, according to the Foundation for Economic Education. In 1936, that number was 5,000.

You may be fretting: But what about the Earth? Well, as Slate‘s Daniel Engber reports, it actually takes less energy to cool a home in the broiling heat than to heat it in the bitter cold. And few environmentalists begrudge people their furnaces in wintertime.

Jimmy Moyen, owner of First Choice Mechanical, an HVAC company in Queens, New York, tells me his customers are increasingly purchasing “smart” air conditioners, where “the thermostat is connected to your smart phone, and the closer you get to home, the closer it gets to the temperature you want.” That means your A/C doesn’t waste juice while you’re out during the day, yet it welcomes you home to cold comfort at night.

Maybe that’s too much comfort, but it’s better than the alternative.

Read more from Reason.com…

Why the Air Force Thinks It Can Turn Gamers Into Its Next Top Guns

In late May, the U.S. Air Force announced its intention to release an advanced video game simulation. The theory is that the game, if successful, will be an effective recruitment tool among high school students.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because the U.S. Army already did the exact same thing with a game called “America’s Army,” launched in 2002. That one was for a while relatively popular, but as a recruitment tool there’s little doubt it failed. Indeed, it was panned early and often for claiming to offer a realistic soldiering experience while glamorizing it as an exciting and largely consequence-free adventure. The game, of course, never showed the tedium or the dark side of military service in conflict—but what proper recruitment propaganda ever does?

Not content to merely copy a failed program, the so-far untitled Air Force game seeks to combine the allure of video games with the Orwellian realities of modern “big data” applications that the government is so fond of. In this case, officials have suggested they are literally going to monitor players to spot particularly talented ones they can recruit.

Call it recruitment recon.

As an example, imagine that the Air Force identifies a player who is particularly good at controlling the game’s simulated planes, so they offer him/her a $100,000 signing bonus to sign up for the real thing. But isn’t it possible that video game talent might not translate into real-life skills in combat? Incredibly, that seems to have been lost on the USAF.

Which is why this could be an even bigger disaster than the “America’s Army” folly—and much more expensive, too. While the Army’s gambit cost millions to design, it at least had a limited return on investment. The Air Force is prepared to throw major bonuses at good video game players on the notion that, like the 1984 movie The Last Starfighter, that’s where you’re going to find real talent.

The reason this makes sense to the Air Force (but nobody else) is because, with the advent of drone operations (i.e. remote control targeting), a number of people actually are employed in joystick-based warfare. It’s not clear whether the game will feature a drone operator mode (based in some outpost in the Nevada desert), as it seems to be focused on advanced warplanes in the heat of battle, not blowing up Pakistani wedding parties from thousands of miles away. This should come as no surprise because the life of an actual drone operator is reportedly pretty miserable, and the point of the Air Force’s game is to get kids to play so you can collect all sorts of data from them.

So far, Air Force officials aren’t providing a lot of specifics, just ambitions. They’ve also avoided estimating what the program will cost. Creating a game advanced enough to reliably attract an audience gets more expensive every year. At this point just developing a game can be counted on to cost a minimum of $100 million, to say nothing of all of the server and metadata processing costs, and the costs associated with marketing the game.

This is precisely why high-end video games don’t attempt to survive as advertising platforms. The cost of developing games has grown precipitously over the years, and players are focused on playing. They don’t want to be sold anything—not by companies, not by Uncle Sam.

This is why using a war simulation video game as a marketing tool is a terrible idea. Even in the highly unlikely event that the U.S. Air Force actually does make a popular video game, that doesn’t mean its fan base is going to be inclined toward military service, let alone suited to it. This is what happens when you combine lofty recruitment goals with a bottomless pit of taxpayer money: the military is encouraged to make reckless attempts to engage the public. The Air Force now appears to be lining up one of the most reckless of blunders yet.

Jason Ditz is news editor at Antiwar.com, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the cause of non-interventionism. His work has appeared in Forbes, the Toronto Star, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Providence Journal, the Daily Caller, the American Conservative, the Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.

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US hits 5 Iranians with sanctions for aiding Yemen rebels

The Treasury announced Tuesday that it was blacklisting the five for providing the Houthi rebels with technical expertise that has allowed them to launch missiles into neighboring Saudi Arabia. All five are members of or are affiliated with Iran’s Islamic …

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US ‘openly supports’ terrorists in Syria: Turkish FM

The United States “openly supports” the militants of PYD and YPG, which are the wings of the terrorist organization PKK in Syria, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, the Turkish media reported May 31.

The FM noted that instead of fighting terrorists in Syria together with Turkey, the United States preferred cooperation with them.

“A state claiming that it is fighting with terrorists, can’t support them,” said Cavusoglu.

The FM also noted that Turkey is the only country that is fighting terrorists in Syria.

Earlier, Turkey’s president also accused the US of providing military support to the PYD and YPG terrorists in Syria

On January 20, the Turkish armed forces launched the Operation Olive Branch together with the Free Syrian Army in the Syrian region of Afrin.

On August 24, 2016, units of the Turkish Armed Forces began the Operation Euphrates Shield against militants of the “Islamic State” and with the support of the Syrian opposition liberated the border town of Jarablus in Northern Syria, as well as the city of al-Bab.

———

© 2018 Trend News Agency (Baku, Azerbaijan)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Global Political Campaign Software Market 2018: Industry Analysis,…

The performance of the key product and application segments of the Political Campaign Software market in each regional market has been explained in the report. Likewise, each regional market’s competitive dynamics have been elaborated upon by providing information about the hierarchy among the leading players operating in it.

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Rewiring Employment In A New Age

Change is happening in employment in all sorts of ways and much more change is on the way. Both employees and employers need to anticipate some of this change. (It will be impossible to anticipate it all, and it is in these unforeseen changes that opportunities for workers and employers will largely arise. Think social media.)

(From Forbes)

An employment crisis is brewing. Recent research on the impact of artificial intelligence and automation estimates that there will be 38 million jobs lost in the U.S. by the year 2030. Without significant interventions, this could translate into a 23.5% unemployment rate—equivalent to the peak unemployment rate during the Depression in 1933. Those hit hardest will be the 87 million people in frontline and early career jobs. The consequences are potentially devastating for our economy and for millions of individuals and families.

The most immediate and powerful solution lies with companies. Employers can begin to compete with the changing nature of work and automation by upskilling existing talent and providing creative pathways for advancement. This investment pays for itself; companies that have restructured their hiring, management, and training of entry-level workers have seen dramatic reductions in turnover and increases in productivity.

Click here for the article.

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Knife Rights’ Louisiana Switchblade Ban Repeal Bill Signed

Switchblade
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KnifeRights.org
KnifeRights.org

Gilbert, AZ –-(Ammoland.com)- Knife Rights’ bill to repeal Louisiana’s antiquated ban on the possession of switchblade knives, HB 892, was signed by Governor Edwards! Switchblade Freedom Day in Louisiana will be August 1, 2018, when the new law goes into effect.

We’d like to acknowledge Representative Mark Wright for his sponsorship and leadership and Senator Bodi White for shepherding the bill through the Senate.

Thanks to all of you who called and emailed your legislators and Governor Edwards to ask them to support the bill. When you call and email, it is a huge help to Todd Rathner, our Director of Legislative Affairs, who worked tirelessly in Louisiana on this bill.

Knife Rights would also like to express our appreciation to Dan Zelenka, President of the Louisiana Shooters Association, for his efforts in laying the groundwork for this bill. We are also grateful to Knife Rights board member and Louisiana resident Tom Gresham and Knife Rights member Clifford Grout for their roles in assisting us in this effort.

HB 892 repeals the total ban on switchblade knives in Louisiana and allows for the possession of a switchblade knife provided it is not “intentionally concealed on one’s person.” That provision was necessary to gain the neutrality of the Sheriffs and the State Police. Manufacture and sale of automatic knives would also become legal.

Allowing for the concealed carry of a switchblade in Louisiana is complicated because it would require a significant change to Louisiana’s concealed carry law. Knife Rights will continue to look for opportunities to fix this aspect of the law in the future.

Knife Rights’ record of 29 bills repealing knife bans at the state and local levels in 21 states in the past 8 years is unrivaled. With your support, Knife Rights is rewriting knife law in America.

Knife RightsAbout:
Knife Rights (www.KnifeRights.org) is America’s Grassroots Knife Owners Organization, working towards a Sharper Future for all knife owners. Knife Rights is dedicated to providing knife owners an effective voice in public policy. Become a Knife Rights member and make a contribution to support the fight for your knife rights. Visit www.kniferights.org

The post Knife Rights’ Louisiana Switchblade Ban Repeal Bill Signed appeared first on AmmoLand.com.

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After outcry that ‘Show Dogs’ scenes endorse ‘unwanted sexual touching,’ movie is getting recut

“Show Dogs” — a new “family comedy” that’s rated PG — has seen a growing wave of attention of late; but for all the wrong reasons.

What’s the issue?

The comedic flick about — what else? — show dogs features lead undercover police dog Max (voiced by rapper/actor Ludacris) learning to get comfortable with strangers touching his genitals for the dog show inspection. Critics have said such a plot line sends a dangerous message to kids.

Image source: YouTube screenshot

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation released a statement saying as much, noting that the movie “sends a troubling message that grooms children for sexual abuse … It contains multiple scenes where a dog character must have its private parts inspected, in the course of which the dog is uncomfortable and wants to stop but is told to go to a ‘zen place.’ The dog is rewarded with advancing to the final round of the dog show after passing this barrier. Disturbingly, these are similar tactics child abusers use when grooming children — telling them to pretend they are somewhere else, and that they will get a reward for withstanding their discomfort. Children’s movies must be held to a higher standard, and must teach children bodily autonomy, the ability to say ‘no’ and safety, not confusing messages endorsing unwanted genital touching,” Deadline reported.

Cineplex Australia pulled “Show Dogs” from its theaters, the outlet noted, and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation also asked the likes of AMC and Regal to do the same.

What’s being done about the scenes in question?

The movie’s distributor Global Road Entertainment on Thursday told Deadline in an exclusive statement that it’s recutting “Show Dogs” by removing two scenes:

“Responding to concerns raised by moviegoers and some specific organizations, Global Road Entertainment has decided to remove two scenes from the film ‘Show Dogs’ that some have deemed not appropriate for children. The company takes these matters very seriously and remains committed to providing quality entertainment for the intended audiences based on the film’s rating. We apologize to anybody who feels the original version of ‘Show Dogs’ sent an inappropriate message. The revised version of the film will be available for viewing nationwide starting this weekend.”

Global Road released a statement Tuesday regarding viewers’ concerns about the scenes, Deadline reported — but it defended the scenes’ inclusion and said they contain “no hidden or ulterior meanings.”

Image source: YouTube screenshot

“It has come to our attention that there have been online discussion and concern about a particular scene in ‘Show Dogs,’ a family comedy that is rated PG,” the statement read, according to the outlet. “The dog show judging in this film is depicted completely accurately as done at shows around the world; and was performed by professional and highly respected dog show judges. Global Road Entertainment and the filmmakers are saddened and apologize to any parent who feels the scene sends a message other than a comedic moment in the film, with no hidden or ulterior meaning, but respect their right to react to any piece of content.”

How one writer reacted to the original “Show Dogs” version

A writer whose piece appeared on Kirk Cameron’s faith-based website, The Courage, described taking her family to see “Show Dogs,” noting she was disturbed by the genital-touching plot line. Her daughter, however, said “her favorite part of the movie was when Max got his privates touched and the funny reaction he had.”

Terina Maldonado, the author of the piece, shared that she “decided to use that moment to help reinforce what we have taught our children since they were little, private parts are just that, private.”

“We talked about how I didn’t feel that part needed to be in the movie. We talked about how we never let anyone touch our private parts, and what they should do if anyone tries,” she added. “We reinforced that if anyone tries to touch their private parts or asks them to touch their private parts they should talk to us about that. We talked about different ways children can feel pressured to participate in those types of behaviors.”

You can read Maldonado’s entire piece here.

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