Extortion, corruption and fear; violence, hunger and sometimes even death: for west African migrants dreaming of reaching Europe, the road to get there can be an absolute minefield.DepartureWhether it’s The Gambia, Ivory Coast, Senegal or Nigeria, everything starts with the “hustlers” — slang for the middlemen or fixers who organise the trip. Their honesty and prices vary, with the would-be migrant usually deceived about the welcome expected in Europe.Many possess no official documents from their home country, and do not understand illegal status in Europe.Most are ignorant about the extreme difficulties they will encounter en route. “We didn’t know we were risking our lives,” said Kante Sekou, 27, who gave up upon reaching Libya.Hustlers demand between 200,000 to one million CFA francs (300-1,500 euros/$330-$1,660) per person for a journey they claim will end up in Europe, but which often goes no further than Agadez in central Niger, or Libya.Towards NigerDespite mounting pressure from Niamey to halt the flow of people heading to Europe, Niger remains a key route on the migrant trail.Even before getting there, migrants are often “ripped off” by unscrupulous police and customs officials.According to witnesses, those in Burkina Faso appear to be particularly greedy, with migrants speaking of being held in overflowing cells until they pay up.Once in Niger, officers also take small “commissions” at each roadblock. Bus companies have a tendency to group migrants and non-migrants in different vehicles, with officers tipped off about which to approach, a bus company source said.In 2016, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) observed around 335,000 migrants heading northwards out of Niger.But the numbers are unclear because the IOM only counts those crossing its own checkpoints.Agadez: a key crossroadsThis city in central Niger is a key crossroad, with routes through it leading to Libya and Algeria.However, with the increasing number of checks, several new routes have opened up from the southern city of Zinder, offering an eastern route to Libya, while others bypass Agadez to the west, leaving from the southwestern city of Dosso, people smugglers say.In Agadez, migrants are held in “ghettos” or “hostels” owned by the smugglers — these are usually simple plots surrounded by walls, which sometimes have a hut, where the migrants huddle under tarps as shade from the sun. Usually, there is no running water or electricity.Over the past few months, ghettos visible from the city centre have disappeared with people taken to homes in the suburbs. According to one fixer, that is the best way to avoid police controls and also means they can leave the city without travelling along main roads.Hustlers pick up migrants from bus stations in Agadez. Usually grouped by nationality, they have often run out of money by this stage, meaning the hustlers have to arrange extra funds through phone contact with their families.While waiting for departure, migrants live hand-to-mouth in precarious circumstances with men doing odd jobs and women sometimes resorting to prostitution.Sudden departureMigrants are not notified in advance about their departure. They are put in the back of 4×4 pick-up trucks which can carry up to 29 passengers with their legs dangling over the sides. Sticks are wedged between the luggage so passengers can hold on.To cope with the sand and heat, they must have on them a hat, gloves, sunglasses, a jacket and water. Since the police crackdown, departures tend to happen in the pre-dawn hours.A convoy is usually made up of three to five vehicles, with migrants sometimes transferred out of the city before being put into trucks in order to avoid roadblocks.A few months ago, passage to Libya cost up to 300,000 CFA francs but the crackdown has seen prices ballooning with the rate easily hitting 400,000 CFA francs and sometimes rising as high as a million, a local official said.Bandits in the desert”It’s 750 kilometres (460 miles) and three days’ drive to the border,” says one smuggler who refused to give his name. “We drive 24-7. We stop only to drink tea, five minutes for the restroom. I carry up to 26 people. We leave in a convoy, never alone.”We don’t stop because we are afraid of bandits and the police. The bandits are armed. They can hijack your vehicle and leave you in the desert. So it’s death,” he said.If there is an attack, “we try to hide the Thuraya (satellite phone) to bury it,” he said.”The bandits have people in town. When a car leaves the city, they inform them.”If soldiers stop them, everyone is brought back to the city and the cars are impounded.For the migrants, it is a difficult road. They have to hold on without falling, and be sparing with their food and water. Many throw up on the way and arrive at their destination exhausted.Some even die en route. Earlier this month, at least 44 people, among them women and babies, died of thirst after their vehicle broke down in the desert. “This desert is full of migrants’ bodies,” lamented Interior Minister Mohamed Bazoum.Libya: apocalyptic lawlessnessMost migrants returning from Libya describe an apocalyptic lawlessness with armed groups extorting and exploiting them, with many speaking of theft, kidnapping and torture. Others speak of being jailed in “private” prisons and only released when their families paid a ransom.Others speak of having to work for miserable wages or in slavery-like conditions. Even so, for most, Libya is an unavoidable stop for those hoping to catch a boat to Europe.
The cabinet on Monday approved in principle the draft of “the Chittagong Hill Tracts (Land Acquisition) Regulation (Amendment) Act, 2019”.It has proposed removal of disparity in compensation for land acquisition in the hills and the plain land.“An ordinance to this end was promulgated at the end of the previous (Awami League) government. . . It will now be turned into a law,” cabinet secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam told reporters after the maiden meeting of the new cabinet.Alam said earlier 15 per cent compensation was given for acquisition of land in the hills, while the amount was 300 percent in the case of plain land. The ordinance fixed 300 per cent compensation for land acquisition both in hill and plain land areas, he said.He said the cabinet also in principle gave final endorsement to the draft of “The Brick Making and Kiln Setting Up (Control) (Amendment), Act, 2018”.He said the cabinet earlier approved the law and it was promulgated as an ordinance.“The draft law was placed before the cabinet today as there is a legal obligation to submit it to the Jatiya Sangsad,” he said.The cabinet secretary said the cabinet also gave final approval to the draft of “The Jatiya Samajkalyan Parishad Act, 2018”.Jatiya Samajkalyan Parishad, he said, has been running since 1956 through a resolution and it was reconstituted in 1972.“The parishad (council) has been running through a government decision as there was no law to this effect. So a new law has been proposed to run the parishad smoothly,” he said.Under the proposed law, the cabinet secretary said, there will be an 84-member governing body of the council to be headed by the social welfare minister. The council will have to hold at least two meetings in a year, Alam said.The cabinet secretary said the cabinet approved the draft of the national Action Plan on the disabled people in the light of the ‘Persons with Disabilities Rights and Protection Act 2013’ and the ‘Persons with Disabilities Rights and Protection Rules 2015’.He said the law has been proposed to ensure the smooth accessibility of the persons with disabilities to the public transports and establishments like educational institutions, hospitals, bus, launch and rail stations, airports, land ports and river ports, cyclone shelters, cultural function venues, places of worships and flyovers.Replying to a question, Alam said the quota for the disabled people still exists in the government jobs. “The provision still exists there and it is yet to be curtailed,” he said, adding that any law cannot be superseded through an administrative order.Alam said the cabinet approved the draft speech of president Abdul Hamid for the inaugural session of the 11th Parliament, which will start on 30 January.The cabinet secretary said full speech will have some 75,000 words, which will be tabled in the House at the maiden session of the new parliament.But the president will read out the short version of his written speech having 6,000 words in parliament.The speech will focus on the country’s overall scenario including economic development and activities, the government’s measures taken to establish good governance, the activities taken for implementing the Vision 2021 and the Vision 2041, and the government’s measures and successes in improvement of the country’s socioeconomic status, he said.Alam said the cabinet okayed the draft of “The Bangladesh Industrial and Technical Assistance Center Act, 2018.He said at the outset of the meeting, the cabinet adopted an obituary reference at the death of former public administration minister, valiant freedom fighter and ex-Awami League general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam.“Syed Ashraf was a valiant freedom fighter and ideal politician and his death is an irreparable loss to the nation,” the cabinet secretary said, quoting the reference.
This combination of pictures created on 17 March shows a 13 March file photo of US president Donald Trump (L) at the White House in Washington, DC; and a 13 December 2017 file photo of US deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Photo AFPUS president Donald Trump faced a new challenge to his authority Friday after US media reported that his deputy attorney general had discussed ways to force him from office on grounds of incompetence, just months into his presidency.In the latest bombshell to rock the troubled administration, The New York Times and The Washington Post reported that Rod Rosenstein in May 2017 had suggested secretly recording Trump for evidence of White House dysfunction—and using that to formally remove him from power.Coming on the heels of an explosive book by respected White House chronicler Bob Woodward, the reports added to mounting evidence indicating that numerous people in Trump’s own government have serious doubts about his fitness for office—and have actively worked to undermine him.As the number two Justice Department official, Rosenstein oversees the probe into whether Trump’s 2016 election campaign colluded with Russians in defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton.The Time and Post reports were both based on secret memos by a former FBI director—which some speculated may have been leaked in order to undermine Rosenstein, and in turn the Russia special prosecutor Robert Mueller.Rosenstein branded the reports “inaccurate and factually incorrect.”“I never pursued or authorized recording the president and any suggestion that I have ever advocated for the removal of the president is absolutely false,” he added.And the Justice Department released a statement by a former senior official—who would not be identified—saying that he was “in the room” at the time and that Rosenstein was only joking.“The statement was sarcastic and was never discussed with any intention of recording a conversation with the president,” said the former official.Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr held up the reports as evidence of disloyalty among the president’s entourage.“Who are we kidding at this point?” he tweeted, above a link to the Times article. “No one is shocked that these guys would do anything in their power to undermine @realdonaldtrump.”Trump’s Republican ally Mike Huckabee meanwhile urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fire Rosenstein—or for Trump to fire them both if he refuses.Washington was convulsed this month by the release of Woodward’s book on the inner workings of the White House—which he described as mired in a perpetual “nervous breakdown” with staff battling to control an unstable president.Compounding Woodward’s account, The New York Times went on to publish an op-ed by an anonymous senior official—whose identity remains a mystery—claiming that select administration staff members are so alarmed by the president’s “erratic” and “amoral” behavior that they actively sabotage his most extreme policy efforts.“We believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic,” the writer said.Mueller probe threatened?The latest reports were based on private memos written by then-interim FBI director Andrew McCabe, summarizing discussions with Rosenstein.Because Rosenstein oversees the Russia probe, there was immediate speculation that the memos may have been leaked in order to damage Rosenstein, and by extension Mueller—more than to hurt Trump.Rosenstein appointed Mueller in May 2017 as the special counsel for the Russia investigation.After securing convictions of seven people associated with Trump, Mueller’s probe increasingly threatens the White House and the president himself.Trump has repeatedly pressured Rosenstein and Sessions to shut down what he calls an illegal “witch hunt.”The president did not respond specifically to the shock news reports, but at a political rally in Missouri late Friday he referred to “what’s being exposed at the Department of Justice and the FBI.”“You have some real bad ones. You see what’s happening at the FBI – they’re all gone, they’re all gone,” he said.“There’s a lingering stench and we’re going to get rid of that too,” Trump finished.Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, immediately sought to pre-empt any attempt to fire Rosenstein.“This story must not be used as a pretext for the corrupt purpose of firing Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein in order (to) install an official who will allow the president to interfere with the Special Counsel’s investigation,” Schumer said.The Times said Rosenstein made the comments in a particularly chaotic period, in the weeks right after he was appointed deputy attorney general.Rosenstein’s alleged allusion to the 25th amendment of the US Constitution, which provides for removing a president if they are judged unfit for office, came just after Trump fired FBI director James Comey—invoking a memo written by Rosenstein.According to the Times, Rosenstein was unhappy about being “used” by Trump in the firing of Comey, as well as concerned about other turmoil in the White House under the new president.
Kolkata: West Bengal Housing & Infrastructure Development Corporation (HIDCO) is exploring options for starting monorail services for easy and faster communication in areas of Salt lake and New Town that cannot be covered by Metro services.”We have already completed the feasibility study along with the cost evaluation for the project. We are now looking for investors,” HIDCO chairman Debasish Sen said on the sidelines of Kolkata regional dialogue on ‘Preparing for the Future of Urban Mobility’ organised by the Bengal Chamber and The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI). Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeAccording to HIDCO sources, the alignment for the monorail that has been created will start from Ultadanga station and will run through Sector I and Sector III in Salt Lake and will reach New Town. The total project cost has been estimated at Rs 4,500 crore.It may be mentioned that the two Metro projects — East West and Garia-Kolkata Airport Metros — work for which are going on in full swing will not be able to cover entire Salt Lake and New Town area. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killed”The monorail network will plug this gap,” a senior HIDCO official said.HIDCO is holding talks with start-up companies which can carry out real time analysis of CCTV footages to prevent accidents. The aim is to strengthen the ‘Safe Drive Save Life’ campaign initiative that was launched by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in July 2016. The state government has already done GIS mapping and have marked accident prone areas in New Town.Talking of various initiatives that have been taken in New Town, Sen said house owners have been given the nod to convert their ground floors into cafes by paying Rs 500 to the authorities.”A large number of people working in the IT sector, particularly women feel unsafe when they return home at night,” Sen said adding that this step will increase the sense of safety and security of the citizens.He also touched upon the introduction of three electric buses, 10 charging stations, dedicated cycle track, smart bus stations with outdoor gym equipment and a number of initiatives towards urban mobility in New Town.
Dubai brightens up the world with dazzling New Year’s Eve fireworksDubai brightens up the world with dazzling New Year’s Eve fireworks show by EmaarDubai has once again mesmerised the world with a magnificent New Year’s Eve fireworks spectacle by Emaar Properties, bidding farewell to 2016 and welcoming in 2017 in resplendent style. Thousands of spectators from all over the world joined the celebrations in Downtown Dubai , Emaar’s mega-development, centred around the iconic Burj Khalifa. The dazzling event reached billions through live television feeds and a real-time experience via Twitter Live Stream.Moments before the stroke of midnight, Downtown Dubai was enveloped in a blanket of darkness. Then to the sounds of a special musical composition by Dhabiwood Studios, played by more than 80 musicians and recorded in studios in Dubai and Cairo , the spectacle unfolded.A glittering falcon took flight in the night sky to announce the imminent arrival of the New Year, and the countdown commenced with a fascinating play of lights and laser, leading to the moment that the world waited for as Burj Khalifa glittered in the fireworks. New Year greetings in Arabic and English appeared on LED screens on Burj Khalifa.The celebrations that followed had no parallel. Across Downtown Dubai , fireworks, pyrotechnics, laser shows and LED displays in multiple hues created intricate motifs and patterns. Adding more magic was The Dubai Fountain, specially choreographed with water and fire.The best was yet to come. With all lights dimmed once again, the glittering falcon reappeared and took flight towards the newly opened Dubai Canal and from there, to the site of Dubai Creek Harbour. Fireworks and pyrotechnics followed, setting a brilliant continuum of lights from Burj Khalifa through the Dubai Canal to Dubai Creek Harbour, where the glorious architecture of The Tower, the city’s future icon being developed by Emaar, was simulated in lights and fireworks.Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar Properties, said: ” Dubai has charmed the world once again. This celebration is our message of positivity to the world, and our welcome to everyone to come, visit and live in our city. This magnificent display is also our salute to our leadership, our mark of gratitude for making Dubai such a great place to be as a result of their futuristic vision.” Source = Emaar Properties – PRNewswire
Important information about a strange website This website lets you invest in little-known $25 investment notes that pay interest rates as high as 28.99%. If you buy enough of them, you could collect thousands every month. Mark F. has already collected an extraordinary $53,539 over 6 months. Carl P. collected an incredible $67,419 over 14 months. And Isadore P. collected an unheard-of $226,080 over just 4 months They simply logged into a strange website and started on the path to collecting that income. Click here and find out how to access this website. The “picks and shovels” of the oil industry are bleeding cash… As regular readers know, the world has too much oil. In recent years, new technologies like “fracking” have unlocked billions of barrels of oil that were once impossible to extract. U.S. oil production has doubled since 2008 to its highest level since the 1970s. Global oil production is also near an all-time high. The massive oversupply has caused oil prices to crash. Oil has plunged 70% since June 2014. Two weeks ago, investment bank Morgan Stanley (MS) said the “oil price downturn is now deeper and longer than any of the previous downturns since 1970.” According to Morgan Stanley, oil is in “uncharted territory.” • Oil stocks have crashed… Exxon Mobil (XOM), the largest U.S. oil producer, has dropped 28% over the last 19 months. Chevron (CVX), the second largest, has dropped 38%. Schlumberger (SLB), the world’s largest oil services company, has plummeted 44%. Its sales have dropped four quarters in a row. Oil services companies sell equipment, including drill rigs, to oil companies. • Yesterday, Halliburton (HAL) reported a 42% decline in its fourth-quarter sales… Halliburton is the world’s second-largest oil services company. Like Schlumberger, its sales have declined four straight quarters. The company reported a net loss of $28 million last quarter. For comparison, it made a $901 million profit during the final quarter of 2014. Halliburton’s stock fell 3.0% on the news, and is now down 57% since June 2014. • 1,100 North American oil rigs have shut down in the past 16 months… According to oil services company Baker Hughes (BHI), the number of rigs actively pumping or looking for oil has plunged 68% since October 2014. With fewer rigs in service, oil producers are buying less equipment from companies like Halliburton and Schlumberger. • Halliburton has laid off 25% of its employees since the downturn began… That’s 22,000 workers in less than two years. The company laid off 4,000 workers last quarter alone. On Monday, Halliburton’s CEO warned that this year could be worse… 2016 is shaping up to be one tough slog through the mud and the industry is going to have to take it a quarter at a time. Bloomberg Business reports the global energy industry slashed $100 billion in spending and cut 250,000 jobs last year. On Thursday, energy news website FuelFix.com reported: The worst downturn in more than four decades likely will bring Big Oil earnings down by 30 percent to 70 percent this year and cut operating cash flows 10 percent to 15 percent, Morgan Stanley said. Oil and gas spending, the investment bank projected, will fall 34 percent from 2014 to 2017. • The oil industry is highly cyclical… It goes through booms and busts. Today, the industry is in its worst bust in decades. Eventually, this cycle will end with absurdly low prices for oil services stocks. We’ll get an opportunity to buy these companies at fire-sale prices. But for now, we recommend staying away while the world works through its oversupply of oil. Recommended Links Regards, Justin Spittler Delray Beach, Florida January 26, 2016 We want to hear from you. If you have a question or comment, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We read every email that comes in, and we’ll publish comments, questions, and answers that we think other readers will find useful. The #1 Currency for the “End of America” Today, most Americans know absolutely nothing about, let alone own, this incredibly valuable asset. This has nothing to do with gold coins, silver, collectibles, or real estate of any kind, yet it could be the single most important step you take to preserve your wealth. Click here to learn more. — But American Express is not finished. In fact, I bet the company will emerge stronger than ever. For reasons I explain in The Casey Report, plastic credit cards are going extinct. But the best credit card companies will survive. They own the customer relationship. They must evolve into digital payment companies. This is the future…and it’s a trillion dollar trend. Eventually, we’ll look back to study how this trillion dollar trend changed the credit card business. I bet we’ll see that a wounded American Express got up swinging and changed its industry forever. • While E.B. isn’t betting against Amex, he is betting against credit card terminals… In a recent Casey Report issue, E.B. recommended shorting (betting against) credit card terminal maker VeriFone Systems (PAY). VeriFone makes the terminals you swipe your credit card through at the store. As payments go digital, E.B. believes that credit card terminals will go extinct. Casey Report readers are currently up 24% on the VeriFone short. Every month, E.B. and Casey Research founder Doug Casey share their top investment ideas with Casey Report readers. This month, E.B. recommends buying three key companies that “feed the masses” in America. You can get in on these picks by taking a risk-free trial to The Casey Report. Chart of the Day Oil rigs are shutting down at a record pace… Today’s chart shows the number of oil rigs in North America currently pumping or looking for oil. As you can see, North America’s “active” rig count soared more than 500% from 2008 to 2014. But when oil prices crashed in 2014, many companies shut down their rigs. They couldn’t make money at low oil prices. There are 68% less active rigs today than there were in October 2015. Energy consulting company Wood Mackenzie estimates that $1.5 trillion worth of oil projects in North America can’t make money at $50 oil. With oil at $30 per barrel today, the value of money-losing projects has likely climbed past $2 trillion. The North American oil industry has about 1,100 oil rigs sitting idle today. If oil prices recover, oil companies can bring these rigs back online. That’s bad for oil services companies, like Schlumberger and Halliburton, which make money selling oil rigs to oil companies. • Credit card company American Express (AXP) reported bad results last week… Sales fell 7% from last year. It was the fourth consecutive quarter of shrinking sales. To offset falling sales and earnings, management plans to cut costs by $1 billion over the next two years. The stock is down 21% this year after falling 25% in 2015. E.B. Tucker, editor of The Casey Report, has been warning his readers about the “death of credit cards.” In short, E.B. believes that innovative new technologies like “digital wallets” will replace physical credit cards soon. Digital wallets are more convenient and more secure than credit cards. • However, E.B. expects American Express to survive. He explains why in this short essay… American Express (AXP) is under real pressure. It’s the kind of pressure that’s going to create tremendous change in the credit card business. You see weak companies, and people, crack under pressure. They can’t take it. American Express is not that kind of company. It’s a survivor. Over the last year, American Express lost the exclusive right to issue Costco’s (COST) in-store credit card. For years, Costco only accepted payment by cash, check, or American Express. Losing that status cost AmEx 8% of its entire customer spending. Worse…it lost 20% of outstanding credit card balances. Most credit card companies make money two ways. First, they take a percentage of every transaction from the retailer. This ranges from 1%-5%. American Express is known as being most expensive. Second, they charge customers a monthly interest rate, usually very high, on unpaid balances. American Express had a third way to make money. It calls cardholders “members” and charges them annual membership fees. Green, Gold, and Platinum define the levels and fees range from $100-$500 per year. Recently, the members aren’t seeing the benefit. What was once exclusive now seems standard. The company’s entire premise is under assault. As you can see in this chart its stock is down 26% over the last year. That compares to an 11% increase for competitor Visa (V). –
Not the Same AmericaThis is America, too… but it is not the same America. It is the New World… but not as new as the world north of the Rio Grande. Here, the Old World has not yet been snuffed out. It survives in a semitropical paradise.But the object of our attention today is neither the Old World nor the new one – but the ever-changing, never fully explored idea of America.“Proud to be an American,” says one bumper sticker. “One nation – indivisible,” says another. America was, of course, founded on the opposite principle… the idea that people were free to separate themselves from a parent government whenever they felt they had come of age. But no fraud, no matter how stupendous, is so obvious as to be detected by the average American. That is America’s great strength… or its most serious weakness.After September 11, so many people bought flags that the shops ran short. Old Glory festooned nearly every porch and bridge. Patriotism swelled in every heart.Europeans, coming back to the Old Country, reported that they had never seen anything like it. A Frenchman takes his country for granted. He is born into it, just as he is born into his religion. He may be proud of La Belle France the way he is proud of his cheese. But he is not fool enough to claim credit for either one. He just feels lucky to have them for his own.What Makes America Different?America, by contrast, is a nation of people who chose to become Americans. Even the oldest family tree in the New World has immigrants at its roots. And where did its government, its courts, its businesses, and its saloons come from?They were all invented by us. Having chosen the country… and made it what it is… Americans feel more responsibility for what it has become than the citizens of most other nations. And they take more pride in it, too.But what is it? What has it become? What makes America different from any other nation? Why should we care more about it than about, say, Lithuania or Chad?Pressed for an answer, most Americans would reply, “Because America is a free country.” What else can be said of the place? Its landmass is as varied as the earth itself. Inhabiting the sands of Tucson as well as the steppes of Alaska, Americans could as well be called a desert race as an arctic one. Recommended Link Recommended Link — EXPIRING TONIGHT, 11:59 P.M. Your VERY LAST CHANCE to Follow Legend Rick Rule on His Next Extraordinary Journey For weeks, people have been calling in, clamoring to learn how to invest alongside investing legend Rick Rule as he prepares his personal portfolio for his next massive windfall. There’s no denying – Rick has the “Midas Touch.” After 40 years and billions of dollars of success, he knows when a new moneymaking opportunity is imminent. That’s why he’s embarked on a “global treasure hunt,” quietly buying up amazing assets for pennies on the dollar… setting up special buy-ins… and investing tens of millions in these companies through his personal portfolio. And he agreed to let us share our favorites with you. It’s all detailed right here. But you need to see this now. Given the small size of these companies, participation is limited. So we have no choice but to shut this down TONIGHT at midnight sharp. Go here for details now, before it’s too late. [Urgent Announcement] Banking Insider Warns: “If you were born before 1969, you should move 20% of your savings here now.”More than 60,000 Americans are now following “Ronald Reagan’s Secret Retirement Income Plan,” and moving their money out of the traditional financial system into one little-known safe haven where wealth grows tax-free… This 100% legal “tax shelter” has proven – over 232 years – to protect and grow wealth in times of recession, depression, inflation, and even dollar weakness. Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and at least 52 other Washington officials have already moved a portion of their cash here… The big banks have already moved $143 billion here… and plan to move billions more. Now, you can find out all the details for FREE. Click here to claim your free starter kit. — Justin’s note: The markets and our offices are closed for the holiday. So for today’s Dispatch, we’re featuring a classic essay from Doug Casey’s longtime friend and colleague Bill Bonner…one that explores a timeless subject: What makes America unique?Below, Bill shines a light on the idea of America and considers whether the country has lived up to its founding principles…By Bill Bonner, chairman, Bonner & Partners“Elizabeth,” I asked this morning as my wife climbed out of the pool. “How would you describe that sea turtle we saw on the beach?”Pausing for a moment, she replied, “Rotating its slow and majestic flippers, it ground its way slowly and inexorably toward China…”The sea turtle was headed east. Whether China was its destination or not, I don’t know. I only know that it was about to leave the Latin America isthmus, from the west coast of Nicaragua, and put out to sea when a muscular, brown young man picked it up and carried it back up on the beach. He and his friends had dug a big hole in the sand where the turtle was placed.At night, we often see the dim light of flashlights along the beach. “It’s the locals looking for turtle eggs,” Manuel explained. “It’s illegal to take them, but…” Manuel shrugged his shoulders.Sea turtles are protected by international convention. But here in the wilds of Nicaragua, they still end up in the soup from time to time. Its religions are equally diverse – from moss-backed Episcopalians of the Virginia tidewater to the Holy Rollers of East Texas to the Muslims of East Harlem.Nor does blood itself give the country any mark of distinction. The individual American has more in common genetically with the people his people come from than with his fellow Americans. In a DNA test, your correspondent is more likely to be mistaken for an IRA hitman than a Baltimore drug dealer.America never was a nation in the usual sense of the word. Though there are plenty of exceptions – especially among the made-up nations of former European colonies – nations are usually composed of groups of people who share common blood, culture, and language.Americans mostly speak English. But they might just as well speak Spanish. And at the debut of the republic, the Founding Fathers narrowly avoided declaring German the official language… at least that is the legend.A Frenchman has to speak French. A German has to speak the language of the Vaterland. But an American could speak anything. And often does.Be What You Want to BeNor is there even a common history. The average immigrant didn’t arrive until the early 20th century. By then, America’s history was already three centuries old. The average citizen missed the whole thing.Neither blood, history, religion, language – what else is left? Only an idea: that you could come to America and be whatever you wanted to be. You might have been a bogtrotter in Ireland or a baron in Silesia; in America, you were free to become whatever you could make of yourself.“Give me liberty or give me death,” said Patrick Henry, raising the rhetorical stakes and praying no one would call him on it. Yet the average man at the time lived in near-perfect freedom.There were few books and few laws on them. And fewer people to enforce them. Henry, if he wanted to do so, could have merely crossed the Blue Ridge west of Charlottesville and never seen another government agent again.Taxation With RepresentationThomas Jefferson complained, in the Declaration of Independence, that Britain had “erected a multitude of New Offices, and set hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.”Yet the swarms of officers sent by King George III would have barely filled a midsize regional office of the IRS or city zoning department today.Likewise, the Founding Fathers kvetched about taxation without representation. But history has shown that representation only makes taxation worse. Kings, emperors, and tyrants must keep tax rates low… Otherwise, the people rise in rebellion.It is Democrats that really eat out the substance of the people: The illusion of self-government lets them get away with it. Tax rates were only an average of 3% under the tyranny of King George III. One of the blessings of democracy is average tax rates that are 10 times as high.“Americans today,” wrote Rose Wilder Lane in 1936, after the Lincoln administration had annihilated the principle of self-government… but before the Roosevelt team had finished its work, “are the most reckless and lawless of peoples… We are also the most imaginative, the most temperamental, the most infinitely varied.”But by the end of the 20th century, Americans were required to wear seat belts and ate low-fat yogurt without a gun to their heads. The recklessness seems to have been bred out of them. And the variety, too. North, south, east, and west, people all wear the same clothes and cherish the same decrepit ideas as if they were religious relics.And why not? It’s a free country.Regards,Bill Bonner,Chairman, Bonner & PartnersJustin’s note: Since its founding, America has weathered plenty of changes and come out the other side. But there is a new crisis brewing. And Bill says this one is different… The source of unrest today is not the free market, race, the 1%, or President Trump. It’s a truth about America no one wants to tell you. Learn more here…
May 21 2019Tungiasis is a neglected tropical disease caused by penetrated sand fleas which burrow into the skin of the feet. Public health policies such as sealing house and classroom floors and daily feet washing with soap could cut the number of tungiasis cases in school-aged children, researchers now report in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. Source:PLOSJournal reference:Elson, L. et al. (2019) Prevalence, intensity and risk factors of tungiasis in Kilifi County, Kenya II: Results from a school-based observational study. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0007326. A case of severe tungiasis. Credit: Lynne Elson, 2013, CC BY 4.0Tungiasis affects millions of people in South America, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa. The sand fleas responsible for tungiasis rapidly grow once in a human host, causing immense itching, inflammation, pain and debilitation. There are currently no good treatment methods available in affected areas, and people often use non-sterile methods to attempt to remove the fleas themselves, causing more damage. Awareness of tungiasis has been growing in East Africa in recent years, but data on epidemiological characteristics are scarce.In the new work, a group of scientists from KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya, the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), Charité University of Medicine, Berlin and Dabaso Tujengane Kenya, examined the feet of 1,829 students of all age groups from 5 schools in coastal Kenya. In one subset of participants, observations were repeated after a school holiday. Structured interviews were conducted with 707 students to get data on household infrastructure, behavior and socio-economic status.Related StoriesNew network for children and youth with special health care needs seeks to improve systems of careRepurposing a heart drug could increase survival rate of children with ependymomaDaily intake for phosphates in infants, children can exceed health guidance valuesThe overall prevalence of tungiasis was 48%, with boys between the ages of 10 and 14 years most at risk and factors related to socio-economic status positively associated with disease risk. Children returned from their school holiday with higher rates of infection. The data suggested that mild to moderate tungiasis could be reduced by a third, and severe tungiasis by more than half, if homes had sealed floors, while roughly a seventh of the cases could be prevented by sealing classroom floors and another fifth by using soap for daily feet washing. Observations from our study suggest that up to 70% of tungiasis cases may be prevented through simple prevention methods. There is a clear role for public health workers to expand the WASH policy to include washing of feet with soap in school-aged children to fight tungiasis and to raise awareness of the importance of sealed floors.”Dr. Lynne Elson, Lead Author
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 18 2019Vince Calhoun, Distinguished University Professor of Psychology at Georgia State University and director of the Center for Translational Research in Neuroimaging and Data Science (TReNDS), has received nearly $4 million from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Mental Health to develop new models that use brain imaging and genomic data to better predict mental health disorders.Most mood and psychosis disorders, such as schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder, lack biomarkers that healthcare experts can use for diagnosis. Psychiatrists can’t see evidence of depression, for example, on an X-ray or a blood test. Symptoms and contributing risk factors of mental health disorders are also highly variable and diverse. The disorders are influenced a number of interrelated genetic factors and environmental factors, such as stress.Related StoriesEffective stop smoking treatments less likely to be prescribed to people with mental health conditionsGoing teetotal shown to improve women’s mental healthParticipation in local food projects may have positive effect on healthAnalyzing a patient’s genetics and brain activity could provide a better mode of diagnosis. However, brain imaging data and genomic data are high dimensional, meaning the number of data points is so large it makes calculations very difficult, and include complex relationships that are poorly understood.Calhoun and his team plan to develop novel algorithms that can better capture dynamic brain imaging and genomics data, and apply those algorithms to study individuals with mood and psychosis disorders. The team will compare the accuracy of two approaches to mental health diagnosis–the standard diagnostic category approach, in which clinicians use a checklist of symptoms to assign a diagnosis, and a data-driven approach, in which experts analyze brain data to determine a diagnosis. They will also analyze the accuracy of a dimensional approach to diagnosis, which places patients along a spectrum based on the degree of symptoms. Calhoun is a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Brain Health & Image Analysis. He has brought a number of ongoing National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation grant awards to the university, totaling more than $18 million.TReNDS is a tri-institutional center supported by Georgia State, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University. The center is focused on making better use of complex brain imaging data through improved analysis, with a goal of identifying biomarkers that can help address brain health and disease.An abstract of the grant, 1R01MH118695-01A1, is available at the NIH Project RePORTer website. Source:Georgia State University Mood disorders and psychosis disorders are incredibly complex and variable, with a range of underlying causes. Two people may have the same diagnosis without sharing symptoms–or have the same symptoms with different diagnoses. There is also growing consensus that we should approach mental illness as a continuum, rather than slotting patients into an all-or-nothing category.”Vince Calhoun, Professor of Psychology, Georgia State University
Credit: iStock Our findings show that there are clear knowledge gaps among orthopedic surgeons for best practices for prescribing opioids that can and should be addressed. Evidence-based guidelines for opioid prescribing for specific procedures are also needed to curb overprescribing while still adequately treating pain.”Lead author Constance Monitto, M.D., assistant professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine and director of the pediatric acute pain service The researchers published their findings on June 22 in the Journal of Opioid Management.In the survey, researchers gauged responses to six scenarios routinely encountered by orthopedic surgeons. They found that although increased experience was associated with decreased prescribing, 95% of respondents recommended prescribing at least 55 oxycodone pills following five of the six surgeries described. That amounts to a nine-day supply of medication, more than current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (issued since the survey was conducted) that no more than a three- to seven-day supply routinely be prescribed. In addition, comparing this result with recent studies looking at opioid use after orthopedic surgery suggests that this number of doses was more than what is usually required to adequately treat post-operative pain.Related StoriesLoose double-stranded RNA molecules spur skin rejuvenationNew implant technology safely minimizes injections for people with macular degenerationEarly removal of some pancreatic cysts could decrease cancer risk, save livesThe study also found that 62% of respondents reported that they do not routinely use their state-sponsored electronic prescription drug-monitoring program, which can help flag when patients go “doctor shopping” for a new source of pills. Finally, 79% of respondents reported that they do not provide opioid disposal instructions to their patients, which researchers are concerned can lead to unused pills remaining in homes and potentially getting into the wrong hands. Monitto notes that since the time the study was performed, Johns Hopkins has created a committee to help establish prescribing guidelines specifically for routine surgical procedures, and an additional group is developing educational materials for patients on safe handling and disposal of medications. She says other hospitals and health care centers should follow suit in order to curb overprescribing and decrease the risk of patient harm. Source:Johns Hopkins Medicine Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 27 2019Orthopedic surgeons are the third-highest physician prescribers of opioids, writing more than 6 million prescriptions a year. Because over-dispensing of opioids is a factor contributing to the ongoing opioid epidemic, researchers at Johns Hopkins surveyed orthopedic providers to better understand what drives their prescribing practices and to identify gaps in knowledge and potentially worrisome trends. In their survey of 127 orthopedic providers in the Baltimore area, the Johns Hopkins researchers found that respondents frequently recommended prescribing a nine-day supply of around-the-clock oxycodone doses following commonly performed orthopedic surgeries. The researchers also found that risk factors that might normally warrant prescribing fewer opioids, such as a history of drug misuse or depression, often did not diminish hypothetical prescribing rates.