The Daily Visionary: Thursday, January 24, 2019

Private jet flights set a record at Davos as the World Economic Forum highlights climate change

 

The Story

 

Experts predict up to 1,500 individual private flights will come in and out of airfields serving the Swiss ski resort of Davos for World Economic Forum (WEF) this week, despite the WEF stating its top existential issue for the planet is climate change and the world as we know it will end in twelve years without immediate, significant climate action. In fact, political and business leaders and lobbyists are opting for bigger, more expensive aircrafts, according to analysis by the Air Charter Service, which found the number of private jet flights grew by 11 percent last year.

 

British broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough warned that “the Garden of Eden is no more” and urged political and business leaders to make a renewed push to tackle climate change. “What we do now, and in the next few years, will profoundly affect the next few thousand years,” added Sir David, who received a Crystal award from the WEF for his work. Speaking to journalists after his speech, Attenborough warned that economic models needed to change, saying “Growth is going to come to an end, either suddenly or in a controlled way.” This viewpoint has been refuted by others, including the organization Human Progress.

 

The Details

 

  • Last year, more than 1,300 aircraft flights were recorded at the annual conference in Davos, the highest number since ACS began recording private jet activity in 2013.

  • According to ACS, countries with the highest number of arrivals and departures out of the local airports over the past five years included Germany, France, UK, US, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates.

  • The World Economic Forum’s global risk report, released ahead of this week’s meeting, identified environmental challenges, including the failure to mitigate climate change, as top of the list of dangers facing the world economy.

 

Background

 

These global leaders claim to want to solve the world’s problems but only as long as the solutions never threaten their own wealth and power. Millions of Americans, Canadians, and Europeans on both the political left and right share the sentiment that the game is rigged against regular people. This is the root cause of the populist uprisings in western democracies, where the voting public have become resentful and suspicious and embracing political movements that don’t naturally fit with traditional party lines. As a result, socialism has gained popularity among a generation who never experienced its effects during the twentieth century and nationalism has renewed in response to tolerance seeming a one-way street. Across the spectrum, people believe the undemocratic use of our democratic institutions must be repaired and re-legitimized.

 

Conferences and ideas festivals sponsored by plutocrats and big business, including the World Economic Forum, host panels on injustice and promote “thought leaders” who confine their thinking to improving lives within the faulty system rather than tackling the faults. These elite networking forums groom the rich to be self-appointed leaders of social change, taking on the problems people like them have been instrumental in creating or sustaining. They believe and promote the idea that social change should be pursued principally through the free market and voluntary action, not public life and the law and the reform of the systems that people share in common. Rather, they are an ascendant power elite who aim to change the world through a left-wing value system and as a proponent of globalization to further entrench their connected interests, while profiting from the status quo. The cabal of enlightened businesspeople and their collaborators in the worlds of charity, academia, media, government and thinktanks is a culture and state of mind.

 

Key Quotes

 

There appears to be a trend towards larger aircraft, with expensive heavy jets the aircraft of choice, with Gulfstream GVs and Global Expresses both being used more than 100 times each last year,” said Andy Christie, private jets director at the ACS. This is partly due to the long distances travelled, he said, “but also possibly due to business rivals not wanting to be seen to be outdone by one another”.

 

Speaker Pelosi locks President Trump out of the House of Representatives and he vows State of Union alternative

 

The Story

 

The State of the Union speech is used by American Presidents to announce their policy goals for the year and has now become hostage to the showdown between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats over his demand for funding for a US – Mexico border wall. President Trump said on Wednesday he would do an alternative event to the traditional State of the Union address before the US Congress after House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent him a letter stating she would not sign off on the annual speech until the partial government shutdown ends. At a White House meeting on border security, the President said, “It’s a disgrace.

 

Ms. Pelosi told the President that she would not consider a measure authorizing his State of the Union speech, which is an annual, televised rite in American politics traditionally delivered in the House chamber of Congress. In a letter to President Trump she wrote, “Again, I look forward to welcoming you to the House on a mutually agreeable date for this address when government has been opened.

 

The Details

 

  • The clash between two of Washington’s most powerful leaders escalated the standoff that has partly closed the government for 33 days and impacts the US economy and the livelihoods of about 800,000 federal workers.

  • About a quarter of the government has been shut down since December 22 when some US agencies’ funding expired for reasons unrelated to border security or immigration.

  • House Democrats have approved several measures to fully reopen the government, but none has won approval in the Senate, which is controlled by the Republicans.

 

Background

 

Ms. Pelosi suggested on January 16 that President Trump postpone the State of the Union speech because of the closure, citing concerns about security for the event, which were denied by the Secret Service who said they were prepared.

 

The President is required to give Congress a report on the nation but is not required to deliver it in a live, televised address before lawmakers, where some past presidents have delivered it in writing.

 

Key Quotes

 

It would be so very sad for our Country if the State of the Union were not delivered on time, on schedule, and very importantly, on location!” President Trump wrote to Ms. Pelosi.

 

Venezuelan opposition leader Guaido claims the Presidency from Maduro, and is backed by the US

 

The Story

 

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim President on Wednesday, winning the backing of Washington and many Latin American nations, and prompting socialist leader Nicolas Maduro, to break relations with the United States.  US President Donald Trump formally recognized 35-year old head of the opposition-run congress Mr. Guaido as interim President shortly after his announcement and praised his plan to hold elections. His support was quickly followed by similar statements from Canada and several Latin American governments, including Venezuela’s neighbors Brazil and Colombia.

 

At a rally in the east of the capital Caracas that drew hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans, President Guaido accused Mr. Maduro of usurping power and promised to create a transitional government that would help the country escape its hyperinflationary economic collapse.

 

Mr. Guaido’s declaration takes Venezuela into uncharted territory, with the possibility of the opposition now running a parallel government recognized abroad as legitimate but without control over state functions.

 

The Details

 

  • Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Wednesday he was breaking diplomatic relations with the United States, after the Trump administration recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s interim President.

  • Speaking to supporters outside the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Mr. Maduro said he would give US diplomatic personnel 72 hours to leave Venezuela.

  • In a televised broadcast from Miraflores, Mr. Maduro accused the opposition of seeking to stage a coup with the support of the US, which he said was seeking to govern Venezuela from Washington.

 

Background

 

The country is suffering from a hyperinflationary economic collapse due to socialist policies under the government of Nicolas Maduro who has led the oil-rich nation since 2013. Mr. Maduro took power in 2013 after his mentor Hugo Chavez died. As the oil price sank and revenues dried up, the social welfare programs designed by Chavez faltered, and Venezuela spiraled into its worst-ever economic crisis, with hyperinflation forecast to reach 10 million percent this year. Approximately 3 million Venezuelans have fled abroad over the past five years to escape widespread shortages of food and medicine. Mr. Maduro started a second term on January 10, following a widely-boycotted election last year that many foreign governments described as a sham.

 

Any change of government will rest on a shift in allegiance within the armed forces. So far, they have stood by Maduro through two waves of street protests and a steady dismantling of democratic institutions.  Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said on Wednesday that the armed forces did not recognize a self-proclaimed president “imposed by shadowy interests ... outside the law” and that the military would guarantee national sovereignty. However, soldiers have many reasons to be angry. Military installations are steadily decaying along with the rest of the country, and salaries quickly disappear amid 2 million percent annual inflation. More than 4,000 low-ranking officers deserted last year, according to official documents.

 

Key Quotes

 

Military leaders are “not in the slightest bit concerned about maintaining their professional commitments,” said the high-ranking military officer, “They’re concerned about protecting themselves.

Canada's chronic shortage of legal cannabis is expected to drag out for years

 

The Story

 

Canada’s cannabis shortage is expected to continue until 2022 as more legal cannabis is diverted to edibles, which will become legal later this year, in October. Licensed producers have been adding capacity in droves, building millions of square feet of new greenhouse space since last summer, and new demand is piling up.

 

The edible cannabis side of the industry is only starting to ramp up. Cannabis-infused food and drink promises to open a whole new segment of the market. A recent report by Deloitte found 49 percent of probable cannabis users in Canada are willing to try edibles, but that growth comes with a whole new batch of regulations and expectations. The makers of Corona beer and Kim Crawford wines have teamed up with Canopy Growth and expect to roll out cannabis-infused beer and wine. Budweiser partnered with Tilray, and Molson-Coors created their own joint venture with Quebec-based Hexo.

 

The Details

 

  • Cannabis was legalized in Canada three months ago.

  • Public consultations into the legalization of edible cannabis are open now and are expected to conclude at the end of February. As rules become clearer, the summer will see another surge in demand as companies look to get products ready for a market expected to open up on October 17.

 

Background

 

Health Canada will require strict rules around shelf life and refrigeration of cannabis edibles, including specific rules around doses per serving.

 

Kevin Letun and his company Pacific Rim Brands have partnered with labs at the University of British Columbia in Kelowna and the British Columbia Institute of Technology to dig into the science behind it. Right now, Pacific Rim Brands is working on getting the specific formulations for products. Once that's completed, the company expects to start human testing to gather data. Essentially, the company is aiming to have formulations ready and approved this summer.

 

Mr. Letun said edibles will prove to be a much larger segment of the industry than the current smokeable pot, saying, "In the next ten years, you're going to see the smokeable cannabis (comprising) maybe only 10 to 20 per cent of the market." He expects edibles and infused drinks will take off once legalized and will go well beyond cannabis-infused beer and wine. "There are so many other applications on the medicinal side too, when it comes to sleep aids or sports recovery when it comes to inflammation, pain, sports recovery," he added.

 

Key Quotes

 

"The medical cannabis market still grows by about five per cent a month. We have about 300,000 Canadians accessing medically, so that's a drain on the system, as well as international exports that are starting to amplify," said Chuck Rifici, CEO of the Toronto-based cannabis company Auxly.

 

Microsoft censors right-wing news websites by installing a media browser extension without permission from users

 

The Story

 

Without consultation or granted permission from its users, Microsoft has installed a mainstream news media browser extension called ‘Newsguard’, which presents users with a red warning label if they navigate to a website that it judges to be fake news and a green rating given to websites that NewsGuard considers trustworthy. The extension is purportedly designed to rate the accuracy of news websites, as a default extension on mobile versions of its Edge browser. In practice, a number of pro-Trump websites, including Breitbart News, are given a “red” rating by the extension, as it creates a news blacklist by warning users away from sites including Breitbart, The Drudge Report, and the Daily Mail.

 

The website of the conservative-leaning British newspaper The Daily Mail, which has the third-highest circulation in Britain, is also given a “red” rating. Newsguard says the site “fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability.” WikiLeaks, which has never had to retract a story due to false or misleading information, is also given a “red” rating. Among the websites given a “green” rating is BuzzFeed, which was recently humiliated for publishing alleged details about the ongoing Mueller investigation that were contradicted by the special prosecutor himself. BuzzFeed did not retract the story, and even led with it on its frontpage after Mr. Mueller contradicted it, but Newsguard claims BuzzFeed “regularly corrects or clarifies errors.”

 

The Details

 

  • “Green” ratings: Huffington Post, Salon, CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, which recently fed the fake news feeding frenzy against students of Covington Catholic high school in Kentucky, who were falsely accused of taunting a left-wing Native American agitator

  • Also “green” are Media Matters, the Clinton – Democrat website that regularly publishes hit-jobs against conservative media publications and personalities, and Rolling Stone, which infamously published a hoax rape allegation against members of a University of Virginia fraternity in 2015; Newsguard says Rolling Stone has “consistently published well-researched, factual information about contemporary American culture.”

 

Background

 

The team behind Newsguard include top neo-conservatives and members of America’s foreign policy establishment, including Trump-hating former CIA director Michael Hayden, and former members of the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations.

 

Key Quotes

 

Microsoft is partnering with NewsGuard to offer the NewsGuard browser extension on Microsoft Edge, and a feature in Microsoft Edge mobile apps for iOS and Android to help our customers evaluate news sources. Across both the browser and the apps, NewsGuard is optional and customers need to take action if they want to use the feature,” said a Microsoft spokesperson.

 


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