Showing posts from June, 2005

Self Improvement

There are a number of things I wish I could do better. 1. Standing up to traffic. I watch cyclists navigate traffic. We fall into two categories: those who follow the rules in a fairly strict sense and those who shoot the half-ton motorized rapids. I am more the former than the latter. When I come to an intersection with a 4-way stop, I rarely stop. I slow, look both ways and proceed. The skilled or stupid never slow down. They seem to get to the intersection, fade a bit to the right to get into the flow of oncoming traffic, wait for a clearing, do a U-turn to get back to the intersection and go right to finish crossing. It takes just a second and is a beautiful thing to see. Only now and then do they get plastered by a minivan. 2. Stand up to Gravity. Another thing some cyclist can do is stop without ever really stopping. They creep ahead, waiting for traffic to clear or the light to change, without ever putting a foot on the ground. Often, they stop completely, cock the front wheel a

Take That, CBP! And, That!

Sometimes, the good guys win. Recently, the importer came away with significant wins over Customs in decisions from the Court of International Trade and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In the CIT case, called International Custom Products, Inc. v. U.S. , an importer did exactly what Customs tells importers to do: it got a ruling before it started bringing in merchandise. In this case, it got the ruling years ago and set up its business according to the allegedly binding advice from Customs. Trouble is, at some point, Customs decided it did not like the results of the ruling. Coincidentally, I'm sure, Customs' new position increased the duties by some 2400%. The opinion indicates that there may have been some legitimate reason to think that the ruling is, in fact, wrong, but that is not the point. Once Customs decides that it no longer thinks a ruling is right, there is a process it needs to undertake to revoke or modify the ruling. That involves public notice and

NAFTA and CAFTA in the News

It turns out we might get a CAFTA-DR deal after all. At least as far as the important House Ways & Means Committee is concerned. On June 15, the Committee worked out a compromise bill to send to the House. Implementing legislation still needs to get through the full House and the Senate. This follows a June 14 informal poll of the Senate Finance Committee showing support for the pact. When passed, CAFTA-DR will eliminate tariffs on $33 billion in trade between the US and Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The agreement will also increase sugar imports to the U.S. by 50% over 15 years making dentistry a growth industry. NAFTA, on the other hand, is getting a minor make over. On June 21, the International Trade Commission announced a study into whether there should be adjustments to the rules for a bunch of sundry goods including cocoa and cocoa preparations; cranberry juice; ores, slag and ash; leather; cork and articles of cork; pre

I'm Your Spokesman for Szechuan Nan

I have not been able to ride to work in a while because my bike was in the shop. Why? Because I broke a spoke on my rear wheel, again. That is about the third time in a year and that is three times more than most people ever see. I took the bike to my reliable mechanics at Turin and got a reasonably technical explanation about the geometric arrangement of the spokes not being ideal because of the design of the hub. I think it comes down to the fact that I am heavier than, shall we say, the anticipated rider; I put a relatively high number of miles on the bike; and many of the roads I travel are rough. So, now I have a new Mavic cxp 33 rear wheel and I am back on the road. Wednesday, I rode to and from work. The ride in was cold and cloudy but pleasant. I made great time and had the wind at my back most of the way. But, on the way home, it rained. Started out as a drizzle and I decided to tough it out. By the time I was at the top of the Lake Shore trail, I had a small waterfall runni

Welcome to the South Side

Last night, I was at U.S. Cellular Field (AKA "The Joan") watching the Arizona Diamondbacks pummel the White Sox. Waiting in line for food, the following occurred. In front of me were two girls (maybe the better word would be proto-women). They might have been 20, but just barely. Girl number 1 is short, with stringy hair the color of nothing. It was not brown and not blond. It was indeterminate. She was wearing a halter top that was too tight and too short for her slightly buldgy size. Girl number 2 had curly brown hair and looked something like Chelsea Clinton circa the impeachment. She had one of those excessively bright smiles in a shade of white not known in nature. Girl 1: Why do they only have kosher dogs? What's the difference? Girl 2: It just means they don't have pork. They're all beef. Girl 1: But I want a hot dog, not a Jew-dog. Me: Snort, eyes rolling, head shaking. Apparently, I made enough of a noise or a big enough gesture for Girl 2 to notice. She

Two Hours, Eight Minutes Of My Life: Stolen!

And, Steven Spielberg is the thief. To my knowledge, there are no great movies in which Customs has played a major role. There are a few good ones and one terrible film called The Terminal which I have only had the recent misfortune to see. This movie is the dim witted offspring of two much better movies: Moscow on the Hudson and Cast Away . I have no doubt that is how it was pitched to studios in the meetings. Don't dismiss this as coming from one of those people who watches a movie related to his or her profession and can't get past the technical defects in the script. You know, the lawyers who cannot watch a courtroom drama without periodically shouting "Objection!" at the screen. This also applies to ER docs who harrumph at fake CPR and military people who complain about everything that happens in a war movie. I'm not like that as long as the movie is interesting and internally consistent. The Terminal is neither. The movie is about a guy named Navorsky--play

Customs Valuation: The Saga Ends

I think we have heard enough about customs valuation for now, but I want to make good on my promise to cover three things: deductive value, computed value, and reconciliation. For various reasons discussed below, I am going to give each topic short shrift. Later, I will look up exactly what "shrift" means. Deductive value is just not used that often. That is not to say it is never used, but it is fair to call it rare. The first reason for that is that Customs rarely rejects transaction value when there is a sale (but it does happen). Next, before an importer can ever get to deductive value, Customs has to find that there is no transaction value of similar or identical merchandise available to stand in as the transaction value for the entry in question. So, not only are we talking about goods that are not sold at arm's length, but goods that really have not been sold to anyone recently. Second, importers have the option of applying computed value rather than deductive valu

C'mon Blawgers: Throw Me Bone

I know more than a handful of folks have found this site via the very helpful Blawg.Org. But, no one has rated the site. I know I may live to regret this, but how about some instant feedback via ratings on Blawg.Org ? Or, use the fancy new button on the right. Preferably favorable ratings, of course. Also, I'll take requests for posts on a specific topic as well (mindful of the Important Disclaimer at the top of this page).

Sweet Trade Article

The New York Times ran a good article today on the sugar lobby and the future of the Central America Free Trade Agreement. The article is notable in that it focuses on three of my favorite things: sugar, trade, and Chicago. The gist is that the powerful sugar lobby, which has been fighting CAFTA, is losing its clout to sugar consumers like the candy and soft drink industries. This is a truism of all trade disputes: for every producer of raw materials that wants trade-related protection, there is a consumer industry trying to get cheaper access to the same product. The winner is usually industry with more clout. Chicago, a center of candy production, is on the front lines of this particular fight. The article is worth reading.