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1

      

By Garfield Benjamin, Solent University


Amazon Echo and the Alexa voice assistant have had widely publicized issues with privacy. Whether it is the amount of data they collect or the fact that they reportedly pay employees and, at times, external contractors from all over the world to listen to recordings to improve accuracy, the potential is there for sensitive personal information to be leaked through these devices.


But the risks extend not just to our relationship with Amazon. Major privacy concerns are starting to emerge in the way Alexa devices interact with other services – risking a dystopian spiral of increasing surveillance and control.


The setup of the Echo turns Amazon into an extra gateway that every online interaction has to pass through, collecting data on each one. Alexa knows what you are searching for, listening to or sending in your messages. Some smartphones do this already, particularly those made by Google and Apple who control the hardware, software and cloud services.


         



      

But the difference with an Echo is that it brings together the worst aspects of smartphones and smart homes. It is not a personal device but integrated into the home environment, always waiting to listen in. Alexa even tries to make light of this with the creepy “Ask the Listeners” function that makes comments about just how much the device is spying on you. Some Echo devices already have cameras, and if facial recognition capabilities were added we could enter a world of pervasive monitoring in our most private spaces, even tracked as we move between locations.


This technology gives Amazon a huge amount of control over your data, which has long been the aim of most of the tech giants. While Apple and Google – who face their own privacy issues – have similar voice assistants, they have at least made progress running the software directly on their devices so they won’t need to transfer recordings of your voice commands to their servers. Amazon doesn’t appear to be trying to do the same.


This is, in part, because of the firm’s aggressive business model. Amazon’s systems appear not just designed to collect as much data as they can but also to create ways of sharing it. So the potential issues run much deeper than Alexa listening in on private moments.


Sharing with law enforcement

One area of concern is the potential for putting the ears of law enforcement in our homes, schools and workplaces. Apple has a history of resisting FBI requests for user data, and Twitter is relatively transparent about reporting on how it responds to requests from governments.


But Ring, the internet-connected home-security camera company owned by Amazon, has a high-profile relationship with police that involves handing over user data. Even the way citizens and police communicate is increasingly monitored and controlled by Amazon.


This risks embedding a culture of state surveillance in Amazon’s operations, which could have worrying consequences. We’ve seen numerous examples of law enforcement and other government bodies in democratic countries using personal data to spy on people, both in breach of the law and within it but for reasons that go far beyond the prevention of terrorism. This kind of mass surveillance also creates severe potential for discrimination, as it has been shown repeatedly to have a worse impact on women and other minorities.


If Amazon isn’t willing to push back, it’s not hard to imagine Alexa recordings being handed over to the requests of government employees and law enforcement officers who might be willing to violate the spirit or letter of the law. And given international intelligence-sharing agreements, even if you trust your own government, do you trust others?


In response to this issue, an Amazon spokesperson said: “Ring customers decide whether to share footage in response to asks from local police investigating cases. Local police are not able to see any information related to which Ring users received a request and whether they declined to share or opt out of future requests.” They added that although local police can access Ring’s Neighbors app for reporting criminal and suspicious activity, they cannot see or access user account information.


Tracking health issues

Health is another area where Amazon appears to be attempting a takeover. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has signed a deal for medical advice to be provided via the Echo. At face value, this simply extends ways of accessing publicly available information like the NHS website or phone line 111 – no official patient data is being shared.






But it creates the possibility that Amazon could start tracking what health information we ask for through Alexa, effectively building profiles of users’ medical histories. This could be linked to online shopping suggestions, third-party ads for costly therapies, or even ads that are potentially traumatic (think women who’ve suffered miscarriages being shown baby products).


An Amazon spokesperson said:


Amazon does not build customer health profiles based on interactions with nhs.uk content or use such requests for marketing purposes. Alexa does not have access to any personal or private information from the NHS.


The crudeness and glitches of algorithmic advertising would violate the professional and moral standards that health services strive to maintain. Plus it would be highly invasive to treat the data in the same way many Echo recordings are. Would you want a random external contractor to know you were asking for sexual health advice?


Transparency

Underlying these issues is a lack of real transparency. Amazon is disturbingly quiet, evasive and reluctant to act when it comes to tackling the privacy implications of their practices, many of which are buried deep within their terms and conditions or hard-to-find settings. Even tech-savvy users don’t necessarily know the full extent of the privacy risks, and when privacy features are added, they often only make users aware after researchers or the press raise the issue. It is entirely unfair to place such a burden on users to find out and mitigate what these risks are.




American Natural Superfood - Free Sample




So if you have an Echo in your home, what should you do? There are many tips available on how to make the device more private, such as setting voice recordings to automatically delete or limiting what data is shared with third parties. But smart tech is almost always surveillance tech, and the best piece of advice is not to bring one into your home.


In response to the main points of this article, an Amazon spokesperson told The Conversation:


At Amazon, customer trust is at the centre of everything we do and we take privacy and security very seriously. We have always believed that privacy has to be foundational and built in to every piece of hardware, software, and service that we create. From the beginning, we’ve put customers in control and always look for ways to make it even easier for customers to have transparency and control over their Alexa experience. We’ve introduced several privacy improvements including the option to have voice recordings automatically deleted after three or 18 months on an ongoing basis, the ability to ask Alexa to “delete what I just said” and “delete what I said today,” and the Alexa Privacy Hub, a resource available globally that is dedicated to helping customers learn more about our approach to privacy and the controls they have. We’ll continue to invent more privacy features on behalf of customers.The Conversation



Garfield Benjamin, Postdoctoral Researcher, School of Media Arts and Technology, Solent University


This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Top image: HeikoAL/Pixabay


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2

      

By Mac Slavo


An app called Clearview allows the user to snap a photo of anyone.  Once that’s done, the person who took your picture will have access to all of your information.  Privacy is now all but obsolete.


People will not, for much longer, be able to walk down the street minding their own business anonymously.  According to a report by The New York  Times, it won’t be long before anyone at any time knows exactly who you are while you’re in public.


What if a stranger could snap your picture on the sidewalk then use an app to quickly discover your name, address and other details? A startup called Clearview AI has made that possible. Perhaps the worst news is that the police state is already using this technology in some parts of the “land of the free.” The app is currently being used by hundreds of law enforcement agencies in the United States, including the deep state FBI, says a Saturday report in The New York Times.


         



      

Our Orwellian future has arrived.  We are to be tracked, monitored, spied on, and have no privacy whatsoever at any time. And now, other strangers will have access to your private information is you dare to show your face in public.


According to the Times, this human rights violating app works by comparing a photo snapped to a database of more than 3 billion pictures that Clearview says it’s scraped off Facebook, Venmo, YouTube and other sites. It then serves up matches, along with links to the sites where those database photos originally appeared. A name might easily be unearthed, and from there, other info could be dug up online.



The size of the Clearview database dwarfs others in use by law enforcement. The FBI’s own database, which taps passport and driver’s license photos, is one of the largest, with over 641 million images of US citizens.


The Clearview app isn’t currently available to the public, but the Times says police officers and Clearview investors think it will be in the future. –CNET



Even though law enforcement says they’ve used the app’s technology to solve horrible crimes, human rights advocates warn that the privacy violations are going to be immense.  Privacy advocates are warning that the app could return false matches to police and that it could also be used by stalkers and other creeps. They’ve also warned that facial recognition technologies, in general, could be used to conduct mass surveillance.


Most facial recognition technology is already used for Orwellian and tyrannical purposes by the powers that shouldn’t be.  It should come as no surprise that this will also be used by the ruling class to eliminate basic human rights.



Article source: SHTFPlan.com


Image: EFF.org


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3

      

By Matt Agorist


Kentucky — An ominous bill that is currently making its way through the Kentucky Senate aims to give police unprecedented unconstitutional powers. These new powers will allow cops to stop anyone they want and demand that person tell them who they are, where they are going, and explain their actions. Naturally, it has civil rights advocates up in arms, but it doesn’t seem to be slowing down the bill’s momentum.


Police merely need to make an unsubstantiated claim that a person is involved in criminal activity which gives them free rein to stop that person, demand his name, home address and age — as well as ask to see his driver’s license, if he has one — and tell him to explain what he is presently doing “to the satisfaction of the officer.”


If you invoke your constitutional right not to answer the officer’s questions, this new bill grants cops the right to detain you for two hours. Even more ominous is the fact that this detainment is not considered an arrest so you have no right to an attorney and police don’t even have to record it. This non-arrest grey area detention will undoubtedly be rife for abuse.


         



      

Nevertheless, advocates for the police state tyranny say cops must have this new ability—to keep us safe. As Kentucky.com reports, Sen. Stephen Meredith, R-Leitchfield, said Grayson County law enforcement officials asked him for the bill after a number of local incidents showed the need for it.


“If a man acts suspicious, then why wouldn’t you want to know what his name is?” Meredith said in an interview. “I can’t imagine any legitimate reason in the world why a person would refuse to give their name and photo identification to a police officer if they were asked.”


In other words, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear…or, in other words, submit to the police state. Wrong!


Well Sen. Meredith, we’d like to educate you in why a person would refuse to talk to police—because it is our right not to! Legislation like this is straight out of the playbook of every tyranny in history.  Remember “Ihre Papiere, Bitte”?


That phrase often brought shudders to the people who heard it in the 1930s and ’40s. It is German for “Your papers, please,” and this bill is nearly identical to that sinister Nazi policy.


Critics of the bill are pointing out its obvious unconstitutional nature and note out how cops can already go after people if they suspect them of committing a crime. As Kentucky.com reports:



Critics say Meredith’s bill would violate the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure and the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination.






Police officers already have the right to approach people on the street and ask their names, but it’s established that citizens can refuse to respond, said Aaron Tucek, a legal fellow at the ACLU of Kentucky. If police can show reasonable suspicion that someone is carrying a deadly weapon, they can proceed to frisk that person, Tucek said.


But they cannot detain people simply for not identifying themselves or explaining their activities “to the satisfaction of the officer,” Tucek said.



“The whole section of the bill on detention — they can call it whatever they want, but Supreme Court case law is pretty clear that an arrest is not determined by whether you call it an arrest, it’s determined by the restraint you place on someone’s liberty,” Tucek said. “If you put someone in the back of a police car or if you take them down to the police station or if you otherwise refuse to let them go their own way, that’s an arrest, and in our country, you cannot do that without probable cause.”


We agree and so does the Constitution.


“The idea that we can detain people because we find them to be suspicious and we think they might commit a crime, that crosses a dangerous line,” Rebecca DiLoreto, who lobbies in Frankfort for the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said. “Now, unfortunately, it has been known to happen. Sometimes it’s in a mostly white community where someone spots a black person walking down the street and they get suspicious and call police.”




Brave - The Browser Built for Privacy




“The ‘crime’ in this case is basically that you’re here and we don’t think, from looking at you, that you should be here,” she added. “The potential for abuse in that seems obvious.”


DiLoreta also pointed out the menacing nature of cops being able to essentially kidnap anyone they want for hours and keep it off the record. Nobody ever should be taken into police custody without a record being made of it, she said.


“That’s starting to approach what you see in a police state or Soviet Russia,” DiLoreta said.



Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project, where this article first appeared. Follow @MattAgorist on Twitter, Steemit, and now on Minds.


Subscribe to Activist Post for truth, peace, and freedom news. Become an Activist Post Patron for as little as $1 per month at Patreon. Follow us on SoMee, Flote, Minds, Twitter, and Steemit.


Provide, Protect and Profit from what’s coming! Get a free issue of Counter Markets today.


   

4

      

By Clint Siegner


Narayana Kocherlakota, the former President of the Federal Reserve bank of Minneapolis wants you to know the Federal Government can never borrow too much money.


Our government already borrowed $23 trillion and deficits are expected to exceed $1 trillion per year. He knows many Americans feel anxious about the federal government going bankrupt, and he has a simple solution.


He just wrote the following in an editorial published by Bloomberg:


Policy makers and voters often express concern about the level of the federal deficit, which topped $1 trillion last year, and the national debt, now more than $23 trillion. But, unlike a household that owes money to a bank, the U.S. government has the ability to tax its creditors. This power means that the federal government can afford any level of debt that is owed to American taxpayers.


         



      

There you have it. Government can tax Americans for whatever is needed.


The solution is so simple any dim-wit could have come up with it. As a matter of fact, one did…


Federal Reserve bankers have always received unnatural reverence for their wisdom and piety. It’s refreshing when one of them puts their patently stupid, indeed evil, ideas on public display.


The people running our central bank come from the same stock as the liars, schemers, and sociopaths who run the Federal Government and Wall Street. The sooner Americans figure that out, the better.


Toward that end, we have some follow up questions for Kocherlakota:






Have you considered the track record of nations that borrowed and spent without restraint? We can find lots of examples of nations that collapsed when leaders like you arrogantly assumed they could get away with borrowing, spending – and taxing – in confidence destroying amounts.


What do you expect will happen to the Treasury market when your tax is imposed on creditors? Do you expect them to continue lining up after they discover they must both lend money and then bear the cost of its repayment too?


What if creditors – the people who buy Treasuries – tend to be better politically connected than people who don’t buy treasuries? Will politicians really impose a massive tax on these people? Or is it possible they will stick it to the poor and middle class instead when they get cornered and have to raise taxes?


Of course, Kocherlakota is well aware his cabal of central bankers and politicians is already taxing Americans heavily and lying about it. The tax is called inflation, and it is severely underreported.


The Federal Reserve is printing money to buy federal debt. Officials there pushed interest rates to epic lows and kept them near there for most of a decade. As a consequence, the Federal Reserve Notes Americans saved are worth a lot less.




Brave - The Browser Built for Privacy




The purchasing power was transferred to Washington and Wall Street, the recipients of all the monetary stimulus. The effect is exactly like income tax and the myriad other federal taxes people pay.


All that borrowed currency is fueling the massive expansion in government. Financial services gobble up an ever larger chunk of the nation’s GDP and wealth inequality just keeps getting bigger.


Kocherlakota published his “solution” for unlimited government borrowing in a misguided attempt to put people at ease. But have a look at the comment section below the editorial. Those who gave it a serious read were aghast, thank goodness.



Clint Siegner is a Director at Money Metals Exchange, a precious metals dealer recently named “Best in the USA” by an independent global ratings group. A graduate of Linfield College in Oregon, Siegner puts his experience in business management along with his passion for personal liberty, limited government, and honest money into the development of Money Metals’ brand and reach. This includes writing extensively on the bullion markets and their intersection with policy and world affairs.


Subscribe to Activist Post for truth, peace, and freedom news. Become an Activist Post Patron for as little as $1 per month at Patreon. Follow us on SoMee, Flote, Minds, Twitter, and Steemit.


Provide, Protect and Profit from what’s coming! Get a free issue of Counter Markets today.


   

5

      

By Tyler Durden


Aside from the rantings of a small group of eccentric billionaires, humanity is mostly unprepared for the advent of automation and its impact on an economy that is already exhibiting unprecedented levels of wealth concentration among the wealthy. Some have estimated that automation will destroy 800 million jobs over the next ten years.


But if you’re trying to plan a career, or a life, that can withstand the transformative impact of automation, a team of researchers at Kempler Industries has analyzed data from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics and determined the percent of potential job loss in different industries across all 50 US states.


         



      

Their findings are broken down in the map below:



See: 177 Different Ways to Generate Extra Income


The study also breaks job losses down by metropolitan area, with Las Vegas and Orlando taking the top two slots.





In order to create a foundation for this analysis, we looked at the top 170 most “at-risk” occupations, according to the University of Oxford’s “The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerisation” study.


When looking at the data, it’s clear that no state is immune to automation. Overall, roughly 41 million, or 28% of all U.S. jobs, are most susceptible to automation. Occupations within the service industry are some of the hardest hit in terms of being at risk for automation, specifically cashiers, retail salespersons and fast food employees.


Article source: Zerohedge.com


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Provide, Protect and Profit from what’s coming! Get a free issue of Counter Markets today.


   

6

      

By Spiro Skouras


Many would agree that climate change is perhaps the biggest and most critically important issue that we face globally as a society. And I personally would agree with that 100%. But it all depends on which side of the fence you land on.  And of course just like any argument, or debate, there are at least two sides to every story.


One side is currently being championed as the people who want to save the world, young people mainly, who are willing to speak out against the establishment and their evil ways for the good for mankind and mother earth. This side of the argument which portrays itself as grassroots, just so happens to fall in line essentially word for word with the establishment, whom they blame for this supposed climate crisis.


         



      

The other side of the argument is anyone who dares to even question the legitimacy, or science behind the claims that the world is about to end unless we do something about man made climate change right now! This side is known as the climate deniers. That’s right, if you wish to have an open discussion, dialogue, ask questions, engage in a debate or any such action which does not fall in line with the UN 2030 climate agenda you are part of the problem and must be silenced.


This report exposes how billionaire powerhouse George Soros is bankrolling a campaign to silence ‘climate deniers’ on YouTube. How can we have a civilized discussion that could potentially lead to a solution, if one side of the debate is being silenced by a collaborative campaign with special interests and a loaded deck?



Links:




The U.N. & Central Banks: A Rockefeller & Rothschild Coup


Soros-linked political pressure group Avaaz joins forces with MSM to purge climate skeptics from YouTube


George Soros Emerges as Major Funder of ‘Global Climate Strike’ Groups


George Soros Hails Groundbreaking Agreement on Climate

Soros Gave Global Climate Strike Partners More than $24M
‘What Greta said!’: Kiwi schoolkids strike for climate
Discover the Networks: Avaaz

Discover the Networks: Service Employees International Union (SEIU)


Forbes Flashback: How George Soros Broke The British Pound And Why Hedge Funds Probably Can’t Crack The Euro

Avaaz: Why is YouTube Broadcasting Climate Misinformation to Millions?
YouTube algorithms promote climate denial videos


Follow Spiro on BitChute bitchute.com/channel/spiro/ Follow on Twitter https://twitter.com/o_rips


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Provide, Protect and Profit from what’s coming! Get a free issue of Counter Markets today.


   

7

      

By Aaron Kesel


Update: 10:41 a.m. EST — Luke Rudkowski of We Are Change is experiencing live streaming issues with YouTube. He has switched over to Facebook live.



         



      

News2Share’s Ford Fischer is experiencing similar issues on Facebook but is providing updates on Twitter.




Update: 9:54 a.m. EST — Derrick Broze is charging up his battery and will restart the stream here in about 45 minutes.


Early estimates put the number of protesters above 10,000 according to several news outlets.




Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of gun-rights activists and other groups are descending on Richmond, Virginia for a massive gun rights rally which begins at 11 a.m. EST. 11 a.m. However, rally goes are already being heard chanting “four more years” for President Trump and “Northam out” in reference to Virginia Democratic Governor Ralph Northam.


Investigative journalist Derrick Broze started streaming from the rally live around 8:35am EST.



In anticipation of the rally, Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, banning all weapons including guns from the rally on Capitol Square. However, outside of the gated area Derrick has shown that there are heavily armed protesters in the early stream.


Local Virginia NBC media outlet WAVY reports there are hundreds of police ready to respond to violence if it occurs.




Here is a list of banned items inside the Capitol gates:



firearms
knives, scissors, needles, razors, and other bladed weapons
slingshots
spring sticks or batons
metal knuckles
blackjacks
nunchucks, chains, or other flailing weapons
throwing stars, knives, darts, or other throwing weapons
stun guns, tasers
sticks, poles, bats, baseballs, softballs, glass bottles
shields, helmets
toy guns and toy weapons
drones/sUAS, laser pointers
caustic substances (pepper spray), aerosol containers
hazardous materials, fireworks, torches, and open flames
other dangerous items or items that may be used as weapons

News2Share’s Ford Fischer also reports via Twitter that he was asked to hand over his tripod while entering the gated protest area.



8

      

By B.N. Frank


Do you need a break from tech?  Are you tired of everybody and their grandmas being glued to screens?  Are you sick of or sick from 24/7 exposure to sources of biologically harmful cell phone and WiFi radiation that disrupt your blood-brain barrier, increase your cancer risk, cause a multitude of other undesirable symptoms and conditions (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and could eventually disable you, your children, and even your pets?


If you answered yes to any of these questions, then a tech-free vacation may be just what you need.


         



      

Thanks to Vogue magazine for providing details about these 6 tech-free resorts:


Are you glancing at your phone’s push notifications every five to 10 minutes (if not more frequently), on the lookout for an email you need to instantly respond to even hours after you’ve left the office? Maybe you’re staring at a computer 12 hours a day. Or perhaps you’re constantly scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. You, my friend, are in need of a digital detox. Whether you’re looking for a far-flung, remote destination in a tech-dead zone or something a little more local, here are six places where you can (and, in fact, must) ditch your smartphone, tablet, and laptop to completely turn off. Sure, you may be panic-stricken at first, but embrace the philosophy and that feeling will quickly dissipate, giving you exactly what the doctor ordered.







Activist Post reports regularly about unsafe technology.  For more information, visit our archives.


Image: Pixabay


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Provide, Protect and Profit from what’s coming! Get a free issue of Counter Markets today.


   

9

      

By Chris Menahan


Folks attending the Second Amendment rally at the Capitol grounds in Richmond, Virginia on Monday will be barred from exercising their Second Amendment rights and corralled into a chain-link “pen” with only one entrance and exit.


From The Washington Post:




         



      

Outside the Capitol, authorities used tall chain-link barriers to create a pie-shaped pen for the rally. The area takes up about a third of Capitol Square, a manicured park dotted with monuments to figures ranging from Native Americans and George Washington to a segregationist governor and civil rights leaders. The monuments were protected with additional fencing, as was the Executive Mansion to the east.


The square is usually open on all sides to foot traffic. Under Northam’s emergency order, access is restricted to one spot, at 9th and East Grace Streets. Just inside that entrance, the crowd will be split into 17 lines for screening with metal detectors.


Anyone attempting to bring in weapons will be turned away, but police will not confiscate those items, officials have said. Demonstrators who do not want to part with their guns may remain armed on city streets. Authorities say they will cut off admission to the rally once the crowd hits a certain number, which they have declined to disclose.


[…] Gov. Ralph Northam (D) last week declared a state of emergency and issued a ban on firearms or other weapons on Capitol grounds. The state Supreme Court upheld the ban after a challenge by two gun rights groups. The Federal Aviation Administration has issued temporary flight restrictions for Richmond airspace, making it illegal to fly planes or drones above the city on Monday. Northam has said officials are concerned about threats from weaponized drones.



Sounds like freedom!




“Suddenly, Democrats like walls and putting people in a cage,” Red Nation Rising said on Twitter.


Ford Fischer is doing on-the-ground reporting ahead of the event:






An armored vehicle dubbed “The Rook” was reportedly seen being wheeled in for the event:




The media and Governor are doing their best to hype the event as Charlottesville 2.0:






The FBI arrested four people ahead of the event they claim were threatening violence against antifa (threatening antifa appears to be the number one way to get arrested by the FBI):



10

      

By David Haggith


I’m not going to predict when and how the US stock market will crash as I did by laying out the stages of its fall for 2018. That was easy, but the times are different now.


Back then, the Fed had laid out a precise schedule for its tightening, and it was apparent to me where the big increases in Fed tightening would be sufficient to bring down the market that the Fed had artificially rigged.


Today, the Fed is back to easing — back to doing what it does to juice markets up. And the correspondence between what central banks do with their balance sheets and what the stock markets do is now almost 100%.


         



      





All of 2019 looks like lockstepping to me.


The Fed, of course, is the primary mover for the US market. Therefore, US stocks being overpriced in the extreme may not matter so long as the Fed is willing to keep the money pumps redlining at maximum RPM.


However, the more the market’s metrics move above all rational and historic benchmarks, as I’ll show they now have, the greater its fall will be if the Fed pulls the plug, AND the more sensitive it will become to the Fed even wiggling the plug. So, the situation is, in that sense, more perilous than at anytime past because some of the market’s most fundamental valuation metrics are now printing at levels never seen before.


Let me lay that out for you.


Market madness still being Fed


As I will lay out in my next Patron Post, the Fed has given some indication of a mild return to tightening in the near future, and that could create problems for the market. The Fed has not, however, laid out any clear schedule for tightening, and it won’t get far down that road before it sees market problems, and goes right back to easing because we are now in QE4ever by which I really mean “QE4ever or die!”


That is because, as soon as the Fed backs away from QE, it will see its dependent child go into paroxysms, and like any parent who knows he or she has a sickly child that is highly dependent on continued life support, the Fed will rush back to supporting its baby — the stock market.


See: 177 Different Ways to Generate Extra Income


Outside of Fed help, the case to be made against the market is huge — as big as it was before the last two major recessions. The market today looks in almost every way like it did just before the dot-com bust, but the difference, then too, was that the Fed started tightening back then. Therefor, as long as the Fed continues its present path of easing, there may not be anything like the dot-com bust, barring a deep recession that busts everything; but the Fed is now the only thing between the market and a bust.


Here are the similarities that scream market melt-up:


The market is overvalued and melting up


How high is it?


The market is a stoner. As a ratio comparing stock prices to either earnings or sales (two historic benchmarks for assessing how pricey stocks are), the price of stocks is higher right now than it has ever been in history. This market is tripping on some pricey hallucinogens.




Zero Hedge

(EV/EBITDA compares an enterprise’s value to its actual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization. Typically a value below 10 is considered healthy.)


The PEG is another measure that looks looks for overvaluation by comparing the Price/earnings ratios of stocks to their long-term expected growth in earnings. It, too, has soared in the past quarter to reach an all-time high:




Zero Hedge

Prices are more overvalued based on these historic metrics than they were before the financial crisis that caused the Great Recession and even in the stratospheric run-up to the dot-com bust. We have never — ever — been priced this high! That means fundamentals have further to go to catch up to current valuations than at any time in history, so what is going to drive stock values up more … other than the one thing that has been driving them for the past decade — the Fed?



Investors should keep in mind that market valuations stand nearly three times the historically run-of-the-mill valuation levels from which stocks have historically generated run-of-the-mill long-term returns. In fact, the highest level of valuation ever observed at the end of any market cycle in history was in October 2002, and even that level is less than half of present valuation extremes.


John Hussman, president of the Hussman Investment Trust, in his latest note to investors



That means, if you know what the Fed is going to do, you might be able to make a safe market bet; but recognize that your hope for making money in stocks hangs entirely upon your being right about what the Fed will do in the months ahead.


As for any hope of those fundamentals catching up, three quarters of CFOs polled in the US say the market is greatly overvalued. That will not, of course, prevent them from overvaluing it more with more stock buybacks … financed in good part by the Fed’s easy money.



Chief financial officers at big U.S. companies entered 2020 on a cautious note, with almost all anticipating an economic slowdown against the backdrop of an overvalued stock market, according to a survey released Thursday…. 82% anticipate taking more defensive actions, like reducing discretionary spending and headcount, as a way to stave off the looming headwinds.


CNBC



CEO confidence doesn’t look any better and disagrees in the extreme with consumer confidence:




Zero Hedge

So, the biggest insiders (CEOs and CFOs) are united in their belief that the market is priced to perfection with a business future immediately ahead that looks far from perfect. Yet, the market is rising at a rate that can only be matched by previous melt-ups.



“At this level, many things have to go optimally so that the prices are higher at the end of the year,” comments David Rosenberg on the growing complacency among investors. The renowned economist and strategist is one of the most profound experts on the U.S. economy and one of the last remaining skeptics to warn of a correction.


His bearish view is based on exorbitantly high equity valuations and over-optimistic earnings expectations. He also thinks that the US consumer sector is in worse shape than the consensus believes….


This is a liquidity and momentum driven market. It’s been that way for the past four months where the correlation between the S&P 500 and the Fed’s balance sheet has expanded to a 95% relationship. This is a case of a very accommodative Fed policy. The double-digit growth in the money supply is bypassing the real economy and has entered into asset markets broadly, and specifically into equities. So as long as the Fed is in the game priming the monetary pump, shorting stocks is going to be a very dangerous game to play … but this overall market rally is more a house of straw than a house of brick….


People will claim that there is no recession. Statistically speaking that’s true as far as GDP is concerned. But we know for a fact that we actually had a four-quarter earnings recession. I never quite understood why GDP is so important to an equity investor who is buying an earnings stream. There’s no ticker “GDP” on the New York Stock Exchange. So it’s not about the overall level of GDP, it’s really about earnings and about the fact that if you look at the 30% share of the U.S. economy that is outside of the consumer space, we actually have been in a recession in the past two quarters.


[Does that sound like anything predicted here for 2019?]


On a median basis, the U.S. economy has stopped growing three quarters ago. Also, the U.S. consumer is not as nearly in good shape as people think. We see signs that the labor market is starting to show some fatigue….


The Fed would not be cutting interest rates three times and then re-extending its balance sheet at a rate that even exceeds what they were doing with QE3. The most important correlation to the stock market today is the Fed’s balance sheet. The power of the Fed has become so acute that it has replaced the economy as a principle influence over the stock market to the point where there is only a 7% correlation between GDP and the S&P 500. Historically, in any given cycle that relationship was anywhere between 30% and 70%. The amount of easing that the Fed has done since the beginning of October by expanding the balance sheet is just about as strong in terms of basis points as the three rate cuts they engineered last year. They have cut rates almost a 150 basis points when you look at it on an equivalent basis.


The Market



Rosenberg points out an interesting corollary between the Fed’s recent emergency liquidity explosion and the main event that triggered the dot-com bust in 2000:


We have a template of what happened when the Fed provided a lot of liquidity juice to the marketplace with the Y2K special lending facilities in late 1999. At that time, the market strongly surged, and kept on rallying into the early part of 2000. Then, the Fed started to withdraw that liquidity and it wasn’t a pretty picture.


So, here we are in the early part of 2020 with the market strongly surging due to the Fed having juiced the marketplace with “a lot of liquidity” for the year change in late 2019, exactly as it did in 1999 for the Y2K year change, and again the Fed is, at least, talking about starting to draw down liquidity in April or perhaps before as it did shortly after the Y2K year change.


Will this time also end as “not a pretty picture.”


In 2018 it was easy to know when the market would go into paroxysms because the Fed had published a set schedule for its tightening. This time, as Rosenberg says,…


It’s tough to time when the Fed is finally going to sit back and say: “Ok, you know what: I’m not handing any more candy to the kindergarten class”. My sense is that the response to the Fed no longer priming the pump could be significant.


We’re now “all in”


Don’t let marketeers influence you with their claims that the market is going to rise this year. You can bet that every single one of them, if alive in 2000, was saying the same thing then, too. Though some feared the ridiculous heights the market hit in 2000, almost no one was calling for it to crash.


As Mark Hulbert, who has been in this game for a long time, recalls,



On Jan. 14, 2000, the Dow DJIA … hit its bull-market high prior to the bursting of the internet bubble. And, yet, you’d have never known it by reading what the newsletter editors then were saying. In fact, after reading through my newsletter archives from January 2000, I was struck by the similarities between now and then.


MarketWatch



2008 went the same way. Anyone remember Goldman’s investment advice to its clients just before the 2008 financial crisis implosion? Everything it wrote was printed in vampire squid ink:



The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it’s everywhere. The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. In fact, the history of the recent financial crisis, which doubles as a history of the rapid decline and fall of the suddenly swindled dry American empire, reads like a Who’s Who of Goldman Sachs graduates.


Rolling Stone



While it sucked everyone dry, it outwardly recommended buying more stocks that would fail, even as it bought up lots of almost everything that would do well when other things crash.


One strong sign of a melt-up and the nearing top of a market is when everyone is in — retail investors like mom and pop and the big money or “smart money” like institutional funds. When there is not a lot of money sitting on the sides, only newly created money can push the market up. When everyone is in, enthusiasm (or euphoria) is at its peak.


Beware those who have stocks to sell. All the big advisors counsel everyone to jump in when MOMO and FOMO hit their peaks. How else will they get rid of all their own holdings so close to the peak? According to Rolling Stone and many other publications, that’s what Goldman did to maintain its Sachs of gold. That’s how it got the name “Vampire Squid.”






We’re now “all in”:



Contrary to several goalseeked indicators which erroneously repeat week after week that whales and other prominent institutional traders remain “on the fence” despite the now daily record highs in the S&P, the truth is that virtually everyone is now all in: from simple human-driven discretionary, to macro funds, all the way to algo and CTAs…. “Equity positioning … has run far ahead of current growth as investors price in a global growth rebound….” The question is, are people starting to feel more upbeat about the global economy or is this just another round of central bank dovishness designed to propel asset prices higher? The answer appears to be, yes. Weakness will be met with overt accommodation. Strength with silence.


Zero Hedge



Or is just another round of Goldman, which populates all levels of the Fed with former GS people and others that it recommends, fleecing the flock? (As a refresher, read the whole Rolling Stone article quoted above, written at the end of those desperate times.)



CNN

Money-losing companies are shoving market valuations to the summit


One of the big concerns during the final year or two of the market’s rise before the big dot-com bust of 2000-2002 was that so many companies that never made a dime were leading the market into the stratosphere. We’re pretty well back to that.



Tesla Inc. shares have doubled in three months, while General Electric Co. shares are up 44%. The pair are the two most valuable loss-making companies, part of a shockingly high proportion of listed companies that have been losing money—despite, or perhaps because of, the long bull market.


The Wall Street Journal



The Journal says these two are two very different exemplars of profitless companies in today’s stock market. Tesla has never made a dime, and is now one of the most highly valued companies in the market, and GE is a megalithic dinosaur of great value in the past that has been losing money for years.


The Journal article says that 40% of listed companies in the U.S. are currently losing money quarter after quarter. The biggest area of massive-money-losers in the dot-com gold-rush was the IPO segment of the market. The same is true today:



The Wall Street Journal

Bonds overflowing


While stocks are overflowing, so is the pouring of money into safe-haven bonds. If the current net flow of money into bonds were to continue all year, it would look like this compared to any other year since the Great Recession began:





Of course, the flow of money into bonds probably will not continue at that rate all year, although several years shown above did continue at the same rate most or all of the year. Still, many others did not and even turned downward partway through the year. Regardless, the steepness of the rise in the first two weeks of January exceeds that seen at the start of any year on the chart, except maybe 2015.


Bonds aren’t the only safe havens rising as a warning sign alongside soaring stocks. Precious metals are, too:





David Rosenberg notes why he believes gold is on the rise and should be:



When you compare the new supply of gold against the supply of money coming into the system from Central Banks, to me it’s a very clear cut case that you want to have very high exposure to bullion….


Gold demand is predicated on the final act which is going to be right-out debt monetization. When we get to the lows of the next recession, we’re going to find that these Central Banks that already have been extremely aggressive are going to engage in what is otherwise known as the “debt jubilee” or a right-out debt monetization which was actually the final chapter of the Bernanke playbook. Remember, Ben Bernanke got his nickname “Helicopter Ben” because in a speech in 2002 he suggested that helicopter money could always be used to prevent deflation. So we’re going to have helicopter money.


The Market



Buyback bonanza is slowing down


It’s no secret that the Fed’s new money and low interest, and the US government’s one-time allowance for low taxes on the repatriation of overseas cash hoards has fueled the market higher.


Over a trillion dollars has been spent on stock buybacks by twenty companies over the past five years to push up the values of the markets leaders. What happens when those companies have used up all the foreign profits they had to repatriate or when interest rises so debt to fund buybacks is not longer cheap or when those “trillion-dollar babies” just reach the maximum amount of debt they feel comfortable taking on … or reach the maximum amount for which ratings agencies feel comfortable selling good ratings?


Currently buybacks are slowing down due to the fourth-quarter reporting period. Repatriation money is also likely running out for many companies, because it has been two years since cheap repatriation of former foreign profits was allowed under the revised tax code as part of the Trump Tax Cuts.


It feels like 2018 all over again


I still think, as I wrote in December, that the following is a strong contender to become the market’s peak before it hits a wall:



The market has a highly attractive 30,000-foot altitude marker in the sky to hit on the Dow. That attractive goal will tend to suck the market quickly up another 5% until it nears that target.


Once the market gets to that target, however, that number tends to become resistance as everyone starts to wonder if it can break it and if it will hold or crash in fear of such great heights. 30,000 is a much stronger number psychologically than 29,000 was because it breaks into a new 10,000-foot level. The human psyche likes big, fat, round numbers like that.


Once it gets to that level, however, it can generate a lot of fear because of how perilously high the market suddenly feels, which makes it an ideal number for an ultimate blow-off top


“Santa, No Longer Tariffied, May Rally for Christmas“





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I’m not predicting 30,000 is the major breaking point. I’m just noting that I think it is a strong psychological milestone that is quite near in the present melt-up stage as both the brass ring for investors to reach for and then perhaps to fade … or even flee if people see a lot of fading happening. It will deepened on how many other things are going bad at the same time or on one thing going bad — Fed support. (Don’t say it can’t happen. It did in 2018 when the Fed should have known better then, too.)


First, let me point the last time we neared a milestone of this kind (Dow 20,000). You can see in the graph below that it was both a magnet, sucking stocks upward and then a two-month bench to rest on. However, the steep final rise to that level was not a melt-up because a “melt-up” is meant to imply things are about to melt down:



30,000 will be a natural place to catch one’s breath, but what happens at that point will depend a lot on what kinds of events happen when the market takes a pause bringing momentum to a halt — say if buybacks fade for the reasons above or if earnings estimates sink more than expected or a very low GDP print; BUT it relies far more than anything on whether the Fed fades its current easing.


After December, I got out of stocks to sit this mile-marker and possible Fed transition point out. (I don’t even like being in stocks now, given how insane the market is; but my predictions of the market’s fall were based on Fed tightening, so a return to easing changed things for the last few month.)


As for what happens in a Fed tightening regime, the graph above also bears testimony to just how much the market changed in January of 2018 for the remainder of that year and how it remained below its January blow-off top with some hard bouncing even through the first three quarters of 2019 as the Fed’s quantitative tightening continued … even though the Fed stopped raising interest rates. Only when the Fed moved deep into QE4ever did the market finally sustain a rise above its 2018 high mark.


As for what happened back then when the Fed tightened and how it compares to now,



Stock market investors could be setting themselves up for a nasty fall … according to Mark Newton, a popular independent market technician, in a Friday note to clients.


“US stocks have moved up at a clip that’s eerily reminiscent of January 2018,” he wrote. “No news really matters to shake markets, and bad economic news or earnings, not to mention geopolitical threats matter for a few hours only before the relentless rally continues unabated,” he wrote.”


The S&P 500 index … fell more than 10% between Jan. 26 of 2018 and Feb. 9 of that year, after rallying more than 27% between the start of 2017 and the Jan. 2018 top.


“Make no mistake, this market move is NOT normal, and is NOT something which should be able to continue technically into and through February without a major hiccup,” he added.


“Markets truly seem to be near exhaustion using traditional methods, but it’s proper to wait on the sidelines until the break gets underway, which should prove swift and severe….”


That said, it’s incredibly difficult to predict exactly when euphoric sentiment will take a turn for the worse. “Indicators don’t flash red when the market is at a top,” Newton warned. “It’s hard to go out there and really trumpet a big bearish call, which makes you wonder if its probably the right thing to be doing.”


MarketWatch



The only failsafe red indicator now that the market is ignoring all economic the metrics of all economic/business fundamentals is the light on the power cord to the Fed. Everything depends on the Fed and what it does, and right now the Fed is not all that clear about what it will do. It is certainly not clear that QE4ever will continue without a failed attempt at reversing it.


The big thing to use as your red light is any attempt or mention of an upcoming attempt by the Fed to prove it is not financializing the US debt by moving back toward tightening … or even just stopping the money pumps. (It, of course, won’t mention the “financializing” part, as it doesn’t want you to even think about that, but look for hints of tightening that it can use to support its argument that it is not monetizing the debt with anyone who calls it to task.)


Bear in mind the only way the Fed can maintain its lie that it is not illegally financing the national debt with QE4ever is if it can prove that its recent massive asset purchases were just temporary emergency monetary responses. Lack of “temporary” = QE4ever = the Fed monetizing the US debt by soaking up US treasuries forever … or until the Fed decides to crash the entire economy by tightening again. (It is only 4ever if the Fed wants the economy to keep going.)


So long as the Fed even shows it is going to do nothing more than hold its existing treasuries for years to come, it is, at least, guilty of monetizing that much of the US debt. Throughout QE, the Fed’s sole argument that it was not monetizing the debt rested on its QE being temporary.


The Fed has a great need to quit its repo recovery actions so that the Fed can prove it is not financing the US government by sopping up its debt to roll over in perpetuity. It doesn’t make any difference that the Fed is only buying short-term treasuries, as it now claims for its excuse, if it rolls those short-term treasuries over forever. That is just short-term dressing in name only on permanent monetization of the debt. So economists, analysts and politicians will be questioning the Fed’s “not QE” if they see that the Fed simply cannot stop. The Fed is fully aware of that. As I noted in last year’s early Patron Posts, the Fed expressed great concern about losing trust in 2018.


At the same time, this market has nothing left to keep it up but Fed fumes.



(If you want to read as much as I can lay out about the Fed’s projected moves for the first half of this year, I’m going to give access to January’s Patron Post as soon as it is finished to those who sign up to support my continued writing of free articles like this now at the $5 level or above, even though their first support payment won’t process until February. The Fed has not laid out any clear path, but there are some broad hints, and I don’t want anyone to miss the information in case it is helpful, so I’ll make it available before pledges are processed.)


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Article source: The Great Recession Blog


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11

      

By Michael Maharrey


The Trump administration ran an Obamaesque budget deficit of over $1 trillion in the 2019 calendar year.


It was the first budget deficit over $1 trillion in any calendar year since 2012.


The budget shortfall from January through December totaled $1.02 trillion, according to the latest report issued by the Treasury Department. That was a 17.1 percent increase over the 2018 deficit, which was a 28.2 percent increase over 2017.


The budget deficit for fiscal 2019 (October 2018-September 2019) came in just under $1 trillion at $984 billion. That represented 4.7 percent of GDP, the highest percentage since 2012. It was the fourth consecutive year in which the deficit increased as a percentage of GDP. The debt-to-GDP ratio is estimated to have increased a hefty 26 percent over last year.


         



      

The CBO estimates the budget deficit for fiscal 2020 will eclipse $1 trillion.


These are the kind of budget deficits one would expect to see during a major economic downturn. The federal government has only run deficits over $1 trillion in four fiscal years, all during the Great Recession. We’re approaching that number today, despite having what Trump keeps calling “the greatest economy in the history of America.”


Generally, during economic expansions, government spending on social programs shrinks and tax revenues climb with increased economic activity. Revenues have increased over the last year, but they haven’t kept pace with the increase in government spending.


The spending didn’t slow in the first quarter of fiscal 2020. Through the first three months of the current fiscal year, the deficit ballooned to $356.6 billion. That’s an 11.8 percent increase from a year ago. In just three months, Uncle Sam blew through $1.16 trillion. Spending through the first three months of FY2020 is up 6.5 percent over the spending through the first three months of fiscal 2019.


Meanwhile, the national debt has climbed to $23.2 trillion.


To put that into perspective, last February, the national debt topped $22 trillion. When President Trump took office in January 2017, the debt was at $19.95 trillion. That represented a $2.06 trillion increase in the debt in just over two years. The borrowing pace continues to accelerate. The Treasury borrowed $800 billion in just two months late last summer. (If you’re wondering how the debt can grow by a larger number than the annual deficit, economist Mark Brandly explains here.)


See: 177 Different Ways to Generate Extra Income




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During the presidential campaign, Trump promised to deal with the skyrocketing national debt. In fact, he said he could take care of it “fairly quickly.” But the president hasn’t even played lip-service to reining in spending, instead, calling for more outlays for the military and championing paid parental leave for government employees.


Trump supporters have mostly offered up excuses, shifting the blame for the ballooning national debt to “Democrats in Congress.” This ignores the fact that 2019 spending was approved the previous year when the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. They also minimize the White House’s role in the budgeting process. In fact, the president has significant power and input in that process


While Congress does ultimately pass spending bills, the president must sign them before they become law. He doesn’t have to sign bills that have spending he doesn’t want. If reining in debt and deficits was a priority, Trump would have vetoed these bills and insisted on spending cuts. Instead, he called for more spending, particularly for the military.


Republicans will argue that increased defense spending is necessary for “national security.” But unsustainable budget deficits pose a significant threat to national security, especially considering China ranks as one of the biggest buyers of U.S. debt.


The executive branch also plays an integral role in the budgeting process. Executive branch departments submit spending requests that Congress uses to set spending levels. The president has complete control over how much money various departments request.


Finally, the president’s near-complete silence on deficits and debt indicates that it’s not a priority. Trump didn’t even mention the national debt during the last State of the Union address.




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Congress does in fact bear a great deal of responsibility for Uncle Sam’s fiscal malfeasance, but so does the president. His supporters need to quit making excuses, hold his feet to the fire and insist that he deal with the debt.


The spending trajectory is unsustainable. If we are running $1 trillion deficits now, what will the country’s financial situation look like when the next recession hits? Congress and the president can continue to kick the can down the road, but they are about to run out of pavement.



Michael Maharrey [send him email] is the Communications Director for the Tenth Amendment Center. He is from the original home of the Principles of ’98 – Kentucky and currently resides in northern Florida. See his blog archive here and his article archive here.He is the author of the book, Our Last Hope: Rediscovering the Lost Path to Liberty. You can visit his personal website at MichaelMaharrey.com and like him on Facebook HERE


Article source: The Free Thought Project


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12

      

By The Last American Vagabond


Welcome to The Daily Wrap Up, a concise show dedicated to bringing you the most relevant independent news, as we see it, from the last 24 hours (1/18/19).


As always, take the information discussed in the video below and research it for yourself, and come to your own conclusions. Anyone telling you what the truth is, or claiming they have the answer, is likely leading you astray, for one reason or another. Stay Vigilant.


         



      


(https://d.tube/c/tlavagabond)


Visit TheLastAmericanVagabond.com. Subscribe to TLAV’s independent news broadcast on YouTube or iTunes. Follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Minds. Support at Patreon or PayPal.


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13

      

By B.N. Frank


Astronomers (see 1, 2, 3) as well as other credible sources continue warning about satellites and similar space craft creating dangerous situations on Earth as well as in space (see 1, 2, 3, 4).  Regardless, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continues to approve tens of thousands more being launched into orbit anyway.


Now a new paper suggests they may have broken environmental law when approving SpaceX’s Starlink Mega Constellation (which includes up to 42,000 spacecraft) and that if someone sued them, they might win.


         



      

From Scientific American:



A battle for the sky is raging, and the heavens are losing. Upcoming mega constellations of satellites, designed to blanket Earth orbit in spacecraft beaming high-speed Internet around the world, risk filling the firmament with tens of thousands of moving points of light, forever changing our view of the cosmos. Astronomers who rely on unsullied skies for their profession and members of the general public who enjoy the natural beauty of what lies above stand to lose out. The arrival of such a large number of satellites “has the potential to change our relationship, and our connection, with the universe,” says Ruskin Hartley, executive director of the nonprofit International Dark-Sky Association. But with no binding international laws or regulations in place to protect the night sky, anyone opposing the advancement of mega constellations is surely fighting a losing battle. Right?


Wrong.


A new paper to be published later this year in the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law argues that the Federal Communications Commission—the agency responsible for licensing the operation of these constellations in the U.S.—should have considered the impact these satellites would have on the night sky. In ignoring a key piece of federal environmental legislation, the FCC could be sued in a court of law—and lose—potentially halting further launches of mega constellations until a proper review is carried out.


Read Full Article



The FCC is supposed to protect the public by regulating the telecom industry.  They are facing many lawsuits right now for failing to do so regarding the forced installation of unsafe 5G technology (see 1, 2, 3, 4).  Fingers crossed someone will sue them for approving these satellites as well.







Activist Post reports regularly about unsafe technology.  For more information, visit our archives.



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14

      

By Sean Walton


While the New Mexico Legislature won’t convene until next week, anti-gun legislators have already pre-filed multiple gun control bills, including “Red Flag” gun confiscation laws and bans on popular firearm accessories.


House Bill 7 / Senate Bill 5 – Sponsored by Rep. Daymon Ely and Senator Joseph Cervantes, these bills would authorize the seizure of firearms and/or ammunition from individuals without due process. Unchallenged statements made by a petitioner before a judge, alleging that someone is a danger to themselves or others in an ex parte proceeding — prior to any formal court hearing at which the respondent can be represented by counsel and present counter-evidence — would be sufficient for law enforcement to enter that person’s home and confiscate their private property.


         



      

Constitutional rights should only be restricted with sufficient due process of law. Due process limits restrictions on constitutional rights to only serious convictions and adjudications that provide procedural protections to the accused, which results in more reliable proceedings. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms should not be treated as a second-class right and should only be restricted when sufficient protections are in place.


House Bill 85 – Sponsored by Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero, HB 85 was introduced with the intent to ban possession of a “semiautomatic firearm converter.” However, the bill is so poorly written it would potentially ban normal and legal firearm accessories like match triggers and many ergonomic modifications. The vague language could lead to the banning of virtually any performance-enhancing product for a semi-automatic firearm, and ultimately threaten the legality of semi-automatic firearms themselves. Further, those who possess any of the mentioned items would become felons overnight.



Article source: The Daily Sheeple


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15

      

By Sean Walton


The Kayenta coal mine in northeastern Arizona shut down last year, along with the power plant it supplied. Coal from that mine used to light up Las Vegas and Los Angeles and supply the electricity to pump water to Phoenix and Tucson. Those cities have been able to turn to other sources of energy. Not so on the Hopi and Navajo Nations. For decades, tribal members relied on Kayenta coal to heat their homes, and now it’s their first winter without reliable or affordable fuel. Hopi community leaders call it a “devastating crisis”.


Losing coal has led to a public health crisis on the Hopi Nation. There are few other options for heating homes. Propane and space heaters are expensive, and many houses don’t have electricity. Trees are scarce; the nearest places to buy or cut wood are hours away by car.


Monica Nuvasma, a homeowner affected by the closure, says “coal economically works better because it burns longer, you don’t need as much in order to heat your home.”


“I think that that’s a really difficult thing for most people to grasp, when they just turn their thermostat or push a button, and they get the heating,” she added


One nonprofit, Red Feather Development Group, is trying to ease the hardship created by Kayenta’s closure. The group runs workshops on alternative heating options, and hires contractors to weatherize houses so they hold the heat better. Joe Seidenberg, the executive director, says, “There are people that are living with extreme housing disparities, with major holes in their roofs, with cardboard windows, that… are at a real risk for freezing to death.”


Seidenberg says Red Feather installed 5 solar powered furnaces and weatherized or made repairs on 91 homes last year on Hopi and Navajo. But the group is limited by funding and has a long waitlist. Kayenta’s closure affects 9,000 people on Hopi and 170,000 on Navajo.







“It is truly an injustice that this is happening in the United States of America,” Seidenberg says.



One of Red Feather’s customers is Chelsea Sekakuku. Contractors add insulation and fix broken windows in her 80-year-old stone house in Kykotsmovi Village on Third Mesa. Sekakuku burns wood in her coal stove now. “I’m having to get up twice a night to check the fire, make sure it’s still going. I’m having to chop wood beforehand, in the morning, in the evening.”


Some Hopi blame the tribal government for not preparing better for Kayenta’s closure. But Vice Chairman Clark Tenakhongva says the U.S. government bears responsibility for forcing Hopi to mine coal that made the Southwest’s cities flourish, while the reservation remains in poverty. The Hopi Nation lost 80 percent of its tribal budget when coal royalties ceased.




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Tenakhongva says, “I’m just hoping, just hoping, that we do not lose anybody throughout this season to any kind of exposure.” He says this winter many must choose between eating and keeping warm.


Article source: The Daily Sheeple


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