Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Washington Post/Brian Fung: Gmail will no longer snoop on your emails for advertising purposes

The Washington Post
Democracy Dies in Darkness

The Switch

Gmail will no longer snoop on your emails for advertising purposes

By Brian Fung June 26 at 11:13 AM

Google is making a change to its advertising practices that will affect millions of Gmail users around the globe. Starting later this year, the company will stop reading your emails to refine its ads.

If you're just learning that Gmail scans your messages, this is an issue that dates back for years. Google's automated systems routinely scanned Gmail users' incoming and outgoing emails to help refine the company's massive data-gathering operation, which in turn supported its enormous targeted-advertising business.

Google's ad business is what keeps the entire company chugging along. Last year, 88 percent of all revenue at Alphabet, Google's parent company, came from Google advertising, according to its annual report.

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The day's top stories on the world of tech.

Only Gmail will be affected by the coming change. In a blog post Friday, the company said its Gmail ad targeting in the future will be based on existing accountwide settings that users can control. (You can visit that settings page here.)

“This decision brings Gmail ads in line with how we personalize ads for other Google products,” wrote Diane Greene, Google's senior vice president of Google Cloud.

It's not clear when the change will officially take place; in a statement to The Washington Post, Google reiterated that it will be this year but declined to offer more specifics.

The history of Google's email scanning has been a checkered one. Privacy groups and activists have filed lawsuits against the company over the practice, which they allege collected user information without those users' informed consent. In 2014, Google suspended email scanning for its educational customers in the wake of one such case, a policy that gradually expanded to cover all of Google's enterprise customers. In the case, nine plaintiffs — including two Google Apps for Education customers — said Gmail's scanning practices violated California wiretapping laws, and also reflected broader concerns that student data should not be used for commercial purposes, according to Education Week.

In December, Google tentatively agreed to hold off on scanning incoming mail until after the messages were available in a Gmail user's inbox, which it argued would help resolve concerns about Google violating state wiretapping laws. That proposal was part of a settlement negotiation that was still ongoing as of March, when a federal judge rejected the proposed settlement in a case involving California privacy law, Matera v. Google. That case is significant because it concerns how Gmail treats emails coming in from other providers, such as Yahoo or Microsoft, whose own customers allegedly have not consented to the Gmail scanning.

In her ruling rejecting the settlement, Judge Lucy Koh said the agreement didn't go far enough in explaining to consumers how Google was treating their messages.

It's unclear how Google's new decision not to scan Gmail messages for advertising purposes altogether may affect that case, but some experts say the move could effectively make the lawsuit moot.

"Certainly ceasing scanning will solve the claims in that case quite easily," said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington think tank. "Obviously, the cost of ongoing litigation here and potential risks involved with losing would have to outweigh value that they get through email scanning for ads."

Google also still scans the content of emails to screen out malware and spam, and could continue scanning messages to help power its Smart Reply feature (which creates robot-generated responses to incoming email that users can select with a click). A Google spokesman didn't immediately respond to a question regarding Smart Reply.

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Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post, focusing on telecommunications, Internet access and the shifting media economy. Before joining The Post, he was the technology correspondent for National Journal and an associate editor at the Atlantic.
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CEPR/Dean Baker: Thomas Edsall Tells Us If We Define Globalization as a Process Designed to Redistribute Upward, the Working Class Won't Like Globalization


Beat the Press

Thomas Edsall Tells Us If We Define Globalization as a Process Designed to Redistribute Upward, the Working Class Won't Like Globalization

    Published: 22 June 2017


That's not exactly what Edsall said in his NYT column, but it is pretty damn close. The theme of Edsall's piece is that in the United States, as in other wealthy countries, the main political divide is between those who support and those who oppose globalization:

    "...if we define globalization as receptivity to open borders, the expansion of local and nationalistic perspectives and support for a less rigid social order and for liberal cultural, immigration and trade policies."

The elites in the United States who claim support of globalization actually do not favor open borders and liberal trade policies, although they dishonestly claim this position. The "globalizers" strongly support protectionist measures that benefit people like them.

First and foremost, they favor longer and stronger patent and copyright protection. These forms of protection (sorry folks, they are still protectionism even if you like them) are enormously costly. They often raise the price of the protected items by hundreds or even thousands of times the free market price.

This is why prescription drugs are expensive. New cancer drugs, which often sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars for a year's treatment, would typically sell for a few hundred dollars in the absence of patent and related protections. The United States will spend more than $440 billion this year on prescription drugs. These drugs would likely cost less than $80 billion in a free market. The difference of $360 billion is roughly 1.9 percent of GDP. If we add in the cost of protectionism in medical equipment, software, and other areas it would likely be more than twice as much.

In addition, while trade policy has been deliberately designed to put manufacturing workers in direct competition with low-paid workers throughout the developing world, which puts downward pressure on the wages of less-educated workers more generally (this is the theory, not an accidental outcome), it has largely left in place the protectionist barriers which benefit doctors, dentists and other highly paid professionals. (Foreign-trained doctors cannot practice in the United States unless they complete a U.S. residency program. Dentists must graduate from a U.S. [or Canadian] dental school. As a result, these professionals get paid roughly twice as much as their counterparts in other wealthy countries.)

When one party openly supports policies that are designed to redistribute upward and lies about the redistributive features of its policies, it is not surprising that most working people will not be inclined to vote for them. (Yep, this is the point of my book Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Have Been Structured to Make the Rich Richer [it's free.])
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Ad week: See All 23 Grand Prix Winners From the 2017 Cannes Lions Festival


See All 23 Grand Prix Winners From the 2017 Cannes Lions Festival
Led by Fearless Girl, Boost Mobile and 'Meet Graham'
By Tim Nudd
10 hours ago
The Outdoor jury awarded two Grand Prix, one to Fearless Girl and one to Twitter's hashtag billboards.

The 2017 Cannes Lions festival has wrapped up, and it’s time to look back at the winners as a whole, as well as some individual pieces that did well. We’ll begin with a Grand Prix roundup.

Some 23 campaigns took home a total of 28 Grand Prix awards this year. See them all below.
Glass Grand Prix – Fearless Girl
Outdoor Grand Prix – Fearless Girl
PR Grand Prix – Fearless Girl
Titanium Grand Prix – Fearless Girl
(4 Grand Prix)

Client: State Street Global Advisors
Entrant: McCann New York
Production: Craft Worldwide New York / Stuart Weissman Productions New York / Copilot Strategic Music + Sound New York

Integrated Grand Prix – Boost Your Voice
Promo & Activation Grand Prix – Boost Your Voice
(2 Grand Prix)

Client: Boost Mobile
Entrant: 180LA, Santa Monica
Production: 180LA Santa Monica / the Corner Shop Santa Monica / Therapy Studios Los Angeles / Atomica Music Texas

Health & Wellness Grand Prix – Meet Graham
Cyber Grand Prix – Meet Graham
(2 Grand Prix)

Client: Transport Accident Commission Victoria
Entrant: Clemenger BBDO Melbourne
Production: Flare Productions BBDO Melbourne / Airbag Productions Melbourne

Creative Data Grand Prix – Care Counts

Client: Whirlpool
Entrant: DigitasLBi, Chicago
Production: Goodstory Films New York / C41 Media New York / Cutters Chicago

Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix – Van Gogh Bnb

Client: Art Institute of Chicago
Entrant: Leo Burnett Chicago
Production: Ravenswood Studios Lincolnwood

Cyber Grand Prix – Aland Index / Baltic Sea Project

Client: The Bank of Åland
Entrant: RBK Communication, Stockholm

Cyber Grand Prix – Did You Mean Mailchimp?

Client: Mailchimp
Entrant: Droga5, New York / Mailchimp, Atlanta
Production: Resn Wellington / Juco Los Angeles / Brosmind Barcelona

Design Grand Prix – The Unusual Football Field

Client: AP Public Company Limited
Entrant: AP Thailand, Bangkok / CJ Worx, Bangkok
Production: Meour Bangkok

Digital Craft Grand Prix – Notget VR

Client: Björk
Entrant: Analog, London / W&N Studio, London
Production: Analog London

Direct Grand Prix – Google Home of the Whopper

Client: Burger King
Entrant: David, Miami
Production: Caviar Los Angeles

Entertainment Grand Prix – Beyond Money

Client: Santander Bank
Entrant: MRM//McCann Spain, Madrid
Production: Oxigeno Barcelona

Entertainment for Music Grand Prix – Original Is Never Finished

Client: Adidas Originals
Entrant: Johannes Leonardo, New York
Production: Human New York / RSA Films Los Angeles / Egg Films Cape Town / Exile New York / Blacksmith New York

Film Grand Prix – We’re the Superhumans

Client: Channel 4
Entrant: Blink Productions, London / 4Creative, London
Production: Blink Productions London

Film Craft Grand Prix – Territory

Client: The Blaze (Musician)
Entrant: Iconoclast, Culver City
Production: Iconoclast Culver City

Innovation Grand Prix – The Humanium Metal Initiative

Client: IM Swedish Development Partner
Entrant: Åkestam Holst, Stockholm / Great Works, Stockholm

Media Grand Prix – Innovating Saving

Client: Jet.com
Entrant: R/GA, New York
Production: Prettybird Culver City / Biscuit Filmworks New York / 1Stavemachine Brooklyn / Mackcut New York / Nomad Editing Co. New York

Mobile Grand Prix – The Family Way

Client: Recruit Lifestyle Co., Ltd.
Entrant: Dentsu Y&R, Tokyo
Production: Dentsu Y&R Tokyo / Tokyo Tokyo

Outdoor Grand Prix – Hashtag Billboards (campaign)

Client: Twitter
Entrant: Twitter, San Francisco

Print & Publishing Grand Prix – Burning Stores (campaign)

Client: Burger King
Entrant: David, Miami

Product Design Grand Prix – The Payphone Bank

Client: Tigo-Une
Entrant: Grey Colombia, Bogotá
Production: La Octava Bogotá

Radio Grand Prix – Repeat the Punchline

Client: KFC
Entrant: Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg

Grand Prix for Good (Lions Health festival) – Immunity Charm

Client: Ministry of Public Health, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Entrant: McCann Health, New Delhi / McCann Worldgroup India, Mumbai
Production: McCann Health New Delhi

Grand Prix for Good (Cannes Lions festival) – The Refugee Nation

Client: Amnesty International
Entrant: Ogilvy New York
Production: Asteroide Films Curitiba / Canja Audio Culture Curitiba / Square Pixel Rio De Janeiro
Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is creative editor of Adweek and editor of AdFreak, its daily blog. He oversees all of Adweek's creative coverage and is co-host of its weekly podcast, Yeah, That's Probably an Ad.
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Dr. Joseph Mercola: Alarming Discovery: Routine Military Procedures Linked to Gulf War Syndrome

Many Veterans Are Denied Benefits for Vaccine Injuries

    June 27, 2017 • 3,872 views

Visit the Mercola Video Library

Story at-a-glance

    American military service personnel injured by vaccines appear to be routinely denied benefits for vaccine-related injuries
    The U.S. military does not track any vaccine-related side effects or injuries, even though military personnel receive a number of mandatory vaccines
    The anthrax vaccine and the oral polio vaccine have both been linked to Gulf War Syndrome, a cluster of medically unexplained chronic symptoms that can include fatigue, joint pain, respiratory and memory problems

By Dr. Mercola

Children and adults injured or killed by vaccines face a long uphill battle when filing for compensation with the U.S. vaccine injury compensation program (VICP), better known as “vaccine court.”

American war veterans injured by vaccines face even grimmer prospects, as veterans appear to be routinely denied benefits for vaccine-related injuries. Part of the problem is that proving a vaccine caused the illness can be difficult, and it’s even more difficult when side effects are not carefully tracked and documented.

Remarkably, the U.S. military does not track any vaccine-related side effects or injuries, even though military personnel receive a number of mandatory vaccines, and despite the fact that concerns over vaccine-related injuries led to the creation of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Vaccine Healthcare Centers (VHC) Network in September 2001.1,2
Military Personnel Blame Health Problems on Controversial Smallpox Vaccine

Fox News Boston3 recently highlighted the cases of Sean Kelly and Mark Bailey, two Marine veterans who developed chronic pericarditis (inflammation of the pericardium, the protective lining around the heart), which is a known possible side effect of the smallpox vaccine.4,5

Unable to work due to the chronic chest pain, Kelly filed for benefits with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) but was denied. He was also unable to file a claim with VICP, as the smallpox vaccine is not a covered vaccine. Other programs dedicated to compensating people injured by the smallpox vaccine were also unavailable, as too much time had lapsed. Suing the government for damages for injury that occurs during military service is also out of the question (Feres Doctrine).

Dr. Bradley Bender, chief of staff for the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System, agreed it can be “quite difficult” to receive VA benefits for a vaccine injury, “especially if you don't have the records that reflect it. There is no blood test that you can do to say this is myocarditis related to smallpox vaccine.”6 Barbara Loe Fisher, director of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), told Fox News 25:

    "That’s just ridiculous, the smallpox vaccine is the most reactive vaccine that has ever been used … They do not want to acknowledge that when these vaccines are given, there are far more people being hurt than they’re willing to admit.”

Is Smallpox Vaccine Wreaking Havoc on US Service Personnel?

Between December 2002 and May 2014, more than 2.4 million service members received the smallpox vaccine.7 This, despite the fact that smallpox (variola) was eradicated in the early 1970s, and routine smallpox vaccination of the American public ceased in 1972.8 The U.S. government began inoculating service members against smallpox in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks, ostensibly to protect them against potential biowarfare using the variola virus.

In the last decade (2007 through April 2017), 898 veterans were granted VA benefits for pericarditis; 2,896 were denied. Another 5,703 veterans were granted benefits for myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle itself, while 12,067 were denied benefits for the same.9 Since no one appears to be monitoring,  tracking and reporting vaccine side effects in military personnel, there’s no telling how many of these cases of myocarditis and pericarditis might have been related to the smallpox vaccine.

While the DOD does not track vaccine injuries, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has stated that up to 2 percent of vaccinated individuals may experience side effects that “could result in disability or death,” adding that:

    “Some service members who received [anthrax and smallpox] vaccines experienced severe reactions such as migraines, heart problems and the onset of diseases including diabetes and multiple sclerosis … Some of these events may occur coincidentally following immunization, while others may truly be caused by immunization.”10

DOD’s VHC Network Is Clearly Failing in Its Mission

According to the GAO, the purpose of the VHC Network is to “meet the health care needs of service members receiving mandatory immunizations. This includes educating service members about how to prevent adverse events and diagnosing and treating those with severe reactions.”11 Yet that does not appear to be happening, at least not routinely or as a matter of course.

Dr. Frank Fisher, Lt. Col. in the Air Force Reserve Medical Corps, claims the technician who gave him the anthrax vaccine refused to answer any of his questions about the shot he’d been given.12 She wouldn’t even disclose the type of vaccine he’d received. Following this injection, Fisher developed bone marrow loss, Tourette’s syndrome and a breathing disorder. His and other vaccine-injured service members’ firsthand accounts are included in the Democracy Now! report above.
Anthrax Vaccine Linked to Gulf War Sickness
Download Interview Transcript

In 1997, the DOD announced it would vaccinate all military personnel against anthrax. As noted by Dr. Meryl Nass13 — a leading expert on the anthrax vaccine — there were significant questions about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness from the very start. In a 2002 paper14 published in the American Journal of Public Health, Nass notes that, “The anthrax vaccine was never proved to be safe and effective. It is one cause of Gulf War illnesses, and recent vaccinees report symptoms resembling Gulf War illnesses.”

In her paper, she also pointed out the DOD has acknowledged the systemic reaction rate for the anthrax vaccine is as high as 35 percent, not the 0.2 percent listed on the package insert. Vaccine studies conducted by the military have reported even higher rates of systemic reactions — as high as 48 percent. An unpublished survey at the Dover Air Force Base found the rate of “chronic, unresolved reactions” associated with the anthrax vaccine was 29 percent.

Gulf War Syndrome is a blanket term for “a cluster of medically unexplained chronic symptoms that can include fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia, dizziness, respiratory disorders and memory problems.”15

Not surprisingly, there were financial conflicts of interest at play when this vaccine was added to the military’s list of mandatory vaccines, which Nass detailed in her interview. Hundreds of military personnel began falling ill once the anthrax vaccine became routine, and many within the military began fighting the mandate. The movement culminated in no less than 13 congressional hearings on the various aspects of the anthrax vaccine program. Yet it continues.
Anthrax Threat May Be Overblown

To this day, the VA downplays the possible side effects of the anthrax vaccine,16 limiting descriptions of signs of serious reactions to things like wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness and dizziness, making no mention of its possible link to the “cluster of medically unexplained chronic symptoms” associated with Gulf War Syndrome.

The justification for the continued use of the anthrax vaccine is that the risk of side effects is better than contracting the disease, which is usually contracted through the skin by direct exposure to an infected animal, or animal waste and by-products, or contaminated soil. Veterinarians, farmers and researchers working with animals are at higher risk of being infected with anthrax, which can enter the bloodstream from a cut in the skin, inhaling anthrax spores into the lungs or by swallowing anthrax spores.

Indeed, anthrax disease is a very serious bacterial infection that can kill within days as lethal toxins from the anthrax bacteria multiply in the body if antibiotics are not given immediately. The mortality rate for skin-acquired anthrax left untreated is 10 to 20 percent, but the mortality rate for anthrax that is inhaled into the lungs or through the gastrointestinal tract it much higher.

Unlike most other bacteria, the anthrax bacterium forms potent spores that can remain alive under harsh conditions for 100 years or longer. Once the ideal conditions are present once again, the spores can open up and start reproducing. If the spores germinate, they reproduce and create additional spores that can again survive for a century or more.

The rugged survivability of the anthrax spore is what makes anthrax a potentially effective threat if weaponized and dropped from an airplane or exploded in a bomb, for example, effectively contaminating an area forever. Once the spores are inhaled they can cause overwhelming infection, and can be lethal in as little as two to seven days.

However, that doesn’t mean an anthrax vaccine given to every soldier is necessary. The anthrax bacterium is very responsive to antibiotics and, if administered before symptoms develop, antibiotics tend to be 100 percent effective, according to Nass. The only type of antibiotic that does not work is the cephalosporins, as anthrax is naturally cephalosporin-resistant. As noted by the NVIC, anthrax bacteria are also destroyed by hydrogen peroxide and diluted formaldehyde.17

Granted, there may be genetically engineered strains of anthrax out there somewhere, designed to resist modern antibiotics. But even then, the threat may not be as great as they make it out to be, because anthrax is not contagious. You must be directly exposed to the spores to get sick, and you cannot spread it to others, which means the vaccine itself is probably a far greater health threat to military personnel than the threat of anthrax infection.
Oral Polio Vaccine Also Linked to Gulf War Syndrome

In 1996, researchers also suggested that the live oral polio vaccine (OPV) contaminated with animal retroviruses may be playing a role in Gulf War Syndrome, prompting the NVIC to call for an investigation into that vaccine, as well as the multiple other vaccines, experimental drugs and environmental toxins that were given simultaneously to soldiers deploying for the Gulf War. At the time, NVIC wrote:18

    “The Pentagon directed that military personnel heading for the Gulf receive as many as 17 different live viral and killed bacterial vaccines simultaneously, including polio, cholera, hepatitis B, adenovirus, influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, meningococcus, plague, rabies, tetanus, diphtheria, typhoid, yellow fever, anthrax and the experimental botulinium toxoid. In addition, they were given the experimental drug pyridostigmine bromide, a nerve agent.

    NVIC … has been a vocal critic of the lack of credible scientific studies supporting the safety of simultaneous administration of multiple viral and bacterial vaccines and the lack of scientific studies to identify high risk populations.

    ‘The question that must be answered immediately,’ said NVIC co-founder and president Barbara Loe Fisher, ‘is whether a significant minority of Gulf War veterans responded with immune suppression to the potpourri of live viral and killed bacterial vaccines given to them and were subsequently vulnerable to further immune and neurological damage when they were given drugs and came into contact with environmental toxins in the Gulf.’”

Indeed, a decade-old VHC Network PowerPoint presentation19,20 claims the smallpox and anthrax vaccines are quite safe, blaming the high rate of injury instead on the practice of giving multiple vaccines simultaneously and/or drug-vaccine interactions. According to that presentation, of 2.4 million vaccinated service members, up to 48,000 of them (2 percent) sustained disability requiring them to be taught new skills and/or died as a result of serious side effects of the vaccines given.

This presentation, dating back to 2007, also touches on myo/pericarditis as a side effect of not only the smallpox vaccine but also the anthrax vaccine. For the smallpox vaccine, the risk of myo/pericarditis is listed as 1 per 6,000 to 7,000 vaccinated, but notes that the “actual risk may be higher.” Slide 12 also notes that “other new adverse events case definitions” are “in progress,” such as “new onset acute urticaria,” and “angioedema evolving to chronic disease after live virus vaccines.”
Vaccine News Around the Globe — The Insanity Spreads

Barring financial motives, it’s near-impossible to understand the current vaccine hysteria sweeping the globe. Italy recently passed a law mandating 12 vaccines for children attending state schools,21,22 and as of June 1, German child care centers and kindergartens are required — by law — to inform health authorities if parents have not submitted proof that they have received counseling about vaccination from pediatricians.

Fines for failing to receive vaccine counseling from a doctor could result in fines of up to $2800 (2500 euros).23 The mandatory reporting by schools of parents who have not received vaccine counseling is because of a spike in measles in Germany; 410 measles cases had been reported by mid-April, compared to 325 for all of 2016.24

Meanwhile, in the U.S., congressional members from Florida are urging the Army to hold public hearings before awarding exclusive rights to Sanofi to develop a Zika vaccine — rights that would give them a monopoly on the vaccine until 2036, without preset conditions on pricing.25

The question no one seems to care about is whether a Zika vaccine is needed at all. Why is the U.S. military partnering with a private drug company over a virus of such low to no concern?26 Puerto Rico recently declared an end to its outbreak, and transmission has evaporated in Brazil, American Samoa, New Caledonia and Saint Barthelemy, as well.27

While the birth defect microcephaly is one of the primary risks allegedly associated with Zika infection, outcome statistics reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control suggest the risk is quite low. In the U.S., of 1,579 pregnant women with lab confirmed Zika infection in 2016 until May 23, 2017, 72 delivered babies with some form of birth defect, and eight women who lost their child to miscarriage or stillbirth had a child with some form of birth defect.28

But is Zika-induced microcephaly really a cause for concern? As far back as 2009, the average annual number of microcephaly cases reported in the U.S. was 25,000 — without a Zika virus in sight.29

Clearly, Zika virus is NOT the only, nor a major, contributor to microcephaly. Also, recall this: In January 2016, models predicted 60 percent of the U.S. population would become infected with the dreaded Zika by that summer30 — 60 percent! Clearly, that did not happen, but there were no mass announcements declaring the doomsday prediction null and void.
Military Abuse: Secret Shots

In my view, the hysterics calling for mandatory inoculations with this-that-or-the-other vaccine are driven by something other than desire to protect public health. If that were their aim, they would not be eager to sacrifice people so wantonly. Even if "only" 2 percent of the U.S. population is predisposed to vaccine injury, we are talking about nearly 6.2 MILLION men, women and children! That’s no small price tag.

That military personnel are used as guinea pigs for experimental vaccines is also morally reprehensible. The video above is a Target 5 News report from 2007, questioning whether our servicemen and women are being recruited into secret medical experiments without their knowledge or consent.

By all appearances, that’s exactly what’s happening. The question is how long will our leaders allow these violations of human rights to go on? If recent legislation is any indication, it appears secret medical experimentation is being weaseled into law, making the American public fair game as well.

The 21st Century Cures Act, which was quickly pushed through Congress and became law in December 2016, allows the waiving of the requirement of informed consent for participants in clinical trials if researchers believe an experimental medical device, drug or vaccine being tested poses no more than minimal risk to the patient's health, or if the product being tested is deemed by researchers to be in the best interest of trial participants.

The Act also lowers FDA standards for the quality of evidence that drug companies have to provide to the FDA before drugs and vaccines are licensed and sold in the U.S. When you consider the big picture, you’d have to be sticking your head in the sand to not care about vaccine safety these days.

With forced vaccinations spreading like wildfire around the globe, we must all fight back and insist on informed consent to medical risk taking, and the right to say no to any vaccine we deem not in our best interest or the best interest of our child.
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NASA Completes Milestone Toward Quieter Supersonic X-Plane

June 26, 2017
RELEASE 17-059

NASA Completes Milestone Toward Quieter Supersonic X-Plane

NASA has achieved a significant milestone in its effort to make supersonic passenger jet travel over land a real possibility by completing the preliminary design review (PDR) of its Quiet Supersonic Transport or QueSST aircraft design. QueSST is the initial design stage of NASA’s planned Low Boom Flight Demonstration (LBFD) experimental airplane, otherwise known as an X-plane.

Senior experts and engineers from across the agency and the Lockheed Martin Corporation concluded Friday that the QueSST design is capable of fulfilling the LBFD aircraft’s mission objectives, which are to fly at supersonic speeds, but create a soft “thump” instead of the disruptive sonic boom associated with supersonic flight today. The LBFD X-plane will be flown over communities to collect data necessary for regulators to enable supersonic flight over land in the United States and elsewhere in the world.

NASA partnered with lead contractor, Lockheed Martin, in February 2016 for the QueSST preliminary design. Last month, a scale model of the QueSST design completed testing in the 8-by 6-foot supersonic wind tunnel at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

"Managing a project like this is all about moving from one milestone to the next,” said David Richwine, manager for the preliminary design effort under NASA’s Commercial Supersonic Technology Project. “Our strong partnership with Lockheed Martin helped get us to this point. We’re now one step closer to building an actual X-plane.”

After the success of completing the PDR, NASA’s project team can start the process of soliciting proposals later this year and awarding a contract early next year to build the piloted, single-engine X-plane. The acquisition for the LBFD X-plane contract will be fully open and competitive, with the QueSST preliminary design data being made available to qualified bidders. Flight testing of an LBFD X-plane could begin as early as 2021.

Over the next few months, NASA will work with Lockheed on finalizing the QueSST preliminary design effort. This includes a static inlet performance test and a low-speed wind tunnel test at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

For more information about QueSST and LBFD, visit:


For more information about NASA’s aeronautics work, visit:



Monday, 26 June 2017

HuffPost/Deborah James: State of Play in the WTO Toward the 11th Ministerial in Argentina


State of Play in the WTO Toward the 11th Ministerial in Argentina  

by Deborah James

This article was published by HuffPost on June 26, 2017. If you would like to reprint it, please credit the original publisher. If this email was forwarded to you, subscribe to CEPR's email lists here.

The 11th Ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina on December 10–13, 2017. After years of languishing while other “free trade” agreements were negotiated, big business has turned its focus back to the WTO, particularly among the high-tech sector that now includes five of the seven largest corporations globally. They are determined to achieve in WTO what they have yet to secure in any other deal: new rules that will lock in profit-making opportunities in the digitalized economy of the future. The prize they seek in Argentina is a mandate for new negotiations under the rubric of “e-commerce,” but the reality is that these new rules will further constrain the ability of governments to promote prosperity and reduce inequality, even as they suffer the political consequences of the revolts of communities that have been left behind.

There was hope early on that Trump might not be as interested in fronting the interests of the “big tech” industry as the previous administration. As it turns out, members of his trade team have begun referring to e-commerce as a priority for the United States moving forward, including “harvesting” the chapter on e-commerce from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) for other agreements.

In addition to e-commerce, negotiations are heating up on several key areas related to trade in services that would limit the ability of governments to constrain corporate behavior in the public interest. Talk of likely outcomes from Buenos Aires also includes new rules to discipline fish subsidies that are contributing to a global over-fishing crisis – but these new rules may be a hidden vehicle for helping big fleets at small fisherfolk’s expense.

Unfortunately, negotiators are not paying as much attention to what should be the core agenda: transforming the global agriculture rules that restrict developing countries from ensuring food security for their populations while allowing big agribusiness nearly limitless public subsidies; and increasing flexibilities for developing countries to use trade for their own development.

Danger Ahead: Locking in Corporate Rights and Locking Out Public Oversight

Starting with a U.S. proposal in July 2016, nearly a dozen e-commerce proposals have now circulated in the WTO, many with overlapping proposed provisions. They are designed around a borderless, digitized global economy in which major technology, financial, logistics, and other corporations like Amazon, FedEx, Visa and Google can move labor, capital, inputs, and data seamlessly across time and space without restriction. They also want to force the opening new markets, while limiting obligations on corporations to ensure that workers, communities, or countries benefit from their activities.

Proponents disguise their proposals in the Trojan Horse of being necessary to unleash development though the power of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) using e-commerce. But SMEs are the least likely to be able to compete with giant transnational corporations, which enjoy the benefits of scale, historic subsidies, technological advances, strong state-sponsored infrastructure, and a system of trade rules written by their lawyers.

Key provisions of the proposals including prohibiting requirements to hold data locally or even have a local presence in the country, plus no border taxes on digital products. But there is no economic rationale as to why digitally traded goods should not have to contribute to the national tax base, while traditionally traded goods usually do. And data is now the most valuable resource; that’s why markets highly value companies that give away their services to consumers for “free.” Locking in rules in the WTO to allow corporations to transfer data around the world without restrictions would forever deny the right of countries to benefit from their own data and intelligence in the future. It also has serious implications for both data privacy and consumer protection. What WTO proponents call “localization barriers” are actually the tools that countries use to ensure that they benefit from the presence of transnational corporations to advance their own development.

We already know the hallmarks of Uber and Amazon include dislocation in labor markets and precariousness of work. That would accelerate if their proposals were accepted in the WTO. Tech giants would consolidate their monopoly power. Their infamous tax evasion would be facilitated by a binding international treaty, and it would be nearly impossible to rein in the resulting financial instability.

WTO members do not currently have a mandate to write new global rules on “e-commerce,” and they should not obtain one in Buenos Aires. Even without new WTO rules on e-commerce, e-commerce is flourishing and SMEs can already sell their products online. Of course, e-commerce can be a force for job creation and development, and certainly has the power to expand innovation, increase consumer choice, connect remote producers and consumers, and increase global connectedness. But this is not the same as having binding global rules written by Google for its own benefit.

Threats to Public Interest Regulation

A similar corporate agenda is behind the effort to have new rules limiting domestic regulation of services. In order to provide a service, there must be an individual, in some cases a trained professional, who often has professional qualifications they must satisfy. There is usually a company, which is often required to be licensed to provide the service. Finally there is the method of delivering the service, and generally governments have technical standards (such as anti-earthquake provisions in construction) to which service providers must adhere.

Unfortunately the focus of proposed rules on Domestic Regulation in the WTO is not to increase the social value or accessibility of the service, but rather seek to ensure that three kinds of regulation - the qualification requirements and procedures, the licensing requirements and procedures, and the technical standards - are “reasonable,” “objective,” “transparent,” and “not more burdensome than necessary to ensure the quality of the service,” and further that the technical standards should be developed in an “open and transparent process.”

These are open-ended terms. How they are interpreted in the WTO could severely undermine the regulatory sovereignty of countries, putting the interests of foreign services providers above the government obligations to ensure that services are operated in the public interest. Who decides whether the administration of labor, tax, environmental or safety laws affecting foreign services firms is “reasonable”? Would a local zoning commission agreeing with local objections to the placement of a big box store near a historic site be “objective?” If a state decided to accept an environmental review’s recommendation to ban fracking as a method of mining gas, would that be considered “too burdensome?” Trade panels rather than local governments could be in charge of deciding community issues that are inherently subjective because they involve important judgment calls.

And note – this is for domestic regulation; the proposed rules would not only apply in the arena of traded services, which is where WTO’s remit should end. Members did agree years ago to develop any necessary disciplines on these measures – but most developing countries, and even the United States, are doubtful as to whether such rules are “necessary.”

Fishing: Subsidizing the Poor or the Rich?

The other big ‘deliverable’ being pushed for Buenos Aires is a way to tackle the problem of overfishing by negotiating limits to the subsidies that governments provide to fisheries. There is a clear path to a pro-development and pro-environment outcome, if industrial fleets that are given subsidies to increase capacity to overfish are disciplined, while artisanal fisherfolk who provide nutrition and livelihoods are further supported to grow in a sustainable way. Unfortunately, some of the WTO proposals appear to place extra burdens on developing countries with limited regulatory capacity, while exempting fossil fuel subsidies to large fleets – which would lead to increasing market share of the big fishing operators. It would be better to wait until all countries are able to assess the possible ramifications of various types of disciplines before ending up harming the smallest producers.

Room for Improvement: Fixing Bad Existing Rules Not Expanding Them

Both e-commerce rules and domestic regulation disciplines would amount to an expansion of the WTO. But most WTO members have argued that existing unfair and damaging rules must be fixed before the WTO can be expanded. This fight was at the heart of the last Ministerial, which concluded with ambiguous language acknowledging that some countries wanted to bring in new issues, while others wanted to continue with the unfinished development agenda in the Doha Round.

Agricultural Rules Must Prioritize Food Security

Top priority for a genuine development agenda would be transforming the current rules on agriculture. There are two key aspects: making the rules more flexible so that countries can feed their people, and reining in the subsidies for products entering the global marketplace.

Unbelievably, it is the rich countries, not the poor, which are currently allowed to subsidize agriculture under WTO rules – even in ways that distort trade and harm other countries’ domestic producers – because countries are still allowed to subsidize at the levels they were giving when they entered the WTO. For the United States and EU, that means USD $19.1 billion and €72.2 billion a year, respectively. These subsidies encourage overproduction and artificially depress world prices, wiping out farmers’ livelihoods in countries that should be benefitting from global agricultural trade. Thus, a major aspect of the current negotiations – and hopefully an outcome in Buenos Aires – would be to reduce the amount of subsidies under the “domestic support” negotiations.

By contrast, countries like India and most African countries are only allowed miniscule subsidies, because they were not subsidizing when the initial WTO rules were negotiated. However, the world has changed vastly since these rules were first put in place in 1995. The interim decades have brought several global food crises, as a result of decreasing domestic production in developing countries, volatile commodity markets, consolidation in the retail and production chains, and climate change, among other factors. Over the years, many developing countries found that the policy dictates of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank – including abandoning investments in agriculture while opening their markets to imports – left them subject to growing import bills and food insecurity.

Now the pendulum is swinging back towards supporting domestic food production. The Sustainable Development Goals entreat countries to invest in increasing sustainable agriculture, while at the same time there is growing acceptance of the “right to food” as a human right. One of the international best practices for supporting farmers’ livelihoods, ensuring food security, and promoting rural development is the policy of “public stockholding,” in which governments guarantee farmers a minimum price for their production, and distribute that food to hungry people within their own borders. Amazingly, these programs, implemented in about 20 developing countries, run afoul of WTO rules – even though the agriculture supported is not traded in global markets.

A coalition of nearly 50 developing countries in the WTO is advocating that public stockholding programs should not be constrained by antiquated WTO rules. But the changes have been steadfastly blocked by the United States, the EU, Australia and other big agribusiness exporters. The US turning reality on its head by accusing China and India of being the “biggest subsidizers.” But on a per capita basis, their payments per farmer remain miniscule – about USD $348 per farmer for China and $306 for India, as compared to $68,910 for the US.

WTO members agreed to find a permanent solution to the public stockholding programs by December of this year. Unfortunately the positions of countries representing Cargill, Tyson, BRF and Monsanto have remained entrenched. Action from food security and food sovereignty activists could help tip the balance to ensure a positive outcome on this issue in Buenos Aires.

More Flexibility for Development Policies

Along with transforming the global rules governing agricultural trade, developing countries have long advocated for other changes to the existing WTO to increase flexibility for developing countries to enable them to enact policies that would promote development.

In 2015, a group of 90 developing countries made concrete proposals for changes to existing WTO rules that would remove some WTO constraints on national pro-development policies. Many of them are updated versions of the “Implementation Agenda” that have formed the basis of developing country critiques of the existing WTO since the time of its foundation. These include, for example, changes to allow developing countries to promote domestic manufacturing capabilities, stimulate the transfer of technology, promote access to affordable medicines, and safeguard regional integration. Many of these proposals parallel the civil society demands encompassed in the Turnaround Statement of the global Our World Is Not for Sale network, endorsed by hundreds of civil society groups from around the world.

Even in an area that all WTO members should be able to agree on – ensuring benefits for LDCs – there is no consensus yet. Although it was a priority mandate, the small LDC package agreed in the WTO Ministerial in Bali in 2013 is not yet operationalized. This includes ensuring 100 percent Duty Free, Quota Free market access for LDCs’ exports; simplification of the Rules of Origin that define how much of the value of a product has to be produced in the country to qualify for reduced-tariff benefits; and providing actual binding commitments for the LDC services waiver (which allows developed countries to provide market access in services for LDCs without offering reciprocal access to other countries – a “flexibility” which has proven almost impossible to utilize). It also includes mandated reductions in the subsidies that the US and the EU provide to cotton producers – which enrich a few thousand there, but that have unfairly decimated production of hundreds of thousands of cotton farmers in Africa.

Even worse, just one WTO member – the United States – appears to be not only refusing to agree to the development proposals, but also working to ensure that the development mandate in the WTO is forever abandoned. If it succeeds, the world would be permanently locked into the existing inequalities and imbalances – at the behest of one member of the WTO, which claims to operate by consensus.

Much is at stake this December in Buenos Aires. Yet the outcome will depend on the pressure brought by various stakeholders on their governments as they shape policy positions in advance of the actual Ministerial. Some are even saying that a “mini-Ministerial,” in October in Morocco will be the main decision-making moment. Business interests are sure to weigh in with governments. Will civil society – trade unionists, environmentalists, public interest and development advocates – do the same? And most importantly – will governments, facing upheavals domestically and uprisings at the polls – follow their corporate masters or act in the interest of their citizens and change course at the WTO?

Deborah James is the Director of International Programs at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and coordinates the global Our World Is Not for Sale (OWINFS) network of civil society organizations working for a sustainable, socially just, and democratic multilateral trading system.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) is an independent, nonpartisan think tank that was established to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives.

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Environmental Leader/Jennifer Hermes: Help May Be on the Way for Industry’s Water Challenges

Environmental Leader

Help May Be on the Way for Industry’s Water Challenges

June 26, 2017 by Jennifer Hermes

A large proportion of US companies may not be aware of the risks that face their businesses in terms of water challenges, according to the CDP. Just 34% of companies responding to a CDP survey in 2016 had undertaken a water assessment that included both direct operations and supply chain. But as the market for desalination and water reuse solutions heats up, companies may soon have more – and better -choices for managing water risk.

With today’s water challenges coming from a variety of areas outside of any one company’s control, it can be difficult for groups of companies to find a common solution. “Individual business action will always have limited impact and most water risks can only be mitigated by the effective and concerted action” of a group with common interests and concerns, says Morgan Gillespy, head of water for the CDP (via Forbes).

With that in mind, Gillespy suggests that for most companies working individually, the first step in managing corporate water risk is to understand the ways in which that risk will impact their business. That means undertaking a comprehensive water risk assessment. Often, such a risk lies in the health of catchment in which a business is situated.

A Research and Markets study indicates that in the face of new technologies, shifting public opinion and developing water recycling programs, there are now major opportunities to provide cost-effective and sustainable innovative water solutions. As competition for building and bringing new solutions to market increases in coming years, commercial and industrial customers may find their water options increasing and costs falling.

Beer brewing is one of the industries that have come under the microscope recently in terms of its water intensity, in large part because beer is made up of 90% to 95% water. Last week, Ballast Point Brewing Co. announced that it has been experimenting with new technology and has just completed its first two batches of beer made with water extracted literally from thin air. That is, the brewer is using water produced from Ambient Water’s AW400 water generator, which extracts moisture from San Diego’s coastal fog and produces hundreds of gallons of potable water per day.

Categories Environmental Management, Feature, Manufacturing, WaterTags water, water risk
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Saba Halogen/Susan Mazza: How To Shift Complaints To Constructive Conversation

Talent Management Blog
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How To Shift Complaints To Constructive Conversation

by Susan Mazza | Posted June 16th, 2017 | Leadership

How To Shift Complaints To Constructive Conversation

Complaining is normal. We all complain about something on occasion. But when your team seems to be spending more energy complaining rather than on making progress, it’s time to intervene. It’s important to note that, while complaining can be obvious and overt, many times complaining is happening in informal, more covert, conversations. Still, you can recognize the inertia of complaints in the form of blaming and excuses about why things aren’t going as well as expected or planned. Complaints can also manifest as a general mood of discontent.

While the need to intervene might seem obvious, a typical approach to dealing with complaints is to ignore them or attempt to shift the conversation to something more positive. The prevailing belief seems to be that the best way to deal with a complaint is to let it resolve itself or shift the focus to something positive.

But is the power of positive thinking enough to overcome the downward pull of complaining and demonstrably shift to constructive conversation?

When there’s a one-off complaint or a single complainer, positive thinking can be enough to shift the focus and mood. On the other hand, when the complaint is shared among many, changing the subject or ignoring the complaint is unlikely to turn the complaint into a constructive conversation. In fact, left unattended, a persistent and widely held complaint can create an unhealthy pressure that will undoubtedly be experienced by you and your team or organization.
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It’s a bit like a volcano whose pressure is building. On the surface everything appears just fine, even though you can actually feel the tension bubbling underneath. By ignoring or glossing over the issues and concerns people are complaining about, you inevitably increase the pressure. And the more people fear openly expressing a complaint, especially when a group of people agree with the complaint, the more negative pressure will grow.

The key to shifting a complaint into a constructive conversation is letting off some of the steam. You do that by supporting people in fully voicing their complaint without trying to address or fix the problem.

From there, if you want to turn a complaint into a constructive conversation, here’s five things you’ll need to do:
1. Adopt the perspective that nothing is wrong

Consider that when there is a complaint, it does not mean something is wrong. It simply indicates that something is in the way of progress or inconsistent with how you and others want things to be. In fact, behind every complaint is a commitment to something.
2. Focus on the future vs. the past

People often worry that if they allow people to complain, the conversation will turn too negative and spiral downward, perhaps even getting out of control. The key to preventing that downward spiral is to set a future-based context for the conversation. The future could be achieving a goal, realizing a vision or making things better for the future.
3. Listen to hear, not to fix

Resist the urge to jump into problem-solving mode immediately. Not all complaints can or need to be addressed or fixed. Believe it or not, sometimes people just need to be heard. A great technique is to give someone back what you heard them say, including why it matters to them. Do not try to move on until they have affirmed you fully understand their communication.
4. Ask what they want to happen

The key to having a constructive conversation is to help people to focus on how they want things to be vs. how they should have been. After all, you cannot change the past, but you do have the power to alter the future.
5. Begin the conversation about how to adjust

Once everyone is clear about how they want things to be, change can only happen one conversation at a time. Once people feel they have been heard and have had a chance to consider how they want things to be, the conversation often naturally shifts to what can be done to make things better for the future. Is there a request they could make to initiate a change? Is there an action they can take to take a step toward creating the future the way they want it to be?
Moving from complaint to progress

Shifting a complaint to a constructive conversation requires that you give room to the all too human tendency to complain, so you can free up the human capacity to pursue the future and do something remarkable. It can take a bit of courage, but with a focus on the future you might be surprised at just how positive and energizing a conversation that begins with a complaint can become.
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Turn your constructive conversations into employee development plans.

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About the Author
Photo of the author: Susan Mazza

Susan Mazza

CEO of Clarus Works, Susan Mazza is a business coach and motivational speaker who works with leaders and their teams to transform their performance, relationships and work environment from acceptable to exceptional. For the Halogen blog, Susan shares how leaders can best serve their talented workforce (or workforce talent), and ignite and sustain high performance through exceptional leadership.

Named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders by Trust Across America/Trust Around the World in 2013/2015, Susan co-authored The Character-Based Leader and is the founder/author of the highly acclaimed blog RandomActsofLeadership.com.

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FastCompany/Adele Peters: Al Gore Wants You To Have “Realistic Hope” About Solving Climate Change

Fast Company

  06.19.17 creative conversations

Al Gore Wants You To Have “Realistic Hope” About Solving Climate Change

It’s easy to feel pessimistic, but with his new film–An Inconvenient Sequel–the former vice president is returning to the screen to rally the fight for the planet.

Al Gore Wants You To Have “Realistic Hope” About Solving Climate Change
The extended forecast: “Among the lessons I’ve learned is the importance of conveying realistic hope. Because despair can be paralyzing.” [Photo: Mark Mahaney]

By Adele Peters 9 minute Read

A decade after the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth made the threat of climate change real to millions of moviegoers, the film’s star, Al Gore, is back to make it even more so. In An Inconvenient Sequel, due in theaters July 28, he shares an outlook that is both more dire and more optimistic: Last year was the hottest ever on record, but it also marked a high point for installations of renewable energy. Gore believes that the momentum for positive change has become unstoppable, no matter what current politics might indicate. “We will solve this crisis,” Gore says. “No doubt about it.” (This interview has been condensed and edited. You can read the full interview here.)

Fast Company: What made you want to make a sequel to An Inconvenient Truth?

Al Gore: Since we still have so much work to do, a lot of people over the past several years have asked me if I would be willing to make a sequel—in particular Jeff Skoll, whose company, Participant Media, made the first movie. I have to tell you that when the idea for the first movie was presented to me, over a decade ago, I was skeptical. I was consistent this time around and skeptical once more. I guess I was just worried because the first one was so well received. But I’m glad that wiser heads prevailed.

FC: The movie balances a sense of urgency over the growing climate crisis with a great deal of hope. At one point, you visit a small, conservative town in Texas that’s now committed to being 100% powered by renewable electricity.

AG: That’s one of my favorite scenes. I think the achievements of Georgetown, Texas, are especially important because they demonstrate that all the wonderful work that has been done by innovators, by scientists, technologists, startups, and CEOs has come together to produce a startling revolution in renewable energy, with solar and wind electricity now cheaper than electricity made from burning fossil fuels in many places. Georgetown, a very conservative community, took a close look at the economics of all the options available to them. Partly because they have a CPA as the mayor, they made the bold decision to follow the economics and break free from the patterns of the past. They’re enjoying the benefits of that decision now.
Related Video: The Time To Act On Climate Change Is Now

FC: Industry experts have argued that wind and solar power are now cheap enough that they will continue to grow regardless of what happens politically. Some corporations are also committing to ambitious climate action. How much do you think the business world can accomplish on its own without strong policy?

AG: Many parts in the business world are way ahead of most of the political world, at least in the U.S. However, the pace of change can be profoundly accelerated with the right government policies. We’re still putting 110 million tons of globe-warming pollution into the earth’s atmosphere every 24 hours—treating it like an open sewer—and much of it will remain there for hundreds of years. Some for thousands of years. If we don’t accelerate the pace of change, the damage done to the prospects for human civilization would be quite severe. So it is important that we have the right policies. For example, the subsidies around the world for the burning of fossil fuels are 40 times larger than the meager subsidies for renewable energy.

FC: There’s a scene in the movie, filmed on November 10, where you call the 2016 election a setback and say that it’s one of a long line of setbacks in addressing climate change. How much damage do you think the new administration could do, or how much has it possibly already done? (Trump pulled out of the Paris climate agreement earlier this month after Fast Company‘s interview took place. Gore called the decision “reckless” yet made the case that cities states and businesses are still moving forward.)

AG: It’s difficult to predict. Some of their early policy decisions have of course been discouraging, but it’s almost impossible to overstate the significance of what happened in Paris, a year ago December, when every nation in the world, save a few exceptions hardly worth mentioning, agreed to go to net zero greenhouse emissions early in the second half of this century. Because that sent a signal to businesses, investors, and local and national governments everywhere. And that signal has been received. The pace of change has accelerated dramatically.

FC: You have said that American leadership is necessary for climate action. Do you still think that?

AG: Yes, I do. There is a law of physics that has become something of a cliché in politics, and that is that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. There’s no doubt in my mind that the impressive surge of support for progressive organizations is evidence that there is an equal and opposite reaction to Trumpism that is now taking hold in American democracy.

Al Gore visits Trump Tower in December. [Photo: Dennis Van Tine/Newscom]
FC: What happened during your meeting with President Trump in December? (The two also reportedly spoke by phone in May.)


AG: Well, I appreciate and respect the question. But I have followed a policy of not violating the privacy of those exchanges. I believe that any president who enters into a set of confidential exchanges deserves to have them treated privately. And so forgive me if I don’t violate that rule. It also safeguards the opportunity for a continuation of the dialogue.

FC: In order to fix the climate crisis, you believe that we need to fix the democracy crisis. Do you think we can restore political discourse quickly enough to address climate change?

AG: I sure hope so. Already we see every important policy-reform movement living and breathing on the internet. We see bloggers affecting policy debates. We see digital fact-checkers blowing the whistle on these big lie campaigns that still flourish in television advertising—the climate deniers, for example. I’m optimistic that this trend will continue. And you know, the Bernie Sanders campaign last year. I’m not endorsing his platform—I agreed with some of his ideas and disagreed with others—but I want to give him all the credit he deserves for proving that a serious nationwide presidential campaign can be mounted without any special-interest money, relying exclusively on small contributions over the internet from people who agree with the ideas a candidate expresses. Ideas, the best available evidence, vision, a sensible course for the future—that should count for a lot more than some fat cat’s contributions of money in return for special favors in policy designed to support their source of revenue.

I’m very fond of the wisdom expressed by the late economist Rudi Dornbusch, who I had the privilege of knowing. He once said that things take longer to happen than you think they will. But then they happen much faster than you thought they ever could. The civil rights movement, the women’s suffrage movement, the abolition movement long before, antiapartheid, gay rights—all of these revolutions seemed at times almost hopeless to many of the advocates. But once the underbrush was cleared away, and the ultimate choice was resolved into a binary decision between what’s right and what’s wrong, then it began to happen with lightning speed. And I think that’s where the climate movement is now. We are right at that inflection point.

In a scene from An Inconvenient Sequel, Gore talks with typhoon survivors in the Philippines. [Photo: Jensen Walker, Paramount Pictures]
FC: Climate change is a topic you’ve been talking about for years. What have you found to be the most effective way to communicate your message?

AG: Among the lessons I’ve learned is the importance of conveying realistic hope. Because despair can be paralyzing, and the fear of these consequences is not necessarily the most effective way to change minds and motivate people. But when you can convey hope in a realistic way, that unlocks a higher fraction of the potential for change.

FC: How do you make climate change a priority for people worried about more immediate issues, such as their job?

AG: First of all, jobs in the solar industry are growing on an annual basis 17 times faster than average job growth in the economy as a whole. The single fastest-growing job description over the next 10 years is predicted to be wind-power technicians. Second, more people are actually beginning to make solutions to the climate crisis one of their top priorities. One reason is that Mother Nature has joined this discussion. Climate-related extreme weather events are increasingly impossible for people to ignore. After a while, people say, Wait a minute, this is not an abstract debate. This is affecting my life.

FC: You run an investment management firm that focuses on sustainability. How long do you think it will take for sustainability to be a standard consideration for all investment firms?

AG: I think there is a big movement now that is gaining speed. When sustainability is integrated properly into the investment process, the evidence indicates that returns can improve. There is voluminous academic research now showing that in most sectors of the economy, companies that fully integrate sustainability into their business plans are outperforming their competitors. For example, it helps tremendously in recruiting and retaining the best employees. Because people want to work for a firm that shares their values.

FC: What would you tell someone who wants to support climate action but doesn’t know where to begin?

AG: Learn about it. Don’t let climate-change denial go unchallenged. Be a conscious participant in the marketplace, because your choices not only help incrementally but also exert leverage on businesses. And participate in the political process. The threshold for popular democracy making a difference may be higher in an age when big money contributions still play an unhealthy role. But that threshold can be crossed, and we’re seeing the impact of all the people showing up at these town hall meetings already. There are now 30 Republican members of the House of Representatives who have changed their positions to be supportive of solving the climate crisis. We don’t need many more before we have a working majority in Congress. And it never should have been a partisan issue anyway.

Read our full interview with Gore here.
[Photo: Mark Mahaney]
30-Second Bio: Al Gore

Title: Cofounder and chair of Generation Investment Management; partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; founder and board member of the Climate Reality Project; board member at Apple

Education: Bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard University; studied philosophy and law at Vanderbilt University

Previous jobs: Former vice president of the United States and congressman from Tennessee; founder of the former Current TV network, which sold for a reported $500 million in 2013

Awards: Nobel Peace Prize, together with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in 2007; Primetime Emmy Award for Current TV in 2007; star of the 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth, which won the Academy Award for best documentary in 2007
A version of this article appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of Fast Company magazine.
About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.

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BioDesign/Graham Knight: Compound forest farms


Agro-forestry in the Past - Small compound farms in the future

The papers below were published around 1980 and, it seems, ignored!

They remind me of Malaria research; it has been proven that untreated Artemisia plant cures malaria but, as no-one can say exactly why, it is banned in many countries! And the majority of malaria researchers agree with this as they believe it has not and cannot be '' proven scientifically" unless you can isolate the effective agent! In the case of complex agriculture this sort of science is impossible so universities mostly ignore this area of concern.

Even in 1980 efforts were being made to use agriculture for exports but since then, and especially in recent years, exports have become the only real concern! This has resulted in mono-crop agriculture that has produced sterile soils along with the destruction of forests that are so vital - if only for the rain they produce.

The last extract below shows what is possible in stricken areas but we need guidance towards a compromise; preserving the best we can of 'productive' nature along with ways of producing some income to purchase basic necessities.

I'm hoping that information will be provided by readers, that I can publish here, that will give guidance to those in rural parts of the tropics as how they can move to a more sustainable way of life. All the more important with climate change.

Do you know of such a place where they seem to be trying to get the balance right? It will be few more years before we lose our good soil in northern latitudes!

Graham K


Crop mixtures in traditional systems Akinola A. Agboola
Professor of Soil Fertility and Farming Systems, Department of Agronomy, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria


The traditional cropping system is stable because it is adapted to the farmers' level of technology and the soils' capability.

It incorporates mixed cropping and bush fallow, and it gives a high total return per unit area of land. Furthermore, growing crops in mixtures is consistent with the farmers' goal of security. Their present systems have evolved naturally as an answer to the challenging environment in which they live.

Researchers have been hesitant to tackle multiple cropping experiments in general, and agro-forestry in particular, because of the infinite combinations possible, lack of knowledge about existing systems, and the traditional separation between agriculture and forestry. Also, multiple cropping is associated with unmechanized farming and low productivity; research in intercropping and multiple cropping should be geared to increasing the productivity and returns in both arable crops and forest products. The peasant farmers' system of agro-forestry should be improved upon, and researchers should evolve a combination of arable crops and fast-growing trees that can be easily adapted by smallholder farmers.

The traditional cropping systems will continue until an alternative is evolved that can fit into present technology, environmental constraints, and at the same time maintain high crop yield.

My feeling is that agro-forestry research has the potential of offering an early and viable alternative

Agricultural tree crops as a no-tillage system

R.D. Bowers
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, Nigeria


The crisis in tropical agriculture is demonstrated by falling food production and migration to the towns It is argued that this is an inevitable process resulting from the inability of tropical agriculture to compete with the industrialized agriculture of the temperate zones. Industrial agriculture is a high-input agriculture, and success or failure depends on the input:output ratio. In the humid tropics, the input: output ratio is unfavourable, and industrial agriculture therefore impossible; hence the only viable form of production is subsistence farming. The obvious alternative to subsistence farming is mixed tree cropping, in which the characteristics of the natural forest cover are copied as closely as possible. Only in this way can the productive potential of the environment be realized and the fertility of the soil maintained. Crop mixtures may be selected from oil palm, coconut palm, breadfruit, plantains, coffee, cocoa, cola, citrus, and other trees.

A plea is made for a research programme to be devoted to mixed tree cropping as one of the possible ways to improve the agriculture of the region lying between 10�N and 10�S.


Now some good news:
Landscape restoration in Ethiopia brings watershed to life -  2017

The group stood under tall trees, bathed by bird song, with luscious grasses and pools of clean water at its feet. So that it can regenerate, this part of Gergera has long been closed to cattle. “The first thing you notice is the change of vegetation,” said ICRAF’s Director General Dr. Tony Simons, pointing out a Sclerocarya birrea, a tree with a nutritious plum-like fruit with an oil rich kernel.

By consent of the community, only cutting and carrying grass to livestock and beekeeping are permissible in this upper catchment. Indeed, the wooded hillsides are rife with carefully placed hives. Gabions built by members of the community slow the rain water when it courses down the chasm, which, formerly too deep to cross, is gradually filling as earth builds up behind the structures. Critically, this earth now retains rainwater, which seeps into the ground and emerges as groundwater in the valley where 1000 ha of land are now under small scale irrigation. It was not always like this.

From; http://blog.worldagroforestry.org/index.php/2017/06/06/landscape-restoration-in-ethiopia-brings-watershed-to-life/

Investopedia/Prableen Bajpai: The World's Top 10 Economies

The World's Top 10 Economies

By Prableen Bajpai, CFA (ICFAI) | Updated February 8, 2017 — 7:33 PM EST

When it comes to the top 10 national economies around the globe, the order may shift a bit, but the key players usually remain the same, and so does the name at the head of the list. The United States has been the world’s biggest economy since 1871. But that top ranking is now under threat from China.
The Top 10 Economies in the World

Note: This list is based on IMF’s World Economic Outlook Database, October 2016. Select data is from the CIA World Factbook.
1. United States

The U.S. economy remains the largest in the world in terms of nominal GDP. The $18.5 trillion U.S. economy is approximately 24.5% of the gross world product. The United States is an economic superpower that is highly advanced in terms of technology and infrastructure and has abundant natural resources. However, the U.S. economy loses its spot as the number one economy to China when measured in terms of GDP based on PPP. In these terms, China’s GDP is $21.3 trillion and the U.S. GDP is $18.5 trillion. However, the U.S. is way ahead of China in terms of GDP per capita (PPP) – approximately $57,294 in the U.S. versus $15,423 in China.
2. China

China has transformed itself from a centrally-planned closed economy in the 1970s to a manufacturing and exporting hub over the years. Since it initiated market reforms in 1978, the Asian giant has achieved economic growth averaging 10% annually (though it’s slowed recently) and, in the process, lifted almost half of its 1.3 billion population out of poverty and become the undisputed second-largest economy on Earth. The Chinese economy has already overtaken the U.S. economy in terms of GDP, based on another measure known as purchasing power parity (PPP), and is estimated to pull ahead of the U.S. steadily in the following years. However, the difference between the economies in terms of nominal GDP remains large with China's $11.3 trillion economy. The Chinese economy has long been known for its strong growth, a growth of over 7% even in recent years. However, the country saw its exports projected to grow only by 1.9% in 2016, and total GDP growth has gone down to 6.5% and is projected to slow to 5.8% by 2021. The country's economy is propelled by an equal contribution from manufacturing and services (45% each, approximately) with a 10% contribution by the agricultural sector. In its October 2012 World Economic Outlook report, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected that China’s gross domestic product (GDP) would outpace that of the U.S. as early as 2017. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) forecasts China's GDP (based on 2005 PPP) at $15.26 trillion for 2016, exceeding the forecasted U.S. GDP of $15.24 trillion for the very first time.
3. Japan

Japan’s economy currently ranks third in terms of nominal GDP, while it slips to fourth spot when comparing the GDP by purchasing power parity. The economy has been facing hard times since 2008, when it first showed recessionary symptoms. Unconventional stimulus packages combined with subzero bond yields and weak currency have further strained the economy (for related reading, see: Japan's Economy Continues to Challenge Abenomics). Economic growth is once again positive, to just over 0.5% in 2016; however it is forecasted to stay well below 1% during the next six years. The nominal GDP of Japan is $4.73 trillion, its GDP (PPP) is $4.93 trillion, and its GDP (PPP) per capita is $38,893.
4. Germany

Germany is Europe’s largest and strongest economy. On the world scale, it now ranks as the fourth largest economy in terms of nominal GDP. Germany’s economy is known for its exports of machinery, vehicles, household equipment, and chemicals. Germany has a skilled labor force, but the economy is facing countless of challenges in the coming years ranging from Brexit to the refugee crisis (for related reading, see: 3 Economical Challenges Germany Faces in 2016). The size of its nominal GDP is $3.49 trillion, while its GDP in terms of purchasing power parity is $3.97 trillion. Germany’s GDP (PPP) per capita is $48,189, and the economy has moved at a moderate pace of 1-2% in recent years and is forecasted to stay that way.
5. United Kingdom

The United Kingdom, with a $2.65 trillion GDP, is currently the world’s fifth largest. Its GDP in terms of PPP per capita is $42,513. The economy of the UK is primarily driven by services, as the sector contributes more than 75% of the GDP. With agriculture contributing a minimal 1%, manufacturing is the second most important contributor to GDP. Although agriculture is not a major contributor to GDP, 60% of the U.K.’s food needs is produced domestically, even though less than 2% of its labor force is employed in the sector. After the referendum in June 2016 when voters decided to leave the European Union, economic prospects for the UK are highly uncertain, and the UK and France may swap places. The country will operate under EU regulations and trade agreements for two years after the formal announcement of an exit to the European Council, in which time officials will work on a new trade agreement. Economists have estimated that Brexit could result in a loss of anywhere from 2.2-9.5% of GDP long term, depending on the trade agreements replacing the current single market structure. The IMF, however, projects growth to stay between 1.05-1.09% in the next five years.
6. France

France, the most visited country in the world, today has the sixth largest economy with a nominal GDP of $2.48 trillion. Its GDP in terms of purchasing power parity is around $2.73 trillion. France has a low poverty rate and high standard of living, which is reflected in its GDP (PPP) per capita of $42,384. The country is among the top exporters and importers in the world. France has experienced a slowdown over the past few years and the government is under immense pressure to rekindle the economy, as well as combat high unemployment which stood at 9.8% in 2016 (a slight drop from 10.35% in 2015). According to IMF forecasts the country's GDP growth rate is expected to rise over the next five years, and unemployment is expected to continue to go down.
7. India

India ranks third in GDP in terms of purchasing power parity at $8.7 trillion, but its nominal GDP puts it in a seventh place with $2.25 trillion. The country’s high population drags its GDP (PPP) per capita down to $6,658. India’s GDP is still highly dependent on agriculture (17%), compared to western countries. However, the services sector has picked up in recent years and now accounts for 57% of the GDP, while industry contributes 26%. The economy’s strength lies in a limited dependence on exports, high saving rates, favorable demographics, and a rising middle class. India recently overtook China as the fastest growing large economy.
8. Italy

Italy’s $1.8 trillion economy is as of this writing the world’s eighth largest in terms of nominal GDP. Italy is among the prominent economies of the Eurozone, but it has been impacted by the debt crisis in the region. The economy suffers from a huge public debt estimated to be about 133% of GDP, and its banking system is close to a collapse and in need of a bailout/bail-in. The economy is also facing high unemployment, but saw a positive economic growth in 2015 for the first time since 2011, which is projected to continue. The government is working on various measures to boost the economy that has contracted in recent years. The GDP measured in purchasing power parity for the economy is estimated at $2.22 trillion, while its per capita GDP (PPP) is $36,313.
9. Brazil

With its $1.77 trillion economy, Brazil now ranks as the ninth largest economy by nominal GDP. The Brazilian economy has developed services, manufacturing, and agricultural sectors, with each sector contributing around 68%, 26%, and 6% respectively. Brazil is one of the BRIC countries, and was projected to continue to be one of the fastest growing economies in the world. However, the recession in 2015 caused Brazil to go from seventh to ninth place in the world economies ranking, with a negative growth rate of 3.2%. The IMF does not expect positive growth until 2017, and the unemployment rate is expected to grow to over 11% during the same time period before it declines again. The Brazilian GDP measured in purchasing power parity is $3.1 trillion, while its GDP per capita (PPP) is $15,211.
10. Canada

Canada has recently pushed Russia off the top 10 list with a nominal GDP of $1.53 trillion. Canada has a highly service-oriented economy, and has had solid growth in manufacturing as well as in the oil and petroleum sector since the Second World War. However, the country is very exposed to commodity prices, and the drop in oil prices kept the economy from growing more than 1.2% in 2015 (down from 2.5% in 2014). The GDP measured in purchasing-power parity is $1.7 trillion, and the GDP per capita (PPP) is $46,239.

The nominal GDP of the top 10 economies adds up to over 66% of the world’s economy, and the top 15 economies add up to over 75%. The remaining 172 countries constitute only 25% of the world’s economy.
Will It Even Matter?

Only for bragging rights! With a population less than one-fourth that of China, the U.S. is still projected to remain one of the world’s most prosperous economies in terms of per capita GDP, which reflects living standards and quality of life for a nation’s residents. Even so, it throws an interesting light on the whole subject of GDP and global economies.
And Looking Forward …

Some other economies that are a part of the “trillion-dollar” club and have the potential to make it to the top 10 going ahead are South Korea ($1.4 trillion), Russia ($1.26 trillion), Australia ($1.25 trillion), Spain ($1.25 trillion), and Mexico ($1.06 trillion).

By the year 2020, a great shift is projected to occur in the worldwide balance of economic power. Most of the economies in the current top 10 list are developed countries in the western world. But analysts predict emerging market economies will become some of the most important forces in the next few years.
The Top Economies of 2021

The rising importance of emerging market economies in 2021 will have broad implications for the world’s allocation of consumption, investments and environmental resources. Vast consumer markets in the primary emerging market economies will provide domestic and international businesses with many opportunities. Although income per capita will remain the highest in the world's developed economies, the growth rate in per capita income will be much higher in major emerging market nations such as China and India.

According to projected nominal GDP, the top economies in 2021 will be China, the U.S., India, Japan, Germany, Russia, Indonesia, Brazil, the U.K. and France respectively. One of the major reasons for the growth of emerging economies is that advanced economies are mature markets that are slowing. Since the 1990s, the economies of advanced countries have experienced far slower growth in comparison to the rapid growth of emerging economies such as India and China. The worldwide financial crisis from 2008 to 2009 fueled the trend of decline among the advanced economies.

For example, in 2000 the U.S., the number one economy in the world, accounted for 24% of the world's total GDP. This declined to just over 20% in 2010. The financial crisis and a faster-paced growth by emerging economies were key factors in the decline of the U.S. economy in relation to China. In the mid-2000s, Japan’s economy saw a slight recovery after a lengthy period of inactivity that was due, at least in part, to inefficient investments and to the burst of the asset price bubbles. The global economic downturn has had a significant impact on the country because of prolonged deflation and the country’s heavy dependence on trade.

The economies of countries in the European Union, which include France, Italy and Germany, account for just over 20% of the world’s total GDP. This is a relatively large decrease from the year 2000, when these countries collectively held over 25% of the world’s GDP. The increase in average population age and rising unemployment rates is contributing to this slowdown.

Before the Brexit vote in late June 2016, the IMF issued a report warning the UK of the economical consequences of leaving the EU. Brexit aside, the IMF predicts advanced economies will experience a growth of less than 3% in 2020. Advanced economies are also facing challenges in terms of public debt reduction and government budget deficits. The IMF also forecasts that growth of Asian economies will be significantly higher, at approximately 9.5%, and it is one of the factors driving the worldwide economic recovery.
The Advance of Emerging Countries

Emerging economies are catching up with the progress of the advanced world and are predicted to overtake many of them by 2020. This will cause a substantial shift in the global balance of economic power. China’s share of the world’s total GDP increased more than 6% from 2000 to 2010. As already noted, by some calculations, China is already ranked as the largest economy in the world.

Many analysts foresee India surging in growth and taking over Japan’s place as the third largest economy in the world by 2020. Some believe India may grow even more rapidly and push the U.S. into third place. Analysts point out India’s young and faster-growing population as key factors in the rate of growth for this country’s economy.

Russian and Brazilian growth potential is great, as both countries are two of the world’s largest exporters of natural resources and energy. However, in the future, the lack of economic diversification in Russia may be likely to cause the country some difficulty with continued growth.

Analysts also expect that by 2020, Mexico will have the 10th largest economy by GDP measured at PPP terms. The country’s proximity to the U.S., growing business and trade deals with the U.S. and a growing population will aid its economic development.
Implications of the Economic Shift

As household incomes rise and populations expand, the service and consumer goods markets will present exponential opportunities in emerging markets. More specifically, luxury goods will have opportunities in these markets as more families reach the middle class.

One of the biggest implications is the importance placed on younger consumers. Though in some emerging countries, including China, the population is aging, the populations of emerging markets are overall significantly younger than those of people in advanced economies. Young consumers also represent substantial power over purchases, particularly large items such as cars and homes, as well as the items needed to furnish homes.

Emerging countries are likely to become important foreign investors. The foreign investments they are responsible for making only serve to enhance their influence in the global economy. Investments from foreign countries, including those from advanced nations, will also flow more readily into these developing nations, further driving their economies toward future growth.
Why Is GDP Important?

The GDP of a country provides a measure of the total monetary value of all the goods and services it produces during a certain time period, most commonly a year. This is an important statistic that indicates whether an economy or growing or contracting. In the United States, the government releases an annualized GDP estimate for each quarter and also for an entire year; it makes a preliminary estimate, based on the initial information it has, and then makes a second estimate and a final one as more information flows in.

A country's GDP is essentially a measure of the health and size of its economy. Countries with healthy economies tend to produce more goods and have higher GDPs, and could therefore be said to be the most productive. A growing GDP represents expansion within a country's economy, signaling that it is in the process of becoming more productive.

Providing a quantitative figure for GDP helps a government make decisions such as whether to stimulate the economy by pumping money into it, in case the economy is not growing and needs such stimulus. And in case the economy is getting heated, a government could also act to prevent it from getting overheated.

Businesses can also use GDP as a guide to decide how best to expand or contract their production and other business activities. And investors also watch GDP since it provides a framework for investment decision-making.
Types of GDP

There are different ways to calculate GDP. Nominal GDP is the total value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period, evaluated at current market prices in its local currency. But GDP can also be calculated based on purchasing power parity (PPP), which is essentially the implied exchange rate at which the currency of one country would have to be converted into that of another country to buy an identical basket of goods and services in each. One of the best-known examples of PPP is the “Big Mac” index, published by The Economist magazine, which calculates simplified PPP exchange rates based on the popular McDonald’s sandwich. The biggest advantages of PPP exchange rates is that they have greater stability over time as compared to more volatile market exchange rates, and they provide a better estimate of consumers’ purchasing power in developing nations.

As a general rule, developed countries have a smaller gap between their nominal GDP (i.e., current prices) and GDP based on PPP. The difference is greater in developing countries, which tend to have a higher GDP when valued on purchasing power parity basis.

Another method of analyzing a country's productivity is by calculating its GDP per capita, which is accomplished by simply dividing its GDP by its population. This gives an indication of how productive, on average, each citizen is.
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