May 062021
 


William Adolphe Bouguereau Girl with a pomegranate 1875

 

 

 

Let’s not beat around the bush any longer, but call things for what they are: we are in the middle of the grandest medical and genetic experiment in the history of mankind, by a mile and a half. The experiment is already so advanced that we can only wait and see its consequences. We don’t know what these will be, and that is exactly the problem with it: we normally run elaborate tests in advance of such experiments to minimize their potential negative effects and their adverse outcomes for our species. This time around, we did not.

There are well-established procedures to test novel substances before they are used in human experiments, which take years – for good reason. We have decided to almost entirely neglect these procedures in the case of Covid “vaccines”, in the same way that we have neglected to look for alternative ways to defend ourselves from the virus. And these two things are closely connected: in case ivermectin or Budesonide or even just vitamin D had shown efficacy in Covid trials, the vaccines could not have received emergency authorization.

Moreover, you will now be punished – in access to travel, work, other activities- for NOT having received a dose of never approved chemicals. The world is upside down, but after months upon months of lockdowns, people think upside down is just how they like it. Anything is better than being locked up/down. Stockholm syndrome writ large.

And now, as we survey the landscape, we see that the proponents of the experiments are already dreaming of much bigger adventures -and profits-. The emergency authorization was all they needed, a full approval was not necessary. Some people behind the companies behind mRNA techniques, such as Moderna and Pfizer, may tell themselves that they are doing mankind a big favor, but they would be the first to know that the well-established procedures are there for good reasons. But yeah, they threaten their short-term profits, we get that.

 

In 1947, a world disgusted by Joseph Mengele’s medical experiments on German prisoners said: never again. Yes, sounds familiar. The Nuremberg Code was drafted:

 

The ten points of the code were given in the section of the judges’ verdict entitled “Permissible Medical Experiments”:

  1. The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.
  2. The experiment should be such as to yield fruitful results for the good of society, unprocurable by other methods or means of study, and not random and unnecessary in nature.
  3. The experiment should be so designed and based on the results of animal experimentation and a knowledge of the natural history of the disease or other problem under study that the anticipated results will justify the performance of the experiment.
  4. The experiment should be so conducted as to avoid all unnecessary physical and mental suffering and injury.
  5. No experiment should be conducted where there is an a priori reason to believe that death or disabling injury will occur; except, perhaps, in those experiments where the experimental physicians also serve as subjects.
  6. The degree of risk to be taken should never exceed that determined by the humanitarian importance of the problem to be solved by the experiment.
  7. Proper preparations should be made and adequate facilities provided to protect the experimental subject against even remote possibilities of injury, disability, or death.
  8. The experiment should be conducted only by scientifically qualified persons. The highest degree of skill and care should be required through all stages of the experiment of those who conduct or engage in the experiment.
  9. During the course of the experiment the human subject should be at liberty to bring the experiment to an end if he has reached the physical or mental state where continuation of the experiment seems to him to be impossible.
  10. During the course of the experiment the scientist in charge must be prepared to terminate the experiment at any stage, if he has probable cause to believe, in the exercise of the good faith, superior skill and careful judgment required of him that a continuation of the experiment is likely to result in injury, disability, or death to the experimental subject.

 

I’ll leave it up to you to decide to which extent the mRNA -and other unapproved vaccines- experiment abides by that code. Which in 1964 was further extended and formalized in the Helsinki Declaration. Meanwhile, there are tons of stories like these:

 

There are so many tragic stories now of loved ones dying after taking an experimental COVID injection, that one has to wonder if people are now starting to become desensitized by all these stories as the public is perhaps being conditioned to accept “death by lethal injection” as part of the “new normal?” A 50-year-old woman in Canada, a 61-year-old woman in Orange, California, and a 58-year-old man in Minnesota are three more casualties following COVID-19 injections.

[..] Lisa Basiuk-Stonehouse passed away May 3, 2021 after her AstraZeneca vaccine. According to her Aunt Shari, blood clots caused a stroke and the matter is still being investigated. Lisa’s husband Morrie passed away two years ago, according to the Facebook post by Lisa’s Aunt Shari Turner. Lisa and Morrie’s daughter Jordan, is now 19 years old. A gofundme account has been created, and as of May 3, 2021 the fundraiser had generated 19k of the 25k goal. It appears Lisa and her family are very loved.

[..] HIBBING, MINNESOTA — A 57-year-old trucker and avid fisherman is dead in one of the more heartbreaking stories we’ve covered on this blog. Mr. John Medved received the experimental Johnson & Johnson viral vector shot on April 1, according to his daughter, Mrs. Rachel Weise. Twelve days later, Mr. Medved was in the emergency room due to extreme shortness of breath. Doctors diagnosed him with a pulmonary embolism, aka blood clots in his lungs. He was placed on a ventilator and in a medically-induced coma the next day as his condition rapidly deteriorated. Doctors then discovered that Mr. Medved had a stroke that damaged the entire left side of his brain. The doctor told Rachel that it was the worst stroke he’d seen in his career.

[..] The Orange County Coroner’s office is investigating the death of a woman who died just days after she received her second dose of the Moderna vaccine. The family says the grandmother was healthy before she got her shot, and that her sudden death came as a shock. A conversation with staff at the Orange County Coroner’s office about Griselda Flores’ death, raised red flags for her son Richard Cardenas and the family. “They made it seem like this was not the first call that they had,” Cardenas said. Assistant Chief Deputy Coroner Brad Olsen says that’s right. Olsen told Eyewitness News a handful of deaths, including Flores’, are under investigation because they happened one to three days after the person got a COVID-19 vaccine dose.

But yeah, the fact that those well-established procedures were ignored completely for the Covid vaccines, leads scientists and drug makers to believe they have a lot more leeway now for the next series of experiments. Some of which are truly unsettling, to me at least. Experimenting on human embryo cells which were never meant to come to full growth is right up there with Mengele in my mind:

 

CRISPR Madness: Welcome to the Age of Genetic Chaos

Body cell, or “somatic,” modification is in line with traditional medical practice, where a sick person undergoes a procedure or takes a drug that may be the best means for saving their life or sparing them a life of misery. It might or might not be successful but is a risk a patient or those responsible for them can reasonably assume. In embryo modification, in contrast, the tissues of the body are pervasively altered as it is taking form in ways that are poorly understood.

Even so-called single-gene traits are established with the participation of dozens or hundreds of other genes often acting in compensatory fashions, leading to the situation that in some individuals a double dose of the most threatening cystic fibrosis or sickle cell gene variants leads to no adverse symptoms at all. Under such circumstances, a single gene change, no matter how accurately administered, is an uncontrolled experiment on a prospective person that may do more harm than good. While errors can be propagated to future generations (leading to the misleading claim that the hazard is primarily through the reproductive cells or “germ line”), damage would also be incurred by the initial experimentally produced person.

All the books under review, from the frankly promotional ones of Isaacson, Kevin Davies and Jamie Metzl, to the more balanced one of Françoise Baylis, accept the baseless premise propounded by many CRISPR researchers that gene modification of embryos can be done safely, as does the reviewer herself. “[I]n ten years or so, we will probably meet the minimum conditions of safety and predictability for editing out single-gene diseases,” de Souza writes, and there is no indication that any of the authors disagrees.

Baylis, the book author most critical of the technology, is similarly concerned with ensuring that the fruits of this powerful, perfectable technology will be distributed equitably, and that enough disparate voices participate in deciding whether the endeavor (i.e., making experimental changes in prospective children; irreversibly changing the human gene pool; bringing human production into the commodity system) is what “we” really want.

 

And wouldn’t you know, as Whitney Webb describes, there a major convergence in this field, with the US government involved, and the Pentagon, Silicon Valley, Big Tech and Big Pharma (and of course the media). All for the benefit of mankind, wouldn’t you know. The mRNA technology, for which Moderna could never get any approval prior to the Covid era, now looks set to be used in many other fields. Cancer and terrorism and preventing crime and reading minds, it’s all here:

 

This Biden Proposal Could Make the US a “Digital Dictatorship”

Last Wednesday, President Biden was widely praised in mainstream and health-care–focused media for his call to create a “new biomedical research agency” modeled after the US military’s “high-risk, high-reward” Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. As touted by the president, the agency would seek to develop “innovative” and “breakthrough” treatments for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes, with a call to “end cancer as we know it.” Far from “ending cancer” in the way most Americans might envision it, the proposed agency would merge “national security” with “health security” in such as way as to use both physical and mental health “warning signs” to prevent outbreaks of disease or violence before they occur.

[..] ARPA-H will likely heavily fund and promote mRNA vaccines as one of the “breakthroughs” that will cure cancer. Some of the mRNA vaccine manufacturers that have produced some of the most widely used COVID-19 vaccines, such as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, stated just last month that “cancer is the next problem to tackle with mRNA tech” post-COVID. BioNTech has been developing mRNA gene therapies for cancer for years and is collaborating with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create mRNA-based treatments for tuberculosis and HIV.

[..] the flagship program of HARPA would be SAFE HOME, short for Stopping Aberrant Fatal Events by Helping Overcome Mental Extremes. SAFE HOME would suck up masses of private data from “Apple Watches, Fitbits, Amazon Echo, and Google Home” and other consumer electronic devices, as well as information from health-care providers to determine if an individual might be likely to commit a crime. The data would be analyzed by artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms “for early diagnosis of neuropsychiatric violence.”

The Department of Justice’s pre-crime approach known as DEEP was activated just months before Trump left office; it was also justified as a way to “stop mass shootings before they happen.” Soon after Biden’s inauguration, the new administration began using information from social media to make pre-crime arrests as part of its approach toward combatting “domestic terror.” Given the history of Silicon Valley companies collaborating with the government on matters of warrantless surveillance, it appears that aspects of SAFE HOME may already be covertly active under Biden, only waiting for the formalization of ARPA-H/HARPA to be legitimized as public policy.

[..] While nominally focused on “bioterrorist attacks,” TIA’s Bio-Surveillance project also sought to acquire early detection capabilities for “normal” disease outbreaks. Bio-Surveillance and related DARPA projects at the time, such as LifeLog, sought to harvest data through the mass use of some sort of wearable or handheld technology. These DARPA programs were ultimately shut down due to the controversy over claims they would be used to profile domestic dissidents and eliminate privacy for all Americans in the US.

[..] This most recent effort to create ARPA-H/HARPA combines well with the coordinated push of Silicon Valley companies into the field of health care, specifically Silicon Valley companies that double as contractors to US intelligence and/or the military (e.g., Microsoft, Google, and Amazon). During the COVID-19 crisis, this trend toward Silicon Valley dominance of the health-care sector has accelerated considerably due to a top-down push toward digitalization with telemedicine, remote monitoring, and the like.

One interesting example is Amazon, which launched a wearable last year that purports to not only use biometrics to monitor people’s physical health and fitness but to track their emotional state as well. The previous year, Amazon acquired the online pharmacy PillPack, and it is not hard to imagine a scenario in which data from Amazon’s Halo wellness band is used to offer treatment recommendations that are then supplied by Amazon-owned PillPack.

[..] The military is currently being used to pilot COVID-19–related biometric wearables for “returning to work safely.” Last December, it was announced that Hill Air Force Base in Utah would make biometric wearables a mandatory part of the uniform for some squadrons. [..] While of interest to the military, these wearables are primarily intended for mass use—a big step toward the infrastructure needed for the resurrection of a bio-surveillance program to be run by the national-security state.

We continue to forget the lessons of the past. We worship “science” now. Decades of diligence and actual science, which were carefully crafted by our parents and grandparents, have been swept under the carpet under the guise of emergency in matter of months, and “science” takes that to mean all limits are off. Yes, governments and armies etc. would love to experiment on you and I, and tell us it’s for our own best sake. If we just wear a ring or a watch or an app, we will all benefit from centralized medical systems checking our symptoms 1000 times a second and beaming it all into some database, what could be better for us?

And maybe this is indeed inevitable, but it also contradicts a lot of what we, until now, consider to be freedom and liberty, of our decisions about our own existence, without anyone else interfering. And then on top of that they will try to force you into getting another mRNA jab, and then another, until you have very obviously no longer the genetic make-up that you were born with.

We are born into this world as healthy people, and we use our healthcare systems to correct in the still rare instances that we are not. But we will lose that presumption if and when we will be monitored 24/7 from the day we are born. Even while we are as healthy as our ancestors were when they were born. Do we benefit from this? Well, not as long as we remain healthy. Then it’s just more centralized crap.

You might say that we benefit when we get old or sick, sure, but then we must ask ourselves if we want some entity checking on us all the time while we’re just living a life like our parents did. You think that idea, of just living your life, independent from centralized powers, will disappear? I guess it’s possible, but it scares the heebees out of me.

And then you get back to asking what the logic is behind injecting perfectly healthy people, children even for g-d’s sake, with an untested chemical substance. Shouldn’t we leave healthy people alone? Oh, but they can’t prove they’re healthy… That’s the world upside down. And that’s what the mRNA manufacturers count on us to believe. That no-one is a normal healthy human being anymore until and unless they have been injected with an experimental substance. Governments, the Pentagon, Silicon Valley, Big Tech and Big Pharma want nothing more than for you to think that. Because then they got you for life. YOUR life.

 

 

 

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Jan 192018
 


Vincent van Gogh Red Vineyards at Arles 1888

 

The Most Sustainable Stock Market Bubble Ever (MW)
Global Debt Growing Three Times Faster than Global Wealth (Schiff)
US House Passes Stopgap Funding Bill and Sends It to Senate (BBG)
Conservatives Bring Russia Probe Demand to Shutdown Talks (BBG)
FISA Memo Set To Rock DC, “End Mueller Investigation” (ZH)
Hackers Have Walked Off With About 14% of Big Digital Currencies (BBG)
Blockchain Eyed for Mortgage Bundling That Caused 2008 Crisis (BBG)
SEC Says Bitcoin Funds Raise ‘Investor Protection Issues’ (R.)
Oliver Stone’s “Ukraine On Fire” Documentary Released In The West (Quinn)
Blood Test Could Use DNA To Spot Early-Stage Cancers (G.)
Adolescence Now Lasts From 10 to 24 (BBC)
Varoufakis Reveals Outburst Against ‘Stupid’ Tsipras (GR)
Greece Compliance Report Due Friday Ahead of Monday’s Eurogroup (R.)
UK and France Must Stop ‘Systematic Violation’ Of Calais Refugees (Ind.)
HRW Blames Greek Authorities For Abysmal Conditions At Hotspots (K.)

 

 

We’re having to find new semantics. Once sustainable bubbles become acceptable, anything goes…

The Most Sustainable Stock Market Bubble Ever (MW)

Is this the most sustainable stock market bubble ever? It’s rare to find the words “sustainable” and “bubble” in the same sentence, but the stock market rally from November 2016 until now has been relentless enough to at least discuss the notion of a “sustainable bubble.” In February 2016, the S&P 500 recorded three consecutive daily gains of more than 1.5%. The Profit Radar Report highlighted that this happened only eight other times. A year later, the S&P 500 was up 19.16%. The February 2016 kickoff rally continued to build momentum. One way to quantify momentum was shown in the Nov. 19, 2017, Profit Radar Report: “The S&P 500 was higher 8 of the first 9 months of 2017. This has only happened 8 other times (1936, 1950, 1954, 1958, 1964, 1995, 1996, 2006). 2, 3, 6, and 12 months later, the S&P was higher every time but one (0.7% loss 2 month later in 1964).

Such strong momentum readings (and they are seen across all time frames) are extremely rare. As mentioned in December 2016 and March 2017, stocks rarely top out at peak momentum. We have to go back to 1995/1996 to find similarly strong and persistent upside momentum. The stock market infrequently finds the delicate and potent balance between being hot, but not too hot. Tempered relentlessness best describes this market. How relentless? The S&P 500 has not closed more than 1.5% below its all-time high since Aug. 21, 2017. The only other time the S&P 500 has been similarly glued to its all-time high was in 1965. The S&P 500 has not dropped more than 5% below its all-time high since June 27, 2016, and has been above its 200-day simple moving average (SMA) since June 28, 2016.

How tempered? The S&P 500 has traded above its 200-day SMA for 391 days, but, until Jan. 5, also never traded more than 10% above its 200-day SMA. This “sweet spot” range is illustrated by the chart below. For the first time ever, the S&P 500 broke such a “controlled range-bound rally” streak (there’ve been two similar rallies in the 1960s and 1990s) by surging higher instead of falling lower.

Read more …

Once debt is subtracted, there’s very little wealth growth left. It’s a mirage.

Global Debt Growing Three Times Faster than Global Wealth (Schiff)

Global wealth increased to a new record of $280 trillion in 2017, according to Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2017. That seems like pretty good news until you consider global debt is increasing nearly three times as fast. According to the Wealth Report, total global wealth rose at a rate of 6.4%, the fastest pace since 2012 and reached $280 trillion, a gain of $16.7 trillion. This reflected widespread gains in equity markets matched by similar rises in non-financial assets, which moved above the pre-crisis year 2007’s level for the first time this year. Wealth growth also outpaced population growth, so that global mean wealth per adult grew by 4.9% and reached a new record high of $56,540 per adult.”

Increasing global wealth is one of the trends the World Gold Council identifies as a positive for the gold market in the next year. That’s all well and good. But we have to also look at the other side of the equation. The Institute of International Finance recently released its latest global debt analysis. It reported that global debt rose to a record $233 trillion at the end of Q3 2017. That is split up between $63 trillion in government debt, $58 trillion in financial sector corporate debt, $68 trillion in non-financial sector corporate debt, and $44 trillion in household indebtedness. In just nine months, there was an increase of $16 trillion in worldwide debt.

You really can’t talk about wealth without talking about debt. SRSrocco took a look at both factors in the equation. Even if global wealth surged in 2017, so did world debt. According to the data, global wealth increased by $16.7 trillion in 2017 while global debt expanded $16 trillion… nearly one to one. However, this is only part of the story. If we look at the increase in total world debt and total global wealth over the past 20 years, we can see a troubling sign, indeed: Since 1997, total global debt increased from $50 trillion to $233 trillion compared to the rise in global wealth from $120 trillion to $280 trillion. When you do the math, you find global debt has increased 366% vs. 133% increase in global wealth since 1997. That means net wealth was $70 trillion in 1997 versus $47 trillion in 2017.

Read more …

Shaky. A government shutdown could well be imminent.

US House Passes Stopgap Funding Bill and Sends It to Senate (BBG)

The House passed a spending bill Thursday to avoid a U.S. government shutdown, but Senate Democrats say they have the votes to block the measure in a bid to force Republicans and President Donald Trump to include protection for young immigrants. The 230-197 vote came just over a day before current funding is set to run out at midnight Friday. The bill would keep the government open through Feb. 16 while all sides negotiate on longer-term funding for defense and domestic programs. The Senate took an initial vote to advance the bill late Thursday, but was headed toward an additional procedural step requiring 60 votes, which Democrats say they will be able to block. The Senate adjourned until Friday morning without taking further action.

Shortly before the House vote, Trump wrote on Twitter: “House of Representatives needs to pass Government Funding Bill tonight. So important for our country – our Military needs it!” In a show of strength, House Republicans had enough support within their own ranks to pass the measure without help from Democrats. Some members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus withheld their support through much of the day Thursday, but reached a last-minute agreement with Speaker Paul Ryan to hold votes later on a conservative immigration bill and a measure to boost defense spending without increasing non-defense spending.

Still, Senate Democrats said they have the votes to block the measure in their chamber. At least 10 of the 18 Democrats who voted for a temporary funding measure in December have publicly announced their opposition, and a Democratic aide said there won’t be enough party members who support the House bill. Republicans would need at least a dozen Democratic votes to get the bill, H.R. 195, through the Senate after at least three of the 51 Republicans in the chamber said they would vote against it.

Read more …

The gloves are coming off.

Conservatives Bring Russia Probe Demand to Shutdown Talks (BBG)

House conservatives negotiating with GOP leaders over how to avert a government shutdown brought a fresh demand to the last-minute talks: release classified information they say raises questions about the origins of the FBI’s probe into President Donald Trump’s possible connections to Russia. A Republican lawmaker said they tried to pressure Speaker Paul Ryan to allow a vote on making public a document they say shows Justice Department and FBI misconduct and political bias in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign and whether anyone close to Trump colluded in it. The facts contained in the memo from Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee are “jaw-dropping and demand full transparency,” said Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican.

The top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff of California, criticized the move. He dismissed the committee document as “talking points” drafted by Republican staffers that he said were “profoundly misleading” and “rife” with inaccuracies. The odd juxtaposition of issues – tying the Russia inquiry to the debate over a stopgap spending bill – came as much of the government faced a threatened shutdown on Friday at midnight. Gaetz said the effort was led by Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows of North Carolina and caucus co-founder Jim Jordan of Ohio. Jordan confirmed that some conservatives had “highlighted” in continuing resolution talks that it was “extremely important” that the memo go public. He said it was not something they were requiring of the Republican leadership in return for votes.

“But it was something we definitely talked about – that needs to happen,” Jordan added. Meadows earlier referred to “subplots” of promises the Freedom Caucus was able to extract from the leadership before he agreed to support the continuing resolution. “Mr Meadows and Mr. Jordan and many conservatives want to include in this negotiation a requirement that the House make public intelligence documents that highlight the unfair treatment of the president” by the FBI and the Justice Department, Gaetz said. Gaetz said he couldn’t describe the contents of the entire memo put together by the House Intelligence Committee “because to do so would reveal classified information, in the absence of a vote to do so,” he said. “Just 218 votes and the American people can read this intelligence information that goes to the fundamentals of our democracy.”

Read more …

So let’s see it.

FISA Memo Set To Rock DC, “End Mueller Investigation” (ZH)

All hell is breaking loose in Washington D.C. tonight after a four-page memo detailing extensive FISA court abuse was made available to the entire House of Representatives Thursday. The contents of the memo are so explosive, says Journalist Sara Carter, that it could lead to the removal of senior officials in the FBI and the Department of Justice and the end of Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation. “These sources say the report is “explosive,” stating they would not be surprised if it leads to the end of Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation into President Trump and his associates.” -Sara Carter. A source close to the matter tells Fox News that “the memo details the Intelligence Committee’s oversight work for the FBI and Justice, including the controversy over unmasking and FISA surveillance.”

An educated guess by anyone who’s been paying attention for the last year leads to the obvious conclusion that the report reveals extensive abuse of power and highly illegal collusion between the Obama administration, the FBI, the DOJ and the Clinton Campaign against Donald Trump and his team during and after the 2016 presidential election. Lawmakers who have seen the memo are calling for its immediate release, while the phrases “explosive,” “shocking,” “troubling,” and “alarming” have all been used in all sincerity. One congressman even likened the report’s details to KGB activity in Russia. “It is so alarming the American people have to see this,” Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan told Fox News. “It’s troubling. It is shocking,” North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows said. “Part of me wishes that I didn’t read it because I don’t want to believe that those kinds of things could be happening in this country that I call home and love so much.”

“Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., offered the motion on Thursday to make the Republican majority-authored report available to the members. “The document shows a troubling course of conduct and we need to make the document available, so the public can see it,” said a senior government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the document. “Once the public sees it, we can hold the people involved accountable in a number of ways.” The government official said that after reading the document “some of these people should no longer be in the government.” -Sara Carter

Read more …

And there’s no guarantee this won’t continue.

Hackers Have Walked Off With About 14% of Big Digital Currencies (BBG)

Digital currencies and the software developed to track them have become attractive targets for cybercriminals while also creating a lucrative new market for computer-security firms. In less than a decade, hackers have stolen $1.2 billion worth of Bitcoin and rival currency Ether, according to Lex Sokolin at Autonomous Research. Given the currencies’ explosive surge at the end of 2017, the cost in today’s money is much higher. “It looks like crypto hacking is a $200 million annual revenue industry,” Sokolin said. Hackers have compromised more than 14% of the Bitcoin and Ether supply, he said. All told, hacks involving cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have cost companies and governments $11.3 billion through lost potential tax revenue from coin sales and illegitimate transactions, according to Susan Eustis, CEO of WinterGreen Research.

The blockchain ecosystem – the decentralized “distributed ledgers” that track crypto transactions – is also vulnerable. Those losses could snowball as more companies and investors rush into the white-hot cryptocurrency market without weighing the dangers or taking steps to protect themselves. Blockchain records are shared, making them hard to alter, so some users see them as super-secure. But in many ways they are no safer than any other software, Matt Suiche, who runs the blockchain security company Comae Technologies, said. And since the market is immature, blockchains may even be more vulnerable than other software. There are thousands of them, each with its own bugs. Until the field is winnowed to a few favorites, as happened with web browsers, securing them all will be a challenge. “Each implementation is going to have its own problems,” Suiche said. “The more implementations, the harder it is to cover all of them.”

[..] In a Dec. 25 paper, researchers at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers outlined ways hackers can spend the same Bitcoins twice, the very thing blockchains are meant to prevent. In a Balance Attack, for instance, hackers delay network communications between subgroups of miners, whose computers verify blockchain transactions, to allow for double spending. “We have no evidence that such attacks have already been performed on Bitcoin,” the IEEE researchers said. “However, we believe that some of the important characteristics of Bitcoin make these attacks practical and potentially highly disruptive.”

Read more …

Predictable. Securitizing hasn’t exactly benefitted Jill and John, has it?

Blockchain Eyed for Mortgage Bundling That Caused 2008 Crisis (BBG)

A group of big financial institutions wants to use the blockchain to help resurrect the packaging of home mortgages into securities, a business that almost destroyed the global banking system in 2008. Credit Suisse, U.S. Bancorp, Wells and Western Asset Management. said Thursday that they successfully tested the distributed ledger technology as a way to make it easier to track securitized home loans. Before the 2008 crisis, bundling home loans together and then selling those baskets to investors was a huge profit center for banks. But this was the primary cause of the meltdown after many borrowers couldn’t repay their debt and the value of the securitized loans crashed, causing trillions of dollars in losses.

The business then shrank dramatically. There were about $823 billion of securitized private-label residential mortgage bonds outstanding in early 2017, according to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, down from a peak of $2.7 trillion in 2007. “Structuring securities is complex, involving many different parties, manual processes, duplicated documents and data in different formats,” David Rutter, chief executive officer of blockchain startup R3, which is organizing the consortium, said in a statement Thursday. While the group is starting with residential mortgages that aren’t backed by the U.S. government, it plans to expand to other types of asset-backed securities. The next step is delivering a commercially viable product, R3 said.

Read more …

Any regulation will need to concern all crypto, not just bitcoin. Does the SEC have the knowledge to do that?

SEC Says Bitcoin Funds Raise ‘Investor Protection Issues’ (R.)

The U.S. securities regulator on Thursday raised alarm about the safety of bitcoin-themed investments, telling the fund industry they want answers to their concerns before endorsing more than a dozen proposed products based on cryptocurrencies. A top division chief at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission detailed the agency’s concerns about the wild-trading investment in a letter to two trade groups representing fund managers who unleashed a range of proposals for funds holding bitcoin or related assets. The SEC’s division of investment management demanded answers to at least 31 detailed questions about how mutual funds or exchange-traded funds based on bitcoin would store, safeguard, and price that asset. They also asked whether investors can understand the risks and how to address concerns that bitcoin markets could be manipulated.

“There are a number of significant investor protection issues that need to be examined before sponsors begin offering these funds to investors,” said the letter signed by Dalia Blass, the SEC’s director of investment management. Bitcoin’s 1,500% surge last year stoked investor demand for any product with exposure to the red-hot asset. A host of companies are jostling to launch exchange-traded funds which would open up the cryptocurrency to a broad retail market. The SEC in March denied a request to list an ETF from investors Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, owners of the Gemini bitcoin exchange. The Winklevoss fund is seeking to invest in bitcoin directly. Other fund firms staked their hopes on recently launched U.S.-listed bitcoin futures contracts, which promised a more stable base for ETFs than the largely unregulated virtual currency spot market. Many of those proposals were withdrawn last week at the request of the SEC.

Read more …

Haven’t watched it yet.

Oliver Stone’s “Ukraine On Fire” Documentary Released In The West (Quinn)

Oliver Stone’s seminal documentary Ukraine on Fire has finally been made available to watch in the West. Investigative journalist Robert Parry reveals how US-funded political NGOs and media companies have emerged since the 1980s, replacing the CIA in promoting America’s geopolitical agenda abroad. As Russia-Insider details, Ukraine on Fire provides a historical perspective for the deep divisions in the region which led to the 2004 Orange Revolution, the 2014 uprisings, and the violent overthrow of democratically-elected Yanukovych. Covered by Western media as a ‘popular revolution’, it was in fact a coup d’état scripted and staged by ultra-nationalist groups and the US State Department.

Executive producer Oliver Stone gained unprecedented access to the inside story through his on-camera interviews with former President Viktor Yanukovych and Minister of Internal Affairs Vitaliy Zakharchenko, who explain how the US Ambassador and factions in Washington actively plotted for regime change. And, in his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Stone solicits Putin’s take on the significance of Crimea, NATO and the US’s history of interference in elections and regime change in the region. The film was originally released in 2016, but unsurprisingly, Stone came up against problems distributing the film in the US and western countries. A Russian-dubbed version was available almost immediately and was aired on TV in Russia, but people in the ‘free world’ were left without access to the full film.

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Seems quite obvious. If you can train dogs to discover cancer early on, why not DNA?

Blood Test Could Use DNA To Spot Early-Stage Cancers (G.)

Scientists have made a major advance towards developing a blood test for cancer that could identify tumours long before a person becomes aware of symptoms. The new test, which is sensitive to both mutated DNA that floats freely in the blood and cancer-related proteins, gave a positive result approximately 70% of the time across eight of the most common cancers when tested in more than 1,000 patients. In the future, such a test could be used in routine screening programmes to significantly increase the proportion of patients who get treatment early, at a time before cancer would typically show up on conventional scans. “The use of a combination of selected biomarkers for early detection has the potential to change the way we screen for cancer, and it is based on the same rationale for using combinations of drugs to treat cancers,” said Nickolas Papadopoulos, professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins University and senior author on the paper.

The test could also identify the form of cancer that a patient had, a goal that previous cancer blood tests have failed to achieve. It works by detecting free-floating mutated DNA, released into the bloodstream by dying cancer cells. The test screened for the presence of errors in 16 genes that are frequently mutated in different kinds of cancer. The blood of patients was also tested for eight known protein biomarkers which are seen to differing degrees depending on where in the body a tumour is located. In blood samples from 1,005 patients, the test detected between 33% and 98% of cases of disease. Ovarian cancer was the easiest to detect, followed by liver, stomach, pancreas, oesophageal, colorectal, lung and breast cancers. For the five cancers that currently have no screening tests – ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreatic and oesophageal cancers – sensitivity ranged from 69% to 98%.

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They’re all still living with mom and dad anyway.

Adolescence Now Lasts From 10 to 24 (BBC)

Adolescence now lasts from the ages of 10 to 24, although it used to be thought to end at 19, scientists say. Young people continuing their education for longer, as well as delayed marriage and parenthood, has pushed back popular perceptions of when adulthood begins. And changing the definition is vital to ensure laws and government policy stay appropriate, they say in the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal. But another expert warns doing so risks “further infantilising young people”. Puberty is considered to start when the part of the brain known as the hypothalamus starts releasing a hormone that activates the body’s pituitary and gonadal glands. This used to happen around the age of 14 but has dropped with improved health and nutrition in much of the developed world to around the age of 10.

As a consequence, in industrialised countries such as the UK the average age for a girl’s first menstruation has dropped by four years in the past 150 years. Half of all females now have their period by 12 or 13 years of age. There are also biological arguments for why the definition of adolescence should be extended, including that the body continues to develop. For example, the brain continues to mature beyond the age of 20, working faster and more efficiently. And many people’s wisdom teeth don’t come through until the age of 25. Young people are also getting married and having children later. According to the Office of National Statistics, the average age for a man to enter their first marriage in 2013 was 32.5 years and 30.6 years for women across England and Wales. This represented an increase of almost eight years since 1973.

Lead author Prof Susan Sawyer, director of the centre for adolescent health at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, writes: “Although many adult legal privileges start at age 18 years, the adoption of adult roles and responsibilities generally occurs later.” She says delayed partnering, parenting and economic independence means the “semi-dependency” that characterises adolescence has expanded.

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The 3.5% surplus is the opposite of what’s good for Greece; there should be a 3.5% deficit, with all 7% of it invested in the economy.

Varoufakis Reveals Outburst Against ‘Stupid’ Tsipras (GR)

Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has revealed he accused Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of being “totally stupid” in accepting a demand by Greece’s creditors for big primary surpluses. During an interview with Greece’s Parapolitika radio, Varoufakis said when he learned that Tsipras in 2015 accepted, without consulting him, a primary surplus target of 3.5% he confronted the premier: “I told him: ‘Are you totally stupid? What have they given you in return?’ And he replied: ‘Oh, maybe I was stupid. I will retract from the promise’.” Varoufakis said he actually used a stronger word than “stupid”.

In the same interview, the former finance minister repeated claims that Tsipras did not really want to win in the infamous July 2015 referendum on the bailout. Varoufakis said he remembered that everyone at the prime minister’s office that evening was sad. “I do not know when exactly Tsipras decided to capitulate,” he added. Referring to his successor, Euclid Tsakalotos, he said: “I can no longer recognize him.” “Euclid became a yes man on July 6 [2015] .. The case of Euclid hurts, because I was an eyewitness of his total transformation,” he added. Varoufakis also confirmed that he still has in his possession recordings of the Eurogroup meetings of the turbulent first half of 2015.

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And also, the 3.5% surplus is a perfect way to make Greece a debt slave forever.

Greece Compliance Report Due Friday Ahead of Monday’s Eurogroup (R.)

Eurozone finance ministers could decide on Monday, or soon afterward, to release the next tranche of bailout loans to Greece after the country pushed through a batch of laws to meet reform agreements with its creditors, a senior European Union official has said. Finance ministers from the 19 countries sharing the euro meet for monthly talks on Monday and a review of Greek reforms is one of the top items on the agenda. Last Monday, the Greek Parliament approved a bill for fiscal, energy and labor reforms requested by international lenders. This is likely to complete the third and penultimate review of Greek reforms, unlocking new loans. “We are extremely well on our way towards the completion of the third review,” the senior EU official said.

“There are a number of administrative measures to be taken still. As of yet we cannot say that all the preconditions [for disbursements] have been successfully completed simply because the time lines are as they are,” the official said. Lenders’ experts, who are now translating and checking the Greek laws, are to issue a report on their compliance with the bailout’s requirements on Friday. The new loans would be between 6 and 7 billion euros, disbursed to Greece in more than one tranche, the official said. Greece would use the money to redeem maturing debt, pay arrears and create a cash buffer for when it leaves its third bailout in August. “We can be confident that the disbursements will… start in February, probably in the second half,” the official said.

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It’s not about people, it’s about money and politics. Welcome to the real Europe.

UK and France Must Stop ‘Systematic Violation’ Of Calais Refugees (Ind.)

The UK and France must urgently put an end to the “systematic violation” of refugees in Calais, a group of charities has warned. In a letter shared exclusively with The Independent, eight aid organisations urged leaders Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron to uphold their commitment to human rights law, as conditions for the thousands living on the border become increasingly perilous. The group, which includes l’Auberge des Migrants, Help Refugees, Safe Passage and Utopia56, wrote to the leaders on the same day Ms May welcomed the French President to the UK-France Summit at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst. “We are writing to ask that any new agreement relating to the French-British border bear in mind the human rights of displaced people currently residing in Calais,” the letter states.

“We are deeply concerned that the human rights of refugees and displaced people in northern France are being systematically violated on French territory. We moreover lament the heightened risk of sexual violence, exploitation and trafficking to which children and youth in Calais are exposed, as well as the many avoidable deaths occurring at the border.” Ahead of the visit, the Prime Minister announced the UK will take more child refugees from Calais and spend £44.5m on additional security at the French port. Ms May and Mr Macron subsequently signed a deal on migrants called the Sandhurst Treaty, designed to ease the suffering of some of the thousands of people camped near the French port who currently wait six months to have their cases settled. However, No 10 was keen to play down suggestions that Ms May had agreed to accept more refugees, insisting it would simply speed up the process of settling claims.

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And Germany now blames the island mayors.

HRW Blames Greek Authorities For Abysmal Conditions At Hotspots (K.)

In its annual review for 2018, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the failure of Greek authorities to properly identify vulnerable asylum seekers for transfer to the mainland has “impeded their access to proper care and services.” The watchdog group also said that policy formed under the deal between the European Union and Turkey to stem the flow of migrants to the continent has led to thousands being “trapped in Greece in overcrowded and abysmal conditions, while denying most access to adequate asylum procedures or refugee protection.” “The policies, conditions, uncertainty and the slow pace of decision-making contributed to deteriorating mental health for some asylum seekers and other migrants on the islands, while creating tensions that sometimes erupted into violence,” it said.

More than 50,000 refugees and migrants are stranded in Greece. Meanwhile, five eastern Aegean island mayors are calling for a meeting with the German ambassador in Athens after coming under fire from German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, who said on Wednesday that they were to blame for the appalling living conditions of refugees and migrants trapped in the hotspots. De Maiziere accused the island mayors of not making use of the aid that is being offered in order to force the government to transfer them to the Greek mainland.

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