Trade Enforcement Needs to be Top Priority

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement has been in force for over a year, but our North American trading partners refuse to fully implement the deal.
Canada has failed to open its dairy market to U.S. farmers and producers, as promised. And Mexico continues to privilege state-owned energy companies over U.S. energy firms, among other violations.
Unfortunately, Canada and Mexico aren’t the only U.S. trading partners shirking their commitments. The United Kingdom, Japan, Brazil, and Indonesia are also guilty of erecting trade barriers that threaten U.S. workers and businesses.
Luckily, U.S. Trade Ambassador Katherine Tai pledged that under her watch, the United States would “impart the values and rules that guide global commerce…[and] enforce those terms vigorously.”
This support for holding our trading partners accountable is extremely encouraging. Enforcing existing trade deals is one of the best ways to help American firms expand into new markets and create more jobs here at home.
International trade remains a pillar of the American economy. In 2019, U.S. companies imported and exported $5.6 trillion worth of goods and services. Forty million jobs depend on these transactions.
Unfortunately, when the federal government doesn’t properly enforce trade rules abroad, these businesses and their workers get ripped off – and that’s precisely what’s happening right now.
Consider that domestic policies in the United Kingdom and Japan undervalue American-made medicines and erect barriers to U.S. biopharmaceutical exports.
Meanwhile, local content laws in Brazil and Indonesia limit broadcasts of Hollywood films. Counterfeiting in Mexico also poses a challenge to American manufacturing firms and producers from a variety of IP-intensive sectors.
Individual governments aren’t the only ones blocking free and fair commerce. The World Trade Organization is currently considering a proposal that would invalidate IP protections for COVID-19 technologies.
Several WTO members, including the European Union, have opposed the proposal, which would chill research and development projects for years to come. So, it was particularly surprising when the Biden administration came out in support of the proposal earlier this summer.
There’s still time for the United States to disavow this position, and it’s in the best interest of American researchers and developers that they do.
Strictly enforcing existing agreements will also make it easier for Ambassador Tai to negotiate stronger treaties in the future, like those with Japan and the United Kingdom.
Prior to tabling U.S.-UK trade negotiations just before the 2020 election, negotiators had yet to finalize much-needed chapters on intellectual property and pharmaceutical regulation.
Writing robust IP protections into these chapters will generate a truly modern free trade agreement, one that ought to serve as a model for 21st-century negotiations going forward.
The previous USTR was also unable to secure protections for U.S. medicines in phase one of the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement. And he didn’t address the country’s onerous vehicle testing standards that make automobiles the largest source of our trade deficit with Japan. Ambassador Tai can correct both errors.
It’s no mystery why stricter enforcement is popular with both parties. Nearly everyone from top politicians to ordinary workers recognizes that enforcement benefits American businesses.
They’re right, and Ambassador Tai now has the opportunity to grow the U.S. economy by holding our trading partners accountable. Here’s hoping she’ll succeed.

Frank Samolis is a partner and co-chair of the International Trade Practice at Squire Patton Boggs.

Examining the Annual Check-up

Over the past 18 months, many have had to – or elected to – forgo an annual physical exam. Does it matter? It’s a good question, one that’s not new to the pandemic era.
If an annual medical exam means lots of expensive diagnostic tests and invasive procedures, it may be time to put it to pasture. However, if it fosters a physician-patient relationship and allows for a partnership in prevention and treatment of diseases, then this alone may be a good reason to keep it.
So what are its pros and cons?

The cons
One of the downsides may be that it does not save lives. According to a Cochrane meta-analysis of 16 studies, an annual physical exam had no benefit related to mortality risk and morbidity (disease) risk.
The report went on to say that it did not have an effect on overall mortality, nor on cancer survival and/or cardiovascular mortality. The authors noted that primary care physicians may already be treating patients at high risk for diseases.
Another potential negative is that certain diagnostics, such as prostate-specific antigen screenings to test for prostate cancer, could be harmful.
The results of a meta-analysis presented at the European Cancer Conference show that routine screening for prostate cancer in the general, symptom-free male population may have more detrimental effects than benefits — a high PSA may lead to unnecessary invasive procedures, such as biopsies and prostatectomies (removal of the prostate).
Side effects could be impotence and infection and could result in hospitalization. The author acknowledged that there have been two large studies on PSAs, one touting the benefits and the other showing increased harm. This assessment may be the tiebreaker.

The pros
Not all diseases show symptoms, especially in the earlier stages. Examples include hypertension (high blood pressure) and chronic kidney disease. It is also an opportunity to discuss mental health. And, of course, there is the importance of lifestyle discussions.

Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) causes more deaths than prostate or breast cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five patients with high blood pressure has chronic kidney disease, and most are undiagnosed.
Early to moderate stages of the disease without symptoms can only be identified through blood tests and urinalysis.
Detecting CKD early may be the key to halting its progress and preventing end-stage kidney disease resulting in dialysis. Without the annual exam, we may miss this opportunity.

Like CKD, there are frequently no symptoms to detect high blood pressure until it is too late. According to a study in the British Medical Journal, high blood pressure may be responsible for almost half of all heart attacks and a quarter of premature deaths in the U.S.
To reduce the risk of this “silent killer,” a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests lifestyle modifications. In a meta-analysis, involving 54 small, randomized controlled trials, aerobic exercise had significant benefits in reducing blood pressure.

One of the most effective ways to know a patient is with a thorough discussion of history that identifies intangibles that may not show up in numbers, including mental health.
A presentation at the 26th European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Congress showed it is not what patients say, but how they say it that may be most important.
Short essays identified that those who were mildly depressed used significantly more verbs in the past tense than the present (100 versus 2.6 percent) and used less complex sentences, compared to the healthy control patients.
Ultimately, the success of an annual medical checkup is the physician’s approach. With a strong focus on a thorough history, rather than a predominance of diagnostic testing leading to invasive procedures, there is little downside.

BP holds vigil for Haiti, launches donation drive

Borough President Donovan Richards hosted a vigil in partnership with Haitian Americans United for Progress (HAUP) to honor the more than 2,000 people who died in a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the island nation.
“From natural disasters to political turmoil, Haiti has been dealt blow after blow in recent years, but the resolve of the Haitian people and our Haitian American community is unmatched,” said Richards. “In the wake of this destructive earthquake, Queens stands ready to offer a helping hand to our Caribbean neighbors in their time of need.”
To assist in Haiti’s recovery, Richards launched a donation drive in support of the countless Haitian families impacted by the earthquake.
“As much as it saddens me to see Haiti go through yet another disaster in the midst of its existing challenges, I, along with my Haitian brothers and sisters, remain ever more committed to a better and stronger Haiti for generations to come,” said HAUP CEO and executive director Elsie Saint Louis. “My heartfelt gratitude to the friends and partners of the Haitian people who continue to reach out in so many big and small ways in support, empathy and collaboration.”
Until September 22, donations of bottled water, non-perishable food, personal care products, toiletries and feminine hygiene products can be dropped off at Borough Hall at 120-55 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens. The lobby is open 24 hours a day.
“I think the people of Haiti are not just resilient but we are strong, we are smart, we are determined,” said Saint Louis. “What we need is for you to stand by Haiti, this is not the time to give up on this country.”

Queensbridge residents sue NYCHA

Residents of Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City filed a lawsuit against the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) this past week.
The suit seeks to force NYCHA to fix hazardous living conditions that plague the public housing complex, including asbestos, lead paint, mold, leaks, and backed-up trash shoots.
Residents argue the conditions became even worse during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent statewide stay-at-home orders. The suit also charges NYCHA with failing to conduct regular COVID-19 cleanings throughout the buildings in the largest public housing project in the Western Hemisphere.
“Any type of repairs that need to be done in my house, I have to wait forever to get them done,” said Marilyn Keller, a 58-year-old resident. “I put the ticket in, then NYCHA calls me back to tell me the date they are coming.
“So I prepare for the appointment, take everything out of the closet and cabinets, and ask for the day off from work but then they never come,” she continued. “They are a bunch of no-shows.”
Many of the tenants suing are older residents, including 72-year-old Pamela Wheeler.
“I am tired of living with mice, roaches, waterbugs, lack of heat, holes in my walls and sink, waterlogged and rotting cabinets, and many more repair issues that are a threat to my health and safety and an affront to my dignity,” Wheeler said. “NYCHA never repairs anything when I file a ticket, and it is so frustrating.”
The residents are working with the Justice For All Coalition, an organization that offers legal assistance to community groups in Astoria, Long Island City, and other parts of western Queens.
Residents then sought legal representation from Queens Legal Services, which filed the lawsuit on their behalf.
“For too long, NYCHA residents have suffered uninhabitable conditions due to neglect and lack of funding,” said Robert Sanderman, senior staff attorney at the Queens Legal Services Tenant Rights Coalition, who is representing the tenants. “There is little incentive for NYCHA to complete the repairs since the city will not record violations or pursue civil penalties against NYCHA for the numerous violations of the housing maintenance code.
“A great number of NYCHA residents are people of color who are also essential workers and are at high risk of health complications due to COVID-19,” he added. “These NYCHA residents are demanding systemic changes in the way they are neglected and ignored on account of their racial, social and economic status.”

Maspeth Federal donates $10,000 to Relay For Life

For the 17th consecutive year, Maspeth Federal Savings will be a corporate sponsor of the Relay for Life event in Middle Village.
“We are proud to support such an important cause and fight against a disease that touches so many people’s lives,” said Kristen Sapienza, senior bank officer and marketing supervisor. “The Relay for Life is an amazing event that not only raises funds for essential programs and patient services, but has also formed a community support system for anyone who has been affected by cancer.”
The event involves teams of taking turns walking or jogging through the night around the track at Juniper Valley Park. It will take place on Saturday, September 25. For this year only, there will be a “pop up” three-hour version of Relay For Life from 6-9 p.m. A festive atmosphere includes music and entertainment.
“Funds raised through Relay For Life help ACS fund and conduct breakthrough research, and give cancer patients and their families the resources they need, like free rides to chemo, free places to stay near hospitals, and a live 24/7 helpline for answers and support,” said Leslie Orlovsky, senior manager of Community Events with the American Cancer Society.
For more information or to register, call (347) 850-6868 or e-mail

FCBA welcomes new board, president

The Flushing Chinese Business Association (FCBA) held a ceremony on Monday at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel in Flushing to celebrate the swearing in of their new Board of Directors and the organization’s 28th president, Dr. Yaoming Wang.
“I understand that we are in a tough time,” said Dr. Wang, who is a pediatrician. “Even though we’ve made a lot of progress, we’re still in a pandemic. I am confident with the leadership in this room, we will move past the pandemic and make Flushing stronger.”
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz did the swearing in as state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Borough President Donovan Richards, State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Councilman Peter Koo and Queens Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Tom Grech looked on.
“Thanks to the advocacy of Peter Tu, the Queens Chamber of Commerce has enjoyed a strong relationship with the Flushing Chinese Business Association for the past six years,” said Grech. “Queens is the most diverse community in America, and immigrants continue to find opportunity here because of the great work organizations like the FCBA do.”

104th Precinct Police Blotter (8/9/2021-8/15/2021)

Monday, Aug. 9
Ryan Auriana was arrested at 57-52 75th Street for criminal obstruction of breathing by Officer Vierra.
Calvin Peebles was arrested at 60th Street and Myrtle Avenue for petit larceny by Detective WWright.
Adam Malon was arrested at 64-02 Catalpa Avenue for aggravated contempt by Detective Lodato.
Michael Muskan was arrested at Putnam Avenue and 60th Place for driving while intoxicated by Officer Campoverde.

Tuesday, Aug. 10
Bozena McNeill was arrested at 1710 Putnam Avenue for misdemeanor assault by Officer O’Connor.
Hira Javed was arrested at 70-23 71st Street for criminal mischief by Officer Parsell.
Franklin Coello was arrested at 60-45 56th Road for misdemeanor assault by Officer Leblanc.
Tatiana Maldonado was arrested at 57-20 79th Avenue for misdemeanor assault by Officer Sheehan.
Marco Erazo-Gausgua was arrested at 57-20 79th Avenue for misdemeanor assault by Officer Sheehan.
Jose Nunez was arrested at Vermont Place and Cypress Avenue for possession of burglar tools by Officer McMahon.

Wednesday, Aug. 11
Anthony Nisbett was arrested at 64-02 Catalpa Avenue for grand larceny by Detective Moon.
Anthony Calderon was arrested at 64-02 Catalpa Avenue for grand larceny by Detective Palminteri.
Shane Arnold was arrested at 69th Road and 75th Street for criminal contempt by Officer Villada.
Mary Powell was arrested at 68-12 Central Avenue for misdemeanor assault by Officer Gonzalez.
Gustavo Reyes-Martinez was arrested at 64-02 Catalpa Avenue for strangulation by Detective Scrimenti.
Jose Telladooliver was arrested at 329 Wyckoff Avenue for petit larceny by Officer Urrutia.
Jose Pizarro Correa was arrested at 64-02 Catalpa Avenue for robbery by Officer Alban.
Priscilla Cruz was arrested at Fresh Pond Road and Grove Street for criminal contempt by Officer Sheehan.
Moses Cruz was arrested at Fresh Pond Road and Grove Street for criminal contempt by Officer Sheehan.

Thursday, Aug. 12
Anari Rodriguez was arrested at 1932 Grove Street for criminal possession of stolen property by Officer Hughes.
Eugene Forde was arrested at 58-15 58th Avenue for aggravated harassment by Officer Candekaria.
Simone Broadnax was arrested at 64-02 Catalpa Avenue for aggravated harassment by Detective Bublin.
Herman Mateo was arrested at 1828 Cornelia Street for criminal contempt by Officer Whyte.
Paul Leroy was arrested at 64-02 Catalpa Avenue for aggravated harassment by Detective Bublin.
Colm McPartland was arrested at Cooper Avenue and 80th Street for driving while intoxicated by Officer Porcelli.

Friday, Aug. 13
Josue Vera Arzube was arrested at 56-22 68th Street for criminal contempt by Officer Reyes.
Kevin Jimenez was arrested at 54-07 69th Street for criminal mischief by Officer Gonzalez.

Saturday, Aug. 14
Jose Ureta was arrested at 84-31 62nd Drive for misdemeanor assault by Officer Fitzalbert.
Pedro Infante was arrested at 59-30 56th Street for felony assault by Officer Bayizian.
Dorian Marte was arrested at 66-76 69th Street for robbery by Officer Bartichek.
Victor Marin was arrested at 1716 Menahan Street for misdemeanor assault by Officer Lam.

Sunday, Aug. 15
Marcus Zigler was arrested at 69th Street and 58th Avenue for misdemeanor assault by Officer Gonzlez.
Byron Castro was arrested at 1691 Grove Street for strangulation by Officer Clemente.
Samuel Schossig was arrested at 64-02 Catalpa Avenue for criminal mischief by Detective Friedrich.
Fidel Guaraca was arrested at 2028 Menahan Street for criminal mischief by Officer Arfeen.
Sami Abdelaziz was arrested at 66-94 Fresh Pond Road for misdemeanor assault by Officer Gonzalez.

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