Silver as an investment

ZeroHedge: Judge Rules Plea Deal For “Orgy Island Billionaire” Broke Federal Law

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In an opinion that was 11 years in the making, a federal judge has ruled in a lawsuit brought by victims of disgraced billionaire Jeffrey Epstein – who infamously served 13 months in prison on state prostitution charges after scoring a plea deal with prosecutors led by now-Labor Secretary Alex Acosta – that Acosta and other attorneys with whom he worked at the US attorneys office of South Florida violated federal law when they sealed Epstein’s plea deal, preventing any of his victims from challenging the deal, the Miami Herald reported.

Epstein

 

The lawsuit was originally brought in 2008 after Epstein started serving his term. He was released in 2009. But is only now being resolved following renewed interest in the case following a series of reports in the Herald about how the wealthy and well-connected Epstein – who allegedly ferried Bill Clinton and actor Kevin Spacey to his “Orgy Island” aboard his plane, which has been termed “the Lolita Express” – received such a lenient sentence for offenses that some said should have elicited federal sex trafficking charges.

Marra agreed, saying that while prosecutors had the right to resolve the case in any way they saw fit, they violated the law by hiding the agreement from Epstein’s victims. Marra’s decision capped 11 years of litigation — which included the release of a trove of emails showing how Acosta and other prosecutors worked with Epstein’s high profile lawyers to conceal the deal — and the scope of Epstein’s crimes — from both his victims and the public.

“Particularly problematic was the Government’s decision to conceal the existence of the [agreement] and mislead the victims to believe that federal prosecution was still a possibility,” Marra wrote. “When the Government gives information to victims, it cannot be misleading. While the Government spent untold hours negotiating the terms and implications of the [agreement] with Epstein’s attorneys, scant information was shared with victims.’”

Given that the determination was made in a civil court opinion, Acosta won’t be facing any charges. But the ruling is certainly a black eye for his legacy as US attorney. But White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the administration would be “looking into” Acosta’s role in the plea deal.

In the opinion, the judge determined that Epstein helped recruit underage girls “for his own sexual gratification, but also for the sexual gratification of others”. (more…)

via zerohedge

ZeroHedge: Which One Wins: Central Planning Or Adaptive Networks?

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Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Those who are betting on Central Planning do not understand the essential role of adaptation.

The global economy is in the midst of a grand experiment pitting centralization (Central Planning) against the evolutionary model of adaptive, self-organizing networks. Centralization is the dominant dynamic of the Status Quo everywhere: the economies of China, Japan, Europe and the U.S. are all dominated by Central Planning: central banks, central state agencies, and Deep State / private sector nodes of wealth and power that pull the systemic strings.

Central Planning–the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the few–is presented as the “solution”: in China, the “solution” is a Total Information Awareness Social Credit Score system of centralized control of the populace. In the U.S., Medicare for all— the PR term for centralized cartel-state profiteering on a vast scale–is just one of many Central Planning “solutions” being touted by the “Progressives.”

Geopolitically, American “Progressives” and neoconservatives alike are enamored of the centralized Imperial Project as the go-to “solution” to any and every challenge.

As I explain in my latest book (now out as an audiobook), Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic, there’s one fatal flaw in Central Planning “solutions”: they run completely counter to the principles of evolution which guide all systems, natural and human.

That which is rigid and inflexible cannot adapt to rapid change, and thus it fails to adapt and vanishes from the Earth. That is the essence of evolutionary dynamics.

(more…)

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ZeroHedge: “We Have No Rights”: Texan Landowners Fear Trump Will Seize Their Land For Border Wall

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The Rio Grande Valley, an area located in the southernmost tip of South Texas, is seeing increased signs that a border wall or fence is immient: heavy machinery gathering near the Rio Grande, wooded areas being cleared, and residents receiving letters from the government asking to survey their property and possibly seize it through eminent domain.

Gary Jacobs, a former chief executive officer of Laredo National Bank, had an in-depth conversation with Bloomberg about President Trump’s border wall could trigger a massive backlash from Texan landowners.

Texas, a state where Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 9% in the 2016 presidential election, shows the political complexity at play.

After Trump declared a national emergency last week to access billions of dollars in funding, some landowners in Texas fear that the Trump administration could seize their land.

“The way the eminent domain laws are written, we have no rights,” warns Jacobs. “That’s the issue. It’s not what they’re going to build. It’s how they’re taking the land.”

Not long after Trump invoked the National Emergencies Act, the Legal advocacy group Public Citizen filed suit on behalf of landowners in Texas.

Public Citizen is claiming Trump exceeded his authority under the federal National Emergencies Act because there is no crisis at the border, and that a declaration of a national emergency to build the wall violates the separation of powers, more or less, it is unconstitutional for Trump to declare an emergency because Congress already declined to appropriate the money.

Bloomberg said property seizure laws established in the 1800s leave Texan landowners with limited options. (more…)

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ZeroHedge: Pennsylvania & The Folly Of Minimum Wage Laws

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Authored by Mark Hendrickson via The Mises Institute,

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has proposed raising the legal minimum wage to $12 per hour on July 1, 2019, and then an additional 50 cents per year until the minimum wage reaches $15 per hour in 2025.

Laws mandating a minimum wage have existed without interruption since the federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. So habituated have we become to this form of government intervention that when a politician like Gov. Wolf proposes to mandate a higher minimum wage, few people bother to question whether government is competent to rule on what a proper wage is.

Neither government officials nor committees of experts that they assemble can possibly process as much information as free markets provide through the forces of supply and demand to determine what wages should be. This is one of the fundamental errors of socialism (take note, Bernie and Alexandria) – namely, the presumption that government planners have enough wisdom to overrule markets and set prices. Alas, the woeful result of such hubris is that by supplanting the pricing mechanism that brings supply into balance with demand and thus coordinates economic activity, economic production becomes uncoordinated, irrational, and chaotic, leading to impoverishment (see Venezuela).

Advocates of minimum wages might retort that there are normative issues here that take precedence – that it isn’t “just” or “fair” that an employer pay an employee (even one who is eager to work at a low wage) less than their arbitrarily chosen minimum. Those who clamor for higher minimum wages are completely free to pay higher wages to anybody they choose to employ. But what gives them the right to tell somebody else how much they must pay for something?

Let me give an example.

Let’s say that an enthusiastic supporter of higher minimum wage laws has fallen in love with Tesla automobiles and wants to buy one. Now let’s pretend that Tesla is on the brink of bankruptcy, and that if it goes out of business, a number of Americans will lose their jobs and means of self-support. (more…)

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ZeroHedge: Smollett Now Has An “Untreated Drug Problem” As ‘Empire’ Mulls Recast

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After consulting with his attorneys and crisis management team, Jussie Smollett told Chicago police that he has an alleged drug problem, a move which could be used as a mitigating factor to get his sentence reduced, according to TMZ

Smollett divulged his ‘drug problem’ after turning himself in Thursday morning on charges that he filed a police report for a Jan. 29 hate crime hoax he allegedly paid to associates to act out. 

Smollett fingered Abimbola “Abel” Osundario – one of the two brothers the ‘Empire’ star allegedly paid $3,500 to beat him up – as his drug dealer, selling him ‘Molly’ several times since the spring of 2018 according to text messages. 

Police say Smollett text messaged Osundario asking for the drug – a street name for ecstacy. 

Word of Smollett’s drug problem comes as TVLine reports ‘Empire‘ producers are considering bringing in a new actor to play the role of Jamal. Co-creator Lee Daniels – who reportedly loosely based the character on himself, is said to be a big fan of the idea. 

20th Century Fox said on Friday that while they will wait for the legal process to play out, they “have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season.” 

Smollett was arrested early Thursday after turning himself in on a felony criminal charge of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report in connection with the hate crime ‘attack.’ 

And in a sign that the left has finally accepted the situation, the Daily Show mocked the Smollett situation on Friday: 

via zerohedge

ZeroHedge: YouTube Demonitizes Anti-Vax Channels After BuzzFeed Contacts Advertisers

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YouTube on Friday demonetized channels which promote anti-vax content, after BuzzFeed notified a spate of advertisers that their ads were being run alongside anti-vax videos, reports BuzzFeed. YouTube said that such videos fall under its policy prohibiting videos with “dangerous and harmful” content to be monetized. 

“We have strict policies that govern what videos we allow ads to appear on, and videos that promote anti-vaccination content are a violation of those policies. We enforce these policies vigorously, and if we find a video that violates them, we immediately take action and remove ads,” reads an emailed statement from YouTube to BuzzFeed. 

Seven different advertisers said they weren’t aware their ads were appearing on videos like “Mom Researches Vaccines, Discovers Vaccination Horrors and Goes Vaccine Free,” which advocates against vaccinating children, and reached out to YouTube to pull the programmatic placements.

Their ads appeared on videos from channels including VAXXED TV, LarryCook333 (a proponent of StopMandatoryVaccinations.com), and iHealthTube, all of which YouTube has since demonetized, or prevented from running ads. –BuzzFeed

One health tech company, Nomad Health, told BuzzFeed News that it “does not support the anti-vaccination movement,” and was “not aware of our ads running alongside anti-vaccination videos.” The company said it would “take action to prevent it from happening in the future.”

Another such advertiser – discount vitamin company Vitacost, said it pulled all of its advertising on Tuesday after a blogger made a viral video highlighting a “soft-core pedo ring” operating on the platform. 

“We pulled all YouTube advertising on Tuesday morning when we noticed content issues. We had strict rules to prevent our ads from serving on sensitive content and they were not effective as promised,” said a VitaCost spokesperson via email, who added. “We will continue to remain off of the platform until those changes are made and are proven to be effective by other advertisers. (more…)

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ZeroHedge: Trump To Keep 400 Troops In Syria After European Allies Balked At “Multi-National Force”

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In what by now is an entirely predictable partial retreat from Trump’s prior promise of a “full” and “rapid” American troop withdrawal from Syria, the White House announced Thursday night it would leave a small number of troops on the ground in Syria as the bulk of US forces depart. 

“A small peace keeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria for (a) period of time,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. This follows months of conflicting signals and constant about-face policy statements from various officials in the Pentagon and administration after Trump first ordered staff to initiate a complete draw down last December. However, the true number has already jumped to 400, as Bloomberg reports on Friday the actual number of troops both Trump and his national security adviser John Bolton signed off on is double, which they’ve notified Pentagon and defense department officials of. 

qqUS Army Special Forces near Al Tanf in southern Syria. Image source: US Army/Military Times

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” Trump tweeted back in December, resulting in an avalanche of push back from both DC hawks and foreign allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia. 

Predictably, the hawks are now happy with the policy drift and new commitment to 400, especially those like Sen. Lindsey Graham who’ve long promoted regime change in Syria, and have beat the war drums against Assad ally Iran. Graham praised the Thursday announcement to leave behind “a peacekeeping force”.

“This decision by President Trump to be a part of a stabilizing force will ensure that all the gains we have achieved in Syria will not be lost,” Graham said to CNN.

And as our own analysis predicted a number of times, the some 200 special forces operatives among the 400 total US troops to stay in Syria will remain in and around al-Tanf base in the remote southeast desert and border region with Iraq. According to CNN

The 200 troops who will remain will be divided between At-Tanf, an area near the Iraq-Jordan border, and northeast Syria, according to a US official familiar with the planning process.

The troops in northeast Syria currently advise the Syrian Democratic Forces. (more…)

via zerohedge

ZeroHedge: President Trump Nominates Kelly Craft As Next UN Ambassador

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Just a few short day after Trump’s second pick – Heather Nauert – for UN Ambassador suddenly decided against it, the President tweeted that he intends to nominate Kelly Craft to be his ambassador to the United Nations: “Kelly has done an outstanding job representing our Nation and I have no doubt that, under her leadership, our Country will be represented at the highest level. Congratulations to Kelly and her entire family!”

A longtime donor to Republicans, as Bloomberg reports, Craft, 56, was an active supporter of President George W. Bush, who in 2007 appointed her a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. She and her husband, billionaire coal mining magnate Joe Craft, backed Florida Senator Marco Rubio in the 2016 Republican primaries before ultimately supporting Trump and giving $750,000 to Future 45, a super-PAC led by Joe Ricketts and Sheldon Adelson.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had recommended Craft for the position, a spokesperson for the GOP leader told The Hill this week.

“Kelly Craft is a strong advocate for American interests and will be a powerful representative of our great nation at the U.N.,” McConnell said in a statement.

(more…)

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ZeroHedge: Smartphone Apps Sending “Intensely Personal Information” To Facebook – Whether Or Not You Have An Account

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Facebook has been collecting “intensely personal information” from millions of people – whether they have Facebook accounts or not, according to testing performed by the Wall Street Journal

According to tests of more than 70 apps using software to monitor internet communications, the Journal found that “the apps often send the data without any prominent or specific disclosure,” and that “Facebook software collects data from many apps even if no Facebook account is used to log in and if the end user isn’t a Facebook member.

Eleven of the apps tested sent Facebook “potentially sensitive information about how users behaved or actual data they entered.”

For example, Flo Health Inc.’s “Period & Ovulation Tracker” – which boasts 25 million active users, was sending Facebook information on when women were having their periods – or indicated their desire to get pregnant, according to the tests. 

Note: After being contacted by the Journal, Flo said it has ‘substantially limited’ data sharing with third-party analytics services.

Source: Wall Street Journal testing of the app

Other apps found sending Facebook information include; Instant Heart Rate: HR MOnitor, Realtor.com’s app, “at least six of the top 15 health and fitness apps” and BetterMe: Weight Loss Workouts” 

Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which operate the two dominant app stores, don’t require apps to disclose all the partners with whom data is shared. Users can decide not to grant permission for an app to access certain types of information, such as their contacts or locations. But these permissions generally don’t apply to the information users supply directly to apps, which is sometimes the most personal.

In the Journal’s testing, Instant Heart Rate: HR Monitor, the most popular heart-rate app on Apple’s iOS, made by California-based Azumio Inc., sent a user’s heart rate to Facebook immediately after it was recorded. (more…)

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ZeroHedge: MIT: The Energy System Of The Future Is Closer Than We Think

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Submitted by OilPrice.com

Thanks to continuously declining costs, a hybrid renewable electricity generation system that combines wind, solar, and storage could become competitive with the cheapest fossil fuel electricity in the United States—combined-cycle natural gas generation, an MIT professor suggests.

John Deutch, an Institute Professor at MIT, has recently presented a study, ‘Demonstrating Near Carbon Free Electricity Generation from Renewables and Storage’, at an energy seminar at Stanford University.

According to Deutch, the best way to see if the hybrid electric systems (HES) of wind, solar, and storage could compete in costs with natural gas-fired electricity generation is to organize a large-scale demonstration to show if those HES could meet electricity demand of a relatively large service area “rather than rely on government sponsored large scale demonstration projects or regulatory mandates compelling deployment of storage.”

“Uncharacteristically I have been an optimist—I am an optimist—about this, and I believe we are very close to having an economically competitive triad—wind, solar and storage—to produce electricity at a cost as low as the cheapest fossil alternative, which is natural gas combined cycle,” Deutch said during his presentation. “We are close to having this be a commercial operation.”

The large-scale demonstration would show the private sector if those hybrid systems could be competitive, he said, noting that the base analysis was made for the ERCOT service area in Texas, and additional studies were made for Iowa and Massachusetts.

According to Deutch, Puerto Rico and Hawaii could be suitable places for energy developers to show HES viability. The MIT scientist proposes developers to bid for 20-year contracts with a utility and all the government has to do is to ensure a ‘regulatory wrap’ to allow the project.

“Wind plus solar plus storage is going to be here and it’s going to be here soon,” Deutch said.

The job now is to decide how we are going to make progress on that and how to get the private sector to deploy that in the shortest period of time, he added.

(more…)

via zerohedge