Politics


Who Regulates Bitcoin Trading? No U.S. Agency Has Jurisdiction

26th dec 2017

Investors are frantically trying to learn everything they can about bitcoin—and so are regulators.

Furious trading in cryptocurrencies is testing many in the Trump administration who are eager to embrace financial innovation, after nearly a decade of tighter clamps on risk-taking put in place after the 2008 financial crisis.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the agency with closest oversight of bitcoin trading, began the year by launching an in-house lab to encourage advances in blockchain, the technology that underpins digital currencies. Yet the regulator recently sounded an alarm on bitcoin itself, noting most exchanges are completely unregulated while the cryptocurrency is prone to wild price swings and potential flash crashes.

The CFTC has labeled bitcoin a commodity, but as with other commodities, the agency mostly lacks jurisdiction over the primary market: It regulates corn futures contracts but not the buying and selling of corn itself, for instance. As a result, bitcoin exchanges don’t have to tell participants how they operate, such as whether they offer preferential access to certain traders.

“A lot of people, retail traders in particular, have gotten used to securities laws and commodities laws protecting them,” said Kipp Rogers, a former proprietary trader who is now a blogger and researcher. “And so they don’t just even know what to be on guard for.”

The Securities and Exchange Commission faces challenges similar to the CFTC’s. The SEC’s new chairman, Jay Clayton, wants retail investors to have better access to high-return investments, which bitcoin and many of its digital relatives provide.

But the SEC is cracking down on initial coin offerings, a fundraising vehicle that piggybacks off investors’ lust for bitcoin and in some cases violates core investor-protection laws.

“There is clearly demand for bitcoin investments, but the regulators are struggling with how to balance new tools for capital formation with the need for investor protections,” said Michael Liftik, a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP and previously a top aide to former SEC Chairman Mary Jo White.

 

source/read more:https://www.wsj.com/articles/who-regulates-bitcoin-trading-no-u-s-agency-has-jurisdiction-1514116800

The Ugly Truth About that Dying Polar Bear

12th Dec 2017

It’s sad. Very sad. You can see why it has gone viral and been all over the media from the Mail (“soul-crushing footage”) to CBC to the Washington Post (“we stood there crying”).

It’s the kind of sad thing you want to share it with your friends so they can wallow in the same pool of helpless misery you’re wallowing in.

For example, that bit where the emaciated bear reaches with his sad paw into that rusting trash can in search of something, anything, to eat. As you watch, you want so desperately to help him….

The footage was filmed on Baffin Island in Canada. Surely, if you or I had been there, we could have found something edible to push that stricken bear’s way: maybe a visiting delegation of performance poets, abstract artists and avant-garde musicians who arrived by antique sailing ship on a Rockefeller-Foundation-funded arts project to “raise awareness” of melting icecaps; or a group of Greenpeace activists(aren’t bears attracted by strong smells?) on a No To Arctic Drilling protest; or one of the plethora of explorers on another of those deep and meaningful eco-expeditions, sponsored by one of those big reinsurance companies whose business model largely depends on scaring potential clients into thinking global warming is a serious problem.

OK, perhaps I shouldn’t be so flippant. Watching a once-mighty beast in its death throes is never a pretty sight.

I’ll tell you what’s a lot uglier, though: the way that polar bear’s death has been completely misrepresented for political ends by the usual suspects in the climate alarmism lobby.

And I’ll tell you what’s uglier even than that: all the old people – not bears but actual humans – who’ve died equally miserable deaths in fuel poverty brought about by precisely the kind of environmentalist propagandizing we’ve seen in the cynical, manipulative promotion of this video.

The dying bear video was shot by wildlife photographer Paul Nicklen for an eco-activist organization called SeaLegacy.

Here is how SeaLegacy is exploiting its ursine tragedy porn.

Though it wasn’t possible for scientists to tell us exactly what was causing this bear to starve to death, we do know that he didn’t have any visible wounds and that he was not an old bear.

 What we do know for certain is that an increasing number of polar bears, and other polar species, are likely to die in this way as a result of our warming climate. As global temperatures rise, the amount of multi-year sea ice in the Arctic shrinks. Polar bears depend on that ice to travel large distances and to hunt for their food. Without sea ice this will become a common scene across the Arctic.

Let me translate: “We’ve no evidence whatsoever that this bear’s death had anything to do with climate change. But we’re still going to offer a few very heavy hints that that’s exactly what killed the bear. Then we can rely on a gullible media hungry for man-is-evil, global-warming-is-bad-m’kay, think-of-the-children sob stories to do all our dirty work for us…”

 

 

 

 

source/read more : http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/12/11/delingpole-ugly-truth-dying-polar-bear/

When emoji are the weapon of choice

6th Dec 2017

IT MAY seem vague and harmless but a growing number of people have been thrown in jail for their use of the emoji language.

In a recent workplace survey, more than half of the employees polled said they have used an emoji to communicate at work. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of using them in office communications.

NEARLY everyone is familiar with emoji, those popular icons that appear in text messages, emails and social media platforms. Emoji are often used as lighthearted adjuncts to text, or to soften the blow of a message.

Emoji can be viewed as overly simplistic in some contexts. For example, government officials were questioned when Foreign Minister Julie Bishop conducted an interview using just emoji, and described Russian President Vladmir Putin using an angry face.

A 2017 study found that use of emoji in work emails reduced perceptions of competence.

But emoji can be taken very seriously in the context of the law. The use of emoji has challenged lawyers, judges, and lawmakers in several countries. In a legal context, emoji are increasingly recognised not as joke or ornament, but as a legitimate form of literacy.

Making a criminal threat via emoji

Perhaps the most troubling use of emoji has come through their use in interpersonal messages where it is unclear whether they modify or amplify a prima facie criminal threat.

In New Zealand, a judge considered the role of emoji in a Facebook message sent by a man to his ex-partner. The man wrote, “you’re going to get it” followed by an aeroplane emoji.

Concluding that the message and emoji generally conveyed that the defendant was “coming to get” his ex-partner, the judge sentenced the accused to 8 months jail on a charge of stalking.

In 2016, a court in France convicted a young man of threatening his ex-girlfriend through a text message sent by mobile phone. The court found that the inclusion of a gun emoji meant that the message amounted to a “death threat in the form of an image”. The court sentenced the defendant to six months’ imprisonment and imposed a €1,000 fine.
In Virginia in 2015 a high school student was charged with computer harassment and threatening school staff because of using weapon emoji in an Instagram post.

In Virginia in 2015 a high school student was charged with computer harassment and threatening school staff because of using weapon emoji in an Instagram post.Source:Supplied

The issue has also arisen in several cases in the US. In Virginia in 2015 a high school student was charged with computer harassment and threatening school staff. She had posted several messages to her Instagram account, combining text with emoji (a gun, a knife and a bomb).

The student claimed that she had never intended to make a threat and that the posts had been a joke.

In the same year, a 17-year-old in New York was charged with making a terrorist threat on his Facebook page after posting a policeman emoji, and three guns pointing towards it.

The prosecutor alleged that the message constituted a clear threat to police due to several factors:

• identification of a class of victim (police)

• repeated use of the gun emoji

• placement of the emoji weapons close to the emoji of the officer’s head

• the fact that other violent messages had been posted by the student earlier the same evening.

However, a grand jury failed to indict the defendant, at least in part due to concerns about whether the post really demonstrated criminal intent.

Liability in other threat cases has been more readily established. A high school student was convicted of making a criminal threat after she sent a series of tweets including a variety of emoji weapons.

Her claim that the tweets were meant to be a joke was unsuccessful.

Perhaps the high point of emoji liability occurred in a case in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. The defendants, who had previously physically attacked the victim, sent him a message comprising only emoji: a fist, followed by a pointed finger, followed by an ambulance.
The message seemed pretty clear…

 

 

source/read more: http://www.news.com.au/technology/online/social/how-the-law-responds-when-emoji-are-the-weapon-of-choice/news-story/04d9362f6bd5c27c61d6b5e1ab432798

Twitter crackdown sparks free speech concerns

Twitter’s verification program put the company at the center of another political headache this week, with the social media giant stuck between liberals who demand stricter rules about hate speech and misinformation and conservatives who fear the site will target them for their political views.

Twitter’s “blue checkmark” verification program is meant to authenticate the identities of high-profile users. But it’s also come to be seen as an endorsement or mark of approval from Twitter, sparking outrage when the checkmarks were bestowed on white nationalists like Richard Spencer or Charlottesville, Va. “Unite the Right” organizer Jason Kessler.

The social media site responded to the criticism Wednesday by taking checkmarks away from several users affiliated with the far right or white nationalism, as well as kicking one prominent Charlottesville marcher off the platform permanently.

Further changes are expected next week, when Twitter says it will implement more rules. Twitter declined to comment on the changes.

While liberals cheered the crackdown, conservatives worried that they’ll be punished next. Describing the crackdown, a Breitbart headline declared that “conservative figures” had been “purged.”

 

 

source/read more:http://thehill.com/policy/technology/360806-twitter-crackdown-sparks-free-speech-concerns

Once taboo, socialism finds comrades among US millennials

11th Nov 2017

While working as an electrician Lee Carter received a literal shock, through one hand and across the chest, that jolted him into politics and turned him on to what was a dirty word in America for nearly a century: socialism.

His struggle to obtain compensation for the workplace injury inspired him to run for office, and this week Carter ousted a top Republican incumbent to nab a spot in Virginia’s House of Delegates, becoming one of over a dozen unabashed socialists newly elected to US state and municipal seats one year after Donald Trump took the White House.

The 31-year-old former Marine is part of a growing cadre of Americans, particularly millennials, pledging their allegiance to the Democratic Socialists of America, the nation’s fastest growing leftist group that was originally founded in 1982 as a foothold for Marxists.

Riding the wave of democratic socialist Bernie Sanders’s spirited White House bid against primary rival Hillary Clinton, the organization is helping propel socialism out of the shadows.

In the years prior to the Sanders campaign, the DSA’s number of card-carrying members hovered around 6,500 — and has nearly quintupled since 2016’s presidential race to more than 30,000.

Its median age has dropped from about 60 to 35, according to organizers, some of whom have playfully referred to the surge among youth as a “socialist baby boom.”

Dismayed by Trump’s rise to power Jacquelyn Smith in January joined the DSA, which has chapters in nearly every US state. And at just 22 years old, she managed Carter’s victorious campaign.

Organizing as a DSA member means “I am challenging the root of the problem and not the symptoms,” she told AFP, speaking at a recent convention of the organization’s local Washington branch.

“I focus a lot less on challenging Trump and a lot more on challenging why he got there in the first place,” she said, citing forces including economic inequality and white supremacist movements.

Today Smith said millennials — a generation that grew up during the 2008 financial crisis — are eager for socialism, to “embrace the ideology and really fight with it publicly.”

Under her management DSA members spent months canvassing for Carter in Virginia’s 50th district, about an hour’s drive west of the nation’s capital, knocking on more than 9,000 doors in the final four days.

Those grassroots efforts helped propel Carter, who ran as a socialist on the Democratic party

Despite their current momentum far-left groups like the DSA remain on the fringes of American politics, working within a two-party system that leaves little space for outsiders.

The political group is not a party, and has nowhere near the clout of sister movements elsewhere such as Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party in Britain, or Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain.

But socialism has not had a voice this loud in American politics for decades.

Though she would not yet classify the wave of leftist activism as a mass movement, politics professor Cathy Schneider of American University said the DSA’s growth is significant in that it indicates voters shocked by Trumpism are also increasingly disillusioned with the Democratic Party.

“There is a sector of American society who feel that the political parties do not address their concerns,” she said. “The Democratic Socialists have said we have an answer for that.”

Their current strategy does not necessarily include third-party politics; instead the DSA is fielding socialist candidates for elected office using whichever ballot line makes winning likely, generally that of the Democrats.

And though many members got involved in the aftermath of the Sanders campaign, organizers now say their goal is to build a movement not connected to any single politician but instead based on core issues like universal health care, public investment in education and housing and bolstering labor protections.

Schneider also noted that socialism’s “alarming reputation” appears to be fading, no small development in a country that lived through the Red Scare era of anti-communist propaganda.

“People no longer associate socialism with dictatorships in the USSR and China,” she said.

 

 

 

 

source:https://www.yahoo.com/news/once-taboo-socialism-finds-comrades-among-us-millennials-051949477.html

The rise and fall of the Podestas, Washington’s powerful political brother act

For more than 30 years, the Podesta name was gold in Washington.

Tony Podesta was a respected lobbyist and a fundraiser for Democratic candidates. His younger brother, John, served as Bill Clinton’s White House chief of staff and as senior counselor to Barack Obama. Together, they were the most powerful brother act in liberal politics since the Kennedys.

Then John became chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, putting the Podestas in the crosshairs of the alt-right. In the middle of the campaign, John’s hacked emails led to “Pizzagate,” a bizarre conspiracy theory about a child sex ring. Finally, and against all expectations, he lost the bitterly fought election.

Now Tony’s work for a Ukrainian nonprofit group is part of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, prompting the powerful lobbyist to resign from the Podesta Group, the firm he founded three decades ago.

“I didn’t leave with a sense of tragedy or regret about anything I had done,” Tony said nonchalantly in an interview last week. “I thought it was better for the clients and better for the people in the office for me to get out of there.”

His bravado notwithstanding, it’s been a really bad year for the Podesta brothers, even by the standards of political hand-to-hand combat.

They’ve become a particular fixation for President Trump, who has repeatedly attacked the two in tweets and interviews. On the eve of his current trip to Asia, he told reporters he was “disappointed” that the Justice Department was not investigating Hillary Clinton and her advisers instead of him: “Honestly they should be looking at the Democrats, they should be looking at Podesta and all of that dishonesty.”

Meanwhile, Fox News is calling the Podesta brothers “central figures” in the Mueller probe.

One might expect Tony Podesta to be angry — and apprehensive — about all this, and maybe he is. But at the moment, he’s smiling and cracking jokes.

“There was a period when I was at People for the American Way in which I was the devil, and this is another period in which I am the devil,” he says. “I don’t retreat from my values or my life because Tucker Carlson makes s— up.”

And he’s laughing off the president.

“If you tweet ‘Podesta’ you get some applause from people who don’t know who we are or what we do,” he says. “He has his phone. And I have my integrity.”

Tony Podesta, now 74, worked outside politics as a lobbyist and fundraiser. (Tony Powell)

John, now 68, made his name on the inside, working for the Clinton and Obama administrations. (Kristoffer Tripplaar/For The Washington Post)

For all the talk about the Podestas being Washington insiders — and they absolutely are — the irony is that they grew up as far from elite as possible.

They were born in working-class Chicago to two first-generation Americans: their father Italian, their mother Greek, the family living in a “two flat,” with their aunt, uncle and cousins in the apartment upstairs. Their father worked factory jobs and lost sleep worrying about the $11,000 he borrowed to buy the apartment, Tony says. Tony attended the University of Illinois at Chicago; John went to Knox College.

From this background, colored by the Vietnam War and the political upheavals of the 1960s and ’70s, emerged two men with a shared passion for liberal issues and a weakness for losing candidates: They worked for Gene McCarthy, Edmund Muskie, George McGovern and many more. “We weren’t doing it to go to the White House,” Tony says. “We were doing it because we believed in what we were doing.”

The two made their way to Washington, where they both attended law school at Georgetown University, worked briefly in government, then founded the Podesta Group in 1987. Their paths quickly diverged: Tony working outside politics, lobbying, fundraising and serving as president of People for the American Way, the progressive advocacy group founded by TV producer Norman Lear; John on the inside, in the Clinton and Obama administrations and as head of the Center for American Progress, the premier liberal think tank during the George W. Bush years.

The two brothers, who are very close, became powerbrokers on a first-name basis with every important figure in American progressive politics, and many across the aisle. Every call they made was answered, every door they knocked on opened.

Tony, 74, is expansive, expressive, a happy warrior. “He’s partisan in the traditional way, which is rapidly disappearing in Washington,” says longtime Republican lobbyist Wayne Berman. “He understands the value of having friends on the other side. It’s a happy partisanship, not a bitter partisanship.”

He wears red Prada loafers and owns one of the capital’s most impressive modern art collections, which serves as the backdrop for the frequent parties he hosts at his Kalorama mansion. The collection began when he worked for the failed 1980 presidential bid of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and walked away with a tube of donated art — limited editions of Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg — in lieu of a salary.

Always well-known in political circles, Tony became a celebrity with his high-profile second marriage to lobbyist Heather Podesta. The two were a striking couple on Washington’s sometimes traditional social scene, frequently photographed in front of one of their paintings or sculptures. The marriage ended after 11 years with no children but a custody battle over the art…

 

Source/Read more:https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-rise-and-fall-of-the-podestas-washingtons-powerful-political-brother-act/2017/11/10/04bf1f6e-c4a6-11e7-afe9-4f60b5a6c4a0_story.html

Number of Asylum Seekers Doubles in Two Years, As Germany Admits it has Lost Track of 30,000 Illegals

3rd Nov 2017
The number of asylum seekers and refugees in Germany has more than doubled in two years according to the latest figures from the Federal Statistics Office, but the nation is struggling to keep track of all the new arrivals.

At the end of 2016 the number of people seeking asylum had hit 1.6 million, a rise of 113 per cent compared to the end of 2014. The figure is likely to have risen even further since.

German newspaper Handelsblatt reports the breakdown of the 1.6 million figure, with 872,000 holding a “humanitarian residence permit”, and 158,000 in the country despite having had their asylum applications rejected. Of those, 75 per cent were given a “tolerance” — suspending the requirement for them to leave the country.

In addition to those who had decisions made on their asylum status, there were another 573,000 whose applications for asylum hadn’t been ruled upon at all.

Yet the 1.6 million figure could be even higher as the agency had excluded some 392,000 individuals for whom it was not clear whether they were asylum seekers or not.

More Asylum Requests in Germany than Rest of EU Combined, Bundestag VP Says Germany’s Migrant Crisis Is ‘Not Over’ https://t.co/21Ojywue9u pic.twitter.com/nduOSCnzUp

— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 3, 2017

Of those arrivals who came in 2016, nearly two-thirds are men, while the largest foreign groups came from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

 

source/read more: http://www.breitbart.com/london/2017/11/02/number-asylum-seekers-doubles-two-years-german-government-admits-lost-track-30000/

NYC Foreign Terror Suspect Entered U.S. with ‘Diversity Visa’ Trump Wants to End

1st Nov 2017

The suspected foreign national terrorist behind the New York City attack that has left at least eight individuals dead came to the United States years ago through the Diversity Visa Lottery, a program that President Trump and pro-American immigration reformers have demanded an end to.

According to ABC New York, 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov — the man who allegedly mowed down pedestrians in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City — entered the U.S. in 2010 from Uzbekistan under the Diversity Visa Lottery before obtaining a Green Card.

The Diversity Visa Lottery gives out 50,000 visas every year to foreign nationals from a multitude of countries, including those with known terrorist problems – such as Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Yemen, and Uzbekistan.

Trump, though, along with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), has been calling for an end to the Diversity Visa Lottery program since August. Under the RAISE Act, introduced in February and endorsed by Trump in August, the Diversity Visa Lottery would be eliminated altogether.

The Trump administration took eliminating the Diversity Visa Lottery even more seriously earlier this month when they introduced the president’s immigration priorities, which like the RAISE Act called for the elimination of the program.

In an interview with Breitbart News, Cotton said the Diversity Visa Lottery does not serve the national interest, as it arbitrarily rewards random foreign nationals with visas to come to the U.S.

“The diversity lottery serves no discernible humanitarian or economic interest,” Cotton explained to Breitbart News. “It is a policy that has far outlived its usefulness and it really doesn’t even serve diversity since Europe is one of the primary uses of it. Even in past efforts at amnesty-first comprehensive immigration reform like we saw in 2013 and 2007, most people agree we should eliminate the diversity lottery. I think it’s a policy that has far outlived its usefulness if it ever had any utility and it’s time to eliminate the diversity lottery.”

In 2011, just a year after the New York City foreign terror suspect, Saipov, entered the U.S. from Uzbekistan through the Diversity Visa Lottery, Center for Immigration Studies National Security Policy Director Janice Kephart testified before Congress about the security risks associated with the visa program.

“The Diversity Visa Program is an unfortunate blind spot in our immigration system that has outlived whatever purpose it might have had,” Kephart explained in her testimony in 2011. “The applicants for these 50,000 ‘visa lottery’ immigration slots require few skills. Neither their qualifications nor identity can be properly vetted. The program does not know, really, who these applicants are or their true purpose in coming to the United States. The program is a national security vulnerability and has been used by terrorists and organized criminals to not only enter the United States but to bring others in as well.”

“According to unofficial statements from the State Department, the program is rife with fraud in part because application standards are so low,” Kephart continued. “The program claims to have strict eligibility requirements, but only calls for a high school education or its equivalent or two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience.”

 

 

source/read more: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/10/31/report-nyc-foreign-terror-suspect-entered-u-s-with-diversity-visa-trump-wants-to-end/