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Will China Bail Out Evergrande?

Will China Bail Out Evergrande?

Submitted by Quoth the Raven at QTR’s Fringe Finance,

Markets took a shellacking on Monday as the world sits idly by and waits to see whether Chinese property developer Evergrande’s insolvency and leverage…

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Will China Bail Out Evergrande?

Submitted by Quoth the Raven at QTR's Fringe Finance,

Markets took a shellacking on Monday as the world sits idly by and waits to see whether Chinese property developer Evergrande’s insolvency and leverage come back to haunt the rest of the global financial markets.

The question that is going to drive the markets is whether or not the People’s Bank of China will eventually step in to provide some liquidity.

And while investors are worried that they may not, given the Chinese government’s new hawkish posturing with domestic companies, it is difficult for me to believe that they won’t help ring-fence the potential contagion from a credit event.

US investors are also on edge heading into what is believed to be a hawkish Fed statement on Wednesday, and few investors are considering what the Evergrande situation may actually mean: yet another excuse for US central banks and global central banks to delay or outright cancel a potential taper.

A complete scorched Earth default for Evergrande would be somewhere in the neighborhood of over $300 billion worth of unpaid bills and liabilities. While it’s certainly a sizable tranche of cash, and contagion from a major credit event would definitely ripple through markets, it isn’t going to be an unbearable shock that is going to seize up the entire global financial system. I know this sounds batshit crazy, but $300 billion simply isn’t what it used to be.

For example, the outstanding amount of money in all crypto markets right now is trillions of dollars being shuffled around trading assets that don’t even tangibly exist. I’m one of the few people that have noted that this may be cause for an eventual seizing up of global markets, but I don’t think $300 billion is a death blow.

The market isn’t seeing things my way Monday, but that’s fine: it’s the PBOC’s reaction this week that matters.

Sadly, part of my reasoning for thinking a bailout and/or ring-fencing is coming is simply the new climate (no pun intended) of central banking that we’re in. The pandemic has given central banks carte blanche to implement full-on MMT and saddle their respective nations with significant inflation as standard operating procedure.

The United States, for example, literally just papered over its entire economy for the entire year of 2020 by stacking $4 trillion onto the Fed’s balance sheet. What the hell is $300 billion?

Even if China wants to posture up and make a statement by not bailing out Evergrande, there’s no doubt in my mind it will help contain the contagion. And while China has been notoriously more careful with its Central Bank’s balance sheet and issuance of new money, something like $100 billion or $200 billion in liquidity - an amount that the Fed injects into the bond market in less than a week - isn’t off the table.

Putting aside what will be an obvious moral hazard disaster and one more step in the long-haul to the complete implosion of the entire financial system down the road, Evergrande right now seems like it may just be a blip on the radar and a quick problem that the Chinese central bank can “solve” to bring stability back to market in short order.

I would love your take on the situation.

  1. Do you think Evergrande will be bailed out?

  2. Do you think that if the Chinese government doesn’t build them out, it will still wind up bailing out the industry?

You can join the discussion on my blog "Fringe Finance", for free, by clicking here and scrolling down to the comments. 

Additionally, Zerohedge readers get 10% off an annual subscription to my blog by using this special link here.

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/20/2021 - 17:40

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The Science Of Propaganda Is Still Being Developed And Advanced

The Science Of Propaganda Is Still Being Developed And Advanced

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

We live in a far less free society than most of us think.

It looks like we’re free. We don’t get thrown in prison for…

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The Science Of Propaganda Is Still Being Developed And Advanced

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

We live in a far less free society than most of us think.

It looks like we’re free. We don’t get thrown in prison for criticizing our government officials. We can vote for whoever we want. We can log onto the internet and look up information on any subject we’re interested in. If we want to buy a product we have many brands we are free to choose from.

But we’re not free. Our political systems are set up to herd people into a two-party system that is controlled on both sides by plutocrats. The news media that people rely on to form ideas about what’s going on and how they should vote are controlled by the plutocratic class and heavily influenced by secretive government agencies. Internet algorithms are aggressively manipulated to show people information which favors the status quo. Even our entertainment is rife with Pentagon and CIA influence.

How free is that? How free is your speech if there are myriad institutional safeguards in place to prevent speech from ever effecting political change?

It doesn’t matter what you’re allowed to say if it doesn’t matter what you say. It doesn’t matter if you’re allowed to call the oligarchic puppet put in office by the last fake election a dickhead. It doesn’t matter if you’re allowed to Google any information you want only to find whatever information Google wants you to find.

What is the functional difference between a regime which directly censors the internet to prevent dissent and a regime which works with Silicon Valley plutocrats to control information via algorithms and has a system in place which prevents dissent from having any meaningful impact?

There is none.

We live in a profoundly unfree society that is disguised as a free society. Western liberal democracy is just totalitarianism dressed in drag.

And it’s only getting worse. Propaganda is a still-developing science.

Last month Ottawa Citizen reported that the Canadian military used the Covid outbreak as an excuse to test actual military psyop techniques on its own civilian population under the pretense of assuring compliance with pandemic restrictions.

Some excerpts:

  • “Canadian military leaders saw the pandemic as a unique opportunity to test out propaganda techniques on an unsuspecting public, a newly released Canadian Forces report concludes.”

  • “The plan devised by the Canadian Joint Operations Command, also known as CJOC, relied on propaganda techniques similar to those employed during the Afghanistan war. The campaign called for ‘shaping’ and ‘exploiting’ information. CJOC claimed the information operations scheme was needed to head off civil disobedience by Canadians during the coronavirus pandemic and to bolster government messages about the pandemic.”

  • “A separate initiative, not linked to the CJOC plan, but overseen by Canadian Forces intelligence officers, culled information from public social media accounts in Ontario. Data was also compiled on peaceful Black Lives Matter gatherings and BLM leaders.”

  • “‘This is really a learning opportunity for all of us and a chance to start getting information operations into our (CAF-DND) routine,’ the rear admiral stated.”

  • “Yet another review centred on the Canadian Forces public affairs branch and its activities. Last year, the branch launched a controversial plan that would have allowed military public affairs officers to use propaganda to change attitudes and behaviours of Canadians as well as to collect and analyze information from public social media accounts.”

  • “The plan would have seen staff move from traditional government methods of communicating with the public to a more aggressive strategy of using information warfare and influence tactics on Canadians.”

So they’re not just employing mass-scale psychological operations on the public, they’re testing them and learning from them.

And we can probably assume that anything which may have been learned was also shared with the government agencies of other NATO members.

In a new article titled “Behind NATO’s ‘cognitive warfare’: Western militaries are waging a ‘battle for your brain’”, The Grayzone’s Ben Norton reports on how recent NATO-sponsored discussions have explicitly advocated the need to advance the science of cognitive warfare for offensive as well as defensive purposes.

Some excerpts:

  • “NATO is spinning out an entirely new kind of combat it has branded as cognitive warfare. Described as the ‘weaponization of brain sciences,’ the new method involves ‘hacking the individual’ by exploiting ‘the vulnerabilities of the human brain’ in order to implement more sophisticated ‘social engineering.’

  • “While the NATO-backed study insisted that much of its research on cognitive warfare is designed for defensive purposes, it also conceded that the military alliance is developing offensive tactics, stating, ‘The human is very often the main vulnerability and it should be acknowledged in order to protect NATO’s human capital but also to be able to benefit from our adversaries’s vulnerabilities.’”

  • “In a chilling disclosure, the report stated explicitly that ‘the objective of Cognitive Warfare is to harm societies and not only the military.’”

  • “The study described this phenomenon as ‘the militarization of brain science.’ But it appears clear that NATO’s development of cognitive warfare will lead to a militarization of all aspects of human society and psychology, from the most intimate of social relationships to the mind itself.”

  • “In other words, this document shows that figures in the NATO military cartel increasingly see their own domestic population as a threat, fearing civilians to be potential Chinese or Russian sleeper cells, dastardly ‘fifth columns’ that challenge the stability of ‘Western liberal democracies.’”

  • “Naturally, the NATO researcher claimed foreign ‘adversaries’ are the supposed aggressors employing cognitive warfare. But at the same time, he made it clear that the Western military alliance is developing its own tactics.”

In a 2017 essay titled “The War on Sensemaking”, writer Jordan Greenhall made an observation that I have thought about ever since: that the science of modern propaganda has been in research and development for more than a century now, and has necessarily advanced scientifically just as much as other fields in the military have.

“In 1917, a young Edward Bernays was asked to help the American war effort by applying his uncle Sigmund Freud’s theories of the unconscious to a new German technique called ‘propaganda’,” Greenhall writes.

“The technology of war moves quickly. In the span of one and a half centuries, the last war leapt from long rifles to repeating rifles to gatling guns all the way to Little Boy. The warfighters of the current war haven’t dawdled. The wars of culture, meaning and purpose have seen innovation on an ‘exponential technology curve.’ The artisanal efforts of Bernays and Goebbels have been left far in the past by modern methods.”

Think about how many technological advancements there have been in the military over the last century. Our rulers have been refining their methods of manipulating our sensemaking abilities to their advantage throughout that entire time, and only a small minority of us have even begun to realize that that manipulation is even happening. We’re just learning to play checkers while they’re mastering 3-D chess.

I don’t have any solutions to this problem other than to spread consciousness of the fact that it is happening. Propaganda only works if you don’t understand (A) that it is happening to you and (B) how it is occurring, and a basic awareness of the fact that there’s a globe-spanning campaign to manipulate human thought to the advantage of the powerful is the first step toward having that understanding. Having the humility to understand that you yourself can be manipulated and deceived is the second step.

My hope is that humanity will transcend its psychological susceptibility to manipulation and move into a healthy relationship with mental narrative as our adapt-or-die precipice draws nearer. But time will only tell.

*  *  *

My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following me on FacebookTwitterSoundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into my tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy my books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here.

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Tyler Durden Fri, 10/15/2021 - 23:10

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The Bitcoin Rorschach Test

Bitcoin as an idea can be thought of, like a Rorschach test, as the interpretation of the particular context it presents.

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Bitcoin as an idea can be thought of, like a Rorschach test, as the interpretation of the particular context it presents.

TXID: cdd8014a379a8731fc9e9ba1fef8954ccda9e8300356c6f198144dee11bcdd36

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We would like to think of ourselves as masters of technology. We are the craftsmen, practitioners and creators. This assumption underpins many of our accepted models for understanding history. It’s a comforting way to view the world, with humanity and its heroes as the authors of our destiny. What is a far more uncomfortable truth is that technology equally creates and influences us, and molds the collective behavior that we call culture.

The invention of agriculture made the town the primary social unit, while the mass production of the automobile created cultures of independent holiday makers, commuters and suburbs. Every time Spotify autoplays a new song, when you visit a new restaurant based on its Yelp rating, Tinder’s algorithm displays or does not display you a potential date or a QR code allows health agencies to track and mandate the movements of individuals in a pandemic, technology is influencing culture.

Our choice of technologies - the appliances we use, the cars we drive, the operating systems we choose and the social media platforms which we engage in discourse on shape our lives by what they accentuate and what they hinder, defining the range of actions that are acceptable or prohibited. Technology is not only how human beings sculpt the world in their image, but in framing and defining the range of actions that are possible and encouraged, technology also sculpts who we become.

Producing paper is vastly more efficient than producing parchment, which requires around 200 animal hides to create a single book. Source 1, Source 2

The Qur’an says that good Muslims should seek knowledge, and as a consequence, mathematics, science and engineering flourished in Eastern antiquity. Cultural attitudes led to the invention of paper, which allowed information to be recorded far more efficiently and easily than with papyrus or parchment, which was the popular medium in Europe, where many kings remained illiterate up to the thirteenth century. Our choice of technologies is prescriptive of our character, how others perceive us, and ultimately our destinies.

Yet however potent a technology may be, it ultimately requires a user to be motivated to activate it, to switch it on, to use it, and that user will use it in the manner that they see as most aligned with their beliefs, their will and their intention, and how they see themselves reflected in it. In this sense all technologies are first and foremost tools for individual self-actualization, expression and exploration, a window or framework to understand who we are.

Hermann Rorschach was a Swiss psychologist born in 1884, Zurich, Switzerland. Known to his school friends as “Klex,” due to his enjoyment of klecksography, a child’s game making elaborate pictures from inkblots. As a young adult, he was torn between following his father into the arts or a career in science. He eventually settled on medical school where he majored in psychology.

During his studies, he came across the work of psychiatrist Szyman Hens who had experimented with using inkblots to study the fantasies of his patients. Rorschach saw the opportunity to combine his interest in the arts and the emerging field of psychoanalysis.

After much research and experimentation, he settled on a set of inkblots and a system for scoring the responses to them. He published what has come to be known as the Rorschach test in his 1921 book “Psychodiagnostik.”

Hermann Rorschach

The test itself is administered by presenting the subject with 10 cards in turn and asking them “what might this be?” It’s made clear that there are no right or wrong answers, the subject can pick up the card and view it from any position or orientation they desire, and they’re free to interpret the image however they want. The goal is for them to verbalize what the image suggests to them, with total freedom. Following this the examiner reads the subject’s responses back to them and asks the subject to clarify or elaborate where necessary, not to elicit further information but simply to ensure they have sufficiently accurate information to accurately score the test. The objective is to establish what is being perceived, where it is in the inkblot, and how particular inkblot features contribute to or help determine the response.

The subject’s responses are then used to determine a scoring on several metrics via a complex coding system. The scoring is not based primarily on what the individual says they see in the inkblot. In fact, the contents of the response are only a comparatively small portion of a broader set of data including response times, remarks and comments unrelated to the test, the originality or lack of originality of the responses, and the emotions, attitude, and frame of mind of the subject.

The Rorschach test takes a common stimulus and uses it as a context; the conscious and unconscious reactions of the subject towards that context are data points to better understand their mind.

Earlier we elaborated on how the context provided by a “thing” influences what we create or express, and the way we choose to use it is an act of self-exploration, i.e., it reflects who we are and what we will become. Rorschach similarly understood that by using the context of a fixed set of images and recording the wildly different interpretations created by an individual’s imagination in reaction to each, we could gain insight into a person's mind, and how they were likely to behave in the future.

It is human nature that we can’t help but to project our imaginations onto a thing, and these things, whether they be an inkblot on canvas, an automobile, or a computer program provide context, framing and boundaries for the expression of that imagination. This combination of imagination and framing decides how we act, and over time, what we become - our destiny.

Image source

Since Bitcoin’s invention people have debated what it really is — a peer-to-peer payments system, a form of digital gold, anonymous digital cash, a censorship-resistant means of transmitting value, an immutable ledger of data, the first primitive prototype of a new computing technology called the blockchain, a craze to speculate on, a Ponzi scheme, a tool for extortionists, drug dealers, terrorists and pedophiles? What is Bitcoin?

From Satoshi’s whitepaper, to early discussion on the Bitcointalk forum and the cypherpunks mailing list, to Laszlo Hanyecz’s purchase of a pizza, through the drama of Mt.Gox and Silk Road, and the explosion of other copycats or newcomers looking to be “like bitcoin but with x”, the common perceptions of what bitcoin is and what it means have changed since its inception. Today the popular consensus seems to be that bitcoin is a type of hard money, or digital gold. In five years, with the proliferation of technologies on Layer 2 and beyond like Lightning (that enables a word of utility anchored on the ultimate truth of the Bitcoin blockchain) it's quite possible that this popular consensus will be something altogether different.

Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, Source 4

In truth Bitcoin is all of those things and it is none of them. It’s just code. Ultimately someone has to run that code, to mine the blocks, to send and verify the transactions. Their collective actions decide what Bitcoin is. Anyone could fork the open-source code and decide to raise or lower any value, that this or that is valid or invalid, defaulted on or defaulted off, or even increase the supply or issuance. If a sufficient majority of users agree to mine, verify and transact based on that code, this is Bitcoin, at least by the most objective measures possible.

More importantly though, how users collectively decide to act within the boundaries of what is permissible within this chaotic consensus defines what Bitcoin really is, defining its impact on the world and on our lives. Although the code provides an incorruptible, predictable source of truth, the ramifications of that truth are profoundly different in a world where all bitcoin is held by large banks, governments and corporate treasuries and therefore the legal regulations, political reality, societal norms and cultures of compliance dictate the average person interacts with it in a permissioned fashion, much like the legacy banking system. This would be a much different reality than an alternative where every user uses their own full node as a source of truth, holds the keys to their coins and makes informed decisions on the software they run based on its benefits for privacy and self-sovereignty. The aggregate state of affairs that emerges from these actions and values determines what Bitcoin actually is, not the software, or the network, but what it means for the world around us.

“Bitcoin” the network (capital B) and “bitcoin” the asset or currency (lower-case b) are in fact two separate (though highly-interrelated) things. They can exist without each other. For example, if there was an unprecedented worldwide internet outage the network would halt, transactions and blocks would cease to be broadcast, but the ledger itself would remain unchanged. Likewise the Bitcoin peer-to-peer network can broadcast messages and seek to create a global network of connected computers, without any blocks or transactions needing to take place. There exists a third completely separate thing from Bitcoin the network or bitcoin the currency, Bitcoin the idea.

Bitcoin the idea is like the Rorschach test, a particular interpretation of a thing, based on an individual’s experiences, personalities and biases, dreams and fantasies. Your ability to influence the ledger is limited by your financial means divided by the market cap of bitcoin; your ability to influence the network itself even more negligible, determined by the software implementation you run, the parameters you choose and the infrastructure you deploy — all of which must be largely in lockstep with the majority of the network. But your ability to influence Bitcoin the idea is where you have the greatest agency, to answer the Bitcoin Rorschach test, to decide individually what Bitcoin the idea is, and what you will do with it.

Without the robust software, the hash power, the businesses and the products and services that build out the network, Bitcoin the idea is little more than a kumbaya Ponzi scheme which a top-knotted 30-something influencer would shill you on Instagram. Equally it is true that without the recognition of Bitcoin the idea, bitcoin the currency would have no value: there would be no hash power, no nodes, no ecosystem, and the economic incentives that today secure it against almost any conceivable attack vector would not exist. Although it may seem inconceivable now remember that for several years Bitcoin existed in a form largely identical to what it is today, with almost all the value propositions of the technology and protocol we know today but had no value, or it was traded for loose change. It is not the technology itself that increased its value, it was the collective recognition of its brilliance, the growth of Bitcoin as a meme is what led to there being any price, let alone the prices, ecosystem and the hash rate we have today.

No one can own a culture, they are the collective possession of its participants.

We are here because people see themselves in Bitcoin; they will project their values, their hopes, their aspirations, whatever they want the world to be, onto a technology, onto Bitcoin. A sound money, a way to make more of your chosen fiat currency or buy a Lamborghini, a way to buy drugs, a way to make payments that otherwise are prohibited or impossible, a social club to meet people, a way to sound smart and impress people on the internet, an interesting technology, a way to get a job, a way to provide a nest egg for their children, a ray of hope in a dystopian world. It doesn’t matter, Bitcoin is all of these things and none of them, what matters is how its users use it.

Bitcoin is not a centralized service but a peer-to-peer network and state of affairs controlled by its users despite their disparity of views. Anyone can download it, anyone can fork the software or contribute code, there is no CEO of Bitcoin, it has no official website or spokesperson. Bitcoin has more in common with punk rock music or Rastafarianism, or Oaxacan tradition than a centralized top-down entity like Spotify, Tinder, or something owned by a government agency or a corporation. No one makes the rules in Bitcoin, we all do. Bitcoin is solely the possession of its community of users. Bitcoin is a culture, Bitcoin is a meme.

“Birds of a feather flock together.”

Image source

People stared at the inkblot of Bitcoin and acted on what their imagination showed them. Bitcoin itself is simply the aggregate actions of thousands of these otherwise-unrelated individuals participating in a network because their imagination told them it is of benefit to their own ends to do so.

Bitcoin is living technology, an economically self-sustaining culture, the aggregate sum of all its users, who participate because they see themselves in Bitcoin. Without them, it is simply another repo on GitHub.

This is a guest post by CoinsureNZ. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC, Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.

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Bitcoin Education For Indonesia

The Indonesia Bitcoin Conference is a chance to educate Indonesians about a better savings technology.

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The Indonesia Bitcoin Conference is a chance to educate Indonesians about a better savings technology.

Bitcoin represents a new and open internet standard for hard money. Nowadays, with the increasing awareness about bitcoin’s superior properties, it is increasingly being adopted by global financial institutions as pristine collateral, a longer-term store of value, and unstoppable money. We believe that bitcoin was not formed in a vacuum. Like any other technology, bitcoin was invented to fix problems; in this case, the global economic problem.

Indonesia represents the fourth-largest population in the world, with 60% of the citizens owning smartphones. As a country that has experienced hyperinflations in the past, it is crucial for Indonesians to understand what bitcoin stands for. Most Indonesians at the moment see and treat bitcoin as a get-rich-quick scheme. Due to lack of information and comprehensive education in Bahasa Indonesia, many have fallen into scams that are associated with the words bitcoin, blockchain, ”crypto” and mining.

Indonesians wanting to invest have also struggled with mismanagement and corruption. Over the years, we’ve seen cases of fund managers and property developers (similar to the crypto space) who were unable to deliver on their promises and failed to return their customers’ money. This has happened both in the private sector and also in government. News of these cases can easily be found online, both in Indonesian and in English. Even some of Indonesia’s Covid-19 relief funds were embezzled. For these reasons, Indonesians desperately need savings that not only perform, but are also trustworthy.

For years, Indonesians have preferred savings in gold and property; now bitcoin, a better alternative, has dawned. Since Covid-19, all of the other markets have experienced stagnation. The latest government bond SR015 yields 5.1%. The economy was declared to be in a recession since Q3 2020, and is currently trying to climb out of the recession. In the midst of this, bitcoin continues to gain traction, with an approximate 90% gain YTD (October 2021) as an indicator of its dominating performance.

We believe the majority of Indonesians will leapfrog from gold and property markets straight into digital assets (bypassing bonds and securities). This would be similar to how most Indonesians bypassed the use of PCs and most adopted Android smartphones. The government data shows that the number of people in the digital assets space already reached 6.5 million people at the end of May 2021, way more than the 5.4 million people in the stock market. 20 years of user growth in the stock market was easily surpassed by 1 year of user growth in the digital assets space.

Number of smartphone users in Indonesia from 2017 to 2020 with forecasts until 2026. Source: Statista

Indonesia Bitcoin Conference: A Leap For Better Education

There are many challenges for bitcoin adoption as the best savings technology in the country. It is not easy to understand Bitcoin, and requires a multidisciplinary approach. The Indonesia Bitcoin Conference is a way for Indonesians to get proper information and education about Bitcoin. This conference features speakers from Indonesia and abroad such as Saifedean Ammous, Robert Breedlove and Danny Taniwan.

With topics such as the future of crypto exchanges, mining, retiring with bitcoin, Lightning Network, and bitcoin through the islamic lense, we hope to change the mindset of Indonesians about bitcoin.

The Indonesia Bitcoin Conference will happen on October 31, 2021, the same date as when Satoshi Nakamoto published his Bitcoin whitepaper as the beginning of the monetary revolution.

Visit the conference website for ticketing information: http://indonesiabitcoinconference.com

This is a guest post by Konsultan BTC . Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC, Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.

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