Weekday NEWS to Comfort the Disturbed and Disturb the Comfortable.
Germany wants its gold back; platinum pops
February gold rises $11,
helped in part by rising Japan inflation outlook
By Barbara Kollmeyer and Sarah Turner, MarketWatch
MADRID (MarketWatch) — Goodbye, Big Apple. Adieu, Paris. It seems the Bundesbank could finally be ready to bow to some longstanding public pressure and bring its foreign gold reserves home.
Germany's Handeslblatt newspaper claimed Monday night that the Bundesbank has developed a new strategy that involves fewer gold bars flung afar. It seems the original reason for holding its gold at the New York Federal Reserve and other central banks — in places for decades as a measure of security — no longer holds up. The central bank's press office said a news conference is planned for Wednesday morning, and the topic will be gold reserves.
It Begins: Bundesbank To Commence
Repatriating Gold From New York Fed
by Tyler Durden - ZeroHedge.com
In what could be a watershed moment for the price, provenance, and future of physical gold, not to mention the "stability" of the entire monetary regime based on rock solid, undisputed "faith and credit" in paper money, German Handelsblatt reports in an exclusive that the long suffering German gold, allofficial 3,396 tons of it, is about to be moved. Specifically, it is about to be partially moved out of the New York Fed, where the majority, or 45% of it is currently stored, as well as the entirety of the 11% of German gold held with the Banque de France, and repatriated back home to Buba in Frankfurt, where just 31% of it is held as of this moment. And while it is one thing for a "crazy, lunatic" dictator such as Hugo Chavez to pull his gold out of the Bank of England, it is something entirely different, and far less dismissible, when the bank with the second most official gold reserves in the world proceeds toformally pull some of its gold from the bank with the most. In brief: this is a momentous development, one which may signify that the regime of mutual assured and very much telegraphed - because if the central banks don't have faith in one another, why should anyone else? - trust in central banks by other central banks is ending.
What Will Gold Do This Year?
What standard of living would you like to maintain?
BY JEFF CLARK - FinancialSense.com
As we turn the calendar over, there are probably two dominant questions on the minds of most precious-metals investors: Will gold and silver have a better year than the last two? And will gold stocks finally break out of their funk?
2012 was an interesting year for our favorite metal. On one hand, gold was up only single-digit percentages for the second consecutive year: 8.3%, after rising just 9.1% in 2011. It was also outperformed by the S&P 500 Index, though this was the first time since 2004 and only the third since 1999. On the other hand, the price has now risen 12 consecutive years, overshadowing most other bull markets in modern history.
Misunderstanding Gold Demand
BY ROBERT BLUMEN - FinancialSense.com
Most gold market research is based on the premise that the supply side of the market can be characterized by the quantity supplied and demand side by the quantity demanded. The specific cause and effect relationship between these two variables and price is often unstated; and perhaps rightfully so: is it not obvious that a greater quantity demanded is the cause of a higher price, and that a greater quantity supplied is responsible for a lower price?
Greece Looks to Develop a Gold Boom,
but at the Cost of the Environment
By Charles Kennedy - OilPrice.com
Greece is entering its sixth year of recession, and needles to say it is still in big trouble. Under massive pressure from its three main creditors, the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission, it has worked to reduce the number of hurdles that projects need to overcome in order to gain approval. Many Greeks are fearful that this reduction will only lead to shortcuts that in the long run will harm the environment and cost far more to the people.
Why The Silver Manipulation MUST End
by Ted Butler - GoldSilverWorlds.com
….First, let me define all manipulations as being commodity price manipulations, as opposed to manipulations of other things. We have documented experience in such commodity market manipulations over the past decades, including copper, soybeans, potatoes and even silver in 1980, to the upside. All these previous manipulations did end and ended dramatically, but I admit that doesn't prove conclusively, by itself, that such manipulations must end.
What I think mandates that all commodity price manipulations must end is the law of supply and demand. Actually, this law would be better termed the law of supply and demand and price, because supply and demand are balanced by the fulcrum of price. If a price is set artificially too high, eventually supply increases and demand decreases to the point where the price must collapse. Likewise, if a price is set artificially too low (as I allege in silver), eventually supply is reduced and demand is increased to the point where the price must explode.
CO-OPs were supposed to replace the public insurance option. Now they are dead.
In 'fiscal cliff' deal, a blow to Obamacare
Posted by Sarah Kliff - WashingtonPost.com
When Congress struck a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, it also dealt a quiet blow to President Obama's health overhaul: The new law killed a multibillion-dollar program meant to boost health insurance competition by funding nonprofit health plans.
The decision to end funding for the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans has left as many as 40 start-ups vying for federal dollars in limbo. Some are considering legal action against the Obama administration, after many spent upwards of $100,000 preparing their applications.
Trillion Dollar Battle: Print, Baby, Print!
BY AXEL G MERK - FinancialSense.com
While the introduction of a trillion-dollar coin has been shrugged off as nonsense, there are plenty of nonsensical concepts employed in our monetary system. Here we'll shed light on a few of them.
Governments - or their central banks - can print a $100 bill. The value of such a piece of paper is worth exactly as much as the supply and demand of a currency dictates. Dollar bills are legal tender for payment of debt, but if someone does not like that the $100 bill is not backed by anything, then anyone is free to decline a $100 bill in exchange for services, and barter instead.
Money Supply Figures:
Monetary Inflation But Real Economy Is Dysfunctional
JESSE'S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN
"He that gives good advice, builds with one hand; he that gives good counsel and example, builds with both; but he that gives good admonition and bad example, builds with one hand and pulls down with the other." -- Francis Bacon
The growth in the MZM and M2 money supplies are very strong, almost remarkably so given the very slack growth in employment and GDP.
So why do we not see any serious inflation in prices? Or real gains in employment for that matter.
As an aside, I think some of the more 'modern' and aggressively modified measures of price inflation, like chained CPI, do not measure price inflation at all, but the consumer behaviour of product substitution under increasingly trying circumstances as people cope by reducing their standard of living. That is a measure of gradual deprivation, not inflation.
GEITHNER: US COULD DEFAULT BY FEBRUARY
WITH 'SEVERE' CONSEQUENCES
by WILLIAM BIGELOW - Bretibart.com
Barack Obama has trotted out Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to claim that if the GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling, the results will be catastrophic and that he has been using "extraordinary measures" to keep the U.S. economy afloat:
Treasury currently expects to exhaust these extraordinary measures between mid-February and early March of this year... If Congress does not act to extend borrowing authority, all of these payments would be at risk. This would impose severe economic hardship on millions of individuals and businesses across the country. It should also be noted that default would increase our borrowing costs and damage economic growth and therefore add to future budget deficits, not decrease them.
Obama: U.S. Has Become Too Big to Fail
Bam's 'magical' debt-limit answer
By John Podhoretz, New York Post
President Obama has an interesting negotiating strategy when it comes to the "debt ceiling" — the point in time when the federal government has borrowed every cent Congress allows it to borrow. In a press conference yesterday, he declared he simply won't negotiate with Republicans on the issue.
Congress authorized spending; in fact, he said, it ordered him to spend this money (by means of legislation that could only become law if he affixed his signature to it). Therefore, Congress simply must allow the Treasury Department to go out and get more. No preconditions.
Fitch warns on U.S. rating as debt ceiling fight looms
By Marc Jones and William James and Daniel Bases
LONDON/NEW YORK | Tue Jan 15, 2013 5:48pm EST
(Reuters) - The United States faces a "material risk" of losing its AAA status if there is a repeat of the wrangling seen in 2011 over raising the country's self-imposed debt ceiling, credit ratings firm Fitch said on Tuesday.
The United States scraped up against its $16.4 trillion debt ceiling on December 31 and is now employing special measures to meet its financial obligations. The Treasury Department said those steps could be exhausted by mid-February.
Hitting the debt ceiling would be much worse
than a government shutdown
Posted by Ezra Klein - WashingtonPost.com
Repeat after me: Breaching the debt ceiling is not the same thing as a government shutdown.
A lot of Republicans seem to believe it is, or at least seem to be trying to believe that it is, and for good reason. Taking the debt ceiling hostage is a tricky political play. On the one hand, the appeal is that breaching the debt ceiling is so dangerous that the Obama administration can't possibly let it happen. That's where the leverage comes from. On the other hand, unleashing economic chaos unless you get your way is a tactic more closely associated with Bond villains than successful political parties.
Treasury taps retiree fund to push off debt limit
(Reuters) - The Treasury said on Tuesday it was temporarily tapping the retirement funds of government workers to avoid hitting the $16.4 trilliondebt ceiling, adding retirees would nonetheless continue to receive benefits.
The Treasury has said it can only stave off default through such extraordinary measures until around mid-February to early March.
The Big, Bad Secular Bear Is Still Lurking
We entered 2013 on a bull run with a generally optimistic outlook. But there's reason to believe the great bear market that began in 2000 is likely still with us.
By Jim Jubak - MSN Money
'Tis the season to make forecasts for stock markets in 2013.
But this year I think a focus on the course of markets in 2013 risks missing the forest for the trees. Two longer-term questions are much more important to investors than whether the indexes finish 2013 flat with the end of 2012, or up (or down) 10%.
Those questions? Is the cyclical bull market that began in 2009 due to end this year or next?
A Modest Proposal for Jacob Lew:
Acknowledge Three Simple Facts about U.S. Fiscal Reality
by Robert Pollin - BackToFullEmployment.org
In a reasonable world, in which we recognized the culpability of big-time D.C. politicians and bureaucrats who allowed Wall Street hyper-speculation to run wild and eventually cause the 2008-09 crash and Great Recession, Jacob Lew would be understood as a terrible choice as President Obama's second-term Treasury Secretary, replacing Timothy Geithner. The outstanding journalist Robert Sheer gives us the basic background in a recent Nation article. Sheer writes:
I suppose that he can't be much worse than Timothy Geithner, but that should be scant cause for cheer over the news that the president has nominated Jack Lew as Treasury secretary. Both championed the financial deregulation craze of the Clinton administration, and both are acolytes of Robert Rubin, the former Clinton Treasury secretary who unfettered Wall Street greed and then took his own considerable cut of the action.
Federal Welfare Spending
to Skyrocket 80 Percent in Next Decade
BY DANIEL HALPER - WeeklyStandard.com
Federal welfare spending will skyrocket 80 percent over the next decade, according to new analysis by the minority side of the Senate Budget Committee. Here's a chart, provided by the committee, detailing the growth in spending: [see chart]
"This chart displays projected federal spending on federal welfare programs over the next ten years, based on data from the Congressional Research Service and Congressional Budget Office," the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee explains. "These figures do not count state contributions to federal welfare programs (primarily on low-income health assistance) which brought total welfare spending in FY2011 to more than $1 trillion – dwarfing any other budget item including Medicare and Social Security, and totaling enough to mail every household in poverty a check for 60k each year."
Euro-zone debt crisis enters challenging new phase
Commentary: Central bankers win battle, but not the war
By Satyajit Das - MarketWatch.com
SYDNEY (MarketWatch) — Rallying European stocks and bonds reflect a growing belief that both the euro zone and the European Central Bank are at last taking the correct policy actions to combat the region's debt crisis.
But it is premature to claim victory.
The financial resources remaining to deal with the crisis may be insufficient. The amounts available have not changed for almost two years, with little appetite among "permanent creditors" such as Germany for increasing commitments.
World Bank trims growth forecast
By Howard Schneider - WashingtonPost.com
The World Bank has sharply reduced its estimate of global economic growth in 2013, projecting that the downturn in Europe and the United States' fiscal problems will continue to weigh on investment and spending.
The bank said it expects the world economy to expand 2.4 percent this year, compared with 3 percent growth it had forecast as of June.
401(k) breaches undermining retirement security for millions
By Michael A. Fletcher - WashingtonPost.com
A large and growing share of American workers are tapping their retirement savings accounts for non-retirement needs, raising broad questions about the effectiveness of one of the most important savings vehicles for old age.
More than one in four American workers with 401(k) and other retirement savings accounts use them to pay current expenses, new data show. The withdrawals, cash-outs and loans drain nearly a quarter of the $293 billion that workers and employers deposit into the accounts each year, undermining already shaky retirement security for millions of Americans.
35 Statistics About The Working Poor In America
That Will Blow Your Mind
By Michael Snyder - TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com
In America tonight, tens of millions of men and women will struggle to get to sleep because they are stressed out about not making enough money even though they are working as hard as they possibly can. They are called "the working poor", and their numbers are absolutely exploding. As a recent Gallup poll showed, Americans are more concerned about the economy than they are about anything else. But why are Americans so stressed out about our economic situation if things are supposedly getting better? Well, the truth is that unemployment is not actually going down, and the real unemployment numbers are actually much worse than what is officially being reported by the government. But unemployment is only part of the story. Most American workers are still able to find jobs, but an increasing proportion of them are not able to make ends meet at the end of the month. Our economy continues to bleed good paying middle class jobs, and to a large degree those jobs are being replaced by low income jobs. Approximately one-fourth of all American workers make 10 dollars an hour or less at this point, and we see them all around us every day. They flip our burgers, they cut our hair and they take our money at the supermarket. In many homes, both parents are working multiple jobs, and yet when a child gets sick or a car breaks down they find that they don't have enough money to pay the bill. Many of these families have gone into tremendous amounts of debt in order to try to stay afloat, but once you get caught in a cycle of debt it can be incredibly difficult to break out of that.
Technology and the Employment Challenge
By Michael Spence - Project-Syndcate.org
MILAN – New technologies of various kinds, together with globalization, are powerfully affecting the range of employment options for individuals in advanced and developing countries alike – and at various levels of education. Technological innovations are not only reducing the number of routine jobs, but also causing changes in global supply chains and networks that result in the relocation of routine jobs – and, increasingly, non-routine jobs at multiple skill levels – in the tradable sector of many economies.
Plumbing Company Sues HHS Mandate, "A Drain on Freedom"
by Alliance Defending Freedom
A Missouri-based plumbing products manufacturer is the latest company to challenge the Obama administration's abortion pill mandate in court.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and allied attorneys filed a federal lawsuit Monday on behalf of Sioux Chief Manufacturing Co. against the mandate, which forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties.
Oklahoma faces federal takeover of water
By Brooks Hays - Gimby.org
The federal government will assume control over water regulations in Oklahoma this summer unless the state spends $2 million to come into compliance with water quality standards.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets water quality rules and states enforce them. Oklahoma's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has been unable to implement a number of regulations pertaining to microbial pathogens and disinfection byproducts adopted in 2005 and 2006.
"Once those three new rules were in place, we knew we did not have the resources to implement those, and EPA determined they would continue implementing those until we got the funding in place," Shellie Chard-McClary, director of DEQ's Water Quality Division, recently told StateImpact.
Obama Admin Still Trying to Force
Bible Publisher to Obey HHS Mandate
by Steven Ertelt - LifeNews.com
The Obama Administration is still trying to enforce its abortion pill mandate against a Bible publisher which filed a lawsuit against it.
The mandate has generated massive opposition from pro-life groups because it forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties.
Control Politicians, Not Guns
By Cal Thomas - PatriotPost.us
If laws were enough to deter criminal behavior prisons would be empty.
The latest effort to "control" guns in America is as likely to deter someone intent on breaking the law as outlawing lust would affect one's libido. What's in a heart can't be controlled by restricting what's in a hand.
Following the Newtown tragedy, President Obama vowed to seek the passage of an assault weapons ban and hastily assembled an administration-wide gun control task force, an effort that amounts to little more than a political act designed to impress what Rush Limbaugh calls "low-information voters." Government must be seen doing something to keep mad men from shooting children and moviegoers, even if that something will likely prove ineffective.
End of Private Sale and Transfer of Firearms
BIDEN: FIGHT CRIME BY KEEPING GRANDPAS
FROM GIVING GRANDSONS THEIR GUNS
by AWR HAWKINS - Breitbart.com
Speaking with reporters after meeting with various groups about gun violence last week, VP Biden made it clear that part of the gun control he and President Obama are pursuing includes not simply ending gun shows, but ending the transfer of firearms.
While the focus on gun shows is par for course for gun-grabbers, the focus on ending gun transfers is new and it poses one of the greatness threats to liberty in our time.
Here's what Biden said after meeting with the various groups: "I'm going to focus primarily on [the recommendations] that relate to gun ownership...Not just close the gunshow loophole but total, universal background checks, including private sales."
Where each state stands on gun-control legislation
STATES ON GUNS
Where the states stand on guns and violence as legislatures meet this year in the aftermath of mass killings. The District of Columbia, which already has strict gun laws, has no plans to further tighten them.
Reporters from USA TODAY and Gannett news operations nationwide reached out to governors and legislatures in each state to learn what gun-related proposals might be in the works.
MEDL Mobile releases NRA:
Practice Range iPhone application to help teach gun safety
Summary: There is a lot of discussion about guns at the moment after the recent horrific mass murders in Newtown, CT. The NRA is part of these discussions and a new iPhone application that focuses on gun safety was released that maybe should have been shelved for another month or two.
By Matthew Miller - ZDNet.com
I read on CNET today that a new iPhone application, NRA: Practice Range (iTunes link), was released by MEDL Mobile that includes NRA safety, training, and education resources along with a target practice shooting game. Given the horrific tragedy just a month ago in Newtown the timing for this release is probably not the best, but it does focus on the educational aspects of the NRA.
If you check out the free game you will see it is one of the least violent shooting games you can find to play (along the lines of the old duck hunting games we played on consoles) and it is more geared towards educating gamers on safe use of weapons rather than shooting people, aliens, zombies, or other creatures.
According to the description on iTunes, this new [FREE] application provides the following:
SAFETY, TRAINING & EDUCATION NRA: Practice Range puts the National Rifle Association's broad scope of resources in the palm of your hand – with 2nd Amendment newsfeeds, gun law information centers & educational materials you can access anywhere, anytime.
Obama to unveil broad gun plans Wednesday
By Philip Rucker - WashingtonPost.com
President Obama will unveil a sweeping set of gun-control proposals at midday Wednesday, including an assault weapons ban, universal background checks and limits on the number of bullets that ammunition clips can hold, according to sources familiar with the plans.
The announcement, which press secretary Jay Carney said is scheduled for about 11:45 a.m. at the White House, is also expected to include a slate of up to 19 executive actions that the Obama administration can take on its own to attempt to limit gun violence.
TEXAS TO JOIN WYOMING:
FELONY CHARGES FOR ENFORCING NEW GUN CONTROL
by AWR HAWKINS - Breitbart.com
Texas state representative Steve Toth is filing legislation for a "Firearms Protection Act" similar to that which we saw in Wyoming.
This law will make "any federal law banning semi-automatic handguns or limiting the size of gun magazines unenforceable within the state's boundaries."
Not only will this put Texas shoulder-to-shoulder with Wyoming in making it a felony for anyone--including federal agents--to try to enforce new gun control, but according to the Tenth Amendment Center it is in perfect harmony with the actions of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, "who has already filed over twenty-three lawsuits against the federal government."
BULLY PULPIT: OBAMA PUSHES 'EXECUTIVE ACTION' ON GUNS
by BEN SHAPIRO - Breitbart.com
In the final press conference of his first term, President Barack Obama stood behind the bully pulpit and proceeded to bully. First and foremost, of course, he bullied on gun control:
My understanding is the vice president's going to provide a range of steps that we can take to reduce gun violence. Some of them will require legislation, some of them I can accomplish through executive action. And so I will be reviewing those today, and as I said, I will speak in more detail to what we're going to go ahead and propose later in the week. But I'm confident that there are some steps that we can take that don't require legislation and that are within my authority as president, and where you get a step that, has the opportunity to reduce the possibility of gun violence, then I want to go ahead and take it.
White House Assault Weapons Ban Drawing Opposition
By Lisa Lerer & Heidi Przybyla - Bloomberg.com
President Barack Obama will unveil tomorrow a package of proposals to cut gun violence, including a ban on sales of assault weapons that faces opposition in Congress even as a majority of the public backs it.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will be joined by children who wrote the president expressing their concerns following the mass shooting last month at a Connecticut school for the announcement, scheduled for 11:45 a.m. at the White House, Jay Carney, the president's chief spokesman, said.
NRA targets iPhone with shooting game
Following the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., and the NRA's defensive posture, the group has unveiled its own target shooting game.
by Lance Whitney - CNET.com
The National Rifle Association has launched a mobile shooting game amid furor over gun violence.
NRA: Practice Range is designed for iPhone and iPad users who want a little virtual target practice. The free game offers a variety of handguns and rifles that you can use to shoot at targets indoors or outdoors. Simply pick your weapon of choice and then tap the screen to fire at the targets.
The indoor level is easiest as the targets don't move, while the two outdoor levels require you to shoot at skeets and other moving targets.
Congress has a Constitution problem —
many don't understand document
By Stephen Dinan-The Washington Times
Each of them takes an oath to defend the Constitution, but many House lawmakers either don't understand the founding document or don't take its precepts seriously, according to an analysis by The Washington Times that studied the constitutional backing that representatives submitted for each of the more than 3,000 bills they introduced in 2011.
Under rules that the new Republican majority put into place, each House member introducing a bill must cite specific parts of the Constitution that they think grant Congress the authority to take the action they are proposing.
Governments no longer need to build dossiers on citizens; people will provide an abundance their own data using popular social media. Governments and big business, alike, will USE information provided and compiled from ALL resources, possibly, without knowledge or permission of members. It will come down to… are you in the photograph? You will be singled out, whether you like it or not… then sliced and diced by very sophisticate algorithms designed to draw conclusions about you and your purchasing preferences, among other details about your life. The bottom line is making money on your data, using your profile, places you frequent, and friends with whom you associate online and in real life. It's more like voluntary, self-imposed, surveillance.
Facebook's Bold, Compelling and Scary Engine of Discovery:
The Inside Story of Graph Search
BY STEVEN LEVY - Wired.com
….For years now, Facebook watchers have wondered when the company would unleash the potential of itsunderpowered search bar. (Nobody has feared this day more than Google, which suddenly faces a competitor able to index tons of data that Google's own search engine can't access.) They have also wondered how a Facebook search product might work. Now we know. Graph Search is fundamentally different from web search. Instead of a Google-like effort to help users find answers from a stitched-together corpus of all the world's information, Facebook is helping them tap its vast, monolithic database to make better use of their "social graph," the term Zuckerberg uses to describe the network of one's relationships with friends, acquaintances, favorite celebrities, and preferred brands.
Facebook's new 'Graph Search' could be social game changer
Social network unleashes data trove
behind its 1B worldwide users
By Sharon Gaudin - Computerworld.com
Computerworld - Facebook today took the wraps off a new search tool that could be a game changer for social networking, according to one analyst.
Basically, Facebook is unleashing the collective knowledge and opinions of its one billion users around the world.
"Facebook Graph Search has the potential to really change the game over time," said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. "The power of Graph Search comes from Facebook's sheer size. The more data there is to search and map, the more valuable the results. It can make Facebook a much more valuable tool.
Facebook search feature targets dating sites
by: Jennifer Van Grove - Times247.com
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced Graph Search at a press event today at the company's Menlo Park headquarters, billing it as a new way find people, photos, places and interests that are most relevant to Facebook users.
Graph Search is the social network's response to its massive base of 1 billion users, 240 billion photos, and 1 trillion connections. The tool is meant to provide people the answers to their to their questions about people, photos, places, and interests. …
With graph search, Facebook joins the dating game
The site's new search engine is tailor made for matchmaking
By Quentin Fottrell
Mark Zuckerberg wants to set you up on a date. The new "graph search" feature the Facebook chief executive unveiled Tuesday has great potential as an online matchmaker, the company says.
At a media event at its campus in Menlo Park, Calif., on Tuesday, Zuckerberg demonstrated how the search feature could helps its 1 billion users find people based on their interests, photos and places they've been. Tom Stocky, Facebook's director of product and the force behind the new feature, then showed how singles could search through data on their "friends of friends who are single." The feature "allows people to use the graph to make new connections," Facebook said in a statement.
Facebook loses 1.4 million active users in U.S.
The social network may be reaching a saturation point
By Quentin Fottrell - MarketWatch.com
Maybe people got tired of their friends and family over the holidays, or perhaps they resolved to do a digital detox for the New Year. Either way, Facebook has been a bit quieter lately.
The number of Americans using Facebook fell by nearly 1.4 million in early December, according to new data from social media monitoring company SocialBakers. While Facebook has more than 167 million users in the U.S. and 1 billion worldwide, the recent drop in monthly active users is still akin to losing the entire population of San Antonio, Texas. "Facebook is possibly getting to a point where the less engaged part of the audience doesn't visit every 30 days," says SocialBakers CEO Jan Rezab.
Instagram User Numbers Down;
Updated Terms of Service in Effect This Week
BY ALEXANDRA CHANG - Wired.com
Instagram had a bumpy end of the year after unveiling a new TOS that included an updated advertising policy. Many interpreted the update to mean Instagram could sell users' photos and information to advertisers. Users went nuts, some quit Instagram altogether, and the company said it was all a misunderstanding before reverting to its 2010 advertising policy.
Facebook Is Quietly Making a Killing With Ads That Pursue You
BY RYAN TATE - Wired.com
Wall Street wants Facebook to find a new source of aggressive growth, and the social network appears to have done just that — with ads that follow you from site to site and remember you for lengthy periods of time.
Facebook publicly launched its Facebook Exchange ad-bidding network less than three months ago and has been testing it only since June. But the system is already shaking up the ad business, say partners who have been on the exchange since the beginning, delivering a huge volume of users with a strong propensity to click on ads and helping advertisers follow those users for longer periods of time than is possible under competing systems. In the process Facebook is giving Google, long the undisputed leader in the so-called "retargeting business," a run for its money.
How Google and Facebook Will Make the Leap to Lightspeed
BY CADE METZ - Wired.com
One early morning in 2011, somewhere behind the curtain at the world's most popular social network, a Facebook engineer pressed a single button and brought down the entire operation.
This unnamed engineer didn't necessarily make a mistake. He just decided to run the kind of software task the social networking giant runs all the time. He ran a "Hadoop job," a way of analyzing data. The trouble is that Facebook analyzes data generated by hundreds of millions of people. This data is stored across thousands of machines inside the company's data centers, and when you analyze it, all those servers must talk to each other.
Four New Developments Leading Canada's Biofuel Revolution
By Biofuels Digest - OilPrice.com
Strong biofuels flight results, advances in algae, new commitments in venture capital and revived interest from the Canadian Navy.
Biofuels are off to a fast start in 2013 in Canada.
Canada's been known for years as the home of several important technology players – Iogen, for one; but more recently, Greenfield Ethanol has been aiming at cellulosic biofuels, while Ensyn is on the verge of commercializing its drop-in fuels technology, and Enerkem has become globally prominent for its waste-to-biofuels technology. Upstream, companies like Agrisoma have been developing high-value feedstock options.
White House shoots down petition to build Death Star
Obama Administration says construction of the universe's ultimate weapon would be cost-prohibitive and not in keeping with its policy of galactic peace.
by Steven Musil - CNET.com
The White House has rejected a proposal to build a Death Star, saying that in addition to its prohibitive construction costs, the current administration does not advocate destroying other planets.
Today's lighthearted official statement came in response to a petition posted in November to the White House's We The People platform that called for the administration to begin construction of a moon-size military battlestation armed with a planet-destroying superlaser by 2016. The petition, which attracted well more than the minimum 25,000 signatures necessary for a response from the White House, suggested that such a project could give the nation's economy a much-needed boost:
The Empire writes back: Galactic Empire responds
to White House rejection of Death Star petition
By Emi Kolawole - WashingtonPost.com
If you thought the blowback against the White House for its rejection of the petition to have the government build a Death Star was over, you are sorely mistaken.
The Galactic Empire via the official Star Wars blog has responded in a news release with the following statement reading, in part:
The overwhelming military superiority of the Galactic Empire has been confirmed once again by the recent announcement by the President of the United States that his nation would not attempt to build a Death Star, despite the bellicose demands of the people of his tiny, aggressive planet.
A New Middle East Crisis in the Making
By Claude Salhani - OilPrice.com
A demographic time bomb is clicking away in the Middle East with the creation of a new refugee problem as the continuing civil war in Syria is seeing the numbers of Syrians fleeing their country rise to a staggering 600,000. For a country with a population of only 15 million those are frightening numbers, indeed.
To put things in perspective this means that one out of every 25 Syrian has become a refugee. Compared to the population of the United States it would mean that more than 12 million Americans would have been affected. To the outsider numbers are sanitized and don't portray the human sufferings. It is hard to relate to numbers be it 600 or 600,000. Those are just cold statistics. Unless we know someone who is among those 600,000, then of course the issue becomes a personal one. As Josef Stalin, the former Soviet dictator used to say, a single death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic.
Exclusive: Secret State Department cable:
Chemical weapons used in Syria
Posted By Josh Rogin - ForeignPolicy.com
A secret State Department cable has concluded that the Syrian military likely used chemical weapons against its own people in a deadly attack last month, The Cable has learned.
United States diplomats in Turkey conducted a previously undisclosed, intensive investigation into claims that Syrian PresidentBashar al-Assad used chemical weapons, and made what an Obama administration official who reviewed the cable called a "compelling case" that Assad's military forces had used a deadly form of poison gas.
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