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A Look At How Nestle Makes Billions Selling You Groundwater In A Bottle

A Look At How Nestle Makes Billions Selling You Groundwater In A Bottle

A few weeks ago we shared with readers a lawsuit filed in Connecticut against Nestle Waters North America, Inc. alleging that the water they marketed as Poland ‘Natural Spring Water’ was actually just bottled groundwater…the same water that runs through the taps of many American households.

Now a new investigation from Bloomberg Businessweek reveals how large water bottling companies choose their plant locations based not on the steady supply of pristine, natural drinking water, as their labels and other marketing campaigns would lead you to believe, but based on which economically depressed municipalities offer up the most tax breaks and have the most lax water laws. 

As an example, even in the drought stricken state of California, Bloomberg notes that Nestle was able to strike a sweetheart 20-year supply agreement with the U.S. Forest Service to pay roughly $0.000001 for the water in each bottle that consumers blindly drop a couple bucks to purchase.

But it illuminates how Nestlé has come to dominate a controversial industry, spring by spring, often going into economically depressed municipalities with the promise of jobs and new infrastructure in exchange for tax breaks and access to a resource that’s scarce for millions. Where Nestlé encounters grass-roots resistance against its industrial-strength guzzling, it deploys lawyers; where it’s welcome, it can push the limits of that hospitality, sometimes with the acquiescence of state and local governments that are too cash-strapped or inept to say no. There are the usual costs of doing business, including transportation, infrastructure, and salaries. But Nestlé pays little for the product it bottles—sometimes a municipal rate and other times just a nominal extraction fee. In Michigan, it’s $200.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Government Regulation and Crony Capitalism is Keeping Thousands in Florida without Power

Government Regulation and Crony Capitalism is Keeping Thousands in Florida without Power

Yellow_Tape_by_Downed_Power_Lines_(7536146736).jpg

Almost two weeks have passed since Hurricane Irma made landfall in South Florida, yet tens of thousands remain without power. With temperatures regularly eclipsing over 90 degrees, these outages are not only a grave inconvenience for Floridians cleaning up after the storm, but have proved to be deadly. Given the power of Irma, it is not surprising that it has left behind incredible devastation. Unfortunately it is also not surprising that it is a government-protected utility that has done the most to impede recovery. The pain and suffering currently being felt is the direct result of government policy and the perverse incentives of crony capitalism.

One of the talked about examples of how bad policy is making things worse for Florida families are a variety of government policies that discourages the use of solar power in the Sunshine State. Government policy dictates that Floridians are required to be connected to the central power grid, even if they have enough solar panels installed to power their entire house. Because of this requirement, a family stuck in areas without power with solar panels installed cannot use them now because doing so could endanger workers trying to restore power for their neighbors. Once again government’s desire for centralized control has unintended consequences.

Of course, even without such rules, it’s unlikely that all of Florida would decide to go off the grid. Given that, it’s important to understand how the legal monopoly granted to electric companies not only traps customers into being entirely reliant upon a single company, but actively incentivizes those companies to be reactive – rather than proactive – when it comes to natural disasters and other events that threaten service.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Hurricane Maria Floods San Juan, Knocks Out Power Across Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria Floods San Juan, Knocks Out Power Across Puerto Rico

Even after weakening to a category 4 storm shortly before making landfall along the southeastern coast of Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria has caused unprecedented devastation to the cash-strapped island, knocking out electricity for all residents. Worse still, the island’s governor has said it could be months before power is restored to all customers, according to the Associated Press.

The strongest storm to hit Puerto Rico in nearly 90 years tore off roofs and doors and caused flooding across the island – including in downtown San Juan, including the capital’s Hato Rey financial district. Its 20+ inches of rain, 9 nine-foot storm surge and 155 mph winds hammered the island’s fragile power grid, which had yet to be fully repaired from the damage caused by Hurricane Irma just two weeks ago.

Many of residents had yet to see their power restored after Irma’s assault, and thousands remained in government-run shelters.

Rivers overflowed and the winds downed trees and damaged homes and buildings, including several hospitals. The storm was downgraded to a category 3 with 115 mph gusts as it traversed the island, according to Bloomberg.

Maria is expected to linger over the island, carrying life-threatening winds, for between 12 and 24 hours.

Widespread flooding was reported across the island, with dozens of cars half-submerged in some neighborhoods and many streets turned into rivers. People calling local radio stations reported that doors were being torn off their hinges and a water tank flew away.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello said more than 11,000 people, and nearly 600 pets, were staying in government-run shelters.
In one neighborhood, nearly 80% of homes were destroyed, according to initial estimates.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Whole Towns Have Been Wiped Out” Hurricane Maria Devastates Tiny Caribbean Island Of Dominica

“Whole Towns Have Been Wiped Out” Hurricane Maria Devastates Tiny Caribbean Island Of Dominica

In a testament to the sheer power of Hurricane Maria, the most destructive storm to hit the Caribbean in nearly a century, civilization on the tiny island of Dominica was essentially wiped out after Maria – then a category 5 storm – battered the island with 160 mph gusts, leveling whole towns and wiping out the island’s electricity and communications infrastructure.

The death toll on the island has climbed to 7 – but a complete count of casualties likely won’t be possible for at least a few more days, as the island’s shaken residents sift through the debris and contemplate what to do now that everything they and their neighbors owned has been destroyed.

When CNN flew over the island to survey the damage, it captured startling footage depicting whole villages decimated and thousands of trees snapped in half across the island. Houses ripped open. Evidence of numerous landslides.

Philmore Mullin, head of Antigua and Barbuda’s National Office of Disaster Services, told CNN the only power available on the island was from emergency generators and car batteries. “Damage is severe and widespread. We know of casualties, but not in detail. We’ve heard of many missing but we just don’t know much at the moment.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“We’ve Never Seen Anything Like This” – Maria Slams Puerto Rico With 9-Foot Storm Surge, 155Mph Winds

“We’ve Never Seen Anything Like This” – Maria Slams Puerto Rico With 9-Foot Storm Surge, 155Mph Winds 

Hurricane Maria made landfall near the city of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, at around 6:15 am Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center, battering the densely populated eastern side of the island with torrential rains and 155 mph gusts as hundreds of thousands of people hunkered down in one of the island’s 500 storm shelters in hopes of riding out the second major hurricane to impact the island within two weeks.

Category 4 Maria slammed the island with winds of 155 mph, just 2 mph short of category 5 status.

The island’s governor has said the hurricane will likely cause “catastrophic” damage to the island’s power grid and infrastructure, much of which has yet to be repaired following Hurricane Irma, which didn’t make landfall in Puerto Rico, but passed close enough to cause $1 billion in damage.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…
* U.S. Virgin Islands
* British Virgin Islands
* Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques
* Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata
* Turks and Caicos Islands and the Southeastern Bahamas
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Saba
* St. Maarten
* Dominican Republic west of Puerto Plata to the northern border of
the Dominican Republic and Haiti
* Dominican Republic west of Cabo Engano to Punta Palenque
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…
* St. Maarten
* St. Martin and St. Barthelemy
* Dominican Republic from Isla Saona to Cabo Engano

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello is saying Maria is “potentially most catastrophic hurricane to hit” the U.S. territory in a century. Rossello said up to 25 inches of rain could fall in some areas and he urged anyone in a flood-prone, mudslide-prone or coastal area to leave.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Morning After: Mexican Earthquake Leaves Over 248 Dead, Millions Without Electricity

The Morning After: Mexican Earthquake Leaves Over 248 Dead, Millions Without Electricity

Across central Mexico, rescue workers including soldiers and volunteers worked late into the night Tuesday to free the living who were still trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings following Mexico’s deadliest earthquake in more than 30 years.

The death toll from the 7.1 magnitude quake – which bizarrely occurred on the anniversary of a 1985 quake that left 5,000 dead – has climbed to 248, with more than half of those deaths occurring in the Mexican capital city.  It also comes two weeks after another powerful quake left nearly 100 dead in Mexico City. The quake was unusually close to Mexico City, located just 60 miles south of the capital in Chiautla de Tapia, a small town in neighboring Puebla state, according to Mexico’s seismological service.

More are feared dead, including possibly dozens of teachers and schoolchildren feared buried in the rubble of a Mexico City school, one of hundreds of buildings that was destroyed by the quake, according to Reuters.

Additionally, several buildings collapsed in the chic neighborhoods of Roma and Condesa in central Mexico City, where many foreigners live. In Condesa, rescue workers scrambled to find eight to 10 people believed trapped under the debris of a building that collapsed near Mexico Park, one of the city’s most famous parks. Hundreds of volunteers formed a human chain to help clear rubble and bring food and water to rescue workers.

Mexico was also hit earlier this month by Hurricane Katia, which killed two. Even the Popocatépetl volcano southeast of the city sent a large cloud of ash into the sky on Tuesday. “This is too much. It’s like we’re cursed or something,” said Marcos Santamaría, a 62-year-old retiree.

Philippines and the United Nations have offered to support the recovery effort. At least 30 second-grade students are still missing, along with eight adults.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Who Gets Hit by Mortgage Losses in Harvey and Irma Areas?

Who Gets Hit by Mortgage Losses in Harvey and Irma Areas?

“We need to ask for a policy change because the burden with these losses is too big.”

Somebody is going to pay for losses on mortgages of homes that were destroyed by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. It’s a just a question of who.

The taxpayer is on the hook, along with some investors. But then there are the servicers of mortgages guaranteed by the Government National Mortgage Association, for short Ginnie Mae. The largest of them is Wells Fargo, but they mostly include smaller non-banks such as PennyMac and Quicken Loans. The amounts could be large. And now they’re asking for a bailout of sorts.

In total, 4.3 million properties with nearly $700 billion in outstanding mortgage balances are located in FEMA-designated disaster areas in Texas and Florida, according to a preliminary estimate by Black Knight Financial Services:

  • Disaster areas of Hurricane Harvey: 1.18 million mortgaged properties with $179 billion in unpaid mortgages.
  • Disaster areas of Hurricane Irma: 3.14 million mortgaged properties with $517 billion in unpaid mortgages.

Many of these homes survived mostly unscathed. So the mortgage balances of homes that have been severely damaged or destroyed remain uncertain but are significant.

And who picks up the losses on these mortgages?

  • Federal flood insurance for insured homes, but payouts are capped. Taxpayers will bail out the insurance program.
  • Investors in private mortgage-backed securities (MBS) backed by mortgages that are not guaranteed by the government. Losses on those mortgages flow through to investors.
  • Banks take the losses on any mortgages they hold on their books and that are not guaranteed by the government.
  • Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE), such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will be hit with losses on mortgages they guaranteed, packaged into MBS, and sold to investors. Some of the losses will be borne by private-sector investors via risk-transfer securities. The remaining losses will be borne by taxpayers.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

At Least 47 Dead, Many Trapped After Powerful Quake Rocks Mexico City

At Least 47 Dead, Many Trapped After Powerful Quake Rocks Mexico City

Update 2 (4:38 pm ET): The governor of the Mexican state of Morelos said at least 42 people have died in the central Mexican state, which shares a border with Puebla, the state that contains Mexico City. Counting the five confirmed deaths in the state of Puebla, the quake’s body count has risen to 47.

Meanwhile, the Mexican government has asked to restrict phone and internet use to emergency situations only as the Mexican military has arrived in the Roma and Condesa areas of the capital city.

*MEXICAN MILITARY ARRIVE IN ROMA, CONDESA AREA OF CAPITAL
*MEXICO GOV ASKS TO RESTRICT PHONE, INTERNET FOR EMERGENCIES

Mexico City’s governor says 27 buildings have collapsed…

*MEX. PRES SAYS 27 BUILDINGS IN MEX CITY HAVE COLLAPSED:TELEVISA

Update (4:05 pm ET): The BBC is reporting that several deaths have already been reported as a result of the quake. Reuters says at least five have been killed. The AP quoted Mexico City’s mayor as saying that there are reports of peole still trapped in collapsed buildings.

President Donald Trump has taken time out of his day of meetings at the UN to tweet his support: “God bless Mexico City. We are with you and we will be there for you.”


God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.


Meanwhile, there are reports that tremors were felt as far away as Guadalajara, more than 300 miles away…

* * *

On the anniversary of a massive 1985 earthquake that killed at least 5,000 people, Mexico City has been shaken by another powerful earthquake, the second the shake the city in the past two weeks. The 7.1 magnitude quake shook buildings in the capital city, sending thousands rushing into the streets, according to Reuters.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Hurricane Maria Causes “Widespread Devastation” In Dominica As It Races Toward Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria Causes “Widespread Devastation” In Dominica As It Races Toward Puerto Rico

In less than two days, Hurricane Maria has strengthened from a tropical storm to a powerful category five hurricane, dubbed in no uncertain terms as “catastrophic” by the NHC. Though it has been downgraded to a category 4 overnight, the storm made landfall on the tiny Caribbean island of Dominica, leaving it utterly “devastated,” according to the island’s prime minister.

“We’re just waiting for daybreak to do an assessment of the damage,” Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit told CNN’s Rosemary Church.

The storm, which made landfall Monday night, has maximum sustained winds of 155 mph, and remains on track to directly hit Puerto Rico, what would make it the first category four hurricane to directly hit the island in 85 years, according to CNN. Skerrit said the island’s “first order of business” following the storm would be to make sure “every single citizen and resident is safe.”

A statement from the National Hurricane Center said Maria’s winds reached 160 miles per hour when it hit the island nation. In an update, the Center said that reports “indicate significant damage to structures has occurred in Dominica.”

In a Facebook post, Skerrit said “initial reports are of widespread devastation. So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace. My greatest fear for the morning is that we will wake to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains.”

Meanwhile, the storm early Tuesday morning made landfall on the tiny island Guadalupe, where it is battering homes and businesses with torrential rains and hurricane-force winds…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Scientists Say Italian Supervolcano Is “Becoming More Dangerous” As Magma Builds Beneath It

Scientists Say Italian Supervolcano Is “Becoming More Dangerous” As Magma Builds Beneath It 

After the long-dormant supervolcano Campi Flegrei awakened late last year, a team of scientists that has pinpointed the now-active volcano’s magma source says a potentially devastating eruption could be just around the corner.

Campi Flegrei is a volcanic caldera to the west of Naples that last erupted in the sixteenth century. It has been mostly quiet since then, with the exception of a few small tremors in the 1980s. Seismographic data from those rumbles allowed scientists to pinpoint the source of the magma that flooded into Campi Flegrei’s chamber and caldera, according to United Press International. The results are unequivocal: An analysis of the supervolcano’s hot zone suggests Campi Flegrei could be nearing an eruption.

“What this means in terms of the scale of any future eruption we cannot say, but there is no doubt that the volcano is becoming more dangerous,” De Siena said.

“The big question we have to answer now is if it is a big layer of magma that is rising to the surface, or something less worrying which could find its way to the surface out at sea.”

Researchers liken the volcano’s hot zone to a boiling pot of soup. Over the last several years, the volcano has gotten considerably hotter.

The Campi Flegrei “hot zone”

“These areas can give rise to the only eruptions that can have global catastrophic effects comparable to major meteorite impacts,” said Giuseppe De Natale, head of a project to monitor the volcano’s activity.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Hurricane Maria Intensifies To “Extremely Dangerous” Cat-4 Storm Ahead Of Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria Intensifies To “Extremely Dangerous” Cat-4 Storm Ahead Of Puerto Rico

Does this look familiar?

As AP reports, Hurricane Maria has intensified into a dangerous Category 4 storm as it bears down on the Caribbean.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Monday the storm is growing in strength as it approaches land. The eye of the storm is expected to pass near the island of Dominica on Monday evening.

The center called the storm “extremely dangerous,” with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215 kph).

At 5 p.m. EDT, the storm was centered about 45 miles (70 kilometers) east-southeast of Dominica.

A Hurricane warning has been issued for Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques.

*  *  *

The high cost of an easy-care, low-maintenance world

The high cost of an easy-care, low-maintenance world

I may be a member of an endangered species. I prefer a perfect crease in a pair of pants resulting from the use of an actual iron rather than a crease maintained by a toxic brew of chemicals that can make cotton-fiber pants not only “wrinkle-free,” but also “stain resistant.”

Once you finally get such chemically-enhanced britches dirty, you can put them through a wash augmented by artificial perfumes and other noxious chemicals found in liquid softeners and dryer sheets.

The maintenance of clothing isn’t thereby eliminated. It is simply transferred to chemical companies, clothing manufacturers, and purveyors of household products who concoct and apply formulas which require considerable energy to manufacture and deploy. One can adduce many other examples of our obsession with a low-maintenance life. (I will include a few below.) But, I write to contest the whole idea that a low-maintenance existence is in itself a good thing.

In general, entropy obliges us to maintain those objects which serve us. In doing so we must give them attention; we must give them a sort of love. We must become involved with their needs and not only our own.

By abandoning the duty of maintenance we owe to the objects in our lives, we are distancing ourselves from the physical world and essentially sending the entropy elsewhere for someone else to deal with, whether human or non-human.

I used to have an electric razor, the cutting block of which could be sharpened. A jeweler in the building where I worked had the equipment to do it. Later, it was cheaper just to replace the cutting block, and so, equipment that would sharpen it was scarce. Now, a new shaver that I just purchased—after many good years of service from my previous one ended with the motor shutting down—this new one is clearly designed simply as a throwaway.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Hurricane Maria Headed For Puerto Rico As Island Struggles To Recover From Irma

Hurricane Maria Headed For Puerto Rico As Island Struggles To Recover From Irma

The National Hurricane Center has upgraded formerly tropical storm Maria to a category one hurricane Sunday as it hurtles northwest toward the Lesser Antilles. The storm, which is expected to hammer the Leeward Islands Monday with 75 mph winds, has inspired several meteorologists to superimpose the latest forecast cone for Maria over the path traveled by Hurricane Irma. And the result, for many residents of the Caribbean, is frankly chilling.

After Irma hammered numerous Caribbean islands, leaving a million people in Puerto Rico without power and essentially wiping the tiny island of Barbuda off the map (not to mention the damage it caused in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina), it now appears that Maria could deal another devastating blow to the islands before they’ve had a chance to recover. In the chart below shared by Richard Dixon, a meteorologist at Cat Insight, areas within the yellow band in the chart below have a greater than 20% chance of experiencing hurricane-force winds next week as Maria glides over the Caribbean. Meanwhile, the blue band represents the path taken by Irma.


In the direct path of , at hurricane strength:
Martinique
Dominica
Guadeloupe
Montserrat
St. Kitts & Nevis
USVI
BVI
Puerto Rico
D.R. pic.twitter.com/u3WayKDck1

Combined the forecast hurricane swath with the hurricane force

swath to see who might be getting a second hit. pic.twitter.com/Y3EU1dmVb3

View image on Twitter

The group of islands potentially facing a second hit includes: Martinique, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Irma’s Aftermath: “For The First Time In 300 Years, There’s Not A Single Living Person On Barbuda”

Irma’s Aftermath: “For The First Time In 300 Years, There’s Not A Single Living Person On Barbuda”

Exactly one week ago, Prime Minister Gaston Browne surveyed the damage on his tiny Caribbean island of Barbuda and declared that Hurricane Irma had completely devastated the island and left 90% of all dwellings leveled.  Browne went on to say that Irma’s “absolute devastation” meant that Barbuda was “basically uninhabitable” for the 1,800 people who called it home.

Now, according Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States, Ronald Sanders, the entire island has been evacuated for the first time in 300 years leaving “not a single living person on the island of Barbuda.”  Per the USA Today:

“The damage is complete,” says Ambassador Ronald Sanders, who has served as Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the U.S. since 2015. “For the first time in 300 years, there’s not a single living person on the island of Barbuda — a civilization that has existed on that island for over 300 years has now been extinguished.”

“This was a huge monster,” he says. “The island and the people on the island had absolutely no chance.”

“We’ve had most of the people we’ve brought over to Antigua in shelters,” says Sanders. “We’ve tried to make living accommodations as good as humanly possible in these circumstances. Fortunately, we had planned ahead for this hurricane, and we had ordered supplies in from Miami and the United States before the hurricane hit.”


View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

First images out of Barbuda from a Facebook broadcast live by ABS Radio & TV.

Widespread destruction has occurred on the island.


As the following aerial footage from the BBC shows, not a single structure was left untouched by Irma’s 185 mph winds.

Meanwhile, even though Barbuda residents have been evacuated to safety on Antigua, Sanders says the mass evacuation has resulted in an unsustainable situation with massively overcrowded schools and unsanitary living quarters in government facilities.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

New York City Is Within Hurricane Jose’s 5-Day “Cone Of Uncertainty”

New York City Is Within Hurricane Jose’s 5-Day “Cone Of Uncertainty”

In what were perhaps the two biggest news stories of the past month, Hurricanes Irma and Harvey devastated the American south, disrupting local industry, destroying homes and critical infrastructure and dumping millions of gallons of raw sewage onto city streets – leading to the most destructive beginning to hurricane season in years. Meanwhile, cosmopolitan Yankees looked on in horror (with perhaps a touch of smugness) as they watched their southern neighbors being paddled out of flooded Texas homes by national guardsmen, or marooned in the seemingly endless lines of traffic snaking out of southern Florida, northeasterners now have their own storm to worry about.

And now, according to the National Weather Service, those same onlookers might be forced to endure similar hardships thanks to Hurricane Jose, already on its way to becoming a category one storm. Meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center say a wide stretch of the eastern and northeastern US, from Maryland up through Cape Cod, is within Jose’s five-day “cone of uncertainty” – meaning that a fully fledged hurricane could make landfall in or around New York City, potentially dealing another crushing blow to the city’s infrastructure after the city’s subway system has not yet finished repairing the damage from Superstorm Sandy, which took place five years ago.


11AM Update on Jose: Much of our area is now in the 5 day cone of uncertainty. Be prepared for potential impacts Tuesday/Wednesday.


Presently, the storm is headed northwest at 9 mph past North Carolina, and may bring one to two inches of rain to North Carolina’s Outer Banks on Monday, and heavier rains of two to four inches to Eastern Massachusetts beginning on Tuesday. The large waves from the storm could cause high surf and considerable beach erosion along the shores of the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts during this period, according to Weather Underground.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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