Friday, November 17, 2017

How To Invest in Cryptocurrencies: The Ultimate Beginners Guide


How To Invest in Cryptocurrencies: The Ultimate Beginners Guide

An in-depth guide by BlockGeeks

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This guide explains how you invest in cryptocurrencies. Why should you invest in them? Which cryptocurrencies should you put in your portfolio? Where can you buy them, how can you store them, and how do you need to tax them? We try to give answers to the most urgent questions about investing in cryptocurrencies.

Disclaimer before continuing: We are not a financial institution: All we are proving is educational material: Do not take this information as professional investment advice.



Introduction: To Invest in Cryptocurrencies: The Ultimate Beginners Guide

If you landed on this text, you might be already interested in investing in cryptocurrencies. Virtual or crypto currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are definitely by far the hottest investment product currently available. These immutable and exchangeable cryptographic token promise to become a hard and non-manipulatable money for the whole world. Their advocates see a future in which Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies will substitute Euro, Dollar and so on and create the first free and hard world currency.

Holding Bitcoin means to have a share in this venture. If Bitcoin ever replaces monetary reserves of central banks or becomes the dominant currency for international trades – just to name two examples — the value of one Bitcoin will be far beyond 10,000 Dollar. Buying and keeping cryptocurrencies is a bet on the success of this silent revolution of money. It's like a security of a large ecosystem.

In the past, investors in cryptocurrencies have been ridiculously successful. Let's have a look at three charts, which show the price of Bitcoin, Ethereum and all cryptocurrencies combined.



Since 2011, Bitcoin generated an increase in the value of at least 25,000 percent. Since a linear chart can't represent this increase, we need to use an exponential chart.



Since May 2016, Ethereum value shot up by 2,700 percent. That's maybe the fastest rally a cryptocurrency ever demonstrated.



And talking about all cryptocurrencies – the complete market cap soared by 10,000 percent since mid-2013.

Can you trust an asset, which demonstrated this incredible vertical take-off? Must it not be a bubble?

Sure: it would have been better to invest one year ago, two years ago or six years ago. But if you understand the potential of also be found and if your belief in their vision of money, today might be the best day possible to start investing in it. That's why we wrote a guide explaining how to invest in cryptocurrencies. We will tell you how you create a cryptocurrency-portfolio, where you buy cryptocurrencies, how you store them and how you tax your gains.

This said we need to note that cryptocurrencies are not a normal investment. The volatility grossly exceeds that of any other investment class. It is to some parts unregulated. There is the risk that cryptocurrencies get outlawed, that exchanges get hacked or that you lose your cryptocurrency key. Cryptocurrencies are a high-risk investment.

So an important advice is to only invest as much that you can keep on living and be if all of it goes to zero. Like Wence Casares, CEO of Xapo, said in an AMA on bitcoin.com:

"I always tell them [my family] that the second most stupid thing they could do right now is to own an amount of bitcoins they cannot afford to lose and the most stupid thing they could do would be to not own any. "

With this quote, we start our guide.

Why Invest in Cryptocurrencies And Why Not?

Besides what was already said, there are three major good reasons to invest in cryptocurrencies. First, because you want to hedge your net-worth against the fall of the Dollar imperium, which is assumed by many people to inevitably happen at some time. Second, because you support the social vision behind cryptocurrencies – that of a free and hard money for the whole world. Third, because you understand and like the technology.

However, there are also very bad reasons to invest in cryptocurrencies. Many people fall victim to the hype surrounding every cryptocurrency-bubble. There is always somebody captured by FOMO (fear of missing out), buying massively in at the peak of a bubble, just in hope to make quick money, while not understanding cryptocurrencies at all. That's a bad reason. Don't do this. Learn before you invest.

What Cryptocurrencies Should I buy? Building your Portfolio.

The former only crypto has been Bitcoin. Up until late 2016 Bitcoin was the cryptocurrency, and there was not much besides it. If you wanted to invest in the success of cryptocurrencies, you bought Bitcoin. Period. Other cryptocurrencies – called "Altcoins" – have just been penny stocks on shady online-markets, mostly used to keep miner's GPUs working, pump the price and dump the coins.

However, this has changed. While Bitcoin is still the dominant cryptocurrency, in 2017 it's share of the whole crypto-market has rapidly fallen from 90 to around 40 percent. Many people saw this coming as a result of the growing popularity of Ethereum and the ongoing self-tearing of the Bitcoin community over the blocksize issue. This again shows that it is important to keep your eyes open and listen to what the communities say.

If you want to invest in cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin is still a standard item of every portfolio – but it is no longer the onliest asset. In every well-balanced crypto-portfolio today you find other coins, like:

A good starting point to put together your portfolio should be the website coinmarketcap.

  • Ethereum
  • Ripple
  • Litecoin
  • Dash
  • Monero
  • And more


Here you see the "market cap" of all relevant nations. Market cap means the value of all token available. It is not a perfect metric, but likely the best we have to recognize the value of a cryptocurrency.

If you want to have a balanced portfolio at one point in time, it might be a good strategy to simply reflect the ten most valuable currencies in your portfolio. More interesting however is it to take some time, read about those coins, decide, if their vision gets you and make this to the base of your asset selection.

For example, you'll find some coins focused on privacy, like:

  • Dash
  • Monero
  • Zcash

Some on smart contracting, like Ethereum and Ethereum Classic, and some on scaling payments, like Litecoin and, again, Dash. Some coins, like Ripple or Nem or Bitshares, seem to be less open and decentralized as Bitcoin and other coins.

The cryptocurrency markets are a blazing, often confusing ecosystem, in which you find thousands of chances to win a lot of money – and to lose it. Every day gives birth to new coins and death to some old coins. Every day sees some coins heavily falling, and some vertically raising.

If you buy altcoins, there are some rules to discriminate the good from the bad. Good coins have a transparent technical vision, an active development team, and a vivid, enthusiastic community. Bad coins are in transparent, promote fuzzy technical advantages without explaining how to reach them, and have a community which is mostly focused on getting rich. Maybe the worst shatter of cryptocurrencies are the MLM coins, for example, OneCoin, which target the technical uninformed with a multi level marketing system, promising to be the next Bitcoin. Beware of them!

How to buy Cryptocurrencies?

While some years ago it was a real Odyssey to buy cryptocurrencies, today you have a full scope of options.

Exchange traded notes and more

Let's begin with buying Bitcoin. That's the easiest part. Some people want to invest in Bitcoin without having the trouble of storing them.

They can use investment vehicles like the XBT tracker (available on Swedish and German exchanges), the Bitcoin investment trust on Second Markets (USA), the Bitcoin ETI (Gibraltar and Germany) and some more. As Bitcoin rises, more and more brokers and exchanges try to setup a Bitcoin based financial product.

All these investment products have in common that they enable investors to bet on Bitcoin's price without actually buying Bitcoin. While most cryptocurrency-fans think that this takes away the whole fun and sense of it, for many people it is the easiest way to invest in Bitcoin's success. You can use the investment channels you already are used to, and if something goes wrong, you have your certificate and someone to take to the court.

Currently, no such investment product exists which covers more cryptocurrencies. But there are some in progress, both in the USA and in Europe.

Buying Real Bitcoin on Exchanges

If you want to experience possessing real Bitcoins – or if you want to avoid paying the partly high fees for investment products – you should start buying Bitcoin directly. For doing so, you have a lot of options all over the world. Just look at our guide listing a large part of the world's Bitcoin exchanges.

For example, in Europe, you can use:

USA

Asia

  • OKCoin
  • BTCChina
  • BitFlyer

Mostly buying Bitcoin is not a big problem. You open up an account at the exchange, verify your identity – this is required due to Anti-Money-Laundering rules in most jurisdictions – and fund your account with Dollar or Euro or whatever paper money you use. On some exchanges, like Bitcoin.de, you don't need to fund your account, but trade directly with other users.

The question, what exchange to use depends mostly where you live. It's alway better to use an exchange physically close to you. If it is located in the same jurisdiction like you, you have the best chances to get money legally back if some bad things happen. If no exchange is located in your jurisdiction, it is better to use exchanges based in stable countries with a good legal system.

Another factor to decide which exchange you use is some coins you want to buy and your patience. If you want to acquire large sums of Bitcoins fastly, you need to use one of the major exchanges which provide enough liquidity. If you only want to buy small amounts of coins and if you are not in a hurry, you can try to buy them on small exchanges. If your order gets filled, you most likely will get better prices than on big exchanges.

Buying other Cryptocurrencies

Other than Bitcoins Altcoins are somehow harder to acquire. Some major exchanges like Kraken, BitFinex, and BitStamp, have started to list some popular Altcoins, like Litecoin, Ethereum, Monero, and Ripple. If they are part of your portfolio, don't hesitate to buy all at one stop shop.

But there are hundreds of cryptocurrencies out there. If you want to go to a crypto supermarket, where you can buy and sell most of them, you need to register at what is usually called an altcoin exchange.

Examples are:

  • Bittrex
  • Yunbi
  • Bithumb
  • Poloniex.

Again, the site coinmarketcap is useful, as it lists all crypto exchanges, sorted by trade volume.

The Altcoin exchanges have less strict KYC (know your customer) rules, as here you usually don't trade with fiat money. You can fund your account with Bitcoin, which serves as a unit of account for the altcoin markets, similar to the Dollar's function on the Forex markets.

Like with Bitcoin exchanges you should be careful to choose an exchange with a high trust level. However, most altcoin exchanges are not regulated, and many are located in Asia. So you never should place too much trust in them, as you have nearly no chance to get anything back if they are hacked or file bankruptcy. But exchanges like Poloniex and Bittrex are based in the US and have a long history of providing a secure and safe trading environment.

Is there a good time to buy?

There is no general rule when to buy cryptocurrencies. Usually it is not a good idea to buy in at the peak of a bubble, and usually, it is also not a good idea to buy it when it is crashing. Never catch a falling knife, as the trader's wisdom says. Best time might be when the price is stable at a relatively low level.

The art of trading is to decide when a crypto is in bubble mode and when it reached the bottom after falling. What is easy to say in retrospective is a hard question in the present, which can never be answered with absolute certainty. Sometimes a coin starts to raise, and after it passes a mark, where everybody thinks this must be the peak of a bubble, the real rally just begins.

For example, many people did not buy Bitcoins at $1,000 or Ethereum at $100, because it seemed to be crazily expensive. But some month later these prices appear to have been a good moment to start.

There is only two advice about timing we can give. First, don't compare crypto bubbles with traditional financial bubbles. 10 percent up is not a bubble but can be daily volatility. 100 percent up can be a bubble, but often it is just the start of it. 1,000 percent might be a bubble usually, but there is no guarantee that it pops.

Second, take some time to watch. Don't buy in, because there was a dip. There might be another. And don't buy in, because you fear that it will explode tomorrow. Watch it, get yourself informed, buy it, when you think the timing is good. And, maybe most important: don't be a weak hand. Don't sell too early. Hold. The monetary revolution has just started.

How To Store Cryptocurrencies?

After you acquired cryptocurrencies, the most important question is how to store them. You have several options which enable you to find your balance of risks.

Keep them off  an Exchange

If you invested not only in Bitcoin but in several Altcoins, there is usually no way around keeping coins on an exchange. You don't want to get in the trouble of installing, compiling, malware checking, using, syncing and updating the software for every coin you invested in.

More as in the process of buying, the trust in an exchange becomes very important, when you store your coins there. There is a long history of hacks and bankruptcies in cryptocurrency markets, most famous the hack of Mt. Gox, which sucked up hundreds of millions of customer's Dollars. So if you use an exchange to store your coins, you should gather some information:

  • Where are they located?
  • Are the owners known?
  • Since when do they operate?
  • Do they provide some audits to ensure you that all the coins are available?
  • How do they react to customer's requests?

For example, for people in the EU, Bitcoin.de enjoys a strong trust level. The exchange operates without loss of customer's funds since 2011, the owners are well known in the German and European community, and an annual audit by external company checks if all coins are available. This level of trust, however, can rarely be achieved when you hold a lot of altcoins. That's the risk you need to take.

Our Recommendation: Store them by yourself

The real revolutionary property of cryptocurrencies is the autonomy they grant the individual. This property can be found also and above all when it comes to storing cryptocurrencies. You don't need anybody. Not to help, and not to trust. All you need is to download a free and open software.

Again, you have most options with Bitcoin. For the most famous cryptocurrency, there exist a lot of wallets for every device. This software can be used to receive, store and send Bitcoins. There is the Bitcoin client, the so called full node, which grants the highest level of autonomy, but also requires a lot of time to sync and disk to store the blockchain. Easier to use are thin clients like Electrum. These are available for every device.

It's important to know that when storing crypto by yourself, it is solely you who is responsible for the safety and security of your coins. If your smartphones fall in the water, your coins could be gone. If you get a malware on your computer, your coins could be gone. And so on.

Fortunately, you have more than one option to make a backup. First, you can copy your wallet file on a USB stick. Better use two or three. Second, you can print out your private key. This is the onliest information you need to reconstruct access to coins belonging to a certain address, everywhere and every time. Third a lot of wallets support so called seeds, which are sentences of 12 to 24 random words. With them, you can not only rescue a single address, but every address ever made with this wallet. If you print them out, you don't need to worry about your coins.

One of the safest options to store Bitcoins is hardware wallets like Trezor or Ledger. This is either smartcards or micro machines, which can generate keys and sign transactions without the main computer directly involved. The most vulnerable parts of Bitcoin – the private keys – don't get in touch with the internet at all. However, deemed as even safer are paper wallets. This simply means you print out your backup and delete the wallet from any machine which is connected to the Internet. No connection, no computer, no hacker. Just a piece of paper, which can store millions or billions of Dollar.

Like with most things, the infrastructure of Altcoins can't compete with Bitcoin's. Some popular altcoins, like Litecoin, Ripple, and Ethereum, can be stored in hardware wallets. If you know what you do, you can also use paper wallets for any Altcoin, as the fundamental cryptographic concepts remain the same.

Some Lightwallet, for example, Exodus, can store several coins beside Bitcoin, for example, Ethereum, Dash, Litecoin, and Dogecoin. Also, Electrum can be used to store Litecoins and Dash.

But there is no easy one stop shop to store a huge variety of Altcoins by yourself. If you want to do so, you need to download the client of all these coins, download its blockchain and keep it updated. If your portfolio consists of 10 or 20 coins, and playing around with software is not your hobby, you can safely cut this option and use exchanges.

What's with Taxes and so on?

Disclaimer: We are no tax bureau nor tax consultants. If you have issues with taxes, and if large sums are at stake, you better ask your local tax consultant.

Right now there are only a few tax consultants who know how to deal with cryptocurrencies. But it can be safely assumed that the number is growing quickly and that cryptocurrencies will soon be a standard issue for tax experts like securities, shares, ETFs and real estates are.

All we can provide here is an overview of the typical issues with cryptocurrencies and taxes.

No free lunch

Nothing is for sure, except death and taxes. The same goes on with cryptocurrencies. If you earn money by investing in cryptocurrencies, you likely have to pay taxes. Like it is with everything else.

How you need to tax cryptocurrency investment returns is up to your national tax jurisdiction.

The Good News …

There is some good news about the topic of cryptocurrencies and taxes. First, in nearly every country of the world cryptocurrencies are VAT exempt. Like with every financial product you don't need to pay VAT when selling Bitcoin. There have been some ideas of tax authorities in Poland, Estonia, Germany, Australia and Sweden to demand VAT on crypto sales, but after the European Court smashed this down in an important decision, VAT for Bitcoins seems to have become a non-topic.

Another good news is that in some jurisdictions you have to pay nearly no taxes. Amazingly Germany, a country usually known for very high tax rates, has become a tax haven for cryptocurrencies. Like the USA and many other countries, Germany considers Bitcoin not a financial product, but a property. This means that if you earn money by trading it, you don't pay a flat tax for financial income – which is 25 percent, for example for bank account interest – but you have to tax the profit of buying and selling cryptocurrencies like income.

It's more as you sold your house than a security.

  • You bought 10 Bitcoins for 1,000 Euro and sold them for 2,000? Your taxable income increased by 10,000 Euro.
  • You bought one bitcoin for 100 Euro and ordered a 10-Euro-pizza when the price was 1,000 Euro? Your income increased by 9 Euro.  In most cases, the tax rate for this is higher than for financial gains.

However, there is a loophole. If you hold your coins for more than 1 year, you don't need to pay taxes at all when you sell it. This rule was added to dis-incentivize day trading of other properties and stabilize prices by incentivizing holders. For cryptocurrencies it made Germany, and also the Netherlands, which apply the same rules, to tax havens. Some countries might have similar rules. In doubt, your tax advisor can help you out.

One problem the one year rule poses is that you need to prove that you hold the crypto for this timeframe. Usually, exchanges can help you with prints of your trade history. Also, you can use the public blockchain as a proof of storage. In most cryptocurrencies, it is transparent when coins are received and spent by a particular address. But not in all. For example, Monero uses Ring Signatures and Confidential Transactions, which are great tools to maintain anonymity. But the downside is that they make it more or less impossible to prove that you hold coins more than one year. Maybe you take this into account when selecting coins for your portfolio.

The Bad News …

If you use a good exchange and keep track of your trades, taxing Bitcoin is possible, but also a pain in the ass. You need to calculate every single profit, not just from trading, but also from using Bitcoins to pay for things.

But that's just the beginning. Things become really a complicated nightmare if it comes to Altcoins. For the tax authorities, an Altcoin counts like Bitcoin. In most countries, this means it is not a financial product, but a property. If you buy it with Bitcoin and sell it for Bitcoin, you have to tax the difference, but not in Bitcoin, but in Dollar or you national paper money. This means, you not only need to keep track of all your Altcoin trades, but you also need to take into account the price of Bitcoin when buying and selling.

Obviously, this makes things extremely complicated. You can have a bad trade, resulting in getting less Bitcoin back than you invested, but being still, in theory, accountable to taxes, when the price of Bitcoin did soar between your trades. So you lost money in trading but have to pay taxes for it.

At this moment you should accept the fact that cryptocurrencies are something new and that you are no expert in dealing with your financial authorities. Go for a tax consultant, educate her or him about cryptocurrencies and look forward to talking with confused financial authority officials.

And enjoy investing in cryptocurrencies.

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Adrienne L den Tex



Six More Megabanks Join 'USC' Blockchain Currency Project - Bitsonline


Six More Megabanks Join 'USC' Blockchain Currency Project

989 Views

Six more of the largest banks in the world have joined the blockchain-based "utility settlement coin" (USC) project. The financial consortium now wants to work closer with central banks.

Also read: Korea's Coinplug Says New CPDAX Exchange Will Focus on Security, Stability

Barclays, Credit Suisse, HSBC, MUFG, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and State Street joined the group yesterday. The utility settlement coin project started a year ago with founders UBS, Deutsche Bank, Santander, and BNY Mellon.

Several (but not all) members of the group are also part of the R3 consortium of financial institutions. USC itself is not an R3 project, however — it's based on a product designed by Clearmatics Technologies.

USC also has competitors: Goldman Sachs received a patent for a rival technology called "SETLcoin" in July 2017.

USC Would Free Up Billions, Speed Inter-Bank Transactions

The new USC currency would, in theory, use blockchain or distributed ledger technology to clear and settle inter-bank transactions more efficiently. Scheduled to go live in late 2018, it will also help free up billions of dollars the banks use to back up international trades.

Bitcoin Chain Hard ForkUSC coins will be easily convertible into various national fiat currencies and financial securities (such as bonds and equities) traded between the banks.

Currently, the banks (like ordinary companies and people) rely on centralized clearing houses to process and finalize transactions. This is time and resource consuming. The hope is that blockchain technology will enable faster and less expensive transactions, just as Bitcoin promises for everyone else.

According to a FT report, the group intends to introduce the new system incrementally and with caution at every step. Banks were initially skeptical of blockchain over fears of fraud, security and privacy — but have gradually been swayed. These issues are at the forefront of the group's talks with central banks.

Should the Bitcoin and Blockchain Industry Be Interested in Big Banks?

Some in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry have wondered aloud if large international institutions really need decentralized technology.

"Why would big banks need blockchain for clearing and settlement? They are centralized anyway, and on-chain transactions are harder to process," said Fei Fei, VP of corporate alliances at decentralized banking project LakeBanker.

"Small patches to the existing banking system are nothing revolutionary. This is not in the spirit of blockchain or decentralization."

Actually Good News for Bitcoin, Blockchain?

Whether the result is clear efficiency gains for mega-banks or not, the news may be welcome for other blockchain projects too.

Half the battle for Bitcoin and blockchain is acceptance — convincing the public their technology is legitimate and safe.

Perhaps these so-called "bankchain" projects aren't revolutionary to the average person. Indeed, many in the blockchain industry aim to replace the current financial system, rather than work within it.

However projects like USC and SETL grab headlines, and play a role in explaining and "normalizing" blockchain and cryptocurrencies. They build trust and confidence in open digital assets like Bitcoin and Ethereum, among an audience who may otherwise be reluctant.

What's your opinion on USC, SETL and other "bankchain" projects? Let us know.






Goldman Sachs Granted 'SETLcoin' Cryptocurrency Patent - CoinDesk

old news at this point

Goldman Sachs Granted 'SETLcoin' Cryptocurrency Patent

Investment bank Goldman Sachs has been awarded a patent for its proposed "SETLcoin" cryptocurrency settlement system.

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published Goldman's patent on July 11, entitled "Cryptographic currency for securities settlement". The bank made headlines when the existence of the patent application was revealed in late 2015. 

The concept envisions a system for settling securities trades using a built-in cryptocurrency. When filed in December of that year, the application notably outlined methods for exchanging SETLcoins for digitized stocks for firms like Google and Microsoft, as well as cryptocurrencies, naming bitcoin and litecoin in particular.

Here's how Goldman describes the system:

"[A] SETLcoin wallet can house a single security or multiple denominations of the same security (e.g., 1 IBM-S SETLcoin valued at 100 IBM shares). SETLcoin wallets may also house multiple securities (e.g., 1 IBM-S SETLcoin and 2 GOOG-S SETLcoins). For example, a single IBM-S SETLcoin may be exchangeable for one or more "GOOG" SETLcoins (i.e., Google shares), for 13,000 USD SETLcoins, 100 litecoins, and/or for 5 bitcoins."

Goldman's patent application was initially filed in October 2014. Paul Walker, co-head of the bank's technology division, and Phil Venables, chief information risk officer for Goldman, are listed as inventors.

A representative for Goldman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Image Credit: Msbrintn / Shutterstock.com

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at news@coindesk.com.

Disclaimer: This article should not be taken as, and is not intended to provide, investment advice. Please conduct your own thorough research before investing in any cryptocurrency.                                               




Federal Register :: Notice on Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Lease Sales


look out!….

Notice on Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Lease Sales

AGENCY:

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Interior.

ACTION:

List of Restricted Joint Bidders.

SUMMARY:

Pursuant to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) regulatory restrictions on joint bidding, the Director of the BOEM is publishing a List of Restricted Joint Bidders. Each entity within one of the following groups is restricted from bidding with any entity in any of the other following groups at Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas lease sales to be held during the bidding period November 1, 2017, through April 30, 2018.

DATES:

This List of Restricted Joint Bidders will cover the period November 1, 2017, through April 30, 2018, and replace the prior list published on April 28, 2017 (82 FR 19750), which covered the period of May 1, 2017, through October 31, 2017.

Group I

BP America Production Company

BP Exploration & Production Inc.

BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.

Group II

Chevron Corporation

Chevron U.S.A. Inc.

Chevron Midcontinent, L.P.

Unocal Corporation

Union Oil Company of California

Pure Partners, L.P.

Group III

Eni Petroleum Co. Inc.

Eni Petroleum US LLC

Eni Oil US LLC

Eni Marketing Inc.

Eni BB Petroleum Inc.

Eni US Operating Co. Inc.

Eni BB Pipeline LLC

Group IV

Exxon Mobil Corporation

ExxonMobil Exploration Company

Group V

Petroleo Brasileiro S.A.

Petrobras America Inc.

Group VI

Shell Oil Company

Shell Offshore Inc.

SWEPI LP

Shell Frontier Oil & Gas Inc.

SOI Finance Inc.

Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc.

Group VII

Statoil ASA

Statoil Gulf of Mexico LLC

Statoil USA E&P Inc.

Statoil Gulf Properties Inc.

Group VIII

Total E&P USA, Inc.

Authority: 30 CFR 556.511-556.515.

Dated: November 8, 2017.

Walter D. Cruickshank,

Acting Director, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

[FR Doc. 2017-24630 Filed 11-13-17; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4310-MR-P



Adrienne L den Tex



Federal Register :: Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War


filed today…

Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War

Proclamation 9674 of November 10, 2017 A Proclamation

Today, I lead our Nation in somber reflection as we continue the 13-year Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War that began in 2012. We salute our brave Vietnam veterans who, in service to our Nation and in defense of liberty, fought gallantly against the spread of communism and defended the freedom of the Vietnamese people.

Fifty years ago, in 1967, nearly 500,000 American troops served in South Vietnam, along with approximately 850,000 troops of our allies. Today, during Veterans and Military Families Month and as the Federal Government observes Veterans Day, I am in Vietnam alongside business and political leaders to advance the interests of America, and to promote peace and stability in this region and around the world. I cherish this opportunity to recall, with humility, the sacrifices our veterans made for our freedom and our Nation's strength.


During this Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, we embrace our responsibility to help our Vietnam veterans and their families heal from the heavy toll of war. We remember the more than 58,000 whose names are memorialized on a black granite wall in our Nation's capital for having borne the heaviest cost of war. We also pay tribute to the brave patriots who suffered as prisoners of war, and we stand steadfast in our commitment not to rest until we account for the 1,253 heroes who have not yet returned to American soil.

To ensure the sacrifices of the 9 million heroes who served during this difficult chapter of our country's history are remembered for generations to come, I signed into law the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017, designating March 29 of each year as National Vietnam War Veterans Day. Throughout this Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, and every March 29 thereafter, we will honor all those who answered our Nation's call to duty. We vow to never again confuse personal disapproval of war with prejudice against those who honorably wear the uniform of our Armed Forces. With conviction, our Nation pledges our enduring respect, our continuing care, and our everlasting commitment to all Vietnam veterans.

We applaud the thousands of local, State, and national organizations, businesses, and governmental entities that have already partnered with the Federal Government in the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. Because of their remarkable leadership and dedication, countless Vietnam veterans and their families have been personally and publicly thanked and honored in ceremonies in towns and cities throughout our country. During my Administration, I promise to continue coordinated efforts to recognize all veterans of the Vietnam War for their service and sacrifice, and to provide them with the heartfelt acknowledgement and gratitude that they and their families so richly deserve.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby confirm the commitment of this Nation to the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, which began on Memorial Day, 2012 and will continue through Veterans Start Printed Page 55026Day, 2025. I call upon all Americans to offer each of our Vietnam veterans and their families a thank you on behalf of the Nation, both privately and during public ceremonies and programs across our country.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this tenth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.

  Filed 11-16-17; 11:15 am]

[FR Doc. 2017-25164

Billing code 3295-F8-P




Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Pesticides Implicated in Infertility

Pesticides Implicated in Infertility

High Pesticide Exposure Associated With Reduced IVF Success

By Dr. Mercola

Human fertility is declining, and recent studies suggest conventional food may be a significant contributor to this disturbing trend, seen in both men and women. Pesticides have repeatedly been implicated in worsening fertility, and one of the most recent studies adds further support to this hypothesis.

The study,1,2 published in JAMA Internal Medicine, evaluated the influence of factors known to affect reproduction on the reproductive success of 325 women between the ages of 18 and 45 (mean age 35), who underwent in vitro fertilization (IVF). As reported by Time,3 "The women in the study filled out detailed questionnaires about their diet, along with other factors that can affect IVF outcomes, like their age, weight and history of pregnancy and live births."

Using a U.S. government database listing average pesticide residues on food, the researchers estimated each participant's pesticide exposure based on their food questionnaires. On average, women with high pesticide exposure ate 2.3 servings per day of fruits, berries or vegetables known to have high amounts of pesticide residue. Those in the lowest quartile ate less than 1 serving of high-pesticide produce per day.

Compared to women with the lowest pesticide exposure, women with the highest amounts of pesticide exposure had an 18 percent lower IVF success rate. They were also 26 percent less likely to have a live birth if they did become pregnant. Using modeling, the researchers estimate that exchanging a single serving of high-pesticide produce per day for one with low pesticide load may increase the odds of pregnancy by 79 percent, and the odds of having a live birth by 88 percent.

Pesticide Regulations Fail to Protect Human Health

Senior investigator Dr. Jorge Chavarro, associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health told Time:4

"I was always skeptical that pesticide residues in foods would have any impact on health whatsoever. So, when we started doing this work a couple of years ago, I thought we were not going to find anything. I was surprised to see anything as far as health outcomes are concerned. I am now more willing to buy organic apples than I was a few months ago."

Coauthor Dr. Yu-Han Chiu, research fellow in the department of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, added:5

"There have been concerns for some time that exposure to low doses of pesticides through diet, such as those that we observed in this study, may have adverse health effects, especially in susceptible populations such as pregnant women and their fetus, and on children. Our study provides evidence that this concern is not unwarranted."

As noted by Dr. Philip Landrigan, dean for global health and professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in an accompanying commentary,6 "The observations made in this study send a warning that our current laissez-faire attitude toward the regulation of pesticides is failing us," adding:

"We can no longer afford to assume that new pesticides are harmless until they are definitively proven to cause injury to human health. We need to overcome the strident objections of the pesticide manufacturing industry, recognize the hidden costs of deregulation, and strengthen requirements for both premarket testing of new pesticides, as well as postmarketing surveillance of exposed populations — exactly as we do for another class of potent, biologically active molecules — drugs."

Male Fertility Rates Have Also Plunged

Research also shows sperm concentration and quality has dramatically declined in recent decades, and the evidence suggests endocrine disrupting chemicals are largely to blame. While there are many sources, pesticides, including glyphosate,7 are known endocrine disruptors as well. According to the first of two recently published papers,8 a meta-analysis of 185 studies and the largest of its kind, sperm counts around the world declined by more than 50 percent between 1973 and 2013, and continue to dwindle.

The most significant declines were found in samples from men in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. (Men suspected of infertility, such as those attending IVF clinics, were excluded from the study.) Overall, men in these countries had a 52.4 percent decline in sperm concentration and a 59.3 percent decline in total sperm count (sperm concentration multiplied by the total volume of an ejaculate).

As it stands, half of the men in most developed nations are now near or at the point of being infertile. Lead author Dr. Hagai Levine, who called the results "profound" and "shocking,"9 worries that human extinction is a very real possibility, should the trend continue unabated.10

Microwave Exposure — Another Invisible Contributor to Infertility

Exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) is another major contributor to infertility. In fact, I believe this may be the most significant factor for the observed decrease in male sperm count. Women's reproductive organs are a bit more shielded, but can still be affected, just not as easily as men's testicles.11 During World War II, it was well-known that radar operators could easily create sterility by exposing the groin to radar waves. Radar is microwave radiation and was the precursor to cellphones that use similar frequencies.

More modern research also suggests microwave radiation may play a significant role in male reproductive health. While evaluating studies showing you can radically reduce biological microwave damage using calcium channel blockers, Martin Pall, Ph.D., discovered a previously unknown mechanism of biological harm from microwaves emitted by cellphones and other wireless technologies.12

Embedded in your cell membranes are voltage gated calcium channels (VGCCs). It turns out these VGCCs are activated by microwaves, and when that happens, about 1 million calcium ions per second are released.

This massive excess of intracellular calcium then stimulates the release of nitric oxide (NO) inside your cell and mitochondria, which combines with superoxide to form peroxynitrite. Not only does peroxynitrites cause oxidative damage, they also create hydroxyl free radicals — the most destructive free radicals known to man.

Hydroxyl free radicals decimate mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, their membranes and proteins, resulting in mitochondrial dysfunction. During a 2013 children's health expert panel on cellphone and Wi-Fi exposures,13 it was noted, "The testicular barrier, that protects sperm, is the most sensitive of tissues in the body … Besides sperm count and function, the mitochondrial DNA of sperm are damaged three times more if exposed to cellphone radiation."

In addition to male testes, the tissues with the highest density of VGCCs are your brain and the pacemaker in your heart. What the research tells us is that excessive microwave exposure can be a direct contributor to conditions such as infertility, Alzheimer's, anxiety, depression, autism and cardiac arrhythmias.14

Indeed, other studies have linked low-level electromagnetic radiation exposure from cellphones to an 8 percent reduction in sperm motility and a 9 percent reduction in sperm viability.15,16 Wi-Fi equipped laptop computers have also been linked to decreased sperm motility and an increase in sperm DNA fragmentation after just four hours of use.17 So, if you care about your reproductive health, the most important strategies to implement are to:

  • Avoid carrying your cellphone in your pockets or on your hip
  • Avoid using portable computers and tablets on your lap
  • Turn off your cellphones at night, as even if you are not talking they can damage you up to 30 feet away
  • Turn off your Wi-Fi at night (ideally in the day also)
  • Most importantly, turn off the electricity to your bedroom at the circuit breaker. This typically works for most bedrooms unless you have a room or rooms adjacent to your bedroom, in which case you might need to shut that off too. This will radically lower electric and magnetic fields while you sleep. If you need a clock you can you a battery operated one and even better a talking clock with no light that can be picked up on Amazon

Study Reveals Shocking Increase in Glyphosate Levels

In related news, researchers from University of California San Diego School of Medicine recently reported there's been a shocking increase in glyphosate exposure in recent decades and, subsequently, the level found in people's urine.

For this study,18 the researchers measured excretion levels of glyphosate and its metabolite aminomethylphosphonic acid in 100 participants from the Rancho Bernardo Study of Healthy Aging, which ran for 23 years, starting in 1993, the year before genetically engineered (GE) crops were introduced in the U.S.

As one would expect, the introduction of Roundup Ready GE crops led to a massive increase in the use of Roundup, the active ingredient of which is glyphosate. Glyphosate has also become a popular tool for desiccating non-GE grains, legumes and beans.

Data19,20 reveals that between 1974 (the year glyphosate entered the U.S. market and just over two decades before GE crops were introduced) and 2014, glyphosate use in the U.S. increased more than 250-fold. Globally, glyphosate use rose nearly fifteenfold since 1996, two years after the first GE crops hit the market.

At the start of the study, very few of the participants had detectable levels of glyphosate in their urine, but by 2016, 70 percent of them did.21 Overall, the prevalence of human exposure to glyphosate increased by 500 percent during the study period (1993 to 2016), while actual levels of the chemical in people's bodies increased by an astounding 1,208 percent.

Rising Glyphosate Levels in Urine Is Cause for Concern

The exact implications of glyphosate exposure to human health is still unclear, but other recent research22 found that daily exposure to ultra-low levels of glyphosate for two years led to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in rats, and the levels found in people's urine were a hundredfold greater than those in this rat study.

In response to the findings of rising glyphosate levels in people's urine, Monsanto was quick to say that the amounts reported "do not raise health concerns," and that the fact that the chemical is detected in urine is just "one way our bodies get rid of nonessential substances."23 Speaking to GM Watch, Michael Antoniou of King's College London had another take on the matter:24

"This is the first study to longitudinally track urine levels of glyphosate over a period before and after the introduction of GM glyphosate-tolerant crops. It is yet another example illustrating that the vast majority of present-day Americans have readily detectable levels of glyphosate in their urine, ranging from 0.3 parts per billion, as in this study, to 10 times higher — 3 or more parts per billion — detected by others.

These results are worrying because there is increasing evidence to show that exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides below regulatory safety limits can be harmful."

Glyphosate Found in Breast Milk

Three years ago, the first-ever independent testing for glyphosate in the breast milk of American women found high levels in 30 percent of the samples.25 The testing, which was not a formal scientific study, was carried out by Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse. Still, the findings strongly suggest glyphosate bioaccumulates and builds up in your body over time, despite claims to the contrary.

Breast milk levels were found to be 76 to 166 micrograms per liter (ug/l), which is up to 1,600 times higher than the European Drinking Water Directive allows for individual pesticides, but still well below the 700 ug/l maximum contaminant level (MCL) for glyphosate allowed in the U.S. However, the U.S. level was set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) based on the now-ridiculous premise that glyphosate will not bioaccumulate.

Importantly, many of the participants in this study were familiar with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and had been actively trying to avoid them for several months to two years. This makes the findings all the more disheartening, and shows just how difficult it is to avoid this chemical unless you're consistently eating an organic diet.

Corporate Machinations Kept Glyphosate on the Market

As noted in a recent investigation by In These Times,26 in the wake of Moms Across America's findings, Monsanto defended its flagship pesticide with a study that found no glyphosate in breast milk. However, this study, which was purported to be "independent," was actually backed by Monsanto. According to In These Times:

"More and more research suggests that glyphosate exposure can lead to numerous health issues, ranging from non-Hodgkin lymphoma and kidney damage to disruption of gut bacteria and improper hormone functioning. The Moms Across America episode fits a pattern that has emerged since 1974, when the EPA first registered glyphosate for use:

When questions have been raised about the chemical's safety, Monsanto has ensured that the answers serve its financial interests, rather than scientific accuracy and transparency. Our two-year investigation found incontrovertible evidence that Monsanto has exerted deep influence over EPA decisions since glyphosate first came on the market — via Roundup — more than 40 years ago."

Manipulation of Science Led to Underestimation of Glyphosate's Risks

Suspiciously, archived EPA documents from decades ago, when the agency was initially considering glyphosate for approval, have been heavily redacted. Despite much of it being illegible, the documents reveal that EPA scientists were greatly concerned about a 1983 mouse study showing that glyphosate caused cancer. The documentation also shows that their interpretation of the data was "subsequently reversed by EPA upper management and advisory boards, apparently under pressure from Monsanto."

"In years to come, that pivotal 1983 mouse study would be buried under layers of misleading analysis to obscure its meaning. Today, the EPA and Monsanto continue to cite that study as evidence that glyphosate poses no public health risk, even though the study's actual evidence indicates otherwise," In These Times reports.

The EPA has also been accused of overlooking other evidence of harm. I wrote about this in "Unveiling the Glyphosate Conspiracy." As mentioned earlier, glyphosate was introduced in 1974, and the earliest example of Monsanto's attempts to downplay evidence of harm dates back to May 1973, the year before its ultimate approval.

At the time, a biologist at the EPA's Toxicology Branch Registration Division recommended including the word "Danger" on the label, due to the chemical's ability to cause eye irritation. Monsanto strongly objected, saying the eye irritation observed was merely the result of "a secondary infection in previously irritated eyes." After three years of deliberations back and forth, the EPA finally agreed to Monsanto's request to replace the word "Danger" with the less attention-grabbing "Caution."

How to Check Your Glyphosate Level

As food has become increasingly adulterated, contaminated and genetically engineered, the need for laboratory testing has exponentially grown. In response to this need, the Health Research Institute (HRI Labs) has created two glyphosate tests for the public — a water testing kit, and an environmental exposure test kit.

The latter is a urine test that will tell you how much glyphosate you have in your system, which can give you a good idea of the purity of your diet. If your glyphosate level is high, chances are you've been exposed to many other agrochemicals as well.

I had the environmental exposure test done a while back, and had a glyphosate level below the threshold of detection, which is 40 parts per trillion, likely because I eat primarily organic and homegrown foods, and expel toxins I might come in contact with through exercise and regular sauna use.

So far, HRI Labs has analyzed more than 1,200 urine samples. The testing is being done as part of a research project, which will provide valuable information about the presence of glyphosate in the diet. It will also help answer questions about how lifestyle and location affects people's exposure to agrochemicals. Here are some of their findings to date:

  • 76 percent of people tested have some level of glyphosate in their system
  • Men typically have higher levels than women
  • People who eat oats on a regular basis have twice as much glyphosate in their system as people who don't (likely because oats are desiccated with glyphosate before harvest)
  • People who eat organic food on a regular basis have an 80 percent lower level of glyphosate than those who rarely eat organic. This indicates organic products are a safer choice
  • People who eat five or more servings of vegetables per day have glyphosate levels that are 50 percent lower than those who don't eat fewer vegetables

Which Foods Are the Most Important to Buy Organic?

Everyone can be harmed by pesticides, but if you're a man or woman of childbearing age or have young children, taking steps to reduce your exposure is especially important. Ideally, all of the food you and your family eat would be organic. That said, not everyone has access to a wide variety of organic produce, and it can sometimes be costlier than buying conventional.

One way to save some money while still lowering your pesticide exposure is to purchase certain organic items, and "settling" for others that are conventionally grown, based on how heavily each given crop is typically treated with pesticides.

Animal products, like meat, butter, milk and eggs are the most important to buy organic, since animal products tend to bioaccumulate toxins from their pesticide-laced feed, concentrating them to far higher concentrations than are typically present in vegetables. Beyond animal foods, the pesticide load of different fruits and vegetables can vary greatly.

In 2015, Consumer Reports analyzed 12 years' worth of data from the USDA's Pesticide Data Program to determine the risk categories (from very low to very high) for different types of produce.27 Their results are featured in the video above. Because children are especially vulnerable to the effects of environmental chemicals, including pesticides, they based the risk assessment on a 3.5-year-old child.

They recommend buying organic for any produce that came back in the medium or higher risk categories, which left the following foods as examples of those you should always try to buy organic, due to their elevated pesticide load. Another excellent source, which is updated annually, is the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean 15" lists of produce with the greatest and least amounts of pesticide contamination. The EWG's 2017 shopper's guide28 to pesticides in produce can be downloaded here.

Peaches

Carrots

Strawberries

Green Beans

Sweet Bell Peppers

Hot Peppers

Tangerines

Nectarines

Cranberries

Sweet Potatoes

How to Clean Pesticides Off Your Produce

Washing your produce will help remove surface pesticide residues. According to recent research,29 the most effective cleaning method, by far, is to wash your produce using a mixture of tap water and baking soda. Soaking apples in a 1 percent baking soda solution for 12 to 15 minutes was found to remove 80 percent of the fungicide thiabendazole and 96 percent of the insecticide phosmet.

The reason thiabendazole was not as effectively removed is because it penetrated the apple to a depth of 80 micrometers. Importantly, the industry standard for cleaning apples — running under tap water or treating with the bleach solution for two minutes — was ineffective in comparison.



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