STANLEY BLACK & DECKER INVESTING $90M TO SHIFT MORE CRAFTSMAN PRODUCTION BACK TO U.S.

Stanley Black & Decker announced on Wednesday that it was investing $90 million in a plant in Texas – a move aimed at continuing its effort to shift production of a range of Craftsman products back to the U.S.

The new 425,000-square-foot facility will be located in Fort Worth, where tools ranging from sockets, ratchets, wrenches to general sets will be produced

Japan ends longstanding trade restrictions on American beef, setting stage for exports to grow.

Japan has agreed to lift longstanding restrictions on American beef exports, clearing the way for U.S. products to enter the market regardless of age, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Friday.

The news comes on the heels of other important trade developments on Friday, including the Trump administration’s plans to delay auto tariffs on the EU and Japan and lift steel tariffs on Canada and Mexico.

In 2005, Japan imposed restrictions on cattle over 30 months old for U.S. beef imports in response to the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, sometimes known as mad cow disease.

According to the USDA announcement, Japan agreed to remove that age limit for U.S. beef imports. The new terms, which take effect immediately, allow U.S. products from all cattle, regardless of age, to enter Japan for the first time since 2003, the government said.

“This is great news for American ranchers and exporters who now have full access to the Japanese market for their high-quality, safe, wholesome, and delicious U.S. beef,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement. “We are hopeful that Japan’s decision will help lead other markets around the world toward science-based policies.”

American beef sales to Japan topped $2 billion last year, representing approximately one-fourth of all U.S. beef exports.

 

NRA Documents Reveal LaPierre Expense Details

Looking at the numbers and names, it has the look that the hierarchy in the NRA and some ‘contractors’ have been taking advantage of a lack of oversight.

The growing turmoil within the NRA is no secret. It bubbled up into the mainstream media and began to boil over at the annual membership meeting in Indianapolis (though a lid was quickly put on that pot to keep the matter among board members and officers).

If you need to catch up, read thisthis and this.

In short, a battle took place within the NRA over spending. Longtime marketing and PR firm Ackerman-McQueen had billed the organization for tens of millions of dollars over the years. When factions within the NRA tried to account for that spending, Ack-Mac wouldn’t or couldn’t provide details.

That resulted in an unprecedented lawsuit filed against Ackerman by the NRA.

In the run-up to the Indianapolis annual meetings, efforts were made to also account for the huge amounts paid to attorney William Brewer and his firm. Brewer is representing the NRA in litigation against the state of New York in connection with the NRA’s Carry Guard insurance program (that suit was dealt a setback yesterday).

We found out that on the eve of The Indianapolis meetings, NRA President Oliver North and other board members and large contributors confronted EVP and CEO Wayne LaPierre and asked for his resignation. They reportedly threatened to reveal embarrassing information about LaPierre if he didn’t step down.

LaPierre refused and responded with a fiery letter to the board. North resigned.

Sure enough, not long after North’s departure, details of excessive spending by LaPierre on clothing and travel came out and were reported in the mainstream media, along with more allegations of self-dealing, lack of internal controls and wild over-spending.

Why would LaPierre funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars in clothing and travel expenses through Ack-Mac? The only answer that comes to mind is he wanted to launder them through the PR company’s billings in order to charge them to the NRA without detail. If there’s another legitimate explanation, we haven’t heard it.

Now a number of additional relevant documents have leaked (see below), including correspondence from North expressing the need to hire an outside counsel to investigate the huge legal fees being paid to Brewer’s firm as part of the board’s fiduciary duty to its membership.

Keep in mind two things: 1) though he was President of the NRA, North’s salary was paid by Ackerman McQueen, and 2) Brewer, the outside attorney (who filed the lawsuit against Ackerman), is married to the daughter Angus McQueen, co-CEO of Ack-Mac.

A number of observers, NRA members and others, have dismissed these reports published by outlets like The New Yorker and Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun propaganda outlet, The Trace. They claim that this is all just a targeted hit job against America’s oldest civil rights organization.

While those two publications and others no doubt relish these chances to land punches, that doesn’t mean the NRA doesn’t actually have very serious financial and managerial problems that need to be addressed with all possible speed.

As we’ve said before, the defense and preservation of gun rights in this country is served by a strong, influential National Rifle Association. But judging by conversations we’ve had with people who know, as well as media reports, the NRA has gotten itself into a precarious situation through years (decades?) of questionable spending, sweetheart deals, cronyism and a disturbing lack of managerial control and board oversight over basic operations.

The NRA is now facing investigations by the New York State Attorney General and possibly the IRS which could jeopardize its non-profit status.

AOC And Bernie Have A Brilliant New Idea For Banking

There are dumb ideas and then there’s whatever this is.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders have teamed up to introduce the idea of “non-profit banking services” done via the post office, where sub-prime loans would be given out to people who are terrible credit risks, thereby causing high default rates. Because absolutely nothing bad could come of that.

Wait, didn’t we have a financial crisis the last time this was tried?

This is simply moronic and I don’t use that term lightly.

No one “discriminates” against people of color when it comes to loans. Banks want to turn a profit, full stop. That’s their only motivator. They don’t care if you are purple. The reason minority groups have a harder time getting loans is because they include higher rates of individuals who do not have the credit nor capital to be lent to. Loans are not handouts or a right. They exist with the sole supposition being that the person given the loan must pay it back with interest. Handing out loans to high credit risks is how you get a crash like we had in 2008.

Yet, here’s AOC and Bernie suggesting that not only should banks give out junk loans, but that the Postal Service should be doing the lending. That’s the same Postal Service that lost $3.6B last year alone. Now these two socialists want them to take on even more losses via giving out bad loans? It’s completely insane.

Never mind how big of an invasion of privacy it would be for the government to have round the clock, full access to everyone’s banking records.

What’s happening here is obvious though. AOC is just a crazy person, but Bernie is doing this to help bolster his floundering Presidential campaign. Biden has stepped in and cleaned his clock since announcing. Bernie is now losing to Elizabeth Warren in some polls. He needs to get back in the news and this is his way of doing so.

At Sturm Ruger Annual Meeting, Activist Investors Push For ‘Smart Gun’ Products

For these ‘so-called activists’ (pro-marxist, anti-gun/American civil rights/capitalist system leftist Social Justice Warriors, FIFY) the ‘change in internal policy’ is to try and make the company do something that will eventually bankrupt the company and force closure. One more step on the road to the goal of only the government and other ‘approved’ people having access to arms.

The realization that there are people that can and who will be armed and that can and who will take ‘exception’ to tyrants– in any guise -concerns them since it’s a direct threat to the plans of forcing their idea of Utopia on Earth down the throats of the benighted masses who don’t know any better.

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”— C. S. Lewis

At Sturm Ruger’s annual shareholder meeting in New London, N.H., Wednesday, the gun manufacturer defended its business model and rejected a push to unseat two board members.

In recent years Ruger, which is based in Connecticut and employs approximately 1,000 people at a facility in Newport, N.H., has been targeted by so-called activist investors who buy shares in publicly traded companies and then attempt to change internal policies.

Led by several faith-based groups who are members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, those investors are pushing the company to reduce the risk of gun violence, in part, by developing “smart gun” products that can’t fire without an owner’s fingerprint or other unlocking feature.

Ruger CEO Christopher Killoy responded during the meeting that rolling out a line of these weapons would be a financial loser.

“While people think there is often a great market for ‘smart guns,’ or user-authorized technology, we are not seeing it,” he said.

The company’s decision to not pursue smart guns frustrated Colleen Scanlon, an activist investor with Catholic Health Initiatives, which is based in Colorado, where a school shooting on Tuesday killed one student and injured others.

“We find management’s decision dangerously short sighted. It ignores a significant business opportunity, as well as one of the most promising prospects for reducing gun violence,” Scanlon told shareholders.

Last year, Scanlon and other faith-based activist investors successfully persuaded Ruger shareholders to adopt a resolution requiring the company to produce a reportinvestigating the viability of smart guns and how the company assesses risks related to gun violence.

This year, the activist group failed in its efforts to remove two members of the board of directors, including Chairman Michael Jacobi and Sandra Froman, who served as NRA president in the mid 2000s……

Trump administration forces China to sell the Port of Long Beach

Demoncrap President Clinton okayed the deal to sell the port to the Chinese, which was completed in 1980, giving the the Chinese commies a firm foothold on U.S. soil for the first time. With President Trump in charge, the DOJ and Homeland Security finally got their heads out of their 4th points of contact and told the Chinese to get the hell out of town.

The Trump Administration’s Department of Homeland Security has forced China’s state-owned Costco to sell the Port of Long Beach over security concerns.

China’s Costco Shipping Holdings, which bought out its 75 percent-owned Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas International (OOCL), was forced to sell its Port of Long Beach Container Terminal ownership to Macquarie Infrastructure Partners for $1.78 billion.

The Obama administration had no problems with OOCL signing a 40-year lease with the City of Long Beach in 2012 for control of America’s second largest and most automated container handling operation. The sweetheart deal was part of the “Middle Harbor Redevelopment Program” to fund a $1.5 billion expansion through 2020.

But one of the first major actions of the Trump administration’s Department of Homeland Security in March 2017 was issuing a ‘Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S.’ national-security hold on Costco’s acquisition of a former U.S. Navy port facility.

China operates six of the world’s 10 busiest container ports. The Chinese government has also funded the construction and operations of 43 ports in 35 countries under its ‘One Belt and One Road’ (OBOR) initiative launched five years ago, according to China’s Ministry of Transport.

Forget Facebook, They Want to Revoke Your Access to Banking
Social media deplatforming is only the beginning; The ultimate social credit score nightmare is coming.

The biggest threat that social media censorship poses is not you being unable to access Facebook or Twitter, it’s you not being able to get a mortgage or have a bank account.

The end result of Big Tech silencing conservative voices is banks and corporations removing your access to the marketplace and severely restricting your basic right to buy and sell.

We have already seen numerous instances of people being deplatformed by BANKS for the political opinions, from Mastercard telling Patreon to remove Robert Spencer’s account, to Martina Markota and Enrique Tarrio having services terminated by Chase Bank over their support for Trump.

Mastercard also recently indicated that it would hold a vote on whether to cut off payments to “global far-right political leaders”. But this will extend to everyone. Mastercard will ‘monitor’ your financial activity for indications of dissident behavior. That’s chilling.

Before Infowars was banned by Paypal and numerous other payment processors last year, despite having an impeccable credit score, the company was slapped with a designation akin to having ties to terrorism, making banks averse to doing any business with Infowars.

Payment processors and banks are now using similar ‘dangerous person’ designations as Facebook and other Big Tech outfits to not only deplatform, but to designate a person an “extremist” for life

Once marked as an “extremist,” this designation is then intended to apply to every other area of your life.

This is the ultimate nightmare scenario – a Communist Chinese-style social credit system where you will be denied banking, loans and given poor credit rating if you associate with people or espouse views deemed “dangerous” by the establishment, which at this point is anything that counters their narrative.

Facebook already announced it will ban people merely for mentioning people like Alex Jones or Gavin McInnes or sharing their content without simultaneously denouncing it. In the near future, AI will make this process instantaneous.

Let that sink in. A giant corporation which controls the new public square is telling its 2.3 billion users what political opinions they must hold in order to be allowed to have free expression.

How to Talk to Millennials About Capitalism.

For generations, younger Americans found Communists just as scary as Count Dracula, the Wicked Witch of the West, and Darth Vader. Socialism, so strongly associated with Marx and Lenin, never caught on in the United States. To modern millennials, however, fear of socialism seems as ancient as a rotary phone.

In March 2019, Axios released results from a Harris poll showing that about half of millennial and Generation Z respondents believed that “our economy should be mostly socialist.” That result is no outlier, but rather a consistent finding over recent years. In 2018, Gallup found that 51 percent of 18- to 29-year-old Americans view socialism favorably; only 45 percent look at capitalism positively.

An August 2018 YouGov poll revealed that only 30 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds had good feelings toward capitalism, while 35 percent regarded socialism positively. Bernie Sanders, an avowed Democratic Socialist, nearly captured the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, thanks in part to youth support. Another Democratic Socialist, newly elected House member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York, herself a millennial, has achieved overnight celebrity, accumulating more than 3 million Twitter followers while trumpeting a 70 percent marginal tax rate.

Just 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, how can socialism have made such a comeback? The likeliest answer: the Great Recession left millennials looking for alternatives to capitalism, without the Cold War ideological guideposts that positioned older generations. Both the Right and the Left have redefined socialism, moreover, so that many young supporters now think that it just means a cuddlier, more equitable government.

Yet even if socialism has been redefined, its rising approval among the young is still a problem for proponents of economic liberty. For decades, apostles of free markets could condemn bad economic ideas merely by branding them “socialist,” because real-world Marxists did such a good job of showing how much evil could radiate from a state-controlled economy. But those negative examples are mostly vanquished now.

The task ahead is to convince today’s young people that society requires liberty as well as compassion. The private ingenuity that generates new products and new jobs needs both incentives and reasonable regulation. If our current politics tell us anything, it is that this case must be made again, with arguments that resonate among Americans who’ve probably never heard of Lavrentiy Beria.

 

Returning to Roots Best Chance for NRA to Heal Self-Inflicted Wounds

U.S.A. – -(Ammoland.com)- “Stop the NRA shutdown,” a “critical update” in the latest American Rifleman urges.”New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has launched an all-out crusade to destroy NRA and put us out of business forever.”

No doubt the insufferable totalitarian wannabe would like to try. But as events unfolded over the weekend, resulting for the short term with Oliver North’s ouster as association president, it appears the greatest danger comes from within.

Not that Wayne LaPierre prevailing, for now, is a “win” for membership. Nor would it be had North succeeded. This was a coup attempt by NRA’s long-term PR firm Ackerman McQueen to replace former gravy train riders with current ones. There are no clean hands here, and with the weekend battle “won” by current management, don’t expect dramatic changes in the way things are run as long as they’re in power.

That means concerns being expressed by an increasing number of woke and angry members will continue to be glossed over by Fairfax “leadership.” We’ll continue to see NRA endorsing “compromise” infringements, with carefully-crafted statements giving de facto green lights to bump stock “regulations” and “red flag” confiscations, and with just enough weasel-wording for plausible deniability damage control when things blow up. We’ll continue to see dishonest political grades and endorsements that come back and bite gun owners. We’ll continue to see deliberate indifference to holding those politicians accountable for the single greatest threat to future “legal” recognition of the right to keep and bear arms – the overwhelmingly Democrat-favoring “pathway to citizenship.”  And we’ll continue to see an organization that puts more energy into “Enforce existing Intolerable Acts” than it puts on “shall not be infringed.”

And of course, we’ll see continued appeals for money, no matter if the flacking is outsourced or increasingly done in-house. Someone’s gotta pay for the salaries and perks.

A meme that’s being increasingly parroted by the gun-grabbers as a way out is that NRA must “return to its sportsman’s roots.” Understand that this is being done by people who really do want to take your guns. Don’t think for a moment they’re saying this to be helpful, any more than Democrats urging Republicans to be more “centrist” are concerned with helping the Party regain appeal. Surrenders simply mean there will be fewer battles that the enemy (what do you think those who want to disarm you are?) will need to win.

Those calling for such a return want NRA out of politics and focused on being Fudds.  They really just want to be able to pass disarmament edicts, elect gun-grabbing politicians and appoint anti-gun judges without any significant organized opposition. Curiously, although unintended by those offering such “advice,” returning to its roots is exactly what is needed.

NRA Bylaws define (and mandate) the association’s “purposes and objectives”:

“To protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially with reference to the inalienable right of the individual American citizen guaranteed by such constitution to acquire, possess, collect, exhibit, transport, carry, transfer ownership of, and enjoy the right to use firearms in order that the people may always be in a position to exercise their legitimate individual rights of self-preservation in defense of family, person and property as well as to serve effectively in the appropriate militia for the common defense of the republic and the individual liberty of its citizens.”

What the root-pullers either don’t know (or do, but have no intention of ruining a “good” meme by admitting), is that it wasn’t until after WWII that “the NRA concentrated its efforts on another much-needed arena for education and training: the hunting community.” The NRA’s real roots:

“Dismayed by the lack of marksmanship shown by their troops, Union veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate formed the National Rifle Association in 1871.”

There you have it. They wanted to train American citizens to become proficient in keeping and bearing “weapons of war.” Everything else, per founding intent, was to support that root goal.

We now have an NRA with member schisms running from apologists seemingly forgiving of any self-created failures from the top, and a growing number of increasingly vocal gun owners making pledges like “not one more dime.” If anything, the divisions between the two camps are getting wider and the rhetoric more heated.

What’s clear is, the danger from such internecine strife has the potential to be more destructive to NRA than anything Cuomo or Bloomberg could throw at it. Unless a thorough, top-down housecleaning and a credible effort to earn back lost trust are made, don’t expect the chasm to close, and certainly don’t expect the disillusioned to reopen their wallets.

NRA’s Wayne LaPierre Says He Is Being Extorted, Pressured to Resign
Group’s longtime leader says Oliver North, president of the NRA, wants him out

Longtime National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre has told the group’s board he is being extorted and pressured to resign by the organization’s president, Oliver North, over allegations of financial improprieties, in a battle stirring up one of the nation’s most powerful nonprofit political groups.

In a letter sent to NRA board members late Thursday afternoon, Mr. LaPierre, the group’s CEO and executive vice president, said he refused the demand. Instead he called on board members to “see this for what it is: a threat meant to intimidate and divide us.”

READ THE LETTER

Mr. North sent his own letter to the board late Thursday evening, in which he said his actions were for the good of the NRA and that he was forming a crisis committee to examine financial matters inside the organization, according to people familiar with its contents.

Mr. North previously had sent a longer letter to the board’s executive committee detailing new allegations of financial improprieties involving more than $200,000 of wardrobe purchases by Mr. LaPierre that were charged to a vendor, according to the people. One of those people described Mr. LaPierre’s letter as an “angry reaction” to Mr. North’s longer letter.

The behind-the-scenes brawl is taking place amid the gun-rights group’s big annual meeting, at which President Trump spoke Friday.

Insiders say matters will come to a head by Monday, when the NRA’s full 76-member board is set to meet.

The fight stems in part from a dispute between the NRA and its longtime advertising firm, Ackerman McQueen Inc., which resulted in a lawsuit filed by the NRA earlier this month. In the suit, the group claimed Ackerman McQueen had refused to provide records justifying its billings. Ackerman McQueen has called the lawsuit “frivolous” and “inaccurate.”

One of the NRA’s claims was that for months it had been stymied in attempts to get details of the ad firm’s contract with Mr. North, a former Marine Corps officer and Iran-Contra figure who hosts a documentary program on NRATV produced by Ackerman McQueen.

According to Mr. LaPierre’s letter to board members, which the The Wall Street Journal has reviewed, Mr. North called an NRA senior staffer Wednesday to convey a message to the NRA chief. In the call, according to the letter, Mr. North said that unless Mr. LaPierre resigned, Ackerman McQueen was prepared to send a letter to the NRA board that would be “bad for me, two other members of my executive team and the Association.”

Is the NRA in need of a new leadership or is the status quo better for its advocacy of Second Amendment rights? Join the conversation below.

The letter, Mr. LaPierre wrote the board, “would contain a devastating account of our financial status, sexual harassment charges against a staff member, accusations of wardrobe expenses and excessive staff travel expenses.”

Mr. LaPierre added that after the call “others informed me that I needed to withdraw the NRA lawsuit against [Ackerman McQueen] or be smeared.”

A spokesman for Ackerman McQueen said it would have no comment.

As for the wardrobe costs, NRA second Vice President Carolyn Meadows said the expenses dated back 15 years and “a wardrobe allowance is not that extraordinary” for the NRA chief, who has “participated in literally thousands of speeches and hundreds of television appearances during that time.”

The letter also claims that Mr. North told the NRA staffer the letter wouldn’t be sent if Mr. LaPierre promptly resigned. If Mr. LaPierre supported Mr. North’s continued tenure as NRA president, the letter claimed, Mr. North stated he could negotiate an “excellent retirement” package for the NRA chief.

Mr. LaPierre wrote that the threat was couched, “in the parlance of extortionists, as an offer I couldn’t refuse. I refused it.”

In the letter, Mr. LaPierre said Mr. North was paid “millions of dollars annually” by Ackerman McQueen, for a dozen episodes of his series, “Oliver North’s American Heroes.” But only three episodes have been delivered thus far, Mr. LaPierre wrote, and the NRA has demanded to know what it is paying for “in light of these production shortfalls.”

Ackerman McQueen “appears to have responded indirectly by trying to oust me,” Mr. LaPierre wrote.

The dispute pits two high-profile conservative figures against each other. Mr. LaPierre has headed the NRA for close to 30 years. During his tenure, the group shifted from being a grass-roots organization to a nationally powerful advocacy organization with strong political sway when it comes to its core gun-rights message.

Mr. North is a conservative folk hero from his tenure in the 1980s on the National Security Council and his role in the Iran-Contra scandal. He became NRA president a year ago as the group searched for a higher-profile figure as its finances sagged after Mr. Trump’s election eased concerns about more gun regulations under another Democratic administration.

The NRA president must stand for reelection every year, but in recent years most presidents have served for two years. Mr. North’s first term is scheduled to end Monday.

Banks Accused of Discrimination Against Gun Owners.

The House Financial Services Committee’s recent hearing to scrutinize the nation’s largest banks and their practices after they received taxpayer dollars in the 2008 bailout featured some interesting comments by bank executives defending policies that discriminate against gun owners and the firearms manufacturing industry.

During the April 12 “Holding Megabanks Accountable: A Review of Global Systemically Important Banks 10 years after the Financial Crisis” hearing, Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat basically said imposing the institution’s ant-gun policy is a higher priority than wisely managing investors’ money.

In an April 18 Town Hall column, National Shooting Sports Foundation [NSSF] Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel Larry Keane applauded National Center Public Policy Research and Free Enterprise Project attorney Justin Danhof’s questioning of Corbat during the hearing.

It was gratifying to see Corbat and other banking executives “getting asked some hard questions about fiscal sanity of their decision to discriminate against firearms businesses” especially since “their answers aren’t likely to soothe investors,” Keane writes.

During the hearing, Danhof asked Corbat, “Can you tell us—your investors—exactly how much money we stand to lose because of this decision, and explain why you have this right while Warren Buffet has this wrong?”…………..

Citigroup’s anti-gun policies are hurting its investors, Keane said, noting Louisiana has barred Citigroup for competing for a $600 million road improvement project, “for interfering the lawful commerce-in-arms,” and U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-ND, and U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, have introduced the Freedom Financing Act (S. 821/H.R. 2019), which would prevent banks from accessing taxpayer-funded insurance if they institute discriminatory policies against the firearms industry.

Firearms manufacturer choosing Little Rock for headquarters; 565 jobs coming in 6 years
Firearms manufacturer CZ-USA chooses Little Rock for headquarters, production

They’re HQ right now is in Kansas City Kansas. So, it looks like they may have got  better deal from Arkansas for manufacturing.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News Release) – CZ-USA, the U.S.-based affiliate of Czech firearms manufacturer Česká zbrojovka a.s. Uherský Brod (CZUB), announced today plans to locate their North American Headquarters and build a new manufacturing facility on approximately 73 acres at the Port of Little Rock. CZ-USA plans to implement a two-phase approach with an investment of up to $90 million and create some 565 jobs over a six-year period. CZ products are considered some of the highest-quality firearms in defense, competition and sport shooting around the world.

“As CZ looked to increase our presence in North America, it engaged in a multi-state search for the ideal location,” said Bogdan Heczko, CZ-USA chairman of the board. “The Arkansas workforce, culture, business climate and industry support cleared the way for us to choose Little Rock as our new home.”

In 2018, the Czech Republic imported some $2.6 million in commodities into Arkansas, and Arkansas exports to the country totaled roughly $8.2 million. Nearly 160 foreign-owned companies have some 300 operations in the state; however, CZ-USA is the first Czech company to have a presence in Arkansas.

“We are honored to have a world-renowned brand such as CZ call Arkansas home,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson. “The location in the growing Port of Little Rock, combined with the high-paying jobs created by the company, will improve the quality of life for all Arkansans.”

Construction will begin immediately, with initial start-up planned for March 2020. Production at the Little Rock facility will commence in two, three-year phases.

American Express Demands the Names of Buyers of Amex Branded LifeCard .22 Pistols

You’ve probably seen Trailblazer Firearms’ little LifeCard single shot .22 pistol. It folds neatly into the size of a credit card for handy, discreet carry. Trailblazer’s adorned some special edition LifeCard models with custom designs like the one above.

One thing Trailblazer hasn’t done, however, is decorate LifeCards to look like actual credit cards. But some of their retailers have (see this example of one that looks like an elite Amex black card that The Firearm Blog spotted).

Here’s Trailblazer’s press release about the kerfuffle . . .

Is it a Gun or a Credit Card?

American Express Company (AMEX) issues a ‘cease and desist letter to Trailblazer Firearms for Intellectual Property Misuse.

Asheville, N.C. (April 2019) – Trailblazer Firearms the company setting a new standard for discreet carry with the folding, single-shot .22 LifeCard® pistol, the size of a stack of credit cards, has received a letter from the American Express Company demanding that Trailblazer remove any images or products that feature “the use of American Express’s trademarks including, … the image of American Express’s CENTURION® Card and its component elements, as well as of the AMERICAN EXPRESS® trademark, and on all websites and social media sites (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) where Trailblazer Firearms may be advertising, promoting, and/or offering its products.”

Included in the letter dated March 27, 2019 is AMEX’s demand to provide them with the names and addresses of the individuals any products were sold to, plus the address of the individual whose name appears in the image associated with Exhibit 3 of the letter.

Trailblazer LifeCard Pistol American Express

Courtesy Trailblazer Firearms

“The size and surface area of the LifeCard is a perfect platform for a variety of finishes, “Aaron Voigt, founder and president of Trailblazer Firearms, said. “when I saw the LifeCard engraved in the style of an actual AMEX credit card I thought it was really clever since many people don’t believe our marketing efforts that claim the gun is actually the size of a credit card.” However, since their receipt of the cease and desist order from American Express, Trailblazer Firearms has agreed not to use the AMEX image in its marketing and acknowledges that American Express is in no way associated and has not approved of any products being offered using its trademarks.

Trailblazer Firearms offers the LifeCard in two special edition patriotic finishes on their website: “We The People” Special Edition LifeCard .22LR and the American Flag Special Edition LifeCard .22LR.

Founded just five years ago, Trailblazer Firearms formed to develop innovative, American-made firearms. The LifeCard, the first product from Trailblazer Firearms, was launched in 2017. While there was much skepticism pre-launch, when the mighty and tiny pistol finally hit the market, the sales exceeded Trailblazer Firearms owner, Aaron Voigt’s, biggest expectations. Customers and product reviewers hailed the exceptional workmanship in fit and finish. Performance expectations were easily met supporting the challenge that the compact, pocket-fitting pistol would shoot accurately and comfortably, whether for small varmint control or just having fun at the range.

Trailblazer Firearms will be exhibiting the LifeCard®, a folding, single-shot .22 LR and .22WMR pistol at booth 8457 during the 2019 NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Indianapolis, Indiana, April 26 – 28, 2019.

For more information on Trailblazer Firearms, visit www.trailblazerfirearms.com and stay in the conversation on Facebook.

About Trailblazer Firearms:

Trailblazer Firearms, headquartered in Asheville, North Carolina, was founded in 2014 to design, develop, manufacture and market innovative American-made firearms. The LifeCard® is available through Ellett Brothers, Jerry’s Sport Center, Hicks Inc., Bill Hicks, Zanders Sporting Goods, Amchar Wholesale, Ron Shirk Shooters Supplies, Williams Shooters Supply, MGE, Orion Arms Corp., Lew Horton Distribution Co., Gunarama, VF Grace, and Chattanooga Shooting Supplies.www.trailblazerfirearms.com

 

US Weekly Jobless Claims Drop to the Lowest Level Since 1969

The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits dropped to a 49-1/2-year low last week, pointing to sustained labor market strength that could temper expectations of a sharp slowdown in economic growth.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 196,000 for the week ended April 6, the lowest level since early October 1969. Claims have now declined for four straight weeks. Data for the prior week was revised to show 2,000 more applications received than previously reported.

MadMaxine Waters Grills Big Bank CEOs About Student Loans — Which Were Nationalized in 2010

Rep. Maxine Waters seemed to demonstrate that she is in over her head Wednesday when she queried several bank executives about student loans even though they were nationalized under former president Obama nearly a decade ago.

Waters is the chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee — the committee that regulates the banks.

During a hearing examining the practices of some of the nation’s biggest banks, Waters complained to a panel of seven bank CEOs that there are more than 44 million Americans that owe … $1.56 trillion in student loan debt.”

She added, “Last year, one million student loan borrowers defaulted, which is on top of the one million borrowers who defaulted the year before.”

She then demanded to know what they intended to do about this massive problem. “What are you guys doing to help us with this student loan debt?” she asked. “Who would like to answer first? Mr. Monahan, big bank.”

Ms. Waters replied, “Oh, so you don’t do it anymore. Mr. Corbat?”

Said Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat: “We exited student lending in 2009.”

James Dimon, JPMorgan Chase chairman and CEO, finally spilled the beans: “When the government took over student lending in 2010 or so, we stopped doing all student lending,” he said.

Waters then quickly changed the subject to small businesses.

The Obama administration put the federal government in charge of student lending in 2010, with the intention of saving taxpayer dollars by “cutting out the middleman,” as President Barack Obama put it.

According to the Washington Times, “student loan debt exploded from $154.9 billion in 2009 to $1.1 trillion at the end of 2017”  with current student debt “estimated at more than $1.5 trillion.”

Venezuela reports collapse in oil supply, tightening global market.

In a monthly report, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said Venezuela told the group that it pumped 960,000 barrels per day (bpd) in March, a drop of almost 500,000 bpd from February.

 

OPEC’s oil production plunges to four-year low in March as Saudis slash output

OPEC’s output fell by 534,000 bpd in March to 30.02 million bpd, according to independent sources cited by the group in its monthly report. This year, supply from the group has fallen by more than 1.5 million bpd, helping to drive international Brent crude prices 30 percent higher.

Much of the March decline is due to Saudi Arabia’s willingness to aggressively cut production. In March, the Saudis took another 324,000 bpd off the market, bringing output to just under 9.8 million bpd and delivering on Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih’s vow to pump well below 10 million bpd.

And now you know why gas prices have been going Up! Up! Up!!

How Trump can stop Democrats from unfairly punishing the gun industry

President Trump can do one simple thing that would, with one stroke of his pen, save little businesses across America, bring fairness to a politically incorrect industry that voted for him and stop another attempt to bankrupt America’s gun manufacturers.

Trump can approve a reform to modernize our export-control language so that it includes the U.S. ammunition and firearms industry. All the other industry sectors that were involved have already benefited from this process, when their oversight for export was moved from the U.S. Department of State to the import-export experts at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The process for doing this was actually begun in the Obama administration, but they decided at the last minute to exclude America’s firearms industry for political reasons.

Currently, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., has a hold on the publication of this final rule, but he used this Senate procedure too late, after the formal 30-day notice ended, so the Trump administration can approve the rule.

OK, this might sound like a wonky topic that isn’t a big deal, but it is a problem that is crushing small businesses and making U.S. industry less competitive on the world stage, which is costing American jobs.

Incredibly, because this industry is now regulated by the State Department, the federal government is telling gunsmiths they must pay an annual $2,250 fee to comply with the Arms Export Control Act. This Act requires any business that updates, improves or modifies a firearm (since it’s considered to be a “defense article”) to register with the State Department as a “manufacturer” of a “defense article” (guns) and pay $2,250 every year.

The big manufacturers can eat that fee, but most gunsmiths are small, part-time businesses that specialize in fixing hunting and sporting-related firearms. They can’t afford to pay this fee.

Since this industry is regulated by the State Department, gun and ammunition manufacturers must also get congressional approval for all foreign orders over $1 million. If, say, an American gun company wants to compete to sell more than $1 million in rifles to Germany or another NATO member, it must first get State Department approval and then a thumbs up from Congress. This congressional review is often held up by anti-gun Democrats in the Senate, who like to make it impossible for gun companies to compete for foreign contracts.

Other industries had the same issue before the reform process moved their oversight to the Commerce Department. The gun industry is being singled out by Democrats in Congress because these politicians see this as another way to restrict, smother and punish the gun industry.

The latest excuse – word is this is what’s stalling approval from the Trump administration – is this reform is being tangled in the 3D gun-printing dispute.

The State Department had previously ruled that gun schematics that can be used by 3D printers to make gun parts can’t be posted on the Internet, as a non-U.S. citizen could conceivably download them and that would be an illegal export of a “defense article.”

Democrats are using this as an excuse to stop this reform from including the gun and ammo industry. They can make that sound like a reasonable objection to anyone who doesn’t understand that what we’re talking about are technologies for commonly owned rifles, handguns and other small arms and ammunition that hunters and those who enjoy the shootings sports use and have used for generations.

Trump Ends Obama’s Taxpayer-Funded Mortgages for Illegal aliens

When Barack Obama implemented his unilateral amnesty for illegal aliens who claimed to have entered this country before the age of sixteen, the illegally amnestied illegals qualified for many benefits.

One of these were FHA loans.

FHA loans are government-backed mortgages meant for poorer Americans unable to qualify for normal mortgages. Democrat abuse of the FHA helped lead to the Great Recession and in the years afterward, FHA insured loans hit losses of $70 billion. By 2012, the FHA was $16 billion in the hole and had to be bailed out. The delinquency rate for FHA loans is still more than three times higher than normal loans, and depending on the period, have hovered between 8% and 14%. Time to bring in the illegal aliens.

When Obama illegally implemented DACA, a program exempting certain illegal aliens from government action, they were also allowed to apply for FHA loans. How many illegal aliens obtained FHA loans?

In December, a letter from three Senate Democrats claimed that HUD barred “approximately 800,000 individuals approved for DACA from FHA-insured mortgage loans”. This refers to the total number of DACA illegal aliens and it’s unknown how many of them have obtained FHA loans in past years.

Ellie Mae’s millennial tracker estimated that the average size of an FHA loan to millennials is $186,454. Potential exposure to illegal alien mortgages could then climb as improbably high as $150 billion.

It’s unknown how many illegal aliens have taken out FHA loans, but some media stories have cited loan officers for whom illegal alien FHA loans represent a significant percentage of their business.

The Trump administration has applied the brakes to this avalanche of taxpayer-insured mortgages to illegal aliens. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) had begun notifying lenders that the FHA was no longer in the illegal alien mortgage business. The reasons were common sense. DACA illegal aliens, or in media spin, DREAMERs, were not legal residents and weren’t being legalized.

Under Obama, FHA rules had been bent so far backward that people who were not only non-citizens, not only non-permanent residents, but weren’t even legally here, were having taxpayers guarantee their mortgages. Not only hadn’t the Democrats learned anything from the Great Recession, they were determined to make the irresponsible behavior of the FHA a decade ago seem sober and sensible.

And they aren’t giving up.

The December letter by Senator Menendez, who had recently been on trial for corruption charges, Senator Booker, on whose watch the $100 million poured into Newark public schools dissipated, and Senator Cortez-Mastro, who had been accused of taking dirty money, claimed to be, “appalled that the Trump Administration would exploit a federal government program to deny Dreamers an opportunity of owning their own home.” But it was the Democrats who had exploited a federal government program meant for poor Americans to benefit not only foreigners, but illegal aliens with no right to be here.

The letter by the three Senator Democrats falsely claimed that President Trump was targeting a “portion of the American public”, when in fact illegal aliens are not part of the American public. They demanded, “sound and unambiguous legal reasoning” for the move. The sound and unambiguous reasoning would be that illegal aliens are not legally resident in the United States and therefore do not qualify for loans.

The illegal alien mortgage business, built on the backs of American taxpayers, is obviously profitable. But it’s also a silent nuclear weapon threatening mass destruction of the economy in case of deportations.

The more illegal aliens end up with FHA loans, and as those FHA loans are turned into Ginnie Mae Mortgage Backed Securities, deporting DACA illegal aliens would risk mass defaults on FHA loans which are backed by American taxpayers. Quite a few Ginnie Mae bonds are being held by Japan and China.

That’s why HUD’s move of stopping the flow of FHA loans to illegal aliens is so vital and important.

Why Is The ATF Making Secret Rules For The Firearms Industry?

Federal rulemaking should be open and transparent. This outcome is supposedly ensured by the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946 (APA).

Across federal agencies, the rules should be the same for everyone. They should be open for public comment while still in draft form and publicly available once finalized. Moreover, every industry and every individual should get the same answer to the same question. Anything less is not rulemaking: it is arbitrary government.

As conservatives have anxiously pointed out for years, the rise of the administrative state has corrupted the rulemaking process. Enabled by an overly-deferential judiciary and a supine Congress have allowed agencies to move beyond drawing up rules to implement carefully written laws passed by Congress. Now, regulators take block grants of Congressional power to make their own laws as they see fit. This is incompatible with the continued existence of the United States as a constitutional republic.

So conservatives rightly cheered when President Trump, in one of his first acts in office, issued a “2 for 1” executive order, requiring the federal government to cut two rules for every new rule it issued. They cheered again when former Attorney General Jeff Sessions reined in administrative rulemakers in the Department of Justice. His Nov. 16, 2017, memo prohibited them from using public guidance documents as a substitute for rule-making under the APA and required to work within the authority delegated by Congress.

All of this was entirely for the good. But in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the ATF, it has gone entirely wrong.

The Sessions memo was backed up in January 2018 by a new Department of Justice policy that “prohibits the use of agency guidance documents in affirmative civil litigation in a manner that would convert such guidance into binding rules of conduct.” The ATF understood these directives to mean that it had to stop issuing public, industry-wide guidance or opinions—the very documents that could ensure uniform compliance in industry with existing regulations. When this author reached out to ATF for comment, the ATF stated that it was of course abiding by the former Attorney General’s memo, and that “we do not interpret the law.”

As a result of its understanding, the ATF now operates almost exclusively by private letters. It has not published a ruling on firearms or explosives since July 2017, and its only notifications on proposed rule-making since December 2017 relate to the politically-charged (and politically-motivated) pursuit of bump stocks.

This was not the outcome the Sessions memo envisaged. The memo makes it clear that “not every agency action is required to undergo notice-and-comment rulemaking…. [A]gencies may use guidance and similar documents to educate regulated parties through plain-language restatements of existing legal requirements or provide non-binding advice on technical issues.” The point of the memo was to prevent department rule-makers from using public guidance documents to evade the rulemaking process, not to stop them from issuing any public guidance at all. Education is not interpretation.

The ATF’s approach means that each industry member that asks a question about how to apply or interpret the rules gets its own private answer, an answer that none of its competitors knows about and which does not serve as a legal precedent. It means that no one in the industry has any certainty, not even the firm that asked the question in the first place, because the ATF can always change a decision it made in a private “no-action” letter later on. And it means that the ATF has almost complete discretion in how it regulates, because it is creating no precedents.

According to Jared Febbroriello, a lawyer working with firearms and defense companies “It is disconcerting that any agency that is tasked with interpreting the law might seek to restrict the public’s ability to access their interpretations but given the potential for criminal prosecution and the heightened risk for the loss of life, liberty and property that is associated with firearms one would think that ATF would be embracing complete transparency. Sadly, they are not.”

Mike Crapo warns big banks against caving to progressives on guns

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, warned the nation’s largest banks Tuesday against cutting off access to gun manufacturers and other controversial industries due to political pressure.

“Banks serve customers who are geographically and politically diverse, and it is wrong to use essential banking services as a way to choke off such services to lawful, creditworthy businesses,” Crapo wrote to the CEOs of Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, State Street Bank, and Wells Fargo.

“I write to express my concern with recent news reports suggesting that large banks may withhold access to credit and services to customers and companies that are operating businesses that comply with federal and state law (and in some cases, are engaged in Constitutionally-protected activities), but are politically disfavored.”

Crapo’s letter is a shot across the bow to both banks and congressional Democrats.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., the newly appointed chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, and other high-profile Democrats on the panel, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., have voiced a desire to push the committee into new political territory like addressing corporate diversity, climate change, and for-profit prisons. All are hot-button issues with progressive activists.

Ocasio-Cortez questioned the CEO of Wells Fargo about his bank’s financing of oil-related projects during his appearance before the committee earlier this month, and Bank of America and JPMorgan reduced or completely cut business with gun manufacturers last year amid national debate over gun control.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is investigating San Antonio for banning Chick-fil-A from its airport.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is investigating the city of San Antonio for potential First Amendment violations after the City Council voted to prevent Chick-fil-A — a franchise known for opposing same-sex marriage — from opening a location in the city’s airport.

“The Constitution’s protection of religious liberty is somehow even better than Chick-fil-A’s chicken,” Paxton, a Republican, wrote in a Thursday letter to San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and the rest of the council. “Unfortunately, I have serious concerns that both are under assault at the San Antonio airport.”

In a 6-4 vote, the council voted last week to keep the franchise from opening at the San Antonio International Airport. The decision quickly drew national headlines and condemnations from conservatives across the country.

Chick-Fil-A, a wealthy national franchise with locations throughout Texas, is known for its leaders’ staunch Christian views and close ties to groups that worked to prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage. Its corporate purpose is “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.” It is, famously, “closed on Sundays.”

To rival Amazon, UPS enters healthcare—with doorstep nurse delivery
A test is set to launch this year, but UPS mum on which vaccines it will deliver.

UPS is crossing the threshold into healthcare, with plans for a new service that will deliver vaccine-toting nurses to customers’ doorsteps.

A test for the new service is scheduled for later this year, but UPS didn’t name where it will take place or which vaccine it will offer, only saying that it would be an immunization for adults against a viral illness. Vaccine-maker Merck & Co is reportedly considering partnering with UPS on the service.

News of the plan was first reported by Reuters. Ars confirmed the report with UPS, but a UPS spokesperson specifically working on the project did not immediately get back to us. This post will be updated with any additional information we receive.

The test is to see if UPS can “connect all these dots,” Wes Wheeler told Reuters. Wheeler is the chief executive at Marken, UPS’ clinical trial logistics unit, acquired in 2016, that is overseeing the vaccine project.

UPS’ entrance into healthcare follows news and buzz about Amazon’s gate-crashing foray into the industry, which has rattled major healthcare players, including insurance companies and pharmacies. Last year, Amazon purchased the online pharmacy PillPack, which sells presorted medication packets in one-month supplies to customers nationwide. News of the purchase sent shares of Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid plummeting at the time.

But Amazon reportedly uses UPS and FedEx to deliver PillPack orders, lacking specialized medical facilities and temperature-controlled shipping infrastructure of its own. This leaves an opening for UPS and other shippers to get into healthcare logistics.

“Over-the-threshold services is where the world is headed,” Chris Cassidy told Reuters. Cassidy oversee global healthcare logistics strategy at UPS and is a former employee at GlaxoSmithKline PLC.

Still, there will be obstacles to the new plan, including getting insurance companies to cover the home-delivered vaccines and keeping costs low to make the service competitive with other strategies, such as relatively cheap in-pharmacy vaccinations.