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Gaza, Ukraine and the fraud of “human rights” imperialism

Socialism OnLine! -

URL: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/07/31/pers-j31.html

Gaza, Ukraine and the fraud of “human rights” imperialism. "As the horrific images of the latest massacres emerged from Gaza, newspapers carried the report that the Obama administration had agreed with the EU to impose sweeping sanctions—not against Israel, but against Russia."

Topic(s): Geography:  Vote Up/Down

HP and Gilt might offer the most stylish smartwatch yet

Liliputing -

HP wants to get in on the smartwatch action, but in a quest to deliver something which stands out from the crowd HP isn’t going it alone. The company is partnering with Gilt and fashion designer Michael Bastian. This fall the team will offer one of the most stylish smartwatches to date. Under the hood […]

HP and Gilt might offer the most stylish smartwatch yet is a post from: Liliputing

Comments and Petitions: How the BitLicense Will Affect the Future of Bitcoin

Bitcoin Magazine -

When Ben Lawsky and the NYDFS met with key players in the Bitcoin community earlier this year, there were many questions of what the committee would propose and how it would affect Bitcoin entrepreneurs, businesses and the future of the digital currency industry. For nearly everyone in the Bitcoin ecosystem, the proposed BitLicense struck a nerve. It is a hot button issue including how the proposed rules and regulations will be debilitating to the digital currency industry, how a BitLicense will stifle continued innovation and mainly, the extremely short period which the NYDFS is giving to comment on the proposal.

In a recent Coin Congress press release, President of the Digital Chamber Perianne Boring stated regarding the short comment period, “One egregious aspect is that the NYDFS is only giving 45 days to comment, which is severely inadequate to proposed regulations of this scope.” Because of this short period, there are a great many within the Bitcoin community, including Coin Congress, that are calling on the community to submit comments to the NYDFS. Initially, Lawsky made claims that the proposed regulations would be intended to act as guardrails to protect consumers and root out illegal activities without stifling innovation. However, organizations like Coin Congress, the Digital Chamber and many others believe the BitLicense will in fact do the opposite, potentially crushing the Bitcoin industry in New York and stifling jobs, investments and innovation. Now, with less than 40 days to comment, the Bitcoin community needs to provide the committee with needed insight. Instructions on how to comment can be found here.

What is included in the proposal?

The NYDFS proposal would require a “BitLicense” for any firm engaged in receiving or transmitting virtual currency on behalf of consumers; securing, storing, or maintaining custody or control of virtual currency on behalf of customers; performing retail conversion services; buying and selling virtual currency as a customer business; or controlling, administering, or issuing a virtual currency.

Holders of a BitLicense would be required to adhere to a set of rules and regulations meant to prevent illegal activities and protect virtual currency customers. However, these proposed regulations, a word that the Bitcoin community often cringes at, will likely have adverse affects on continued innovation in the industry if the requirements remain the same. A detailed breakdown of the requirements proposed by the NYDFS contain a long list of actions that will be overseen by the NYDFS, including anti-money laundering, consumer protection, cyber security, capital requirements and financial reporting and audits. Yes, these are very important aspects of any business in the industry, but they can easily be controlled internally.

Petition to the state

Members of the Open Source Financial Developers Association (OSFDA) have begun a petition to the Governor and State legislature to bring attention to the overreach of the proposed BitLicense. The organization believes the rules and regulations put forth by the NYDFS will have drastically negative effects on businesses and communities in the industry, as well as blockchain-based technologies.

The petition was introduced because comments made by the community to the NYDFS are failing to address the Governor, who is responsible for appointing the superintendent of the NYDFS. The organization stated, “This BitLicense, if enacted, would serve as a permanent reminder in subsequent elections of those who opposed small business innovation in New York.” The petition can be found on Change.org at http://chn.ge/1o4sot7.

It is obvious that many individuals in digital currency communities believe that the proposed rules in New York will greatly affect the future of the industry. The hope is that the NYDFS will be open-minded, listen to the voices of the community and allow businesses in the industry to flourish.

The post Comments and Petitions: How the BitLicense Will Affect the Future of Bitcoin appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Spend Physical Gold Online via GBI’s Ripple Gateway

Bitcoin Magazine -

Gold Bullion International (GBI) has announced their newly launched Ripple gateway. GBI is a leading institutional precious metals provider to individual investors and the wealth management industry.

GBI’s technology and operations platform allows investors to acquire and manage their physical precious metals assets directly through GBI or through their existing wealth management account relationships.

Precious metals are acquired through a competitive institutional dealer network, stored on behalf of investors in protected and insured vaults in New York, Salt Lake City, London, Zurich, Melbourne and Singapore, and audited by one of the big four accounting firms.

GBI bills itself a reliable option for precious metals ownership. GBI is an institutional quality precious metals provider with over $1 billion in completed transactions. The firm provides its services to a broad range of customers including Merrill Lynch.

With their announcement it is now possible to quickly and easily buy gold to diversify portfolios, and spend gold anywhere BTC is accepted. Of course, this builds on other new applications like money transfer through Fidor Bank, remittance through Ripple LatAm or Bitso, and the many other gateways and B2B services operating on top of Ripple.

This implementation and approach is part of a growing trend. That is, to capitalize on the unique aspects of Bitcoin’s successful technology while, at the same time, creating more stable and reliable financial instruments.

With GBI’s digital, gold-backed currency, traded over the Ripple protocol, anyone can now trade, send and spend physical gold online via GBI’s Ripple Gateway. This brings greater liquidity to gold. The protocol allows clients the ability to spend their physical gold (XAU) balance online, send it electronically to friends and family, or spend it as a currency for payment anywhere Bitcoin is accepted.

This new and unique capability comes from GBI’s just-launched Ripple gateway. All XAU trades are backed with physical gold deposited in six secure vaults around the world. Select market makers have already been issued XAU balances and have commenced trading.

Ripple is an open-source, decentralized payments protocol that enables anything of value to be traded through a global value web. Market makers on Ripple seamlessly exchange different units of value for trading and transactions. For example, when GBI clients pay for goods and services with gold, it can be automatically converted into dollars or another preferred unit of value for delivery to a merchant.

“Ripple changes the dynamics of value, allowing for a real-time market that can instantly trade between gold, currency, mobile minutes, and more,” said Steven Feldman, co-founder and CEO of GBI. “We have been leaders in combining technology and precious metals, and our integration into Ripple allows us to continue our push into digital currencies by enabling investors to now buy digital physical gold.”

“Investors can withdraw their XAU balance at any time and GBI will send the corresponding amount of physical gold,” said Savneet Singh, co-founder and head of the Digital Currency initiative at GBI. “GBI allows those who prefer the security of a precious metals-backed currency to now buy digital units of that currency on Ripple with complete confidence in the security of their assets. This continues our movement into the digital currency world and we look forward to sharing future exciting announcements shortly.”

The post Spend Physical Gold Online via GBI’s Ripple Gateway appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

The CIA Does Las Vegas

Slashdot -

Nicola Hahn (1482985) writes Despite the long line of covert operations that Ed Snowden's documents have exposed public outcry hasn't come anywhere near the level of social unrest that characterized the 1960s. Journalists like Conor Friedersdorf have suggested that one explanation for this is that the public is "informed by a press that treats officials who get caught lying and misleading (e.g., James Clapper and Keith Alexander) as if they're credible." Certainly there are a number of well-known popular venues which offer a stage for spies to broadcast their messages from while simultaneously claiming to "cultivate conversations among all members of the security community, both public and private." This year, for instance, Black Hat USA will host Dan Greer (the CISO of In-Q-Tel) as a keynote speaker. But after all of the lies and subterfuge is it even constructive to give voice to the talking points of intelligence officials? Or are they just muddying the water? As one observer put it, "high-profile members of the intelligence community like Cofer Black, Shawn Henry, Keith Alexander, and Dan Greer are positioned front and center in keynote slots, as if they were glamorous Hollywood celebrities. While those who value their civil liberties might opine that they should more aptly be treated like pariahs"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Argentina blames US authorities for triggering default

RT -

The majority of bond holders agreed to write-off two thirds of Argentina’s debt held since it defaulted in 2001-2002. However a group of hedge funds, or as Argentina calls them "vulture fund" investors, who did not agree to the write-off, are now insisting on full payment of all the debt.

The problem arose after the US court prevented Argentina paying $539 million to its creditors, saying it should first pay $1.5 billion to compensate those investors who never accepted the restructuring deal.

The deadline set to by the US judge to pay the debt expired on Thursday at 04:00 GMT after which the US court froze Argentina’s payments to other bond holders, pushing the country into a technical default.

To say that Argentina is in technical default is a ridiculous hoax,” the Daily Telegraph quotes Jorge Capitanich, Argentina’s cabinet chief, accusing Judge Griesa of acting as an “agent” of speculative funds. “There’s been mala praxis here by the US justice system, for which all three branches of the government are responsible. Argentina has tried to negotiate in good faith,” he added.

Argentina has threatened to take the US to the International Court of Justice for judicial malpractice.

After the deadline Standard & Poor’s immediately declared the country to be in “selective default” As a result, the most important index of the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange, the MERVAL, fell 7 percent as Argentina’s banks plunged by 12 percent. Even the US Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 1.6 percent in late trading.

READ MORE: Argentina placed into ‘default’ rating as debt deal deadline expires

However Argentina's President Christina Kirchner denies the country is in financial default, stressing that it still has opportunities to compromise with international debt holders.

The latest default is expected to exacerbate Argentina's economy already hit by recession, analysts say. However they stress the effect will be easier than the economic meltdown 13 years ago when savers' accounts were frozen to stop a run on the banks, and dozens died in violent street protests.

"The full consequences of default are not predictable, but they certainly are not positive," the BBC quotes Daniel Pollack, the court-appointed mediator in the case.

Bitcoin and Bilingualism

Bitcoin Magazine -

Bitcoin, theoretically and empirically, already qualifies as money. Bitcoin is not Chuck-E Cheese tokens and, despite Charlie Munger’s esteemed opinion, certainly not “rat poison.” Surda and Graf have the right idea on this. Bitcoin was initially valued for what it was – powerful cryptographic technology that was valued by crypto-anarchists and various individuals on the bitcointalk forum. Eventually, the specific characteristics of Bitcoins (divisibility, ease, speed, etc.) caught on to larger and larger groups of people who began buying and using Bitcoin for exchanges. And voila – now we have a medium of exchange. Given the vast market of goods for which Bitcoin can currently be exchanged in so many locations, I’m willing to consider it money. Online vendors and entrepreneurs already conduct monetary calculation in terms of Bitcoin. If there were “Bitcoin banks” where people sent their Bitcoins for safe keeping, and this bank secretly operated on fractional reserve principles, the ensuing money creation would slowly distort the structure of production for all goods denominated in the Bitcoin economy. I don’t think that’s controversial.

I’m more interested, though, in looking at the perspective of Bitcoin competing as a money and analyzing it from an economic perspective. Many of us are familiar with how money originates: all commodities come to be valued for whatever direct need they fulfill; certain commodities come to be valued for the indirect service they perform in addition to whatever use-value they have. Individual people, recognizing that some commodities have attributes satisfactory to enable this indirect exchange, begin using it instead of resorting to barter. Of course, the issue of contemporary money presents a few challenges, namely due to the political nature of its implementation (although the above analysis still applies to fiat money). This is where Bitcoin becomes exciting to study. Bitcoin, as a distributed digital crypto-currency, is not politically connected at all and yet it entered the market and is gaining strong traction. How will this play out for the individual?

If we imagine Bitcoin gaining in popularity, and that it continues to attract a larger crowd, the network effects of Bitcoin will become stronger. Languages and money derive some of their value on how many people use them. So, over time, the processes I describe will become more and more mature, in the same way as immersion in another country will sharpen those language skills to greater or lesser extents.

In some remote future, Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency may replace traditional currencies. But the change from a society using one currency to another would be neither instant nor would adoption and conversion happen simultaneously. Over time, as media of exchange appreciate in value, people will begin to hold marginally larger quantities of it. They will more and more come to calculate their Bitcoin-expenses in Bitcoin, instead of calculating Bitcoin-expenses in re-exchanged fiat. The individuals who choose to acquire marginally larger Bitcoin cash balances as it widens will begin associating a specific value to Bitcoin taking into account its deflationary aspect, just as we do with US Dollars or other fiat currency. The “value” of a unit of currency is determined, among other variables, with what one can purchase with it. As people become more acquainted with seeing and referring to various goods priced in Bitcoins, a mental association will develop that is totally independent from fiat values. So while today, the value of Bitcoin is thought of in terms of its fiat exchange, this connection will eventually disappear and two separate currencies will be coexisting, each with their respective markets and market actors. Just as in certain European societies that speak more than one language, every society integrated with Bitcoin and their traditional currency will learn both “languages” – perhaps in the way that gold and silver paired together historically. They will take on separate roles, or possibly Bitcoin will swallow the whole market. Only time – and the changing preferences of savers, entrepreneurs, and consumers – will tell. What is certain, though, is that everyone connected to the Bitcoin economy – even tangentially – will be forced to “speak” in terms of Bitcoin. In the past, people used to write “gold clauses” in their contracts specifying payment in ounces or grams of gold instead of in fiat values. This practice was popular because gold was a more reliable store of value than fluctuating national monies; they also allowed accounting in international terms. The value of a certain quantity of gold was familiar to all parties involved, whether they were in Europe or Asia.

In the 21st century, Bitcoin has replaced gold in all but decorative and ornamental functions. Further, because Bitcoin is a true medium of exchange and not simply a store of value, small-time merchants and regular consumers will become acquainted with it quickly. Because Bitcoin is a deflationary money, there will tend to emerge price discounts between fiat and Bitcoin values. Merchants, wishing to spend cash and retain Bitcoin, will reliably price their wares lower for customers who relinquish Bitcoin to them. This is what Daniel Krawisz refers to as “hyperbitcoinization.” It is a type of hypermonetization where one monetary unit accelerates in displacing another. We are already seeing price discounting with regards to credit cards. Many convenience stores and small businesses prefer to handle cash than credit, and they thereby offer an implicit discount for users who pay in cash (charging $0.50 on top of a credit transaction is the implicit cash discount). Likewise, merchants will agree to accept less Bitcoin than the pure exchange value to entice consumers to spend it. Consumers, witnessing the price discount – Gyft already offers 3% on many major retail outlets – will become interested in learning how they can save money. These two incentives are harmonious; both merchant and consumer benefit from Bitcoin, and the value proposition Bitcoin offers will force everyone to learn this second language. For a while thus, fiat values and Bitcoin values will exist simultaneously in people’s minds. Over time, the initial fiat values of various goods will disappear entirely as merchants refuse to accept worthless debt promises associated with the central banks of various nations. They will demand real assets for their goods, like Bitcoin, and then there will be no purpose in remembering the language of dollars, Euros, or anything else. They will be as dead as Latin.

The post Bitcoin and Bilingualism appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

What's that? A PHP SPECIFICATION? Surely you're joking, Facebook

LXer -

Zuck's engineers unveil formal spec based on PHP 5.6. A group of Facebook developers has decided to break with 20 years of tradition and release a formal specification for the PHP programming language. The initial draft of the spec was released on Wednesday and is available via a Git repository hosted on PHP.net.

NASA Tests Microwave Space Drive

Slashdot -

schwit1 (797399) writes with news that NASA scientists have tested the EmDrive, which claims to use quantum vacuum plasma for propulsion. Theoretically improbable, but perhaps possible after all. If it does work, it would eliminate the need for expendable fuel (just add electricity). From the article:Either the results are completely wrong, or NASA has confirmed a major breakthrough in space propulsion. A working microwave thruster would radically cut the cost of satellites and space stations and extend their working life, drive deep-space missions, and take astronauts to Mars in weeks rather than months. ... [According to the researchers] "Test results indicate that the RF resonant cavity thruster design, which is unique as an electric propulsion device, is producing a force that is not attributable to any classical electromagnetic phenomenon and therefore is potentially demonstrating an interaction with the quantum vacuum virtual plasma." Skepticism is certainly warranted: NASA researchers were only able to produce about 1/1000th of the force the Chinese researchers reported. But they were careful to avoid false sensor readings, so something is going on. The paper declined to comment on what that could be, leaving the physics of the system an open problem.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Democracy Now! 2014-08-01 Friday

Democracy Now! Videos -

Democracy Now! 2014-08-01 Friday
  • Headlines for August 01, 2014
  • As Gaza Ceasefire Collapses, Israel Kills Dozens Following Soldier's Capture in Rafah
  • Gazan Human Rights Lawyer Pleads to U.S.: We Deserve to be Protected, Not Bombed with Your Weapons
  • Recipe for Lasting Ceasefire? Lifting Israeli Siege & Int'l Accountability Could Break Status Quo
  • Amnesty International: U.S. Should Stop Arming Israel Amid "Growing Evidence of War Crimes in Gaza"
  • John Brennan Faces Calls to Resign After CIA Admits to Spying on Senate Torture Probe

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