Canadian Businesswoman Says Three Male CBP Agents Sexually Assaulted Her at the Border

A Canadian businesswoman says she was sexually assaulted by three U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers during a motorcycle trip on May 14. The three male officers were ostensibly searching her orifices for contraband, which they did not find. Even by the depraved standards of the war on drugs, the ordeal she describes is outrageous, since the agents do not seem to have had the “reasonable suspicion” legally required to justify a body cavity search at the border and CBP policy says such examinations should be conducted by agents of the same sex as the traveler.

The 51-year-old woman, whose name was removed from the Kelowna Now article about the incident after the story provoked “an overwhelming barrage of criticism” that “impacted her business and family,” planned to ride with a female friend from Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia, to Elmo, Montana. At the Roosville, Montana, border crossing, she was questioned by a CBP officer who wondered why she was visiting Elmo, which he described as “Indian country.” The woman says she was then separated from her friend and ushered into an inspection building, where three officers searched her motorcycle and her wallet, in which they found a perfectly legal interim motorcycle license that they deemed suspicious. To resolve their suspicions, they said, she would have to remove her clothing and submit to probing of her anus and vagina.

“I said, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong; I don’t know why you would need to do that,'” the woman told Kelowna Now. “I got scared. I got really scared. I said, ‘Can you please call the police?’ And they said, ‘No, we’re not going to call the police.’ They said that they have more power than the police, and the police have no jurisdiction now, and whatever they say goes.”

That is not quite true, but according to the Supreme Court constitutional restrictions on searches and seizures are relaxed at the border, where brief detention and questioning do not require any special justification and searches can be conducted based on “reasonable suspicion,” as opposed to the usual standard of “probable cause.” Reasonable suspicion is supposed to be be based on “specific and articulable facts,” “taken together with rational inferences from those facts.” It amounts to more than an “inchoate and unparticularized suspicion or ‘hunch.'”

In this case, the only basis for suspicion seems to have been the fact that the woman was riding to Elmo, Montana, with a temporary motorcycle license. If that is enough to justify a strip search and body cavity probe, novice Canadian bikers would be well-advised to avoid the United States.

“They took my clothes off,” the woman said, “and did an internal cavity search of my body. And it was awful. It was really bad, and I just can’t understand. I just kept saying to them, ‘How could you do this to a woman? This is not right.'” The search, which took about 45 minutes, turned up nothing illegal. “The part that makes me feel worthless and dirty and crappy is the fact that these people have such incredible power to make a female disrobe and that they can enter their body,” she said. 

The woman was so shaken by the experience that she and her friend cut their trip short, staying overnight in a hotel before returning the next day to Canada. After crossing the border, she was pulled over for speeding by an RCMP officer, who after hearing her story “comforted her and set her up with victim services in Canada.” She said she repeatedly tried to lodge an online complaint with the CBP, but her report kept disappearing when she tried to submit it.

CBP spokesman Jason Givens declined to comment on the incident, citing privacy concerns, but confirmed that a female traveler should have been searched by a female officer. “Customs and Border Protection takes complaints very seriously,” Givens told Kelowna Now. “If a traveler feels they have been mistreated or that the inspection was not conducted in a professional manner, they should ask to speak with a CBP supervisor immediately.” 

[Thanks to Mark Sletten for the tip.]

from Hit & Run

Global Stocks, US Futures Slide On Mediocre Manufacturing Data, Yen Surge

Following the latest set of global economic news, most notably a mediocre set of Chinese Official and Caixin PMIs, coupled with a mix of lackluster European manufacturing reports and an abysmal Japanese PMI, European, Asian stocks and U.S. stock index futures have continued yesterday’s losses. Oil slips for 4th day, heading for the longest run of declines since April, as OPEC ministers gather in Vienna ahead of a meeting on Thursday to discuss production policy. The biggest winner was the Yen, rising 1%, with the USDJPY tumbling overnight and pushing both the Nikkei 1.6% lower and weighing on US futures, when Abe’s official confirmatin of a 2.5 year delay in Japan’s sales tax appears to have backfired once again, and led to a rush to safety reaction.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index declined to a one-week low, with 18 out of 19 Stoxx 600 sectors falling; the MSCI Asia Pacific Index halted a five-day winning streak and copper fell by the most in three weeks. S&P500 futures declined 0.3%. The yen strengthened the most in a month as Japan delayed a planned sales-tax hike, as a result Japan’s Topix index slid 1.3 percent even as Softbank Group Corp. climbed to its highest in more than a month in Tokyo after announcing plans to sell at least $7.9 billion of its stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. India’s rupee dropped after a local-language newspaper reported that central bank Governor Raghuram Rajan doesn’t want an extension of his term. Crude oil slipped toward $48 a barrel before an OPEC meeting on Thursday. The pound weakened for a second day on speculation a vote for Brexit is becoming more likely.

Summarizing the slew of overnight economic and PMI data:

  • Caixin China May Manufacturing PMI 49.2, Matching Estimate
  • Nikkei Japan May Manufacturing PMI 47.7 vs 48.2 in April
  • Nikkei India May Manufacturing PMI 50.7 vs 50.5 in April
  • Spain May Manufacturing PMI 51.8 vs 53.5 in April; Est. 52.5
  • Swiss May Manufacturing PMI Rises to 55.8; Est. 54.0
  • Italy May Manufacturing PMI 52.4 vs 53.9 in April; Est. 53
  • France May Manufacturing PMI 48.4 vs Flash Reading 48.3
  • Germany May Manufacturing PMI 52.1 vs Flash Reading 52.4
  • Eurozone May Manufacturing PMI 51.5 vs Flash Reading 51.5
  • U.K. May Manufacturing PMI 50.1 vs 49.4 in April; Est. 49.6
  • Swiss GDP Expands 0.1% Q/q in 1Q; Est. Expands 0.3% Q/q
  • South Korea’s May Exports Fall 6% Y/y; Est. -0.4%
  • Indonesia May Consumer Prices Rise 0.24% M/m; Est. +0.20%

As noted last night, China’s purchasing managers’ indexes for May added to evidence that growth remains subdued after the economy expanded last year at the slowest pace in more than two decades. Similar manufacturing gauges for the euro area and U.K. pointed to mediocre expansion, while a gauge for the U.S. is also due Wednesday. Polls showing an increased risk that the U.K. will vote to leave the European Union in a June referendum are also making investors wary.

In light of the poor global PMI data, concerns about global growth have returned: “In normal global cycles, global trade would be running at around double global GDP, but post the GFC (Great Financial Crisis), global trade has been running only half of the rate of previous cycles. It would seem that trade is caught in a vicious cycle of ever rising inventories, falling industrial production and declining global trade volumes,” Jefferies equity strategists including Sean Darby and Kenneth Chan wrote in a note.

“The recovery in Europe is not accelerating and we have a very, very heavy week for data and events still ahead of us, so you can forgive people for a wait-and-see mood,” said William Hobbs, head of Europe, Middle East and Africa investment strategy at the wealth-management unit of Barclays Plc in London. “Markets are trapped a little bit, people are worried about geopolitics and the British referendum. This is keeping investors on the sidelines in case the worst-case scenario comes through.”

Market Snapshot:

  • S&P 500 futures down 0.3% to 2089
  • Stoxx 600 down 0.7% to 345
  • FTSE 100 down 0.5% to 6197
  • DAX down 0.4% to 10218
  • German 10Yr yield down 1bp to 0.13%
  • Italian 10Yr yield up 3bps to 1.38%
  • Spanish 10Yr yield up 3bps to 1.5%
  • S&P GSCI Index down 1.1% to 366.9
  • MSCI Asia Pacific down 0.2% to 129
  • Nikkei 225 down 1.6% to 16956
  • Hang Seng down 0.3% to 20761
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.1% to 2914
  • S&P/ASX 200 down 1% to 5323
  • US 10-yr yield down 1bp to 1.83%
  • Dollar Index down 0.3% to 95.6
  • WTI Crude futures down 1.4% to $48.42
  • Brent Futures down 1.7% to $49.06
  • Gold spot up less than 0.1% to $1,216
  • Silver spot down less than 0.1% to $15.98

Global Headline News Wrap

  • SoftBank Plans to Sell at Least $7.9 Billion of Alibaba Stake: Japanese company is seeking to boost cash, pay down debt
  • Euro-Area Manufacturing Near Stagnation Signals Slowdown Ahead: manufacturing in 19-nation euro area barely grew in May
  • OECD Blasts Governments as World Slips Into ‘Low-Growth Trap:’ distortions from ultra-loose monetary policy are growing; global economy will fail to accelerate this year
  • Staples CEO to Step Down Following Failed Office Depot Merger: North American President Goodman to take interim CEO job
  • China’s Xiaomi Buys Microsoft Patents to Spur Global Forays: patents cover wireless communications, video and cloud
  • MGM Resorts Buys Borgata Stake From Boyd Gaming for $900m: gains full ownership of Atlantic City’s top-performing casino
  • Shari Redstone Says Viacom Shareholders Want New Management: says she isn’t seeking to manage company or become chairman
  • Valvoline Files for IPO as Parent Shifts Focus to Chemicals: share sale of oil-change retailer targeted for 4Q; parent co. to rename itself Ashland Global Holdings Inc.
  • Adelson Settles Six-Year Feud With Fired Sands China Chief: confidential accord averts Las Vegas trial on 2010 lawsuit
  • Las Vegas Sands to Pay $75m-$100m to Settle Jacobs Case: WSJ
  • May U.S. Auto Sales Seen Little Changed; Annual Pace in Focus: preview
  • Musk Says It’s ‘Obvious’ Model 3 Owners to Pay for Superchargers: to likely charge owners of forthcoming Model 3 sedan to use co.’s network of Supercharging stations
  • Einhorn’s Main Greenlight Capital Hedge Fund Loses 1.9% in May: lost 1.9% in main hedge fund in May even as stocks climbed

Looking at regional markets, Asian stocks maintained the subdued lead from Wall Street with the region’s bourses mixed as they digested a slew of data releases and remained cautious ahead of this week’s key risk events. Nikkei 225 (-1.6%) declined at the open as commodity-sector weakness and a firmer JPY set the tone in early trade, while markets also ignored confirmation that PM Abe is to delay the sales tax hike as this was widely expected. ASX 200 (-1.0%) failed to benefit from better than expected GDP which expanded by the most in 3% years, as the firm data also dampened prospects of further RBA action. Chinese Markets outperformed with Shanghai Comp (-0.1%) and Hang Seng (-0.3%) only showing modest losses following Manufacturing PMI releases in which the Official reading beat expectations and the Caixin figure printed in line, despite posting a 3-month low. 10yr JGBs traded marginally higher amid weakness in Japanese stocks and was also underpinned by the BoJ presence in the market for JPY 430b1n of government debt.

Top Asian News

  • China Factory Gauge Signals Further Economic Stabilization: May Manufacturing PMI 50.1 vs est. 50.0
  • Abe Postpones Japan’s Tax Hike Ahead of Upper House Election: Abe vows reform, stimulus to achieve strong economic growth
  • Australia Economy Grows Most in Four Years Thanks to Exports: 1Q GDP rises 1.1% q/q vs est. 0.8% gain
  • Macau Casino Revenue Decline Deepens in May on Tighter Rules: Revenue fell 9.6% in May compared with 9.5% drop in April

In Europe, like in Asia, there was a subdued start for much of the morning (Euro Stoxx 50 -0.8%) swamped by an air of caution ahead of key risk events later in the week. Equities were initially pressured at the open amid broad based softness among financial names, while Mfg. PMI figures across the Eurozone have provided a mixed bag as to the health of the economy across Europe. As such, the slight weakness in Europe provided a lift for fixed income markets with bunds firmly above 164.00, while the long end has continued to extend on its recent outperformance on residual month-end duration extension buying. In terms of this morning’s auctions, Germany drew a higher b/c than previous with a retention by the Buba of 18.88%m„ while the UK’s auction was less impressive than previous with a 0.6bps tail.

Top European News

  • HSBC Said to Cut Senior Investment-Banking Jobs to Lower Costs: job cuts part of ongoing plan to reduce costs
  • Bayer’s Baumann Says Monsanto Takeover Will Take Time: WiWo; Bayer’s planned takeover of Monsanto “won’t be a sprint, but rather a marathon,” CEO tells WirtschaftsWoche in interview
  • Ahold Earnings Beat Estimates on Revamp in U.S., Netherlands: underlying operating income rises 15% to EU449m
  • Sainsbury Sales Drop Accelerates Amid Fewer Promotional Offers: U.K. grocer posts biggest market share decline in 15 months
  • U.K. Manufacturing Stays Subdued as Brexit Referendum Looms: U.K. manufacturing unexpectedly returned to growth in May, though the pace was subdued
  • Swiss Growth Unexpectedly Slows on Weak Government Demand: 1Q GDP rises 0.1%, estimate was for 0.3% increase

In FX, the yen strengthened 1 percent as Prime Minister Abe told lawmakers he will “mobilize fiscal policy to achieve strong growth.” “Abe has already decided on the sales tax and he said he will come up with more fiscal stimulus,” said Roy Teo, a senior currency strategist in Singapore at ABN Amro Bank NV. “From that perspective perhaps the market is speculating that with more fiscal stimulus in the pipeline then the BOJ may delay further easing policies. If the BOJ delays then it’s positive for the yen.” The pound declined 0.2 percent to $1.4455 after dropping 1.1 percent on Tuesday, when ICM opinion polls released by the Guardian showed a lead for the campaign to take Britain out of the EU. A gauge of the pound’s one-month volatility versus the dollar climbed to 20 percent on Wednesday, the highest since 2009. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index declined 0.3 percent, after a 3.7 percent surge in May that marked its biggest monthly gain since September 2014. The odds of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates in June almost tripled last month to 34 percent, while the chance of a move by July roughly doubled to 54 percent, Fed Funds futures show. The euro advanced 0.2 percent versus the greenback before a European Central Bank policy meeting on Thursday. The yuan erased a decline of as much as 0.2 percent that took it close to a five-year low, while New Zealand’s currency rose 0.6 percent after a gauge of the nation’s terms of trade increased by more than economists forecast.

In commodities, the Bloomberg Commodity Index slid 0.7 percent, falling for a second day. West Texas Intermediate crude fell 1.5 percent to $48.35 a barrel, after climbing for a fourth month in May. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is unlikely to reach an agreement limiting production at this week’s meeting in Vienna as the group sticks with Saudi Arabia’s strategy of squeezing out rivals, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The global surplus that has caused prices to slump since 2014 is correcting itself, the oil minister of the United Arab Emirates said Tuesday. Copper declined 1.7 percent in London, while zinc, lead and tin were down at least 0.9 percent.

On the US calendar today, along with the ISM manufacturing print and final manufacturing PMI revision for May, construction spending data for April will also be released along with the latest vehicle sales data (expected to be relatively flat) and the release of the Fed’s Beige Book. While there’s no Fedspeak scheduled, the ECB’s Lautenschlaeger is due to talk this morning.


Bulletin headline summary from RanSquawk and Bloomberg:

  • European equities enter the North American crossover in negative territory as participants await upcoming key risk events
  • GBP continues to remain a source of focus for FX markets as the latest YouGov poll shows the remain and leave camp are neck and neck while UK mfg PMI unexpectedly printed in expansionary territory
  • Looking ahead, highlights include US Manufacturing PMIs, ISM Manufacturing, Construction Spending and API Crude Oil Inventories
  • Treasuries higher in overnight trading as global equities and commodities sell off, manufacturing gauges across the globe point to mediocre expansion.
  • Manufacturing in the 19-nation euro area barely grew in May, damping confidence in the strength of the region’s economic recovery, according to Markit Economics. Purchasing Managers Index slipped to 51.5 from 51.7
  • U.K. manufacturing unexpectedly returned to growth in May, though the pace was subdued while Switzerland’s economy barely grew in the first quarter
  • China’s official factory gauge was 50.1 in May, the third it’s month remained above the dividing line that signals improving conditions, adding to recent evidence of stabilization in the world’s second-largest economy
  • The global economy is slipping into a self-fulfilling “low- growth trap” where ultra-loose monetary policy risks doing more harm than good, the OECD warned
  • Investors are putting record amounts of money into exchange- traded funds as bonds become increasingly difficult to buy and sell. Global fixed-income ETFs attracted $60 billion through May 25, the most for the period since the funds were created 14 years ago
  • BlackRock Inc. and Nuveen Asset Management are shunning bonds in favor of equities as the probability rises that the Federal Reserve will increase interest rates in June or July
  • China’s central bank is expanding the fight to monitor and control risks emerging in the burgeoning market for loosely- regulated shadow lending, in which firms make loans for everything from weddings to mining projects
  • Sovereign 10Y yields mixed; European, Asian equities lower; U.S. equity-index futures fall; WTI crude oil drop, precious metals mixed

US Event Calendar

  • 7am: MBA Mortgage Applications, May 27 (prior 2.3%)
  • 8:55am: Redbook weekly sales
  • 9:45am: Markit US Manufacturing PMI, May F, est. 50.5 (prior 50.5)
  • 10am: ISM Mfg, May, est. 50.3 (prior 50.8)
  • 10am: Construction Spending m/m, April, est. 0.6% (prior 0.3%)
  • 2pm: Federal Reserve Beige Book
  • 4:30pm: API weekly oil inventories

DB’s Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

Before we dive straight into the latest in Asia this morning it’s worth highlighting that later this morning (around 10am BST) Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe will be addressing the press following the conclusion of the Upper and Lower House plenary sessions. It’s expected that the PM will officially announce the postponement of the April 2017 consumption tax until 2019, something which looks more likely following the backing of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and junior coalition partner yesterday. Indeed Bloomberg has just said that Abe has delayed the move by 2 and a half years. Our Japanese strategists also suggest that we may see Abe announce a fresh fiscal stimulus package today in a bid to spur growth, with multiple reports suggesting that this could amount to ¥5-6tn. A dissolution of the Lower House and a ‘double election’ (general election and Upper House election) may also be announced, according to our Japanese strategists.

Leading into his scheduled talk Japanese equity markets are weaker this morning with the Nikkei and Topix -0.57% and -0.41% respectively. The Yen is little changed while JGB yields are a couple of basis points higher. The latest capital spending data for Japan in Q1 (+4.1% yoy vs. +2.4% expected) revealed a slowdown in growth although not as much as expected. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Comp (+0.11%) is a touch firmer although has fluctuated between gains and losses for much of the session. The Hang Seng (+0.03%) is little changed, as is the Kospi (+0.04%) while the ASX (-1.25%) is sharply lower following the Q1 GDP data in Australia which came in stronger than expected (+1.1% qoq vs. +0.8% expected). A rally for the Aussie Dollar (+0.71%) as a result appears to be weighing on the index with the data perhaps dampening the expectation that the RBA will look to ease again soon.

In fact it’s been a busy morning for data with China also in focus. The official manufacturing PMI for May was unchanged at 50.1 last month, a smidgen ahead of the consensus forecast of 50.0 and importantly marks the third consecutive >50 reading following 7 sub-50 prints beforehand. The non-manufacturing PMI did decline to 53.1 from 53.5 however. A separate non-official manufacturing PMI reading from Caixin Media declined to 49.2 in May from 49.4, albeit in line with expectations.
The remaining PMIs/ISM from around the world are the main event for the rest of today. The US manufacturing ISM is an interesting one as we could go back below 50 after 2 months above it following 5 months below from the tail-end of last year. As DB’s Joe LaVorgna points out the average of the Chicago, New York and Philadelphia surveys (ISM adjusted) strongly suggests that the manufacturing ISM will slip back into contraction territory. Historically, the manufacturing ISM has been below 50 on 82% of the occasions when the Chicago, Empire and Philadelphia ISM-adjusted series were all below. He is expecting 49.0 today with the market at 50.3.

Meanwhile over in Europe we’ll get the final May revisions for the manufacturing PMI’s for the Euro area, Germany and France. As a reminder the initial reading for the Euro area came it at 51.5 which was down a tad from April (-0.2pts). However both Germany (+0.6pts) and France (+0.3pts) actually recorded some improvement in their respective readings so the interest will likely lie in just how much softer the peripheral data is.

Yesterday markets were met with a flurry of economic reports as investors returned from the long weekends in the US and UK. Across the pond the various personal consumption spending reports were strong, although that was then followed shortly after with a disappointing consumer confidence reading and more disappointment in the latest regional manufacturing reports. US equity markets had slipped for much of the afternoon (down about -0.50%) although a late rally in the evening resulted in the S&P 500 paring that loss to just -0.10%. Meanwhile the US Dollar (Dollar index +0.34%) had a reasonable session, although interestingly 2y Treasury yields finished 3bps lower and Gold rallied +0.86% to snap that 9-day losing run. We’d imagine that month-end re-positioning played a part in some of yesterday’s moves.

Prior to this European markets struggled (Stoxx 600 -0.77%) as WTI once again failed to hold above $50/bbl and the latest Brexit poll swung back in favour of the leave camp. Indeed the ICM phone poll for the Guardian newspaper showed 45% of respondents voting to leave versus 42% to remain. An online poll for the same newspaper had the split at 47% to 44% in favour of leaving too, although it was the phone poll which had people taking notice given previous phone polls have showed the remain camp as having a reasonable lead. Indeed the last ICM phone poll conducted on 16th May showed a 47% to 39% split in favour of remain. In any case yesterday’s news had Sterling under pressure with the Pound finishing just over 1% lower versus the US Dollar.

Back to that data in the US. While personal income rose +0.4% mom in April and in line with expectations, notable was the big jump in personal spending during the month (+1.0% mom vs. +0.7% expected) which rose by the most since August 2009. Meanwhile on the inflation front the PCE deflator climbed +0.3% mom in April as expected which lifted the YoY rate by three-tenths to +1.1%. The PCE core was up +0.2% mom, also in line, with the YoY rate staying put at +1.6%. Away from this, the latest consumer confidence reading disappointingly declined 2.1pts in May to 92.6 (vs. 96.1 expected). Notably the consumer expectations component slipped to the lowest since February 2014. On the manufacturing front the Chicago PMI declined 1.1pts to 49.3 (vs. 50.5 expected) in May, confirming the recent weakness in other regional surveys. In fact yesterday’s Dallas Fed manufacturing survey (-20.8 vs. -8.0 expected) tumbled 6.9pts from April. Finally the other data release yesterday was the S&P/Case-Shiller house price index for March which revealed that house prices were up +0.9% mom during the month, keeping the YoY rate at +5.4%.

Closer to home the ECB’s latest money aggregates showed that the annual pace of Euro area money supply (M3) growth slowed in April to +4.6% yoy from +5.0%. That’s actually the slowest rate of growth since February last year. Our European economists noted that Euro area banks registered €12bn of net loan flows to the real private sector in April. Monthly loan flows to households have been stable over the past year (+1.6% yoy) while there has been considerable volatility on the corporate side. They note that the concern is that while YoY credit growth is still improving, the positive trend in the monthly loan flows could be petering out. Elsewhere, the Euro area headline CPI estimate for May was -0.1% mom as expected (an improvement of one-tenth but still the fourth consecutive negative reading) with the core nudging up by the same amount to +0.8% yoy. The wider Euro area unemployment rate was confirmed as unchanged in April at 10.2%, while over in Germany the unemployment rate was down one-tenth to 6.1%. Finally German retail sales were disappointing in April at -0.9% mom (vs. +0.9% expected).

Looking at the day ahead now, as mentioned this morning in Europe it’s all about the manufacturing PMI’s this morning where we’ll get final revisions for the Euro area, Germany and France as well as first looks at readings for the periphery. Elsewhere we’ll also get the latest money and credit aggregates data in the UK. In the US this afternoon, along with the ISM manufacturing print and final manufacturing PMI revision for May, construction spending data for April will also be released along with the latest vehicle sales data (expected to be relatively flat) and the release of the Fed’s Beige Book. While there’s no Fedspeak scheduled, the ECB’s Lautenschlaeger is due to talk this morning.

via Tyler Durden

European Freedom Of Speech Threatened As Social Networks Vow To Combat Self-Determined “Hate Speech”

Submitted by Joseph Jankowski via,

Social media giants Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc., Google and Microsoft Corp. have vowed to tackle online hate speech in less than 24 hours as part of a joint commitment with the European Union to combat the use of social media by terrorists, reports Bloomberg Technology.

Beyond national laws that criminalize hate speech, there is a need to ensure such activity by Internet users is “expeditiously reviewed by online intermediaries and social media platforms, upon receipt of a valid notification, in an appropriate time-frame,” the companies and the European Commission said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

The companies claim that it remains a “challenge” to strike a balance between protecting freedom of expression and eliminating hate speech because of the user generated content on their platforms.

Romain Dillet of Tech Crunch speculates that the Social Networks are trying to tackle hate speech to avoid responsibility.

Dillet reports:

Tech companies probably don’t want to be held responsible for hate speech and are now taking a strong stance against hate speech. This is surprising as many social networks have promoted free expression and have refused to delete content or accounts in the past (except when it comes to copyrighted material).


But it’s been a slow and steady change. Twitter has already suspended 125,000 accounts related to ISIS since mid-2015. Facebook already agreed to work with the German government against hateful speech back in September 2015. Google and Twitter later joined Facebook and the German government in December 2015. Now, four tech companies are making a formal pledge at the European level against hate speech.

Twitter’s head of public policy for Europe, Karen White, said in a statement that the company remains “committed to letting the Tweets flow,” but “there is a clear distinction between freedom of expression and conduct that incites violence and hate.”

Within the EU there has been numerous cases of individuals being arrested for “hate speech” and “offensive” language, which sparks concern over social networks becoming an arm of the political correctness police that now patrol the EU.

In early May it was reported that YouTuber Markus Meechan was arrested for a satire video where he trained his girlfriend’s dog to perform a “Nazi salute” when he says “gas the Jews.”

When Scottish Police showed up at Meechan’s house they told him he was being arrested for hate crimes over the video.

British police arrested a man in February for criticizing Syrian Migrants on Facebook while promising that there would zero tolerance For ‘Offence’ Online.

Although networks like Twitter are saying that there will be an attempt to balance out free expression and what they consider to be dangerous, the fact that the lines have already been blurred between the two inside the EU is quite concerning.

via Tyler Durden

Brickbat: It Does a Body Good

MilkPolice in Dumfries, Virginia, have charged Ryan Turk with larceny for stealing a 65-cent carton of milk  at Graham Park Middle School, where he is a student. Turk, who is on the school’s free lunch program, had forgotten the milk when he went through the lunch line and was arrested when he went back to get it. 

from Hit & Run

Jim Grant: Gold Isn’t A Hedge Against Monetary Disorder, It’s “An Investment In It”

Jim Grant, founder of Grant's Interest Rate Observer has long been a proponent of gold, and equally a critic of central planners. He sat down recently for an interview at John Mauldin's strategic economic conference to discuss his views on gold, and how he struggles to understand those who view gold as an irrelevant curiosity.

Grant is always worth a read and/or listen.

On his current view regarding gold, Grant's humor was on display as he described to what degree he was bullish on gold, and that he wouldn't categorize gold as a hedge against monetary disorder but rather a bet on it.

"This is not going to be any news, Jim Grant is bullish on gold. The degree I would characterize as 'very'. I would characterize gold not so much as a hedge against monetary disorder, but as an investment in it. People will say well that's a hedge against armageddon, no, armageddon doesnt' happen mostly, but what we are in the midst of is monetary shenanigans, and I see no real chance of being fewer of them, and a great chance there will be more of them."

Regarding Western central banks having different ideas on whether or not to even own gold, for example the Canada, who recently sold all of its gold reserves, Grant pokes a bit of fun at the monetarist view of the world, and cautions that when Western central banks start to sell gold it's time to pay attention because that's a signal of significant distress in the world.

"Western central banks to the extent that they are run by people who follow the educational path of Janet Yellen, and Ben Bernanke, and Mervyn King and MIT people I think they have one view which is that gold is a curiosity, it's like a monetary tonsil. It's this thing of ancient standing of no immediate relevance so they can't explain it they don't know what to do with it."


"Gold however has its fans in the East and gold is moving from West to the East. When Western central banks do sell as the Bank of England did in the late 90's, as little Venezuela did in the first quarter and is probably doing now, typically those are moments to pay attention because they're moments of distress in the world"


"People who hold the view that the stewards of our paper and digital currencies have the answers, that this monetary improv conducted for the past seven or eight years by the world's Western central banks and certainly Japan, that this is the way forward. I try to understand what they're saying but I can't make head nor tail out of it. It seems to me the opposite is so obvious that sometimes I wonder if I'm seeing things."

On what investors can do to protect themselves from what is coming (other than gold), Grant recommends holding cash (just as Grant Williams said as well).

"Cash is invariably a nice thing to have, even though it yields nothing it's an option, it gives you the flexibility to move and to buy things."


"Years ago a friend of mine had this conversation with a very wealthy client, and the client said 'there's one thing I never want to have to say, that I used to be rich'. So what cash does for an investor who has some of it, cash allows you to retain wealth with an eye to being opportunistic at that moment that no one wants the things that are now so popular."


"If you were to have partaken in opportunities presented in the first quarter of 2009, or the final few months of 2008 those desperate times, you saw the most ordinary businesses who saw their stocks go up 8, 9, and 10 fold. Now that's not going to happen every ten years but it does happen, and is especially likely to happen it seems to me when central banks are manipulating asset values to the upside. One of the great sense of armor for investing is to be very mindful of margin of safety. Having a margin of safety with regard to the price, make sure that what you're getting is cheap so you can afford to have those mistakes you invariably make. The trouble with buying things when they're up apart from the fact that there's so little arithmetic value is that you have to be right."

* * *

Full Interview

via Tyler Durden

Ron Paul Rages “Government Can’t Help… It Can Only Hurt”

Submitted by Ron Paul via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,

Three recent stories regarding three government agencies — the IRS, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) — show why we should oppose big government for practical, as well as philosophical, reasons.

In recent months, many Americans have missed their flights because of longer-than-usual TSA security lines. In typical DC fashion, the TSA claims the delays are because of budget cuts, even though Congress regularly increases the TSA’s funding!

The TSA is also blaming the delays on the fact that few Americans have signed up for its “PreCheck” program. Under PreCheck, the TSA considers excusing some Americans from some of the screening process. Those who wish to be considered must first submit personal information to the TSA and pay a fee. Only a bureaucrat would think Americans would be eager to give the TSA more information and money on the chance that they may be approved for PreCheck.

The TSA is much better at harassing airline passengers than at providing security. TSA agents regularly fail to catch weapons hidden by federal agents testing the screening process. Sadly, Congress will likely reward the TSA's failures with continued funding increases. Rewarding the TSA’s incompetence shouldn’t surprise us since the TSA owes its existence to the failure of government to protect airline passengers on 9/11.

If Congress truly wanted to protect airline passengers, it would shut down the TSA and let airlines determine how best to protect their passengers. Private businesses have a greater incentive than government bureaucrats to protect their customers and their property without stripping their customers of their dignity.

The head of the VA also made headlines last week when he said it is unfair to judge the VA by how long veterans have to wait for medical care, since no one judges Disney World by how long people have to wait in line. Perhaps he is unaware that no one has ever died because he waited too long to go on an amusement park ride.

For years socialized medicine supporters pointed to the VA as proof that a government bureaucracy could deliver quality health care. The stories of veterans being denied care or receiving substandard care demolish those claims.

If Congress truly wanted to ensure that veterans receive quality health care, it would stop forcing veterans to seek health care from a federal bureaucracy. Instead, government would give veterans health-care vouchers or health savings accounts and allow them to manage their own health care. Congress should also dramatically reduce the costs of providing veterans care by ending our militaristic foreign policy.

Another story last week highlights the one thing government does do well: violate our rights. The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on impeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over his role in the IRS's persecution of conservative organizations.

Those who value liberty and constitutional government should support impeaching Koskinen. However, truly protecting Americans from IRS tyranny requires eliminating the income tax. Despite the claims of some, a flat tax system would still require a federal bureaucracy to ensure Americans are accurately reporting their income. Since the income tax is one of the foundations of the welfare-warfare state, it is folly to think we can eliminate the income tax without first dramatically reducing the size and scope of government.

The TSA, VA, and IRS are just three examples of how government cannot effectively provide any good or service except authoritarianism. Individuals acting in the free market are more than capable of providing for their own needs, including the need to protect themselves, their families, and their property, if the government gets out of the way.

via Tyler Durden

Appeals Court Delivers Devastating Blow To Cellphone-Privacy Advocates

Authored by Jenna McLaughlin via,

Courts across the country are grappling with a key question for the information age: When law enforcement asks a company for cellphone records to track location data in an investigation, is that a search under the Fourth Amendment?

By a 12-3 vote, appellate court judges in Richmond, Virginia, on Monday ruled that it is not — and therefore does not require a warrant.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld what is known as the third-party doctrine: a legal theory suggesting that consumers who knowingly and willingly surrender information to third parties therefore have “no reasonable expectation of privacy” in that information — regardless of how much information there is, or how revealing it is.

Research clearly shows that cell-site location data collected over time can reveal a tremendous amount of personal information — like where you live, where you work, when you travel, who you meet with, and who you sleep with. And it’s impossible to make a call without giving up your location to the cellphone company.

“Supreme Court precedent mandates this conclusion,” Judge Diana Motz wrote in the majority opinion. “For the Court has long held that an individual enjoys no Fourth Amendment protection ‘in information he voluntarily turns over to [a] third part[y].’” The quote was from the 1979 Supreme Court case Smith v. Maryland.

The 5th, 6th, and 11th circuits have reached the same conclusion.

However, there’s been a lot of disagreement within the lower courts and among privacy advocates that the third-party doctrine is consistent with the way people live their lives in the digital age — primarily on their cellphones.

A three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit in fact first ruled last August that getting cell-site records in bulk did constitute a search, triggering a warrant requirement. In the case, United States v. Graham, the government obtained 221 days’ worth of records belonging to a robbery suspect in Baltimore.

The panel’s opinion relied heavily on a separate legal theory, called mosaic theory, to come to that conclusion: the argument that even if one instance of evidence gathering doesn’t count as a search, asking for a large number of data points can eventually amount to one.

For a while, it looked like there might be a split in the lower courts that would require the Supreme Court to reconsider the third-party doctrine.

But now that the 4th Circuit has ruled, that seems less likely.

Privacy advocates were disappointed:



The three judges in the minority wrote a strongly worded dissent.

“Only time will tell whether our society will prove capable of preserving age-old privacy protections in this increasingly networked era. But one thing is sure: this Court’s decision today will do nothing to advance that effort. I dissent,” Judge James Wynn wrote, joined by Henry Floyd and Stephanie Thacker.

“This is a sign that lower courts are still following the third-party doctrine,” Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University Law School, wrote in an email to The Intercept. “I think the 4th Circuit correctly applied Supreme Court law. But that doesn’t tell us what the Supreme Court might do.”

While this case “removes the circuit split,” he wrote, a Supreme Court consideration of third-party doctrine issues “will probably happen eventually.”

Nate Wessler, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, said he remains hopeful.

“In virtually every one of these cases, there have been very strong dissents. That in itself is a very strong message to the Supreme Court,” he said.

He also pointed out that many judges in the majority on these cases have signaled that it may be time for the Supreme Court to revisit the issue. And in several of the appellate cases, judges have called on Congress to do something about it.

Congress is poised to consider the privacy implications of searching stored emails, Wessler said, pointing to popular reform in Congress of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which passed the House unanimously, requiring law enforcement to get a warrant to search old emails.

“Hopefully they can muster the same for location information,” he said.


via Tyler Durden

Hong Kong Retail Sales Plunge 7.5% YoY, Fall For 14th Consecutive Month

Hong Kong's retail sales fell for the 14th consecutive month in April, plunging 7.5 percent from a year ago. April was slightly less severe than a revised estimate of a 9.8 percent YoY contraction in March.

April sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts fell 16.6 percent in value terms, a 20th consecutive month of decline, while durable consumer goods fell the most at 31.6 percent, followed by electronics and photographic equipment which fell 23 percent. Consumers seem to be drinking more alcohol and buying more groceries however, as supermarket sales and alcoholic drinks and tobacco were up 2.4 percent and 5 percent respectively.

The slowing economy in mainland China continues to have a significant impact, as tourists from mainland China, which make up 73.8 percent of the total, fell 4 percent from the prior year.

From Reuters

"Many types of retail outlet still recorded notable falls in sales, reflecting the continued drag from the slowdown in inbound tourism as well as the more cautious local consumer sentiment amid subpar economic conditions," the government said in a statement.


Hong Kong is struggling with mounting economic challenges from the prospect of rising U.S. interest rates, which has stepped up capital outflows, and from China's economic slowdown.


Mainland tourists are avoiding the city amid political tensions with China and growing calls from radical activists for greater autonomy from Beijing.


"The near-term outlook for retail sales will continue to depend on the performance of inbound tourism," the government added.

With China's manufacturing PMI contracting for a 14th straight month in April as well, the difficult times that Hong Kong is experiencing don't look to be ending any time soon. Also, as we have discussed many times and as Reuters mentions above, as the Fed discusses further rate hikes, fears of a significant currency devaluation have sparked capital outflows, which will also continue to hurt Hong Kong.

via Tyler Durden

Abenomics “Death Cross” Strikes As Japan PMI Plunges To 40-Month Lows

Since Abenomics was unleashed on the world (with QQE starting in April 2013), things have not worked out as the smartest men in the Japanese rooms predicted. In fact, with April's final manufacturing PMI printing at 47.7, operating conditions in Japan worsened at the sharpest pace in 40 months… since Abe began his three arrows. Output tumbled at the fastest pace in 25 months and new orders are the worst since Jan 2013. This is the death cross for Abenomics…


The weakest Japanese manufacturing PMI since the start of Abenomics…

Commenting on the Japanese Manufacturing PMI survey data, Amy Brownbill, economist at Markit, which compiles the survey, said:

“The aftermaths of the earthquakes in one of Japan’s key manufacturing regions continued to weigh heavily on the manufacturing sector. Both production and new orders declined sharply midway through the second quarter of 2016. A marked fall in international demand also contributed to the drop in total new orders, as exports declined at the fastest rate since January 2013.”

Flashing the "death cross" of Abenomics three arrows…

As it is now clear that the massive expansion of the Bank of Japan balance sheet has done nothing… in fact worse than nothing… for the Japanese economy.

Time for some more 'depends'.

via Tyler Durden

Special Forces Insider Warns Of Serious Civil Unrest This Summer: “Everything Is Right For Things To Go Very Wrong”

Submitted by Mac Slavo via,


In the lead up to the Presidential election we’ve seen pockets of riotous behavior across America. Whether supporting Trump, Sanders, Hillary or Cruz, average Americans appear to be ready to go to war with their government or with each other. This sentiment, coupled with continued economic degradation and a general feeling of a populace that has for decades been marginalized by the political machine in the United States, is showing all the signs of serious civil unrest on the horizon.

In the following interview with special forces commando Tim Kennedy weighs in, describing the current situation as a trench having been dug and filled with accelerants just waiting to be ignited.

Kennedy is a continuity of government expert, which means he’s well versed in not only how the powder keg of civil unrest could potentially explode, but what The-Powers-That-Be will do once it does.

For civil unrest to happen you have to have a bunch of little things that set up for the perfect situation. You have to have a reason.


People are so emotionally involved in this Presidential election right now… and finally for the first time realizing there is something wrong with our country… the eyes are open… we know that something’s not right.


Even though we have a President saying ‘I’m trying to break down borders‘ we’ve never had so much hate between different racial segments… what’s even more scary is that we know all of these things individually  are setting up the perfect opportunity for serious civil unrest…


Now that we’re moving into summer… we’re moving into the Presidential election… we’re sending troops into Iraq… we’re looking at groups and segments of people who are supporting specific Presidential nominees…


We have a perfect conducive environment for some serious problems… you think riots in Missouri were bad? Just wait until July… wait until August.


The trench has been dug and it is full of accelerants… everything is right for things to go very wrong.

Kennedy warns that once civil unrest happens on a nationwide scale, you’d better have taken steps to prepare, because just as we saw in Venezuela, Argentina and elsewhere during such tense periods, essential goods disappear from the shelves almost overnight.

And while such events are often dismissed by Americans as improbable, your concerns over the possibility are not without merit.

As an individual you have to get ready.


Don’t care if people think that you’re crazy… don’t think that you’re being a fanatic… that you’re being a prepper.


I’m only responsible for my family… My family is going to have food… My family is going to have water… We are going to be safe.


And if you think I’m crazy because I want to make sure my family is protected, fine, that’s the way it is.


But as an individual you need to look and research about ways to prepare in whatever city you live in.

In short, should widespread civil unrest, whether this summer or at any point in the future, spread across America and be followed by military and law enforcement intervention, you absolutely cannot depend on the government to be there to provide any meaningful assistance.

That means you need to take steps to prepare your own personal continuity plan.

In her best-selling book The Prepper’s Blueprint, Tess Pennington succinctly summarizes the reality of the situation:

Disasters do not discriminate. In the aftermath of the event, you will be on your own, left to provide for your family with the supplies and knowledge you have accrued. If you are prepared with the mental and spiritual foundation to overcome disaster, then you will transition into survival mode more quickly.


…When you plan for extended disasters you must take into account that you could be on you own for up to a month or longer. To carry you through this unpredictable time, you must add additional layers to your preparedness foundation so that it incorporates essential knowledge and additional supplies.


Excerpted from The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Survive Any Disaster

By preparing for the possibility of a widespread civil unrest scenario you’d also be readying yourself for other potentially deadly events, thus focusing on core supplies and knowledge is key.

  • Emergency Food Supplies will be absolutely critical. Even during a snowstorm or hurricane that are often forecast well in advance we see panic in grocery stores in the lead up, often leaving store shelves razed and completely empty. Stockpiling easy-to-cook, highly nutritious meals will be critical. Such supplies can be acquired in grab-and-go buckets or family packages for multi-day or multi-week emergency scenarios.
  • Portable food supplies may come in handy should you be caught in the middle of civil unrest and riots. These come in the form of high-calorie-food bars that can be hidden in a backpack, your car, or supplement existing food storage supplies. At a whopping 3600 calories per bar, five of these are enough for a week’s worth of emergency survival nutrition.
  • Emergency Water will be essential in a scenario where city governments are overwhelmed with rioting or looting. A number of disaster scenarios could lead to water in an entire city being either too dangerous to drink or simply turned off at the source. Having a gravity water filter at home will allow you to stay hydrated during times of crisis. If you’re caught out in the open, keeping a portable water filtertration system like the Katadyn Hiker Microfilter or Micropur Water Treatment Tablets in your back pack could be a life saver.
  • Nuclear, Biological, Chemical (NBC) Protective Equipment is an additional safety measure, especially in riot scenarios where poisonous gases could be used by both law enforcement or rioters. Moreover, such gear is the last line of defense in the event of a serious NBC disaster that could include the release of poison gases in crowded, tightly confided spaces like subways, or in a worst case scenario, an attack on a domestic nuclear power plant.
  • Firearms, Ammunition and Body Armor will be essential. People will panic. People will become violent. And people are going to get hurt. Be armed with enough ammunition to keep your family safe and secure, and know how to use your equipment. But remember, if you have to shoot at a threat, there is a strong possibility they will be shooting back. As such, consider body armor as a means of protection in extremely volatile and potentially violent situations.
  • First Aid and Trauma Supplies will be essential to your safety. In a serious emergency there will be no hospitals and you will need to become the doctor. Collapse doctor Joe Alton has written The Survival Medicine Handbook for just this reason. You’ll want to have a first aid kit, but we also strong encourage you to consider trauma kits for serious injuries. And it’s always a good idea to have antibiotics to prevent infection in the event you can’t get to an emergency room.
  • Barter and Trade could come into play as well, especially when store shelves are empty. And while the above supply list could be used for barter, so too can silver bullion like coins and bars. Hard currency has been used in Zimbabwe, Argentina and Greece when either currencies collapsed or banks were closed down due to emergencies.

The above supply list includes some of the very basics one should have in their preparedness supplies. For extensive supply lists and scores of disaster scenarios we encourage you to read Tess Pennington’s highly acclaimed The Prepper’s Blueprint.

Whether it’s civil unrest this summer or as the result of an economic collapse in the future, or any number of other disaster scenarios, having at least a 30 day supply of essential necessities will mean the difference between life and death. At the very least, they will help make a very uncomfortable situation a bit more bearable.

As Tim Kennedy has highlighted, the trenches have been dug and the accelerant has been poured.

All we’re waiting for now is the spark.

via Tyler Durden