The disappearing paper: Why cash is a dying payment method

mobile payment

By Jon Norris

A cashless society has been a talking point for futurists for years, but for one reason or another, has never quite been within our grasp. Now, like the electric car and clean energy, it’s finally happening – and it’s about time.

The arguments for ditching notes and coins are numerous, and quite convincing. In the US, a study by Tufts University concluded that the cost of using cash amounts to around $200 billion per year – about $637 per person.

This is primarily the costs associated with collecting, sorting and transporting all that money, but also includes trivial expenses like ATM fees. Incidentally, the study also found that the average American wastes five and a half hours per year withdrawing cash from ATMs; just one of the many inconvenient aspects of hard currency.

While coins last decades, or even centuries, paper currency is much less durable. A dollar bill has an average lifespan of six years, and the US Federal Reserve shreds somewhere in the region of 7,000 tons of defunct banknotes each year.

Physical currency is grossly unhealthy too. Researchers in Ohio spot-checked cash used in a supermarket and found 87 percent contained harmful bacteria. Only 6 percent of the bills were deemed “relatively clean.”

Cash is expensive, inconvenient, wasteful and unhealthy – it’s time to call it quits with physical currencies.

The first attempts to replace cash with something more convenient was the credit coin – a small metal disc used to tie receipts to a customer’s credit account in department stores and hotels. Their modern successor – the credit card – has been the most successful in dethroning the banknote.

According to Visa, in 2012 card payments accounted for 32.8 percent of worldwide consumer spending, while cash accounted for 38.3 percent (cheques and other payment methods made up the remainder).

When you consider that the entire card payment industry, including American Express, Visa and Mastercard (companies with combined assets of over $200 billion), has not managed to eclipse cash payments in 60 years of existence, it seems that cashless solutions that want to have a permanent impact have a mountain to climb.

There are also wider societal issues involved with the end of cash. Paper money is used more frequently by low-income groups and independent businesses  – street traders, panhandlers and one-man bands — those who cannot get a bank account or absorb card processing fees.

The working classes incur much higher costs from the move to cashlessness than those with higher incomes – one in twelve US households deal only in cash primarily because they cannot afford banking fees.

That’s not to say it’s impossible – Stockholm’s homeless population recently began accepting card payments




What Will the Earth Look Like in Millions of Years?

Human civilization is developing very fast. Only five thousand years ago first nodular writing was introduced, and today we have learnt to share terabytes of information at light speed. And the pace of progress is increasing.

Predicting what human impact on our planet may be even a thousand years into the future is almost impossible. However, scientists love to speculate as to what awaits the earth in the future if our civilization suddenly disappears. Let us follow them and envision an unusual situation, for example, what if in XXII century all humans will leave Earth for Alpha Centauri, what is going to happen to our forsaken world?

Global extinction

Because of its development, mankind constantly affects the natural process of matter cycling. In fact, we have become a kind of disaster that can cause a cataclysm of unprecedented proportions. We are changing biosphere and climate, extracting minerals and producing mountains of garbage. But, despite our power, the nature may require only a few thousand years to return to its original “wild” state. Skyscrapers will crumble, the tunnels will collapse, communication lines will rust out, and urban areas will be replaced by a dense forest.

Since the emissions of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will end, nothing can prevent an onset of a new ice age, it may happen in about 25 thousand years. The glaciers will begin to advance from the north, taking over Europe, Siberia and parts of the North American continents.

It is obvious that under kilometers of encroaching ice layers, the last traces of once-existed civilization will be buried and ground to a fine dust. Still, the greatest impact will be suffered by the biosphere. Having completely taken over the planet, mankind has virtually destroyed every natural ecological niche, which led to one of the greatest mass extinctions of animals in history.

Absence of humanity will not stop this process, because the chains of interactions between living organisms are already negatively impacted. Mass extinction will continue taking place for over 5 million years. Large mammals and many species of birds will be wiped out. The biological diversity of fauna will drastically decline. The obvious evolutionary advantage will be gained by genetically modified plants, which scientists have designed to be able to withstand the most challenging conditions for their survival.

These plants will start growing in the wild, and while being resistant to pests, will quickly take over vacated niches, creating new species. Moreover, during those millions of years, two dwarf stars will appear in the close proximity to the Sun, which will inevitably lead to changes in planetary characteristics of the Earth, which will also experience bombardment of comets. These catastrophic events will further accelerate extinction among the known species of animals and plants. What are they going to be replaced with?…





Freedom from Government

Harry Browne | Laissez Faire

The first principle in dealing with government is: Don’t be awed by it.

What little the government achieves is almost always due to the voluntary participation of its citizens. Those who don’t want to help the government can go their own ways without running into much trouble.

The second principle is: Don’t confront the government. A sure way to make your life miserable is to attack the government head on. Its resources are limited, and it can’t waste them tracking down every possible violator of every law. But it will certainly aim its power at anyone who publicly defies it.

So keep to yourself, do what you have to do.

The third rule in dealing with government is: Don’t organize. Don’t get a large group of people together to defy tax laws, promote ways of circumventing the government, or openly violate regulations.

By joining protests, you might wind up in jail. And you won’t have much freedom there.

And mass campaigns are easy targets. That’s where the government is likely to devote its limited resources. When many people are doing the same thing, it’s easy to stop them by passing laws or by applying existing laws against them.

When you act alone, however, you’re usually not worth the trouble.

And when you act alone, you can flexibly do whatever is necessary to stay ahead of the government. If new laws are passed, you can change your methods to continue doing what you want to do.

No cumbersome, bureaucratic government can move as fast as an individual who’s determined to stay ahead of it.

There are limitless possibilities for avoiding government — without crises, court battles, or fear of being jailed.

Start by listing the governmental restrictions that inhibit your freedom.

Determine the possible consequences of ignoring them. It may be that no more than a warning is involved if you’re caught. And you might also find that there are legal ways of avoiding the restrictions — if they’re important enough to be worth the time to investigate.

In many cases, you can just ignore the law without incurring dangerous consequences. In others, you may have to go to more trouble — such as consulting an attorney or tax accountant.

But act for yourself. Don’t organize, and don’t look to leaders to help you. Any activity big enough to require a leader is big enough to be noticed and attacked.

For most people, there are more than enough loopholes available to be able to operate freely without running afoul of the law. More than anything else, it simply requires the determination to do so.

For example, I know of a company that operates successfully in spite of governmental regulations. The state in which it’s located has been trying to license it for five years, and a federal agency has been trying to shut it down for violating a regulation. The state legislature even passed a special law to bring the company under its jurisdiction.

But to this day, the company still operates in its own way, pleasing its customers, and making profits for its owners. They’ve moved flexibly and easily into a different method of operation every time a ruling has been made against them. They’ve had to pay attorneys’ fees, but those are insignificant compared to the profits they would have lost had they given in to the bureaucrats.

I once had a similar experience. I was operating a small business in California — burdened with payroll taxes, bookkeeping requirements, and other regulations imposed by the government. There were Social Security taxes, unemployment insurance taxes, disability insurance taxes, and income taxes to be paid or withheld. They cost me money and time, and they reduced the take-home pay of my employees…





You Won’t Believe What Spies On Malaysia Plane Were Doing

Military intelligence is heavily involved in Malaysia Airlines 370, but contradicting itself and denying the public from needed information, thus increasing speculations officials are unauthorized by the military to disclose the craft’s whereabouts and intel by 25 high-tech passengers, employed by five major defense contractor technology companies, was liekly valued enough to seize the plane.

Two Chinese companies represented on the plane’s manifest list are declared U.S. national security risk due to its spying with backdoor computer technology. Congress ousted them from business in the U.S. and warned American companies to halt busines with them, only two of five such companies tight with military.

This Is What Cyber Wars Look Like

A massive military search operation for Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER has resulted in no credible trace of the aircraft or its 239 passengers and crew. Search and rescue vessels from Malaysia’s maritime enforcement agency reached where the plane last made contact, reporting no wreckage sign. Vietnam’s rescue planes spotted two large oil slicks about 15 km (9 miles) long, and a smoke column, also false alarms. China and the Philippines sent ships to help. The U.S., Philippines and Singapore dispatched military planes. China has more ships and aircraft on standby. The FBI sent agents and technical staff to join the investigation, since four Americans are on the manifest list. Crowdsourcing has been activated, so even the public can help. The search operation, however, has no formal entity to lead it.

Chinese passengers’ relatives angrily accuse the airline of keeping them in the dark, and even thrown bottles at officials. Approximately  20-30 families were kept in an airport holding room, guarded by security officials to keep them away from reporters.

”There’s no one from the company here, we can’t find a single person,” said a middle-aged man at a hotel near Beijing airport where relatives were taken. “They’ve just shut us in this room and told us to wait.”

Malaysian authorities say they’re working in co-operation with other countries in the investigation. “Once the location of the airplane is determined, International Civil Aviation Organization protocols will determine which country will lead the investigation,” the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said. Until then, it’s tough keeping the story straight with so many fingers in the pie.

Demanding that the military and FBI be honest and open is like trying to get them to never frame, falsely arrest and detain, harm or kill.  Conflicting and confusing accounts of the plane’s potential whereabouts and false alarms compound stress and anxiety of passengers’ friends and family. After days, they were finally ushered unseen out of the airport to their homes after told to mentally prepare for the worst, According to Hugh Dunleavy, commercial director at Malaysia Airlines, that’s too big of an ask. It’s especially difficult when faint signs of life continued, such as loved ones’ phones still ringing with no explanation and the “heard but not seen jet,” both long after the plane vanished.

Meanwhile, precious time is still being lost due to a lack of a lead investigating agency with legal clout in the early days, according to some aviation industry observers. Others speculate means and motives as military investigators keep everyone in the dark.

Motive, Means, Iranian Connection

One motive to capture a craft is its highly valued cargo or passengers. MH370 possibly carries both. The Obama administration and U.S. spymasters have accused China’s government of using computer hackers to steal American businesses’ secrets to benefit China’s private sector. The world is angry at the U.S. for its NSA spying. One means an aircraft can seemingly vanish is with hi-tech military electronic weaponry (EW) designed specifically to “disappear” crafts. U.S. and Chinese military boast of having this capacity. The US has used it elsewhere. [Malaysia Plane Hidden With Electronic Weapon? 20 Hi-Tech EW Defense Passengers] 

In 2005, an FBI investigation codenamed Titan Rain revealed Chinese hackers in Guangdong stole from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and stole flight-planning software from the Air Force. The hackers accessed systems at defense contractors, such as Lockheed Martin, and the World Bank. China’s hacking drove Google out of China. WikiLeaks quoted a U.S. Embassy official saying contacts told the U.S. that the Chinese government was behind internet hacking attacks on not only Google, but also Western governments.

Five major technological communications military contractor companies have high-tech employees and executives on the MH370 passenger manifest, two American and three Asia Pacific – each strongly tied to military: China Telecom, Business Machines Corp., Austin-based Freescale, International Business Machines (IBM), ZTE Corp., and Huawei Technologies Co. Combined, they have 26 high-tech experts on the passenger manifest list, including two executives. One of these companies refused to identify its employees onboard, and investigators also withheld those identities…



Mom in court for refusing to drug daughter, 13, with antipsychotic








WAYNE COUNTY, Mich. – Maryanne Godboldo endured a mother’s worst nightmare  when in May 2011 police and social workers burst into her home without a  warrant, seized her then 13-year-old daughter, locked the child in a psychiatric  hospital and purportedly doped her with dangerous antipsychotic drugs – but the  devoted mom refused to allow authorities rip the little girl from her arms  without a fight.

Instead, Godboldo, a former dance teacher who had never before had a run-in  with the law, fought to defend her daughter, Ariana, in a 10-hour standoff with  a Detroit SWAT team. The standoff resulted in eight felony charges, as  authorities say Godboldo fired a gun into the ceiling when police broke down her  door. A hearing is set for Godboldo Friday, and protesters plan to rally outside  the courthouse in support of the mother.

It would have been an inconceivable act to most Americans just a few years  ago: Armed police can now show up at family home, forcibly remove a child  without a warrant and jail anyone who stands in their way. As  WND reported, even the Supreme Court has recently allowed a lower court  judgment supporting the use of a violent SWAT attack in a man’s home based  merely on suspicion of wrongdoing.

In the Detroit case, Gosboldo said police and Child Protective Services  lied to her, promising that Ariana would be placed in the custody of Maryanne’s  sister. She said they also assured her they would not drug Ariana.

“All I wanted to do was protect my daughter,” Gosboldo said. “When they  forced her to take Risperdal, Haldol, Lithium and several vaccines, without my  knowledge or consent, they almost killed her,” she said. “It was attempted  murder.”

Detroit 36th District Court Judge Ronald Giles initially tossed  out the charges on the grounds that the child removal order police used to  attempt to gain access to Ariana was invalid and, subsequently, all of the  evidence in the Godboldo case was inadmissible. But the Court of Appeals  reversed his decision – with a catch. The appeals judges actually suggested  in their order a different argument that Godboldo’s lawyers can  use: an argument of self-defense.

The argument, based on a landmark 2012 Michigan Supreme Court decision,  People v. Moreno, retroactively upheld the “common-law” right to resist unlawful  arrests, warrant-less home invasions and other unlawful conduct by the  police…




‘As polluted as Beijing’: Paris makes public transport free amid smog crisis

A view of the Eiffel Tower seen through thick smog, on March 14, 2014, in Paris..(AFP Photo / Patrick Kovarik)

Public transport will be free from Friday until Sunday evening in Paris as the authorities try to encourage drivers to leave their cars at home, as much of France suffers severe air pollution caused by unusually warm weather.

The French capital and 30 other regions of France have been on maximum pollution alert for several days, with conditions set to continue until the end of the weekend.

The European Environment Agency says the pollution is the worst since 2007, and almost three-quarters of France is affected.

The air pollution has also affected neighboring Belgium where authorities have introduced a maximum speed limit to reduce the concentration of polluting particles.

Jean-Paul Huchon, head of the STIF organization that manages Paris’s complex transport network, said that public transport would be free from Friday morning until Sunday evening.

“I am asking all residents in Paris and neighboring areas to favor the use of public transport,” Huchon said.

Subways, buses and trains will be free, as will bike-shares and one-hour sessions in electric cars.

The cities of Caen, Reims and Rouen, all in northern France, are following Paris’s lead and also offering free transport.

As air quality dipped Thursday to the same as Beijing, Ecology Minister Philippe Martin admitted that air quality was “an emergency and a priority for the government.”…



This Is The Most Beautiful Beach In Greece, Which Means It’s The Prettiest Beach In The World

We know, we know. You’re thinking to yourself, “Come on, guys, another pretty beach?” And we totally understand but look. at. this:

navagio greece

Navagio has been called the prettiest beach in all of Greece, which, if we can all agree is one of the prettiest places in all the world, then this beach is the prettiest beach in the whole wide world. Logic works for us. And so do these pics. Like seriously?

Oh, did we mention that to add to the beauty there’s a creepy factor, too? There’s a large boat that just sits on the beach that is supposedly a wrecked smuggler’s ship (hence the beaches nickname of Smuggler’s Cove). Hey, at least there’s shade.

navagio greece

There’s a really beautiful walk and platform perched high above the beach with views of the Ionian island of Zakynthos…