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GOLD, SILVER, CURRENCIES
Here is how you will know if the gold bull market has ended!
By Peter Degraaf - GoldSeek.com
• Central banks will have stopped their money printing madness.
• The US Federal Government will have balanced its budget.
• China will have invested 20% of its trading surplus in gold.
• The US CPI will have peaked at a rate above 10%.
• The public in the USA, Canada, Australia and Europe will have bought gold with their savings, including a goodly portion of their tax free savings...
Gold prices mark first fall in three sessions
Prices retreat from 3-week high as U.S. budget deal dulls metal's appeal
By Myra P. Saefong and Shawn Langlois, MarketWatch
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Gold futures on Wednesday retreated from a three-week high to finish lower for the first time in three sessions as a U.S. budget deal helped dull investment demand for the precious metal.
Gold for February delivery fell by $3.90, or 0.3%, to settle at $1,257.20 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
A day earlier, gold rallied over 2%, bouncing back from lows hit in early December and knocking out a three-week high at the close as a drop in the U.S. dollar helped boost prices. Prices had tallied a climb of 2.6% over the past two trading sessions.
Dollar treads water in anticipation of Fed
Euro could benefit from year-end rally
By Saumya Vaishampayan and Michael Kitchen, MarketWatch
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — The U.S. dollar was little changed on Wednesday as market participants looked ahead to next week's Federal Reserve policy decision.
No major data were scheduled for release in the U.S. House and Senate leadersreached a two-year budget deal on Tuesday that would avert another government shutdown.
The ICE dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six rival units, was at 79.877 versus late Tuesday's 79.976. The WSJ Dollar Index, an alternate gauge, was at 73.05 versus 73.09.
Australian Dollar Falls for a Second Day as Jobless Rate Rises
By Candice Zachariahs - Bloomberg.com
Australia's dollar declined for a second day after a report showed the nation's unemployment rate climbed to match the highest level since 2009.
New Zealand's currency touched a five-year high against Australia's after the smaller country's central bank said interest-rate increases may be needed as inflation pressures build. The benchmark rate will probably need to rise 225 basis points over the next 2 1/4 years, Reserve Bank of New Zealand Governor Graeme Wheeler said today.
RBNZ Signals 2014 Rate Increases as Inflation Accelerates
By Tracy Withers - Bloomberg.com
New Zealand's central bank stepped up its inflation-fighting rhetoric and signaled it will start raising interest rates in the first half of next year as the economy strengthens. The currency rose.
"The bank will increase the official cash rate as needed in order to keep future average inflation near the 2 percent target midpoint,"Reserve Bank of New Zealand Governor Graeme Wheeler said in statement in Wellington today after leaving the benchmark at a record-low 2.5 percent. In October, he said increases "will likely be required" in 2014.
ECONOMICS, FINANCE, THE FED, BANKING, INTERNATIONAL
They'll Move Goal Posts to Keep QE Forever
Central banks will move goal posts to keep QE forever
In my opinion: It's never the right time to stop printing money
By Matthew Lynn, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) — Forget the reforms in China, whether the euro survives, or whether Apple ever gets around to launching that incredibly expensive watch that sends e-mails, plays games, and possibly even tells you what time it is.
Right now, there is only one thing that really matters to the markets. And that is whether central banks will continue with quantitative easing and stick with interest rates at three-century lows — and if not, when they will stop printing money and get rates back to something close to normal levels.
* * * * *
Fed Moves Toward New Tool for Setting Rates
[Google title for FREE article pass]
'Reverse Repo' Program Could Be Critical to Fending Off Inflation
By VICTORIA MCGRANE And JON HILSENRATH - WSJ.com $$
An experimental bond-trading program being run at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York could fundamentally change the way the central bank sets interest rates.
Fed officials see the program, known as a "reverse repo" facility, as a potentially critical tool when they want to raise short-term rates in the future to fend off broader threats to the economy. Of particular concern for the Fed is finding a way to contain inflation once the trillions of dollars it has sent into the financial system get put to use as loans.
Your Guide to December's FOMC Meeting: Breaking Down the Participants
BY FF WILEY - FinancialSense.com
In "Why the Fed Won't Taper in December," we pretended to write the first paragraph of the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) statement for next week's meeting. By thinking about the likely mix of upgrades and downgrades to its assessment of the economy, which is the crux of that paragraph, we argued that we can find clues to policy decisions. Our results tell us to expect a deferral of the committee's tentative plans to taper its securities purchase program.
What the Volcker Rule Really Does
New regulations won't do much to prevent financial crisis, but they're a step toward shrinking America's megabanks.
By Matthew Yglesias - Slate.com
On Tuesday, more than three years after President Obama signed landmark legislation overhauling American financial regulation, the five regulatory bodies charged with formalizing the so-called Volcker Rule have reached agreement. The rule is a bit of an odd duck—not that intimately related to the financial crisis of 2007-08, but perhaps crucial to the path forward for regulation of the banking sector.
Everything you need to know about the Volcker Rule
A rule to keep banks from gambling with their customers' money may finally be realised after years of resistance from Wall Street
By Heidi Moore - TheGuardian.com
I have successfully avoided reading anything about this Volcker Rule for around three years. Why are you harshing my mellow?
Let's strike a deal: you can resume ignoring the Volcker Rule shortly but pay attention just today, because it's a really important day in the history of US financial regulation, and it could change the way the entire financial system works. So just take a few minutes and then go back to ignoring it.
Part 6 - How Likely Are Bail-Ins? Bank of England Says U.S. "Could Do Today"
by GoldCore - ZeroHedge.com
….However, market participants may again be proved wrong regarding tapering as there is a real risk that the Fed's $85 billion bond buying programme continues. There is even a chance that the Fed's bond buying programme increases due to the very fragile U.S. economy.
The dollar index is trading near a six-week low today as investors evaluate the uncertain outlook for the U.S. economy and dollar in 2014.
BOE Says U.S. "Could Do Today" And U.S Authorities Doing Simulation Exercises
The U.S. already has in place plans for bail-ins in the event of banks failing. Indeed, the U.S. has conducted simulation exercises with the U.K. in recent weeks and will do so again in 2014.
By Robert Reich
About the only good thing that can be said about the budget deal just patched together by House Republican budget chair Paul Ryan and Senate Democratic budget chair Patty Murray is that the right-wing Heritage Foundation and the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity oppose it.
But that doesn't mean it's a good deal for the country. In fact, it's a bad deal, for at least three reasons:
First, it fails extend unemployment benefits for 1.3 million jobless who will lose them in a few weeks. These people and their families are still caught in the worst downturn since the Great Depression.
10yr Auction Post Mortem + 30yr Auction Thoughts
by GovtTrader - ZeroHedge.com
Today the US Treasury auctioned 21bln 10yr notes (re-opened the Nov-2023 issue).
Going into today's 10yr auction, ever since the NFP number at 8:30am on last Friday, the US treasury market has been in short covering mode. There was a markets survey that indicated the active trading participants in the treasury market were extremely short (by over 30% which is huge) a full week before the NFP data was released, and the short position continued to build as we approached NFP. The NFP number was strong (+200k jobs) and so the mkt immediately repriced lower as you would expect. However, the important piece of information was not the NFP number...no, the important information was the mkt's aggregate position (very short going in), because in the end, it is positioning that drives trading activity. So, what would you expect this large community of shorts to do after the market dropped in their favor because of the strong NFP data? If you said "cover their short by buying the market," then you would be correct.
Is This QE Rally Getting Overdone....??
By Harris Kupperman - GoldSeek.com
I've spent my investing career accepting improbable events when the world thinks such events are impossible. I've also spent a lifetime hiding from popular investment ideas. Often, when contemplating unpopular investing ideas, you don't have to get the timing right—you just have to be early enough to be prepared for them and avoid becoming trapped looking the wrong way.
I remember back in early 2009, when I told people that QE would solve all financial problems—at least in the short term. People laughed at me—at the time, the banks in America alone had something like $1 trillion in negative equity and it looked as if the financial system would come apart at the seams.
America's Economy Is Officially Inside-Out
by Umair Haque - HBR.org
This is the first generation of Americans in modern history expected to enjoy lower living standards than their forebears. It is the first generation in modern history whose life expectancy is dwindling. It is the first generation of modern Americans whose educational attainment is declining. It is the first generation of modern Americans who face less opportunity than their parents.
Shorter, nastier, dumber, harder, bleaker. That's the future for not only Americans, but for many in the world's richest countries.
Let me be clear why this is so remarkable. It's not that the great wheel of prosperity is merely decelerating. It is that it actually seems to be turning backwards. The great wheel of progress already ground to a halt—several decades ago, if measured in terms of average incomes. And the real danger now? That it may be beginning to spin—in reverse.
The Fed Balance Sheet: What Is Uncle Sam's Largest Asset?
BY DOUG SHORT - FinancialSense.com
Pop Quiz! Without recourse to your text, your notes or a Google search, what line item is the largest asset on Uncle Sam's balance sheet?
A) U.S. Official Reserve Assets
B) Total Mortgages
C) Taxes Receivable
D) Student Loans
The correct answer, as of the latest quarterly data, is — Student Loans.
The rapid growth in student debt has been an ongoing topic in the financial press. One stunning chart that continues to haunt me illustrates the rapid growth in federal loans to students since the onset of the great recession. Here is a chart based on data from the Financial Accounts Table L.105, which shows the Federal Government's assets and liabilities.
Israel's Fischer Said to Be Top Choice for Fed Vice Chairman
By Julianna Goldman, Phil Mattingly and Alisa Odenheimer - Bloomberg.com
Former Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer is PresidentBarack Obama's leading candidate to become vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, people familiar with the selection process said.
Fischer, 70, would replace Janet Yellen as the Fed's No. 2 official, according to the people, who asked for anonymity because the decision isn't final. There are no plans by the White House to announce the choice this week, one of the people said.
JPMorgan's Dimon Says Banks to Reprice Products
By Hugh Son and Dawn Kopecki - Bloomberg.com
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimonsaid banks will have to charge more for lending to get a "fair return" as regulators require the industry to set aside more funds to cushion against losses.
"I don't think that you're going to have all these banks around the world holding this amount of capital and the revolvers will cost the same," Dimon, 57, said today at an investor conference sponsored by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in New York. Revolving loans and repurchase agreements are among products that "use a lot of balance sheet" and will have to be repriced, he said.
Ministers edge toward bank resolution deal after marathon talks
BY BENJAMIN FOX - EUObserver.com
BRUSSELS - EU finance ministers have edged closer to a deal on rules to wind up stricken banks, following more than 12 hours of talks in Brussels.
After a marathon meeting went on well into the early hours of Wednesday (11 December), ministers emerged with the outline of a compromise that would accommodate German concerns about the prospect of a common eurozone fund to cover bank resolution costs.
Ireland becomes first euro country to quit bailout programme
BY BENJAMIN FOX - EUObserver.com
BRUSSELS - Ireland will become the first eurozone country to exit a bailout programme, after deciding that it will not request a temporary credit line when its €85 billion rescue finishes on 15 December.
The move will bring to an end a three-year programme that has seen the country put in place over 250 separate austerity measures.
EU officials had kept open the possibility of establishing a temporary credit line as the country eased itself back onto the debt markets.
The ECB's Bridge Too Far
By Barry Eichengreen - Project-Syndicate.org
BERKELEY – Is Europe's economic crisis mutating once again? If debt fears are now being superseded by the danger of deflation, as recent data suggest, the European Central Bank has its work cut out for it – and there is nothing to suggest that it is up to the task.
CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphThe numbers are alarming. Core inflation (the consumer price index after excluding volatile food and energy prices) in the eurozone fell to an annual rate of 0.8% in October – a 47-month low – while producer prices fell by 0.5%, suggesting that deflation is already in Europe's economic pipeline. Annual growth of M3 money supply, meanwhile, dropped to 1.4% in October, from an already dismal 2% in September, while loans to the private sector contracted by 2.9% year on year. All of this makes it remarkable that the best the ECB could do at its December meeting was stand pat.
HEALTH CARE, MEDICINE, AHCCA (OBAMACARE)
Sebelius Says She Would Have Delayed Obamacare Rollout
Numerous issues with law remain
BY: Andrew Evans - FreeBeacon.com
President Barack Obama's top healthcare lieutenant told Congress Wednesday morning that she would have delayed the rollout of Obamacare if she had the information she has now.
Republicans peppered Kathleen Sebelius, secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, with questions during her testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Health subcommittee, the committee with primary jurisdiction over the Affordable Care Act.
"I would have probably done a slower launch, maybe with fewer people," Sebelius admitted to Rep. Fred Upton (R., Mich.), chairman of the full committee.
Sebelius calls for review of Obamacare rollout woes
By Tom Howell Jr.-The Washington Times
President Obama's top health official said Wednesday she directed her agency's inspector general to investigate the flawed rollout of the federal website tied to Obamacare, which has cost $677 million and is gaining enrollees after an extensive effort to patch up software problems and add capacity.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the actions before members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee at a contentious hearing on the wobbly implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Taxpayers Shell Out $14,000 per Obamacare "Enrollee"
$5.2 billion for just 364,682 "enrollees"
by John Kartch - ATR.org
In her testimony before Congress today, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius provided an updated dollar amount for the cost of HealthCare.gov: $677 million. In addition to the $677 million spent on the federal Obamacare website, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has shoveled $4.5 billion of taxpayer money to promote Obamacare on the state level.
DOMESTIC NEWS, REAL ESTATE, EDUCATION, JOBS
American dream dying, but many see free market as solution
By Cheryl K. Chumley-The Washington Times
The widening income gap between the rich and the poor is killing the American dream, say respondents in a new Bloomberg poll.
And the margin of those thinking that way was nearly two to one, Bloomberg said.
"There's a lot of policies that make it easier for the right to get richer and the poor to go nowhere," Ryan Sekac, 26, a mechanical engineer from Rhode Island, told Bloomberg.
Businesses Stung by $15-an-Hour Pay
Small Businesses Discuss the Problems Posed by a Rising Minimum Wage
By SARAH E. NEEDLEMAN And DANIEL LIPPMAN - WSJ.com
With 40 employees and less than $5 million in annual revenue, the franchise hotel in SeaTac, Wash., could be the typical American small business. But the Holiday Inn Express will soon have to give most of its staff pay raises that are anything but routine.
Officials in SeaTac, which is 10 square miles nestled between Seattle and Tacoma and consists of an airport and its surroundings, confirmed this month that it will raise the minimum wage for many workers to $15 an hour starting in January. That's a 63% increase and the highest municipal minimum wage in the nation.
The "Small" Solution to a Big Tax Problem
by Marc Faber - DailyReckoning.com
If the government levies taxes on landowners, retailers, corporations, and individuals, it is far from certain that the targeted interest groups will actually pay the tax. Depending on a variety of factors, they may be able to roll over or shift the tax to other people (tenants, consumers, workers, etc.) either partly or entirely. As Alfred Marshall said: "There is scarcely any economic principle which cannot be aptly illustrated by a discussion of the shifting of the effects of some taxes."
The Swedish Nobel Laureate, economist, sociologist, and politician Karl Gunmar Myrdal also contended that the results of taxes can "diverge greatly" from the intentions. (All government interventions in free markets lead to unintended consequences.) This was already obvious to David Ricardo, who commented: "Almost all taxes on production fall finally on the consumer."
The Race for Faster Delivery of Everything
By TOM GARA - WSJ.com
From the WSJ's Shelly Banjo, reporting today on the next big project for Home Depot:
The retailer plans to spend at least $300 million on supply chain, technology and online improvements in the fiscal year that begins in February, including building new fulfillment centers and overhauling its warehouse technology systems. It plans to open three new fulfillment centers in California, Atlanta and Ohio over the next two years.
The moves are aimed at boosting online sales, including a same-day delivery service aimed at customers and professional contractors who might be in the midst of a home improvement product and want lumber, tiles or screws in a matter of hours
Where's the 1st amendment when you need it?...
JUDGE TO COLORADO BAKER: SERVE GAY WEDDING OR PAY FINES
By Benjamin Brophy - Spectator.org
A baker in Colorado has been ordered by a judge to serve a gay couple despite his religious objections. This story is the latest in a series of legal skirmishes between religious business owners and gay rights advocates. Our legal system seems to be working through how to balance historic religious liberty privileges with expanded rights for gay couples. Of particular interest from this story was the following:
The order from administrative law judge Robert N. Spencer said Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver discriminated against a couple "because of their sexual orientation by refusing to sell them a wedding cake for their same-sex marriage.".
Detroit's Emergency Manager Threatens Pension Fund Takeover; Blame the Unions
Posted By Mike "Mish" Shedlock - FreedomOutpost.com
Kevyn Orr said in a recent interview that at the current pace, the city's General Services System pension fund could lose its ability to pay pensions owed to current and future retirees within 12 years. A takeover is a "right, if not an obligation, that I have to consider under the statute, and we're considering that right now," he said.
Representatives of the pension board said Mr. Orr's figures were faulty.
Budget Deal Hits Military Retirees with Pension Cuts, Federal Retirees Untouched
Cost of living adjustments will decrease for retired military personnel, not for civilian retirees
BY: Elizabeth Harrington - FreeBeacon.com
Military retirees will see a decrease in their pension plans if the bipartisan budget agreement is adopted, while civilian federal employees will be exempt.
Under the budget agreement crafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D., Wash.), military retirees younger than 62 will receive 1 percentage point less in their annual cost-of-living adjustment.
Now That Obama Is Allowing Chicken From China, What Will That Do To The Chicken Industry?
By Michael Snyder - TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com
Do you know what is in your chicken nuggets? Thanks to Barack Obama, that is going to be a more important question than ever. At the end of August, the Obama administration quietly decided to start allowing Chinese poultry processors to ship processed chicken into the United States. For now, the meat must originate either in the United States or in another country where the poultry population has been certified to be safe. What that means is that chickens from the United States will be shipped all the way over to China, processed in plants over there, and then shipped back across the Pacific Ocean for us to eat. Only a limited number of companies are expected to take advantage of this, but according to U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, a USDA report that Congress has seen indicates that China will likely be allowed to directly import their own chickens into this country "within a year". What makes all of this even more disturbing is that a country-of-origin label will not be required on any of the chicken that is processed in China. So in the years ahead you could be eating chicken processed in China and not even know it.
POLITICS, OP/ED, GOV WATCH, GLOBALISM, RELIGION
The Republican Civil War Is Getting Bloodier
Even as their political prospects brighten for 2014, Republicans are at odds with each other.
By Josh Kraushaar - NationalJournal.com
Glen Bolger, one of the Republican party's leading pollsters, told the Washington Post today that the Republican party needs to stop being the "dysfunctional equivalent of the Washington Redskins."
If anything, Bolger was being too generous. The ongoing Republican soap opera between the so-called establishment and the emboldened conservative grassroots is even more chaotic than the latest drama between Mike Shanahan, Dan Snyder and RG3.
Why John Boehner And Paul Ryan Should Immediately Resign
By Michael Snyder - EndOfTheAmericanDream.com
Thomas Jefferson once said that "the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale." In other words, he believed that government debt was the equivalent of stealing money from future generations on a massive scale. Right now, the U.S. government is stealing roughly $100,000,000 from future generations of Americans every single hour of every single day. And it is being projected that the U.S. national debt will more than double during the 8 years of the Obama administration. In other words, the federal government will pile more debt on to the backs of our children and our grandchildren during the Obama years than had been accumulated during all of the rest of U.S. history combined. The federal government is literally destroying the future of America, and what we are doing to our children and our grandchildren is beyond criminal. If there was one thing that the Republicans in Congress were supposed to do, it was to do something about all of this debt. These days Republicans can't seem to agree on much, but the one issue that virtually all "conservatives" were supposed to agree on was the national debt. The American people gave the Republicans control of the House in 2010 and 2012 for a reason. Unfortunately, nothing has been done. Our debt has continued to spiral out of control and now John Boehner and Paul Ryan are pushing a "budget deal" that will essentially give the free-spending Democrats virtually everything that they want for the next 10 years. That is why John Boehner and Paul Ryan should immediately resign.
GM ends Australian production; 3,000 jobs to go
By Rob Taylor - MarketWatch.com
General Motors Co., ending months of speculation, said on Tuesday it would cease all production in Australia, reflecting an accelerating shift by auto makers to leave what has become a high-cost country for foreign manufacturers.
The U.S. auto maker said it plans to take a between $400 million and $600 million charge to earnings in its fourth quarter to discontinue vehicle and engine manufacturing in Australia. The decision will result in nearly 3,000 job losses.
Putin the Perónist
by Nina L. Khrushcheva - Project-Syndicate.org
MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin has been compared to many strongmen of the past – Joseph Stalin, Leonid Brezhnev, and Chile's Augusto Pinochet, to name a few. But, after nearly 14 years in power, perhaps the best comparison now may be a transgender cross between the former Argentine leader Juan Perón and his legendary wife, Eva ("Evita").
CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphIn the early 1940's, Colonel Perón, as Minister of Labor and Secretary of War, was a "gray cardinal" to Argentina's rulers. Before communism collapsed in 1989, Colonel Putin, also memorably gray, was a devoted KGB operative, entrusted with spreading disinformation and recruiting Soviet and foreign agents in East Germany.
Pope Francis is Time magazine 'Person of the Year'
By Tim Rostan - MarketWatch.com
Besting stiff competition, as well as the Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad and the calculatedly scandalous singer Miley Cyrus, Pope Francis has been named Time magazine's "Person of the Year."
Calling Francis, the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio, "the people's pope," the magazine says that what makes this pontiff so significant is "the speed with which he has captured the imaginations of millions who had given up on hoping for the church at all":
ENERGY, CLIMATE, NATURAL DISASTERS
Is a final Decision on Keystone XL Close at Hand?
By Zachary Fillingham - OilPrice.com
After years of debate, a final decision on the Keystone XL pipeline may be close at hand.
The proposed expansion of the current Keystone pipeline is designed to increase the capacity of crude oil flowing from Alberta's bituminous sands ("oil sands") to the United States. The plan was originally tabled in 2008 and quickly devolved into a nexus of competing political agendas regarding job creation, ecological conservation, energy independence, and climate change.
A New Use for Orange Peels: Squeezing Oil From the Utah Desert
Utah has increased oil output to the highest level in 25 years, but that rising tide also is giving a lift to more exotic plays: petroleum trapped in sand and hard shale rock.
By Chester Dawson - WSJ.com
A boom in oil production Utah has increased the state's output to thehighest level in 25 years, but that rising tide also is giving a lift to more exotic plays: petroleum trapped in sand and hard shale rock.
Eastern Utah has the largest oil sands formation in the U.S. as well as extensive oil shale rock resources—not to be confused with the shale oil extracted from the Bakken formation astride the North Dakota and Saskatchewan border. These have never been economically viable in the U.S., but a combination of advances in technology and higher crude prices has led to several new proposals for open pit mines in and around the sagebrush-covered Uinta Basin.
Fidelity now allows clients to put bitcoins in IRAs
By Saumya Vaishampayan - MarketWatch.com
Fidelity has partnered with SecondMarket's Bitcoin Investment Trust to allow its clients to save for their retirement by putting the virtual currency in self-directed IRAs.
"If you are a Fidelity client, you can now invest in the Bitcoin Investment Trust through an IRA," said Barry Silbert, chief executive of SecondMarket, in an interview.
Bitcoin an Almost Exact Fit to Gold's Historical Chart
By Jeff Desjardins - GoldSeek.com
It is often said that history doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.
Bitcoin, in just nine months, has done something absolutely tremendous in that respect. While increasing in parabolic fashion, it also managed to match up exactly with the 40 year gold chart – even to the most recent correction.
Putting the two charts side by side is simply eerie
Bitcoin's Rise Constrained by Heists and Lost Fortunes
Bitcoin is underpinned by unbreakable codes, but the secret keys that protect personal fortunes are easily lost or stolen.
By Tom Simonite - MIT TechnologyReview.com
A man showed up at a trash heap in Wales last month with an unusual request: he needed help finding a hard drive he had thrown out weeks earlier that held the cryptographic key to 7,500 bitcoins, currently worth over $6 million.
James Howells is unlikely to ever be reunited with that digital cash, and he's far from alone in having lost a fortune in the math-backed currency. Pioneers of Bitcoin are in high spirits due to the currency's rising value and the friendly reception it has received from U.S. regulators (see "Regulators See Value in Bitcoin"). But the ease with which bitcoins can be lost or stolen remains a barrier to mainstream adoption. And no obvious remedy is in sight.
TECHNOLOGY, SCIENCE, PRIVACY, SUPERNATURAL, FUTURISM
Wal-Mart to sell iPhone 5c for $27 with contract on Friday
By Salvador Rodriguez - LATimes.com
As part of a holiday sale starting Friday, Wal-Mart plans to offer the iPhone 5c for $27 with a two-year contract from AT&T or Verizon.
That's a huge discount on the iPhone 5c, a $99 model that Apple introduced just three months ago.
The iPhone 5c has struggled to sell and Wal-Mart has been discounting it since it was released in September. Friday's sale price won't be as good at what Wal-Mart offered on Black Friday -- $45 for an iPhone 5c with a $75 gift card thrown in -- but you'll be hard pressed to find the iPhone 5c for cheaper than $27.
AT&T accused of violating privacy law with sale of phone records to CIA
Consumer advocates want FCC to declare sale of phone records illegal.
by Jon Brodkin - ArsTechnica.com
Consumer advocates have asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to declare that AT&T violated a privacy rule in the Communications Act by selling phone records to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
A report last month said that "AT&T has turned over international calling records to the CIA. The telecom charges the CIA more than $10 million per year in exchange for access to metadata about calls by suspected terrorists overseas."
In response, a group of consumer advocacy groups led by Public Knowledge filed a petition today with the FCC.
NASA Contributes to The Evolution of the Humanoid Robot With "Valkyrie"
This is an update to the ongoing technocratic mission to replace humans with robots.
By Nicholas West - Activist Post
In the age of computers, things evolve exponentially. In just a few generations robots have gone from a scientific fantasy, to a playful curiosity, to entering the battlefield to replace and/or augment their human counterparts.
We are already at the point where we have to consider what the next step of robotic evolution looks like. According to robotics engineers, it appears that at some point in the near future the next step could very well be whatever the next generation robot chooses for itself.
GOOGLE OFFICIALLY ENTERS THE ROBOTICS BUSINESS WITH ACQUISITION OF SEVEN STARTUPS
By: Jason Dorrier - SingularityHub.com
Last year, I visited a warehouse behind a typically fashionable San Francisco café where two startups, Bot & Dolly and Autofuss, were busy making the insanely immersive visuals for the film Gravity (among a host of other projects) using naught but assembly line robots, clever software, and high-def cameras.
A few months later, I found myself in another warehouse—this time some forty minutes south of the city—where robotic arms, built and programmed by Industrial Perception, used advanced computer vision to sort toys and throw around boxes.
What do these companies have in common?
New Wi-Fi Technology Can Track You Through Walls
By Kevin Samson - Activist Post
One of the hallmarks of technology is dual-use capability. It is for this reason that we are softened up with all of the benefits, before being introduced to the darker side. Technology has always been a double-edged sword, but we are witnessing a closure in the gap between good and bad as technology is now advancing at a much higher rate of speed in tandem with a growing global police state.
A few months ago, I remember seeing a story about how a new microwave device could see through rubble to detect the beating heart of people trapped under a collapsed building. I immediately thought, wow that's a good thing ... ohhhh, wait a minute. Seeing through rubble; isn't that the same as seeing through walls?
Google's future: microphones in the ceiling and microchips in your head
By ADAM SHERWIN - Independent.co.uk
"I don't have a microchip in my head – yet," says the man charged with transforming Google's relations with the technology giant's human users.
But Scott Huffman does envisage a world in which Google microphones, embedded in the ceiling, listen to our conversations and interject verbal answers to whatever inquiry is posed.
Huffman, Google's engineering director, leads a team tasked with making conversations with the search engine more reflective of the complex interactions people enjoy with each other.
Mysterious Boom and Lights Startle Arizona Residents
Another Mysterious Boom, This Time In Arizona
By Andrew V Pontbriand - Activist Post
People all over Arizona and even as far as Mexico experienced what they described as a tremendous explosion late last night. Video of mysterious white lights were also caught on camera accompanying the loud booms.
According to KGUN 9, a viewer of theirs named Tony Kubrak said,
My wife and I and my son were sitting in the house, and we felt this absolutely tremendous explosion, I mean, it shook the windows, it shook everything in the house. I stepped outside, and had to be no more than 3 minutes later after I hear all of this, and I see this tremendous, white, bright light in the western sky. And it was just...it was absolutely enormous, I couldn't believe it.
Chinese scientists 'increasingly confident' about invisibility cloak after making a cat disappear
by JAMES VINCENT - Independent.co.uk
Chinese scientists have been described as "increasingly confident" that they will develop the world's first invisibility cloak, with the Chinese government funding at least 40 research teams, one of which recently made a cat "disappear".
The news is the latest in the informal race to develop a working 'invisibility cloak', although it seems that China's chosen animal for experimentation show they have certainly cracked the formula for grabbing the internet's attention.
Mysterious space plane spent a year orbiting Earth on secret mission
By W.J. Hennigan - LATiimes.com
A year after the Air Force blasted it into orbit, an experimental space drone continues to circle the Earth.
Its mission and hush-hush payload, however, remain a mystery.
The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, which looks like a miniature unmanned version of the space shuttle, was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Dec. 11, 2012.
At the time of launch, Air Force officials offered few details about the mission, saying that the space plane simply provided a way to test new technologies in space, such as satellite sensors and other components.
FOREIGN ENTANGLEMENTS, GLOBAL CONFLICT, WARS
US halts aid to Syrian rebels
By Justin Sink -TheHill.com
The White House confirmed Wednesday that the United States has halted aid shipments to rebel groups in Syria.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the administration was "obviously concerned" by reports that the Islamic Front seized headquarters and warehouses belonging to the Supreme Military Council, the rebel organization recognized by the U.S. government.
"As a result of this situation … the United States has suspended all further deliveries of nonlethal assistance into northern Syria," Earnest said.
Is War With China Inevitable?
By Brandon Smith - Alt-Market.com
As a general rule, extreme economic decline is almost always followed by extreme international conflict. Sometimes, these disasters can be attributed to the human survival imperative and the desire to accumulate resources during crisis. But most often, war amid fiscal distress is usually a means for the political and financial elite to distract the masses away from their empty wallets and empty stomachs.
War galvanizes societies, usually under false pretenses. I'm not talking about superficial "police actions" or absurd crusades to "spread democracy" to Third World enclaves that don't want it. No, I'm talking about REAL war: war that threatens the fabric of a culture, war that tumbles violently across people's doorsteps. The reality of near-total annihilation is what oligarchs use to avoid blame for economic distress while molding nations and populations.
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