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Cyber-Criminals Abandon Bitcoin; Homeland Admits “It’s A Lot More Legitimate Than People Think”

August 31, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Regulators in the US, Europe and Asia who’ve sought to crack down on bitcoin – many of these regulators are also proponents of a “cashless society” – have been dealt a stunning setback by an unlikely defender of the pioneering digital currency: The US Department of Homeland Security.

To wit, one anonymous DHS source told CNBC that bitcoin has become “a lot more legitimate” than many believe.

“We’re getting a lot better through law enforcement tracking those [criminals] and holding the exchanges more accountable,” the Homeland Security official said. “I think [bitcoin]’s a lot more legitimate than people give it credit for.”

Another source told CNBC that criminals have backed away from using the digital currency as bitcoin transactions have become much easier for authorities to trace. Earlier this month, the IRS announced that it had developed, with the help of bitcoin security firm Chainalysis, a tool to unmask the owners of bitcoin wallets.

“Although hard numbers on criminal activity in digital currencies are difficult to pin down, Shone Anstey, co-founder and president of Blockchain Intelligence Group, estimates that illegal transactions in bitcoin have fallen from about half of total volume to about 20 percent last year.

 

“Now it’s significantly less than that,” he told CNBC earlier this month, noting that overall transaction volume has grown globally.”

Bitcoin is vulnerable to law enforcement because each user must display a public ID, a complex cryptographic combination of numbers and letters, in order to tansact in bitcoin. By tracing the movement of coins between accounts, CNBC explains, intelligence and security agencies can follow the money and arrest the criminals when they try to withdraw their ill-gotten games in US dollars, or another fiat currency.

Last month, US authorities partnering with Interpol and local law enforcement shut down AlphaBay and Hansa, two of the largest dark-web marketplaces for drugs and illegal goods. Before that, they took down BTC-E, a shadowy digital-currency exchange, arrested its Russian-born founder and seized the company’s website.

Another cybersecurity expert who spoke with CNBC noted that, when a user tries to convert bitcoin into cash, the digital-currency’s veneer of anonymity disappears.

“Bitcoin basically introduced a situation where we could bypass the money mules,” said Rickey Gevers, cybercrime specialist at RedSocks Security, which detects and fights against malware.

 

But, Gevers said, “in the beginning [bitcoin] looks very anonymous, and in the end it doesn’t look very anonymous.”

Paul Triolo, a consultant at Eurasia Group, said bitcoin has “changed quite a bit” since it was first launched in early 2009. It’s now primarily used by legitimate investors, not dark-web criminals.

“The whole use issue of digital currencies has become a big industry. Bitcoin isn’t this weird, odd currency that’s being used on the dark web,” said Paul Triolo, practice head of geotechnology at consulting firm Eurasia Group.

 

“Since the early days of bitcoin on some [levels], the world has changed quite a bit.”

Instead of bitcoin, the DHS told CNBC it’s focusing on other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and Monero. For those who are unfamiliar with the latter, it’s one of a handful of digital currencies featuring enhanced privacy controls. For example, Monero scrambles a user’s public ID, making it more difficult for authorities to trace transactions.

Even the European Union admitted that bitcoin was never popular with organized crime groups, which overwhelmingly prefer payment in large-denomination bills like the 500-euro note, production of which has been discontinued by the ECB, part of the European elites’ war on cash.

Still, global authorities remain skeptical. Earlier this week, Russia signaled an about-face when the country’s deputy finance minister told local media that the ministry of finance and central bank were seeking to “regulate” digital currencies by forcing users to execute trades on the country’s public stock exchange, allowing the government to monitor transactions.

In the US, the SEC decreed last month that digital currencies are financial securities that must be registered with the agency. However, the ultimate significance of the agency’s ruling remains unclear.

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Brandon Smith: “Sorry, Joe Biden – The ‘Soul’ Of America Is Conservative”

August 31, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.com,

Some political figures truly embody the classic role of the divider; their purpose seems to be to agitate and provoke, to instigate conflict rather than mediate peace. Al Sharpton and Nancy Pelosi come to mind. Let’s not forget John McCain or Lindsay Graham. Barack Obama was known as the “great divider” for much of his presidency. While many leftists would argue that Donald Trump is the “most divisive” president in generations, I think the mainstream media has proven far more provoking than he has. In the case of Charlottesville, we see a whole host of individuals and institutions seeking to promulgate continued social tensions well beyond anything Trump has done. One of these individuals is Joe Biden.

In a short essay for The Atlantic, Joe Biden was quick to capitalize on the death of a protester in Charlottesville at the hands of an apparent white nationalist, spewing forth a host of cliches on “dark forces” creeping out from the hidden corners of America to smother the light and happiness of the silent Kumbaya majority like some kind of J.R.R. Tolkien novel.

This narrative is nothing new. It is the narrative that was promoted throughout the 2016 presidential election cycle as well as the Brexit debate in the U.K. – the notion that dangerous and “ignorant” portions of the citizenry in western society (labeled “populists”) are quietly organizing for a last stand against the “inevitable evolution” of progressive multiculturalism and globalism. They are presented as the throwbacks, the cave people, the Cro-Magnons, the people who refuse to get with the times and embrace the social justice revolution.  They are, according to gatekeepers like Biden, in the way.

While a host of names and labels are used to define this group of malcontents preventing society from achieving full-blown Utopia, we all know who establishment snake oil peddlers are really referring to: conservatives.

The racism subplot to this scripted conflict has always been present. When the vote on the U.K. exit from the European Union proved successful, the automatic accusation in the media was that this was driven by “hidden racism,” along with the consistent idea that older generations were trying to live off the backs of younger generations while interfering with “natural” shifts in cultural consciousness. These claims were greatly amplified during the rise of the Trump administration.

I have to say, these assertions are fascinating to me. The amount of propaganda and projection involved is truly staggering.

Biden’s hope along with other establishment con-men, I believe, is that he can continue to simplify the narrative down to a series of false associations. White nationalists were present at Charlottesville? Indeed. White nationalists were standing in defense of the confederate statue issue? Yes. White nationalists faced off against Antifa counter-protesters? Certainly. A white nationalist drove his car into a group of counter-protesters and killed one of them? It would seem so, though I still think the man deserves a fair trial before being convicted in the media. But here is where Biden and his ilk deliberately go off the rails in order to incite wider tensions…

At this point, the narrative moves from facts to wild assumptions and misconceptions. White nationalists were present in Charlottesville, but does this mean everyone (or even most people) in Charlottesville protesting in defense against the removal of confederate statues was a racist? No. Does this mean that people who support the existence of confederate statues are automatically racists? No. Does this mean that anyone that stands in opposition to groups like Antifa is a racist or a fascist? No. Just because one man acted violently in response to Antifa and other leftists groups, does this mean that Antifa represents the “good guys” in Biden’s little screenplay? No.

But this is the story we are being sold. Not just by Biden, but by many other political interests.

I would specifically reference a recent panel of Trump supporters by CNN, during which the “journalist” was dismayed to discover that none of the people involved was willing to play along with the message that Donald Trump’s response to Charlottesville was anything other than logical.

I want readers to take note of a specific assertion made by CNN, as well as Biden, here – the assertion that it is the job of leftist groups like Antifa to “fight” or even destroy “hate groups” or “fascist groups.” CNN outright compares Charlottesville to World War II, claiming that because the allies were justified in going to war with Nazis back then, that Antifa is justified in going to war with “Nazis” today. But again, when you consider the reality that Antifa and similar groups associate all conservatives with fascism, this narrative opens the door to a level of intolerance and violence that is unacceptable and also misplaced.

Beyond that, it seems to me that CNN, Biden and others are happily supporting the false assumption that “hate speech” is not protected speech in America. I don’t personally care for the white nationalist platform, being that skin color and genetic background is ultimately irrelevant, and as I noted in my last article, some of these groups end up being led by government paid provocateurs. But these groups still have the Constitutional right to protest grievances in public spaces. It does not matter how distasteful one person or another finds them to be.

Laughably, Biden spends the majority of his diatribe in The Atlantic admonishing the very existence of these groups as if they are a threat to the constitution. Stating:

The giant forward steps we have taken in recent years on civil liberties and civil rights and human rights are being met by a ferocious pushback from the oldest and darkest forces in America. Are we really surprised they rose up? Are we really surprised they lashed back? Did we really think they would be extinguished with a whimper rather than a fight?

 

Today we have an American president who has publicly proclaimed a moral equivalency between neo-Nazis and Klansmen and those who would oppose their venom and hate.

 

We have an American president who has emboldened white supremacists with messages of comfort and support

 

….This is a moment for this nation to declare what the president can’t with any clarity, consistency or conviction: There is no place for these hate groups in America. Hatred of blacks, Jews, immigrants – all who are seen as “the other” – won’t be accepted or tolerated or given safe harbor anywhere in this nation.”

Biden has the audacity to concoct this fallacy and then associate it with the “defense of the constitution” at the end of the article.  I guess the “medal of freedom” he received as a surprise gift from Barack Obama was just a meaningless trinket after all.

I don’t know that anyone claimed a “moral equivalency” between racists and people opposed to racism. That is not what the confederate statue issue is about anyway. What I do know, though, is that under the law every group present at Charlottesville had a Constitutional right to be there, regardless of how Biden or others view their “morals.”

I would point out that many people, myself included, actually find the communistic fanaticism of Antifa and other social justice groups to be a much greater threat to the freedom and stability of our nation than anything white nationalist groups promote. But many conservatives, myself included, still defend Antifa’s right to free speech in public places as long as they do not interfere in the free speech rights of others. This is something leftist groups are not willing to do. These groups should be thanking their lucky stars for conservatives and conservative principles, otherwise they might have been stomped out of existence a long time ago. It is conservative thought that defends the rights of any group or individual, acting in accordance with the law, to speak freely in public forums.

It is conservative thought that defends the speech of Antifa. It is conservative thought that defends the existence of confederate statues. And yes, it is conservative thought that defends the speech of white nationalists and many others. This does not mean we necessarily agree with any particular group’s position.  The nature of the speech is irrelevant. In this kind of open social environment, ideas can do battle, rather than people. When one group begins to assert preeminence and says the speech of others is now unprotected, the door is opened wide to battles between people, rather than ideas.

If a person does not agree with certain views, they can always go back home, or back to their own private websites and forums. But, as soon as they enter the public sphere, they are not entitled to insulation from the ideas of other people.

What Biden and others are championing is at bottom the ideology of “futurism,” a movement launched in Europe and Russia in the early 20th Century driven by violent change or extermination of traditional principles. Futurism is often credited as being a precursor to both fascist and Bolshevist political movements (as well as globalism), and its core mantra is that all “new” ideas and systems must take precedence over old ideas and systems. New generations must advance the dominance of their ideologies over older generations. Heritage must die out. Traditions must be abandoned. Progress must be pursued.

The problem is, there are very few “new” ideas in the world. In cultural terms, society is cyclical. The same ideas come and go over the centuries; rehashed and rebranded, but certainly not new. What Antifa represents is classic communism and cultural Marxism. These are old ideals. The destruction of a nation’s history and heritage in the name of expedient political progress and “social justice” is a classic strategy turned into a science by the likes of Lenin and Mao. And this strategy is merely an extension of one of the oldest ideas ever — collectivist tyranny.

If we are to be honest here, the conservative philosophy of individual freedom and Constitutional liberty as a foundation of political life is the newest of ideas to be adopted by any culture in human history.

When we examine the mindset of the average American, there is definitely a sizable division.  But, one thing the vast majority of us agree on is that government power is not to be trusted.  Only 20% of Americans today believe the government will “do what is right” most of the time.  The largest ideological group in the US according to recent polls continues to be conservatives.  Conservative principles of limited government and individual liberty are the bedrock upon which America was founded.  While many Democrats (and some Republicans) will insist upon larger government as the solution to all our societal ills, this is predicated on the notion that THEY are in control of that government.  Place a host of Republicans in seats of power in Washington and the liberals become just as distrustful of the establishment as any hardcore libertarian (aka – true conservative).

You see, the fact is that most people are really conservative at heart until they think they have the reins of government in their hands.  What Biden and other establishment elites want is to use government power as a temptation; a prize that will corrupt anyone that attains it and alienate anyone that doesn’t.  In the case of his Atlantic article, Biden is luring leftists into stupidity and ruin.  Biden WANTS domestic strife and conflict.  He wants the left to believe they are fighting a righteous fight when they on the wrong side of history not to mention nothing more than cannon fodder.  And they think he is actually on their side…

Biden claims that today we are in a battle “for America’s soul,” but the reality is that establishment elites and the useful idiots they employ are seeking to suffocate the soul of our nation so that they can build their own vision on top of the ashes. This is what futurists do. This is what communists and fascists do. This is what globalists do. America has survived as long as it has because some ideas never become outdated. The Bill of Rights and the Constitution itself are merely the legal embodiment of the eternal principles of natural law and individual liberty. What is new is the idea that these principles must be protected by government, that they actually RESTRICT government, and that, in fact, the only job government should really be concerned with is to ensure the continuation of these restrictions on leadership and these freedoms for citizens.

This is conservative. This is the soul of America. You cannot call for the exact opposite and still claim you are a champion of America’s soul.

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If Korean War Breaks Out, Seoul Will Send Special Forces To Assassinate Kim Jong-Un

August 31, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Confirming reports that first floated several months ago, the Telegraph reports that South Korea is preparing to send special forces units into Pyongyang to conduct a “clinical strike” – searching for, and taking out Kim Jong-un and his closest adviser…

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What Happened To Making America Great Again?

August 31, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Curt Mills via The National Interest,
With Steve Bannon out of the White House, regrets are abounding in some corners of the right over how President Trump staffed his administration.

As a candidate Donald Trump excoriated his party’…

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Here’s The Cartoon Mocking Harvey Survivors That Politico Deleted

August 31, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Under pressure from an avalanche of social media backlash, Politico has deleted a tweet containing a cartoon appearing to mock the survivors of Hurrican Harvey

Drawn by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, Matt Wuerker, the cartoon shows a person in a Confederate flag shirt, thanking god for being rescued from a flooded house bearing a secessionist sign (and a Gadsden flag). The cartoonist’s irony appears to be that the federal government sent the helicopter to rescue him.

As Wuerker tried to explain…

Just trying to point out times like this we’re lucky to have rescue services. Don’t see how this takes away from private individuals heroism https://t.co/Tk4xCqyV0v

— Matt Wuerker (@wuerker) August 30, 2017

Had no idea so many people liked Texas Secessionists and hate the Coast Guard. It’s pro Coastie!

— Matt Wuerker (@wuerker) August 30, 2017

This did not sit well with many conservatives… and Politico deleted the tweet soon after.

. @politico couldn’t have missed the mark more w/ this comic. Tremendous diversity and complexity to #Houston & #Texas politics. pic.twitter.com/cxEmFWOrmE

— Adam Green (@AdamGreen_WSD) August 30, 2017

@politico If you’re going to poke someone in the eye about their faith why not right after they’ve lost everything.. #NoClass https://t.co/qxjkBvZOUh

— Jason M ???????? (@jmmesserschmidt) August 30, 2017

Besides being disgusting, this is theologically ignorant. As if God only works through overt miracles. https://t.co/eBmoITqvXZ

— Greg (@Greg651) August 30, 2017

This is supposed to be funny. It’s not. It insults victims of epic tragedy. Ppl whose labor funds this beloved govt. https://t.co/xKs1JTE4JB

— Chris Rochester (@cdrochester) August 30, 2017

It’s pro-Coast Guard, anti-people who are being pulled from their homes and who lost everything, including friends and family members

— Shelby Webb (@shelbywebb) August 30, 2017

The flag is not obvious, so it ends up reading like a swipe at people of faith.

— Elizabeth Scalia (@TheAnchoress) August 30, 2017

Similarly, even The Washington Post described the cartoon as “tone-deaf” and “unhelpful,” saying it was a “needlessly vast oversimplification of a very complex issue at a very sensitive time.”

“It’s almost a caricature of what you’d expect a liberal cartoonist to draw in response to conservative Texans relying upon the government in their time of crisis,” said Aaron Blake, a Post blogger.

 

“The Confederate flag T-shirt. The Gadsden Flag. The reference to being saved by God (which seems extremely dismissive of Christianity). The Texas secession banner. It’s all kind of … predictable?”

Just luck that President Trump didn’t retweet it before they deleted it.

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UN worried about civilians trapped in Raqqa

August 31, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

The top UN official on genocide prevention expressed fears Wednesday that the battle to take Raqqa from Daesh is wreaking havoc on civilians. “I am deeply disturbed by reports coming out of Raqqa of the horrendous situation faced by civilians caught up in the offensive to retake the city from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL),” Adama Dieng said in an emailed statement to Anadolu Agency, referring to the Daesh terrorist group. He said the Syrian city, where 25,000 civilians remain trapped, was under heavy bombardment by the US-led anti-Daesh coalition. The impact on civilians is exacerbated by the fact that Daesh militants use them as human shields and kill those who try to flee while […]

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British PM says no plans to quit

August 31, 2017 rbksa 0
Author: 
AFP
Thu, 2017-08-31 05:05
ID: 
1504147195642342800

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May insisted she would lead the Conservative Party into the next general election, in interviews broadcast Thursday.
Her announcement followed reports that she was preparing to stand down when Britain leaves the European Union in 2019.
She told Sky News television there was “absolutely no basis for those reports whatsoever. I’m in this for the long term.”
May called a snap general election in June, hoping to extend the center-right Conservatives’ slim majority and strengthen her hand going into the Brexit negotiations.
But the gamble backfired, she lost her majority and is now propped up by the support of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists.
Asked by the BBC if it was her intention to lead the Conservatives into the next election — scheduled for 2022 — she replied: “Yes. I’m here for the long term.
“And it’s crucial. What me and my government are about is not just delivering on Brexit. We are delivering a brighter future for the United Kingdom,” she said, during a visit to Japan.
“It is my intention not just to deliver a good Brexit deal for the UK but also to ensure that ‘global Britain’ can take its place in the world, trading around the world and that we deal with those injustices domestically that we need to do to ensure that stronger, more global but also fairer Britain for the future.”
May could face a tricky time at the annual Conservative Party conference in September.
Some MPs are bristling about her handling of the general election campaign, which saw the party blowing the massive opinion poll lead it held over the Labour main opposition.

Main category: 

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After tense talks, UN agrees to renew peacekeepers in Lebanon

August 31, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

The United Nations Security Council unanimously voted to renew the mandate for a peacekeeping mission in Lebanon on Wednesday, following tense negotiations amid US and Israeli criticism that UN troops should do more to stop Hezbollah gaining arms. The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) – established in 1978 – patrols Lebanon’s southern border with Israel. Washington regards Hezbollah, which supports the Syrian government and has a strong presence in south Lebanon, as a terrorist organization. US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Washington wanted the French-drafted resolution to renew UNIFIL’s mandate to “ensure UNIFIL is doing its job to the fullest extent possible.” After a 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, the UNIFIL mandate was expanded to […]

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Gold Flash-Crashes Below $1300

August 31, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

After the shenanigans in US mega-tech stocks over the last two days and the seemingly well orchestrated melt-up to pre-J-Hole levels in the dollar, why should anyone be surprised that ‘someone’ decided to try to sell $1.1 billion notional into the Asian open…

 

Sending Spot Gold back below the Maginot Line of $1300…

 

Silver followed suit… with 1300 contracts ($115 million notional) dumped at 21:43:30ET

 

The Dollar Index spiked as precious metals were ‘handled’ – note that in the last 48 hours, no dips in the dollar have been allowed…

 

Was The Bank of Japan at work again?

 

The flash crash lows coincided with the oddly-timed spike from Monday (that really had very little in the way of specific catalyst)…

One witty Twitterer asked mischieviously, “Was Kim buying Gold futures ahead of his launch?”

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