SEC Regulators: Private Equity Is on a Crime Spree

Stephan:  Trump whose only real governing interest seems to be advancing himself and his family, and currying favor with the billionaires whose approval he craves, has appointed his orcs to the SEC, so they could help him to rig the laws in their favor. This is where it has left the working people of America, and if you have a 401(k) you better pay close attention.
Securities and Exchange Chairman Jay Clayton awaits the start of a hearing on Capitol Hill September 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. Clayton testified before the House Financial Services Committee on the topic of “Oversight of the Securities and Exchange Commission: Wall Street’s Cop on the Beat.” Credit: Win McNamee/Getty

In 2017, Donald Trump appointed private-equity lawyer Jay Clayton as the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), one of the agencies that is responsible for policing the financial industry. Soon after getting the job — and only a few years after the SEC fined major private equity firms for bilking investors — Clayton was pushing to change federal law to let asset managers funnel more money from retirees to those high-risk, high-fee firms.

Clayton finally got his way last week when the Trump administration issued a letter letting 401(k) plans move the savings of 100 million workers and retirees to private equity billionaires, some of whom have been among 

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Police unions blamed for rise in fatal shootings even as crime plummeted

Stephan:  Crime has been going down for years in America even as police murders of civilians have been dramatically going up. This to a point where there are more murders by police by an order of magnitude than all the police forces of the 37 developed nations that are members of the OECD. Why is this happening? Here is the answer.
A Miami Police officer watches protestors from a armored vehicle during a rally in response to the recent death of George Floyd in Miami, Florida on May 31, 2020. Credit: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP/Getty

Police unions have emerged as the leading opponent of reform efforts as lawmakers respond to weeks of protests over the police killings of Black people across the country.

Despite years of demonstrations against police violence, data shows that law enforcement agencies killed more people last year than they did five years ago. Black people are killed at a far higher rate than white people.

The rise comes even as violent crime has plummeted across the country for decades. Despite the falling crime numbers, America’s policing budget has nearly tripled over the last 45 years.

Looking at the historical data, researcher Lyman Stone, a former federal economist who now serves as a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, found that police killings mostly fell between the 1960s and the 2000s but have been at high levels ever since.

“The pace of increase has been […]

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The Obama-Era Police Reform Biden Can’t Wait to Restart

Stephan:  Here, in contrast to Trump's reaction to police violence, is the reaction of someone who actually cares about social wellbeing. This, in my view, is a very big issue, because we are in danger of developing into a police state.

On December 4, 2014, Cleveland was in turmoil. Just days before, a white police officer had killed a 12-year-old boy playing in a park with a toy gun. The city was outraged at its police department, which many said was ill-trained, poorly supervised, and deeply troubled. On that day, Attorney General Eric Holder arrived in town with a report that seemed to bear out those complaints.

“In recent days, millions of people throughout our nation have come together, bound by grief and bound by anguish,” Holder said, mentioning Tamir Rice’s death and the killings earlier that year of Eric Garner in New York City and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

With that, Holder announced the results of the Justice Department’s 1½-year investigation in Cleveland. “There is reasonable cause to believe that the Cleveland Division of Police engages in a pattern and practice of using excessive force,” he declared. The report Holder delivered was a scathing indictment of Cleveland police for “poor and dangerous tactics,” pistol-whippings, guns fired at “unarmed or fleeing suspects,” and of supervisors […]

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Is America becoming a police state?

Stephan:  This is what concerns me.
Militarized police
Credit: Getty

In repressive states across the world, I have often watched with deep dismay the response of foreign military and police forces towards political reform movements or popular mobilization efforts. In many cases, brutal tactics, sometimes made possible by U.S. equipment, are used to stifle civil society and to guard the regime in power from criticism, accountability and reform. Yet, even as a member of an organization that tracks and scrutinizes the policies and behaviors of U.S.-backed foreign security forces, I was ill-prepared for the surreal yet painfully familiar scenes that have taken place across the United States since the killing of George Floyd.

In Washington, D.C., heavily armed riot police, national guard units and a veritable alphabet soup of federal agencies clashed with peaceful protesters at the behest of a president keen on projecting strength through force. These scenes evoked the well-worn playbook of authoritarian states from across the globe. A Black Hawk helicopter and other aircraft, Humvees and hundreds of armed “troops” spread across the streets of […]

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The Future of Travel After the Coronavirus Pandemic

Stephan:  I think it is going to be a long while before things return to what we grew up thinking was normal, and further, I'm not sure that normal will ever return. Apparently, I am not alone in thinking this way because other people are writing about this as well. Here, for instance, is a view about travel in the future.
Credit: Brian Stauffer Illustration for Foreign Policy

As we enter the first summer of this new era of pandemics, a tenuous easing of travel restrictions has begun. This month, the countries of the European Union will reopen their internal borders, and they plan to allow travel from outside the block some time in July. Singapore and China have begun permitting essential travel between them, but only for passengers who test negative for the coronavirus, use a contact-tracing app, and don’t deviate from their itinerary. Iceland will allow tourists, but it plans to test them for the virus at the airport.

Grounded for many months, airlines are beefing up their summer schedules—though the number of flights will be a fraction of their pre-pandemic frequency. Airports are still mostly ghost towns (some have even been taken over by wildlife), and international long-distance travel is all but dead. Around the globe, the collapse of the tourist economy has bankrupted hotels, restaurants, bus operators, and car rental agencies—and thrown an estimated 100 million people out of work.

With uncertainty and fear hanging over traveling, no one knows […]

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