en Mohammad Bin Salman Was Mystery Buyer Of $300 Million French Chateau <p>Austerity at home, opulence abroad...</p> <p><strong>That appears to be the House of Saud&rsquo;s new motto in an era when Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has successfully consolidated power, </strong>ensuring his Saudi Vision 2030 plan to diversify the kingdom&rsquo;s energy-dependent economy will proceed unchallenged.</p> <p>But while the kingdom was cutting back on gas subsidies, government jobs, and other components of the state&rsquo;s largesse - one of the KSA&rsquo;s most valuable tools in preventing domestic unrest that could lead restive elements in Saudi society to challenge the King&rsquo;s authority - MbS was purchasing the world&rsquo;s most expensive home.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 239px;" /></a></p> <p>According to the <a href="">New York Times</a>, when it was purchased for $300 million two years ago,<strong> the Chateau Louis XIV, a mansion located just outside Paris, was billed as <u>the most expensive home ever sold.</u></strong></p> <p>Here&rsquo;s how<a href=""> Town &amp; Country</a> described it at the time of the sale.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>The house - if one can refer to it with such a modest term - features an aquarium, home theater, squash court, underground nightclub, and wine cellar.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Outside, in the 57-acre park in which the château is situated, there&#39;s &quot;a gleaming gold-leafed fountain&quot; along with &quot;an array of flowers, marble statues, bridle paths, and a hedged labyrinth,&quot; all of which &quot;evoke the genius of Le Nôtre,&quot; the French landscape architect famous for designing the park at Versailles.</p> </blockquote> <p>But an investigation by the paper determined that MbS was the mystery buyer. What&rsquo;s worse, he bought the painting when oil prices were still near their lowest levels since the early 2000s, when the full brunt of Saudi austerity was being feld at home.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 252px;" /></a></p> <p><em>Mohammad bin Salman</em></p> <p>Bin Salman also recently purchased a $500 million yacht, and another Saudi Prince, Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, <a href="">was revealed to be</a> the mystery buyer of Leonardo da Vinci&rsquo;s painting &ldquo;Salvator Mundi,&rdquo; which fetched a record $450.3 million at auction last month, documents show.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-video" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">&lsquo;AUSTERITY AT HOME, LUXURY ABROAD&lsquo;</p> <p>Mohammed bin-Salman, <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SaudiArabia</a>&rsquo;s Crown Prince most expensive purchases exposed! <a href=""></a></p> <p>&mdash; Press TV (@PressTV) <a href="">December 17, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>News of the purchase must chagrin the dozens of Saudi princes who&rsquo;ve had their property and assets forcefully expropriated by their cousin in a <a href="">purge/cash grab</a> that is helping to replenish Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s foreign-exchange reserves.</p> <p>The Kingdom is still planning to offer 5% of Saudi Aramco - believed to be the world&rsquo;s most valuable company - though the kingdom is still mulling a venue for the offering.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="614" height="294" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Geography of Asia Heirs apparent House of Saud Kings of Saudi Arabia Middle East Mohammad Mohammad bin Salman Monarchy New York Times Salman of Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia Saudi Aramco Twitter Twitter Sun, 17 Dec 2017 21:10:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 609323 at McCain To Miss Critical Tax Vote, Returning To Arizona After Chemo Treatment <p>The mystery whether John McCain will be present during next week's historic tax bill vote is over: <a href="">according to CBS</a>, the Arizona Senator will <strong>not be on hand for the final vote on the Republican tax bill,</strong> expected early this week, and instead is returning to Arizona after spending several days in a Maryland hospital recovering from side effects from chemotherapy treatment for brain cancer. As CBS furter notes, McCain left Washington Sunday and is heading back to his home state to spend the holidays with his family. It is unclear when McCain might return to Washington, especially amid rumors that the senator's health has taken a turn for the worse. </p> <p>Will McCain's absence be a dealbreaker to the GOP tax vote? Probably not: despite a razor-thin margin needed to pass the measure, McCain's presence will not likely be the determining factor in the vote. The reason is that two critical senators - Bob Corker of Tennessee and Marco Rubio of Florida - announced their support for the bill last week after initially saying they would oppose earlier versions. Unless, of course, one or both of them changes their opinion in the last minute, somethign which could happen following an IBT report this morning that according to John Cornyn, <a href="">a tax cut potentially benefiting Bob Corker was part of the effort to secure votes for passage</a>.</p> <p>As note yesterday, Republican leaders aim to hold floor votes this week, with the House expected to take up the measure first on Tuesday.&nbsp; </p> <p>McCain, 81, has been receiving treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, since Wednesday. His son-in-law said on "Face the Nation" Sunday that McCain had been "in good spirits." More from CBS: </p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>"I'm happy to say that he's doing well. The truth is that as anyone knows whose family has battled cancer or any significant disease that oftentimes there are side effects of treatment that you have. The senator has been through a round of chemo and he was hospitalized this week at Walter Reed," said Ben Domenech, a conservative writer and husband of Meghan McCain. </p> </blockquote> <p>McCain was admitted to the hospital for what his office called "normal side effects" of his cancer treatment.</p> <p>Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the second most senior Republican, told reporters last week that he expected McCain to be back&nbsp; after "resting up."&nbsp; Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close friend of McCain, likewise said he had "not focused on the tax bill right now when it comes to Sen. McCain. I'm focused on his health." </p> <p>McCain underwent surgery in mid-July to remove a blood clot from above his left eye after being diagnosed with glioblastoma, the same cancer that killed Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy. </p> <p>McCain's diagnosis, however did not prevent him from participating in another key vote - the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. McCain's vote was a critical factor in the failure of the Republicans' efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act in July. McCain was one of only three GOP senators to vote against the measure, which came in dramatic fashion in the early morning hours. When reporters asked why he cast a "no" vote on , McCain's response was simple: "I thought it was the right thing to do." Shortly after the dramatic vote, he returned home to Arizona to begin radiation and chemotherapy treatments. </p> <p>However, in recent weeks McCain's condition appears to have worsened. He suffered a minor tear in his right Achilles tendon, forcing him to wear a walking brace. He eventually began using a wheelchair with members of his staff assisting him. Some of the symptoms of glioblastoma, according to CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook, include headache, general malaise, visual problems and speech problems. </p> <p>McCain is not the only senator who may be sidelined for the critical vite due to the health reasons: Sen. Thad Cochran, 80, of Mississippi, had a non-melanoma lesion removed from his nose earlier this week. A spokesman for Cochran told CBS News last week that the senator went through an outpatient procedure and "is doing well and is available for votes as needed."</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="1024" height="576" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Arizona Bob Corker Bob Corker chemotherapy Florida Health International Republican Institute John Cornyn John McCain John McCain Maryland hospital Meghan McCain Military personnel Political positions of John McCain Politics radiation Republican Party Senate career of John McCain, 2001–2014 South Carolina United States Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Sun, 17 Dec 2017 20:46:56 +0000 Tyler Durden 609325 at Uh-Oh Canada! <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Nick Cunningham via,</em></a></p> <p>Oil from Canada&rsquo;s oil sands is now selling at a $27-per-barrel discount relative to WTI, the <strong>sharpest difference in more than four years</strong>.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="309" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>Western Canada Select (WCS), a benchmark for oil from Alberta&rsquo;s oil sands, has plunged in December, falling to just $30 per barrel at the end of this past week. WCS typically trades at a discount to WTI, reflecting the differences in quality from lighter forms of oil, as well as the extra transportation costs to move oil hundreds of miles out of Alberta.</p> <p>But a discount is usually something like $10 per barrel, not more than $25. <strong>A price deterioration of this magnitude has not been seen in years.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 316px;" /></a></p> <p><em>(Click to enlarge)</em></p> <p><u><strong>There are several reasons why the WCS price has deteriorated. </strong></u></p> <p><strong>First, the <a href="">spill</a> and shutdown of TransCanada&rsquo;s Keystone pipeline in November slowed the flow of oil from Canada to the U.S. as the company was forced to make repairs. </strong>That led to a minor spike in WTI as supply tightened a bit in the U.S., but upstream in Canada it put downward pressure on WCS amid a glut of supply. Canadian oil was diverted into storage as the pipeline underwent repairs, and the backup pushed prices down.</p> <p><strong>Second, railroad companies have been unable to accommodate the oil industry on such short notice.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s hard for the railroads to change their operating plan really quickly,&rdquo; Steve Owens, rail analyst at IHS Markit, told <a href="">Bloomberg</a>. &ldquo;There are equipment constraints and crew constraints.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Rail companies have apparently been tied up trying to ship delayed grain cargoes and have not been able to accept oil shipments. To make matters worse, Canadian National Railway Co. is suffering from a backlog after three train derailments in the past two months slowed the typical volume of grain moving on the railways, according to Ag Transport Coalition.</p> <p><strong>At the same time, while rail was a crucial mode of transport for oil a few years ago, the collapse of prices in 2014 led to a sharp decline in oil-by-rail shipments. </strong>As such, rail fell out of favor, and rail companies shifted their focus to other commodities.</p> <p>Nevertheless, shipments of crude via rail are starting to rise again as low WCS prices have made it more attractive to U.S. refiners. But because Canadian rail is clogged up with grain at the moment, rail won&rsquo;t be able to completely resolve the oil backlog.</p> <p><strong>In a glaring example of how bad the problem has become, it is apparently economic at the moment to ship oil by manifest trains, according to Bloomberg and IHS Markit, which are tanker cars attached to other trains carrying other commodities.</strong> It&rsquo;s a pretty absurd way to move oil, with a transportation cost of as much as $24 per barrel, compared to a few bucks via pipeline. But, current market conditions make it possible.</p> <p>Meanwhile, although the outage at Keystone was one of the main proximate causes of the deterioration of WCS prices, the larger problem is a chronic one&mdash;a lack of new pipeline capacity even as Canada&rsquo;s oil sands have added new sources of supply in recent years. For instance, Suncor Energy is set to ramp up output from its new <a href="">Fort Hills project</a> (a project planned years ago when oil prices were high), which will add 190,000 bpd of new oil sands supply within the next 12 months.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&quot;We have a lot of oil in the oilsands,&quot; </strong>Conor Bill, managing director of Mount Auburn Capital Corp., told <a href="">the CBC</a>. <strong>&quot;and the problem is there aren&#39;t a lot of ways to get that crude out of the area where it&#39;s produced.&quot;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>There are a <a href="">handful of major pipeline projects</a> on the drawing board, all of which still face hurdles. Keystone XL, Trans Mountain Expansion and Enbridge&rsquo;s Line 3 expansion each promise to carry Alberta oil to market, but none of them will be online anytime soon. That means the WCS discount will linger for a while.</p> <p><u><strong>At the end of the day, the current $27-per-barrel discount is being acutely felt in Canada&rsquo;s oil industry. </strong></u>Kevin Birn, a director at IHS Energy in Calgary, told Bloomberg that a $25-per-barrel WCS discount translates into a loss of $20 million per day for Canada&rsquo;s oil producers.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="1017" height="523" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Ag Transport Coalition Benchmark Business Crude Economy of Canada Enbridge Energy Keystone Pipeline Market Conditions Markit None Oil sands Petroleum Petroleum geology Petroleum industry Price of oil Unconventional oil Western Canada Western Canadian Select Sun, 17 Dec 2017 20:15:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 609319 at UPS Loses Family's $850,000 Inheritance, Offers To Refund $32 Delivery Fee <p>One Canadian man says he&rsquo;s broke because one of the country&rsquo;s largest banks <strong>has refused to refund a $850,000 bank draft that was lost by UPS during a routine delivery.</strong></p> <p>However, UPS, which claims it conducted an exhaustive search for the lost package but still turned up empty-handed, has at least offered to refund the $32 delivery fee.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;It was a total surprise,&rdquo;</strong> said Lorette Taylor, the man whose fortune was lost.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;Never in my wildest imagination did I think something like this could happen.&quot;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Taylor&rsquo;s brother, Louis Paul Herbert, said they were finalizing the details of her father&rsquo;s will last February and ent to a local UPSstore near Cornwall, Ontario, where he was expecting a package from his sister containing his share of the inheritance in a bank draft. But, according to <a href="">Newsweek</a>, the package never arrived.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 284px;" /></a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m waiting at the UPS store, around 3 p.m. because that&rsquo;s when they said the guys came in&mdash;nothing shows up,&rdquo;</strong> Herbert said.<strong>&nbsp; &ldquo;I came back in the evening. Nothing shows up...and I&rsquo;m wondering, &lsquo;What&rsquo;s happened to my inheritance?&#39;&quot;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Taylor sent the money through UPS from her lawyer about 270 miles away in Georgetown, Ontario, so Herbert wouldn&rsquo;t have to worry about picking up the money. She obtained the bank draft in February after she said the bank advised it as the safest way to&nbsp; send the money. We imagine the bank is probably rethinking that particular piece of advice.</p> <p>TD guaranteed Taylor and her husband, John, that the money would be replaced if the draft was lost, she said.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;They said a bank draft was more appropriate&rdquo;</strong> for that amount of money, Taylor said.</p> </blockquote> <p>UPS has apologized for losing the package. <strong>But, at the same time, mistakes happen, it said.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;While UPS&rsquo;s service is excellent in our industry, we are unfortunately not perfect. <strong>Occasionally, the loss of a package does occur,&rdquo; spokeswoman Nirali Raval told CBC. &ldquo;Our records indicate that our team followed UPS protocol and an exhaustive search for this package was completed by our Operations and Security teams. Unfortunately, we were unable to locate the package.&quot;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>According to <a href="">Newsweek</a>, the bank is refusing to refund the money unless Taylor signed an agreement to pay them back if someone cashes in the lost draft. She signed the agreement, but says the bank &ldquo;never paid anyone a dime.&rdquo; The bank also demanded she let TD put a lien against her house if the draft was cashed, but she refused.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;If the bank really wants indemnity, then UPS should sign it,&rdquo; </strong>she said.</p> </blockquote> <p>TD sent CBC a general statement that &ldquo;before we can agree to a replacement or reimbursement, we need appropriate security to be in place.&quot;</p> <p>Herbert said he has maxed out his credit cards and desperately needs the money.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;TD has the money. The money is actually sitting in an account with TD. Nothing has been stolen. It&rsquo;s there. That&rsquo;s my inheritance,&rdquo; he said, adding that if he had the cash, &ldquo;I would have been retired.&rdquo;</strong><br />&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="553" height="314" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> The Package Sun, 17 Dec 2017 20:10:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 609314 at "China Should Prepare For Nuclear Conflict": Beijing Warned To Be Ready As War On Korean Peninsula "Possible At Any Time" <p>Chinese government advisors and a senior military officer warned Beijing that it must be ready for a war on the Korean peninsula, with the risk of conflict higher than ever before, the <a href="">SCMP reported on Saturday</a>. They also warned that Beijing, once seen as Pyongyang’s biggest ally with influence over its neighbor, was losing control of the situation. </p> <p><strong>“Conditions on the peninsula now make for the biggest risk of a war in decades,” </strong>said Renmin University international relations professor Shi Yinhong, who also advises the State Council, China’s cabinet. “<strong>North Korea is a time bomb. We can only delay the explosion, hoping that by delaying it, a time will come to remove the detonator</strong>,” Shi added on the sidelines of a Beijing conference on the crisis.</p> <p>Shi said US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un were locked in a vicious cycle of threats and it was already too late for China to avert it. However, at best, Beijing could delay a full-blown conflict. Also addressing the conference was Wang Hongguang, former deputy commander of the Nanjing's Military Region, who warned that <strong>war could break out on the Korean peninsula at any time from now on until March when South Korea and the United States held annual military drills</strong>.</p> <p>“It is a highly dangerous period,” Wang said. “<strong>Northeast China should mobilise defences for war</strong>.”</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="278" /></a></p> <p>The warnings continued: Yang Xiyu, a senior fellow at the China Institute of International Studies affiliated with China’s foreign ministry, said conditions on the peninsula were at their most perilous in half a century. “No matter whether there is war or peace, regretfully, China has no control, dominance or even a voice on the issue,” he said. China might already be preparing for the worst.</p> <p>Adding to the urgencym last week the official newspaper of the province bordering North Korea, Jilin Daily, <strong>published a full page of advice for residents on how to respond to a nuclear attack.</strong> Wang said the Jilin Daily article was a “signal to the country to be prepared for a coming war.” He said China was also worried about the threat North Korea’s frequent nuclear tests were posing to unstable geological structures in the region.</p> <p>Confirming that China is indeed preparing for the worst case, a document allegedly from telecom operator China Mobile about plans to set up five refugee camps in Jilin’s Changbai county also surfaced online last week. </p> <p>Separately, Nanjing University professor Zhu Feng said that no matter how minor the possibility, China should be prepared psychologically and practically for “<strong>a catastrophic nuclear conflict, nuclear fallout or a nuclear explosion”.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>“Why do we always act like ostriches? Why do we always believe a war won’t occur?” Zhu said. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“<strong>What China needs is a sense of urgency about its declining influence in strategy related to the peninsula and the way it brings down China’s status and role in East Asian security issues</strong>.” He also said Kim’s failure to meet Chinese envoy Song Tao during his trip to Pyongyang last month was a “humiliation” for China.</p> </blockquote> <p>Ironically, even as China admits - if only internally so far - that its influence on the Kim regime is fading fast, at the United Nations in New York, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on China and Russia to increase their efforts to halt Pyongyang’s nuclear programme. <strong>Tillerson also backtracked on his previous unconditional offer for talks by saying that Washington would not negotiate with Pyongyang until it stopped “threatening behaviours”</strong>.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Last week, North Korean ambassador to the UN Ja Song-nam accused the United States, Japan and the United Nations Security Council of waging a hostile campaign to stop Pyongyang from gaining nuclear weapons that it saw as necessary to defend itself.</p> </blockquote> <p>Renmin University professor Shi said hopes for peace could not rest on Kim and Trump, and China and Russia should work together to argue against war. </p> <p>In a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping said war on the peninsula was not acceptable, however if even China is starting to prepare for an inevitable nuclear conflict, South Korea - which will be first in the line of fire - may be out of luck. </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="900" height="500" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> China China Institute Chinese government Donald Trump Draft:Peace treaty with North Korea Education in China Higher education in China Japan KIM Nanjing University Newspaper North Korea North Korea North Korea–South Korea relations Northeast China Politics Politics Renmin University Renmin University of China Rex Tillerson Rex Tillerson State Council United Nations United Nations Security Council Sun, 17 Dec 2017 19:51:02 +0000 Tyler Durden 609320 at Fentanyl-Laced Cocaine Is Overtaking Miami <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Steve Birr via The Daily Caller,</em></a></p> <p>The rapid influx of synthetic opioids into Florida is sparking an <strong> emergency warning from federal agents</strong> who say the deadly substances are <strong>seeping into cocaine supplies.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img height="257" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p><strong>Officials with the Drug Enforcement Administration in Miami said Friday <a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">cocaine cut with fentanyl is becoming a widespread problem</a> throughout the state,</strong> particularly in South Florida. State drug labs are finding both fentanyl, a synthetic opioid roughly 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, and carfentanil, a fentanyl analog roughly 10,000 times more powerful than morphine used largely as an elephant tranquilizer, reports the Sun Sentinel.</p> <p>More than 180 samples of cocaine from 21 Florida counties analyzed by forensic scientists in the past two years have tested positive for potent opioids. <strong>Miami-Dade by far had the most contaminated cocaine supply, with 69 samples testing positive for opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil.</strong></p> <p>Cocaine-related deaths have doubled since 2012 in Florida and claimed more lives in 2016 than any other drug. Roughly 36 people died each month in Miami-Dade county from cocaine related issues in 2016.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;People are thinking they are taking straight cocaine and in fact they are not,&rdquo; </strong>Justin Miller, intelligence chief for the DEA&rsquo;s&nbsp;Miami&nbsp;Field Division, told the Sun Sentinel.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;Now you are seeing it cut or mixed with synthetic opioids. That&rsquo;s really what&rsquo;s scary out there.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Since cocaine is often considered a social drug, officials fear <a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">users are largely unaware</a> of the potentially fatal risks of fentanyl when using the substance, and &ldquo;are the most likely to suffer an overdose and death.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Fentanyl&nbsp;overtook heroin as the deadliest substance in the U.S. in 2016.&nbsp;</strong>Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl and its analogs, claimed roughly 20,100 lives in 2016, up from 9,945 in the previous year.</p> <p>The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">estimates cocaine overdose deaths increased</a>&nbsp;from roughly&nbsp;4,000 in 2009 to more than 6,700 in 2015.&nbsp;Officials say cocaine overdose deaths are about to explode in 2017 to nearly 11,000. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein previously warned<strong>&nbsp;it only takes 2&nbsp;milligrams of fentanyl, &ldquo;the equivalent of a few grains of table salt,&rdquo; to cause a fatal overdose.</strong></p> <p>Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50 and are predicted to kill more than 71,000 people in 2017.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="1200" height="513" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Anilides Carfentanil Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Chemistry Cocaine DEA’s Miami Field Division Disaster Drug Enforcement Administration in Miami Euphoriants Fentanyl Florida General anesthetics Medicine Opioid Organic chemistry Piperidines South Florida Synthetic opioids Sun, 17 Dec 2017 19:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 609317 at "Look At That Thing!" - The NYT Reveals The Pentagon's Mysterious UFO Program <p>When tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theories cross paths with massive &#39;defense&#39; budgets and excited politicians, <strong><em>&quot;stranger things&quot; happen.</em></strong></p> <p><a href=""><img height="263" src="" width="480" /></a></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Welcome to The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program.</strong></span></p> <p><a href=""><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><img alt="" src="" style="width: 480px; height: 209px;" /></strong></span></a></p> <p><a href=""><em>As The New York Times exposes,</em></a> within the $600 billion annual Defense Department budgets, the $22 million spent on the program was <strong>almost impossible to find.</strong></p> <p>Which was <strong>how the Pentagon wanted it.</strong></p> <p>For years, the <strong>program investigated reports of unidentified flying objects</strong>, according to Defense Department officials, interviews with program participants and records obtained by The New York Times. It was run by a military intelligence official, Luis Elizondo, on the fifth floor of the Pentagon&rsquo;s C Ring, deep within the building&rsquo;s maze.</p> <p>The Defense Department has never before acknowledged the existence of the program, which it says it shut down in 2012.<strong> But its backers say that, while the Pentagon ended funding for the effort at that time, the program remains in existence</strong>. For the past five years, they say, officials with the program have continued to investigate episodes brought to them by service members, while also carrying out their other Defense Department duties.</p> <p>The shadowy program &mdash; parts of it remain classified &mdash; <strong>began in 2007, and initially it was largely funded at the request of Harry Reid, </strong>the Nevada Democrat who was the Senate majority leader at the time and who has long had an interest in space phenomena.</p> <p><strong>Most of the money went to an aerospace research company run by a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Mr. Reid&rsquo;s, Robert Bigelow,</strong> who is currently working with NASA to produce expandable craft for humans to use in space.</p> <p>And while the clapping of crony capitalism screams alod from those two last sentences, one watch of the following video (just one of many), suggests the boondoggle may be based in some kind of reality after all... <em>(the footage from a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet showing an aircraft surrounded by some kind of glowing aura traveling at high speed and rotating as it moves. The Navy pilots can be heard trying to understand what they are seeing. &ldquo;<strong>There&rsquo;s a whole fleet of them,&rdquo; one exclaims. </strong>Defense officials declined to release the location and date of the incident.)</em></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="true" frameborder="0" height="321" id="nyt_video_player" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="" title="New York Times Video - Embed Player" width="480"></iframe></p> <p>Mr. Reid, who retired from Congress this year, said he was proud of the program.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going,&rdquo; </strong>Mr. Reid said in a recent interview in Nevada.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s one of the good things I did in my congressional service. I&rsquo;ve done something that no one has done before.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>While not addressing the merits of the program, Sara Seager, an astrophysicist at M.I.T., cautioned that not knowing the origin of an object does not mean that it is from another planet or galaxy.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;When people claim to observe truly unusual phenomena, sometimes it&rsquo;s worth investigating seriously,&rdquo; she said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But, she added,<strong> &ldquo;what people sometimes don&rsquo;t get about science is that we often have phenomena that remain unexplained.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p><a href=""><em>Read more here...</em></a></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="657" height="286" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> American Airlines Flight 77 CAPTCHA Congress Crony capitalism Department of Defense Economy MIT National Aeronautics and Space Administration National Register of Historic Places in Arlington County, Virginia navy New York Times Pentagon Politics Reality Senate The Pentagon Virginia Sun, 17 Dec 2017 18:55:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 609295 at Putin Called Trump To Thank Him For CIA Tip That Prevented Terrorist Bombings <p>The <strong>Kremlin confirmed</strong> today that the Trump administration and Russia have indeed <strong>colluded</strong>...</p> <p><img height="267" src="" width="600" /></p> <p><strong><em>...To save lives from a looming terrorist attack!</em></strong></p> <p>In a &#39;shocking&#39; <a href="">report from the Kremlin</a>, the Russian President <strong>Vladimir Putin has thanked his US counterpart Donald Trump for help in <a href="">preventing a terrorist attack in St. Petersburg</a></strong>.</p> <p>Data provided by the CIA enabled Russian security services to find and detain terrorists. <a href="">As SputnikNews reports</a>,</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>While expressing the Kremlin&#39;s gratitude to the CIA director and the agency&#39;s employees, Putin has ensured his counterpart that Russian special services would &quot;certainly and immediately&quot; share intelligence information with their US colleagues on the terrorist threat in the country &quot;as it had always been done before.&quot;</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The information shared by the CIA helped &quot;track, find and detain a group of terrorists planning explosions in the Kazan Cathedral of Saint Petersburg, as well as other public places&quot; in the home city of Putin.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>...</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The Putin-Trump talks have been their&nbsp;<a href="">second conversation</a>&nbsp;by&nbsp;the phone this week, with&nbsp;the presidents discussing the North Korean nuclear issue earlier this week. </strong>Commenting on&nbsp;the talks,&nbsp;<a href="">Trump said</a>&nbsp;that Washington could rely on&nbsp;the Moscow&#39;s support on&nbsp;the issue and considers it to&nbsp;be of&nbsp;major importance.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Kremlin has repeatedly emphasized that Russia is willing to&nbsp;develop ties with&nbsp;the US on&nbsp;an equal basis and with&nbsp;mutual respect, with&nbsp;President Putin saying during&nbsp;his&nbsp;<a href="">large-scale end-of-year press conference</a>&nbsp;earlier this week that<strong> he hopes that Trump &quot;will have opportunities to&nbsp;improve&nbsp;contacts&quot; with&nbsp;Moscow in&nbsp;line with&nbsp;the US president&#39;s campaign pledges to &quot;get along&quot; with&nbsp;Russia.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Is this the kind of relationship &#39;we, the people&#39; want with the &#39;murdering thug&#39; Putin? Should America&#39;s premier spy agency really be &#39;saving Russian lives&#39;? Is this treason? Or is this a clever plot to make it appear that the world&#39;s leading nuclear superpowers may not be quite as entirely hostile and armageddon-prone as Washington neocons (and the left) would like everyone to think?</p> <p>These and many other questions will need to be answered!</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="792" height="353" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Central Intelligence Agency Donald Trump Donald Trump Federal Security Service Foreign policy of Donald Trump Government Grand Croix of the Légion d'honneur Independent politicians Neocons Politics Politics Presidency of Donald Trump RT Russia SPY Television Trump Administration Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin War Sun, 17 Dec 2017 18:30:35 +0000 Tyler Durden 609315 at All You Need To Know About Today's CME Bitcoin Futures Contract Launch <p>Following last week&#39;s &#39;successful&#39; launch of Cboe Bitcoin futures, CME will begin trading of their own <strong><em>&#39;more institutional&#39;</em></strong> Bitcoin futures contract today.</p> <p><img src="" style="width: 524px; height: 332px;" /></p> <p>Here are some of the differences between the products to be offered by the exchange operators.</p> <h3><span style="text-decoration: underline;">CONTRACT UNIT</span></h3> <ul> <li>The Cboe Bitcoin Futures Contract will use the ticker XBT and will equal one bitcoin.</li> <li>The CME Bitcoin Futures Contract will use the ticker BTC and will equal five bitcoins.</li> </ul> <h3><span style="text-decoration: underline;">PRICING AND SETTLEMENT</span></h3> <ul> <li>Both Cboe&rsquo;s and CME&rsquo;s bitcoin futures contracts will be settled in U.S. dollars, allowing exposure to the bitcoin without actually having to hold any of the cryptocurrency.</li> <li>Cboe&rsquo;s contract will be priced off of a single auction at 4 p.m. Eastern time (2100 GMT) on the final settlement date on the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange.</li> <li>CME&rsquo;s contract will be priced off of the CME Bitcoin Reference Rate, an index that references pricing data from cryptocurrency exchanges, currently made up of Bitstamp, GDAX, itBit and Kraken.</li> </ul> <h3><span style="text-decoration: underline;">TRADING HOURS</span></h3> <ul> <li>Cboe&rsquo;s XBT contract will trade on CFE, with regular trading hours of 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Eastern time on Mondays and 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m Tuesday through Friday. Extended hours will be 6 p.m. Sunday to 9:30 a.m. Monday, and 4:30 p.m. Monday through to 9:30 a.m. Friday.</li> <li>CME&rsquo;s BTC will trade on CME Globex and CME ClearPort Sunday to Friday from 6 p.m. - 5 p.m. Eastern time with a one-hour break each day beginning at 5 p.m.</li> </ul> <h3><span style="text-decoration: underline;">MARGIN RATE AND CLEARING</span></h3> <ul> <li>Cboe&rsquo;s contract will clear through the Options Clearing Corporation and a 44 percent margin rate will apply.</li> <li>CME&rsquo;s contract will clear through CME ClearPort and will have a 35 percent initial margin rate.</li> </ul> <h3><span style="text-decoration: underline;">CONTRACT EXPIRATIONS</span></h3> <ul> <li>Cboe said it may list up to four weekly contracts, three near-term serial months, and three months on the March quarterly cycle.</li> <li>CME said it will list monthly contracts for the nearest two months in the March quarterly cycle (March, June, Sept., Dec.) plus the nearest two serial months not in the March quarterly cycle.</li> </ul> <h3><span style="text-decoration: underline;">PRICE LIMITS AND TRADING HALTS</span></h3> <ul> <li>Cboe will halt trading in its contract for 2 minutes if the best bid in the XBT futures contract closest to expiration is 10 percent or more above or below the daily settlement price of that contract on the prior business day.</li> <li>Once trading resumes, if the best bid in the XBT futures contract closest to expiration is 20 percent or more above or below the daily settlement price of that contract on the prior business day, the futures will be halted for 5 minutes.</li> <li>CME will apply price limits, also known as circuit breakers, to its bitcoin futures of 7 percent, 13 percent, and 20 percent to the futures fixing price. Trading will not be allowed outside of the 20 percent price limit.</li> </ul> <p><a href=""><em>Sources: Reuters, Cboe, and CME </em></a></p> <p><strong>The last week was likely a disappointing one for the status-quo-supporters</strong> as the &#39;unleashing&#39; of futures contract that would enable shorting of Bitcoin and bring an end to the &quot;well it&#39;s a bubble&quot; surge in cryptocurrency... <strong>failed to materialize.</strong></p> <p>In fact, bitcoin rallied notably, despite compression of the spot-arb,<strong> to a new record high...</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 312px;" /></a></p> <p>JPMorgan&#39;s Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou notes that <strong>thus far the volumes of Bitcoin futures traded have remained rather modest. </strong>The first full day of trading on Dec 11 saw around $77mn of volume across the three traded contracts, after which volumes have declined with Dec14 totaling at just over $20mn. This compares to an average Bitcoin transaction volume of $13bn per day over the same period across cryptocurrency exchanges,according daily volume data from The intraday data available on futures volumes suggest that <strong>during the first day of trading, the majority of the volume was concentrated in Asian trading hours</strong> (Figure 5).</p> <p><strong>Since then, the volumes have tended to be concentrated in US trading hours,</strong> though on Friday volumes have been more spread out over different time zones.</p> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 528px;" /></p> <p><strong>When trading first started, the most striking feature was the wide basis between the futures contract and the underlying bitcoin prices.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 316px;" /></a></p> <p><strong>At its widest, the basis was around $2065 based on 5 minute intraday ticks, or more than 12% of the underlying price at the time,</strong> and averaged around 8% on Dec 11 overall. Since then, it has gradually declined during the week to average around 3% on Dec 14 and thus far on Dec 15. Given the futures contracts are for settlement in months ahead, some margin will persist as a function of interest rates and convenience yields, i.e. the benefit or premium associated with holding the underlying asset rather than a financial claim on it, similar to that of commodity futures.</p> <p><strong>There are a number of potential factors that could put upward pressure on this convenience yield</strong>, keeping the futures contracts trading above spot prices.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>First, cash settlement of the futures contracts arguably provides a somewhat less tight link to the underlying asset than if it were physically settled.</strong> In addition, some participants might prefer to have the option of taking physical delivery of Bitcoins, similar to how commodity futures have traditionally been settled, rather than delivery in cash that then has to be converted to Bitcoin separately.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Second, quoted prices for Bitcoin on various cryptocurrency platforms as well as on Bloomberg are typically quoted as an average across a number of exchanges.</strong> By contrast, the CBOE futures contracts are settled on prices from only one exchange (Gemini). The use of a single exchange may introduce some additional volatility in the futures price.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Third, there may be some investors who have been unable or unwilling to buy bitcoins on unregulated exchanges that are more willing to use regulated futures exchanges</strong> (though e.g. several Japanese Bitcoin exchanges are also regulated), or wish to avoid having to open separate wallet accounts instead preferring to use existing arrangements via futures exchanges. This could see prices at which the futures market clears biased higher than on cryptocurrency platforms until these investors have increased their exposure closer to a desired level.</p> </blockquote> <p>As CME Bitcoin futures begin trading today, there will be competition between the two exchanges to attract volumes. Similar to the CBOE contract, the CME futures are cash settled, and after reviewing the initial margin requirement ahead of launch the CME raised it this week from 35% to 47% for speculative accounts, modestly higher than the CBOE&rsquo;s 44% initial margin requirement.</p> <p>So the question is - what will happen when the bigger CME Bitcoin futures contract starts trading?</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;<strong>CME&rsquo;s bitcoin contract may not be first, but they are a larger futures clearinghouse </strong>and we are looking forward to our clients trading their product on Sunday evening,&rdquo; Brooks Dudley, vice president of risk in New York at ED&amp;F Man Capital Markets, told <a href="">Bloomberg</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;Not all market participants have been able to short the Cboe bitcoin futures.<strong> We have allowed our clients to go long or short to take advantage of dislocations between the futures and the underlying spot market.</strong>&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">As <a href="">CoinTelegraph </a>explains, there is a case for the bulls and the bears...</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 353px;" /></a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p dir="ltr"><u><strong>Short theory</strong></u></p> <p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">It is well known that a minority of Bitcoin holders--<a href="" target="_blank">the whales</a>-- hold a majority of the Bitcoin in circulation. It is rumored that roughly 1,000 people own 40 percent of all the Bitcoin. It is possible that the whales took a short position in their contracts, meaning they believe the price of the Bitcoin futures contract will be below the contracts purchase price at the date of expiration.</p> <p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Because a whale might have unfathomable amounts of money and the belief that their contract will expire at a value less than the price they purchased the contract for, it would not be surprising if the whales pumped up Bitcoin price in the days leading up to the contract expiration date by buying more Bitcoin, and then sell off a large chunk of it on an exchange at the inflated price - hours before their contract expires.</p> <p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">The whale would experience a capital gain from driving the price up and selling off, and because this could cause Bitcoin price to plummet, the whales futures contract(s) are likely to expire below the contract purchase price, meaning the whales with short contracts would experience a capital gain from their futures contract in addition to that from selling off the actual asset (Bitcoin). In the days shortly after the first futures contracts expire, it would not be surprising to see the whales who took short positions use their profits from trading on exchanges and the futures market to buy back Bitcoin at the discounted price that they might have caused the market to drop down to.</p> <p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><u><strong>Long theory</strong></u></p> <p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Or... it is possible for the opposite to happen. Maybe the whales and investors have taken a long position; meaning they believe the price of the first Bitcoin futures contracts will finish above the price they were purchased at. Instead of selling off a large chunk of their Bitcoin right before the contract expires, the whales would continue to pump up Bitcoin price by buying more Bitcoin leading up to the contract&rsquo;s expiration to ensure that their contract will finish above its purchase price.</p> <p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Although this is possible, it does not seem as plausible as the short theory. If whales went long and colluded to pump up Bitcoin price, they would not have the opportunity to buy back coins at a discounted price--this does not seem like a logical position for an experienced investor to be in nine days before CME Group&rsquo;s first Bitcoin futures contracts expire&hellip; unless the whales postpone the short until CME Group&rsquo;s first expiration date.</p> <p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><u>Or maybe...</u></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Similar to futures contracts and the majority of Bitcoin price lately, this is pure speculation. Maybe nothing will happen at all and I&rsquo;m over thinking how the market will react, maybe Jan.17 and 26 will not be significant dates for the Bitcoin economy. However, this is not my first rodeo. And if you&rsquo;ve been a member of crypto community for quite some time now, you could see that the days leading up to a new or major event in the Bitcoin economy and the days shortly after are more than likely to see significant movements in Bitcoin price.</p> </blockquote> <p>Finally, we note that, <a href="">as Bloomberg points out,</a><strong> banks and brokers who are offering access are being cautious. </strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Goldman Sachs Group Inc. demanded some clients s<strong>et aside collateral equal to 100 percent of the value of their trades, </strong>people familiar with the investments said last week.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The guidelines are inclusive of other margin requirements such as<strong> Options Clearing Corp.&rsquo;s 44 percent, required to clear contracts traded at Cboe, and the 47 percent CME is demanding.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It&rsquo;s not uncommon for a brokerage to impose steeper requirements than the exchange. Interactive Brokers Group Inc., which has said it handled 53 percent of the first day&rsquo;s trading in Cboe&rsquo;s bitcoin futures, will <u><strong>require a margin of 50 percent for long investments, and about 240 percent for short selling</strong></u>, based on current rates, according to Interactive Brokers spokeswoman Kalen Holliday.</p> </blockquote> <p>The settlement price of the CME futures will be based on a weighted average of prices from several exchanges (including Bitstamp, GDAX, itBit and Kraken), rather than a single exchange. The settlement dates of the CME futures will also extend further ahead to March, June, September and December. These factors, along with the fact that the CME is a larger exchange, <strong>could give it an advantage in terms of attracting trading volumes.</strong></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="510" height="294" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Alternative currencies Bitcoin Bitcoin Bitstamp Business Capital Markets CBOE Circuit Breakers CME Group Cryptocurrencies Currency Digital currency exchange Finance Futures contract Futures exchanges Futures market Futures markets goldman sachs Goldman Sachs Money Reuters Volatility Sun, 17 Dec 2017 18:01:19 +0000 Tyler Durden 609312 at Bitcoin: The Greatest Story Ever Sold <p style="text-align: center;">Bitcoin: The Greatest Story Ever Sold</p> <p style="text-align: center;">By</p> <p style="text-align: center;">Cognitive Dissonance</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;Sell the sizzle, not the steak.&rdquo;</em> &ndash; Oldest sales trick in the book</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;Resistance is futile. You must assimilate&rdquo;</em> - The Borg</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Once I discover what triggers or motivates a person, and then figure out how to activate it, I can sell anything. And it doesn&rsquo;t even need to be a product or service they previously wanted.</p> <p>Case in point&hellip;.life insurance.</p> <p>I sold life insurance for almost ten years and made a decent living while doing so. I never forced anything on anyone and quickly canceled the policy if they decided later it was not what they wanted.</p> <p>Very few did. I had the second lowest lapse/cancel rate in my region.</p> <p>You want the customer to decide on their own volition, and with minimal prompting on your part, that they want; no, they <strong>need</strong> what you are selling. Once this occurs, you are simply an order taker filling the expressed need(s) of the customer.</p> <p>To do so you sell the sizzle, not the steak.</p> <p>I wasn&rsquo;t selling life insurance. I was solving a financial &lsquo;<em>problem</em>&rsquo; everyone has, but often doesn&rsquo;t recognize as a problem, is in denial of the problem or fears the problem is too big or expensive to solve.</p> <p>I am not bragging, but rather pointing out something very few people consider. We are <strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">all</span></strong> heavily influenced by (psychological warfare) sales techniques deeply rooted in all sales pitches delivered by skilled practitioners. And the number one most powerful technique employed is to plant a seed that leverages the customer&rsquo;s own emotional triggers.&nbsp;</p> <p>Taken to the extreme level, once a person is triggered within carefully controlled and presented parameters, anything is possible. The key is to get them to turn off the critical thinking component of the mind (while letting them believe they have not) and ramp up the emotional coefficient (while supporting their belief they have not) all while encouraging them to believe it&rsquo;s their own genius idea. So&hellip;what does this have to do with Bitcoin?</p> <p>In a word&hellip;everything!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Bitcoin" height="534" src="" title="Bitcoin" width="800" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Whether by design or natural evolution, and possibly a combination of the two, the Bitcoin &lsquo;<em>story</em>&rsquo; pushes all the right buttons needed to ignite a stampede of exponential proportions. And what a story it is.</p> <p>A small group of intrepid anarchists/libertarians/misfits/geeks/geniuses led by the mysterious and still unknown Satoshi Nakamoto created and developed Bitcoin and the supporting blockchain to thumb their noses at the global banking hierarchy/governmental control conglomerate/conspiracy, freeing the financially oppressed and liberty suppressed underclass to rebel against the new world order and bring chaos reigning down upon the Empire by undermining their control mechanisms, the insidious central banking cesspools and their worthless fiat currencies.</p> <p>Or something like that.</p> <p>If you take several steps back and attempt to see the big picture, it sure sounds to me like a deliciously naughty Tom Clancy novel or even an episode from Star Wars titled &ldquo;<em>The Rebels Strike Back</em>&rdquo;. What wannabe star fighter pilot wouldn&rsquo;t love to stick it to the man by buying Bitcoin and giving all of them the finger in the process?</p> <p>And if you just so happen to become flighty rich in the process, so much the better. Once you become the richest man on the planet you will rain itty bitty Bitcoin pieces upon the starving masses and save the world from those fat cat bankers and various sociopathic leader scum.</p> <p>No feat of narcissistic imagination could get any better than this real life fairly tale of a story. Destroy the world to save it while becoming wealthy beyond imagination, all by doing little more than pushing a button and HODLing. Hell, sell the house, the car, even the wife, whatever it takes to buy more Bitcoin to fight the evil elite and save humanity from itself.</p> <p>Obviously I am exaggerating a bit. But judging from the various pro Bitcoin rationalization articles I&rsquo;ve read over the last few months of Bitcoin&rsquo;s parabolic rise, I&rsquo;m only exaggerating a <strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">little</span></strong> bit.</p> <p>The most valuable currency in the world is belief, whether in an ideology, a physical entity or even a supreme being. If you can combine all those and more, you have on your hands a rip-your-face-off social movement that knows no upper limit&hellip;right up until it does.</p> <p>This is not to say Bitcoin is fake. On the contrary, it is as real as any other &lsquo;<em>currency</em>&rsquo; simply because those who own, trade, spend and HODL (Hold On for Dear Life) Bitcoin believe it to be real. This is no different than widespread faith and belief in the almighty US Dollar, Japanese Yen or English pound, other than the official virtual currency(s) is backed by nothing more tangible than the mighty American military machine.</p> <p>Which, I might delicately add, a military that&rsquo;s (eventually) turned loose upon any entity, foreign or domestic, that threatens to undermine our faith and belief in the almighty US Dollar.</p> <p>Let&rsquo;s see what we have here.</p> <p>A &lsquo;<em>currency</em>&rsquo; that is rather difficult to spend at your local Five and Dime (but becoming less so on a daily basis) therefore you are mostly limited to holding or trading it, is restricted to 21 million units in total of which 12 million is presently available with a float many orders of magnitude less, is blindly supported by a group of rabid HODLing believers who are now filthy rich if they bought it just last week or earlier and which is clearly and obviously manipulated by parties unknown to such a degree the Chinese are insanely jealous, but are quietly taking pictures and furiously scribbling notes.</p> <p>Do I have that right? Did I miss anything?</p> <p>Seen from the perspective of a veteran salesman, I&rsquo;m insanely jealous I didn&rsquo;t come up with this idea myself. The best I&rsquo;ve ever managed was to come up with the idea of visiting pet sitters several years before it went mainstream. It was my severe allergy to cats that prevented me from taking it nationwide. Permanent post nasal drip isn&rsquo;t conducive to begging Silicon Valley angel investors for funding.</p> <p>Color my cynical, but I&rsquo;m now old enough to recognize dirty tricks when they come around for a second, third and fourth airing. And Bitcoin stinks of reverse psychology skullduggery squared to the infinite power. But the amazing thing is this doesn&rsquo;t invalidate Bitcoin in the least, and may actually lend even more sizzle to the bold Bitcoin steak.</p> <p>I was hoodwinked by an unknown three letter agency and all I got was this stupid tee shirt and several million/billion dollars.</p> <p>How do you get someone to eat the peas they claim to hate? Dress them up as jelly beans and pay them obscene amounts of fiat to consume them. Pretty soon everyone wants to eat their peas and keep them too.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Jelly Beans" height="533" src="" title="Jelly Beans" width="800" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I seem to remember article after article outlining how every official fiat counterfeiter and central bank pusher in the world was proclaiming the virtues of virtual currency while decreeing physical cash, currency and coin as evil incarnate and the devil&rsquo;s playground. The howls of distrust and revulsion among every single breathing human being, other than the fiat conflicted and consumed, about the loss of cold hard cash were hard to ignore.</p> <p>Clearly the average Jane and Joe did not wish to part with their small cache of cash, regardless of whether the majority of their actual &lsquo;<em>wealth</em>&rsquo; was little more than ones and zeros safely tucked away in the cloud, secure fluffy white cumulonimbus we can only hope.</p> <p>While Bitcoin has been around since 2009/10, only in the last few months has it entered the public mind with stories of instant millionaires whose road to success was scratching off the winning lottery ticket rather than growing their wealth the old fashioned way, by lying, cheating and stealing as the elite have done.</p> <p>But while Bitcoin has blazed the trail of consent to more widespread distribution via the greed button, the heavy yeoman&rsquo;s psyops work is actually being done by the introduction of hundreds of competing cryptocurrencies. While many feel they have missed the Bitcoin train, there is still plenty of virtual crypto lottery tickets, freshly mined daily, that are waiting to be scratched. The once reluctant mind has turned positively manic with excitement.</p> <p>Mission accomplished.</p> <p>You see, Bitcoin doesn&rsquo;t actually need to be fake or fatally flawed in order to act as the messenger carrying the impregnated cryptoseed stealthily implanted, then germinated, within the minds of the teaming masses. The more Bitcoin billionaires there are, the more the masses will yearn for a piece of the crypto pie. Just a few crumbs are all I want dear sir. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>For those unaware of this sales technique, predictive programming is its name and cognitive leverage is its game, a fact well known on Madison Avenue, in Langley, Virginia and Fort Meade, Maryland. The CIA in particular uses this, and many other techniques, on a regular basis throughout the world to depose leaders, ignite revolutions and plant subtle memes to be used now or later.</p> <p>Only the terminally naïve believe the CIA restricts its nefarious activities to foreign soil. From its perspective, the CIA sees itself as the behind-the-scenes defender of the &ldquo;<em>American Way</em>&rdquo; and it will use any and all tools at its disposal to do so. Not only will it manipulate foreign perceptions, but also domestic views and ideas that form our own reality.</p> <p>Either we make our own reality or we live within someone else&rsquo;s creation. The CIA and various other three letter agencies are tasked with creating our reality for us and they will use any means available to do so.</p> <p>Since it is becoming increasingly obvious to anyone with two working brain cells that the almighty dollar is under increasing pressure from all points of the compass, it stands to reason this dollar assault is considered a national security issue and will be confronted, and defended, both directly and indirectly.</p> <p>Here&rsquo;s the thing I keep coming back to. While many people love to believe all government is grossly ineffective, incompetent and wasteful (and much of it is) the CIA and others of the same breed employ delicately precise and blunt force trauma overkill to the nth degree. Combine this with a deep state presence whose only goal is to maintain or increase their power and you have a mixed cocktail of intoxicating proportions.</p> <p>Even if Bitcoin in particular, and blockchain in general, were not created and/or enabled at birth by the CIA/NSA etc. doesn&rsquo;t mean they remain pure as the Virgin Mary now. If Bitcoin really is such a threat to the established financial empire as the cryptomaniacs claim it to be, why hasn&rsquo;t the establishment taken direct and effective steps against it long before now?</p> <p>Regardless if the blockchain is a distributed network that cannot be stopped, all one must do is outlaw the use and/or conversion of Bitcoin to the local coin of the realm to immediately stop its rapid, and profitable, propagation. Since this has not occurred to date, one must surmise there is a reason for not doing so.</p> <p>All the police state needs to do is cry national security and the curtain comes down on the Bitcoin stage (d) production. You do not need to destroy the rebel force in order to render it ineffective.</p> <p>While the deep state and its minions are rarely of one mind about a multitude of issues, witness the constant infighting and jockeying for position, nothing clears the mind or clarifies its purpose like the certain knowledge of imminent demise. If Bitcoin, blockchain and the hundreds of other cryptocurrencies were the mortal danger loudly advertised by the Bitcoin ideologies, it would be squashed in a New York minute.</p> <p>You don&rsquo;t f**k with Mother Nature nor Father Fiat.</p> <p>I fully and readily admit I have no crystal ball insight into the machinations of the deep state, nor any awareness of its true goals and end game. Nor must I know in order to smell the skunk in the blockchain woodpile.</p> <p>All threats to the Empire, whether real, imagined or artificially created, are directly and/or indirectly confronted into extinction or assimilation. An aware and open-minded examination of the social revolts and uprisings of the 60&rsquo;s and 70&rsquo;s in the US exposes the counter intelligence programs of subversion, infiltration, control and even genesis of these threats that rendered all of them ineffective, distracted, distorted and ultimately mute.</p> <p>Since Bitcoin and blockchain has not to date been significantly impeded, one must surmise it is serving the purpose of the Empire to exist. As hurtful to the ideology and the ego as this thought might be, I strongly suspect Bitcoin and its ilk is not what they appear to be.</p> <p>Still, that doesn&rsquo;t prevent you or me from becoming filthy rich in the process. Go for the gusto my friend, drink deep from the intoxicating waters of easy wealth. Just remember something many will forget in their mad rush to Bitcoin/blockchain riches.</p> <p>Money changes people in fundamental ways. It is the ultimate mind virus, bar none. The easiest and most effective way to dull the rebel mind is to shower it with wealth and power. The catch is you must become one with the Empire to enjoy it.</p> <p>Resistance is futile. You must assimilate.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>12-17-2017</p> <p>Cognitive Dissonance</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="comment-content"> <p><span style="color: #0000ff;"><em>Lots of original work available exclusively on my Patreon blog. For as little as $3 a month you can support my creative work and access <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>all</strong></span> content.</em></span></p> <div class="comment-content"> <div class="comment-content"> <p><span style="color: #0000ff;"><em>Please consider doing so at <a href="" title=""></a></em></span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> Alternative currencies Bitcoin Bitcoin Blockchains Central Intelligence Agency Cognitive Dissonance Cryptocurrencies Currency Digital currency E-commerce Economics of bitcoin ETC Finance Madison Avenue Money national security None Reality Satoshi Nakamoto Virtual currency Yen Sun, 17 Dec 2017 17:32:24 +0000 Cognitive Dissonance 609311 at