Thursday, June 24, 2021

Machine Learning For New Materials Design And Performance Testing

 mit  |  Materials called perovskites are widely heralded as a likely replacement for silicon as the material of choice for solar cells, but their greatest drawback is their tendency to degrade relatively rapidly. Over recent years, the usable lifetime of perovskite-based cells has gradually improved from minutes to months, but it still lags far behind the decades expected from silicon, the material currently used for virtually all commercial solar panels.

Now, an international interdisciplinary team led by MIT has come up with a new approach to narrowing the search for the best candidates for long-lasting perovskite formulations, out of a vast number of potential combinations. Already, their system has zeroed in on one composition that in the lab has improved on existing versions more than tenfold. Even under real-world conditions at full solar cell level, beyond just a small sample in a lab, this type of perovskite has performed three times better than the state-of-the-art formulations.

The findings appear in the journal Matter, in a paper by MIT research scientist Shijing Sun, MIT professors, Moungi Bawendi,  John Fisher, and Tonio Buonassisi, who is also a principal investigator at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), and 16 others from MIT, Germany, Singapore, Colorado, and New York.

Perovskites are a broad class of materials characterized by the way atoms are arranged in their layered crystal lattice. These layers, described by convention as A, B, and X, can each consist of a variety of different atoms or compounds. So, searching through the entire universe of such combinations to find the best candidates to meet specific goals — longevity, efficiency, manufacturability, and availability of source materials — is a slow and painstaking process, and largely one without any map for guidance.

“If you consider even just three elements, the most common ones in perovskites that people sub in and out are on the A site of the perovskite crystal structure,” which can each easily be varied by 1-percent increments in their relative composition, Buonassisi says. “The number of steps becomes just preposterous. It becomes very, very large” and thus impractical to search through systematically. Each step involves the complex synthesis process of creating a new material and then testing its degradation, which even under accelerated aging conditions is a time-consuming process.

The key to the team’s success is what they describe as a data fusion approach. This iterative method uses an automated system to guide the production and testing of a variety of formulations, then uses machine learning to go through the results of those tests, combined again with first-principles physical modeling, to guide the next round of experiments. The system keeps repeating that process, refining the results each time.

Buonassisi likes to compare the vast realm of possible compositions to an ocean, and he says most researchers have stayed very close to the shores of known formulations that have achieved high efficiencies, for example, by tinkering just slightly with those atomic configurations. However, “once in a while, somebody makes a mistake or has a stroke of genius and departs from that and lands somewhere else in composition space, and hey, it works better! A happy bit of serendipity, and then everybody moves over there” in their research. “But it's not usually a structured thought process.”

This new approach, he says, provides a way to explore far offshore areas in search of better properties, in a more systematic and efficient way. In their work so far, by synthesizing and testing less than 2 percent of the possible combinations among three components, the researchers were able to zero in on what seems to be the most durable formulation of a perovskite solar cell material found to date.

Machine Learning Aids Materials Fabrication

mit  |  In recent years, research efforts such as the Materials Genome Initiative and the Materials Project have produced a wealth of computational tools for designing new materials useful for a range of applications, from energy and electronics to aeronautics and civil engineering.

But developing processes for producing those materials has continued to depend on a combination of experience, intuition, and manual literature reviews.

A team of researchers at MIT, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and the University of California at Berkeley hope to close that materials-science automation gap, with a new artificial-intelligence system that would pore through research papers to deduce “recipes” for producing particular materials.

“Computational materials scientists have made a lot of progress in the ‘what’ to make — what material to design based on desired properties,” says Elsa Olivetti, the Atlantic Richfield Assistant Professor of Energy Studies in MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE). “But because of that success, the bottleneck has shifted to, ‘Okay, now how do I make it?’”

The researchers envision a database that contains materials recipes extracted from millions of papers. Scientists and engineers could enter the name of a target material and any other criteria — precursor materials, reaction conditions, fabrication processes — and pull up suggested recipes.

As a step toward realizing that vision, Olivetti and her colleagues have developed a machine-learning system that can analyze a research paper, deduce which of its paragraphs contain materials recipes, and classify the words in those paragraphs according to their roles within the recipes: names of target materials, numeric quantities, names of pieces of equipment, operating conditions, descriptive adjectives, and the like.

In a paper appearing in the latest issue of the journal Chemistry of Materials, they also demonstrate that a machine-learning system can analyze the extracted data to infer general characteristics of classes of materials — such as the different temperature ranges that their synthesis requires — or particular characteristics of individual materials — such as the different physical forms they will take when their fabrication conditions vary.

In 2021 - Engineering In Secret Amounts To Bone-In-The-Nose Engineering...,

ieee |  When your job involves working on sensitive information, products and projects, how do you talk about it, not just at work, but also at conferences, when mentoring or recruiting, or at dinner and social events?

“When information about what you are doing is privileged—classified—you can’t talk about it,” says Dennisa Thomas, senior surety systems engineer at Sandia National Laboratories “But you can talk about the general understanding or expertise you have gained from certain systems and materials projects, and how you can transfer that knowledge and those skills to other spaces.”

One definition of surety, according to Thomas, is “a level of confidence that a component or system will operate exactly as intended, both under expected and unexpected circumstances.” This includes not just Sandia’s mandate to keep the United States’ nuclear stockpiles safe, secure, and effective, but now also tackling complex national security problems including homeland security, transportation, energy, and cyber-, chemical and biological defense.

For example, reports Thomas—who has worked on hundreds of components and systems—“I worked with the team that put the first Sandia-designed telemetry transmitter into production. I’m currently working on qualifying two fusing/firing assemblies for production.”

Thomas got into surety “by picking opportunities,” she says. “North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NCA&T), where I got my B.S. in electrical engineering, has a large career fair twice a year.... During my first year, I was offered an internship with the NSA, where I learned about some of the communications systems and work they do for the military.

“And at another career fair, somebody from Sandia spoke with me, telling me about their Masters Fellowship Program, which gives graduating seniors a chance to attend graduate school to achieve their master’s degree in an area of focus that Sandia is interested in. I went to Florida State University for my M.S. in electrical and electronics engineering and then in 2015 came back to Sandia full time.”

Surety appealed to Thomas because “you get to see how the pieces and teams all fit together.” For those interested in the field, even outside government work, “Learn about failure analysis,” says Thomas. “For electrical engineering, math and science is a given. Having a strong foundation in circuit analysis and electronics is important. And statistics is important—if we can’t interpret the data that’s collected, it’s not as helpful.”

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Eric Weinstein Asked Joe Rogan For A Favor And Joe Happily Obliged...,

NOPE!!! Contagion And Anti-Prophylactic Delusions Of "Love" Utterly Disgust Me...,

daily.jstor |  Deriving from the Greek words for “before” and “guard,” prophylaxis refers to a variety of precautionary measures designed to predict and preempt a negative outcome, primarily in a medical context. Vaccines fortify the body against certain viruses; condoms and other prophylactic barriers can prevent pregnancy and the transmission of STIs; and routine screenings like mammograms and colonoscopies are designed to detect and neutralize issues in their early stages.

However, at the time that Fitzgerald wrote the lyrics quoted above, prophylaxis was most frequently invoked as an extension of eugenic ideology and practice. Marshalling the white supremacist science of “racial hygiene,” doctors became amateur sociologists recommending “prophylactic” solutions to social problems. These solutions included both “negative eugenics”—the institutionalization and forced sterilization of prostitutes, poor women, women of color, and disabled people—as well as “positive eugenics,” which attempted to increase the birthrate among white, upper middle class, nondisabled, and neurotypical families.

Consider, for example, these remarks by Dr. R.M. Funkhouser which link the science of preventative medicine to private decisions around romantic courtship. This advice appeared in a 1913 issue of the Journal of the Missouri State Medical Association just one year before Fitzgerald wrote “Love or Eugenics”:

The quality of human beings should count and not quantity. Is it not wiser and better that prophylaxis precede than wholesale destruction follow?… The general knowledge of the laws of heredity should be more largely disseminated and marriage should primarily depend on the desire to produce ‘worthy’ offspring with the best qualities.

To be clear, when Funkhouser weighs the benefits of “prophylaxis” against a future of “destruction,” the calamity he is referring to is the imagined contamination and degradation of white bloodlines. Prescriptions like these were echoed in countless medical publications of the period and strongly influenced both public policy and popular culture. The same year, the United States Surgeon General, Rupert Blue, advocated for the use of “eugenic marriage certificates,” which would certify the mental and physical health of both partners in advance of their wedding.

A eugenics marriage certificate

By the end of the decade in which Fitzgerald was writing, state fairs across the country would begin to hold “fitter families” contests, transforming these medical recommendations into a recreational pastime. Making an anxious spectacle of the usually unmarked category of whiteness, middle class families competed for “top honors” by undergoing a series of mental and physical evaluations designed to test their eugenic fitness. Winners were announced and ribbons were awarded—though any family that scored a B+ or higher was presented with a medal bearing the inscription, “Yea, I have a goodly heritage.”

Arguably, Fitzgerald is poking fun at practices like these; his lyrics appear to satirize prophylactic marriage and invite skepticism around the wisdom of applying the “laws of heredity” to mate selection. While Dr. Funkhouser would no doubt advocate choosing a “prophylactic dame” over “kisses that set your heart aflame,” the plot arc of the musical validates the opposite outcome as the charming Celeste wins out over the eugenically “fit” Clover.


No Concept Of Dopamine Addiction Or Dopamine Hegemony Constitutes A Crippling Conceptual Failure

caitlinjohnstone |  Humanity is becoming more conscious.

It is. This is not a popular thing to say in the more cynical and pessimistic corners of the internet, but it’s true.

I’m not referring to anything “out there” or “spiritual” when I make this assertion. I’m talking about a mundane reality that is easily verifiable by casual observation, if you just look past all the headlines and narrative chatter to see the big picture as a whole.

Humans are becoming more and more aware of what’s going on, both in our world and in ourselves, as our ability to network and share information with each other becomes greater and greater. Because of the ubiquitousness of smartphones and social media, things like police brutality and the abuse of Palestinians are no longer regarded as mere verbal assertions made by their victims but as concrete realities which must be addressed. The most viral posts of the day on apps like Twitter, Reddit and TikTok are routinely just people making relatable observations about their feelings and psychological tendencies and what it’s like to be human.

These things matter. Seeing into each other and around our world all the time like this, in a way we never could before the internet, can’t help but change things. It’s a consistent rule throughout history that every positive change in human behavior has been preceded by an expansion of consciousness, whether it’s becoming collectively conscious of the injustices of racial discrimination or individually conscious of the motives and consequences of our self-destructive behavior. Increasing consciousness is always a movement toward health.

And a movement toward health absolutely is what’s been happening. The young today are the kindest, most sensitive and most awake generation that has ever lived, no matter what the bitter old farts say about them. My kids are having conversations with their friends that are vastly deeper and more tuned-in than I was having with my own friends at their age. The independent content that people are creating without the authorization of the cultural filters in New York and Hollywood can take your breath away every single day if you know where to look, while the movies from the eighties which once enthralled us are today virtually unwatchable because of how shallow and artless they are compared to what we’re now used to seeing.

It’s happening in a weird, sloppy, awkward way, like an infant learning to walk, but it is clearly happening. It’s happening through an internet whose origins are rooted firmly in the US war machine, it’s happening through billionaire-owned social media platforms with extensive ties to powerful governments, it’s happening through technologies that are the fruits of all the most exploitative tendencies of global capitalism, but it’s happening.

Sloppy Toppy Prof. Of Globalization Ian Goldin Self-Glazes As Embarrassingly As Karl W. Smith...,

voxeu |   Despite the tragic deaths, suffering and sadness that it has caused, the pandemic could go down in history as the event that rescued humanity. It has created a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reset our lives and societies onto a sustainable path (Schwab and Malleret 2020, Zakaria 2020). Global surveys and protests have demonstrated the appetite for fresh thinking and a desire not to return to the pre-pandemic world. 

Rescue offers no guarantee of a better life, but it does make it possible. Like refugees whose rescue from a cataclysmic fate allows them to envisage a better future, we now have the potential to create a better world. First, though, we have to traverse a no-man’s-land; we are leaving the old pre-pandemic world but have not yet entered into a new one. This will naturally create anxiety and a desire to return to familiar territory. This is the greatest danger, and recalls the words of Jay Gatsby in Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby: “Can’t repeat the past? Why, of course you can!” Set in the Jazz Age of the Roaring Twenties, the depiction of the exuberance following from the devastating pandemic of 1918 and WWI could well be repeated, as the pent-up desire to socialise and spend creates a roaring 2020s. A century ago, that ended in tears, with the Great Depression, the rise of fascism and WWII.

Bouncing back is bad

In a recent book (Goldin 2021), I argue that that returning to ‘business as usual’, or ‘bouncing back’, means we would be heading in the same direction that brought us to the catastrophe we are in today. Other widely used expressions are similarly worrying. ‘Bouncing forward’ implies we are leaping ahead along the same tracks which lead over a precipice. A Great Reset, as called for by the World Economic Forum, or ‘reboot’, another popular phrase, can suggest that we should go back to what has already been programmed, when what is needed is a different operating system. ‘Building back better’ – the slogan used by the Biden–Harris presidential team – is more encouraging but still worrying; if there is one thing that Covid-19 has taught us, it is that our system is built on shaky foundations. Building back on unstable foundations guarantees future collapse. To prevent future pandemics, which could be much more deadly than Covid-19, and to stop catastrophic climate change and other crises, we need to change direction. Is this possible, and in what way?

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Which Is It Klaus - Major Population Reduction Or A New Type Of Slavery?

strategic culture |  With the UN World Food Program announcing that some 270 million people worldwide now face starvation, the ongoing debate about the real aims of the technocracy is profound. The question is whether their aim tends more towards major population reduction, or more towards a new type of slavery.

It appears that philosophical and long-term practical questions remain a mystery. We will argue that evil, not simply the influence of the base upon the superstructure, is at the core of this endeavor. We have defined evil as inflicting the highest degree of pain upon the greatest number of resisting subjects. In short, we have defined evil as sadism, inflicting evil because it brings satisfaction to those inflicting it.

Because evil is fundamentally a destructive force, it cannot create anything: nothing in it is truly novel nor of use to humanity. Its pleasures are short-lived and spurious. It is unsustainable, self-defeating, ultimately leading to self-destruction.

We have adequately assessed from any number of sources that nefarious interests are behind this process, who seek to make the process also about the exercise of power, in addition to several other aims (remaining in power, exercising power in ways consistent with their occult beliefs about evil, etc.). We understand that they are ‘evil’ because they involve a type of ‘power-over’ (as opposed to power-with/consent) which derives this power from fear-mongering and terrorism upon the population. Terrorism here is defined as the operationalized use of fear, pain, and other injury towards socio-political aims.

Had their plans not been rooted in evil, they would have used soft-power tactics like manufacturing consent, to arrive at their ends.

The aim of the Great Reset is to transition the ruling plutocratic oligarchy into a technocratic one. The basis of plutocracy is finance, and the introduction of AI and automation eliminates the basis for finance as the foundation of an economy of scale. This is because automation and deflation move in tandem, making new technologies net losers. Therefore a new paradigm accounting for this post-financial ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, must be introduced.

These Are About To Be Some Exceptionally Interesting Times...,

theeconomiccollapseblog |  Over the past couple of years we have become accustomed to expecting the unexpected, but soon we many have to start anticipating the unthinkable.  In this article, I am going to be discussing a couple of potential scenarios that would have been unimaginable to the vast majority of Americans just a few short years ago.  Unfortunately, our world is now changing at a pace that is absolutely breathtaking, and many things that were once “unimaginable” could soon become reality.

Let’s start by talking about the record-setting heat wave which is making the epic megadrought in the western half of the country even worse.  Many western farmers planted crops this year hoping that weather conditions would eventually turn in their favor, but that has definitely not happened.  In fact, at this point 88 percent of the West is experiencing at least some level of drought.

2021 has been the worst year of this multi-year megadrought so far, and last week was the worst week for this drought up to this point in 2021.  Old temperature records were shattered all over the West, and some areas were already seeing triple digits by 8 o’clock in the morning

The West is in the midst of a record-breaking heat wave this week, as all-time records were shattered and daily records broken in over a dozen states.

Even by desert standards, the heat wave in the Southwest is atypical. On Thursday, the National Weather Service in Tucson tweeted that the city recorded a temperature of 100 degrees at 8:14 a.m., the second earliest time in the day recorded since 1948.

That is crazy.

Can you imagine hitting triple digits before you have even finished your morning coffee?

Summer had not even officially begun yet last week, and yet new all-time record highs were being established all over the place

Record-breaking temperatures spread from California to Montana this week. On thursday, the all-time high temperature was tied in Palm Springs, California at 123 degrees, breaking the previous June record of 122 degrees.

Salt Lake City tied its all-time record high of 107 degrees. The old record was notably set in July — when temperatures are usually at their highest for the year in that region. This comes after daily record highs were broken Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in Salt Lake, each with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees.

We have never seen anything quite like this in the state of Utah.

More than half of the state is in the highest level of drought, and thanks to dramatic water restrictions farmers are being forced to choose which of their crops will die

With drastic limits placed on what little water he has, Tom Favero said he and many farmers along this west side of Weber County were forced to watch some crops die. “We’ve all made serious choices of what fields we can water and what we can’t,” Favero said.

Another Utah farmer that lost a lot of corn and an entire field of barley said that it really “hurts” to see his hard work go to waste…

Farmer Dean Martini pointed at one of his fields. “That corn there, where I can’t water, I don’t have the water. It makes me sick to see it go to heck like that.”

With limits on amount and time, he said there wasn’t enough water flowing to make it across his fields. While some of the corn dried up, he had to let a whole field of barley go too. “It hurts buddy. That hurts,” Martini said.

Of course this is just the beginning.

If this summer is as hot and as dry as they are projecting, we could see catastrophic crop failures all across the West.

And that is really bad news, because the state of California alone produces more than a third of our vegetables and about two-thirds of our fruits and nuts.

A few years ago, hardly anyone would have imagined that we would be facing a crisis of this magnitude in 2021, but here we are.  Paleoclimatologist Kathleen Johnson is quite “worried” about what will happen this summer, and she is warning that this drought is shaping up to be the worst the region has experienced “in at least 1,200 years”

I’m worried about this summer – this doesn’t bode well, in terms of what we can expect with wildfire and the worsening drought. This current drought is potentially on track to become the worst that we’ve seen in at least 1,200 years.

Now I would like to shift gears.

It Makes Me Ashamed And Sad That A Kneegrow Wrote This Isht...,

bloomberg  |  Rising real-estate prices are stoking fears that homeownership, long considered a core component of the American dream, is slipping out of reach for low- and moderate-income Americans. That may be so — but a nation of renters is not something to fear. In fact, it’s the opposite.

The numbers paint a stark picture. After peaking at 69% in 2004, the homeownership rate fell every year until 2016, when it was 64.3% — its lowest level since the Census Bureau started keeping track in 1984. The rate rebounded in Donald Trump’s presidency, hitting 66% in 2020, but that trend is likely to be arrested by a housing market that is desperately short on supply and seeing month-over-month price increases greater than they were in the frenzied market of 2006.

This process is painful, but it’s not all bad. Slowly but surely, most Americans’ single biggest asset — their home — is becoming more liquid. Call it the liquefaction of the U.S. housing market.

Even in the best markets, single-family homes have historically been an extremely illiquid asset. Appraisals have to be made on an individual basis, and mispriced homes can sit on the market for months waiting for a potential buyer — only for that buyer’s financing to fall through.


Liquid assets, like publicly traded stocks and corporate bonds, earn what’s known as a liquidity premium: Their market price is many times the dividend or coupon that investors get from holding them. The more liquid an asset, the higher that premium goes. On the flip side, those same high-flying stocks and bonds can see their prices collapse when investors get spooked and withdraw their cash from the market.

Houses have typically traded with very little liquidity premium. That meant a relatively low purchase price compared to what it would cost to rent — the equivalent of the dividend from housing investment — and stable prices over time.

These two factors made houses a good investment for moderate-income families who often lacked the cash and the risk tolerance for market investments. As investments went, single-family homes were cheap and slowly grew in value in both good times and bad.

In the early 21st century, automated appraisals and mortgage underwriting began to change that. Combined with the repackaging of subprime loans into presumably safer CDOs, they created a far more liquid market for housing. In response, housing prices soared — and became more sensitive to the vagaries of the markets. When investors pulled out of CDOs, buyer financing dried up and the whole housing market crashed.

It may have seemed at the time like a failed experiment. But financialization had changed the housing market forever. Houses are now more prone to be priced high relative to rents, and to see their prices fluctuate with the market. The very features that made home buying an affordable and stable investment are coming to an end.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Kwestin The Corporate World Food System And You Might Be A Terrorist...,

gpenewsdocs  |  FRIES: Pat, from farmers and fishers groups, to cooperatives and unions, the Long Food Movement calls on civil society and social movements to unite and collaborate. This as a forceful counter position to an agribusiness-led transformation of the food systems. Your report Transforming Food Systems by 2045 maps out what this kind of ground up collaboration could achieve. So, as the title suggests you are looking decades ahead. What was the impetus behind that?

MOONEY: Well we back in 2016, in fact, we began to talk about the need for a strategy that was not so short-term as it has always been. That it can’t just be are two or three years of thinking. We need to be thinking further down the road. And we were expressing our general frustration, many of us in civil society, that we’re always trapped into these cycles of funding which is so short that we really can’t do the horizon scanning that’s important. So we talked about, well, let’s build something different.

Let’s try to see if we can imagine not just what we would like to have down the road but how we would get to it. We all have the same kind of dreams of the way we’d like to see the world be. But can we really get there? Can we politically practically do it? So the exercise of the Long Food Movement was to not just dream of what we want but really do the politics of it. You know, what’s really viable in terms of moving institutions, moving money around to get where we want to be.

FRIES: The Long Food Movement is for decentralizing control and democratizing food systems as the key to feeding the world as well as (re)generating ecological and other systems vital to people and planet. You say achieving that will require policy frameworks at every level of governance – from local law to international agreements –that support and empower small holder and peasant farmers all over the world. Talk about policy frameworks that have moved in the opposite direction by supporting and empowering agribusiness. And the role of agribusiness in getting governments to make those policy choices. For example, what did agribusiness want and get from government say back in the days when biotechnology was the then new technology?

MOONEY: Back in the even the late seventies and the eighties agribusiness was saying, we have a technology here biotechnology, genetically modified crops, which will feed the 500 million, at that time there are 500 million malnourished people in the world. That would solve that problem. They would take care of that and that they had the only tools that would actually be able to do it. They said that they needed some help to do it though.

They needed three things basically. They needed government regulators to get out of the way; give them the freedom to act as they wanted to. Secondly, they needed to be able to be given regulation, a certain kind of regulation, intellectual property rights over life, over plants and livestock so that they would own it. And so no bad regulations but the regulations they wanted which give them more corporate power. And then thirdly, they needed to turn the public sector researchers in agriculture into basically servants for the private sector. So do the basic work for us and we’ll do the rest.

FRIES: Just to clarify the third point about what agribusiness wanted was to turn public sector agricultural researchers into servants for the private sector, so this was to get the sort of research they wanted. In other words, research that advanced the interests of high-input, chemical intensive agriculture and that eventually will feed into profits for the main agribusiness players. So, pro-GMO research.

MOONEY: The Green Revolution sort of research we’ve been hearing about for ever. And all the developments coming out of universities and government research stations around the world for agriculture as well. The research money in the public sector goes into again support services for the private sector, basic research for the private sector.

FRIES: What were some real world consequences of this policy framework that agribusiness wanted and got? Take one example, I am thinking here of corporate concentration in food systems. What happened there?

MOONEY: Well, we went from roughly 7,000 private sector seed companies in the world when I first got into this work in the seventies, to where we now have really what, five or six at the most. In many ways, it’s really only three or four companies that really control all of commercial production of seeds and pesticides together. So it’s vastly concentrated compared to what it was.

FRIES: So there’s been a lot of corporate takeover and buyout activity.

MOONEY: Yeah. On a massive scale. I mean, it’s been a huge convergence. Really it started in the seventies and it’s kept on going. It hasn’t stopped. It’s transforming itself. Who’s doing the converging has been changing over time. When I was first dealing with this, the biggest seed company in the world was Royal Dutch Shell. They bought more than a hundred seed companies and they thought they were going to be big in the market. They decided they couldn’t do it after awhile. Then they got out of it and more conventional crop chemical companies took over and bought the seed companies. Now, of course, we’re seeing a new development where it’s the big data companies that are moving in and taking over large sectors of the food system.

FRIES: And you think there is more to come. That this trend shows no signs of slowing down.

MOONEY: It’s coming because again the industrial food chain is changing. It’s no longer the chain with all the links in it that we used to have. Seeds used to be sold and owned separately from pesticides and from fertilizers. And farm machinery companies were stuck in the business of producing tractors. The traders and the Cargills of the world and the processors and the retailers were all different folks. With big data management and the ability to manipulate, not just digital information but also to manipulate digital DNA to actually adjust, technologically computer-wise adjust living materials makes it possible for the biggest companies with the biggest computers to step in and really try to govern the large chunks of the food chain.

So seeds and pesticides have become one basically with the farm machinery companies and the fertilizer companies. They could actually just become one big input sector. The grain trading companies are kind of lost in this whole exercise. They’re not quite sure that they’ve got anything that anyone else wants anymore. The processors and the retailers are coming together more. And the big data managers behind all of that, the Amazons and the Alibabas of the world, the Googles and Tencents of the world, whether it’s China or Germany or the United States are saying: well, we can actually manage that better than anybody else can. So you get Alibaba advising peasant producers in China on how to grow pigs and gardens as well as how to market their products, as well as setting them up for retail sales in the stores.

Why Did Youtube Curb Stomp Bret Weinstein?

Dr Pierre Kory (MD) and Dr Bret Weinstein (PhD) from Once Upon A Time In Brooklyn on Vimeo.

taibbi  |   TK: Jon Stewart made the lab-leak hypothesis mainstream last week. You were one of the first media figures to try to bring attention in that direction. What was the response when you raised your own concerns, and what's your reaction now, given the way that discussion has suddenly become permissible?

Weinstein: The lessons of the lab leak are many. Of course, those of us who could see that the official narrative was wildly inconsistent with the evidence were aggressively stigmatized. Many were driven to self silence. And the official narrative could easily have held, causing dissenters to be recorded in history as cranks. This is standard for such a situation. Unfortunately, there is no appetite for extrapolating from the lab leak to other COVID questions. Today Tony Fauci announced a multi-billion dollar initiative to search for new drugs to treat COVID, and Carl Zimmer dutifully reported the story with excitement in the NYT, even as the revelations about Fauci’s apparent corruption and responsibility continue to surface. There was no mention of the danger implied in new drugs and EUAs. The idea of repurposed drugs doing the job safely and cheaply is elided with the baseless assertion that a search for useful existing drugs was essentially fruitless. There is simply no update to the public’s trust in authority based on the lessons of the lab leak, no recognition that officials are often mistaken, or lying or both.

And that’s the core of the problem with YouTube’s policy. Official consensus has been frequently laughable in the context of Covid, often with deadly consequences. If ever there was a moment for scientific generalists to help their audience understand the evidence, this is it.

Consider this bizarre fact. In Sept. 2020, Politifact “fact checked” the lab leak hypothesis and declared it a “pants on fire lie.” Politifact was forced to walk that conclusion back in May 2021. My flow chart had a lab leak at almost 90% as of April 2020. In June of 2021 Politifact “fact checked” the assertion (made on the DarkHorse Podcast by Dr. Robert Malone, inventor of mRNA vaccine technology) that “spike protein is cytotoxic.” They declared it false. How did they end up the arbiter of factual authority in this case? Shouldn’t the presumption be with Dr. Malone, and with DarkHorse?

TK: Don't tech companies and health officials have a responsibility to try to prevent dangerous speech during an emergency like a pandemic? Do you feel that any discussion on a topic like this should be allowed, or do you believe there should be a minimal factual standard? What's the proper way to regulate this dilemma in your opinion?

Weinstein: I don’t think it works this way. Once you create the right to shut down speech for the good of the public, that tool becomes a target of capture and true speech is silenced. Furthermore, humans are stuck with the fact that heterodoxy exists at the fringe with the cranks. No one has a way to sort one from the other, except in retrospect. So if you regulate the cranks out of existence, you also shut down meaningful progress. The price of that is incalculable. Heather had a great piece on this published recently (What If We’re Wrong? In the on-line magazine Areo).

TK: Even if there are serious risks to your business, do you intend to stop talking about the subject? 

Of course not. Lives are on the line. Too many have been lost already. This is an absolute moral obligation. That doesn’t mean we won’t pick battles strategically, but even loss of our channels is acceptable if the madness surrounding COVID treatment and prevention can be stopped. 

Why Didn't Youtube Censor Jon Stewart's WuFlu Hypothesis?

tomluongo  |  Now Stewart comes out at this moment to pull his schtick on Colbert’s show to rally the libs to the whole WuFlu, “China Did It To Us” Narrative The Davos Crowd is pushing on us now?  

If you squint hard enough you can see where they missed editing out the puppet strings in the video feed.

They’ve pulled out the John Stewart card to convince the squishy Millennials that China is our enemy.  Google will now whitewash all references to Ft. Detrick, their October 2019 exercises and all the rest of it.  Remember, Millennials, in general, don’t know anything.  They just Google shit and think they’re informed.  

John Stewart is the foundation on which their basic lack of inquisition is built on while at the same time telling them they are cynical and informed.  That’s why the cognitive dissonance over this was so thorough.  They now have to side with the evil Republicans and Trumptards over the ‘China Virus’ because John Stewart told them so.  

It’s as predictable as it is pathetic.  

I don’t want to go off on a rant here, but it’s clear that Davos is burning bridges left and right, they are accelerating their plans and calling in all the markers.  They are burning their accumulated political capital very quickly because they now realize they have a little more than a year to do all the damage they are going to do.

There will be political surprises all across Europe this year and next.  By the time they are done the Democrats will look like Labour in the UK, a brittle shell of a party built on equal parts envy and smarm, and the Republicans, guided by Trump, will return to power with a vengeance we’ve never experienced in U.S. politics.  It will not be pretty.  

And if John Stewart had any effect the other day he will be one of the reasons why this plan will work. If it doesn’t work then James Cameron better stop working on those Avatar sequels and begin development of Titanic 2: Zombie Boogaflu.

Then again, by the time it comes out it’ll be more Ken Burns than Kurosawa anyway.

Because the goal of this little theatrical display is nothing less than the reunification of the broken American electorate. Both Left and Right, animated by the virus of American exceptionalism, will need someone to blame for the tragedies of today and the hardships of tomorrow.

That’s the script anyhow. It’s what passes for good writing these days in Commie-wood.

If Chinese Premier Xi Jinping is smart he will not take advantage of the paralysis and vacuum at the top of the U.S. political system as led by the Olden Girls and make a move on Taiwan.  He should just do nothing and let Davos’ plans to get the two countries to fight fall flat.  That would honestly be the best possible outcome at this point.  

The good news is Stewart’s curtain call was a bit too much needle scratch and not enough Honest Injun. The bad news is that most of the people he was targeting can’t tell the difference.

And even if they do see through his schtick that just leaves us even more angry and divided than before while Nancy Pelosi forces struggle sessions over Juneteenth in Congress, organizing election fraud in Georgia may get Stacey Abrams the Nobel Peace Prize and the government is trying to make the X-Files a documentary.

Ah, fuck it, who wants pie?!

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Dopamine Hits For A Population Wracked By Technologically Mediated Addiction...,

technologyreview |  The implant was fine; it was me that was unpaired. I’d fallen out of sync with the city, and I hated it for taking people away from me and leaving me on my own. 

It’s safest to stay indoors: stay home. It’s the only way you can avoid the awkwardness, the disappointment, the fear. Delete Netflix and Uber Eats, install Prime Video and Amazon Restaurants. Stay at home and build your own city, make your own dopamine map. What’s the point of being lonely if you can’t do it by yourself?

At first, I tried to watch only movies set in New York, as though that had some significance. So the Avengers movies seemed a good place to start. I thought maybe watching the city being repeatedly reduced to rubble at a whim—endless computer-generated buildings demolished into nothing more than Technicolor pixel dust—might give me the hits I needed. But the app barely registered a spike for the first two hours and 22 minutes.

It wasn’t until I got to the post-credits scene—the one where the whole team is sitting around, silently eating, in some nameless, unaffiliated NYC shawarma joint—that my phone started to vibrate.

I’m not going to lie: for a fleeting moment I was ecstatic. I couldn’t tell you if it was just the dopamine spike or some joyful relief that the app had actually registered it. I rewound the scene and watched it again. Same spike, but with a slightly lower peak, according to the app. Third time was similar, but the results diminished again. Time to find more content.

At first I thought I’d have to watch whole movies for it to have the same impact—like I needed to build up some sense of connection with or investment in the characters before their friendships had any personal weight—and started earnestly slogging through the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But a YouTube fluke showed me otherwise. Before I could stop it, autoplay served me a clip from Ant-Man and the Wasp where Ant-Man is playing with his daughter, and my phone vibrated in my lap. Repeatedly. It was a fucking revelation. I didn’t even have to sit through countless rubble-cities and the eternal melodrama and the endless wisecracking and the infinite polygons. Context was dead: all that mattered was fleeting, calculated emotional spikes. 

It’s not hard to find the content once you know where to look. Listicles are your guide—the real maps to dopamine city are called things like “The 10 Most Heartwarming Moments in the MCU” or “The MCU’s 12 Best Friendships” or “Relive These Feel-Good Moments from the MCU.” Start by searching Tumblr and Screen Rant and you’ll find them all. It’s even better and more efficient if they give you the time stamps. Tony and James sniping at each other in Iron Man (00:10:42). Nick Fury buddy-copping with Carol in Captain Marvel (01:48:07). Peter Parker and Ned Leeds in whichever Spider-Man movie that was (00:23:38).

And then there’s the death scenes, which are perfect if you’ve also got some unresolved societal-level mourning to work through. When Killmonger dies in Black Panther. When Quicksilver dies in Age of Ultron. Spider-Man in Infinity War. Peggy in Winter Soldier. When Groot says “We are Groot” in Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

After a while, of course, you don’t need to search it out; it finds you. Before too long, every ad on every web page was screaming at me about young-adult-oriented TV shows I never knew existed and Star Wars spin-off cartoons. My YouTube recommendations filled up with nothing but fan-edited compilations of superheroes weeping, or supercuts of every time Frodo and Sam hugged. 

There was this whole culture I’d avoided, that I thought I was somehow above, that wasn’t for me. An entire industry built to serve up comforting dopamine hits to a population wracked by technologically mediated loneliness, and exhausted by a society that felt like it was in constant, confusing collapse.



Caitlin Johnstone's Egoic Consciousness Is An Imprecise Reference To Dopamine Hegemony

caitlinjohnstone |  In a society that's enslaved to egoic consciousness as ours is, the things that generate the most public interest will be those which flatter or infuriate common egoic constructs. This is not unique to politics; advertisers have raked in vast fortunes by associating products with common cultural mind viruses like body image issues and personal inadequacy, and TV show hosts like Jerry Springer and Maury Povich figured out decades ago that you can attract massive ratings by letting people feel smug and superior at the sight of poor and uneducated guests acting out emotionally.

To make something go viral, it needs to appeal to the ego. Advertisers understand this. Media executives understand this. Propagandists understand this.

Creating big psychological identity structures out of our politics makes the job of the propagandists so very much easier; it's like a lubricant which lets mass-scale psyops glide smoothly into public consciousness. From there it's a very easy task to get people hating Russia or China for this or that partisan reason, or to get people believing Trump or Biden are helping the American people despite their both continuing and expanding the same murderous and oppressive status quo of their predecessors. 

This is why the partisan divide is the most heated and contentious it's ever been, while the actual behavior of each mainstream party when it's in power brings in only the most superficial of changes. The oligarchs who own the political/media class desire the continuation of the status quo upon which they have built their empire, but they also want to keep the public as plugged in as possible to the partisan perspectives which facilitate the propaganda that cages our minds.

The solution to this, on an individual level, is to dismantle any egoic attachment you might have to either of the mainstream political factions which preserve the status quo. This includes any attachment to the phony populism of progressive Democrats, and it includes any attachment to the phony populism of Trumpian Republicans. These factions within the mainstream factions are themselves propaganda constructs which will never be permitted to advance any agenda that isn't desired by the oligarchic empire; they serve only to keep people who would be inclined to reject mainstream politics plugged in to mainstream politics. 

And of course the ultimate solution to this problem is for humanity to awaken from the ego. All propaganda relies on egoic hooks in public consciousness to circulate itself, so if humanity begins dropping its habit of creating psychological identity structures altogether (which it looks like it might), we will become harder and harder to propagandize. Since humanity's collective problems ultimately boil down to the fact that sociopaths manipulate our minds at mass scale, such a transformation would make a healthy new world not just possible but inevitable.


A Startup For Measuring And Monitoring Dopamine Addiction And Hegemony

bloomberg |  Over the next few weeks, a company called Kernel will begin sending dozens of customers across the U.S. a $50,000 helmet that can, crudely speaking, read their mind. Weighing a couple of pounds each, the helmets contain nests of sensors and other electronics that measure and analyze a brain’s electrical impulses and blood flow at the speed of thought, providing a window into how the organ responds to the world. The basic technology has been around for years, but it’s usually found in room-size machines that can cost millions of dollars and require patients to sit still in a clinical setting.

The promise of a leagues-more-affordable technology that anyone can wear and walk around with is, well, mind-bending. Excited researchers anticipate using the helmets to gain insight into brain aging, mental disorders, concussions, strokes, and the mechanics behind previously metaphysical experiences such as meditation and psychedelic trips. “To make progress on all the fronts that we need to as a society, we have to bring the brain online,” says Bryan Johnson, who’s spent more than five years and raised about $110 million—half of it his own money—to develop the helmets.

Johnson is the chief executive officer of Kernel, a startup that’s trying to build and sell thousands, or even millions, of lightweight, relatively inexpensive helmets that have the oomph and precision needed for what neuroscientists, computer scientists, and electrical engineers have been trying to do for years: peer through the human skull outside of university or government labs. In what must be some kind of record for rejection, 228 investors passed on Johnson’s sales pitch, and the CEO, who made a fortune from his previous company in the payments industry, almost zeroed out his bank account last year to keep Kernel running. “We were two weeks away from missing payroll,” he says. Although Kernel’s tech still has much to prove, successful demonstrations, conducted shortly before Covid-19 spilled across the globe, convinced some of Johnson’s doubters that he has a shot at fulfilling his ambitions.

A core element of Johnson’s pitch is “Know thyself,” a phrase that harks back to ancient Greece, underscoring how little we’ve learned about our head since Plato. Scientists have built all manner of tests and machines to measure our heart, blood, and even DNA, but brain tests remain rare and expensive, sharply limiting our data on the organ that most defines us. “If you went to a cardiologist and they asked you how your heart feels, you would think they are crazy,” Johnson says. “You would ask them to measure your blood pressure and your cholesterol and all of that.”

The first Kernel helmets are headed to brain research institutions and, perhaps less nobly, companies that want to harness insights about how people think to shape their products. (Christof Koch, chief scientist at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, calls Kernel’s devices “revolutionary.”) By 2030, Johnson says, he wants to bring down the price to the smartphone range and put a helmet in every American household—which starts to sound as if he’s pitching a panacea. The helmets, he says, will allow people to finally take their mental health seriously, to get along better, to examine the mental effects of the pandemic and even the root causes of American political polarization. If the Biden administration wanted to fund such research, Johnson says, he’d be more than happy to sell the feds a million helmets and get started: “Let’s do the largest brain study in history and try to unify ourselves and get back to a steady state.”

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Americans Have Dehumanized One Another To Death...,

eudaeminiaandcompany |   In American life, everything, so much as can be, is private. Almost nothing is public. You go from your big house to your big car to your big sofa and you sit in front of your big TV. Back and forth to and from work you go this way. You barely need to speak to another person at all — except in the way of a commodity. The market mediates all human relationships, more or less — even romantic ones, now, which are brokered by algorithms, and reduced to raw sexuality. Everyone is a commodity.

That sounds like the stuff my favourite teenage punk bands would say. But they were right, the more I think about it. What does it mean when commodified relations are the only ones left in a society?

Well, people grow estranged. From each other. They don’t see each other as fellow travellers anymore, fellow citizens, husbands, mothers, fathers, grandparents…anything.

So what are they? They’re rivals. Adversaries. For what, in what? In a series of games. I shouldn’t call them games, though, because the stakes are very real. One game is played at work — Americans compete for “jobs,” in “jobs,” ferociously. They work famously long hours and get little to no real rest or succour. Why? Because, of course, everything is attached to the “job” — healthcare, retirement, childcare, etcetera. I put it in quotes because the only real point of this is to make billionaires richer — Americans are right where they were in economic terms half a century ago.

Americans are rivals for work, which makes them adversaries for basic resources — money, medicine, food, shelter. And they’re also rivals and adversaries for status. Big cars, big houses, big TVs. Americans are told that status and power are all that count in life, apart from money — and they obey this dictum weirdly mindlessly. They preen on Instagram and spend their money on shinier and bigger and faster things, and go ever deeper into debt. They don’t really regard each other as neighbours, friends, colleagues. They’re rivals in these zero-sum games: for basic resources, by way of production, and then for social status, by way of consumption.

This is a strange story of individualism and materialism run amok, gone haywire, pushed to the extreme. American life is so alienating because, above all, it’s hyper-individualistic. Like I said, you can go a day — a week — without ever talking to another living soul as anything other than a commodity. That is because you are never sharing anything with anybody, something as simple as public space.

Americans famously deny each other healthcare — while carrying guns to Starbucks. Mass shootings are weekly if not daily events. America’s legendary cruelty and hostility isn’t a fiction. And neither is the idea that at its heart is an materialism and individualism gone haywire. Everything is private — that’s a statistical fact, about 85% of America’s economy is private, and just 15% public.

That’s a recipe for selfishness that goes off the charts. When everything is private, and so little public, it’s not just that you don’t rub elbows with anyone else, except as a commodity — and well, commodities are disposable. It’s also that a kind of enmity takes over. You’ve got your big house and big car and big TV. And now you have to keep it. The world becomes a threat, to the hyper individualistic, hyper materialistic personality — and sharing anything with anyone, which is vulnerability, becomes a liability.


MUCH More Impressed With Abigail Disney Than I Am With Myself!!!

theatlantic |  When you come into money as I did—young, scared, and not very savvy about the world—you are taught certain precepts as though they are gospel: Never spend the “corpus” (also known as the capital) you were left. Steward your assets to leave even more to your children, and then teach them to do the same. And finally, use every tool at your disposal within the law, especially through estate planning, to keep as much of that money as possible out of the hands of government bureaucrats who will only misuse it.

If you are raised in a deeply conservative family like my own, you are taught some extra bits of doctrine: Philanthropy is good, but too much of it is unseemly and performative. Marry people “of your own class” to save yourself from the complexity and conflict that come with a broad gulf in income, assets, and, therefore, power. And, as one of my uncles said to me during the Reagan administration, it’s best to leave the important decision making to people who are “successful,” rather than in the pitiable hands of those who aren't.

I took far too long to look with clarity upon these precepts and see them for what they are: blueprints for dynastic wealth. Why it took me so long is a fair question. All I know is that if you are a fish, it is hard to describe water, much less to ask if water is necessary, ethical, and structured the way it ought to be. As long as no one so much as raised an eyebrow about the ethics of the CRAT, the CRUT, and the credit swap, who did I think I was to query the fundamentals? I did not have the emotional courage to go down that path.

There was another reason for my inaction, and I am deeply ashamed to say what it was. But here goes: Having money—a lot of money—is very, very nice. It’s damn hard to resist the seductions of what money buys you. I’ve never been much of a materialist, but I have wallowed in the less concrete privileges that come with a trust fund, such as time, control, security, attention, power, and choice. The fact is, this is pretty standard software that comes with the hardware of a human body.

As time has passed, I have realized that the dynamics of wealth are similar to the dynamics of addiction. The more you have, the more you need. Whereas once a single beer was enough to achieve a feeling of calm, now you find that you can’t stop at six. Likewise, if you move up from coach to business to first class, you won’t want to go back to coach. And once you’ve flown private, wild horses will never drag you through a public airport terminal again.

Comforts, once gained, become necessities. And if enough of those comforts become necessities, you eventually peel yourself away from any kind of common feeling with the rest of humanity.

I tell you all this not to defend myself; that’s between me and my conscience. I am telling you this because human nature is a mighty force, and fighting it requires understanding it.

What has caused me to question my indoctrination has been ethics.

Davos Is Dead And I Have Embraced Islam...,

FT  |   Felix Marquardt, a former global schmoozer and current author of The New Nomads, explains why attempting to solve the world’s problems up a Magic Mountain in Switzerland over the course of a few short days, is a quick fix that does more harm than good. 

 A few weeks ago, the World Economic Forum (WEF) pulled the plug on its gathering in Singapore in August. The reasons invoked by the organisers for this third cancellation (plans for an alternative, exceptional meeting in Lucerne in May were also scrapped earlier this year) centred around health concerns and logistics. The truth is more complex and the malaise runs deeper. 

The pandemic has exposed the contradictions of the WEF as a project and its terminal lack of legitimacy and credibility in the post-Covid era. My inkling as an addict in recovery, is that the organisers are unable to come to terms with this because, just like others in the throes of active addiction, they are in denial. 

 I used to be a senior adviser to a number of global leaders and a Davos cheerleader. I also used to do a lot of drugs. I had my last drink and drug seven years ago. At the height of my substance abuse, I thought I couldn’t possibly be an alcoholic or an addict. Addicts were people shooting up on park benches or sucking on glass pipes in crack houses. I was flying around the world in business class, living in five star palaces, working for heads of state (including dictators), people running for office (including aspiring dictators) and CEOs of some of the world’s largest multinationals. 

A few years into recovery, I came to a different realisation: I had flourished in Davos and in other global circles of power not in spite of my being an addict, but in no small part because I was one. The high which proximity with power, fame and wealth fuelled in me wasn’t that different from the high I felt when I did drugs. So what do my experiences say about others in the WEF circus? 

The pandemic has sparked a global existential crisis in many of us, including pillars of the Davos establishment. It has been about recognising, belatedly, that what we’ve been calling “normal” is a form of civilisational suicide. Many of us are coming to terms with the fact that we don’t know how to decorrelate greenhouse gas emissions from economic growth and that the phrase green growth is, for now and the foreseeable future, an oxymoron. In a world where about 50 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions are produced by the 10 per cent wealthiest humans — those of us who earned not millions but $38,000 or more in 2015 — the climate crisis is fundamentally an inequality crisis. 

Yet from its inception, the WEF has hence been engaged in an exercise of contortion to not have a meaningful conversation on growth. It has since then been paid hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars (governed by Swiss law, the finances of the WEF are frighteningly opaque) by entities whose shareholders are eager to avoid it. If we have indeed become addicted to carbon, growth and extraction, the techno-utopian verbiage which has become the lingua franca of Davos has become a liability. 

The author Lewis Hyde once wrote that the spread of alcoholism happens when a culture is dying. A healthy, functioning culture turns its children into grown-ups. Addicts in contrast are defined by Jung’s characterisation of the puer aeternus. That prism of addiction helps explain our culture’s childish “solutionism”. Like addicts in recovery who get a daily reprieve but are never “cured”, what we are dealing with are predicaments not problems. Problems, like the equations schoolchildren are asked to solve, have solutions. In contrast, you can respond to predicaments in a more or less constructive and healthy way but they cannot be solved. You have to live with them. 

The current, dominant, “feelgood” approach mirrors that of an addict, in recovery but secretly hoping that they will one day be able to “manage” their substance use. The Davos crowd seek quick fixes, takeaways, action points and deliverables, rather than dwelling on the thoroughly uncomfortable reality of our condition, for fear of going into depression or becoming paralysed by inertia. The sooner that is ditched, the better. “The highest form of hope,” the French author George Bernanos once wrote, “is despair overcome.” But to overcome it, you first need to go through the despair. You need to hit rock bottom.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Meanwhile: America's 50 Largest Inherited Wealth Dynasties Became Permanent and Invincible...,

commondreams |  A new report from the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) finds that the U.S. continues to suffer from the extreme and growing wealth and power of inherited-wealth family dynasties – and the growth of their extreme wealth accelerated during the pandemic. 

The report, “Silver Spoon Oligarchs: How America’s 50 Largest Inherited-Wealth Dynasties Accelerate Inequality,” tracked the 50 wealthiest families from 1983 to 2020 using data from Forbes. IPS researchers found that by 2020, the 50 families had amassed $1.2 trillion in assets. For the 27 families on the Forbes 400 list in 1983, their combined wealth had grown by 1,007 percent and for the five wealthiest dynastic families, their wealth increased by a median 2,484 percent during 37 years. The Walton family led the pack with an increase of 4,320 percent, while the Mars candy family saw its wealth increase 3,517 percent.

“When we focus on the surging fortunes of first-generation billionaires – and their shocking tax avoidance – we forget to look at the troubling growth of dynastic families and the changes in tax policies that will enable the children of today’s billionaires to become tomorrow’s oligarchs,” said Chuck Collins, co-author of the report and author of the new book, The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Pay Millions to Hide Trillions

“In a healthy democratic society with a functioning tax system, wealth disperses over decades as people have children, pay their taxes, and give to charity.  But with a weak tax system on wealth – as confirmed by the recent leak showing low billionaire taxes – we are now seeing wealth accelerate over generations, leading to consolidated wealth and power,” he said.

The report finds that inherited wealth dynasties are growing due to an inadequate tax system, excessive hiding of wealth in dynasty trusts, and low charitable giving by multi-generational wealth dynasties. It also finds that members of the inherited wealth generation are using their wealth and power to rig the rules to get more wealth and power. Some are even using their charitable donations and political giving to press for lower taxes.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • Dynastic wealth grows much faster than the wealth of ordinary families. The 27 families who were on the Forbes 400 list in 1983 had a median increase in their net worth, adjusted for inflation, of 904 percent over those 37 years. In contrast, between 1989 and 2019—the most recent year available—the wealth of the typical family in the U.S. increased by just 93 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars.

  • The wealth of the very top grew even faster. The five wealthiest dynastic families in the US have seen their wealth increase by a median 2,484 percent from 1983 to 2020. For example:

    • In 1983, Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and his children were worth just $2.15 billion (or $5.6 billion in 2020 dollars). By the end of 2020, Walton’s descendants had a combined net worth of over $247 billion, an inflation-adjusted increase of 4,320 percent.

    • The Mars candy dynasty has seen its wealth increase 3,517 percent over the past 37 years, from $2.6 billion in 1983 (in 2020 dollars) to $94 billion by 2020. The Mars family also stands out for the miniscule amount of money they have stored in family foundations—$48 million as of 2018—in contrast to the large sums they have spent on public policy advocacy to change tax laws. 

    • Cosmetics magnate Estée Lauder and her descendants have seen their wealth grow from just $1.6 billion in 1983 (in 2020 dollars) to $40 billion in 2020. This is a growth rate of 2,465 percent. A hefty portion of that growth has come in just the past five years: the Lauder family’s assets have grown 119 percent since 2015, for an average growth rate of 16.9 percent each year.

  • Dynastic wealth is persistent and consolidating. Of the 20 wealthiest families on the list in 2020, 13 were already in the top 20 in 1983. Only 4 of the top 20 wealth dynasties are new to the list since 1983.

  • Wealth for dynastic families has grown significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, the top 10 families on the Forbes dynasty list have had a median growth in their net worth of 25 percent.

  • Dynastically wealthy families wield a great deal of political power, and use it to further their interests. The report profiles dynastic family members who spend millions lobbying for favorable tax, labor, and trade policies, give to candidates, campaigns and PACs, serve on policy advisory boards; and even serve in government themselves. For example, members of the Busch, Mars, Koch, and Walton families have together spent more than $120 million over the past ten years on lobbying directly for tax, labor, and trade policies favorable to their businesses and investments.

  • Dynastic families exploit their philanthropic power too, through charities and foundations. The report examined more than 248 foundations set up by the top 50 families, housing more than $51 billion in assets. While many move much-needed revenue to broader public interest charities, others fund groups working to reduce taxes on the wealthy and roll back regulations that constrain corporate profits. Some funnel millions to donor-advised funds, which can fund dark-money political advocacy. And in a few cases, family members have used them to compensate themselves.

The report profiles all of the 50 families, including the Waltons, the Kochs, the Mars family, and many others, some well-known and some relatively unknown. The report explains the dangers from the extreme consolidation of dynastic wealth and power.

The Collapse Crime Epidemic Has Only Just Begun

cbsnews  |  Even as the nation rebounds from the coronavirus pandemic, more than 2 million homeowners are behind on their mortgages and risk being forced out of their homes in a matter of weeks, a new Harvard University housing report warns.

Most of the homeowners at risk of foreclosure are either low-income or families of color, said researchers who published the 2021 State of the Nation's Housing report. Congress has dedicated $10 billion to help homeowners get caught up on payments, but it's unclear if that funding will make it to families before mortgage companies begin sending out foreclosure notices, researchers say.

Separately, millions more renters are "on the brink of eviction," the Harvard researchers found. Census data show that 6 million households are still behind on rent and could face eviction at the end of June, when federal eviction protections expire. 

The Center for Disease Control order halting some evictions, and federal liminations on foreclosures for federally-backed housing, both expire on June 30. Housing advocates have pushed for the Biden administration to extend both, but there is no indication an extension will happen.

"With so many renters in financial distress, there are concerns about an impending wave of evictions," the Harvard report said.

More than 7 million homeowners took advantage of the foreclosure moratorium passed as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act last spring. The provision was later extended by the Biden White House. As of March 2021, most of those homeowners have started repaying lenders and some are even up to date with their lenders. But that leaves about 2.1 million still behind on their mortgages, researchers said.

American Cities Face A Collapse Crime Epidemic

NYTimes |  Most city leaders, eager to rejuvenate downtown economies, have lifted coronavirus restrictions. But rising violent crime has kept both residents and tourists at home.

Mayors of American cities have yearned for the moment they could usher in a return to normalcy, casting away coronavirus restrictions on bars, restaurants, parties and public gatherings.

Yet now, even with reopenings underway across the United States as the pandemic recedes, city leaders must contend with another crisis: a crime wave with no signs of ending.

They are cheerleading the return of office workers to downtowns and encouraging tourists to visit, eager to rejuvenate the economy and build public confidence. But they are also frantically trying to quell a surge of homicides, assaults and carjackings that began during the pandemic and has cast a chill over the recovery.

In Austin, Texas, for example, 14 people were injured early Saturday morning in a mass shooting as revelers jammed a popular downtown nightlife district.

Some city officials have touted progressive strategies focused on community policing in neighborhoods where trust between police officers and residents has frayed. Others have deployed more traditional tactics like increasing surveillance cameras in troubled areas and enforcing curfews in city parks to clear out crowds, as the police did in Washington Square Park in Manhattan in recent days.

In Chicago, which fully reopened on Friday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot made clear that her focus was on reducing violence over the summer, and that her administration would focus resources on 15 high-crime pockets of the city as part of that effort.

“We owe it to all of our residents, in every neighborhood, to bring peace and vibrancy back,” Ms. Lightfoot said.