My friend emailed billionaire Howard Marks about Bitcoin. Here’s his response–

Today is one of those days when I feel blessed to have such wonderful and interesting people in my life. 

A few months ago I introduced you to Ben Yu, a Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur who’s easily one of the most unique people I know. 

I first met Ben when he came to our summer entrepreneurship camp a few years ago. 

I knew instantly that he was bright… and different. 

He had already won the prestigious Peter Thiel fellowship, dropped out of Harvard, and started a successful company (in which I invested, alongside many of our Total Access members). 

Among his many talents and interests, Ben is heavy into cryptocurrency. 

And a few days ago as he was reading the latest Howard Marks investment memo, something caught his eye. 

Howard Marks, of course, is the billionaire founder of Oaktree Capital. 

His regular investment memos are highly insightful, and on Monday we told you about the latest commentary in which Marks cast a stark warning to investors. 

Marks plainly states in his latest commentary that market valuations are at their highest levels in history… 

… that complacency is at record levels, i.e. investors seem to think that the good times will last forever… 

… that risk levels are quite high, while returns are incredibly low… 

… and that investors are engaging in some damn foolish behavior. 

Among them, Mark cites multiple examples of how investors are lining up to buy  bonds issued by bankrupt governments. 

In June, for instance, Argentina issued billions of dollars worth of bonds with a 100-year maturity. 

Bear in mind that Argentina defaulted at least five times on its debt in the previous 100 years. 

So it seems likely that the miniscule return investors will receive completely fails to compensate them for the risks they are taking. 

Marks also wrote about cryptocurrency as an example of foolish behavior. 

On the topic of Bitcoin, ether, etc., Marks states simply, “They’re not real!” and “nothing but an unfounded fad.” 

And so… my friend Ben Yu took the liberty of emailing Howard Marks to engage him on the topic of cryptocurrency. 

Ben was polite, but incisive as always, saying that Bitcoin is “no more or less real than any shared concept of money. . .” 

His point is that the dollar isn’t “real” either. It’s merely a concept that people believe in. 

Plus, over 90% of all US dollars in circulation, in fact, are already in digital form.

When you log in to your bank account and see a number printed on a screen, that account balance exists almost exclusively in bank databases.  There’s very little “real” paper currency that exists. 

So in this respect the dollar is also predominantly a digital currency. 

The primary structural difference between the dollar and Bitcoin is that the dollar is completely centralized. 

It’s controlled by an unelected committee of central bankers who wield dictatorial authority over its quality and supply. 

Bitcoin, on the other hand, is DECENTRALIZED, i.e. controlled by its community of users. 

Currencies have existed in various forms since nearly the dawn of civilization, and our ancestors used everything imaginable as a medium of exchange. 

Salt. Rice. Giant, immovable stones. Gold. 

In the early days of the United States back in the late 1700s, people even commonly used whiskey as a medium of exchange. Worst case you could always drink it. 

Each of those currencies worked because people had confidence in them. 

In Medieval Japan people knew that if they received rice as a payment, that same rice would be accepted as payment for goods or services somewhere else. 

For people who truly understand cryptocurrency, Bitcoin has inspired similar confidence for its users. 

And with good reason. The technical design of Bitcoin solves a number of major problems that plague conventional banking and monetary systems. 

But if you don’t understand something, it’s hard to trust it. It’s hard to have confidence in it. 

Howard Marks admits he is in that camp. And he actually responded to Ben. Personally. 

I thought that was pretty cool. And he was quite gracious. 

In his reply, he agreed with the value premise of cryptocurrency, saying “The dollar has value because people accord value to it. Bitcoin may be no different.” 

But he went on to conclude that: 

“My issue is that (as I understand it), people can create their own bitcoin, whereas they can’t create their own dollars. . . To me, the idea that people can create currency and have it accepted as legal tender makes no sense. But maybe I just don’t understand.” 

It was an honest, thoughtful response. And one that Ben has probably heard a number of times before. I certainly have. 

Marks is a highly accomplished, sophisticated investor. And he admits he doesn’t understand Bitcoin. 

I know a number of other accomplished, sophisticated investors, many of whom are household names. They don’t understand it either. 

It’s common in human nature to fear, or at least be suspicious, of what we don’t understand. 

And that’s the typical refrain I hear from very sharp financial minds, “I don’t understand Bitcoin, I think it’s a scam.” 

Ignorance doesn’t make something a scam. 

And given how big the cryptocurrency opportunity is, it’s certainly worth learning about before passing judgment. 

Cryptocurrency is the future. Governments, major banks, tax authorities, stock exchanges, and even central banks are moving towards crypto. 

It’s worth understanding. 

But frankly it works both ways: while it’s foolish to disregard something out of ignorance, it may be even more foolish to buy something that you don’t understand. 

Countless people are buying Bitcoin right now with zero understanding of its structure, challenges, or opportunities. 

They’ve never heard of hash functions or SegWit. They’re just gambling that the price is going higher. 

This is crazy. 

There is absolutely no substitute for learning. 

And if you’re looking for an easy place to get started, Ben also took the liberty of writing an easy-to-understand article: Cryptocurrency 101. 

You can read it here.

Until tomorrow, 

Simon Black

Founder, SovereignMan.com

Hacker News: WannaCry Inspires Banking Trojan to Add Self-Spreading Ability

trickbot-banking-trojan-wannacry

Although the wave of WannaCry and Petya ransomware has now been slowed down, money-motivated hackers and cyber criminals have taken lessons from the global outbreaks to make their malware more powerful.

Security researchers have now discovered at least one group of cyber criminals that are attempting to give its banking Trojan the self-spreading worm-like capabilities that made recent ransomware attacks go worldwide.

The new version of credential stealing TrickBot banking Trojan, known as “1000029” (v24), has been found using the Windows Server Message Block (SMB)—that allowed WannaCry and Petya to spread across the world quickly.

TrickBot is a banking Trojan malware that has been targeting financial institutions across the world since last year.

The Trojan generally spreads via email attachments impersonating invoices from a large unnamed “international financial institution,” but actually leads victims to a fake login page used to steal credentials.

Last week, researchers at Flashpoint, who’ve been continually tracking TrickBot activities and its targets, have discovered that the TrickBot Trojan has just been evolved to spread locally across networks via Server Message Block (SMB).

Since the new version of TrickBot is still being tested, the new features are not fully implemented by the hacking gang behind the Trojan. It also doesn’t have the ability to randomly scan external IPs for SMB connections, unlike WannaCry which exploited a vulnerability dubbed EternalBlue.

Flashpoint researchers said the trojan is modified to scan domains for lists of vulnerable servers via the NetServerEnum Windows API and enumerate other computers on the network via Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP).

The new TrickBot variant can also be disguised as ‘setup.exe’ and delivered through a PowerShell script to spread through interprocess communication and download additional version of TrickBot onto shared drives.

According to the researchers, the latest discovery of new TrickBot variant provides an insight into what the operators behind the malware might be using in the near-future.

“Flashpoint assesses with moderate confidence that the Trickbot gang will likely continue to be a formidable force in the near term,” said Vitali Kremez, director of Research at Flashpoint.

“Even though the worm module appears to be rather crude in its present state, it’s evident that the Trickbot gang learned from the global ransomware worm-like outbreaks of WannaCry and ‘NotPetya’ and is attempting to replicate their methodology.”

In order to safeguard against such malware infection, you should always be suspicious of unwanted files and documents sent over an email and should never click on links inside them unless verifying the source.

To always have a tight grip on your valuable data, keep a good backup routine in place that makes their copies to an external storage device that is not always connected to your PC.

Moreover, make sure that you run an effective anti-virus security suite on your system, and keep it up-to-date.

Swati - Hacking News
Technical Writer, Security Blogger and IT Analyst. She is a Technology Enthusiast with a keen eye on the Cyberspace and other tech related developments.

Fake News? We’ll see.. DOJ to investigate illegal DEMOCRAT collusion

by Walter W. Murray, reporter

President Donald Trump said earlier this month that ANY major political operative would attend a meeting like the one his son took part in, where he was promised dirt on presidential rival Hillary Clinton.

The left mocked him for it, claiming no one on “their” side would ever dream of doing such a thing.

But once again, Trump was right!

The Senate Judiciary Committee is looking into an attempt at so-called collusion that involved Democrat operatives working on the doomed Clinton campaign who allegedly had help from foreign agents, in this case from Ukraine.

This may have been a violation U.S. law… yet the mainstream media has been so silent that legal experts are stunned by the hypocrisy.

“If everyone is running around with the assumption that it’s illegitimate to work with a foreign government in a campaign, then it’s perfectly fair to ask what was the relationship between the Clinton campaign and the Ukrainians,” Benjamin Wittes, editor of the LawFare blog and no friend of the Trump administration, told PolitiFact.

Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democratic congressman from California who has made a name for himself on the left for his attacks on Trump, tried to downplay it earlier this month… but when pressed, even he was forced to admit that the incident was “problematic.”

Here’s what happened: According to Politico, Ukrainian officials may have been trying to help Clinton’s desperately foundering campaign last year by assisting in efforts to dig up dirt on Trump and the key figures around him.

The website said officials there were “helpful” to Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian-American activist who was a paid consultant by the Democrats at the time.

“Chalupa’s actions appear to show that she was simultaneously working on behalf of a foreign government, Ukraine, and on behalf of the DNC and Clinton campaign, in an effort to influence not only the U.S. voting population but U.S. government officials,” Sen. Chuck Grassely (R-Iowa) wrote Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, according to Fox News.

He’s calling on Rosenstein to investigate to see if this went beyond ugly and unethical and crossed over into a violation of law, specifically the Foreign Agents Registration Act, The Daily Caller reported.

Of course, everyone involved is denying that anything untoward took place. And Democrats claim this is far different from the alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

And they’re right, it’s very different…. because it’s far worse.

This ugly collusion may have had far more influence on last year’s campaign that anything alleged to have come from Russia.

“Let’s compare (the Trump meeting) to the DNC sending its people to the Ukrainian embassy to coordinate [opposition] attacks against our candidate,” Sebastian Gorka, a White House deputy assistant, told CNN. “If you want to see collusion, it’s in the DNC. I mean, it is up to their necks.”

Indeed, everyone at the meeting that Donald Trump Jr. fully and voluntarily disclosed has admitted that nothing came of it.

Yet the Ukraine incident may have helped lead to the dirt on Paul Manafort, then Trump’s campaign manager, hitting the U.S. media, including alleged payments by Ukraine’s deposed president Viktor Yanukovych.

And that, in turn, helped force Manafort’s resignation from the Trump campaign last summer.

At the time, Team Hillary celebrated it as another supposed nail in Trump’s coffin, and her cheerleaders in the media joyfully used the resignation to feed a narrative about so-called “chaos” in the Trump campaign.

Of course, it all blew up in their faces. This may have been what ultimately helped Trump to his shocking come-from-behind Election Day victory.

Manafort’s resignation led to the shakeup that brought in both Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, two seasoned political minds who helped the campaign get back to basics.

That renewed focus on the candidate and his core message, more than anything else, may have fueled Trump’s stunning come-from-behind victory in November.

— Walter W. Murray is a reporter for The Horn News. He is a survival expert with decades of experience in prepping and the author of “America’s Final Warning.”

What does Russian Passport Look Like? (And Our Updates)

Hi Lada, luv the interview you had with Denny, such great repoire and humour!
I think I have 1/16 Russian blood on my father’s side, do I qualify for full Russian citizenship? Well that and a nice contribution/ investment to the Russian Finance Ministry of Economic Enrichment. 😉

Futurist Trendcast

Dear readers, my new BIG article Russia-US 4D Wars: Putin expels 755 US Diplomats; New Sanctions and Nord Stream 2 War is making a splash! Please don’t be shy to read it and tell me what you think in comments! AND REMEMBER TO CLICK ON THAT LIKE underneath the post, which will tell me that my hard work is appreciated!

INTERVIEW UPDATE

A’ve just had a very nice interview with the host of WhyIsThisTrue, Denny Hunt. I’ve already announced the interview on Twitter and Facebook, and will post links on FT later today. In the interview we discussed, what else… Russia, and her mysteries. I think Denny has done a great job with some extra loving touches – you’ll see what I mean!

We even went into Denny’s past lives, when he in fact was Russian (which explains his mystical attraction to Russia).

Don’t miss this very special event! Stay…

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Should You Vaccinate? The Top 10 Reasons to Never Take a Vaccine

Tales from the Conspiratum

Source: Should You Vaccinate? The Top 10 Reasons to Never Take a Vaccine | The Freedom Articles

freedom-articles.toolsforfreedom.com

Makia Freeman

Aug 1, 2017 

never-take-a-vaccine-1

Learn the top 10 reasons to never take a vaccine. Say no to vaccines, and protect yourself against carcinogenic ingredients & adjuvants, immune system damage and other horrible side effects.

There are many, many good reasons to never take a vaccine.

Whether you want to protect yourself against carcinogenic hidden ingredients, disallow toxic adjuvants into your body, defend your immune system against a chemical onslaught or refuse to be part of any sinister schemes of sterilization-depopulation agenda, this information is vitally important. More and more, we are learning the truth about vaccines, what they are really composed of and what they really do to the human body – and the more we learn about them, the more we see just how dangerous and harmful they are. Whatever they may have been…

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