8.24.17: Wake Up Wyoming

Science Magazine: Arsenic in drinking water threatens up to 60 million in Pakistan

It has been called the largest mass poisoning in history. After wells were drilled in Bangladesh and the rest of the Indian subcontinent in the 1970s, millions of people have been exposed to arsenic in drinking water. When leached into water from surrounding rocks and soil, the metal can—at high concentrations—cause skin lesions, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodevelopmental delays. Now, a study suggests Pakistan might be grappling with its own arsenic emergency, with up to 60 million people exposed to contaminated water.

The study team created the region’s first risk map for arsenic, which shows the probability of dangerous concentrations in every part of the country. By estimating the number of people relying on groundwater for drinking, the team reports today in Science Advances that 50 million to 60 million people might use water that contains more than 50 micrograms per liter of arsenic, five times the WHO guideline.


TRUMP: ‘If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall’

Business Insider: US Navy 7th Fleet commander dismissed after a series of ship collisions

The news follows the collision between the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters early Monday. The collision tore a hole into the destroyer’s left rear hull. Ten sailors disappeared. Though exact numbers remain unclear, search-and-rescue divers found the remains of some sailors in sealed compartments on the vessel, according to the Associated Press.

The McCain collision followed another fatal collision in June involving the USS Fitzgerald and a commercial container ship, killing seven sailors. Both the Fitzgerald’s executive officer and senior enlisted sailor were dismissed following the incident.

Following the McCain collision, the Navy said that it would put an “operational pause” on all Navy vessels and ordered a broad investigation. Four accidents involving ships have occurred in the western Pacific since February, according to The New York Times.
Zerohedge: Pentagon Denounces American Nazis While Arming Ukrainian Nazis

In the wake of violent protests involving white supremacists and Neo-Nazis in the US, the Pentagon’s top military brass issued unprecedented condemnations of «racists and extremists». One veterans spokesman said: «Anyone waving a Nazi flag must be rooted out of our society».

What makes the Pentagon’s response to Swastika-flag-waving American Nazis rather bizarre is that this week the US Defense Secretary, General James Mattis, is reportedly traveling to Ukraine where he is to sign over shipments of lethal weapons to the armed forces of the Kiev regime. That regime openly glorifies Ukrainian regiments that collaborated with the Nazi Third Reich during the World War Two.

Mattis, the top Pentagon official, is due to authorize the transfer of $50 million-worth of military gear to the Kiev regime. This will mark the first official delivery of lethal equipment from the US. Previous military aid to Ukraine was reportedly «non-lethal». Among the inventory Mattis is signing over are Javelin anti-tank missiles.

Zerohedge: Will Estonia Be The First Country To Issue Its Own Digital Currency?

Nearly three years after Estonia introduced its “e-residency” program, becoming the first country on Earth to allow foreigners to become “digital citizens,” the tiny Baltic republic is considering another proposal that would further cement its reputation as a digital pioneer: Becoming the first country to launch its own Initial Coin Offering.In a Medium post published Tuesday, Kaspar Korjus, managing director of Estonia’s e-residency program, explained how such a virtual token – which he has tentatively named Estcoin – would function as a new type of investment allowing investors a “pure play” investment in its development. In this case, the money raised from the IPO would be administered by a public-private trust, and used to improve the country’s already formidable digital infrastructure.

The Nation: A Mark Zuckerberg Presidency Isn’t Ridiculous—It’s Terrifying

But there are deeper problems with Zuckerberg than his status as a corporate shill. His potential presidential candidacy should make us uneasy not because he’s a CEO, but because he’s the CEO of Facebook, the company responsible for the largest and most brazen data-collection project in human history.  As its user base has grown to encompass more than a quarter of the world’s population, Facebook has built an unparalleled system for tracking, analyzing, and exploiting our behavior. The company owns (and sells) a totally unregulated storehouse of data about our most minute habits and inclinations: what we bought and when and where, whose pictures we looked at and for how long, where our cursor moved, what we sent, what we typed but didn’t send, and what we deleted—not to mention patterns in our browsing history, our e-mail activity, and our facial structures. This fearsome data apparatus has been pitched as part of Facebook’s “journey to connect the world.” Losse’s memoir about the company’s early years, The Boy Kings, recounts how Zuckerberg instructed her to generate rhetoric that would justify Facebook’s burgeoning data-collection practices to the public…

…Trump’s hate-mongering and vulgarity are likely to make whoever occupies the White House after him seem innocuous by comparison, but a Zuckerberg presidency would be dangerous in far more subtle ways. The benign public face of the Obama administration masked an unprecedented program of privacy invasion and surveillance, all carried out in the alleged interests of “national security.” Who’s to say whether “innovation” and “fresh thinking” under a Zuckerberg administration wouldn’t serve as euphemisms for an even broader campaign of observation and analysis, implemented not just to protect us from enemies abroad, but to surreptitiously shape and manage our society at home? If we do find Zuckerberg tossing his hat in the ring come 2020, we should take care to remember what he built at Facebook—and, more importantly, how—and ask ourselves whether elevating a quasi-progressive boy genius is worth the significant costs to our privacy and our freedom.

NY Post: US companies spent $4T buying back their own stock

It’s the “shock” market rally —  cash-rich US companies have plunged nearly $4 trillion of their cash into buying back their stock since 2008, which is why all the stock indexes are hovering near record territory.

“It has massively manipulated the market,” said Richard Bowen, the former Citi executive who blew the whistle on the bank during the subprime mortgage crisis, and noted how these share buybacks in the open market were once deemed illegal. The Securities and Exchange Commission eased the rules in the early ’80s.

“This market scares the crap out of me,” Bowen, sensing a potential financial disaster, told The Post…

…Critics wonder if this is the best use of cash for a company. But the effect on stock price and CEO bonuses make this a win-win for management.

The bonuses are tied to better earnings when a company buys its shares back, because it retires the shares. So the next quarter’s earnings will improve, because the formula for earnings-per-share basis, has a smaller denominator.

In this low-interest environment, many companies, including Apple, are borrowing money to buy back shares, not even dipping into their own coffers.

“We’ve been in a market bubble for a long time, and share buybacks are a big part of the bubble made possible by artificially low interest rates that still exist today,” said financial commentator Peter Schiff.

These repurchase programs are responsible for most of the net inflows into US equities in the latest bull market, one study shows, and it has only grown since the Great Recession.

In the three-year period ending in 2012, 449 companies in the S&P 500 index deployed 54 percent of their earnings, or $2.4 trillion, buying back their own stock, according to another study.

Last year, a whopping 66 percent of corporate earnings went to buybacks.

Bowen says he’s worried, because for most Americans, the stock market is a display of public confidence. But it may all be a huge fantasy, Bowen added, a Ponzi scheme that will end in tears.

Schiff says that could occur if interest rates keep rising, ensnaring corporations that financed stock repurchases with debt. “They are going to have to sell their stock to repay the debt they can’t afford,” he said. “That’s going to end up destroying a lot of shareholder value if corporations have to sell equity into a bear market.”

Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices, is not as fearful, saying much corporate long-term debt has been refinanced, and carries low interest rates.