Bitcoin rallies above $30,000 for first time
President Donald Trump’s extraordinary challenge of his election defeat by President-elect Joe Biden is becoming a defining moment for the Republican Party before next week’s joint session of Congress to confirm the Electoral College results. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is urging Republicans not to try to overturn the election, but not everyone is heeding him. Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri vows to join House Republicans in objecting to the state tallies.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has re-awoken to a profound truth: Rich, secure capitalists are the natural enemies of authoritarian regimes. In a hybrid autocratic-capitalist model, capitalism is the means to generate wealth, but power is the end goal. Successful capitalists naturally begin to demand that their personal and property rights be protected from authoritarian fiat. Capital in the hands of entrepreneurs is a political resource; it poses a threat to the implementation of centralized plans.Realizing this, the CCP has begun to assert control over the private sector by “installing . . . Party officials inside private firms” and having state-backed firms invest in private enterprises. In the absence of civil rights or an independent judiciary, “private” companies have no real independence from the government in China. Dissent and demands for civil rights are a threat to the regime and will be crushed.China’s shift from encouraging external investment and internal market competition toward treating capitalism as a threat has an obvious historical precedent. From 1921–1928, the Soviet Union instituted a policy of economic liberalization, which allowed for the privatization of agriculture, retail trade, and light industry. This partial and temporary return to a controlled and limited capitalism, known as the New Economic Policy (NEP), saved the Soviet economy from collapse and enabled Russia to modernize. But, in 1928, Stalin suddenly reversed course: He collectivized agriculture and liquidated the most prosperous farmers, thereby necessitating the frequent resort to grain imports, notably from the United States.China’s own experiment with economic liberalization began in 1981, when Premier Deng Xiaoping began to decentralize and privatize economic activity while continuing to assert the ultimate authority of the CCP. With liberalization, international businesses were invited into China. The price was high: the Chinese regime demanded that they work with and train local firms. This arrangement led to widespread theft of intellectual property, and soon enough, domestic competitors displaced their international rivals in the domestic market, often with the help of government subsidies. CCP-sponsored firms leveraged domestic dominance to enter the international marketplace, undercutting their competitors worldwide. International “partners” were then subjected to asymmetric regulatory action, excluding them from China. (Uber is one recent case of this phenomenon. There are countless others.)Now that the West is waking up to this game, the inflow of capital to China is slowing. Is China’s neo-mercantilist form of capitalism about to end? That seems unlikely; it is too far entrenched to be uprooted quickly. But the freedom of action accorded to Chinese companies and executives is already being dramatically curtailed as Xi Jinping asserts explicit political control over the economy. For example, in November, the CCP unexpectedly prevented the IPO of Ant Group, a company whose business model was considered misaligned with the goals of the party.International businesses that are heavily invested in the PRC must prepare for the worst: “Offers” of the sort that can’t be refused will be made to coerce the sale of onshore facilities and operations. Given the capital controls imposed on the movement of money out of China, it is likely that many Western investments in China will be confiscated as Deng’s experiment is wound down. Western competitors in the global market should finally recognize that their Chinese competitors are both at the mercy of the CCP and backed by instruments of state power.The central conceit of Chinese relations with the West has been that while political authority is monopolized by the CCP, China has a free-market economic system, and should be treated as a free-market trading partner. This was always a convenient fiction. But whatever distance might have existed in the past between economic and political activity in China has disappeared as the party takes control of nominally independent companies.A number of Chinese state-backed companies, including some in strategically important industries, have begun to default on their debt obligations. Will international creditors be allowed to claim the assets? Will the equity holders — in many cases the CCP or regional and local governments in China — be wiped out? If these companies are bailed out by the government, will domestic and foreign debt-holders be treated equally? Or will foreign creditors find their assets wiped out, while these companies continue operating under nominally new ownership and perhaps a new corporate brand? It seems a safe bet that foreign debts will be repudiated, either explicitly or implicitly. What was previously commercial debt now has the risks that are typically associated with sovereign debt, which can be canceled by government fiat. In short, a wave of write-downs is coming for Western businesses invested in China.Western businesses are not competitors operating in a free market in the PRC. As we wrote in a recent article, the CCP consistently treats western firms as adversaries to the sovereign interests of the PRC and uses all the tools at its disposal to target them. Western business executives need to prepare themselves for the very realistic possibility of extensive confiscation of Western assets in China in the near future. Before this happens, the U.S. government should pass legislation allowing Western companies to claim compensation from CCP-controlled entities in U.S. courts for the confiscation of assets. And since the CCP is asserting control over all Chinese companies, all of these companies should be treated as part of a single, government-controlled entity for purposes of litigation and regulation. When the bill comes due for capitalism in China, the West must be ready.– Michael Hochberg is a physicist who has founded four successful semiconductor and telecommunications startups. Leonard Hochberg is the Coordinator of the Mackinder Forum-U.S. and a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
Teaching unions have demanded the closure of every school in the country after Gavin Williamson caved in to pressure to shut all primaries in London. The Education Secretary was forced into a U-turn after councils threatened legal action over his decision to keep some schools in the capital open. The move raises the prospect that pupils in other areas could also be kept at home, as a leading union insisted that “what is right for London is right for the rest of the country”. Dr Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said the Government had corrected “an obviously nonsensical position”, adding that ministers must “do their duty” by closing all primary and secondary schools to contain the virus. The union is holding an emergency meeting on Saturday to discuss the “chaos which is engulfing our schools”. It left the Government’s policy on school reopenings in tatters just two days after Mr Williamson had resisted pressure from Cabinet colleagues to close schools on a region-by-region basis. The development comes after government scientific advisers warned that the spread of the new strain of coronavirus was unlikely to be halted if schools reopened, while an Imperial College study published on Friday said it may not be possible to “control transmission” if children go back to classes as planned. There were fresh warnings on Friday night that the closure of schools to all but vulnerable children and the children of key workers will prove disastrous for students’ education, with new questions about whether exams will go ahead as planned later in the year.
Iraqi explosives experts were working to defuse a large mine discovered on an oil tanker in the Persian Gulf and evacuate its crew, authorities said Friday. The Iraqi statement said the mine had been attached to a tanker rented from Iraq’s Oil Marketing Company SOMO that was refueling another vessel. Iraq’s naval forces were making “a great effort to accomplish the mission” safely, said Iraq’s Security Media Cell, which is affiliated with the country’s security forces.
China has rebuffed the latest offer of talks from Taiwan, saying the government was engaging in a “cheap trick” and provocation by seeking confrontation with China at every turn. Taiwan is ready to have “meaningful” talks with China as equals as long as they are willing to put aside confrontation, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Friday, offering another olive branch to Beijing in her New Year’s speech. China views the democratic and self-governed island as its own territory, and cut off a formal talks mechanism in 2016 after Tsai was first elected, viewing her as a separatist bent on a formal declaration of independence.
Emmanuel Macron used his new year’s message to accuse Brexit of having been born of a European malaise and “many lies and false promises”. In the French president’s annual address to the people of France, Mr Macron questioned the strength of Britain’s sovereignty following its departure from the European Union, which was officially completed at 11pm on New Year’s Eve. Giving the speech from the Elysee Palace, Paris, he said: “The United Kingdom remains our neighbour but also our friend and ally. This choice of leaving Europe, this Brexit, was the child of European malaise and lots of lies and false promises.” It comes after Downing Street recently accused Mr Macron of standing in the way of a deal because he was playing to his domestic audience ahead of elections in 18 months’ time.
Virginia state Sen. Ben Chafin has died after contracting the coronavirus, Senate Republicans said Friday. Chafin represented southwest Virginia and was from Russell County. A Republican, he was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2013 and then moved to the state Senate in 2014.
DUBAI (Reuters) -Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif urged U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday not to be “trapped” by an alleged Israeli plan to provoke a war through attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq. He issued the warning on the anniversary of the U.S. killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani by a drone strike in Iraq. No known Iran-backed groups have claimed responsibility.
Pakistan’s security forces arrested Saturday an alleged leader of the militant group that was behind the bloody 2008 Mumbai attacks in India. An official with the Pakistani counterterrorism police, Shakil Ahmed, said that Zaikur Rehman Lakhvi was seized in the eastern city of Lahore, on terrorism financing charges. Lakhvi is alleged to be a leader of the Lashker-e-Taiba group that organized the Mumbai attacks in 2008 that killed 166 people.
An Al-Qaeda affiliate has claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack against a Russian base in northeast Syria, in what is believed to be their first operation outside of the northwest of the country. Two men had parked an explosives-laden pickup truck outside the military base in the Tal Salman area, north of Raqqa, before fleeing, said UK-based war monitor, Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR). “It’s the first such direct attack against a Russian base in northeast Syria,” said SOHR’s Rami Abdel Rahman. Hurras al-Din released a statement on social media claiming responsibility for the attack. The group very rarely operates outside of Idlib, the last rebel bastion in the country, and has not been publicly claiming or advertising operations since it suffered losses in summer clashes with another al-Qaeda offshoot in Idlib, Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (HTS). According to Aymenn J Al-Tamimi, an independent analyst focusing on jihadist groups, the attack is believed to be Hurras al-Din’s first venture outside of northwest Syria and an attempt to “maintain relevance with the idea of continuing the jihad in Syria.” Insurgent attacks in this area are most commonly associated with the Islamic State Group. Russia has repeatedly accused rebels in Idlib of attacking its Hmeimim airbase with drones, which in the southwest of the country is far closer to Idlib than Tal Salman. Car bomb attacks are much rarer. There was no immediate report of the incident by Russian forces. SOHR said it caused injuries, but did not give an exact number. The attack was in part of a broader area that is controlled by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) but is overseen by the Russians as part of several deals broked with rebel backer Turkey to stop their incursion into the Kurdish northeast of the country. The base targetted is south of Ain Issa, which is in the midst of near daily clashes between the Kurdish-led forces and the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army, with Moscow pushing for the town to be handed over to Bashar al Assad’s regime forces. Moscow joined Syria’s war as Assad’s main ally in 2015 with its air force heavily backing Syrian regime forces.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Senator Mitt Romney on Friday urged the U.S. government to immediately enlist veterinarians, combat medics and others in an all-out national campaign to administer coronavirus vaccinations and slow a surging rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. The Utah Republican, who ran unsuccessfully for president as his party’s nominee in 2012, called for greater action as the Trump administration fell far short of its goal of vaccinating 20 million Americans with a first of two required doses by the end of 2020. As of Friday, the first day of the new year, an estimated 2.8 million vaccine doses have actually been given, mostly to front-line healthcare workers as well as staff and residents of nursing facilities.
Controversy over a segregation-era “Negroes” sign in a Texas courthouse has taken an unusual turn after a top county official was identified as a suspect in a criminal investigation into the historical sign being vandalized. The sign in a courthouse in Waxahachie, a city of 36,000 about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Dallas, drew attention in November when a Black constable spoke out over being moved to a shared office near it. That issue was resolved amicably when Ellis County Judge Todd Little gave Constable Curtis Polk Jr. another office.
Bitcoin Hits $30K for 1st Time Ever; HODLers Get a New Year’s Gift
Home Bitcoin Bitcoin Hits $30K for 1st Time Ever; HODLers Get a New Year’s…
The price of bitcoin (BTC) crossed $30,000 for the first time ever on the second morning (NY Time) of the new year after setting an all-time high the day before, all in all starting 2021 in notable fashion following a remarkable year – and month – by the leading cryptocurrency.
Billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya Says He Will ‘Buy the Hamptons’ When Bitcoin Hits $150,000
Venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya is mapping out his plans for when the price of Bitcoin reaches $150,000.
The founder and CEO of Social Capital, who also serves as chairman of the Virgin Galactic board, says he will acquire the summer destination of choice for affluent New Yorkers and transform it into a place that serves a greater good.
“When BTC gets to $150,000, I will buy The Hamptons and convert it to sleepaway camps for kids, working farms and low-cost housing.”
When asked what he will do once Bitcoin hits $400,000, the billionaire venture capitalist reveals his next focus area will be the red planet.
In a recent interview, the billionaire venture capitalist said he purchased 1 million BTC in 2010 for about $80 per coin. Palihapitiya hasn’t confirmed whether or not he still owns all of his BTC, but as of writing, Bitcoin is priced at $29,256, according to CoinMarketCap – making 1 million BTC worth a staggering $29 billion.
In a 2017 CNBC interview, the billionaire venture capitalist disclosed that, at some point, he and two of his friends possessed 5% of Bitcoin’s entire float.
During the 2017 Bitcoin rally, Palihapitiya predicted the price of the leading cryptocurrency would reach six-figure levels in less than half a decade and seven-figure levels in two decades.
Palihapitiya’s comments arrive as Bitcoin records an all-time high of $29,458 on New Year’s Eve, according to CoinMarketCap.
From its current levels, Bitcoin would need to grow by over 400% to reach Palihapitiya’s Hamptons price target.
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