The Present is Female
January 14, 2020
The things which have the greatest value in use have frequently little or no value in exchange; on the contrary, those which have the greatest value in exchange have frequently little or no value in use. Nothing is more useful than water: but it will purchase scarcely anything; scarcely anything can be had in exchange for it. A diamond, on the contrary, has scarcely any use-value; but a very great quantity of other goods may frequently be had in exchange for it.” – Adam Smith
Living In A Mad Max Movie
The most valuable naturally occurring commodity in the world isn’t ore — it’s water. It’s fundamental to all life on Earth. The human body is estimated to require a minimum of 3.2 quarts of water each day, just to replace that which is lost through normal activities. Sanitation and hygiene needs boost that minimum to 13.2 gallons per person, per day. Access to clean drinking water is a basic human right, yet many societies struggle to provide their citizens with safe and reliable local water supplies. The costs to these societies is significant in terms of health costs, lost economic productivity, and human suffering.
The necessity of water is precisely what makes it so exploitable, and explains the decades-long process of global water privatization. In much of South Asia and parts of the Middle East, South America and sub-Saharan Africa, ineffectual public sector utilities and decaying infrastructure have given rise to private water tanker businesses. These men and their water hauling trucks sometimes prevent entire cities from running dry. Without them millions of households wouldn’t have sufficient water to cook, clean, wash or drink. One businessman who owns six trucks in Kathmandu’s Jorpati district knows this well: “The city depends on us. There would be disaster if we didn’t do our work.”
This sounds altruistic, but in reality greedy tanker kingpins often over-exploit water-resources, jeopardize the environment, bribe public officials, and gouge the most vulnerable. Tanker water in Nepal is about 40 times more expensive than pipeline water. But as the earth warms, droughts increase, water becomes scarcer and populations continue to grow, the tanker industry is just one part of the private sector that stands to profit.
If It Ain’t Broke, Only Focus On It And Nothing Else
- Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro makes sure to preserve the quality of life for his political and military elite backers in Caracas. Residents have regular supplies of electricity and gasoline, and shops burst with imported goods, while large swaths of the rest of the country are forsaken.
- In many places outside the capital, basic government functions like policing, road maintenance, health care and public utilities have been abandoned.
- A political analyst in Caracas explains: “Venezuela is broken as a state, as a country. The few available resources are invested in the capital to protect the seat of power, creating a ministate amid the collapse.” (NYT)
Ezra Acayan via Getty Images
- The Taal Volcano, on the island of Luzon, is located about 37 miles south of the Philippines capital of Manila. One of the country’s most active and dangerous, the volcano erupted Sunday, spewing ash nine miles into the air and prompting authorities to call for a “total evacuation” of millions of people residing near the capital.
- Authorities raised the alert level to four, meaning an “explosive eruption” could happen in the coming hours or days. In explosive eruptions, magma is fragmented and violently expelled from the volcano, as opposed to thick lava oozing out. But one expert said: “The ash is what will kill you, not the lava. The ash flow from an exploding volcano can travel hundreds of kilometers an hour.”
- Other threats include deadly toxic gases emitted from the eruption, and mud flows caused by ash mixing with water vapor in the atmosphere. (CNN)
- A couple got married in the Philippines while a volcano erupted in the background (CNN)
Additional World News
- Independence Day: UK’s queen agrees grandson Harry, wife Meghan can exit senior royal role (Reuters)
- Journalists quit Iranian state broadcaster over crash cover-up (Guardian)
- UN draft plan sets 2030 target to avert Earth’s sixth mass extinction (Guardian)
- Why Is Air Pollution So Harmful? DNA May Hold the Answer (NYT, $)
- Man Admits To Murdering Investigative Journalist, A Crime That Rocked Slovakia (NPR)
- Malta gets a new prime minister amid scandal over the killing of a journalist (CNN)
- Iran’s Only Female Olympic Medalist Says She Has Defected (NPR)
- Scientists use stem cells from frogs to build first living robots (Guardian)
- Russians Hacked Ukrainian Gas Company at Center of Impeachment (NYT, $)
- Have you heard of Yousician? It’s a startup based in Helsinki that’s making learning to play an instrument fun, convenient, and affordable. Their apps have been downloaded over 100 million times and teach you guitar, piano, bass, ukulele, or even singing.
- The service combines expertly taught video lessons with technology that uses your device’s microphone to listen to you play and gives you real-time feedback. And with a customizable curriculum, the app can be used by beginners and advanced players alike.
- This January, Yousician is offering Daily Pnut readers an extended free trial to try their Premium+ app free.
“We Are Doing It” – Rosie The Newly Employed Riveter
- For only the second time in history women now outnumber men on US payrolls, according to Friday’s report from the Labor Department. Of the 145,000 jobs employers added in December, 95 percent went to women. (The count of payroll workers excludes both farmers and the self-employed, categories men still dominate.) The growing number of women on company payrolls reflects a continuing evolution away from male-dominated industries like mining and manufacturing toward the service side of the economy, where women have an edge.
- A senior fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government said the US is likely to keep adding jobs faster in industries where women have traditionally played an outsize role. That could be a factor keeping wage gains in check, since women often work in lower-wage industries, and they tend to earn less than men.
- “If we’re adding most of our jobs at the low end of the pay scale, we’re not getting much upward pressure on wages,” she said. “And that’s I think why wages have been so frustratingly low in this recovery.” Despite unemployment being at a 50-year low, average wages rose just 2.9 percent over the past year. (NPR)
- Alcohol Deaths Have Risen Sharply, Particularly Among Women (NYT, $)
- I’ll Share My Salary Information if You Share Yours (NYT, $)
Additional USA News
- Warren says Sanders told her no woman could beat Trump in 2020 (Guardian) & The escalating conflict between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, explained (Vox) & ‘It means you’re going to lose’: Bernie Sanders answers Trump on rise in polls (Guardian)
- Cory Booker drops out of 2020 race and promises to ‘carry this fight forward’ (Guardian)
- U.S. Officials: More Than 20 Saudi Students To Be Expelled In Wake Of Fla. Shooting (NPR)
- US Attorney General Bill Barr Asked Apple To Unlock The Pensacola Shooter’s iPhones. Apple Said No. (Buzzfeed News)
- US states move to stop prisons charging inmates for reading and video calls (Guardian)
I See Great Fortune In My Future
- The world of psychics and fortune telling has a history riddled with fraud, crime, and exploitation. Psychic scammers follow a simple pattern – find their prey, take their money, move on. In some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars are taken from unsuspecting individuals, who simply wished to protect their families and futures.
- Some specialist detectives have taken it upon themselves to seek out criminal psychics and bring them to justice. However, even if a criminal psychic is found, there is often little repercussion outside of jail time, after which they could simply restart their scam-based business.
- “Without proper deterrents, vulnerable people will continue to get scammed and bad actors in the industry will continue to profit, their criminal cases garnering little more than voyeuristic curiosity and should-have-known-better shrugs from the public.”
- In some cases, criminal psychics drive customers into financial ruin, taking everything they have and leaving them to reap the consequences – sometimes with no legal repercussions to speak of.
- My journey into the dark, hypnotic world of a millennial guru (Guardian)
- Apparently this item has sold out? What a world we live in: Why is Gwyneth Paltrow selling a candle that smells like her vagina? (Guardian)
- The New York Public Library Has Calculated Its Most Checked-Out Books Of All Time (NPR)
- Sex machine: prolific Galápagos tortoise saves his species (Guardian)
- There are at least 4 different ways of aging, scientists say (NBC)
- Why the game of Life used to have poverty, suicide, and ruin (Vox)
- Yusaku Maezawa: Japanese billionaire seeks ‘life partner’ for Moon voyage (BBC)
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” – Maya Angelou
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