Thursday, April 25, 2019

5 Critical Facts You Need to Know About Stephen Paddock

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by Jay Syrmopoulos, The Free Thought Project:

Las Vegas, NV – The gunman in the Las Vegas mass shooting, who opened fire on concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival — which is now being called the deadliest mass shooting in US history — has been identified as Stephen Paddock.

The shooting rampage left at least 58 dead and 515 injured, according to the latest report from the Las Vegas Metro Police Department.

The shooter, Stephen Paddock, is a 64-year-old man from Mesquite, Nevada, who opened fire on concert-goers located in a fairgrounds area on Las Vegas Boulevard from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel.

SWAT officers responded to the hotel room and used an explosive breach to enter the room and engage the suspect, but believe that he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound prior to officers gaining access to the room.

In spite of the myriad of conspiracy theories and fake photos and motives posted online, Police do not yet have a motive and Paddock’s motivation is unknown.

Although ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, without evidence, police claim that Paddock has no known ties to any terrorist organization, according to NBC.

Here is what we know about the shooter thus far.

1. Police Do Not Believe This Was an Act of Terror ‘At this point’ & Called Paddock a ‘Local Individual’

Police said the shooter was a “local individual” who was firing from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel just outside the concert area. Authorities report that Paddock died inside the hotel room after a police SWAT team used an explosive breach to blow open the door and then attempted engaged with him. Police believe that he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound prior to officers gaining access to the room.

Although ISIS has attempted to take responsibility for the attack, Sheriff Joe Lombardo, when asked by a reporter if the shooting was an “act of terrorism,” said “no, not at this point. We believe it was a local individual. He resides here locally. I’m not at liberty to give you his place of residence yet, because it’s an ongoing investigation, we don’t know what his belief system was at this time. … Right now we believe he is the sole aggressor at this point and the scene is static.”

Read More @ TheFreeThoughtProject.com

It’s Time to Question the Modern Nation-State Model of Governance

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by Michael Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg:

I typically try to avoid news on Sundays, but I spent much of yesterday in complete awe of the extraordinary strength and fortitude of the Catalan people in the face of totalitarian violence from the Spanish state against citizens attempting to vote in a peaceful referendum. Before you start telling me about how the vote is illegal and goes against the Spanish constitution, let me be perfectly clear. That line of thinking is entirely irrelevant to the point of this post.

Specifically, I believe humanity is reaching a point in its evolution, both from a consciousness perspective as well as a technological one, where we’ll begin to increasingly question many of our silly contemporary assumptions about how governance should work.  The primary one is this absurd notion that a nation-state should be seen as a permanent structure of political governance which only becomes dissolvable in the event of violent revolution or war.

When it comes to great leaps in human progress, a crucial component to lasting change is convincing enough people that a particular way of organizing human affairs is outdated and harmful. I think if we take a step back and look at how people are governed across the world, there are very few places where “the people” feel they live in societies in which they exert any sort of genuine political self-determination. When we look at the last few decades of political governance in the Western world, a march toward more and more centralized political power has been a facet of life in both the U.S and Europe. I believe this trend is being pushed to its breaking point, and groups of humans with common culture, language and interests will increasingly question whether massive nation-states (or wannabe super states like the EU) make sense. In the past five years alone, Scotland held a referendum on UK membership, Great Britain voted to leave the EU, and most recently, Catalonia took a major step toward independence with yesterday’s banned referendum.

Those who favor centralized power see these events and movements toward decentralized political power as inconvenient, intransigent outbursts from the ungrateful, unwashed masses. Movements which would best put down one way or the other in order to carry on with the business of further centralizing power. They view such burgeoning drives for political self-determination as temporary storms which the wise elders of centralization must merely ride out. Unfortunately for them, this is not the case.

If anything, we can expect many more movements for decentralized power in the decades ahead for two main reasons. First, the current system is simply not working for most people. Second, as we become more connected and conscious, we will invariably conclude that all human beings deserve to have a real choice in the type of governments they live under. The prevailing assumption that we’re simply born into a particular nation-state and must accept this situation for the rest of our days irrespective of how brutal, oppressive and dysfunctional it may be, is an irrational, inhumane and outdated perspective.

As things stand today, humans essentially have two choices when it comes to political life. We either accept the nation-state we’re born into and play the game to the best of our advantage, or we try to become citizens of another country with values that more align with our own. The only way to really shatter existing political power structures and form new ones is through violent revolution or war, which is an insane way of reorganizing matters of human governance. One of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s key arguments in casting the Catalan referendum as illegal is that Spain is an indivisible nation under the 1978 constitution. Let’s think about what this means in practice.

Anyone who’s spent any time in Spain understands how culturally and linguistically distinct many of the regions are when compared to Madrid. These are differences that go back centuries and can’t be brushed off by a constitution created a few decades ago. The idea that these various regions must be part of a centralized Spain even if the people within the regions want political autonomy is ethically preposterous, as well as authoritarian and evil in every sense of the word. If done properly, human governance should always be a voluntary arrangement. If an overwhelming majority of culturally distinct people within any nation-state decide the super state is no longer working for them, they should have every right to leave. Anything else is bondage.

As the U.S. Declaration of Independence so eloquently states:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. 

The key aspect of the above declaration is that governments instituted among humans derive their powers from the consent of the governed. If we take the U.S. as an example, how do we know that the people of Texas and California believe centralized power in Washington D.C. as it stands today is an appropriate form of governance unless there’s a periodic vote confirming it? Did any of the 50 states ever actually consent to an out of control centralized deep state-run oligarchy running things as they please? Likewise, how do we know that the people of Catalonia consent to being part of Spain unless you ask them? The truth is you don’t, and this presents a major dilemma we must confront going forward.

If we look at the world’s nation-states, they generally consist of large, centralized political entities comprised of a union of culturally distinct provinces, states or regions. In some cases these regions voluntarily came together over time, while in other cases they were forced together during a war or revolution. It’s crucial that we not view such nation-states as Rajoy views them, as eternal structures that can never be altered, but rather as voluntary political associations. Again, the only way to know such associations are truly voluntary is to periodically subject them to referendums. It seems to me that this should be an integral part of any nation-state. In contrast, we have a name for power relationships that aren’t voluntary. Slavery.

Indeed, the fact that we put up with this at all is downright perplexing. For example, although we accept children should be under the care of parents from birth up to a certain point, at a certain age we pretty much all agree that an adult should be free to make autonomous decisions. While a human becomes free at this micro level upon reaching a certain age, at the macro level most human beings never get to choose what sort of government they live under. Most of us are not at all governed by consent, and this feels very wrong to me.

Read More @ LibertyBlitzkrieg.com

July 20, 1977: CIA Mind Control Project MKUltra Docs Released for First Time

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from Lew Rockwell:

“Project MKUltra” was the name given to an illegal program of human experimentation conducted by the US Central Intelligence Agency, which investigated mind control. The 1975 Church Committee hearings exposed the operation – and on July 20, 1977 a Freedom of Information Act request uncovered a cache of 20,000 documents relating to it.

The origins of MKUltra lie in 1945, and Operation Paperclip — the secret transfer of top Nazi scientists to the US. Armed with extensive documentation on unethical Nazi human experimentation, including research into mind control, a clutch of military programs related to mental manipulation and behavioral modification were launched — including Projects CHATTER, BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE.

Headed by former chemist Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, MKUltra began in April 1953 on the orders of then-CIA Director Allen Welsh Dulles.

Officially — albeit behind closed doors — the CIA claimed the program was pursued in response to perceived instances of mind control techniques employed by Chinese, North Korean and Soviet forces on Allied prisoners of war in the Korean War.

In truth, the agency wished to produce an optimal truth drug for use in interrogations, and explore possible uses for mind controlled subjects — including the control of foreign leaders, and assassination.

For the next 20 years, the CIA — in conjunction with the Special Operations Division of the US Army Chemical Corps — engaged in a panoply of illegal activities.

Most controversially, unwitting test subjects were subject to a number of techniques to manipulate their mental state and brain functions, including the administration of drugs such as LSD, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation, verbal and sexual abuse, as well as a variety of torture techniques.

A 1955 document describing the substances used in the experiments gives some indication of the sheer scope of the project. This includes drugs that will; “promote illogical thinking and impulsiveness to the point where the recipient would be discredited in public”; cause victims to age faster; recreate the effects of alcohol; emulate the symptoms of recognized diseases; induce temporary/permanent brain damage and loss of memory; produce amnesia of particular events; provoke shock and confusion over extended periods of time; create physical disablement (such as paralysis); alter personality structure; cause mental confusion; promote weakness or distortion of eyesight and hearing.

However, LSD came to dominate the program. Typically administered without informed consent to mental patients — a violation of the Nuremberg Code — prisoners, drug addicts and prostitutes (“people who could not fight back” one CIA officer said) in order to study their reactions.

LSD was also administered to CIA employees, military personnel, doctors and other government agents.

In one case, the hallucinogenic drug was administered to a mental patient in Kentucky for 174 straight days.

In another, the CIA set up several brothels in San Francisco, California, dosed customers, and watched and filmed proceedings via one-way mirrors. Brothels were chosen as a surefire means of ensuring victims would not discuss their experience with others.

Most commonly however, test subjects were interrogated under bright lights while doctors took notes. It has been said being spiked with LSD became an “occupational hazard” for CIA agents during this time.

Several deaths reportedly resulted from these actions — most infamously, army scientist Dr. Frank Olson went into deep depression after being unwittingly dosed, later falling to his death from the thirteenth story window of New York City’s Hotel Pennsylvania.

Read More @ LewRockwell.com

New Ghost Gun Update Allows 3D Printing Of Untraceable Handgun

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by Derrick Broze, Activist Post:

The controversial organization Defense Distributed just made it easier to 3D print untraceable handguns.

On October 1, Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed began selling two of the most common handgun “80 percent” receivers. In addition to selling a $1,200 computer-numerically-controlled (CNC) mill which can complete unfinished lower receivers for AR-15 semi-auto rifles, Defense Distributed will now sell unfinished receivers for Glocks and single-stack M1911s.

Using Defense Distributed’s mill, known as the Ghost Gunner, anyone with $1,200 and some basic milling knowledge can create the lower receiver of an AR-15 rifle. The term “ghost guns” was first popularized by gun control advocates because the weapons do not have a serial number and are thus untraceable. Wilson and Defense Distributed have since re-claimed the term in a sort of send-up to the U.S. government, which the company is still fighting over the alleged violations of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

“It’s a certain type of person who builds and enjoys an AR-15—that’s a lot of gun, and most people don’t feel the need to have a big ol’ battle rifle,” Wilson told ArsTechnica. “But we believe lots of people are interested in the conversation about an untraceable, concealable handgun. It’s been on the roadmap the whole time for this project. It’s just always been a question of how we get there, and it ended up being very, very difficult—kinda like the brass ring of the project, if you will.”

“Just like the ARs and stuff, you’re making the identical item that you would otherwise handle, purchase, and fire—so it feels identical,” Wilson notes. “These are real guns.”

Wilson is a former University of Texas School of Law student who gained notoriety in the tech world for his involvement in a series of controversial digital projects, including Dark Wallet, an application to make bitcoin transactions anonymous and untraceable, and his efforts to spread firearms blueprints to the public via downloadable files. In January, Wired named Wilson one of the “most dangerous people on the Internet right now,” putting him in league with Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

In May 2013, Defense Distributed released a video of Wilson firing the world’s first fully 3D printable firearm, the 16-piece Liberator .380 single shot pistol. They also released the 3D printable files to the Internet. Within days the State Department demanded that the files be removed from public access, citing a violation of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. Defense Distributed complied, though Wilson admitted to Forbes that removing all relevant data from public access “might be an impossible standard.”

Read More @ ActivistPost.com

Why 33? (A Short Rant)

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from MartyLeeds33:

Beretta APX 9mm Handgun, by Pat Cascio

by Pat Cascio, Survival Blog:

The new Beretta APX 9mm handgun is a hot seller, and it’s the subject of our review in this article. No other handgun has fit my hand better than the grand old Browning Hi-Power 9mm pistol, and I’m not alone in this feeling, either. I’ve heard the same thing over and over again from folks who own a Hi-Power. Well, all of that changed the moment I picked-up the new Beretta APX 9mm handgun. I have never, and I mean never, had a handgun feel so good in my hand, no exceptions! I just had to get that out of the way at the onset of this review.

SurvivalBlog First to Review U.S. Military Adopted SIG Sauer P320 9mm

As many readers know, the U.S. Army, and now all the other military services, have adopted the SIG Sauer P320 9mm handgun. SurvivalBlog was the first to review this outstanding handgun. We often get the jump on others with new product reviews. I own the SIG P320 Compact model and love it. The competition for a new U.S. military service handgun had many competitors. However, in the end, the SIG was the winner. Needless to say, there were sour grapes from some other competitors, and the usual lawsuits were filed, though they have been dismissed. Beretta modified their outstanding current military issue handgun and called it the Model 93A3. I don’t understand Beretta’s thinking. It really wasn’t a “modular” handgun, and that is what the U.S. Army was looking for. Though there’s nothing wrong with the new Model 93A3.

Beretta’s APX Might Have Beat SIG Sauer P320

Now, if Beretta had entered the APX in the competition, it may have well beat out the SIG Sauer P320. I kid you not. It is “that” good of a 9mm handgun. However, the APX wasn’t manufactured in time to enter the testing, which is too bad. It would have been an outstanding contender against all comers. I’m sure of it. BTW, the APX is also available in .40 S&W. However, since the FBI switched from the .40 caliber and back to 9mm because of improved bullet designs and stopping power, numerous law enforcement agencies are doing the same and dumping the .40 S&W. Now everyone is looking at the APX in 9mm over the .40 S&W.

Beretta APX Barrel and Frame

The APX has a 4.25-inch barrel, which is a nice length for duty carry. There is the polymer black frame, and the slide is also black with slide grasping grooves from the front to the back of the frame on both sides. This is another outstanding feature that I love. The magazines (and you get two) hold 17 rounds, and this is my only source of contention. The magazines are extremely difficult to fully load with 17 rounds, even with the outstanding Butler Creek ASAP magazine loader. That last round is a bear to get into the magazine. The slide has the three dot system, and the front white dot is a little bit larger than the two white dots on the rear sight. The system is very fast to pick up under stress. Of course, as is the trend, the APX is striker-fired. The unloaded gun weighs in a 28.24 ounces, which is about par compared to other polymer framed handguns.

APX Disassembly

There is a button you can press with a pointed object or tool on the right side of the frame that deactivates the striker, so you can safely disassemble the APX without pulling the trigger. However, it is a little bit of pain to do this. So, I simply racked the slide to make sure the chamber is empty and then pull the trigger to deactivate the striker. Then, I press the slide release button, which is stout, on the right side of the frame and turn the take-down lever on the opposite of the frame. The slide then comes off. It’s easier done than said but very Beretta Model 92 in design.

APX Grip and Backstraps

The grip frame can be replaced. You can do that by removing the serialized chassis from inside the frame, very much like that of the SIG Sauer P320. So, the chassis is actually the “firearm”, because it carries the serial number. There is an ambidextrous slide release/stop on either side of the frame. Also, there is a trigger stop lever built into the trigger itself, so there is no trigger over-travel when the gun is fired, in theory, making the gun a bit more accurate. You can also change out the backstraps. Several backstraps come with the gun, however it is tedious to change them out, and I don’t see people swapping out the backstraps on a regular basis.

The backstrap on my sample, which I purchased out of my own funds, fit my hand perfectly. The magazine release is switchable from side to side, so it’s not ambidextrous, but it’s easy to change from one side to the other. The frame has the Picatinny-style rail for installing lights and/or lasers, too. The texturing on the frame is also perfect. It grips you but isn’t overly aggressive, which is another outstanding feature I like on the APX. The front of the trigger guard is squared off without serrations on it; they’re not needed. No one wraps the finger of their off-hand around the trigger guard these days. (It was very popular at one time, for some reason.)

Seventeen-Round Mags

The above is quite a lot of features on the new Beretta APX 9mm handgun, and there isn’t anything I would do away with. However, I would sure love it if the 17-rd mags were a little easier to load. I rarely have to use a magazine loader, as I have been loading hi-cap mags for many years with just my hands. But the last round is difficult to get into the APX mags. Even after I loaded them and let them sit for several weeks and emptied the mags. Then, during target practice when I went to reload them, nope, I still found it hard to get that last round into the mag. Yet, the mags easily seat when loading them into the APX.

Read More @ SurvivalBlog.com

Are You Ready to Die?

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by Paul Craig Roberts, Paul Craig Roberts:

Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept exposes the fake news put out by the US Department of Homeland Security (an euphemistic name for a Big Brother operation that spies on US citizens) that Russia hacked 21 US state elections, news that was instantly spread around the world by the presstitute media. The propagandists running Homeland Security were contradicted by the state governments, forcing Homeland Security to retract its fake news claims. https://theintercept.com/2017/09/28/yet-another-major-russia-story-falls-apart-is-skepticism-permissible-yet/

The unasked/unanswered question is why did Homeland Security put out a FAKE NEWS story?

Greenwald explains that the US media is so conditioned by the National Security State to see Russian President Putin lurking behind and masterminding attacks on America that it is “now religious dogma”—a requirement—to find Russian perfidy everywhere. The result Greenwald correctly says is that “an incredibly reckless, anything-goes climate prevails when it comes to claims about Russia. Media outlets will publish literally any official assertion as Truth without the slightest regard for evidentiary standards.”

In other words, the United States no longer has a media. It has a propaganda ministry for the military/security complex, the neoconservatives, and the Israel Lobby. And the idiot Americans sit in front of the TV and absorb the propaganda, and they read the New York Times and think that they are sophisticated and in the know.

What Greenwald doesn’t address is the effect of the massive amount of fake news on Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. Russia knows that Washington knows that the accusations against Russia are false. So why is Washington making false accusations against Russia?

This is a serious question, not only for Russia but for the entire world. All previous false accusations from the Clinton regime criminals, the Bush/Cheney regime criminals, and the Obama regime criminals ended in miiltary attacks on the falsely demonized targets. Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea would be within reason to wonder if the false news propaganda attack on them is a prelude to military attack.

Iran and North Korea cannot attack the US and its European vassals, but Russia and China can. I have written about the Operational Command of the Russian armed forces conclusion that Washington is preparing a surprise nuclear attack on Russia. Instead of reassuring the Russians that no such planning is in the works, Washington has instead pushed further the fake news Russiagate story with the false report that Russia had hacked the elections of 21 states.

What is the point of US security agencies such as Homeland Security, CIA, FBI, NSA constantly filling the propaganda machine known as the American Media with lies about Russia? Russia must wonder as well. Russia knows that they are lies. Russia knows that it does no good to refute the lies because the West has a Propanganda Ministry instead of a media. Russia knows that Washington told lies about the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, Assad, Iran. What does Russia conclude from the constant stream of lies about Russia that flow out of Washington and are
presented as truth by the Western presstitutes?

If you were the Russian government, would you conclude that your country was the next to be attacked militarily by Washington? If you were the Russian government, you would know that Washington/NATO cannot possibly attack Russia except by surprise nuclear strike. Knowing this, if you were the Russian government, would you sit there and wait on the strike? Imagine yourself the Russian government listening day in, day out, to endless wild improbable charges against Russia. What can Russia possibly conclude other than this is preparation of Western peoples for a nuclear attack on Russia?

Russia is not going to be hung like Saddan Hussein or murdered like Gaddafi.

Read More @ PaulCraigRoberts.org

“Systemic” Age Discrimination in Tech, even as Tech Workers Get “Better with Age”

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by Wolf Richter, Wolf Street:

But “ageism” exists “across all industries,” not just Tech.

Many people have seen this with their own eyes as it happened to others, or have experienced it themselves even as companies have vigorously denied it. So finally, here are some numbers that expose blatant age discrimination in the Tech industry, both in hiring and promotions, and it’s even worse than the age discrimination in Non-Tech industries.

The study boils down to this: if you’re a Baby Boomer, forget it. And if you’re Gen X, it’s tough.

These numbers are not based on VC-funded startups where the two founders may be 27 and 28 and the oldest people of the bunch. No one even bothers to mention age discrimination in these outfits. It’s just a fact of life. No, these numbers are based on an analysis of over 330,000 US-based employees – 63,000 in Tech and 267,000 in other industries – from 43 large companies. This is Corporate America.

Here is what the study by Visier, which provides workforce analytics for HR professionals, found: “Systemic ageism is occurring in Tech hiring practices.”

Here are some nuggets:

  • Millennials (aged 20 to 33) make up 43{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} of the workforce in Tech, compared to 26{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} in Non-Tech.
  • Gen X workers (aged 34 to 51) make up 45{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} of the Tech workforce, compared to 47{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} for non-Tech.
  • Baby Boomers (aged 52 to 70) make up less than 12{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} of the Tech workforce, compared to 27{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} in Non-Tech.
  • Non-manager workers in Tech are on average 38 years old and thus five years younger than Non-Tech workers (43 years old).
  • Managers in Tech are on average 42 years old, vs. 47 in Non-Tech – not that managers in Non-Tech industries don’t face age discrimination, it’s just not as brazen.

But performance is not the problem.

The study found that the older workers in Tech had more “Top Performer” ratings in their respective jobs. Some nuggets:

  • “From age 40 onward, non-manager workers in Tech enter the ‘Tech Sage Age’ and are increasingly likely to receive a Top Performer rating as they age, mature, and gain experience, compared to Non-Tech.”
  • The proportion of Top Performers in Tech increases with age, but in Non-Tech industries the proportion decreases.
  • “This suggests that maturity and experience are more important drivers of high performance in Tech than in Non-Tech industries.”

Despite the high performance of older workers in Tech, they’re being discriminated against via both, hiring practices and promotions:

  • Tech hires a higher proportion of younger workers and a smaller proportion of older workers than Non-Tech.
  • Notably, the Tech Sage Age does not translate into higher promotion rates for older non-manager workers in Tech. Rather, promotion rates for Tech workers decrease continuously with age as they do in Non-Tech.

This produces a “disconnect” for older workers between their rising performance and their declining promotions with age. In a sidebar, Visier’s report cited a study by researchers from the computer science department at North Carolina State University that found that programming knowledge actually improved with age:

Using Stack Overflow user data, they found a correlation between age and reputation. They found that: “…programmer reputation scores increase relative to age well into the 50s, that programmers in their 30s tend to focus on fewer areas relative to those younger or older in age, and that there is not a strong correlation between age scores in specific knowledge areas.”

As older programmers are “getting better with age,” what are their salaries doing?

Turns out, non-manager workers in Tech and Non-Tech experience similar salary trajectories: The median salary for workers in both sectors increases in the first phases of the career and peaks in their early 40s, at which point it “stabilizes” for both – that is, it begins to decline slightly for both.

However managers in Tech experience some salary increases as they age – if they remain employed in Tech, which, as the above numbers show, is very hard to do.

The study summarizes: “We found that hiring decisions in Tech do indeed favor younger candidates” compared to Non-Tech industries. Millennials are the big winners – at the expense of Gen X candidates and Baby Boomers.

Read More @ WolfStreet.com

IMF Head Foresees the End of Banking and the Triumph of Cryptocurrency

by Jeffrey Tucker, The Foundation for Economic Freedom:

In a remarkably frank talk at a Bank of England conference, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund has speculated that Bitcoin and cryptocurrency have as much of a future as the Internet itself. It could displace central banks, conventional banking, and challenge the monopoly of national monies.  

Christine Lagarde–a Paris native who has held her position at the IMF since 2011–says the only substantial problems with existing cryptocurrency are fixable over time.

In the long run, the technology itself can replace national monies, conventional financial intermediation, and even “puts a question mark on the fractional banking model we know today.”

In a lecture that chastised her colleagues for failing to embrace the future, she warned that “Not so long ago, some experts argued that personal computers would never be adopted, and that tablets would only be used as expensive coffee trays. So I think it may not be wise to dismiss virtual currencies.”

Here are the relevant parts of her paper:

Let us start with virtual currencies. To be clear, this is not about digital payments in existing currencies—through Paypal and other “e-money” providers such as Alipay in China, or M-Pesa in Kenya.

Virtual currencies are in a different category, because they provide their own unit of account and payment systems. These systems allow for peer-to-peer transactions without central clearinghouses, without central banks.

For now, virtual currencies such as Bitcoin pose little or no challenge to the existing order of fiat currencies and central banks. Why? Because they are too volatile, too risky, too energy intensive, and because the underlying technologies are not yet scalable. Many are too opaque for regulators; and some have been hacked.

But many of these are technological challenges that could be addressed over time. Not so long ago, some experts argued that personal computers would never be adopted, and that tablets would only be used as expensive coffee trays. So I think it may not be wise to dismiss virtual currencies.

Better value for money?

For instance, think of countries with weak institutions and unstable national currencies. Instead of adopting the currency of another country—such as the U.S. dollar—some of these economies might see a growing use of virtual currencies. Call it dollarization 2.0.

IMF experience shows that there is a tipping point beyond which coordination around a new currency is exponential. In the Seychelles, for example, dollarization jumped from 20 percent in 2006 to 60 percent in 2008.

And yet, why might citizens hold virtual currencies rather than physical dollars, euros, or sterling? Because it may one day be easier and safer than obtaining paper bills, especially in remote regions. And because virtual currencies could actually become more stable.

For instance, they could be issued one-for-one for dollars, or a stable basket of currencies. Issuance could be fully transparent, governed by a credible, pre-defined rule, an algorithm that can be monitored…or even a “smart rule” that might reflect changing macroeconomic circumstances.

So in many ways, virtual currencies might just give existing currencies and monetary policy a run for their money. The best response by central bankers is to continue running effective monetary policy, while being open to fresh ideas and new demands, as economies evolve.

Better payment services?

For example, consider the growing demand for new payment services in countries where the shared, decentralized service economy is taking off.

This is an economy rooted in peer-to-peer transactions, in frequent, small-value payments, often across borders.

Four dollars for gardening tips from a lady in New Zealand, three euros for an expert translation of a Japanese poem, and 80 pence for a virtual rendering of historic Fleet Street: these payments can be made with credit cards and other forms of e-money. But the charges are relatively high for small-value transactions, especially across borders.

Instead, citizens may one day prefer virtual currencies, since they potentially offer the same cost and convenience as cash—no settlement risks, no clearing delays, no central registration, no intermediary to check accounts and identities. If privately issued virtual currencies remain risky and unstable, citizens may even call on central banks to provide digital forms of legal tender.

So, when the new service economy comes knocking on the Bank of England’s door, will you welcome it inside? Offer it tea—and financial liquidity?

New models of financial intermediation

This brings us to the second leg of our pod journey—new models of financial intermediation.

One possibility is the break-up, or unbundling, of banking services. In the future, we might keep minimal balances for payment services on electronic wallets.

The remaining balances may be kept in mutual funds, or invested in peer-to-peer lending platforms with an edge in big data and artificial intelligence for automatic credit scoring.

Read More @ Fee.org

Are There Right-Wing Snowflakes Now?

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by Chris Rossini, Ron Paul Liberty Report:

The “snowflake” moniker is often used to refer to people who are easily offended by just about everything. Unable to accept or acknowledge free will, these “snowflakes” attempt to use bully tactics and even government legislation to try to force people to think and act in a certain way.

It’s more of an annoyance than anything else. Free will still reigns supreme. No amount of legislation can change that. We’re all still naturally free to form our own opinions and act on them.

While the “snowflake” designation has usually been reserved for people on the left-side of the political spectrum, we may be seeing the emergence of “snowflakes” on the right as well.

Apparently, many people on the right are offended by athletes (or anyone else) not standing up in front of the American flag while the national anthem is playing. Unable to acknowledge free will, they attempt to use bully tactics to try to force people to act a certain way.

Are there right-wing “snowflakes” now?

Notice that both sides are primarily concerned about the thoughts and opinions of others. They can’t mind their own business.

Snowflakes see themselves as definers.

They’ll tell you what things mean.

On the Left, they’ll define what is “beautiful,” and you have to make your opinion match it. If your opinion doesn’t match it, they’ll call you some derogatory name. (They have a million of them).

On the Right, they are to define what the flag means, and you have to make your opinion match it.

If they say that the flag stands for “freedom,” you don’t have the freedom to think otherwise. 

Those of us who advocate liberty and peace have no use for bully tactics and legislation. Everyone is free to form their own opinions without punishment.

If you think that something or someone is beautiful, then it’s obviously beautiful to you. No one has a right to tell you otherwise, or force you to think otherwise.

If you love the American flag, hate the flag, or couldn’t care less one way or another, that opinion is your own.

You’re not a robot that needs to be programmed to love it, to hate it, oreven care.

For advocates of liberty, one idea reigns supreme: Don’t use aggressive force against anyone. Force is only justified and moral when used in self-defense to repel an aggressor.

Advocates of liberty are not “snowflakes” in any sense of word.

Read More @ RonPaulLibertyReport.com