Elizabeth Warrens Opioid Plan Welcomed In Area Flooded With Millions Of Prescription Pills

KERMIT, W.Va. ― Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) outlined her plan to tackle the opioid epidemic during a campaign stop Friday in a small West Virginia town where many attendees were just happy to see a politician show up.

Kermit, with a population of 400, has been held up as an example of the nation’s opioid epidemic since it was reported that nearly 9 million hydrocodone pills were shipped to a small pharmacy in the town by the McKesson Corporation in the course of two years. Locals and people from the surrounding area gathered at the town’s fire and rescue station to hear Warren’s proposals, eager that someone from Washington was willing to listen to their concerns.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) received cheers from the crowd in Kermit, West Virginia, as she spoke about unions, teachers

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) received cheers from the crowd in Kermit, West Virginia, as she spoke about unions, teachers and her opioid policy proposal.

Jada Hunter, 74, is a retired principal and president of the West Virginia chapter of the American Association of University Women. She said that after watching her neighborhood “change for the worst,” she’s just happy to see someone put forth a plan to address the opioid problem.

“Too often people in our area feel neglected,” she said. “To me, just the fact that she has [an opioid policy plan], that’s enough for me.”

Warren is the second Democratic presidential contender to roll out such a plan. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) unveiled a proposal to combat drug addiction and mental health issues last week. 

Durand Warren, 46, the director of behavioral services at the Williamson Health and Wellness Center, said that if someone wants to bring money to help fight the area’s opioid crisis, “I don’t care what party you are.”

“I don’t care who you support,” said Warren, who’s not related to the senator. “My main concern is keeping people alive.”

Wayne Williamson, 42, is a captain at the fire station, which is staffed by volunteers. He said Friday’s event wasn’t confirmation that anyone who worked at the fire department would vote for Warren, and expressed disappointment that a small group of Trump supporters protested outside Warren’s event.

“I wish people would just let these candidates come speak, do their thing, and let them go on to their next stop,” he said, noting that “this is Trump country and we know it.”

“Not only is she a presidential contender, she is a United States senator, and to get somebody from that forum to come down to our little town and be seen, you know, it just kind of puts us on the map and lets us know that people are out there in the big seats that know where we’re at now,” he said.

A cardboard cutout of President Donald Trump stands at a corner near Warren's event in Kermit on Friday. A small group of Tru

A cardboard cutout of President Donald Trump stands at a corner near Warren’s event in Kermit on Friday. A small group of Trump supporters stood nearby, cheering as passing cars honked in support.

Williamson said if Warren’s opioid policy proposal becomes a reality, he hopes funds will help small towns like Kermit build in-bed facilities for addicts.

“If you can save five out of 20 people, that’s five, you know? As it is right now, you’re saving zero,” Williamson said, citing a lack of rehab facilities where people are comfortable going for help.

Dr. J.W. Endicott, who lives in Kermit, agreed that more treatment facilities could help patients in the area, especially those with financial burdens. He said he’s referred patients to outpatient clinics that are 30 miles away or more, which can be difficult for people who struggle to pay for food, vehicles and basic living expenses.

Warren received cheers when she told the crowd her plan would largely bypass state government to get funding to smaller communities like Kermit.

“To deal with watching your friends and neighbors die from something like this ― this isn’t right,” she said. “We’ve got to go community by community to fix this.”

An Instagram With No Likes Could Have A Big Impact On Mental Health

One recent morning, Sarah Roberts, a 22-year-old writer from Ottawa, Canada, logged onto Instagram and saw this notification at the very top of her feed:

Scrolling down, Roberts saw the effects of the change: Gone were the 500,000+ likes Chris Pratt would generally get on a random photo of his lambs (#farmlife), and gone, too, was the modest, lower-digit “like” count she’d get on a hiking photo. (Gone-ish, anyway ― on the backend, an uploader can see who liked their pic and manually count the names, if they’re so inclined.)

Roughly two weeks into the test, Roberts said she could get used to a like-less Instagram.

“Personally, I love not seeing the like count,” she told HuffPost. “It feels a bit weird to say, but I’ve stopped comparing myself to bigger accounts. I’ve also been more personal with the things I actually like versus what everyone else is liking. This feels like more of what Instagram should be rather than an advertisement of ourselves on our page.”

Roberts is among the Canadian users testing a version of the platform that “hides” likes in order to emphasize the content itself. During Facebook’s F8 developer conference late last month, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri explained that, while followers will still be able to like and comment on your photos or videos, the outside world won’t be privy to the exact count of people who’ve liked a post.

This kinder, gentler version of Instagram is inspired by the app’s wildly successful Instagram stories, which, like Snapchat, stay up for only 24 hours and don’t outwardly show who’s seen the post.

Instagram head Adam Mosseri introduces new changes to Instagram, including a test to "hide" likes for Canadian users.

Instagram head Adam Mosseri introduces new changes to Instagram, including a test to “hide” likes for Canadian users.

Given Instagram’s recent increased efforts to prioritize mental health ― Instagram Stories were created in part to alleviate the pressure of receiving likes ― the test makes a lot of sense. At F8, Mosseri said that this feature was set up in order to create a “less pressurized environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves.” (Likes can also create a false sense of engagement, given the number of bots and services that exist to send fake likes to posts.)

Even better for Instagram’s bottom line ― i.e time spent on site ― Canadians we spoke to said they’re posting more, without the built-up anxiety they used to feel about how the post would perform.

Cam, a 20-year-old on the east coast of Canada, said the test has totally changed the way he interacts with the app. Like many of us, he sees his feed as an extension of himself, so naturally, he gets a little bummed when something he posts doesn’t get many likes. He’s even deleted posts if they’re particularly low performing.

“This change gives people the liberty to curate their profiles the way they want them to look as opposed to the way they feel will get the most likes,” he said. “I think this could help a lot of users’ self-image.”

Without the likes, Cam’s been more carefree about posting. The platform feels less like a popularity contest between Instagram influencers with carefully curated aesthetics and average users who use their page to share glimpses of their daily lives with family and friends, he said.

“But I’m sure a lot of people will be upset if the change goes through across all countries, frankly, because a lot of people form their sense of self-worth from the amount of likes they get,” he added.

It’s an interesting bind for the social media giant. Much has been written about how the would-be change could affect content creators and influencers, for whom likes are the bread and butter of their work. (Their tweets might not be safe, either; Twitter, too, is experimenting with hiding likes and retweets with its prototype app “Twttr.”)

But for the rest of us ― the majority of Instagram’s users without blue check marks or massive followings ― a more relevant question might be: Given the negative effects “like” culture has on our mental health, could a like-free Instagram make us a lot less thirsty for approval and more mentally sound?

A report released last month by the American Psychological Association said that rates of depression, psychological distress and suicidal thoughts and actions have risen significantly among people 26 and younger, with some of the highest increases among women. They linked the rise to increased time spent on social media, among other factors.

And a few years back, a Royal Society for Public Health study in the UK suggested that “social media may be fueling a mental health crisis” in young people locked in an unwinnable game of compare and contrast.

But the researchers in the UK study also noted that the sites could be used as a tool for good; Instagram, for example, was found to have a positive effect on self-expression and self-identity. This trial run could emphasize that side of the app, said Devorah Heitner, author of Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World.

“Kids can get very hung up on the numbers with both likes and followers,” she told HuffPost. “But if Instagram’s test shows kids they can laugh at themselves and have some perspective on their own hunger for status and approval (which are deeply human), that’s a positive strategy that I would encourage.”

While some research has shown that social media use increases depression and loneliness, other research suggests that it’s not so much about the time people spend on social media but how they use it, said Hannah Schacter, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Southern California who studies the digital wellbeing of minors.

“Instagram likes can be a powerful way of fulfilling teenagers’ desire for social belonging and approval,” she said. “On the other hand, some adolescents may be highly preoccupied with comparing themselves to others and monitoring their popularity.”

There’s a fine line between feeling yourself (and quietly basking in all the fire emojis in the comment section) and going full-blown analytics mode to see how that selfie or vacay photo performed compared to your previous posts or your friends’ or Instagram models’ pics. (A helpful tip modified from digital minimalist Theodore Roosevelt: Comparison is the thief of joy, stay on your own page!)

“You could definitely see how teens who evaluate their own self-worth exclusively based on Instagram feedback would feel distressed when a photo they posted only gets 20 likes as opposed to their typical 50,” Schacter said.

“A like-less Instagram might boost self-esteem, but getting approval from other people in the form of likes and comments is partly why people keep returning to social media again and again… If the user experience doesn’t include visible likes and the addictive rush of dopamine when they start come in, log-ons could take a hit.”

Financially, parting with the like metric of success is a double edged sword for Instagram, said Guy Kawasaki, the chief evangelist at Canva who made a name for himself at Apple in the 1980s during the launch the Macintosh computer.

It might boost self-esteem to do away with front-facing “likes,” but as Kawasaki pointed out, getting approval from other people in the form of those “likes” and comments is partly why people keep returning to social media again and again.

Will log-ons start to trail off if the user experience doesn’t include visible likes and the addictive rush of dopamine when they start to roll in? (Dopamine is a feel-good chemical produced by our brains that motivates us to repeat evolutionary beneficial behavior. The chemical is released when we take a bite of something good, when we have sex, after we exercise, and, more relevant here, when we have successful social interactions, like receiving a “like” on Instagram or Facebook.)

“Is Instagram trying to reduce engagement and provide no indication of whether something is popular?” he said. “As a user, it seems to me that the number of likes is some indication of the quality of the post. Visible likes mean you can compare your own posts to others. If Seth Godin’s posts always get 1,000 likes and yours get five, you know you’re doing something wrong.”

And though likes aren’t the only metric that brands value when it comes to partnering with influencers and creators (follower growth, click-through rates, story engagement and video completion also matter), likes will always be the highest valued.

“Doing away with likes is a wonderful idea, in the same way that detaching from phones and devices throughout the day is a good idea. In practice, however, I doubt it will catch on,” said Max Emerson, an LA-based writer and director with over 1 million followers. (Clearly, he’s not just posting quote cards; he’s a writer who knows how to play the Insta game: His feed is full of shirtless selfies and dog pics.)

The whole Facebook/Instagram/social media model is predicated on the product being addictive, and double taps are essential to that.

“Them removing their most tantalizing feature would be like a casino removing the flashing lights, high oxygen saturation and jackpot announcements,” he joked. “There’s no way in hell the powers that be will eliminate engagement counters on a large scale.”

True, the test may just be lip service to a wider reckoning Instagram and its parent company Facebook are having about their purpose in the world; in January, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company would start focusing on “time well spent,” a phrase he defined as “a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s wellbeing.”

Either way, the trial run is a great way to talk about and encourage more mindful usage of the app. If you find the idea of a “like-” free Instagram mentally liberating, it might behoove you to take a step back and consider how much headspace you’re giving the app in your life.

“The thing I remind myself and others is that there will never be enough likes, followers or validation,” Emerson said. “Social media engagement is digital cocaine, so the most productive thing to do is physically disengage for various periods throughout the day.”

Plus, getting hung up on outside validation and likes often dims your authenticity, “which ironically, can lower your engagement,” Emerson added.

“Always keep in mind that all of this social media nonsense is an imaginary thing we created from thin air only a couple years ago,” he said. “Try not to take it so seriously.”

Sadiq Khan Says Trump Is Not Worthy Of A State Banquet With The Queen

Sadiq Khan has suggested that Donald Trump should not be honoured with a state banquet hosted by the Queen, when he visits Britain in June.

It is the latest blow in a long-running personal feud between the Mayor of London and the US President.

Khan told LBC radio’s James O’Brien: “History tells us only two presidents have had a state visit and I don’t think President Trump is in the same class as those two.

“It’s possible to have a working relationship without having a state banquet.”

In 2003 the Queen hosted a state visit for President George W Bush, and again in 2011 for President Barack Obama. 

Last year, Khan demanded a showdown with the president after Trump singled him out for criticism over tackling terrorism in the UK. Trump accused Khan of “doing a terrible job” and Labour MP joined the melee by accusing the president of being a “racist” who “hates that London chose a Muslim mayor.”

Trump’s upcoming state visit is highly controversial and is expected to attract mass demonstrations – as did his UK trip in 2017.

During that trip, Khan defended the flying of a blimp which depicted Trump as an obese, angry orange baby over the capital – something the president has repeatedly complained about since.

Trump will hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Theresa May at Downing Street during the visit from June 3-5, and will take part in commemorations in Portsmouth marking the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

New Complaint Hits Repeat Offender Kellyanne Conway For Hatch Act Violations

The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has filed a complaint alleging that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway is illegally campaigning while she’s supposed to be working as a government official — again.

Conway touted President Donald Trump while attacking Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) in her official capacity on the grounds of the White House, the group complained to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel in a letter dated Wednesday. 

Conway’s activities violate the Hatch Act, which forbids any federal official from using their position for partisan campaigning, the watchdog group said. The Office of Special Counsel (a government agency that enforces the Hatch Act and has no connection to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation) warned Conway about previous Hatch Act violations last year.

Conway “violated the Hatch Act in two television interviews” in 2017 with comments about candidates in Alabama’s special election in her “official capacity,” the Office of Special Counsel said in March 2018. The findings were forwarded to President Donald Trump to take “appropriate disciplinary action.” The White House wrist-slapped Conway with a warning. 

Earlier in 2017, Conway violated federal ethics rules when she urged Fox News viewers to buy Ivanka Trump’s products. For that lawbreaking, she was “counseled” by the White House.

The latest complaints involve four recent television interviews in which Conway attacked Democratic presidential candidates. CNN host Michael Smerconish, who interviewed her in one of the cases, later said on his SiriusXM radio program that he thought at the time that Conway was violating the Hatch Act.

“I had been told that you really can’t address particular Democratic candidates with Kellyanne Conway [in the interview} because there will be a Hatch Act issue,” Smerconish recalled. “She’s on the payroll of the White House; she can’t be partisan in her comments. So I was a little taken aback when … she pivots and wants to talk about Biden and talk about how gloomy and creepy and dark she found his message to be.”

MSNBC’s “The Last Word” host Lawrence O’Donnell last week showed a video of Conway in one of the interviews, and warned: “She’s going to need a lawyer” because she was “illegally campaigning against Joe Biden for Donald Trump while holding her position on the federal payroll.”

The complaint said Conway’s recent lawbreaking is “even more egregious,” given her previous Hatch Act violations.

“In short, Ms. Conway is a repeat offender and it seems clear that neither prior guidance by the White House Counsel’s office nor prior admonition by OSC have deterred her from breaking the law,” the complaint said.

The new Hatch Act violations are in “no way exhaustive” of Conway’s lawbreaking, the ethics group said. 

Richard Painter, a former senior ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration, said Thursday that Conway likely again violated the Hatch Act by posting a photo of herself on her Twitter page in front of the White House holding a crossed-out “collusion” sign. 

The Hatch Act prohibits “executive branch employees” from using their “official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.” Violations can result in removal from office, disbarment from federal service, suspension, a letter of reprimand or a fine of up to $1,000.

Musk Vandalizes Sex Scandal Space Bro Bezos Mooncraft Blue Balls

By CCN: Elon Musk has just proved to Jeff Bezos that being the world’s richest man doesn’t offer immunity against below-the-belt jokes. This was demonstrated on Twitter after the Amazon founder and CEO, as well as the founder of space firm Blue Origins, launched a mock-up of a new mooncraft designed to ferry humans and equipment to the lunar surface by 2024.

In the tweet, Musk demonstrated that while the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission recently limited what he can communicate on social media, it certainly hasn’t castrated his ability to tell lewd jokes.

Multitalented Elon Musk Has Sketchy Photoshopping Skills

In the tweet fired off on Thursday evening, the Tesla boss as well as CEO of space exploration firm SpaceX edited an image on the Blue Origins’ mooncraft known as Blue Moon effectively changing the name to Blue Balls. To cap it off, Musk advised Bezos to ‘stop teasing’.

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Elon Musk calls Jeff Bezos’ spacecraft ‘Blue Balls’ | Source: Twitter

Bezos was recently embroiled in a sex scandal. This was after an extra-marital affair with a TV star was reported by the National Enquirer. There were various twists and turns as the scandal unraveled including the tabloid’s failed attempt to publish nudes of Bezos. The Amazon CEO and his wife of 24 years are currently in the process of divorce.

Musk Taking Shots at Bezos? This Is Not Virgin Territory

This is not the first time that Musk is taking shots at Bezos. Early last month Musk branded Bezos a ‘copycat’ on Twitter. This was after Amazon announced it was sending satellites into low earth orbit to provide broadband to underserved areas. Fourteen months earlier, SpaceX had launched its own version of internet satellites via its Falcon 9 rocket.

Though SpaceX has dominated the public eye for the past two decades, Blue Origins is nearly two years older. SpaceX was started on May 6, 2002 while Blue Origins was founded on September 8, 2000.

Bad Bile or Just Regular Tech Bro Rivalry?

Musk has also at times tried to play the contempt card whenever the topic of Bezos is brought up. In October 2017 during a BBC interview, Musk didn’t sound too thrilled to be told he was competing with Bezos. When told ‘you are competing with the likes of Jeff Bezos’ in the space sector, Musk retorted ‘Jeff Who?’

Elon Musk – Not Your Regular Detroit Car CEO

As an entrepreneur and business head, Musk has regularly demonstrated he doesn’t take himself too seriously. A case in point is farting sounds software update that Tesla rolled out late last year. It would be inconceivable to imagine traditional carmaker CEO in Detroit spending company resources on such a feature and going on to publicize it.

The farting sounds had all the hallmarks of Musk’s in-jokes as their names betrayed. One of the names given to the fart sounds include Short Shorts Ripper. This was possibly in reference to Tesla short sellers, a group Elon Musk has declared an aversion for.

Other farting sounds were named after companies Musk has founded or products unveiled by his startups. This includes the Boring Fart (a reference to The Boring Company), Neurastink (in honor of neurotechnology company Neuralink). The Falcon Heavy farting sound is obviously in honor of SpaceX’s Falcon rockets.

The fart noises in the Tesla cars, however, do not produce a smell. Yet. But Jeff Bezos is definitely feeling the stink with the latest Musk burn.

Binance CEO Reveals New Details of Damaging $44 Million Bitcoin Hack

By CCN: On May 10, Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, released a security incident update regarding the firm’s loss of 7,000 bitcoin.

Following the high-profile security breach of the exchange during which sophisticated tools and methods were used to steal $44 million from Binance, the firm swiftly revamped its security measures and practices.

Binance, bitcoinsBinance, bitcoins

7074 bitcoins stolen from Binance | Source: Blockchain.com

“Rest assured, our team is making progress. We are taking this opportunity to significantly revamp some of our security measures, procedures, and practices. With the goal of resuming deposits and withdrawals as soon as possible, some of the changes will be done within the window of this week, and many further changes will be made afterward,” Zhao said.

In the near-term, Zhao emphasized that Binance will cooperate with major crypto exchanges and blockchain analytics firms to trace the movement of stolen funds and attempt to freeze the funds should they land on crypto exchanges.

Can Lost Bitcoin be Traced?

With the hiring of Elliptic earlier this month to improve compliance efforts and security measures, Binance brought the total number of partner blockchain analytics firms to three, more any other major crypto exchange.

Companies like Elliptic and CipherTrace utilize the public blockchain networks of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin to trace suspicious transactions and funds that are linked to criminal activities.

If hackers move the stolen bitcoin to other crypto exchanges to convert to fiat or to other cryptocurrencies, it would be possible for blockchain analytics firms to trace those transactions and to work with crypto exchanges to freeze them at an attempt of recovery.

Zhao said that Binance is currently working with a dozen of security teams to track down the hackers and the stolen funds, and with exchanges to freeze funds.

He noted:

We are working with a dozen or so industry-leading security teams to help improve our security as well as track down the hackers. Many security and blockchain analytics firms are actively helping us track the stolen funds. We are also working closely with many exchanges and other services to ensure stolen funds are frozen if received. It is already sort of an alliance, and we have some ideas to contribute more on this front after we get past this incident.

As Reuters reported, stolen funds from Binance have already started to move and the 7,000 BTC are now reportedly being managed by seven different addresses.

Coinfirm, a blockchain analytics firm based in London, emphasized that until the hackers attempt to cash out the stolen bitcoin, the identity and the location of the hackers will likely remain unknown.

Several security teams and experts in the crypto industry have offered to assist Binance in recovering its funds including the widely utilized cybersecurity software McAfee creator John McAfee.

Previously, CCN reported that Binance has said it will cover the loss with corporate funds, primarily using its Secure Asset Fund For Users (SAFU), an insurance fund the firm created last year.

Will the Incident Strengthen the Exchange Over the Long Run?

According to Zhao, despite the negative effect the security breach could have on the short-term outlook of the industry, the incident could strengthen the exchange in the long run.

“We will continue to fight for all of us, the community, against hackers and people with ill intentions. I believe this incident, while damaging us now, will actually make us far stronger and more secure in the long run,” Zhao said.

It will also likely serve as an alarm for many exchanges to prepare for an unlikely event of a security breach with proper insurance and infrastructure in place.

FBI Dismantles Deep Dot Web in Seismic Dark Market Platform Bust

By CCN: The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has busted several people accused of running the Deep Dot Web, a website that provides access to illegal dark web marketplaces and websites. According to several reports, the feds worked in partnership with Europol and law enforcement authorities in Germany and the Netherlands over a period of two years, before making a number of arrests in Israel, Germany, France, Netherlands and Brazil.

The FBI has taken down Deep Dot Web and made several arrests| Source: Deep Dot Web

The case has a significant resemblance to that of the famous Silk Road dark web platform, which provided a marketplace for everything from illegal substances and contraband to stolen credit card information to contract killers. Unlike Silk Road, which was tightly controlled by founder Russ Ulbricht and a small handful of lieutenants, Dark Dot Web was an altogether more expansive conspiracy, providing paying users with indexed and categorized access to illegal dark net websites – complete with ratings and reviews – without actually hosting or providing any of the illegal services.

Deep Dot Web’s Unique Operating Style

Unlike conventional dark web marketplaces like Wall Street Market and Silk Road, which made money by charging commissions on the illegal transactions they hosted, Deep Dot Web’s operating principle was simpler and more fireproof. Instead of hosting the transactions or offering the services, DDW simply provided referral links to the dark web marketplaces, which users could only access through .onion domains over the Tor Network. Some have compared it to The Pirate Bay in that it provided broadly reliable frontend access to illegal content and services that would otherwise be very difficult for ordinary internet users to locate.

Authorities claim that the site’s owners made millions of dollars using this criminally innovative ‘picks and shovels’ approach to illegal online trading. Since the raids took place and the site was busted, its homepage now displays a ‘seized’ notice as authorities prepare to go into potentially drawn-out multi-jurisdiction legal proceedings that may even involve extradition at some point.

DDW’s shutdown came as part of a wider action against dark web marketplaces that also saw popular darknet trade site Wall Street Market go down. Before it went down, WSM allegedly had over a million user accounts and more than 5,000 active vendors offering everything from Fentanyl to ransomware in exchange for bitcoin and Monero, with the platform receiving a cut of approximately 6 percent of every transaction. Under the power of the German Federal Criminal Police (Bundeskriminalamt) and a joint team of law enforcement agencies from the Netherlands, U.S. and Finland, three German nationals, Tibo Lousee, Jonathan Kalla and Klaus-Martin Frost were arrested on May 3.

Dramatic Week of Arrests

According to the Times of Israeltwo Israeli suspects aged 34 and 35, and resident in Ashdod and Tel-Aviv respectively were arrested as part of the operation on Monday, May 6. No further information was provided about the suspects’ identities or any seizures made during the arrests.

Prior to WSM’s takedown, it was one of the largest remaining dark net trade platforms, having absorbed users from several smaller ones that were busted by the cops or exited the scene. The February takedown of Finnish darknet platform Valhalla by Finnish authorities, in particular, swelled the ranks of those doing illegal business on WSM, which made it a prize for law enforcement.

The double-bust of Wall Street Market and Deep Dot Web within 4 days of each other represents one of the most successful weeks for law enforcement in the somewhat nascent world of dark web-assisted illegal trade. Regardless of whatever progress authorities make, it seems inevitable that more individuals with high technical abilities and low ethical barriers will continue to build Wild West marketplaces on the dark web. For now however,  following the biggest such bust since Silk Road, they are probably entitled to give themselves a pat on the back.

Dow Frantically Searches for Silver Lining After China Shocks White House

By CCN: The Dow and broader U.S. stock market frantically searched for a silver lining Thursday after China threatened harsh retaliation in response to a sizable tariff increase by the White House that could be implemented in the next 24 hours.

Dow, S&P 500 Extend Brutal Slide

All of Wall Street’s major indexes declined sharply through the morning session, reflecting a brutal pre-market for Dow futures. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by as much as 450 points before paring losses. It closed down 138.97 points, or 0.5%, at 25,828.36.

Dow Jones Industrial Average stems decline after a brutal morning session. | Chart via Yahoo Finance.

The broad S&P 500 Index of large-cap stocks declined 0.3% to settle at 2,870.72. Most major sectors reported declines, with materials companies shouldering the heaviest losses.

Meanwhile, the technology-focused Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.4% to 7,910.59.

The CBOE Volatility Index, commonly known as the VIX, flashed a dire warning sign on the bull market Thursday. The so-called “fear index” surged more than 20% and peaked at 23.38, its highest since early January. It would later give back all of its gains to settle in the low-19 region.

A VIX reading in the 20-25 range is consistent with the historical average. Anything above that paints an overwhelmingly bearish picture for stocks.

China Retaliates Against Trump Tariff Threat

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U.S.-China trade negotiations sour at the worst possible time, placing intense pressure on the Dow. | Source: AP Photo / Andy Wong

China has taken a hard line in its ongoing trade negotiations with the United States after President Trump threatened to impose higher import duties on Chinese goods.

According to The Wall Street Journal, China’s hardened stance surprised White House officials at a critical juncture in negotiations.

Trump’s Sunday Twitter tirade, where he threatened to impose import duties of 25% on $325 billion of Chinese goods, came after one of his top trade advisers complained that Beijing had reneged on a trade deal. China says its tone changed because the U.S. appeared ready to make important concessions.

On Thursday, a Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesperson issued the following statement, which was conveyed via the official Xinhua News Agency:

“The escalation of trade friction is not in the interest of the people of the two countries and the people of the world … The Chinese side deeply regrets the action. If the U.S. tariff measures are implemented, China will have to take necessary countermeasures.”

Click here for a real-time Dow Jones Industrial Average chart.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Trump Insult Smacks of Hypocrisy

By CCN: Following a New York Times report that President Trump lost over $1 billion between 1985 and 1994, hypocritical Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are pointing their fingers at Trump and labeling him a #billiondollarloser.

AOC Wastes No Time Jumping on the ‘Hate Trump’ Bandwagon

A breathless AOC rushed to Twitter to warn Americans that Trump engages in “shady” activities to recover his losses. This led to another push for the release of Trump’s tax returns.

However, the idea that the NYT’s report on Trump’s decades-old finances makes his current tax returns “required viewing” is pure folly.

Let’s ignore the fact that no rule exists requiring members of public office to release their tax returns. Let’s also ignore that, in the past, presidential candidates regularly declined to make their finances tabloid fodder.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is an Expert in ‘Shady’ Politics

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her democratic socialist comrades need to look at themselves before pointing fingers at the commander-in-chief. Ocasio-Cortez thinks Trump could do something “shady,” yet AOC has been surrounded by shadiness since the early days of her campaign.

Two months after announcing her candidacy in 2017, the state of New York filed a warrant against AOC, claiming she still owed more than $1,800 in corporate taxes for a publishing business she started in 2012. A representative of the congresswoman issued a statement soon after, saying that the taxes would be paid, yet at press time, the bill remains untouched by the congresswoman, who previously proposed a 70 percent tax hike to fund her Green New Deal.

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez finds herself embroiled in an impressive number of scandals for a political rookie. | Source: REUTERS / Joshua Roberts

In addition, the congresswoman and her chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti were under investigation by the FEC after Chakrabarti allegedly funneled over $1 million of AOC’s campaign funds into two of his companies.

She also faces scrutiny from both the FEC and the OCE regarding allegedly illicit payments made to her boyfriend Riley Roberts and his use of a mail.house.gov email address despite not holding a position on her staff.

Notably, Ocasio-Cortez failed to elaborate on the sort of “shady” tactics Trump would use to dig himself out of his supposed “hole.” That’s unfortunate. Given the growing number of scandals that already encircle the rookie legislator, she’s well on her way to becoming an expert in backroom politics.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to, CCN.

Litecoin Hastens Mainstream Adoption with Blockchain Startup Travala

By CCN: With the exception of bitcoin, Litecoin is arguably doing more than any other coin for mainstream adoption. Most recently, Litecoin Creator Charlie Lee has inked a partnership with Travala.com, a blockchain-based hotel booking platform. Even though Travala.com is another blockchain company, it’s a play on the travel industry and represents a use case that can serve as a model for future deals. While Expedia has shied away from accepting bitcoin, it could change its tune if Travala.com’s Litecoin payments take off.

Charlie Lee stated in the announcement:

“We are excited to work with Travala.com to make it easier for Litecoin users to #TravelWithLitecoin. Nothing aids mass adoption more than real-world use cases, and the opportunity to use a global currency like Litecoin to travel around the world is a powerful one.”

As a result of the deal with Travala.com, travelers can slash 40% of their hotel costs by paying with Litecoin on Travala.com. To kick things off, Travala.com is partnering with the Litecoin Foundation for the upcoming Litecoin Summit, which will unfold during Las Vegas’ Blockchain Week in the fall. Incidentally, the blockchain-based travel startup is also the official partner of the Bitcoin 2019 event. It’s not as though customers paying with crypto have to compromise, either. Travala.com has a portfolio of nearly 600,000 properties spanning hundreds of countries and territories.

Followers of both projects cheered the development on Twitter, including one person waiting to see Charlie Lee tweet about Travala.com.

Litecoin Price Is on Fire

The LTC price is actually trading lower today in the mixed cryptocurrency market. But the fifth-biggest coin has more than doubled its value year-to-date. It’s a reflection of a new-and-improved Litecoin Foundation that is taking control of its destiny even if the project is decentralized.

Litecoin, LTCLitecoin, LTC

The Litecoin price has more than doubled year-to-date. | Source: CoinMarketCap


Litecoin’s Amazingly Lower Fees

Charlie Lee has a vision for Litecoin, one that includes a faster and cheaper cryptocurrency vs. bitcoin. He’s managed to do that and in the latest software update kicked things up a notch. The release of Litecoin Core v0.17.1 results in a lower default transaction fee, which users cheered on social media. According to the announcement:

“The default minimum transaction fee -mintxfee has been lowered to 0.0001 LTC/kB after relaxing the minimum relay and dust relay fee rates in prior releases.”

A couple of users were disappointed with the timing of the announcement, which had the unfortunate overlap with the Binance bitcoin hack. Charlie Lee, however, wasn’t deterred, saying:

“Why would we stop working? Why do developers need to time the market with releases?”

From what Lee’s hinted at, there are more Litecoin Foundation partnerships in the pipeline.