The line between fiction and reality frequently blurs in Washington, D.C. Now, this happens even more than ever with Donald Trump and his 15,000-plus lies this year. Still, this is one welcome beacon of entertainment.
Ever heard of the fictional home country, Wakanda, the one right out of the well-known Marvel superhero movie Black Panther? Somehow it ended up as a free trade agreement partner on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Tariff Tracker. The USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service maintains the tracker program, according to NBC News.
Wakanda was listed as a country along with Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and Peru as a member of the free trade agreement with the United States.
The fictional country first came into existence in the July 1966 Marvel comic Fantastic Four #52. Chadwich Boseman played the part of T’Chalia in the movie.
So how did Wakanda end up at the USDA? Apparently, the USDA used Wakanda to do its alpha and beta testing. Someone probably forgot to remove the test model. The USDA spokesperson Mike Illenberg emailed:
“Over the past few weeks, the Foreign Agricultural Service staff who maintain the Tariff Tracker have been using test files to ensure that the system is running properly. The Wakanda information should have been removed after testing and has now been taken down.’
When a fellow at the Jain Family Institute Francis Tseng was doing research on how “trade deal tariffs affect food distribution and hunger in countries,’ he discovered Wakanda in this most unusual place. He had been seeking a resource for existing trade deals. That was when he came across Wakanda, he was stunned:
‘I definitely did a double take. I Googled Wakanda to make sure it was actually fiction, and I wasn’t misremembering. I mean, I couldn’t believe it.’
Various commodity groups were offering everything from “unroasted coffee beans to essential oils” in the software’s drop-down menus. To test them, the software developers divided each commodity group into separate entities. Each one sorted the tariffs by product.
Tseng said he could not tell whether this was a joke or just an omission accident:
‘I was trying to figure out whether this is someone at the USDA making a joke or if it’s a developer who accidentally left it in, but I’m not sure.’
Still, in the serious world of research statistics and patterns, Wakanda was a welcome reprieve:
‘Yellow potatoes had to maintain a “0.5 cent/kg” base rate when shipped in from the fictional East African nation, while frozen Chinese water chestnuts were tariff free if the U.S. decided to import them from Wakanda. Cows were also tariff free.’
Good to know.
According to the website:
‘[The] information displayed is not official and should only be used as a general reference. Each importing countries customs office maintains the right for final determination of tariff treatment.’
“Parent” wrote this review of the Black Panther movie on Common Sense Media:
‘Great film for kids and especially young girls. They will love the costumes and the character Shuri. Zero complaints!’
‘Fine for a quite a mature 12. This film is absolutely one of marvels best movies, but that does not mean that it is a child friendly film . This film has things ranging from violent stabbings to (at times) quite a sad story . There are many over the top fight scenes in this film with many stabbings but these are done without great detail , but still show realistic blood wounds . There is a lot of blood in this film but all of it is dried so nothing to shocking with the blood is shown .
This parent noted there was a fair amount of violence in the movie:
‘The fight scenes can also be very violent with lots of bashing in them and lots of dried blood shown and the baddie in one scene repeatedly kicks the hero even when he’s given up , but this scene is very short and no blood is shown in this part . There are many deaths by guns in this film including a scene where a man shoots through his girlfriend to get to his enemy and then repeatedly shoots him , but again no great detail is shown . There’s a part where someone’s neck is cut , but no detail at all is shown and it is very quick . In another scene someone takes a bullet and quite a detailed wound is shown . The film has quite a lot of swear words in it , but it’s only the s word and a middle finger is shown at one point .’
The Mueller Report Adventures: In Bite-Sizes on this Facebook page. These quick, two-minute reads interpret the report in normal English for busy people. Mueller Bite-Sizes uncovers what is essentially a compelling spy mystery. Interestingly enough, Mueller Bite-Sizes can be read in any order.