It’s Time To Bust Police Unions

In 2018, as a gunman murdered 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Sgt. Brian Miller, a sheriff’s deputy with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, hid behind his police cruiser, waiting 10 minutes to radio for help. For his failure to act, Miller was fired. The official cause was “neglect of duty.” 

Last month, however, Miller was not only reinstated but given full back pay. His 2017 salary was more than $138,000. Miller had challenged his firing, and, as The Miami Herald reports, he had done so with the full backing of his union.

Miller’s reinstatement is notable in that it relates to a high-profile case. But the essential story—an officer performs poorly with fatal results and the union comes to his defense—is all too common. 

This is what police unions do: defend the narrow interests of police at the expense of public safety. They exist to demand that taxpayers pay for dangerous, and even deadly, negligence. And although they are not the only pathology that affects American policing, they are a key internal influence on police culture, a locus of resistance to improvements designed to reduce police violence. To stop bad cops and police abuse, we must tackle police unions. 

In case after case, police unions have defended deadly misdeeds committed by law enforcement. In 2014, for example, New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo put Eric Garner in a chokehold for selling loose cigarettes. As a result of Pantaleo’s chokehold, Garner died. Garner’s last words were, “I can’t breathe.” 

The incident, caught on video, helped galvanize the Black Lives Matter movement. A grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo, but five years after Garner’s death, he was fired from the force following a police administrative judge’s ruling that the chokehold was, indeed, a violation of department policy.

Pantaleo had violated his police department’s policy in a way that resulted in the death of a man who was committing the most minor of offenses. Yet when he was finally fired, Patrick Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association, Pantaleo’s union, criticized the city for giving in to “anti-police extremists” and warned that such decisions threatened the ability of city police to do their jobs. “We are urging all New York City police officers to proceed with the utmost caution in this new reality, in which they may be deemed ‘reckless’ just for doing their job,” Lynch said

In essence, the police union’s position was: Officers of the law should not be punished for using prohibited techniques in ways that result in the deaths of nonviolent offenders, because to do so would unduly inhibit police work. A deadly violation of department policy is just police “doing their job.” 

Too often, when police wantonly use deadly force, police unions slow or prevent justice. In March, undercover police raided a Louisville, Kentucky, home. They used a battering ram to break down the door in the middle of the night and then fatally shot one of the occupants, an unarmed emergency room tech named Breonna Taylor. Police were investigating two men believed to be selling pot out of another home, but a judge also allowed police to search Taylor’s home, because they believed the men were using it for package delivery. The raid was executed under a no-knock warrant that gives police permission to break into a private residence without identifying themselves. 

Taylor’s death resulted in calls for the officers involved to be fired, but Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer warned that the process would be slow. A significant part of why he expected it to take so long, he said, was the city’s collective bargaining agreement with the police union. Fischer lamented the process, saying he recognizes “the system is not a best practice for our community.” 

The city’s police union, meanwhile, has expressed outrage that a city council member described Taylor’s boyfriend, who fired on police during the raid, as a hero. This is the union’s focus: not demanding justice for a woman killed by police in her home but demanding an apology from a local politician who had the temerity to praise a citizen for defending himself and his girlfriend during a botched police maneuver. The union’s goal, it seems, is to protect the police from public criticism, not to protect the public from bad policing. That’s what police unions do. 

These are anecdotes, but the evidence bears the point out. The Police Union Contract Project, which collects and compares police union contracts across the country, notes that the agreements are generally designed to make it difficult to hold police accountable, in part by giving them privileges that are not afforded to the broader public. For example, the contracts often prevent officers from being questioned quickly after incidents and often give them access to information not accessible to private citizens. Cities are often required to shoulder the financial burdens of officer misconduct, and disciplinary measures are often restricted. Forthcoming research out of the University of Victoria’s economics department finds that the introduction of collective bargaining produces somewhat higher compensation for police officers. It does not correlate with a reduction in total crime—but it does eventually correlate with higher numbers of killings by police, especially of minorities. 

In other words, the research finds about what you’d expect given a public sector workforce with unions set up to protect police officer compensation while limiting discipline and oversight. Police get paid more, yet the public is no safer—and it’s even at greater risk of violence by police. 

For a study in the ways that police unions can foster cultures of corruption and self-protection at the expense of public safety, consider the case of Camden, New Jersey. For decades, the city was among the most violent in the country, plagued by one of America’s highest murder rates and commensurate levels of property crime. In 2012, with the murder rate approaching record highs, The New York Times reported, police acknowledged “that they have all but ceded these streets to crime.” City officials said the police union was to blame. Union contracts made hiring officers prohibitively expensive. The cops on the payroll were being paid too much and they weren’t getting the job done.

So the city made a novel decision: Fire the police. All of them. 

That year, Camden began the process of terminating hundreds of officers and hiring a new force initially made up of less expensive, non-union labor, controlled by the county. 

It was a decision meant to address both budget and crime problems. Naturally, the police union opposed the plan, saying it was “definitely a form of union-busting.” City officials, the union said, were relying on a reform that was “unproven and untested,” putting faith in an agency that did not yet exist. 

By many measures, however, the unproven and untested new police force worked. After disbanding the city police and reorganizing under the county with lower pay, plus adding focus on rebuilding trust with the community (which is among the nation’s poorest), murders declined. The city is still dangerous compared to some others, but there’s been clear progress in terms of reducing crime and improving community relations. Over the weekend, as residents took to the streets to protest disparate and abusive treatment in black communities, Camden police officers marched with the protesters

Eight years after the shakeup, Camden police are once again represented by a union. But the new labor representation signed off on a use-of-force policy that is, somewhat notably, aimed squarely at de-escalation. Police unions have tended to object to such proposals: In 2016, for example, after a think tank put forward a de-escalation policy suggesting that cops think about how the public might react to the use of violence by police, the vice president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs called it “a ridiculous piece of claptrap.” The Fraternal Order of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police collaborated on a joint statement opposing the idea. 

Unions aren’t the only problem plaguing American police forces; there are plenty of other reforms worth pursuing, from demilitarization to ending qualified immunity. But they have consistently proven to be a force of organized resistance to calmer, safer, less aggressive policing, in part because of how they perceive the nature of the job. 

That has been true in Minneapolis, where the police killing of George Floyd sparked nationwide protests. Bob Kroll, the president of the city’s police union, wrote a letter to fellow officers describing Floyd, who was not resisting as an officer pressed a knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes, as a “violent criminal.” Kroll has also referred to protesters as part of a “terrorist movement.” He argued that officers were wrongly made to hold back on using less-lethal munitions to suppress riots, and he complained that the officers fired for their involvement in Floyd’s death were “terminated without due process.” 

Like other police union leaders, Kroll has resisted efforts to rein in police aggression. After the city’s mayor banned “warrior training” courses that teach violent confrontation, Kroll decried the ban and struck a deal for city cops to take the course anyway. Janeé Harteau, a former Minneapolis police chief who resigned in 2017 following a police shooting, indicated that Kroll’s remarks are typical of the sort of resistance to reform she encountered while chief, saying they represented “the battle that myself and others have been fighting against.” 

In an interview with STIM radio in April, The Intercept reports that Kroll noted that he has been involved in three shootings, “and not one of them has bothered me.” He lamented the emphasis on training cops to de-escalate tense situations, and cast the job as one for people who have a high threshold for violence: “Certainly getting shot at and shooting people takes a different toll, but if you’re in this job and you’ve seen too much blood and gore and dead people then you’ve signed up for the wrong job.” Beyond the legal and contractual particulars, these are the kinds of attitudes that police unions extol and reinforce. They contribute to a workplace culture that views policing as a job for individuals who remain unbothered by the results of violence.  

Police are public servants granted enormous power over the citizenry. They are tasked with protecting the public and serving their interests. Police unions, in contrast, are tasked with protecting police and serving their interests—even in direct contravention of serving the public. That distinction makes them a barrier to reforms aimed at improving public safety and increasing oversight of how law enforcement behaves. If union-busting is what it takes to reduce the pernicious influence of today’s police unions on policing, then it’s time to bust some police unions.

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It’s Time To Bust Police Unions

In 2018, as a gunman murdered 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Sgt. Brian Miller, a sheriff’s deputy with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, hid behind his police cruiser, waiting 10 minutes to radio for help. For his failure to act, Miller was fired. The official cause was “neglect of duty.” 

Last month, however, Miller was not only reinstated but given full back pay. His 2017 salary was more than $138,000. Miller had challenged his firing, and, as The Miami Herald reports, he had done so with the full backing of his union.

Miller’s reinstatement is notable in that it relates to a high-profile case. But the essential story—an officer performs poorly with fatal results and the union comes to his defense—is all too common. 

This is what police unions do: defend the narrow interests of police at the expense of public safety. They exist to demand that taxpayers pay for dangerous, and even deadly, negligence. And although they are not the only pathology that affects American policing, they are a key internal influence on police culture, a locus of resistance to improvements designed to reduce police violence. To stop bad cops and police abuse, we must tackle police unions. 

In case after case, police unions have defended deadly misdeeds committed by law enforcement. In 2014, for example, New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo put Eric Garner in a chokehold for selling loose cigarettes. As a result of Pantaleo’s chokehold, Garner died. Garner’s last words were, “I can’t breathe.” 

The incident, caught on video, helped galvanize the Black Lives Matter movement. A grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo, but five years after Garner’s death, he was fired from the force following a police administrative judge’s ruling that the chokehold was, indeed, a violation of department policy.

Pantaleo had violated his police department’s policy in a way that resulted in the death of a man who was committing the most minor of offenses. Yet when he was finally fired, Patrick Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association, Pantaleo’s union, criticized the city for giving in to “anti-police extremists” and warned that such decisions threatened the ability of city police to do their jobs. “We are urging all New York City police officers to proceed with the utmost caution in this new reality, in which they may be deemed ‘reckless’ just for doing their job,” Lynch said

In essence, the police union’s position was: Officers of the law should not be punished for using prohibited techniques in ways that result in the deaths of nonviolent offenders, because to do so would unduly inhibit police work. A deadly violation of department policy is just police “doing their job.” 

Too often, when police wantonly use deadly force, police unions slow or prevent justice. In March, undercover police raided a Louisville, Kentucky, home. They used a battering ram to break down the door in the middle of the night and then fatally shot one of the occupants, an unarmed emergency room tech named Breonna Taylor. Police were investigating two men believed to be selling pot out of another home, but a judge also allowed police to search Taylor’s home, because they believed the men were using it for package delivery. The raid was executed under a no-knock warrant that gives police permission to break into a private residence without identifying themselves. 

Taylor’s death resulted in calls for the officers involved to be fired, but Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer warned that the process would be slow. A significant part of why he expected it to take so long, he said, was the city’s collective bargaining agreement with the police union. Fischer lamented the process, saying he recognizes “the system is not a best practice for our community.” 

The city’s police union, meanwhile, has expressed outrage that a city council member described Taylor’s boyfriend, who fired on police during the raid, as a hero. This is the union’s focus: not demanding justice for a woman killed by police in her home but demanding an apology from a local politician who had the temerity to praise a citizen for defending himself and his girlfriend during a botched police maneuver. The union’s goal, it seems, is to protect the police from public criticism, not to protect the public from bad policing. That’s what police unions do. 

These are anecdotes, but the evidence bears the point out. The Police Union Contract Project, which collects and compares police union contracts across the country, notes that the agreements are generally designed to make it difficult to hold police accountable, in part by giving them privileges that are not afforded to the broader public. For example, the contracts often prevent officers from being questioned quickly after incidents and often give them access to information not accessible to private citizens. Cities are often required to shoulder the financial burdens of officer misconduct, and disciplinary measures are often restricted. Forthcoming research out of the University of Victoria’s economics department finds that the introduction of collective bargaining produces somewhat higher compensation for police officers. It does not correlate with a reduction in total crime—but it does eventually correlate with higher numbers of killings by police, especially of minorities. 

In other words, the research finds about what you’d expect given a public sector workforce with unions set up to protect police officer compensation while limiting discipline and oversight. Police get paid more, yet the public is no safer—and it’s even at greater risk of violence by police. 

For a study in the ways that police unions can foster cultures of corruption and self-protection at the expense of public safety, consider the case of Camden, New Jersey. For decades, the city was among the most violent in the country, plagued by one of America’s highest murder rates and commensurate levels of property crime. In 2012, with the murder rate approaching record highs, The New York Times reported, police acknowledged “that they have all but ceded these streets to crime.” City officials said the police union was to blame. Union contracts made hiring officers prohibitively expensive. The cops on the payroll were being paid too much and they weren’t getting the job done.

So the city made a novel decision: Fire the police. All of them. 

That year, Camden began the process of terminating hundreds of officers and hiring a new force initially made up of less expensive, non-union labor, controlled by the county. 

It was a decision meant to address both budget and crime problems. Naturally, the police union opposed the plan, saying it was “definitely a form of union-busting.” City officials, the union said, were relying on a reform that was “unproven and untested,” putting faith in an agency that did not yet exist. 

By many measures, however, the unproven and untested new police force worked. After disbanding the city police and reorganizing under the county with lower pay, plus adding focus on rebuilding trust with the community (which is among the nation’s poorest), murders declined. The city is still dangerous compared to some others, but there’s been clear progress in terms of reducing crime and improving community relations. Over the weekend, as residents took to the streets to protest disparate and abusive treatment in black communities, Camden police officers marched with the protesters

Eight years after the shakeup, Camden police are once again represented by a union. But the new labor representation signed off on a use-of-force policy that is, somewhat notably, aimed squarely at de-escalation. Police unions have tended to object to such proposals: In 2016, for example, after a think tank put forward a de-escalation policy suggesting that cops think about how the public might react to the use of violence by police, the vice president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs called it “a ridiculous piece of claptrap.” The Fraternal Order of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police collaborated on a joint statement opposing the idea. 

Unions aren’t the only problem plaguing American police forces; there are plenty of other reforms worth pursuing, from demilitarization to ending qualified immunity. But they have consistently proven to be a force of organized resistance to calmer, safer, less aggressive policing, in part because of how they perceive the nature of the job. 

That has been true in Minneapolis, where the police killing of George Floyd sparked nationwide protests. Bob Kroll, the president of the city’s police union, wrote a letter to fellow officers describing Floyd, who was not resisting as an officer pressed a knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes, as a “violent criminal.” Kroll has also referred to protesters as part of a “terrorist movement.” He argued that officers were wrongly made to hold back on using less-lethal munitions to suppress riots, and he complained that the officers fired for their involvement in Floyd’s death were “terminated without due process.” 

Like other police union leaders, Kroll has resisted efforts to rein in police aggression. After the city’s mayor banned “warrior training” courses that teach violent confrontation, Kroll decried the ban and struck a deal for city cops to take the course anyway. Janeé Harteau, a former Minneapolis police chief who resigned in 2017 following a police shooting, indicated that Kroll’s remarks are typical of the sort of resistance to reform she encountered while chief, saying they represented “the battle that myself and others have been fighting against.” 

In an interview with STIM radio in April, The Intercept reports that Kroll noted that he has been involved in three shootings, “and not one of them has bothered me.” He lamented the emphasis on training cops to de-escalate tense situations, and cast the job as one for people who have a high threshold for violence: “Certainly getting shot at and shooting people takes a different toll, but if you’re in this job and you’ve seen too much blood and gore and dead people then you’ve signed up for the wrong job.” Beyond the legal and contractual particulars, these are the kinds of attitudes that police unions extol and reinforce. They contribute to a workplace culture that views policing as a job for individuals who remain unbothered by the results of violence.  

Police are public servants granted enormous power over the citizenry. They are tasked with protecting the public and serving their interests. Police unions, in contrast, are tasked with protecting police and serving their interests—even in direct contravention of serving the public. That distinction makes them a barrier to reforms aimed at improving public safety and increasing oversight of how law enforcement behaves. If union-busting is what it takes to reduce the pernicious influence of today’s police unions on policing, then it’s time to bust some police unions.

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Stocks Stumble As WHO Sees “No Evidence” Of Any Drug Reducing Mortality

Stocks Stumble As WHO Sees “No Evidence” Of Any Drug Reducing Mortality

Tyler Durden

Wed, 06/03/2020 – 12:20

Having soared 1000s of points on the back of vaccine hopes, WHO’s just puked in the punchbowl, dismissing any hopes of a vaccine or treatment by stating that there is “no evidence that any drug is reducing mortality of patients that have COVID-19.”

The market – for now – has barely reacted…

Can the Fed print some more vaccine?

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“Craziest Shit I’ve Seen” – NYPD Uses “Undercover” Taxi Cab To Arrest Protesters

“Craziest Shit I’ve Seen” – NYPD Uses “Undercover” Taxi Cab To Arrest Protesters

Tyler Durden

Wed, 06/03/2020 – 12:05

As social unrest rages in New York City, a video surfaced on social media Tuesday, showing what appears to be an “undercover” police car that resembles a Yellow Cab NYC Taxi. 

The video, first posted via Twitter handle @dertyduchess, is narrated by a passerby, who spots an “NYC cab cop car.” The person went onto say, “this is the craziest shit I’ve seen.” As the person walks by the vehicle, they pointed out how “someone” was being detained inside the cab. 

One Twitter user responded to the video by saying: “Cops in NYC pretending to be taxi drivers so they can trap protesters… I have never in my life seen or heard anything as SICK and TWISTED as this….,” tweeted @hisnameiselie.



NYPD Cop Cab 

While there are no official reports that NYPD uses undercover cabs, Motherboard filed several requests to the NYPD through the Freedom of Information Act to examine the issue more in-depth back in 2015. What they found is that NYPD operated a small fleet of these cars back then. However, the fleet has grown to new taxi cab models, as shown in the video above, with what appears to be a new Toyota corolla.



h/t Motherboard 

A video from 2013 shows an NYPD undercover taxi in action. 

As a note to rioting Americans, something we’ve written in the last several days, the lesson to be learned today is that while fleeing a protest or store that was looted in New York City — hoping into a taxi for the great escape could result in an arrest. 

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Teen Vogue Tells Readers “ANTIFA Aspires Toward Creating A Better World”

Teen Vogue Tells Readers “ANTIFA Aspires Toward Creating A Better World”

Tyler Durden

Wed, 06/03/2020 – 11:45

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,

As violence, looting and rioting continue to plague almost every American city, virtue signalling leftist publication Teen Vogue told its readers that the ring leaders of the carnage, Antifa, really just wants to create a better world.

“Antifa grows out of a larger revolutionary politics that aspires toward creating a better world, but the primary motivation is to stop racists from organizing,” a tweet from the publication reads.

Well, that’s that cleared up then.

But hang on, why are legitimate protesters confronting and opposing Antifa chicken necks?

Teen Vogue’s assertion is based on a three year old interview with then Dartmouth College ‘historian’ Mark Bray, a known Antifa sympathiser who constantly tries to defend the organisation, and has even donated the profits of a book he wrote to Antifa.

“The vast majority of what they do does not entail any physical confrontation,” Bray claimed in the interview.

Bray also claimed that most of what Antifa does is “researching white supremacists and neo-Nazis”.

Not smashing up black-owned small businesses then?

Believe it or not, Bray is still at it though.

In an op-ed for The Washington Post Monday, Bray, who now lectures at Rutgers, described that the looting and rioting as “‘violent’ protest tactics.” with extra quotation marks around ‘violent’.

Bray suggests that Antifa protesters are engaging in “social revolutionary self-defense” against police, further claiming that the violence is merely “the targeted destruction of police and capitalist property”.

Refusing to call the rioting what it is, Bray described it as “a variety of forms of resistance during this dramatic rebellion.”

Someone more qualified than Bray to describe exactly what Antifa really is is Former Antifa member Gabriel Nadales, who now  admits that what the organisation does is the “very definition of domestic terrorism.”

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China Furious After UK Considers Offering Citizenship To 3 Million Hong Kong Residents

China Furious After UK Considers Offering Citizenship To 3 Million Hong Kong Residents

Tyler Durden

Wed, 06/03/2020 – 11:39

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged on Wednesday to overhaul immigration rules and said Britain is considering providing a route to British citizenship for nearly three million Hong Kong residents in response to Beijing’s move to impose a far-reaching security law here that many fear will dismantle the city’s political freedoms and which will criminalize broadly worded offenses such as sedition, subversion and foreign interference. Beijing’s decision to bypass Hong Kong’s legislature has been heavily criticized by the British government, which signed an agreement in 1984 to ensure that Hong Kong remains autonomous from Beijing, except in matters such as defense.

The unprecedented move, which Johnson said he would implement when China formally enacts the security law, could emerge as among the most significant ramifications of Beijing’s effort to undercut Hong Kong’s freedoms and bring the city more closely under Communist Party rule. It would potentially grant British residency and working rights to up to 40% of Hong Kong’s population, raising the specter of a brain drain from the Asian financial center.

“Many people in Hong Kong fear their way of life—which China pledged to uphold—is under threat,” Johnson wrote in an op-ed that appeared Wednesday in the Times of London newspaper and Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. “If China proceeds to justify their fears, then Britain could not in good conscience shrug our shoulders and walk away.”



Riot police detained hundreds of people, some of them children, during pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong on May 27. Photo: Getty Images.

Johnson’s vow comes as the United States, Canada, Australia and others face pressure from lawmakers and human rights groups to offer residency to Hong Kong people fleeing deteriorating political circumstances in the former British colony, which was promised a high degree of autonomy under the terms of its 1997 handover to China.

Johnson wrote that his government would allow holders of British National (Overseas), or BNO, passports to come to Britain for a renewable period of 12 months and gain the right to work. The move “could place them on a route to citizenship,” he said.

These passports, a holdover from British rule issued to people born before 1997, currently allow holders to stay in Britain for six months but do not afford work rights or residency. About 350,000 of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million residents hold British National Overseas passports, to which people who were citizens of Hong Kong before Britain returned the city to Chinese rule in 1997 are entitled.Johnson said a further 2.5 million people are eligible to apply for them, adding up to about 40% of Hong Kong’s population. Holders of those passports can visit the U.K. for a period of six months but currently don’t have the automatic right to live or work in the country.

That said, it is not clear exactly how immigration laws would be changed or if the U.K. would fully open its doors to the 2.8 million Hong Kong residents potentially eligible for a British National Overseas passport. It isn’t currently permitted to hold a British National Overseas passport while holding the nationality of another country. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Tuesday that the U.K. had discussed with allies including Australia, Canada and the U.S. the possibility of “burden sharing if we see a mass exodus from Hong Kong.” He didn’t indicate any outcome of the discussions.

China, naturally, was not happy with this turn of events.

In response to the BoJo op-ed, China’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that Britain has no jurisdiction over Hong Kong. Britain must “step back from the brink” and “stop interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs and China’s internal affairs,” spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.

Hong Kong’s Office of the Commissioner of China’s Ministry of Foreign Ministry added that “the U.K. has no sovereignty power, nor does it have power of governing or “supervision” over Hong Kong after the region’s return to China” adding that “no terms in the Sino-British Joint Declaration grant rights to U.K. to interfere in Hong Kong affairs” and that “any foreign nations including the U.K. should not use the Joint Declaration as an excuse to meddle in Hong Kong affairs: statement.”

Needless to say, China has been especially critical with the proposal since Britain first floated the idea last week, and has denied that the security law breached the 1984 agreement with Britain. It has said it reserved the right to take unspecified “corresponding action.”

Asked about the British proposal on Wednesday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said some foreign governments had adopted “blatant double standards” regarding China’s security law.

Comment on the proposal, Rabobank’s Michael Every was laconic, and warned that this is just the last geopolitical flashpoint that markets are clearly ignoring:

the UK is lobbying the 5-eyes Anglo group to allow millions of Hong Kongers to leave for Britain (who will take 2.9m), the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand: what does that suggest about the outlook?

As the former colonial ruler, London was a signatory to the Sino-British Joint Declaration in which China agreed to preserve Hong Kong’s political freedoms and way of life until 2047.

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As COVID-19 Spread, the Department of Justice Cracked Down on Immigration and Drugs

One big problem with the justice system is that we don’t really know what most prosecutors are doing. The vast majority of local district attorneys collect no aggregate data on charging decisions, sentencing recommendations, and the like. But thanks to TRAC—the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse—we at least have a sense of what federal prosecutors are up to.

So let’s flash back to March, when schools, churches, and workplaces were being closed by gubernatorial order. According to TRAC, U.S. attorneys filed 19 percent fewer cases in March than in February—an understandable decline, given the circumstances. Indeed, you might wonder why the number didn’t come down more. What was the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) focusing on? What was so important that it was worth stressing an already-scrambling federal judiciary?

A lot of drug and immigration offenses, apparently.

On March 16, Attorney General Bill Barr sent a memo asking all U.S. Attorneys to prioritize charges related to COVID-19, such as crooks who sell fake cures or send phishing emails while pretending to work for the Centers for Disease Control or the World Health Organization. But out of 11,219 new cases filed in March, the top charge for 1,989 of them—almost 18 percent—was the ominous “reentry of deported alien” charge. For another 244, “bringing in and harboring certain aliens” was the most serious charge on their indictments. Overall, a whopping 61.5 percent of the new cases charged in March 2020 involved immigration crimes.

Meanwhile, “drug trafficking” constituted 8.9 percent of the Justice Department’s March charges. Out of those cases, federal prosecutors levied drug conspiracy charges and charges for attempted crimes roughly half the time. Drug conspiracy cases in particular can lead to disproportionately harsh federal sentences, because every single person involved, from the two-bit street dealer to the kingpin, can be punished for the entire weight of all drugs trafficked by every person involved.

For another 517 new cases, the most serious charge was chapter 18, section 922 of the United States Code: unlawful firearm transactions, including the expansive “felon in possession of a firearm” rule in subsection (g). That is the law that treats the tax evader, the politician failing to comply with campaign finance laws, and the killer who announces that he wants to kill again as equally likely to commit the next shooting.

Federal prosecutors are reactive to what other law enforcement investigate, and referrals for prosecution were largely unaffected by COVID-19 in the first half of March. In February and the first half of March, the Justice Department was still receiving about 4,500 referrals per week. By the last week of March, this figure was down to 1,800 referrals. 

On June 1, the TRAC report for April was released. The small dip in cases from February to March was not just a fluke: Through all of April, there were only 2,824 new cases filed. Yet again, immigration- and drug-related crimes constituted the four most common top charges. The twin wars against drugs and immigrants march onward, while real crimes are more likely to go unaddressed.

Douglas A. Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University who maintains the influential blog Sentencing Law and Policy, wrote recently that he expects the dip to end soon, with a rebound in federal prosecutions likely showing up in May’s TRAC numbers. Harder to measure will be whether the dip in the DOJ’s caseload has had any measurable impact on public safety. In some cities, including Philadelphia, homicides and store burglaries are up while rapes are down. But the Justice Department rarely handles those sorts of crimes, as federal prosecutors generally need to find an interstate commerce component of a case before they can legally take over. 

“At one time, federal prosecutions were the elite of the elite, and focused on major crimes,” says Robert Gifford II, a former assistant U.S. attorney who handled some of Oklahoma’s most high-profile sex crimes cases. But reviewing the recent TRAC numbers, he’s struck by the sheer “pettiness of the types of prosecutions that DOJ has made a priority.”

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As COVID-19 Spread, the Department of Justice Cracked Down on Immigration and Drugs

One big problem with the justice system is that we don’t really know what most prosecutors are doing. The vast majority of local district attorneys collect no aggregate data on charging decisions, sentencing recommendations, and the like. But thanks to TRAC—the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse—we at least have a sense of what federal prosecutors are up to.

So let’s flash back to March, when schools, churches, and workplaces were being closed by gubernatorial order. According to TRAC, U.S. attorneys filed 19 percent fewer cases in March than in February—an understandable decline, given the circumstances. Indeed, you might wonder why the number didn’t come down more. What was the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) focusing on? What was so important that it was worth stressing an already-scrambling federal judiciary?

A lot of drug and immigration offenses, apparently.

On March 16, Attorney General Bill Barr sent a memo asking all U.S. Attorneys to prioritize charges related to COVID-19, such as crooks who sell fake cures or send phishing emails while pretending to work for the Centers for Disease Control or the World Health Organization. But out of 11,219 new cases filed in March, the top charge for 1,989 of them—almost 18 percent—was the ominous “reentry of deported alien” charge. For another 244, “bringing in and harboring certain aliens” was the most serious charge on their indictments. Overall, a whopping 61.5 percent of the new cases charged in March 2020 involved immigration crimes.

Meanwhile, “drug trafficking” constituted 8.9 percent of the Justice Department’s March charges. Out of those cases, federal prosecutors levied drug conspiracy charges and charges for attempted crimes roughly half the time. Drug conspiracy cases in particular can lead to disproportionately harsh federal sentences, because every single person involved, from the two-bit street dealer to the kingpin, can be punished for the entire weight of all drugs trafficked by every person involved.

For another 517 new cases, the most serious charge was chapter 18, section 922 of the United States Code: unlawful firearm transactions, including the expansive “felon in possession of a firearm” rule in subsection (g). That is the law that treats the tax evader, the politician failing to comply with campaign finance laws, and the killer who announces that he wants to kill again as equally likely to commit the next shooting.

Federal prosecutors are reactive to what other law enforcement investigate, and referrals for prosecution were largely unaffected by COVID-19 in the first half of March. In February and the first half of March, the Justice Department was still receiving about 4,500 referrals per week. By the last week of March, this figure was down to 1,800 referrals. 

On June 1, the TRAC report for April was released. The small dip in cases from February to March was not just a fluke: Through all of April, there were only 2,824 new cases filed. Yet again, immigration- and drug-related crimes constituted the four most common top charges. The twin wars against drugs and immigrants march onward, while real crimes are more likely to go unaddressed.

Douglas A. Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University who maintains the influential blog Sentencing Law and Policy, wrote recently that he expects the dip to end soon, with a rebound in federal prosecutions likely showing up in May’s TRAC numbers. Harder to measure will be whether the dip in the DOJ’s caseload has had any measurable impact on public safety. In some cities, including Philadelphia, homicides and store burglaries are up while rapes are down. But the Justice Department rarely handles those sorts of crimes, as federal prosecutors generally need to find an interstate commerce component of a case before they can legally take over. 

“At one time, federal prosecutions were the elite of the elite, and focused on major crimes,” says Robert Gifford II, a former assistant U.S. attorney who handled some of Oklahoma’s most high-profile sex crimes cases. But reviewing the recent TRAC numbers, he’s struck by the sheer “pettiness of the types of prosecutions that DOJ has made a priority.”

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Bill Dudley: “The Fed Is Basically Creating A Little Bit Of Moral Hazard”

Bill Dudley: “The Fed Is Basically Creating A Little Bit Of Moral Hazard”

Tyler Durden

Wed, 06/03/2020 – 11:25

Last August, former NY Fed president Bill Dudley sparked outrage across both ideological camps when he published a Bloomberg op-ed in which he said the Fed should not only not get involved by providing stimulus during the then-raging trade war between the US and China but implicitly admitted that the it is Fed that decides who is – or isn’t – president, as it  “could go much further” beyond merely warning, as Powell did, that the Fed’s tools are not suited to mitigating the damage from trade war, but “could state explicitly that the central bank won’t bail out an administration that keeps making bad choices on trade policy, making it abundantly clear that Trump will own the consequences of his actions.”

This was ironic for several reasons, the first of which is that it was Powell’s own justification for easing that enabled Trump to immediate escalate the trade war.

The second reason Dudley’s warning ended up being one giant farce is that just one month later the Fed launched “NOT QE” (which we now know was well and truly QE) to bail out various banks (mostly JPMorgan) and countless hedge funds that had gotten caught offside by the repo crisis.

In effect, Trump read the Dudley op-ed and flipped it on its head, forcing the Fed to engage in ever escalating stimulus to avoid undoing a decade of interventions which had put the central bank “all in” in preserving the fake market it had created in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

Which brings us to today when Dudley, realizing any Fed gambit of the kind he proposed would never again work, spoke on Bloomberg TV and confirmed what “conspiracy websites” have been saying for the past decade, namely that the Fed’s actions could have the “unintended consequence of encouraging more risky behavior.”

“People who have high-yield debt that’s outstanding, a lot of times that’s happened by choice,” he told Bloomberg Television. “So for the Federal Reserve to intervene and support those asset prices, is basically creating a little bit of moral hazard in the sense you’re encouraging people to take on more debt.”

Dudley was referring to the following chart which was published by the Fed last week, and which shows which corporate bond ETFs, among them junk bond focused ones, the Fed has been – and will be – purchasing.

Realizing that by saying so he opened a can of worms that will be used at the next Congressional dog and pony show featuring Chair Powell, Dudley, who stepped down from the New York Fed in 2018, said the Fed’s intention was not to bail out individual borrowers, but ensure “that people actually can access that market and raise high-yield debt. And I think they’ve been quite successful in those efforts.’”

Here we will make some corrections to Dudley’s comment, who until last year was best known for espousing the lack of inflation by highlighting how cheap iPads are: the Fed is creating, not “basically”, an unlimited amount, not “a little bit” of moral hazard, which is why retail investors are now flooding into stocks, comfortable that even if there is another crash the Fed will always bail them out.

Commenting on this, Bloomberg macro commentator Richard Breslow this morning said that “as a fan of Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, I still found it unnerving to hear him say last week that “We felt called to do what we could do.” They are meant to fulfill the dual mandate. And, yes, keep the financial system functional. But God’s work is more appropriately left to others. It’s good, at least, that he said they had crossed many “red lines.” It’s going back over them that will be the hard part.”

Alas, now that moral hazard is not only institutionalized, but officially admitted as Bill Dudley has now done, not only will the Fed never go back on the “red lines” but it will continue trampling them until the Fed’s ownership of assets start approaching the chart from Deutsche Bank which last month “playfully” asked just how big the Fed’s balance sheet could become.

Finally, some thoughts on this from Rabobank’s Michael Every:

Meanwhile, back in the home of the real Hollywood, nationwide street protests show few signs of abating – and markets keep going up and risk remains on. There are two equally-depressing conclusions here:

1) We no longer have actual markets due to central-bank elevation of moral hazard to the foundational pillar of financial capitalism;

2) We still have markets, but they find the idea of the US military operating on the streets to quell popular unrest to be reassuring – just as it would be in a banana republic where the asset holders are traditionally happy to do ‘whatever it takes’ to keep the peasants in line.

And while the jury is still out on the latter, we just had confirmation on the former by none other than the former head of the most important regional Fed.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/3eJumBE Tyler Durden

Rosenstein Admits He Would Not Have Signed FISA Warrant If He Knew Of Exculpatory Evidence, Throws McCabe Under The Bus

Rosenstein Admits He Would Not Have Signed FISA Warrant If He Knew Of Exculpatory Evidence, Throws McCabe Under The Bus

Tyler Durden

Wed, 06/03/2020 – 11:10

Update (1115ET): It appears, as Jonathan Turley details in a Twitter thread below, that Rosenstein is throwing McCabe under the bus…

Rosenstein just testified that he would not have signed the warrant application in 2017 on Carter Page because of the misconduct of FBI agents and the lack of evidence.

He said he did not know that the Steele dossier was discredited by that time. He said McCabe particularly “was not candid … or forthcoming.”

Notably, we now know that the Flynn investigation found no criminal acts by December 2016 and now Rosenstein said he would have ended the investigation of Page which was the focus of the early justifications of the Russian investigation.

Rosenstein just said he did not know that investigators by the early January 2017 asked for Flynn to be removed from the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. He signed off on these warrants and applications but was never informed of those critical facts.

Rosenstein insists that the information in appointing Mueller was based on that incomplete information at the time. He admitted that by August 2017 when he signed off on the Mueller investigation there was no evidence at all of collusion with the Russians.

Sen. Feinstein did a good job framing the use (or non-use) of the Steele dossier but went off the rails by stressing that none of the prosecutions relied on the dossier. However, the fact is that there was never any prosecution of any Trump person for colluding or conspiring …

…with the Russians. There was never any evidence of collusion with the Russian, a point reaffirmed by Rosenstein today. This hearing shows the value of oversight and the still unanswered questions in light of recently released material.

Grassley just said Rosenstein misled him and the public on the Flynn case. Rosenstein insisted that he did not know about the exculpatory evidence on Flynn and “that was news to me.” Rosenstein also said that he supports Durham investigating the dossier matter.

*  *  *

Authored by Daniel Payne via JustTheNews.com,

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that he would not have signed the renewal of the FISA warrant for Trump associate Carter Page if he had been aware of exculpatory information withheld from the FISA court. 

Rosenstein was responding to a question from Sen. Lindsey Graham, who asked him:

“If you knew then what you knew now, would you have signed the warrant application?”

“No, I would not,” Rosenstein said. 

“And the reason you wouldn’t have is because … exculpatory information was withheld from the court?” Graham asked, to which Rosenstein responded:

“Among other reasons, yes.” 

Appearing before the committee on Wednesday for a hearing concerning the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation, Rosenstein told senators that the Justice Department “must take remedial action” against any misconduct it uncovers within its ranks, a bracing statement made in reference to investigative reviews that found “significant errors” in official procedures related to the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation. 

Rosenstein in prepared remarks noted that internal investigations had revealed that the FBI “was not following the written protocols” in its execution of Crossfire Hurricane. 

“Senators, whenever agents or prosecutors make serious mistakes or engage in misconduct, the Department of Justice must take remedial action. And if existing policies fall short, those policies need to be changed. Ensuring the integrity of governmental processes is essential to public confidence in the rule of law,” he said.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/36VugEi Tyler Durden