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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bitcoin: A guide to the future of currency | ZDNet

Bitcoin. You have undoubtedly seen this word as of late, but what is it? Where did it come from and why is it all the rage in the news right now? How does it work, why is it so complex to understand for the average person, and how is it that 1 BTC (shorthand for “bitcoin”) is currently worth considerably more than the USD and Euro? Why should anyone care about Bitcoin? Well, if the U.S. Government cares enough such that the Principal of Bitcoin, Gavin Andresen, was asked to give a presentation to the CIA about Bitcoin this week, then there is plenty of reason for care and concern.

Additionally, many people see Bitcoin as a huge money-making opportunity and the next big thing to shape the world of currency. And I when I say many people see it as “the next big thing,” I mean as in what Microsoft was to computers or like what Google was to search engines. All of the aforementioned and more will be addressed throughout this definitive guide about Bitcoin: the world’s first global currency that may just stand a chance to succeed and thrive.

Bitcoin: What it is

Simple Explanation: Bitcoin is a new form of currency that was once worthless, yet now has grown to be worth considerably more than the U.S. dollar. One bitcoin is currently worth ~$15 USD at the time/date of this post. Rather than a replacement for the U.S. dollar, the Euro, or other government currencies, bitcoins should be thought of like gold or silver where 1 oz. is equivalent to X amount of dollars. In that sense, Bitcoin is more like a commodity than a currency.

Granular Explanation: Bitcoin is a global, decentralized virtual currency that first began in 2009 by its creator, Satoshi Nakamoto. It operates on a vast P2P network which is currently comprised of thousands of systems. It’s aim is quite ambitious: to solve many of the issues with currency today, such as providing near-cash anonymity with online transactions, governments being able to create their own money whenever they want, transfer fees associated with transactions, and more. No banks, no fees, and no traces. As a currency, Bitcoins are currently divisible down to 8 decimal places. What this means is that products or services that accept bitcoins as payment may accept .025 BTC, .00000643 BTC, etc. Once again, the comparison to gold and silver are applicable here. As opposed to a currency, bitcoins operate more like a commodity.

Watch the official Bitcoin promotional video below to get a basic visualization of how it works:

Now, after seeing a general overview, the next step to grasping some of the finer details of how Bitcoin works is to watch the next video. In it, Gavin Andresen gives a more focused overview of what Bitcoin is and how it works:

Lastly, for a much more extended dive into Bitcoin, here is an hour-long interview with Gavin Andresen and Amir Taaki:

Now that you have a fairly good idea about what Bitcoin is, the next issue to cover is how bitcoins are made and how to go about obtaining and using them.

How bitcoins are created

This is the most complex part of Bitcoin for most to grasp. Put simply, coins are created through the solution of extraordinarily complex mathematical problems. These problems are so involved, that your average computer would take years to solve just one — resulting in merely one single bitcoin.

The primary reason for such a complex system is to prevent the creation of bitcoins on an as-wanted or as-needed basis, thus making them a prized possession. And to maintain their prized status, a grand total of 21 million bitcoins will be all that is ever made. For a more extended dive into the mining of bitcoins, refer to “mining” in the section below.

Mining, trading, buying, and selling bitcoins

Bitcoins exchange hands through a number of ways. Though there is a currency exchange rate for bitcoins, their value is still highly subjective due to sharp market fluctuations. Additionally, the utilization of bitcoins is left completely up to interpretation by any given party. Once you have bitcoins in your possession, it is up to you as to how you want to use them. See below.

Trading: One of the more cost-effective and popular ways of obtaining bitcoins, people offer goods, services, and information in exchange for bitcoins. Some people are even asking for donations in the form of bitcoins as opposed to Paypal or other popular donation platforms.

Buying and Selling: Since bitcoins now have a monetary value attached to them, there are exchange markets available that allow you to sell your bitcoins for cash; however, such markets are not necessary to leverage since anyone can set up the buying or selling of bitcoins via any avenue they choose.

Mining: This is the the most involved method of obtaining bitcoins. It requires one to have a computer to dedicate solely to the mining of bitcoins. And if you think your hot new Xeon processor is going to get the job done, try again. GPUs are where it’s at since they are ultra-superior in how fast they perform mathematical calculations. And if you think your hot new gaming rig is going to make you rich, take a look at the types of bitcoin miners people are constructing:

That’s a lot of horsepower running there and a lot of money being put into something that many consider to be a fruitless endeavor. People like in the video above play a major role in the bitcoin ecosystem currently, and the hope is that those who amass large quantities of bitcoins will engage in the exchange of them; much like the selling and trading of collectibles and precious metals, like gold and silver, thus stimulating the Bitcoin ecosystem.

You can either build your own Bitcoin miner, purchase a pre-configured Bitcoin miner, rent a Bitcoin farmer for a fee, or just take part in a pool.

Opinions and Criticisms

In this section, I’m going to give my personal opinion on the matter, as well as cover general criticisms and concerns to be considered. While there is certainly much to be excited about, there is also plenty to be cautious about. Bitcoin is essentially a risk, first and foremost. Once that fact is accepted, a user can then go about using Bitcoin however they so choose — be it simply collecting them or mining them.

My only fear of investing in bitcoins is not that the idea won’t succeed, but rather, that the current vehicle of Bitcoin may fail since it’s the first of its kind — thus, the amount of worldwide scrutiny that will befall it as governments realize the potential it has to damage their economy. As I noted in the introduction of this article, the Principal of Bitcoin is giving a presentation at the CIA this week, so I think that’s a pretty telling signal that Bitcoin isn’t just a revolutionary idea, it’s a revolutionary idea with traction.

Head on over to the next page where I continue with the opinions and ramifications, as well as provide an array of additional resources and ultimately conclude the article.

Why the CIA cares, fears of a cornered Bitcoin market, and more… »

As Other Countries Riot Against Tyranny, We Riot Over Hockey?

As the people of Greece protest and riot the proposed austerity measures in their nation, we here in Canada are rioting over a hockey GAME. Even though we are facing a host of austerity measures of our own.

At this very moment we are seeing Canada Post on strike, Air Canada on strike, many city employees are moving towards striking, and even the federal government is slashing jobs. The cuts in all area’s of our lives do not have an end in sight and will continue for many years to come. The unions and small pockets of resistance have been making noise, but the majority of Canadians have remained silent.

Canada is facing a very ruff road ahead, and we should be looking like this

Rather than this

The War on Digital Currency image
Joel Bowman

Daily Reckoning

Buenos Aires, Argentina – A joke for you, Fellow Reckoner: How many Senators does it take to change a light bulb? Oh, wait, we’ve got a better one: How many Senators does it take to dismantle a cryptographically secured, completely decentralized, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) network of voluntary, free market traders exchanging goods and services across six continents using tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of individual computers and some of the most advanced cyber technology and software coding known to date?

Answer: we don’t know…but Senators Charles Schumer (D, New York) and Joe Manchin (D, West Virginia), seemingly immune to common ignominy, have taken on the challenge anyway.

Your editor has no idea of the cybercryptography aptitude of the two senators but, as with most endeavors undertaken by politicians in the name of “your own damned good,” practical experience and a sufficient understanding of the issue at hand are rarely prerequisites for intervention, again, “on your (unsolicited) behalf.”

The two erstwhile wonks took to the presses this week, demanding something be done about one particular free-market affront to authority.

We are referring, of course, to the latest furor surrounding bitcoin, a P2P cyber currency setting the virtual – and, some would argue, actual – world ablaze. (We first brought you the story a couple of weeks ago, when bitcoins were trading for roughly B$1 = US$7.5. As of this morning, they’ve shot up to B$1 = US$31.5. See “An Emerging Free Market Currency” and “How Governments Distort the Value of Money” for a “bit” of background about them and about the pitfalls of government-backed currencies in general.)

Long story short, bitcoin is a limited supply, decentralized digital currency; a free market alternative to state issued notes and coins. As such, it poses a direct – though entirely non-violent – threat to the state’s monopoly on counterfeiting. This, cry the powers that be, must not be tolerated. Of course, before any politico can act, they must first have a distraction, a fall boy, a pretense, a reason for rescuing us from the horror that is our own decision-making capacity. We picked it in that first column, the relevant portion of which is reprised here:

Read Full Article

Wikileaks Cable Confirms Secret North American Union Agenda

The North American Union agenda to merge the US, Canada and Mexico has been going on for Years

Wikileaks exposes a secret U.S. diplomatic cable written over six years ago, confirming that a hidden agenda to merge the United States, Canada and Mexico into an integrated North American Union has been secretly going on for years.

Once again corporate media and establishment heads have been made to look like liars and conspirators, with Wikileaks putting lawmakers into the hotseat once again with leaked documents, after Washington had claimed that the NAU was a baseless “conspiracy theory,” when it actually was a real conspiracy.

The National Post quoted;
'The cable, released through the WikiLeaks website and apparently written Jan. 28, 2005, discusses some of the obstacles surrounding the merger of the economies of Canada, the United States and Mexico in a fashion similar to the European Union.

An incremental and pragmatic package of tasks for a new North American Initiative (NAI) will likely gain the most support among Canadian policymakers,” the document said. “The economic payoff of the prospective North American initiative … is available, but its size and timing are unpredictable, so it should not be oversold.”
The Wikileaks cable is no surprise to those who watched Alex Jones’ 2006 documentary Endgame, in which precisely the same information was outlined, with special focus on the Security and Prosperity Partnership, or SPP meetings.

In September 2006 the mission to create a North American Union was also discussed during a closed-door meeting of high-level government and business leaders in Banff, Canada.

During the 2008 presidential election the establishment media attempted to smear Ron Paul by attributing the notion of a move towards a North American Union to him and then claiming it was a non-existent “conspiracy theory,” despite the existence of documents proving the facts from the very beginning.

Although the newly leaked cable states U.S. diplomats were busy discussing a “move forward with continental integration, including a possible common currency, labour markets, international trade and the borders of the three countries,” as well as “easier access across the U.S. border,” more than six years ago, a Newsweek piece subsequently claimed that Ron Paul’s concerns over a NAFTA superhighway, a North American Union or a regional currency were completely baseless.

Watch the documentary Endgame clip bellow, in which the agenda behind the North American Union was exposed back in 2006, even as mainstream media still assured America it was just a "conspiracy theory," and not to worry.

This writer thinks, that while this may have been a serious issue not long ago, right now with the US economy in shambles, would Canada even want to merge with the United States? And if so, would it hurt the US? Heck, it might even help, giving us the cheap "Mexican" labor to compete with China and India, maybe allowing us to bring some manufacturing back to America.

What do you think? Do you believe there is a secret plot to merge the US, Canada and Mexico? If so, do you think it would be a good thing? Please let Conspiracy Watch readers know how you feel with a comment, bellow.

Written By: Tom Retterbush

Burundanga: The Drug Against Free Will


It turns out that ‘free will’ is a brain process that can be shut off. Wired UK explores the plant-derived drug — currently all the rage in the South American criminal underworld — that does this:

Burundanga is a scary drug. According to news reports from Ecuador, the last thing a motorist could recall, after waking up minus his car and possessions, was being approached by two women; in Venezuela, a girl came round in hospital to find she had been abducted and sexually assaulted. Each had been doped with burundanga, an extract of the brugmansia plant containing high levels of the psychoactive chemical scopolamine.

News reports allude to a sinister effect: that the drug removes free will, effectively turning victims into suggestible human puppets. Although not fully understood by neuroscience, free will is seen as a highly complex neurological ability and one of the most cherished of human characteristics. Clearly, if a drug can eliminate this, it highlights a stark vulnerability at the core of our species.

It is known that scopolamine affects memory and makes people more passive. Neuroscientist Renate Thienel notes that “scopolamine has a selective effect on memory, although other mental functions, such as planning and information manipulation, are unaffected.” This suggests victims remain cognitively nimble but unable to retain information.

The key seems to be that scopolamine blocks acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter essential to memory. Scans also reveal the drug affects the amygdala, a brain area controlling aggression and anxiety. Evidence suggests victims tend to be confused and passive rather than unable to resist commands. Yet, until scopolamine’s role in the chemistry of free will is fully explored, we can only speculate that the criminal underworld has unwittingly stumbled upon one of the greatest discoveries of 21st-century neuroscience.

Cracking the Bitcoin: Digging Into a $131M USD Virtual Currency
Jason Mick

Daily Tech

Bitcoin slump shows signs of slowing; misinformation remains widespread

Our piece on the Bitcoin market's 'Black Friday' saw tremendous pickup, being carried or quoted by Business Insider, Spiegel (Germany's equivalent of The Wall Street Journal), and Slashdot (whose submitter did an admirable job explaining the piece), among others.

Over the weekend there was more movement in the Bitcoin market, and much confusion about the peer-to-peer currency remains. In this follow up we'll take an objective look at what we feel the true story of Bitcoin is.

I. Is the Bitcoin 'Recession'/'Depression' Over?

The market on Sunday showed signs of recovery. With the world's largest exchange, Mt. Gox opening at $14.75 USD/Bitcoin, the price has floated up to $20.14 USD/Bitcoin [source]. That's a massive 36.5 percent upward shift (in a deflationary direction). (The market has since receded slightly to $19 USD/Bitcoin.)

On the other hand, after the Bitcoin 'Black Friday' the market is now down 30.3 percent thanks to another major dip on Saturday (this shift is in the inflationary direction).

Last, but not least, if you look at Bitcoin trading over the last month it's seen rampant deflation, with prices soaring from around a dollar in mid-May to current levels -- nearly 20 fold deflation.

So what does all this mean? In short, it indicates that there is a great deal of volatility in the Bitcoin market. Part of this arises out of media coverage of the crypto-currency. Part of it is based on the growing pains of an experimental currency that's still in the proving stages.

Read Full Article

Press For Truth Presents: There's Something In The Water

Canada Lifts Restrictions On Japanese Foods

OTTAWA — Canada has lifted restrictions on food and animal feed imports from Japan imposed over radiation contamination fears following the country’s earthquake and nuclear crisis, officials said Tuesday.

The ban was lifted “in recognition of the fact that all products from Japan tested have shown no harmful levels of contamination,” Tim O’Connor, spokesman for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, told AFP.


Ok we are supposed to believe that the food coming from Japan is safe, and that they are not finding harmful levels of radiation in it? While reports like this one continue to come out.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Stanley Cup loss turns ugly with riots in downtown Vancouver - Peterborough Examiner - Ontario, CA


Posted 41 minutes ago
VANCOUVER — Jerseys were set on fire, cars overturned, windows broken and at least one fan rushed to hospital after plunging from the Georgia Viaduct as riots following the Canucks devastating loss.
While there was a mass exodus of fans before the end of the second period, when Vancouver was down by three goals, tens of thousands of people were still downtown when the crowd turned ugly.
When the third period buzzer went, fans started throwing bottles and cans at the massive TV screens set up on Georgia Street and Hamilton Street, and the mayhem quickly escalated.
One Canucks fan reported that a man in a Bruins shirt turned to him and punched him in the face, leaving him bleeding.
The violence quickly escalated as a vehicle in front the Canada Post building was overturned, its bumper and doors ripped off before people jumped on top of it and set it on fire.
A second car was also set ablaze.
Within a few minutes, at least 100 police in riot gear were pushing back the crowds of mostly youths, some of whom had their faces covered with scarves and apparently trying to incite the crowd.
During the ensuing riot, the windows of a Bank of Montreal were smashed and someone walked into the building.
While only a few appeared to be participating in the destruction, many more followed the crowds with cameras, snapping pictures, videotaping and Tweeting what was happening.
The crowd ignored orders by police over loudspeakers to disperse.
As the tension on the street mounted, the city's mayor asked Canucks fans to "keep things respectful and safe."
On Twitter, he said police and fire were working to put our small fires and urged people to leave the downtown area.
"Please move away to allow crews to move in and keep people safe."
Many were disappointed with the turn of events.
"I'm not going to embarrass this city and break anything. I will be a good sport about it and hope people follow my lead," said Brent Gardner, 27.

Vancouver Riots after Canucks lose


Break free from credit card debt of your own

 Easy access to liquid cash makes credit card one of the most sought after things among folks. It doesn’t make sense to draw money from bank account every time you need it. That is why we stumble upon credit cards when we feel cash short in our pocket. However, this very easy to access process has undone the real purpose of credit cards. We get so dependant on credit cards that we begin to use it for frivolous purpose. Unlike traditional bank loans, credit cards usually have hefty interest charge, from around 15% to 20%. So, when you miss any payment, interest gets accrued. If you make delay on your payment or make less payment, late fine penalties charge upon your account. Thus, you get trapped into vicious cycle of credit card debt forever. Before things go out of hand, you should try to settle credit card debt.

If this is your case, you should first try your own to resolve your credit card debt issues. You can employ a number of customized strategies to get rid of your credit card debt as early as possible. If you have multiple default accounts, you should first tout your focus on those accounts that are carrying exorbitant interest charge. After paying down some credit balance on your high interest card, you can start paying low interest cards. This can give you some relief and boost your confidence.

You can resolve your bad credit either though debt settlement or through consolidation. Here, your job will be a bit challenging as you have to convince your creditor about your concern. You have to make them understand that you are in serious financial hardship and cannot pay their debt. So, you want some debt settlement with your creditors whereby you will pay back outstanding balance through affordable repayment plan. Hereby you will have to negotiate your creditors by yourself and ask them to reduce some portion of your debt. Thus, you will pay less than you owe. However, forgiveness on debt could bring tax implication later.

Taking consolidation loan may help you to manage your debt better. By consolidation, your entire credit accounts will be merged into a low interest credit account of a consolidation company. And you will make your further payment through that singular account. However, it is always better to avail a debt consolidation program in order to pay off your entire creditors.

Apart from all these things, you have to be mindful about increasing your monthly income by doing overtime or some additional job. This extra earning will help you pay off your debt faster.