The battle for free speech is on as Big Tech cracks down on conservatives on social media.

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No Fear: Big Tech Censors As They Aren’t Afraid of Us
The battle for free speech is on as Big Tech cracks down on conservatives on social media.

By Jenna Ellis

No Fear: Big Tech Censors As They Aren’t Afraid of Us


July 3, 2019

The battle for free speech on the internet is heating up and one thing is clear: Big Tech will bend to criticism from the left, but not the right.

The reason is simple. Silicon Valley does not fear any consequences from conservatives, who are instinctually prone to letting private companies do as they please.

Silicon Valley does not fear any consequences from conservatives, who are instinctually prone to letting private companies do as they please.

Meanwhile, because of the leftist inclinations of their own employees and their need to maintain a healthy relationship with their Democratic political protectors in Washington, the Big Tech companies are terrified of defying the activist left.

We are in the midst of an extensive crackdown on conservative speech by Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s YouTube. YouTube, for example is “demonetizing” and banning channels at an unprecedented rate, and in a complete reversal of its founding ethos, is also totally overhauling its policies to replace an emphasis on free speech with one on preventing “hateful content.”

The most immediate cause is direct pressure from left-wing activists who characterize their explicit efforts to deplatform the right as “journalism.” The YouTube policy changes, for instance, came in response to a coordinated media blitz over conservative comedian Steven Crowder making fun of Vox reporter Carlos Maza.

This network of activist-journalists works closely with groups like the Antifa gangsters who savagely beat Quillette editor Andy Ngo in Portland this weekend. After Ngo was attacked, some of these “journalists” mocked him and tried to justify his beating. Others, including Maza himself, have explicitly and publicly endorsed these violent tactics.

Yet, none of these leftist activists face censorship from Big Tech. In fact, the researcher who exposed their links to Antifa was himself banned from Twitter for doing so.
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Facebook (Official White House Photo)

But now there’s a new dynamic at work. The federal government has begun making the long-awaited opening moves toward the most significant government action ever aimed at Silicon Valley, and Big Tech is paying attention.

The latest wave of censorship, unfortunately, shows that when Big Tech companies are under pressure, their instinct is to veer further left.

The Federal Trade Commission is opening an antitrust investigation into Facebook, and the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division is about to do the same for Google, but that’s not the end of Big Tech’s woes. Somewhere between 12 and 20 state attorneys general are reportedly prepping their own coordinated investigations into Big Tech’s anti-competitive practices and possible violations of state consumer protection laws.

The latest wave of censorship, unfortunately, shows that when Big Tech companies are under pressure, their instinct is to veer further left.

Even with the U.S. Department of Justice and top state law enforcers opening investigations, Silicon Valley remains far more responsive to the threats of Democrats, who are signalling that their own House Judiciary Committee investigation will be framed as a push towards more censorship, not less.

Representative Frank Pallone (D – NJ), who will be among the most prominent Democrats at the upcoming hearings, has already issued a threatening tweet urging more aggressive social media moderation beyond the censorship of conservatives that is already underway.

The last time Facebook executives appeared before her Senate committee, Senator Mazie Hirono (D – HI) similarly made it clear that she thinks the problem with social media is too little censorship, not too much.

Unfortunately, that’s the message Big Tech is responding to, egged on by a liberal press eager to silence competing sources of information. The New York Times, for example, ran a Sunday cover story last month about how YouTube turned a young man into a neo-Nazi, ostensibly through no fault of his own, by allowing voices such as Jordan Peterson and Lauren Southern on its platform.

This was always the activist left’s plan. Shortly after the 2016 election, Media Matters for America leader David Brock produced a memo explicitly calling for pressure on social media companies to deplatform conservatives in hopes that this would prevent a repeat of Trump’s upset victory. Thanks to reporting from Breitbart News and an undercover investigation by Project Veritas, we now know that senior elements within Google share the same goal.
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Donald Trump MAGA Rally. The Epoch Times. Creative Commons. Flickr.

The Epoch Times. Creative Commons. Flickr.

The tide can still be turned, though. If the avalanche of antitrust investigations is not enough to convince Big Tech to clean up its act, then conservatives and elected Republicans will have to take an even stronger stand against biased censorship of the modern public square.

If the avalanche of antitrust investigations is not enough to convince Big Tech to clean up its act, then conservatives and elected Republicans will have to take an even stronger stand against biased censorship of the modern public square.

President Trump is setting the tone. He’s making it clear his administration will not sit on the sidelines with a summit on social media at the White House. “Twitter should let the banned Conservative Voices back onto their platform, without restriction. It’s called Freedom of Speech, remember. You are making a Giant Mistake!” the President tweeted in perhaps his strongest message to Big Tech yet.

We’re only at the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end, in this fight to preserve free speech on the internet. A huge part of that fight will involve the antitrust enforcement that’s starting to take shape, but conservatives can’t rely solely on federal regulators.

Elected Republicans, conservative activists, and the public at large need to follow Donald Trump’s lead and become far more invested in this issue by advocating loudly against censorship and seeking change through grassroots action, lawsuits, and legislation.

Democrats are already out ahead of us, with their 2020 presidential contenders competing fiercely to lock in Silicon Valley campaign contributions.

If conservatives can’t convince the social media giants that we can create as much pressure as the left exerts, Big Tech will continue to dismiss our concerns. They must fear the consequences of their assault on free speech, or else we will have to accept limits on our liberties.

Jenna Ellis (@realJennaEllis) is a member of the Trump 2020 Advisory Board. She is a constitutional law attorney, radio host, and the author of The Legal Basis for a Moral Constitution

Amazon employees not only listen to your private conversations captured by Alexa; they also know your home address

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Amazon employees not only listen to your private conversations captured by Alexa; they also know your home address
05/01/2019 / By Ethan Huff
https://www.newstarget.com/2019-05-01-amazon-employees-listen-to-your-private-conversations-captured-by-alexa.html

Not long after it was confirmed that Amazon employees have been secretly listening to the user commands given to its artificial intelligence (AI) “Alexa” devices, without the knowledge or permission of these users, new reports have come out to show that Amazon employees are also abusing Alexa users’ location data, giving themselves illicit access to customers’ home addresses.

At least five supposedly former Amazon employees recently came forward as whistleblowers to admit that Amazon maintains a covert “Alexa team” of employees, the job of whom is to transcribe, annotate, and analyze the voice recordings captured by Alexa spy devices. This Alexa team is reportedly comprised of employees spanning three different continents.

Since Alexa apparently doesn’t always understand what users are saying or implying, the purpose of this Alexa team is “to help Amazon’s digital voice assistant get better at understanding and responding to commands,” these five individuals claim. But along with this comes secret access to Alexa users’ geographic coordinates, which can easily be plugged into third-party mapping software to identify people’s locations.

Amazon had never intended for the truth about this secret spying program to become public, as the company forced employees who knew about it to sign non-disclosure agreements barring them from discussing it publicly. But they were apparently comfortable speaking anonymously and off the record to Bloomberg, which was the first to blow the lid on it.

“Anytime someone is collecting where you are, that means it could go to someone else who could find you when you don’t want to be found,” says Lindsey Barrett, a staff attorney and teaching fellow at Georgetown Law‘s Communications and Technology Clinic.

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According to Barrett, location data is far more sensitive than most other categories of user information. And the fact that it can potentially be retrieved alongside Alexa user recordings sets up “a big red flag” for Barrett, especially since Amazon has already been caught lying about its technology’s spying capabilities.

For more related news, be sure to check out Surveillance.news.

Just prior to this spying program being exposed, Amazon lied in an official statement, claiming its employees do not have “direct access” to Alexa users’ location data
One of Amazon’s lies was proclaimed on April 10, when the company issued an official statement claiming that members of its Alexa auditing program “do not have direct access to information that can identify the person or account as part of this workflow.”

But this claim has since been disproven as false, and Amazon has also since issued a more recent conflicting statement claiming that “access to internal tools is highly controlled” – meaning that at least some Amazon employees do have access to private information linking Alexa recordings to specific users and those users’ locations, which could potentially be used for blackmail purposes.

According to Amazon, employee access to these internal tools “is only granted to a limited number of employees who require these tools to train and improve the service by processing an extremely small sample of interactions.”

“Our policies strictly prohibit employee access to or use of customer data for any other reason, and we have a zero tolerance policy for abuse of our systems. We regularly audit employee access to internal tools and limit access whenever and wherever possible,” the company has further claimed.

It has also since come out that Amazon’s covert Alexa team isn’t just a few employees, but rather thousands spread all across the world. News of this appears to have prompted Amazons CEO Jeff Bezos to further restrict the level of access that Amazon employees have to the system – “perhaps anticipating a fresh Congressional kangaroo court where Jeff Bezos is grilled to explain why Amazon is the new NSA,” to quote ZeroHedge.com.

Sources for this article include:

ZeroHedge.com

NaturalNews.com

Green New Deal Reveals the Naked Truth of Agenda 21, by Tom DeWeese

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https://americanpolicy.org/2019/02/25/green-new-deal-reveals-the-naked-truth-of-agenda-21/

25 Feb
Green New Deal Reveals the Naked Truth of Agenda 21
Posted at 13:59h
Environment, Featured, Property Rights, Sustainable Development
by Tom DeWeese

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Sometimes if you fight hard enough and refuse to back down, no matter the odds, your truth is vindicated and prevails!

For twenty years I have been labeled a conspiracy theorist, scaremonger, extremist, dangerous, nut case. I’ve been denied access to stages, major news programs, and awarded tin foil hats. All because I have worked to expose Agenda 21 and its policy of sustainable development as a danger to our property rights, economic system, and culture of freedom.

From its inception in 1992 at the United Nation’s Earth Summit, 50,000 delegates, heads of state, diplomats and Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) hailed Agenda 21 as the “comprehensive blueprint for the reorganization of human society.” The 350-page, 40 chapter, Agenda 21 document was quite detailed and explicit in its purpose and goals. They warned us that the reorganization would be dictated through all-encompassing policies affecting every aspect of our lives, using environmental protection simply as the excuse to pull at our emotions and get us to voluntarily surrender our liberties.

Section I details “Social and Economic Dimensions” of the plan, including redistribution of wealth to eradicate poverty, maintain health through vaccinations and modern medicine, and population control.

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To introduce the plan, the Earth Summit Chairman, Maurice Strong boldly proclaimed, “Current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class – involving meat intake, use of fossil fuels, appliances, air-conditioning, and suburban housing – are not sustainable.” Of course, according to the plan, if it’s not “sustainable” it must be stopped.

In support of the plan, David Brower of the Sierra Club (one of the NGO authors of the agenda) said, “Childbearing should be a punishable crime against society, unless the parents hold a government license.” Leading environmental groups advocated that the Earth could only support a maximum of one billion people, leading famed Dr. Jacques Cousteau to declare, “In order to stabilize world populations, we must eliminate 350,000 people per day.”

Section II provides the “Conservation and Management of Resources for Development” by outlining how environmental protection was to be the main weapon, including global protection of the atmosphere, land, mountains, oceans, and fresh waters – all under the control of the United Nations.

To achieve such global control to save the planet, it is necessary to eliminate national sovereignty and independent nations. Eliminating national borders quickly led to the excuse for openly allowing the “natural migration” of peoples. The UN Commission on Global Governance clearly outlined the goal for global control stating, “The concept of national sovereignty has been immutable, indeed a sacred principle of international relations. It is a principle which will yield only slowly and reluctantly to the new imperatives of global environmental cooperation.” That pretty much explains why the supporters of such a goal go a little off the rails when a presidential candidate makes his campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.”

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The main weapon for the Agenda was the threat of Environmental Armageddon, particularly manifested through the charge of man-made global warming, later to conveniently become “climate change.” It didn’t matter if true science refused to cooperate in this scheme as actual global temperatures really are not rising and there continues to be no evidence of any man-made affect on the climate. Truth hasn’t been important to the scare mongers. Timothy Wirth, President of the UN Foundation said, “We’ve got to ride this global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic and environmental policy.” To further drive home their complete lack of concern for truth, Paul Watson of Green Peace declared, “It doesn’t matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true.”

So in their zealotry to enforce the grand agenda, social justice became the “moral force” over the rule of law as free enterprise, private property, rural communities and individual consumption habits became the targets, labeled as racist and a social injustice. Such established institutions and free market economics were seen as obstructions to the plan, as were traditional family units, religion, and those who were able to live independently in rural areas.

Finally, Agenda 21 was summed up in supporting documents this way: “Effective execution of Agenda 21 will require a profound reorientation of all human society, unlike anything the world has ever experienced. It requires a major shift in the priorities of both governments and individuals, and an unprecedented redeployment of human and financial resources. This shift will demand that a concern for the environmental consequences of every human action be integrated into individual and collective decision-making at every level.”

Of course, such harsh terms had to be hidden from the American people if the plan was to be successfully imposed. They called it a “suggestion” for “voluntary” action – just in case a nation or community wanted to do something positive for mankind! However, while using such innocent-sounding language, the Agenda 21 shock troops lost no time pushing it into government policy. In 1992, just after its introduction at the Earth Summit, Nancy Pelosi introduced a resolution of support for the plan into Congress. It’s interesting to note that she boldly called it a “comprehensive blueprint for the reorganization of human society.” In 1993, new President, Bill Clinton ordered the establishment of the President’s Council for Sustainable Development, with the express purpose of enforcing the Agenda 21 blueprint into nearly every agency of the federal government to assure it became the law of the land. Then the American Planning Association issued a newsletter in 1994, supporting Agenda 21’s ideas as a “comprehensive blueprint” for local planning. So much for a voluntary idea!

However, as we, the opponents started to gain some ground in exposing its true purpose and citizens began to storm city halls protesting local implementation, suddenly the once proud proponents lost their collective memories about Agenda 21. Never heard of it! “There are no blue-helmeted troops at city hall,” said one proponent, meaning policies being used to impose it were not UN driven, but just “local, local, local”. “Oh, you mean that innocuous 20 year-old document that has no enforcement capability? This isn’t that!” These were the excuses that rained down on us from the planners, NGOs and government agents as they scrambled to hide their true intentions.

I was attacked on the front page of the New York Times Sunday paper under the headline, “Activists Fight Green Projects, Seeing U.N. Plot.” The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) produced four separate reports on my efforts to stop it, calling our efforts an “Antigovernment Right-Wing Conspiracy Theory.” The Atlantic magazine ran a story entitled, “Is the UN Using Bike Paths to Achieve World Domination?” Attack articles appeared in the Washington Post, Esquire magazine, Wingnut Watch, Mother Jones, and Tree Hugger.com to name a few. All focused on labeling our opposition as tin-foil-hat-wearing nut jobs. Meanwhile, an alarmed American Planning Association (APA) created an “Agenda 21: Myths and Facts page on its web site to supposedly counter our claims. APA then organized a “Boot Camp” to retrain its planners to deal with us, using a “Glossary for the Public,” teaching them new ways to talk about planning. Said the opening line of the Glossary, “Given the heightened scrutiny of planners by some members of the public, what is said – or not said – is especially important in building support for planning.” The Glossary went on to list words not to use like “Public Visioning,” “Stakeholders,” “Density,” and “Smart Growth,” because such words make the “Critics see red”.

Local elected officials, backed by NGO groups and planners, began to deride local activists – sometimes denying them access to speak at public meetings, telling them that Agenda 21 conspiracy theory has “been debunked”. Most recently an irate city councilman answered a citizen who claimed local planning was part of Agenda 21 by saying “this is what’s “trending.” So, of course, if everyone is doing it is must be right!

Such has been our fight to stop this assault on our culture and Constitutional rights.

Over the years, since the introduction of Agenda 21 in 1992, the United Nations has created several companion updates to the original documents. This practice serves two purposes. One is to provide more detail on how the plan is to be implemented. The second is to excite its global activists with a new rallying cry. In 2000, the UN held the Millennium Summit, launching the Millennium Project featuring eight goals for global sustainability to be reached by 2015. Then, when those goals were not achieved, the UN held another summit in New York City in September of 2015, this time outlining 17 goals to be reached by 2030. This document became known as the 2030 Agenda, containing the exact same goals as were first outlined in Agenda 21in 1992, and then again in 2000, only with each new incarnation offering more explicit direction for completion.

Enter the Green New Deal, representing the boldest tactic yet. The origins and the purpose of the Green New Deal couldn’t be more transparent. The forces behind Agenda 21 and its goal of reorganizing human society have become both impatient and scared. Impatient that 27 years after Agenda 21 was introduced, and after hundreds of meetings, planning sessions, massive propaganda, and billions of dollars spent, the plan still is not fully in place. Scared because people around the world are starting to learn its true purpose and opposition is beginning to grow.

So the forces behind the Agenda have boldly thrown off their cloaking devices and their innocent sounding arguments that they just want to protect the environment and make a better life for us all. Instead, they are now openly revealing that their goal is socialism and global control, just as I’ve been warning about for these past twenty years. Now they are determined to take congressional action to finally make it the law of the land.

Take a good look, those of you who have heard my warnings about Agenda 21 over the years. Do you see the plan I have warned about being fully in place in this Green New Deal?

I warned that Agenda 21 would control every aspect of our lives, including how and were we live, the jobs we have, the mode of transportation available to us, and even what we eat. The Green New Deal is a tax on everything we do, make, wear, eat, drink, drive, import, export and even breathe.
In opposing Smart Growth plans in your local community, I said the main goal was to eliminate cars, to be replaced with bikes, walking, and light rail trains. The Green New Deal calls for the elimination of the internal combustion engine. Stay alert. The next step will be to put a ban on the sale of new combustion engines by a specific date and then limiting the number of new vehicles to be sold. Bans on commercial truck shipping will follow. Then they will turn to airplanes, reducing their use. Always higher and higher taxes will be used to get the public to “voluntarily” reduce their use of such personal transportation choices. That’s how it works, slowly but steadily towards the goal.
I warned that under Smart Growth programs now taking over every city in the nation that single-family homes are a target for elimination, to be replaced by high-rise stack and pack apartments in the name of reducing energy use. That will include curfews on carbon heating systems, mandating they be turned off during certain hours. Heating oil devises will become illegal. Gradually, energy use of any kind will be continually reduced. The Green New Deal calls for government control of every single home, office and factory to tear down or retrofit them to comply with massive environmental energy regulations.
I warned that Agenda 21 Sustainable policy sought to drive those in rural areas off the farms and into the cities where they could be better controlled. Those in the cities will be ordered to convert their gardens into food producers. Most recently I warned that the beef industry is a direct target for elimination. It will start with mandatory decreases in meat consumption until it disappears form our daily diet. The consumption of dairy will follow. Since the revelation of the Green New Deal the national debate is now over cattle emissions of methane and the drive to eliminate them from the planet. Controlling what we eat is a major part of the Green New Deal.
I warned that part of the plan for Agenda 2030 was “Zero Economic Growth.” The Green New Deal calls for a massive welfare plan where no one earns more than anyone else. Incentive to get ahead is dead. New inventions would disrupt their plan for a well-organized, controlled society. So, where will jobs come from after we have banned most manufacturing, shut down most stores, stopped single-family home construction, closed the airline industry, and severely regulated farms and the entire food industry? This is their answer to the hated free markets and individual choice.

The Green New Deal will destroy the very concept of our Constitutional Republic, eliminating private property, locally elected representative government, free markets and individual freedom. All decisions in our lives will be made for us by the government – just to protect the environment of course. They haven’t forgotten how well that scheme works to keep the masses under control.

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Though the label “Green New Deal” has been passing around globalist circles for a while, it’s interesting that its leaders have now handed it to a naïve, inexperienced little girl from New York who suddenly found herself rise from bartending to a national media sensation, almost over night. That doesn’t just happen and there is no miracle here. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a created product. They probably needed her inexperienced enthusiasm to deliver the Green New Deal because no established politician would touch it. Now that it’s been introduced and she is set up to take the heat, the gates have swung open allowing forty-five members of Congress to co-sponsor it in the House of Representatives as established Senator Ed. Markey (D-MA) has sponsored it in the Senate. That doesn’t just happen either. Nothing has been left to chance.

Behind the sudden excitement and rush to support it are three radical groups each having direct ties to George Soros, including the Sunrise Movement – which markets itself as an “army of young people” seeking to make climate change a major priority. Justice Democrats – which finds and recruits progressive candidates, and New Consensus – organized to change how we think about issues. Leaders of these groups have connections with other Soros-backed movements including Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street. According to The New Yorker magazine, the plan was written over a single weekend in December, 2018. Ocasio-Cortez was included in the effort, chosen to introduce it. This may be the single reason why she was able to appear out of nowhere to become the new darling of the radical left.

So there you have it — Agenda 21, the Millennium Project, Agenda 2030, the Green New Deal. Progress in the world of Progressives! They warned us from the beginning that their plan was the “comprehensive blueprint for the reorganization of human society”. And so it is to be the total destruction of our way of life.

To all of those elected officials, local, state and federal, who have smirked at we who have tried to sound the alarm, look around you now, hot shots! You have denied, ignored, and yet, helped put these very plans into place. Are you prepared to accept what you have done? Will you allow your own homes and offices to be torn down – or will you be exempt as part of the elite or just useful idiots? Will you have to give up your car and ride your bike to work? Or is that just for we peasants?

Over these years you have listened to the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund, ICLEI, the American Planning Association, and many more, as they assured you their plans were just environmental protection, just good policy for future generations. They have been lying to you to fulfill their own agenda! Well, now the truth is right in front of you. There is no question of who and what is behind this. And no doubt as to what the final result will be.

Now, our elected leaders have to ask real questions. As the Green New Deal is implemented, and all energy except worthless, unworkable wind and solar are put into place, are you ready for the energy curfews that you will be forced to impose, perhaps each night as the sun fades, forcing factories, restaurants, hospitals, and stores to close at dusk? How about all those folks forced to live in the stack and pack high-rises when the elevators don’t operate? What if they have an emergency?

How much energy will it take to rebuild those buildings that must be destroyed or retrofitted to maker them environmentally correct for your brave new world? Where will it come from after you have banned and destroyed all the workable sources of real energy? What are you counting on to provide you with food, shelter, and the ability to travel so you can continue to push this poison? Because – this is what’s trending — now! And how is it going to be financed when the entire economy crashes under its weight? Is it really the future you want for you, your family, and your constituents who elected you?

Every industry under attack by this lunacy should now join our efforts to stop it. Cattlemen, farmers, airlines, the auto industry, realtors, tourist industry, and many more, all will be put out of business – all should now take bold action to immediately kill this plan before it kills your industry. Stomp it so deeply into the ground that no politician will ever dare think about resurrecting it.

For years I’ve watched politicians smirk, roll their eyes, and sigh whenever the words Agenda 21 were uttered. As George Orwell said, “The further a society drifts from the truth the more it will hate those who speak it”. Today I stand vindicated in my warnings of where Agenda 21 was truly headed, because it’s not longer me having to reveal the threat. They are telling you themselves. Here’s the naked truth – Socialism is for the stupid. The Green New Deal is pure Socialism. How far its perpetrators get in enforcing it depends entirely on how hard you are willing to fight for freedom. Kill it now or watch freedom die.
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Short-Term Pain, Long-Term Wonder Foreclosure.com Scholarship Program Winning Essay 2017, (Grand Prize)

You know, I just read the following article, and see that the “Millennials” are being brain washed. Goldman Sachs said back around 2008 “Only the rich should own houses, everyone else should be renting”. Sorry, I am still looking for the article wherein I quoted from. I will find it, I used that in a brief.

I knew that meant trouble. Even with foreclosure hell in the middle of its heyday, it still meant something. Not long after that, people being foreclosed upon, began being offered the chance to rent the house that they just lost.

Now, these third party entities popped up almost over night, and instead of the properties at foreclosure, reverting back to the lenders, these third parties now purchase at foreclosure auctions. Then they offer to rent you your house, or take you to magistrate court and have your thrown out, instead of the banks having to do that.

Funny thing, if you research most of these third parties, back far enough, the banks own them too, so still the same thing, just different names. Nevertheless, I could not help but post the article. It is obvious that “they” want us all in little apartments in and around the cities, easier to control “us”. I just had not realized that they were in the progress of brain-washing the Millennials into not even wanting to own a house.

Read the article:

Short-Term Pain, Long-Term Wonder
Foreclosure.com Scholarship Program Winning Essay 2017, (Grand Prize)
https://article.foreclosure.com/short-term-pain-long-term-wonder-82f82b90ff52
Go to the profile of Foreclosure.com Staff
Foreclosure.com Staff
Feb 28, 2018
By Jack Duffley | University of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign

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(photo from https://article.foreclosure.com/short-term-pain-long-term-wonder-82f82b90ff52)

In the gleeful times of 2005, my parents decided, like so many others, that it was time to “upgrade.” They sold our smaller home on the other side of town, which had appreciated nicely, and bought a 3700 square foot behemoth in a town with already exorbitant property taxes. My younger brother and I were thrilled to finally have a basement, our own rooms, and even a concrete basketball court in our backyard! All eight-year-old me knew was that things were going to be a whole lot more comfortable from there, and my optimistic parents seemed to think the same.

Jack Duffley | University of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign
The year is 2017, and my parents have only just now reached the equity levels in the house that they started with over a decade ago, nearly one-hundred-fifty mortgage payments later. However, after being bombarded by extremely high taxes for that entire time, they are essentially underwater on the property, but see little choice but to hang on for dear life until equity recovers just a bit more before they abandon ship. A thin retirement plan, mostly resting on the house, has forced their hand.

My parents’ story is in no way unique; millions of Americans who purchased homes before the 2008 recession have faced similar dilemmas, often worse than theirs. Many had no choice but to foreclose during the worst of it. After all, the homeownership rate has declined almost 5 points nationwide since the recession.[1] If anything, they can be considered lucky, yet they are still stuck in the mud. Their children, on the other hand, are now at their own fork in the road: to be [a homeowner] or not to be.

And, all things considered, they are often choosing not to be. The census shows a stark dip in homeownership among those under the age of 35 of almost 10 percent, lowering significantly from its peak pre-recessionary levels of 43 percent to a dismal 34 percent. At the same time, rental vacancy rates nationwide fell from over 10 percent to less than 7 percent as more people turned to renting, millennials especially.[2] Why is this happening?

Aside from the obvious fear of the failure that their parents faced, millennials are renting more as they define their own unique lifestyle. Millennials, in ever increasing numbers, are focusing on “living now.” They are choosing to move into urban areas in particular. As a predominantly liberal group, and with large cities tending to lean left, this is partially due to political forces. The majority, however, is due to lifestyle conveniences that come with a city: multiple options for transportation and not needing to own a car, proximity to cultural events and nightlife, and, especially with the decline of the suburbs as retail simultaneously sinks, a more positive future economic outlook. They more readily take the loss in living space for these benefits than their previous generations did.

At the same time, a growing number of millennials are facing burdensome student loan debt. Rather than come out of college with pristine back-end ratios primed for a hefty mortgage, they are handcuffed by the debt that they have amassed in their early twenties. As the Pew Research Center has noted, 37 percent of people under the age of thirty have student loan debt. They contribute to the $1.3 trillion in student debt, leverage that could presumably be used for a mortgage or some other useful credit if it were not locked up already.[3] Millennials are trying to increase their earning power by going to school so that they have the opportunity to advance economically, but it is simultaneously holding many of them back via years of extra debt — debt that is notably not going to a physical asset.

What does this mean for real estate? For the single family home market, it spells disaster, at least in the short term. Grant Cardone, one of the premier real estate investors in the world, calls homeownership a “scam,” and emphasizes that renting over homeownership among young people is becoming more and more popular. He notes that there is a huge need for affordable rentals as millennials deviate away from single family homes. Cardone is always one to advocate renting as a more advantageous and flexible lifestyle choice, and, as it has been mentioned, millennials increasingly value the flexibility that comes with renting instead of buying a home. Many, like Cardone, now see homeownership as a solely negative ordeal.

While it may not be up to the level of a “scam,” there are significant drawbacks with owning a home. For one, it locks up a significant amount of capital, money that could be used for a number of different projects or investments. In sum, homeownership is very expensive, at least in the short term when people make their initial down payment and any potential renovations. This makes it very hard to own a home for people of all ages. Additionally, owning a home can financially lock someone to a particular location, one which they might not want to be in after a while. Finally, for those hoping for appreciation when they purchase their home, as with any investment, there is a chance that it does not pan out. A poorly timed crash can wipe out an owner’s equity in seconds just as it did to my parents and so many others.

While there are drawbacks, the Great Recession and its subsequent lifestyle shift suggest the lack of education about the benefits of owning real estate. Even my parents are constantly warning me of the dangers of homeownership; the shift is not totally driven by millennials themselves. They too are still shaken by their mistakes and the sledgehammer that was the crash. They ignore the value of building equity over the long term, the typical tax benefits that come with a primary residence, and the relative stability of the real estate market because they mistakenly overpaid for a house that, in hindsight, they cannot comfortably afford in a downturn. They just hope that I do not do the same, and rightfully so. However, what millennials should have learned from the recession is not that real estate is bad, but that they simply must be careful and reasonable with what they assume when purchasing it.
3310-Harrison-Rd-east-point
Unfortunately, the average consumer purchases on emotion. With the tremendous amounts of emotional trauma from the recession, millennials are increasingly refusing to buy a home as their parents might have desired at the same age. But what are they purchasing in its place? Many take on higher rents, consistent with the “living now” mentality. Many more use their money to buy a wealth of products online. Some are even speculating on cryptocurrency, something far more unknown than real estate, expecting to make a lot of money. Why do they do that? Because the average consumer purchases on emotion, not on something systematic. Real estate has already been proven to be a relatively safe and a potentially very powerful asset. Instead, the negatives have been, and continue to be, emphasized. This masks the positives of owning a home, or even a simple condo. Millennials in some cases are mistakenly ignoring all real estate and not just the kind of overleveraging or speculating that got their parents into trouble.

Does this spell the end to America? Will the country burst into flames as millennials move to urban areas? Of course not. It must be noted that the current trend does not own the future; millennials could very well begin to purchase homes in huge numbers, especially as prices drop over the next few years. While it is likely that this will not be the case, it is impossible for anyone but millennials themselves to determine that.

What is certain is that, in the short run, there will be pain. The single family housing market is going to suffer as millennials make lifestyle choices contrary to their parents. The market will be oversupplied with single family homes. However, millennials will still need a place to live, just like anyone else. Their increasing demand for urban locations and conveniences will push rent up in cities, as it already has in places like San Francisco and Seattle. This will open a new, and huge, opportunity for real estate investors and developers alike to profit in the cities as millennials develop their own American Dream. After all, a dream is only what a person makes of it, not what someone else defines it as.

References:
[1] U.S. Census Bureau, Annual Homeownership Rates for the United States and Regions: 1968–2016, (accessed Dec 10, 2010), https://www.census.gov/housing/hvs/data/charts/fig05.pdf

[2] U.S. Census Bureau, Annual Rental Vacancy Rates for the United States and Regions: 1968–2016, (accessed Dec 10, 2010), https://www.census.gov/housing/hvs/data/charts/fig03.pdf

[3] Anthony Cilluffo, “5 facts about U.S. student loans,” Pew Research Center, last modified August 24, 2017. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/08/24/5-facts-about-student-loans/

The winning essay above was submitted to Foreclosure.com’s scholarship program.

The 2017 essay topic:
IS THE “AMERICAN DREAM” OF ONE DAY OWNING A HOME ALIVE AND WELL AMONG MILLENNIALS?
Millennials having experienced the “Great Recession,” which was the traumatic housing crisis that triggered the financial crisis a decade ago. As a result, data suggests that Millennials (those born between 1981 to 1997) have been slow to adopt homeownership. Discuss the pros and cons of homeownership for Millennials, as well as which factors could increase or decrease homeownership among the generation. Will their collective hesitation and apprehension hurt them in the long run or are Millennials simply in the process of re-defining the “American Dream?”

2nd Circuit Upholds Insider Trading Conviction of Ex-Goldman Sachs Director The panel’s decision represented the latest retreat from the appellate court’s holding in 2014’s “U.S. v. Newman,” which narrowed prosecutors’ ability to prove insider trading.

Gupta-m1114755-web2
Rajat Gupta, right, with his attorney Gary Naftalis, following his sentencing in 2012. Photo: Louis Lanzano/ Bloomberg
https://www.law.com/newyorklawjournal/2019/01/07/2nd-circuit-upholds-insider-trading-conviction-of-ex-goldman-sachs-director/
By Colby Hamilton | January 07, 2019 at 04:12 PM

For the second time in as many months the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has declined to reverse an insider trading secured by federal prosecutors before the circuit court’s ruling in United States v. Newman and the sequence of decisions it spawned.

On Monday, the panel, composed of Circuit Judges Amalya Kearse, Richard Wesley and Christopher Droney, denied former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta’s second attempt to have his insider trading conviction overturned. The Second Circuit had previously in 2014 denied Gupta’s argument that the trial court erred in admitting some evidence, while excluding other evidence offered by the defense ahead of his 2012 conviction. He ultimately served 19 months in prison, and was released in 2016.

The current appeal came after U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff of the Southern District of New York denied Gupta’s motion to vacate his conviction in the wake of the Second Circuit’s 2014 decision in Newman, which substantially narrowed the “personal benefit” requirements of an insider trading relationship. Gupta argued before Rakoff that the jury instructions in his case were legally invalid under Newman.

On appeal, the panel reviewed Gupta’s challenge based on a cause-and-prejudice standard. It agreed with Rakoff’s argument that nothing stopped Gupta from arguing that the jury instructions were faulty on direct appeal from his conviction, since they were made during trial.

The panel observed that its November 2018 decision in Whitman v. United States tracks closely with the dynamics of Gupta’s case, as jury instructions were objected to at trial but weren’t pursued on appeal. Other insider trading cases pursued the line on appeal before Newman, the panel noted, making the claims in Whitman—and therefore Gupta’s case—insufficient to show cause.

Defendants in other insider trading prosecutions were contending that juries should be given narrower definitions of the personal benefit needed to find culpable insider trading,” the panel wrote. “We conclude that [Gupta] presents no viable claim that the personal benefit challenge was unavailable to his counsel on appeal.”

While the panel, having found Gupta failing the cause standard, could arguably have ended its findings there, it proceeded to address the issue of prejudice, and, in doing so, waded directly back in to the circuit’s muddied law on insider trading.

The panel first found that Gupta failed to show the personal benefit instructions were so flawed as to deny him due process, noting that the actual language provided to the jury in question spoke of “maintaining a good relationship with a frequent business partner.”

That last clause proved critical for the panel, who argued it squared with requirements under precedent, but not the Second Circuit’s most recent double take in United States v. Martoma, which is mentioned briefly later. Instead, the panel opted to return to the insider trading Ur-precedent from the Supreme Court’s 1983 decision in Dirks v. SEC.

The Dirks court set out a “varying sets of circumstances…which would warrant a finding of the tipper’s illegal purpose,” the panel noted. Despite the fact the specific language required by Newman for a tangible or pecuniary benefit was not present in Gupta’s jury instructions, the language was satisfactory under Dirks’ seemingly broader “circumstances.”

In fact, the panel’s acknowledgment that Dirks highlighting the ability for a quid pro quo relationship despite “the lack of need for proof of the tipper’s financial or tangible gain” appeared to potentially undercut a portion of the court’s holding in Newman, continuing the erosion that began with the Supreme Court’s findings in Salman v. United States and continued through the two versions of the Second Circuit’s Martoma decision.

The fact that Newman‘s requirement for proof of a tipper’s pecuniary or other tangible gain has been rejected by the Supreme Court disposes of Gupta’s contention that Newman meant the trial court’s instruction that proof of pecuniary or tangible benefit was not necessary caused him to be convicted of a crime for ‘conduct that is not criminal,’” the panel said, quoting from Gupta’s brief on appeal.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which secured Gupta’s original conviction and handled the appeal, declined to comment.

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel name attorney Gary Naftalis handled Gupta’s appeal. He did not respond to a request for comment.

Related:

We’ve Entered Full Clownworld


We’ve Entered Full Clownworld
October 27, 2018
https://forbiddenknowledgetv.net/weve-entered-full-clownworld/

My friend John Barnwell recently described the news media of our times as akin to “being in a wind tunnel”. This was true until the FBI’s arrest on Friday of the “MAGABomber”, Cesar Altieri Sayoc Jr., a homeless retired male stripper living out of a van that’s elaborately festooned with Trump stickers. Now, we’ve entered full Clownworld.

A few grains of ricin the size of table salt can kill an adult human. On October 2nd, envelopes that tested positive for ricin were mailed to President Trump, Defense Secretary James Mattis and to Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson. Two days later, police arrested former US Navy sailor, William Clyde Allen III of Logan, Utah in connection with those mailings. This story received next to no media coverage.

What has received wall-to-wall coverage on the Mainstream Media is a so-called “mail-bombing spree”, in which 13 packages containing prop pipe bombs were allegedly sent through the US Mail from Sunrise, Florida, without any of them being postmarked and all apparently having been hand-delivered to each targeted location, from NYC to California and in between.

(image from https://www.rt.com/usa/442176-cnn-pipe-bomb-photos/)

Bomb squads would have been called in to extract and to safely detonate the bombs. However, none of these “bombs” were detonated, likely because they couldn’t be. Some were even officially reported to be “incapable of exploding”. Nevertheless, FBI Director, Christopher Wray took great pains during a press conference to stress that the IEDs were “not hoax devices”.

A fingerprint and a DNA match on the scotch tape used to seal the packages and on file with the FBI allowed the case to be solved at breakneck speed. Sayoc was initially cooperating with investigators, telling them that the pipe bombs wouldn’t have hurt anyone and that he didn’t want to hurt anyone.

Sayoc has been charged with 5 Federal Crimes: 1) interstate transport of explosives, 2) illegal mailing of explosives, 3) threats against former presidents and other persons, 4) threatening interstate commerce and 5) assaulting current and former Federal officers. He is looking at 48 years in Federal Prison if convicted. At least he’ll have a roof over his head.

Joe M, the creator of some viral videos about QAnon has expressed his skepticism of the official story and the details which make him suspect that this story is a Clownworld False Flag in these additional points:

1) The MSM seemed to be on message with this story from the outset, with their coordinating headlines, which immediately referred to “bombs”, when these so-called bombs had no activator, no trigger and weren’t composed of any explosive substances.

2) The package sent to John Brennan at CNN had its contents taken out and photographed extensively, without any concern for safety.

3) The media has lead us all to believe that these packages actually arrived at the residences of Obama and the Clintons. The USPS does not deliver mail to anyone under Secret Service protection. All of their mail gets delivered to a Secret Service field office. If these packages were delivered to their private homes, they were not delivered by the US Postal Service.

4) Sayoc’s profile showed that he was a Democratic voter but shortly after everyone began posting about this, his profile was updated to Republican – but now, all of his social media accounts have been taken down.

5) Pictures of the “Trump stickers” on Sayoc’s rear window are totally mismatched from one picture to the next. Is this why the FBI put a tarp over the van, when they took it away to their lab? Additionally, as many have noted and as anyone who has ever lived in Florida will tell you, the extreme heat and humidity there are absolute murder on a car. Yet, all of Sayoc’s Trump stickers are totally pristine.

(pix from https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-suspected-bombers-van-needs-to-be-seen-to-be-believed/)

6) An odd detail which may or may not mean anything is that the stamps affixed to the packages are 2016 “Forever” stamps, not 2018.

7) Cesar Sayoc Jr. had multiple aliases, including Cesar Altieri Randazzo and Cesar Anthony Altieri.

8) The corrupt Broward County Sheriff, Scott Israel is in charge of this investigation…the same Scott Israel in charge of the Parkland shooting.

9) Sayoc was a mailroom clerk at Parkland High School!

10) His social media accounts were still up early Friday and someone took a screenshot of one of his characteristically semi-literate posts, which Sayoc made back in 2016: “I would like to wish my great friend from Academy 9 yrs military school Ricki a happy birthday and lifetime from CIA. Congrats on your invention and many successes my brother.”

The person who he was congratulating was Enrique “Ric” Prado, then a 25-year veteran of the CIA, serving six overseas posts, including Station Chief in a deliberately unspecified Muslim country. Domestically, he was Chairman of Operations for the DCI’s Counterterrorist Center for Ambassador Cofer Black during 9/11 attacks and subsequent war on terrorism and as a Deputy on the original Bin Laden Task Force as well as a recipient of the Distinguished Career Central Intelligence (the highest award given to senior officers), as well as CTC’s George HW Bush Award for Excellence in Counterterrorism, among others.

11) This is pretty crazy. On October 26th, 2012, Trump tweeted a warning of an “Obama bomb” that would throw the 2012 election. On October 26th, 2018, he tweeted again about “bomb” stuff that could throw the 2018 election!

There are many unanswered questions and Dave from the X22 Report does a good job of asking them in this video.

Maybe they should have looked at those who have threatened to bomb the Whitehouse, Madonna. Along with the numerous threats made against Trump’s life, I would think those people should have been on the list of suspects. But then, it’s Ok to threaten the US President and send ricin to him and his family, and most of us never hear about it. Everytime someone does something against the Democrats, it is big news, even if the bomb could have never exploded. What a world we live in! I guess money buys everything.

Speaking of money, I was checking out the sponsors of the different political entities here in GA. All of the anti-gunners accepted donations from George Soros, Alexander Soros, or both. WTF? Soros don’t have anything to do with GA. I bet they give to all of the anti-gun legislators in your state too!

RBS bankers joked about destroying the US housing market By Rob Davies

RBS bankers joked about destroying the US housing market
By Editor August 16, 2018
http://www.theeventchronicle.com/finanace/rbs-bankers-joked-about-destroying-the-us-housing-market/


A boarded up building in Cleveland, Ohio, in January 2008. In the build up to the crisis mortgage lenders were incentivised to make as many loans as possible. Photograph: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
Transcripts of pre-financial crisis conversations show senior bankers’ disregard for customers

By Rob Davies

RBS bankers joked about destroying the US housing market after making millions by trading loans that staff described as “total fucking garbage”, according to transcripts released as part of a $4.9bn (£3.8bn) settlement with US prosecutors.

Details of internal conversations at the bank emerged just weeks before the 10-year anniversary of the financial crisis, which saw RBS rescued with a £45bn bailout from the UK government.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) criticised RBS over its trade in residential mortgage backed securities (RMBS) – financial instruments underwritten by risky home loans that are cited as pivotal in the global banking crash.

It said the bank made “false and misleading representations” to investors in order to sell more of the RMBS, which are forecast to result in losses of $55bn to investors.

Transcripts published alongside the settlement reveal the attitude among senior bankers at RBS towards some of the products they sold.

The bank’s chief credit officer in the US referred to selling investors products backed by “total fucking garbage” loans with “fraud [that]was so rampant … [and]all random”.

He added that “the loans are all disguised to, you know, look okay kind of … in a data file.”

The DoJ said senior RBS executives “showed little regard for their misconduct and, internally, made light of it”.

In one exchange, as the extent of the contagion in the banking industry was becoming clear, RBS’ head trader received a call from a friend who said: “[I’m] sure your parents never imagine[d]they’d raise a son who [would]destroy the housing market in the richest nation on the planet.”

He responded: “I take exception to the word ‘destroy.’ I am more comfortable with ‘severely damage.’”

Another senior banker explained to a colleague that risky loans were the result of a broken mortgage industry that meant lenders were “raking in the money” and were incentivised to make as many loans as possible.

Employees who might raise the alarm about the riskiness of such lending “don’t give a shit because they’re not getting paid”, he said.

The bank made “hundreds of millions of dollars” from selling RMBS, the DoJ said, while disguising the risk they posed to investors, which included a group of nuns who lost 96% of their investment.

By October 2007, as signs of stress began to show in the banking system, RBS’ chief credit officer wrote to colleagues expressing his true feelings about the burgeoning volume of subprime loans in the housing market.

He said loans were being pushed by “every possible … style of scumbag”, adding that it was “like quasi-organised crime”.

“Nobody seems to care,” he added.
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The DoJ criticised RBS’ failure to do due diligence on the loans it was packaging, saying the bank feared it would lose out to rivals if it performed stricter tests.

One analyst at the lender referred to the bank’s due diligence procedures as “just a bunch of bullshit”, according to the transcripts.

When the bank became concerned about the poor quality of loans and started imposing tighter due diligence, one senior banker complained, saying: “Oh, God. Does anyone want to make money around here any more?”

RBS expected to make $20m from one deal that involved trading particularly risky loans, but faced resistance from the bank’s chief credit officer.

A senior executive responded to the concerns by telling the bank’s head trader: “Please don’t fuckin’ blow this one. We need every dollar we can get our hands on.”

Internal conversations between bankers also offer some insight into their growing realisation of the poor quality of the loans the bank owned and sold.

In September 2007, one trader referred to an appraisal of loans as giving “pretty shitty results”.

The transcripts were released by the DoJ as it confirmed the details of the settlement with the bank over its trading in RMBS.

RBS said: “Under the terms of the settlement, RBS disputes the allegations but will not set out a legal defence, while the settlement does not constitute a judicial finding.”

Certainty over the scale of the settlement will allow the bank to pay its first dividend in a decade this year.

The dividend is worth £240m and the Treasury will receive £149m as RBS is still 62%-owned by the government.

Ross McEwan, RBS chief executive, said: “This settlement dates back to the period between 2005 and 2007. There is no place for the sort of unacceptable behaviour alleged by the DoJ at the bank we are building today.”

He added that the bank could now “focus our energy on serving our customers better”.

But league tables published by the Competition and Markets Authority on Wednesday placed RBS joint bottom for customer service, with fewer than half of customers saying they would recommend the bank to a friend.

RBS will have to publish the results in branches, on its website and mobile app from today.

This article (RBS bankers joked about destroying the US housing market) was originally published on The Guardian and syndicated by The Event Chronicle.