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Trump To Impose Tariffs On Steel, Aluminum

Trump to impose sweeping steel and aluminum tariffs. NYT: "President Trump said on Thursday that he would impose stiff tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, making good on a key campaign promise and rattling stock markets as the prospect of a global trade fight appeared imminent. “Trade wars are good, and easy to win,” he tweeted the next morning. In a hastily arranged meeting with industry executives that stunned many inside the West Wing, Mr. Trump said he would formally sign the trade measures next week and promised they would be in effect “for a long period of time.” The action, which came against the wishes of Mr. Trump’s pro-trade advisers, would impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, effectively placing a tax on every foreign shipment of those metals into the United States... Mr. Trump’s authority to impose such sweeping tariffs stems from a Commerce Department investigation that concluded last month that imported metal threatened national security by degrading the American industrial base. The administration has said it wants to combat cheap metals flooding into the United States, particularly from China, but a broad set of tariffs would fall most heavily on allies, especially Canada, which supplies steel and aluminum to American companies as well as the military."

Trump's Trade War Threatens NAFTA

Trump's new tariffs may blow up NAFTA. CNN: "
"The NAFTA talks looked promising until last week, when Donald Trump exploded over the phone at Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto about the border wall. Both presidents stood firm on their positions; Peña Nieto said Mexico won't pay for the wall, while Trump insisted that it would, culminating in, as one Mexican official told the Washington Post, Trump losing his temper. Then, along came the bombshell announcement on Thursday morning from the President that he was also going ahead with a massive 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum imports. Aimed at China, it's actually going to hit our neighbor to the north particularly hard, for Canada is America's largest source of steel and steel products - providing 16% of all imported steel - followed by Brazil, and South Korea. China doesn't even make it into the top 10 of suppliers to the American market."

WV Teachers Stay On Strike

School closures continue as West Virginia teacher strike stretches on. WaPo:
"On Tuesday, West Virginia’s governor announced he had forged a deal with striking teachers, and educators would return to their classrooms Thursday. Turned out, it wasn’t that simple. The strike, which began last week, continued Thursday, leaving more than 277,000 public school students locked out of their classrooms for a sixth day. And there are indications it will persist through at least Friday. A map on the state’s Department of Education website Thursday showed that schools were shut down across West Virginia. Kym Randolph, director of communications for the West Virginia Education Association, a teachers union, confirmed the closures, and indicated the work stoppage might continue Friday."

Stock Buybacks Explode After Tax Cuts

U.S. corporate share buybacks 'explode' in February. Reuters: "U.S. corporations have announced more than $218 billion in share buybacks since Congress enacted the Republican tax overhaul in December, an investment research firm said on Wednesday. The California-based firm TrimTabs, which tracks corporate buybacks, said the value of buyback programs announced in February alone surged to $153.7 billion from $59.9 billion in January, smashing a previous monthly record of $133 billion in April 2015. 'Activity has certainly accelerated. Buybacks increased for five consecutive months beginning in July 2017 and have exploded in February,' said TrimTabs analyst Winston Chua. 'If the pace keeps up, this year’s volume will smash totals from all other previous years going back more than a decade,' he added."

More Stores Join NRA Boycott

REI, Mountain Equipment Co-Op, stop selling major outdoor brand with NRA ties. WaPo: "CamelBak water bottles, Bell bicycle helmets, Giro ski goggles — what these products have in common is that they’re owned by Vista Outdoors, which includes gun and ammo makers among its brands as well as a strong National Rifle Association connection. And that’s part of the reason why REI, a nationwide outdoor retailer and consumer co-op, announced Thursday evening that it would, for the time being, no longer be ordering CamelBak, Bell, Giro or any other of the 50 Vista Outdoor brands to sell in its stores. REI’s announcement came just hours after thousands of REI’s members signed an online petition urging REI to cut ties with Vista Outdoor over Vista’s support for the National Rifle Association and its gun-manufacturing business. The company joins a widening range of others that have in some way taken a stand against assault-style weapons and the NRA by discontinuing sales, making it harder to buy weapons or, as in this case, cutting ties in the wake of the Florida school shooting that left 17 dead."

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The Wealthy, the Poor, the Vulnerable. Sam Pizzigati: "Societies where large numbers of people live in constant danger of falling into poverty, new evidence shows, concetrate more wealth at the top. The deeply unequal United States has four times more economically vulnerable than Japan."

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