Philadelphia Passes “Anti-Driving While Black” Measure That Bans Minor Traffic Stops

Philadelphia Passes “Anti-Driving While Black” Measure That Bans Minor Traffic Stops

Today in “liberal cities are moving one step closer to total lawlessness” news, it was reported that Philadelphia’s City Council has passed a measure that bans officers from pulling over drivers for traffic violations like broken taillights or expired registrations.

The measure, being called an “anti-driving-while-black” law, is being seen by social justice advocates as a “victory for equity”, according to the Delaware Valley Journal

Councilmember Isaiah Thomas’ Driving Equality bill supposedly seeks “to address the tension between members of the Black community and police by reducing the number of minor traffic stops”.

Thomas wants to redirect police time toward “keeping the community safe” while removing negative interactions that “widen the racial divide”.

We guess the idea of reprimanding officers for pulling people over for no reason, instead of actually having a valid reason, never crossed his mind. Because keeping things “safer” now apparently means you can drive around in a car with busted headlights and no registration. Ah, the sweet smell of progress.

Thomas commented: “To many people who look like me, a traffic stop is a rite of passage – we pick out cars, determine routes, and plan our social interactions around the fact that police will likely pull us over. With this vote, I breathe a sigh of relief that my sons and my friends’ children will grow up in a city where being pulled over is not a rite of passage but a measure of the safety of your driving and vehicle, regardless of the skin color of the driver. That’s why I am grateful to my colleagues for voting to pass my Driving Equality bills.”

NYPD deputy inspector John Hall conducted an analysis of the approach and said: “Experience during the pandemic has revealed that removing police from traffic enforcement leads to more dangerous streets, more disorder, and more crime. Public safety policy decisions and legislation must be informed by data and made with eyes wide open to their consequences.”

Once Mayor Kenney signs the measure into law, it’ll also create a database of all traffic stops.

Thomas concluded: “Data will tell us if we should end more traffic stops or amend how this is enforced. Data will also tell other cities that Philadelphia is leading on this civil rights issue, and it can be replicated. Data and lived experiences showed us the problem, and data will be key to making sure this is done right.”

The bill passed city council 14-2, with the council’s only two Republican members voting against it. 

Former Upper Darby Police Superintendent Mike Chitwood, who had also worked as a police officer in Philadelphia, said: “Some of the best arrests that I ever made were based on a headlight out or a turn signal off. I can recall arresting an individual with six handguns in a trunk of a car and masks and rope based on the fact that his rear light wasn’t working.”
 

Tyler Durden
Sun, 10/31/2021 – 19:45

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Hedge Fund CIO: Our New Reality Will Depend On The Fierce Clash Between Centralized And Decentralized Power

Hedge Fund CIO: Our New Reality Will Depend On The Fierce Clash Between Centralized And Decentralized Power

By Eric Peters, CIO of One River Asset Management

“Your devices won’t be the focal point of your attention anymore,” said Mark Zuckerberg in his keynote, shuffling through a computer-generated landscape, renaming his firm Meta. “We’re starting to see a lot of these technologies coming together in the next five or 10 years,” he explained, server farms proliferating across the globe, humming, processor speeds advancing inexorably along parabolic curves.

“A lot of this is going to be mainstream and a lot of us will be creating and inhabiting worlds that are just as detailed and convincing as this one, on a daily basis,” said the founder/architect, extending the epic journey of a firm first built to rank undergrad women’s appearance to one that now intends to construct humanity’s new reality: the Metaverse.

Zuckerberg’s detractors went wild. “Meta as in ‘we are a cancer to democracy metastasizing into a global surveillance and propaganda machine for boosting authoritarian regimes and destroying civil society… for profit!,’” tweeted AOC. Others were less kind. But Meta carried on, making massive capital investments to win an intensifying war for its very existence.

You see, Facebook, like every other organization based upon centralized control – which is to say virtually every institution – is threatened with extinction by a growing army of revolutionary entrepreneurs, developing decentralized alternatives. Incumbents across the most vulnerable industries are sending lobbyists to fortify regulatory moats from an assault by these innovators.

Zuckerberg can hope for no such DC support. A wildly successful decentralized Metaverse would utterly destroy Facebook. So, before he loses his entire empire, he must build a wall around his existing network, and pray his users do not flee Meta’s centralized Metaverse. Meta’s longer-term odds of success are not high.

And for those of us looking for frameworks to understand this emerging reality, the fierce battle between centralized and decentralized power is a focal point. The conflict will affect every industry, institution. And of course, understanding what is likely to become valuable in this new world that few can yet imagine, let alone understand, presents an enormous opportunity.

* * *

Anecdote

“Web 1.0 was flat, static,” said the visionary, unseating the slow-moving incumbents. “Web 2.0 arrived and was dynamic, interactive — it is what we mostly experience today,” added the founder/CEO, lifting his phone from the table, looking at the screen, placing it gently down. “Web 3.0 will be immersive. And we will spend an increasing amount of our lives within the new worlds that it will open.”

I’d zipped into the city for our meeting, on autopilot, handsfree, crazy stop-and-go traffic along the Hudson, software navigating the chaos at 60mph. “In these new worlds, our experiences will be virtual, the currencies we use will naturally be native to those worlds, the assets will be digital.” And he paused, thoughtful, entirely at ease.

“When I started this company, I saw a future where early digital currencies would become increasingly popular, more valuable. And I expected these technologies would eventually prove useful and solve real world problems,” he said. “Even I am surprised by how quickly the latter has come.”

Venture capital is cascading into blockchain companies that are racing to replace the things incumbent institutions presently do; only faster, cheaper, more securely. Some protocols are built to do things we previously considered impossible. Still others do things not previously imagined. These revolutionary pioneers see a world very different from what has been. They have a broadening view of what is possible.

“As this future manifests, all assets will be tokenized — the virtual assets we already see today, the financial assets we have always traded, and many real assets we never even considered tokenizing, exchanging, trading.”

While we will split our time between the virtual and the real, all our possessions will gravitate to the blockchain, tokenized, fractionalized. “And we will supply the most trusted custodial wallets to secure digital assets for everyone in that future.” 

Tyler Durden
Sun, 10/31/2021 – 19:20

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Russia Is the Homeland of the Horse

Not a joke (cf. “Russia is the homeland of the elephants,” which refers to the Soviet government’s habit of claiming that all great things came from Russia); from the National Geographic (Rebecca Dzombak):

Because people in the Volga-Don region bred horses for domestication and quickly began migrating to new places with them, this new line of horses soon spread from western Europe to eastern Asia and beyond.

The migration “was almost overnight,” says [molecular archaeologist Ludovic] Orlando, whose study was published on October 20 in Nature. “This was not something that built up over thousands of years.”

“As they expanded, they replaced all the previous lineages that were roaming around Eurasia,” he says. The domestic horse we know today “is the winner, the one we see everywhere, and the other types are sort of the losers.”

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Fully-Vaccinated White House PressSec Psaki Tests Positive For COVID

Fully-Vaccinated White House PressSec Psaki Tests Positive For COVID

Just two weeks after defending President Biden’s mask-wearing-mandate violation, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has tested positive for COVID… and she’s a ‘double-masker’…

Having told people to pay attention to the president’s policies and “not overly focus on moments in time” such as being filmed without a mask inside a Washington, D.C., restaurant, Psaki is now the highest-profile White House official to publicly disclose they contracted the virus, raising questions about how the presumably always-mask-wearing-and-always-socially-distanced-and-fully-vaccinated official could have got the virus given the ‘science’.

Psaki opted not to travel with President Biden and other staff members to Europe on Thursday after a member of her household tested positive for the virus, she said in a statement. She last held a press briefing with reporters on Wednesday at the White House.

“While I have not had close contact in person with the President or senior members of the White House staff since Wednesday – and tested negative for four days after that last contact – I am disclosing today’s positive test out of an abundance of transparency,” she said in a statement.

“I last saw the President on Tuesday, when we sat outside more than six-feet apart, and wore masks.”

Psaki said she has mild symptoms “thanks to the vaccine…which has enabled [her] to continue working from home,” and will return to work after a 10-day quarantine “beyond CDC guidance” following a negative test.

So much virtue signaled in one sentence.

Tyler Durden
Sun, 10/31/2021 – 18:55

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Russia Is the Homeland of the Horse

Not a joke (cf. “Russia is the homeland of the elephants,” which refers to the Soviet government’s habit of claiming that all great things came from Russia); from the National Geographic (Rebecca Dzombak):

Because people in the Volga-Don region bred horses for domestication and quickly began migrating to new places with them, this new line of horses soon spread from western Europe to eastern Asia and beyond.

The migration “was almost overnight,” says [molecular archaeologist Ludovic] Orlando, whose study was published on October 20 in Nature. “This was not something that built up over thousands of years.”

“As they expanded, they replaced all the previous lineages that were roaming around Eurasia,” he says. The domestic horse we know today “is the winner, the one we see everywhere, and the other types are sort of the losers.”

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I’ve Been Driving Trucks For 20 Years, I’ll Tell You Why America’s “Shipping Crisis” Will Not End

I’ve Been Driving Trucks For 20 Years, I’ll Tell You Why America’s “Shipping Crisis” Will Not End

Authored by Ryan Johnson via Medium.com,

I have a simple question for every ‘expert’ who thinks they understand the root causes of the shipping crisis:

Why is there only one crane for every 50–100 trucks at every port in America?

No ‘expert’ will answer this question.

I’m a Class A truck driver with experience in nearly every aspect of freight. My experience in the trucking industry of 20 years tells me that nothing is going to change in the shipping industry.

Let’s start with understanding some things about ports.

Outside of dedicated port trucking companies, most trucking companies won’t touch shipping containers. There is a reason for that.

Think of going to the port as going to WalMart on Black Friday, but imagine only ONE cashier for thousands of customers. Think about the lines. Except at a port, there are at least THREE lines to get a container in or out. The first line is the ‘in’ gate, where hundreds of trucks daily have to pass through 5–10 available gates. The second line is waiting to pick up your container. The third line is for waiting to get out. For each of these lines the wait time is a minimum of an hour, and I’ve waited up to 8 hours in the first line just to get into the port. Some ports are worse than others, but excessive wait times are not uncommon. It’s a rare day when a driver gets in and out in under two hours. By ‘rare day’, I mean maybe a handful of times a year. Ports don’t even begin to have enough workers to keep the ports fluid, and it doesn’t matter where you are, coastal or inland port, union or non-union port, it’s the same everywhere.

Furthermore, I’m fortunate enough to be a Teamster — a union driver — an employee paid by the hour. Most port drivers are ‘independent contractors’, leased onto a carrier who is paying them by the load. Whether their load takes two hours, fourteen hours, or three days to complete, they get paid the same, and they have to pay 90% of their truck operating expenses (the carrier might pay the other 10%, but usually less.) The rates paid to non-union drivers for shipping container transport are usually extremely low. In a majority of cases, these drivers don’t come close to my union wages. They pay for all their own repairs and fuel, and all truck related expenses. I honestly don’t understand how many of them can even afford to show up for work. There’s no guarantee of ANY wage (not even minimum wage), and in many cases, these drivers make far below minimum wage. In some cases they work 70 hour weeks and still end up owing money to their carrier.

So when the coastal ports started getting clogged up last spring due to the impacts of COVID on business everywhere, drivers started refusing to show up. Congestion got so bad that instead of being able to do three loads a day, they could only do one. They took a 2/3 pay cut and most of these drivers were working 12 hours a day or more. While carriers were charging increased pandemic shipping rates, none of those rate increases went to the driver wages. Many drivers simply quit. However, while the pickup rate for containers severely decreased, they were still being offloaded from the boats. And it’s only gotten worse.

Earlier this summer, both BNSF and Union Pacific Railways shut down their container yards in the Chicago area for a week for inbound containers. These are some of the busiest ports in the country. They had miles upon miles of stack (container) trains waiting to get in to be unloaded. According to BNSF, containers were sitting in the port 1/3 longer than usual, and they simply ran out of space to put them until some of the ones already on the ground had been picked up. Though they did reopen the area ports, they are still over capacity. Stack trains are still sitting loaded, all over the country, waiting to get into a port to unload. And they have to be unloaded, there is a finite number of railcars. Equipment shortages are a large part of this problem.

One of these critical shortages is the container chassis.

A container chassis is the trailer the container sits on. Cranes will load these in port. Chassis are typically container company provided, as trucking companies generally don’t have their own chassis units. They are essential for container trucking. While there are some privately owned chassis, there aren’t enough of those to begin to address the backlog of containers today, and now drivers are sitting around for hours, sometimes days, waiting for chassis.

The impact of the container crisis now hitting residencies in proximity to trucking companies. Containers are being pulled out of the port and dropped anywhere the drivers can find because the trucking company lots are full. Ports are desperate to get containers out so they can unload the new containers coming in by boat. When this happens there is no plan to deliver this freight yet, they are literally just making room for the next ship at the port. This won’t last long, as this just compounds the shortage of chassis. Ports will eventually find themselves unable to move containers out of the port until sitting containers are delivered, emptied, returned, or taken to a storage lot (either loaded or empty) and taken off the chassis there so the chassis can be put back into use. The priority is not delivery, the priority is just to clear the port enough to unload the next boat.

What happens when a container does get to a warehouse?

A large portion of international containers must be hand unloaded because the products are not on pallets. It takes a working crew a considerable amount of time to do this, and warehouse work is usually low wage. A lot of it is actually only temp staffed. Many full time warehouse workers got laid off when the pandemic started, and didn’t come back. So warehouses, like everybody else, are chronically short staffed.

When the port trucker gets to the warehouse, they have to wait for a door (you’ve probably seen warehouse buildings with a bank of roll-up doors for trucks on one side of the building.) The warehouses are behind schedule, sometimes by weeks. After maybe a 2 hour wait, the driver gets a door and drops the container — but now often has to pick up an empty, and goes back to the port to wait in line all over again to drop off the empty.

At the warehouse, the delivered freight is unloaded, and it is usually separated and bound to pallets, then shipped out in much smaller quantities to final destination. A container that had a couple dozen pallets of goods on it will go out on multiple trailers to multiple different destinations a few pallets at a time.

From personal experience, what used to take me 20–30 minutes to pick up at a warehouse can now take three to four hours. This slowdown is warehouse management related: very few warehouses are open 24 hours, and even if they are, many are so short staffed it doesn’t make much difference, they are so far behind schedule. It means that as a freight driver, I cannot pick up as much freight in a day as I used to, and since I can’t get as much freight on my truck, the whole supply chain is backed up. Freight simply isn’t moving.

It’s important to understand what the cost implications are for consumers with this lack of supply in the supply chain. It’s pure supply and demand economics. Consider volume shipping customers who primarily use ‘general freight’, which is the lowest cost shipping and typically travels in a ‘space available’ fashion. They have usually been able to get their freight moved from origination to delivery within two weeks. Think about how you get your packages from Amazon. Even without paying for Prime, you usually get your stuff in a week. The majority of freight travels at this low cost, ‘no guarantee of delivery date’ way, and for the most part it’s been fine for both shippers and consumers. Those days are coming to an end.

People who want their deliveries in a reasonable time are going to have to start paying premium rates. There will be levels of priority, and each increase in rate premium essentially jumps that freight ahead of all the freight with lower or no premium rates. Unless the lack of shipping infrastructure is resolved, things will back up in a cascading effect to the point where if your products are going general freight, you might wait a month or two for delivery. It’s already starting. If you use truck shipping in any way, you’ve no doubt started to see the delays. Think about what’s going to happen to holiday season shipping.

What is going to compel the shippers and carriers to invest in the needed infrastructure? The owners of these companies can theoretically not change anything and their business will still be at full capacity because of the backlog of containers. The backlog of containers doesn’t hurt them. It hurts anyone paying shipping costs — that is, manufacturers selling products and consumers buying products. But it doesn’t hurt the owners of the transportation business — in fact the laws of supply and demand mean that they are actually going to make more money through higher rates, without changing a thing. They don’t have to improve or add infrastructure (because it’s costly), and they don’t have to pay their workers more (warehouse workers, crane operators, truckers).

The ‘experts’ want to say we can do things like open the ports 24/7, and this problem will be over in a couple weeks. They are blowing smoke, and they know it. Getting a container out of the port, as slow and aggravating as it is, is really the easy part, if you can find a truck and chassis to haul it. But every truck driver in America can’t operate 24/7, even if the government suspends Hours Of Service Regulations (federal regulations determining how many hours a week we can work/drive), we still need to sleep sometime. There are also restrictions on which trucks can go into a port. They have to be approved, have RFID tags, port registered, and the drivers have to have at least a TWIC card (Transportation Worker Identification Credential from the federal Transportation Security Administration). Some ports have additional requirements. As I have already said, most trucking companies won’t touch shipping containers with a 100 foot pole. What we have is a system with a limited amount of trucks and qualified drivers, many of whom are already working 14 hours a day (legally, the maximum they can), and now the supposed fix is to have them work 24 hours a day, every day, and not stop until the backlog is cleared. It’s not going to happen. It is not physically possible. There is no “cavalry” coming. No trucking companies are going to pay to register their trucks to haul containers for something that is supposedly so “short term,” because these same companies can get higher rate loads outside the ports. There is no extra capacity to be had, and it makes NO difference anyway, because If you can’t get a container unloaded at a warehouse, having drivers work 24/7/365 solves nothing.

What it will truly take to fix this problem is to run EVERYTHING 24/7: ports (both coastal and domestic), trucks, and warehouses. We need tens of thousands more chassis, and a much greater capacity in trucking.

Before the pandemic, through the pandemic, and really for the whole history of the freight industry at all levels, owners make their money by having low labor costs — that is, low wages and bare minimum staffing. Many supply chain workers are paid minimum wages, no benefits, and there’s a high rate of turnover because the physical conditions can be brutal (there aren’t even bathrooms for truckers waiting hours at ports because the port owners won’t pay for them. The truckers aren’t port employees and port owners are only legally required to pay for bathroom facilities for their employees. This is a nationwide problem). For the whole supply chain to function efficiently every point has to be working at an equal capacity. Any point that fails bottlenecks the whole system. Right now, it’s ALL failing spectacularly TOGETHER, but fixing one piece won’t do anything. It ALL needs to be fixed, and at the same time.

How do you convince truckers to work when their pay isn’t guaranteed, even to the point where they lose money?

Nobody is compelling the transportation industries to make the needed changes to their infrastructure. There are no laws compelling them to hire the needed workers, or pay them a living wage, or improve working conditions. And nobody is compelling them to buy more container chassis units, more cranes, or more storage space. This is for an industry that literally every business in the world is reliant on in some way or another.

My prediction is that nothing is going to change and the shipping crisis is only going to get worse. Nobody in the supply chain wants to pay to solve the problem. They literally just won’t pay to solve the problem. At the point we are at now, things are so backed up that the backups THEMSELVES are causing container companies, ports, warehouses, and trucking companies to charge massive rate increases for doing literally NOTHING. Container companies have already decreased the maximum allowable times before containers have to be back to the port, and if the congestion is so bad that you can’t get the container back into the port when it is due, the container company can charge massive late fees. The ports themselves will start charging massive storage fees for not getting containers out on time — storage charges alone can run into thousands of dollars a day. Warehouses can charge massive premiums for their services, and so can trucking companies. Chronic understaffing has led to this problem, but it is allowing these same companies to charge ten times more for regular services. Since they’re not paying the workers any more than they did last year or five years ago, the whole industry sits back and cashes in on the mess it created. In fact, the more things are backed up, the more every point of the supply chain cashes in. There is literally NO incentive to change, even if it means consumers have to do holiday shopping in July and pay triple for shipping.

This is the new normal. All brought to you by the ‘experts’ running our supply chains.

Tyler Durden
Sun, 10/31/2021 – 18:30

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Zillow Caught Holding The Bag As 93% Of Phoenix ‘Flipping’ Portfolio Listed At Loss

Zillow Caught Holding The Bag As 93% Of Phoenix ‘Flipping’ Portfolio Listed At Loss

Two weeks ago we reported that Zillow’s electronic house flipping operation had been underperforming – as the real estate company had been buying houses at inflated prices and flipping them for a loss.

In Phoenix, Arizona – Zillow’s second-largest portfolio after Atlanta – things are worse than we thought. According to an analysis by Insider, 93% of the homes Zillow bought to flip are now listed at less than what they paid.

Zillow’s iBuyer division – also known as Zillow Offers, uses artificial ‘intelligence’ to set target prices for homes, and lets sellers receive an almost immediate offer on their property, almost entirely online. Now, it appears Zillow’s AI-driven wager was dead wrong.

Insider reviewed all the homes for sale by Zillow in the Phoenix metropolitan area as of October 27. Out of 224 homes, 208 — or 92.9% — were priced below what Zillow paid. The potential losses highlight the risks of the iBuyer business, which aims to buy and resell properties for a profit in a roller-coaster market.

After purchasing 5,661 homes across 25 metropolitan areas from Austin to Tucson since the beginning of 2021, Zillow announced on October 17 that it would stop buying homes for the remainder of 2021. Chief Operating Officer Jeremy Wacksman said the pause was because of “an operational backlog for renovations and closings” that he blamed on “a labor- and supply-constrained economy inside a competitive real estate market.” -Insider

What’s more, while most of the Zillow sales were first listed at more than they paid – eventually receiving price cuts that brought them into the red, 36.5% of properties were listed for less than the company first paid. Just 16 homes were listed above Zillow’s purchase price – and all  16 were listed within the last two weeks, meaning they have yet to experience meaningful price cuts.

In short, Zillow is having issues clearing out its existing inventory and just needs it moved. As Insider notes, if the company sold all of it’s Phoenix homes right now at their current list prices, it would lose $6.3 million dollars. Right now, their median loss per home in the area is nearly $29,000.

Given that the Case-Schiller index indicates Phoenix real estate is still on fire, this may simply boil down to Zillow’s out-of-control ‘AI’ getting off on outbidding plebs in a greedy bet on unlimited growth.

Launched in 2017, Zillow’s iBuying arm uses a wide array of real-estate data with the goal of quickly and efficiently acquiring properties to flip for a profit. The program has vacuumed up properties across the country to flip, only to be met with fierce competition from services such as Redfin, Offerpad and Opendoor. And according to iBuying analyst Mike DelPrete, Zillow’s competitors aren’t having the same problems – with Opendoor’s median home priced $4,400 above what they paid (which, quite frankly, is also pretty terrible).

Zillow reports earnings on Nov. 2, so might be an interesting call to check out to say the least.

Tyler Durden
Sun, 10/31/2021 – 18:05

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Kisses, Huma Abedin, and Gradual Escalation

I was filing a friend-of-the-court brief recently—hold on, this will get relevant—and was corresponding with the counsel for the parties: Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 29(a)(2) requires that the brief either be accompanied with a motion for leave or “state[] that all parties have consented to its filing,” so I e-mailed the parties asking, “Would you consent to the filing of the brief, so that we can file it without drafting an accompanying motion for leave?” The side we are supporting responded promptly with “Appellees consent,” but the other side responded with “No objection.”

No objection? Wait, is that consenting to the filing? Or just saying that they won’t file an opposition to our motion for leave, if we file a motion? I wasn’t going to tell the judges that the parties “have consented” when one of them merely wasn’t objecting.

So I responded with, “just to confirm, may I note that as your consenting to the filing of the brief.” Not hearing back, I e-mailed again, “Sorry to trouble you, but I just wanted to confirm that you indeed consent.” Then I got back, “Yes that’s fine,” and I figured that was enough.

By sheer coincidence, I was planning on kissing a woman that day …. No, actually, that wasn’t it (these days, I only kiss my wife, and we aren’t on Rule 29(a)(2) terms); but I do remember, back in the day, 35 years ago now, I was talking to an older female friend of mine about a woman I had indeed asked for permission to kiss, and my friend told me quite firmly that women didn’t like to be asked about that.

And now to Huma Abedin: The Guardian reported, based on its review of Abedin’s not-yet-released memoir,

[Headline:] Longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin describes sexual assault by US senator …

Abedin details her alleged assault while describing her work for Clinton when the former first lady and future secretary of state and presidential candidate was a US senator from New York, between 2001 and 2009….

[A]fter describing a Washington dinner attended by “a few senators and their aides” but not Clinton, Abedin writes: “I ended up walking out with one of the senators, and soon we stopped in front of his building and he invited me in for coffee. Once inside, he told me to make myself comfortable on the couch.”

She says the senator took off his blazer, rolled up his sleeves and made coffee while they continued to talk.

“Then, in an instant, it all changed. He plopped down to my right, put his left arm around my shoulder, and kissed me, pushing his tongue into my mouth, pressing me back on the sofa.

“I was so utterly shocked, I pushed him away. All I wanted was for the last 10 seconds to be erased.”

Abedin writes that the senator seemed surprised but apologized and said he had “misread” her “all this time”. As she considered how to leave “without this ending badly”, she writes, the senator asked if she wanted to stay.

“Then I said something only the twentysomething version of me would have come up with—’I am so sorry’—and walked out, trying to appear as nonchalant as possible.” …

Abedin later followed up that she did not consider it sexual assault (and also that the senator was someone she “knew and … was very comfortable with”), and I think that’s right: An unwanted open-mouthed kiss, generally isn’t considered sexual enough to be sexual assault. (California law, for instance, defines misdemeanor “sexual battery” as touching “the sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks of any person, and the breast of a female” “against the will of the person touched, … for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse.”)

At the same time, this did make me wonder: Is this indeed something that should be seen as at least improper behavior (whether or not illegal), or just as a nonculpable misreading of the signals that led to an awkward situation? My general sense of “the rules,” at least back when I was dating in the mid-1980s to early 2000s, was what one might call “gradual escalation”: Some degree of acquaintance (could be very short, if the meeting was in certain kinds of contexts) and conversation, followed by kissing, followed by more touching, followed by undressing, followed by sex of various sorts; instead of asking for overt permission, one of the parties (usually the man, but could be the woman) would try the next step, and then see if that was rebuffed.

Skipping steps (e.g., kissing a total stranger, touching breasts without kissing or something like that in between, etc.) was bad, trying a rebuffed step (in the absence of some indication of greater interest) was bad, but merely trying the next step and learning that it wasn’t wanted was seen as potentially awkward but not reprehensible. If you want to map this to the legal rules, one might think of (say) kissing someone after what you thought was an interaction that reflect some interest as involving a known risk that the kiss wouldn’t be welcomed, but in context it wasn’t seen as a “substantial and unjustifiable risk” and thus wasn’t what the criminal law would call “reckless.”

I personally liked the idea of more express consent; I don’t think much would be lost in life if that were the norm in romantic contact and not just in appellate briefing. My sense, though, is that just was quite far from the custom.

But that was just my recollection, so I decided to ask several close female friends of mine, whom I’ve known for decades, for their thinking on the subject; with their permission, I quote their responses. They are obviously not a random sample of the population. But I can confidently say that they are intelligent, thoughtful, educated, independent women, who I expect have found themselves the object of romantic interest from a considerable number of people, and whose judgment I much respect. They are also a politically and professionally mixed group (though with lawyers overrepresented, of course), and they have a mix of marital statuses: married, divorced, and never married.

Here are their answers, lightly edited and excerpted, using numbers instead of names for privacy reasons:

[1.] Normatively, “I think asking for explicit permission is the only right approach,” but norms were different in “the aughts.” Still, even applying the gradual escalation norms, “coffee to ‘pushing tongue in my mouth’ is skipping a whole bunch of steps,” such as “a soft closed mouth kiss,” “sit[ting] closer and closer,” “‘casual’ physical contact,” “ask[ing] about your relationship status,” etc.

[2.] “Yes it’s sexual assault. Yes the norms have changed. This behavior was sexual harassment in the 80’s. Women just didn’t come forward because not much was done to help them.

“No it’s not a casual pass. They’re not on a date. This was a situation where they were work colleagues and he in his position took advantage. Women deal with this shit all the time and have to behave gracefully while navigating men’s unwarranted attention. Now that people are more outspoken, the lines are clearer.”

[3.] “Yes, the term ‘sexual assault’ has been broadened in the last decade or two, and rightly so, IMO.

“My sense it that it was a pass that went wrong, but also one done by a man who has power to a women who does not. I’d wager he’d done it before, with no consequences, and might have even been successful several times. That’s not to say that even if he was, the attention was wanted or reciprocated with other women. In that situation, especially back then, women often did not feel they had the agency they have now, fearing the repercussions, especially when one’s job might be at stake.”

[4.] “It does seem like a rather sudden escalation and certainly an inappropriate one. If someone had done it to me, I probably would have hit him.” But it’s not sexual assault.

[5.] “This is not sexual assault to my mind, and calling it such diminishes acts that I do classify as sexual assault. We need to return to the idea that some men are cads (meaning, he knew what he was doing and was hoping she would just go along with the powerful senator) and some are oafs (meaning that he misread her, isn’t good at non-verbal cues generally, and feels terrible about this confusion).”

[6 (summarizing a phone conversation).] Not sexual assault, pretty consistent with gradual escalation norms; being asked before being kissed was very unusual.

[7 (summarizing a phone conversation).] Not sexual assault, may be slimy but not that bad.

[8.] “My sense is the pass was crass but in no way assault. Not then. Not now. His response to her strong recoil was, in my view, proof that he intended to be assertive rather than assault. It was a botched execution. It’s a broadening of the term sexual assault to the extreme. One that waters down the term.

“I do not think men should need to ask permission to kiss a woman, though when that has been the case personally, I found it charming in the one instance I recall since the person clearly knew I was interested. This is, of course, personal preference but in general, I still think it’s nice for a man to take the lead and, well, read the room. Women like that, too! If they are interested. There’s the rub in intimate relationships. I hope to never need to press the kiss/no kiss-o-meter prior to a first kiss with someone. Boy would that take the fun out of it.”

“There’s no way this was considered sexual assault by an 80’s definition. I hope it does not constitute assault today.”

[9.] “Definitely not sexual assault.” “I read the excerpt to each of [my children] separately, verbatim, then asked the question.”

“[Daughter,] 13: Definitely not sexual assault. It was just a communication issue. I then asked her if the guy was supposed to ask first. Answer no.

“[Son,] 15: Same answer. But there might be a problem if the guy had done this to a lot of women—it still wouldn’t be sexual assault, just that the guy had issues.

“I do think things have changed, but more so around consent when intoxicated, and the right to revoke consent. I don’t think there are ‘norms of escalation.’ The sudden kiss is seen in all sorts of TV shows and such nowadays.

“But more significantly, you forgot to include an arguably salient part of the book excerpt—I forget what it was exactly, but something about how when, later, Abedin saw that senator and [Hillary Clinton] was there, and [Clinton] seemed to sense that something had happened, as if the senator had done that to other women—which feeds into [my son’s] comment. I don’t think that makes the senator a predator or anything, just a run-of-the-mill lech, like a guy with sex on the brain—not uncommon, and IMO not that big of a deal.”

Finally, here’s a reaction from Prof. Sherry Colb (Cornell), whom I asked about this (I classify this separately because the other responses are all from women I asked because they were my close friends, while Prof. Colb is a professional acquaintance whom I asked because of her thoughtfulness on such matters):

[10.] “I imagine that the women you spoke with about their preferences (for avoiding express questions) were probably thinking about what they wanted from a guy that they were really interested in.

“With such a guy, they preferred not to have him ask ‘is it okay if I kiss you?’ or something like that. They would prefer for him to know that they are interested and to take a chance and kiss them. That’s obviously fine when they in fact are hoping he will kiss them.

“I wonder, though, how they would feel if you asked them about a guy that they find gross or just completely unattractive who somehow got it into his head that his feelings for them were reciprocated. Would they prefer that he ask ‘can I kiss you?’ or would they prefer that he just do what that senator did with Huma Abedin?

“I would bet a lot of money that when a woman is alone with a man for whom she has no romantic feelings, she would much much prefer that he inquire than that he start kissing her or whatever. In other words, the utility of questions is not for people who really want to hook up. It is for people who don’t.

“I also think what the women may really be telling you is that they want guys to know what they want without having to ask. This wish is understandable, of course. What could be more romantic than being interested in someone and having that someone be so tuned in to you that they can tell what you would most want them to do? The problem comes up where the woman either feels no attraction for the guy (presumably Huma’s situation with the senator) or where the woman feels attracted to him but does not want to go as ‘far’ (hard to avoid middle school jargon) as he does.

“I think that the population of women who don’t want the particular romantic contact that the guy wants (whether that be any contact at all or a level of contact that exceeds what they are comfortable with) should be the relevant population when we decide what qualifies as sexual imposition or assault. Why? Because if a woman is super-interested in a guy, then she loses a whole lot less when he asks for a kiss (instead of just kissing her, as she wishes he would do) than a woman who is not at all interested in the guy loses if he starts touching or kissing her.

“It is easy to make fun of such things as the Antioch Code when you have two people who really just want to hook up, but the utility of asking is really for people who don’t want this person on them and prefer not to have to fight him off. Adding to my sense that questions might be best is the fact that in studies, men seem to commit a lot of Type 1 errors when assessing a woman’s interest in them. Women will self report that they were just being friendly, and men will interpret what’s happening as sexual interest. To me, words can be really useful under these conditions.”

In any event, I thought all these views were worth presenting, in part precisely because they ranged over a broad spectrum. I’d be interested in hearing our readers’ reactions.

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The Firearms Policy Coalition Offers a Simple Way to Resolve the Texas SB 8 Case


The Supreme Court.

 

The Supreme Court is about to hear Whole Women’s Health v. Jackson, one of two cases filed against Texas’ SB 8 anti-abortion law. The case focuses on the procedural issue of whether abortion providers and others can challenge the law in federal court, given that all enforcement is delegated to private “bounty hunter” litigants, who stand to get awards of $10,000 or more if they prevail. Current Supreme Court precedent usually requires plaintiffs filing a pre-enforcement lawsuit against a state government for violating constitutional rights to target a specific set of officials who can be enjoined by the court. In this case, it initially appears there are no such potential defendants, because no state official is allowed to enforce the law.

For reasons I summarized in an earlier post about the SB 8 litigation, if this subterfuge is allowed to stand, it would create a road map for avoiding judicial review for other state violations of constitutional rights. Simply confine enforcement to private litigants, and you’re good to go!

Fortunately, an amicus brief filed by the Firearms Policy Coalition (which got involved because of the potential threat to Second Amendment rights), offers a simple way to resolve the problem (see also Jonathan Adler’s post about the brief):

Laws that deter or chill the exercise of constitutional rights violate those rights. Such deterrence or chill constitutes a present harm for which litigants can seek present redress without having to absorb the tremendous costs and risks of putting their heads on the proverbial chopping block by violating those laws and hoping for eventual vindication. Even where the risk derives from prospective litigation initiated by private parties invoking state law, such risks are still the product of state action in adopting and implementing the law. Whether the relevant state actors are the “deputized” potential plaintiffs and/or the court officials and jurists that wield the power of government at every stage of the litigation process, the chilling of protected conduct is the consequence of invoking state power to such ends, wholly apart from the outcome in any particular case. Indeed, the Texas law is designed precisely to have that effect, biasing the playing field in a manner that likely violates due process, the right to petition, and various other provisions of the Constitution wholly apart from its restriction on abortion. In such circumstances, there should be no serious barrier to enjoining any and all state actors or agents who facilitate or play a role in such a farce.

For purposes of dealing with laws like SB 8, state courts and private litigants “deputized” to enforce the law can be considered state actors, and therefore subject to injunction. State courts are no less bound by the federal Constitution than other state government employees, and should be no less subject to injunction when they violate constitutional rights – or threaten to do so.

I would go a step further than the FPC brief and suggest that, when faced with something like SB 8, a federal court should simply be able to enjoin the state government as a whole, rather than focus on a specific set of officials (or “deputized” private litigants). As explained in my previous post on SB 8:

Even if we do not know which individuals, if any, plan to enforce an unconstitutional law, or have the authority to do so, a court should be able to issue a general injunction precluding enforcement of that law by anyone who might otherwise be in a position to undertake that task.

If it turns out that no one is willing or able to enforce it, then the injunction will be unnecessary, but also won’t do any harm; it would, in that scenario, forbid something no one was going to do anyway. But such a general injunction could play a valuable role in forestalling violations of constitutional rights in situations where it is difficult to predict in advance who the violators will be.

The FPC brief highlights a reason why this approach is consistent with the text of the Fourteenth Amendment. It follows logically from the text of the Privileges or Immunities Clause:

[T]he Fourteenth Amendment would seem to supersede any previous potential state sovereign immunity as against violations of the  federal Constitution. Looking at the Privileges or Immunities Clause, for example, a State may not  “make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United
States.” U.S. CONST., amend. XIV.

Notice that the text forbids “making” laws that abridge privileges or immunities of citizens, as well as “enforcing” them. The entity that makes the laws is the state legislature, and this provision opens the door to injunctions that do whatever is necessary to render any such unconstitutional enactments null and void. As the FPC brief points out, many conservatives, including Supreme Court justices  Thomas and Gorsuch have long argued that the Privileges or Immunities Clause is the right vehicle for “incorporating” the Bill of Rights against the states. And other rights protected by the Fourteenth Amendment (including any constitutional right to abortion) also surely qualify as privileges or immunities for enforcement purposes.

The most obvious criticism of this approach is that it would open up states to a variety of potentially frivolous lawsuits. Perhaps so. But federal courts have a variety of tools for swiftly disposing of frivolous suits, including using Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), which allows dismissal of a complaint for  “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Judges don’t need to tolerate assaults on judicial SB 8 in order to prevent frivolous litigation.

The FPC brief is also notable for its succinct and powerful summary of why preenforcement challenges to laws violating constitutional rights are so important (see pp. 4-10 of the brief). As it points out (pp. 9-10), SB 8’s structure may make it even more of a menace than other laws intended to “chill” the exercise of a constitutional right.

In my previous post on this case, I emphasized that my critique of SB 8 is not about the issue of whether Roe v. Wade should be overruled or limited, or whether there is a genuine constitutional right to abortion. Rather, my concern is preventing SB 8 from creating a dangerous road map for undermining judicial protection of a wide range of constitutional rights:

My strategy would not preclude the Supreme Court (or other courts) from simply ruling against abortion rights (or other constitutional rights claims) on the merits. If the Court wants to overrule Roe v. Wade because a majority of justices think it’s a terrible decision, they can still do so. The same goes for Citizens United, decisions protecting gun rights, and so on. The purpose of my proposal is not to freeze any particular precedent in place, but to forestall the use of private enforcement mechanisms as a tool for evading judicial review of laws that threaten constitutional rights, and in the process creating dangerous “chilling effects.”

That’s a goal worth pursuing regardless of what you think of Roe v. Wade and abortion rights. Even if you welcome Texas’ circumvention of Roe, you might not be so happy to see the same tools used to threaten constitutional rights you care about more.

 

 

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13 Years After Its ‘Birth’, Bitcoin Adoption Continues To Accelerate

13 Years After Its ‘Birth’, Bitcoin Adoption Continues To Accelerate

The 13th birthday of the Bitcoin white paper has crept up just as the world continues to deal with a global pandemic, inflation fears, an astounding memecoin mania trend and growing institutional adoption of the cryptocurrency space.

image courtesy of CoinTelegraph

As CoinTelegraph’s Francesco Rodrigues details, on October 31, 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto released the Bitcoin white paper to a cryptography mailing list hosted by Metzdow. The Metzdow mailing list was run by a group of cypherpunks and was filled with ideas meant to create a form of digital currency: some of these have even been cited in the Bitcoin white paper.

Satoshi’s white paper came in a message titled “Bitcoin P2P e-cash paper,” in which Nakamoto explained that his digital currency is fully peer-to-peer (P2P) and requires no trusted third party for a transaction to occur. Through a peer-to-peer network, Bitcoin solved the double-spending problem. Bitcoin also allowed network participants to remain anonymous and was secured through a proof-of-work (PoW) consensus algorithm.

At the time, the white paper wasn’t received the way people would expect it to be, knowing what they know today. Only a handful of people saw Nakamoto’s email and replied with their thoughts and concerns surrounding Bitcoin.

But as Jacques Chirac writes at Bitcoin Magazine, the Bitcoin network has come to dominate and even define the cryptocurrency space, spawning a legion of altcoin followers and representing an alternative to fiat government currencies such as the U.S. dollar and the Euro, and to metal currencies such as gold and silver coins.

Global cryptocurrency usage has increased by 880% in the last year, particularly in Vietnam, India, Pakistan, and other developing countries. The 2021 Global Crypto Adoption Index, titled “Geography of Cryptocurrency,” compared countries’ cryptocurrency adoption based on three primary parameters: on-chain retail value transferred, on-chain cryptocurrency value received, and peer-to-peer exchange trade volumes

According to specialists from these nations, many people utilize peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchanges as their main on-ramp into cryptocurrencies frequently because they do not have access to centralized exchanges. Significant currency depreciation in many developing countries leads individuals to buy cryptocurrencies on peer-to-peer platforms to protect their investment value.

International transactions are also prevalent in these areas, whether for individual remittances or business use cases like buying products to import and sell. The quantity of national currency that people may move out of the country is limited. Although China was ranked fourth and the United States was ranked sixth in last year’s survey, their positions have dropped to 13th and eighth, respectively.

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Bitcoin?

Advantages:

  • Bitcoin users have comprehensive control over their reserves.

Traditional fiat currencies are responsive to several restrictions and hazards. Banks, for example, are flashed to economic booms and busts. As has happened in the past, these circumstances may sometimes result in bank runs and crashes. This implies that consumers do not have complete control over their funds.

  • There are no costs associated with Bitcoin transactions.

Bitcoin users are not subjected to the invocation of conventional banking costs associated with fiat currencies. While fiat currency exchanges impose so-called “maker” and “taker” fees, as well as occasional deposit and withdrawal fees, Bitcoin users are not subject to these fees. This adds, amongst other things, no account sustaining or minimum balance fees, no overdraft costs, and no returned deposit penalties.

  • For international payments, Bitcoin transactions offer minimal transaction costs.

Fees and currency charges are expected in standard wire transfers and international transactions. Transacting via the Bitcoin network is typically cheaper than bank transfers since there are no intermediate organizations or governments involved. This may be an essential benefit for tourists. Furthermore, bitcoin transfers are instantaneous, bypassing the hassle of usual permission methods and delivery times.

  • Bitcoin transactions are entirely safe.

Bitcoin is not physical money. As a result, robbers will be unable to physically steal it. Hackers may steal a person’s cryptocurrency if they have access to the wallet’s private keys. However, stealing bitcoin is theoretically impossible with adequate protection and industry-standard practices. While there have been many other allegations of cryptocurrency exchange hacks, bitcoin transactions have remained unaffected. In conclusion, transactions offered out between two (or more) addresses are protected.

Disadvantages:

  • Bitcoin is not yet accepted across the nation

Bitcoin is still only accepted by a limited number of internet businesses. As a result, relying only on bitcoin as a currency is near impossible. It’s also possible that governments may compel firms to stop accepting bitcoin in order to monitor consumers’ transactions.

  • Wallets can be misplaced

One’s bitcoin is dramatically “lost” if a hard drive fails or a virus corrupts data, and the wallet file is damaged. There is nothing that can get the money back. These coins will remain orphaned in the system. This has the potential to bankrupt a wealthy bitcoin investor in a matter of seconds, with no means of replacement. The investor’s coins will be enduringly orphaned as well.

  • There is no buyer protection.

When things are purchased with bitcoin, and the vendor fails to deliver the goods, there is no way to reverse the transaction. The problem can be approached by utilizing a third-party escrow service such as ClearCoin. However, escrow services would then take on the role of banks, making bitcoin more like conventional currencies.

  • Technical flaws that aren’t known

The Bitcoin system may have vulnerabilities that have yet to be discovered. Because this is a relatively new method, if bitcoin were extensively accepted and a vulnerability was found, it might result in enormous riches for the exploiter at the cost of the Bitcoin economy.

How Is Bitcoin Used In Other Counties?

Since its commencement in 2009, bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies that followed have been fraught with contention and controversies. While bitcoin has been extensively attacked for its volatility, use in illicit activities, and the amount of energy required to mine it, some people, especially in developing countries, view it with great hope amidst economic storms.

However, as many individuals turn to bitcoin as an investment, these problems have materialized in a slew of new limitations on how they may be used. The authoritative position of bitcoin varies significantly from nation to nation, with specific relationships still being established or changing often. While most governments do not make it unlawful to use bitcoin, its position as a payment method or a commodity differs, with different regulatory consequences.

Some nations have imposed restrictions on how bitcoin may be used, with banks prohibiting their clients from transacting in cryptocurrencies. Other countries have explicitly outlawed the usage of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, imposing stiff fines on anybody who transacts in them. These are the nations where bitcoin and the state have a tense relationship. Despite this, it appears that the future may hold more countries continuing to look to bitcoin.

This is a guest post by Jacques Chirac. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.

Tyler Durden
Sun, 10/31/2021 – 17:40

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