“Statement on Campus Censorship During Nationwide Protests”

Like our fellow Americans, we at FIRE have been gripped by the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis and the subsequent protests and disturbances in our cities. Those engaged in peaceful protest are exercising one of our nation’s bedrock civil liberties, with people around the country gathering to protest Floyd’s killing and discuss police brutality, racial inequality, and other important issues.

America’s colleges are playing host to these same discussions. As a nonpartisan civil liberties organization committed to defending the free speech rights of college students and faculty members, FIRE is here to hold universities accountable to their moral and constitutional obligations, which in times of crisis are at their most, not least, important. Yet during this volatile time, FIRE has already seen a troubling number of institutions abandon these obligations, choosing to investigate and punish controversial speech.

Public universities are government agencies, legally required to uphold the First Amendment rights of students and faculty. While private institutions are usually not similarly bound by law, the vast majority of them promise free expression to students and faculty, and are therefore bound morally and contractually to honor those promises. These guarantees mean nothing, nor will they long endure or be respected, if they protect only those whose opinions happen to be in favor on a particular campus.

George Floyd’s death and the subsequent reaction has provoked a wide variety of responses in college communities, including some that many find deeply offensive or that involve the use of racial slurs. But while the level of passion with which these issues have been argued in recent days may have changed, the underlying First Amendment principles have not. The overwhelming majority of such expression, whether it supports or criticizes peaceful protests, police tactics, or violent disturbances, is protected — either by the First Amendment, by universities’ own promises of free expression, or both. FIRE will continue to defend speakers’ right to exercise their expressive rights regardless of viewpoint. Universities committed to free expression must do so as well.

While college restrictions on speech appear thus far to be broadly aimed at silencing racially offensive or insensitive expression online, views falling on all sides of the current national debate, in a wide variety of situations, have been impacted. Temple University has flatly said it will punish “[s]tudents who share messages of hate.” The University of DelawareClemson UniversityValdosta State University, and Framingham State University have all announced (in some cases multiple) investigations into racially offensive student social media posts. Northwestern University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham are facing calls to punish or fire professors for their seeming support of rioting or property damage. This list is hardly exhaustive.

Already this week, FIRE has written to the Ohio State University condemning the Columbus Division of Police’s use of pepper spray on student journalists covering protests adjoining campus, and to Weber State University in Utah for placing a tenured professor on leave over tweets endorsing violence against protestors and a journalist. The rights of students and faculty members to express their opinions regardless of viewpoint must continue to be preserved, and we call on others to join us in holding colleges and universities to account when they fail in their responsibility to do so.

During the political and social upheaval of the late 1960s and early ’70s, the Supreme Court firmly protected students’ First Amendment rights. In Healy v. James, the court noted the “climate of unrest” that “prevailed on many college campuses in this country,” including “widespread civil disobedience” and “the seizure of buildings, vandalism, and arson,” leading some colleges to “shut down altogether, while at others files were looted and manuscripts destroyed.” Notwithstanding the “acknowledged need for order,” the Supreme Court explained that the First Amendment applied with no “less force on college campuses than in the community at large.” That obligation continues today.

Even amidst the unprecedented destruction of World War II, when the West Virginia State Board of Education mandated that schoolchildren salute the American flag in an effort to encourage patriotism amidst the war effort, the Supreme Court struck it down. Why? Justice Robert H. Jackson explained on behalf of the court in the landmark decision of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette. His words remain as relevant to our response to today’s crises as they were to that of the time:

[F]reedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order… If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.

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Lancaster County Drug Task Force ‘Missing’ $150K From Asset Forfeiture Fund

A drug task force in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is missing roughly $150,000 in seized cash in what “appears in every aspect to be an internal theft,” the local district attorney said Monday.

Lancaster County District Heather Adams announced at a press conference that an audit of the Lancaster County Drug Task Force revealed that someone has stolen up to $150,000 from the task force’s asset forfeiture fund. 

Under civil asset forfeiture laws, police and prosecutors can seize property—cash, cars, houses—suspected of being connected to criminal activity, even if the owner isn’t charged or convicted of a crime. Law enforcement groups say asset forfeiture is a vital tool to disrupt drug trafficking and other organized crime. However, civil liberties groups say that it creates perverse profit incentives for police.

“One has to wonder whether that $150,000 discrepancy contributed to the former DA’s unwillingness to comply with [local news outlet] LNP‘s requests for the task force’s detailed forfeiture records,” says Jennifer McDonald, a senior research analyst at the Institute for Justice. “Behavior like this is exactly why forfeiture transparency practices are so important.”

LNP and the Institute for Justice, a libertarian-leaning public interest law firm that has challenged forfeiture laws in several states, fought a public records lawsuit against former Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman after his office refused to turn over asset forfeiture records.

Stedman was caught using asset forfeiture revenues intended for drug enforcement to lease a 2016 Toyota Highlander.

In July 2019, LNP reported that undercover drug task force officers paid for sex acts during prostitution investigations. 

Adams, the current district attorney, took office in January after running on a platform that included increasing transparency around the county’s asset forfeiture practices. McDonald says most of the records the Institute for Justice and LNP sought have been turned over, but they are still in litigation over certain other records involving forfeiture auctions.

(A 2018 WHYY investigation of auctions of Philadelphia houses seized through asset forfeiture found that several were sold to Philadelphia police officers.)

Lancaster County’s mysteriously missing $150,000 is not the first time that large amounts of forfeiture funds have disappeared or have been used as a slush fund for local law enforcement.

This March, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced that her office was charging Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith and three other county officials with a “litany” of felony crimes for embezzling and misusing funds seized through asset forfeiture.

The charges followed a successful public records lawsuit that revealed more than $100,000 in questionable expenditures from Macomb County’s asset forfeiture fund. Authorities now estimate the Smith and other officials embezzled roughly $600,000 since 2012.

The Georgia Department of Revenue returned $2.1 million to the state treasury this May after an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News revealed that the department spent millions of dollars in forfeiture funds “on engraved firearms, pricey gym equipment, clothing, personal items, even $130 sunglasses.”

In Illinois, former La Salle County State’s Attorney Brian Towne faced criminal charges for misconduct and misappropriating public funds after he allegedly spent asset forfeiture funds on an SUV, WiFi for his home, and local youth sports programs. Town created his own highway interdiction unit and asset forfeiture fund for his office—a move the Illinois Supreme Court later ruled was illegal. The case against Towne was dismissed last year after a judge ruled his right to a speedy trial had been violated.

A 2016 Department of Justice Office of Inspector General audit found that an Illinois police department spent more than $20,000 in equitable sharing funds on accessories for two lightly used motorcycles, including after-market exhaust pipes, decorative chrome, and heated handgrips.

Adams said she has referred the case to the Pennsylvania Attorney General for investigation.

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CNN: White Children “Don’t Deserve Innocence”

CNN: White Children “Don’t Deserve Innocence”

Tyler Durden

Thu, 06/04/2020 – 12:25

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,

CNN gave airtime to an ‘anti-racist activist’ who suggested that white children should not be allowed to have an ‘innocent’ childhood, but rather be made to feel guilty about their ‘white privilege’ at an early age.

CNN host Poppy Harlow cited a letter sent to her from a school directing white parents how to teach their kids about their ‘white privilege’, and asked Tim Wise “When should parents do this with their kids and how?”

Wise responded that it should be at as young an age as possible, and that white kids need to be repeatedly told they are over privileged in order to sufficiently indoctrinate them.

“I think the important thing for white parents to keep in the front of our mind is that if black children in this country are not allowed innocence and childhood without fear of being killed by police or marginalized in some other way, then our children don’t deserve innocence.” Wise proclaimed.

“If Tamir Rice can be shot dead in a public park playing with a toy gun, something white children do all over this country every day without the same fear of being shot, if Tamir Rice can be killed, then white children need to be told at least at the same age, if they can’t be innocent, we don’t get to be innocent.” Wise continued.

“If we could keep that in the front of our minds, then perhaps we would be able to hear what black and brown folks are telling us every day and have been for many years.” he added.


Wise was also wheeled out Monday by CBS, where he claimed that white Americans have “been taught to have contempt for black life.”

CBS also featured a segment with Ibram X. Kendi, author of a book titled “Antiracist Baby” about how to indoctrinate children from birth on race by instituting ‘diverse baby play dates’ and the like.

So, white guilt sessions in the morning and the drag queen story time in the afternoon then?

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US Exports, Imports Crater Most On Record As China Refuses To Comply With Trade Deal

US Exports, Imports Crater Most On Record As China Refuses To Comply With Trade Deal

Tyler Durden

Thu, 06/04/2020 – 12:05

While today’s trade balance print at $49.4 billion came generally in line as expected, the relative calm on the surface belies what has been a stunning collapse in absolute trade levels.

The problem is how the US got to that deficit print, and this is where it gets ugly: April exports were $151.3 billion, $38.9 billion less than March exports. In percentage terms, the 20.5% export drop was the biggest on record, going back to 1992. At the same time, April imports were $200.7 billion, $31.8 billion less than March imports, and a decline of 13.7%, also the most since records started in 1992.

The decline in merchandise exports was widespread with companies shipping less capital equipment, motor vehicles, consumer goods and industrial supplies such as oil. The nation also received fewer capital and consumer goods, vehicles and food from overseas producers as the US economy was put on ice.

Reflecting the global pandemic and lockdowns, the value of travel-related imports and exports slumped to $4.4 billion, an all-time low in data back to 1999.

Combined, the value of U.S. exports and imports decreased to $352 billion, the lowest since May 2010!

However, since both exports and imports tumbled by roughly a similar amount, the move in the total monthly trade balance was far more muted, sliding from $42.3BN to $49.4BN.

To be sure, foreign trade was already easing prior to the pandemic, and now, but faced with what Bloomberg called unprecedented supply-chain disruptions, a previously incomprehensible surge in U.S. unemployment and a drop-off in demand, the world’s largest economy has pulled back more dramatically.

Meanwhile, in a double whammy for the Trump administration, there was no sign of any real progress on the phase 1 deal with China, with soybean exports still lagging their 2019 pace.  



Source: Brad Setser

Furthermore, while China is generally obligated to elevate its imports from the US (on par with 2017 levels) as per the Phase 1 Trade deal, YTD data shows that there is virtually no pick up compared to 2018 or 2019.

Worse, food exports are at risk of declining after Chinese government officials this month telling state-run agricultural companies to pause purchases of some American farm goods including soybeans.

Meanwhile, in the latest slap for the Trump admin, the report showed the trade deficit with China growing as imports of merchandise from China rebounded in April to $35.2 billion from $24.2 billion in March, while exports edged up to $9.3 billion, leaving a deficit of $7.2 billion.

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White House Plans $1 Trillion For Next Stimulus Round: Report

White House Plans $1 Trillion For Next Stimulus Round: Report

Tyler Durden

Thu, 06/04/2020 – 11:57

One day after Merkel’s coalition overcame ideological difference and passed a €130BN stimulus for the foundering German economy, the US is already out contemplating the next fiscal infusion, with Bloomberg reporting that the Trump administration now envisions as much another $1 trillion in the next round of economic stimulus – a number that seems oddly low at a time when some believe the US fiscal deficit may hit $8 trillion in 2020 – though the discussions scheduled for this week have been delayed.

Mitch McConnell told White House officials behind closed doors that “another round of fiscal stimulus from Congress could be just under $1 trillion”, a figure that administration officials are reportedly comfortable with.

Some more details from Bloomberg:

Top aides had planned to meet this week to discuss the next round of pandemic relief as more than 40 million people have lost jobs since states began restricting public activity in March. That meeting has been removed from the calender and has not been rescheduled yet, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The White House has been consumed this week with protests sweeping the nation over police brutality following the death in police custody of a black man in Minneapolis. Senate Republicans had no plans to act on a stimulus bill this month.

Any potential measure will likely not pass until after July 20, which is when a two-week recess scheduled to begin on July 3 begins.

As a reminder, last month the US passed a $3.5 trillion relief measure with nearly $1 trillion in aid for states and local governments facing revenue shortfalls. That bill would also provide a new round of direct stimulus payments to individuals along with money for testing and contact tracing.

Since it is now safe to say that any fiscal prudence or conservatism is dead and buried, and that the next $1 trillion will be followed by many more trillions as the US unleashes the full force of the helicopter army, we will just show the latest chart of Federal spending – a level which is about to explode much, much higher – without commentary.

 

 

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COVID-19 Triggers Transformation Into A New Economy

COVID-19 Triggers Transformation Into A New Economy

Tyler Durden

Thu, 06/04/2020 – 11:45

Authored by Patrick Hill via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

This is Part 2 of a two-part article including sections 4 – and 5 – please read Part 1 for sections 1) COVID-19 Unique Event, 2) Virus Drives the Economy, and 3) Outlook for the U.S. Economy

Introduction

The economy was a very nice photo, than the pandemic turned it into a jigsaw puzzle that’s all messed up, now we’re trying to put it together and figure out if all the pieces are still here or not.

– Mohammed A. El-Arian, Chief Economist, Allianz

The novel COVID-19 virus has driven the world economy into the deepest recession since the Great Depression while shattering the linkages that previously held it together. Two months into the crisis and economists are still trying to figure out what has happened to supply chains and demand channels. As El-Arian, notes key components of the economy may be missing.

Some components will need to be created. Then all these components will need to realign into a “New Economy.” The challenge of rebuilding the economy will be influencing consumer behavior. Consumer spending is 70% of GDP.  Thus, growing employment is crucial toward increasing consumer confidence and recovery.  The central question is: how will the economy shift a growth track? We’ll look at crucial signposts along the way in building a new growth track by presenting the following topics: (The first three are from Part 1)

  1. COVID-19 – Unique Event – Examines the unique characteristics of the pandemic and how they set up certain economic trends.  Part 1

  2. Virus Drives the Economy – Looks at how the virus is driving the economy, how it is out of control and what strategies are working toward containment – Part 1

  3. Outlook For U.S. Economy – Takes a new perspective by overlaying the virus cycle with a deep U shaped economic cycle and how economic activity changes during each stage.  – Part 1

  4. New Economy – Describes the transformation of our society and how these changes will create losing and winning new businesses and how consumers will likely have conservative spending and saving habits – Part 2

  5. What We Need To Do To Create a New Economy – Recommends a federal team of scientific experts to be authorized to lead virus containment, investment in self-renewing innovation centers in hard hit pandemic areas and focus employment development on climate change solutions – Part 2

New Economy

The New Economy will feel different, much more virtually driven by software, the Internet, and be home centric. All major aspects of consumer behavior will be affected by the panipression (combination of panic, recession, and depression) experience opening new opportunities for products and services. In contrast, others will see reduced demand and be forced to close. Investors will want to watch these social trends as they cluster into a set of needs where businesses can flourish and become profitable.

Similar to the deep psychological scars of the 1930s, it will take time to repair the emotional, social, and mental damage of the pandemic. Today, a social trend called the Ameri-Can spirit is helping to heal people in a wave of unifying, uplifting virtual programs. Celebrities, social groups, and crowdsourced teams are using Internet hashtags links to raise funding for charities to provide financial assistance to restaurant workers, hotel workers, farmworkers, meat processing staff, entertainment crews, and thousands of others that have been furloughed or laid off. This Ameri-Can spirit plus our culture of entrepreneurship will create a new economy that will be robust.

Businesses will provide new services or products targeted at a cluster of behaviors related to values, social styles, and desires. Social distancing will change our behaviors so groups of behaviors will disappear, be sustained, or begin to emerge. Socially people will have to be encouraged to take a trip, get on a plane, or have an experience outside of their home when they have so many alternatives.

Let’s look at key consumer and business segments and how they may be transformed:

Hospitality

Consumers will be seeking experiences they cannot get at home.  We expect to see more experience-based travel packages that include hotel, meals, and an experience like a Costa Rica eco tour as a destination. For sought after destinations like Hawaii, Europe or Disneyland, the attractiveness will still be there. However, for small resorts, villages, or towns with a singular appeal, they will have to differentiate and create traffic in innovative ways to hold out during the contraction and trough stages of the recession.  Airlines are already making ‘pandemic cleanliness promises’ and will continue to build on making passengers feel safe.  Hotels will need to make guests feel safe as well and focus on the destination appeal, amenities, and service to a far greater degree than they needed to in the past. Local restaurants that shifted to take out during the pandemic and survived will be able to go back to their usual food fare if it has new appeal.  The foodservice industry is likely to be even more competitive than before, with the major chains surviving and the local community restaurants failing during the lockdowns. The rental car industry has many choices with some firms with high debt levels, so we may see industry consolidation.

Work At Home

Home will become a central focus for new services.  More services will come to the home than ever before with added twists and features for:  meal delivery and pickup, car servicing, pet grooming, mobile dentistry, and laundry delivery.  As workers are likely to have little savings and limited credit, so car sales will likely drop, replaced by even more ride-sharing.  The auto industry will be faced with declining auto sales yet, there will be increased demand for cars by ride-sharing drivers and new autonomous car services.   Personal fitness or yoga training will be offered online, along with many personal development classes held virtually. The number of car trips to work will decline causing gasoline demand to drop lower than pre-pandemic levels. Car rentals for out-of-region trips will be in even higher demand as fewer consumers will own a car.   E-Commerce will continue to grow as people have become accustomed to most things being delivered to their homes. Retailers will need to differentiate their offerings by expertise that consumers can’t get online.  For example, going to a nursery to buy a plant means seeing the plant’s condition. To close the sale, the consumer will want to ask an expert gardener how to plant it and care for it.  Shopping malls will need to develop attractions or experiences to motivate consumers to leave their homes and shop. 

Work at Office or Plant

Companies will soon discover that having employees work at home as many days as possible will reduce their costs.  The need for office space will likely be reduced, and the need for a variety of support services like cafeterias, lounges, team rooms, etc. will decline.  The need for shared office tenant spaces will fall. After all, except for key meetings, it is cheaper to have their employees work from home and eliminate or reduce office space, computer systems, utilities, and all the overhead of an employee office. Manufacturers will figure out how to achieve the same level of production using fewer employees. Production management systems will continue to be installed with sophisticated automation systems using artificial intelligence features. As more robots are installed we expect they will stay in place so manufacturing employment will not return to pre-COVID-19 levels. Features like non-touch time clocks, automated employee temperature monitoring, and other pandemic related services will probably be kept in place post-COVID-19.

Technology Services

Consumers already using the internet 24 hours a day will be looking for more ways to use laptops and internet services.  Demand for high-speed internet services will be even greater. Many consumers use personal assistants like Alexa. We expect using personal assistants to gain new users after their shelter-in-home experience.  We can expect to see more artificial intelligence features added to ‘dumb’ devices like refrigerators to provide monitoring of food usage, make recommendations, and suggest food purchases based on usage. Home security systems do surveillance today like turning on lights while a person walks from room to room.  These systems may add employee temperature surveillance, so companies will know how healthy their employees are at home.  There is likely to be increased stress from the blurring of family versus home life, and issues related to child care. This stress may impact work from home so firms will be interested in monitoring work at home activity. Firms will be able to use retina scans to determine how focused a worker is on his screen. The scans will be reported back to companies to know when their employee was at their computer, and for hourly workers, how many hours they have worked.

Health

After their pandemic experience, consumers will be obsessed with their fitness. Some consumers may look for their doctor to become a ‘health consultant’ helping them to stay healthy with a focus on preventive medicine, diet, and lifestyle management.  Artificial intelligence will be applied to diagnostics as medicine becomes ever more complex and expensive to reduce doctor’s hours and costs. Telemedicine will become the norm for visits as patients will want to stay home if they can.  In some cases, doctor’s offices and clinics will shrink in size as being ‘on-premise’ for doctor visits will be a premium service. Clinics will shift some services to urgent care. Consumers will take even more control of their health, use more online advice services, and drug delivery apps. The use of stress reduction virtual apps will soar to help people transition into normal life as they use mindfulness to go out ‘into the real world’ again.

Entertainment

The merging of the internet with television and streaming channels will be accelerated.  Internet applications like polling, audience interaction, and 3D experiences will merge with consumers doing things at home they would otherwise go out to do.  During quarantine, entertainers have opened their homes to produce programs they used to do from studios. We expect more mixing of these personal entertainer ‘home visits’ to create an artificial intimacy with audiences that are not with them in person. The boundaries between movies, television shows, and gaming will continue to blur. For example, group ‘Minecraft games’ with a host and multi-player options become the norm. The focus on delivering entertainment to the home means less need for studio space and expensive studio crews. Audiences will still demand live concerts, though we expect to see more tie-ins with virtual pre-concert events and games along with post-concert follow up with entertainers.

Learning

Higher education will transition into lower-cost online learning. College online learning will become the standard.  In person education will be ‘extra’ at the college level.  The emphasis online learning to the home in elementary grades will place new stress on teachers and require far more sophisticated software for learning than is available today.  Small colleges that focus on ‘in person’ learning experiences will be hard pressed to attract students during the lockdown or reopening phases of the pandemic control. We expect that many small colleges may be forced to close or merge their curriculum and teaching staff with other larger schools that have the ability to attract a large enough student base to be financially viable.

Housing

Home sales will take a long time to recover from the market contraction of the pandemic.  Millennials have often been the first to be laid off, have little savings, and spend more on experiences than saving for large purchases. Major incentives will have to be offered by builders and existing homeowners as the market will be slow to return to pre-pandemic sales levels. Homes will be remodeled, and new homes built to accommodate the home centric needs for office space, closed off family rooms, and sound dampening for video conferencing privacy.  Apartments that offer ‘work-at-home’ floor plans and capabilities will be in demand while smaller apartments will see reduced demand.  The pandemic may force home buyers to think about leaving the city and its density to suburbs or even further out since they can use the internet to do their job. An essential homebuyer requirement that their home is near their office will no longer be as crucial in locating a home for purchase.

Banking

Many banks have closed their retail offices due to social distancing.  We expect banks to close many retail offices as being too expensive. Thus, customers to see a banker will need to make an appointment to see their banker at a specific branch. Virtual banking relationships will be the norm. Direct digital transfer of funds will grow leaving banks out of money transfers, particularly between customers and small businesses. Tap and go credit cards will be a standard way of handing a transaction at stores without touching cards or receipts.  Digital wallets with financial account information will be readily adopted as tech savvy millennials become the dominant consumer group.

Consumers will think about money differently as a result of a panipression experience. Not having money for food, rent, or utilities will leave emotional scars and teach new habits.  Similar to the Great Depression generation, consumers are likely to use less credit, increase their savings and be careful about getting over-leveraged with significant purchases. They will make conservative investments similar to baby boomers after the 2008 recession, who did not reinvest in stocks. Building consumer spending will likely take three or more years to reach previous levels.

The New Economy will feel different, much more virtually driven by software, the internet and home centric. All major aspects of consumer behavior will be affected by the panipression experience opening new opportunities for products and services. In contrast, others will see reduced demand and be forced to close. Investors will want to watch emerging social trends as they cluster into a set of needs where businesses can flourish and become profitable.

What We Need To Do To Create A New Economy

Virus Containment

Challenge: The most crucial next step is to contain the virus and provide people with the confidence to go about their social life without the fear of becoming infected.

Proposal: Provide unifying intelligent leadership at the federal level to overcome the virus. The people need support, compassion, and hope, not divisive politics, bickering, and conspiracy theories as a basis of policy. A federal team of scientists using facts, research, and the latest techniques for pandemic containment needs to be authorized to bring the virus under control quickly. Other countries like Germany have focused their efforts on containment without politics leading to moderate success in virus containment.

Self-Renewing Economy Investment

Challenge: Rural areas of the country were already in recession from being hollowed out by manufacturing moving overseas.  The pandemic has ravaged inner-city areas where many hourly workers lived in tight quarters.  Small businesses across all regions are reeling from the lockdowns temporally shutting their businesses down, forcing them onto a financial cliff.

Proposal: Build New Economy innovation development centers using the Silicon Valley model. We see promise in using a Silicon Valley model of integrated partnerships between venture capitalists, company incubators, universities, and local government to build new businesses.  The model has been used in places like Portland, Oregon with their Silicon Forest and in Salt Lake City with their Silicon Slope to build successful self-renewing economies.  We recommend that this model be used to target inner-city regions, rural areas, or any area where the pandemic has taken a toll on the local economy.  Since the federal government has limited funding we recommend the government act as a ‘seed’ investor to jump-start these development centers with partner investments by venture capitalists and cash rich firms like Apple, Google, and Microsoft.  To ensure a well-trained labor force, the centers could be located near university campuses and integrated into degree or certification programs. The Department of Education could assist with scholarships for workers that need tuition and fees financial aid to study at the universities.

Climate Change Solutions

Challenge: While the focus over the next three to five years will rightly be on containing the virus and rebuilding the economy, the existential climate change problem continues to go unsolved.  The impact of climate change is already felt in rising seas flooding coast side cities and mega wildfires destroying millions of acres.

Proposal: Focus employment development in renewable industries.  The pandemic economic slowdown has reduced carbon emissions by 8% during the past two months, according to experts.  The latest U.N. climate change analysis recommends that an 8% a year reduction in emissions be continued until 2030 to achieve the global emissions reduction target of 2 degrees CelsiusA U.N. sponsored Science Based Targets Initiative organization of 890 companies has endorsed shifting investments and employment toward reaching the 2030 emissions reduction target. A diverse set of 165 U.S. companies are SBTI members including: WalmartTarget, Coca-Cola, Adobe, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Owens-CorningWhirlpool, Proctor & Gamble, and Verizon. We should start now solving the next major global challenge by focusing on federal, non-government organizations, private research, and business development on innovative solutions to climate change problems.  Focusing on climate change for job creation ensures that we tackle two major issues: employment and climate change.  With so many workers unemployed we should shift their skills to a new industry that has been growing fast and is urgently needed while offering long term careers

Final Comment

We expect corporate leaders to take the lead in employment development for a long term economic transformation as political divisions will continue.  We noted in our post: A Pandemic Iceberg Hits the ‘Unsinkable’ US Economy’ that the fabric of a robust labor safety net needs to be built to mitigate the impact of an economic crisis like COVID-19 on labor in the future.  It is in the interest of executives to build businesses where workers are thriving, not just surviving. The focus must be on building an innovative economy that is creating new jobs through entrepreneurship. Otherwise, we are faced with a stagnating economy dependent on government transfer payments. We conclude with the following declaration from that post:

Americans built the most innovative, self-renewing, wealth building economy in the world.  It is the American spirit of entrepreneurship combined with invention, self-sacrifice, equal opportunity, and creativity that will build the businesses of the futureThese new businesses will adjust to new social realities and pave the way for workers to gain job security and become confident enough to spend at robust levels.”

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Public Health Experts Have Undermined Their Own Case for the COVID-19 Lockdowns

In theory, the mass protests following the alleged murder of George Floyd put public health officials who have ceaselessly inveighed against mass gatherings in a difficult position. They have called for a moratorium on most types of public activities, but particularly gathering in large crowds where increased aerosolization from loud talking and yelling could spread the COVID-19 virus to massive groups.

But when it comes to the protests against police brutality, many medical experts think there should be an exemption to the COVID-19 lockdown logic.

More than a thousand public health experts signed an open letter specifically stating that “we do not condemn these gatherings as risky for COVID-19 transmission. We support them as vital to the national public health and to the threatened health specifically of Black people in the United States.”

The letter conceded that mass protests carried the risk of spreading coronavirus, and offered some good—if naive—advice for people who are going out anyway: wear masks, stay home if sick, attempt to maintain six feet of distance from other protesters. Many protesters are wearing masks, but others are not. And while we can blame the police for forcefully corralling people into close quarters, it’s a bit rich for public health experts to endorse protesting under conditions that they know are impossible for protesters to meet.

Indeed, for the purposes of offering health care advice, the only thing that should matter to doctors is whether their harm-reduction recommendations are being followed: how big is the event, is it outdoors, are masks being worn, etc. However, the letter distinguishes police violence protesters from “white protesters resisting stay-home orders,” as if the virus could distinguish between the two types of events. While I am not a doctor, my understanding is that it cannot.

The letter led a Slate writer to claim that “Public Health Experts Say the Pandemic Is Exactly Why Protests Must Continue.” The argument here is that coronavirus is more deadly for black people because of systemic racism and that protesting systemic racism is a sort of medical intervention.

“White supremacy is a lethal public health issue that predates and contributes to COVID-19,” the letter continues.

There is much truth to this! Black people in America do have worse health outcomes, but so do low-income people of every race and ethnicity. Is it medically acceptable for a poor person to protest against lockdown-induced economic insecurity? For people who live paycheck to paycheck to protest looming evictions and foreclosures? What about people experiencing loneliness, depression, and bereavement? Again, my understanding is that the virus does not think and thus does not choose to infect us based on what we’re protesting.

Many people all over the country were prevented from properly mourning lost loved ones because policymakers and health officials limited public funerals to just 10 people. For months, public health officials urged people to stay inside and avoid gathering in large groups; at their behest, governments closed American businesses, discouraged non-essential travel, and demanded that we resist the basic human instinct to seek out companionship, all because COVID-19 could hurt us even if we were being careful, even if we were going to a funeral rather than a nightclub. All of us were asked to suffer a great deal of second-order misery for the greater good, and many of us complied with these orders because we were told that failing to slow the spread of COVID-19 would be far worse than whatever economic impact we would suffer as a result of bringing life to a complete standstill.

People who failed to follow social distancing orders have faced harsh criticism and even formal sanction for violating these public health guidelines. To take just one extreme example, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio threatened to use law enforcement to break up a Jewish funeral.

After saying no to so many things, a significant number of public health experts have determined that massive protests of police brutality are an exception to the rules of COVID-19 mitigation. Yes, these protests are outdoors, and yes, these experts have encouraged protesters to wear masks and observe six feet of social distance. But if you watch actual footage of protests—even the ones where cops are behaving badly themselves—you will see crowds that are larger and more densely packed than the public beaches and parks that many mayors and governors have heavily restricted. Every signatory to the letter above may not have called for those restrictions, but they also didn’t take to a public forum to declare them relatively safe under certain conditions.

“For many public health experts who have spent weeks advising policymakers and the public on how to reduce their risk of getting or inadvertently spreading the coronavirus, the mass demonstrations have forced a shift in perspective,” The New York Times tells us.

But they could have easily kept the same perspective: Going out is dangerous, here’s how to best protect yourself. The added well, this cause is important, though, makes the previous guidance look rather suspect. It also makes it seem like the righteousness of the cause is somehow a mitigating factor for spreading the disease.

Examples of this new framing abound. The Times interviewed Tiffany Rodriguez, an epidemiologist “who has rarely left her home since mid-March,” but felt compelled to attend a protest in Boston because “police brutality is a public health epidemic.” NPR joined in with a headline warning readers not to consider the two crises—racism and coronavirus—separately. Another recent New York Times article began: “They are parallel plagues ravaging America: The coronavirus. And police killings of black men and women.”

Police violence, white supremacy, and systemic racism are very serious problems. They produce disparate harms for marginalized communities: politically, economically, and also from a medical standpoint. They exacerbate health inequities. But they are not epidemics in the same way that the coronavirus is an epidemic, and it’s an abuse of the English language to pretend otherwise. Police violence is a metaphorical plague. COVID-19 is a literal plague.

These differences matter. You cannot contract racism if someone coughs on you. You cannot unknowingly spread racism to a grandparent or roommate with an underlying health condition, threatening their very lives. Protesting is not a prescription for combatting police violence in the same way that penicillin is a prescription for a bacterial infection. Doctors know what sorts of treatments cure various sicknesses. They don’t know what sorts of protests, policy responses, or social phenomena will necessarily produce a less racist society, and they shouldn’t leverage their expertise in a manner that suggests they know the answers.

It’s clear that we’ve come to the point where people can no longer be expected to stay at home no matter what. Individuals should feel empowered to make choices about which activities are important enough to incur some exposure to COVID-19 and possibly spreading it to someone else, whether that activity is reopening a business, going back to work, socializing with friends, or joining a protest against police brutality. Health experts can help inform these choices. But they can’t declare there’s just one activity that’s worth the risk.

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Public Health Experts Have Undermined Their Own Case for the COVID-19 Lockdowns

In theory, the mass protests following the alleged murder of George Floyd put public health officials who have ceaselessly inveighed against mass gatherings in a difficult position. They have called for a moratorium on most types of public activities, but particularly gathering in large crowds where increased aerosolization from loud talking and yelling could spread the COVID-19 virus to massive groups.

But when it comes to the protests against police brutality, many medical experts think there should be an exemption to the COVID-19 lockdown logic.

More than a thousand public health experts signed an open letter specifically stating that “we do not condemn these gatherings as risky for COVID-19 transmission. We support them as vital to the national public health and to the threatened health specifically of Black people in the United States.”

The letter conceded that mass protests carried the risk of spreading coronavirus, and offered some good—if naive—advice for people who are going out anyway: wear masks, stay home if sick, attempt to maintain six feet of distance from other protesters. Many protesters are wearing masks, but others are not. And while we can blame the police for forcefully corralling people into close quarters, it’s a bit rich for public health experts to endorse protesting under conditions that they know are impossible for protesters to meet.

Indeed, for the purposes of offering health care advice, the only thing that should matter to doctors is whether their harm-reduction recommendations are being followed: how big is the event, is it outdoors, are masks being worn, etc. However, the letter distinguishes police violence protesters from “white protesters resisting stay-home orders,” as if the virus could distinguish between the two types of events. While I am not a doctor, my understanding is that it cannot.

The letter led a Slate writer to claim that “Public Health Experts Say the Pandemic Is Exactly Why Protests Must Continue.” The argument here is that coronavirus is more deadly for black people because of systemic racism and that protesting systemic racism is a sort of medical intervention.

“White supremacy is a lethal public health issue that predates and contributes to COVID-19,” the letter continues.

There is much truth to this! Black people in America do have worse health outcomes, but so do low-income people of every race and ethnicity. Is it medically acceptable for a poor person to protest against lockdown-induced economic insecurity? For people who live paycheck to paycheck to protest looming evictions and foreclosures? What about people experiencing loneliness, depression, and bereavement? Again, my understanding is that the virus does not think and thus does not choose to infect us based on what we’re protesting.

Many people all over the country were prevented from properly mourning lost loved ones because policymakers and health officials limited public funerals to just 10 people. For months, public health officials urged people to stay inside and avoid gathering in large groups; at their behest, governments closed American businesses, discouraged non-essential travel, and demanded that we resist the basic human instinct to seek out companionship, all because COVID-19 could hurt us even if we were being careful, even if we were going to a funeral rather than a nightclub. All of us were asked to suffer a great deal of second-order misery for the greater good, and many of us complied with these orders because we were told that failing to slow the spread of COVID-19 would be far worse than whatever economic impact we would suffer as a result of bringing life to a complete standstill.

People who failed to follow social distancing orders have faced harsh criticism and even formal sanction for violating these public health guidelines. To take just one extreme example, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio threatened to use law enforcement to break up a Jewish funeral.

After saying no to so many things, a significant number of public health experts have determined that massive protests of police brutality are an exception to the rules of COVID-19 mitigation. Yes, these protests are outdoors, and yes, these experts have encouraged protesters to wear masks and observe six feet of social distance. But if you watch actual footage of protests—even the ones where cops are behaving badly themselves—you will see crowds that are larger and more densely packed than the public beaches and parks that many mayors and governors have heavily restricted. Every signatory to the letter above may not have called for those restrictions, but they also didn’t take to a public forum to declare them relatively safe under certain conditions.

“For many public health experts who have spent weeks advising policymakers and the public on how to reduce their risk of getting or inadvertently spreading the coronavirus, the mass demonstrations have forced a shift in perspective,” The New York Times tells us.

But they could have easily kept the same perspective: Going out is dangerous, here’s how to best protect yourself. The added well, this cause is important, though, makes the previous guidance look rather suspect. It also makes it seem like the righteousness of the cause is somehow a mitigating factor for spreading the disease.

Examples of this new framing abound. The Times interviewed Tiffany Rodriguez, an epidemiologist “who has rarely left her home since mid-March,” but felt compelled to attend a protest in Boston because “police brutality is a public health epidemic.” NPR joined in with a headline warning readers not to consider the two crises—racism and coronavirus—separately. Another recent New York Times article began: “They are parallel plagues ravaging America: The coronavirus. And police killings of black men and women.”

Police violence, white supremacy, and systemic racism are very serious problems. They produce disparate harms for marginalized communities: politically, economically, and also from a medical standpoint. They exacerbate health inequities. But they are not epidemics in the same way that the coronavirus is an epidemic, and it’s an abuse of the English language to pretend otherwise. Police violence is a metaphorical plague. COVID-19 is a literal plague.

These differences matter. You cannot contract racism if someone coughs on you. You cannot unknowingly spread racism to a grandparent or roommate with an underlying health condition, threatening their very lives. Protesting is not a prescription for combatting police violence in the same way that penicillin is a prescription for a bacterial infection. Doctors know what sorts of treatments cure various sicknesses. They don’t know what sorts of protests, policy responses, or social phenomena will necessarily produce a less racist society, and they shouldn’t leverage their expertise in a manner that suggests they know the answers.

It’s clear that we’ve come to the point where people can no longer be expected to stay at home no matter what. Individuals should feel empowered to make choices about which activities are important enough to incur some exposure to COVID-19 and possibly spreading it to someone else, whether that activity is reopening a business, going back to work, socializing with friends, or joining a protest against police brutality. Health experts can help inform these choices. But they can’t declare there’s just one activity that’s worth the risk.

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US Protest Arrests Surpass 10,000; Officials Fear New COVID-19 Explosion As Jails Swell

US Protest Arrests Surpass 10,000; Officials Fear New COVID-19 Explosion As Jails Swell

Tyler Durden

Thu, 06/04/2020 – 11:26

A new nationwide tally produced by the Associated Press finds protest arrests across America has topped 10,000 since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week.

Events quickly spiraled in many major American cities into rioting, looting, and general lawlessness as mobs of angry protesters took ever entire city blocks; however, many demonstrations have remained peaceful  surprisingly such as protests in Flint, Michigan — notable given its recent history of tensions with local government over the water crisis. 

Los Angeles has seen the most arrests nationwide, accounting for over a quarter, while the second most is in New York, with Dallas and Philadelphia to follow. 



Protest arrests in Dallas. Image source: NBC DFW

The bulk of arrests have been for low-level offenses like curfew violation or failure to disperse, while multiple hundreds have been detained for looting and burglary.

Another interesting finding is related to the ‘outside agitators’ theory pushed by some mayors and governors of various states, who have alleged most of the rioting and looting was carried out by people outside their states.

“The AP found that in a 24-hour period last weekend, 41 of 52 people with protest-related arrests in the city had a Minnesota driver’s license,” The Hill summarizes of the figures.” “About 86 percent of the more than 400 people arrested in Washington, D.C., as of Wednesday afternoon were from the District, Maryland or Virginia.”

Perhaps the most important statistics to come out of the week of protest mayhem, however, will be related to the coronavirus spread within the protesting throngs.

Over the weekend and at the start of the week US health officials warned of the protest risks regarding the potentially deadly virus:

The risk is even more pronounced when factoring in the more than 5,600 demonstrators who have been arrested, according to The Associated Press.

Not only are jails crowded indoor spaces, but protesters sat in vehicles at close range for an extended period of time, which increases the risk for onward transmission of the virus, Osterholm explained.



Via AP

The country went from observing months of strict lockdown, stay-at-home orders, and social distancing measures to witnessing tens of thousands squeezed into city streets – and often clashing in ‘close quarter combat’ scenarios with police lines – pretty much overnight. 

It’s expected a dreaded second wave could come out of this, especially given the current protest epicenters of New York, Minnesota and Los Angeles were already hard-hit places in terms of COVID-19.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2z79TYq Tyler Durden

The Absolute Insanity Of Retail FOMO In Just Three Headlines

The Absolute Insanity Of Retail FOMO In Just Three Headlines

Tyler Durden

Thu, 06/04/2020 – 11:20

We have written extensively about the sheer retail FOMO euphoria that has gripped markets (How Retail Investors Took Over The Stock Market; “It’s Like Gambling, Isn’t It?”: First Time Retail Investors Piled Into Stocks During March Plunge; “For Guys Like Me, It’s All About Sheer Luck”: Why Retail Traders Are Facing “Catastrophic Losses“) so we won’t dwell on this topic suffice to point out the stock chart of (the aptly named) Genius Brands – a company that makes educational DVDs and CD music – and just three headlines, all hitting within one hour, and revealing the insanity of what happens when everyone pours into the market.

And the result:

And yes, GNUS is the most popular stock on Robinhood today…

… where retail investors flooded the microcap company, resulting in the completely unwarranted surge in its stock price.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2zQt35f Tyler Durden