When It Rains, It Pours: Even if TGD doesn’t collapse…

. . .China’s 2020 will be as bad as anyone else’s.

Some have noted that the flooding isn’t just the dams, but also the cities.  Scores dead, thousands displaced, and billions in property damage.  China has the money to withstand the economic impact, but the worst may yet be to come.

The Yangtze River basin is also flooded, and that area accounts for 70% of the China’s domestic rice production.  It’s only mid-summer, and many farmers have already lost their entire crops.  If this continues, high food prices during a flagging economy means the poor will starve.  Or just as likely, Beijing will starve the Uygurs to death, saving food for ethnic Chinese people.  They’ve already committed dozens of crimes against humanity, what’s one more to them?

‘Everything is gone.’ Flooding in China ruins farmers and risks rising food prices

By this time of year, the rice growing on Bao Wentao’s family farm should have been ready to harvest.

Instead, heavy flooding has engulfed huge swathes of southern China, including more than 36 acres of rice fields that 19-year-old Bao and his father tend to in their village near Poyang Lake.

“The crops have completely failed,” Bao told CNN Business in an interview over the social media app WeChat, adding that his family has already lost roughly 200,000 yuan ($28,000) worth of produce. “The rice was nearly ripened and ready to harvest before the flooding. But now everything is gone.”

China has the money to withstand buying imported rice and food this year, but what about future years if this repeats?  Thailand and Vietnam are two if the ten largest rice growing countries in the world.  They’re capable of telling other countries, “sell it – or else”.  Or will China demand food exports from African nations heavily in debt to the PRC?

Misinformation and politics are fueling fears of a Chinese debt trap in Nigeria

The hottest debate in Africa’s largest economy over the past week has been the over possibility of “losing” its sovereignty to China over bad debts.

It has come amid a wave of claims by federal lawmakers who are pushing for a probe into China’s lending practices to Nigeria, in the wake of a sovereign guarantee clause in loan agreements that has been erroneously interpreted. The dominant and controversial narrative is that the clause could see Nigeria sign away its sovereignty in the event of a payment default. And the outcry has proven significant enough for China’s embassy in Nigeria’s capital to deny plans to seize Nigerian assets.

More below the fold.

[Read more…]

Let’s Remember: Henrietta Lacks, 1920-1951

Henrietta Lacks was born on August 1, 1920, one hundred years ago.  She died on October 4, 1951 of cervical cancer, only thirty one years of age.  But she has lived on through her genes, her “immortal” HeLa cell line which has enabled great medical advances in research of cancer, HIV/AIDS, poisoning, gene mapping, and other fields.

And all of it done without her permission.  Doctors took her cells from her ill and deceased body without consent.  Her cells were replicated without acknowledgement of their source.  And no compensation was ever given to Ms. Lacks nor her family despite the billions of dollars the medical industry has profited over the past seventy years.

A farcical “deal” in 2013 only gave Ms. Lacks’s family the right to decide how her cells will be used and acknowledgement of their source.  But there was no offer of compensation.

I would not call this “making good”.

NIH finally makes good with Henrietta Lacks’ family — and it’s about time, ethicist says

On Tuesday, the National Institute of Health announced it was, at long last, making good with Lacks’ family. Under a new agreement, Lack’s genome data will be accessible only to those who apply for and are granted permission. And two representatives of the Lacks family will serve on the NIH group responsible for reviewing biomedical researchers’ applications for controlled access to HeLa cells. Additionally, any researcher who uses that data will be asked to include an acknowledgement to the Lacks family in their publications.

The new understanding between the NIH and the Lacks family does not include any financial compensation for the family. The Lacks family hasn’t, and won’t, see a dime of the profits that came from the findings generated by HeLa cells.

The family has not given up the fight for compensation, and nor should they.  This is yet another example of white doctors mistreating Black women patients, treating them as property and without the right to informed consent.

Continued below the fold.

[Read more…]

Target Practice: So they can get used to shooting kids

The cops in Hiram, Georgia have announced a “water gun fight”, allegedly to “build public goodwill” and “let cops connect with the community”.

I wouldn’t call this “fun” or “public relations”.  I would call it desensitization training.  If they can get used shooting children, they can shoot anyone.  From their facebook page:

Hiram Police Department

With school starting back up and the negativity being prominent in the media lately, we thought it would be best to offer an opportunity for the children of our community to get to know us, and what better way than hosting our own Operation: Water Gun. Help us bridge the gap between law enforcement and Paulding County’s Youth.

Operation: Water Gun is an event where children of all ages are encouraged to show up and battle it out with our own officers – water gun style. We will be hosting this event on Saturday, August 15th, from 12pm-2pm.

We are accepting donations, whether it is water guns or monetary donations, at the Hiram Police Department during normal business hours.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Lt. J. Crosson at jcrosson@hiram-ga.gov, Danna Lewis at dannakay72@gmail.com, or call the Hiram Police Department.

Violent bullies will repeat that behaviour whenever the opportunity arises.  You can be sure at least one kid will get targeted repeatedly, shot mercilessly with water by 10-20 cops until the kid breaks down crying.  And when a non-participating parent tries to intervene, they’ll likely get hit with water too.


Gimme: What’s old is new again

I’m a sucker for retro computing, and I like things that let me work “the old way”.  I’d probably still be using Apple II computers if it were feasible.

A company called Mediaworkstations has produced a new PC and I love everything about it except the price: US$8000.  It’s transportable but not portable (i.e. it doesn’t have a battery).  It has a build in VGA screen, detachable keyboard, and best of all, ports on the back.  None of that HDMI or USB stuff, this has a VGA port, 9 pin serial, 25 pin parallel, PS/2 ports for keyboards and mice, plus 1/8 jacks for audio in/out.  It’s the best parts of the Commodore SX-64 portable and a GRID computer with modern power.

More below the fold.

[Read more…]

Maybe We Shouldn’t: Reopening is bad, starting is worse

This is the second of three items on sports attempting to have “normal seasons” in 2020-2021.  I actually planned to write this last, but the issue is pressing.

A few months ago, Taiwan’s CPBL boasted about starting its regular season only a month late but still having a regular season. South Korea’s KBO also began a shortened but “normal” baseball season too, as has Japan’s NPB (beginning only a month ago).

I am starting to regret this. It may have encouraged other leagues around the world to say “this is fine!”

More below the fold.  A lot more.

[Read more…]

Opt Out: Expect more to follow his lead

This is the first of three items on sports attempting to have “normal seasons” in 2020-2021.

Because of COVID-19, the NFL and the NFLPA have enacted an “opt out” clause for players who don’t want to participate in the 2020 season (as if there will be one).  Players who choose to sit out will get $150,000 and their contracts extended another year.  Nice work if you can get it.

In reality, the league and its owners will call players sitting out “cowards” and won’t have any trouble replacing them.  They will likely cut the players’ contracts once they find cheaper replacements.  If there is a “season”, expect the play to be on par with the 1987 replacements.

It’s likely players would be afraid of losing their contracts unless a big name player decides to do it first.  One now has: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif of the Kansas City Racist Name team.  He is one of the league’s best offensive linemen and part of the Stupor Bowl winning team from last January.  Teammate and running back Darien Williams has also opted out, and at least thirty other players.

Duvernay-Tardif opted to sit out because he has medical degree from McGill University (he has yet to complete his residency), and is taking care of COVID-19 patients at a care facility in Montreal.  Even though he’s relatively young (29), he may decide to retire.  He has a championship ring and US$22 million in career earnings.

A player as high profile as him to sit out may encourage other players to do the same.  And you may see more retirements once players enjoy having an entire year off and seeing how their health improves (vis-a-vis the 2004-2005 lockout that wiped out an NHL season).

The first practicing medical doctor to play in the NFL opts out of the 2020 season

Super Bowl champion Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, the first practicing medical doctor to play in the NFL, has decided to opt out of playing in the upcoming season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make in my life but I must follow my convictions and do what I believe is right for me personally,” the 29-year-old Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman said in a Twitter post. “That is why I have decided to take the Opt Out Option negotiated by the League and the NFLPA and officially opt out of the 2020 NFL season.

“Being at the frontline during this offseason has given me a different perspective on this pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals and our healthcare system. I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities simply to play the sport that I love. If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients.”

Duvernay-Tardif is the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season because of the pandemic. According to ESPN, Duvernay-Tardif was set to earn $2.75 million this season. By opting out, he will get $150,000 instead as a result of a Friday agreement struck between the union and the league.


Nobody Learns: Taiwan is obsessed with “reopening”

And so has a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.  Sure, 26 isn’t much compared to tens of thousands in other places, but this was predictable after the country was down to three, and politicians were obsessed with “reopening”.  Select foreigners have been allowed in, and one of them, a Belgian engingeer, has been passing it on.  Taiwan had its first domestic transmission in months.

Unlike other countries, international trade continues and the economy here has suffered very little (less than a 1% decline in 2020).  There was nothing wrong with the “bubble” that the money-obessed seem intent on bursting.

Let’s Remember: Alan Parker, film maker, 1944-2020

Alan Parker was an English filmmaker, born February 14, 1944 and died July 31, 2020 of undisclosed causes.  He began his career filming advertisements, later writing scripts and directing films.

Parker’s output was not prolific, only nineteen films between 1974 and 2003.  But what he lacked in quantity he made up for in quality.  A partial list of his output includes: