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The Pronk Pops Show 1341, October 15, 2019, Story 1: Senator Mitch McConnell on Unfair Behind Closed Doors Single Party Impeachment Inquiry and Syria — Videos — Story 2: The Search of Leakers in Trump Administration — Videos — Story 3: Democrats Goal of Replacing Your Employer Provided Health Care Cover With Higher Taxes for Medicare For All — Socialized Medicine — Videos — Story 4: President Trump Congratulates The St.Louis Blues For Winning The Stanley Cup — Videos

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Story 1: Senator Mitch McConnell on Unfair Behind Closed Doors Single Party Impeachment Inquiry and Syria — Videos —

Senator Mitch McConnell: Democrats Are ‘Throwing Fairness And Precedent To The Wind’ | NBC News

Senate Needs to Make a Strong, Strategic Statement on Syria

Trump was ‘absolutely right’ to take troops out of Syria: Rand Paul

Democrats, Republicans unite on Trump’s decision on Syria

Senate Needs to Make a Strong, Strategic Statement on Syria

McConnell splits with Trump on Syria pullout

 

Mitch McConnell rebukes Donald Trump over Turkish invasion of Kurdish-held Syria, saying troop pullout gives Iran a chance to reach Israel’s doorstep and contending worthwhile intervention does NOT make the U.S. world’s policeman

  • McConnell once again expressed his ‘grave concern’ about the situation in Syria  
  • Said the door is ‘wide open’ for resurgence of ISIS
  • Said policy could put Iran on Israel’s ‘door-step’
  • Said standing up for U.S. interests does not make nation the ‘evil empire’
  • Trump has repeatedly complained the nation should not be world’s policeman 
  • At the same time, he blasted House Democrats on impeachment

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell directly confronted President Trump‘s complaint that U.S. troop deployment’s make it the ‘world’s policeman’ and expressed his ‘grave concern’ about Trump’s policy moves in Syria.

McConnell issued the rebuke without directly blaming President Trump for the latest calamity in the region – although he said Trump’s policy threatens to put Iran on Israel’s door-step and fuel a ‘humanitarian catastrophe.’

Following Turkey’s incursion into Syria in territory that had been controlled by U.S.-allied members of the Kurdish minority, McConnell warned that the ‘door is wide open for resurgence of the Islamic State.’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took on President Trump's contention that having forces remain in Syria was akin to being the 'world's policeman'

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took on President Trump’s contention that having forces remain in Syria was akin to being the ‘world’s policeman’

In a Senate floor speech, McConnell said the situation created a power vacuum that could fuel the meddling influence of Russia, and ‘leaving northeastern Syria wide open Iran to extend reach unimpeded all the way from tehran to the door step of our friends in Israel.

He also confronted the view, espoused directly by President Trump, that the U.S. should pull out of the region rather serving as the ‘world’s policeman.’

I want to make something clear, the United States has taken the fight to Syria and Afghanistan because that is where our enemies are, that’s why we’re there. Fighting terrorists, exercising leadership and troubled regions and advancing U.S. interests around the world does not make us an evil empire or the world’s policeman,’ McConnell said.

This picture taken on October 15, 2019 shows a missile fired by Turkish forces towards the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, from the Turkish side of the border at Ceylanpinar district in Sanliurfa on the first week of Turkey's military operation against Kurdish forces

This picture taken on October 15, 2019 shows a missile fired by Turkish forces towards the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, from the Turkish side of the border at Ceylanpinar district in Sanliurfa on the first week of Turkey’s military operation against Kurdish forces

McConnell shared his 'grave concern' about the situation in Syria

McConnell shared his ‘grave concern’ about the situation in Syria

‘When it looked like President Trump would withdraw from Syria at beginning of the year, 70 senators joined in warning of the risk of precipitously withdrawing from Syria or Afghanistan,’ McConnell noted in his floor speech

McConnell had also warned of his ‘grave concern’ in a written statement Monday that did not mention Trump by name. But in his floor speech Tuesday, he included such a reference.

‘When it looked like President Trump would withdraw from Syria at beginning of the year, 70 senators joined in warning of the risk of precipitously withdrawing from Syria or Afghanistan,’ McConnell noted.

But even as he challenged the president on a policy that has resulted in the release of ISIS prisoners, led to attacks against key regional allies, and even led to shelling by Turkish forces toward a U.S. troop-held position, he defended the president on impeachment by attacking Democrats.

‘House Democrats are finally indulging in their impeachment obsession. Full steam ahead,’ McConnell warned. ‘I don’t think many of us were expecting to witness a clinic in terms of fairness or due process. But even by their own partisan standards, House Democrats have already found new ways to lower the bar,’ he complained.

McConnell has said he was required by Senate rules to hold a trial should the House impeach Trump.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7577029/Mitch-McConnell-rebukes-Donald-Trump-Turkish-invasion-Kurdish-held-Syria.html

Trump’s Syria Mess

He resorts to sanctions as the harm from withdrawal builds.

Syrians fleeing Turskih advance arrive to the town of Tal Tamr in north Syria, Oct. 14. PHOTO: BADERKHAN AHMAD/ASSOCIATED PRESS

What a fiasco. Foreign-policy blunders often take months or years to reveal their damaging consequences, but the harm from President Trump’s abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces from northern Syria is playing out almost in real time.

Critics said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would invade northern Syria despite Mr. Trump’s public warnings, and the Turkish strongman did. Critics said our Kurdish allies would strike a deal with Syria’s Bashar Assad to defend themselves, and the Kurds have. Critics said Islamic State prisoners held by the Kurds would be released and scatter to wage jihad again, and they are.

The mess compounded Monday when Mr. Trump authorized sanctions against several Turkish officials and agencies who are “contributing to Turkey’s destabilizing actions in northeast Syria.” The sanctions include financial measures and barring entry to the U.S. Mr. Trump also said he’s ending trade talks with Turkey and raising steel tariffs to 50%.

Mr. Trump now finds himself back in an economic and diplomatic brawl with Turkey that he said he wanted to avoid. Wouldn’t it have been easier simply to tell Mr. Erdogan, on that famous phone call two Sundays ago, that the U.S. wouldn’t tolerate a Turkish invasion against the Kurds and would use air power to stop it? Mr. Erdogan would have had to back down and continue negotiating a Syrian safe zone with the Kurds and the U.S.

Mr. Trump is also making matters worse with his unserious justifications. “After defeating 100% of the ISIS Caliphate, I largely moved our troops out of Syria. Let Syria and Assad protect the Kurds and fight Turkey for their own land,” he tweeted Monday. “Anyone who wants to assist Syria in protecting the Kurds is good with me, whether it is Russia, China, or Napoleon Bonaparte. I hope they all do great, we are 7,000 miles away!”

We suppose the Napoleon line was a joke, but the world is laughing at an American President. Mr. Trump was able to project an image of strength in his early days as he prosecuted the war against ISIS and used force to impose a cost on Mr. Assad for using chemical weapons. But that image has faded as he has indulged his inner Rand Paul and claims at every opportunity that the main goal of his foreign policy is to put an end to “endless wars.”

This is simple-minded isolationism, and it’s a message to the world’s rogues that a U.S. President has little interest in engaging on behalf of American allies or interests. Friends like Israel and Saudi Arabia are quietly dismayed, while Iran, Russia and Hezbollah can’t believe Mr. Trump has so glibly abandoned U.S. commitments and military partners.

By now it’s not unreasonable to conclude that Mr. Trump’s foreign policy can be distilled into two tactics—sanctions and tariffs. Mr. Trump wields them willy-nilly against friend and foe alike as substitutes for diplomacy and the credible threat of military force.

Mr. Trump won’t like to hear it, but the Syrian mess is hurting him at home too. Republicans who have stood by him through the Russia fight and more are questioning his judgment as Commander in Chief in an increasingly dangerous world. With impeachment looming, he can’t afford to alienate more friends.

Opinion: Trump's Foreign Policy Needs to Change Course

Opinion: Trump’s Foreign Policy Needs to Change Course
As Turkey advances into Syria, foreign powers will increasingly act on the belief that the American executive is both politically weak and intellectually unfocused. Image: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Imageshttps://www.wsj.com/articles/trumps-syria-mess-11571095091

TRUMP’S CHAOTIC SYRIA EXIT PUTS ANTI-WAR 2020 DEMOCRATS IN A DELICATE SPOT

THE PENTAGON announced on Monday that the U.S. was pulling all of its troops out of northeastern Syria at President Donald Trump’s direction, completing a withdrawal he had started by Twitter declaration a week earlier. The move further clears the way for a full-on invasion by Turkey, whose soldiers have already been accused of executing noncombatants. In the chaos, hundreds of Islamic State detainees have reportedly escaped.

Trump defended his decision in a series of early-morning tweets on Monday. “The same people who got us into the Middle East mess are the people who most want to stay there!” he wrote. “Never ending wars will end!”

Trump’s abandonment of eastern Syria and the U.S. military’s Kurdish allies has put progressive Democrats — many of whom also favor withdrawing from overseas military operations — in a delicate spot. Over the past week, they have been trying to thread the needle between condemning Trump for recklessly abandoning an ally and emphasizing that withdrawing U.S. troops should be an eventual policy goal.

Trump’s decision has showcased what a worst-case scenario for expedited military withdrawal could look like, making it harder for progressive Democratic presidential candidates like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to press their cases against “endless wars” on the campaign trail. The question of how progressives can go about drawing down U.S. military commitments without repeating Trump’s calamitous actions would be an obvious pick for Tuesday night’s Democratic debate.

So far, the Democratic candidates have been critical of Trump but light on specifics about what they would do differently. Last week, Sanders condemned Trump’s withdrawal from Syria, telling reporters that “as somebody who does not want to see American troops bogged down in countries all over the world — you don’t turn your back on allies who have fought and died alongside American troops. You just don’t do that.” But when George Stephanopoulos asked Sunday morning on ABC for Sanders to explain the difference between his and Trump’s approaches, Sanders responded simply that Trump “lies. I don’t.”

Warren’s response was similarly vague. She tweeted that “Trump recklessly betrayed our Kurdish partners” and that “we should bring our troops home, but we need to do so in a way that respects our security.”

Ro Khanna, a Democratic representative from California and co-chair of Sanders’s 2020 campaign, told The Intercept that progressives urgently need to make the case for a “doctrine of responsible withdrawal.”

“I don’t believe that withdrawal from a progressive perspective means a moral indifference to the lives of the places that we leave,” Khanna said in a phone interview. “It’s not an ‘America First’ approach that says our interests and our American lives are the only things that have moral worth. Rather, our withdrawal is based on an understanding of the limitations of American power to shape and restructure societies. It emphasizes the need for effective diplomacy and understands our moral obligations in these places.”

The U.S. should not have withdrawn troops without negotiating a deal that would have kept Turkey from invading Syria, backed by a threat to withhold future arms sales and economic assistance, Khanna told The Intercept. “We could have used all those points of leverage to get their commitment that they wouldn’t slaughter the Kurds.”

Another key difference between Trump’s approach and that of progressives is their level of trust for civil service expertise, Khanna said. “What this shows is that it’s not enough to have a president with certain instincts. Foreign policy requires great expertise. You need a progressive president who understands the importance of military restraint, but who also has the ability to put together an extraordinary foreign policy team to implement the goals that they may have.”

Far from admiring Trump’s approach to Syria, many anti-interventionists and foreign policy experts in D.C. view it as a blueprint for how not to withdraw from a conflict, according to Adam Wunische, a researcher with the Quincy Institute, a new pro-diplomacy, noninterventionist, and nonpartisan think tank.

“What we should have been doing from the very beginning is once we achieved the limited objective of destroying ISIS territory, they should have immediately begun contemplating what kind of peace or settlement could come afterwards,” Wunische told The Intercept. “To my knowledge, the U.S. is one of the only actors that can effectively talk to both the Turks and the Kurds. So they should have been trying to find an acceptable political arrangement for all the parties involved that doesn’t involve an endless, ill-defined military presence for the U.S.”

The Quincy Institute is working on a report outlining a possible plan for U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan that would avoid the type of disorder on display in northeastern Syria, Wunische said, though the timing of the report remains unclear.

Throughout the 2020 Democratic primary campaign, a number of candidates have railed against “endless wars.” But in a conversation that has been defined by intricate domestic policy proposals and detailed outlines of how to structure a wealth tax, candidates have said little about the rest of the world and even less about how they would wind down overseas conflicts.

Sanders, for example, has called for a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan “as expeditiously as possible.” Warren has said “it’s long past time to bring our troops home, and I would begin to do so immediately.” Joe Biden has said he would bring “American combat troops in Afghanistan home during my first term,” but left the door open for a “residual U.S. military presence” that would be “focused on counterterrorism operations.” When asked during a July debate whether he would withdraw from Afghanistan during the first year of his presidency, Pete Buttigieg, the South Bend mayor and Navy Reserve veteran who spent seven months in Afghanistan, answered emphatically in the affirmative.

But aside from seeking a diplomatic solution, candidates have said very little about their policies for ending the war. And as in Syria, stakes for U.S. allies in Afghanistan are high.

A January study by the Rand Corporation found that a “precipitous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan” would have far-reaching consequences. The legitimacy for the U.S.-backed Kabul government would plummet, the report argued, and the Taliban would extend its control and influence. People all across the country would turn to regional militias and rival warlords for basic security.

“I don’t think that anyone, whether they promise it or not, is going to get out of Afghanistan in a week,” said Wuinsche. “What we need to focus on is, what is the political solution that we think is possible, and how do we get there? That requires marshaling all of these different tools of foreign policy, not just the military.”

Kate Kizer, policy director for the D.C.-based advocacy group Win Without War, stressed that one of the most revealing differences between progressives and Trump is how they would treat a conflict’s refugees. Under Trump, the U.S. has accepted historically low numbers of refugees and closed the door on future Syrian immigrants applying for Temporary Protected Status.

“One of the cruelest parts of Trump’s policy is the fact that, in addition to fueling more bloodshed with this decision, he’s also banning any types of civilians who would be fleeing from the conflict,” Kizer said. “In a situation like Syria and even Afghanistan, there’s a way to responsibly withdraw and then there’s a way to cut and run, which is what Trump has shown he has a predilection for. But I’m not sitting here saying that any type of military withdraw will necessarily be bloodless.”

https://theintercept.com/2019/10/15/syria-troop-withdrawal-trump-democrats/

Story 2: The Search of Leakers in Trump Administration — Videos

RUST NO ONE

Trump Suspects a Spiteful John Bolton Is Behind Some of the Ukraine Leaks

Trump fears the leaks are now coming from the people he chose to serve him—and that only increases the paranoia currently infecting the West Wing.

Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast/Getty

At a critical juncture in his presidency, facing a rapidly unfolding impeachment inquiry by House Democrats, Donald Trump is feeling besieged by snitches.

In recent weeks, numerous leaks have appeared in the pages of The Washington PostThe New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and other major papers and news outlets detailing the president’s attempts to enlist foreign leaders to help dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and also aid Trump’s quest to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s concluded investigation. And as is his MO, the media-obsessed president has been fixated on not just the identity of the whistleblower behind the internal complaint that brought this scandal to the fore, but also on who, exactly, has been namelessly feeding intel to the press.

In the course of casual conversations with advisers and friends, President Trump has privately raised suspicions that a spiteful John Bolton, his notoriously hawkish former national security adviser, could be one of the sources behind the flood of leaks against him, three people familiar with the comments said. At one point, one of those sources recalled, Trump guessed that Bolton was behind one of the anonymous accounts that listed the former national security adviser as one of the top officials most disturbed by the Ukraine-related efforts of Trump and Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney who remains at the center of activities that spurred the impeachment inquiry.

“[Trump] was clearly implying [it, saying] something to the effect of, ‘Oh, gee, I wonder who the source on that could be,’” this source said, referring to the president’s speculation. Bolton, for his part, told The Daily Beast last month that allegations that he was a leaker in Trump’s midst are “flatly incorrect.”

The former national security adviser—who departed the administration last month on awfulmutually bitter terms—is working on a book about his time serving Trump, and has “a lot to dish,” one knowledgeable source noted.

Neither Bolton nor White House spokespeople provided comment for this story. Matt Schlapp, an influential conservative activist with close ties to the White House, said his assumption was that the leaks were coming from “career folks inside who hate Trump” and that the president and his campaign had “14 months of this” to come. As for Bolton, Schlapp said, “He’s smarter than that, although he does aggressively defend himself.”

Indeed, Bolton’s name surfaced Monday before House impeachment inquiry committees, when Hill reportedly testified that he told her to alert the chief lawyer for the National Security Council that Giuliani was working with Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, on an operation with legal implications, the Times reported late Monday. “I am not part of whatever drug deal Rudy and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Bolton told Hill to tell White House lawyers, according to sources familiar with the testimony.

“I have not spoken to John about [his comments, as conveyed by Hill],” Giuliani told The Daily Beast on Tuesday morning. “John is a longtime friend. I have no idea why John is doing this. My best guess is that he’s confused and bought into a false media narrative without bothering to call me about it.”

Regarding Bolton’s reported comment about Mulvaney being involved in this figurative Ukraine “drug deal,” the former New York City mayor insisted that “Mick wasn’t involved in this. I don’t recall having any lengthy conversation with him about this subject… I don’t recall ever having a lengthy conversation [about Ukraine] with John, either.”

Trump has felt under siege from within before, including at various flashpoints of his presidency. For instance, near the end of the Mueller probe, the president became so distrustful and resentful toward Don McGahn, his own White House counsel at the time, he started asking those close to him, “Is [Don] wearing a wire?”

But the current sense that he has been undermined by people whom he brought into his orbit has come at a critical juncture and colored some of the decisions he has made since the whistleblower complaint became public.  The president has openly declared that the whistleblower committed an act of treason. He has attempted to stop prominent advisers—including Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, a man who donated $1 million to the Trump inauguration—from testifying to Congress, only to apparently fail. On Monday, Fiona Hill, Trump’s former top adviser on Russia and Europe, was on Capitol Hill, where she reportedly told lawmakers that Sondland and Giuliani circumventedthe standard national-security process on high-profile Ukraine matters. The president has struggled to add to his current legal team, and appeared to begin putting some distance between himself and Giuliani last week.

And when outside allies began to talk about constructing a war room to help with impeachment, Trump shot down the concept, in part out of a sense that he couldn’t rely on them to get the message out right. One top White House aide subsequently labeled the idea an exercise by “outside peeps trying to self-aggrandize.”

The impression left on Republicans is one of a president increasingly driven by paranoia and a desire for insularity—and not, necessarily, to his own benefit.

“There is a certain level of frustration that all the sudden the president says something, then Rudy does, and it is not always consistent. There is a frustration that not everybody knows what they should be doing. It is not that they can’t defend the president it is a frustration that they don’t know exactly how they are supposed to defend the president,” said John Brabender, a longtime GOP consultant. “From the president’s perspective, this whole thing is a witch hunt and is outrageous and, therefore, it shouldn’t even need explanation…But with that said, you can’t just be angry. You need a unified communications team.”

According to those who’ve known the president, the sense that a good chunk of the government has never fully accepted his presidency and has actively worked to undermine it has animated much of his activity over the past few weeks. And though they believe he has a point, they also wonder if it is making him functionally incapable of taking the advice of some advisers: to simply ignore impeachment and apply his attention to other facets of governance.

Trump, they add, is preternaturally incapable of ignoring press about him and lingers particularly on leaks that depict atmospherics of his inner sanctum, the West Wing, and his internal well-being.

“In my experience, what he despises is somebody writing that Donald Trump feels under siege and his emotions are this and his thinking is this,” said Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign aide. “He hates people saying what he is thinking… And one of his most frequent tricks in terms of talking about himself on background [as an anonymous source] is him having the reporter say [he is] someone ‘familiar with the president’s thinking.’”

Nunberg said he had yet to see a blind quote in any recent report that would lead him to believe that Trump is cold-calling reporters. But the president is certainly working the fourth estate. Democratic aides were left shaking their heads last week when they received an email from the White House with the subject line, “Article from President Trump” and a PDF attachment of a Kimberly Strassel Wall Street Journal column.

“He’s apparently so anxious about GOP support in the Senate, he’s taken to sending WSJ columns against the House inquiry,” said a Senate source.

Still, for all of Trump’s grousing and preoccupation with who is and isn’t stabbing him in the back, loyalty has always been a one-way street for this president. Last week, after the news broke that Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two Soviet-born businessmen tied to Giuliani, were arrested on charges of violating campaign-finance law, a reporter at the White House asked Trump if the former New York mayor was still his personal attorney. The president responded that he didn’t know.

Though the president would later tweet out his support for Giuliani over the weekend, Trump has a long track record for being loyal to and supportive of a longtime associate, friend, or staffer—up until the moment he’s not. Perhaps the quintessential example of this is that of one of the president’s former attorneys, Michael Cohen, who famously turned on Trump after becoming convinced that the president had abandoned him while he was in the crosshairs of federal prosecutors.

Asked by The Daily Beast last week if the president told him that he still had his lawyer’s back—an attorney who further earned the president’s trust by defending Trump during the Mueller investigation—Giuliani let out a big belly-laugh and responded, “There’s nothing, [no knife], in my back.”

“My back feels very comfortable right now,” he added.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-suspects-a-spiteful-john-bolton-is-behind-ukraine-leaks

Story 3: Democrats Goal of Replacing Your Employer Provided Health Care Cover With Higher Taxes for Medicare For All — Socialized Medicine — Videos —

 

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Medicare For All: What Does it Actually Mean?

DEBUNKED: Medicare for All MYTHS! | Louder With Crowder

Story 4: President Trump Congratulates The St.Louis Blues For Winning The Stanley Cup — Videos —

Trump welcomes the Stanley Cup Champions to WH

President Trump Welcomes the St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup Champions

Trump welcomes 2019 Stanley Cup champions to White House

Trump welcomes the St. Louis Blues to the White House

WATCH: Trump hosts NHL champions St. Louis Blues at the White House

 

St. Louis Blues visit the White House after Stanley Cup win

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The Pronk Pops Show 1326, September 24, 2019, Story 1: President Trump Address To The United Nations — One of The Greatest Presidential Speeches in U.S. History — Videos — Story 2: Democrats Want To Impeach Trump For Winning In 2016 — If Democrats Impeach Trump The American People Will Elect Trump in 2020 in A Landslide Victory and Republicans Will Have Total Control of Congress — Creepy Sleepy Dopey Joe Biden Done Over Corruption of Hunter Biden Payoff Bribes In Ukraine and Communist China — Call The Impeachment Vote — Doubly Desperate Democrats — Drop Out Biden — Going, Going, Gone! — Videos —

Posted on September 30, 2019. Filed under: 2020 Democrat Candidates, 2020 President Candidates, 2020 Republican Candidates, Afghanistan, Applications, Bank Fraud, Banking System, Blogroll, Breaking News, Bribery, Bribes, British Pound, Budgetary Policy, Business, Canada, Cartoons, China, Climate, Climate Change, Coal, College, Communications, Computers, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Cuba, Culture, Currencies, Defense Spending, Disasters, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Drugs, Economics, Education, Egypt, Empires, Employment, Energy, Environment, Euro, European Union, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Free Trade, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Spending, Hardware, Health, House of Representatives, Illegal Drugs, Impeachment, Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, Joe Biden, Labor Economics, Language, Law, Legal Drugs, Liquid Natural Gas (LNG), Mexico, Monetary Policy, Natural Gas, Netherlands, Nuclear, Nutrition, Oil, Public Relations, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senate, Servers, Social Networking, Software, Tax Policy, Trade Policy, Treason, U.S. Dollar, United States of America, Venezuela, Yemen | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

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Story 1: President Trump Address To The United Nations — One of The Greatest Presidential Speeches in U.S. History — Videos —

WATCH AGAIN: Donald Trump addresses United Nations General Assembly

Watch Highlights From President Donald Trump’s U.N. Speech | NBC News Now

James Risen: I Wrote About the Bidens and Ukraine in 2015. The Right-Wing Media Twisted My Reporting

Watch Highlights From President Donald Trump’s U.N. Speech | NBC News Now

Donald Trump uses UN address to warn social media giants against ‘blacklisting’ conservatives and tells the world to be ‘skeptical’ of anyone who wants control over free speech

  • Utilizing his platform at the United Nations General Assembly, Donald Trump put social media giants on blast 
  • He warned against ‘silencing’ and ‘blacklisting’ political opinions that are unpopular in Silicon Valley – where most social media sites are headquartered
  • The president has often voiced his disdain over social media platforms silencing conservative voices
  • He warned the global audience at UNGA that social media is threatening free speech, even in ‘free nations’
  • Last week, Trump met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in the Oval Office
  • He has also previously met with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey 

Donald Trump put America’s social media giants on notice during a United Nationsaddress on Tuesday that the U.S. government will push back against online tech giants ‘silencing, coercing, canceling or blacklisting’ political opinions that don’t rate high in Silicon Valley.

‘A small number of social media platforms are acquiring immense power over what we can see and over what we are allowed to say,’ Trump told foreign leaders.

He said he is aggressively cracking down on the biggest platforms that play political favorites online, and encouraging other nations to follow suit.

‘A free society cannot allow social media giants to silence the voices of the people,’ he said, ‘and a free people must never, ever be enlisted in the cause of silencing, coercing, canceling or blacklisting their own neighbors.’

Trump warns against social media giants limiting free speech
Donald Trump blasted U.S. social media platforms during his remarks at the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday. 'A free society cannot allow social media giants to silence the voices of the people,' he asserted

Donald Trump blasted U.S. social media platforms during his remarks at the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday. ‘A free society cannot allow social media giants to silence the voices of the people,’ he asserted

He told the room full of foreign leaders and a global audience that even 'free nations' are experiencing challenges to liberty and free speech from social media

He told the room full of foreign leaders and a global audience that even ‘free nations’ are experiencing challenges to liberty and free speech from social media

‘My administration has made clear to social media companies that we will uphold the right of free speech,’ he declared.

The president often complains about anti-conservative bias at Twitter, Facebook and Google.

He met last week with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. A White House official said the topic of ‘bias came up.’ Trump has also sat down for a talk with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

The president on Tuesday raised social media in the context of condemning oppressive nations that control what their population can read, see and hear, and whose technological advances have the potential to limit freedom of speech.

Trump met last week with Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (right) in the Oval Office. A White House official said the topic of 'bias came up' during their meeting

Trump met last week with Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (right) in the Oval Office. A White House official said the topic of ‘bias came up’ during their meeting

‘A permanent political class is openly disdainful, dismissive and defiant of the will of the people,’ he continued. ‘A faceless bureaucracy operates in secret and weakens democratic rule. Media and academic institutions push flat-out assaults on our histories, traditions and values.’

‘Freedom and democracy must be constantly guarded and protected abroad, and from within,’ he said.

‘We must always be skeptical about those who want conformity and control. Even in free nations we see alarming signs and new challenges to liberty.’

Zuckerberg capped off a day of meetings in Washington, D.C. on Friday with a sit-down with Trump.

‘Nice meeting with Mark Zuckerberg of @facebook in the Oval Office today,’ the president wrote on Twitter, adding a picture of him with the Facebook CEO.

 

Story 2: Democrats Want To Impeach Trump For Winning The 2016 — If Democrats Impeach Trump The American People Will Elect Trump in 2020 in A Landslide Victory and Republicans Will Have Total Control of Congress — Creepy Sleepy Dopey Joe Biden Done Over Corruption of Hunter Biden Payoff Bribes In Ukraine and Communist China — Call The Impeachment Vote — Doubly Desperate Democrats — Drop Out Biden — Going, Going, Gone! — Videos

Biden sidesteps questions about son’s foreign work

Jun 20, 2019

Speaker Pelosi Launches Probe To Impeach Trump For First Time | The Beat With Ari Melber | MSNBC

Trump: Joe Biden and His Son Are Corrupt

Nunes: Biden admitted he did the very thing Trump is accused of doing

Biden made Ukraine fire top prosecutor investigating son’s firm – report

Explaining Trump And Giuliani’s Allegations Against Joe Biden And His Son | The 11th Hour | MSNBC

Napolitano: Trump’s admitted contact with Ukraine is a crime

Rudy Giuliani’s Actions Under Scrutiny In Trump’s Call With Ukrainian President | Hardball | MSNBC

BIDEN UKRAINE SCANDAL EXPLAINED: Unethical plan by Joe to help son Hunter profit

President Donald Trump Admits Discussing Joe Biden With Ukrainian Leader | Velshi & Ruhle | MSNBC

The Five’ reacts to Trump and Biden’s whistleblower feud

White House reacts to Congress’ Trump impeachment inquiry

Giuliani: Democrats stepped into more than they realize

Nunes: Biden admitted he did the very thing Trump is accused of doing

Gowdy on whistleblower: Here’s why ‘anonymous sources’ shouldn’t count

Graham challenges whistleblower to appear before Senate Judiciary

Joe Biden is becoming an ‘impossible candidate’: Kennedy

•Sep 3, 2019

WSJ: Trump repeatedly asked Ukraine president to probe Biden’s son

 

Joe Biden, His Son and the Case Against a Ukrainian Oligarch

Hunter Biden at a campaign event in 2008. He sits on the board of one of Ukraine’s largest natural gas companies.
CreditCreditOzier Muhammad/The New York Times

When Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.traveled to Kiev , Ukraine, on Sunday for a series of meetings with the country’s leaders, one of the issues on his agenda was to encourage a more aggressive fight against Ukraine’s rampant corruption and stronger efforts to rein in the power of its oligarchs.

But the credibility of the vice president’s anticorruption message may have been undermined by the association of his son, Hunter Biden, with one of Ukraine’s largest natural gas companies, Burisma Holdings, and with its owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, who was Ukraine’s ecology minister under former President Viktor F. Yanukovych before he was forced into exile.

Hunter Biden, 45, a former Washington lobbyist, joined the Burisma board in April 2014. That month, as part of an investigation into money laundering, British officials froze London bank accounts containing $23 million that allegedly belonged to Mr. Zlochevsky.

Britain’s Serious Fraud Office, an independent government agency, specifically forbade Mr. Zlochevksy, as well as Burisma Holdings, the company’s chief legal officer and another company owned by Mr. Zlochevsky, to have any access to the accounts.

But after Ukrainian prosecutors refused to provide documents needed in the investigation, a British court in January ordered the Serious Fraud Office to unfreeze the assets. The refusal by the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office to cooperate was the target of a stinging attack by the American ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, who called out Burisma’s owner by name in a speech in September.

“In the case of former Ecology Minister Mykola Zlochevsky, the U.K. authorities had seized $23 million in illicit assets that belonged to the Ukrainian people,” Mr. Pyatt said. Officials at the prosecutor general’s office, he added, were asked by the United Kingdom “to send documents supporting the seizure. Instead they sent letters to Zlochevsky’s attorneys attesting that there was no case against him. As a result, the money was freed by the U.K. court, and shortly thereafter the money was moved to Cyprus.”

Mr. Pyatt went on to call for an investigation into “the misconduct” of the prosecutors who wrote the letters. In his speech, the ambassador did not mention Hunter Biden’s connection to Burisma.

But Edward C. Chow, who follows Ukrainian policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the involvement of the vice president’s son with Mr. Zlochevsky’s firm undermined the Obama administration’s anticorruption message in Ukraine.

“Now you look at the Hunter Biden situation, and on the one hand you can credit the father for sending the anticorruption message,” Mr. Chow said. “But I think unfortunately it sends the message that a lot of foreign countries want to believe about America, that we are hypocritical about these issues.”

Speaking during a visit to Ukraine, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. urged the country to weed corruption out of its system.CreditCreditMikhail Palinchak/Ukrainian Presidential Press Service

“Hunter Biden is a private citizen and a lawyer,” she said. “The vice president does not endorse any particular company and has no involvement with this company. The vice president has pushed aggressively for years, both publicly with groups like the U.S.-Ukraine Business Forum and privately in meetings with Ukrainian leaders, for Ukraine to make every effort to investigate and prosecute corruption in accordance with the rule of law. It will once again be a key focus during his trip this week.”

Ryan F. Toohey, a Burisma spokesman, said that Hunter Biden would not comment for this article.

It is not known how Mr. Biden came to the attention of the company. Announcing his appointment to the board, Alan Apter, a former Morgan Stanley investment banker who is chairman of Burisma, said, “The company’s strategy is aimed at the strongest concentration of professional staff and the introduction of best corporate practices, and we’re delighted that Mr. Biden is joining us to help us achieve these goals.”

Joining the board at the same time was one of Mr. Biden’s American business partners, Devon Archer. Both are involved with Rosemont Seneca Partners, an American investment firm with offices in Washington.

Mr. Biden is the younger of the vice president’s two sons. His brother, Beau, died of brain cancer in May. In the past, Hunter Biden attracted an unusual level of scrutiny and even controversy. In 2014, he was discharged from the Navy Reserve after testing positive for cocaine use. He received a commission as an ensign in 2013, and he served as a public affairs officer.

Before his father was vice president, Mr. Biden also briefly served as president of a hedge fund group, Paradigm Companies, in which he was involved with one of his uncles, James Biden, the vice president’s brother. That deal went sour amid lawsuits in 2007 and 2008 involving the Bidens and an erstwhile business partner. Mr. Biden, a graduate of Georgetown University and Yale Law School, also worked as a lobbyist before his father became vice president.

Burisma does not disclose the compensation of its board members because it is a privately held company, Mr. Toohey said Monday, but he added that the amount was “not out of the ordinary” for similar corporate board positions.

Asked about the British investigation, which is continuing, Mr. Toohey said, “Not only was the case dismissed and the company vindicated by the outcome, but it speaks volumes that all his legal costs were recouped.”

In response to Mr. Pyatt’s criticism of the Ukrainian handling of Mr. Zlochevsky’s case, Mr. Toohey said that “strong corporate governance and transparency are priorities shared both by the United States and the leadership of Burisma. Burisma is working to bring the energy sector into the modern era, which is critical for a free and strong Ukraine.”

Vice President Biden has played a leading role in American policy toward Ukraine as Washington seeks to counter Russian intervention in Eastern Ukraine. This week’s visit was his fifth trip to Ukraine as vice president.

Ms. Bedingfield said Hunter Biden had never traveled to Ukraine with his father. She also said that Ukrainian officials had never mentioned Hunter Biden’s role with Burisma to the vice president during any of his visits.

“I’ve got to believe that somebody in the vice president’s office has done some due diligence on this,” said Steven Pifer, who was the American ambassador to Ukraine from 1998 to 2000. “I should say that I hope that has happened. I would hope that they have done some kind of check, because I think the vice president has done a very good job of sending the anticorruption message in Ukraine, and you would hate to see something like this undercut that message.”

 

 

Let’s get real: Democrats were first to enlist Ukraine in US elections

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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

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg meets with President Trump and other lawmakers

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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

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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

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Steven Crowder Exposes Vox’s Dirty Tactics

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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.

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Dan Crenshaw Interrogates Social Media Execs on Silencing Conservatives

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Sen. Ted Cruz grills Mark Zuckerberg on political bias

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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

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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 1321, September 17, 2019, Story 1: United States Concludes The Attack on Saudi Arabia’s Oil Refinery and Oil Fields Was By Iranian Drones and Missiles (Ya Ali land-attack missiles) Fired From Iranian Base Near Southern Iraq Ruling Out Yemen As Launch Site– Iran Denies Attack — Cold War To Become Hot War? — Videos –Story 2: U.S. Gasoline Prices Rising — Videos — Story 3: New York States Band Flavored E-Cigarettes Vaping Products — Videos —

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Story 1: United States Concludes The Attack on Saudi Arabia’s Oil Refinery and Oil Fields Was By Iranian Drones and Missiles (Ya Ali land-attack missiles) Fired From Iranian Base Near Southern Iraq Ruling Out Yemen As Launch Site– Iran Denies Attack — Cold War To Become Hot War? — Videos —

See the source image

See the source image

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

See the source image

Iran is trying to pressure US into removing sanctions: Gen. Keane

Saudi Oil Field Attack Originated From Iran, Used Cruise Missiles And Drones | NBC Nightly News

Saudi Arabia to Reportedly Resume 70% of Lost Oil Output

Trump says it’s “looking like” Iran responsible for drone attack | Nine News Australia

Trump Says Tehran Likely Behind Aramco Attack

Would be difficult for Saudi Aramco to list now after oil attack, analyst says | Squawk Box Europe

Saudi Aramco CEO: Oil attack was huge, but we managed to restore capacity

Attack on Saudi Arabia ‘caught us all by surprise’: Strategist | Street Signs Asia

USA: Lethal attack on Iran ‘proportionate’ after Saudi Arabia oil strike – Trump

Sankey: A potential response by Saudi Arabia against Iran would be ‘horrific’ for oil prices

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

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

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

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 Arabia Implicates Iran in Oil Attacks

Military stops short of explicitly accusing Tehran of carrying out strikes

 

Saudi military spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki in Riyadh on Wednesday displayed what he describes as an Iranian cruise missile and drones used in an attack on the kingdom’s oil industry. PHOTO: AMR NABIL/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Saudi Arabia said it holds Iran responsible for attacks that debilitated Saudi oil facilities, directly implicating Tehran for the first time but stopping short of explicitly accusing it of conducting the strikes.

Saudi officials have concluded that Iran or one of its proxies launched a complex assault involving drones and cruise missiles from a location north of Saudi Arabia, Col. Turki al-Maliki, spokesman for the Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen, told reporters in Riyadh on Wednesday.

He said Saudi Arabia made its judgment based on the direction of the cruise missiles when they struck the facilities and the maximum distance of 435 miles they could travel. The weapons found at the two attack sites also could be traced back to Iran, he said.

Three Reasons the U.S. Could Be Less Likely to Defend Saudi Arabia

Three Reasons the U.S. Could Be Less Likely to Defend Saudi Arabia
Fears of a military conflict between the U.S. and Iran are high following an attack on a critical Saudi oil facility Saturday. WSJ’s Gerald F. Seib highlights three reasons the U.S. is less likely than it once was to defend Saudi Arabia if that happens. Photo: Associated Press

Iran has denied it carried out the attacks.

At the press briefing, Col. Maliki displayed debris from the attacks, including what the Ministry of Defense described as Iranian drones and cruise missiles. He said Saudi Arabia was still working to determine the launch site and didn’t explicitly say the attacks had been mounted by Iran or from Iranian territory.

The ministry on Wednesday also displayed debris from what it said was an earlier attack on an oil facility in Afif in May.

Col. Maliki said the ministry knew the range of the cruise missiles, which he said were Iranian-made Ya Ali land-attack missiles, based on its military assessments and the range of previous attacks.

Cruise missiles have vastly different ranges, with some traveling a couple hundred miles while the U.S.-made Tomahawk missile has a range of more than 1,000 miles. Iran’s Tasnim News Agency, affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, in 2015 quoted then-Deputy Defense Minister Mohammad Eslami as saying the Ya Ali outstripped other Iranian cruise missiles with a range of 435 miles.

Saudi Arabia has largely faced ballistic-missile attacks. Col. Maliki said about 230 ballistic missiles had been fired on the kingdom in recent years, demonstrating the strength of Saudi aerial-defense systems.

The Saudi claims escalate tensions in the region, although Col. Maliki didn’t say whether or how the kingdom would respond against Iran.

Firing Range

Saudi Arabia estimates the range of the missiles that targeted its oil facilities is 435 miles. The range would exclude Yemen, where Iran says Houthi rebels conducted the strikes, as a launch point.

Saudi Arabian targets attacked Saturday

SYRIA

Tehran

435-MILE RANGE

FROM TARGETS

IRAN

IRAQ

SAUDI

ARABIA

Abqaiq facility

Persian

Gulf

Riyadh

U.A.E.

Khurais oil field

Red

Sea

OMAN

YEMEN

Sana’a

300 miles

300 km

Source: Saudi Ministry of Defense

The display of debris instead indicated that Saudi Arabia is trying to build a credible case against Iran that it was behind the attacks, and at the same time, leave room for diplomacy. It called on the international community to hold Iran responsible for its aggressive posture in the region.

“This attack was not against Aramco or Saudi Arabia,” he said. “It was an assault on the international community.”

President Trump said on Twitter on Wednesday that he has ordered Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to “substantially increase” sanctions on Iran in the wake of the attacks on Saudi oil facilities.

While Mr. Trump didn’t directly link Iran to Saturday’s attacks in his tweet, he said this week that it was “certainly looking” like Iran was responsible.

Later, in comments to reporters in California, Mr. Trump said further details on sanctions would be released in the next 48 hours and he is looking at various other options in responding to the strike.

“There’s the ultimate option and there are options a lot less than that,” he said.

U.S. officials say they are waiting for the results of an investigation by the Saudi government before proceeding.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was more explicit than Mr. Trump in blaming Iran. Landing in Jeddah ahead of a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the U.S. diplomat said Iran had conducted the attack, not its Yemeni proxy, known as the Houthis.

“The intelligence community has high confidence that…these were not weapons that would have been in the possession of the Houthis,” Mr. Pompeo said. Additionally, the flight patterns required to have inflicted the level of damage to the Saudi facilities rule out Yemen as a point of origin, he added.

Mr. Pompeo called the attack an act of war. “We’re blessed that there were no Americans killed in this attack, but any time you have an act of war of this nature, there’s always risk that that could happen.”

Tehran on Wednesday continued to say Iran-aligned Houthi rebels in Yemen were behind the strikes on the Aramco facilities. President Hassan Rouhani after a cabinet meeting in Tehran told state media that the U.S. was falsely accusing Iran of the attack to pressure it. The attack was a warning from the Houthis to Saudi Arabia, which has been waging a bloody war against the rebels for nearly five years, he said.

Addressing Saudi Arabia, Mr. Rouhani added: “Learn lessons from this warning and consider that there could be a war in the region.”

Saturday’s twin attacks on the Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities knocked out 5.7 million barrels a day of production at Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known as Aramco, sending global oil prices higher.

On Tuesday, Saudi officials said they would use reserves to return production to normal levels within weeks and had restored 50% of lost output.

The price of Brent crude—the global benchmark—jumped 15% to $69.02 a barrel on Monday, its largest one-day climb since 1988. It was trading at $64.44 a barrel on Wednesday.

Some Saudi officials were skeptical of the defense ministry’s claims of aerial robustness. The strikes demonstrated a vulnerability in Saudi Arabia’s overstretched air systems, which have been taxed by months of attacks throughout the country, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to speak to the media.

The kingdom’s air defenses never had a chance to activate because neither Saudi nor American systems detected the launch of the airstrike on Saturday morning, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

The Saudi government recently moved the position of some air-defense systems, Saudi officials said, in order to cope with recent strikes that have hit airports, oil installations, and a desalination plant. Houthi rebels claimed the bombings.

The failure of Saudi and American air defenses to stop Saturday’s attack has raised alarms about the security of facilities that are a key component of the world’s oil supply. The combination of cruise missiles and drones represents a complex attack that would have challenged even the most sophisticated air-defense systems in the world, experts said.

“It looks like the attack was very carefully and thoroughly planned and that great care was taken to construct the attack plan in such a way to evade the air defenses that the Saudis are known to have,” said Bradley Boyer, a defense and energy analyst and retired U.S. Navy intelligence officer.

Saudi Arabia’s air defenses include the American Patriot and Hawk missile systems, which are better suited to shoot down mid- and long-range ballistic missiles, rather than the lighter and lower-flying cruise missiles and drones used in Saturday’s attack. The country also possesses short-range defense systems.

Saudi Arabia has a mixed record in defending itself from missile attacks. In one well-documented case, the country activated its Patriot missile defenses during an attack on the Riyadh airport in November 2017. The government said it shot down the incoming missile. Video footage and other evidence showed the defenses fell short of their targets.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/saudi-arabia-holds-iran-responsible-for-oil-attacks-11568820602

Oil storage tanks
The weekend drone attack in Buqyaq on one of the world’s largest crude oil processing plant dramatically cut into global oil supplies. | Amr Nabil/AP Photo

DEFENSE

Attack on Saudi oil sites raises risks amid U.S.-Iran tension

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A weekend drone attack on Saudi Arabia that cut into global energy supplies and halved the kingdom’s oil production threatened Sunday to fuel a regional crisis, as the U.S. released new evidence to back up its allegation that Iran was responsible for the assault amid heightened tensions over Tehran’s collapsing nuclear deal.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blamed Iran for the attack Saturday on key Saudi oil infrastructure. On Sunday, senior U.S. officials again said the American government believes there is no doubt Iran was responsible, saying satellite imagery and other intelligence, show the strike was inconsistent with one launched from Yemen, where Iranian-backed Houthi rebels had claimed responsibility.

Iran, meanwhile, called the U.S. claims “maximum lies,” while a commander in its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard reiterated its forces could strike U.S. military bases across the Mideast with their arsenal of ballistic missiles.

The U.S. government produced satellite photos showing what officials said were at least 19 points of impact at two Saudi energy facilities, including damage at the heart of the kingdom’s crucial oil processing plant at Abqaiq. Officials said the photos show impacts consistent with the attack coming from the direction of Iran or Iraq, rather than from Yemen to the south.

Iraq denied Sunday that its territory was used for an attack on the Kingdom and U.S. officials said a strike from there would be a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty.

The U.S. officials said additional devices, which apparently didn’t reach their targets, were recovered northwest of the facilities and are being jointly analyzed by Saudi and American intelligence. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, did not address whether the drone could have been fired from Yemen, then taken a round-about path, but did not explicitly rule it out.

The attacks and recriminations are increasing already heightened fears of an escalation in the region, after a prominent U.S. senator suggested striking Iranian oil refineries in response to the assault, and Iran warned of the potential of more violence.

“Because of the tension and sensitive situation, our region is like a powder keg,” said Iranian Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh. “When these contacts come too close, when forces come into contact with one another, it is possible a conflict happens because of a misunderstanding.

Actions on any side could break into the open a twilight war that’s been raging just below the surface of the wider Persian Gulf in recent months. Already, there have been mysterious attacks on oil tankers that America blames on Tehran, at least one suspected Israeli strike on Shiite forces in Iraq, and Iran shooting down a U.S. military surveillance drone.

The attack Saturday on Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq plant and its Khurais oil field led to the interruption of an estimated 5.7 million barrels of the kingdom’s crude oil production per day, equivalent to more than 5% of the world’s daily supply. It remains unclear how King Salman and his assertive son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, will respond to an attack targeting the heart of the Saudi oil industry.

Crude oil futures shot up 9.5% to $60 as trading opened Sunday evening in New York, a dramatic increase.

Saudi Arabia has promised to fill in the cut in production with its reserves, but has not said how long it will take to repair the damage. The Wall Street Journal cited Saudi officials as saying a third of output would be restored on Monday, but a return to full production may take weeks.

In Washington, President Donald Trump said Sunday evening that he had approved the release of U.S. strategic petroleum reserves “if needed” to stabilize energy markets. The president said the final amount of the release, if any, would be “sufficient to keep the markets well-supplied.” The announcement followed a National Security Council meeting at the White House that included Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

Images from the European Commission’s Sentinel-2 satellite examined by the AP showed black char marks at the heart of the Abqaiq plant on Sunday, marks not seen over the prior month. Identical marks are visible on the U.S. imagery. The Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies in August identified the area with the char marks as the plant’s stabilization area. The center said the area includes “storage tanks and processing and compressor trains — which greatly increases the likelihood of a strike successfully disrupting or destroying its operations.”

The state-run oil giant Saudi Aramco, which the kingdom hopes to offer a sliver of in a public stock offering, did not respond to a request for comment.

Pompeo directly blamed Iran for the Saudi attack on Twitter late Saturday, and officials worked to provide evidence for his claim the following day.

“Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply,” Pompeo wrote. “There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”

The U.S., Western nations, their Gulf Arab allies and U.N. experts say Iran supplies the Houthis with weapons and drones — a charge that Tehran denies.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi on Sunday dismissed Pompeo’s remarks as “blind and futile comments.”

“The Americans adopted the ‘maximum pressure’ policy against Iran, which, due to its failure, is leaning toward ‘maximum lies,’” Mousavi said in a statement.

Separately, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s office issued a statement on Sunday denying the drone attack came from there. Oil-rich Kuwait also said it would increase security around the country’s “vital sites” over the attacks.

Houthi leader Muhammad al-Bukhaiti reiterated his group’s claim of responsibility, telling The Associated Press on Sunday it exploited “vulnerabilities” in Saudi air defenses to strike the targets. He did not elaborate.

Iran, meanwhile, kept up its own threats.

Hajizadeh, the brigadier general who leads the country’s aerospace program, said in an interview published across Iranian media Sunday that Revolutionary Guard forces were ready for a counterattack if America responded, naming the Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar and Al-Dhafra Air Base near Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates as immediate targets, as well as U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea.

“Wherever they are, it only takes one spark and we hit their vessels, their air bases, their troops,” he said in a video published online with English subtitles.

It wasn’t just Iran making threats. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican close to Trump, suggested retaliatory strikes targeting Iran. “Iran will not stop their misbehavior until the consequences become more real, like attacking their refineries, which will break the regime’s back,” Graham wrote on Twitter.

All this comes before the United Nations General Assembly in a little over a week. There’s been speculation of a potential meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the summit’s sidelines, possibly in exchange for the lifting of some economic sanctions the American leader imposed on Tehran after unilaterally withdrawing from the nuclear accord over a year ago.

If Iran had a hand in Saturday’s attack, it could be to bolster their position ahead of any talks, analysts say.

“The main point for Iran, in my opinion, is not necessarily to derail a meeting between Trump and Rouhani but to increase its leverage ahead of it,” said Michael Horowitz, the head of intelligence at the Bahrain-based risk management firm Le Beck International. “By carrying out such a major attack, Iran wants to send the message that the only way to decrease tensions is to comply with its demands regarding sanctions relief.”

However, he warned there could be a danger of Iran “overplaying” its hand.

“There will be no political benefit for Trump in a meeting with Rouhani if this meeting sends the message that the U.S. simply surrendered to Iranian demands,” he said.

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/09/15/saudi-oil-attack-iran-1497449

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Story 3: Congress Subpoenaed Corey Lewandowski in Impeachment Probe — No Collusion With Russia — Same Conclusion as Mueller Report — Videos 

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Democrats threaten Donald Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski with CONTEMPT as he mocks and stonewalls them at first House impeachment hearing – before attorney confronts him with his own words and he admits he is ‘not honest with the media’

  • Corey Lewandowski stonewalled Democrats who were questioning him about possible obstruction of justice charges against Donald Trump 
  • I think that this fake Russia collusion narrative is the greatest crime committed against the American people in our generation if not ever,’ he said  
  • Lewandowski took a combative and aggressive stance from the start of his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee 
  • Trump praised Lewandowski’s opening statement, calling it ‘beautiful’ 
  • Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler charged the president with obstructing House Democrats’ investigation into his administration
  • ‘President Trump now appears to be using the powers of his office to obstruct all investigations by the only branch of the federal government currently capable of holding him accountable,’ Nadler wrote to the White House counsel   
  • White House counsel told committee Lewandowski would not to discuss conversations he had with Trump about government matters
  • White House forbid former aides Rob Porter and Rick Dearborn from testifying 
  • Lewandowski is mulling a New Hampshire Senate bid 
  • Committee counsel Barry Berke tore into his past statements during a late-hearing grilling 

Tuesday’s House hearing with Corey Lewandowksi culminated with angry threats by the Democratic majority to hold him in contempt – and damaging admissions by the former Donald Trump campaign manager that he has been untruthful in national TV interviews.

The fireworks came after a full day of testimony, after House Democrats armed with new rules they pushed through allowed an outside consultant to grill Trump’s combative former campaign head for 30 consecutive minutes.

Lewandowski was for the first time confronted with his past statements on Fox and MSNBC interviews, as well as statements he made in his own book about his interactions with the president.

‘I have no obligation to be candid with the media whatsoever,’ Lewandowski said at one point.

I’m a truth teller every time I stand before Congress,’ he said under questioning by majority counsel Barry Berke, saying he was truthful ‘every time I raised my right hand to God.’

Scroll down for video 

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was aggressive and combative in his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was aggressive and combative in his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee

Lewandowski was confronted with a clip of himself saying on MSNBC he didn’t ever remember the president ‘ever asking me to get involved with [former attorney general] Jeff Sessions or the Department of Justice in any way shape, or form, ever.’

It was a key moment of alleged obstruction from the Mueller report – where Trump dictated to Lewandowski, a private citizen, a statement he wanted the former attorney general to give while curtailing the special counsel’s investigation.

‘That was not true, was it?’ the Harvard law grad and white collar defense attorney Berke asked him.

Outside lawyer Barry Berke tore into Lewandowski on behalf of the majority

Outside lawyer Barry Berke tore into Lewandowski on behalf of the majority

The Trump loyalist was forced to defend public statements about the special counsel and his relationship with the president

The Trump loyalist was forced to defend public statements about the special counsel and his relationship with the president

‘I have no obligation to be honest with the media because they are just as dishonest as everybody else,’ Lewandowski responded.

Judiciary Chairman Jerold Nadler, who during the hearing shut down fellow Democrats efforts to bring maximum pressure on the witness, came down on the witness at the end of the hearing.

‘Mr. Lewandowski, your behavior in this hearing room has been completely unacceptable. It is part of a pattern of a White House desperate for the American people not to hear the truth,’ the New York Democrat fumed.

‘I’ve been asked several times today whether the committee will hold you in contempt. It is certainly under consideration,’ he warned.

Republicans howled in protest when the Democrats brought in their ringer to conduct intensive questioning at the end of the hearing. Previously, individual members tried to get the former New Hampshire police officer to buckle during five-minute increments of questioning.

In another tense moment with Berke, the lawyer asked him: ‘On national television did you lie about your relationship with the special counsel and whether they sought your interview?’

‘I don’t know,’ he replied.

Lewandowski tweeted out a message about the launch of his campaign for senator from New Hampshire during the hearing, irking one Democratic lawmaker who mentioned it.

He got accolades from the president for his early loyal performance, but cracks soon developed in his testimony as the day wore on.

Lewandowski has stonewalled Democrats who were questioning him about possible obstruction of justice charges against Donald Trump as the president praised his former campaign manager’s tough stance.

Lewandowski took a combative and aggressive stance from the start of his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, which he could also use as a launch pad for a Senate bid.

The former Trump campaign manager offered a strong defense of the president, claiming he was a victim of ‘haters’ and resisted Democrats’ efforts to ask him about his conversations with the president.

The hearing is part of the Democrats’ strategy to prove there is enough evidence to impeach President Trump and they’ve issued a round of subpoena to witnesses from special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to help make their case to the American people.

Corey Lewandowski testifies before the House Judiciary Committee

Lewandowski’s more than four hours before the panel had its share of made-for-TV moments as he resisted their efforts to implicate Trump and snapped back at many of their questions.

In one of those moments, he mocked Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell, who suggested Lewandowski was ‘ashamed’ to read his own words from Mueller’s report that were projected on a screen in the room.

‘Why don’t you want to read it Mr. Lewandowski?’ the congressman for California asked.

‘I think you should afford me the same privilege you gave Mr. Mueller,’ he responded, referring to Mueller’s June testimony before the committee, where he did not have to read from his report.

‘Are you ashamed of the words you wrote down,’ Swalwell asked.

Lewandowski then called him ‘President Swalwell,’ in his response, alluding to the congressman’s failed presidential bid.

‘President Swalwell – I’m very happy with what I’ve written but you’re welcome to read it if you like,’ he said.

And when Swalwell pressed him if he was ashamed of what he wrote, Lewandowski pushed back: ‘I’m not ashamed of anything in my life. Are you?’

Swalwell also asked about Lewandowski’s testimony to Mueller, where he stated he kept notes from his conversations with President Trump in a safe.

‘It’s a big safe congressman. There’s a lot of guns in there,’ Lewandowski said.

But Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal got in a shot at her own at Lewandowski during her questioning period.

‘You are not yet in the Senate. You are a witness before the Judiciary Committee. Please act like it,’ she told him, referring to speculation he may run for New Hampshire’s Senate seat next year.

The lawmaker from Washington state appeared to rattle Lewandowski when she asked him if he lied to Mueller’s investigators or to the president.

‘Not to the best of my recollection, no,’ he told her.

She then asked him about a tweet from Trump in April, after the Mueller report came out, when the president wrote: ‘Statements are made about me by certain people in the Crazy Mueller Report, in itself written by 18 Angry Democrat Trump Haters, which are fabricated & totally untrue.’

‘So the president is wrong that the report is fabricated and totally untrue?,’ Jayapal asked Lewandowski.

‘That’s a question for the president,’ he replied.

‘Did you lie to the president and is the president correct that everything in the report is fabricated?,’ she asked.

‘I won’t comment on private conversations but I don’t appreciate the insinuation that I lied about anything. And I’ve answered it multiple times. I’ve answered your question multiple times,’ Lewandowski replied.

Rep. Pramila Jayapa appeared to rattle Corey Lewandowski with her questions

Rep. Pramila Jayapa appeared to rattle Corey Lewandowski with her questions

Corey Lewandowski confers with his personal attorney Peter Chavkin during his testimony

Corey Lewandowski confers with his personal attorney Peter Chavkin during his testimony

Lewandowski mocked Rep. Eric Swalwell's failed presidential bid

Lewandowski mocked Rep. Eric Swalwell’s failed presidential bid

The former Trump campaign manager also made some head-scratching comments in his testimony, claiming he never read Mueller’s report and arguing the ‘fake Russian collusion narrative’ is the ‘greatest crime committed’ against the American people.

‘I think that this fake Russia collusion narrative is the greatest crime committed against the American people in our generation if not ever,’ he said.

Lewandowski also had a contentious back-and-forth with Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee.

‘Don’t ask me a question I won’t answer,’ he told her when she pressed him on his conversations with the president.

‘This is House Judiciary – not a house party,’ she shot back.

And when Jackson Lee pressed him to answer a question about a section of Mueller’s report, which was projected on a screen in the hearing room, Lewandowski snapped back: ‘ You’re welcome to read it, congresswoman.’

‘You’re welcome to be stalling, and I’m not going to stall. Either answer the question yes or no,’ Jackson Lee responded.

I will not disclose any conversation I’ve had with the president,’ Lewandowski said. ‘The White House has directed me that I not disclose the substance of any conversation with the president.’

With Jackson Lee’s five minutes of question time expired, Chairman Jerry Nadler said Lewandowski could answer her last question.

‘I don’t believe there was a question, congressman,’ Lewandowski responded. ‘Just a rant.’

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7474059/Corey-Lewandowski-House-Judiciary-Committees-formal-impeachment-witness.html

 

Story 4: New York States Band Flavored E-Cigarettes Vaping Products — Juuling — Videos

See the source image

See the source image

 

See the source image

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I got a New VAPE to Blow BIGGER Clouds…

Learning how to JUUL from my little brother!

[yourUVW=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUCM6P-AnHY]

Refilling Juul Pods: The right way.

How Juul Became A $15 Billion Giant

Is ‘Juuling’ Safe? What’s Really Inside The Popular E-Cigarette | TODAY

Juul CEO to non-smokers: “Don’t vape. Don’t use Juul.”

Juul Labs announces ID verification system to curb underage e-cigarette use

Doctor on vaping: “Nobody is saying that this has value or benefit” for youths

New York becomes the first state to ban the sale of flavored vaping products as panel approves Governor Cuomo’s emergency prohibition

  • Public Health and Health Planning Council approved the ban on Tuesday
  • Sale of all flavored vaping products is banned immediately under the rule
  • Vape shop owners say they will go under and smokers will return to cigarettes
  • Advocates of ban say the fruity flavors are getting kids hooked on vaping
  • CDC reports 380 cases of illness and seven deaths linked to vaping cannabis

New York became the first state to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes Tuesday, a move that comes as federal health officials investigate a mysterious surge of severe breathing illnesses linked to vaping.

The vote by the state Public Health and Health Planning Council means the prohibition, which covers flavored e-cigarettes and other vaping products except for menthol and tobacco flavors, goes into effect immediately. Retailers will have two weeks to remove merchandise from store shelves.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, had proposed the emergency ban Sunday , citing surging use among young people.

According to data from the state health department, nearly 40% of high school seniors and 27% of high school students overall in the state use e-cigarettes. Use among high-school students went from 10.5% in 2014 to 27.4% in 2018.

Andy Ramkumar, who works at Gotham Vape in Queens, vapes at the store on Tuesday as a new ban on flavored vaping products goes into effect

Andy Ramkumar, who works at Gotham Vape in Queens, vapes at the store on Tuesday as a new ban on flavored vaping products goes into effect

Vaping products, including flavored vape liquids and pods, are displayed at Gotham Vape

Vaping products, including flavored vape liquids and pods, are displayed at Gotham Vape

Cuomo pointed to vaping flavors like bubblegum and cotton candy that he said seemed aimed at young people.

‘We don’t really know the health consequences of these devices,’ he said on public radio Monday.

Vape shop owners say they’re considering a legal challenge to the new regulation, which they say should have gone before lawmakers for hearings, debate and a vote. Several spoke at the meeting to urge council members to reject the ban.

Mike Kruger owns two vape shops in the Albany region and said the ban could force hundreds of businesses like his to close. He said smokers looking to quit will have fewer options under the ban, potentially leading to an increase in the use of traditional tobacco products. As for the breathing illnesses, Kruger said he believes they are the result of people buying black market vape liquid, not the items he sells.

‘We are bypassing the legislative process,’ he said of the ban. Kruger added that many adults seek out the flavored versions. He himself prefers blue raspberry. ‘Vaping has been around for 12 years. And now this.’

Keith Mautner, who owns a vape store in Queens and uses the products himself, estimates that flavored e-cigarettes make up 95% percent of his business. He said state leaders should have cracked down on manufacturers if they were concerned about the products being used by teens.

‘That’s the problem, the manufacturers. It’s not us,’ he said.

Vaping, which many Americans have taken up as an alternative to smoking, has come under increased federal scrutiny following a rash of deaths related to vaping cannabis. Seen above are flavored vaping products in Queens that are now forbidden under the rule

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, had proposed the emergency ban Sunday , citing surging use among young people

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, had proposed the emergency ban Sunday , citing surging use among young people

The exemption for menthol was criticized by some health groups, who worried young people would switch to that variety. It includes all types of flavored vaping products, including disposable and refillable devices.

Juul Labs, Inc., the company with the biggest footprint in the industry, has said it agrees with the need for action in the flavored e-cigarette sector and will comply with any final state and federal regulations.

Nationwide, health officials are investigating hundreds of cases of serious breathing illnesses in people who use e-cigarettes and other vaping devices. They have identified 380 confirmed and probable cases in 36 states and one territory, including six deaths. President Donald Trump has proposed a federal ban on flavored e-cigarettes and vaping products.

New York becomes the first state to enact the ban. Michigan approved a ban that includes menthol, but not tobacco flavor, but rules for enactment have not yet been put into place. Other states are also considering bans.

The statewide smoking age is going up to 21, after Cuomo signed legislation earlier this year. He also recently signed a mandate that requires state anti-tobacco campaigns to also include vaping.

The emergency regulation enacted Tuesday will expire in 90 days unless it’s renewed. Cuomo has proposed legislation that would put the ban in state law, eliminating the need to renew the ban.

The FDA has been able to ban vaping flavors since 2016 but has yet to take the step.

The global market is estimated to have a value of as much as $11 billion.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7475005/Panel-approves-ban-sale-flavored-e-cigs-New-York.html

 

What Is Juuling? Everything To Know About The Teen Vaping Trend

It’s all the rage…

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared that teen vaping (and Juuling) had reached “epidemic proportions.” A year later? It doesn’t seem as if the obsession among teens has slowed down.

Case in point: This month, eight Wisconsin teenagers were taken to the hospital with extreme coughs, shortness of breath, and fatigue, per CBS News. Doctors suspected that vaping was the cause of these teenagers’ respiratory problems, some of whom were unable to breathe on their own when they were hospitalized.

While it’s unclear what the kids were inhaling that may have caused their lung and breathing issues, some of the teens said that they may have been vaping nicotine and THC (the psychoactive compound in marijuana), as Women’s Health reported previously.

But the agency isn’t slowing down when it comes to cracking down on retailers to prevent kids from wanting to vape and getting their hands on Juuls and other vape products. And we’ll get to that.

But first: Why are young adults so into Juuls, and vaping in general? And just how bad is it really for teens’ health? Here, a primer on the controversy.

What is Juuling exactly?

First off, it’s important to note that vaping and Juuling are the same thing. Juuls are a type of vaporizer or e-cigarette, designed so discreetly that most people don’t even recognize them as an e-cig. Juul devices (and other vaporizers) work by heating up a cartridge that contains oils and make a vapor that can be inhaled.

According to the company’s website, they were designed to help cigarette smokers transition off of smoking. “We envision a world where fewer people use cigarettes, and where people who smoke cigarettes have the tools to reduce or eliminate their consumption entirely, should they so desire,” the website says. It also says in its marketing and social media code that Juul products are “not appropriate or intended for youth.”

However, the vaporizers are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, and they can be charged when plugged into a laptop’s USB slot—making it easy for students to pass them off as flash drives in class.

Why is Juuling so popular?

Between those two design elements, and the fact that the Juul pods come in flavors like crème brulee, cool cucumber, and mango, these e-cigs have become insanely popular with kids. But they’re also popular among adults, given that they were originally designed to help smokers quit, as mentioned.

Just how widespread is the Juul fad, you’re wondering? The Juul vaping device was invented by two Stanford grads in 2007, and has since become the best-selling e-cigarette on the market, capturing 32 percent of the market share, according to Nielsen data. And according to not-yet published data from the FDA, there was a 75 percent increase in overall e-cigarette use (vaping and juuling) among high schoolers in 2018 compared to 2017, per the Washington Post.

However, one Boston doctor told WFXT that teenagers are still buying Juuls online by lying about their age and using a prepaid debit card.

Why is vaping (or Juuling) bad?

Many people use e-cigarettes, like Juuls, because they aren’t made with tar and all the cancer-causing chemicals you’ll find in a tobacco cigarette. Still, a 2018 study published in the journal Pediatrics found that teenagers who smoked e-cigarettes had higher levels of cancer-causing chemicals in their bodies than non-smokers.

Although they’re marketed as safer than regular cigarettes, vapes are certainly not risk-free. “This is not a safe alternative,” says Michael Blaiss, MD, the executive medical director of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “Is it safer than a tobacco cigarette? Yes. The problem is that nicotine itself can have major effects.”

“Think of it this way: In comparing e-cigarettes to traditional cigarettes, we are comparing e-cigarettes to the deadliest consumer product on the market,” says Christy Sadreameli, MD, a pediatric pulmonologist at Johns Hopkins and spokesperson for the American Lung Association.

Is Juuling more dangerous for kids than for adults?

Vaping can be particularly harmful for children and teenagers. The human lung develops rapidly within a child’s first two years, Dr. Sadreameli says, but it continues to grow until a child is 15 years old, on average.

Exposure to e-cigarette vapor during periods of lung growth and development may be more harmful to the lungs compared to when they’re fully developed, she says. “Teens who are using e-cigarettes themselves may be getting exposed to very high doses of these products,” she says. “We know that e-cigarettes contain extremely dangerous compounds, such as formaldehyde, heavy metals, acrolein (which causes irreversible lung damage), and sometimes harmful substances such as menthol and diacetyl (which can cause a dangerous lung disease called ‘popcorn lung’).”

https://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/a18377132/juuling/

Juuling: The Addictive New Vaping Trend Teens Are Hiding

Here’s what you need to know about Juul, the e-cigarette brand that contains double the nicotine and is vaped from a device that looks like a USB drive.

Forty years ago, nearly 29 percent of high school seniors reported smoking cigarettes daily, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. By 2018, less than 1 in 25 high schoolers smokes daily.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source reports a similar decline, with 4.3 percent fewer middle schoolers and 15.8 percent fewer high schoolers admitting to smoking cigarettes between 2011 and 2018.However, as cigarette smoking seems to be on the decline, another method of nicotine use has managed to hook today’s youth.

The same CDC report that discussed the decline of cigarette use revealed an increase in vaping.

In 2018, 4.9 percent of middle schoolers reported using electronic cigarettes, and 20.8 percent of high schoolers reported the same.

 

What parents need to know about Juuling, the vaping device in disguise

When it comes to tobacco use, cigarettes are considered a combusted or burned product. The cigarette has to be lit, the tobacco burned, and the smoke inhaled.

Vaping, on the other hand, involves no combustion or burning. Instead, vaping products release an aerosol that is inhaled.

While many people make the mistake of assuming this aerosol is as harmless as water vapor, it actually consists of fine particles containing toxic chemicals, many of which have been linked to cancer, as well as respiratory and heart diseases.

Vaping devices, which include e-cigarettes and vape pens, were first introduced to the commercial market in 2007. They typically have to be plugged in or powered by battery so a heating component can warm an e-liquid cartridge that then releases the aerosol to be inhaled in the lungs.

“A lot of these cartridges are actually marketed as health products,” Winickoff explained. “They have ‘healthy’ flavors, things like mango and berry that are associated with high antioxidants. But they’re just flavors. There are no actual health benefits.”

The CDCTrusted Source has found that these flavors are a big part of the reason teens are latching onto these products. Even worse, Winickoff told Healthline about a study where 60 percent of kids believed that pods used in Juuls (a specific brand of e-cigarette) were nicotine-free — when the reality is that 99 percent of these products contain nicotine.

In 2018, Juuls accounted for about 40 percent of the e-cigarette market, grossing 150 million in retail sales the last quarter alone. The appeal of this product specifically is that they don’t look like e-cigarettes. Juuls are small, can be mistaken for a USB drive, and are easily concealed in a person’s hand.

In other words, this is a product teens are able to use more discreetly, without drawing as much attention from their parents and teachers.

With the introduction of Juuling, e-cigarette use among teens is on the rise. So much so that both Time and The Washington Post reported on Juuling and what parents need to be aware of.

The risks of e-cigarettes

A large number of people believe e-cigarettes are simply a safer way to consume nicotine, and that nicotine isn’t harmful by itself. But that’s not true.

ResearchTrusted Source has found numerous negative impacts of nicotine alone: on metabolism, increased cancer risks and respiratory problems, as well as more asthma attacks and symptoms experienced by those who vape.

“We know based on Juul’s own published testing that these products contain carcinogens. Group 1 carcinogens — the most potent carcinogens known,” Winickoff revealed.

There’s also another risk that parents should be aware of when it comes to teens and e-cigarette use — the addiction may be harder to kick.

According to AAP, Juul pods contain nearly double the concentration of nicotine compared to other e-cigarette cartridges. This is especially concerning because the risk for addiction is already higher among teens.

Winickoff explained, “The younger the developing brain is exposed to nicotine, the stronger and more rapid the addiction. The earlier you become addicted, the harder it is to quit.”

But that’s not all. According to Winickoff, addiction to nicotine at a young age actually causes brain remodeling, changing the threshold for addiction to other substances.

In other words, kids who use nicotine earlier are more likely to fall in love with other drugs later on.

Tips for talking to kids before they start vaping

The risks of Juuling and vaping for kids are real, making it all the more important for parents to begin addressing these issues before their children decide to try these products.

A licensed clinical psychologist from Connecticut, Dr. Elaine Ducharme, PhD, told Heathline, “Parents really need to start talking to their kids in elementary school about this issue.”

She offered these tips for engaging in those discussions:

  1. Educate yourself first. Get the facts on these products so you know what you’re talking about when you approach the discussion with your kids.
  2. Be a role model. Parents are responsible for shaping many of their children’s ideas and behaviors, so set the tone with your own actions.
  3. Establish a safe environment where your kids can talk about their feelings and opinions without feeling judged.
  4. Really listen and let them tell you what they know.
  5. It can sometimes be helpful to give them something to read that you can then discuss together.
  6. Help them figure out ways to handle situations where they may be pressured to engage in these behaviors.
  7. Create a plan, even specific things for them to say like, “I have asthma and my doctor says I could become very ill if I try this,” or, “I just don’t think it looks cool.”
  8. Help them understand that using willpower to stand up to peers is really hard, but willpower is like a muscle — the more you use it, the stronger it gets.

Winickoff had this to add, “What the research says about tobacco use, which we can apply to Juuling and vaping, is that parents expressing how they feel about these products — their strong negative opinions — actually can make a difference. Kids may protest, but they do internalize their parent’s belief system.”

Winickoff says this is true even if a parent uses the product themselves. Talking about the negatives of that product, and about how the addiction has taken hold and why parents can’t quit (even though they want to) can still send a strong message to teens about why they shouldn’t start.

Getty Images

How teens purchase and hide Juuls

While the legal age for purchasing these products is 18 in some states and 21 in others, Winickoff explained that many kids are ordering them online — simply checking a box to verify they are of legal age. For this reason, parents should pay attention to their teen’s online purchases and packages that may arrive in the mail.

Juul pods also look very similar to an average USB flash drive. Examine any questionable device closely.

Addressing the nicotine addiction

If you discover that your teen is already Juuling, Winickoff is clear that it’s important to recognize this as more than just a “bad habit.” It’s a medical problem that requires a major response from the family, the child’s pediatrician, and possibly a therapist to help get that teen out from under the nicotine addiction.

“It’s not easy to get kids to stop. Their body craves it. They need it just to get through the day. I can tell you from anecdotal experience just from my office, I’ve had a terrible time getting kids to give up electronic cigarettes. It’s that young brain and extra susceptibility. They’re locked in.”

Ducharme added, “If the situation seems out of control, it’s time to speak with a psychologist or other mental health professional trained in working with teens and addictions.”

Currently, there aren’t any addiction programs specifically geared toward teens and nicotine use, which makes prevention and enforcement of existing rules all the more important.

Winickoff recommends advocating for zero-tolerance policies in schools and tobacco-free zones around every school, middle grade through college. He also recommends parents get involved in the Tobacco 21 movement, which aims to increase the legal age for purchasing tobacco products to 21. So far, six states have adopted such laws.

With the help of active and informed parents, yours could be next.

Editor’s note: This piece was originally reported on August 17, 2018. Its current publication date reflects an update, which includes a medical review by Alana Biggers, MD, MPH.

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/juuling-the-new-vaping-trend-thats-twice-as-addictive-as-cigarettes#9

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1272, June 11, 2019, Story 1: President Trump vs. Creepy Sleepy Dummy 1% Biden vs. Radical Extremist Democrats (REDS) (Booker, Buttigieg, Gillibrand, Harris, Klbuchar, O’Rourke, Sanders, Warren) — Videos — Story 2: Trump’s Political Pander to Corn Farmers With Enthanol Policy — Videos — Story 3: Stock Market Heading For Historic High — Videos

Posted on June 11, 2019. Filed under: 2020 Democrat Candidates, 2020 President Candidates, 2020 Republican Candidates, Addiction, Addiction, American History, Barack H. Obama, Bill Clinton, Blogroll, Breaking News, Bribery, Bribes, Budgetary Policy, Cartoons, Central Intelligence Agency, China, Coal, Communications, Congress, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Culture, Deep State, Diet, Disasters, Diseases, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Drugs, Ebola, Economics, Education, Empires, Employment, Environment, European History, European Union, Exercise, Extortion, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Government, First Amendment, Fiscal Policy, Food, Food, Former President Barack Obama, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Freud, Gangs, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Health, Health Care, Health Care Insurance, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Drugs, Illegal Drugs, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, James Comey, Japan, Joe Biden, Language, Law, Legal Drugs, Legal Immigration, Life, Lying, Media, Medicare, Mental Illness, Mexico, Middle East, Mike Pompeo, Military Spending, Monetary Policy, National Interest, National Security Agency, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, News, North Korea, Nuclear Weapons, Nutrition, Oil, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, Progressives, Public Corruption, Public Relations, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Resources, Robert S. Mueller III, Rule of Law, Scandals, Senate, Social Security, South Korea, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP_, Tax Policy, Trade Policy, Unemployment, United States Constitution, Videos, Violence, Wall Street Journal, Wealth, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1272 June 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1271 June 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1270 June 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1269 June 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1268 June 3, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1267 May 30, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1266 May 29, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1265 May 28, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1264 May 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1263 May 23, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1262 May 22, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1261 May 21, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1260 May 20, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1259 May 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1258 May 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1257 May 14, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1256 May 13, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1255 May 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1254 May 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1253 May 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1252 May 7, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1251 May 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1250 May 3, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1249 May 2, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1248 May 1, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1247 April 30, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1246 April 29, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1245 April 26, 2019