Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Big Brother Is Coming for Bitcoin

by Jim Rickards, Daily Reckoning:

Interest in bitcoin is red-hot right now. It’s impossible to open a website, listen to a podcast or watch a video in the financial space without hearing about the meteoric rise in the price of bitcoin.

I know about the bitcoin frenzy firsthand.

I’m a frequent guest on financial television and do many online interviews. Sooner or later in almost every interview, the anchor will turn to me and say, “Jim, I have to ask, what’s your opinion on bitcoin?” And away we go.

The fact is I actually don’t like talking about bitcoin; it’s one of my least favorite topics. But I can’t avoid it!

Of course, bitcoin is just one of many cryptocurrencies. There are hundreds in total with names like ether, dash, dogecoin and blackcoin.

For convenience, I will refer to all cryptocurrencies here as “bitcoin.” But you should understand that the analysis offered applies to the other cryptos as well.

Maybe you know a “bitcoin millionaire” who bought 500 bitcoins a few years back for $50,000 and is now sitting on a bitcoin fortune worth over $2 million. It’s true, those people actually do exist.

While I’m not a fan of cryptocurrencies, I am a believer in the power of the technology platforms on which the cryptocurrencies are based. These are usually called the “blockchain,” but a more descriptive term now in wide use is “distributed ledger technology,” or DLT. There’s no denying that fortunes have been made and still will be made in various DLT applications.

When it comes to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, I take a laissez-faire approach. Do your own thing. If you want some bitcoin in your portfolio as part of a diversified bundle of assets, that’s up to you. If you want to speculate in some of the other lesser-known cryptocurrencies, that’s fine, too. You might make a lot of money.

My only admonition is caveat emptor. Please take the time to understand how it works and what the risks are.

I am not a technophobe and I’m not a bitcoin basher. I understand bitcoin very well at a technical level. I’ve read the original technical papers on bitcoin from 2009 and many commentaries since.

I even worked with a team of experts and military commanders at U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) to find ways to interdict and disrupt ISIS use of cryptocurrencies to fund their terrorist activities and caliphate.

Read More @ DailyReckoning.com

Danish Government on Muslim Migrant Crime: “Worst Situation Since 2nd World War”

0

by Robert Spencer, Freedom Outpost:

The rule of law is imploding in Denmark as “low-tech jihad” and migrant gangs take over the streets. The Danish government should not be surprised. But it appears to be.

Thousands of incidents involving loosened wheel bolts on cars, large rocks or cinder blocks thrown from highway overpasses, and thin steel wires strung across bicycle paths meant to decapitate unsuspecting cyclists, is spreading a growing sense of horror among the Danes.

In almost all cases, the perpetrators have turned out to be from MENAP countries (Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan).

In the latest development of what has been characterized as massive low-tech jihad,” gangs of migrants and refugees of Arab or North African descent are now shooting innocent people at random in the capital city of Copenhagen, placing in danger the lives of both locals and visitors to this popular tourist city.

Three people already have been shot in what appears to be a savage form of target practice. Since all of the injured were young men — in an attempt to minimize the number of future victims — the Danish police now warns all men between 17 and 25 years of age to avoid public spaces in Copenhagen.

Preben Bang Henriksen, a spokesman for Denmark’s majority government party, the Liberal Venstre, is horrified by such a rapid decline in the safety of public spaces for the previously safe and calm kingdom:

“We have not had such warnings from the police since the 2nd World War. It is totally unacceptable,” said Preben Bang Henriksen.

A spokeswoman for the opposition Social Democrats, Trine Bramsen, concurs with the Liberal government, calling the current security situation “a catastrophe.”

For decades, critics of Islam and Muslim immigration have warned about irresponsible liberal policies that encourage accepting migrants or refugees from Islamic countries. Therefore, Danish politicians should not be surprised about the emergence of this despicable violence. But apparently, they are.

Read More @ FreedomOutpost.com

Freedom Is a Myth: We Are All Prisoners of the Police State’s Panopticon Village

0

by John Whitehead, via Washington’s Blog:

“We’re run by the Pentagon, we’re run by Madison Avenue, we’re run by television, and as long as we accept those things and don’t revolt we’ll have to go along with the stream to the eventual avalanche…. As long as we go out and buy stuff, we’re at their mercy… We all live in a little Village. Your Village may be different from other people’s Villages, but we are all prisoners.”— Patrick McGoohan

First broadcast in Great Britain 50 years ago, The Prisoner—a dystopian television series described as “James Bond meets George Orwell filtered through Franz Kafka”—confronted societal themes that are still relevant today: the rise of a police state, the freedom of the individual, round-the-clock surveillance, the corruption of government, totalitarianism, weaponization, group think, mass marketing, and the tendency of humankind to meekly accept their lot in life as a prisoner in a prison of their own making.

Perhaps the best visual debate ever on individuality and freedom, The Prisoner (17 episodes in all) centers around a British secret agent who abruptly resigns only to find himself imprisoned, monitored by militarized drones, and interrogated in a mysterious, self-contained, cosmopolitan, seemingly tranquil retirement community known only as the Village. The Village is an idyllic setting with parks and green fields, recreational activities and even a butler.

While luxurious and resort-like, the Village is a virtual prison disguised as a seaside paradise: its inhabitants have no true freedom, they cannot leave the Village, they are under constant surveillance, their movements are tracked by surveillance drones, and they are stripped of their individuality and identified only by numbers.

The series’ protagonist, played by Patrick McGoohan, is Number Six.

Number Two, the Village administrator, acts as an agent for the unseen and all-powerful Number One, whose identity is not revealed until the final episode.

“I am not a number. I am a free man,” was the mantra chanted on each episode of The Prisoner, which was largely written and directed by McGoohan.

In the opening episode (“The Arrival”), Number Six meets Number Two, who explains to him that he is in The Village because information stored “inside” his head has made him too valuable to be allowed to roam free “outside.”

Throughout the series, Number Six is subjected to interrogation tactics, torture, hallucinogenic drugs, identity theft, mind control, dream manipulation, and various forms of social indoctrination and physical coercion in order to “persuade” him to comply, give up, give in and subjugate himself to the will of the powers-that-be.

Number Six refuses to comply.

In every episode, Number Six resists the Village’s indoctrination methods, struggles to maintain his own identity, and attempts to escape his captors. “I will not make any deals with you,” he pointedly remarks to Number Two. “I’ve resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.”

Yet no matter how far Number Six manages to get in his efforts to escape, it’s never far enough.

Watched by surveillance cameras and other devices, Number Six’s getaways are continuously thwarted by ominous white balloon-like spheres known as “rovers.” Still, he refuses to give up. “Unlike me,” he says to his fellow prisoners, “many of you have accepted the situation of your imprisonment, and will die here like rotten cabbages.”

Number Six’s escapes become a surreal exercise in futility, each episode an unfunny, unsettling Groundhog’s Day that builds to the same frustrating denouement: there is no escape.

As journalist Scott Thill concludes for Wired, “Rebellion always comes at a price. During the acclaimed run of The Prisoner, Number Six is tortured, battered and even body-snatched: In the episode ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling,’ his mind is transplanted to another man’s body. Number Six repeatedly escapes The Village only to be returned to it in the end, trapped like an animal, overcome by a restless energy he cannot expend, and betrayed by nearly everyone around him.”

The series is a chilling lesson about how difficult it is to gain one’s freedom in a society in which prison walls are disguised within the trappings of technological and scientific progress, national security and so-called democracy.

As Thill noted when McGoohan died in 2009, “The Prisoner was an allegory of the individual, aiming to find peace and freedom in a dystopia masquerading as a utopia.”

The Prisoner’s Village is also an apt allegory for the American Police State: it gives the illusion of freedom while functioning all the while like a prison: controlled, watchful, inflexible, punitive, deadly and inescapable.

The American Police State, much like The Prisoner’s Village, is a metaphorical panopticon, a circular prison in which the inmates are monitored by a single watchman situated in a central tower. Because the inmates cannot see the watchman, they are unable to tell whether or not they are being watched at any given time and must proceed under the assumption that they are always being watched.

Eighteenth century social theorist Jeremy Bentham envisioned the panopticon prison to be a cheaper and more effective means of “obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example.”

Bentham’s panopticon, in which the prisoners are used as a source of cheap, menial labor, has become a model for the modern surveillance state in which the populace is constantly being watched, controlled and managed by the powers-that-be and funding its existence.

Nowhere to run and nowhere to hide: this is the new mantra of the architects of the police state and their corporate collaborators (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Instagram, etc.).

Government eyes are watching you.

They see your every move: what you read, how much you spend, where you go, with whom you interact, when you wake up in the morning, what you’re watching on television and reading on the internet.

Every move you make is being monitored, mined for data, crunched, and tabulated in order to form a picture of who you are, what makes you tick, and how best to control you when and if it becomes necessary to bring you in line.

When the government sees all and knows all and has an abundance of laws to render even the most seemingly upstanding citizen a criminal and lawbreaker, then the old adage that you’ve got nothing to worry about if you’ve got nothing to hide no longer applies.

Apart from the obvious dangers posed by a government that feels justified and empowered to spy on its people and use its ever-expanding arsenal of weapons and technology to monitor and control them, we’re approaching a time in which we will be forced to choose between obeying the dictates of the government—i.e., the law, or whatever a government official deems the law to be—and maintaining our individuality, integrity and independence.

When people talk about privacy, they mistakenly assume it protects only that which is hidden behind a wall or under one’s clothing. The courts have fostered this misunderstanding with their constantly shifting delineation of what constitutes an “expectation of privacy.” And technology has furthered muddied the waters.

However, privacy is so much more than what you do or say behind locked doors. It is a way of living one’s life firm in the belief that you are the master of your life, and barring any immediate danger to another person (which is far different from the carefully crafted threats to national security the government uses to justify its actions), it’s no one’s business what you read, what you say, where you go, whom you spend your time with, and how you spend your money.

Unfortunately, George Orwell’s 1984—where “you had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized”—has now become our reality.

We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers.

Consider that on any given day, the average American going about his daily business will be monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears.

A byproduct of this new age in which we live, whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior.

This doesn’t even begin to touch on the corporate trackers that monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere.

Stingray devices mounted on police cars to warrantlessly track cell phones, Doppler radar devices that can detect human breathing and movement within in a home, license plate readers that can record up to 1800 license plates per minutesidewalk and “public space” cameras coupled with facial recognition and behavior-sensing technology that lay the groundwork for police “pre-crime” programspolice body cameras that turn police officers into roving surveillance cameras, the internet of things: all of these technologies add up to a society in which there’s little room for indiscretions, imperfections, or acts of independence—especially not when the government can listen in on your phone calls, monitor your driving habits, track your movements, scrutinize your purchases and peer through the walls of your home.

As French philosopher Michel Foucault concluded in his 1975 book Discipline and Punish, “Visibility is a trap.”

This is the electronic concentration camp—the panopticon prison—the Village—in which we are now caged.

It is a prison from which there will be no escape if the government gets it way.

As Glenn Greenwald notes:

“The way things are supposed to work is that we’re supposed to know virtually everything about what [government officials] do: that’s why they’re called public servants. They’re supposed to know virtually nothing about what we do: that’s why we’re called privateindividuals. This dynamic – the hallmark of a healthy and free society – has been radically reversed. Now, they know everything about what we do, and are constantly building systems to know more. Meanwhile, we know less and less about what they do, as they build walls of secrecy behind which they function. That’s the imbalance that needs to come to an end. No democracy can be healthy and functional if the most consequential acts of those who wield political power are completely unknown to those to whom they are supposed to be accountable.”

Even now, the Trump Administration is working to make some of the National Security Agency’s vast spying powers permanent.

Read More @ WashingtonsBlog.com

Without This, All Your Preps and Training Are For Naught, by M.P. in Ohio

0

from Survival Blog:

The Answer Is Good Health

Instead of teasing you by giving you the answer in the third paragraph, here is what you need for your preps and training to be meaningful; it is good health. So before you think you’ve already read similar articles, please read on. I think you’ll find this different. Your health during SHTF scenarios is more important than:

1) All your training,

2) All your stored goods, and

3) Your bug out location

I understand we can’t all be in perfect health, but you owe it to yourself to be as healthy as possible. I’m not only talking about getting in better shape, but included with your preps, you should include certain foods, herbs, and spices that I will list here to help keep you healthy and to cure many ailments when you get sick. If you think staying healthy is difficult now, imagine how hard it will be to do so after TSHTF. There will be no doctors, no hospitals, and no pharmacies to run to when you need them. Without good health, all your preps may likely go to someone else who comes along and takes it.

I can’t tell you the number of acquaintances I know who have spent years and lots of money stockpiling but don’t do squat (no pun intended) to stay healthy. How they think they’ll survive is beyond me.

 

Inexpensive, Easy To Grow, and Easy To Store

The good news is most of the items I’m referring to are either inexpensive or can be grown in most areas of the U.S. They are lightweight in the event that you must bug out, and they can be preserved for many years without losing much of their potency. Of course one method to preserving is keeping spices/herbs in air-proof containers. I put much of mine in plastic Food Saver bags and shrink wrap them. They can also be preserved in Mylar bags that are placed in 5-gallon buckets and then all of the oxygen removed from the bucket. There are many videos you can research on how to do this.

Call it a coincidence if you must, but by including a certain regiment of foods, herbs, and spices in my diet on a daily basis, I have not had a sick day from work in over 10 years. I’m no spring chicken either. I’m a baby boomer. I’ll list items to grow and store, followed by my daily regimen. I will also include linked sources at the end of this article to back up the information.

Tumeric

Tumeric is one of the most important to have on hand. This powerful herb contains curcumin, which is an anti-inflammatory. It helps reduce pain and swelling and is needed by many boomers, such as me, due to minor arthritis. Some studies indicate it may also help prevent colon cancer and Alzheimer’s. Fortunately turmeric can be easily grown in most U.S. climates.

Cinnamon

A recent German study shows cinnamon is helpful for those with Type II diabetes, as it reduces blood sugar by 10{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528}. It’s also shown to help reduce cholesterol. Mind you it’s possible to take too much of this spice, and it can be dangerous. Cinnamon is not grown in the U.S., so you must buy and store it.

Garlic

I know many who avoid eating garlic merely because they’re afraid how others might react to the odor from their breath. After Armageddon, who gives a hoot? I’m sure some will respond to this by saying the odor may give yourself away if you’re on patrol while in a survival camp, but in my humble opinion the benefits outweigh the smell. I’m also not suggesting that you eat it every day. I too have certain work related appointments where garlic breath wouldn’t be preferred.

Garlic has many benefits. It is known to lower cancer risk, improve cardiovascular health, reduce high blood pressure, help prevents strokes by slowing arterial blockages, and reduce cholesterol. It’s also one of the few plants in existence that is all three, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal. Besides being easy to grow, garlic can also be dehydrated. There are many books available from Amazon that will include all its benefits.

Rosemary

We may end up having to fry or grill meats after TSHTF, so including rosemary will help prevent the risk of potent carcinogens that are often in meat that are cooked at high temperatures. Rosemary contains two antioxidants that reduce carcinogens. Rosemary is easy to grow inside your home or outside in your garden. And if you don’t grow it, it’s inexpensive to buy and stores for long periods.

Flax Seed

Many have the false belief that all fats are unhealthy, but nothing can be further from the truth. Our bodies need a certain amount of Essential Fatty Acids (EFA), because without it we die. Many of you have heard the term “rabbit starvation”. Simply put, if for example someone were to rely on rabbit as their sole source of protein, the lack of fat in the meat will put one’s health at risk.

One source of EFA’s are oils such as olive, canola, peanut, and vegetable oil and many others you are now using at home. The problem comes from the fact that you won’t have access to many oils because they don’t have a long shelf life and can go rancid. Even if you stock up on oils, they will run out. Olives can only grow in certain climates, and those of us in areas outside of the Southwest cannot grow it. However, two seeds that can grow in most areas of the U.S. are sunflower seeds and flax seeds that contain EFA. Flax can be grown in your garden in abundance. Flax can be consumed as a seed or the oil can be extracted.

Now unless you have a seed press (a good one is pricey), it can be difficult to extract the oil. Flax seed can be heated on the stove for a short time, which will draw the oil out that will float to the top of the water. Then you merely pour off the oil and store it in a cool place. It’s not as beneficial as the first cold press extraction method, because heating it up will cause some of the health benefits to dissipate. But hey, beggars can’t be choosers. The oil will also have a shelf life of 1-2 weeks using this method, even if refrigerated, so it’s important to use the heating process on a routine basis and only process a small amount at a time.

Ginger

Eating the wrong foods or foods that have spoiled during SHTF periods could become more common. Ginger helps prevent nausea whether it’s from upset stomach, pregnancy, or motion sickness. In one study, ginger was shown to be more effective than Dramamine for subjects who suffer from motion sickness. Ginger grows in most climates and can be dehydrated.

Onions

I could fill up a book on the benefits of onions, but with so many varieties available and the ability to grow them in most any climate, onions are among the healthiest of foods. I know many individuals that find onions difficult to digest making it impossible for them to eat. But the majority of us have no such issues. Without including all the benefits here, see the link at the end of the article for additional details. Onions can also be chopped up and dehydrated for long storage life.

Horseradish Root

Another food item that grows in most climates, horseradish is a powerful plant that is connected to many health benefits, including its ability to reduce weight loss, lower blood pressure, alleviate respiratory conditions, build strong bones, improve immune system health, stimulate healthy digestion, and promote heart health.

Cayenne Pepper

One of the best books I’ve read is by John Heinerman entitled The Health Benefits of Cayenne. It’s only 48 pages long and you’ll read it in an hour or so, but no one I know explains the benefits of hot peppers like Heinerman. There are many varieties of hot peppers that grow in most climates, but the key ingredient– capsicum– seems to be most prevalent in cayenne peppers. Its key benefits will help reduce severity of colds, improves circulatory and digestive issues, infections, and respiratory ills. Like most items listed above, cayenne can be crushed and dehydrated.

Read More @ SurvivalBlog.com

Geoengineering Creating Freeze Fry Extremes

0

by Dane Wigington, Geoengineering Watch:

Global climate engineering operations are creating ever more extreme weather and temperature whiplash scenarios. The immense scale of climate forcing being carried out by the geoengineers is wreaking havoc on the biosphere. Over 70 years of covert climate intervention and weather warfare (along with countless other forms of anthropogenic activity) has done unimaginable damage to the planet’s life support systems. The blowback is already unfolding and will get rapidly worse. The extreme and unprecedented temperature imbalances already occurring in the US, and forecasted (scheduled) to occur, are beyond alarming. The 15 minute video below exposes some of the most primary agendas of the ongoing climate engineering operations.

Read More @ GeoengineeringWatch.org

Bitcoin is Precise But Not Accurate – Keith Weiner

by Keith Weiner, Sprott Money:

Previously, we have discussed the issue of a currency’s backing . From comments and emails, we realize this topic could use a bit more illumination. And there are some related concepts that should be addressed at the same time.

Let’s start with an analogy, the engineering concepts of accuracy and precision. These related words are oft-confused, but not the same thing. The former refers to how close a measurement gets to reality, and the latter refers the repeatability of the measurement. If you put 1kg mass on a scale and it says 1.9501kg it is not accurate. However, if you do it again and again, and it consistently reads 1.9501kg it is precise.

There are three concepts pertaining to a currency: fiatirredeemable, and unbacked. Let’s compare and contrast the dollar and bitcoin with respect to each.

Fiat means law or force. It is a government decree. Obviously, the dollar is fiat and bitcoin is not. No one mistakes this, but confusion comes from substituting fiat for the other related concepts.

Irredeemable means the currency is not redeemable. You cannot present the currency to its issuer, and demand that he take back his currency and hand over a fixed amount of gold. This amount is the size of the deposit. No one would hand an ounce or a ton of gold over to a bank, without a contractual obligation that the bank must return that ounce or ton. No one would agree to allow the bank to hand over a reduced amount, or to allow the bank to say “hey, just walk to the market down the street, sell our paper for whatever amount of gold it might be worth today.” Both bitcoin and the dollar are irredeemable, and their value in an exchange market does not change this fact.

Redemption extinguishes the bank’s debt to the depositor. It is not a purchase of gold. The bank takes its paper out of circulation, the debt goes out of existence, and the depositor gets his gold back. This is a feature missing from both the dollar today and bitcoin.

Unbacked means there is no asset to match the liability. A currency issuer normally issues its currency to finance the purchase of an asset. The reason is that the asset pays a yield, but the currency does not. So the bank borrows at zero while earning something more than zero.

This is not a way to get rich, by the way, but to make a small spread by providing a useful service to the market. Note that the bank is not printing. If the bank issues 100oz of currency, it is not 100oz richer. The currency is the bank’s liability, and to balance this liability, the bank buys 100oz worth of bills of exchange. So the bank’s balance sheet has 100oz currency liability backed by 100oz bills asset. The bills pay 1{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528}, but the currency pays no interest, so the bank makes 1oz a year.

The dollar is backed by the bonds purchased by the Federal Reserve. Bitcoin is unbacked.

Bitcoin does offer a way for miners to get rich. When a miner creates 100 btc, he gets 100 btc of value free and clear. He is not obligated to redeem it to a depositor, and he is not using it to finance a portfolio of earning assets. He is in business to simply print bitcoin. If the miners do not get rich doing this, it’s not because they have liabilities. It’s for an unrelated reason: Satoshi designed bitcoin mining like a treadmill, and its spins backward faster and faster as the total bitcoin compute power of the miners increases.

We have not commented much on this treadmill feature of bitcoin. It is, in essence, frivolous. Let’s look at why.

Bitcoin is based on the Quantity Theory of Money. This theory holds that the general price level rises with the quantity of money. A related view is that the value of money is defined as its purchasing power, or the inverse of the general price level. Taken together, these ideas mean that if you double the quantity of money, you will approximately halve the value of one monetary unit.

Satoshi contended with the problem of bitcoin’s value as a problem of quantity. He designed it with two variables that change as miners come online and bitcoins are produced. One keeps halving the number of bitcoins rewarded when a miner gets to create a new block in the blockchain. The other increases the difficulty of mining, based not on the number of bitcoins in existence but the amount of compute power dedicated to mining. No matter how many miners set up how many computers, the system is designed so that pay dirt is hit once about every 10 minutes, and the number of bitcoins rewarded to the miner is halved every time a certain number of blocks is created. It is mathematically elegant. However, it’s a solution to a problem that does not exist.

Looking at gold, we see the metal is not limited in quantity (bitcoin is limited to 21 million). In fact, gold is not scarce. It is the most abundant commodity (not counting water or air). Not in terms of ounces, of course, but as a ratio of stocks to flows. We have accumulated enormous inventories over at least 5000 years of mining the stuff, and it is not consumed. So over time, the total stocks of gold increases. And the rate of annual mine production is a small fraction of this total (under 2{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} by current official estimates, which we believe understates the existing stocks).

Gold mining does not become exponentially more expensive as the quantity of outstanding gold rises. Nature does not dictate any equation to make it so. Nor does it need to. Gold worked fine as money for thousands of years, sans this feature. Our hypothesis is that it has always cost around one ounce of gold to produce one ounce of gold. When the cost of mining an ounce falls below an ounce, it is a powerful signal and incentive. The gold miners spring into action. When the cost of mining goes above one ounce, the gold miners must stop. This is a very interesting economic feature of gold. Its quantity is neither fixed, nor elastic at the whim of a bureaucrat. The quantity rises in response to market demand.

Satoshi was faced with a conundrum. He knew that initial demand for bitcoin was nearly zero, so common sense told him that the Quantity Theory could not kick in until the market was mature. So how to grow into the final quantity? He not only wanted to limit the ultimate quantity, but also the rate at which the quantity increased towards that limit. So, how to handle this?

Enter, the Labor Theory of Value.

Make the miners do work. Most people think of work as a sacrifice, giving up something valuable such as your time and/or resources. The ultimate version of this is a government jobs program, with unwilling participants generating and checking each other’s useless papers in exchange for a government check. Or, using up perfectly good computing power to calculate hashes to mine more bitcoins.

Note that the miner is not computing anything that matters in the real world. He is not calculating what protein will block the growth of brain cancer, or even the launch trajectory for the next probe to the planet Jupiter. He is calculating something, for the sake of proving that he did a certain amount of work in calculating it. This work has little real value (they are validating transactions, but this is a small proportion of the work they do), except that it determines which miner is to be rewarded with the next bitcoin. Doingwork serves to limit the rate of bitcoin creation.

This is frivolous. It serves no real purpose. Our definition of work is different, based on adding value, rather than sacrificing resources. Mining computation does not add value.

Make-work calculation is perfectly suited to bitcoin. Bitcoin’s ledger references only itself. It tracks each liability perfectly, but there are no external assets. So it makes sense, in a certain way, that to add more liabilities to the blockchain (which are the asset of the miner), the miner does work for its own sake.

The labor theory of value was debunked at least 146 years ago (when Carl Menger published Principles of Economics).

Proponents of bitcoin respond to our contention that its extreme volatility renders it useless as money, by arguing that its value will stabilize. This is because the quantity is limited and it takes work to produce. But if these theories were false, then that would mean…

Bitcoin is often likened to gold, but it’s different in every way. The quantity of gold is not capped. Gold does not become exponentially more expensive to produce. Gold’s value does not come from the labor or electricity used to produce it. Bitcoin is not a commodity, it is a self-referential ledger of liabilities unbacked by assets. It is produced by increasing amounts of work for work’s sake.

Bitcoin has precise formulas for setting the mining reward and difficulty, and an extremely precise ledger of every transaction. However, we must look past this precision to see that it is based on the inaccurate quantity and labor theories of value. Come to think of it, the Fed itself has precise mathematical models.

Read More @ SprottMoney.com

Trump’s UN Speech

0

by Paul Craig Roberts, Paul Craig Roberts:

I listened to part of Trump’s UN speech this morning. I was so embarrassed for him and for my country that I had to turn it off.

I wonder if whoever wrote the deplorable speech intended to embarrass Trump and inadvertently embarrassed America as well, or whether the speechwriter(s) is so imbued with the neoconservative arrogance and hubris of our time that the speechwriter was simply blind to the extraordinary contradictions that stood out like sore thumbs all through the speech.

I am not going to describe all of them, just a couple of examples.

Trump went on at great length about how America respects the sovereignty of every country and the people’s will of every country, and how the US, despite its overwhelming military power, never tries to impose its will on any country. What was the administration thinking, or can it think? What about Yugoslavia/Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Crimea, Ukraine, Venezuela, Honduras, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, just to mention countries in the 21st century that have been subjected to US military attacks, government overthrows, and removals of political leaders who did not conform to US interests?

Is it respect for the sovereignty of countries to force them to support US sanctions against Iran, Russia, China, North Korea, Venezuela? Is it respect for the sovereignty of countries to impose sanctions on the countries? If this is not imposing Washington’s will on other countries, what is?

Is it respect for other countries to inform them that unless they do as they are told, “we will bomb you into the stone age”?

I heard Trump complain that the UN Human Rights commission had as members countries with the worst human rights records of our time, and I wondered if he was talking about the United States. Clearly, Trump, the speechwriter(s), the State Department, the National Security Council, the US Ambassador to the UN, indeed the entire administration, do not think that the endless slaughter, maiming, orphaning, widowing, and dispossessing of millions of peoples in many countries, producing waves of refugees, comprise human rights violations.

The arrogance conveyed by Trump’s speech is unprecedented.

After assurances that America respects everyone, Trump then made demand after demand and threat after threat against the sovereignty of Iran and North Korea, demanding that the rest of the world back him up.

Neither country is a threat to the US. Unlike the US and Israel, Korea has not been at war since 1953. Iran’s last war was in the 1980s when Iran was attacked by Iraq. Yet both North Korea and Iran are subjected to constant threats from the US. At the UN Trump threatened North Korea with destruction, and Washington is telling more lies about Iran in order to justify military action.

Here is what former Secretary of State Colin Powell says about how carefully Washington thinks about other peoples:

“We thought we knew what would happen in Libya. We thought we knew what would happen in Egypt. We thought we knew what would happen in Iraq, and we guessed wrong. In each one of these countries the thing we have to consider is that there is some structure that’s holding the society together. And as we learned, especially in Libya, when you remove the top and the whole thing falls apart . . . you get chaos.”

That’s what Washington does. It brings chaos to tens of millions of peoples, destroying their lives and the prospects of their countries. This is the behavior that Trump described as American compassion for others. This is what Trump says is respecting others and the sovereignty of their countries. Washington dresses up its crimes against humanity as a “war on terror.” The tens of millions of slaughtered, maimed, and displaced persons are merely “collateral damage.”

Read More @ PaulCraigRoberts.org

Climate change science implodes as IPCC climate models found to be “totally wrong” … temperatures aren’t rising as predicted … hoax unraveling

0

by Mike Adams, Natural News:

A stunning new science paper authored by climate change alarmists and published in the science journal Nature Geoscience has just broken the back of the climate change hoax. The paper, authored by Myles R. Allen, Richard J. Millar and others, reveals that global warming climate models are flat wrong, having been deceptively biased toward “worst case” warming predictions that now turn out to be paranoid scare mongering.

The paper, entitled, “Emission budgets and pathways consistent with limiting warming to 1.5 °C,” concludes that the global warming long feared and hyped by everyone from Al Gore to CNN talking heads was based on faulty software models that don’t stand up to actual measured temperatures in the real world. In technical jargon, the paper explains, “We show that limiting cumulative post-2015 CO2 emissions to about 200 GtC would limit post-2015 warming to less than 0.6 °C in 66{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} of Earth system model members.”

In effect, the current global warming software models used by the IPCC and cited by the media wildly over-estimate the warming effects of CO2 emissions. How much do they over-estimate warming? By about 50{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528}. Where the software models predicted a 1.3 C rise in average global temperatures, only a rise of about 0.9 C has actually been recorded (and many data points in that average have, of course, been fabricated by climate change scientists to push a political narrative). In other words, carbon dioxide emissions don’t produce the warming effects that have been blindly claimed by climate change alarmists.

“Climate change poses less of an immediate threat to the planet than previously thought because scientists got their modelling wrong,” reports the UK Telegraph. “New research by British scientists reveals the world is being polluted and warming up less quickly than 10-year-old forecasts predicted, giving countries more time to get a grip on their carbon output.”

In other words, the climate change threat has been wildly overstated. The fear mongering of Al Gore and the government-funded science community can truly only be described as a “junk science hoax.”

Climate alarmists suddenly find themselves admitting they were wrong all along

“The paper … concedes that it is now almost impossible that the doomsday predictions made in the last IPCC Assessment Report of 1.5 degrees C warming above pre-industrial levels by 2022 will come true,” writes James Delingpole. He goes on to say:

One researcher – from the alarmist side of the argument, not the skeptical one – has described the paper’s conclusion as “breathtaking” in its implications.

He’s right. The scientists who’ve written this paper aren’t climate skeptics. They’re longstanding warmists, implacable foes of climate skeptics, and they’re also actually the people responsible for producing the IPCC’s carbon budget.

In other words, this represents the most massive climbdown from the alarmist camp.

Are we about to see climate change alarmists owning up to the fact that real-world data show their software models to be rooted in junk science? The unraveling has begun, but there is so much political capital already invested in the false climate change narrative that it will take years to fully expose the depth of scientific fraud and political dishonesty underpinning the global warming hoax.

Climate change software models were deliberately tweaked to paint an exaggerated doomsday picture in order to scare the world into compliance panic

What’s clear from all this is that IPCC software models were deliberately biased in favor of the worst-case “doomsday” predictions in order to terrorize the world with a fake climate change hoax. But now the fake science is catching up to them, and they’re getting caught in their own lies.

The software models, by the way, were fraudulently programmed with dishonest model “weights” to produce alarming warming predictions no matter what temperature data points were entered into the system.

This is best explained in this Natural News article which goes into great detail, covering the IPCC global warming software modeling hoax:

Hacking the IPCC global warming data

The same left-wing media outlets that fabricated the “Russian hacking” conspiracy, curiously, have remained totally silent about a real, legitimate hacking that took place almost two decades earlier. The IPCC “global warming” software models, we now know, were “hacked” from the very beginning, programmed to falsely produce “hockey stick” visuals from almost any data set… include “random noise” data.

What follows are selected paragraphs from a fascinating book that investigated this vast political and scientific fraud: The Real Global Warming Disaster by Christopher Booker(Continuum, 2009). This book is also available as an audio book from Audible.com, so if you enjoy audio books, download a copy there.

Here’s what Booker found when he investigated the “hacking” of the temperature data computer models:

From “The Real Global Warming Disaster” by Christopher Booker: (bold emphasis added)

Nothing alerted us more to the curious nature of the global warming scare than the peculiar tactics used by the IPCC to promote its orthodoxy, brooking no dissent. More than once in its series of mammoth reports, the IPCC had been caught out in very serious attempts to rewrite the scientific evidence. The most notorious instance of this was the extraordinary prominence it gave in 2001 to the so-called ‘hockey stick’ graph, mysteriously produced by a relatively unknown young US scientist, which completely redrew the accepted historical record by purporting to show temperatures in the late twentieth century having shot upwards to a level far higher than had ever been known before. Although the ‘hockey stick’ was instantly made the central icon of the IPCC’s cause, it was within a few years to become one of the most comprehensively discredited artefacts in the history of science.

Similarly called into serious doubt was the reliability of some of the other temperature figures on which the IPCC based its case. Most notably these included those provided by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), run by Dr James Hansen, A1 Gore’s closest scientific ally, which were one of the four official sources of temperature data on which the IPCC relied. These were shown to have been repeatedly ‘adjusted’, to suggest that temperatures had risen further and more steeply than was indicated by any of the other three main data-sources.

…Out of the blue in 1998 Britain’s leading science journal Nature, long supportive of the warming orthodoxy, published a new paper on global temperature changes over the previous 600 years, back to 1400. Its chief author was Michael Mann, a young physicist-turned-climate scientist at the University of Massachusetts, who had only completed his PhD two years before. In 1999 he and his colleagues published a further paper, based only on North America but extending their original findings over 1000 years.

Their computer model had enabled them to produce a new temperature graph quite unlike anything seen before. Instead of the previously familiar rises and falls, this showed the trend of average temperatures having gently declined through nine centuries, but then suddenly shooting up in the twentieth century to a level that was quite unprecedented.

In Mann’s graph such familiar features as the Mediaeval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age had simply vanished. All those awkward anomalies were shown as having been illusory. The only real anomaly which emerged from their studies was that sudden exponential rise appearing in the twentieth century, culminating in the ‘warmest year of the millennium’, 1998.

Read More @ NaturalNews.com

Really Bad Ideas, Part 4: Federal Flood Insurance

0

by John Rubino, Dollar Collapse:

As Hurricanes Harvey and Irma wreaked their havoc over the past couple of weeks, several interconnected questions popped up, the answers to which make us look, to put it bluntly, like idiots.

Why, for instance, are there suddenly so many Cat 4 and 5 hurricanes? Is this due to man-made climate change and is this summer therefore our new normal? The answer: Maybe, but that misses the point. There have always been huge storms (like the one that wiped Galveston, TX off the map in 1900, long before global warming was a thing), and barring another ice age there always will be. So the US east coast will remain one of Mother Nature’s favorite targets.

A second (and vastly more pertinent) question is why we’ve been encouraging millions of people to move into this bulls-eye in recent decades. Since 2000, Houston and surrounding Harris County have added 1.2 million people. Since 1980 Florida has added 10 million people – most of them in the coastal corridor from Miami to Fort Lauderdale.

Seems a little unwise, doesn’t it, to put tens of millions of people and millions of houses and cars where they’re guaranteed to be damaged or destroyed by inevitable future storms. But it’s not an accident. Government programs actively encourage this migration by picking up part or all of the tab for homes that are flooded by storms. The result: A massive and growing liability for future damage on top of all the other massive and growing liabilities for Medicare, Social Security, underfunded state and local pensions, etc. From last week’s Wall Street Journal:

 

One House, 22 Floods: Repeated Claims Drain Federal Insurance Program

Brian Harmon had just finished spending over $300,000 to fix his home in Kingwood, Texas, when Hurricane Harvey sent floodwaters “completely over the roof.”

The six-bedroom house, which has an indoor swimming pool, sits along the San Jacinto River. It has flooded 22 times since 1979, making it one of the most flood-damaged properties in the country.

Between 1979 and 2015, government records show the federal flood insurance program paid out more than $1.8 million to rebuild the house—a property that Mr. Harmon figured was worth $600,000 to $800,000 before Harvey hit late last month.
“It’s my investment,” the 49-year-old said this summer, before the hurricane. “I can’t just throw it away.”

In years past, he had considered a buyout from local officials seeking to purchase often-flooded properties. Now, he finally wants to get out. “I never want to go through this again,” said Mr. Harmon, who bought the house in 1995.

As they tally up the losses from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, government officials are looking for ways to step up purchases of frequently-flooded houses, which have become a huge drain on the financially troubled federal flood insurance program.

Homes and other properties with repetitive flood losses account for just 2{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} of the roughly 1.5 million properties that currently have flood insurance, according to government estimates. But such properties have accounted for about 30{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} of flood claims paid over the program’s history.

The Government’s Growing Flood Problem
Can the federal government afford to insure homes that face repeated flooding? Already roughly $25 billion in debt, the National Flood Insurance Program is facing massive new claims following hurricanes Irma and Harvey. “We are seeing a very acute need to move far faster” on property buyouts, said Roy Wright, who directs the National Flood Insurance Program. “It’s a clear priority to address these multiple-loss properties.”

In a buyout program, homes are typically razed and the land left as open space.

Even before Harvey and Irma, the flood program owed the U.S. Treasury $24.6 billion, as payouts have exceeded the amount of insurance premiums it takes in.

The program paid out more than $47 billion in insurance claims since 2000, according to government figures.

Insurance payouts from Harvey alone are expected to total $11 billion, said Mr. Wright, noting the program had already received nearly 85,000 claims tied to the disaster as of Wednesday. It is too early to estimate losses tied to Irma, but Mr. Wright expects both storms to be among the most costly in the program’s history.

Florida and Texas, the two states hit hardest by the back-to-back disasters, are home to nearly one in five of the most frequently flooded properties, according to an analysis of federal flood insurance data by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group that supports increased buyouts.

Nearly half of frequently flooded properties in the U.S. have received more in total damage payments than the flood program’s estimate of what the homes are worth, according to the group’s calculations.

“Anyone looking at this would say there are perverse incentives for staying on the floodplain,” said Nicholas Pinter, a geology professor and associate director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis, who has analyzed repeatedly flooded properties.

Mr. Wright said he has “no authority to cancel policies, none at all” when homes suffer multiple losses. The agency can, however, put “folks who have multiple losses in a position where they have the opportunity to move on rather than simply re-establish them in harm’s way” by buying these homes with federal funds, he said, and is looking at ways to expedite the buyout process.

Some flood experts say the government needs to do more. “The number of repeatedly flooded properties is growing much faster than our efforts to mitigate those properties,” said Robert Moore, a senior policy analyst with the NRDC. He believes the flood program should pre-qualify homeowners with flood insurance for a voluntary buyout if their home is substantially damaged in a future disaster.

Funding for buyouts is limited and the process can be cumbersome as it works it way between local requests, state reviews and federal approvals. “Unfortunately, the process takes two to 2 1/2 years,” long enough for many homeowners to make repairs and change their minds, said Larry Larson, senior policy adviser for the Association of State Floodplain Managers.

Homeowners aren’t the only ones who can get cold feet. Some communities are reluctant to offer buyouts because funding is limited and the program removes properties from their tax base, said Delton Schwalls, an engineer in Orlando who works with Florida communities on flood mitigation.

Some thoughts
The government buying up and bulldozing these damaged houses would seem to make the problem worse rather than better by relieving homeowners of responsibility for their decisions, which is exactly the kind of moral hazard that has led to, for instance, the current half-quadrillion-dollar financial derivatives market.

Read More @ DollarCollapse.com

Beware – the Equifax Scams Are Coming

0

by Wolf Richter, Wolf Street:

Here are some of the scams – and how to protect yourself.

OK, this had to happen. It’s not a surprise. It’s just a fact of life. We live in a world of scammers, and when there is a crisis, for them, there’s opportunity. There are scams and frauds to take advantage of any crisis, its victims, and people trying to do the right thing. The Equifax hack is no exception. And the scams have already started.

“Don’t panic. But be vigilant,” suggests Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy at the Consumer Federation of America. “With this breach, criminals have everything they need to victimize you.”

I normally don’t post articles about consumer scams. But the Equifax hack has made 143 million Americans more vulnerable. So here are some of the scams you might encounter … and how to deal with them.

Equifax isn’t calling. Someone else is.

“This is Equifax calling to verify your account information.” When you hear this on the phone, hang up, says Lisa Weintraub Schifferle, Attorney at the Federal Trade Commission.

“Don’t tell them anything,” she says. “They’re not from Equifax. It’s a scam. Equifax will not call you out of the blue.”

“Other calls might try to trick you into giving your personal information,” she says and offers these tips for recognizing and preventing phone scams and imposter scams:

  1. Don’t give personal or financial information unless “you’ve initiated the call and it’s to a phone number you know is correct.”
  2. Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers spoof numbers all the time.
  3. Hang up on robocalls. Don’t press any key to speak to an operator. This will only trigger more robocalls.

Too late? You already gave out your info to a scammer? Immediately change passwords, account numbers if you can, and security questions. And check your accounts for strange stuff.

Fake news articles linking to fake Equifax websites.

“Immediately after the announcement of the data breach, articles began circulating that contained a link that lets you find out if your data was stolen,” according to a report by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC). But the links lead to pages that are a phishing scam trying to collect your personal information.

In my articles on the Equifax hack, I verified every link to make sure it went to where it was supposed to go, including the link to Equifax where you can find out if your data was stolen (used it myself).

But the ITRC warns that “it takes no work at all for scammers to create their own link, request your information for ‘verification’ purposes, and then steal your data.”

So before clicking on the link, hover over it with the mouse to display the URL and make sure it leads to the company’s website you’re trying to visit. Once on that page, and before entering any data, check the URL in the address bar in your browser to make sure it actually belongs to the company you want to reach.

Emailed phishing attacks have arrived.

The ITRC warns, “There are already scam emails in circulation that suggest you check your credit report by using their handy link.” This link will lead to a site where you’re asked to enter your most sensitive data, including Social Security number. Don’t go there. Delete the email.

And by the way, if you see an online ad to that effect, don’t click on it.

Instead, to get your free credit report, go to the FTC website. It shows you where and how to get your free credit report. You have a right to one free copy per 12-month period; you can get more, but you have to pay.

Be vigilant, but don’t panic.

The ITRC recommends: “Because genuine information was stolen, be extra diligent about monitoring your account statements, looking for unauthorized charges, tracking and reporting any suspicious activity, and keeping a close eye on your credit reports.”

“If you do experience any strange activity on your accounts, report it immediately, no matter how minor it might seem at first.”

Read More @ WolfStreet.com