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Wells Fargo Closes Campaign’s Bank Account over Disagreement with Donors

Add a new chapter to the debate over private regulation of speech. Wells Fargo closed the bank account of a Florida candidate who received campaign contributions from lobbyists from the medical marijuana industry. The candidate, Nikki Fried, is herself a former medical marijuana lobbyist-turned candidate for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Wells Fargo wrote Fried’s campaign in July. “As part of the onboarding of the client it was uncovered some information regarding the customers [sic] political platform and that they are advocating for expanding patient access to medical marijuana.” The bank asked, “Can you confirm the types of transactions expected for this customer & if any of the transactions will include funds received from lobbyists from the medical marijuana industry in any capacity?”

According to Forbes, the campaign confirmed that it had received money from medical marijuana lobbyists. Wells Fargo then notified the campaign that its account would be closed. “As a result of a recent review of your account relationship, we determined that we need to discontinue our business relationship and close the account above within 30 days from the date of this letter,” wrote the bank.

“It is Wells Fargo’s policy not to knowingly bank or provide services to marijuana businesses or for activities related to those businesses, based on federal laws under which the sale and use of marijuana is illegal even if state laws differ,” said spokeswoman Bridget Braxton in a statement. “We continually review our banking relationships to ensure we adhere to strict regulatory and risk guidelines.”

In response, Fried has asked her supporters to consider closing their Wells Fargo accounts as well.

“This is absolutely unprecedented,” Fried told The New York Times. “I’ve been in this campaign since the beginning of June. Everybody in Florida knows that I’m one of the main proponents of the expansion of medical marijuana.”

This isn’t the first time a bank has closed an account over a client’s associations with the marijuana industry or advocacy for marijuana reform. The nonprofit Marijuana Policy Project had its account with PNC Bank terminated last year. Many banks have long been wary of doing business with the marijuana industry, due to federal laws which still ban the substance. But in closing accounts for advocacy groups and candidates, banks are – perhaps unintentionally – stepping into the political arena.

Doing business with one side of an issue, but not the other, is effectively lending support to that side. Doing business with neither side isn’t satisfactory either; that would just inhibit speech about controversial issues. Would the third option – tolerating speech on all sides – be so crazy?

Banks can say they’re not trying to inhibit marijuana reform efforts, they’re just trying to protect themselves. But if legal uncertainty around an issue is enough for major players to stop doing business with politicians and nonprofits that advocate on that issue, the political ramifications are easy to imagine. And the potential applications reach far beyond marijuana laws.

We’ve seen government officials wage a war against websites that allow advertising for sex work. We’ve seen state attorneys general go after businesses and nonprofits that express skepticism of climate change. We’ve seen the state of New York allege that the National Rifle Association’s insurance program is illegal. Creating a cloud of suspicion around an issue or industry and then scaring businesses away from its strongest advocates is a replicable strategy that could be applied to issues across the political spectrum.

One of the longest running debates about free speech is whether it should be thought of in purely First Amendment terms (“Congress shall make no law…”) or as a broader, cultural tolerance towards speech. That debate has heated up in recent years and months as we’ve seen corporations shake up their associations, or even restrict their customers’ speech, in response to political pressure. Even critics of corporate political activity have somewhat changed their tune in response to the new climate.

Businesses denying service to risky causes adds a new dimension to these debates. Americans expect corporations to speak out about the impact government actions may have on their business. How they feel about picking and choosing clients on the basis of their donor base and political views remains to be seen. One thing is for sure: this is a trend to keep an eye on going forward.

Jury reaches verdict for Manafort on 8 counts

(CNBC) — Jurors have reached a verdict in the trial of former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort.

Manafort, who was in charge of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign for several months in 2016, was tried on over 18 counts, including charges of bank fraud and subscribing to false income tax returns.

Manafort, 69, faces another federal trial next month in Washington, D.C., which also stems from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.

The post Jury reaches verdict for Manafort on 8 counts appeared first on WND.

Dennis Prager: Facebook apology unconvincing

Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager

Prager University founder Dennis Prager says he’s unconvinced by an apology from Facebook for removing some of his commentary and educational videos.

He has a lawsuit over restrictions on his videos pending against Google and its subsidiary, YouTube, at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

But in an interview with Fox, he talked about the apology from Facebook, which had taken down some of his videos, then restored them.

The company confirmed that they were not in violation of any Facebook standard.

Facebook told him, “We mistakenly removed these videos and have restored them because they don’t break our standards.”

The topics included an interview with a psychiatrist on how to forgive, and a talk from a rabbi on not gossiping.

The interview:

if(typeof(jQuery)=="function"){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)}; jwplayer('jwplayer_Yk8UhlwW_pszPfxYQ_div').setup( {"playlist":"https:\/\/content.jwplatform.com\/feeds\/Yk8UhlwW.json","ph":2} );

He told interviewer Shannon Bream that the issue is not just a few videos being restricted.

In fact, it’s the future of free speech in the country.

“If the left doesn’t like what you do, they censor you,” he warned. “Tragically, the left doesn’t believe in free speech.”

He said a Pew Research poll showed college students don’t believe the First Amendment applies to “hate” speech, but it is the students who want to define “hate.”

Regarding Facebook, Prager said of the apology, “I’m skeptical. If they come back to us and say this is why it happened and we fired the guy who did it. … I’ll be impressed. I suspect no one will pay a price at Facebook.”

And he said another “mistake” will happen in the future.

If Americans don’t awaken to the threat, he said, “We will lose … free speech.”

He also discussed his lawsuit against Google and YouTube, noting that the lower court judge who dismissed it said social media claims that their platforms are open was “mere puffery.”

Prager University describes itself as a “conservative nonprofit digital media organization that is associated with and presents the views of leading conservative experts on current and historical events.”

In the YouTube case, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh decided the organization did not successfully demonstrate YouTube infringed its free speech by restricting its videos by age.

The judge ruled internet giants, who have a virtual monopoly on web access and usage, weren’t “state actors” and so weren’t necessarily subject to the First Amendment’s provisions about “public forums” for speech.

The censorship fight developed because the social media company claimed some of the Prager U videos were inappropriate for some viewers.

Those include videos titled “Cops Are The Good Guys,” “Why American Must Lead,” “College Made Me a Conservative” and “What’s Wrong with E-Cigarettes?”

YouTube put a long list of videos under a restricted-access setting on its site, and Koh argued the defendants are “private entities” and essentially can do what they want.

Google, the YouTube owner, already had acknowledged that determining restrictions for videos can be subjective but declined to accept liability for its decisions.

WND reported the assertion that internet giants such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have declared war on conservatives was gaining strength.

Talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh believes he has identified the ideology driving the internet giants.

“These people are pure – they would never think of themselves this way – but these are pure Stalinists. While they’re running around call[ing] Trump a Stalinist, they don’t even know what it really is,” he charged.

Prager, whose petition to fight back against YouTube’s censorship already has collected more than 511,000 signatures with a goal of 1 million, charges YouTube is restricting access to his work “simply because they present a conservative point of view.”

“Silicon Valley giants like YouTube continue to censor the ideas they don’t agree with,” he said. “They promote their leftist ideology and restrict conservative speech.”

The post Dennis Prager: Facebook apology unconvincing appeared first on WND.

Dennis Prager: Facebook apology unconvincing

Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager

Prager University founder Dennis Prager says he’s unconvinced by an apology from Facebook for removing some of his commentary and educational videos.

He has a lawsuit over restrictions on his videos pending against Google and its subsidiary, YouTube, at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

But in an interview with Fox, he talked about the apology from Facebook, which had taken down some of his videos, then restored them.

The company confirmed that they were not in violation of any Facebook standard.

Facebook told him, “We mistakenly removed these videos and have restored them because they don’t break our standards.”

The topics included an interview with a psychiatrist on how to forgive, and a talk from a rabbi on not gossiping.

The interview:

if(typeof(jQuery)=="function"){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)}; jwplayer('jwplayer_Yk8UhlwW_pszPfxYQ_div').setup( {"playlist":"https:\/\/content.jwplatform.com\/feeds\/Yk8UhlwW.json","ph":2} );

He told interviewer Shannon Bream that the issue is not just a few videos being restricted.

In fact, it’s the future of free speech in the country.

“If the left doesn’t like what you do, they censor you,” he warned. “Tragically, the left doesn’t believe in free speech.”

He said a Pew Research poll showed college students don’t believe the First Amendment applies to “hate” speech, but it is the students who want to define “hate.”

Regarding Facebook, Prager said of the apology, “I’m skeptical. If they come back to us and say this is why it happened and we fired the guy who did it. … I’ll be impressed. I suspect no one will pay a price at Facebook.”

And he said another “mistake” will happen in the future.

If Americans don’t awaken to the threat, he said, “We will lose … free speech.”

He also discussed his lawsuit against Google and YouTube, noting that the lower court judge who dismissed it said social media claims that their platforms are open was “mere puffery.”

Prager University describes itself as a “conservative nonprofit digital media organization that is associated with and presents the views of leading conservative experts on current and historical events.”

In the YouTube case, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh decided the organization did not successfully demonstrate YouTube infringed its free speech by restricting its videos by age.

The judge ruled internet giants, who have a virtual monopoly on web access and usage, weren’t “state actors” and so weren’t necessarily subject to the First Amendment’s provisions about “public forums” for speech.

The censorship fight developed because the social media company claimed some of the Prager U videos were inappropriate for some viewers.

Those include videos titled “Cops Are The Good Guys,” “Why American Must Lead,” “College Made Me a Conservative” and “What’s Wrong with E-Cigarettes?”

YouTube put a long list of videos under a restricted-access setting on its site, and Koh argued the defendants are “private entities” and essentially can do what they want.

Google, the YouTube owner, already had acknowledged that determining restrictions for videos can be subjective but declined to accept liability for its decisions.

WND reported the assertion that internet giants such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have declared war on conservatives was gaining strength.

Talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh believes he has identified the ideology driving the internet giants.

“These people are pure – they would never think of themselves this way – but these are pure Stalinists. While they’re running around call[ing] Trump a Stalinist, they don’t even know what it really is,” he charged.

Prager, whose petition to fight back against YouTube’s censorship already has collected more than 511,000 signatures with a goal of 1 million, charges YouTube is restricting access to his work “simply because they present a conservative point of view.”

“Silicon Valley giants like YouTube continue to censor the ideas they don’t agree with,” he said. “They promote their leftist ideology and restrict conservative speech.”

The post Dennis Prager: Facebook apology unconvincing appeared first on WND.

S&P all-time high, ties record for longest bull market

(CNBC) — The S&P 500 hit an all-time high on Tuesday and the benchmark tied the record for the longest bull market ever as investors bet that the strengthening economy and booming corporate profits seen under President Donald Trump’s first two years would continue, despite recent trade battles.

The broad index rose 0.5 percent to a new record, led by consumer discretionary and energy. In midday trading, the S&P 500 surpassed 2,872 a high reached on Jan. 26.

The bull market turns 3,453 days old on Wednesday, which would make it the longest on record by most definitions. On Tuesday, it tied the one that ran from October 1990 to March 2000. The S&P 500 has risen more than 300 percent since hitting its financial crisis bottom on March 9, 2009. For the year, the index is up more than 7 percent.

The post S&P all-time high, ties record for longest bull market appeared first on WND.

Reader Submitted: VARIA's 6 Pieces Can Mix and Match to Create 25+ Different Types of Furniture

Most young workers already tap retirement savings

(CNBC) — Many young retirement savers seem to be missing the point.

Nearly 60 percent of investors ages 18 to 34 say they already have taken money from their retirement account, according to research from E-Trade Financial being released today. That figure has been growing steadily since 2015, when it was 31 percent.

“There’s a temptation to access retirement accounts, but it should be an option of last resort,” said Mike Loewengart, vice president of investment strategy at E-Trade.

The post Most young workers already tap retirement savings appeared first on WND.

Most young workers already tap retirement savings

(CNBC) — Many young retirement savers seem to be missing the point.

Nearly 60 percent of investors ages 18 to 34 say they already have taken money from their retirement account, according to research from E-Trade Financial being released today. That figure has been growing steadily since 2015, when it was 31 percent.

“There’s a temptation to access retirement accounts, but it should be an option of last resort,” said Mike Loewengart, vice president of investment strategy at E-Trade.

The post Most young workers already tap retirement savings appeared first on WND.

Russia buys 800,000 ounces of gold in July

(GOLDSEEK) — Russia under Putin continues to add to its gold reserves and added another 800,000 ounces or 25 metric tonnes in June. Many analysts believe this buying will continue in the coming months given the very serious geopolitical tensions between Russia and the U.S.

Russia’s total gold reserves now amount to 63.3 million ounces or around 1,969 metric tonnes, with a current value of just $76 billion (based on gold at $1,200/0z).

Foreign exchange diversification intensified in April this year and their gold accumulation is averaging over 20 tonnes per month. It is interesting to note that Russia dumped some $90 billion of US Treasuries in April and May – which is significantly more than the value of the entire Russian gold reserves, now worth $76 billion.

The post Russia buys 800,000 ounces of gold in July appeared first on WND.

Russia buys 800,000 ounces of gold in July

(GOLDSEEK) — Russia under Putin continues to add to its gold reserves and added another 800,000 ounces or 25 metric tonnes in June. Many analysts believe this buying will continue in the coming months given the very serious geopolitical tensions between Russia and the U.S.

Russia’s total gold reserves now amount to 63.3 million ounces or around 1,969 metric tonnes, with a current value of just $76 billion (based on gold at $1,200/0z).

Foreign exchange diversification intensified in April this year and their gold accumulation is averaging over 20 tonnes per month. It is interesting to note that Russia dumped some $90 billion of US Treasuries in April and May – which is significantly more than the value of the entire Russian gold reserves, now worth $76 billion.

The post Russia buys 800,000 ounces of gold in July appeared first on WND.

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