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The Excuse is Immigration, But Federal Checkpoints Violate Everyone’s Rights

September 4, 2017 TDB 0

Via The Daily Bell

Federal agents set up shop in New Hampshire last week. They ran a Constitutionally-illegal checkpoint, violating the Fourth Amendment rights of countless Americans.

The big reward? They arrested 25 illegal immigrants, seven of them children. More than half of those detained had overstayed visas. That means they came to the U.S. legally in the first place and did not leave when their visa expired.

What could have spurred this callous disregard for the law? Well, a personal anecdote could shed some light on the situation.

A friend of mine from Brazil had a six-month visiting visa to the United States. He would come and stay with his uncle who had permanent residency. The way the rules work, it that my friend could use the visa as often as he wanted to travel to the United States, but couldn’t stay for longer than the six month period.

It was literally completely legal for him to fly to Brazil, spend the night, and fly back to the United States the next day. Then he could stay for another 6 months.

Being a rule follower, he did what the law said and flew back to Brazil where he stayed for about four months. The ticket to get back to the U.S. cost about $1,000. But when he arrived, he was denied entry to the United States. He was sent back to Brazil, and his visa was suspended for five years.

Why did this happen? After all, he followed all the rules. Officials said if he was staying 6 months at a time, he must have been working. Yes, because he stayed within the legal limits of his visa, the federal officials surmised that he must have violated the conditions of his visa.

Perhaps this unpredictability of U.S. Customs creates an incentive to overstay visas. Maybe the $1,000 plane tickets make it tempting to overstay a visa. Because maybe even if you follow the rules, you will arbitrarily be denied anyway, wasting your time, burning your money, and being separated from the rest of your family still in the States. Speaking of family, maybe the fact that many of the detained immigrants have kids in school in the U.S. means it is a ridiculous burden to make them leave every six months.

Yes, they broke the law. They broke complicated and restrictive immigration laws.

But why is it so important to follow immigration laws, while immigration officials completely disregard the Fourth Amendment?

Great job! Agents enforced immigration law by breaking Constitutional law. They stopped every car on I-93, without suspicion or probable cause. Generally, occupants of the vehicles are asked whether or not they are an American citizen.

If they refuse to answer, exercising their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, that is considered evidence of a crime, and they are detained for further questioning and possible search. Exercising a right is used as evidence of a crime. That is the point we have gotten to in the U.S.A. police state.

Using these illegal stop and search tactics, police found evidence of other crimes as well, unrelated to immigration.

The checkpoint also resulted in the seizure of two pounds of marijuana, as well as smaller amounts of cocaine, mushrooms and hash oil, all of which were seized from U.S. citizens, according to the Woodstock Police Department. In addition to the immigration detentions, 32 arrests were made for a range of infractions.

So there you have it, Americans’ Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights were violated so that federal agents could prosecute victimless crimes. The only true victims in this whole checkpoint situation were all the people stopped by the agents.

Perhaps you aren’t concerned with the illegal immigrants’ treatment. What you should be concerned about is the convenient excuse increased immigration enforcement gives federal agents to trample your rights.

The harder they go after illegal immigrants, the more Americans will be ensnared, and have their rights violated. They will be stopped at checkpoints, subjected to illegal searches, and forced to be a witness against themselves.

This is how the government operates. Whether it is under the guise of a drug war, illegal immigration, or terrorism, their guns are truly only aimed at one target. The American people.

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Bitcoin, Sour Grapes, And The Institutional Herd

September 4, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

The point is institutional ownership of bitcoin is in the very early stages.

If I had a bitcoin for every time some pundit declared bitcoin is a bubble, I’d be a billionaire.

There are three problems with opining that bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are bubblicious:

1. Everything is in a bubble now: stocks, bonds, housing, heck, even bat guano is bubblicious. Exactly what insight is being added by yet another guru repeating the BTC is a bubble meme?

 

2. What’s the value proposition in declaring BTC is in a bubble? Spotting bubbles is like shooting fish in a barrel; the value proposition is in identifying the price/time tipping point at which bubbles pop.

 

3. Declaring bitcoin is a bubble is starting to sound like sour grapes. Sour grapes defined: those who missed the 10-bagger (never mind the 100-bagger) feel better by dismissing the whole thing as a fad and a bubble, but as BTC continues marching higher, it looks like they missed the boat but are too proud to admit they didn’t grasp the significance of cryptocurrencies and BTC in particular.

For those who don’t know what the fuss is about, here’s a one-year chart of bitcoin (BTC). Note the increase from $500 to $5,000 ($4.500 as I write this). Some initial coin offerings have made gains that make this mere 10-bagger look like small change.

This might look like a speculative side-game, but for institutional money managers, it’s getting serious. As we all know, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to manage money such that the returns on the managed money exceed the return of an S&P 500 index fund.

If a passive index fund does better over five years than an actively managed fund, then what the heck are we paying the fund managers big bucks for?

This is a question that occurs to everyone with money in a pension fund, mutual fund, insurance company, etc. Why are we paying these guys and gals annual salaries of $250,000 plus bonuses if they’re missing out on the big winners like bitcoin?

Let’s stipulate up front that no institutional money manager can speculate in the cryptocurrency equivalents of penny stocks, i.e. ICOs (initial coin offerings). The risk management rules of serious money funds preclude this sort of rampant speculation, no matter how potentially lucrative.

But bitcoin is different. It’s been around the longest, and has survived all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune tossed at it. Despite a much-dreaded hard-fork (greetings, BTC Cash), the original bitcoin still operates by the initial conditions set by the creator(s): there can only be 21 million bitcoins issued, and the management of the blockchain is not controlled by a central agency (though some miners are more equal than others–but that’s a thicket to explore another time).

Bitcoin is tailor-made for institutional ownership. While it is inherently volatile, it is stable and transparent; there is no “insider trading” or financial trickery (such as bogus financial statements) to be wary of. Unlike many other investment vehicles, it’s highly liquid.

Once exchange-trade funds (ETFs) based on direct ownership of BTC are widely available, this opens the door wider to both institutional and mom-and-pop investors.

All of this puts pressure on institutional money managers to buy some bitcoin so they don’t look like they missed the investment vehicle of the decade. Never mind when you bought it, or at what price; better to get in now before the price jumps even higher. Going forward, it will be this simple: either you own bitcoin or you’re out of a job.

This is the same reason virtually every institutional money fund owns Apple (AAPL)–if you don’t own Apple, then you missed out on the decade’s greatest investment story. So if your fund lags index funds, and has no ownership of Apple, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon and Tesla– here’s your pink slip, buddy–you blew it.

But wait–I bought bitcoin at $3,000, and added at $4,000! Hmm. Smart move. Maybe there’s hope for you yet.

The point is institutional ownership of bitcoin is in the very early stages. As bitcoin continues to advance, institutional money managers will be forced to buy in, just to avoid the fate of those who failed to buy Apple.

Money managers buying now at $4,500 will look like geniuses when it hits $10,000, and everybody who dismissed BTC as a bubble at $5,000 will face a bleak choice–either get some bitcoin in the portfolio or prepare for a pink slip.

When the institutional herd starts running, it’s best not to get trampled.

*  *  *

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com. Check out both of my new books, Inequality and the Collapse of Privilege ($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print) and Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform ($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print, $5.95 audiobook) For more, please visit the OTM essentials website.

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Saudi Arabia seeks Islamic tourism boost

September 4, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Pilgrimage is the backbone of a plan to expand tourism under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s economic reform programme, announced a year ago to diversify the economy away from oil. Pilgrims comprise the bulk of Saudi Arabia’s 20 million annual foreign visitors, apart from workers and business travellers. Nearly 2.4 million came for this year’s hajj, up from 1.9 million last year, and 7.5 million performed Umrah in 2016. “All these hotels and buildings around the mosque will bring more business, God willing,” said Awad al-Arshani, beckoning customers into his Dates of the Two Holy Mosques shop. The hajj, a journey every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it must perform once in a lifetime, is a profound experience for those […]

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Florida Stores Running Out Of Water, Gas As Gov Warns “Make Sure Your Disaster Kits Are Ready” For Irma

September 4, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Hurricane Irma is hurtling toward the eastern US faster than meteorological models anticipated. According to the latest readings from NOAA, the storm will probably make landfall in Southeastern Florida next weekend, or perhaps earlier – that is, unless wind patterns intervene and spare residents of Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach from flooding and winds witnessed in Texas and Louisiana, according to NOAA forecasts.

Bloomberg chief energy correspondent Javier Blas noted that the Hurricane has “shifted a lot further west,” and that, according to the latest forecasts, there’s still a small chance that Irma strikes the Gulf of Mexico, compounding the devastation that Harvey left behind.

#Irma forecast has shifted a lot further to the west — with some weather models suggesting a small chance (as today) of US GoM hit #OOTT pic.twitter.com/7ekw6gxEVW

— Javier Blas (@JavierBlas2) September 4, 2017

Here’s what we know about Irma (courtesy of the Weather.com & NOAA):

  • The center of Irma is located 610 miles east of the Leeward Islands and is moving west-southwestward at about 14 mph.
  • Irma is a Category 3 hurricane and satellite imagery shows that it has become better organized in the past day with an eye now clearly evident.
  • Low wind shear, increased mid-level moisture and ample oceanic heat content favor that Irma will remain a major hurricane (Category 3 or stronger) for the next several days, though some intensity fluctuations are likely.
  • One potential inhibitor of Irma maintaining its intensity would be if the hurricane’s core interacts with land as it cruises westward near the Greater Antilles later this week.

And Weather.com’s latest impact projections:

  • Leeward Islands: Late Tuesday-Wednesday
  • Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands: Wednesday-Thursday
  • Dominican Republic/Haiti: Thursday-Friday
  • Turks and Caicos: Thursday-Friday
  • Bahamas: Friday-next weekend
  • Cuba: Friday-next weekend
  • United States: Next weekend into early the following week

NOAA satellites captured this stunning video of the sun rising over the hurricane on Monday:

WATCH: @NOAASatellites loop shows sunrise this morning on Hurricane #Irma in the Atlantic. pic.twitter.com/YGFmvJtQoG

— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) September 4, 2017

Hurricane watches have been issued for the Leeward Islands, including Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, Sint Maarten, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy. According to Weather.com’s latest long-term forecast, by next weekend, Irma will be immediately southeast of the US.

At that point, jet stream dynamics will begin to turn it north. What happens after that will be critical in determining where – or whether – Irma lands in the US.   Meanwhile, residents of southeast Florida – having spent the last week reading about the flooding in Houston – are understandably starting to panic.

WPTV in West Palm Beach reports that Shelves of water at several stores were nearly empty Sunday, even as Irma’s path remains uncertain. Hardware stores are also running out of tanks of gas and other supplies.

One distressed shopper told WPTV that one Walmart had run out of bottled water.

“There was nothing at Walmart,” said Bianca Rodriguez of Palm Beach Gardens. “Not even like one thing of water.”

According to WPTV, emergency officials recommend people have one gallon of water per person, per day for at least five days in the event of a hurricane. Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned that “disaster preparedness” should be a priority for every family in the potential path of the storm.

One shopper said he bought the last remaining cases of bottled water at the Winn-Dixie in Palm Beach Gardens.

“Rodriguez found cases of bottled water at a Winn-Dixie on Military Trail in Palm Beach Gardens Sunday night.

 

‘I lucked out. There’s only a couple left, but at least there was enough for me,’ said Rodriguez.”

A Home Depot in Royal Palm Beach on Monday morning posted a sign that said they were short of some hurricane supplies.

As we continue to monitor Hurricane Irma, families should make sure their Disaster Supply Kits are ready today. https://t.co/ymXjrTHewW

— Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) September 3, 2017

Let’s hope they have time to restock before next weekend…
 

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Is Big Oil Prepared For The Natural Gas Era?

September 4, 2017 Irina Slav 0

By 2034, natural gas will overtake oil as the main source of energy, and by 2050 it will be the single largest such source globally, satisfying 27 percent of demand. That’s according to the first Energy Transition Outlook by DNV GL, a global quality assurance and risk management services provider for the oil and gas, maritime, and power industries. Gas supply, however, will peak in 2035. In crude oil, DNV’s report forecasts, supply will plateau between 2020 and 2028, after which it will begin declining steadily. That’s bad news…

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Erdogan to raise issue of Rohingya at UN

September 4, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday he would bring up the plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims at the next UN General Assembly meeting in New York later this month. Speaking to locals in Istanbul’s Catalca district on the final day of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, Erdogan said, Humanity has remained silent in the face of the Myanmar massacre. “I will bring up what is happening in Myanmar at the UN General Assembly on Sept. 19 in the broadest way,” he said.  “We will speak about all this with the leaders there.” As the rotating president of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Erdogan said that so far he has spoken to the leaders of around 20 countries […]

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North Korea Is “Begging For War”: Haley Tells Un “The Time For Half-Measures Is Over”

September 4, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

U.S. United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley is escalating the rhetoric from Trump’s “we’ll see” comment and aggressive tweets as she tells an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council, that “enough is enough” and that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, is “begging for war” with his “abusive use of missiles.”

 

Haley admonished the council, urging the “strongest possible” response…

The time for half measures in the security council is over. The time has come to exhaust all of our diplomatic means before it is too late.

 

We must now adopt the strongest possible measures. Kim Jong Un’s action cannot be seen as defensive.”

Just last month, the 15-member Security Council unanimously adopted new sanctions to slash by a third Pyongyang’s US$3 billion annual export revenue, which could be channeled to fund its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Some additional quotes from Haley include:

“We have taken an incremental approach, and despite the best intentions, it hasn’t worked.

 

“War is never something the United States wants, we don’t want it now, but our people’s patience is not unlimited.”

 

“We have kicked the can down the road long enough. There is no road left.”

Finally, Haley warned,

“The United States will view every country that does business with North Korea” as aiding their nuclear ambitions.”

Here are the countries that trade with North Korea, based on 2015 data from MIT’s Observatory of Economic Complexity.

  • China is the biggest player, buying 83% of North Korean exports and selling 85% of the goods that North Korea imports. China is also the United States’ largest trade partner. The countries traded $578 billion in goods last year.
  • India is second, accounting for 3.5% of exports and 3.1% of imports from North Korea.
  • All told, Asian countries buy 92% of North Korean exports and source 93% of North Korean imports
  • Russia is a European leader in North Korean trade, but accounts for less than 2% of imports and exports.
  • Over 100 additional countries trade with North Korea, including France, Mexico, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Chile.
  • North Korea’s exports increased 54% from $1.83 billion to $2.83 billion from 2010 to 2015.
  • Coal comprises a third of North Korean exports, and garments represent another third.

Additionally, in a veiled swipe at China, she also said it is “insulting” to propose a so-called “freeze for freeze” under which South Korea and the U.S. would suspend its annual military exercises that provoke Pyongyang in exchange for a halt to the North’s provocations.

Finally, we noted that at the top of the emergency meeting, Axios reports, a top U.N. official said North Korea’s hydrogen bomb test blast was 5 times as powerful as those resulting from the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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Brent Prices Fall After North Korean Nuclear Test

September 4, 2017 Tsvetana Paraskova 0

Brent prices were down on Monday morning after investors shied away from crude oil markets and instead turned to safer-haven gold futures after North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test over the weekend. At 09:40 am CST on Monday, Brent Crude was down 0.23 percent at US$52.63. Meanwhile, spot gold prices today touched a one-year high as investors flocked to safer asset classes. WTI Crude, the U.S. benchmark, was holding steady, up 0.38 percent at US$47.47. Trading in crude futures today is expected to be thin due to the Labor…

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