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When China and Other Big Countries Launch Cryptocurrencies, It Will Kick Off a Global Revolution

Slashdot - 5 hours 31 min ago
There has been a massive rise in the number of bilateral agreements between central banks that allow two countries to swap currencies directly, a large number involving China. Meanwhile, a number of countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, have been repatriating their gold reserves from vaults in the US where they had long been stored. From a report: Yet by comparison, major sovereign digital currencies based on blockchain technology would be revolutionary. Blockchains are encrypted ledgers for storing information that are decentralized rather than being under any country's or company's control. When applied to international payments, this offers the prospect of much more transparent and cheaper transactions than SWIFT. It could cut the payments time lag from a couple of days to one second, and the cost from 0.01% to almost nothing. It will have the capacity to handle far higher volumes of payments, partly since they won't require bank accounts or even internet access. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and XRP have been a good experiment in using blockchains for international payments. Yet when countries issue equivalents of their own, these will have even more advantages. They will be backed by states, and completely decentralized cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin will not be able to compete with this. While technological change has been incredibly fast in the information era, the system of international payments has lagged behind. But once sovereign digital currencies start taking off, this will suddenly change. Just like smartphones quickly eliminated most old cell phones, no countries will be able to reject blockchain payments for long. So while, for example, the US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin recently said that his country does not see itself launching a digital dollar in the next five years, there will be a moment when the political centre of gravity will shift and everyone will join the revolution. After the 5G network and the Internet of Things really mushroom in the next couple of years, it will be possible to replace the existing system even faster. This will be the beginning of a new international monetary era.

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Categories: Geek

What’s Wrong With the Repo Market? A Followup.

Kevin Drum - 5 hours 32 min ago

Back in September I passed along the news that there had been a sudden spike in the overnight repo rate, the interest rate that banks charge each other for overnight loans of cash. On September 16, right at the end of the trading day, there was suddenly a huge unfilled demand for cash, which produced a massive spike in the repo rate from 2 percent to about 10 percent. The Fed stepped in with an injection of cash the next morning, and calm was restored to the market:

So this all had a happy ending. Or did it? At the time, the Fed blamed the spike on “technical factors,” mainly the fact that corporate tax payments were due on the same day that Treasury auctions settled. This produced a sudden need for cash at a time when cash reserves happened to be a little lower than usual.

But here’s the thing: if that were the case, the Fed would have stabilized the market once and that would have been it. In reality, the Fed has continued injecting cash into the repo market continuously for the past three months. Here’s the latest:

The New York Fed added $56.45 billion in short-term liquidity to the financial sector Friday to get markets through the weekend….The Fed has been intervening in markets in the current fashion since mid-September, when short-term rates unexpectedly shot up on a confluence of factors, the biggest of which stemmed from corporate-tax payments and the settlement of Treasury debt auctions.

Fed interventions have calmed markets considerably, even though there remains significant uncertainty about what will happen over the turn of the year, when money-market pressures are expected to rise up, although no one knows by how much….Yet anxiety remains. Ian Lyngen, a market strategist with BMO Capital Markets, told clients in a note that “in spite of the massive scale of this liquidity provision, the year-end turn is still trading around 4%, which is disconcerting and speaks to the level of angst on funding desks.” That said, he reckons the Fed’s latest move should help: “If there was any doubt as to whether the Fed would do everything they could to pump the system full of reserves, [Thursday’s announcement] should calm those fears, even if the regulatory constraints remain.”

Why the continued need for cash? Short-term technical factors can hardly account for it. But here’s one thing to think about: the Fed’s interventions are relatively small compared to the whole repo market, amounting to maybe 5-10 percent of the total. But what are the odds that the overnight repo market would consistently be just 5-10 percent short of demand over a period of months?

I Am Not A Banker, but the odds seem slim to me. A more likely explanation is that the repo market is working fine—for most people, anyway. But there are a few borrowers who are in such parlous shape that no one wants to loan them money for even 12 hours, and it’s these borrowers that the Fed is propping up in hopes that they’ll get their act together and we can avoid any big bank or money market fund failures.

But this is just noodling on my part. No one else seems to be especially worried about this, and perhaps there really is just some glitch in the repo market that’s basically technical in nature and will take a while to fix. Stay tuned.

Categories: Politics

Moscow Mitch gleeful over his wanton destruction of the Senate and the Judiciary

Daily Kos - 5 hours 33 min ago

Moscow Mitch McConnell didn't just casually toss the Constitution into the trash on Sean Hannity's show Thursday when he promised Donald Trump would be in control of his own impeachment hearing. He gloated over his wanton destruction of federal judiciary, laughing at Hannity for saying that he was shocked President Obama left judicial vacancies.

"I'll tell you why," he answered. "I was in charge of what we did the last two years of the Obama administration." Then he laughed.

He laughed over the fact that he single-handedly refused to let the Senate advise and consent on President Obama's judicial nominees. He's laughing over the fact that he left all those vacancies open for Donald Trump. For Trump. Including a Supreme Court seat.

He's now reached an obscene milestone—50 circuit court judges confirmed. Fifty. These are the judges that will send every anti-abortion, anti-civil rights, anti-environment case from the states up to the Supreme Court. For decades to come, because many of them are very young and these are lifetime appointments. He's reached his goal on the circuits, he told POLITICO, and is moving on. "Whatever's on the calendar, I'm going to make every effort I can to clear them all," McConnell said. "We've already […] finished up the circuits. So I'm going to make my best effort to clear the calendar of district judges by the end of the year."

He has been completely undaunted by the fact that a record number of those judges have been deemed "unqualified" by the American Bar Association. They're now up to seven unqualified judges confirmed, including two just confirmed: the "arrogant, lazy ideologue" Lawrence VanDyke, who cried crocodile tears over his ABA rating, and anti-abortion zealot Sarah Pitlyk, who "has never tried a case as lead or co-counsel, whether civil or criminal [and] has never examined a witness."

Moscow Mitch is infesting the federal judiciary with unqualified, bigoted judges and he's proud of it. He thinks it's funny. And he's doing it for Trump, a bigoted, unqualified president. Because it wasn't enough to destroy the Senate. He has to destroy the judiciary, too.

His wanton destruction of the institution of the Senate must be stopped. Please give $1 to our nominee fund to help Democrats and end McConnell's career as majority leader.

Categories: Politics

9to5Mac Daily: December 13, 2019 – Apple News debate, Apple acquires camera startup

9to5Mac - 5 hours 36 min ago

Listen to a recap of the top stories of the day from 9to5Mac. 9to5Mac Daily is available on iTunes and Apple’s Podcasts app, Stitcher, TuneIn, Google Play, or through our dedicated RSS feed for Overcast and other podcast players.

Sponsored by Nanoleaf: Nanoleaf is ushering in a new era of beautifully personalized lighting experiences. Visit nanoleaf.me/9to5Mac for more info on exclusive deals for Nanoleaf’s Design Kits, Twin Packs and Starter Kits.


https://9to5mac.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2019/12/9to5Mac-Daily-12-13-2019.mp3

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Categories: Geek

Apple TV+ series ‘Ghostwriter’ featurette shows the importance of ‘Literature’

iDownloadBlog - 5 hours 37 min ago

Apple TV+ has shared a new featurette entitled "Literature" for the series "Ghostwriter".
Categories: Geek

iMac Pro can drive Apple’s new Pro Display XDR monitor, but at a lower 5K resolution

iDownloadBlog - 5 hours 40 min ago

Only a few Mac computers models have the bandwidth required to drive Apple's new 32-inch display at its native 6K resolution, but the iMac Pro all-in-one isn't one of them.
Categories: Geek

Salvadoran asylum-seeker forced to wait in Mexico under inhumane Trump policy kidnapped, murdered

Daily Kos - 5 hours 59 min ago

A Salvadoran asylum-seeker who had been forced to wait out his case in Mexico for four months under inhumane and illegal Trump administration policy was kidnapped and murdered last month, The New York Times reports. “Mexican authorities said the man was ‘dismembered’ and they are investigating the circumstances surrounding his death.”

Despite a false claim from Homeland Security that Migrant Protection Protocols, or Remain in Mexico, has “successfully provided protections” to returned asylum-seekers, human rights leaders said violence against them has surged, documenting nearly 640 cases to date. Nearly 140 of these instances have involved kidnappings. The administration’s policy has been a boon to thugs and cartels, who’ve stooped to targeting asylum-seekers as they’re being sent to Mexico or trying to return to the U.S. for court dates in order to extort them or relatives. 

The asylum-seeker, whose identify has not been revealed to protect his widow and two children, had found work at a pizzeria when he was targeted, kidnapped, and killed. "They sent us back,” his widow said. “We said Tijuana was really dangerous, there was a lot of crime but they didn't listen to us. They said that they couldn't do anything because those were Trump's orders.” Some public servants have recognized Trump’s orders are illegal, however. 

Doug Stephens, believed to be the first asylum officer to formally refuse to implement Remain in Mexico, said last month that the policy “is violating numerous domestic and international laws by sending people back and causing this harm.” He said he knew he could no longer do his job when “it seemed clear” someone he was interviewing would be harmed if they were returned to Mexico, but he was told by a superior to reject the claim. “I was not really surprised,” he said. “The interviews as they’re structured are clearly designed to make individuals fail and send everyone back without really giving them a fair shot.”

The asylum-seeker’s widow said they were trying to do everything right by doing what they were told to do, but this is a system that’s not set up to implement asylum law: It’s set up to block it, and at horrific human costs. “We didn't cross over illegally, we crossed over the right way, we waited our turn to do things right,” she said. “That's why this is so unfair.” NBC News San Diego reports that only now is the family in San Diego, with their attorney working to have them placed with relatives in San Francisco.

Categories: Politics

iDB’s 2019 Holiday Gift Guide

iDownloadBlog - 6 hours 5 min ago

Welcome to our 2019 Holiday Gift Guide, where you'll find gifts for everyone on your list—including yourself.
Categories: Geek

Windows 10 Mobile Reaches End of Support

Slashdot - 6 hours 11 min ago
We've known Windows 10 Mobile has been a dead platform for years now. Even Microsoft themselves have been telling people they need to switch to Android or iOS. But yesterday, we saw the final blow to Microsoft's mobile OS -- it officially reached its end of life and is no longer supported. From a report: There is some good news for the two of you still running Windows 10 Mobile though. The platform's office apps will receive updates and security patches until January 12, 2021. This includes Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. That means you still have a little more time before you absolutely need to migrate to another mobile platform if you just can')t break your Windows 10 Mobile addiction. Though we still recommend you take the leap as soon as possible.

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Categories: Geek

Trump wants to give Zelensky that White House meeting, now that it would be a 'perfect' photo-op

Daily Kos - 6 hours 12 min ago

On Thursday, Republicans made up two whole new excuses for Donald Trump withholding funds from Ukraine, which is handy for Republicans who want to pretend they’re not defending a grave threat to national security without cause. However, Trump himself doesn’t seem to give a damn. While Republicans are defending Trump using claims that he never bothered to make, Trump isn’t interested in defense. Instead, Mr. “Perfect phone call” is out there trying show that he has noting to defend.

One step in that is something that did come up repeatedly in Thursday’s impeachment hearings. Republicans are claiming that since Ukrainian officials stated that they did not feel pressured by Trump, there can be “no crime.” To back that up, The Daily Beast reports that Trump wants to bring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the United States to not just give him that White House meeting that he’s so far been denied, but to give Zelensky a tour of U.S. liquefied natural gas producers.

The goal is to push back against the idea that holding up a meeting that Zelensky long desired was ever part of the extortion Trump was conducting in Ukraine. Republicans have trotted out a court case in which they claim that a meeting isn’t sufficient to be the subject of a bribery charge, while ignoring the fact that it was a very different kind of meeting in a very different context. But Trump is planning to … trump them, by simply moving the needle to “see, he got that meeting after all,” and, Trump will claim, America even got a trade deal out of it—one sure to create millions, and millions of millions, of jobs. 

That this meeting is happening not just after Trump was caught with his hand in the Ukraine jar but after he’s actually been impeached by the House won’t matter to the claims made by Republicans. After all, they’re already claiming that the release of the military assistance had nothing to do with the fact that Trump had just been definitively, and decisively put on notice.

And as Republicans made absolutely clear in Thursday’s hearing, if you mention that someone is a hostage who is being forced to make a statement they don’t agree with, it’s an insult … to the hostage.

Categories: Politics

You can now ask Alexa to play Apple Podcasts on your Echo-enabled speaker

iDownloadBlog - 6 hours 16 min ago

Amazon and Apple today expanded their existing partnership that enables Echo owners to use Apple Music by introducing support for Apple Podcasts.... Read the rest of this post here "You can now ask Alexa to play Apple Podcasts on your...
Categories: Geek

AT&T’s 5G network launches in ten cities in the U.S.

iDownloadBlog - 6 hours 23 min ago

AT&T has launched its 5G network for consumers, along with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G.
Categories: Geek

You can now ask Alexa to play Apple Podcasts on Amazon Echo speakers

9to5Mac - 6 hours 42 min ago

Apple has partnered with Amazon to launch support for Apple Podcasts on Amazon Echo devices. Starting today, Echo owners in the United States can ask Alexa to play any of the 800,000 shows in the Apple Podcasts directory.

To set up the integration, Echo customers must first link their Apple ID in the Alexa app. As well as asking Alexa to play a specific show, playback progress will automatically sync with all of your Apple Podcasts app across iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac.

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Categories: Geek

Mathematician Proves Huge Result on 'Dangerous' Problem

Slashdot - 6 hours 51 min ago
Mathematicians regard the Collatz conjecture as a quagmire and warn each other to stay away. But now Terence Tao has made more progress than anyone in decades. From a report: It's a siren song, they say: Fall under its trance and you may never do meaningful work again. The Collatz conjecture is quite possibly the simplest unsolved problem in mathematics -- which is exactly what makes it so treacherously alluring. "This is a really dangerous problem. People become obsessed with it and it really is impossible," said Jeffrey Lagarias, a mathematician at the University of Michigan and an expert on the Collatz conjecture. Earlier this year one of the top mathematicians in the world dared to confront the problem -- and came away with one of the most significant results on the Collatz conjecture in decades. On September 8, Terence Tao posted a proof showing that -- at the very least -- the Collatz conjecture is "almost" true for "almost" all numbers. While Tao's result is not a full proof of the conjecture, it is a major advance on a problem that doesn't give up its secrets easily. "I wasn't expecting to solve this problem completely," said Tao, a mathematician at the University of California, Los Angeles. "But what I did was more than I expected." Lothar Collatz likely posed the eponymous conjecture in the 1930s. The problem sounds like a party trick. Pick a number, any number. If it's odd, multiply it by 3 and add 1. If it's even, divide it by 2. Now you have a new number. Apply the same rules to the new number. The conjecture is about what happens as you keep repeating the process. Intuition might suggest that the number you start with affects the number you end up with. Maybe some numbers eventually spiral all the way down to 1. Maybe others go marching off to infinity. But Collatz predicted that's not the case. He conjectured that if you start with a positive whole number and run this process long enough, all starting values will lead to 1. And once you hit 1, the rules of the Collatz conjecture confine you to a loop: 1, 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, 1, on and on forever.

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Categories: Geek

Apple Pro Display XDR works with iMac Pro, but with limitations

9to5Mac - 7 hours 4 min ago

Apple shared which Macs will be compatible with the Pro Display XDR and very notably, the iMac Pro wasn’t on the list. However, we’ve got confirmation today that it will work, but with a limitation.

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Categories: Geek

House Judiciary Committee passes articles of impeachment against Trump

Daily Kos - 7 hours 7 min ago

After an overnight break, the House Judiciary Committee returned Friday morning and quickly voted through two articles of impeachment—abuse of power and obstruction of Congress—on party-line votes. Both articles passed 23 to 17, with Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu absent due to illness.

This vote sets up a vote in the full House as soon as next week.

Categories: Politics

McConnell: 'No difference between the president's position and our position' on impeachment

Daily Kos - 7 hours 15 min ago

Moscow Mitch McConnell isn't even going to bother with the pretense of having a real impeachment trial in the Senate. They'll have a trial, but it's going to be the defendant who is running the show. He told Sean Hannity so on Fox News Thursday night, making it very it clear: "Everything I do during this, I'm coordinating with White House Counsel. There will be no difference between the president's position and our position as to how to handle this."

That's following a strategy session McConnell had with Trump's White House counsel Pat Cipollone where the two "sketched out a plan […] to coordinate closely for an impeachment trial but haven't reached agreement on a final strategy to defend Trump against charges of high crimes and misdemeanors, according to two sources familiar with the conversation." Because McConnell sees his role as defending Trump against the charges, even though he's one of the jury.

He couldn't be more blatant if he tried. Every move he makes, he told Hannity, will be "in total coordination with the White House counsel."

Here is the oath Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will administer to McConnell and every other senator before the hearing, the oath they will all swear to: "I solemnly swear […] that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald J. Trump, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God." Impartial justice. That's what he's required by the Constitution and will swear to deliver.

Throwing that in the trash isn't enough for McConnell. He had to add a not-so veiled threat to his Republican senators on top of it. "There's no chance the president will be removed from office," McConnell told Hannity. "My hope is there won't be a single Republican who votes for these two articles of impeachment."

His wanton destruction of the institution of the Senate must be stopped. Please give $1 to our nominee fund to help Democrats and end McConnell's career as majority leader.

Categories: Politics

As Republicans scream about bipartisanship in impeachment debate, think about the Voting Rights Act

Daily Kos - 7 hours 19 min ago

House Republicans keep insisting that if impeachment is not bipartisan, it’s illegitimate. Let’s talk about that. First, of course, a House Republican did come out for impeachment, months ago. The fact that Freedom Caucus co-founder Justin Amash is no longer a Republican is exhibit one in how tightly Republicans have closed ranks against any criticism of Donald Trump. But there’s another recent House vote that tells us what we need to know about Republicans and bipartisanship: the Voting Rights Advancement Act.

The recent passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore the Voting Rights Act protections dismantled by the Supreme Court came on a nearly party-line vote. Just one Republican, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, voted for it.

In 2006, a Republican-controlled House passed the last update to the Voting Rights Act with 192 Republican votes. It went on to pass the Senate unanimously and be signed by then-President George W. Bush. All that Republican support has disappeared, and it’s not because the question of voting rights has changed so much. It’s because of what the Republican Party—already a hard-right party in the W. era—has become.

Something that had broad bipartisan support in 2006 is now a partisan issue. Only Democrats want to protect the voting rights of people of color. Republicans are opposed. Does that Republican opposition mean that voting rights are illegitimate because it’s not bipartisan? So when Republicans point to their own opposition to impeachment to say that impeachment cannot possibly be acceptable in a democracy, consider the question of voting rights. This is the Republican standard these days: furious opposition to anything that might weaken Republican electoral prospects. 

Categories: Politics

Mozilla To Force All Add-on Devs To Use 2FA To Prevent Supply-Chain Attacks

Slashdot - 7 hours 19 min ago
Mozilla announced this week that all developers of Firefox add-ons must enable a two-factor authentication (2FA) solution for their account. From a report: "Starting in early 2020, extension developers will be required to have 2FA enabled on AMO [the Mozilla Add-Ons portal]," said Caitlin Neiman, Add-ons Community Manager at Mozilla. "This is intended to help prevent malicious actors from taking control of legitimate add-ons and their users," Neiman added. When this happens, hackers can use the developers' compromised accounts to ship tainted add-on updates to Firefox users. Since Firefox add-ons have a pretty privileged position inside the browser, an attacker can use a compromised add-on to steal passwords, authentication/session cookies, spy on a user's browsing habits, or redirect users to phishing pages or malware download sites. These types of incidents are usually referred to as supply-chain attacks.

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