June 20, 2022

Posted by orrinj at 12:45 PM


Posted by orrinj at 12:38 PM


Kinzinger says 'there is violence in the future' after receiving mailed threat to 'execute' him, his wife, and 5-month-old baby (Katie Balevic, 6/20/22, Business Insider)

Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger warned of "violence in the future" after he said he received a mailed threat against him and his family. 

Kinzinger made the comments Sunday on "This Week" on ABC News while discussing his work on the committee investigating January 6, 2021. His position as one of only two Republicans on the committee has subjected him to threats, he said.

"This threat that came in, it was mailed to my house. We got it a couple of days ago, and it threatens to execute me, as well as my wife and 5-month-old child.

The Trump brand.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


German industry supports government gas reduction plan (Deutsche-Welle, 6/20/22)

Economy Minister Robert Habeck also proposed putting a cap on domestic heating and setting up a gas auction model this summer to incentivize the saving of gas by industry.

Under the scheme, industrial customers who can do without gas will reduce their consumption in exchange for financial compensation.

Siegfried Russwurm, president of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), Germany's main business lobby group, told DPA news agency "every kilowatt-hour counts."

"We need to reduce the consumption of gas as much as possible," he said.

Karl Haeusgen, president of the German mechanical engineering association (VDMA), said the association supports Habeck's plan to reduce gas consumption in industry with auctions.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Crypto is melting down. Here's who's hurt (Michael Hiltzik, June 16, 2022, LA Times)

Meanwhile, crypto's financial infrastructure has been coming apart at the seams. The most recent development to rattle the field was a June 12 announcement by Celsius, a crypto lender that operated like an unregulated bank, that it was "pausing all withdrawals, Swap, and transfers between accounts" of its 1.7 million customers.

The decision appeared to be the product of rapid withdrawals of deposits at the company along with the crypto price crashes.

But it underscored persistent questions about the firm's business model, in which it offered annualized interest yields as high as 20% on crypto deposits -- traditional banks were paying around 0.5% on deposits and even junk bonds were paying around 7.5%.

Other crypto assets that depicted themselves as havens of reliability have turned out to have figurative feet of clay. Consider "stablecoins," which are purportedly tied to hard assets such as the U.S. dollar or short-term commercial paper.

The claim behind tether, a key stablecoin that has been lubricating crypto trading generally, is that each tether, priced at $1, is backed by $1 in cold cash. But since the sponsoring firm is unregulated and has never released an audit based on generally accepted accounting principles, no one really knows.

A bigger problem with stablecoins is that some aren't actually backed by hard assets but are "algorithmic," meaning that their values are supposedly kept stable by computer-driven buying and selling.

The crash of one such coin, terra, helped provoke a selloff in bitcoin in May. As the British systems engineer David Gerard observed, terra's ostensibly stable assets were "chained boxes of worthless trash," so its value plummeted from $1 to a current quote (though no one is buying) of six thousandths of a cent.

Fraud and other varieties of criminality are so rampant in the crypto space -- including its even less savory offspring, such as NFTs (nonfungible tokens) -- that a whole lexicon of scams has sprung up. These include "rug pulls," in which a promotion team suddenly abandons a project and escapes with the already-invested money.

More traditional investor abuses are also common. Crypto deposits have been stolen by hackers by the millions. The network supporting the online NFT-related game "Axie Infinity" reported that hackers had stolen crypto assets worth as much as $625 million.

State and federal regulators are also investigating crypto promoters for allegedly selling illegal securities, and the Securities and Exchange Commission is reportedly investigating evidence of insider trading at crypto exchanges.

Manifestations of the crypto meltdown are rife. They include layoffs at leading trading firms, and the withdrawal of job offers made by Coinbase, a big crypto exchange, to recruits from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and other Wall Street firms that were made during headier days.

The fortunes of seven top crypto billionaires, including Bankman-Fried and the Winklevoss twins of "The Social Network" fame, shrank from $145 billion at bitcoin's peak in November to $31.4 billion as of June 13, according to Bloomberg's billionaires index.

What may be making the meltdown worse than the bear market afflicting stockholders is that crypto doesn't have any value in the real world.

With the possible exception of stablecoins, it's not backed by gold, corporate profits or any other realizable asset. It doesn't throw off earnings, nor is its value protected by governments; indeed, the virtue of crypto assets, according to their promoters, is that they're independent of government activity.

Many of the assets' claimed virtues aren't virtues at all: It's said that transactions are irreversible and don't require an intermediary such as a bank, but that's become a problem for owners who think they've been scammed or robbed and are left with no recourse.

Promoters have been trying to articulate a use for crypto since bitcoin began trading in 2009, but have never made a case.

Instead, it's dependent on what is known as the "greater fool" theory: Crypto assets are worth whatever you can persuade another fool to pay you for them. When the supply of fools washes out -- or confidence wanes that they're out there at all -- the market is vulnerable to a crash.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Israel excludes Arab communities from solar energy project (MEMO, June 20, 2022)

The Israeli authorities have excluded Arab communities in the country from a pilot solar energy project that will serve as a model for its solar energy industry, Haaretz revealed on Sunday. This could have the effect of excluding Arab Israelis from having access to solar energy "for years," said the newspaper, due to a change in the conditions imposed by Israel's Land Authority on the project that makes it accessible only in Jewish communities.

"The discriminatory criterion in the voltaic energy project is a climatic injustice," Haaretz reported Joseph Abramovich, a solar energy pioneer in Israel and Africa, as saying. Abramovich is a promoter of Project Wadi Attir, a Bedouin solar energy initiative in the Negev Desert. Bids have been invited "only for land owned by Jews," he noted.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Kinzinger: Trump's actions surrounding January 6 amount to 'seditious conspiracy' (Ramon Antonio Vargas, 19 Jun 2022, The Guardian)

"I certainly think the president is guilty of knowing what he did, seditious conspiracy, being involved in ... pressuring the [justice department], vice-president [Mike Pence], et cetera," Kinzinger said. "Obviously, you know, we're not a criminal charges committee, so I want to be careful in specifically using that language, but I think what we're presenting before the American people certainly would rise to a level of criminal involvement by a president."

Kinzinger also said that Trump's actions, as portrayed by the committee, show he "definitely" failed to maintain his oath to uphold the US constitution.

"The oath has to matter here," Kinzinger said. "Your personal demand to stand for the constitution has to matter."

Just three days earlier, the third of six scheduled hearings by the committee examining the Capitol attack saw a former attorney to Pence recount how Trump unsuccessfully helped pressure Pence into unlawfully blocking the congressional certification of Biden's win on the day of the riots.

One of the prongs of that plan involved sending fake pro-Trump electors from states that Biden to substitute electors pledged to Biden, which the justice department has been investigating for months now. Another prong, broadly, centered on Trump's relentless but baseless claims that electoral fraudsters had stolen the race from him, even as his attorney general, William Barr, dismissed that argument as complete "bullshit".

Kinzinger said the only logical outcome to claims of a rigged presidential election was the mob of hundreds storming the Capitol - shortly after Trump urged his supports to "fight like hell" - in the attack to which a bipartisan Senate report connected seven deaths.