Venezuela, Gallery: Stacks of Nearly Worthless Cash Required to Buy Common Items

August 17th, 2018

I’ve been teaching my children about inflation, fiat currencies and the end result of the scam. This photo gallery is excellent for that purpose.

Via: Reuters:

Jittery Venezuelans on Friday rushed to shops and formed long lines in preparation for a monetary overhaul that will remove five zeros from prices in response to hyperinflation that has made cash increasingly worthless.

Shoppers sought to ensure their homes were stocked with food before the measure decreed by President Nicolas Maduro takes effect on Monday, on concerns that confusion among merchants and overtaxed banking systems could make commerce impossible.

Inflation hit 82,700 percent in July as the country’s socialist economic model continues to unravel, meaning purchases of basic items such as a bar of soap or a kilo of tomatoes require piles of cash that is often difficult to obtain.

Related: Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? by Richard J. Maybury


Uncle Sam Wants You: Treasury Depends More on Domestic Bond Buyers

August 17th, 2018

Mmm hmm.

Keep in mind, the Fed can simply monetize the debt, if enough suckers/bond buyers can’t be found. This is similar to check kiting, but since it involves trillions of dollars, they came up with a more innocuous sounding term for the practice: Open Market Operations.

Via: Wall Street Journal:

The U.S. government has been issuing more debt, but it’s not getting more foreign buyers in the door. As a result, U.S. investors have so far financed all of this year’s increase in the federal government’s borrowing.

Foreign holdings of the debt have remained essentially flat, though the government’s borrowing has risen by $500 billion, giving foreign investors the smallest share of U.S. government debt since 2003. Even as yields on Treasury securities have risen to multiyear highs, foreign demand for debt at government bond auctions has slowed to the weakest level since 2008.


Jeff Bezos Is Gobbling Up The Swamp

August 17th, 2018

Via: Vanity Fair:

The controversy involves a plan to move all of the Defense Department’s data—classified and unclassified—on to the cloud. The information is currently strewn across some 400 centers, and the Pentagon’s top brass believes that consolidating it into one cloud-based system, the way the CIA did in 2013, will make it more secure and accessible. That’s why, on July 26, the Defense Department issued a request for proposals called JEDI, short for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure. Whoever winds up landing the winner-take-all contract will be awarded $10 billion—instantly becoming one of America’s biggest federal contractors.

But when JEDI was issued, on the day Congress recessed for the summer, the deal appeared to be rigged in favor of a single provider: Amazon. According to insiders familiar with the 1,375-page request for proposal, the language contains a host of technical stipulations that only Amazon can meet, making it hard for other leading cloud-services providers to win—or even apply for—the contract. One provision, for instance, stipulates that bidders must already generate more than $2 billion a year in commercial cloud revenues—a “bigger is better” requirement that rules out all but a few of Amazon’s rivals.


The San Onofre Nuclear Plant Is a ‘Fukushima Waiting to Happen’

August 17th, 2018

Via: San Diego Union Tribune:

Southern California Edison is keeping 3.6 million pounds of lethal radioactive waste at the shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant in San Clemente.

The waste poses a significant threat to the health, safety and economic vitality of the region’s more than 8 million residents. But Edison’s plan for storing it is unnerving at best.

The idea is to bury the spent fuel on site, about 100 feet from the ocean and just a few feet above the water table. Edison has already begun transferring the waste from cooling pools into specially designed steel canisters. The containers are prone to corrosion and cracking, and cannot be monitored or repaired. Work crews even discovered a loose bolt inside one of the canisters earlier this year.

But flawed storage containers are just one of many worrisome aspects of the scheme. San Onofre sits on an active earthquake fault, in an area where there is a record of past tsunamis. It is close to Interstate 5, the railroad line that Amtrak runs on, and the Marines’ Camp Pendleton.


Senate Democrats Are Circulating Plans for Government Takeover of the Internet

August 17th, 2018

Via: Reason:

A leaked memo circulating among Senate Democrats contains a host of bonkers authoritarian proposals for regulating digital platforms, purportedly as a way to get tough on Russian bots and fake news. To save American trust in “our institutions, democracy, free press, and markets,” it suggests, we need unprecedented and undemocratic government intervention into online press and markets, including “comprehensive (GDPR-like) data protection legislation” of the sort enacted in the E.U.


Turkey’s Lira Weakens More than 6 Percent on Threat of More U.S. Sanctions

August 17th, 2018

Via: Reuters:

Turkey’s battered lira weakened more than 6 percent against the dollar on Friday, after a U.S. warning that Ankara should expect more economic sanctions unless it hands over the detained American evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson.

It has lost nearly 40 percent of its value against the dollar this year, hit by both the diplomatic rift and investor alarm about President Tayyip Erdogan’s influence over monetary policy. Erdogan, a self-described “enemy of interest rates”, wants to lower borrowing costs despite high inflation.


The One About a Russian Satellite “Raising Alarm” with U.S.

August 16th, 2018

Just a few stories for context about this Russian satellite situation:

Mystery Russian Satellite’s Behaviour Raises Alarm in U.S.:

A mysterious Russian satellite displaying “very abnormal behaviour” has raised alarm in the US, according to a State Department official.

“We don’t know for certain what it is and there is no way to verify it,” said assistant secretary Yleem Poblete at a conference in Switzerland on 14 August.

She voiced fears that it was impossible to say if the object may be a weapon.

Russia has dismissed the comments as “unfounded, slanderous accusations based on suspicions”.

The satellite in question was launched in October last year.

“[The satellite’s] behaviour on-orbit was inconsistent with anything seen before from on-orbit inspection or space situational awareness capabilities, including other Russian inspection satellite activities,” Ms Poblete told the conference on disarmament in Switzerland.

“Russian intentions with respect to this satellite are unclear and are obviously a very troubling development,” she added, citing recent comments made by the commander of Russia’s Space Forces, who said adopting “new prototypes of weapons” was a key objective for the force.

Ms Poblete said that the US had “serious concerns” that Russia was developing anti-satellite weapons.

* roll eyes *

The Russians. Space Force. The Russians. Space Force.

In other news, I’m sure this thing is just up to spreading rainbows and unicorns in the heavens: Mysterious X-37B Military Space Plane Nears 1 Year in Orbit:

The U.S. Air Force’s X-37B miniature space plane has winged past 340 days in orbit performing secretive duties during the program’s fifth flight.

The robotic craft’s latest mission, known as Orbital Test Vehicle-5 (OTV-5), kicked off on Sept. 7, 2017, with a launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.

As usual, Air Force officials have revealed few details about OTV-5. But we do know that one payload flying aboard the X-37B this time around is the Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader, or ASETS-11. Developed by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, this cargo is testing experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipes for long durations in the space environment.

Finally, ‘Very Abnormal’ Russian Satellite Doesn’t Seem So Threatening, Experts Say:

Perhaps the Russians “are checking out the [spacecraft] bus and its capability to deliver multiple subsatellites to different orbits — something like that,” McDowell said. “From the information that’s available in the public domain, that would be an entirely plausible interpretation.”

These three satellites’ activities may be related to the military and may have something to do with spacecraft inspection, he added. But McDowell doesn’t regard their behavior as “very abnormal,” and there’s no indication that they’ve done anything illegal or threatening. So, he’s not sure what prompted the concerns expressed by Poblete.

“What are they complaining about?” McDowell said, referring to American officials.

Weeden voiced similar sentiments. Cosmos 2523’s “deployment was unusual, but hard to see at this point why the US is making it a big deal,” he said via Twitter today.

“There are a lot of facts and not a lot of pattern,” McDowell said. “So, partly I take the U.S. statement as saying, ‘Russia, how dare you do something confusing?'”


Inflation: Venezuela Will Cut Five Zeros from Currency

August 16th, 2018

Ah yes, ye ole Zimbucks solution:

Three Eggs Priced in Zimbabwean Dollars

Three Eggs Priced in Zimbabwean Dollars

Toilet Paper Only; No Zim Dollars

Toilet Paper Only; No Zim Dollars

Via: WRAL:

Faced with nearly incomprehensible inflation — 32,714 percent as of Wednesday — Venezuelan officials thought they had a solution: They changed the color of the bank notes and increased their denomination. Then they said they would lop off three zeros. And when that didn’t seem enough, they announced they would cut off two more.

The tactics have left Venezuelans like Yosmar Nowak, the owner of a coffee shop in Caracas, convinced that there is no solution in sight and that the government cannot even bring down the price of a cup of coffee, an eye-watering 2 million bolivars.

“I imagine if we keep like this we’re going to have to do the same thing in December,” said Nowak, who has been forced to raise prices in her cafe at least 40 times this year.


Pennsylvania Report Details Decades of Sexual Abuse by Priests

August 14th, 2018

Via: Reuters:

Roman Catholic priests in Pennsylvania sexually abused thousands of children over a 70-year period and silenced victims through “the weaponization of faith” and a systematic cover-up campaign by their bishops, the state attorney general said on Tuesday.

An 884-page report made public by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro after a two-year investigation contained graphic examples of children being groomed and sexually abused by clergymen. It was largely based on documents from secret archives kept by the dioceses, including handwritten confessions by priests, he said.

“It was child sexual abuse, including rape, committed by grown men – priests – against children,” Shapiro told a press conference.


An 11-Year-Old Changed Election Results On a Replica Florida State Website in Under 10 Minutes

August 14th, 2018

Via: PBS:

An 11-year-old boy on Friday was able to hack into a replica of the Florida state election website and change voting results found there in under 10 minutes during the world’s largest yearly hacking convention, DEFCON 26, organizers of the event said.

Thousands of adult hackers attend the convention annually, while this year a group of children attempted to hack 13 imitation websites linked to voting in presidential battleground states.

The boy, who was identified by DEFCON officials as Emmett Brewer, accessed a replica of the Florida secretary of state’s website. He was one of about 50 children between the ages of 8 and 16 who were taking part in the so-called “DEFCON Voting Machine Hacking Village,” a portion of which allowed kids the chance to manipulate party names, candidate names and vote count totals.

Nico Sell, the co-founder of the the non-profit r00tz Asylum, which teaches children how to become hackers and helped organize the event, said an 11-year-old girl also managed to make changes to the same Florida replica website in about 15 minutes, tripling the number of votes found there.

Sell said more than 30 children hacked a variety of other similar state replica websites in under a half hour.

“These are very accurate replicas of all of the sites,” Sell told the PBS NewsHour on Sunday. “These things should not be easy enough for an 8-year-old kid to hack within 30 minutes, it’s negligent for us as a society.”


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