http://www.zerohedge.com/fullrss2.xml/%2A%7CARCHIVE%7C%2A/%2A%7CFORWARD%7C%2A en The Italian Job: "How Did Things Go So Bad?" http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-30/italian-job-how-did-things-go-so-bad <p><a href="http://dimartinobooth.com/the-italian-job/"><em>Submitted by Danielle DiMartino Booth via DiMartinoBooth.com,</em></a></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!&rdquo;</strong></em></span></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/8g_GeQR8fJo" width="560"></iframe></p> <p>That one line, spoken on the big screen by Michael Caine was crowned, according to a 2003 Daily Telegraph survey, Britain&rsquo;s favorite one-liner of film. That kind of staying power is remarkable considering <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064505/">The Italian Job</a>, the original that is, was released in 1969, two years before <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0317740/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">Mark Wahlberg</a>, who portrayed Caine&rsquo;s character, Charlie Croker, in the movie&rsquo;s 2003 remake, made his 1971 debut.</p> <p>As for the film&rsquo;s American version and one-liners, the crown for favorite was won when Charlie&rsquo;s 2003 on-screen nemesis Steve taunted: &ldquo;You blew the best thing you had going for you. You blew the element of surprise.&rdquo; Charlie&rsquo;s reaction? A knock-out punch followed seamlessly by the understated comeback, &ldquo;Surprised?&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>The element of surprise was on full display in the hours and days that followed Britain&rsquo;s voters&rsquo; decisive move to Leave the EU. </strong>The Brexit referendum succeeded in blowing off a different set of doors, leaving taunting politicians and policymakers alike flat-footed, with a whole new fear, that of contagion, beginning to the south in Italy.<u><em><strong> Might the Italians pull of a Job of their own, following Great Britain&rsquo;s lead in stealing back their own country?</strong></em></u></p> <p>The hope, stated diplomatically by Gluskin Sheff&rsquo;s inimitable David Rosenberg, a dear friend, is that <strong>Brexit will prove to be a, &ldquo;wakeup call for the long-awaited fundamental changes with regards to the EU &ndash; make it more democratic and make it less bureaucratic and embark on immigration rules that do not sacrifice regional security.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>Rosenberg&rsquo;s concerns on security are more than justified in the case of Italy. According to the Italian Coast Guards&rsquo; latest tally, the 3,324 migrants rescued June 26 brought the total rescued in just four days to 10,000. Four days! Calm seas have triggered fresh waves of migrants, bringing the total thus far this year to 66,000. The forecast calls for 10,000 more to arrive every week until year&rsquo;s end. Some 300,000 in total for 2016. The ease with which migrants can cross the seas to Italy means that country takes in 13 to 14 times more than Turkey and Greece. Is it any wonder Italians are exhausted?</p> <p><strong>At a Brussels Summit, EU leaders were urged to &ldquo;speed up and increase&rdquo; the return of migrants deemed to not be bona-fide refugees.</strong> In actuality, many making the crossing are simply looking for economic opportunity rather than escaping any real danger. Estimates vary, but only between six and 19 percent of those ordered back to their home countries actually leave. It is patently apparent that the EU does not have sufficient measures in place to combat the problem on behalf of its disgruntled member nations, and must become much more vigilant in its approach.</p> <p>As economically and culturally debilitating as the migrant crisis has become, <u><strong>it&rsquo;s critical to take a step back from this particular issue to understand the depth of Italy&rsquo;s economic plight.</strong></u> The reality is, there&rsquo;s something greater than just poorly managed migration underlying the unrest in Italy and its EU neighbors.</p> <p>While the migrant crisis clearly played into Brexit,<strong> the vote revealed much deeper anxieties driven by a very visible fact of British life</strong>, especially life after the financial crisis. The briefest of visits to the City of London, its streets lined with chauffeured Mercedes, offers ample prima facie evidence of what so many Brits know in their bones &ndash; <u><strong>that the distance between &ldquo;them&rdquo; and &ldquo;the rest of us&rdquo; has grown since the crisis broke.</strong></u></p> <p><em><strong>The average Brit knows they didn&rsquo;t wake up yesterday ripe to pillory the &ldquo;elite,&rdquo; a word that&rsquo;s crept back into the vernacular like a slowly spreading disease. But they do know they&rsquo;re not among those who have risen to the creamy top in recent years but have rather been demoted to the ranks of those left behind.</strong></em></p> <p>The fairy tale of the wealth effect, that what is good for those at the top of the pecking order is good for the masses, is apparently an international phenomenon. <strong>The one saving grace on this count is the British never succumbed to pressure to join single currency. That, however, is certainly not the case for the beleaguered Italians.</strong></p> <p>Back in the summer of 2012, when Greece appeared poised to leave the EU and escape the euro currency via devaluation of the drachma, <strong>Merrill Lynch released a report ranking the countries who stood the most to gain economically from dropping the euro. Can you guess who came in at the top spot?</strong></p> <p><u><strong>More than any of its peers, the Italian economy has suffered since joining the euro in 1999.</strong></u> Since 2007, its economy has contracted by 10 percent and suffered not one, not two, but three recessions. Competitive export-led growth has been deeply impaired by virtue of Italy&rsquo;s being effectively yoked to the massive German economy.</p> <p>Despite the rise of China, Germany has been able to maintain its top three ranking among world exporters. The secret weapon? That would be the euro. In 1998, the year before Germany switched to the euro, the country exported $540 billion. By 2015, that figure had swelled to $1.3 trillion. Italy&rsquo;s exports have also grown, but not nearly as robustly, coming in last year at $459 billion compared to $242 billion the year before it joined the euro.</p> <p>Just as it once was the case with China, Germany benefits from its relatively weak currency. If Germany was not tethered to its weaker-economy neighbors and was still on the Deutsche Mark, it would have a significantly stronger currency and substantially lower exports due to the price of its exports being much more expensive for world markets.</p> <p>Back in 2011, UBS put pencil to paper and figured that <strong>losing the common currency would trigger an immediate effective tax increase for the average German citizen of about &euro;7,000 and between &euro;3,500 to &euro;4,000 euros every single year going forward. By contrast, swallowing half the debt of Greece, Ireland and Portugal at that time would have generated a little over &euro;1,000 tab per citizen. </strong>Now you see why bailing out is so easy to do, though the Germans do put on a great show of irritation at having to foot such bills. But let&rsquo;s be honest. Consider the alternative.</p> <p><u><strong>Reverse that effect and, with all else being equal, you begin to appreciate why Italy&rsquo;s exports have become relatively more expensive, burdened as they are with a more expensive currency than they would have had.</strong></u> Consider that globalization had already done a number on the country&rsquo;s once magnificent industrial base when Italy opted into the euro and left the lire behind. Since then, the country&rsquo;s industrial capacity has been further decimated, shrinking by 15 percent. To take but one example, in 2007, Italy manufactured 24 million appliances; by 2012 it had declined to 13 million.</p> <p>Add up the economic consequences and you begin to understand why Italian unemployment is running north of 12 percent while putting four-in-ten young Italians are out of work.<strong> To the Italians, if anyone&rsquo;s managed to pull off a Job, it&rsquo;s those smug Germans.</strong></p> <p>Three years ago, the Merrill report warned that Italy&rsquo;s current account deficit would be an impediment to returning to the lire in that the deficit required foreign capital to keep current on its bills. Flash forward three years and Italy is running a current account surplus of 1.9 percent, a fairly recent phenomenon and more a reflection of its economic atrophy than a competitive trade position. Nevertheless, that is one obstacle to leaving the euro that&rsquo;s disappeared.</p> <p>That is not to say that Italy will be able to ride off into some glowing economic sunset. Italy&rsquo;s banks are thought to be the Continent&rsquo;s weakest. There are $408 billion in past due loans sitting on Italian bank balance sheets. Investors value these loans at 20-30 cents on the dollar if they are secured, and as little as 5 cents if they are unsecured while banks have marked them at between 50-65 cents on the dollar.</p> <p><strong>The yawning gap between market pricing and that of Italy&rsquo;s banks is reminiscent of how unrealistically Lehman valued its loans before going under.</strong> Unicredit, Italy&rsquo;s largest bank, has seen its stock price halved this year as investors worry its capital is insufficient to handle the Brexit fallout.</p> <p><em><strong>Leaving the EU and being unshackled from the euro could well lead to an Italian debt default, which is meaningful given Italy is the third largest sovereign debt market in the world. But local laws also provide plenty of leeway for the government to restructure its debts without triggering a default. The one thing that is not in doubt is that the lire would provide the Italians with the relief they have so desperately needed since joining the single currency.</strong></em></p> <p>On the flipside, the damage to Germany&rsquo;s manufacturing sector could be sufficient to catalyze a Continental recession. Angela Merkel has probably lost considerable sleep being a unified Europe is her treasured baby. In all, Germany&rsquo;s annual economic growth is boosted by a half-percentage point courtesy of its euro membership.</p> <p><strong>While there is no denying the economic challenges facing Italy, the potential for its exiting the EU was hugely increased by the Brexit. </strong>After all, some 58% of Italians were already calling for a referendum vote. If those voters are angry today, imagine how much angrier they will be if the Brexit throws Europe into a recession that Mario Draghi cannot effectively battle given that he already has his stimulus measures running full throttle.</p> <p>Tellingly, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which has risen rapidly in power in recent months, <strong>has not called for a referendum to leave the EU, but rather to get rid of the euro.</strong> Beppe Grillo, the stand-up comedian who founded the party said the Brexit, &ldquo;sanctions the failure of EU policies based on austerity and the selfishness of member States, which are incapable of being a community.&rdquo; Yes, <em>Stunad</em>, it really is about the economy.</p> <p><strong>The shame is Italy is its own bureaucratic basket case with little rule of law (think Mafia, tax avoidance and the impossibility of legislating anything from theory into practice).</strong> Brexit has lowered the odds Matteo Renzi&rsquo;s government will stand the test of time and last until October, the date by which his referendum to streamline Italy&rsquo;s bloated government must be taken up by the Italian electorate.</p> <p>Even if Renzi stands, Italy&rsquo;s future in the EU looks to be at risk. The collapse in bank shares in the trading days following the Brexit has created an immediate crisis. <strong>Within 72 hours of the vote results, Italy was reported to be preparing a &euro;40 billion rescue of its financial system.</strong> A direct recapitalization of the banks, funded by a special bond issue was on the table. But the Italians are also pleading for a moratorium of &lsquo;bail-in&rsquo; rules and bondholder write-downs, both of which are prohibited under existing EU laws.</p> <p><strong>Hate to go out on any limbs here, but odds are pretty good that those rules will be relaxed, all things considered.</strong></p> <p>How on earth did things go so wrong? <strong>Could it be as simple as power-mongering and greed?</strong> To rob a line from the 2003 Italian Job,<em> &ldquo;There are two kinds of thieves in this world: The ones who steal to enrich their lives, and those who steal to define their lives.&rdquo;</em> Could it be that <strong>average working Italians, especially those who have been around for a good long while, feel as if they&rsquo;ve been victims of both of the two kinds of theft, doubly wronged?</strong> &ldquo;Basta!&rdquo; their voices scream in defiance. Enough is enough!</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="589" height="306" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20160630_ita.jpg?1467342960" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-30/italian-job-how-did-things-go-so-bad#comments Bond China David Rosenberg default Germany Gluskin Sheff Greece Ireland Italy Lehman Merrill Merrill Lynch Portugal Reality Recession Rosenberg Sovereign Debt Turkey Unemployment Fri, 01 Jul 2016 06:00:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 564890 at http://www.zerohedge.com The Collapse Of Western Democracy http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-30/collapse-western-democracy <p><a href="http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2016/06/29/the-collapse-of-western-democracy-paul-craig-roberts/"><em>Authored by Paul Craig Roberts,</em></a></p> <p><strong>Democracy no longer exists in the West</strong>. In the US, powerful private interest groups, such as the military-security complex, Wall Street, the Israel Lobby, agribusiness and the extractive industries of energy, timber and mining, have long exercised more control over government than the people. <strong>But now even the semblance of democracy has been abandoned.</strong></p> <p>In the US Donald Trump has won the Republican presidential nomination. However, Republican convention delegates are plotting to deny Trump the nomination that the people have voted him. The Republican political establishment is showing an unwillingness to accept democratic outcomes.</p> <p><strong>The people chose, but their choice is unacceptable to the establishment which intends to substitute its choice for the people&rsquo;s choice.</strong></p> <p>Do you remember Dominic Strauss-Kahn? Strauss-Kahn is the Frenchman who was head of the IMF and, according to polls, the likely next president of France. He said something that sounded too favorable toward the Greek people. This concerned powerful banking interests who worried that he might get in the way of their plunder of Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Italy. A hotel maid appeared who accused him of rape. He was arrested and held without bail. After the police and prosecutors had made fools of themselves, he was released with all charges dropped. But the goal was achieved. Strauss-Kahn had to resign as IMF director and kiss goodbye his chance for the presidency of France.</p> <p><em>Curious, isn&rsquo;t it, that a woman has now appeared who claims Trump raped her when she was 13 years old.</em></p> <p><strong>Consider the political establishment&rsquo;s response to the Brexit vote.</strong> Members of Parliament are saying that the vote is unacceptable and that Parliament has the right and responsibility to ignore the voice of the people.</p> <p>The view now established in the West is that the people are not qualified to make political decisions. The position of the opponents of Brexit is clear: it simply is not a matter for the British people whether their sovereignty is given away to an unaccountable commission in Brussels.</p> <p>Martin Schultz, President of the EU Parliament, puts it clearly:<u><em><strong> &ldquo;It is not the EU philosophy that the crowd can decide its fate.&rdquo;</strong></em></u></p> <p>The Western media have made it clear that they do not accept the people&rsquo;s decision either. <strong>The vote is said to be &ldquo;racist&rdquo; and therefore can be disregarded as illegitimate.</strong></p> <p>Washington has no intention of permitting the British to exit the European Union. Washington did not work for 60 years to put all of Europe in the EU bag that Washington can control only to let democracy undo its achievement.</p> <p><u><strong>The Federal Reserve, </strong></u>its Wall Street allies, and its Bank of Japan and European Central Bank vassals will short the UK pound and equities, and the presstitutes will explain the decline in values as &ldquo;the market&rsquo;s&rdquo; pronouncement that the British vote was a mistake. If Britain is actually permitted to leave, the two-year long negotiations will be used to tie the British into the EU so firmly that Britain leaves in name only.</p> <p><strong>No one with a brain believes that Europeans are happy that Washington and NATO are driving them into conflict with Russia. Yet their protests have no effect on their governments.</strong></p> <p><u><strong>Consider the French</strong></u> protests of what the neoliberal French government, masquerading as socialist, calls &ldquo;labor law reforms.&rdquo; What the &ldquo;reform&rdquo; does is to take away the reforms that the French people achieved over decades of struggle. The French made employment more stable and less uncertain, thereby reducing stress and contributing to the happiness of life. But the corporations want more profit and regard regulations and laws that benefit people as barriers to higher profitability. Neoliberal economists backed the takeback of French labor rights with the false argument that a humane society causes unemployment. The neoliberal economists call it &ldquo;liberating the employment market&rdquo; from reforms achieved by the French people.</p> <p>The French government, of course, represents corporations, not the French people.</p> <p><em><strong>The neoliberal economists and politicians have no qualms about sacrificing the quality of French life in order to clear the way for global corporations to make more profits. What is the value in &ldquo;the global market&rdquo; when the result is to worsen the fate of peoples?</strong></em></p> <p><u><strong>Consider the German</strong></u>s. They are being overrun with refugees from Washington&rsquo;s wars, wars that the stupid German government enabled. The German people are experiencing increases in crime and sexual attacks. They protest, but their government does not hear them. The German government is more concerned about the refugees than it is about the German people.</p> <p>Consider the Greeks and the Portuguese forced by their governments to accept personal financial ruin in order to boost the profits of foreign banks. These governments represent foreign bankers, not the Greek and Portuguese people.</p> <p><u><strong>One wonders how long before all Western peoples conclude that only a French Revolution complete with guillotine can set them free.</strong></u></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="241" height="121" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20160630_demo.jpg?1467335257" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-30/collapse-western-democracy#comments Bank of Japan Donald Trump European Central Bank European Union Federal Reserve France Greece Israel Italy Japan Nomination Portugal Unemployment Fri, 01 Jul 2016 02:27:04 +0000 Tyler Durden 564888 at http://www.zerohedge.com The New Narrative For Earnings: Blame Brexit http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-30/new-narrative-earnings-blame-brexit <p>Every quarter there is always a fallback narrative put forth as to why companies fail to meet earnings expectations, and <strong>we now have that narrative for the rest of 2016 (and perhaps <a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-26/more-confusion-eu-tells-cameron-hurry-article-50-merkel-says-no-need-rush">through 2025</a>): <span style="text-decoration: underline;">Brexit</span></strong>.</p> <p>As we <a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-29/another-attempt-explain-volumeless-rally-now-jpm-function-disbelief-and-skepticism">discussed yesterday</a>, as we enter into Q2 earnings season the main focus on all earnings calls will be to what extent Brexit will impact business for the rest of the year. Will firms guide down materially due to the UK referendum, or will guidance largely not be impacted, this is going to be the main focus of analysts and investors. To wit:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>the main focus (by far) will be on the CQ2 earnings season (the first few reports will hit during the week of 7/11 but the heaviest volume will be during the week of 7/18 and 7/25). The CQ2 earnings season will be particularly important as investors are eager to hear updates from CEOs/CFOs on the extent to which Brexit-related disruptions materially impacted the outlook for their businesses</strong>. If the tone on the Jul/Aug conf. calls sounds relatively similar to the Apr/May updates (<strong>i.e. Brexit is acknowledged but doesn&rsquo;t dramatically change H2 guidance</strong>) that would go a long way towards alleviating investor concern. Prior to the 6/23 referendum investors were penciling in a ~$130 SPX figure for &rsquo;17 &ndash; if that number only has a couple of dollars of downside stocks will continue stabilizing.</p> </blockquote> <p>Almost right on cue, here is Reuters today planting the seed that Brexit can now be used as an excuse for firms that need to lower guidance without any pushback.</p> <p>From <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-eu-usa-profits-idUSKCN0ZG1FB">Reuters</a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>Foreign exchange volatility and economic uncertainty after Britain&#39;s vote to leave the European Union have imperiled a projected profit rebound in the United States, where companies have been stuck in an earnings recession since last year</strong>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>U.S. companies doing business abroad are at particular risk because of a jump in the dollar since last week&#39;s referendum and expectations of a potential stumble in European economies</strong></span>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A strong dollar and plummeting oil prices slammed U.S. corporate earnings starting in 2015, but the stabilization of crude prices and the dollar in recent months has led investors to bet on a return to modest growth starting in the third quarter.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As the second-quarter reports gets underway in the coming weeks, executives&#39; comments about the so-called Brexit&#39;s potential effects could alter Wall Street&#39;s expectations of when the profit slump will end.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;<strong>This adds more fuel to the fire, that the so-called spurt in growth in the second-half of the year is going to be really tough to achieve,</strong>&quot; said Synovus Trust Company Senior Portfolio Manager Daniel Morgan, who believes analysts are too optimistic.</p> </blockquote> <p>To add to the narrative, Reuters <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-eu-usa-profits-idUSKCN0ZG1FB">notes</a> that some companies such as Carnival are already warning on the impact Brexit will have on full-year earnings targets.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>Some U.S. companies are already voicing caution about Brexit.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Cruise ship operator Carnival Corp (CCL.N) warned in its quarterly report on Tuesday that Britain&#39;s withdrawal from the European Union could affect global consumer confidence</strong></span>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Chief Financial Officer David Bernstein estimated on a conference call that weakness in the pound and euro would have an eight-cent impact on Carnival&#39;s full-year earnings per share, although he said higher customer demand would make up for that and he did not reduce his outlook.</p> </blockquote> <p>While it is true that there may be some impact on earnings related to Brexit, shifting the narrative solely to Brexit in order to mask the fact that the global economy is<a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-28/final-q1-gdp-rises-11-despite-worst-personal-consumption-two-years"> already stunningly weak</a> is a sad, yet predictable tactic.</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user51698/imageroot/2016/06/30/20160630_usgdp.JPG"><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user51698/imageroot/2016/06/30/20160630_usgdp_0.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 357px;" /></a></p> <p><strong>And as a reminder, 2016 outlooks have been tweaked to the downside long before the UK referendum.</strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user51698/imageroot/2016/06/30/20160630_fcsts_0.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 465px;" /></p> <p><strong>As <a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-29/another-attempt-explain-volumeless-rally-now-jpm-function-disbelief-and-skepticism">we said</a>, none of this really matters as any and all misses that do take place will conveniently be blamed on Brexit as a &quot;one-off&quot; event, and P/E multiples which are already in their 99th percentile will continue to all time highs.</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user51698/imageroot/2016/06/30/20160630_multiples_0.JPG"><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user51698/imageroot/2016/06/30/20160630_multiples_0.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 440px;" /></a></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="551" height="428" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20160630_dbearnings.JPG?1467309512" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-30/new-narrative-earnings-blame-brexit#comments Consumer Confidence Crude European Union Fail Global Economy None Recession Reuters Volatility Fri, 01 Jul 2016 02:00:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 564854 at http://www.zerohedge.com Driver In Fatal Self-Driving Tesla Crash Had Recently Posted Video Praising Car's Autopilot http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-30/driver-fatal-self-driving-tesla-crash-had-recently-posted-video-praising-cars-autopi <p>Call it a case of tragic irony. </p> <p>Earlier today, Tesla reported (with a one day delay so that perhaps its stock wouldn't get clobbered ahead of quarter end rebalancing) that a 40-year-old Ohio man, named Joshua Brown, was killed when his 2015 Model S drove under the trailer of an 18-wheeler on a highway near Williston, Florida, sending Tesla stock lower nearly 3%. </p> <p>In its defense, Tesla said in a blog post that the autopilot didn’t notice the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake wasn’t applied; the company reported the May 7 incident to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Surprisingly, it took the company nearly two months to notify its shareholders of what was a material event to the business model of a company whose "autopilot" feature has been pinned as one of the core growth drivers, pardon the pun; furthermore, a virtually assured outcome of this tragic accident is a costly recall (not to mention litigation) one which will soak up even more of the company's already massive cash burn. </p> <p>And while the details of the accident are sure to add fuel to the debate over whether self-driving cars are ready for the real world (they are not, especially when the "auto pilot" is merely a gimmick meant to boost the price of an overhyped stock, while masking the inherent flaws of a substandard luxury car by piling on even more hype), the real irony is that Brown, who was killed while using his Tesla Model S’s autopilot feature, had previously praised precisely the same feature and had posted video of Tesla autonomous driving ability helping to save him from a collision. </p> <p>Joshua Brown died May 7 in a motor vehicle accident, according to an online obituary. The same picture used with that obituary was used on the YouTube account that posted the near miss in April, and as <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/driver-in-fatal-tesla-crash-previously-had-posted-video-of-autopilot-saving-him-2016-06-30?mod=industries_twitter_new&amp;link=sfmw_tw">MarketWatch reports </a>a Florida coroner confirmed Thursday that the driver killed in the crash there was named Joshua Brown. </p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/06/27/josh%20brown.jpg"><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/06/27/josh%20brown_0.jpg" width="561" height="315" /></a></p> <p><em>In an image from an online video posted by Brown driving his Tesla Model S.</em></p> <p>According to the Google account linked to his YouTube, Brown was the owner and founder of Nexu Innovations, a research and development company based in Stow, Ohio, that dabbled in networking, product development and 3-D printing. His corporate bio states that he served in the U.S. Navy for more than 11 years after studying at the University of New Mexico.</p> <p>Tesla described Brown, without naming him, in its blog post as “a friend to Tesla and the broader EV community, a person who spent his life focused on innovation and the promise of technology and who believed strongly in Tesla’s mission.”</p> <p>Brown’s last post to his YouTube account was a second version of the video that received more than 1 million hits, with image stabilization turned off. </p> <p> <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/y4bQBJ2Cfqk" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the description of the video, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4bQBJ2Cfqk">uploaded to YouTube on April 10</a>, he praised the car and its autopilot features.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Tesla Model S autopilot saved the car autonomously from a side collision from a boom lift truck. I was driving down the interstate and you can see the boom lift truck in question on the left side of the screen on a joining interstate road. Once the roads merged, the truck tried to get to the exit ramp on the right and never saw my Tesla. I actually wasn't watching that direction and Tessy (the name of my car) was on duty with autopilot engaged. I became aware of the danger when Tessy alerted me with the "immediately take over" warning chime and the car swerving to the right to avoid the side collision. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You can see where I took over when there's a little bit of blip in the steering. Tessy had already moved to the right to avoid the collision. I was not able to slow down even more due to the heavy traffic (cars were behind me). Once I got behind him I slowly added more room between us until he exited. I was not tail gating after the incident. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It was a mistake on the other driver's part. He did not even know I was there until I honked my horn. There was a group of women in the black sedan to my left and they went nuts about the guy and what he did (all kinds of gesturing in their car). Once I was beside the truck as it slowed down on the ramp, the guy gestured a "sorry!" I gave him, "it's okay" wave. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tessy did great. I have done a lot of testing with the sensors in the car and the software capabilities. I have always been impressed with the car, but I had not tested the car's side collision avoidance. I am VERY impressed. Excellent job Elon! </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Note: I have over 39,000 miles on the car and I've had it since mid-July 2015. Hands down the best car I have ever owned and use it to its full extent. It has done many, many amazing things, but this was one of the more interesting things caught on the dashcam. </p> </blockquote> <p>Less than a month later he would be dead, having relied on the same "self-driving" feature. Perhaps it is time for the NHTSA to actually start doing its job instead of fawning over the shaky and increasingly more questionable credentials of a still very wealthy "<a href="http://www.technobuffalo.com/2013/05/12/elon-musk-tony-stark-infographic/">real world Iron Man</a>", who in the aftermath of his shocking announcement to buy SolarCity, has in recent weeks been called a charlatan by an increasingly more vocal group of outside observers. </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="890" height="501" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/josh%20brown.jpg?1467336872" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-30/driver-fatal-self-driving-tesla-crash-had-recently-posted-video-praising-cars-autopi#comments Florida Google Mexico NHTSA Ohio Fri, 01 Jul 2016 01:45:23 +0000 Tyler Durden 564886 at http://www.zerohedge.com "Off The Grid" Indicators Reveal True State Of U.S. Economy http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-30/grid-indicators-reveal-true-state-us-economy <p><em>By Nick Colas of Convergex</em></p> <p><em><strong>Summary</strong>: Our basket of unorthodox economic indicators shows a U.S. economy that is growing, but at a very slow pace and with a notable sense of social unease.&nbsp; On the plus side, used car prices are defying all expectations by remaining robust – that helps trade-in values for new car purchases.&nbsp; Dealer inventories of new cars are also in good shape.&nbsp; Food stamp program participation is trending lower, although +44 million Americans (14% of the total population) still need government assistance to eat.&nbsp; On the cautionary side of the coin, large pickup truck sales have turned negative – a proxy for small business confidence in a range of industries.&nbsp; Consumer spending per day is declining, and our Bacon Cheeseburger Index is still flashing a deflationary warning.&nbsp; <strong>Lastly, the FBI reports that there have been 11.7 million background checks for firearm sales through May.&nbsp; At this rate, total year sales could reach 28 million, versus 8-9 million before the Financial Crisis.</strong></em></p> <p><strong>We’ve been doing these “Off the Grid” indicator reports for years, and the most common question we get about them is “Why”?&nbsp; </strong>As in “Why do we care about data points that policymakers don’t talk about?”&nbsp;&nbsp; And “Why does any of this matter?”</p> <p><strong>Now we have an example of why</strong>: Brexit.&nbsp; To look at the standard economic talking points, the British people should have been happy to go with the status quo and “Remain”.&nbsp; Consider these customary measures of employment, inflation, output, and well-being:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Current unemployment at 5%, and much lower joblessness than other developed economies after the Financial Crisis and Great Recession</strong>. Peak unemployment post 2000 was 8.5% in 2011 – better than the US and most European countries.&nbsp; Source: <a href="https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peoplenotinwork/unemployment/timeseries/mgsx" title="https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peoplenotinwork/unemployment/timeseries/mgsx">https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peoplenotinwork/unemplo...</a></li> <li><strong>Inflation is running less than 1% - lower than what policymakers like to see, but very friendly to consumers. </strong>The worst things got were in 2008, when inflation peaked at 4.8%. Source: <a href="https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/timeseries/l55o" title="https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/timeseries/l55o">https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/timeseries/l55o</a></li> <li><strong>GDP Growth shows none of the quarterly volatility of the US economy, and has run between 2.2% and +5% since 2011</strong>. Source: <a href="https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/grossdomesticproductgdp/timeseries/ihyo" title="https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/grossdomesticproductgdp/timeseries/ihyo">https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/grossdomesticproductgdp/timeseries/ihyo</a></li> <li><strong>Income inequality, according the GINI Index, is 32.4 – on par with Canada (32.1), Ireland (33.9) and better than Japan (37.9</strong>). Source: <a href="https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2172rank.html" title="https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2172rank.html">https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/21...</a></li> <li><strong>Large scale political outcomes – the kind that can move markets – are more than a function of simple economics</strong>.&nbsp; That’s why we look at a range of datasets that we call “Off the Grid Indicators”.&nbsp; There are numerous graphs and tables available in the attachment to this email.&nbsp; Here’s the highlight reel:</li> </ul> <p><strong>On the plus side of the ledger:</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong>The auto industry is a large employer of American workers who do not have a college degree. </strong>This cohort has had a tough economic time since before the Financial Crisis, and auto industry jobs pay well.&nbsp; Keeping auto assembly plants running at stable line rates (and avoiding even temporary layoffs) is therefore important to this often overlooked cohort.</li> <li><strong>Currently, dealer inventories of cars and trucks are in good shape at 59 days supply</strong>.&nbsp; The ideal number is 60.&nbsp; This means as long as light vehicle demand remains constant, automakers can keep to their Q2 and Q3 build schedules. <br /><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/06/27/colas%205.jpg"><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/06/27/colas%205_0.jpg" width="500" height="331" /></a></li> <li><strong>Used car prices remain surprisingly robust</strong>. Auto auction company Manheim publishes an index of used vehicle values, and the most recent data shows prices remain at 2011 levels.&nbsp; That’s a positive for new car and truck demand, since potential buyers usually have a vehicle to trade in at the dealer or sell privately.&nbsp; The better the value of that car or truck, the more likely the consumer will be able to afford a new vehicle.</li> <li><strong>Fewer people are Googling “I want to sell my kidney</strong>”. No joke – this has been a top 3 autofill for Google when you enter “I want to sell my” for the last 2 years.&nbsp; It has been replaced with “Furniture”.<br /><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/06/27/colas%202.jpg"><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/06/27/colas%202_0.jpg" width="500" height="296" /></a></li> <li><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/06/27/colas%204.jpg"><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/06/27/colas%204_0.jpg" width="500" height="327" /></a> </li> <li><strong>Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka food stamps) is slowly declining</strong>. The most current roster has 44.3 million Americans in the program, down from 45.6 million a year ago. It is hard to say how much of this is better economic conditions versus reductions in coverage (childless single people have become illegible for the program in some states).&nbsp; Worth noting: even at 44 million people, that is still 14% of the entire US population.&nbsp; Before the Financial Crisis, there were less than 25 million in the program. <br /><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/06/27/colas%201.jpg"><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/06/27/colas%201_0.jpg" width="500" height="329" /></a></li> </ul> <p><strong>And some points of concern:</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong>Large pickup truck sales are down year-over-year. </strong>This is one of our favorite indicators of small business growth in “Real America” (i.e. not coding the latest food delivery or dating app).&nbsp; May sales were down 3.1% from last year, one of the worst comparisons since mid 2011. <br /><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/06/27/colas%206.jpg"><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/06/27/colas%206_0.jpg" width="500" height="329" /></a></li> <li><strong>Gallup’s consumer survey of daily spending patterns shows the average American spending $93/day in out of pocket expense, up from $91/day last year but lower than the $98/day of 2014.</strong></li> <li><strong>People are buying more precious metals than mutual funds</strong>. The six month rolling averages of U.S. Mint sales of gold and silver bullion coins are: $85 million (Silver) and $65 million (Gold). Both are higher than a year ago.&nbsp; By contrast, US mutual funds have seen a total of $31 billion in redemptions this year. <br /><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/06/27/colas%203.jpg"><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/06/27/colas%203_0.jpg" width="500" height="331" /></a></li> <li><strong>Our Bacon Cheeseburger Index – an equal weighted measure of the CPI inputs for bacon, ground beef and cheese – is still in deflationary territory for the second consecutive quarter at -2.5%</strong>. Don’t laugh – this measure of real world inflation (and therefore one that informs consumer expectations) was flashing a warning sign long before Chair Yellen and the Fed publicly revised their long term growth forecasts lower earlier this month. </li> </ul> <p><strong>We’ll close on one point that isn’t so much economic as social – the number of FBI background checks for firearm sales</strong>. This data is available monthly, and through May it shows that Americans have done the paperwork to make 11.7 million legal purchases of one gun or more. Taking that as a run rate for the year, 2016 could see 28 million firearm sales using the FBI check data as a proxy for transactions. That compares to a three year rolling average of 21.7 million.&nbsp; Since 2007, the FBI has processed over 150 million firearm purchase background checks. That is one for every two Americans. </p> <p>This is obviously a hot topic issue in a presidential election year, and we have no desire to touch this particular third rail of American politics.&nbsp; From an economic and social standpoint, however, we think it is important to understand the numbers behind the debate. Before the Financial Crisis, the FBI typically processed 8-10 million checks per year. This year, that number might be 3x higher. That is a lot of guns. </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="2362" height="300" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/colas%20teaser.jpg?1467335119" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-30/grid-indicators-reveal-true-state-us-economy#comments 8.5% CPI FBI Google Ireland Japan None Precious Metals Recession Unemployment Volatility Fri, 01 Jul 2016 01:32:15 +0000 Tyler Durden 564885 at http://www.zerohedge.com What's The Car Preference Of Millennials? Bentley - Of Course http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-30/whats-car-preference-millennials-bentley-course <p>As many millennials have resorted to <strong><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-04-27/we-all-work-team-millennials-explain-how-its-going-living-rent-free-home">living with their parents</a></strong> in order to save on expenses,<em><strong> it turns out that &quot;the other half&quot; are out driving luxury cars.</strong></em></p> <p>Millennials (described as ages 19-34) who aren&#39;t living at home are are choosing premium cars and SUVs as their ride of choice ABC News <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Business/millennials-dont-drive-luxury-automakers-beg-differ/story?id=40199904">reports</a>. Bentley, the luxury British automaker <strong>first noticed the shift a few years ago as millennials starting leasing and financing vehicles</strong> such as the Continental GT in 2013, and now <strong>millennials account for a stunning 8% of Bentley sales the company</strong> <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Business/millennials-dont-drive-luxury-automakers-beg-differ/story?id=40199904">said</a>.</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user51698/imageroot/2016/06/30/20160630_bentley_0.JPG"><img height="387" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user51698/imageroot/2016/06/30/20160630_bentley_0.JPG" width="600" /></a></p> <p>&quot;<strong>Millennials represent an increasingly important customer base. They are the largest potential customer group today, and their influence is greater than simply the money they have to spend</strong>. We believe that this generation&#39;s approach to life and social issues will have more impact than merely their money.&quot; said James Pillar, Bentley&#39;s head of marketing. For Bentley, we&#39;re sure money spent buying their cars is the top ranked impact that millennials will have.</p> <p>Manhattan Motorcars in New York City has sold 33 new Bentleys so far this year, eight of which were sold to millennials the dealership <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Business/millennials-dont-drive-luxury-automakers-beg-differ/story?id=40199904">said</a>.</p> <p>&quot;<strong>Millennials are looking to set themselves apart. They want to be catered to, and they want a unique experience. They want to make a statement</strong>.&quot; said Danielle Weinstein, a salesperson with Manhattan Motorcars. Weinstein posts Bentley videos on a YouTube channel she set up to connect with millennials who have the cash to splurge on a luxury car (the average lease is <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Business/millennials-dont-drive-luxury-automakers-beg-differ/story?id=40199904">about</a> $2,400 a month). &quot;Millennials are drawn to social media advertising. They come into the dealership to network. I know social media attracts millennials.&quot; Weinstein added.</p> <p><strong>AutoTrader.com conducted a study of millennial car buyers and shoppers in 2013 and found that 32% of millennials said they &quot;like to impress people with their lifestyle&quot;, and 40% &quot;like to show off their taste.&quot;</strong> In addition, millennials said owning the &quot;best brand&quot; is important to them.</p> <p>Perfect, young and materialistic - if these millennial Bentley drivers aren&#39;t already employed by a Wall Street firm, we suggest they immediately apply.</p> <p>The luxury car of choice isn&#39;t just Bentley however, as Audi, Jaguar and Land Rover have all acknowledged an uptick in Millennial business.</p> <p>&quot;We&#39;ve seen a 23% increase in millennials coming to the brand in the past two years,&quot; said Loren Angelo, Audi&#39;s USA director of marketing.</p> <p>Kim McCullough, the company&#39;s vice president of marketing, said &quot;<strong>Land Rover buyers are the youngest buyers of luxury SUVs, with half being between the ages of 20-48. With the recent addition of the Jaguar F-PACE and XE, preorders for those models reflect a younger buyer.</strong>&quot;</p> <p>Millennials are choosing to primarily lease instead of buy according to Karl Brauer, a director at Kelley Blue Book. &quot;Millennials are not interested in the pure buying model, and a lot of them don&#39;t want to buy a car for the long term. Leasing also makes owning a car more affordable,&quot; adding that &quot;they have to buy cars now. They&#39;ve reached that life stage. They&#39;ve got a wife and kids.&quot; - which apparently means one has to immediately go purchase a Bentley.</p> <p>* * *</p> <p>In summary, much like the rest of America and everywhere else around the world, <strong>wealth inequality is alive and well within the millennial generation especially</strong>. Either you&#39;re <a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-05-24/more-young-americans-live-their-parents-any-time-great-depression">living with your parents</a> in order to save on rent, or you&#39;re driving a Bentley - how can any of this end badly?</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="620" height="400" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20160630_bentley.JPG?1467319872" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-30/whats-car-preference-millennials-bentley-course#comments ABC News Jaguar KIM New York City Fri, 01 Jul 2016 01:10:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 564874 at http://www.zerohedge.com Defending your liberty with a rifle. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-30/well-regulated-militia-being-necessary-security-free-state <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: right;"><em>"When governments fear the people, there is liberty. &nbsp;When the people fear the government, there is tyranny."</em></p> <p style="text-align: right;"><em>-Author unknown, but darn sure historically accurate.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">So, many of you probably read James Traub's article this week. &nbsp;It seems to have caused quite a stir.</span></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><em><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-29/elites-called-arms-its-time-rise-against-ignorant-masses">'Elites' Called To Arms: "It's Time To Rise Up Against The Ignorant Masses</a></em></p> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">I couldn't help but read it in context with my earlier article, </span><em style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;"><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-01-06/hedgelesshorsemans-revolutionary-call-arms">hedgeless_horseman's Revolutionary Call to Arms</a></em><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">. &nbsp;I hope that many of you read my article and already have started to proceed through the 20 steps in order. &nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">However, if you are a veteran or active duty military, I invited you to skip to items 15-18, in my article, </span><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-20/seems-vietnam-veterans-couldnt-give-fuck-about-americas-perpetual-warfare" style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;"><em>Never forget? Most veterans don't give a shit about America's perpetual warfare</em>.</a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>15. &nbsp;Research your two senators and one congressman at <em><a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/" title="https://www.opensecrets.org/">https://www.opensecrets.org/</a></em> Make a list of their 10 biggest donors, and send the list to "your representative" in an email or letter.</p> <p>16. &nbsp;Read <em>War is a Racket</em>, by Major General Smedley D. Butler.</p> <p>17. &nbsp;Read <em>On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society</em>, by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman.</p> <p>18. &nbsp;Watch the online video of the TED Talk, <em>A radical experiment in empathy</em>, by Sam Richards.</p> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">I certainly don't see myself as "leadership" per Traub's use of the term, but I do value truth, and do try to <a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-10-06/law-suit-porn-addict-divorcing-seeking-investment-ideas-worried-about-world">love my neighbor as I love myself</a>. &nbsp; &nbsp;To that end, I will continue to try to "un-delude the ignorant" (especially myself) with more of what Traub calls, "reason, expertise, and the lessons of history." &nbsp;Speaking of the lessons of history, especially in relation to Items 11-12 of my <em>Revolutionary Call to Arms</em>, I would like to reflect for a moment on this passage from the Declaration of Independence before getting to expertise and reason.</span></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>"WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness--That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed."</p> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">Is that “elitist”? &nbsp;"All men created equal..." &nbsp;Hardly. &nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">Now, the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights:</span></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."</span></p> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">Is that “elitist”? &nbsp;"...the right of the people [ignorant masses] to keep and bear Arms..." &nbsp;It sounds rather egalitarian to me, and it is plain to understand why the elites don't care much for the Second Amendment.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">Sorry to jump around so much, but what I am trying to get to, painfully so, is this. &nbsp;Standing armies are controlled by the governments, which are now so obvioulsy controlled by the elite, and are very much a force of tyranny. &nbsp;You see, local militias are controlled by The People, not the government, and are indeed, "necessary to the security of a free State." &nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 20.0063px;">I understand that many of our nation's founders agree with me on these points. &nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">To quote the author of #16 on my <em>Revolutionary Call to Arms</em>:</span></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Major General Smedley Butler, USMC,&nbsp;</p> <p>Two-Time Congressional Medal of Honor Winner</p> <p>Author of, <em>War is a Racket!</em></p> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">So, if you have completed my <em>Revolutionary Call to Arms</em>, agree with Major General Butler, agree with the Second Amendment, agree with Frédéric Bastiat's ideas in his book, <em>The Law</em>, understand the costs and risks illustrated by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, and nonetheless you still choose to be ready, willing, and able to secure a free state for yourself and loved ones, then I give you free of charge and with much brotherly love, <strong>hedgeless_horseman's E-Z Internet Guide For The Ignorant And De-Luded ZeroHedge Reader With Too Much Money And Very Little Patience That Wants To Secure a Free State and Become A Rifleman Without Joining the US Military</strong>.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">Yes! It is another hedgeless_horseman gun article!&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;"><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-09-10/guide-learning-use-sidearm-defend-yourself-your-loved-ones-and-your-property-should-">I have covered defending your<em> life</em> with a pistol. &nbsp;</a></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;"><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-12-09/tale-two-home-invasions ">I have covered defending your <em>property</em> with a shotgun.</a>&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">Now, I cover defending your <em>liberty</em> with a rifle.</span></p> <p><strong><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">Before handling a firearm, it is most important for EVERYONE in the household to know, understand, and follow these four safety rules:</span></strong></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>1) Treat all weapons as if they are loaded.</strong></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>2) Do not point the weapon at anyone or anything that you do not want to shoot, kill, or destroy.</strong></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>3) Do not put your finger on the trigger until you have 1) target, 2) sights on target, and 3) perception that either A) "serious bodily injury or death is imminent for myself or another person," or B) firing range is hot and training drill is live.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>4) Be aware of, and take responsibility for, all bystanders that may be behind or near the target.</strong></p> <p><strong style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">I add a fifth rule, to the common four, which is to not be under the influence of any mind-altering chemical such as alcohol or dope when handling a firearm.</strong></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">I absolutely refuse to be within a mile of anyone that I see not following these rules, which is why I generally avoid public gun ranges, and suggest that you shoot at a nice, lonely, high, dirt hill, way out in the boonies, or pay for a membership at a private tactical range that screens all members and guests and has at least 270 degree bays.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;"><a href="http://www.sportsmansguide.com/product/index/secureit-falcon-fast-box?a=1784634&amp;pm2d=CSE-SPG-15-PLA&amp;utm_medium=PLA&amp;utm_source=Google&amp;utm_campaign=CI&amp;gclid=CNywjvjt0M0CFQgoaQodQtsIgQ">First, purchase an under the bed long-gun safe, like this, for security and rapid access.</a></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">Next, and <strong>I cannot stress this point enough, get instruction from an experienced professional.</strong> &nbsp;Specifically, take at least two weekends of tactical rifle training. &nbsp; It does not matter whether you are a 10-year veteran of law enforcement, a Marine with two tours in the sandbox, or both, you will still learn much and improve significantly with good instruction. &nbsp; Taking the state's required, "course," to test for a concealed handgun license (CHL) is not even close to adequate instruction. &nbsp;Usually, all the CHL course does is inform you of the laws regarding concealed carry, and assign you with some basic level of proficiency that can be used against you in court.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">A good instructor will teach you the safety rules and how to safely and correctly manipulate your rifle, including operating the safety, loading, unloading, checking if loaded, reloading, managing stoppages, managing squibs, slinging, carrying, shouldering, firing, and possibly even field stripping your rifle. It is likely that you will also learn how to hit your target, and be able to do so relatively quickly. &nbsp;It takes much more practice for you to get the hits when you are under stress, shooting a moving target, lying in the mud, hiding behind cover, it is dark, it is cold and raining, and you are being shot at.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">Nobody said it is easy being a Minuteman. It is hard, but also rewarding and fun.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">Now, on to selecting your rifle and beginning to outfit your person as a rifleman.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">From ol' muzzle loaders where powder and ball are rammed down the barrel with a rod, to today's breach-loaded, detachable-magazine, semi-automatic and select-fire rifles, there are many mechanisms for loading, firing, and reloading a rifle. &nbsp;For hunting deer, elk, and antelope I love and adore my pre-64 Winchester Model 70 Featherweight bolt action rifle in .308 Win. &nbsp;Even with my old and heavy Redfield Widefield 4x scope she is light enough to pack up and down mountain ranges above 10,000 feet, while packing the hind quarter of a bull elk. &nbsp;Military and police snipers often use bolt actions because they are very accurate, as do Olympic shooters for the same reason. &nbsp;On a good day with my bolt rifle, I can still one-hole 3 shots at 100m, clover leaf up to about 200m, and get a kill shot on a pronghorn well past 500m. &nbsp;However, if there are multiple targets that might be as close to me as 1 meter, and which are shooting back at me (unlike a pronghorn), then I definitely want a detachable-magazine and semi-automatic rifle with which I can fire a large amount of lead downrange very quickly. &nbsp;If, per chance, you live in a truly free nation where your right to bear arms has <em>not</em> been infringed, then, by all means, consider a select-fire version with both semi-automatic and full-automatic (or 3-shot burst) capability. &nbsp;Everyone should know and abide by their local gun laws, no matter how Draconian, illogical, and unconstitutional they may be. &nbsp;These laws are for your protection/sarc. &nbsp;I will leave the pump action for shotguns, and the lever action in my saddle scabbard and for SASS (Life Member).</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">Next, lets talk about caliber, which is the size of the ammunition. &nbsp;<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_rifle">Plagerizing Wikipedia</a>, a <em>battle rifle</em> is a military service rifle that fires a full-power rifle cartridge such as 7.62×51mm NATO or 7.62×54mmR. Compared to <em>assault rifles</em> and their intermediate cartridges, the higher-caliber rounds provide greater power and range, though they render magazine capacity low and produce strong recoil, making them less than ideal for fully automatic fire. &nbsp;And the rifles and ammunition are heavy to carry, especially for older folks that are out of shape. Here are three examples:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;"><a href="http://blog.springfield-armory.com/which-m1a-rifle-is-right-for-you">M14 or new M1A</a>&nbsp;</span></p> <p><a href="http://www.dsarms.com/p-14234-dsa-fal-sa58-para-ctc-rifle-1625-medium-contour-fluted-barrel.aspx">FN FAL or new clone</a>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="http://www.atlanticfirearms.com/component/virtuemart/shipping-rifles/century-arms-c308-sporter-detail.html?Itemid=0">HK-91 or new clone</a>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;"><em>Assault rifles</em> are lighter and less powerful than a <em>battle rifle</em>. &nbsp;The two most common in the world are the Russian AK-47 (7.62x39) and the American M16 (5.56mm / .223). These Cold War era rifles have faced each other in conflicts since the early 1960s and remain the subject of countless comparisons and endless internet debate. &nbsp;I own versions of both rifles, and my general assessment is that AKs are heavier and less accurate because they are usually mass produced with heavy steel parts (rolled and stamped) by vodka-soaked commies working on cold-dark assembly lines. &nbsp;Whereas M16s are lighter because they are made with molded plastic and precision machined aluminum by beer-breathed rednecks working on CAD computers and expensive CNC machines, and less reliable because they are designed to shit where they eat (gas operated).</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">It is important to note that both the AK-47 and M16 were originally designed as select-fire rifles by two brilliant men, respectively, Mikhail Kalashnikov and Eugene Stoner. &nbsp;This means they are intended to have both semi-automatic and full-automatic capability. &nbsp;Full auto means that when the trigger is pulled the rifle keeps firing at a high rate until the trigger is released, or the ammo runs out (very quickly), where semi-auto fires only once per trigger pull. &nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">In my best Boris Alotovkrap accent: In Soviet Amerika, idiot politician has force genius design basterdized, because politboro decide only supreme government employees can be trusted to possess full-auto capability to defend Motherland (with few very expensive and very burdensome fascist exceptions of course).</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">We are told this is not tyranny, nor does it infringe on our natural right to bear arms.</span></p> <p><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user12162/imageroot/2016/06/30/hypocrit.jpg" width="634" height="408" /></p> <p>Clearly...</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>"All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>-Orwell's Animal Farm</p> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">Again, I beg of you to please...</span></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>11. &nbsp;Read The Law, by Frédéric Bastiat.</p> <p>12. &nbsp;Make a list of your natural rights.</p> <p>13. &nbsp;Read The Constitution of the United States and The Bill of Rights.</p> <p>14. &nbsp;Read Animal Farm, by George Orwell.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-01-06/hedgelesshorsemans-revolutionary-call-arm" title="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-01-06/hedgelesshorsemans-revolutionary-call-arm">http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-01-06/hedgelesshorsemans-revolutionar...</a><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">s</span></p> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">It is important to understand that the civilian version of the M-16 assault rifles, the AR-15 and short barreled version designated M-4, are different and less capable than the original design in use by the tax-payer-funded government employees. Also, both the AK and AR have experienced subsequent redesigns to gerry rig other calibers, such as the AK-74 and AR-10, with less than superior results.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">Another important fact to consider is that battle rifles and their ammunition are much heavier than assault rifles. &nbsp;When you add a magnified optic and an additional 60 to 260 rounds of ammunition, this weight difference really adds up, especially since very few rifle battles are fought entirely from the sitting position, with a bench rest, in the shade, at the rifle range, which you drove to in your air conditioned truck.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">For example:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">6.9 lbs for M4 w/ 30 rounds&nbsp;</span></p> <p>10.5 lbs for AK-47 w/ 30 rounds</p> <p>10.7 lbs for M1A w/ 20 rounds</p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">Remember my mantra for the GBH pack/Bug-Out-Bag:</span></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">In general, when given a choice, always choose the lighter weight and/or more expensive option. &nbsp;Lighter weight is fast. &nbsp;Lighter weight uses much less energy.</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2012-19-10/fear-we-are-returning-time-history-where-it-common-occurrence-fight-ones-life" title="http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2012-19-10/fear-we-are-returning-time-history-where-it-common-occurrence-fight-ones-life">http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2012-19-10/fear-we-are-returning-ti...</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-10/elevated-freeways-are-perfect-kill-zones" title="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-10/elevated-freeways-are-perfect-kill-zones">http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-10/elevated-freeways-are-perfect-k...</a></p> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">I will say that I still employ the very light and highly reliable FN FiveseveN and PS90 as mentioned in those articles. &nbsp;They are great Personal Defense Weapons (PDW), and I trust my life to them, but I wouldn't want to use a PDW as a rifleman fighting for my liberty.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">The good news is that there are newer rifles that blend the reliability of the AK's gas piston with the accuracy and lighter weight of the AR, and do so in a design that was meant to accommodate either 5.56 or 7.62 from its inception. The downside is that these new rifles are more expensive. &nbsp;So? &nbsp;Sell some stocks (preferably ALLY, CACC, and the Danish banks) and fund the fun. &nbsp;I am no tax lawyer, thank the Lord, but I think that security is a legitimate business expense. &nbsp;No?</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">Here are my three favorite traditional style rifles that meet all of my requirements. &nbsp;All are top shelf and will make you the envy of everyone down at The Club. &nbsp;Choose the 5.56 option unless you are a very fit BAMF, then maybe consider the heavier 7.62, especially if you live out west with wide open spaces.</span></p> <p><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user12162/imageroot/2016/06/30/rifle%20sig%20516.jpg" width="633" height="348" /></p> <p><strong><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">Sig Sauer 516/716 Patrol&nbsp;</span></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.sigsauer.com/CatalogProductList/rifles-sig516.aspx" title="http://www.sigsauer.com/CatalogProductList/rifles-sig516.aspx">http://www.sigsauer.com/CatalogProductList/rifles-sig516.aspx</a> &nbsp;</p> <p><a href="http://www.sigsauer.com/CatalogProductList/rifles-sig716.aspx" title="http://www.sigsauer.com/CatalogProductList/rifles-sig716.aspx">http://www.sigsauer.com/CatalogProductList/rifles-sig716.aspx</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user12162/imageroot/2016/06/30/HK.jpg" width="680" height="307" /></p> <p><strong>H&amp;K MR556A1/MR762A1</strong></p> <p><a href="http://hk-usa.com/product/rifles/" title="http://hk-usa.com/product/rifles/">http://hk-usa.com/product/rifles/</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user12162/imageroot/2016/06/30/rifle%20scar.jpg" width="1024" height="385" /></p> <p><strong>FN SCAR 16S/Light 5.56/ 17S/Heavy 7.62</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.fnamerica.com/products/tactical/scar-series/scar-16/" title="https://www.fnamerica.com/products/tactical/scar-series/scar-16/">https://www.fnamerica.com/products/tactical/scar-series/scar-16/</a></p> <p><a href="https://www.fnamerica.com/products/tactical/scar-series/scar-17/" title="https://www.fnamerica.com/products/tactical/scar-series/scar-17/">https://www.fnamerica.com/products/tactical/scar-series/scar-17/</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sadly, yes, they are all European rifles. &nbsp;Maybe someone will make a good argument for a high quality American-made piston rifle in the comments section below, but the US Military sure does like my three European choices.</p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">Regarding barrel length, get the standard version, and avoid the Federal tax and registration of the shorter barrels. &nbsp;It is good to be able to buy and sell a rifle at garage sales without reporting it to Big Brother. &nbsp;Buy a <a href="http://www.sigsauer.com/CatalogProductDetails/p516-7-5-pistol-with-sb15-pistol-stabilizing-brace.aspx">Sig P16 pistol</a>, in addition to the 16" carbine, if you feel you must have a short barrel too. &nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">If you don't want to hold up a long and heavy barrel, or are small in stature, or a woman, or want to have the same rifle as your wife and kids, like I do, then consider these even more recent designs that are highly compact gas-piston bullpups, with shorter total lengths and ergonomics similar to the PS90, but in heavier and more powerful calibers. &nbsp;The Tavor is Israel's current military service rifle, and this newer version of the civilian model is supposed to be even better than the first. &nbsp;I have generally not liked Kel-Tec products (probably a victim of the fallacy that price adds value), but after some familiarization I ordered some of these new .308 bullpups, in the hope that they may someday replace my beloved FNs. &nbsp;We will see. &nbsp;It appears the Tavor will only be available in the 5.56 and 9mm.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user12162/imageroot/2016/06/30/rifle%20jerusalem-tavor4-920x613.jpg" width="920" height="613" /></p> <p><strong>Tavor X95 5.56</strong> </p> <p><a href="https://iwi.us/Law-Enforcement/Firearms/X95.aspx" title="https://iwi.us/Law-Enforcement/Firearms/X95.aspx">https://iwi.us/Law-Enforcement/Firearms/X95.aspx</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user12162/imageroot/2016/06/30/rifle%20keltec%20RDB_ACOG.jpg" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p><strong>Kel-Tec RDB 5.56 / RFB 7.62</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.keltecweapons.com/our-guns/pistol/rdb" title="http://www.keltecweapons.com/our-guns/pistol/rdb">http://www.keltecweapons.com/our-guns/pistol/rdb</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.keltecweapons.com/our-guns/rifle/rfb" title="http://www.keltecweapons.com/our-guns/rifle/rfb">http://www.keltecweapons.com/our-guns/rifle/rfb</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">A quick sidebar about color and camouflage on a rifle. &nbsp;The human eye is very good at picking out a black rifle at a distance. &nbsp;A man carrying a long black object just screams, "rifle," or at least it does to my brain. I like to say that in a fire fight, the guy with the biggest and blackest rifle gets shot first. &nbsp;I believe that <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simo_H%C3%A4yh%C3%A4">Simo Häyhä</a> would agree. &nbsp;This is why I spray paint my very expensive rifles and optics in banded patterns of flat tan, brown, and/or green Krylon paint. &nbsp;You may choose to purchase your rifle from the factory in those colors. &nbsp;Functional dark earth (FDE) brown or Desert Tan are better for dry areas such as the western USA. &nbsp;Olive drab (OD) green is better for wooded areas such as the Eastern USA. &nbsp;Grey is gaining in popularity for urban environments. &nbsp;And of course white is best if, like The White Death Simo Häyhä, you find yourself fighting in the snow.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">If your spouse is pissed about how much you are spending on a rifle, don't mention the magnified optic and tritium iron sights you are going to put on it. A rifle is only as good as the sights, especially if you are over 30 years old. &nbsp;In my opinion, for our purpose here in this article, you simply cannot beat a Trijicon ACOG (no batteries, good glass, good reticle design, and absolutely bomb proof) in combination with a set of 45 degree offset Dueck Defense RTS Night Sights. &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;"><a href="https://www.trijicon.com/na_en/products/product3.php?pid=TA31F">TA31F: Trijicon 4x32 ACOG, Dual Illuminated Red Chevron <strong>.223</strong> Ballistic Reticle w/ TA51 Flattop Mount&nbsp;</a></span></p> <p>...<em>or</em> this one for the 7.62/.308 rifles...</p> <p><a href="https://www.trijicon.com/na_en/products/product3c.php?pid=TA11E">TA11E: Trijicon ACOG 3.5x35 Scope, Dual Illuminated Red Chevron BAC <strong>.308</strong> Flattop Reticle w/ TA51 Mount</a></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">...<em>and</em>&nbsp;a set of these...</span></p> <p><a href="https://dueckdefense.com/shop/firearms/rifles/rapid-transition-sight-with-trijicon-night-sights-set-front-rear/" style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">Dueck Defense 45 degree Rapid Transition Sight with Trijicon Night Sights</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user12162/imageroot/2016/06/30/Dueck-Defense-_0.jpg" width="500" height="333" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="http://www.urbanertslings.com/click-here-to-build-your-urban-sentry-two-point-one-point-hybrid-sling/" style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">To carry your rifle get an Urban Sentry Hybrid Sling in matching Coyote, Olive Drab, or Grey&nbsp;</a></p> <p><a href="https://www.blueforcegear.com/gear/chest-rigs" style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">To carry additional magazines, get a Blue Force TenSpeed chest rig in matching Coyote, Olive Drab, or Grey</a></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">To protect your sight and hearing get and wear good eye and ear protection, ear muffs, not ear plugs. &nbsp;I like the Wiley-X and Smith shooting glasses.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">You can get bulk ammo online at <a href="http://www.ammunitiontogo.com/index.php/cName/rifle-ammo-223-556">Ammunition To Go</a>. &nbsp;You will want to start with at least 2,000 rounds and build from there, as you can easily shoot more than 500 rounds in a single weekend of training.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">A range card is not necessary, because both the ACOG and RTS have built-in ranging capability.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;"><a href="http://www.brownells.com/gun-cleaning-chemicals/cleaning-kits/rifle-cleaning-kits/ar-15-m16-308-ar-m-pro-7-cleaning-kit-prod30925.aspx">You will want to have a cleaning kit something like this.</a>&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">Order at least 20 factory magazines to start, a couple of spare firing pins, and a spring set.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">I am not a fan of suppressors, because of the registration requirement and the extra weight. &nbsp;Get one if you feel that you must, but put it in the name of a gun trust. &nbsp;I hear that the waiting period is currently a few months.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">After you take some tactical rifle classes, start shooting your rifle more, gain some proficiency, and begin to read, learn, and think more about fire fights, you will likely learn that there is a trade off between the operational security of a single rifleman and the far greater effectiveness of a fire team. &nbsp;To that end, I will end the article with a bit about modern day militias excerpted from the website of one here in Texas:</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;"><a href="http://texasmilitia.info/" title="http://texasmilitia.info/">http://texasmilitia.info/</a></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As an all volunteer force the militia differs from the military. All of our Texas Militia units are autonomous. No militia unit commands any other militia unit and we do not need a state militia commander or a centralized militia command which could be taken out or compromised. All patriots are encouraged to start at least a 3 man fire team in their neighborhood or area and build up from there.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is good if you have had some military training but realize that militia tactics differ from military tactics.The goals of military tactics are to rapidly take and then hold ground while incurring acceptable losses. The militia has no need to rapidly take ground and no need to hold ground. Rather than incur acceptable losses the militia must minimize losses. The military has body armor, medevac, doctors, and hospitals, while the militia has no medevac, no doctors, no hospitals, and few have body armor. The military has re-supply and nearly all the ammo they want while militia resources are limited and our only re-supply would be what we could take from the invaders. The militia trains to fight an extended war of hit and run attrition until the invaders lose the will to fight. The militia teaches guerrilla warfare modified military tactics not military sweep through with acceptable losses tactics.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Our militia training is free of charge. Our training is focused on small unit light infantry combat tactics.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We will practice ambushes, counter-ambushes, and patrolling. We will also have class room type training so bring a note book and a pencil too. Our force on force small unit light infantry battle training with blanks will be conducted as combat simulations to learn from not as games.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Your first mistake on a battlefield could be your last mistake. We all need to train and we need to train often. Most men are already proficient with a rifle. What you can learn training with us are small unit light infantry combat tactics, how to fight as a team, the art of fire and maneuver, and how to train a local defense group to fight as a team.</p> </blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As it says on New Hampshire license plates, LIVE FREE OF DIE. &nbsp;Ironic, don't you think, considering the wide spread use of license plate readers by the government that requires licenses to travel freely.</p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">Si vis pacem, para bellum, God bless the United States of America and especially Texas, and God bless each of you dear ZeroHedge readers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">h_h</span></p> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-30/well-regulated-militia-being-necessary-security-free-state#comments B+ BAC Federal Tax George Orwell Kalashnikov Fri, 01 Jul 2016 00:51:26 +0000 hedgeless_horseman 564883 at http://www.zerohedge.com The Militarization Of The US Goes Beyond Police Departments" http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-30/militarization-us-goes-beyond-police-departments <p><a href="http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/The-Militarization-of-the-US-Goes-Beyond-Police-Departments-20160627-0030.html"><em>Originally posted at TelesurTV.net,</em></a></p> <p><strong>Nonmilitary federal agencies have spent almost US$1.5 billion on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment.</strong></p> <p><img alt=" The Internal Revenue Service spent nearly US$11 million on arms." height="340" src="http://www.telesurtv.net/__export/1467235343649/sites/telesur/img/2016/06/27/militarization-police.jpg_1718483346.jpg" title=" The Internal Revenue Service spent nearly US$11 million on arms. | Foto: Archive" width="600" /></p> <div class="txt_newworld"> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>A new report by a taxpayer watchdog group reveals that the growing militarization in the United States goes beyond police departments by showing how nonmilitary federal agencies are arming themselves like military units.</strong></p> <p>The report &ldquo;<a href="https://www.openthebooks.com/assets/1/7/Oversight_TheMilitarizationOfAmerica_06102016.pdf" target="_blank">The Militarization of America</a>&rdquo; examines government expenditures by 67 federal agencies between 2006 and 2014 and found that they spent US$1.48 billion stockpiling guns, ammunition and other military-style equipment.</p> <p>&ldquo;The recent growth of the federal arsenal begs the questions: Just who are the feds planning to battle?&rdquo; American Tranparency&rsquo;s Adam Andrzejewski, the author of the report, <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/adamandrzejewski/2016/06/21/an-assault-weapons-ban-for-the-irs-and-other-federal-regulatory-agencies/?ftag=MSF0951a18#65494a0f6924">recently wrote in Forbes</a>.</p> <p>The report states that <em><strong>&ldquo;administrative agencies including the Food and Drug Administration, Small Business Administration, Smithsonian Institution, Social Security Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Mint, Department of Education, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and many other agencies purchased guns, ammo, and military-style equipment.&rdquo;</strong></em></p> <p>For example, the Internal Revenue Service spent nearly US$11 million arming itself, while the Environmental Protection Agency spent US$3.1 million.</p> <p>The report also states: &ldquo;The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service spent US$4.77 million purchasing shotguns, .308 caliber rifles, night vision goggles, propane cannons, liquid explosives, pyro supplies, buckshot, LP gas cannons, drones, remote controlled helicopters, thermal cameras, military waterproof thermal infrared scopes, and more.&rdquo;</p> <p><em><strong>&ldquo;As the Obama administration and its allies are pushing hard for an assault weapons ban on private citizens, taxpayers are asking why IRS agents need AR-15s,&rdquo;</strong></em> wrote report author Andrzejewski. <em><strong>&ldquo;After grabbing legal power, federal bureaucrats are amassing firepower. It&rsquo;s time to scale back the federal arsenal.&rdquo;</strong></em></p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p>Full report below:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"><a href="https://www.scribd.com/doc/317180265/Oversight-TheMilitarizationOfAmerica-06102016" style="text-decoration: underline;" title="View Oversight TheMilitarizationOfAmerica 06102016 on Scribd">Oversight TheMilitarizationOfAmerica 06102016</a></p> <p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_62315" scrolling="no" src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/317180265/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;show_recommendations=true&amp;show_upsell=true" width="100%"></iframe> </p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p><em><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Are they arming themselves against terrorists or you?</strong></span></em></p> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="1482" height="885" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20160630_mil.jpg?1467332222" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-30/militarization-us-goes-beyond-police-departments#comments Obama Administration Fri, 01 Jul 2016 00:45:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 564882 at http://www.zerohedge.com Judicial Watch Demands DOJ Inspector General Probe Into "Scandalous" Lynch-Clinton Meeting http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-30/judicial-watch-demands-doj-inspector-general-probe-scandalous-lynch-clinton-meeting <p>The political scandal of the day <a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-30/bill-clinton-holds-private-meeting-loretta-lynch-fbi-probes-hillary">was the news </a>that on Monday evening (coincidentally just before the Benghazi report was released), Bill Clinton and US Attorney General Loretta Lynch just happened to meet on the tarmac at a Phoenix airport - totally unplanned of course. Clinton saw the attorney general and wanted to say hello, so Clinton boarded Lynch's plane to talk for a bit. Sure, just a quick chat about the weather, his putting stroke, anything except oh, say, an update on what was about to be released on Benghazi, and especially not an update on the ongoing FBI investigation into Hillary.</p> <p>"<strong>Our conversation was a great deal about his grandchildren. It was primarily social and about our travels</strong>. He mentioned the golf he played in Phoenix, and he mentioned travels he'd had in West Virginia. There was no discussion of any matter pending for the department or any matter pending for any other body. <strong>There was no discussion of Benghazi, no discussion of the State Department emails, by way of example</strong>" Lynch told reporters.</p> <p> <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/sRWDP-PWunE" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While Lynch claims it was a completely random encounter with Hillary Clinton's husband, even Barack Obama's former advisor David Axelrod admitted that the meeting created "bad optics"</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">I take <a href="https://twitter.com/LorettaLynch">@LorettaLynch</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/billclinton">@billclinton</a> at their word that their convo in Phoenix didn't touch on probe. But foolish to create such optics.</p> <p>— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) <a href="https://twitter.com/davidaxelrod/status/748491081302552576">June 30, 2016</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><p>Sensing an opportunity to drive home a point about the Clintons' lack of judgment, <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/286121-trump-lynch-clinton-meeting-horrible">Trump quickly pounced on the meeting</a>. </p> <p>"It is an amazing thing," Trump said during an interview on the Mike Gallagher Show, noting the pair met on an airplane at the Phoenix airport. "It was really a sneak. It was something they didn't want publicized, as I understand it," Trump said, regarding the meeting Monday night.&nbsp; "I think it's so terrible; I think it's so horrible. I think it's one of the big stories of this week, of this month, of this year," Trump continued.</p> <p>"How bad a judgment is it for him or for her to do this? Who would do this?” Trump asked. </p> <p>it won't end there. Moments ago, conservative watchdog organization Judicial Watch <a href="http://www.judicialwatch.org/document-archive/doj-ig-complaint-clinton-lynch-june-30-2016/">today requested </a>that the DOJ's Office of the Inspector General investigate the meeting yesterday between Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch: </p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Attorney General Loretta Lynch met privately with former President William J. Clinton on board a parked private plane on the west side of Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona on June 29, 2016, according to multiple press reports.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>President Clinton is the spouse of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former Secretary of State, who is purportedly the subject of a national security crime investigation pertaining to the mishandling of national defense information processed by Mrs. Clinton’s personal server during her tenure as secretary.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Additionally, there are press reports that a federal public corruption investigation is on-going concerning conflicts of interest and abuse of official government office involving the financial “commitments” to the Clinton Foundation, speaking fees for President Clinton and former Secretary Clinton’s official acts. <strong>President Clinton may be a target of that investigation.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Attorney General Lynch’s meeting with President Clinton creates the appearance of a violation of law, ethical standards and good judgment</strong>. Attorney General Lynch’s decision to breach the well-defined ethical standards of the Department of Justice and the American legal profession is an outrageous abuse of the public’s trust. Her conduct and statements undermine confidence in her ability to objectively investigate and prosecute possible violations of law associated with President Clinton and Secretary Clinton. This incident undermines the public’s faith in the fair administration of justice. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Simply stated, Attorney General Lynch’s June 29, 2016 meeting with former President Clinton creates the broad public impression that “the fix is in.”</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Judicial Watch requests your immediate and thorough investigation of the facts, circumstances, and appearances of ethical, regulatory and legal violations by Attorney General Lynch in connection with her meeting with former President William J. Clinton – and that you report your findings and recommendations to the American public.</p> </blockquote> <p>Judicial Watch cites in its complaint 18 USC §§ 202 – 209; Executive Order 12674 on Principles of Ethical Conduct as amended by EO 12731; Uniform Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, 5 CFR Part 2635; Department of Justice regulations, 5 CFR Part 3801; Department of Justice regulations, 28 CFR Part 45; Executive branch standards of conduct, 5 USC § 735; and, United States Department of Justice Ethics Handbook for On and Off-Duty Conduct, 14 Principles for Ethical Conduct:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>“14. Employees shall endeavor to avoid any actions creating the appearance that they are violating the law or the ethical standards set forth in this part. Whether particular circumstances create an appearance that the law or these standards have been violated shall be determined from the perspective of a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>5 C.F.R 2635.101 (b) </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“An employee shall endeavor to avoid any actions creating the appearance that the employee is violating the law or the ethical standards set forth in this part.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>5 CFR 2635.101(b)(14)</p> </blockquote> <p>As Judicial Watch concludes: “Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s meeting with Bill Clinton severely undermined the already low public confidence in her agency’s criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “In addition to this IG investigation, Judicial Watch has already sent Freedom of Information Act requests about this scandalous meeting.”</p> <p>Of course, even if the IG does grant the Judicial Watch request, following today's news that the state department is <a href="http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/286195-feds-ask-for-27-month-delay-in-release-of-clinton-aides-emails">seeking a 27 month delay </a>for the release of Clinton Foundation emails, we would expect that this probe would be concluded some time in November of 2024, just as Hillary is handing over the dynastic scepter to Chelsea. </p> <p><a href="https://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-asks-justice-inspector-general-investigate-loretta-lynch-bill-clinton-meeting/"><em>Source</em></a></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="485" height="348" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/lynch%20phoenix.jpg?1467327009" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-30/judicial-watch-demands-doj-inspector-general-probe-scandalous-lynch-clinton-meeting#comments B+ Corruption Department of Justice FBI Freedom of Information Act Judicial Watch national security Fri, 01 Jul 2016 00:17:58 +0000 Tyler Durden 564879 at http://www.zerohedge.com Could The IRS Empty Your Bank Account? http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-30/could-irs-empty-your-bank-account <p><a href="http://reason.com/archives/2016/06/30/could-the-irs-empty-your-bank"><em>Submitted by Robert Everett Johnson &amp; Nick Sibilla via Reason.com,</em></a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em><strong>UPDATE: Yesterday,&nbsp;the federal government <a href="http://ij.org/press-release/victory-maryland-dairy-farmer/">announced</a> that it will return $29,500 seized from Maryland dairy farmer Randy Sowers.</strong>&nbsp;&quot;This is exactly what we wanted,&quot; said Sowers in press release from the Institute for Justice, the public interest law firm that worked with him on the case. <strong>&quot;I hope they give other people&#39;s money back. And beyond that I just hope they quit taking people&#39;s money.&quot;</strong></em></p> </blockquote> <p><u><strong>When the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) came to visit Randy Sowers, it had already seized his entire bank account&mdash;over $60,000.</strong></u> The IRS agents, two clean-cut types in dark blue jackets, came unannounced to the dairy farm, South Mountain Creamery, that Randy and his wife have run for more than 30 years.</p> <p>The agents began asking Sowers a series of strange questions: Why did he deposit cash at the bank? Why were so many of his cash deposits in amounts under $10,000? Did he know that cash deposits over $10,000 were reported to the federal government?</p> <p>Sowers answered the questions as best he could. The farm deposited cash because it sold milk at farmers markets. A bank teller had told them that deposits over $10,000 required additional paperwork, but the Sowers had no idea what that paperwork consisted of. They limited the size of their deposits only because they thought it made life easier for the bank workers. The agents nodded, seemingly satisfied. They said they did not believe he was a criminal. Nonetheless, they finally told him, his bank account had been seized.</p> <p><strong>Unbeknownst to him, Sowers&#39; bank deposits had landed him at the intersection of a number of disturbing trends in American law: draconian civil forfeiture, the overcriminalization of everyday life, and the government&#39;s increasing hostility to cash as a medium of financial exchange.</strong></p> <h2><u><strong>Guilty Money</strong></u></h2> <p>Like hundreds of other Americans, Sowers was targeted because he had run afoul of a sprawling government surveillance program aimed at the nation&#39;s financial system. Federal law requires banks to report all cash transactions over $10,000 to the federal government. Federal law also makes it a crime, called <em>structuring</em>, for bank customers to deposit or withdraw cash in amounts under $10,000 in order to avoid that reporting requirement.</p> <p>IRS agents across the country, often in cooperation with state and local law enforcement, monitor banking activity for frequent sub-$10,000 cash transactions. The IRS can then use civil forfeiture to seize entire bank accounts that it believes were involved in &quot;structured&quot; transactions.</p> <p>Because these cases are brought against the property in question&mdash;the Sowers&#39; case was captioned <em>United States v. $62,936.04 in U.S. Currency&mdash;</em>protections that govern criminal proceedings do not apply. Owners of &quot;guilty&quot; property have no right to counsel. Without ever having to secure a criminal conviction (or even file charges), the federal government is excused from its obligation to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Officials can seize property based on mere suspicion of a crime and effectively force property owners to prove their own innocence to get it back.</p> <p><strong>Moreover, when the IRS takes property using civil forfeiture, that property goes into a special federal fund, the Treasury Forfeiture Fund, which allows the IRS to fund its law enforcement activities</strong>. That arrangement provides an incentive for the IRS to seize as much property as possible, even when the property owner may have done nothing wrong. In 2014, the net position for the fund (that is, the amount retained after paying obligations) was $1.9 billion, a staggering rise from $69 million in 1993, the year after the fund was created.</p> <p>In theory, this system is supposed to root out criminals seeking to hide their activities from the government. In practice, its targets are all too often small-business owners guilty of nothing more than doing business in cash.</p> <p>Many of these stories begin the same way as Sowers&#39;: A bank teller, unhappy at having to fill out government paperwork, suggests to a customer that life would be easier if he kept his deposits under $10,000. Neither the teller nor the customer has any idea that evading that paperwork is a federal crime.</p> <p>Other business owners have similarly innocent reasons for keeping cash deposits under $10,000. For example, the insurance policy for Michigan grocery store owner Terry Dekho only covered cash up to $10,000. Other businesses, such as Mark Zaniewski&#39;s gas station near Detroit, simply do not generate more than $10,000 in cash revenue in the time between bank deposits. The IRS seized the bank accounts for both businesses without even asking for an explanation for the pattern of sub-$10,000 deposits.</p> <p><strong>A 2015 Institute for Justice report found that between 2005 and 2012 the IRS seized more than $242 million for alleged structuring violations in over 2,500 cases. In at least a third of those cases, the IRS reported no suspected criminal activity apart from the mere act of depositing or withdrawing amounts under $10,000.</strong></p> <h2><u><strong>No More Secrets</strong></u></h2> <p>This federal surveillance program traces its origins to the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970. For the first time, the federal government required banks to report cash transactions over $10,000. The law was explicit in its aims, stating that Congress believed these reports would have a &quot;high degree of usefulness in criminal, tax, or regulatory investigations or proceedings.&quot;</p> <p>Largely accepted today, the Bank Secrecy Act was controversial when adopted, narrowly surviving a vigorous legal challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the California Bankers Association, and several individual bank customers. A three-judge district court panel ruled against the law shortly after it was enacted, holding 2&ndash;1 that the &quot;domestic reporting provisions&quot; were &quot;repugnant to the Fourth Amendment.&quot;</p> <p>The U.S. Supreme Court reversed, upholding the law in its 1974 decision <em>California Bankers Association v. Shultz</em>. Writing for the majority, Justice William Rehnquist conceded that the act &quot;might well surprise or even shock those who lived in an earlier era&quot; but upheld the law as a necessary response to &quot;the heavy utilization of our domestic banking system by the minions of organized crime.&quot;</p> <p><strong>In an acerbic dissent, Justice William Douglas argued that it was &quot;sheer nonsense&quot; to suggest that &quot;all bank records of every citizen &#39;have a high degree of usefulness.&#39;&quot; &quot;Suppose Congress passed a law requiring telephone companies to record and retain all telephone calls and make them available to any federal agency on request,&quot; he presciently suggested. &quot;Would we hesitate even a moment before striking it down?&quot;</strong></p> <p>Although the Bank Secrecy Act and its reporting requirements were considered constitutional, structuring was not yet an explicit crime. Until the mid-1980s, people could lawfully skirt federal bank reporting requirements by splitting up transactions to keep them under the $10,000 threshold. Even the Comptroller General conceded in a 1981 report to Congress that &quot;the regulations were silent on the propriety of a customer&#39;s conducting multiple transactions to avoid reporting.&quot;</p> <p>Absent explicit law prohibiting structuring, federal prosecutors devised convoluted legal arguments. In one case, a man who bought multiple checks that collectively topped $10,000 was charged and convicted under an aiding and abetting theory. Fortunately for him, the 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturned his conviction, citing &quot;ambiguity&quot; with the reporting law. &quot;We cannot engage in unprincipled interpretation of the law, lest we foment lawlessness instead of compliance,&quot; the court unanimously ruled in its 1985 decision <em>United States v. Anzalone</em>. Other federal appellate courts soon followed the 1st Circuit&#39;s lead in rebuffing criminal liability for structuring.</p> <p><strong>Congress had other ideas.</strong> Partly to &quot;negate the effect&quot; of cases like <em>Anzalone</em>, Congress explicitly prohibited &quot;structuring transactions to evade reporting requirements&quot; as part of the omnibus Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. &quot;The implicit message,&quot; one law review article noted, &quot;is that no legitimate reason exists to keep large cash transactions secret.&quot;</p> <h2><u><strong>A Moment of Sanity</strong></u></h2> <p>In 1994, the Supreme Court tried to rein in structuring laws. This one, short-lived push for privacy began with some staggeringly bad luck during a night of gambling. Waldemar Ratzlaf and his wife, Loretta, were high rollers, with established credit lines at 15 different casinos in Nevada and New Jersey. On October 20, 1988, Waldemar managed to lose $160,000 playing blackjack at the High Sierra Casino in Reno. The casino gave the Ratzlafs one week to pay up.</p> <p>True to their word, the Ratzlafs returned with cash to settle their debt. Since any transaction above $10,000 would have to be reported to the authorities, a casino official suggested that the casino could accept a cashier&#39;s check instead. The High Sierra even offered a limo and a casino employee to help Waldemar purchase checks, each for under $10,000 and all at separate banks.</p> <p>One year later, a federal grand jury indicted Waldemar on &quot;four counts of structuring currency transactions to evade reporting requirements.&quot; He was convicted and sentenced to 15 months imprisonment. Both a federal district court and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld his convictions.</p> <p>Just when it seemed Waldemar&#39;s luck couldn&#39;t get any worse, the Supreme Court overturned his convictions in <em>Ratzlaf v. United States</em>. The Court was plainly concerned about the anti-structuring provision&#39;s potentially broad sweep. Contrary to the government&#39;s claim that &quot;structuring is not the kind of activity that an ordinary person would engage in innocently,&quot; the Court observed that &quot;currency structuring is not inevitably nefarious.&quot; The Court suggested that a small business owner might even reasonably structure cash transactions &quot;to reduce the risk of an IRS audit.&quot;</p> <p>These concerns led the Court to narrowly interpret the structuring statute. At the time, the law contained language requiring that defendants had &quot;willfully&quot; violated the law. For the Supreme Court, that requirement meant the government had to show &quot;both &#39;knowledge of the reporting requirement&#39; <em>and</em> a &#39;specific intent to commit the crime,&#39; <em>i.e.,</em> &#39;a purpose to disobey the law.&#39;&quot; In other words, ignorance of the law would be an excuse in a structuring case.</p> <p>As a result, criminal structuring prosecutions plummeted. A 1995 <em>Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology</em> article reported that &quot;since the <em>Ratzlaf</em> decision, not one defendant has been convicted for structuring currency transactions.&quot;</p> <p>But Congress moved quickly to undo the Supreme Court decision. The Money Laundering Suppression Act eliminated the word &quot;willfully&quot; from the statute and clarified that it &quot;requires only an intent to evade reporting requirements, not proof that the defendant knew that structuring was illegal.&quot; In September 1994, a mere eight months after the Supreme Court&#39;s decision, President Bill Clinton signed these changes into law.</p> <h2><u><strong>Expanding Surveillance</strong></u></h2> <p>Since <em>Ratzlaf</em>, the government has continued to ratchet up its data collection and enforcement efforts. More than 15 million currency transaction reports were filed in 2014, or over 41,000 every day. By comparison, in 1975, one year after the Supreme Court upheld the Bank Secrecy Act, a mere 3,418 such reports were filed.</p> <p>Not surprisingly, those reports have helped law enforcement seize assets. Back in 2008, the Government Accountability Office surveyed local and state agencies that had access to currency transaction report data. More than half said the reports &quot;identified assets that were previously unknown, including those that could be used for forfeiture action.&quot;</p> <p><strong>Today, the scale and scope of data collection under the Bank Secrecy Act has metastasized dramatically</strong>. According to a 2015 speech by Jennifer Shasky Calvery, the director of the Treasury Department&#39;s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), data acquired under the Bank Secrecy Act &quot;includes nearly 190 million records.&quot; FinCEN also has granted &quot;more than 10,000 agents, analysts, and investigative personnel from over 350 unique agencies across the U.S. Government with direct access to the reporting,&quot; Calvery noted.</p> <p><strong>Yet amid this expanding federal dragnet, one aspect of the structuring law has remained static: the $10,000 reporting threshold. </strong>That figure was set in 1970 and has not changed since. Simply adjusting for inflation would mean it would easily top $60,000 in 2016.</p> <p>As federal bank reporting laws have become more onerous, banks have begun to close accounts of businesses that make frequent deposits over $10,000. Jeff, Richard, and Mitchell Hirsch, three brothers on Long Island who own a convenience store distribution business, had three banks close their accounts in quick succession. To reduce the paperwork burdens for the banks, and hopefully avoid having their accounts closed in the future, their accountant advised them to keep deposits under $10,000. They did so, and in May 2012 the IRS seized their entire account&mdash;over $446,000. It took the Hirsch brothers almost three years of litigation to get that money back.</p> <h2><u><strong>Stuck in Limbo</strong></u></h2> <p>Despite its size and ubiquity, this government surveillance program operates outside the awareness of most ordinary Americans. Congress designed it that way: Federal law prohibits banks from informing customers that their transactions have been flagged and reported.</p> <p><strong>When a bank account is targeted for civil forfeiture, the property owner typically learns about it only after the contents have been seized. The IRS does not provide any prior notice or opportunity to offer an innocent explanation for a series of under-$10,000 cash transactions.</strong></p> <p>Courts instead approve seizures on the basis of one-sided affidavits submitted by law enforcement, frequently in sealed court proceedings. The affidavits are formulaic, containing long, boilerplate recitations describing the structuring laws and a table listing a series of under-$10,000 cash transactions. In Randy Sowers&#39; case, the affidavit concluded that &quot;cash was repeatedly deposited in amounts just below the [currency] reporting requirement threshold (i.e. between $8,000 and $10,000)&quot; and that this bare pattern of deposits demonstrated &quot;a concerted effort to keep cash deposits just below that amount.&quot;</p> <p>After cash has been seized, property owners must wait a minimum of 120 days to get into court, and they must file two separate claims to preserve their right to their property. Even once the property owner is before a judge, litigation can stretch on for months, even years. The Institute for Justice report found that the average structuring case between 2005 and 2012 took almost a year to resolve, with the longest case taking more than six and a half years. Throughout that period, the property remains in possession of the government.</p> <p>About a third of structuring forfeitures are resolved via &quot;administrative&quot; forfeitures that are not overseen or approved by a federal judge. In the case of North Carolina convenience store owner Ken Quran, for instance, a group of IRS agents and local police went directly to his store after seizing over $150,000 from his bank account, and demanded that Quran sign a form &quot;voluntarily&quot; agreeing to forfeit the seized funds. Intimidated, he agreed to sign. When he later took his case to a local lawyer, the lawyer advised him there would be no point in seeking to contest the forfeiture.<strong> &quot;I feel like the United States government stole my money,&quot; Ken says. &quot;I did nothing wrong.&quot;</strong></p> <p>Even where a judge is involved, the court&#39;s role is often little more than approving a settlement negotiated by federal prosecutors. Against the time and expense of litigation, the government typically offers property owners a tempting proposition: Settle with us, let us keep half of what we seized, and we will return half your money today. Business owners, struggling to keep their businesses running without needed funds, often have little choice but to agree.</p> <h2><u><strong>Forced Settlement</strong></u></h2> <p>After the IRS agents left his farm, Randy Sowers contacted a lawyer. His lawyer, in turn, reached out to the responsible federal prosecutor, Stefan Cassella, who explained right off the bat that the case would be resolved by negotiation. Both sides would propose a number below the total sum seized by the government, and the parties would then agree on a forfeiture amount.</p> <p><strong>This approach was no accident. Justice Department policies expressly state that &quot;settlements to forfeit property are encouraged.&quot;</strong></p> <p>The Sowers needed the seized money to buy supplies for that year&#39;s crops. Their bank had closed the farm&#39;s account, and Randy was left explaining to his business partners why scheduled transactions were not going through. Meanwhile, fighting the case could easily end up costing more in legal bills than the amount of money that had been seized.</p> <p>Sowers also had to consider the consequences if he refused the settlement. The same day that the government seized his account, it served him with a grand jury subpoena, raising the possibility that he could be charged <em>criminally</em> for structuring&mdash;and face up to five years in prison. The government&#39;s proposed settlement confirmed this implicit threat: In exchange for Sowers giving up his money, the government would agree not to pursue criminal charges.</p> <p>Frustrated, he gave an interview to the Baltimore <em>City Paper</em> explaining that &quot;we had no idea there was supposedly a law against&quot; making small cash deposits. &quot;Now we just feel like putting [our cash] in a can somewhere,&quot; he added.</p> <p>Amid the settlement negotiations, Sowers&#39; words became a sticking point. Cassella demanded he agree to less favorable terms than the prosecutor had offered in a similar case. When Randy&#39;s lawyers asked for an explanation, he wrote in an email that the other property owner &quot;did not give an interview to the press.&quot;</p> <p>Lacking any realistic route to fight the government, in May 2012, three months after the government seized his money, Sowers signed an agreement to forfeit $29,500.</p> <h2><u><strong>&#39;They Need to Give It Back&#39;</strong></u></h2> <p>Not long after Sowers agreed to settle, the mainstream media began scrutinizing structuring more, causing the government to start a hasty retreat. <strong>A decisive turn appeared to come in October 2014, when the IRS announced a new policy change. Absent proof that the property owner was engaging in some <em>other</em> criminal activity, it would no longer pursue &quot;legal source&quot; structuring cases.</strong></p> <p>The IRS announced this shift when <em>The New York Times</em> ran a front-page investigation into two structuring cases litigated by the Institute for Justice on behalf of the Hirsch brothers from Long Island and Carole Hinders, who ran a Mexican restaurant in rural Iowa. Five months later, the Justice Department announced a similar shift &quot;restricting civil or criminal forfeiture seizures for structuring until after a defendant has been criminally charged or has been found to have engaged in additional criminal activity.&quot;</p> <p>Yet those policy changes are purely voluntary. Since structuring laws still remain on the books, a future administration could easily reverse course and start seizing Americans&#39; hard-earned money again. Moreover, while the shifts may prevent these types of cases from arising in the future&mdash;assuming the new policy is faithfully applied&mdash;they do nothing for the victims whose money was seized <em>before</em> the guidelines changed.</p> <p><strong>Between 2007 and 2013 alone, the IRS seized over $43 million from over 600 property owners in cases involving no allegations of wrongdoing apart from the mere act of evading bank reporting requirements. For those individuals, the government&#39;s policy change came too late.</strong></p> <p>Hoping to establish a precedent that other property owners could follow, the Institute for Justice in July 2015 filed petitions with the government on behalf of Ken Quran and Randy Sowers, seeking the return of their confiscated cash.</p> <p>A bipartisan coalition in Congress has lined up behind that effort. In August 2015, members of the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew urging the agency to &quot;return funds as appropriate in cases that do not meet the IRS&#39;s current policy that the funds must have come from an illegal source.&quot;</p> <p>Fortunately for Quran, in February 2016 the agency agreed to return the entire $153,000 that it had unjustly seized.</p> <p>Sowers still hasn&#39;t heard an answer to his petition. The federal government has never explained why, if it is willing to return the money that it seized from Quran under the structuring laws, it is not willing to do the same for him.</p> <p><em><strong>&quot;I&#39;m just waiting for the government to do the right thing,&quot; </strong></em>he says. <em>&quot;Not just for me, but for everyone in this same situation. <strong>The government shouldn&#39;t have taken our money, and they need to give it back.</strong>&quot;</em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="255" height="153" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20160630_irs.jpg?1467329392" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-30/could-irs-empty-your-bank-account#comments Detroit Gambling Michigan New York Times Treasury Department Thu, 30 Jun 2016 23:55:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 564880 at http://www.zerohedge.com