Will War Cancel Trump’s Triumphs?

Asked what he did during the French Revolution, Abbe Sieyes replied, ‘I survived.’
Donald Trump can make the same boast.
No other political figure has so dominated our discourse. And none, not Joe McCarthy in his heyday in the early ’50s, nor Richard Nixon in Watergate, received such intensive and intemperate coverage and commentary as has our 45th president.
Whatever one may think of Trump, he is a leader and a fighter, not a quitter. How many politicians could have sustained the beatings Trump has taken, and remained as cocky and confident?
And looking back on what may fairly be called The Year of Trump, his achievements have surprised even some of his enemies.
With the U. S. military given a freer hand by Trump, a U. S.-led coalition helped expel ISIS from its twin capitals of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq, driving it back into a desert enclave on the Iraq-Syria border. The caliphate is dead, and the caliph nowhere to be found.
The economy, with the boot of Barack Obama off its neck, has been growing at 3 percent. The stock market has soared to record highs. Unemployment is down to 4 percent. And Trump and Congress just passed the largest tax cut since Ronald Reagan.
With deregulation, which conservative Republicans preached to deaf ears in the Bush I and Bush II eras, Trump and those he has put into positions of power have exceeded expectations.
Pipelines Obama blocked have been approved. Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuge has been opened to exploratory drilling. We have exited a Paris climate accord that favored China over the U. S.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Fri, 12/29/2017 –.

Trump To Rollback Deepwater Horizon Regulations

The Trump administration is hoping to slash regulations on offshore oil drilling that were implemented after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed nearly a dozen people and led to an oil leak that spewed for months.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), which is the agency housed in the Interior Department that regulates offshore oil drilling, is proposing a rollback of a series of changes made after the 2010 disaster.
BSEE says that the cuts will save the oil industry $900 million over ten years. The proposal has not been made public, but the WSJ reports that some of the changes include easing rules that require the streaming of real-time data of oil production operations to facilities onshore, which allows regulators to see what is going on. Another rule that would be removed requires third-party inspectors of equipment, such as the blowout preventer, to receive certification by BSEE.
Another example includes alterations to the ‘well-control rule,’ one of the signature regulations that was implemented by the Obama administration after years of review following BP’s oil spill. The well-control rule required the use of certain safety equipment and operations intended to reduce the risk of another disaster.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 27, 2017.

Post-Deepwater-Horizon Regulations Get Rolled Back

‘They’re blocking research into the risks. What is Secretary Zinke afraid of?’
By Nick Cunningham, Oilprice.com: The Trump administration is hoping to slash regulations on offshore oil drilling that were implemented after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed nearly a dozen people and led to an oil leak that spewed for months.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), which is the agency housed in the Interior Department that regulates offshore oil drilling, is proposing a rollback of a series of changes made after the 2010 disaster.
BSEE says that the cuts will save the oil industry $900 million over ten years. The proposal has not been made public, but the WSJ reports that some of the changes include easing rules that require the streaming of real-time data of oil production operations to facilities onshore, which allows regulators to see what is going on. Another rule that would be removed requires third-party inspectors of equipment, such as the blowout preventer, to receive certification by BSEE.

This post was published at Wolf Street on Dec 27, 2017.

Next Phase in Forcing Biometric Tracking on Consumers

Ironically, banks in Mexico lead the way. In 2018, banks in Mexico will face new regulations that will oblige them to collect biometric data (finger prints and iris scans) on all of their customers. Whenever a customer asks for a new home or car loan, cashes in a paycheck, applies for a credit card or opens a new savings account, the bank in question will have to request the customer’s digital fingerprints and then match those fingerprints with data against information in the database of the National Electoral Institute.
Foreign-owned subsidiaries of global banks like BBVA and Citi are thrilled with the initiative arguing that it will help them combat identity theft. Most high street lenders in Mexico have already agreed to help build a single biometric database, says Marcos Martnez, president of Mexico’s Banking Association (ABM).
The ultimate goal is to develop a unique identification system that will work alongside the government’s national ID scheme, which is in the final stages of development. According to the former Secretary of Finance and Public Credit (and now presidential candidate for the governing PRI party), Jos Antonio Meade, by the summer of 2018 all Mexicans will have a single biometric identification number.

This post was published at Wolf Street by Don Quijones ‘ Dec 23, 2017.

In Latest Blow For Uber, EU High Court Rules Company Must Be Regulated As Taxi Service

In another major blow to Uber’s ability to operate profitably within the European Union, the EU’s highest court ruled on Wednesday that the ride-hailing app company is, in fact, a transportation company, and its drivers should be subjected to all pertinent regulations for taxi and livery-cab drivers. The decision opens the US ride-hailing app up to tougher national regulation in Europe’s 28 member states. The judgment effectively shifts Uber’s legal status from a digital company to a transportation company, giving it less freedom from regulation in the EU’s single market, according to the Financial Times.
What’s worse, the final ruling from Luxembourg judges cannot be appealed and follows a preliminary ECJ opinion earlier this year that said Uber was more than a ‘mere intermediary’ for customers trying to hail a cab, despite its use of mobile technology.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 20, 2017.

The medical CIA: how environmental destruction magically becomes a medical disease

‘To handle all that [pig-farm feces] waste, farmers in North Carolina use a standard practice called the lagoon and spray field system. They flush feces and urine from barns into open-air pits called lagoons, which turn the color of Pepto-Bismol when pink-colored bacteria colonize the waste. To keep the lagoons from overflowing, farmers spray liquid manure on their fields nearby. The result, says Steve Wing, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is this: ‘The eastern part of North Carolina is covered with shit’.’ -National Geographic, 10/30/14
The above quote describes corporate pig farming around the world.
In order to carry out this operation, giant companies like Smithfield have influenced legislators and government-agency officials. Environmental laws and regulations are ignored, or changed. Lawsuits are fought, hammer and tongs.
Here is what Robert F Kennedy Jr. told radio interviewer, Rachel Lewis Hilburn on 6/3/16:
‘…a hog produces ten times the amount of fecal waste by weight as a human being, so if you have a facility that has ten thousand hogs in it, it’s producing as much sewage as a city of a hundred thousand people. Smithfield has one plant in Utah – they call it Circle Four Farms – that has a million hogs on it, so it’s producing the same amount of waste as New York City every day.’

This post was published at Jon Rappoport on December 20, 2017.

‘Border control’ as pretext for drug dragnet

The latest so-called ‘Privacy Impact Assessment ‘ (PIA) made public by the US Department of Homeland Security, ‘CBP License Plate Reader Technology’, provides unsurprising but disturbing details about how the US government’s phobias about foreigners and drugs are driving (pun intended) the convergence of bordersurveillance and dragnet surveillance of the movements of private vehicles within the USA.
The main reason for the publication of the CBP License Plate Reader Technology PIA is to provide the public with ‘notice that CBP is partnering with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to leverage each other’s .. LPR [License Plate Reader] systems.’
Since at least 2007, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has had a network of license plate readers continuously monitoring and recording the license plate numbers and locations of vehicles near US borders. ‘Near’ and ‘border’ in this context are euphemisms: Federal regulations define the ‘border’ zone for purposes of CBP authority as including anywhere within 100 miles of any US border or seacoast, which puts roughly two-thirds of the US population within ‘border’ regions.

This post was published at Papers Please on DEC 19 2017.

FACT CHECK: HAVE FEDERAL REGULATIONS INCREASED NINEFOLD SINCE 1960?

President Donald Trump claimed Thursday that the page count of federal regulations has increased over ninefold since 1960.
‘In 1960, there were approximately 20,000 pages in the Code of Federal Regulations,’ said Trump during remarks at the White House. ‘Today, there are over 185,000 pages.’
Verdict: True
Pages in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) illustrate how federal rules – some of which don’t impact businesses – have grown over time.
Fact Check:
The CFR is the collection of all final rules and regulations issued by federal agencies. Historical tables produced by the Office of the Federal Register show how these rules have grown in recent decades.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on DECEMBER 18, 2017.

The Death Of Europe’s Coal Industry

Authored by Nick Cunningham via OilPrice.com,
More than half of Europe’s coal plants are already bleeding cash, but by 2030, the percentage of coal plants in Europe that report negative cash flow could explode to an estimated 97 percent.
Those findings come from a new report by the Carbon Tracker Initiative, which paints a dire picture for the economics of coal after surveying 600 power plants in Europe.
To be sure, coal has been hit hard over the past half-decade or so due to a variety of forces – falling costs for renewables, air quality and climate regulations, as well as the policy shift in Germany away from nuclear following the 2011 Fukushima meltdown.
However, coal has held onto its grip in the power sector, even if its position has weakened. Germany still generates about 40 percent of its electricity from coal.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 15, 2017.

Drugmaker Raises The Price Of Vitamins By 800%, Makes Shkreli Blush

Avondale, a secretive Alabama-based drugmaker, has gained unwanted national attention after the company increased the price of a bottle of vitamins to almost $300 that can be bought on the internet for $5.
In the latest example of price-gouging in America’s lightly regulated pharmaceutical industry, records show Avondale inflated the price of Niacor, a prescription-only version of niacin, by ‘809 percent last month, taking a bottle of 100 tablets from $32.46 to $295’, according to the Financial Times.
Niacor is the prescription form of niacin, a type of vitamin B3 that is used to treat high cholesterol and the increased risk of a heart attack. With one easy search on Google, a generic version of Niacor can be bought for $5.75 on Jet.com – meanwhile, if the consumer wants the prescription brand, well, they might have to sell their Apple Watch.
Avondale’s development of price-gouging is certainly bad timing on management’s behalf when considering Martin Shkreli, who in the past year has become the most hated man in America after he bought the rights to a drug, then raised prices by 5,500 percent. In the world of Big Pharma, buy-and-raise schemes are not limited to just Shkreli, but it’s rampant across the industry, such as Valeant Pharmaceuticals who has been accused of raising drug prices by more than 5,000 percent.
The Financial Times said Avondale acquired the rights to Niacor from Upsher Smith, a division of Japan’s Sawai Pharmaceutical, earlier this year. The buy-and-raise scheme was immediately applied to Niacor, as management faced little or no competition among other drugmakers, along with limited government regulation.
Niacor isn’t the first time the company inflated drug prices, management ‘increased the price of SSKI by 2,469 percent, taking a 30ml bottle from $11.48 to $295,’ according to the Financial Times.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 15, 2017.

With FCC’s Net Neutrality Ruling, the US Could Lose Its Lead in Online Consumer Protection

The internet may be an international system of interconnecting networks sharing a rough global consensus about the technical details of communicating through them – but each country manages its own internet environment independently. As the US debate about the role of government in overseeing and regulating the internet continues, it’s worth looking at how other countries handle the issue.
Our research and advocacy on internet regulation in the US and other countries offers us a unique historical and global perspective on the Federal Communications Commission’s December 2017 decision to deregulate the internet in the US The principle of an open internet, often called ‘net neutrality,’ is one of consumer protection. It is based on the idea that everyone – users and content providers alike – should be able to freely spread their own views, and consumers can choose what services to use and what content to consume. Network neutrality ensures that no one – not the government, nor corporations – is allowed to censor speech or interfere with content, services or applications.
As the US continues to debate whether to embrace internet freedom, the world is doing so already, with many countries imposing even stronger rules than the ones the FCC did away with.

This post was published at FinancialSense on 12/15/2017.

Video: Leftists Embrace Domestic Terrorism, Call For Assassination Of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Over Repeal Of Net Neutrality Rules

The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to ‘dismantle’ Obama-era rules that regulated the businesses that connect Americans to the internet in a move that the left has breathlessly attacked since its announcement.
The so-called net neutrality regulations were supposedly put in place to prohibit broadband providers from blocking websites and or charging consumers for higher-quality services or to watch certain content such as Netflix.

This post was published at shtfplan on December 15th, 2017.

Banks Demand 11th-hour Reprieve On Key Part Of MiFID II

The clock is ticking down and there are only about three weeks to go before the dreaded MiFID II regulatory structure is implemented on 3 January 2018. While it’s been difficult to judge the industry’s preparedness for the change, several aspects of the new regulations have attracted the most debate and concern. These have included transaction reporting, unbudling of research costs and whether institutional investors will absorb the costs or pass them on to their clients and trade identifiers. As the deadline nears, one of these issues – Legal Entity Identifiers (LEI) – has assumed more significance than the others.
The enforcement of LEI’s to identify legal entities is targeting increased market transparency via audit trails. Each market participant will need its own 20-character ‘alphanumeric code’ and the relevant codes for buyers, sellers and issuers of the security will be required to complete a trade.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 15, 2017.

No Neutral Ground: The Problem of Net Neutrality

On November 21, the Federal Communications Commission announced plans to revisit its Obama-era internet regulations. It seems likely that the resulting vote will repeal the policies often referred to as net neutrality. The name is, perhaps, misleading; to support net neutrality is to support placing the internet more fully under government supervision. The related political debate often divides traditional allies with arguments for free expression pitted against defenses of small government.
To understand net neutrality, one must see its position in technical history. Traditionally, internet service providers (ISPs), such as Comcast and Verizon, have guaranteed their customers a certain quantity of bandwidth – that is, a certain amount of data per unit of time. It was assumed that even a voracious user would rarely use his maximum bandwidth, and services were priced under this assumption. ISPs also de facto allowed customers to access whatever websites they wished; while there was no legal protection for this behavior, technical complexities made discrimination by website infeasible. The result was a largely open web: anyone with a blog could potentially reach millions.
In the early 2000s, the situation changed. Technological innovations enabled providers to determine which site a user visited and so potentially to restrict access. In principle, an ISP could now sell ‘packages’ of websites, in a fashion resembling cable television: ‘basic internet’ for news and Facebook, say, or ‘premium internet’ for those who wanted more. These years also saw the rising popularity of streaming video services like Netflix and YouTube. Users now binge-watched videos, consuming their maximum available bandwidth for hours at a stretch. Such trends increased costs for the ISPs, leading them to investigate new responses: restricted access to high-usage sites, artificially slow downloads, and so on.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on December 13, 2017.

Chinese Banks Push Back On Shadow Banking Regulations – Expose “Catch-22” For Financial System

In November, we discussed how the post-Party Congress measures to deleverage and crackdown on the worst abuses in China’s credit bubble took an important step forward with the announcement of a new era of regulation for China’s $15 trillion shadow banking and asset management industry. See “A New Era In Chinese Regulation Means Turmoil For $15 Trillion In China’s Shadows”. In particular, the authorities turned their sights on wealth management products (WMPs).
***
On the way out are ‘guaranteed returns’ and ‘capital pools’ which had turned the $4 trillion sector into a leveraged Ponzi scheme. We joked that in a ‘radical and shocking’ departure from the norm, financial institutions would have to offer yields based on the risk and returns of the underlying assets. Paying out guaranteed returns with new funds from depositors would no longer be allowed.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 11, 2017.

Silicone Valley’s ‘Working Homeless’ Shows How Hard Life Is In ‘Democrat’s Paradise’

Silicone Valley is the home to tech giants like Facebook, Apple, and Google. It’s also home to a surging working homeless population who live in dilapidated RV’s, tents, and their own cars, all thanks to the policies Democrats love to implement.
The surging number of those working in Silicone Valley and still unable to afford adequate housing should be a warning about big government, but it sure doesn’t seem like anyone is taking notice as their taxes continue to rise. As governments creep toward socialism though, poverty becomes the norm, not the exception. Silicon Valley has the highest median income in the nation. But a soaring tax burden and expensive regulations have caused housing prices to increase which has also caused homelessness to surge.
More than 10,000 people were living without shelter across San Jose and Santa Clara Counties on any given night in 2016, though that figure is probably low. Thanks to big government, the cost of living is not low. An influx of tech workers along with decades of under-building (thanks again to the regulations of big government) has created a historic homelessness in the Bay Area.

This post was published at shtfplan on December 7th, 2017.

Why Is An Appendectomy In The United States 10 Times More Expensive Than An Appendectomy In Mexico?

This is what can happen when you go to a socialized healthcare system. A lot of people out there believe that the United States has a free market healthcare system, but that is actually not true. The percentage of the population that receives government-subsidized healthcare is rapidly approaching 50 percent, and the healthcare industry may be the most heavily regulated sector of the entire U. S. economy. Every year the rules, red tape and regulations seem to get even worse, and every year health insurance premiums rise much faster than the overall rate of inflation. If we don’t start applying free market principles and start getting healthcare costs under control, our entire healthcare system could very easily implode.
I would like to share with you an excerpt from an article by former DEA agent David Hathaway. According to Hathaway, the average cost for an appendectomy in the United States is $33,000…
My son had an attack of appendicitis late Saturday night. I knew that the Obamacare inflated prices for surgery in the U. S. would be ridiculous and that the service would likely be impersonal, involve long waits, and be nerve-wracking. I have friends in the medical field so I inquired just for grins. The price for the latest routine appendectomy in my area was, my jaw dropped, $43,000. I read on-line that the average cost for an appendectomy in the U. S. is $33,000. I am not near some of the great direct-pay medical facilities in the U. S. like the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, but I am near Mexico. I chose that option since I have often utilized foreign medical and dental facilities in the past and find the service and prices to be outstanding.
You can buy a very nice brand new car for $33,000.

This post was published at The Economic Collapse Blog on December 4th, 2017.

30/11/17: Efficiency of Enforcement vs Volume of Regulation

Yesterday, in our class on Economics, we talked about the distinction between regulation (volume of rules) and efficient enforcement (monitoring, investigatory, enforcement and pre-emptive functions of regulatory authorities). As an example, we referenced the repeated chain of customer-level scandals at the Wells Fargo Bank.
Here is the latest scandal, unveiled earlier this week that I mentioned:
From our stand point, this case is really pushing the gap between regulation and enforcement out into new widths. Previous scandals, e.g. false accounts being created by bank employees, were harder to detect, pre-emptively, from regulatory point of view. The latest one was out in plain view for any supervisor/regulator to spot.

This post was published at True Economics on Thursday, November 30, 2017.

GOVERNMENT REGULATION OF SOCIAL MEDIA WOULD BE A ‘CURE’ FAR WORSE THAN THE DISEASE

In recent weeks, Congress has grilled Twitter, Facebook and Google about their role in allowing foreign interests to place ads and articles intended to divide the electorate and spread false information during the 2016 election.
Now a number of people in and out of government are calling for federal regulation of social media.
Lay down some rules, the thinking goes, and we would be able to prevent the infestation of bots and fake news from our news feeds and ads. Democracy would be saved – or, at least, foreign interference in our elections kept in check.
However, as someone who has studied and taught the First Amendmentfor decades, I would argue that if such regulations were enacted, the main victims would be not the purveyors of fake news, but our freedom of expression. In my view, the result would do far more damage to our democracy than any foreign misinformation campaign ever could.
Free speech being attacked from all sides
The First Amendment is under a lot of duress.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on NOVEMBER 28, 2017.