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TBR News May 30, 2018

May 30 2018

The Voice of the White House  

Washington, D.C. May 30, 2018:”I have just received a long ms from a contributor of considerable experience and veracity, concerning the alleged ‘wreck of the SS New York’ and coins she might have been carrying. He alleges that there was no such ship, no such storm and no such sinking. He said the story had been invented out of whole cloth, based on ‘Issac’s Storm” book on the devastating 1900 Galveston hurricane and the finding of the SS Central America, to explain the appearance of coins now being minted in China. He says that these coins are: Morgan silver dollars of every year and mint, gold U.S. Indian head $2.50, $5.00 and $10 denominations and, of course, the coins purported to have been fished up from the Gulf of Mexico. His contention is that the Chinese government makes these coins for the American gullible coin trade and that by doing so, they are counterfeiting American coinage. He did an article for us some time ago on the alleged ‘Elmali horde” or “rare Greek coins’ all of which had been struck in the Bulgarian state mint in Sofia as a means of raising dollar currency for their version of the KGB. I checked this out with the British Museum people (who have a wonderful collection of such original coins) and was told the story was correct. I must assume, given our contributor’s notations, that this story must be essentially true. My website reaches many viewers, both in the United States and in Europe and as coin collecting, especially gold coin collecting, has gained momentum given the recent economic disasters

Chinese are also faking sovereigns, half sovereigns, French 20 Franc gold, and various denominations of Nicholas II Russian Rubles, of all dates, as well as Swiss gold bars. They said any gold bars they are offered for purchase are both weighed and the serial numbers checked with the manufacturers.

Currrent fakes

  • Seated Liberty Half Dollar 1861-O “S.S. Republic”
  • 1857 “S” Shipwreck Gold Coins “S.S. Central America”
  • 1858 “S” $20 Liberty Shipwreck Gold “S.S. Republic”
  • 1929 $5 Indian Head half eagle,
  • 1902-S $10 Liberty Head eagle,
  • 1909-O $5 Indian Head half eagle,
  • 1902-S Liberty Head eagle,
  • 2014 gold American Eagle,
  • 2014 gold American Eagle
  • Indian Head 2.50
  • Indian head $5.00 gold coin
  • Indian head $10.00 gold
  • 1894-S Barber Dime
  • 1838-O Half Dollar

 

Morgan Silver Dollars being copied:

  • 1878
  • 1878-CC
  • 1878-S
  • 1879
  • 1879-CC
  • 1879-O
  • 1879-S
  • 1880
  • 1880-CC
  • 1880-O
  • 1880-S
  • 1881
  • 1881-CC
  • 1881-O
  • 1881-S
  • 1882
  • 1882-CC
  • 1882-O
  • 1882-S
  • 1883
  • 1883-CC
  • 1883-O
  • 1883-S
  • 1884
  • 1884-CC
  • 1884-O
  • 1884-S
  • 1885
  • 1885-CC
  • 1885-O
  • 1885-S
  • 1886
  • 1886-O
  • 1886-S
  • 1887
  • 1887-O
  • 1887-S
  • 1888
  • 1888-O
  • 1888-S
  • 1889
  • 1889-CC
  • 1889-O
  • 1889-S
  • 1890
  • 1890-CC
  • 1890-O
  • 1890-S
  • 1891
  • 1891-CC
  • 1891-O
  • 1891-S
  • 1892
  • 1892-CC
  • 1892-O
  • 1892-S
  • 1893
  • 1893-CC
  • 1893-O
  • 1893-S
  • 1894
  • 1894-O
  • 1894-S
  • 1895
  • 1895-O
  • 1895-S
  • 1896
  • 1896-O
  • 1896-S
  • 1897
  • 1897-O
  • 1897-S
  • 1898
  • 1898-O
  • 1898-S
  • 1899
  • 1899-O
  • 1899-S
  • 1900
  • 1900-O
  • 1900-S
  • 1901
  • 1901-O
  • 1901-S
  • 1902
  • 1902-O
  • 1902-S
  • 1903
  • 1903-O
  • 1903-S
  • 1904
  • 1904-O
  • 1904-S
  • 1921
  • 1921-D
  • 1921-S

Partial listing of foreign counterfeit coins

  • Transylvania: Michael I Apafi gold 10 Ducat 1670
  • Imperial Russia: Nicholas II gold 25 Roubles 1896.97,98
  • Great Britain: Victoria gold 5 Pounds 1894,5,6
  • Macedonia: Alexander III the Great tetradrachm
  • Athens: Tetradrachma, Decadrachma”

 

 

The Table of Contents

  • Trump’s enemy No 1: Michael Avenatti on his quest to take down a president
  • Cohen attorney hurls leak accusation at Stormy Daniels’ lawyer in U.S. court
  • Peter Thiel’s next target should be Infowars
  • Face Recognition Is Now Being Used in Schools, but It Won’t Stop Mass Shootings
  • America: The Dictatress of the World
  • Crowding into the behavioral sink
  • Iran’s exit from nuclear weapons treaty would pour ‘rocket fuel’ on oil market, says analyst

 

Trump’s enemy No 1: Michael Avenatti on his quest to take down a president

Stormy Daniels’ lawyer insists reports on his finances and personal life are a Trumpian plot with ‘zero bearing’ on his case

May 30, 2018

by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles

The Guardian

Stormy Daniels stood in front of the sex shop wearing a big smile and holding a small box which contained the key to West Hollywood.

City officials stood on one side, a mannequin with chains and a leather jockstrap on the other. Camera crews and supporters packed the sidewalk, some clambering on to a roof for a better view. “Go Stormy,” yelled a man clutching a margarita. This was – by official proclamation – Stormy Daniels Day. Outside the liberal California enclave of West Hollywood, it was known as Wednesday.

The celebration was not for Daniels’ work in adult films. In the United States of 2018 this was a political event – an act of solidarity expressed by a backdrop with a single word: “#resist”.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has tangled Donald Trump in knots over hush money paid to conceal his alleged one-night stand with her in 2006, an imbroglio which some analysts say poses a graver threat to the president than Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Hence the city of West Hollywood hailing Daniels a “profile in courage” and the bawdy hollers from supporters.

But it was another figure, dapper and bullet-headed, who truly electrified the crowd. If Daniels was the star, here was the ringmaster. “Mi-chael! Mi-chael!”

Michael Avenatti: the attorney who has become a hero of the left by transforming what seemed a tawdry blip for Trump into a millstone around his presidency.

The burlesque tableaux outside Chi Chi LaRue’s sex store belied the high political stakes, said Robbie Turner, 40, jostling to glimpse Daniels and Avenatti. “But if ridiculous saves us from ridiculous, so be it. They’re the only thing that seems to have taken Trump off his stride. I hope they take him down.”

Avenatti, 47 and a veteran litigator who operates from an office in Newport Beach, south of Los Angeles, has waged a relentless legal and media blitz against Trump and his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to overturn a non-disclosure agreement signed by Daniels.

This has spilled the revelation that Trump repaid Cohen the $130,000 Cohen paid to Daniels before the election, possibly violating federal campaign finance laws. Which in turn has lifted the lid on Cohen parlaying his relationship with the president into payments from corporations and Columbus Nova, an investment firm linked to the Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.

Avenatti has mastered the news cycle by dropping regular bombshells – notably Cohen’s bank transactions – via media interviews and tweets. He can make headlines just by trolling the president and his beleaguered legal fixer.

More is coming, Avenatti told the Guardian. “I don’t believe Mr Trump will complete his term. Information that is going to come to light in the coming months, as well as information that Mr Cohen is going to provide, will make it nearly impossible for him to serve out his term.”

‘Disgusting and despicable’

Avenatti spoke in a wide-ranging interview over breakfast in Beverly Hills, before the West Hollywood event. It touched on his roots, legal strategy, taste for adrenaline – and increasingly fraught relations with parts of the media. As his fame has grown so have questions about his financial affairs and media strategy.

Affable but wary, arms mostly folded, Avenatti spoke like a man who feels he has a target on his back. Choosing words carefully between sips of orange juice and scans of his phone, he made a striking claim: that his media critics were acting at the behest of the Trump administration.

“There was a period when the other side didn’t perceive us to be a legitimate threat. Now they perceive us to be a legitimate threat – rightly so. The people that want to protect the president and that are very concerned about me and my client being threats are the ones that are targeting our personal lives.

“I think it’s disgusting and despicable. My past business dealings, my personal life, who I’m dating, the details of my divorce, other business matters that I’ve had – all that should be completely off-limits. It’s completely irrelevant to the case.”

In a sign of the pressure, he recently locked his Twitter account. “A strategic decision that I have made, and I think it’s a good one. To the people that don’t like it, tough shit. I’m not under obligation to provide information to everyone that wants it when they want it.” The strategy changed soon after the interview when he unlocked the account, citing requests from people who wished to follow him.

Multiple outlets have reported financial problems at his law firm, Eagan Avenatti, including a $10m bankruptcy court judgment last week. The firm was also supposed to pay $440,291 in back taxes, penalties and interest, part of $2.4m it owes the IRS. Unpaid bills and taxes have also dogged Tully’s Coffee, a Seattle-based chain Avenatti bought in 2013.

The attorney has rebuffed the reports as inaccurate and irrelevant, saying he represents Daniels via another law firm, Avenatti & Associates, and that in any case he is merely an attorney, not a party to her lawsuit. “I’m not a celebrity. I’m a guy doing a job.”

His character has “zero bearing” on the case against Cohen and Trump, he said. “I find it rather fascinating that none of the other attorneys are having the press digging into their background or talking about their personal lives. Why is that? I think it’s pretty clear where a lot of this is coming from.”

The news value of Avenatti’s finances is debatable but it is a stretch to cast the Hollywood Reporter, Los Angeles Times and the legal website Law & Crime – all subjects of Avenatti ire – as Trumpian stooges.

Some commentators have said Avenatti is himself Trumpian in the headline-grabbing tweets, trolling, accusations and threats to sue. “I think there are some similarities,” he acknowledged. “There’s a certain degree of media savvy that he has. I don’t think either one of us has a tendency to be easily intimidated. I think that both of us at times can be described as boisterous.”

Still, it would be a rich irony were Trump to fall not to the patrician granite of Mueller, an establishment figure, but a scrappy outsider who uses Trump’s media playbook.

‘For good or for bad I’m a risk taker’

Avenatti grew up middle class in California, Colorado and Utah before his family settled in St Louis, Missouri. His mother gave him a wooden turtle with an accompanying note which seemed to have stuck: “Behold the turtle – he progresses only when his neck is out.”

Life is to be grasped, said Avenatti, who is a race car driver in his spare time. “For good or for bad I’m a risk taker. I like high-stakes, high-reward type situations. I thrive under pressure.”

Jonathan Turley, a professor who mentored Avenatti at George Washington University law school, agreed. “Trial litigation tends to be the most thrilling and punishing ride for lawyers. Not everyone is made for that. Those who excel are often lone wolves and adrenaline junkies. Michael is a dangerous combination of someone who is equally skilled inside and outside the courtroom.”

At law school, Avenatti worked as an opposition political researcher at a firm run by Rahm Emanuel, later to become Barack Obama’s chief of staff and mayor of Chicago. It left him cynical about politics.

He finished first in his class and joined a California firm with celebrity clients, including a socialite in a defamation case against Paris Hilton and a man who claimed Trump and the producers of The Apprentice stole his idea for the show. Avenatti later set up his own firm and racked up more than $1bn worth of verdicts, according to his unabashedly immodest website.

“He’s very bright, very thorough, very aggressive,” said William Cornwell, a Florida-based attorney who went up against him. “I didn’t agree with all his tactics. There’s a fine line between what’s generally considered appropriate. He’s going to push the envelope. Would I hire him? Depending on the case, absolutely.”

Cornwell had another observation, one to chill the White House. “He’s not bluffing, generally, when he makes a threat or a promise.”

Munching on a bowl of oats and berries, dressed in loose grey pinstripe, Avenatti issued one of his characteristic, tantalisingly apocalyptic predictions: that Rudy Giuliani and other members of Trump’s legal team should look for cover. “There will be a series of bombshells in connection with this case.”

The evidence will shift public opinion despite Trump’s campaign boast that he could shoot someone and still retain support, said Avenatti. “It reflects an over-confidence that is very dangerous. Nothing lasts forever. History teaches us that.”

The decision of Evgeny Freidman, a Cohen business partner, to cooperate with prosecutors as a potential witness was highly significant, he said. “It further tightens the noose on Michael Cohen which in turn further tightens the noose on Mr Trump.”

Avenatti said he had been trying to convince two more women who signed non-disclosure agreements in relation to Trump to come forward. One said no, the other is “on the fence”.

Skills from motor racing were useful in the whirlwind that came with taking on the White House, he said. “You need to stay cool under pressure, you need to be able to take in a lot of data points in a very short period of time.”

Stuart Codling, the executive editor of F1 Racing magazine, said the sport resembled a high-speed game of chess, especially the 24-hour Le Mans race, in which Avenatti competed in 2015. “It’s about maintaining a high average speed. Part of the skill is in avoiding trouble.” Avenatti’s record suggested caution, said Codling. His team finished Le Mans 36th out of 37 that completed the race.

Avenatti said the Daniels case has taken over his life, scotching work-life balance and his exercise regime. “I was probably in the best shape of my life when we filed this case. It’s a 110%, 24/7 effort.” Feeling “burned and betrayed” by some journalists, he plans to be more picky when granting interviews. “We have the ability to be very selective. The media needs us much more than we need the media.”

If Avenatti needed to bask in good vibes, he got it from the crowd in West Hollywood. “God he’s cute, get his phone number,” shouted one man. After the ceremony, Daniels disappeared. Avenatti stayed to speak to TV crews, shake hands and pose for selfies.

“He’s fantastic,” said Duke Mason, 26. “He’s the one they’re really scared of.”

 

Cohen attorney hurls leak accusation at Stormy Daniels’ lawyer in U.S. court

May 30, 2018

by Jonathan Stempel

Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) – An attorney for President Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, accused porn star Stormy Daniels’ lawyer in federal court on Wednesday of leaking Cohen’s bank records, calling it a “drive-by shooting of my client’s rights.”

In a hearing before U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood in Manhattan, Cohen attorney Stephen Ryan also called the alleged leak by Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, “reckless,” “malicious” and “intentional.”

Avenatti responded, “We did not do anything improper relating to the release of any information concerning Mr. Cohen.”

The hearing stemmed from an investigation of Cohen by federal prosecutors regarding his business dealings. He has not been charged with any crime.

Wood ordered Cohen’s attorneys to finish reviewing millions of documents authorities seized from him by mid-June, overriding their request for more time.

Avenatti has released details of payments to Cohen from a company with ties to a Russian oligarch, who the United States sanctioned over suspected Moscow meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. Such disclosures could add pressure on Cohen.

Avenatti had asked Wood to allow him to represent Daniels in the Cohen case. He has said he believes some of the seized materials could relate to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Cohen has asked Wood to deny Avenatti permission to appear before the court, saying Daniels’ lawyer violated court rules by making what he characterized as false statements about Cohen in news media appearances.

A lawyer for Trump, Joanna Hendon, told Wood “we endorse fully” Ryan’s arguments on whether Avenatti should be admitted to the court.

Wood did not rule on whether Avenatti would have a formal role in the case. But she made clear she would not give him an open platform in her courtroom “where you’re free to denigrate Mr. Cohen and, I believe, potentially, deprive him of a fair trial by tainting a jury pool” if criminal charges were ever brought against Cohen.

Wood ordered Cohen’s lawyers to complete their review of 3.7 million files, which are being examined to determine whether they fall under attorney-client privilege.

“We’re moving heaven and Earth” to review the files, said Todd Harrison, a Cohen attorney who had asked the judge to give them until mid-July. Harrison said Cohen’s attorneys had reviewed 1.3 million files so far.

The investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan stems in part from a referral by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing whether Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russia. Trump has repeatedly said there was no collusion, and Russia has denied interfering in the elections.

Cohen has worked for Trump for more than a decade, first as counsel at the Trump Organization and later as his personal lawyer.

In 2016, Cohen paid Daniels $130,000, which she has said was to buy her silence about a sexual encounter she says she had with Trump in 2006. The president has denied the allegation.

After the April raids on Cohen’s home and office, Cohen and Trump asked the judge to block prosecutors from reviewing the seized documents, citing attorney-client privilege.

Wood responded by appointing former U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones as a so-called special master to review whether any of the documents were shielded by attorney-client privilege before turning them over to prosecutors.

In a court filing on Tuesday evening, Jones said she had already turned over to prosecutors more than 290,000 seized items that were not marked privileged by Cohen or Trump.

She said that more than a million items from three seized phones had also been designated as not privileged by Cohen and Trump, and would be turned over to prosecutors on Wednesday.

Cohen and Trump have made at least 252 claims of privilege, according to the filing.

Reporting by Brendan Pierson and Jonathan Stempel in New York; writing by Jonathan Oatis; editing by Chizu Nomiyama

 

Peter Thiel’s next target should be Infowars

May 30, 2018

by Rob Cox

Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) – It has been years since a daily email from Gawker graced my inbox. Sometimes I feel my days could be brightened by one of the now-defunct website’s absurd stories, like “How Did a Juggalette End Up Twerking on This Guy’s Enormous Belly?” A potential buyer of the brand might revive it out of bankruptcy to focus on positive news. But mostly, the world is a better place without Gawker reporting on the sex lives of public figures, like wrestler Hulk Hogan, and private citizens alike.

First Amendment absolutists won’t agree. Gawker might have been naughty, but its takedown a couple of years ago in the courts by Hogan – backed financially by tech billionaire Peter Thiel – represented a threat to freedom of speech, that most sacrosanct right of the U.S. Constitution. After a Florida court ordered Gawker to pay Hogan $140 million for posting a video of the wrestler fornicating with his friend’s wife, the website’s owner went bust.

But I have seen the other side of this story. Not the sex-tape stuff, but what happens when ordinary Americans are subjected to a smear campaign perpetrated with extraordinary cruelty by faux journalists hiding behind veils knitted with First Amendment thread. That’s why society’s conception of what is true or false would benefit from an abolition of the sort of information warfare conducted by Alex Jones and his Infowars gangsters.

For the first time since Jones began spreading his conspiracy manure across the internet, things may be moving in that direction. Last week, a half-dozen families whose children and relatives were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School filed a lawsuit charging defamation and invasion of privacy against Jones and his companies. They face formidable challenges. But if these families inflict devastating financial damage they can do more than shut a website or prove a point. They can help restore some decency to American civil discourse.

Gawker was personal for Thiel, who made his estimated $2.5 billion fortune by co-founding PayPal and investing in Facebook and other startups. In 2007, the website published a story entitled “Peter Thiel is totally gay, people.” This was not how Thiel wanted his sexual orientation to be revealed. From that moment on, he sought revenge against Gawker, which he labeled a “Manhattan Based Terrorism Organization,” according to Ryan Holiday’s recent book on the case, “Conspiracy.”

After crushing Gawker in court, Thiel defended his previously secret financial backing for Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, in an August 2016 New York Times op-ed: “I will support him until his final victory … and I would gladly support someone else in the same position,” the German-born libertarian and supporter of Donald Trump vowed. “The press is too important to let its role be undermined by those who would search for clicks at the cost of the profession’s reputation.”

Here’s the philosopher-king’s chance to prove his nobility. By backing the Sandy Hook families in their challenge to Infowars, Facebook director Thiel can show the Gawker affair was about more than being personally outed – that he is also truly concerned about the state of civic dialogue and, more broadly, American democratic institutions.

The Infowars case is personal for me. Many of the Sandy Hook parents pursuing Jones are friends. As a native of Newtown, Connecticut, I am also arguably one of Infowars’ victims – a participant, or “crisis actor,” in what Jones has called the fictitious slaughter of 20 children and six educators in December 2012. Indeed, my first encounter with Infowars came at a board of education meeting where one of its “reporters” told us that unless we exhumed the bodies of the children, we were all in on the hoax.

In that sense, I have some sympathy for Hogan’s friends, who would have seen the distress he went through after his recorded weak moment with Bubba the Love Sponge’s wife hit Gawker. Yet even Hulk’s most clothesline-hardened pals would agree that five years of accusations that a mother or father faked a child’s violent death is of a different caliber, especially when accompanied by exhortations to harass those innocent parents.

That, in any event, is what the Sandy Hook plaintiffs and their lawyers have set out in their case against Jones, which was filed last week in a Connecticut superior court. To be successful, they must convince a jury that Jones not only defamed them, but did so knowingly with malicious intent, and for financial gain. “The defendants’ business model is based on their fabrication, propagation and amplification of conspiracy-minded falsehoods like those about Sandy Hook,” according to the claim. “It is a very lucrative business model.”

Infowars – like the more legitimate news organizations it apes – provides a document trail that begins on Dec. 19, 2012, five days after the gunman barged into the school with an AR-15. Before many families even had a chance to commit their children’s tiny bodies to soil or flame, Infowars suggested one of the parents was performing for the cameras when crying about his daughter’s murder, the suit alleges.

Over time, Jones moved from suggestion to outright accusation. In March 2014, he said “we’ve clearly got people where it’s actors playing different parts.” Two months later he said, “you’ve got parents acting … it’s just the fakest thing since the three-dollar bill.”

Throughout his campaign to convince the public that Sandy Hook was a so-called “false flag” designed to strip Americans of their guns, Jones urged his viewers to take matters into their own hands, to probe for themselves what happened. That’s also what he did in November 2016 when exhorting viewers to investigate allegations that a Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant was conducting a child-sex ring associated with Hillary Clinton. One of Jones’ devoted fans shot up the pizzeria with an AR-15 a few weeks later.

The First Amendment guarantees citizens the freedom to express opinions, even daft ones. But courts have decided those rights are not absolute. Some things are off limits because they hurt other people and infringe upon other rights, like privacy. That’s why publishing a sex tape of a wrestler carried a financial cost for Gawker, and why Thiel was willing to fund the cause. It’s also perhaps why a marketing firm bidding for the Gawker brand, Didit, is proposing an editorial policy focused solely on stories it deems to be positive, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Judges, juries and lawyers will ultimately determine whether Jones crossed the line when he accused the Newtown parents of faking the massacre of their first graders. But there’s no question that he has inflicted great suffering upon them. I’ve seen it. Surely Thiel, who backed Trump (who told Jones “I will not let you down” before he became president), can see it too.

 

Face Recognition Is Now Being Used in Schools, but It Won’t Stop Mass Shootings

May 30, 2018

by Ava Kofman

The Intercept

Officials at the Lockport, New York, school district have purchased face recognition technology as part of a purported effort to prevent school shootings. Starting in September, all 10 of Lockport District’s school buildings, just north of Buffalo, will be outfitted with a surveillance system that can identify faces and objects. The software, known as Aegis, was developed by SN Technologies Corp., a Canadian biometrics firm that specifically advertises to schools. It can be used to alert officials to whenever sex offenders, suspended students, fired employees, suspected gang members, or anyone else placed on a school’s “blacklist” enters the premises. Aegis also sends alerts any time one of the “top 10” most popular guns used in school shootings appears in view of a camera.

The district is spending most of its recent $4 million state “Smart School” grant on these and other enhancements to its security systems, including bullet-proof greeter windows and a mass notification system, according to the Niagra Gazette. “We always have to be on our guard. We can’t let our guard down,” Lockport Superintendent Michelle T. Bradley told the Buffalo News. “For the Board of Education and the Lockport City School District, this is the No. 1 priority: school security.”

Yet given the nature of gun violence at schools, Lockport’s purchase of surveillance technology appears inefficient and expensive. All of the major school shootings in the last five years in the U.S. have been carried out by current students or alumnae of the school in question. “These are students for whom the school wouldn’t have a reason to have their face entered into the face recognition system’s blacklist,” explained Rachel Levinson-Waldman, a security and policing expert at the Brennan Center for Justice.

The object recognition system seems similarly pointless, she said. Most shooters don’t brandish their guns before opening fire; and by the time they do, an object-detection algorithm that could specify the exact type of weapon they’re firing would not be of much use. As Jim Shultz, a Lockport parent, pointed out to the Buffalo News, the technology would give a school, at best, only a few extra seconds in response time to a shooting. What’s more, most shootings typically end within seconds — so that face or weapon recognition would provide about as much real-time value as a 911 call. Lockport schools, Shultz added, have already instituted preventative — albeit less flashy — measures, such as keeping doors locked and requiring visitors to check in.

Because face recognition appears uniquely ill-suited to respond directly to school shootings — which are themselves statistically rare events — privacy experts fear that the primary function of the technology will be to expand the surveillance and criminalization of adolescents. “Whether it was intended to be this way or not, Lockport’s technology is effectively going to be a surveillance system and not a safety system,” Levinson-Waldman said.

Learning While Black

Lockport’s system will store data for up to 60 days. Students will not be automatically entered into its database, but administrators will be able to use the system to “follow” those who commit infractions. “If we had a student who committed some type of offense against the code of conduct, we can follow that student throughout the day to see maybe who they interacted with,” one school official said.

Levinson-Waldman says that such surveillance powers are likely to be wielded disproportionately against students of color, who already face disciplinary bias at school. Several studies have shown that black and Latino children are routinely viewed as more dangerous than their white peers, regardless of their behavior. Black students are not more likely to misbehave than white students, yet they are more likely to be suspended, receive corporal punishment, or have a school-related arrest, according to a Government Accountability Office report released in April.

“This is going to exacerbate the racial disparities you already see, whether it’s about monitoring or enforcement,” said John Cusick, a fellow at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Students who are already subject to police surveillance in their neighborhoods, he added, will now have to face the same environment at their school. Research by the NAACP LDF and others suggests that putting police officers in schools increases the number of students who end up incarcerated for harmless incidents. “Face recognition might curtail how students interact. They might be afraid of being linked to other students or engaging in adolescent behavior,” Cusick continued. “It has the ability to criminalize friendships.”

Civil rights attorneys raised questions about whether biometric data collected at schools like Lockport might fuel not only the school-to-prison pipeline, but also deportations. Schools might share their biometric data with law enforcement and, in turn, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement — or vice versa. In California and New Jersey, ICE has arrested undocumented parents as they dropped their kids off at school, and ICE was recently granted access to at least one automatic license plate reader database. Levinson-Waldman wonders which faces will be put into the system to flag a response and whether schools will connect to a law enforcement database. “Will they give ICE information about that parent’s movements, intentionally or not?” she asked.

New Directions in Education

Lockport is not the first school district to deploy the kind of advanced surveillance technology typically used by prisons, airports, and border checkpoints. Face recognition has already been installed in high schools in Magnolia, Arkansas, and St. Louis. A school district in New Mexico deploys shot-spotter technology, which notifies police at the first sound of gunfire, while another district in New York has acquired automatic license plate readers. In Iowa and Texas, among others, school districts have equipped law enforcement and school resource officers with body-worn cameras. “This is part of a bigger trend of school districts, as well as police departments, touting cost-benefit savings in the name of expanding surveillance,” Cusick noted.

Privacy advocates are also concerned about the kind of lessons that early, invasive surveillance teaches students about the society we live in. “Communities and schools need to think hard about what type [of] message they are sending to our kids when they monitor them in school like they were prisoners in a detention facility,” Rita Sklar, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, said in a statement. “We urge the Magnolia School Board, and all Arkansas school districts, to avoid these expensive, harmful gimmicks and consider more sensible approaches to keeping schools safe.”

Of course, these surveillance systems do not come cheaply — and it’s possible that companies will make money from the data they collect from students. “I would be shocked if a vendor was not going to use video as a way to train and ‘improve’ the algorithm,” said Philip Hagen, a technologist who went to school in Lockwood. “That’s inherent in any machine learning operation. From an ethical standpoint, I would definitely be concerned about that.” It is not evident who owns the data, how long it is retained, and whether parents have a right to opt-out of the system.

The technology’s cost becomes particularly troubling when one considers that it may not even work. Some facial recognition software performs poorly. U.K. police made headlines recently when documents revealed that one system in Wales turned up false matches 92 percent of the time. In particular, the technology is more prone to err when dealing with black faces, as several studies have shown. In one of the most recent, MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini showed that darker-skinned women were up to 35 percent more likely to be misrecognized by some face recognition algorithms. Other studies have shown that the technology is less effective on children. Hagen and Levinson-Waldman have asked whether the technology will be independently audited for accuracy.

By investing in this technology, as opposed to other resources, Levinson-Waldman says that schools are emphasizing policing at the expense of teaching. As the Buffalo News reported, the Lockwood District may face a shortfall of nearly $1 million in the 2018-2019 school year. If aid does not materialize, it is possible that the district will “cut transportation and sports programs, reduce kindergarten to half days and close elementary school libraries.”

“In a time when we cannot afford to pay our teachers a decent wage,” said Andrew Ferguson, a policing and civil rights expert, “I cannot fathom any school district paying money for this type of security theater.”

America: The Dictatress of the World

May 23, 2018

by Jacob G. Hornberger

On July 4, 1821, John Quincy Adams delivered a speech that summarized America’s founding foreign policy of noninterventionism. Having gone down in history with the title “In Search of Monsters to Destroy,” Adams pointed out that one of the best things about the United States was that the U.S. government did not embroil itself or meddle in the affairs of other nations.

Adams issued an interesting warning. He said that if America were ever to abandon her founding principle of noninterventionism, she would become “the dictatress of the world.”

One nation that can certainly attest to the reality of that phenomenon is Iran, which is currently experiencing the full force of the world’s dictatress.

In a speech on Iran delivered to the conservative Heritage Foundation, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the CIA director who recently took control over the State Department, manifested the classic attributes of a dictator. According to the New York Times, Pompeo issued orders to Iran to not engage in nuclear enrichment programs, admit that it had military purposes for its now-dead nuclear weapons program, end its support for Hezbollah, Hamas, and Yemen’s Houthis, and withdraw all its forces from Syria.

It was quite a laundry list of dictates and commands, as Pompeo himself acknowledged.

What happens if Iran doesn’t comply with Pompeo’s orders? Two things: First, the U.S. government will resume and expand on its system of brutal sanctions, which is designed to produce massive economic suffering, including death, among the Iranian populace. Second, the possibility of a U.S. military attack, especially if Iran resumes its nuclear program in the wake of President Trump’s abrogation of the agreement between the United States, Europe, and Iran by which Iran gave up its nuclear program in return for the U.S. government’s promise to lift sanctions.

What is a dictatress or a dictator? It is someone who wields omnipotent power and issues dictates and orders to people enforced by that power. Recipients of the dictates or orders are expected to comply or else suffer the forceful wrath of the dictator or dictatress.

When we think of dictatorships, don’t we also think about things like arbitrary arrests, indefinite detention, torture chambers, executions, and assassinations?

It is undeniable that Adams has been proven right. While the Iranian regime is obviously a dictatorship within Iran, no one can reasonably deny that the U.S. government, as a result of having abandoned America’s founding foreign policy of noninterventionism, has become the dictatress of the world. The Times wrote that Iran described Pompeo’s speech as “the type of American arrogance and bullying behavior that has alienated other nations, not just the Iranians.” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani put it well. Referring to the dictatress, he asked, “Who are you to decide for Iran and the world?”

What is Pompeo really up to with his humiliating orders, dictates, and demands on Iran? He’s obviously taking a page out of President Franklin Roosevelt’s playbook by trying his best to provoke a war with Iran, just as FDR did with Germany and Japan and, for that matters, just as U.S. officials did with Iraq.

Let’s face it: The U.S. national-security establishment has never forgiven the Iranian people for what they did in 1979, when they ousted their U.S.-installed dictator, the Shah of Iran, from power. After all, the CIA had gone to a lot of trouble to secretly initiate the 1953 coup in which Iran’s democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, was ousted from power and replaced by the CIA’s dictator, the Shah of Iran. Over the next 25 years, the CIA invested a lot of time, money, and effort into supporting, training, and fortifying the Shah’s brutal tyranny over the Iranian people. U.S. officials have hated Iranians ever since they ousted the Shah from power, which is why they have done everything they can to destroy the Iranian populace economically and even kill them with one of the most brutal systems of sanctions in history.

What U.S. officials are hell-bent in achieving in Iran is what they were hell-bent on achieving in Iraq with their sanctions there (which contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children): regime change, one that will bring another pro-U.S. tyrant to rule Iran, like the Shah, one who will agree to follow the orders and dictates issued by the world’s dictatress, who, in turn, will help the pro-U.S. dictator maintain his tyrannical hold on power within the nation (as U.S. officials did with the Shah and as they currently do with Egypt and, for that matter, as they did in Chile after they installed military tyrant Augusto Pinochet into power).

Will U.S. officials succeed in provoking a war with Iran? Well, FDR certainly succeeded in his quest to provoke a war with Japan and Germany.

Knowing that the American people were overwhelmingly opposed to entering the war against Nazi Germany, given the horrific consequences of World War I, Roosevelt schemed and connived to provoke Germany into attacking the United States. But Germany refused to take FDR’s bait, much as Iran has so far.

So FDR went into the Pacific and began provoking Japan, in the hopes that he could get Japan to attack the United States, which would enable him to say: We have been attacked! I am shocked! I had no idea! We are innocent! We were just minding our own business! It’s a day of infamy! Now, give me my declaration of war! Americans now have no choice but to go to war!

FDR used two principal methods to provoke the Japanese into attacking the United States: First, he imposed an oil embargo on Japan and persuaded other nations to comply with it, which was the same thing in principle as the U.S. sanctions on Iran, and, second, FDR issued humiliating demands and orders on Japan, much like the ones that CIA Director turned Secretary of State Pompeo issued against Iran.

FDR’s plan worked brilliantly. The embargo prevented Japan from acquiring oil to fund its military machine in China and there was never any reasonable possibility that proud Japanese officials would comply with FDR’s humiliating dictates. Thus, Japan attacked U.S. Navy vessels at Pearl Harbor not as a first step in an invasion and conquest of the United States, as Americans are taught, but simply as a way to be able to acquire oil in the Dutch East Indies without U.S. Navy interference.

FDR knew that it was a virtual certainty that Nazi Germany would come to the aid of Japan, which it immediately did with a declaration of war against the United States. The wily Roosevelt had gotten what he wanted with his sanctions and humiliating orders and dictates issued against Japan.

Will CIA Director-turned-Secretary of State Pompeo be as successful with Iran as FDR was with Japan and Germany? Time will tell. But one thing is indisputable: the prediction that John Quincy Adams issued back in 1821 if America were to abandon its founding principle of noninterventionism has come to pass. The U.S. government has truly become the world’s dictatress.

 

Crowding into the behavioral sink

Calhoun, J. B. (1962). Population density and social pathology. Scientific American, 206(3), 139-148.

The effects of crowding on our behavior is something that has interested psychologists for decades. You have probably noticed how your emotions and behavior change when you are in a situation that you perceive as very crowded. You may withdraw into yourself and try to become invisible; you might look for an escape; or you may find yourself becoming irritable and aggressive. How you react to crowding depends on many factors.

You will notice that the title of the article of discussion in this chapter uses the phrase population density rather than crowding. While these may seem very similar, psychologists draw a clear distinction between them.

Density refers to the number of individuals in a given amount of space. If 20 people occupy a 12-by-12-foot room, the room would probably be seen as densely populated. Crowding, however, refers to the subjective psychological experience created by density. That is, if you are trying to concentrate on a difficult task in that room with 20 people, you may experience extreme crowding. Conversely, if you are at a party with 20 friends in that same room, you might not feel crowded at all.

One way behavioral scientists can study the effects of density and crowding on people is to observe places where crowding already exists, such as Manhattan, Mexico City, some housing projects, prisons, and so on. The problem with this method is that all these places contain many factors that can influence behavior. For example, if we find high crime rates in a crowded inner-city neighborhood, there’s no way to know for sure that crowding is the cause of the crime. Maybe it’s the fact that people there are poor, or that there’s a higher rate of drug abuse, or perhaps all these factors combine with crowded conditions to produce the high crime rates. 250

Another way to study crowding is to put human subjects into high-density conditions for relatively short periods of time and study their reactions. While this method offers more control and allows us to isolate crowding as a cause of behavior, it is not very realistic in terms of real-life crowded environments, since they usually exist over extended periods of time. It should be pointed out, however, that both of these methods have yielded some interesting findings about crowding that will be discussed later in this chapter.

Since it would be ethically impossible (because of the stress and other potential damaging effects) to place humans in crowded conditions over long periods of time simply to do research on them, there is a third way of addressing the effects of density: Do research using animal subjects. One of the earliest and most classic series of studies of this type was conducted by John B. Calhoun (1917-1995) in 1962. Calhoun allowed groups of white rats to increase in population to twice the number that would normally be found in a space the size of a 10-by-14- foot room and observed their “social” behavior for 16 months.

THEORETICAL PROPOSITIONS

Calhoun especially wanted to explore the effects of high density on social behavior. It may seem strange to you to think of rats as social animals, but they do socialize in various ways in their natural environment.

To appreciate what led Calhoun to the study being discussed in this chapter, it is necessary to back up several years to an earlier project he conducted. Calhoun had confined a population of rats to a quarter-acre of enclosed, protected outdoor space. Plenty of food was available; there were ideal protected nesting areas; there were no predators; and all disease was kept to a minimum. In other words, this was a rat’s paradise. The point of Calhoun’s early study was simply to study the population growth rate of the rats in a setting free from the usual natural controls on overpopulation (predators, disease, etc.). After 27 months, the population consisted of only 150 adult rats. This was very surprising since with the low mortality rate of adult rats in this ideal setting, and considering the usual rate of reproduction, there should have been 5,000 adults in this period of time! The reason for this small population was an extremely high infant mortality rate. Apparently, reproductive and maternal behavior had been severely altered by the stress of social interaction among the 150 rats, and very few young rats survived to reach adulthood. Even though this number of rats (150 in a quarter-acre) does not seem to be particularly dense, it was obviously crowded enough to produce extreme behavioral changes.

These findings prompted Calhoun to design a more controlled and observable situation inside the lab in order to study more closely what sorts of changes occur in the rats when they are faced with high population density. In other words, he had observed what happened, and now he wanted to find out why.

METHOD

In a series of three studies, either 32 or 56 rats were placed in a 10-by-14-foot laboratory room that was divided into four sections or pens (see Figure 1). There were ramps that allowed the rats to cross from pen 1 to pen 2, from pen 2 to pen 3, and from pen 3 to pen 4. It was not possible for the rats to cross directly between pen 1 and pen 4. Therefore, these were end-pens. If a rat wanted to go from 1 to 4, it would have to go through 2 and 3.

The partitions dividing the pens were electrified, so the rats quickly learned that they could not climb over them. These pens consisted of feeders and waterers and enclosures for nests. The rats were supplied with plenty of food, water, and materials for building nests. In order to observe and record the rats’ behavior there was a viewing window in the ceiling of the room.

From his years of studying rats, Calhoun was aware that this particular strain normally is found in colonies of 12 adults. Therefore, the observation room was of a size to accommodate 12 rats per pen, or a total of 48. After the groups were placed in the room, they were allowed to multiply until this normal density was nearly doubled to 80. Once the population level of 80 was reached, young rats that survived past weaning were removed so that the number of rats remained constant.

With this arrangement in place, all that was left was to observe these crowded animals for an extended period of time and record their behavior. These observations went on for 16 months.

RESULTS

It is important to keep in mind that the density of the rats was not extreme; in fact, it was quite moderate. If the rats wanted to spread out, there would only have to be 20 or so per pen. But this is not what happened. When the male rats reached maturity, they began to fight with each other for social status as they do naturally. These fights took place in all the pens, but the outcome was not the same for all of them. If you think about the arrangement of the room, the two end-pens only had one way in and out. So when a rat won a battle for dominance in one of these pens, he could hold his position and territory (the whole pen) simply by guarding the entrance and attacking any other male that ventured over the ramp. As it turned out, only one male rat ended up in charge of each of the end-pens. However, he was not alone. The female rats distributed themselves more or less equally over all four pens. Therefore, the masters of pens 1 and 4 each had a harem of 8 to 12 females all to themselves. And they didn’t take any chances. In order to prevent infiltration, the males took to sleeping directly at the foot of the ramp and were always on guard.

On occasion, there were a few other male rats in the end-pens, but they were extremely submissive.

They spent most of their time in the nesting burrows with the females and only came out to feed. They did not attempt to mate with the females. The females in these pens functioned well as mothers. They built comfortable nests and nurtured and protected their offspring. In other words, life for most of the rats in these end-pens was relatively normal and reproductive behavior was successful. About half of the infant rats in those pens survived to adulthood.

The rest of the 60 or so rats crowded into the middle two pens. Since these two pens each had central feeding and watering devices, there were many opportunities for the rats to come in contact with each other. The kinds of behaviors observed among the rats in pens 2 and 3 demonstrate a phenomenon that Calhoun termed the behavioral sink. A behavioral sink is “the outcome of any behavioral process that collects animals together in unusually great numbers. The unhealthy connotations of the term are not accidental: A behavioral sink does act to aggravate all forms of pathology that can be found within a group” (p. 144). Let’s examine some of the extreme and pathological behaviors he observed:

  1. Aggression. Normally in the wild, male rats will fight other male rats for dominant positions in the social hierarchy. These fights were observed among the more aggressive rats in this study as well. The difference was that here, unlike in their natural environments, top-ranking males were required to fight frequently in order to maintain their positions and often the fights involved several rats in a general brawl. Nevertheless, the strongest males were observed to be the most normal within the center pens.

However, even those animals would sometimes exhibit “signs of pathology; going berserk; attacking females, juveniles, and less active males; and showing a particular predilection—which rats do not normally display—for biting other rats on the tail” (p. 146).

  1. Submissiveness. Contrary to this extreme aggression, other groups of male rats ignored and avoided battles for dominance. One of these groups consisted of the most healthy-looking rats in the pens. They were fat and their fur was full, without the usual bare spots from fighting. However, these rats were complete social misfits. They moved through the pens as if asleep or in some sort of hypnotic trance, ignoring all others, and were, in turn, ignored by the rest. They were completely uninterested in sexual activity and made no advances, even toward females in heat.

Another group of rats engaged in extreme activity and were always on the prowl for receptive females.

Calhoun termed them probers. Often, they were attacked by the more dominant males, but were never interested in fighting for status. They were hypersexual and many of them even became cannibalistic!

  1. Sexual deviance. These probers also refused to participate in the natural rituals of mating. Normally, a male rat will pursue a female in heat until she escapes into her burrow. Then, the male will wait patiently and even perform a courtship dance directly outside her door. Finally, she emerges from the burrow and the mating takes place. In Calhoun’s study, this ritual was adhered to by most of the sexually active males except the probers. They completely refused to wait and followed the female right into her burrow. Sometimes the nests inside the burrow contained young that had failed to survive, and it was here that late in the study the probers turned cannibalistic.

Another group of male rats was termed the pansexuals because they attempted to mate with any and all other rats indiscriminately. They sexually approached other males, juveniles, and females that were not in heat. This was a submissive group that was often attacked by the more dominant male rats, but did not fight for dominance.

  1. Reproductive abnormalities. Rats have a natural instinct for nest building. In this study, small strips of paper were provided in unlimited quantities as nest material. The females are normally extremely active in the process of building nests as the time for giving birth approaches. They gather the material and pile it up so that it forms a cushion. Then they arrange the nest so that it has a small indentation in the middle to hold the young. However, the females in the behavioral sink gradually lost their ability (or inclination) to build adequate nests. At first they failed to form the indentation in the middle. Then, as time went on, they collected fewer and fewer strips of paper so that eventually the infants were born directly on the sawdust that covered the pen’s floor.

The mother rats also lost their maternal ability to transport their young from one place to another if they felt the presence of danger. They would move some of the litter and forget the rest, or simply drop them onto the floor as they were moving them. Usually these infants were abandoned and died where they were dropped. They were then eaten by the adults. The infant mortality rate in the middle pens was extremely high, ranging from 80% to 96%.

In addition to these maternal deficits, the female rats in the middle pens, when in heat, were chased by large groups of males until they were finally unable to escape. These females experienced high rates of complications in pregnancy and delivery. By the end of the study, almost half of them had died.

DISCUSSION

You might expect that a logical extension of these findings would be to apply them to humans in high-density environments. However, for reasons to be discussed shortly, Calhoun did not draw any such conclusions. In fact, he discussed his findings very little—probably assuming, and logically so, that his results spoke volumes for themselves. He did comment on one clear result: that the natural social and survival behaviors of the rats were severely altered by the stresses associated with living in a high-population-density environment. In addition, he noted that through additional research, with improved methods and refined interpretation of the findings, his studies and others like them may contribute to our understanding of similar issues facing human beings.

SIGNIFICANCE OF FINDINGS

As with many of the studies in this book, one of the most important aspects of Calhoun’s studies was that they sparked a great deal of related research on the effects on humans of high-density living. It would be impossible to examine this large body of research in detail here, but perhaps a few examples should be mentioned.

One environment where the equivalent of a behavioral sink might exist for humans is in extremely overcrowded prisons. A study funded by the National Institute of Justice examined prisons where inmates averaged only 50 square feet each (or an area about 7-by-7 feet), compared with less crowded prisons. It was found that in the crowded prisons there were significantly higher rates of mortality, homicide, suicide, illness, and disciplinary problems (McCain, Cox, & Paulus, 1980). Again, however, remember that other factors besides crowding could be influencing these behaviors.

Another interesting finding has been that crowding produces negative effects on problem-solving abilities. One study placed people in small, extremely crowded rooms (only 3 square feet per person) or in larger, less crowded rooms. The subjects were asked to complete rather complex tasks, such as placing various shapes into various categories while listening to a story on which they were to be tested later. Those in the crowded conditions performed significantly worse than those who were not crowded (Evans, 1979).

Finally, what do you suppose happens to you physiologically in crowded circumstances? Research has determined that your blood pressure and heart rate increase. Along with those effects, you tend to feel that other people are more hostile and that time seems to pass more slowly as density increases (Evans, 1979).

CRITICISMS

Calhoun’s results with animals have been supported by later animal research (see Marsden, 1972). However, as has been mentioned before in this book, we must always be careful in applying animal research to humans. Just as substances that may be shown to cause illness in rats may not have the same effect on human physical health, environmental factors influencing rats’ social behaviors may not be directly applicable to people. At best, animals can only represent certain aspects of humans. Sometimes animal research can be very useful and revealing and lead the way for more definitive research with people. At other times, it can be a dead end.

In 1975, a study was undertaken in New York City that attempted to replicate with people some of Calhoun’s findings (Freedman, Heshka, & Levy, 1975). Data were collected for areas of varying population density on death rates, fertility rates (birth rates), aggressive behavior (court records), psychopathology (admissions to mental hospitals), and so on. When all the data were analyzed, no significant relationships were found between population density and any form of social pathology.

Nevertheless, Calhoun’s work in the early 1960s focused a great deal of attention on the psychological and behavioral effects of crowding. This line of research, as it relates to humans, continues today.

RECENT APPLICATIONS

John Calhoun died on September 7,1995, and left behind a legacy of insightful and historically meaningful research. The kinds of social problems discussed by Calhoun in his 1962 article are increasingly relevant to the human condition. Consequently, when scientists undertake research to better understand and intervene in such problems as aggression, infertility, mental illness, or various forms of social conflict, it is not unusual for them to make reference to Calhoun’s research on crowding and behavioral pathology.

An interesting study citing Calhoun’s work, examined changes in animal behavior that accompany domestication (Price, 1999). This author contended that species of animals that are domesticated, that is, kept as pets, have undergone genetic and developmental changes over many generations that have altered their behaviors in ways that allow them to share a common living environment with humans. Basically, what Price is suggesting is that as wild animals have become domesticated over centuries, they have had to adapt to human settings that are very different from their original habitats. This usually includes living in peaceful harmony (most of the time, at least) with others of their own species, other animal species, and humans, usually in relatively crowded conditions. This is accomplished, the author contends, through the evolution of increased response thresholds, meaning it takes a lot more provocation for a domesticated animal to become territorial and aggressive. In other words, dogs, cats, and humans are all able to live together in a relatively small space without running away or tearing each other to pieces as would occur among non-domesticated animals in the wild.

In a different direction, an article by Torrey and Yolken (1998) incorporated Calhoun’s study in examining the association between growing up in crowded conditions and the development of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (manic-depression): Many studies have found that people who are raised in high-density urban environments are at increased risk for these psychological disorders later in life. Numerous factors are present in crowded, urban settings that may account for such increased risks. However, the authors of this study hypothesized that it is not the increased density of living conditions in the neighborhood, but rather in the individual homes (more people occupying less space) that may explain the higher rates of mental illness later in life. Why? This study contended that exposure to a larger number of infectious agents may account for this association.

Finally, a related study found a possible key difference in human reactions to population density compared to animals. In animal studies, pathology appears to increase in a linear way as a direct result of increased density: as one increases the other increases. However, a study by Regoeczi (2002) found that for humans, the effect of household population density on social withdrawal and aggression actually decreased as the number of people in a single household increased. However, this effect was only observed until the number of people exceeded the total number of rooms; very much beyond that, the antisocial effects begin to appear with increasing density. In other words when living conditions are such that, say, 5 people occupy a 3-room apartment or 7 people are squeezed into a 4-room house, the tendency for people to withdraw and/or display more aggression increases. Two possible causes may be at work here. Either density is causing the pathology, or people who are more withdrawn or more aggressive end up in less crowded living situations, by choice or by ostracism, respectively.

These studies demonstrate how social scientists are continuing to explore and refine the effects of density and crowding. The causes of social pathology are many and complex. The impact of population density, first brought to our attention by Calhoun over 40 years ago, is only one, but a very crucial, piece of the puzzle.

Bibliography

Evans, G. W. (1979). Behavioral and psychological consequences of crowding in humans. Journal of Applied Social

Psychology, 9, 27-46.

Freedman, J. L., Heshka, S., & Levy, A. (1975). Population density and social pathology: Is there a relationship? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 11, 539-.552.

Marsden, H. M. (1972). Crowding and animal behavior. In J. F. Wohlhill & D. H. Carson (Eds.), Environment and the social sciences. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

McCain, G., Cox, V. C., & Paulus, P. B. (1980). The relationship between illness, complaints, and degree of crowding in a prison environment. Environment and Behavior, 8, 283-290.

Price, E. (1999). Behavioral development in animals undergoing domestication. Applied Animal Behavior Research,

65(3), 245-271.

Regoeczi, W. (2002). The impact of density: The importance of nonlinearity and selection on flight and fight responses. Social Forces, 81, 505-530.

Torrey, E., & Yolken, R. (1998). At issue: Is household crowding a risk factor for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder? Schizophrenia Bulletin, 24(3), 321-324.

 

Iran’s exit from nuclear weapons treaty would pour ‘rocket fuel’ on oil market, says analyst

  • The U.S. exit from the Iran nuclear deal creates the risk that Iran will leave a 50-year-old U.N. treaty to stop atomic weapons proliferation, said RBC Capital Market’s Helima Croft.
  • An Iranian exit from the 1968 treaty would be like “rocket fuel” for oil prices and potentially spark an arms race in the Middle East.
  • Analysts say President Donald Trump’s decision to leave the separate 2015 Iran nuclear deal puts Saudi Arabia back in control of the oil market.

May 29, 2018

by Tom DiChristopher

CNBC

The U.S. exit from the Iran nuclear deal creates the risk that Iran will drop out of a separate 50-year-old United Nations treaty meant to stop the spread of atomic weapons, according to Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets.

Oil prices have recently surged to 3½-year highs, fueled the U.S. nuclear deal pullout and falling output in Venezuela. However, crude prices began tumbling last week after Saudi Arabia and Russia said two dozen oil-producing nations could soon ease output caps that have been in place since January 2017.

But fears of nuclear weapons proliferation in the restive Middle East could quickly reverse that drop, according to Croft.

An Iranian official threatened last week to pull out of the U.N. Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which has sought to prevent the spread of atomic weapons since 1968. Iran signed the treaty that year, but the nation’s leadership in Tehran is now in a standoff with the West over its nuclear program after President Donald Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal and restored punishing sanctions on the Middle Eastern country.

“I think this is the question the market is ignoring right now. I would watch very closely the Iranian announcement to pull out of the nonproliferation treaty,” Croft told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” on Tuesday. “If they pull out of the NPT, that would signal that not only are the Iranians going to resume their program, they’re resuming it with a military option.”

“And then it would become, I think, an arms race in the Middle East,” she added.

In March, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said his country would obtain a nuclear weapon “as soon as possible” if Iran, the kingdom’s archrival, developed one. Israel, which has recently engaged in open conflict with Iran, is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons already.

Iran came under international criticism in the early 2000s and was later sanctioned for its alleged research into nuclear weapons development while ostensibly pursuing a peaceful energy program. After years of diplomacy, Iran reached a deal with six world powers that lifted the sanctions in exchange for Tehran accepting limits on its nuclear program and allowing inspectors into the country.

Under the NPT, countries without nuclear weapons like Iran vow never to acquire them. The 2015 nuclear deal — negotiated with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the Obama administration — subjected Iran to extra scrutiny in order to re-establish trust with the international community.

But the pressure campaign now being waged by the Trump administration could push Iran to abandon both the nuclear deal and the NPT, Croft said. The European Union is trying to preserve the 2015 deal, but America’s influence over the global financial system means many European companies may toe the U.S. line, despite the EU’s efforts to shield them from far-reaching sanctions.

Iran’s economy is already weakening, spurring protests over corruption in the banking system and other grievances. This year, Iran’s currency has collapsed, and its uncertain how Iran will respond to the added pressure from a loss of international business, said Croft.

“If they come to believe that the U.S. and the regional partners are pursuing regime change, I think we could get a very nasty Iranian response,” she said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s first major speech last week drew speculation that the administration’s policy is indeed to topple the nearly 40-year-old regime in Tehran. While Pompeo has sought to tamp down that speculation, the Iranians may not be convinced, said John Kilduff, founding partner at energy hedge fund Again Capital.

“They’re like playing a game of Jenga, where you push the blocks out, because they’re hoping for the regime to tip over,” he told “Squawk on the Street” on Tuesday.

“And as much as European Union officials are trying to say that they want to have a workaround against these U.S. sanctions, all the companies, the banks and the oil companies, are all in the process of pulling out and saying we’re not touching that with a 10-foot pole.”

Saudis back in control     

Both Croft and Kilduff said Trump’s pullout has given Saudi Arabia the upper hand in the oil market. Trump essentially made a bargain to pull out of the Iran deal so long as the Saudis agreed to increase oil output to offset any price spike that resulted from the loss of Iranian crude supplies, according to Croft.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin recently told reporters the United States held discussions with “various parties” to pump more to offset falling Iranian exports, which could raise gasoline prices for American drivers.

“We’re back hat in hand to the Saudis saying put more barrels on the market,” Croft said.

“This is the issue, is that the U.S. cannot deal with a supply shock. We have to go back to countries that hold spare capacity. So when Venezuela potentially loses over the course of a year a million barrels, if we take off several hundred additional Iranian barrels, Saudi Arabia has to fill the gap.”

While the United States is pumping about 10.7 million barrels a day — overtaking Saudi Arabia and closing in on top producer Russia — bottlenecks in western Texas will prevent American drillers from fully compensating for lost Iranian supplies, Kilduff said.

“If there’s one thing this episode should tell us all, we are not the swing producer. Saudi Arabia is,” he said. “They’re more in control now than I’ve ever seen.”

 

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