Month: September 2017

  • Altcoin Analysis for 30-09-2017: NEO, DASH, IOTA, XMR and NEM – newsBTC

    newsBTCAltcoin Analysis for 30-09-2017: NEO, DASH, IOTA, XMR and NEMnewsBTCNEWS · ANALYSIS · CHARTS; EDUCATION. What is Bitcoin? Accepting Bitcoin · Using Bitcoin · Mining Bitcoin · Trading Bitcoi...

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  • Morgan Stanley CEO, James Gorman, Offers More Rational Words on Bitcoin

    It might seem that lately, the world of high-finance want nothing more than to drop a proverbial load all over Bitcoin but CEO of leading global financial services firm Morgan Stanley, James Gorman, offered words to support the contrary on Wednesday. Speaking at a conference hosted by The Wall Street Journal, he said he considered Bitcoin... View Article

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  • A Market In Which “Shocks No Longer Shock”: Deutsche’s Kocic Explains How To Trade It

    Back in June, one of Wall Street's more philosophical derivatives strategists, DB's Aleksandar Kocic looked at the state of the market and postulated that far from "stable" the existing risk  "equilibrium" is one which can be described as "metastable", the result of widespread complacency, and which he compared to an avalanche where "a totally innocuous event can trigger a cataclysmic event (e.g. a skier’s scream, or simply continued snowfall until the snow cover is so massive that its own weight triggers an avalanche." Putting it in his usual post-modernist style, Kocic said that "complacency encourages bad behavior and penalizing dissent – there is a negative carry for not joining the crowd, which further reinforces bad behavior."

    This is the source of the positive feedback that triggers occasional anxiety attacks, which, although episodic, have the potential to create liquidity problems. Complacency arises either when everyone agrees with everyone else or when no one agrees with anyone. In these situations, which capture the two modes of recent market trading, current and the QE period, the markets become calm and volatility selling and carry strategies define the trading landscape. But, calm makes us worry, and persistent worrying causes fear, and fear tends to be reinforcing.

    Kocic framed the current state of the market as follows:

     

    Unfortunately, the relentless grind ever lower in volatility, which as reported yesterday has resulted in both the lowest average September VIX on record...

     

    ... as well as the lowest September monthly settlement on record and only the second sub-10 monthly settlement... 

    ... appears to have finally unsettled Kocic' expectations, even if ever so tacitly implied, for a spike higher in suppressed vol, and as he writes in his latest ruminations on volatility, "as volatility continues to be unfazed by what lies ahead in the near term, short of surprises in inflation, we are likely to linger at low levels."

    Following up to his note from last week, which explained how the Fed's fake "transparency" killed long-term investor, Kocic writes that "as transparency became the word of the decade, by its very nature it created the forces that push everything to the surface. Things exist thanks only to the attention they produce. There is no room for ambiguity." 

    Which ties in to the current news cycle, a relentless barrage of flashing red headlines, one scarier than the other, yet which on aggregate have zero adverse impact on volatility, and certainly on risk assets, which on Friday spiked to a new all time high following the latest last-second VIX-smash. Or, as Kocic puts it, "although shocks (political and other) keep arriving in the market, they seem to be appearing at what looks like predictable time intervals (usually, on Fridays). Practically every week, there is a new issue that eclipses the previous one, and we lose interest in past issues, before there is any semblance of resolution."

    And with traders' attention spans already severely lacking, this habituation to hyperbolic, staccato newsflow means that not only is the market not discounting the future as Matt King postulated several months ago, but it is no longer able to even respond to the present, to wit:

    Shocks, if they are predictable, lose their spell and gradually become facts of life. Predictable political shocks feed back into their source. Due to their antagonistic character, they gradually erode the ability to make consensus and reduce the ability to legislate, making further reforms at least questionable, if not highly unlikely. The market “euphoria” (aka the Trump trade) that followed immediately after the elections is being perceived as increasingly remote. Despite all the promises of reflation of the economy, fiscal stimulus, expectation of economic turnaround, no change is on the horizon. We are stuck with the status quo, albeit a noisy one.

    So what does this mean for risk assets, and markets? According to the Deutsche analyst, "despite all the distortions and disruptions introduced by the central banks’, which has created a semi-permanent state of exception, markets have not lost one main characteristic, their adaptability. As the markets are getting inoculated against event risk, volatility continues to be under pressure. While we are distancing ourselves from the idea of political change, the Fed is seen, once again, as the main source of volatility. However, the Fed’s position is an uncomfortable one. The main problem it faces is the balance between preventing inflation from becoming a risk while at the same time not causing a rapid and substantial rise of rates. This requires a high level of fine tuning. It means that the Fed has to continue with rate hikes, but the hikes have to be done carefully without triggering the bond unwind."

    The implication for vol traders is that contrary to warnings of market "metastability" and "suppressed cataclysmic vol events", Kocic - in many ways pulling a Hugh Hendry of his own - comes to the admission that fighting the Fed's control over vol has become a futile pastime, and even though further complacency is in the cards, "continued vol selling" is encouraged.

    ... the market gradually, and reluctantly, trails behind the Fed, one hike at a time, and adjusts expectations on the go, without taking a longterm view on the Fed. It is difficult to see how this can lead to any excitement capable of inspiring higher volatility. As long as things evolve according to this scenario, everything shoiuld remain “predictable” with occasional noise that the market has learned to ignore. This is an environment that is bearish for volatility. It fosters further complacency and encourages continued vol selling.

    Finally, Kocic takes a "Greek" detour and asks whether in this environment, in which every shock is ignored by a market now programmed to sell vol no matter what, "there is hope for Gamma?" Here is his answer:

    In our recent publications, we have extracted one possible measure of liquidity from the volume data of Treasury futures. This measure quantifies sensitivity of the price to changes in trading volume. The liquidity index is expressed as a negative log of this sensitivity, so that large sensitivity corresponds to low liquidity and vice versa. The figure shows the (smoothed) liquidity (on the inverted axis) overlaid with the 3M10Y– low vol goes hand in hand with high liquidity.

     

     

    Liquidity has a logical connection with volatility. This starts at the very short end and propagates across the term structure: By making a price, market makers are implicitly short volatility for which they are required to allocate risk capital and the bid/ask spread (which is an indirect measure of liquidity) is the compensation they receive for this risk exposure. All else equal, the ability to hedge an option is a function of liquidity of the underlying, and the option prices should reflect that. From the figure, we note that post 2004, with the disappearance of mortgage negative convexity hedging and the growth of  volume on the exchanges, liquidity has been providing a lower bound for gamma – whenever gamma reached this lower bound, it has been pushed up. Also, the departures from that lower bound have been increasingly rarer and short lived. This holds not only for rates, but for equities as well.

     

    As volatility continues to be unphased by what lies ahead in the near term, short of surprise in inflation, we are likely to linger at low levels. In that context, liquidity constraints are going to define the lower bound on gamma.

    As a reminder, none of this is new: those who have traded this market (for more than just a few years) instead of merely commenting on it, will recall all those vol traders who lost their jobs in early 2007 when vol crashed so hard, there literally wasn't a swaptions market. If Kocic is right, vol traders in 2017 (and perhaps 2018) will suffer the same fate. Of course, the 2007 episode is best remembered not for the the vol linked pink slips, but the explosion in VIX shortly thereafter and the resultant near collapse of the US financial system. Despite the Fed's relentless pressure, trillions in liquidity injections and vol selling, we see nothing that has changed since then, and no reason why this time will be different.

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  • How to Enter Crypto Market without Expertise? CryptoFund Gives Answer!

    The interest of potential investors to the new market is understandable, as alternative investments compared to traditional ones give the opportunity to profit more than 1,000% per year, and the apparent market bull trend allows expecting even higher levels of profit. The forecasted profitability on cryptocurrency investments may exceed 1,250%. Not Too Late However, cryptocurrency … Continue reading How to Enter Crypto Market without Expertise? CryptoFund Gives Answer!

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  • JSEcoin Self Mining is Now Back Up and Running Again

    It seems that quite a lot of websites have recently got into crypto mining Monero (XMR) using the Javascript miner provided by Coin Hive without warning their users that there will be such a thing when you visit them. That of course cannot remain undiscovered for long time due to the increased CPU load when […]

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  • “The Bombs Are Still Falling” – MSNBC Urges Government Censorship Of Social Media “To Protect Democracy”

    Authored by Chris Reeves via NewsBusters.org,

    On Friday’s Morning Joe, Willie Geist hosted a panel to discuss the latest news on the Russian hacking narrative regarding Facebook ads that were purportedly used by Russian intelligence to stoke "racial tensions" during the 2016 presidential election.

    The panel’s primary reaction, with only one dissenting voice, was to call for increased government "regulation" and financial “penalties in the hundreds of millions” to shut down alleged Russian influencers.

    The segment started off with Geist introducing the latest reporting on the topic:

    GEIST: Twitter says it has shut down more than two-hundred accounts that were tied to the same Russian operatives who bought political ads on Facebook. Of the 450 accounts released by Facebook as part of its investigation, Twitter was able to match 22 of them to its own site. The disclosure by Twitter followed a briefing by company officials to staffers of the Senate and House Intel committees yesterday. Following that meeting, the top Democrat on the Senate committee, Mark Warner, slammed Twitter for its presentation.

     

    SEN. MARK WARNER [D-VA]: [playing clip] The presentation that the Twitter team made to the Senate Intel staff today was deeply disappointing. The notion that their work was basically derivative based upon accounts that Facebook had identified showed enormous lack of understanding from the Twitter team of how serious this issue is, the threat it poses to democratic institutions, and, again, begs many more questions than they offered.

     

    (...)

     

    GEIST: The top Democrat on the House Intel Committee, Adam Schiff, also weighed in on Twitter’s briefing to his committee, releasing a statement that read, in part: "... it is clear that Twitter has significant forensic work to do to understand the depth and breadth of Russian activity during the campaign. This additional analysis will require far more robust investigation into how Russian actors used their platform as a part of their active measures campaign..."

    Without any perceptible degree of skepticism about the Democratic Congressmen's claims, Geist then teed up Nicolle Wallace, host of the MSNBC afternoon show Deadline: White House, to talk about social media and the 2016 election more generally:

    GEIST: You do get the sense, Nicolle, that Facebook, Twitter, social media was totally clueless about what was happening on their sites during the 2016 campaign.

     

    WALLACE: It's worse than that [...]. The social media companies are sort of like the worst stereotype of a Republican political organization. They're reactive, they’re opaque, they're defensive, they are very slow to understand the value of transparency. They're totally lawyered up, lobbied up. And they are as a culture, the hubris of thinking that they're all about the public good, when if you take a low-tech analogy, it’s basically like someone got mugged in your backyard and their position is: well, it's not our problem, I mean, we just bought the lot on which the house was built, not our problem.

    Donny Deutsch chimed in his agreement with Wallace’s analysis, mainly to suggest that perhaps internet news sites and social media sites need government regulation to make sure that what they post or allow up is accurate:

    DEUTSCH: [T]here’s a tremendous irony with these guys, because, the tech guys, these young-, are, are the ones who are revolutionizing the world for betterment, yet the irony is, if I wanna take an ad out on NBC or anyplace else for a laundry detergent, the things I have to go through-

     

    WALLACE: [interrupting] It has to work, it has to be real, you have to be real. Right!

     

    DEUTSCH: [continues talking over Wallace] -[...] to prove that it’s got 5% more blue crystals in it, yet there is no regulati[on]. There is nothing more important for us, for people watching this show over the next ten and twenty years as the regulation of these companies. They control the flow of communication. [...] [W]hat's happening here, as far as our power versus what's happening over here [points to his smart phone], multiply it a thousand-fold and there is no regulation.

    Ah, so here we see one of the real reasons for wanting to regulate internet-based news content: it’s out-competing (supposedly) respectable news outlets like MSNBC!

    After Deutsch floated the idea of government censorship to get the internet under control, Wallace decided to try her hand at stand-up comedy, declaring:

    “One difference though is that we have quality controls, we have standards. [...] [A]nd they [internet/social media] should be held to the same standards.”

    Well, if we all only had to adhere to MSNBC’s standard for truth, that would make our jobs here much easier!

    But on a more serious note, Geist subsequently moved the segment forward to allow New York Times reporter Yamiche Alcindor to summarize her latest findings on “racially divisive Russian ads on Facebook.” Alcindor said:

    Facebook admitted to members of the Congressional Black Caucus as well as the subcommittee on the House Oversight Committee that there were ads that were targeting Black Lives Matter and targeting, specifically, ethnic groups [...] and allowing people to target, not only for Russian influence, but also target housing ads, employment ads.

     

    [...]

     

    [A] lot of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus are fuming because they're saying that Russia actually exploited a lot of the racial divisions that already exist in America and used both Facebook and Twitter [...] in this way to essentially make people hate each other more.

    So, Alcindor and the Congressional Black Caucus think that decades of the Democratic Party and the far left exploiting racial divisions for political gain was totally normal and fine, but now, they demand aggressive government action to stop it when it is being used by the Russians?

    Without addressing this glaringly obvious point, the segment then moved in a much more interesting direction as Geist turned to Noah Rothman, associate editor of Commentary Magazine, for his opinion on the whole Russia matter. Although Rothman acceded to the larger narrative about Russians hacking the DNC and weaponizing social media, he did offer some true background to the current story:

    First, you probably have to know that Russian intelligence is going to exploit anything they possibly can to do precisely what she was talking about. This isn't new, this is the Kremlin playbook. They have been exacerbating racial tensions in the United States since there [has been] a Russian intelligence organization. As recently as 2014, you had RT talking about police tyranny and an Afro-Maidan, referring to the Ukrainian revolution that ousted the former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. This is what Russia does. So if you're a media institution and you know that Moscow is going to target your audience, you have to be proactive and aware of that. And, as you say, you have, you had gatekeepers in most institutions. Institutions that are not, you know, aware that they're going to be targeted are the most irresponsible, I would say. But I'm not sure that regulation is something that you can even entertain. This is about responsibility.

    Rothman’s point about past Soviet infiltration of the United States was correct, if lacking somewhat in details. Rothman would have done well to point out, in contrast to his characterization of Russian government-owned or funded media, that they actually frequently take stances in support of left-wing causes if those causes serve to diminish America’s international moral authority, particularly as regards anti-war narratives or movements like Black Lives Matter.

    It was also refreshing to see someone push back against Wallace and Deutsch’s calls for government censorship and control over the Internet, but that didn’t last. Mark Halperin ultimately decided to make the most straightforward case for the federal government to crack down on "Russian operatives" and fake news with the support of both Wallace and Deutsch:

    HALPERIN: [T]here’s some interesting intellectual debates to be had around all this stuff to be sure. But these companies are American companies making a lot of money, dominating our lives, hiding behind a lot of intellectual arguments. And, as the Congressional members of both parties are saying publicly and privately, they are using lobbyists and PR executives and their own platforms to try to limit the disclosure that they make to be accountable. American democracy is under siege and they are hiding behind intellectual arguments.

     

    [Deutsch tries to speak at same time as Wallace, then stops]

     

    WALLACE: And it's ongoing. I mean, they were involved, some of these Russian-linked Twitter accounts were involved last weekend in helping to sow-

     

    EDDIE GLAUDE JR.: [interjecting] Exactly.

     

    GEIST: [mumbles agreement] Right.

     

    WALLACE: -hatred around the debate about the NFL. This isn’t, we're not at a forensic stage where we're gonna look back at what they did in 2016, we're not even there yet. This is still-

     

    HALPERIN: [interrupting] The bombs are still falling.

     

    WALLACE: Right.

     

    ROTHMAN: [tries to speak, hard to hear] Wait, to what extent is there even a recourse?

     

    DEUTSCH: [interrupting] By the way, we can regulate, I’m gonna give you, we can regulate, we can regulate this. We start-, instead of the FCC, it’s the FDC. The Federal Digital Communications company. And there is a body, a governing body there, regulatory body, that when something like this happens, the, the economic consequence, the penalties in the hundreds of millions, you hit ‘em in the pocketbook, they'll figure it out.

    There are a lot of amazing comments here, particularly from Halperin and Deutsch.

    It’s not completely clear what Deutsch means by using a "FDC" "regulatory body" to financially cripple people (or who precisely those people/organizations would be, although based on his following comments it might be Facebook and Twitter that would suffer fines in his mind). However, Halperin’s characterization of protecting people’s right to freedom of speech, guaranteed by the First Amendment, as “hiding behind intellectual arguments” was most chilling.

    Thankfully, Rothman stepped in to voice some cogent defense of arguably this country’s most important founding principle: “I suppose there's any number of ways in which the federal government could target an institution that is a media institution that provides a platform for the exercise of the First Amendment. What is the limiting principle there? At what point are we targeting speech that we simply don't like?”

    After a brief pause and Deutsch simply interjecting “um,” Wallace tried her Ministry of Truth argument out again:

    WALLACE: Well you can't yell [...] fire in a movie theater if it's not true. I mean-

     

    ROTHMAN: [interrupting] You can if it's on fire.

     

    WALLACE: Well, I think the point on Twitter is that some of these things are not true, and-

     

    ROTHMAN: [interrupting] That’s, incitement to violence is one thing-

     

    WALLACE: -Twitter, Twitter and Facebook have done nothing. I mean money,-

     

    ROTHMAN: -and it’s extremely difficult to prove incitement to violence.

     

    WALLACE: -mon-, money has a seal to, so that we know when a dollar is real, when a dollar is counterfeit. There are groups that are trying to get the social media companies to have some sort of water seal or to verify the content, the veracity of it.

    It was fun to see Rothman trying, ever so subtly, to point out the basic problem with Wallace’s argument, namely: who determines what is and is not true?

    But then Halperin, skirting by having to address Rothman’s concerns, decided to seal the deal and make his position extremely clear: “[T]he government shouldn't be the recourse at first, it should be the boards of these companies.” That is, if Facebook and Twitter don’t start censoring in the right way or to the right extent, then Big Brother should do it himself.

    It’s nice to know that the media’s support for the free speech rights of NFL football players extends to all of us rubes too!

    The panel closed out the lengthy segment by chuckling at the prospect of quick action to "figure out" this "problem" and never addressed the more fundamental question about whether or not what they were proposing was anathema to the U.S. Constitution, either in law or spirit.

    We strongly suggest putting down all sharp objects before watching the following...

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  • Thousands march in Dublin against Irish abortion laws

    Author: 
    AFP
    Sat, 2017-09-30 23:33
    ID: 
    1506811885002456600

    DUBLIN: Thousands of demonstrators marched in Dublin on Saturday in favor of liberalising Ireland’s tight abortion laws ahead of a planned referendum on the fiercely-debated issue.
    Protesters chanted, “My body, my choice” and waved placards reading “Not the church, not the state: women should decide their fate,” as they headed through the capital toward the parliament.
    Linda Kavanagh, a spokeswoman from the Abortion Rights Campaign which organized the rally, told AFP: “The message today is ‘time to act’ because we’ve waited for a long time for a change.
    “We want full repeal. We can’t support exceptions and only a hundred people allowed to get access to abortion.”
    Keishia Taylor, a spokeswoman for the organization ROSA (For Reproductive Rights, told AFP: “I think today is going to be a huge turnout, a turning point.”
    Campaigners were expecting 30,000 to attend, but the police declined to give a crowd estimate.
    Abortion has always been illegal in Ireland and in 1983 an eighth amendment was added to the constitution after a referendum, giving equal rights to the life of the unborn child and the mother.
    The law was changed three decades later to allow terminations when the mother’s life is at risk, following public outrage at the death of a pregnant woman in 2012 who was refused an abortion.
    In the face of mounting public pressure, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Tuesday announced plans for a referendum on the issue to be held in May or June 2018, ahead of a visit by Pope Francis in August.

    Ireland is still deeply divided over the issue.
    A recent poll by Ipsos/MRBI found 67 percent of respondents were opposed to abortion in general but that 76 percent were in favor of legalizing it cases of rape.
    Varadkar, who trained as a doctor, has called the current laws “too restrictive.”
    Varadkar has said he would support abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities but is not supporting wider liberalization.
    Thousands of Irish women currently travel abroad for abortions every year, mainly to England.
    A “March for Choice” took place in London outside the Irish embassy on Saturday.
    The upcoming vote has rallied those on both sides of the debate, including activists seeking to keep the current legislation in place.
    In central Dublin, a small number of activists opposed to abortion handed out leaflets on Saturday, something they intend to do every week from now on.
    “The country is very polarized at the moment, so what we try to do now is to reach people on the fence, who haven’t made up their minds yet,” said organizer Alan Keena.

    The Irish government has already sought to gauge public opinion, setting up a Citizens’ Assembly which between November and April debated the eighth amendment.
    Summing up their discussions, a majority of the 99 members recommended legalizing abortion in a wide range of circumstances.
    A parliamentary committee has also been examining the abortion law, but on both sides of the debate there is mistrust of officials’ approach.
    “The wording of the referendum will have a large bearing on the outcome and my instinct is that there will be compromise, there has to be, because there are 22 people from all sides on that committee,” said Anna McKenna, 66, a retired teacher on Saturday’s march.
    Although the pro-abortion camp reacted positively to the referendum announcement, there is suspicion that MPs continue to be heavily influenced by the church in the mainly Catholic country.
    Unlike the referendum which saw Ireland vote in favor of same-sex marriage in May 2015, no politicians have yet taken a strong position calling for greater abortion access.
    Irish media has reacted similarly, reluctant to take a bold stance on an issue which has divided Irish society.

    Main category: 
    related_nodes: 
    Family of girl, 13, forced to go to court to seek abortion after being ‘raped by father’s colleague’
    Indian court rejects abortion for 10-year-old rape victim
    Sweden to cut aid to groups applying US abortion ban

  • US directly communicating with North Korea, seeks dialogue

    Author: 
    Reuters
    Sat, 2017-09-30 23:37
    ID: 
    1506811208622440700

    BEIJING: The United States said on Saturday it was directly communicating with North Korea on its nuclear and missile programs but Pyongyang had shown no interest in dialogue.
    The disclosure by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a trip to China represented the first time he has spoken to such an extent about US outreach to North Korea over its pursuit of a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile.
    “We are probing so stay tuned,” Tillerson told a group of reporters in Beijing.
    “We ask: ‘Would you like to talk?’ We have lines of communications to Pyongyang. We’re not in a dark situation, a blackout.”
    He said that communication was happening directly and cited two or three US channels open to Pyongyang.
    “We can talk to them. We do talk to them,” he said, without elaborating about which Americans were involved in those contacts or how frequent or substantive they were.
    The goal of any initial dialogue would be simple: finding out directly from North Korea what it wants to discuss.
    “We haven’t even gotten that far yet,” he said.
    Trying to tamp down expectations, the State Department said later there were no signs Pyongyang was interested in talks.
    “North Korean officials have shown no indication that they are interested in or are ready for talks regarding denuclearization,” department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.
    Tillerson previously had offered little detail about US outreach. On Sept. 20, he acknowledged only “very, very limited” contact with Pyongyang’s UN envoy.
    When asked about Tillerson’s assertion and what communication there might be between Pyongyang and Washington, a spokesman for the North Korean mission to the United Nations said he “can’t go further into detail.”

    OVERHEATED SITUATION
    Tillerson’s remarks followed a day of meetings in Beijing, which has been alarmed by recent exchanges of war-like threats and personal insults between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump.
    “I think the whole situation’s a bit overheated right now,” Tillerson said. “I think everyone would like for it to calm down.
    “Obviously it would help if North Korea would stop firing off missiles. That’d calm things down a lot.”
    South Korean officials have voiced concerns that North Korea could conduct more provocative acts near the anniversary of the founding of its communist party on Oct. 10, or possibly when China holds its Communist Party Congress on Oct. 18.
    North Korea is fast advancing toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland. It conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test on Sept. 3 and has threatened to test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific.
    US officials including Tillerson say Beijing, after long accounting for some 90 percent of North Korea’s foreign trade, appears increasingly willing to cut ties to its neighbor’s economy by adopting UN sanctions.
    Tillerson said China’s more assertive posture was due to its realization that North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities had advanced too far.
    “I think they also have a sense that we’re beginning to run out of time and that we really have to change the dynamic,” Tillerson said.
    The goal of the sanctions would be getting North Korea’s Kim to view nuclear weapons as a liability, not a strength.
    Still, the US intelligence community does not believe Kim is likely to give up his weapons program willingly, regardless of sanctions.
    “(Tillerson’s) working against the unified view of our intelligence agencies, which say there’s no amount of pressure that can be put on them to stop,” Senator Bob Corker told a hearing at the chamber on Thursday.
    Kim sees nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles as “his ticket to survival,” Corker said.
    Tillerson agreed that Kim’s nuclear and missile programs were aimed at ensuring his own security, and renewed assurances that the United States did not seek to topple Kim’s government.
    “Look, our objective is denuclearization (of North Korea),” he said. “Our objective is not to get rid of you. Our objective is not to collapse your regime.”

    INCREMENTAL STEPS
    It is unclear how and when any actual negotiations with Pyongyang might be possible.
    White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster said on Monday there were no set preconditions for talks. He added, however, that Pyongyang’s capabilities were too far advanced to simply freeze its program in return for concessions.
    He also dismissed the idea of negotiating with Pyongyang even as it continued to develop its nuclear weapons program.
    Tillerson in March suggested the United States would only engage North Korea in negotiations once it gave up nuclear weapons.
    But he acknowledged on Saturday that denuclearization would be an “incremental process.”
    “You’d be foolish to think you’re going to sit down and say: OK, done. Nuclear weapons, gone. This is going to be a process of engagement with North Korea,” he said.
    Trump, who is due to visit China in November, has called for it to do more regarding North Korea and has promised to take steps to rebalance a trade relationship that his administration says puts US businesses at a disadvantage.
    Chinese President Xi Jinping did not mention North Korea in his opening remarks while meeting Tillerson on Saturday. He instead offered warm words about Trump, saying he expected the US president’s visit to be “wonderful.”
    “The two of us have also maintained a good working relationship and personal friendship,” Xi said in comments in front of reporters.

    Main category: 
    related_nodes: 
    US President Trump to visit Asia in November, North Korea in spotlight
    US Secretary of State Tillerson in China to pile pressure on North Korea
    N. Korea accuses ‘old lunatic’ Trump of exploiting Warmbier death

  • Georgetown Bank Teller Steals $185,000 From Homeless Customer With Garbage Bag Full Of Cash

    Where did all this money come from?

    That’s probably the first question that Phelon Davis of District Heights, Maryland, asked himself when a homeless man shuffled into the Wells Fargo branch in Georgetown where Davis worked as a teller three years ago and tried to deposit a garbage bag full of cash.

    His next question was probably "do you think he'd notice if some of it went missing?"

    Instead of helping the customer deposit the money into his account, Davis instead decided to take advantage of the situation, setting up a fraudulent second account under the customers’ name and eventually stealing more than $185,000 from the man, according to the Washington Post.

    The 29-year-old bank teller stole more than $185,000 from a homeless customer who tried to deposit a garbage bag full of cash at a Wells Fargo branch in Georgetown.

    In a deal with prosecutors, Davis pleaded guilty this week to one federal felony count of interstate transportation of stolen property, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

    Deepening the intrigue surrounding the story, the court filings didn’t name the man, or furnish an explanation as to how he came to possess such a large sum of cash. It describes the man only as a "street vendor."

    Here’s WaPo with more:

    The victim was unnamed in court filings but was described as a homeless street vendor and longtime Wells Fargo customer who had more than one account that had gone dormant because of a lack of activity.

     

    Court filings did not identify the customer or say why a homeless person would have a large amount of cash in a bag when he showed up at the M Street NW branch where Davis worked. Outside the courtroom, Davis’s attorney, Bruce Allen Johnson Jr., said he also did not know how the individual came to have the cache of cash. “That’s the million-dollar question,” Johnson said.

     

    In plea papers, Davis acknowledged that the customer had “thousands of dollars of cash” that he wanted to deposit in October 2014, but he lacked identification. Davis told the customer where to get ID documents and a Social Security card, and also noted the customer “had a surprisingly large balance with the bank,” according to a signed, three-page statement of the crime.

    Soon after the customer tried to deposit the cash, Davis fraudulently opened a new account by forging the customer’s signature, set up an ATM card, personal identification number, email address and online logon that he controlled.

    He initially funded the account with $3,000 from one of the customer’s other accounts, according to WaPo.

    Slowly over the next two years, Davis transferred $177,400 between the customer’s accounts, withdrew $185,440, and transported at least $5,000 withdrawn from ATMs in DC to his home in Maryland – triggering the federal charge.

    The customer remained oblivious to the fraud, as he could only see the balance by checking on his account at an ATM.

    Davis used the stolen money for a down payment on his home, to pay off personal debt, and fund vacations in Aruba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

    As part of his plea, Davis agreed to pay back the stolen money, and Assistant US Attorney Kondi J. Kleinman said he would likely face a sentence of 18 to 30 months under federal guidelines. However, the sentencing judge has discretion to assign a longer, or shorter, sentence.  

    “Did you, in fact, take money from an account as Mr. Kleinman described?” U.S. Magistrate Robin M. Meriweather asked in the Thursday plea hearing.

     

    “Yes, ma’am, I did,” said the soft-spoken Davis.

    Davis’s attorney, Johnson, said outside of court that “he greatly regrets the decisions he made and is dedicated to doing everything he can to make it right, including restitution. He is putting everything aside to repay the money and do what he can to repair what he’s done to his name, his reputation and to the victim.”

    WaPo reports that a date for Davis’s sentencing hasn’t been set.
     

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