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Bitcoin Price Analysis: Sign of Strength Shows Continued Buyer Interest

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitcoin Price Analysis

At the time of this article, the news from the Winklevoss ETF being denied by the SEC is still fresh and it is unclear what impact it may have on the overall macro trend of the market. Prior to the ETF ruling, the bulls continued to show demand as the bitcoin market saw a strengthening rally supported by expanding volume:

fig 1Figure 1: BTC-USD, Daily Candles, Macro Trading Range

Shortly after the retest of the trading range (TR) spring discussed in our previous bitcoin market analysis, the price strongly reacted by breaking through notable resistance on expanding spread and volume. Surging out of a spring on expanding volume and spread is a textbook characteristic of a “Jump Across the Creek” (JAC). I won’t bore you with the minutia of TR anatomy, but you can basically think of the JAC (sometimes called a Sign of Strength) as a test of demand after the market has proven to show signs of seller exhaustion. Essentially, the creek can be thought of as a wavy area of resistance that constantly grinds down bulls and wears down their will to continue to buy:

fig 2Figure 2: BTC-USD, Daily Candles, Upper and Lower Creek

The main creek (circled in pink) is a great representation of the general, overhanging area of resistance. In our case, the resistance is perfectly represented by the daily 50 EMA. The JAC occurs when the market supply has dwindled and the order books are clear for a strong surge of buying pressure to suddenly clear resistance levels.

Although the creek and JAC are metaphors, we can think of the spring as a running start and the JAC as the physical act of jumping over a creek (the 50 EMA). Often, markets have both upper and lower creeks — sometimes multiple upper creeks present themselves.

Currently, bitcoin has revealed two creeks it has managed to clear on strong spread and volume. The upper creek (shown above in red) is the daily 200 EMA. So far, we have managed to clear two major resistance levels without so much of a peep from the bears.

One common trait in JACs is a pullback to recently broken resistance (now turned support) to test not only the overhanging supply, but the demand on the buyback of the support test. In our case, our creek support would be on the 200 EMA.

At the time of this article, the Winklevoss ETF was announced as being denied by the SEC. While I don’t personally believe the ETF proposal was a factor priced into this recent bullish rally, it will undoubtedly create tests of the lower price range. If the market manages to break current support levels, a test of the 200 EMA is undoubtedly next on the agenda.

The 200 EMA tends to be the gold standard in terms of market health. Our current breach of the 200 EMA should not be downplayed as it is a sign of strength to larger players that are looking for opportunities to enter the market. If the market manages to retrace to the 200 EMA and if support holds, I fully expect to see a large expansion of volume pushing the price to new highs as this will be a major buy signal for many large, risk-averse, sidelined buyers.

Summary:

  1. Bitcoin has continued to see a sign of strength in the form of expanding volume and increased price spread. This market dynamic is a definite change of character from the months preceding this move and should not be underestimated.
  2. We managed to clear both the daily 50 and 200 EMA and show no signs of weakening demand. If we manage to see a retracement, expect to find support on the 200 EMA where the market will up for further evaluation.
  3. If the market holds the 200 EMA level, it is likely that expanding volume will react on any rally coming off the 200 EMA support.

Trading and investing in digital assets like bitcoin and ether is highly speculative and comes with many risks. This analysis is for informational purposes and should not be considered investment advice. Statements and financial information on Bitcoin Magazine and BTC Media related sites do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BTC Media and should not be construed as an endorsement or recommendation to buy, sell or hold. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.



This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

SEC rejects Winklevoss twins bitcoin fund for the second time, and bitcoin takes a hit

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Screen Shot 2018 07 26 at 5.17.56 PM

  • Bitcoin was trading slightly lower after news broke that regulators had rejected a proposal for a crypto exchange-traded fund for the second time.
  • The SEC first rejected a plan by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, the founders of crypto exchange Gemini, to list a bitcoin ETF in March 2017. 
  • On Thursday, the SEC put out a letter saying it did not agree that Gemini's markets were ready for a derivative product to be based off of them
  • Bitcoin was trading down 1.2% after the news broke, at $8,068 a coin. 
  • Rumors that the SEC would approve a crypto fund has recently fueled a rally in the coin, which is known for its volatile price swings. 
  • Elsewhere in the market, VanEck and SolidX filed a request for a bitcoin-linked ETF. And California asset manager Bitwise asked for permission to list an ETF tied to 10 cryptos earlier this week. 
  • Watch bitcoin trade in real-time.

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Newsflash: Bitcoin Price Slides After SEC Rejects Winklevoss ETF

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The bitcoin price careened back toward $8,000 on Thursday after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rejected the Winklevoss twins’ second attempt to create a bitcoin ETF and list it on a regulated stock exchange. The bitcoin price had entered the evening trading at approximately $8,300, a mark it managed to hold until shortly

The post Newsflash: Bitcoin Price Slides After SEC Rejects Winklevoss ETF appeared first on CCN

Winklevoss Brothers Bitcoin ETF Rejected By SEC for Second Time

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has once again rejected an effort by investors Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss to list a bitcoin ETF.

CoinDesk surveyed 1,200 crypto investors and found their dominant political ideology may not be what you think

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Gary Johnson

  • Crypto and libertarianism are often thought to go hand-and-hand, but a report by CoinDesk found most crypto holders identify as liberal.
  • Different coin communities also have differing political-leanings, the report found. 

Crypto and libertarianism are often thought to go hand-and-hand, but a recent survey by crypto publication CoinDesk has found that the political makeup of crypto enthusiasts isn't exactly what you might expect. 

The survey of 1,200 cryptocurrency investors found that the plurality of respondents identify as liberal, with 27% of those surveyed identifying with the political designation. Meanwhile, 24% identified as libertarian. Socialists made up a paltry 9%, the survey found. Here's a chart:

Screen Shot 2018 07 26 at 2.47.58 PM

The survey, which was part of the firm's broader "State of Blockchain Report," also found that different crypto communities have very different politics. Bitcoin, for instance, leans more right than ether-rival EOS. 55% of bitcoin holders identify as right-leaning, CoinDesk found, whereas only 43% of EOS holders are right-leaning. Here's the chart:

Screen Shot 2018 07 26 at 2.48.11 PM

SEE ALSO: A former Goldman Sachs exec is joining a crypto-trading firm as it eyes a major global expansion

SEE ALSO: Bitcoin king Mike Novogratz leads $52 million investment in crypto-lending startup

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NOW WATCH: An early investor in Airbnb and Uber explains why he started buying bitcoin in 2009

AMD: Our crypto boom is over (AMD)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitcoin, crypto miners

  • AMD surged more than 15% Thursday following its earnings report that topped expectations.
  • The company warned that crypto and blockchain revenues would likely fall to nearly zero this quarter.
  • Follow AMD's stock price in real-time here.

The cryptocurrency boom has all but dried up for chipmaker AMD.

After seeing an unexpected boost from the crypto craze earlier this year — which led to graphics cards flying off the shelves — the company admitted on its earnings call Wednesday that it expects the impact to fall to nearly zero in the third quarter.

"For Q2, we were approximately 6% of revenue for blockchain," Lisa Su, AMD’s chief executive, told analysts. "For Q3, we're planning very little blockchain."

Despite a recent uptick above $8,000, bitcoin, still the world's largest cryptocurrency by market cap, is down 39% since this year.

Luckily, AMD said revenue from its data centers and new line of processors called Ryzen made up for any drop in crypto revenue.

"Graphics revenue was down primarily driven by lower blockchain sales partially offset by stronger data center sales," Devinder Kumar, AMD's chief financial officer, said on the call. "Forty-four consumer and commercial Ryzen-based desktops and notebooks have been launched this year, and our customers remain on track to bring a total of 60 Ryzen-based systems to market in 2018."

Shares of AMD surged more than 13% Thursday following the company's earnings report that topped Wall Street expectations. They're up 65% this year.

AMD stock price

SEE ALSO: Under Armour beats as North American sales climb for the first time in a year

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Court Sentences Bitcoin Ransomware Creators to Community Service

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The developers behind the CoinVault and BitCryptor ransomware were sentenced to 240 hours of community service in a Dutch court on Thursday.

Southwest Airlines believes the emergency landing that left one woman dead cost the airline $100 million in business (LUV)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

southwest airlines emergency landing

  • Southwest Airlines said during its second-quarter earnings call on Thursday that April's emergency landing in Philadelphia cost the carrier $100 million in business.
  • Revenue from passenger traffic is down 0.4% over the same period in 2017.
  • CEO Gary Kelly attributed higher fuel prices and the effects stemming from the deadly April 17 accident on Flight 1380 for the reduced revenues.
  • Despite the challenges, the airline still posted a second-quarter profit. 

Southwest Airlines' business is still feeling the effects of the emergency landing that left one passenger dead on April 17. 

"The revenue effects of the accident reduced second quarter 2018 passenger revenues by $100 million. We expect the revenue impact from this headwind to be temporary and subside in third quarter 2018 and are encouraged by the solid rebound in demand," Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said in a press release on Thursday.

Kelly continued: "I am especially proud of the heroic efforts of our People to address and overcome the challenges resulting from the accident." 

Twenty minutes into Flight 1380 from New York to Dallas, an engine exploded in midair, shattering a window. The explosion prompted an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport as the plane depressurized and lost altitude.

Seven passengers were taken to the hospital for injuries sustained during the explosion. Jennifer Riordan, 43, died as a result of her injuries. Riordan lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she worked as a vice president of community relations at Wells Fargo. Riordan is survived by her husband, Michael, and two children. 

The fatality was the first on an American airline since 2009. The Dallas-based carrier experienced a decline in bookings following the increased publicity generated by the tragic accident. The airline said in June that it expected its revenue per mile flown to fall 3%, CNN Money reported. 

On Thursday, Southwest announced that unit revenue did in fact fall 3% from a year ago.  

Southwest also experienced difficulties stemming from rising fuel costs. Fuel prices have increased by as much as 50% this year, leading to lower profit projections by both domestic and international legacy carriers. 

Despite these challenges, Southwest still posted a second-quarter profit, with net income of $733 million and second-quarter total operating revenues increasing 0.2% to $5.7 billion. 

However, revenue from passenger traffic, compared to the same period in 2017, is down 0.4% to $5.36 billion.

SEE ALSO: The Southwest plane that blew an engine, causing one woman to die, could be put back into operation

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NOW WATCH: An early investor in Airbnb and Uber explains why he started buying bitcoin in 2009

Analysis: Is Bitcoin’s Bull Run Done?

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Editor’s Note: The price analysis was drafted at 19:30 UTC, July 26th. Amid a treacherous start to 2018, Bitcoin began bouncing back May 10th when the coin’s market capitalization dominance began its 11% ascent to 46.9%. In the past week Bitcoin has returned 9.7%, and in the last month is up almost 45%. In the

The post Analysis: Is Bitcoin’s Bull Run Done? appeared first on CCN

An early bitcoin investor explains what most people get wrong about the cryptocurrency

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

  • Jeffrey Wernick is an independent investor whose portfolio includes early holdings in Uber and Airbnb. Wernick was also an early investor in bitcoin. He started buying it in 2009, the year it was created.
  • Wernick says that people misunderstand bitcoin because it is often explained as a payment mechanism instead of as a store of value. He thinks many investors ignore the philosophy behind it. 
  • Wernick says bitcoin is a "people's money." He sees cryptocurrency as the only way to object to a financial system which he believes is responsible for the growing wealth inequality in America.

Jeffrey Wernick is a hard money advocate and an independent investor. His angel investment portfolio includes early holdings in Uber and Airbnb . Wernick serves on the advisory boards of DataWallet and Qtum . He started his career at Salomon Brothers and the National Bank of Detroit. Wernick founded, then sold, the risk management firm AVI Portfolio Services Company, Inc. before focusing on his private investment portfolio. Following is a transcript of the video.

Sara Silverstein: What do you think most people get wrong about bitcoin or cryptocurrency?

Wernick: I think for many people it's the concept seems very abstract and I think the hardest thing is for people to understand, and to the extent that they get it wrong, I think probably it's because not enough people are explaining it very well, because most of it, people are explaining it as a payment mechanism, not as a store of value, and why it might be a good store of value. So I think people don't understand the philosophy behind it, because the people now in the business were not there in 2009 and 2010, they didn't care about the philosophy. People who have got into it now talk more about blockchain than bitcoin, because they're just looking for an alternative model to make money and they don't care aboutthey're agnostic to the initial philosophical framework that drove people to adopt bitcoin to begin with and kept it alive from 2009 through 2013 or '14, when all of a sudden, adoption started to grow. There was a small universe of people that actively worked to keep it alive by continuing to mine and continuing to buy and they were doing it because of the concept that they believed in, and that it's a people's money.

You know, fromand even what I told you years ago when I said, "If you buy crypto, all you got to sit back and think about is — don't think about how it's going to be priced today or tomorrow." First, be prepared to lose everything you invest in, and wait untiland wait for five years and don't even think about trading it. If bitcoin's alive in five years, it's going to be significantly higher than it is the day you buy it.

Since bitcoin has been created in 2009, it's outperformed every currency, even with governments hostile to it, and a regulatory regime that's an uncertain regime and the governments have been designing, have been managing it in a way so people cannot know what to expect. So it's amazing the valuation it has today given the fact that it only faces, it only faces headwinds, no tailwinds. Every government throughout the world is trying to figure out how to stop and kill bitcoin.

I think over five years, you're going to accumulate a lot more wealth than you would in any other alternative investment, but again, you don't want to buy more than you can afford to lose, because I could be wrong, and you'd be making a statement to the government that says,What you're doing is completely unacceptable. Because if you think about how the financial system works, the financial system punishes the saver and benefits the borrower, but only benefits a small classification of borrowers.

You know, I calculatedand you know and I have a pretty good net worth I calculated that if I wanted to buy like a trophy property in Manhattan, that the cost of capital advantage that like Blackstone has to me, I would have to generate 30% more in cash flows in the building to just — to be able to compensate for my cost of capital disadvantage relative to Blackstone. So we have to take a look at why is so much wealth concentrated? So much wealth is concentrated because certain only a small universe of people have access to a cost of capital that's so much cheaper than just about anybody else and that cost of capital difference is so great that basically it means that they can win in every bid on any, any asset that they're interested in buying. And so there's no competition for buying the best assets because only a small group of people have access to the type of cost of capital that essentially zero in nature. And that's a product of this financial system. It's a product of the government, the government policy, it's a product of the tax code.

So right now — it used to be you could accumulate some wealth through the power of compound interest, but at zero interest rates, you can't compound any wealth anymore unless you want to take the risk of going into the markets, and everywhere, everybody is warning that the markets might be overvalued. So given the fact that the capital markets are overvalued because they're subsidized by those low interest rates, that the biggest institutions that have the biggest access to leverage at cost of capital significantly cheaper than anyone else can produce. Then the question is, is what, what for a typical middle class person how do they accumulate wealth? And I think their only answer is to put a certain percentage in crypto. There have been some studies that show that now, that if you put 5-10% of your money in crypto that actually on a risk-adjusted basis it improves your total portfolio returns.

So I think everybody should put something into crypto. And the people who move first will make  more money than those that move second, who'll make more money than those that move third, and — and eventually when crypto is broadly adopted, then people start using it as an exchange, and it will no longer be volatile in pricing, it'll be stable in pricing. But I want to be very clear is a lot of the volatility in pricing has to do with uncertainty on government policy towards it. So the government is creating thiswhile the government is trying to mitigate volatility in ordinary capital markets, they're trying to exacerbate volatility in crypto markets.

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Crypto Markets Surpasses $300 Billion; Did ETF Cause Bitcoin to Rally?

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The valuation of the crypto market has surpassed the $300 billion mark, as bitcoin recovered to $8,200 and small cryptocurrencies experienced a spike in value over the past 48 hours. Slight Decline in Momentum On July 25, at its peak, the price of bitcoin achieved $8,500, as its volume skyrocketed from $3 billion to $6

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A former Tesla employee Elon Musk called 'a horrible human being' is meeting with the SEC (TSLA)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Tesla Model 3

  • Former Tesla employee and "whistleblower" Martin Tripp is meeting with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Tripp's lawyer, Stuart Meissner, said on Wednesday.
  • Earlier this month, Tripp filed a tip with the SEC. 
  • Meissner told Business Insider that while the meeting does not guarantee the SEC will launch a formal investigation on behalf of Tripp, it is a promising step in that direction.
  • According to The Washington Post, his complaint repeats claims Tripp had previously made to Business Insider, including that Tesla used batteries with puncture holes in vehicles meant for consumers. Tesla has previously denied this claim.


Former Tesla employee Martin Tripp is meeting with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Tripp's lawyer, Stuart Meissner, said on Wednesday.

"Good News — received a call back this week from SEC Enforcement on Mr. Tripp's $TSLA Whistleblower submission. Will be following up next week. We intend to fully cooperate," Meissner said on Twitter.

Earlier this month, Tripp filed a tip with the SEC. According to The Washington Post, his complaint repeats claims Tripp had previously made to Business Insider, including that Tesla used batteries with puncture holes in vehicles meant for consumers. Tesla has previously denied this claim.

Tripp also claimed the company overreported Model 3 production by up to 44%, according to the Post.

Meissner specializes in SEC whistleblowing cases and represented a former Monsanto executive who won a $22.5 million award for alerting the SEC to improper accounting practices at the company.

Meissner told Business Insider that approximately 70% of the whistleblower tips he files with the SEC on behalf of clients don't receive a response from the agency. While he said a meeting with the SEC doesn't guarantee it will launch a formal investigation, in his experience, a response from the agency will often lead to more than one conversation.

"To get a callback on a case, I deem it very significant," he said.

"I don't remember the last time it ended with just a callback and an initial phone conference. Usually, it continues on."

The SEC and Tesla declined to comment.

In its 2017 annual report, the SEC said it had received over 22,000 whistleblower tips since August 2012 and given 46 people whistleblower awards.

In June, Tesla filed a lawsuit against Tripp, alleging that he hacked confidential company information and gave it to parties outside the company.

In an email exchange with Tripp, Tesla CEO Elon Musk called him "a horrible human being."

In an interview with The Guardian , Tripp said he leaked information about the company because his supervisors and other senior employees were not responsive to his concerns. He also told The Guardian he did not intend to commit sabotage against the company, but was instead concerned about safety.

SEE ALSO: Tesla pushes back the delivery windows for two of the three versions of the Model 3 that are currently available

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Delta's website suffered a glitch that wouldn't let some people buy tickets, and passengers are not happy (DAL)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Delta Airbus A350 900 MSN115 take off 005

  • The official website for Delta Air Lines suffered from a technical glitch that prevented certain passengers from buying tickets on Thursday.
  • Complaints from various Delta customers indicated that there were several nonresponsive icons on the website's purchase page that prevent tickets from being booked.
  • In a statement, the airline apologized and said it is working to address the technical issue.

The official website for Delta Air Lines suffered from technical issues that prevented certain passengers from purchasing tickets on Thursday. 

One passenger complained that the website wouldn't let her select seats or complete the purchase of tickets, while another said that the site wouldn't allow her to enter her credit-card information. 

According to accounts from various Delta customers, several important icons on the website's purchase page were nonresponsive. This has led to a series of customer complaints on the airline's Twitter page.

Delta websiteDelta's social media representatives apologized to customers and offered to help them book tickets directly. 

The cause of the website glitch remains unknown.

"Delta is addressing an issue that select customers have been encountering when attempting to purchase a ticket on Delta.com," an airline spokeswoman told Business Insider. "We apologize for any inconvenience and suggest customers use the Fly Delta app where full booking functionality is available."

Business Insider was not able to replicate the issues experienced by the passengers. We attempted to book tickets by going directly through Delta's website and via third-party portals using two different browsers. 

 

SEE ALSO: American Airlines just announced a major change to its basic economy tickets that passengers will love

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NOW WATCH: An early investor in Uber, Airbnb, and bitcoin explains why it's actually a good sign that no one is spending their crypto

INTERNAL MEMO: Bank of America has filled one of its most senior investment banking roles with a 25-year vet from Barclays (BAC)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bank of America

Bank of America has filled one of its most senior investment banking positions with a 25-year industry vet from Barclays. 

Jill Schwartz is joining Bank of America as the executive vice chairman of Global Corporate and Investment Banking, according to a memo from investment bank head Christian Meissner obtained by Business Insider.  

Schwartz joins from Barclays, where she held several senior roles since joining in 2010, most recently as global head of leveraged finance. Before that, she spent 18 years at JPMorgan

Here's the full memo: 

A message from Christian Meissner, head of Global Corporate & Investment Banking

To: Global Corporate & Investment Banking employees

I am pleased to announce that Jill Schwartz has been appointed executive vice chairman of Global Corporate & Investment Banking. She will join the firm this fall, be based in New York and report to me. Jill will be responsible for deepening client relationships globally across Global Corporate & Investment Banking and driving greater collaboration across our capital markets products, including a focus on capital structure, financing and risk management expertise to better service our clients.

A seasoned banker with more than 25 years of experience and leadership skills, Jill joins us from Barclays Capital, where she served as global head of Leveraged Finance and head of Barclays International Diversity Council. Prior to that, she held a variety of senior roles, including co-head of Debt Capital Markets & Risk Solutions as well as head of Americas Risk Solutions in addition to senior positions within Global Commodities and Global Rates and Currencies. Prior to joining Barclays, Jill was at JP Morgan for 18 years in a variety of markets roles. 

Jill’s depth of experience and expertise spanning Global Banking and Markets will be a valuable addition to our leading franchise.  

Please join me in welcoming Jill to the firm.

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NOW WATCH: An early investor in Uber, Airbnb, and bitcoin explains why it's actually a good sign that no one is spending their crypto

Yes, Stablecoins Can Secure Official Audits from Major Firms

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Yes, Stablecoins Can Secure Official Audits from Major Firms

“We have nothing to hide,” says Tory Reiss, VP of corporate development at TrustToken. Like the market’s most popular stablecoin, Tether, TrustToken's TrueUSD is fiat-collateralized. Under this model, each token (in theory) should be backed 1:1 with a corresponding dollar in a related bank account.

This model may not play out in practice as it does in theory, however. In a recent interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Reiss's comment summarizes the bulk of his answer to our first question: How is TrueUSD different from Tether?

A Different Approach to Fiat-Backed Stability

Unlike Tether, which plays custodian, issuer and representative for all tokens and their congenital funds, Reiss explains that TrustToken has no control over the network’s monetary flow.

“There are a few pretty major components,” he began. “To be honest, the biggest difference — when we started the businesses, we spent a lot of time architecting legal framework and also financial framework in terms of where the funds are held and how they’re held, which was built around removing us, the company, from the flow of funds and protecting all the token holders in a legal manner from us being able to withdraw or access their funds.”

Instead, a combination of smart contracts, escrow accounts and fiduciary partners manage token supply and issuance. TrustToken’s fiduciary partners include the Nevada-based Alliance Trust Company and Prime Trust (which also banks for the stablecoin Stronghold USD), and these firms leverage smart contracts to mint and buy back tokens. Whenever a new user wants to mint fresh TrueUSD, they can wire money to one of these trusts, and once the funds are settled into the trust’s bank accounts, the smart contract mints new tokens and issues them to the user. To redeem tokens, users burn them through a smart contract, and the respective trust then wires the user the corresponding funds.

“We have a dashboard that we’ve built for our fiduciary partners. Only after they’ve received those funds and they’ve settled for 24 hours can those partners go onto the dashboard and mark that transaction as settled to mint new tokens,” Reiss explained. “We act on behalf of the token holder but, as a business, we can’t access those funds.”

This process allows TrustToken to be as hands-off as possible while also providing them with the code-certain protections of smart contracts and the reliability of a central source of liquidity and asset management.

The system is a more complex version of Tether’s own with more working parts. In fact, Reiss suggested that his team viewed Tether as a sort of working model for what not to do, highlighting the need for clear legal and financial safety nets for its users.

“We learned from Tether’s mistakes in the sense that they put none of those legal protections in place. They hold all of their funds in an omnibus account where they can essentially do whatever they please with the money in that account. In our case, we could never preprint TrueUSD or have a disparity between funds in the accounts and tokens on the chain,” he stated.

Tether has come under fire for its printing/issuance practices in the past. Critics have long speculated that Tether does not have parity between the dollars in its bank accounts and on-chain tokens. Researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, even released a report in June of this year that seems to corroborate this suspicion, laying out evidence that suggests that Tether may have been used to artificially inflate bitcoin's price during 2017’s bull market.

The smart contracts prevent TrustToken or its partners from preprinting TrueUSD without having dollars to back them. Funds have to hit the trust’s bank account and sit for 24 hours before the smart contract will mint new tokens.

Even if the smart contract didn’t police token issuance, TrueUSD’s accounts would, Reiss claimed. If at any point during their professional relationship the token’s auditor found a discrepancy in supply and fiat reserves, the partnership would terminate.

“We have one top-50 accounting partner (Cohen & Company) that is performing attestation. When they look at your books, they look at all of your transactions. And if your account isn’t in line from day zero, they won’t maintain an audit account.”

Reiss believes that, whether Tether won’t submit to an audit for fear of this outcome or has had a relationship terminated because of a discrepancy, this is why the world’s most popular stablecoin has no official audit on record.

“That’s most likely the case why Tether can’t have a true audit partner — but in our case it’s worked in our favor because we have nothing to hide.”

Tether has never submitted itself to an official audit by any certified accounting firm. The company claims that it’s not out of defiance; it’s simply because no firm is willing to take a risk working with a cryptocurrency company given the industry’s stigmatized connection to money laundering, tax evasion and the dark web. An audit by one of the U.S.’s big four (Deloitte, Ernst & Young, PwC and KPMG), the team claims, is especially elusive.

In lieu of an official audit, Tether has conducted a financial review by Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP, a law firm co-founded by former FBI Director Louis Freeh.

The Other Side of the Coin

TrueUSD’s operations tell another story. Not only does Cohen & Company currently conduct audits for the currency, but Reiss indicated in our interview that TrustToken is in talks with two of the big four accounting firms to provide audits in the future.

TrustToken also publishes regular attestations from Cohen & Company’s audits on their Medium blog. When they strike a working relationship with one of the big four, the company plans to publish “live attestations (via a public dashboard),” Reiss claimed.

Throughout the interview, Reiss repeatedly iterated that the company is operating in the open. Furthermore, because TrustToken is also playing ball with regulators, the company claims to have close-at-hand opportunities to expand its services.

“Our project is working entirely with U.S. securities laws and also those in Europe, Asia and South America. We’re aiming to build a compliant system that works within the existing regulatory regime but which hopefully expands access,” Reiss said.

This expansion will look to bring the stablecoin model “to European and Asian currencies this quarter,” he continued, also revealing that the company is “aiming for a half dozen [exchange listings] in the next month or so.” Currently, TrueUSD is offered on Binance, HBUS, Bittrex and Cryptopia, among others.

TrustToken has earned funding from Andreessen Horowitz’s a16z crypto, Foundation Capital and Founders Fund, among others. The company has also pooled talent from the likes of Facebook, Airbnb, PayPal, Google and Goldman Sachs.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

What you need to know on Wall Street today

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Welcome to Finance Insider, Business Insider's summary of the top stories of the past 24 hours. Sign up here to get the best of Business Insider delivered direct to your inbox.

Facebook's earnings disaster has it on pace to lose $115 billion in market value

Facebook is on pace to make the wrong type of history.

The Mark Zuckerberg -led social-media titan saw shares drop more than 18% on Thursday following a disastrous second-quarter earnings report. The damage was swift and unforgiving in the after-market on Wednesday as Facebook plummeted as much as 24% within an hour. The selling has now spilled over into regular trading.

Investors took issue with sales and subscriber numbers that fell short of expectations. But, perhaps most damaging of all, the company warned of a growth slowdown . Facebook is now headed for its biggest single-day drop since it started trading publicly in May 2012.

In other Facebook news, an activist Facebook shareholder is drawing up a new proposal to fire Mark Zuckerberg as chairman. 

'The next frontier for us': Inside State Street's multi- billion dollar bet on financial data

State Street recently announced a deal to buy the financial-data firm Charles River Development for $2.6 billion. The deal was seen as a step toward Wall Street trading floors for the company.

It's a big bet. When State Street announced the deal alongside the cancellation of a big buyback, the company's stock dropped 8%.

According to Lou Maiuri, an executive vice president at State Street, the deal is meant to help the firm pipe in tools it's been quietly working on to trading floors everywhere.

It represents the next step in the company's efforts to create a one-stop shop for Wall Street firms looking for solutions from the back office, where State Street helps custody assets, to the front office, where traders pick winning stocks.

A former Goldman Sachs exec is joining a crypto-trading firm as it eyes a major global expansion

Circle, the cryptocurrency exchange operator, has snagged a former Goldman Sachs executive to help navigate the murky regulatory waters as it expands globally, Business Insider has learned.

Benedicte Nolens, who joined the firm directly from Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission, has been named Circle's head of global regulatory affairs, as well as head of compliance for its operations in Europe and Asia.

Previously, Nolens was an executive director at Goldman Sachs, working at the firm for more than a decade. She also once served as chief compliance officer for Credit Suisse, the Swiss bank.

In markets news

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American Airlines just announced a major change to its basic economy tickets that passengers will love

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

American Airlines Airbus A319

  • American Airlines will allow basic economy ticket holders a free carry on bag beginning September 5.
  • The airline announced the policy change during its second quarter 2018 earnings call.
  • American Airlines CEO Doug Parker cited the need to make basic economy more competitive in the marketplace and consumer-friendly as the reasoning behind the change.

American Airlines will soon allow free carry-on bags for its basic economy tickets. The Fort Worth, Texas-based airline made the announcement on Thursday during its second quarter 2018 earnings call.

Beginning September 5, American will allow basic economy tickets holders a free carry-on bag as well as the personal item already permitted on board.

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker cited the need to make its basic economy product more competitive and consumer-friendly as the reasoning behind the policy change. 

"Basic Economy is working well in the markets where we offer it, and we continue to see more than 60 percent of customers buy up to Main Cabin when offered a choice," company president Robert Isom said in a statement. "Removing the bag restriction will make Basic Economy more competitive, allowing us to offer this low-fare product to more customers."

American, Delta, and United all offer an unbundled basic economy offering as a means to compete for budget-conscious consumers that would otherwise fly with ultra-low-cost carriers likes Spirit or Frontier. American's updated carry-on bag policy will bring it in line with Delta Air Lines. As a result, United will be the only one of three that restrict basic economy ticket holders to just a personal item. 

American Airlines reported a second-quarter profit of $566 million, down from $864 million during the same period last year. The airline cited increasing fuel prices and a costly technical failure at its PSA Airlines subsidiary for the lower profitability. 

The airlines spent an addition $593 million on fuel during the quarter and expect to spend an additional $2 billion for the year.

SEE ALSO: Airplane seats are smaller than ever, but the CEOs of Delta and American vow they won't shrink anymore

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A former Goldman Sachs exec is joining a crypto-trading firm as it eyes a major global expansion

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Screen Shot 2018 07 25 at 3.32.47 PM

  • Circle has brought on Benedicte Nolens to help it navigate the murky regulatory waters as it expands globally and into new products. 
  • She previously was a regulator in Hong Kong and a Goldman Sachs executive. 

Circle, the cryptocurrency exchange operator, has snagged a former Goldman Sachs executive to help navigate the murky regulatory waters as it expands globally, Business Insider has learned. 

Benedicte Nolens, who joined the firm directly from Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission, has been named Circle's head of global regulatory affairs, as well as head of compliance for its operations in Europe and Asia. 

Previously, Nolens was an executive director at Goldman Sachs, working at the firm for more than a decade. She also once served as chief compliance officer for Credit Suisse, the Swiss bank.

She joins Circle as it seeks to expand its business globally. Already, the exchange has recently moved into Asia with offices in Hong Kong and Beijing. Its over-the-counter trading operation, which began operating in the region earlier this year, has grown at a fast clip, making up about 30% of its $2 billion of global monthly trading volume.

Nolens joins the firm as it hires regulatory heavy-weights to expand product lines and grows into new markets, chief executive Jeremy Allaire told Business Insider in an interview.

Circle operates a number of crypto businesses, including an exchange and retail broker. It is also looking to break into the world of securities tokens, which would allow it to trade crypto-based assets registered as securities similar to stocks. 

"We want to make sure we can work with businesses that want to launch a tokenized security, and we want to support them by providing platforms where they can do that," Allaire said. "We are making sure we have the products and the regulatory framework in place to support crypto-commodities but also these crypto-securities."

It's not clear when crypto-companies will have the clearance from regulators to conduct trading of these securities. Coinbase had told Bloomberg it got the green-light, only to clarify a day later that regulators in the US had not given them permission. 

Still, Nolens is hopeful and excited to work with regulators over the next 12 months, a period which she thinks will be more about figuring things out than the issuance of clear guidance. 

"Over there 12 months there is a lot of room to grow and we are involved in regulatory meetings globally where they are thinking about the best way to approach the space," Nolens said. "And I will say in my own opinion both when I was a regulator, and now, they are generally looking on a global scale, keeping an open mind about the space."

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Bitcoin's Cutting-Edge 'Coin Selection' Tech Gets First Major Integration

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

BitGo is taking advantage of a long-promised scaling tech that should see user's transaction fees slashed by up to one-third.

'The next frontier for us': Inside State Street's multi billion dollar bet on financial data (STT)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

50 Cent trading floor

  • State Street recently announed a deal to buy financial data firm Charles River Development for $2.6 billion. The deal was seen as a step onto Wall Street trading floors for the company. 
  • It's a big bet. When State Street announced the deal alongside the cancellation of a big buyback, the company's stock dropped 8%.  
  • According to Lou Maiuri, an executive vice president at State Street, the deal will help the firm pipe tools it's been quietly working on in to trading floors everywhere.
  • It represents the next step in the company's efforts to create a one-stop shop for Wall Street firms looking for solutions from the back office, where State Street helps custody assets, to the front office, where traders pick winning stocks. 

"The front-office has been the next frontier for us."

Lou Maiuri, who heads up businesses spanning research, trading, tech and innovation at State Street, is talking about the trading floors across Wall Street that execute trades on behalf of investors. For State Street, which is best known for its sleepy custody business, it's a new focus, one which has been taken to the next level with the recent deal to buy financial data firm Charles River Development for $2.6 billion.

Charles River will boost State Street's efforts because it will fill in the gaps in the firm's front-office offerings, including portfolio construction, order management, and trading. It will also help State Street pipe front office tools it's been quietly working on in to trading floors everywhere. Charles River boasts a large userbase with 25,000 clients totalling $25 trillion in assets, according to its website. 

Screen Shot 2018 07 25 at 1.23.34 PM

There's already a number of businesses operated by State Street that touch the front office, including FundConnect, a platform of electronic trading systems.

And two years ago, it started a push into tools relating to data and analytics, said Steve Marshall, a managing director at State Street. 

"There was a recognition then that we wanted to do something different," said Marshall. “How we could address the big challenge our clients were facing?”

An unorthodox plan

Ultimately, State Street came up with a plan to bring on an external firm to engage with 100 of their largest asset management clients. The goal was straightforward: to unearth their biggest struggles and to then come up with solutions. At the time, it wasn't clear if that plan would work and was met internally with skepticism, said Maiuri.

"I think it was after the third meeting, my team was saying to me 'you have to stop this,'" Maiuri said. 

"They thought they were asking the clients stupid questions."

But those questions, which ranged from "what does your commute look like" to "what do you do on the weekend," served as a foundation for a new mobile app, which points to a shift happening at the firm. 

The big take-away from those client meetings was that news was a real problem for the front-office. 

Before heading to work and on the weekend, portfolio managers and traders had no good way of knowing what news pertaining to their stock holdings was relevant to them, Maiuri said. 

"They weren't connected and there was a fear of missing out on things," Maiuri said. "So then we thought what if we could help them read the news so when they wake up they can pick up their phone, check our app, and figure out what is most important so by the time they get to the office they are ready."

The team toyed with nine different ideas before they went with what would ultimately become VersusSM, according to Maiuri. Leveraging a team of journalists, natural language processing, and machine learning, the platform scans financial news for information against data on client holdings to pinpoint and rank the most relevant news stories. That information is curated onto a newsfeed, showing the degree to which that news directly, or indirectly, impacts a particular holding.

"You want to look for connections that are obvious, and not obvious," Marshall said. 

That's because a story might not mention a particular stock, but could impact said stock in a positive or negative way. Let's say for instance that a trader owns shares in a biotech that had its drug denied by the Food and Drug Administration. At first glance, that appears to just be bad news for that one holding, but VersusSM would also identify other connections. 

"Maybe it is also bad for a supplier to that company, which you own, or maybe you own a direct competitor, and so in one respect the news is not that bad," Marshall said.

What's striking is State Street has brought on six former financial journalists and editors to give supervised feedback on the product. 

Thus far, the firm has 25 clients — mostly long-short and long-only equity hedge funds and asset managers — using the product. 

VersusSM joins MKT, another front-office aimed data product tied to news, which has not been previously reported on. 

Whereas, the point of Versus is to flag relevant articles, MKT scans thousands of articles to produce a sentiment number for investors to plug into trading models. 

"It's teasing out the signal from the noise," said Will Kinlaw, a senior managing director and head of State Street Associates, an academic research unit of the firm. 

The effort got off the ground three years ago but didn't come to market until last year. It looks at a number of indicators, including the amount of analyst coverage a firm has and the tone of coverage for 3,000 companies. Something that makes the product standout is its bias-correction capabilities. 

"It adjusts things like a reporter who tends to be negative and then suddenly becomes less negative, that would be registered as a positive signal," Kinlaw said. 

A new kind of business

Custody banks like State Street are under pressure from low revenues as their large clients in financial services push them to lower fees on custody. In turn, they're looking for new revenue opportunities. 

The plan for State Street is to bring insight tools like Versus and MKT onto the Charles River platform. 

"It could include our insights or distribute others," Maiuri said. 

"They are painting it as a move toward a one stop buy-side technology shop to help the larger firms better rationalize their infrastructure," Larry Tabb, founder of Tabb Group, said of the acquisition. "Not so heavy on the outsourcing model but really a much tighter integration from front to back and including wealth which can be scaled across State Street’s customer base, in addition to providing an open infrastructure for other custodians as well."

That shift will likely translate into more and more data and analytic products like Versus and MKT. Maiuri said the firm is talking to big data companies to spin-out new ventures. 

"We will talk to Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg," Maiuri said.

Already State Street is working with its asset management unit on a tool to help them make their front office more efficient. 

"It is going to plug right into Charles River," Maiuri said. "I could see us at some point announcing a distribution partnership and I think you will see some more of this stuff roll out before the end of the year."

SEE ALSO: Citadel Securities, a massive Wall Street trader, has made an unusual bet on humans, and it could help the firm tap into an $800 billion market

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Up 45%: Is Bitcoin's Price Preparing for a Long-Term Bull Market?

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitcoin's price has rallied 45 percent in the last four weeks, setting the stage for a long-term bull market, according to technical charts.

The CEO of Roche Pharmaceuticals explains why the company became a deal-machine in 2018

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Roche Pharmaceuticals CEO Daniel O'Day

  • Roche in June bought out the rest of cancer genetics company Foundation Medicine that it didn't already own for $2.4 billion. 
  • It was the company's second cancer data-related acquisition of the year after Roche scooped up Flatiron Health for $1.9 billion.
  • Roche Pharmaceuticals CEO Daniel O'Day told Business Insider why the company brought both of the companies directly under Roche in such quick succession. 

Swiss pharma giant Roche has been making big bets on cancer data.

In June, it acquired the rest of cancer genetics company Foundation Medicine that it didn't already own for $2.4 billion.

It was Roche's second cancer data-related deal in 2018. In February, it paid $1.9 billion for the New York-based healthcare technology startup Flatiron Health, which collects clinical data from cancer patients — such as what medications patients have taken and how they have responded to them.

Business Insider spoke with Roche Pharmaceuticals CEO Daniel O'Day about how the two deals came together.

How majority stakes led to full-out deals

The Roche Group is made up of a number of different businesses, spanning from diagnostics to cancer drug development, and it's had a longstanding relationship with both Flatiron and Foundation. Roche's Genentech arm had been one of Flatiron's early clients back in 2013. Then toward the end of 2015, Roche led the company's $175 million Series C.

As Flatiron was starting to fundraise toward the end of 2017, its leadership team started chatting more with O'Day.

"We sat down at the end of last year, and said we can both be successful continuing to do what we're doing and working in partnership on our own," O'Day said. "But we both felt that we could accelerate each other's missions a great deal if we became one entity."

That same rationale, O'Day said, applied to Foundation Medicine. 

A few years ago, O'Day started discussing funding with Michael Pellini, who was then the CEO of Foundation. 

"So Mike and I sat down, and we said — they were also considering traditional funding rounds — and we said is there a way for the same rationale, expertise and capital coming together and that's when we decided to take a majority stake," O'Day said. Roche ultimately took a majority stake in Foundation in January 2015, which made sense at the time to O'Day over a full acquisition. 

"At that time, Foundation Medicine was at a different state at their evolution. We firmly believed in them but they were still really establishing their presence in the market," O'Day said. "So we thought majority share at that time would be appropriate."

Working with Foundation, Roche co-developed a number of tools to accompany the drugmaker's cancer drugs. Eventually, a full acquisition was on the table. 

"We just came to a point this year where we said, "It's worked well in majority ownership why don't we take it to the full level?'" O'Day said. 

Keeping autonomy

A Swiss pharmaceutical giant, a cancer genetics company, and a New York City tech startup don't exactly have the same work culture. To that end, as part of both the Flatiron and Foundation acquisitions, Roche emphasized the importance of keeping the two companies autonomous.  

"It's a unique model because although it's full ownership, as you know we will keep them quite autonomous," O'Day said. "That's important for a number of reasons. They're different companies than Roche, different environments, different cultures, very entrepreneurial, we want to keep and respect that."

As a result of autonomy, both Foundation and Flatiron can still work with other pharmaceutical companies, as well as academic researchers. For example, Foundation is working with Bristol-Myers Squibb on tests that determine how many tumor mutations a particular cancer patient has as a way to see if he or she might be a good candidate for BMS's immunotherapy treatments. 

"You might say, well, this is all good for Roche, why are you sharing with other companies?" O'Day said. "I think it's a move that a leader in a field would make."

One way where the data Flatiron and Foundation collect could come in handy for drugmakers is through clinical trials. For example, the data Flatiron collects on how cancer patients are responding to a certain drug regimen could be used in a clinical trial to simulate a control arm. In cancer drug trials, drugmakers have to stack up their experimental drugs in comparison to the standard way that particular cancer is treated. But if that half of the trial could be simulated, it could save drug companies like Roche time and money. 

But virtual control arms are a long way from passing FDA scrutiny as a way for drugmakers to submit data on their experimental drugs. Having other drugmakers add to that evidence as to why the FDA should allow it would help Roche make its case. 

"If you're going to go to the FDA and get a new standard, you have to do that with a community," O'Day said. "The more companies we can get to work and to validate the data from Flatiron, the more we can change standards, and that'll be good for the whole industry, and that'll be good for us."

SEE ALSO: Startup cofounders who sold their first startup to Google for $70 million and their second for $1.9 billion reveal how they built wildly successful businesses twice

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12 BTC Only: You Can Now Buy Your Antigua Citizenship with Bitcoin

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

With the lowest amount required to become an Antiguan Barbudian via an investment being US$100,000, you now only need a little over 12 bitcoins to pay for that at current prices. This is after Antigua and Barbuda’s Citizenship by Investment Program Act was amended by the country’s parliament allowing payments to be made using bitcoin … Continued

The post 12 BTC Only: You Can Now Buy Your Antigua Citizenship with Bitcoin appeared first on CCN

'I can monetize those eyeballs': Gwyneth Paltrow said the uproar over her controversial vagina steaming recommendation was a business opportunity

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Gwyneth Paltrow

  • Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle website Goop is infamous for recommending treatments that are later debunked by medical professionals.
  • Past treatments have included using stickers that "promote healing" and steaming your vagina to balance hormone levels.
  • Doctors have said the treatments can range from ineffective to downright dangerous.
  • But a new interview with The New York Times, Paltrow shows she knows she can profit from controversy.
  • Paltrow says that controversy drives traffic to her site and "I can monetize those eyeballs."
  • Paltrow also revealed that her Goop magazine venture with Condé Nast collapsed partly because she objected to anybody fact-checking the articles.

Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle website Goop has long been criticized by health professionals for offering bad advice that has even been described as "deceptive" and "illegal" by an advertising watchdog.

But in a new interview with The New York Times, Paltrow reveals how she seeks to monetize the controversy and make cash from the outrage over her bizarre recommendations.

One article recommended that people steam their vaginas, a process that has been widely criticized by gynecologists, who say it could upset the vagina's pH balance and lead to dangerous burns.

Other debunked suggestions include jade eggs for your vagina that "recharge " from moonlight, or stickers for your skin that "promote healing ."

In one article, Goop interviewed a "naturopathic physician and homeopath" who suggested drinking nothing but raw goats milk for eight days as a way to get rid of parasites. Experts say there is no evidence the drink has health benefits.

But The New York Times interview shows how aware she is of how she can benefit from these kinds of controversies. Its profile recounted a talk she gave to students at Harvard where she celebrated the "cultural firestorms" caused by Goop's bad advice.

Per the NYT:

At Harvard, G.P. called these moments “cultural firestorms.” “I can monetize those eyeballs,” she told the students.

Goop had learned to do a special kind of dark art: to corral the vitriol of the internet and the ever-present shall we call it cultural ambivalence about G.P. herself and turn them into cash.

It’s never clickbait, she told the class. “It’s a cultural firestorm when it’s about a woman’s vagina.” The room was silent. She then cupped her hands around her mouth and yelled, “VAGINA! VAGINA! VAGINA!” as if she were yodeling.

Criticism of Paltrow's website have been constant. A non-profit group called Truth in Advertising has claimed that the website made more than 50 illegal health claims before August 2017, describing some as "deceptive" and "illegal."

Goop Gwyneth Paltrow

Dr Jen Gunter, an obstetrician and gynecologist posts almost monthly critiques of the website's claims on her personal blog.

But numbers Paltrow provided to The New York Times show that, as of June, there were 2.4 million unique visitors to Goop's website.

Paltrow described criticism of Goop as "deeply unfair" in a podcast in August 2017. She claimed that the website was just giving information, and not advice.

She told The New York Times that the website has now employed an in-house fact checker, which she described as a "necessary growing pain."

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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Bitcoin Stock Exchange Operator Pleads Guilty to Securities Fraud

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The founder and operator of two shuttered online crypto investment platforms, including bitcoin stock exchange BitFunder, has pled guilty to securities fraud and obstruction of justice. The guilty plea was announced by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York this week wherein 37-year-old Texan Jon Montroll aka ‘Ukyo’ admitted to deceiving

The post Bitcoin Stock Exchange Operator Pleads Guilty to Securities Fraud appeared first on CCN

Oil prices climb as Iran-backed Houthi rebels attack Saudi Arabian tankers

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

kurdish crude oil tanker

  • Oil prices climbed on Thursday after Saudi Arabia closed a strategic shipping lane.
  • The world’s largest oil producer closed the Bab al-Mandeb Strait after two large oil tankers were attacked by Iranian backed Houthi fighters with one sustaining minimal damage.
  • Brent crude oil futures rose 0.6% to $74.35 per barrel on Thursday at 6 48 GMT and US oil reserves fell to a three and a half year low, Reuters reported.

Oil prices were driven higher for the third consecutive day on Thursday, after Saudi Arabia closed a strategic shipping lane in the Red Sea following an attack on two of its large oil-tankers by Iranian backed Houthi fighters.

Brent crude oil futures rose 0.6% to $74.35 per barrel on Thursday at 6 48 GMT, after a gain of 0.7% on Thursday, and US oil reserves fell to a three and a half year low, Reuters reported.

US West Texas Crude futures were also up 5 cents to $69.35 to the barrel.

"The announcement this morning that the Saudis have closed some shipping lanes in the Gulf because of rebel Houthi attacks also gives the bulls something to launch off," Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader, told Reuters.

On Thursday Saudi Arabia said it was "temporarily halting" all oil shipments through the Bab al-Mandeb shipping lane after the two tankers were attacked, closing off a vital export channel for the world’s largest oil producer.

Khalid al-Falih, the Saudi energy minister said in a statement that the two oil tankers, each carrying two million barrels of oil, had been attacked and one sustained minimal damage.

"Saudi Arabia is temporarily halting all oil shipments through Bab al-Mandeb Strait immediately until the situation becomes clearer and the maritime transit through Bab al-Mandeb is safe," said the minister.

Much of the Crude oil that leaves Saudi Arabia to the North West via the Suez Canal and the SUMED pipeline is first shipped through the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, which passes close to Yemen.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, around 4.6 million barrels of crude and refined petroleum exports per day flowed through the Strait in 2016, headed towards Europe, Asia and the United States.

The Bab al-Mandeb Strait between Yemen and Djibouti is just 20km wide, making shipping vulnerable to attack from the Houthi's in war-torn Yemen. The Iranian backed Houthi's have been fighting a Saudi-Arabian led coalition in a bloody civil war in Yemen for around three years, with the Saudi’s exports presenting a strategic target.

The latest disruption is another impact of a conflict which has cost around 50,000 lives through famine and war, which the US and UK have fueled through arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition.

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Reflections on a Swatting: Inside One Bitcoin Engineer's Security Battle

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitcoin developer and Casa wallet engineer Jameson Lopp recounts his 2017 swatting, and his fight to find his harasser.

Air India grounded 2 of its planes after passengers complained of being covered in gruesome bedbug bites after flights

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Air India

  • Air India grounded two aircraft operating between Mumbai and Newark after passengers complained of being bitten by bedbugs on two flights last week.
  • Passengers posted pictures and vented their frustrations on Twitter.
  • The airline said that affected aircraft have been fumigated and its upholstery overhauled.

Air India temporarily grounded two aircraft operating between Mumbai and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey after passengers complained of being bitten by bedbugs last week.

Business class passengers on board Flight 144 reported bedbug bites on two separate segments last week.

Air India was not immediately available for comment on the matter. However, in a statement to NBC News, the airline said that it is "deeply concerned with a few reports of 'bugs' causing inconvenience to its esteemed passengers."

"The issue has been viewed seriously and every possible step is being taken to closely inspect and further strengthen our system at every level to ensure that such isolated incidents of passenger discomfiture do not affect our consistent performance," the airline added.

While the origin of the insects on the plane is not yet known, Air India has worked to them exterminate them from its aircraft.

"Experienced experts have carried out extensive service on the aircraft from fumigation to overhaul of the upholstery, seat covers, carpets etc to ensure that passengers keep enjoying their in-flight experience with us as always without any complaint of inconvenience," the airline said in a statement.

Two aircraft used to operate the flight the Mumbai-Newark route were grounded one day each, an airline official told the Hindustan Times.

Multiple passengers of Air India Flight took to Twitter to express both their frustration and disgust of being bitten by the insects while flying.

"Just arrived in New York on Air India 144 business class with family. All our seats infested with bed bugs," one passenger complained.

Another passenger wrote that his wife and three children were on Air India 144 from Newark to Mumbai and "have bedbug bites all of their body."

"Is this what we paid $10,000 for?" the passenger complained.

Air India, which is India's national airline, has been looking for a buyer since being put up for sale by the Indian government in March.

The airline hasn't turned a profit since 2007 and has 27,000 employees along with $5 billion in debt. While a deadline has been extended to facilitate a purchase, a buyer has yet to emerge.

SEE ALSO: Another airline has caved to the China's demands and wiped all mention of Taiwan from its website

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Japan’s pinball gambling industry rakes in 30 times more cash than Las Vegas casinos

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Pachinko

  • Japan spends $200 billion on pachinko, a vertical pinball game, every year.
  • Despite a ban on most gambling, the industry employs more people than the top 10 car manufacturers and accounts for nearly half of the country's leisure activities.
  • The industry has long been run by Korean Japanese who have faced decades of discrimination and were unable to enter the traditional workforce after World War II.
  • Some parlour owners support North Korea and reportedly sent hundreds of millions of dollars to the regime.
  • Casinos have recently been legalized, but revenue estimates don't come close to pachinko.


Each year, Japanese gamblers spend $200 billion on vertical pinball-like slot machines called pachinko.

That's 30 times the annual gambling revenue of Las Vegas, double Japan's export car industry, and more than New Zealand's entire GDP.

Around the country 10,600 pachinko parlours entice players with rows upon rows of colorful and flashing machines. The aim is to drop as many silver ball bearings as possible into a middle scoring hole by turning a single wheel that controls how the balls shoot into the machine, before bouncing down pins that the house regularly reconfigures to ensure it always comes out on top.

But despite its popularity, pachinko parlours operate in a legal grey space. Gambling has generally been banned in Japan with only exceptions for betting on horse racing and some auto races. 

Pachinko

Min Jin Lee, the author of a historical fiction book set in Japan called "Pachinko," told Business Insider that pachinko parlours use a loophole by having an intermediary between the winning of the balls and then the conversion into cash.

"Every single ball is equal to a certain amount of points and those points get redeemed at the prizes counter. Let's say you'll get a bar of soap, or lets you get an Hermes bag, depending on how much you win. But then maybe you don't want to have 10 Hermes bags, or 100 bars of soap. So you take your winnings and you convert it far away in an alley for cash," Lee said.

This cash exchange used to be controlled by Japan's yakuza mafia, but that has largely changed with Lee saying many places now just erect a glass wall between the prize counter and the cashier. 

"You take your winnings which gets converted into, let's say, a plastic disc and inside there will be an actual amount of gold, or silver. So the thing itself has market value but then that thing, the little chip or the disc, gets converted at the cashier into cash," Lee explained.

Korean Japanese dominate the pachinko industry

Nearly half of all leisure time in Japan is spent in pachinko parlours, and the industry hires more people than the country's top 10 car manufacturers.

One of the biggest corporate operators is Dynam, which runs 400 halls around the country that are promoted as being cleaner and quieter than traditional parlours.

But parlours are largely run by Korean Japanese people, who pioneered the industry after the end of World War II. During colonial rule, many Koreans had sought employment or were forced laborers in Japan, and hundreds of thousands faced isolating discrimination when the war ended.

"The reason that the Koreans ended up in Pachinko parlours is because they weren't able to get jobs anywhere else, so it became a place of employment, a safe haven for people who could not achieve regular goals like being a postal worker, or being a truck driver, or being a teacher," said Lee, adding that many Korean women ended up working in Korean barbeque restaurants. "Women go into food services, men go into gambling. And then, generationally, they become very important in this world."

Lee spent five years in Japan while writing her latest book about a fictional multigenerational Korean family, but interviewed countless Korean Japanese people, sometimes referred to as Zainichi, about their experiences.

Korean Japanese student

"I did not know until I lived in Japan that it was a business dominated by the Korean Japanese. It's also seen as very second class and kind of vulgar and dirty and dangerous business," said Lee, adding that these sorts of words and attitudes are still commonly associated with Korean Japanese, even those who have lived in Japan for decades.

While many Koreans who originally arrived in Japan in the mid-twentieth century came from a united country, some do now support the North Korean regime.

Sung-Yoon Lee, a professor of Korean studies at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, estimated for PRI that pachinko parlour owners sent hundreds of millions of dollars to North Korea at the industry's height in the 1990s.

Casinos are coming for pachinko

Much like Japan's population, the number of pachinko parlours have been shrinking. There are nearly one-third less than there were in 2005, and parlours are increasingly trying to attract younger players as their market rapidly ages.

But new laws have been introduced to try and limit players' addictions by cutting the maximum payout each machine can give by one-third, which means a player should never be able to win more than $450 in a four hour session.

At the same time, lawmakers have lifted Japan's ban on casinos. In a bid to tackle addition, local residents will be limited to three visits a week and will have to pay fees to enter, but it's still expected that casinos will rake in billions in profit and taxes.

Each year, 1.5 million new pachinko machines are still sold to parlours, according to the Financial Times.

And habits, even if they aren't addictions, are hard to break.

"One out of 11 Japanese people play it once a week. Once a week," Lee said. "So it isn't like if you and I went to some silly place — it's not like Vegas where you go once a year or once every 10 years and say, 'Oh, I'm going to be a bride so let's go crazy.' It isn't like that at all."

SEE ALSO: No entry: How Japan's shockingly low refugee intake is shaped by the paradox of isolation, a demographic time bomb, and the fear of North Korea

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