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The SEC Can't Keep Kik-ing the Crypto Can Down the Road

June 5, 2019 in Economics

By Diego Zuluaga

Diego Zuluaga

The Securities and Exchange Commission, the most important
regulator for the largest capital market in the world, has been
grappling with the question of how to regulate cryptocurrencies for
more than two years. Yet as of mid-2019, more than 10 years since
the birth of bitcoin, it cannot claim to have made much
progress.

The latest example of the SEC’s ambiguous approach is the
launch of an enforcement action against Kik
Interactive, Inc. Kik is a social media platform that began issuing
its own cryptocurrency (Kin) in mid-2017.

Before the enforcement action, Kin’s market capitalization
was $40 million — tiny by comparison to the wider crypto
market ($245 billion), which is itself a tiny fraction of the $65
trillion market value of U.S.-listed stocks and bonds.

The SEC has a mandate to bring actions against individuals and
firms that issue securities without registering the offering or
adhering to an exemption. But the Commission has so far failed to
provide any reliable guidance as to which criteria it uses to
determine whether a token qualifies as a security.

The SEC has missed
several opportunities to give clear and consistent guidance about
the regulatory status of cryptocurrencies. This inaction has
needlessly prolonged uncertainty and instilled distrust and fear
among market participants.

Important spokespeople for the SEC, such as its Chairman Jay
Clayton and the Director of Corporation Finance Bill Hinman, have
made divergent statements. More generally, the SEC has repeatedly
stated that it will judge future cases by their individual
“facts and circumstances,” which has not helped market
participants understand its general approach.

What has been lacking is a clear statement of the circumstances
in which a token offering is not a securities offering. The SEC has
failed to provide an avenue for crypto issuers who — as
seems to be the case with
Kin’s promoters — do not wish to offer a security and
want to make that clear from the outset to prospective buyers.

Mixed signals

As recently as last year, Chairman Clayton claimed that
“all ICOs [initial coin offerings] [he’d] seen [were]
securities.” Yet, in the more than 12 months since, the SEC
has pursued three dozen enforcement actions against digital asset
issuers. That’s less than 10 percent of the 434 ICOs that the
SEC’s own complaint against Kin cites for 2017, using figures
from CoinDesk. What’s more, many of
those three dozen involve outright fraud, not just unregistered
securities offerings.

Clayton has not yet, to my knowledge, amended his previous
statement. Meanwhile, Hinman almost exactly a year ago said in a
<a target=_blank …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Seventy Years Later, It’s Still '1984'

June 5, 2019 in Economics

By Matthew Feeney

Matthew Feeney

In October 1947, Eric Blair—known today by his pen name
George Orwell—wrote a letter to the co-owner of the Secker
& Warburg publishing house. In that letter, Orwell noted that
he was in the “last lap” of the rough draft of a novel,
describing it as “a most dreadful mess.”

Orwell had sequestered himself on the Scottish island of Jura in
order to finish the novel. He completed it the following year,
having transformed his “most dreadful mess” into
“1984,” one of the 20th century’s most important
novels.

Published in 1949, the novel turns 70 this year. The anniversary
provides an opportunity to reflect on its significance and its most
valuable, but sometimes overlooked, lesson.

The main lesson of “1984” is not “persistent
surveillance is bad,” or “authoritarian governments are
dangerous.” These are true statements, but not the most
important message.

“1984” is at its core a novel about language; how it
can be used by governments to subjugate and obfuscate, and by
citizens to resist oppression.

Orwell was a master of the English language and his legacy lives
on through some of the words he created. Even those who
haven’t read “1984” know some of its
“newspeak.”

“1984” provides English speakers with a vocabulary
to discuss surveillance, police states and authoritarianism, which
includes terms such as “Big Brother,” “thought
police,” “unperson” and
“doublethink,” to name a few.

The authoritarian government of Orwell’s Oceania
doesn’t merely punish dissent severely—it seeks to make
even thinking about dissent impossible.

When Inner Party member O’Brien tortures
“1984’s” protagonist, Winston Smith, he holds up
his hand with four fingers extended and asks Smith how many fingers
he sees. When Smith replies, “Four! Four! What else can I
say? Four!” O’Brien inflicts excruciating pain on
him.

After Smith finally claims to see five fingers, O’Brien
emphasizes that saying “five” is not enough.
“ No, Winston, that is no use. You are lying. You still think
there are four.”

Orwell’s own name inspired an adjective,
“Orwellian,” which is widely used in modern political
rhetoric, albeit often inappropriately. It’s usually our
enemies who are acting Orwellian, and it’s a testament to
Orwell’s talents that everyone seems to think
“1984” is about their political opponents.

The political left sees plenty of Orwellian tendencies in the
White House and the criminal justice system. The political right
bemoans “thought police” on college campuses and social
media companies turning users into “unpersons.”

But politicians can lie without being Orwellian, and a private
company closing a social media account is nothing like a state
murdering someone and eliminating them from history. Likewise,
perceived academic conformity might be potentially stifling, but
it’s hardly comparable to a conformity enforced by a police
state that eliminates entire words from society.

Yet when U.S. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Eating Bats, Drinking Urine: 5 Stunning Real-Life Survival Stories

June 5, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

These people went off the beaten track. Then things went horribly wrong.

Talk about survival of the fittest.

HISTORY’s series Alone drops contestants into some of the planet’s most punishing environments, with a bare minimum of clothing, safety and survival gear. Whoever lasts the longest in this middle-of-nowhere endurance test wins a jackpot of $500,000. In their battle against the elements, contestants are forced to use their fitness, their grit and their creativity to become true survivalists.

Few people choose to be thrust into such extreme situations, but those who do have usually stumbled into some colossal bad luck. Just check out this list of famous real-life survival stories:

READ MORE: 6 Explorers Who Disappeared

Aron Ralston

Aron Ralston became famous when he escaped certain death by cutting off his arm after becoming trapped by a boulder in the American wilderness.

If you’ve seen the movie 127 Hours, you know how Aron Ralston’s story goes. But for those who haven’t, it’s a bit of a shocker.

In 2003, Ralston was hiking alone in Bluejohn Canyon in Canyonlands National Park in southeast Utah. While he was descending into one of the remote and exceedingly narrow canyons, a boulder fell and trapped his right arm. For five days he survived off of packed water and snacks, hoping someone would find him. Trouble was, not only was the spot remote, but he also hadn’t told anyone where he was going.

Realizing he may never be found (and running out of supplies) he was forced to amputate his arm by cutting through the bone using his multi-tool that included a knife. After freeing himself, he began the seven mile walk back to his truck. During his journey, a family discovered him and alerted authorities.

He lost 40 pounds during his ordeal, and somehow, miraculously, avoided bleeding to death. He now continues to mountaineer and works as a motivational speaker.

READ MORE: 7 Frontier Survival Hacks Worthy of Daniel Boone

Sir Douglas Mawson


Douglas Mawson battled the elements during an Australasian Antarctic Expedition in the early 20th century.

Douglas Mawson—cannibal or hero? Mawson was an Australian geologist and explorer who infamously explored the frozen continent with a team of fellow adventurers in 1912. In December of that year, Mawson and two other expedition members left the main base at Commonwealth Bay, embarking on a 300-mile exploration into the interior of the continent to gather scientific data and specimens. Tragedy …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Interactive: Why D-Day Was One of the Most Stunning Feats of World War II

June 5, 2019 in History

By History Staff

Seventy-five years ago, the Allied powers in World War II decided to take the fight against Adolf Hitler directly to France. Planned for more than two years, the D-Day offensive was a full-scale invasion designed to push the Nazis back into Germany. No amphibious mission of its size had ever been attempted.

The epic D-Day offensive ended in Allied victory, but it was a shocking, hard-fought mission that did not always go to plan.

…read more

Source: HISTORY

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The Poor Want More Opportunity, Not More Entitlement Spending

June 5, 2019 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

It probably won’t come as much of a surprise to learn that
most Americans regard the War on Poverty as a failure. According to
a new YouGov poll, conducted for the Cato Institute, 77 percent of
Americans call it “ineffective.” This includes 80
percent of Republicans and 72 percent of Democrats. In this age of
political polarization, that represents an extraordinary bipartisan
consensus. But what many might find to be even more extraordinary
is that the vast majority of poor Americans agree, too. Fully 63
percent of people receiving welfare today say that the War on
Poverty has not succeeded. Given the $26 trillion that the United
States has spent fighting poverty since Lyndon Johnson declared war
on it in 1965, that’s a scathing indictment.

Of course, the poor may think the War on Poverty failed because
$26 trillion wasn’t enough. Maybe they worry their benefits
are simply too low. That’s not the case. When asked whether
the government had the ability to end poverty even with unlimited
spending, 58 percent of welfare recipients said that it could
not.

A new poll shows that
even those whom the War on Poverty aims to help believe it has
failed. It’s long past time for a new agenda.

So what do the poor think the government should do to help them
escape poverty? An overwhelming 59 percent of welfare recipients
say that the government should focus on eliminating the underlying
causes of poverty, as opposed to “giving what money we have
to poor people to help them get on their feet.” Most
significantly, 76 percent of welfare recipients believe that
increased economic growth will do more to reduce poverty than would
increasing welfare spending. In fact, welfare recipients were more
likely to prefer economic growth than registered Democrats (67
percent).

In other words, those candidates who are calling for higher
taxes, increased business regulation, and more redistribution are
out of touch, not just with sound economic policy, but with the
wishes of those they are ostensibly trying to help.

Of course, this does not mean that the poor don’t see
barriers to their ability to become full participants in a growing
economy. But contrary to conventional wisdom, most of the problems
they identify are a result of failed big-government policies.

For instance, even if economic growth creates more jobs,
government policies may still make it hard for the poor to find
employment. To cite just one example, fully 45 percent of welfare
recipients and 46 percent of the unemployed said that the lack of
an occupational license or similar credentials prevented them or
someone they knew from getting a job.

The …read more

Source: OP-EDS