WhatsApp 'Backdoor '

WhatsApp messages: Safety of encryption still under question

WhatsApp message encryption  is still under question.  The fact that messages written between users of this popular service enjoyed it because of its privacy, messages can still be read by prying eyes.

Remember the uproar over the privacy issue in the San Bernadino shooting? IPhones had additional safety features built into the phone to avoid someone seeing incriminating evidence. Yet, the FBI found its way around the First Amendment and everyone’s right to privacy, including the dead terrorists. This blogger still has her phone coded around my family just in case someone gets too nosey.

Once again, the media might be the catalyst for giving people the wrong idea concerning the safety of chatting on WhatsApp. Being able to read messages through a back door led users to Most other chat services that aren’t encrypted or as safe. Sometimes it makes this blogger wonder why the media allowed for such stupid scare tactics to occur?

My biggest concern is whether my gmail and yahoo email accounts were safe. Because the app had been compromised at yahoo for the second time my password is coded, preventing a breach. In times of war, nothing is absolute, not even the right to privacy.  In the case of the San Bernadino shooting, the FBI showed just cause in retrieving the data in the iPhone as evidence of a terrorist attack and maintained the proper warrant.

The concern over WhatsApp encrypted messages has merit. This didn’t sound so dumb to a lot of people. According to Chris Mills January 13 bog post, End-to-end encryption relies on both users having two parts of a secure key, used to encrypt and then decrypt the message. But to make sure that messages are always sent, even when the recipient is offline, Whatsapp appears to have compromised that system. According to The Guardian, “WhatsApp has the ability to force the generation of new encryption keys for offline users, unbeknown to the sender and recipient of the messages, and to make the sender re-encrypt messages with new keys and send them again for any messages that have not been marked as delivered.”

Here’s how the WhatsApp feature worked, according to Chris Smith’s January 17 blog post :

  • When a message is sent but not delivered to the recipient (you see a single tick on your sent message), WhatsApp servers will hold onto the message until it can be delivered, regardless of what happens to the receiving account.
  •  If a person — let’s call him Jay — loses a smartphone, buys a new one, or changes SIMs, but wants to keep using the same WhatsApp account, the application will warn all Jay’s contacts that their friend has changed devices, and an in-person security check might be required to verify his identity.

Now, here’s where the backdoor ‘feature’ steps in. The messages sent by all of Jay’s friends via WhatsApp will still arrive — that’s when his friends will see two ticks under their sent messages, marking the fact that the messages have been sent.

*Boelter explains that all the government has to do to spy on a specific friend of Jay’s — let’s call him Silent Bob — is to mimic  Jay’s phone using sophisticated equipment or by accessing WhatsApp’s servers. The government would then prevent the server from sending confirmation ticks to Silent Bob that his messages have been sent to Jay.

Jay, meanwhile, will not receive those messages, as they’re sent to the government’s devices. But Jay might soon realize that something is wrong with his WhatsApp app.

The gist is that Silent Bob will continue to send out messages to his friend, thinking that Jay has not seen the messages. The government would then collect that data.

In Tobias Boelter’s January 17 blog post, he stated that Facebook’s failure to acknowledge this flaw is a major concern because it allowed hackers to use this vulnerability. The collection of data  would’ve been a violation of users First Amendment right to privacy and free speech. Facebook and WhatsApp would have to keep all messages sent to an account that’s activated on a new device and prompt the senders to send them again if they want to do it. Even if it’s a hassle for the user, who sent those messages. In this case, Silent Bob’s messages that are in transit would need confirmation to be sent again to Jay.

Even though this made encrypted messages safe, it isn’t totally safe from hackers or unethical government people. Tobias Boelter showed this.

 

Sources:

Feelings Tobias Boelter’s Blog, January 17, 2017

WhatsApp vulnerability: Encryption backdoor or convenience feature? Chris Smith January 17, 2017

Whatsapp bug allows viewing of encrypted messages Chris Mills January 13, 2017

Possible cancer link discovered in palm oil

Nutella’s cancer link to palm oil unfounded by report

Nutella, the popular chocolate, nutty spread, now has links to cancer thanks to palm oil. Before anyone panics, here is the information found by this blogger. Most of the problem with this spread and the cancer concern has to do with children, aged 3 and under. This blogger might think that the report is unfounded.

While processed foods aren’t good for anyone, this group has underdeveloped immune systems. Most of the trouble came from refining foods at high tempertures, usually above 200 degrees Celcius, which causes these free radicals to exist in foods like margarine and other oils. One of the problems with this eight month old report is that the powers that be didn’t set a safe level of the cancer causing agent that had everyone so afraid. That didn’t stop one of the largest food chains in Italy from pulling the spread from it’s shelves. Acccording to the article from The Huffington Post, more research is needed to determine how bad the cancer threat really is.

Nutella posted a tweet on the safety of its product and further went on defending its consumption. It went on further, stating:

“Making Nutella without palm oil would produce an inferior substitute for the real product, it would be a step backward,” Vincenzo Tapella from Ferrero told Reuters.

This link to cancer that has everybody up in arms, is inconclusive because the report that is being used to back up these cancer claims never mentioned the name brand as a culprit of it. If more research is needed on the subject, why are they using this old report to stir up controversy in the first place?

The biggest problem over the production of this highly prized palm oil is that poor countries in where the rain forest existed, large corporations are being lured into mass producing these trees for economic reasons, often at the expense of endangered aninimals and their habitats. A lot of people that live in the forest are being displaced in favor of the money these large farms can produce from growing and harvesting these trees. It reminded me of what the settlers did to gain land from the Indians. Remember The Trail of Tears?

In spite of this scare tactic from the media, no plans are in the works in the United Kingdom to stop sales of Nutrlla. The World Health Organizatio hasn’t warned people to cease consumption of palm oil. There are efforts to stop the massive distruction of the forests by producing synthetic palm oil, but even that is full o controversy too.

 

Sources:

Stores Are Pulling Nutella After Report Links It To Cancer

Process contaminants in vegetable oils and foods

Say No to Palm Oil

Will the new administration get Obamacare right with the March 3 deadline?

The fate of Obamacare delayed until March 3

It looked to me like the life of ObamaCare, otherwise known as The Affordable Care Act, is extended, at least until March 3. This allowed the in coming administration to get it right, thanks to the five senators that drafted and passed an amendment to the bill on Monday night. The January 27 deadline would’ve used money from the budget reconciliation to void parts of the controversial act.

SENATE VOTES OVERNIGHT IN FIRST STEP TOWARD REPEAL OF OBAMACARE

Having something new and more responsible is the incoming administration’s major hurdles and first on their agenda. How is this done without a huge hike in costs? According to one article, the ACA costs money, $1.34 trillion in the next 10 years. As this already added to the national defict, already reaching $19.8 trillion, taxpayers are alarmed this mandate further excentuated unneccessary, waistful spending. Nearly 20 million people will lose medical coverage if Obamacare is undone.

Speaking of the affect on the national deficit, a few estimates suggest that the ACA could have a positive long-term effect on the deficit; others disagree. saying that the new law will only add more weight to an already devastating national debt. Affordable healthcare comes at a cost to taxpayers who can afford to contribute to the system. And some taxpayers will pay substantially more than others depending on their health. age and socioeconomic status.

The Affordable Care Act requires a variety of things:1) Everyone must obtain insurance 2), policies have to offer “10 essential benefits. and 3) certain employers have to provide health insurance to full-time workers. These requirements might be seen as a slap in the face to personal freedom. Whether you agree with this assessment or not, conservatives back this mandate 100% and continue arguing the point, despite the fact that the bill is a law.

Republicans have it reversed. Government wasn’t the problem, it was the solution. The problem existed in the private sector. At least 20% won’t have a choice in providers in 2017. Those in the middle faced an average premium increase of 25%. Still the majority of people were taking a tax penalty because the premiums remain out of reach.

Donald Trump Warns Obamacare Taxes & Penalties 2016 – YouTube

Remember the problem with Bowie Memorial Hospital? It closed because of funding problems. Bowie citizens went to the polls in Montague County deciding whether to approve a hospital tax district, which would have pumped much-needed revenue into the hospital. Run by a volunteer board, appointed by  Bowie City Council members, Bowie Memorial bled millions over the years as administrators struggled to serve an aging, poor and underinsured population. But anti-tax forces in the community saw the district as another government bailout; some didn’t even believe the hospital would close.

With the influx of young people to bigger cities in search of jobs, the elderly and poor were left behind. This made things worse when Congress slashed funding and repayment costs for Medicaid and Medicare in the 1990s. The worst part of it is they didn’t expand services for Medicaid under the ACA, which left most uninsured who didn’t qualify for Medicaid and didn’t have Medicare. Nearly 80% of hospital patients were like that and very sick a lot on the time. It was sad to see this unfold last year on the news.

There has been local good news. Thanks to the ACA, there are urgent care centers and Emergency Clinics. Urgent care centers handle things that were handled in the next two days and up to a week. Emergency Clinics handle immediate problems like appendicitis, any type of stomach pains and the like. For a kidney infection, urgent care would run the testing aand diagnose the condition via their lab. For a migraine The Emergency Clinic is the option. The aim with all these options is to reduce the high copay costs of visiting an ER.

The cost of treating my migraine at URHCC ER back in January 2008 was $2,678, roughly. The cost for the ER doctor was over $300, separate from the treatment. This included three anti- nausea medication administered through an IV and my being hooked up to a heart machine, a blood test taken twice, and medicine to stop the pain. The medication for the migraine cost $285 before Medicare, $211 after. The large amount made my doctor cringe.

Medicare Part D Penalty

To leave Medicare Part D isn’t wise either. Not having prescription drug coverage cost someone 2.5% of their income plus a lifetime penalty that started at $ 4 a month. Because there isn’t any other income outside of my Social Security check and what my father left from the VA, the money probably will be deducted from my check before it is electronically deposited into my account. Not having part B costs more than that. As of April 15, 2017, the penalty started at $900. Penalties were like premiums. They went up too. Had I switched to the standard plan instead of going with another company, or sttaying with the value plan there probably wouldn’t be a premium increase of $17.

My point here is, in the rush to get out of the program, the representative on the phone December 7 mislead me into believing disenrollment in Medicare Part D could’ve been handled over the phone and there weren’t any consequences.  She may have started with them, but there wasn’t a full disclosure until my call on December 30.

So, as congress and the senate decide the fate of Obamacare, the effects could either hurt its users or help. Let’s pray they get it right by March 3 of this year.

WHAT TODAY’S PROCEDURAL VOTE MEANS FOR A POTENTIAL OBAMACARE REPEAL

 

 

Sources:

The GOP is pumping the brakes on repealing Obamacare Bob Bryan Business Insider January 10, 2017

Wichita Falls Urgent Care Clinics versus Emergency Rooms By Alex Achten, Thursday, November 17th 2016

Problems with Obamacare

Doctor’s Out: a Community Hospital Closes in Small-Town Texas by Alexa Garcia-Ditta Fri., April 1, 2016

The Biggest Problem with Obamacare (It’s Probably Not What You Think) “Government isn’t the problem here. It’s the solution.” By Richard Eskow / Blog for Our Future November 2, 2016

gaming consoles, bands, movies

2016: A look back at overrated entertainment and weird fashion

In some ways, SoundCloud’s post on Tumblr is correct. Top of the line can be overrated. Everyone knew that they were talking music must haves. This blogger, however, will go a lot further to include my top 2016: A look back at my top five overrated entertainment or weird fashion.

  1. In technology, its gaming consoles, particularly the Xbox One and the PS4. As of August 3. 2016. According to Quora, it is all about the lead magnet and the tripwire. How many people got caught up in the latest popular war game by watching ads on television and pop ups on their smartphones? Heaven knows, I’ve seen my share on the S5 that someone handed down to me this past summer. Truth be told, the battle between Microsoft and Sony is neverending. Sales between the two for top dog are slow to materialize because of media hype.
  1. In music, this blogger has to disagree with Jaded Bitterman and his Top 10 Most Overhowever, Willans of All Time The Beatles made history in England and the United States. I mean, exactly how can they be listed as overrated? He also listed the Eagles, Eric Clapton and Billy Joel as overrated too. I am not a fan of any of these artists, but they wouldn’t be on my list of overrated musicians. I loved “Yellow Submarine” when they played the song on Sesame Street and used their voices as the Muppets who sang the song. As for the Eagles, someone played ”Hotel California on their smartphone this morning outside underneath my window, and sang to it. Granted, Clapton is more of a blues player than a groundbreaking guitarist. I like “Tears In Heaven,’ though. In spite of the author saying that Billy Joel is overrated, he might be wrong there also. I like “The Piano Man” and “We Didn’t Start the Fire” His songs appealed to the average listener. I mean, the piano player is the nain attraction in a bar other than the bartender.
  1. Deadpool, according to WhatCulture, isn’t cutting edge enough in spite of the money brought in via the box office. Better safe then too violent. Just last week, an article in the Huffington Post said that there is copyright infringement pirating superhero movies on the internet . Ironic that the link can’t be found. Judging by ticket sales, overkill is the least of their worries. Remember Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was panned by critics before hitting the box office and still turned a big profit.There were other films on the list that this blogger never heard of, for instance, The Nice Guys lacked chemistry. WhatCulture said that the two actors picked to play the lead roles just didn’t fit chemically on screen. That may have been how the roles were designed. Talk about the odd couple. This blogger never saw Meryl Streep’s Florence Foster Jenkins either,  but what they said about this movie is right on the mark. Someone said she can sing and she does, in public.

Golden Globe Awards: The winners list

  1. According to Carlos Lozada, The Washington Post, he couldn’t stand, “Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right” (The New Press) by Arlie Russell Hochschild, finding it horribly overrated. The lead character hung onto too much baggage while visiting Louisiana to find out how people feel on the right side of politics. We all know that the press is extremely liberal. Some of those publications are bound and determined to bring down the current president elect—whatever it took. Lozada might be right about this award winning book, but this blogger plans to give Donald Trump a chance.
platform shoes, Dsisy Duke-like shorts, thong underwear

Weird fashion

  1. If one liked loud things, then fashion is where its at. I mean, platform shoes, fringe tops and skirts seemed like a throwback to the disco era of the 1970’s. One wrong turn or trip will break one’s ankle. This blogger wasn’t surprised at the Daisy Duke-like short shorts, except that the behind is covered. We all remember the female cousin from “The Dukes of Hazzard”, Catherine Bach and every other shapely female that wore those red alarm shorts. I am surprised thong underwear, affectionately called ‘butt floss’, hasn’t lost its popularity yet. I had to ban someone on my news site on Tumblr because of his racy content. Females wearing thong panties is all tha was posted. UGH!

Do you agree with this list? Leave a comment in the coment section of the blog to let me know either way.

 

 

 

 

Sources

What is the most overrated tech device in 2016? Chris Wilson,

Top 10 Most Overrated Musicians of All Time  JADED BITTERMAN

10 Most Overrated Movies Of 2016 (So Far) Sam Hill

The most ambitious, irritating, hopeful and overrated books of 2016 — and the best one,  too Carlos Lozada

The weirdest fashion trends from 2016 and three more to look forward to in 2017 By Marilisa Racco

 

Safe holiday shopping tips

With the biggest shopping season upon us, safety remains a top priority both on and offline. Retailers expected more than $11 billion be spent between Black Friday and Cyber Monday and beyond. That meant that most shoppers are using the internet for those must-have gifts this season.

This also meant that thieves are monitoring people’s shopping habits. Just like the criminal that watches one’s comings and goings, hackers find patterns and find where their victims frequently shop and hone in on their weaknesses.

With that in mind, here is a set of helpful online shopping safety tips:

1. Ensure that the website address is secure and has a valid encryption certificate. It will usually display a “locked, green” indicator in front of the website name. If it doesn’t have that, it does not have a higher level of security that has been guaranteed by a known entity like Verisign, Symantec and others.

2. Ensure your system has the most recent recommended system and security patches.

3. Always use a credit card that is not tied directly to your personal bank account(s), even if you are using PayPal, Bitcoin or some other payment method. Thankfully, there isn’t a bank card in my wallet.

4. Never give anything other than name, address and phone number.  You should not need to answer security or privacy questions when making a purchase or checking out. If they ask, see if you can checkout as a “guest” instead.

5. Monitor your credit through a third party for identify theft and have SMS and email alerts sent to you immediately. I use LifeLock, which notifies me via phone or text messaging when there is a problem with my identity.

6. Set-up alerts with your credit card company that send both SMS and emails when any purchases are made and the credit card was not scanned (meaning, it wasn’t in someone’s hand when the charge was made). Set them as low as $25 per purchase. Also, set-up alerts for total purchases over $500 in a billing period to protect multiple $24.99 purchases. And if possible, a maximum amount of purchases allowed in a billing period, such as $1500 before card will get declined. My credit card companies will notify me of suspicious activity on my cards for free. There isn’t much space for a criminal to run up a bill on any of them anyway.

7. Ensure that you have a reputable Antivirus program running on your computer and that your browser has an Ad blocking plug-in. Even with this protection in place, things still slip under the radar like the flashing ads from a flashplayer. If this happens, run the antivirus program immediately to avoid an infection or malware problem.

8. Ensure that the network your computer/device is on is secure and you know who has access to your network. This is usually done with your router. You want to lock down your router so that traffic can be initiated from the inside-out but you do not want traffic to be initiated from the outside-in. If you are using a WiFi connection, make sure that network is also secure and requires a password to join. If it is a public WiFi network that doesn’t require a password, then the traffic coming from your device can be monitored and stolen. I don’t use hotspots. With only two gigabites a month, my phone is only used to make calls when I am out. I make purchases via the computer anyway.

9. Any passwords that you use should be strong, hard to guess ones. Or, even better, hard to guess, but easy to remember.

10. Don’t click on unfamiliar links to sites advertising sales, coupons, etc. This was one of the reasons why people, myself included, got in trouble. In my desparation to have that elusive video, I went ‘off the grid; to make the purchase and ended up not getting it. I got something with English subtitles instead from Amazon.

11. Use two-factor authentication/verification, if it is offered. I’ve learned my lesson. To protect Yoboogle from hackers, I tried this. It took three tries in order to have this safety feature removed. Because I had no hooked up printer/scanner, I had to send the form to the apartment manager to print out so I could sign it. E-signing wasn’t accepted. They had to rescan the signed form back to me so it could be sent to GoDaddy.

It has been my policy never to purchase anything via my phone. My bad habit is leaving sensitive information on the clipboard or not erasing my cyber trail after Googling something. I my phone didn’t have an alert about this, hackers would have a field day. No wonder someone from Turkey and Taiwan tried hacking into two of my email accounts a while back. After my yahoo account got hacked via the app, I stopped ordering food, like pizza using online coupons. There are some safety tips to remember when using your phone:

1. Only download apps from official app marketplaces like Google Play or Apple’s App Store.

Most of the time one can download the free version of an app. Always look for this first.

2. Be wary of applications that ask for suspicious permissions, like access to contacts, text messages, administrative features, stored passwords, or credit card info. Never allow this unless absolutely necessary.

3. Check out the background of an app before downloading. Research the developer and be cognizant of the spelling of brand names. Like fraudulent emails and phone numbers, there can be fake apps too. If there is any bad press, you will find it.

 

4. Make sure to take a deep look at each app. New developers, or developers that leverage free email services (e.g., @gmail) for their developer contact, can be enormous red flags — threat actors often use these services to produce mass amounts of malicious apps in a short period. Also, poor grammar in the description highlights the haste of development and the lack of marketing professionalism that are hallmarks of mobile malware campaigns. Check the reviews to see if there is a history of trouble.

The ironic thing about most Black Friday purchases is that the majority of shoppers used this method, according to a Today Show Saturday report. Target had the top sales of 3,200 TVs a minute their first hour. Online sales hit a record $3 billion. Amazon sold 100,000 toys in their first few hours. Also ironic is that Target, Walmart and Best Buy had the best sales on electronics like gaming consoles and kitchen items, in spite of some big ticket items and their ‘limited availability’ or ‘allowed amount’ per buyer.

My trouble with apps aren’t the shopping kind, like Amazon, Overstock, Best Buy and Retail Me Not. They usually are the type meant to support one’s smart phone. Cleanmaster was great until it was infected with malware. CM Security already had memory boosting capabilities, a way to clean junk files, shut down battery draining apps, a security scan, and call blocking capabilities. There isn’t any need for all other apps.

My first desktop computer was bought after Christmas. My first laptop was purchased about one month before the holiday shopping season officially opened. My reasoning for owning a laptop at the time was because my desktop was showing its age and slowing down. Sale ads have been always on television, in the local paper and online. I got lucky—or so I thought, because they were getting rid of the brand of computer or laptop desired by me. I got what I paid for. The motherboard was not expandable.

This is a hard lesson to learn both with laptops and desktops. Buyer beware. One should buy new or trade up, not just look at the price tag when considering an electronic purchase. Trading up meant the purchase was expandable. I went from Windows 8 to 10 because it was built into my laptop and it was free till July of this year. Compatibility is a major factor also. My television is compatible with the Clearwire TV Antenna. My brother just bought me a Blue-Ray DVD Player, but in order to work, it needed the newest in television sets because the new player did not decode on the analog sets I have. With both the old computers, the lack of space to upgrade to Windows 7 after Windows XP went out of service, forced the need for a new laptop.

The trick here is avoiding scams both online and in the store at any time, not just around the holidays. They can happen anywhere, even over the phone. While one locks their gifts in the trunk to avoid theft, avoid being taken for a fool by believing everything in print. Know what the offers are and their limitations to avoid any misunderstandings.

 

 

Sources:

15 tips to stay safe while shopping online from Black Friday to Cyber Monday

What You Should And Shouldn’t Buy On Black Friday

Black Friday weekend expected to kick off busiest holiday-shopping season ever

Fighting Back: The Scam-Buster’s Survival Guide

Black Friday 2016: Tech and movie tie-ins predicted hits

Black Friday 2016 will be upon us soon, now that the Presidential Election is over. One thing different this year is that there are a whole host of stores that decided that they are remaining closed on Thanksgiving Day.

This blogger believes that Black Friday 2016 actually started long before the target date. The ads for great Christmas buys started after Halloween. If shoppers were smart, shopping should start midsummer. My mother read me the riot act for waiting until Christmas Eve to shop for gifts. Then threaten bodily harm if my shopping done before Thanksgiving. I did my shopping via the internet after that tirade. To be honest, Black Friday 2016 and Christmas Eve were the worst times to do one’s shopping. The stores were a mad house for those rushing to get the best deals in the beginning and buy those forgotten on their list the night before Christmas.

Don’t lose heart, though. There are places that have good deals on some of the hottest selling items this season. While some stores wished to remain closed, the list of those staying open are updated daily.According to one article on AOL, one of the biggest sellers this season is to be the iPod. The Nintendo NES has been available since Veteran’s Day, One of the hottest items, Hatchables, are already hard to get. Some parents are buying these toys on ebay for four times their retail price and beyond. It looked to me that the most popular toys flying off the shelves this holiday season were either technology-based or had a movie tie-in. Remember the superhero movies last year? All the toys released for the holiday were based on the movie in theaters. Retailers were counting on this and the predictions made by execs and children earlier in the summer.

My prediction is that the Nintendo NES and the new Xbox One and Xbox One S will be hits this Christmas in addition to those toys predicted to be sold faster. Fans of Nintendo are going to have to wait until the universal theme park opens as it is still in the planning stage. It remained to be seen what toys became popular this year.

 

 

 

 

Sources

Stores Closed on Thanksgiving Day 2016

Stores Opening on Thanksgiving Day & Store Hours 2016

DealsOfAmerica.com.

10 items that will sell out fast this Christmas

Nintendo and Universal Studios announce partnership to bring games, characters to life in new theme park attractions

Hold on to those odd rare coins

Hold on to those odd rare coins found in change jars, coin purses and the like. It could bring more than just a jingle I one’s pocket. In some cases, like expensive necklaces, one might invest in a safety deposit box or a safe. Value of these coins depended on the year they were minted.

In all honesty, my coin collecting didn’t start in earnest until my first buffalo nickel was seen in my change jar. My grandmother and great uncle gave us silver dollars and fifty cent and we each got a $2 bill. The favorite thing for me to collect before the state quarters and nickels was the bicentennial quarter.

The $10 Liberty Eagle (1838-1907) If one of these is found, the person should consider themselves ‘blessed’. This coin is considered the crown jewel in anyone’s collection because gold is highly prized.mainly because these were half ounce in weight. One needed at least $1200 or more depending on whether it is circulated or not., if they wanted to buy. Most collectors or owners were squeamish about selling this type of coin because of its value. It is considered rare because FDR requested owners of these coins turn them in to be melted down to aid in the Depression. He also took the United States off the Gold Standard after that year.

The Indian Head Penny, 1859-1909, about the size of the modern half dollar and had 90% copper. These replaced the Flying edge pennies, 1856-1858, that were made with less than 90% copper and susceptible to design flaws. The value, as stated above depended on the minted year and its condition. Remember, that this is a piece of American history started before the Civil War. Uncirculated, and in mint condition, these coins increases in monetary value.

The Lincoln Steel Penny This came about as a result of WWII. Copper was used for the war effort, which, thanks to a 1942 law that prohibited the use of copper for pennies. These pennies are made with a steel center and coated with zinc. One way that distinguishes these pennies from their copper counterpart, is their white silvery appearance. Zinc is used in all pennies since 1982 as a core mineral. These pennies weigh less than copper ones too.Uncirculated pennies are worth $20-$50. Well used pennies have a $10-$20 market value.

The 1926 Buffalo Nickel is worth $2000+ but might be passed over because it is unrecognized as a valuable coin. This might be due to the fact that there isn’t any rare minerals in it, like silver or gold. The dates on the coin faded because of handling. Congress tried ad failed to change the dates on these coins, but ended up using the standard Jefferson Nickel instead. In my case, most of the coins found by me are dated 1937 or 1938. Mom took them to a dealer to find out their value before my moving. My collection is now worth $150. Everything is worth three times its market value.

Let’s look at the Kennedy Half Dollar, for instance, while it is still in production today, basically as a memorial to his death in November 1963, it’s value was worth more in 1964 because the percentage of silver is 90% The percentage of silver dropped to 40% between 1965-70. After 1971, there isn’t any silver in them, but they were still nice to have.

Ben Franklin Half Dollar, minted from 1948-1963, it contained 90% silver. My luck improved during a fundraiser at school when one of these was found in my envelope. Production of these coins ceased because of the Kennedy Memorial coin.

The Bicentenial Quarter Now worth 58 cents, depending on its appearance. Those free of faults are worth more, as high as $450.

Bicentennial Half Dollars Unfortuately, these are only worth 50 cents. Those that aren’t circulated are worth 75 cents to $1. On a second level, they are worth as much as $3.

There is always the possibility that one could find a rare lucky penny placed in one of the cities in the U.S. They are said to have a value of $1,000 each These coins are bigger than the regular pennies. They have the sponsor’s logo on one side and 100,000 cents on the other side. Be sure to read the article for more information. Unfortunately for me, finding one is difficult as I don’t live in or near any of these cities the lucky pennies are in. Like everyone else, I will hold on to my change.

Sources

Your Coin Purse May Be Hiding A Fortune

Kennedy/JFK Half Dollar

1916 – 1938 Buffalo Nickel Value (United States)1943 Lincoln Cents: The Value of Steel vs Copper Pennies

How much is a 1976 Bicentennial quarter worth?

Lucky pennies’ worth $1,000 each hidden in major cities

Ignore Vladimir Zhirinovsky rant #VoteYourConscience

Since Russia sees Vladimir Zhirinovsky as  a flamboyant veteran lawmaker known for his fiery rhetoric, told Reuters in an interview that Trump was the only person able to de-escalate dangerous tensions between Moscow and Washington. He also likens himself to the outspoken Republican presidential candidate. Yeah, right! The United States didn’t deal with war threats from people that are off center, putting it mildly.

Did anyone really think this nut is able to raise an army and march against America if Donald Trump is elected next month? World War III was apt to start because of Donald Trump’s wish to bomb the ‘heck’ out of ISIS.With his inexperience at running a country, my thought is that he would be the first to use weapons of mass destruction Approval for all this had to be sanctioned by Congress first, just like it would be if Hilary Clinton became president. They would both be thoroughly watched, just like Obama is now.

Let’s look at why there are tensions between the U.S. and Russia, shall we? On October 3, the State Department cut ties with their ally because of their presence in the Syrian city, Aleppo. This is only the tip of the iceberg. Russia has continually ignored its own responsibilities in the region, particularly humanitarian law. Remember Putin’s dangerous game and how bad the economy in his country is? It’s important for him to keep the trade routes open in the Ukraine and establish a presence in Syria to control the oil and gas revenues.

Vladiimir Zhirinovsky mirrors Trump with his belligerent attitude towards southern Russia, which has Muslims there. He wanted to use a barbed wired fence to block them out. Trump wanted a wall built to keep out illegal aliens coming from Mexico and ban Muslims from coming to America. Don’t forget that his mission is to shock the public with his speeches.While some saw it as a way to gain attention, He follows Kremlin rules.  Everyone wanted at least five minutes of fame. He got his.

It bothers the current administration that Putin, while in his pledge to fight ISIS, he did things in support of the Assad regime. At every turn, Putin has instigated the problem in both Syria and the Ukraine. By sending weapons to Syria, ISIS somehow gets hold of them through its connections in Iran.  This in turn ruffles the feathers of the U.S. In their quest to limit the nuclear deal in the house and Senate. Returning to the old way of doing things was not feasible. Yet Putin wants to replace the U.S. in the Middle East as the dominant superpower.

Clinton has accused Trump of being too cozy with Putin and questioned his business interests in Russia. His last campaign manager, Paul Manaford, actually had ties to the Russian president. To me, this sounded like a conflict of interest, now that Trump is a presidential candidate. I don’t blame the State Department for cutting ties with Russia. They want to take the part of the Ukraine that supported the EU as well as other states for themselves. That was far from the Alliance we had in World War 1.

It didn’t look lile anyone was paying attention to the outspoken Zhirinovsky, but just in case, everyone should #VoteYourConscience on November 8 and ignore this war threat.

Further Reading

  1. Putin ally tells Americans: vote Trump or face nuclear war October 12, 2016
  2. The State Department just cut off its ‘bilateral channels with Russia’ over Syria October 3, 2016
  3. Putin’s Middle East Plan: Control of the oil flow on October 8, 2015
  4. Obama and Putin: Strategies still differ in Syria and the Ukraine on September 29, 2015

Trump’s audio sex tape controversy: GOP’s next steps

Well, there is no mistake this time, Trump’s audio sex tape controversy confirmed the stance of Donald Trump on women In spite of his public apology  over the sex tape and the Vice Presidential Debate won last week, most Republican supporters are withdrawing their support of Donald Trump, except for Jon Voight and a few church pastors.  Mike Pence is keeping his distance from it all. Of course, the media crawled all over this vulgar language on Trump’s audio sex tape, recorded in 2005. A lot of Republicans ask that he withdraw, others were standing firmly behind him.

This blogger thinks that the church and its pastors should keep out of politics. Remember the Separation of Church and State or the high-wall theory? It’s in the constitution, for Pete’s sake! I am ashamed of Pastor Jefferess who has a past of his own locally. I wonder if they know the ‘stink’ he raised over Heather Has Two Mommies and Daddy’s Roommate when he tried getting the local public library to remove the books from its shelves? They are now behind the counter and checked out on demand. Most of the local churches didn’t rally around him as he thought they would. Most of them wouldn’t comment. All that trouble to stir the pot and he never returned the books. Someone told me that he left a local church in the Dallas area because of the lure of more money. If this was a church or a school library, what’s allowed and not can be made there. No pastor should tell a public library through any city council action what books went on their shelves.

I don’t see how Pastor Robert Jefress can support Donald Trump’s candidacy because of his past. His skeletons are bursting out of the closet. The only ‘American’ woman he married was Marla Maples. All the rest were European. One of them admitted to feeling ‘violated‘ during sex. Sounds criminal to me, Ivana. Yet he admitted to not having a problem ‘banging‘ 24 year olds. Did Jeffress even listen to the tape made in 2005? His language trashy enough and undoubtedly came from the gutter.Even President Obama found the language on the tape ‘unnerving‘ This blogger agreed that real men didn’t engage in lewd talk about women and record it. Trump did not represent the ‘highest moral fiber’ he tried to project in the Republican party.

He did not support or respect women who held higher job positions, specifically Megyn Kelly and the disabled reporter. He disrespected Lester Holt during the first debate. There is fall out because of what he said to Hilary Clinton being in jail over the scandal during her time as Secretary of State. Now, the bigger problems are the next action the Republican party takes regarding the Trump sex tapes and what punishment the media faces for trying to rig the polls to help Hilary Clintom? The article is almost a month old. The numbers don’t lie with the other polls, which were unscientific. It’s worse for Billy Bush, remains suspended from the Today Show for his part in the above Trump scandal. Apparently, Vuture reported today that the co host, formerly of Inside Edition, is not to return to the morning show.

My points are that there are problems with both candidates. Neither should petition for sainthood just yet. Hilary did not file for divorce after Jennifer Flowers or Monica Lewinski. There weren’t ay audio tapes with him discussing women in graphic detail, like Trump has. It did say that Marla Maples carried on a six year affair with Donald Trump before he married her. This marriage lasted six years and produced a daughter, named Tiffany.

Let’s hope that the GOP next steps are well thought out.

Can OPEC members reach an oil reduction agreement?

Will the faint rise in OPEC’s oil prices improve the United States economy, or will it continue to decline as usual? This bothered me because the glut in oil production ruined the price of oil in the United States in 2008. The answer lay in whether the nations of OPEC: Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, were able to reach an agreement on November 30 in Geneva as to how much to reduce their oil output.

Right now, the biggest issue among the OPEC nations is how much each member is to reduce oil production. The catalyst being Iran, who did not want to reduce the number of barrels of oil it produced. This also went against the rules Saudi Arabia followed. Being its biggest producer, they had the idea that by over production, they were able to drive other American producers, who produced shale oil, oil from rock sediment and clay, out of business.

Saudi Arabia and Russia relied on oil to improve their economies. Of late, they all suffered. Saudi Arabia had to cut spending on public programs in its economy to absorb the loss of low output and save their financial reserves. Iran is still suffering from the imposed sanctions of 30 years ago. They were one of the last holdouts to the November 30 agreement. Other countries, like Lybia and Nigeria were also turning to oil for economic growth after years of infighting. Apparently, Russia might have failed in trying to open up an oil and gas pipeline through the Ukraine into Syria, where it had a base to fight ISIS. If Vladamir Putin had what he needed, he wouldn’t have to sit at the OPEC bargaining table.

Even though this OPEC oil reduction was meant to hold up the price of oil, it might cause further ruffled fir among the members if the United States continued shale oil drilling. That’s why this price war was created. A cut in production could boost oil prices through this untraditional method of drilling for oil and steady the market.

OPEC has so far only reached a preliminary agreement to strike a deal to cut production by 200,000 to 700,000 barrels a day, from 33.2 million barrels. The breakdown of which countries will trim output is expected to be worked out by its November meeting. But BofA points out that Saudi Arabia normally cuts back at this time of year. the Saudis produced about 10.6 million barrels a day last month.

“After all, Saudi has cut production seasonally by 320,000 (barrels per day) every year between July and January. The move in Algiers may reflect the impending fiscal pressures, as many OPEC government budgets are starved for cash. Also, it is critical to remember that pegged currency regimes across many oil producers have put a huge strain on foreign exchange reserves in key OPEC members,” the BofA analysts wrote.

As for the U.S., domestic oil production has been around 8.5 million barrels a day recently, down by about 1.1 million barrels a day from the all-time high in the spring of 2015. In November 2014, OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, gave up on production levels and opted for a new strategy of letting the market determine oil prices. Producers, from the U.S. to Russia and Saudi Arabia, kept pumping and created a giant oil glut. Oil plunged, and ultimately hit a bottom in February 2016 at just about $26 per barrel.

Saudi Arabia’s aim went beyond revamping their economy. They also wanted less dependent on oil in its Vision 2030, where two-thirds of the jobs existed in the public sector. Right now, though, their role was to steady the fledgling oil market. Let’s hope they can.