Brazilian care home ‘hug tunnel’ so loved ones can embrace


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A care home for elderly people in southern Brazil has come up with a creative way to bring some love to its residents amid the coronavirus pandemic, by creating a “hug tunnel” that allows relatives to safely embrace them…

The facility is home to 28 senior residents who have been in isolation since March 17, with communication with the outside world limited to video calls.

Luciana Brito told CNN the idea for the “hug tunnel” came from a viral video, where a woman in the United States created a plastic curtain in order to hug her mother.

Love is pretty good at overcoming problems.

China donates coronavirus supplies to Italy via China Red Cross


A Chinese team of experts with head of the Italian Red Cross, Francesco Rocca

A planeload of medical supplies, including masks and respirators, has arrived in Italy from China to help the European country deal with its growing coronavirus crisis…

Italy is now the worst-affected nation in the world after China, since the contagion came to light there on February 21…

The outbreak risks overwhelming Italian hospitals, and some key supplies are running low.

In contrast to China, Italy’s partners in the European Union earlier this month refused Rome’s requests for help with medical supplies as they looked to stockpile face masks and other equipment to help their own citizens.

A team of nine Chinese medical staff arrived late on Thursday with some 30 tonnes of equipment on a flight organised by the Red Cross Society of China.

“In this moment of great stress, of great difficulty, we are relieved to have this arrival of supplies. It is true that it will help only temporarily, but it is still important,” said the head of the Italian Red Cross, Francesco Rocca.

In a separate development, Chinese businessman Jack Ma, who is the founder of the Alibaba Group and among the world’s richest people, offered to donate 500,000 coronavirus testing kits and one million masks to the United States, which on Friday declared a national emergency over the outbreak.

…Jack Ma said: “Drawing from my own country’s experience, speedy and accurate testing and adequate protective equipment for medical professionals are most effective in preventing the spread of the virus.”…”We hope that our donation can help Americans fight against the pandemic!”

Over the past weeks, Ma’s organisations have helped provide similar supplies to virus-hit countries such as Japan, South Korea, Italy, Iran and Spain.

I’m not certain if today’s generations know much of the history, of the role often assumed by charities like the Red Cross, globally and in individual nations in time of disaster. Whether war or natural disasters, the Red Cross societies can typically be counted upon to provide aid and comfort to victims regardless of political context. Flags and elections don’t count as much as lives at risk.

BTW, I didn’t learn of this aid to Italy from the mainstream channels on American television. Which is why I rely on more international news sources, anyway.

VW, There and Here


VW starts pre-production runs – new plant in China

❝ VW announced that it already started pre-production at its all-electric vehicle factory in China, just a year after ground breaking at the new plant.

Over the last two years, every major automaker has announced plans to build electric vehicles in China due to the country’s new aggressive zero-emission mandate.

❝ VW is among those automakers who quickly announced plans to build a new factory just for electric vehicles.

They started building it last year through their joint venture with SAIC and today, they announced that they started pre-production at their new factory in Anting, Shanghai.


VW breaks ground for $800 million EV plant in Tennessee

❝ Volkswagen breaks ground Wednesday on its Tennessee plant that will produce two battery-powered cars, according to Reuters. Plans for the $800 million investment in the Chattanooga plant were first announced in January. The ground-breaking shows that Volkswagen is intent on achieving its goal of producing 50 million electric cars in the next several years.

❝ Scott Keogh, Volkswagen Group of America CEO, characterized the event as part of a “magic moment” for electric vehicles in the United States. He equated it to the introduction of the Beetle, which went on to sell 21 million units.

❝ The average transaction price of a car in America right now is $33,000, somewhere around there. That’s where I’d put the dart in the market [for an electric vehicle]. That’s a decent space to approach the center of the market. It will be a car for the heart of the market.

Don’t kid yourself. The same kind of people whining about investments, government support for electric vehicles, here in the United States have their peers with the same kind of chickenshit DNA in China. Priorities are formed by leaders: political, economic and social leaders willing to move ahead. Apparently, it is still possible to find folks willing to setup shop in completely different countries because they recognize opportunity.

Nine of the world’s largest tech firms ain’t anywhere near Silicon Valley


FoxConn data centers

China is now home to nine of the world’s largest public tech companies in terms of market value. They include Alibaba, Tencent, Ant Financial, Baidu, Xiaomi, Didi Chuxing, JD.com, Meituan-Dianping, and Toutiao.

With well over a billion citizens and an ever-growing market, China’s rise in the tech market is understandable. Compared to the United States, the Asian country is outpacing, in leaps and bounds, the number of degrees awarded in science and engineering. This highly skilled labor force is paying off in China’s tech world and its expansion.

Just five years ago the Asian giant had only two of the world’s biggest public tech companies in market value. The United States boasted nine of the largest.

I know all of the rationales Americans – more than any Westerners outside of the UK – roll out to disparage faster and more dynamic growth in Asian countries. I worked for American and British firms sourced significantly from Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China over a few decades. Some of the crap excuses worked for a few years; but, in every case, the reason those producers ran right past their Anglo-American counterparts was higher standards, a willingness to invest time and money in education, trained staff to accomplish product development and production more efficiently.

The single best example, nowadays, would be FoxConn – a Taiwan company mostly manufacturing in Mainland China. Ask anyone with knowledge of American manufacturing and assembly experience how long it takes to completely switchover a plant from one product line to another? You’ll get an answer measured in weeks. FoxConn takes hours, perhaps a couple of days. Because they will pay 1500 process engineers to takeover that plant floor and rollout a changeover in that time frame. I don’t know any American firms that can scrape together that many spare engineering staff – or would.

And I don’t know of any state in the GOUSA that’s capable of or concerned about educating engineers or researchers ready to develop similar systems here in the US – or in the UK. Yes, cultures are different in many ways. But, I’m just offering real reasons why we don’t compete.

The Good Ol’ USA now the only country in the world rejecting the Paris climate accord


Click to enlargeSean Gallup/Getty Images

❝ Today, Syria announced that it would sign the Paris climate agreement — a landmark deal that commits almost 200 countries to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to fight global warming. With Nicaragua also joining the deal last month, the United States is now the only country in the world that opposes it.

In June, President Donald Trump announced that the US will withdraw from the Paris climate accord, unless it is renegotiated to be “fair” to the United States. But other countries in the deal, such as France, Germany, and Italy, said that’s not possible. The Trump administration is also taking steps to roll back regulations passed under former President Barack Obama to achieve the emissions reduction goals set under the Paris deal…

❝ …The Paris accord is one of the most comprehensive climate change agreements ever passed. It is notable because it included countries like China, which pollute heavily but have not signed on to climate deals before…Nicaragua claimed it wasn’t ambitious enough, but reversed its course last month and decided to sign the deal anyway, calling it “the only instrument that currently allows this unity of intentions and efforts…”.

❝ …The announcement leaves the United States more isolated than ever. “With Syria’s decision, the relentless commitment of the global community to deliver on Paris is more evident than ever,” Paula Caballero, director of the climate change program at the World Resources Institute, told the Times. “The US’s stark isolation should give Trump reason to reconsider his ill-advised announcement and join the rest of the world in tackling climate change.”

Which is a foolish analysis of how Trump’s brain rattles around its cage. He cares nothing for educated opinion, scientific study or, in fact, any honest evaluation of measured, verifiable fact. He’s out for short-term gain. Like any pimp.

The same could be said for his dedicated supporters – except I don’t think they’re as capable as he is. As many years as he has working at corruption they’ve been perfecting ignorance.

Wind Power Set a New Green Energy Record in Europe Last Week


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❝ On October 28, wind power sources from 28 countries in the EU set a new record: they provided 24.6% of total electricity — enough to power 197 million European households.

Though the spike in power was likely due to the powerful storm that passed over Europe that weekend, with 153.7 Gigawatts of wind power capacity installed in the EU (including the largest offshore wind farm off the coast of Kent) Europe is on its way to becoming a major force for renewable energy…

❝ …Offshore wind energy is now cheaper than nuclear energy in the UK, and countries across Europe receive significant portions of energy from wind. Denmark regularly gets more than 100 percent of its energy from wind (and hit 109% last weekend), while wind frequently provides Germany more than half of its electricity. Additionally, Scotland recently made news in opening the first floating wind farm, which should provide power to 10,000 homes.

Additionally, with new wind farms being constructed offshore, these high records are likely just the beginning of a new norm for European energy. Denmark’s Ørsted Energy is currently working on the world’s largest offshore wind farm for the UK, which will have the capacity of 1200 Megawatts when it opens in 2020—and they’re under contract to build what will become the next largest offshore wind farm, also in the UK, with a planned capacity of 1386 MW when it opens in 2022.

Gee, Republicans say the United States is incapable of reaching similar goals. They’re already happy with second-rate…from the White House to Congress.

Being led by third-rate minds makes it easier, I guess.

Cubans are 15 TIMES LESS LIKELY TO DIE from Hurricanes Than Americans


Click to watch this production from Democracy NOW

One of the Caribbean islands hardest hit by Hurricane Irma was Cuba, where 10 people died. Irma hit Cuba’s northern coast as a Category 5 storm. It was the deadliest hurricane in Cuba since 2005, when 16 people died in Hurricane Dennis.

Cuba has long been viewed as a world leader in hurricane preparedness and recovery. According to the Center for International Policy, a person is 15 times as likely to be killed by a hurricane in the United States as in Cuba. Meanwhile, Cuba has already sent more than 750 health workers to Antigua, Barbuda, Saint Kitts, Nevis, Saint Lucia, the Bahamas, Dominica and Haiti.

Read the transcript of a discussion with Elizabeth Newhouse, director of the Center for International Policy’s Cuba Project. She has taken numerous delegations from the U.S. to Cuba to see how the Cubans manage disaster preparedness.

China plans for an end to gasoline and diesel-powered cars


Volvo plans on selling a million electrified cars by 2025

China, the world’s biggest car market, plans to ban the production and sale of diesel and petrol cars and vans….The country’s vice minister of industry said it had started “relevant research” but that it had not yet decided when the ban would come into force…

China made 28 million cars last year, almost a third of the global total

Chinese-owned carmaker Volvo said in July that all its new car models would have an electric motor from 2019…Geely, Volvo’s Chinese owner, aims to sell one million electric cars by 2025…and has announced plans to go electric across the board.

Other global car firms including Renault-Nissan, Ford and General Motors are all working to develop electric cars in China.

Automakers are jostling for a slice of the growing Chinese market ahead of the introduction of new rules designed to fight pollution.

China wants electric battery cars and plug-in hybrids to account for at least one-fifth of its vehicle sales by 2025.

The proposals would require 8% of automakers’ sales to be battery electric or plug-in hybrids by next year, rising to 12% in 2020.

Trump and the Republican Party are debating whether or not they want cars sold in the USA to be all fossil fuel-burners or coal-burners.

USA is now ranked a ‘Second Tier’ country at well-being

❝ Some 17 others, including all of Scandinavia, outperform the U.S. by a wide margin when it comes to well-being.

❝ America leads the world when it comes to access to higher education. But when it comes to health, environmental protection, and fighting discrimination, it trails many other developed countries, according to the Social Progress Imperative, a U.S.-based nonprofit.

❝ The results of the group’s annual survey, which ranks nations based on 50 metrics, call to mind other reviews of national well-being, such as the World Happiness Report released in March, which was led by Norway, Denmark, and Iceland, or September’s Lancet study on sustainable development. In that one, Iceland, Singapore, Sweden, and the U.S. took spots 1, 2, 3, and 28 — respectively…

❝ Of course it’s easy enough to dismiss or belittle these occasional reports, each with their unique methodologies and almost identical conclusions. Another approach, however, would be to look at them all together and conclude that they represent “mounting evidence.” In that case, Houston (and Dallas, New Orleans, Tulsa, St. Louis, Baltimore, Chicago, and New York), we have a problem.

❝ SPI produces the report in part to help city, state, and national policymakers diagnose and (ideally) address their most pressing challenges. The group’s chief executive, Michael Green, said America “is failing to address basic human needs, equip citizens to improve their quality of life, protect the environment, and provide opportunity for everyone to make personal choices and reach their full potential.”

How many politicians – either of the pallid flavors we’re allowed – offer you the opportunity to vote in support of a platform containing similar ideals?