Real estate, cybersecurity and other risks, economics, & more: links & commentary for May 6, 2019

Concerning Trump increasing tariffs on China, “subsidies to state-owned companies” are truly irrelevant to the true issue. If a nation wants to subsidize something, let it. The US subsidizes plenty of industries in the US. Is Trump prepared to drop all such subsidies in the US? He is not. Therefore, demanding China to stop is hypocritical at best.

I’m for increasing the tariffs but only for the right reasons. Trump is always focused on money and never on democracy except when it suits his propaganda, which it doesn’t concerning China.

U.S. companies with heavy business interests in China are getting hit the hardest, particularly technology and industrial companies.” Tough. They should have thought about that before they got in bed with a totalitarian dictatorship.

Scientists say nature is in more trouble now than at any other time in human history, with extinction looming over 1 million species of plants and animals.”

4 Die in Midwest Flooding; Roads Closed, Levees Strained

… polluted the air and ground with dynamite, hydrofluoric acid, mercury, sodium cyanide, arsenic, chloroform, toluene, and chromium.

“The utility blamed for the natural gas explosions in Massachusetts last September now says the potential financial costs of the disaster have jumped to more than $1.6 billion, and could go higher.”

Why the change after so many years of Microsoft’s refusal to let people decide for themselves whether to install feature updates? It’s because Microsoft is a different company under Satya Nadella than it was under Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. It has shed its arrogance and is far more open to new ways of doing business and dealing with its customers. A few months ago, for example, it pulled the plug on its 25-year browser strategy and said it would replace Edge’s web rendering engine with one developed by the Chromium open-source project — a project originally launched by Google.

Microsoft surrenders in its Windows Update war with users

This and domain hacking are the two biggest worries:

… Microsoft’s site carried a definition that hits home with the current spree.

“Supply chain attacks are an emerging kind of threat that target software developers and suppliers. The goal is to access source codes, build processes, or update mechanisms by infecting legitimate apps to distribute malware. Attackers hunt for unsecure network protocols, unprotected server infrastructures, and unsafe coding practices. They break in, change source codes, and hide malware in build and update processes.”

The apps and updates are signed and certified; vendors are likely unaware that their apps or updates are infected with malicious code when released. The malicious code runs with the same trust and permissions as the app.

As tech news sites provided details on the supply chain attack, an often cited information source was Kaspersky Lab—for good reason. Kaspersky has been eyeing this for some time. They were the ones who gave it the name, ShadowHammer.

Supply-chain hack attacks are worrying investigators

Steve Keen – Climate Change and the Nobel Prize in Economics: The Age of Rebellion

How is it possible that the optimal temperature for the planet is 4 degrees above pre-industrial levels—and that damages from that level of warming would amount to under 10% of global GDP—when it would also be “catastrophic to all life on Earth”? How is it possible that Global Warming of 1.5 degrees would reduce global GDP by a few trillion US dollars—less than 5% of what it would have been in the absence of Global Warming—while the policies to achieve that limit, even if executed over a century rather than just five years, would cost over ten times as much?

It isn’t. Instead, either Extinction Rebellion’s claims are vastly overblown, or Nordhaus’s estimates of the economic damages from Global Warming drastically understate the dangers.

Both are possible, of course. But categorically, Nordhaus’s estimates of the potential economic damage from Global Warming are nonsense.


A War Reporter Covers “The End of Ice” — And It Will Change the Way You Think About Climate Catastrophe

Building a bike network in south Brooklyn

Neighborhoods in southern Brooklyn like Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and Gravesend — with higher than average car ownership rates when compared to the rest of New York City — aren’t traditionally thought of as cycling hotspots. But as the city adds more and more bike infrastructure, and elected officials call for an ambitious bike network buildout, a new generation of activists is working to get southern Brooklyn its fair share of bike lanes and let the world know that bikes are welcome south of 65th Street.


Bolsonaro, the Amazon and the world’s next environmental catastrophe

It is easy to place this ugly story into the emerging narrative of Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil. On his way to the top, the new far-right president cast doubt on climate change, committed to slash environmental -protections and branded land rights activists “terrorists.” Since taking office on 1st January, he has banned environmental agencies from talking directly to the press, and flirted with ruinous Amazon mining schemes. He has painted those who wish to protect the Amazon as not just his enemies, but enemies of the whole nation. In sum, the Brazil he is building is, very starkly, a land where the might of loggers and cattle farmers will count for everything, and the vast wooded wilderness and its people will count for nothing.

The left is not immune from embroilment. The Brazilian Workers’ Party—the party of Lula and his successor, Dilma Rousseff—made several alliances with the caucus, and would constantly endorse big projects in the Amazon region, not caring about the fears of environmentalists and indigenous rights activists. Consider the Belo Monte dam—a former dictatorship brainchild that would become the fourth biggest dam in the world, built on the Xingu river. Its construction destroyed the livelihood of traditional populations—about 175km² of protected woods were chopped down, while a further 500km² was flooded.

Yet this project was brought to life not by any nefarious influence of the right, but by Lula himself. When the Rousseff government was about to collapse, one of its last remaining allies was staunch beef caucus congresswoman Katia Abreu, mocked by Greenpeace as “Miss Deforestation”(she later popped up as the Democratic Labour Party candidate for vice president).

In his virulent anti-environmentalism at least, then, Bolsonaro is not such an aberration. Neither he, nor his callous indifference to the Amazon, are extraneous forces put into Brazilian politics. But in many ways, they are its culmination.

… the Amazon’s impact on the world’s environment cannot be over-stated. The rainforest is the world’s largest “carbon sink,” its trees absorbing some 2bn tons of carbon dioxide every year, equivalent to 6 per cent of global emissions. Those trees also release 20 per cent of the Earth’s oxygen. These numbers alone make plain there can and will be no happy ending to the climate change story without protection of the Amazon. But worse, much worse, the destruction of the Amazon also risks unleashing feedback loops of climate change that humanity will not be able
to control.


Close Coal Plants, Save Money: That’s an Indiana Utility’s Plan. The Coal Industry Wants to Stop It.

The company, which gets about 65 percent of its generating capacity from coal, put out a request for proposals for projects to fill the gap if it closed the two coal plants. The results were clear: wind and solar power options were much less expensive than anything else, including natural gas.

Coal has seen its market share battered by a decade of low natural gas prices, which has lifted gas to become the leading fuel for power plants. But the fastest-growing power sources are renewable, as prices of wind turbines and solar panels have dropped to the point that they are competitive with fossil fuels in much of the country.

Coal-supporting officials, including President Donald Trump, put pressure on the Tennessee Valley Authority earlier this year as that utility’s board was deciding whether to close another money-losing coal plant. Despite the pleas, the board approved the shutdown, saying the decision came down to economics.
Coal has seen its market share battered by a decade of low natural gas prices, which has lifted gas to become the leading fuel for power plants. But the fastest-growing power sources are renewable, as prices of wind turbines and solar panels have dropped to the point that they are competitive with fossil fuels in much of the country.

Coal-supporting officials, including President Donald Trump, put pressure on the Tennessee Valley Authority earlier this year as that utility’s board was deciding whether to close another money-losing coal plant. Despite the pleas, the board approved the shutdown, saying the decision came down to economics.


FOURMIDABLE Expands into Toledo Market with Management of Multiple Multifamily Communities

GOHSEP urges hurricane preparedness

What’s wrong with this: “Don’t Tell Anyone, But We Just Had Two Years Of Record-Breaking Global Cooling“? What’s wrong with it?

Truth beats false propaganda every single time:

It is incorrect—while temperatures in 2017 and 2018 were lower than 2016, global temperatures have not dropped sharply, nor at record breaking levels, and there is no “global cooling” trend occurring.

No, we are not experiencing “global cooling”

The spinning by those who want to sow doubt about global warming is the same error they pushed on the public based upon 1998. They took the hottest year on record and then compared it to the next 10. The next 10 weren’t dramatically hotter, so they claimed there was no warming at all. However, after 2008, we started setting records higher than 1998. The trend was always up, and that hasn’t stopped. There are things that could stop it, but we’d be taking a huge gamble waiting for any of them. What we can do is cut carbon burning and ramp up carbon capture.