Harvesting the “Blood” of America’s Poor . . .

Harvesting the “Blood” of America’s Poora plasma market of dehumanization
No lack of human “victims” willing to be treated like animals in farms, in exchange for a few dollars. It was an assembly line to extract liquid gold from human mines.
“It’s absolutely deplorable to leverage literal blood money from people who have so few options.”
Donors are publicly weighed to make sure they are heavy enough. Obese people are worth more to the bloodthirsty companies as they can safely extract more plasma from them each session (while paying out the same compensation).

IN AMERICA’S wretched economy, where around 130 million Americans admit an inability to pay for basic needs like food, housing or healthcare, buying and selling blood is of the few booming industries America has left.One study found that the majority of donors in Cleveland generate more than a third of their income from “donating” blood. Almost half of America is broke, and 58 percent of the country is living paycheck to paycheck, with savings of less than $1000. 37 million Americans go to bed hungry, including one-sixth of New Yorkers and almost half of South Bronx residents.And over half a million sleep on the streets on any given night, with many millions more in vehicles or relying on friends or family. It is in this context that millions in the red have turned to selling blood to make ends meet. In a very real sense then, these corporations are harvesting the blood of the poor, literally sucking the life out of them.Donated blood is crucial in treating medical conditions such as anemia and cancer and is commonly required to perform surgeries.

The majority of the plasma goes to wealthy European countries; Germany, for example, buys 15 percent of all U.S. blood exports. China and Japan are also key customers

blood plamsa poor feature photo

AMERICAN DYSTOPIA

Harvesting the Blood of America’s Poor: The Latest Stage of Capitalism

Blood has become big business in the United States and there is no shortage of corporations ready to exploit America’s most vulnerable populations in order to get a piece of the pie.

by Alan Macleod

December 03rd, 2019

By Alan Macleod 

For much of the world, donating blood is purely an act of solidarity; a civic duty that the healthy perform to aid others in need. The idea of being paid for such an action would be considered bizarre. But in the United States, it is big business. Indeed, in today’s wretched economy, where around 130 million Americans admit an inability to pay for basic needs like food, housing or healthcare, buying and selling blood is of the few booming industries America has left. 

The number of collection centers in the United States has more than doubled since 2005 and blood now makes up well over 2 percent of total U.S. exports by value. To put that in perspective, Americans’ blood is now worth more than all exported corn or soy products that cover vast areas of the country’s heartland. The U.S. supplies fully 70 percent of the world’s plasma, mainly because most other countries have banned the practice on ethical and medical grounds. Exports increased by over 13 percent,to $28.6 billion, between 2016 and 2017, and the plasma market is projected to “grow radiantly,”according to one industry report. The majoritygoes to wealthy European countries; Germany, for example, buys 15 percent of all U.S. blood exports. China and Japan are also key customers.

It is primarily the plasma– a golden liquid that transports proteins and red and white blood cells around the body– that makes it so sought after. Donated blood is crucial in treating medical conditions such as anemia and cancer and is commonly required to perform surgeries. Pregnant women also frequently need transfusions to treat blood loss during childbirth. Like all maturing industries, a few enormous bloodthirsty companies, such as Grifols and CSL, have come to dominate the American market.

But in order to generate such enormous profits, these vampiric corporations consciously target the poorest and most desperate Americans. One study found that the majority of donors in Cleveland generate more than a third of their income from “donating” blood. The money they receive, notes Professor Kathryn Edin of Princeton University, is literally “the lifeblood of the $2 a day poor.” Professor H. Luke Schaefer of the University of Michigan, Edin’s co-author of $2 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, told MintPress News:

The massive increase in blood plasma sales is a result of an inadequate and in many places non-existent cash safety net, combined with an unstable labor market. Our experience is people need the money, that’s the primary reason people show up at plasma centers.”

Almost half of America is broke, and 58 percent of the country is living paycheck to paycheck, with savings of less than $1000. 37 million Americans go to bed hungry, including one-sixthof New Yorkers and almost half of South Bronx residents. And over half a million sleep on the streets on any given night, with many millions more in vehicles or relying on friends or family. It is in this context that millions in the red have turned to selling blood to make ends meet. In a very real sense then, these corporations are harvesting the blood of the poor, literally sucking the life out of them.

I see we’ve moved on to the “harvesting the blood of the poor” stage of late capitalism

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MintPress News spoke to a number of Americans who consistently donated plasma. Some of them did not want to be fully identified. But none were under any illusions about the system and how they were being exploited.

“The centers are never in a good part of town, always somewhere they can get a never ending supply of poor people desperate for that hundred bucks a week,” noted Andrew Watkins, who sold his blood in Pittsburgh, PA for around 18 months.

 The people who show up are a mix of disabled, working poor, homeless, single parents, and college students. With the exception of the college students who are looking for booze money, this is probably the easiest and most reliable income they have. Your job may fire you at any time when you’re on this level of society, but you always have blood. And selling your blood doesn’t count as a job or income when it comes to determining disability benefits, food stamps, or unemployment eligibility so it’s a source of money for the people who have absolutely nothing else.”

Rachel from Wisconsin, who donated hundreds of times over a seven-year period, also commented on the obvious socio-economic makeup of donors.

We were poor, all of us in there you could easily tell that we were on the lower ends of the income bracket. They incentivize you with bonuses and the more you donate in a month the more you’ll get paid, recruiting friends bonuses, holiday bonuses, etc.”

Keita Currier from Washington, D.C., noted how she and her husband had little choice but to continue visiting clinics in Maryland for years but resented their payment methods.

 They’re predatory, the price set for your plasma is based on a whim. For example, one place I donated the first five times you get $75, then you get 20, 20, 30, 50, 25. It’s random, it doesn’t matter, but they know you are desperate and if you don’t do your $30 donation you won’t get your 50 next time. Apparently, the plasma is worth something in the hundreds, so it is not surprising that you’re screwed over.”

Zombifying America’s poor

Respondents all agreed that they were indeed being exploited, but in more ways than one. Desperate Americans are allowed to donate twice per week (104 times per year). But losing that much plasma could have serious health consequences, most of which have not been studied Professor Schaefer warns, stressing that more research is necessary. Around 70 percent of donors experience health complications. Donors have a lower protein count in their blood, putting them at greater risk of infections and liver and kidney disorders. Many regulars suffer from near-permanent fatigue and are borderline anemic. All this for an average of $30 per visit. Rachel described the terrible Catch-22 many of the working poor find themselves in:

 I got turned away twice – once for being too dehydrated and once for being anemic. Being poor created a shitty paradox where I couldn’t eat, and because I couldn’t eat my iron levels weren’t high enough to allow me to donate. That was a week of a pay cut, money I desperately needed for rent and bills and meds.”

A common method of cheating in endurance sports is to inject extra blood into your system before a race, giving you a huge performance boost. But extracting it has the opposite effect, making you sluggish and tired for days. Thus, this debilitating practice is zombifying America’s poor.

Plasma donation

A Maryland plasma center is shown in a promotional image for CSL Plasma, one of the largest corporations dominating the market

The process of giving blood is not a pleasurable one. Currier noted that after constantly donating, “the bruising gets terrible…Sometimes they can’t find the vain ‘n’ shit or they insert it wrong and they have to adjust the needle underneath your skin” she said, claiming that just thinking about it freaks her out, and revealed that her husband had to temporarily stop donating as his bosses thought he was on heroin due to the track marks on his arms.

Watkins agreed. “You could always tell how long someone had been doing the job by that needle,” he recalls. “Once they’d been there a year or so, they’d have stabbed literally thousands of people and could just tap your elbow once and slide the needle into the vein with no problems. New guys would miss the vein, punch through the vein, or try to hunt for it with the needle tip, which would leave terrible bruises.”

There is also little thought for the comfort of the patients. As Watkins explained, the thermostats are always turned down to around 50-60ºF for the plasma’s sake. Once the amber-colored plasma has been extracted, your cooled blood is re-injected in a painful process that feels as if ice is being inserted into the body. “Combined with the already cold air temperatures, this was maddening,” he notes.

Thus, America’s zombie poor are left almost permanently mentally drained like heroin addicts, and with similarly bruised and punctured arms, except they are being paid for the inconvenience. But perhaps the worst thing about the experience, according to those interviewed, is the dehumanization of the process. 

Donors are publicly weighed to make sure they are heavy enough. Obese people are worth more to the bloodthirsty companies as they can safely extract more plasma from them each session (while paying out the same compensation). “They definitely turn you into a product in a very literal sense,” Watkins says; “It’s deeply exploitative and a symptom of just how far gone capitalism is.”

Many centers are enormous, with multiple rows of dozens of machines working in an attempt to appease the insatiable appetite of the vampiric corporation. And there is, according to Watkins, no lack of human “victims” willing to be treated like animals in battery farms, in exchange for a few dollars: “It was an assembly line to extract liquid gold from human mines,” he notes. 

Currier also highlighted the treatment of the staff and the cost-cutting measures of clinics in Maryland she visited would enact:

 Usually the places are hugely understaffed which means they frequently don’t change gloves, the people are overworked, and at the minimum you’re staying there for 2-3 hours which means you have to plan a whole day around this shit only to get 20 bucks in your pocket to make it through the next few days. It’s depressing, disheartening and frankly embarrassing to have to hustle like this. I feel like shit after I donate.”

Exploitation reaches new levels

But the exploitation of humans has reached new levels in clinics on the U.S.-Mexico border. Every week, thousands of Mexicans enter the U.S. on temporary visas to sell their blood to for-profit pharmaceutical corporations. The practice is banned on health grounds in Mexico but is completely legal north of the border. According to ProPublica, there are at least 43 blood donation centers along the border that prey primarily on Mexican nationals in a legally ambiguous practice.

According to a Swiss documentary on the subject, there are precious few checks on the cleanliness of the blood these companies accept, with some donors interviewed admitting they were drug addicts. But all is sacrificed in the pursuit of dazzling profits, something donors were well aware of. Rachel from Wisconsin admitted,

 I did it for the money, I think we all do it for the money, but it’s not really something you out and out say because there’s a veneer of “helping the sick” slathered over it. But I caught glimpses of what kind of industry it was on occasion through innocuous questioning. The amount of plasma drawn from one person per donation was worth upwards of $600, I never really got a clear answer on that.

Andrew from Pennsylvania agreed, noting wryly,

 I know my plasma was worth thousands of dollars per donation [to others], because I’ve seen what a hospital in my city charged a hemophiliac for platelets, so the pittance that they pay is ridiculous, but there is only one buyer making offers at the human level. If you’re poor and out of other options, you’ll take $40 however you can get it. Any port in a storm.”

Michael, a social worker from Georgia who sold his blood for extra cash, was deeply scornful of the entire situation. “I’ve known quite a number of people who rely on money made by selling plasma. A lot of times it’s to cover childcare or prescriptions or something along those lines,” he said. “It’s absolutely deplorable to leverage literal blood money from people who have so few options.”

Blood donation sign

A sign encouraging students to sell blood to fund their education. Twitter | @tjulrich

Big pharma is particularly interested in the blood of the young. One billboard campaign from Grifols intentionally targeted working-class students. “Need books? No worries. Donate Plasma” reads the headline. Teenager blood is in high demand in, of all places, Silicon Valley, where anti-aging technologies are the latest trend. One company, Ambrosia, charges $8,000 per treatment to aging tech executives, infusing them with the blood of the young, turning these individuals into bloodsuckers in more ways than one. Despite the fact that there is no clinical evidence that the practice has any beneficial effects, business is booming. One committed customer is PayPal co-founder turned Trump surrogate Peter Thiel, who is reportedly spending vast sums of money on funding anti-aging startups. Thiel claims that we have been conned by “the ideology of the inevitability of the death of every individual” and believes that his own immortality may be just around the corner, a notion that has deeply concerned academics and commentators alike.

The new and booming blood market is the perfect embodiment of the late capitalist dystopia modern America has become. The dehumanizing process of harvesting the blood of the poor to fund the quixotic immortality dreams of the super-wealthy turns the former into walking, living zombies and the latter into vampires, feasting on the blood of the young; a true American horror story worthy of Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft. As Rachel from Wisconsin said:

It really is an industry where ‘squeezing blood from stones’ is about as literal as you can get.”

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Bilderberg Group Meeting 2014 – Speech of William van Duyn

See the speech of William van Duyn from Bilderberg Group Meeting 2014, note the members of the steering committee (Christine Lagarde, William van Duyn) and Hillary Clinton having breakfast with William van Duyn on June 2, 2014 (a real meddling in the US-Presidential election 2016): William van Duyn was at Bilderberg Meeting 2019 together with Mike Pompeo and met there with EU´s Ursula von der Leyen (real meddling in EU elections by the Illuminati/William van Duyn):https://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sociopolitica/esp_sociopol_bilderberg_54.htm

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Fossil Vehicle Sales In Global Free fall – Kiss Your Gas Good Bye!

Fossil Vehicle Sales In Global Free-fallKiss Your Gas Good Bye!Open the link Below to read the comments by others
And Keep in Mind Our Petroleum NEVER Came from Dead 
Dinosaurs – 
You Tube Video “Origins of Oil” Col Fletcher Prouty
https://youtu.be/ifwYUdP-pFw
https://cleantechnica.com/2020/01/18/fossil-vehicle-sales-in-global-freefall-down-4-7-in-2019-electric-vehicle-sales-continue-to-grow/

Fossil Vehicle Sales In Global Freefall — Down 4.7% In 2019! Electric Vehicle Sales Continue To Grow — CleanTechnica Report

January 18th, 2020 by Dr. Maximilian Holland 


The world’s fossil fuel vehicle sales have continued to freefall in 2019, dropping by around 4.35 million, or some 4.7%, compared to 2018, accelerating a now inexorable trend. Global electric vehicle sales meanwhile have continued to rise, with 2019 EV market share reaching 4.7% in China and 3.8% in Europe. (Note that “electric vehicles” in this report concerns both fully electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.)

Peugeot e-208 Press Image

Peugeot e-208. Image courtesy Peugeot

LMC automotive has released its 2019 global auto sales figures this past week, with an overall drop from 2018’s 94.416 million to 90.266 million. The gross figures don’t detail the fossil fuel vehicle vs. EV sales split, but regional EV data (or firm estimates) are now in place for the 3 largest markets (China, Europe, and the US), which together make up almost two-thirds of global auto sales.

Let’s grasp the overall picture via the combined total of combustion vehicle sales and EV sales in these 3 major markets:

China

The toughest market for combustion vehicles in 2019 was China, with a drop in sales of 8.4% compared to 2018. We looked in some detail at the China figures last week. Here’s an overview:

Apart from the noticeable combustion vehicle drop, we can see that EV sales were also trimmed back slightly in 2019 due to major changes to the NEV incentive policy from July. These changes have now settled, and the EV market will be back to growth in 2020. Importantly, despite this trimming, EV market share actually increased from 4.5% to 4.7% due to the dramatic decline in combustion vehicle sales.

With further fossil fuel vehicle drops forecast for 2020, EV market share in China will almost certainly cross the 5% mark this year, perhaps crossing 6% if the local EV market quickly gets back to growth.

Europe

In Europe (EU + EFTA), there’s a different mix of market dynamics at play. 2019 fossil fuel vehicle sales actually increased by a tiny 0.059% (less than one tenth of one percent), largely from a Q4 pull forward (fire sale?) due to the tough CO2 emissions regulations that have now come into effect (2020 onwards). EV sales on the other hand grew strongly, from 407,000 to an estimated 579,000 (provisional figures from EV Volumes, and via José Pontes’ country reports). Here’s the overview:

The ~172,000 increase in EV sales marks a strong 43% growth over 2018, even before the new regulations push things along further in 2020. In market share terms, EVs grew from 2.67% to 3.8%. I’m expecting close to 1 million EV sales in Europe this year, and a steep decline in fossil vehicle sales (to around 14.5 million or less), giving EVs over 6% market share. (Editor’s note: We have a bit of a China vs. Europe EV market share competition now! That’s fun.)

US Market

The 2019 US picture is more mixed. Fossil vehicle sales dropped by 180,000 units, a fall of 1.1%. EV sales meanwhile dropped by 32,000, a fall of 8.9% (data estimates from our friends over at InsideEVs). Here’s the graph:

The US EV market share thus fell from 2.1% to 1.9%. A major cause of lower EV sales in the US is weak US availability of compelling affordable EV offerings (e.g., the Hyundai Kona EV and Kia e-Niro), and very few new EV models in more affordable segments in 2019. In contrast, Europe gets many more electric choices and deliveries of hot models are reportedly prioritized in Europe. Also complicating things is that Tesla had not started shipping the Model 3 abroad in 2018, maximizing US deliveries before a big drop in the US tax credit for Tesla buyers. The Model 3’s arrival in Europe (and China) in 2019 gave those markets a boost that the US market benefited from earlier, in 2018.

The “new” Nissan LEAF 62 kWh is mostly just a larger battery pack (still with no active cooling) and is overshadowed in value by the Tesla Model 3. The updated Hyundai Ioniq EV (38 kWh), on sale for months already in other regions, has still not made it to US shores. Few other affordable new models were available. The MG ZS EV, for example, which went straight into the #5 position in the Netherlands in December, isn’t available in the US, neither is the Renault Zoe, one of Europe’s most popular EVs. More affordable Volkswagen Group triplets also aren’t available in the US. The untimely retirement of the much-loved Chevy Volt, long one of the most popular EVs in the US, also effectively trimmed the market by around 13,400 vehicles.

In short, outside of Tesla, there’s a lack of diverse up-to-date EV offerings in the US, and a woeful lack of available supply for those that are most compelling. Finally, there’s also the waiting-for-Model-Y Osborne effect, which put a damper on 2019 US EV sales (and not just EVs). The Model Y will result in US sales volumes returning to strong growth in 2020.

Tesla Model Y. Image courtesy Tesla

Rest of the World

We’ll have to wait a while longer to learn the fully granular 2019 EV results from other markets, but we know that Canada, Japan, and South Korea will have totaled a little over 130,000 EV sales, and Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand around 25,000 more. Close to 2.3 million global EV sales will be the 2019 final tally, up from around 2.1 million in 2018. Given the 4.15 million drop in global auto sales, we can conclude that fossil fuel vehicle sales were down by around 4.35 million in 2019 compared to 2018.

Overall, the 2019 global EV market share was 2.5%, an increase from the 2.2% market share of 2018. The main growth driver was Europe, whilst we saw China — though still leading in volume and EV market share — pause to refresh its incentives landscape.

All auto market analysts continue to predict falling global auto volumes in 2020, especially in China, Europe, and the US. Conversely, EV sales will continue to grow (Tesla alone may grow by around 300,000 units this year), and we can expect global EV market share to climb to at least 3% in 2020, secured mostly by European regulations pushing back on pollution and emissions. We could potentially see up to ~3.5% global market share in 2020, depending on how quickly China and the US get back to volume growth. Much depends on just how precipitously fossil fuel vehicle sales continue to fall. Either way, it’s a certainty that fossil fuel vehicles will continue to move towards their end game and will fall again in 2020.
 

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Tags: auto industryauto salesChinaChina EV Market ShareChina EV salesDeath of the combustion engineEnd of oilEuropeEurope EV salesEuropean EV Marketev revolutionEV salesfossil fuel vehicle salesOsborne effectTeslaTesla Model 3Tesla Model YUSUS EV sales

About the Author

Dr. Maximilian Holland Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking about social and environmental justice, sustainability and the human condition. He has lived and worked in Europe and Asia, and is currently based in Barcelona. Follow Max on twitter @Dr_Maximilian and at MaximilianHolland.com, or contact him via LinkedIn.

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So. Africa – World Bank/Grim Forecast and Utility – Deploying Prepaid Meters.

So. Africa – World Bank/Grim Forecast and Utility – Deploying Prepaid Meters.So. Africa – Eskom to continue with power cuts in Soweto | eNCA

Installing prepaid meters allow customer to consume what they 
can afford.  Also, asking landlords to collect utility costs from tenants.

https://www.enca.com/news/eskom-continue-power-cuts-soweto
December 24, 2019

Eskom to continue with power cuts in Soweto

JOHANNESBURG – Eskom said it will continue to cut power supplies to residents who do not pay their electricity bills.

Residents of Soweto collectively owe the power utility a total of R18.2-billion, which is reportedly almost half of the total local municipal debt owed to the electricity utility. 

‘Unfortunately, we cannot go on … where we just watch where the residents are just consuming without us collecting the revenue and hence that is why we needed to implement our credit management strategies,” said Eskom’s Client Service Senior Manager Daphne Mokwena.

READ: Eskom refuses to restore power to areas over debt owed

Mokwena said those who don’t pay will be disconnected. 

Eskom has also begun converting conventional meters to prepaid meters, allowing residents to manage their electricity use.

“We are saying that if customers are on prepaid then you can actually manage what you are consuming, as per your affordability but unfortunately most customers in Soweto are resisting this”, added Mokwena.

Mokwena says some residents continue to tamper with meters and buy electricity from ‘ghost vendors’. 
__________________________________________________________________

https://www.enca.com/business/world-bank-cuts-sas-growth-forecast
January 9, 2020

World Bank cuts SA’s growth forecast

JOHANNESBURG – The outlook for South Africa’s economy is not about to improve, according to the World Bank.

In its latest Global Economic Prospects report, the World Bank cut its economic growth forecast for South Africa to below 1 percent for 2020 and its all thanks to Eskom.

READ: Stage 2 load-shedding continues into Friday

The World Bank now expects the economy to grow by a mere 0.9 percent this year.

This comes as Eskom has announced that Stage 2 load-shedding will continue until Friday morning.

READ: Massive debt wave could crash on developing countries, World Bank warns

The power utility says it lost additional generating capacity overnight.

Eskom’s emergency reserves are also insufficient to meet the demand for electricity during the day.
_______________________________________
https://www.enca.com/business/massive-debt-wave-could-crash-developing-countries-world-bank-warns

December 20, 2019

Massive debt wave could crash on developing countries, World Bank warns

File: The World Bank now expects the economy to grow by a mere 0.9 percent this year.

WASHINGTON – A wave of debt in emerging and developing nations has grown faster and larger than in any period of the last five decades and could end with another crisis, the World Bank warned.

And if the wave breaks, it could be more damaging since it would engulf private companies in addition to governments, at a time when economic growth is sluggish, according to a new report that covers four debt surges from 1970-2018.

“The size, speed and breadth of the latest debt wave should concern us all,” World Bank President David Malpass said in a statement.

“Clearly, it’s time for course corrections,” he added.

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund have been sounding the warning about growing global debt for years, but the latest report is even more stark and turned up the volume on its calls for governments to take steps to prevent a debt crisis.

IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva on Thursday said developing nations in Africa especially need to strike the right balance between financing development and a manageable debt level.

– Surging to $188-trillion –

The IMF reported that total global debt rose to $188-trillion at the end of 2018, equivalent to nearly 230 percent of the world’s economy.

The World Bank report highlights the “striking” debt surge in emerging and developing economies, which is the “largest, fastest and most broad-based in EMDEs in the past 50 years.”

After declining during the 2008 global financial crisis, amid very low borrowing costs in just eight years since 2010, debt in these countries climbed to an all-time high of roughly 170 percent of GDP or about $55-trillion. 

Much of the growth was incurred by China (equivalent to more than $20-trillion), but Beijing also has become a large lender for low-income countries.

The report warns that the current debt wave “could follow the historical pattern and culminate in financial crises in these economies,” especially if interest rates spike or if there is a sudden global shock.

Better debt management, improved tax collection, flexible exchange rates and tighter fiscal rules to manage spending could help avert a crisis and soften the blow if one occurs, the World Bank said.

“Towering though it may seem, the latest global wave of debt can be managed,” Malpass said. 

“But leaders need to recognize the danger and move countries into safer territory in terms of the quality and quantity of investment and debt — sooner rather than later.”

His IMF counterpart, Georgieva, in a blog post on Thursday repeated her concern about the massive increase in commercial borrowing in Africa — accounting for 70 percent of the ballooning of debt.

She urged governments in the region to find a “balanced approach” to managing debt and development. 

“Africa is seeking to find the right balance between financing development and safeguarding debt sustainability, between investing in people and upgrading infrastructure, between long-term development objectives and pressing immediate needs,” she said.

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Venezuela Sees Large-Scale Blackouts, Internet Shutdown – Monitoring Agencya – Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/latam/202001191078075139-venezuela-sees-large-scale-blackouts-internet-shutdown—monitoring-agency/

January 19, 2020

Venezuela Sees Large-Scale Blackouts, Internet Shutdown

Monitoring Agency

​According to Netblocks, a total of 16 out of 23 states in the country were affected, but Tachira, Merida, and Carabobo saw less than half of power supply restored.

Venezuelan human rights organisation Redes Ayuda said on Twitter that electricity outages in the country had also caused problems with internet connection in five states.

According to third-party observers and analysts, the power outages in Venezuela are caused by low investments in infrastructure and equipment deterioration.

After last summer’s power outages in Caracas, Venezuelan Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said that they had been caused by an “electromagnetic attack” targeting the country’s main hydroelectric system.

In March, an accident occurred at the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant, the country’s largest electricity supplier, which provoked an unprecedented blackout, with 20 of Venezuela’s 23 states affacted. Enterprises and government agencies across the country stopped working for almost a week.

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Weather Modification, Inc.

http://www.weathermodification.com/projects.php

Clients & Projects

Worldwide Success

The proven success of Weather Modification, Inc., in atmospheric and weather operations is evident by our lengthy and impressive client listing speaks for itself. Our reputation for successful cloud seeding and meteorological services leads our veteran pilots, experienced meteorologists and radar engineers around the world. Our valued clients include private and public insurance companies, water resource management organizations, as well as federal and state government research organizations.

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DHS wants to expand airport face recognition scans to include US citizens – TechCrunch

https://techcrunch.com/2019/12/02/homeland-security-face-recognition-airport-citizens/

image

Homeland Security wants to expand facial recognition checks for travelers arriving to and departing from the U.S. to also include citizens, which had previously been exempt from the mandatory checks.

In a filing, the department has proposed that all travelers, and not just foreign nationals or visitors, will have to complete a facial recognition check before they are allowed to enter the U.S., but also to leave the country.

Facial recognition for departing flights has increased in recent years as part of Homeland Security’s efforts to catch visitors and travelers who overstay their visas. The department, whose responsibility is to protect the border and control immigration, has a deadline of 2021 to roll out facial recognition scanners to the largest 20 airports in the United States, despite facing a rash of technical challenges.

But although there may not always be a clear way to opt-out of facial recognition at the airport, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents — also known as green card holders — have been exempt from these checks, the existing rules say.

Now, the proposed rule change to include citizens has drawn ire from one of the largest civil liberties groups in the country.

“Time and again, the government told the public and members of Congress that U.S. citizens would not be required to submit to this intrusive surveillance technology as a condition of traveling,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union .

“This new notice suggests that the government is reneging on what was already an insufficient promise,” he said.

“Travelers, including U.S. citizens, should not have to submit to invasive biometric scans simply as a condition of exercising their constitutional right to travel. The government’s insistence on hurtling forward with a large-scale deployment of this powerful surveillance technology raises profound privacy concerns,” he said.

Citing a data breach of close to 100,000 license plate and traveler images in June, as well as concerns about a lack of sufficient safeguards to protect the data, Stanley said the government “cannot be trusted” with this technology and that lawmakers should intervene.

A spokesperson for Customs & Border Protection said the agency was “currently in the rulemaking process and will ensure that the public has the opportunity to comment prior to the implementation of any regulation,” and that it was “committed to its privacy obligations.”

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FOOD SHORTAGES PLANNED: “Pig Ebola” Is Now Running Wild In Indonesia, And It Has Already Killed About One-Fourth Of The World’s Pigs – Investment Watch

https://www.investmentwatchblog.com/pig-ebola-is-now-running-wild-in-indonesia-and-it-has-already-killed-about-one-fourth-of-the-worlds-pigs/

The global pig population is being absolutely decimated by a disease that does not have a cure.  African Swine Fever, also commonly referred to as “Pig Ebola”, is raging out of control in dozens of countries all over the globe.  It has a mortality rate of close to 100 percent, and once it hits an area even the pigs that are able to survive the disease are killed off in order to prevent it from spreading elsewhere.  Unfortunately, African Swine Fever just continues to pop up in more locations.  As you will see below, it is now sweeping through the heavily-populated nation of Indonesia.  Nearly 270 million people live in Indonesia, and they are heavily dependent on pork as a source of protein.  But of course the same thing could be said about almost all of the countries where African Swine Fever is currently raging.

The mainstream media in the U.S. hasn’t been properly reporting on this crisis, and that is likely because this disease has not spread to our nation yet.

But let there be no doubt – this is truly a crisis of Biblical proportions.  In fact, it has been estimated that this epidemic has already killed about one-fourth of the world’s pigs.  The following comes from an Australian news source

Experts say the disease has wiped out an estimated 25 per cent of the world’s pig population.

The fever has been reported in around 50 countries, including China, Belgium, Slovakia, Cambodia, North Korea, South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines.

And this same figure is being quoted by the New York Daily News

African swine fever has been reported in nearly 50 nations — including China, South Korea, the Philippines and Belgium — and it’s causing an incredible crisis on a global scale. Alarmingly, more than one-quarter of Earth’s pigs have been wiped out by the virulent disease.

This should be front page news all across America, but of course the big news networks really don’t want to talk about anything other than the impeachment of Donald Trump these days.

Unfortunately, everyone on the entire planet is going to feel the pain of this crisis as it continues to intensify.  We are potentially facing a serious global pork shortage, and this disease continues to pop up in new areas.  When it recently began spreading in Indonesia, it made headlines all over the globe.  The following comes from Reuters

Nearly 30,000 pigs have died from African swine fever (ASF) in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province as of Dec. 15, causing millions of dollars of economic losses as authorities try to quarantine the areas affected, officials said on Wednesday.

The Agriculture Ministry has declared an outbreak of the highly contagious virus in the country and said it is contained only in some parts of North Sumatra, minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo told reporters.

Asian countries rely very heavily on pork to feed their populations, and the severe losses that we are witnessing are not going to be easy to replace.  At this point, Indonesia has become the 11th Asian nation where African Swine Fever is spreading…

To date, 11 Asian countries have reported outbreaks since August 2018, including Indonesia, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Timor-Leste.

The epicenter for this crisis is in China.  The Chinese produce and eat more pork than anyone else in the world, and it was recently projected that their hog herd “will likely shrink by 55% by the end of the year” due to this disease…

China’s hog herd fell by half in the first eight months of 2019 due to a devastating outbreak of African swine fever and will likely shrink by 55% by the end of the year, analysts at Rabobank said on Wednesday.

As I detailed in a previous article, it has been estimated that 150 million pigs have already died in China.

To put that in perspective, there are only about 70 million pigs in the United States right now.

So you could kill every pig in the United States twice and you would still not get to the total that have already died in China because of this epidemic.

Needless to say, pork prices are absolutely soaring in China.  They have more than doubled since this time last year, and in November we saw another huge jump in Chinese food inflation.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

As has been the case for the past year, the culprit behind the headline CPI surge was food inflation, which accelerated further to a record +19.1% in November from +15.5% in October, primarily on higher inflation in fresh vegetable and pork prices.

So what is the bottom line?

The bottom line is that this is an extremely serious threat to the global food supply.

Beef, chicken, fish and pork are the four main global sources of protein, and right now pork is already in very short supply in some parts of the world.

And of course this comes at a time when global weather patterns are going absolutely nuts and we have seen disastrous harvest seasons all over the planet.

We are entering the time of “the perfect storm”, and most people have absolutely no idea what is ahead of us.

Even if you don’t eat pork, this is a story that you need to keep a very close eye on, because this is going to push up food prices everywhere.  Demand for beef, chicken and fish will increase as pork becomes more expensive and consumers turn to other options.  And in some of the poorer places around the world, some impoverished families may have to start cutting meat out of their diets entirely.

We have never seen a crisis quite like this in any of our lifetimes.  Despite all of our advanced technology, we are still dependent on farmers to produce the food that we eat, and this is truly an existential crisis for the entire global pork industry.

There is no way to spin this to make it sound nicer.  Many are hoping that this outbreak will subside eventually, but right now it doesn’t look like that will happen.

And once this disease reaches the United States, we will start to experience the same panic that is already sweeping through nearly 50 other nations around the globe.

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Prisoners Drink Sewer Water – Levees at Risk/Homeless/Giant Nutria – Rodenticide/Anticoagulant

Prisoners Drink Sewer Water  
Levees at Risk/Homeless/Giant Nutria 
Rodenticide/Anticoagulant
News Updates
Excerpts:
Bottled water tab at a California prison has hit $46,000 a month

Excerpts:
What was intended as a state-of-the-art, $32 million prison water treatment plant has turned into yet another state infrastructure boondoggle. Since the plant’s completion in 2010, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) Deuel Vocational Institution, which uses brackish wells on its grounds, is supposed to run the water through a two-step treatment process before it reaches 2,300 prisoners and 1,000 corrections employees.

 

Read more “Prisoners Drink Sewer Water – Levees at Risk/Homeless/Giant Nutria – Rodenticide/Anticoagulant”

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Silicon Valley Seasteaders Go Looking for Low-Tax Sites on Land – Bloomberg

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-20/silicon-valley-seasteaders-go-looking-for-low-tax-sites-on-land

Patri Friedman is sick of the jokes about floating tax havens. About a decade ago, the former Google software engineer (and grandson of Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman) co-founded the Seasteading Institute, a nonprofit with the stated aim of developing a model for self-governing offshore communities. The idea was to allow people to set up more laissez-faire laws for themselves on mobile, artificial islands resting in international waters. An invaluable experiment, he calls it now. Also: “Baggage.”

The institute’s Silicon Valley backers most prominently included Peter Thiel, the conservative billionaire and future Trump adviser, and traded in no small part on Thiel’s imprimatur. But the effort was as impractical as it sounds, and it drew criticism from local leaders and good-government groups as a form of neocolonialism. In 2018 locals defeated a commercial spinoff’s attempt to establish a seastead off the coast of Tahiti. Seasteading, like vampirism, is now on the unofficial list of topics not to raise with Thiel, who hasn’t written the institute a check in at least five years. Nonetheless, he’s become the anchor investor for Friedman’s new venture capital firm, which is trying to create some similar-sounding communities on land.

Pronomos Capital, which Friedman incorporated in August, is supposed to bankroll the construction of experimental cities on vacant tracts of land in developing countries. Pronomos is set up like a venture fund, making investments in local organizations that do the work of securing government approvals, finding tenants, and hiring retired U.K. judges to enforce the new legal framework, to be based on British common law. The firm says it’s discussing semi-autonomous cities of varying sizes with foreign and local businesspeople in countries where officials have seemed receptive to exempting them from area laws, including Ghana, Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Nigeria, and Panama. A given community could start as small as an industrial park, Friedman says. Most will be aimed at foreign businesses seeking friendlier tax treatment.

relates to The Hottest New Thing in Seasteading Is Land
Patri Friedman

Courtesy: Patri Friedman

While other organizations with names such as Free Private Cities and Charter Cities Institute are advising similar efforts around the world, Pronomos is the only one with seed money from boldface names including Thiel, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, and Bitcoin evangelists Roger Ver and Balaji Srinivasan. In describing his new firm, Friedman isn’t shy to use seasteading as a reference point. “I’ve been putting these ideas out there for 20 years, and they’ve grown and compounded,” he says, sipping well water at his mountaintop compound south of San Jose. “What we get excited about is the ability to do this repeatedly.”

Why the colonial-sounding framework, right down to the old British laws? Dressed in a well-loved Slytherin sweatshirt, Friedman says it’s the best fuel for a fledgling economy and property values, and to assure global investors that their money will be safe in Pronomos projects. The justice system is more important than the tax breaks, he says, citing research that suggests faith in a functional code of laws is a leading indicator of a region’s economic success.

That’s been less than reassuring to politicians and residents leery of ceding land to unaccountable foreigners, in exchange for theoretical network effects. Fierce local opposition has halted a plan to create an independent area on a stretch of coastal land in Honduras, for example. The proposed tax incentives and other benefits for foreign investors were about as popular as you’d expect. “That land belongs to someone,” says Silvio Carrillo, the nephew of assassinated Honduran rights advocate Berta Cáceres.

Pronomos “will only go where we are wanted,” according to Friedman. He also says, with a straight face, that if Pronomos can get local officials to agree to its plans, “we have a credible shot at eliminating poverty.”

Friedman’s grandfather spent his life attacking government oversight in the field of economics, but his father, a law professor at Santa Clara University, has advocated for a kind of anarcho-capitalism on a legal basis. At age 43, Patri Friedman has pushed his family’s do-what-you-feel ethos to some other extremes, advocating for communal living, polyamory, and human-machine hybridization. He’s spent most of his career at Google, including his Seasteading Institute years. He left Google this summer to work full time on Pronomos.

“Do I want to create the first venture-backed city-state? Hell yeah”

The venture firm has raised about $9 million so far (more than half from Thiel), well short of Friedman’s initial goal. He says that’s only enough to cover basic fact-finding expenses for his local partners, and he’ll raise more to buy and develop land once governments approve the plans.

Similar ideas have gained some support beyond fringe libertarian circles. Honduras amended its constitution in 2013 to allow the creation of special economic zones outside the country’s legal framework. Erick Brimen, a startup founder who has coordinated development projects in Central America, is informally working with Friedman and others on Prospera Honduras, a local business advocacy group there. Brimen says it’s too early to discuss publicly. Other groups aiming for these kinds of extralegal territories have announced priorities including tax holidays and privatized health care and police forces.

“Our vision aligns” with Friedman’s, says Taavi Kotka, who runs an Estonian organization advocating for looser employment and tax laws to attract immigrants. “He’s a pioneer in setting up these special zones,” blockchain enthusiast Barak Ben Ezer says of Friedman. He and Friedman are working to turn the Marshall Islands into a tax haven similar to the Caymans. Friedman says he hopes to back more than a dozen projects in the next four years.

Yet even if Friedman and the other landsteaders can assuage concerns about colonial-style exploitation and the flouting of local laws, there are few guarantees in the world of quasi-sovereign states. In April a couple proclaimed their small fiberglass pod, 14 miles off Thailand’s coast, to be self-governing, and the Thai government sent its military to destroy the pod, calling their proclamation an act of war. (The couple is now working on a similar project in Panama, this time in cooperation with government officials.) That’s why, says Friedman, he’s making sure any Pronomos projects have local officials on board. Further out, “Do I want to create the first venture-backed city-state? Hell yeah,” he says. “That’s what I’m in it for. That’s the long-term goal.”

(Updated final paragraph to add new details about the couple who set up a pod off the coast of Thailand.)

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Seasteading – Living on Water for the SUPER RICH

About

At The Seasteading Institute, we believe that experiments are the source of all progress: to find something better, you have to try something new. But right now, there is no open space for experimenting with new societies. That’s why we work to enable seasteading communities — floating cities — which will allow the next generation of pioneers to peacefully test new ideas for how to live together.

Founded in 2008
by Patri Friedman and Peter Thiel
The Seasteading Institute was founded in 2008 by activist, software engineer and political economic theorist Patri Friedman, grandson of Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman, and technology entrepreneur, investor and Philanthropist Peter Thiel

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