This Is What Social Media Is Doing To Us…

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By Michael Snyder

Scientific study after scientific study is showing that too much time on social media can be extremely harmful both mentally and physically. But even though most of us know this, very few of us actually alter our behavior in a meaningful way. When Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and other major social media platforms first emerged, we welcomed them with open arms. They were a lot of fun and they allowed us to interact with family, friends and society as a whole in ways that we had never been able to do before. But they were also extremely addictive, and they rapidly became transformed into dumping grounds for just about everything toxic, negative and malevolent that you can possibly imagine. Today, many of us spend far more time on social media than we do with real people, and as you will see below, that has enormous implications for our future.

A growing body of scientific research clearly indicates that spending too much time on social media can be very bad for us.  For example, just consider what a long-term study that was conducted by Gallup over a period of two years ultimately concluded

Holly Shakya, assistant professor at UC San Diego, and Yale professor Nicholas Christakis spent two years following 5,208 adults who are part of a Gallup long-term study. After asking permission, they monitored these subjects’ Facebook use directly from Facebook, rather than asking subjects to report their own use. (People often don’t realize how much time they spend on the social network.) And they checked in with subjects on their emotional and physical well-being, as well as their body-mass index (BMI), three times over the course of two years.

“Overall, our results showed that, while real-world social networks were positively associated with overall well-being, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with overall well-being,” the researchers wrote in a Harvard Business Review article. “These results were particularly strong for mental health; most measures of Facebook use in one year predicted a decrease in mental health in a later year.”

That doesn’t sound good at all.

If you knew that something was going to consistently degrade both your mental and physical well-being, would you engage in that activity every single day?

And yet most of us simply cannot go 24 hours without checking our social media accounts.

Read More: endoftheamericandream.com

How Facebook Libra Has Been Influencing Crypto, Politics and Finance

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By Stephen O’Neal

Over the past few days, a number of Libra-related announcements have been made — only, they weren’t from Facebook, the Libra Association, Calibra wallet or any other party involved in its development. 

First, top crypto exchange Binance announced a project called “Venus” — coincidentally, another astrology-themed name — which will focus on developing “localized stablecoins” worldwide; the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) said it is almost ready to launch its government-backed digital currency, reportedly admitting that Libra prompted it to speed up; and Erik Finman, ostensibly the youngest Bitcoin (BTC) millionaire, launched a crypto peer-to-peer (P2P) payment app, called “Metal” — daringly marketing it as "the Libra killer."

Libra has been making waves since its white paper was released in mid-June, prompting regulators across the world to form global task forces, United States legislators to hold multiple hearings in the Senate and crypto firms to roll out competing projects. 

However, Libra itself is still far from seeing the light of day: Its initial release is scheduled for 2020, but given the scale of regulatory backlash it has been facing, the future of Facebook’s crypto venture is hardly set in stone. Nevertheless, just two months in, its influence on the space is already palpable. 

Libra and the regulatory splash

Libra, a stablecoin-like digital asset and a blockchain-based financial infrastructure project, was officially announced on June 18, when Facebook published its white paper. The release followed several media reports suggesting that the social media titan was developing a cryptocurrency that will facilitate payments across its platforms — WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram — which boast a combined 2.7 billion monthly users

The project seeks to target the unbanked population, which accounts for around 1.7 billion adults across the globe, with a focus on cross-border remittance. The latter aspect puts Libra alongside the likes of Visa and Mastercard — both of which have invested in the project — as well as some fellow cryptocurrency firms like Ripple and the XRP token. 

The project will be governed by the Libra Association, a not-for-profit consortium headquartered in Switzerland, which includes Mastercard, PayPal, Visa, eBay, Coinbase, Andreessen Horowitz, Lyft and Uber among a total of 28 founding members. 

There is also Calibra, a Facebook subsidiary, which is developing an eponymous digital wallet to facilitate Libra transactions, while the currency will be supported by third-party wallets — as the software powering the Libra blockchain is open source, as its developers have said. Once ready, the wallet will be available to all of the social media’s users.

The looming release of Facebook’s new project caused immediate regulatory resentment, triggering a new wave of national-level discussions on the legal status of cryptocurrencies. The company’s infamous reputation for being involved in privacy-related scandals — the most recent being Cambridge Analytica, which resulted in a record-breaking $5 billion fine— its all-encompassing scale and its barefaced interest in cryptocurrencies made it an unmissable target for regulators across the world. 

In July, U.S. congressional hearings on the matter began, and Calibra CEO David Marcus was interviewed twice before Congress. The key take-away from those meetings was that Facebook won’t launch Libra until regulators’ concerns are fully addressed, as Marcus explicitly reassured both lawmakers and investors. That has not entirely mitigated the pushback, however, as the European Union antitrust regulators have launched a probe into Libra. 

Meanwhile, U.S. legislators — including vocal Libra skeptic Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) — are travelling to Switzerland, the home of the Libra Association, to meet with Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner Adrian Lobsiger to exchange views about digital currencies.

John Todaro, director of research and provider of institutional trading tools for digital currencies at TradeBlock, summarized the main reasons behind the intensified scrutiny in a comment for Cointelegraph:

“The primary attention Libra is getting is because of the size of Facebook, its resources, and its ability to integrate a low cost, efficient digital currency payment channel across a number of its own platforms which could bring significant adoption to the space. Other projects have not seen the same level of interest, mainly because they do not have an ability to accelerate adoption of a stablecoin so quickly, which Facebook could accomplish.”

The scale of the regulatory backlash is not surprising, despite the rawness of Facebook’s project, experts say. Konstantinos Stylianou, assistant professor of competition law and regulation at the University of Leeds, told Cointelegraph that for regulators, it is never too early to start worrying about potential problems. He elaborated:

“Financial regulators are right to go in first, because financial regulation aims to ensure that Libra and its clones comply with set standards before they launch. Other regulators, like the European Commission's antitrust arm, which recently started an investigation into Libra, have a long way to go, because they need to prove actual harm. But even so, their early activity sends a message to the industry that the regulator's watchful eye is there to stop illegal activity at its inception.”

Other experts, like Lars Seier Christensen, chairman of Swiss blockchain identity network Concordium and former CEO at Saxo Bank, are even surprised that Facebook has not foreseen some of the regulators’ worries. Christensen explained to Cointelegraph:

“I actually fully understand the concerns of regulators as Libra raises a host of major issues because of the potential scale of the project. I think Facebook may have been a little too quick off the block here, because many of the concerns about systemic risk, disruption of money markets, and moral hazard were easily predictable and could have been addressed from the beginning.”

Libra and its killers: Chinese government, Binance and Walmart

While many of the aforementioned jurisdictions were busy discussing the potential ways to regulate Libra, China took a somewhat different approach. For the East Asian powerhouse, where the sale of cryptocurrencies is explicitly banned, Facebook's project turned out to be the prime motivator in hastening the development of its own state-controlled digital currency.

Notably, during one of the congressional hearings, Marcus warned lawmakers that vetoing Libra could result in the U.S. being left behind: 

"I believe that if America does not lead innovation in the digital currency and payments area, others will. If we fail to act, we could soon see a digital currency controlled by others whose values are dramatically different.”

China steps in

Thus, after five years of research and system development work since 2018, the PBoC is almost ready to launch its central bank digital currency (CBDC), according to a recent reportfrom the state-owned news portal China Daily. As Yang Dong — director of the Research Center of Finance Technology and Cyber Security at Renmin University of China — told the publication that the announcement of Libra has motivated the project’s designers to involve more private institutions in development and issuance process of a CBDC, which seems to follow the concept of the Libra Association. 

Co-founder of a decentralized cloud computing network Aelf, Chen Zhuling, whose associate Ma Haobo is a committee member of the government-affiliated Chinese Institute of Electronics Blockchain Branch, told Cointelegraph in an email conversation that:

“Considering how mobile payment and e-money has been fully adopted in the Chinese society, it is inevitable that the government is also looking at digital currency initiative. More than half of global Bitcoin hash rate is under mining pools in China, the government is no strange to cryptocurrency.”

Patrick Dai, co-founder of Qtum, a blockchain platform that has a presence in China, is largely optimistic about the project, as he told Cointelegraph that the PBoC’s currency is likely to beat Facebook in terms of public resonance and will challenge “the monopoly” of local giants WeChat and Alipay:

“People’s Bank of China’s digital currency will escalate and affect crypto adoption at a much greater magnitude than Facebook’s Libra announcement. There is already overwhelming distrust of Facebook. Introducing a new asset class also brings healthy competition to the Chinese FinTech ecosystem, which is currently dominated by a few major players. A complimentary payment solution helps break up the monopoly of power from payment giants like WeChatPay and Alipay.”

However, CBDCs and privately issued cryptocurrencies can co-exist, which is relevant for capitalist economic systems exclusively, professor Stylianou said:

“Central bank cryptocurrencies and private cryptocurrencies are not in a zero-sum game. The adoption of one does not detract from the adoption of the other. They can and will most likely co-exist, much like state-provisioned goods co-exist with privately-provisioned goods in every other industry. This, of course, only applies to free capitalistic economies.”

Binance launches a race to the stars

Other Libra competitors come from the private sector. Arguably, the strongest attempt to topple Facebook’s crypto project is being performed by Binance, one of the world’s largest crypto exchange, although, as its CEO, Changpeng Zhao, diplomatically noted, it is “always happy to co-exist.” 

Thus, following the astrological theme, Binance’s open blockchain project is dubbed “Venus” and focuses on developing localized stablecoins around the world based on Binance Chain, which reportedly has a wide user base and has already established global compliance measures. 

However, it is still unclear whether Venus actually could rival Libra for the global crown. Judging by the announcements made in English and Chinese, the tones used are drastically different, with the latter mentioning challenging “financial hegemony” and creating “independent ‘regional version of Libra.’” Binance has not yet responded to Cointelegraph’s request for clarification regarding the relationship with Libra.

There is also a global retail giant, Walmart, that has already filed a patent for a U.S. dollar-backed digital currency similar to Libra. According to the retail giant, it could provide low-income households — for whom banking is costly — with “an alternative way to handle wealth at an institution that can supply the majority of their day-to-day financial and product needs.” Additionally, it could further challenge incumbent banks by removing the need for credit and debit cards, Walmart suggested in the filing.

Libra has also provoked a response from smaller, crypto-oriented startups, which are brazingly calling themselves “Libra killers.” For instance, Erik Finmann, known as the youngest Bitcoin millionaire, has recently announced a crypto P2P payment app called “Metal” that reportedly supports Bitcoin and Ethereum (ETH), among other cryptocurrencies. 

It seems to be working in select U.S. states at the moment, which makes it unclear how it could “finally bring crypto to the people — in ways that Facebook Libra only wishes they could,” as Finmann put it on Twitter, given the scale of the social media giant’s operation. Metal has not responded to Cointelegraph’s request to clarify the scale of its operation. 

Libra’s influence has accelerated, despite all the difficulties

While it is not certain if Libra will ever manage to get through the regulatory hurdles it is facing, its impact on the crypto industry — and even the larger financial world — is evident. TradeBlock’s Todaro told Cointelegraph, “Libra has influenced the industry insofar that other large corporate entities and governments have sped up their projects on stablecoins, such as Wal-mart, PBoC, Binance and others.”

Notably, while the overall scope of Facebook’s crypto project could have been predicted, experts are perplexed by the breakneck speed at which everything around it is unfolding. “It was only a matter of time until Libra contenders emerged,” Stylianou told Cointelegraph. “What's surprising is how quickly it's all happening.” He went on to say:

“The majority of Libra killers will be extinct within a few years (including, possibly, Libra itself), as it always happens with prototypes, but that at the same time means that some others will survive.”

Thus, Libra seems to be actively unsettling the crypto space even at its most infant stage, urging other actors to launch similar stablecoin-based projects or join it by investing as much as $10 million. Among the interested parties are online brokerage Monex Group Inc., the owner of the hacked Japanese crypto exchange Coincheck and even the Winklevoss twins, who have famously had a falling out with Mark Zuckerberg over Facebook in the past. 

On the other hand, some of the earlier investors are reportedly asking to get off the trainbecause they’re frustrated with Libra’s half-baked strategy — as well as the intense regulatory pushback it has been getting.

Via Cointelegraph.com

Twitter, Facebook suspend China-linked disinformation campaigns targeting Hong Kong

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By Cristiano Lima

Twitter and Facebook today announced takedowns of Chinese government-linked disinformation campaigns that sought to undermine the protests in Hong Kong.

Twitter said in a blog post it has suspended 936 accounts originating in China that were part of a “significant state-backed information operation focused on the situation in Hong Kong,” where protesters have taken to the streets to oppose a bill that would allow local authorities to extradite criminal suspects to mainland China.

“Overall, these accounts were deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground,” the company said. The accounts were suspended for violating a number of the social network’s policies, including its rules against spam and fake accounts.

The takedown represents a small fraction of the activity discovered by Twitter, however, which said it took down “a larger, spammy network of approximately 200,000 accounts” before they became “substantially active” on the platform. Twitter is banned in China, but the company said some of the accounts were able to circumvent the ban by using virtual private networks, or VPNs.

Working off a tip from Twitter, Facebook cybersecurity chief Nathaniel Gleicher said his company suspended five accounts, seven pages and three groups with “links to individuals associated with the Chinese government” that “frequently posted about local political news and issues including topics like the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.” The pages amassed at least 15,000 followers and the groups at least 2,000 members.

Via politico.com

The Phony Patriots of Silicon Valley

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Kevin Roose writes:

Top tech companies are rallying around the flag. How opportunistic of them.
Not long ago, many leading technologists considered themselves too lofty and idealistic to concern themselves with the petty affairs of government. John Perry Barlow, a lion of the early internet, addressed his “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” to the “governments of the industrial world,” saying that for him and his fellow netizens, these creaky institutions had “no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.”

But that was before privacy scandals, antitrust investigations, Congressional hearings, Chinese tariffs, presidential tweets and Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Now, as they try to fend off regulation and avoid being broken up, some of the largest companies in Silicon Valley are tripping over their Allbirds in a race to cozy up to the United States government. These companies’ motives vary — some are vying for lucrative public-sector contracts, while others are lobbying against regulation by painting China as a red menace that must be defeated for the good of the country.

Either way, the game is the same: salute the flag, save our bacon.

The latest example of Silicon Valley’s patriotic playacting comes courtesy of Peter Thiel, the Trump-backing venture capitalist. In an op-ed in The New York Times this month, Mr. Thiel took Google to task for opening an artificial intelligence lab in Beijing while canceling a controversial Pentagon contract, accusing the company of trying to “evade responsibility for the good of the country.”

Mr. Thiel’s obvious conflicts of interest aside (he is on the board of Facebook, Google’s rival, and is the chairman of the technology firm Palantir, which has lucrative government contracts of its own), seeing him lecture anyone on patriotism is rich. He was among the first major supporters of the Seasteading movement — a group of libertarians who wanted to flee the United States and build a floating city in international waters — and in 2011, he became a New Zealand citizen after buying up property there. (“It would give me great pride to let it be known that I am a New Zealand citizen and an enthusiastic supporter of the country,” Mr. Thiel wrote in his citizenship application.)

But Mr. Thiel, who did not respond to a request for comment, is far from the only tech titan trading in his hoodie for a flag pin.

Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook chief, has also been warning that if the social network — the proud, American social network, that is — is broken up or harshly regulated, it will only be a matter of time before China takes over the global tech industry.

In an interview last year, Mr. Zuckerberg said that if Facebook were broken up by American regulators, “the alternative, frankly, is going to be the Chinese companies.”

David Marcus, one of Mr. Zuckerberg’s lieutenants and the executive in charge of Facebook’s digital currency project, called Libra, echoed that point while testifying before Congress last month.

“I believe that if America does not lead innovation in the digital currency and payments area, others will,” Mr. Marcus said. “If we fail to act, we could soon see a digital currency controlled by others whose values are dramatically different.”

Mr. Zuckerberg, who speaks Mandarin, is an odd choice to lead the charge against China. He has spent much of the last decade trying desperately to curry favor with the Chinese government in hopes of getting Facebook’s apps — which are banned there — permission to operate in one of the world’s most lucrative markets. Mr. Zuckerberg even reportedly offered to let Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, name his second child. (Mr. Xi declined.)

Google, too, is rallying around the flag. The company’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, went to the White House to visit with President Trump in March, to discuss government contracts and reassure the president that Google does not discriminate against conservatives. This month, in a series of tweets attacking Mr. Pichai and Google, President Trump recalled that meeting, which he described as “Mr. Pichai working very hard to explain how much he liked me, what a great job the Administration is doing, that Google was not involved with China’s military, that they didn’t help Crooked Hillary over me in the 2016 Election.”

Like Mr. Zuckerberg, Mr. Pichai was a China booster before he began distancing himself from the country. Last year, Mr. Pichai had a large team of Google engineers building a prototype search engine, called Dragonfly, that was designed to be compatible with China’s censorship regime. The project was dropped amid heated internal dissent from Google employees. But it reportedly would have blocked sites like Wikipedia, as well as other material considered objectionable by Chinese authorities.

Amazon and Apple, two tech giants that love America so much that they have gone to elaborate lengths to avoid paying taxes to its Treasury, are also promoting themselves as national champions. After President Trump criticized Apple’s plans to do some of the assembly of its Mac Pro in China, the company reiterated its desire to keep much of the computer’s assembly in the United States. And Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, has knocked rival firms for insufficient patriotism, saying that “if big tech companies are going to turn their back on the U.S. Department of Defense, this country is going to be in trouble.”

Representatives for Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple all declined to comment.

Conspicuous patriotism is not a new tactic for companies accused of bad behavior. In the 1980s and 1990s, defenders of American tech giants like IBM and Microsoft argued that those companies’ monopolistic behaviors were necessary to stave off competition from Japanese rivals. During World War II, Hollywood movie studios delayed a federal antitrust crackdown, in part by agreeing to help the military in the war effort.

Meredith Whittaker, a co-founder of the AI Now Institute at New York University and a former Google employee, characterized the tech industry’s scaremongering about China as a tactical move meant to deflect criticism.

“It’s a really convenient narrative,” Ms. Whittaker said. “It evokes nationalism and a red scare trope that has worked in the past. And it implies that regulation, accountability, and taking a pause to consider ethics would be counter to ‘winning.’”

Patriotic posturing may be a cynical tactic, but it could also be a smart one. Today’s big tech companies are in a better negotiating position than most industries under fire. The meteoric growth of companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon has bolstered the American stock market and made Silicon Valley a global innovation hub. Even if the motives of the tech giants are questionable, the importance of technologies like 5G connectivity and artificial intelligence to the country’s competitive position isn’t lost on lawmakers.

Representative Ro Khanna, a Democrat who represents parts of Silicon Valley in Congress, has called for greater regulation of tech companies. But in an interview this month, he told me that the risk of losing ground to China worried him.

“There is a risk that we could see a Berlin digital wall,” Mr. Khanna said. “The question is, are the values of liberty, privacy and freedom of speech going to be embedded in technology platforms? China’s platforms do not have many of the values that liberal democracies believe in.”

There is nothing inherently wrong with the belief that America’s values are superior to those found in Shanghai and Shenzhen, or that American tech companies should act in the country’s best interest. But lawmakers should be appropriately wary of Silicon Valley’s charm campaign, and they should avoid conflating what’s good for Facebook, Google and other tech companies with what’s good for the nation. Tech executives might be whistling “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy,” but they really just want to be left alone.

Via nytimes.com

U.S. Libra Hearings Day 1: Lawmakers Finding It Hard to Trust Facebook

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The United States’ Senate Banking Committee raised a wave skepticism over Facebook’s crypto project Libra during the first day of testimony on July 16.

The new hearing, called “Examining Facebook's Proposed Cryptocurrency and Its Impact on Consumers, Investors, and the American Financial System” is scheduled for 10:00 AM ET, July 17.

As day two is coming in the next few hours, Cointelegraph posts a short recap of yesterday's hearings.

The first day saw Senate Banking Committee attacked David Marcus, head of Facebook’s crypto wallet Calibra, raising major concerns over Libra, including issues of trust, privacy, security and regulation.

The problem of trust has apparently prevailed during the hearing, as Senator Sherrod Brown considered Facebook “dangerous” in the very opening remarks. The senator further expressed his scepticism, expressing doubts that people will trust Facebook with “their hard-earned money.”

Elizabeth Warren, Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate, outlined a lack of evidence that Facebook does not plan to link the platform’s user data to their money transactions and keep those records. She said:

“I’m not reassured by your statement that you can’t see any reason right now why there wouldn’t be any data sharing between these platforms.”

Senator Martha McSally escalated Warren’s concerns, pointing out that Facebook’s “track record of failing and violating and deceiving in the past” is a sufficient cause for the committee to not trust the platform at all.

Additionally, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo raised a question why the Libra Corporation had chosen to register in Switzerland. In turn, Marcus assured that committee that the association would also register with the U.S. regulators. Specifically, Marcus emphasized Facebook’s intention to be compliant with the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in distributing its Libra stablecoin.

In the hearing, Marcus highlighted the role of Libra in the global leadership of the U.S. in an apparent attempt to mitigate the escalated concerns over the project. He warned that if the U.S. fails to act on the issue, the world will eventually see another crypto initiative that would be controlled by someone else, whose values are “radically” different.

Yesterday, U.S. house minority leader Kevin McCarthy expressed criticism against Libra, while praising major cryptocurrency Bitcoin (BTC), which has slipped to as low as $9,100 earlier today, seeing a loss of around 30% over the past 7 days at press time.

Via Cointelegraph.com

Facebook Releases Cryptocurrency White Paper for Libra Currency

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Aaron Wood reports:

Social media giant Facebook has released the white paper for its long-awaited cryptocurrency and blockchain-based financial infrastructure project today, June 18.

According to the paper, Facebook’s global stablecoin, dubbed “libra,” will operate on the native and scalable Libra blockchain, and be backed by a reserve of assets ostensibly “designed to give it intrinsic value” and mitigate volatility fluctuations.  

These assets consist of a basket of bank deposits and short-term government securities that will be held in the Libra Reserve for every Libra that is issued.

The website for the digital asset, calibra.com, was briefly down around 5AM EST, about when it went live.

The new cryptocurrency will be governed by a not-for-profit, Switzerland-based consortium — the “Libra Association” — which counts MastercardPayPalVisa, Stripe, eBay, Coinbase, Andreessen Horowitz and Uber among its founding members.

Facebook ostensibly plans to expand the association to around 100 members by the time of Libra’s launch in the first half of 2020. The white paper notes that:

“While final decision-making authority rests with the association, Facebook is expected to maintain a leadership role through 2019. Facebook created Calibra, a regulated subsidiary, to ensure separation between social and financial data and to build and operate services on its behalf on top of the Libra network.”

The Libra Association is itself governed by the Libra Association Council. The council’s members initially are the founding members, each of which runs a validator node on the network and was notably required to make a minimum investment of $10 million to seal the position. Each $10 million investment secures an entity one vote on the council, per Facebook.

Facebook has also revealed the release of the Libra Investment Token — distinct from its global user-oriented cryptocurrency libra — which can be purchased or distributed as dividends to the association’s founding members and accredited investors.

As libra is not technically pegged to any given national fiat currency, the white paper states that users will not always be able to redeem the token for a fixed amount of fiat, although Facebook claims that the reserve assets have been chosen so as to minimize volatility.

While the reserve assets are ostensibly held by “a geographically distributed network of custodians” in order to secure decentralization, the reserve is managed by the association itself, which is the only party able to mint and destroy the coin.

New libra are minted once authorized resellers have purchased the coins from the association with enough fiat to fully back their value, and burned when authorized resellers sell the token back to the association in exchange for the underlying assets. Moreover, the white paper states:

“Since authorized resellers will always be able to sell Libra coins to the reserve at a price equal to the value of the basket, the Libra Reserve acts as a ‘buyer of last resort.’”

Facebook further notes that the software that implements the Libra blockchain is open source in order to create an interoperable ecosystem of financial services and broaden inclusion.

Previous reports had indicated that the coin will facilitate payments across Facebook’s various platforms including WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, giving the new coin potential exposure to a combined 2.7 billion users each month.

Via cointelegraph.com

The most important thing people missed from yesterday's trade agreement with the EU is that Trump's end goal is elimination of all tariffs

The most important thing people missed from yesterday's trade agreement with the EU is that Trump's end goal is elimination of all tariffs

Politics and geo-politics are anything if not ironic.  And we saw this play out again yesterday following the positive outcome and remarks made between the EU's Jean-Claude Junker and President Trump after three hours of trade talks.

Heading into yesterday's discussions, both the U.S. and the European Union were prepared to immediately institute tariffs on automobile exports as analysts and pundits continued to ignorantly promote a trade war scenario as a means to try to vilify the President.  However the reality that appears to have been overlooked by the mainstream propaganda media is that from the beginning, Trump's end goal has always been the elimination of all tariffs, not the implementation of them.

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GDPR Seeks To Revolutionise Data Privacy In Favour Of The Consumer

GDPR Seeks To Revolutionise Data Privacy In Favour Of The Consumer

Recent revelations with respect to Facebook have brought the issue of personal data and privacy sharply into focus. In what is seen as a dynamic shift in the balance between data, the consumer and the platform provider, we note that on 25th May, a new European privacy law comes into affect which will impose restrictions on how personal data is collected and disseminated.

The regulation named, General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, seeks to ensure that users know, understand, and consent to their data being collected, Furthermore, the old days of the obligatory fine print and users being forced to consent in order to sign up are coming to an end.

You can listen to London Paul's latest guest shows on RogueMoneyRadio and support The Sirius Report by subscribing here.

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Trump to Putin — Let's Get Together Soon -- and Cambridge Analytica Revelations Further Proof of British Meddling in 2016 Election

Trump to Putin — Let's Get Together Soon -- and Cambridge Analytica Revelations Further Proof of British Meddling in 2016 Election

President Donald Trump has just pulled the rug out from under mad-lady Theresa May and the even madder Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. While these has-been champions of the dying British Empire are blaming Russia for acts of war, based, typically, on no evidence, Trump yesterday got on the phone with the newly re-elected President Vladimir Putin. Trump not only congratulated Putin for his electoral victory, but announced to the U.S. press that he and Putin "will probably get together in the not-too-distant future" to discuss measures to prevent an arms race, and to find peaceful solutions to the crises in Ukraine, Syria and North Korea.

The Kremlin read-out of the call said that the two leaders "spoke in favor of developing practical cooperation in various areas, including efforts to ensure strategic stability and combat international terrorism, with particular emphasis on the importance of coordinated efforts to curb an arms race." The Kremlin added: "The exchange on economic cooperation revealed an interest in bolstering it. Energy was discussed separately."

The British will be chewing a rug this week. Not only has Trump destroyed their ploy to blame Russia for a chemical warfare attack on British soil, but the "Russiagate" scam within the U.S., run directly by MI6 agent Christopher Steele and his assets within the U.S., has collapsed. Now, the operatives in that attempted coup against the U.S. government — including John Brennan, James Clapper, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and several recently fired FBI operatives — are facing possible criminal charges for the most blatant act of treason in modern U.S. history, all on behalf of the British Empire.

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Alliance for Securing Democrats: Hamilton68 Hacks #BlameRussia for #ReleasetheMemo Trending on Twitter

Alliance for Securing Democrats: Hamilton68 Hacks #BlameRussia for #ReleasetheMemo Trending on Twitter

This week Republicans in Congress took to the House floor and demanded the release of a classified memo demonstrating what they say are gross abuses by the Obama Justice Department of the FISA courts to spy on the Trump campaign. With Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) declaring that some people will go to jail over what the document will reveal, the talking points of the Democrats and their media allies was predictable: the GOP was trying to discredit the FBI and investigation into RussiaGate, and Russian bots rather than fed up Americans were making #ReleasetheMemo trend Thursday into Friday on Twitter.

No organization has been doing more to paint a pseudo-scientific veneer of respectability over unproven claims that anti-deep state and Obama Administration hash tags were coming out of the dreaded Russian Internet troll farms than the German Marshall Fund's Hamilton68 project. Yet the question of why a think tank partly funded by the German taxpayers is, in the name of supposedly non-partisan defense of democracy, meddling in American partisan politics by having its fellows like Andrew Weisburd  (@Webradius) vigorously pushing agitprop about a Kremlin-GOP alliance online, is not asked by reporters. Instead, the mainstream media uncritically repeats Hamilton68's risible claims that almost any hash tag bashing the Democrats or linking to stories by TruePundit, GatewayPundit, Breitbart or even Fox News is amplified by 'Russian bots'. With mainstream media never challenging Hamilton68's Cialis commercial type Clint Watts, it was left to Wikileaks' Julian Assange to call BS on the 68ers 'everyone we don't agree with is a Russian bot' or is amplified by Russian bots shtick.

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The "Not Agreement Capable" Americans and the Great RT/"Russian Facebook Ads" Panic

The "Not Agreement Capable" Americans and the Great RT/"Russian Facebook Ads" Panic

Defeated presidential candidate and lifelong grifter Hillary Clinton is out in the legacy media this week, promoting her book What Happened and accusing Trump's campaign of colluding with the Russians.

If the consequences from an accelerating Eurasian and now even Venezuelan dump of the U.S. dollar wouldn't be so dire, the entire #MuhRussia story concocted by deep staters and the suddenly ultra-hawkish fake liberal presstitutes would make for a hilarious Cold War farce.

Instead, as my friend The Saker writes the initial optimism in Moscow regarding the election of Trump has turned to contempt for the extent to which the USA is disappearing up its own paranoid rear orifice faster than you can say, "Russian troll-bots organized an anti-refugee rally in Idaho" (which four people can seem to recall attending if it happened at all). Trump being bullied and blocked from pursuing his campaign promise of detente with Russia has also revealed who really runs Washington, and that certainly isn't the man sitting in the Oval Office. Vladimir Putin put it succintly in a recent press conference when Vlad stated that Trump isn't his bride and he is not a groom, and that it's difficult to constructively engage people who confuse Austria and Australia (alluding to a gaffe by President Obama, but intended as a dig against the American political class in general).

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Cold Turkey: How War on the Rocks' Contributors Clint Watts and Andrew Weisburd Lied By Omission About the Incirlik Power Cutoff (But Trust Them, Russia Hacked the Election for Trump)

Cold Turkey: How War on the Rocks' Contributors Clint Watts and Andrew Weisburd Lied By Omission About the Incirlik Power Cutoff (But Trust Them, Russia Hacked the Election for Trump)

Back in mid-July after the failed putsch against Turkish president turned dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Team RogueMoney and other alt-media gave extensive coverage to what was going on at the Incirlik Air Base, where many of the alleged coup plotters in Turkey's military served alongside U.S. counterparts before being arrested for treason. One of the oddities we noticed at the time was how some military oriented media such as Stars and Stripes were forced into covering the cutoff of electricity to the base, a key installation for the hosting of American B61 tactical nuclear bombs in Europe, due to the legitimate concerns of family and friends about the U.S. servicemen sweating in the summer heat without air conditioning at the facility.

However, to read articles published by Clinton Watts or Andrew Weisburd written for War on the Rocks (WoTR) and The Daily Beast, you'd think any doubts expressed on Facebook or Twitter about the security of Incirlik, its large tactical nuclear arsenal and the American servicemen and women there were all fabricated by sophisticated Russian propaganda trolls. In the aftermath of a Turkish policeman's assassination of a Russian Ambassador raising the question of Islamist if not ISIS infiltration of Turkey's security forces, and the prospect of the next attack (one that won't be sickeningly welcomed by a columnist for the NY Daily News) being against a U.S. diplomat or facility like Incirlik, Watts' and Weisburd's poo-pooing of last July's power cutoff merits another look. So too, does the faux Atlanticist, globalist agenda the two men are pushing -- which comes perilously close to advocating a fulltime, U.S. government run propaganda machine to attack the alt-media in real time for allegedly repeating Russian government-produced agitprop.

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