Protecting environmental quality

Last time we saw how technology allows us to use more fossil fuels and have a cleaner environment. Now let’s turn to the role of laws in protecting and improving environmental quality.

The importance of thresholds

One of the motivators of the technology improving environmental quality is having laws that protect individuals from having their environment contaminated by other people. Proper pollution laws set thresholds of health and safety.

When we discuss policy we’ll talk about the trade-offs involved in setting those laws. For example, you can’t demand a perfectly zero emissions environment, which would mean among other things not allowing other people to breathe. Human diseases are actually much more dangerous than the emissions from the machines that we use.

We need laws that recognize that some amount of emissions is inevitable so that we have the right to produce and use energy but at the same time we need laws to protect our health and safety.

All forms of energy can threaten environmental quality

This is not just an issue for fossil fuels. All forms of energy can pose a threat to environmental quality without proper technology and laws. For example, producing wind turbines involves rare earth metals, which are highly toxic and can make the people mining them very sick and they can also be very hazardous when you need to dispose of the materials.

We need environmental laws and health and safety laws for every form of energy. Remember, every form of energy has potential benefits and potential risks. None are completely perfect, although some are better in different respects than others.

We need to look at the full context and we need to look at it carefully.

RELATED ARTICLE: Scott Pruitt’s Mission to Make EPA Operate More Efficiently

Broward County Sheriff’s Office Training Materials Say First One or Two Officers on Scene should ‘Confront the Shooter’

‘Remember, every time you hear a gunshot in an active shooter incident; you have to believe that is another victim being killed.’ 

Four Officers on Scene at February 14 Parkland Shooting Did Not Enter School Building 

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch today released Broward County Sheriff’s Office training and operation materials that specifically dictate that the first one or two officers on the scene of an active shooter incident “will immediately go to confront the shooter.”

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office’s Standard Operating Procedure and lesson plans for an active shooter incident were obtained by Judicial Watch via a Florida Sunshine Act records request.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that armed school resource officer Deputy Scot Peterson was first on the scene of the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, but he did not enter the school to confront shooter Nikolas Cruz.

Three other deputies also arrived on the scene but did not enter, the sheriff’s office said. The Broward County materials direct that if four officers are on the scene of an active shooter incident they are to form a “Quad” formation and enter the building.

The lesson plan instructs officers to immediately confront a shooter:

History shows when a suspect is confronted by any armed individual (police, security, concealed carry person) they either shoot it out with that person or kill themselves. Either way, the shooting of innocent bystanders must stop. Now, the first officer or two officers on scene will immediately go to confront the shooter. Military tactics work well in this situation. The two man “bounding overwatch” is our response.

Using lessons learned from Columbine (the 1999 high school massacre where officers waited for a SWAT team and allowed two shooters to continue) the first four responding officers are directed to form a “Quad” and approach from all directions:

During Columbine, the response to an ongoing shooting situation was to contain the suspect. After Columbine the International Chiefs of Police addressed the problem with the response and came up with the “Quad” or diamond formation. With the quad, the first four officers to respond entered the building with coverage in all directions. This was critical to address the concerns of officers who previously would not enter and just wait for SWAT.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said during a news conference that “What I saw was a deputy [Peterson] arrive … take up a position and he never went in.” Israel said Peterson should have “went in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer.”

The lesson plan clearly states: “If you are on scene or in the area and hear gunshots, you should immediately access what you have and prepare to respond. Remember, every time you hear a gunshot in an active shooter incident; you have to believe that is another victim being killed.”

The training materials also state that the first officers on the scene will “engage the suspect,” which Peterson did not do. “There are now three teams during Active Shooter Incident [Contact, Extraction and Rescue Task Force]: Contact Team: Is first on scene, 1-4 deputies, they will be actively engaging/searching for suspect (HOT ZONE).”

The lesson plan lists “priorities of life” as: 1) Hostages/victims; 2) Innocent Bystanders; 3) Police/deputies; and 4) Suspects. “If in doubt about going through the door after a suspect, think about the victims and where they stand on the list.”

The importance of a fast and effective response is emphasized: “Time is critical in each of these incidents. This is like no other crime. The motive is to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. Why? Because the bad guy knows ‘we’ are coming.”

An exercise designed for a lone deputy on the scene of an active shooting is intended to “get the deputy moving towards the gunfire, passing dead students and others running by him.” However, “there is no reason to give up a good position of cover” if the shooting has stopped. “Remember the cavalry is on their way, so it’s better to hold, than to expose yourself to unknown threats.”

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office Standard Operating Procedure states:

“If real time intelligence exists the sole deputy or a team of deputies may enter the area and/or structure to preserve life. A supervisor’s approval or on-site observation is not required for this decision…. If the situation turns to a barricade or hostage situation the response team will contain, isolate, communicate and wait for SWAT.”

Records obtained by Judicial Watch also show that Sheriff Israel is the second highest paid of Florida’s 67 sheriffs at $186,631 for Fiscal Year 2017/18. The sheriff was eligible for $2,000 in supplemental pay for completion of a 20-hour training course. In 2016, Israel received a warning letter that he had not successfully completed the course and his supplemental pay was being withheld.

“These Broward County Sheriff’s Office documents obtained by Judicial Watch show that the law enforcement agency failed the victims of the Parkland shooting,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Lives were lost in Parkland because the Sheriff’s Office personnel were either poorly trained or failed to follow training protocols.”

INFOGRAPHIC: A Revolutionary Way to Get Funded — ICO Roundups

Initial coin offerings, or ICOs for short, are the latest craze in the cryptocurrency world. Despite being just a couple of years old, ICOs have managed to attract a lot of attention. It seems that in the past few months every news outlet had something to say about them, both good and bad. Some praise them for enabling startups to receive funds quickly, but some people despise ICOs because of their unregulated and fraudulent nature. However, one thing is for sure; they have revolutionized how projects receive funding.

While no one can argue that ICOs are flawless, a case can be made that they offer more pros than cons. Sure, ICOs have little, if any, regulatory oversight, and their track record is riddled with thefts, frauds, and failures. However, without them, we wouldn’t have Ethereum, the second biggest cryptocurrency right now, as well as numerous other new-technology startups. Judging ICOs based on the failed projects and without acknowledging their advantages creates a false image. After all, even some traditionally funded projects have turned out to be frauds.

Therefore, to avoid any future confusion, we at BTXchange.io have created this ICO round-up infographic. You can find information about the good and the bad side of this revolutionary way to get funded. Enjoy.

The Government Relies on Flawed Data to Determine Endangered Species

Americans who live in or near a community built around a lake should be careful about stepping outside to mow the lawn if the temperature isn’t just right and the grass isn’t a certain height.

They should keep pets indoors. They should forget about using weed killer. And they should be prepared to pony up a steep homeowners association fee.

That’s because there may be snakes in the area protected by the Endangered Species Act of 1973, which imposes stiff penalties and fines for violating its rules and restrictions.

Rob Gordon, a senior research fellow with The Heritage Foundation, discovered the situation while researching the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 1999 decision to list the Lake Erie water snake as a “threatened” species.

The Fish and Wildlife Service estimated the population of that particular water snake to be somewhere between 1,530 and 2,030 at the time. But just a few years later, the agency revised it to 5,690.

The government either made a “substantial underestimation” with the initial listing or the water snake had “a truly miraculous population growth rate” in a short time, Gordon observes in a recently published research paper that finds the listing process under the Endangered Species Act to be riddled with “erroneous data.”

Gordon concludes that “essentially half of the species” identified by Fish and Wildlife Service officials as “recovered” never should have been listed in the first place.

The regulatory fallout for developers, homeowners, and business owners who run up against the endangered species law is the same regardless of whether federal officials used sound science or flawed methodology, Gordon told The Daily Signal in an interview.

“Once a species is listed, it is regulated and the way it’s regulated doesn’t vary dependent upon the quality of the data the agency used,” Gordon said. “If one listing is legitimate and another listing is illegitimate based on erroneous data, the practical consequences are the same to the property owner or the business owner. He or she still faces the same restrictions whether or not these restrictions are legitimately based on science.”

After reviewing the Fish and Wildlife Service’s documentation in the case of the Lake Erie water snake, Gordon found the agency worked to impose “surreal regulatory hurdles” against a developer who sought to build seven houses on 15 acres.

The Fish and Wildlife Service called for easements to be placed on over five acres of lakefront property that would be donated to a nonprofit organization. The agency also sought a $50,000 “contribution” from the developer to cover construction of a hibernation habitat for the snakes, and creation of a homeowners association that would impose additional restrictions.

‘Federally Funded Fiction’

The case of the Lake Erie water snake “is a small example of the heavy-handed regulatory process for just one of the nearly 1,700 listed species to which landowners and businesses are repeatedly subject across the nation,” Gordon writes in his paper.

Although the government delisted the snake in 2011, numerous restrictions popped up in the meantime.

Homeowners association restrictions stipulated that residents make sure no snake was within 20 feet when applying weed killer to poison ivy, that they not allow cats outside, and that they abide by seasonal height and temperature guidelines for mowing lawns. Collectively, residents also had to provide up to $18,750 for snake research, and allow researchers to have access to their properties.

“This seems really over the top, doesn’t it?” Gordon asked in the interview with The Daily Signal. “And keep in mind that the snake’s actual population numbers were probably undercounted in the first place.”

Gordon describes the recovery figures that Fish and Wildlife officials cite as “federally funded fiction” that dramatically inflate the number of species that genuinely were endangered and subsequently preserved.

“With all the ESA’s costs and burdens, it should perhaps come as no surprise that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is fabricating success stories to cover up this unsustainable mess and substituting fluff for statutorily required reporting regarding the recovery program,” he writes of the law in his paper.

The errors that result in listing species that are not genuinely endangered stem in large part from the “low bar for scientific data” set by the agency, Gordon concluded.

The Endangered Species Act calls for the “best available scientific and commercial data” to be used in the listing process. But here’s the problem, from Gordon’s point of view: Fish and Wildlife officials interpreted this directive to mean the information underpinning a listing doesn’t need to be complete or accurate.

“The agency has not set a high enough bar and sometimes they are using scant or even nonexistent data to list species,” Gordon told The Daily Signal. “They are using speculation and surmise as opposed to verifiable data, and in some instances they won’t even share the data. It’s no wonder that consequently all sorts of species are erroneously listed. That’s what happens when you have weak data standards.”

How bad is the problem?

Of 1,662 plants and animals listed by the Fish and Wildlife Service as either “endangered” or “threatened” in the past 45 years, the government had removed 68 before Gordon published his paper in April.

Of those 68, 11 were removed from the list because they had gone extinct and 19 were removed because of errors in the original data. That leaves 38 species delisted because they were “recovered.”

Taxpayers on Hook for ‘Deceitful Practices’

Under the Endangered Species Act, the conservation process involves “the use of all methods and procedures which are necessary to bring any endangered species or threatened species to the point at which the measures provided … are no longer necessary.”

Endangered species are considered to be at the brink of extinction, while threatened species are considered likely to be so in the near future.

Gordon initially determined that “almost half” of the 38 species listed as “recovered” were actually “false recoveries” because they were based upon original data error.

However, since his paper was published three more species have been delisted and he has concluded that two—the lesser long-nosed bat and the black-capped vireo—were listed based on erroneous data.

For this reason, he now says “essentially half” of the species the Fish and Wildlife Service identified as recovered are not genuine recoveries.

Gordon says he also found other examples of “recovered” species that are really “mixed bags,” meaning the number of recoveries resting on erroneous data could be much higher.

(The full list of delisted species is available here.)

The Daily Signal sought comment from the Interior Department and the Fish and Wildlife Service on Gordon’s findings and whether Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke might consider his recommended reforms. Officials had not responded as of publication.

Unfortunately, U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill for “deceitful practices that portray mistakes as successes,” Gordon told The Daily Signal.

That’s because each listing sets in motion mandatory actions and government expenditures under federal law, he said.

For instance, according to Gordon’s paper, the Fish and Wildlife Service reported in 2014 that the “median cost for preparing and publishing a 90-day finding is $39,276; for a 12-month finding, $100,690; for a proposed rule with critical habitat, $345,000; and for a final listing rule with critical habitat, $305,000.”

“These are just the paperwork costs and the bureaucratic costs of listing species whether they were legitimately listed or if they were listed based on erroneous data,” he told The Daily Signal. “But they are a drop in the bucket compared to the costs borne by private parties such as companies, farmers, and ranchers who have to comply with all kinds of mandates and have to absorb the loss in the value of their land because of their inability to use it and other significant opportunity costs.”

Special Interest Groups Drive Litigation

Gordon points to restrictions the Fish and Wildlife officials sought to impose to protect the Lake Erie water snake as an example of excessively burdensome costs.

Gordon’s paper was the subject of a panel discussion April 25 at The Heritage Foundation where he was joined by Rob Roy Ramey, a wildlife biologist based in Denver, and Jonathan Wood, a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation who specializes in environmental and constitutional law.

Ramey called for greater openness and transparency on the part of federal officials and suggested that all the data Fish and Wildlife officials use in their decisions to list species should be made public.

“That way we have a common currency of accountability available to the entire nation,” Ramey said at the Heritage event. Without access to the data, he said, “there’s no opportunity for reproducibility,” which means listing and delisting decisions may not be based on the best scientific information.

Ramey cited several examples of responses from government officials who resisted information requests. His personal favorite came from a “rogue recovery team member” who said:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service data was deliberately provided in a format that would not facilitate detailed analysis by those unfamiliar with the manner in which the data was collected.

Other examples included “the data you requested are proprietary,” “we are still using this data,” and “those data may no longer exist.”

Ramey warned that Fish and Wildlife officials who have “cherry-picked” and “fabricated” data to list species as endangered or threatened drew resources away from creatures in genuine need of protection, such as blue whales, California condors, rhinoceroses, and gorillas.

Wood, the lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation, a nonprofit headquartered in Sacramento, California, credited Gordon with research that shows how often examples of species recovery touted as successes for the Endangered Species Act “are little more than fake news.”

Special interest groups play a role in the listing process, Wood said at the Heritage event.

“What really drives the Endangered Species Act is litigation,” he said. “The reality is that the listing process is fundamentally broken, it is completely litigation driven, and it is a problem for administrations regardless of party.”

The Obama administration sought to develop a work plan to “seize some control back” over the listing process, Wood told the audience, so that key factors such as a species’ actual vulnerability would be considered and a listing would not be the result of “which special interest group is yelling the loudest.”

Potential Reforms for Interior Department

In his research, Gordon highlighted examples of listings where the initial count of a species population was dramatically off based on flawed methodology. He cited the Monito gecko during his talk at Heritage.

This lizard resides on Monito Island off the coast of Puerto Rico, which spans about 40 acres surrounded by 217-foot cliffs. The initial search Fish and Wildlife officials used as the basis to list the species in 1982 was organized during the day, when 18 lizards were found.

“The problem here is that the lizard is nocturnal,” Gordon told The Daily Signal. “So, if you are walking around during the middle of the day, you are not going to find it. The creature burrows down into rocks. In 2016, they finally did a proper survey during the evening and they came up with an estimate of about 5,000 to 10,000 geckos. That’s what you call a big difference.”

Gordon spelled out several potential reforms that the Trump administration’s Interior Department could embrace under Zinke’s leadership.

For starters, Zinke could issue an order directing the Fish and Wildlife Service “to accurately identify the data that forms the bases for removing or downlisting species,” Gordon writes in his report.

He also recommends that the agency correct the record and acknowledge instances where a species was wrongly declared to have “recovered.”

“Right now, the Fish and Wildlife Service asserts that the listings are driven by science, but in truth the listings are often driven by litigation and the scientific standards are so weak that they are often listing species as endangered when they should never have been listed,” Gordon said, adding:

The first step in correcting the problem is to admit that it exists. What needs to be done now is to go back and look at species that were claimed as recovered and to put your foot down and acknowledge that many of them were not really recoveries and they were based on erroneous data. Then, going forward, they need to make sure future listings are not based on speculation.

COLUMN BY

Portrait of Kevin Mooney

Kevin Mooney

Kevin Mooney is an investigative reporter for The Daily Signal. Send an email to Kevin. Twitter: @KevinMooneyDC.

Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of U.S Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Meg Marriott, left, trudging with intern Amy Newman to a trapping site for the salt marsh harvest mouse near California’s Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area in this 2011 photo. The mouse was first listed as an endangered species in 1970. (Photo: Aric Crabb/Oakland Tribune/MCT/Newscom)

How State Government fanned the flames of Hawaii’s volcano disaster

Government fanned flames of volcano disaster

by Joe Kent, Grassroot Institute, May 9, 2018

As lava engulfs the homes of many unfortunate Hawaii Island residents, it’s important to remember that the state originally encouraged the building of homes in this dangerous area by offering lava insurance where no private company would.

In the 1990s, the town of  Kalapana was destroyed by lava, and soon afterward, private insurance companies, after suffering millions of dollars in losses, stopped insuring land in Lava Zones 1 and 2.

Lava Zones on Hawaii Island

In response to the absence of private insurance, the state Legislature  created the  Hawaii Property Insurance Association (HPIA), whose job is to provide coverage for homes in areas that private insurance won’t touch.</span

The law  requires private insurance companies to pool their money to subsidize the expense of offering insurance in high-risk lava zones.

HPIA describes itself as a nonprofit association, created to provide basic property insurance for persons unable to purchase homeowners coverage in the private market due to the ongoing volcanic eruption in Lava Zones 1 and 2 on the Island of Hawaii.

Its members are all licensed insurers that write property and casualty insurance in Hawaii, each required to be a member of the HPIA as a condition of their authority to transact business in the state. Together they participate in the writings, expenses, profits and losses of the HPIA, in proportion to their market share of property and casualty insurance written in Hawaii, according to the association.

It adds, “There is no public funding or taxpayers’ monies involved,” but certainly any losses incurred by the HPIA members are passed along to their broader base of Hawaii customers, resulting in an indirect tax.

In any case, ignoring the obvious risks of building homes in active lava zones, the  law stated that any person “who has been unable to obtain basic property insurance from a licensed insurer may apply to the association for coverage.”

This resulted in a boom in the housing market below the active Kilauea volcano.

By 2008, there were more than  2,400 HPIA policies in the area, providing more than $700 million worth of insurance statewide to the highest-risk lava zones on Hawaii Island. At the time, the  Honolulu-Advertiser said Leilani Estates resident Douglas Pase could not find any private company willing to insure the building of his house in the area:

“Pase called various insurance companies to price coverage and said HPIA was the only willing insurer he could find. That was critical because ‘without some way of insuring the house that we would build, building in Leilani would not be an option for us,’ he said. ‘Since no one else would cover it, that becomes really, really important.’”

In economic terms, this created a “moral hazard,” a term which economist Paul Krugman described as “any situation in which one person makes the decision about how much risk to take, while someone else bears the cost if things go badly.”

The moral hazard of this new insurance program gave a false sense of security to homebuilders in Leilani Estates, some of whom were  disappointed to find a gap in their coverage when HPIA issued a  moratorium on new insurance following another lava flow in 2014.

A Pahoa home burns down in a lava flow in 2014.

At the time, Pahoa homeowner Corinne Traylor in  testimony to the Legislature said that she and her husband could no longer refinance their house, and she couldn’t sell it either, “due to the sudden lack of insurance.”

Others said the moratorium was a “market failure” and urged the government to step in to help. Soon afterward, Gov. David Ige signed  Act 32 in 2015, which mandated that the HPIA lift its moratorium and provide lava insurance, further fanning the flames of the moral hazard.

Today, that hazard is very real for families watching their homes be engulfed by magma. What was seen as a “market failure” was really a warning sign to those building in Lava Zones 1 and 2.

If the state had stayed out of the situation, probably fewer families would have built in the area, and today there might be less housing destruction.

After this disaster is over, Hawaii leaders should get out of the way and let the insurance market’s natural price mechanisms work to provide the valuable, even humanitarian, information needed regarding the areas in Hawaii that are simply too dangerous to build in.

RELATED ARTICLE:

2008: Red Hot Lava Menaces Old-boy Scam

The Downside of Regulating Facebook

James L. GattusoThe end result would likely be a shift to a fee-based system, where users would have to pay to use Facebook and other platforms.


In congressional testimony last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he would support regulation of his own company.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and John Kennedy, R-La., have now taken him up on the offer, introducing a bill, S. 2728, to impose broad new restrictions on how Facebook and other social media companies can collect and handle consumer data.

Taking Facebook to Task

The legislation—dubbed the Social Media Privacy Protection and Consumer Rights Act—was no surprise. Klobuchar and Kennedy had made clear weeks ago that they were planning to propose federal intervention in social media markets.

As Kennedy succinctly put it to Zuckerberg: “Your user agreement sucks.”

The goal was to address privacy concerns raised by the acquisition and use of consumer data from Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica data firm.

“We can do it the easy way or the hard way,” Kennedy bluntly stated regarding his regulatory plans, adding, “I do not want to regulate Facebook half to death, but we do have … problems we’ve discovered.”

The bill is a grab bag of mandates and restrictions on how social media networks operate. The most widely discussed provision is a requirement that social media platforms use “plain English” in their user agreements, so consumers can better understand them.

That line was memorable and garnered quite a bit of attention for the Louisiana lawmaker. But the irony is that Congress is hardly in a position to lecture private companies on the plain use of the English language, as anyone who has ever read congressional legislation can attest.

It’s About the Data

The meat of the bill, however, is not linguistics, but limits on the collection of consumer data by Facebook and other social media platforms.

Among its provisions, the bill would require social media networks by law to disable consumer data tracking and collection (when so requested by a user); to provide notice of a data breach within 72 hours; to delete user data when asked; and to provide copies of what has been collected about them.

The end result would likely be a shift to a fee-based system, where users would have to pay to use Facebook.

The bill avoids the most extreme restrictions that have been proposed. It doesn’t ban the use of consumer data, nor does it require an affirmative “opt-in” for such data to be used as a general rule.

But consumers should not celebrate. The Klobuchar-Kennedy plan is likely only the first volley in a probable bidding war over regulating social media networks. Even the mandates in the current bill could threaten the benefits consumers receive from social media platforms.

For instance, by making data more difficult to acquire and to use, advertising revenue may no longer be able to support social media platforms. The end result would likely be a shift to a fee-based system, where users would have to pay to use Facebook and other platforms.

That would be a net loss for most users, who—based on their usage habits—like the free access to social media made possible by advertising revenue.

So far, Facebook has not made a fuss over the proposed new rules. In fact, it has openly supported some of the provisions, including notifications of breaches within 72 hours and the “plain English” requirement.

We Don’t Need a New Law

But this should create no free pass. Regulations making it more difficult to use consumer data often make competition more difficult because smaller rivals may find it harder to absorb the regulatory costs.

The impact of regulations varies, of course, based on the specific regulation, but it’s a danger policymakers should always keep in mind.

Robust laws are already on the books addressing breaches of commitments to consumers.

This doesn’t mean government should do nothing to ensure that an internet-based company such as Facebook complies with its promises to consumers.

If data has been used in violation of commitments made to the users of a platform, the firm should be held accountable for the violation. But that does not necessarily require new regulation.

Robust laws are already on the books addressing breaches of commitments to consumers. Moreover, agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission already have rules that can—and often are—used to enforce privacy commitments.

Consumers can also use state contract law to sue Facebook for any breach of its commitments. No new rules should be imposed without a clear showing that the many existing tools are not already adequate to protect consumer privacy.

This may not be the “easy way” or the “hard way” of making markets work, but it is the right way.

Reprinted from the Daily Signal.

EDITORS NOTE: Many former Facebook users are go to new social media platforms. One of them is MeWe.com.

Same Policies That Failed to Stop Florida Shooter Exist in School Districts Nationwide

Critics of President Donald Trump said his response to the Florida school shooting earlier this year was ill-conceived and a failure.

Yet a new startling revelation from school district officials in Broward County, Florida, shows the White House’s response was indeed appropriate—more than even the Trump administration knew.

On Feb. 14, Nikolas Cruz, a student with a long history of problems in and out of school, allegedly opened fire and claimed the lives of 17 students and adults at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Following the shooting, the Trump administration created a new school safety commission. One of the commission’s assignments is to consider the repeal of student discipline guidelines that the Obama administration issued in 2014.

Cue the negative spin: “Yet again, the Trump administration, faced with a domestic crisis, has responded by creating a commission to study an unrelated issue,” the NAACP told The New York Times.

Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie also dismissed the move, telling Politico, “It goes with the whole narrative that anything under the Obama administration is no good and we have to get rid of it.”

Critics denied that there was a connection between the Parkland shooting, the district’s student discipline policies (called the “PROMISE” program), and federal student discipline guidelines. Cruz was never referred to PROMISE, officials said, so PROMISE couldn’t be to blame.

Runcie said at a press conference, “[Cruz] was never a participant in the PROMISE program” and “[there’s] no connection between Cruz and the district’s PROMISE program.”

As recently as a few weeks ago, Runcie said, “Let me reiterate this point: Nikolas Cruz, the shooter that was involved in this horrific accident at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, had no connection to the PROMISE program.”

But last Sunday, Broward officials admitted Cruz had in fact been referred to PROMISE. To make matters worse, school officials cannot say whether Cruz actually attended the required sessions or if anyone tried to account for his absence.

The school district should clarify whether officials referred Cruz again to PROMISE based on his behavior in high school, and if not, why.

Cruz’s first referral was for vandalizing a bathroom in middle school, but The Washington Post reports that Cruz continued to display troubling behavior in high school. He made a threat and committed assault while a student at Stoneman Douglas—both offenses that would make him eligible for PROMISE.

The news that Cruz had been referred to PROMISE is critical because the PROMISE program and the Obama administration’s 2014 federal guidelines were announced with much fanfare and take similar approaches to dealing with student behavior.

At the PROMISE launch, Education Week reports, “Community members lauded the board and Runcie for their work, and its passage received a standing ovation.” NPR said, “Civil rights and education activists say the policy can be a model for the nation.”

Central to both documents is the idea that school personnel and law enforcement should limit student interaction with the justice system. Both documents also say school personnel and law enforcement should use exclusionary discipline such as suspensions and expulsions as a last resort.

Earlier this year, my research documented these and other philosophical and practical similarities between the 2014 federal guidelines and PROMISE.

Runcie went as far as to say that PROMISE inspired the federal guidelines in the first place. In a 2014 interview, he said, “Some of my staff joke that the Obama administration might have taken our policies and framework and developed them into national guidelines.”

Runcie was later featured at a 2015 White House event on school discipline.

Broward County officials must now explain to grieving families that the school discipline strategy they called “the most comprehensive thinking available to address socially unacceptable or illegal behavior” failed to stop a school shooting.

Meanwhile, dozens of school systems around the country are following the federal guidelines. This widespread adoption and the terrifying failure of PROMISE makes the White House’s call to rescind federal guidelines that mirror PROMISE a timely and fitting response to Parkland.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Jonathan Butcher

Jonathan Butcher is a senior policy analyst in The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy and a senior fellow for the Goldwater Institute and the Beacon Center of Tennessee. Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLES:

Parkland Shooter Was Assigned To Obama-Era Program, Superintendent Lied, Report

Reports Show Obama-Era Policies May Have Eroded School Safety in Broward County

Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Broward County Sheriff Steve Israel speaking before the start of a CNN town hall meeting on Feb. 21, 2018. (Photo: Michael Laughlin/TNS/Newscom)

VIDEO: Billions Have Suffered ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ in Reverse Thanks to Overpopulation Myths

Chelsea Follett
Population panic has motivated far more forced sterilizations than even the Nazi ideology did.

by Chelsea Follett


This week, viewers will get another chance to submerge themselves in the dystopian future created by Margaret Atwood. The Handmaid’s Tale, based on the novel about the government forcing women to bear children to counter a declining population, resonated with audiences across the world.

However, the reverse Handmaid’s Tale—the idea of coercing people to have fewer children—ought to generate just as much outrage. Particularly when that coercion is justified by baseless fears.

“Too Many” People

Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich plays on those fears. His apocalyptic warnings, which started almost 50 years ago, persist despite decades of evidence proving them wrong. Just recently, Ehrlich said the collapse of civilization is a “near certainty” within decades.

“Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born,” he warned in 1969.

Ehrlich’s jeremiad led to human rights abuses around the world, including millions of forced sterilizations as well as China’s draconian “one child” policy.

Then he said, “Sometime in the next 15 years, the end will come. And by ‘the end’ I mean an utter breakdown of the capacity of the planet to support humanity.”

Unfortunately, many people still believe him.

His 1968 best-seller The Population Bomb incited global panic with claims that out-of-control population growth would deplete resources, bringing about widespread starvation. Ehrlich’s jeremiad led to human rights abuses around the world, including millions of forced sterilizations in Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and India—as well as China’s draconian “one child” policy. In 1975, officials sterilized 8 million men and women in India alone. The sheer scale of this authoritarian nightmare is difficult to imagine.

To put that in perspective, Hitler’s Germany forcibly sterilized 300,000 to 400,000 people. In other words, Ehrlich’s unfounded fears have motivated far more forced sterilizations than even the Nazi ideology did.

Such abuses aren’t confined to past decades: In 2012, India’s Supreme Court found that “unrealistic targets have been set for sterilization procedures with the result that non-consensual and forced sterilizations are taking place.” And even today, China limits couples to having no more than two children.

Bowdoin College’s Sarah Conly published a book claiming it is “morally permissible” for the government to limit family sizes through force.

Back at home, many prominent American environmentalists—from Johns Hopkins University bioethicist Travis Rieder to entertainer Bill Nye “The Science Guy”—support tax penalties or other state-imposed punishments for having “too many” children.

Bowdoin College’s Sarah Conly published a book in 2016 through the Oxford University Press advocating a “one-child” policy, claiming it is “morally permissible” for the government to limit family sizes through force.

Their views are chilling.

We Don’t Need Laws Regulating Birth Rates

Coercing people to have fewer children amounts to pointless suffering. While China’s fertility rate fell under the “one-child” policy, fertility rates fell just as swiftly in neighboring countries without despotic anti-child laws. It is now well-documented that as countries grow richer and people escape poverty, they opt for smaller families—a phenomenon called the fertility transition.

It is almost unheard of for a country to maintain a high fertility rate after it passes about $5,000 in per-person annual income.

Many people, like tycoon Elon Musk, now worry that the world will produce too few, rather than too many, children—echoing the situation in the dystopian Gilead. Demographers, indeed, estimate the population will decrease in the long run, after peaking around the year 2070.

As production increased, prices fell, and calorie consumption rose. Hunger is in retreat. Human ingenuity proved to be the “ultimate resource.”

The evidence isn’t on the overpopulation alarmists’ side. The doomsayers don’t take into account the fertility transition. More importantly, they fail to understand that more people can mean more prosperity.

As economist Julian Simon noted, “Whatever the rate of population growth is, historically it has been that the food supply increases at least as fast, if not faster.”

Since Ehrlich began preaching about overpopulation-induced Armageddon, the number of people on the planet has more than doubled. Yet yearly, famine deaths have declined by millions.

Recent famines are caused by war, not exhaustion of natural resources. As production increased, prices fell, and calorie consumption rose. Hunger is in retreat. Human ingenuity proved to be the “ultimate resource,” as Simon put it.

Tyrannical population-control measures are not only repugnant but also senseless. So while you’re watching Season 2, keep in mind that the reverse of The Handmaid’s Tale is just as horrifying—and it has supporters trying to make it a reality.

Reprinted from Human Progress; this first appeared in USA Today.

Chelsea Follett

Chelsea Follett

Chelsea Follet works at the Cato Institute as a Researcher and Managing Editor of HumanProgress.org.

RELATED ARTICLE: What 19 in 20 Americans Don’t Know About World Poverty

Leading Economist Now Says Trump Policies Are Restoring America’s Economy

Sean Snaith is not a household name but he is one of the nation’s top economists and highly regarded in economic circles for the depth and accuracy of his projections.

So much so that he is on multiple national economic forecasting panels, including The Wall Street Journal’s Economic Forecasting Survey, the Associated Press’ Economy Survey, CNNMoney.com’s Survey of Leading Economists, USA Today’s Survey of Top Economists, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Survey of Professional Forecasters, Bloomberg and Reuters.

All this is stated upfront because what he says rightly carries weight in a lot of influential circles, and probably should outside those circles. And he is now supremely optimistic about the American economy going forward.

He made projections last year he said were based on the assumption of a Hillary Clinton victory and her policies being instituted — because that is what all of the political pundits told him. When Trump won, he says, he had to re-think things. He went back to the drawing board and began a new set of calculations which he is constantly updating. The differences are dramatically better for the American economy and the American worker.

In fact, to hear Snaith speak recently to a large Florida economic development group, its almost jarring how much of a MAGA Trumper he sounds like — well, on economic policies anyway. And the projections he announced were almost goose-bumpy good.

Snaith said the tax cuts and deregulatory efforts will generate a 3.5 percent national GDP this year — much higher than at any point since before the Great Recession — and will remain very strong at least through 2020. He said this is more where the American economy should be and will be (barring any major, unforeseen disruptions.)

That has positive implications for American workers. The jobless rate is hovering at about 4 percent right now, but he predicted that as policies really start generating economic activity, the unemployment rate will fall to 3.4 percent by late 2020 — and that is even as the labor participation rate increases. So even as more Americans re-enter the job market after giving up for the past six years or more, they will all be absorbed into new jobs, plus some.

This tight labor market means there will be competitive market pressures driving wages and salaries specifically at the lower ends to begin with. In fact, that is already beginning to happen.

“Markets are magical and will solve the labor problem” by increasing wages to attract workers, he said. “The lowest end jobs are seeing the fasted income growth rate right now.”

Snaith, director of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness, said there are two driving policies at work here. The Tax Cut and Jobs Act and the ongoing regulatory relief.

The key elements of the tax reform package boosting the economy include: lower income tax rates; higher standard deductions; expansion of the child tax credit; reducing the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world from 35 percent to 21 percent; tax breaks for small businesses; and a one-time tax break to 15.5 percent to repatriate American companies’ offshore profits — which Apple already announced they will take advantage of to the tune of $252 billion.

The tax package will increase take-home pay for American workers — something that has not happened since President Bush was in office — and will generate more consumer spending, stimulating the economy and GDP growth. American companies will be more apt to keep their profits at home and reinvest a portion of them — several have already announced their intentions with plant expansions and sharp increases in employee pay.

But Snaith sees deregulation as every bit as important because of the tremendous drag that excess regulation places on companies and the economy. “Deregulation is the special sauce that will juice the economy,” Snaith said.

The Code of Federal Regulations exploded from 140,000 pages in 2005 to 185,000 today, he said. Those endless rules strangled the economy by trillions of dollars as companies spend so many resources on compliance rather than innovation, expansion and employee pay. Last year, the Trump administration took 22 deregulatory actions for every one new regulation, saving about $8 billion in regulatory compliance costs alone.

Interestingly, Snaith is not worried about a trade war undercutting his economic projections because he does not think there will be one.

“Are we going to have a trade war? My answer is no. Everybody knows that no one wins in a trade war,” he said. However, he thinks that some of the nation’s trade deals do need renegotiating because they were unbalanced, and China was cheating on them.

“If you are a manufacturer, you are not on an even playing field with China,” he said.

Snaith is about as mainstream as you can get in the economics field. And his projections record is stellar. His optimism is worth paying attention to.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Revolutionary Act. Please visit The Revolutionary Act’s YouTube Channel.

Small Business Confidence Way Up in the Trump Era

This week, America is celebrating the annual National Small Business Week.

Highlighting the vital contribution of small businesses to the U.S. economy, President Donald Trump proclaimed that “small business owners embody the American pioneering spirit and remind us that determination can turn aspiration into achievement.”

Indeed, small businesses are critical assets to the economy. Defined as firms employing fewer than 500 employees, they play a huge role in America’s $20 trillion economy.

There are nearly 30 million small businesses in the United States, employing about half of the private workforce, according to the Small Business Administration.

Small businesses are also a proven source for job creation. Historically, they have generated two out of every three net new jobs created in America

In his recent proclamation honoring small business, Trump elaborated:

My administration worked with the Congress to enact a tax-relief plan that provides small businesses with hundreds of billions in additional tax cuts.

Moreover, we remain focused on eliminating unnecessary and unduly burdensome regulations, which hurt hardworking Americans. …

As we usher in a new era of American prosperity, my administration will continue to implement a pro-growth agenda based on policies that champion small business creation and growth, giving more Americans the opportunity to start, scale, and succeed in businesses of their own.

As documented in The Heritage Foundation’s annual Index of Economic Freedom, economic freedom is the vital link between opportunity and prosperity. The overarching objective of economic policies should be to create an environment that provides the best chance of translating opportunity into prosperity, enhancing economic dynamism.

The index’s findings over the past two decades have shown that such economic dynamism can be sustained when governments adopt economic policies that empower individuals and firms with more choices, thereby encouraging greater business creation and growth.

According to a recent survey, confidence among America’s small business owners remains near an all-time high, perhaps reflecting the Trump administration’s significant pro-growth economic reforms to date.

Yet, the administration’s trade policies have generated a considerable degree of uncertainty. Maintaining the freedom to trade—both exporting and importing—is particularly important for small businesses, which generate more than 97 percent of all trade activity.

At a recent Heritage Foundation event that unveiled the 2018 Index of Economic Freedom, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross acknowledged the importance of enhancing America’s economic freedom.

By better aligning trade policy with its tax and regulatory reform agendas that brush off government intervention, the Trump administration can advance the economic freedom that is critical to further nurturing America’s small businesses.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Anthony B. Kim

Anthony B. Kim researches international economic issues at The Heritage Foundation, with a strong focus on economic freedom. Kim is the research manager of the Index of Economic Freedom, the flagship product of the Heritage Foundation in partnership with The Wall Street Journal. Read his research. Twitter: .

Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is by shapecharge/Getty Images.

Sanctuary Cities Protect Crooked Employers & Human Traffickers: Exploitation of the vulnerable is anything but ‘compassionate’

We have all heard the bogus claim that “Sanctuary Cities” and “Sanctuary States” protect the “immigrants” from ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents and that the mayors of sanctuary cities are being compassionate.

There is no compassion to be found in exploitation

In reality, politicians who create and support sanctuary policies are every bit as disgusting and exploitative of illegal aliens as are human traffickers and unscrupulous employers who intentionally hire illegal aliens and benefit by sanctuary policies and, indeed those human traffickers and employers of illegal aliens are being provided with “sanctuary” and are being shielded from detection by ICE.

Mayors and governors of “sanctuary” jurisdictions are actually “partners in crime” with human traffickers and exploitive employers.

Before we go further, however, it is imperative to lay waste to that the false claim that mayors of sanctuary cities protect immigrants from immigration law enforcement agents.

Lies about sanctuary policies being motivated by “compassion” creates a hostile environment and antipathy for ICE agents and Border Patrol agents that impedes them from locating and arresting aliens who violate our immigration laws, but also makes it far more difficult for ICE and Border Patrol agents to engage with the public to develop actionable intelligence.

This hostility also endangers their safety (reportedly physical attacks on immigration law enforcement personnel have more than doubled in the past couple of years).

Let’s be clear, Immigrants need no protection from immigration law enforcement authorities.

Lawful immigrants and nonimmigrant aliens who have been admitted for a temporary visit under the aegis of various forms of visas, need no protection from immigration law enforcement authorities unless they violate the terms of their admission. They were lawfully admitted into the United States by CBP (Customs and Border Protection) inspectors in the first place.

Lawful immigrants who were have been granted lawful permanent residence in the United States and/or nonimmigrant (temporary visitors) who abide by their terms of lawful admission need no protection from immigration law enforcement officers.

Lawful immigrants only become subject to deportation (removal) is if they are convicted of committing serious crimes.

However, aliens who evade the inspections process conducted at ports of entry enter the United States without inspection should be fearful of detection, arrest and deportation (removal).

In point of fact, the fundamental law that underlies the decisions made by CBP (Customs and Border Protection) inspectors at ports of entry as to whether or not to admit a foreign visitors into the United States is Title 8 U.S. Code § 1182 – Inadmissible aliens.

That section of law is contained within the Immigration and Nationality Act and enumerates the grounds for excluding aliens from the United States and includes aliens infected with dangerous communicable diseases, suffer from extreme mental illness and are prone to violence, aliens who are criminals, human rights violators, war criminals, spies or terrorists.

Finally that list also includes aliens who would likely become public charges or provide unfair competition for American workers and would either displace American workers or cause suppression of wages and have a deleterious impact on working conditions.

Nothing in that statute that makes any distinctions about the race, religion or ethnicity of aliens.

Aliens who evade the inspection process conducted at ports of entry do so because they know that they fall into one or more categories of aliens who, by law, would be inadmissable.

In the past I have written about how Sanctuary Cities Betray America and Americans and that by shielding illegal aliens from detection by ICE agents prevents those agents from discovering the human traffickers and other criminals who enabled those aliens to gain entry into the United States and perhaps, in the parlance of the 9/11 Commission, embed themselves in communities around the United States.

Sanctuary jurisdictions attract large number of illegal aliens including transnational gang members, international terrorists or fugitives from other countries because they know that local police, in those jurisdictions, will not report them to immigration law enforcement authorities even if they are arrested for committing crimes in those jurisdictions.

Transnational gangs invariably set up shop among immigrants from their home countries who live within the ethnic immigrant communities,  This is not only true for gangs from Latin America but from all over the world.  Human nature is universal and criminals can be found within every ethnic immigrant community.

In point of fact, the most likely victims of the crimes of these pernicious gangs are the members of these ethnic immigrant communities who often immigrated to the United States to get away from these very same criminals, only to find that they are now, once again, forced to live with them.

Sanctuary Cities also attract huge numbers of foreign workers who, because of their desperation, are willing to take whatever risks that they must in order to evade detection from the United States to take jobs in the United States, confident that sanctuary policies will shield them from ICE.

This incentivizes illegal immigration and, consequently, overwhelms Border Patrol resources to secure our borders.  This further undermines national security and public safety in violation of 8 U.S. Code § 1324 which, deems the following actions to constitute felonies:

(iii) knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, conceals, harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, such alien in any place, including any building or any means of transportation;

(iv) encourages or induces an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of law; or

(v)

(I) engages in any conspiracy to commit any of the preceding acts, or

(II) aids or abets the commission of any of the preceding acts, shall be punished as provided in subparagraph (B).

When I was an INS agent, particularly when I was assigned to the Anti-Smuggling Unit in New York City many of the female illegal aliens we encountered told me that they took birth control pills for several months before they made their attempt to run our borders because they anticipated that they would be raped by the smugglers.

Today the level of violence perpetrated against these smuggled aliens by human traffickers has increased exponentially as the drug cartel and violent gangs became more involved in human trafficking, virtually cornering the market of this pernicious and violent “trade.”

Considering the extreme that these illegal aliens will go to in order to enter the United States, it is clear that they will also endure extreme exploitation by employers who intentionally hire them.

Sanctuary Cities provide a veritable “army” of readily exploitable illegal alien workers who are sought after by unscrupulous employers who eagerly hire alien workers they can exploit, paying them substandard wages under substandard, indeed, dangerous conditions that lawful immigrants and American workers would never tolerate.

The obvious question then, that must be asked, is why would a mayor or governor declare his/her city or state to be a “Sanctuary” given that this runs contrary to law, commonsense, morality and even the findings and recommendations of the 9/11 Commission that determined that multiple failures of the immigration system enabled foreign terrorists to enter the United States and then embed themselves in communities around the U.S.

A good place to start looking for the answer to that question can be found in the headline of a February 28, 2018 Breitbart news reportNY City Officials Hide Huge Workforce of Illegal Immigrants from ICE Enforcement.

Clearly sanctuary policies attract huge numbers of illegal aliens who entered the U.S. without inspection and often with the assistance of human traffickers- at great risk and expense, to seek illegal employment.

Employers who intentionally hire illegal aliens do so, not out of compassion, but out of greed.

Such unscrupulous employers hire illegal aliens because they know that these aliens will work for significantly substandard wages under substandard, indeed, often illegally hazardous working conditions.  Exploitation is not a demonstration of compassion.

Alan Greenspan included in his prepared testimony at an April 30, 2009 Senate Immigration Subcommittee hearing on Comprehensive Immigration Reform chaired by Sen. Schumer, the following:

Some evidence suggests that unskilled illegal immigrants (almost all from Latin America) marginally suppress wage levels of native-born Americans without a high school diploma, and impose significant costs on some state and local governments.

Greenspan blithely neglected to note that “marginally suppressing wages” of those American workers all too often causes them to become homeless.

Furthermore, as was noted in the Breitbart article which focused on NYC,

The huge labor force of illegals has successfully kept food-industry wages extremely low, according to 2017 state data, despite the high cost of living in the city.

The report went on to state:

The taxpayers’ cost of this illegal immigration is high, partly because of the very low wages. In 2009, New York city’s support for illegal immigrants — including aid, education, housing — cost taxpayers roughly $9.5 billion, according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

On December 6, 2007 the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) issued a report, The Impact of Unauthorized Immigrants on the Budgets of State and Local Governments.

Cheap labor is anything but cheap and, as the saying goes, there is no such thing as a “free lunch.”

RELATED ARTICLES:

More than 56 per cent of crimes in German town are committed by asylum seekers

Syrian refugees sue landlord and feds over housing complaints

16 Blockchain Disruptions [Infographic]

Blockchain technology is probably one of the most impactful discoveries in the recent history. After all, it has a massive potential to change how we handle online transactions. Despite some skeptics, the majority of experts agree that blockchain has the potential to disrupt the banking and financial industry, and many other ones!

But what is this technology exactly? We at BitFortune.net will try to explain that in Layman’s terms, as well as provide you with insights into how different industries can benefit from blockchain.

To put it simply, blockchain enables decentralized transactions across a P2P network. There is no need for a middleman, resulting in almost instantaneous operations and most importantly, low fees. Plus, transactions carried out through a blockchain are much more secure, transparent, and private.

As mentioned earlier, different industries will have different benefits from implementing blockchain technology, and that is what this infographic is all about. For example, the banking sector will get faster transactions, lower costs, improved security, and better record keeping. Also, the blockchain technology can improve electronic voting systems. With this technology integrated into a voting system, governments won’t be able to tamper with votes because blockchain creates publicly viewable and singed transaction that can’t be changed or rewritten.

This infographic will help you understand how the blockchain technology can and will improve 16 different industries, from music to government. So, read on and find out what their future will look like.

Act Now: Join Pro-gun Lawmakers Seeking Answers and Accountability from Anti-gun Banks

We recently reported on the disturbing trend of large U.S. banks – most notably Bank of America (BofA) and Citigroup – using their enormous market power to discriminate against customers based on lawful firearm-related business activities. These decisions were unabashedly prompted and lauded by anti-gun activists as political statements and social engineering, not as business decisions based on any alleged financial unsoundness or criminal activity of the affected customers. This feigned high-mindedness is particularly galling to gun-owning Americans whose billions of tax dollars helped bail out these financial behemoths after the banks’ reckless business practices brought their companies and the U.S. economy to the brink of disaster. Now, pro-gun members of Congress are demanding answers and accountability. You can do your part, too, by lodging your own complaints against the banks with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) led the way with a March 29, 2018 letter to Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat. Kennedy expressed “significant concerns” about the bank’s new policies and asked to be provided with “the specific number of entities in Louisiana which stand to lose banking services as a result of [Citigroup’s] increased scrutiny on law-abiding businesses.” He pointedly reminded the bank, “It feels like yesterday when Citi received nearly half a trillion dollars in taxpayer-backed guarantees and cash after putting the entire financial system at risk,” a move Kennedy called, “the largest government bailout in American history.” Kennedy encouraged Citigroup to be a good corporate citizen by refocusing on business decisions, including “addressing apparent shortcomings like overcharging credit card interest rates to account holders and compliance with U.S. anti-money laundering laws.”

Also joining the effort were 16 Congressmen led by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), who on April 11 wrote to Emily W. Murphy, head of the General Services Administration, asking her to reconsider a $700+ billion contract with Citigroup to help implement the federal charge card system, SmartPay 3.  The letter noted that the bank’s new firearm policies “run counter to laws and regulations passed by Congress, and they infringe and discriminate against an individual’s Second Amendment rights.” Such policies, the signatories opined, “should not be endorsed by our federal government,” which instead should “do business with companies that respect all of our constitutional rights, including the Second Amendment.” The letter urged the GSA to “take all necessary steps to review and terminate its contract with Citibank unless they rescind their guidelines … .”

The most recent action came from Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. On April 25, Crapo sent letters to the CEOs of both BofA and Citigroup demanding answers about their recent anti-gun activity. “It is deeply concerning to me,” he wrote, “when large national banks … which receive significant forms of government support and benefits, use their market power to manage social policy by withholding access to credit to customers and companies they disfavor.” 

Crapo also raised the issue of the banks’ collection of personally identifiable information (PII) and how it might be used “to monitor and deny financial services to individuals and companies who are engaging in completely legal and, in this case, Constitutionally-protected activity.” He additionally sought further information about the banks’ restrictive firearm policies and any other legal transactions, industries, and businesses they disfavor, prohibit, or boycott. “We should all be concerned if banks … seek to replace legislators and policymakers and attempt to manage social policy by limiting access to credit,” he concluded.

One way banking consumers concerned about BofA’s and Citigroup’s antigun discrimination can make their views known is to submit a complaint directly to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB is an entity of the U.S. Government charged with “mak[ing] consumer financial markets work for consumers, responsible providers, and the economy as a whole.” Its mandates include “[r]ooting out unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices,” taking “consumer complaints,” and “[m]onitoring financial markets for new risks to consumers.” 

Particularly useful would be complaints by any business or individual who was directly affected by the BofA’s or Citigroup’s new policies.

But every American adult likely uses or will need banking services to survive in the modern economy. Law-abiding gun owners have legitimate concerns about possible collusion and collective efforts between banks and/or banks and advocacy groups aimed at denying them services simply for exercising their rights under the U.S. Constitution and laws. These efforts also can create a hostile and chilling climate for the exercise of Second Amendment rights, particularly for those hoping to obtain financing for such things as home and auto purchases or running a small business. Once financial institutions take it upon themselves to set social policy that exceeds the requirements of the law, it’s impossible to know where they will stop or what other indicators of disfavored activity might become relevant to them. No American should be treated as a scapegoat for someone else’s crimes. 

Complaints may be submitted directly through the CFPB’s website and will be forwarded to the banks themselves. Information on complaints may also be made publicly available so other consumers can evaluate for themselves whether the banks’ are behaving improperly and possibly share their own relevant experiences.

The NRA thanks Sens. Kennedy and Crapo and Rep. Rokita for their leadership in fighting discrimination against law-abiding gun owners.

EXPERT: Best hope for reforming U.S. Refugee Program is under President Trump

“I saw first-hand the flagrant abuses and scams that permeate the refugee program.” – Mary Doetsch, retired Foreign Service Officer

Will President Donald Trump and soon-to-be Secretary of State Pompeo, do what must be done and overhaul the USRAP?

Trump and Pompeo

Mary Doetsch is a retired U.S. State Department Foreign Service officer who spent eight years (of a 25-year career) as a Refugee Coordinator serving on four continents.

As someone who has worked on the inside, her op-ed at the Washington Examiner today carries more weight than anything I could ever write as an outsider looking in!

Entitled:

US refugee program needs a complete overhaul

Ms. Doetsch opines (emphasis is mine):

During my career in the State Department, I became a refugee coordinator in the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, or USRAP, because I wanted to help and support persecuted persons in legitimate need of international protection. But the pervasive fraud I saw during my eight years in the field was alarming.

It cries out for a fix, and President Trump might just be the person to do it.

Undoubtedly, many individuals who work within the refugee field have humanitarian aims. But refugee resettlement has morphed into a numbers-driven, financially motivated business, growing blindly at the expense of the American public and our national security.

The US Department of State logo is displ

There once was a time when private charities, civic groups and faith-based organizations provided the bulk of funds and volunteers to resettle and help assimilate refugees in the United States. Today’s deeply flawed system relies almost exclusively on nine federal contractors (paradoxically referred to as “Voluntary Agencies” or VOLAGS) to resettle refugees.

[….]

The contractors have a vested interest in processing ever-larger numbers of applicants, since they make money on every refugee settled. And as non-governmental organizations they can and do lobby for advantageous changes to law, something they could not do if they were government agencies. Their lobbying umbrella wields enormous influence over refugee admissions policy, pressuring Congress and the bureaucracy to increase admissions and provide ever greater funding. They stage political rallies, file lawsuits against unfavorable policies, and lobby for causes that coincidentally help their bottom lines, yet this linkage is rarely, if ever, mentioned.

This isn’t just important from the oft-discussed security perspective, but also because of the rampant fraud and abuse that has permeated this program for generations.

[….]

As a former Refugee Coordinator who served throughout the Middle East, Africa, Russia and Cuba, I saw first-hand the flagrant abuses and scams that permeate the refugee program. I witnessed widespread exploitation and misuse, from identity fraud to marriage and family relation scams, and from private individuals profiting from their involvement in USRAP to distortion of the actual refugee definition to ensure greater numbers of people who should really just be migrants are admitted as refugees.

[….]

While refugee admissions have been declining under the Trump administration, without structural reform in the USRAP these numbers could again skyrocket under a new administration more favorable to the refugee industry.

Midway into fiscal year 2018, fewer than a quarter of the 45,000 individuals proposed in the FY18 refugee ceiling have entered the country. This slow-down in admissions may reduce the problem of fraud, but it cannot be eliminated without a complete overhaul of the program.

I’ve only snipped a portion of Doetsch’s op-ed, click here to read it all.

What you can do….

Contact the White House and tell the President it is now or never to overhaul the US Refugee Admissions Program, or once out of office the program will go back in to high gear.  Reducing numbers for a few years is not enough!

RELATED ARTICLE: Supremes to hear Trump travel ban case today, fears Trump will win

Add These Voter Fraud Cases to the Growing List

Despite the lack of media coverage, evidence of election fraud continues to mount.

This week, The Heritage Foundation added 26 new entries to its election fraud database, bringing the searchable ledger to a total of 1,132 proven instances of election fraud. That includes 983 cases that ended in a criminal conviction, 48 that led to civil penalties, 79 where defendants were enrolled in a diversion program, and 22 cases of official or judicial findings of fraud.

Americans should be alarmed. These entries represent irrefutable evidence that fraud has impacted elections in 47 states, and across all levels of government.

Worse still, they are probably just the tip of America’s election fraud iceberg. The Heritage database is not comprehensive, so the actual volume of vote fraud is likely far higher. Exactly how much higher is anybody’s guess.

Many states lack the robust procedures needed to detect and prevent fraud, and many prosecutors opt not to pursue election fraud cases in favor of other priorities once an election is over.

So long as these circumstances remain unchanged, American elections will be vulnerable to those willing to put their own personal interests or political preferences ahead of the will of the voters.

Here are some examples of people doing just that, from the latest database entries.

Kevin Williams (aka, Kunlay Sodipo)

Kevin Williams, a Nigerian citizen and an illegal immigrant, voted illegally in both the 2012 and 2016 elections in St. Louis, Missouri. He also committed tax refund fraud to the tune of $12 million, employing a scheme using stolen IDs from public school employees, among other nefarious actions.

Williams had been deported in 1995 but illegally re-entered the United States in 1999. He pleaded guilty in 2017 and was sentenced to six and a half years (78 months) in prison for voting fraudulently, as well as other crimes including mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, and illegally re-entering the United States.

In addition to his prison sentence, he was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $889,712 to the Internal Revenue Service, and he faces deportation.

Miguel Valencia-Sandoval

Miguel Valencia-Sandoval, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, admitted that he paid $50,000 in March 2005 for the birth certificate of a Texas man, Ramiro Guerrero-Vasquez. Using that stolen identity, he resided in Champaign County, Illinois, for the past 11 years.

His false identity was discovered when he applied for a U.S. passport in 2012 and made a false statement claiming U.S. citizenship on the application. Further investigation revealed he also made a false claim of citizenship on a voter registration application and voted in elections in 2012, 2014, and 2016.

Valencia-Sandoval pleaded guilty in 2017 to five counts, four of which relate to voting while not a citizen. After spending a year in jail following his apprehension for trying to illegally re-enter the United States, he was sentenced to time served in January 2018. Afterward he will be deported back to Mexico.

Max Judson

Max Judson was convicted of election fraud and witness tampering related to the 2014 primary election in Indiana.

Judson admitted that while running as a candidate for the Sullivan County Council, he solicited someone he knew was not a resident of the district to cast an absentee ballot. He also admitted that when he realized he was being investigated, he attempted to intervene and deter the voter from communicating with law enforcement officials.

In 2017, Judson—who had been elected to the county council—pleaded guilty to two charges related to his election misconduct. He was sentenced to serve one year and one day in prison, one year of supervised release, and was ordered to pay a $500 fine. He was also forced to resign from his seat on the Sullivan County Council.

Harmful to Every American

As these cases should make clear, voter fraud is not, and ought not be treated as a partisan political issue. No one’s interests, Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, are served by noncitizens casting fraudulent ballots, candidates for office cheating their way to victory, judges overturning elections because of falsified ballots, or any of the other schemes identified in the Heritage database.

Nor are anyone’s interests served by politicians and activists who deny that election fraud exists. Those who resist and obstruct even fact-finding efforts to discover the extent of the problem are doing America no favors. They may prefer to remain willfully blind to weaknesses and vulnerabilities in our system that strike at the very heart of our democracy, but the voters who are expected to trust the results of that system deserve better.

It is therefore incumbent on our elected leaders to take the issue of election fraud seriously, and guard against it. That includes adopting reasonable policies and procedures, like voter identification and proof of citizenship requirements, utilizing interstate cross-check programs to identify duplicate voters registered and casting ballots in multiple states, and routinely purging voter rolls of inaccurate and out-of-date entries to cut down on the potential for fraud.

It is long past time for states to take these steps. Sadly, until they do, Heritage’s election fraud database will continue to grow—and so will all the other fraud that remains hidden in the shadows.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Jason Snead

Jason Snead is a policy analyst in The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. Read his research. Twitter: .

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of a polling place is by JasonDoiy/Getty Images