Macro Links Oct 3rd – Las Vegas Massacre
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MACRO LINKS TABLE OF CONTENTS (Click or Scroll Down)
- LAS VEGAS MASSACRE
- STEPHEN PADDOCK
- SHOOTING AFTERMATH
- RUSSIA PROBE
- RUSSIAN OPERATIVES ON SOCIAL MEDIA
- NORTH KOREA
- CATALAN AFTERMATH
- PUERTO RICO
- MACRO OP-EDS, INSIGHT, EVENTS AND TRENDS
- CENTRAL BANKS & MONETARY POLICY
- USA ECONOMY DATA, CITIES AND STATES
- POSITIONING, INFLECTION, MARKET CALLS
- FOREX, CRYPTOCURRENCY, EXCHANGE IMPACTS
- ENERGY COMPANIES, NOCs, INDUSTRY
- SILICON VALLEY, UNICORNS, STARTUPS, VC
- RETAIL APPAREL, SPECIALTY, DINING, BIG BOX
- AUTOS, ELECTRIC, SELF-DRIVING
- SCIENCE, NATURE, PSYCHOLOGY
LAS VEGAS MASSACRE
Police investigating the worst mass-shooting in modern U.S. history struggled to find the reasons a retiree and avid gambler opened fire on concertgoers from a 32nd-floor hotel suite here on Sunday night, killing at least 59 people and injuring 527.
The suspected gunman, identified by police as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, killed himself as SWAT units approached his Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino room, where he smashed two windows and fired relentlessly down on the crowd of roughly 22,000 at an open-air festival.
By Monday evening, there was still no clear or publicly revealed motive after police searched his home and blocked off his quiet, upscale retirement neighborhood 80 miles outside Las Vegas.
Perched in his suite at a high-rise hotel overlooking the Vegas Strip, a 64-year-old retiree with no real criminal history and no known affiliations with terror groups rained bullets down into a crowd at a country music festival Sunday, killing at least 59 people and injuring hundreds more in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
The attack, at least initially, was as inexplicable as it was horrifying. Law enforcement officials said they could not immediately tell what drove Stephen Paddock to fire at thousands of unsuspecting concertgoers from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino before killing himself.
What may have seemed like a difficult feat, firing across an urban area and into a crowd from about 500 yards away — the equivalent of several football fields — appears to have been offset by Mr. Paddock’s preparations, which made it possible for him to inflict mass carnage.
Among his weapons, a law enforcement official said, were AR-15-style rifles, a civilian variant of a standard service rifle used by the American military for more than a half-century.
The possibility that Mr. Paddock used tripods, which two law enforcement officials said were in the room, indicates that he understood how to overcome some of the difficulties of his plan. Special mounts designed to fit the underside of a rifle and sit atop camera tripods allow the gunman to fire more accurately while standing. Military snipers use tripods in urban spaces, often setting themselves back from a window so neither they nor their weapons can be seen from the streets below.
These preparations, along with the downward angle of Mr. Paddock’s gunfire and the density of concertgoers, would make the shooting more lethal than it might otherwise have been, and more difficult to counter or escape.
At first, it sounded like fireworks — a loud, crackling noise. Then the awful realization began to spread, unevenly, through the huge crowd. It dawned on people when they heard screams, when they saw bloodied victims collapse around them, or when others stampeded for the exits, trampling some of the people in their way.
Many of the terrified concertgoers followed their instincts and crouched or lay flat, not realizing that they remained exposed to a gunman lodged high above them. Others surged into surrounding streets and buildings, leaving behind debris lost in the panic — drink cups, shoes, and cellphones that kept ringing for hours, as relatives and friends tried to reach their loved ones and find out if they were safe.
The gunman who authorities said killed at least 59 people at a Las Vegas music festival appears to have used at least one fully automatic rifle and had more than a dozen other firearms in his hotel room, law-enforcement officials said.
Investigators found 23 firearms, some fully automatic, in a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, two law-enforcement officials said. The weapons included AR-15-style and AK-47-style rifles as well as a large cache of ammunition, they said.
The gunman alternated between two windows in the hotel room, firing upon thousands of concertgoers below, one official said. The staccato of automatic gunfire could be heard in videos of the shooting that were posted online.
With a cache of 23 firearms, most of them powerful, Paddock, 64, smashed the windows of his 32nd-floor hotel room and then, from high above the Las Vegas Strip, sprayed bullets down on 20,000 people listening to country music star Jason Aldean.
Investigators believe at least one of the guns functioned as if it were fully automatic and are now working to determine whether he modified it or others to be capable of spitting out a high volume of fire just by holding down the trigger, people familiar with the case said.
He grew up the son of a convicted bank robber who was constantly running from the law. But in his own life, Stephen Paddock, 64, had stayed out of trouble until Sunday night, when he suddenly unleashed a firestorm of bullets from his casino hotel room, killing at least 59 people and injuring more than 500 more on the Las Vegas Strip.
“If you told me an asteroid fell into Earth, it would mean the same to me. There’s absolutely no sense, no reason he did this,” his brother Eric Paddock said in an interview outside his home in Orlando. “He’s just a guy who played video poker and took cruises and ate burritos at Taco Bell. There’s no political affiliation that we know of. There’s no religious affiliation that we know of.”
Stephen Paddock, accused of killing at least 59 people by shooting them from a high-rise hotel, lived in several retirement communities where he kept to himself. His niece says she has no idea what could have motivated him.
Sheriff Lombardo said that Mr. Paddock fired through his hotel room door at security guards, striking one in the leg. The guard is still alive, he said. SWAT officers went in after the guard was shot.
In addition to the weapons at the hotel, the sheriff said the police retrieved 19 firearms, as well as explosives, several thousand rounds of ammunition and “electronic devices” from Mr. Paddock’s home in Mesquite, Nev.
After searching the suspect’s house in Mesquite, police had retrieved in excess of 18 additional firearms, explosives and several thousands rounds of ammunition, the Sheriff told a media briefing on Monday afternoon.
Police are also examining various electronic devices as they continue to comb the event venue and the Mandalay Bay Hotel room. Mr Lombardo said that in the hotel room they found 16 guns, including assault rifles and a handgun, which they believed had been brought to the room in suitcases in at least ten trips from his car.
Shares of gun makers rallied Monday, in the wake of what has been described as the deadliest mass shooting on U.S. soil. Smith & Wesson parent American Outdoor Brands Corp.’s stock jumped 3.0% in afternoon trade. Volume topped 3.7 million shares, compared with the full-day average over the past 30 days of 2.1 million shares. Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc. shares climbed 2.7% and Vista Outdoor Inc. shares ran up 1.8% toward a 6-week high.
Historically, gun stocks have experienced a bump after a mass shooting for reasons both political and emotional. Gun sales typically rise over concerns that a deadly event could lead to more stringent gun-control legislation. An additional driver of sales, and by extension shares, is the rush by some consumers to purchase guns to defend against future attacks.
Las Vegas casino hotels maintain vast security networks meant to root out robbery, cheating and other crimes. They are not designed for the scenario that occurred Sunday night when a shooter, with stockpiled weapons in a 32nd-floor hotel room, opened fire on a large crowd below, security experts said.
Virtually anyone can enter a casino without being stopped or having to pass through a metal detector or bag check. Casinos have long been reluctant to increase the visible show of security, beyond security guards in suits around the casino floor, for fear that it might scare away tourists who flock to Las Vegas to have a good time. Increased physical security could fundamentally alter the free flow of foot traffic in and out of the properties through multiple entrances and exits.
Local hospitals called in extra staff as well as medical personnel from a nearby Air Force base to cope with the onslaught, as authorities on Monday reported at least 59 deaths and more than 527 wounded from the tragedy outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
Leading the trauma response is University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, which had 50 doctors treating more than 100 patients with injuries including gunshot wounds and trauma suffered when victims were hit by cars while fleeing the scene.
Over the past few years, extremists, conspiracy theorists and government-backed propagandists have made a habit of swarming major news events, using search-optimized “keyword bombs” and algorithm-friendly headlines. These organizations are skilled at reverse-engineering the ways that tech platforms parse information, and they benefit from a vast real-time amplification network that includes 4Chan and Reddit as well as Facebook, Twitter and Google. Even when these campaigns are thwarted, they often last hours or days — long enough to spread misleading information to millions of people.
The latest fake news flare-up came at an inconvenient time for companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter, which are already defending themselves from accusations that they have let malicious actors run rampant on their platforms.
Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. displayed false information in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, raising further concerns over people’s ability to manipulate the heavily trafficked platforms for social media and news.
The deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas renewed debate on Capitol Hill Monday over a controversial bill in the House that would make it easier to buy gun silencers.
Sunday night’s massacre, in which at least 58 people were killed and more than 515 wounded after a gunman opened fire on a music festival, intensified opposition to legislation headed to the House floor that critics say could compound the danger posed by shooters.
Associates of President Trump and his company have turned over documents to federal investigators that reveal two previously unreported contacts from Russia during the 2016 campaign, according to people familiar with the matter.
In one case, Trump’s personal attorney and a business associate exchanged emails weeks before the Republican National Convention about the lawyer possibly traveling to an economic conference in Russia that would be attended by top Russian financial and government leaders, including President Vladimir Putin, according to people familiar with the correspondence.
In the other case, the same Trump attorney, Michael Cohen, received a proposal in late 2015 for a Moscow residential project from a company founded by a billionaire who once served in the upper house of the Russian parliament, these people said. The previously unreported inquiry marks the second proposal for a Trump-branded Moscow project that was delivered to the company during the presidential campaign and has since come to light.
Manafort wrote to his longtime employee, Russian-Ukrainian operative Konstantin Kilimnik, on April 11, 2016 asking if he had shown “our friends” the media coverage he had gotten since being hired as a senior campaign strategist.
“I assume you have shown our friends my media coverage, right?” Manafort reportedly wrote. “Absolutely,” replied Kilimnik, who has come under FBI scrutiny over his purported ties to Russian intelligence. “Every article.”
“How do we use to get whole,” Manafort responded. “Has OVD operation seen?” Investigators have concluded — and Manafort’s spokesman has not disputed — that “OVD” was a reference to the billionaire’s full name: Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska.
In 2007, Manafort and his partners established a private equity fund that would acquire Ukrainian firms and merge them into larger national entities. Manafort and his partners collected over $7 million in fees for managing this fund from firms controlled by Deripaska, according to a 2014 petition filed in the Cayman Islands, filed by Deripaska’s lawyers.
In 2008, Deripaska transferred $18.9 million to the fund so that it could purchase Black Sea Cable, a Ukrainian telecommunication company, according to the petition. It’s not clear what became of Deripaska’s investment, or if the private-equity fund actually took control of the company. In the Cayman Islands petition, his lawyers alleged the venture had been botched, and requested the “winding down of the partnership.” The petition alleges that when Deripaska asked for an accounting of the investment in 2013, Manafort simply didn’t respond. “It appears that Paul Manafort and [his deputy] Rick Gates have simply disappeared,” the Russian oligarch’s lawyers wrote.
The meeting, which hasn’t been previously reported in the American press, is one strand in a web of connections between the Russian government and Team Trump: Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn both denied speaking with the Russian ambassador, which turned out to be untrue; former campaign manager Paul Manafort supported pro-Russian interests in Ukraine; Secretary of State Rex Tillerson won an “Order of Friendship” from Putin; and then, of course, there’s the hacking campaign that U.S. intelligence agencies say Russian launched to tilt the election in Trump’s favor.
Meeting with Rogozin, a target of U.S. sanctions, is not itself illegal—as long as the two sides did no business together—explained Boris Zilberman, an expert on Russian sanctions at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. But, he noted, it is “frowned upon and raises questions… those targeted for sanctions have been engaged in conduct which is in direct opposition to U.S. national security interests.”
White House officials have begun examining emails associated with a third and previously unreported email account on Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s private domain, according to three people familiar with the matter.
Hundreds of emails have been sent since January from White House addresses to accounts on the Kushner family domain, these people said. Many of those emails went not to Kushner’s or Ivanka Trump’s personal addresses but to an account they both had access to and shared with their personal household staff for family scheduling.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise allowed a Russian defense agency to review the inner workings of cyber defense software used by the Pentagon to guard its computer networks, according to Russian regulatory records and interviews with people with direct knowledge of the issue.
Six former U.S. intelligence officials, as well as former ArcSight employees and independent security experts, said the source code review could help Moscow discover weaknesses in the software, potentially helping attackers to blind the U.S. military to a cyber attack.
“It’s a huge security vulnerability,“ said Greg Martin, a former security architect for ArcSight. ”You are definitely giving inner access and potential exploits to an adversary.”
A recent major exercise by the Russian military revealed significant strides in its ability to conduct the sort of complex, large-scale operations, using drones and other new technology, that would be part of any all-out war with the United States in Europe, according to American and allied officials.
Preliminary Pentagon and NATO assessments of the exercise, one of the largest of its kind since the end of the Cold War, are classified and will take months to complete. But Western officials said the military maneuvers, known as Zapad, Russian for “west,” far exceeded in scope and scale what Moscow had said it would conduct, and tracked more closely to what American intelligence officials suspected would unfold, based on Russian troop buildups in August.
The Russian opposition politician Aleksei A. Navalny was convicted and sentenced to 20 days in jail by a Russian court on Monday for repeated violation of rules governing public demonstrations — a term long enough for him to miss a major rally he and supporters had scheduled for Saturday.
RUSSIAN OPERATIVES ON SOCIAL MEDIA
One of the Russian-bought advertisements that Facebook shared with congressional investigators on Monday featured photographs of an armed black woman “dry firing” a rifle — pulling the trigger of the weapon without a bullet in the chamber, according to people familiar with the investigation.
Investigators believe the advertisement may have been designed to encourage African American militancy and, at the same time, to stoke fears within white communities, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the probe. But the precise purpose of the ad remains unclear to investigators, the people said.
Russian operatives set up an array of misleading Web sites and social media pages to identify American voters susceptible to propaganda, then used a powerful Facebook tool to repeatedly send them messages designed to influence their political behavior, say people familiar with the investigation into foreign meddling in the U.S. election.
The tactic resembles what American businesses and political campaigns have been doing in recent years to deliver messages to potentially interested people online. The Russians exploited this system by creating English-language sites and Facebook pages that closely mimicked those created by U.S. political activists.
As Congress and others scrutinize Russia’s alleged use of social media to influence the U.S. presidential election, one focal point is the prevalence on Twitter of bots, or automated accounts, that can be used to disseminate manipulative information.
Twitter doesn’t require its users to provide identifying information, such as a name, mobile number or birthday, when setting up accounts. And Twitter makes it easy for third-party software to interact with its platform, enabling bots. Researchers say malicious actors exploit that anonymity to create legions of bots and flood the platform with an identical hashtag, or retweet of a post, which can artificially boost the popularity of a topic.
Facebook Inc. outlined plans to strengthen its advertisement systems and disclosed that about 10 million people saw ads linked to Russian efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The social media giant said Monday it will add more than 1,000 people to review the ads that run on its platforms. Additionally, the company said it provided information on about 3,000 relevant ads to U.S. congressional investigators.
“We’re obviously deeply disturbed by this,” Joel Kaplan, Facebook vice president for United States public policy, said in an interview. “The ads and accounts we found appeared to amplify divisive political issues across the political spectrum,” including gun rights, gay rights issues and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The White House on Monday ruled out talks with North Korea except to discuss the fate of Americans held there, again appearing to rebuke Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who said Washington was directly communicating with Pyongyang on its nuclear and missile programs.
“We’ve been clear that now is not the time to talk,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters, reiterating a tweet from President Donald Trump at the weekend that was seen as undercutting Tillerson.
As the U.S. cracks down on North Korea, Russia is giving the rogue state a cyber lifeline. Russian state-owned company TransTeleCom has provided a new internet connection to Kim Jong Un’s regime, according to North Korea monitoring project 38 North. Cybersecurity experts have also confirmed the new Russian link. The move strengthens North Korea’s cybersecurity capabilities at a time of heightened tensions with the U.S. — and also reduces its reliance on China.
Catalonia’s leader said Monday that any declaration of separation from Spain won’t come for at least several days, putting pressure on the government in Madrid to make the next move in the standoff between the country and the restive region.
The two sides were carefully weighing their next steps the day after Catalan voters appeared to overwhelmingly back independence in a referendum boycotted by opponents and marred by violence, leaving hundreds of civilians injured and raising the political stakes.
The economic strength of Catalonia—one of Spain’s richest regions—is a central concern of secessionists, who argued the region would be even more prosperous as an independent republic.
But though an independent Catalonia would retain economic might, it would have to grapple with some daunting issues, economists and policy analysts say. European officials say secession would likely leave Catalonia outside the European Union’s single market, and its banks outside the eurozone. The new nation could inherit a large chunk of Spain’s sizable public debt. And it may face problems at first securing tax revenues, the vast bulk of which are now collected by Spanish rather than regional authorities.
After Catalonia’s bitterly contested referendum on Sunday, where those wanting to cast ballots clashed with Spanish police determined to shut down what Madrid called an illegal vote, the rawness of Mr Santaulària’s conviction attests to the difficult task facing Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont.
Mr Puigdemont must accommodate the wishes of various stripes of Catalan separatists — those wanting a rush for the exit from Spain and those urging a more cautious approach. And he faces no shortage of opposition from the majority of Catalans who, at least before Sunday’s violence, told pollsters they did not want to leave Spain at all.
Puerto Rico will need “tens of billions” of dollars in aid from Washington as it struggles to stabilise a humanitarian crisis in the wake of Hurricane Maria, according to the island’s treasury secretary.
Mr Maldonado-Gautier said the devastation has interrupted the government’s ability to collect taxes, deepening questions about its financial future. Staggering under $74bn in bond debts, the island filed to start a bankruptcy-like process this year in a bid to cut its liabilities, including those owed to international asset managers and hedge funds.
One of the most expensive years for natural disasters on record is likely to cause widespread losses for insurance firms in upcoming quarterly earnings and shrink their capital cushions.
The confluence of three major Atlantic hurricanes—Harvey, Irma and Maria—and two Mexican earthquakes in recent weeks could cost the global insurance industry more than $100 billion, according to estimates. Of that natural-disaster damage bill, a large amount is expected to be borne by reinsurance companies, which provide insurance to insurers.
But in the long term, the string of natural disasters could help insurers on one front if the damage costs run that high. After years of falling prices, executives say reinsurers and commercial insurers could charge customers more next time their property policies come up for renewal.
“It appears that the breach occurred because of both human error and technology failures,” former CEO Richard Smith said in written testimony released on Monday by the Energy and Commerce Committee. Separately, Equifax said late Monday that an outside review determined about 2.5 million additional U.S. consumers were potentially impacted, for a revised total of 145.5 million.
A widespread breakdown in security safeguards at Equifax aided hackers as they broke into the company’s systems and gained access to personal information of millions of Americans, according to prepared testimony former CEO Richard Smith plans to deliver Tuesday.
MACRO OP-EDS, INSIGHT, EVENTS AND TRENDS
Facebook has grown so big, and become so totalizing, that we can’t really grasp it all at once. Like a four-dimensional object, we catch slices of it when it passes through the three-dimensional world we recognize. In one context, it looks and acts like a television broadcaster, but in this other context, an NGO. In a recent essay for the London Review of Books, John Lanchester argued that for all its rhetoric about connecting the world, the company is ultimately built to extract data from users to sell to advertisers. This may be true, but Facebook’s business model tells us only so much about how the network shapes the world. Over the past year I’ve heard Facebook compared to a dozen entities and felt like I’ve caught glimpses of it acting like a dozen more. I’ve heard government metaphors (a state, the E.U., the Catholic Church, Star Trek’s United Federation of Planets) and business ones (a railroad company, a mall); physical metaphors (a town square, an interstate highway, an electrical grid) and economic ones (a Special Economic Zone, Gosplan). For every direct comparison, there was an equally elaborate one: a faceless Elder God. A conquering alien fleet. There are real consequences to our inability to understand what Facebook is. Not even President-Pope-Viceroy Zuckerberg himself seemed prepared for the role Facebook has played in global politics this past year. In which case, how can we be assured that Facebook is really safeguarding democracy for us and that it’s not us who need to be safeguarding democracy against Facebook?
What if the combined and continuing effects of technology and a globalized market of goods and labor are so altering commerce and prices that the 20th century script is as outmoded as an IBM Selectric typewriter?
The cost of most of life’s necessities, from food to clothing to shelter, has stabilized or dropped over the past two decades care of the deflationary effects of technology. It isn’t just that you can get a large flat-screen TV for next to nada. You can get a car that uses less fuel and is far safer for less money (inflation adjusted) than a gas guzzler of yesteryear. Thank, in part, composite materials, which also require less energy to produce than 20th century steel. You can get a smorgasbord of caloric abundance for a fraction of the cost of a much less varied diet in 1950; you can access new medicines to extend lives by years; and you can access for free on the Internet incalculable reams of data, costing you nothing but your time.
CENTRAL BANKS & MONETARY POLICY
Kevin Warsh, the favorite to be the next chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, apparently believes the central bank has become a servant to the stock market after years of loose monetary policy.
Warsh, a former Fed governor, met with both President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday. He is viewed as more hawkish than Janet Yellen, whose current tenure ends in February. Warsh’s possible appointment has caused both U.S. bond yields and the dollar to move higher. Warsh was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.
The Federal Reserve’s own actions, not transitory factors, are responsible for weak inflation, a Fed policymaker argued on Monday, and the U.S. central bank should wait to raise rates again until inflation hits its 2-percent goal.
China’s central bank announced it will free up funds for banks that boost lending to small businesses, in a targeted measure to balance support for the economy without aggravating already high corporate debt.
USA ECONOMY DATA, CITIES AND STATES
As New Jersey searches for new ways to contain its worsening opioid epidemic, prosecutors are increasingly turning to an old law that seeks to hold drug dealers accountable for fatal overdoses.
“I think anybody who understands the nature and scope of this epidemic is led to the same conclusion,” said New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino. “Which is, you’re better off spending your time prosecuting the dealers than you are prosecuting a small time user.”
POSITIONING, INFLECTION, MARKET CALLS
Japan’s economy, the world’s third-largest, grew at its fastest pace in two years in the second quarter and is on its longest expansion streak in more than a decade, spurred by its central bank’s ultraloose monetary policy and a nascent recovery around the globe. Business and consumer spending has rebounded, a weaker currency has made Japanese exports more competitive abroad, and stimulus from the Bank of Japan continues to support markets.
Wall Street analysts showed “extreme bullishness” on stocks at the end of September, based on a monthly survey conducted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. As such, the firm’s proprietary “Sell Side Indicator” — which monitors investor exuberance — is now nearly two standard deviations above its four-year average.
BAML points out that it’s historically been a bearish signal when Wall Street gets extremely bullish. Described by the firm as a “reliable contrarian indicator,” the sell-side gauge helps bolster the long-standing argument from stock market pessimists that US stocks are overheating.
Theories abound as to why the fourth quarter is so often the best one for equity bulls. Fund managers need to catch up, holiday spending spreads cheer, investors celebrate the January effect in December.
Or maybe it’s just dumb luck. Whatever the case, the S&P 500 Index has risen seven times in the last eight years between October and December. And while calendar effects just took a beating with a volatility-free September, betting against any form of momentum remains a losing trade until proven otherwise.
Indeed, equities just capped an eighth straight quarter of gains, the longest winning streak since the start of 2015. The S&P 500 climbed 4 percent as corporate earnings posted the first back-to-back double-digit advance in six years, helping stocks endure mounting tension with North Korea, a deadly U.S. hurricane season and escalating political turmoil.
FOREX, CRYPTOCURRENCY, EXCHANGE IMPACTS
The Ethereum network has its own virtual currency, Ether. In the simplest sense, Ether are needed to pay the other computers on the network to complete tasks. It isn’t free to use the network.
People have also decided to buy and hold Ether, betting that it will become more valuable as more people want to use the network and need Ether to pay for the network’s computing power.
Mr. Buterin was a Bitcoin aficionado, and he was inspired by its success. But he set out to build something that could do more than Bitcoin: He wanted to build a system that would make it possible to program more complex financial transactions.
Among the issues the agency is focused on is what role leverage might have played in the plunge, as Coinbase allowed traders to use borrowed money to make bigger wagers than would have otherwise been possible, said the people, who asked not to be named because the review isn’t public.
The CFTC inquiry is the latest sign that federal authorities are growing worried about a market with scattershot oversight that has attracted big money. Coinbase, which says it has served 10.6 million customers and facilitated $20 billion in digital currency transactions, is regulated by various states through a patchwork system.
Goldman’s effort is in its early stages and may not proceed, the people said. The firm’s interest, though, could boost bitcoin’s standing among investors and fuel the debate around digital currencies, which were initially viewed as havens for illicit activity but are pushing further into the mainstream investment world.
ENERGY COMPANIES, NOCs, INDUSTRY
As traders and producers gathered in Singapore this week for Asia’s biggest oil event, you might have expected a bit more optimism. Oil prices reached their highest level in two years on the first day of the event as a succession of traders and analysts told the assembled crowds that global crude demand was soaring, helping to bring to an end the three-year glut that had devastated much of the industry.
But while pessimism no longer abounds, it was difficult to find many who were prepared to bet crude could far surpass today’s levels of about $60 a barrel. So bruised were the executives at the event by oil’s crash from $100 a barrel that few could bring themselves to predict much brighter days ahead for the industry.
In the raw hours after the recent German election, politicians struggled to process one result in particular. Alternative for Germany (AfD)—an upstart populist party incensed by the influx of Muslim refugees and migrants into Germany since 2015—had finished in third place, with nearly 13 percent of the vote, and was poised to enter the legislature for the first time. Angela Merkel, who won a fourth term as chancellor, promised to conduct a “thorough analysis” of why so many of her voters had flocked to the AfD. Her main challenger, Martin Schulz, noted that German democracy had “survived” despite “an extreme far-right party showing its ugly face.” Others were more alarmed. Once again, the leaders of the Greens lamented, there are “Nazis in parliament.”
To better understand this new force in German politics, I spoke with Alexander Gauland, who co-founded the AfD in 2013 and is now one of the party’s top leaders. (While Gauland’s views are characteristic of the AfD’s, the party is notoriously divided internally and contains a range of perspectives.) He rejected the label of far-right, pledged to make life difficult for Merkel’s government in the coming years, and vowed to take his country back “from the refugees” who are endangering the “German way of life.”
Mr Macron’s shift underlines the intense pressure felt by the French authorities after Islamist-related terror attacks have left 239 dead in the past two years. France is the number-one target for Isis in the west, accounting for 30 per cent of attacks or foiled plots related to the extremist group, according to the Paris-based Center for the Analysis of Terrorism. After the fatal stabbings of two women near Marseille train station by a Tunisian citizen on Sunday, far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who lost to Mr Macron in the presidential runoff, has requested he toughen up security measures to tackle “acts of war”.
Centre-right politicians have pushed for an extension of the state of emergency. However, critics say Mr Macron’s plan to make some of its measures permanent — in a bill to be adopted by parliament later today — will enshrine infringements of civil liberties. Judges and lawyers warn it will further erode the presumption of innocence in matters of terrorism and, as such, will “contaminate” the rule of law and the justice system as a whole. They also note it could lead to more police mistakes, with suspects identified using sometimes flimsy, anonymous intelligence.
A high-level document published last week by China’s cabinet emphasized that entrepreneurs are important contributors to growth—but also that they need to be more patriotic and approach their role with the mind-set of serving society. Little wonder private investment has been weak for years.
This weekend’s move by China’s central bank—offering banks which plow at least 1.5% of their total loans into small enterprises and agriculture a 0.5 percentage point cut to the amount of cash they have to hold in reserve next year—is unlikely to do much to lift the dark mood of China’s private sector. That’s especially given the clear tilt of China’s “reform” agenda back toward the state under President Xi Jinping.
SILICON VALLEY, UNICORNS, STARTUPS, VC
Uber’s British boss has quit amid a battle with London regulators over its licence to operate in the UK capital. Jo Bertram, who has been Uber’s main point of contact with Transport for London during a testy period for the group, told staff she was moving on after four years at the ride-hailing firm. Uber is appealing TfL’s decision not to renew its licence on the grounds the group was not a fit and proper operator.
A new program will allow subscription-based publications to determine how many free articles to give readers who gain access to their sites through search.
Uber Technologies Inc.’s board is bracing for a contentious battle over voting control after two investors threatened legal action ahead of a planned vote Tuesday that could upend the board and diminish the power of some of the company’s earliest shareholders.
When Uber’s new chief executive officer touches down in London, he’ll find an irate regulator, divided drivers, galvanized rivals, and a key regional manager who’s just announced her exit.
RETAIL APPAREL, SPECIALTY, DINING, BIG BOX
On Sunday night, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison took aim at Amazon’s cloud-computing division, touting his company’s newest database technology that he claimed his rival can’t match. At Oracle OpenWorld—the company’s annual conference for developers, partners and customers in San Francisco—Mr. Ellison ran through several demonstrations of Oracle Database 18c, saying customers would pay several times more using Amazon’s technology.
AUTOS, ELECTRIC, SELF-DRIVING
China has created the world’s largest electric-car market by sheer force of will, a giant bet on domestic production that’s leaving major foreign auto makers scrambling to keep up.
The government is funding its own manufacturers, luring domestic buyers with subsidies and building a vast charging-station network—while strong-arming its consumers by making sure buying an electric car is the only sure way to get license plates in crowded cities.
William Zhou, a 33-year-old software-company manager, recently abandoned his 18-month quest to buy a gasoline-powered foreign car—a middle-class status symbol—when his wife became pregnant.
He drives in gridlocked Shanghai, where severe restrictions on issuing license plates for new gas-powered cars don’t apply to electric or plug-in hybrid models. He settled for a Chinese plug-in hybrid because “I didn’t want to waste any more time and energy on the license plate.”
China has said it will eventually ban gasoline-powered cars. California may be moving in the same direction. That pressure has set off a scramble by the world’s car companies to embrace electric vehicles.
On Monday, General Motors, America’s largest automaker, staked its claim to leadership. Outlining a fundamental shift in its vision of the industry, it announced plans for 20 new all-electric models by 2023, including two within the next 18 months.
Nissan Motor Co. said Monday it will recall 1.2 million cars in Japan, after Japanese regulators said the vehicles received improper quality checks at the factory.
Inspectors from Japan’s Transport Ministry found that final quality checks on the assembly line weren’t conducted by the right employees. Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa said the recall could cost the company more than $200 million.
Luxury electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc said on Monday its deliveries rose 4.5 percent in the third quarter from the prior-year period, but said “production bottlenecks” had left the company behind its planned ramp-up for the new Model 3 mass-market sedan.
“It is important to emphasize that there are no fundamental issues with the Model 3 production or supply chain,” Tesla said in a statement. “We understand what needs to be fixed and we are confident of addressing the manufacturing bottleneck issues in the near term.” Tesla said it was on track to deliver around 100,000 S and X models this year.
Tesla Inc. badly missed its goal of building 1,500 Model 3 cars in the third quarter, the first sign that the production ramp-up for the new sedan isn’t going as smoothly as planned.
The Silicon Valley electric-car maker built 260 of the Model 3s between July and September, the company said Monday in a statement. In August, the auto maker predicted it would build more than 1,500 Model 3s before cranking up production to 5,000 a week by the end of the fourth quarter.
Detroit’s largest auto makers ramped up plans for electric vehicles in coming years. GM plans to introduce two more electric vehicles over the next 18 months, and Ford has formed a team to help direct investments toward new electrified vehicles.
SCIENCE, NATURE, PSYCHOLOGY
A team of theoretical physicists from Oxford University in the UK has shown that life and reality cannot be merely simulations generated by a massive extraterrestrial computer.
The finding – an unexpectedly definite one – arose from the discovery of a novel link between gravitational anomalies and computational complexity. In a paper published in the journal Science Advances, Zohar Ringel and Dmitry Kovrizhi show that constructing a computer simulation of a particular quantum phenomenon that occurs in metals is impossible – not just practically, but in principle.
If the complexity grew linearly with the number of particles being simulated, then doubling the number of partices would mean doubling the computing power required. If, however, the complexity grows on an exponential scale – where the amount of computing power has to double every time a single particle is added – then the task quickly becomes impossible.
The researchers calculated that just storing information about a couple of hundred electrons would require a computer memory that would physically require more atoms than exist in the universe.
Understanding how our bodies keep time has “vast implications” for health, say Nobel committee.
Imagine self-healing materials. Tear your jacket? No problem. It just grows back. In the realm of energy, nanotech could be used to improve solar cells and develop ultra-capacitors for energy storage, which could help us embrace green energy and jettison fossil fuels. In total, scientists believe nanotech can help us to develop multi-component systems that are smart, autonomous, and adapt to the environment or changing circumstances.
But what about actual machines? The field of nanorobotics is young but growing rapidly. One research team is working on self-aware nanobots that can deliver drugs inside the body, right where they’re needed. Another group at Rice University built a nanocar. A collaboration of several US universities recently announced the creation of a photodynamic nanodrill. When it encounters light or a laser, it spins and can drill right down into a cancer cell, killing it.
Now, a team at the University of Manchester in the UK has reached another milestone. It’s developed a robot so small it operates on the molecular level. This is the world’s first molecular robot, and it has an arm which can manipulate individual molecules or move them in clusters.
The thing is a millionth of a millimeter in size. To give you an idea of the scale we’re talking about, one quintillion (a billion billion) of them piled together would be about equal to a few grains of salt. Each machine is comprised of 150 atoms. That includes carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen atoms. Though small, these machines could offer us incredible capabilities, such as to work in tiny, molecular factories, in order to manufacture the next generation of materials and products.
Three American scientists have won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering the molecular workings of the “body clock” in humans and animals that synchronises with the earth’s cycle through night and day.
Professor Jeffrey Hall, Professor Michael Rosbash and Michael Young worked out how a biochemical feedback mechanism maintains our circadian rhythm, the 24-hour cycle of sleep and wakefulness, feeding behaviour, hormone release, blood pressure and many other physiological functions.
Their research was carried out mainly during the 1980s and 1990s, working with fruit flies as a “model organism” at Brandeis University in Boston and Rockefeller University in New York. The body clock turns out to work in essentially the same way across the animal kingdom, from insects to mammals. Plants too have a similar timekeeping system.
Tom Petty, the dynamic and iconoclastic frontman who led the band the Heartbreakers, went into full cardiac arrest at his Malibu home Sunday night, with conflicting reports on whether the Hall of Fame musician died on Monday. Petty was found unconscious, not breathing and in full cardiac arrest at his home, according to TMZ, and rushed to the hospital and placed on life support. EMTs were able to find a pulse when they found him, but TMZ reported that the hospital found no brain activity when he arrived. A decision was made to pull life support. CBS originally confirmed Petty’s death per the Los Angeles Police Department, but TMZ claims the musician is still on life support.
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