In today’s Outside the Box we resume our eight-part Strategic Investment Conference Speaker Series with my friend Niall Ferguson, senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford and the Center for European Studies at Harvard. Niall has a cautionary tale for us on the topic of social networks. The problem, in a nutshell: Facebook certainly made an impact last year, but not quite the impact the young Zuckerberg had in mind in his Harvard dorm. A committed believer in globalisation who tends to wear his liberal politics on his T-shirt sleeve, Zuckerberg is reeling. Not only did the masterminds behind the Brexit and Trump campaigns successfully use Facebook advertising to hone and target their ultimately victorious campaign messages; worse, the Russian government appears to have used Facebook in the same way, seeking to depress voter support for Hillary Clinton. Worse still, neo-Nazis seem to have been using the social network to spread their own distinctive brand of hate. Niall – ever the history prof – can’t help chiding Mr. Zuckerberg on his choice of majors at Harvard: Yet the architects of the biggest social networks to have existed should not have been surprised. If he had studied history at Harvard rather than psychology and computer science, Zuckerberg might have foreseen the ways in which Facebook and its ilk would be used and abused.
Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org, When the Dodge Charger of 20-year-old Nazi sympathizer James Alex Fields Jr., plunged into that crowd of protesters Saturday, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, Fields put Charlottesville on the map of modernity alongside Ferguson. Before Fields ran down the protesters, and then backed up, running down more, what was happening seemed but a bloody brawl between extremists on both sides of the issue of whether Robert E. Lee’s statue should be removed from Emancipation Park, formerly Lee Park. With Heyer’s death, the brawl was elevated to a moral issue. And President Donald Trump’s initial failure to denounce the neo-Nazi and Klan presence was declared a moral failure. How did we get here, and where are we going? In June of 2015, 21-year-old Dylann Roof gunned down nine Christians at an evening Bible study in Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church. A review of Roof’s selfies and website showed him posing with the Confederate battle flag. Gov. Nikki Haley, five years in office, instantly pivoted and called for removal of the battle flag from the Confederate war memorial on the State House grounds, as a ‘deeply offensive symbol of a brutally offensive past.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 15, 2017.
Uh, yeah, sure we can’t. Go read that folks. Now contemplate this: This law is completely unnecessary because the health industry has twice gone all the way to the Supreme Court to try to defend their abuses, once citing McCarran-Ferguson (in the late 1970s and early 1980s) and lost both times. I’ve cited these decisions multiple times on this page. Yet not only will the Federal and State governments not enforce the existing law The Senate has refused to take up this act which passed by near-unanimous consent in the House. The entirety of how the US Health System operates today is in rank violation of 100+ year old law, as I have repeatedly pointed out in these pages. Not only will the government not enforce existing law a few-sentence bill to make clear that such enforcement must take place can’t even get a hearing in the Senate.
Last week, I wrote an article titled The Ferguson Effect: Baltimore Millennials’ Worst Nightmare. The Ferguson Effect is a theory where the increased scrutiny of police post 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Trayvon Martin in Florida will lead to higher crime rates. Baltimore is turning this theory into a reality, as the city descends into chaos before summer start. According to The Baltimore Sun Newspaper, the city has logged in 118 homicides today with the projection of >400 murders for year’s end. It’s so bad here that Baltimore’s Mayor has asked the Federal Government for help in attempt to regain control. Even the police union sounds the alarm of an officer shortage leading to decrease in patrols. All of this is occurring as the Baltimore population declines, nearing a 100-year low, U. S. Census says.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 8, 2017.
That didn’t take long. Just a three days after Trump signed a new and revised travel ban executive order on Monday, his old nemesis, Washington state announced it will file a restraining order against the revamped travel ban, a move which, in a replica of the first immigration order fiasco, foreshadows a new legal showdown between the administration and a wave of challenges to the controversial executive order. Washington is not alone: Oregon and New York will join with other states are expected join the lawsuit in the upcoming days, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Thursday during a press conference. Washington state’s announcement comes just one day after Hawaii became the first state to sue Trump over the revised travel ban. A hearing on the suit is set for March 15, the day before Trump’s revised travel ban is scheduled to go into effect. According to NBC, Washington state will ask that a temporary injunction issued last month by a federal judge on Trump’s initial executive order apply to the newly revised travel ban. If again upheld, this would block federal employees nationwide from enforcing the travel ban. “It’s my duty, my responsibility to act. We’re not going to be bullied by threats and actions by the federal government,” Ferguson said adding “[Trump] cannot unilaterally declare himself free of the court’s restraining order and injunction.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 9, 2017.
Senator Rand Paul previously announced intent to file a bill that, among other things, would make legal price-fixing and collusion in the medical industry. The text of that bill is now available: (a) Application of the Federal Antitrust Laws to Health Care Professionals Negotiating With Health Plans.– (1) In general.–Any health care professionals who are engaged in negotiations with a health plan regarding the terms of any contract under which the professionals provide health care items or services for which benefits are provided under such plan shall, in connection with such negotiations, be exempt from the Federal antitrust laws. Let me point out, once again, why Rand included this in his bill. 15 United States Code Chapter 1 makes explicitly illegal any sort of price-fixing or collusion where market power exists. It provides both heavy civil ($10 to $100 million per instance) fines for persons and corporations, respectively, and in addition provides for felony criminal penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment. The insurance industry tried to argue in the 1970s that Mccarran-Ferguson, a law which provides limited exemptions to 15 USC for insurance firms, shielded them — and pharmacies –– from prosecution under these laws.
Following the latest dramatic twist in the ordeal surrounding Trump’s Immigration Executive Order, when on Friday night Seattle Federal Judge Robart (appointed by George W. Bush in 2003) blocked Trump’s travel ban from seven Muslim countries, the White House promptly responded by stating that it intends to file an emergency stay of this “outrageous order and defend the executive order of the President, which we believe is lawful and appropriate.”
Earlier, on Friday night, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson disagreed when he greeted Robart’s ruling saying ‘It is not the loudest voice that prevails on the Constitution,’ and added “we are a nation of laws, not even the president can violate the Constitution. It’s our president’s duty to honor this ruling and I’ll make sure he does.” And so, with Trump’s Executive Order now a constitutional matter and almost certainly headed to the Supreme Court, where the judicial opinion of Trump’s recent appointment Neil Gorsuch will soon be tested, on Saturday morning Trump wasted no time to attack “the opinion of so-called Judge” Robart, which Trump said “essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country” and warned the ruling “is ridiculous and will be overturned!” He prefaced this warning for a showdown by saying that “when a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot , come in & out, especially for reasons of safety &.security – big trouble!” and defending his decision by invoking other Middle-eastern nations who allegedly “agree with the ban” (using a word which Sean Spicer would have preferred he did not as he will be brutalized by the press corps for it on Monday). When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot , come in & out, especially for reasons of safety &.security – big trouble! – Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 4, 2017
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 4, 2017.
Update: Moments ago, the White House issued a statement saying the DOJ would, as expected, challenge the federal court’s ruling that halted travel ban “at the earliest possible time” and will file an emergency stay of Robart’s “outrageous order.” Expect angry Trump tweets to follow. Following a brief moment of ‘success’ for the Trump administration as a Boston judge ruled Trump’s immigration policy was not a Muslim ban, a Bush-appointed federal judge in Seattle, who said the states of Washington and Minnesota can sue claiming their residents were harmed by the ban, granted a nationwide temporary restraining order blocking Trump’s immigration ban. District Judge James Robart ruled the executive order would be stopped nationwide effective immediately: his ruling was the most comprehensive legal rebuke of Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order prohibiting immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Syria and four other nations from entering the U. S. for 90 days. Judges in Brooklyn, New York, Los Angeles and Alexandria, Virginia, had previouslyissued orders that are less sweeping. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson was delighted with the decision: ‘The Constitution prevailed today,’ Ferguson said in a statement after the ruling.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 3, 2017.
At least 36 organized Trump inauguration day protests have been scheduled in 18 states across the US on January 19, 20, and 21. In addition, 21 more protests have been scheduled in other countries around the globe. For the massive Women’s March on Washington, scheduled the day after Trump’s inauguration, it’s being reported that three times more bus permits have been requested for the protest than for the inauguration itself. Protesting is everyone’s naturally inherent right, enshrined in this country by our Bill of Rights. On this point, hopefully we all agree here. With that being said, however, where it goes south is the fact that color revolution starters like billionaire George Soros have been known to pay and bus in agent provocateurs to protests like these to take things well out of protest territory and into riots in the street with private property getting burned down and martial law declared coup territory. Soros not only helped fund what turned into the Ferguson riots after the highly publicized Michael Brown shooting, but new Soros front groups have already been tied to anti-Trump protests (protests which at times turned violent) during the election.
Former Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy on Sunday blamed the Black Lives Matter movement for causing an uptick in violent crime inside the country. According to The Hill, McCarthy blamed protests against police brutality in cities like Baltimore, Ferguson, Mo., and Charlotte, N. C., for creating a ‘political atmosphere of anti-police sentiment.’ ‘So what’s happening, and this is ironic, is that a movement with the goal of saving black lives at this point is getting black lives taken, because 80 percent of our murder victims here in Chicago are male blacks,’ McCarthy said during a radio interview with John Catsimatidis on AM 970 in New York on Sunday.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 2, 2017.
Washington is suing agrichemical giant Monsanto over pollution from polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). It is the first state to file such a suit, joining cities including Portland, Oregon, and Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose, Long Beach, and San Diego in California. Those cases are ongoing. Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced the lawsuit at a news conference Thursday afternoon. The PCBs were used in many industrial and commercial applications, including in paint, coolants, sealants, and hydraulic fluids. PCB contamination impacts rivers, lakes, and bays around the US. Monsanto was the sole producer of PCBs between 1935 and 1979, when Congress banned them.
Two months ago, Charlotte police confirmed that 70% of those arrested during the riots were from out-of-state. 18 months before that, as the riots flared in Ferguson, George Soros spurred the protest movement through years of funding and mobilizing groups across the U. S., according to financial records reviewed by The Washington Times. And now, amid more headlines of Soros’ involvement, KGW reports that more than half of the anti-Trump protesters arrested in Portland were from out of state. At least sixty-nine demonstrators either didn’t turn in a ballot or weren’t registered to vote in the state. KGW compiled a list of the 112 people arrested by the Portland Police Bureau during recent protests. Those names and ages, provided by police, were then compared to state voter logs by Multnomah County Elections officials. Records show 34 of the protesters arrested didn’t return a ballot for the November 8 election. Thirty-five of the demonstrators taken into custody weren’t registered to vote in Oregon.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 15, 2016.
Just when you thought it was safe to selfie you latest WalMart-looting or molotov-cocktail-throwing night out, think again. According to the ACLU, law enforcement officials implemented a far-reaching surveillance program to track protesters in both Ferguson and Baltimore during their recent uprisings and relied on special feeds of user data provided by three top social media companies: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The ACLU of California has obtained records showing that Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram provided user data access to Geofeedia, a developer of a social media monitoring product that we have seen marketed to law enforcement as a tool to monitor activists and protesters. We are pleased that after we reported our findings to the companies, Instagram cut off Geofeedia’s access to public user posts, and Facebook has cut its access to a topic-based feed of public user posts. Twitter has also taken some recent steps to rein in Geofeedia though it has not ended the data relationship. Further steps are required if these companies are to live up to their principles and policies by protecting users of all backgrounds engaging in political and social discourse.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 11, 2016.
Back in August we noted the research of Thomas Abt, senior research fellow with the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, which indicated that rising crime rates around the country were likely the result of what other political commentators have dubbed “the Ferguson Effect.” Writing for The Marshall Project, Abt discussed a “phenomenon called legal cynicism” in which he argues that communities tend to become increasingly violent when the police and criminal justice system is viewed as “illegitimate” effectively eroding the implicit authority of cops to enforce the law. It is unclear what is driving the problem, but my own hunch – and it is still just a hunch at this point -involves a criminological phenomenon called legal cynicism. Multiple studies have demonstrated that, controlling for other factors, when communities view the police and criminal justice system as illegitimate, they become more violent. When people believe the system is unwilling or unable to help them, they are more likely to take the law into their own hands, creating the cycles of violent retribution that were chronicled so vividly last year in Jill Leovy’s Ghettoside.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 8, 2016.
Last week, a prominent 29-year-old anti-police state Ferguson activist named Darren Seals was found murdered. He had been shot and left in a burning car in St. Louis in the middle of the night. Further details have not been released by police who cite their ongoing investigation. But what hasn’t been brought up in the mainstream media is just how much of a vocal opponent of the co-opted, George Soros funded Black Lives Matter movement and its ‘leaders’ Seals was. In fact, he referred to them as ‘Black Lies Matter’.
While the recent wave of violence in Milwaukee can be written off as an ephemeral reaction to another fatal police shooting (see “One Person Shot, Officer Injured In Second Night Of Milwaukee Violence Despite State Of Emergency“) it is quite clear that long-term trends suggest that violent crimes are on the rise in metropolitan areas of the Midwest. As can be seen by data compiled by the Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee homicides went vertical in 2015, up 69% YoY and over 100% since the recent low recorded in 2007. In fact, in 2015 Milwaukee endured the highest number of homicides since 1993, a 22-year record high. Similarly disturbing increases in violence are playing out in Chicago neighborhoods as we’ve noted on numerous occasions (see “Chicago Records Deadliest Day In 13 Years As City Spirals Out Of Control” and “Chicago Suffers Deadliest May In 21 Years“). The key question is why the spike in violence now? Ask any “expert” to explain the cause of violent crime and you’ll get a range of responses from systemic problems of poverty, unemployment, lack of education of inner city youth, breakdown of the family unit, etc. The problem is that none of those things explain the sudden changes in violence we’re currently witnessing in the Midwest. Thomas Abt, senior research fellow with the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, believes the issue is more likely what other political commentators have dubbed “the Ferguson Effect.” Writing for The Marshall Project, Abt discussed what he thought might be causing the sudden spike in violent crimes in the Midwest:
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 16, 2016.
The airwaves are full of pundits screaming about violence against police officers. These are the same pundits that disregarded the warnings of experts in the field of insurgency when the Ferguson riots broke out and chose to dismiss the rioters as ‘thugs.’ They continued to cheerlead for more police militarization even after the first officers were shot in targeted killings. They are now continuing their efforts to support police militarization. Those of us that warned of this last year, have watched in horror as all of our predictions came true. We are now in the fourth stage of the cycle of insurgency. The fifth stage is open insurrection. It is time for officers to dismiss the pundits on Fox News that have never held a firearm outside of a range and listen to people that know what they are talking about. None of us that have made these warnings did so because these are things we want to happen, we did it in an attempt to stop them from happening. A year after my first article on the subject, every single prediction has come true. Can the pundits on Fox News say that? No, and listening to their rhetoric has caused more cops and innocents to die. To understand where we are headed, we have to know what has already happened. For a bit of background, review a brief synopsis of the cycle of insurgency from an article written in August of 2014: Pamphlets: Prior to the digital age, pamphlets were the main method of spreading dissent around the world. The pamphlets examined and questioned the authority of the contemporary governments and control systems. In the modern world, pamphlets have been replaced by blogs, memes, social media, and to a smaller degree, adversarial journalists. Reactive Protests: Once the seed of dissent is planted, people take to the streets to voice their opposition to the government. These protests occur after the control systems of the era attempt to diffuse an offending incident.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 10, 2016.
At this point I’d like to remind everyone that crime in the U. S. has been dropping since the 1990′s. So why has domestic police force militarization been growing exponentially since then? Ostensibly, it is for the ‘war on terror’ and to keep us safe. In reality, we know this is bullshit. Just like the NSA’s unconstitutional spying hasn’t stopped a single terrorist attack, turning local cops into a domestic army hasn’t done a single thing to make us safe. To the contrary, it is creating an environment where the general public harbors increased resentment and skepticism toward police, and the police view the citizenry as the ‘enemy.’ This takes the societal tinderbox that already exists and makes it downright explosive. Ferguson is just the latest example of the tension bubbling to the surface, but there will likely be many more in the future. – From the 2014 post: ‘A Good Time Was Had By All’ – The Obamas Dance the Night Away as Ferguson, Missouri Burns
At this point I’d like to remind everyone that crime in the U. S. has been dropping since the 1990′s. So why has domestic police force militarization been growing exponentially since then? Ostensibly, it is for the ‘war on terror’ and to keep us safe. In reality, we know this is bullshit. Just like the NSA’s unconstitutional spying hasn’t stopped a single terrorist attack, turning local cops into a domestic army hasn’t done a single thing to make us safe. To the contrary, it is creating an environment where the general public harbors increased resentment and skepticism toward police, and the police view the citizenry as the ‘enemy.’ This takes the societal tinderbox that already exists and makes it downright explosive. Ferguson is just the latest example of the tension bubbling to the surface, but there will likely be many more in the future. – From the 2014 post: ‘A Good Time Was Had By All’ – The Obamas Dance the Night Away as Ferguson, Missouri Burns Last spring, I highlighted the egregious and barbaric shooting of Walter L. Scott as he fled from a South Charleston, South Carolina police officer. In light of recent events, it’s crucial to recall the sordid details of this case. As such, here’s a excerpt from the post, South Carolina Cop to Be Charged with Murder for Shooting Man 8 Times in the Back as He Ran Away: