The Spectacle Blog

How Sweet It Isn’t: Sugar and the TPP

By on 8.13.15 | 2:59PM

How much Australian sugar should be allowed to enter the U.S. market? That’s a key question the U.S. government must answer prior to concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. The United States is the largest sugar market in the TPP, consuming about 11 million metric tons (MMT) per year. It also is the largest producer (7-8 MMT) and importer (3 MMT) in the group. Australia generally is believed to be the most cost-competitive sugar producer among the12 TPP nations. It also is the largest exporter, annually shipping 3-4 MMT to other countries.

To complicate matters further, sugar liberalization was explicitly excluded from the 2004 Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) due to U.S. political sensitivities. Australian sugar producers understandably want to redress that omission. Failure to obtain commercially meaningful access to the U.S. sugar market could lead to rejection of the pact by the Australian parliament.

Kerry Flip-Flops on Snapback Provision in Iran Nuclear Deal

By on 8.13.15 | 12:15PM

Back in April, shortly after the framework of the Iran nuclear deal was established, President Obama proclaimed in the Rose Garden, “If Iran violates the deal, sanctions can be snapped back into place.”

After the final deal was agreed to last month, Secretary of State John Kerry said this of the so-called snapback provisions

I want to underscore: If Iran fails in a material way to live up to these commitments, then the United States, the E.U., and even the U.N. sanctions that initially brought Iran to the table can and will snap right back into place. We have a specific provision in this agreement called ‘snapback’ for the return of those sanctions in the event of noncompliance.

Blue Jays Take Over First Place in AL East with 10th Straight Win

By on 8.12.15 | 10:23PM

The Toronto Blue Jays won their 10th straight game tonight by demolishing the Oakland A's 10-3. 

The Jays scored seven runs in the 2nd inning on three run home runs by Chris Colabello and Justin Smoak. 

With the New York Yankees having just lost their fifth game in a row 2-1 to the last place Cleveland Indians, the Blue Jays are now in first place in the AL East by half a game. 

This is the second time this season Toronto has had a winning streak in double digits. In mid-June, the Jays tied a franchise record with 11 consecutive wins. 

What a difference a fortnight makes. Two weeks ago, the Jays were 50-51 and eight games back of the Yankees. Not only that but they were also behind the Tampa Bay Rays and the Baltimore Orioles. Then they acquired Troy Tulowitzki from the Colorado Rockies. Toronto is 13-1 since the trade. 

The Jays can tie their franchise winning streak tomorrow afternoon against the A's. They will then host the Yankees for a three game weekend series at the Rogers Centre. It will be the hardest ticket to get in the Big Smoke.

Iwakuma Becomes First AL Pitcher to Throw No-Hitter Since 2012

By on 8.12.15 | 8:19PM

Seattle Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma tossed a no-hitter this afternoon against the Baltimore Orioles.

Iwakuma's no-no is the fourth during the 2015 season. The three previous no-hitters came from San Francisco Giants rookie Chris Heston, Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer and Cole Hamels in his final appearance with the Philadelphia Phillies (he has since been traded to the Texas Rangers).

Iwakuma became the first AL pitcher to throw a no-hitter since his teammate Felix Hernandez threw a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays in August 2012. He is also the first Japanese pitcher to throw a no-hitter since Hideo Nomo did so in his debut with the Boston Red Sox in 2002. Curiously it was also against the Orioles. Nomo also threw a no-hitter with the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Colorado Rockies in 1996.

Scott Walker Hands $250 Million in Taxpayers’ Money to Billionaire Bucks Owners

By on 8.12.15 | 6:17PM

Scott Walker touts his record as a fiscal conservative. But this morning, reports the Associated Press

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker took a break from the presidential campaign trail Wednesday to commit $250 million in taxpayer money to pay for a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Walker’s come under a lot of criticism from both left and right for his arena funding plan, including an article I wrote at the Huffington Post after he defended his plan on ABC’s “This Week.” Such deals are paid for by average taxpayers to benefit millionaire players and billionaire owners. But millionaires and billionaires have more influence than average taxpayers, and the pictures around stadium deals are great: 

The FBI Has Clinton’s Server, But Who Will Be Held Responsible?

By on 8.12.15 | 2:23PM

This morning, Hillary Clinton "voluntarily" turned what's left of her email server over to FBI agents investigating her email setup, after they found out just this week that at least two "top secret" emails passed through the Clinton database. After months of ducking from Congressional investigators, looking to examine the smoking remains of ClintonMail, Hillary Clinton has finally - finally - been forced to give up that which she holds dear above all else, at least, as far as email servers are concerned.

There may not be much, however, for the FBI to lookover. Accroding to Hillary's spokespeople and attorneys, the server was wiped long ago, and nothing remains of the backups, so she's left very few traces of her time using it to trade in Top Secret information, just copies of the emails that led investigators to demand the server in the first place. But investigators are, at least, going to give it the old college try.

Home Field Advantage Never Had It So Good

By on 8.12.15 | 11:33AM

One of the things that I love about baseball is that you see something new everyday and last night was no exception.

For the first time in MLB history, every game was won by the home team; fifteen games in all.

These included the 9th consecutive win for the Toronto Blue Jays to bring them within a half game of the New York Yankees in the AL East (who lost in 16 innings to the Cleveland Indians). There were also extra-inning triumphs by the Miami Marlins and the Seattle Mariners, shutout victories by the Tampa Bay Rays, New York Mets, Chicago White Sox, and Los Angeles Dodgers while the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks scored in double digits. The other teams to enjoy home field advantage last night were the Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals, and the San Francisco Giants.

We might never see this again. Or we could see it happen again tonight. That is the beauty of baseball.

New Poll Has Sanders Leading Hillary in NH Amid Revelations of Top Secret E-Mails

By on 8.12.15 | 11:27AM

According to a Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald poll, Bernie Sanders has taken a lead among Democrats in New Hampshire. The poll, which was conducted between August 7 & 10, has Sanders at 44% to 37% for the former Secretary of State. The margin of error is +/- 4.7%.

The argument could be made that the poll is an aberration. After all, Hillary is still leading by a substantial margin in all other polls and this poll had a relatively small sample size - 442 likely Democratic Primary voters to be exact. Sanders is also not an unknown quantity in New Hampshire as he represents the neighboring Vermont.

Hillary Clinton Compliments Megyn Kelly, Hits Marco Rubio (Who Hits Back)

By on 8.11.15 | 12:50PM

Hillary Clinton is very disappointed in her old friend Donald Trump. 

Apparently, Hillary found Donald Trump's commentary about Megyn Kelly's "blood" utterly dehumanizing and patently offensive. According to Hillary, Megyn Kelly is smart and impressive and any criticism of Kelly is undeserved, outrageous and "pick your adjective." Although, she says, every other Republican Presidential candidate — lumping Carly Fiorina in with the men, apparently — is just as bad, because they all hate women and want to oppress them. Or something.

“I said it was outrageous, I stand by that,” Clinton said of Trump’s words. “I think more people should say the same.”

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