About Tom Usher

Property and casualty insurance broker/producer

News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Sept. 19, 2017

Linking ≠ endorsement.

Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) Criminals Thought Bitcoin Was the Perfect Hiding Place, but They Thought Wrong – MIT Technology Review

2) Secret Ultrasonic Commands Can Control Your Smartphone, Say Researchers – MIT Technology Review

3) The Great Rent Shakeup: Are Rents Collapsing Across the Country?

4) Reinsurers Will Largely Be Writing the Checks to Pay for Irma Damage – WSJ

5) Australian Banks Sitting on A$500 Billion of 'Liar Loans,' UBS Says – Bloomberg

6) Sea salt around the world is contaminated by plastic, studies show | Environment | The Guardian

7) Trump administration backs off plan to strengthen homes in flood zones

8) Editorial: Price-gougers, scammers take advantage of storm victims, our desire to help – Longview News-Journal – Longview, TX

9) Jamie Dimon Slams Bitcoin as a 'Fraud' – Bloomberg

10) Houston's Floodwaters Are Tainted, Testing Shows – The New York Times

11) National Flood Insurance Is a Disaster | AIER

12) Texas GOP Leaders Push for Expensive, Long-Delayed Flood Infrastructure Projects

13) A $150 Billion Misfire: How Disaster Models Got Irma Wrong – Bloomberg

14) Italy's main opposition parties call for new currency to flank euro | Euronews

15) Florida on Alert for AOB Abuse as Irma Recovery Begins

16) Mississippi woman arrested for insurance fraud | Miami Herald

17) Strengthen Your Home with Seismic Retrofitting Brace & Bolt – California Earthquake Authority

18) False promises about corporate taxes and American workers | Equitable Growth

19) How Tax Reform Can Raise Working-Class Incomes | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

20) Florida Insurance Regulator Issues Irma-Related Emergency Order

21) Irma's Path, Girth Created Bizarre Storm Surge in Florida

22) [The article covers much more than the title suggests] After Hurricane Harvey and Irma: flood protection for your home

23) Hurricane Harvey's toll on air and water pollution slowly coming

24) Colorado's ultra-low unemployment rate didn't budge in August

25) Don't Look Now, But Rent Inflation Is Back

26) Hurricanes could lift insurance rates for homeowners, drivers around US

27) Determining Where and Whether to Rebuild After Hurricanes Irma, Harvey

28) How to determine arson: Greeley, state fire investigators talk about how they do their jobs | GreeleyTribune[.]com

29) Federal flood insurance sinking fast – News – The Columbus Dispatch – Columbus, OH

30) The Suburb of the Future, Almost Here – The New York Times

31) Boomers Are Turning 71—These 4 Charts Paint A Perfect Storm It Will Set Off For Investors | Mauldin Economics

32) Superpower India to Replace China as Growth Engine – Bloomberg

33) As Wildfires Burn in West, Ash Rides Wind High Across US – The New York Times

34) Action not words needed on foreign access to China markets, says chamber | South China Morning Post

35) Here's why Congress can create bipartisan fix to flood insurance this year

36) [Still good] Emergency Information: Hurricane Irma

37) Equifax Ignored Apache Struts Patch For Months

38) TRNN SPECIAL: Trump, The Koch Brothers and Their War on Climate Science – YouTube

39) Cisco's Talos Intelligence Group Blog: CCleanup: A Vast Number of Machines at Risk

40) Hurricane Maria Takes Aim at Caribbean Islands Battered by Irma; NWS Issues Dire Warnings for Puerto Rico

41) Understanding Society: Worker-owned enterprises as a social solution

42) FEMA Trailers Auctioned at Fire Sale Prices Prior to Harvey Landfall

43) Piriform – Security Notification for CCleaner v5.33.6162 and CCleaner Cloud v1.07.3191 for 32-bit Windows users

  1.    Criminals Thought Bitcoin Was the Perfect Hiding Place, but They Thought Wrong – MIT Technology Review

    So, you're a fan of these criminal-loved "currencies"? You won't be buying any insurance here with any of them. I can tell you that for sure.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  2.    Secret Ultrasonic Commands Can Control Your Smartphone, Say Researchers – MIT Technology Review

    Early adopters run more risks, but security holes in tech can be undiscovered for years, even decades. What are we going to do about it all?

    The main problem is the criminal mind. That's what needs hacking and patching more than anything else. Are we willing to go down that path? Will we have a choice?

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  3.    The Great Rent Shakeup: Are Rents Collapsing Across the Country?

    Lot's of useful stats in this one …

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  4.    Reinsurers Will Largely Be Writing the Checks to Pay for Irma Damage – WSJ

    Many analysts say Harvey and Irma and other disasters this year would need to top $100 billion in insured damage before prices would harden, given how much capital there is. Risk-modeling firms estimate that insured damage from Harvey will be between $25 billion and $35 billion, while some early estimates put Irma's in the tens of billions of dollars also.

    Missing from this thinking is the fact that it won't be lost on reinsurers that global warming is making things vastly more risky and that Irma fortunately turned West. The next big one might not.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  5.    Australian Banks Sitting on A$500 Billion of 'Liar Loans,' UBS Says – Bloomberg

    I still think it's a question of when and not if.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  6.    Sea salt around the world is contaminated by plastic, studies show | Environment | The Guardian

    Some environmentalists have said the threat of plastic pollution now "rivals climate change".

    The oil industry is at the heart of both gigantic problems.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  7.    Trump administration backs off plan to strengthen homes in flood zones

    Dan Zarrilli, who oversees Sandy recovery for New York City, told the Daily News that scrapping the rule is "terrible" and that houses will be "built to lower standards because the feds aren't looking at addressing the effects of climate change."

    They know it's there but are focused on fast bucks. I say it's criminal.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  8.    Editorial: Price-gougers, scammers take advantage of storm victims, our desire to help – Longview News-Journal – Longview, TX

    … bottom feeders who see in them an opportunity to re-victimize storm survivors through price gouging, scams and fake businesses.

    Yet, we see numerous articles touting price gouging as a good thing.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  9.    Jamie Dimon Slams Bitcoin as a 'Fraud' – Bloomberg

    I've disagreed with Jamie Dimon often over the years, but I'm glad he's taken my side on this issue. The only thing that gets me is why so many people in high places have been so slow to speak out this way.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  10.    Houston's Floodwaters Are Tainted, Testing Shows – The New York Times

    Sewage, heavy metals, and more …

    In the Houston area, air pollution, flooded toxic waste sites and reports of oil spills after the storm have residents and environmental groups concerned.

    That's only the half of it.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  11.    National Flood Insurance Is a Disaster | AIER

    This is only partly true. There are things the article does not say on purpose.

    Most people do not buy the insurance they need. If they don't have the coverage, they don't get the benefits. However, they still live where coverage should really be considered mandatory. Also, floods are worsening due to the exact market mechanisms lauded in this libertarian article. Only democracy, which is government and not the absence of it, will rein in the unbridled capitalism that has wrought human-caused global warming making the flooding worse. I could go on, but I've said enough to make my point.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  12.    Texas GOP Leaders Push for Expensive, Long-Delayed Flood Infrastructure Projects

    I'll let this one speak for itself.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  13.    A $150 Billion Misfire: How Disaster Models Got Irma Wrong – Bloomberg

    For 10 days, computer-forecast models had struggled with how the high was going to push Irma around and when it was going to stop, said Peter Sousounis, director of meteorology at AIR Worldwide. "I have never watched a forecast more carefully than Irma. I was very surprised not by how one model was going back and forth — but by how all the models were going back and forth."

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  14.    Italy's main opposition parties call for new currency to flank euro | Euronews

    Germany's stubbornness will break the EU. Angela Merkel is the most coddled international leader out there. The corporatists protect her in the mass media. It's extremely shortsighted. Ordoliberalism is dying, and that's a good thing, a very, very good thing. It's a shame the German people as a whole don't get it yet. They think way too small.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  15.    Florida on Alert for AOB Abuse as Irma Recovery Begins

    Good thing to understand: assignment of benefits abuse versus direction to pay.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  16.    Mississippi woman arrested for insurance fraud | Miami Herald

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  17.    Strengthen Your Home with Seismic Retrofitting Brace & Bolt – California Earthquake Authority

    Yes, our program includes offering earthquake coverage in California.

    Seismic retrofitting is a good idea. Nothing is a complete guarantee against damage, but retrofitting statistically makes a significant difference.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  18.    False promises about corporate taxes and American workers | Equitable Growth

    Give any tax cuts directly to the poor, lower class, and middle class. Corporate tax cuts have not been shown to increase the economy. US corporations have been enjoying record profits already. Income inequality is very bad. Huge corporate tax cuts would only worsen the situation.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  19.    How Tax Reform Can Raise Working-Class Incomes | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

    Here's a deep dive. Are your tenants rich? Are they struggling to make their rent payments? Does that stress you out too? What are the social and community impacts and costs?

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  20.    Florida Insurance Regulator Issues Irma-Related Emergency Order

    When emergency regulations kick in to help make sure insureds are protected …

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  21.    Irma's Path, Girth Created Bizarre Storm Surge in Florida

    I don't think pooh-poohing the size of Irma and the impact of carbon-burning-caused global warming is a smart idea.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  22.    [The article covers much more than the title suggests] After Hurricane Harvey and Irma: flood protection for your home

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  23.    Hurricane Harvey's toll on air and water pollution slowly coming

    Fifty-five refineries and petrochemical plants in the Houston, Corpus Christi and Beaumont areas collectively emitted 5.8 million pounds of benzene, ammonia and other pollutants to the air in connection with Hurricane Harvey, according to reports filed by the companies with state regulators.

    In addition, more than 560,000 gallons of crude oil, gasoline, saltwater and other contaminants spilled from wells, pipelines and storage tanks into coastal or inland waters, including the Colorado River in Fayette County southeast of Austin.

    Keep in mind that much of this info is from the companies themselves and are preliminary or subject to adjustments.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  24.    Colorado's ultra-low unemployment rate didn't budge in August

    You see here just how low the unemployment rate has to go before wages might go up. This substantiates what I've been writing for years here on this blog.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  25.    Don't Look Now, But Rent Inflation Is Back

    Keep in mind that rent inflation discussed here is relatively localized. I say relatively because there are ripple effects as some people move away from the storm-hit areas and don't plan to return.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  26.    Hurricanes could lift insurance rates for homeowners, drivers around U.S.

    "… There's less capital supporting the insurance industry, and there's equal demand," says David Havens, managing director of investment bank Imperial Capital. "The way insurers respond to that is to raise prices, because they need to replenish."

    States have to authorize rate increases in many cases. The insurance companies have to justify such increase requests before the increases will necessarily be allowed. Thats the case for most standard types of personal-lines coverage.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  27.    Determining Where and Whether to Rebuild After Hurricanes Irma, Harvey

    Excellent article:

    Smarter zoning, better maps, more stormwater management

    The most impactful immediate change is likely to happen at the local level, Abkowitz said.

    "I think a lot of scrutiny should be placed on zoning boards," he said. "If they're allowing developers to build in hazardous places, putting the opportunity for tax revenue over personal safety, then shame on them. Someone has to hold them to task."

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  28.    How to determine arson: Greeley, state fire investigators talk about how they do their jobs | GreeleyTribune.com

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  29.    Federal flood insurance sinking fast – News – The Columbus Dispatch – Columbus, OH

    Katrina is not the only issue.

    Critics say that a better-designed flood insurance program charges appropriately for those at risk; prioritizes subsidies for the poor, who likely need help with flood damage more than the wealthy; encourages people to build in ways that take into account the flood zones; and encourages private insurance to help meet needs.

    Let me add, again, carbon-fuel-burning-driven global warming.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  30.    The Suburb of the Future, Almost Here – The New York Times

    Thoughts?

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  31.    Boomers Are Turning 71—These 4 Charts Paint A Perfect Storm It Will Set Off For Investors | Mauldin Economics

    Why we need a guaranteed living-income …

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  32.    Superpower India to Replace China as Growth Engine – Bloomberg

    Japan's experience shows there are opportunities from ageing, too. Demand has risen in sectors such as nursing, consumer goods for the elderly, age-appropriate housing and social infrastructure, as well as asset management and insurance.

    The US faces the same thing. We need a guaranteed living income paid for by United States Notes, which are debt-free notes (no bonds issued, no interest paid).

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  33.    As Wildfires Burn in West, Ash Rides Wind High Across U.S. – The New York Times

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  34.    Action not words needed on foreign access to China markets, says chamber | South China Morning Post

    "It appears that in many areas China is no longer opening up, but selectively closing up," the report said.

    The report also listed concerns about forced technology transfer in China — such as in new energy vehicle production — in exchange for market access.

    The old globalization was dead on arrival. People are just now starting to figure that out. Unbridled capitalism isn't, and never was, the answer. Democracy, real democracy, was and is.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  35.    Here's why Congress can create bipartisan fix to flood insurance this year

    The program was established in 1968 to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures.

    "It does so by providing affordable insurance to property owners and by encouraging communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations," according to the FEMA's website.

    Floodplain management is key. It includes vastly better climate and weather modeling, which, in turn, includes vastly more recognition of carbon-fuel-burning-driven global warming. If we get that part right, the flood maps will be much more reliable and people will be told to build better and higher, etc., and to move before it's too late (again). We should pay for the poor to relocate into truly decent housing, and we should radically force curbing carbon burning.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  36.    [Still good] Emergency Information: Hurricane Irma

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  37.    Equifax Ignored Apache Struts Patch For Months

    Don't just blame opensource.

    In a statement released Thursday (Sept. 14), the foundation said a vulnerability in Apache Struts, an open source framework for creating "enterprise-grade" Java web applications, was announced and patched on March 7, 2017. Six months later, Atlanta-based Equifax announced a data breach affecting an estimated 143 million consumers.

    "The Equifax data compromise was due to their failure to install the security updates provided in a timely manner," the Apache Foundation statement concluded.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  38.    TRNN SPECIAL: Trump, The Koch Brothers and Their War on Climate Science – YouTube

    I am not posting this for anti-Republican purposes. There are Democrats and others who have taken the wrong position on carbon-fuel burning and global warming driven by it. I've posted it purely for sound global-risk-management reasons. We absolutely must stop allowing a few to put their private wealth and income above the welfare of pretty much everybody and everything else. Either we stop global warming or it will stop us.

    [lightly edited video description:] A documentary special reveals how climate-change science has been under systematic attack: the multi-million-dollar campaign allowed a climate-change denier to be elected President of the United States.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  39.    Cisco's Talos Intelligence Group Blog: CCleanup: A Vast Number of Machines at Risk

    The comments section contains a URL to a free scanner/protection software by Cisco: http://www.immunet.com/index

    It uses ClamAV, which contains the signature for the CCleaner infection. If you don't have a backup to roll back to before August 15, 2017, it's recommended that you run a scan/program that can detect and remove the malicious code.

    Let me say that Immunet appears to put a high load on CPU and RAM. Also, as noted in the last link below, only the 32-bit version of CCleaner shipped with the malware.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  40.    Hurricane Maria Takes Aim at Caribbean Islands Battered by Irma; NWS Issues Dire Warnings for Puerto Rico

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  41.    Understanding Society: Worker-owned enterprises as a social solution

    This issue will soon become passe if not already.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  42.    FEMA Trailers Auctioned at Fire Sale Prices Prior to Harvey Landfall

    In 2011, FEMA announced that all of its trailers would be built with wood products that met emission standards set by the California Air Resources Board. Units rolled out in 2016 ranged in size from one to three bedrooms and were equipped with smoke detectors, fire sprinklers and central heating and air conditioning, with hookups for washing machines and cable TV.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  43.    Piriform – Security Notification for CCleaner v5.33.6162 and CCleaner Cloud v1.07.3191 for 32-bit Windows users

    If you were using the 64-bit version, they say you weren't infected.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.

Subscribe