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Offline knarf

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Why Your Carbon Footprint Is Meaningless
« Reply #14070 on: September 16, 2019, 06:04:13 AM »
Liberals who call for personal sacrifice to combat climate change aren’t helping. In fact, they’re hurting.

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 220 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.

Almost every good deed you’ve been asked to do to fight global warming is counterproductive. Individual behavior change isn’t action—it’s distraction.

But worse than that: every carbon offset bought by a well-meaning liberal is another get-out-of-jail free card for the fossil fuel industry and the other major contributors to global climate destruction. It shifts the blame from the actual causes of climate change to fake ones, and shifts attention away from meaningful actions to meaningless, psychological ones. And by making real solutions harder to achieve, the mistaken focus on individual behavior change makes global warming worse.

First, if you run the numbers, it’s obvious that even if every do-gooder in the world changed their light bulbs to fluorescents, stopped going on vacation, and bought carbon offsets for every art project they built at Burning Man, none of this would make a dent in global carbon dioxide emissions. There just aren’t enough bleeding hearts to go around.

Moreover, individual behaviors are not the major causes of global warming.

The major drivers are collective enterprises like power grids, industry, and transportation systems. Cutting back on flying while allowing cars and trucks to operate as usual is like drinking diet soda with a bacon double cheeseburger. Their benefit is negligible, and totally negated by the much, much larger problems that are going unchecked.

Fighting global warming takes systemic change, collective action, and cooperation (witting or not) among much larger populations, not just those motivated (and privileged) enough to make changes by themselves.

It takes legislation to shift the most carbon-intensive industries—energy production, transportation, and food production—who will not change on their own.

And it takes real solutions for China and India, who are rapidly approaching United States levels of resource consumption, and who have no intention of missing out on the benefits that Europe and the U.S. have enjoyed (itself an offensive, colonialist notion).

Let’s look at some of the numbers.

Twenty-five percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from electricity generation. If you turn off the light when you leave the room, will that make a difference? Not at all. In the immediate term, excess electricity is dumped back into the grid. Nor, in the long term, will it even matter if everyone switched off their lights. Demand may go down a tiny bit, but only a tiny bit.

What would help? If power grids shifted from fossil fuels (coal, fracked gas, oil) to renewables like wind and solar. That’s how to move the needle on global warming: collective solutions to collective problems. But that takes collective action, government action, and serious plans for workers displaced by the changes.

To take a second example, transportation is responsible for another 14 percent of emissions. Does that mean you shouldn’t take your next vacation, as some well-intentioned writers have seriously suggested? Of course not.

First, commercial aircraft account for only 7 percent of transportation-related emissions. Passenger cars account for 42 percent, and all trucks 41 percent. The solutions in this area, obviously, are to increase fuel efficiency standards, charge a tax on high-emitting vehicles, stop regulating SUVs like cars when they’re really trucks, subsidize electric and hybrid vehicles, and use tax policies to incentivize local products to decrease the amount of trucking.
“If fighting global warming is about making annoying personal sacrifices, those who most need to be persuaded of climate change’s reality will instead turn away from it.”

And what about the rest of the world? Is it reasonable to expect newly rich residents of China, India, and elsewhere to abstain from the air travel that Americans have enjoyed for decades? No, it’s colonialist. But without China and India, what is the point of this individual self-deprivation?

I could go on and on, but the point is the same every time. Individual actions are meaningless when collective actions aren’t taken.

Why do we do them, then?

Control and consolation. For those who understand the science, global warming is a terrifying reality. My daughter’s world will be so much worse than mine: half a billion climate refugees, ethno-nationalist backlashes to that unprecedented migration, global food disruptions, massive expenditures to mitigate the effects of flooding, crop shifts, extreme weather events. I have to do something, right?

Changing my individual behavior feels empowering, maybe even virtuous. The world may be going to hell, but I’m doing my part.

Indeed, the self-deprivation is part of the point. By making painful sacrifices, I feel like I’m making a difference.

Unfortunately, not only is this view false; it’s also profoundly counterproductive.

First, this kind of self-martyrdom detracts from the kind of change that’s actually needed. The environment doesn’t need martyrs; it needs pragmatic, committed activists. Every bit of energy I waste on ineffective, virtuous action is energy that should be spent on defeating Republicans, who, at least for now, are wholly in the thrall of the fossil fuel industry. With a Democratic Congress and a Democratic president, the United States could be making progress on global warming in 2021.

And incidentally, that would be true of any Democrat. The Green New Deal is an appealing slogan and a provocative program, but specific policies are a distant second, when it comes to global warming, to placing scientifically based realists in positions of power. The sole focus of anyone alarmed by global warming should be electing Democrats, of any ideological stripe, to federal and state government.

Second, the focus on individual behavior makes fighting global warming more controversial, while letting the actual entities causing of climate change off the hook. As Elizabeth Warren recently pointed out in an exchange on CNN, individual sacrifices—she mentioned straws, light bulbs, and cheeseburgers—“are exactly what the fossil fuel industry hopes we’re talking about.”

No one likes paper straws. If fighting global warming is about making annoying personal sacrifices, those who most need to be persuaded of climate change’s reality will instead turn away from it.

Meanwhile, Warren continued, 70 percent of U.S. global warming emissions come from three industries: fossil fuels, electric power, and construction. Shift the power grid to renewables, and you can use as many straws as you want. (Side-note: plastic straws pollute the oceans, not the atmosphere. It’s not even the same issue.)

Every carbon offset bought by a well-meaning liberal is another get-out-of-jail free card for the oil industry. It shifts the blame from the actual causes of climate change to fake ones, and shifts attention away from meaningful actions to meaningless, psychological ones.

Now, collective change is hard. It requires progressives to do things like compromise, persuade, and engage with the 28 percent of Americans who describe themselves as “cautious” or “disengaged” about climate change, rather than isolate themselves into cozy bubbles where everyone uses canvas bags. It requires latte-sipping liberals like me to empathize with people who really like eating meat and driving cars and work to adapt climate solutions to their life choices, instead of being contemptuous of them. Most of all, it requires pragmatism over utopianism, to which many progressives are almost congenitally allergic.

But the planet does not have time for our preferences.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/why-your-carbon-footprint-is-meaningless?ref=scroll
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The Navy Says Those UFO Videos Are Real
« Reply #14071 on: September 16, 2019, 05:04:59 PM »
And they were never meant to be released to the public.



The U.S. Navy has confirmed that three online videos purportedly showing UFOs are genuine. The service says the videos, taken by Navy pilots, show “unexplained aerial phenomena,” but also states that the clips should have never been released to the public in the first place.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/6rWOtrke0HY&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/6rWOtrke0HY&fs=1</a>

The three videos in question are titled "FLIR1," "Gimbal," and "GoFast." They show two separate encounters between Navy aircraft and UFOs.

One video was taken in 2015 off the East Coast by a F/A-185F fighter jet using the aircraft's onboard Raytheon AN/ASQ-228 Advanced Targeting Forward-Looking Infrared (ATFLIR) Pod. The other clip, also recorded with a Super Hornet ATFLIR pod, was taken off the coast of California in 2004 by pilots flying from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. In the videos, air crews loudly debate what the objects are and where they came from.

The videos were released for public viewing by The New York Times and To The Stars Academy of Arts & Sciences, a UFO research group from former Blink-182 member Tom DeLonge.

In each case, the objects in the videos undertook aerial maneuvers that aren't possible with current aviation technology. In the 2004 incident, according to The New York Times, the objects "appeared suddenly at 80,000 feet, and then hurtled toward the sea, eventually stopping at 20,000 feet and hovering. Then they either dropped out of radar range or shot straight back up."

Joseph Gradisher, official spokesperson for the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare, told The Black Vault, an online repository of secret and otherwise classified documents, that the Navy "designates the objects contained in these videos as unidentified aerial phenomena."

That terminology is important. "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena" provides "the basic descriptor for the sightings/observations of unauthorized/unidentified aircraft/objects that have been observed entering/operating in the airspace of various military-controlled training ranges," Gradisher told The Black Vault.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/tf1uLwUTDA0&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/tf1uLwUTDA0&fs=1</a>

In other words, the Pentagon says the aerial objects in the videos are simply unidentified, and for now, unexplained. The Navy is pointedly not saying the objects are flying saucers or otherwise controlled by aliens.

Earlier this year, the Department of Defense told The Black Vault that the videos were unclassified, but never cleared for public release, and that there had been no review process within the Pentagon for releasing them.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/wxVRg7LLaQA&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/wxVRg7LLaQA&fs=1</a>

https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/a29073804/navy-ufo-videos-real/?utm_source=reddit.com
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Heart disease killed Ric Ocasek, lead singer of The Cars
« Reply #14072 on: September 16, 2019, 05:14:14 PM »
Emphysema also contributed to the death of the renowned singer-songwriter.


Ric Ocasek of The Cars speaks on stage at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in CLeveland, Ohio on April 14, 2018.

Ric Ocasek, lead singer of The Cars, died from cardiac arrest that was brought on by heart disease, authorities said Monday.

The Office of Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York formally listed the rocker's cause of death as "hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease" with a contributing factor of emphysema, a disease regularly associated with smokers.

The medical examiner's office, which formally called the singer "Richard Otcasek" in documents, ruled his manner of death was "natural." He was 75.

Ocasek, a 2018 inductee to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, was found Sunday inside his New York City apartment where he was pronounced dead.

“We’re truly saddened to hear about the passing of Ric Ocasek,” according to a statement on Monday by John Josephson, chairman and CEO of the songwriter advocacy group SESAC.

“As a songwriter and musician, Ric made a significant impact on American music, setting a standard for aspiring songwriters over the decades and for years to come. We’ll miss him greatly.”

Ocasek co-founded The Cars in Boston in 1976 with bassist and singer Benjamin Orr. The band's sound merged classic guitar-oriented rock with synthesizer-driven pop sounds of the late 1970s and early 80s.

The band recorded more than a dozen Top 40 anthems, including "My Best Friend’s Girl," "Good Times Roll," and "Just What I Needed."

The Cars broke up in the late 1980s, but Ocasek would go on to become a noted producer, working with influential punk and rock bands like Bad Brains, Weezer and Bad Religion.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/heart-disease-killed-ric-ocasek-lead-singer-cars-according-medical-n1055106
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Pakistan blasphemy riots: Dozens arrested after Hindu teacher accused
« Reply #14073 on: September 16, 2019, 05:38:57 PM »

A video purporting to show the mob in Pakistan. The BBC could not independently verify its veracity

Dozens of people have been arrested in Pakistan after a teenager accused his Hindu headteacher of blasphemy, sparking riots.

The principal, who owns the school, was accused of making comments about the Prophet Muhammad in Sindh province.

A large mob then allegedly attacked a Hindu temple, shops and the school in the town of Ghotki on Saturday.

The principal is now in custody facing blasphemy charges. If found guilty, he could face the death penalty.

The rioters have also been charged under the blasphemy act, according to BBC reporters in Pakistan. However, they face a lesser charge of attacking a temple which does not carry the possibility of a death sentence.

Pakistani media reports say 43 people were charged in connection with the attack. A number of others were charged with rioting and theft, Dawn newspaper reports.

"Alleged accused in a sensitive case of Ghotki is now in the custody of police," Dr Jamil Ahmed, the additional inspector general of the local police force, tweeted.

"Situation in Ghotki is back to normal within 12 hours. Fair investigation is being done after confirming facts and justice ensured. Cases against hooligans are being registered and miscreants being nabbed."

The unrest has sparked widespread comment on social media and revived debate about Pakistan's draconian blasphemy laws.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has condemned the violence, sharing a video of the alleged destruction on Twitter.

"The video... is chilling: mob violence against a member of a religious minority is barbaric, unacceptable," it said in the post.

The blasphemy laws have been under the spotlight internationally after Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian who spent eight years on death row, was freed from prison earlier this year, following a Supreme Court decision which overturned her conviction.

Her release sparked riots, and she was forced to seek safety in another country.

What are the blasphemy laws?

Islam is Pakistan's national religion and underpins its legal system. Public support for the strict blasphemy laws is strong.

Hard-line politicians have often backed severe punishments, partly as a way of shoring up their support base.

But critics say the laws have often been used to exact revenge after personal disputes, and that convictions are based on thin evidence.

The vast majority of those convicted are Muslims or members of the Ahmadi community who identify themselves as Muslims but are regarded as heretical by orthodox Islam.

Since the 1990s scores of Christians have also been convicted. They make up just 1.6% of the population.

The Christian community has been targeted by numerous attacks in recent years, leaving many feeling vulnerable to a climate of intolerance.

Since 1990, at least 65 people have reportedly been killed in Pakistan over claims of blasphemy.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-49714196?=1
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Cornell University had a life-changing announcement for its medical students. They'll get a top-notch college education and walk out debt-free.
Weill Cornell Medicine said Monday it would eliminate medical education debt for all students who qualified for financial aid, starting with the students that entered the program this fall.
"By replacing student loans with scholarships that cover tuition, housing and other living expenses, the programs ensures that all students, including those from economically diverse backgrounds, can pursue their medical education without financial burden," the university said in a statement.
The decision was made possible by donor gifts, which round up to more than a whopping $160 million, the university said.

"This bold initiative to eliminate medical education student debt ensures that every student who wishes to become a doctor can do so -- for their betterment and for the patients they serve," Cornell University President Martha E. Pollack said in a statement.
More than half of the program's medical students received need-based scholarships, Cornell said, to cover the cost of attendance -- which is about $90,000 per year.
The average student debt for medical students last year was a little more than $196,000, the Association of American Medical Colleges estimates. And more than 70% of medical education graduates walked out with debt.
As the numbers climb, Cornell joins a list of institutions and states that have begun to push for less expensive education.
Lat year, New York University announced it would offer a scholarship covering the tuition of every new, current and future medical student, regardless of their financial need or academic performance.
In 2017, New York introduced a plan for undergraduate students of two or four-year public colleges to be eligible for free tuition if their families earn up to $100,000 a year. Officials estimated tens of thousands of students would benefit.
In August, California's governor signed legislation to provide free tuition for two years of community college to first-time, full-time California students.
"This is real help for students trying to improve their lives and build their future," California Gov. Gavin Newsom said at the time. He called it a "meaningful step toward chipping away at the cost of higher learning for students and their families."
Even a private citizen stepped up to alleviate some of the financial stress college students are facing today.

In May, billionaire investor Robert F. Smith promised to pay off all student debt for this year's Morehouse College graduates.
"When you have to service debt, the choices about what you can go do in the world are constrained," Morehouse President David A. Thomas said following the announcement.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/17/us/cornell-scholarship-financial-aid-trnd/index.html
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Israel election: Voting under way in second poll in five months
« Reply #14075 on: September 17, 2019, 05:40:36 AM »
Analysts say Benjamin Netanyahu unlikely to be able to secure majority, raising prospect of unity government.


Voting opened at 7am local time (04:00 GMT) and will close at 10pm local time (19:00 GMT) at 11,163 polling stations

Jerusalem - Israeli citizens are casting their ballots for the second time this year, in an electoral race that is widely seen as a referendum on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

About 68 percent of the 5.88 million eligible voters in Israel and illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem are expected to take part in the poll to choose the party that will lead the country's 22nd Knesset or parliament.

Voting opened at 7am local time (04:00 GMT) at 11,163 polling stations, with 31 parties competing for the 120 seats. Counting will start shortly after the polls close at 10pm local time (19:00 GMT) with exit polls and results expected to come in overnight.

Israel's President Reuven Rivlin will then decide who will be given the mandate to form a new government based on the recommendations of the Knesset members. That person is usually the leader of the party that wins the most seats, but if Rivlin thinks this person is unlikely to garner enough support from smaller parties to control at least 61 seats of the Knesset, he may give the task to someone else.

The leader of the party that wins the vote is therefore not necessarily the new prime minister. Once the final results are tallied and calculated, the 120 Knesset members are announced.

It is the first time in Israel's history that two elections have been held in the same year, after Netanyahu failed to form a government following an election on April 9.

The polls pit Netanyahu, the leader of the right-wing Likud party and Israel's longest-serving prime minister, against his toughest opponent in years - former military chief Benjamin "Benny" Gantz of the centrist Blue and White party, and come as he faces the prospect of being indicted on criminal charges in three separate corruption cases.

"There are many questions about Netanyahu's political future. If he loses, it [his future] will be even more uncertain," Israeli political analyst Mayer Cohen said.

Israeli media reported that Netanyahu last week was preparing to postpone the elections in favour of launching a hurried military operation on the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu called up his cabinet ministers to demand their approval, which was given, but did not involve security officials and Israeli army top commanders.

It was only after the intervention of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who informed Netanyahu that verbal consent over the phone is not enough to take Israel to war, that the prime minister relented.

Netanyahu has also been trying to gain support from right-wing parties to push through a draft bill that would provide him immunity against being charged with crimes during his tenure or before coming to office.

"I want a left-wing government with Gantz as the prime minister and the Democratic Camp in a coalition. That's what I hope for but it might be unlikely," Roi, 24, a university student told Al Jazeera in Jerusalem's French Hill neighbourhood.

"I will vote against the Likud and against the Orthodox parties because I don't agree with the way they do things," Oliver, 18, said.

Neck and neck

Analysts do not see big differences compared with the result in April, when Netanyahu's Likud party won 36 seats, just one more than Gantz's Blue and White party.

Recent polls published by Israeli media suggest Likud will win 32 seats and the Blue and White will win 31.

To win a fifth term, Netanyahu needs the continued support of right-wing factions he has previously relied on to clear the 61-seat threshold for a majority. Gantz needs the backing of centre-left blocs among other parties to do the same.

But while Netanyahu may win the most seats, he is not expected to secure enough backing to be able to form a right-wing coalition government.

That may mean several more months of manoeuvring but could also leave Israel with a unity government for the first time since Netanyahu came to power in 2009.

"Neither Netanyahu nor Gantz will be able to form a new government alone," Cohen told Al Jazeera.

"Therefore, the only option may be to form a unity government which brings together the Likud and Blue and White."

According to a pre-election poll by the Israel Democracy Institute, the highest rate of Jewish Israeli voters were in favour of a unity government headed by either Netanyahu or Gantz, while the second preference was for a right-wing government led by Netanyahu.

Potential game-changer

About 4.8 million Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip do not have voting rights.

But Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up about 20 percent of the electorate at about 950,000 voters, could be game-changers if they vote in large numbers, analysts said.

"Because the Arab Joint List is united again, Palestinians citizens of Israel can swing the vote one way or another," said Haifa-based analyst Diana Buttu.

The Arab Joint List is an electoral alliance of four Arab parties, which had split into two groups before the April vote but has now joined forces for this election.

"I never voted before, but I decided to vote for the Arab Joint List because this time it feels like a war against Arabs," said 44-year-old Waleed, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and businessman from Sheikh Jarrah.

Unlike most Palestinian voters who typically vote for the Arab Joint List, a 55-year-old businessman named Mahmoud said he traditionally backs Likud. But this time, he will cast his vote for the Blue and White party, "because I want a less racist government and I thought I would give Gantz a try.

"I wouldn't consider the Arab Joint Lis; it doesn't present us as Arabs or as a country with anything."


A Likud party election campaign banner depicting Benjamin Netanyahu shaking hands with US President Donald Trump in Jerusalem. The Hebrew words read, 'Netanyahu, a different league'

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/voting-begins-israel-election-referendum-netanyahu-190917013312415.html
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Fire sparks mass explosion of semen at cattle breeding centre
« Reply #14076 on: September 17, 2019, 05:45:17 AM »
A fire at a cattle building has caused 100 cylinders of bull semen to explode, in a “huge blow” for farmers.


A fire at Yarram Herd Services caused 100 cylinders of cattle semen to explode.

Thousands of dollars worth of bull semen has been destroyed after a cattle building exploded in fire early this morning.

Emergency services were called to Yarram Herd Services in Gippsland, Victoria, at about 3am where 100 cryogenic cylinders containing cattle semen exploded in the blaze.

It took 10 fire crews more than two hours to contain the fire at the building, which is a cattle breeding service.

Yarram Herd Services’ committee vice-chairman Aaron Thomas said the loss would be a “huge blow” for farmers, with the cylinders worth between $500 and $1000 each.

“We’re coming into the artificial insemination (AI) season so there would have been substantial amounts of semen inside the tanks that we’ve lost which was owned by our local farmers, and it can range in value from $5 per straw to $95 per straw,” he told the ABC.

“A lot of farmers would have semen stock in the building, in those tanks, preparing for AI, so we’ve got that plus all of our herd testing equipment that was in there as well.

“So this is significant damage and it is going to have a flow-on affect on Yarram, especially after the drought that Yarram district has experienced over the last 12 months, it’s going to be a real blow for sure.”

The not-for-profit organisation provides AI, breeding advice, calf dehorning, herd testing and freeze-branding services for farmers in the area.

All the equipment was also damaged in the blaze.

CFA District 10 commander Chris Loeschenkoh said there was nothing salvageable.

Investigators are determining the cause.

https://www.news.com.au/national/victoria/news/fire-sparks-mass-explosion-of-semen-at-cattle-breeding-centre/news-story/a8db0d2f7bdaf29ca3c10c9bb0dc971b
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Edward Snowden says the government is in your phone...
« Reply #14077 on: September 17, 2019, 05:59:32 AM »
insists he only wanted to 'reform' the NSA.

Snowden in an interview from Russia with Brian Williams talked Trump, stealing classified information from the NSA and how cellphones are killing privacy.

54 minute video interview

Edward Snowden, the exiled American who stole classified information from the National Security Agency and gave it to the press, thinks cellphones are killing privacy as we know it and President Donald Trump simply wants to be liked.

Snowden spoke on Monday from Russia with Brian Williams, the host of MSNBC’s “The 11th Hour,” ahead of the release of his new memoir, "Permanent Record." This is the second time Williams has interviewed Snowden. In 2014, Williams traveled to Moscow to meet with Snowden in person for the former CIA employee’s first interview with an American television network.

"Permanent Record" reveals new details about Snowden’s decision to leak classified information in 2013 to journalists at The Guardian and The Washington Post about the NSA’s bulk collection of phone and internet metadata from U.S. citizens.

Snowden defended his actions as he has in previous interviews. He stressed that his goal was not to destroy the NSA, but instead “reform it.”

In the years since fleeing the United States, Snowden said he has grown increasingly concerned about the way disinformation is infecting American politics. He expressed concern for a world he sees becoming “increasingly fractured,” adding that the idea that feelings matter more than the facts is “toxic to democracy.”

“We can’t have a conversation about where we are going,” Snowden said, “if we can’t agree on where we are, if we can’t agree on what is happening.”

Snowden also expressed concerns about the information cell phones are collecting and distributing, arguing that the devices are destroying individual privacy.

He warned that governments are increasingly using the same methods and techniques to access cell phones as criminal hackers.

“Anything you can do on that device, the attacker ⁠— in this case, the government ⁠— can do,” Snowden claimed. “They can read your e-mail, they can collect every document, they can look at your contact book, they can turn the location services on.”

“They can see anything that is on that phone instantly,” he continued, “and send it back home to the mothership.”

Snowden also warned that digital devices like cell phones are using metadata and algorithms to track people’s daily lives, and that the information can be collected, intercepted, and used by both companies and governments alike.

“They’re selling our future,” Snowden said. “They’re selling our past, they’re selling our history our identity and, ultimately, they are stealing our power and making our stories work for them.”

Asked about Donald Trump, he said the chaos that characterizes the Trump era is tied to the “aggressive and offensive things” Trump says. Snowden added that he believes Trump is “actually quite simple to understand.”

Snowden said he believes the president is simply hoping people will like him. “Unfortunately,” he added after a brief pause, “that produces a lot of negative effects.”

https://www.nbcnews.com/msnbc/news/edward-snowden-says-government-your-phone-insists-he-only-wanted-n1055171
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Donald Trump measures political success on two imperfect metrics – poll numbers and crowd sizes – and Elizabeth Warren appears to be crushing it on both counts.

During a major speech at a rally in New York on Monday night, a massive crowd of 20,000 turned out to hear Warren tear into the unprecedented corruption of the Trump era.

The Massachusetts senator called Donald Trump “corruption in the flesh.”

Pictures show a capacity crowd packing into New York City’s Washington Square Park, which is just three miles from Trump Tower.

Warren is steadily building enthusiasm and support.

While former vice president Joe Biden remains the slight frontrunner in the Democratic primary race, even after the latest debate, Elizabeth Warren has slowly and steadily been building and maintaining support.

According to RealClearPolitics, Warren places second in the crowded field of candidates, just barely ahead of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Crowd sizes are a metric of enthusiasm to be sure, and Elizabeth Warren’s campaign has a lot of Democratic primary voters fired up. It bolsters the argument of her supporters that she can get voters who didn’t show up for Hillary Clinton in 2016 to turn out in 2020.

It remains to be seen whether the energy on display Monday will propel her to the Democratic nomination next year, but the images coming out of Donald Trump’s hometown of New York City will likely get under his very thin skin.

https://www.politicususa.com/2019/09/16/massive-crowd-trump-tower-rally-elizabeth-warren-corruption.html
« Last Edit: September 17, 2019, 06:12:28 AM by knarf »
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Bill Gates says climate change is a threat to development because it leads to war
« Reply #14079 on: September 17, 2019, 06:10:56 AM »
Climate change, it seems, is the flavor of the month. Having finally been promoted from a matter of debate to (generally) accepted scientific reality, the issue of how humans are going to cut carbon emissions has taken center stage in September.

There was the marathon 7-hour debate among democratic candidates for US president earlier this month. And on Sept. 23, the United Nations will hold a climate action summit, which will be attended by—among others—teenage climate activist wunderkind Greta Thunberg, who sailed from the coast of England to New York City rather than flying to draw attention to the carbon footprint generated by air travel. It took her two weeks, if you were wondering.

The dangers presented to humanity by climate change aren’t limited to dramatic changes in weather patterns, more frequent catastrophic weather events, or rising sea levels. A warming climate, Bill Gates told Quartz, can also spark a reaction that leads to war.

“The big irony is that sub-Saharan African countries have less than 1% of [global] emissions,” Gates said, “and yet […] they’re going to suffer the most.”

He explained that climate change will create a life-threatening combination of heat and humidity in equatorial Africa. It will also harm agriculture in the region, devastating a population that is more reliant on it for food and livelihoods than other parts of the world. That will lead to food shortages and famine. And all of that will increase the possibility of unrest.

It’s a chain reaction that we may have already seen in Syria. The Syrian conflict began in 2011 when civil unrest in the country’s two biggest cities took hold and then evolved into a full-scale civil war. But before the conflict began, the country had been living through one of the worst droughts in its history. Agriculture was hit hard and more than 1.5 million fled rural areas for the cities. Some scientists now believe that was the catalyst for the conflict.

The war has since sparked a massive exodus of millions of Syrians, who fled to neighboring countries like Lebanon and Turkey, and even further to southern Europe and beyond, destabilizing whole regions and whipping up anti-immigrant sentiment.

“The main reason things go backwards is because of war,” Gates said. Many African countries, he added, could suffer the same fate as Syria.

“People say that because Syria had bad agriculture productivity, that predisposed the country towards instability,” Gates said. “If you look at all these African countries where you could have agricultural productivity problems, if […] the chance of unrest goes up, then you can get some pretty horrific outcomes.”

https://qz.com/1708015/bill-gates-on-the-risk-of-war-from-climate-change/
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Facebook to use Met Police videos to recognise shooters
« Reply #14080 on: September 17, 2019, 05:18:41 PM »

Facebook will be given access to footage from bodycams worn by Specialist Firearms Command officers during their training

Facebook is to use footage from police body cameras to train its algorithms to recognise videos of real-life shootings.

The technology giant will give the cameras to Metropolitan Police Specialist Firearms Command officers.

It will then capture footage as they carry out regular training.

Facebook was criticised for failing to prevent copies of videos of the Christchurch mosque shootings from being shared on its platform.

The announcement came the day before Facebook and other tech firms will face questions from US senators about their efforts to identify and remove violent content from their platforms.

"We did not have enough content depicting first-person footage of violent events to effectively train our machine learning technology," it said in a blog.

The Metropolitan Police said it was "happy to help" develop the technology.

"Technology that automatically stops livestreaming of attacks once identified, would also significantly help prevent the glorification of such acts and the promotion of the toxic ideologies that drive them," assistant commissioner for specialist operations Neil Basu said.

But one artificial intelligence researcher said it could take many years for the project to come to fruition.

"This is definitely a difficult problem and I don't see Facebook solving it soon," explained Christopher Tegho, a software engineer who specialises in video understanding.

"I guess it could be helpful for Facebook to be able to gather more data from something that is close to a real first-person shooter video to help train its models.

"But we are still not close to the same accuracy levels at being able to recognise what is going on in the scene of a video as we are to recognising what is in a still image."

Facebook also said it had:

    removed more than 26 million posts related to groups such as Islamic State and al-Qaeda
    banned more than 200 groups dedicated to white supremacy

"In March, we started connecting people who search for terms associated with white supremacy on Facebook Search to resources focused on helping people leave behind hate groups," it said.

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-49733249
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Vape maker overhauls packaging to counter fakes
« Reply #14081 on: September 17, 2019, 05:25:49 PM »


LOS ANGELES (AP) — A short walk from police headquarters in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, a cluster of bustling shops are openly selling packaging and hardware that can be used to produce counterfeit marijuana vapes that have infected California’s cannabis market.

Bootleggers eager to profit off unsuspecting consumers are mimicking popular, legal vape brands, pairing replica packaging churned out in Chinese factories with untested, possibly dangerous cannabis oil produced in the state’s vast underground market.

The result: Authentic-looking vape cartridges sold by unlicensed dispensaries and delivery services, along with rogue websites.

The deceptive rip-offs on the street could be linked to an emerging public health crisis. Hundreds of people across the U.S. have been sickened, mainly by vaping cannabis oil. Seven deaths have been reported, the latest on Monday in California’s Tulare County.

Public health officials aren’t sure what’s causing the breathing issues, vomiting and other symptoms, but in California they say most patients reported purchasing vapes from pop-up shops or other illegal sellers that are a pipeline for counterfeit products.

The problem has gotten so pervasive that a major legal brand, Kingpen, is investing millions of dollars to redesign its packaging and product security, The Associated Press has learned.

The distributor for another major brand, Heavy Hitters, devotes a section of its website to report phonies and has hired a former federal prosecutor, Priya Sopori, to help the company deal with counterfeiting.

“The danger presented by counterfeit products is just a natural result of not having the money, the resources or the people power to enforce licensing,” Sopori said. “Someone is buying this packaging, buying these cartridges and filling them with whatever. It’s being sold as our brand.”

___

VAPES: A HEALTHIER OPTION?

As marijuana has gone mainstream, versions of e-cigarettes that vaporize high-inducing cannabis oil are one of the hottest-selling items, popular for those who don’t want the smoke that comes from lighting up a joint. In addition to quickly delivering a high, there’s a perception not supported by science that vaping is a healthier alternative to smoking.

In California’s legal market, the world’s largest, the state requires cannabis oil to be tested before being placed on the shelf for sale. For example, safety checks are made for the presence of 66 pesticides, mercury, lead and other heavy metals, and 21 solvents that could be used in the extraction process, when oil is pulled from cannabis.

But it can be hard for consumers to tell whether a product they’re buying is made by a legitimate company. The phony packaging is convincing to the untrained eye, some even carrying bogus labels that appear to carry state-required test results. Most consumers probably wouldn’t know the difference — until they vape it. The taste and THC level could be significantly different from the authentic product.

To add to the confusion, consumers can have trouble distinguishing legal dispensaries from unlicensed shops, which in Los Angeles sometimes operate in the same neighborhoods and appear indistinguishable.

“My biggest fear of counterfeiting is people are getting an unsafe product, and illegal product, and think it’s coming from our company, a legal company,” says Bryce Berryessa, a board member of the California Cannabis Manufacturers Association whose company, Skunk Feather, produces concentrates and vape cartridges.

In another warning of consumer risk related to vaping, an Associated Press investigation Monday found that some operators are substituting illegal synthetic marijuana in vapes marketed as natural CBD, a chemical in cannabis that doesn’t cause a high and promises mainly unproven health claims.

A SOPHISTICATED EFFORT



In storefronts along Los Angeles’ Boyd Street, a narrow commercial strip that has become a de facto bazaar for all things cannabis, there are displays of fake packaging and ready-to-fill vape cartridges for sale for popular brands including Heavy Hitters and Kingpen.

At one shop, the knock-off Heavy Hitter packages were selling for $225 for 100 empty cartridges and boxes; the Kingpen sets sell for $200. Counterfeit packaging and vape cartridges can also be easily found with a few mouse clicks on Alibaba, China’s largest online commerce company, and other websites. Once purchased, a counterfeiter would add cannabis oil that is widely available in the illicit market — one recent online ad was selling oil for $6 a gram when purchased by the liter.

It’s not clear who’s behind all the different sales, and California law enforcement agencies have been overmatched by the widespread illegal market. In LA, the police department’s chief focus is shuttering an estimated 200 illegal dispensaries across the city, not pursuing the source of fake vapes that might be for sale inside them, Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Josh Rubenstein said.

Thus far, the state’s illegal market has been operating largely unchecked, providing a ready market for fakes.

One recent study estimated that consumers are spending roughly $3 in the state’s underground pot economy for every $1 in the legal one. Last week, state regulators raided two unlicensed shops selling bogus marijuana vapes in Southern California, seizing nearly $3 million in products. And in Wisconsin, authorities uncovered a 10-man operation that manufactured thousands of counterfeit vaping cartridges every day for almost two years loaded with oil containing THC, the high-producing ingredient in marijuana.

A likely link between copycat vapes and the stores that sell them was illustrated on Aug. 28. An illegal shop padlocked by police in Los Angeles had a display case prominently displaying Kingpen vapes. The company said it had no relationship with the shop, which was selling vapes at bargain-basement prices, meaning they were almost certainly fakes.

Kingpen has taken matters into its own hands, suing Chinese companies that produce fake packaging, sending scores of cease-and-desist letters to businesses that sell them and filing complaints with the state, only to see nothing change.

“There is no feedback. There is no action,” said Danny Corral, Kingpen manufacturer Loudpack’s vice president of sales.

Others have gone so far as to hire private investigators to locate illicit suppliers but find dead ends. That’s led many in the industry to believe the counterfeit operations are an organized, sophisticated practice.

“We have every reason to believe that the same criminal gangs and cartels that dominate the global pharmaceutical counterfeit drug trade will similarly wrestle control of California’s cannabis counterfeit drug trade,” says a report compiled by Mammoth Distribution and submitted to state regulators. The company distributes Heavy Hitters.

TAKING MATTERS INTO THEIR OWN HANDS



With counterfeits leaching into California’s illegal vape market, the threat for licensed companies is not just millions in lost revenue. They worry their highly valued brands could be forever tainted if people get a mouthful of foul-tasting vapor, or even become sick, from a bogus product carrying their name.

To fight off rampant counterfeiting, the parent company of Kingpen is preparing to shelve millions of dollars in packaging and hardware, then spend millions more launching a redesigned product.

Loudpack is partnering with a technology company and this month plans to roll out an anti-counterfeiting program that will allow customers to verify the authenticity of Kingpen products purchased from licensed dispensaries in the state.

The rectangular paper box will be gone, replaced with a square, metal container. The company’s logo remains, a rendering of a bearded, bloodshot-eyed king, but his face is partially obscured, like he is peering around a corner. There is also a unique code so consumers can validate the product.

In a statement, the company said it hopes the makeover will give consumers “peace of mind in knowing that any Kingpen product purchased legally is in fact authentic.”

https://apnews.com/5817cb09f1b941878013e19e27990fc2
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Saudi minister: 50% of crude reduction restored
« Reply #14082 on: September 17, 2019, 05:28:57 PM »


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Latest on tensions in the Persian Gulf and the fallout after weekend attack on major oil sites in Saudi Arabia (all times local):

10 p.m.

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister says 50% of the production cut by the attack on its oil processing plant has been restored.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman made the comments Tuesday night at a news conference in Jiddah.

The attack Saturday struck a Saudi oil field and the world’s largest crude oil processing plant, which knocked out 5.7 million barrels of crude oil production per day for the kingdom, or about 5% of the world’s daily production.

The prince added that within this month, production capacity will be up to 11 million barrels per day by the end of September. It had been around 9.6 milllion barrels per day before the attack.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels, whom a Saudi-led coalition have been fighting since March 2015, claimed the attack. However, U.S. and Saudi officials say they believe Iran carried out the assault, something denied by Tehran.

___

7:40 p.m.

Egypt’s foreign minister says his country is standing by Saudi Arabia following the weekend attack on major oil sites in the kingdom.

Sameh Shoukry is calling on the international community to collectively back Saudi Arabia and identify who was responsible for the attacks on a Saudi oil field and the world’s largest crude oil processing plant.

He spoke Tuesday in a press conference in Cairo alongside France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Shoukry says Egypt also backs efforts to de-escalate the situation and prevent a “border military confrontation that will have devastated consequences on the region.”

The attack, claimed by Yemen’s Iranian-allied Houthi rebels forced a suspension of 5.7 million barrels of Saudi crude a day and 2 billion cubic feet of gas.

___

6:45 p.m.

Saudi Arabia has instructed clerics across the country to focus their upcoming Friday sermons on the recent attacks that struck key oil installations in the kingdom’s east.

The Islamic Affairs Ministry says the sermons should “emphasize the blessing of security and stability that God has bestowed upon the kingdom of Saudi Arabia” and the “need to rally around its wise leadership,” as well as to ask for God’s protection of the country and to respond to enemies where they are.

The ministry said its efforts are aimed at raising awareness about the dangers facing Saudi Arabia and the importance of supporting its rulers.

The ministry’s instructions were published Tuesday by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

Saudi Arabia and the U.S. allege Iran was responsible for — charges that Tehran denies.

___

5:30 p.m.

France’s foreign minister says his county does not have evidence on the source of the drones used in the weekend attack on major oil sites in Saudi Arabia.

Jean-Yves Le Drian has told reporters in Cairo on Tuesday that: “Up to now, France does not have proof that would allow us to say where the drones came from.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that “emerging information indicates that responsibility lies with Iran.”

Iran has denied involvement.

Saudi Arabia has said its initial investigations indicate that Iranian weapons were used in attacks, and it “will invite U.N. and international experts to view the situation on the ground and to participate in the investigations.”

Le Drian says “the Saudi initiative to establish the facts is a good initiative.”

__

4:55 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s office says France is not giving up its diplomatic efforts in the Persian Gulf crisis.

It says France is still working behind the scenes ahead of Macron’s visit to the U.N. General Assembly — but wouldn’t further comment.

French authorities did not comment on recent developments.

The French Foreign Ministry issued a statement Sunday to say that “France firmly condemns yesterday’s attacks on the Abqaiq and Khurais oil installations, and expresses its complete solidarity with Saudi Arabia. Such actions can only exacerbate the tensions and risks of conflict in the region. It is imperative that they stop.”

___

4:35 p.m.

Saudi Arabia is calling on the international community “to shoulder its responsibility in condemning the perpetrators” and “clearly confronting” those behind an attack on the country’s oil facilities over the weekend.

The government’s statements were carried in state-run media following a weekly Cabinet meeting Tuesday that was overseen by King Salman, who was quoted saying Saudi Arabia is capable of defending against such “cowardly attacks.”

The Cabinet said the attacks on an Aramco oil field and major crude processing facility threaten international security and global energy supplies. The government reiterated its accusation that Iranian weapons were used in the attack, without elaborating further.

The attack, claimed by Yemen’s Iranian-allied Houthi rebels, forced a suspension of 5.7 million barrels of Saudi crude a day and 2 billion cubic feet of gas.

___

4:15 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she doesn’t see the attacks on Saudi Arabia as reason to end its ban on all arms exports to the nation.

An influential lawmaker in Merkel’s party had suggested that Germany should consider allowing the export of defensive weapons systems into the kingdom. But the chancellor said Tuesday she doesn’t “at the moment see any conditions for changing the stance of the German government.”

While condemning the attacks on Saudi Arabia, she said ban was put into effect partially due to Germany’s concerns over the conflict in Yemen, which hadn’t changed.

She says: “I think the events show more urgently that everything must be done to find a diplomatic solution to the Yemen conflict even if that looks very difficult the moment, we must continue to try.”

___

3:10 p.m.

Pakistan’s foreign minister says Prime Minister Imran Khan will travel to Saudi Arabia this week for an important meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the visit will take place on Thursday. He offered no further details in Tuesday’s televised remarks.

The announcement comes a day after the kingdom’s state-run Saudi Press Agency said the crown prince received a call from Khan who “expressed Pakistan’s support” for Saudi Arabia and “fully stand with the kingdom ... in confronting these sabotage acts which threaten global economy” and the kingdom’s security.

Khan contacted the crown prince following Saturday’s attack on key Saudi oil sites that U.S. alleged Iran was responsible for. Iran denies the charge.

Saudi Arabia is a close Pakistani ally and a leading supplier of oil to Islamabad.

___

3 p.m.

Iraq’s prime minister has told NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg that Iraq seeks a balanced foreign policy that serves stability in the region and cannot possibly cause harm to any of its neighbors.

Adel Abdel-Mahdi made the remarks during a meeting in Baghdad on Tuesday with Stoltenberg, who is on a two-day visit to Iraq. That’s according to a statement issued by the prime minister’s office following the meeting.

Abdel-Mahdi was apparently referring to a weekend attack on Saudi oil facilities that both Washington and Riyadh have blamed on Tehran.

U.S. officials earlier suggested the attack may have originated in Iran or Iraq, a claim denied by the Iraqi government. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later said the U.S. has information that supports the Iraqi government’s denial.

___

2:55 p.m.

China has expressed concern about how last weekend’s attack on major oil sites in Saudi Arabia will affect oil markets.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying says that China is “of course very concerned about the impact of the attack on the stability and the security of the international crude oil supply market.”

Oil prices eased on Tuesday after soaring the previous day in the wake of the attack. China is a major importer of oil from the Mideast.

Hua said that China condemns the attacks on a crucial Saudi Aramco oil processing plant and a key oil field.

Chinese statistics bureau spokesman Fu Linghui said Monday that it was too early to gauge the impact on energy markets. He noted that oil prices had been weakening before the attack.

___

11:40 a.m.

Syrian opposition activists say unknown aircraft have attacked posts of Iranian-backed fighters in an eastern town near the Iraqi border.

The activists said the airstrike took place early Tuesday in Boukamal, in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour. There was no immediate word on casualties.

Last week in Syria, unknown warplanes targeted an arms depot and posts of Iranian-backed militias in Boukamal, killing at least 18 fighters. A Syrian security official said Israeli jets were behind the attack but denied there were casualties.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Deir Ezzor 24, an activist collective, said the strikes occurred near the border crossing with Iraq. The opening of the crossing, planned by Iraq and Syria, had been postponed several times in recent weeks.

___

10:30 a.m.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says “there will be no talks with the U.S. at any level” — remarks apparently meant to end all speculation about a U.S.-Iran meeting at the U.N. later this month.

Iranian state TV on Tuesday quotes Khamenei as saying this is the position of the entire leadership of the country and that “all officials in the Islamic Republic unanimously believe” this.

There has been speculation about a possible meeting between President Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, during the upcoming U.N. General Assembly this month in New York.

Tensions roiling the Persian Gulf have escalated following a weekend attack on major oil sites in Saudi Arabia that U.S. alleged Iran was responsible for. Iran denies the charge.

https://apnews.com/7a0673f278ee44829dc77db25675e5d5
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Researchers: AI surveillance is expanding worldwide
« Reply #14083 on: September 17, 2019, 05:53:32 PM »
A growing number of countries are following China’s lead in deploying artificial intelligence to track citizens, according to a research group’s report published Tuesday.

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace says at least 75 countries are actively using AI tools such as facial recognition for surveillance.

The index of countries where some form of AI surveillance is used includes liberal democracies such as the United States and France as well as more autocratic regimes.

Relying on a survey of public records and media reports, the report says Chinese tech companies led by Huawei and Hikvision are supplying much of the AI surveillance technology to countries around the world. Other companies such as Japan’s NEC and U.S.-based IBM, Palantir and Cisco are also major international providers of AI surveillance tools.

Hikvision declined comment Tuesday. The other companies mentioned in the report didn’t immediately return requests for comment.

The report encompasses a broad range of AI tools that have some public safety component. The group’s index doesn’t distinguish between legitimate public safety tools and unlawful or harmful uses such as spying on political opponents.

“I hope citizens will ask tougher questions about how this type of technology is used and what type of impacts it will have,” said the report’s author, Steven Feldstein, a Carnegie Endowment fellow and associate professor at Boise State University.

Many of the projects cited in Feldstein’s report are “smart city” systems in which a municipal government installs an array of sensors, cameras and other internet-connected devices to gather information and communicate with one another. Huawei is a lead provider of such platforms, which can be used to manage traffic or save energy, but which are increasingly also used for public surveillance and security, Feldstein said.

Feldstein said he was surprised by how many democratic governments in Europe and elsewhere are racing ahead to install AI surveillance such as facial recognition, automated border controls and algorithmic tools to predict when crimes might occur. The index shows that just over half of the world’s advanced democracies deploy AI surveillance systems either at the national or local level.

“I thought it would be most centered in the Gulf States or countries in China’s orbit,” Feldstein said.

https://www.apnews.com/d1f77d3dd2684d7e8d7d47cbd192d8dd
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Size matters. Big U.S. farms get even bigger amid China trade war
« Reply #14084 on: September 17, 2019, 05:57:36 PM »
As the 2018 harvest approached, North Dakota farmer Mike Appert had a problem - too many soybeans and nowhere to put them. Selling was a bad option. Prices were near decade lows as U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade war with China weighed heavily on the market. Temporary storage would only buy him a little bit of time, particularly in an area where cold weather can damage crops stored in plastic bags.

So Appert, who farms 48,000 acres (19,425 hectares), cut a check for $800,000 to build eight new permanent steel bins. Thatallowed him to hold onto his bumper crop and wait for prices to recover.

He sold half of the 456,000 bushels stored on his farm throughout the following summer, earning about $1 more per bushel and avoiding storage at nearby CHS elevators or an Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM.N) processor in the area.

(For a graphic on Trump's trade war farm bailout: here:Soybeans.jpg)

The Environmental Working Group, a conservation organization, said in a recent study the top 1% of aid recipients received an average of more than $180,000 while the bottom 80% were paid less than $5,000 in aid.

Appert said that big farmers receive bigger outright payments but less per acre than small farms because of a $500,000 cap per farm.
‘BOOM, BOOM, BOOM’

Big farms can reap the full benefits of new high-tech equipment that boosts farm yields.

Doug Zink, who farms 35,000 acres near Carrington, North Dakota, said he likes to trade in his fleet of four combines and planters nearly every year to ensure that his equipment is under warranty, which saves thousands of dollars in maintenance costs and helps avoid breakdowns during key seeding and planting periods.

They also receive deep discounts - as much as $40,000 for some combine harvesters that can cost as much as $400,000 - allowing them to upgrade more often.

Manufacturers are increasingly willing to cut such deals to keep clients as the number of customers falls. Deere & Co (DE.N) said that it will reduce production by 20% at its facilities in Illinois and Iowa in the second of half of the year. Rival agricultural machine makers AGCO Corp (AGCO.N) and CNH Industrial (CNHI.N) have also slashed production to keep inventory in line with retail demand.

Large farms also have the easiest access to capital, with bankers still eager to provide loans to growers with plenty of collateral. “The ag trend is going to larger farms,” Kusler, the bank president in Hazelton, North Dakota, said “The loans get much larger.”

Appert had no problem getting a loan to finance expansion.

“If you want to get a mortgage and buy a piece of land it is just boom, boom, boom,” he said.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-farmers-consolidation/size-matters-big-u-s-farms-get-even-bigger-amid-china-trade-war-idUSKBN1W218P?utm_source=reddit.com

But most farmers do not have $800,000 to spend on steel bins, and many are going under. The number of U.S. farms fell by 12,800 to 2.029 million in 2018, the smallest ever, as the trade war pushes more farmers into retirement or bankruptcy.

Roger Hadley, who farms 1,000 acres in Indiana, was unable to plant any corn and soybeans this year after heavy rains added to farmers’ woes.

He spent most of the summer trying to plant a combination of grasses, a so-called cover crop, so he could apply for government aid and try again next year.

“The guys that got rich are getting richer,” Hadley said. “It has frustrated a lot of guys.”

In farming, size does matter. The farms left standing after the trade were will likely be some of the biggest in the business. Appert’s operations are more than 100 times bigger than the average American farm and the advantages provided by that magnitude are becoming even more critical as the trade war stretches into a second year.

The declining number of U.S. farmers could hurt the world’s top grain merchants such as ADM and Bunge (BG.N), who will have fewer suppliers. Additionally, farmers will have less need to rent space in the merchants’ grain silos as big farmers like Appert have plentiful storage on their own farms.

ADM said it would continue changing to meet the needs of its customers. Bunge did not respond to an email seeking comment.

By the end of 2018, the average U.S. farm size rose to 443 acres, a 12-year high and up from 441 million in 2017, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

And the biggest farmers are growing their operations even more as retiring farmers choose to lease their land rather than selling it.

When land becomes available for lease, only the biggest farmers can readily shoulder the costs needed to expand.

The size of the loans smaller farmers would need to buy equipment, for example, are too big for applicants with little collateral, said Dave Kusler, president of the Bank of Hazelton in Hazelton, North Dakota.

“It is almost impossible with what the costs are,” Kuslersaid. “In this area you can’t make a living on 1,000 acres.”

Critics say the Trump administration’s policy of compensating growers for lost sales due to the trade war pays the bigger farm operations more, since payments are calculated by acres farmed.
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