Betsy DeVos Loses Student Loan Forgiveness Lawsuit, Indebted Students Still Commiting Suicide

A new ruling from a federal judge means the U.S. Department of Education has delayed student loan forgiveness for some.

The Attorneys general of 19 states, as well as the Districct of Columbia, sued U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education for delaying a borrower protection rule scheduled to take effect on July 1. (more…)

Cloudy Earnings Season Might Spell Troubled Water for Economy

(Gold Silver Bitcoin) Companies aren’t letting investors know what to expect ahead of earnings season. Less than 100 have published their expectations, the least amount since Bloomberg began keeping track in 1999. The latest drop in reports is the quickest on record, down 35% from a year ago. Investors are concerned about a pullback in car sales and a slowdown in merger and acquisition activity.

“There are some warning signs that are getting darker,” said BlackRock’s Larry Fink, in an interview Wednesday on Bloomberg Television.  



Gasoline, wireless telephone services, used cars and trucks, new vehicles and apparel all led the declines in the Consumer Price Index.

March figures for U.S. automakers were less than expected and provided evidence that the U.S.’ boom cycle in car sales could be declining. General Motors Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles shares both declined nearly 4 percent. Ford Motor Co.

Reports indicated that lenders may have been behind the decline in auto sales last month. Verizon Communications Inc reported Thursday that results fell short due to a drop in subscribers paying a monthly bill despite its launch of unlimited data plans. Share declined 2.3% to $47.80 while net income attributable to Verizon dropped to $3.45 billion from $4.31 billion, or $1.06 per share, a year earlier. Total operating revenue fell to $29.81 billion from $32.17 billion a year prior.


After having reached an all-time high on March 1, the S&P 500 Index has been confined to a 55-point range. One week it gains. The next it loses. Deutsche Bank AG showed the Index demonstrated its lowest volatility to begin a new year since 1965.

The US government reported on Friday that price inflation in the US fell for the first time in 13 months (-0.3%). The year over year rate decreased to 2.4%, overshooting the Fed’s goal, but still below the historical average of 3.3%.

Gold suffered its largest one day drop in over six weeks leading into the French presidential election wherein both far-right and far-left candidates could be elected, though centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron apparently is in the lead. The euro increased to a three-week high against the U.S. dollar after Trump made comments that the dollar was too high.

Gold increase 0.16 an ounce to $1,281 an ounce, hitting a five-month high of $1,295.42, then declining. “Even though momentum has been positive there are other factors preventing a quick move higher from here – the sentiment is still that there will be stronger data from the U.S., and yields will probably rise. That will likely limit the upside (for gold),” said ABN Amro analyst Georgette Boele.

Equities increased marginally in Europe and the United States decreased safehaven buying demand behind gold. Holdings of the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, New York-listed SPDR Gold Shares, the world’s largest gold backed exchange-traded fund, increased 11.8 tonnes on Wednesday – their biggest one-day inflow since September.



“While the metal is well positioned for a test of $1,300 with geopolitical concerns underpinning its safe-haven status, the failed tests of $1,290 are beginning to weigh upon investor
confidence,” MKS said in a note.

“Supply will struggle to register any growth, and indeed is likely to show a small decline following unusually high production in Russia in 2016. Demand, on the other hand, will continue to expand,” said Johnson Matthey Precious Metals Management in a quarterly report. “Higher vehicle production, combined with an increase in average catalyst loadings at a global level, will drive autocatalyst demand for the metal to another record level.”

Spot palladium increased 3.2 percent to $799.58 an ounce, on track for its biggest one-day jump since early February. Silver, down 0.4 percent at $18.01, while platinum was up 1.1 percent at $973.24.

The experts are optimistic, expecting 9.7 growth in S&P 500 earnings for the March quarter, 12 percent for the full year. Growth estimates were zero as reporting season drew near.over the past two years.

Fink anticipates a 5-10 percent correction. “If we don’t have earnings validated in these higher P/Es we could adjust downward 5 or 10 percent from here,” Fink said. “If the administration does succeed on some of these items then the market will then reassert itself going higher.”

The data in toto could point towards a bearish economic outlook – an excuse for the FOMC to leave interest rates.

A good sign for safehaven assets like cash, bitcoin, gold and silver.

 

Trump Wants Ride in Queen of England’s Golden Carriage for UK Visit



Donald Trump wants a golden carriage procession down the London Mall during his planned UK visit in October in what police believe will likely be the most extensive public order operation in years.

“If he is in a golden coach being dragged up the Mall by a couple of horses, the risk factor is dramatically increased,” said a source.

Trump

Hundreds of heavily-armed security agents travel with Trump,along with plain-clothed police officers, positioned snipers and firearms officers in the crowds.

The source added: “There may well be protections in that coach such as bulletproof glass, but they are limited. In particular it is very flimsy.”


Image: Shutterstock, The Sun

Inmates Hack Prison’s Computer Network with DIY Computers



Five prisoners in the United States managed to build two personal computers from parts hidden behind a plywood board in the ceiling of a closet of their detention center. The prisoners connected the PC’s to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s (ODRC) network and abused their new found powers.

The actions by the prisoners caused the State of Ohio’s Office of the Inspector General to publish a 50-page report [PDF] about their investigations into the incident this week.

Related: Australian Man Withdrew $2.1 Million Thanks to Bank Error

Ohio Inspector General forensic analysis determined the prisoners issued passes for inmates to gain access to multiple areas within the institution, and used the Departmental Offender Tracking System to steal the personal information of an inmate and apply for five credit cards.

Forensics also found “a large hacker’s toolkit with numerous malicious tools for possible attacks. These malicious tools included password-cracking tools, virtual private network (VPN) tools, network enumeration tools, hand-crafted software, numerous proxy tools, and other software used for various types of malicious activity.”

The prisoners had “self-signed certificates, Pidgin chat accounts, Tor sites, Tor geo exit nodes, ether soft, virtual phone, pornography, videos, VideoLan, and other various software.”

A ODRC technical team reports: “Inmates appeared to have been conducting attacks against the ODRC network using proxy machines that were connected to the inmate and department networks. It appears the Departmental Offender Tracking System portal was attacked and inmate passes were created. Findings of bitcoin wallets, stripe accounts, bank accounts, and credit card accounts point toward possible identity fraud, along with other possible cybercrimes.”

The Ohio Inspector General was tipped off to the actions of the prisoners after the ODRC IT team moved the Marion Correctional Institution from Microsoft proxy servers to Websense.

On July 3, 2015, Websense sent an email alert reporting that a computer on the ODRC network had exceeded daily internet usage threshold. More alerts were forthcoming, warning of “hacking” and 59 regarding “proxy avoidance.”

So, ODRC investigated. The login credentials by the computer were found to be illicit and a search for the computer itself ensued. The computer was found when ODRC employees identified the network switch the PC’s were connected into.

“I was following up on information received from OSC IT department,” an incident report stated. “I had been told there was a PC on our network that was being used to try and hack through the proxy servers. They narrowed the search area down to the switch in P3 and the PC was connected to port 16. I was able to follow the cable from the switch to a closet in the small training room. When I removed the ceiling tiles I found 2 PCs hidden in the ceiling on 2 pieces of plywood.”

The prisoners had gathered the computer parts from Marion’s Correction Institution’s RET3 program, which helps to rehabilitate prisoners by putting them to work breaking PCs into component parts so they can be recycled.

Five inmates were involved, and have since been separated in other correctional facilities, as detailed by the Inspector General report.

ODRC appreciates “the time the Inspector General’s office has taken to conduct these investigations and we have already taken steps to address some areas of concern. We will thoroughly review the reports and take any additional steps necessary to prevent these types of things from happening again.”

It added: “It is of critical importance that we provide necessary safeguards in regards to the use of technology while still providing opportunities for offenders to participate in meaningful and rehabilitative programming.”


Images: Shutterstock

Royal Canadian Mint Releases Coins Celebrating Canada’s 150th Anniversary

 

2017 $10 Fine Silver Coin - Celebrating Canada's 150th - Wild Swift Fox and Pups_ReverseThe Royal Canadian Mint is a favorite coin producer for precious metals investors. Many prefer the Mint’s 24k gold offerings or maybe the .9999 silver bullion. To investor delight, the Royal Canadian Mint unveiled its fourth numismatic line for 2017.

Of note, the Mint celebrates Canada’s 150th anniversary in this line, including an ultra-high relief 10 oz fine silver coin featuring the 1867 Confederation Medal and an obverse of Their Majesties Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II. The new line of coins celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary even features fireworks that light up!



Another 2017 $10 Fine Silver Coin – Celebrating Canada’s 150th: Wild Swift Fox and Pups, features the photography of Saskatchewan’s John E. Marriott.

The 2017 $5 Fine Silver Coin was designed by Tony Bianco and features a traditional Canada Day fireworks display surrounding a colored Canadian flag.

Canadian

The fireworks will light up thanks to the inclusion of glow-in-the-dark technology.