Tech firms post want ads: foreign workers only…

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A post-graduate student-visa program is just another scheme to displace American technology workers.

BY IAN SMITH

American technology workers won a big victory in the federal courts this month. The D.C. District Court ruled that a STEM-related visa program created by the Department of Homeland Security was potentially damaging to the domestic labor market and also in violation of federal rule-making procedure. For the plaintiffs in the case, the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, however, the fight against BigTech lobbyists and Homeland Security has only just begun. DHS’s so-called Optional Practical Training (OPT) program allows foreign nationals to live and work in the U.S. on a student visa even after graduation. In a rule promulgated by DHS in 2008, foreigners graduating in a STEM field at a U.S. school had these authorizations extended to nearly two and a half years after their graduation. U.S. employers love this because, on top of the longer work period, they have a greater chance to transition them into the H-1B program, a “professional specialty worker” visa that can last up to an additional six years. Also, employers receive a tax benefit for hiring OPT participants over Americans, as they do not have to pay Medicare and Social Security taxes for aliens on student visas. Plaintiffs’ counsel, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (which I work for), argued in court that the OPT extension, created not by statute but entirely by DHS, was really just a way to circumvent the existing H-1B cap of 65,000 annual visa grants set down by Congress years before. Helpfully for us, DHS had already admitted that this was the purpose for the extension. As it explained in the agency rule creating the extension, “the H-1B category is greatly oversubscribed,” which, as a result, has “adversely affected the ability of US employers to recruit and retain skilled workers.” With the H-1B cap having been held up by Congress over the last few years, DHS did the next best thing. As H-1B guru Norm Matloff describes in a blog post discussing our case, the agency simply went ahead and created “a de facto expansion of H-1B.” Let me digress for a moment on the H-1B lottery and the “oversubscription” issue. Unlike other visas, the fees for H-1B applications are refundable; there is no penalty for oversubscribing. As a consequence, heavy H-1B users, such as the outsourcing firms that supply BigTech companies as well as BigTech companies themselves, always apply for more visas than they really want in order to get close to their target. David North at the Center for Immigration Studies explains the process here. So when you hear in the press and elsewhere that “petitions have outstripped slots yet again by two-to-one,” the numbers are merely a reflection of companies’ trying to game the lottery system. RELATED: The H-1B Visa Program Gives American Workers a Raw Deal As Matloff explains, OPT is “just as harmful as H-1B.” The two programs are now similar in size, and the benefits to BigTech are also similar. Like H-1B holders, OPTs are younger than most American technology workers, and therefore cheaper. Citing the “prevailing wage” rules that technically exist for H-1Bs, Matloff notes that “the legal wage floors for H-1Bs depend on experience” (the worker’s age, in other words), “so hiring young H-1Bs in lieu of older Americans is legal.” As he says with cases such as SoCal Edison and Disney, “age was the key factor underlying the wage savings accrued by hiring H-1Bs.” See this link for information on a similar suit against Google based on age discrimination (which the company has since settled).

In the case of OPTs, however, this “wage floor” isn’t even available; being recent graduates, they’re all young (and cheap). Further, OPT participants are even cheaper to employ because, as stated earlier, aliens on student visas are exempted from Social Security and Medicare. Fundamentally, the OPT program, like H-1B, allows BigTech firms to flood the labor market, creating artificial competition and pressuring the standard of living we’ve earned through decades of hard-fought democratic and labor reforms. The cost savings, meanwhile, get siphoned up by private technology firms, many of which grew out of taxpayer-funded military programs. Thankfully, much of this wasn’t lost on the judge. DHS had asserted that our plaintiffs didn’t have standing to sue because (a) they couldn’t prove an OPT participant actually took one of their jobs (an impossible and unfair demand) and, in the alternative, (b) the plaintiffs were currently employed and so couldn’t show any injury — all are employed, mostly in contract positions. The judge knocked down both arguments by pointing out that “an influx of OPT computer programmers would increase the labor supply, which is likely to depress plaintiff’s members’ wages and threaten their job security, even if they remain employed” (emphasis added). RELATED: ’You’re Fired — Now Train Your Replacement’ More concrete evidence was also offered. Plaintiffs showed examples of job advertisements where only OPT participants were requested to apply. As Matloff likes to note, these companies are not just using H-1Bs and OPT participants to replace American workers, as in the SoCal Edison and Disney cases; they’re also hiring them instead of American workers. And many times, it isn’t “highly skilled” types that are being imported but simply “ordinary people, doing ordinary work.” The benefits of circumventing the H-1B program are apparently big. Arguing that DHS’s chosen 29-month extension period was an arbitrary and therefore invalid decision, plaintiffs showed the court that industry lobbyists CompeteAmerica, lobbyists from Microsoft and the Chamber of Commerce, and others had all been in contact with DHS requesting the same 29-month extension. And showing just how eager it was to comply, DHS implemented the rule without going through the statutorily mandated notice-and-comment period, a window of time in which the public can criticize agency action. GET FREE EXCLUSIVE NR CONTENT DHS tried to argue in court that skipping the process was necessitated by a looming “fiscal emergency” in the U.S. economy that could be ameliorated only by letting “tens of thousands of OPT workers” join the tech industry. Whose economic analysis did DHS cite to back this up? Studies from the technology industry itself. Ultimately, although the court knocked down the OPT extension on procedural grounds, the victory is only temporary. DHS can open up the rule to notice-and-comment and try again. MORE IMMIGRATION DID FACEBOOK INTENTIONALLY BLOCK POSTS FROM CONSERVATIVE IMMIGRATION THINK TANK? ON IMMIGRATION, SANTORUM ADDS SUBSTANCE WE CAN APPLY THE 14TH AMENDMENT WHILE ALSO REFORMING BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP Further, the judge rejected our argument that the program violates the law on other, more substantive (and less procedural) grounds. According to congressionally made statute (Immigration and Naturalization Act § 1101(a)(15)(F)(i)), student visas cannot be allocated for working purposes and may be allocated only to “bona fide students . . . solely for the purpose of pursuing such a course of study . . . at an established . . . academic institution” (emphasis added). But again, OPT, entirely a DHS creation, purports to let student-visa holders join the workforce. By ignoring the stipulations of Congress, the program exceeds DHS’s statutory authority. By giving DHS the authority to redefine what a “student” is, the court is allowing the agency to set the duration and conditions of a student’s stay, potentially letting them occupy the labor market for years upon years. Good for the foreign “student,” good for the trillion-dollar tech industry, but bad for the American worker.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/422943/technology-industry-foreign-workers

WE HAVE ALREADY WITNESSED THE FIRST 1300 POINTS OF THE STOCK MARKET CRASH OF 2015

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What has been happening on Wall Street the past few days has been nothing short of stunning.

by MICHAEL SNYDER | ECONOMIC COLLAPSE | AUGUST 21, 2015

On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 358 points. It was the largest single day decline in a year and a half, and investors are starting to panic.

Overall, the Dow is now down more than 1300 points from the peak of the market. Just yesterday, I wrote about all of the experts that are warning about a stock market crash in 2015, and after today I am sure that a lot more people will start jumping on the bandwagon. In particular, tech stocks are getting absolutely hammered lately. The Nasdaq has fallen close to 3.5% over the past two days alone, and it has dropped below its 200-day moving average. The Russell 2000 (a small-cap stock market index) is also now trading below its 200-day moving average. What all of this means is that the stock market crash of 2015 has already begun. The only question left to answer at this point is how bad it will ultimately turn out to be.

When stocks were booming, tech stocks were leading the way up.
But now that the market has turned, tech stocks are starting to lead the way down…

The Dow and the S&P 500 are negative for the year. The so-called “FANG” stocks – Facebook, Apple, Netflix, and Google – were some of the biggest losers, and helped send the Nasdaq more than 2% lower. Biotechs also suffered big losses; the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF fell 4% to a three-month low. The Vix, which gauges market expectations for near-term shifts in the S&P 500, surged more than 21%.
And Twitter is absolutely imploding. It has fallen below its IPO price, and at this point it is now down 65 percent from the peak.

Of course it was inevitable that Twitter and these tech stocks would start falling eventually. I specifically warned my readers about Twitter’s stock price nearly two years ago. I hope people listened to what I was saying and got out in time.

This current market crash is happening in the context of a full-blown global financial meltdown. Stock markets all over the planet are collapsing, and currencies are being devalued left and right. The following comes from a recent piece by Wolf Richter…

Hot money is already fleeing emerging markets. Higher rates in the US will drain more capital out of countries that need it the most. It will pressure emerging market currencies and further increase the likelihood of a debt crisis in countries whose governments, banks, and corporations borrow in a currency other than their own.

This scenario would be bad enough for the emerging economies. But now China has devalued the yuan to stimulate its exports and thus its economy at the expense of others. And one thing has become clear on Wednesday: these struggling economies that compete with China are going to protect their exports against Chinese encroachment.

Hence a currency war.
Two more major shots in the currency war were fired on Thursday by Kazakhstan and Vietnam…

Hit by sharp declines in crude prices, the oil-producing nation of Kazakhstan introduced a freely floating exchange rate for the tenge, which subsequently lost more than a quarter of its value.

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) devalued the dong (VND) by 1 percent against the dollar on Wednesday—its third adjustment so far this year—and simultaneously widened the trading band to 3 percent from 2 percent previously, the second increase in six days.
A quarter of its value?

Now that is a devaluation.

In the coming days, we are likely to see even more emerging markets devalue their currencies in a global “race to the bottom”. But this “race to the bottom” presents a great danger to financial markets. As I have written about previously, there are 74 trillion dollars in derivatives globally that are tied to the value of currencies. As foreign exchange rates start flying around all over the place, there are going to be financial institutions out there that are going to be losing obscene amounts of money.

I cannot say the “d word” enough. Derivatives are going to play a starring role during this financial collapse, and so that is a word that you will want to be listening for very carefully in the weeks and months to come.

The meltdown that has already been affecting much of the rest of the planet is now starting to affect us. And it was inevitable that it would. I like how Clive P. Maund put it recently…

Many lesser markets around the world are toppling, but somehow the big Western markets of Europe, Japan and the US are staying aloft. If you have ever made a sand castle on the beach and watched what happened when the tide comes in, you will recall that it is the weaker outer ramparts and smaller turrets that collapse first, and the big central towers that hold out the longest. The weaker outer ramparts and smaller turrets are the Emerging Markets which are already crumbling, and it won’t be long until the big central towers – the big Western Markets, go the same way – everything is pointing to it.
The funny thing is that even though all of the signs are pointing to a nightmarish global financial crisis, the mainstream media continues to insist that everything is going to be just fine.

In fact, CNBC says that the recent dip in stock prices is a “bull indicator” and they are encouraging everyone to pour lots more money into stocks.

But of course the truth is that what financial conditions are really telling us is that stocks have much, much farther to fall.

For instance, high yield credit is starting to crash just like it did prior to the stock market crash of 2008. Stocks and high yield credit usually tend to track one another quite closely, and so when there is a divergence that is a huge red flag. And as this chart from Zero Hedge demonstrates, a very large divergence has developed in recent months…

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Sadly, the 358 point plunge for the Dow on Thursday was just the beginning.

Yes, there will be up days and down days, but we are now officially entering the “danger zone” as we roll into the months of September and October.

So will 2015 soon be mentioned along with the famous market crashes of 1929, 1987, 2001 and 2008?

Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

JEB BUSH: NSA NEEDS BROADER POWER, URGES TECH FIRMS TO COOPERATE

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by BILL BARROW | AP | AUGUST 18, 2015

Presidential candidate linked to drug cartels wants NSA to spy on your personal life

ATLANTA (AP) — Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush said Tuesday that the government should have broad surveillance powers of Americans and private technology firms should cooperate better with intelligence agencies to help combat “evildoers.”

At a national security forum in the early voting state of South Carolina, Bush put himself at odds with Republican congressional leaders who earlier this year voted to end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone records.

The former Florida governor said Congress should revisit its changes to the Patriot Act, and he dismissed concerns from civil libertarians who say the program violated citizens’ constitutionally protected privacy rights.

“There’s a place to find common ground between personal civil liberties and NSA doing its job,” Bush said. “I think the balance has actually gone the wrong way.”

Bush also said the U.S. should send more troops — he didn’t say how many — and equipment to eastern European nations in response to Russia’s increasingly aggressive posture in the region. He said Russian President Vladimir Putin should know that his “adventurism” comes with “a price to pay.”

“Rather than reacting to the bad behavior, I think we need to be more forward-leaning as it relates to what the consequences will be,” Bush said.

The remarks were part of Bush’s ongoing efforts to pitch an aggressive foreign policy as he struggles to break out of a crowded Republican presidential primary in which businessman and former television reality star Donald Trump has garnered much of the attention.

Pushing a hawkish foreign policy is a staple of Republican presidential politics. The exception is Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, and even the libertarian-leaning senator has refused to take military action off the table as he argues for a reduced American footprint around the world.

Yet for Bush, the discussion comes with particular challenges as he tries to distance himself from former President George W. Bush, the candidate’s brother, who signed the Patriot Act into law and oversaw the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Congress voted in June to end the bulk collection of American phone records under the Patriot Act, a controversial program that NSA contractor Edward Snowden disclosed publicly in 2013. The Obama administration announced recently that the agency later this year would destroy all the remaining records that already had been collected.

Bush doubled-down Tuesday on his assertions that there is “no evidence” the data collection violated civil liberties. “I’ve found not one” case, he said.

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent bipartisan agency, declared NSA’s phone records collections program illegal in 2014, and a federal court of appeals reached the same conclusion earlier this year.

A May analysis from the Justice Department found that FBI agents interviewed by the inspector general’s office “did not identify any major case developments” that came from using Section 215 that allowed the bulk records collection.

Bush also criticized private technology firms for using encryption to make it harder for their customers to be surveilled. “It makes it harder for the American government to do its job while protecting civil liberties to make sure evildoers aren’t in our midst,” he said.

Noting that companies like Google are getting pressure from customers, Bush said “market share … should not be the be-all-end-all,” and he called for “a new arrangement with Silicon Valley in this regard.”

Separately, Bush told CBS News that he disagreed with rival Donald Trump on the birthright of children born in the United States to parents who are immigrants living in the country illegally.

THIS MAP SHOWS HOW OBSESSED AMERICA IS WITH DONALD TRUMP

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BY COLIN CAMPBELL

Real-estate mogul Donald Trump is crushing his GOP presidential rivals — both in polls and when it comes to Google searches.

On Tuesday, Google Trends published an interactive county-by-county map of US searches for Republican candidates.

And Trump, by far, appears to be drawing the most interest in almost every state. His color code, red, sweeps the country, from Alaska to Florida.

The one exception to Trump’s apparent dominance, interestingly, is in Wisconsin, where local Gov. Scott Walker leads many of the counties. No other Republican candidate holds his or her home state against Trump as clearly.

The overall results aren’t necessarily surprising: Trump has had a near monopoly of presidential media coverage and has led in most of the recent polls of the Republican primary.

Google pegged the results to the coming GOP debate on Thursday.

View the interactive map below:

Google Trends also posted a map of the second-most-searched candidates in each county. Unlike the previous map, this resulted in a tableau of colors representing the White House aspirants:

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/google-searches-map-donald-trump#ixzz3hxIG1GQG

Imminent Civil Disobedience: the Return of the Right

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BY PERRY JONES

Within the memory of those who’ve been alive for more than a few decades, there was a time in the United States  when court orders were defied and laws were ignored in the name of conscience and ‘a higher law.’

At the time, defiance of such mandates and court orders became like a veritable badge of honor.

The 1960s era of civil disobedience set the country on a new trajectory whose repercussions still reverberate. In fact, some of the concern pertaining to hedonistic trends in our culture today may be traced back to this era of extreme and violent challenges to the status quo.

That extreme response, then, was nothing new. Americans have never been strangers to rebelliousness and lawbreaking. After all, what was our own revolution but a rebellion to overthrow the King and Parliament, disobedience taken to the extreme – outright war!

Putting a wet finger in the air to gauge the winds of social direction, there are indications of a brewing period of greater civil disobedience ahead. This time, opposed to the 1960s, it will be led by sentiment from the right.

What are the indicators?

A precursor may be found in the response to the Oklahoma Supreme Court decision that ordered a monument of the Ten Commandments removed from the Capitol by a 7-2 vote.

The court saw the Commandments were “religious in nature and an integral part of the Jewish and Christian faiths” and must go.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has refused. Oklahoma lawmakers have filed legislation to let voters remove from their constitution the very article that the justices had invoked, which would allow the monument to remain. Some legislators even want the justices to be impeached.

Fallin’s action – refusing to follow the decision of the state’s Supreme Court – is tantamount to the 1960s style civil disobedience and likely harbinger of more to come. In fact, examples galore already swirl around us, albeit at a low velocity at present.

The U.S. past is rich with stories of such rebellious responses, which have been lionized and embedded into our history. Beginning with the characters and sub-plots that led to and through the Revolutionary War; to the anti-slavery fanatic John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry and his hanging; to the open rejection of the Volstead Act that brought an end to prohibition; to Rosa Parks refusal to give up her seat on that Birmingham bus; to Dr. Martin Luther King’s directive:

“one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

These are only a few of the countless stories celebrated for how a demonstration of courageous rebellion positively changed the future.

Today, a pizza shop owner in Iowa and a bakery owner in Oregon assert their Christian beliefs prohibit them from providing service to a same-sex wedding. They are both vilified and celebrated, but one of these will prevail in the longer run.

Many businesses have not complied with the Obamacare mandate to provide contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs to their employees. Many priests and pastors continue to refuse to perform same-sex marriages and churches and chapels refuse to host them and Christian colleges and universities deny their married-couple facilities to homosexuals.

The LGBT community strives to make it a violation of federal civil rights law for those Christians to refuse these services. But, as history shows, even with legislation in place, many will follow the advice of Dr King: “one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

The chasm between values in United States, on issues as fundamental as right and wrong, good and bad, proper and improper, has never been so wide and deep.

If America were a family, the family would fall apart. The parents would divorce. The children would go their separate ways, with Google as their God.

Twenty five years ago, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. wrote that America is disuniting.

At the beginning of a post-Christian/anti-Christian era, divisions on social, moral, cultural and political values and views are accelerating that disuniting.

The trend is likely to continue as history indicates legislation can’t ensure 100% compliance by forcing Americans for compromise or sacrifice their beliefs and values.

H/T LibertyNews