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What If People Actually Controlled The Government?

What If People Actually Controlled The Government? Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via The Brownstone Institute, Imagine, if you will, the following system... Government is managed by elected representatives who are in turn elected by the people. Government is further restrained by checks and balances between three branches, each of which is accountable ultimately to the people who live under the laws. Unlike the ancient system of government in which the only people who were truly free were the aristocracy, under this new system, every adult citizen has political rights. No one rules over anyone without accountability.  Also part of this, no one in government has a permanent job that is exempt from oversight. The laws and rules under which people live are not invented by faceless bureaucrats but rather by representatives with names who can be voted out.  In that way, we give the idea of freedom the best-possible hope.  Sounds dreamy? A bit. We haven’t had that system in the US for a very long time, even if what I just mapped out seems more or less like what the US Constitution set up.  There are two main reasons why we are so far from that ideal.  First, the US system was supposed to exalt the juridical sovereignty of the “several states” so that the central government was of secondary importance.  Second, a fourth branch of government gradually came into existence. It is what we now call the administrative state. It consists of millions of employees with maximum power who answer to absolutely no one. The Federal Register lists 432 agencies that currently employ people who are beyond legislative reach but they still make policy and determine the structure of the regime under which we live. But we the people have no real control over them.  Not even the president can control them. This system was created with one piece of legislation in 1883 called the Pendleton Act. The New Deal exploited the new system. The administrative state even got its own constitution in 1946 called the Administrative Procedures Act. The 1984 Supreme Court decision in Chevron vs NRDC even entrenched deference to the agency’s interpretation of the law.  The result is something the Founders never imagined: hundreds of three-letter agencies exercising hegemonic control over the country. Everyone got to know this system well from 2020 as the CDC invented myriad rules on the spot that shut businesses and churches and even legislated how many people you could have in your home for a party.  This problem vexxed Donald Trump, who came to power with the promise to drain the swamp. He soon discovered that he could not because most federal employees were beyond his reach. Things got wildly out of hand after he made the enormous error of greenlighting lockdowns in a March 16, 2020 press conference. After that point and all the way until the election, his presidential powers slipped ever further as the administrative bureaucracy wielded power without precedent.  Two weeks before the election, the Trump administration innovated a solution. It was Executive Order 13957 that created a new category of federal employment called Schedule F. Any employee involved at any level in policy making would be subject to presidential oversight. It makes sense: these are executive-level agencies so the president, because he bears responsibility for what they do, should have some personnel control over them.  This order was immediately reversed by Biden when he took office, leaving Schedule F a dead letter. The administrative state is once again safe from oversight.  Let us quote Trump’s executive order at length so that we can see the thinking here. Then we’ll deal with various objections. It reads as follows: To effectively carry out the broad array of activities assigned to the executive branch under law, the President and his appointees must rely on men and women in the Federal service employed in positions of a confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating character. Faithful execution of the law requires that the President have appropriate management oversight regarding this select cadre of professionals. The Federal Government benefits from career professionals in positions that are not normally subject to change as a result of a Presidential transition but who discharge significant duties and exercise significant discretion in formulating and implementing executive branch policy and programs under the laws of the United States. The heads of executive departments and agencies (agencies) and the American people also entrust these career professionals with non‑public information that must be kept confidential… Given the importance of the functions they discharge, employees in such positions must display appropriate temperament, acumen, impartiality, and sound judgment. Due to these requirements, agencies should have a greater degree of appointment flexibility with respect to these employees than is afforded by the existing competitive service process. Further, effective performance management of employees in confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions is of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, the Government’s current performance management is inadequate, as recognized by Federal workers themselves. For instance, the 2016 Merit Principles Survey reveals that less than a quarter of Federal employees believe their agency addresses poor performers effectively. Separating employees who cannot or will not meet required performance standards is important, and it is particularly important with regard to employees in confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions. High performance by such employees can meaningfully enhance agency operations, while poor performance can significantly hinder them. Senior agency officials report that poor performance by career employees in policy-relevant positions has resulted in long delays and substandard-quality work for important agency projects, such as drafting and issuing regulations. Pursuant to my authority under section 3302(1) of title 5, United States Code, I find that conditions of good administration make necessary an exception to the competitive hiring rules and examinations for career positions in the Federal service of a confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating character. These conditions include the need to provide agency heads with additional flexibility to assess prospective appointees without the limitations imposed by competitive service selection procedures. Placing these positions in the excepted service will mitigate undue limitations on their selection. This action will also give agencies greater ability and discretion to assess critical qualities in applicants to fill these positions, such as work ethic, judgment, and ability to meet the particular needs of the agency. These are all qualities individuals should have before wielding the authority inherent in their prospective positions, and agencies should be able to assess candidates without proceeding through complicated and elaborate competitive service processes or rating procedures that do not necessarily reflect their particular needs. Conditions of good administration similarly make necessary excepting such positions from the adverse action procedures set forth in chapter 75 of title 5, United States Code. Chapter 75 of title 5, United States Code, requires agencies to comply with extensive procedures before taking adverse action against an employee. These requirements can make removing poorly performing employees difficult. Only a quarter of Federal supervisors are confident that they could remove a poor performer. Career employees in confidential, policy-determining, policy‑making, and policy-advocating positions wield significant influence over Government operations and effectiveness. Agencies need the flexibility to expeditiously remove poorly performing employees from these positions without facing extensive delays or litigation. Part of the order pushed an internal review of all agencies to reclassify employees, thus making them subject to normal standards of employment – the same ones that every person in the private sector adheres to.  Why is there resistance aside from the high-stakes effort to keep the current despotism in place? Let’s look at the sincere objections.  Schedule F would bring back the spoils system The term itself is a smear of system in which the elected leadership can actually make a difference in public life. Are cronies hired? Yes. Are good people sometimes fired? Probably. But the alternative is dictatorship by the bureaucracy itself and that is what is truly intolerable. Instead of the “spoils system,” a state in which the elected leaders can enact policy by controlling personnel is called representative democracy. It is also the system the Constitution gave us.  Trump issued Schedule F because he wanted more power  Depends on what you mean by more power. More power over the bureaucracy, yes, but the driving motivation here was to emancipate power from being ruled by bureaucrats that he could not control. It was also designed to stop the bureaucracy from working directly with the media to undermine through lies and smears the work of the administration. In words, elected leaders absolutely do need more power over the deep state.  This would gut government of expertise  There is this strange presumption that educational credentials and a permanent job equals expertise plus good outcomes. That is very obviously untrue. Good outcomes come from basic competence and a work ethic. Those are in short supply in government precisely because the turnover rate is less than zero, unlike the private sector. Anyone who has worked in a federal agency knows this. The best way to unleash genuine expertise is through normal job accountability.  Presidents would use this to politicize the bureaucracy  This is a decent point but the bureaucracy is already heavily politicized, and always in the direction of policies that push more power and money toward the government. Everyone knows this. Is there a danger that a radically and dangerous president would press bureaucrats into even further politicization? Yes, but there is an easy solution to this one: cut the reach and power of the agencies themselves, consistent with the Constitution. Finally – a crucial point – elected leaders could override the influence of private industry which has captured their operations. Bureaucracies would get around this by minimizing Schedule F designations  They would certainly attempt this but that would require that employees refrain from ”policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions.” That would be very great! If they eschewed Schedule F and did that anyway, the Office of Personnel Management could hunt them down and the agency itself would be responsible for illegal actions.  There are surely some downsides to the system as Trump imagined it but all of them trace to the inflated powers of the federal government itself. Yes, a vastly ambitious government machinery will always need bureaucracies and they will always have problems with waste, abuse, and unneeded exercise of power. Perhaps, then, the best long-term effect of Schedule F would be to inspire a rethinking of government’s role in a free society.  It seems remarkable that the executive order creating Schedule F was issued at all. It needs to be pressed upon any future reformers as a path to revisit, ideally with legislative support. Until that time, there will continue to be the grave problem that our elected officials are positioned to be little more than dancing marionettes while the administrative state wields all the real power.  Tyler Durden Fri, 07/01/2022 - 23:10.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJul 1st, 2022

300 employees at TikTok and parent company ByteDance worked in Chinese state media, LinkedIn profile analysis finds

A ByteDance spokesperson confirmed to Forbes the company employs people "who have previously worked in government or state media positions in China." Former President Donald Trump tried to ban TikTok in the US.Jens Kalaene/picture alliance via Getty Images 300 TikTok and ByteDance employees worked in Chinese state media, per an analysis of LinkedIn profiles by Forbes. Forbes said its analysis indicated 50 of the 300 employees currently work on or for TikTok. TikTok has long faced scrutiny in the US over its links to Beijing. Hundreds of TikTok and ByteDance employees previously worked for Chinese state media, according to a review of employee LinkedIn profiles by Forbes.Forbes said its analysis found that 300 workers across TikTok and ByteDance, including company directors and managers, had previously worked for Chinese government-controlled news media including Xinhua and China Radio International. Some 50 of the 300 employees currently work on or for TikTok, Forbes said.TikTok has long faced scrutiny in the US over its links to Beijing. During his last year in office, former President Donald Trump attempted to ban TikTok from operating in the US. Forbes said the LinkedIn profiles of 15 current ByteDance employees indicated they were being simultaneously employed by the company and by Chinese state media.TikTok and ByteDance didn't immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.Jennifer Banks, a spokesperson for ByteDance, told Forbes the company's hiring decisions were "based purely on an individual's professional capability to do the job."Banks continued: "For our China-market businesses, that includes people who have previously worked in government or state media positions in China."She added that ByteDance "does not allow employees to hold second or part-time jobs, or any outside business activity, that would cause a conflict of interest."One TikTok employee, now a content strategy manager at the company, was previously a chief correspondent for state-controlled Xinhua, per Forbes.A BuzzFeed News report published in June revealed audio recordings from TikTok meetings that suggested workers in China had accessed US user data.In June Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr called on Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores. He claimed TikTok posed "an unacceptable national security risk" due to data-harvesting and "Beijing's apparently unchecked access to that sensitive data."TikTok doesn't publicly tag accounts controlled by the Chinese government, per Forbes. The social-media company announced plans to tackle this in March.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytAug 12th, 2022

Modern American Policy: Stupid Or Sinister?

Modern American Policy: Stupid Or Sinister? Authored by Matthew Piepenburg via GoldSwitzerland.com, American policy has been acting in ways which suggest either a desperate ignorance or a sinister restructuring of the national narrative. Surveying the Senseless The USA is now staring down the barrel of four-decade high inflation, an inverted yield curve and the highest debt levels in its history as Wall Street recently enjoyed the strongest relief rally since 2020 on the bad news of yet another Fed rate hike (75bp) into a percolating liquidity crisis. Huh? In a Fed-led dystopia marked by years of printed rather than earned liquidity, bad news is now good news to markets who nervously seek pretexts for central bank stimulus rather than actual earnings or GDP. In such distorted landscapes, positive jobs data creates sell offs and crippling rate hikes induce rising stocks. For almost 2 years, while we and other candid market observers were warning of crippling inflation, our central bankers were describing it as “transitory” with a dishonesty similar to the current recession is not a recession meme. Huh? Meanwhile in DC, we see growing signs of a political culture less about public service and more about self-service. Wealth disparity in the home of the brave has passed the highest levels ever recorded and points directly to the slow and empirical death of the American middle class. The suburbs around DC are growing richer with lobbyist and polo-playing defense contractors buying concessions and second homes from politicians who openly sell votes for reelection in a democracy that more resembles an auction house than a house of representation. A former tobacco tsar at the FDA, for example, recently took an executive role at Phillip Morris while an executive at Raytheon (America’s second largest defense contractor) just took a key post at the Department of Defense. Alas, the foxes not only guard the hen house, they run it. The Land of the Free? If fascism is defined as “the perfect merger of the state and corporate powers” (See Mussolini circa 1936), then the USA may still be the land of the brave, but it no longer resembles the land of the free. JP Morgan, led by a $35M/year Jamie Dimon, just paid a $96M “fine” for a $20B profit garnered from openly manipulating the gold market. Huh? At the same time, once great (and now police-defunded) cities like Chicago, NYC, and San Francisco are seeing tumbleweeds blowing past office vacancy rates as high as 40% following an historically disastrous COVID lockdown policy which did far more psychological, criminal and financial damage ($7T and counting) to America than a flu with less than a 1% Case Fatality Rate. Huh? Turning to foreign policies, having failed to deliver “freedom and democracy” to Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan at the cost of America’s best sons and daughters, one wonders why the US has spent another $60B to bring “freedom” to the Ukraine when millions of US children live in poverty. All Americans hate to see civilians suffer in needless wars. But many who blindly wave Ukrainian flags in moments of ad-water, instant-virtue signaling from a government-led media can’t place Ukraine on a map nor bother to examine the complex history of its Russian tensions which date back to the 1750s. Furthermore, sending an IQ, history and geography challenged Kamila Harris to pre-war Ukraine with a NATO narrative only accelerated the February drums of war (and the financially disastrous sanctions that followed) in the same way that Pelosi’s recent trip to Taiwan seems to be more about flaming rather than cooling the war hawks. Does the US, with over 800 military bases in 70 countries actively seek war, or does it seek peace? Thousands are dying in the East for what many professional US statesmen believe was an easily avoidable war. Has the military industrial complex, against which Eisenhower (no stranger to war) warned in January of 1961, hi-jacked American politics? Meanwhile, as American monetary and fiscal policy reached new levels of open insanity in the seemingly deliberate fear-campaign led by “experts” like Fauci in the dramatically-described “war against COVID,” the latest boogieman out of DC is an equally unaffordable war against an equally-hyped climate change. If passed, “The Inflation Adjustment Act of 2022,” now sitting on Biden’s desk (or pillow), seeks further dollars that America does not earn yet which the White House assures won’t be inflationary. Huh? Do the foregoing samples of questionable policy failures evidence open stupidity, or is there something more systemic at play? The Fed: “Advancing the Few at the Expense of the Many” My take on the Fed is only that: My take. It is based upon the premise (and bias) that the Fed is driven, as Andrew Jackson warned, to serve the few and not the many. This presumption comes not only from personal observations, but a careful study of the Fed’s illegitimate practices and origins, far too complex to unpack here but detailed in Gold Matters. The Ongoing Inflation Lie As I’ve been writing and saying for months, the Fed’s current inflation narrative as well as “solution” is as openly bogus as a 42nd Street Rolex. There is little about the current inflation narrative that compares to the 1970’s, and hence little about Powell’s current policies which remotely compare to the so-called Volcker era of 1980, which ended, by the way, in a recession. Nevertheless, I am fascinated by the extensive time, brain-power and pundit attention given to explaining current inflation. Fancy concepts from “demand-pull” to “supply shocks,” or “extraneous shocks” and “accelerants” to even “black swans” are used to explain a 9.1% CPI inflation scale (which, if DC truly wishes to be “Volcker-like,” is closer to 18% using the metrics of his era…). The Simple Inflation Truth Inflation, which was already steadily rising pre-Putin and percolating pre-COVID, is nothing more than the direct consequence of USD debasement driven by: 1) years of openly addictive mouse-click money (>10X since 2008) from the Eccles Building and, 2) fatal fiscal spending from the White House, be it red or blue. In just the last 24 months, the Fed created 50% more mouse-click money than all the money that ever existed in the 256 years of its national existence. Such numbers are a tad “inflationary,” no? Alas, costs are rising because our grotesquely inflated/de-valued dollar is tanking. Between 1776 and the un-immaculate conception of the Fed in 1913, a USD was once a USD. Since 1913, however, a USD is really (worth) nothing more than a Nickle. Why? Broken Faith vs. Store of Value Because when a central bank creates trillions of those dollars out of thin air with no link to an underlying real asset or an equivalent exchange for a good or service (as Germans like Alfred Lansburgh, Austrians like von Mises and Americans like Andrew Dickson White argued), that dollar is nothing more than a symbol of broken faith rather than a store of genuine value. Like a glass of wine filled with a swimming pool of water, the dollar is diluted; it’s flavor, color and value ruined. Since 1971, and when measured against a single milligram of gold, the USD, like all other fiat currencies, has lost greater than 95% of its value. The Fed: Blaming vs. Accountability Rather than confess the toxic reality (and complicity) of the fatal and inflationary expansion of the broad money supply, the DC elites first tried to call it “transitory,” and when that failed, they tried to call it “Putin’s inflation.” Really? There’s no doubt that the sanctions against Putin sent gas prices and the CPI higher—especially in Europe. And there’s also no doubt that the trillions of fiscal and monetary dollars used to “fight” COVID were CPI tailwinds. But a tailwind does not mean a cause. Take the “war on COVID” and the $7T+ in combined fiscal and monetary dollars used to combat it. I’m not here to end the COVID debate with medicine or science, of which I’m clearly no expert. But many of us (including Rand Paul or Christine Anderson) would agree that neither was Fauci, the CDC, the WHO or the NIH. Almost everyone (vaxed or un-vaxed, masked or un-masked) has already caught the virus; it’s fairly clear that locking the country down for well over a year did nothing but cost money and freedoms while destroying businesses who deserved to choose for themselves whether to stay open or shut. There will be others who disagree, but in my legally, historically and financially educated mind, not since the oxy-moronic Patriot Act have I seen a greater crime (or psy op) against a nation’s own citizens and their once inalienable rights and civil liberties as that which was embodied by the 2020 lockdowns. As Ben Franklin warned, a nation which surrenders its freedoms in the name of security deserves neither. Critical Thinking Locked Down As a kid who won athletic scholarships to some of the finest schools (from Choate to Harvard) in America, I learned the trade of critical thinking, which any of us can acquire, with or without a shiny diploma. What particularly sickened me, however, was that the very schools (prep to grad level) who taught me the history, laws and methods of thinking critically, independently and openly, were the same knee-bending schools who collectively insulted those same principals by shutting their doors to the un-vaxed and censoring alternative views from professors and students who thought differently. Were these lockdowns proof of humanitarian concern or were they test-drives for increasingly centralized control over national and international markets, currencies and populations? From the very beginning of the pandemic, expert virologists, physicians and even vaccine creators (as evidenced by the meetings at the AIER in Great Barrington) with equal if not far superior credentials than Dr. Fauci, were openly censored, gas-lighted and criminalized by the media as flat-earth “conspiracy theorists”—the now favorite term of art for anyone who disagrees with DC’s often comically official narrative on anything from WMD to the current definition of a recession. Thus, when considering the current inflation narrative and its causes, was the US merely stupid in imposing financially crippling lockdowns or were there sinister forces engineering fear as a means of pushing the masses into dependency while the Fed printed more dollars for the repo and bond markets (a hidden “bailout’) than for Main Street? Saudi Did It? Others may want to blame the Saudis and the high oil prices for the inflation we see today. It’s worth reminding, however, that today’s oil price is roughly the same as it was in April of 2020. The Solution Narrative As far as combatting inflation, that too creates a great deal of space for debate, error and comedy. Many, including the Fed’s James Bullard, Lael Brainard or Neel Kashkari have been arguing for aggressive rate hikes to kill inflation. But with inflation already at 9.1%, such “above-neutral” would require the Fed to follow the IMF’s recommendation that interest rates be at least 1% above inflation rates. In an honest world, that would require a 10.1% interest rate policy, which would immediately bankrupt Uncle Sam. Instead, Powell is boasting of an “aggressive” 2.25-50% Fed Fund Rates to fight 9.1% inflation, the policy equivalent of storming the beaches of Normandy with squirt-guns. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Fed, as per my recent articles, is using dishonest math to publicly claim positive 1% real rates despite the fact that when measuring even a 3% yield on the 10Y UST against a 9.1% inflation rate, the USA is in fact living in a world of at least -6% rather than +1% real rates. Like the CPI scale itself, the Fed is openly lying about negative real rates. Sadly, such clever math is now the new DC normal. The Fed won’t say what the rest of us know, namely: The only tool to fight Fed-made inflation is a Fed-made recession, which they will deny in plain sight. The Recession Narrative The latest lie from on high, of course, is the valiant attempt by Powell, Biden and Yellen to downplay 2 consecutive quarters of negative GDP as a non-recessionary “transition” despite such data effectively confirming the very definition of a recession. Instead, DC would now have us believe that positive labor and unemployment data is non-recessionary. In particular, the BLS is boasting 528,000 newly created jobs in July (and 2M year-to-date), which places US unemployment at an admirable 3.5%, the lowest level seen in 50 years. Unfortunately, a little bit of honest math indicates that those “new jobs” don’t represent new folks finding work, but sadly, just folks already-employed who are taking on second or third jobs to survive rising inflation costs. The July labor force participation rate actually went down, which means there are less not more people in the work force. In April of 2019, I did a more extensive report on the DC math used to artificially puff US labor data (U3 and U6) which is far worse than officially reported. But who needs real math or honest data when DC’s comforting words feel so much better? Such consistent trends of sanctioned dishonesty, however, force us to question the intelligence and desperation of our so-called “leadership.” From Fake Math to Real Wars I’ve written and spoken extensively about the avoid-ability of the war in Ukraine as well as the foreseeable stupidity of the Western sanctions against Putin, all of which have empirically backfired at every level– from the slow collapse of the petrodollar (and hence USD) to the slow rise of a stronger, Eastern-lead trading block among the BRICS. The petrodollar is no laughing matter. Since de-coupling from the gold standard, the US relies on the forced global purchase of oil in US Dollars to prevent this already debased currency from losing even more demand, and hence value and power. Only two global leaders have since tried to stand up to the petrodollar power in the past. Saddam Hussein wanted to buy oil in euros and Khaddaffi wanted to buy oil in gold; and just look what happened to them… Unfortunately for the US, both China and Russia have nuclear weapons. Hence, the US playbook of fighting wars or indirectly eliminating leaders to keep its financial interests secure got a little bit messier this February when poking at Putin. The Dollar Fairytale: Another Open Lie from On High Despite openly objective evidence of an increasingly unloved USD, DC continues to boast of the relative strength of the USD on the DXY. What DC won’t say, however, is that this “strength” is only measured against a tanking yen and euro, two debt-soaked currencies who don’t have enough reserve currency clout to afford a currency-boosting rate hike. Against the Chinese Yuan, however, the US has less of which to boast… In short, the USD is anything but strong. As discussed above, its inherent purchasing power has been neutered by over a century of devaluation and is little more than the best horse in the Western glue factory. Profitable War Drums Given the failings and open lies above, from inflation realism and recessionary word-smithing to dying currencies and rising, unpayable debts, why on earth would the US now be saber rattling over the Ukraine or pinching the Chinese bear over Taiwan? Is it to spread democracy and freedom by helping the underdog, whatever the sacrifice? Well, one of our most famous underdogs, military generals and presidents, George Washington, warned over 2 centuries ago to precisely avoid such foreign entanglements. “Truly enlightened and independent patriots,” he argued, focused on prosperity within their borders not peripheral wars outside them. Despite such warnings, the US has spent a lot of time fighting outside its borders rather building unity within them. Why? One sad but empirically proven argument is that war is historically good for tanking GDP and struggling stock markets. In March of 2018, I penned an eerily prescient analysis of how US stocks love global war, and warned of escalations against Russia and China. In particular, I addressed the historical data of the “war dividend,” which tracked US markets reacting favorably to de-stabilization outside its borders. Thus, even if Generals Washington and Eisenhower warned against such conflicts, Wall Street and the defense contractors who lobby DC love a good war. Why? Because war feeds US markets. Conflicts overseas create massive capital flows into the relative safety of the US. During the Iraq War, hundreds of billions in Middle Eastern assets rushed into US markets while NATO bombs landed in Iraq. Between 2003 and 2008, the Dow rose steadily upwards. During the Vietnam War (which killed 58,000 Americans and 1.2 million Vietnamese), the Dow gained 53%. When the war ended, the markets promptly fell, and fell hard. During the Great War of 1914-1918, the Dow nearly doubled. As for WW2, the Dow rose by 164% between Pearl Harbor in 1941 and VJ day in 1945. Given such numbers, was the recent idea of sending a kindergarten-level intellect like Kamila Harris to negotiate peace (?) with Putin in early 2022 deliberately set up to fail? Was Pelosi’s recent flight to Taiwan a commitment to ensure freedom? Or is there a more sinister, yet hidden, motive to push for war in a time of economic disaster at home? Is America Heading in the Opposite Direction of Its Founding Fathers? History confirms that every debt crisis leads to a financial crisis, a market crisis, a currency crisis, social unrest, a political crisis, and ultimately extreme authoritarian and centralized control from the far political left of right. Given how increasingly centralized our openly broken yet centrally controlled markets, economies and politics have become, and given the acceleration and scope of the open lies, backfiring polices and unpayable costs and debts which have emerged in the post-COVID and post-sanction new normal, is it possible that the USA is headed toward a similarly authoritarian fate? Is it possible that the by ignoring the clear warnings of figures like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Benjamin Franklin and Dwight Eisenhower, that America is heading in the opposite direction of its founding principles? Is it possible that the openly failing inflation, recessionary, domestic and foreign polices listed above are more than just a list of stupid mistakes, but indicators of a set-up for something more sinister? Are our markets, economies, currencies and individual freedoms being sacrificed to the altar of order, control, safety and security? Is DC creating an intentional class of American lords and serfs, in which the former hand out stimulus checks to prevent the later from reaching for pitch forks? As we learned in the Europe of the 1930’s or the lockdowns of the 2020’s, fear (be it viral, militant or economic) is a potent tool of control—it turns revolutionary anger into malleable subservience. Just a thought. Tyler Durden Thu, 08/11/2022 - 23:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeAug 12th, 2022

Democratic Party Playbook Exposed: The Cloward-Piven Strategy

Democratic Party Playbook Exposed: The Cloward-Piven Strategy Via EconomicNoise.com, Cloward and Piven is the Playbook of the Democrat Party. It is the second part of this two-pronged approach: When you don’t have logic or reason on your side, use power. If you don’t have enough power, flood the system to acquire more. Cloward and Piven Flooding the system was the Cloward and Piven strategy to bring down this country. Create real or phony problems that “require” government actions that begin the process of shifting freedoms from individuals to the State. (For a more layman’s insight, see here.) Rahm Emmanuel, President Obama’s Chief of Staff, said that “no good crisis should ever go to waste.” That implied an opening for more government, a Cloward and Piven (CP) opportunity. (To visualize one asserted implementation of this, involving Acorn, see here.) The strategy is not a Democrat monopoly. Republicans use it also, although do not brag about it or depend upon it almost exclusively. The process is like rust eroding liberty, slowly and steadily. It replaces freedom with dependency and controls. There are two problems with the strategy: It must be slow and steady (boil the frog beginning with unheated water, slowly increasing the temperature [a wonderful metaphor but physically erroneous] so that the frog doesn’t notice until it is too late). It must be stealth, that is citizen “frogs” must not realize what is happening. The CP strategy was developed in and for a world very different from today. The Internet changed this world. Conventional media was all that needed to be controlled in the CP world. By controlling this source, government created its own “Pravda.” Controlling the  media was possible because it was owned by corporations. It consisted of known and immovable assets, which are easy targets for government. The message was simple: Obey or we will put you out of business!  Legal action against government is a “fool’s errand.” They own the courts and have unlimited funds to fight. If threatened, you will comply or they will bankrupt you! Tax issues and anti-trust cases are the bludgeoning weapons of choice. Fighting charges, regardless of how false, is akin to a minor suing his parents. That is why media, other companies and wealthy individuals generally settle government claims for enormous sums of money, but without the admission of guilt. There is no better job than that of blackmailer when you are also the sheriff or the Department of  Justice! Why are Things Different Then came the internet! While it didn’t stop extortion of corporations, it exposed the media as “captured” propagandists. Bloggers began telling different “truths.” The first reaction was to shut them down. Unfortunately for government, this group is so diverse geographically and otherwise, that traditional threats of “putting you out of business” were meaningless. Asset confiscation threats are meaningless when there are no physical assets. To be a blogger only requires electricity and the internet (and perhaps some intellectual capital to enhance success). The only way to shut these sources down is to control the Internet and its content. The first was impossible. The second was tried. Unfortunately for government, silencing free speech is frowned upon in free countries, especially those where Free Speech is the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights. Definitions of speech that didn’t qualify for protection were tried (“hate speech,” “lies,” “dangerous rhetoric,” “racism,” “inciting danger,” etc.) in an effort to obviate the First Amendment. Threats of imprisonment were tried, but the First Amendment was too broad and too sacred for these efforts to succeed. Government then went after the platforms (Twitter, Facebook, etc.). It was the same corrupt strategy employed against traditional media — You impose our “bans” (censorship) or we will put you out of business! But, “muscling” these corporate platforms only caused new competitors to sprout. Most were smaller and not asset-heavy. Suppressed views and voices began to move to these venues where free speech was allowed. Censorship works, but only where government can exert leverage via harm. It was easy to cow Facebook and Twitter. Ditto for established institutions like public schools, colleges and corporations. These entities had to decide whether they wanted the hassle and threats of being “un-woke.” Most submitted, presumably determining that losing some customers would be less costly than getting into a legal or other battle with Leviathan. Some probably thought this “new inclusiveness” would gain them additional customers. The Wrong War Generals are always prepared to fight the next war in the same manner they fought the last one. They are rarely prepared to fight the next one if it requires different strategies and tactics. So it appears to be here! Government believed prior tactics and strategies would suffice. The prior war was against traditional media with fixed positions and assets. The Internet changed “warfare.” It created media guerrilla war! This new enemy moves quickly and has no assets to threaten or destroy. Take away a bloggers website address and he easily gets a new one. Government wins against corporate internet players but loses against the “guerrillas.” Vietnam and Afghanistan showed US military weaknesses in non-conventional wars. Traditional bloggers or start-up sharing sites are guerrillas. Conventional war strategies do not win guerrilla battles! Arguably the demented Joe Biden and his Obama staff are to thank for ultimately saving this country. Someone inside that Administration realized the “slow boil” strategy was not convincing the American public fast enough and had to be sped up. They put Cloward and Piven into overdrive! Time was likely not on their side, but escalating the war was a fatal mistake! Marty Bent summarized it nicely: They tried to do too much too quickly and people have started to develop pattern recognition on the go that allows them to recognize when the unproductive class is attempting to manipulate their minds.  This pattern recognition is accelerated and enhanced by our ability to communicate directly with each other in real time over the internet. Instant communications were not possible when Cloward and Piven designed their strategy. Nor was there a means to present an opposing view. That all changed with the Internet. Now you see why governments around the world want to control the Internet. They can’t and they must not be allowed to change that! For all its negatives, the Internet has at least one positive — it obsoleted traditional and controllable sources of information. The fragmentation of the internet makes it impossible to control (unless you wish to go full Communist Korea or China). This country is not ready for that step, at least not yet. Thank God for the private sector, technology and the Internet. Together they voided the Cloward and Piven strategy, censorship and a complete government take-over of society. So long as the Internet exists in its present form (warts and all), freedom cannot be extinguished. Big guns do not silence big truths! Only big censorship can do that and we must not allow that to happen! Tyler Durden Wed, 08/10/2022 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeAug 11th, 2022

Is The US About To Go Full Louis XVI?

Is The US About To Go Full Louis XVI? Authored by Simon Black via SovereignMan.com, On September 3, 1783, after nearly a year of excruciating back-and-forth negotiations, all sides had finally gathered together in Paris to sign a historic peace agreement. It was a pretty important peace deal. Because the Treaty of Paris, as it is now known, is what formally ended the American Revolution, and when Great Britain legally recognized the United States as an independent nation. The treaty was signed in Paris because France had been a major supporter of the US war effort. And just as soon as the ink was dry, French King Louis XVI ordered his finance minister to prepare an accounting of exactly how much money France had spent on US independence. The result was nothing short of astonishing—more than 1 billion livres. To put that number in context, the French Treasury’s entire annual revenue only amounted to around 200 million livres. So they had basically sunk FIVE YEARS worth of their tax revenue fighting someone else’s war. Granted, Britain was still one of France’s main rivals. And the French did not care for British King George III. But the American War was simply too costly, and France had already been on very shaky financial footing well before this point. Louis XIV had nearly bankrupted the country a century before. His successor, Louis XV, had to drastically slash expenses and could barely hang on financially. Then, in 1774, just prior to the American Revolution, Louis XVI became king at a time that France was rapidly deteriorating. You’d think that with so much economic turmoil at home that he would have focused on his own national interests… and, in lieu of money, weapons, and ships, he would have instead sent the royal thoughts and prayers to America. But no. Lucky for the United States, Louis XVI courageously fought the American Revolution down to the very last French taxpayer. Only after the war did Louis finally take stock of the situation and realize the truth: America was in a much better position. Britain was bruised but still powerful. Yet his own France was nearly bankrupt and desperately in need of cash. Not exactly a win/win. Louis XVI was King, but his powers were limited; he was beholden to the legislature, called the Estates-General, and he couldn’t simply decree new taxes without their consent. The King did, however, control the tax collectors. And Louis made sure they had every authority to coerce, harass, and intimidate money out of French citizens. French tax collectors had the authority to walk right into people’s homes unannounced, conduct surprise inspections to look for hidden wealth, and walk away with whatever money or property they felt would satisfy the peasant’s tax bill. This is actually a pretty common theme throughout history: governments that are on the ropes routinely resort to plundering the savings of their citizens. Several ancient Roman emperors, in fact, from Diocletian to Valentinian III, famously sent ruthless tax collectors to harass their citizens and steal their wealth. Several ancient Chinese dynasties did the same thing. So did the declining Ottoman Empire. Significantly ramping up tax collection efforts is typically a hallmark of an economy and empire in decline. So we can’t be too surprised that, in its latest legislative bonanza, the US government is setting aside $80 billion for IRS tax collection efforts. They’re calling the bill, of course, the Inflation Reduction Act. This is pure comedy—the legislation will do no such thing. Why would inflation, which in part was caused by excessive government spending, magically dissipate because of more government spending? It’s ludicrous. But inflation aside, front and center in the legislation is $80 billion in funding for the IRS, primarily to step up its tax collection and enforcement efforts. To put that number in context, the annual budget for the IRS is about $12 billion. So, even though the $80 billion will be leaked out over a period of several years, it constitutes a major increase in the IRS budget. The entire idea is based on a bizarre notion known as the ‘tax gap’. This is the difference between the amount of tax the government collects, versus the amount the government thinks they should collect. In other words, the tax gap represents how much they believe people are cheating. And the estimates vary wildly, from $100 billion per year to a whopping $1 trillion per year. Frankly these numbers have always seemed to me like they were completely made up. No one has explained how they actually come up with such estimates. They just barf up some number and pretend that it’s true. Obviously there are a whole lot of hardcore tax cheats out there, stealing and defrauding the system. But that’s not why the IRS is receiving an $80 billion boost. This money will go to hire a small army of tax inspectors who will fan out across the nation on a giant fishing expedition that will ensnare countless middle class Americans and small businesses. Certainly they’ll catch a few cheats along the way. And they may even find a few bucks to close that mythical ‘tax gap’. But at what cost? One of the biggest problems with the US economy right now is that it’s so much more difficult to produce goods and services. Over the past few years, the people in charge have put up endless road blocks and obstacles for small business. They vanquished the labor market and made it all but impossible to find workers. They destroyed the supply chain. They engineered historically high inflation. They came up with a myriad of costly new environmental and public health rules. On top of that they constantly create new rules and regulations, many of which step far beyond the government’s authority. (Last year, for example, the CDC Director decided in her sole discretion that she controlled the entire $10+ trillion US housing market.) 23% of full-time workers today require a government license to do what they do, according to the US Department of Labor. Even being a hairdresser is full of red tape and costly bureaucracy. This new threat of widespread tax audits is going to be yet another obstruction to Americans’ productivity…. at a time when the economy desperately needs maximum focus. Inflation is raging because there is a serious, global imbalance between the supply and demand of goods and services. Specifically, demand is too strong because they doled out trillions of dollars in free money. And supply is weak because nearly every single government policy makes it harder for people to produce (which is yet another hallmark of empires in decline). Now, on top of everything else, there is a very high likelihood of being harassed by the tax authorities. Audits are incredibly unpleasant, costly, and time-consuming. Even if all of your accounts are in order and you’ve done nothing wrong, a tax audit monopolizes a tremendous amount of time and money. It’s debilitating. Say goodbye to actually running your business, growing sales, or spending time with your family on nights and weekends… and say hello to preparing for your tax audit. Your time will now be spent digging up receipts, finding old contracts, and trying to recall specific details of trivial decisions you made years ago. Plus you’ll most likely have to pay outside experts to assist with the process, like CPAs and attorneys. And naturally the government does not reimburse you for such expenses. But at least you’ll get to deduct them… from your taxes. In the end, after endless financial scrutiny, the government may conclude that you owe them a few bucks because of some undocumented deduction from several years ago. So you write them a check for some trivial sum… after having spent countless hours and effort taken away from your productivity. The cost/benefit just doesn’t compute. And that’s why healthy, prosperous nations don’t engage in such absurd activities. They don’t need to. Taxes ultimately represent the government’s ‘slice’ of an economic pie. So when a country is prosperous and an economy is strong, the government’s slice continues to grow because the overall economic pie is constantly getting bigger. But nations in decline don’t see it this way. For them, the pie is shrinking. So they think the only way to increase their slice is to go after other people’s crumbs. History shows this is absolutely the wrong move. Raising tax rates, inventing new taxes, and recruiting armies of tax collectors only makes the pie shrink even more. Their efforts, instead, should be focused on making the pie bigger. But they don’t think that way. Bear in mind this is all brought to you by the same people who are shoveling your tax dollars out the door to Ukraine $50 billion at a time. It’s very ‘Louis XVI’ of them. All of these trends—the cannibalistic surge in tax authorities, the anti-productive regulations, the economic scarcity mentality—are all hallmarks of an empire in decline. The situation is NOT terminal. It is NOT irreversible. But it is reason enough to have a Plan B. Tyler Durden Wed, 08/10/2022 - 14:25.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytAug 10th, 2022

"Coup" Means Whatever The Regime Wants It To Mean

"Coup" Means Whatever The Regime Wants It To Mean Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute, In the immediate aftermath of the January 6 riot at the US Capitol, many pundits and politicians were eager to describe the events of that day as a coup d'etat in which the nation was "this close" to having some sort of junta void the 2020 election and take power in Washington.  The headlines at the time were unambiguous in their assertions that the riot was a coup or attempted coup. For example, the riot was “A Very American Coup” according to a headline at the New Republic. “This Is a Coup” insists a writer at Foreign Policy. The Atlantic presented photos purported to be “Scenes from an American Coup.”  This general tactic has not changed since then. Just this month, for example, Vanity Fair referred to the January 6 riots as "Trump's attempted coup" Last month, Vox called it "Trump's cuckoo coup." Moreover, anti-Trump politicians have repeatedly referred to the riot as a coup, and "attempted coup" has become the standard term of choice for the January 6 panel.  At the time, it was obvious that if the riot was a coup at all, it failed utterly. Thus, the debate is now over whether or not it was an attempted coup. On January 8, 2021, I argued the riot was not an attempted coup. Now, 18 months later, after months of "investigation" and testimony to the January 6 committee, we've learned new details about the events that occurred that day. And now I can say with even more confidence: the January 6 riot was not an attempted coup.  It was not an attempted coup because it simply wasn't the sort of event that historians and political scientists—the people who actually study coups—generally define as a coup. Even the Justice Department admits that virtually all of the rioters were, at most, guilty only of crimes such as trespassing and disorderly conduct. Among the tiny minority of those charged with actual conspiracy—11 people— they lacked any sort of institutional backing or support that is necessary for a coup attempt to take place.  Nor is this just some meaningless debate over semantics. Words matters and definitions matter. This should be abundantly clear to anyone in our current age of debates over what terms like "recession" or "vaccine" or "woman" mean. In fact, the use of term "coup" has been thoroughly weaponized in that outside academic circles it is employed largely as a pejorative to discredit political acts designed to register discontent with a ruling regime or to oppose a ruling coalition. For many, the term coup is now used increasingly to describe political acts one doesn't like. But if the term "coup" ultimately means "political thing those bad guys did" then it ceases to have any precise meaning at all. But, the use of the term in this way does explain why so many pundits and politicians routinely use the term to label their opponents coup plotters. It's basically name calling, and really only tells us about the user's political leanings.  What Is a Coup? In their article for the Journal of Peace Research, “Global Instances of Coups from 1950 to 2010: A New Dataset,” authors Jonathan M. Powell and Clayton L. Thyne provide a definition:  A coup attempt includes illegal and overt attempts by the military or other elites within the state apparatus to unseat the sitting executive. Although the terms "military" and "coup" are routinely employed together, Powell and Thyne emphasize military involvement at early stages is not necessary: [Other definitions] more broadly allow non-military elites, civilian groups, and even mercenaries to be included as coup perpetrators. This broad definition includes four sources, including [a definition stating that coup] perpetrators need only be ‘organized factions’. We take a middle ground. Coups may be undertaken by any elite who is part of the state apparatus. These can include non-civilian members of the military and security services, or civilian members of government. Moreover, it is not necessary that violence actually be used. The presence of a threat issued by some organized group of elites is sufficient.  This definition is helpful because there are many types of political actions that are not coups, even if the intended outcome is a change in the ruling regime. The definition offered by Powell and Thyne is useful because it avoids "conflating coups with other forms of anti-regime activity, which is the primary problem with broader approaches." For example, popular uprisings that force ruling executives from power are not generally coups. Intervention by a foreign regime is not a coup. Civil wars initiated by non-elites or other outsiders are not coups.  Why the Jan 6 Riot Was Not a Coup In the case of the January 6 riot, the rioters had no institutional backing, no promises of help from elites, and no reason to assume they had access to any coercive tools necessary to seize and hold control of a state's executive apparatus. Nor was Donald Trump even in a position to promise such things. As noted by Elaine Kamarck at the Brookings Institution:  we now know that Trump did not even have the support of his own family and friends nor his handpicked White House staff. To pursue his plans, he had to rely on a close group of advisors known as “the clown show” led by Rudi Giuliani, a pillow manufacturer, and a dot-com millionaire—none of whom was in government and none of whom controlled the most important “assets” (guns, tanks, planes etc.) needed to take over a government. In contrast to most successful coups in history, Trump had no faction of the military, no faction of the National Guard, and no faction of the District of Colombia Metropolitan Police at his disposal. In other words, the rioters had no avenue to calling upon any faction of the state or group of elites to secure backing. Kamarck continues:  As we learned in some of the most recent hearings, it was Vice President Mike Pence who was in contact with the military and the police, and most importantly, the military and the police were taking orders from Pence not Trump, the commander in chief!  Given that Trump didn't attempt to actually attempt to secure any government agency to secure power for himself, we can guess Trump knew no branch of the federal government was about to step in to illegally secure an extension to his tenure as president. We can never know for sure what Trump was really thinking on that day, but even if Trump sought to encourage a group of protestors to somehow put pressure on Congress—even if by violent means—that's not a coup. It's a popular uprising.  The Bolivian "Coup": The Anti-Morales Protestors in Bolivia  The protests that followed the 2019 elections in Bolivia provide an interestingly similar case to the January 6 riot and demonstrate that it's often quite debatable as to what constitutes a coup.  As the Bolivian election neared its end on October 24, sitting president Evo Morales began to claim victory. Numerous opponents, however, claimed Morales's supporters had engaged in electoral fraud. Both sides refused to accept the results of the election, and protests and riots soon erupted across the nation. Morales and his supporters accused the opposition of staging a coup. The opposition accused Morales of the same. Or, more precisely, they accused Morales of attempting an "autocoup"—autogolpe in Spanish—in which Morales was attempting to hold on to power via illegal means.  Ultimately, Morales ended up resigning after he failed to maintain control over the police and military. High ranking officials from those institutions "recommended" Morales resign, and Morales did so soon after. Morales went into exile and Mexico and the opposition became the de facto governing coalition in Bolivia.  There remains no agreement, however, as to whether or not the actions of either side in Brazil constituted a coup (or autocoup.) Morales's supporters—mostly leftists—refer to the political crisis following the election as a coup. Those who are convinced Morales did indeed lose the election refer to his efforts as an autocoup. But many also refer to the events as a popular uprising.  For many, the situation in Bolivia in 2019 remains ambiguous, and we can see how it shares many elements in common with the events surrounding the January 6 riot at the Capitol. It began with claims of election fraud, and ended with a group of protestors attempting to pressure congress to change the outcome. This is not fundamentally different from the popular uprisings in Bolivia, except that in the US the outcome was never really dubious. There was never really any doubt as to whether the Pentagon would he helping Trump push through an autocoup. Trump never had any real reason to believe he could hold on to power, even with 900 mostly unarmed protestors trespassing in the Capitol.  "Coup" Now Means "Thing I Don't Like" The Bolivia situation also helps to illustrate how the term "coup" is used selectively for political effect. The fact that Morales's leftist supporters are generally those who favor the use of the term to describe Morales's removal from office is no coincidence. Those who support one side say it's a coup, while the other side does not.  We see the same dynamic at work in the US, and we should not be surprised that the media has rushed to apply the term to the riot. This phenomenon was examined in a November 2019 article titled “Coup with Adjectives: Conceptual Stretching or Innovation in Comparative Research?,” by Leiv Marsteintredet and Andres Malamud. The authors note that as the incidence of real coups has declined, the word has become more commonly applied to political events that are generally not coups. But, as the authors note, this is no mere issue of splitting hairs, explaining that “The choice of how to conceptualize a coup is not to be taken lightly since it carries normative, analytical, and political implications.” Increasingly, the term really means "this is a thing I don’t like." It's clear the January 6 panel in Congress, and countless anti-Trump pundits use the term in this way to express disapproval and also to justify regime crackdowns against pro-Trump opponents of the regime. It's easier to justify harsh prison sentences for a disorganized group of vandals if their acts can be framed as a nearly successful coup and therefore a threat to "our democracy." Moreover, if the situation were reversed, and if protestors invaded the Capitol to support a leftwing, pro-regime candidate, we can be sure that the vocabulary used to describe the event in the mainstream press would be quite different.  Tyler Durden Wed, 08/10/2022 - 17:40.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytAug 10th, 2022

A New U.S. Crackdown Has Crypto Users Worried About Their Privacy

Tornado Cash’s service has let hackers flourish, regulators say. But privacy experts worry the ban goes too far. The battle between the crypto community and the U.S. government over financial privacy just escalated dramatically, amid government efforts to crack down on criminals. Tornado Cash is a service that helps some cryptocurrency owners protect their anonymity by scrambling information trails on the blockchain. On Monday, the Treasury Department prohibited Americans from using the service, arguing that it has played a central role in the laundering of more than $7 billion. In a statement, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), a Treasury Dept. agency, called Tornado Cash “a significant threat to the national security” of the United States, and alleged that it has been used repeatedly by North Korean hackers to launder money from multiple million-dollar thefts. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] But the decision drew vicious backlash from many in the crypto community, who see it as a governmental overstep that runs contrary to their core values of privacy and autonomy. On Twitter, the crypto lawyer Collins Belton called it “arguably the most significant legal action that has occurred in crypto” and warned that it could produce “absolutely gargantuan ripple effects.” The Treasury’s decision could end up significantly altering the way users engage with crypto. It also sets the stage for a slew of fierce legal and rhetorical battles between the crypto industry and the U.S. government. Hiding crime When someone sends cryptocurrency from one account to another, a record of the transaction is etched into the blockchain forever. Investigators or eagle-eyed sleuths can then use this public information to follow money flows and learn about a person or company’s financial activity. The U.S. Department of Justice, for example, traced blockchain records to shut down a global child abuse website and arrest hundreds of offenders. This transparency has given rise to the creation of “mixing” services, which are designed to hide activity on the blockchain. A user can deposit cryptocurrency into a mixer, which uses complex cryptography to obfuscate the money’s trail and then send it to a brand new wallet address. From there, the user can recover the funds and eventually cash them out anonymously. As cryptocurrency has exploded in usage both for legal and illegal activity, mixers have become a “go-to tool for cybercriminals,” according to a recent report from the blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis. The study says that nearly 10% of all funds sent from illicit addresses are sent to mixers, and that the usage of mixers in illicit activity has increased significantly in 2022. “Mixers account for a small share of the overall cryptocurrency ecosystem, but play a significant role in illicit activity,” Andrew Fierman, the head of sanctions strategy at Chainalysis, wrote to TIME in an email. The role of North Korea One of the main drivers of this uptick is the increased activity of North Korean hackers, U.S. officials say. In April, U.S. Treasury officials accused the Lazarus Group, a hacking organization allegedly sponsored by North Korea’s government, of spearheading the $600 million hack of the popular crypto game Axie Infinity’s Ronin network. Those officials accused the North Korean government of using the hack to “generate revenue for its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.” And the Ronin attackers used Tornado Cash to launder the money, officials say. They say that after $600 million was drained from the Ronin network into a wallet controlled by the Lazarus group, it was then sent to intermediary wallets, then rinsed via Tornado Cash, $10 million at a time. Tornado Cash developers’ attempts to block the Lazarus wallet from interacting with Tornado Cash were unsuccessful: about 18% of the total amount of Ether flowing through Tornado Cash in recent months—167,400 ETH—came from the Ronin hack, according to the blockchain analytics firm Nansen. Ari Redbord, the head of legal and government affairs at the crypto regulatory startup TRM Labs, says the Ronin hack was a major turning point with regards to crypto regulation. “Ronin really changed the way the U.S. government sees money laundering in the crypto space: they shifted from the idea that hacks were a financial crime to the idea that they were a true national security concern,” he says. Redbord estimates that a billion dollars in North Korean-related laundered funds have gone through Tornado Cash, and that the ten biggest hacks perpetrated by North Korean hackers employed Tornado Cash to launder those funds. So on Monday, the Treasury Department placed Tornado Cash and related smart contract wallet addresses on their Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list, in the way they would an enemy of the state. Any Americans who interact with those addresses now may face criminal penalties. Crypto backlash But while Tornado Cash is used by criminals, it is also used widely and legally by all types of users. “There are all kinds of reasons people want to build anonymity: I don’t want anyone looking at my credit card statements or Venmo,” Redbord says. This week, Tornado Cash supporters have argued that the service is simply a neutral tool that can be used for good and bad: that it’s akin to virtual private networks (VPNs) or The Onion Router (TOR). “This is a rough equivalent to sanctioning the email protocol in the early days of the internet, with the justification that email is often used to facilitate phishing attacks,” Lia Holland, the campaigns and communications director at the digital rights nonprofit Fight for the Future, wrote in a statement. There are many reasons why someone would want to use Tornado Cash: An employee who gets paid by their company in crypto, for example, may not want their employer to know all of their financial details. An NFT enthusiast who has recently made a lot of money thanks to a savvy investment may not want to become the target of potential harassment or robbery. Tornado Cash may also be useful for those who live under oppressive governments. Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, came out in defense of the service this week, writing on Twitter that he himself used Tornado Cash in order to donate to Ukrainian causes without putting the recipient organizations under extra scrutiny. And following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, donors to abortion funds may want to use Tornado Cash to keep their identities hidden. The brewing battles The Treasury’s decision to ban Tornado Cash could prove to be a significant turning point for crypto in several ways. First, it shows how far the U.S. government is willing to go in its attempts to corral crypto as it creeps toward mainstream adoption. Tornado Cash defenders have pointed out that the decision is unprecedented in that sanctions have been placed upon a piece of code as opposed to an entity. (Tornado Cash is not an incorporated organization, but a mechanism controlled by software logic.) This step could mean that other types of decentralized bodies, including other smart contracts or DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations), might soon be in the crosshairs. Redbord, at TRM Labs, says that the treasury’s decision reveals the U.S. government’s desire to push crypto toward more centralized systems and platforms that are easier to regulate. The trading platform Coinbase, for example, has requirements that tie every crypto wallet to a verifiable human identity. “This action sends a message to crypto exchanges that they need to ensure that they have compliance controls in place to stop cyber criminals from using their platforms,” Redbord says. And some major crypto players have fallen in line. Circle, the issuer of the USD Coin (USDC), the second biggest stablecoin, froze over $75,000 worth of funds linked to Tornado Cash addresses. And Github, a software development platform owned by Microsoft, deleted the accounts of Tornado Cash developers. But crypto enthusiasts resist centralized attempts to control policies or transactions. Bitcoin, after all, was created in the wake of the 2008 financial crash, with early adopters seeking a global and unregulated form of currency resistant to the pressures of Wall Street. Many have flocked to crypto because it allows anonymous financial transactions, hidden from surveillance by authorities. In the last few days, Tornado Cash defenders have launched their own offensive against the decision, in several ways. First, they have drawn attention to a perceived logical flaw in the decision: that anyone who interacts at all with a Tornado Cash contract is doing so illegally. Individual users cannot reject incoming transactions—small amounts of cryptocurrency have been sent to prominent public wallet addresses—including those associated with Jimmy Fallon and Shaquille O’Neal—in a stunt that essentially dares the Treasury to take action upon an entire community. (Redbord, for what it’s worth, says he doubts that individuals were the target of the decision in the first place, or that OFAC will pay much attention to the campaign.) A much bigger battle may be in store: some prominent crypto lawyers have begun floating the idea of challenging the decision on constitutional grounds. “Banning software publication is banning speech,” Peter Van Valkenburgh, the director of research at Coin Center, said onstage at a crypto conference in Las Vegas on Monday. “Even laws that unreasonably chill speech are constitutionally suspect, and can be challenged even before enforcement.” As crypto enthusiasts look for a way forward, they must contend with several tough choices: how much to compromise their values in their quest to reach the mainstream; how to tamp down on illegal activities in systems that were built to be oversight-resistant; and whether to cooperate with governments or oppose them, thereby invoking even more ire and scrutiny. For now, it seems that many in the crypto space are responding forcefully to the Treasury’s decision by taking an ideological stand. “While most people won’t ever use a service like Tornado Cash, the government’s approach represents a dangerous precedent for limiting the right of Americans to use privacy tools for legitimate and lawful reasons,” Miller Whitehouse-Levine, policy director of The DeFi Education Fund, wrote in an email to TIME. “Privacy is not—and cannot become—a crime.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeAug 10th, 2022

Transcript: Anat Admati

       Transcript: Anat Admati The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Anat Admati on Regulations and Techlash, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~… Read More The post Transcript: Anat Admati appeared first on The Big Picture.        Transcript: Anat Admati The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Anat Admati on Regulations and Techlash, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~  VOICE-OVER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast, I have yet another extra special guest, Professor Anat Admati, teaches at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She is an expert in so many fascinating areas that you wouldn’t think are related but they really are. Why has technology developed the way it has and, more or less, exempt from a lot of government regulations or protected by government regulations? It turns out their business model is a little similar to the way the banking industry has managed to capture a lot of regulators and continue to operate fairly freely without this sort of regulation and capital requirements and equity requirements that would make banking safer. Really a fascinating conversation about everything from misinformation to technology, to banking and financial fragility, I found the discussion to be quite fascinating and I think you will also. With no further ado, my interview with Professor Anat Admati of the Stanford Graduate School of Business. So, let’s talk a little bit about your background. You have a lot of degrees. You have a bachelors from Hebrew University then a Masters in Arts, a Masters in Philosophy and a PhD from Yale University. Tell us a little bit about your academic journey. ANAT ADMATI, PROFESSOR OF FIANCE AND ECONOMICS, STANFORD GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: So, my journey starts where I took a lot of math. I was good in math and I love the math. It was very pretty. It was all — but I decided I probably won’t be good enough to be a mathematician. So, I was kind of, in my romantic mind when I was in my early 20s, I was going to take but not give back to math, that kind of thing. RITHOLTZ: Right. ADMATI: And so, I had to find something and at first, it was going to be sort of applied math like Operations Research, which was the worst kind of math, like optimization. RITHOLTZ: Yes. ADMATI: It’s kind of boring and — but I got an opportunity to go to Yale and these degrees were just kind of simultaneously gotten. I mean, I was at Yale in three and a half years with all those degrees. RITHOLTZ: OK. ADMATI: And I just — an opportunity landed on my lap to go to this program in Operations Research at Yale and I was promised that Yale is very interdisciplinary and once you passed your qualifying exams, you can do whatever you want. RITHOLTZ: But? ADMATI: And I had never taken an economics course before that. But when I got to Yale, my advisor said, why don’t u take microeconomics and take mathematical economics and take some economics. And by the end of the first year, I kind of knew a new language like I — and it was all much more interesting because there was interactions with people and equilibrium and all of that. And by second year, I took the course that was absolutely a must-take in the crowd that I was hanging with, which was Steve Ross’ Financial Economics. Yale didn’t even have a programming in finance. The School of Management was just created. This was back in the late ’70s, early ’80s and he was just teaching people all they needed to know about finance, which was just coming up. RITHOLTZ: They had become professionalized when before it was just a bunch of … ADMATI: Exactly. RITHOLTZ: … disparate theories. So, you find your calling in economics. But you really take some of your background and dig pretty deep into financial regulations in technology. Where did the tech background come from? ADMATI: And then — I’ll tell you. So, that all — I was totally in the sort of finance bubble, first kind of market microstructure, trading mechanism. This is the quaint 1987, a little Black Monday, small Black Monday. RITHOLTZ: Just that little one day glitch. Sure. ADMATI: The little — 19 percent decline in one day. RITHOLTZ: Twenty-two, twenty-two point something. Yes. ADMATI: Yes. So, it was program training and insurance … RITHOLTZ: Yes. ADMATI: Portfolio insurance and all these application strategies and all this stuff. And so, that was kind of the little crisis of the day, right, in the little detail and this before high frequency trading and all the rest of it. RITHOLTZ: Right. ADMATI: But then I worked on trading mechanisms and information getting to prices and informed and uninformed trading and markets for information and newsletters and managed money portfolio theory. And then I got more interested in kind of governance but governance in the narrow sense, corporate governance and contract, which was all about the problems between shareholders and managers. So, that was that and then comes the financial crisis. So, until the financial crisis of 2007 and 2009 or however you go — you actually time it, I was in this finance bubble. I was teaching corporate finance. I did research, theoretical research. I built on mathematical models and analyzed them. And I lived in that little bubble thinking all is well until this crisis, I was like, what just happened? And so, I never was interested in banking particularly we have a lot of silos even within economics … RITHOLTZ: Sure. ADMATI: … let alone in all the social sciences and law and all of that. So, we’re itching our little silo with our little journals, all this stuff. So, I just go curious, wait a minute, I teach corporate finance, the bank is also a corporation, now why does it have like almost no equity funding, what’s going to there? I teach people capital structure theory and what — how are bank so different, why are they so different? They hate equity with this fashion. And so, the more I dug, the weirder it got. It really like I fell in a rabbit hole. It totally was rabbit hole, like curious or uncurious or that kind of thing. RITHOLTZ: Well, tell me if I’m oversimplifying banking because what we’ve seen over the past half century before the financial crisis was simply banks figured out that the less capital they keep on the books, the better their profit margins appear even though they’re essentially just assuming more risk and the better their profit margins are, the richer everybody got. And so, we’ve seen a half century of first deregulation then fairly radical deregulation, all of which works to the banks’ advantages until suddenly it no longer did. ADMATI: So, in the book, we go through a lot of the history of banking, including the basic banking model, which is sort of it’s a wonderful life kind of 363 boring banking model and that too had a crisis in savings and loan and in many other banking crisis. RITHOLTZ: Right. ADMATI: So, it’s not like — banking is inherently risky because inherently, the banks taking risk with depositors’ money and the depositors are unable to really behave like normal creditor. And that’s really sort of the beginning of the sort of original sin in banking that they’re always overleveraged. Always. They’re never efficient in providing any of the services on both sides of the balance sheet because they always have the temptation and the ability to take just a little bit more risk on both sides of the balance sheet. RITHOLTZ: That’s the nature of fractional reserve lending, you get … ADMATI: Well, but it’s their incentives. So, the key to understand it it’s not like essential or efficient. It’s just that that’s how they want it. So, the thing is that banking is sort of inherently fragile because banking is inherently inefficient that way or forever poorly regulated or poorly controlled by their investors, including the depositors. So, to that, you add expansion in the business model that allows taking more risk, hiding more risk with derivatives, with universal banking, all of that, and the increase in safety net, implicit and explicit, with deposit insurance, with all of that. They became able and obviously interested in living more and more and more in debt. Now, even my research, even after the first — after the book, we were already beginning to do this research, I understood a lot better. Stuff that we teach in basic courses is very static theory of how companies fund and it’s like one round of funding, debt and equity, and then the world is over. But for well-living breathing companies, any company, their funding decision as well as investment decisions are always made by shareholders or managers on behalf of shareholders maybe in light of previous commitment. So, in the dynamics of it, once you took debt, your preference has changed completely. You’re no longer maximizing total value of the firm. You’re maximizing the value of equity in the firm. And from that perspective, equity seems expensive to all heavily indebted corporations, banks in particular, because for other corporations, if they take on more and more debt, the creditors will start pushing back. The creditors will start putting covenants. The creditors will jack up their rates because the creditors will worry about all the distorted incentives of the borrower or lender. That happen. Gambled the money in Las Vegas or under investing things because there’s not enough upside. All of those things that characterize sort of the fortunes that characterize heavy indebtedness. RITHOLTZ: So, that makes the finance sector very different than the rest of the stock market? ADMATI: Well, the banking especially because the creditors in banking are particularly passive. And so, therefore, the usual market forces that push against high leverage in other companies that just naturally with no regulation would limit. There’s no corporation that lives its healthy — unless they’re on their way to bankruptcy that lives with single digit equity numbers. Of course, it depends how you measure it and there’s book market, all kinds of other things that we can discuss. But the banks basically got used to — and got stuck and it’s very addictive to be there especially at this extremely low equity level. From that vantage with the overhang of debt being so, so heavy that you’re effectively insolvent all the time but you just not recognize as such. Then you hate equity … RITHOLTZ: Hold on a second. ADMATI: … you want to take money out. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s stay with that point… ADMATI: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … because that’s pretty fascinating. It was pretty clear to observers that the reason Lehman brothers didn’t get bailed out is they were not just a little insolvent but deeply insolvent. The rest of the banks that were out there that survived seem to recapitalize. They sold equity. They brought more money in. Goldman Sachs took a big chunk of money from Warren Buffett. JPMorgan Chase bought Washington Mutual. They did more capital reserves and they ended up buying Bear Stearns as well. ADMATI: When you say capital reserve, again, I mean, people get very confused about what that is. You mean … RITHOLTZ: They put more cash … ADMATI: No. No. No cash. Not cash. Capital is not … RITHOLTZ: Just straight-up equity. ADMATI: Capital is not cash. It’s on the other side of the balance sheet. Capital is about how you fund. It’s not cash reserve. OK. So, it’s — this is really important, there’s a pile of cash. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s put shelves (ph) into that. ADMATI: It’s — let’s dive into that because it’s very, very confusing. To this day, you can find people saying set aside cash. That’s not what capital is about. Capital is about — obviously, there is the measurement to get at a given point of time but when you take a snap shot and you say — talk about capital ratios or risk-weighted capital ratios or all of that, they’re entirely on the funding side. So, you got your assets whatever they are. They have some risk and whatever — however you put numbers on that sort of accounting or — and what’s allowed and not allowed and all of that is like a big can of worms actually. But –and netting of derivatives and all of that. But then the question is how do you fund those assets. And so, the question is how much gets funded by making promises to investors by debt. Any kind, collateral, non-collateral. Now, deposit is very unique because deposits are unsecured debt to the bank. But … RITHOLTZ: To the depositors. ADMATI: To the depositors. They don’t have collateral. RITHOLTZ: Right. ADMATI: OK. So, it’s the FDIC that’s holding the bag there. Now does the FDIC even know how much risk they’re bearing 0 when all the assets are so encumbered that they’re all pledged as collateral? RITHOLTZ: Do they? Because one would assume … ADMATI: No, they don’t. RITHOLTZ: … they — now, I have a very vivid recollection during the financial crisis of the FDIC talking about their reserves dropping from 90 to 60, I think it dropped as low as $40 billion ADMATI: Yes. RITHOLTZ: And hey, if we get a bunch more disasters, we’re not going to be able to cover the depositors. ADMATI: Exactly. Because they stopped charging. Also because there were no defaults before the crisis. They stopped charging deposit insurance and all of a sudden, there was a lot of bank failures, not the big ones except for Lehman but Lehman wasn’t an FDIC insured bank. RITHOLTZ: Right. Right. ADMATI: And so — but when the other banks, small banks, started failing, what do they — what can the FDIC do in general? Well, they can go back to the large banks and just assess them more because they have no way and I can assert this you, no good way to risk adjust their deposit insurance fees. They’re supposed to be self-financing the FDIC through fees but they really are taking a huge leap for insuring what by now must be like, I don’t know, $13 trillion and more will come if there were tremors because money moves back in deposit from money market funds and all of that. RITHOLTZ: From uninsured money market to ensured bank deposits. ADMATI: Exactly. And so, the FDIC, which is assist for corporation, is totally backed by the government. However, in practice, they can — they have a line to treasury for, I think, 500 billion or something. But if — should something actually happen? So, we’re all on trust with the system. They tell us don’t run, don’t rush, your money is safe. And I trust that, RITHOLTZ: No bank runs. ADMATI: No bank runs. RITHOLTZ: So, when you … ADMATI: So, we saw the problem … RITHOLTZ: When you say that they stopped charging fees, I’ve been under the impression that the banks that have that nice little logo, the emblem, FDIC insured, aren’t those banks paying some small percentage of … ADMATI: Usually, they do and basically, I once asked a 40-year veteran of banking in all the biggest banks through the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s who was basically came out of retirement to being a private equity firm that was buying distressed banks from the FDIC and he said to me, you’re looking at the big banks, let me tell you what goes on in the small banks. And then I asked him the following simple question because there are thousands of small banks in his country. RITHOLTZ: Right ADMATI: I said, what’s the business model of a small bank? And the answer … RITHOLTZ: They get purchased. ADMATI: The answer was three words, the business model, in other words, the positive net present value of the bank, he said, subsidized deposit insurance. RITHOLTZ: Subsidized deposit insurance. ADMATI: That’s it. In other words, their entire finding — so what they do on the asset side, anybody can do, zero NPV, commercial real estate, whatever. RITHOLTZ: Right. ADMATI: And how they fund is where they’re privileged. Now, what happens, my model of banking safety — basic safety net is that big banks may well be overpaying for the deposit insurance part to the FDIC and the FDIC — and they pass on some subsidies down to the small bank. So, they keep happy enough. And because the big banks have implicit guarantees that are priceless because they have access to the Fed and that is worth a ton. In the financial crisis, let’s remember, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley became bank holding companies RITHOLTZ: Right. Previously, they were brokerage firms. ADMATI: They were investment banks. RITHOLTZ: Right. ADMATI: Regulated by the SEC which also Lehman was and at that time, the commercial banks, so Citibank within Citigroup, were regulated among others by the FDIC and the FDIC had Sheila Bair and Sheila Bair refused to implement this Basel II that had fancy-schmancy risk weights. Manipulable ways, model-based ways to allow the banks to tell us how risky they are and therefore, determined their equity requirements. RITHOLTZ: In other words, mislead regulators … ADMATI: And there’s research that showed that banks in Germany that were allowed to use this advanced approach to this fancy scientific approach to regulation were misrepresenting their own risk and making more loans with less risk weights. In other words, inappropriately low risk weights. RITHOLTZ: Just for that one small leverage. ADMATI: And the — yes. And, of course, the epitome of the failure of this regulation is assets that had zero risk weight but were risky like AAA rated security like Greek government, lending to Greek government in Europe. I mean, the banks in Europe basically fed this subprime lending to the Greek government. RITHOLTZ: Havong stories and he is in RITHOLTZ: Why should Greece pay more in interest rates than another country like Germany? That doesn’t make any … ADMATI: Well, they paid a tiny sliver but the French banks just went and lent them a ton and when they couldn’t pay, the European Union and all these other countries and the regulators that — who allowed these banks to make this reckless loan who had just bailed out these banks from investing in our real estate bubble … RITHOLTZ: Right. ADMATI: … couldn’t admit to their citizens that they would bail out their banks again if Greece default. So, that — they blamed all the things on the lazy Greeks and they kept bailing out Greece so Greece could pay the banks until the banks got out. So, that was the zero risk weight for sovereign lending in Europe and it’s just one example of how awful, awful the regulation was pre-crisis. And then you tell me that they recapitalized and did all of that. I’m not so impressed. Yes. First of all, Bank of America and Citi were zombies coming out of the crisis. RITHOLTZ: Right. ADMATI: Despite multiple bailout of Citi. RITHOLTZ: Citi for sure. Bank of America, not much better. ADMATI: Both of it. (inaudible) and zombie banks, I mean, I believe that. They were the examples where if you wanted to have this systemic resolution through the FDIC, we could have tried it in a — not in a crisis. RITHOLTZ: Meaning put them into a pre-packaged bankruptcy. ADMATI: Yes. Show me that it works. Show me that it works. Outside the crisis where everybody’s failing. I was in this FDIC Systemic Resolution Advisory Committee, was part of Dodd-Frank, was saying, if Lehman Brothers was sent to the FDIC for resolution because FDIC knows so well how to do the small bank resolution just come over the weekend, take over small bank and the people don’t even know. RITHOLTZ: Because they’re the same. Because Lehman Brothers are — so, Lehman Brothers had repo 105 where they were moving all of this risk in order … ADMATI: Thousands of subsidiaries. RITHOLTZ: Right. Just hundreds of billions of dollars and misrepresenting their books … ADMATI: Do you know … RITHOLTZ: … to their – to the regulators and to the investments. ADMATI: Do you know that the Lehman bankruptcy is not even over yet? Every year, I go back and check. RITHOLTZ: Yes. Still going on. Right.0 ADMATI: Still going on. RITHOLTZ: Still on though. ADMATI: So, this is how unresolvable this. Now, in the first … RITHOLTZ: To be fair, it was only 15 years ago. ADMATI: And it was a small — it was a small one by — I mean, this was the biggest bankruptcy at that time but there were … RITHOLTZ: Right. ADMATI: There were fraction of JPMorgan Chase or Citi or all of these that they tell you now can fail without and they have them do living with this all kind of stupid things. RITHOLTZ: I don’t think JPMorgan Chase had failed. ADMATI: No way. No. Because we don’t even … RITHOLTZ: If they did, it would just be incredibly disruptive. ADMATI: Exactly. So, I’m not even blaming for bailing out. I am blaming for not doing basic prevention RITHOLTZ: So, that raises really interesting point. You mentioned the French banks and the lazy Greeks When you offer people free money or dramatically discounted money, we shouldn’t blame the Greeks who took, hey, this is a great deal, we’re going to take this. You have to look at the banks that lent it to them and said, why these banks being so irresponsible and reckless to make such cheap loans to … ADMATI: Under the eyes of their regulators. RITHOLTZ: Yes. ADMATI: Under the eyes of their regulators. So, the regulators are not being called to why they allowed these loans to be made by too-big-to-fail French and German banks. RITHOLTZ: Right. ADMATI: French banks had in 2010 40 percent of Greek bond, government bonds. RITHOLTZ: That’s amazing. ADMATI: Yes. And Greece only did a little bit of restructuring after the banks pretty much got out, left the troika creditors to be a bailout fund of European nations. ECB and IMF, those where the troika. Now, why did IMF invest all? Because IMF was led by some French. No. Because IMF should not have intervened in a European … RITHOLTZ: It’s not their chore. ADMATI: Into European thing. Europe had enough to be able to resolve this. They just didn’t want to. So, IMF, being led by French people, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and then later by Lagarde who had to deal with it later in 2015 when they were kind of adopting their room if you want to call it. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s throw a parallel. The French banks and the Greek borrowers, there were a lot of people criticizing in the 2000s the U.S. homeowners who were taking HELOCs and refinancing and taking loans and I look at it as it’s not the responsibility of the consumer when an institution like a large bank says we’re going to loan you money and we’re not going to charge you interest for three years and then we’ll reset but don’t worry about it. The individual consumer doesn’t understand that. Wait, free cash, where do I sign? It’s the banks and the regulation, the regulatory … ADMATI: It’s the lady in the hot tub in “The Big Short” saying she’s got five houses. RITHOLTZ: Right. That’s right. ADMATI: Exactly. So, the question is how … RITHOLTZ: There is parallel decrease. ADMATI: No. Exactly. So, that’s why I used subprime to kind of raise a parallel. Yes. So, reckless loans were made to people who couldn’t pay, liar’s loans who are clearly couldn’t pay because of the commissions of the mortgages … RITHOLTZ: The whole structure was stuck. ADMATI: The whole structure. And you still had the Fed assuring us everything was fine there and you had a system incredibly levered and interconnected, create through all these contagion mechanisms that we explained in the book. A perfect storm from a small decline in housing prices. I mean, this should — the correction, the price collection itself was much smaller than … RITHOLTZ: Thirty percent of elevated … ADMATI: Than like Internet bubble burst. RITHOLTZ: Right. ADMATI: Which wiped out a lot of paper wealth. RITHOLTZ: And to put some numbers on that, the Internet peak to trough was about 81 percent decline in the NASDAQ comp whereas I think houses fell about 32 percent. Some sector — some areas that … ADMATI: And then there was some default. OK. But it means the amounts were trivial really. And how do they create a global financial crisis from a little housing bubble burst in the U.S.? RITHOLTZ: Securitization and it spread through everywhere. ADMATI: And super-duper triple securitization that are side bets basically on the mortgages and only the big short, they made money. RITHOLTZ: I mean, quite amazing. One of your research pieces really caught my eye. I love this title, “Is The Internet Broken?” Tell us about it. ADMATI: That was actually the title of a course that I taught with one of the producers of HBO “Silicon Valley” where … RITHOLTZ: Which we’ll talk more about later. ADMATI: Which — yes, which I got to be involved in in the last season only and therefore, it was — it was one of the ones I streamed kind of had to been stream sort of to see also the season I ended up at also being a cameo in the last, last show with Middleditch, the whole thing and being there in the Stanford graduation and decorating his office and all that stuff. Anyway, banking is super regulated but poorly regulated but it’s like born — kind of born tied at the hip with the state, with the government because of central banks, because of — so they’re just — because they’re about money, they’re kind of intertwined with government in ways that not everybody understands because they’re still private corporations but they are super-duper connected. RITHOLTZ: And just to put a little context about that, in the first, I don’t know, century of American history, they were completely independent and they failed with shocking irregularities (ph). ADMATI: Because they were all — because we had regulations that also prevented them from diversifying. So, they were very subject to local calamities and they just kept failing and their privately issued money was good as long as it was good and it wasn’t. So, then we decided to have a currency and the whole history of banking et cetera until we got to have national banks and these mammoth banks that consolidated and consolidated and still thousands of other banks. So, just a bloated huge system anyway. So, I was basically — I’ve seen banking since I started looking at it in 2009, 2010 and then becoming involved in that, consumed with that lobbying for policy, how I get to … RITHOLTZ: So, how did you go from banking to technology and the Internet? ADMATI: So, here’s what happened. So, then it’s over 2015, I’m kind of have already spent like literally five years of my life, fulltime, on banking where I just came to look and here I was just — and it’s just kind of — it’s a little bit sickening to kind of being in that environment. I’m like, wait a minute, I’m in Silicon Valley and now, at that point, there was already the first round of what’s called techlash.....»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureAug 8th, 2022

The "Unthinkable" In US-China Crisis

The "Unthinkable" In US-China Crisis Authored by Maria Ryan via Consortium News, One aspect of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan that has been largely overlooked is her meeting with Mark Lui, chairman of the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (TSMC). Pelosi’s trip coincided with U.S. efforts to convince TSMC – the world’s largest chip manufacturer, on which the U.S. is heavily dependent – to establish a manufacturing base in the US and to stop making advanced chips for Chinese companies. U.S. support for Taiwan has historically been based on Washington’s opposition to communist rule in Beijing, and Taiwan’s resistance to absorption by China. But in recent years, Taiwan’s autonomy has become a vital geopolitical interest for the U.S, because of the island’s dominance of the semiconductor manufacturing market. An employee at Intel Corporation’s wafer fabrication facility in Chandler, Arizona. Image: Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Semiconductors – also known as computer chips or just chips – are integral to all the networked devices that have become embedded into our lives. They also have advanced military applications. Transformational, super-fast 5G internet is enabling a world of connected devices of every kind (the “Internet of Things”) and a new generation of networked weapons. With this in mind, U.S .officials began to realise during the Trump administration that U.S. semiconductor design companies, such as Intel, were heavily dependent on Asian-based supply chains to manufacture their products. In particular, Taiwan’s position in the world of semiconductor manufacturing is a bit like Saudi Arabia’s status in OPEC. TSMC has a 53 percent market share of the global foundry market (factories contracted to make chips designed in other countries). Other Taiwan-based manufacturers claim a further 10 percent of the market. As a result, the Biden administration’s 100-Day Supply Chain Review Report says, “The United States is heavily dependent on a single company – TSMC – for producing its leading-edge chips.” The fact that only TSMC and Samsung (South Korea) can make the most advanced semiconductors (five nanometres in size) “puts at risk the ability to supply current and future [US] national security and critical infrastructure needs.” This means that China’s long-term goal of reunifying with Taiwan is now more threatening to U.S. interests. In the 1971 Shanghai Communique and the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, the U.S. recognised that people in both mainland China and Taiwan believed that there was “One China” and that they both belonged to it. But for the U.S. it is unthinkable that TSMC could one day be in territory controlled by Beijing. 'Tech War' For this reason, the U.S. has been trying to attract TSMC to the U.S. to increase domestic chip production capacity. In 2021, with the support of the Biden administration, the company bought a site in Arizona on which to build a U.S. foundry. This is scheduled to be completed in 2024. The U.S. Congress has just passed the Chips and Science Act, which provides $52 billion in subsidies to support semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S. But companies will only receive Chips Act funding if they agree not to manufacture advanced semiconductors for Chinese companies. Image: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited , TSMC, Hsinchu Science Park, Taiwan. Wiki Commons This means that TSMC and others may well have to choose between doing business in China and in the U.S. because the cost of manufacturing in the U.S. is deemed to be too high without government subsidies. This is all part of a broader “tech war” between the U.S. and China, in which the U.S. is aiming to constrain China’s technological development and prevent it from exercising a global tech leadership role. In 2020, the Trump administration imposed crushing sanctions on the Chinese tech giant Huawei that were designed to cut the company off from TSMC, on which it was reliant for the production of high-end semiconductors needed for its 5G infrastructure business. Huawei was the world’s leading supplier of 5G network equipment but the U.S. feared its Chinese origins posed a security risk (though this claim has been questioned). The sanctions are still in place because both Republicans and Democrats want to stop other countries from using Huawei’s 5G equipment. The British government had initially decided to use Huawei equipment in certain parts of the U.K.’s 5G network. The Trump administration’s sanctions forced London to reverse that decision. A key U.S. goal appears to be ending its dependency on supply chains in China or Taiwan for “emerging and foundational technologies,” which includes advanced semiconductors needed for 5G systems, but may include other advanced tech in future. Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan was about more than just Taiwan’s critical place in the “tech war.” But the dominance of its most important company has given the island a new and critical geopolitical importance that is likely to heighten existing tensions between the U.S. and China over the status of the island. It has also intensified U.S. efforts to “reshore” its semiconductor supply chain. Tyler Durden Sun, 08/07/2022 - 22:30.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytAug 8th, 2022

What Is ESG? It"s A Leveraging Tool For The Woke Communist Takeover

What Is ESG? It's A Leveraging Tool For The Woke Communist Takeover The corporate dynamic when it comes to politics has been rather bizarre the past five years.  The general rule for decades in the US was that companies would avoid public sparring over political agendas whenever possible and if they did contribute to election campaigns they would spend money discreetly on candidates in both parties to hedge their bets.  Something changed around 2015-2016, however.   Was it the surprise election of Donald Trump?  Trump was probably incidental.  It was more likely the dramatic shift among conservatives away from the controlled Neo-con paradigm and into a more liberty oriented standing.  Ron Paul's 2008 and 2012 campaigns had a lot to do with this change among Republican voters.  Conservatives and liberty minded independents were returning to their foundations of small government, constitutionalism, independent thought, meritocracy and decentralization.  This is when the corporate world decided (or was perhaps guided) to go full bore leftist. That is to say, the leftist cult couldn't stifle the rise of conservative liberty advocates without consolidating their control in the open, and corporations are a big part of that strategy.    Wall Street, Entertainment Media and Big Tech companies donated FAR more to Democrat candidates in recent years compared to Republican candidates.  In the 2020 presidential election, they spent 250% more on Joe Biden's campaign than Donald Trump's.  But beyond that, many companies have gone aggressively and openly woke.   Social Justice narratives of “equity, diversity and inclusion” are dominating corporate culture, and though leftist bias has always been a problem among Hollywood elitists and the entertainment media, things got a lot worse after 2016. Part of this aggressive leftism could be attributed to the ESG movement (Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance), a clear appendage or tool for globalist foundations like the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the World Economic Forum.  It is also referred to as “stakeholder capitalism” and “mission related investing.”  Stakeholder capitalism is just another term for socialism/communism, and ESG is a related control methodology for dictating how businesses behave politically.   The term “ESG” was originally coined by the United Nations Environment Program Initiative in 2005, but the methodology was not fully applied to the corporate world until the past six years when ESG investment skyrocketed.  There are some people that will argue that ESG is not a true “communist” mechanism because communism technically involves the state taking control of the means of production.  These people are either ignorant or they are acting deliberately obtuse.  Communism is about controlling culture just as much as it is about controlling the economy.     Corporations are at bottom creations of government; they are chartered by governments, receive special legal advantages including corporate personhood, and they often receive special protections from governments including central bank stimulus and a shield from civil litigation.  They call it “too big to fail” because the government and the corporate world work hand in hand to keep certain institutions alive.   One could call this an odd mix of communism and fascism; the point is, the lines have blurred beyond all recognition and the ideology of the people in power is specifically leftist/communist/globalist. Corporations already have government incentives to protect the corrupt status quo, but ESG is designed to lure them into supporting vocal political alignment even at the cost of normal profits. ESG is about money; loans given out by top banks and foundations to companies that meet the guidelines of “stakeholder capitalism.”  Companies must show that they are actively pursuing a business environment that prioritizes woke virtues and climate change restrictions.  These loans are not an all prevailing income source, but ESG loans are highly targeted, they are growing in size (for now) and they are very easy to get as long as a company is willing to preach the social justice gospel as loudly as possible. Deloitte's Insights studies show that ESG assets compounded at 16% p.a. between 2014 and 2018, now account for 25% of total market assets, and they believe that ESG could account for 50% of market share globally by 2024.  These loans become a form of leverage over the business world – Once they get a taste of that easy money they keep coming back.  Many of the loan targets attached to ESG are rarely enforced and penalties are few and far between.  Primarily, an ESG funded company must propagandize, that is all.  They must propagandize their employees and they must propagandize their customers.  As long as they do this, that sweet loan capital keeps flowing.   It's enough to keep corporations addicted, but not enough to keep them satiated.  Diversity hiring quotas based on skin color and sexual orientation rather than merit help make the overlords happy.  Pushing critical race theory smooths the way for more cash.  Carbon controls and climate change narratives really makes them happy.  And, promoting trans-trenders and gender fluidity makes them ecstatic.  Each participating company gets it's own ESG rating and the more woke they go, the higher their rating climbs and the more money they can get. The list of companies heavily involved in ESG includes some of the largest in the world, with influence over thousands of smaller businesses.  The ESG rating system is much like the social credit scoring system used in communist China to oppress the citizenry.  The tactic is pretty straightforward – Banking elites are centralizing control of social narratives by incentivising businesses to embrace social justice and globalist ideals.  They control who gets the money and anyone who doesn't play ball will be at a distinct disadvantage compared to companies that do.   They figure, if the corporate world can be pushed to go full woke, then this will trickle down to the general public and influence our behaviors and thinking.  Except, it hasn't exactly worked out that way.  Resistance to woke propaganda is growing exponentially and many of these companies are losing a huge portion of their customer base.  They cannot survive on ESG alone.                The thing is, even ESG money has limits. With central banks around the world now raising interest rates these kind of loans will become more expensive and will likely start to phase out.  This is why the most woke corporations out there are also some of the most desperate for revenues this year, and why many of these companies are edging closer and closer to mass layoffs.  The venture capital is gone and the ESG money is going to dry up also unless rates go back to zero and the bailout firehose is turned back on.  Getting woke was once a backdoor tactic of gaining easy wealth.  Now, getting woke really does mean going broke.    Tyler Durden Sat, 08/06/2022 - 21:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytAug 6th, 2022

Is There An Opportunity For Real Change In Britain?

Is There An Opportunity For Real Change In Britain? Authored by Emile Woolf and Patrick Barron via The Mises Institute, (Endorsed by Godfrey Bloom, Alasdair Macleod, Simon Hunt, and Claudio Grass) In a few days the British Conservative Party will select a new prime minister from within its ranks. The new PM will have a short-lived opportunity to select new ministers. But more importantly, due to the inevitable adverse consequences of a decade and a half of unprecedented money printing, little real action to complete the promise of Brexit, and war in Ukraine, the new PM can select ministers pledged to sound money, a rational and pro-growth tax policy, free markets, limited government, and a non-interventionist foreign policy. Sound Money In perhaps an apocryphal story, it is held that Ludwig von Mises was once asked what one reform he would select if allowed only one. He quickly answered...return to sound money. By sound money, Mises meant a money not controlled by government but rather by the market. Without a doubt the market would choose a commodity-based money, most likely gold. Sound money would force government to live within its means. Under a sound money regime, it becomes clear that every pound or shilling spent by government comes directly from the people. Government spending reduces private spending pound-for-pound. The so-called "spending multiplier" by which one pound of government spending increases total spending by multiples of that amount is a complete fallacy. New taxes will always be unpopular and rightly so. Increase in government borrowing can only happen by pre-empting private borrowing, via higher interest rates, which is recessionary by its very nature. It is natural and good that government must overcome the public's reluctance for new taxes and more government debt to increase spending. Government must justify their increased spending plans to the people. By the same token, government spending cuts will mean that the public will have more to spend themselves. A Rational Tax Policy Like the need for sound money, the need for a sound taxation policy is one of the most important, yet least understood, aspects of government. Even the current debate between the final two Prime Ministerial contenders, who of all people should be better briefed, reveals a profound confusion that exemplifies Frederic Bastiat’s distinction between what is seen and what is not seen. Every time one of them declares an intention to cut, say, corporation tax and more recently, even income tax, the predictable counterblast is: But that will cost the Exchequer ‘£x billion’ per annum and will mortgage our children’s future, creating ‘£y billion’ of additional borrowing that will take ‘z years’ to repay. The nation can’t live on credit-card economics! I will first address the problem of inflation, and only then cut taxes – that’s the responsible approach! These emotive responses perfectly illustrate Bastiat’s “what is seen” – but it completely misses the vast potential increase in tax revenues that might flow from a lower rate. What is not seen is the effect of international tax competitiveness on the number of businesses that will register their residence in the UK because it has a comparatively low rate of corporation tax – witness Ireland, which has a corporate tax rate of only 12.5%, compared with the USA rate of 21%. Consequently, what is not seen is the gain to the exchequer of welcoming thriving, profitable companies into the UK, rather than the converse - losing UK businesses to jurisdictions with lower tax rates. Also “not seen” is the economic benefit that will flow from the presence in this country of thousands of employees and their families. Because it is not seen, it is also unquantifiable – but what is certain is that we shall see supply-side net economic growth. The “tone” will have been established – and the direction of travel is bound to be positive. It will result in a bigger pie – not a bigger slice of a diminishing pie. What is seen is always limited – such as revenue from new tariffs on imports – while ignoring the harmful market distortions and negative price impacts that impinge directly and indirectly on the cost of living. There are important lessons here. Free Markets The examples of the failure of government run programs is there for anyone who is not an ideologue to see. Just this past week, the Financial Times reported that the government may halt all increases in new housing in the London area due to the lack of adequate capacity in the power grid. In other words, Britain's publicly owned and operated power system is not producing enough electricity. A top to bottom privatization of not only power generation but fuel sources is required. Scrap regulations on all sources of energy including nuclear and fossil fuels. Nuclear power is one of the safest and lowest cost sources of power available. Its higher costs are completely the result of unnecessary regulation that, frankly, seems intended to end nuclear power completely. Britain has been a leader in nuclear power technology for over half a century. All its important warships and submarines run on nuclear power, and hardly anyone thinks a thing about it. Britain has been a fossil fuel giant since the eighteenth century. Coal made the industrial revolution possible. North Sea oil has never met its full potential. There is no reason that Britain needs import fuel, unless it can be purchased more cheaply elsewhere, such as the Middle East or even, dare we say the word, Russia. Limited Government Limited government means two things--limited government involvement in the economy and limited spending. The two go hand-in-hand. An additional benefit is that limited spending can be funded out of lower taxes. The British legal system, based upon the common law, is all that is required for the smooth regulation of economic matters. For example, fraud and contract law are well defined in the British legal system for the smooth regulation of commercial life. Tort law regulates harms inflicted, making product liability laws, for example, unnecessary. Just as a better mousetrap drives fewer effective ones from the market, better and cheaper products drive less effective and more expensive ones from the market, making product regulation completely unnecessary. A better template than the unitary state is the Swiss principle of subsidiarity. Switzerland is a multi-ethnic land, making a one-size-fits-all government impractical. Therefore, government is pushed down to the lowest governmental level possible wherever practical, and it turns out that much of day-to-day practical government can be handled at local levels where the people really do have a voice. Britain should try this approach The National Health Service is a disgrace on almost any objective basis of functional and cost-effective analysis, and it's getting worse rather than better. End taxpayer support and put a fee-for-service price on its operation, forcing it to compete with private healthcare providers. There is no room for EU regulations, quotas, etc. in a sovereign country ruled by common law with limited government. Only Brexit supporters should be considered for ministerial jobs. A Non-interventionist Foreign Policy The war in Ukraine has illustrated how nations can be dragged into war when their own national interest has not been threatened. NATO expanded eastward after the fall of the Berlin wall three decades ago, until it ran into real opposition in the form of Russia. There was no need for this expansion and there is no need for Britain to be involved in Ukraine in any way. The war there has taken on a life of its own and only a strong leader with a dedicated cabinet of peace minded ministers will be able to dislodge Britain from this conflict and prevent Britain from being dragged into similar conflicts, such as the new dispute between Serbia and Kosovo. Instead of taking sides in purely local conflicts, Britain should do all it can to create a new Concert of Europe. This will require real statesmanship. Britain can and should lead the way. A truly sovereign Britain can defend itself when its real interests are threatened. Armed neutrality requires a strong national defense and a non-interventionist foreign policy. The emphasis is on "defense" and "non-intervention.” A good maxim to follow is "Mind your own business and set a good example." Tyler Durden Sat, 08/06/2022 - 07:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeAug 6th, 2022

The Rise Of "Constitutional Carry" Is A Sign Of Failing Trust In Government

The Rise Of "Constitutional Carry" Is A Sign Of Failing Trust In Government Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute, Come next January, Alabama will be the 25th state to allow the carrying of concealed weapons without a permit. Alabama will soon join Indiana which in March of this year passed a new statute allowing permitless concealed carry in that state—sometimes called "constitutional carry." In 2021 alone, at least six states passed their own provisions legalizing permitless concealed carry: Arkansas, Iowa, Montana, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah. Essentially, any law-abiding citizen over a certain age (usually 18 or 21 years of age) can now carry a concealed firearm in these states. 20 years ago, only Vermont allowed unrestricted concealed carry. Beginning ten years ago, however, more than twenty states adopted new laws deregulating the carrying of firearms.  Why is this happening now? On its most simple level, these laws are passed because lawmakers and constituents at the state level have advocated for their passage. Moreover, whatever opposition has existed among interest groups and the public has been insufficient to block their passage.  On a deeper ideological level, increased access to concealed carry is likely the result of a growing feeling among much of the public that they need increased access to firearms for self-protection. In other words, the spread of constitutional carry points to a growing sentiment that state and local authorities are insufficient to provide a reasonable expectation of safety from violent crime, and that private self-defense is therefore more necessary now than in the past.  Moreover, many of these laws expanding access to concealed carry have been passed over the objections of local law enforcement. Police organizations have been among the most vocal of opponents to new constitutional carry measures, yet Republican lawmakers—a group often happy to fall all over themselves announcing how much they "back the blue"—have passed these laws anyway. It is one thing to support law enforcement officers on a vague philosophical level, of course, but the continued spread of constitutional carry suggests there are limits to this support among even conservatives. Rather, the passage of these laws suggests a growing lack of faith that even well-meaning law enforcement can or will provide meaningful defense from violent criminals when the time arises.  Declining Faith in Institutions The survey data continues to point to declining public faith in public institutions, and this includes law enforcement and the legal system. As faith in these institutions falls, the perceived need to provide one's own self-defense naturally increases. As one sociologist puts it, "legal cynicism" leads to greater demand for "protective gun ownership" and "lower levels of police legitimacy are significantly related to a higher probability of acquiring a firearm for protection." In the worst cases, this can even lead to extralegal "self-help" with a firearm, and this phenomenon has been explored by historian Randolph Roth who notes that declining perceptions of state legitimacy can lead to high rates of violent crime. That is, when the public believes that official coercion will be insufficient to restrain crime, private citizens may feel the need to take matters into their own hands.  Moreover, crime data in some cases suggests a correlation between gun ownership and high crime levels. Advocates of gun control naturally interpret this correlation as evidence that the presence of guns is the cause of more crime. Yet the causality more likely runs in the other direction: more crime leads to more people arming themselves. Statistical studies are insufficient to prove causality in any case, as a Rand study on gun violence notes:  Whether [the correlation between guns and crime] attributable to gun prevalence causing more violent crime is unclear. If people are more likely to acquire guns when crime rates are rising or high, then the same pattern of evidence would be expected. ... existing research studies and data include a wealth of descriptive information on homicide, suicide, and firearms, but, because of the limitations of existing data and methods, do not credibly demonstrate a causal relationship between the ownership of firearms and the causes or prevention of criminal violence or suicide. And, as one New Jersey study concluded after surveying young residents of high-crime areas, most participants said they carried guns to increase their feelings of safety. “They held a widespread belief that they could be victimized at any time, and guns served to protect them from real or perceived threats from other gun carriers.” The perceived need for personal protection is likely more urgent and immediate in high crime areas, but the sentiment certainly is not unique to these areas. Suburban and rural advocates for broadening concealed carry frequently invoke the need for personal protection from violent crime as justification for new laws expanding the right to carry in nearly every situation.  Laws Passed Over Police Opposition  Although many individual police officers support nearly untrammeled gun ownership by law abiding citizens, many others do not. In the case of Alabama's legislative battle over permitless carry, for instance, "the bills have been roundly criticized by police and gun control advocates, who argue that removing permits poses a safety risk to citizens and officers." The head of Alabama's Sheriff's Association wants to change the Second Amendment to ban concealed carry altogether. And elsewhere "Some of the loudest opponents of permitless carry laws are the police. They spoke out in Indiana, Texas, and Kentucky but that didn't stop lawmakers from passing "constitutional carry" laws." In Georgia, many law enforcement officers voiced their opposition to conceal carry, much to the delight of the state's Democratic party. In Ohio, constitutional carry has been opposed by the Fraternal Order of Police—the public labor union that provides free lawyers to abusive and incompetent police officers. Even in Republican-controlled legislatures—where professed support for police runs high—police efforts to quash expanded conceal carry have failed repeatedly.  The continued spread of constitutional carry is, of course, related to the surge we've seen toward more private gun ownership overall. For example, Americans in 2020 and 2021 went on what CNN calls a "gun buying spree" and this included a 58% surge in gun purchases in 2021 among Black men and women. Violent and destructive "mostly peaceful" protests exposed the limited ability of law enforcement to do much other than protect government property during periods of unrest. In the wake of lockdowns, which shut down vital social institutions such as churches and schools, crime surged in the US, and not just in the "usual" places like urban cores. Police legitimacy also suffered a serious blow with the abject failure of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies at the Uvalde school shooting in May of this year. The officers who chose to do nothing while children were massacred will likely face no serious legal repercussions, and this will further highlight that police officers are under no legal obligation to actually protect the public from violent crime.  It's no wonder that permitless concealed carry continues to make gains in American states. In the past, many Americans may have simply trusted to the regime to provide "law and order." But that sentiment is apparently becoming more and more rare.  * * *  Statista's Katharina Buchholz maps out the states that allow permitless carry of guns.   And in states like Maryland, where the recent Supreme Court decision changed the stance on licensing concealed firearms from "may issue" to a "shall issue," demand for concealed carry classes has erupted as citizens feel the need that nobody but themselves will save them in times of emergencies as the country becomes more dangerous.   Tyler Durden Fri, 08/05/2022 - 21:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeAug 5th, 2022

Supply Chain Problems Will Persist Because The System Is Being Sabotaged

Supply Chain Problems Will Persist Because The System Is Being Sabotaged Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us, In a recent interview with Bloomberg, the executive vice president of UPS asserted that “regionalization” of the supply chain is critical to economic stability as geopolitcal conflicts expand. The word “regionalization” is basically a code word to describe decentralization, a concept which the UPS representative obviously did not want to dive into directly. Almost every trade expert and industry insider is admitting that supply chain problems are going to persist into the foreseeable future, and some are starting to also admit (in a roundabout way) that localized production and trade models are the key to survival. This is something that I and many other alternative economists have been talking about for a decade or more. The globalist dynamic of interdependency is a disaster waiting to happen, and now it’s happening. Without decentralized mining of raw materials, local manufacturing, locally sourced goods, local food production and locally integrated trade networks there can be no true stability. All it takes for the system to implode is one or two crisis events and the economy’s ability to meet public demand stagnates. The system doesn’t completely stop, but it does slowly shrivel and degrade. The war in Ukraine has been the go-to scapegoat the past few months for supply chain disruptions, but these issues started long before that. Years of central bank stimulus and fiat money creation have triggered the inevitable landslide of inflation/stagflation that alternative economists have been warning about. Price inflation is a direct contributor to production declines and supply chain disruptions because costs continually rise for manufacturers. Also, wages of workers cannot keep up with rising prices, inspiring many employees to quit and look for work elsewhere, or attempt to live off of government welfare. All of this leads to less supply, or slower production and thus, even higher prices. We were right, the mainstream media was wrong (or they lied). New York Times contributor Paul Krugman claimed that “no one saw this coming” when he was recently forced to admit that he was wrong on inflation. This is the same thing MSM economists said after the credit crash of 2008. It was a lie back then and it’s a lie now. Plenty of people saw it coming; we’ve been repeating our warnings for years, but they didn’t want to listen or they did not want us to be heard. Krugman is perhaps the worst and most arrogant economist/propagandist in the US, and though he belatedly acknowledged the inflation and supply chain threat after arguing for the past two years that it was “transitory,” he now claims that the traditionally accepted indicators of recession “don’t matter” anymore and that there is no downturn. How many times can this guy be proven ignorant and still keep his job? It’s this kind of disinformation that keeps the public in the dark on what is about to happen. Maybe it’s because of stupidity and ego, or maybe it’s a deliberate attempt to keep the population docile (I say it is deliberate), but in either case the American people are being put in great danger when it comes to the false narrative on inflation and the supply chain. The longer they are led to believe the disaster will simply go away on its own, the less time they have to prepare. The bottom line is this: Things are only going to get worse from here on. Maybe slowly, or maybe quickly depending on a handful of factors. Most of the world right now is focused on Taiwan and China’s persistent threats to invade. Nancy Pelosi’s widely publicized plan to visit the island nation (yes, CCP, it is a nation) is a bizarre act of non-discretion that is clearly meant to instigate wider tensions between the US and China. Why would Pelosi do this now? Well, she’s not doing it on her own and it’s certainly not the dementia addled Joe Biden’s idea. There are clearly other hands and other interests involved. The US sources around 20% of its retail goods from China as well as a large portion of it’s medical supplies. More concerning though is China’s near monopoly on Rare Earth metals which are integral to numerous electronic components. Furthermore, there is a pinnacle threat, which is China dumping trillions in US treasuries and dollar holding and virtually ending the dollar’s world reserve status. This is not to say China is in a great position financially – They are on the verge of debt crisis as well, which indicates to me that they will indeed invade Taiwan (and possibly other regions) as a means to expand their borders and consolidate resources. With billions of people to feed and control, the temptation for the CCP to seek military conquest is high. If they do, it will be soon – within the next couple of months when the weather in the Taiwan Strait is optimal for naval operations. The supply chain crisis is going to accelerate into winter as stagflation persists. Price inflation will remain high. The US is indeed officially in a recession today. Two consecutive negative GDP prints IS a recession, this is a fact that no one can change, including Joe Biden, Paul Krugman or Wikipedia. Reality does not answer to these people. The system is breaking, and certain people greatly benefit. A regional conflict with China on top of the Ukraine war could be the perfect smokescreen for a financial and supply chain collapse that was going to happen anyway. But when the mainstream media talks about the triggers and culprits, they’ll never mention central banks and political corruption, they will only talk about Russia and China. As I have noted in the past, the “Great Reset” agenda of the WEF, IMF, the BIS and other globalist organizations requires an extensive destabilization of the existing order. In other words, they need a controlled demolition of certain pillars of the economy. To frighten the public into accepting new collectivist and authoritarian models like the “Shared Economy” (where you will own nothing and like it), they will need a large and semi-chaotic disaster. People would have to be threatened with the loss of supply certainty and they would have to be unsure every day of where they will be able to get the necessities they need when they need them. This level of uncertainty drives calls for solutions, and the globalists will be there to offer their pre-planned objectives and “save the day.” Generally, inflation and shortages lead to price controls, government rationing, government “aid” with strings attached (Universal Basic Income), and eventually nationalization of all production as well as the attempted confiscation of supplies from people that prepared ahead of time. Redistribution will be the name of the game. Maybe not this year, maybe not next year, but soon enough. The limited corporate calls for “regionalization” are too little too late, just as the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes are too little too late. They all know it, and they don’t care. These actions are only designed to make it appear as if they tried to save the system so they have deniability of their involvement in the crisis. Stagflation and supply chain shortages are going to become the all encompassing issues of our era. They will be terms that are spoken about daily at every dinner table in America and probably through most of the world. These are dangers that were predicted extensively by the liberty media well ahead of time. They are NOT a surprise. And, there are plenty of institutions, corporate and government, that could have done something about them, but they chose not to. It’s important for people to accept the fact that this crisis is not a product of stupidity; it is a product of malicious motives and intent. *  *  * With global tensions spiking, thousands of Americans are moving their IRA or 401(k) into an IRA backed by physical gold. Now, thanks to a little-known IRS Tax Law, you can too. Learn how with a free info kit on gold from Birch Gold Group. It reveals how physical precious metals can protect your savings, and how to open a Gold IRA. Click here to get your free Info Kit on Gold. Tyler Durden Fri, 08/05/2022 - 16:20.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytAug 5th, 2022

Mystery wreckage in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Philippines is probably fallen Chinese rocket parts, space-debris experts say

China's rocket booster fell to Earth uncontrolled, and new photos convinced space-debris experts that it rained rocket parts across Southeast Asia. Debris suspected to be from a Chinese rocket booster in Sepupok, Malaysia.Malaysia News Agency Photos from Borneo and the Philippines appear to show large fragments of space junk that fell to Earth. Space-debris experts say the mystery objects are parts of China's Long March 5B rocket. The rocket's booster fell back to Earth uncontrolled on Saturday, raining parts over Southeast Asia. Mysterious large pieces of wreckage were discovered across Southeast Asia over the weekend, and evidence is growing that they came from a Chinese rocket booster that fell to Earth uncontrolled.The booster of China's 25-ton Long March 5B rocket pushed a new segment of the country's space station into orbit in late July. Then, instead of pushing itself into the Pacific Ocean — a standard practice called controlled reentry — the booster entered Earth's orbit and slowly lost altitude over the course of a week, ensuring that it would fall randomly in an unpredictable location.On Saturday, the booster succumbed to gravity and fell to Earth, breaking apart in the atmosphere. Soon photos of scattered objects that appear to be parts of the rocket emerged from Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines — along the path of the booster's uncontrolled fall.Two people in hazmat suits test for radioactivity on an object believed to be part of the Long March 5B rocket booster, in Sarawak, Malaysia.Malaysia News AgencyOnly China can officially confirm that those pieces belong to its rocket booster, but orbital-debris experts say they have no doubt that the mystery objects are chunks of Long March 5B."They sure look like rocket parts to me," Ted Muelhaupt, a consultant for the Aerospace Corporation's Chief Engineer's Office, told Insider, adding, "I've got no reason to dispute that it's pieces of this rocket."There's a roughly 10% chance that debris will hit one or more people within a decade, according to a study published in the journal Nature in July.Even if they don't strike anybody, pieces of spacecraft that have fallen through the atmosphere are dangerous to approach because rocket fuel can linger on them.Photos suggest the booster disintegrated piece by piece as it fellA mysterious metal object discovered in Balaikarangan, Indonesia, in a screenshot from local news reports, on July 31, 2022.Malaysia News AgencyIn the village of Pengadang, near Balaikarangan, on the Indonesian side of the island of Borneo, locals discovered a large rounded object resembling the Chinese rocket's core stage. The image above comes from Borneo News Network footage."There's a picture of the big piece at the end of the fuel tank sitting on a field that's very convincing. It's the right diameter. It looks like a piece that sort of survived reentry — and is right on the path of the reentry," Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and avid tracker of objects in Earth's orbit, told Insider.A map shows the Long March 5B booster's descent path (orange line) passing over Balaikarangan, where mysterious debris was discovered.Jonathan McDowellMuelhaupt agreed that object looks like the dome of a fuel tank.Two smaller pieces of debris were discovered in the small towns of Batu Niah and Sepupok in Sarawak, on the Malaysian side of Borneo, according to the Borneo News Network and The Star, a Malaysian news outlet.A map shows the Long March 5B booster's descent path (orange line) passing over Batu Niah, where more mysterious debris was discovered.Jonathan McDowellPhotos show "a little piece of metal dug in the ground, which may well be a bit of the rocket, but it's just too hard to tell," McDowell said.The rocket's launch dropped debris, tooThe Long March 5B rocket, rolling to the launchpad in July, has the same flag and space-agency symbol that photos of debris in the Philippines, circulated on the social media platform Weibo, claim to show.CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty ImagesImages circulated on China's social media platform Weibo claimed to show pieces of the rocket's fairing, which falls away during launch, in the Philippines' Mindoro Strait. The photos, which Insider has not independently verified, show people pulling panels from the water marked with the same Chinese flag and blue space-agency symbol that are on the rocket fairing.On Wednesday, the Philippine Space Agency released a statement saying the torn metal sheet found by fisherman off the coast of Mamburao was part of the rocket's fairing. The agency also said that parts of the falling booster may have dropped off the coast, in the Sulu Sea.McDowell and Muelhaupt also said they believe these images show parts of the rocket fairing, dropped during launch.Fire department workers examine debris suspected to be from a Chinese booster rocket in Sepupok, Malaysia.Malaysia News AgencyThen, when the rocket's booster fell from space, its descent path carried it right over the Mindoro Strait."This means we've been hit twice by debris from this launch: at the beginning, and at the end of the rocket's flight," Jay Batongbacal, a professor at the University of the Philippines Institute for the Maritime Affairs and the Law of the Sea, told Philippine news outlet the Inquirer. "This shows that the risk is higher for us, because we are under the flight path of most Chinese rocket launches," he said.However, no government agency has reported debris from the uncontrolled fall in the Philippines.This is the third time China has launched a Long March 5B rocket and allowed its body to fall to Earth uncontrolled. In May 2021, pieces of another Long March 5B landed in the Indian Ocean. And in May of 2020, another launch ended in an uncontrolled fall that dumped debris near two villages in Ivory Coast, leading to reports of property damage.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytAug 5th, 2022

Besties: Twitter, Facebook, Google, CDC, NIH, & WHO

Besties: Twitter, Facebook, Google, CDC, NIH, & WHO Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via The Brownstone Institute, Many of us with a libertarian frame of mind presume as a matter of theory that the interests of business are at odds with those of government. That’s generally true for businesses of a certain size. The regulations and taxes one faces in running an enterprise in the “land of free” are utterly shocking, as any small business owner can tell you. Even gaining the legal right to pay an employee is an arduous undertaking.  But matters change for any large businesses, especially industry leaders. Here the problem of mutual capture – business deeply involved in regulatory agencies to the point that which is the hand and which is the glove is not clear – is pervasive. It’s been an issue since the Gilded Age, as historians know. The bigger the government, the bigger the problem of these government-business partnerships.  It’s always worse in a war, when the opportunities for racketeering by ostensibly private enterprise are legion. That includes the war on the virus, which has been brutal on small businesses but a fabulous reward for large media enterprises.  Rarely do we experience this in such a direct way as we did during the pandemic. We were amazed to see huge corporations that control vast amounts of digital communications openly censoring on behalf of the CDC and the WHO. We know because they said so, and still do. Perhaps we might have assumed that administrators of these companies were as confused about the science as the politicians were. Maybe it was civic pride at work here.  A trove of emails obtained by America First Legal tells a far more alarming story. The 286-page stack of correspondence reveals a cozy and daily working relationship between people in a position of control between Twitter, Facebook, Google, the CDC, NIH, and the WHO. They shared strategies, advertising ideas, and messaging. They talked up grants and privileges for each other, all designed to crush and exclude contrary narratives. They set up meetings and shared mutual compliments.  They became besties.  In one page, the CDC flagged posts that it did not like and Twitter responded. This was a period in which people were being targeted for banning by Twitter. It was never clear why some posts got through and some were triggers for bans. Now we know why: the CDC essentially produced a hit list.  Among those targeted was Naomi Wolf, who, so far as I know, was the first to reveal the relationship between vaccination and irregular menstrual patterns. For talking about this subject, she was permanently banned by Twitter. This direct hit was ordered by the CDC itself.  Now, you might say, whatever you might believe about the flagged posts, this is a violation of the First Amendment! It’s fine for Twitter to have its own terms of use and kick people off as it sees fit. It’s something else entirely when the company is acting on the exhortations of deep-state bureaucrats who find themselves annoyed that someone believes in the right to exercise free speech. Surely there will be years of court challenges to this practice, as there should be.  What you have here is a government profoundly aware of the legal limits on its own ability to shut down dissenting voices, and thereby leaning on private enterprise to do the deed. But very clearly they did not have to lean too hard. Tragically, there were high-end people at these companies who were very excited to do the government’s bidding. That was all about suppressing human liberty, and gagging the people who worried that this might not be a good idea. Feels Like Feudalism  Ever since reading through these emails, I’ve been struck by the strange friendliness of all the emails. There is obvious absence of the supposed conflict between enterprise and government that animates most conversation between left, right, and libertarian. Indeed, they all seem highly collegial and filled with mutual flattery, as if making these connections and plotting the messaging amounted to doing a solid and professional job. The lack of self-awareness is palpable.  The relationship between Big Tech – and all aspiring reporters and enterprises – is very clearly complex, and elusive of ideological categorization. It is also corrupt, exploitative of the interests of the people, and at odds with the interest of Enlightenment values. How can freedom stand a chance when it is so viciously squeezed between the controlling interest groups, who are the powerful in society?  They believe they are the lords and we are the peasants.  Here is an example of what I mean. Last week, Anthony Fauci deigned to appear in the show Rising, as sponsored by The Hill. It was in this interview that Fauci said that if he had it to do over again, he would have pushed “more stringent restrictions.” He also claimed that he “didn’t recommend locking anything down,” which is unbearably untrue.  What’s more interesting is the backdrop to preparation for the interview. A leading reporter for the show is Kim Iversen, who would have loved the chance to question Fauci based on her extensive reporting and knowledge of all things Covid. At the last moment, she was blocked from being on.  The remaining two reporters were clearly aware of the corporate need to go pretty easy on Fauci. Why? We know from his extensive emails that he is hyper-focused on curating his media appearances. He doesn’t want uncomfortable questions. He turns down most requests and is thereby in a position to extract concessions from venues. The venues want him on the show to drive traffic and credibility.  You can watch the appearance here and make your own judgment on how it went in the absence of Ms. Iversen.  Ms. Iversen is a rare case of a reporter who has no interest in playing the game. After all this transpired, she quit the show based on her conviction that if she cannot report the truth, there really is no point in staying with a company. Clearly, in her view, The Hill was more interested in maintaining good relations with deep-state actors than in reporting the truth. So she bailed, and god bless her for that. This is but a small look at the much deeper problem, which is the symbiotic relationship between the administrative state, Big Tech, and Big Media. They work together to forge a narrative and stick to it. We know that now better than we ever have. This involves shutting down dissident voices and curating content in a way that serves ruling-class interests.  Two weeks ago, I wrote the following: This is why, while journalists can often hound elected politicians and their appointees, from Watergate to Russiagate and every “gate” in between, they tend towards a hands-off approach to the massive administrative bureaucracies that hold the real power in modern democracies. The press and the deep state live off each other. What that means is ominous to consider: what you read in the papers and hear on TV from the industry-dominant sources is nothing more than an amplification of deep-state priorities and propaganda. The problem has been growing for well over a hundred years and now it is the source of enormous corruption on all sides.  I observed this before the recent revelations of the direct relationship between social media and Covid enforcers. You are welcome to look at the emails here and form your own judgment. What we see here is not tension, much less conflict, but unity. Unity in what? My strong impression is that it is unity in power. They know they have it, are thrilled to exercise it, and happy to be in touch with others of the same ilk.  For want of a better phrase, we might call this profound “class consciousness” of the 1% of technology admins and bureaucratic managers in government. The distinction between the two is no longer clear, which should be confounding for any political worldview that posits an inherent conflict between public and private.  We can add to this class observation something even more tactile. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which exercised outsized influence on the pandemic response, has also funded nearly all mainstream media venues to the tune of $315 million, the details of which are reported here.  From this we can observe that it is not only class but also money: more precisely, the two go together. It makes it all-the-more offensive that this philanthropic empire which pushed the lockdowns and funded the media empires that controlled the narrative was built in the old fashioned way: by making and selling computers and software.  There’s an apocryphal quote attributed to Vladimir Lenin that predicted how capitalists would sell the rope from which they would eventually hang. He probably never said that. The truth of our times is just as grim. The freedoms that have been taken away from us made possible the fortunes that have led to the advance of serfdom and poverty the world over.  Making matters worse, there’s an ongoing plot to make it very difficult even to complain about it. Unless you happen upon the right channels, media sources, research institutes, and journalists, you can be made to believe that you are nothing but what they consider you to be: a peasant without rights, free only to do and say that to which they grant you permission. And no more.  Tyler Durden Thu, 08/04/2022 - 15:19.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeAug 4th, 2022

10 Promising Signs That The Insidious Mind-Control-Matrix The Elite Have Created Is Starting To Crumble

10 Promising Signs That The Insidious Mind-Control-Matrix The Elite Have Created Is Starting To Crumble Authored by Michael Snyder via TheMostImportantNews.com, Are we witnessing the start of some sort of a mass awakening in the western world?  For years, I have been writing about the extremely complex systems that are designed to shape and control what we think.  Today, the vast majority of the “news” and “entertainment” that most of us consume is controlled by just a very small handful of immensely powerful corporations.  And of course those corporations are ultimately owned and controlled by the elite of the world.  To a very large degree, the elite have been able to determine what we focus on, what we think about current events, and how we feel about the world around us.  For such a long time, most of the population would take whatever narratives that were pushed upon them by their corporate overlords as the gospel truth, and that always greatly frustrated me.  Fortunately, there are indications that times are changing. In order for any society to function effectively, there must be a high level of trust. Unfortunately for the elite, we simply do not trust them anymore. Trust in our politicians has fallen to an all-time low. Trust in the media has fallen to an all-time low. Trust in our corporations has fallen to an all-time low. Trust in our health care system has fallen to an all-time low. Trust in our education system has fallen to an all-time low. Trust in the tech industry has fallen to an all-time low. We no longer are buying into the crap that they keep shoveling our way. And that is a really, really good thing. It is morally wrong for them to try to control what we think.  It is absolutely imperative that we all learn to think for ourselves, because that is the only way that we will ever be truly free. I have been writing about this stuff for years and years, and a number of recent trends have given me hope that people are starting to wake up on a widespread basis.  The following are 10 promising signs that the insidious mind control matrix the elite have created is starting to crumble… #1 According to a recent Gallup survey, only 16 percent of U.S. adults have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in newspapers and only 11 percent of U.S. adults have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in television news. #2 All over the Internet I am seeing article after article speaking out against the World Economic Forum.  That is an incredibly hopeful sign. #3 In the Netherlands, a new government plan would “cut fertilizer use and reduce livestock numbers so drastically that it will force many farms out of business”.  This plan is deeply evil, but the massive farmer protests that have been sparked as a result are a really beautiful thing. #4 After being arrested, a British man was told this: “Someone has been caused anxiety based on your social media post. And that is why you’re being arrested”.  But the good news is that there has been a tremendous backlash on social media and so far the video of his arrest has already been viewed more than 2 million times. #5 As more people on the west coast wake up, the exodus out of the state of California is rapidly becoming a stampede. #6 Despite all of the spin from the Biden administration, 66 percent of Americans say that they believe that we are either in a recession or a depression right now. #7 Joe Biden’s overall approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 36 percent. #8 Joe Biden’s economic approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 30 percent. #9 A recent CNN poll discovered that a whopping 75 percent of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters actually want their party to nominate someone other than Biden in 2024. #10 According to a recent Pew Research survey, only 24 percent of U.S. adults are satisfied with the current state of the country. Almost all of us can see that our society is on the wrong track, and that is the first step in getting back on the right track. As time rolls along, I believe that more and more of us will wake up. And in the end I believe that the current “world order” that the western elite have tried so hard to establish will fall. That process will be incredibly chaotic, but the end result will be worth it. Before I end this article, there is one more thing that I wanted to mention. According to scientists, we just experienced the shortest day ever recorded… The shortest day on record has been broken by the planet Earth. On June 29, 2022, the planet completed its entire rotation in just 1.59 milliseconds, or slightly more than one thousandth of a second, less time than it typically takes for a 24-hour rotation. Recently, the Earth has been moving quicker. Since the 1960s, 2020 marked the shortest month on record for the planet. On July 19 of that year, 1.47 milliseconds shorter than a typical 24-hour day, scientists recorded the shortest day so far. Are the days being shortened? I often tell people that it feels like the days are going by faster than ever, but I thought that it was just my imagination. I have been told that as we get older it can seem like time is passing more quickly, and without a doubt 2022 seems like it is the fastest year yet. It is hard to believe that the beginning of August is already here. 2023 will arrive before we know it, and I believe that 2023 will be a year that changes everything. I know that there are a lot of bad things that are happening right now, and a lot of my articles tend to focus on those bad things. But the truth is that there are a lot of good things happening too. In fact, there is no other time in all of human history that I would have rather lived than right now. It is when times are the darkest that the greatest heroes are needed, and the years ahead will provide plenty of opportunities for you to be the kind of hero that you were always meant to be. *  *  * It is finally here! Michael’s new book entitled “7 Year Apocalypse” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon. Tyler Durden Wed, 08/03/2022 - 21:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytAug 3rd, 2022

A Bipartisan Solution To America"s Election Crisis

A Bipartisan Solution To America's Election Crisis Opinion authored by Jacqueline Timmer via RealClear Politics (emphasis ours), One thing that Americans across the political spectrum seem to agree on is that our democracy is in crisis. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus) One side blames those who raise concerns about irregularities and lawlessness in the election process, saying that this undermines public confidence in our democracy. The other side considers those irregularities and violations of election law a sign that we can no longer trust the reported outcome of our elections – and thus that we cannot trust in the legitimacy of our elected officials. The 2020 presidential election was the most lawless in American history. Election laws were ignored, and in many cases unilaterally changed by government officials without the approval of state legislatures. Private organizations with a vested interest in the outcome were given unprecedented access to the inner working of election administration after “donating” hundreds of millions of dollars to state and local election officials. Radical changes to election administration were made in violation of existing election laws under the pretense of keeping people safe from COVID. The solution, it would seem, comes down to reforming our election laws according to principles that are universally accepted as integral to free and fair elections. The U.S. Agency for International Development identifies three key principles when evaluating the legitimacy of foreign elections – they must be accountable, inclusive, and transparent. The election experts I work with at the American Voters’ Alliance believe this is a good litmus test for American elections, too. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, after all, and it’s difficult to imagine anyone – Republican or Democrat – disputing the desirability of accountability, inclusiveness, or transparency in the elections that decide who runs our government. We tend to federalize almost every political issue these days, but election reform is one subject that must be dealt with at the state level. Not only does the U.S. Constitution assign primary responsibility for managing elections to the state legislatures, but there is virtually no chance that Congress will find the bipartisan will to make meaningful changes. The very first bill Democrats proposed after taking control of both house of Congress in 2021 was a sweeping election reform that would have federalized most aspects of American elections and resolved virtually every partisan dispute over election laws in Democrats’ favor. The radical proposal alienated Republicans, ensuring that it could not pass the Senate. Just recently, House Republicans unveiled their own proposal, the American Confidence in Elections (ACE) Act. The bill reflects a much more contemplative approach that seeks to make meaningful progress toward restoring public confidence in our elections, rather than merely serving as a vehicle for scoring partisan political points. Unfortunately, the ACE Act’s own sponsors acknowledge that its sole purpose is “to draw a line in the sand on election integrity issues,” because it has no hope of even coming to a vote in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. They express hope that Republicans will win back control of Congress in the midterm elections and reintroduce a modified version of the ACE Act next year, but even if that happens, the bill would certainly fall victim to President Biden’s veto. The only way to make meaningful changes to the election process within the next two election cycles is for state legislatures to carry the ball themselves – which is just what the Framers of the Constitution intended, anyway. The fact that election laws vary from state to state – and even from county to county – makes any effort to develop a comprehensive model law a daunting challenge. Others have already tried and failed. The American Voters’ Alliance assembled a team of experts and spent well over a year studying what went wrong in 2020 and how. We also studied the details of state election laws, identifying instances where loopholes were exploited and others where lack of accountability led to blatant violations of both the spirit and the letter of the law. What we came up with was the most comprehensive model legislation available to help guide state lawmakers who are serious about fixing the election process and restoring public confidence in our democracy. We provide remedies for election law violations, so that if those laws are broken in the future, it will be possible to make corrections before the election results are certified. We also address the issue of equal treatment, ensuring that all voters are treated equally and given equal access to the ballot box. Our model legislation also closes loopholes that enable private vendors to perform the function of government election officials without being subject to the same transparency requirements. If you participate in the administration of our elections, you should be required to make the same public disclosures as public officials and be subject to Freedom of Information Requests from citizens who wish to know how their elections were conducted. Most importantly, AVA’s model legislation includes the unique innovation of a truly bipartisan joint standing committee whose sole purpose is to evaluate the conduct of elections and report its findings and recommendations to the state legislature before the results are certified. This allows disputes to be discussed and resolved by the people’s elected representatives in a timely manner so that they don’t fester in the courts until it’s too late. America’s election system is in crisis, and it will take bold leadership to forge a solution. The only way to restore public confidence in our democracy is through genuinely bipartisan action in state legislatures across the country. The American Voters’ Alliance is here to help make that vision a reality. Jacqueline Timmer is the founder and director of the American Voter’s Alliance, a nonprofit grassroots voter education group focused on election integrity. Tyler Durden Tue, 08/02/2022 - 23:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeAug 3rd, 2022

Equifax sent lenders inaccurate credit scores on millions of consumers

Equifax sent incorrect credit scores to to banks and nonbank lenders that may have been off by as much as 20 points in either direction. Equifax provided inaccurate credit scores on millions of U.S. consumers seeking loans during a three-week period earlier this year, according to bank executives and others familiar with the errors. Equifax sent the erroneous scores on people applying for auto loans, mortgages and credit cards to banks and nonbank lenders big and small—including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co. and Ally Financial Inc., the people said. The scores were sometimes off by 20 points or more in either direction, the people said, enough to alter the interest rates consumers were offered or to result in their applications being rejected altogether. The inaccurate scores were sent from mid March through early April, the people said. The company began disclosing the errors to lenders in May, they said. Equifax said it has since fixed the error, which the company described as a "technology coding issue." The glitch didn’t alter the information in consumers’ credit reports, the company said. EQUIFAX TO PAY UP TO $700M IN BREACH SETTLEMENT "We have determined that there was no shift in the vast majority of scores during the three-week timeframe of the issue," Sid Singh, president of Equifax’s U.S. Information Solutions, said in a statement. "For those consumers that did experience a score shift, initial analysis indicates that only a small number of them may have received a different credit decision." Equifax maintains credit reports on more than 200 million U.S. consumers and sells them to lenders. The information in these files—including whether consumers are applying for debt, the types of accounts they have and whether they have a history of paying on time—determines consumers’ credit scores. Credit scores are among a number of factors lenders consider when making loan decisions. The glitch is another setback for Equifax, which fell victim to a hack in 2017 that exposed the sensitive personal information of nearly 150 million Americans. Trade publication National Mortgage Professional reported on the glitch in late May, saying Equifax had notified lenders of erroneous scores during the period in question. Mark Begor, Equifax’s chief executive, publicly acknowledged the flub at a June investor conference, calling it a coding issue that affected "legacy applications that resulted in some scores going out that had incorrect data." He said the company had fixed the problem and takes issues with its data quality seriously. "The impact is going to be quite small," Mr. Begor said, "not something that’s meaningful to Equifax." The glitch, however, affected many lenders across multiple consumer loan products, not just mortgages, according to people familiar with the matter. The percentage of incorrect scores provided to lenders varied, the people said. At one big bank, for example, 18% of applicants during the three-week period had incorrect scores, with an average swing of 8 points, one of the people said. Equifax told one large auto lender that about 10% of applicants during the three-week period had inaccurate scores, according to a person familiar with the matter. Of those, several thousand saw a change of 25 points or more on their credit score, the person said. In a small number of cases, applicants went from having no credit score at all to a score in the 700s—or vice versa, the person said. The most widely used credit scores range between 300 to 850; the higher the credit score, the more likely an applicant will get approved and at a lower interest rate. Lenders are asking Equifax for more information and are trying to figure out what to do for applicants who were denied credit or offered a higher interest rate than they deserved, the people said. They are considering repricing loans and giving rejected applicants an opportunity to reapply, the people said, a task complicated by recent interest-rate increases. Equifax has been working closely with lenders and providing them with updated scores, Mr. Singh said in the statement. "We do not take this issue lightly," he said. BUY NOW, PAY LATER LOANS TO BE FORMALLY INCLUDED IN EQUIFAX CREDIT REPORTS The glitch could land the Atlanta-based Equifax in more hot water with its regulator, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Under its director, Rohit Chopra, the agency is investigating how the three main credit-reporting companies—Equifax, Experian PLC and TransUnion—handle consumer disputes, The Wall Street Journal previously reported. Mortgage lenders sought about 2.5 million credit scores in the period in question, according to one industry estimate. But because they typically view credit scores from each of the three credit-reporting companies, the glitch’s effects on mortgages may have been blunted, some industry officials said. GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO BY CLICKING HERE Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which guarantee about half of the U.S. mortgage market, likely purchased only a relatively small number of loans at inaccurate prices due to erroneous credit scores, one of the people said. Mortgage lenders may owe the government-controlled companies additional money if borrowers received higher credit scores than they should have and their loans are deemed riskier than initially thought, according to industry officials. In some cases, Fannie and Freddie could owe lenders refunds if the scores were unduly low. A spokesman said the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie and Freddie, is still working with the mortgage giants to assess the scope of the loans affected by the glitch......»»

Category: topSource: foxnewsAug 2nd, 2022

There"s a 50-50 chance states will call for a constitutional convention within 5 years: conservative legal scholar

Almost 20 GOP-led states have passed a powerful and well-funded group's call for a new constitutional convention, and the 2022 midterms are pivotal. A cyclist rides past the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on March 22, 2021.AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File A conservative legal scholar predicts a 50% of a constitutional convention in five years.  Rob Natelson has written prolifically on Article V of the Constitution and the convention movement. The chances of a convention depend on how the GOP fares in state legislatures in 2022, he said. A conservative movement to call a first-of-its-kind constitutional convention is gaining momentum. And a leading legal mind behind that movement predicts a "roughly" 50% chance of that convention happening within five years.  Rob Natelson's work and advocacy is the legal backbone of the much of conservative movement to call a convention. Natelson, a conservative constitutional scholar, has written extensively and published numerous academic articles on Article V of the Constitution.Article V provides two methods to amend the Constitution. Either Congress can pass an amendment — which is how all 27 amendments to the Constitution were added — or two-thirds of US states can call for a convention to amend the document, which has never been done. "My guess is we would probably have about an even chance of a convention over the next five years," Natelson told Insider in a phone interview. Natelson has previously served as an adviser to Convention of States, the conservative group currently gaining the most momentum to call for a convention led by ex-Tea Party activist Mark Meckler. Natelson is also involved in the American Legislative Exchange Council's efforts to promote the convention movement, serving on its Board of Scholars and writing an Article V convention handbook for lawmakers for the organization.At a December 2021 closed-door workshop at ALEC's winter policy summit, Natelson told lawmakers the movement was "on the cusp of a supermajority" in audio obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy, a left-leaning watchdog, and shared with Insider. "It's going to depend a little bit on the results of the 2022 midterms," Natelson told Insider of the chances of a convention.Republicans currently have unified control of 31 state legislatures, and are betting on a favorable midterm climate to flip Democratic-controlled chambers and further expand their majorities in statehouses. In all, 19 states, including four in 2022, have passed resolutions for a convention under Convention of States' model. It calls for a convention that would pass a federal balanced budget amendment, "limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government," and impose term limits on federal officials. "The only people who really seem to be making progress are the Convention of States people ... and obviously, they're going to they're mostly conservative, they're not going to appeal to progressives," Natelson told Insider. "The makeup of state legislatures will help you determine how much progress they make."But as Natelson noted, the convention movement doesn't break down neatly along ideological lines. "You can't say that because the legislature is Republican or conservative, it's going to pass this thing. And you can't say that no Democrats are going to join it either," he said. "So there are a lot of variables, but my rough guess is probably about a 50% chance in the next five years." In this Nov. 3, 2010 file photo, Tea Party Patriots co-founders Mark Meckler, right, and Jenny Beth Martin, take part in a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington. Meckler now leads the Convention of States movement.AP Photo/Manuel Balce CenetaThe leading conservative group pushing a convention has momentum and money. Convention of States, unlike previous movements pushing for a convention, is bankrolled by powerful conservative interests."What we're seeing now, that we haven't really seen before, is people putting money into it. The Mark Mecklers of the world are putting money into it," Viki Harrison, director of Constitutional Convention and Protecting Dissent Programs at Common Cause, told Insider. Meckler's groups, Convention of States Action and Citizens for Self Governance, have received millions of dollars from groups including the Koch-connected DonorsTrust, the Mercer Family Foundation, and groups connected to powerful conservative lawyer Leonard Leo, tax filings obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy show."It's the first time any of these applications have had this much movement in quite some time," said Harrison, who lobbies against the convention movement in statehouses across the country. Other observers of the convention movement, however, are far less certain that a convention is imminent. "It's clear to everybody who's working on this that the convention proponents have no honest path for 34 states, they've reached their limit," David Super, a professor and constitutional law expert at Georgetown University, told Insider.Despite the uphill road ahead, observers on both sides of the convention movement sense increasing demand to change the Constitution from both conservatives frustrated by unified Democratic control of Congress and progressives incensed with decisions from the Supreme Court's conservative supermajority."The feeling that Washington, DC, has become a cause for the nation's problems rather than a solution to those problems is becoming universal on both sides of the aisle," Karla Jones, senior director of international relations and federalism at ALEC, told Insider. Read Insider's full story on the movement to call a new constitutional convention. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytAug 1st, 2022

China To Pelosi: You Will "Perish" Over Taiwan

China To Pelosi: You Will 'Perish' Over Taiwan Authored by Gordon Chang via 19fortyfive.com, “The position of the Chinese government and people on the Taiwan question is consistent, and resolutely safeguarding China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity is the firm will of the more than 1.4 billion Chinese people,” Chinese ruler Xi Jinping told President Joe Biden during their phone call on July 28, according to the Chinese foreign ministry. “The public opinion cannot be defied. Those who play with fire will perish by it.” “Perish”? Xi’s dire-sounding warning, issued in connection with reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to go to Taiwan, suggests either that Xi Jinping perceives Biden to be so weak that he can push him around or that China’s internal problems are so severe that the Communist Party must create an external crisis to distract the Chinese people. In the worst case, both are true. For about a decade, Chinese leaders have believed the United States has been in terminal decline, and their regime will soon ascend to global dominance. Biden, at least in their minds, has confirmed this view. His calamitous withdrawal from Afghanistan and his failure to stop Russia’s invasion of Ukraine left Beijing thinking that it can now do what it wants to Taiwan. At the same time, Xi’s threat could be the result of regime insecurity. He needs an external crisis so that the Chinese people won’t think too much about the internal ones. Inside China, coronavirus continues to infect the population, and Xi’s “dynamic zero-COVID” policy is causing widespread resentment as well as undermining the ailing economy. China’s economy, despite the report of 0.4% year-to-year growth in the second quarter, is almost certainly contracting. At the same time, the debt crisis, delayed for more than a decade, has been hitting the country. Evergrande Group and other large property developers are defaulting on bond and other obligations, apartment projects remain unfinished, buyers of flats are participating in a nationwide “mortgage boycott” by not paying banks, the boycott has spread to suppliers of the developers, and financial institutions across the country are tight on cash. There are bank runs, especially in Henan province, but banks in the financial capital of Shanghai are also in poor condition. Because property sales have plunged—the sales of the top 100 developers fell 50.3% in the first half of this year—local governments, dependent on property revenue, cannot meet obligations. A Chinese entrepreneur this month told me that local cadres are trying to extort tens of millions of dollars from his firm. The fiscal problems at lower levels mirror those at the central government. Xi, under the banner of his “Common Prosperity” program, has been extracting tens of billions of dollars from tech giants such as Tencent and Alibaba. Xi is also leading a nationwide mobilization effort, something signaled by the amendment of China’s National Defense Law, effective the beginning of last year, to transfer power from civilian to military officials, specifically from the central government’s State Council to the Communist Party’s Central Military Commission. The State Council will no longer supervise the mobilization of the People’s Liberation Army, which reports to the Party. Although the Party has always been in control, the amendment contemplates the mass mobilization of society for war. Owners of private businesses are now being told to manufacture what the Party dictates, a move seen as building up stockpiles for conflict. Many American analysts say that Speaker Pelosi is provoking a crisis with her reported plans to visit self-governing and democratic Taiwan, which Beijing claims is sovereign Chinese territory. That view is incorrect. Xi Jinping needs no “provocation” from the Speaker to lash out. Currently, Chinese forces, already below the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, are preparing to take more Indian territory in the Himalayas. In June, Beijing renewed attempts to block resupply of a Philippine outpost at Second Thomas Shoal, in the South China Sea. In the East China Sea on July 29, four Chinese warships entered Japanese sovereign water around the disputed but Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands. Furthermore, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley pointed out while in Sydney, “Chinese military activity is noticeably and statistically more aggressive than in previous years.” On May 26, for instance, a high-performance Chinese fighter jet accelerated and flew close to an Australian Royal Air Force P-8 reconnaissance aircraft in international airspace in the South China Sea region and released chaff, which was ingested into one of the P-8’s two engines. The Chinese jet also fired flares. This is believed to be the first time any military has used chaff and flares in this manner. The Chinese defense ministry on July 28, in connection with Pelosi’s reported trip to Taiwan, stated “action is the most powerful language.” Chinese journalist Hu Xijin, who is often used to signal regime positions, on July 29 detailed the circumstances in which China’s military is prepared to bring down the Speaker’s plane. There are no longer any safe options. The most dangerous, at least in the long run, is for Speaker Pelosi to back down. By backing down, she will legitimize the most belligerent elements in the Chinese capital by showing everyone else that threats work. This is now more than just a test of will. Tyler Durden Sun, 07/31/2022 - 23:00.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytAug 1st, 2022

Court Rejects Google"s Attempt To Dismiss Rumble"s Antitrust Lawsuit, Ensuring Vast Discovery

Court Rejects Google's Attempt To Dismiss Rumble's Antitrust Lawsuit, Ensuring Vast Discovery Authored by Glenn Greenwld via greenwald.substack.com, A federal district court in California on Friday denied Google's motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that the Silicon Valley giant is violating federal antitrust laws by preventing fair competition against its YouTube video platform. The lawsuit against the search engine giant, which has owned YouTube since its 2006 purchase for $1.65 billion, was brought in early 2021 by Rumble, the free speech competitor to YouTube. Its central claim is that Google's abuse of its monopolistic stranglehold on search engines to destroy all competitors to its various other platforms is illegal under the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, which makes it unlawful to “monopolize, or attempt to monopolize…any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations.” In this Photo illustration a Google logo seen displayed on an android smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) It is rare for antitrust suits against the four Big Tech corporate giants (Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon) to avoid early motions to dismiss. Friday's decision against Google ensures that the suit now proceeds to the discovery stage, where Rumble will have the right to obtain from Google a broad and sweeping range of information about its practices, including internal documents on Google's algorithmic manipulation of its search engine and the onerous requirements it imposes on companies dependent upon its infrastructure to all but force customers to use YouTube. Founded in 2013, Rumble began experiencing explosive growth in the run-up to the 2020 election. Americans were encountering escalating and aggressive Big Tech censorship of political content as the election approached. Conservative politicians, followed by a wide range of heterodox voices on the right and left, began migrating by the millions away from Google's YouTube to Rumble, which has promised and thus provided far more permissive free speech rights. That was at the time when Google and other Big Tech platforms — at the urging of the Democratic-controlled Congress, began aggressively increasing its censorship of political video content on YouTube on the grounds of “disinformation” and “hate speech.” The explosive user growth which Rumble enjoyed in 2020 has continued to rapidly increase, as Big Tech generally, and Google specifically, clamped down further on dissident views in the name of the COVID pandemic, and now even more so with respect to the US/NATO role in the war in Ukraine. More and more prominent politicians, journalists and commentators, along with smaller content creators, have either been banned by YouTube or left on their own accord to join Rumble as Google's crackdown on free speech intensifies. The ability to speak more freely on Rumble regarding the most contentious political debates has become one of the key drivers of the exodus of users — both those with large public platforms and ordinary citizens alike — from YouTube to Rumble. During the COVID pandemic, Rumble allowed far greater questioning of the claims and policies of U.S. health policy official Dr. Anthony Fauci and the World Health Organization — regarding the virus's origins, the efficacy of masks, and the justifiability of vaccine mandates — than Big Tech platforms permitted. For the first year of the pandemic, Big Tech users who questioned or rejected the official story that COVID-19 was zoonotic rather than due to a lab leak in Wuhan were silenced or banned: a censorship policy that was reversed only when the Biden administration itself admitted that it did not know the answer to that question and would officially investigate it. Similarly, Americans who were stifled or outright barred by Big Tech from citing pre-election revelations about Joe Biden from the archive of his son obtained by The New York Post found a place, on Rumble, where they could openly reference and discuss them. And Rumble has aggressively resisted pressure campaigns from the U.S. government and corporate media outlets and outright legal bans enacted by the EU requiring all platforms to cease allowing “pro-Russian” news outlets such as RT and Sputnik to be heard. Rumble's user growth, driven overwhelmingly by growing anger toward Big Tech censorship and de-platforming, has continued to swell this year. As Investor Place's Ian Cooper wrote in April, “its user base hit a new record of 41 million monthly active users in the first quarter of 2022. That is 22% growth quarter-over-quarter.” Moreover, “Rumble is setting user engagement records. In the first quarter of 2022, Rumble users watched about 10.5 billion minutes per month.” As discussed on this page and as was reported by The Washington Post, I was one of a group of nine journalists and commentators, along with former Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), to make Rumble my primary home for video journalism in mid-2021 based on support for its free speech principles and the need for alternatives to centralized Big Tech repression. Though the purpose of that Post article was to predictably malign Rumble as a cesspool of hate speech and disinformation — relying on and extensively quoting a “disinformation” expert who happens to partner with U.S. and British intelligence agencies and Big Tech platforms such as Google and Facebook — The Post was forced to acknowledge how significant Rumble's growth has been (and since that August, 2021 Post article, the growth has increased further): Rumble has grown from 1 million active users last summer to roughly 30 million, said the site’s chief executive Chris Pavlovski, a Canadian tech entrepreneur who worked a brief internship at Microsoft and founded a viral-joke website before launching Rumble in 2013. And its traffic has exploded: According to data shared with The Washington Post by the analytics firm Similarweb, visits in the United States to the site grew from about 200,000 in the last week of July 2020 to nearly 19 million last week — a 9,000 percent increase. Though Rumble's audience size is still significantly smaller than YouTube's, the threat posed by Rumble to YouTube is real. Rumble's imminent merger with the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) CF Acquisition Corp. VI will effectively make Rumble a public company and is likely to arm it with far greater capital to compete even more robustly with YouTube. But the major obstacle to competing with Big Tech giants generally, and Google specifically, is that these companies have acquired such extreme market dominance in so many key areas of the internet that they abuse that power to prevent competition and crush any competitors who pose a challenge. That these four Big Tech giants are classic monopolies in violation of the antitrust law was the emphatic conclusion of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law's comprehensive 2020 report, a conclusion that now has ample support from leading members of both parties. The lawsuit brought by Rumble against Google is designed to ensure free and fair competition, so that the public is not effectively forced to use YouTube but can instead fairly choose among Google's competitors as well. The primary allegation is that Google abuses its power as the dominant search engine and destroys free competition for online video platforms by manipulating its algorithms to prevent YouTube's competitors, including Rumble, from being found by the public. Attempts to find Rumble videos through Google searches are purposely thwarted by burying Rumble's videos and instead redirecting the user to YouTube, the lawsuit alleges. Google's “chokehold on search is impenetrable, and that chokehold allows it to continue unfairly and unlawfully to self-preference YouTube over its rivals, including Rumble, and to monopolize the online video platform market.” I often am unable to find my own videos using Google's search engines even when I recall the title of the video more or less perfectly, and have frequently heard the same complaint from viewers. Further illegal monopolistic acts alleged by the complaint include Google's manufacturing of its Android phones with a pre-installed YouTube app as the default video setting, and imposing agreements on other Android-based mobile smart device manufacturers to pre-install YouTube, place it in the most prominent position, and prevent users from deleting it. The court summarized the alleged anti-competitive results of Google's behavior this way (citations omitted): [Google] “requires Android device manufacturers that want to preinstall certain of Google’s proprietary apps to sign an anti-forking agreement.” [Rumble] alleges that once an Android device manufacturer signs an anti-forking agreement, Google will only provide access to its vital proprietary apps and application program interfaces if the manufacturer agrees: “(1) to take (that is, pre-install) a bundle of other Google apps (such as its YouTube app); (2) to make certain apps undeletable (including its YouTube app); and (3) to give Google the most valuable and important location on the device’s default home screen (including for its YouTube app).” As another example, [Rumble] asserts that “Google provides share of its search advertising revenue to Android device manufacturers, mobile phone carriers, competing browsers, and Apple; in exchange, Google becomes the preset default general search engine for the most important search access points on a computer or mobile device.” And, by becoming the default general search engine, Google is able to continue its manipulation of video search results using its search engine to self-preference its YouTube platform, making sure that links to videos on the YouTube platform are listed above the fold on the search results page.” [Moreover], Google’s revenue sharing agreements allow it to maintain a monopoly in the general search market and online video platform market). As a result of the denial of Google's motion to dismiss the complaint, the lawsuit will now proceed to the discovery stage. After denying Google's request to dismiss the lawsuit prior to discovery, the judge scheduled a conference at which a discovery plan would be established. This phase of the lawsuit is when one party can obtain a broad range of documents from the other relevant to the claims of the lawsuit. The antitrust specialist Matt Stoller, Research Director of the American Economic Liberties Project, said about the ruling: “Getting past the motion to dismiss stage is quite meaningful, and depending on what turns up in discovery Google could be in serious trouble.” This ruling should enable Rumble to acquire and utilize extremely revealing documents about how Google exploits its algorithms to manipulate search results on its dominant search engine, as well the burdensome requirements it imposes on other companies dependent on Google's infrastructure to ensure prominent promotion of YouTube. Google did not respond to requests for comment on the judicial ruling. Rumble's statement was naturally celebratory: "We welcome the court’s decision, which is a significant step toward ending Google’s unlawful preferences for YouTube and helping to put creators first. We look forward to starting discovery." When Rumble first filed the suit, its founder and CEO, Chris Pavlovski, told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that the company's data specialists had determined that, with its search engine algorithmic manipulations, “Google has redirected up to 9.3 billion visitors to YouTube instead of to Rumble.” These anti-competitive practices by Google, he argued, destroy the possibility for innovation and competition: “Imagine being a tech entrepreneur trying to build an online video platform. You absolutely do not have a shot. You do not have a chance. You have pre-installed YouTube apps on phones. You have a rigged search engine. You have no ability to compete in this market.” Lawsuits like these have the ability to unite people across the political spectrum. Stoller, one of the nation's leading scholars on the question of Big Tech monopolistic dominance, noted that "the case leverages antitrust action by the government pursued under both Trump and Biden. It’s also notable that this ruling came from an Obama-appointed judge. Clearly concentrations of power worry both sides.” Regardless of whether one is an avid admirer of the modern iteration of capitalism, there is nothing to cheer when a tiny group of corporate giants can corner a market and prevent competition. That is particularly true when — as is obviously the case for Big Tech — the "market” in question is now the primary means by which Americans gather information, politically organize, receive and disseminate news, and question and debate the most consequential political controversies. The political and propagandistic aspects of these anti-competitive practices substantially elevate the public interest in fostering free and fair market competition. To allow a tiny number of tech giants to maintain a stranglehold on the digital public square is self-evidently dangerous, especially as they escalate their censorship regime, due to some combination of their own political interests, the demands of the majority political party in Washington, and the incessant grievances of their own work force. These dangers are not abstract. Perhaps they were most vividly seen in January, 2021, when Parler — designed as a free speech alternative to Facebook and Twitter — became the most-downloaded app in the country, fueled by anger over the pre-election censorship of the New York Post's reporting on Joe Biden's activities in Ukraine and China as well as the banishment of President Trump by a consortium of Big Tech giants. As soon as Parler rose to the top spot, Democratic politicians such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and censorship activists groups such as Sleeping Giants demanded that Google and Apple immediately remove Parler from their app stores, preventing any further downloading. Other Democratic lawmakers then demanded that Amazon Web Services, the dominant hosting company that had enabled Parler's website, terminate its agreement with Parler. Within forty-eight hours, all three Silicon Valley monopolies complied with these demands. Parler instantly went from the most popular app in the country — thanks to the free speech principles it upheld — to utterly crippled if not destroyed. It attempted to come back but never really recovered. That was as brute and stark a display of Big Tech's ability and willingness to destroy any successful competitors as one might imagine. And in the process, they not only abused their anti-competitive dominance to destroy one of their few successful competitors but also, heeding the demands of Democratic Party politicians, abolished one of the few significant venues on the internet where Americans could gather to freely question and dissent from the orthodoxies and pronouncements of their leaders. The New York Times, Jan, 10, 2021 There are other antitrust actions currently pending against the Big Tech giants from both private companies and, increasingly, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). But this suit from Rumble has enormous potential to open competition in the vital video uploading market and, perhaps even more importantly, shed substantial light on the extremely opaque and guarded algorithmic manipulations Google uses to force down the public's throat the content it wants them to see while hiding that which it does not want them to see. Tyler Durden Sat, 07/30/2022 - 14:30.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJul 30th, 2022