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Freedom For The Speech We Hate: The Legal Ins & Outs Of The Right To Protest

August 23, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought — not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.”

 

– Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

James Madison, the father of the Constitution, was very clear about the fact that he wrote the First Amendment to protect the minority against the majority.

What Madison meant by minority is “offensive speech.”

Unfortunately, we don’t honor that principle as much as we should today. In fact, we seem to be witnessing a politically correct philosophy at play, one shared by both the extreme left and the extreme right, which aims to stifle all expression that doesn’t fit within their parameters of what they consider to be “acceptable” speech.

As a result, we have seen the caging of free speech in recent years, through the use of so-called “free speech zones” on college campuses and at political events, the requirement of speech permits in parks and community gatherings, and the policing of online forums.

Instead of encouraging people to debate issues and air their views, by muzzling free speech, we are contributing to a growing underclass of Americans who are being told that they can’t take part in American public life unless they “fit in.”

This attempt to stifle certain forms of speech is where we go wrong.

As always, knowledge is key.

The following Constitutional Q&A, available in more detail at The Rutherford Institute (www.rutherford.org), is a good starting point.

Q:        PROTEST?

A:         The First Amendment prohibits the government from “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Protesting is an exercise of these constitutional rights because it involves speaking out, by individual people or those assembled in groups, about matters of public interest and concern.

 

Q:        WHERE AM I ALLOWED TO PROTEST?

A:         The right to protest generally extends to public places that are owned and controlled by the government, although not all government-owned property is available for exercising speech and assembly rights. Places historically associated with the free exercise of expressive activities, such as streets, sidewalks and parks, are traditional public forums and the government’s power to limit speech and assembly in those places is very limited. However, expression and assembly in traditional public forums may be limited by reasonable time, place and manner regulations. Examples of reasonable regulations include restrictions on the volume of sound produced by the activity or a prohibition on impeding vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

 

Q:        CAN MY FREE SPEECH BE RESTRICTED BECAUSE OF WHAT I SAY, EVEN IF IT IS CONTROVERSIAL?

A:         No, the First Amendment protects speech even if most people would find it offensive, hurtful or hateful. Speech generally cannot be banned based upon its content or viewpoint because it is not up to the government to determine what can and cannot be said. A bedrock principle of the First Amendment is that the government may not prohibit expression of an idea because society finds it offensive or disagreeable. Also, protest speech also cannot be banned because of a fear that others may react violently to the speech.  Demonstrators cannot be punished or forbidden from speaking because they might offend a hostile mob. The Supreme Court has held that a “heckler’s veto” has no place in First Amendment law.

 

Q:        DO I NEED A PERMIT IN ORDER TO CONDUCT A PROTEST?

A:         As a general rule, no. The government cannot require that individuals or small groups obtain a permit in order to speak or protest in a public forum. However, if persons or organizations want to hold larger rallies and demonstrations, they may be required by local laws to obtain a permit.

 

Q:        WHAT CAN’T I DO IN EXERCISING MY RIGHTS TO PROTEST?

A:         The First Amendment protects the right to conduct a peaceful public assembly. The First Amendment does not provide the right to conduct a gathering at which there is a clear and present danger of riot, disorder, interference with traffic on public streets or other immediate threat to public safety.

 

Q:      AM I ALLOWED TO CARRY A WEAPON OR FIREARM AT DEMONSTRATION OR PROTEST?

A:         Your right to have a weapon at a protest largely depends state law and is unlikely to be protected by the First Amendment. Not all conduct can be considered “speech” protected by the First Amendment even if the person engaging in the conduct intends to express an idea. Most courts have held that the act of openly carrying a weapon or firearm is not expression protected by the First Amendment. That said, even if possession of weapons is allowed, their presence at demonstrations and rallies can be intimidating and provocative and does not help in achieving a civil and peaceful discourse on issues of public interest and concern.

 

Q:        WHAT CAN’T THE POLICE DO IN RESPONDING TO PROTESTERS?

A:         In recent history, challenges to the right to protest have come in many forms. In some cases, police have cracked down on demonstrations by declaring them “unlawful assemblies” or through mass arrests, illegal use of force or curfews. Elsewhere, expression is limited by corralling protesters into so-called “free-speech zones.” New surveillance technologies are increasingly turned on innocent people, collecting information on their activities by virtue of their association with or proximity to a given protest. Even without active obstruction of the right to protest, police-inspired intimidation and fear can chill expressive activity and result in self-censorship. All of these things violate the First Amendment and are things the police cannot do to censor free speech. Unless the assembly is violent or violence is clearly imminent, the police have limited authority under the law to shut down protesters.

Clearly, as evidenced by the recent tensions in Charlottesville, Va., we’re at a crossroads concerning the constitutional right to free speech.

Yet as Benjamin Franklin warned, “Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, ensuring freedom for those in the unpopular minority constitutes the ultimate tolerance in a free society.

If ever there were a time for us to stand up for the right to speak freely, even if it’s freedom for speech we hate, the time is now.

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For First Time Ever, Mutual Funds Slash Uber Valuation By Up To 15%

August 23, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Exactly two weeks ago, we asked if Uber – the world’s most valuable private company – is heading for a valuation-crushing, 40% discount down-round.

 

Some of our arguments were the following:

  • First, those hoping for a ‘return of the king’ moment were disappointed after it was confirmed that Travis Kalanick isn’t coming back.
  • Second, the hot money is flowing to Uber’s rivals. DiDi Chuxing, China’s largest ride-hailing firm, has invested in Middle East online taxi service Careem in a new partnership deal that marks Didi’s latest international expansion against rival Uber
  • Third, WSJ recently reported that Uber plans to wind down its U.S. subprime car-leasing division to stem unsustainably high losses
  • Finally, according to recent press reports SoftBank was considering buying Uber shares from Benchmark with The Information noting that the transaction would value Uber at between $40 billion and $45 billion, a 33%-40% drop from the firm’s latest $68 billion private round valuation.

Two weeks later, we are already half way there because as the WSJ reports, at least four mutual-funds have marked down their investments in Uber by as much as 15% –  the first ever price cuts that,  suggesting that the endless volley of scandals and bad news chasing the ridesharing company has finally caught up with it. 

Vanguard Group, Principal and Hartford Funds all marked down their shares by 15% to $41.46 a share for the quarter ended June 30, according to the fund companies’ latest disclosure documents. T. Rowe Price Group Inc. TROW 1.51% cut the estimated price of its Uber shares by about 12% to $42.70 for the same period.

Since Uber shares don’t trade publicly (yet, maybe never) mutual-fund holders must estimate the shares’ worth each quarter and mark them to estimate. According to the WSJ, seven mutual-fund companies had mostly maintained a $48.77 share price since the fourth quarter of 2015, when Uber first sold its shares to investors at that price.

Mutual-fund companies determine the valuations for closely held companies by a special committee that sits apart from the portfolio managers who buy and sell stocks. To value illiquid shares, such committees typically look to a company’s financial information, the value of publicly traded rivals, and share prices paid by investors in previous funding rounds.

Meanwhile, with Uber’s dirty laundry in danger of being “discovered” following the recent lawsuit by early investor Benchmark, the company’s search for a replacement to Kalanick appears to have hit a roadblock. Worse, since the latest legal feud began earlier this month subsequent to the mutual-fund filings’ June 30 ending date, and has since spiraled into a broader battle among shareholders, it is likely that even more acute writedowns will be taken in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the most troubling news for Uber is neither who sits in the corner office, nor how many lawsuits it is waging, but its persistent and unrelenting cash burn.

Amid all the controversies, Uber has sought to shore up its financials after reporting a loss of more than $3 billion last year and $708 million in the first quarter, according to people familiar with the matter. The company in July combined its money-losing Russian operations with Yandex NV’s Yandex. Taxi, the more popular ride-hailing firm there. Uber is also winding down its U.S. subprime auto-leasing business after realizing losses per vehicle were $9,000 on average, 18 times what was previously believed, according to people familiar with the matter.

To be sure, Uber has some time before it has to panic: the company had about $7 billion in cash at the end of Q1, and its revenue totaled over $3 billion in the three-month period, up 18% from the fourth quarter. Of course, by the time Uber’s balance sheet becomes a matter of attention, the company’s valuation will be a shadow of its $68 billion peak. That would be bad news for at least seven mutual-fund companies who own shares in Uber.

Several of them first buying in during a 2014 funding around at $15.51 a share. The price has roughly tripled since then through a series of funding rounds, but Uber hasn’t raised new capital since last year at the $48.77 price.

And now it’s time for the dreaded down-rounds.

Of course, should the world’s “most valuable private company” fail to go public before its first down round, it would have a huge chilling effect on the rest of the VC and IPO market. Meanwhile, even as most “Unicorns” have opted to stay private for now amid a pullback in startup funding and questions about overheated valuations, some companies backed by mutual funds have recently dared to IPO with largely adverse consequences. These include Snap, whose stock has fallen about 17% from its IPO price, and Blue Apron Inc., whose shares have cut in half since the public offering two months ago.

As for Uber, the golden child, or rather gold-plated unicorn, of the VC world, is about to get reacquainted with valuation gravity. Which, in light of its broadly deflationary impact on a broad range of industries that simply soak up VC funding in a futile war for market share, may be just what the Federal Reserve – not to mention thousands of depressed taxicab Medallion owners – ordered.

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Watch Live: President Trump Speaks At Rally In Phoenix Following “Underwhelming” Protests

August 23, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Amid underwhelming protests, and in the absence of Republican Governor Doug Ducey, President Trump is set to hold a campaign-style rally in Phoenix tonight that may be must-watch for a number of reasons. 

As The Hill reports, Trump is expected to use the podium in Phoenix to defend his hard-line approach on immigration and to pressure Congress for more than $1 billion to build the southern border wall that was at the core of his presidential campaign.

This is President Trump’s first publica rally since ‘Nazi-gate’ and while local officials had prepare for a storm of protests (with the city’s mayor asking for the rally to be relocated), the protests were “underwhelming.”

And the pronoun has turned: “Lock him up” chants ring in Phoenix pic.twitter.com/309AH14xGR

— Vaughn Hillyard (@VaughnHillyard) August 23, 2017

VIDEO: Trump rally in downtown Phoenix: Supporters, protesters meet at convention center pic.twitter.com/vJSAJE87hJ

— azcentral (@azcentral) August 23, 2017

Puerto Rican Trump supporter blasts CNN ahead of Phoenix rally: ‘You’re the real racists and fascists!’ pic.twitter.com/nqday5Aa7j

— Josh Caplan (@joshdcaplan) August 22, 2017

Trump’s speech is sure to be full of his usual vim and vigor, and The Hill notes five things to watch out for…

Arizona illustrates Trump’s fraught relationship with his own party.

While Trump won Arizona in November, he’s been openly feuding with the state’s two Republican senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, both of whom are frequent Trump critics. Trump last week called Flake, who’s up for re-election in 2018, “a non-factor in the Senate” and “toxic” in a tweet that also welcomed a primary challenge to him from former State Senator Kelli Ward. That prompted several senior Republican senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, to come out with statements of support for Flake. Neither Flake nor McCain is planning to attend Trump’s rally.

 

Flake, whose approval ratings stand below 20 percent, says he’s unconcerned with Trump’s attacks, which are likely to continue in Phoenix. But Ward is relishing the boost. Anticipating Trump’s speech, she launched a new ad campaign on Monday warning voters that Flake’s clash with the president is “a huge liability for Arizona.” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) may also prove an irresistible target for the president given his vote to sink the Senate’s effort to repeal ObamaCare. McCain also hammered Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville. “There’s no moral equivalency between racists & Americans standing up to defy hate & bigotry,” McCain tweeted last week. “The President of the United States should say so.”

Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Trump recently told Fox News that he’s “seriously considering” pardoning Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., whose aggressive approach to the detention of undocumented immigrants has made him a national voice for the hard-line enforcement policies championed by the president. A massive rally in Phoenix would be just the place to do that. A federal judge found the 85-year-old Arpaio guilty of contempt of court last month for the “flagrant disregard” of another judge’s 2011 order to stop the racial profiling that came to define Arpaio’s immigrant roundups. His sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 5, when he faces a maximum of six months in jail. Arpaio is one of Trump’s oldest political allies. The two men supported each other as far back as 2012, when they were two of the most prominent advocates of “birtherism,” the claim that then-President Obama was not born in the United States. Arpaio’s conviction has become a flashpoint in the largely partisan debate over immigration reform, with both sides watching Trump’s actions closely.   On Monday, Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs (R), one of Trump’s most vocal supporters, urged the president to pardon Arpaio, touting the former sheriff’s long public service record. He accused the Obama administration of conducting “a witch hunt” against him.  Some Democrats seem to be expecting the pardon, noting that Trump has come under fire from conservatives for the recent ouster of top strategist Stephen Bannon and may use the Phoenix speech to get back into the critics’ good graces. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) said Monday that pardoning Arpaio might “placate [Trump’s] xenophobic, racist base.” A few hours after this story was published, the White House announced Trump would not pardon Arpaio at the rally.

The wall

Trump launched his presidential campaign with an attack on immigrants and a vow to build “a beautiful wall” on the southern border, paid for by Mexico. But his chief domestic promise has smacked into the political realities of Capitol Hill, where GOP leaders, needing Democratic votes to pass spending bills, have failed to get new construction funding to the president’s desk. The issue was a major sticking point in the fight over a 2017 spending bill, when Democrats successfully yanked new wall funding from the package. But Republicans are under pressure to hold a harder line in the 2018 spending debate — the House has already approved a bill providing $1.6 billion in new wall funding — and Trump will likely use the stage in Phoenix to elevate the issue. Indeed, in signing the 2017 federal spending bill, a frustrated Trump suggested he’d support “a good ‘shutdown’ in September” in order to secure more Republican priorities.

Race

The Arizona rally comes just as the news cycle is finally moving away from Trump’s botched response to Charlottesville, when he said “many sides” were to blame for the violence at the white supremacist rally. The Phoenix rally is expected to attract large groups of supporters and counterprotesters, however, and has the potential to reopen the discussion depending on what Trump says from the stage — and what happens outside the arena.  Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D) wrote a Washington Post op-edMonday asking Trump to delay his visit. “America is hurting,” wrote Stanton. “And it is hurting largely because Trump has doused racial tensions with gasoline. With his planned visit to Phoenix on Tuesday, I fear the president may be looking to light a match.” Trump took a different tone Monday, in a teleprompter-guided speech laying out his Afghanistan strategy. “When we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry and no tolerance for hate,” said Trump. “The young men and women we send to fight our wars abroad deserve to return to a country that is not at war with itself at home.”

Afghanistan

Tuesday’s rally comes just a day after the prime-time speech in which Trump outlined the contours of his military strategy in Afghanistan — a design that includes the deployment of new U.S. troops to the embattled region.

The military buildup marks a stark shift for the president, who had been highly critical of prolonging U.S. engagement after 16 years of failing to stabilize the country. On the campaign trail, he won accolades from the “America First” crowd with his promise of quick troop withdrawal, arguing the resources would be better used for domestic projects.

The issue carries a special significance following last week’s departure of Bannon, a fierce nationalist who sought to steer Trump away from aggressive interventions into foreign affairs.

Bannon, who quickly returned to the helm of Breitbart News, has vowed his continued support of the administration. But the site wasted no time Monday lashing out at Trump’s Afghanistan strategy, calling it a “flip flop” and equating his plan to that of former President Obama, a pariah in the eyes of conservative Breitbart readers.

President Trump is due to speak at 10pmET…

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Better A Year Early Than A Day Too Late

August 23, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Adam Taggart via PeakProsperity.com,

He who hesitates is lost.

~proverb

Change, especially a collapse scenario, often happens quite fast. So fast that there’s little to no time to react in the short frenzy between “before” and “after”.

This is true throughout nature. Glaciers that took millennia to form calve off into the sea in a matter of moments. Old-growth forests filled with thousand-year-old trees can be decimated by a single wildfire. The bubonic plague “Black Death” pandemic of the Middle Ages killed one-third of the Earth’s human population over just four short years.

Fast change is also a hallmark of human society. Movements and ideas — oftentimes simmering for years, decades or longer — suddenly reach a critical state in which the populace is swept up into history-making action. The outbreak of World War I. The Civil Rights movement. The dissolution of the USSR. The Digital Age.

When it comes, change happens swiftly. And life after — for better or worse — is forever different.

I’ve witnessed this time and time again since co-founding PeakProsperity.com. And in pretty much every instance, I notice that the vast majority of people — including even many of the the watchful and preparation-minded folks who read this site — are caught by surprise.

Fukushima

A good example of this was the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March of 2011. Of course, no one could have foretold the timing and scale of the tsunami, and virtually nobody expected that it could overwhelm the facility as spectacularly as it did. So in the immediate aftermath of the plant’s failure, the world looked on in sympathy, not fear.

But on March 12th, that changed as the first of several hydrogen explosions was observed among the reactors. And then my phone rang.

It was Chris, my co-founder here at PeakProsperity.com. “I don’t know exactly what that was, but it wasn’t good”, he said. Based on his background in the sciences, his strong assessment was that the situation at the plant was much more serious than was being publicly admitted to.

Since I live on the west coast here in the US, he advised me to consider getting a radiation detection/contamination protection kit — “just in case”. While we both hoped it wouldn’t come to that, I quickly heeded the advice. I placed an order for a kit as well as a shipment of iodine tablets.

I was very lucky to have done so. Because just a few short hours later, as the world woke up to the worsening situation at Fukushima, anything related to radioactive contamination was sold out across the US. For months. The supply chain for that stuff was miniscule compared to the demand of a panicked nation.

If you were late to game — and pretty much EVERYBODY but the extreme early-birds like me was — you were out of luck. And vulnerable.

Now, thankfully, as horrible as the on-going crisis there still is (it’s five years later and the radioactive fuel that melted through containment still remains in a molten state), the worst-case scenario didn’t materialize.

But I still keep my contamination kit handy. More than anything else as a reminder of how fast things can change. And of the outsized value of early action.

Oroville Dam

More recently, we saw a similarly swift devolution of events at California’s Oroville Dam this year. The west coast had suffered an especially wet winter, and an arrival of a Pineapple Express in February didn’t help the situation.

California residents were focused on flooding and mudslides in the usual places — no one had any inkling that there was risk of larger infrastructure failures, let alone one at the tallest dam in the US. And, as the water levels rose at the Oroville Dam, the communication from state authorities was “All is fine. All is under control. There’s nothing to worry about” — until suddenly a mass evacuation of over 200,000 residents living downstream was ordered.

Not surprisingly, the subsequent panicked scramble resulted in tremendous traffic jams, slowing down the evacuation to a snail’s pace. Residents had no time to prepare, buy supplies (if there were enough in their area to purchase), or line up a safe destination they could head for. They just had to grab what they could and flee as best they were able.

Again, everything appeared fine right up until the tipping point. Those with the foresight beforehand to pack a to-go bag, arrange a bug-out crash pad — or better yet — leave for a safer location until the waters stopped rising, fared much better than the herd who waited.

2008 Financial Crisis

On a more economic note, I’ve pointed out in a number of past articles how quickly things went south during the 2008 financial crisis. Even pundits like Chris and I, who warned for years it was very likely coming, were still shocked by how viciously it struck.

Most folks have preferred to forget how quickly the bubble popped. Between September and October, the S&P 500 lost one-third of its value. Poof!

Of course, the S&P then continued falling through March, ending at over 50% lower than its pre-crisis high. Millions of jobs were lost over these months. And the prices of other major assets from houses to bonds were savaged, too.

It all happened so quickly that most investors and homeowners were simply overwhelmed by the shock. Unsure what to do, they simply watched the price of their assets continue to fall — praying for the carnage to end.

Timing Isn’t Everything. Positioning Is.

They say that Timing is everything. I disagree.

Trying to time disruptive events is a fool’s errand. In the years I’ve been involved in running this business, I’ve seen too many people make big bets (portfolio allocation, geographic relocation, job change, etc) because they were rock-solidly convinced a major change event was ‘imminent’. Most of those folks eventually regretted the cost of their haste as the status quo muddled on much longer than they’d expected.

Anyone who predicts with exactitude about the when of future events is deluding either you or themselves. More likely, both.

BUT, we can predict the what (i.e., what will happen) with much greater precision. And that’s where advantage can be gained.

For instance, many of those paying attention in the years leading up to 2008 had arrived at the conclusion that bad policies and overly-loose lending standards had resulted in mal-investment on such a grand scale that a massive clearing event was inevitable. Did they know the date of the tipping point? No. But they knew the probability for a major financial crisis increased with each year.

Those who positioned themselves — prudently — in advance avoided the losses that everyone else took. As The Big Short detailed, some were even able to profit wildly from their foresight (though admittedly, this was just a rarified few).

The adjective “prudently” is important here, because here at PeakProsperity.com we emphasize risk management, not speculation. Our goal is to maximize our odds for prospering no matter which future outcome arrives. Yes, the intent is to enjoy the best (risk-adjusted) return in building our wealth as possible. But it’s important to understand that sometimes ‘prospering’ simply means losing less than we would have otherwise, should events go against our expectations.

So for those looking to protect and growth their wealth, our advice is to focus on the positioning for highly-predictable events rather than their timing

This is the same logic underlying an insurance policy. Illness/injury, car accidents, house fires — the timing of these, if they happen at all, is unknowable. But should they happen, insurance only has value to you if you procured it in advance.

The exact same is true across the spectrum of the Eight Forms Of Capital (for those unfamiliar with this framework, it’s the guidance we offer for building “true wealth” in life). Don’t wait to invest in your health until you’ve developed a chronic condition. Don’t put off building community before a crisis (injury, job loss, etc) forces you to ask for help from others. Don’t forget about creating an emergency kit until some disaster (hurricane, earthquake, flood, etc) hits.

For those who put off taking advance action, it may be simply “too late” in a number of scenarios should the status quo quickly change.

Don’t be an ‘avoidable victim’. For the events you calculate are likely to happen, assess your current level of preparedness and take steps now to shore up any deficiencies. As you do this, ask yourself: What would I absolutely regret not having in place should this happen tomorrow? Make that list your top priority.

To help you in this, we have a self-assessment form, which you can download for free here. We use it at our annual seminar each year, so it’s pretty well-honed at this point.

After taking it, some folks prefer to go a step further and schedule a consultation with Chris to discuss their personal situation and get his experienced perspective on their plans as they take shape. If interested, you can learn more about how to do that here.

But the main focus here is to prioritize the key steps to take in advance of any potential life-altering events that concern you.

For example, anyone who reads PeakProsperity.com should know that Chris and I think a major market correction is long overdue. We anticipate price drops of a similar magnitude as seen during the 2008 crisis, and possibly even worse. (For those new to this site, read: The Mother Of All Financial Bubbles)

If you share our conclusion, are you positioned prudently should the market correction arrive tomorrow?

Remember that in 2008, most people didn’t expect the market to fall. Folks believed: It’s different this time. Yet when the market started tanking in September, it happened so quickly that investors had already lost a third of their portfolio’s value by the time their October statements arrived in the mail. At that point, most were psychologically unprepared, and simply held on, praying that the market would go back up. And still prices kept falling for months after.

Don’t let this happen to you. Determine what your minimum acceptable positioning should be and then make sure it’s in place. Even if it’s as simple as just holding more of your investment portfolio in boring old cash. (Feel free to read our How To Hedge Against A Market Correction guide for additional ideas). I myself just updated readers on how I recently increased my short positions within my portfolio.

Yet it still surprises me how many people I talk with regularly who agree the risk of a market correction is uncomfortably high, but have not yet begun to position themselves accordingly.

For example, a large number of folks have had free consultations with our endorsed financial advisor since the start of 2017, each very concerned to protect their financial wealth should a market correction happen. Many indeed plan to open accounts, but haven’t yet — remaining invested in their existing long positions for the time being. Why? Because they’ve been making money over the past several years, and can’t yet wean themselves off of the central bank gravy train even though their brains tell them it will inevitably come to an abrupt and painful end.

If you’re one of these folks, please reflect for a moment. No one can predict when the next market downturn will happen. By the time it does, your capital needs to have already been positioned smartly in advance. It will do you a lot less good to try to sell after taking an initial round of losses. And at that point, emotionally, you might find yourself too shell-shocked to take action. There might even be restrictions placed on access to your funds if the situation gets bad enough. So is today’s urge to wait ‘just a little bit longer’ worth the risk?

Only you can determine if and when to transfer any of your capital over. But if you’ve already made the decision in your mind to eventually do so (as many of you have expressed), then a prudent step is to simply fill out the paperwork to open an account now. You can deal with any transfers later. Doing this is a small investment of your energy in the here and now, but will save you valuable time, stress and potential uncertainty should you decide to move your money there urgently in the future. So whether you plan to work with our endorsed adviser or another one you like even better, remove as much ‘friction’ as you can today that could threaten to derail your goals for tomorrow. 

The same logic applies to nearly anyone concerned by the Three E’s discussed in The Crash Course:

  • Homeowners looking to sell before the next housing downturn — With more and more major markets topping out, have you determined a time frame by which you’d like to have your house sold? Have you identified the broker/agent you’d like to use? Have you calculated your desired listing price?
  • Account holders at Too Big To Fail banks — If you’re planning on eventually moving your cash to an alternative provider with less exposure to derivative risk or the potential for a “bail-in”, have you identified the specific credit union/savings bank/private vault/etc yet? Have you conducted a test transfer yet?
  • Those considering buying cryptocurrency for the first time — Have you learned how to purchase them yet? Which coin(s) do you want to buy? Are you going to use an exchange? Which one? How do you plan to store your coins? Have you lined up that solution yet?
  • Those switching to a de-growth lifestyle — Where do you want to live? What will your homestead needs be? Will you keep your current job or need to re-skill? Will your new lifestyle depend more on others? If these answers require any life changes, have you made any of them yet?
  • And on and on…

In all of these cases, the benefits of taking action on the essential steps today, in advance of a future date by which you may desperately want those steps to have been taken, are clear.

Most folks just need a little nudge or inspiration to get started. Consider this your call to action. For those who haven’t thoroughly utilized them yet, our free What Should I Do? Guide, as well as our book Prosper!: How to Prepare for the Future and Create a World Worth Inheriting are chock full of our best guidance and recommendations.

As Chris has often said about preparing for events that have large downside risks: It’s much better to be a year early than a day late.

Very wise words.

What would you regret most being a day late on? Whatever your answer, focus your attention there — today.

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Scott Cahill: Collapse Risk At The Oroville Dam Is Still Unacceptably High

August 22, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Adam Taggart via PeakProsperity.com,

Remember the crisis earlier this year at the Oroville Dam?

The overflow from California’s winter of heavy rain threatened to overpower our country’s tallest dam. A cascading failure of the dam’s main gates, its primarily spillway AND its emergency spillway had the world watching hour by hour to see if a catastrophic breach was going to occur.

Fortunately, the rains stopped long enough for the situation to be brought under control. The dam remains in place and repair crews have been working all spring and summer.

But should we breathe easy at this point? Not at all, says dam safety expert Scott Cahill. Our readers will remember Scott from the excellent technical assessment he provided in the thick of the crisis earlier this year. In our earlier podcast with him, he explained how the real tragedy at Oroville was that for many years, small and affordable maintenance projects that easily could have prevented the crisis were diverted (in his estimation, the cost of making the needed repairs was quite small — around $6 million. But for short-sighted reasons, the repairs were not funded; and now the bill to fix the resultant damage will likely be on the order of magnitude of over $200 million. Which does not factor in the environmental carnage caused by flooding downstream ecosystems with high-sediment water or the costs involved with evacuating the 200,000 residents living nearby the dam).

And the pattern appears to be continuing. In this week’s podcast, Scott details a number of concerning structural risks visible at Oroville that are again being de-prioritized, or ignored all-together. And as before, straightforward and inexpensive projects that have high potential to prevent a catastrophic failure of the dam are not being pursued:

They’ve begun the repairs on the bottom half of the spillway, but the tragedy and loss from the bottom half of the spillway failing has already been realized. No one is worried about the bottom half of the spillway. On the other hand, they’ve done nothing yet with the upper half of the spillway — which is what would cause a catastrophic failure of the dam. It’s amazing how much money they’ve already spent, and yet their priorities are such that they haven’t abated the liability at all.

 

So yes, we’ve made the bottom of the principal spillway, the concrete slues, more sound. But it’s not the bottom of the dam that will fail, of course, it’s the crest — the top of it — where the gates are. That’s still highly suspect.

 

There are additional issues involving the unwanted moving of water through the dam — the so-called “green spots”. These are areas where water is migrating through the dam, probably through the indigenous soils adjacent to it. I’ve walked on these [at Oroville] and you can stick your foot down, and like your backyard after a torrential rain, water actually comes up into the footprint after you remove your foot. This is not a good situation. I believe there is a lot of movement of water through that dam, including at the structure itself that houses the gates that control the flow down the principal spillway.

 

There’s nothing wrong with embankment dams in general, they’re wonderful dams. But they rely on the mass of the earthen embankment itself to offset the forces that try to slide or rotate it into failure. When we see water migrating through a dam, it can potentially cause failure of the dam because it offsets the mass all that earth. Plus, there’s a lot of river rock and sand in this embankment. River rock, as we all know, is round. Anyone can understand how a pile of round rocks, if the fines have been washed out from between them by water and the rocks then vibrated, for instance, by seismic activity, weakens the system. These concerns are very, very serious. I believe that this situation is occurring in multiple places across the Oroville dam — and yet this is simply not being discussed.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Scott Cahill (41m:06s).

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Al Sharpton Is Shocked At The “Poisonous Atmosphere” In America “Being Stoked By The President”

August 22, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Al Sharpton, who’s built his career on stoking racial tensions for personal and financial gain, accused President Donald Trump of inciting a “poisonous atmosphere” in the US.
“We’re in a poisonous atmosphere that is being …

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College Profesors Begin Direct Support For AntiFa Groups On Campuses

August 22, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Jacob Grandstaff via Campus Reform,

  • Two professors, one from Purdue University and the other from Stanford University, are assembling a “Campus Antifascist Network” (CAN) to serve as a “big tent” for “anyone committed to fighting fascism.”
  • Despite the reputation Antifa groups have cultivated for employing violence to shut down opposing speakers, the professors insist that they only support “self-defense” by “those who are being threatened by fascists.”

Two professors are organizing a campus Antifa (Anti-Fascist Action) organization with the goal of confronting groups it considers fascist and “driv[ing] racists off campuses.”

According to Inside Higher Ed, the Campus Antifascist Network (CAN) was organized by Purdue University Professor Bill Mullen and Stanford University Professor David Palumbo-Liu with the intention of serving as a “big tent” for “anyone committed to fighting fascism.”

“Since Trump’s election, fascists, neo-fascists, and their allies have used blatantly Islamophobic, anti-semitic, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, and ableist messaging and iconography to recruit to their ranks and intimidate students, faculty, and staff,” Palumbo-Liu wrote in the group’s invitation letter.

 

“The time to take action is now,” he maintained, saying, “we call on all interested individuals and organizations to support or join the Campus Antifascist Network (CAN).”

In an interview with Campus Reform, Palumbo-Liu reiterated that “the groups that concern [CAN] the most are fascist in the sense they espouse a hateful ideology that targets particular groups based on race, ethnicity, religion, [or] sexuality, and wish to dominate, exclude, drive out, and harm members of those groups with force and violence.”

As part of its efforts, CAN provides a syllabus which labels fascism as a “historical expression of capitalism’s tendency to dominate the poor, working class, and oppressed people.”

Mullen told IHE that the network has grown to 200 members, including students and faculty, in the wake of the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, adding that CAN will “build large, unified demonstrations against fascists on campuses” and protect groups that are vulnerable to attack.

While Mullen and Palumbo-Liu do not advocate direct violence, Antifa has been criticized for engaging in violent protests around the country, including riots against conservative speakers.

When asked about violent elements within Antifa, Palumbo-Liu told IHE that CAN would reject some elements of the movement and would only “advocate self-defense and defense in various forms of those who are being threatened by fascists.”

Palumbo-Liu likewise told Campus Reform that “physically attacking speakers is not [within the law],” and therefore is not something that his organization promotes.

“The issue really is not speech, but rather the kinds of actions a group is known to engage in that precisely impinge upon others’ free speech, academic freedom, and civil liberties,” he said.

 

“We are organizing to protect members of campus communities from groups that come to campus to provoke physical confrontations, purposefully destroy property, invade individuals’ privacy.”

The professor also pushed back on the view that President Trump is not a fascist, branding it as “literally an academic argument in the worst sense of the word” and declaring that “we need to pay attention to what is happening, not the labels that we feel are most fitting.”

Mullen did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment.

*  *  *

As Ron Paul explained earlier, the alt-right and its leftist opponents are two sides of the same authoritarian coin.

The alt-right elevates racial identity over individual identity. The obsession with race leads them to support massive government interference in the economy in order to benefit members of the favored race. They also favor massive welfare and entitlement spending, as long as it functions as a racial spoils system. Some prominent alt-right leaders even support abortion as a way of limiting the minority population. No one who sincerely supports individual liberty, property rights, or the right to life can have any sympathy for this type of racial collectivism.

Antifa, like all Marxists, elevates class identity over individual identity. Antifa supporters believe government must run the economy because otherwise workers will be exploited by greedy capitalists. This faith in central planning ignores economic reality, as well as the reality that in a free market employers and workers voluntarily work together for their mutual benefit. It is only when government intervenes in the economy that crony capitalists have the opportunity to exploit workers, consumers, and taxpayers. Sadly, many on the left confuse the results of the “mixed economy” with free markets.

*  *  *

Oh, and as a reminder, the petition to label AntiFa a terrorist group now has over 250,000 signatures.

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Former U.S. Attorney On Awan Indictment: “There Is Something Very Strange Going On Here”

August 22, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

We’ve written frequently over the past couple of months about the litany of unanswered questions surrounding the mysterious case of Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s (DWS) IT staffers.  Why did DWS seemingly threaten the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police with “consequences” for holding equipment that was confiscated as part of an ongoing legal investigation?  Why did DWS keep Awan on her taxpayer funded payroll all the way up until the day he was arrested by the FBI at Dulles airport while trying to flee the country to Pakistan?  What, if anything, does the Awan family know about the DNC hacks that may have caused DWS to act in this way?

Now, Andrew McCarthy III, the former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who led the prosecution against Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and eleven others for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, says there is “something very strange” about the recent indictment filed against Imran Awan and his wife Hina Alvi in the District of Columbia.

In a National Review article, McCarthy points out that it’s not what’s in the indictment that is necessarily surprising but rather what is seemingly intentionally omitted.  For instance, McCarthy points out that “the indictment appears to go out of its way not to mention” that Imran was apprehended while in the process of fleeing the country, a fact that would seem to be the best evidence available to prove the fraud charges.

Let’s say you’re a prosecutor in Washington. You are investigating a husband and wife, naturalized Americans, who you believe have scammed a federal credit union out of nearly $300,000. You catch them in several false statements about their qualifications for a credit line and their intended use of the money. The strongest part of your case, though, involves the schemers’ transferring the loot to their native Pakistan.

 

So . . . what’s the best evidence you could possibly have, the slam-dunk proof that their goal was to steal the money and never look back? That’s easy: One after the other, the wife and husband pulled up stakes and tried to high-tail it to Pakistan after they’d wired the funds there — the wife successfully fleeing, the husband nabbed as he was about to board his flight.

 

Well, here’s a peculiar thing about the Justice Department’s indictment of Imran Awan and Hina Alvi, the alleged fraudster couple who doubled as IT wizzes for Debbie Wasserman Schultz and many other congressional Democrats: There’s not a word in it about flight to Pakistan. The indictment undertakes to describe in detail four counts of bank-fraud conspiracy, false statements on credit applications, and unlawful monetary transactions, yet leaves out the most damning evidence of guilt.

 

In fact, the indictment appears to go out of its way not to mention it.

 

Why would prosecutors leave that out of their indictment? Why give Awan’s defense a basis to claim that, since the indictment does not allege anything about flight to Pakistan, the court should bar any mention of it during the trial? In fact, quite apart from the manifest case-related reasons to plead instances of flight, a competent prosecutor would have included them in the indictment simply to underscore that Awan is a flight risk who should have onerous bail conditions or even be detained pretrial.

DWS

 

Then there is the case of Imran’s wife, Hina Alvi.  When she fled the country back in March she was detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents with over $12,000 cash in her luggage, technically a crime by itself if not properly disclosed, but was allowed by the FBI to leave the country despite having been under investigation for months. 

We must also ask, again: Why did the FBI allow Alvi to flee? Before she boarded her March 5 flight to Qatar (en route to Pakistan), agents briefly detained her. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents had already searched her baggage and found $12,400 in cash. As I have pointed out, it is a felony to move more than $10,000 in U.S. currency out of the country unless one completes the required government report (see sections 5316 and 5322 of Title 31, U.S. Code). There was no indication that she did so in the complaint affidavit submitted to the court when Awan was arrested last month (see FBI complaint affidavit, pages 8–9).

 

By the time Alvi fled, the Awans had been under investigation by various federal agencies for at least three months. The FBI was sufficiently attuned to the Awans’ criminality that its agents went to the trouble of chasing Alvi to the airport. If she didn’t fill out the required form, she should have been arrested for the currency violation. Is it possible that, rather than arresting her, federal agents instructed her to complete the form on the spot? One would hope not, but even in such an unlikely event, Alvi would undoubtedly have made false statements about the provenance of the cash. That would also have been a felony, providing more grounds for her arrest. Why let her go, especially when, as its agent told the court in the aforementioned affidavit, the FBI “does not believe that ALVI has any intention to return to the United States”?

And then there is just the continued secrecy surrounding the case.  Why did the U.S. Attorney’s office decide against filing a press release in a case that has garnered significant national attention?  Why was the case filed in a district where DWS’s brother has been an assistant U.S. attorney for many years? 

To begin with, it is not the easiest thing to get one’s hands on the indictment. The case is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. There is no press release about the indictment on the office’s website, though U.S. attorneys’ offices routinely issue press releases and make charging documents available in cases of far less national prominence. (I found the indictment through the Orlando Sentinel, which obtained and posted it in conjunction with the paper’s report on the filing of charges.)

 

By the way, the U.S. attorney’s office is currently led by Channing D. Phillips, an Obama holdover who was never confirmed. Still awaiting Senate confirmation is Jessie Liu, nominated by President Trump in June. Meanwhile, Steven Wasserman, Representative Wasserman Schultz’s brother, has been an assistant U.S. attorney in the office for many years. I have seen no indication that he has any formal role in the case, notwithstanding some cyberspace speculation to the contrary. What is clear, however, is that the office is low-keying the Awan prosecution.

 

The indictment itself is drawn very narrowly. All four charges flow from a financial-fraud conspiracy of short duration. Only Imran Awan and his wife are named as defendants. There is no reference to Awan-family perfidy in connection with the House communications system.

Of course, we’re sure it’s probably nothing but at least one former U.S. Attorney says “there is something very strange going on here.”

The full Grand Jury indictment can be viewed here:

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Ron Paul Institute Statement On Trump’s Afghanistan Speech

August 22, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Daniel McAdams via The Mises Institute,

Like me, many of you watched President Trump’s train wreck of a speech on Afghanistan earlier tonight. It’s nearly midnight and I am still reeling.

I guess it was too much to ask to hear him admit the obvious and draw the obvious conclusions:  

After 16 years – the longest war in US history – no one even remembers what we are fighting for in Afghanistan.

 

The war is over.

 

Not another American (or innocent Afghan) life for one of the most convoluted and idiotic wars in history!

Trump of 2012 and 2013 said just that. Candidate Trump said just that.

Then tonight he told us that once you sit in that chair in the Oval Office you see things differently.

What does that mean?

Once elected you betray your promises so as to please the deep state? Here’s the truth that neither President Trump nor his newfound neocon coterie can deny:

1) A gang of radical Saudis attacked the US on 9/11. Their leader, Osama bin Laden, was a CIA favorite when he was fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. He clearly listed his grievances after he fell out with his CIA sponsors: US sanctions in Iraq were killing innocents; US policy grossly favored the Israelis in the conflict with Palestinians; and US troops in his Saudi holy land were unacceptable.

 

2) Osama’s radicals roamed from country to country until they were able to briefly settle in chaotic late 1990s Afghanistan for a time. They plotted the attack on the US from Florida, Germany, and elsewhere. They allegedly had a training camp in Afghanistan. We know from the once-secret 28 pages of the Congressional Intelligence Committee report on 9/11 that they had Saudi state sponsorship.

 

3) Bin Laden’s group of Saudis attacked the US on 9/11. Washington’s neocons attacked Afghanistan and then Iraq in retaliation, neither of which had much to do with bin Laden or 9/11. Certainly not when compared to the complicity of the Saudi government at the highest levels.

 

4) Sixteen years — and trillions of dollars and thousands of US military lives — later no one knows what the goals are in Afghanistan. Not even Trump, which is why he said tonight that he would no longer discuss our objectives in Afghanistan but instead would just concentrate on “killing terrorists.”

Gen. Mike Flynn had it right in 2015 when he said that the US drone program was creating more terrorists than it was killing. Trump’s foolish escalation will do the same. It will fail because it cannot do otherwise. It will only create more terrorists to justify more US intervention. And so on until our financial collapse. The US government cannot kill its way to peace in Afghanistan. Or anywhere else.

 

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Funds Managing $1.1 Trillion Are Dumping Junk Bonds

August 22, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Even before Ray Dalio doubled down on his warning that the US has become as dangerously fragmented as during the pre-World War II days of 1937, prompting him to “tactically reduce” risk, some of the biggest names on Wall Street were selling.

Two weeks ago, T.Rowe Price made waves when it said that it had cut the stock portion of its asset allocation portfolios to the lowest level since 2000. The Baltimore-based money manager said it also reduced its holdings of high-yield bonds and emerging market bonds for the same reason. Roughly at the same time, in its mid-year review, Pimco said that “with the macroeconomic backdrop evolving in the face of potentially negative pivot points and considering asset prices generally are fully valued, we are modestly risk-off in our overall positioning” adding that “we recognize events could still surprise to the upside, but starting valuations leave little room for error.”

This followed a similar preannouncement by DoubleLine’s Jeff Gundlach who not only said that he is reducing his positions in junk bonds, EM debt and other lower-quality investments, but predicted – correctly – the volatility spike in the first week of August. 

Then it was Guggenheim’s turn to make a similar warning: in its Q3 Fixed Income Outlook, the asset manager said that “the downside risk of a near-term market correction grows the longer volatility
remains depressed. Asset prices are at record highs while volatility has rarely been lower. Our Global CIO and Macroeconomic and Investment Research team believe these indicators point to a dangerous level of complacency in the market, which has shrugged off the Fed’s guidance that economic conditions support monetary tightening… given where asset prices are, they would have a long way to fall.”

Guggeneim CIO Anne Walsh also warned that “high-yield corporate bonds are particularly at risk due to their relatively rich pricing, so we have continued to significantly reduce our exposure to that sector. The high-yield corporate bond allocations across our Core and Multi-Credit strategies are now at the lowest level since their inception. The bank loan allocation has also been reduced as a majority of the market is trading at or above par with some loans trading at negative yields to call.”

The list above is by no means exhaustive: according to a Bloomberg calculations, investors overseeing a total of over $1.1 trillion have been cutting exposure to junk bonds amid growing concerns about rising rates, central bank policy and general geopolitical uncertainty.

Below courtesy of Bloomberg, is the list of money managers who have recently cut holdings of junk debt:

JPMorgan Asset Management; AUM: $17 billion (for Absolute Return & Opportunistic Fixed-Income team)

  • In early July told Bloomberg they have cut holdings of junk debt to about 40 percent from more than half.
  • “We are more likely to decrease risk rather than increase risk due to valuations,” New York-based portfolio manager Daniel Goldberg said.

DoubleLine Capital LP; AUM: about $110 billion

  • Jeffrey Gundlach, co-founder and chief executive officer, said in an interview published Aug. 8 he’s reducing holdings in junk bonds and emerging-market debt and investing more in higher-quality credits with less sensitivity to rising interest rates.
  • European high-yield bonds have hit “wack-o season,” Gundlach said in a tweet last week.

Allianz Global Investors; AUM: $586 billion

  • David Newman, head of global high yield, said in an interview his fund has begun trimming its euro high-yield exposure because record valuations make the notes particularly vulnerable in a wider selloff.

Deutsche Asset Management; AUM: 100 billion euro ($117 billion) in multi-asset portfolios

  • Said earlier this month it has reduced holdings of European junk bonds.
  • The funds are shifting focus to equities, where there is more potential upside and higher yields from dividends, according to Christian Hille, the Frankfurt-based global head of multi asset.

Guggenheim Partners; AUM: >$209 billion

  • Reduced allocation to high-yield corporate bonds across core and multi-credit strategies to the lowest level since its inception, according to a third-quarter outlook published on Thursday.
  • Junk bonds are “particularly at risk due to their relatively rich pricing,” portfolio managers including James Michal say in outlook report.

Brandywine Global Investment Management; AUM: $72 billion

  • Fund has cut euro junk-bond allocations to a seven-year low because of valuation concerns, Regina Borromeo, head of international high yield, said in an interview this month

Who knows if these marquee names are right: if it’s them against the central banks, all their sales will do is forego potential profits as the world’s central banks push yields and spreads to levels that are beyond laughably ludicrous, but such is life in a centrally planned world where nothing makes sense. We do have one question: if asset managers with more than $1.1 trillion in AUM are all selling junk bonds, i) who is buying, and ii) how is it possible that the yield on the Barclays global HY index has barly budged from all time lows?

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