Germany: All EU Members Must Take In Migrants

Germany: All EU Members Must Take In Migrants

Authored by Soeren Kern via The Gatestone Institute,

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has unveiled a new plan to reform the European asylum system. A draft of the proposal leaked to the media shows that all member states of the European Union would be required to take in illegal migrants.

Countries in Central and Eastern Europe are opposed to mandatory relocations on the basis that decisions about the granting of residence permits should be kept at the national level. They have noted that by unilaterally imposing migrant quotas on EU member states, unelected bureaucrats in Brussels are seeking to force the democratically elected leaders of Europe to submit to their diktat.

Indeed, the continuing debate over migration is, at its core, about European federalism and the degree to which the European Union will be allowed to usurp decision-making powers from its 28 member states.

Seehofer presented his four-page plan to reform the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) to the new president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in Brussels on December 2. She is expected to unveil her migration proposals in February 2020, ahead of Germany’s six-month presidency of the European Council which begins in July 2020.

The new plan is aimed at replacing the European Union’s Dublin Regulation, a law that requires people seeking asylum in the EU to do so in the first European country they reach.

Southern European countries — especially Greece and Italy — have complained that, in the context of mass migration from Africa, Asia and the Middle East, the current system places an unfair and disproportionate burden on them. They say that all EU member states should take equal responsibility for migrants reaching European shores.

At the height of Europe’s migration crisis in September 2015, some EU member states voted to relocate 120,000 migrants from Italy and Greece to other parts of the bloc. This number was in addition to a July 2015 plan to redistribute 40,000 migrants from Italy and Greece.

Of the 160,000 migrants to be “shared,” nine countries in Central and Eastern Europe were ordered to take in around 15,000 migrants. Although the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia voted against the agreement, they were still required to comply.

In September 2017, the European Union’s highest court, the European Court of Justice (ECJ), ruled that the European Commission, the powerful executive arm of the European Union, has the legal right to order EU member states to take in so-called asylum seekers. It also ruled that EU member states have no legal right to resist those orders.

Hungary and Slovakia, backed by Poland, argued that the European Union broke its own rules and exceeded its powers when it approved the quota system with a “qualified majority” — around two thirds of the bloc’s members. They also argued that the relocation scheme is a direct violation of the Dublin Regulation.

The European Court of Justice ruled that a qualified majority vote was sufficient because the EU “was not required to act unanimously when it adopted the contested decision.” The ruling, which did not mention the Dublin Regulation, concluded: “The mechanism actually contributes to enabling Greece and Italy to deal with the impact of the 2015 migration crisis and is proportionate.”

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó called the court ruling “outrageous and irresponsible” and “contrary to the interests of the European nations, including Hungary.” He added: “The decision puts at risk the security of all of Europe and the future of all of Europe as well.”

In November 2019, the European Court of Auditors reported that of the 160,000 migrants intended to be shared by EU member states, ultimately only 34,705 people (21,999 from Greece and 12,706 from Italy) were relocated.

The leaders of France and Italy, during a recent bilateral meeting in Rome, called on the European Union to introduce a new, automatic system of taking in migrants. French President Emmanuel Macron said that he was “convinced that an automatic European mechanism is needed for the reception of immigrants,” and that EU countries that refused to take part in the scheme should be “seriously penalized.”

The leaked draft of Seehofer’s proposal states that the Dublin Regulation creates “clear imbalances” as “in 2018, 75 percent of all applications for international protection were lodged in only five member states.”

The document argues that the Dublin Regulation is “inefficient” because “in the entire EU, applicants are transferred to the member state (originally) responsible in only 3 percent of cases,” which means that in practice asylum seekers are not sent back to the country of first arrival.

The key part of the document calls for asylum applications to be assessed immediately upon arrival at the EU’s external border. From there, a newly created European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) would “determine” which member state is responsible for taking in the applicant and processing his or her application.

Seehofer’s plan is intended to be permanent and not limited to crisis situations. Notably, the plan does not address the issue of returning illegal migrants back to their countries of origin.

The plan studiously avoids using the politically explosive term “quota” and replaces it with “fair share” (gerechter Anteil). The document also omits the term “mandatory,” although it is assumed throughout that the migrant relocation scheme will be compulsory for all EU member states.

If everything goes according to plan, the draft legislation would be adopted by the European Parliament in the second half of 2020 when Germany holds the presidency of the EU. It would then be ratified by the European Council, made up of the leaders of the EU member states.

The new European Commissioner for the Promotion of the European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, expressed support for the scheme:

“Migration Commissioner Ylva Johansson and I met Horst Seehofer. We completely agree with Germany. We need this consensus from all Member States, and we are working hard to achieve it.”

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, however, voiced his opposition to the German plan. In an interview with the Czech news agency ČTK, he said that he saw through Seehofer’s semantics:

“We fundamentally reject illegal migration. We also reject allowing smuggling gangs to decide who will live in Europe. We reject quotas and I am surprised that this issue has once again returned to the negotiating table. I hope that the new European Commission will put a stop to this.”

Czech Interior Minister Jan Hamáček said that the Czech Republic would “coordinate our position” with the other members of the Visegrád Four (V4), a cultural and political alliance of four Central European states — the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said that the V4 would not bow to EU pressure to accept migrants:

“The V4’s position is clear. We are not willing to admit any illegal migrants into central Europe. The success and security of central Europe is thanks to our pursuit of a firm anti-migration policy, and this will endure.

“This is why central Europe is one of the most successful regions of the European Union today, and its engine of growth. We do not tolerate any kind of pressure and we Hungarians insist on our right to decide whom to allow into our country and with whom we wish to live.”

Tyler Durden

Fri, 12/06/2019 – 02:00

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Betraying The Constitution: Who Will Protect Us From An Unpatriotic Patriot Act?

Betraying The Constitution: Who Will Protect Us From An Unpatriotic Patriot Act?

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“It is the responsibility of the patriot to protect his country from its government.”

– Thomas Paine

While Congress subjects the nation to its impeachment-flavored brand of bread-and-circus politics, our civil liberties continue to die a slow, painful death by a thousand cuts.

Case in point: while Americans have been fixated on the carefully orchestrated impeachment drama that continues to monopolize headlines, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law legislation extending three key provisions of the USA Patriot Act, which had been set to expire on December 15, 2019.

Once again, to no one’s surprise, the bureaucrats on both sides of the aisle—Democrats and Republicans alike—prioritized political grandstanding over principle and their oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution.

As Congressman Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) predicted:

Today, while everyone is distracted by the impeachment drama, Congress will vote to extend warrantless data collection provisions of the #PatriotAct, by hiding this language on page 25 of the Continuing Resolution (CR) that temporarily funds the government. To sneak this through, Congress will first vote to suspend the rule which otherwise gives us (and the people) 72 hours to consider a bill. The scam here is that Democrats are alleging abuse of Presidential power, while simultaneously reauthorizing warrantless power to spy on citizens that no President should have… in a bill that continues to fund EVERYTHING the President does… and waiving their own rules to do it. I predict Democrats will vote on a party line to suspend the 72 hour rule. But after the rule is suspended, I suspect many Republicans will join most Democrats to pass the CR with the Patriot Act extension embedded in it.

Massie was right: Republicans and Democrats have no problem joining forces in order to maintain their joint stranglehold on power.

The legislation passed the Senate with a bipartisan 74-to-20 vote. It squeaked through the House of Representatives with a 231-192 margin. And it was signed by President Trump—who earlier this year floated the idea of making the government’s surveillance powers permanent—with nary a protest from anyone about its impact on the rights of the American people.

Spending bill or not, it didn’t have to shake down this way, even with the threat of yet another government shutdown looming.

Congress could have voted to separate the Patriot Act extension from the funding bill, as suggested by Rep. Justin Amash, but that didn’t fly. Instead as journalist Norman Solomon writes for Salon, “The cave-in was another bow to normalizing the U.S. government’s mass surveillance powers.”

That, right there, is the key to all of this: normalizing the U.S. government’s mass surveillance powers.

In the 18 years since the USA Patriot Act—a massive 342-page wish list of expanded powers for the FBI and CIA—was rammed through Congress in the wake of the so-called 9/11 terror attacks, it has snowballed into the eradication of every vital safeguard against government overreach, corruption and abuse.

The Patriot Act drove a stake through the heart of the Bill of Rights, violating at least six of the ten original amendments—the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Amendments—and possibly the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, as well.

The Patriot Act also redefined terrorism so broadly that many non-terrorist political activities such as protest marches, demonstrations and civil disobedience are now considered potential terrorist acts, thereby rendering anyone desiring to engage in protected First Amendment expressive activities as suspects of the surveillance state.

The Patriot Act justified broader domestic surveillance, the logic being that if government agents knew more about each American, they could distinguish the terrorists from law-abiding citizens—no doubt a reflexive impulse shared by small-town police and federal agents alike.

This, according to Washington Post reporter Robert O’Harrow, Jr., was a fantasy that “had been brewing in the law enforcement world for a long time.” And 9/11 provided the government with the perfect excuse for conducting far-reaching surveillance and collecting mountains of information on even the most law-abiding citizen.

Federal agents and police officers are now authorized to conduct covert black bag “sneak-and-peak” searches of homes and offices while you are away and confiscate your personal property without first notifying you of their intent or their presence.

The law also granted the FBI the right to come to your place of employment, demand your personal records and question your supervisors and fellow employees, all without notifying you; allowed the government access to your medical records, school records and practically every personal record about you; and allowed the government to secretly demand to see records of books or magazines you’ve checked out in any public library and Internet sites you’ve visited (at least 545 libraries received such demands in the first year following passage of the Patriot Act).

In the name of fighting terrorism, government officials are now permitted to monitor religious and political institutions with no suspicion of criminal wrongdoing; prosecute librarians or keepers of any other records if they tell anyone that the government has subpoenaed information related to a terror investigation; monitor conversations between attorneys and clients; search and seize Americans’ papers and effects without showing probable cause; and jail Americans indefinitely without a trial, among other things.

The federal government also made liberal use of its new powers, especially through the use (and abuse) of the nefarious national security letters, which allow the FBI to demand personal customer records from Internet Service Providers, financial institutions and credit companies at the mere say-so of the government agent in charge of a local FBI office and without prior court approval.

In fact, since 9/11, we’ve been spied on by surveillance cameras, eavesdropped on by government agents, had our belongings searched, our phones tapped, our mail opened, our email monitored, our opinions questioned, our purchases scrutinized (under the USA Patriot Act, banks are required to analyze your transactions for any patterns that raise suspicion and to see if you are connected to any objectionable people), and our activities watched.

We’re also being subjected to invasive patdowns and whole-body scans of our persons and seizures of our electronic devices in the nation’s airports. We can’t even purchase certain cold medicines at the pharmacy anymore without it being reported to the government and our names being placed on a watch list.

It’s only getting worse, folks.

Largely due to the continuous noise from television news’ talking heads, most Americans have been lulled into thinking that the pressing issues are voting in the next election, but the real issue is simply this: the freedoms in the Bill of Rights are being eviscerated.

The Constitution has been steadily chipped away at, undermined, eroded, whittled down, and generally discarded to such an extent that what we are left with today is but a shadow of the robust document adopted more than two centuries ago. Most of the damage has been inflicted upon the Bill of Rights—the first ten amendments to the Constitution—which historically served as the bulwark from government abuse.

Set against a backdrop of government surveillance, militarized police, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, eminent domain, overcriminalization, armed surveillance drones, whole body scanners, stop and frisk searches and the like—all sanctioned by Congress, the White House and the courts—a recitation of the Bill of Rights would understandably sound more like a eulogy to freedoms lost than an affirmation of rights we truly possess.

We can pretend that the Constitution, which was written to hold the government accountable, is still our governing document. However, the reality we must come to terms with is that in the America we live in today, the government does whatever it wants, freedom be damned.

What once were considered inalienable, fundamental “rights”  are now mere privileges to be taken away on a government bureaucrat’s say-so.

To those who have been paying attention, this should come as no real surprise.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the Constitution has been on life support for some time now, and is drawing its final breaths.

The American government, never a staunch advocate of civil liberties, has been writing its own orders for some time now. Indeed, as the McCarthy era and the wiretapping of Martin Luther King Jr. and others illustrates, the government’s amassing of power, especially in relation to its ability to spy on Americans, predates the passage of the Patriot Act in 2001.

What the Patriot Act and its subsequent incarnations did was legitimize what had previously been covert and frowned upon as a violation of Americans’ long-cherished privacy rights.

After all, the history of governments is that they inevitably overreach.

Thus, enabled by a paper tiger Congress, the president and other agencies of the federal government have repeatedly laid claim to a host of powers, among them the ability to use the military as a police force, spy on Americans and detain individuals without granting them access to an attorney or the courts. And as the government’s powers have grown, unchecked, the American people have gradually become used to these relentless intrusions into their lives.

In turn, the American people have become the proverbial boiling frogs, so desensitized to the government’s steady encroachments on their rights that civil liberties abuses have become par for the course.

Yet as long as government agencies are allowed to make a mockery of the very laws intended to limit their reach, curtail their activities, and guard against the very abuses to which we are being subjected on a daily basis, our individual freedoms will continue to be eviscerated so that the government’s powers can be expanded, the Constitution be damned.

Tyler Durden

Fri, 12/06/2019 – 00:05


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Where Are All The Billionaires’ Super-Yachts? Slump Signals Recession Dead-Ahead 

Where Are All The Billionaires’ Super-Yachts? Slump Signals Recession Dead-Ahead 

Investors looking for signs of a recession might want to focus their attention on recreational boating and mega-yacht sales, an industry that tends to decline ahead or during economic turning points. 

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NNMA) is worried about a weakening consumer next year. So far, sales are up for personal watercraft, wake sport boat, and larger fiberglass boat sales, but there’s a notable decline in freshwater fishing boat sales.

In recent quarters, the manufacturing recession has successfully transmitted weakness into consumers and services. Ten months of an employment slowdown, consumer confidence is expected to shift lower in 1H20. Deteriorating consumer confidence could lead to slumping boat sales in 2020, which would be another warning sign that a recession is ahead.

Superyacht dealers are also seeing a slowdown in sales because the ultra-wealthy are spooked by the real threat a global trade recession could arrive sometime next year. The ultra-wealthy are usually in the know of economic turning points, way ahead of the average person. They’re sometimes the smartest money in the room, and make moves before the broader shift occurs. And perhaps, the rich, abandoning their love for yachts this year is also another sign that a domestic and global slowdown will persist into 2020.

Bloomberg notes that superyacht dealers have reported only 102 sales through September, which is likely going to come in significantly weaker than the 199 sold in all of 2018. 

Thom Conboy, a superyacht broker for Dutch shipbuilder Heesen Yachts, said wealthy clients purchase yachts based on confidence in the global economy, and if there’s turmoil around the world, the clients don’t buy. 

Boating is a luxury; it all comes down to the disposable income of the middle class and ultra-wealthy consumers. So when pessimism and uncertainty unfold across the domestic and global economy, spending on boats and yachts tend to decline.

It seems that the boating industry could have a demand issue in 2020 when the global economy is expected to stumble into a trade recession. 

Must be nothing…

Tyler Durden

Thu, 12/05/2019 – 23:45

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Gun Control Groups Hide Behind Bogus “Police” Think-Tank To Disarm Americans

Gun Control Groups Hide Behind Bogus “Police” Think-Tank To Disarm Americans

Authored by Duane Norman via,

The myth that police support gun control legislation is one of the most frequent crutches used by gun control groups to support disarming Americans. At the forefront of this is the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a DC-based think tank with a long anti-gun history.

This is all done with your tax dollars, no less, as the Nationalist Review recently exposed the DOJ’s funding of PERF:

Between 2001 and 2017, PERF has received a combined $35.2 million in funding from federal, state, and local governments in the form of grants and contracts, according to 990 tax filings submitted by the DC based think tank. In addition to this funding, PERF receives millions more annually in the form of fees charged for training ($9,500 per officer for a three week course) and conference registrations ($3.3 million in 2018 alone)

Made up of police chiefs and executives from large cities, PERF policies have resulted in a “soft federalization” of policing, with “training courses” that yield almost zero flexibility for officers in the field, and this rigidity extends to the push to restrict civilian firearms ownership at every juncture.

Unsurprisingly, PERF was one of the major backstops for former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s first foray into gun control.  The push to repeal the Tiahrt Amendment (legislation protecting the privacy of gunowners’ personal information) was spearheaded by Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and supported by none other than PERF’s very own Chuck Wexler:

Mayors Against Illegal Guns last Tuesday stood on Capitol Hill with law enforcement officials and members of Congress to urge the repeal of the Tiahrt Amendment.

Members of Congress at the event included… Chuck Wexler, Executive Director of the Police Executive Research Forum.

Lest we forget, Mayors Against Illegal Guns was disbanded in 2014 and rebranded as Everytown for Gun Safety after the group’s mayors either turned against Bloomberg, or turned up in possession of illegal firearms:

While Bloomberg was restructuring his gun control apparatus, Wexler remained as PERF’s Executive Director, where in 2017, he pushed back against one of the only noble causes championed by then-AG Jeff Sessions – a drive to have police departments enforce immigration laws:

In 2017, when then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened to withhold federal funds from police departments that refused to enforce immigration laws, it was Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, who pushed back against him. Wexler claimed that if police departments assisted in detaining illegal immigrants, they would inhibit their ability to gain information from the community about recent crimes.

PERF supports every gun control policy imaginable, including, but not limited to:

  • Restrictions on firearm magazine capacity

  • Implementation of Universal Background Checks

  • “Red Flag” Laws

  • Microstamping technology in all new firearms

  • Opposition to removal of suppressors from NFA restriction

  • A reinstatement of Senator Dianne Feinstein‘s 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, where she famously stated on 60 Minutes that she would support door-to-door gun confiscation:

As previously mentioned by the Nationalist Review, PERF relies on failed retreads and anti-gun fanatics to head their departments, and there is perhaps no bigger example than former NYPD commissioner James O’Neill.  O’Neill even took his gun control platform to the national stage, appearing on 60 Minutes to plead againstNational Concealed Carry Reciprocity:

Cyrus Vance: I think it would be a disaster for New York City. And I think for major cities around the country.

James O’Neill: I think it’s insanity.

Vance and O’Neill have established a formidable coalition of prosecutors and police chiefs from nearly every big city in America to lobby senators to keep the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act from becoming law.

Of course, O’Neill continues to support support lackluster firearms training for NYPD officers, and the NYPD continues to be the only police department in the country with a mandated 12lb firearm trigger, a major contributor to poor firearm accuracy:

Comparison of a professional marksman shooting an NYPD trigger vs a stock trigger

When you hear about the NYPD taking 16 shots to kill one bad guy and accidentally wounding nine civilian passers-by, or officers firing 84 shots at a murder suspectand missing 83 times (with the only hit registering in the suspect’s calf), don’t blame the officers—blame their poor training and equipment, mandated by O’Neill all throughout his tenure as commissioner.

And yet, PERF is cited by nearly every liberal organization that supports gun control.  Former Connecticut Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, one of Bloomberg’s most endorsed candidates (via his Moms Demand and Everytown proxies), used PERF to proclaim that “every” major law enforcement organization opposed CCW Reciprocity.

This was her platform, right up until she was forced to abandon her re-election campaign in the wake of a sex scandal involving her chief of staff:

In early 2018, Esty faced public criticism after news reports revealed that her former chief of staff had been accused of sexual harassment and threats of violence against staff but that she kept him on the payroll for another three months and wrote him a positive letter of reference.

California Rep. Salud Carbajal recently used PERF to justify his push for “Red Flag” laws:

But it is hardly just politicians themselves who use PERF as a gun control crutch.  Parkland “victim” Cameron Kasky, another anti-gunner who exists solely on Bloomberg donations, used PERF police chief and noted gun-grabbing liar Chief Art Acevedo to promote his advocacy:

Rifles PERF wishes to ban frequently save lives:

Even the “conservative” Koch Brothers have donated hundreds of thousands to PERF:

Make no mistake about it, PERF anti-gun policies have infiltrated the Trump administration as well:

Remember Chuck Wexler? Here he is with none other than the architect of Fast and Furious: former Attorney General Eric Holder:

Ironically enough, Holder opposed Project Exile, a program which aimed to force federal prosecutions and guaranteed prison sentences for illegal firearms possession charges.  For a man who had no problem with the “soft federalization” of police throughout his career, it is rather amusing that he opposed the one tool that is lauded by both the NRA and police everywhere as a major contributor to a drastic drop in violent crime rates.

But perhaps no one more blatantly clings to PERF than Monsanto lobbyist and “stay-at-home mom” Shannon Troughton.  If you haven’t heard of her in the past, it’s because she changed her last name to Watts to try to duck her past as a lobbyist for big corporate interests when she joined Bloomberg’s newly rebranded Everytown:

Watts had the temerity to follow Hillary Clinton’s debunked suggestion that suppressors make firearms more deadly.  Sadly enough, PERF is all too willing to go along with both Hillary and Watts:

Ever wonder why former Speaker Paul Ryan never brought CCW Reciprocity or removal of Suppressor NFA restrictions to a vote?  Look no further than his connections to PERF:

Burlington’s police chief spent Martin Luther King Jr. Day meeting with other police leaders and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin to speak about law enforcement use of force.

The topic: A new policy created by the Police Executive Research Forum with the help of law enforcement partners across the country. Ryan’s hometown police department in Janesville recently adopted the policy, del Pozo said. The Burlington chief was one of five police leaders who helped forum members present the policy to Ryan.

Unfortunately, PERF does the exact opposite of what Ryan claimed to oppose – the soft federalization of local police:

“(Ryan) has never been interested in federalizing local functions, and he considers police a local function,” del Pozo said. “But he was interested in hearing what local police have done sort of on a voluntary basis to improve use-of-force outcomes in policing. We were just explaining the curriculum.”

Make no mistake about it, PERF has infiltrated every layer of our country’s policing and law enforcement apparatus, and draconian gun controls are all over their list of objectives. Whenever anyone states that there is “police support” for a gun control initiative you can bet your bottom dollar that PERF is one of the “police organizations” they’ll use to make that argument.

Tyler Durden

Thu, 12/05/2019 – 23:25

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US Fertility Rate Hit Record Low In 2018

US Fertility Rate Hit Record Low In 2018

The US fertility rate dropped for the fourth straight year in 2018, and has fallen approximately 15% since 2007, according to the National Center for Health Statistics – which reports that there were 59.1 births for every 1,000 women of childbearing age.

In total, 3,791,712 births were recorded across the country last year – extending a steep decline that began during the 2008 Recession, according to the New York Times.

As one user in Reddit’s “Childfree” forum notes: “Babies are expensive, and we’re all broke,” to which another user replied “Also, pregnancy and its effects on the body are gross and not worth it.”

There you go.

While teen pregnancy rates dropped the most at 7.4%, women between 20 – 24 years of age recorded the second steepest decline of any age demographic, while mothers aged 40-44 rose 2% from 2017 – a demographic which has risen almost continuously since 1985 as women choose to have children later in life.

“It’s clear that the traditional age-fertility pattern that held for Baby Boomers and Gen X women is shifting,” said Brookings Institution senior demographer William Frey, who notes that over 50% of women who had children in their late 30s last year had college degrees – eclipsing women in their late 20s.

“The data suggest that people want to establish themselves before having children,” said Johns Hopkins demographer Alison Gemmill. “They also want to make sure they have adequate resources to raise quality children.”

Meanwhile, suicide rates among young Americans are at 20-year highs.

The Times notes that Demographers have been scratching their heads over whether this is a “temporary phenomenon or a new normal, driven by deeper social change.”

Fertility rates tend to drop during difficult economic times, as people put off having babies, and then rise when the economy rebounds. That is what happened during and after the Great Depression of the 1930s. But this time around, the birthrate has not recovered with the economy. A brief uptick in the rate in 2014 did not last.

It is hard for me to believe that the birthrate just keeps going down,” said Kenneth M. Johnson, a demographer at the University of New Hampshire.

Mr. Johnson estimated that if the rate had remained steady at its 2007 level, there would have been 5.7 million more births in the country since then. –New York Times

The Times also notes that “Other sweeping social changes have accompanied the delay in childbearing. New data from the Census Bureau show that the median age of first marriage is now 28 for women and nearly 30 for men; in 1970, the median ages were 21 and 23,” according to Frey said. “This is a far cry from the 1950s, or even the 1980s and the 1990s.”

Meanwhile, this poor guy is just trying to reproduce:

Tyler Durden

Thu, 12/05/2019 – 23:05

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Prohibition Ended Today 86 Years Ago

Prohibition Ended Today 86 Years Ago

Authored by D.W.MacKenzie via The Mises Institute,

Today is an interesting milestone for Libertarian minded people, as well as those with a fondness for trivia.

86 years ago today FDR 86’d prohibition.

Drinking became a crime starting on January 17th 1920, and remained a crime until December 5th 1933. Prohibition serves as a leading example of what happens when people in a largely free society lose part of their freedom. Prohibition did not stop Americans from drinking, it just drove an industry underground and into the control of gangs. Consequently, gang violence escalated during the prohibition years.

Prohibition also escalated police raids against harmless commerce. Prohibition fueled speakeasies as dispensers of beer & booze. Speakeasies obviously dealt with violent gangs as suppliers, but speakeasy customers engaged in voluntary transactions for desired goods. Police raids on speakeasies drove willing customers out of these businesses now and then, and these raids prompted both corruption and a minor change in the English language.

One speakeasy was “Chumley’s” located at 86 Bedford Street in Manhattan. Some police acted as informants to the bartenders at Chumley’s: shortly before a raid they would call with the message to “86 the customers”, to stop business and push all customers out the door. Hence the term 86’d began as a term for putting a stop to illicit business in one bar, but developed subsequently into a more general term for getting rid of something or refusing service. Prohibition ended 86 years ago today.

This is perhaps the only day during any year that Libertarian minded person might find it appropriate to raise a toast to FDR.

Cheers to the 32nd President, for just this one occasion.

Tyler Durden

Thu, 12/05/2019 – 22:45

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China Will Use Millions Of Zimbabwe Citizens To Improve Facial Recognition Accuracy

China Will Use Millions Of Zimbabwe Citizens To Improve Facial Recognition Accuracy

As China spreads its economic footprints across multiple continents with The Belt and Road Initiative, and exercises more and more control over the lives of its subjects via a combination its Social Credit Score system and vast surveillance state, it appears Beijing’s Big Brother has run into an issue that needs to be addressed to achieve world domination… inaccuracy!

Facial recognition systems are becoming more and more mainstream and accepted by an increasing number of ‘average joes’ around the world as the cost of security (or just ease of life). The problem is, as we detailed previously, for some segments of society, it is wildly inaccurate.

Specifically, after Oakland and San Francisco voted against the use of facial recognition, Rep. Tashida Tlaib claimed that “the error rate among African-Americans, especially women,” was 60 percent.

During a test run by the ACLU of Northern California, facial recognition misidentified 26 members of the California legislature as people in a database of arrest photos.

Some tech firms have tried to ‘fix’ this extremely high-level of inaccuracy for certain cohorts by tricking black people into being scanned.

But China’s tech behemoths have taken the process of training their algos on non-white faces to a whole new level.

As The FT reports, a deal between Chinese facial recognition company CloudWalk and the government of Zimbabwe means the latter will send data on millions of African faces to the Chinese company to help train the technology.

African states tend to go along with what is being put forward by China and the ITU as they don’t have the resources to develop standards themselves,” said Richard Wingfield, head of legal at Global Partners Digital, a company working on human rights on the internet.

Perhaps somewhat shockingly, The FT reports that over the past few years, Chinese surveillance infrastructure has swept across regions from Angola to Zimbabwe. For example, earlier this year South African company Vumacam installed 15,000 surveillance cameras with facial recognition capabilities in Johannesburg, supplied by Hikvision.

In August, Uganda confirmed the nationwide installation of Huawei surveillance cameras with face recognition capabilities. Similarly, the Singapore government plans to install facial recognition cameras on its lampposts, a contract that Chinese start-up Yitu has bid for, according to local reports.

As Foreign Policy previously noted, this agreement will also enable Zimbabwe, a country with a bleak record on human rights, to replicate parts of the surveillance infrastructure that have made freedoms so limited in China. And by gaining access to a population with a racial mix far different from China’s, CloudWalk will be better able to train racial biases out of its facial recognition systems – a problem that has beleaguered facial recognition companies around the world and which could give China a vital edge.

“People did not consent to the use of their biometric data in this way,” Hove said.

“Unfortunately, people do not have any way of holding the government accountable as there are no laws in place or any regulatory body tasked with the protection of people’s privacy or data protection.

Zimbabwe’s 2002 Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act doesn’t cover biometric data or cross-border flows of data, and, as Hove notes, “the government has rarely ever acted in the people’s interests.”

The CloudWalk deal is built on the back of a long-standing relationship between former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s regime, seen by China as an ideological ally, and Beijing.

And like every other foreign deal done by a Chinese firm of late, it has been wrapped into China’s increasingly all-encompassing Belt and Road Initiative.

“We are concerned about the deal, given how CloudWalk provides facial recognition technologies to the Chinese police,” said Maya Wang, a senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch.

“We have previously documented [the Chinese] Ministry of Public Security’s use of AI-enabled technologies for mass surveillance that targets particular social groups, such as ethnic minorities and those who pose political threats to the government.”

Whether or not the technology is activated, the panopticon effect of visible surveillance – especially when labeled as facial recognition – has been claimed to reduce crime.

However, as Michael Maharrey of the Tenth Amendment Center recently notedfacial recognition puts every person who crosses its path into a perpetual lineup without any probable cause. It tramples restrictions on government power intended to protect our right to privacy. It feeds into the broader federal surveillance state. And at its core, it does indeed fundamentally undermine liberty.

But, for Zimbabweans and Angolans – who perhaps face little choice when the ‘partner’ in multi-billion-dollar investment plans is China – giving up liberty and freedom is preferable to yet more hyperinflation. For Natasha Msonza, the co-founder of the Digital Society of Zimbabwe, “it feels like [CloudWalk] is looking for guinea pigs,” she said, adding, “I don’t believe that the Zimbabwe government gave this proposition much thought before volunteering its citizens to be subjected to racial facial recognition experiments.”

Tyler Durden

Thu, 12/05/2019 – 22:25


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Author: Tyler Durden

November Payrolls Preview: This May Actually Matter

November Payrolls Preview: This May Actually Matter

With the Fed now on hold well into 2020 (by which we mean no rates hikes ever and a rate cut as soon as the S&P drops more than 10%), Powell’s reaction function is once again data-dependent, which is why tomorrow’s payrolls report might actually matter to markets: if very strong, it may just skewer stocks as the odds of a rate hike, improbable as they may be, will rise; if ugly – which is far more likely after our analysis over the weekend and yesterday’s disastrous ADP – it could send the S&P to new all time highs as traders anticipate another rate cut in the coming months.

With that in mind, here’s what consensus expects the BLS to release tomorrow at 8:30am ET: An above trend 180k in November; The unemployment rate is seen unchanged, though some gauges suggest the jobless rate could be subject to upside risk. The pace of wage growth is seen rising a touch in the month. Other indicators have been mixed; the ADP gauge of payrolls missed expectations, but did not contain the positive impact from GM workers returning from strikes; jobless claims data surged to a five-month high in the survey week, though has subsequently fallen towards the low end of its recent range, providing a mixed signal. The ISM manufacturing survey’s employment sub index was weak, though the services gauge, which is more representative of the US economy, ticked up slightly. Meanwhile, announced job cuts are down on a monthly and yearly basis, though the YTD measure in November was the highest since 2015.

Here is a summary of the key expectations, courtesy of RanSquawk

  • Non-farm Payrolls: Exp. 180k, Prev. 128k.
    • Private Payrolls: Exp. 175k, Prev. 131k.
    • Manufacturing Payrolls: Exp. 38k, Prev. -36k.
    • Government Payrolls: Prev. -3k.
  • Avg. Earnings M/M: Exp. 0.3%, Prev. 0.2%.
    • Avg. Earnings Y/Y: Exp. 3.0%, Prev. 3.0%.
  • Avg. Work Week Hours: Exp. 34.4hrs, Prev. 34.4hrs.
  • Unemployment Rate: Exp. 3.6%, Prev. 3.6%. (FOMC currently projects 3.7% at end-2019, and 4.2% in the long run).
    • U6 Unemployment Rate: Prev. 7.0%.
    • Labour Force Participation: Exp. 63.3%, Prev. 63.3%.

TREND RATES:  The street looks for 180k nonfarm payrolls to be added to the US economy in November, slightly above recent trend rates (3-month average 176k, 6-month average 156k, 12-month average 174k). While the jobless rate is seen remaining at 3.6%, analysts note that the differential between jobs ‘plentiful’ and jobs ‘hard-to-get’ in the CB consumer confidence data narrowed from 35.1 to 32.1, leaving some risk of a rise in the unemployment rate. Consumers are seemingly optimistic on wage growth, with the latest confidence data showing the anticipation of an improvement in future wages rising slightly in the month (from 21.4 to 21.8), while those expecting a decrease declined slightly (6.9 to 6.2).

INITIAL JOBLESS CLAIMS: In the payroll survey week, initial jobless claims printed 228k, the highest weekly print since May, with the four-week moving average rising to 221.25k (compared to 213k weekly print in the October survey week, where the four-week moving average was 215.25k). Pantheon Macroeconomics said that the data got its attention, given it has printed five-month highs in two consecutive weeks. Its economists, however, said that at this point, it cannot be sure if it was a real sign of a change in the labour market, not least because some of the increase appeared to be due to the California wildfires. “We need to see more data before making any sort of macro call, but a clear and sustained increase in claims would be a real warning sign,” Pantheon writes, “so far, all the downshift in job gains has been due to slower hiring; if layoffs rise too, payroll growth will weaken substantially further.”

ADP: According to the ADP’s measure of payrolls, 67k jobs were added to the US economy in November – short of the 145k consensus, and missing even the most pessimistic forecast  (range was between 120-188k); Capital Economics says the data presents downside risks to its 170k forecast, though does note that the official payrolls data will be boosted by an approximately 50k rise in auto sector employment after GM workers returned from strike — the ADP’s data did not include this effect. “This report adds to signs that the labour market is still losing momentum, suggesting that income growth and thus real consumption growth will slow a little further in the near term,” Capital Economics writes, “but it would take a much sharper downturn in employment growth to raise recession fears and prompt the Fed into additional rate cuts.”

ISM: The ISM manufacturing survey saw the employment subindex fall by 1.1 points in the month, taking it to 46.6 points, with the contraction extending to four months. ISM said that three of the six big industry sectors expanded employment, and three contracted during the period, an improvement from the previous month, and also said that labour force-reduction concerns remained generally constant. (NOTE: ISM says that an employment sub-index above 50.8, over time, is generally consistent with an increase in the BLS data on manufacturing employment (you have to go back to the July data for the latest print above that level). The employment sub index within the non-manufacturing ISM told a better story, rising 1.8 points in November to 55.5, with respondents stating “we are in a workforce crisis, unable to attract and/or retain workers” and “hiring more personnel to support operations.

CHALLENGER JOB CUTS: Challenger announced job cut announcements by US firms fell to a rate of 44,569 in November, from 50,275 in October – – down 11% M/M and down 16% Y/Y; however, the YTD figure is higher, with employers announcing plans to cut 559,713 jobs, which is 13.1% higher than the 494,775 cuts announced through November 2018, and the highest January-November total since 2015, when 574,888 cuts were announced. Challenger also said that job cuts announced in 2019 have already surpassed the full-year total in 2018, when 538,659 cuts were announced. The report said “employers did not make large-scale job cut plans in November. While concerns of a downturn may linger, consumer confidence is strong and companies are holding on to their employees in a tight labour market.” On a more optimistic note, the report noted that hiring plans by US companies were at a record high, and that through October, companies announced 1,181,438 hiring plans, 564,781 of which are for the holiday season.

Arguing for a Weaker Report:

  • Winter weather. Snowstorms during the survey period in Chicago and other parts of the Midwest may have weighed on November payroll growth. As shown in Exhibit 1, our population-weighted snowfall dataset was above average during the November survey week. While the impact is uncertain, we are assuming a weather impact of around -10k in tomorrow’s report.

  • Holiday retail hiring. Thanksgiving was relatively late this year (November 28th n ) and this could reduce the number of holiday retail employees reflected in the November survey period. As shown in Exhibit 2, retail job growth tends to be weak in similar calendar configurations, decelerating relative to the 3-month average in each of the last four instances (though the magnitude of this drag may be waning over time).

  • ADP. The payroll-processing firm ADP reported a 67k increase in November private employment, 68k below consensus and well below the 135k average pace over the three prior months. While the inputs to the ADP model argued for a weak reading, the shortfall was considerably larger than expected. The fact that job creation slowed “across all company sizes” in the ADP panel also indicates some legitimate weakness in November job growth.
  • Job availability. The Conference Board labor market differential—the difference between the percent of respondents saying jobs are plentiful and those saying jobs are hard to get—retrenched by 4.0pt to +32.1 in November. Other job availability readings were similarly softer: JOLTS job openings declined to their lowest level since early 2018 (-277k to 7,024k in September) and the Conference Board’s Help Wanted Online index fell (-3.0pt to 100.5 in October)

Arguing for a Stronger Report:

  • End of GM Strike. As indicated in the BLS strike report, 46k General Motors employees did not work during the October payroll period due to a United Auto Workers strike. The return of these workers is set to boost tomorrow’s manufacturing growth reading by 46k (a 2k metalworkers strike will provide a slight offset to the overall payroll impact).
  • Labor market slack. With the labor market somewhat beyond full employment, we see the dwindling availability of workers as one factor weighing on job growth this year. However, as shown in Exhibit 3, first-print November job growth often accelerates when the labor market is tight—for example in 1988, 1989, 1997, 1998, 2000, and 2006. We believe some firms may have pulled forward hiring or reduced year-end layoff activity, anticipating a shortage of applicants in future months.
  • Employer surveys. Business activity surveys were mixed in November (roughly unchanged on net for headline manufacturing surveys but somewhat stronger for services). While the employment components generally declined for the manufacturing sector (tracker -0.7 to 52.8), they improved for the much larger services sector (+1.0 to 52.4). Service-sector job growth was 157k in October and averaged 136k over the last six months, while manufacturing payroll employment contracted by 36k in October, below its +3k average over the prior six months but quite strong given the 46k drag from the GM strike.
  • Job cuts. Announced layoffs reported by Challenger, Gray & Christmas declined by 6k in November to 46k (SA by GS), and were 10k below their November 2018 level. The sequential decline in announced layoffs primarily reflects a reversal in the technology (-8k) sector.
  • Census hiring. Temporary employment related to the 2020 Census declined 19k in October as address-canvassing operations wound down. There were still 9k Census employees in the October payroll counts, and we expect a further modest drop in November (we assume -5k)

Source: RanSquawk, Goldman

Tyler Durden

Thu, 12/05/2019 – 22:24

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Shale’s Debt-Fueled Drilling Boom Is Coming To An End

Shale’s Debt-Fueled Drilling Boom Is Coming To An End

Authored by Nick Cunningham via,

The financial struggles of the U.S. shale industry are becoming increasingly hard to ignore, but drillers in Appalachia are in particularly bad shape.

The Permian has recently seen job losses, and for the first time since 2016, the hottest shale basin in the world has seen job growth lag the broader Texas economy. The industry is cutting back amid heightened financial scrutiny from investors, as debt-fueled drilling has become increasingly hard to justify.

But E&P companies focused almost exclusively on gas, such as those in the Marcellus and Utica shales, are in even worse shape. An IEEFA analysis found that seven of the largest producers in Appalachia burned through about a half billion dollars in the third quarter.

Gas production continues to rise, but profits remain elusive. “Despite booming gas output, Appalachian oil and gas companies consistently failed to produce positive cash flow over the past five quarters,” the authors of the IEEFA report said.

Of the seven companies analyzed, five had negative cash flow, including Antero Resources, Chesapeake Energy, EQT, Range Resources, and Southwestern Energy. Only Cabot Oil & Gas and Gulfport Energy had positive cash flow in the third quarter.

The sector was weighed down but a sharp drop in natural gas prices, with Henry Hub off by 18 percent compared to a year earlier. But the losses are highly problematic. After all, we are more than a decade into the shale revolution and the industry is still not really able to post positive cash flow. Worse, these are not the laggards; these are the largest producers in the region.

The outlook is not encouraging. The gas glut is expected to stick around for a few years. Bank of America Merrill Lynch has repeatedly warned that unless there is an unusually frigid winter, which could lead to higher-than-expected demand, the gas market is headed for trouble. “A mild winter across the northern hemisphere or a worsening macro backdrop could be catastrophic for gas prices in all regions,” Bank of America said in a note in October.

The problem for Appalachian drillers is that Permian producers are not really interested in all of the gas they are producing. That makes them unresponsive to price signals. Gas prices in the Permian have plunged close to zero, and have at times turned negative, but gas production in Texas really hinges on the industry’s interest in oil. This dynamic means that the gas glut becomes entrenched longer than it otherwise might. It’s a grim reality plaguing the gas-focused producers in Appalachia.

With capital markets growing less friendly, the only response for drillers is to cut back. IEEFA notes that drilling permits in Pennsylvania in October fell by half from the same month a year earlier. The number of rigs sidelined and the number of workers cut from payrolls also continues to pile up.

The negative cash flow in the third quarter was led by Chesapeake Energy (-$264 million) and EQT (-$173 million), but the red ink is only the latest in a string of losses for the sector over the last few years. As a result, the sector has completely fallen out of favor with investors.

But gas drillers have fared worse, with share prices lagging not just the broader S&P 500, but also the fracking-focused XOP ETF, which has fallen sharply this year. In other words, oil companies have seen their share prices hit hard, but gas drillers have completely fallen off of a cliff. Chesapeake Energy even warned last month that it there was “substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern.” Its stock is trading below $1 per share.

Even Cabot Oil & Gas, which posted positive cash flow in the third quarter, has seen its share price fall by roughly 30 percent year-to-date. “Even though Appalachian gas companies have proven that they can produce abundant supplies of gas, their financial struggles show that the business case for fracking remains unproven,” IEEFA concluded.

Tyler Durden

Thu, 12/05/2019 – 22:05

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New ATF Study: 423 Million Guns In Hands Of Americans

New ATF Study: 423 Million Guns In Hands Of Americans

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,

Violent crime rate has decreased by 48.6 percent in tandem with ownership rise…

Newly released figures from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives shows that there are now a whopping 422.9 million guns in the hands of Americans. The number equates to 1.2 guns for every person in the country.

The figures also show that in 2018, 8.1 billion rounds of ammunition were produced by the gun industry.

The figures also reveal that the most popular firearm in the country is the much maligned sporting rifle, often mis-identified as an “assault rifle”, the AR-15 being one of the more popular models.

The findings highlight that there are now 17.7 million of them in private hands, a record high, and more than half (54%) of all rifles produced in 2017 were modern sporting rifles.

The ATF figures also reveal that firearms-ammunition manufacturing accounted for nearly 12,000 jobs in the US, creating over $4.1 billion in goods shipped in 2017.

“These figures show the industry that America has a strong desire to continue to purchase firearms for lawful purposes,” said Joe Bartozzi, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

“The modern sporting rifle continues to be the most popular centerfire rifle sold in America today and is clearly a commonly owned firearm with more than 17 million in legal private ownership today.” Bartozzi continued.

“The continued popularity of handguns demonstrates a strong interest by Americans to protect themselves and their homes and to participate in the recreational shooting sports,” Bartozzi added.

Bartozzi also noted that “as lawful firearms ownership in America continues to grow, criminal and unintentional misuse of firearms is falling.”

“During the 25-year period covered in this report (1993–2017) the violent crime rate has decreased by 48.6 percent and unintentional firearm-related fatalities have declined by 68 percent.” he added.

One reason why the popularity of the sporting rifle continues to grow may be because it is routinely criticized and targeted in arguments for stricter gun control.

Justin Anderson of Hyatt Guns, one of the biggest firearm retailers in the country noted that “Sales have definitely been brisk, especially of small, concealable handguns. We also saw a spike in sales of tactical rifles like AR-15s and AK-47s, for which I think we can confidently thank Beto O’Rourke.”

During a failed presidential run, Beto said on multiple occasions that he would ban AR-15s, and even go door to door to confiscate the weapons from Americans.

With a near record high of gun sales on Black Friday last week, Americans are sending a clear message in exercising their Second Amendment rights.

Tyler Durden

Thu, 12/05/2019 – 21:25

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