Venezuela is in dire condition

Forget for a moment how the ongoing economic collapse in Venezuela was triggered. Instead, realize that millions there live in increasing desperate economic conditions. The country has two big problems – the price of oil and a drought  – and had no backup plan for when the price of oil fell and drought cuts electricity production. Hydropower accounts for 65% of their power.

Venezuela was doing great when the price of oil was over $100 a barrel. Unfortunately, they pegged their entire economy to that. When the price of oil tumbled, their economy started having stress fractures. Political unrest led to the government nationalizing, firing, or kicking out most everyone who knew how to produce oil. So, not only is the price of oil way down, oil rigs and infrastructure are in such bad shape now that oil production catastrophically down.

Inflation is so high street vendors are making woven goods from their worthless currency. One city is issuing its own currency. And the country is issuing a cryptocurrency, because of course that will solve everything. Or go into someone’s pocket.

Search “Venezuela” on Twitter and you will find an endless and vitriolic stream of “Hands Off Venezuela” vs. “See what communism does,” with no solutions being suggested becuase, really, no one has a clue what to do.

This will not end well for Venezuela.

The investment bank predicts that Venezuela’s oil production will average 1.43 million barrels per day (mb/d) in 2018, a shocking decline of roughly 700,000 bpd from the 2017 average. In the second half of 2018, output averages just 1.35 mb/d.

Production is collapsing in a way rarely seen in the absence of a war,” Francisco Monaldi, fellow in Latin American Energy at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, wrote in a new report published by the Atlantic Council. “The country is also suffering the worst economic depression ever recorded in Latin America.” GDP shrank by 16.5 percent in 2016 and 12 percent in 2017. The IMF predicts the economy will contract by another 15 percent this year

“Venezuela imposed electricity rationing this week in six western states, as the crisis-hit country’s creaky power grid suffered from a drought that has reduced water levels in key reservoirs needed to run hydroelectric power generator.”

Trump bans all foreign takeovers of big US tech companies

Trump issued an executive order yesterday explicitly stopping Broadcom, which is based in Singapore, from buying Qualcomm, in what would have been the biggest tech takeover ever, valued at $117 billion. The primary reason was that CFIUS, a Treasury Department committee that reviews such sales, said it would be deleterious to the US if China got control of 5G technology.

The executive order also specifically blocks ANY large tech takeover by foreign firms. It also blocks Broadcom from domiciling in the US, then taking over Qualcomm, which Broadcom was planning to do to circumvent CFIUS.

The problem with such actions is they inevitably cause other countries to retaliate. And, as pointed out below, 5G technology is public domain. Also, Trump rarely if ever does anything unless it benefits him personally.


This was in response to Broadcom’s announcement on Friday – fast-moving stuff! – that it would move forward a shareholder vote on its US domiciliation to March 23, from May 6, which would have allowed Broadcom to move its paper headquarters to the US by April 3, just before Qualcomm’s shareholder vote on the merger.

The executive order says:

The proposed takeover of Qualcomm by the Purchaser is prohibited, and any substantially equivalent merger, acquisition, or takeover, whether effected directly or indirectly, is also prohibited.

Any transaction or other device entered into or employed for the purpose of, or with the effect of, avoiding or circumventing this order is prohibited.

Treasury said:

“While the United States remains dominant in the standards-setting space currently, China would likely compete robustly to fill any void left by Qualcomm as a result of this hostile takeover. Given well-known U.S. national security concerns about Huawei and other Chinese telecommunications companies, a shift to Chinese dominance in 5G would have substantial negative national security consequences for the United States.”

From the comments on Wolfstreet.

I’m curious as to how this will play amount in the tech industry. Most the articles thus far seem to focus largely on the actual story without much opinion. The industry, especially its executives, are not big fans of Trump, but will they support this action, which defends one of the industry leaders?

5G technology is in the public domain! NASA and Geoff Brown of M2Mi developed this technology ten years ago. Currently, Samsung, Intel, Nokia, Huawei, Ericsson, and ZTE are also working on 5G applications. South Korea demonstrated 5G technology last month at the Olympics, but perhaps President Trump is unaware of these trivial details???

This is another example of the mindless belief in free trade. It would be obvious to a plastic pink lawn pelican that when you run $600 billion trade deficits for a decade, foreigners are going to be holders of shitloads of your currency that they have to do something with.

Does the president own shares in either company?

Social media feels like a war zone now, says John Robb

Futurist, blogger, security analyst John Robb says “On social networks. If you’re online, a lot of the time you can feel you’re in a war zone.” Indeed, it feels like a war zone because it often is a war zone. Especially Twitter. Combatants can get doxxed, swatted, harassed, have their children threatened, and some leave forever. John Schindler started a private Twitter account because he got tired of blocking hundreds of bots and trolls every day, says he knows of a suicide triggered by Twitter attacks.

Twitter is Ground Zero for Trump and Never Trump. Trump said he didn’t think he would have won without Twitter. And, as Robb says, Never Trump lives and organizes on Twitter. I’ve been a part of Never Trump since before the election. One of the most fascinating things to me is Never Trump on Twitter is people from all over the political spectrum. Traditional divisions in politics are breaking down. New ones are forming. Six months ago we were crazed conspiracy nuts. Today, I routinely see mainstream media articles about Trump / Russia that was researched, documented, and discussed on Twitter months ago.

Robb discusses how our politics now are being driven by social media, that this is new, sometimes scary, and no one really knows what the outcome will be.

An online movement that was almost totally separate from the Republican party propelled Trump’s candidacy, he says, and “almost all the opposition to Trump is being run on Twitter and online — it’s not even coming out of the Democratic party.” Robb says that “the online network has the potential to set the agenda, and take the reins away” from both established political parties. New parties will use apps and software to attract adherents and communicate with them. “Software-based political parties will just trounce the existing ones,”

Robb says he has “an underlying optimism, but I don’t see a lot of tangible things underway that would make me optimistic. Most of the stuff I see is going in a negative direction.”

But, he adds, “I’ve always had a hope that something would come out of left field and change the dynamic.”

Silicon Valley wants 24/7 surveillance, as do governments. How convenient

Maybe it’s not so strange that a technology, the internet, that was started as a way to watch the public, continues to do exactly that, often with governments concealed behind the curtains as we get distracted by all the shiny new online toys.

There is, of course, no going back. And the internet absolutely does many wonderful things for us. However we are being watched 24/7 and there’s no way to know who has that data and what they are doing with it. People on all sides of politics are getting alarmed. Joel Kotkin, a conservative, writes in the Orange County Register about the sinister side of Silicon Valley.

How Silicon Valley went from ‘don’t be evil’ to doing evil

At the same time these firms are fostering what British academic David Lyon has called a “surveillance society” both here and abroad. Companies like Facebook and Google thrive by mining personal data, and their only way to grow, as Wired recently suggested, was, creepily, to “know you better.”

Whether one sits on the progressive left or the political right, this growing hegemony presents a clear and present danger. It is increasingly clear that the oligarchs have forgotten that Americans are more than a collection of data-bases to be exploited. People, whatever their ideology, generally want to maintain a modicum of privacy, and choose their way of life.

We have traveled far from the heroic era of spunky start-ups nurtured in suburban garages. But a future of ever greater robotic dependence — a kind of high-tech feudalism — is not inevitable. Setting aside their many differences, conservatives and progressives need to agree on strategies to limit the oligarch’s stranglehold on our future.

Yasha Levin’s new book explores the roots of the current surveillance.

In Surveillance Valley, Yasha Levine traces the history of the internet back to its beginnings as a Vietnam-era tool for spying on guerrilla fighters and antiwar protesters–a military computer networking project that ultimately envisioned the creation of a global system of surveillance and prediction. Levine shows how the same military objectives that drove the development of early internet technology are still at the heart of Silicon Valley today. Spies, counterinsurgency campaigns, hippie entrepreneurs, privacy apps funded by the CIA. From the 1960s to the 2010s — this revelatory and sweeping story will make you reconsider what you know about the most powerful, ubiquitous tool ever created.

Haliade-X 12 MW wind turbine coming from GE. Most powerful ever

GE plans to ship their behemoth Haliade-X wind turbine in 2021. It will be the biggest, most powerful wind turbine ever. How big? It’s 853 ft. tall. The blades are 351 ft., longer than a football field. Blade diameter is 722 ft. Output is an astonishing 12 MW. That’s enough to power upwards of 16,000 European households and, conservatively, 7,5000 US homes. That’s from each turbine, not from an entire wind farm.

Further, the Haliade-X has highly advanced electronics that sense changing wind conditions and adjust the blades as needed. Plus, it can generate power in low wind, which is hugely important. Thus, it will be able to produce power when other turbines can’t.

Offshore wind has major advantages over onshore. There are few NIMBYs. The turbines can be bigger and are simpler to build. A 351 ft. blade can be put on a ship much easier than trucking it to the outback.

The ability to produce more power from a single turbine means a smaller number of turbines in the total farm, which translates to less capital expenditure for the balance of plant and reduced risk in project execution as the installation cycle time is reduced. It also simplifies operation and maintenance of the wind farm. All of this reduces the investment and operation cost for developers, makes offshore wind projects more profitable, and ultimately lowers cost of electricity for consumers.