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⇧ Here Comes the Sun: America's Solar Boom, in Charts | Mother Jones
Last week, an energy analyst at Deutsche Bank came to a startling conclusion: By 2016, solar power will be as cheap or cheaper than electricity from the conventional grid in every state except three.
Should you put solar panels on your rentals? If not, why not?
⇧ Nearly Half Of New York City's Luxury Apartments Are Bought Off Floorplans Alone - Business Insider
In the current market, buyers have been eager to purchase early, before prices increase, according to Axelrod. "People are anxious to get in on it and not miss the opportunity," she said. "If you buy sooner, not only is the price going to be less, but there's more selection of units and more availability."
⇧ 'Haunted Apartments' Go for Cheap in Hong Kong - Bloomberg
There's a grim phenomenon in Hong Kong's real estate market: discounts of as much as 50 percent for home-seekers willing to live in an apartment where a murder has occurred.
Unnatural deaths typically result in rental discounts of 10 percent to 20 percent and can be more than double that for sinister killings, according to Sammy Po, head of the residential department of realtor Midland Holdings Ltd. (1200) Chinese believe such places, known as "hung jaak," the Cantonese term for "haunted apartments," are unlucky, he said.
In the U.K., a particularly notorious crime can cause a home to become unsaleable, requiring it to be knocked down and rebuilt, said Richard Sexton, a director at e.surv, the country's largest provider of residential property valuations.
⇧ Storm Surge Inundation (SLOSH Maximum of Maximums)
With this education and awareness tool, anyone living in hurricane-prone coastal areas along the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts can now evaluate their own unique risk to storm surge. This map makes it clear that storm surge is not just a beachfront problem, with the risk of storm surge extending several miles from the immediate coastline in some areas. "You don't have to think very hard about it, just look at your location on the national map to find out if you are in an area at risk for storm surge from a future tropical storm or hurricane", said Brian Zachry, Ph.D., NHC storm surge specialist.
However and unfortunately, it currently doesn't cover anything above North Carolina.
⇧ NYC adult home residents asked to repay FEMA aid - US News
NEW YORK (AP) — The residents of Belle Harbor Manor spent four miserable months in emergency shelters after Superstorm Sandy's floodwaters surged through their assisted-living center on New York City's Rockaway peninsula.
Now, the home's disabled, elderly and mostly poor residents have a new headache: The Federal Emergency Management Agency has asked at least a dozen of them to pay back thousands of dollars in disaster aid.
"Everyone asked, 'Do we have to pay this back later on? Is it a loan?' They said, 'No. It's a gift from Obama,'" he said. "If I wasn't eligible, then why give it to me in the first place? They knew we were living in an adult home. They knew our shelter was being paid for by the state. It's not like we lied on the application."
⇧ Slow-moving lava sets house ablaze in Hawaii town
HONOLULU (AP) — A stream of lava set a home on fire Monday in a rural Hawaii town that has been watching the slow-moving flow approach for months.
⇧ Nursing homes unmasked
As the population ages, and more families face the daunting task of choosing long-term care, consumers remain largely in the dark about the ownership of many California nursing homes — and their track records.
While industry officials contend they are intensely regulated by both the state and federal government, no single agency routinely evaluates nursing-home chains to gauge the overall care provided by their facilities.
Data are available for individual nursing homes, as federal, state and nonprofit groups keep records that chronicle staffing levels, bedsore rates and use of antipsychotic drugs, among many issues. But in California, the agency charged with overseeing these skilled-nursing facilities, the Department of Public Health, makes no effort to measure quality of care throughout a chain, or determine whether corporate policies and practices are contributing to any patterns.
Some companies doing business in California go to great lengths to create complex business structures, building layers of limited liability companies and partnerships with curious relationships to one another. The tangled corporate webs make it difficult for consumers and government regulators to identify who's running the operations — and who should be held responsible when things go wrong.
"It's a huge maze to try and figure out who owns what," said Charlene Harrington, professor emerita of sociology and nursing at the University of California, San Francisco, who has spent 35 years researching the nursing-home industry.
⇧ Video: Court of Appeals Upholds 21 Apartments Lawsuit Dismissal | WCBI.com
Galanis' mother and sister sued the complex, claiming it did not warn Gilanis about Batiste's history of violence. But the complex argued background checks showed no such history, and that Batiste and Galanis were best friends before the slaying.
⇧ 495 employees work in building contaminated by lead dust | Local News - KCCI Home
The department says the highest contamination levels were found in and around a former indoor shooting range on the second floor, which had been used by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.
⇧ Volcano Eruption Forces Icelanders to Hide as Europe Forgets - Bloomberg
For the kids at the Graenuvellir kindergarten in Husavik, north Iceland, going out to play was not an option.
They were kept inside on Nov. 4 to protect them from sulfur-dioxide gases spewing from the Holuhraun lava field near the Bardarbunga volcano. The eruption has been going for almost three months and shows no sign of stopping. Red-hot lava has spread 70 square kilometers (27 square miles), covering an area larger than Manhattan.
The government has issued warnings on the health risks. Exposure to sulfur-dioxide can cause irritation in the eyes, throat and lungs. High levels can lead to breathing difficulties. Children are the most vulnerable, according to the Health Directorate.
⇧ csen, Measures of Wage Growth Show Stagnation, But Slack Is Falling Quickly
U6, everyone's favorite measure of labor market underutilization, continues to make new post-crisis lows and is falling at an accelerating rate. In the past year it's fallen over 2%.
I thought the big wage/inflation cycle would start in 2014 and it didn't, but it's just a matter of time.
⇧ Urban Agriculture and Planning | Sustainable Cities Collective
'If we can have a fast food restaurant on every corner, why not a garden?'
Sheryl Ozinsky makes an impassioned plea for urban agriculture. She explains that the time is right for urban agriculture as a revolution of health and nutrition is unfolding. This revolution is a response to rising obesity levels and a proliferation of unhealthy food on the market today. An investment in urban agriculture is an investment in the planet — we do not have a planet B to turn to if we continue to cause irreparable damage to earth.
⇧ Germany's Secret Credit Addiction by Adair Turner - Project Syndicate
We need to stimulate growth and increase inflation without generating higher private or public leverage. The only way to do that is to run increased fiscal deficits, permanently financed by central-bank money. Otherwise, the world will either become mired in deflation and slow growth, or will need to accept further increases in leverage — thereby simply postponing the problem and making it still more intractable.
Deficits are the result of borrowing or issuing bonds. Rather than issuing that sort of currency, issue bond-free/debt-free currency. That would not increase the deficit.
Also, if the quantity of the issuance were matched exactly to the planned increase in productivity, there would be no increase in inflation even while unemployment falls.
Wage increases could match price increases in nearly real time.
We simply need a new monetary policy and program incorporating the best ideas of the past with the latest technology.
⇧ State Marijuana Laws Don't Protect Your Property
As state marijuana laws change, multifamily properties and condos may need to add lease addenda specifically covering marijuana policies on the premises, Booth said. There also may be new disclosures that are required in the future when selling condos in pot-friendly buildings or homes near property that allow marijuana use, she added. For example, since the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana use in some states, there has been an increase in reports of explosions in properties where tenants are growing pot with sophisticated equipment. Smoke and odor could also have an impact on neighbors, and mold from the growing of marijuana — which requires a high level of humidity — could become an issue in multifamily buildings. For all those reasons, it may become necessary to disclose to buyers and renters when they are considering a condo or home in or near properties where marijuana use is allowed.
⇧ More Bank Settlements Coming in Widening Currency Case - NYTimes.com
As authorities in the United States and Britain ready actions this week against giant banks suspected of manipulating the foreign currency market, both the number of government agencies involved and the cost of settling the cases continues to grow.
⇧ Detroit Emerges From Bankruptcy, Yet Pension Risks Linger - NYTimes.com
When the judge in Detroit's historic bankruptcy case approved the city's exit plan on Friday, he said the deal Detroit cut with its retirees bordered on "miraculous."
Under the so-called grand bargain, foundations, the state of Michigan, the Detroit Institute of Arts and even the city's water and sewer system have pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to bolster the municipal pension system and give the art collection new, bankruptcy-proof ownership. In return, retired workers accepted reductions to their monthly checks and other cutbacks. If all goes as planned, the grand bargain will keep the retirees' reduced pension checks coming for the rest of their lives.
But the pension system that the settlement leaves behind has some of the same problems that plunged the city into crisis in the first place — fundamental problems that could also trip up other local governments in the coming years. Like many other public systems, it relies on a funding formula that lags the true cost of the pensions, and is predicated on a forecast investment return that the judge, Steven W. Rhodes, himself sharply questioned during the trial on Detroit's bankruptcy plan.
It does seem unrealistic.
We must say, however, that this whole thing is the result of NAFTA and other such legislation that has been bad for the USA. If America had demanded proper labor and environmental standards in foreign countries before agreeing to NAFTA-like agreements, the workers of Detroit and elsewhere in the US wouldn't had been shafted and the workers in other countries would have benefited more than they have.
We are glad they were able to protect their art collection. It really is an impressive one.
⇧ BBC News - Apec summit: Chinese trade pact plan backed by leaders
Asia-Pacific leaders meeting in China have agreed to move towards a new free trade zone strongly backed by Beijing.
The Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) is seen by some as a rival to a US trade pact, which excludes China [and Russia].
The Apec summit near Beijing agreed to launch a study into the FTAAP.
⇧ Why Are So Many Workers Still Part Time? Seven Charts - Real Time Economics - WSJ
Are American businesses going to rely more heavily on part-time workers long after the recession has ended?
The unemployment rate has dropped sharply over the past year, but the share of Americans working part time because they can't find full-time work remains very high by historical standards.
And while the number of these so-called involuntary part-time workers has been trending down, a few charts show why there's considerable debate over whether the increased reliance on part-time labor is cyclical, meaning it will improve as the economy gets better, or structural, in which something else has encouraged businesses to rely more on part-time workers than before the recession.
The short answer is that we haven't been given the reason, only speculation, which is food for thought as to whether the answer is really there and being withheld from release by whichever portion of the media that has it or whether nobody really knows yet what's going on.
We suspect that the ACA does have much to do with it but that part-time workers allow employers greater flexibility.
⇧ Quantitative Easing for the People by John Muellbauer - Project Syndicate
OXFORD — It is now a near certainty that, by the end of this year, falling energy and commodity prices will push annual inflation in the eurozone below zero — well under the European Central Bank's target of near 2%. Rather than continue to allow misguided conventional thinking, centered on German economic ideology, to impede effective action, the ECB must pursue quantitative easing (QE) "for the people" — an adaptation of Milton Friedman's "helicopter drops" strategy — to reverse deflation and get the eurozone back on track.
...US-style QE, in particular, tends to have adverse distributional implications, because it channels more money toward the wealthy, who have a lower propensity to spend, without providing much to the poorer people who would use it to consume more. In the eurozone, the distribution issue is especially complex, given that institutional differences between countries can give the impression of discrimination among them.
... Extrapolating from America's experience in 2001, when a $300 per person social-security rebate boosted spending by about 25% of the total amount distributed, a €500 ($640) check from the ECB could increase spending by about €34 billion, or 1.4% of GDP. The extra tax revenue that such a rebate would produce would reduce government deficits significantly.
⇧ Urban Decay and Unemployment and Debt Burdens | Sustainable Cities Collective
If you have been following the headlines over the past year, you're probably aware that Atlantic City — the "Gambling Capital of the East Coast" — is in trouble. This year alone, 4 casinos shut their doors — including Revel, which only opened in 2012.
⇧ Top 10 Smart Building Myths Exposed · Environmental Management & Sustainable Development News · Environmental Leader
Although smart buildings have been proven to save energy, streamline facilities management and prevent expensive equipment failures, many property owners and investors do not see the value in smart buildings, so Jones Lang LaSalle created a graphic that discredits the top 10 smart building myths.
A summary of the graphic follows.
⇧ India and Smart City Development and Adoption | Sustainable Cities Collective
Improved governance creates the foundation for smarter cities, and is essential for cities' use of technology to improve service provision. Many Indian cities lack adequate cooperation among different sectors of government, and instead focus too often on public-private partnerships without first focusing on coordination across government departments. This can result in ineffective spending that fails to create sustained impact.
⇧ Mortgage volume stalls with rates
Mortgage rates—and applications—barely moved last week.
Total application volume fell 0.9 percent from the previous week on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Applications to refinance, which saw a brief surge on lower rates in October and then a precipitous drop when rates rose again this month, fell 2 percent from the previous week. Mortgage applications to purchase a home rose 1 percent from the previous week but are still 11 percent below year-ago levels.
This shows that the predictions by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) are off the mark.
⇧ Homeowner charged with fraud
A woman whose Dawson County home caught fire and exploded in March has been charged with felony insurance fraud after officials say she exaggerated the extent of her losses from the blaze.
⇧ Italian appeals court clears panel in quake trial - WTOP.com
An appeals court on Monday cleared experts who had been convicted of failing to adequately warn residents of the risk before an earthquake struck central Italy in 2009, killing more than 300 people.
⇧ CFO Press Release 11/12/2014 CFO Jeff Atwater Highlights Success of Florida's Arson Detection K-9s During Florida Cabinet Meeting
TALLAHASSEE — Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, who also serves as Florida's State Fire Marshal, today highlighted the success of Florida's trained arson detection K-9s during a meeting of the Florida Cabinet. In the last year, the arson detection canine team has assisted 487 investigations, which have helped lead to many arson convictions throughout Florida.
⇧ Researchers find East Coast hurricanes can flood the Midwest
"When you hear about hurricanes or tropical cyclones you think about storm surges and wind damage near the coast," says Villarini, who also conducts research at the internationally renowned IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering. "But it's much more than that. Flooding from a single tropical cyclone often impacts 10 to 15 states located hundreds of miles from the coast and covering a wide area.
⇧ New flood gauges coming to New York rivers
ALBANY — Areas along the Hudson, Mohawk and Oswego rivers will soon have new flood gauges to warn of possible floods.
⇧ Federal Reserve Bank San Francisco | Does Slower Growth Imply Lower Interest Rates?
Sylvain Leduc and Glenn D. Rudebusch:
In this Letter, we document a range of views about the link between potential growth and the natural interest rate. In particular, while the CBO and many FOMC participants expect weaker long-run growth to translate into lower interest rates, private-sector forecasts do not seem to share this view. Thus, future downward pressure on interest rates may be more muted than indicated by current monetary and fiscal policy projections, which would translate into an upside risk to these longer-term interest rate forecasts.
⇧ The Great Wage Slowdown, Looming Over Politics - NYTimes.com
A few years ago, a middle-class tax cut would have seemed a silly idea. Both Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama had already cut taxes, and the federal budget deficit was enormous. But the deficit has since fallen sharply, thanks in part to lower health costs. Meanwhile, middle- and lower-income families are reaping a disproportionately small share of economic growth. Having the government try to rectify the situation doesn't sound so silly now....
A tax increase on the superrich with a proportional tax cut for the middle class and tax elimination for those in poverty makes perfect sense to us.
We argue that it would actually be good for those superrich ones, as the entire economy would benefit greatly more than making up for their misperceived loss.
⇧ Wave begins gigabit broadband rollout in Seattle | Brier Dudley's blog | Seattle Times
All of a sudden, a whole neighborhood in Seattle is getting the sort of ultrafast broadband service that the city has craved for years.
Every home in the Eastlake neighborhood — even houseboats bobbing in Lake Union — will be able to get fiber-optic broadband with speeds up to 1 gigabit per second at low, fixed rates from a service that's launching in December.
No, Google Fiber is not coming to town. Nor is this the result of City Hall's recent kowtowing to CenturyLink.
Gigabit broadband is coming to Eastlake — and soon to other neighborhoods around Seattle and the Eastside — because the low-profile Kirkland-based Wave Broadband has figured out how to provide top-flight service at a relatively low price.
CondoInternet, a subsidiary of Wave, will offer gigabit-speed broadband in Eastlake for a flat rate of $80 per month, or 100 megabit per second service for $60 per month, with no contract, equipment or service bundle requirements.
⇧ Saginaw County Land Bank buys 125 properties from list of nearly 600 foreclosures | MLive.com
Novak said all 125 properties will be added to the demolition list; none were purchased by the land bank for any other purpose.
⇧ Newly passed bill targets owners of neglected, trash-ridden properties | KHON2
Do you live next to a home that you think is a potential threat to your family's health and safety?
On Wednesday, the Honolulu City Council enacted a bill that would go after owners whose properties are more than just an eyesore. It now goes to Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell for his consideration.
⇧ Real estate brokers ignored tenant protection law: city - NY Daily News
Department of Consumer Affairs inspectors have investigated nearly 800 leasing offices since 2010 and found one in four didn't have required signs informing potential renters of their rights.
⇧ Radiation From Fukushima Reaches US West Coast: What Danger Does Cesium-134 Pose?
A plume of radioactive material has been on a steady march across the Pacific Ocean since Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. And it just arrived on the United States' doorstep. Traces of radiation from the leak have been detected about 100 miles off the coast of Eureka in northern California, researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, WHOI, in Massachusetts reported Monday.
Water samples collected in August contained "minute" quantities of cesium-134, a contaminant linked to Fukushima and the same stuff found in the waters near Vancouver, British Columbia, in February. Cesium-134 does not occur naturally in the environment. The only source of the isotope in the Pacific Ocean today is from Fukushima, researchers said.
⇧ Bill Jamieson: When will someone be jailed? - The Scotsman
On criminal proceedings, FCA boss Martin Wheatley said: "This isn't the end of the story. The individuals themselves will face the consequences".
The Serious Fraud Office is preparing potential criminal charges against those alleged to have masterminded the scheme.
That is likely to be a long and complex process. Is it limited to those directly involved in the fixing rings? What of those higher up? What of the directors and the auditors? They might argue that if falling down on the job is a criminal offence, few managers would be safe. But it seems only the spectre of criminal liability will work to change a banking culture rotten to the core.
⇧ Mark Carney's opening remarks at the FSB's pre-Brisbane press briefing - YouTube
Mark Carney, Chairman of the Financial Stability Board spoke at the Bank for International Settlements on 10 November 2014 on too big to fail, total loss absorbing capital and ending implicit public subsidies for banks.
⇧  Samuels says Obama's net neutrality position works and Heinberg sees pain for frackers - YouTube
[@ 15:40] Erin sits down with Richard Heinberg — senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute — to discuss oil. Richard tells us how he interprets the potential deal between China and Russia for Western Siberian gas and gives us his take on Saudi price cuts. He believes that the Saudi price cuts could help put the US fracking industry over the edge, making much of the oil from their wells unprofitable.
⇧ Among Smaller Apartment Markets, Charleston Ranks Near the Top - YouTube
Charleston, South Carolina, has consistently ranked among the nation's top-performing smaller markets in terms of apartment fundamentals in recent years. Strong tailwinds have propelled strong demand — more than enough to keep pace with a big wave of new supply so far.
⇧ NASA | Sea Ice: Thickness and Volume Matter - YouTube
It's not just the surface area of sea ice covering the Arctic that matters — the thickness and overall volume of the ice play a critical role in just how stable the ice pack is and how it affects global climatic systems.