In The News Today

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House Passes Concealed Carry Gun Bill
December 6, 2017

Two months after the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history, the House on Wednesday passed legislation that would allow people to use permits for carrying concealed handguns across state lines while also boosting the background check system.

Despite bipartisan support for enhancing background checks for gun purchases, the bill passed along party lines, 231-198, due to Democratic opposition to the concealed-carry reciprocity measure.

Six centrist Democrats voted with Republicans to approve the package: Reps. Sanford Bishop (Ga.), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Vicente Gonzalez (Texas), Ron Kind (Wis.), Collin Peterson (Minn.) and Kurt Schrader (Ore.).

Fourteen Republicans voted “no,” including a mix of conservatives and centrists.

Conservative Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) held the mirror opposite position of Democrats who voted against the legislation: he supports concealed-carry reciprocity but didn’t want the background check measure attached.

“It throws millions of dollars at a faulty program and it will result in more law-abiding citizens being deprived of their right to keep and bear arms,” Massie wrote in a Facebook post ahead of the vote.

The gun policy measures were originally two separate bills. But House GOP leaders opted to combine them so that lawmakers only had to cast one vote.

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Bill Holter’s Commentary

I am anxiously waiting to see when crypto “beanie babies” are created. Can you imagine the “scarcity” value?

People Are Now Plowing Millions Into ‘CryptoKitties’ And BREEDING THEM
December 6, 2017

It was bound to happen… Cat people have hopped on the digital currency bandwagon and collectively plowed over $6.7 million into ‘CryptoKitties’ – an Ethereum-based virtual cat described as “breedable Beanie Babies,” which have sold for upwards of $114,000. Each. The median price of CryptoKitties is $25.04.

DIGITAL CAT BREEDING SCHEME

“CryptoKitties players buy and sell unique digital kittens using ethereum. With two kittens, players can then breed their own digital kittens and sell them on the marketplace. The starting price is set by the user, and the price goes down until the end of the auction or the kitten is sold. The CryptoKitties team plans to release a new CryptoKitty every 15 minutes until Nov. 2018, whose starting price is set by the average of the last five CryptoKitties that were sold, plus 50 percent.” –CNBC

There’s a 256-bit ‘genome’ for each kitten, meaning there are 4 billion possible unique variations, according to the company. The reproduction rate for the randy CryptoCats is a distinguishing feature of the scheme, which features a “cooldown” time – or the time it takes a kitty to have a smoke, make a sandwich, and get back to breeding. The cooldown time varies from “fast” one minute breaks, to week-long “catatonic” breaks, and increases each time the kitty breeds.

Created by Vancouver company Axiom Zen, CryptoKitties launched on Thanksgiving in a limited offering to 200 people, and was opened to the public last Tuesday. Over 41,000 digital ‘kittens’ have been sold since then.

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Bill Holter’s Commentary

A very interesting position for Goldman Sachs? Needless to say, Goldman will do what is best for Goldman…

Goldman Traders Are Caught Up in a Bizarre, Tense Hedge Fund Battle
December 7, 2017

In a year of missteps across its trading business, Goldman Sachs finds itself in a dicey situation again.

This time, the bank’s credit trading desk is caught in the middle of a raging battle among hedge funds over the debt of big U.S. homebuilder Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. The flap was ignited by Blackstone Group LP’s credit unit, GSO Capital Partners, which is trying to convince the builder to accept a bond refinancing package. GSO’s plan would trigger payments on default insurance that it bought in the credit derivatives market.

Goldman’s problem? It could be on the hook for some of that default insurance after accumulating credit-default swaps and bond trades that add up to a roughly $200 million position, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The Wall Street titans are staring each other down as the tussle heads into a crucial stage, each seeking to influence the builder’s next steps.

It’s the kind of situation that brings into focus Goldman’s penchant for taking risk. The bank has been combating a slump in trading revenue across financial markets that has magnified its mistakes. The firm still derives more of its business from hedge funds than its peers, at times investing alongside those clients.

At times that has paid off in spades — and on occasions left it nursing bigger losses than other banks can stomach.

Representatives for New York-based Goldman Sachs Group Inc., GSO and Hovnanian declined to comment.

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Bill Holter’s Commentary

It’s beginning to look like 2018 is going to be a doozy…popcorn sales through the roof!

GOP Lawmakers Cite New Allegations Of Political Bias In FBI
December 6, 2017

GOP lawmakers say they have heard new stories about political bias or interference within the FBI on the eve of new testimony Thursday by FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) said Wednesday he interviewed a recently retired FBI supervisor who told him he was instructed by Deputy Director Andrew McCabe not to call the 2012 Benghazi attack an act of terrorism when distributing a report on the FBI findings to the larger intelligence community.

The agent found the instruction concerning because his unit had gathered incontrovertible evidence showing a major al Qaeda figure had directed the attack and the information had already been briefed to President Obama, the lawmaker said.

In the days after the 2012 attack, Obama administration officials initially said it was related to spontaneous Muslim anger over an anti-Islam video tape and not a planned-out act of terrorism.

DeSantis argued the example highlights the politicization of the FBI.

“What operational reason would there be to issue an edict to agents telling them, in the face of virtually conclusive evidence to the contrary, not to categorize the Benghazi attack as a result of terrorism? By placing the interests of the Obama administration over the public’s interests, the order is yet another data point highlighting the politicization of the FBI,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis and several other lawmakers say they plan to press Wray at a hearing Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee about growing concerns that certain FBI supervisors allowed political bias to cloud judgments or decisions.

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Bill Holter’s Commentary

SURPRISE!

Tidalgate: Climate Alarmists Caught Faking Sea Level Rise

December 6, 2017

Alarmist scientists have been caught red-handed tampering with raw data in order to exaggerate sea level rise.

The raw (unadjusted) data from three Indian Ocean gauges – Aden, Karachi and Mumbai – showed that local sea level trends in the last 140 years had been very gently rising, neutral or negative (ie sea levels had fallen).

But after the evidence had been adjusted by tidal records gatekeepers at the global databank Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL) it suddenly showed a sharp and dramatic rise.

The whistle was blown by two Australian scientists Dr. Albert Parker and Dr. Clifford Ollier in a paper for Earth Systems and Environment.

The paper – Is the Sea Level Stable at Aden, Yemen? – examines the discrepancies between raw and adjusted sea level data in Aden, Karachi and Mumbai.

Kenneth Richard at No Tricks Zone reports:

The authors expose how PSMSL data-adjusters make it appear that stable sea levels can be rendered to look like they are nonetheless rising at an accelerated pace.

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Bill Holter’s Commentary

Not something to have a warm and fuzzy feeling about!

Jerusalem: Arab League to hold emergency meeting
December 6, 2017

The Arab League (AL) is to hold an emergency meeting at the level of foreign ministers on Saturday to discuss the Arab action regarding the possible U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city.

MENA news agency reported on Wednesday that the decision is made in response to Palestine’s request that has been supported by Jordan.

“The meeting will discuss the necessary Arab actions towards the possible change of the U.S. position that affects the status of Jerusalem as well as its legal and historical position,” MENA quoted the Palestinian memorandum as saying.

The AL announcement comes while President Donald Trump is expected to make a decision Wednesday over his country’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the disputed holy city.

Over the past few days, the AL and most Arab states have been warning against the “dangerous repercussions” of such a U.S. decision, if made, on peace, security and stability in the Middle East region and the chances for a settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict emerged since the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and the Western-backed creation of Israel in 1948.

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