Category Archive : Politics

A “Digital Iron Curtain” Could Lead to “Real War” Between China and the U.S.

Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant the U.S. government fears could be used by the Chinese government to spy and sabotage infrastructure, is a crucial contributor to the development of fifth-generation (5G) mobile networks worldwide. Yet, Washington’s fear led the Commerce Department to add Huawei to its “entity list” in May 2019, forbidding Huawei to buy U.S. goods without permission from the government.

Huawei, which is the world’s biggest seller of telecommunications equipment like new 5G network infrastructure and second-largest smartphone maker, is based in Shenzhen, China. It helps connectivity in some rural areas in the US. Read More

Ship Attacks in Gulf of Oman, Which US Blamed on Iran, Have Had Little Impact on Oil Prices

Despite increased tensions in the Middle East between the Iranian Republic and the U.S. over attacks on two ships in the Strait of Hormuz, crude oil was down for the week. President Donald Trump said that Iran was behind attacks on two fuel tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

“It was them that did it,” Trump said on Fox. “We will see what happens. We are being very tough on sanctions … We’re going to see how to stop (it),” Trump said, before claiming that because of his policies “they are pulling back from everywhere.”

The President did not outline his plans for a response, and neither did Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who cited intelligence, the weapons that were used, and the sophistication of the attack as evidence for Iran’s involvement in the assault against “freedom-loving nations.” Read More

Bitcoin User from Iran: “Bitcoin is the Only Option We Have”

Ziya Sadr spoke with Let’s Talk Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency podcast, about the importance of Bitcoin in Iran. He discussed how it allows great financial freedom for the Iranian people, and how Bitcoin is superior to other cryptocurrencies in Iran.

“The thing about bitcoin is that we are on equal ground with the rest of the world and that is nice for a change,” Mr. Sadr, who is 25 years old, told the long-serving podcast. “We’ve never been on equal ground. We’ve had inflation, we’ve been sanctioned by the whole world. With Bitcoin, we are on equal ground with the rest of the world and this is kind of new.” Read More

Jim Rogers: “Cryptocurrencies are Going to Disappear and Go to Nothing.” The Reason Why Might Shock You.

Jim Rogers believes governments will interfere with the rise of bitcoin and cryptocurrency, but not blockchain.

“The blockchain has a great future,” the famous investor told BBLOKK OFFICIAL. “Blockchain is changing everything we know, and it’s going to change even more. A lot of people are going to lose their job because of blockchain, but a lot of people lost jobs because of electricity, and electricity turned out to be a good thing for all of us; likewise with blockchain.” Read More

Analysis: Human Civilization Could Collapse by 2050

Human civilization will collapse by 2050, according to an Australian climate change analysis endorsed by a former Australian defense chief and senior royal navy commander.

According to the analysis, which was published by the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, a think-tank based in Melbourne, Australia, climate change is “a current and existential national security risk” that “threatens the premature extinction of Earth-originating intelligent life or the permanent and drastic destruction of its potential for desirable future development.” Read More

As AMLO’s MORENA Party Wins Big in Mexico Election, Trump’s Tariffs Loom

The National Regeneration Movement, known as MORENA and led by Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), won two governorships and many local elections in yesterday’s vote, which took place in six Mexican states.

The elections underscore AMLO’s popularity nearly one year after he easily won the Presidency, and his party won majorities in both houses of Congress. No Mexican President since 1997 has won such a broad mandate.

The vote marks the first since AMLO’s inauguration in December. MORENA won governorships in Baja California and Puebla. It also won mayoral offices and seats in statehouses. Read More

China Threatens to Cut U.S. Off From Rare Earth Minerals

Beijing is threatening to cut Washington off from rare earth minerals, according to media reports in China’s papers that included quotes from the state planning agency. The stocks of rare earth producers were up following the news.

One newspaper included the Chinese phrase “don’t say I didn’t warn you”, which the country used before it went to war with India. The paper wrote “those familiar with Chinese diplomatic language know the weight of this phrase.” The language, which appeared in the Global Times, a newspaper affiliated with the Communist Party, was also employed ahead of conflict between China and Vietnam in 1979.

The People’s Daily made it clear China would use the elements as retaliation in its trade war. 80% of U.S. rare earth supplies come from China.

The editor-in-chief of the Global Times tweeted that China is “seriously” weighing the restriction of rare earth exports to the U.S. and could also implement countermeasures.




A National Development & Reform Commission official told CCTV that people in the country won’t be happy to see products made as exported rare earths are being used to suppress China’s development. Editorials in the Global Times and Shanghai Securities News took similar stances in their Wednesday editions.

The U.S. is dependent on importing rare earth minerals from China, which are used in electronics, hybrid vehicles, and energy storage systems. The U.S. imports the rare earth materials because it’s cheaper than producing them domestically.

This is driving rare earth stocks up with the help of President Xi Jinping, who visited a plant earlier this month along with his chief trade negotiator with the U.S.

China already raised tariffs on America’s sole producer of rare earths from 10% to 25%. The U.S., however, excluded rare earths from its list of prospective tariffs on roughly $300 billion in Chinese goods.

In December 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order to reduce the country’s dependence on external sources of critical minerals, including rare earths, which was aimed at reducing U.S. vulnerability to supply disruptions.

China’s rare earth market:

  • China Northern Rare Earth Group
  • Minmetals Rare Earth Co.
  • Xiamen Tungsten Co.
  • Chinalco Rare Earth & Metals Co.

Shares of JL Mag Rare-Earth increased by 10% while Innuovo Technology increased by 9.95%. The shares of Australia rare earth miner Lynas also increased by more than 10%.

Lynas Stock May 29

“We’ve been here before,” Fraser Howie, an independent analyst, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Wednesday. China banned the export of rare earth minerals to Japan after Tokyo detained a Chinese fishing trawler captain.

Norway’s exports of salmon plummeted after Beijing curbed them. That move was seen as retaliation to a Norwegian committee’s decision in 2010 to award a Chinese dissident the Nobel Prize.

Facebook Plans Cryptocurrency Amid CrossFit, Fake Accounts, and Pelosi Controversies




While social media giant Facebook is reportedly moving forward with its own cryptocurrency, controversy surrounds the social networking platform this weekend.

CrossFit, which refers to itself as a lifestyle characterized by safe, effective exercise and sound nutrition, has removed its accounts from Facebook and Instagram, calling Facebook “utopian socialists”.

Meanwhile, a video manipulated to make Nancy Pelosi drunk and sluggish has made its rounds on the social media platform. Facebook says the video will remain online.

Facebook has been researching cryptocurrency as part of its entrance into the payments space.
While speaking at F8 last month, Zuckerberg said that sending money should be “as easy as sending a photo.”

The currency, reportedly to be called “GlobalCoin”, has been much discussed, especially as the social media giant brought on blockchain experts from San Francisco-based Coinbase, Mikheil Moucharrafie and Jeff Cartwright to work on compliance.



According to the Financial Times, Facebook met with the Winklevoss twins, who founded crypto exchange Gemini. The Winklevoss twins sued Mark Zuckerberg for allegedly stealing their idea for Facebook.

Facebook, which has invested in at least one blockchain company, has hired payment experts to develop a payment method for its WhatsApp messaging platform.

Plus, when Libra Networks registered its company in Switzerland, it became public that Facebook Global Holdings is a stakeholder therein. The fintech company is set to work on payments, data analytics, and investment activities, as well as house a software lab.

The Silicon Valley-based giant plans on increasing its employees in the European financial centers of London and Dublin.

Its Instagram shopping feature makes purchasing products and managing orders on the photo-sharing app possile, and it makes sense that a native payment solution is in the works.

The US Senate banking committee showed interested. In a letter to Zuckerberg in early May, the banking committee asked for details about the cryptocurrency and how Facebook would protect user data.

CrossFit

Last week, CrossFit accused Facebook of being “utopian socialists” upon leaving Facebook and Instagram. The social network had deleted a group dedicated to a particular type of diet, prompting CrossFit to leave the platforms, claiming Facebook deleted “without warning or explanation the Banting7DayMealPlan”, which advocated a diet aimed at eating “food that is as close to its natural state as possible – free of processing, additives, preservatives, and sugar.”

Facebook ultimately re-instated the group, but in the CrossFit statement, it outlines the reason it will remain off the platforms.

“All activity on CrossFit, Inc.’s Facebook and Instagram accounts was suspended as of May 22, 2019, as CrossFit investigates the circumstances pertaining to Facebook’s deletion of the Banting7DayMealPlan and other well-known public complaints about the social-media company that may adversely impact the security and privacy of our global CrossFit community,” the statement read.

Reason 1: “Facebook collects and aggregates user information and shares it with state and federal authorities, as well as security organizations from other countries.”

Reason 2: “Facebook collaborates with government security agencies on massive citizen surveillance programs such as PRISM,.”

Reason 3: “Facebook censors and removes user accounts based on unknown criteria and at the request of third parties including government and foreign government agencies.”

Reason 4: “Facebook collects, aggregates, and sells user information as a matter of business. Its business model allows governments and businesses alike to use its algorithmically conjured advertising categories as sophisticated data-mining and surveillance tools.”

CrossFit even accused Facebook of censorship.

“Facebook’s news feeds are censored and crafted to reflect the political leanings of Facebook’s utopian socialists while remaining vulnerable to misinformation campaigns designed to stir up violence and prejudice,” it wrote.

The workout regimen added that CrossFit is a “voluntary user of and contributor to this marketplace, can and must remove itself from this particular manifestation of the public square when it becomes clear that such responsibilities are betrayed or reneged upon to the detriment of our community.”

It added: “Common decency demands that we do so, as do our convictions regarding fitness, health, and nutrition, which sit at the heart of CrossFit’s identity and prescription.”

Fake Nancy Pelosi Video

Beyond cryptocurreny and CrossFit, Facebook is also facing criticism over a fake video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif). The video, which has been viewed millions of times, was apparently altered to make her appear drunk and sluggish. While YouTube removed duplicates, Facebook has said the video will remain on its platform.

Facebook agrees the video is “false”, and Monika Bickert, a company vice president for product policy and counterterrorism told CNN the video was reviewed by fact-checking organizations and the social networking platform than reduced its distribution, but did not remove it.

“We think it’s important for people to make their own informed choice for what to believe,” she said. “Our job is to make sure we are getting them accurate information.”

CNN host Anderson Cooper believes the answer is yes and pressed Bickert on her company’s responsibilities.

“You’re making money by being in the news business,” he said. “If you can’t do it well, shouldn’t you just get out of the news business?”

Bickert replied: “We aren’t in the news business. We’re in the social media business.”

But Cooper did not buy into that.

“The reason you’re sharing news is because you make money from it. . . . But if you’re in the news business, which you are, then you have to do it right. And this is false information you are spreading.”

Lawmakers are not happy.

Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) told Facebook to “fix this now!”

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) tweeted: “Facebook is very responsive to my office when I want to talk about federal legislation and suddenly get marbles in their mouths when we ask them about dealing with a fake video. It’s not that they cannot solve this; it’s that they refuse to do what is necessary.”

As well, the company is facing headlines regarding its having deleted 2.2 billion fake accounts from the platform from January to March, which surpasses a record high for the company.

“The health of the discourse is just as important as any financial reporting we do, so we should do it just as frequently,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on a call with reporters on Thursday about the report. “Understanding the prevalence of harmful content will help companies and governments design better systems for dealing with it. I believe every major internet service should do this.”

CBP Officers Can Go Through Credit Card History, Ban For Cannabis-Related Purchases

Travelers arriving at the United States who raise suspicions might now have their cards scanned by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents. Read More

Another Cold War Is Inevitable, This Time With China

A cold war in the 21st-century seemed unlikely… until now.

Tariffs by the United States on $200 billion worth of Chinese products and retaliatory tariffs by China on $60 billion worth of American goods went into effect on Monday.

While the United States and China are competing for global supremacy, they maintain mutual agreements to handle their complicated relationship. But, the tide might be turning…
Read More

Argentine President Says “There’s No Chance Argentina Will Default” With Increased IMF Credit

Mauricio Macri, President of Argentina, stated that a revamped arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will help boost investor confidence in the country after a financial crisis forced South America’s second-largest market to a recession.

“We are working with the IMF and we are going to present something that will bring confidence,” Macri said. “More confidence than what we’ve had in the last 10 days when markets have turned around and things are moving better.” Read More

Betsy-Devos

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. Read More

Dow Surges Despite Trump’s New Tariffs On $200 Billion Worth Of Chinese Goods

The latest tariffs on American and Chinese goods aren’t as severe as expected, making stocks rise on Tuesday. Substantial profits in tech also propelled market gains.

The S&P 500 increased 0.5 percent to close at 2,904.31, headed by buyer discretionary spending and industrials. It is also less than half a percent from its record high. Read More

Geopolitics Driving Gold

(Gold Silver Bitcoin) President Trump warned last week of a  “major, major conflict with North Korea”. He said he’d rather do things diplomatically, though it’d prove “very difficult.”

Trump has made no secret about tensions between North Korea and the US. “There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely,” the president said. “We’d love to solve things diplomatically, but it’s very difficult.”

Trump noted that he was confident in Chinese President Xi Jinping and his attempts to influence the North. The pair met in Florida earlier this month to discuss the situation in the Korean Peninsula.



“I believe he is trying very hard. He certainly doesn’t want to see turmoil and death,” Trump told Reuters. “He doesn’t want to see it. He is a good man. He is a very good man and I got to know him very well. With that being said, he loves China and he loves the people of China. I know he would like to be able to do something, perhaps it’s possible that he can’t.”

White House officials on Wednesday describe North Korea as an “urgent” threat to national security and a “top foreign policy priority.”

Military action by the US would likely snowball into a massive strike from the North on South Korea. North Korea could also attack Japan.




“My problem is that I have established a very good personal relationship with President Xi,” the president said. “I really feel that he is doing everything in his power to help us with a big situation. So I wouldn’t want to be causing difficulty right now for him. So I would certainly want to speak to him first.”

Russia blocked a Security Council statement proposed by the U.S. on Wednesday to condemn North Korea’s missile tests. China supported the measure.

“Russia is slowing this down, and it is not clear why,” the diplomat told CBS News. “The U.S. wanted to get the message out.” North Korea’s failed missile test launch on Sunday added to geopolitical tensions escalating between President Donald Trump and Pyongyang.

By Wednesday, the world learned that military aircraft headed for Australia were not on their way to North Korea, as President Trump had intonated.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday that Washington would work with its allies and China but that United States would meet any attack with an “overwhelming response”.

The first of 1250 US Marines have begun to make landfall  “stand ready to fight” against North Korea.

“I think that the commitment that we’ve taken to put a task force here with a conversation to get larger over the years says that we do think this is an important region,” Lieut. Colonel Middleton said.

“We are seeing once again a little bit of a flight to safety as a result of the news over the weekend of North Korea’s attempted missile test. That’s resulting in a little bit of a weakness in the U.S. dollar,” said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington.

The U.S. military intercepted two Russian bombers in international airspace off Alaska’s coast. A pair of F-22 Raptor aircraft intercepted the Russian TU-95 Bear bombers on Monday, according to Navy Commander Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman said. He called the intercept “safe and professional.”

On Tuesday, at an annual military parade in Tehran, Iran put on display new S-300 air defense missile system, as well as other weapons seen under banners calling for “Death to Israel” in Persian.

President Hassan Rouhani said at the ceremony that Iranian military was “avoiding tensions and encounters” but that it had to “remain vigilant in the face of plots hatched by the others and increase deterrent power.”

Gold has held firm in recent weeks, thanks to tensions surrounding North Korea other geopolitical uncertainty including the upcoming French presidential election. Still, it endured its worst gain in a month on Wednesday, falling 0.8 percent.

Poor U.S. economic data and a lack of confidence for the Trump administration on tax cuts have led to the expectation of faster inflation.

Economic turbulence, extended by President Trump, contributed to safe-haven bids for gold. Unrest in other parts of the world, like Syria and North Korea, also contributed to gold’s higher price.

Gold climbed on Friday, ensuring a monthly gain of more than 1%, as data showing weak U.S. economic growth weighed on the dollar.

The ICE U.S. Dollar Index, which helps measure the dollar, had fallen 0.1% and trading about 1.6% lower for the month.

Exchange-traded funds SPDR Gold Trust increased 0.2%, climing for the month 1.6%. iShares Silver Trust fell 0.2%, down 5.3% for the month. The VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF increased 2.5% Friday,  its monthly loss 1.9%.




Americans Don’t Necessarily Believe Government Statistics (Especially Republicans)

Partisanship determines how people see CBO and government output on government statistics, including the jobless rate and even the Census according a new survey by YouGov. U.S. citizens pick and choose what they believe. Republicans are generally more skeptical of the government. Democrats and Republicans, to be sure, have similar reactions on other government stats.

Related: Donald Trump Said He’d Consider a Gold Standard


A majority of Democrats believe most government statistics are reliable, but less than half of Republicans think so; 42% of Republicans, on the other hand, believe few or no statistics provided by government.

For instance, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that 24 million would lose health insurance under the Republican plan. Neither Democrats nor Republicans believed the government numbers, as 46% of Democrats believed more people will lose health insurance and 46% of Republicans believed fewer people will lose health insurance.

YouGov1

Both parties believe the Census Bureau undercounted how many U.S. in 2010, and many doubt numbers reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, suggesting the agency under-reports the true numbers.
Many Republicans believe the crime rate has increased over the last twenty years. The government says they have decreased.

Republicans and Democrats are both likely to believe government statistics when it comes to warming global temperatures — pluralities in both parties say the NASA and NOAA reports are correct.

YouGov2

However, while three in four Democrats say human activity is the cause, only 29% of Republicans believe this so.

Not much has changed since YouGov did the same survey in January 2015, when 45 percent of Democrats and 19 percent of Republicans saw all or most public statistics as reliable and accurate.

YouGov3

The data is similar to a trend detected by a Marketplace-Edison Research Poll released last fall in which more than 4 and 10 Americans were found to somewhat or completely distrust the federal government economic data.

Nearly half of Americans, and a supermajority of Trump voters, don’t believe unemployment rates, inflation numbers, household spending figures, health insurance coverage rates, gross domestic product growth and other stats.

Image: Shutterstock