Alban Berg’s 12-tone opera, Lulu,
Brazilians want blue-eyed babies so they’re buying sperm from the US:
Over the past seven years, human semen imports from the U.S. to Brazil have surged some 3,000%, with most buyers selecting donors whose online profiles suggest they will yield light-complexioned and preferably blue-eyed children.
Blond, blue-eyed guys are in demand,
The preference for white donors reflects a persistent preoccupation with race in a country where social class and skin color correlate with glaring accuracy. More than 50% of Brazilians are black or mixed-race, a legacy of Brazil having imported more than 10 times as many African slaves than the U.S.; it was the last Western country to ban slavery, in 1888. The descendants of white colonizers and immigrants—many of whom were lured to Brazil in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when the ruling elite explicitly sought to “whiten” the population—control most of the country’s political power and wealth.
In such a racially divided society, having fair-skinned offspring is often viewed as a way to provide a child with better prospects, from a higher salary to fairer treatment by the police.
And don’t forget market forces:
Imports are rising in part because many Brazilians simply don’t trust the national product. Unlike in the U.S., it is illegal to pay men to donate their sperm here, so domestic stocks are low and information about Brazilian donors sparse.
I see a marketing opportunity for Scandinavians, too.
You can calculate the odds for eye color here.
He has denied wrongdoing but said on Wednesday that he did not want to be an obstacle to the country’s development.
Party leaders in Congress later agreed to accept President Kuczynski’s resignation. He had been facing an impeachment vote on Thursday.
Pressure has been growing after footage emerged of his allies offering opposition politicians financial rewards if they backed him in the vote.
Is he gone for good now?
Congress still has to vote on whether to accept President Kuczynski’s resignation. Lawmakers will meet on Thursday to discuss the issue and are expected to put it to a vote later on Thursday or Friday.
. . .
Mr Kuczynski has already been through one impeachment vote. In December, his opponents wanted to remove him for allegedly receiving illegal payments from the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.
You can tell PPK’s resignation is bad news when you realize the Venezuelan communists celebrated with fireworks.
I don’t know what comes next. All I know is that LatAm news is an endless “shampoo rinse repeat” cycle of news in countries where people never learn.
The new cryptocurrency cannot be legally traded in the USA:
With the economy in shambles and the country cut off from debt markets, Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro launched the so-called petro cryptocurrency last month in a bid to skirt intensifying financial sanctions from the U.S., the European Union and others aiming to punish the government for its authoritarian rule.
“Investing in the petro should be seen as investing in the dictatorship,” a senior U.S. official said after President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning the currency.
Indeed, (emphasis added)
U.S. officials say any other cryptocurrencies created by Venezuela’s government in the future will also be subject to the ban, which took effect immediately. Echoing the U.S. action, Venezuelan lawmakers opposed to Mr. Maduro say the petro is illegal because it was created without parliamentary approval, raising questions about the asset’s validity if there were a change of power.
The petro is the regime’s cheap excuse for a make-believe revenue source in exchange for nothing. If they were simply oriented towards creating a money laundering tool, there’s plenty of bitcoin action in that direction.
In other Venezuela news,
Tuberculosis is on the upswing
A city issues its currency: Venezuelan City Launches Its Own Currency Amid Cash Crunch
How can #Maduro say that the central bank of Venezuela is strong? Individual regions in Venezuela are starting there own "mini" central banks in order to print their own currencies. #socialism at its finest folks. https://t.co/PmIapDJF0c
— Prof. Steve Hanke (@steve_hanke) March 20, 2018
Even the Russians are starting to worry: Rosneft seeks to ease fears over Venezuela loans.
Russian oil producer says repayments are being made on schedule
Last, but not least,
Venezuela's annual inflation rate for today, 3/20/18, is 8243%. pic.twitter.com/yK04z5txol
— Prof. Steve Hanke (@steve_hanke) March 20, 2018
Canadian-based Phantom Secure made “tens of millions of dollars” selling the modified Blackberry devices for use by the likes of the Sinaloa Cartel, investigators said.
The charges marked the first time US authorities have targeted a company for knowingly making encrypted technology for criminals.
The Department of Justice arrested Vincent Ramos in Seattle last week. He was indicted on Thursday along with four associates.
. . .
They are charged with racketeering and conspiracy to aid the distribution of drugs. Both crimes have a maximum penalty of life in prison. Mr Ramos is the only one of the group currently in custody.
“This organisation Phantom Secure was designed to facilitate international drug trafficking all throughout the entire world,” US attorney Adam Braverman told the BBC.
“The difference is this company was specifically-designed to aid international drug trafficking organisations,” and new customers needed a referral from an existing customer. A six-month subscription cost $2,000-$3,000, easily affordable by their target customers.
The only surprising thing is that it took this long to create the business.
Linked to by The Other McCain. Thank you!
My blogging sabbatical away from politics continues, but here’s some operatic tragedy for the weekly opera fix, with Bryn & Jonas,
The five were carrying out research on Joinville Island off the north-eastern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.
All five are in good health after being airlifted by helicopter onto the Argentine icebreaker Almirante Irízar.
The world’s most narcissistic painter is back in the news, this time over – yes, again – her image:
It comes after the toy company Mattel launched a range of new Barbie dolls based on “Inspiring Women” – Kahlo among them.
In a statement, the family insisted Mattel was not authorised to base a doll on Kahlo.
But both the Frida Kahlo Corporation and Mattel have rejected the claims.
The artist with the famous unibrow was famous for her self-portraits and became a feminist icon. Since she died in 1954, her image has generated an array of consumer products, from tequila to lip gloss.
It is not the first FridaK toy. There’s the Frida Kahlo Surrealist Artist Action Figure Doll:
Salma Hayek doesn’t like the Frida Barbie,
“Frida Kahlo never tried to be or look like anyone else,” wrote Hayek. “She celebrated her uniqueness. How could they turn her into a Barbie?”
I don’t like it, because of a different reason: Kahlo was a devoted communist. I also don’t like the idea of dolls as role models, but Kahlo’s communism by itself is reason enough.