Asked and Answered: "You Too Can Make a Difference"

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Asked and Answered: “You Too Can Make a Difference”

February 10, 2016 at 1:32 PM ET by Ken Meyer

In a letter, a young woman from Michigan asked the President what she could do to change the way we do politics. The President wrote her back.

“Each and every time, a new generation has risen up and done what’s needed to be done. Today we are called once more — and it is time for our generation to answer that call. For that is our unyielding faith — that in the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it.”

When President Obama took office, he had a simple request for his staff: Send me ten letters a day. Ten letters that reflect Americans from every corner of the country, from?every background — the stories, cares, and concerns of the very people who elected him to the presidency.

He’s continued that practice every day since, reading, responding, and visiting the homes and hometowns of letter writers who have inspired him and his policies. And today, as the President heads back to Springfield, Illinois where he began his “improbable quest” to the White House, we wanted to share one letter the President received from a young woman concerned about the state of our politics in America.

In May of last year, Katherine Wiykovics told the President, “I’m afraid.” She feared that our politics had become so broken and so steeped in partisan rancor that the possibility of progress made together — by red states and blue states — was slipping from our grasp. “So I ask you: What can I do?” The President would respond with a handwritten note.

Read her letter, and the President’s response, below.

Letter from Katherine Rose Wiykovics

March 25, 2015

Dear President Barack Obama:

I hope you and your family are doing well despite the trials and tribulations that are guaranteed to be brought on by the presidency. My name is Katherine Wiykovics. I am twenty-six years old and currently a graduate student at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan, working on my Master’s in Computer Science that I hope will lead to a PhD in Computer Science as well. Like many of the youth on campus, I like to play video games. I play probably too many games for my own good, mostly those that involve strategy or some sort of puzzle that I have to solve. I like trying to find solutions to problems, and I have a strong belief that with ambition, determination, intelligence, hard work, and courage in the face of adversity, anyone can make it to where they want to be. Not always in the matter they wish, and where they want to be may change along the way as I certainly didn’t expect to go to graduate school when I was younger, but I can happen. Yet all the time, I am faced with a complicated problem that I cannot figure out how to solve, or where to begin.

Increasingly in this country, all over in our own ways, we are divided. You claimed years ago that there were no red states and blue states, but the fact of the matter is surveys have stated that a majority of parents of both Republican and Democratic parties would not be okay with their children marrying someone outside of their political opinions. This sort of thing troubles me greatly, because our policies are now dividing us as much as race or religion has in the past. How are we as Americans supposed to get anything done when compromise is such a dirty word? Compromise does not mean give in, it means to work together and it seems we the people are headed toward a horrid end if this does not stop. I’m afraid, Mr. President. I am one who is not swayed so easily by emotion in my politics, but in facts and the facts are that we cannot have a country divided and have a stable government.

So I ask you: What can I do? I want to do something beyond just signing some random online petition that always seems to get nowhere. I want a government that works, I don’t want to worry about a shutdown anymore. I don’t want to watch more and more people become disinterested in politics because nothing can be done to fix things. I want to see unafraid voices stand not for political but for reason. It is often said that those who play video games heavily do so because there is little agency in their own lives, that they play in order to feel like they can accomplish something. It is my reason, I can do so much more to save fake worlds, fake nations, than my own. Tell me, how can we begin to unite people in compromise? I mean, if we can’t do it, that means I’m in trouble as my boyfriend is from a very Republican family, and I’m from a very Democratic one. My parents like him, but I don’t know if his will like me.


Ms. Katherine Rose Wiykovics

This is the President’s response:?

The President's Response to Katherine

Katherine —

Thanks for the letter. You seem like a wonderful young lady.

I know politics seem frustrating sometimes. But despite all the rancor you see on TV, people are making a difference everyday in every corner of the country. So find an issue care about, and volunteer — you’ll meet people that inspire you, and find that you too can make a difference.

And don’t worry about political party when it comes to boyfriends; just make sure he’s kind, loves kids, makes you laugh, and is honest!

Barack Obama

Despite every challenge, the progress made over the past seven years proves that the single most powerful word in our democracy is “we.”?As the President said in the State of the Union:?

“My fellow Americans, whatever you may believe, whether you prefer one party or no party, whether you supported my agenda or fought as hard as you could against it — our collective futures depends on your willingness to uphold your duties as a citizen. To vote. To speak out. To stand up for others, especially the weak, especially the vulnerable, knowing that each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, stood up for us. We need every American to stay active in our public life — and not just during election time — so that our public life reflects the goodness and the decency that I see in the American people every single day.”

Ken Meyer

Associate Director of Online Engagement for the Office of Digital Strategy

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Gowdy: Trump Tapped Into Anger, But ‘Marco Is Our Best Chance to Win’

Wednesday on Fox News Channel’s “America’s Newsroom,” Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said while Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has “tapped into a legitimate frustration and anger,” his opponent Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is the GOP’s “best chance to win” in the general election. When asked about Trump Gowdy said, “He has tapped into a legitimate frustration and anger that I feel in my own district. A lot of us share it. The question is, what do you do with the frustration and anger? What I want to do is win in November. I want to control the executive branch. I want to pick the next Supreme Court justices. I want a foreign policy actually is coherent. So I get the anger. I get frustration. I want to translate that into victory. So in other words, making a point is fine. And the point has been made. I am much more interested in making a difference. The way to make a difference is to win in November. and Marco is our best chance to win.” Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN
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Hyperledger Project Looks at Options to Build Blockchain Technology with IBM, DTCC, SWIFT, and Others

Earlier this week Bitcoin Magazine reported that the Linux Foundation announced technical updates to the new Hyperledger Project, a formal open governance structure, as well as new members from across the industry.

The Hyperledger Project wants to develop a new open source blockchain separated from the Bitcoin blockchain. Digital Asset Holdings, the fintech startup headed by the financial superstar Blythe Masters, contributed its Hyperledger mark, which it had acquired in June with the purchase of San Francisco-based digital fintech company Hyperledger.

The Hyperledger team, now part of Digital Asset Holdings, developed distributed ledger technology for private blockchains, without a built-in digital currency, to allow financial operators to clear and settle transactions in real time, using a proven consensus algorithm capable of thousands of transactions per second.

The placeholder domain now redirects to the official Hyperledger website

The updated list of Hyperledger founding members consists of 28 top companies in the technology and financial services space. It appears that the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project is moving very fast and is on its way to becoming a leading force in the blockchain technology development space.

Founded in 2000, the Linux Foundation wants to be the organization of choice for the world’s top developers and companies to build ecosystems that accelerate open technology development and commercial adoption.

The technology of the original Hyperledger team is independent of Bitcoin, and many companies in the new Hyperledger Project support radical alternatives to Bitcoin. For example, Accenture and Digital Asset Holdings CEO Masters, among others, expressed support for private, “permissioned” non-Bitcoin blockchains.

“To be used by financial institutions, including capital markets firms and insurers, blockchains must supplant the costly methods introduced by Bitcoin with a mechanism that guarantees security, privacy and speed without paying for anonymous consensus,” said two Accenture executives in July.

In other words, Bitcoin should disappear and be replaced by a closed blockchain. So is Hyperledger a first step in that direction?

Bitcoin Magazine reached out to the Linux Foundation for clarifications and further explanations.

“The Linux Foundation believes a shared infrastructure that is open to critical inspection and collaboration will be pivotal in driving global adoption of blockchain for distributed ledgers,” Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin told Bitcoin Magazine. “I’m extremely bullish about how the developers involved in Hyperledger Project are openly looking at various architectures, concepts and technologies, aiming to integrate code from a variety of sources to build a neutral technology that can work for all.”

Zemlin also answered some specific burning questions about the nature, plans and policies of the Hyperledger Project.

Bitcoin Magazine: Does the Hyperledger Project support a specific (existing or planned) digital currency for payments and financial applications?

Zemlin: No, the scope of the Hyperledger Project is limited to the development of the underlying blockchain fabric that can support a broad range of use cases. Applications and domain-specific frameworks are outside the scope of the project, but will obviously be encouraged to leverage the project’s deliverables.

Bitcoin Magazine:Is the Hyperledger Project a replacement for Bitcoin and/or other existing cryptocurrencies?

Zemlin:This project’s mission will be to build and advance a general purpose blockchain framework that can be used across industry sectors, from financial services to retail to manufacturing and more. There is ample room in the market for cryptocurrencies and even multiple implementations of the blockchain, but everyone stands to lose if these don’t interoperate and work together. The hope would be that the fabric produced by the Hyperledger Project can satisfy a broad set of use case ranging from cryptocurrencies, supply-chain visibility, asset transfer, IoT, business contracts and so much more. We’ll see thousands of applications and many uses cases, but open source and industry-wide collaboration are essential to realizing the full potential of distributed ledger technology.

Bitcoin Magazine:Do you plan to implement full programmability with a Turing-Complete scripting language to support transactions and smart contracts of arbitrary complexity?

Zemlin: One of the proposals on the table in the technical community supports execution of code written in any language. However, the community has not yet reached consensus on this point.

Bitcoin Magazine: What’s your position on the privacy issue?

Zemlin: It is important to realize that the Hyperledger Project is hosted by the Linux Foundation, but the community that has gathered to support and lend their resource and expertise to develop this key technology is just now coalescing and does not yet have a singular point of view.

The Hyperledger Project continues to unfold. Bitcoin Magazine will follow further developments.

The post Hyperledger Project Looks at Options to Build Blockchain Technology with IBM, DTCC, SWIFT, and Others appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Will the Upcoming Mining Reward Halving Impact Bitcoin’s Price?

The reward for mining Bitcoin is expected to see the second halving in its history later this year, potentially in June or July.

Bitcoin, a deflationary store of value as opposed to reserve currencies and fiat-money, has had its total supply limited to 21 million bitcoins since the original code released by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008. Unlike fiat currencies that can be printed at will by central banks, the total supply of bitcoins is fixed by the consensus rules of the system. Because of its deflationary nature, the digital currency is often compared to precious metals such as gold, which also undergo a resource-intensive creation or mining process.

This process of mathematically securing transactions in a block of chains called mining requires a tremendous supply of computing power and electricity. In exchange for securing the Bitcoin network and processing transactions, the protocol currently rewards these miners with 25 bitcoins for every block of transactions found. However, this reward for miners will soon be cut in half from 25 bitcoins to 12.5 bitcoins. This “halving” will occur at block 420,000, which is expected to be mined in the middle of 2016.

Surge or Stability?

The decline of miner’s reward simply means that the Bitcoin network will begin to generate bitcoins at a much slower rate. If the demand for bitcoin remains constant through the year while the supply is cut in half, simple economics dictates that the price should rise until there is a new equilibrium between supply and demand. Whether or not this supply change is already a factor in the price of bitcoin is a point of disagreement.

Some argue that the Bitcoin community has been fully aware of the halving of miners’ reward for a long time and that the actual decline in the supply of bitcoins will not surprise most Bitcoin enthusiasts and traders in the community.

Historically, halving of miner’s reward has had no substantial effect on the price of Bitcoin. On November 28, 2012, the first time the miners’ reward was halved, there was no visible impact on the value of Bitcoin, which was worth around USD $13.40 per bitcoin.

This occurred when block 210,000 was solved.

Considering the historical result of the “halving day” and the increasing awareness of Bitcoin, it is difficult to predict whether the price of Bitcoin will surge or maintain its stability after the halving of miner’s reward.

As Bitcoin security expert and author of Mastering Bitcoin Andreas Antonopoulos explains, the impact of halving on the price of Bitcoin depends on a wide range of factors, including the difficulty and transaction volume of Bitcoin.

“I can’t predict price. No one can. Anyone who does, even for 10 minutes, is lying,” said Antonopoulos. “The reward halving will change the inflation rate in Bitcoin. How that affects the overall economy depends on the conditions of all the other parameters in the economy: price, adoption, transaction volume, hashrate, difficulty, investments, other currencies, world market conditions, etc.”

The post Will the Upcoming Mining Reward Halving Impact Bitcoin’s Price? appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Marco to Return to Washington to Vote for Tough New North Korea Sanctions

February 10, 2016 Marco had three events scheduled in South Carolina today, but will only make two of them. He’ll be returning to Washington to attend to national security business, as he has throughout the campaign — this time, it’s to vote for new sanctions on North Korea. Senate to debate & vote on bill…
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Cruz Mocks Fox News’ Reporting on Rubio: ‘Looking Forward’ to ‘Wall-to-Wall Coverage’ of My Third-Place Finish

Wednesday at an event in Myrtle Beach, SC, Republican presidential hopeful responded to a question about a statement he had made about his competitor Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) coming off of a third-place finish in Iowa a week earlier. Cruz had said “bronze was the new gold.” But after coming off his own third-place finish in New Hampshire, Cruz took a jab at Fox News for its coverage of third-place finishers by seemingly mocking it as he said he was looking forward to their coverage of his third-place finish. “I’m looking forward to a wall-to-wall coverage of Fox News of the impressive third-place finish, which Marco Rubio got,” Cruz said. “So, I’m sure that’s what we’ll see on every show on Fox today, the shockingly impressive third-place finish of Cruz.” Cruz went on to tout his finishes and declared himself to be the only one that could beat last night’s New Hampshire GOP primary winner Donald Trump. “Listen part of the reason – number one, we won Iowa,” he continued. “We won Iowa despite all of the predictions and we beat Donald Trump. Number two, listen, everyone said a conservative cannot compete in a more moderate New England state like New
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Time’s Joe Klein: Trump Supporters ‘a Real Threat to This Country’

Time magazine columnist Joe Klein declared that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s voters “are a real threat to this country” on Tuesday’s broadcast of PBS’s “Charlie Rose Show.” Klein said of Trump, “This is a guy who doesn’t know anything, except to say evil things about other people, and –.” He added, “If you vote for Trump, it means you’re not paying attention. These are low-information voters. They are a real threat to this country. They’re a real threat to our standing in the world.” Klein further stated of Trump’s supporters, “I think that their anger is self-indulgent, and I think that this really — it’s a disaster for the Republican Party. It’s a disaster for the country. Things aren’t so bad here. You know, it’s time that we put this thing into a little bit of perspective.” (h/t Newsbusters) Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett
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New Hampshire Voters ‘Outright Crazy’ Says Soros-Backed, Ex-Prime Minister Of Europe’s Rape Capital

The people of New Hampshire are “outright crazy” for voting for U.S. Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democrat contender Bernie Sanders, a former Swedish Prime Minister and foreign minister has said. After the primary results were announced, Carl Bildt tweeted this morning that he had always felt New Hampshire to be a “decent small place”. Not anymore, however: I always thought New Hampshire was a fairly decent small place. This morning it looks outright crazy. — Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) February 10, 2016 Mr Bildt served as Prime Minister of Sweden from 1991 to 1994 and then as Foreign Minister from 2006 to 2014. Mr. Bildt is now a trustee of the George Soros-backed ‘International Crisis Group’ which has advocated for open borders. His former political party is regarded as “centre right” in Swedish terms, which means to the left of the Democrat Party in U.S. terms. His decision to criticise New Hampshire has already led to some angry responses, including: @carlbildt The rest of the western world view 87% of the SWEDES as totally insane. Think about that for a second. — Kejsarens nya kläder (@Swedensfuture) February 10, 2016 @veritasnaut Exactly @carlbildt loves 4 things: Hillary, Media, Wall Street and War. —
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Rubio: Trump Will Not Be the GOP Nominee

Wednesday on NBC’s “Today,” Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) insisted that despite his win in the New Hampshire Republican Primary on Tuesday, current party front-runner Donald Trump would not be the Republican nominee. Host Matt Lauer asked, “You saw the margin of victory for Donald Trump. John Kasich had a good night. In your heart, do you think anyone can get Donald Trump from getting the nomination right now?” Rubio said, “Sure, Donald Trump is not going to be the Republican nominee. New Hampshire has been a state badly hurt by losing jobs to China, closing of mills, loss of manufacturing base and Donald Trump tapped into that. That’s an important topic and needs to be discussed, without a doubt. But ultimately  to be president, you can’t go around telling people what’s wrong you have to tell people how you’re going to fix it. We just had a conversation about depth. Where is the policy idea about how we’re going to bring manufacturing back? It’s not enough to say you’re going to do it. Voters need to know how you’re going to do it. I don’t know how you continue to run a campaign from South Carolina and beyond without
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