ZeroHedge RSS Feed

Driver In Fatal Self-Driving Tesla Crash Had Recently Posted Video Praising Car's Autopilot

Call it a case of tragic irony.

Earlier today, Tesla reported (with a one day delay so that perhaps its stock wouldn't get clobbered ahead of quarter end rebalancing) that a 40-year-old Ohio man, named Joshua Brown, was killed when his 2015 Model S drove under the trailer of an 18-wheeler on a highway near Williston, Florida, sending Tesla stock lower nearly 3%.

In its defense, Tesla said in a blog post that the autopilot didn’t notice the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake wasn’t applied; the company reported the May 7 incident to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Surprisingly, it took the company nearly two months to notify its shareholders of what was a material event to the business model of a company whose "autopilot" feature has been pinned as one of the core growth drivers, pardon the pun; furthermore, a virtually assured outcome of this tragic accident is a costly recall (not to mention litigation) one which will soak up even more of the company's already massive cash burn.

And while the details of the accident are sure to add fuel to the debate over whether self-driving cars are ready for the real world (they are not, especially when the "auto pilot" is merely a gimmick meant to boost the price of an overhyped stock, while masking the inherent flaws of a substandard luxury car by piling on even more hype), the real irony is that Brown, who was killed while using his Tesla Model S’s autopilot feature, had previously praised precisely the same feature and had posted video of Tesla autonomous driving ability helping to save him from a collision.

Joshua Brown died May 7 in a motor vehicle accident, according to an online obituary. The same picture used with that obituary was used on the YouTube account that posted the near miss in April, and as MarketWatch reports a Florida coroner confirmed Thursday that the driver killed in the crash there was named Joshua Brown.

In an image from an online video posted by Brown driving his Tesla Model S.

According to the Google account linked to his YouTube, Brown was the owner and founder of Nexu Innovations, a research and development company based in Stow, Ohio, that dabbled in networking, product development and 3-D printing. His corporate bio states that he served in the U.S. Navy for more than 11 years after studying at the University of New Mexico.

Tesla described Brown, without naming him, in its blog post as “a friend to Tesla and the broader EV community, a person who spent his life focused on innovation and the promise of technology and who believed strongly in Tesla’s mission.”

Brown’s last post to his YouTube account was a second version of the video that received more than 1 million hits, with image stabilization turned off.

 

In the description of the video, uploaded to YouTube on April 10, he praised the car and its autopilot features.

Tesla Model S autopilot saved the car autonomously from a side collision from a boom lift truck. I was driving down the interstate and you can see the boom lift truck in question on the left side of the screen on a joining interstate road. Once the roads merged, the truck tried to get to the exit ramp on the right and never saw my Tesla. I actually wasn't watching that direction and Tessy (the name of my car) was on duty with autopilot engaged. I became aware of the danger when Tessy alerted me with the "immediately take over" warning chime and the car swerving to the right to avoid the side collision.

 

You can see where I took over when there's a little bit of blip in the steering. Tessy had already moved to the right to avoid the collision. I was not able to slow down even more due to the heavy traffic (cars were behind me). Once I got behind him I slowly added more room between us until he exited. I was not tail gating after the incident.

 

It was a mistake on the other driver's part. He did not even know I was there until I honked my horn. There was a group of women in the black sedan to my left and they went nuts about the guy and what he did (all kinds of gesturing in their car). Once I was beside the truck as it slowed down on the ramp, the guy gestured a "sorry!" I gave him, "it's okay" wave.

 

Tessy did great. I have done a lot of testing with the sensors in the car and the software capabilities. I have always been impressed with the car, but I had not tested the car's side collision avoidance. I am VERY impressed. Excellent job Elon!

 

Note: I have over 39,000 miles on the car and I've had it since mid-July 2015. Hands down the best car I have ever owned and use it to its full extent. It has done many, many amazing things, but this was one of the more interesting things caught on the dashcam.

Less than a month later he would be dead, having relied on the same "self-driving" feature. Perhaps it is time for the NHTSA to actually start doing its job instead of fawning over the shaky and increasingly more questionable credentials of a still very wealthy "real world Iron Man", who in the aftermath of his shocking announcement to buy SolarCity, has in recent weeks been called a charlatan by an increasingly more vocal group of outside observers.

"Off The Grid" Indicators Reveal True State Of U.S. Economy

By Nick Colas of Convergex

Summary: Our basket of unorthodox economic indicators shows a U.S. economy that is growing, but at a very slow pace and with a notable sense of social unease.  On the plus side, used car prices are defying all expectations by remaining robust – that helps trade-in values for new car purchases.  Dealer inventories of new cars are also in good shape.  Food stamp program participation is trending lower, although +44 million Americans (14% of the total population) still need government assistance to eat.  On the cautionary side of the coin, large pickup truck sales have turned negative – a proxy for small business confidence in a range of industries.  Consumer spending per day is declining, and our Bacon Cheeseburger Index is still flashing a deflationary warning.  Lastly, the FBI reports that there have been 11.7 million background checks for firearm sales through May.  At this rate, total year sales could reach 28 million, versus 8-9 million before the Financial Crisis.

We’ve been doing these “Off the Grid” indicator reports for years, and the most common question we get about them is “Why”?  As in “Why do we care about data points that policymakers don’t talk about?”   And “Why does any of this matter?”

Now we have an example of why: Brexit.  To look at the standard economic talking points, the British people should have been happy to go with the status quo and “Remain”.  Consider these customary measures of employment, inflation, output, and well-being:

On the plus side of the ledger:

  • The auto industry is a large employer of American workers who do not have a college degree. This cohort has had a tough economic time since before the Financial Crisis, and auto industry jobs pay well.  Keeping auto assembly plants running at stable line rates (and avoiding even temporary layoffs) is therefore important to this often overlooked cohort.
  • Currently, dealer inventories of cars and trucks are in good shape at 59 days supply.  The ideal number is 60.  This means as long as light vehicle demand remains constant, automakers can keep to their Q2 and Q3 build schedules.
  • Used car prices remain surprisingly robust. Auto auction company Manheim publishes an index of used vehicle values, and the most recent data shows prices remain at 2011 levels.  That’s a positive for new car and truck demand, since potential buyers usually have a vehicle to trade in at the dealer or sell privately.  The better the value of that car or truck, the more likely the consumer will be able to afford a new vehicle.
  • Fewer people are Googling “I want to sell my kidney”. No joke – this has been a top 3 autofill for Google when you enter “I want to sell my” for the last 2 years.  It has been replaced with “Furniture”.
  • Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka food stamps) is slowly declining. The most current roster has 44.3 million Americans in the program, down from 45.6 million a year ago. It is hard to say how much of this is better economic conditions versus reductions in coverage (childless single people have become illegible for the program in some states).  Worth noting: even at 44 million people, that is still 14% of the entire US population.  Before the Financial Crisis, there were less than 25 million in the program.

And some points of concern:

  • Large pickup truck sales are down year-over-year. This is one of our favorite indicators of small business growth in “Real America” (i.e. not coding the latest food delivery or dating app).  May sales were down 3.1% from last year, one of the worst comparisons since mid 2011.
  • Gallup’s consumer survey of daily spending patterns shows the average American spending $93/day in out of pocket expense, up from $91/day last year but lower than the $98/day of 2014.
  • People are buying more precious metals than mutual funds. The six month rolling averages of U.S. Mint sales of gold and silver bullion coins are: $85 million (Silver) and $65 million (Gold). Both are higher than a year ago.  By contrast, US mutual funds have seen a total of $31 billion in redemptions this year.
  • Our Bacon Cheeseburger Index – an equal weighted measure of the CPI inputs for bacon, ground beef and cheese – is still in deflationary territory for the second consecutive quarter at -2.5%. Don’t laugh – this measure of real world inflation (and therefore one that informs consumer expectations) was flashing a warning sign long before Chair Yellen and the Fed publicly revised their long term growth forecasts lower earlier this month.

We’ll close on one point that isn’t so much economic as social – the number of FBI background checks for firearm sales. This data is available monthly, and through May it shows that Americans have done the paperwork to make 11.7 million legal purchases of one gun or more. Taking that as a run rate for the year, 2016 could see 28 million firearm sales using the FBI check data as a proxy for transactions. That compares to a three year rolling average of 21.7 million.  Since 2007, the FBI has processed over 150 million firearm purchase background checks. That is one for every two Americans.

This is obviously a hot topic issue in a presidential election year, and we have no desire to touch this particular third rail of American politics.  From an economic and social standpoint, however, we think it is important to understand the numbers behind the debate. Before the Financial Crisis, the FBI typically processed 8-10 million checks per year. This year, that number might be 3x higher. That is a lot of guns.

What's The Car Preference Of Millennials? Bentley - Of Course

As many millennials have resorted to living with their parents in order to save on expenses, it turns out that "the other half" are out driving luxury cars.

Millennials (described as ages 19-34) who aren't living at home are are choosing premium cars and SUVs as their ride of choice ABC News reports. Bentley, the luxury British automaker first noticed the shift a few years ago as millennials starting leasing and financing vehicles such as the Continental GT in 2013, and now millennials account for a stunning 8% of Bentley sales the company said.

"Millennials represent an increasingly important customer base. They are the largest potential customer group today, and their influence is greater than simply the money they have to spend. We believe that this generation's approach to life and social issues will have more impact than merely their money." said James Pillar, Bentley's head of marketing. For Bentley, we're sure money spent buying their cars is the top ranked impact that millennials will have.

Manhattan Motorcars in New York City has sold 33 new Bentleys so far this year, eight of which were sold to millennials the dealership said.

"Millennials are looking to set themselves apart. They want to be catered to, and they want a unique experience. They want to make a statement." said Danielle Weinstein, a salesperson with Manhattan Motorcars. Weinstein posts Bentley videos on a YouTube channel she set up to connect with millennials who have the cash to splurge on a luxury car (the average lease is about $2,400 a month). "Millennials are drawn to social media advertising. They come into the dealership to network. I know social media attracts millennials." Weinstein added.

AutoTrader.com conducted a study of millennial car buyers and shoppers in 2013 and found that 32% of millennials said they "like to impress people with their lifestyle", and 40% "like to show off their taste." In addition, millennials said owning the "best brand" is important to them.

Perfect, young and materialistic - if these millennial Bentley drivers aren't already employed by a Wall Street firm, we suggest they immediately apply.

The luxury car of choice isn't just Bentley however, as Audi, Jaguar and Land Rover have all acknowledged an uptick in Millennial business.

"We've seen a 23% increase in millennials coming to the brand in the past two years," said Loren Angelo, Audi's USA director of marketing.

Kim McCullough, the company's vice president of marketing, said "Land Rover buyers are the youngest buyers of luxury SUVs, with half being between the ages of 20-48. With the recent addition of the Jaguar F-PACE and XE, preorders for those models reflect a younger buyer."

Millennials are choosing to primarily lease instead of buy according to Karl Brauer, a director at Kelley Blue Book. "Millennials are not interested in the pure buying model, and a lot of them don't want to buy a car for the long term. Leasing also makes owning a car more affordable," adding that "they have to buy cars now. They've reached that life stage. They've got a wife and kids." - which apparently means one has to immediately go purchase a Bentley.

* * *

In summary, much like the rest of America and everywhere else around the world, wealth inequality is alive and well within the millennial generation especially. Either you're living with your parents in order to save on rent, or you're driving a Bentley - how can any of this end badly?

Defending your liberty with a rifle.

 

"When governments fear the people, there is liberty.  When the people fear the government, there is tyranny."

-Author unknown, but darn sure historically accurate.

 

So, many of you probably read James Traub's article this week.  It seems to have caused quite a stir.

'Elites' Called To Arms: "It's Time To Rise Up Against The Ignorant Masses

I couldn't help but read it in context with my earlier article, hedgeless_horseman's Revolutionary Call to Arms.  I hope that many of you read my article and already have started to proceed through the 20 steps in order.  

However, if you are a veteren or active duty military, I invited you to skip to items 15-18, in my article, Never forget? Most veterans don't give a shit about America's perpetual warfare.

15.  Research your two senators and one congressman at https://www.opensecrets.org/ Make a list of their 10 biggest donors, and send the list to "your representative" in an email or letter.

16.  Read War is a Racket, by Major General Smedley D. Butler.

17.  Read On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman.

18.  Watch the online video of the TED Talk, A radical experiment in empathy, by Sam Richards.

I certainly don't see myself as "leadership" per Traub's use of the term, but I do value truth, and do try to love my neighbor as I love myself.    To that end, I will continue to try to "un-delude the ignorant" (especially myself) with more of what Traub calls, "reason, expertise, and the lessons of history."  Speaking of the lessons of history, especially in relation to Items 11-12 of my Revolutionary Call to Arms, I would like to reflect for a moment on this passage from the Declaration of Independence before getting to expertice and reason.

"WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness--That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed."

Is that “elitist”?  "All men created equal..."  Hardly.  

Now, the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Is that “elitist”?  "...the right of the people [ignorant masses] to keep and bear Arms..."  It sounds rather egalitarian to me, and it is plain to understand why the elites don't care much for the Second Amendment.

Sorry to jump around so much, but what I am trying to get to, painfully so, is this.  Standing armies are controlled by the governments, which are now so obvioulsy controlled by the elite, and are very much a force of tyranny.  You see, local militias are controlled by The People, not the government, and are indeed, "necessary to the security of a free State."  I understand that many of our nation's founders agree with me on these points.  

To quote the author of #16 on my Revolutionary Call to Arms:

I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

 

Major General Smedley Butler, USMC, 

Two-Time Congressional Medal of Honor Winner

Author of, War is a Racket!

So, if you have completed my Revolutionary Call to Arms, agree with Major General Butler, agree with the Second Amendment, agree with Frédéric Bastiat's ideas in his book, The Law, understand the costs and risks illustrated by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, and nonetheless you still choose to be ready, willing, and able to secure a free state for yourself and loved ones, then I give you free of charge and with much brotherly love, hedgeless_horseman's E-Z Internet Guide For The Ignorant And De-Luded ZeroHedge Reader With Too Much Money And Very Little Patience That Wants To Secure a Free State and Become A Rifleman Without Joining the US Military.

Yes! It is another hedgeless_horseman gun article! 

I have covered defending your life with a pistol.  

I have covered defending your property with a shotgun. 

Now, I cover defending your liberty with a rifle.

Before handling a firearm, it is most important for EVERYONE in the household to know, understand, and follow these four safety rules:

1) Treat all weapons as if they are loaded.

2) Do not point the weapon at anyone or anything that you do not want to shoot, kill, or destroy.

3) Do not put your finger on the trigger until you have 1) target, 2) sights on target, and 3) perception that either A) "serious bodily injury or death is imminent for myself or another person," or B) firing range is hot and training drill is live. 

4) Be aware of, and take responsibility for, all bystanders that may be behind or near the target.

I add a fifth rule, to the common four, which is to not be under the influence of any mind-altering chemical such as alcohol or dope when handling a firearm.

I absolutely refuse to be within a mile of anyone that I see not following these rules, which is why I generally avoid public gun ranges, and suggest that you shoot at a nice, lonely, high, dirt hill, way out in the boonies, or pay for a membership at a private tactical range that screens all members and guests and has at least 270 degree bays.

First, purchase an under the bed long-gun safe, like this, for security and rapid access.

Next, and I cannot stress this point enough, get instruction from an experienced professional.  Specifically, take at least two weekends of tactical rifle training.   It does not matter whether you are a 10-year veteran of law enforcement, a Marine with two tours in the sandbox, or both, you will still learn much and improve significantly with good instruction.   Taking the state's required, "course," to test for a concealed handgun license (CHL) is not even close to adequate instruction.  Usually, all the CHL course does is inform you of the laws regarding concealed carry, and assign you with some basic level of proficiency that can be used against you in court.

A good instructor will teach you the safety rules and how to safely and correctly manipulate your rifle, including operating the safety, loading, unloading, checking if loaded, reloading, managing stoppages, managing squibs, slinging, carrying, shouldering, firing, and possibly even field stripping your rifle. It is likley that you will also learn how to hit your target, and be able to do so relatively quickly.  It takes much more practice for you to get the hits when you are under stress, shooting a moving target, lying in the mud, hiding behind cover, it is dark, it is cold and raining, and you are being shot at. 

Nobody said it is easy being a Minuteman. It is hard, but also rewarding and fun.

Now, on to selecting your rifle and begining to outfit your person as a rifleman.

From ol' muzzle loaders where powder and ball are rammed down the barrel with a rod, to today's breach-loaded, detachable-magazine, semi-automatic and select-fire rifles, there are many mechanisms for loading, firing, and reloading a rifle.  For hunting deer, elk, and antelope I love and adore my pre-64 Winchester Model 70 Featherweight bolt action rifle in .308 Win.  Even with my old and heavy Redfield Widefield 4x scope she is light enough to pack up and down mountain ranges above 10,000 feet, while packing the hind quarter of a bull elk.  Military and police snipers often use bolt actions because they are very accurate, as do olympic shooters for the same reason.  On a good day with my bolt rifle, I can still one-hole 3 shots at 100m, clover leaf up to about 200m, and get a kill shot on a pronghorn well past 500m.  However, if there are multiple targets that might be as close to me as 1 meter, and which are shooting back at me (unlike a pronghorn), then I definetly want a detachable-magazine and semi-automatic rifle with which I can fire a large amount of lead downrange very quickly.  If, per chance, you live in a truly free nation where your right to bear arms has not been infringed, then, by all means, consider a select-fire version with both semi-automatic and full-automatic (or 3-shot burst) capability.  Everyone should know and abide by their local gun laws, no matter how Draconian, illogical, and unconstitutional they may be.  These laws are for your protection/sarc.  I will leave the pump action for shotguns, and the lever action in my saddle scabbard and for SASS (Life Member).

Next, lets talk about caliber, which is the size of the ammunition.  Plagerizing Wikipedia, a battle rifle is a military service rifle that fires a full-power rifle cartridge such as 7.62×51mm NATO or 7.62×54mmR. Compared to assault rifles and their intermediate cartridges, the higher-caliber rounds provide greater power and range, though they render magazine capacity low and produce strong recoil, making them less than ideal for fully automatic fire.  And the rifles and ammunition are heavy to carry, especially for older folks that are out of shape. Here are three examples:

M14 or new M1A 

FN FAL or new clone 

HK-91 or new clone 

Assault rifles are lighter and less powerful than a battle rifle.  The two most common in the world are the Russian AK-47 (7.62x39) and the American M16 (5.56mm / .223). These Cold War era rifles have faced each other in conflicts since the early 1960s and remain the subject of countless comparisons and endless internet debate.  I own versions of both rifles, and my general assessment is that AKs are heavier and less accurate because they are usually mass produced with heavy steel parts (rolled and stamped) by vodka-soaked commies working on cold-dark assembly lines.  Whereas M16s are lighter because they are made with molded plastic and precision machined aluminum by beer-breathed rednecks working on CAD computers and expensive CNC machines, and less reliable because they are designed to shit where they eat (gas operated).

It is important to note that both the AK-47 and M16 were originally designed as select-fire rifles by two brilliant men, respectively, Mikhail Kalashnikov and Eugene Stoner.  This means they are intended to have both semi-automatic and full-automatic capability.  Full auto means that when the trigger is pulled the rifle keeps firing at a high rate until the trigger is released, or the ammo runs out (very quickly), where semi-auto fires only once per trigger pull.  

In my best Boris Alotovkrap accent: In Soviet Amerika, idiot politician has force genius design basterdized, because politboro decide only supreme government employees can be trusted to possess full-auto capability to defend Motherland (with few very expensive and very burdensome fascist exceptions of course).

We are told this is not tyranny, nor does it infringe on our natural right to bear arms.

Clearly...

"All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others."

 

-Orwell's Animal Farm

Again, I beg of you to please...

11.  Read The Law, by Frédéric Bastiat.

12.  Make a list of your natural rights.

13.  Read The Constitution of the United States and The Bill of Rights.

14.  Read Animal Farm, by George Orwell.

 

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-01-06/hedgelesshorsemans-revolutionar...s

It is important to understand that the civilian version of the M-16 assault rifles, the AR-15 and short barreled version designated M-4, are different and less capable than the original design in use by the tax-payer-funded government employees. Also, both the AK and AR have experienced subsequent redesigns to gerry rig other calibers, such as the AK-74 and AR-10, with less than superior results.

Another important fact to consider is that battle rifles and their ammunition are much heavier than assault rifles.  When you add a magnified optic and an additional 60 to 260 rounds of ammunition, this weight difference really adds up, especially since very few rifle battles are fought entirley from the sitting position, with a bench rest, in the shade, at the rifle range, which you drove to in your air conditioned truck. 

For example:

6.9 lbs for M4 w/ 30 rounds 

10.5 lbs for AK-47 w/ 30 rounds

10.7 lbs for M1A w/ 20 rounds

Remember my mantra for the GBH pack/Bug-Out-Bag:

In general, when given a choice, always choose the lighter weight and/or more expensive option.  Lighter weight is fast.  Lighter weight uses much less energy.

 

http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2012-19-10/fear-we-are-returning-ti...

 

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-10/elevated-freeways-are-perfect-k...

I will say that I still employ the very light and highly reliable FN FiveseveN and PS90 as mentioned in those articles.  They are great Personal Defense Weapons (PDW), and I trust my life to them, but I wouldn't want to use a PDW as a rifleman fighting for my liberty.

The good news is that there are newer rifles that blend the reliability of the AK's gas piston with the accuracy and lighter weight of the AR, and do so in a design that was meant to accomodate either 5.56 or 7.62 from its inception. The downside is that these new rifles are more expensive.  So?  Sell some stocks (preferably ALLY, CACC, and the Danish banks) and fund the fun.  I am no tax lawyer, thank the Lord, but I think that security is a legitimate business expense.  No?

Here are my three favorite traditional style rifles that meet all of my requirements.  All are top shelf and will make you the envy of everyone down at The Club.  Choose the 5.56 option unless you are a very fit BAMF, then maybe consider the heavier 7.62, especially if you live out west with wide open spaces.

Sig Sauer 516/716 Patrol 

http://www.sigsauer.com/CatalogProductList/rifles-sig516.aspx  

http://www.sigsauer.com/CatalogProductList/rifles-sig716.aspx

 

H&K MR556A1/MR762A1

http://hk-usa.com/product/rifles/

 

FN SCAR 16S/Light 5.56/ 17S/Heavy 7.62

https://www.fnamerica.com/products/tactical/scar-series/scar-16/

https://www.fnamerica.com/products/tactical/scar-series/scar-17/

 

Sadly, yes, they are all European rifles.  Maybe someone will make a good argument for a high quality American-made piston rifle in the comments section below, but the US Military sure does like my three European choices.

Regarding barrel length, get the standard version, and avoid the Federal tax and registration of the shorter barrels.  It is good to be able to buy and sell a rifle at garage sales without reporting it to Big Brother.  Buy a Sig P16 pistol, in addition to the 16" carbine, if you feel you must have a short barrel too.  

If you don't want to hold up a long and heavy barrel, or are small in stature, or a woman, or want to have the same rifle as your wife and kids, like I do, then consider these even more recent designs that are highly compact gas-piston bullpups, with shorter total lengths and ergonomics similiar to the PS90, but in heavier and more powerful calibers.  The Tavor is Israel's current military service rifle, and this newer version of the civilian model is supposed to be even better than the first.  I have generally not liked Kel-Tec products (probably a victim of the fallacy that price adds value), but after some familiarization I ordered some of these new .308 bullpups, in the hope that they may someday replace my beloved FNs.  We will see.  It appears the Tavor will only be available in the 5.56 and 9mm. 

Tavor X95 5.56

https://iwi.us/Law-Enforcement/Firearms/X95.aspx

 

Kel-Tec RDB 5.56 / RFB 7.62

http://www.keltecweapons.com/our-guns/pistol/rdb

http://www.keltecweapons.com/our-guns/rifle/rfb

 

A quick sidebar about color and camoflauge on a rifle.  The human eye is very good at picking out a black rifle at a distance.  A man carrying a long black object just screams, "rifle," or at least it does to my brain. I like to say that in a fire fight, the guy with the biggest and blackest rifle gets shot first.  I believe that Simo Häyhä would agree.  This is why I spray paint my very expensive rifles and optics in banded patterns of flat tan, brown, and/or green Krylon paint.  You may choose to purchase your rifle from the factory in those colors.  Functional dark earth (FDE) brown or Desert Tan are better for dry areas such as the western USA.  Olive drab (OD) green is better for wooded areas such as the Eastern USA.  Grey is gaining in popularity for urban environments.  And of course white is best if, like The White Death Simo Häyhä, you find yourself fighting in the snow. 

If your spouse is pissed about how much you are spending on a rifle, don't mention the magnified optic and tritium iron sights you are going to put on it. A rifle is only as good as the sights, especially if you are over 30 years old.  In my opinion, for our purpose here in this article, you simply cannot beat a Trijicon ACOG (no batteries, good glass, good reticle design, and absolutley bomb proof) in combination with a set of 45 degree offset Dueck Defense RTS Night Sights.      

TA31F: Trijicon 4x32 ACOG, Dual Illuminated Red Chevron .223 Ballistic Reticle w/ TA51 Flattop Mount 

...or this one for the 7.62/.308 rifles...

TA11E: Trijicon ACOG 3.5x35 Scope, Dual Illuminated Red Chevron BAC .308 Flattop Reticle w/ TA51 Mount

...and a set of these...

Dueck Defense 45 degree Rapid Transition Sight with Trijicon Night Sights

 

To carry your rifle get an Urban Sentry Hybrid Sling in matching Coyote, Olive Drab, or Grey 

To carry additional magazines, get a Blue Force TenSpeed chest rig in matching Coyote, Olive Drab, or Grey

To protect your sight and hearing get and wear good eye and ear protection, ear muffs, not ear plugs.  I like the Wiley-X and Smith shooting glasses.

You can get bulk ammo online at Ammunition To Go.  You will want to start with at least 2,000 rounds and build from there, as you can easily shoot more than 500 rounds in a single weekend of training. 

A range card is not necessary, because both the ACOG and RTS both have built-in ranging capability.

You will want to have a cleaning kit something like this. 

Order at least 20 factory magazines to start, a couple of spare firing pins, and a spring set.

I am not a fan of supressors, because of the registration requirement and the extra weight.  Get one if you feel that you must, but put it in the name of a gun trust.  I hear that the waiting period is currently a few months.

After you take some tactical rifle classes, start shooting your rifle more, gain some proficiency, and begin to read, learn, and think more about fire fights, you will likley learn that there is a trade off between the operational security of a single rifleman and the far greater effectiveness of a fire team.  To that end, I will end the article with a bit about modern day militias exerpted from the website of one here in Texas:

 

http://texasmilitia.info/

 

As an all volunteer force the militia differs from the military. All of our Texas Militia units are autonomous. No militia unit commands any other militia unit and we do not need a state militia commander or a centralized militia command which could be taken out or compromised. All patriots are encouraged to start at least a 3 man fire team in their neighborhood or area and build up from there.

 

It is good if you have had some military training but realize that militia tactics differ from military tactics.The goals of military tactics are to rapidly take and then hold ground while incurring acceptable losses. The militia has no need to rapidly take ground and no need to hold ground. Rather than incur acceptable losses the militia must minimize losses. The military has body armor, medevac, doctors, and hospitals, while the militia has no medevac, no doctors, no hospitals, and few have body armor. The military has re-supply and nearly all the ammo they want while militia resources are limited and our only re-supply would be what we could take from the invaders. The militia trains to fight an extended war of hit and run attrition until the invaders lose the will to fight. The militia teaches guerrilla warfare modified military tactics not military sweep through with acceptable losses tactics.

 

Our militia training is free of charge. Our training is focused on small unit light infantry combat tactics. 

 

We will practice ambushes, counter-ambushes, and patrolling. We will also have class room type training so bring a note book and a pencil too. Our force on force small unit light infantry battle training with blanks will be conducted as combat simulations to learn from not as games.

 

Your first mistake on a battlefield could be your last mistake. We all need to train and we need to train often. Most men are already proficient with a rifle. What you can learn training with us are small unit light infantry combat tactics, how to fight as a team, the art of fire and maneuver, and how to train a local defense group to fight as a team.

 

As it says on New Hampshire license plates, LIVE FREE OF DIE.  Ironic, don't you think, considering the wide spread use of license plate readers by the government that requires licenses to travel freely.

Si vis pacem, para bellum, God bless the United States of America, and God bless each of you dear readers.

h_h

The Militarization Of The US Goes Beyond Police Departments"

Originally posted at TelesurTV.net,

Nonmilitary federal agencies have spent almost US$1.5 billion on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment.

 

A new report by a taxpayer watchdog group reveals that the growing militarization in the United States goes beyond police departments by showing how nonmilitary federal agencies are arming themselves like military units.

The report “The Militarization of America” examines government expenditures by 67 federal agencies between 2006 and 2014 and found that they spent US$1.48 billion stockpiling guns, ammunition and other military-style equipment.

“The recent growth of the federal arsenal begs the questions: Just who are the feds planning to battle?” American Tranparency’s Adam Andrzejewski, the author of the report, recently wrote in Forbes.

The report states that “administrative agencies including the Food and Drug Administration, Small Business Administration, Smithsonian Institution, Social Security Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Mint, Department of Education, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and many other agencies purchased guns, ammo, and military-style equipment.”

For example, the Internal Revenue Service spent nearly US$11 million arming itself, while the Environmental Protection Agency spent US$3.1 million.

The report also states: “The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service spent US$4.77 million purchasing shotguns, .308 caliber rifles, night vision goggles, propane cannons, liquid explosives, pyro supplies, buckshot, LP gas cannons, drones, remote controlled helicopters, thermal cameras, military waterproof thermal infrared scopes, and more.”

“As the Obama administration and its allies are pushing hard for an assault weapons ban on private citizens, taxpayers are asking why IRS agents need AR-15s,” wrote report author Andrzejewski. “After grabbing legal power, federal bureaucrats are amassing firepower. It’s time to scale back the federal arsenal.”

*  *  *

Full report below:

 

Oversight TheMilitarizationOfAmerica 06102016

 

*  *  *

Are they arming themselves against terrorists or you?

Judicial Watch Demands DOJ Inspector General Probe Into "Scandalous" Lynch-Clinton Meeting

The political scandal of the day was the news that on Monday evening (coincidentally just before the Benghazi report was released), Bill Clinton and US Attorney General Loretta Lynch just happened to meet on the tarmac at a Phoenix airport - totally unplanned of course. Clinton saw the attorney general and wanted to say hello, so Clinton boarded Lynch's plane to talk for a bit. Sure, just a quick chat about the weather, his putting stroke, anything except oh, say, an update on what was about to be released on Benghazi, and especially not an update on the ongoing FBI investigation into Hillary.

"Our conversation was a great deal about his grandchildren. It was primarily social and about our travels. He mentioned the golf he played in Phoenix, and he mentioned travels he'd had in West Virginia. There was no discussion of any matter pending for the department or any matter pending for any other body. There was no discussion of Benghazi, no discussion of the State Department emails, by way of example" Lynch told reporters.

 

While Lynch claims it was a completely random encounter with Hillary Clinton's husband, even Barack Obama's former advisor David Axelrod admitted that the meeting created "bad optics"

I take @LorettaLynch & @billclinton at their word that their convo in Phoenix didn't touch on probe. But foolish to create such optics.

— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) June 30, 2016

Sensing an opportunity to drive home a point about the Clintons' lack of judgment, Trump quickly pounced on the meeting.

"It is an amazing thing," Trump said during an interview on the Mike Gallagher Show, noting the pair met on an airplane at the Phoenix airport. "It was really a sneak. It was something they didn't want publicized, as I understand it," Trump said, regarding the meeting Monday night.  "I think it's so terrible; I think it's so horrible. I think it's one of the big stories of this week, of this month, of this year," Trump continued.

"How bad a judgment is it for him or for her to do this? Who would do this?” Trump asked.

it won't end there. Moments ago, conservative watchdog organization Judicial Watch today requested that the DOJ's Office of the Inspector General investigate the meeting yesterday between Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch:

Attorney General Loretta Lynch met privately with former President William J. Clinton on board a parked private plane on the west side of Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona on June 29, 2016, according to multiple press reports.

 

President Clinton is the spouse of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former Secretary of State, who is purportedly the subject of a national security crime investigation pertaining to the mishandling of national defense information processed by Mrs. Clinton’s personal server during her tenure as secretary.

 

Additionally, there are press reports that a federal public corruption investigation is on-going concerning conflicts of interest and abuse of official government office involving the financial “commitments” to the Clinton Foundation, speaking fees for President Clinton and former Secretary Clinton’s official acts. President Clinton may be a target of that investigation.

 

Attorney General Lynch’s meeting with President Clinton creates the appearance of a violation of law, ethical standards and good judgment. Attorney General Lynch’s decision to breach the well-defined ethical standards of the Department of Justice and the American legal profession is an outrageous abuse of the public’s trust. Her conduct and statements undermine confidence in her ability to objectively investigate and prosecute possible violations of law associated with President Clinton and Secretary Clinton. This incident undermines the public’s faith in the fair administration of justice.

 

Simply stated, Attorney General Lynch’s June 29, 2016 meeting with former President Clinton creates the broad public impression that “the fix is in.”

 

Judicial Watch requests your immediate and thorough investigation of the facts, circumstances, and appearances of ethical, regulatory and legal violations by Attorney General Lynch in connection with her meeting with former President William J. Clinton – and that you report your findings and recommendations to the American public.

Judicial Watch cites in its complaint 18 USC §§ 202 – 209; Executive Order 12674 on Principles of Ethical Conduct as amended by EO 12731; Uniform Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, 5 CFR Part 2635; Department of Justice regulations, 5 CFR Part 3801; Department of Justice regulations, 28 CFR Part 45; Executive branch standards of conduct, 5 USC § 735; and, United States Department of Justice Ethics Handbook for On and Off-Duty Conduct, 14 Principles for Ethical Conduct:

“14. Employees shall endeavor to avoid any actions creating the appearance that they are violating the law or the ethical standards set forth in this part. Whether particular circumstances create an appearance that the law or these standards have been violated shall be determined from the perspective of a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts.”

 

5 C.F.R 2635.101 (b)

 

“An employee shall endeavor to avoid any actions creating the appearance that the employee is violating the law or the ethical standards set forth in this part.”

 

5 CFR 2635.101(b)(14)

As Judicial Watch concludes: “Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s meeting with Bill Clinton severely undermined the already low public confidence in her agency’s criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “In addition to this IG investigation, Judicial Watch has already sent Freedom of Information Act requests about this scandalous meeting.”

Of course, even if the IG does grant the Judicial Watch request, following today's news that the state department is seeking a 27 month delay for the release of Clinton Foundation emails, we would expect that this probe would be concluded some time in November of 2024, just as Hillary is handing over the dynastic scepter to Chelsea.

Source

Could The IRS Empty Your Bank Account?

Submitted by Robert Everett Johnson & Nick Sibilla via Reason.com,

UPDATE: Yesterday, the federal government announced that it will return $29,500 seized from Maryland dairy farmer Randy Sowers. "This is exactly what we wanted," said Sowers in press release from the Institute for Justice, the public interest law firm that worked with him on the case. "I hope they give other people's money back. And beyond that I just hope they quit taking people's money."

When the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) came to visit Randy Sowers, it had already seized his entire bank account—over $60,000. The IRS agents, two clean-cut types in dark blue jackets, came unannounced to the dairy farm, South Mountain Creamery, that Randy and his wife have run for more than 30 years.

The agents began asking Sowers a series of strange questions: Why did he deposit cash at the bank? Why were so many of his cash deposits in amounts under $10,000? Did he know that cash deposits over $10,000 were reported to the federal government?

Sowers answered the questions as best he could. The farm deposited cash because it sold milk at farmers markets. A bank teller had told them that deposits over $10,000 required additional paperwork, but the Sowers had no idea what that paperwork consisted of. They limited the size of their deposits only because they thought it made life easier for the bank workers. The agents nodded, seemingly satisfied. They said they did not believe he was a criminal. Nonetheless, they finally told him, his bank account had been seized.

Unbeknownst to him, Sowers' bank deposits had landed him at the intersection of a number of disturbing trends in American law: draconian civil forfeiture, the overcriminalization of everyday life, and the government's increasing hostility to cash as a medium of financial exchange.

Guilty Money

Like hundreds of other Americans, Sowers was targeted because he had run afoul of a sprawling government surveillance program aimed at the nation's financial system. Federal law requires banks to report all cash transactions over $10,000 to the federal government. Federal law also makes it a crime, called structuring, for bank customers to deposit or withdraw cash in amounts under $10,000 in order to avoid that reporting requirement.

IRS agents across the country, often in cooperation with state and local law enforcement, monitor banking activity for frequent sub-$10,000 cash transactions. The IRS can then use civil forfeiture to seize entire bank accounts that it believes were involved in "structured" transactions.

Because these cases are brought against the property in question—the Sowers' case was captioned United States v. $62,936.04 in U.S. Currency—protections that govern criminal proceedings do not apply. Owners of "guilty" property have no right to counsel. Without ever having to secure a criminal conviction (or even file charges), the federal government is excused from its obligation to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Officials can seize property based on mere suspicion of a crime and effectively force property owners to prove their own innocence to get it back.

Moreover, when the IRS takes property using civil forfeiture, that property goes into a special federal fund, the Treasury Forfeiture Fund, which allows the IRS to fund its law enforcement activities. That arrangement provides an incentive for the IRS to seize as much property as possible, even when the property owner may have done nothing wrong. In 2014, the net position for the fund (that is, the amount retained after paying obligations) was $1.9 billion, a staggering rise from $69 million in 1993, the year after the fund was created.

In theory, this system is supposed to root out criminals seeking to hide their activities from the government. In practice, its targets are all too often small-business owners guilty of nothing more than doing business in cash.

Many of these stories begin the same way as Sowers': A bank teller, unhappy at having to fill out government paperwork, suggests to a customer that life would be easier if he kept his deposits under $10,000. Neither the teller nor the customer has any idea that evading that paperwork is a federal crime.

Other business owners have similarly innocent reasons for keeping cash deposits under $10,000. For example, the insurance policy for Michigan grocery store owner Terry Dekho only covered cash up to $10,000. Other businesses, such as Mark Zaniewski's gas station near Detroit, simply do not generate more than $10,000 in cash revenue in the time between bank deposits. The IRS seized the bank accounts for both businesses without even asking for an explanation for the pattern of sub-$10,000 deposits.

A 2015 Institute for Justice report found that between 2005 and 2012 the IRS seized more than $242 million for alleged structuring violations in over 2,500 cases. In at least a third of those cases, the IRS reported no suspected criminal activity apart from the mere act of depositing or withdrawing amounts under $10,000.

No More Secrets

This federal surveillance program traces its origins to the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970. For the first time, the federal government required banks to report cash transactions over $10,000. The law was explicit in its aims, stating that Congress believed these reports would have a "high degree of usefulness in criminal, tax, or regulatory investigations or proceedings."

Largely accepted today, the Bank Secrecy Act was controversial when adopted, narrowly surviving a vigorous legal challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the California Bankers Association, and several individual bank customers. A three-judge district court panel ruled against the law shortly after it was enacted, holding 2–1 that the "domestic reporting provisions" were "repugnant to the Fourth Amendment."

The U.S. Supreme Court reversed, upholding the law in its 1974 decision California Bankers Association v. Shultz. Writing for the majority, Justice William Rehnquist conceded that the act "might well surprise or even shock those who lived in an earlier era" but upheld the law as a necessary response to "the heavy utilization of our domestic banking system by the minions of organized crime."

In an acerbic dissent, Justice William Douglas argued that it was "sheer nonsense" to suggest that "all bank records of every citizen 'have a high degree of usefulness.'" "Suppose Congress passed a law requiring telephone companies to record and retain all telephone calls and make them available to any federal agency on request," he presciently suggested. "Would we hesitate even a moment before striking it down?"

Although the Bank Secrecy Act and its reporting requirements were considered constitutional, structuring was not yet an explicit crime. Until the mid-1980s, people could lawfully skirt federal bank reporting requirements by splitting up transactions to keep them under the $10,000 threshold. Even the Comptroller General conceded in a 1981 report to Congress that "the regulations were silent on the propriety of a customer's conducting multiple transactions to avoid reporting."

Absent explicit law prohibiting structuring, federal prosecutors devised convoluted legal arguments. In one case, a man who bought multiple checks that collectively topped $10,000 was charged and convicted under an aiding and abetting theory. Fortunately for him, the 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturned his conviction, citing "ambiguity" with the reporting law. "We cannot engage in unprincipled interpretation of the law, lest we foment lawlessness instead of compliance," the court unanimously ruled in its 1985 decision United States v. Anzalone. Other federal appellate courts soon followed the 1st Circuit's lead in rebuffing criminal liability for structuring.

Congress had other ideas. Partly to "negate the effect" of cases like Anzalone, Congress explicitly prohibited "structuring transactions to evade reporting requirements" as part of the omnibus Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. "The implicit message," one law review article noted, "is that no legitimate reason exists to keep large cash transactions secret."

A Moment of Sanity

In 1994, the Supreme Court tried to rein in structuring laws. This one, short-lived push for privacy began with some staggeringly bad luck during a night of gambling. Waldemar Ratzlaf and his wife, Loretta, were high rollers, with established credit lines at 15 different casinos in Nevada and New Jersey. On October 20, 1988, Waldemar managed to lose $160,000 playing blackjack at the High Sierra Casino in Reno. The casino gave the Ratzlafs one week to pay up.

True to their word, the Ratzlafs returned with cash to settle their debt. Since any transaction above $10,000 would have to be reported to the authorities, a casino official suggested that the casino could accept a cashier's check instead. The High Sierra even offered a limo and a casino employee to help Waldemar purchase checks, each for under $10,000 and all at separate banks.

One year later, a federal grand jury indicted Waldemar on "four counts of structuring currency transactions to evade reporting requirements." He was convicted and sentenced to 15 months imprisonment. Both a federal district court and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld his convictions.

Just when it seemed Waldemar's luck couldn't get any worse, the Supreme Court overturned his convictions in Ratzlaf v. United States. The Court was plainly concerned about the anti-structuring provision's potentially broad sweep. Contrary to the government's claim that "structuring is not the kind of activity that an ordinary person would engage in innocently," the Court observed that "currency structuring is not inevitably nefarious." The Court suggested that a small business owner might even reasonably structure cash transactions "to reduce the risk of an IRS audit."

These concerns led the Court to narrowly interpret the structuring statute. At the time, the law contained language requiring that defendants had "willfully" violated the law. For the Supreme Court, that requirement meant the government had to show "both 'knowledge of the reporting requirement' and a 'specific intent to commit the crime,' i.e., 'a purpose to disobey the law.'" In other words, ignorance of the law would be an excuse in a structuring case.

As a result, criminal structuring prosecutions plummeted. A 1995 Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology article reported that "since the Ratzlaf decision, not one defendant has been convicted for structuring currency transactions."

But Congress moved quickly to undo the Supreme Court decision. The Money Laundering Suppression Act eliminated the word "willfully" from the statute and clarified that it "requires only an intent to evade reporting requirements, not proof that the defendant knew that structuring was illegal." In September 1994, a mere eight months after the Supreme Court's decision, President Bill Clinton signed these changes into law.

Expanding Surveillance

Since Ratzlaf, the government has continued to ratchet up its data collection and enforcement efforts. More than 15 million currency transaction reports were filed in 2014, or over 41,000 every day. By comparison, in 1975, one year after the Supreme Court upheld the Bank Secrecy Act, a mere 3,418 such reports were filed.

Not surprisingly, those reports have helped law enforcement seize assets. Back in 2008, the Government Accountability Office surveyed local and state agencies that had access to currency transaction report data. More than half said the reports "identified assets that were previously unknown, including those that could be used for forfeiture action."

Today, the scale and scope of data collection under the Bank Secrecy Act has metastasized dramatically. According to a 2015 speech by Jennifer Shasky Calvery, the director of the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), data acquired under the Bank Secrecy Act "includes nearly 190 million records." FinCEN also has granted "more than 10,000 agents, analysts, and investigative personnel from over 350 unique agencies across the U.S. Government with direct access to the reporting," Calvery noted.

Yet amid this expanding federal dragnet, one aspect of the structuring law has remained static: the $10,000 reporting threshold. That figure was set in 1970 and has not changed since. Simply adjusting for inflation would mean it would easily top $60,000 in 2016.

As federal bank reporting laws have become more onerous, banks have begun to close accounts of businesses that make frequent deposits over $10,000. Jeff, Richard, and Mitchell Hirsch, three brothers on Long Island who own a convenience store distribution business, had three banks close their accounts in quick succession. To reduce the paperwork burdens for the banks, and hopefully avoid having their accounts closed in the future, their accountant advised them to keep deposits under $10,000. They did so, and in May 2012 the IRS seized their entire account—over $446,000. It took the Hirsch brothers almost three years of litigation to get that money back.

Stuck in Limbo

Despite its size and ubiquity, this government surveillance program operates outside the awareness of most ordinary Americans. Congress designed it that way: Federal law prohibits banks from informing customers that their transactions have been flagged and reported.

When a bank account is targeted for civil forfeiture, the property owner typically learns about it only after the contents have been seized. The IRS does not provide any prior notice or opportunity to offer an innocent explanation for a series of under-$10,000 cash transactions.

Courts instead approve seizures on the basis of one-sided affidavits submitted by law enforcement, frequently in sealed court proceedings. The affidavits are formulaic, containing long, boilerplate recitations describing the structuring laws and a table listing a series of under-$10,000 cash transactions. In Randy Sowers' case, the affidavit concluded that "cash was repeatedly deposited in amounts just below the [currency] reporting requirement threshold (i.e. between $8,000 and $10,000)" and that this bare pattern of deposits demonstrated "a concerted effort to keep cash deposits just below that amount."

After cash has been seized, property owners must wait a minimum of 120 days to get into court, and they must file two separate claims to preserve their right to their property. Even once the property owner is before a judge, litigation can stretch on for months, even years. The Institute for Justice report found that the average structuring case between 2005 and 2012 took almost a year to resolve, with the longest case taking more than six and a half years. Throughout that period, the property remains in possession of the government.

About a third of structuring forfeitures are resolved via "administrative" forfeitures that are not overseen or approved by a federal judge. In the case of North Carolina convenience store owner Ken Quran, for instance, a group of IRS agents and local police went directly to his store after seizing over $150,000 from his bank account, and demanded that Quran sign a form "voluntarily" agreeing to forfeit the seized funds. Intimidated, he agreed to sign. When he later took his case to a local lawyer, the lawyer advised him there would be no point in seeking to contest the forfeiture. "I feel like the United States government stole my money," Ken says. "I did nothing wrong."

Even where a judge is involved, the court's role is often little more than approving a settlement negotiated by federal prosecutors. Against the time and expense of litigation, the government typically offers property owners a tempting proposition: Settle with us, let us keep half of what we seized, and we will return half your money today. Business owners, struggling to keep their businesses running without needed funds, often have little choice but to agree.

Forced Settlement

After the IRS agents left his farm, Randy Sowers contacted a lawyer. His lawyer, in turn, reached out to the responsible federal prosecutor, Stefan Cassella, who explained right off the bat that the case would be resolved by negotiation. Both sides would propose a number below the total sum seized by the government, and the parties would then agree on a forfeiture amount.

This approach was no accident. Justice Department policies expressly state that "settlements to forfeit property are encouraged."

The Sowers needed the seized money to buy supplies for that year's crops. Their bank had closed the farm's account, and Randy was left explaining to his business partners why scheduled transactions were not going through. Meanwhile, fighting the case could easily end up costing more in legal bills than the amount of money that had been seized.

Sowers also had to consider the consequences if he refused the settlement. The same day that the government seized his account, it served him with a grand jury subpoena, raising the possibility that he could be charged criminally for structuring—and face up to five years in prison. The government's proposed settlement confirmed this implicit threat: In exchange for Sowers giving up his money, the government would agree not to pursue criminal charges.

Frustrated, he gave an interview to the Baltimore City Paper explaining that "we had no idea there was supposedly a law against" making small cash deposits. "Now we just feel like putting [our cash] in a can somewhere," he added.

Amid the settlement negotiations, Sowers' words became a sticking point. Cassella demanded he agree to less favorable terms than the prosecutor had offered in a similar case. When Randy's lawyers asked for an explanation, he wrote in an email that the other property owner "did not give an interview to the press."

Lacking any realistic route to fight the government, in May 2012, three months after the government seized his money, Sowers signed an agreement to forfeit $29,500.

'They Need to Give It Back'

Not long after Sowers agreed to settle, the mainstream media began scrutinizing structuring more, causing the government to start a hasty retreat. A decisive turn appeared to come in October 2014, when the IRS announced a new policy change. Absent proof that the property owner was engaging in some other criminal activity, it would no longer pursue "legal source" structuring cases.

The IRS announced this shift when The New York Times ran a front-page investigation into two structuring cases litigated by the Institute for Justice on behalf of the Hirsch brothers from Long Island and Carole Hinders, who ran a Mexican restaurant in rural Iowa. Five months later, the Justice Department announced a similar shift "restricting civil or criminal forfeiture seizures for structuring until after a defendant has been criminally charged or has been found to have engaged in additional criminal activity."

Yet those policy changes are purely voluntary. Since structuring laws still remain on the books, a future administration could easily reverse course and start seizing Americans' hard-earned money again. Moreover, while the shifts may prevent these types of cases from arising in the future—assuming the new policy is faithfully applied—they do nothing for the victims whose money was seized before the guidelines changed.

Between 2007 and 2013 alone, the IRS seized over $43 million from over 600 property owners in cases involving no allegations of wrongdoing apart from the mere act of evading bank reporting requirements. For those individuals, the government's policy change came too late.

Hoping to establish a precedent that other property owners could follow, the Institute for Justice in July 2015 filed petitions with the government on behalf of Ken Quran and Randy Sowers, seeking the return of their confiscated cash.

A bipartisan coalition in Congress has lined up behind that effort. In August 2015, members of the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew urging the agency to "return funds as appropriate in cases that do not meet the IRS's current policy that the funds must have come from an illegal source."

Fortunately for Quran, in February 2016 the agency agreed to return the entire $153,000 that it had unjustly seized.

Sowers still hasn't heard an answer to his petition. The federal government has never explained why, if it is willing to return the money that it seized from Quran under the structuring laws, it is not willing to do the same for him.

"I'm just waiting for the government to do the right thing," he says. "Not just for me, but for everyone in this same situation. The government shouldn't have taken our money, and they need to give it back."

This Is How Venezuelan Truckers Avoid Looters

You know it's bad in the socialist utopia when...

Venezuelan trucks - afraid of looting - now carry "Not Transporting Food" signs...

h/t @AKurmanaev

Who can blame them - no one wants the money anymore, it's worthless - as many food trucks now require armed guards to keep them safe...

With delivery trucks under constant attack, the nation’s food is now transported under armed guard. Soldiers stand watch over bakeries. The police fire rubber bullets at desperate mobs storming grocery stores, pharmacies and butcher shops. A 4-year-old girl was shot to death as street gangs fought over food.

 

Venezuela is convulsing from hunger.

 

Hundreds of people here in the city of Cumaná, home to one of the region’s independence heroes, marched on a supermarket in recent days, screaming for food. They forced open a large metal gate and poured inside. They snatched water, flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, potatoes, anything they could find, leaving behind only broken freezers and overturned shelves.

Just like Venezuela, our society is rotting too. As we have warned before, the exact same things that are happening down there right now are coming here too. It is just a matter of time.

There are all sorts of signs that the thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted in the United States is starting to crumble as well.

Geert Wilders Warns "Dangerously Blind" Western Governments: "Beware Islamization, Stand For Freedom!"

Outspoken Dutch opposition leader Geert Wilders discusses how "dangerously blind" western governments are to the dangers of the Islamization of the West and the growing influence of Sharia law. Having already called for a Netherlands EU referendum, Wilders outlines his plans to defend the identity and civilization of the West from indoctrination.

 

Source: The Gatestone Institute

Busted Lambo Driver To Cop: "My Shoes Are Worth More Than Your Wages"

Aleem Iqbal calls himself "Lord Aleem", and works for his father's luxury car hire firm. Iqbal enjoys showing off the access he has to expensive cars, often boasting about the life he lives on social media - what else would we expect from someone who has a nickname for himself.

According to the Birmingham Mail, hours after taking delivery of a £550,000 Lamborghini Aventador SV Roadster, Iqbal was pulled over by police in Digbeth, England. What transpired after the police stopped Iqbal is the type of spoiled rich kid nonsense that will make blood shoot out of your eyes.

Iqbal goes over to the police, apparently filming everything with his phone and proceeds to run his mouth without a care in the world.

"Why you lookin' at me? Trust me bro my shoes are probably more worth more than your ***** wages"

After the police for some reason just drive away, Iqbal gets the crowd going a bit by boasting that he never even received a ticket.

"Ah he never gave me no paperwork - what's he gonna do?"

Before driving away he promises that the encounter should be on YouTube that night.

* * *

As Jaopnik's David Tracy concludes so eloquently, that’s just a dick move on so many levels, and it ranks among the worst aspects of car culture - the entitled rich kid in a supercar who needs to make clear to everyone how much better he is than the rest of us.
 

Hours later, he realized it was indeed a 'dick move" tweeting his apology.. Iqbal justified being an asshole by saying he's just 21, so that makes everything ok.

I am not perfect. Nor are you. We can only live and learn and better ourselves. You have to remember I'm 21 and still have lots to learn.

— Lord Aleem (@aleem_official) June 28, 2016

* * *

Iqbal's spokesperson then released a statement saying that Iqbal apologizes, and tries to again justify Iqbal's behavior by saying the he was "harassed" - of course he was.

Having had time to reflect on what happened and having spoken to his family, Aleem would and also like to apologise to the police officers involved for the way the situation escalated.

 

Aleem would like to stress that what wasn’t shown in the video was the police officers involved harassing him and forcing him to pull over for ‘having cars follow him’.

 

Yes, Aleem admits he can get carried away from time to time and said: ‘I’m tired of being harassed by police just because I’m young and drive nice cars. Although that doesn’t excuse my behaviour towards the police officers in the video, I hope this paints a clearer picture as to why I reacted the way that I did.’

Andrews Air Force Base On Lockdown; Active Shooter Reported

Another day, another active shooter but this time it's serious. Moments ago Joint Base Andrews, which is the technical name of Andrews Air Force base after its merger with the Naval Air Facility, reported that it is on lockdown due to a report of an active shooter. As a reminder, Andrews is president Obama's favorite golfing venue.

JBA is currently on lockdown due to a report of an active shooter. All personnel are directed to shelter in place. More info as it comes.

— Joint Base Andrews (@JBA_NAFW) June 30, 2016

We are hearing NOT A DRILL: Joint Base Andrews on lockdown right now ... Reports of an active shooter.

— Autria Godfrey (@ABC7Autria) June 30, 2016

This is a developing situation.

Bill Clinton Holds 'Private' Meeting With Loretta Lynch As FBI Probes Hillary

With the release of the official report on Benghazi by the House Select Committee earlier this week, one of two major concerns for the Clinton campaign has been able to be put to bed. However, one very large concern continues to loom over Clinton, and that is the FBI investigation into whether or not Hillary improperly handled classified material as Secretary of State.

Since it was revealed that Huma Abedin and other close aides were being interviewed by the FBI back in May, news from the investigation has been relatively quiet. FBI Director James Comey said last month regarding the investigation that "We want to do it well and we want to do it promptly. As between the two things, we will always choose well."

As The Hill notes, it's been nearly a year since inspectors general from the State Department and federal intelligence agencies referred the case of Clinton's server to the Justice Department last July, and while many expected the investigation to be drawing to a close this spring, it is still ongoing. In May, Clinton said "I hope this is close to being wrapped up", while saying that "I made it clear I'm more than ready to talk to anybody, anytime."

Douglas Cox, a professor at the City of New York School of Law said "I, like other people, am a bit surprised that it hasn't come to a resolution yet. I would think internally that there would have to be a little bit of concern."

If the delay wasn't much of a concern for the Clinton campaign, the fact that the Justice Department blocked the terms of IT aide Bryan Pagliano's immunity agreement from being released during a Judicial Watch civil suite because it "could prematurely reveal the scope and focus of the pending investigation" would elevate some concerns. Pagliano invoked his Fifth Amendment rights over 125 times during a deposition in that case.

Cox went on to say  "I think that federal prosecutors would want to get all their ducks in a row. They would want to make sure that their decision was as insulated as it could be from any charges that a decision not to bring charges would be politically motivated or be driven by political considerations."

That's an interesting comment from Cox, because as it turns out, on Monday evening (coincidentally just before the Benghazi report was released), Bill Clinton and US Attorney General Loretta Lynch just happened to meet on the tarmac at a Phoenix airport - totally unplanned of course. Clinton saw the attorney general and wanted to say hello, so Clinton boarded Lynch's plane to talk for a bit. Sure, just a quick chat about the weather, his putting stroke, anything except oh, say, an update on what was about to be released on Benghazi, and especially not an update on the ongoing FBI investigation into Hillary of course.

"Our conversation was a great deal about his grandchildren. It was primarily social and about our travels. He mentioned the golf he played in Phoenix, and he mentioned travels he'd had in West Virginia. There was no discussion of any matter pending for the department or any matter pending for any other body. There was no discussion of Benghazi, no discussion of the State Department emails, by way of example" Lynch told reporters.

* * *

Well then, if Lynch says it was a completely random encounter with Hillary Clinton's husband on a tarmac (admit it, that happens often to most people), and nothing was discussed that pertains to official business, then that certainly must be the truth...

I take @LorettaLynch & @billclinton at their word that their convo in Phoenix didn't touch on probe. But foolish to create such optics.

— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) June 30, 2016

Soros: Brexit Has "Unleashed" A Financial Crisis Similar to 2008

Prior to the Brexit vote, George Soros was one of the notable names who came out to implore the voters to decide to remain in the EU. At that time, Soros took scaremongering to a new level by writing an op-ed titled "The Brexit crash will make all of you poorer - be warned." Following the referendum, Soros came back to write "the catastrophic scenario that many feared has materialized, making the disintegration of the EU practically irreversible."

In remarks made to the European Parliament in Brussels on Thursday, Soros made yet another round of dramatic statements. Expanding on comments made over the weekend about the "inevitable disintegration" of the EU, Soros said Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has “unleashed” a crisis in financial markets similar to the global financial crisis of 2007 and 2008.

“This has been unfolding in slow motion, but Brexit will accelerate it. It is likely to reinforce the deflationary trends that were already prevalent,” the billionaire investor said on Thursday.

The 85 year old billionaire told the European Parliament that it is the height of their responsibility to not allow a disintegration to happen without utilizing all of its resources. Soros, saying that the EU is in "mortal danger", proposed that the ESM be moved under the total control of the European Parliament (not allowing members to have a say) to allow an extension of its uses for things such as a European unemployment scheme.

Furthermore, Soros called upon the EU to issue bonds in order to create funds that would allow it to "respond to national emergencies." National emergencies namely being that Europe's banking system will now be "severely tested" Soros went on to say.

"It's the height of your responsibility to not allow the EU to disintegrate without utilizing all its resources. Throughout history governments have issued bonds in response to national emergencies, When should the AAA credit of the EU be put to use if not at the moment when the European Union is in mortal danger"

As Bloomberg notes, Soros also told Parliament that Britain's decision to leave the EU has "unleashed" a crisis in financial markets similar to the global financial crisis of 2007 and 2008. "This has been unfolding in slow motion, but Brexit will accelerate it. It is likely to reinforce the deflationary trends that were already prevalent" Soros said.

Soros went on to say that "the hypothetical became very real. Sterling plunged, Scotland threatened to break away, and some of the working people who supported the 'Leave' campaign have started to realize the bleak future that both the country and they personally face. Even the champions of Leave are retracting their dishonest pre-referendum claims about Brexit"

Soros finished by taking a quick jab at Germany, saying "Because of restrictive fiscal policies; now it has to contend with an impending slowdown. The orthodoxy of Germany policy makers stands in the way of the only effective response: having a euro-zone budget that could adopt counter-cyclical policies."

As a reminder, as we noted after the last time Soros came out with scary remarks, Soros was among the world's 400 richest people to lose $127 billion in the aftermath of the Brexit result, losses which have now been largely pared back as a result of more central bank intervention, which as BofA noted have "ironically" only increased inequality and populism and assured even more Brexit-like events.

Rest assured that anything that is being proposed is going to help Soros build back even more of the wealth that was lost, and ultimately get him back on top. The rush to consolidate decision making in the EU by Soros is not a surprise, as the push for one formal European super-state is now underway - that may be what Brexit truly has created.

In Shocking Move, Boris Johnson Says He Won't Run For UK Prime Minister, Tory Leader

In the latest stunning development out of UK politics, moments ago during a press conference in which Boris Johnson -the man who led the Leave campaign - was widely expected to announce he would run for UK premier and Conservative party leader, the former London mayor, who was considered a frontrunner for the post, announced he would not stand for premier or Tory leader.

“I have concluded that person cannot be me” says Boris Johnson ruling himself out of Conservative election race https://t.co/S2p4nNxJst

— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) June 30, 2016

During his press conference in London Johnson said that “having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in Parliament I have concluded this person cannot be me.” 

More details from the FT:

In the latest stunning development out of UK politics, moments ago during a press conference in which Boris Johnson was widely expected to announce he would run for UK premier and Conservative party leader, the former London mayor, who was considered a frontrunner for the post, announced he would not stand for premier or Tory leader.

 

Theresa May, UK home secretary, also launched her Tory leadership campaign on Thursday with a promise to negotiate “the best possible terms when we leave the EU”, as bookmakers installed her as the favourite to succeed David Cameron as prime minister.

 

The infighting between leading advocates of Britain’s exit from the EU has compounded a deep sense of political instability and absence of leadership at a moment when a deeply divided country is contemplating the realities of life outside the union against a backdrop of market turmoil and economic vulnerability.

 

Mr Gove and Mr Johnson were a powerful duo at the head of the campaign to take Britain out of the EU and it had been assumed that the two would join forces at the top of a Tory government whose overriding task is to complete the UK’s divorce from the EU on the best possible terms.

 

Mr Johnson said now was a “moment for hope and ambition” in the UK, adding: “This is our chance to unite our party around those values and at the same time to unite our country and our society.”

 

“It is vital now in the Conservative party that we bring together everybody that campaigned for both the Remain and Leave sides... Having consulted colleagues, and in view of the circumstances in parliament, I have concluded that person cannot be me.”

BoJo's exit from the race likely means that the more centrist, Home Secretary Theresa May, who currently in the poll leads, will likely be the next Tory leader.  And while May has said she would not force a second referendum, the reaction in the sterling, which has spiked on the news, may suggest that BoJo's relent hints that UK's fate is not dead set.

Other Tory leadership candidates include Liam Fox, former defence secretary, and Andrea Leadsom, energy minister and another leading figure from the Leave camp, as well as Stephen Crabb and Andrea Leadsom.

Commons leader Chris Grayling, who is backing Theresa May as Conservative leader, says the contest now features a "number of skilled, effective performers". He says the Conservatives "are no longer Leavers, we are no longer Remainers", instead the government will carry through the will of the British people. Mr Grayling says he is sure Boris Johnson will have a big role in the future.

Pressed on his team's commitment to reduce immigration, Mr Grayling says: "We will be working absolutely resolutely to bring it down." Asked if that's to the tens of thousands promised in the Conservative election manifesto, he says: "That's always been the will of this government."

BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith says people are still "flabbergasted" by Boris Johnson's decision not to take part in the Conservative party leadership campaign. "The likelihood, but not the inevitably, it could come down to Theresa May and Michael Gove," he says.

Two Warning Signs That This Bounce is Not to Be trusted

The market has exploded higher based on verbal intervention.

The verbal intervention came from Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble. Yesterday Schauble announced that, “measures to avoid market chaos have been successful.”

Traders took this to mean that Central Banks were coordinated a massive intervention. So everyone on the planet bought stocks.

The reality however is that this is the usual end of the month performance gaming, combined with short covering. Volume has been ABYSMAL on this rally because no one actually believes it.

And why would they?

EU banks are imploding, trading at levels not seen since the depths of the 2011-2012 crisis.

In the US, the Russell 2000, which tends to lead the S&P 500, has failed to confirm the move higher. If anything, it suggests we’re going to new lows.

This whole situation is feeling just like late 2007/ early 2008. Once again stocks are holding up because investors believe Central Banks can save the world... despite the obvious warning signs that a major crisis is coming.

On that note, we are already preparing our clients for this with a 21-page investment report titled the Stock Market Crash Survival Guide.

In it, we outline the coming crash will unfold…which investments will perform best… and how to take out “crash” insurance trades that will pay out huge returns during a market collapse.

We are giving away just 1,000 copies of this report for FREE to the public.

To pick up yours, swing by:

https://www.phoenixcapitalmarketing.com/stockmarketcrash.html

Best Regards

Graham Summers

Chief Market Strategist

Phoenix Capital Research

 

Meanwhile On Times Square, Naked Man Taunts Cops; Demands To Speak With Donald Trump

Update: the man has been taken into custody.

* * *

A man screaming “Donald Trump, where are you!” turned Times Square into an open-air peep show Thursday morning the NY Post is reporting, ambling to the top of the red staircase in Duffy Square completely naked.

Witnesses first spotted the man in the 47th Street/Rockefeller Center area.

He then took off to Duffy Square, where cops were trying to get him down.

 

NAKED MAN IN TIMES SQUARE THIS IS WHAT NEW YORK IS ALL ABOUT pic.twitter.com/SapU7upxzH

— Eric M. Hammer (@TheEricHammer) June 30, 2016

MORE: Naked man takes over Times Square, screams about Donald Trump https://t.co/9ESo6V8wyx pic.twitter.com/ZmCtuZAGe6

— New York Post Metro (@nypmetro) June 30, 2016

Confidence Crushed Despite Collapsing Jobless Claims

The trend of jobless claims continues lower (despite a modest 10k rise this week to 268k from a revised lower 258k last week). The problem is... as we have shown numerous times, this 'measure' of the labor market appears to have seasinally adjusted itself into being totally-useless as an indicator of anything factual. With Consumer Confidence for over-55s at its lowest in 2 years, it seems the job exuberance is just not rubbing off...

Consumer Confidence (red) has tumbled to two year lows (inverted) as jobless claims trend careens back near 42 year lows...

 

Nothing else matters but keeping the jobs recovery narrative alive.

World's Most Systemically Dangerous Bank Crashes Back To Record Lows

Despite all the exuberance over the Brexit bounce in US (and UK) equities, never minds bonds, FX, and credit being far less enthusiastic, Deutsche Bank is plunging once again this morning. Having failed The Fed's stress test for the second year running and been diagnosed by The IMF as the world's most systemically dangerous financial entity, the giant Germanbank is getting slammed down almost 4% today, back near record lows as its 'Lehman-esque' path to devastation continues.

This is far from over!!

And if DB goes...

 

Then who's next?

 

As we previously conclude, considering two of the three most "globally systemically important", i.e., riskiest, banks just saw their stock price scrape all time lows earlier this week, we wonder just how nervous behind their calm facades are the executives at the ECB, the IMF, and the rest of the handful of people who realize just close to the edge of collapse this world's most riskiest bank (whose market cap is less than the valuation of AirBnB) finds itself right now.

Frontrunning: June 30

  • Brexiters at war as Johnson pulls bid to be PM (FT)
  • Soros Says Brexit Has ‘Unleashed’ a Financial-Markets Crisis (BBG)
  • World stocks poised for worst month since January (Reuters)
  • China to tolerate weaker yuan, wary of trade partners' reaction (Reuters)
  • China central bank criticizes media for publishing 'inaccurate information' on yuan rate (Reuters)
  • China says U.S. 'Great Wall' remark shows misunderstanding of history (Reuters)
  • Italy may have to recapitalise weak banks directly after stress tests-govt source  (Reuters)
  • Brexit fuels worries about expected U.S. earnings recovery  (Reuters)
  • Pound at Risk of Falling in Reserve-Currency Ranks After Brexit (BBG)
  • Think Brexit Won’t Happen? A Trump White House Is Just as Likely (BBG)
  • Sinopec subsidiaries inflated 2014 revenue, costs by $3.04 billion: government auditor (Reuters)
  • EgyptAir Crash-Probe Confirms Smoke, Soot -- Could Point to Fire (BBG)
  • U.K. Politicians Weigh Price of EU Single-Market Access After Brexit Vote (WSJ)
  • BOJ skeptics calling time on Kuroda's two-year target (Reuters)
  • Exxon Touts Carbon Tax to Oil Industry (WSJ)
  • Putin says Turkey did apologize for shooting down Russian plane (Reuters)
  • Winklevoss brothers choose BATS over Nasdaq for bitcoin ETF listing (Reuters)
  • Biggest Diamond in More Than Century Fails to Sell in London (BBG)

 

Overnight Media Digest

WSJ

- Big U.S. banks won permission from regulators Wednesday to boost dividends and buybacks, offering investors some welcome news after the sector got hammered when the UK voted last week to exit the European Union. http://on.wsj.com/297hULR

- Puerto Rico has suffered a population slide that is steeper and more financially disastrous than in any U.S. state since the end of World War II. http://on.wsj.com/297hViL

- The death toll wrought by three suicide bombers at Turkey's busiest airport rose Wednesday to 42 as the country grappled with what its leaders called a suspected Islamic State offensive that has pulled it deeper into the Middle East's turmoil. http://on.wsj.com/297hVzo

- Airbnb Inc lined up investors for a new funding round and an employee stock sale that will value the room-rental website at up to $30 billion and help defer an initial public offering, WSJ reported, citing people familiar with the matter. http://on.wsj.com/297i9GP

- For years, the thousands of U.S. dealers selling General Motors Co vehicles were saddled with large cars and trucks when customers were looking for small vehicles. Now, as U.S. auto sales climb to a record pace, many of these same dealers say they are begging for pick-up trucks and sport-utility vehicles. http://on.wsj.com/297icCk

 

FT

Theresa May will launch a bid to become prime minister with a promise to restore business confidence from last week's Brexit vote.

Deutsche Bank Trust Corp and Santander Holdings USA failed the Federal Reserve's stress tests as regulators rejected their proposed payouts to shareholders.

General Electric Co's financing arm GE Capital shed its status as a group warranting tougher regulation in a decision by the U.S. government.

Michael Gove's wife, Sarah Vine, revealed doubts held by the Tory party and media about would be prime minister Boris Johnson in a leaked email

 

NYT

- Just two days before Puerto Rico plans to default on a large debt payment, the Senate passed and sent to the White House a relief measure to help the financially desperate island surmount its fiscal crisis, ending a grueling, months-long effort to rescue the commonwealth. http://nyti.ms/295P0wS

- United Airlines and leaders of its flight attendants' union have agreed to a new labor contract that will unify the cabin crews for the first time since United's merger with Continental Airlines more than five years ago. http://nyti.ms/291KL21

- All but one of largest banks in the U.S. earned an unconditional passing grade from federal regulators on their annual stress tests, which measure their preparedness to weather a financial crisis. http://nyti.ms/29gYc18

- European officials are expected to approve a new agreement with the United States aimed at helping companies such as General Electric and Google, among others, move online data between the two regions despite concerns about how the digital information of Europeans may be retrieved by the American government. http://nyti.ms/29fKknZ

 

Canada

THE GLOBE AND MAIL

** Engineering firm WSP Global Inc has decided not to pursue its proposed takeover of British construction advisory business Sweett Group Plc. Montreal-based WSP said on Thursday it had "terminated efforts to acquire Sweet" and would not sweeten its offer price of 0.35 pounds ($0.47) per Sweett share. (http://bit.ly/296IUeK)

** Twelve years after Bombardier Inc executives first outlined plans to build a new family of airliners called the C Series to challenge the single-aisle planes made by Boeing Co and Airbus, the Canadian company has silenced critics and delivered the first of those planes. (http://bit.ly/296IMMq)

** British Columbia Premier Christy Clark has put the province's real estate industry under government oversight, declaring the industry's self-regulating body has failed to protect the public from cut-throat and illegal practices and has lost the public's confidence in its ability to police itself. (http://bit.ly/2915Eup)

NATIONAL POST

** Canada's telecom regulator quashed Bell Canada's second attempt to make it harder for competitors to buy wholesale access to its high-speed networks, a decision that will enable indie Internet providers to buy and resell access to ultra-fast fiber Internet connections. (http://bit.ly/296IW6l)

** Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto committed to chopping methane gas emissions from the oil and gas industry by 40-45 percent as part of a wide-ranging North American Climate, Clean Energy and Environment Partnership, announced on Wednesday in Ottawa. (http://bit.ly/297g1D6)

** Gold miner Asanko Gold Inc has come under attack from a Toronto-based hedge fund, K2 & Associates, that claims its stock price could plunge 90 percent. (http://bit.ly/294siCn)

 

Britain

The Times

Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Mike Hawes has warned that the livelihoods of more than 800,000 workers directly employed in the UK across the auto sector are at risk unless the government agrees a positive tariff-free, freedom of movement post-Brexit settlement with the European Union. (bit.ly/296IO91)

House prices in Britain rose 0.2 percent this month, mortgage lender Nationwide said in its latest report on the housing market. This takes annual growth from 4.7 percent in May to a better-than-expected 5.1 percent. (bit.ly/29dJ2wr)

The Guardian

The governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney is expected to say on Thursday that the contingency plans put in place by the central bank have kept funds flowing in the City and bolstered confidence among the business community. (bit.ly/294AdAu)

Tens of thousands of Toyota cars are being recalled in the UK for safety reasons, including fears that their airbags could inflate without warning. The carmaker has been forced to recall 2.9 million vehicle worldwide over possible cracks in the fuel emissions control unit. (bit.ly/294LtxL)

The Telegraph

New Zealand has offered its top trade negotiators to the United Kingdom, relieving the British civil service as it prepares for the strain of seeking new deals with countries across the globe. (bit.ly/296cEe2)

A buying bonanza fuelled the FTSE 100's remarkable rebound, erasing all of its post-Brexit losses in just two days. London's benchmark index enjoyed its best day in almost five years, soaring 219.67 points to a two-month high of 6,360.06. (bit.ly/299VpYy)

Sky News

Philip Green has demanded an apology after Frank Field, chairman of the Work and Pensions committee, leading a probe into the collapse of BHS accused Green's Arcadia empire of "nicking money". (bit.ly/296eVqX)

Britain's Department for Work and Pensions will name a new chairman on Thursday as it attempts to safeguard the interests of tens of thousands of members of the BHS and British Steel retirement schemes. (bit.ly/293Dnn7)

The Independent

Two former PricewaterhouseCoopers employees, Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet, were found guilty in Luxembourg of stealing confidential tax files that helped unleash a global scandal over generous fiscal deals for hundreds of international companies. (ind.pn/293J8Co)

The credit rating agency Moody's has changed its outlook on 12 UK-based banks and building societies as the finance industry continues to feel the fallout of the vote to leave the European Union. (ind.pn/2925wf3)

Pages