Asia’s Richest Man, Li Ka-shing, Invests in Bitpay

If this is true, it is a stunning piece of news for the Bitcoin economy. According to the South China Morning Post, Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing has made an investment of an undisclosed amount in BTC payment processor Bitpay, a company I have highlighted on these pages on several occasions.

From the South China Morning Post:

Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing has invested in BitPay, the digital currency equivalent of PayPal, through his venture capital company, Horizons Ventures.

A spokeswoman for Horizons Ventures said the group would not comment on the details of the investment.

BitPay said it was “fortunate to have the benefit of many supportive investors, including Horizons Ventures”.

BitPay, founded in May 2011, handles transactions for 14,000 companies across 200 countries. About half are in the United States, with 25 per cent in Europe and 25 per cent in the rest of the world.

Simply incredible.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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Asia’s Richest Man, Li Ka-shing, Invests in Bitpay originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on December 26, 2013.

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from A Lightning War for Liberty http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/12/26/asias-richest-man-li-ka-shing-invests-in-bitpay/
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How Debtors’ Prisons are Making a Comeback in America

Apparently having 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of its prisoners simply isn’t good enough for neo-feudal America. No, we need to find more creative and archaic ways to wastefully, immorally and seemingly unconstitutionally incarcerate poor people. Welcome to the latest trend in the penal colony formerly known as America. Debtors’ prisons. A practice I thought had long since been deemed outdated (indeed it has been largely eradicated in the Western world with the exception of about 1/3 of U.S. states as well as Greece).

From Fox News:

As if out of a Charles Dickens novel, people struggling to pay overdue fines and fees associated with court costs for even the simplest traffic infractions are being thrown in jail across the United States.

Critics are calling the practice the new “debtors’ prison” — referring to the jails that flourished in the U.S. and Western Europe over 150 years ago. Before the time of bankruptcy laws and social safety nets, poor folks and ruined business owners were locked up until their debts were paid off.

Reforms eventually outlawed the practice. But groups like the Brennan Center for Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union say it’s been reborn in local courts which may not be aware it’s against the law to send indigent people to jail over unpaid fines and fees — or they just haven’t been called on it until now.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law released a “Tool Kit for Action” in 2012 that broke down the cost to municipalities to jail debtors in comparison with the amount of old debt it was collecting. It doesn’t look like a bargain. For example, according to the report, Mecklenburg County, N.C., collected $33,476 in debts in 2009, but spent $40,000 jailing 246 debtors — a loss of $6,524.

Don’t worry, I’m sure private prisons for debtors will soon spring up to make this practice a pillar of GDP growth.

Many jurisdictions have taken to hiring private collection/probation companies to go after debtors, giving them the authority to revoke probation and incarcerate if they can’t pay. Research into the practice has found that private companies impose their own additional surcharges. Some 15 private companies have emerged to run these services in the South, including the popular Judicial Correction Services (JCS).

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from A Lightning War for Liberty http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/12/26/how-debtors-prisons-are-making-a-comeback-in-america/
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Jeffrey Lacker: “Fed Has No Interest in Stopping Bitcoin”

While I don’t believe a word the professional criminals at the Federal Reserve say about anything, this is nonetheless an interesting clip from CNBC earlier today. The guest was Jeffrey Lacker, the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

Of course, I do note that after Lacker says his statement about the lack of imminent Fed intervention, he does mumble “at this point” under his breath.

The first thirty seconds is all that’s worth watching.

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Jeffrey Lacker: “Fed Has No Interest in Stopping Bitcoin” originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on December 24, 2013.

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from A Lightning War for Liberty http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/12/24/jeffrey-lacker-fed-had-no-interest-in-stopping-bitcoin/
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McDonald’s Advises its Own Employees to Avoid Fast Food

McDonald’s is simply the gift that keeps on giving. The company’s “McResource” website has made mistake after mistake all year, several of which I have have covered previously, including advice to broke employees to quit complaining, and their publication earlier in the year of budgetary advice that included not using heat and taking on a second job. Well McResource is back, this time essentially telling its employees that the company’s own food is not fit for public consumption.

From CNBC:

McDonald’s employee resources website once again is giving out worker advice that doesn’t seem to fit. This time, it’s about the industry it helped make ubiquitous — fast food.

“Fast foods are quick, reasonably priced, and readily available alternatives to home cooking. While convenient and economical for a busy lifestyle, fast foods are typically high in calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar, and salt and may put people at risk for becoming overweight,” reads one post on the site, which includes a picture of a hamburger and fries, two items that the fast-food giant specializes in selling.

A separate post writes, “it is hard to eat a healthy diet when you eat at fast-food restaurants often,” adding that large portions make it easy to overeat.

The site also advises people to limit how many fries they eat.

Screen Shot 2013-12-24 at 11.03.25 AM

It was the latest in a series of gaffes involving the site.

Last month, the company detailed tipping advice for workers, many of whom make around minimum wage. It listed pricey suggestions for tipping au pairs, personal fitness trainers and pool cleaners from etiquette maven Emily Post — advice it removed after a CNBC inquiry.

McSerfdom.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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McDonald’s Advises its Own Employees to Avoid Fast Food originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on December 24, 2013.

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from A Lightning War for Liberty http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/12/24/mcdonalds-advises-its-own-employees-to-avoid-fast-food/
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The Times of India: “Almost Every Passenger on a Flight from Dubai to Calicut Was Found Carrying 1kg of Gold”

Watching Indian bureaucrats attempt to halt more than one billion human beings’ desire for gold has been one of the more entertaining and pathetic stories of all of 2013. It is one that I have covered on many occasions, the latest being my post from earlier this month:  Gold Smuggling Increases 7x in India and Surpasses Illegal Drug Trade.

Well it appears the trend continues, potentially at an accelerated rate, as we just learned that, incredibly, “almost every passenger on a flight from Dubai to Calicut was found carrying 1kg of gold.” As I have said many times in the past, if an Indian wants their gold, they will have their gold. 

CHENNAI: Faced with curbs on gold imports and crash in international prices leaving it cheaper in other countries, gold houses and smugglers are turning to NRIs to bring in the yellow metal legally after paying duty. Any NRI, who has stayed abroad for more than six months, is allowed to bring in 1kg gold.

It was evident last week when almost every passenger on a flight from Dubai to Calicut was found carrying 1kg of gold, totalling up to 80kg (worth about Rs 24 crore). At Chennai airport, 13 passengers brought the legally permitted quantity of gold in the past one week.

“It’s not illegal. But the 80kg gold that landed in Calicut surprised us. We soon got information that two smugglers in Dubai and their links in Calicut were behind this operation, offering free tickets to several passengers,” said an official. The passengers were mostly Indian labourers in Dubai, used as carriers by people who were otherwise looking at illegal means, he said. “We have started tracing the origin and route of gold after intelligence pointed to the role of smugglers,” he said.

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from A Lightning War for Liberty http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/12/23/the-times-of-india-almost-every-passenger-on-a-flight-from-dubai-to-calicut-was-found-carrying-1kg-of-gold/
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Paul Krugman Spastically and Irrationally Attacks Bitcoin…Here’s My Response

The last aggressive anti-Bitcoin tirade I recall from Paul Krugman was written on April 14th of this year. It was such an irrational piece of drivel that I decided to respond to his Op-ed nearly paragraph by paragraph in my piece, Paul Krugman Goes on the Attack: Calls Bitcoin “Antisocial,” which I strongly suggest you read if you haven’t already.

What is most interesting about that previous article in hindsight is that he wrote it right after Bitcoin experienced its first major crash of 2013 (there have been two thus far, both after greater than 10-fold increases in the price). While I know Krugman periodically attacks Bitcoin, it’s interesting that this latest Bitcoin hit piece also came directly after the second crash. For those who are holders of Bitcoin, this should be taken as a very positive price signal going forward. Krugman’s prior article was written the day before the abolsute low price for the decline was reached at $50/btc on April 15th. It seems that Krugman becomes particularly comfortable slamming Bitcoin only after a price crash.

In any event, his latest Op-ed is almost as bad as the first one, and so I thought it’d be worthwhile to highlight his ignorance, irrationality and blatant use of statist propaganda once again. So let’s go.

From the New York Times:

This is a tale of three money pits. It’s also a tale of monetary regress — of the strange determination of many people to turn the clock back on centuries of progress.

The first money pit is an actual pit — the Porgera open-pit gold mine in Papua New Guinea, one of the world’s top producers. The mine has a terrible reputation for both human rights abuses (rapes, beatings and killings by security personnel) and environmental damage (vast quantities of potentially toxic tailings dumped into a nearby river). But gold prices, while down from their recent peak, are still three times what they were a decade ago, so dig they must.

The second money pit is a lot stranger: the Bitcoin mine in Reykjanesbaer, Iceland. Bitcoin is a digital currency that has value because … well, it’s hard to say exactly why, but for the time being at least people are willing to buy it because they believe other people will be willing to buy it. It is, by design, a kind of virtual gold. And like gold, it can be mined: you can create new bitcoins, but only by solving very complex mathematical problems that require both a lot of computing power and a lot of electricity to run the computers.

In the three paragraphs above, Krugman in employing a strategy that anti-gold people have used for years if not decades. That it is wasteful and environmentally destructive to mine for gold since it has no real purpose. Interesting. What purpose do diamonds have Paul? Did you buy your wife a diamond ring for your engagement? Did you make sure it wasn’t a blood diamond? Aren’t people likely raped and exploited in the mining of diamonds? I wonder how many articles Krugman has written on the destructiveness of diamond mining, a gem that isn’t even rare to begin with.

I tend to notice a huge hypocrisy from statists that in reality hate gold because it is a competing monetary asset, but then attempt to explain away their disdain using another, more publicly palatable rationale such as environmental destruction. After all, gold should get some credit for having at least has two hugely significant historical purposes. It has been valued for both its beauty and durability as jewelry, as well as for its monetary attributes. Diamonds have one primary purpose only recently established due to extensive marketing efforts (also in drills but you get the point), which is as a status or wealth symbol, so you’d think Krugman and other statists would get far more hot and bothered about blood diamonds than gold; but do they? No, they don’t. The hypocrisy is obvious.

The second thing Krugman does in the latest Op-Ed is to take this faux criticism and then attach it to Bitcoin. See the following paragraph:

Hence the location in Iceland, which has cheap electricity from hydropower and an abundance of cold air to cool those furiously churning machines. Even so, a lot of real resources are being used to create virtual objects with no clear use.

No clear use? Really, Krugman? There is nothing useful about essentially costless transfers of value on a peer-to-peer basis? There is no value to monetary transfers that eliminate expensive and parasitic middlemen? There is no value to using a public key as a way to ask for payment, thus reducing  enormous security concerns caused by providing all your private information to hundreds of merchants using credit cards? No value to being able to send millions of dollars across the globe in minutes rather than days? No value to free market currencies competing with state currencies? No value to economic freedom?

There are plenty of valid criticisms of Bitcoin, and a clear and thoughtful expression of those criticisms can only help the marketplace improve free-market crypto currencies in the future. Yet the irrational, ramblings of a statist who clearly hasn’t taken two minutes to objectively analyze Bitcoin is of no use to anyone and a disgrace to a supposedly highbrow newspaper like the New York Times.

His full Op-Ed is here if you have the stomach.

In Liberty,
Mike

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Paul Krugman Spastically and Irrationally Attacks Bitcoin…Here’s My Response originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on December 23, 2013.

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from A Lightning War for Liberty http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/12/23/paul-krugman-spastically-and-irrationally-attacks-bitcoin-once-again/
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Picture of Day: Obama’s Latest Selfie

This is brilliant, accurate and quite sad. No further comment necessary.

Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 2.31.11 PM

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Picture of Day: Obama’s Latest Selfie originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on December 22, 2013.

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from A Lightning War for Liberty http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/12/22/picture-of-day-obamas-latest-selfie/
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How the NSA Paid Security Firm $10 Million to Promote Flawed Encryption

Stories documenting the NSA’s intentional attempt to weaken encryption standards have been floating around for months now, but Reuters put out a story Friday that documents just how far the out of control agency has gone to weaken security for hundreds of millions of computer users.

RSA has been a leader in cryptography ever since it revolutionized the field after its genesis in the 1970s from three MIT professors. The company actually provided a lot of successful pushback against the NSA and the Clinton Administration’s push to introduce the Clipper Chip in the 1990′s, but has completely sold out in recent years as it became more corporatized and many of the technology leaders left. If it is true that the only received $10 million from the NSA, they sold out the American public very cheaply. RSA is now owned by EMC

From Reuters:

Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show that the NSA created and promulgated a flawed formula for generating random numbers to create a “back door” in encryption products, the New York Times reported in September. Reuters later reported that RSA became the most important distributor of that formula by rolling it into a software tool called Bsafe that is used to enhance security in personal computers and many other products.

Undisclosed until now was that RSA received $10 million in a deal that set the NSA formula as the preferred, or default, method for number generation in the BSafe software, according to two sources familiar with the contract. Although that sum might seem paltry, it represented more than a third of the revenue that the relevant division at RSA had taken in during the entire previous year, securities filings show.

The earlier disclosures of RSA’s entanglement with the NSA already had shocked some in the close-knit world of computer security experts. The company had a long history of championing privacy and security, and it played a leading role in blocking a 1990s effort by the NSA to require a special chip to enable spying on a wide range of computer and communications products.

Started by MIT professors in the 1970s and led for years by ex-Marine Jim Bidzos, RSA and its core algorithm were both named for the last initials of the three founders, who revolutionized cryptography. Little known to the public, RSA’s encryption tools have been licensed by most large technology companies, which in turn use them to protect computers used by hundreds of millions of people.

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from A Lightning War for Liberty http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/12/22/how-the-nsa-paid-security-firm-10-million-to-promote-flawed-encryption/
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CNN Claims “Americans Want Security Over Freedom”

Wow, this is straight up insane propaganda at the highest level. He is not even trying to hide the message. CNN’s Jake Tapper just comes out and says it:

I think the American people, honestly, want security over freedom.
– Jake Tapper

Compare that to let’s say, Benjamin Franklin:

Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.
– Benjamin Franklin

That right there demonstrates perfectly how far we have fallen culturally.


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CNN Claims “Americans Want Security Over Freedom” originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on December 21, 2013.

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from A Lightning War for Liberty http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/12/21/cnn-claims-that-americans-want-security-over-freedom/
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Video of the Day: Interview with Coinbase Founder Brian Armstrong

This is one of the most interesting Bitcoin-related videos I have ever watched, and I have watched plenty. Coinbase has been at the center of BTC news as of late after it became the recipient of the largest investment ever in the Bitcoin space when Andreessen Horowitz announced a $25 million capital infusion. I personally set up an account at Coinbase recently and have been very pleased with my experience so far. I feel even more comfortable having watched the founder Brian Armstrong speak in this video. Not only do I like the way his mind works, but I’m impressed that he has a background in both Computer Science and Economics.

The topics in this video are wide-ranging and it answered a lot of my own personal questions. The highlights for me were:

1) The fact that they keep about 95% of customer BTC offline in cold storage (not connected to the internet). They maintain 5% of customer funds in a hot-wallet used to handle normal day-to-day activity. It was also fun to hear the process of how they go about retrieving offline private keys in the case of outsized trading activity.

2) The potential change within the Bitcoin community to move from price quoting per BTC to mBTC (1/1000 of a bitcoin).

3) The fact that they are in discussions with very large merchants about accepting BTC. He thinks 2014 will be a huge year for merchant adoption (recall just yesterday the CEO of Overstock said they would begin accepting it in 2H14).

4) That the creator of Litecoin works for Coinbase.

These are just some of the topics discussed. An absolute must-watch for anyone interested in Bitcoin.


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Video of the Day: Interview with Coinbase Founder Brian Armstrong originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on December 20, 2013.

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from A Lightning War for Liberty http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/12/20/video-of-the-day-interview-with-coinbase-founder-brian-armstrong/
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