Yuan Cryptocurrency To Rule Them All
September 30, 2020
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- “Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming” — David Bowie
- “If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free. If our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed.” — Edmund Burke
Yuan Cryptocurrency To Rule Them All (Niphon via Getty Images) In the battle for international supremacy between the United States and China, money rules everything. As the world’s two largest economies jockey for power in the 21st century, winning the currency war will likely decide who comes out on top. In Act 1 of this geopolitical monetary matchup, the American dollar resoundingly defeated the Chinese Yuan. It has served as the world’s primary reserve currency since its modern inception in 1914. But as COVID-19 thrusts the world into an era of cashless transactions, some experts predict that Chinese cryptocurrency is poised to overtake the American dollar before the end of the century. Chinese national Chandler Guo was an early pioneer in the popularization of cryptocurrency. In 2014, he went all-in on a project to mine for Bitcoin, relying on massive computers and power provided from a local Chinese hydroelectric station to produce the currency he believed would one day replace the dollar. At the peak of his operation, Guo was capable of mining 30% of the world’s bitcoin. But now, the prescient crypto-pundit sees a different future for digital currencies. It’s not Bitcoin. It’s not the dollar. It’s a new payment system created by the Chinese state — known as Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP). Despite the fancy name, it’s essentially just a digital version of the yuan. And Guo predicts it will soon dominate the global economy. “One day everyone in the world will be using DCEP,” he says. DCEP — like Bitcoin — uses blockchain technology, which serves as a digitized ledger that records all of the network’s transactions. In practice, blockchain technology can untether users from banks and allow them to make decentralized transactions. However, critics of DCEP fear that the new cryptocurrency will tether all of its users to the Chinese Government, allowing them to monitor spending and maintain surveillance over their citizens. “DCEP is the antithesis of Bitcoin. The ultimate goal of a cryptocurrency is the separation of money and state,” says Stewart Mackenzie, a Hong Kong based cryptocurrency expert. “It’s easy for them to say that it’s like Bitcoin when it’s worlds apart.” Regardless of these fears, Guo sees DCEP’s ascension into global markets as inevitable. “DCEP will be successful because there are a lot of Chinese people living outside of China – there are 39 million Chinese living outside of the country,” Guo says. “If they have a connection with China they will use the DCEP. They can make DCEP become an international currency.” The Chinese government plans to roll out DCEP before the end of the year. Beijing crypto-analyst Linghao Bao speculates this move comes as an attempt to divert attention away from Libra, Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency project. “It’s hard to predict the timeline but the People’s Bank of China is under a lot of pressure to accelerate the development because they do not want to be in a world where Libra becomes the global currency, which they think is worse than the current global financial system controlled by the US.” (BBC)
A Shot in the Dark
- As Americans patiently wait for trials to produce a safe and effective COVID-19 solution, more than half of the country remains resistant to the idea of ever injecting themselves with a government-approved vaccine. The same cannot be said for China, who is blazing ahead with a plan to inject thousands of citizens with unproven vaccinations.
- First, these risky inoculations were limited to workers at state-owned companies, government officials, and vaccine company staff. Now, Chinese officials are expanding the injection program to include teachers, supermarket workers, and citizens traveling abroad — a move that has left has baffled global health experts. No other country has dared push a vaccine onto its people outside of the official drug trial process at this pace and scale.
- Most trials around the world remain in Stage 3, which means that recipients of the vaccine are being closely monitored for any adverse reactions. However, as China gives those same doses to its own citizens, it is unknown whether similar precautions are taking place.
- The ethical issues surrounding these rushed vaccinations are compounded when one considers patient consent. Some health experts speculate that people may feel as if they have no choice but to accept the inoculation, in fear of losing their jobs. Employees of state-owned companies are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement after they receive the injection, which prevents them from speaking with the media in the aftermath.
- “I think this is our country feeling us out,” said Tao Lina, a vaccine expert in Shanghai. “That is to say, even without an epidemic, everyone should consider the possibility of a resurgence and weigh whether they want to get a shot or not.” (NYT)
- A word to the wise: make sure you check a country’s defamation laws before you leave a scathing review on TripAdvisor. This lesson comes to us from Thailand, where an American man now faces up to two years in prison for leaving a negative review of a Thai hotel for the world to see.
- After complaining to the manager of the Sea View Koh Chang resort about a $15 corkage fee — incurred for bringing his own bottle of gin into the hotel restaurant — Wesley Barnes decided to leave some choice words for the establishment in an online post. In a series of rants, he accused the resort of “modern day slavery.”
- Desperate to save their reputation and unable to reach the disgruntled American, resort management filed a complaint with Thai police under the country’s harsh defamation law. Wesley Barnes was arrested soon after and forced to spend the weekend in jail. He is currently out on bail, but an October court date could see him return to the prison for up to two years, all for a distasteful post on TripAdvisor.
- Thailand has long been criticized for their strict defamation laws, which has a history of being leveraged to protect business interests and discourage citizens from speaking out against authority. Just last year, a journalist was sentenced to two years in prison for criticizing the labor practices of a poultry farm. Even more draconian is the country’s lèse-majesté law, which carries a fifteen-year sentence for anyone who dares to insult Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn (NYT)
- Brussels sprouts: Euroskeptics Take Note: Over the Last Decade, the European Union Has Outmatched China, the UK, Russia, and the US (Foreign Policy)
- ‘Catastrophe for human rights’ as Greece steps up refugee ‘pushbacks’ (Guardian)
- Armenia says its fighter jet ‘shot down by Turkey’ (BBC)
- U.S. Commandos Use Secretive Missiles to Kill Qaeda Leaders in Syria (NYT, $). “Ninja Hellfire” missiles are just as extreme as they sound.
- No Accountability for War Crimes in Sri Lanka (Foreign Affairs)
- Erasing Islam: China Is Erasing Mosques and Precious Shrines in Xinjiang (NYT, $)
- ‘It’s Not in My Head’: They Survived the Coronavirus, but They Never Got Well (NYT, $)
- New super-enzyme eats plastic bottles six times faster (Guardian)
- Building and maintaining healthy habits has always been easier said than done, but it doesn’t have to be. Amongst a global pandemic and 6 months of quarantine, it has never been more important to keep your body and your mind at its best.
- Nourishing your body, loading up on zinc and immune boosting vitamins, getting the protein you need, and getting your daily dose of greens doesn’t have to be a challenge. With Vejo’s portable pod-based blender, all you need is water and 30 seconds to enjoy doctor-formulated, nutrient-packed smoothies.
- Fill your blender with the liquid of your choice, pick from pods like Clean Greens, Immunity Fuel, and Stress Support, and blend. Use code DAILY8 for 8 free blends.
Will You Shut Up, Man? (Scott Olson via Getty Images)
- After months of speculation and preparation, the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden provided the American people with a fitting metaphor for 2020: a total mess. Meaningful policy debates between the two candidates were drowned out by incessant name-calling and interruptions. Even moderator Chris Wallace struggled to corral the unmitigated trainwreck, often getting talked over and ignored by the sitting President of the United States.
- Highlights of the night were hard to hold onto amidst the breakneck pace of absurdity, but a few moments will likely prove salient as the race begins to take its final form. When asked to categorically denounce white supremacy, Donald Trump instead instructed the Proud Boys — a neo-fascist organization — to “stand back and stand by.”
- Biden — who entered the debate leading the race by an average of seven points in national polls — mustered up a number of noteworthy insults to hurl at the antagonistic president. Biden called Trump a “racist,” “clown” and “the worst president we’ve ever had,” at one point saying, “Will you shut up man?”
- Given his sizable deficit in the polls, many believed the onus was on Trump to gain ground in the first televised debate. Instead of delivering a coherent vision for the next four years, he resorted to personal attacks and recriminations, many of which played like a spoken word of his Twitter account.
- All in all, this first debate will be remembered for its glaring lack of substance and relative consistency from Joe Biden, who managed to escape this verbal wrestling match with President Trump with his dignity still intact.
- Pelosi begins mustering Democrats for possible House decision on presidency (Politico)
- A Theory About Conspiracy Theories (NYT, $). What would bring you into the Q?
- Trump’s Tax Returns Prove He Is Just Another Moocher (Atlantic, $)
- Taming the lame duck: Trump’s team plots his departure — even if he won’t (Politico)
- How Fox News Covered the Trump Tax Story on Monday (NYT, $)
- The Obama Justice Department Had a Plan to Hold Police Accountable for Abuses. The Trump DOJ Has Undermined It. (ProPublica)
- Not in the same league: The Political Donations of NBA Owners Are Not So Progressive (Ringer)
- A Military 1st: A Supercarrier Is Named After An African American Sailor (NPR)
Big News For Bird Brains
- If you’ve ever had your brain compared to that of a bird, you’ve likely taken it as quite the insult. Turns out it’s been a compliment all along, as new research indicates that our flying friends have a lot more going on up there than we first suspected.
- In recent years, scientists found that birds are capable of human-style cognition — they can make tools, understand abstract concepts, and even recognize famous paintings from Monet and Picasso. However, these discoveries puzzled researchers given the fact that bird brains are much smaller and lack a neocortex — the area of the mammalian brain that deals with problem-solving, working memory, and planning.
- It was this literal head-scratcher that led a team of neuroanatomists at Ruhr-University Bochum into the avian forebrain, where they uncovered a previously unknown arrangement of microcircuits that could provide the missing link to bird’s unbeknownst brilliance. Using three microscopic slices of homing pigeon brains, they were able to compare the brain wiring of birds to those of a rat, monkey, and human. What they found was — despite their drastic difference in structure — avian brains have a strikingly similar neuroarchitecture to mammals than was ever previously imagined.
- This soaring scientific discovery opens up a whole can of worms when it comes to the prospect of an animal’s self-awareness. Experiments on bird brains are beginning to take off, and a recent study even proved that carrion crows —known as “feathered apes” for their intelligence — fire off neurons in their brain cortex in response to certain stimuli. Andreas Nieder, the designer of the experiment, calls this “an empirical marker of sensory consciousness in birds’ brains.” (Science Mag)
- Not-so-hostile takeover: Human Y chromosome displaced the Neanderthals’ version (Ars Technica). ‘Y’ we are who we are.
- This $1 hearing aid could treat millions with hearing loss (Science Mag)
- Norse code: Dreading a dark winter lockdown? Think like a Norwegian (Guardian)
- How to Get Your Kid to Stop Whining (Lifehacker)
- The Students Left Behind by Remote Learning (New Yorker)
- How to Transform Your Life Through Leisure, With Writers John Fitch and Max Frenzel (Lifehacker). Breaking from the norm.
- The Powerful Decide (Long Reads)
- Lorne Michaels on ‘SNL’ in the Pandemic and Chris Rock’s Return as Host (NYT, $)
- ‘I’m extremely controversial’: the psychologist rethinking human emotion (Guardian)
- How to stop your SpyPhone: One Way to Prevent Police From Surveilling Your Phone & How Signal Grew From Privacy App to Tech Powerhouse (The Intercept, Time)
- We need to rethink social media before it’s too late. We’ve accepted a Faustian bargain (Guardian)
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