The Dark Web Bust

2000 Bitcoins, Hard Cash & Gold Bars

I think we can lay rest the claim that Bitcoin is used for crimes only, considering cash and gold bars (fiat system) seems to be thriving in the latest Dark Web crimes bust.

The US Department of Justice, together with multiple government agencies such as the Homeland Security, The Secret Service, Postal Inspection Service, and the DEA have busted over 35 dark web drugs and arms dealers across the nation.

To be clear, these are the drugs and arms the government didn’t deal themselves, but notorious crime syndicates on the Dark Web (which is why this is a bust and not a government investigation into their own operations).

The different agencies confiscated military grade weapons, drugs and drugs manufacturing equipment.  On top of this they also seized over $30 million dollars in cash, gold bars and around 2000 Bitcoins (which alone totals to over $12 million)

The Department of Justice said in their press release that it was “a year long coordinated national operation that used the first nationwide undercover action to target vendors of illicit goods on the Darknet”.

Agents from the HSI acted as money launderers on the dark web marketplace such as the Silkroad, AlphaBay, Hansa and others, exchanging cryptocurrencies for cash.

Yes you read that right, the government itself used cryptocurrencies in crimes in order to lure in criminals. With this tactic the different levels of federal agencies were able to root out the network of black market dealers.

“Through this operation, HSI New York was able to identify numerous vendors of illicit goods, leading to the opening of more than 90 active cases around the country. The Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, working with more than 40 U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the country, coordinated the nationwide investigation of over 65 targets, that lead to the arrest and impending prosecution of more than 35 Darknet vendors,” the press release states.

Nearly all the charged individuals used bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies to some degree in their operations. In one case, the federal officials are seeking the forfeiture of an additional 4,000 bitcoin that they suspect to be tied to online drug sales. If seized, the supplementary stash will put the government’s cryptocurrency requisitions to just over $40 million.

“The Darknet is ever-changing and increasingly more intricate, making locating and targeting those selling illicit items on this platform more complicated. But in this case, HSI special agents were able to walk amongst those in the cyber underworld to find those vendors who sell highly addictive drugs for a profit, HSI Acting Executive Associate Director Derek Benner states in the official press release. “The veil has been lifted. HSI has infiltrated the Darknet, and together with its law enforcement partners nationwide, it has proven, once again, that every criminal is within arm’s reach of the law.”

This investigations findings came after Congress’ own efforts to police crimes online trafficking and the use of cryptocurrencies. The findings went public just a day after the House of Representatives passed the “Fight Illicit Networks & Detect (FIND) Trafficking Act of 2018 (H.R.6069). It’s a bipartisan bill : “to study how virtual currencies and online marketplaces are used to facilitate sex or drug trafficking and propose regulatory and legislative actions to put an end to these illicit activities.”

Rep. Juan Vargas who proposed the bill, expressed in a press release that the House’s approval is “an important first step in helping Congress understand the full extent of how virtual currencies are being used to facilitate drug and sex trafficking and will help us propose effective legislative solutions to fight these crimes.” As the bill moves up to Congress’ upper house, he “[hopes] to see the same level of support for this legislation in the Senate.”

In a 2017 National Drug Assessment, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration found that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Dash, ZCash and Monero —(with Dash, Zcash & Monero being relatively anonymous) — have become increasingly popular payment options for dark web trade. Along with fueling the human trafficking market, they are also funding marketplaces that are contributing to America’s growing opioid crisis, the administration claims.

This though implies that fiat and other methods such as wiring funds wasn’t also prominently used in human trafficking, drug trafficking and other crimes on the Dark Web. Cryptocurrencies aren’t new just this year, and have existed since 2009, Bitcoin being the most prominent. But of course the Deep Web existed before 2009, and was active and full of crimes and trafficking prior to Cryptocurrencies birth.

This investigation also implies that governments like the US don’t sell weapons to Dictators and genociders ,which we have seen a track record of throughout history. So the governments readiness to blame cryptocurrencies solely for crimes on the Dark Web is biased set to fit a narrative that ‘only the government can commit illicit crimes’.

The growing American opioid crisis also comes after the US illegal invasion and occupation of Afghanistan (which they remain in to this day).

What do you think? Yes cryptocurrencies are being used to commit crimes, but Fiat and gold bars also have track records of being used to commit crimes, both on the Dark Web and on the government level. Should we not then first deal with Fiat’s crisis with money laundering and crimes deals?

Cheers,
A.Yasir

John McAfee’s Not Dead

He’s Alive & McAfee’ing It

The crypto internet was a buzz these last few days after Cyber Security & crypto-expert John McAfee posted a picture of him at the hospital, after what he says was an attempted poisoning to end his life. He went on to say:

“My enemies managed to spike something that I ingested,”
“However, I am more difficult to kill than anyone can possibly imagine. I am back.”

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He’s been tweeting from the hospital, to let his fans and supporters know he’s alright and in stable condition in typical John McAfee style- strong, ‘no shit’ and in your face.

He bashed on panic sellers and continues to promote Docademic and even sent out a mini witch hunt for this guy.

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In all, John McAfee is in good spirits, back in the comfort of his home, and keeping it real for the cryptocurrency community. It’s left to see if this ‘assassination’ attempt pans out with any evidence given to the general public. But if this was indeed an assassination attempt, the implications are horrendous. It gives weight to McAfee’s position in cryptocurrency and his declaration for 2020 presidential candidate.

For now, I’m wishing Mr. McAfee a full recovery.

Cheers,
A.Yasir

Tech Employee’s Aren’t Down With ICE

Tech Avengers, Avenging!

It’s been a wild ride these past several months with Trump in power as the US President. We have seen everything from admitted sexual assault, to lying, to downright insults & crimes against humanity. And in his latest project, the kidnapping of illegal children and separating them from their families as they flee into the US border by ICE- US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

This sets a dangerous precedent. Of course like good humans, most of humanity is outraged.
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But the division is pretty big in the United States, and the issues Trump has created has affected everything from US citizens to its allies. And it’s becoming a very large problem.

But what role does Tech play in this? Lets start first with Wikileaks.

Wikileaks as the world knows, is the best and most accurate source of undisclosed information, with disclosure and documents pouring in, revealing the very harsh reality of how governments actually work. From these documents was revealed, that 7 nations had invasion plans, that the US government formulated decades before 9/11. These countries include, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and of course Iran was the last. This seems to be playing out under the guise of liberation and false ‘jasmine springs’ being instigated in said nations.

From Wikileaks we also learned damning NSA secrets, that the US government is spying on you in every aspect of your life. This was for decades thought to be a conspiracy theory.  Turned out, the government is spying on you, on an epic scale.

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Facebook, Google to Apple and Amazon, all these companies have a legal obligation to give backdoor access to the United States government. It’s actually legal and you don’t have a say in it, and yet the gong show that was Cambridge Analytica was put on to show that the government cared. Anyone in IT knew what was really happening: a large scale propaganda campaign using Facebook as a scapegoat to ‘ensure that the majority population didn’t catch on to the fact that Facebook’s legally obligated to give that same information to the government’.

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But most recently, Wikileaks released in full, all ICE employees’ information including their LinkedIn profile for full view of the internet- and thousands of activists and anonymous hackers.  https://ice.wikileaks.org/

This is actually very big and concerning. Many of these employee’s are just like any other employee working for any other company, and they have to feed their families too. They might disagree with ICE but they also have to eat. Was this a good move for Wikileaks?

Yes, despite it being wrong, it’s pressure. It’s pressure on the Employees of ICE to voice their outrage to stop this program of kidnapping these kids- who by the way, only the boys have been seen so far, no one knows where the little girls and babies are. Which is concerning because of “Pizzagate”.

So what role does Tech play now in ICE, if any? Well Microsoft has a $39 million contract (one of many) as does Dell and even Amazon with their face recognition tools. A big government agency like ICE will of course have contracts with large scale Tech companies. But now the outrage is so intense, that employees of these Tech companies are demanding their employer cancel their contracts with ICE. This is huge.

Because if Tech companies all pull out, and the Internet shames anyone who does do business with ICE,  global citizens can actually kill ICE’s kidnapping program.

Whether you agree with Trumps justification, and the republican party’s position, there is no agreeing with kidnapping. Under no circumstances is it justified. Just like rape, apartheid, or the holocaust, these things are not justifiable under any circumstance. So why are they working so hard to justify this? Because it’s wrong, and they know it.

Each and every Tech giant that has contracts with ICE, should end their contracts. Large public figures such as Bill Gates, Elon Musk, to the Pope should lash out at Trump’s policies. The regular person should scream their outrage. Because this is not just a cage with kids, this is the first step in dehumanizing them. The next step, is slaughter.

So if you have a soul, and moral sense, then please do voice your outrage too. This isn’t about politics, this is about right and wrong. And this, is very wrong and it needs to be ended.

If I can use the Avengers here for a moment without any copyright infringement: If Thanos is Trump, well we’re all the Avengers (+ Deadpool)  together. Right now, humanity really needs some good heroes like the Tech employee’s, to make a stand.

What do you think? Are you in support of Trump’s kidnapping and separation of families policies? Or against it?

Cheers,
A.Yasir

BITCOIN’S VALUE WAS FRAUD?

 The Coordinated Manipulation
According to research done by Professor John Griffin of Texas Finance, last years epic rise for Bitcoin was actually done by coordinated market manipulation.

Professor Griffin goes on to explain that he examined millions of transactions on cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex, and says that “the US dollar pegged cryptocurrency Tether was used to buy Bitcoin at the times that the latter was falling- which helped ‘stabilize and manipulate’ the price”

First I’ll explain what Griffin’s said, and then I’ll explain why he’s wrong about Bitcoin but right about Tether. And it boils down to his understanding of how Exchanges work and how Bitcoin works.

Griffin said “Fraud and manipulation often leave footprints in the data and it’s nice to have the blockchain to track things,” Griffin told CNBC. Whenever bitcoin fell, Tether was used to buy it to prop up the price again.

“It was creating price support for bitcoin and, over the period that we examined, had huge price effects. Our research would indicate that there are sophisticated people harnessing investor interest for their benefit.”

Bitcoin started 2017 at below $1,000 and by Dec 2017 hit 20,000. But as if February to June 2018 it’s been jumping back and fourth from it’s lowest at $6k to the highest $10k (which didn’t even last)  Tether is the 11th largest cryptocurrency and is pegged to the US dollar. Some critics say Tether owners don’t have enough fiat currency to back its $2.5 billion market capitalization.

Bitfinex CEO J.L. van der Velde told CNBC that neither the exchange nor tether helped to boost bitcoin prices. “Bitfinex nor tether is, or has ever, engaged in any sort of market or price manipulation. Tether issuances cannot be used to prop up the price of bitcoin or any other coin/token on Bitfinex,”

Now here’s what I think:

I’ve personally used Tether but I do worry about it. A lot of people have accused Tether of fraud, and Tether certainly hasn’t proven the naysayers.  Do they have the 2.5 billion USD and how are they raising funds?  Essentially as far as I can see, Tether is a non-backed, way of essentially printing virtual USD.  I think Griffin is way off on this one.  USDT (Tether) is a convenient trading pair that can be used with some of the top cryptocurrencies to trade and exchange directly for other coins.

The issue is that a lot of people don’t realize most tokens and currencies are not directly convertible or tradeable for others on exchanges.  Generally you’ll have to sell your ABC alt-coin or tokens for Bitcoin, or USDT and then use the major currency you sold or exchanged to buy say another coin such as Ripple, Litecoin, Lisk etc..  So this is where USDT comes in, if Griffin thinks it propped up Bitcoin I think he is misunderstanding how the exchanges work.  Yes a lot of people are using USDT to buy other currencies but is USDT a market factor?  No, I don’t think so, it’s just simply convenient and I agree with Bitfinex that it doesn’t appear they are using it to prop up Bitcoin.

However, USDT could not be used in such a way if it wasn’t given prominence and primary trading pairs like Bitfinex and other major exchanges have used.  Could some of the exchanges be in cahoots with currencies like USDT and others?  Absolutely, and this is the more likely scenario of market manipulation in the sense that they essentially largely control which currencies fail and flourish.

Any coin that is used as a primary trading pair or in other words directly convertible has more value and will intrinsically be used more as a vehicle to buy coins like Bitcoin.

I think Griffin just raises the simple question about USDT being a fraud and this is the biggest concern but I highly doubt USDT’s existence or trading patterns are responsible for Bitcoin fluctuations directly.  He may derive this from trading patterns but I really just think USDT is a convenient and easy to understand intermediary trading pair vs how you wrap your mind around how many BTC another coin like Ripple, Ethereum or Litcoin is worth etc…

What do you think?

Cheers!
-A. Yasir

Youtube’s Communist Censorship Plan

Youtube has announced it will be the new thought police.  They’ll be doing this by discouraging and contradicting any thoughts, beliefs or theories that are not within mainstream beliefs or teachings.  At this rate they’ll have met the gold standard for censorship and subversion and China will be viewed as an easier place to share your thoughts.  On its face it may not sound that bad to link to Wikipedia articles but in fact anyone can write and manipulate Wikipedia.  Google will be choosing what counterpoints to make by of course selecting which article(s) get linked to.  This is quite alarming and also frustrating since hate, racism and other harmful activity has been rampant on the web ever since it began but no company or government have made any concrete steps to counter it.  So why worry about people posting their alternative beliefs and thoughts online and exposing the lies of the news?  By the gauge of most the mainstream news is the fake news yet media giants like Facebook want to declare thoughts outside of that realm as “Fake News”.  By this method then the PRISM system of spying on and intercepting people’s private information is a “bad conspiracy theory” that people have to be warned away from (of course most now understand this was never a conspiracy since Edward Snowden revealed more details about what most already knew).  There are some valid reasons for this to be done (from the perspective of nice government men and corporate greed).  There is a lot of information being shared on Youtube about pharmaceutical companies and really whole swaths of very solid information about a lot of things going on in our world.  The majority of it is well sourced and quoted and most people won’t view that content as conspiracy.  Could it be that anything that doesn’t fit the viewpoint or ends of certain elite companies and people are what is really being targeted?  Until racism and hate has been cleaned up from these platforms I am just not buying there is any good or genuine reason for Google to do this.    I think we’re heading down a slippery slope to the point where freedom of thought and expression will be completely eliminated gradually through these policies.  Eventually Google will probably start deranking websites which fit into this category of “non-conformity” to the mainstream and elitists.

What do you guys think?  I think it’s time to support Tron (TRX) and any other decentralized social media platforms.  It’s time to take the internet back!

Teaching Code To Kids

I believe teaching coding to kids in any form is a benefit for them regardless of their career path.  It really exercises the brain and mind into solving problems in your mind and requires a lot of creativity.  If they can learn coding at a young age it is likely they will continue to learn well in other areas for the rest of their life.

I don’t know if there is a magic number of when to start but if a child is able to use a computer to play games, they are probably capable of being introduced.  I think it’s important to make it as a fun as possible and without too much pressure, which is obviously difficult at a younger age but part of getting them there is not just the coding, but if they start more advanced academics at a young age they are more likely to have the discipline to think things through.

A quick Google search makes it look like there is growing interest for kids and there are now platforms and services intended to help.

Another great thing about kids learning to code is that for children in impoverished areas of the world, who may have access to a computer can be on a level playing field.  In IT you work from almost anywhere in the world and your talent can be recognized.