What did Facebook purge with Wednesday’s reboot/outage?

On Wednesday Facebook was taken down for “required maintenance.”

The required action comes two days after the connections between Mark Zuckerberg’s deep ties to the Defense Department’s LifeLog surveillance program as I wrote here.

We have seen this all before with other tech communications services after drops have called them out for nefarious actions being taken on the platforms.

Google Mail was taken down the same week it was revealed that ex-FBI Director James Comey, Obama’s AG Loretta Lynch and other DOJ and FBI actors were using the service to talk through a shared e-mail address. The participants were just using drafts without sending the message in order to evade detection by the spy agencies.

The same scenario occurred with Microsoft’s X-Box platform with the same cast and others using the messaging system on the gaming site.

Back to Facebook, we see there are numerous federal probes into the company for violating hundreds of millions of users’ privacy by sharing personal information with governments, advertisers and device makers.There’s still probes into the Cambridge Analytica project during the 2016 presidential campaign as well.

The feds are crawling all over the company for new and older violations. The Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Trade Commission, Department of Justice and FBI have open probes.

The social media site is girding for perhaps as high as hundreds of billions of dollars in fines from assorted past violations.

So we don’t know what was perhaps purged on this latest Facebook reboot purge on Wednesday, but it appears that federal investigators already have the information they needed.

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Need to look at the spouses of disgraced FBI and DOJ officials

The FBI’s Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division Peter Strzok was fired by the deputy director of the bureau on Monday for his anti-Trump bias while investigating the Russian collusion case.

While that may be an easy charge to pin on him given the number of tweets he shared with FBI lawyer Lisa Page and how they wrote how they would stop Trump from being elected, I believe Strzok along with DOJ’s former associate deputy attorney general Bruce Ohr will be charged with further crimes for covering up the Russian Dossier.

Both Stzok and Ohr covered up the origins of the dossier when it was presented to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) court for approval to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page. They did not tell the court that the Fusion/GPS document written by former MI-6 spy Christopher Steele  was financed through the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.

In December 2017, Bruce Ohr was removed from his position as US associate deputy attorney general over his involvement with the dossier.

Now let’s look at the spouses of these two men.

Bruce Ohr is married to Nellie Ohr and according to a House Intelligence Committee memo released by Chairman Devin Nunes, Nellie Ohr was “employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump” and that Bruce Ohr passed along the results of that research, which was paid for by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign, to the FBI. The “salacious and unverified” dossier was used to obtain a FISA surveillance warrant to spy on Carter Page.

Peter Strzok is married to Melissa Hodgman who is an Associate Director in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division since Oct. 2016.

Hodgman was named to the position two days after her husband discovered that the New York office of the FBI found 650,000 emails on Anthony Weiner’s lap top.

Many of the emails between Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin, Weiner’s wife, showed at the very least they were using an unsecured private server containing classified documents. We may never know all that was on that laptop, but Weiner is serving a 21-month sentence for engaging in lewd acts with a 15-year-old girl online.

In Hodgman’s new position she could direct or coordinate investigations between the SEC and DOJ utilizing FBI enforcement staff. She also oversees international investigations, leading some to speculate at the time that Hodgman could be an “insurance policy” to look into financial records between Russians and the Trump campaign should that need to be done.

A bitcoin ETF will be death knell of true price discovery of cryptocurrencies

As I wrote for the New York Post on Sunday the brief recent history of bitcoin and its rise to $1,600 this year, despite having some setbacks early in 2017.

Many commenters cited bitcoin as a better “investment” than gold and silver because the cyrptocurrency cannot be manipulated like precious metals, through rehypothecation, or the selling the same bar of gold or silver  many times through paper trades in the ETFs.

While this is true right now, I have written that this is the primary reason the Securities and Exchange Commission is reopening its decision not to allow bitcoin’s use as an ETF backed asset.

Many supporters of the  cryptocurrencies are looking to the creation of an ETF as giving bitcoin the legitimacy it so craves. I believe if and when the SEC approves the use of bitcoin for an ETF it will be the death knell for the digital currencies price discovery freedoms.

While the feds may still have a sizeable stake in bitcoin through its prosecution of various organizations and the forfeiture of the digital currency after being found guilty for fraud or other capital crimes, the feds probably do not have enough to continue keeping the price of bitcoin in check.

This is why I believe the SEC has decided to take a second look at the BTC ETF to give the feds a mechanism to manipulate the price through papers trades.

Edited: I have added the below section on how the ETF would suppression pricing due to criticism by some.

When you have an ETF — or paper contracts that will far exceed the number of bitcoins in circulation — the ETF can short the BTC price or sell off the contracts without ever buying the underlining commodity, in this case BTC.

Both these actions will drive the price of BTC down as we have seen for the last 10 years in gold and silver prices.

As with all ETFs on commodities, the contract can be settled in US dollars. So there is no reason for the ETF to load up on BTC. It is a derivative product on the price only.

 

 

Bitcoin on a tear reaching for $1,500

Global stock indices are not the only asset class making new highs on a daily basis. Cryptocurrencies — specifically bitcoin — are soaring as well to fresh levels.

Despite two major set backs for bitcoin in 2017, the digital currency has soared nearly 45% from its year-to-date  lows as Asian investors flock to the new-age currency.

Bitcoin prices are now trading at previously uncharted levels as the value of the cryptocurrency reached a high of $1,462 on CoinDesk  on Tuesday morning in NYC.

In January the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, launched a crackdown on bitcoin believing that citizens were using it to move wealth out of the country. Prices fell as low as $750 on January 12th, before recovering.

In March the cryptocurrency had a run up on the anticipation of the Securites and Exchange Commission would decide in favor of a bitcoin ETF driven by the Winklevoss brothers. Bitcoin prices reached a high at the time of $1,350, before the feds nixed the proposal  sending prices falling to a low of $891 soon afterward.

Prices began to recover making their present move upward as Japan officially acknowledged the use of cryptocurrencies and passed legislation allowing retailers to accept payment in digital form.

Also Russia and India have also loosened restrictions on cryptocurrencies, leading to wider acceptance within their borders as both countries — India more so — struggle with their own internal currency crises.

The SEC announced last month that it would take a second look at a bitcoin ETF by reviewing its ruling in the Winklevoss brothers’ application. No timetable has been released on when that may happen.

Bitcoin’s market cap is now north of $23 billion, which is chump change for any asset class, however with more acceptance and wider appeal the digital currency can be divided into smaller units such as decibits, millibits and centibits to make smaller transactions possibly.

Ethereum, which is the second most prominent cryptocurrency after Bitcoin, struck a new all-time high Tuesday as well, trading at $85 and it now has a market cap of $7 billion on the strength of its acceptance in gaming circles in the Asian countries.