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Egypt calls on Algeria to support its UNESCO presidency candidate

September 13, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Algeria’s Prime Minister, Ahmed Ouyahia, received yesterday the former Egyptian foreign minister, Mohamed El-Orabi, in Algeria where they discussed mutual cooperation on different levels, Asharq Al-Awsat reported. During the meeting, Orabi conveyed a message from the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, to his Algerian counterpart, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, according to Ouyahia. He did not provide details about the message’s content or the reason behind it. On his part, the Egyptian ambassador to Algeria, Omar Abu Aish, told Asharq Al-Awsat that Ouyahia offered during the meeting his condolences for the Egyptian police forces’ martyrs who were targeted yesterday in a terrorist attack which took place in the north of Sinai Peninsula. Abu Oish added that Orabi’s visit to Algeria comes within the […]

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Ripple Price Technical Analysis – XRP/USD To Retest $0.2000?

September 13, 2017 BitNewz.net 0

Key Highlights Ripple price failed to remain above the $0.2200 level and moved down against the US Dollar. This week’s highlighted descending channel with current resistance at $0.2200 on the hourly chart of XRP/USD (data source from Kraken) is still in place. The price is currently trading near an important support level at $0.2060. Ripple … Continue reading Ripple Price Technical Analysis – XRP/USD To Retest $0.2000?

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Ripple Price Technical Analysis – XRP/USD To Retest $0.2000?

September 13, 2017 Aayush Jindal 0

Key Highlights Ripple price failed to remain above the $0.2200 level and moved down against the US Dollar. This week’s highlighted descending channel with current resistance at $0.2200 on the hourly chart of XRP/USD (data source from Kraken) is still in place. The price is currently trading near an important support level at $0.2060. Ripple … Continue reading Ripple Price Technical Analysis – XRP/USD To Retest $0.2000?

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Bitcoin Tumbles Below $4000 – Down 21% From Record High

September 13, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

For the first time since August 22nd, the USD price of Bitcoin has dropped below $4000 – down over 20% from its record highs on September 1st.

 

Crackdowns by China (on ICOs and more recently confusion over Bitcoin exchanges) combined with JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon’s comments today saw selling pressure extend as China opened…

All but one of the top 15 cryptocurrencies are under pressure…

 

As we noted earlier, what is ironic is that this is not the first time Jamie Dimon has lashed out at bitcoin: the last time Dimon slammed bitcoin was November 2015, at the Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco. Here’s what he had to say when asked directly about it by an audience member:

“You’re wasting your time with Bitcoin! Virtual currency, where it’s called a bitcoin vs. a U.S. dollar, that’s going to be stopped,” said Dimon. “No government will ever support a virtual currency that goes around borders and doesn’t have the same controls. It’s not going to happen.”

 

“Blockchain is like any other technology. If it is cheaper, effective, works, and secure, then we are going to use it. The technology will be used, and it could be used to transport currency, but it will be dollars, not bitcoins.”

Speaking to CNBC later in the day, Dimon said he’s skeptical governments will allow a currency to exist without state oversight: “Someone’s going to get killed and then the government’s going to come down,” he said. “You just saw in China, governments like to control their money supply.” And yet, despite said “killing” Bitcoin remained well above $4,000.

That said, Dimon conceded that he wouldn’t short bitcoin because there’s no telling how high it will go before it collapses, saying that it “could hit $100,000 before it drops.” The best argument Dimon has heard about owning bitcoin, is that it can be useful to people in places with no other options: “If you were in Venezuela or Ecuador or North Korea or a bunch of parts like that, or if you were a drug dealer, a murderer, stuff like that, you are better off doing it in bitcoin than U.S. dollars,” he said. “So there may be a market for that, but it’d be a limited market.”

What is also ironic is Dimon’s admission that his daughter purchased some bitcoin, saying “it went up and she thinks she is a genius.”

And to think the Fed didn’t even have to inject $4 trillion in liquidity to make her feel that way, unlike so many stock “investors.”

Shortly after Dimon’s comment, the chairman and CEO of the CBOE, Ed Tilly – which plans to offer bitcoin futures soon – defended the cryptocurrency after Dimon’s remarks.

“Like it or not, people want exposure to bitcoin,” Tilly said. Believers can bet on its rise, and Dimon is welcome to take the other side, he said. “We’re happy to be the ones in the middle.”

* * *

Incidentally, for those who “wasted their time” since Dimon’s 2015 threat, Bitcoin is up 1,018%.

*  *  *

Perhaps most ironically, while US elites are talking their book in desparation at this ‘new-fangled’ virtual currency, Russia is working on legitimizing cryptocurrencies and is developing a legal framework that will govern transactions using digital currencies like Bitcoin.

Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov previously said that the regulation would be delayed that was originally set for October.

“In April, we announced that the draft law would be ready in October. However, the situation on the market made us, in addition to the main bill, consider several more options. And now all these projects are postponed, we are watching the situation to understand,” Sidorenko said.

Speaking at the II Moscow Financial Forum, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov reassured Russian users of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that the government has no intention of outlawing or penalizing cryptocurrencies and is working on regulation.

“The state understands indeed that crypto-currencies are real. There is no sense in banning them, there is a need to regulate them,” Siluanov said.

Putin himself has embraced cryptocurrency and met with Ethereum Founder Vitalik Buterin, who instilled the advantages of Russia’s usage of the Blockchain Technology under Bitcoin.

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Is North Korea Using Bitcoin To Get Around UN Sanctions?

September 13, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

The latest round of United Nations sanctions against North Korea are designed specifically to prevent Kim Jong Un from obtaining hard currency. Luckily for the Kim regime, there’s always bitcoin.

According to Bloomberg, the isolated country, facing further restrictions on exports that would bring in desperately needed Chinese yuan, has increasingly been turning to bitcoin to circumvent the sanctions.

And to try and keep the illicit digital money flowing, the country has reportedly stepped up attacks against South Korean digital currency exchanges, causing disruptions in one of the largest markets for digital currencies like Ethereum and bitcoin, according to a new report from security researcher FireEye. In addition, the North has managed to breach an English-language bitcoin news website and collect bitcoin ransom payments from global victims of the malware WannaCry attack (although we thought that one had been linked to China?).

“So far this year, FireEye has confirmed attacks on at least three South Korean exchanges, including one in May that was successful. Around the same time, local media reported that Seoul-based exchange Yapizon lost more than 3,800 bitcoins (worth about $15 million at current rates) due to theft, although FireEye said there are not clear indications of North Korean involvement.”

According to Naeem Aslam, a contributor at Forbes, the North cultivated an “army of hackers” to go after digital-currency exchanges after the digital currency’s world-beating gains piqued Kim Jong Un’s interest.

“North Korea has an army of hackers who are constantly targeting South Korea, the hectic trading hub for cryptocurrency. The strategy would aid the country in bypassing many trade restrictions which also include the new sanctions. Moreover, the massive popularity of the cryptocurrency gained Kim’s attention and for crypto traders, this represents an opportunity. A higher demand for cryptocurrency would only boost its price,” said Forbes contributor Naeem Aslam.”

North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau, which directly reports to Kim Jong Un, handles peacetime cyber operations from espionage to network disruptions and employs an estimated 6,000 officers, according to a 2016 report from the International Cyber Policy Centre at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

A group within the RGB known as TEMP.Hermit is believed to be responsible for the attacks on the South Korean bitcoin exchanges. FireEye said it has been linked to a 2015 attack on South Korea’s nuclear industry. The hackers have also been tied by other security firms to last year’s attack on Samsung Electronics Co.’s corporate messenger app and the breach of Sony Corp.’s film studio, which the FBI blamed on North Korea.

“They’re pretty capable actors in comparison to other North Korean activity we see,” said Luke McNamara, a researcher at FireEye and author of the new report. “They’ve been creative in how they use their cyber-espionage capability.”

And with the US likely to continue to push for still tighter sanctions as the North continues its provocative missile and nuclear tests – that is, until Russia and China finally say “enough” – the isolated country will likely deepen its reliance on the digital currency.

“We definitely see sanctions being a big lever driving this sort of activity,” McNamara said. “They probably see it as a very low-cost solution to bring in hard cash.”

 

“As more money goes into cryptocurrency exchanges and more people buy bitcoin and ethereum, exchanges become larger targets for this group,” said McNamara. He said so far he did not have evidence that Kim Jong Un’s regime has targeted cryptocurrency exchanges outside of South Korea, but did not rule out the possibility in the future.”

And with so many shadowy digital currency exchanges operating throughout Asia, cashing out the country’s digital currency positions would be easy.

“They could compromise an exchange and transfer those bitcoins to other exchanges elsewhere in Asia or exchange them for a more anonymous cryptocurrency,” said McNamara. “There are variety of things they could do to cash out.”

As Aslam points out, increasing demand for digital currencies from North Korea could ultimately lift prices on a global scale as the country is increasingly forced to transact at in bitcoin, Ethereum and their peers. North Korea isn’t the only country that’s turning to bitcoin out of a sense of desperation. As the Atlantic pointed out earlier this month, thousands of Venezuelans have taken to minería bitcoin – or mining bitcoin – to try and get their hands on precious US dollars.

Because, in some cases, it’s either that, or starvation.
 

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Qatar NGO urges Riyadh to free Muslim scholars

September 13, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

The International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) on Tuesday criticized the reported arrest of Muslim preachers and scholars in Saudi Arabia. Those said to have been detained included Salman al-Auda, a prominent Muslim preacher and member of the IUMS’s board of trustees. On Monday, activists reported on social media that the Saudi authorities had detained more than 20 Muslim preachers and scholars for unspecified reasons. Alongside Auda, those reportedly detained include prominent Saudi preachers Aaidh al-Qarni and Ali al-Omari. On Sunday, Khalid bin Fahd al-Auda said on Twitter that the Saudi authorities had arrested his brother Salman. He did not say when the arrest took place or speculate about the reasons for the move. Saudi Arabia is yet to issue […]

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This Fascinating City Within Hong Kong Was Lawless For Decades

September 13, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

There are very few places on Earth that remain ungoverned, and even the tiniest islands and city-states tend to have rules in place for things like taxation and citizenship.

Government control is an established reality for most of the world, but what would happen if a neighborhood in your city suddenly became a lawless free-for-all? What type of industries would emerge, and how would people cooperate within that environment to ensure basic services continued to operate?

As Visual Capitalist’s Nick Routley details below, one example from recent history sheds light on just how such a situation could work: Kowloon Walled City.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

 

Kowloon Walled City

Today’s infographic is a fantastic editorial illustration from South China Morning Post from 2013 that takes a detailed look at the inner workings of Kowloon Walled City (KWC).

Often described as one of the most remarkable social anomalies in recent history, this bizarre enclave was more dense than any other urban area on the face of the planet.

Kowloon Walled City Timeline

The story of the KWC site begins in the Song Dynasty (960-1297) when a small fort was constructed to house soldiers who helped safeguard the salt trade. In the latter half of the 19th century, the small fort was expanded into a full garrison town as the threat of a British invasion hung over China.

In 1898, the 99-year lease of Kowloon and the New Territories was established with one exception: the 2.7 hectare walled fortress. Because China never dropped its claim on the site and the British took a hands-off approach, the site became a sort of lawless enclave.

After WWII, squatters began to fill the site and more permanent structures followed. By 1950, the population had grown to 17,000, and by 1990 over 50,000 people lived within a property the size of two rugby fields.

kowloon walled city density people

From Squatter Camps to Functioning Neighborhood

There was a tendency to view KWC is an isolated bubble of vice within the city, but the sheer volume of business activity within the informal settlement shows that outside customers were more than happy to benefit from lower priced goods and services. This symbiosis has few parallels in modern history, and it makes KWC a fascinating situation to look back on.

KWC is best known as an enclave of criminal activity and illicit businesses such as brothels and gambling dens, but that only tells one side of the story. Despite the lack of space and formal links to utilities, the neighborhood was remarkably productive. In fact, KWC was often been described as Hong Kong’s shadow economy because the hundreds of tiny workshops and factories scattered throughout the site provided products for businesses across Hong Kong.

Kowloon Walled City Businesses

People moved to KWC for many reasons, including bankruptcy, poverty, or to avoid deportation. Others went there to take advantage of the lack of law enforcement and regulations.

One prominent example of skirting regulation was the high concentration of dental and medical practitioners operating within KWC. In addition to lower rents, doctors who immigrated to Hong Kong from China could avoid expensive licensing and retraining required by the colonial government. Industrial businesses were free to ignore fire, labor, and safety codes to produce goods at a lower cost, or to sell items that were considered taboo in the formal economy (e.g. restaurants serving dog meat).

Law and Order

Triads acted as a de facto city council by resolving civil conflicts, creating a volunteer fire brigade, and organizing garbage disposal. The tight-knit community within the settlement would also coordinate among themselves to conserve electricity and make repairs to shared infrastructure.

Despite the lack of formally recognized land ownership, people still bought and sold property within KWC. In one example, a construction company struck an exchange deal with the owner of a four-story building. The owner would retain a ground floor flat in a newly constructed thirteen-story building on the site.

The Bitter End

In 1993, after intense rounds of buy-out offers and forced relocations, Kowloon Walled City was demolished and converted into a park. Many of the businesses were forced to close forever as rents in the rest of Hong Kong were not affordable for most of the owners.

All this intensity of random human effort and activity, vice and sloth and industry, exempted from all the controls we take for granted, resulted in an environment as richly varied and as sensual as anything in the heart of the tropical rainforest. The only drawback is that it was obviously toxic.

– Greg Girard, author of City of Darknes

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