LeBron James’ amazing year – league MVP, NBA championship, NBA Finals MVP, Olympic gold medal – added another memorable accolade: comic book character.Marvel Comics and ESPN have teamed up for “LeBron: King of the Rings,” a limited-edition comic book that will be published in the Oct. 19 NBA Preview issue of ESPN The Magazine. A preview of the comic is currently available online at ESPN.com.The comic imagines what would happen if James actually did make good on his promise to bring Miami not one, “not two, not three. . . not seven” championships.”The story begins after Team USA wins Olympic gold, and it follows James’ journey through self-improvement, as he works on late-game free throws with Golden State Warriors legend and foul-shooting phenom Rick Barry picks up helpful pick-and-roll tips from Tibetan monks. Seriously.Along the way, he defeats a zombie Shane Battier and overcomes recurring quad injuries by building himself bionic legs. The comic follows him through the 2029-30 season, when, after finally winning his seventh title – as a Cleveland Cavalier, believe it or not — King James finally announces his retirement.Fans will have to wait to find out if LeBron wins that elusive eighth title, as the ending will be decided by a SportsNational poll on ESPN.com.The comic was announced at Saturday’s New York Comic Con by ESPN The Magazine editors Ty Wenger and Otto Strong.“We tried to play off the known story lines of LeBron James and his career,” Wenger said in an interview with Marvel.com. He also pointed to his “personal theory about why basketball and super heroes go together very well” as part of his inspiration for the story.There has been debate about whether James could eclipse Michael Jordan as the best player of all time. Chances are, Kobe Bryant will end up as the closet to touch Jordan’s legacy. But neither Bryant nor Jordan can claim to be a comic book hero.
Rivalry week, college football’s cancel-all-plans showcase in late November, is perennially viewed as having top billing on the sport’s calendar — chock-full of postseason implications in addition to bragging rights. But this year, there might be a challenger to rivalry week’s throne: There may be no more pivotal slate of games this season than that of Week 10, with three games on the Nov. 3 docket with critical consequences for the College Football Playoff.Our playoff model simulates every game of the season, extracting the likelihood of each outcome as well as the probability of every team to reach the final four. To help you prepare for Week 10, here are the games that matter most, as defined by their potential cumulative effect on the entire nation’s playoff chances. TeamCurrent Playoff %winslosesWeighted Difference* Kentucky6.8-0.6+1.30.8 31.4 Georgia32.2-1.6+3.72.3 Alabama66.8+12.2-27.817.0 Change in odds if Alabama… * Difference in playoff odds is weighted by the chance of each outcome — win or lose — actually happening.† Total swing includes every game in the country — not just those listed here. No. 4 Notre Dame (8-0) at Northwestern (5-3)Favorite: Notre Dame (70.7 percent)Total potential CFP swing: 31.4 pointsThe stakes: Few teams can challenge Northwestern for the national lead in inconsistency. The Wildcats have pirouetted to double-digit victories over two ranked opponents and come within fourth-quarter scoring drives of losses to upset-minded-but-inferior Nebraska and Rutgers. After dropping three of its first four games — including home losses to Duke and Akron — Northwestern responded by winning four straight Big Ten contests to occupy the driver’s seat of the Big Ten West.Notre Dame has handled its business — and still had to watch as one-loss LSU was ranked ahead of it on Tuesday night. Through no fault of its own, Notre Dame’s victories over then-No. 7 Stanford and then-No. 24 Virginia Tech haven’t exactly aged well. Now under the guidance of dual-threat quarterback Ian Book, Notre Dame’s offense has improved substantially, and Brian Kelly is shepherding one of his top defenses since his arrival in 2010.Considering that no team with three losses has qualified for the College Football Playoff in its four-year history, Northwestern faces long odds. But because of the imbalance in the Big Ten, the Wildcats have a clear path to the Big Ten championship and a resume-boosting opportunity to play a top-tier opponent, likely either Michigan or Ohio State, at the end of the season. So a loss this weekend would serve as a death knell, but a win keeps those slim hopes alive at 1.4 percent.Every team on the outside looking in is pulling for Northwestern, who could provide a huge odds boost to the other contenders with a win. Notre Dame controls its destiny, with a win improving its odds to 61.1 percent. But a loss would drop the Irish’s chances to 23.3 percent, suggesting that even with only one loss, it would need serious help to maintain its spot in the top four. Oklahoma35.3+0.6-1.40.9 Ohio State23.9+0.7-1.50.9 TeamCurrent Playoff %WinsLosesWeighted Difference Change in odds if Georgia… * Difference in playoff odds is weighted by the chance of each outcome — win or lose — actually happening.† Total swing includes every game in the country — not just those listed here. Georgia32.2%+12.4-30.1+/-17.5 No. 1 Alabama (8-0) at No. 3 LSU (7-1)Favorite: Alabama (69.4 percent)Total potential CFP swing: 43.6 pointsThe stakes: With both programs having two weeks to prepare, the Crimson Tide and Tigers will clash in a matchup that has often decided the SEC West division. This year’s installment pits one of the best LSU defenses in recent years against potentially the best offense Alabama has ever fielded.After losing to then-No. 22 Florida in Gainesville, LSU rebounded with consecutive wins over ranked opponents: a 36-16 disposal of then-No. 2 Georgia and a 19-3 thrashing of then-No. 22 Mississippi State. Four wins over ranked opponents charmed the College Football Playoff committee into putting the Tigers third in the first iteration of its rankings.1The Tigers are at No. 4 in the Associated Press poll.Behind Heisman front-runner Tua Tagovailoa and offensive coordinator Mike Locksley’s run-pass option attack, Alabama’s point margin is plus-252 in first halves this season, nearly 100 points better than any other team, according to ESPN Stats & Information Group. In most seasons, it would be absurd to label a team as two-touchdown favorites against the third-ranked team in the nation, a team with a 1-in-5 chance of reaching the playoff — but that’s how good Alabama is. It’s been 21 years since LSU was this big of a home underdog.Even though the Tide have been unquestionably the most dominant team this season, a loss would still hurt — dropping their likelihood of reaching the playoff by nearly 30 points. An LSU win would give the Tigers nearly coin-flip odds (49.8 percent) of reaching the playoff, and it would provide a bump for Georgia (from 32.2 percent to 35.9 percent) and Kentucky (from 6.8 percent to 8.1 percent) because it would likely mean that neither of those SEC East leaders would face Alabama in the conference championship game. Should Alabama win, the Tide’s odds of reaching the playoff would spike to 79 percent. A loss for LSU would drop the Tigers’ chances to 7.1 percent, effectively removing the team from contention. Michigan26.6-2.0+4.82.8 Georgia32.2-0.9+2.11.2 TeamCurrent Playoff %WinsLosesWeighted Difference* Kentucky6.8-6.7+16.29.5 Alabama66.8-2.7+6.43.8 LSU20.2-0.8+1.81.1 Change in odds if Notre Dame … Ohio State23.9-0.5+1.10.6 Notre Dame50.0%+11.1-26.7+/-15.6 36.0 Total † Neil Paine contributed research.Check out our latest college football predictions. How Notre Dame-Northwestern swings the playoff picturePotential changes in College Football Playoff probability for selected teams based on the outcome of the Nov. 3 Notre Dame-Northwestern game Oklahoma35.3-0.6+1.40.8 LSU20.2%-13.0+29.6+/-18.1 Total† How Alabama-LSU swings the playoff picturePotential changes in College Football Playoff probability for selected teams based on the outcome of the Nov. 3 Alabama-LSU game Alabama66.8-0.8+1.91.1 How Georgia-Kentucky swings the playoff picturePotential changes in College Football Playoff probability for selected teams based on the outcome of the Nov. 3 Georgia-Kentucky game Total† No. 6 Georgia (7-1) at No. 9 Kentucky (7-1)Favorite: Georgia (70.8 percent)Total potential CFP swing: 36 pointsThe stakes: For the better part of three decades, Kentucky has served as the doormat of the SEC East, while Georgia has routinely contended for conference championships. So while it’s no surprise that the loaded Bulldogs have a 1-in-3 chance of returning to the playoff, few preseason prognosticators would have guessed that the Wildcats would be relevant this late in the season. But here we are, with coach Mark Stoops crowd-surfing in locker rooms as his team rattles off victories. The winner of Saturday’s ground-and-pound clash is guaranteed a spot in the SEC title game.Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm, who last season led Georgia to the national championship game as a true freshman, has withstood ample criticism and an eye-gouging in his sophomore campaign. As it stands, the Justin Fields experience is on hiatus. Across the field, Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson is largely tasked with getting the ball to Benny Snell Jr. ad nauseam. The sophomore has attempted only 153 passes this season — one more than Tagovailoa, who largely sits the second half of games.Saturday should be a blistering defensive fight. Kentucky has held seven consecutive opponents to fewer than 20 points, a feat last accomplished by the Wildcats nearly six decades ago. Both teams rank in the top 20 in opponent adjusted quarterback rating and in the top eight in defensive efficiency, according to ESPN Stats & Information.Whoever loses this game will see the near-annihilation of its playoff hopes: Kentucky’s odds would drop to 0.1 percent, and Georgia’s odds would drop to 2.1 percent. A win would improve the Wildcats’ odds to 16.2 percent, while Georgia’s odds would spike by 12.4 points to 44.5 percent. Kentucky toppling Georgia would greatly benefit just about every other team in the running: Alabama’s odds would jump to 73.2 percent, Notre Dame’s to 51.1 percent, Oklahoma’s to 36.7 percent, Ohio State’s to 25 percent and LSU’s to 22 percent. LSU20.2-1.1+2.61.5 43.6 * Difference in playoff odds is weighted by the chance of each outcome — win or lose — actually happening.† Total swing includes every game in the country — not just those listed here. Oklahoma35.3-1.1+2.81.6
Of all the storylines to watch as Major League Baseball begins the second half of the 2018 season, the most interesting might be whether the Seattle Mariners can hold on to their current position in the standings — and, in the process, end the longest active postseason drought in major professional sports. (The Mariners earned this dubious honor when the Buffalo Bills grabbed an AFC wild card last season.)It’s been a magical start to the summer so far in Seattle. Picked preseason to finish around .500, the Mariners instead sit nearly 20 games over that benchmark. Surprisingly, they spent much of the first half challenging the defending champion Houston Astros for the top spot in the American League West; they’ve also built for themselves a three-game cushion over the division-rival Oakland A’s in the race for the AL’s second wild card. (And they’ve done it even after losing star second baseman Robinson Cano, who was putting up great numbers before getting busted for steroids in mid-May.) If the regular season ended today, the M’s would finally be back in the playoffs.That would be a major accomplishment for a Seattle club that hasn’t tasted postseason baseball since its disappointing five-game exit from the American League Championship Series 17 years ago. When my former colleague Rob Arthur wrote about the Mariners’ streak a few seasons back, he found that no team in baseball had made the playoffs fewer times relative to expectation (based on their regular-season records) since 1998 than Seattle. It’s undeniable that, with just a little better luck, the Mariners would have sneaked into the playoffs at least a few times over the span of their drought. In that regard, they are long overdue to catch a break.In 2018, however, Seattle might be collecting all of the extra good fortune it’s owed at once. According to The Baseball Gauge, no first-half team exceeded its expected record more through luck in close games or favorable “sequencing”1Bunching hits within innings on offense and scattering them across innings on defense. than the Mariners. For instance, if you simply looked at Seattle’s runs scored (412) and allowed (414), you’d think it was precisely the .500-ish team that the preseason projections had called for. Instead, the Mariners have gone 26-12 in one-run games, which — while not exactly in 2016 Texas Rangers territory — suggests they could be due for a serious second-half downturn.In fact, Seattle’s combination of win-loss record and negative run differential is so unusual that it’s tough to find similar historical teams. Since 1950, the Mariners are the only team to be 19 games over .500 through a similar stage of the season2Specifically, between 90 and 100 games into the schedule. while also having a run differential below zero. But if we just limit ourselves to the 13 teams that were at least 10 wins above .500 and had outscored opponents by 10 runs or fewer through 97 games, those clubs won only 51 percent of their games over the rest of the season (an 83-win pace per 162). So the Mariners probably shouldn’t expect to keep cruising along at a clip remotely close to their current .598 winning percentage.Indeed, if the wheels do fall off for Seattle, naysayers may point to the team’s poor play just before the All-Star break — eight losses in its last 11 games — as a sign of when things started to go wrong. But ace pitcher James Paxton will be back from the disabled list soon, and Cano is eligible to return Aug. 14. Meanwhile, the time off should benefit the slumping quintet of Kyle Seager, Jean Segura, Dee Gordon, Ryon Healy and Nelson Cruz, each of whom seemed to be running out of gas heading into the break.In the bigger picture, there’s also something to be said for the team’s overall balance as an antidote to the notion of an impending collapse. The Mariners are one of only six teams in baseball to rank among the top 10 in wins above replacement3Averaging together the WAR values found at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs. from both its pure hitting and its pitching, joining the Astros, Red Sox, Yankees, Indians and Dodgers — pretty good company! Of course, that brushes aside Mariner weaknesses such as baserunning (they rank 24th) and fielding (20th), but it also underscores that despite Seattle’s uninspiring run differential, the fundamentals of the team aren’t necessarily unsound.In order to stay on course for the playoffs, Seattle will need to keep getting unexpected performances like the ones they’ve enjoyed from first-time All-Star Mitch Haniger and journeyman-turned-10-game winner Marco Gonzales. Closer Edwin Diaz (who leads baseball with 36 saves) will have to keep slamming the door shut in the ninth inning, and the lineup will need to continue hitting well in big moments. None of that will be easy, especially not with Oakland zooming up in the rearview mirror. But after nearly two decades of the pieces never falling into place for a postseason push, it’s high time the Mariners had the breaks go their way.Check out our latest MLB predictions.
Junior quarterback Braxton Miller (5) throws the ball during a game against Indiana Nov. 23 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 42-14.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorOhio State junior quarterback Braxton Miller has made the decision to return for his senior season and not enter the 2014 NFL Draft.An OSU spokesman confirmed Thursday that Miller will return to OSU.Miller is the two-time defending Big Ten offensive player of the year and is coming off a season in which he finished in the top 10 in the conference in both rushing and passing yards per game.“I want to help this team win a Big Ten championship next year,” Miller said in a press release Thursday night. “Plus, I want to improve as a quarterback in all aspects of my game. I’m looking forward to working for another year with coach (Urban) Meyer and (offensive coordinator quarterbacks coach Tom) Herman.“And I want to graduate, so this will help get me close to my academic goal.”The quarterback is also coming off back-to-back losses, including a 40-35 defeat at the hands of Clemson in the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl Jan. 3. Despite the losses, he has compiled a 28-8 record as the starting quarterback at OSU.Meyer said he is looking forward to working with the quarterback for another season.“We look forward to having Braxton Miller return to this team for his senior season,” Meyer said in the release. “He has been an extremely valuable member of our team and he is also a fine student. His desire to lead our team to a championship, to earn his degree from The Ohio State University net spring and to continue to improve as a quarterback are his motivation.”With Miller’s decision, the Buckeye offense will return five starters from a offense that finished the year third in the country in scoring offense with an average 45.5 points per game and seventh in total offense with 511.9 average yards per game.After the Orange Bowl loss, Miller said he was going to talk to coach Urban Meyer about whether or not he should turn pro.“I’ve got to think hard about it. I will talk to coach Meyer and see what he thinks,” Miller said. “He’s been through the process many times, so that’s the guy to go to. He never steers you wrong and ever since I got here, he took me under his wing and taught me a lot of things.”The Buckeyes are set to open their 2014 season with an Aug. 30 trip to Baltimore against Navy.
The Brave browser logo Stephen Shankland/CNET It’s time for browser startup Brave to see if this whole privacy-respecting ads business is really going to pay off.The startup, co-founded by former Firefox leader and Mozilla Chief Executive Brendan Eich, got its start by releasing a browser in 2016 that blocks ads by default — a design the company’s studies say dramatically improves not just performance but also cuts memory usage and saves phone battery life.But the plan was never just to remove ads — it’s also to replace the ones you usually see on websites with something that doesn’t track you around the web. Brave started testing these privacy-respecting ads this year, and now the technology is active in the main version of Brave for personal computers. And if you opt in, you’ll get a share of the resulting ad revenue.”Ads have become spyware,” Eich said, and ad tech is riddled with middlemen and fraud that are problems for both advertisers and the publishers who place ads. “We think we have a better technique.”Brave has convinced 5.9 million people to use its browser each month and should reach 10 million this summer, Eich said. That’s a far cry, though, from the billion-plus who use Google’s dominant Chrome and the 264 million who use Firefox. To fulfill its ambitions of “putting chlorine in the pool” — building an improved ad system extending far beyond its own company — Brave will need a lot more users to sign up.And privacy protections, while important, historically have been a tough sell for consumers. Recent privacy scandals and data breaches may have changed your mind, though, and Brave has a carrot to coax you aboard.Ad revenue for Brave usersWith this first phase of Brave ads, you’ll keep 70% of the revenue. A second phase, involving cooperation with website publishers, will give you 15 percent of each ad’s revenue. It won’t generate enough for you to get rich quick, but Eich hopes it’ll be enough to help sustain free sites on the internet. The system will expand to Android and iOS phones in coming months.Disclosure: I transferred some bitcoin into my Brave wallet for testing when Brave launched its payments system in 2016. That later was converted into BAT. After that initial purchase, Brave’s grants, BAT from ads I’ve seen and BAT transferred to website publishers, I now have a BAT balance worth $26.59. I have received no bitcoin or BAT from Brave.Conventional online ads can generate more revenue for publishers if they’re targeted toward a specific audience. Nobody likes irrelevant ads. But that targeting can involve a privacy tradeoff, since advertisers want to know about what sites you’ve visited or what your social media profile says about your interests.Brave Software wants to show targeted ads, too, but it lets the browser decide on the targeting without spilling your data over the network to publishers, advertisers or Brave itself. It gauges your interest chiefly by the content of websites you visit — for example, news articles. But it also will include what can be a very strong signal that you want to buy something: searches for products or services.Small text-based search ads are how Google got its start making immense piles of money. Brave ads right now are similarly terse, but instead of being built into the website, they appear as operating system notifications.And unlike with search ads, you get 70 percent of the Brave ad revenue. Internet You won’t get rich off Brave adsSo how much could you earn in Brave’s monthly payout plan?Enlarge ImageIf you enable Brave’s ad system, you’ll see pop-up notifications and earn 70% of the resulting ad revenue. Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET “I’m still a bit of a bear, so I say $5, but it could be $10 or more,” Eich said. Just seeing an ad generates a little money, but clicking generates more, and doing something very valuable to an advertiser, like booking an appointment to test-drive a car, could be worth something more like $50, he said.One catch: You get paid in Brave’s crypto-tokens, called basic attention tokens (BAT), not real money. Another catch: for now, the money goes into the browser, but the only way to get it out is to use the Brave Rewards system to contribute that BAT to websites, YouTubers and Twitch videogame streamers you visit who’ve signed up for the Brave system. Later, Brave will let you export your tokens so you can convert them to regular money.”We don’t currently have a way to get tokens out,” Eich said. “We will add that as soon as we can,” using partnerships with cryptocurrency exchanges like Coinbase and Uphold and requiring a fraud-thwarting process that means users must identify themselves, he said.Brave advertisers include Vice, Home Chef, ConsenSys, Ternio BlockCard, MyCrypto, and eToro, BuySellAds, TAP Network, AirSwap, Fluidity, andhttps://uphold.com/Uphold, Brave said. The browser periodically retrieves a catalog of ads from such advertisers and shows its best guess about the one it calculates will be most interesting to you. Advertisers know only that their ads were seen, not who saw them. Brave is designed to show them during moments when you won’t be as bothered by the interruption.Publisher ads, set to arrive later this year, will place Brave ads directly onto publishers’ websites. There, publishers will keep 70%, while you and Brave will evenly split the remaining 30%.Brave also could sign a larger-scale search-ad deals with search engines to boost revenue further, Eich said. “We have a model that gets us to profitability.”First published April 24, 9 a.m. PT.Update, 12:39 p.m. PT: Adds a disclosure about the $26.59 value of the author’s BAT holdings. Advertising Brave browser Privacy Google Yes, Facebook is still tracking you (The 3:59, Ep. 541) Share your voice Comments 3 4:25 Now playing: Watch this: Tags
The sale of Picassos Women Of Algiers last month for $179.4m (£116.8m, €159.4m) illustrated just how far the collectibles investment market has come, but its not just rare paintings that are pulling in astronomical sums of money.The market in stamps and rare coins, typically viewed as the preserve of anoraks, is seeing an increased level of interest, particularly from wealthy Chinese investors.Stock market listed Stanley Gibbons, the largest collectibles merchant in the world, connects individuals with the stamp and coin market. IBTimes UK caught up with Keith Heddle, managing director of the 159-year-old firm, to talk about the how collectibles play a part in long term investment planning.What price a stamp?The worlds most expensive stamp was sold last year for $9.5m. In comparison [to the Picasso], it pales. But actually, if you do a size to value ratio, it would probably make the Picasso worth something like $15bn in proportion, Heddle says.While there is a perception that the high value collectibles market is only accessible to the ultra-wealthy, Heddle explains there is no such thing as a typical investor. Pensioners, entrepreneurs and young families planning their legacies are investing in the growing market.It really covers the gamut of investors. If there is a truism, they tend to fall between either the very risk averse that love the tangibility and the uncorrelated nature of it, or the more entrepreneurial that have built a business by doing things which are a little bit more left field and are now looking at this and saying: stamps, coins, thats quite fun, which is something quite unusual, Heddle adds.Investors are often buying a piece of history. A block of Penny Blacks, the worlds first stamp that bears the face of Queen Victoria, can fetch up to £120,000, depending on condition. A coin minted by Alexander the Great is worth about £4,000.One of the most interesting coins Heddle has is one showing Charles I clasping a sword, ready for battle with Oliver Cromwell. It is the biggest British gold coin ever struck and is worth between £80,000 and £100,000.With over 60 million stamp collectors globally and about $600m changing hands in each year on eBay, there is no dearth of interest.Why invest?Stanley Gibbons typically sees returns of anything between 7% to 14% per year, but some longer term investors have seen their returns swell to 202%. Interest in the market has grown substantially over the past five years and since the global financial crash.You can see those types of returns as long as youve got a diversified portfolio, have a long term perspective and youre focused on capital appreciation buy and hold. Theres been a common theme running through investors: fundamentally to protect the wealth they have sweated over for a lifetime. Or they have inherited from a generation of people who were taught to save, Heddle says.ChinaThe booming stamp and coin market in China owes a debt of gratitude to Chairman Mao. The late communist leader banned stamp collecting because he viewed it as bourgeois.Since the ban was lifted in the 1980s, the Chinese have splashed the cash and there are now around 20 million stamp buyers in China.Since the eighties, the Chinese have come back in their millions, not just to claim a part of their own heritage but also with increased freedoms and increased wealth, a kind of reverse imperialism: we have the money and power now, well have a few of your Penny Blacks and your gold coins thank you very much.Risk and rewardDespite the rewards, as with all investments, there is a risk, something that Heddle readily admits to.Theres no guarantee. Its a very stable market because its relatively illiquid and its uncorrelated, low beta, so investors like it for the long term. Clearly if your financial situation changes and you need to get out quickly, it take more time to liquidate a rare stamp and coin portfolio, anything between three weeks and three months, than it does to dump your stocks.The key to investing in rare stamps and coins is expertise. Stanley Gibbons employs a team of experts that essentially pick the stocks, or stamps. Close
Balurghat: Ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the security in and around district collectorate building here has been tightened.As precautionary measures, the district administration has barricaded around 100 metres adjacent to the collectorate building with temporary bamboo fencing. According to an official source, all poll-related activities will be carried out from the office of district administration. Adequate policemen will be deployed in the area to avoid any untoward incident. According to the guidelines of Election Commission of India, no contesting candidate will be allowed to take out a procession while submitting nomination papers. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: Mamata”Stress has been given on ensuing free and fair poll in the region. No political party will be given permission for procession from March 28 onwards to April 4. Instructions have been given to police to check the entry of the candidates from the main gate of district administrative building with not more than three vehicles at a time,” said an official. Sufficient Central Reserve Paramilitary Forces will also deploy the area. District Election Officer and district magistrate Deepap Priya P recently conducted a high-level meeting with the police officers and the representatives of various political parties. Also Read – Lightning kills 8, injures 16 in stateA clear message has been delivered through this meeting that the district administration is determined to strictly implement EC norms. The border close to neighbouring Bangladesh is sealed. The candidates can submit the nominations between March 28 and April 4. Balurghat will vote on April 23, the third in the seven-phased Lok Sabha polls. On April 5, the nomination papers will be scrutinised while the last day of to withdraw candidature is April 8. The closing day for campaigning is scheduled on April 21. A total number of 14, 27, 567 people are expected to vote this year. Four major political parties —The Trinamool Congress, the BJP, the Congress and the RSP — are in the fray. Arpita Ghosh will contest once again from Balurghat seat on Trinamool ticket. Ghosh defeated RSP’s Prasanta Kumar Majumdar in 2014 to break the Left citadel. This time, RSP has fielded Ranen Barman, who had won 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004 LS polls from Balurghat seat while the BJP and the Congress have fielded Sukanta Majumdar and Sadik Sarkar as their candidates. Both Majumdar and Sarkar are new faces.
(Interviewed by Louis James, Editor, International Speculator)L: Doug, we’ve had a lot of questions from readers about the apparent push governments are making to go to paperless currency – all electronic, no cash. Do you think that’s likely, and what would be the implications?Doug: I think it’s probably inevitable. It’s not just cash, but the whole world is becoming increasingly digital. Credit cards already work very well all around the world, and everyone in the world, it seems, will soon have a smartphone – or at least everyone who might have any cash.But it’s not just a question of evolving technology. Governments hate cash for lots of reasons, starting with the fact it costs a couple of cents to print a piece of paper currency, and they have to be replaced quite often. As the US has destroyed the value of the dollar, they’ve had to take the copper out of pennies, and soon they’ll take the nickel out of nickels. Furthermore, with modern technology, counterfeiters – including unfriendly foreign governments – can turn out US currency that’s almost indistinguishable from the real thing. And the stuff takes up a lot of space if it’s enough to be of value. So sure, governments would like to get rid of tangible currency. They’d like to see all money kept in banks, which are today no more than arms of the state. But it’s not so simple: increasing numbers of people trust neither banks – most of which are insolvent – or currencies – most of which are on their way to their intrinsic values.L: Hm. On the technology front, when I was in central Africa a few weeks ago, plastic money was accepted happily everywhere I went – Rwanda, Burundi, the DRC, and Kenya – though not by street vendors yet. And I had access to the Internet everywhere I went, even in the middle of the jungle…Doug: Yes, the move towards digital currencies is already happening, and not just as a result of government efforts. Remember Bitcoin. And, as you know, I’m a big fan of Goldmoney.com, which is leading the way to a sound digital currency. Although Goldmoney.com has bowed to government pressure and has suspended its service allowing customers to transfer funds among one another, it’s another sign of the times…L: Yes, and Goldmoney.com is not the first attempt, nor will it be the last. We should mention to new readers that you are an investor in Goldmoney.com.Doug: The world’s going to digital currencies is in part a good thing, because it’s convenient. But it’s definitely a double-edged sword, because of government involvement in the field. If it were a strictly market phenomenon, I’d have no problem with it. It’d be just another choice. But if the state runs it, it would reduce people’s choices – and privacy. But that’s entirely apart from the fact that government – and I know this assertion will be shocking to most readers – has no business creating currency or minting money. Money, of all things, should be a purely market phenomenon. Government, as an institution, inevitably and necessarily corrupts everything it touches. Money is far too important to be left to the tender mercies of the state.L: Sure. A completely digital currency would be an unlimited license to print and spend. Need to give people more welfare? Just tap a few keys, and it appears in their bank accounts. Need to buy more missiles? Just a few more taps on the keyboard… But the privacy issue is even scarier: digital money would seem like Big Brother‘s dream come true. They wouldn’t even have to send their minions out to go through people’s trash. They could see everything anyone ever spent money on and where they were physically when they did it, search for activity nearby, and much more, just by having computers report the details of people’s accounts.Doug: Exactly. They would justify it with a host of phony excuses ranging from the so-called War on Terrorism to the so-called War on Drugs. Maybe they’ll tie it in to their disastrously failed War on Poverty. As the War on Islam heats up, one front will be an attack on the excellent Muslim hawala system, which allows cheap and reliable transfer of money between countries; that system, which is kind of a private SWIFT network, is excellent for evading FX controls. Ironically, Islamic countries are some of the very worst perpetrators of currency controls.L: Maybe that’s why the informal network exists in the first place? But yes, they gotta stop those evil money launderers from washing their money and hanging it out to dry…Doug: Don’t get me started on “money laundering.” It’s a completely artificial crime. It wasn’t even heard of 20 years ago, because the “crime” didn’t exist. Now, everyone speaks of it as though it were a real crime, like murder. It’s ridiculous, and further proof of the totally degraded state of the average person worldwide, absolutely including US citizens – what we used to call Americans. The government proclaims something as a law, and “sheeple” robotically assume it’s part of the cosmic firmament. If an official tells them to do or not to do something, they roll over on their backs like whipped dogs and wet themselves out of fear. The War on Drugs may be where “money laundering” originated as a crime, but today it has a lot more to do with something infinitely more important to the state: the War on Tax Evasion.Incidentally, not that a US citizen can open an account with a Swiss bank anyway any longer – except with at least seven figures and loads of paperwork – but now the policy in Switzerland is to insist that clients prove that their funds are all tax paid. The situation is out of control. And the world’s governments are increasingly working together to make sure no one slips through the net.L: Gotta keep the cattle in line.Doug: That’s right; the US has sent swarms of agents all around the world to bully and cajole bureaucrats in other countries into giving them access to bank account information and to impose income taxes in places that didn’t have them. In Uruguay, where I was last week, for example, there was no income tax two years ago. Now there is. And they’re trying to do the same thing in Paraguay. That’s about the last personal-income-tax holdout among the larger countries of the world.L: When I was in Paraguay last, they had passed an income-tax law, but it was being blocked from implementation by the legislature itself, on procedural grounds. I was told that since all of the legislators are deeply corrupted, none of them want to have to account for their income, and that’s why the measure will never be implemented. “Never” seems a bit optimistic, but it reminds me of your call to make corruption your friend. At any rate, why would the US government care if other countries have income taxes – so they can have tax treaties with them?Doug: I’m sure that’s part of it. A bigger part may be that countries with high tax burdens want so-called tax harmonization, so it’s less tempting to businesses and individuals to leave their borders and go where they can benefit from a lower tax burden – or pay no taxes at all. Governments all around the world, in spite of their differences, share a concern about their income streams – especially since most of them are absolutely bankrupt now – and their bureaucracies work together closely when it suits them. For example, the reason why you get asked if you are carrying more than $10,000 in cash on you when you board an international flight these days, even in a tiny African or South American country, is that it’s an OECD standard that’s been… enthusiastically encouraged. When it first started, it was only $3,000, but that generated too much work for them, so they raised it to $10,000. But all the bad ideas in the world now seem to be coming out of the US.You know, up until the Bank Secrecy Act of 1971, Americans didn’t have to report foreign bank accounts or brokerage accounts. Reporting income generated by such accounts was required, but the existence of the accounts themselves was not required. The rules and reporting requirements have now become so draconian that most foreign banks don’t even want to see a US taxpayer darken their door, let alone open an account for one. It’s a cancer, spreading out from the US.L: So, is this trend inevitable? At some point will Big Brother know everything about all transactions?Doug: Yes. And if they can’t get everything they want from you off your cell phone, which will probably also become your wallet with a digital credit-card app at some point in the near future, they will be able to monitor everything physically via the swarms of tiny spy drones they will flood the skies with. The technology will soon make this cheap as dirt, and computational power is increasing rapidly to the point where it will be possible to process all the images.L: Only if the people don’t divulge everything they are doing and whom they are doing it with on Facebook and Twitter.Doug: [Laughs] Ah, yes, Facebook, the CIA’s most successful covert op. I idiotically opened a Facebook account some years back because someone convinced me it would be a good way to keep in touch with old school friends I’d lost touch with. Now I get scores of people who want to friend me every month, and I know very, very few of them. It will be one-stop shopping for Homeland Security to round up the usual suspects when they feel the time is right. I hate Facebook and never use it for anything. I wonder how many of my Facebook friends are actually government stooges out looking for somebody to railroad…L: A sobering thought.Doug: I have to say that the prognosis for privacy is very grim. The only possible saving grace I can see is that the snoops may end up with information overload, most of it worthless or irrelevant. That’s what seriously impeded the East German and Romanian secret police. But with computer technology getting better and better, there’s not much reason to believe Homeland Security will be buried the way the Stasi was with its primitive technology.I really see no way to stop this trend, nor hide from it – at least in the US or Europe. There’s one thing, however, we can hope for: the coming collapse of the modern nation-state. This will happen, sooner or later, in Europe and North America, at least. This is a possible bright side of the building worldwide financial collapse; it might bring down Big Brother… although it’s more likely, I’m afraid, that he’ll redouble his efforts to control everything. Unfortunately, the immediate aftermath of that collapse is likely to be very unpleasant, especially for those in the most developed and powerful countries.The best way to insulate yourself from this, therefore, is to live in a country whose government doesn’t have the power, financial resources, or technical ability to do these things. As per our last conversation, Africa might be a good place to get out of harm’s way, but it’s a bit too far off the beaten path for my taste and has way too many problems. That’s why I like Latin America.L: What about the hope that if people get pushed too far, they may rebel? Everyone has things they don’t want made public, even those with absolutely nothing nefarious about them. A total lack of privacy would seem intolerable, after some – probably short – period of time. As Princess Leia told Governor Tarkin in the original Star Wars movie: the tighter they squeeze their fist, the more people will slip through their fingers. Or maybe not. It is, frankly, very dismaying to me that the Big Brother concept has been turned into a “reality” TV show.Doug: People may think it’s funny now, or even an egalitarian ideal to live in a society in which no one has any secrets, but that won’t last. If only in relation to currency controls – what we started out talking about – I think there’s something to your Star Wars quote. The more total the monitoring and control the state achieves over the legal economy, the more it will push people into the black market. We saw that in Soviet times. Stringent and very intrusive state monitoring, compulsion, and punishment only made the informal market flourish all the more. I’m sure this will happen. Even North Korea has an active black market. But I don’t like that term. What’s called “the black market” is really the free market; it’s heroic. The legal market – with all its taxes and regulations – is actually the one in need of either radical reform or abolition.L: But the monitoring beyond finance – your drone swarms – might make noncompliance too risky for most people to try.Doug: True. And maybe the US will get not just 10% of the population hooked on stuff like Prozac, but 20% or 50%. As Aldous Huxley pointed out in Brave New World, it’s much easier to control zombies. That’s another reason why I think that hope for the future rests in what are today derided as corrupt Third-World countries. If you’re going to have a ridiculous number of impossible laws, corruption is a good thing. Increasingly, what matters is not the number or even nature of laws on the books in the place you live, but the amount of actual control the state has over private individuals. Corruption subverts idiotic laws; it’s the next best thing to abolishing them.L: I’ve often said that on paper, the US is freer than Mexico, but in fact, Mexico has become much freer than the US, in spite of its legally powerful socialist government. The average Mexican considers tax evasion to be a universal given, but US taxpayers fear their government – a letter from the IRS can cause instant weight loss.Doug: It’s certainly true that in Argentina, where I’m building a new home, people don’t fear their government. Well, not in the police-state sense, anyway; they see it as more of a nuisance. It’s probably more accurate to say they are resigned to their government destroying the economy periodically than to say they actively fear it. If I get pulled over for speeding in Argentina – which itself would be highly unusual – I feel that I have nothing to fear at all, whereas back in the US, I could end up getting tased, have my car taken, and do jail time for saying or doing the wrong thing, even without harming anyone. Any contact with the police in the US brings an increasing risk of a lethal outcome these days. I understand that there are about 40,000 SWAT raids on real and imagined targets every year, and the number is growing fast.Another contrast: in Argentina, most people despise the police and military, whereas in the US, they are apotheosized. This tells you a lot about the psychological states of these populations – it’s a very bad trend in the US.L: On the subject of Argentina, perhaps we should mention that readers who’d like to meet you could head down there for the upcoming harvest celebration.Doug: Well, I’m in the middle of one right now, but another is coming up next week, and there’s still time to sign up for that one. Sure – we have a lot of readers, and I’ve enjoyed meeting many, but it would be nice to get to know more of them. And it’s a nice time to get away from the dying days of winter in the northern hemisphere and come to a place where the weather is pleasant and the wines are fantastic. And I’m really tickled with our world-class gym, spa, and all the rest of it.L: Very well. Investment implications?Doug: Well, this highlights the importance of owning gold, but not for investment purposes or even for the financial prudence we’ve spoken of before, but for a different kind of prudence: privacy – and even freedom.One thing that has changed since we started having these conversations – back when gold was trading at about $600 per ounce – is that having approached $2,000 per ounce, and being likely to surpass that level soon, governments are going to start clamping down on gold more and more. Back when gold was under $300 an ounce, it wasn’t convenient to carry large nominal sums in gold – it was too bulky, too heavy. A roll of hundred-dollar bills was less trouble. But now you can hide $20,000 in one hand using gold. This has not gone unnoticed by the bad guys, and customs and immigrations forms of several countries have started asking not only if you are carrying more than $10,000 in cash, but specifically gold. Incidentally, to keep up with this type of thing, I urge readers to sign up at International Man, which has a great, free daily letter.L: I agree; it’s an excellent publication. That’s an interesting admission for Big Brother to make, asking people to declare cash and gold; in effect, it admits gold’s value as money… But okay, if the state achieves total monitoring and control of the legal economy, and the informal economy becomes much larger, would that not greatly increase the demand for gold? The black market is, as you say, a free – if somewhat chaotic – market, so, according to you and Aristotle, would not gold emerge as the money of choice in that market? And would that not add to the speculative reason for owning gold in addition to the reasons of prudence?Doug: Yes, and yes. Other sub-trends speculators might look for, within the overall trend of digitalization of our world, would lie in various new technologies this will make possible. Many of them would be very positive and profitable for those who deploy them commercially first. This is the sort of thing Alex Daly keeps tabs on in our Casey Extraordinary Technology letter.L: That reminds me of what you said about our phones becoming our wallets. You already don’t really need a physical card to make most revolving credit purchases, just the information on the account. Not only do we buy all sort of thing online these days with this information, but there are chips that transmit gas-card info to gas pumps so we don’t even need to get our wallets out to fill up our tanks. Who knows where that will end up, but I can imagine that as phones and computers (and what used to be TVs) all merge into one technology – which already includes payment systems – money will get folded into this technology as well.Doug: I fully expect that, even though I still don’t own a cell phone and really loathe the things. As an individual human being, I’m going to keep on paying for things in cash for as long as I can – and to me, gold is the real cash of the world. But as a speculator, I think there’s a lot of money to be made investing in the developers of these technological innovations.L: Good luck with that fight. As Locutus of Borg said, “Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.” There are computer chips in clothing, in cars – heck, it won’t be long before they’re in our food and in the drinking water… Only to help doctors monitor our health, of course.Doug: I know, I know. The prison planet we live on could get pretty ugly before it frees up again. I fear that before things get better, they will have to get much worse, and our world will soon come to resemble a cross between Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s 1984 – or maybe Soylent Green if it gets really bad.L: Another cheerful thought, Doug.Doug: You know I call ’em like I see ’em. I hope many of our current readers will look into The Casey Report as well, if only because this month has part two of a long article that I’m rather fond of, titled Evil, Stupidity, and the Decline of America, which examines the root causes of the pickle the West is now in.But the greater the invasion of privacy, the greater the need for privacy there will be – and the market will respond. I doubt you’ll need stolen eyeballs for retina scans, as in the movie Minority Report, but technologies that identify you to the monitors as a Boy Scout from Iowa (with a perfect grade-point average, totally clean driving record, and no arrests or interrogations) will certainly become available. Clean digital identities should become highly lucrative commodities, all the more so for being illegal. But, with any luck, when the revolution comes – and it will, even though it will be most unpleasant, inconvenient, and dangerous – I hope it turns out more like the revolutions in V for Vendetta or the American Revolution than the one in France under Robespierre. In any event, there’s no doubt in my mind that things will get much worse before the world reboots and gets better again.L: Well, that’s marginally better. As has been observed before, as in the times of chattel slavery, for example, when laws become unjust, just people must become outlaws.Doug: Just so. Maybe we’ll all have our chance to play Robin Hood against an evil king.L: Right then. Thanks for your thoughts… I’ll have to take a closer look at our technology picks for my own investment portfolio.Doug: You should. And you’re welcome. Talk to you soon. In the meantime, live, and be wellL: Until next time.
In 1946, an American singer, Merle Travis, recorded a song called “Sixteen Tons.” The song told the story of a poor coal miner in Kentucky, who lived in a small coal mining town. The town’s economy revolved entirely around the mine.c The mining company owned a “company store,” which had a monopoly on the sale of provisions. It charged rates that were designed to use up the weekly paycheque of the miner, so that the miner, in effect, was a slave to the mining company. As the song states, You load sixteen tons, what do you get Another day older and deeper in debt Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go I owe my soul to the company store Negative Interest Rates Let’s put the song aside for the moment and have a look at a concept that has been bandied about by the European Central Bank (ECB) for a while now. Since the collapse of the central banks would doom the world (their claim, not mine), it is essential that the banks be saved no matter what else must be sacrificed. Efforts to “save” the situation have been implemented through quantitative easing (QE) and the setting and continuation of low interest rates. Unfortunately, in spite of record profits by banks and staggering bonuses handed out to senior bank executives, somehow the QE and low interest rates have not created the prosperity desired. The economy is still in the tank. What to do? A solution being considered is to create “negative interest rates.” Sounds logical, doesn’t it? If low interest rates have kept the economy from crashing but haven’t fixed it, surely, negative interest rates can only be more positive. And what are negative interest rates? Well, it simply means that, if you keep your money in a bank, instead of the bank paying you interest, you pay the bank to hold your money. No central bank has ever done such a thing, so, not surprisingly, it sounds like a bitter pill to swallow. However, the ECB will present it as an “unfortunate necessity.” Electronic Currency Let’s once again change subjects for the moment. If the fiat currencies, such as the euro and the dollar, collapse (as I believe is all but inevitable), the EU and US are likely to immediately come up with an alternate currency (or currencies), since if an alternative is not made readily available, people will turn to whatever currency is handy in order to be able to continue to purchase goods and to trade. We are in the electronic age. We are also seeing the EU and US heading in a direction that is marked with increasing controls on the capital held by their citizens. Therefore, the ideal currency would be an electronic one. No more paper notes in the wallet, no more coins in the pocket; just a plastic debit card to take care of all purchases. All purchases. Whether the purchaser buys something as major as a car or as insignificant as a Cadbury bar, the card would be used for every monetary transaction. This, of course, is a handy solution to the fuss of dealing with what was formerly regarded as money. But there is an extra advantage—quite a major one, in fact—to the government. It now has a record of every single transaction that you make. There could be no “under the table” transactions, as only the debit card would represent currency. Of course, a bank would be needed to handle the transactions. The bank would receive your electronic paycheck directly from your employer, and you would spend what you had in your account. The bank would be the central clearing house though which all your financial transactions took place. An extra advantage to the government would be that they would no longer need to chase their citizens for taxation. Since they had a full record of every penny you earned and spent, they could advise you of the amount of your tax obligation and simply deduct it periodically. If you presently pay tax annually, the deductions could be broken up—say, monthly, or even weekly. And the tax need not be under one heading. Just as your bank now lists a host of confusing charges on your credit card, so the government may have a wide variety of confusing and even redundant taxes that it deducts on a regular basis. Just as with the bank, the rates for each tax might go up or down (but mostly up) without explanation. (The more numerous the tax categories and the greater the frequency of deductions, the more confusion and, therefore, the fewer the complaints.) How Does All This Fit Together? Let’s go back to the ECB. If a negative interest rate exists, the bank no longer pays you interest to encourage you to keep your money with them. They now control all your monetary transactions, and you cannot function without them. The servant has become the master. Therefore, it would not be possible to cease to use the bank for your transactions, should their “negative interest rates” start to climb. At this point, the government and the bank would, between them, control your money totally. You would find yourself, in effect, “owned by the company store.” It’s even possible that bank fees and tax rates could be increased as your income increased, so that you might never be able to truly save money, invest, or indeed, act independently of your “owners.” The flow of your money would have become centralised, and you could not function without them. Of course, this is all theory. Surely, this could not come to pass, because people inherently do not wish to be enslaved. And yet it happened on a wholesale basis in Kentucky and other mining areas in the US. So the question really is, “How did it become possible that people in mining towns volunteered for their own slavery?” First there was a depression. Many people lost their jobs and their incomes and were prepared to do anything in order to feed their families. So they signed up for the only game in town: the mines. It was dangerous work, there were no benefits, and the coal dust would kill a miner after a time. But as long as he lived, his family had enough to eat. He accepted the deal, because (again) it was the only game in town. So, back to the present day, where the Greater Depression will soon be on us in full force. A large percentage of jobs will be destroyed, but in addition, this time around, the currency will also be destroyed. In order to pay for goods, particularly food, people will do whatever they have to, to obtain currency. Desperate times, indeed. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel! The government has chosen to eliminate bank notes and coins, as they ultimately proved to be so destructive. Never again will this be allowed to happen. The new Electronic Currency System will ensure that all money is centrally managed. The press will declare the new system brilliant, and the harder an individual has been hit by the Greater Depression, the more quickly he will jump on board. The greedy rich have all but destroyed his life, and his government, like a knight in shining armour, has come to save him. Like the miner, he will not be musing on how this will all play out over the decades; he will opt for the promise of relief for his family now. If this all plays out as described above, it will not be just Kentucky, but entire nations. Editor’s note: The day after this article was written, the ECB announced the introduction of a negative interest rate: 0.1% on deposits. As predicted, the media have already begun to the praise the measure. To see what the consequences of economic mismanagement can be, and how stealthily disaster can creep up on you, watch the 30-minute documentary, Meltdown America. Witness the harrowing tales of three ordinary people who lived through a crisis, and how their experiences warn of the turmoil that could soon reach the US. Click here to watch it now.
Fantastic essay! – Linda Recommended Link For the first time ever: a guided tour of Doug’s Ranch in UruguayDoug Casey was kind enough to take our cameras on a guided tour of beautiful Uruguayan Estancia. We even captured Doug showing off a few special pieces in his art collection. Click here for a rare look inside the private life of one of the world’s most reclusive millionaires. Recommended Link By Justin Spittler, editor, Casey Daily DispatchCalifornia just made history.Last week, state regulators announced a new mandate that will require all new homes to have solar panels. The law applies to single-family homes and low-rise apartment buildings. It will go into effect in 2020. As a result, California became the first state to introduce such a mandate.And as I’ll show you in today’s Dispatch, this isn’t just big news for the people of California.It’s big news for all Americans… and it’s a massive investing opportunity.I’ll tell you why in a second. But let’s first take a closer look at the mandate… and how it will impact people living in California. — Hi guys, Tell John Hunt his article was absolutely spot-on, just brilliant.– Anthony — • The mandate is expected to add $9,500 in costs for each new home built…Now, some folks worry that this will make it even less affordable to buy homes in California. That’s the bad news.The good news is that the average Californian is expected to see $19,000 in energy savings over the next 30 years.This mandate will have serious ripple effects. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Florida, Nevada, or even Texas eventually introduced similar legislation.If that happens, more and more Americans will need to buy solar panels. And that will obviously be good news for the solar panel companies. But here’s the thing…• The solar energy industry will flourish even if other states don’t follow California’s lead… There’s a simple reason for this.Solar energy has become very cheap. According to a recent report from asset management firm Lazard, the cost of solar power has declined 86% since 2009. That’s the biggest drop of any major energy source.As a result, one megawatt hour of solar power now costs just $50. That’s less than half of what it costs to produce one megawatt-hour of coal power ($102). And get this… solar energy currently accounts for just 2% of U.S. electricity needs. So, solar energy will become even cheaper as the industry achieves economies of scale.This will encourage even more people to adopt solar energy for their energy needs.You can see where I’m going with this. But look, I’m not the only investor bullish on solar stocks. Just look at this chart of the Guggenheim Solar ETF (TAN), which invests in a basket of solar stocks.You can see that TAN surged 9% following California’s big announcement. It’s now up 46% over the last year. That’s a big move. But solar stocks should climb much higher in the coming months.Check out this chart to see why. It compares the performance of TAN to the S&P 500.When this line is rising, it means that solar stocks are doing better than the S&P 500. When it’s falling, it means they’re doing worse.You can see that solar stocks have been underperforming the market for the past 10 years. This means they have a lot of catching up to do. But the trend has changed direction over the past few months… and solar stocks will continue to move higher, thanks to California’s mandate and the industry’s rapidly improving economics.So, consider investing in solar stocks if you haven’t already. You can easily do so with TAN.As I mentioned earlier, this ETF invests in a basket of solar stocks and allows you to bet on this big trend without taking on any company-specific risks.Regards, Justin Spittler Buenos Aires, Argentina May 18, 2018Reader MailbagToday, lots of great feedback on Wednesday’s Dispatch featuring an important update on Argentina and a new essay from John Hunt…Nice essay, Justin. – Peter New tool could disrupt the entire $8 trillion food industry Scientists recently discovered a new tool hidden in billion-year-old bacteria that could disrupt the entire $8 trillion global food industry… This could mean 35X growth for the industry at the center of this new technology. Click here to learn more. Beautiful. Perfect. Now I see why John Hunt and Doug Casey are writing novels together. Always nice to be reminded that I’m not completely alone in my view of government people. Thanks! – Gordon As always, if you have any questions or suggestions for the Dispatch, send them to us right here.In Case You Missed It…Doug Casey just found a crypto guru worthy of Casey Research subscribers…This bright young German has been involved with digital currencies since he invested in e-gold in the late ’90s—long before the current blockchain breakthrough.And like Doug, he’s a truly an “international man.” He made so much money from cryptos; he dropped everything and traveled the world for five years. And now, he has an important message…