I was reading this article last week and finally got around to writing about it. It basically talked about how after the NAFTA negotiations between Canada and the US on specifically softwood lumber (used in home construction and furniture), the US decided on lowering the import duties on most lumber companies, while increasing it on major infraction perpetrators. Here are my findings on some of the topics I researched after reading these articles:

Import Duty
= a tax collected on imports by the customs authority of the country
– in this situation, the import duty is ~20% on softwood lumber sold by Canadian lumber companies to American companies
– this is important because 20% is a huge amount, basically making it less profitable to sell Canadian lumber (affects everything from the top/profits down/jobs), and more attractive to buy American/non-Canadian lumber
– trade agreements such as NAFTA are designed to remove such taxes, but the US feels Canadian lumber companies have an unfair advantage because they are subsidized by the government, and because they have lower costs, they are able to under-cut the prices of their American counterparts
– Canada disputes this because they believe the softwood lumber is used across a wide range of industries, and these duties must be specific to a particular industry

Tolko
= a Canadian company, a manufacturer of a broad range of forest (softwood lumber) products
– one of the companies affected by the higher countervailing duties (taxes imposed by the US, because they feel Tolko has unfair advantages provided by the Canadian government)
– this ‘unfair advantage’ stems from being able to harvest softwood lumber on lands owned by the Canadian government, which makes it cheaper for the company to operate (“too big to fail”), and then sell to the USA at cheaper prices than American lumber companies (selling below market value)



I was then reading this article about the sentencing of an American army deserter, Bowe Bergdahl. Desertion doesn’t seem to be a common news story for either Canada or the US and I found it an interesting topic to learn more information.

Dishonorable Discharge
= being released from his/her obligation to serve, but in this instance, from having conducted a very serious offense (desertion)
– Bergdahl abandoned his post and his behavior put his fellow soldiers in danger (soldiers were sent to rescue him in enemy territory)
– can have their rank reduced, fined, be prevented from purchasing firearms (as a civilian) and be sent to prison
– in Bergdahl’s case, he has on record that he was dishonorably discharged (his reputation is marred), had his rank reduced, and will be fined for the next 10 months; he avoided jail time as the judge deemed he has spent nearly a decade of his life in captivity

Schizotypal Personality Disorder
= STPD, a mental disorder characterized by severe social anxiety, paranoia, hallucination, derealization (the external world doesn’t seem real)
– can manifest in the form of being paranoid other people harbour negative thoughts of you, react oddly in conversations, or talk to themselves
– Bergdahl’s lawyers argued for leniency for his crime as he suffered from this illness which should have prevented him from being accepted into the Army



I love my coworkers, I’ve worked alongside them for over ten years. We know each other extremely well, having basically grown up together. That being said, I think we’re a little too comfortable with each other: my coworker told me good news the other day, but it came with some bad news: she had a boil on her butt.

Boil
= an infection of the hair follicle, resulting in a painful swollen area on the skin. Inside the swollen area is typically pus and dead tissue
– can range in size from as small as a pea to as large as a golf ball
– Google it, you may not want to know what it looks like
– tend to be recurrent, and can spread to family members, and can get worse and experience fevers, swollen lymph nodes (important for a proper functioning immune system), and fatigue (in my friend’s case, constant pain at work, sitting on it)
– boils can clear up on it’s own but typically needs to be opened and drained (yuck); antibiotics and steroids are sometimes prescribed as well