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The Pronk Pops Show 1336, October 8, 2019, Story 1: Unfair Single Party Behind Closed Doors Impeachment Inquiry By Democrats — Unbelievable Compromised Adam Schiff Kangaroo Court –Release The Full Transcript of All Testimony To The Public — Let The American People Decide —   Big Lie Media Electronic Lynching  of Trump By Lying Lunatic Leftist Losers  — American People  Will Vote For Trump in November 2020 — Videos — Story 2: Attorney General Bill Barr and U. S. Attorney Durham Investigation of The Initiation of The Russian Collusion Investigation and Abuse of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court — John Brennan Former CIA Directory and Leader of The Coup Ordered By President Barack Obama — The Illegal Political Surveillance of The Trump and Trump Campaign — Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy — aka Spygate — Videos

Posted on October 14, 2019. Filed under: Addiction, Addiction, American History, Banking System, Barack H. Obama, Bill Clinton, Bribery, Bribes, Budgetary Policy, Cartoons, Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy, Congress, Corruption, Crime, Culture, Deep State, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Elections, Employment, Energy, European History, Fifth Amendment, First Amendment, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Former President Barack Obama, Fourth Amendment, Fraud, Freedom of Speech, Gangs, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, High Crimes, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, James Comey, Killing, Labor Economics, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Lying, Media, Mental Illness, Middle East, Military Spending, Monetary Policy, Networking, News, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Barack Obama, President Trump, Progressives, Public Corruption, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Robert S. Mueller III, Scandals, Senate, Spying, Subornation of perjury, Subversion, Success, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, Terrorism, Trade Policy, Treason, United Kingdom, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Violence, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Story 1: Unfair Single Party Behind Closed Doors Impeachment Inquiry By Democrats — Unbelievable Compromised Adam Schiff Kangaroo Court –Release The Full Transcript of All Testimony To The Public — Let The American People Decide —   Big Lie Media Electronic Lynching  of Trump By Lying Lunatic Leftist Losers  — American People  Will Vote For Trump in November 2020 — Videos

Jim Jordan: Whistleblower has a bias against the president

Jordan: Schiff, Pelosi aren’t interested in facts and truth

PBS NewsHour full episode October 8, 2019

 

Almost one in three REPUBLICANS back impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump in dramatic new poll that says 49 per cent of Americans want him removed from office

  • A new poll shows 58 per cent of Americans believe it was the right move for Nancy Pelosi to launch an impeachment inquiry
  • 49 per cent of the 58 say that Trump should be removed from office
  • This is the first time a majority of Americans back the proceedings
  • Public opinion shifted after revelations of Trump’s phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart were revealed in late September
  • The mood has also shifted after Pelosi already announced the inquiry 

Public opinion of impeachment, from Democrats and Republicans alike, has quickly shifted, with the majority of Americans saying in a new poll released Tuesday that they support the proceedings against Donald Trump.

The Washington Post-Schar School poll found that 7 in 10 Republicans do not support impeachment proceedings, meaning that nearly 1 in 3, or 28 per cent, support the inquiry.

Thirty per cent of respondents identify as Democrat, 25 per cent as Republican and 44 per cent as independent, and the results help highlight the partisan division over the issue. More than 8 in 10 Democrats endorse the impeachment proceedings.

But 57 per cent of independents, the largest bloc in this poll, support impeachment. The poll has a margin of error of 3.5 per cent.

Republican support for impeachment proceedings in on the rise, with nearly one in three claiming they support the inquiry against Donald Trump

Overall support for the impeachment inquiry spiked after September reports revealed Trump pressured his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate his political rival. Now 58 per cent of Americans support Pelosi's decision to launch the impeachment proceedings

Overall support for the impeachment inquiry spiked after September reports revealed Trump pressured his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate his political rival. Now 58 per cent of Americans support Pelosi’s decision to launch the impeachment proceedings

The survey was conducted October 1-6, in the days following revelations that Trump engaged in a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart urging him to investigate political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter – a move which ultimately led to Pelosi launching a formal inquiry.

The revelation appears to have prompted Americans to change their minds about their position on impeachment, and results among registered voters are almost exactly the same as those results among all Americans.

The poll indicates that 58 per cent of Americans believe that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was right to launch an impeachment inquiry, compared to the 38 per cent who say they oppose the measure.

In March , the same poll indicated Americans opposed the start to impeachment proceedings by a margin of 41 perc ent to 54 per cent.

Now, of the 58 per cent who say they support the inquiry, 49 per cent say the House should take it a step further and vote to remove Trump from office to the merre 6 per cent who feel otherwise.

Support for impeachment has been on the rise since July, but spiked recently after revelations of the Ukrainian scandal continued to unravel.

Pelosi: ‘No one is above the law’ as Trump impeachment inquiry begins

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced toward the end of September that the lower chamber of Congress was launching an impeachment proceeding, and 58 per cent of Americans now say they support her decision

Toward the end of September, an anonymous whistle-blower went public with a complaint he filed in August related to a call Trump held with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25.

During the call, which Trump released a transcript of, the president pressured Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden’s business dealings in the country. Trump claimed it was potential corruption considering Hunter took the board position with a Ukrainian natural gas firm was his father was still vice president.

Pelosi, who was hesitant to utter the I-word, quickly changed her tune after learning the details of the call and announced the House was launching an impeachment inquiry into the president – only the fourth ever in U.S. history.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing ever since the existence of the whistle-blower’s complaint became public. He has called his conversation with Zelensky ‘perfect.’

A separate poll, conducted by the National Republican Congressional Committeeand Team McCarthy by Public Opinion Strategies, shows a completely different story than the other polls.

In that survey, only 37 per cent of voters said they felt Trump’s call with Zelesnky warranted impeachment, and 59 per cent said it was an appropriate conversation.

However, in districts Trump won that are represented by Democrats, 62 per cent in this poll say the call was OK, while 33 per cent say it’s an impeachable offense.

Critics have also noted an interesting question the polls asked its respondents.

‘Now, I’d like to read you a few statements regarding this matter, and please tell me whether you agree or disagree with each one,’ the pollsters prompted of participants. ‘If Democrats are going to proceed, they should set a date certain to end the inquiry so it does not further politicize next year’s election.’

Sixty-five percent of voters said they agreed with this statement and 31 per cent disagreed.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7550813/One-three-REPUBLICANS-impeachment-poll-says-49-Americans-want-Trump-removed.html

 

Story 2: Attorney General Bill Barr and U. S. Attorney Durham Investigation of The Initiation of The Russian Collusion Investigation and Abuse of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court — John Brennan Former CIA Directory and Leader of The Coup Ordered By President Barack Obama — The Illegal Political Surveillance of The Trump and Trump Campaign — Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy — aka Spygate– Videos

Hannity: Mueller investigated the man who passed him up for a job

Prager: The left is not used to being investigated

DiGenova: Comey, Clapper and Brennan will have to pay the ‘Barr bill’

 

U.S. Attorney John Durham Beefs Up Investigation Into Russia Probe Origins After Findings

DailyWire.com
The Department of Justice logo hangs as the backdrop before a press conference held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on leaks of classified material threatening national security in Washington, USA on August 4, 2017.
Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Fox News’ Bret Baier reported on Tuesday in a Fox News exclusive that “based on what he has been finding, Durham has expanded his investigation adding agents and resources, the senior administration officials said. The timeline has grown from the beginning of the probe through the election and now has included a post-election timeline through the spring of 2017, up to when Robert Mueller was named special counsel.”

“Attorney General Bill Barr and Durham traveled to Italy recently to talk to law enforcement officials there about the probe and have also had conversations with officials in the U.K. and Australia about the investigation, according to multiple sources familiar with the meetings,” Baier added.

Barr’s appointment of Durham to conduct that investigation was revealed this May when the Associated Press reported: “The inquiry will focus on whether the government’s methods to collect intelligence relating to the Trump campaign were lawful and appropriate. Durham has previously investigated law enforcement corruption, the destruction of CIA videotapes and the Boston FBI office’s relationship with mobsters.”

The Trump administration told Fox News in April that Barr had assembled a team to investigate the origins of the FBI counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign:

Attorney General William Barr has assembled a “team” to investigate the origins of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign, an administration official briefed on the situation told Fox News on Tuesday.


The FBI’s July 2016 counterintelligence investigation was formally opened by anti-Trump former FBI agent Peter Strzok. Ex-FBI counsel Lisa Page, with whom Strzok was romantically involved, revealed during a closed-door congressional interview that the FBI “knew so little” about whether allegations against the Trump campaign were “true or not true” at the time they opened the probe, noting they had just “a paucity of evidence because we are just starting down the path” of vetting the allegations.

Durham has been described as a “hard-charging, bulldog” prosecutor.

“Sources familiar with matter say the focus includes pre-transition period — prior to Nov. 7, 2016 — including the use and initiation of informants, as well as potential Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses,” Fox News noted in a separate report. “An informant working for U.S. intelligence posed as a Cambridge University research assistant in September 2016 to try to probe George Papadopoulos, then a Trump foreign policy adviser, on the campaign’s possible ties to Russia, it emerged earlier this month. And, Papadopoulos told Fox News, the informant tried to ‘seduce’ him as part of the ‘bizarre’ episode.”

Reuters reported on Tuesday: “Durham’s probe seems to be moving at a more deliberate pace in Washington. While the FBI says it has been cooperating, senior figures involved in the 2016 investigation have not yet heard from Durham’s team, according to sources familiar with the matter. Among them: former FBI general counsel James A. Baker; former CIA Director John Brennan; former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper; former FBI agent Peter Strzok; and David Laufman, a former senior Justice Department official.”

https://www.dailywire.com/news/u-s-attorney-john-durham-beefs-up-investigation-into-russia-probe-origins-after-findings

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The Pronk Pops Show 1330, September 30, 2019, Story 1: The Big Fail: Democrat Coup 2.0 Against Trump and American People Blown — Fear and Trembling Over Justice Department Inspector General Report on FISA Abuse in Obama Administration — Indictment and Prosecurtions Coming — Biden Fading Fast —  Videos — Story 2: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Listened In on President Trump’s Call With Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — Videos

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Story 1: The Big Fail: Democrat Coup 2.0 Against Trump and American People Blown — Fear and Trembling Over Justice Department Inspector General’s Report on FISA Abuse in Obama Administration — Spygate Indictments and Prosecutions Coming —  Videos —

See the source image

President Trump on whistleblower

Joe Biden Admits to Getting Ukrainian Prosecutor who Investigated Son Fired

Hannity: Dems are guilty of everything they accuse Trump of

Hunter Biden Situation Could Be ‘Albatross Around Joe Biden’s Neck’ | THE CIRCUS | SHOWTIME

CBN NewsWatch PM: September 30, 2019

Top U.S. & World Headlines — September 30, 2019

President Trump And Allies Focus Attacks On Whistleblower

Pompeo was on Trump’s call with Ukrainian President, source says

Trump focuses anger at whistleblower as impeachment inquiry deepens

A look at Hunter Biden’s time in Ukraine

“BIDEN IS A DISGRACE” President Trump RIPS Joe Biden Over Ukraine Controversy

Tucker: Democrats don’t seem happy about impeachment

Stephen Miller calls whistleblower a ‘partisan hit job’ in fiery interview

I wouldn’t cooperate with Adam Schiff’: Giuliani | ABC News

House Intelligence Committee expects to hear from whistleblower ‘very soon’: Schiff | ABC News

Trump Calls Impeachment Inquiry a ‘Coup’

Biden’s Ukraine Scandal Explained I Glenn Beck

LIVE NOW | Ukraine: The Democrats’ Russia

Glenn reveals the facts that the media refuse to share and breaks down the entire Ukraine timeline on the chalkboard. Tune in to watch as Glenn makes yet another complex issue simple. BlazeTV Presents a Glenn Beck Special – Ukraine: The Democrats’ Russia.

 

 

 

‘COUP’: Trump blasts Democrats’ impeachment efforts in tweet

The Trump tweet came about 12 hours after Trump adviser Peter Navarro called the impeachment inquiry an “attempted coup d’etat’
Image: President Elect Trump Continues His "Thank You Tour" In Grand Rapids, Michigan

President-elect Donald Trump looks on during a rally at the DeltaPlex Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Dec. 9, 2016.Drew Angerer / Getty Images file

DOJ watchdog submits draft report on alleged FISA abuses to Barr

Story 2: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Listened In on President Trump’s Call With Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — Videos

Mike Pompeo was on July 25 phone call at the center of the impeachment inquiry in which Trump asked Ukraine president to probe Joe Biden

  • Officials told Associated Press that Secretary of State Pompeo was listening 
  • It would be the first confirmation that a Cabinet official was on the cal
  • President Trump pressed Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Joe Biden
  • He asked Volodymyr Zelensky to probe Hunter Biden’s role in gas company 

Two U.S. officials say Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on the July 25 call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine‘s president that is at the center of a whistleblower complaint.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an internal matter.

It was the first confirmation that a Cabinet official was on the call in which Trump pressed President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Hunter Biden’s membership on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

It also increases the number of people known to have first-hand knowledge of a call that has sparked an impeachment inquiry by Congress.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is seen at United Nations in New York last week

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is seen at United Nations in New York last week

Pompeo overheard the phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (seen far left next to Trump), according to two U.S. officials

Pompeo overheard the phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (seen far left next to Trump), according to two U.S. officials

Pompeo leaves for Italy amid reports he took part in Ukraine call

Pompeo boarded a plane to fly to Italy on Monday.

Joining him aboard the official State Department flight was Sebastian Gorka, a former White House aide and Trump supporter.

‘It’s not quite Air Force One, but it’s very close,’ Gorka, who is now a media personality, tweeted.

News of Pompeo’s involvement broke after it was learned that another associate of the president is more deeply ensnared in the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

Democrats on Monday subpoenaed Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer who was at the heart of Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden’s family.

With Congress out of session for observance of the Jewish holidays, Democrats moved aggressively against Giuliani, requesting by Oct. 15 ‘text messages, phone records and other communications’ that they referred to as possible evidence.

Sebastian Gorka DrG

@SebGorka

It’s not quite Air Force One.

But it’s very close!

Boarding @SecPompeo’s Air Force Boeing at @Andrews_JBA.

Destination Rome.

Stay Tuned!

http://SebGorka.com 

View image on Twitter

They also requested documents and depositions from three of his business associates.

McConnell, a steadfast Trump defender, nonetheless swatted down talk that that the GOP-controlled Senate could dodge the matter of impeachment if the House approved charges against Trump.

‘It’s a Senate rule related to impeachment, it would take 67 votes to change, so I would have no choice but to take it up,’ McConnell said on CNBC.

FILE - In this May 5, 2018, file photo, Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for President Donald Trump, speaks in Washington. Giuliani says he'd only cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry if his client agreed. Central to the investigation is the effort by Giuliani to have Ukraine conduct a corruption probe into Joe Biden and his son's dealings with a Ukrainian energy company. Trump echoed that request in a July 2019 call with Ukraine's president. The House Intelligence Committee is leading the inquiry, and Chairman Adam Schiff hasn't decided if he wants to hear from Giuliani. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

FILE – In this May 5, 2018, file photo, Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for President Donald Trump, speaks in Washington. Giuliani says he’d only cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry if his client agreed. Central to the investigation is the effort by Giuliani to have Ukraine conduct a corruption probe into Joe Biden and his son’s dealings with a Ukrainian energy company. Trump echoed that request in a July 2019 call with Ukraine’s president. The House Intelligence Committee is leading the inquiry, and Chairman Adam Schiff hasn’t decided if he wants to hear from Giuliani. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

The lawmakers cited claims by Giuliani in a series of TV interviews over the past week

The lawmakers cited claims by Giuliani in a series of TV interviews over the past week

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has coffee with Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, U.S. September 20, 2019. Committees are seeking documents related to his mission to seek information from Ukraine

President Trump again Monday called his phone call with the President of Ukraine where he urged him to get in touch with Giuliani 'perfect'

Giuliani has repeatedly pushed unsubstantiated claims that Joe Biden pushed Ukraine to fire a prosecutor to keep it from probing a company tied to his son

Giuliani has repeatedly pushed unsubstantiated claims that Joe Biden pushed Ukraine to fire a prosecutor to keep it from probing a company tied to his son

UP TO HERE: 'If (Trump) decides that he wants me to testify of course I'll testify – even though I think Adam Schiff is an illegitimate chairman,' Giuliani said.

UP TO HERE: ‘If (Trump) decides that he wants me to testify of course I’ll testify – even though I think Adam Schiff is an illegitimate chairman,’ Giuliani said.

‘How long you’re on it is a whole different matter.’

Trump took to Twitter to defend anew his phone call with Zelenskiy as ‘perfect’ and to unleash a series of attacks, most strikingly against House intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff. 

The Democrat, he suggested, ought to be tried for a capital offense for launching into a paraphrase of Trump during a congressional hearing last week.

‘Rep. Adam Schiff illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people,’ the president wrote.

‘It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?’

Trump tweeted repeatedly through the day but was, for the most part, a lonely voice as the White House lacked an organization or process to defend him.

Senior staffers, including acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and White House counsel Pat Cipollone, were to present Trump this week with options on setting up the West Wing’s response to impeachment, officials said.

A formal war room was unlikely, though some sort of rapid response team was planned to supplement the efforts of Trump and Giuliani.

But Trump was angry over the weekend at both Mulvaney and press secretary Stephanie Grisham for not being able to change the narrative dominating the story, according to two Republicans close to the White House not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.

Democrats have orders from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to keep momentum going despite a two-week recess that started Friday. 

Staff for three committees are scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday to depose Marie ‘Masha’ Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was removed by the Trump administration earlier this year, and Kurt Volker, who resigned last week as America’s Ukrainian envoy.

Members of intelligence committee on Friday will interview Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community who first received the whistleblower’s complaint.

Democrats are driving the proceedings toward what some hope is a vote to impeach, or indict, Trump by year’s end.

They have launched a coordinated messaging and polling strategy aimed at keeping any political backlash in closely divided districts from toppling their House majority.

Meanwhile, an outside group that supports GOP House candidates was starting anti-impeachment digital ads on Monday against three House Democrats from districts Trump won in 2016.

The ads by the Congressional Leadership Fund accuse Reps. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania, Elaine Luria of Virginia and Elissa Slotkin of Michigan of ‘tearing us apart,’ and are among the first in which Republicans are trying to use the impeachment issue against Democratic candidates.

However, support across America for impeachment has grown significantly from its level before the House launched its formal inquiry last week.

A new poll from Quinnipiac University shows 47 per cent of registered voters say Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while 47 per cent say he should not.

Just a week before, it was 37 per cent for impeachment and 57 per cent against.

That was before the White House released its rough version of the call between Trump and Ukraine’s president and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement of a formal impeachment inquiry.

SMOKING TABLET: Rudy Giuliani claims he has 15 texts which will show his Ukraine activities were fully coordinated with the State Department

SMOKING TABLET: Rudy Giuliani claims he has 15 texts which will show his Ukraine activities were fully coordinated with the State Department

Rudy Giuliani reiterated previous claims that the State Department asked him to reach out to Ukraine to inquire about Ukrainian investigations, including into Joe and Hunter Biden, in an appearance on Laura Ingraham's show on Fox

Rudy Giuliani reiterated previous claims that the State Department asked him to reach out to Ukraine to inquire about Ukrainian investigations, including into Joe and Hunter Biden, in an appearance on Laura Ingraham’s show on Fox

LET'S TALK AGAIN: Giuliani shared his texts with U.S. special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker

TALK AGAIN: Giuliani shared his texts with U.S. special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker

In the CNN poll, 47 per cent said Trump should be impeached and removed from office, up from 41 per cent in May.

Both polls showed dramatic partisan polarization remains on impeachment: most Democrats expressing support, the vast majority of Republicans opposed.

The polls disagreed over whose opinions are changing – Quinnipiac showing increased impeachment support coming more from Democrats, CNN from Republicans.

Schiff said on Sunday that his intelligence panel would hear from the still-secret whistleblower ‘very soon’ but that no date had been set and other details remained to be worked out.

A day after Trump demanded to meet the whistleblower, whom he has repeatedly assailed, he said when asked about the person: ‘Well, we’re trying to find out about a whistleblower,’ who made his perfect call ‘sound terrible.’

The whistleblower’s attorney, Andrew Bakaj, said Monday that the person ‘is entitled to anonymity. Law and policy support this, and the individual is not to be retaliated against. Doing so is a violation of federal law.’

Separately, the Justice Department disclosed that Trump recently asked Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other foreign leaders to help Attorney General William Barr with an investigation of the origins of the Russia investigation that has shadowed his administration for more than two years.

Justice spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said Trump made the calls at Barr’s request.

Trump was requesting help for U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation into the origins of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The investigation outraged Trump, who cast it as a politically motivated ‘witch hunt.’

The Russia probe remains Trump’s motivating factor, according to Tom Bossert, the president’s former homeland security adviser.

‘I honestly believe this president has not gotten his pound of flesh yet from past grievances on the 2016 investigation,’ Bossert said Sunday on ABC.

‘If he continues to focus on that white whale, it’s going to bring him down.’

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1323, September 19, 2019, Story 1: Zuckerberg Meets President Trump and Senators — Regulating Big Tech Data Cartel: Internet Regulation, Data Privacy, Bias, Censorship, Filtering, Shadow Banning, Cryptocurrency, Control — Breakup The Big Tech Data Cartel or Threat of Changing Big Tech Platforms to Publishers — Internet Bill of Rights — Videos –Story 2: Department of Justice Charges Health Care Fraud Against 58 Individuals — Pill Mills — Videos —

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Story 1: Zuckerberg Meets President Trump and Senators — Regulating Big Tech Data Cartel: Internet Regulation, Data Privacy, Bias, Censorship, Filtering, Shadow Banning, Cryptocurrency, Control — Breakup The Big Tech Data Cartel or Threat of Changing Big Tech Platforms to Publishers — Internet Bill of Rights — Videos —

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Mark Zuckerberg meets with senators on Captiol Hill

Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t answer questions between meetings with senators

President Trump says his meeting with Mark Zuckerberg ‘constructive’

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg meets with President Trump and other lawmakers

Is Facebook a Publisher or a Platform? A Definitive Answer…

Google, Twitter and Facebook – Platforms or Publishers?

Zuckerberg: We’re a tech company, not a publisher

The Rise of Big Tech Monopolies from Microsoft to Google

Breaking the Monopolies of Facebook, Google, and Amazon | Kat Chrysostom | TEDxOcala

Politico’s Levine: The main issue with Big Tech is the financial relationship between publishers and

Design of the platform business | Paul von Gruben | TEDxTUBerlin

Congressional investigation into big tech companies focus on effect digital platforms have on jou…

As calls to break up big tech grow louder, a split may pay off for one tech company

It’s Time: Break Up Big Tech

Which Silicon Valley Tech Titans Will Topple? (w/ Scott Galloway)

Measuring Market Concentration

What is HERFINDAHL INDEX? What does HERFINDAHL INDEX mean? HERFINDAHL INDEX meaning & explanation

Market Concentration: Greg Werden on the difficulties in measuring concentration

In this video, Greg Werden, Senior Economic Counsel in the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice explains the difficulties in using US census bureau data to measure market concentration and what he thinks about the existing evidence on market power in the US. More materials on this discussion available at http://oe.cd/2gw

Regulations may not hurt big tech companies

Antitrust & Big Tech

Adam Ruins Everything – How the Government Created Tech Monopolies | truTV

States Targeting Big Tech Companies

Feds investigating major tech companies for antitrust violations

Watch out, Google, the U.S. government has an ‘ironclad’ antitrust case

Big Tech and Antitrust: Rethinking Competition Policy for the Digital Era

The Left Ruins Everything

Big Tech Is Big Brother

Ted Cruz’s Opening Statement on Big Tech Censorship

Dr. Robert Epstein on Big Tech Censorship

Ingraham: Big tech and the new corporate censorship

Dennis Prager and Google VP Testify Before the U.S. Senate on Tech Censorship

Dennis Prager on Google’s censorship allegations

PragerU v. YouTube

Tucker defends Steven Crowder in spat with YouTube

How to Combat Big Tech Censorship | Louder with Crowder

Steven Crowder Exposes Vox’s Dirty Tactics

Dave Rubin Responds to VoxAdpocalypse I Louder with Crowder

Vox Journalist Gets Steven Crowder Demonetized on Youtube I White House Brief

In an unprecedented move, Youtube demonetized Steven Crowder after Vox Journalist Carlos “Gaywonk” Maza complained on Twitter about a few of Crowder’s jokes. Bowing to twitter mobs, Youtube demonetized Steven Crowder’s whole channel along with hundreds of other small creators on Youtube. Jon Miller breaks down the latest tech censorship drama in today’s episode of White House Brief.

YouTube’s messy fight with its most extreme creators

Big Tech Promotes Pluralism | The News & Why It Matters | Ep 329

Dan Crenshaw Interrogates Social Media Execs on Silencing Conservatives

Big Tech faces backlash as Washington explores regulation

Bill Gates says to regulate big tech companies

Bill Gates Says Big Tech Companies Shouldn’t Be Broken Up

The War on Big Tech – Everything is About to Change

FTC’s New Antitrust Task Force Zeroes In on Big Tech

Why Sen. Mark Warner wants tech companies to tell you how much your data is worth

The evolving relationship between platforms and publishers

Politicians Want to Destroy Section 230, the Internet’s First Amendment

Here’s a recap of Tuesday’s Big Tech antitrust congressional hearing

Is Big Tech Too Big?

Trump warns tech over conservative censorship concerns

Ted Cruz GRILLS Google rep over big tech censorship

Report reveals how tech giants censor conservative speech

What Should Have Happened at the Facebook Hearing

Department of Justice’s antitrust chief on regulating big tech

8 Attorneys General Launch Facebook Antitrust Investigation

How to regulate Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon? | Tech Wash

News Media Alliance on Google profiting from news coverage

Lawsuit over big tech censorship strikes at core of American values

Facebook falls on report of possible FTC antitrust investigation

How to regulate Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon? | Tech Wash

Sen. Ted Cruz grills Mark Zuckerberg on political bias

10 Most Expensive Things Owned By Mark Zuckerberg

Priscilla Chan is trying to change the fate of an entire generation

Priscilla Chan on meeting Mark Zuckerberg, and their goal to cure all diseases

The Struggles That Almost Ruined Mark Zuckerberg’s Marriage | ⭐OSSA

Zuckerberg meets Trump, senators; nixes breaking up Facebook

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg held private meetings with US lawmakers in Washington to discuss technology regulations and social media issues, including concerns about the social network's operations

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg held private meetings with US lawmakers in Washington to discuss technology regulations and social media issues, including concerns about the social network’s operations

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg met Thursday with US President Donald Trump and members of Congress on a political reconnaissance mission to Washington, where he rejected calls to break up the world’s biggest social network.

Zuckerberg’s visit comes as Facebook faces a myriad of regulatory and legal questions surrounding issues like competition, digital privacy, censorship and transparency in political advertising.

A Facebook spokesman said discussions were focusing in part on future internet regulation.

Senate Democrat Mark Warner, one of the lawmakers who has taken the lead in Washington on digital security, signalled they gave Zuckerberg an earful.

The visit, including a Wednesday night private dinner with Warner and other lawmakers, comes after his stormy appearance last year before Congress, where he was grilled on Facebook’s data protection and privacy missteps.

Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican freshman and one of the more outspoken critics of Facebook, said he had a “frank conversation” with Zuckerberg but remains concerned.

“Challenged him to do two things to show FB is serious about bias, privacy & competition. 1) Sell WhatsApp & Instagram 2) Submit to independent, third-party audit on censorship,” Hawley tweeted.

“He said no to both.”

Trump late Thursday posted a picture on Facebook and Twitter showing him shaking hands with Zuckerberg, but didn’t share details of their conversation.

“Nice meeting with Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook in the Oval Office today,” the president wrote.

Federal and state anti-trust enforcers are looking into potential anti-competitive actions by Facebook, and members of Congress are debating national privacy legislation.

The messaging product WhatsApp and picture-sharing giant Instagram are part of Facebook’s broad family of services that has made it a global online behemoth, but have also exposed the company to concerns about competition, data harvesting and sprawling digital control.

Warner said he was not prepared to call for Facebook’s dismantlement.

“I’m not yet with some of my friends who want to go straight to break up,” he told Fox Business Network.

“I am concerned. These are global companies, and I don’t want to transfer the leadership to Chinese companies,” he added.

“But I do think we need a lot more transparency. We need to have privacy rights protected. We need to increase competition with things like data portability and interoperability.”

Two months ago, the US Federal Trade Commission hit Facebook with a record $5 billion fine for data protection violations in a wide-ranging settlement that calls for revamping privacy controls and oversight at the social network.

Earlier Wednesday, executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter appeared before a Senate panel to answer questions on “digital responsibility” in the face of online violence and extremism.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-7484185/Saudi-led-coalition-launches-military-operation-north-Hodeidah-Yemen.html

Hawley Introduces Bill to Make Big Tech Embrace Free Speech

By Corinne Weaver | June 19, 2019 10:49 AM EDT

Republicans in the Senate plan on striking a blow for online free speech — by eradicating censorship of conservatives online.

Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced a new bill June 19, meant to tackle the problem of tech monopolies and their consistent censorship of conservatives and conservative ideology. The bill, called the Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act, looks to remove the immunity enjoyed by Big Tech companies from Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The bill would target companies with more than 30 million monthly users, such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, and YouTube.

Hawley wrote that the companies could earn their immunity back through a series of third-party external audits that provided “convincing evidence that their algorithms and content-removal practices are politically neutral.”

The legislation would exclude smaller companies. Hawley’s bill is more interested in going after the “tech monopolies” that present a greater threat through censorship. He stated in his press release:

There’s a growing list of evidence that shows big tech companies making editorial decisions to censor viewpoints they disagree with. Even worse, the entire process is shrouded in secrecy because these companies refuse to make their protocols public. This legislation simply states that if the tech giants want to keep their government-granted immunity, they must bring transparency and accountability to their editorial processes and prove that they don’t discriminate.”

In the bill itself, all acts of business were permitted except for those that favored or were biased against a specific ideology, political candidates, or political opinions.

The Free Speech Alliance, a coalition of more than 50 conservative organizations led by the Media Research Center, urged that tech companies “mirror the First Amendment.” This bill, if passed, would require Big Tech to do just that.

So far, major critics have gone after Hawley on Twitter. Americans for Prosperity called the bill “misguided legislation.” The group argued that the bill will prevent innovative startups from succeeding, even though it is clearly aimed at companies larger than 30 million monthly users.

Executive editor of Vox’s tech magazine, The Verge, Dieter Bohn, wrote that Hawley “doesn’t understand section 230.”

https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/2019/06/19/hawley-introduces-bill-make-big-tech-embrace-free-speech

 

Mark Zuckerberg’s Call to Regulate Facebook, Explained

Here’s why the Facebook chief executive invited Congress to regulate his company in a post on Saturday.

Facebook's chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, at Senate hearings last year. With the expectation that personal data handling and content restrictions are coming, Facebook tries in an op-ed piece to set the playing field.
CreditCreditTom Brenner/The New York Times

Facebook has faced months of scrutiny for a litany of ills, from spreading misinformation to not properly protecting its users’ data to allowing foreign meddling in elections.

Many at the Silicon Valley company now expect lawmakers and regulators to act to contain it — so the social network is trying to set its own terms for what any regulations should look like.

That helps explain why Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post on Saturday laying out a case for how he believes his company should be treated.

In his post, Mr. Zuckerberg discussed four policy areas — harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability — which he said the government should focus attention on.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/30/technology/mark-zuckerberg-facebook-regulation-explained.html

What Would Regulating Facebook Look Like?

In an interview with WIRED, Mark Zuckerberg seemed to accept the idea of some US regulation. Other countries could provide the blueprint.

In an interview with WIRED Mark Zuckberg seemed to accept the idea of some US regulation. Other countries could provide...
In an interview with WIRED, Mark Zuckberg seemed to accept the idea of some US regulation. Other countries could provide the blueprint .PHUC PHAM The drumbeat to regulate Big Tech began pounding long before the Cambridge Analytica scandal rocked Facebook—six long years ago, the Obama administration pushed a “Privacy Bill of Rights” that, like most other legislative attempts to safeguard your data online, went nowhere. But this time, as they say, feels different. Thanks to repeated lapses from not just Facebook but all corners of Silicon Valley, some sort of regulation seems not only plausible but imminent.

US politicians have called for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to appear in person before Congress. Some tech-focused legislation is currently wending its way through the Capitol’s corridors. And regulators in other countries have already clamped down on tech.

‘I think what tends to work well is transparency, which I think is an area where we need to do a lot better and are working on.’

FACEBOOK CEO MARK ZUCKERBERG

In an interview with WIRED editor-in-chief Nicholas Thompson Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckberg seemed if not outright welcoming toward regulation, at least accepting of it. “There are some really nuanced questions though about how to regulate, which I think are extremely interesting intellectually,” says Zuckerberg, who points to the bipartisan Honest Ads Act, cosponsored by senators Mark Warner, Amy Klobuchar, and John McCain, as an example of the sort of bill his company can get behind.

The Honest Ads Act, legislation that calls for increased transparency behind who pays for political ads online, makes for a convenient example, though, in part because Facebook has already implemented many of its provisions. The bill, introduced last October, also appears to have languished, making it a non-substantive threat. Meanwhile, critics say it wouldn’t have stopped Russian propagandists from flooding Facebook in the first place.

Besides, even the Honest Ads Act’s sponsors have noted that it addresses a very small piece of a very large problem. And it does nothing to address the data privacy concerns that rightly create so much angst among anyone with any sort of presence online. Which is to say, everyone. For that, the US would need something much bigger.

“We do not have an omnibus privacy legislation at the federal level,” says David Vladeck, former director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We don’t have a statute that recognizes generally that privacy is a right that’s secured by federal law. And that puts us at the opposite end of the spectrum from some of the other major economies in the world.”

It’s not that living in the US puts you totally in the privacy hinterlands. The FTC has a modicum of authority, and has used it when companies grossly overreach—as it did against Facebook in 2011, when the company failed to keep its promises regarding how it treated their data. Facebook had made user information public, even if they’d previously had more restrictive privacy settings, and allowed third-party developers to mine the data not just of the Facebook users who downloaded their apps, but of all of those peoples’ friends. (If that sounds familiar, well, it’s precisely what allowed the Cambridge Analytica fiasco.)

Even then, though, Facebook got off with a scolding. It had to sign a consent decree, essentially a promise that it wouldn’t stray again. That’s gone unchecked until this week, when the FTC reportedly opened an investigation into the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and could fine Facebook up to $40,000 per violation—with 50 million people impacted, the potential fine hypothetically stretches into the trillions.

But the threat of retroactive fines clearly hasn’t done the trick. The FTC, meanwhile, can only work with the legislative tools it’s given. So what would it look like if Congress gave it better tools? Other countries might offer something like an outline, if not an outright blueprint.

In Finland, officials feel that their strong public education system and a coordinated government response have been enough to stave off Russia’s propaganda; Sri Lanka banned Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram entirely. Which is to say, it’s a wide gamut.

On the data privacy front, the most recent high-profile model comes from the European Union, where General Data Protection Regulation becomes the law of the land on May 25. GDPR focuses on ensuring that people who use online services know not only exactly what data those companies will take, but how they put it to use.

Zuckerberg, at least, seems supportive of those levels of transparency—although they’re also, since GDPR’s passage, an inevitability. “I think what tends to work well is transparency, which I think is an area where we need to do a lot better and are working on,” Zuckerberg tells WIRED. “I think guidelines are much better than dictating specific processes.”

‘We do not have an omnibus privacy legislation at the federal level.’

DAVID VLADECK FORMER BUREAU OF CONSUMER PROTECTION DIRECTOR

Rough guidelines also seem like a more plausible approach in the US due to both precedent and practicality. The EU approach to privacy law has long been highly detailed and prescriptive, says Vladeck, which sounds good in theory but can create issues in practice. “The implementation of it, in my view, is going to be ineffective, because it places an enormous regulatory burden on some parties, and worse, it places an enormous regulatory burden on the data protection authorities that need to enforce it,” says Vladeck. “I don’t think we could simply take the European regulation and simply adopt it in the United States. But I think there are a lot of elements in it that could provide guidance.”

One danger of an overly prescribed law is that technological solutions can outpace those mandates. Zuckerberg points to Germany, where hate speech laws require Facebook and other companies to remove offending posts within 24 hours. “The German model—you have to handle hate speech in this way—in some ways that’s actually backfired,” Zuckerberg says. “Because now we are handling hate speech in Germany in a specific way, for Germany, and our processes for the rest of the world have far surpassed our ability to handle that. But we’re still doing it in Germany the way that it’s mandated that we do it there. So I think guidelines are probably going to be a lot better.”

Zuckerberg also raises the question of the use of artificial intelligence in weeding out unwelcome uploads. “Now that companies increasingly over the next five to 10 years as AI tools get better and better will be able to proactively determine what might be offensive content or violate some rules, what therefore is the responsibility and legal responsibility of companies to do that,” Zuckerberg says.

Here, too, Facebook’s getting out ahead of any potential legal requirements; it already scans for nudity and terrorist content, and remains hard at work at AI that can spot what Zuckerberg calls “really nuanced hate speech and bullying.”

Eventually, though, Silicon Valley may run out of ways to appease regulators. By now there have been too many data breaches, too much negligence, whether by Facebook, Equifax, or the government itself. “I do think increasingly that there’s a sense that we need it,” says Vladeck.

At the very least, when regulation does come, Facebook has an open invite to help inform what happens, albeit in gruff terms. “Mr. Zuckerberg needs to testify before the Senate and answer some tough questions about Russian activity on the platform, and the way his company protects—or doesn’t—its users’ data,” said Senator Mark Warner in a email to WIRED Wednesday.

And if it doesn’t pitch in, Congress has a model for privacy protection waiting for it, at least philosophically, just an ocean away.

Facebook’s World

https://www.wired.com/story/what-would-regulating-facebook-look-like/

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act

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Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 (a common name for Title V of the Telecommunications Act of 1996) is a landmark piece of Internet legislation in the United States, codified at 47 U.S.C. § 230. Section 230(c)(1) provides immunity from liability for providers and users of an “interactive computer service” who publish information provided by third-party users:

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.

Section 230 was developed in response to a pair of lawsuits against Internet service providers in the early 1990s that had different interpretations of whether the services providers should be treated as publishers or distributors of content created by its users. It was also pushed by the tech industry and other experts that language in the proposed CDA making providers responsible for indecent content posted by users that could extend to other types of questionable free speech. After passage of the Telecommunications Act, the CDA was challenged in courts and ruled by the Supreme Court in Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union (1997) to be partially unconstitutional, leaving the Section 230 provisions in place. Since then, several legal challenges have validated the constitutionality of Section 230. Section 230 protects are not limitless, requiring providers to remove criminal material such as copyright infringement; more recently, Section 230 was amended by the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act in 2018 to require the removal of material violating federal and state sex trafficking laws.

Passed at a time where Internet use was just starting to take off, Section 230 has frequently been referred as a key law that has allowed the Internet to flourish, often referred to as “The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet”.

Contents

History

Prior to the Internet, case law was clear that a liability line was drawn between publishers of content and distributors of content; publishers would be expected to have awareness of material it was publishing and thus should be held liable for any illegal content it published, while distributors would likely not be aware and thus would be immune. This was established in Smith v. California (1959), where the Supreme Court ruled that putting liability on the provider (a book store in this case) would have “a collateral effect of inhibiting the freedom of expression, by making the individual the more reluctant to exercise it.”[1]

In the early 1990s, the Internet became more widely adopted and created means for users to engage in forums and other user-generated content. While this helped to expand the use of the Internet, it also resulted in a number of legal cases putting service providers at fault for the content generated by its users. This concern was raised by legal challenges against CompuServe and Prodigy, early service providers at this time.[2] CompuServe stated they would not attempt to regulate what users posted on their services, while Prodigy had employed a team of moderators to validate content. Both faced legal challenges related to content posted by their users. In Cubby, Inc. v. CompuServe Inc., CompuServe was found not be at fault as, by its stance as allowing all content to go unmoderated, it was a distributor and thus not liable for libelous content posted by users. However, Stratton Oakmont, Inc. v. Prodigy Services Co. found that as Prodigy had taken an editorial role with regard to customer content, it was a publisher and legally responsible for libel committed by customers.[3][a]

Chris Cox
Ron Wyden
Chris Cox (left) and Ron Wyden, the framers of Section 230

Service providers made their Congresspersons aware of these cases, believing that if upheld across the nation, it would stifle the growth of the Internet. United States Representative Christopher Cox (R-CA) had read an article about the two cases and felt the decisions were backwards. “It struck me that if that rule was going to take hold then the internet would become the Wild West and nobody would have any incentive to keep the internet civil”, Cox stated.[4]

At the time, Congress was preparing the Communications Decency Act (CDA), part of the omnibus Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was designed to make knowingly sending indecent or obscene material to minors a criminal offense. A version of the CDA had passed through the Senate pushed by Senator J. James Exon.[5] A grassroots effort in the tech industry reacted to try to convince the House of Representatives to challenge Exon’s bill. Based on the Stratton Oakmont decision, Congress recognized that by requiring service providers to block indecent content would make them be treated as publishers in context of the First Amendment and thus become liable for other illegal content such as libel, not set out in the existing CDA.[2] Cox and fellow Representative Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote the House bill’s section 509, titled the Internet Freedom and Family Empowerment Act, designed to override the decision from Stratton Oakmont, so that services providers could moderate content as necessary and did not have to act as a wholly neutral conduit. The new Act was added the section while the CDA was in conference within the House.

The overall Telecommunications Act, with both Exon’s CDA and Cox/Wyden’s provision, passed both Houses by near-unanimous votes and signed into law by President Bill Clinton by February 1996.[6] Cox/Wyden’s section was codified as Section 230 in Title 47 of the US Code. The anti-indecency portion of the CDA was immediately challenged on passage, resulting in the Supreme Court 1997 case, Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, that ruled all of the anti-indecency sections of the CDA were unconstitutional, but left Section 230.[7]

One of the first legal challenges to Section 230 was the 1997 case Zeran v. America Online, Inc., in which a Federal court affirmed that the purpose of Section 230 as passed by Congress was “to remove the disincentives to self-regulation created by the Stratton Oakmont decision”.[8] Under that court’s holding, computer service providers who regulated the dissemination of offensive material on their services risked subjecting themselves to liability, because such regulation cast the service provider in the role of a publisher. Fearing that the specter of liability would therefore deter service providers from blocking and screening offensive material, Congress enacted § 230’s broad immunity “to remove disincentives for the development and utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that empower parents to restrict their children’s access to objectionable or inappropriate online material.”[8] In addition, Zeran notes “the amount of information communicated via interactive computer services is . . . staggering. The specter of tort liability in an area of such prolific speech would have an obviously chilling effect. It would be impossible for service providers to screen each of their millions of postings for possible problems. Faced with potential liability for each message republished by their services, interactive computer service providers might choose to severely restrict the number and type of messages posted. Congress considered the weight of the speech interests implicated and chose to immunize service providers to avoid any such restrictive effect.”[8]

Application and limits

In analyzing the availability of the immunity offered by Section 230, courts generally apply a three-prong test. A defendant must satisfy each of the three prongs to gain the benefit of the immunity:[9]

  1. The defendant must be a “provider or user” of an “interactive computer service.”
  2. The cause of action asserted by the plaintiff must treat the defendant as the “publisher or speaker” of the harmful information at issue.
  3. The information must be “provided by another information content provider,” i.e., the defendant must not be the “information content provider” of the harmful information at issue.

Section 230 immunity is not unlimited. The statute specifically excepts federal criminal liability and intellectual property claims.[10] However, state criminal laws have been held preempted in cases such as Backpage.com, LLC v. McKenna[11] and Voicenet Commc’ns, Inc. v. Corbett[12] (agreeing “[T]he plain language of the CDA provides … immunity from inconsistent state criminal laws.”).

As of mid-2016, courts have issued conflicting decisions regarding the scope of the intellectual property exclusion set forth in 47 U.S.C. § 230(e)(2). For example, in Perfect 10, Inc. v. CCBill, LLC,[13] the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the exception for intellectual property law applies only to federal intellectual property claims such as copyright infringement, trademark infringement, and patents, reversing a district court ruling that the exception applies to state-law right of publicity claims.[14] The 9th Circuit’s decision in Perfect 10 conflicts with conclusions from other courts including Doe v. Friendfinder. The Friendfinder court specifically discussed and rejected the lower court’s reading of “intellectual property law” in CCBill and held that the immunity does not reach state right of publicity claims.[15]

Additionally, with the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998, services provides must comply with additional requirements for copyright infringement to maintain “safe harbor” protections from liability, as defined in the DMCA’s Title II, Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act.[16]

Controversies

The first major challenge to Section 230 was in Zeran v. AOL, a 1997 case decided at the Fourth Circuit. The case involved a person that sued America Online (AOL) for failing to remove, in a timely manner, libelous ads posted by AOL users that inappropriately connected his home phone number to the Oklahoma City bombing. The court found for AOL and upheld the constitutionality of Section 230, stating that Section 230 “creates a federal immunity to any cause of action that would make service providers liable for information originating with a third-party user of the service.”[17] This rule, cementing Section 230’s liability protections, has been considered one of the most important case laws affecting the growth of the Internet, allowing websites to be able to incorporate user-generated content without fear of prosecution.[18] However, at the same time, this has led to Section 230 being used as a shield for some website owners as courts have ruled Section 230 provides complete immunity for ISPs with regard to the torts committed by their users over their systems.[19]

Sex trafficking

Around 2001, a University of Pennsylvania paper warned that “online sexual victimization of American children appears to have reached epidemic proportions” due to the allowances granted by Section 230.[20] Over the next decade, advocates against such exploitation such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children pressured major websites to block or remove content related to sex trafficking, leading to sites like FacebookMySpace, and Craigslist to pull such content. Because mainstream sites were blocking this content, those that engaged or profited from trafficking started to use more obscure sites, leading to the creation of sites like Backpage. In addition to removing these from the public eye, these new sites worked to obscure what trafficking was going on and who was behind it, limiting ability for law enforcement to take action.[20] Backpage and similar sites quickly came under numerous lawsuits from victims of the sex traffickers and exploiters for enabling this crime, but the court continually found in favor of Backpage due to Section 230,[21] and the Supreme Court let stand a Circuit Court decision in favor of Backpage due to Section 230 in January 2017.[22]

Due to numerous complaints from constituents, Congress began an investigation into Backpage and similar sites in January 2017, finding Backpage complicit in aiding and profiting from illegal sex trafficking.[23] Subsequently, Congress introduced the FOSTA-SESTA bills: the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) in the House of Representatives by Ann Wagner in April 2017, and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) U.S. Senate bill introduced by Rob Portman in August 2017. Combined, the FOSTA-SESTA bills modified Section 230 to exempt services providers from Section 230 immunity when dealing with civil or criminal crimes related to sex trafficking,[24] which removes section 230 safe harbors for services that knowingly facilitate or support sex trafficking.[25] The bill passed both Houses and was signed into law by President Donald Trump on April 11, 2018.[26][27]

The bills were criticized by pro-free speech and pro-Internet groups as a “disguised internet censorship bill” that weakens the section 230 safe harbors, places unnecessary burdens on Internet companies and intermediaries that handle user-generated content or communications with service providers required to proactively take action against sex trafficking activities, and requires a “team of lawyers” to evaluate all possible scenarios under state and federal law (which may be financially unfeasible for smaller companies).[28][29][30][31][32] Critics also argued that FOSTA-SESTA did not distinguish between consensual, legal sex offerings from non-consensual ones, and argued it would cause websites otherwise engaged in legal offerings of sex work would be threatened with liability charges.[23] Online sex workers argued that the bill would harm their safety, as the platforms they utilize for offering and discussing sexual services in a legal manner (as an alternative to street prostitution) had begun to reduce their services or shut down entirely due to the threat of liability under the bill.[33][34]

Social media

Many social media sites, notably Facebook and Twitter, came under scrutiny as a result of the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, where it was alleged that Russian agents used the sites to spread propaganda and fake news to swing the election in favor of Donald Trump. These platforms also were criticized for not taking action against users that used the social media outlets for harassment and hate speech against others. Shortly after the passage of FOSTA-SESTA acts, some in Congress recognized that additional changes could be made to Section 230 to require service providers to deal with these bad actors, beyond what Section 230 already provided to them.[35] During 2019, there have been renewed calls for changes in Section 230 to address what are seen as growing problems across social media and the protections given to tech companies.

Platform neutrality

Some politicians, including Republican senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, have accused major social networks of displaying a bias against conservative perspectives when moderating content (such as Twitter suspensions).[36][36][37][38] In a Fox News op-ed, Cruz argued that section 230 should only apply to providers that are politically “neutral”, suggesting that a provider “should be considered to be a [liable] ‘publisher or speaker’ of user content if they pick and choose what gets published or spoke.”[39] Section 230 does not contain any requirements that moderation decisions be neutral.[39] Hawley alleged that section 230 safe harbors were a “sweetheart deal between big tech and big government”.[40][41]

In December 2018, Republican house representative Louie Gohmert introduced the Biased Algorithm Deterrence Act (H.R.492), which would remove all section 230 protections for any provider that used filters or any other type of algorithms to display user content when otherwise not directed by a user.[42][43]

In June 2019, Hawley introduced the Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act (S. 1914), that would remove section 230 protections from companies whose services have more than 30 million active monthly users in the U.S. and more than 300 million worldwide, or have over $500 million in annual global revenue, unless they receive a certification from the majority of the Federal Trade Commission that they do not moderate against any political viewpoint, and have not done so in the past 2 years.[44][45]

There has been criticism—and support—of the proposed bill from various points on the political spectrum. A poll of more than 1,000 voters gave Senator Hawley’s bill a net favorability rating of 29 points among Republicans (53% favor, 24% oppose) and 26 points among Democrats (46% favor, 20% oppose).[46] Some Republicans feared that by adding FTC oversight, the bill would continue to fuel fears of a big government with excessive oversight powers.[47] Democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indicated support for the same approach Hawley has taken.[48] The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Graham, has also indicated support for the same approach Hawley has taken, saying “he is considering legislation that would require companies to uphold ‘best business practices’ to maintain their liability shield, subject to periodic review by federal regulators.” [49]

Legal experts have criticized the Republicans’ push to make Section 230 encompass platform neutrality. Wyden stated in response to potential law changes that “Section 230 is not about neutrality. Period. Full stop. 230 is all about letting private companies make their own decisions to leave up some content and take other content down.”[50] Law professor Jeff Kosseff, who has written extensively on Section 230, has stated that the Republican intentions are based on a “fundamental misunderstanding” of Section 230’s purpose, as platform neutrality was not one of the considerations made at the time of passage.[51] Kosseff stated that political neutrality was not the intent of Section 230 according to the framers, but rather making sure providers had the ability to make content-removal judgement without fear of liability.[2] There have been concerns that any attempt to weaken Section 230 could actually cause an increase in censorship when services lose their liability.[41][52]

Hate speech

In the wake of the 2019 shootings in Christchurch, New ZealandEl Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, the impact on Section 230 and liability towards online hate speech has been raised. In both the Christchurch and El Paso shootings, the perpetrator posted hate speech manifestos to 8chan, a moderated imageboard known to be favorable for the posting of extreme views. Concerned politicians and citizens raised calls at large tech companies for the need for hate speech to be removed from the Internet; however, hate speech is generally protected speech under the First Amendment, and Section 230 removes the liability for these tech companies to moderate such content as long as it is not illegal. This has given the appearance that tech companies do not need to be proactive against hateful content, thus allowing the hate content to fester online and lead to such incidents.[53][5]

Notable articles on this concerns were published after the El Paso shooting by The New York Times,[53] The Wall Street Journal,[54] and Bloomberg Businessweek,[5] among other outlets, but which were criticized by legal experts including Mike GodwinMark Lemley, and David Kaye, as the articles implied that hate speech was protected by Section 230, when it is in fact protected by the First Amendment. In the case of The New York Times, the paper issued a correction to affirm that the First Amendment protected hate speech, and not Section 230.[55][56][57]

Members of Congress have indicated they may pass a law that changes how Section 230 would apply to hate speed as to make tech companies liable for this. Wyden, now a Senator, stated that he intended for Section 230 to be both “a sword and a shield” for Internet companies, the “sword” allowing them to remove content they deem inappropriate for their service, and the shield to help keep offensive content their from sites without liability. However, Wyden argued that become tech companies have not been willing to use the sword to remove content, it is necessary to take away that shield.[53][5] Some have compared Section 230 to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a law that grants gun manufacturers immunity from certain types of lawsuits when their weapons are used in criminal acts. According to law professor Mary Anne Franks, “They have not only let a lot of bad stuff happen on their platforms, but they’ve actually decided to profit off of people’s bad behavior.”[5] Representative Beto O’Rourke has stated his intent for his 2020 presidential campaign to introduce sweeping changes to Section 230 to make Internet companies liable for not being proactive in taking down hate speech.[58]

Terrorism-related content

In the aftermath of the Backpage trial and subsequent passage of FOSTA-SESTA, others have found that Section 230 appears to protect tech companies from content that is otherwise illegal under United States law. Professor Danielle Citron and journalist Benjamin Wittes found that as late as 2018, several groups deemed as terrorist organizations by the United States had been able to maintain social media accounts on services run by American companies, despite federal laws that make providing material support to terrorist groups subject to civil and criminal charges.[59] However, case law from the Second Circuit has ruled that under Section 230, technology companies are not liable for civil claims based on terrorism-related content.[60]

Case law

Defamatory information

Immunity was upheld against claims that AOL unreasonably delayed in removing defamatory messages posted by third party, failed to post retractions, and failed to screen for similar postings.

  • Blumenthal v. Drudge, 992 F. Supp. 44, 49-53 (D.D.C. 1998).[62]

The court upheld AOL’s immunity from liability for defamation. AOL’s agreement with the contractor allowing AOL to modify or remove such content did not make AOL the “information content provider” because the content was created by an independent contractor. The Court noted that Congress made a policy choice by “providing immunity even where the interactive service provider has an active, even aggressive role in making available content prepared by others.”

The court upheld immunity for an Internet dating service provider from liability stemming from third party’s submission of a false profile. The plaintiff, Carafano, claimed the false profile defamed her, but because the content was created by a third party, the website was immune, even though it had provided multiple choice selections to aid profile creation.

  • Batzel v. Smith, 333 F.3d 1018 (9th Cir. 2003).[64]

Immunity was upheld for a website operator for distributing an email to a listserv where the plaintiff claimed the email was defamatory. Though there was a question as to whether the information provider intended to send the email to the listserv, the Court decided that for determining the liability of the service provider, “the focus should be not on the information provider’s intentions or knowledge when transmitting content but, instead, on the service provider’s or user’s reasonable perception of those intentions or knowledge.” The Court found immunity proper “under circumstances in which a reasonable person in the position of the service provider or user would conclude that the information was provided for publication on the Internet or other ‘interactive computer service’.”

  • Green v. AOL, 318 F.3d 465 (3rd Cir. 2003).[65]

The court upheld immunity for AOL against allegations of negligence. Green claimed AOL failed to adequately police its services and allowed third parties to defame him and inflict intentional emotional distress. The court rejected these arguments because holding AOL negligent in promulgating harmful content would be equivalent to holding AOL “liable for decisions relating to the monitoring, screening, and deletion of content from its network — actions quintessentially related to a publisher’s role.”

Immunity was upheld for an individual internet user from liability for republication of defamatory statements on a listserv. The court found the defendant to be a “user of interactive computer services” and thus immune from liability for posting information passed to her by the author.

  • MCW, Inc. v. badbusinessbureau.com(RipOff Report/Ed Magedson/XCENTRIC Ventures LLC) 2004 WL 833595, No. Civ.A.3:02-CV-2727-G (N.D. Tex. April 19, 2004).[67]

The court rejected the defendant’s motion to dismiss on the grounds of Section 230 immunity, ruling that the plaintiff’s allegations that the defendants wrote disparaging report titles and headings, and themselves wrote disparaging editorial messages about the plaintiff, rendered them information content providers. The Web site, http://www.badbusinessbureau.com, allows users to upload “reports” containing complaints about businesses they have dealt with.

  • Hy Cite Corp. v. badbusinessbureau.com (RipOff Report/Ed Magedson/XCENTRIC Ventures LLC), 418 F. Supp. 2d 1142 (D. Ariz. 2005).[68]

The court rejected immunity and found the defendant was an “information content provider” under Section 230 using much of the same reasoning as the MCW case.

False information

  • Gentry v. eBay, Inc., 99 Cal. App. 4th 816, 830 (2002).[69]

eBay‘s immunity was upheld for claims based on forged autograph sports items purchased on the auction site.

  • Ben Ezra, Weinstein & Co. v. America Online, 206 F.3d 980, 984-985 (10th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 824 (2000).[70]

Immunity for AOL was upheld against liability for a user’s posting of incorrect stock information.

Immunity was upheld against claims of fraud and money laundering. Google was not responsible for misleading advertising created by third parties who bought space on Google’s pages. The court found the creative pleading of money laundering did not cause the case to fall into the crime exception to Section 230 immunity.

Immunity for Orbitz and CheapTickets was upheld for claims based on fraudulent ticket listings entered by third parties on ticket resale marketplaces.

  • Herrick v. Grindr, 18-396

The Second Circuit upheld immunity for the Grindr dating app for LGBT persons under Section 230 in regards to the misuse of false profiles created in the names of a real person. The plaintiff had broken up with a boyfriend, who later went onto Grindr to create multiple false profiles that presented the real-life identity and address of the plaintiff and as being available for sexual encounters, as well as having illegal drugs for sale. The plaintiff reported that over a thousand men had come to his house for sex and drugs, based on the communications with the fake profile, and he began to fear for his safety. He sued Grindr for not taking actions to block the false profiles after multiple requests. Grindr asserted Section 230 did not make them liable for the actions of the ex-boyfriend. This was agreed by the district court and the Second Circuit.[73][74]

Sexually explicit content and minors

  • Doe v. America Online, 783 So. 2d 1010, 1013-1017 (Fl. 2001),[75] cert. denied, 122 S.Ct. 208 (2000).

The court upheld immunity against state claims of negligence based on “chat room marketing” of obscene photographs of minor by a third party.

  • Kathleen R. v. City of Livermore, 87 Cal. App. 4th 684, 692 (2001).[76]

The California Court of Appeal upheld the immunity of a city from claims of waste of public funds, nuisance, premises liability, and denial of substantive due process. The plaintiff’s child downloaded pornography from a public library’s computers, which did not restrict access to minors. The court found the library was not responsible for the content of the internet and explicitly found that section 230(c)(1) immunity covers governmental entities and taxpayer causes of action.

The court upheld immunity for a social networking site from negligence and gross negligence liability for failing to institute safety measures to protect minors and failure to institute policies relating to age verification. The Does’ daughter had lied about her age and communicated over MySpace with a man who later sexually assaulted her. In the court’s view, the Does’ allegations were “merely another way of claiming that MySpace was liable for publishing the communications.”

The court upheld immunity for Craigslist against a county sheriff’s claims that its “erotic services” section constituted a public nuisance because it caused or induced prostitution.

  • Backpage.com v. McKenna, et al., CASE NO. C12-954-RSM[79]
  • Backpage.com LLC v Cooper, Case #: 12-cv-00654[SS1][80]
  • Backpage.com LLC v Hoffman et al., Civil Action No. 13-cv-03952 (DMC) (JAD)[81]

The court upheld immunity for Backpage in contesting a Washington state law (SB6251)[82] that would have made providers of third-party content online liable for any crimes related to a minor in Washington state.[83] The states of Tennessee and New Jersey later passed similar legislation. Backpage argued that the laws violated Section 230, the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, and the First and Fifth Amendments.[82] In all three cases the courts granted Backpage permanent injunctive relief and awarded them attorney’s fees.[80][84][85][86][87]

The court ruled in favor of Backpage after Sheriff Tom Dart of Cook County IL, a frequent critic of Backpage and its adult postings section, sent a letter on his official stationary to Visa and MasterCard demanding that these firms “immediately cease and desist” allowing the use of their credit cards to purchase ads on Backpage. Within two days both companies withdrew their services from Backpage.[89] Backpage filed a lawsuit asking for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against Dart granting Backpage relief and return to the status quo prior to Dart sending the letter. Backpage alleged that Dart’s actions were unconstitutional, violating the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution as well as Section 230 of the CDA. Backpage asked for Dart to retract his “cease and desist” letters.[90] After initially being denied the injunctive relief by a lower court,[91][92] the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed that decision and directed that a permanent injunction be issued enjoining Dart and his office from taking any actions “to coerce or threaten credit card companies…with sanctions intended to ban credit card or other financial services from being provided to Backpage.com.”[93] The court cited section 230 as part of its decision.

Discriminatory housing ads

The court upheld immunity for Craigslist against Fair Housing Act claims based on discriminatory statements in postings on the classifieds website by third party users.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected immunity for the Roommates.com roommate matching service for claims brought under the federal Fair Housing Act[96] and California housing discrimination laws.[97] The court concluded that the manner in which the service elicited information from users concerning their roommate preferences (by having dropdowns specifying gender, presence of children, and sexual orientation), and the manner in which it utilized that information in generating roommate matches (by eliminating profiles that did not match user specifications), the matching service created or developed the information claimed to violate the FHA, and thus was responsible for it as an “information content provider.” The court upheld immunity for the descriptions posted by users in the “Additional Comments” section because these were entirely created by users.

Threats

  • Delfino v. Agilent Technologies, 145 Cal. App. 4th 790 (2006), cert denied, 128 S. Ct. 98 (2007).

A California Appellate Court unanimously upheld immunity from state tort claims arising from an employee’s use of the employer’s e-mail system to send threatening messages. The court concluded that an employer that provides Internet access to its employees qualifies as a “provider . . . of an interactive service.”

Failure to warn

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected immunity for claims of negligence under California law. Doe filed a complaint against Internet Brands which alleged a “failure to warn” her of a known rape scheme, despite her relationship to them as a ModelMayhem.com member. They also had requisite knowledge to avoid future victimization of ModelMayhem.com users by warning users of online sexual predators. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the Communications Decency Act did not bar the claim and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings.

In February 2015, the Ninth Circuit panel set aside its 2014 opinion and set the case for reargument. In May 2016, the panel again held that Doe’s case could proceed.[98][99]

Terrorism

  • Force v. Facebook, Inc., No. 18-397 (2d Cir. July 31, 2019)

The Second Circuit upheld immunity in civil claims for service providers for hosting terrorism-related content created by users. Families, friends, and associates of several killed in Hamas-attacks filed suit against Facebook under the United State’s Anti-Terrorism Act, asserting that since Hamas members used Facebook to coordinate activities, Facebook was liable for its content. While previous rules at federal District and Circuit level have generally ruled against such cases, this decision in the Second Circuit was first to assert that Section 230’s safe harbor provisions do apply even to acts related to terrorism that may be posted by users of service providers, thus dismissing the suit against Facebook. The Second Circuit ruled that the various algorithms Facebook uses to recommend content remains as part of the role of the distributor of the content and not the publisher, since these automated tools were essentially neutral.[60]

Similar legislation in other countries]

European Union

Directive 2000/31/EC[100] establishes a safe haven regime for hosting providers:

  • Article 14 establishes that hosting providers are not responsible for the content they host as long as (1) the acts in question are neutral intermediary acts of a mere technical, automatic and passive capacity; (2) they are not informed of its illegal character, and (3) they act promptly to remove or disable access to the material when informed of it.
  • Article 15 precludes member states from imposing general obligations to monitor hosted content for potential illegal activities.

The updated Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (Directive 2019/790) Article 17 makes providers liable if they fail to take “effective and proportionate measures” to prevent users from uploading certain copyright violations and do not response immediately to takedown requests.[101]

Australia

In Dow Jones & Company Inc v Gutnick,[102] the High Court of Australia treated defamatory material on a server outside Australia as having been published in Australia when it is downloaded or read by someone in Australia.

Gorton v Australian Broadcasting Commission & Anor (1973) 1 ACTR 6

Under the Defamation Act 2005 (NSW),[103] s 32, a defence to defamation is that the defendant neither knew, nor ought reasonably to have known of the defamation, and the lack of knowledge was not due to the defendant’s negligence.

New Zealandcause of the material CompuServe’s network was carrying into Germany. He was convicted and sentenced to two years probation on May 28, 1998.[104][105] He was cleared on appeal on November 17, 1999.[106][107]

The Oberlandesgericht (OLG) Cologne, an appellate court, found that an online auctioneer does not have an active duty to check for counterfeit goods (Az 6 U 12/01).[108]

In one example, the first-instance district court of Hamburg issued a temporary restraining order requiring message board operator Universal Boards to review all comments before they can be posted to prevent the publication of messages inciting others to download harmful files. The court reasoned that “the publishing house must be held liable for spreading such material in the forum, regardless of whether it was aware of the content.”[109]

United Kingdom

Also see: Defamation Act 2013.

The laws of libel and defamation will treat a disseminator of information as having “published” material posted by a user, and the onus will then be on a defendant to prove that it did not know the publication was defamatory and was not negligent in failing to know: Goldsmith v Sperrings Ltd (1977) 2 All ER 566; Vizetelly v Mudie’s Select Library Ltd (1900) 2 QB 170; Emmens v Pottle & Ors (1885) 16 QBD 354.

In an action against a website operator, on a statement posted on the website, it is a defence to show that it was not the operator who posted the statement on the website. The defence is defeated if it was not possible for the claimant to identify the person who posted the statement, or the claimant gave the operator a notice of complaint and the operator failed to respond in accordance with regulations.

Notes

  1. ^ The details of the Stratton Oakmont case would later serve as the basis for the book and its film The Wolf of Wall Street

References …

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_230_of_the_Communications_Decency_Act

 

United States antitrust law

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“The Bosses of the Senate”, a cartoon by Joseph Keppler depicting corporate interests—from steel, copper, oil, iron, sugar, tin, and coal to paper bags, envelopes, and salt—as giant money bags looming over the tiny senators at their desks in the Chamber of the United States Senate.[1]

In the United States, antitrust law is a collection of federal and state government laws that regulates the conduct and organization of business corporations, generally to promote competition for the benefit of consumers. (The concept is called competition law in other English-speaking countries.) The main statutes are the Sherman Act of 1890, the Clayton Act of 1914 and the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914. These Acts serve three major functions. First, Section 1 of the Sherman Act prohibits price-fixing and the operation of cartels, and prohibits other collusive practices that unreasonably restrain trade. Second, Section 7 of the Clayton Act restricts the mergers and acquisitions of organizations that would likely substantially lessen competition. Third, Section 2 of the Sherman Act prohibits the abuse of monopoly power.[2]

The Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, state governments and private parties who are sufficiently affected may all bring actions in the courts to enforce the antitrust laws. The scope of antitrust laws, and the degree to which they should interfere in an enterprise’s freedom to conduct business, or to protect smaller businesses, communities and consumers, are strongly debated. One view, mostly closely associated with the “Chicago School of economics” suggests that antitrust laws should focus solely on the benefits to consumers and overall efficiency, while a broad range of legal and economic theory sees the role of antitrust laws as also controlling economic power in the public interest.[3]

Contents

History

Although “trust” has a specific legal meaning (where one person holds property for the benefit of another), in the late 19th century the word was commonly used to denote big business, because that legal instrument was frequently used to effect a combination of companies.[4] Large manufacturing conglomerates emerged in great numbers in the 1880s and 1890s, and were perceived to have excessive economic power.[5] The Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 began a shift towards federal rather than state regulation of big business.[6] It was followed by the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914 and the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914, the Robinson–Patman Act of 1936, and the Celler–Kefauver Act of 1950.

In the 1880s, hundreds of small short-line railroads were being bought up and consolidated into giant systems. (Separate laws and policies emerged regarding railroads and financial concerns such as banks and insurance companies.) People for strong antitrust laws argued that, in order for the American economy to be successful, it would require free competition and the opportunity for individual Americans to build their own businesses. As Senator John Sherman put it, “If we will not endure a king as a political power we should not endure a king over the production, transportation, and sale of any of the necessaries of life.” Congress passed the Sherman Antitrust Act almost unanimously in 1890, and it remains the core of antitrust policy. The Act prohibits agreements in restraint of trade and abuse of monopoly power. It gives the Justice Department the mandate to go to federal court for orders to stop illegal behavior or to impose remedies.[7][original research?]

Public officials during the Progressive Era put passing and enforcing strong antitrust high on their agenda. President Theodore Roosevelt sued 45 companies under the Sherman Act, while William Howard Taft sued 75. In 1902, Roosevelt stopped the formation of the Northern Securities Company, which threatened to monopolize transportation in the Northwest (see Northern Securities Co. v. United States).

Standard Oil (Refinery No. 1 in ClevelandOhio, pictured) was a major company broken up under United States antitrust laws.

One of the better-known trusts was the Standard Oil CompanyJohn D. Rockefeller in the 1870s and 1880s had used economic threats against competitors and secret rebate deals with railroads to build what was called a monopoly in the oil business, though some minor competitors remained in business. In 1911 the Supreme Court agreed that in recent years (1900–1904) Standard had violated the Sherman Act (see Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States). It broke the monopoly into three dozen separate companies that competed with one another, including Standard Oil of New Jersey (later known as Exxon and now ExxonMobil), Standard Oil of Indiana (Amoco), Standard Oil Company of New York (Mobil, again, later merged with Exxon to form ExxonMobil), of California (Chevron), and so on. In approving the breakup the Supreme Court added the “rule of reason”: not all big companies, and not all monopolies, are evil; and the courts (not the executive branch) are to make that decision. To be harmful, a trust had to somehow damage the economic environment of its competitors.[citation needed]

United States Steel Corporation, which was much larger than Standard Oil, won its antitrust suit in 1920 despite never having delivered the benefits to consumers that Standard Oil did.[citation needed] In fact, it lobbied for tariff protection that reduced competition, and so contending that it was one of the “good trusts” that benefited the economy is somewhat doubtful.[citation needed] Likewise International Harvester survived its court test, while other monopolies were broken up in tobacco, meatpacking, and bathtub fixtures. Over the years hundreds of executives of competing companies who met together illegally to fix prices went to federal prison.[citation needed]

In 1914 Congress passed the Clayton Act, which prohibited specific business actions (such as price discrimination and tying) if they substantially lessened competition. At the same time Congress established the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), whose legal and business experts could force business to agree to “consent decrees“, which provided an alternative mechanism to police antitrust.[citation needed]

American hostility to big business began to decrease after the Progressive Era.[citation needed] For example, Ford Motor Company dominated auto manufacturing, built millions of cheap cars that put America on wheels, and at the same time lowered prices, raised wages, and promoted manufacturing efficiency. Welfare capitalism made large companies an attractive place to work; new career paths opened up in middle management; local suppliers discovered that big corporations were big purchasers.[citation needed] Talk of trust busting faded away. Under the leadership of Herbert Hoover, the government in the 1920s promoted business cooperation, fostered the creation of self-policing trade associations, and made the FTC an ally of “respectable business”.[citation needed]

The printing equipment company ATF explicitly states in its 1923 manual that its goal is to ‘discourage unhealthy competition’ in the printing industry.

During the New Deal, attempts were made to stop cutthroat competition. The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) was a short-lived program in 1933–35 designed to strengthen trade associations, and raise prices, profits and wages at the same time. The Robinson-Patman Act of 1936 sought to protect local retailers against the onslaught of the more efficient chain stores, by making it illegal to discount prices. To control big business, the New Deal policymakers preferred federal and state regulation —controlling the rates and telephone services provided by AT&T, for example— and by building up countervailing power in the form of labor unions.[citation needed]

The antitrust environment of the 70’s was dominated by the case United States v. IBM, which was filed by the U.S. Justice Department in 1969. IBM at the time dominated the computer market through alleged bundling of software and hardware as well as sabotage at the sales level and false product announcements. It was one of the largest and certainly the lengthiest antitrust case the DoJ brought against a company. In 1982, the Reagan administration dismissed the case, and the costs and wasted resources were heavily criticized. However, contemporary economists argue that the legal pressure on IBM during that period allowed for the development of an independent software and personal computer industry with major importance for the national economy.[8]

In 1982 the Reagan administration used the Sherman Act to break up AT&T into one long-distance company and seven regional “Baby Bells“, arguing that competition should replace monopoly for the benefit of consumers and the economy as a whole. The pace of business takeovers quickened in the 1990s, but whenever one large corporation sought to acquire another, it first had to obtain the approval of either the FTC or the Justice Department. Often the government demanded that certain subsidiaries be sold so that the new company would not monopolize a particular geographical market.[citation needed]

In 1999 a coalition of 19 states and the federal Justice Department sued Microsoft.[9] A highly publicized trial found that Microsoft had strong-armed many companies in an attempt to prevent competition from the Netscape browser.[10] In 2000, the trial court ordered Microsoft to split in two, preventing it from future misbehavior.[11][9] The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part. In addition, it removed the judge from the case for discussing the case with the media while it was still pending.[12] With the case in front of a new judge, Microsoft and the government settled, with the government dropping the case in return for Microsoft agreeing to cease many of the practices the government challenged.[13] In his defense, CEO Bill Gates argued that Microsoft always worked on behalf of the consumer and that splitting the company would diminish efficiency and slow the pace of software development.[citation needed]

Cartels and collusion

Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal. Every person who shall make any contract or engage in any combination or conspiracy hereby declared to be illegal shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $100,000,000 if a corporation, or, if any other person, $1,000,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court.

Sherman Act 1890 §1

Preventing collusion and cartels that act in restraint of trade is an essential task of antitrust law. It reflects the view that each business has a duty to act independently on the market, and so earn its profits solely by providing better priced and quality products than its competitors. The Sherman Act §1 prohibits “[e]very contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce.”[14] This targets two or more distinct enterprises acting together in a way that harms third parties. It does not capture the decisions of a single enterprise, or a single economic entity, even though the form of an entity may be two or more separate legal persons or companies. In Copperweld Corp. v. Independence Tube Corp.[15] it was held an agreement between a parent company and a wholly owned subsidiary could not be subject to antitrust law, because the decision took place within a single economic entity.[16] This reflects the view that if the enterprise (as an economic entity) has not acquired a monopoly position, or has significant market power, then no harm is done. The same rationale has been extended to joint ventures, where corporate shareholders make a decision through a new company they form. In Texaco Inc. v. Dagher[17] the Supreme Court held unanimously that a price set by a joint venture between Texaco and Shell Oil did not count as making an unlawful agreement. Thus the law draws a “basic distinction between concerted and independent action”.[18] Multi-firm conduct tends to be seen as more likely than single-firm conduct to have an unambiguously negative effect and “is judged more sternly”.[19] Generally the law identifies four main categories of agreement. First, some agreements such as price fixing or sharing markets are automatically unlawful, or illegal per se. Second, because the law does not seek to prohibit every kind of agreement that hinders freedom of contract, it developed a “rule of reason” where a practice might restrict trade in a way that is seen as positive or beneficial for consumers or society. Third, significant problems of proof and identification of wrongdoing arise where businesses make no overt contact, or simply share information, but appear to act in concert. Tacit collusion, particularly in concentrated markets with a small number of competitors or oligopolists, have led to significant controversy over whether or not antitrust authorities should intervene. Fourth, vertical agreements between a business and a supplier or purchaser “up” or “downstream” raise concerns about the exercise of market power, however they are generally subject to a more relaxed standard under the “rule of reason”.

Restrictive practices

Some practices are deemed by the courts to be so obviously detrimental that they are categorized as being automatically unlawful, or illegal per se. The simplest and central case of this is price fixing. This involves an agreement by businesses to set the price or consideration of a good or service which they buy or sell from others at a specific level. If the agreement is durable, the general term for these businesses is a cartel. It is irrelevant whether or not the businesses succeed in increasing their profits, or whether together they reach the level of having market power as might a monopoly. Such collusion is illegal per se.

Bid rigging is a form of price fixing and market allocation that involves an agreement in which one party of a group of bidders will be designated to win the bid. Geographic market allocation is an agreement between competitors not to compete within each other’s geographic territories.

  • Addyston Pipe and Steel Co. v. United States[20] pipe manufacturers had agreed among themselves to designate one lowest bidder for government contracts. This was held to be an unlawful restraint of trade contrary to the Sherman Act. However, following the reasoning of Justice Taft in the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court held that implicit in the Sherman Act §1 there was a rule of reason, so that not every agreement which restrained the freedom of contract of the parties would count as an anti-competitive violation.
  • Hartford Fire Insurance Co. v. California, 113 S.Ct. 2891 (1993) 5 to 4, a group of reinsurance companies acting in London were successfully sued by California for conspiring to make U.S. insurance companies abandon policies beneficial to consumers, but costly to reinsure. The Sherman Act was held to have extraterritorial application, to agreements outside U.S. territory.
Group boycotts of competitors, customers or distributors

Rule of reason

If an antitrust claim does not fall within a per se illegal category, the plaintiff must show the conduct causes harm in “restraint of trade” under the Sherman Act §1 according to “the facts peculiar to the business to which the restraint is applied”.[21] This essentially means that unless a plaintiff can point to a clear precedent, to which the situation is analogous, proof of an anti-competitive effect is more difficult. The reason for this is that the courts have endeavoured to draw a line between practices that restrain trade in a “good” compared to a “bad” way. In the first case, United States v. Trans-Missouri Freight Association,[22] the Supreme Court found that railroad companies had acted unlawfully by setting up an organisation to fix transport prices. The railroads had protested that their intention was to keep prices low, not high. The court found that this was not true, but stated that not every “restraint of trade” in a literal sense could be unlawful. Just as under the common law, the restraint of trade had to be “unreasonable”. In Chicago Board of Trade v. United States the Supreme Court found a “good” restraint of trade.[23] The Chicago Board of Trade had a rule that commodities traders were not allowed to privately agree to sell or buy after the market’s closing time (and then finalise the deals when it opened the next day). The reason for the Board of Trade having this rule was to ensure that all traders had an equal chance to trade at a transparent market price. It plainly restricted trading, but the Chicago Board of Trade argued this was beneficial. Brandeis J., giving judgment for a unanimous Supreme Court, held the rule to be pro-competitive, and comply with the rule of reason. It did not violate the Sherman Act §1. As he put it,

Every agreement concerning trade, every regulation of trade, restrains. To bind, to restrain, is of their very essence. The true test of legality is whether the restraint imposed is such as merely regulates and perhaps thereby promotes competition or whether it is such as may suppress or even destroy competition. To determine that question, the court must ordinarily consider the facts peculiar to the business to which the restraint is applied, its condition before and after the restraint was imposed, the nature of the restraint, and its effect, actual or probable.[24]

Tacit collusion and oligopoly

Vertical restraints

Resale price maintenance
  • Dr. Miles Medical Co. v. John D. Park and Sons, 220 U.S. 373 (1911) affirmed a lower court’s holding that a massive minimum resale price maintenance scheme was unreasonable and thus offended Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
  • Kiefer-Stewart Co. v. Seagram & Sons, Inc., 340 U.S. 211 (1951) it was unlawful for private liquor dealers to require that their products only be resold up to a maximum price. It unduly restrained the freedom of businesses and was per se illegal.
  • Albrecht v. Herald Co., 390 U.S. 145 (1968) setting a fixed price, minimum or maximum, held to violate section 1 of the Sherman Act
  • State Oil Co. v. Khan, 522 U.S. 3 (1997) vertical maximum price fixing had to be adjudged according to a rule of reason
  • Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v. PSKS, Inc. 551 U.S. 877 (2007) 5 to 4 decision that vertical price restraints were not per se illegal. A leather manufacturer therefore did not violate the Sherman Act by stopping delivery of goods to a retailer after the retailer refused to raise its prices to the leather manufacturer’s standards.
Outlet, territory or customer limitations
  • Packard Motor Car Co. v. Webster Motor Car Co., 243 F.2d 418, 420 (D.C. Cir.), cert, denied, 355 U.S. 822 (1957)
  • Continental Television v. GTE Sylvania, 433 U.S. 36 (1977) 6 to 2, held that it was not an antitrust violation, and it fell within the rule of reason, for a seller to limit the number of franchises and require the franchisees only sell goods within its area
  • United States v. Colgate & Co.250 U.S. 300 (1919) there is no unlawful action by a manufacturer or seller, who publicly announces a price policy, and then refuses to deal with businesses who do not subsequently comply with the policy. This is in contrast to agreements to maintain a certain price.
  • United States v. Parke, Davis & Co.362 U.S. 29 (1960) under Sherman Act §4
  • Monsanto Co. v. Spray-Rite Service Corp.465 U.S. 752 (1984), stating that, “under Colgate, the manufacturer can announce its re-sale prices in advance and refuse to deal with those who fail to comply, and a distributor is free to acquiesce to the manufacturer’s demand in order to avoid termination”. Monsanto, an agricultural chemical, terminated its distributorship agreement with Spray-Rite on the ground that it failed to hire trained salesmen and promote sales to dealers adequately. Held, not per se illegal, because the restriction related to non-price matters, and so was to be judged under the rule of reason.
  • Business Electronics Corp. v. Sharp Electronics Corp.485 U.S. 717 (1988) electronic calculators; “a vertical restraint is not illegal per se unless it includes some agreement on price or price levels. … [T]here is a presumption in favor of a rule-of-reason standard; [and] departure from that standard must be justified by demonstrable economic effect, such as the facilitation of cartelizing … “

Mergers

No person engaged in commerce or in any activity affecting commerce shall acquire, directly or indirectly, the whole or any part of the stock or other share capital and no person subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission shall acquire the whole or any part of the assets of another person engaged also in commerce or in any activity affecting commerce, where in any line of commerce or in any activity affecting commerce in any section of the country, the effect of such acquisition may be substantially to lessen competition, or to tend to create a monopoly.

Clayton Act 1914 §7

Although the Sherman Act 1890 initially dealt, in general, with cartels (where businesses combined their activities to the detriment of others) and monopolies (where one business was so large it could use its power to the detriment of others alone) it was recognized that this left a gap. Instead of forming a cartel, businesses could simply merge into one entity. The period between 1895 and 1904 saw a “great merger movement” as business competitors combined into ever more giant corporations.[25] However upon a literal reading of Sherman Act, no remedy could be granted until a monopoly had already formed. The Clayton Act 1914 attempted to fill this gap by giving jurisdiction to prevent mergers in the first place if they would “substantially lessen competition”.

Dual antitrust enforcement by the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission has long elicited concerns about disparate treatment of mergers. In response, in September 2014, the House Judiciary Committee approved the Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules Act (“SMARTER Act”).[26]

Horizontal mergers

Vertical mergers

Conglomerate mergers

Monopoly and power

Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $100,000,000 if a corporation, or, if any other person, $1,000,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court.

Sherman Act 1890 §2

The law’s treatment of monopolies is potentially the strongest in the field of antitrust law. Judicial remedies can force large organizations to be broken up, be run subject to positive obligations, massive penalties may be imposed, and/or the people involved can be sentenced to jail. Under §2 of the Sherman Act 1890 every “person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize … any part of the trade or commerce among the several States” commits an offence.[27] The courts have interpreted this to mean that monopoly is not unlawful per se, but only if acquired through prohibited conduct.[28] Historically, where the ability of judicial remedies to combat market power have ended, the legislature of states or the Federal government have still intervened by taking public ownership of an enterprise, or subjecting the industry to sector specific regulation (frequently done, for example, in the cases watereducationenergy or health care). The law on public services and administration goes significantly beyond the realm of antitrust law’s treatment of monopolies. When enterprises are not under public ownership, and where regulation does not foreclose the application of antitrust law, two requirements must be shown for the offense of monopolization. First, the alleged monopolist must possess sufficient power in an accurately defined market for its products or services. Second, the monopolist must have used its power in a prohibited way. The categories of prohibited conduct are not closed, and are contested in theory. Historically they have been held to include exclusive dealingprice discrimination, refusing to supply an essential facilityproduct tying and predatory pricing.

Monopolization

  • Northern Securities Co. v. United States, 193 U.S. 197 (1904) 5 to 4, a railway monopoly, formed through a merger of 3 corporations was ordered to be dissolved. The owner, James Jerome Hill was forced to manage his ownership stake in each independently.
  • Swift & Co. v. United States, 196 U.S. 375 (1905) the antitrust laws entitled the federal government to regulate monopolies that had a direct impact on commerce
  • Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States, 221 U.S. 1 (1911) Standard Oil was dismantled into geographical entities given its size, and that it was too much of a monopoly
  • United States v. American Tobacco Company, 221 U.S. 106 (1911) found to have monopolized the trade.
  • United States v. Alcoa, 148 F.2d 416 (2d Cir. 1945) a monopoly can be deemed to exist depending on the size of the market. It was generally irrelevant how the monopoly was achieved since the fact of being dominant on the market was negative for competition. (Criticised by Alan Greenspan.)
  • United States v. E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., 351 U.S. 377 (1956), illustrates the cellophane paradox of defining the relevant market. If a monopolist has set a price very high, there may now be many substitutable goods at similar prices, which could lead to a conclusion that the market share is small, and there is no monopoly. However, if a competitive price were charged, there would be a lower price, and so very few substitutes, whereupon the market share would be very high, and a monopoly established.
  • United States v. Syufy Enterprises, 903 F.2d 659 (9th Cir. 1990) necessity of barriers to entry
  • Lorain Journal Co. v. United States, 342 U.S. 143 (1951) attempted monopolization
  • United States v. American Airlines, Inc., 743 F.2d 1114 (1985)
  • Spectrum Sports, Inc. v. McQuillan, 506 U.S. 447 (1993) in order for monopolies to be found to have acted unlawfully, action must have actually been taken. The threat of abusive behavior is insufficient.
  • Fraser v. Major League Soccer, 284 F.3d 47 (1st Cir. 2002) there could be no unlawful monopolization of the soccer market by MLS where no market previously existed
  • United States v. Griffith 334 U.S. 100 (1948) four cinema corporations secured exclusive rights from distributors, foreclosing competitors. Specific intent to monopolize is not required, violating the Sherman Act §§1 and 2.
  • United Shoe Machinery Corp v. U.S., 347 U.S. 521 (1954) exclusionary behavior
  • United States v. Grinnell Corp., 384 U.S. 563 (1966) Grinnell made plumbing supplies and fire sprinklers, and with affiliates had 87% of the central station protective service market. From this predominant share there was no doubt of monopoly power.

Exclusive dealing

  • Standard Oil Co. v. United States (Standard Stations), 337 U.S. 293 (1949): oil supply contracts affected a gross business of $58 million, comprising 6.7% of the total in a seven-state area, in the context of many similar arrangements, held to be contrary to Clayton Act §3.
  • Tampa Electric Co. v. Nashville Coal Co., 365 U.S. 320 (1961): Tampa Electric Co contracted to buy coal for 20 years to provide power in Florida, and Nashville Coal Co later attempted to end the contract on the basis that it was an exclusive supply agreement contrary to the Clayton Act § 3 or the Sherman Act §§ 1 or 2. Held, no violation because foreclosed share of market was insignificant this did not affect competition sufficiently.
  • US v. Delta Dental of Rhode Island, 943 F. Supp. 172 (1996)

Price discrimination

Essential facilities

Tying products

It shall be unlawful for any person engaged in commerce, in the course of such commerce, to lease or make a sale or contract for sale of goods, wares, merchandise, machinery, supplies, or other commodities, whether patented or unpatented, for use, consumption, or resale within the United States or any Territory thereof or the District of Columbia or any insular possession or other place under the jurisdiction of the United States, or fix a price charged therefor, or discount from, or rebate upon, such price, on the condition, agreement, or understanding that the lessee or purchaser thereof shall not use or deal in the goods, wares, merchandise, machinery, supplies, or other commodities of a competitor or competitors of the lessor or seller, where the effect of such lease, sale, or contract for sale or such condition, agreement, or understanding may be to substantially lessen competition or tend to create a monopoly in any line of commerce.

Clayton Act 1914 §3

Predatory pricing

In theory, which is hotly contested, predatory pricing happens when large companies with huge cash reserves and large lines of credit stifle competition by selling their products and services at a loss for a time, to force their smaller competitors out of business. With no competition, they are then free to consolidate control of the industry and charge whatever prices they wish. At this point, there is also little motivation for investing in further technological research, since there are no competitors left to gain an advantage over. High barriers to entry such as large upfront investment, notably named sunk costs, requirements in infrastructure and exclusive agreements with distributors, customers, and wholesalers ensure that it will be difficult for any new competitors to enter the market, and that if any do, the trust will have ample advance warning and time in which to either buy the competitor out, or engage in its own research and return to predatory pricing long enough to force the competitor out of business. Critics argue that the empirical evidence shows that “predatory pricing” does not work in practice and is better defeated by a truly free market than by antitrust laws (see Criticism of the theory of predatory pricing).

Intellectual property

Scope of antitrust law

Antitrust laws do not apply to, or are modified in, several specific categories of enterprise (including sports, media, utilities, health careinsurancebanks, and financial markets) and for several kinds of actor (such as employees or consumers taking collective action).[29]

Collective actions

First, since the Clayton Act 1914 §6, there is no application of antitrust laws to agreements between employees to form or act in labor unions. This was seen as the “Bill of Rights” for labor, as the Act laid down that the “labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce”. The purpose was to ensure that employees with unequal bargaining power were not prevented from combining in the same way that their employers could combine in corporations,[30] subject to the restrictions on mergers that the Clayton Act set out. However, sufficiently autonomous workers, such as professional sports players have been held to fall within antitrust provisions.[31]

Pro sports exemptions and the NFL cartel

Since 1922 the courts and Congress have left Major League Baseball, as played at Chicago‘s Wrigley Field, unrestrained by antitrust laws.

Second, professional sports leagues enjoy a number of exemptions. Mergers and joint agreements of professional football, hockey, baseball, and basketball leagues are exempt.[32] Major League Baseball was held to be broadly exempt from antitrust law in Federal Baseball Club v. National League.[33] Holmes J held that the baseball league’s organization meant that there was no commerce between the states taking place, even though teams traveled across state lines to put on the games. That travel was merely incidental to a business which took place in each state. It was subsequently held in 1952 in Toolson v. New York Yankees,[34] and then again in 1972 Flood v. Kuhn,[35] that the baseball league’s exemption was an “aberration”. However Congress had accepted it, and favored it, so retroactively overruling the exemption was no longer a matter for the courts, but the legislature. In United States v. International Boxing Club of New York,[36] it was held that, unlike baseball, boxing was not exempt, and in Radovich v. National Football League (NFL),[37] professional football is generally subject to antitrust laws. As a result of the AFL-NFL merger, the National Football League was also given exemptions in exchange for certain conditions, such as not directly competing with college or high school football.[38] However, the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in American Needle Inc. v. NFL characterised the NFL as a “cartel” of 32 independent businesses subject to antitrust law, not a single entity.

Media

Third, antitrust laws are modified where they are perceived to encroach upon the media and free speech, or are not strong enough. Newspapers under joint operating agreements are allowed limited antitrust immunity under the Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970.[39] More generally, and partly because of concerns about media cross-ownership in the United States, regulation of media is subject to specific statutes, chiefly the Communications Act of 1934 and the Telecommunications Act of 1996, under the guidance of the Federal Communications Commission. The historical policy has been to use the state’s licensing powers over the airwaves to promote plurality. Antitrust laws do not prevent companies from using the legal system or political process to attempt to reduce competition. Most of these activities are considered legal under the Noerr-Pennington doctrine. Also, regulations by states may be immune under the Parker immunity doctrine.[40]

  • Professional Real Estate Investors, Inc., v. Columbia Pictures, 508 U.S. 49 (1993)
  • Allied Tube v. Indian Head, Inc., 486 U.S. 492 (1988)
  • FTC v. Superior Ct. TLA, 493 U.S. 411 (1990)

Other

Fourth, the government may grant monopolies in certain industries such as utilities and infrastructure where multiple players are seen as unfeasible or impractical.[41]

Fifth, insurance is allowed limited antitrust exemptions as provided by the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945.[42]

Sixth, M&A transactions in the defense sector are often subject to greater antitrust scrutiny from the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.[43]

Remedies and enforcement

The several district courts of the United States are invested with jurisdiction to prevent and restrain violations of sections 1 to 7 of this title; and it shall be the duty of the several United States attorneys, in their respective districts, under the direction of the Attorney General, to institute proceedings in equity to prevent and restrain such violations. Such proceedings may be by way of petition setting forth the case and praying that such violation shall be enjoined or otherwise prohibited. When the parties complained of shall have been duly notified of such petition the court shall proceed, as soon as may be, to the hearing and determination of the case; and pending such petition and before final decree, the court may at any time make such temporary restraining order or prohibition as shall be deemed just in the premises.

Sherman Act 1890 §4

The remedies for violations of U.S. antitrust laws are as broad as any equitable remedy that a court has the power to make, as well as being able to impose penalties. When private parties have suffered an actionable loss, they may claim compensation. Under the Sherman Act 1890 §7, these may be trebled, a measure to encourage private litigation to enforce the laws and act as a deterrent. The courts may award penalties under §§1 and 2, which are measured according to the size of the company or the business. In their inherent jurisdiction to prevent violations in future, the courts have additionally exercised the power to break up businesses into competing parts under different owners, although this remedy has rarely been exercised (examples include Standard OilNorthern Securities CompanyAmerican Tobacco CompanyAT&T Corporation and, although reversed on appeal, Microsoft). Three levels of enforcement come from the Federal government, primarily through the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, the governments of states, and private parties. Public enforcement of antitrust laws is seen as important, given the cost, complexity and daunting task for private parties to bring litigation, particularly against large corporations.

Federal government

Along with the Federal Trade Commission the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. is the public enforcer of antitrust law.

Federal Trade Commission building, view from southeast

The federal government, via both the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, can bring civil lawsuits enforcing the laws. The United States Department of Justice alone may bring criminal antitrust suits under federal antitrust laws.[44] Perhaps the most famous antitrust enforcement actions brought by the federal government were the break-up of AT&T’s local telephone service monopoly in the early 1980s[45] and its actions against Microsoft in the late 1990s.

Additionally, the federal government also reviews potential mergers to attempt to prevent market concentration. As outlined by the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, larger companies attempting to merge must first notify the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division prior to consummating a merger.[46] These agencies then review the proposed merger first by defining what the market is and then determining the market concentration using the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) and each company’s market share.[46] The government looks to avoid allowing a company to develop market power, which if left unchecked could lead to monopoly power.[46]

The United States Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission target nonreportable mergers for enforcement as well. Notably, between 2009 and 2013, 20% of all merger investigations conducted by the United States Department of Justice involved nonreportable transactions.[47]

  • FTC v. Sperry & Hutchinson Trading Stamp Co., 405 U.S. 233 (1972). Case held that the FTC is entitled to bring enforcement action against businesses that act unfairly, as where supermarket trading stamps company injured consumers by prohibiting them from exchanging trading stamps. The FTC could prevent the restrictive practice as unfair, even though there was no specific antitrust violation.

International cooperation

Despite considerable effort by the Clinton administration, the Federal government attempted to extend antitrust cooperation with other countries for mutual detection, prosecution and enforcement. A bill was unanimously passed by the US Congress;[48] however by 2000 only one treaty has been signed[49] with Australia.[50] On 3 July 2017 the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission announced it was seeking explanations from a US company, Apple Inc. In relation to potentially anticompetitive behaviour against an Australian bank in possible relation to Apple Pay.[51] It is not known whether the treaty could influence the enquiry or outcome.

In many cases large US companies tend to deal with overseas antitrust within the overseas jurisdiction, autonomous of US laws, such as in Microsoft Corp v Commission and more recently, Google v European Union where the companies were heavily fined.[52] Questions have been raised with regards to the consistency of antitrust between jurisdictions where the same antitrust corporate behaviour, and similar antitrust legal environment, is prosecuted in one jurisdiction but not another.[53]

State governments

State attorneys general may file suits to enforce both state and federal antitrust laws.

Private suits]

Private civil suits may be brought, in both state and federal court, against violators of state and federal antitrust law. Federal antitrust laws, as well as most state laws, provide for triple damages against antitrust violators in order to encourage private lawsuit enforcement of antitrust law. Thus, if a company is sued for monopolizing a market and the jury concludes the conduct resulted in consumers’ being overcharged $200,000, that amount will automatically be tripled, so the injured consumers will receive $600,000. The United States Supreme Court summarized why Congress authorized private antitrust lawsuits in the case Hawaii v. Standard Oil Co. of Cal., 405 U.S. 251, 262 (1972):

Every violation of the antitrust laws is a blow to the free-enterprise system envisaged by Congress. This system depends on strong competition for its health and vigor, and strong competition depends, in turn, on compliance with antitrust legislation. In enacting these laws, Congress had many means at its disposal to penalize violators. It could have, for example, required violators to compensate federal, state, and local governments for the estimated damage to their respective economies caused by the violations. But, this remedy was not selected. Instead, Congress chose to permit all persons to sue to recover three times their actual damages every time they were injured in their business or property by an antitrust violation. By offering potential litigants the prospect of a recovery in three times the amount of their damages, Congress encouraged these persons to serve as “private attorneys general”.

  • Pfizer, Inc. v. Government of India, 434 U.S. 308 (1978) foreign governments have standing to sue in private actions in the U.S. courts.
  • Bigelow v. RKO Radio Pictures, Inc., 327 U.S. 251 (1946) treble damages awarded under the Clayton Act §4 needed not to be mathematically precise, but based on a reasonable estimate of loss, and not speculative. This meant a jury could set a higher estimate of how much movie theaters lost, when the film distributors conspired with other theaters to let them show films first.
  • Illinois Brick Co. v. Illinois, 431 U.S. 720 (1977) indirect purchasers of goods where prices have been raised have no standing to sue. Only the direct contractors of cartel members may, to avoid double or multiple recovery.
  • Mitsubishi Motors Corp. v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc., 473 U.S. 614 (1985) on arbitration

Theory

The Supreme Court calls the Sherman Antitrust Act a “charter of freedom”, designed to protect free enterprise in America.[54] One view of the statutory purpose, urged for example by Justice Douglas, was that the goal was not only to protect consumers, but at least as importantly to prohibit the use of power to control the marketplace.[55]

We have here the problem of bigness. Its lesson should by now have been burned into our memory by Brandeis. The Curse of Bigness shows how size can become a menace–both industrial and social. It can be an industrial menace because it creates gross inequalities against existing or putative competitors. It can be a social menace … In final analysis, size in steel is the measure of the power of a handful of men over our economy … The philosophy of the Sherman Act is that it should not exist … Industrial power should be decentralized. It should be scattered into many hands so that the fortunes of the people will not be dependent on the whim or caprice, the political prejudices, the emotional stability of a few self-appointed men … That is the philosophy and the command of the Sherman Act. It is founded on a theory of hostility to the concentration in private hands of power so great that only a government of the people should have it.

— Dissenting opinion of Justice Douglas in United States v. Columbia Steel Co.[55]

By contrast, efficiency argue that antitrust legislation should be changed to primarily benefit consumers, and have no other purpose. Free market economist Milton Friedman states that he initially agreed with the underlying principles of antitrust laws (breaking up monopolies and oligopolies and promoting more competition), but that he came to the conclusion that they do more harm than good.[56] Thomas Sowell argues that, even if a superior business drives out a competitor, it does not follow that competition has ended:

In short, the financial demise of a competitor is not the same as getting rid of competition. The courts have long paid lip service to the distinction that economists make between competition—a set of economic conditions—and existing competitors, though it is hard to see how much difference that has made in judicial decisions. Too often, it seems, if you have hurt competitors, then you have hurt competition, as far as the judges are concerned.[57]

Alan Greenspan argues that the very existence of antitrust laws discourages businessmen from some activities that might be socially useful out of fear that their business actions will be determined illegal and dismantled by government. In his essay entitled Antitrust, he says: “No one will ever know what new products, processes, machines, and cost-saving mergers failed to come into existence, killed by the Sherman Act before they were born. No one can ever compute the price that all of us have paid for that Act which, by inducing less effective use of capital, has kept our standard of living lower than would otherwise have been possible.” Those, like Greenspan, who oppose antitrust tend not to support competition as an end in itself but for its results—low prices. As long as a monopoly is not a coercive monopoly where a firm is securely insulated from potential competition, it is argued that the firm must keep prices low in order to discourage competition from arising. Hence, legal action is uncalled for and wrongly harms the firm and consumers.[58]

Thomas DiLorenzo, an adherent of the Austrian School of economics, found that the “trusts” of the late 19th century were dropping their prices faster than the rest of the economy, and he holds that they were not monopolists at all.[59] Ayn Rand, the American writer, provides a moral argument against antitrust laws. She holds that these laws in principle criminalize any person engaged in making a business successful, and, thus, are gross violations of their individual expectations.[60] Such laissez faire advocates suggest that only a coercive monopoly should be broken up, that is the persistent, exclusive control of a vitally needed resource, good, or service such that the community is at the mercy of the controller, and where there are no suppliers of the same or substitute goods to which the consumer can turn. In such a monopoly, the monopolist is able to make pricing and production decisions without an eye on competitive market forces and is able to curtail production to price-gouge consumers. Laissez-faire advocates argue that such a monopoly can only come about through the use of physical coercion or fraudulent means by the corporation or by government intervention and that there is no case of a coercive monopoly ever existing that was not the result of government policies.

Judge Robert Bork‘s writings on antitrust law (particularly The Antitrust Paradox), along with those of Richard Posner and other law and economics thinkers, were heavily influential in causing a shift in the U.S. Supreme Court’s approach to antitrust laws since the 1970s, to be focused solely on what is best for the consumer rather than the company’s practices.[45]

See also[

Notes …

References

Texts
  • ET Sullivan, H Hovenkamp and HA Shlanski, Antitrust Law, Policy and Procedure: Cases, Materials, Problems (6th edn 2009)
  • CJ Goetz, FS McChesney and TA Lambert, Antitrust Law, Interpretation and Implementation (5th edn 2012)
  • P Areeda and L Kaplow, Antitrust Analysis: Problems, Texts, Cases (1997)
Theory
  • W Adams and JW Brock, Antitrust Economics on Trial: Dialogue in New Learning (Princeton 1991) ISBN 0-691-00391-2.
  • O Black, Conceptual Foundations of Antitrust (2005)
  • RH BorkThe Antitrust Paradox (Free Press 1993) ISBN 0-02-904456-1.
  • Choi, Jay Pil (ed.) (2007). Recent Developments in Antitrust: Theory and EvidenceThe MIT PressISBN978-0-262-03356-5.
  • Antonio Cucinotta, ed. Post-Chicago Developments in Antitrust Law (2003)
  • David S Evans. Microsoft, Antitrust and the New Economy: Selected Essays (2002)
  • John E Kwoka and Lawrence J White, eds. The Antitrust Revolution: Economics, Competition, and Policy (2003)
  • RA PosnerAntitrust Law: An Economic Perspective (1976)
Articles
Historical
  • Adolf Berle and Gardiner MeansThe Modern Corporation and Private Property (1932)
  • Louis BrandeisThe Curse of Bigness (1934)
  • Alfred ChandlerThe Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business (1977)
  • J Dirlam and A Kahn, Fair Competition: The Law and Economics of Antitrust Policy (1954)
  • J Dorfman, The Economic Mind in American Civilization 1865–1918 (1949)
  • T Freyer, Regulating Big Business: Antitrust in Great Britain and America, 1880–1990 (1992)
  • W Hamilton & I Till, Antitrust in Action (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940)
  • W Letwin, Law and Economic Policy in America: The Evolution of the Sherman Antitrust Act (1965)
  • E Rozwenc, ed. Roosevelt, Wilson and The Trusts. (1950)
  • George StiglerThe Organization of Industry (1968)
  • G Stocking and M Watkins, Monopoly and Free Enterprise (1951).
  • H Thorelli, The Federal Antitrust Policy: Origination of an American Tradition (1955)
  • S Webb and B WebbIndustrial Democracy (9th edn 926) Part III, ch 2

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_antitrust_law

Industrial Concentration


Industrial concentration” refers to a structural characteristic of the business sector. It is the degree to which production in an industry—or in the economy as a whole—is dominated by a few large firms. Once assumed to be a symptom of “market failure,” concentration is, for the most part, seen nowadays as an indicator of superior economic performance. In the early 1970s, Yale Brozen, a key contributor to the new thinking, called the profession’s about-face on this issue “a revolution in economics.” Industrial concentration remains a matter of public policy concern even so.

The Measurement of Industrial Concentration

Industrial concentration was traditionally summarized by the concentration ratio, which simply adds the market shares of an industry’s four, eight, twenty, or fifty largest companies. In 1982, when new federal merger guidelines were issued, the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) became the standard measure of industrial concentration. Suppose that an industry contains ten firms that individually account for 25, 15, 12, 10, 10, 8, 7, 5, 5, and 3 percent of total sales. The four-firm concentration ratio for this industry—the most widely used number—is 25 + 15 + 12 + 10 = 62, meaning that the top four firms account for 62 percent of the industry’s sales. The HHI, by contrast, is calculated by summing the squared market shares of all of the firms in the industry: 252 + 152 + 122 + 102 + 102 + 82 + 72 + 52 + 52 + 32 = 1,366. The HHI has two distinct advantages over the concentration ratio. It uses information about the relative sizes of all of an industry’s members, not just some arbitrary subset of the leading companies, and it weights the market shares of the largest enterprises more heavily.

In general, the fewer the firms and the more unequal the distribution of market shares among them, the larger the HHI. Two four-firm industries, one containing equalsized firms each accounting for 25 percent of total sales, the other with market shares of 97, 1, 1, and 1, have the same four-firm concentration ratio (100) but very different HHIs (2,500 versus 9,412). An industry controlled by a single firm has an HHI of 1002 = 10,000, while the HHI for an industry populated by a very large number of very small firms would approach the index’s theoretical minimum value of zero.

Concentration in the U.S. Economy

According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s merger guidelines, an industry is considered “concentrated” if the HHI exceeds 1,800; it is “unconcentrated” if the HHI is below 1,000. Since 1982, HHIs based on the value of shipments of the fifty largest companies have been calculated and reported in the manufacturing series of the Economic Census.1 Concentration levels exceeding 1,800 are rare. The exceptions include glass containers (HHI = 2,959.9 in 1997), motor vehicles (2,505.8), and breakfast cereals (2,445.9). Cigarette manufacturing also is highly concentrated, but its HHI is not reported owing to the small number of firms in that industry, the largest four of which accounted for 89 percent of shipments in 1997. At the other extreme, the HHI for machine shops was 1.9 the same year.

Whether an industry is concentrated hinges on how narrowly or broadly it is defined, both in terms of the product it produces and the extent of the geographic area it serves. The U.S. footwear manufacturing industry as a whole is very unconcentrated (HHI = 317 in 1997); the level of concentration among house slipper manufacturers is considerably higher, though (HHI = 2,053.4). Similarly, although the national ready-mix concrete industry is unconcentrated (HHI = 29.4), concentration in that industry undoubtedly is much higher in specific cities and towns that typically are served by only a handful of such firms.

These examples suggest that concentration varies substantially across U.S. industries. Trends in concentration vary from industry to industry, but most changes in concentration proceed at a glacial pace. So, too, does aggregate concentration: the fifty largest U.S. companies accounted for 24 percent of manufacturing value added (revenue minus the costs of fuel, power, and raw materials) in 1997, the same percentage as in 1992 (and as in 1954, for that matter). On some measures—the percentages of total employment and total assets controlled by the nation’s 50, 100, or 200 largest firms—industrial concentration in the United States actually has declined since World War II.

Concentration indexes calculated for a particular year conceal the identities of the industry’s members. In reality, turnover among the nation’s leading firms is fairly regular over long time horizons, averaging between 2 and 5 percent annually. Success at one point in time does not guarantee survival: only three of the ten largest U.S. companies in 1909 made the top one hundred list in 1987. Available concentration indexes, which are based solely on domestic manufacturing data, also ignore the global dimensions of industrial production.

The Causes and Consequences of Industrial Concentration

Some industries are more concentrated than others because of technical properties of their production technologies or unique characteristics of the markets they serve. Economies of scale, which allow firms to reduce their average costs as they increase their rates of output, favor large-scale production over small-scale production. Thus, industries for which scale economies are important (e.g., auto manufacturing and petroleum refining) are expected to be more concentrated than others in which costs do not fall as rapidly as output expands (e.g., cut-and-sew apparel manufacturing). Similarly, concentration tends to be higher in industries, such as aircraft and semiconductor manufacturing, where learning curves generate substantial production-cost savings as additional units of the original model or design are made.

Owing to so-called network effects, some goods increase in value as more people use them. Computer operating systems, word-processing software, and video recorder-players are examples of such goods, as are literal networks such as railroads, commercial air transportation, and wire line telephony. Because standard technologies and protocols that provide compatible interconnections are critical to the realization of network effects— allowing faxes to be sent and received or computer users easily to exchange files—consumers rationally favor large networks over small ones. The necessity of building networks that accommodate critical masses of users means that only a few providers will achieve dominant positions, and therefore the industry will tend to be highly concentrated. Such domination is likely to be temporary, however, since consumers will switch networks when benefits outweigh costs, as illustrated by the replacement of Betaformatted video tapes by VHS formatted ones, which in turn are being replaced by DVDs.

Industrial concentration also is promoted by barriers to entry, which make it difficult for new firms to displace established firms. Barriers to entry are erected by government-conferred privileges such as patents, copyrights and trademarks, exclusive franchises, and licensing requirements. Existing firms may possess other advantages over newcomers, including lower costs and brand loyalty, which make entry more difficult.

The fundamental public policy question posed by industrial concentration is this: Are concentrated industries somehow less competitive than unconcentrated ones? Concentration would have adverse effects if it bred market power—the ability to charge prices in excess of costs—thereby increasing industry profits at consumers’ expense. In theory, industrial concentration can facilitate the exercise of market power if the members of the industry agree to cooperate rather than compete, or if the industry’s dominant firm takes the lead in setting prices that rivals follow. And, indeed, the evidence generated by hundreds of econometric studies suggests that concentrated industries are more profitable than unconcentrated ones. But that evidence begs the question. It does not tell us whether profits are higher in concentrated industries because of market power effects or because the firms in those industries use resources more efficiently (i.e., have lower costs).

Some economists have found that concentration leads to higher prices, but the link observed typically is both small (prices elevated by 1–5 percent) and statistically weak. A detailed econometric study by Sam Peltzman (1977) reaches the opposite conclusion. He reports that profits are higher in concentrated industries not because prices are higher, but because they do not decline as much as costs do as efficient firms expand their scales of operation. Analyses by Yale Brozen (1982), Harold Demsetz (1974), and others have found that the positive relation between industrial concentration and profits disappears altogether when firm size is taken into account. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that some industries are more concentrated than others because large firms have significant cost advantages over small firms. There is, in short, little unequivocal evidence that industrial concentration per se is worrisome. Just the reverse seems to be true.

Public Policies Toward Industrial Concentration

Consolidating production in the hands of fewer firms through mergers and acquisitions obviously is the most direct route to industrial concentration. Preventing transactions that, by eliminating one or more competitors, would lead to undue increases in concentration and the possible exercise of market power by the remaining firms is the mandate of the two federal antitrust agencies—the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission—under section 7 of the Clayton Act (1914). That mandate was strengthened considerably by the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act (1978), which requires firms to notify the antitrust authorities of their intention to merge and then to hold the transaction in abeyance until it has been reviewed. Most transactions with summed firm values of fifteen million dollars or more had to file premerger notifications initially; in February 2001 that threshold was raised to fifty million dollars and indexed for inflation.

Two important factors that antitrust authorities consider in deciding whether to allow a proposed merger to proceed are the level of market concentration if the merger is consummated and the change in market concentration from its premerger level. (Note that the “market” considered relevant for merger analysis hardly ever corresponds to the “industry” defined by the Economic Census; antitrust markets may be defined more broadly or more narrowly; in practice, the definition of the relevant market usually is the key to whether a merger is lawful or not.) Concentration thresholds are laid out in the Justice Department’s merger guidelines, first promulgated in 1968, revised substantially in 1982, and amended several times since.

The guidelines state that proposed mergers are unlikely to be challenged if the postmerger market is unconcentrated (HHI remains below 1,000). However, mergers generally will not be approved if, following consummation, market concentration falls within the 1,000–1,800 range, and the HHI increases by more than 100 points or, if the postmerger HHI is 1,800 or more, concentration increases by more than 50 points.2 Exceptions are provided when the merging firms can demonstrate significant cost savings, when barriers to entry are low, or when one of the merger’s partners would fail otherwise. (In the European Union, by contrast, competition policy, including merger law enforcement, is shaped principally by fears of possible “abuses of dominant market positions” by large firms.)

Studies examining the enforcement of section 7 under the merger guidelines have found that they are not always followed closely. Mergers are, indeed, more likely to be challenged the greater the level of market concentration and the higher the barriers to entry are thought to be. But law enforcement also is found to be influenced significantly by political pressures on the antitrust authorities from groups that stand to lose if a merger is approved, including rivals worried that the transaction will create a more effective competitor. In fact, studies of stock-market reactions to news that a merger is likely to be challenged typically find competitors to be the main beneficiaries of such decisions.


About the Author

William F. Shughart II is F. A. P. Barnard Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Mississippi. He was special assistant to the director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Economics during the Reagan administration and currently is editor in chief of Public Choice and associate editor of the Southern Economic Journal.


Further Reading

Introductory

Adams, Walter, and James Brock. The Structure of American Industry. 11th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2005.
Cabral, Luís M. B. Introduction to Industrial Organization. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000.
Kwoka, John E. Jr., and Lawrence J. White. The Antitrust Revolution: Economics, Competition, and Policy. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Pautler, Paul A. “Evidence on Mergers and Acquisitions.” Antitrust Bulletin 48 (Spring 2003): 119–221.
Shughart, William F. II. Antitrust Policy and Interest-Group Politics. New York: Quorum Books, 1990.
Shughart, William F. II. “Regulation and Antitrust.” In Charles K. Rowley and Friedrich Schneider, eds., The Encyclopedia of Public Choice. Vol. 1. Boston: Kluwer, 2004. Pp. 263–283.

 

Advanced

Brozen, Yale. Concentration, Mergers, and Public Policy. New York: Macmillan, 1982.
Carlton, Dennis W., and Jeffrey M. Perloff. Modern Industrial Organization. 3d ed. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 2000.
Coate, Malcolm B., Richard S. Higgins, and Fred S. Mc-Chesney. “Bureaucracy and Politics in FTC Merger Challenges.” Journal of Law and Economics 33 (October 1990): 463–482.
Demsetz, Harold. “Two Systems of Belief About Monopoly.” In Harvey J. Goldschmid, H. Michael Mann, and J. Fred Weston, eds., Industrial Concentration: The New Learning. Boston: Little, Brown, 1974.
Goldschmid, Harvey J., H. Michael Mann, and J. Fred Weston, eds. Industrial Concentration: The New Learning. Boston: Little, Brown, 1974.
McChesney, Fred S., and William F. Shughart II, eds. The Causes and Consequences of Antitrust: The Public-Choice Perspective. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.
Peltzman, Sam. “The Gains and Losses from Industrial Concentration.” Journal of Law and Economics 20 (April 1977): 229–263.
Shy, Oz. The Economics of Network Industries. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
Stiglitz, Joseph E., and G. Frank Mathewson, eds. New Developments in the Analysis of Market Structure. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1986.

Footnotes

The Economic Census has been conducted every five years since 1967, and before that for 1954, 1958, and 1963. Prior to 1997, it was known as the Census of Manufactures. That same year, industries began being categorized according to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), which replaced the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes used until 1992. Industrial concentration also is reported by the Economic Census on the basis of value added. Industry concentration ratios and HHIs for the 1992 and 1997 economic censuses can be accessed online at: http://www.census.gov/epcd/www/concentration.html. Information on industrial concentration is not readily available for sectors of the economy other than manufacturing.

When firms with market shares of s1 and s2 merge, the HHI increases by (s1 + s2)2 − s12 − s22 = 2s1s2. So, for example, if a merger is proposed between the two largest firms in the hypothetical ten-firm industry described earlier, the HHI would increase by 2 × 25 × 15 = 750 points (from 1,366 to 2,116). According to the guidelines, that merger would in all likelihood be challenged.

 

Cryptocurrency

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Various cryptocurrency logos.

cryptocurrency (or crypto currency) is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange that uses strong cryptography to secure financial transactions, control the creation of additional units, and verify the transfer of assets.[1][2][3] Cryptocurrencies use decentralized control as opposed to centralized digital currency and central banking systems.[4]

The decentralized control of each cryptocurrency works through distributed ledger technology, typically a blockchain, that serves as a public financial transaction database.[5]

Bitcoin, first released as open-source software in 2009, is generally considered the first decentralized cryptocurrency.[6] Since the release of bitcoin, over 4,000 altcoins (alternative variants of bitcoin, or other cryptocurrencies) have been created.

Contents

History

In 1983, the American cryptographer David Chaum conceived an anonymous cryptographic electronic money called ecash.[7][8] Later, in 1995, he implemented it through Digicash,[9] an early form of cryptographic electronic payments which required user software in order to withdraw notes from a bank and designate specific encrypted keys before it can be sent to a recipient. This allowed the digital currency to be untraceable by the issuing bank, the government, or any third party.

In 1996, the NSA published a paper entitled How to Make a Mint: the Cryptography of Anonymous Electronic Cash, describing a Cryptocurrency system first publishing it in a MIT mailing list[10] and later in 1997, in The American Law Review (Vol. 46, Issue 4).[11]

In 1998, Wei Dai published a description of “b-money”, characterized as an anonymous, distributed electronic cash system.[12] Shortly thereafter, Nick Szabo described bit gold.[13] Like bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that would follow it, bit gold (not to be confused with the later gold-based exchange, BitGold) was described as an electronic currency system which required users to complete a proof of work function with solutions being cryptographically put together and published. A currency system based on a reusable proof of work was later created by Hal Finney who followed the work of Dai and Szabo.[citation needed]

The first decentralized cryptocurrency, bitcoin, was created in 2009 by pseudonymous developer Satoshi Nakamoto. It used SHA-256, a cryptographic hash function, as its proof-of-work scheme.[14][15] In April 2011, Namecoin was created as an attempt at forming a decentralized DNS, which would make internet censorship very difficult. Soon after, in October 2011, Litecoin was released. It was the first successful cryptocurrency to use scrypt as its hash function instead of SHA-256. Another notable cryptocurrency, Peercoin was the first to use a proof-of-work/proof-of-stake hybrid.[16]

On 6 August 2014, the UK announced its Treasury had been commissioned to do a study of cryptocurrencies, and what role, if any, they can play in the UK economy. The study was also to report on whether regulation should be considered.[17]

Formal definition

According to Jan Lansky, a cryptocurrency is a system that meets six conditions:[18]

  1. The system does not require a central authority, its state is maintained through distributed consensus.
  2. The system keeps an overview of cryptocurrency units and their ownership.
  3. The system defines whether new cryptocurrency units can be created. If new cryptocurrency units can be created, the system defines the circumstances of their origin and how to determine the ownership of these new units.
  4. Ownership of cryptocurrency units can be proved exclusively cryptographically.
  5. The system allows transactions to be performed in which ownership of the cryptographic units is changed. A transaction statement can only be issued by an entity proving the current ownership of these units.
  6. If two different instructions for changing the ownership of the same cryptographic units are simultaneously entered, the system performs at most one of them.

In March 2018, the word cryptocurrency was added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.[19]

Altcoin

The term altcoin has various similar definitions. Stephanie Yang of The Wall Street Journal defined altcoins as “alternative digital currencies,”[20] while Paul Vigna, also of The Wall Street Journal, described altcoins as alternative versions of bitcoin.[21] Aaron Hankins of the MarketWatch refers to any cryptocurrencies other than bitcoin as altcoins.[22]

Crypto token

blockchain account can provide functions other than making payments, for example in decentralized applications or smart contracts. In this case, the units or coins are sometimes referred to as crypto tokens (or cryptotokens).

Architecture

Decentralized cryptocurrency is produced by the entire cryptocurrency system collectively, at a rate which is defined when the system is created and which is publicly known. In centralized banking and economic systems such as the Federal Reserve System, corporate boards or governments control the supply of currency by printing units of fiat money or demanding additions to digital banking ledgers. In case of decentralized cryptocurrency, companies or governments cannot produce new units, and have not so far provided backing for other firms, banks or corporate entities which hold asset value measured in it. The underlying technical system upon which decentralized cryptocurrencies are based was created by the group or individual known as Satoshi Nakamoto.[23]

As of May 2018, over 1,800 cryptocurrency specifications existed.[24] Within a cryptocurrency system, the safety, integrity and balance of ledgers is maintained by a community of mutually distrustful parties referred to as miners: who use their computers to help validate and timestamp transactions, adding them to the ledger in accordance with a particular timestamping scheme.[14]

Most cryptocurrencies are designed to gradually decrease production of that currency, placing a cap on the total amount of that currency that will ever be in circulation.[25] Compared with ordinary currencies held by financial institutions or kept as cash on hand, cryptocurrencies can be more difficult for seizure by law enforcement.[1] This difficulty is derived from leveraging cryptographic technologies.

Blockchain

The validity of each cryptocurrency’s coins is provided by a blockchain. A blockchain is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography.[23][26] Each block typically contains a hash pointer as a link to a previous block,[26] a timestamp and transaction data.[27] By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data. It is “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way”.[28] For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for validating new blocks. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires collusion of the network majority.

Blockchains are secure by design and are an example of a distributed computing system with high Byzantine fault toleranceDecentralized consensus has therefore been achieved with a blockchain.[29] Blockchains solve the double-spending problem without the need of a trusted authority or central server, assuming no 51% attack (that has worked against several cryptocurrencies).

Timestamping

Cryptocurrencies use various timestamping schemes to “prove” the validity of transactions added to the blockchain ledger without the need for a trusted third party.

The first timestamping scheme invented was the proof-of-work scheme. The most widely used proof-of-work schemes are based on SHA-256 and scrypt.[16]

Some other hashing algorithms that are used for proof-of-work include CryptoNightBlakeSHA-3, and X11.

The proof-of-stake is a method of securing a cryptocurrency network and achieving distributed consensus through requesting users to show ownership of a certain amount of currency. It is different from proof-of-work systems that run difficult hashing algorithms to validate electronic transactions. The scheme is largely dependent on the coin, and there’s currently no standard form of it. Some cryptocurrencies use a combined proof-of-work/proof-of-stake scheme.[16]

Mining

Hashcoin mine

In cryptocurrency networks, mining is a validation of transactions. For this effort, successful miners obtain new cryptocurrency as a reward. The reward decreases transaction fees by creating a complementary incentive to contribute to the processing power of the network. The rate of generating hashes, which validate any transaction, has been increased by the use of specialized machines such as FPGAs and ASICs running complex hashing algorithms like SHA-256 and Scrypt.[30] This arms race for cheaper-yet-efficient machines has been on since the day the first cryptocurrency, bitcoin, was introduced in 2009.[30] With more people venturing into the world of virtual currency, generating hashes for this validation has become far more complex over the years, with miners having to invest large sums of money on employing multiple high performance ASICs. Thus the value of the currency obtained for finding a hash often does not justify the amount of money spent on setting up the machines, the cooling facilities to overcome the enormous amount of heat they produce, and the electricity required to run them.[30][31]

Some miners pool resources, sharing their processing power over a network to split the reward equally, according to the amount of work they contributed to the probability of finding a block. A “share” is awarded to members of the mining pool who present a valid partial proof-of-work.

As of February 2018, the Chinese Government halted trading of virtual currency, banned initial coin offerings and shut down mining. Some Chinese miners have since relocated to Canada.[32] One company is operating data centers for mining operations at Canadian oil and gas field sites, due to low gas prices.[33] In June 2018, Hydro Quebec proposed to the provincial government to allocate 500 MW to crypto companies for mining.[34] According to a February 2018 report from Fortune,[35] Iceland has become a haven for cryptocurrency miners in part because of its cheap electricity. Prices are contained because nearly all of the country’s energy comes from renewable sources, prompting more mining companies to consider opening operations in Iceland.[citation needed]

In March 2018, a town in Upstate New York put an 18-month moratorium on all cryptocurrency mining in an effort to preserve natural resources and the “character and direction” of the city.[36]

GPU price rise

An increase in cryptocurrency mining increased the demand of graphics cards (GPU) in 2017.[37] Popular favorites of cryptocurrency miners such as Nvidia’s GTX 1060 and GTX 1070 graphics cards, as well as AMD’s RX 570 and RX 580 GPUs, doubled or tripled in price – or were out of stock.[38] A GTX 1070 Ti which was released at a price of $450 sold for as much as $1100. Another popular card GTX 1060’s 6 GB model was released at an MSRP of $250, sold for almost $500. RX 570 and RX 580 cards from AMD were out of stock for almost a year. Miners regularly buy up the entire stock of new GPU’s as soon as they are available.[39]

Nvidia has asked retailers to do what they can when it comes to selling GPUs to gamers instead of miners. “Gamers come first for Nvidia,” said Boris Böhles, PR manager for Nvidia in the German region.[40]

Wallets

An example paper printable bitcoin wallet consisting of one bitcoin address for receiving and the corresponding private key for spending

cryptocurrency wallet stores the public and private “keys” or “addresses” which can be used to receive or spend the cryptocurrency. With the private key, it is possible to write in the public ledger, effectively spending the associated cryptocurrency. With the public key, it is possible for others to send currency to the wallet.

Anonymity

Bitcoin is pseudonymous rather than anonymous in that the cryptocurrency within a wallet is not tied to people, but rather to one or more specific keys (or “addresses”).[41] Thereby, bitcoin owners are not identifiable, but all transactions are publicly available in the blockchain. Still, cryptocurrency exchanges are often required by law to collect the personal information of their users.[citation needed]

Additions such as Zerocoin, Zerocash and CryptoNote have been suggested, which would allow for additional anonymity and fungibility.[42][43]

Fungibility

Most cryptocurrency tokens are fungible and interchangeable. However, unique non-fungible tokens also exist. Such tokens can serve as assets in games like CryptoKitties.

Economics

Cryptocurrencies are used primarily outside existing banking and governmental institutions and are exchanged over the Internet.

Transaction fees

Transaction fees for cryptocurrency depend mainly on the supply of network capacity at the time, versus the demand from the currency holder for a faster transaction. The currency holder can choose a specific transaction fee, while network entities process transactions in order of highest offered fee to lowest. Cryptocurrency exchanges can simplify the process for currency holders by offering priority alternatives and thereby determine which fee will likely cause the transaction to be processed in the requested time.

For ether, transaction fees differ by computational complexity, bandwidth use, and storage needs, while bitcoin transaction fees differ by transaction size and whether the transaction uses SegWit. In September 2018, the median transaction fee for ether corresponded to $0.017,[44] while for bitcoin it corresponded to $0.55.[45]

Exchanges

Cryptocurrency exchanges allow customers to trade cryptocurrencies for other assets, such as conventional fiat money, or to trade between different digital currencies.

Atomic swaps

Atomic swaps are a mechanism where one cryptocurrency can be exchanged directly for another cryptocurrency, without the need for a trusted third party such as an exchange.

ATMs

Jordan Kelley, founder of Robocoin, launched the first bitcoin ATM in the United States on 20 February 2014. The kiosk installed in Austin, Texas is similar to bank ATMs but has scanners to read government-issued identification such as a driver’s license or a passport to confirm users’ identities.[46]

Initial coin offerings

An initial coin offering (ICO) is a controversial means of raising funds for a new cryptocurrency venture. An ICO may be used by startups with the intention of avoiding regulation. However, securities regulators in many jurisdictions, including in the U.S., and Canada have indicated that if a coin or token is an “investment contract” (e.g., under the Howey test, i.e., an investment of money with a reasonable expectation of profit based significantly on the entrepreneurial or managerial efforts of others), it is a security and is subject to securities regulation. In an ICO campaign, a percentage of the cryptocurrency (usually in the form of “tokens”) is sold to early backers of the project in exchange for legal tender or other cryptocurrencies, often bitcoin or ether.[47][48][49]

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, four of the 10 biggest proposed initial coin offerings have used Switzerland as a base, where they are frequently registered as non-profit foundations. The Swiss regulatory agency FINMA stated that it would take a “balanced approach” to ICO projects and would allow “legitimate innovators to navigate the regulatory landscape and so launch their projects in a way consistent with national laws protecting investors and the integrity of the financial system.” In response to numerous requests by industry representatives, a legislative ICO working group began to issue legal guidelines in 2018, which are intended to remove uncertainty from cryptocurrency offerings and to establish sustainable business practices.[50]

Legality

The legal status of cryptocurrencies varies substantially from country to country and is still undefined or changing in many of them. While some countries have explicitly allowed their use and trade,[51] others have banned or restricted it. According to the Library of Congress, an “absolute ban” on trading or using cryptocurrencies applies in eight countries: Algeria, Bolivia, Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Nepal, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates. An “implicit ban” applies in another 15 countries, which include Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, Lesotho, Lithuania, Macau, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan.[52] In the United States and Canada, state and provincial securities regulators, coordinated through the North American Securities Administrators Association, are investigating “bitcoin scams” and ICOs in 40 jurisdictions.[53]

Various government agencies, departments, and courts have classified bitcoin differently. China Central Bank banned the handling of bitcoins by financial institutions in China in early 2014.

In Russia, though cryptocurrencies are legal, it is illegal to actually purchase goods with any currency other than the Russian ruble.[54] Regulations and bans that apply to bitcoin probably extend to similar cryptocurrency systems.[55]

Cryptocurrencies are a potential tool to evade economic sanctions for example against RussiaIran, or Venezuela. Russia also secretly supported Venezuela with the creation of the petro (El Petro), a national cryptocurrency initiated by the Maduro government to obtain valuable oil revenues by circumventing US sanctions.[citation needed]

In August 2018, the Bank of Thailand announced its plans to create its own cryptocurrency, the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).[56]

Advertising bans

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency advertisements were temporarily banned on Facebook,[57] GoogleTwitter,[58] Bing,[59] SnapchatLinkedIn and MailChimp.[60] Chinese internet platforms BaiduTencent, and Weibo have also prohibited bitcoin advertisements. The Japanese platform Line and the Russian platform Yandex have similar prohibitions.[61]

U.S. tax status

On 25 March 2014, the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ruled that bitcoin will be treated as property for tax purposes. This means bitcoin will be subject to capital gains tax.[62] In a paper published by researchers from Oxford and Warwick, it was shown that bitcoin has some characteristics more like the precious metals market than traditional currencies, hence in agreement with the IRS decision even if based on different reasons.[63]

In July 2019, the IRS started sending letters to cryptocurrency owners warning them to amend their returns and pay taxes.[64]

The legal concern of an unregulated global economy

As the popularity of and demand for online currencies has increased since the inception of bitcoin in 2009,[65] so have concerns that such an unregulated person to person global economy that cryptocurrencies offer may become a threat to society. Concerns abound that altcoins may become tools for anonymous web criminals.[66]

Cryptocurrency networks display a lack of regulation that has been criticized as enabling criminals who seek to evade taxes and launder money.

Transactions that occur through the use and exchange of these altcoins are independent from formal banking systems, and therefore can make tax evasion simpler for individuals. Since charting taxable income is based upon what a recipient reports to the revenue service, it becomes extremely difficult to account for transactions made using existing cryptocurrencies, a mode of exchange that is complex and difficult to track.[66]

Systems of anonymity that most cryptocurrencies offer can also serve as a simpler means to launder money. Rather than laundering money through an intricate net of financial actors and offshore bank accounts, laundering money through altcoins can be achieved through anonymous transactions.[66]

Loss, theft, and fraud

In February 2014 the world’s largest bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox, declared bankruptcy. The company stated that it had lost nearly $473 million of their customers’ bitcoins likely due to theft. This was equivalent to approximately 750,000 bitcoins, or about 7% of all the bitcoins in existence. The price of a bitcoin fell from a high of about $1,160 in December to under $400 in February.[67]

Two members of the Silk Road Task Force—a multi-agency federal task force that carried out the U.S. investigation of Silk Road—seized bitcoins for their own use in the course of the investigation.[68] DEA agent Carl Mark Force IV, who attempted to extort Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht (“Dread Pirate Roberts”), pleaded guilty to money laundering, obstruction of justice, and extortion under color of official right, and was sentenced to 6.5 years in federal prison.[68] U.S. Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges pleaded guilty to crimes relating to his diversion of $800,000 worth of bitcoins to his personal account during the investigation, and also separately pleaded guilty to money laundering in connection with another cryptocurrency theft; he was sentenced to nearly eight years in federal prison.[69]

Homero Josh Garza, who founded the cryptocurrency startups GAW Miners and ZenMiner in 2014, acknowledged in a plea agreement that the companies were part of a pyramid scheme, and pleaded guilty to wire fraud in 2015. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission separately brought a civil enforcement action against Garza, who was eventually ordered to pay a judgment of $9.1 million plus $700,000 in interest. The SEC’s complaint stated that Garza, through his companies, had fraudulently sold “investment contracts representing shares in the profits they claimed would be generated” from mining.[70]

On 21 November 2017, the Tether cryptocurrency announced they were hacked, losing $31 million in USDT from their primary wallet.[71] The company has ‘tagged’ the stolen currency, hoping to ‘lock’ them in the hacker’s wallet (making them unspendable). Tether indicates that it is building a new core for its primary wallet in response to the attack in order to prevent the stolen coins from being used.

In May 2018, Bitcoin Gold (and two other cryptocurrencies) were hit by a successful 51% hashing attack by an unknown actor, in which exchanges lost estimated $18m.[citation needed] In June 2018, Korean exchange Coinrail was hacked, losing US$37 million worth of altcoin. Fear surrounding the hack was blamed for a $42 billion cryptocurrency market selloff.[72] On 9 July 2018 the exchange Bancor had $23.5 million in cryptocurrency stolen.[73]

The French regulator Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) lists 15 websites of companies that solicit investment in cryptocurrency without being authorised to do so in France.[74]

Darknet markets

Properties of cryptocurrencies gave them popularity in applications such as a safe haven in banking crises and means of payment, which also led to the cryptocurrency use in controversial settings in the form of online black markets, such as Silk Road.[66] The original Silk Road was shut down in October 2013 and there have been two more versions in use since then. In the year following the initial shutdown of Silk Road, the number of prominent dark markets increased from four to twelve, while the amount of drug listings increased from 18,000 to 32,000.[66]

Darknet markets present challenges in regard to legality. Bitcoins and other forms of cryptocurrency used in dark markets are not clearly or legally classified in almost all parts of the world. In the U.S., bitcoins are labelled as “virtual assets”. This type of ambiguous classification puts pressure on law enforcement agencies around the world to adapt to the shifting drug trade of dark markets.[75]

Reception

Cryptocurrencies have been compared to Ponzi schemespyramid schemes[76] and economic bubbles,[77] such as housing market bubbles.[78] Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital Management stated in 2017 that digital currencies were “nothing but an unfounded fad (or perhaps even a pyramid scheme), based on a willingness to ascribe value to something that has little or none beyond what people will pay for it”, and compared them to the tulip mania (1637), South Sea Bubble (1720), and dot-com bubble (1999).[79] The New Yorker has explained the debate based on interviews with blockchain founders in an article about the “argument over whether Bitcoin, Ethereum, and the blockchain are transforming the world”.[80]

While cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that are managed through advanced encryption techniques, many governments have taken a cautious approach toward them, fearing their lack of central control and the effects they could have on financial security.[81] Regulators in several countries have warned against cryptocurrency and some have taken concrete regulatory measures to dissuade users.[82] Additionally, many banks do not offer services for cryptocurrencies and can refuse to offer services to virtual-currency companies.[83] Gareth Murphy, a senior central banking officer has stated “widespread use [of cryptocurrency] would also make it more difficult for statistical agencies to gather data on economic activity, which are used by governments to steer the economy”. He cautioned that virtual currencies pose a new challenge to central banks’ control over the important functions of monetary and exchange rate policy.[84] While traditional financial products have strong consumer protections in place, there is no intermediary with the power to limit consumer losses if bitcoins are lost or stolen.[85] One of the features cryptocurrency lacks in comparison to credit cards, for example, is consumer protection against fraud, such as chargebacks.

An enormous amount of energy goes into proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining, although cryptocurrency proponents claim it is important to compare it to the consumption of the traditional financial system.[86]

There are also purely technical elements to consider. For example, technological advancement in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin result in high up-front costs to miners in the form of specialized hardware and software.[87] Cryptocurrency transactions are normally irreversible after a number of blocks confirm the transaction. Additionally, cryptocurrency private keys can be permanently lost from local storage due to malware, data loss or the destruction of the physical media. This prevents the cryptocurrency from being spent, resulting in its effective removal from the markets.[88]

The cryptocurrency community refers to pre-mining, hidden launches, ICO or extreme rewards for the altcoin founders as a deceptive practice.[89] It can also be used as an inherent part of a cryptocurrency’s design.[90] Pre-mining means currency is generated by the currency’s founders prior to being released to the public.[91]

Paul KrugmanNobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences winner does not like bitcoin, has repeated numerous times that it is a bubble that will not last[92] and links it to Tulip mania.[93] American business magnate Warren Buffett thinks that cryptocurrency will come to a bad ending.[94] In October 2017, BlackRock CEO Laurence D. Fink called bitcoin an ‘index of money laundering‘.[95] “Bitcoin just shows you how much demand for money laundering there is in the world,” he said.

Academic studies

In September 2015, the establishment of the peer-reviewed academic journal Ledger (ISSN 2379-5980) was announced. It covers studies of cryptocurrencies and related technologies, and is published by the University of Pittsburgh.[96]

The journal encourages authors to digitally sign a file hash of submitted papers, which will then be timestamped into the bitcoin blockchain. Authors are also asked to include a personal bitcoin address in the first page of their papers.[97][98]

See also

References …

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptocurrency

 

 

Story 2: Department of Justice Charges Health Care Fraud Against 58 Individuals — Pill Mills — Videos

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58 charged in health care fraud across Texas

Health care frauds arrests announced by DOJ in regional investigation

DOJ charges 601 in health care fraud takedown

2 Sisters, Others Charged In Massive Medicaid Fraud Scheme

4 NYC area doctors among 20 charged in massive health care fraud scheme

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DOJ Announces Major Crackdown On Healthcare Fraud; 301 Arrested

Investigators warn of Medicaid fraud and home care abuse

Health Care Fraud Enforcement – The Final Frontier

Medicare/Medicaid Fraud Waste and Abuse Training

Texas Health Care Fraud and Opioid Takedown Results in Charges Against 58

HOUSTON – The Justice Department has announced a coordinated health care fraud enforcement operation across the state of Texas involving charges against a total of 58 individuals, several of which are charged in Houston. They were allegedly involved in Medicare fraud schemes and networks of “pill mill” clinics resulting in $66 million in loss and 6.2 million pills. Of those charged, 16 were doctors or medical professionals, while 20 were charged for their role in diverting opioids.

The Health Care Fraud Unit of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section in conjunction with its Medicare Fraud Strike Force (MFSF) partners led the enforcement actions. The MFSF is a partnership among the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Offices, FBI, Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and Drug Enforcement Administration. In addition, the operation includes the participation of the Veterans Affairs – OIG and the Department of Labor (DOL), various other federal law enforcement agencies and Texas State Medicaid Fraud Control Units.

The charges announced today aggressively target schemes billing Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE (a health insurance program for members and veterans of the armed forces and their families), DOL – Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs and private insurance companies for medically unnecessary prescription drugs and compounded medications that often were never even purchased and/or distributed to beneficiaries. The charges also involve individuals contributing to the opioid epidemic, with a particular focus on medical professionals allegedly involved in the unlawful distribution of opioids and other prescription narcotics, a particular focus for the Department.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 115 Americans die every day of an opioid-related overdose.

Today’s arrests come three weeks after the Department announced that the Health Care Fraud Unit’s Houston Strike Force coordinated the filing of charges against dozens in a trafficking network responsible for diverting over 23 million oxycodone, hydrocodone and carisoprodol pills.

“Sadly, opioid proliferation is nothing new to Americans,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick of the Southern District of Texas. “What is new, is the reinforced fight being taken to dirty doctors and shady pharmacists. Texas may have four U.S. Attorneys, but we are focused on one health care mission: shutting down pills mills and rooting out corruption in health care. From Lufkin to Laredo and Dallas to Del Rio, one of us will shut these operations down.”

“Today’s charges highlight the amazing work being done by the Department’s Medicare Fraud Strike Force and our partners in Texas,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “As we continue to dedicate resources to battle healthcare and opioid fraud schemes in Texas and elsewhere, we are shining an inescapable light on dirty doctors, clinic owners, pharmacists and others who may have long believed they could perpetrate their frauds behind closed doors.”

“These arrests across multiple investigations and jurisdictions is further proof that successful teamwork exemplifies Texas law enforcement,” said DEA Houston Special Agent in Charge Will R. Glaspy. “Today’s operation affirms both our commitment to targeting those individuals who illegally divert opioids in our communities, and our collective will to bring those individuals to justice.”

“Health care fraud undermines our country by driving up medical costs, wasting taxpayer dollars, and often harming patients,” said Special Agent in Charge C.J. Porter of HHS-OIG. “Today’s takedown shows that we are fighting hard to protect Medicare and Medicaid and the patients served by those programs. Working closely with our law enforcement partners, our agents are determined to ensure fraudsters pay for their crimes.”

“Today’s announcement demonstrates the close collaboration between the FBI and its law enforcement partners in North Texas,” said Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno of the FBI’s Dallas Field Office. “The enormous economic damage caused by those who defraud crucial public health programs, as well as the ever-increasing loss of life caused by illicit and illegitimate pill schemes cannot be overstated. The public can rest assured the FBI will continue to make these investigations a top priority moving forward.”

Among those charged in the Southern District of Texas are:

Diana Hernandez, Kathy Hernandez, Hieu Troung R.P.H., Clint Randall, Prince White, Charles Walton and Cedric Milbrurn were charged for their alleged participation in a scheme to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substance without a legitimate medical purpose through S&S Pharmacy of Houston.

Franklin Nwabugwu R.P.H. was charged for their alleged participation in a scheme to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substance without a legitimate medical purpose through Golden Pharmacy of Houston.

Steven Inbody M.D. and Hoai-Huong Truong were charged for their alleged participation in a scheme to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substance without a legitimate medical purpose.

Ashley McCain, John Sims, Gregory Comer, Kesia Banks and Jacqueline Hill were charged for their alleged participation in a scheme to unlawfully distribute and dispense a controlled substance without a legitimate medical purpose through Continuous Medical Care and Rehabilitation.

Trial Attorneys Devon Helfmeyer and Catherine Wagner and Assistant Deputy Chief Aleza Remi, all of the Fraud Section, are prosecuting the respective cases.

Several others were also charged in the Northern District of Texas (NDTX), Eastern District of Texas (EDTX) and Eastern District of Texas (EDTX).

“Healthcare should revolve around patients’ well-being – not providers’ personal interests,” said NDTX U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox.  “When medical professionals line their own pockets by submitting false insurance claims or prescribing unnecessary medications, equipment or treatments, it not only drains taxpayer coffers – but it makes healthcare more expensive for everyone else. We cannot allow the healthcare industry to become bloated by fraud.”

“Every dollar stolen from Medicare through fraud comes out of the pocket of taxpayers,” said EDTXU.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown of the “These are real costs that help drive up the cost of medical services for everyone. It is important that there be real consequences for those who cheat the system.”

“I am proud to fight healthcare fraud in Texas alongside Ryan Patrick, Erin Nealy Cox and Joe Brown,” said WDTX U.S. Attorney John Bash. “These crimes drive up the cost of health insurance, waste tax revenue and threaten the well-being of Texans.”

The Fraud Section leads the MFSF, which is part of a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country. MFSF maintains 15 strike forces operating in 24 districts. Since its inception in March 2007, MFSF has charged nearly 4,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $14 billion. In addition, HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

Medicaid Fraud and Abuse

Overview

Fraud, abuse and waste in Medicaid cost states billions of dollars every year, diverting funds that could otherwise be used for legitimate health care services. Not only do fraudulent and abusive practices increase the cost of Medicaid without adding value – they increase risk and potential harm to patients who are exposed to unnecessary procedures. In 2015, improper payments alone—which include things like payment for non-covered services or for services that were billed but not provided—totaled more than $29 billion according to the Government Accountability Office.

While Medicaid fraud involves knowingly misrepresenting the truth to obtain unauthorized benefit, abuse includes any practice that is inconsistent with acceptable fiscal, business or medical practices that unnecessarily increase costs. Waste encompasses overutilization of resources and inaccurate payments for services, such as unintentional duplicate payments. As states look for innovative ways to contain burgeoning Medicaid costs and promote the program’s integrity, fighting fraud and abuse offers one approach that everyone can support.

Program Integrity Initiatives. The federal government and states have adopted a variety of steps to combat Medicaid fraud, waste and abuse and to ensure that public funds are used to promote Medicaid enrollees’ health. According to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment Access Commission (MACPAC), these include data mining, audits, investigations, enforcement actions, technical assistance to help state agencies detect fraud and abuse, and provider and enrollee outreach and education. Well-designed program integrity initiatives ensure that:

  • Eligibility decisions are made correctly;
  • Prospective and enrolled providers meet federal and state participation requirements;
  • Delivered services are medically necessary and appropriate; and
  • Provider payments are made in the right amount and for appropriate services.

A 2013 Pew Charitable Trusts’ report found that states utilized three types of Medicaid fraud prevention strategies, including: provider screening; prior authorization and pre-payment reviews; and post-payment review and recovery. While states have traditionally relied upon the latter, “pay and chase” model in which they pay Medicaid claims and then try to recover improper payments, they are increasingly focusing on preventing and detecting fraudulent activities early on. New York, for example has integrated targeted data mining and risk analysis into its fraud-fighting tool box. In Texas, a few simple process changes and new pattern analysis and recognition efforts moved the state closer to ‘real–time analysis’ and significantly increased the amount of fraud identified.  For more on what these states have done to fight Medicaid fraud and abuse, check out this Webinar archive.

Federal Medicaid Integrity Provisions. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) introduced various requirements aimed at improving Medicaid program integrity. For example, the law created a web-based portal, enabling states to compare information on providers that have been terminated (and whose billing privileges have been revoked). An overview of the law’s provisions related to improving Medicaid program integrity is available here.

Common Examples of Medicaid Fraud

Provider Fraud

Patient Fraud

Insurer Fraud

  • Billing for services not performed
  • Billing duplicate times for one service
  • Falsifying a diagnosis
  • Billing for a more costly service than performed
  • Accepting kickbacks for patient referrals
  • Billing for a covered service when a noncovered service was provided
  • Ordering excessive or inappropriate tests
  •  Prescribing medicines that are not medically necessary or for use by people other than the patient
  • Filing a claim for services or products not received
  • Forging or altering receipts
  • Obtaining medications or products that are not needed and selling them on the black market
  • Providing false information to apply for services
  • Doctor shopping to get multiple prescriptions
  • Using someone else’s insurance coverage for services
  • Overstating the insurer’s cost in paying claims
  • Misleading enrollees about health plan benefits
  • Undervaluing the amount owed by the insurer to a health care provider under the terms of its contract
  • Denying valid claims

Additional NCSL Resources

 

Other Recent Medicaid Program Integrity and Fraud Prevention Resources

http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/medicaid-fraud-and-abuse.aspx

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The Pronk Pops Show 1320, September 16, 2019, Story 1: Oil Prices Spike After Iran Backed Houthi Rebel Drone Strike on Saudi Arabia’s Biggest Oil Refinery and Shut Down of Oil Production– United States Accuses Iran For The Drone Attack With Evidence — Videos — Story 2: Morally Bankrupt New York Times Smear Campaign of Lies Against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — No Victim and No Witnesses — Big Lie Media — Junk Journalism — Videos — Story 3: U.S. Federal Government Record Government Spending Exceeds $4 Trillion and Rising — Videos —

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Tensions are running high in the region after attacks in June and July on oil tankers in Gulf waters that Riyadh and Washington blamed on IranSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source image

See the source image

See the source image

See the source image

See the source image

 

Story 1: Oil Prices Spike After Iran Backed Houthi Rebel Drone Strike on Saudi Arabia’s Biggest Oil Refinery and Oil Field and Shut Down of Oil Production– Videos

UPDATED: September 18, 2019

Senior U.S. official says missiles fired on Saudi oil plant were launched from Iran

President Trump: Looks like Iran was responsible for Saudi oil attack

US says Iran attacked Saudi oil refineries, Yemen rebels say they did – so who was it? | ABC News

Yemeni rebel drones spark fires at two Saudi Aramco oil facilities

Saudi Arabia slashing oil output after drone strikes: Report

Fears for global oil prices after drone attack on Saudi refineries | Nine News Australia

Drones hit 2 Saudi Aramco oil facilities, causes fires

Saudi Arabia’s oil output decimated by drone attack

Trump points finger at Iran for Saudi oil attacks

Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa visits the White House amid Trump’s push for an international pressure campaign against Iran.

Gidley on Iran agenda, Kavanaugh attacks, Lewandowski testimony

Questions raised about whether Iran is to blame for Saudi Arabia attack

 

Pompeo: Iran to blame for Houthi attack on Saudi oil facilities

Houthi rebels claim drone attack on Saudi Arabia oil facility

Yemen’s Houthi group vows to strike 300 targets in Saudi Arabia, UAE

Saudi Arabia: major fire at world’s largest oil refinery after drone attack

History of US-Iran Conflict Explained

The Middle East’s cold war, explained

Why are Iran and Saudi Arabia enemies?

Why Are Saudi Arabia And The U.S. Allies?

Israel and the Gulf: an unholy alliance?

Why the US and Iran are fighting over this tiny waterway

Can Iran Stop the US? A look at Irans Defenses

Iran vs Saudi Arabia – Who Would Win? (Military / Army Comparison)

Saudi Arabia’s Emergency Arab Summit

How the Saudis ended up with so many American weapons

UNITED STATES vs ARAB LEAGUE – Military Power Comparison ✪ 2018

Crucifixion, beheading: Saudi Arabia carries out executions

Arab League States [Population/Economic/Military] Comparison (1960~2018)

 

Attack on Saudi oil plant WAS launched from Iranian base near Iraq, US investigators conclude – as experts study images of missile wreckage and video of ‘drones flying south towards their target’

  • Saudi Arabian oil supply blown up in what Yemen’s Houthis called a drone attack 
  • US investigators have concluded that drones and missiles were fired from an Iranian air base near the border with Iraq, source said
  • Officials believe the missiles flew over southern Iraq and Kuwaiti airspace to avoid powerful radar in Persian Gulf, before striking their targets 
  • Experts are studying video from Kuwait which seems to record sound of missiles overhead, and image of what appears to be missile wreck in Saudi desert  
  • Analysts say the missile appears to be a Quds-1, which would rule out Yemen as a launch site and strongly suggest Iraq, Iran or a boat in the Persian Gulf
  • Saudi has also blamed Iran, and says it is ready to ‘forcefully respond’ to attack
  • Iran’s foreign minister said that Washington was ‘in denial’ by blaming Tehran 

America has concluded that weekend attacks on two Saudi oil facilities were launched from Iranian soil and cruise missiles were involved, an official said today.

The official, who declined to be identified, said the United States was gathering evidence about the attack to present to the international community, notably European allies, at the UN General Assembly next week.

Another source, who spoke to CNN, said the attack involved a mixture of drones and missiles launched from an Iranian base near Iraq, flying at low altitude through Iraqi and Kuwaiti airspace to avoid radar detection, before striking the Abqaiq refinery and Khurais oil field in Saudi Arabia.

Kuwaiti officials have already launched an investigation into two videos that seemed to record the sound of projectiles flying over their territory shortly before the Saudi targets were struck.

The source also told CNN that investigators are studying wreckage of at least one missile that failed to hit its target that was recovered from the Saudi desert.

An image which appears to show that missile has been circulating on Saudi social media, and has been examined by weapon analysts who say its design could rule out Yemen as a launch site, with either Iraq or Iran as more likely possibilities. 

If it can be proven that the attack originated in Iran, there are fears it could spark a new Gulf War. 

Donald Trump has refused to rule out military action once the source of the attack has been proven, while Saudi Arabia has said it is ready to ‘forcefully respond’.

US investigators say they have concluded that an attack on Saudi oil facilities was launched from Iran. As part of their investigation, they have been studying the wreckage of a missile recovered from the desert that failed to hit its target. Pictured is the wreckage of a missile that was posted on Saudi social media shortly after the attack

An image of the Quds-1 missile which was released by the Houthi group in July, when they unveiled the weapon. It is similar to two Iranian designs - the Soumar and Ya Ali

An image of the Quds-1 missile which was released by the Houthi group in July, when they unveiled the weapon. It is similar to two Iranian designs – the Soumar and Ya Ali

Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday that the United States is evaluating evidence on the attacks on Saudi oil facilities and stands read to defend its interests and allies in the Middle East.

In other developments…

  • The Saudi ministry of foreign affairs insisted it ‘has the capability and resolve to defend its land and people, and to forcefully respond to these aggressions’ 
  • Saudi Arabia also called on nations to ‘shoulder their responsibility in condemning the perpetrators’ and ‘clearly confronting’ those behind an attack 
  • The kingdom said its oil production could be fully online again within two to three weeks 
  • Trump said it ‘looks like’ Iran was behind the attacks but stressed that military retaliation was not yet on the table 
  • Washington confirmed it is exchanging intelligence with Saudi Arabia which it says points to Iran being responsible 
  • Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tehran will never hold talks with US, killing off hopes of discussions between Trump and Hassan Rouhani
  • The chair of the UN Security Council said the attack was ‘unanimously and unequivocally condemned’ by all 15 members
  • Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said the attack was a ‘legitimate defense and counterattack’ against the Saudi-led war in Yemen
  • The Islamic Republic’s foreign minister said Washington was ‘in denial’ by pointing the finger of blame at Tehran.  

Officially, Iran-backed Houthi rebels fighting against Saudi Arabia in Yemen have claimed responsibility for the blasts – which knocked out 5 per cent of the world’s oil supply – saying they used drones.

But Fabian Hinz, of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, analysed an image of the wreckage and says it clearly shows a cruise missile, not a drone.

He added that the weapon shown is likely a short-range Quds-1 missile, a Houthi weapon which was unveiled by the group in July this year.

The missile is based on the Iranian Soumar design, which has a range of some 840 miles, but the Houthi version has a smaller body – meaning less space for fuel – and is fitted with a less-efficient engine.

Because of this, Mr Hinz writes, it is unlikely the missile could have reached either the Abqaiq refinery or the Khurais oil field if it had been fired from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen.

However, he stressed that information around the attack is still emerging, that the image has not been independently verified, and his analysis is purely speculation based on that image.

He did say that the image appears to be new and does not appear to have been digitally altered.

When a Quds-1 was used to attack Saudi Arabia’s Abha Airport in June, the Saudis  initially mistook it for an Iranian Ya Ali cruise missile, suggesting it could have similar specifications. 

The Ya Ali missile has a estimated range of 435 miles, which would also rule out Yemen as a launch site, with Iran and Iraq also likely launch sites. 

Washington has released satellite images which it claims shows damage on the Saudi oil refinery which is consistent with an attack from the north or northwest, in the direction of Iran and Iraq, rather than Yemen to the south

Analysts also said that the pattern of precision damage on the facility is consistent with guided missile attacks, rather than drones

Damage is shown at the Khurais oil field, which was also struck in Saturday's attacks

Damage is shown at the Khurais oil field, which was also struck in Saturday’s attacks

He also notes that, while the Quds-1 is thought to have been developed with help from Iran, it is a Houthi weapon and has never be seen in Iran itself, raising doubts over whether it could have been fired from there.

The Houthis have used the Quds-1 in combat themselves, most recently in an attack on Abha Airport in southern Saudi Arabia which wounded 26.

In that instance, the Houthis claimed responsibility and admitted using the missile, begging the question of why they would omit that detail this time around.

Quds-1 missile 

Unveiled by Houthi rebels in July, the Quds-1 is a cruise missile which appears to be based on the Iranian Soumar design.

While we know nothing of its specifications, we do know it was used in an attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abha Airport in June.

Pieces of the missile recovered by Saudi Arabia showed it uses a TJ-100 jet engine or near-replica, which uses up more fuel than its Iranian equivalent.

The Quds-1 fuselage is also significantly smaller than the Iranian Soumar missile, meaning it has less space for fuel.

Because of this, it almost certainly has a smaller range, though how much smaller is unclear.

But even a small reduction in the Soumar’s 840mile range would put the Saudi oil facilities attacked at the weekend outside of its capabilities, meaning – if the image is genuine – then the launch site would have to be outside Yemen.

On Monday, the White House released satellite imagery which it said indicated the attack came from either Iran or Iraq – where Iran has been training militia groups – because the position of blast marks was located on the north or northwest of the structures, in the direction of those two countries and away from Yemen.

American officials also told the Wall Street Journal that they have shared intelligence with Riyadh indicating that Iran was the staging ground for devastating drone attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil installations.

The US assessment determined that ‘Iran launched more than 20 drones and at least a dozen missiles,’ according to unnamed sources.

‘But Saudi officials said the US didn’t provide enough to conclude that the attack was launched from Iran, indicating the US information wasn’t definitive,’ the WSJ added.

‘US officials said they planned to share more information with the Saudis in the coming days.’

However, an analysis by the New York Times shows at least some of the blast marks faced west, which is not in the direction of any of those countries.

Experts also said cruise missiles and drones can be directed to turn around on their targets, hitting them in the opposite direction from which they were fired.

The near-symmetrical pattern of blast-marks on the buildings do appear consistent with guided missiles rather than drones, they noted, which tallies with Washington’s account of the attacks.

Meanwhile, a former US diplomat said Saudi Arabia has ‘great deal of explaining to do’ over how its oilfields were hit, disrupting global supplies, despite it possessing state-of-the-art military technology, much of it bought from America.

The attacks have knocked out half of Saudi Arabia's oil supply and 5 per cent of global supplies, leading to fear of fuel price rises

Donald Trump tweeted Sunday to say that US is 'locked and loaded depending on verification', suggesting he was waiting for Riyadh's confirmation before acting

 

Donald Trump tweeted Sunday to say that US is ‘locked and loaded depending on verification’, suggesting he was waiting for Riyadh’s confirmation before acting

Gary Grappo, former US ambassador to Oman, told CNBC: I think the Saudi leadership has a great deal of explaining to do.

‘A country that ranks third in terms of total defence spending… was not able to defend its most critical oil facility from these kinds of attacks.

‘They had to be able to see that this was a strong possibility given the previous attacks they’ve experienced in previous oil facility, airports and elsewhere.’

Saudi Arabia says its initial investigations indicate that Iranian weapons were used in attacks on key oil installations and it ‘will invite U.N. and international experts to view the situation on the ground and to participate in the investigations.’

A statement from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday says, ‘The kingdom will take the appropriate measures based on the results of the investigation, to ensure its security and stability.’

Saudi Arabia's Colonel Turki al-Malki said drone strikes against two of his country's oil facilities at the weekend did not come from Yemen, and pointed the finger directly at Tehran

Saudi Arabia’s Colonel Turki al-Malki said drone strikes against two of his country’s oil facilities at the weekend did not come from Yemen, and pointed the finger directly at Tehran

Russia’s U.N. ambassador, who currently chairs the U.N. Security Council, says the attacks on key Saudi oil installations were ‘unanimously and unequivocally condemned’ by all 15 council members.

Vassily Nebenzia said after a council meeting on Yemen on Monday that ‘it is inadmissible that civil objects and socio-economic infrastructure are being targeted.’Iran’s president says weekend drone attacks claimed by Yemeni rebels on major oil sites in Saudi Arabia were a ‘legitimate defense and counterattack’ against the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

Iranian state TV broadcast Hassan Rouhani’s comments to reporters Monday during a summit in Turkey to discuss the war in Syria with the Russian and Turkish leaders.

Rouhani said: ‘Regarding the drones attack, this problem has its root in invading Yemen. They (the Saudi-led coalition) are bombing Yemen on a daily basis.’

The attack has led to fears that action on any side could rapidly escalate a confrontation that has been raging just below the surface in the wider Persian Gulf in recent months.

Just last week there were hopes of deescalation following the departure of National Security Adviser John Bolton and the suggestion of talks between Trump and Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of an upcoming UN summit.

But Washington has now rubbished the idea of talks and put the option of military action firmly back on the table.

It comes after a summer which saw attacks on oil tankers that Washington blames on Tehran, at least one suspected Israeli strike on Shiite forces in Iraq, and the downing of a US military surveillance drone by Iran.

Stalling 5.7million barrels of oil per day marks the single largest disruption to global oil supplies in history, topping the start of the Iranian revolution in 1979

Stalling 5.7million barrels of oil per day marks the single largest disruption to global oil supplies in history, topping the start of the Iranian revolution in 1979

Those tensions have increased ever since Mr Trump pulled the US out of Iran’s 2015 agreement with world powers that curtailed its nuclear activities and the US re-imposed sanctions on the country that sent its economy into freefall.

Benchmark Brent crude gained nearly 20 per cent in the first moments of trading Monday before settling down to over 10 per cent higher as trading continued.

That spike represented the biggest percentage value jump in Brent crude since the run-up to the 1991 Gulf War that saw a US-led coalition expel Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait.

The attack halted production of 5.7 million barrels of crude a day, more than half of Saudi Arabia’s global daily exports and more than 5% of the world’s daily crude oil production. Most of that output goes to Asia.

At 5.7 million barrels of crude oil a day, the Saudi disruption would be the greatest on record for world markets, according to figures from the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA).

It just edges out the 5.6 million-barrels-a-day disruption around the time of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, according to the IEA.

Saudi Arabia has pledged that its stockpiles would keep global markets supplied as it rushes to repair damage at the Abqaiq facility and its Khurais oil field.

However, Saudi Aramco has not responded publicly to questions about its facilities.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have been targeted by a Saudi-led coalition since March 2015 in a vicious war in the Arab world’s poorest country, maintain they launched 10 drones that caused the extensive damage.

Iraqi premier Adel Abdel-Mahdi said he received a call on Monday from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who confirmed that the attack did not come from Iraq.

The State Department did not immediately acknowledge what was discussed.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi again denied the US claims on Monday, telling journalists the accusation was ‘condemned, unacceptable and categorically baseless’.

Saudi Oil Attack Is the Big One

The technological sophistication and audacity of Saturday’s attack will linger over the energy market

Smoke billowed from an Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq, in Saudi Arabia’s eastern province, where attacks sparked fires Saturday. PHOTO:-/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Saturday’s attack on a critical Saudi oil facility will almost certainly rock the world energy market in the short term, but it also carries disturbing long-term implications.

Ever since the dual 1970s oil crises, energy security officials have fretted about a deliberate strike on one of the critical choke points of energy production and transport. Sea lanes such as the Strait of Hormuz usually feature in such speculation. The facility in question at Abqaiq is perhaps more critical and vulnerable. The Wall Street Journal reported that 5.7 million barrels a day of output, or some 5% of world supply, had been taken offline as a result.

To illustrate the importance of Abqaiq in the oil market’s consciousness, an unsuccessful terrorist attack in 2006 using explosive-laden vehicles sent oil prices more than $2.00 a barrel higher. Saudi Arabia is known to spend billions of dollars annually protecting ports, pipelines and processing facilities, and it is the only major oil producer to maintain some spare output. Yet the nature of the attack, which Iranian-supported Houthi fighters from Yemen claimed was the result of an attack by their forces, shows that protecting such facilities may be far more difficult today. U.S. officials blamed Iran and U.S. and Saudi officials were investigating the possibility that another Iranian-backed group carried out all or part of the attack using cruise missiles launched from Iraq. Iranian officials on Sunday denied responsibility for the attacks.

There are countries that even today see their output ebb and flow as a result of militant activity, most notably Nigeria and Libya. Others, such as Venezuela, are in chronic decline due to political turmoil. Such news affects the oil price at the margin but is hardly shocking.

Deliberate attacks by actual military forces have been far rarer, with the exception of the 1980s “Tanker War” involving Iraq, Iran and the vessels of other regional producers such as Kuwait. When Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait in 1990, removing its production from the market and putting Saudi Arabia’s massive crude output under threat, prices more than doubled over two months.

Yet Saturday’s attack could be more significant than that. Technology from drones to cyberattacks are available to groups like the Houthis, possibly with support from Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran. That major energy producer, facing sanctions but still shipping some oil, has both a political and financial incentive to weaken Saudi Arabia. The fact that the actions ostensibly were taken by a nonstate actor, though, limits the response that the U.S. or Saudi Arabia can take. Attempting to further punish Iran is a double-edged sword, given that pinching its main source of revenue, also oil, would further inflame prices.

While the redundancies in Saudi oil infrastructure mean that output may be restored as soon as Monday, the attack could build in a premium to oil prices that has long been absent due to complacency. Indeed, traders may now need to factor in new risks that threaten to take not hundreds of thousands but millions of barrels off the market at a time. U.S. shale production may have upended the world energy market with nimble output, but the market’s reaction time is several months, not days or weeks, and nowhere near enough to replace several million barrels.

After the smoke clears and markets calm down, the technological sophistication and audacity of Saturday’s attack will linger over the energy market.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/saudi-oil-attack-this-is-the-big-one-11568480576

Iran-backed militants admit drone swarm strike on world’s largest oil processing plant in Saudi and at second nearby facility sparking huge fires as tensions reach boiling point following tanker attacks

  • Drone attacks sparked fires at Aramco oil facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia today
  • Attacks took place at 4:00am at world’s largest oil processing plant Abqaiq
  • The Saudi interior ministry said the fires have now been brought under control 
  • Iran-backed Houthis claimed responsibility for attacks in Buqyaq and Khurais 
  • Tensions are running high in the region after attacks in June and July on oil tankers in Gulf waters that Riyadh and Washington blamed on Iran

Ten drones launched by Iran-backed militants sparked a huge fire at the world’s largest oil processing facility and a major oilfield in Saudi Arabia in the early hours of this morning.

The fires at Abqaiq in Buqayq, which contains the world’s largest oil processing plant, and Khurais, which contains the country’s second largest oilfield, have now been brought under control since the drone attacks at 4.00am local time.

Tensions are running high in the region after attacks in June and July on oil tankers in Gulf waters that Riyadh and Washington blamed on Iran.

A military spokesman for Yemen’s Houthi rebels, considered an Iranian proxy force in the region, has claimed responsibility for today’s attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais, two major facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia run by state-owned oil giant Aramco.

Houthi fighters in Yemen have previously launched attacks over the border, hitting Shaybah oilfield with drones last month and two oil pumping stations in May. Both attacks caused fires but did not disrupt production.

Ten drones launched by Iran-backed militants sparked a huge fire at the world’s largest oil processing facility and a major oilfield in Saudi Arabia in the early hours of this morning.

The fires at Abqaiq in Buqayq, which contains the world’s largest oil processing plant, and Khurais, which contains the country’s second largest oilfield, have now been brought under control since the drone attacks at 4.00am local time.

Tensions are running high in the region after attacks in June and July on oil tankers in Gulf waters that Riyadh and Washington blamed on Iran.

A military spokesman for Yemen’s Houthi rebels, considered an Iranian proxy force in the region, has claimed responsibility for today’s attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais, two major facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia run by state-owned oil giant Aramco.

Houthi fighters in Yemen have previously launched attacks over the border, hitting Shaybah oilfield with drones last month and two oil pumping stations in May. Both attacks caused fires but did not disrupt production.

Abqaiq facility, located 37 miles southwest of Aramco's Dhahran headquarters, is home to the company's largest oil processing plant, according to its website (pictured: Smoke is seen following a fire at an Aramco factory in Abqaiq)

Abqaiq facility, located 37 miles southwest of Aramco’s Dhahran headquarters, is home to the company’s largest oil processing plant, according to its website (pictured: Smoke is seen following a fire at an Aramco factory in Abqaiq)

Smoke is seen following a fire at an Aramco factory in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, September 14

Smoke is seen following a fire at an Aramco factory in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, September 14

Smoke is seen following a fire at an Aramco factory in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, September 14+26

Smoke is seen following a fire at an Aramco factory in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, September 14

A satellite image provided by NASA Worldview shows fires following Yemen's Houthi rebels claiming a drone attack on two major oil installations in eastern Saudi Arabia

A satellite image provided by NASA Worldview shows fires following Yemen’s Houthi rebels claiming a drone attack on two major oil installations in eastern Saudi Arabia

Tensions are running high in the region after attacks in June and July on oil tankers in Gulf waters that Riyadh and Washington blamed on Iran

Yahia Sarie announced that the Houthi’s were taking responsibility for the attacks on Saturday in a televised address carried by the Houthi’s Al-Masirah satellite news channel.

He said the Houthis sent 10 drones to attack an oil processing facility in Buqyaq and the Khurais oil field, warning that attacks by the rebels against the kingdom would only get worse if the war in Yemen continues.

Sarie said: ‘The only option for the Saudi government is to stop attacking us.’

Iran denies supplying the Houthis with weapons, although the U.N., the West and Gulf Arab nations say Tehran does. Drone models nearly identical to those used by Iran have been used in the conflict in Yemen.

The attacks highlight how the increasingly advanced weaponry of the Iran-linked Huthi rebels – from ballistic missiles to unmanned drones – poses a serious threat to oil installations in Saudi Arabia, the world’s top crude exporter.

A military spokesman for Yemen's Houthi rebels has claimed responsibility for today's attacks on Abqaiq (pictured) and Khurais

A military spokesman for Yemen’s Houthi rebels has claimed responsibility for today’s attacks on Abqaiq (pictured) and Khurais

The Abqaiq facility (pictured), which processes sour crude oil into sweet crude, then later transports onto transshipment points on the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, has been targeted in the past by militants

The Abqaiq facility (pictured), which processes sour crude oil into sweet crude, then later transports onto transshipment points on the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, has been targeted in the past by militants

Saudi Arabia’s oil production and exports have been disrupted, three sources familiar with the matter have said.

One of the sources said the attacks have impacted 5 million barrels per day of oil production – almost half the kingdom’s current output. The source did not elaborate.

Saudi Aramco operates the world’s largest oil processing facility and crude oil stabilisation plant in the world at Abqaiq, in eastern Saudi Arabia. The plant has a crude oil processing capacity of more than 7 million barrels per day.

Authorities have not reported on casualties. A witness nearby said at least 15 ambulances were seen in the area and there was a heavy security presence around Abqaiq.

The attack will likely heighten tensions further across the wider Persian Gulf amid a confrontation between the U.S. and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.

Saudi Aramco describes its Abqaiq oil processing facility in Buqyaq as ‘the largest crude oil stabilisation plant in the world.’

The facility, which processes sour crude oil into sweet crude, then later transports onto transshipment points on the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, has been targeted in the past by militants.

The fires at Abqaiq, which contains the world's largest oil processing plant, and Khurais, which contains the country's second largest oilfield, have now been brought under control+26

The fires at Abqaiq, which contains the world's largest oil processing plant, and Khurais, which contains the country's second largest oilfield, have now been brought under control

The fires at Abqaiq, which contains the world’s largest oil processing plant, and Khurais, which contains the country’s second largest oilfield, have now been brought under control

Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais, two major Aramco facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia (pictured: Abqaiq)

Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais, two major Aramco facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia (pictured: Abqaiq)

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7463189/Drone-attacks-spark-huge-fires-two-Saudi-oil-refineries.html

Saudi Arabia Shuts Down About Half Its Oil Output After Drone Strikes

Shutdown amounts to a loss of some five million barrels a day, roughly 5% of the world’s daily production of crude

Smoke billowing after a fire at a Saudi Aramco factory in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday. PHOTO: VIDEOS OBTAINED BY REUTERS/REUTERS

Coordinated drone strikes on the heart of the Saudi oil industry forced the kingdom to shut down half its crude production on Saturday, people familiar with the matter said, potentially roiling petroleum prices and demonstrating the power of Iran’s proxies.

Yemen’s Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels claimed credit for the attack, saying they sent 10 drones to strike at important facilities in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province. The production shutdown amounts to a loss of about five million barrels a day, the people said, roughly 5% of the world’s daily production of crude oil.

Officials said they hoped to restore production to its regular level of 9.8 million barrels a day by Monday.

The strikes mark the latest in a series of attacks on the country’s petroleum assets in recent months, as tensions rise among Iran and its proxies like the Houthis, and the U.S. and partners like Saudi Arabia. The attacks could drive up oil prices if the Saudis can’t turn production back on quickly and potentially rattle investor confidence in an initial public offering of the kingdom’s national oil company.

President Trump called Saudi Arabia’s day-to-day ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, on Saturday and said the U.S. was ready to “cooperate with the kingdom in supporting its security and stability,” according to the Saudi Press Agency, the official news service.

Prince Mohammed told Mr. Trump that Saudi Arabia “is willing and able to confront and deal with this terrorist aggression,” according to the agency.

The attacks happened a few days before world leaders are set to gather in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, where President Trump has said he is interested in meeting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to defuse tensions. Iran didn’t react to the attacks on Saturday, and officials have said Mr. Rouhani won’t meet with Mr. Trump until the U.S. lifts sanctions imposed after the president pulled out of the 2015 international nuclear deal.

Saturday’s attack was the largest yet claimed by the Houthis in terms of its overall impact on the Saudi economy, thrusting the petroleum industry into crisis in the world’s largest exporter of oil. The attack hit hundreds of miles away from their Yemen stronghold.

“The attack has been quite surprising for the mere amount of damage it caused,” said Fabian Hinz, an arms researcher at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, Calif.

“We have seen quite a few drone and missile attacks against Saudi infrastructure, but in most cases the actual damage caused has been quite minimal,” said Mr. Hinz.

The Saudi government called the strikes a terrorist attack and said it was investigating.

Armed Drones Are a Growing Threat From Rebels in Yemen

Armed Drones Are a Growing Threat From Rebels in Yemen
Yemen’s Houthi rebels are using armed drones with startling success. WSJ reporters describe their increasing sophistication and recent confirmed attacks. Illustration: Laura Kammermann

Analysts cautioned against accepting the Houthi claim of responsibility at face value. An attack in May on a Saudi oil-pumping station, which Saudi officials initially blamed on the Houthis and Iran, later turned out to have been launched by an Iranian-backed militia in Iraq, according to U.S. officials.

Saudi officials aren’t sure the attack emanated from Yemen and were discussing on Saturday the possibility that the attack came from the north, according to people familiar with the matter.

Saudi oil officials said they were rushing to contain the damage as fires raged in two major oil facilities. Saudi Aramco, the national oil company, held an emergency board meeting on Saturday to manage the unfolding crisis, the people familiar with the matter said.

Disruptions in Saudi oil production could have ripple effects through the global economy, as the kingdom exports more crude petroleum than any other country.

Saudi officials are discussing drawing down their oil stocks to sell to foreign customers to ensure that world oil supplies aren’t disrupted, the people familiar with the matter said. The people said Saudi officials were trying to restore the production soon but gave no firm timetable.

The attacks hit Hijra Khurais, one of Saudi Arabia’s largest oil fields, which produces about 1.5 million barrels a day. They also hit Abqaiq, the world’s biggest crude stabilization facility, processing seven million barrels of Saudi oil a day, about 8% of the world’s total.

The damage at Abqaiq has knock-on effects throughout the kingdom’s oil fields because it is a collection point for much of its industry, turning crude oil into specific grades requested by customers. The Ghawar field, the world’s largest, and Shaybah, which produces one million barrels a day, also reported disruptions because of Abqaiq’s problems, said the people familiar with the matter.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The Houthis took control of Yemen’s capital, San’a, in 2014 during a civil war. Since then, a Saudi-led coalition has fought a war to unseat the Houthis and reinstate a government supported by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other regional powers.

In recent months the Houthis, along with Iranian-backed armed groups in Iraq, have intensified a campaign of missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia, launching more than a dozen attacks at Saudi airports, a desalination plant and oil infrastructure. Suspected Houthi ordnance originating from the Yemeni border is launched at Saudi Arabia several times a week, a U.S. official said.

The strikes have put pressure on Saudi Arabia’s air defenses, as the Saudi government says it has shot down multiple drones and missiles.

Big OilKhurais, which was disrupted in a drone strike,is one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest oil fields.Oil field productionSource: International Energy Agency
GhawarSafaniyaKhuraisShaybahManifa0 million barrels a day2468

The increasing sophistication of the drone and missile attacks this year have shown deepening cooperation between the Houthis and Iran as Tehran has sought ways to apply pressure on their Saudi and American adversaries, according to U.S. officials and analysts. The Iranian government denies controlling the Houthi movement.

A U.N. panel last year said there were “strong indications” that Iran was the source of Houthi missile and drone technology but didn’t directly accuse the Tehran government of providing the weaponry itself. It said Iran has failed to take the necessary measures to prevent such transfers.

Saturday’s attack also came amid a sharp escalation of hostilities in neighboring Yemen after a Saudi airstrike killed more than 100 people at a detention center on Sept. 1.

“We promise the Saudi regime that our future operations will expand and be more painful as long as its aggression and siege continue,” a Houthi spokesman said Saturday.

The strikes complicate U.N. and U.S. efforts to negotiate an end to the conflict, which has killed more than 10,000 people over the last four years. U.S. officials had quietly attempted to launch a back channel to the Houthis.

A conservative kingdom with a Sunni Muslim majority, Saudi Arabia has been an opponent of Iran in a struggle for power across the broader Middle East since the 1979 revolution that toppled Iran’s monarchy.

The drone attacks on Aramco’s facilities are poorly timed for Aramco’s coming IPO and pose a challenge to oil officials after a changing of the guard in their leadership. The country’s rulers recently replaced Aramco’s chairman and the kingdom’s oil minister.

Aramco last week picked seven international banks to help it list on Saudi Arabia’s domestic exchange, an IPO that could value the company at about $2 trillion dollars and come before the end of the year.

The damage to Aramco facilities could affect investor appetite to buy into the company and its ultimate valuation, said John Sfakianakis, chief economist at the Gulf Research Center in Riyadh, a privately funded think tank.

But Aramco, the world’s most profitable firm, could also use this crisis to demonstrate its growing push for transparency and keep potential investors abreast of developments, said Mr. Sfakianakis, a former adviser to the kingdom’s finance ministry.

“There will be short term concern…The latest IPO announcement is being watched by all,” he said.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/drone-strikes-spark-fires-at-saudi-oil-facilities-11568443375

Country comparison Iran vs Saudi Arabia

Gouvernement
Annual GDP [+] 2018 452,275M.$ chart 782,483M.$ 2018 Annual GDP [+]
GDP per capita [+] 2018 5,529$ chart 23,219$ 2018 GDP per capita [+]
Debt [+] 2017 170,342 chart 149,279 2018 Debt [+]
Debt (%GDP) [+] 2017 39.53% chart 19.08% 2018 Debt (%GDP) [+]
Debt Per Capita [+] 2017 2,092$ chart 4,430$ 2018 Debt Per Capita [+]
Deficit (M.$) [+] 2017 -7,828 chart -36,267 2018 Deficit (M.$) [+]
Deficit (%GDP) [+] 2017 -1.82% chart -4.64% 2018 Deficit (%GDP) [+]
Expenditure (M.$) [+] 2017 83,377.9 chart 274,773.5 2018 Expenditure (M.$) [+]
Education Expenditure (M.$) [+] 2017 16,325.6 chart 26,706.2 2008 Education Expenditure (M.$) [+]
Education Expenditure (%Bud.) [+] 2017 20.04% chart 19.26% 2008 Education Expenditure (%Bud.) [+]
Gov. Health Exp.(M.$) [+] 2016 17,868.7 chart 25,107.5 2016 Gov. Health Exp.(M.$) [+]
Gov. Health Exp. (%Bud.) [+] 2016 22.60% chart 10.06% 2016 Gov. Health Exp. (%Bud.) [+]
Defence Expenditure (M.$) [+] 2018 12,064.5 chart 68,660.7 2018 Defence Expenditure (M.$) [+]
Defence Expenditure (%Bud.) [+] 2018 15.78% chart 24.59% 2018 Defence Expenditure (%Bud.) [+]
Expenditure (%GDP) [+] 2017 19.35% chart 35.12% 2018 Expenditure (%GDP) [+]
Expenditure Per Capita [+] 2017 1,024$ chart 8,154$ 2018 Expenditure Per Capita [+]
Education Expenditure P.C [+] 2017 201$ chart 1,036$ 2008 Education Expenditure P.C [+]
Gov. Health Exp. P.C. [+] 2016 226$ chart 778$ 2016 Gov. Health Exp. P.C. [+]
Defence Expenditure P.C. [+] 2018 147$ chart 2,037$ 2018 Defence Expenditure P.C. [+]
A1 04/13/2018 Moody’s Rating [+]
A- 02/17/2016 S&P Rating [+]
Fitch Rating [+] 04/24/2006 B+ A+ 04/30/2019 Fitch Rating [+]
Corruption Index [+] 2018 28 chart 49 2018 Corruption Index [+]
Competitiveness Ranking [+] 2018 89º chart 39º 2018 Competitiveness Ranking [+]
Fragile States Index [+] 2018 84.3 chart 70.2 2018 Fragile States Index [+]
RTI Raking [+] 09/28/2018 99º
Innovation Ranking [+] 2018 65º chart 61º 2018 Innovation Ranking [+]
Labour
Unemployment rate [+] 2017Q1 12.5% chart 5.6% 2016Q2 Unemployment rate [+]
Unemployed [+] 2017Q1 3,199 m. chart 699 m. 2016Q2 Unemployed [+]
NMW [+] 2011 319.0 $ chart 800.0 $ 2013 NMW [+]
Human Capital Ranking [+] 2017 104º chart 82º 2017 Human Capital Ranking [+]
Markets
US Dollar exchange rate [+] 05/14/2018 42,000.0000 chart 3.7500 05/14/2018 US Dollar exchange rate [+]
1.28% 09/19/2019 Stock ExchangeYTD % [+]
Business
Doing Business [+] 2019 128º chart 92º 2019 Doing Business [+]
Passengers vehicles Year [+] December 2017 1,592,282 chart 438,421 December 2017 Passengers vehicles Year [+]
Annual Vehicles/ 1,000 p. [+] December 2017 21.11 chart 16.84 December 2017 Annual Vehicles/ 1,000 p. [+]
Motor vehicle production [+] 2018 1,342,000
Vehicles / 1,000 people [+] 2015 177.79 chart 212.79 2015 Vehicles / 1,000 people [+]
Taxes
5.00% 01/01/2018 Standard VAT [+]
0% 2018 Top tax rate + SSC [+]
Trade
Exports [+] 2017 91,000.0 M.$ chart 218,374.0 M.$ 2017 Exports [+]
Exports % GDP [+] 2017 21.13% chart 31.71% 2017 Exports % GDP [+]
Imports [+] 2017 49,000.0 M.$ chart 134,520.0 M.$ 2017 Imports [+]
Imports % GDP [+] 2017 11.38% chart 19.54% 2017 Imports % GDP [+]
Trade balance [+] 2017 42,000.0 M.$ chart 83,854.0 M.$ 2017 Trade balance [+]
Trade balance % GDP [+] 2017 9.75% chart 12.18% 2017 Trade balance % GDP [+]
Socio-Demography
Density [+] 2018 47 chart 16 2018 Density [+]
Global Peace Ranking [+] 2019 139º chart 129º 2019 Global Peace Ranking [+]
Remittance received (M.$) [+] 2017 1,378.8 chart 286.5 2017 Remittance received (M.$) [+]
% Immigrant [+] 2017 3.31% chart 37.43% 2017 % Immigrant [+]
% Emigrant [+] 2017 1.44% chart 0.86% 2017 % Emigrant [+]
Birth Rate [+] 2017 15.92‰ chart 19.19‰ 2017 Birth Rate [+]
Remittance sent (M.$) [+] 2017 296.0 chart 46,724.6 2017 Remittance sent (M.$) [+]
Crude death rate [+] 2017 4.49‰ chart 3.58‰ 2017 Crude death rate [+]
Fertility Rate [+] 2017 1.64 chart 2.49 2017 Fertility Rate [+]
Rate Homicides per 100.000 [+] 2015 4.12 chart 1.50 2015 Rate Homicides per 100.000 [+]
Population [+] 2018 81,800,269 chart 33,699,947 2018 Population [+]
Immigrant stock [+] 2017 2,699,155 chart 12,185,284 2017 Immigrant stock [+]
Emigrant stock [+] 2017 1,170,491 chart 278,912 2017 Emigrant stock [+]
HDI [+] 2017 0.798 chart 0.853 2017 HDI [+]
Gender Gap Ranking [+] 2018 142º chart 141º 2018 Gender Gap Ranking [+]
Life expectancy [+] 2017 76.15 chart 74.72 2017 Life expectancy [+]
Number of homicides [+] 2015 3,259 chart 472 2015 Number of homicides [+]
Energy and Environment
CO2 Tons per capita [+] 2017 8.27 chart 19.39 2017 CO2 Tons per capita [+]

196519651970197019751975198019801985198519901990199519952000200020052005201020102015201520,000,00020,000,00040,000,00040,000,00060,000,00060,000,00080,000,00080,000,000IranIranSaudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia

Iran Saudi Arabia
1960 21,906,914 4,086,539
1961 22,480,372 4,218,853
1962 23,071,315 4,362,786
1963 23,680,258 4,516,533
1964 24,307,860 4,677,298
1965 24,954,873 4,843,635
1966 25,624,373 5,015,357
1967 26,317,783 5,195,135
1968 27,032,571 5,387,828
1969 27,764,924 5,599,904
1970 28,513,866 5,836,389
1971 29,281,591 6,100,626
1972 30,075,297 6,392,970
1973 30,905,707 6,711,923
1974 31,786,471 7,054,532
1975 32,729,772 7,419,493
1976 33,733,961 7,802,926
1977 34,803,045 8,207,697
1978 35,960,805 8,646,845
1979 37,237,137 9,137,927
1980 39,291,000 9,320,000
1981 40,826,000 9,786,000
1982 42,420,000 10,276,000
1983 44,077,000 10,790,000
1984 45,798,000 11,330,000
1985 47,587,000 11,897,000
1986 49,445,000 12,492,000
1987 50,662,000 13,118,000
1988 51,909,000 13,774,000
1989 53,187,000 14,463,000
1990 54,496,000 15,187,000
1991 55,837,000 15,947,000
1992 56,656,000 16,948,000
1993 57,488,000 17,277,000
1994 58,331,000 17,701,000
1995 59,187,000 18,136,000
1996 60,055,000 18,581,000
1997 61,070,000 19,037,000
1998 62,103,000 19,504,000
1999 63,152,000 19,983,000
2000 64,219,000 20,474,000
2001 65,301,000 20,976,000
2002 66,300,000 21,491,000
2003 67,315,000 22,020,000
2004 68,345,000 22,564,000
2005 69,390,000 23,330,000
2006 70,496,000 24,122,000
2007 71,366,000 24,941,000
2008 72,266,000 25,787,000
2009 73,196,000 26,661,000
2010 74,157,000 27,563,000
2011 75,150,000 28,376,000
2012 76,038,000 29,196,000
2013 76,942,000 29,994,000
2014 78,470,000 30,770,000
2015 79,476,000 31,016,000
2016 80,460,000 31,743,000
2017 81,423,000 32,552,000
2018 81,800,269 33,699,947
CountrySubcontinentContinentWorld
CountrySubcontinentContinentWorld
Saudi Arabia

 

 

 

 

 

Story 2: Morally Bankrupt New York Time Smear Campaign of Lies Against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — No Victim and No Witnesses — Big Lie Media — Junk Journalism — — Videos —

See the source image

Trump Urgest Kavanaugh To Sue New York Times For Libel

Hemingway accuses NYT of hiding facts, using ‘gossip’ to smear Kavanaugh

Trump calls for NY Times staff to resign over Kavanaugh story

Sen. Tillis on New York Times Kavanaugh report

New York Times faces intense scrutiny over Kavanaugh article

Tucker: New York Times revives attacks on Kavanaugh

Ingraham: Democrats’ smash and smear campaign

Bongino blasts NYT’s ‘disgraceful’ reporting on Kavanaugh

Ben Shapiro blasts The New York Times’ reporting on Kavanaugh

Gowdy compares impeaching Kavanaugh to ‘political death penalty’

Gutfeld on the latest New York Times scandal

Trump demands DOJ ‘rescue’ Kavanaugh as fresh allegations emerge

Napolitano on new questions surrounding Kavanaugh accuser’s motivation

New video raises questions about Kavanaugh accuser’s testimony

Graham: Kavanaugh impeachment based on this is ‘dead on arrival’

‘Squad’ member to introduce Kavanaugh impeachment resolution

Why the Times bungled so badly in its latest Kavanaugh smear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I wrote a column Sunday torching The New York Times for its latest attempt to attack Justice Brett Kavanaugh, I had no idea how quickly its story would fall apart. Explaining how and why is now in order.

The primary reason is that the anti-conservative bias within the Times organization is now so overwhelming that, at least on the continually troubled opinion side, there is simply no one in the loop who isn’t already positive Kavanaugh is a sexual predator — no one both able and willing (which, given today’s culture of fear regarding the #MeToo subject matter, may have been the more daunting hurdle) to express skepticism about a story that seeks to prove what everyone there already “knows” to be true.

I saw an obvious red flag before I even read the story. Liberals on Twitter were immediately excited by these “bombshell” revelations about Kavanaugh in an article that was innocuously titled as a piece on Yale University’s culture at the time when he and his “accuser” went there. That is obviously not how a story with legitimate new damning information would have been framed, even on a weekend.

As it turns out, there was very good reason why the two Times reporters, who are promoting a book about Kavanaugh’s past, were forced to go that very circuitous route to sneak in their extremely flimsy allegations.

It turns out the Times’ news editors had reportedly declined to run their “revelations” as a news story due to lack of evidence, just like The Washington Post had done, correctly, a year ago.

Then comes the issue of the “country club” aspect of an exclusive place like the Times filled with alleged journalistic elites. These two reporters are obviously respected colleagues of everyone in the decision-making roles, and they are naturally going to be given far wider latitude and trust than an outside author.

Surely that had to be part of the reason the Times somehow allowed one of the book’s authors to write a totally outrageous tweet for the outlet about her own story, which the paper had to then delete. That tweet, on its own, should discredit the book’s co-author, as it could not be more obvious evidence of someone who already had her conclusion about the case and simply went about desperately — and mostly unsuccessfully — trying to find some actual evidence to substantiate it.

Connected to this is the extraordinary arrogance of people who work at the Times. In my direct experience, they truly believe that if a story comes from a Times reporter that it must be the gospel truth, unless God herself declares it not to be, and even then they will only send it out for a quick fact-check.

Then there is the increasing challenge that, thanks to having gone to a subscription model and with the advent of Twitter, the Times is becoming beholden to its very liberal base of most passionate customers.

As several recent episodes have shown, the Times is now often edited by the whims of liberal Twitter, and surely anxiety over potentially pissing off this group by either censoring potentially negative Kavanaugh information, or, even worse, making him seem potentially innocent, had to play at least a subconscious role here.

This last point is likely the cause of one of the many egregious mistakes in the piece. While it has still not gotten widespread news media coverage, the Times absurdly censored its own story by omitting what is very likely the most substantive nugget of new information in their book.

It turns out that Leland Keyser, friend of Christine Ford (Kavanaugh’s first and primary accuser) — whom Ford claimed was the only other girl at the infamous pool party — gave the authors her first major interview.

Keyser, who was once married to Democratic operative Bob Beckel, told them that Ford’s story “makes no sense,” that she doesn’t have “any confidence” in the allegation and that she was targeted by Ford allies in an effort to get her to lie by backing up Ford’s uncorroborated account.

Now THAT is a real bombshell but one that clearly conflicts with the preferred liberal narrative of this entire fiasco in which both the Times and the two reporters are invested.

All of this has backfired spectacularly, and has given President Donald Trump yet another data point in his quest to paint every negative report about him and his administration “Fake News!”

Unless the culture at the Times and other mainstream outlets dramatically changes (spoiler alert: It will not), this kind of thing is only going to continue.

John Ziegler is a senior columnist for Mediaite.com, from which this was adapted.

https://nypost.com/2019/09/17/why-the-times-bungled-so-badly-in-its-latest-kavanaugh-smear/

Alleged Victim In New York Times Kavanaugh Story Denies Any Recollection Of Incident

New York Times reporters Robin Pogebrin and Kate Kelly are out with a new book that attempts to buttress the unsubstantiated claims deployed last year against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation” is neither a look at the education of Brett Kavanaugh nor an investigation. They admit they found no evidence to support the claims made by Christine Blasey Ford or Debbie Ramirez, although they say their “gut reaction” to the allegations is that they are true. They generously concede that their “gut” tells them that Michael Avenatti client Julie Swetnick’s claims are not true, citing the lack of corroboration.

The “lack of corroboration” standard was unevenly held to by the authors. Blasey Ford’s four witnesses all denied knowledge of the party at which her alleged assault took place. Ramirez went from telling Ronan Farrow “I don’t have any stories about Brett Kavanaugh and sexual misconduct,” to telling friends of an incident for which she “couldn’t be sure” Kavanaugh was involved, to now being the centerpiece of the Pogebrin and Kelly book. Ramirez also had no eyewitness support for her story that allegedly took place at a well-attended party, even after friendly media outlets contacted some 75 classmates trying to find corroboration. Both women had the support of many friends and activists, however.

The only supposedly new claim made in the book isn’t new and comes from Democrat attorney Max Stier, a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s with whom he has a long and contentious history. In the words of the Yale Daily News, they were “pitted” against each other during the Whitewater investigation in the 1990s when Kavanaugh worked for Independent Counsel Ken Starr. Stier defended President Bill Clinton, whose legal troubles began when a woman accused him of exposing himself to her in hotel room she had been brought to. Clinton later settled with the woman for $850,000 and, due to a contempt of court citation for misleading testimony, ended up losing his law license for five years. Stier worked closely with David Kendall, who went on to defend Hillary Clinton against allegations of illegally handling classified information. Kavanaugh’s reference to his opponents being motivated by “revenge on behalf of the Clintons” met with befuddlement by liberal media, despite the surprisingly large number of Clinton-affiliated attorneys who kept popping up during his confirmation hearings.

In any case, Stier’s claim, which even two Democratic senators’ offices didn’t find particularly worthwhile, was that he had seen an inebriated Kavanaugh, pants-down, at a freshman-year party. Stier’s claim to the staffers, we’re told, was that other people at the party put Kavanaugh’s genitalia into the hands of a classmate. Another unnamed person alleged said that he or she might have remembered hearing that the female student had transferred out of her college because of Kavanaugh, “though exactly why was unclear.”

The reporters, who describe Democrats in glowing terms and Republicans otherwise, say that Stier is a “respected thought leader” in the defense of the federal bureaucracy. They don’t mention his history of working for the Clintons. As for the victim? They say she “has refused to discuss the incident, though several of her friends said she does not recall it.”

To repeat: Several of her friends said she does not recall it.

So to summarize, the only new claim in the new book is that a Democratic attorney told two senators that he saw an incident where a third party allegedly did something to Kavanaugh and the young woman. In their book, the authors are upset that this claim didn’t lead to a massive FBI investigation, although they don’t explain why they think it should have.

Pogebrin and Kelly left the victim’s denial out of their New York Times story. It is unclear why the reporters and editors allowed the story to be published without this salient fact that they conceded, albeit briefly, in their own book.

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway is a senior editor at The Federalist. She is Senior Journalism Fellow at Hillsdale College and a Fox News contributor.

The Ongoing Smear Campaign against Brett Kavanaugh

Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh at his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, September 4, 2018. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

The New York Times had a significant story to tell about Brett Kavanaugh. It’s this: In a new book, the Times reporters produced new evidence that profoundly undermined the central claims against Kavanaugh. Leland Keyser — Christine Blasey Ford’s friend and the person Ford herself testified was also at the party where Ford claimed Kavanaugh assaulted her — has stated on the record that she doesn’t have “any confidence” in Ford’s story.

Not only does she not recall the specific party at issue, she doesn’t recall “any others like it.” Moreover, Keyser maintains this recollection in spite of a determined effort by old friends to get her to change her testimony — a pressure campaign that Keyser admirably resisted.

In other words, “Never mind.” But even that editor’s note is incomplete. It turns out that Max Stier served as one of Bill Clinton’s lawyers during the Starr investigation, a fact that’s at least relevant to the existence of partisan bias.

But for sheer malice nothing can match the speed and ferocity with which reporters accepted the facially ludicrous rape story pushed by Michael Avenatti client Julie Swetnick. She claimed that she saw Kavanaugh “waiting his turn” for a gang rape and spiking punch to facilitate gang rapes. The story was never remotely plausible, but that didn’t stop media figures from shaming anyone who expressed public doubts on Twitter.

Trump Urges Kavanaugh To Sue New York Times For Libel

Perhaps the nadir of the whole affair is when Vox helped “explain the news” by publishing a piece arguing that the John Hughes movie Sixteen Candles provided “important context” for the Kavanaugh allegations. In the 1980s, you see, there was a different “cultural understanding” about gang rape.

Against this backdrop, the Democrats calling for impeaching Kavanaugh — including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris — are disgracing themselves. The claims against Kavanaugh never stood up to scrutiny, and the evidence that has emerged since the hearings last fall has only served to undercut further the claims against him.

In a speech earlier this year, Ford’s attorney Debra Katz admitted to the partisanship that at least in part motivated her client: They wanted to put an “asterisk” next to his name. “When he takes a scalpel to Roe v. Wade,” she said, “we will know who he is, we know his character, and we know what motivates him, and that is important; it is important that we know, and that is part of what motivated Christine.”

2020 Dems Assail Kavanaugh Despite NYT Story Correction

By Susan Crabtree – RCP Staff

September 17, 2019

2020 Dems Assail Kavanaugh Despite NYT Story Correction

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

On Sunday, the New York Times walked back and significantly revised the latest incendiary allegation against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, but the unusual correction to a central part of its bombshell story seemed to mean little to the field of 2020 Democratic presidential contenders.

Sen. Kamala Harris had “pinned” her weekend reaction to the story — a call for Kavanaugh’s impeachment — to the top of her Twitter page, the social media equivalent of running a banner headline about a position on a high-priority issue.

Harris’ Tweet was still there by Monday night, without qualification, despite a fierce bipartisan backlash against the Times’ initial reporting of the uncorroborated sexual misconduct allegation, and the Gray Lady’s clumsy efforts to correct its original reporting about it.

The controversy began Saturday when the Times ran a “news analysis” piece by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, adapted from their forthcoming book, “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh.”

The wide-ranging story included a seemingly new allegation — that a Kavanaugh classmate at Yale, nonprofit CEO Max Stier, “saw Kavanaugh with his pants down at a drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student.”

Late Sunday, the Times updated the Kavanaugh story with an “editor’s note” acknowledging that the alleged victim of the incident had declined to be interviewed and several friends had said she did not recall the alleged misconduct.

The Times only added that note after The Federalist’s Mollie Hemmingway, who had an advance copy of the book, flagged the glaring omission in the Times reporting.

Pogrebin and Kelly on Monday night blamed their editors for cutting the critical pieces of exculpatory information from the story. They said they had included the details about the victim declining to be interviewed for the story and her friends saying she didn’t recall the incident, along with the woman’s name. Pogrebin said their editors decided against using the woman’s name and in “the haste” of trying to close the editorial process edited out all of the information about the woman, instead of just her name. The pair did not say why they didn’t object.

Pogrebin and Kelly are hardly new to the editing process. Pogrebin has been a Times reporter since 1995, and her mother, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, is a founding editor of Ms. magazine, a liberal feminist publication created in the early 1970s. Kelly has been covering business and finance for 20 years, including a decade at the Wall Street Journal.

“We certainly never intended to mislead in any way. We wanted to give as full a story as possible,” Pogrebin told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell Monday evening.

But that wasn’t the only hole in the story. The piece also omitted relevant information about Stier’s work during the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal as a member of Bill Clinton’s defense team at the law firm Williams & Connolly.

And it included a strangely constructed attribution that wouldn’t pass most major newsrooms’ standards when reporting on a sexual assault allegation against a major public figure. In the piece, the reporters wrote: “We corroborated the story with two officials who have communicated with Mr. Stier.” But they did not indicate what type of “officials,” government or otherwise, those sources are.

Several liberal commentators across a variety of media, from MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to National Public Radio and at least one host on “The View,” spent Monday blasting the Times’ report as a particularly egregious example of journalistic malfeasance.

Despite the widespread criticism of the piece, Harris and other 2020 Democrats who spent the weekend calling for Kavanaugh’s impeachment based on the new report, aren’t dialing back their demands or even acknowledging the Times’ correction of the very story that sparked those demands.

In fact, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer jumped into the fray to call for Kavanaugh’s impeachment on Monday after the Times issued the correction.

“The @GOP is so hell bent on guaranteeing a conservative court, they are willing to overlook serious allegations on sexual misconduct and perjury,” he tweeted Monday. “The system is broken.”

RealClearPolitics reached out to spokespersons for Harris, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, all of whom called for Kavanaugh’s impeachment over the weekend after the Times’ story broke. None of the campaigns responded.

In fact, Harris continued to attack Kavanaugh’s confirmation on Twitter Monday morning, the day after the Times issued its correction.

The Times also did not respond to an RCP inquiry on how it planned to restore its credibility, whether any reporter or editor would be fired over the failings and where the breakdown in journalistic standards occurred that allowed the seemingly new but uncorroborated allegation to be published.

Since the Times’ corrected the piece, President Trump has lambasted the paper, firing off multiple tweets calling the new efforts to force Kavanaugh off the court “lies and fake news,” and encouraging lawsuits against the paper.

At a campaign rally in New Mexico Monday night, he assailed the paper once again, calling for the resignation of “everybody at the New York Times involved in the Kavanaugh smear story.”

The president was in the rare position of following a bipartisan outpouring of outrage over the story, as well as the correction, which for some journalists raised more questions about the process that led to the material’s publication than it answered.

Early Monday, MSNBC’s anti-Trump host Joe Scarborough said it was a “stunning decision to leave that central [lack of corroboration] fact out of an article filled with damning accusations.”

Liberal Yale law professor Scott Shapiro called it an “outrageous omission” and appeared to promote a boycott of the paper over the issue.

“Would love to see my fellow liberals who routinely threaten to unsubscribe to the NYT to make the same threat now,” he tweeted.

NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik asserted that having the alleged victim corroborate the story was a central and necessary part of any reporting on the incident.

“One can argue that the failure to remember, given her intoxication, is not dispositive,” he tweeted. “One can’t argue, however, that that fact didn’t need to be in the Kavanaugh story from the outset.”

“The View’s” self-described moderate, Abby Huntsman, denounced the Times’ report as “sloppy and lazy” and congratulated the paper for helping Trump get re-elected.

Conservative media critics cited the Times’ reporting as proof that the media is working hand-in-glove with Democrats to relentlessly and falsely attack Republicans.

“Omitting these facts from the @nytimes story is one of the worst cases of journalistic malpractice I can recall,” tweeted National Review’s John McCormack.

The controversy also played into the hands of some of Kavanaugh’s staunchest supporters. Carrie Severino, the chief counsel and policy director for the Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative group that reportedly spent $10 million backing the Supreme Court nominee last year, called the Times’ reporting of uncorroborated accusations a part of several “shameful attempts to reignite baseless smears about Kavanaugh.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, who ran Kavanaugh’s tumultuous Judiciary Committee confirmation process last year, on Twitter pointed out that no one from the Times’ had reached out to his office for the story and his office had not received an allegation against Kavanaugh “like the one referenced over the weekend.”

The Iowa Republican later Monday disputed the references to the alleged incident as a “new allegation.” Instead, during a speech on the Senate floor he said the report amounts to “barely a third-hand rumor” and the type of reckless, uncorroborated reporting that is having a corrosive impact on the country’s democratic process.

“These writers – can you believe this? – these writers didn’t even speak to the man whom they claim originally recounted this rumor. What’s left are only layers and layers of decades-old hearsay. No more corroboration, no more verification, not even anything from the accuser himself.”

Referencing the New York Times’ slogan, “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” Grassley said journalism has hit a new, Trump-era low.

“When did this stuff I described become something fit to print by the supposed American paper of record?” he asked. “The sad consequences of this article are a misinformed public, a greater divide in our own discourse, and a deeper lack of faith in our news media.”

Susan Crabtree is RealClearPolitics’ White House/national political correspondent.

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2019/09/17/2020_dems_assail_kavanaugh_despite_nyt_story_correction__141272.html

 

Story 3: U.S. Federal Government Record Spending Exceeds $4 Trillion and Rising — Videos

$4,155,323,000,000: Federal Spending Sets Record Through August

By Terence P. Jeffrey | September 13, 2019 | 12:48 PM EDT

(Getty Images/Win McNamee)

(CNSNews.com) – The federal government spent a record $4,155,323,000,000 in the first eleven months of fiscal 2019 (October through August), according to the Monthly Treasury Statement released Thursday.

While spending a record $4,155,323,000,000, the government ran a deficit of $1,067,156,000,000.

The most the federal government had ever spent in the first eleven months of a fiscal year before this one was in fiscal 2018 when the Treasury spent $3,951,247,170,000 (in constant August 2019 dollars, adjusted using the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator).

Total federal tax revenues in the first eleven months of fiscal 2019 equaled $3,088,167,000,00. That was more than the $3,037,420,180,000 (in constant August 2019 dollars) that the Treasury collected in total taxes in the first eleven months of fiscal 2018, but less than the $3,099,536,720,000 in total taxes (in constant August 2019 dollars) that the Treasury collected in the first eleven months of fiscal 2017.

The Treasury also collected less in individual income taxes in the first eleven months of this year ($1,534,886,000,000) than it did in the first eleven months of fiscal 2018 ($1,548,213,460,000 in constant August 2019 dollars).

According to Table 3 in the Monthly Treasury Statement, the Department of Health and Human Services spent the most of any federal agency in the first eleven months of fiscal 2019 ($1,138,456,000,000), the Social Security Administration spent the second most ($1,013,175,000,000), and the Department of Defense-Military Programs spent the third most ($601,137,000,000).

The business and economic reporting of CNSNews.com is funded in part with a gift made in memory of Dr. Keith C. Wold.

https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/terence-p-jeffrey/4155323000000-federal-spending-sets-record-through-august

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The Pronk Pops Show 1319, September 13, 2019, Story 1: The Winner of The 2020 Presidential Democrat Candidates Third Debate — And The Winner Is — President Trump in A Landslide — Videos

Posted on September 17, 2019. Filed under: 2020 Democrat Candidates, 2020 President Candidates, 2020 Republican Candidates, Abortion, Amy Klobuchar, Applications, Bernie Sanders, Blogroll, Breaking News, Bribes, Business, Climate, Climate Change, Communications, Computers, Congress, Corey Booker, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Elizabeth Warren, Extortion, Hardware, High Crimes, House of Representatives, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Servers, Software, United Kingdom, United States of America | Tags: , , , , |

 

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See the source imageDemocrats Gambling with Our MoneySee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source image

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Story 1: The Winner of The 2020 Presidential Democrat Candidate Debate — And The Winner Is — President Trump in A Landslide  — Videos

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US election 2020: highlights from the third Democratic presidential debate

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