Trump's "China muse" advisor has been citing a made-up economist for years

Another one of Trump's close cabinet has been revealed as a lying con artist, surprising absolutely no one.

This time, it's Peter Navarro, a Harvard-educated economist and policy advisor who currently serves in the White House as the Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy (OTMP). He's basically served as Trump's right-hand man for all things regarding Chinese trade, despite, erm, having very little experience with China to begin with.

Trump's legion of born-into-privilege cronies is of course full of people who lack lived experience and/or have a knack for exploiting people in their most vulnerable moments. But Navarro is still a pretty remarkable example. For more than a decade, he's been backing up his bullshit arguments by citing the expertise of a Harvard-educated economist named Ron Vara, the self-proclaimed "Dark Prince of Disaster," who made his money off stocks from companies profiting off of international crises.

"Ron Vara" is also an anagram for "Navarro." Which is convenient, because he is, in fact, Navarro, as the Chronicle uncovered:

Navarro has quoted Vara a dozen or so times in six books, usually as an epigraph before a chapter. In Death by China, published in 2011, Vara offers this sweeping assessment of the country's roughly 1.4 billion people: "Only the Chinese can turn a leather sofa into an acid bath, a baby crib into a lethal weapon, and a cellphone battery into heart-piercing shrapnel."

[…]

Those who know Navarro well, Autry says, were fully aware that Ron Vara was a phony source who often popped up in his books.

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Big Tech: "If the USA enforces antitrust laws against us, it means China will win!"

Mark Zuckerberg offered to let Chinese premier Xi Jinping name his firstborn (seriously), Apple purged the Chinese App Store of privacy tools at the request of the politburo; Google secretly built a censoring search-engine for use in China, but America's Big Tech companies are sounding the alarm that they will no longer be able to promote America's global dominance if any of the US Big Tech breakup plans are executed. Read the rest

FCC denies China Mobile's application to provide services in U.S. over national security concerns

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has denied an application by the Chinese telecommunications provider China Mobile to provide services in the U.S. over concerns about national security and risks to law enforcement. Read the rest

Trump is bailing out a Chinese owned pork producer to compensate it for retaliatory Chinese tariffs

Smithfield is a Chinese-owned pork producer based in the USA that exports a lot of pork back to China; when Trump touched off a trade-war with China, he committed to compensating US-based companies that faced retaliatory sanctions at the Chinese border. Read the rest

As Canada-US trade-war draws nigh, so does the threat to nationalise US pharma patents

Last June, U of Ottawa law professor/biomedical scientist Amir Attaran floated the idea of invalidating US pharma patents as a way for Canada to retaliate against trade attacks by the Trump administration. Read the rest

Trump threatens to permanently bar Canadian legal weed investors from entering the USA

One of Trump's border officials told Politico that the administration is planning to permanently bar Canadians who invest in or start legal cannabis businesses in the US or Canada from entering the USA. Read the rest

How Trump's tariff wall will punish small American businesses, kill US jobs, and benefit giant mulitnationals

Last month, the legendary hardware hacker and entrepreneur Andrew "bunnie" Huang (who is also a talented science communicator) published a great explainer on the quirks of the Trump China tariff plan, which exempts finished goods (like TVs), but imposes stiff taxes on components that are shipped from China to US factories for final assembly, a tactic common to the most innovative, cutting edge companies who fear having their trade secrets stolen by Chinese manufacturing contractors. Read the rest

Trump's tariffs will kill making, especially STEM education, while encouraging US manufacturers to go offshore

With Trump poised to exact high tariffs on goods from China, it's tempting to declare the gadget party over: everyone is going to pay through the nose for electronics, from makers to Apple, and that's the end of the story, right? Read the rest

Canada's best weapon in a US trade-war: invalidating US pharma patents

As the US-Canada trade war heats up, Canada finds itself in an asymmetrical battle, vastly overmatched against a country with an order of magnitude population advantage. Read the rest