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I blame it on this clown

World's biggest geoengineering experiment 'violates' UN rules by Martin Lukacs

Monday 15 October 2012 06.34 EDT Last modified on Wednesday 1 October 2014


Controversial US businessman's iron fertilisation off west coast of Canada contravenes two UN conventions

Geoengineering with bloom : high concentrations of chlorophyll in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska

Yellow and brown colours show relatively high concentrations of chlorophyll in August 2012, after iron sulphate was dumped into the Pacific Ocean as part of a controversial geoengineering scheme. Photograph: Giovanni/Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center/NASA

A controversial American businessman dumped around 100 tonnes of iron sulphate into the Pacific Ocean as part of a geoengineering scheme off the west coast of Canada in July, a Guardian investigation can reveal. Lawyers, environmentalists and civil society groups are calling it a "blatant violation" of two international moratoria and the news is likely to spark outrage at a United Nations environmental summit taking place in India this week. Satellite images appear to confirm the claim by Californian Russ George that the iron has spawned an artificial plankton bloom as large as 10,000 square kilometres. The intention is for the plankton to absorb carbon dioxide and then sink to the ocean bed – a geoengineering technique known as ocean fertilisation that he hopes will net lucrative carbon credits.

George is the former chief executive of Planktos Inc, whose previous failed efforts to conduct large-scale commercial dumps near the Galapagos and Canary Islands led to his vessels being barred from ports by the Spanish and Ecuadorean governments. The US Environmental Protection Agency warned him that flying a US flag for his Galapagos project would violate US laws, and his activities are credited in part to the passing of international moratoria at the United Nations limiting ocean fertilisation experiments. Scientists are debating whether iron fertilisation can lock carbon into the deep ocean over the long term, and have raised concerns that it can irreparably harm ocean ecosystems, produce toxic tides and lifeless waters, and worsen ocean acidification and global warming.

"It is difficult if not impossible to detect and describe important effects that we know might occur months or years later," said John Cullen , an oceanographer at Dalhousie University. "Some possible effects, such as deep-water oxygen depletion and alteration of distant food webs, should rule out ocean manipulation. History is full of examples of ecological manipulations that backfired."

George says his team of unidentified scientists has been monitoring the results of the biggest ever geoengineering experiment with equipment loaned from US agencies like Nasa and the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration. He told the Guardian that it is the "most substantial ocean restoration project in history," and has collected a "greater density and depth of scientific data than ever before".

"We've gathered data targeting all the possible fears that have been raised about ocean fertilisation," George said. "And the news is good news, all around, for the planet."

The dump took place from a fishing boat in an eddy 200 nautical miles west of the islands of Haida Gwaii, one of the world's most celebrated, diverse ecosystems, where George convinced the local council of an indigenous village to establish the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation to channel more than $1m of its own funds into the project. The president of the Haida nation, Guujaaw, said the village was told the dump would environmentally benefit the ocean, which is crucial to their livelihood and culture.

"The village people voted to support what they were told was a 'salmon enhancement project' and would not have agreed if they had been told of any potential negative effects or that it was in breach of an international convention," Guujaaw said.

International legal experts say George's project has contravened the UN's convention on biological diversity (CBD) and London convention on the dumping of wastes at sea, which both prohibit for-profit ocean fertilisation activities.

"It appears to be a blatant violation of two international resolutions," said Kristina M Gjerde, a senior high seas adviser for the International Union for Conservation of Nature. "Even the placement of iron particles into the ocean, whether for carbon sequestration or fish replenishment, should not take place, unless it is assessed and found to be legitimate scientific research without commercial motivation. This does not appear to even have had the guise of legitimate scientific research."

George told the Guardian that the two moratoria are a "mythology" and do not apply to his project. The parties to the UN CBD are currently meeting in Hyderabad, India, where the governments of Bolivia, the Philippines and African nations as well as indigenous peoples organizations are calling for the current moratorium to be upgraded to a comprehensive test ban of geoengineering that includes enforcement mechanisms.

"If rogue geoengineer Russ George really has misled this indigenous community, and dumped iron into their waters, we hope to see swift legal response to his behavior and strong action taken to the heights of the Canadian and US governments," said Silvia Ribeiro of the international technology watchdog ETC Group, which first discovered the existence of the scheme. "It is now more urgent than ever that governments unequivocally ban such open-air geoengineering experiments. They are a dangerous distraction providing governments and industry with an excuse to avoid reducing fossil fuel emissions."

Weekend Economists Celebran Los Presidentes February 16, 2015

Well, we were visiting Cuba, so it seemed politic to talk about the political....and Cuba's politics has revolved around the Castro brothers since 1959 or even before.

Not everyone admires their dedication to public service, but it cannot be denied to exist.

Actually, there are three Castro brothers, all revolutionaries:

Ramón Eusebio Castro Ruz (born October 14, 1924) is the older brother of Fidel and Raúl Castro and a key figure of the Cuban Revolution.

As the eldest male Castro sibling, Ramón remained at home at the onset of the revolution, looking after his parents and the sizable farm owned by the family. This experience cultivated in Ramón an interest in agriculture which would remain a major element in his life.

Although not active in a military capacity like his brothers, Ramón Castro aided in the ongoing revolution as the quartermaster for the troops of Fidel and Raúl, sending them supplies, such as weapons and victuals. Not only was he responsible for furnishing supplies, he also established and maintained pipelines from the cities to the troops' position. Using his skills in both farming and engineering, Ramón also manufactured an alcohol-based fuel for Cuba during a gasoline shortage.

After the revolution, Ramón Castro abandoned the family farm as it became legal property of the state. He continued to dedicate himself to the study of agriculture, however, and is chiefly responsible for many of Cuba's agricultural initiatives since the revolution.

He is married, has two children, Ramón and Oneida Castro Rodríguez, and lives in Havana.

Ramon has the raised arm.

Why the US Government Is Terrified of Hobbyist Drones By Kevin Poulsen



If you want to understand why the government freaked out when a $400 remote-controlled quadcopter landed on the White House grounds last week, you need to look four miles away, to a small briefing room in Arlington, Virginia. There, just 10 days earlier, officials from the US military, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FAA gathered for a DHS “summit” on a danger that had been consuming them privately for years: the potential use of hobbyist drones as weapons of terror or assassination.


The conference was open to civilians, but explicitly closed to the press. One attendee described it as an eye-opener. The officials played videos of low-cost drones firing semi-automatic weapons, revealed that Syrian rebels are importing consumer-grade drones to launch attacks, and flashed photos from an exercise that pitted $5,000 worth of drones against a convoy of armored vehicles. (The drones won.) But the most striking visual aid was on an exhibit table outside the auditorium, where a buffet of low-cost drones had been converted into simulated flying bombs. One quadcopter, strapped to 3 pounds of inert explosive, was a DJI Phantom 2, a newer version of the very drone that would land at the White House the next week...Attendee Daniel Herbert snapped a photo and posted it to his website along with detailed notes from the conference. The day after the White House incident, he says, DHS phoned him and politely asked him to remove the entire post. He complied. “I’m not going to be the one to challenge Homeland Security and cause more contention,” says Herbert, who runs a small drone shop in Delaware called Skygear Solutions...

A Drone Maker Takes Decisive Action

The Phantom line of consumer drones made by China-based DJI figures prominently in the government’s attack scenarios. That’s not because there’s anything sinister about DJI or the Phantom—in fact, just the opposite. The Phantom is the iPod of drones, cheap, easy to use, and as popular with casual and first-time fliers as with experienced radio control enthusiasts. With all the attention surrounding the White House landing, DJI felt it had to take action. So last Thursday it pushed a “mandatory firmware update” for its Phantom 2 that would prevent the drone from flying in a 15.5 mile radius of the White House. So far it’s the only drone-maker installing what’s known as GPS geofencing. The technique is not new to DJI. The company first added no-fly zones to its firmware in April of last year to deter newbie pilots from zipping into the restricted airspace over airports, where they might interfere with departing and arriving aircraft. If a Phantom 2 pilot flies within five miles of a major airport’s no fly zone, the drone’s maximum altitude begins to taper. At 1.5 miles away, it lands and refuses to take off again. Municipal airports are protected by smaller zones, also programmed into the drones’ firmware.

For DJI, airport no-fly zones were a response to the growing popularity of the Phantom 2 and perhaps a hedge against the constant threat of increased regulation. “We started seeing the community of pilots grow,” says spokesman Michael Perry, and many users have no idea where they can and can’t legally fly the drone. “The guy in the White House incident, I’m pretty sure he didn’t know that flying in downtown DC is illegal.” Rather than put the onus on every user to learn local air traffic zoning rules, DJI translated them into code, and added a little buffer zone of its own for added safety. The White House geofence is only the second one that isn’t centered on an airport, according to Perry—the first was Tiananmen Square. It won’t be the last. Now that the company has perfected the ability to erect geofences at will, the sky’s the limit—or, more accurately, the skies are limited. DJI is preparing an update that will increase the number of airport no fly zones from 710 to 10,000, and prevent users from flying across some national borders—a reaction to the recent discovery that drug smugglers are trying to use drones to fly small loads of meth from Mexico into the US.

‘I Want to Fly Wherever the Heck I Want’

This geofencing has critics, including hobbyists chagrined to find their favorite flying spot suddenly encompassed by a DJI no-fly zones....“Right now there doesn’t exist any hacks to remove the geofencing or downgrade the firmware,” says Herbert. “I’m sure they’re coming. People will figure it out eventually.”


The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.

— Albert Einstein

Hacker Disables More Than 100 Cars Remotely 2010


More than 100 drivers in Austin, Texas found their cars disabled or the horns honking out of control, after an intruder ran amok in a web-based vehicle-immobilization system normally used to get the attention of consumers delinquent in their auto payments.

Police with Austin’s High Tech Crime Unit on Wednesday arrested 20-year-old Omar Ramos-Lopez, a former Texas Auto Center employee who was laid off last month, and allegedly sought revenge by bricking the cars sold from the dealership’s four Austin-area lots.

“We initially dismissed it as mechanical failure,” says Texas Auto Center manager Martin Garcia. “We started having a rash of up to a hundred customers at one time complaining. Some customers complained of the horns going off in the middle of the night. The only option they had was to remove the battery.”

The dealership used a system called Webtech Plus as an alternative to repossessing vehicles that haven’t been paid for. Operated by Cleveland-based Pay Technologies, the system lets car dealers install a small black box under vehicle dashboards that responds to commands issued through a central website, and relayed over a wireless pager network. The dealer can disable a car’s ignition system, or trigger the horn to begin honking, as a reminder that a payment is due. The system will not stop a running vehicle...

Weekend Economists Vuelvan a Cuba February 13-16, 2015

The stock markets will be closed on Monday, Presidents Day, so we will be offering 3 day Weekend this week....and get a little further in our visit to Cuba...specifically

Economy of Cuba From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The economy of Cuba is a centrally planned economy dominated by state-run enterprises overseen by the Cuban government, though there remains significant foreign investment and personal enterprise in Cuba. Most of the means of production are owned and run by the government, and most of the labor force is employed by the state, although in recent years, the formation of cooperatives and self-employment has been encouraged by the Communist Party.

In the year 2000, public sector employment was 76% and private sector, mainly composed by personal property, employment was 23% compared to the 1981 ratio of 91% to 8%. Capital investment is restricted and requires approval by the government. The Cuban government sets most prices and rations goods to citizens. In 2009, Cuba ranked 51st out of 182 with an HDI (Human Development Index) of 0.863; remarkably high considering its GDP per capita only places it 95th. Public services and transportation in Cuba, however, are second-rate compared to more developed counterparts on the mainland. In 2012, the country's public debt was measured at 35.3% of GDP. At the same time, inflation (CDP) was ranked at 5.5%. Furthermore, in the same year, the economy encountered a 3% growth in GDP.

Before Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution, Cuba's capital, Havana, was a "glittering and dynamic city". The country's economy in the early part of the century, fueled by the sale of sugar to the United States, had grown dynamically. Cuba ranked 5th in per capita income in the hemisphere, 3rd in life expectancy, 2nd in per capita ownership of automobiles and telephones, and 1st in the number of television sets per inhabitant. Cuba's literacy rate, 76%, was the fourth highest in Latin America. Cuba also ranked 11th in the world in the number of doctors per capita. Several private clinics and hospitals provided services for the poor. Cuba's income distribution compared favorably with that of other Latin American societies. A thriving middle class, according to PBS, held the promise of prosperity and social mobility.

Cuba had a vibrant but extremely unequal economy, with large capital outflows to foreign investors. The country compared favourably with Spain and Portugal on socioeconomic measures. Furthermore, its income in 1929 was reportedly 41% of the US, thus higher than in some Southern states of the US, such as Mississippi and South Carolina. The country has made significant progress towards a more even distribution of income since the Revolution and being placed under economic embargo by the United States. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba's GDP declined by 33% between 1990 and 1993, partially due to loss of Soviet subsidies and to a crash in sugar prices in the early 1990s. Yet Cuba has managed to retain high levels of healthcare and education.

Housing and transportation costs are low and Cubans receive free education, health care, and food subsidies. Corruption is common, although allegedly lower than in most other countries in Latin America. In the book, Corruption in Cuba, Sergio Diaz-Briquets and Jorge F. Pérez-López Servando state that Cuba has "institutionalized" corruption and that state-run monopolies, cronyism, and lack of accountability have made Cuba one of the world's most corrupt states".


Prior to the Cuban Revolution, Cuba was one of the most advanced and successful countries in Latin America. Cuba became an exotic and favorite destination for some of America's wealthiest. They came for bouts of gambling, horse racing, golfing and country-clubbing. American tourism became Cuba's flowing source of revenue. Tourism magazine Cabaret Quarterly described Havana as "a mistress of pleasure, the lush and opulent goddess of delights." According to Cuba historian Louis Perez of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, "Havana was then what Las Vegas has become."

Cuba had a one-crop economy whose domestic market was constricted. Its population was characterized by chronic unemployment and deep poverty. United States monopolies like Bethlehem Steel Corporation and Speyer gained control over Cuba's national resources from which they made huge profits. The banks and the country's entire financial system, all electric power production and most industry was dominated by US capital. US monopolies owned 25 percent of the best land in Cuba and more than 80 percent of all farm lands were occupied by sugar and livestock-raising latifundia. 90 percent of the country's raw sugar and tobacco exports was sent to the USA. Before the Revolution most Cuban children were not included in the school system. There was almost no machine-building industry in Cuba. During this period in the 1950s Cuba was as rich per capita as Italy was and richer than Japan.

87 percent of urban homes had electricity, but only 10 percent of rural homes did. Only 15 percent of rural homes had running water. Nearly half the rural population was illiterate as was about 25 percent of the total population. Poverty and unemployment in the rural areas forced desperate residents to migrate to Havana where high levels of crime and prostitution existed. More than 40 percent of the Cuban workforce in 1958 were either underemployed or unemployed. Schools for blacks and mulattoes were vastly inferior to those for whites. Afro-Cubans had the worst living conditions and held the lowest paid jobs.

Greg Palast Retrospective

Did Fabrice Tourre Really Create the Global Financial Crisis? July 22, 2013


You just knew it had to be one of those brie-biting, Sartre-spewing, overly-garlicked Frenchmen who pushed the Earth's finance system over a cliff.

This week, US prosecutors finally began the trial of the only person on the entire planet whom they have charged with the financial crimes that sank worldwide stock markets by trillions in 2008 and left millions homeless and jobless, from Detroit to Manchester.

Amazingly, say prosecutors, it all came down to a single Frenchman, Fabrice "Fabulous Fab" Tourre, only 29 years old at the time. Even Julius Caesar waited until he turned 51 to bring the known world to its knees....


Government watchdogs hunted for the financial crimes perpetrators, and, discovering the Goldman/Paulson fraud, brought charges against... the French kid. Goldman had lent Fabrice Tourre to Paulson to take on flunky tasks, including putting together a 28-page "flip book" to lure European banks into the scam.

In a text message discovered by investigators, Fabrice admitted to a friend that he couldn't understand the insanely complex derivatives Paulson had crafted with Tourre's bosses at Goldman. He did, though, grasp that the strange securities were, he wrote, "monstrosities". A collapse was coming that would "bring down the whole house", leaving Fabrice standing in a ruined planet – with a fat bonus.

What did the Feds do to Paulson? He received... a special tax break.

The Confidential Memo at the Heart of the Global Financial Crisis August 22, 2013


When a little birdie dropped the End Game memo through my window, its content was so explosive, so sick and plain evil, I just couldn't believe it.

The Memo confirmed every conspiracy freak’s fantasy: that in the late 1990s, the top US Treasury officials secretly conspired with a small cabal of banker big-shots to rip apart financial regulation across the planet. When you see 26.3 percent unemployment in Spain, desperation and hunger in Greece, riots in Indonesia and Detroit in bankruptcy, go back to this End Game memo, the genesis of the blood and tears.

The Treasury official playing the bankers’ secret End Game was Larry Summers...(WHO) should be serving hard time in some dungeon reserved for the criminally insane of the finance world....It's not the little cabal of confabs held by Summers and the banksters that’s so troubling. The horror is in the purpose of the "end game” itself.

Let me explain:

The year was 1997. US Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin was pushing hard to de-regulate banks. That required, first, repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act to dismantle the barrier between commercial banks and investment banks. It was like replacing bank vaults with roulette wheels.

Second, the banks wanted the right to play a new high-risk game: “derivatives trading”. JP Morgan alone would soon carry $88 trillion of these pseudo-securities on its books as “assets”.

Deputy Treasury Secretary Summers (soon to replace Rubin as Secretary) body-blocked any attempt to control derivatives.

But what was the use of turning US banks into derivatives casinos if money would flee to nations with safer banking laws?

The answer conceived by the Big Bank Five: eliminate controls on banks in every nation on the planet -- in one single move. It was as brilliant as it was insanely dangerous.

How could they pull off this mad caper? The bankers' and Summers' game was to use the Financial Services Agreement (or FSA), an abstruse and benign addendum to the international trade agreements policed by the World Trade Organisation.

Until the bankers began their play, the WTO agreements dealt simply with trade in goods – that is, my cars for your bananas. The new rules devised by Summers and the banks would force all nations to accept trade in "bads" – toxic assets like financial derivatives.

Until the bankers’ re-draft of the FSA, each nation controlled and chartered the banks within their own borders. The new rules of the game would force every nation to open their markets to Citibank, JP Morgan and their derivatives “products”.

And all 156 nations in the WTO would have to smash down their own Glass-Steagall divisions between commercial savings banks and the investment banks that gamble with derivatives.

The job of turning the FSA into the bankers’ battering ram was given to Geithner, who was named Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation.


Larry Summers: Goldman Sacked Monday, September 16, 2013


Joseph Stiglitz couldn't believe his ears. Here they were in the White House, with President Bill Clinton asking the chiefs of the US Treasury for guidance on the life and death of America's economy, when the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers turns to his boss, Secretary Robert Rubin, and says, "What would Goldman think of that?"


Then, at another meeting, Summers said it again: What would Goldman think?A shocked Stiglitz, then Chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisors, told me he'd turned to Summers, and asked if Summers thought it appropriate to decide US economic policy based on "what Goldman thought." As opposed to say, the facts, or say, the needs of the American public, you know, all that stuff that we heard in Cabinet meetings on The West Wing.

Summers looked at Stiglitz like Stiglitz was some kind of naive fool who'd read too many civics books.

R.I.P. Larry Summers

On Sunday afternoon, facing a revolt by his own party's senators, Obama dumped Larry as likely replacement for Ben Bernanke as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.

Until news came that Summers' torch had been snuffed, I was going to write another column about Larry, the Typhoid Mary of Economics. (My first, in The Guardian, 15 years ago, warned that "Summers is, in fact, a colony of aliens sent to Earth to turn humans into a cheap source of protein.")

But the fact that Obama even tried to shove Summers down the planet's throat tells us more about Obama than Summers—and whom Obama works for. Hint: You aren't one of them....


5 Steps to Creating Your Digital Estate Plan


A will is essential — and these days it should include all your online accounts. The new Google Inactive Account Manager feature can also be a useful tool....Will drawn up? Check. Trusts created for the kids? Check. Executor of the estate named, health directives signed, and funeral arrangements specified? Check, check, and check. With all that done, you may think your work is finished. But there’s one key facet of 21st century estate planning that many people overlook: a digital estate plan.

This plan lays out your digital assets — both financial (such as online bank and brokerage accounts purchasing and download destinations like Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Expedia) and social (like Facebook and Flickr accounts) — and provides directions on how to access and handle them upon your death. To help make the process simpler, Google just launched an Inactive Account Manager feature, which lets you tell the company what you want done with your digital assets on its services (Gmail, Blogger, Google Drive, Google+, Picasa, Google Voice and YouTube) when you die.

The Importance of a Digital Estate Plan

Maybe you never thought of your Facebook account, your eBay shop, or your virtual land on FarmVille as an “asset.” In fact, 63 percent of people don’t know what will happen to their digital assets when they die, according to a survey by Rocket Lawyer, an online legal service. But think about all the information and docs and apps (such as what may be stored in the cloud) in these accounts and the potential value they represent. If you're a photographer, for example, much of your valuable work may be digital and stored in password-protected areas of your computer or in the cloud.

“In this day and age, your digital assets should be a part of your estate planning,” says Rick Salmeron, founder of Salmeron Financial in Dallas. “You need to pass on the keys to your digital kingdom.”

A 5-Step Digital Estate Plan

Here are five steps to help you create a digital estate plan:

Step 1: Make 2 inventory lists of your digital assets and how to access them. One should have your online passwords and the other should have your online account numbers. If all that information is in one place and someone steals that list, he or she can easily hack into all of your digital accounts. The lists might be long; you may not be able to put them all together in one sitting. (You should also have a record of your non-digital assets, as a blog post by Next Avenue Money & Security editor Richard Eisenberg explains.)

Your digital inventory could include the following:

Your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media accounts.
Blogs and websites you own.
Bank, brokerage, retirement plan, credit card, loan, and insurance accounts that you access online.
Your email accounts.
Online retail accounts and apps from stores, flash sale sites or marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, and iTunes.
Photo- or video-sharing sites like Flickr or YouTube.
Music sites like Pandora.
PayPal or other online payment accounts.
Utility bills you pay online.
Any other online accounts such as ones from airline sites with your frequent flier miles and document and data storage accounts like Google Docs

If you use a “digital wallet” product on your cell phone — like a prepaid Starbucks app that lets you pay for your lattes from your phone — this too might be worth adding to the list. Try to update these inventories at least once a year — or, ideally, whenever you change a password, or close or open a digital account.

Step 2: Find a safe place to store this information.
Since your digital inventories contain personal information that could lead to identity theft and financial losses if it gets into the wrong hands, “you have to be very careful" about where you put them, says Susan Slater-Jansen, a trusts and estates attorney at Kurzman Eisenberg Corbin & Lever in White Plains, N.Y.

One option is to store the lists in a safety deposit box at your bank. Or you might put them in a site like Legacy Locker or SecureSafe, which securely encrypts and stores all of your account information and passwords in one place.
You can also use one of these sites to store copies of important documents such as your wills and trusts, the deed to your house, stock certificates and birth certificates. When you die, your beneficiaries get access to everything you’ve stored. Legacy Locker costs either $29.99 a year or $299.99 a one-time fee plan. SecureSafe plans range from free to $12.90 a month, depending on how much information you want to store. You can also give the lists, or a copy of them, to a trusted person like your spouse, child or best friend, as well as your digital executor (see below).

Step 3: Name a “digital executor.” This is the person you designate to carry out your digital estate plan upon your death, ensuring that your end-of-life requests are met. Your digital executor should be impartial and mature, able to handle this sensitive information responsibly, and technologically savvy, says Charley Moore, founder and executive chairman of Rocket Lawyer. Once you’ve settled on someone who fits that description, name him or her as your digital executor in your will, says Moore. Be sure your digital executor knows how to access your digital estate plan, including instructions that spell out how to handle your online accounts upon your death. You should also give your digital executor power of attorney over your digital accounts, since he or she may need it to access the accounts after you die. Let your digital executor know if you have automated any of your digital assets by using something like Google's Inactive Account Manager.

Here's how that feature works: Google will automatically send you a text or an email alert if you've been inactive for a certain amount of time (you pick the duration when signing up in the Account Management area of one of your Google accounts). If you don't respond, Google will notify your friends or family members whose contact information you've provided. Once they've confirmed that you're deceased, Google will do what you've instructed and either share your accounts with these people or delete them. Although Google is ahead of the curve on this, Salmeron says that "there is no doubt in my mind that companies will be following its lead." Even though Google Inactive Account Manager process is automated, it's important to let your executor know that you've set it up, so he or she isn't trying to figure out what to do with these accounts.

Step 4: Write out instructions for what should happen to your digital assets after you die. Your will most likely lays out the distribution of all your bank and brokerage accounts, so you probably don’t need a separate written plan for the ones you access online, says Michael Sears, vice president and trust officer of Great Plains Trust Company in Overland Park, Kansas. Just make sure the executor of your will knows how to obtain your list of online financial accounts, since this can make divvying up your estate faster and easier, he adds.

Your non-financial digital assets, however, are a different story. Sears says it’s a good idea to create a to-do list outlining how you want all things digital — from your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles to your Flickr and YouTube accounts — to be handled when you die. Then give this document to your digital executor.

The to-do list should answer questions like these:

Do you want your Facebook account deactivated when you die, or do you want it to remain online as a memorial of your life?
Do you want prints of your Flickr photos sent to your family members?

Before you create this list, you should review the terms of services on your digital social media accounts, says John O’Grady, a trusts and estates lawyer at the O’Grady Law Firm in San Francisco. The terms of service for social media sites can take precedent over state laws. Typically, you will need to give your digital executor or someone else the user name and password for your social media accounts, so they can log in after you die. Otherwise, your wishes may not be honored.

  • In general, Facebook won’t grant access to an account to anyone other than the account holder (or your digital executor, if you’ve given him or her permission to enter your user name and password). Instead, the company can do one of two things when a Facebook user dies. It can “memorialize” the user's profile so friends and family can still see it and post on the wall, but can’t log into the account or find the deceased in a search. Or it can deactivate the profile at the request of the user's family.

  • Twitter lists only the option of deactivating the account on its “Help Center” site. And it doesn’t make this process easy: You need to fax Twitter copies of the death certificate and your government-issued ID (such as a driver’s license), along with a signed, notarized statement and either a link to an online obituary or a copy of the obituary from a local paper.

  • To access your YouTube account after you die, the person you appoint will need to send YouTube a copy of your death certificate and a copy of a document saying he or she has power of attorney over the account.

  • As for Gmail, Google says that it will only grant a family member access to a deceased person’s email “in rare cases.” The family member requesting this access must send Google a copy of his or her government-issued ID and the death certificate. But even then, the company doesn't promise that it will let anyone into a loved one’s email account.

    Step 5: Consider whether you want to post a final message online. Your digital estate plan can also explain how you want to send a final online message (or messages) to friends and family. Do you want to record a video of your life story and have it posted on your YouTube channel when you die? Do you want to create a photo album chronicling your life and have someone put it up for you on Flickr?
    Whatever you decide to do, be sure your digital estate plan provides specific instructions for your digital executor about any content you want to be posted online upon your death, as well as how and when it should be posted.
  • Why Geoengineering is “Untested and Untestable” by Naomi Klein


    Nature has a new opinion piece up that signals a bold new push for field experiments into techno-hacking the climate system, usually known as “geoengineering.” Right now there are all kinds of geoengineering experiments going on in labs and with computer modeling but “outdoor tests” are still frowned upon.

    The authors of the piece—fixtures on the “geo-clique” conference circuit—boldly call for these tests to go ahead even in the absence of any regulatory system governing them. They explicitly state that “governance and experimentation must co-evolve”—which is a high-minded way of saying: roll the dice and see what happens.

    Amazingly, the article completely fails to mention the most significant problem with small-scale field experiments: the fact that they are structurally incapable of answering the most significant ethical and humanitarian questions raised by these global-scale technological interventions, which relate to how geoengineering in one part of the world will impact the climate on the other side of the planet. Those questions can only be answered through planetary scale deployment.

    Here’s a short excerpt from my book on why geoengineering is “untestable.” For those interested in more, see all of Chapter 8: “Dimming the Sun: The Solution to Pollution is… Pollution?” in This Changes Everything.

    Like Climate Change, Volcanoes Do Discriminate

    Boosters of Solar Radiation Management tend to speak obliquely about the “distributional consequences” of injecting sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere, and of the “spatial heterogeneity” of the impacts. Petra Tschakert, a geographer at Penn State University, calls this jargon “a beautiful way of saying that some countries are going to get screwed.” But which countries? And screwed precisely how?

    Having reliable answers to those key questions would seem like a pre- requisite for considering deployment of such a world-altering technology. But it’s not at all clear that obtaining those answers is even possible. Keith and Myhrvold can test whether a hose or an airplane is a better way to get sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere. Others can spray saltwater from boats or towers and see if it brightens clouds. But you’d have to deploy these methods on a scale large enough to impact the global climate system to be certain about how, for instance, spraying sulfur in the Arctic or the tropics will impact rainfall in the Sahara or southern India. But that wouldn’t be a test of geoengineering; it would actually be conducting geoengineering.

    Nor could the necessary answers be found from a brief geoengineering stint—pumping sulfur for, say, one year. Because of the huge variations in global weather patterns from one year to the next (some monsoon seasons are naturally weaker than others, for instance), as well as the havoc already being wreaked by global warming, it would be impossible to connect a particular storm or drought to an act of geoengineering. Sulfur injections would need to be maintained long enough for a clear pattern to be isolated from both natural fluctuations and the growing impacts of greenhouse gases. That likely means keeping the project running for a decade or more.

    As Martin Bunzl, a Rutgers philosopher and climate change expert, points out, these facts alone present an enormous, perhaps insurmountable ethical problem for geoengineering. In medicine, he writes, “You can test a vaccine on one person, putting that person at risk, without putting everyone else at risk.” But with geoengineering, “You can’t build a scale model of the atmosphere or tent off part of the atmosphere. As such you are stuck going directly from a model to full scale planetary-wide implementation.” In short, you could not conduct meaningful tests of these technologies without enlisting billions of people as guinea pigs—for years. Which is why science historian James Fleming calls geoengineering schemes “untested and untestable, and dangerous beyond belief.”

    Woman gets results from Comcast only after telling CEO’s mom her son’s company is terrible

    Source: Yahoo

    Tattling on someone to their mother isn’t typically the way adults go about getting results… but then again, Comcast isn’t your typical company and special measures are usually required to get things done...Philadelphia Daily News columnist Ronnie Polaneczky regularly gets emails from exasperated readers who are completely fed up with Comcast’s Kafkaesque customer service, which is quite a common occurrence for those of us who regularly write about the company. However unlike most of us, Polaneczky happens to know how to get in touch with Suzanne Roberts, the mother of Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. When Polaneczky recently contacted Mrs. Roberts about problems one of her readers was having with Comcast, she found that she immediately got results.

    “Center City couple Diana and Jason Airoldi finally got their Comcast cable and internet hookup after six full weeks of broken appointments by the cable giant,” she explains. “Why? Because I took pity on the couple and called to the ultimate authority at Comcast Corp. — Suzanne Roberts, the 92-year-old mother of the company’s CEO. In less than a day, Comcast trucks were at the Airoldi home, and the problem was solved.”

    While it’s great that Polaneczky helped this couple get their problem solved, it’s pretty pathetic that Comcast customers have to either contact reporters or hope their stories go viral on Reddit before getting any kind of attention. What’s especially bad is that this columnist felt the only way to get the company’s attention in this case was to tattle on the CEO to his mom, which is something most of us stopped doing around the age of 9 or so.

    It would be one thing if Comcast were simply an incompetently run company, but we know it’s not. Comcast’s lobbying operations are absolutely first-rate and it can cozy up to politicians and regulators like almost no one else in the country right now. The reason Comcast’s customer service is so bad is because it simply doesn’t care.

    Read more: https://www.yahoo.com/tech/s/woman-gets-results-comcast-only-telling-ceo-mom-185521310.html

    DON’T MISS: Comcast’s infamously bad customer service isn’t incompetence – it’s a choice

    My bank erased my $60,000 student loan



    There aren’t many people in my situation in the United States. In fact, I’ve never met anyone else who can say this: even though I was over $60,000 in debt, the bank forgave my student loans. Until it happened, I was like most other people my age in America, who owe the bulk of $1tn in student loans: throwing away sealed envelopes, ignoring calls from unknown numbers, considering grad school. Wondering when your life will begin – your real life, the one where you can afford to travel home for the holidays or take a vacation. Debt means regularly fantasizing about floods, explosions, and comets – anything that will wipe your slate clean.

    It didn’t start out like that. Sure, I graduated from college in 2008 with $90,000 of debt, which included that $60,000 bank loan along with $30,000 in government loans, but I was determined to find work. For three months, I interviewed, temped, and worked part time before landing a “full-time” job at a salon (I made $10 an hour and had no benefits or sick days). My bachelor’s degree and I swept hair, scrubbed heads, and dropped off towels at the laundromat 45 hours a week. It was the same job I had in high school and throughout college. Two weeks into my new position, Lehman Brothers collapsed and the market crashed. Three months after that, I began receiving bills in the mail.

    I had two kinds of loans: one bad, one good. My government loans had decent payment plans, low interest rates, and forbearance options. My private loans were accompanied by angry calls and ever-climbing minimum payments. I didn’t have the income to pay the bank what it insisted on. Paying any bill beyond my federal loan would have left me immobilized: unable to save, take risks or survive an emergency. So I paid the government loan and ignored the private one. Six years later, the government loan was paid off. The bank loan took a different route.

    Shortly after graduating, I heard somewhere that your debt disappears once the statute of limitations on it runs out. Your credit score would be nil, but you wouldn’t have debt any more. For a long time, I held this thought. It sustained me through spells of under- and unemployment. I don’t know if I actually believed I would be absolved of my debt if I were patient – but after the bank threatened that I either pay $60,000 in full immediately or be sent to collections, my desperation compelled me to find out. I took stock of the situation: since I’d used plastic to purchase clothes for jobs I never landed, my credit score was already in shambles by the age of 21. (Side note: “Dress for the job you want” is stupid advice if you’re broke.) There was also the threat that I’d be sued. I had zero assets and was making less than $25,000 a year, so that didn’t bother me either. Instead of haggling with the bank, I continued to work, advance my career, and dream of collections agencies bursting into flames. By 2013, I was making enough money to start saving. I could have begun paying the loan, but whichever collection agency owned it had lost track of me years ago. I wasn’t exactly on the hunt for them, either.

    Then my debt caught up with me, but not in the way I expected. In 2014, I received a letter informing me that the bank was writing off my student loan. Wiping it out. I didn’t owe it any more. $60,000 in debt, gone.


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