The Secret, Dangerous World of Venezuelan Bitcoin Mining

“The main factor driving Venezuelans to take up bitcoin mining is a price control put in place by the socialist government: Electricity is virtually free. In Venezuela, the government has turned bitcoin mining into something akin to owning a home mint.  Since bitcoin mining is a process, in effect, of converting the value of electricity into currency, Venezuelan miners are engaging in a form of arbitrage: They’re buying an underpriced commodity and turning it into bitcoin to make a profit. The miners have turned socialism against itself.”

War On Cash promoters unfazed by India chaos and even contrary data

“Despite the India chaos, Summers thinks we should still curtail the $100 bill.  The conclave of the high priests of monetary policy almost invariably sings the same chorus: only criminals and terrorists use high denominations of cash.  My team and I did some of research on this and found some rather interesting data.  It turns out that countries with higher denominations of cash actually have much lower crime rates, including rates of organized crime.”

Tens of thousands protest against India cash ban

“India is still reeling from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s shock decision nearly three weeks ago to pull 86 percent of the currency from circulation overnight, triggering a chronic shortage of cash.  Many have been left without enough cash to buy food or daily essentials, while farmers have been unable to buy seeds and small traders say business has fallen off a cliff.  Nonetheless Modi has repeatedly defended the scheme, accusing its detractors of being tax evaders and urging all Indians to switch to non-cash payment methods.”

James Corbett: What I Learned From the “PropOrNot” Propaganda List

“Yes, has made this new, mysterious, anonymously-authored ‘propaganda list’ of websites to watch out for in the era of #FakeNews and Russians under every rock. And yes, the list is as ridiculous as that sounds. Join me today as I look into the latest pathetic attempt by a flailing establishment to bolster their discredited mouthpiece media organs and counter the ascendant alternative media. (Spoiler: they’re going to lose this battle as well.)”

Another driver killed with stuck accelerator at 119mph

Months after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal chauffeur was killed in an unexplained high-speed head-on collision, another driver has suffered the same fate after begging police for help for eight minutes prior to the collision:

Kaushal Gandhi, from Harrow, north London, died instantly when his car hit a stationary 18-tonne lorry on the M40 in Buckhinghamsire  in February  – leaving the vehicle crushed with the roof peeled back.

The 32-year-old called the emergency services while behind the wheel of his Skoda Octavia and said he could not stop the vehicle from accelerating. A recording of the eight-minute call he made was played at the inquest into his death.

In 2013, Rolling Stone investigative reporter Michael Hastings was killed when his car suddenly accelerated, spun out of control, and inexplicably detonated on impact.  Hastings had authored an exposé of U.S. General Stanley McChrystal for Rolling Stone that had caused the general’s resignation.

Previously, tin whiskers had been implicated in sudden unexplained acceleration.  In these cases, a naïve analysis of the vehicle black box would indicate driver error as the cause of the crash, even though the accelerator input would actually have been subject to an unintended short circuit, making it appear as if the driver were to blame.

In 2015, researchers demonstrated that a car could be remotely hacked via its liability insurance company’s monitoring dongle to apply and disable brakes while the car was in motion, among other features.

In 2016, automotive cybersecurity researchers presented an array of attacks against a 2014 Jeep Cherokee that added various trojan-horse methods to existing remote control methods to variously hijack a vehicle’s acceleration, braking, and steering components.

More US cities charging illegal “Netflix tax” to residents

“The Pasadena city council has been taking heat for weeks, after announcing a 9.4 percent tax on streaming video.  They’re calling it a utility, so it can be taxed like water and electricity. It happened when Pasadena voters modernized a law in 2008 to tax cell phones like landlines, never anticipating it could be applied to video streaming. Forty California cities now have similar laws. Chicago is currently being sued for charging a 9 percent tax on video streaming. And Pennsylvania’s charging a 6 percent sales tax on everything, from apps to downloads, to help close a $1.3 billion budget gap.”

Merkel Declares War On “Fake News”; Europe Brands RT “Dangerous Propaganda”

With her Christian Democratic Union party facing increasing losses at the hands of German voters fed up with zero economic growth and state-run facilities bursting at the seams handling millions of Middle Eastern war refugees, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has begun shaking a stick at the Internet:

Merkel cautioned that public opinion was being ‘manipulated’ on the internet. ‘Something has changed — as globalisation has marched on, (political) debate is taking place in a completely new media environment. Opinions aren’t formed the way they were 25 years ago,’ she said.

Europe’s bureaucrats were one step ahead, and in a shocking move, on Wednesday the EU Parliament voted on a non-legislative resolution which calls for the EU to ‘respond to information warfare by Russia.’ Russian news websites RT and Sputnik news agency were alleged to be among the most dangerous ‘tools of Russian propaganda.’

India Bank Adviser Proposes Regular, ‘Surprise’ Cash Bans

To combat Indian savers’ attachment to cash and distrust of banks, Soumya Kanti Ghosh, the group chief economic adviser of the State Bank of India (SBI), the largest bank in the country, proposed that the government should ‘surprise’ Indians with cash bans on an ongoing basis, so as to discourage people from holding cash.

The effect of the present Indian demonetization effort has been chaos, with at least 47 Indians reported dead in the aftermath due to queueing at banks and other factors.

Earlier this year, Harvard professor Kenneth Rogoff had demanded a ban on US $20 and higher denomination bills, while insider Larry Summers had recommended banning the $100 bill.

If these academics have their way, government-backed paper money will further approach its intrinsic value – zero.  They hope that this will drive cash-based savings into bank deposits, which generate fee revenue and a source of leverage for the banks while at the same time supplying governments with taxes and police oversight of citizens’ financial lives.  However, governments attempting to eliminate cash usage risk destroying trust in the ‘coin of the realm’, leading to cash-based savings being moved into assets such as real estate, precious metals, and cryptocurrencies instead of bank deposits.

But the ubiquity of cash clearly persists, even in the US:

US Immigration Outlook: From Uncertainty To Panic

Tends of thousands of desperate refugees from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras are pressured by ‘coyotes’ to fast-forward their plans so as to reach the US before Trump’s inauguration:

Since Trump’s victory, the number of people flocking north has surged, Central American officials say, contributing to a growing logjam along the southern U.S. border.

“We’re worried because we’re seeing a rise in the flow of migrants leaving the country, who have been urged to leave by coyotes telling them that they have to reach the United States before Trump takes office,” Maria Andrea Matamoros, Honduras’ deputy foreign minister, told Reuters, referring to people smugglers.

Carlos Raul Morales, Guatemala’s foreign minister, told Reuters people were also leaving Guatemala en masse before Trump becomes president.

“The coyotes are leaving people in debt, and taking their property as payment for the journey,” he said in an interview.

Last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection opened a temporary holding facility for up to 500 people near the Texan border with Mexico, in what it said was a response to a marked uptick in illegal border crossings.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said earlier this month immigration detention facilities were holding about 10,000 more individuals than usual, after a spike in October of migrants including unaccompanied children, families and asylum seekers.

And Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is an opponent of the H1-B work visa program, leaving tech companies worried about a brain drain:

Sessions, however, has long sought to curtail the program and introduced legislation last year aiming to make the visas less available to large outsourcing companies such as Infosys. Such firms, by far the largest users of H-1B visas, provide foreign contractors to U.S. companies looking to slash information technology costs.

“Thousands of U.S. workers are being replaced by foreign labor,” Sessions said at a February hearing.


Sessions last year urged then-Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate Southern California Edison’s use of H-1B visas in a letter than was also signed by Democratic Sens. Bernie Sanders, Richard Durbin and Sherrod Brown.

California D.A.: Mom Facing Jail Time Over Homemade Ceviche Is Overreacting

“A California DA says the single mother of six facing prosecution for selling 32 ounces of homemade ceviche is ‘making more of this than it is.’ Mariza Ruelas, 37, made headlines Monday when she claimed to be facing a year in jail for a Facebook-based hobby. Ruelas and five others were busted when San Joaquin County investigators posed as members of the suspects’ Facebook group, where they traded recipes and sometimes sold dishes to each other. One undercover investigator asked to buy some of Ruelas’ homemade ceviche, and she was promptly charged with operating a food facility and business without a license.”