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When to trade bitcoin? When Saturn crosses Mercury, of course

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LONDON: Bitcoin seems so flighty, some might argue you may as well consult a crystal ball, read the runes or stare at the stars to divine the direction of the capricious cryptocurrency.
Enter Maren Altman, bitcoin investor and astrologer.
The New Yorker has been following the movements of celestial objects to predict bitcoin price fluctuations since last summer. And while many people might mock her methods, she has built up a 1 million-strong social-media following on TikTok.
Last week, the 22-year-old told her followers to watch for a price correction on January 11.
Why? Saturn was going to cross Mercury.
Lo and behold, bitcoin fell as much as 21% on that day, before recovering most of its losses, slamming the brakes on a meteoric rally that saw it double from early December to a record $42,000 last week.
“I am never going to tell someone to buy this or that,” said Altman. “I can predict price trajectories but do not claim to be a financial adviser aware of someone’s specific circumstances, and therefore never give buy or sell advice.”
For the uninitiated, Mercury represents bitcoin’s price data and Saturn is a restricting indicator.
While many people might give Altman’s analysis as much credence as any fortune-telling, she is among a growing cohort of young TikTok influencers who began posting content on cryptocurrencies as prices rallied in 2020.
They’re jumping on the bandwagon for bitcoin, whose mysterious movements even baffle many financial analysts, who say cryptocurrencies lack the fundamental data points used to assess traditional assets.
“I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to bitcoin projections,” said Craig Erlam, an analyst at forex broker OANDA. “I think it’s just a selection of people clutching at straws, trying to justify any reasons to be bullish.”
Bitcoin has jumped over five-fold since the start of 2020, prompting investment banks to predict more future gains. Citigroup said bitcoin could hit $318,000, while JPMorgan Chase & Co tipped it to reach $146,000.
So what do the stars have in store for the world’s favourite cryptocurrency?
“I see some favourable indicators at the end of the month and especially February and early March,” said Altman, whose readings of bitcoin’s astrology charts are based on the date for the coin’s genesis block, the equivalent of its birthday.
“However getting into mid-March, I see a big correction. Mid-April is also really less optimistic. May is bullish.”

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Alphabet's balloon project, providing cell service, closing down

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OAKLAND: Google parent Alphabet Inc is shutting down its internet balloon business, Loon, which aimed to provide a less expensive alternative to cell towers, saying on Thursday that “the road to commercial viability has proven much longer and riskier than hoped.”
Founded in 2011, Loon aimed to bring connectivity to areas of the world where building cell towers is too expensive or treacherous by using balloons the length of tennis courts to float solar-powered networking gear high above the Earth. But the wireless carriers that Loon saw as buyers of its technology have questioned its technical and political viability.
“While we’ve found a number of willing partners along the way, we haven’t found a way to get the costs low enough to build a long-term, sustainable business,” Loon chief executive Alastair Westgarth said in a blog post.
Alphabet executive Astro Teller said in a separate blog post that despite Loon’s “groundbreaking technical achievements” over the past nine years, “the road to commercial viability has proven much longer and riskier than hoped.”
Westgarth said Loon’s legacy would include advancing helium balloons to last hundreds of days in the sky and developing communications equipment that could deliver cell coverage across an area 200 times bigger than an average tower can.
But among challenges were that a carrier would need several balloons at once, and each balloon cost tens of thousands of dollars and lasted only about five months.
Loon launched a pilot project in Kenya in 2020, years behind schedule after regulatory delays. Its partner, Telkom Kenya, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The technology previously proved successful in short projects to provide cell coverage in Peru and Puerto Rico when cell towers were downed by natural disasters. The company had pitched countries and international organizations on contracting with Loon to fly in during future emergencies, but gained little traction.
Loon said it may share its technology with carriers, governments or nonprofit groups aiming to bring high-speed internet to the last few places in the world.
The company employed 200 people as of 2019. It drew a $125 million investment that year from SoftBank’s HAPSMobile, which is working on floating cell equipment with drones.
HAPSMobile declined to comment on the financial effect of Loon’s shutdown but said it would “continue to work toward our goal of developing a commercial business.”
Separately, companies backed by billionaire entrepreneurs, such as Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, continue to look at offering internet connections using satellites in near-Earth orbit.
Alphabet previously shuttered what it calls “other bets,” or entities separate to Google, such as one working on power-generating kites. Alphabet has pressed some “bets” to raise funding from other investors or become self-sustaining. Loon struggled to attract investment.
The company maintains at least one “bet” tackling the skies – Wing, which is aiming to commercialize goods delivery by drone.
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Australian govt PR website given 'news' status by Google, Facebook

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SYDNEY: Google and Facebook Inc have granted an Australian local government news provider status, drawing questions about the internet giants’ efforts to curate news media.
Bundaberg Council, a regional government, told Reuters a website it runs received classification as a Google “news source”, making it the country’s first local government with that accreditation.
That means a council-funded website containing only public relations content gets priority in Google News searches about the agriculture hub of 100,000 people, accompanied by a “news source” tag. Bundaberg also has the country’s only confirmed council-run Facebook page tagged as a “News & Media Website”.
The designation shows the gaps left in the country’s traditional news market as smaller publications wither and disappear. Bundaberg Council’s news website says it does not publish court and crime reports, politics, “investigative journalism” or “negative stories”.
“It’s just another example of the way these tech giants are allowed to operate outside any accountability framework at all,” said Denis Muller, an Honorary Fellow at University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism. “If they want to classify a council PR website as a news website, well, they can, and there’s nothing stopping them.”
Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook are fighting an Australian federal government plan to make them pay media outlets for original content that appears on their platforms, telling a Senate inquiry that the new rules may lead them to cancel some core services in the country.
A Google representative did not respond to a separate Reuters request for comment on Friday.
In a submission to the inquiry, Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey said the new rules would “subsidise failed business models” and may have “unintended consequences, including … damage to new media entrants and innovative publishing models such as Bundaberg Now”.
Bundaberg Council’s executive officer of communications, Michael Gorey, told Reuters commercial media such as state broadcaster the Australian Broadcasting Corp still provided news in the region “albeit with less coverage than several years ago”.
“Commercial media have a strong focus on news such as crime, tragedies and local politics which Bundaberg Now chooses not to report,” he said in an email. “Bundaberg Now seeks to fill a gap in the media market with community news, local business and events. We see no evidence of market failure in Bundaberg to warrant federal government intervention”.
The City of Onkaparinga, in the country’s south near Adelaide, started news website Onkaparinga Now in 2018. A representative said the council has not applied for official news provider status with Google or Facebook.
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