Saturday, January 30, 2016

Capital Controls Are Coming

This is a timely notice that we are not immune to the many failed currency practices seen all around the globe.  What makes it particularly timely is that ten percent of the global economy is in the midst of literally disappearing.  By this, i mean the oil industry which has lowered its effective strike price from $80.00 to $30.00 and in the process completely flooded the market with full oil tankers and full storage.  The natural knock off is that a huge portion of bank assets are now potentially under water or at least compromised.
In the meantime all leaders are literally oblivious and are really hoping that a rebounding business cycle will revers this situation.  Except that could be two years out.  The banking system has gone to the wall and now is facing real price contraction.  All this means an awful lot of credit that cannot be deployed.
As this writer points out, all this leads to a real global depression and to capital controls as leaders attempt to bring the monster under control.  At least that is what history tells us.
Capital Controls Are Coming
The carnage always comes by surprise, often on an otherwise ordinary Saturday morning…
The government declares a surprise bank holiday. It shuts all the banks. It imposes capital controls to stop citizens from taking their money out of the country. Cash-sniffing dogs, which make drug-sniffing dogs look friendly, show up at airports.
At that point, the government is free to help itself to as much of the country’s wealth as it wants. It’s an all-you-can-steal buffet.
This story has recently played out in Greece, Cyprus, Argentina, and Iceland. And those are only a few recent examples. It’s happened in scores of other countries throughout history. And I think it’s inevitable in the U.S.
I believe the U.S. dollar will lose its role as the world’s premier reserve currency. When that happens, capital controls are sure to follow.
This is why it’s crucial to your financial future to understand what capital controls are, how they are used, and what you can do to protect yourself.
Why Governments Impose Capital Controls
Think of the government as a thief trying to steal your wallet as you (understandably) try to run away. With capital controls, the thief is trying to block all the exits so you can’t reach safe ground.
A government only uses capital controls when it’s desperate…when it can no longer borrow, inflate the currency, tax, or steal money in one of the “normal” ways.
In most cases, governments use capital controls in severe crises. Think financial and banking collapses, wars, or chronic economic problems. In other cases, they’re just a way to control people. It’s much more difficult to leave a country when you can’t take your money with you.
Regardless of the initial catalyst, capital controls help a government trap money within its borders. This way, it has more money to confiscate.
As strange as it sounds, capital controls are often politically popular. For one, they are a way for a government to convince people it’s “doing something.” The average person loves that.
Two, a government can usually convince people that moving money offshore or investing in foreign assets is only for rich tax evaders or the unpatriotic. If freedom and private property matter to you at all, you know that’s obviously false.
How It Happens
For the unprepared, it’s like a mugging…
To be effective, capital controls have to be a surprise. Alerting people in advance would defeat the purpose. Weekends and holidays are the perfect time to catch people off guard.
Here are the four most common forms of capital controls:
1. “Official” Currency Exchange Rates
The government’s official rate for converting foreign currency to local currency is always less favorable than the black market rate (more accurately called the free market rate).
This applies to official prices for gold, too.
Getting the more favorable black market rate usually involves informal transactions on the street. Of course, this is technically illegal.
However, should you follow the law and exchange money at the official rate, it amounts to a wealth transfer from you to the government. The wealth transfer equals the difference between the free market rate and the official rate. It’s a form of implicit taxation.
2. Explicit Taxation
A government might impose explicit taxes to discourage you from buying foreign investments, foreign currencies, or gold. India tried this a few years ago by imposing a 10% tax on gold imports.
Another tactic is taxing money transfers out of the country…say 20% on any amount transferred to a foreign account. In this case, you could still move your money, but it would cost you.
Governments want you to hold your wealth inside the country and in the local currency. Ultimately, this makes it easier for them to tax, confiscate, or devalue with inflation.
3. Restrictions and Regulations
A government might restrict how much foreign currency or gold you can own, import, or export. It might require you to get permission to take a certain amount of money out of the country. The cap is often only a couple thousand dollars.
4. Outright Prohibition
This is the most severe form of capital control. Sometimes a government explicitly prohibits the ownership of foreign currencies, foreign bank accounts, foreign assets, or gold, or the moving of any form of wealth outside the country.
Capital Controls in the U.S.
The U.S. government has used capital controls before. In 1933, through Executive Order 6102, President Roosevelt forced Americans to exchange their gold for U.S. dollars. It’s no surprise that the official government exchange rate was unfavorable. The U.S. government continued to prohibit private ownership of gold bullion until 1974.
Today, with no conceivable end to the U.S. government’s runaway spending, sky-high debt, and careless money printing, I think it’s only a matter of time until the government decides capital controls are the “solution.” There’s no doubt statist economists like Paul Krugman would cheer it. All it would take is the stroke of the president’s pen on a new executive order.
Whatever the catalyst, it’s critical to prepare while there’s still time.
What Could Happen if You’re Too Late
Capital controls are almost always a prelude to something worse. It might be a currency devaluation, a so-called “stability levy,” or a bail-in.
Whatever the government and mainstream media call it, capital controls are a way to trap your money so it is easier to steal. Anything they don’t steal immediately, they box in for future thefts.
What You Can Do About It
The solution is simple.
Place some of your savings outside your home country by setting up a foreign bank account.
That way, no one can easily confiscate, freeze, or devalue your savings at the drop of a hat. A foreign bank account will help ensure that you have access to your money when you need it the most.
Doug Casey and I visited Cyprus a few years ago, right after the government imposed capital controls. We met numerous Cypriots who had seen the writing on the wall and had chosen to take action before the crisis.
By doing so, they kept their money safely out of the hands of a thieving government. While everyone else was forced to keep their money in the country, those who had moved their money ahead of time were free to do as they wished and were spared from the bank deposit confiscation.
There’s an important lesson here.
Despite what you may hear, obtaining a foreign bank account is completely legal. It’s not about tax evasion or other illegal activities. It’s simply about legally diversifying your political risk by putting your liquid savings in sound, well-capitalized institutions.
It’s becoming harder and harder to open a foreign bank account. Soon, it could be impossible. It’s important to act sooner rather than later - even if you don’t plan to use the account immediately.
Even without capital controls, it still makes sense to move some of your savings to a foreign bank where it can be kept safe.
The New York Times best-selling author Doug Casey and I wrote a comprehensive guide on all of our favorite foreign banks. We provide crucial information on the few jurisdictions that still accept American clients and allow them to open accounts remotely with small minimums. We also explain how you can do it all from home.
There’s still time, but you need to act quickly.

World's Oldest Temple to Be Restored


A rather obvious step actually.  The entire site was actually buried at the end of its active period quite deliberately in order to preserve it.  As we were not dealing with any serious roofs, this worked fine in desert conditions.

Thus complete restoration consists of gently removing all the protective fill.  I am glad that they are doing it as it means that the entire site will be exposed again.  That rarely happens.  Againt the unique aspects of this site makes it possible and even desirable.

It deep age makes all other sires recent and establishes accomplished stone shaping very early,

There remains a lot not understood regarding stone shaping that needs to be addressed.  Recall that we rediscovered the method used throughout the Bronze Age using a blow torch contraption to popcorn rock.  That method has an undetermined antiquity yet we have unexplained tunnel systems..

World's Oldest Temple to Be Restored

The ancient site of Göbekli Tepe in Turkey has rewritten the early history of civilization.

Gobekli Tepe’s circular temples have changed the way archaeologists look at the beginnings of civilization.

By Andrew Curry
The world’s oldest monuments may soon get an image makeover. A new project will promote and preserve Göbekli Tepe, home to the most ancient temple structures ever discovered.
Turkey hopes to eventually boost tourism at the site, which is in a region where tourism has declined because of the nearby Syrian conflict andrefugee crisis.
Since excavations began in 1995, the site in southeastern Turkey has changed the way archaeologists think about the origins of civilization. Its circular structures, with their elaborately carved stones and distinctive, T-shaped pillars, are more than 12,000 years old—older than the invention of agriculture or even pottery.
The early dates have upended the idea that agriculture led to civilization. Scholars long thought that when hunter-gatherers settled down and started growing crops, the resulting food surplus made it possible for people to organize complex societies.

T-shaped pillars at Gobekli Tepe are carved with stylized hands, belts and loincloths.

The left side of this unusual double "portal" at the 12,000-year-old site has carvings of wild cattle, a boar and a predator on the left side.

The tallest of Gobekli Tepe’s T-shaped pillars are 18 feet high and weigh roughly 16 tons. Carving them using only stone tools and moving them into place would have taken tremendous amounts of labor.

Stone heads were found in debris piled into the circular enclosures. One theory is that the site was used for funeral rituals.

Bas-reliefs of vultures, scorpions, and other creatures found on pillars at Gobekli Tepe may have been a way to deal with a frightening world through ritual. Vultures are often associated with death and the afterlife.

This limestone figure was found in an ancient enclosure at Gobekli Tepe.

Gobekli Tepe means “belly hill” in Turkish. New funding will help build protective coverings over the excavation area and make it easier for tourists to visit the site without damaging the ancient artifacts

A boar figure carved in limestone was found at Gobekli Tepe. Copious animal bones found at the site suggest feasting was a major activity there.

Göbekli Tepe calls that conventional wisdom into question. Klaus Schmidt, the German archaeologist who discovered the site in the 1960s, argued before he died in 2014 that it might have worked the other way around: The vast labor force needed to build the enclosures pushed people to develop agriculture as a way of providing predictable food—and perhaps drink—for workers.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Turkey’s Doğuş Group will announce Wednesday that they plan to spend $15 million over the next 20 years on the project, in partnership with the National Geographic Society. “Göbekli Tepe is our zero point in time,” Doğuş Group chairman Ferit F. Şahenk said in a press release.
Earliest Religious Site?
Newly gathered evidence from excavations at the site backs up Schmidt’s argument that the beginnings of civilization spurred the invention of farming. In the middle of each monumental enclosure are two tall T-shaped pillars, carved with stylized arms, hands and loincloths. The largest weigh more than 16 tons. Carving and moving them from a nearby quarry must have been a tremendous challenge, requiring hundreds of people and enough food to feed them all.
But archaeologists have yet to find evidence of permanent settlement at Göbekli Tepe. One recent suggestion is that the site was a regional gathering place. It’s perched on top of a bone-dry peak, with a commanding view of the surrounding mountains and the plains to the south.
“Back then people would have to meet regularly to keep the gene pool fresh and exchange information,” says Jens Notroff, a German Archaeological Institute archaeologist who works on the site. “It’s a landmark. It’s no accident they gathered there.”
In fact, smaller versions of the pillars, symbols and architecture carved into stone at Göbekli Tepe have been found in settlements up to 125 miles away. It’s as though Göbekli Tepe were a cathedral and the others local churches; hunter-gatherers might have traveled long distances to meet, worship and help build new monumental structures, sponsoring feasts to display their wealth.
“The feasting aspect is the easiest explanation for attracting a labor force to construct the enclosures,” Notroff says.

Building Göbekli Tepe 
Artist Fernando Baptista sculpts a model of Göbekli Tepe.
As they’ve dug deeper into the hilltop, archaeologists have found other evidence for feasting: After they were built, the stone enclosures were filled in with dirt, stone, and animal bones. Over the course of centuries, new structures were built on top of the backfill, creating a man-made mound. The debris includes tens of thousands of broken animal bones, including gazelles and aurochs, a type of wild cow that’s now extinct. There are also huge stone vessels, big enough to hold more than 40 gallons of liquid—perhaps early beer.
Tour Buses and Refugees
The new funding comes at a critical time for Göbekli Tepe. As the site has gained international prominence, it’s become a bona fide tourist attraction. Less than a decade ago, the hilltop was reachable only via a bumpy ride on a rough dirt road. The occasional visitor might be shown around by Schmidt himself.
Today, tour buses sometimes unload hundreds of visitors each day in front of a small visitor’s center, and Turkish travel agencies promote special Göbekli Tepe tours. There’s a gift shop and parking lot, and Turkey’s largest archaeological museum opened recently in the nearby city of Urfa.
Though excavation and research at the site are funded by the German Archaeological Institute and the German Research Foundation, funds from the Dogus Group, a Turkish conglomerate that includes tourism and media companies, will go toward building a new, larger visitor’s center and protective canopies for the structures that have already been uncovered, along with walkways and fencing to help manage tourism’s impact on the ancient enclosures.
“This impressive partnership between the Sahenk Initiative and the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism is sure to shed new light on Gobekli Tepe’s historical significance—not only for Turkey but for the world,” said Terry Garcia, chief science and exploration officer for theNational Geographic Society.
It’s good news in a region that desperately needs some. As Syria has become less stable, Notroff says, the flood of tourists to the site has visibly slowed.
Urfa is just a few miles from Turkey’s border with Syria, and is a key crossing point for refugees fleeing the conflict there. When the Syrian town of Kobani was under attack by ISIS last year, smoke from the battle could be seen from the mountaintop dig site.

Can't Sleep? Your Dinner Might Be the Problem

We sort of already know this but this spells out that the likely culprit is processed foods and sugar while fruit and vegetables are the opposite in effect.  What is interesting is that it disturbs your natural sleep cycle.

This adds yet one more reason to shift our diets as much as possible to the vegan standard

It also suggests an immediate protocol for those who do have poor sleeping patterns that is direct and testable.


Can't Sleep? Your Dinner Might Be the Problem
| Wed Jan. 20, 2016 6:00 AM EST

If you're nodding off as you read this, don't blame my prose style. You probably didn't sleep enough last night, or maybe you just slept poorly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 50 million and 70 million US adults have some kind of sleep disorder—think insomnia, apnea, or narcolepsy. This troubled slumber, in turn, is linked to increased risk of everything from car accidents to Alzheimer's.

It turns out your diet might be to blame for restless nights, a new study by Columbia University researchers suggests. The team subjected 26 normal-weight adults to a controlled food regimen—high in dietary fiber and low in saturated fat and added sugars—for four days. On the fifth day, I'll call this the dietary "free-for-all" day, they let the participants eat whatever they wanted. Each night, they monitored both sleep duration and quality—the number of times the participants woke up during the night, and the amount of time they spent in "slow-wave sleep," the most restorative sleep stage.
Meals low in fiber and high saturated fat were associated with lower quality sleep, while higher levels of sugar led to more wake-ups.
The result: While total time spent snoozing didn't change over the course of the experiment, sleep quality declined the more people spent their free-for-all day loading up on fiber-light, fat- and sugar-heavy foods. Meals low in fiber and high in saturated fat were associated with significantly less slow-wave sleep, while higher levels of sugar led to more wake-ups. The study subjects also fell asleep faster (an average of 17 minutes versus 29 minutes) on the controlled diet than they did on the self-selected one.
That's bad news for the average American, who tends to have a horrible diet—lacking in fruits and vegetables and chock-full of ultra-processed crap and excess sugar.
The study doesn't speculate about why these dietary choices messed with sleep, but a growing body of science links diet to the health and diversity of the gut biome—the trillions of microorganisms that live in our digestive tracts—which in turn affect brain processes. Dietary fiber essentially feeds these vital organisms, and diets low in it have been shown to reduce biome diversity. High-sugar diets, meanwhile, appear to alter the gut biome in ways that seem to promote obesity. The relationship between the gut biome and sleep, however, remains little studied. 
Research suggests that sleep deprivation interferes with the hormones that tell us when we're full—meaning that bad sleep can lead to bad dietary choices.
Even so, the Columbia study offers a new twist on the sleep-diet nexus. People who chronically experience poor sleep are more likely to endure diet-related conditions like obesity and diabetes, the CDC states. Previous research suggests that sleep deprivation interferes with the hormones that tell us when we're full—meaning that bad sleep can lead to bad dietary choices. The Columbia study suggests a vicious circle: Bad dietary habits can also muck up sleep.
All the more reason to steer clear of the supermarket's chips and cookie aisles. "The finding that diet can influence sleep has tremendous health implications, given the increasing recognition of the role of sleep in the development of chronic disorders such as hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease," the study's lead author, Columbia's Marie-Pierre St-Onge, said in a press release.

The Equation That May Help us Decode Cancer’s Secrets

This is a natural and expected result once we understand that mutation is an ongoing process and that cancer immortality blocks elimination.  It is a useful insight that allows you to understand what you are seeing in the so called chaos.

It may even help therapeutically.

I do not see it leading to much else though but we may be surprised.


The equation that will help us decode cancer’s secrets

January 18, 2016 11.04am EST

A cancer forms when a cell in the body goes awry, multiplying out of control to form a tumour. A typically-sized cancer tumour is made up of more cells than there are people on the planet, and cells from different areas of a single tumour have different alterations in their genetic code.

This sounds like complete chaos. How can we expect to treat cancer effectively – even with newer “targeted” therapies that hit the products of faulty genes – if every cell is different? In order to find more effective ways to treat the disease, we needed to find some order in the chaos.

Looking for patterns

When we first began to study the patterns of genetic alterations inside human cancers, chaos was exactly what we expected to see. And the first studies seemed to back this idea up.

Surprisingly though, the more we looked, the less chaotic the patterns became. In fact, we realised that there was often such striking regularity in the patterns that they might be able to be explained by a simple mathematical formula.

In our latest work, published in Nature Genetics, we were able to explain how the patterns we found in the chaos of genetic alterations inside a cancer reveal how that cancer grew.

When copying goes wrong

Each time a cell divides to form two new daughter cells, the DNA inside it must be duplicated so that each daughter receives a complete set. Unfortunately, although the process of DNA replication is very accurate, it’s not perfect and errors occur during the copying process. These errors are called genetic mutations.

Each time cells divide, they copy their DNA – including any previous errors – meaning that mutations that occur in one division are inherited by all the descendents of that cell. In this way, the DNA from the first cell is progressively distorted as the cancer grows, eventually leading to the genetic chaos we see in tumours.

Our approach was to try and “read” this process in reverse: starting from the end point of a cancer genome with many mutations and attempting to decipher the sequence of cell divisions that would have led to the particular pattern of mutations we observed.

We used data from 14 different types of cancers that had been collected using a technique called next-generation sequencing, which can tell us two things: first, whether a particular mutation is present in a cancer, and second, the fraction of cells within the cancer that has a given mutation in their DNA.

This technology has produced huge amounts of data, stored in publicly available databases. Many researchers have created complex computer programs that search for patterns in it. But we decided to take a different approach. We realised that the pattern of mutations within a cancer might make more sense if we looked at them while thinking about how the cancer had grown.

We realised that mutations that happened early in a cancer’s development would be present in lots of cells within the cancer, because these mutations would be inherited by all the daughter cells as the cancer grew. On the other hand, mutations that occurred later would be present in only a few cells.

The interesting twist was when we realised that there should be many more rare mutations in the cancer – each present in only a relatively small number of cells – than common ones. This is because later on in a cancer’s development, when the tumour is larger, there are many more cells dividing and so much more opportunity for mutations to happen.

The formula we developed perfectly described the pattern of mutations in more than 200 of the cancers we looked at. This meant we knew exactly how these cancers had grown.

And – importantly – it shows that the pattern of mutations in a cancer often follow something known as a “power-law”.

Power-laws are found in all kinds of natural systems. Take earthquakes, for example. There are small seismic events happening almost constantly around the globe, but cataclysmic earthquakes only happen once a decade or so. It turns out that the average time between different types of earthquakes obeys a power law.

Earthquakes also follow the power law equation.

In cancer, we found that the way the cancer grows means that mutations present in large numbers of cells (large events) were rare, whereas mutations present in only a few cells (small events) were commonplace. In other words, this suggested we could expect to discover a power law underlying cancer’s growth. And that’s exactly what we found.

What next?

We’re excited to have found a natural law of cancer growth that reveals striking simplicity in the apparent chaos of a cancer genome. We think this work is important as it is a first entry in what we hope will become a “mathematical rulebook for cancer”, that will serve to simplify and improve our understanding of the disease.

There’s a long road ahead, but now we’re starting to find order among the chaos inside a tumour, we are uncovering new clues as to how we can better target the disease and hopefully make a difference to the people who suffer from it.