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NYC Fast Resembling San Fran & Vancouver "Cities Of The Walking Dead" As Junkies, Dealers Take Over Midtown Streets With Impunity 

NYC Fast Resembling San Fran & Vancouver "Cities Of The Walking Dead" As Junkies, Dealers Take Over Midtown Streets With Impunity .....»»

Category: worldSource: nytSep 26th, 2021

I spent 13 years studying the fine art of haggling: here is what I learned

How to haggle for a bargain: Be friendly, develop a rapport with the seller, buy in bulk, don't take it personally, and be prepared to walk away. A rug salesman shows off a rug at The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey. Tim Graham/Getty Images Why do people from different cultures haggle and what are the best tricks? Collin Abroadcast, who posts his shopping exploits on YouTube, calls it "really rapid negotiation. Where you think on your feet." "I wanna talk with them...I wanna have a certain vibe," travel blogger Sassy Funke says of bargain shopping in her native Nigeria. See more stories on Insider's business page. Funke Ogunkoya-Futi - aka Sassy Funke, travel blogger, vlogger, and the author of the Lagos Travel Guide - was ambling through the alleys of Nigeria's Lekki Arts and Crafts Market early one morning last July, just before the rush of shoppers. Her goal: attain ready-made African clothing for her Canadian in-laws.She browsed the closet-sized shops spilling out with jewelry and gems, furniture and tribal masks, woven baskets and wax print bags. Paintings stacked on paintings stacked on paintings. As she peeked into stores, shopkeepers called out, "Come, mama. I have it. I have what you're looking for."She was comparing prices at multiple shops when she spotted a dress she loved. The shopkeeper asked for 2000 naira (about $4.87). Normally, no matter the price asked, Ogunkoya-Futi shoots shopkeepers a look of utter shock and then offers to pay something "ridiculous," she told me. If something is 100 naira, she offers 5.But the dress was good quality; 2000 naira was already a great price. She offered 1000 naira.Ogunkoya-Futi performed masterful schmoozing, talking the seller up and calling herself his daughter. She offered to make multiple purchases and refer him to her friends. Twenty minutes of back and forth later, she secured the deal.Then, Ogunkoya-Futi asked him to throw in three headbands. Adenike Akinlosose, an African textiles dealer, shows her fabrics at Balogun market in Lagos in 2011. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images "This'll cost you nothing to make," Ogunkoya-Futi said, holding the headbands aloft.He gave them to her for free.Ogunkoya-Futi beams when sharing the story with me during an interview over Zoom, claiming it was her best haggling experience because she and the shopkeeper sparked a connection, both had a pleasant experience, and she brought three friends back that week to support his shop. Ogunkoya-Futi had scored a great deal - and helped a kind businessman. "I love the interaction," she told me. "I wanna talk with them. I wanna gist with them. I wanna have a certain vibe, and they enjoy that, they get that."There's also the rush of adrenaline. Collin Abroadcast, a YouTuber who gets millions of views when he posts his shopping exploits, defines haggling as "really rapid negotiation. Where you think on your feet. It's a game, and the more you play, the more you gain speed and learn to read people's body language."A good deal between friendsI also love a good haggle. I haggled for my wife's engagement ring, and before our wedding, I haggled for catering, a DJ, and a photographer. Soon after, I haggled for our house, and when we started our family, I haggled for a minivan. I honed my skills during my time living in Jerusalem for nine months in the mid-aughts when I was 27. I was interning at a Jewish-Arab equality NGO and making little money.In Israel, haggling is hardcore. Sellers go from telling you that you look like a celebrity to cursing you out. I perfected the interest-indifference ratio, always walking out of a store with a salesperson trailing me, hollering deals. I would get into cabs, then immediately back out, if they didn't knock the price down. Italian craftsman Antonio Ignomeriello in his shop at Las Dalias night market in San Carlos, on Ibiza Island in 2021. JAIME REINA/AFP via Getty Images My grandfather was a haggler. He escaped the antisemitism and pogroms of Poland for America in 1917 and desperately drove his roots into upstate New York's soil, peddling scrap metal, haggling over prices, and eventually saving enough to start a tailored suit shop/dry cleaners, which soon became a suit shop/paint store, and finally Deitcher's Wallpaper and Design Center in Cohoes, New York, established in 1926.Born in 1937, my father was heir to the business. Over lunches at Smith's Tavern, he haggled deals with distributors, loading up on stock in exchange for a bigger discount. In return, customers asked for discounts, too, and if they purchased enough, of course he hooked them up.When my father grew up it was easier for independent businesses to thrive. Store owners were from the community. Customers trusted them because they were neighbors and family. Clerks could make deals, usually cutting into their commission. Shop owners haggled with other shop owners who then haggled deals back. Supporting each other was supporting friends. Today, the only things you can haggle for in the United States are cars, houses, fine jewelry, large appliances, home repairs, event services, and graphic novels at Comic Con. There's little hope for small businesses cutting deals with distributors when Walmart goes directly to manufacturers to demand the lowest wholesale rates. Rugs for sale at the Jaffa Flea Market in Tel Aviv in 2018. Michael Jacobs/Art in All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images In the 80s, Deitcher's Wallpaper grew to the point that my father couldn't order wallpaper fast enough, so he bought a warehouse. In the 90s, he moved the family into his custom-built dream house: 5,600 square feet in Slingerlands, New York-the country-where we were one of a handful of Jewish families in the school district and barely knew our neighbors. Then the business faltered. For years, my father tried running new promotions, but the store bled money and most of his income was from investments. In the early aughts, he held a final sale, donated his stock to Habitat for Humanity, and became an appointment-only interior decorator.Even my father shops on Amazon now."Never, never, take it personally. Never get angry."But while America becomes less able to negotiate, people fiend to watch the art of haggling. Abroadcast, the haggling YouTuber, has 1.42 million followers on the platform. His comments sections are filled with fans peeping into a world they will never experience.Born in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Abroadcast started his channel making "typical travel Vlog type stuff," he told me via Zoom. "Here I am as a foreigner living in China." He had never haggled in his life before he visited the fake markets in Shanghai five years ago. He envisioned back-alley hustlers, but found a five-story mall in the middle of the city. He caught on immediately, bargaining over a pair of Nikes he knew were bootleg. He felt the rush of adrenaline. The connection with sellers. His schtick became hopping from country to country-India, Morocco, Kenya, 20 countries overall-rocking two days of stubble, a t-shirt or a hoodie, and a backpack. His videos run 20 minutes to over an hour, with scene after scene of him haggling and chatting with sellers. Sometimes the haggles get tense, frustration sparking between both the seller and Abroadcast. To some viewers, I'm sure he can come off as a white American trying to acquire goods for peanuts, but often you see him taking his time to learn about a seller's art and family. He can be genuine, both calling out fake goods and complimenting what he likes."I know straight off the bat, especially me being a foreigner in these markets, they expect me to have money because I'm on vacation," he said. "So obviously, they're going to take their chance and try to overcharge me."His favorite story, he told me, took place in Beijing's Silk Market, a massive modern mall known as a destination for buying knock-offs. In a shop lined with shoes, a seller rejected his offer of 200 yuan (about $32) for a pair of Jordans. He told her, "I'm good, I'm good," and headed for the exit. The seller reeled him back in, reminding him he was being unreasonable because she was selling him Jordans, "not lady shoes, not baby shoes, not socks." She fed him tons of snark, which he met with laughter. She finally lowered her price to 250 because he was "very handsome," but he left empty handed, holding firm at his offer of 200."My best haggling situation isn't where I get the best price, it's where I have the most fun. And the seller has the most fun as well," he said. "Those are always the best times because it's like, 'Alright, let's put my skills to the test.' The worst ones are when the sellers don't really care to sell to you.""Never, never, take it personally. Never get angry," Abroadcast said. "As humans, we all want the same thing. Everybody just wants to have good health. They want to be loved and be able to support their family at the end of the day.""Just pay the dollar and go"My mom-in-law, who grew up in Jamaica in the '60s, didn't feel a connection with the buyers she haggled with. She did it because that's how her family got by.Once a week, she, her mom, and her sisters went shopping in the bend-down markets of Saint Elizabeth, a parish in the south of Jamaica, known for having the reddest dirt and the Appleton rum estate. Sellers spread their goods on blankets, and often, my mom-in-law and her family came with their own crop to sell-thyme, scallions, and coffee beans from their farm-while their mom used profits to haggle for soup meat, liver, and kidney.Many of my mom-in-law's family members loved chatting with buyers, but she hated it. "It kind of made me feel a little…" her voice trailed off while she told me about it from across the kitchen table. She remembered feeling ashamed as she watched school friends wandering by, purchasing things, while she fought over small sums of money. "You know how children are. They would say, 'hey, I saw her in the market selling.' It was down-grading."Once her secondary school finished, she left the farm and eventually made her way to America, where she attained her dream job at New York City's Waldorf Astoria, a stark contrast to the markets. To this day, she is one of the worst hagglers I've seen. "She gets embarrassed. Has too much pride," my wife told me. "She worries haggling makes her seem less-than." A basket seller in Jamaica. Emmanuel VALENTIN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images) "I can't do it," my mom-in-law said, stirring her tea. "If they say this thing is for a dollar, I just pay the dollar and go. It's up to them and their conscience. I don't lose."She loves chatting with the sales people, whether it be in Macy's or a market in Ocho Rios. She will even leave sellers tips. "I remember my days when I didn't have it," she said. "I know how it's hard.""You don't leave money on the table."Last February, my wife and I took my mom-in-law and my son to visit Jerusalem, and we strolled through the shuk, my mom-in-law paying what she pleased while I went to work.I was in my element.Roni Peled, senior tour guide and Director of Guide Activities at the Israel Museum, told me that since the Crusades, the streets of Jerusalem's Old City have been named for different goods and services. "If I open a shop of spices, right away, on my right side and my left side, there would be open another shop of spices," he said. The Ottoman Empire divided the wide, slippery limestone streets into alleys, a half or quarter their original size, creating the maze of vibrant markets of today. Growing up refugees in the 50s, Peled's family couldn't afford plays and movies, so going to the markets was how they entertained themselves. Everyone met in the markets.Arabs shopped from Jewish shops and Jews frequented Arab shops, but Peled worries the bonds created in Jerusalem's markets are becoming a thing of the past. In 2008, right before I left Jerusalem, the Mamilla Mall opened, just outside the Old City, leading to Jaffa Gate. It's a massive open-air shopping center featuring haggle-free high-end international chain stores built around and into historical buildings. I enjoy shopping there the same way I love my local mall, but the experience feels very impersonal.Haggling is changing in Nigeria, too, at least for more financially comfortable Nigerians in cities like Lagos.Back when Ogunkoya-Futi was growing up in the 90s, going to a proper grocery store was a trip, but it's becoming more the norm. "They're becoming formal entities," she told me, "with a PNL, with projections." Nigerians can get most anything delivered through Jumia, known as the Amazon of Africa. There are hundreds of dispatch services-delivering food, clothing, and TVs.She sees merchants struggling and understands why many Nigerian businesses are becoming more formal. "I can take a random vendor in the market that people haggle with on a day-to-day basis. He sells his products one day for 15. The next day, 100. The fundamental issue is that he can't plan. The fundamental issue is that he has constant bills that are fixed or even growing that he might not be able to live up to." Yet because other vendors are haggling, he can't afford to stop."I love the haggling culture," Ogunkoya-Futi said. "But I think it's unpredictability of revenue is a big issue in the market." It's one of the reasons, she told me, many Nigerians are dependent on diaspora money to survive.Stelios Michalopoulos, an economics professor at Brown University, tells me that societies where haggling is a big part of commercial interactions often share a way of valuing time. "If time is expensive, then you would not do it," he said. "When labor cost is low, then your time is cheap." A stall selling antiques, at El Rastro, Madrid's iconic flea market, in 2021. Gustavo Valiente/Europa Press via Getty Images It's also more common where a higher value is placed on social interactions, there is a joy in haggling. "Both the buyer and the seller want the other to be happy," so they can "invite for further interactions," Michalopoulos said. Of course, that makes less sense when it comes to tourists, who are unlikely to return consistently.He told me that he believes haggling and formalized trade systems can work together. He used donation-based alumni organizations as a parallel example. Donors set the value of being involved with organizations-giving $50 or $100 or whatever they want based on their interest-and the organizations run fine.He called haggling "the optimal way to sell" because the buyer pays "according to his marginal willingness to pay, which will be higher than the cost to the supplier." The possibility for price differentiation leaves no unexploited opportunities for trade."If you have one single price economy," he said, and something costs the seller $8 and the market price goes for $10, "there are actually trades that could have taken place at eight-and-a-half bucks, nine bucks, nine-and-a-half bucks.""The single price law kills those possibilities," he said.If a buyer is willing to pay anything above the seller's cost, "You don't lose. You don't leave money on the table."Today, Ogunkoya-Futi travels the world, documenting her journey to over 35 countries, but she often finds herself haggling with favorite food sellers back home over 10 naira (about $.024).And she says bringing the haggling mentality into other aspects of your life "can open doors that you don't even know." It's about ingenuity. "Don't be discouraged by the hard print," she said. If a job says you need to apply by the first of the month but it's the second, "find the right person in that company. They'll put your application through." If a job can't meet your salary demands, ask if they can bundle it with other benefits, stock options, or travel credits. "Don't be so fixed on one point, look for other creative ways to make a deal better for you.""If you're personable," Ogunkoya-Futi said, "you just never know."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 30th, 2021

The Seven Secrets of Indra Nooyi’s Success

The former PepsiCo CEO shares details from her life and career in her book My Life in Full: Work, Family, and Our Future. Indra Nooyi struggles to be heard over the sounds of outdoor dining, midtown traffic, and a fountain gushing down the wall. That’s clearly rare for the former PepsiCo CEO—so she beckons the restaurant’s owner and asks if he can shut off the water. He obliges, and Nooyi proceeds to regale us, a table of female journalists at the helm of various New York media, with anecdotes from her just-released book, My Life in Full: Work, Family, and Our Future. The whole lunchtime interaction—assess problem, determine what’s in your control, improve outcome, go forth with grace—is signature Nooyi. Her book delves even further into this exacting style punctured by compassion, loyalty, and deep relationships that get results. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] I confess to having studied Nooyi for a long time now. I’ve watched her interviews, live and on YouTube, during my own career trajectory. A manager training I once attended spent hours dissecting Nooyi’s ability to peer around corners and lead a company through change. Then there’s the South Asian connection: a member of our own community ascended to a Fortune 50 company who proudly credits her childhood in Chennai and the role of extended family in making it all possible. For years, my people proudly (and wrongly) asserted that the 65-year-old executive wears a sari in the boardroom. Thankfully, her book debunks the myth: After feeling like a misfit in oversized polyester outfits, she chose the traditional Indian dress for an internship interview, landed the job, and donned the sari for the rest of the summer. Eventually, she transitioned to Western attire, and her sartorial choices gained style and confidence as her career progressed. Read more: A Woman of Color Cannot Save Your Workplace Culture Back stories like that are the hallmark of this part memoir, part clarion. We’ve heard a lot from Nooyi over the last two decades, talks distilled into tweetable headlines and soundbites on work-family balance. As a woman of color, a mother of two girls, an immigrant success story, she describes feeling almost a moral obligation to show up at speeches, panels, awards ceremonies, seminars, and guest lectures during her 12-year tenure as CEO. Life in Full stitches it all together and offers the context sometimes only possible in hindsight. The fast-paced narrative is as much a blueprint to getting ahead at work as an appreciation of the friends and family along for the journey. I found seven themes in particular surfaced repeatedly, together buoying Nooyi’s remarkable life: It’s okay to love work. Perhaps in all the reams written on the juggle, especially for women, the part that often feels shafted is the work itself. Nooyi’s love of the job—from walks on factory floors to battles with activist investors—is so apparent and infectious. Anyone who has fist-pumped after an excellent quarter or convinced a supervisor to implement their strategy will love the gusto with which Nooyi both throws herself into the work and celebrates wins. She also uses wonky but relatable examples to explain how to predict and embrace change in the bigger picture. Nooyi recounts walking into supermarkets and Walmarts to assess Frito-Lay packaging and placement on shelves and watching parents and kids at birthday parties shunning soda as precursors to PepsiCo’s focus on healthier products. She also remembers working long hours and skipping vacation to dive into the guts of a billion-dollar-plus proposal to overhaul enterprise software, and why it is so important for leaders to understand all aspects of what they are approving. Sharing the love of the work with the ones you love feels necessary and important, especially for children to understand why their mom is away: She loves you, but she also loves her work. It’s okay to talk about your family at work. Similarly, Nooyi seemingly effortlessly centers family in the workplace. There are subtle but important examples; for years, she kept a dry-erase board in her office just for the kids. Everyone from her bosses to her assistants helped in times of crisis, such as by offering to do school pickup. There are also the ways Nooyi recognized the families of her staffers. She recounts writing letters to the parents of colleagues to thank them for their role in their child’s stellar performance. These “report cards,” she says, were beloved and drew loyalty from staff and their families. She also thanked the spouses of her direct reports, and notes, “these letters released a lot of emotion.” Hire experts. Over and over, Nooyi finds herself in jobs or situations where she lacks expertise in an industry or product. It’s how she responds, also over and over, that is so brilliant. She doesn’t BS her way through presentations; she turns to experts. Nooyi matter-of-factly mentions that after she went to Motorola, two community college professors came twice a week to her office, one to explain how automobiles work and the other to discuss “solid-state physics and electronics.” You see how this instinct serves her well over time as she moves to PepsiCo. There, she turns to experts in design, science, and technology. Eventually, she hires a chief scientific officer, saying the role can help reduce salt in chips and add whole grains to Cheerio’s. But more importantly, she says, “science could be at the heart of reimagining the global food system.” Men have a role to play. At critical junctures in Nooyi’s career, men have preemptively jumped in and offered their support. When her father was dying, one boss offered six months paid leave. Importantly, the men initiated such support, she says, because “as a young consultant, I had zero leverage in asking for any kind of benefit that would help me through a difficult time.” When she was pregnant and working as a consultant, she recounts: “For my last meeting with Trane, Bill Roth, the CEO, chartered two planes to bring his entire executive team to our offices in Chicago. The meeting would typically have happened in his own boardroom, but I was nine months pregnant and couldn’t travel. Bill wanted me to be part of BCG’s final presentation to his company.” You can sense their immense respect for her at the root of the life-changing gestures. But imagine if such accommodation were the norm and not the exception. Would more women stay in the workforce? Similarly, Nooyi praises her father-in-law and husband for their lack of adherence to Indian tradition around gender roles. After marriage, her father-in-law said to her: “Indra, don’t give up your job. You have all this education, and you should use it. We will support you in any way we can.” Leave the crown in the garage. Nooyi repeatedly says being a mother is one of her most cherished roles. But one night, after being named president of PepsiCo, she comes home and her mother orders her to go get milk. Nooyi is annoyed, feeling like she can’t even revel in this newfound title and success. Her mother responds: “You may be the president or whatever of PepsiCo, but when you come home, you are a wife and a mother and a daughter. Nobody can take your place. So you leave that crown in the garage.” Such humility might not be expected of men, but Nooyi accepts this as a small price to keep peace on the home front. Another subtle point in the anecdote: Nobody will be as honest or hard on you as your mother. Care needs to be prioritized by everybody right now. While the brunt of the book dwells on Nooyi’s journey, she issues a call for action—rooted in deep study of states, companies, and countries with more family-friendly policies— for both prioritizing and training care workers like never before. Both in the book and in her lunch with journalists, Nooyi cites concern about two related crises. Women leaving the workforce and choosing not to have children, she says, will be disastrous for the economy, citing Japan as an example of our potential fate. She writes: “We must expand the future-of-work conversations that dwell on robotics and artificial intelligence to include another critical dimension of our success: how to shift our economies to better integrate work and family and ensure that women get equal pay and share power.” Purpose is everything. I have written reams during the pandemic on how purpose is the single most important motivator for the modern workforce. Nooyi was early to this trend. Her transformation of PepsiCo rested on a concept called “Performance with Purpose.” She writes: “PwP would transform the way PepsiCo made money and tie our business success to these objectives: Nourish. Replenish. Cherish.” Purpose translates, thus, not just to business objectives but life itself. Over the last year, retirement from PepsiCo a distant memory, Nooyi was working endless hours on a Covid task force. Her mother—the same woman who’d once said to leave the crown in the garage—seemed to have a change of heart. The need for home and work to accommodate each other might be more needed than ever. “You are someone who wants to help the world and not many people are like you,” her mother said. “I don’t think you should worry about the house so much. You have to give back as much as you can.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 12th, 2021

Frances Haugen: The Facebook Whistleblower

    Now that’s a rock star. You remember rock stars, don’t you? Probably not if you’re a millennial or younger. Rock stars were musicians who channeled the truth, who stood up to corporations and bad behavior around the world. They were explicit, not complicit. And they and their messages were so powerful that money… Read More The post Frances Haugen: The Facebook Whistleblower appeared first on The Big Picture.     Now that’s a rock star. You remember rock stars, don’t you? Probably not if you’re a millennial or younger. Rock stars were musicians who channeled the truth, who stood up to corporations and bad behavior around the world. They were explicit, not complicit. And they and their messages were so powerful that money rained down upon them. But it hasn’t been that way for a very long time. First we had MTV. Which soon made looks more important than the music. Good luck getting signed if you weren’t beautiful. They had whole teams of people to help write your songs, to groom you, because there was big money at stake, and the executives wanted it. That big money was based on technology, i.e. the CD, which sold for two times viny and cassettes, yet to “help the format” artists halved their royalties, with promises they would be raised once the CD got traction, and this never happened. It was a game, the major labels, MTV, radio and print media were in cahoots. They built beautiful stars, who became more and more vapid. And then came the internet. The paradigm was blown apart. But within the last decade a new order has been established, akin to the old one, but this time on steroids. Now the major labels sign very few acts, and don’t release any music from said acts until they’re sure they’re going to be hits. Furthermore, they have untold power at the streaming services, because they provide the lion’s share of their product, not only new music, but catalog, which represents in excess of 50% of streaming by everybody’s calculation. So every major label priority gets priority at the streaming service. It’s put on banners, it’s put on playlists, it’s given a chance. Good luck with your indie record. And as was proven in the movie business over the last forty-odd years, if you don’t have a library/catalog you can’t pay the bills, you end up selling or going out of business, because it’s the already paid-for assets that generate reliable income at essentially no cost while you do your best to make new hits. And now it’s even easier, it used to be impossible to get all your catalog in the retail store, you’d be lucky to get a greatest hits package, but today every one of the label’s owned songs appears on streaming services, and a lot of the past is better than what we’ve got today, but no one on the inside will say so. And don’t expect a whistleblower in the music business, where loyalty is everything. So “The Wall Street Journal” did a series on Facebook based on documents received from a whistleblower. But not only were the lengthy, detailed articles behind a paywall, they were in print, and most people don’t read, at least not beyond the headlines and captions on news or social media sites. It was big news amongst the intelligentsia, but that leaves out most Americans. But today the whistleblower went on “60 Minutes”: Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen: The 60 Minutes Interview. It’s less than fifteen minutes, you can afford the time, and it’s fascinating. First and foremost Ms. Haugen. She’s a 37 year old woman. She’s the antithesis of Elizabeth Holmes. She’s the antithesis of today’s social media influencers, the Paris Hilton/Kim Kardashian paradigm, where it’s only the exterior that counts and money trumps everything. Haugen went to the not even 25 year old Olin College, an engineering specialty school, and ultimately got an MBA at Harvard. Should you listen to the uneducated nitwit in your neighborhood or Ms. Haugen? It’s no contest. “Ms. Haugen was initially asked to build tools to study the potentially malicious targeting of information at specific communities.” That’s from the one hour old “Wall Street Journal” article on Frances Haugen, now that she’s revealed herself, they’re detailing her history. You can read about it here: “The Facebook Whistleblower, Frances Haugen, Says She Wants to Fix the Company, Not Harm It – The former Facebook employee says her goal is to help prompt change at the social-media giant” But that’s behind a paywall. It took twenty five years, but that’s where the internet is going, I point you to this article centered around Patreon in “Bloomberg Businessweek”: “Patreon Battles for Creators by Investing in Original Content – Ahead of a potential IPO, the $4 billion startup is transforming itself as competition from tech giants intensifies” It used to just be Patreon. Then came Substack. Now all the usual suspect platforms want to be gateways for content provided by citizens that sits behind paywalls so the creators can get paid. So what we’ll end up with is a bunch of niche creative providers, forget whether they get paid or not, who will reach tiny slivers of the public as the big outlets get bigger, then again will the big outlets gain dominance? This is still up in the air. Sure, the “New York Times” has just under 10 million subscribers, but we live in a country of 330 million, and those subscribers aren’t all Americans. Ditto music, the big acts might be bigger than the indies, but in the aggregate, the indies are quite large. Never mind that there’s only so much money to go around. Everybody wants to get paid, they’re sick of giving it away for free, they’re going behind paywalls. And if you don’t pay, soon you’ll be in the dark. But not on Facebook or Instagram, because there you’re paying with your attention, the time you’re logged-on, during which they can serve you advertising. That’s right, Facebook changed the algorithm a couple of years back such that content that delivered a reaction was favored. Because you’d interact with said content and you’d stay on longer, it was a win for Facebook, but a loss for society. Haugen says that Facebook turned on safety systems before the 2020 election, but once the contest was over, they turned them off, end result being the 1/6 insurrection. That’s what everybody was saying on Workplace, the Facebook intranet where everything was available to everybody. So Haugen wanted to move to Puerto Rico. Facebook said she couldn’t work there. So Haugen decided to quit. But during the month she transferred her projects to new people, she downloaded as much information as she could from Workplace. She was stunned what she could see and she was stunned that no one saw her looking, especially in areas outside her purview. Bottom line, Facebook commissioned internal studies that detailed over and over again the negative effects of the service. Instagram’s negative influence on teenage girls. The trade of drugs and human beings in plain sight. How people who posted frequently or were famous were whitelisted and could say anything with impunity. And then she contacted the SEC and provided this information to “The Wall Street Journal.” Now what happens? Well, even Haugen says that breaking up Facebook wouldn’t work. She says there must be governmental regulations because the company prioritizes profits over safety. But it’s worse than that. Facebook is not a manufacturer of physical goods. Half of the world is on Facebook, and the bottom line is the service is now out of the control of the company. As bad as it is in America, it’s a free-for-all in most countries. And, once again, it’s Europe cracking down on the service, saying it’s interfering with government, not the U.S. “a betrayal of democracy.” That’s what Haugen says about Facebook turning off its restrictions after the election. And democracy does hang in the balance. It’s been three and a half years since the Cambridge Analytica story broke, but now the anti-Facebook movement is gaining momentum. But don’t expect Workplace to be available to all Facebook employees in the future, they’re gonna close that loophole posthaste, never mind already shutting down internal operations that deliver information the brass doesn’t want to hear. If you don’t hear it, it doesn’t exist, right? Wrong! But you knew that. But you also thought the power resided in the public. Like yesterday’s inane anti-abortion/women’s rights marches. I sympathize with the sentiment, but not the method. We marched all the way through Trump’s term, did it make a difference? Of course not. It’s the twenty first century, not the twentieth. Battles are fought online. That’s where you make your statements and organize, a person behind a computer is much more powerful than a person at an evanescent rally. But really, we need the big players, the government, the investors to get involved or no change happens. I wish it were otherwise, but it’s not. That’s what voting rights are all about. At least you get a say in theory, but if the rules make it too hard for many to vote, and a partisan legislature is in charge of the results, irrelevant of the public’s will, look out. This is what is happening right now. And what is everybody doing? Looking to make a buck for themselves. Everybody’s deep in their hole, trying to elbow out others to get ahead. They’ve got contempt for others, there is no common good. That’s what “Squid Game,” the most popular show in the world, is all about. It’s not a revelation, it’s reality. People will do anything to survive, to keep the world running how they want it to. Meanwhile, people are addicted to social media. At least there are alternatives to Amazon, but no boycott of the operation has ever worked. But California has instituted warehouse workplace rules targeting Amazon. Good luck working in another state. Where odds are you’re going to get hurt, with repetitive stress injuries if nothing else. Oh, Amazon provides aspirin and band-aids, but the truth is you’re just a cog in the system, disposable, while the company and Wall Street make ever more money. That’s another message of “Squid Game.” So one individual has already had a huge impact. What are the odds other major tech companies will be reaching out to hire her? NADA! She’s white hot, untouchable, let’s hope she gets a big whistleblower settlement, but even if she does, that takes years. Meanwhile, our nation, our world, is being run by a college dropout with tunnel vision. And his number two is leaning into him, not the public at large, screw the public, it’s all about money, isn’t that the essence of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos? But there’s a lot more truth in “Squid Game” than any of today’s music. And the goal of “musicians” today is to sell out to the corporation, or become a corporation, to sell crap to brain dead listeners. That’s to be lauded? No, Frances Haugen is to be lauded. She will be remembered, the Spotify Top 50 will not. Because Haugen did something important, took a stand, risking her career, her future. Who else is doing this? And if this were the pre-internet era, this “60 Minutes” story would be known by essentially every citizen, if they didn’t see it, they’d hear about it, but “60 Minutes” no longer has that kind of reach, nothing on network TV does anymore. Then again, Facebook hate knows no political boundaries, it can appeal to both right and left. But not really. Did you see that YouTube shut out anti-vaxxers? Trump wants back on Twitter. Trump had more reach than anybody in the world, now it’s been scaled back, but he’s already convinced his troops that Democrats are socialists who will ruin society and they must fight to protect their way of life, however bogus it might be. That’s what 1/6 was about. And the word was spread on Facebook. And despite all the doublespeak of Nick Clegg and the rest of the Facebook press team, we know it’s true. In reality, Mark Zuckerberg needs to lose his job. He can keep his money, but he can’t have his hands on the steering wheel of Facebook anymore. But that would require the board to have balls, which it doesn’t possess. Unlike Uber, where Travis Kalanick was exiled for bad behavior, Facebook throws off a ton of money, and since profits are everything, there is no change unless the government insists. But you can’t get agreement on anything in D.C. And not only is there no longer any trust in Congress, there’s no trust in the Supreme Court. And Ted Cruz is single-handedly holding up the appointment of 59 ambassadors, how does that help us exactly? But welcome to the modern world. Where what happens online supersedes everything else. And it happens so fast that elected officials cannot keep up with it. And the internet itself is fluid, so you end up playing a game of Whac-A-Mole. Meanwhile, China is clamping down. But Evergrande has revealed the country’s economic underpinnings are shaky. But Xi is trying to minimize the bad influences of the internet, he’s trying to tamp down celebrity culture, he’s trying to return China to the past, and ultimately that will never work. What did the Rascals say? “People everywhere just want to be free”? But things have to get really bad before they react. They’re really bad at Facebook. This is the first shoe dropping. What’s next? ~~~ Visit the archive: — Listen to the podcast: — @Lefsetz — Subscribe to the LefsetzLetter The post Frances Haugen: The Facebook Whistleblower appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureOct 11th, 2021

Afghan Gun Shop Bonanza: US-Supplied Weapons Including .50 Cals Being Sold To Public

Afghan Gun Shop Bonanza: US-Supplied Weapons Including .50 Cals Being Sold To Public Since the botched US evacuation and withdrawal at the end of August, Afghanistan seems to have become one big gun bizarre where individuals with enough cash can purchase an array of American-supplied weapons and advanced equipment from right off the streets - no questions asked. A New York Times report has found not only small arms like pistols and military assault rifles are showing up in gun shops around major cities like Kabul and Kandahar, but two-way radios and even grenades and night vision goggles along with ample ammunition. The American military items were "originally provided to the Afghan security forces under a U.S. training and assistance program that cost American taxpayers more than $83 billion through two decades of war," the report emphasizes. Illustrative image via Al Jazeera The NY Times report noted that American M4 carbines are going for about $4,000, and at least $1,200 for Beretta M9 handguns, with other NATO-supplied handguns common among Afghan police forces going for about $350. Many of these had been acquired by local gun dealers as the Taliban was gobbling up territory during the rapid US draw down. Desperate Afghan soldiers who hadn't been paid would gain far more than a month's salary by essentially pawning their weapons to local dealers. Russian-made rocket-propelled grenade launchers are also popping up in local gun shops, for about $1,100, and Kalashnikov rifles - perhaps already long ubiquitous in the region - going for an average of $900. One shop owner in the southern city of Kandahar told the Times: "American-made weapons are in great demand, as they work very well and people know how to use them." Another dealer said:  "We used to work as a mobile team," he said. "We would meet many government soldiers and officers to buy weapons from them. After that we would take those weapons to the Taliban and sell it to them, or to anyone who would give us a good price." Pistols, hand grenades, and ammunition for sale in Kandahar province. AFP/Getty Images Further the Times report details that "A third gun merchant in Kandahar, who asked not to be identified because the Taliban had warned him not to speak to the news media, said dealers had sold weapons as large as anti-aircraft guns to the Taliban this summer."  "Now, he said, he sold American-made M4s and .50-caliber machine guns, as well as weapons manufactured by other nations, including rocket launchers and Kalashnikov assault rifles," she shop keeper added. Interestingly, the Taliban is trying to claim that it has imposed a strict accounting system for US weapons seized after the American troop exit, with a spokesman cited in the report as commenting on whether the weapons were being sold on the streets to the public: "I totally deny this; our fighters cannot be that careless." He added dubiously: "Even a single person cannot sell a bullet in the market or smuggle it." The Taliban official claimed they "are all listed, verified and are all saved and secure under the Islamic Emirate for the future army." But the Times investigative team verified that significant amounts of American weapons were being sold openly in shops, and that dealers have continued to receive new merchandise in waves. Tyler Durden Thu, 10/07/2021 - 17:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 7th, 2021

33 appropriate and humorous gifts under $50 that your coworkers will actually love

We rounded up a master list of the best gift ideas for coworkers that they'll actually want to receive - all under $50. Getty Images Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky Shopping for coworkers doesn't have to take a lot of time or money. You can find a unique, thoughtful gift under $50. Below, I've compiled 33 funny, thoughtful, and appropriate gifts under $50 that will serve you well. Shopping for coworkers can become a never-ending parade of mild pine-scented candles, Hallmark cards, and candy that is destined for retirement in a desk drawer for most of the month. It's easier to buy thoughtful, impactful gifts for your closest loved ones, and it gets harder once you add in the subtleties and professionalism of the workplace.But there are mountains of great coworker gifts out there. And they don't have to be expensive - in fact, they probably shouldn't be. The ideal colleague present is thoughtful, unique, and lands somewhere in the casual middle ground between re-gifting paperclips from the supply closet and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Caribbean.Check out all 33 gifts under $50 for your coworkers: A portable four-liter mini fridge Amazon Crownful Mini Fridge, available at Amazon, $43.99This mini-fridge is a lifesaver for coworkers whose food or drinks are always being taken in the office. The four-liter fridge can store up to six 12 ounce sodas and can switch between cold and warm temperatures. A set of four monogrammed pint glasses for after-work drinks Grommet Set of Four Monogram Pint Glasses, available at Grommet, $45Nothing shows true friendship at work like matching and personalized pint glasses. Engrave each pint glass with your work besties' initials to make every drink at happy hour feel more special and intimate. A USB connected disco light to liven up the office Uncommon Goods Disco to Go USB Light, available at Uncommon Goods, $20If they're always the life of the party, this portable disco ball is a great entertaining tool for any work event. From the office to happy hour, this USB disco ball instantly turns any meetup with colleagues into a party. A mini humidifier with color-changing lights Amazon URPOWER Essential Oil Diffuser, available at Amazon, $15.99This essential oil diffuser is the perfect trick to gets rid of the stuffiness and feeling confined at an office desk. This small humidifier adds moist air while the auto color-changing LED lights soothe and enlivens the space.   A work from home kit filled with games and useful items Uncommon Goods Work from Home Survival Kit, available at Uncommon Goods, $20This work from home kit makes working from a home a bit more bearable and less lonely. From the conference card bingo cards to the desk yoga guide, this fun kit brings remote coworkers together even if they are miles apart. A three-month subscription of freshly roasted whole bean, single-origin coffees Driftaway Facebook Driftaway Coffee Subscription, Three Months, available at Driftaway Coffee, from $50If they're practically tethered to the coffee pot, they'll probably love the thoughtfulness of a three-month subscription to this cool Brooklyn startup's beans. Driftaway sends freshly roasted, whole bean, single-origin coffees from around the world to their doorstep. A really nice bottle of olive oil Brightland Alive Olive Oil, available at Brightland, $37If they like to cook, they probably already know the merits of high-quality olive oil. A drizzle of Alive Olive Oil from Brightland adds a vibrant, zesty flavor to any dish, plus the bottle is designed to be left out on display in their kitchen.  An Atlas Obscura calendar full of daily photos and tidbits about the world's strangest and coolest places Amazon Atlas Obscura Color Page-A-Day Desk 2021 Calendar, available at Amazon, $15.99Add some fun to their day-to-day routine with the Atlas Obscura calendar. There are hundreds of photos that celebrate the world's strangest and coolest places, festivals, and foods. Travelers and life-long learners are particularly good candidates for this one. Mini succulents in ceramic planters Amazon/Business Insider StarPack Home 3-Piece Ceramic Succulent Planter, available at Amazon, $14.97If your desk-mate doesn't already have a plant, rest assured they would probably like one (fine print: if it requires next to no caregiving). Grab these ceramic planters from Amazon and fill them with an assortment of succulents. According to science, it may make your coworker happier just to see the plants every day. Fun kitchen towels that rate wines by how well they pair with certain foods Uncommon Goods Wine Pairing Towel Set, available at Uncommon Goods, $28If you've got a wine lover on the team, grab these fun wine pairing towels and a bottle to go with them. They're thoughtful, informal, and unique. A candle that smells like their favorite state Amazon Homesick Candles, available at Uncommon Goods, starting at $34Homesick candles are a great gift for pretty much anyone in your life. They're a nice acknowledgment of something important to someone else that you're likely to know regardless of intimacy level. Plus, with a candle, your colleague will get to enjoy it for weeks to come — and if your gift deals with nostalgia, scent is a great place to start. A three-month subscription to the book club that put "Gone with the Wind" on the map Book of the Month Book of the Month, Three Months, available at Book of the Month, $49.99If your team includes a bookworm, they'll appreciate a gift subscription to Book of the Month. It's been around since 1926, and it's credited with the discovery of titles like "Gone with the Wind" and "Catcher in the Rye". A team of experts and celebrity guest judges curate must-read books — usually new releases, hot topics, and debut authors — and send them to the subscriber's doorstep. If your coworker is more into audiobooks or e-reading, check out a gift subscription to Scribd (full review here). A funny mug that acknowledges the bond forged by people who have to fix the same defunct printer every week together Redbubble/Business Insider The This is Fine Mug, available at Redbubble, from $16.15A "This is Fine" mug is the perfect gift for the only other people on earth who can truly relate to the particularities of your job: a defunct printer, last night's too-fun team happy hour, and the occasional avalanche of meetings and high-priority emails. Here's a $15 nod to the fond shared stressors. A charging stand for their desk to keep things organized Amazon Anker Wireless Charger, available at Walmart, $19.49Help your coworker keep their cluttered wires under control with this wireless charger, which can charge through most protective phone cases.  A miniature golf course they can escape to from the comfort of their desk Bed Bath & Beyond Be Good Company Executive Mini Sandbox, available at Amazon, $24.99Know a coworker who'd rather be at the golf course, or who might appreciate the adult equivalent of doodling in class? Say no more. A water bottle that keeps cold drinks cold for 24 hours and hot drinks hot for 6 hours Hydro Flask Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Travel Coffee Flask, available at Hydro Flask, $29.95It's often the most practical coworker gifts that make the best and longest impression, and this is one stellar candidate. The Hydro Flask is double-wall vacuum insulated and will keep their cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours, with hot drinks staying hot for up to six. We're big fans of the line. The best portable battery you can buy Amazon Elecjet PowerPie, available at Amazon, $49.99If you want to get your colleague something they're sure to love, save them from a dead phone on their next long commute or work trip. We ranked this one as the best battery pack you can buy because of its capacity, charging speed, and affordability. A self-betterment planner designed using the "best practices" of successful people in history Best Self Best Self Co. Planner, available at Best Self, $19.99If you work with someone especially ambitious or concerned with self-progress, they'll love this daily planner. It was created by a group of "human performance junkies" after researching the most successful, high-performing humans in history, and it uses their common practices and psychology tips to break down a 10-year plan into doable, bite-sized pieces. Desk cable clips that keep cords neat and organized Amazon/Business Insider Shintop 6-Piece Cable Clips Set, available at Newegg, $11.16Pair a few of these cable clips with a nice card and some candy for a low-key, well-rounded gift that's fun and practical. A beautiful candle from a cool startup Otherland Otherland Candles, available at Otherland, $36This is one candle they will be excited to receive. Otherland is a startup created by Abigail Cook Stone, a former art buyer for Ralph Lauren. They're some of the most beautifully packaged and best smelling we've seen in a while — and they make great gifts.  An extra-long charging cable, which is the closest you'll get to gifting never-ending convenience Amazon/Business Insider 6 ft Charging Cable, 3-Pack, available at Amazon, $9.98It's something every one of us will feel grateful for a couple of times per day, but always put off buying for ourselves: a serpentine, 6-foot long charging cable. A notebook they can wipe clean and reuse Amazon/Business Insider Rocketbook Fusion Smart Notebook, available at Staples, $37The Rocketbook notebook is full of 21 reusable pages that wipe clean with a damp cloth when the owner uses a Pilot FriXion pen (included), so they can keep using the same notebook indefinitely. They can also send hand-written notes to Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, email, and more. I use my own a surprising amount. A glass Chemex that makes full-flavored coffee every time Williams-Sonoma Stainless-Steel French Press, available at Williams-Sonoma, from $35.50Grab a glass Chemex from Williams-Sonoma that will deliver flavorful, sediment-free coffee routinely. The glass is heat-resistant, and the wood and leather collar serves as an insulated handle.  A to-go sriracha sauce keychain for the hot sauce fiend of the office Amazon Sriracha Keychain Combo Pack, available at Amazon, $13.99Perfect for the coworker best known for adding hot sauce to anything sweet, savory, or edible. The pack comes with a bottle of Sriracha and two differently sized keychains.  Tools for a night off and the "Do Nothing" sloth card made by an independent artist Society6/Business Insider "Do Nothing" Three Sloth Stationery Cards, available at Society6, $11.19Pair the sloth "Do Nothing" card with a few relaxing accessories (like face masks) to gift a well-deserved night off to a coworker. Like all of Society6's collection, it's also made by an independent artist — making it a bit cooler than what you might pick up from CVS. A tiny, convenient Bluetooth key tracker Amazon/Insider Tile Mate Key Finder, available at Target, $24.99You can't go wrong with a tracker for their keys that's compact, thoughtful, and useful to pretty much everyone. A gift card to a popular healthy eating startup Daily Harvest Gift Card, available at Daily Harvest, from $50Daily Harvest is a meal delivery startup that makes healthy fast food that takes as little as 30 seconds to prepare. Meals are delicious, under $10 each, and designed by a chef and nutritionist team for taste and balance. It's great for healthy eaters, busy lifestyles, and solves pretty much all of our main roadblocks to eating well. A unique cocktail recipe book that matches a famous song with a complementary cocktail Amazon/Business Insider Booze & Vinyl: A Spirited Guide to Great Music and Mixed Drinks, available at Barnes & Noble, $22.49Gift your favorite coworker a book that pairs some of the best music from the 1950s to the 2000s with cocktail recipes that match the song's mood, lyrical imagery, or the artists themselves.  A subscription that sends them cool new snacks Love With Food/Instagram/Business Insider Gift Subscription, available at Love With Food from $7.99/monthLove with Food delivers organic, all-natural, or gluten-free snacks that serial snackers won't feel guilty about eating. The better-for-you chips, candy, and bars come from new and trending food brands. Plus, with every snack box that's delivered, Love With Food donates at least one meal to a family in need through a partnership with Feeding America.  A nice leather business card holder Leatherology Business Card Case, available at Leatherology, $45Leatherology makes luxe leather goods for less, and their $45 business card case is a great workplace gift for under $50. It has an invisible magnetic closure, holds up to 20 cards, and comes in a variety of leather types and colors. You can also add a monogram for an additional $10.  A convenient, reusable bag that folds up to the size of a business card Baggu Small Baggu, available at Backcountry, $9.95Grab a trendy, reusable shopping bag that's perfect for packing lunch, extra shoes, or taking a last-minute trip to the grocery store. This one folds up to about the size of a business card, and its signature version can hold 50 pounds of stuff easily. A Bob Ross chia pet they can grow Amazon Bob Ross Chia Pet, available at Amazon, $20.99Do yourself, your coworker, and your section of the office a favor with a Bob Ross chia pet. It will be a great conversation piece for as long as it lives. An echo dot for the virtual assistant you can afford to give them Amazon Echo Dot, 4th Generation, available at Amazon, $49.99If they don't already have an Echo Dot, this is a great tech gift without quite breaking $50. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 5th, 2021

Florida"s minimum wage just went up. This map shows the last time other states raised their wages

Florida increased its minimum wage on September 30 from $8.65 to $10 per hour. At least 20 states have increased their minimum wages in 2021. Protesters took to the streets of New York in 2017 for the Fight for $15 campaign for a higher hourly wage. Erik Mcgregor/Getty Images Florida increased its minimum wage from $8.65 to $10 an hour on September 30. The federal minimum wage of $7.25 hasn't changed since 2009. Many states and localities have taken matters into their own hands and raised pay. Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories. Today, the minimum wage in Florida rises to $10, as the state moves towards a $15 minimum wage by 2026. Alexis Davis, a policy analyst at The Florida Policy Institute, told Insider up to approximately 646,000 Floridians will directly benefit from that hike this year. Of the workers who might see an outright bump, 92% are over 18, according to Davis."These are Floridians struggling with everyday financial decisions like making rent or their mortgages, putting food on the table, and paying for childcare and medical expenses," Davis wrote in an email to Insider. "On average, these Floridians could earn $1,200 more per year with the shift to $10/hour." A flurry of states have moved to up their minimum wages in 2021, including Florida. Twenty states raised their minimum wages around the start of 2021. Connecticut raised its minimum wage from $12 to $13 on August 1. Nevada, Oregon, and DC all increased their minimum wages on July 1.According to a report from the National Employment Law Project (NELP), a record-breaking number of jurisdictions are set to raise their wages in 2021. They say that 74 states, cities, and counties will raise their minimum wages this year - and, on January 1, 27 raised them to be $15 or above. By the end of the year, according to NELP, 40 counties and cities will have raised their minimum wages to $15 or more.The federal minimum wage currently stands at $7.25. In 2009, the last time it was raised, President Joe Biden was still Vice President Biden. The push to raise the minimum wage to $15 isn't a new one; Fight for 15 first began in 2012, when fast-food workers in New York City walked off the job. But as the federal minimum wage has remained stagnant as inequality grows and a K-shaped recovery forms during the coronavirus pandemic, it's top of mind for some lawmakers yet again.Researcher Yannet Lathrop, the author of the NELP report, said that because the minimum wage hasn't changed in over a decade, there's been an incentive for states and localities to raise their own wages and not wait for Congress. To look at how a minimum wage increase would impact workers, Insider mapped out the last time states raised their minimum wages and their current rates.A look at previous minimum wage increasesNineteen states increased their minimum wages on January 1, and New York raised its minimum wage just one day before the start of the new year. Several other states raised the minimum wage in recent years. But other states have not seen an increase in the minimum wage since 2009. Georgia and Wyoming have state minimum wages below the federal minimum wage. If the federal minimum wage was higher than the state's minimum wage, we noted the federal amount as the last minimum wage paid to employees in the state.The following map shows what year the minimum wage increased and the current minimum wage in every state: !function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(a){if(void 0!==a.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var e in a.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.getElementById("datawrapper-chart-"+e)||document.querySelector("iframe[src*='"+e+"']");t&&(t.style.height=a.data["datawrapper-height"][e]+"px")}}))}();Over half the states have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage of $7.25, and 16 states that have minimum wages the same as the federal minimum wage. Five states do not have minimum wage requirements, and so default to the federal minimum. Some other states have not seen an increase since the federal minimum wage last rose from $6.55 to $7.25 on July 24, 2009. According to the Economic Policy Institute, there were 31 states affected by that increase, but several states have since raised their wages since then, such as New York and Maryland. Michigan's minimum wage would have increased to $9.87 per hour this year, but stayed the same as last year's rate of $9.65 because the unemployment rate for 2020 was over 8.5%. The state law suspends increases if the unemployment rate for the previous year is above that level, per The Detroit News.California has been raising its minimum wage since 2017. In 2023, the minimum wage rate will be $15 per hour in the state for places with 25 or fewer employees. The minimum wage will be $15 for places with 26 or more employees a year earlier.Missouri's minimum wage has also been increasing following a ballot measure in 2018, where the rate is gradually rising until it hits $12 in 2023. And even though Virginia's minimum wage has been the same as the federal rate, the state saw its first increase in over a decade as part of the Virginia Minimum Wage Act. The state increased its minimum wage to $9.50 per hour on May 1.A handful of states have also enacted new minimum wage laws during 2021. Delaware passed legislation that will bring the wage up to $15 by 2025, with a first increase kicking in next year. Rhode Island passed a similar bill, with the next increase scheduled for 2022 and rising to $15 by 2025.The effects of a minimum wage increaseSome economists and critics of a minimum wage increase argue that a raise would negatively impact employment, but that may not be the case. However, these raises do have an immediate and tangible impact on workers: In 2020, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) calculated that nearly 7 million workers would get a raise from yearly changes to minimum wages.But, while there were many states and areas that have or will raise their wages in 2021, EPI was not able to predict how many workers were set to get a raise. That's because the most vulnerable workers - those who are low-wage and low-work-from home - have been disproportionately impacted by pandemic-related unemployment."The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated labor markets throughout the country, with a large share of the job losses occurring in low-wage sectors, such as leisure and hospitality, where minimum wage hikes typically affect large shares of workers," EPI writes in their 2021 report. Lathrop said that, right now, minimum-wage workers are mostly essential workers. Broadly, workers of colors - particularly Black workers - are overrepresented in frontline groups."Right now we have an the opportunity to lift pay for workers who are earning low wages, and who have been essential to keeping the economy going during the pandemic," Lathrop said. "And so I guess the question is for elected officials, will they do more than just pay lip service to these workers? Or will they take this opportunity to reward their sacrifice by raising wages to at least 15?"Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 30th, 2021

32 smart and humorous gifts that your coworkers will actually be happy to receive

We rounded up a master list of the best gift ideas for coworkers that they'll actually want to receive - all under $50. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Williams-Sonoma Shopping for coworkers doesn't have to take a lot of time or money.You can find a unique, thoughtful gift under $50 without much research (because we've done it for you).Below, I've compiled 32 gifts under $50 that will serve you well - some are funny, some are thoughtful, all are affordable, and most are impossible to hate. If you're still looking for inspiration, check out all of our gift guides here.Shopping for coworkers can become a never-ending parade of mild pine-scented candles, Hallmark cards, and candy that is destined for retirement in a desk drawer for most of the month. It's easier to buy thoughtful, impactful gifts for your closest loved ones, and it gets harder once you add in the subtleties and professionalism of the workplace.But there are mountains of great coworker gifts out there. And they don't have to be expensive - in fact, they probably shouldn't be. The ideal colleague present is thoughtful, unique, and lands somewhere in the casual middle ground between re-gifting paperclips from the supply closet and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Caribbean.Check out all 32 gifts under $50 for your coworkers: A USB connected disco light to liven up the office Uncommon Goods Disco to Go USB Light, available at Uncommon Goods, $20If they're always the life of the party, this portable disco ball is a great entertaining tool for any work event. From the office to happy hour, this USB disco ball instantly turns any meetup into a party. A mini humidifier with color-changing lights Amazon URPOWER Essential Oil Diffuser, available at Amazon, $15.99This essential oil diffuser is the perfect trick to gets rid of the stuffiness and feeling confined at an office desk. This small humidifier adds moist air while the auto color-changing LED lights soothe and enlivens the space.    A work from home kit filled with games and useful items Uncommon Goods Work from Home Survival Kit, available at Uncommon Goods, $20This work from home kit makes working from a home a bit more bearable and less lonely. From the conference card bingo cards to the desk yoga guide, this fun kit brings remote coworkers together even if they are miles apart. A three-month subscription of freshly roasted whole bean, single-origin coffees Driftaway Facebook Driftaway Coffee Subscription, Three Months, available at Driftaway Coffee, from $50If they're practically tethered to the coffee pot, they'll probably love the thoughtfulness of a three-month subscription to this cool Brooklyn startup's beans. Driftaway sends freshly roasted, whole bean, single-origin coffees from around the world to their doorstep. A really nice bottle of olive oil Brightland Alive Olive Oil, available at Brightland, $37If they like to cook, they probably already know the merits of high-quality olive oil. A drizzle of Alive Olive Oil from Brightland adds a vibrant, zesty flavor to any dish, plus the bottle is designed to be left out on display in their kitchen.  An Atlas Obscura calendar full of daily photos and tidbits about the world's strangest and coolest places Amazon Atlas Obscura Color Page-A-Day Desk 2021 Calendar, available at Amazon, $15.99Add some fun to their day-to-day routine with the Atlas Obscura calendar. There are hundreds of photos that celebrate the world's strangest and coolest places, festivals, and foods. Travelers and life-long learners are particularly good candidates for this one. Mini succulents in ceramic planters Amazon/Business Insider StarPack Home 3-Piece Ceramic Succulent Planter, available at Amazon, $14.97If your desk-mate doesn't already have a plant, rest assured they would probably like one (fine print: if it requires next to no caregiving). Grab these ceramic planters from Amazon and fill them with an assortment of succulents. According to science, it may make them happier just to see the plants every day. Fun kitchen towels that rate wines by how well they pair with certain foods Uncommon Goods Wine Pairing Towel Set, available at Uncommon Goods, $28If you've got a wine lover on the team, grab these fun wine pairing towels and a bottle to go with them. They're thoughtful, informal, and unique. A candle that smells like their favorite state Amazon Homesick Candles, available at Uncommon Goods, starting at $34Homesick candles are a great gift for pretty much anyone in your life. They're a nice acknowledgment of something important to someone else that you're likely to know regardless of intimacy level. Plus, with a candle, they'll get to enjoy it for weeks to come — and if your gift deals with nostalgia, scent is a great place to start. A three-month subscription to the book club that put "Gone with the Wind" on the map Book of the Month Book of the Month, Three Months, available at Book of the Month, $49.99If your team includes a bookworm, they'll appreciate a gift subscription to Book of the Month. It's been around since 1926, and it's credited with the discovery of titles like "Gone with the Wind" and "Catcher in the Rye". A team of experts and celebrity guest judges curate must-read books — usually new releases, hot topics, and debut authors — and send them to the subscriber's doorstep. If they're more into audiobooks or e-reading, check out a gift subscription to Scribd (full review here). A funny mug that acknowledges the bond forged by people who have to fix the same defunct printer every week together Redbubble/Business Insider The This is Fine Mug, available at Redbubble, from $16.15A "This is Fine" mug is the perfect gift for the only other people on earth who can truly relate to the particularities of your job: a defunct printer, last night's too-fun team happy hour, and the occasional avalanche of meetings and high-priority emails. Here's a $15 nod to the fond shared stressors. A charging stand for their desk to keep things organized Amazon Anker Wireless Charger, available at Walmart, $29.96Help them keep their cluttered wires under control with this wireless charger, which can charge through most protective phone cases.  A miniature golf course they can escape to from the comfort of their desk Bed Bath & Beyond Be Good Company Executive Mini Sandbox, available at Amazon, $24.99Know somebody who'd rather be at the golf course, or who might appreciate the adult equivalent of doodling in class? Say no more. A water bottle that keeps cold drinks cold for 24 hours and hot drinks hot for 6 hours Hydro Flask Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Travel Coffee Flask, available at Hydro Flask, $29.95It's often the most practical coworker gifts that make the best and longest impression, and this is one stellar candidate. The Hydro Flask is double-wall vacuum insulated and will keep their cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours, with hot drinks staying hot for up to six. We're big fans of the line. The best portable battery you can buy Amazon Elecjet PowerPie, available at Amazon, $49.99If you want to get them something they're sure to love, save them from a dead phone on their next long commute or work trip. We ranked this one as the best battery pack you can buy because of its capacity, charging speed, and affordability. A self-betterment planner designed using the "best practices" of successful people in history Best Self Best Self Co. Planner, available at Best Self, $19.99If you work with someone especially ambitious or concerned with self-progress, they'll love this daily planner. It was created by a group of "human performance junkies" after researching the most successful, high-performing humans in history, and it uses their common practices and psychology tips to break down a 10-year plan into doable, bite-sized pieces. Desk cable clips that keep cords neat and organized Amazon/Business Insider Shintop 6-Piece Cable Clips Set, available at Newegg, $10.89Pair a few of these cable clips with a nice card and some candy for a low-key, well-rounded gift that's fun and practical. A beautiful candle from a cool startup Otherland Otherland Candles, available at Otherland, $36This is one candle they will be excited to receive. Otherland is a startup created by Abigail Cook Stone, a former art buyer for Ralph Lauren. They're some of the most beautifully packaged and best smelling we've seen in a while— and they make great gifts.  An extra-long charging cable, which is the closest you'll get to gifting never-ending convenience Amazon/Business Insider 6 ft Charging Cable, 3-Pack, available at Amazon, $9.99It's something every one of us will feel grateful for a couple of times per day, but always put off buying for ourselves: a serpentine, 6-foot long charging cable. A notebook they can wipe clean and reuse Amazon/Business Insider Rocketbook Fusion Smart Notebook, available at Staples, $37The Rocketbook notebook is full of 21 reusable pages that wipe clean with a damp cloth when the owner uses a Pilot FriXion pen (included), so they can keep using the same notebook indefinitely. They can also send hand-written notes to Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, email, and more. I use my own a surprising amount. A glass Chemex that makes full-flavored coffee every time Williams-Sonoma Stainless-Steel French Press, available at Williams-Sonoma, from $35.50Grab a glass Chemex from Williams-Sonoma that will deliver flavorful, sediment-free coffee routinely. The glass is heat-resistant, and the wood and leather collar serves as an insulated handle.  A to-go sriracha sauce keychain for the hot sauce fiend of the office Amazon Sriracha Keychain Gift Pack, available at Amazon, $29.99Perfect for the coworker best known for adding hot sauce to anything sweet, savory, or edible. The pack comes with a bottle of Sriracha and six differently sized keychains.  A brownie pan that only makes edge pieces Amazon Baker's Edge Nonstick Edge Brownie Pan, available at Amazon, $36.95This is exactly the kind of gift that seems more fun and clever than it is practical — until you're using it once a month religiously. Tools for a night off and the "Do Nothing" sloth card made by an independent artist Society6/Business Insider "Do Nothing" Three Sloth Stationery Cards, available at Society6, $11.19Pair the sloth "Do Nothing" card with a few relaxing accessories (like face masks) to gift a well-deserved night off to a coworker. Like all of Society6's collection, it's also made by an independent artist — making it a bit cooler than what you might pick up from CVS. A tiny, convenient Bluetooth key tracker Amazon/Business Insider Tile Mate Key Finder, available at Target, $24.99You can't go wrong with a tracker for their keys that's compact, thoughtful, and useful to pretty much everyone. A gift card to a popular healthy eating startup Daily Harvest Gift Card, available at Daily Harvest, from $50Daily Harvest is a meal delivery startup that makes healthy fast food that takes as little as 30 seconds to prepare. Meals are delicious, under $10 each, and designed by a chef and nutritionist team for taste and balance. It's great for healthy eaters, busy lifestyles, and solves pretty much all of our main roadblocks to eating well. A unique cocktail recipe book that matches a famous song with a complementary cocktail Amazon/Business Insider Booze & Vinyl: A Spirited Guide to Great Music and Mixed Drinks, available at Barnes & Noble, $22.49Gift your favorite coworker a book that pairs some of the best music from the 1950s to the 2000s with cocktail recipes that match the song's mood, lyrical imagery, or the artists themselves.  A subscription that sends them cool new snacks Love with Food/Instagram/Business Insider Gift Subscription, available at Love With Food from $7.99/monthLove with Food delivers organic, all-natural, or gluten-free snacks that serial snackers won't feel guilty about eating. The better-for-you chips, candy, and bars come from new and trending food brands. Plus, with every snack box that's delivered, Love With Food donates at least one meal to a family in need through a partnership with Feeding America.  A nice leather business card holder Leatherology Business Card Case, available at Leatherology, $45Leatherology makes luxe leather goods for less, and their $45 business card case is a great workplace gift for under $50. It has an invisible magnetic closure, holds up to 20 cards, and comes in a variety of leather types and colors. You can also add a monogram for an additional $10.  A convenient, reusable bag that folds up to the size of a business card Baggu Small Baggu, available at Backcountry, $9.95Grab a trendy, reusable shopping bag that's perfect for packing lunch, extra shoes, or taking a last-minute trip to the grocery store. This one folds up to about the size of a business card, and its signature version can hold 50 pounds of stuff easily. A Bob Ross chia pet they can grow Amazon Bob Ross Chia Pet, available at Amazon, $19.76Do yourself, your coworker, and your section of the office a favor with a Bob Ross chia pet. It will be a great conversation piece for as long as it lives. An echo dot for the virtual assistant you can afford to give them Amazon Echo Dot, 4th Generation, available at Amazon, $49.99If they don't already have an Echo Dot, this is a great tech gift without quite breaking $50. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 28th, 2021

"Damn You To Hell, You Will Not Destroy America" - Here Is The "Spartacus COVID Letter" That"s Gone Viral

"Damn You To Hell, You Will Not Destroy America" - Here Is The 'Spartacus COVID Letter' That's Gone Viral Via The Automatic Earth blog, This is an anonymously posted document by someone who calls themselves Spartacus. Because it’s anonymous, I can’t contact them to ask for permission to publish. So I hesitated for a while, but it’s simply the best document I’ve seen on Covid, vaccines, etc. Whoever Spartacus is, they have a very elaborate knowledge in “the field”. If you want to know a lot more about the no. 1 issue in the world today, read it. And don’t worry if you don’t understand every single word, neither do I. But I learned a lot. The original PDF doc is here: Covid19 – The Spartacus Letter Hello, My name is Spartacus, and I’ve had enough. We have been forced to watch America and the Free World spin into inexorable decline due to a biowarfare attack. We, along with countless others, have been victimized and gaslit by propaganda and psychological warfare operations being conducted by an unelected, unaccountable Elite against the American people and our allies. Our mental and physical health have suffered immensely over the course of the past year and a half. We have felt the sting of isolation, lockdown, masking, quarantines, and other completely nonsensical acts of healthcare theater that have done absolutely nothing to protect the health or wellbeing of the public from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Now, we are watching the medical establishment inject literal poison into millions of our fellow Americans without so much as a fight. We have been told that we will be fired and denied our livelihoods if we refuse to vaccinate. This was the last straw. We have spent thousands of hours analyzing leaked footage from Wuhan, scientific papers from primary sources, as well as the paper trails left by the medical establishment. What we have discovered would shock anyone to their core. First, we will summarize our findings, and then, we will explain them in detail. References will be placed at the end. Summary: COVID-19 is a blood and blood vessel disease. SARS-CoV-2 infects the lining of human blood vessels, causing them to leak into the lungs. Current treatment protocols (e.g. invasive ventilation) are actively harmful to patients, accelerating oxidative stress and causing severe VILI (ventilator-induced lung injuries). The continued use of ventilators in the absence of any proven medical benefit constitutes mass murder. Existing countermeasures are inadequate to slow the spread of what is an aerosolized and potentially wastewater-borne virus, and constitute a form of medical theater. Various non-vaccine interventions have been suppressed by both the media and the medical establishment in favor of vaccines and expensive patented drugs. The authorities have denied the usefulness of natural immunity against COVID-19, despite the fact that natural immunity confers protection against all of the virus’s proteins, and not just one. Vaccines will do more harm than good. The antigen that these vaccines are based on, SARS-CoV- 2 Spike, is a toxic protein. SARS-CoV-2 may have ADE, or antibody-dependent enhancement; current antibodies may not neutralize future strains, but instead help them infect immune cells. Also, vaccinating during a pandemic with a leaky vaccine removes the evolutionary pressure for a virus to become less lethal. There is a vast and appalling criminal conspiracy that directly links both Anthony Fauci and Moderna to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. COVID-19 vaccine researchers are directly linked to scientists involved in brain-computer interface (“neural lace”) tech, one of whom was indicted for taking grant money from China. Independent researchers have discovered mysterious nanoparticles inside the vaccines that are not supposed to be present. The entire pandemic is being used as an excuse for a vast political and economic transformation of Western society that will enrich the already rich and turn the rest of us into serfs and untouchables. COVID-19 Pathophysiology and Treatments: COVID-19 is not a viral pneumonia. It is a viral vascular endotheliitis and attacks the lining of blood vessels, particularly the small pulmonary alveolar capillaries, leading to endothelial cell activation and sloughing, coagulopathy, sepsis, pulmonary edema, and ARDS-like symptoms. This is a disease of the blood and blood vessels. The circulatory system. Any pneumonia that it causes is secondary to that. In severe cases, this leads to sepsis, blood clots, and multiple organ failure, including hypoxic and inflammatory damage to various vital organs, such as the brain, heart, liver, pancreas, kidneys, and intestines. Some of the most common laboratory findings in COVID-19 are elevated D-dimer, elevated prothrombin time, elevated C-reactive protein, neutrophilia, lymphopenia, hypocalcemia, and hyperferritinemia, essentially matching a profile of coagulopathy and immune system hyperactivation/immune cell exhaustion. COVID-19 can present as almost anything, due to the wide tropism of SARS-CoV-2 for various tissues in the body’s vital organs. While its most common initial presentation is respiratory illness and flu-like symptoms, it can present as brain inflammation, gastrointestinal disease, or even heart attack or pulmonary embolism. COVID-19 is more severe in those with specific comorbidities, such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. This is because these conditions involve endothelial dysfunction, which renders the circulatory system more susceptible to infection and injury by this particular virus. The vast majority of COVID-19 cases are mild and do not cause significant disease. In known cases, there is something known as the 80/20 rule, where 80% of cases are mild and 20% are severe or critical. However, this ratio is only correct for known cases, not all infections. The number of actual infections is much, much higher. Consequently, the mortality and morbidity rate is lower. However, COVID-19 spreads very quickly, meaning that there are a significant number of severely-ill and critically-ill patients appearing in a short time frame. In those who have critical COVID-19-induced sepsis, hypoxia, coagulopathy, and ARDS, the most common treatments are intubation, injected corticosteroids, and blood thinners. This is not the correct treatment for COVID-19. In severe hypoxia, cellular metabolic shifts cause ATP to break down into hypoxanthine, which, upon the reintroduction of oxygen, causes xanthine oxidase to produce tons of highly damaging radicals that attack tissue. This is called ischemia-reperfusion injury, and it’s why the majority of people who go on a ventilator are dying. In the mitochondria, succinate buildup due to sepsis does the same exact thing; when oxygen is reintroduced, it makes superoxide radicals. Make no mistake, intubation will kill people who have COVID-19. The end-stage of COVID-19 is severe lipid peroxidation, where fats in the body start to “rust” due to damage by oxidative stress. This drives autoimmunity. Oxidized lipids appear as foreign objects to the immune system, which recognizes and forms antibodies against OSEs, or oxidation-specific epitopes. Also, oxidized lipids feed directly into pattern recognition receptors, triggering even more inflammation and summoning even more cells of the innate immune system that release even more destructive enzymes. This is similar to the pathophysiology of Lupus. COVID-19’s pathology is dominated by extreme oxidative stress and neutrophil respiratory burst, to the point where hemoglobin becomes incapable of carrying oxygen due to heme iron being stripped out of heme by hypochlorous acid. No amount of supplemental oxygen can oxygenate blood that chemically refuses to bind O2. The breakdown of the pathology is as follows: SARS-CoV-2 Spike binds to ACE2. Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 is an enzyme that is part of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, or RAAS. The RAAS is a hormone control system that moderates fluid volume in the body and in the bloodstream (i.e. osmolarity) by controlling salt retention and excretion. This protein, ACE2, is ubiquitous in every part of the body that interfaces with the circulatory system, particularly in vascular endothelial cells and pericytes, brain astrocytes, renal tubules and podocytes, pancreatic islet cells, bile duct and intestinal epithelial cells, and the seminiferous ducts of the testis, all of which SARS-CoV-2 can infect, not just the lungs. SARS-CoV-2 infects a cell as follows: SARS-CoV-2 Spike undergoes a conformational change where the S1 trimers flip up and extend, locking onto ACE2 bound to the surface of a cell. TMPRSS2, or transmembrane protease serine 2, comes along and cuts off the heads of the Spike, exposing the S2 stalk-shaped subunit inside. The remainder of the Spike undergoes a conformational change that causes it to unfold like an extension ladder, embedding itself in the cell membrane. Then, it folds back upon itself, pulling the viral membrane and the cell membrane together. The two membranes fuse, with the virus’s proteins migrating out onto the surface of the cell. The SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid enters the cell, disgorging its genetic material and beginning the viral replication process, hijacking the cell’s own structures to produce more virus. SARS-CoV-2 Spike proteins embedded in a cell can actually cause human cells to fuse together, forming syncytia/MGCs (multinuclear giant cells). They also have other pathogenic, harmful effects. SARS-CoV- 2’s viroporins, such as its Envelope protein, act as calcium ion channels, introducing calcium into infected cells. The virus suppresses the natural interferon response, resulting in delayed inflammation. SARS-CoV-2 N protein can also directly activate the NLRP3 inflammasome. Also, it suppresses the Nrf2 antioxidant pathway. The suppression of ACE2 by binding with Spike causes a buildup of bradykinin that would otherwise be broken down by ACE2. This constant calcium influx into the cells results in (or is accompanied by) noticeable hypocalcemia, or low blood calcium, especially in people with Vitamin D deficiencies and pre-existing endothelial dysfunction. Bradykinin upregulates cAMP, cGMP, COX, and Phospholipase C activity. This results in prostaglandin release and vastly increased intracellular calcium signaling, which promotes highly aggressive ROS release and ATP depletion. NADPH oxidase releases superoxide into the extracellular space. Superoxide radicals react with nitric oxide to form peroxynitrite. Peroxynitrite reacts with the tetrahydrobiopterin cofactor needed by endothelial nitric oxide synthase, destroying it and “uncoupling” the enzymes, causing nitric oxide synthase to synthesize more superoxide instead. This proceeds in a positive feedback loop until nitric oxide bioavailability in the circulatory system is depleted. Dissolved nitric oxide gas produced constantly by eNOS serves many important functions, but it is also antiviral against SARS-like coronaviruses, preventing the palmitoylation of the viral Spike protein and making it harder for it to bind to host receptors. The loss of NO allows the virus to begin replicating with impunity in the body. Those with endothelial dysfunction (i.e. hypertension, diabetes, obesity, old age, African-American race) have redox equilibrium issues to begin with, giving the virus an advantage. Due to the extreme cytokine release triggered by these processes, the body summons a great deal of neutrophils and monocyte-derived alveolar macrophages to the lungs. Cells of the innate immune system are the first-line defenders against pathogens. They work by engulfing invaders and trying to attack them with enzymes that produce powerful oxidants, like SOD and MPO. Superoxide dismutase takes superoxide and makes hydrogen peroxide, and myeloperoxidase takes hydrogen peroxide and chlorine ions and makes hypochlorous acid, which is many, many times more reactive than sodium hypochlorite bleach. Neutrophils have a nasty trick. They can also eject these enzymes into the extracellular space, where they will continuously spit out peroxide and bleach into the bloodstream. This is called neutrophil extracellular trap formation, or, when it becomes pathogenic and counterproductive, NETosis. In severe and critical COVID-19, there is actually rather severe NETosis. Hypochlorous acid building up in the bloodstream begins to bleach the iron out of heme and compete for O2 binding sites. Red blood cells lose the ability to transport oxygen, causing the sufferer to turn blue in the face. Unliganded iron, hydrogen peroxide, and superoxide in the bloodstream undergo the Haber- Weiss and Fenton reactions, producing extremely reactive hydroxyl radicals that violently strip electrons from surrounding fats and DNA, oxidizing them severely. This condition is not unknown to medical science. The actual name for all of this is acute sepsis. We know this is happening in COVID-19 because people who have died of the disease have noticeable ferroptosis signatures in their tissues, as well as various other oxidative stress markers such as nitrotyrosine, 4-HNE, and malondialdehyde. When you intubate someone with this condition, you are setting off a free radical bomb by supplying the cells with O2. It’s a catch-22, because we need oxygen to make Adenosine Triphosphate (that is, to live), but O2 is also the precursor of all these damaging radicals that lead to lipid peroxidation. The correct treatment for severe COVID-19 related sepsis is non-invasive ventilation, steroids, and antioxidant infusions. Most of the drugs repurposed for COVID-19 that show any benefit whatsoever in rescuing critically-ill COVID-19 patients are antioxidants. N-acetylcysteine, melatonin, fluvoxamine, budesonide, famotidine, cimetidine, and ranitidine are all antioxidants. Indomethacin prevents iron- driven oxidation of arachidonic acid to isoprostanes. There are powerful antioxidants such as apocynin that have not even been tested on COVID-19 patients yet which could defang neutrophils, prevent lipid peroxidation, restore endothelial health, and restore oxygenation to the tissues. Scientists who know anything about pulmonary neutrophilia, ARDS, and redox biology have known or surmised much of this since March 2020. In April 2020, Swiss scientists confirmed that COVID-19 was a vascular endotheliitis. By late 2020, experts had already concluded that COVID-19 causes a form of viral sepsis. They also know that sepsis can be effectively treated with antioxidants. None of this information is particularly new, and yet, for the most part, it has not been acted upon. Doctors continue to use damaging intubation techniques with high PEEP settings despite high lung compliance and poor oxygenation, killing an untold number of critically ill patients with medical malpractice. Because of the way they are constructed, Randomized Control Trials will never show any benefit for any antiviral against COVID-19. Not Remdesivir, not Kaletra, not HCQ, and not Ivermectin. The reason for this is simple; for the patients that they have recruited for these studies, such as Oxford’s ludicrous RECOVERY study, the intervention is too late to have any positive effect. The clinical course of COVID-19 is such that by the time most people seek medical attention for hypoxia, their viral load has already tapered off to almost nothing. If someone is about 10 days post-exposure and has already been symptomatic for five days, there is hardly any virus left in their bodies, only cellular damage and derangement that has initiated a hyperinflammatory response. It is from this group that the clinical trials for antivirals have recruited, pretty much exclusively. In these trials, they give antivirals to severely ill patients who have no virus in their bodies, only a delayed hyperinflammatory response, and then absurdly claim that antivirals have no utility in treating or preventing COVID-19. These clinical trials do not recruit people who are pre-symptomatic. They do not test pre-exposure or post-exposure prophylaxis. This is like using a defibrillator to shock only flatline, and then absurdly claiming that defibrillators have no medical utility whatsoever when the patients refuse to rise from the dead. The intervention is too late. These trials for antivirals show systematic, egregious selection bias. They are providing a treatment that is futile to the specific cohort they are enrolling. India went against the instructions of the WHO and mandated the prophylactic usage of Ivermectin. They have almost completely eradicated COVID-19. The Indian Bar Association of Mumbai has brought criminal charges against WHO Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan for recommending against the use of Ivermectin. Ivermectin is not “horse dewormer”. Yes, it is sold in veterinary paste form as a dewormer for animals. It has also been available in pill form for humans for decades, as an antiparasitic drug. The media have disingenuously claimed that because Ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug, it has no utility as an antivirus. This is incorrect. Ivermectin has utility as an antiviral. It blocks importin, preventing nuclear import, effectively inhibiting viral access to cell nuclei. Many drugs currently on the market have multiple modes of action. Ivermectin is one such drug. It is both antiparasitic and antiviral. In Bangladesh, Ivermectin costs $1.80 for an entire 5-day course. Remdesivir, which is toxic to the liver, costs $3,120 for a 5-day course of the drug. Billions of dollars of utterly useless Remdesivir were sold to our governments on the taxpayer’s dime, and it ended up being totally useless for treating hyperinflammatory COVID-19. The media has hardly even covered this at all. The opposition to the use of generic Ivermectin is not based in science. It is purely financially and politically-motivated. An effective non-vaccine intervention would jeopardize the rushed FDA approval of patented vaccines and medicines for which the pharmaceutical industry stands to rake in billions upon billions of dollars in sales on an ongoing basis. The majority of the public are scientifically illiterate and cannot grasp what any of this even means, thanks to a pathetic educational system that has miseducated them. You would be lucky to find 1 in 100 people who have even the faintest clue what any of this actually means. COVID-19 Transmission: COVID-19 is airborne. The WHO carried water for China by claiming that the virus was only droplet- borne. Our own CDC absurdly claimed that it was mostly transmitted by fomite-to-face contact, which, given its rapid spread from Wuhan to the rest of the world, would have been physically impossible. The ridiculous belief in fomite-to-face being a primary mode of transmission led to the use of surface disinfection protocols that wasted time, energy, productivity, and disinfectant. The 6-foot guidelines are absolutely useless. The minimum safe distance to protect oneself from an aerosolized virus is to be 15+ feet away from an infected person, no closer. Realistically, no public transit is safe. Surgical masks do not protect you from aerosols. The virus is too small and the filter media has too large of gaps to filter it out. They may catch respiratory droplets and keep the virus from being expelled by someone who is sick, but they do not filter a cloud of infectious aerosols if someone were to walk into said cloud. The minimum level of protection against this virus is quite literally a P100 respirator, a PAPR/CAPR, or a 40mm NATO CBRN respirator, ideally paired with a full-body tyvek or tychem suit, gloves, and booties, with all the holes and gaps taped. Live SARS-CoV-2 may potentially be detected in sewage outflows, and there may be oral-fecal transmission. During the SARS outbreak in 2003, in the Amoy Gardens incident, hundreds of people were infected by aerosolized fecal matter rising from floor drains in their apartments. COVID-19 Vaccine Dangers: The vaccines for COVID-19 are not sterilizing and do not prevent infection or transmission. They are “leaky” vaccines. This means they remove the evolutionary pressure on the virus to become less lethal. It also means that the vaccinated are perfect carriers. In other words, those who are vaccinated are a threat to the unvaccinated, not the other way around. All of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in use have undergone minimal testing, with highly accelerated clinical trials. Though they appear to limit severe illness, the long-term safety profile of these vaccines remains unknown. Some of these so-called “vaccines” utilize an untested new technology that has never been used in vaccines before. Traditional vaccines use weakened or killed virus to stimulate an immune response. The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines do not. They are purported to consist of an intramuscular shot containing a suspension of lipid nanoparticles filled with messenger RNA. The way they generate an immune response is by fusing with cells in a vaccine recipient’s shoulder, undergoing endocytosis, releasing their mRNA cargo into those cells, and then utilizing the ribosomes in those cells to synthesize modified SARS-CoV-2 Spike proteins in-situ. These modified Spike proteins then migrate to the surface of the cell, where they are anchored in place by a transmembrane domain. The adaptive immune system detects the non-human viral protein being expressed by these cells, and then forms antibodies against that protein. This is purported to confer protection against the virus, by training the adaptive immune system to recognize and produce antibodies against the Spike on the actual virus. The J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines do something similar, but use an adenovirus vector for genetic material delivery instead of a lipid nanoparticle. These vaccines were produced or validated with the aid of fetal cell lines HEK-293 and PER.C6, which people with certain religious convictions may object strongly to. SARS-CoV-2 Spike is a highly pathogenic protein on its own. It is impossible to overstate the danger presented by introducing this protein into the human body. It is claimed by vaccine manufacturers that the vaccine remains in cells in the shoulder, and that SARS- CoV-2 Spike produced and expressed by these cells from the vaccine’s genetic material is harmless and inert, thanks to the insertion of prolines in the Spike sequence to stabilize it in the prefusion conformation, preventing the Spike from becoming active and fusing with other cells. However, a pharmacokinetic study from Japan showed that the lipid nanoparticles and mRNA from the Pfizer vaccine did not stay in the shoulder, and in fact bioaccumulated in many different organs, including the reproductive organs and adrenal glands, meaning that modified Spike is being expressed quite literally all over the place. These lipid nanoparticles may trigger anaphylaxis in an unlucky few, but far more concerning is the unregulated expression of Spike in various somatic cell lines far from the injection site and the unknown consequences of that. Messenger RNA is normally consumed right after it is produced in the body, being translated into a protein by a ribosome. COVID-19 vaccine mRNA is produced outside the body, long before a ribosome translates it. In the meantime, it could accumulate damage if inadequately preserved. When a ribosome attempts to translate a damaged strand of mRNA, it can become stalled. When this happens, the ribosome becomes useless for translating proteins because it now has a piece of mRNA stuck in it, like a lace card in an old punch card reader. The whole thing has to be cleaned up and new ribosomes synthesized to replace it. In cells with low ribosome turnover, like nerve cells, this can lead to reduced protein synthesis, cytopathic effects, and neuropathies. Certain proteins, including SARS-CoV-2 Spike, have proteolytic cleavage sites that are basically like little dotted lines that say “cut here”, which attract a living organism’s own proteases (essentially, molecular scissors) to cut them. There is a possibility that S1 may be proteolytically cleaved from S2, causing active S1 to float away into the bloodstream while leaving the S2 “stalk” embedded in the membrane of the cell that expressed the protein. SARS-CoV-2 Spike has a Superantigenic region (SAg), which may promote extreme inflammation. Anti-Spike antibodies were found in one study to function as autoantibodies and attack the body’s own cells. Those who have been immunized with COVID-19 vaccines have developed blood clots, myocarditis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Bell’s Palsy, and multiple sclerosis flares, indicating that the vaccine promotes autoimmune reactions against healthy tissue. SARS-CoV-2 Spike does not only bind to ACE2. It was suspected to have regions that bind to basigin, integrins, neuropilin-1, and bacterial lipopolysaccharides as well. SARS-CoV-2 Spike, on its own, can potentially bind any of these things and act as a ligand for them, triggering unspecified and likely highly inflammatory cellular activity. SARS-CoV-2 Spike contains an unusual PRRA insert that forms a furin cleavage site. Furin is a ubiquitous human protease, making this an ideal property for the Spike to have, giving it a high degree of cell tropism. No wild-type SARS-like coronaviruses related to SARS-CoV-2 possess this feature, making it highly suspicious, and perhaps a sign of human tampering. SARS-CoV-2 Spike has a prion-like domain that enhances its infectiousness. The Spike S1 RBD may bind to heparin-binding proteins and promote amyloid aggregation. In humans, this could lead to Parkinson’s, Lewy Body Dementia, premature Alzheimer’s, or various other neurodegenerative diseases. This is very concerning because SARS-CoV-2 S1 is capable of injuring and penetrating the blood-brain barrier and entering the brain. It is also capable of increasing the permeability of the blood-brain barrier to other molecules. SARS-CoV-2, like other betacoronaviruses, may have Dengue-like ADE, or antibody-dependent enhancement of disease. For those who aren’t aware, some viruses, including betacoronaviruses, have a feature called ADE. There is also something called Original Antigenic Sin, which is the observation that the body prefers to produce antibodies based on previously-encountered strains of a virus over newly- encountered ones. In ADE, antibodies from a previous infection become non-neutralizing due to mutations in the virus’s proteins. These non-neutralizing antibodies then act as trojan horses, allowing live, active virus to be pulled into macrophages through their Fc receptor pathways, allowing the virus to infect immune cells that it would not have been able to infect before. This has been known to happen with Dengue Fever; when someone gets sick with Dengue, recovers, and then contracts a different strain, they can get very, very ill. If someone is vaccinated with mRNA based on the Spike from the initial Wuhan strain of SARS-CoV-2, and then they become infected with a future, mutated strain of the virus, they may become severely ill. In other words, it is possible for vaccines to sensitize someone to disease. There is a precedent for this in recent history. Sanofi’s Dengvaxia vaccine for Dengue failed because it caused immune sensitization in people whose immune systems were Dengue-naive. In mice immunized against SARS-CoV and challenged with the virus, a close relative of SARS-CoV-2, they developed immune sensitization, Th2 immunopathology, and eosinophil infiltration in their lungs. We have been told that SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines cannot be integrated into the human genome, because messenger RNA cannot be turned back into DNA. This is false. There are elements in human cells called LINE-1 retrotransposons, which can indeed integrate mRNA into a human genome by endogenous reverse transcription. Because the mRNA used in the vaccines is stabilized, it hangs around in cells longer, increasing the chances for this to happen. If the gene for SARS-CoV-2 Spike is integrated into a portion of the genome that is not silent and actually expresses a protein, it is possible that people who take this vaccine may continuously express SARS-CoV-2 Spike from their somatic cells for the rest of their lives. By inoculating people with a vaccine that causes their bodies to produce Spike in-situ, they are being inoculated with a pathogenic protein. A toxin that may cause long-term inflammation, heart problems, and a raised risk of cancers. In the long-term, it may also potentially lead to premature neurodegenerative disease. Absolutely nobody should be compelled to take this vaccine under any circumstances, and in actual fact, the vaccination campaign must be stopped immediately. COVID-19 Criminal Conspiracy: The vaccine and the virus were made by the same people. In 2014, there was a moratorium on SARS gain-of-function research that lasted until 2017. This research was not halted. Instead, it was outsourced, with the federal grants being laundered through NGOs. Ralph Baric is a virologist and SARS expert at UNC Chapel Hill in North Carolina. This is who Anthony Fauci was referring to when he insisted, before Congress, that if any gain-of-function research was being conducted, it was being conducted in North Carolina. This was a lie. Anthony Fauci lied before Congress. A felony. Ralph Baric and Shi Zhengli are colleagues and have co-written papers together. Ralph Baric mentored Shi Zhengli in his gain-of-function manipulation techniques, particularly serial passage, which results in a virus that appears as if it originated naturally. In other words, deniable bioweapons. Serial passage in humanized hACE2 mice may have produced something like SARS-CoV-2. The funding for the gain-of-function research being conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology came from Peter Daszak. Peter Daszak runs an NGO called EcoHealth Alliance. EcoHealth Alliance received millions of dollars in grant money from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (that is, Anthony Fauci), the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (part of the US Department of Defense), and the United States Agency for International Development. NIH/NIAID contributed a few million dollars, and DTRA and USAID each contributed tens of millions of dollars towards this research. Altogether, it was over a hundred million dollars. EcoHealth Alliance subcontracted these grants to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a lab in China with a very questionable safety record and poorly trained staff, so that they could conduct gain-of-function research, not in their fancy P4 lab, but in a level-2 lab where technicians wore nothing more sophisticated than perhaps a hairnet, latex gloves, and a surgical mask, instead of the bubble suits used when working with dangerous viruses. Chinese scientists in Wuhan reported being routinely bitten and urinated on by laboratory animals. Why anyone would outsource this dangerous and delicate work to the People’s Republic of China, a country infamous for industrial accidents and massive explosions that have claimed hundreds of lives, is completely beyond me, unless the aim was to start a pandemic on purpose. In November of 2019, three technicians at the Wuhan Institute of Virology developed symptoms consistent with a flu-like illness. Anthony Fauci, Peter Daszak, and Ralph Baric knew at once what had happened, because back channels exist between this laboratory and our scientists and officials. December 12th, 2019, Ralph Baric signed a Material Transfer Agreement (essentially, an NDA) to receive Coronavirus mRNA vaccine-related materials co-owned by Moderna and NIH. It wasn’t until a whole month later, on January 11th, 2020, that China allegedly sent us the sequence to what would become known as SARS-CoV-2. Moderna claims, rather absurdly, that they developed a working vaccine from this sequence in under 48 hours. Stephane Bancel, the current CEO of Moderna, was formerly the CEO of bioMerieux, a French multinational corporation specializing in medical diagnostic tech, founded by one Alain Merieux. Alain Merieux was one of the individuals who was instrumental in the construction of the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s P4 lab. The sequence given as the closest relative to SARS-CoV-2, RaTG13, is not a real virus. It is a forgery. It was made by entering a gene sequence by hand into a database, to create a cover story for the existence of SARS-CoV-2, which is very likely a gain-of-function chimera produced at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and was either leaked by accident or intentionally released. The animal reservoir of SARS-CoV-2 has never been found. This is not a conspiracy “theory”. It is an actual criminal conspiracy, in which people connected to the development of Moderna’s mRNA-1273 are directly connected to the Wuhan Institute of Virology and their gain-of-function research by very few degrees of separation, if any. The paper trail is well- established. The lab-leak theory has been suppressed because pulling that thread leads one to inevitably conclude that there is enough circumstantial evidence to link Moderna, the NIH, the WIV, and both the vaccine and the virus’s creation together. In a sane country, this would have immediately led to the world’s biggest RICO and mass murder case. Anthony Fauci, Peter Daszak, Ralph Baric, Shi Zhengli, and Stephane Bancel, and their accomplices, would have been indicted and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Instead, billions of our tax dollars were awarded to the perpetrators. The FBI raided Allure Medical in Shelby Township north of Detroit for billing insurance for “fraudulent COVID-19 cures”. The treatment they were using? Intravenous Vitamin C. An antioxidant. Which, as described above, is an entirely valid treatment for COVID-19-induced sepsis, and indeed, is now part of the MATH+ protocol advanced by Dr. Paul E. Marik. The FDA banned ranitidine (Zantac) due to supposed NDMA (N-nitrosodimethylamine) contamination. Ranitidine is not only an H2 blocker used as antacid, but also has a powerful antioxidant effect, scavenging hydroxyl radicals. This gives it utility in treating COVID-19. The FDA also attempted to take N-acetylcysteine, a harmless amino acid supplement and antioxidant, off the shelves, compelling Amazon to remove it from their online storefront. This leaves us with a chilling question: did the FDA knowingly suppress antioxidants useful for treating COVID-19 sepsis as part of a criminal conspiracy against the American public? The establishment is cooperating with, and facilitating, the worst criminals in human history, and are actively suppressing non-vaccine treatments and therapies in order to compel us to inject these criminals’ products into our bodies. This is absolutely unacceptable. COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Links to Transhumanism: This section deals with some more speculative aspects of the pandemic and the medical and scientific establishment’s reaction to it, as well as the disturbing links between scientists involved in vaccine research and scientists whose work involved merging nanotechnology with living cells. On June 9th, 2020, Charles Lieber, a Harvard nanotechnology researcher with decades of experience, was indicted by the DOJ for fraud. Charles Lieber received millions of dollars in grant money from the US Department of Defense, specifically the military think tanks DARPA, AFOSR, and ONR, as well as NIH and MITRE. His specialty is the use of silicon nanowires in lieu of patch clamp electrodes to monitor and modulate intracellular activity, something he has been working on at Harvard for the past twenty years. He was claimed to have been working on silicon nanowire batteries in China, but none of his colleagues can recall him ever having worked on battery technology in his life; all of his research deals with bionanotechnology, or the blending of nanotech with living cells. The indictment was over his collaboration with the Wuhan University of Technology. He had double- dipped, against the terms of his DOD grants, and taken money from the PRC’s Thousand Talents plan, a program which the Chinese government uses to bribe Western scientists into sharing proprietary R&D information that can be exploited by the PLA for strategic advantage. Charles Lieber’s own papers describe the use of silicon nanowires for brain-computer interfaces, or “neural lace” technology. His papers describe how neurons can endocytose whole silicon nanowires or parts of them, monitoring and even modulating neuronal activity. Charles Lieber was a colleague of Robert Langer. Together, along with Daniel S. Kohane, they worked on a paper describing artificial tissue scaffolds that could be implanted in a human heart to monitor its activity remotely. Robert Langer, an MIT alumnus and expert in nanotech drug delivery, is one of the co-founders of Moderna. His net worth is now $5.1 billion USD thanks to Moderna’s mRNA-1273 vaccine sales. Both Charles Lieber and Robert Langer’s bibliographies describe, essentially, techniques for human enhancement, i.e. transhumanism. Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum and the architect behind the so-called “Great Reset”, has long spoken of the “blending of biology and machinery” in his books. Since these revelations, it has come to the attention of independent researchers that the COVID-19 vaccines may contain reduced graphene oxide nanoparticles. Japanese researchers have also found unexplained contaminants in COVID-19 vaccines. Graphene oxide is an anxiolytic. It has been shown to reduce the anxiety of laboratory mice when injected into their brains. Indeed, given SARS-CoV-2 Spike’s propensity to compromise the blood-brain barrier and increase its permeability, it is the perfect protein for preparing brain tissue for extravasation of nanoparticles from the bloodstream and into the brain. Graphene is also highly conductive and, in some circumstances, paramagnetic. In 2013, under the Obama administration, DARPA launched the BRAIN Initiative; BRAIN is an acronym for Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies®. This program involves the development of brain-computer interface technologies for the military, particularly non-invasive, injectable systems that cause minimal damage to brain tissue when removed. Supposedly, this technology would be used for healing wounded soldiers with traumatic brain injuries, the direct brain control of prosthetic limbs, and even new abilities such as controlling drones with one’s mind. Various methods have been proposed for achieving this, including optogenetics, magnetogenetics, ultrasound, implanted electrodes, and transcranial electromagnetic stimulation. In all instances, the goal is to obtain read or read-write capability over neurons, either by stimulating and probing them, or by rendering them especially sensitive to stimulation and probing. However, the notion of the widespread use of BCI technology, such as Elon Musk’s Neuralink device, raises many concerns over privacy and personal autonomy. Reading from neurons is problematic enough on its own. Wireless brain-computer interfaces may interact with current or future wireless GSM infrastructure, creating neurological data security concerns. A hacker or other malicious actor may compromise such networks to obtain people’s brain data, and then exploit it for nefarious purposes. However, a device capable of writing to human neurons, not just reading from them, presents another, even more serious set of ethical concerns. A BCI that is capable of altering the contents of one’s mind for innocuous purposes, such as projecting a heads-up display onto their brain’s visual center or sending audio into one’s auditory cortex, would also theoretically be capable of altering mood and personality, or perhaps even subjugating someone’s very will, rendering them utterly obedient to authority. This technology would be a tyrant’s wet dream. Imagine soldiers who would shoot their own countrymen without hesitation, or helpless serfs who are satisfied to live in literal dog kennels. BCIs could be used to unscrupulously alter perceptions of basic things such as emotions and values, changing people’s thresholds of satiety, happiness, anger, disgust, and so forth. This is not inconsequential. Someone’s entire regime of behaviors could be altered by a BCI, including such things as suppressing their appetite or desire for virtually anything on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Anything is possible when you have direct access to someone’s brain and its contents. Someone who is obese could be made to feel disgust at the sight of food. Someone who is involuntarily celibate could have their libido disabled so they don’t even desire sex to begin with. Someone who is racist could be forced to feel delight over cohabiting with people of other races. Someone who is violent could be forced to be meek and submissive. These things might sound good to you if you are a tyrant, but to normal people, the idea of personal autonomy being overridden to such a degree is appalling. For the wealthy, neural laces would be an unequaled boon, giving them the opportunity to enhance their intelligence with neuroprosthetics (i.e. an “exocortex”), and to deliver irresistible commands directly into the minds of their BCI-augmented servants, even physically or sexually abusive commands that they would normally refuse. If the vaccine is a method to surreptitiously introduce an injectable BCI into millions of people without their knowledge or consent, then what we are witnessing is the rise of a tyrannical regime unlike anything ever seen before on the face of this planet, one that fully intends to strip every man, woman, and child of our free will. Our flaws are what make us human. A utopia arrived at by removing people’s free will is not a utopia at all. It is a monomaniacal nightmare. Furthermore, the people who rule over us are Dark Triad types who cannot be trusted with such power. Imagine being beaten and sexually assaulted by a wealthy and powerful psychopath and being forced to smile and laugh over it because your neural lace gives you no choice but to obey your master. The Elites are forging ahead with this technology without giving people any room to question the social or ethical ramifications, or to establish regulatory frameworks that ensure that our personal agency and autonomy will not be overridden by these devices. They do this because they secretly dream of a future where they can treat you worse than an animal and you cannot even fight back. If this evil plan is allowed to continue, it will spell the end of humanity as we know it. Conclusions: The current pandemic was produced and perpetuated by the establishment, through the use of a virus engineered in a PLA-connected Chinese biowarfare laboratory, with the aid of American taxpayer dollars and French expertise. This research was conducted under the absolutely ridiculous euphemism of “gain-of-function” research, which is supposedly carried out in order to determine which viruses have the highest potential for zoonotic spillover and preemptively vaccinate or guard against them. Gain-of-function/gain-of-threat research, a.k.a. “Dual-Use Research of Concern”, or DURC, is bioweapon research by another, friendlier-sounding name, simply to avoid the taboo of calling it what it actually is. It has always been bioweapon research. The people who are conducting this research fully understand that they are taking wild pathogens that are not infectious in humans and making them more infectious, often taking grants from military think tanks encouraging them to do so. These virologists conducting this type of research are enemies of their fellow man, like pyromaniac firefighters. GOF research has never protected anyone from any pandemic. In fact, it has now started one, meaning its utility for preventing pandemics is actually negative. It should have been banned globally, and the lunatics performing it should have been put in straitjackets long ago. Either through a leak or an intentional release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a deadly SARS strain is now endemic across the globe, after the WHO and CDC and public officials first downplayed the risks, and then intentionally incited a panic and lockdowns that jeopardized people’s health and their livelihoods. This was then used by the utterly depraved and psychopathic aristocratic class who rule over us as an excuse to coerce people into accepting an injected poison which may be a depopulation agent, a mind control/pacification agent in the form of injectable “smart dust”, or both in one. They believe they can get away with this by weaponizing the social stigma of vaccine refusal. They are incorrect. Their motives are clear and obvious to anyone who has been paying attention. These megalomaniacs have raided the pension funds of the free world. Wall Street is insolvent and has had an ongoing liquidity crisis since the end of 2019. The aim now is to exert total, full-spectrum physical, mental, and financial control over humanity before we realize just how badly we’ve been extorted by these maniacs. The pandemic and its response served multiple purposes for the Elite: Concealing a depression brought on by the usurious plunder of our economies conducted by rentier-capitalists and absentee owners who produce absolutely nothing of any value to society whatsoever. Instead of us having a very predictable Occupy Wall Street Part II, the Elites and their stooges got to stand up on television and paint themselves as wise and all-powerful saviors instead of the marauding cabal of despicable land pirates that they are. Destroying small businesses and eroding the middle class. Transferring trillions of dollars of wealth from the American public and into the pockets of billionaires and special interests. Engaging in insider trading, buying stock in biotech companies and shorting brick-and-mortar businesses and travel companies, with the aim of collapsing face-to-face commerce and tourism and replacing it with e-commerce and servitization. Creating a casus belli for war with China, encouraging us to attack them, wasting American lives and treasure and driving us to the brink of nuclear armageddon. Establishing technological and biosecurity frameworks for population control and technocratic- socialist “smart cities” where everyone’s movements are despotically tracked, all in anticipation of widespread automation, joblessness, and food shortages, by using the false guise of a vaccine to compel cooperation. Any one of these things would constitute a vicious rape of Western society. Taken together, they beggar belief; they are a complete inversion of our most treasured values. What is the purpose of all of this? One can only speculate as to the perpetrators’ motives, however, we have some theories. The Elites are trying to pull up the ladder, erase upward mobility for large segments of the population, cull political opponents and other “undesirables”, and put the remainder of humanity on a tight leash, rationing our access to certain goods and services that they have deemed “high-impact”, such as automobile use, tourism, meat consumption, and so on. Naturally, they will continue to have their own luxuries, as part of a strict caste system akin to feudalism. Why are they doing this? Simple. The Elites are Neo-Malthusians and believe that we are overpopulated and that resource depletion will collapse civilization in a matter of a few short decades. They are not necessarily incorrect in this belief. We are overpopulated, and we are consuming too many resources. However, orchestrating such a gruesome and murderous power grab in response to a looming crisis demonstrates that they have nothing but the utmost contempt for their fellow man. To those who are participating in this disgusting farce without any understanding of what they are doing, we have one word for you. Stop. You are causing irreparable harm to your country and to your fellow citizens. To those who may be reading this warning and have full knowledge and understanding of what they are doing and how it will unjustly harm millions of innocent people, we have a few more words. Damn you to hell. You will not destroy America and the Free World, and you will not have your New World Order. We will make certain of that. *  *  * This PDF document contains 14 pages, followed by another 17 pages of references. For those, please visit the original PDF file at Covid19 – The Spartacus Letter. *  *  * We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support. Support the Automatic Earth in virustime. Donate with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon. Tyler Durden Mon, 09/27/2021 - 00:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytSep 27th, 2021

I"m in prison and I just had my first contact visit in 500 days. To reduce recidivism, prisons need to prioritize human contact.

The Washington DOC's slogan is "Working Together to Make Communities Safer.'' Now it's time for them to prove it. A visitation requests box in a max-security prison in Louisiana. Getty I'm incarcerated in Washington, and I just had my first contact visit in over 500 days. Studies show that a prisoner's human contact with loved ones makes it easier to reenter society. If correctional departments truly want to avoid recidivism, they should prioritize prison visits. Christopher Blackwell is a writer who is incarcerated at the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe, Washington. This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author. Nervously, I paced, waiting to be called. I wasn't the only one. All of us waiting to be called were anxiously trying to keep ourselves busy, excited to experience what we'd been deprived of for far too long.It had been over 18 months since any of us had contact visits with our loved ones. I was about to see my wife - heart racing, beating fast with anticipation at the thought of finally having her in my arms again. Today, finally, reality was taking over, and seeing her wasn't just a fantasy in my mind anymore. It had been 531 days since our last embrace.How had we gone so long without a single hug or kiss? "What's taking so long? When are they gonna call us?" I thought to myself. The minutes felt like hours, each one harder to sit through than the last. My thoughts were broken by the crack of the intercom speaker. "Powell, Blackwell, Jenson, and James report to the booth for visit," bellowed the distorted speaker. I froze for a second. This was real, I was really about to have Chelsea in my arms again. Reality hit, and I quickly walked towards the door.The walk to the visit room seemed like it would never end. I had to keep reminding myself to just place one foot in front of the other. There were other prisoners walking with me - talking and laughing - but I couldn't make out the majority of what they were saying. I was consumed with the thought of holding her, smelling her scent, and feeling her warm skin pressed tightly against mine after all this time.Still anxious, as if a guard would come out of the building, stop us on the walkway, and tell us visits were cancelled, I continued to walk, speeding up my pace. I needed to get there before our time was taken away again. We've waited for this for so long. We got married at the height of the pandemic in a no-contact prison ceremony. Countless days during the void since we'd last seen each other were spent shedding tears, struggling to maintain our connection, but refusing to drift apart.It was a long and extremely painful struggle - one that's not completely over - and often felt to be too much at times. Over the traumatic period, we continuously reminded each other of all we had to be thankful for, spent hours on the phone, sometimes in silence just to know we were close and in the same "space." Nothing could tear us apart, and we made sure to always remind ourselves of that.Following the other prisoners walking towards the visit room, I approached the door. A guard greeted us. He was respectful, and even tried to crack some jokes. I guess he was trying to lighten the mood. I didn't really hear anything he said, giving a fake laugh and nod, but I was only able to focus on getting through the door to my wife.After being searched by the guard, I was granted access to the room where my wife now sat waiting, just as anxious as I was.There she was. She was beautiful in her summer dress. Little sparkling strawberries that decorated the dress shimmered in the fluorescent lights. She was always the more stylish one. Her green eyes pulled me in and the wait was over. All the time we had been forced to be apart faded away like it'd never even happened. We were lost, encircled by each other's arms, holding on tight.I'd honestly forgotten what it felt like to be held, to feel her loving heart pressed against mine - at that moment they must have been beating in rhythm, because everything around me faded away. For a moment, I wasn't in prison. I was lost in our own little world, a world where nothing mattered but us. I had longed for this every day since our last embrace. Holding my wife, I was reminded of just how important another human's touch can be, just how much we had missed over the time spent apart.Looking around the room it was clear everyone felt the same. Kids were climbing on their dads, eyes bright and full of smiles. Parents were laughing as they hugged their sons. The atmosphere was different - this was the first time in a year and a half I'd seen a whole room full of people genuinely happy.Chelsea and I sat down, consumed with each other's presence. We must have said, "I love you" a thousand times. Before long, we were deep in conversation, enjoying the company we'd so dearly missed. Our hands continued to run over the other's, never pulling apart, greedy for any contact we could receive from the other. It quickly felt like the past 18 months had been nothing more than a distant nightmare, our attention only able to feel the moment we were now so thankful to have.The three hours we were given evaporated in what seemed like minutes, and before we knew it, the intercoms were telling everyone, "visits are now closed, please exit the visit room."Sad and struggling to realize we'd be forced to spend another month apart, we stood and held each other. All I wanted to do was follow her out the door, and leave the prison - and all the pain that comes with it - behind. It wasn't easy. Kids were running back to their dads for one last hug, probably confused on why they were forced to part again, but having no choice.Nevertheless, the visit restored a sense of hope. It reaffirmed the spark in us, and reminded us of the feeling we have when we're in each other's company, a connection that's impossible to obtain over the phone or in letters. There's no replacement for human contact. It's essential.And not only is it good for our souls, but in prison, it helps to maintain and lay the foundation necessary to remain positive and on a path to a productive reintegration back into the free world. In a 1997 study, JD Wooldredge found that there are reduced infractions and "diminished perceptions of overcrowding" when prisoners receive visitors.Additionally, studies have found that prisoners who receive visitors are able to better reintegrate into society after incarceration, and are therefore less likely to recidivate."Making the connections we have with our loved ones are not only of extreme value to us, the incarcerated, but to society as a whole. Because of this, it's important to facilitate the development of positive connections between prisoners and their loved ones. Visits in prison shouldn't be a privilege, but a right, and a top goal of Departments of Correction.The Washington DOC can often be heard using the slogan, "Working Together to Make Communities Safer,'' It's time they prove it. The moments I'm able to spend with my loved ones continue to remind me that I'm somebody that's loved and cared for - that my life has meaning and purpose - and knowing that allows me to strive for more: To be the best I can for not only those I love but also myself and my community.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nyt25 min. ago

Philadelphia police will no longer pull people over for minor traffic stops that disproportionately affected Black drivers

Data found Black drivers in accounted for 72% of police stops for vehicle code violations, while only 43% of the city's population is Black. A police officer looks over a car in Philadelphia, Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, that was being driven by a man who police shot and killed during an early morning traffic stop. AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek Several offenses, like improper display of registration, were reclassified under a new bill. Nearly 97% of police vehicle stops are for low-level violations, the Defenders Association said. Philadelphia is the first major US city to ban such stops, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Philadelphia City Council passed two bills that will create a public, searchable database of traffic stops and bar police officers from pulling over drivers for low-level motor vehicle offenses, a tactic that disproportionately impacted Black drivers.One of the bills amended the city's Traffic Code to reclassify seven offenses, including broken taillights and improperly displayed registration stickers, as "secondary violations," The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. If a driver commits a secondary violation, police officers will issue a citation by mail rather than pulling over the offender.Philadelphia is the first major US city to ban such stops, according to The Inquirer."Too many people who look like me, a traffic stop is a rite of passage - we pick out cars, we determine routes, we plan our social interactions around the fact that it is likely that we will be pulled over by police. By removing the traffic stops that promote discrimination rather than public safety, City Council has made our streets safer and more equitable," Philadelphia City Councilmember Isaiah Thomas, author of the Driving Equality bills, said in a statement.Because approximately 97% of police vehicle stops are for low-level violations, the ban could lead to as many as 300,000 fewer police encounters each year, the Defender Association told The Inquirer.Data from Thomas' office found Black drivers in Philadelphia accounted for 72% of police stops for vehicle code violations over the course of one year, while only 43% of the city's population is Black, The Inquirer reported.Thomas amended the bill banning traffic stops for low-level motor vehicle offenses last week to provide the Philadelphia Police Department 120 days for training and education before its implementation, according to the city council's website.The searchable traffic stop database must be developed within a year, according to the bill's text, and include driver and officer information, demographic and geographic information, and the reason for each stop."Data will tell us if we should end more traffic stops or amend how this is enforced. Data will also tell other cities that Philadelphia is leading on this civil rights issue and it can be replicated," Thomas said.The bill has been sent to the desk of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney to be signed into law.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider10 hr. 8 min. ago

Buchanan: Are The Good Times Over For Joe?

Buchanan: Are The Good Times Over For Joe? Authored by Pat Buchanan, “When sorrows come,” said King Claudius, “they come not single spies but in battalions.” As the king found out. So it seems with President Joe Biden, who must be asking himself the question Merle Haggard asked: “Are the good times really over for good?” Consider the critical issue with voters today: the state of the economy. Inflation in September stood at 5.4% year on year. With prices of food and fuel rising, the supply chains for goods entering the country and headed for stores, shelves and showrooms before Thanksgiving and Christmas are clogged. Container ships are backed up in ports, waiting to unload on both coasts. Many of the trucks to carry the goods to inland markets sit idle for lack of drivers. The latest employment figures show 10.4 million U.S. jobs going begging in August as 4.3 million workers dropped out of the labor force. How are Democrats responding to the return of inflation? By trying to pile a $3.5 trillion social spending package on top of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package on top of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief act Biden signed in March. Coupled with an easy-money Fed policy, this hand could play out for Biden the way it played out for former President Jimmy Carter. A second issue that appears beyond the capacity of the Biden people to solve is the invasion from across our southern border. Nightly film of border crossers and their encounters with the Border Patrol have riveted the attention of the nation. Lately, there has been a new feature. Sporadic small arms fire at U.S. Border Patrol agents by cartel coyotes who are enriching themselves by steering migrants from all over the world to crossing points on the Rio Grande. By year’s end, some 2 million illegal immigrants will have crossed under the de facto open borders policy of the Biden administration. Entering with them are scores of thousands of “got aways” who have avoided contact with U.S. authorities on the way into our country. Another issue for Biden is the surge of both random and purposeful violence in liberal Democratic cities where knifings, shootings and killings are approaching new records. With almost everyone carrying a phone camera, the daily photos of urban shootings have turned the country against the “defund the police!” crowd and the political party that is associated with them. The George Floyd summer is over. Police departments are being refunded, and cops are being defended and demanded in neighborhoods that have suffered from their resignations, retirements and removal. Then there is the new culture-war issue of race and education and whether America’s children should be taught in their schools about the goodness and greatness of their country or about its sins and crimes. Civic gatherings have erupted, with parents facing off against teachers and school boards in Northern Virginia communities near where historic battles of the Civil War were fought. Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, seeking to regain his office, may have put his campaign in peril by telling parents they have no legitimate role in decisions about what their children should be taught, and not taught, in Virginia’s public schools. “I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decisions,” said McAuliffe. “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” Biden’s political fortunes and his party’s future are likely to hinge upon the fate of his Build Back Better legislation, currently in the custody of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Capitulating to the demands of progressives, Biden and Pelosi agreed to delay passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which had easily passed in the Senate, until the $3.5 trillion social safety net bill could catch up and travel in tandem to approval in both Houses. Biden has wagered his presidency on passage of both the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and as large a share of the $3.5 trillion social safety net program as he can convince Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to approve. By caving to the both-or-nothing ultimatum the progressives issued to her, which caused Pelosi to hold up certain and swift passage of the infrastructure bill, she may have imperiled them both. Meanwhile, other priority agenda items of both Democratic moderates and progressives appear headed for the boneyard. The $15 minimum wage is gone. A “path to citizenship” for millions of illegal immigrants seems dead. Police reform appears to have been abandoned. Federal legislation to give the Department of Justice veto power over state GOP voting reforms appears no longer viable. With all his chips now in the middle of the table as this session of Congress winds down, Biden’s hand looks weaker and weaker. Wednesday, four polls found that half the nation — and in three of them, more than half — now disapprove of his presidency. In the 10th month of his four-year term, are the good times really over for good — for Joe Biden? Starting to look that way. Tyler Durden Fri, 10/15/2021 - 14:42.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nyt15 hr. 8 min. ago

The treacherous housing market will continue through 2022 as prices surge further, Goldman says

Builders will struggle as they fight labor shortages and supply bottlenecks. Millennial demand will keep prices soaring for years, the bank said. It's hard out there for home shoppers. AP Photo/Gregory Bull Home prices could surge another 16% in 2022 as the supply-demand mismatch continues, Goldman Sachs said. Prices have already shot up 20% this year as the housing shortage fueled bidding wars across the US. This could bleed into rentals, with shelter inflation soaring to 4.5% from 2.4%, the economists added. Goldman Sachs has some mixed news for US homebuyers who have struggled with a white-hot housing market all year.The good news: Prices won't surge as much next year as they have in 2021. The bad news: They're still going to go up a lot.Prices for US homes will climb another 16% through 2022, Goldman economists led by Jan Hatzius said in a Monday note. The forecast gives prospective buyers little to cheer as the new year looms. Prices have already surged 20% through the past year, as a dire home shortage has given way to frenzied bidding wars. Builders have moderately accelerated construction of new houses, but they're far from hitting the pace needed to match demand.The shortage will linger into next year, and it's uncertain whether the market will normalize then, the team said. "Of all the shortages afflicting the US economy, the housing shortage might last the longest," they said. "While the supply of homes for sale has increased modestly since the spring, it remains well below pre-pandemic levels and the outlook offers no quick fixes for the shortage."The mismatch between buyer demand and nationwide supply is the basis for the bank's expectation that prices will boom well into the 2020s.On the supply side, builders can't ramp up construction even if they wanted to. Firms don't just face pandemic headwinds like supply shortages and delays, but pre-crisis problems like a lack of workers and land scarcity as well, the economists said.Those obstacles will limit new home construction to roughly 1.65 million units per year, or a net increase of 1.4 million per year after demolitions, they added. That's only just above the pace seen in August, but well below the annual rate of 2 million homes the National Association of Realtors says is needed to fill the deficit caused by years of underbuilding.On the other side of the equation, demand shows no signs of letting up. Millennials are in their peak buying age and they're set to power a once-in-a-lifetime boost to household formation. And while Americans' attitudes toward buying a home are at the lowest point since the 1980s, there are still plenty of "reluctant bulls" on the sidelines, the team said. These buyers plan to buy homes in the near future, even through their sentiments toward the market have soured.With the market rife with reluctant bulls and struggling homebuilders, prices won't cool off for years, Goldman said.Renters aren't safe, either. It just won't be as bad.Much of the housing turmoil has already bled into the rental market. Prices have surged above their pre-pandemic highs in many cities, and in places where deals can still be had, they're expected to fade in a matter of months.The bank expects that price surge to continue through 2022. Goldman sees shelter inflation rising to a year-over-year rate of 4.5% by the end of next year, a sharp acceleration from the current 2.4% pace and the fastest price growth in 20 years.The forecast is concerning, especially since inflation already sits at decade-highs. The bank's shelter inflation tracker - which lumps a collection of alternative rent measures into a single forecast - has leaped from 2.1% to 4.6% in just six months.There's reason to believe the actual increase won't be as steep as that measure suggests, the economists said. For example, some of the measures track private rent indexes, and those focus more on rents that turn over to new tenants instead of continuing leases. Landlords tend to raise rents more for new tenants than existing ones, and less than 5% of rentals turn over in a given month, Goldman said. Separately, a wide range of cities and states also enacted rent freezes during the pandemic, and governments will likely regulate how fast rents can climb during reopening.Housin is in the process of cooling off from its wild pace earlier this year. But those hoping for a quick return to the pre-crisis normal are set to be disappointed.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nyt17 hr. 8 min. ago

Prepare for an even tougher housing market in 2022 as prices surge another 16% and builders play catchup, Goldman says

Builders will struggle as they fight labor shortages and supply bottlenecks. Millennial demand will keep prices soaring for years, the bank said. It's hard out there for home shoppers. AP Photo/Gregory Bull Home prices could surge another 16% in 2022 as the supply-demand mismatch continues, Goldman Sachs said. Prices have already shot up 20% this year as the housing shortage fueled bidding wars across the US. This could bleed into rentals, with shelter inflation soaring to 4.5% from 2.4%, the economists added. Goldman Sachs has some mixed news for US homebuyers who have struggled with a white-hot housing market all year.The good news: Prices won't surge as much next year as they have in 2021. The bad news: They're still going to go up a lot.Prices for US homes will climb another 16% through 2022, Goldman economists led by Jan Hatzius said in a Monday note. The forecast gives prospective buyers little to cheer as the new year looms. Prices have already surged 20% through the past year, as a dire home shortage has given way to frenzied bidding wars. Builders have moderately accelerated construction of new houses, but they're far from hitting the pace needed to match demand.The shortage will linger into next year, and it's uncertain whether the market will normalize then, the team said. "Of all the shortages afflicting the US economy, the housing shortage might last the longest," they said. "While the supply of homes for sale has increased modestly since the spring, it remains well below pre-pandemic levels and the outlook offers no quick fixes for the shortage."The mismatch between buyer demand and nationwide supply is the basis for the bank's expectation that prices will boom well into the 2020s.On the supply side, builders can't ramp up construction even if they wanted to. Firms don't just face pandemic headwinds like supply shortages and delays, but pre-crisis problems like a lack of workers and land scarcity as well, the economists said.Those obstacles will limit new home construction to roughly 1.65 million units per year, or a net increase of 1.4 million per year after demolitions, they added. That's only just above the pace seen in August, but well below the annual rate of 2 million homes the National Association of Realtors says is needed to fill the deficit caused by years of underbuilding.On the other side of the equation, demand shows no signs of letting up. Millennials are in their peak buying age and they're set to power a once-in-a-lifetime boost to household formation. And while Americans' attitudes toward buying a home are at the lowest point since the 1980s, there are still plenty of "reluctant bulls" on the sidelines, the team said. These buyers plan to buy homes in the near future, even through their sentiments toward the market have soured.With the market rife with reluctant bulls and struggling homebuilders, prices won't cool off for years, Goldman said.Renters aren't safe, either. It just won't be as bad.Much of the housing turmoil has already bled into the rental market. Prices have surged above their pre-pandemic highs in many cities, and in places where deals can still be had, they're expected to fade in a matter of months.The bank expects that price surge to continue through 2022. Goldman sees shelter inflation rising to a year-over-year rate of 4.5% by the end of next year, a sharp acceleration from the current 2.4% pace and the fastest price growth in 20 years.The forecast is concerning, especially since inflation already sits at decade-highs. The bank's shelter inflation tracker - which lumps a collection of alternative rent measures into a single forecast - has leaped from 2.1% to 4.6% in just six months.There's reason to believe the actual increase won't be as steep as that measure suggests, the economists said. For example, some of the measures track private rent indexes, and those focus more on rents that turn over to new tenants instead of continuing leases. Landlords tend to raise rents more for new tenants than existing ones, and less than 5% of rentals turn over in a given month, Goldman said. Separately, a wide range of cities and states also enacted rent freezes during the pandemic, and governments will likely regulate how fast rents can climb during reopening.Housin is in the process of cooling off from its wild pace earlier this year. But those hoping for a quick return to the pre-crisis normal are set to be disappointed.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nyt18 hr. 24 min. ago

Tyrants Of The Nanny State: When The Government Thinks It Knows Best

Tyrants Of The Nanny State: When The Government Thinks It Knows Best Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, “Whether the mask is labeled fascism, democracy, or dictatorship of the proletariat, our great adversary remains the apparatus—the bureaucracy, the police, the military. Not the one facing us across the frontier of the battle lines, which is not so much our enemy as our brothers’ enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. No matter what the circumstances, the worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this apparatus and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others.” - Simone Weil, French philosopher and political activist We labor today under the weight of countless tyrannies, large and small, carried out in the so-called name of the national good by an elite class of governmental and corporate officials who are largely insulated from the ill effects of their actions. We, the middling classes, are not so fortunate. We find ourselves badgered, bullied and browbeaten into bearing the brunt of their arrogance, paying the price for their greed, suffering the backlash for their militarism, agonizing as a result of their inaction, feigning ignorance about their backroom dealings, overlooking their incompetence, turning a blind eye to their misdeeds, cowering from their heavy-handed tactics, and blindly hoping for change that never comes.  The overt signs of the despotism exercised by the increasingly authoritarian regime that passes itself off as the United States government (and its corporate partners in crime) are all around us: COVID-19 lockdowns and vaccine mandates that strip Americans of their freedom of movement and bodily integrity; censorship, criminalizing, shadow banning and de-platforming of individuals who express ideas that are politically incorrect or unpopular; warrantless surveillance of Americans’ movements and communications; SWAT team raids of Americans’ homes; shootings of unarmed citizens by police; harsh punishments meted out to schoolchildren in the name of zero tolerance; armed drones taking to the skies domestically; endless wars; out-of-control spending; militarized police; roadside strip searches; roving TSA sweeps; privatized prisons with a profit incentive for jailing Americans; fusion centers that spy on, collect and disseminate data on Americans’ private transactions; and militarized agencies with stockpiles of ammunition, to name some of the most appalling. Yet as egregious as these incursions on our rights may be, it’s the endless, petty tyrannies—the heavy-handed, punitive-laden dictates inflicted by a self-righteous, Big-Brother-Knows-Best bureaucracy on an overtaxed, overregulated, and underrepresented populace—that illustrate so clearly the degree to which “we the people” are viewed as incapable of common sense, moral judgment, fairness, and intelligence, not to mention lacking a basic understanding of how to stay alive, raise a family, or be part of a functioning community. It’s hard to say whether we’re dealing with a kleptocracy (a government ruled by thieves), a kakistocracy (a government run by unprincipled career politicians, corporations and thieves that panders to the worst vices in our nature and has little regard for the rights of American citizens), or if we’ve gone straight to an idiocracy.  This certainly isn’t a constitutional democracy, however. This overbearing Nanny State despotism is what happens when government representatives (those elected and appointed to work for us) adopt the authoritarian notion that the government knows best and therefore must control, regulate and dictate almost everything about the citizenry’s public, private and professional lives. The government’s bureaucratic attempts at muscle-flexing by way of overregulation and overcriminalization have reached such outrageous limits that federal and state governments now require on penalty of a fine that individuals apply for permission before they can grow exotic orchids, host elaborate dinner parties, gather friends in one’s home for Bible studies, give coffee to the homeless, let their kids manage a lemonade stand, keep chickens as pets, or braid someone’s hair, as ludicrous as that may seem. Consider, for example, that businesses in California must now designate an area of the children's toy aisle “gender-neutral” or face a fine, whether or not the toys sold are traditionally marketed to girls or boys such as Barbies and Hot Wheels. California schools are prohibited from allowing students to access websites, novels or religious works that reflect negatively on gays. And while Californians are free to have sex with whomever they choose (because that’s none of the government’s business), removing a condom during sex without consent could make you liable for general, special and punitive damages. Up until a few years ago, Missouri required that anyone wanting to braid African-style hair and charge for it must first acquire a government license, which at a minimum requires the applicant to undertake at least 1500 hours of cosmetology classes costing tens of thousands of dollars. Tennessee was prepared to fine residents nearly $100,000 just for violating its laws against braiding hair without a government license. In Oregon, the law was so broad that you needed a license even if you were planning to braid hair for free. The mere act of touching someone’s hair could render you a cosmetologist operating without a license and in violation of the law. It’s getting worse. Almost every aspect of American life today—especially if it is work-related—is subject to this kind of heightened scrutiny and ham-fisted control, whether you’re talking about aspiring “bakers, braiders, casket makers, florists, veterinary masseuses, tour guides, taxi drivers, eyebrow threaders, teeth whiteners, and more.” For instance, whereas 70 years ago, one out of every 20 U.S. jobs required a state license, today, almost 1 in 3 American occupations requires a license. The problem of overregulation has become so bad that, as one analyst notes, “getting a license to style hair in Washington takes more instructional time than becoming an emergency medical technician or a firefighter.” This is what happens when bureaucrats run the show, and the rule of law becomes little more than a cattle prod for forcing the citizenry to march in lockstep with the government. Overregulation is just the other side of the coin to overcriminalization, that phenomenon in which everything is rendered illegal and everyone becomes a lawbreaker. This is the mindset that tried to penalize a fisherman with 20 years’ jail time for throwing fish that were too small back into the water. That same overcriminalization mindset reared its ugly head again when police arrested a 90-year-old man for violating an ordinance that prohibits feeding the homeless in public unless portable toilets are also made available. It’s no coincidence that both of these incidents—the fishing debacle and the homeless feeding arrest—happened in Florida. Despite its pristine beaches and balmy temperatures, Florida is no less immune to the problems plaguing the rest of the nation in terms of overcriminalization, incarceration rates, bureaucracy, corruption, and police misconduct. A few years back, in fact, Florida officials authorized police raids on barber shops in minority communities, resulting in barbers being handcuffed in front of customers, and their shops searched without warrants. All of this was purportedly done in an effort to make sure that the barbers’ licensing paperwork was up to snuff. As if criminalizing fishing, charity, and haircuts wasn’t bad enough, you could also find yourself passing time in a Florida slammer for such inane activities as singing in a public place while wearing a swimsuit, breaking more than three dishes per day, farting in a public place after 6 pm on a Thursday, and skateboarding without a license. In this way, the Sunshine State is representative of the transformation happening across the nation, where a steady diet of bread and circuses has given rise to an oblivious, inactive citizenry content to be ruled over by an inflexible and highly bureaucratic regime. America has gone from being a beacon of freedom to a locked down nation. And “we the people,” sold on the idea that safety, security and material comforts are preferable to freedom, have allowed the government to pave over the Constitution in order to erect a concentration camp. The problem with these devil’s bargains, however, is that there is always a catch, always a price to pay for whatever it is we valued so highly as to barter away our most precious possessions. We’ve bartered away our right to self-governance, self-defense, privacy, autonomy and that most important right of all—the right to tell the government to “leave me the hell alone.” In exchange for the promise of an end to global pandemics, lower taxes, lower crime rates, safe streets, safe schools, blight-free neighborhoods, and readily accessible technology, health care, water, food and power, we’ve opened the door to lockdowns, militarized police, government surveillance, asset forfeiture, school zero tolerance policies, license plate readers, red light cameras, SWAT team raids, health care mandates, overcriminalization, overregulation and government corruption. In the end, such bargains always turn sour. We relied on the government to help us safely navigate national emergencies (terrorism, natural disasters, global pandemics, etc.) only to find ourselves forced to relinquish our freedoms on the altar of national security, yet we’re no safer (or healthier) than before. We asked our lawmakers to be tough on crime, and we’ve been saddled with an abundance of laws that criminalize almost every aspect of our lives. So far, we’re up to 4500 criminal laws and 300,000 criminal regulations that result in average Americans unknowingly engaging in criminal acts at least three times a day. For instance, the family of an 11-year-old girl was issued a $535 fine for violating the Federal Migratory Bird Act after the young girl rescued a baby woodpecker from predatory cats. We wanted criminals taken off the streets, and we didn’t want to have to pay for their incarceration. What we’ve gotten is a nation that boasts the highest incarceration rate in the world, with more than 2.3 million people locked up, many of them doing time for relatively minor, nonviolent crimes, and a private prison industry fueling the drive for more inmates, who are forced to provide corporations with cheap labor. A special report by CNBC breaks down the national numbers: One out of 100 American adults is behind bars — while a stunning one out of 32 is on probation, parole or in prison. This reliance on mass incarceration has created a thriving prison economy. The states and the federal government spend about $74 billion a year on corrections, and nearly 800,000 people work in the industry. We wanted law enforcement agencies to have the necessary resources to fight the nation’s wars on terror, crime and drugs. What we got instead were militarized police decked out with M-16 rifles, grenade launchers, silencers, battle tanks and hollow point bullets—gear designed for the battlefield, more than 80,000 SWAT team raids carried out every year (many for routine police tasks, resulting in losses of life and property), and profit-driven schemes that add to the government’s largesse such as asset forfeiture, where police seize property from “suspected criminals.” According to the Washington Post, these funds have been used to buy guns, armored cars, electronic surveillance gear, “luxury vehicles, travel and a clown named Sparkles.” Police seminars advise officers to use their “department wish list when deciding which assets to seize” and, in particular, go after flat screen TVs, cash and nice cars. In Florida, where police are no strangers to asset forfeiture, Florida police have been carrying out “reverse” sting operations, where they pose as drug dealers to lure buyers with promises of cheap cocaine, then bust them, and seize their cash and cars. Over the course of a year, police in one small Florida town seized close to $6 million using these entrapment schemes. We fell for the government’s promise of safer roads, only to find ourselves caught in a tangle of profit-driven red light cameras, which ticket unsuspecting drivers in the so-called name of road safety while ostensibly fattening the coffers of local and state governments. Despite widespread public opposition, corruption and systemic malfunctions, these cameras—used in 24 states and Washington, DC—are particularly popular with municipalities, which look to them as an easy means of extra cash. One small Florida town, population 8,000, generates a million dollars a year in fines from these cameras. Building on the profit-incentive schemes, the cameras’ manufacturers are also pushing speed cameras and school bus cameras, both of which result in heft fines for violators who speed or try to go around school buses. As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, this is what happens when the American people get duped, deceived, double-crossed, cheated, lied to, swindled and conned into believing that the government and its army of bureaucrats—the people we appointed to safeguard our freedoms—actually have our best interests at heart. Yet when all is said and done, who is really to blame when the wool gets pulled over your eyes: you, for believing the con man, or the con man for being true to his nature? It’s time for a bracing dose of reality, America. Wake up and take a good, hard look around you, and ask yourself if the gussied-up version of America being sold to you—crime free, worry free, disease free and devoid of responsibility—is really worth the ticket price: nothing less than your freedoms. Tyler Durden Fri, 10/15/2021 - 00:00.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytOct 15th, 2021

China has at least 65 million empty homes - enough to house the population of France. It offers a glimpse into the country"s massive housing-market problem.

In the US and Japan, abandoned homes have earned cities the titles of "ghost towns." But China's are different - they're not abandoned, just empty. Unfinished buildings and vacant streets in Xiangluo Bay. Yujiapu & Xiangluo Bay, a new central business district under construction in Tianjin, was been expected to be China's Manhattan. Now it's a Ghost city. Zhang Peng / Contributor / Getty Images One-fifth of the homes in China - at least 65 million units - are empty. That amount of empty real estate is enough to house the population of France. The ghost cities are a testament to China's reliance on real estate as a driver of economic growth. See more stories on Insider's business page. If you drive an hour or two outside Shanghai or Beijing, you'll find something odd. The cities are still tall, and they're still modern. They're also, generally, in good condition. But unlike their bustling, Tier 1-city counterparts, they're basically empty.These are China's ghost cities.Their existence has been well-documented. In one prominent example, CBS' "60 Minutes" ran a 2013 segment on China's ghost towns that opened with the correspondent Lesley Stahl on a major road at rush hour with barely a car in sight.But as China's real-estate market has risen to the forefront of the global conversation with Evergrande's $300 billion debt looming large, so, too, have ghost cities become a renewed source of interest. While they're a testament to China's reliance on real estate as a driver of economic growth and in its belief in the sector as a safe investment, their exact quantity is hard to define.Li Gan is a professor of economics at Texas A&M University and the director of the Survey and Research Center for China Household Finance at Chengdu's Southwestern University of Finance and Economics. He's also considered one of the top experts on China's housing market. When I asked him how many ghost towns there were in China, he didn't have an answer."I don't know if there's any definition of 'ghost town,'" he said. "So I don't know if there's any number."What are China's ghost towns?The best known of China's ghost cities may be Ordos New Town, also known as Kangbashi, in the region of Inner Mongolia.The city was intended in the early 2000s to eventually house a million people, a number that was later scaled back to 300,000. But as of 2016, a mere 100,000 people lived in it. Kangbashi eventually managed to lure residents after China moved some of its top schools into the city, Nikkei reported earlier this year.In 2015, the photographer Kai Caemmerer traveled to China to explore ghost cities. His photos show endless rows of high-rises with barely any indication of human life. They're photos, in fact, that might remind people of what locked-down cities around the world looked like during the coronavirus pandemic.These unoccupied units constitute a significant portion of China's enormous housing market, which is twice the size of the US residential market and hit $52 trillion in value in 2019. Data from the most recently published China Household Finance Survey, which Gan runs, shows that 21% of homes - some 65 million - were vacant as of 2017, The Wall Street Journal reported.That many empty units could house the population of France.But unlike parts of the US and Japan, where homes in various states of abandonment and decay have prompted cities and regions to be called ghost towns, China's are different. They're not abandoned; they're just unoccupied.As Gan put it, these ghost cities are "a unique China phenomenon." The empty street in the Kangbashi district of Inner Mongolia, China, in February 2017. South China Morning Post / Contributor How did China end up with all this empty real estate?The first thing to understand about China's ghost cities is that they are not cities in states of disrepair. Instead, they are full of new builds that were bought as investments. They're also a symptom of mismatched supply and demand."These homes being empty means they are sold out to investors and buyers, but not occupied by either the owners or renter," Xin Sun, a senior lecturer in Chinese and East Asian business at King's College London, told Insider.On the supply side, Sun said, the government gets big sales revenue from leasing out land to developers. "This gives the government very strong incentive to encourage development instead of limiting it," he said.Every year, China starts building 15 million new homes - five times as many as the US and Europe combined, The Economist reported in January.In addition to the government promoting development and driving supply up, there's the matter of China's urbanization rate. Data from the World Bank indicates that 61% of China's population lived in cities as of last year, up from 35.8% just two decades earlier.Gan said there were flaws in China's urbanization-rate metrics, however, one of which is tied to reclassified areas. When rural areas are reclassified as urban, the people in those areas already have houses. So while they never moved, and won't need a new place to live, they still contribute to the urbanization rate, he said."Part of the problem is that China overestimated its urbanization rate - how many people would want to move from rural to urban areas," Gan said.A culture of real-estate investmentOn the demand side, the general upward trend of house prices has spawned huge demand for second and third properties, Sun said."Within two decades, house prices have grown multiple times in many places, including major cities," Sun said. "Most people in China haven't experienced a substantial real-estate bubble burst like what the US experienced in 2008 or Japan in the 1990s.""This leads to a strong popular belief that real estate is the best way to preserve and generate wealth," Sun said. "And this stimulates the demand for buying additional properties."Homeownership rates in China are high: More than 90% of households are homeowners, according to a January research paper on homeownership in China from the National Center for Biotechnology Information. More than 20% of homeowners in China own more than one home. The US, for comparison, has a 65% homeownership rate. Real-estate holdings also account for an outsize proportion of household wealth in China: 70% of household assets - far higher than what you'd find in Western economies - are held in real estate.Demand for units, however - and this is where the mismatch comes into play - has been affected by a series of factors, said Bernard Aw, an economist overseeing Asia Pacific for Coface. Among these factors is the increasing unaffordability of homes, an aging population, and slowing population growth. Aw pointed to China's 2020 census, which recorded the slowest population growth since the 1970s."They built an oversupply, and then they sold it," Gan said. "And that's why you see the vacancies." Residential buildings in which only few people actually lived in Kangbashi in 2017. South China Morning Post / Contributor While the Evergrande crisis looms, China has ways of mitigating risk - including stopping home salesEvergrande has more than 1,300 developments spread across 280 cities in China, which collectively house more than 12 million people, its website says.But Evergrande also has $300 billion in debt, making it the most indebted company in the world; it has 1.6 million undelivered apartments hanging in the balance, and it keeps missing its bond payments.Despite the size of Evergrande's scale and debt, the developer accounts for only a fraction of China's housing woes. "Evergrande is linked to the vacancy problem, but you cannot blame them for it," Gan said. "Their market share in China is still small.""They're both part of a big problem," Gan added, pointing to Evergrande and the vacancy rate. An aerial view from a drone of the Evergrande City last month in Wuhan, China. Getty Images In 2017, Bloomberg described Beijing's nightmare scenario as one in which people rush to sell off their second properties if cracks in the market appear, thereby sending prices on a downward spiral. When I asked Gan whether this was the scenario now unfolding in China, he said it wasn't - but not because there aren't cracks in the market.Instead, the government is making it so difficult to complete a sale that it's dissuading homeowners from selling, Gan said."China can stop a transaction. The government can change the number of years you have to own a home. Or if prices are too low, the government won't give you a certificate of sale," Gan said. "That is what's happening now.""You won't see the price drop substantially, but you will see the transaction volume drop massively," he added. "They'll stop the sale. By doing that, they can prevent the look of a massive price drop. They can prevent the crash."This very move - suppressing home sales - stands to hurt those who need to sell their homes to access cash, Gan said. "Real estate is a massive chunk of people's wealth," he said. "If they need that wealth for education, or health problems, or retirement, the liquidity sellers will suffer."Gan stressed that the stopping of sales was not singularly, or even directly, linked to Evergrande's debt crisis: "This was happening before Evergrande became evident," he said.Heightened contagion fearsIn addition to liquidity sellers, households that own only one home are thought to face the greatest risk."People who own one home, because of high prices and low income, they have some risk," Gan said. "For many of them, their down payment is borrowed from friends, from relatives - not from banks."It's a different story for well-off families with money invested in second and third properties, Sun said: "The risk of default for these families is relatively low unless a massive, unprecedented economic crisis leads to massive unemployment.""But aside from that worst-case scenario, the risk of default is relatively low," Sun added. On a broader scale, Evergrande poses a risk to the larger Chinese economy. Experts say Evergrande's debt problems could affect other property developers in China and might create a new wave of defaults. Just last week, the Chinese property developer Fantasia missed a $206 million repayment deadline. And a leaked letter from September 2020 shows the company's debts are tied to at least 128 banks, Reuters reported.Another danger is that the Evergrande crisis stands to change China's perception of real estate as a safe investment, Sun said. That's a problem when the real-estate sector makes up 29% of the country's gross domestic product."The government is heavily reliant on households continuing to invest in real estate," Sun said. "So if the bubble bursts, it will inevitably compromise people's confidence in real estate and undermine their perception of real estate as the best way to preserve and generate wealth."That means a slowdown in real estate will cause a deterioration of economic growth and government finance."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 14th, 2021

China has at least 65 million empty homes - enough to house the entire population of France. It offers a glimpse into the country"s massive housing market problem.

In the US and Japan, abandoned homes have earned cities the titles of "ghost towns." But China's are different - they're not abandoned, just empty. Unfinished buildings and vacant streets in Xiangluo Bay. Yujiapu & Xiangluo Bay, a new central business district under construction in Tianjin, was been expected to be China's Manhattan. Now it's a Ghost city. Zhang Peng / Contributor / Getty Images One-fifth of the homes in China - at least 65 million units - are empty. That means there's enough empty real estate in the country to house the entire population of France. China's ghost cities are a sprawling testament to its reliance on real estate as a driver of economic growth, and in its belief in the sector as a safe investment. See more stories on Insider's business page. If you drive an hour or two outside of Shanghai or Beijing, you'll find something odd. The cities are still tall, and they're still modern. They're also, generally, in good condition. But unlike their bustling, Tier 1-city counterparts, they're basically empty.These are China's "ghost cities."Their existence has been well-documented. In one prominent example, CBS' 60 Minutes ran a 2013 segment on China's ghost towns that opened with correspondent Lesley Stahl on a major road at rush hour with barely a car in sight.But as China's real-estate market has risen to the forefront of the global conversation with Evergrande's $300 billion debt looming large, so, too, have ghost towns become a renewed source of interest. While they're a testament to China's reliance on real estate as a driver of economic growth and in its belief in the sector as a safe investment, their exact quantity is hard to define.Li Gan is a professor of economics at Texas A&M University and the director of the Survey and Research Center for China Household Finance at Chengdu's Southwestern University of Finance and Economics. He's also considered one of the top experts on China's housing market. When I asked him how many ghost towns there are in China, he didn't have an answer."I don't know if there's any definition of 'ghost town,'" he said. "So I don't know if there's any number." What are China's ghost towns?The most famous of China's ghost towns may be Ordos New Town, also known as Kangbashi, in Inner Mongolia.The city was designed to house one million people, a number that was later scaled back to 300,000, Insider's Melia Robinson previously reported. But as of 2016, a mere 100,000 people lived in it. Kangbashi eventually managed to lure in residents after China moved some of its top schools into the city, prompting students and their families to follow suit, Nikkei reported earlier this year.In 2015, photographer Kai Caemmerer traveled to China to explore ghost cities. His photos showcase endless rows of high-rises with barely any indication of human life. They're photos, in fact, that might remind people of what locked-down cities around the world looked like during the pandemic.These unoccupied units constitute a significant portion of China's enormous housing market, which is twice the size of the US residential market and hit $52 trillion in value in 2019. Data from the most recently published China Household Finance Survey, which Gan runs, shows that 21% of homes - some 65 million homes - were vacant as of 2017, The Wall Street Journal reported.That means there are enough empty units in China to house the entire population of France.But unlike parts of the US and Japan, where unoccupied homes in various states of abandonment and decay have earned cities and regions the titles of "ghost towns," China's are different. They're not abandoned - they're just unoccupied.As Gan put it, these ghost cities are "a unique China phenomenon." The empty street in Kangbashi district, Ordos city, Inner Mongolia, on Feb. 16, 2017. A large number of new style buildings were built, but many were suspended due to lack of continuous financial support. South China Morning Post / Contributor How did China end up with all this empty real estate?The first thing to understand about China's ghost cities is that these are not cities in states of disrepair. Instead, they are full of new builds that were bought as investments. They're also a symptom of mismatched supply and demand."These homes being empty means they are sold out to investors and buyers, but not occupied by either the owners or renter," Dr. Xin Sun, a senior lecturer in Chinese and East Asian Business at King's College London, told Insider.On the supply side, Sun said, the government gets big sales revenue from leasing out land to developers. "This gives the government very strong incentive to encourage development instead of limiting it," he said.Every year, China starts building 15 million new homes - five times as many as the US and Europe combined, the Economist reported in January.In addition to the government promoting development and driving supply up, there's the matter of China's urbanization rate. As of 2020, 61% of China's population lives in cities, up from 35.8% of its population 20 years earlier, data from the World Bank shows. However, Gan said there are flaws in China's urbanization rate metrics, one of which is tied to reclassified areas. When rural areas are reclassified as urban, the people in those areas already have houses. So while they never moved, and won't need a new place to live, they still contribute to the urbanization rate, he said."Part of the problem is that China overestimated its urbanization rate - how many people would want to move from rural to urban areas," Gan said.A culture of real-estate investmentOn the demand side, the general upward trend of house prices has spawned huge demand for second and third properties, Sun said."Within two decades, house prices have grown multiple times in many places, including major cities," Sun said. "Most people in China haven't experienced a substantial real-estate bubble burst like what the US experienced in 2008 or Japan in the 1990s.""This leads to a strong popular belief that real estate is the best way to preserve and generate wealth," Sun said. "And this stimulates the demand for buying additional properties."Homeownership rates in China are high: More than 90% of households are homeowners, according to a January research paper on homeownership in China from the National Center for Biotechnology Information. More than 20% of homeowners in China own more than one home. The US, for comparison, has a 65% homeownership rate. Real-estate holdings also account for an outsized proportion of household wealth in China: 70% of household assets - far higher than what you'd find in western economies - are held in real estate.However - and this is where the mismatch comes into play - demand for units has been affected by a series of factors, said Bernard Aw, an economist overseeing Asia Pacific for Coface. Amongst these factors is the increasing unaffordability of homes, an aging population, and slowing population growth. Aw pointed to China's 2020 census, which recorded the slowest population growth since the 1970s."They built an oversupply, and then they sold it," Gan said. "And that's why you see the vacancies." Residential buildings in which only few people actually living in Kangbashi district, Ordos city, Inner Mongolia, on Feb. 16, 2017. South China Morning Post / Contributor While the Evergrande crisis looms, China has ways of mitigating risk - including stopping home salesEvergrande has more than 1,300 developments spread across 280 cities in China, which collectively house more than 12 million people, its website states. As Insider's Matthew Loh recently reported, that means more people live in Evergrande properties than in entire countries, like Greece, Portugal, or Sweden.But Evergrande also has $300 billion in debt, making it the most indebted company in the world; it has 1.6 million undelivered apartments hanging in the balance; and it keeps missing its bond payments.Despite the enormity of both Evergrande's scale and debt, the developer accounts for a fraction of China's housing woes. "Evergrande is linked to the vacancy problem, but you cannot blame them for it," Gan said. "Their market share in China is still small.""They're both part of a big problem," Gan added, pointing to Evergrande and the vacancy rate. An aerial view from a drone of the Evergrande City on September 24,2021 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Getty Images In 2017, Bloomberg described Beijing's nightmare scenario as one in which people rush to sell off their second properties if cracks in the market appear, thereby sending prices on a downward spiral. When I asked Gan if this is the scenario currently unfolding in China, he said it's not - but not because there aren't cracks in the market.Instead, the government is making it so difficult to complete a sale that it's dissuading homeowners from selling, Gan said."China can stop a transaction. The government can change the number of years you have to own a home. Or if prices are too low, the government won't give you a certificate of sale," Gan said. "That is what's happening now.""You won't see the price drop substantially, but you will see the transaction volume drop massively," he added. "They'll stop the sale. By doing that, they can prevent the look of a massive price drop. They can prevent the crash."This very move - suppressing home sales - stands to hurt those who need to sell their homes to access cash, Gan said. "Real estate is a massive chunk of peoples' wealth," he said. "If they need that wealth for education, or health problems, or retirement, the liquidity sellers will suffer."Gan stressed that the stopping of sales is not directly, or singularly, linked to Evergrande's debt crisis: "This was happening before Evergrande became evident," he said.Heightened contagion fearsIn addition to liquidity sellers, households who own only one home face the greatest risk, the experts said."People who own one home, because of high prices and low income, they have some risk. For many of them, their down payment is borrowed from friends, from relatives - not from banks," Gan said.It's a different story for well-off families with money invested in second and third properties, Sun said: "The risk of default for these families is relatively low unless a massive, unprecedented economic crisis leads to massive unemployment.""But aside from that worst-case scenario, the risk of default is relatively low," Sun added. On a broader scale, Evergrande poses a contagion risk to the entire Chinese economy. Experts say Evergrande's debt problems could affect other property developers in China and potentially create a whole new wave of defaults. Just last week, Chinese property developer Fantasia missed a $206 million repayment deadline. And a leaked letter from September 2020 shows the company's debts are tied to at least 128 banks, Reuters reported.Another very real danger is that the Evergrande crisis stands to change China's perception of real estate as a safe investment, Sun said. Given that the real estate sector makes up 29% of the country's GDP, a softening of trust could send shockwaves through the Chinese economy. "The government is heavily reliant on households continuing to invest in real estate. So if the bubble bursts, it will inevitably compromise peoples' confidence in real estate and undermine their perception of real estate as the best way to preserve and generate wealth," Sun said. "That means a slowdown in real estate will cause a deterioration of economic growth and government finance."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytOct 14th, 2021

6 of the most inconvenient things evolution left us with

From useless wisdom teeth to painful spines, the human body is filled with evidence that evolution is not always kind or helpful. Evolution has left its mark on the human body in ways that….are less than ideal. While wisdom teeth were once useful, they often plague our smaller jaws and require surgery to remove. Some evolutionary quirks can be deadly. Humans and other apes can't produce their own vitamin C, unlike most other animals. This can lead to a terrible disease called scurvy, in situations where you can't get enough of the vitamin from your diet. Following is a transcript of the video.Narrator: Millions of years ago, wisdom teeth were dead useful. Those hefty molars helped us grind up fibrous veggies. Then, around 1 million to 2 million years ago, we invented cooking, which softened food so we didn't need to chew as much. That put wisdom teeth out of a job. Around 10,000 years ago, we began to farm and cook our food even more. With less work to do, our powerful jaws shrank, making it harder for those extra teeth to fit in our mouths. And today, we suffer the consequences. Gum infection, tooth decay, even tumors. But, unfortunately, annoying extra molars aren't the only way evolution screwed us over.Narrator: All primates, including humans, have something in common: We have incredibly bony feet. Each one contains 26 bones. Together, that's almost a quarter of all the bones in our body. Now, this foot design makes perfect sense to our ancient primate ancestors, because all those tiny moving parts made their feet flexible enough to cling to branches. But here's the problem: Once our ancestors left the trees and started walking upright, we needed a more rigid, stable foot to balance and propel ourselves from one step to the next. We didn't lose a single bone. The result? Our feet are too flexible, and they can easily twist the wrong way, which leads to all sorts of foot-related ailments, like sprains, stress fractures, and tendinitis.Narrator: If that's not bad enough, walking upright also messed up our spine. In animals that walk on all fours, the spine arches like a bridge, which helps support the weight of their internal organs dangling beneath. Then, 6 million years ago, our ancestors first stood up and forced that smooth arch into an S shape. The top is curved outward to support the weight of our head, and the bottom is curved inward to keep our torso in line with our feet, so we can balance. Unfortunately, this design isn't very sound. That bend in our lower back puts a tremendous amount of pressure on our backbone. So it's no wonder that 60% to 70% of people worldwide experience lower-back pain sometime in their life.Narrator: Speaking of pain, let's talk about getting hit in the testicles. Unlike most of your organs, they hang outside your body, so they aren't protected by muscles, fat, and bone, which makes them a prime target for incoming soccer balls. So why are we, and many other mammals, stuck with such a risky arrangement? Well, it turns out, sperm are healthiest when they're stored in a cool place. So we hold them as far away from the body as possible to keep them a few extra degrees below body temperature. And humans have it especially bad. Since we walk upright, gravity pulls on our exposed testes, which can lead to a potentially excruciating condition called inguinal hernia.Narrator: And while this might feel like the worst thing ever, other evolutionary quirks can be deadly. Take the dangerous way our throat is structured. It contains two important tubes, the trachea, or windpipe, where air travels, and the esophagus, where food travels. These pipes are nestled so close together, it's just plain stupid. Because when you swallow, food can slip into your windpipe and block airflow, causing you to choke or suffocate. Every year, about 5,000 Americans die by choking on food. Meanwhile, other animals have a more sensible arrangement, where their windpipe and esophagus are far away from each other. So, why don't we have that setup? Well, by sticking the pipes together, we can open up extra space in our throats, which acts like an echo chamber to amplify sound to help us talk. But evolution doesn't always come with a silver lining.Narrator: In the 18th century, millions of sailors suffered from a horrible disease called scurvy. Their gums would swell and bleed as their skin disintegrated and their brains decayed. The culprit? Away from shore for months on end, the sailors had no access to fresh fruits and vegetables, key sources of vitamin C, which plays a crucial role in how our body repairs damaged tissue, bone, and nerves. Now, humans, along with other apes, guinea pigs, some bats, birds, and fish, are the only animals that would ever have this problem, because everyone else can produce their own vitamin C, no oranges needed. Meanwhile, humans have a gene mutation that prevents us from doing the same. Which normally wouldn't be a problem for our ancient, fruit-eating ancestors, who didn't trap themselves on ships without fresh fruit for months. Now, there doesn't seem to be any benefit to this mutation, which just goes to show, evolution isn't always helpful. In fact, it can make life a whole lot worse.EDITOR'S NOTE: This video was originally published in December 2019.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytOct 13th, 2021

The Virginia governor"s race is shaping up as a test of the state"s Democratic strength and Biden

A GOP candidate who is uniting the business class and pro-Trump voters, along with Biden's sagging poll numbers, have put the leans-blue state in play. Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nominee and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, left, and Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin participate in a debate at Northern Virginia Community College, in Alexandria, Va., on September 28, 2021. AP Photo/Cliff Owen Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe once wrestled a 280-pound alligator to secure a $15,000 campaign donation for President Jimmy Carter's 1980 reelection campaign. In 2009, the former Democratic National Committee Chairman ran unsuccessfully for his party's gubernatorial nomination, but came back to win the nomination - and the governorship - four years later. During his time in the Executive Mansion from 2014 to 2018, McAuliffe faced a solidly-conservative GOP legislature that was resistant to many of his legislative proposals. However, as the longtime Democratic power broker seeks to win his old job back in the November general election, he faces a test unlike any that he's encountered in the past - with his race serving as a barometer of the current political alignment of the Old Dominion.Democrats have been ascendant in the state for over a decade now - with key wins that included former President Barack Obama's 2008 and 2012 victories, Ralph Northam's 2017 gubernatorial victory against former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, the party taking full control of the state legislature after the 2019 elections, and now-President Joe Biden's double-digit triumph against then-President Donald Trump last fall.Republicans - who in recent years have nominated a string of candidates that struggled with the ever-growing suburban vote - have not won a statewide race in Virginia since 2009. But this year, GOP delegates nominated Glenn Youngkin, a former private equity executive and first-time political candidate who has so far been able to speak to conservative issues in way that has united the party's business class and its dominant Trump wing. The Republican approach, along with Biden's slumping numbers in the state, have made the Virginia election a real race in the closing weeks of the campaign.Despite the state's recent Democratic-leaning orientation, Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center for Civic Leadership at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., told Insider that there still remains a strong GOP base of reliable supporters. "Republicans consistently turn out a million or a little over a million voters consistently, even when they've lost massively," he said.With the dominant Democratic Party facing an energized GOP, what do the dynamics of the electorate reveal about Virginia's political identity? A voter heads to cast his ballot during the US presidential primary in Henrico County, Va., on March 1, 2016. AP Photo/Steve Helber The importance of the suburban vote can't be overstatedFrom the 1970s through the 1990s, Republican presidential victories in Virginia were powered by the state's fast-growing suburban areas in northern Virginia, the Richmond metropolitan area, and Hampton Roads, which form the core of the vote-rich "Golden Crescent." However, from the late 2000s through the last decade, many suburban localities, including populous Loudoun, Prince William, and Henrico counties, began to support Democrats on the presidential level. This shift, which was already ongoing as the GOP became more ideologically conservative, was exacerbated by Trump's deep unpopularity in these suburbs, which are filled with college-educated moderates and independent voters who have become more receptive to Democratic messaging. Minority voters, notably Black, Latino, and Asian residents, are also increasingly becoming a part of the suburban electoral calculus.In northern Virginia, where McAuliffe and Youngkin both reside, Democrats have had striking success in recent election cycles. In 2019, northern Virginia boasted a population of 2.8 million residents and the region's votes made up 32% of the total statewide count in last year's presidential election, according to The Washington Post. The party handily carried the region by 32% in the 2017 gubernatorial election won by Northam, who is term-limited and ineligible to run for reelection. By running for a second, nonconsecutive term in office, McAuliffe is hoping to pull off a rare feat in Virginia - the last governor elected to two terms was Mills Godwin, who served in office from 1966 to 1970 as a Democrat and from 1974 to 1978 as a Republican.A recent poll released by the Wason Center on Oct. 8 showed McAuliffe ahead of Youngkin 49%-45% with likely voters - the survey had a margin of error of 4.2%. In the same poll, Youngkin led among independents by a 50%-41% margin.J. Miles Coleman, the associate editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, which currently classifies the race as "leans Democratic," told Insider that Youngkin has a compelling personal story as a native Virginian who earned a basketball scholarship to play at Rice University and went on to earn an MBA at Harvard before eventually amassing a fortune of over $300 million at the helm of the Carlyle Group. "The Republicans have a fairly attractive candidate in Youngkin," he said. "He's not hated as much Trump is here, that's for sure. He kind of has an uplifting life story, and I think he's probably better positioned to appeal to some of those suburban voters who used to be Republicans but now vote for Democrats. He has tried to touch on some themes of law and order with a softer edge than Ed Gillespie ... at this time four years ago we were talking about MS-13," a reference to the violent street gang. Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin speaks with members of the press alongside his wife Suzanne, left, after voting early in Fairfax, Va., on September 23, 2021. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky McAuliffe has been unable to cast Youngkin as unacceptable to swing votersRepublicans are bullish on their support among some of the very same independents who have backed Democrats like Northam and Biden, along with lawmakers like Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. McAuliffe has consistently sought to tie Youngkin to Trump, as well as raise concerns about access to abortion in the wake of the implementation of a highly restrictive Texas law that effectively bans the procedure after the sixth week of pregnancy. The former governor has also chided Youngkin for opposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates in an appeal to independents who back such measures. Youngkin, who has been vaccinated, disagrees with the mandates and said last month that getting inoculated is a personal decision.The former governor has also criticized Youngkin for invoking critical race theory, which examines how America's history of racism continues to reverberate through laws and policies that exist today; it is a discipline that is generally not taught in K-12 schools, but Youngkin has pledged "ban" it on his first day in office.McAuliffe, who is known for being a disciplined campaigner, has had a tough time linking Youngkin to the former president in the minds of many swing voters. Kidd, the Wason director, told Insider that even if Youngkin comes up short in his campaign, he could provide a roadmap for the Virginia GOP as they seek an escape from the political wilderness. "Glenn Youngkin may not win, but Republicans may have found a way to thread the needle between Trumpism and economic conservatism, which they have struggled to do," he said. "Youngkin seems to be walking a tightrope pretty effectively in some ways. He embraces Trump just enough, but not too much, and he distances himself from Trump just enough, but not too much." Former state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli addresses a rally sponsored by Catholic Vote and Fight for Schools in Leesburg, Va., on October 2, 2021. AP Photo/Cliff Owen The conservative vote in the state remains influentialDespite Democrats currently holding all major statewide offices in Virginia, the GOP still holds 45 out of 100 seats in the House of Delegates and 19 out of 40 seats in the Senate. This year, every House seat is up for grabs, with Democrats angling to retain the majority that they clawed back in 2019. In addition to partisan gerrymandering, a major reason why Democrats struggled to regain control of many suburban-based House districts in the last decade prior to Trump's election was low turnout.In 2009, the last year that Democrats lost a gubernatorial election in Virginia, Republicans were eager to elect former state Attorney General Bob McDonnell and he won in a 59%-41% landslide over state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds. Overall turnout that year was 40.4%, according to the Virginia Department of Elections. In 2013, when McAuliffe was elected governor, turnout hit 43%, which provided the lift he needed to defeat then-GOP state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli by a 48%-45% margin. In 2017, Northam beat Gillespie by a 54%-45% spread, with a 47.6% turnout rate fueled by Democratic dissatisfaction with the Trump administration.Kidd told Insider that inconsistent Democratic turnout has been a lingering issue for the party. "Democrats flex all over the place with their numbers," he said. "They either turn out 1.4 or 1.5 million voters, or they turn out 800,000. Democratic losses since Obama's election in 2008 have been because they don't show up, and close wins have happened because they don't show up. In 2014, Mark Warner pulled it out [US Senate race] by the skin of his teeth, and it's because Democrats were sort of chagrined about the state of everything going on in the country."While Republicans have faltered in northern Virginia in recent cycles, they still have a solid base of support in many exurban communities in the state, especially in the Richmond area and Hampton Roads, and they continue to dominate in the rural countryside, which includes Southwest Virginia. Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe listens as President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event for McAuliffe at Lubber Run Park in Arlington, Va., on July 23, 2021. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik The election is inextricably linked to Washington, DCLast fall, Biden captured Virginia and its 13 electoral votes, winning the state by 10 points (54%-44%) in a year where Democrats were especially mobilized against Trump. However, months after the president took office, unexpected turbulence with the administration's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and a stalled domestic agenda in Congress have removed much of the luster from his numbers.In the Washington Post-Schar poll, Biden's approval rating in Virginia sat at 46%, with 51% disapproving. During a virtual meeting with supporters last week, CNN reported that McAuliffe mentioned Biden's sagging approval figure in the state. "We are facing a lot of headwinds from Washington, as you know," he said on the call. "The President is unpopular today unfortunately here in Virginia, so we have got to plow through." While the former governor brushed off the comments, the legislative inaction prompted him to state that the $3.5 trillion price tag for the Democratic-led infrastructure bill was "too high."During a Tuesday interview with The Associated Press, McAuliffe called on Democratic lawmakers in Washington, DC, to "do your job" and do "whatever it takes" to pass substantive legislation. "They got to get their work done," he told the news agency. "People are counting on them."In a state filled with federal workers and military veterans, residents are very much attuned to what emanates from the nation's capital, and McAuliffe clearly wants to see results, Coleman told Insider. "From his perspective, he just wants something passed," he said. "He wants to at least have the perception that Biden is able to pass his priorities. I think you'll see some Democrats across the country kind of trim their sails like him and say, 'We just want something that we can show the voters and say that this was what we've done.'"Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 13th, 2021

Small States Cry Foul on Federal Rental Relief Redistribution

(TNS)—States with small populations say a federal plan to take back unspent emergency rental aid and redistribute it elsewhere is unfair, potentially depriving them and their residents of millions of dollars to address broad affordable housing challenges. Last December’s federal law appropriating $25 billion for emergency rental assistance scattered the money to some 500 grantees […] The post Small States Cry Foul on Federal Rental Relief Redistribution appeared first on RISMedia. (TNS)—States with small populations say a federal plan to take back unspent emergency rental aid and redistribute it elsewhere is unfair, potentially depriving them and their residents of millions of dollars to address broad affordable housing challenges. Last December’s federal law appropriating $25 billion for emergency rental assistance scattered the money to some 500 grantees across all 50 states—but it also authorized the U.S. Treasury Department to recapture unused funds beginning Sept. 30. Under the law, the Treasury can take back money from grantees that failed to spend or allocate at least 30% of their dollars by Sept. 30, and redistribute the money to grantees, potentially in other states, that spent more than 65% of their funds. But grantees and lawmakers in smaller states argue that their sluggish spending pace doesn’t reflect a lack of need. Instead of judging grantees by how fast they are spending the money, they argue, Treasury officials should consider how many tenants are at risk of eviction in their area, and the share of needy applicants who end up receiving help. State allocations were based on population, but the minimum share was $200 million—too much money, critics say, for small states to spend quickly. At the end of August, Virginia, New Jersey and 104 local grantees, including the city of Houston, Prince George’s County in Maryland and Miami-Dade County, had met or surpassed the 65% threshold. At the same time, 204 state and local grantees were under the 30% threshold. Among states, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Delaware and Rhode Island, in order, have the lowest expenditure rates. “The clock is ticking,” said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen during an event in early September with state and local leaders. The White House used the online event to highlight high-performing programs and push slower jurisdictions to pick up the pace. “We need everyone, every state and every community to try to match the spirit of urgency and expediency and to take advantage of the flexibility we’re providing,” Yellen said. Congress approved the Emergency Rental Assistance program to help households earning at or below 80% of their area’s median income. Residents who qualify can get up to 15 months of assistance to cover rent and utility costs. In a Sept. 7 letter to Congress, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, a Republican, acknowledged that “the needs of Wyoming renters will never justify the $200 million allocated to the state,” in large part because 70% of Wyoming households own their homes. However, Gordon argued that “Wyoming desperately needs this funding to cure severe shortages in affordable housing across the state.” In Delaware, reaching the 65% standard would have meant spending $130 million by Sept. 30—an unrealistic target for a state with fewer than a million households, said Marlena Gibson, director of policy and planning at the Delaware State Housing Authority, in an interview with Stateline. Delaware spent $16 million, or 8% of its award, by the end of August. But Gibson said the housing authority is in the middle of processing about 5,500 applications for an additional $32.5 million in assistance. “In Delaware we are tracking our performance against estimates of need, on rental delinquency and the number of applications that we have in progress and processing those,” she said. The Treasury Department says it will gradually remove unspent dollars from programs with low spending rates, but that it will strive to keep the money within state borders. However, states with a single grantee—including Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming—might have to forfeit their money to other states. Grantees also can voluntarily reallocate funds to other programs within the same state. In Nebraska, for example, there are five grantees: the state, grantees in the cities of Lincoln and Omaha, and grantees in Douglas and Lancaster counties. The local programs have spent 80% of their awards, compared with 5% spent by the state program. Shannon Harner, executive director at Nebraska’s Investment Finance Authority, which oversees the state program, said she hopes that any unspent money will remain in the state. Harner said 79% of Nebraska’s allocation went to the state program, even though the other four grantees cover more than half of renters in the state. Lorraine Polak, executive director of the South Dakota Housing Development Authority, said many applicants in her state don’t qualify for help because they were not financially affected by COVID-19. Businesses in South Dakota were never officially shut down. However, she said South Dakota officials hope to keep the leftover money to address the need for more affordable housing. “I think every state would love that opportunity,” Polak said, “because what we’re seeing is that there’s definitely a demand for more housing units and not sufficient funding to meet that demand.” ©2021 The Pew Charitable Trusts Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC The post Small States Cry Foul on Federal Rental Relief Redistribution appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaOct 13th, 2021

America"s Bottom 50% Have Nowhere To Go But Down

America's Bottom 50% Have Nowhere To Go But Down Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog, One might anticipate that the bottom 50%'s meager share of the nation's exploding wealth would have increased as smartly as the wealth of the billionaires, but alas, no. America's economy has changed in ways few of the winners seem to notice, as they're too busy cheerleading their own brilliance and success. In the view of the winners, who just so happen to occupy all the seats at the media-punditry-Federal Reserve, etc. table--the rising tide of stock, bond and real estate bubbles are raising all boats. What's left unsaid is except for the 50% of boats with gaping holes below the waterline, i.e. stagnant wages and a fast-rising cost of living. The truth the self-satisfied winners don't include in their self-congratulatory rah-rah is there's no place for the bottom 50% of American households to go but down. All the winnings flow to those who already owned assets back when they were affordable-- the already-wealthy--whose wealth has soared as assets have shot to the moon while the the burdens of inflation and debt service hit the bottom 50% the hardest. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is whining that inflation isn't high enough yet for their refined tastes. Boo-hoo, how sad for the Fed--inflation isn't yet high enough. Oh wait--didn't they each mint millions by front-running their own policies? No wonder they're not worried about inflation. The reality few acknowledge is that globalization and financialization have stripped the American economy of low-skilled jobs that don't demand much of the employee. The reality is that a great many people don't have what it takes to learn high-level skills and work at a demanding pace under constant pressure--the description of the average job in America. There were once millions of low-skill, low-pay jobs for people who for whatever mix of reasons were unable to muster the wherewithal to fulfill the fantasy of working extra hard, going to night school, soaking up high-level skills, moving quickly up the ladder to higher pay, buying the starter home and then moving up the food chain to middle class security from there. The cost of living was low enough that those working these low-skill, low-pay jobs could still have an independent life. There were still low-cost rentals, often derided by the wealthy, in nooks and crannies of even the costliest cities. (I once lived in a room stuffed with old tax records in a poolside shack in an upscale neighborhood. The room had been cleared for a single bed and a path to the decrepit bathroom. Its most important attribute was that I could afford it on my low earnings.) Affordable housing has vanished, eliminated by the financialization of America's economy. Once landlords pay double the price for the property, rents have to double to pay their higher expenses. The apartment didn't double in size or amenities--the rent doubled without any increase in utility to the renter. You get nothing more for double the price--nice. Yes, people could make better choices, and some do. The point here is the game is rigged against those in the lower tier of the economy who can no longer afford a house or other stake in the only winning game in town--speculative asset bubbles. Go ahead and work a second job and go to night school--you'll still be left behind the already-rich. Globalization opened every job in America to global competition via offshoring or the influx of undocumented workers so desperate to support their families back home that no pay was too low and no working condition too wretched to refuse. Many overindulged pundits who never worked an honest day in their lives sneer about burger flippers without realizing how hard those burger flippers have to work. I doubt the well-dressed pundits, snobbish about their university degrees and general brilliance, could manage to work a single day in a demanding fast-food job. As the price of housing and other assets have soared, enriching the already rich, they're out of reach for the bottom 50% who struggle to pay their bills as wages have stagnated and the costs of essentials have skyrocketed. The rising cost of parking tickets, junk fees, user fees, utilities and food don't impact the well-paid top 5% technocrat class, whose stake in the Everything Bubble keeps expanding by tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. But for the bottom 50%, those incremental increases are, when added to higher rents, absolutely crushing. As for getting high-quality healthcare that includes mental health support--those are reserved for the rich. But no worries, self-medication is always a "choice." Getting a boost in pay from $12 an hour to $15 an hour is welcome, but that doesn't put the worker any closer to affording a house or equivalent stake in the Everything Bubble. The new feudalism is masked by the glossy SillyCon Valley PR of a gig economy where (per the PR fantasy) bright, shiny and totally independent workers freely choose to serve the winners in the rigged sweepstakes for low pay and zero benefits. In the SillyCon Valley PR, serfs freely choose to serve their noble masters for nothing but survival because they love the "freedom" and "choice" of kissing the nobility's plump derrieres. (After all, there were "choices" even back in the good old days of feudalism--one could join the brigands in the forest, or enlist in a poorly paid mercenary army where the odds of dying were high--you know, "choices" of "gigs.") One might anticipate that the bottom 50%'s meager share of the nation's exploding wealth would have increased as smartly as the wealth of the billionaires, but alas, no--the bottom 50%'s share of stocks (equities) actually plummeted in the the glorious decades of Federal Reserve free money for financiers, stock buy-backs and asset bubbles. All this suits the billionaires and those collecting the crumbs of the Everything Bubble just fine. So what if the bottom 50% have nowhere to go but down? There's plenty of room in the homeless encampment for another broken down station wagon or an old camper. There's lots of "choices." And no consequences for the winners, of course, because The Fed has our backs. *  *  * If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com. My recent books: A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF). Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World (Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF). Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 (Kindle), $10 (print), ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF). The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF) Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF). Tyler Durden Tue, 10/12/2021 - 18:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 12th, 2021