Why Did Russia Detain Kremlin Critic Alexei Navalny?

Alexei Navalny is a Russian opposition leader who stands in defiance of the policies and governing of Vladimir Putin. Outside investigators determined that Navalny was poisoned on an August 2020 trip to Siberia.

Tests run by health authorities in Europe found he was exposed to a variant of Novichok, which is a Soivet-era nerve agent. Navalny arrived in Berlin in a coma, and it took him several months to recover from the nerve damage.

When he started feeling better, Navalny said it was time for him to return to Russia.

Putin Denies That Navalny Was Poisoned

Although the Russian government denies that they had anything to do with Navalny’s poisoning, the opposition leader uncovered the details by duping a Kremlin officer into revealing how it happened.

When he returned to Moscow from his recovery in Germany, Navalny was placed into custody immediately. Russian authorities claimed that they had the right to hold him because of a probabtion violation.

Navalny said in a statement before traveling to Russia that all the cases against him were fabricated. The European Court of Human Rights had even ruled in his favor in the case that the Russian government is using to justify their conduct.

The story doesn’t stop there. After a lengthy hunger strike, Russian security services have detained one of Navalny’s lawyers. The FSB allegedly knocked on his hotel room door on the day he was supposed to appear in court and told that everything was going to be done to put him in prison.

Charges against the attorney involved speaking to the press about how one of his clients was held illegally in a detention center on an “absurd” charge.

Navalny continues to be held in Penal Colony No. 2 while serving out the remainder of his sentence.

Energy Consumption of Cryptocurrency Mining Accelerates Climate Change

First, it was the emissions that cows and farmers produced. Then it was what we created while driving.

Now, the energy consumption from cryptocurrency mining is adding more accelerant to the climate change issues we face. By 2024, the carbon emissions from Chinese bitcoin mining will exceed the entire energy demands of Saudi Arabia and Italy.

Most bitcoin mining occurs in places where electricity remains affordable to keep costs down. That’s why the coal-heavy regions in China have attractive the most attention. About 75% of all activities happen there today.

According to Bill Gates, bitcoin uses more electricity per transaction than any other current method. Only one of them is the equivalent to over 735,000 Visa® transactions.

Bitcoin Mining Could Use 297 Twh in 2024

If Chinese bitcoin mining reaches the projected levels of just under 300 Twh in 2024, that figure would be the 121st-highest country in the world for energy consumption. That also means over 130 metric tons of carbon emissions would flow into the atmosphere.

This emission output surpassed the total greenhouse gas output of Qatar and the Czech Republic, according to 2016 figures.

China announced that they would be cracking down on bitcoin operations in 20201 to reduce emissions and energy consumption in the region. For Inner Mongolia, the plan forces 100% of the existing mines to close while preventing anyone else from starting something new.

Some miners, including Bitmain (which is listed on the NASDAQ exchange), have said that they plan to shift operations to areas that have more renewable energy options. As the environmental impact of this effort is seen, the change has been a priority for many of today’s top producers.

In 2020, about 76% of miners used at least some electricity from renewable sources. That figure is up from 60% in 2018.

Fast Food Struggling to Find Workers

Although unemployment applications were still above 500,000 per week at the start of May 2021, a significant labor shortage was developing in the economy. Several fast-food chains, including Subway and McDonalds, were forced to close dining rooms, cut hours, and ask their workers to push themselves even harder.

Over 40% of small business owners say that they have job openings today that they cannot fill. The industries with entry-level positions tend to struggle the most because unemployment and stimulus have had influences on the job market.

It’s caused some franchisees to make the rare move of cutting late-night service and breakfast.

What Is This Issue Doing to the Workers?

The labor shortage is putting more pressure on the existing workers to do more tasks or work longer hours. This issue is resulting in more mistakes, burnout, and resignations. Managers are covering more shifts because there aren’t enough people to cover everything, creating sleep disruptions that impact the overall quality even more.

It’s not unusual to have people working multiple 16-hour days in some communities.

Customers are also feeling the pinch of these worker shortages throughout the fast-food industry. It’s resulting in longer wait times and more mistakes, which turns into higher complaint numbers.

Analysts say that the stimulus and unemployment reasoning is only a scapegoat for industry-wide problems. Restaurants face higher rates of assault on the job, sexual harassment, and below-average wages.

With businesses outside of the fast-food industry offering $15 per hour guaranteed, it’s easy to leave the $11 per hour behind – especially if there is less consumer abuse.

When you add the fear element of COVID-19 exposures to that equation, there’s no incentive to work in the fast-food industry. That means chains will be forced to pay workers and managers more to compete with other community businesses.

WHO Suggest Pandemic Will Continue Past 2021

When March 2021 came around, the world half-heartedly celebrated surviving a year with COVID-19. Although China went into lockdown earlier, most of the planet started dealing with the coronavirus a week or two before April.

After we got through the winter, many people expected that vaccine therapies and continued PPE use would keep COVID-19 levels low. The opposite effect seems to be occurring. At the start of April 2021, France is entering a four-week lockdown for the third time.

The United States wants a return to normalcy by Independence Day. In the UK, Boris Johnson is staging a reopening plan another time, hoping that this one will work.

WHO warns that we can make progress with the coronavirus this year, but the pandemic will almost certainly continue beyond 2021.

What Does Dr. Anthony Fauci Say About the Pandemic?

Dr. Anthony Fauci is one of the world’s leading experts on contagious diseases. He disagrees with WHO’s assessment slightly, saying that herd immunity could be reached by the end of summer if the vaccination programs go well.

That means we could reach a level of normality close to what we had before COVID-19 before the end of the year.

What will it take to achieve that goal? Fauci says that at least 75% of Americans must receive a vaccination. If the rate is at 50% or lower, it could take a long time to reach the protection levels needed to stay safe against exposure.

The most significant gains are likely to come from the developed countries with the most access to vaccines.

That means saving lives right now must be a priority. Although the vaccines’ efficacy rates are quite high, we must continue wearing facial coverings, practice social distancing, and take care of each other. Hope is on the horizon if we continue working hard to achieve the goals we want to see with our health.

On the other hand, we cannot afford to overlook some of the negative consequences of pandemic-related shutdowns.

Atlantic Ocean Circulation Weakens to Raise More Climate Change Fears

Ocean scientists believe that the Atlantic is experiencing its weakest circulation levels in almost 1,000 years. The decline in this systemic movement could lead to higher sea levels in the United States and more extreme weather events in Europe.

The reason why weak circulation creates potential weather issues involves the Gulf Stream. This event brings the mild weather to Europe, preventing heatwaves and droughts from impacting the continent.

If nothing changes with the current structure, the Gulf Stream could experience up to a 45% reduction in strength by 2100.

Circulation Has Already Slowed About 15%

Researchers believe that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is already down by 15% from its average rate. That’s why we already see weather impacts that include more heatwaves in Europe and more hurricanes along the Americas.

It’s expected to continue weakening over the next two or three decades. Researchers studied sediments, ice cores, and other proxy data to reach these conclusions.

The issue is notable because the AMOC has only been studied since 20004. That means researchers are seeing a 1% average decline each year.

Why Is the AMOC Important to Global Health?

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation carries the warm surface water from the Gulf of Mexico further north into the Atlantic. It becomes colder and saltier until it reaches north of Iceland, where it can pull more warmth from the Caribbean.

That pattern is why wet and mild weather often comes to the United Kingdom, Ireland, and western Europe.

Researchers say that the risks of having the AMOC wind down further are so significant that we must consider making adjustments immediately. If global warming issues cannot be reversed, unprecedented changes could be waiting for us in the future.

Although the AMOC won’t collapse soon, the goal is to prevent instability by the end of the century by starting the work today.

Freshwater Fish Populations Continue Decline

Although we often think of commercial fishing as an offshore task, freshwater fish account for more than 50% of the world’s species. We need them as a resource to take care of our wetlands, lakes, and rivers.

Without freshwater fish, the well-being of our economy and society becomes unbalanced. Although we recognize this fact, about one-third of our current species are endangered and threatened with extinction.

Diversity Is Declining at Twice the Rate of Marine Species

Whether the problem is from over-fishing, global warming, or population expansion, the fact is that freshwater biodiversity is declined at double the speed of marine and terrestrial species. Even though offshore commercial fishing presents its own set of challenges, it’s the inland waters that offer a primary protein source for over 200 million people.

Freshwater fish also create jobs and livelihoods for about 60 million people in Africa, Asia, and South America.

Why is diversity declining at such a tremendous rate? It’s because we undervalue this resource, so we end up overlooking the problems.

Migratory freshwater fish populations have declined by 76% since 1970. For the larger species, such as catfish, that rate increases to 94%.

That means our wetlands, lakes, and rivers are in a crisis state already. If we don’t take action now, the world could be a very different place in the next 20 years.

Solutions Are Always Available When We Look for Them

A team of global scientists from several organizations, including IUCN, WWF, and Cardiff University, has come together to create the Emergency Recovery Plan.

It launched in February 2020 to provide a roadmap to protect freshwater habitats and restore population levels.

The group delivers six points to consider, ranging from letting rivers flow naturally to controlling invasive species.

Without this natural resource, we might lose a valuable part of our society. It goes beyond hunger to the very survival of the planet.

Best Guitars for Intermediate Skill Guitar Players

If you’re an intermediate player, then you’re most likely on the hunt for an intermediate guitar. To know if you’re an intermediate skill guitar player, you should consider the following:

  • You should know the rudimentary Major and Minor bar chord shapes.
  • You should be aware of power chords, how they work, and how to use them smoothly.
  • You should also know your necessary open chords and be able to move between them without a hitch.
  • As time goes on, you will be able to discern whether there has been an improvement or not. If you’re still struggling to decide, consider asking someone who listened to you play when you were a beginner. They may be able to provide you with an answer after comparing your skills.

It can be difficult finding wonderful intermediate guitars. Vintage guitars are a wonderful choice because they are often exceptionally well-produced; however, they can be a bit pricey. If you’re really passionate about vintage guitars, you can try finding more inexpensive brands; however it may still be more expensive than the average modern design. Vintage guitars are amazing, but in case you can’t find one you like or are just not a fan of them in general, we have something else for you.

We’ve compiled this list of three electric guitars and three acoustic guitars for intermediate-skill guitar players.

Electric Guitars for Intermediate Skill Guitar Players

Ibanez RG421

The Ibanez RG421 is an electric guitar with a cool design and quality hardware. The design may be simple, but the build is really good, so you will get a lot of use out of it. However, it does not have a locking nut, and it only has one tone control.

ESP LTD GL200K George Lynch

This colorful electric guitar has a basswood body, and it can produce 22 frets. It also has a master volume tone control. It is an affordable option. However, if you prefer 24 frets, this may not be the best option for you. 

Schecter Damien Special

This comes with a rosewood fingerboard that offers 24 frets. It has a great finish and great hardware. It has a volume, pickup, and tone selector switch. However, the locking nuts may be hard to tune, and the fretboard markers are a bit difficult to understand. Overall, it’s a good choice for an intermediate-skill guitar player.

Acoustic Guitars for Intermediate Skill Guitar Players

Taylor Guitars Big Baby Taylor

This is a solid guitar. It is a bit smaller than average, which makes it a good choice for younger players. If you’re not a fan of big guitars, then this is the acoustic guitar for you. It is a bit pricey, but the Big Baby Taylor is worth it.

Voyage-Air Songwriter Series VAD-04 Folding Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

This foldable guitar is easy to carry and use. The design is unique; however, it may be a little confusing. Regardless, it plays well, and it’s quite affordable.

Fender CD-60S Acoustic Guitar

Fender is a well-known maker of guitars. This guitar plays really well and is easy to master. It comes with a lot of accessories. However, you’ll have to be careful with it because of the black design, which is easy to scratch. 

If you would like to try out the combination, check out the Alvarez Artist Series AJ80CE Jumbo Acoustic-Electric Guitar. Alvarez is well known as a quality producer of acoustic guitars, and the Jumbo is no exception. This guitar produces amazing sound and is easy to play. However, it is rather large, so if you’re a fan of smaller guitars, this may not be the best option for you.

Here Is Why the Myanmar Military Initiated a Coup

The Myanmar military initiated a coup on February 1, 2021. This effort gave it control of the government, with leaders detaining hundreds of people. Elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi was among them, and at least three protestors of this event were killed.

This southeast Asian country shares borders with India, China, Bangladesh, Laos, and Thailand. With approximately 54 million people living there, the country gained its independence from Britain in 1948.

Armed forces ruled the country from 1962 until 2011. After the coup, they are in charge again while declaring a 12-month state of emergency.

The Coup Happened After an Electoral Landslide

Myanmar’s armed forces were backing the opposition party to Aung San Suu Kyi. As with the U.S. election, leaders claimed that widespread fraud tainted the result, which saw Kyi win by a landslide.

The coup took place when a new parliament session was about to open, mimicking the insurrection attempt in Washington on January 6.

Military leaders are currently holding Kyi under house arrest. Her charges included “possessing a legal walkie talkie.”

The commander-in-chief for the military, Min Aung Hlaing, has taken power over the country while the military remains in charge.

The Myanmar Coup Has Received International Condemnation

Myanmar had experienced the largest protests in the country since 2007, when thousands of monks confronted the military government at the time.

During this coup effort, the protestors are now bank officers, students, government employees, lawyers, and teachers.

The military is imposing gathering limits and curfews to prevent a continued uprising. Security forces have fired live ammunition at crowds since the successful coup.

Myanmar’s neighbors are calling the coup an “internal” matter. Officials in the United States and the United Kingdom have initiated sanctions against military officials. The UN Security Council has not acted since China blocked a statement that would condemn the actions.

This Is What Biden’s Environmental Plan Includes

When Joe Biden first started running for office in 2019, one of his first released initiatives was to provide a “clean energy revolution.” By focusing on environmental justice, he hoped to set himself apart from the rest of the candidates.

That ambitious effort worked. After defeating Donald Trump in the general election, the Biden Administration started reversing the policies from the past four years that they saw as detrimental to the environment.

One of the first steps of that process was to rejoin the Paris Agreement.

What Does the Biden Plan Hope to Accomplish?

Biden and his team have some lofty goals with their environmental plan, but the efforts could lead the United States to a leadership position in future green energy solutions.

Here are the goals of the Biden plan.

1. Ensure a 100% clean energy economy.

Biden wants the United States to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. By creating a clean energy economy, the goal is to start reversing the problems that greenhouse gases cause with the global warming issue.

2. Build a stronger country.

Whenever technology changes happen, people get displaced from their jobs. Biden’s efforts include infrastructure updates that offer training to workers while encouraging greener transportation, construction, and resource access. This process also contains regional climate resiliency plans.

3. Stand up to the polluters.

Instead of allowing vulnerable communities to continue carrying the greatest portion of pollution’s dangers, Biden plans to take action against the companies that profit from fossil fuels and environmental damage. That means safe drinking water, access to electric vehicles, and other opportunities to restore the land.

By taking these steps, the Biden Administration hopes to bring the American environment back to a place of restoration. Although time will tell if it works, this structure does provide hope to many who were hurt by previous policies. If Kamala Harris succeeds the current President, she will likely follow through with the same plan.

GM Will Phase Out Gas Engines By 2035

General Motors (GM) set a lofty goal in early 2021. The company’s CEO announced that they would focus entirely on electric vehicles, seeking to phase out gasoline engines by 2035.

This effort is part of a larger plan to be an entirely carbon-neutral company by the year 2040.

GM had already accelerated its plans in this space in 2020, announcing the intention to create 30 new electric vehicles by 2025. This bolder plan would eliminate diesel and gasoline engines, putting it on a course to meet the expected environmental regulations from the Biden Administration through 2024.

Can This Transition Happen in 14 Years?

According to General Motors, every vehicle in its catalog will get retooled to meet the environmental emissions standards that the future is expected to bring. That includes the iconic Corvette, if GM intends to keep that name.

It’s not just the vehicles that are “going green” with GM. The company also announced that all American factories would be using renewable energy by 2030 with these updated corporate goals. They’ll switch over other global manufacturing facilities by 2035.

GM intends to pull their suppliers into the plan, ensuring that the ambitious targets are plausible to reach. Future cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans will get built using more sustainable resources.

GM Signed the 1.5 Celsius Commitment

The world’s governments have the Paris Agreement to consider when working toward a healthier environment. For the corporate world, there is the Business Ambition for the 1.5 Celsius Commitment.

The goal of this commitment is to limit global warming to under two degrees Celsius by changing their practices. Over 1,000 other organizations have already joined this agreement.

GM might be putting a stake in the ground by committing to electric vehicles, but they are still behind the curve with this technology. Several automakers, including rival Ford, have already made similar efforts in this space.