Raw Story: Bannon Only Answered Trump-Approved Questions in Latest House Intel Hearing–Now Even the GOP is Considering Charges

The following is an excellent article written by Elizabeth Preza on the Raw Story website on February 15, 2018 titled “Bannon Only Answered Trump-Approved Questions in Latest House Intel Hearing–Now Even the GOP is Considering Charges” and I quote:

“Bannon only answered Trump-approved questions in latest House intel hearing — now even the GOP is considering charges”

The House Intelligence Committee is once again considering holding former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon in contempt after he told the panel he would not answer questions beyond a list authorized by the White House, CNN reports.

Bannon appeared at a House Intelligence Committee hearing after the White House on Wednesday sent lawmakers a letter purporting to explain “why [Donald] Trump’s transition period falls under its authority to assert executive privilege,” according to CNN. According to the White House, that means Bannon does not have to answer a broad range of questions from lawmakers, despite a pending subpoena against the former Trump aide.

Bannon’s refusal to answer questions has drawn rare bipartisan condemnation from lawmakers involved in questioning the former Breitbart executive chairman. As CNN noted, Republicans are concerned about Bannon’s invocation of executive privilege, and “say they’re worried about the precedent it would set.” Still, Republicans—including Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), who heads the committee’s investigation—decline to say whether they’d hold Bannon in contempt.

Conaway says he and Ryan are considering next steps. Does not rule out initiating contempt proceedings. Calls Bannon intvw frustrating. https://twitter.com/karoun/status/964205234586357760 

Democrats on the panel say Republicans are refusing to stand up to Bannon or the White House.

“If they don’t force him to answer legitimate questions, they will be ceding Congress’ authority, and we’ll be setting a very, very dangerous precedent that people can just tell Congress what they will and will not answer, and will show no resolve to use our subpoena power to get to the bottom of what’s going on,” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) told CNN.”

(This House Intel Committee hearing with Steve Bannon concerning the Trump-Russia connection is just a start and Steve is going to have to answer ALL THE QUESTIONS. If he doesn’t, I have a feeling you are going to be reading about him in the book “FIRE AND FURY” written by Michael Wolff. I just finished reading the first chapter and it’s great and I feel that the remaining chapters will just keep getting better and better. i can see why Republican President Donald Trump tried to stop the release of the book but failed.

LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran

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The Nation: How Trump Is Undermining the Fight Against Mass Shootings

The following is an excellent article written by George Zornick on The Nation website on February 14, 2018 titled “How Trump Is Undermining the Fight Against Mass Shootings” and I quote:

“How Trump Is Undermining the Fight Against Mass Shootings”

Look at the budget numbers, not the press-conference rhetoric.

Forget banning assault weapons. Forget preventing people from obtaining “countless magazines,” or banning the manufacture of high-capacity clips, or expanding background checks for both guns and ammunition. Forget all of these commonsense measures that could prevent mass shootings like the one Wednesday in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people. President Donald Trump, who got $30 million worth of help from the National Rifle Association on his way to the White House and is, in so many ways, the NRA’s dream president, will not do any of these things—nor will his Republican allies in Congress.

Typically, Republican policy responses to mass shootings involve anything but new gun laws: There are calls for improved mental-health services and outreach, and we hear that the government should just enforce the laws that are already on the books.

In his address from the White House Thursday morning, Trump called for action on mental health and said, “It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference. We must actually make that difference.” House Speaker Paul Ryan noted that there are already laws that keep people with mental illness from obtaining guns, and that “if there’s someone who’s getting a gun who shouldn’t get a gun, we’ve got to look at those gaps.”

But the policies advanced by these two men will hamstring the government on even these measures. As Trump swings a sledgehammer to the hated “administrative state,” with Ryan’s support and encouragement, he is destroying or attempting to destroy some of the very modest programs the government does undertake to prevent mass shootings and violence in schools—even when it comes to enforcing current laws or improving mental-health services.

Trump would cut billions from Medicaid, and not long before he spoke at the White House Thursday, his secretary of health and human services testified on Capitol Hill that the administration hasn’t bothered to investigate how those cuts will impact people with mental-health or substance-abuse problems.

Trump’s proposed massive federal-spending cuts have led many federal departments and agencies to look at scuttling noncontroversial programs aimed at preventing massacres like the one in Parkland. For example, under Obama’s “Now Is the Time” initiative to slow gun violence, which was part of the administration’s response to the Sandy Hook massacre, HHS began distributing grants under the aegis of something called Project AWARE. In fiscal year 2017, the program awarded almost $65 million to state education authorities “to promote comprehensive, coordinated, and integrated state efforts to make schools safer and increase access to mental health services.” These included grants that would help teachers recognize and understand students’ mental-health problems, and to help school systems connect students who have behavioral health issues with the right services. The program also funded significant initiatives to prevent youth violence.

In its budget justification to Congress for fiscal year 2018, HHS proposed eliminating Project AWARE grants entirely. The request went from $64.7 million to $0.00. The budget document explained elliptically that HHS “is eliminating this program to reduce duplication of efforts.”

Throughout most of the Obama administration, the Department of Justice also had a multifaceted strategy to prevent youth violence. In particular, the Community-Based Violence Prevention program gave grants that focused on “stopping youth gang and gun violence” through partnerships with local law enforcement and community and faith-based groups. The 15 cities that received CBVP grants in 2014 reported reduced gun violence, and nine reported reductions in homicides and juvenile violent crime.

On Thursday morning, Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed the Parkland school shooting and said, “It cannot be denied that something dangerous and unhealthy is happening in our country…. We’ve got to confront the problem.” But his FY2018 budget justification eliminates the CBVP program entirely.

The Centers for Disease Control under Obama repeatedly asked Congress for $10 million to fund gun-violence-prevention research. That money was never provided, and Trump’s CDC budgets have stopped asking.

The National Institutes of Health has for years studied gun violence as a public-health issue—until Trump came into office, when funding for those projects was allowed to lapse. “We probably will issue [a new] funding opportunity announcement, but it will be on violence in general. I don’t think we have to specify gun violence,” an NIH official in charge of the grants said last fall.

Meanwhile, the White House fiscal year 2019 budget proposal, released just days before the Parkland shooting, calls for steep cuts to the federal systems that prevent banned buyers from obtaining firearms. The National Criminal Records History Improvement Program and the NICS Act Record Improvement Program would lose $12 million under Trump’s budget, which is a 16 percent reduction. The programs provide grants to states to fund better reporting of of criminal records into the national background check system.

Not long after he arrived in the White House, Trump signed a bill passed by his Republican Congress that would prevent the Department of Justice from using Social Security records to identify mentally ill people and prevent them from purchasing guns. This directly undermines Ryan’s stated desire to stop someone from getting a gun who shouldn’t have a gun.

We know that Trump and his Republican allies in Congress will not take any proactive measures to stop gun violence. They will issue vague calls for action, but they won’t put their money where their mouth is—their concern appears to end as soon as the press conferences are over.

(WHEN REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP GETS $30 MILLION WORTH OF HELP FROM THE NRA, YOU CAN SEE WHY HE IS SO RELUCTANT TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT THE ASSAULT RIFLES.  VOTERS SHOULD EMAIL HIM AND TELL HIM TO BAN ASSAULT RIFLES THAT HUNTERS DON’T NEED THEM.  ONLY THE LOCAL POLICE AND THE MILITARY NEED ASSAULT RIFLES.  ALL SPORTSMEN NEED ARE SHOTGUNS AND RIFLES TO PROTECT THEIR PROPERTY.

LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayers and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran

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New York Times: The Case Against Netanyahu: Highlights From the Police Investigation

The following is an excellent article written by David M. Halbfinger on the New York Times website on February  13, 2018 titled “The Case Against Netanyahu: Highlights From the Police Investigation” and I quote:

JERUSALEM — The Israeli police recommended Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two parallel graft cases. The attorney general must now decide whether to indict Mr. Netanyahu, a process that could take months. Here are highlights of the conclusions presented by police investigators.

Case 1000: Illicit Gifts

THE ALLEGATIONS Mr. Netanyahu accepted nearly $300,000 in gifts between 2007 and 2016 from two businessmen, the Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and the Australian billionaire James Packer — gifts that grew in “scope and frequency” after Mr. Netanyahu became prime minister in 2009.

‘A RELATIONSHIP OF BRIBERY’ Mr. Netanyahu’s relationship with Mr. Milchan “was not an innocent relationship between friends.” Rather, Mr. Milchan gave him gifts “in return for his action” to help Mr. Milchan in concrete ways, including financially.

Photo

Arnon Milchan’s gifts to Mr. Netanyahu, beginning in 2007, ran to more than $210,000.CreditKevin Winter/Getty Images

A SHARED BURDEN Mr. Milchan’s gifts to Mr. Netanyahu, beginning in 2007, ran to more than $210,000; Mr. Packer’s, dating to 2014, totaled more than $70,000. “The two businessmen decided to share the prime minister’s costs between them,” the police said.

A BIG TAX BREAK Mr. Netanyahu tried to pass legislation that would double, to 20 years, the duration of a tax exemption for Israelis returning to the country from overseas, which would have “vast financial value to Milchan.” This was rejected by the Finance Ministry, then headed by Yair Lapid, now a chief opponent of Mr. Netanyahu’s.

Photo

James Packer’s gifts to Mr. Netanyahu, dating to 2014, totaled more than $70,000. CreditTim Wimborne/Reuters

VISA TROUBLE Mr. Netanyahu lobbied the secretary of state at the time, John Kerry, and the United States ambassador to Israel at the time, Daniel B. Shapiro, to help Mr. Milchan deal with a problem extending his visa, which had “far-reaching financial significance” to the producer.

Continue reading the main story

A TV CHANNEL STAKE Mr. Netanyahu, in his capacity as communications minister, tried to help Mr. Milchan become a shareholder in Israeli television’s Channel 2.

TATA The prime minister tried to aid a project that Mr. Milchan was pursuing with Ratan Tata, the Indian billionaire, identified in Israeli news reports as a free-trade zone proposed near the Israeli-Jordanian border. The Defense Ministry opposed it and the project went nowhere.

THE BOTTOM LINE According to the police, Mr. Netanyahu should be charged with accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust in relation to Mr. Milchan and only the latter two crimes in connection with Mr. Packer, and Mr. Milchan should be charged with giving bribes. No recommendation about Mr. Packer was made.

Case 2000: Back-Room Deals

THE ALLEGATIONS Mr. Netanyahu and Arnon Mozes, publisher of Yediot Aharonot, one of Israel’s leading newspapers, struck a “barter deal” in 2009 to advance their interests. In theory, Mr. Netanyahu would get positive and supportive coverage from Yediot Aharonot. (Whether that happened is unclear.)

Photo

Arnon Mozes, the publisher of Yediot Aharonoth, one of Israel’s leading newspapers, struck a “barter deal” with Mr. Netanyahu in 2009 to advance their interests. CreditReuters

Mr. Mozes would get Mr. Netanyahu’s support in promoting Yediot Aharonot, including help curbing the strength of Israel Hayom, a free newspaper that is owned by Sheldon Adelson, a supporter of Mr. Netanyahu’s, and that had become a powerful competitor to Yediot.

CRUCIAL EVIDENCE Audio recordings of meetings between Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Mozes were made secretly on the cellphone of Ari Harow, Mr. Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, now a government witness.

THE BOTTOM LINE According to the police, Mr. Netanyahu should be charged with requesting a bribe, fraud and breach of trust, and Mr. Mozes should be charged with offering a bribe.”

(ACCORDING TO THE ISRAELI POLICE DEPARTMENT, THEIR PRIME MINISTER,  BENJAMIN NETANYAHU HAS A LOT OF VIOLATIONS THAT HE HAS COMMITTED.  HE SURE BE INVESTIGATED JUST LIKE OUR REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT, RICHARD NIXON WAS.  THAT’S THE ONLY WAY YOU ARE GOING TO KEEP A DEMOCRACY A TRUE DEMOCRACY.

LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran

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Bloomberg: Bitcoin Draws Congress’ Ire as Regulators Bemoan Oversight Gaps

The following is an excellent article written by Benjamin Bain on the Bloomberg website on February 5, 2018 titled “Bitcoin Draws Congress’ Ire as Regulators Bemoan Oversight Gaps” and I quote:

“Bitcoin Draws Congress’ Ire as Regulators Bemoan Oversight Gaps”

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  • SEC and CFTC chiefs say they may need more power over crypto
  • Existing rules aren’t adequate for exchanges: SEC’s Clayton
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Bitcoin Sees a Slight Bounce Back
Bloomberg’s Ed Robinson discusses Bitcoin’s rebound and concerns over the regulation of cryptocurrencies.

The U.S.’s top market cops on Tuesday identified gaping holes in regulators’ ability to police cryptocurrencies, opening the door for Congress to tighten oversight of what’s become a global investment craze.

Lawmakers may need to to pass legislation that gives federal agencies jurisdiction over Bitcoin’s spot market and the online platforms that digital coins trade on, Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton said during a hearing before the Senate Banking Committee.

The regulators said the first step was for federal and state watchdogs to work together to come up with a coordinated plan for monitoring crypto exchanges, which have been beset with trading disruptions and thefts of coins that have rattled investor confidence.

“We may be back with our friends from Treasury to ask for additional legislation,” Clayton said during the hearing.

Ramped up oversight and tough words from regulators have taken a toll on Bitcoin, the biggest digital currency. It has tumbled for five-straight days, and dropped below $7,000 on Tuesday for the first time since November. Giancarlo said the falling price reflects regulatory actions taken in recent weeks.

But there are limitations to the SEC and CFTC’s reach. To the extent that virtual currency exchanges are policed at all in the U.S., they are governed by state rules designed for money transmission services. Authorities have become increasingly concerned in light of recent events such as the admission by a Japanese exchange that it had been robbed of more than $500 million in digital tokens.

Giancarlo and Clayton, Trump administration appointees who took office with mandates to dial back regulation, are trying to balance a desire to promote the kind of innovation that blockchain technology represents against the need to protect investors. At Tuesday’s hearing on virtual currency oversight, they sought to assure lawmakers that they’re doing both.

The SEC has been focused on so-called initial coin offerings, which Clayton has said are often securities offerings that should be registered with his agency. To date, none have completed that process, Clayton said. He added that he believes many ICOs are done illegally. In the offerings, companies sell digital coins that investors are supposed to be able to eventually redeem for goods and services. ICOs raised an estimated $3.7 billion last year.

‘Off the Grid’

The CFTC identified Bitcoin as a commodity in 2015 and has used its anti-fraud authority to bring enforcement cases against platforms offering Bitcoin trading. The agency is also charged with overseeing Bitcoin futures contracts after two exchanges brought them to market last year.

Giancarlo said the CFTC’s authority is largely limited to derivatives markets. He noted that spot market exchanges, where much of the trading occurs, doesn’t fall under any federal regulators’ jurisdiction.

“There was this perception that Bitcoin was off the regulatory grid,” Giancarlo said during Tuesday’s hearing. “One of the things that Chairman Clayton and I have been working so hard to do is disabuse that notion. We are limited in our regulatory authority to set regulatory standards on these underlying platforms. But, when it comes to enforcement, when it comes to ICOs, we’re using core authority to drive the message.”

Giancarlo added that the CFTC is preparing to bring more enforcement actions against fraudsters who have raised money from investors through digital coin scams.”

(We must protect our commercial banks in our small towns because that’s the only way we have to get cash and make loans. Cybercurrency seems like it’s more for the elitist 1% who like to speculate on Wall Street. I hope Congress really thoroughly investigates it like California Democrat Senator Diane Feinstein and Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley are looking into. Though I imagine they will get lobbied by the big investment banks and Wall Street.

LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran

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Bloomberg Businessweek: The Crypto Candidate for Congress

The following is an excellent article written by Joshua Green on the Bloomberg Businessweek website on February 8, 2018 titled “The Crypto Candidate for Congress” which was published in the February 12, 2018 issue on page 36 titled “Bitcoin’s Candidate For Congress” and I quote:

“The Crypto Candidate for Congress”

 Political newbie Brian Forde has dazzled marquee crypto investors, who hope he can be the Washington friend they desperately need.
From

Brian Forde meets voters during a campaign event at his parents’ house.

PHOTOGRAPHER: ANGIE SMITH FOR BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK

Over the past year, Bitcoin’s meteoric rise—and recent plunge—has captivated the financial world. The political world? Not so much. Washington remains stubbornly ignorant of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. But that may soon change. A roster of prominent crypto investors has piled in to support a first-time Democratic congressional candidate, Brian Forde, who’s looking to unseat the incumbent Republican in a pivotal Orange County, Calif., race that could determine which party controls the House of Representatives after November’s midterm elections.

https://buy.tinypass.com/checkout/template/show?displayMode=inline&containerSelector=.transporter-item.current+.softwall%5Bdata-position%3D%271%27%5D&templateId=OTGPDR0PX1QH&offerId=fakeOfferId&trackingId=%7Bjcx%7DH4sIAAAAAAAAAIWQXW-CMBiF_0uvfRNKWyreqfi1GWWMEOddW15cDSIRVNyy_y4jyxKTJbs8ec5zLs4nUTYlA7KYT4NquihOT6RHSrXDxOJ18U1ch_bBcYEyoC4wAUKAIxgkelPekvNo-zxcBqM4BMUyJVEqD3k_NehzVzuopc8dlhmZmXYYmxJPFguD3fRkI7evnI_nq7fogU4aNOfaHouu5ntC9n2FIDMmgSNq0D5PQQrDtcm8NvAHfWh-3er9eI3xUOaqRrFk4_V0JYYRjRhtjfoHdM11PAuDyAk39GXeMqMOpbK7oiKD4pznPXKxla275gX-_kQA6kTvb43r5YH-mO3p_5983QHq78jggQEAAA&experienceId=EX7ZS44CHNYR&activeMeters=%5B%7B%22meterName%22%3A%22Google+Referral+Read+Count%22%2C%22views%22%3A1%2C%22viewsLeft%22%3A3%2C%22maxViews%22%3A4%2C%22totalViews%22%3A1%7D%5D&tbc=%7Bjzx%7Dt_3qvTkEkvt3AGEeiiNNgHdyVc9TtD1dRnsINMia18BJu1pPhU3hi_WBk-py7hrgqcoDc6Pzr8wByw2D6a7armd1g4bNuJwTr_-IP_MOVmpo01QUjG0meVEk43TmdaNSjylU0Z664w9lha1BgkmqDg&iframeId=offer-0-tmGSe&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bloomberg.com%2Fnews%2Farticles%2F2018-02-08%2Fbitcoin-s-candidate-for-congress&parentDualScreenLeft=0&parentDualScreenTop=0&parentWidth=1024&parentHeight=662&parentOuterHeight=728&aid=IHFDsFInrJ&contentSection=content-article&customVariables=%7B%22pageType%22%3A%22content%22%2C%22brand%22%3A%22businessweek%22%2C%22isTerminalBrowser%22%3A%220%22%2C%22homepageExperience%22%3A%22undefined%22%2C%22user_status%22%3A%22anonymous%22%2C%22isOlderThanAYear%22%3Afalse%2C%22excludeFromWall%22%3Afalse%2C%22contentType%22%3A%22article%22%2C%22publishedAt%22%3A%222018-02-08T09%3A01%3A09.362Z%22%2C%22theme%22%3A%22businessweek%22%2C%22reportedUrl%22%3A%22https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bloomberg.com%2Fnews%2Farticles%2F2018-02-08%2Fbitcoin-s-candidate-for-congress%22%7D&pageViewId=2018-02-13-12-35-55-053-VbXpyVuBZKALDBTP-a3fa7e7a6e48dce942b0eb79403fc7fc&visitId=v-2018-02-13-12-35-55-055-ebVbjyx26lDbzGj1-a3fa7e7a6e48dce942b0eb79403fc7fc&userProvider=publisher_user_ref&userToken=&customCookies=%7B%7D&hasLoginRequiredCallback=false&singleContainer=%5Bobject+HTMLDivElement%5D&width=660&_qh=2643152796

Forde’s appeal isn’t hard to discern. Before running for Congress, the 37-year-old coder was director of digital currency at MIT’s Media Lab and a technology adviser in Barack Obama’s White House. Forde says his tech and business background is a good match for California’s 45th District, an historically GOP area currently represented by Republican Mimi Walters, but one whose well-educated, minority-rich populace also chose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by 5 percentage points. “Tech is one of the fastest-growing economic sectors in the district,” Forde says. “In addition to our fair share of unicorns—from Broadcom to Blizzard EntertainmentAmazonGoogle, and others have offices here, too.”

It’s Forde’s expertise in cryptocurrency that’s attracted marquee Bitcoin evangelists such as Pete Briger of Fortress Investment Group; Brad Burnham of Union Square Ventures; the investor Mike Novogratz; and famed Facebook litigants Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who founded the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange. “Brian understands the power of emerging technologies and how to foster and shape them in a way that has a positive impact on people and organizations,” says Tyler Winklevoss. Bitcoin’s recent roller-coaster ride—falling as much as 70 percent after hitting a high of $19,511 on Dec. 17—has only intensified the industry’s desire to have an ally in Congress.

Forde’s Bitcoin bona fides are so strong that many of those donors have contributed actual Bitcoins to his campaign rather than write a check, the old-fashioned way. Federal Election Commission records indicate that although his campaign is barely six months old, Forde has already amassed more Bitcoin contributions than all previous congressional candidates combined.

“He’s walking the walk and speaking our language,” says Stan Miroshnik, chief executive officer of the Element Group, an investment bank focused on digital-token capital markets, who last summer gave Forde 0.656 Bitcoin (then the equivalent of the FEC’s $2,700 limit on primary campaign contributions). “If you’re willing to go through the pain of actually taking cryptocurrency, it’s a great endorsement of the philosophy we’re all pushing.” These contributions flow to a Bitcoin wallet and are converted by Forde’s campaign to U.S. dollars through a Bitcoin exchange. Powered by cryptocash, Forde’s fourth-quarter fundraising total beat the entire field of candidates—including Walters, a sitting congresswoman.

Yet there are reasons beyond a shared enthusiasm for blockchain decentralization that so many Bitcoin investors would like to send Forde to Congress. As cryptocurrency has exploded from a fringe passion into an $800 billion capital market, regulators are taking notice. “By and large, the government has been very quiet on cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin,” says Justin Slaughter, a former top aide at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission who now consults on fintech regulation as a partner at Mercury Strategies LLC. “Partly because it’s so new, partly because a lot of people don’t understand it yet.”

The high-profile collapse of several cryptocurrency exchanges, fears of fraud and price manipulation, the susceptibility of exchanges to hacking, and concerns of an asset bubble have all led to the expectation of more government oversight. In recent days, Bank of AmericaCitigroup, and JPMorgan Chaseannounced they would bar customers from using credit cards to buy cryptocurrencies, and Facebook said it would ban ads promoting them, including Bitcoin. “It would benefit the crypto sector to have one of our own in Congress,” says Fred Wilson, a Forde donor and partner at Union Square Ventures.

 Forde, with his parents in Tustin, Calif.
PHOTOGRAPHER: ANGIE SMITH FOR BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK

Forde is no stranger to emerging tech that falls into a regulatory gray area. In 2005, after serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua, he co-founded Llamadas SA, a low-cost internet phone service provider that used Voice over Internet Protocol, then a new technology. “That tech wasn’t legal or illegal—it was just new,” he says. “So my biggest concern was that the government would end up on the wrong side of history with how it regulated VoIP.”

Forde sees the same risk in how the U.S. government tackles crypto, and he wants to make sure that overly aggressive regulation doesn’t drive the U.S. industry overseas to somewhere like Switzerland with more accommodating rules. “You have to protect consumer rights and consumer safety,” he says. “But we also need to allow for innovation. You want to create ‘regulatory sandboxes’ for these emerging technologies to grow. My concern is that when you apply strict regulations to small startups, they’ll be forced to apply so many resources to compliance that they won’t have the resources to build and innovate.”

Those like Forde and his backers hoping to nurture the nascent U.S. crypto industry see two primary hurdles. One is government ignorance. “I’ve been working on crypto with policymakers for years,” says Jerry Brito, executive director of Coin Center Inc., a nonprofit focused on public policy issues involving cryptocurrency. “The good news is the level of awareness has improved dramatically, and there’s real curiosity. But they still could not explain to you how Bitcoin works.” In December, the crypto community got a scare when Senators Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Grassley—both 84 years old—introduced an anti-money-laundering bill aimed at terrorists and counterfeiters that appeared to criminalize concealed ownership of cryptocurrency. (The bill hasn’t advanced.) “So much of what could go wrong with Washington and this technology would not happen out of malice, but out of ignorance,” Brito says.

The other hurdle is the balkanized U.S. regulatory structure overseeing this technology. “We have a regulatory breakdown,” says Slaughter, the former CFTC aide. “There isn’t consistency between agencies. Most countries have a single market regulator, but ours is split between who regulates futures and who regulates equities.”

Recently, the agencies have appeared to move in opposite directions. In December, the CFTC allowed two futures exchanges, CME Group Inc.and Cboe Global Markets Inc., to begin offering Bitcoin derivatives. At the same time, the Securities and Exchange Commission has cracked down, halting initial coin offerings and disappointing companies eager to launch exchange-traded funds tied to Bitcoin, including one backed by the Winklevoss brothers. In January, Bloomberg News dubbed SEC Chairman Jay Clayton “Washington’s chief cryptocurrency skeptic.”

Bitcoin’s steep selloff over the past two months has added urgency to the push from regulators as the psychology among retail crypto investors shifts from FOMO to “Oh, no!” Says the Element Group’s Miroshnik: “Regulators are all trying to catch up to what’s happening.”

Having an ally in Congress to push for clarity and consistency would help smooth out this regulatory tangle. Forde himself has been caught up in the confusion. The FEC has offered little guidance about how candidates should handle Bitcoin beyond a 2014 advisory opinion that said candidates may accept a total of $100 in Bitcoin currency as contributions. Forde’s campaign has asked the FEC for guidance on how to report contributions as high as the maximum limit of $2,700 and whether they’re acceptable. But it’s unclear whether any guidance will soon be forthcoming. “It’s really a microcosm of where our government is on this stuff,” says Joe Bowen, Forde’s campaign manager, who adds that he believes all Forde’s donations comply with FEC rules.

Those donations could be critical to Forde’s candidacy—and to Democrats’ chances of winning the seat if he finishes among the top two candidates in the June 5 primary. (Under California’s “jungle primary” system, all candidates run in the same primary regardless of political party, with the two top finishers facing off in November.) “We’ve had a lot of success raising cryptocurrency,” Bowen says. “Proportionately, it’s a significant part of our fundraising program, around 20 or 25 percent of what we’ve raised.”

Whichever Democrat prevails—Forde’s main rivals, David Min and Katie Porter, are law professors at the University of California at Irvine—will need a substantial war chest in November. The incumbent, Walters, is one of 23 Republicans nationwide in districts Clinton won and a top target of national Democrats, who will probably need to capture the seat if they’re to pick up the 24 necessary to win back the House.

Should Forde become part of a Democratic wave in November, he says, he’ll usher in more than just a new majority. “We’ve got all these emerging technologies that are going to have a big impact on our economy and our lives,” he says, “yet we don’t have the folks in Congress who understand that.”

Follow @crypto on Twitter for the latest news.

BOTTOM LINE – Some of the top cryptocurrency investors have given money to Forde’s campaign for Congress in hopes he can be an ally in Washington.”
(THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY HAS BEEN CALLED A TOO-LIBERAL PARTY AND IF MR. FORDE WINS ELECTION, I THINK IT WOULD BE EASY FOR REPUBLICANS TO CALL DEMOCRATS IRRESPONSIBLE BECAUSE THERE’S NOTHING MORE IRRESPONSIBLE THAN HAVING A DISHONEST BANKING SYSTEM THAT AFFECTS EVERYONE–RICH, POOR, MIDDLE CLASS.  THE MAIN THING THAT MAKES ANY SYSTEM HONEST IS THE FACT THAT YOU CAN RELY ON THEIR CURRENCY.  THE BITCOINS FLUCTUATING AT THE RADICAL RATE THEY DO SHOWS BITCOINS ARE UNREGULATED AND WORTHLESS.  THE ONLY THING THEY HAVE GOING FOR THEM IS CREATING PUBLIC RELATIONS THAT MAKES THEM LOOK LEGITIMATE, WHICH THEY DEFINITELY ARE NOT.  THE QUESTION IS–WHY HASN’T OUR GOVERNMENT COME DOWN ON THEM, RATHER THAN PROMOTING THEIR CORRUPT PRACTICES?  I HAVE READ A LOT OF ARTICLES PRAISING THE VALUE OF GOLD WHICH HAS BEEN USED FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS.  IF THEY FELT THEY NEEDED ADDITIONAL METAL CURRENCY, THEY TURNED TO SILVER LIKE WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN PROMOTED.  SINCE BITCOINS HAVE NO REGULATIONS, I HEARD CONGRESS IS GOING TO PUT REGULATIONS ON CYBERCURRENCY BEFORE OUR GOVERNMENT OR FINANCIAL SYSTEM GO BANKRUPT.
LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran
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Bloomberg Businessweek: Ten Years After the Crisis, Bank’s Win Big in Washington

The following is an excellent article written by Robert Schmidt and Jesse Hamilton on the Bloomberg Businessweek website on February 9, 2018 titled “Ten Years After the Crisis, Bank’s Win Big in Washington” which was published in their February 12, 2018 issue titled “Banks Win Big in Trump’s Washington” on page 39 and I quote:

“Ten Years After the Crisis, Banks Win Big in Trump’s Washington”

 Industry execs-turned-regulators are undoing Obama-era rules.
ILLUSTRATION: 731

In early February, with the Treasury secretary testifying about wild gyrations in the stock market and the Federal Reserve levelingunprecedented penalties against Wells Fargo & Co., it may have felt like 2008 again, with the financial system under siege. In reality, banks are booming, at least in Washington.

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As the 10th anniversary of the financial crisis approaches, many of the restrictions put in place to rein in Wall Street risk-taking are quietly being unwound. The Senate is considering legislation that would remove dozens of major banks from stepped-up oversight. The bill has broad Republican support and has been endorsed by 11 Democrats. In recent months a handful of the federal agencies that supervise financial companies have taken steps to revise two complex rules—one restricting trading and one requiring extra capital—that banks have long complained cost them millions of dollars in profits.

Other requirements are also being eased, including the stress tests the government uses to measure banks’ abilities to withstand economic shocks. Conducted by the Fed, the tests were widely credited with restoring public confidence in the financial system after the 2008 meltdown.

Banks and their once-embattled Washington advocates are cautiously acknowledging their return to good graces after years of fighting against what they argued was regulatory overreach. “It just feels good,” says Wayne Abernathy, an executive vice president for the American Bankers Association. Things “are looking up for the customers of the banks, looking up for the economy, and for the banks as well,” he says.

Some of those who helped develop the crisis-era safeguards, however, are worried that policymakers and the banking community are forgetting history. “We’re at serious risk of re-creating the conditions that led to the last financial crisis,” says Michael Barr, a former Treasury official who helped craft the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, which ushered in a host of new limits on Wall Street. Now dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, Barr says the 10-year milestone should be “a time to reflect on the need for strong guardrails in the system—not a time for taking those apart.”

Paving the way for the rollback is a slate of Trump-installed appointees now running the regulatory agencies. Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, in January directed agency staff to exercise “humility and prudence” and not assume the companies that the agency investigates are “the bad guys.” Most of the officials watching over banks in the Trump administration have extensive ties to the financial industry. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin worked at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.and later organized a group of investors to buy the lender that became OneWest Bank. Mnuchin brought Joseph Otting, former OneWest chief executive officer, to Washington to run the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, an independent bureau of the Treasury Department that supervises national banks. Jelena McWilliams, whose nomination to run the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is pending in the Senate, is chief legal officer of Fifth Third Bancorp in Cincinnati. By comparison, most of the financial industry regulators named by President Obama were government veterans or academics.

The most important watchdog for the biggest lenders is Randal Quarles, the Federal Reserve’s vice chairman in charge of bank supervision. A banking attorney and ex-Carlyle Group partner, Quarles gave a revelatory speech to industry lawyers at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington on Jan. 19, surprising many by saying that the entire regulatory scheme is now up for reevaluation. He spoke of “tailoring” requirements to a bank’s size and “reducing complexity”—buzzwords lobbyists often equate with easing regulation. “Now is an eminently natural and expected time to step back and assess,” he said.

The Fed is already addressing one big Wall Street complaint by giving banks more time to submit their so-called living wills, the detailed plans that are meant to map out a bank’s best route through bankruptcy. These sprawling documents had been required every year; now it will be every two.

Quarles also committed to revising two of the industry’s most disliked regulations. First up: a rule known as the leverage ratio, which limits how much banks can rely on borrowed money. The idea is to ensure they have enough capital to protect against losses and aren’t overextended like they were in 2008 when credit markets froze. Second on the list is a proprietary trading ban known as the Volcker Rule. Banks contend its requirements are so confusing that it hinders their ability to help clients buy and sell securities.

Critics say it’s no surprise many of the changes are taking place at the regulatory agencies where public input is rare and much of the business is conducted behind closed doors. The chaos that is Trump’s Washington—from the taunting of Kim Jong Un on Twitter to the latest classified revelations in the Russia probe—make it even less likely that changes to stress tests or capital rules will garner attention. “If you are clever, you do the stuff under the radar,” says William Black, a longtime federal financial regulator who’s now an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

FDIC Vice Chairman Thomas Hoenig is also concerned about the developments. A political independent appointed by Obama at the behest of Senate Republicans, Hoenig has long supported bank trading restrictions and bulked-up capital. He points out that banks are getting more profitable, even with all the additional regulations. After 40 years of watching booms and busts, Hoenig says they all follow the same pattern. There is an “arrogance” that the party “will never end,” he says. “And it always does.”

Hoenig himself was quietly vanquished by the White House in January with a bureaucratic sleight of hand. In a little-noticed move the day before the Senate Banking Committee was set to hold a hearing on the nomination of McWilliams, Trump’s pick for FDIC chief, the White House withdrew her nomination. It was then immediately resubmitted but with a small change. McWilliams had originally been nominated to fill an open position on the agency’s five-member board; her new nomination is to fill Hoenig’s seat. Her confirmation would ensure he can’t stick around past the beginning of April—and will serve to silence the voice of Wall Street’s last, most vocal critic among Washington regulators.

BOTTOM LINE – With extensive ties to the financial industry, officials within the Trump administration are dismantling many of the safeguards put in place after the 2008 banking crisis.”
(YOU WOULD THINK THE BIG INVESTMENT BANKERS THAT SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS WAS TALKING ABOUT IN THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY WOULD BE CONSERVATIVES AND NOT WANT TO GET INTO ANOTHER 2008-STYLE BANK BAILOUT WHICH WAS CAUSED BY REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT GEORGE W BUSH BECAUSE OF HIS LACK OF REGULATION.  THE REASON THAT REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP IS TAKING OFF THE REGULATIONS IS BECAUSE PRESIDENT OBAMA, WHEN HE GOT IN OFFICE, DIDN’T JAIL ANYBODY FROM THE FORMER ADMINISTRATION.  SO WHY SHOULD THE REPUBLICAN-CONTROLLED CONGRESS DO BUSINESS AS USUAL SINCE THE BANKS KNOW THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH IT.  AFTER ALL, THE TAXPAYERS WILL AGAIN HAVE TO COME UP WITH THE MONEY BECAUSE BOTH POLITICAL PARTIES SEEM TO THINK WE DON’T NEED REGULATIONS, PARTICULARLY REPUBLICANS.  SO LOOK FOR ANOTHER MUCH BIGGER CRASH IN THE BANKING SYSTEM AND WALL STREET BECAUSE OF THE INTRODUCTION OF THE WORTHLESS BITCOIN MARKET WHICH WILL HAVE TO BE FACTORED IN BECAUSE THE POLITICIANS SAY THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND THE MARKET.  ONE THING FOR SURE, YOU’LL SEE PRESIDENT TRUMP IS JUST FULL OF EXCUSES AND I CAN EASY SEE WHY HE WENT BANKRUPT SIX TIMES.
LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran
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Bloomberg: Bitcoin Finds a Bottom During Equity Market Turmoil

The following is an excellent article written by Camila Russo on the Bloomberg website on February 9, 2018 titled “Bitcoin Finds a Bottom During Equity Market Turmoil” and I quote:

“Bitcoin Finds a Bottom During Equity Market Turmoil”

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Winklevoss Brothers Aren’t Worried About Bitcoin’s Plunge

Winklevoss Brothers Aren’t Worried About Bitcoin’s Plunge

What’s supposed to be the most volatile asset in the universe is proving to be a bastion of stability compared with wild swings and carnage in global equities this week.

Bitcoin clawed its way back from the four-month low of $5,922 it touched on Tuesday, rebounding 53 percent to $9,069. The S&P 500 Index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average both fell more than 5 percent this week, wiping out gains for the year. Emerging markets stocks and currencies also plunged, while shorter maturity U.S. Treasuries climbed as investors fled from risky assets to safe-havens.

Bitcoin’s supporters are quick to extol the cryptocurrency’ virtues as an asset that’s uncorrelated to the broader market — independent from any single country, company or central bank — which can serve as a haven in times of market turmoil. And while that turmoil can usually be found in Bitcoin prices and headlines, this week U.S. equities are beating the largest cryptocurrency on that field.

Since the drop below $6,000, Bitcoin has been on a steady climb, causing volatility measures on the digital asset to stabilize while the sell-off in the S&P 500 triggered the biggest jump on the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index ever.

The “do no harm” approach to cryptocurrencies taken by U.S. regulators at a Senate hearing Tuesday sparked the rebound, while negative headlines from regulatory crackdowns in China and South Korea that have weighed on prices subsided.

The 70 percent slump from Bitcoin’s high of almost $20,000 has prompted finance heavy weights to say the crypto bubble had finally popped. Judging from price action this week at least, maybe those calls were premature.”

(THE PEOPLE THAT ARE SELLING THE BITCOINS ON THE CHICAGO MERCANTILE EXCHANGE MARKET MUST COMPARE WITH LEGITIMATE CURRENCY IF THEY ARE GOING TO SELL THEIR WORTHLESS BITCOINS AND DERIVATIVES WHICH HAVEN’T PROVEN ANY VALUE YET OTHER THAN THE FACT THAT BITCOINS HAVE WILD SWINGS FROM DAY TO DAY.  A LEGITIMATE CURRENCY LIKE GOLD, SILVER, NICKLE OR COPPER AND ANY OF THE OTHER METALS AND COMMODITIES HAVE A PROVEN VALUE OVER THOUSANDS OF YEARS.  NOW, HERE COMES BITCOINS WITH A LOT OF PR AND THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT ARE GOING TO LOSE MONEY BECAUSE THEY GOT LIED TO.   THERE ARE VERY FEW REGULATIONS TO TELL THE CUSTOMER WHAT TO LOOK FOR.  WE DON’T NEED ANOTHER 2008-STYLE BANK BAILOUT.  WE SHOULD KEEP SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN’S CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU WHICH IS PART OF DODD-FRANK WHICH WE SHOULD ALSO KEEP WHICH WAS PASSED UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA AFTER THE $700 BILLION TARP BANK BAILOUT IN 2008 UNDER REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH.

LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran

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