Could China’s Digital Currency Unseat the Dollar?

Could China’s Digital Currency Unseat the Dollar?

(Source foreignaffairs.com)
Imagine the United States has received intelligence from the Mossad that Iran is procuring essential components for nuclear weapons and missile programs. U.S. economic sanctions on Iran remain in place, but Iran has shifted much of its international commerce to a new yuan-based system—a Chinese digital currency that allows Tehran to avoid dollar transactions and thus evade U.S. financial institutions. As a result, Iran’s oil sales to China, India, and Europe are up, providing the Iranian regime with critical revenue streams that U.S. authorities cannot monitor. And when Iran decides to move quickly toward the development of nuclear weapons and new medium-range missiles to deliver them, the United States can no longer turn to sanctions as one of its primary means of responding to the threat. This scenario may seem far-fetched given the long-standing dominance of the dollar. But in late April, China reached a significant milestone: after more than five years of research by its central bank, China became the first major economy to conduct a real-world test of a national digital currency. The pilot project, which is occurring in four large Chinese cities, is a clear sign that China is years ahead of the United States in the development of what is likely to become a central component of a digital world economy. U.S. policymakers are unprepared for the consequences. The advent of digital currencies will degrade the efficacy of U.S. sanctions, limiting the country’s options to respond to national security threats from Iran, North Korea, Russia, and others. It will also hamper the ability of U.S. authorities to track illicit financial flows. And China, meanwhile, will use the combination of its digital yuan and strong electronic-payment platforms (such as Alipay and WeChat) to expand its influence and reinforce its capacity for economic coercion in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.

Georgia farmland among most threatened in the nation says new report

Georgia farmland among most threatened in the nation says new report (Source ajc.com)

Between 2001 and 2016, about 544,000 acres of agricultural land in Georgia were developed or used for purposes other than farming or ranching, 195,000 acres of which are considered the best land for growing food and crops.

“We’ve all witnessed the impacts of empty grocery store shelves in recent months – we must be vigilant in protecting our farms and ensuring that our food system is more secure and resilient,” said Billy Van Pelt II, AFT senior director of external relations. Georgia agriculture is a $9.6 billion dollar industry with just over 42,000 farms. The top products are poultry and eggs, hay, other field crops and cotton.

The report comes just weeks before the general assembly could revisit a hotly debated farm bill (House Bill 545) when the 2020 session, suspended due to COVID-19, resumes in June.

Millions of Cicadas Will Re-Emerge in These States After 17 Years Underground

Millions of Cicadas Will Re-Emerge in These States After 17 Years Underground

(Source housebeautiful.com)

They’re back and ready to make some noise! Those bulbous-eyed, noisy little critters known as cicadas, are emerging from the soil as we speak. After 17 years of underground living, millions of these bad boys are ready to stretch their wings and give Virginia, North Carolina, and West Virginia a very loud wakeup call. Cicadas are known for their unique life cycle. According to National Geographic, there are over 3,000 species of this insect. While some species reappear annually (such as dog-day cicadas) others take a break for either 13 or 17 years. Many of these years spent down below are developmental years as cicadas grow from nymph to adult, but much about their time underground remains “one of the great mysteries of the insect world,” according to a press release from Virginia Tech’s Department of Entomology. Known as periodic cicadas, these species reside and develop in the soil for a number of years before surfacing in massive swarms. This year, Brood IX will take over parts of Southwest Virginia, North Carolina, and West Virginia, the department writes. As many as 1.5 million cicadas will span per acre in these areas. “People who live in these regions will experience a unique natural phenomenon that has not occurred in most of the area since 2003-04.”

China Threatens ‘Countermeasures

China Threatens ‘Countermeasures,’ Says U.S. Will Bear Consequences After Pompeo Congratulates Taiwan President (Source Newsweek.com)

China threatened to take “necessary countermeasures” against the U.S. after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo congratulated Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who was sworn in on Wednesday. In a statement, China’s Ministry of National Defense called Taiwan “inalienable” and said that “the actions of the United States seriously violate the one-China principle.”

The one-China policy maintains that there is only one Chinese government, a policy the U.S. has recognized. The U.S.’s ties with China are formal, as opposed to its ties with Taiwan, which are unofficial.

Diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China have declined during the coronavirus pandemic, as President Donald Trump has blamed the Asian nation for the pandemic and accused Beijing of concealing the severity of its initial outbreak, which was in the city of Wuhan.

Support from Pompeo for Taiwan has increased tensions between the two superpowers. China views Taiwan as its territory even though it has long been a self-governed state. Taiwan has gained recent global attention because of its quick and effective response to the coronavirus outbreak there. As early as December 31, the island began monitoring and screening incoming travelers, enacting mandatory quarantines and tracking citizens through their phones. Taiwan has not reported a new confirmed case in three weeks.

Record-high grocery prices exacerbate America’s growing food insecurity problems

Record-high grocery prices exacerbate America’s growing food insecurity problems

(Source Yahoo Money)

The coronavirus pandemic has set off a domino effect in the country’s food supply chain that is hurting food banks and pantries in the nation’s largest cities and the millions of newly unemployed Americans who now depend on them.

A surge of Americans are applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the federal program formerly known as food stamps, according to an earlier Yahoo Money report, while swelling numbers are seeking assistance at food banks and pantries with the country’s four largest cities all reporting an increase in demand. Nearly half of New York City’s network of soup kitchens and food pantries have reported an increase in visitors over the past few weeks, and are modifying their services to accommodate the most vulnerable such as providing more home deliveries.

The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank has seen an 80% increase in demand and served over 1 million people since the pandemic’s arrival. Pre-COVID, the food bank served 300,000 people monthly and now that number is estimated to be at 500,000. The Greater Chicago Food Depository reports a 71% increase in clients since January, but Greg Trotter, a spokesperson for the nonprofit says that percentage is likely higher due to issues with reporting. Houston, home to 1.1 million food insecure people, reported a similar increase. Pre-COVID, Houston Food Bank, which serves the broader southeast Texas region, distributed 400,000 to 500,000 pounds of food per day. Recently, that number is over 1 million pounds per day across 112,000 households with a 150% increase in demand.

Carnival to Lay Off Employees in Florida Due to Coronavirus

Carnival to Lay Off Employees in Florida Due to Coronavirus (Source Zacks Equity Research)

Given an extended pause in operations due to the coronavirus pandemic, Carnival Corporation CCL has announced a series of layoffs and furloughs across its Florida offices. The company has terminated 820 positions in Florida, with an additional 537 employees, placed on temporary furlough for up to six months. Employees in California and Washington state will also be impacted by the pandemic. This along with the combination of reduced work hours and salary reductions of senior executives is likely to save millions in cash on an annual basis. Carnival President & CEO Arnold Donald stated “Taking these extremely difficult employee actions involving our highly dedicated workforce is a very tough thing to do. Unfortunately, it’s necessary, given the current low level of guest operations and to further endure this pause.” In mid-April, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. RCL announced plans to terminate 26% of its workforce. Even Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. NCLH has announced plans to furlough 20% of its staff.

The Name of God the Creator

The Name of God the Creator

(Source intoyahwehspresence.wordpress.com)

YAHWEH – the God of the Israelites, his name being revealed to Moses as four Hebrew consonants (YHWH) called the tetragrammaton. After the Exile (6th century BC), and especially from the 3rd century BC on, Jews ceased to use the name YAHWEH for two reasons. As Judaism became a universal religion through its proselytizing in the Greco-Roman world, the more common noun ELOHIM, meaning “God,” tended to replace YAHWEH to demonstrate the universal sovereignty of Israel’s God over all others. At the same time, the divine name was increasingly regarded as too sacred to be uttered; it was thus replaced vocally in the synagogue ritual by the Hebrew word Adonai (“My Lord”), which was translated as Kyrios (“Lord”) in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament.

The Masoretes, who from about the 6th to the 10th century worked to reproduce the original text of the Hebrew Bible, replaced the vowels of the name YHWH with the vowel signs of the Hebrew words ADONAI or ELOHIM. Thus, the artificial name Jehovah (YeHoWaH) came into being. Although Christian scholars after the Renaissance and Reformation periods used the term Jehovah for YHWH, in the 19th and 20th centuries biblical scholars again began to use the form YAHWEH. Early Christian writers, such as Clement of Alexandria in the 2nd century, had used a form like YAHWEH, and this pronunciation of the tetragrammaton was never really lost. Other Greek transcriptions also indicated that YHWH should be pronounced YAHWEH.

The meaning of the personal name of the Israelite God has been variously interpreted. Many scholars believe that the most proper meaning may be “He Brings Into Existence Whatever Exists” (YAHWEH-ASHER-YAHWEH). In I Samuel, God is known by the name YAHWEH Teva-?ot, or “He Brings the Hosts Into Existence,” the hosts possibly referring to the heavenly court or to Israel. The personal name of God probably was known long before the time of Moses. The name of Moses’ mother was Jochebed (Yokheved), a word based on the name YAHWEH. Thus, the tribe of Levi, to which Moses belonged, probably knew the name YAHWEH, which originally may have been (in its short form Yo, Yah, or Yahu) a religious invocation of no precise meaning evoked by the mysterious and awesome splendour of the manifestation of the holy.

Georgia officials trying to stop large, invasive lizard that eats ‘anything they want

Georgia officials trying to stop large, invasive lizard that eats ‘anything they want'(Source usatoday.com)

An invasive lizard that grows up to four-and-a-half feet long is causing concern for Georgia wildlife officials who are attempting to eradicate it from the state after years of sightings. “They eat just about anything they want,” said Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife biologist John Jensen in a May 8 video about the Argentine black and white tegu. While the lizards have not been a threat to humans and common household pets, Georgia officials say people should avoid leaving pet foods outside, as it can attract the lizard. They are not known for being aggressive towards humans, although sometimes they may chase people. The reptiles grow large, reproduce fast and eat a wide variety of things, from fruit to eggs, birds and small mammals. Tegus pose a threat to native wildlife, including gopher tortoises, a candidate for Endangered Species Act listing. They have been documented using gopher tortoise burrows and eating tortoise eggs and the young.

From slavery to Eurovision African Hebrew Israelites mark 50 years in Israel

From slavery to Eurovision African Hebrew Israelites mark 50 years in Israel (Source israel21c.org) The African Hebrew Israelite Nation of Jerusalem (also known as the Black Hebrews or Hebrew Israelites) have lived in the desert cities of Dimona, Arad and Mitzpeh Ramon for 50 years. To mark this jubilee year, and celebrate the remarkable success of this small group against all odds, a rarely-seen cache of photographs has recently been released by the National Library of Israel.

The photographs were taken in January 1970, a few weeks after the community was established in Dimona, and prior to the arrival of the group’s charismatic leader, Ben-Ami Carter (later known as Ben Ami Ben-Israel). The Chicago-born Carter had been a leader within a group called the Black Hebrew Israelites, a 19th century movement based on the premise that African Americans were the true descendants of the biblical Children of Israel.

Georgia May be doomed for second lockdown

Georgia May be doomed for second lockdown

(Source thedailybeast.com) Last month, a team of researchers at Harvard, MIT, and Georgia Tech released a state-by-state COVID-19 simulator, which showed that under minimal restrictions, with no other interventions following the lifted lockdown, there could be up to 20,000 deaths by Aug. 30 in Georgia. Turgay Ayer, an associate professor at Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, who worked on the project, previously told The Daily Beast that such a worst-case scenario could be avoided. But only if Gov. Brian Kemp, who led the charge nationally in reopening his state, were to reimplement some restrictions in the event of a second wave.