Josh Earnest: Next Speaker Needs to ‘Tame the Forces’ of ‘Extreme Ideologues’

Thursday, commenting on the news that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has dropped out of the race to become speaker, press secretary Josh Earnest said the next speaker will have to, “tame the forces” of the “extreme ideologues” in the Republican Party. Earnest said, “It certainly is easy to poke fun at the chaos, but the fact is, the challenge that is facing the next Republican Speaker of the House, regardless of who it is, is the same challenge John Boehner faced, the same challenge Kevin McCarthy would have faced, and that is simply to unite a divided Republican caucus. There is a minority group of conservative Republican politicians that places their own extreme ideology ahead of everything else. And certainly ahead of effective governance of the country. But also, as of today, ahead of the  effective governance of the House Republican caucus. Somebody among the House Republicans will have to step forward and demonstrate an ability to either tame the forces of that, again small but vocal, group of extreme ideologues, or buck up the mainstream, or at least more mainstream, majority within the House Republicans.” Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN
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Carson: Murdoch’s ‘Not a Racist,’ Tweet Controversy, ‘Much To Do About Nothing’

Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson stated that Rupert Murdoch is “not a racist by any stretch of the imagination” and that the controversy over his tweet about the president is “much to do about nothing” on Thursday’s “Wolf” on CNN. Carson, was asked about Murdoch’s tweet that stated, “Ben and Candy Carson terrific. What about a real black President who can properly address the racial divide? And much else.” He said, “Well, I know Rupert Murdoch. He’s not a racist, by any stretch of the imagination. He’s just expressing his opinion. I think it’s much to do about nothing.” Carson added, “Everybody’s entitled to their opinion. I believe what he was making reference to was the fact that here was a man who is a black president that the black community was very excited about, who came in, and whose policies have not really elevated the black community, has not been beneficial. There’s more unemployment, more poverty, and I believe that’s what he was really referring to.” When asked if he believe President Obama is “a real black president” Carson declined to get into the “semantics” of such a discussion, but did say, “he’s the president and he’s black.” He
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Russia’s Largest Search Engine Yandex Interested in Integrating Bitcoin

Russia’s largest search engine and Internet-based services provider Yandex is interested in integrating bitcoin to its financial platform Yandex.Money, to allow its merchants to accept payments in bitcoin.

At the Finnopolis FinTech Forum held in Kazan, Yandex.Money CEO Maria Gracheva announced that the company is looking forward in supporting bitcoin payments. In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine , Nora Kirkizh, media relations manager of Yandex.Money further explained that bitcoin fits perfectly with the payment solutions offered by Yandex.Money, ranging from the online payment solution used by more than 76,000 online stores, e-wallets, online banking services, etc.

“We are definitely paying close attention to cryptocurrencies,” the Yandex team told Bitcoin Magazine.

“The technology on which they are based can be used as the foundation for lots of different products,” said Kirkizh. “For example, Yandex.Money offers online stores Yandex Payment Solution. With this service they can accept payments from customers via bank cards, e-wallets, online banking accounts and other possible payment methods. Currently, over 76,000 online stores use Yandex Payment Solution to process their payments. Indeed, bitcoin would fit this range of methods perfectly. If it was one of the options in Yandex Payment Solution, users could easily use it to pay for goods on any website. Nevertheless, until cryptocurrencies are regulated by Russian law, we cannot work with them viably.”

Legality of Bitcoin

Despite the company’s interest in bitcoin and its advantages, the legality of bitcoin in the country is still undecided. While the Russian Central Bank prohibits the use of bitcoin, Russian president Vladimir Putin announced that bitcoin can probably be used in “some account.”

Due to this uncertainty, the Yandex team plans to wait until the authorities and the government approve the use of bitcoin for corporations and organizations.

“Different institutions have different attitude to bitcoin. Russian Central Bank prohibited this currency in the country, for instance, although other organizations were interested in bitcoin and suggesting to know it better. We still do not know what bitcoin will be in the near future, and there is not an opportunity to work with it legally,” said Kirkizh.

Yandex.Money currently has more than 22 million users, with more than 12,000 new accounts opened daily. Yandex believes that bitcoin’s efficiency in processing payments and transactions could greatly benefit its financial platform and could be offered as an alternative to credit card and bank payments.

“Cryptocurrencies have their pros and cons. On the one hand, it’s an inexpensive technology and it’s very easy to implement, and so as soon as it becomes legal to work with them, basically any payment service will be able to quickly implement the technology,” continued the Yandex team.

However, the Yandex.Money team is still worried that most of their users will not want to take the initiative to convert fiat-money to cryptocurrencies. Yandex will consider integrating bitcoin across their platforms as soon as bitcoin becomes legal and the bitcoin industry in Russia starts to grow.

“The audience for cryptocurrencies is still quite small and it seems like making simple and easy-to-understand products based on “real” money will still be the logical thing to do for some time to come. In order to convert live money to cryptocurrency, users will need some sort of extra motivation and a good amount of time. That will hold back the growth of blockchains,” said Kirkizh.

The post Russia’s Largest Search Engine Yandex Interested in Integrating Bitcoin appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Continue reading… Co-Founder: Bitcoin Doesn’t Make Remittances Cheaper (Yet)

Luis Buenaventure, co-founder of one of the best known bitcoin remittance companies in the space, , has published a blog post on Medium claiming that the cryptographic currency does little to help cheapen remittances.

Bitcoin remittances, better known as “rebittances” (a term Buenaventure claims to have popularized), allow customers to send cash to friends or family abroad. Effectively, this means that only the rebittance service itself uses bitcoin, both the sending and receiving end of the transaction merely touch cash. Since it is cheaper to send bitcoin around the globe compared to fiat currency, companies such as aim to compete with existing remittance giants like Western Union and MoneyGram.

In his sobering blog post, however, Buenaventure severely nuances the advantages of using bitcoin in this manner. According to the co-founder, who departed the company last August, bitcoin doesn’t really enable cheaper remittance from a customers’ point of view. This is because nearly all of the costs made by remittance (or rebittance) companies are in “the first and last miles” of the process anyway. In particular, it’s converting digital money into physical cash, and distributing this cash to the different end-points to be picked up locally, that bears most of the cost. Buenaventure says it makes little difference whether the funds made it there as digital dollars or as digital bitcoin.

In the case of the Philippines, where is most active, the end-points consist of local pawnshops that hold a firm grip over the national remittance market, Buenaventure explains:

The pawnshops are the last mile , and no one, not even the banks, are close to touching their aggregate dominance. As such, they can charge whatever they want for their services, and the oligopolistic nature of the industry ensures that there is very little difference in price between one provider and another.

The costs of a bitcoin-powered remittance and that of a transaction powered by MoneyGram or any other traditional provider are markedly similar, because the local currency needs to flow through the same physical channels.

But using bitcoin instead of fiat currency behind the screens is not completely pointless, Buenaventure maintains. Most importantly, the flexibility of the cryptographic currency allows rebittance companies to set up shop with far fewer startup costs. Since SWIFT transfers are slow, competitors such as Western Union and MoneyGram need to hold plenty of fiat currency in reserve locally in order to keep up with demand. The speed of bitcoin transfers, on the other hand, allows rebittance companies to get hold of local fiat currency much faster.

Buenaventure explains:

“This ‘prefunding’ strategy is the main thing that young bitcoin remittance startups are now able to circumvent. Instead of advancing $100,000 to each country that you want to do business in, you settle each transaction in real-time with bitcoin. From a cost perspective, it’s the difference between building a huge server farm versus pay-as-you-go hosting on Amazon AWS, and is a true game-changer.”

Moreover, Buenaventure wraps up his blog post on an even more positive note. If it were possible to bring the costs of the last mile down, he argues, rebittance services would start to make a lot of sense. Buenaventure believes this cost could be brought down specifically if local currency systems advance from physical cash to digital currency, as this could cut local cash distribution offices out of the loop.

While this is nowhere near reality in the Philippines and most other developing countries, it is not that far-fetched of an idea, as some Third World regions are already progressing in that direction. The best known example is Kenya’s M-Pesa, a mobile phone payments system used by almost all Kenyans to transfer mobile minutes.

“The perfect solution appears to be a hybrid between the current bitcoin remittance startups and the ubiquitous mobile-money network that currently exists only in our dreams,” Buenaventure concludes.

“If we can use bitcoin to replace SWIFT during the international part of the journey, and employ the local mobile money network as our domestic transport, then we’ve really got something. Until then, associating bitcoin so directly with cheaper remittances is perhaps missing the point: the cryptocurrency has illuminated an even larger problem that it simply cannot solve on its own.”

The post Co-Founder: Bitcoin Doesn’t Make Remittances Cheaper (Yet) appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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GOP Rep. Charlie Dent: Conservatives ‘Just Fragged Kevin McCarthy’

Thursday on MSNBC, in commenting on House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) dropping out of the race for the Speaker of the House seat soon to be vacated by John Boehner (R-OH), Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) said conservatives in the House “fragged,’ Kevin McCarthy. Identified as a moderate, Dent said, “It’s pretty obvious what happened. The same members wanted to take down John Boehner, I always said would try to frag the next guy. Well they just fragged Kevin McCarthy. Kevin McCarthy had a strong majority of votes among the House Republican conference. Did he have 180 votes or something closer to 210 votes. He did not have 218 votes. The concern was that if Kevin were to go on the House floor, present himself as a Speaker candidate, that he failed to get 218 points and would obviously be embarrassed and humiliated. I think that’s what largely drove this decision today. I didn’t speak to him prior, I didn’t know he was going to do this. I was just as shocked as anyone. But the challenge for our conference is quite simple. we need to assemble bipartisan coalitions to pass any important legislation around here. We may have
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Refugee Charity Stops Aid To Calais Because 97% Are Men With ‘No Real Reason’ To Be There

Aid to Calais
A Bradford based charity will now only be helping genuine refugees near Syria after they woke up to the fact that those in the Calais “Jungle” camp are almost exclusively fit young men, who are “happy” to be there and not fleeing danger. The charity was tired of unwanted donations being left to spoil by the economic migrants. The Human Relief Foundation (HRF) has been generously running a project to help the “refugees” based in Calais, previously claiming they were all “fleeing war and significant atrocities.” However, on a recent visit HRF’s deputy chief executive Kassim Tokan and his team discovered unwanted clothing and food being “dumped and burnt” by the migrants. “I thought they have valid reason, but most of them they haven’t any valid reason… they want to go [to the UK] to get money, a better economic situation,” Tokan told ITV News. HRF will now refocus its efforts on help Syrians trapped in neighbouring Lebanon and Jordan. He said migrants told him, bluntly, that they were quite happy to stay in the camp. “There is no point in staying here… Syrian people in Jordan have a much better life,” he suggested. He said that 95 to 97
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