BRICS consider setting up gold trading system

By ethan / November 26, 2017

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) are discussing the possibility of establishing a separate gold trading system, according to the First Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Central Bank Sergey Shvetsov.

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© Vasily Fedosenko

“The traditional (trade) system based in London and partially in Swiss cities is becoming less relevant as new trade hubs are emerging, first of all in India, China, and South Africa,” he said, adding “we are discussing the possibility of establishing a single (system of) gold trade both within BRICS and at the level of bilateral contacts.”

BRICS countries are large economies with substantial reserves of gold and an impressive volume of production and consumption of the precious metal, said the official. According to him, the new system may serve as a basis for the further creation of new benchmarks.

The Bank of Russia has already signed a memorandum on developing bilateral gold trade with China. The regulator plans to form a single trade system with the People’s Republic of China in 2018.

READ MORE: China claims discovery of its largest gold mine with $ 22 billion potential

“We assume that trade and clearing links should be established. The point is that gold buyers should decide on the place of purchase,” Shvetsov said, adding that trade links will enable market participants to make deals on international exchanges via the central counterparty.

Last year, the Bank of Russia and the People’s Bank of China announced plans to create a platform that would unite gold trading by the world’s two biggest gold buying countries.

According to the World Gold Council, Russia is the largest official buyer of gold and the world’s third-biggest producer, with the central bank purchasing from domestic miners through commercial banks. It has more than doubled the pace of gold purchases over the past decade, adding more than 1,250 tons to its gold reserves. In the second quarter of 2017, it accounted for 38 percent of all gold purchased by central banks.

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FBI processes record 200,000+ gun background checks on Black Friday

By ethan / November 25, 2017

Buying a gun in the United States could hardly be described as difficult, and bargain hunting weapons enthusiasts were out in force on Black Friday with the FBI receiving over 200,000 requests for background checks in a single day.

That figure smashes the previous two years, both also record showings for checks in a single day, as trigger-happy Americans flocked to pick up their bargain basement weapon of choice, USA Today reports.

The 203,086 requests is more than the previous two record years. 2016’s commercialist orgy saw 185,713 requests, while the previous year the figure stood at 185,345. However, the amount of guns purchased is thought to be higher as one background check doesn’t equate to just one gun, as the customer may purchase a number of weapons in a single go.

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 First responders work the scene of a shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs Sunday November 5, 2017. © Edward A. Ornelas / Global Look Press

Earlier this week, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which receives requests for background checks, review the system that allowed court-martialed Air Force veteran Devin Patrick Kelley to purchase a rifle that he used to murder 26 people at a Texas church. His victims ranged from 18 months to 77 years of age, and almost half were children.

Kelley had previously escaped from the Peak Behavioral Health Service in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, and authorities had said that the gunman “was a danger to himself and others as he had already been caught sneaking firearms” onto the Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, where he had been stationed.

Kelley was facing a court martial by the US Air Force at the time, on charges of assaulting his wife and stepson. He was also “attempting to carry out death threats that [he] had made on his military chain of command,” according to the police report.

Following the murders, the US Air Force admitted that it failed to enter Kelley’s court-martial conviction for domestic violence into a database that could have blocked him from purchasing the rifle he used in the attack.

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DUP leader insists party will oppose any ‘internal barriers’ in Brexit negotiations

By ethan / November 25, 2017

Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster has vowed to block any attempt to create a border in the Irish sea between Northern Ireland and the British mainland during Brexit negotiations.

“Northern Ireland is British and British it will remain,” Foster told the DUP faithful gathered for the party’s annual conference in Belfast. Foster, dubbed the kingmaker, after her party secured a £1 billion deal for the province from Theresa May’s government following the snap UK election in June, also told followers that Britain would quit the EU as “as one United Kingdom.”

The deal saw the DUP prop up the Tory government, following damaging losses in the surprising election. Foster’s comments come as the issue regarding Northern Ireland’s border threatens to become a key point in Brexit negotiations.

The government of the Republic of Ireland previously vowed to stop talks moving onto trade, if there  are any suggestions of reinstating a so-called “hard border” separating the Republic from its neighbor to the north. The island has been politically split in two since 1922, following the Irish war for independence, which resulted in the creation of the then Irish Free State (now the Republic) and Northern Ireland.

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Britain's Prime Minister, Theresa May and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Leader Arlene Foster © Stefan Wermuth

Both Dublin and the European Union have backed suggestions that a customs border be established on the British mainland and not the island of Ireland, though Foster has categorically ruled out such a proposal, saying that it would damage the north’s position within the union.

“We want a sensible Brexit. A Brexit that works for Northern Ireland and for the United Kingdom,” Foster said:

“However, we will not support any arrangements that create barriers to trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom,” she added, and batted away any “suggestion that Northern Ireland, unlike the rest of the UK, will have to mirror European regulations.”

Foster further stated that she had written to the “heads of government of each of the EU 27 member states setting out our views.”

2017 has been a memorable year for the once-embattled DUP leader who faced intense calls to resign earlier in the year to standing on the steps of Number 10, the fate of the Tories in her hand.

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USAF tells pilots to ‘keep windscreens clean’ after 19 near-misses with UK aircraft

By ethan / November 25, 2017

The US Air Force (USAF) has taken the step of advising their UK-based fighter pilots that they need to keep their cockpit windows clean after a series of narrowly-avoided, mid-air collisions.

The BBC reports that USAF F-15 jets based at the Royal Air Force (RAF) base in Lakenheath, Suffolk, were involved in 19 near misses with UK aircraft in the past five years. One of the most serious incidents took place in January 2017, when two F-15s and an RAF Voyager tanker came within seconds of a mid air crash. The RAF pilot claimed one of the US F-15s flew as close as 50m (160ft) before roaring past to avoid a collision.

An investigation by the UK Airprox Board found that the F-15 pilot was unaware of the Voyager until it was too late, concluding that there was a “serious risk of collision” and that “luck had played a major part” in averting disaster. The incident was classified as a Category A, the highest and most serious classification.

READ MORE: Reboot required: US Air Force’s F-35 has a radar problem

A manual for USAF pilots at RAF Lakenheath instructs them to keep their windscreens clean and to “consciously note how much time you spend looking outside the cockpit.”

“Sometimes little things like keeping your screen clean can make the difference,” a USAF spokesman told the BBC. On Monday, a USAF training jet crashed in Texas, killing the pilot and injuring another. The two-seater, T-38 Talon jet crashed about 4pm local time, roughly 14 miles (22.5 km) northwest of Laughlin Air Base.

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Big-time investors see safe haven in bitcoin if traditional financial system collapses

By ethan / November 25, 2017

Bitcoin could become a lifeline for hedge funds and other investment professionals in case the established financial system fails, says Mikhail Mashchenko, an analyst at the social network for investors eToro in Russia and CIS.

“The demand for bitcoin is growing as the crypto market has become less volatile, and an increasing number of professional investors see it as insurance,” the analyst told RT.

Digital platforms have been trying very hard to attract institutional investors, according to Mashchenko.

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© Mike Segar

“LedgerX launched its first long-term options for bitcoin, with an expiration date of December 28, 2018. In the coming months, we will continue to see the ‘domestication’ of bitcoin: the Chicago Board Options Exchange and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange are planning to launch tools based on the cryptocurrency in the near future,” he said.

Many funds stayed away from crypto-assets due to lack of proper infrastructure; however, cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has decided to start a depository for customers with more than $ 10 million in assets, the analyst says.

As big money is now flowing into bitcoin, further growth would be harder after the first 11 months of this year, as institutional investors hate volatility.

“We could see a bitcoin at $ 10,000 in a month or so. However, such a surge will be based on emotions, not on fundamental factors. So, further growth of the cryptocurrency will require something more than euphoria,” Mashchenko said.

Bitcoin has surged 850 percent this year. The cryptocurrency was trading below $ 1,000 on January 1 and is now trading near the $ 8,200 mark.

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Aspiring Obama assassin found by FBI thanks to cat hair & cigarettes

By ethan / November 25, 2017

A woman who posted an improvised explosive device (IED) to former US President Barack Obama has been identified after cat hair from the package matched with hair from the 46-year-old Texan’s pets.

Julia Poff has also been accused of sending the same type of homemade bomb to Texas governor, Greg Abbott in 2016, as well as a third package to the Social Security Administration near Baltimore. Poff was indicted by a grand jury on November 20 on six counts, including sending “injurious articles” and “transportation of explosives with the intent to kill and injure.”

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Lee Harvey Oswald (C) was killed by Jack Ruby on 24 November on the eve of President Kennedy's burial. © Dallas Police Department

The court documents further state that Abbott only escaped “severe burns and death” because the package “failed to explode because he did not open it as designed.” FBI investigators found a number of clues, including hair from Poff’s cats, on the device mailed to the former president which helped foil any further assassination attempts.

“Cat hair was found under the address label,” the indictment reads. “The cat hair on the Obama package was microscopically consistent with the hair of one of Poff’s cats.”

Further to the feline hair, FBI sleuths said the device sent to Abbott came in a package still bearing an “obliterated shipping label” addressed to Poff and that the cigarette box used to make the bomb bore a stamp from Texas that identifies the store where they were bought. Poff’s bank statements show a purchase of cigarettes at the same store.

The FBI said that Poff held a grudge against Abbott as he was the presiding Attorney General at the time of her divorce and she blamed Abbott for her ex-husband’s failure to support her.

In Obama’s case it seemed Poff simply “did not like the president.” Poff is detained pending trial. The maximum sentence for her alleged crimes is ”life imprisonment or death.”

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Black Friday sales push Jeff Bezos’ net worth over $100bn

By ethan / November 25, 2017

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has become the world’s richest person after soaring Black Friday sales and a banner year for his company. Bezos has once again knocked Bill Gates off the top spot.

Online sales on Black Friday were up 18.4 percent year-on-year, and Amazon alone may have accounted for half of all online sales on Black Friday according to one estimate, reports The Verge. Black Friday sales propelled the retailer’s shares up by over two percent, Bezos being the owner of roughly 17 percent (78.9 million shares worth $ 93.6 billion) of the company he founded in his garage in Seattle 1994.

Putting it into context, Bezos made $ 2.4 billion on Friday, enough by itself to propel a person into Forbes top 1,000 richest people on the planet.

Bezos surpassed Microsoft founder Bill Gates as the richest person on the planet back in October before dropping back, but he has now solidified his position as the wealthiest person on earth. Bill Gates was the first to achieve a 12-figure net worth back in 1999.

However, Gates has a current net worth of $ 86.8 billion but would far outrank Bezos had he not given away 700 million shares in Microsoft, in addition to $ 2.9 billion in cash and other assets to charity. Were he more selfish, Bloomberg estimates Gates could currently be worth $ 150 billion.

Bezos hasn’t given or pledged as much to charity as his billionaire contemporaries like Gates or Warren Buffett. He has, however, given away Amazon shares worth $ 500 million (at current share price) since 2002. He has also requested ideas for philanthropic ventures on Twitter.

The 53-year-old Amazon founder bought The Washington Post in 2013 for $ 250 million and founded the aerospace company Blue Origin, a rival to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, in 2000.

In a stark reminder of wealth inequality in the US, it emerged this month that the combined fortunes of Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos (roughly $ 248.5 billion) exceeds the net worth of 160 million Americans, or 53 million US households.

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Woman ‘mistaken for deer’ shot to death by NY hunter

By ethan / November 25, 2017

A woman was fatally shot while taking her dogs out for a walk in the field in Western upstate New York state after a neighboring hunter mistook her for a deer, local police reported.

The local hunter, identified as Thomas B. Jadlowski, fired a single shot with his pistol on Wednesday after “he believed he saw a deer in a field” in the town of Sherman, the Chautauqua County sheriff’s office said. He then heard a woman screaming in agony.

The bullet hit 42-year-old Rosemary Bilquist, who was walking her dogs in the field behind her house, in the hip. The man heard her scream and immediately ran towards her, finding Rosemary some 200 yards (182 meters) away and calling 911. Until the ambulance arrived, Jadlowski stayed with the woman and applied pressure to her wound. However, Rosemary succumbed to her wound at a Pennsylvania hospital.

READ MORE: Hunter gored to death by charging deer in France

“They tried saving her,” her husband Jamie Bilquist told local newspaper The Buffalo News. “It was just too bad… It’s horrific. It will be with me the rest of my life,” he said.

The hunter broke the state regulations for hunting hours by firing his pistol after sunset, the police statement said. The man is said to be cooperating with the investigation and hasn’t been charged. The county district attorney’s office will decide whether to file criminal charges against Jadlowski.

“Hunters have to understand there are other people using trails, using parks in areas where we as sportsmen hunt,” said a master instructor for firearms for the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s hunter education program, Dale Dunkelberger, as quoted by the Buffalo News. “He shouldn’t have been out there hunting after sunset. You’re done. That’s the law.”

READ MORE: Man vs wild: Bear steals Siberian hunter’s 2 guns from his cabin

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Monaco expands into Mediterranean Sea to solve millionaire migrant 'problem'

By ethan / November 25, 2017

The tiny principality of Monaco has become so attractive to the super-rich willing to shelter their funds from taxes that reigning monarch Prince Albert II has given the green light to an offshore urban development project.

The world most cozy tax haven has a luxury property crisis due to lack space for the 2,700 multi-millionaires, expected to settle there over the next ten years, the Guardian reports.

Monaco is about the same size as New York’s Central Park and has a population of about 38,000 with only one in five a Monegasque, according to the FT. Nearly 35 out of every 100 Monaco residents are reportedly millionaires, with more likely to join them from across the world.

The new Portier Cove ecological neighborhood is projected to add six hectares (60 thousand square meters) to Monaco’s current territory of two square kilometers. The reclaimed land will allow the building of 120 expensive luxury houses.

The current cost of property in Monaco is about €90,900 per square meter and is second only to Hong Kong. Constantly increasing demand and a severe lack of supply has sent Monaco prices “through the roof,” according to Edward de Mallet Morgan, the global super prime residential partner at London-based estate agency Knight Frank.

The project is regarded as vital for the continued growth of the microstate. No new-build apartment went up for sale over last year, according to the state statistics agency IMSEE, as quoted by the Guardian.

Previous plans for a larger reclamation scheme were canceled due to the 2008 financial crisis along with environmental concerns. Bouygues, the construction company, involved the two billion dollar project, pledged no damage would be done to the environment.

According to the firm, all the important sea species have been relocated to a new reserve with 3D-printed artificial coral reefs installed to house wildlife.

Monaco is the smallest of the tax havens, and does not levy a personal income tax, wealth tax or capital gains tax. To apply for Monaco residency, applicants must show they have somewhere to live, open a Monaco bank account and deposit at least €500,000, and live in the principality for at least six months of the year.

The state boasts an opera house, a philharmonic orchestra, and concerts throughout the year. Moreover, Monaco hosts such sporting events as the Monte Carlo tennis open and the Monaco F1 Grand Prix.

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Launch to prove Earth is flat delayed by US govt

By ethan / November 25, 2017

The self-styled “World’s Most Famous Limousine Driver” Mike Hughes, 61, has suffered a setback in his attempts to prove the Earth is flat. On Saturday, a federal agency blocked his homemade rocket launch by withholding permission to use public land.

The steam-powered rocket was scheduled to take off in Amboy, California, a ghost town in the Mojave Desert along route 66, but Hughes couldn’t get permission from the Bureau of Land Management to conduct the launch. Hughes claims he was given verbal permission over a year ago while awaiting final approval from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).  

“It’s still happening. We’re just moving it three miles down the road,” Hughes told The Washington Post Friday. “This is what happens anytime you have to deal with any kind of government agency. I don’t see [the launch] happening until about Tuesday, honestly. It takes three days to set up… You know, it’s not easy because it’s not supposed to be easy.”

A spokesperson for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) told the Washington Post that there were no official records of contact between the agency and Hughes and that he had not requested the special recreation permit required to conduct the launch.

“Someone from our local office reached out to him after seeing some of these news articles [about the launch], because that was news to them,” BLM spokesperson Samantha Storms said, as cited by The Washington Post.

Hughes, who had previously claimed, “There’s no difference between science and science fiction,” and that “John Glenn and Neil Armstrong are Freemasons,” is an amateur scientist who made his first manned rocket in 2014.

He’s only a recent convert to Flat-Eartherism, which may have been spurred on by a failed Kickstarter campaign which only managed to raise $ 310 of the target of $ 150,000. His conversion was made on-air, after he called into a radio show that is popular among the flat-Earth community.

“We were kind of looking for new sponsors for this. And I’m a believer in the flat Earth,” Hughes told the host. “I researched it for several months. They have not put a man in space yet,” Hughes said. “There are 20 different space agencies here in America, and I’m the last person that’s put a man in a rocket and launched it.”

Hughes does, however, employ round-Earth technology (or just technology) for his vehicle.

“I know about aerodynamics and fluid dynamics and how things move through the air, about the certain size of rocket nozzles, and thrust. But that’s not science, that’s just a formula.”

Hughes has secured another, privately-owned launch site for his 500mph (804kph), mile-long flight through the Mojave Desert which he hopes will draw much-needed attention to the movement and will mark the first step in his flat-Earth space program. He hopes to garner enough funding to conduct a journey into the atmosflat to finally disprove the vast intergovernmental, interagency conspiracy shielding us from the truth: that we live on a flat disc, floating in space, surrounded by a giant ice wall.

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