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Bitcoin Value Crashes by Nearly 20%

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Lucas Nolan reports: Bitcoin value took a dramatic dive Thursday with the cryptocurrency’s value falling by as much as 18% to $820 per coin, according to Business Insider.

Bitcoin made headlines earlier this week when the cryptocurrency value surpassed $1000, its highest valuation since 2013, but Bitcoin traders didn’t enjoy the sudden increase for too long as the price began to fall rapidly. By 8AM EST on Thursday a single coin was valued at $892. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] 3 Ways Bitcoin Is Promoting Freedom in Latin America

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How bitcoin is allowing Venezuelans to circumvent capital controls, Brazilians to get around tariffs—and might one day improve Latin America‘s overall business climate.


BREAKING: Obama Administration ‘Laundered’ U.S. Cash to Iran Via New York Federal Reserve, European Banks

These disclosures shine new light on how the Obama administration moved millions of dollars from U.S. accounts to European banks in order to facilitate three separate cash payments to Iran totaling $1.7 billion.

  reports: A member of the House Intelligence Committee is accusing the Obama administration of laundering some $1.7 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars to Iran through a complicated network that included the New York Federal Reserve and several European banks, according to conversations with sources and new information obtained by the lawmaker and viewed by the Washington Free Beacon.

New disclosures made by the Treasury Department to Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), a House Intelligence Committee member, show that an initial $400 million cash payment to Iran was wired to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) and then converted from U.S. dollars into Swiss francs and moved to an account at the Swiss National Bank, according to a copy of communication obtained exclusively by the Free Beacon.

“By withholding critical details and stonewalling congressional inquiries, President Obama seems to be hiding whether or not he and others broke U.S. law by sending $1.7 billion in cash to Iran. But Americans can plainly see that the Obama administration laundered this money in order to circumvent U.S. law and appease the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Once the money was transferred to the Swiss Bank, the “FRBNY withdrew the funds from its account as Swiss franc banknotes and the U.S. Government physically transported them to Geneva” before personally overseeing the handover to an agent of Iran’s central bank, according to the documents.

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“Think about this timeline: the U.S. withdraws $400 million in cash from the Swiss National Bank and then physically transports it to another city to hand-off to Iranian officials—three days before Iran releases four American hostages. But it gets worse: less than a week after this, the U.S. again sends hordes of cash to Iran.  As we speak, Iran is still holding three more Americans hostage and I fear what precedent this administration has set.”

These disclosures shine new light on how the Obama administration moved millions of dollars from U.S. accounts to European banks in order to facilitate three separate cash payments to Iran totaling $1.7 billion.

“For the first settlement payment in January, Treasury assisted the Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) in crafting a wire instruction to transfer the $400 million in principal from the Iran FMS [Foreign Military Sales program] account on January 14, 2016.”

— Rep. Mike Pompeo

The latest information is adding fuel to accusations the Obama administration arranged the payment in this fashion to skirt U.S. sanctions laws and give Iran the money for the release of U.S. hostages, in what many have called a ransom.

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Congress has been investigating the circumstances surrounding the payment for months and said the administration is blocking certain requests for more detailed information about the cash transaction with Iran.

“By withholding critical details and stonewalling congressional inquiries, President Obama seems to be hiding whether or not he and others broke U.S. law by sending $1.7 billion in cash to Iran,” Pompeo told the Free Beacon. “But Americans can plainly see that the Obama administration laundered this money in order to circumvent U.S. law and appease the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

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As new details emerge, congressional critics such as Pompeo and Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) are beginning to suspect the U.S. government laundered the money in order to provide Tehran with immediate access. Read the rest of this entry »


Gavin Andresen on Why Bitcoin Will Become Unreliable Next Year Without an Urgent Fix 

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The man who took over stewardship of Bitcoin from its mysterious inventor says the currency is in serious trouble.

Tom Simonite reports: The way things are going, the digital currency Bitcoin will start to malfunction early next year. Transactions will become increasingly delayed, and the system of money now worth $3.3 billion will begin to die as its flakiness drives people away. So says Gavin Andresen, who in 2010 was designated chief caretaker of the code that powers Bitcoin by its shadowy creator. Andresen held the role of “core maintainer” during most of Bitcoin’s improbable rise; he stepped down last year but still remains heavily involved with the currency (see “The Man Who Really Built Bitcoin”).

Andresen’s gloomy prediction stems from the fact that Bitcoin can’t process more than seven transactions a second. That’s a tiny volume compared to the tens of thousands per second that payment systems like Visa can handle—and a limit he expects to start crippling Bitcoin early in 2016. It stems from the maximum size of the “blocks” that are added to the digital ledger of Bitcoin transactions, the blockchain, by people dubbed miners who run software that confirms Bitcoin transactions and creates new Bitcoin (see “What Bitcoin Is and Why It Matters”).

[Read the full text here, at MIT Technology Review]

Andresen’s proposed solution triggered an uproar among people who use or work with Bitcoin when he introduced it two weeks ago. Rather than continuing to work with the developers who maintain Bitcoin’s code, Andresen released his solution in the form of an alternative version of the Bitcoin software called BitcoinXT and urged the community to switch over. If 75 percent of miners have adopted his fix after January 11, 2016, it will trigger a two-week grace period and then allow a “fork” of the blockchain with higher capacity. Critics consider that to be a reckless toying with Bitcoin’s future; Andresen, who now works on Bitcoin with the support of MIT’s Media Lab, says it is necessary to prevent the currency strangling itself. He spoke with MIT Technology Review’s San Francisco bureau chief, Tom Simonite.

How serious is the problem of Bitcoin’s limited transaction rate?

It is urgent. Looking at the transaction volume on the Bitcoin network, we need to address it within the next four or five months. As we get closer and closer to the limit, bad things start to happen. Networks close to capacity get congested and unreliable. If you want reliability, you’ll have to start paying higher and higher fees on transactions, and there will be a point where fees get high enough that people stop using Bitcoin. Read the rest of this entry »


What is The Deep Web?

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Executive Arrested in Japan Over Disappearance of $390 Million in Bitcoins

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The global virtual currency community was shaken by the shuttering of MtGox, which froze withdrawals in February 2014 because of what the firm said was a bug in the software underpinning Bitcoin that allowed hackers to pilfer them.

Japanese police on Saturday arrested Mark Karpeles, head of the collapsed MtGox Bitcoin exchange, over the disappearance of about $390 (£250 million) worth of the virtual currency, local media said.

France-born Karpeles, 30, is suspected of having accessed the exchange’s computer system and falsifying data on its outstanding balance, Kyodo News and public broadcaster NHK said.

“They say it’s under investigation. That’s all they say. They seem to refuse to make public more precise information about MtGox’s own (information) and how and when it was stolen, if it was really stolen.”

—  French investor, to AFP last year at a creditors’ meeting in Tokyo

The global virtual currency community was shaken by the shuttering of MtGox, which froze withdrawals in February 2014 because of what the firm said was a bug in the software underpinning Bitcoin that allowed hackers to pilfer them.

Police did not immediately confirm Karpeles’ arrest but local television footage showed authorities taking him into custody.

The exchange – which once boasted of handling around 80 percent of global Bitcoin transactions – filed for bankruptcy protection soon after the cyber-money went missing, admitting it had lost 850,000 coins worth 48 billion yen ($387 million at today’s exchange rate).

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Ross Ulbricht Silk Road mastermind

“A cloud has been hanging over the Tokyo-based exchange and Karpeles as investors have demanded answers, and called on the firm to publicise its data so that hackers around the world can help analyse what happened at MtGox.”

Karpeles later said he had found some 200,000 of the lost Bitcoins in a “cold wallet” – a storage device such as a memory stick that is not connected to other computers.

Bitcoins are generated by complex chains of interactions among a huge network of computers around the planet and are not backed by any government or central bank.

A cloud has been hanging over the Tokyo-based exchange and Karpeles as investors have demanded answers, and called on the firm to publicise its data so that hackers around the world can help analyse what happened at MtGox. Read the rest of this entry »


Robotic Sports: Ready for Prime Time

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Robotic Sports Will One Day Rival the NFL

Cody Brown writes: When I was 13, I watched a season of Battle Bots on Comedy Central then attempted to build a killer robot in my parent’s basement. You might think, oh, you were probably a weird kid (and you’d be right) but I think eventually this is behavior that will become normal for people all around the world. It’s had some moments in the spotlight but a bunch of factors make it seem like robotic sports is destined for primetime ESPN in the next five years.

1.) A drone flying through the forest looks incredible at 80 mph.

A new class of bot (FPV Quadcopter) has emerged in the past few years and the footage they produce is nuts. Robots can do things we’re fascinated by but can’t generally achieve without risking our own lives. Drones the size of a dinner plate can zoom through a forest like a 3 pound insect. A bot that shoots flames can blow up a rival in a plexiglass cage.

You can make an argument that the *thrill* of these moments is lightened if a person isn’t risking their own life and limb and this is true to a certain extent. NASCAR crashes are inherently dramatic but you don’t need to burn drivers to make fans scream.

Just look at the rise of e-sports. This League of Legends team sits in an air conditioned bubble and sips Red Bull while a sold out arena screams their lungs out. They’re not in any physical danger but 31 million fans are watching online.

The thing that ultimately matters is that the sport looks incredible on video and fans have a connection to the players. And right now, the video, in raw form, is mesmerizing.

2.) Robot parts have gotten cheaper, better and easier to buy.

When I was a kid, I was limited to things available at the local Radio Shack or hardware store. Now I can go to Amazon, find parts with amazing reviews and have them delivered to my house in a day. The hobby community has had many years to develop its technology and increase quality. Brands like Fat Shark, Spektrum, and adafruit have lead the way.

3.) Top colleges fight over teenagers who win robotics competitions.

If you’re good at building a robot, chances are you have a knack for engineering, math, physics, and a litany of other skills top colleges drool over. This is exciting for anyone (at any age) but it’s especially relevant for students and parents deciding what is worth their investment.

There are already some schools that offer scholarships for e-sports. I wouldn’t be surprised if intercollegiate leagues were some of the first to pop up with traction.

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4.) The military wants to get better at making robots for the battlefield.

This one is a little f***ed but it’s worth acknowledging. Drones (of all sizes) are the primary technology changing the battlefield today. DARPA has an overwhelming interest to stay current and they’re already sponsoring multimillion dollar (more academic) robotics competitions. It’s up to the community to figure out how (or how not) to involve them. Them, meaning the giant military apparatus of the United States but also military organizations around the world who want to develop and recruit the people who will power their 21st century defense (and offense). Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] ‘Bitcoin is the Real Disruptor’

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“Bitcoin is punk rock and you can’t turn it into smooth jazz just to satisfy the sensibilities of a timid boardroom.”

Presenting as part of the session “Beyond Bitcoin, Unleashing the Blockchain“, Andreas M Antonopoulos opens with a contrarian perspective. It’s not about “beyond bitcoin”, and you can’t put this technology on a leash to make it more palatable.

Bitcoin is the real thing, the revolutionary and disruptive technology that can’t be tamed.

Wired Money 2015  YouTube

Punk Image source: Punk Rock Cyborg by Trinivee


Robot with $100 Bitcoin Buys Drugs, Gets Arrested

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The robot’s purchases included a Hungarian passport, Ecstasy pills, fake Diesel jeans, a Sprite can with a hole cut out in order to stash cash, Nikes, a baseball cap with a hidden camera, cigarettes and the ‘Lord of the Rings‘ e-book collection

Arjun Kharpal reports: This is the curious story of how a robot armed with a weekly budget of $100 in bitcoin managed to buy Ecstasy, a Hungarian passport and a baseball cap with a built-in camera—before getting arrested.

The “automated online shopping bot” was set up in October last year by Swiss art group, !Mediengruppe Bitnik, as an art installation to explore the “dark web”—the hidden, un-indexed part of the Internet.

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Each week, the robot was given $100 worth of Bitcoin— the major hard-to-trace cryptocurrency—and programmed to randomly purchase one item from Agora, an online marketplace on the dark web where shoppers can buy drugs and other illegal items. The items were automatically delivered to a Swiss art gallery called Kunst Halle St Gallen to form an exhibition.

“This is a great day for the ‘bot, for us and for freedom of art!”

—  !Mediengruppe Bitnik, in a blog post

The robot was christened “Random Darknet Shopper” and its purchases included a Hungarian passport, Ecstasy pills, fake Diesel jeans, a Sprite can with a hole cut out in order to stash cash, Nike trainers, a baseball cap with a hidden camera, cigarettes and the “Lord of the Rings” e-book collection.

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, the robot and his artistic creators had a run in with the law. In January 2015, the Swiss police confiscated the robot and its illegal purchases.

However, three months later, the Random Darknet Shopper was returned to the artists, along with all its purchases except the Ecstasy (also known as MDMA) tablets, which were destroyed by the Swiss authorities.

The artists behind the robot escaped without any charges. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Elon Musk on SpaceX Winning Multi-Billion Contract from NASA

Elon Musk is looking happy following the $2.6B bid the SpaceX just won from NASA – against all odds…

Overview:
00:00. About winning the bid
01:00. Dragon V2 & first manned flights
03:03. Blue Origin & the competition
05:00. The Gigafactory

Date: September 16, 2014
Elon was 43 years old

 


Today’s Apps Are Turning Us Into Sociopaths

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Illustration: McMillan Digital Art/Getty

For Evan Selinger writes:  While I am far from a Luddite who fetishizes a life without tech, we need to consider the consequences of this latest batch of apps and tools that remind us to contact significant others, boost our willpower, provide us with moral guidance, and encourage us to be civil. Taken together, we’re observing the emergence of tech that doesn’t just augment our intellect and lives — but is now beginning to automate and outsource our humanity.

But let’s take a concrete example. Instead of doing the professorial pontification thing we tech philosophers are sometimes wont to do, I talked to the makers of BroApp, a “clever relationship wingman” (their words) that sends “automated daily text messages” to your significant other. It offers the promise of “maximizing” romantic connection through “seamless relationship outsourcing.”

Now, it’s perfectly possible that this app is a parody (the promo video includes bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto and feminist voice Germaine Greer among the demo contacts), and its creators “James” and “Tom” didn’t share their last names with me. But my 29-year-old interlocutors — one who apparently has a degree in Engineering and Mathematics, the other in Design and Applied Finance — had clearly thought deeply about why relationship management tools are socially desirable and will be increasingly integrated into our everyday lives. Read the rest of this entry »


More on “The Increasingly Libertarian Milton Friedman”

  writes:  In the journalistic/academic circle of life, Milton Friedman biographer Lanny Ebenstein in a new article available at Economic Journal Watch riffs (at least partially) off a Reason review written by me of Ebenstein’s own edited collection of Friedman rarities, The Indispensable Milton Friedman.

Ebenstein’s new journal article, like my review, is called “The Increasingly Libertarian Milton Friedman.”

[See The Indispensable Milton Friedman: Essays on Politics and Economics (2012) at Amazon]

It does a very thorough job demonstrating that as Friedman’s career and knowledge went on–and especially when he shifted from a professional active academic to a professional public intellectual activist–he became more and more libertarian in his views.

Read the rest of this entry »


Printed Protection and the Future of Defense

Jeffrey Tucker writes: We crossed another milestone in industrial history last week. Over the weekend of May 4-5, 2013, the world’s first handgun was printed on a 3-D printer. It was fired and it worked. The implications are dazzling for people all over the world. The printers will become cheaper over time. The files for printing can be distributed all over the world through the Internet.

Read the rest of this entry »