On Friday, the three men were charged with stealing more than $US600,000 ($860,000) worth of wild succulents from public lands and attempting to smuggle them into Asia, where a lucrative black market for the trendy houseplants is flourishing. The bust, which led to the seizure of more than 3700 plants - weighing 300 kilograms - was part of a larger crackdown on succulent poachers who are believed to be part of international smuggling rings. Overseas, the plants retail for as much as $70 each, according to wildlife officials, and are a highly prized consumer good among the growing middle class.
One major fast-food chain that has not ruled out selling a plant-based burger is McDonald’s. A few months ago, the company worked with Nestlé to test a meatless patty in Germany, the Big Vegan TS. For now, though, top McDonald’s executives seem unconvinced that bringing the burger to the United States makes financial sense.
"Just as the emergence of tree intelligence forever changed the planet, so the emergence of consciousness (which long predated humans) forever changed the nature of evolution. Cultural transmission is orders of magnitude faster than genetic transmission, and digital transmission has accelerated the speed of culture a hundredfold or more. We may soon seem, to our artificial intelligence offspring, as motionless and insentient as trees seem to us. And here we live, trying to make a home between our predecessors and our descendants."
“According to the sociologist Manuel Castells (2000), society in the early twenty-first century is characterized by a social structure he calls the “network society”.
[In his book Communication Power] Castells distinguishes between several distinct kinds of power in social networks. He argues that the paramount form of power in the network society is the power to constitute networks - to connect individuals and institutions to these networks, or to exclude them, and to interconnect different networks.
In addition to power as domination of others, which arises from conflicts of interest, as we have seen, there is another kind of power - power of empowerment of others. Whereas power as domination is most effectively exercised through a hierarchy, the most effective social structure for power as empowerment is the network. In a social network, people are empowered by being connected to the network.
In such a network the success of the whole community depends on the success of its individual members, while the success of each member depends on the success of the community as a whole. Any enrichment of individuals, due to increased connectedness in the network, will therefore also enrich the entire network. In social networks, the hubs with the richest connections become centers of power. Because they connect large numbers of people to the network they are sought out as authorities in various fields. Thus, in a social network the centers of power are centers of both empowerment and of authority. “