Real estate, cybersecurity and other risks, economics, & more: links & commentary for May 7, 2019

Lava, sulfur and steam: After the Hawaii volcano eruption, Hawaiians struggle to recover

A year after lava began flowing here on May 3, 2018, in what would become Hawaii’s largest and most destructive volcano eruption in decades, thousands of residents and business owners are still struggling to put their lives back together. Hundreds can’t return home or rebuild. Tourism is down and unemployment is up. The ground still steams in some places and major roads remain impassible. And frustration is mounting over the pace of recovery.

Today, even though the family’s home is still standing, the insurance company has deemed it a total loss, largely because sulfur emissions have rotted away almost everything metal, from electrical sockets to frying pans, the nails in the siding and their appliances. That has meant paying out of pocket to make their home livable again.


$20M in Flood Work Still Not Funded in Colorado


Improving Labor Force Participation

Within demographic groups, the increased incidence of being too sick or disabled to work stands out as the largest contributor to the decline in prime-age labor force participation between 2008 and 2014.

Since 2014, prime-age LFP has benefited from the movement of both demographics and participation behavior. But so far, less than half of the overall behavioral decline between 2008 and 2014 has been reversed.


California’s Latest Weapon Against Climate Change Is Low-Tech Farm Soil


Silent Spring’s Encore

… according to the World Health Organization and the UN Environmental Program, toxic chemicals have been implicated in cancers, heart disease, diabetes and mental disorders (does that sound familiar?)

Studies at NY State University demonstrated exposure to multiple chemicals were far worse than single chemicals as for impact on the human body, causing developmental disorders, sexual dysfunction, infertility, nerve, brain, and bone diseases, autism, depression, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s, cancers and heart disease. (Hmm- health problems that today are “on the rise like never before.”)

A large international study of 85 suspect chemicals found that even low doses of comparatively innocuous chemicals might trigger cancers when combined with other chemicals in diet or the living environment. (Source: W.H. Goodson, et al, Assessing the Carcinogenic potential of low-dose Exposures to Chemical Mixtures in the Environment, Carcinogenesis, Oxford Journal, 2015)

Rachel Carson would be shocked to know that, 60 years subsequent to publication of Silent Spring, health authorities and world leaders have never/ever demanded adequate studies or thorough careful analyses of thousands of chemicals drowning the world in toxicity.

Meanwhile, toxic man-made chemicals are routinely found by scientists in birds, whales, seals, polar bears, and other life forms, which have never had contact with humans, as well as spread throughout the global food chain.

The changes in just the last decade have been startling. Every kind of life form where I live that I used to see on a regular basis and sometimes in the hundreds at once (with the sole exception of humans) is down. Many life forms are way, way down. Some of them I rarely see at all. A few seem to be completely gone.


WordPress 5.2 to Come with Supply-Chain Attack Protection

The WordPress 5.2 build which will be released today will ship with offline digital signatures for all core updates as a defense measure against possible supply-chain attacks, with support for themes, plugins, and translations to be delivered at a later date.


What Chrome’s browser changes mean for your privacy and security

Chrome, which claims close to two-thirds of all global browser market share, is the latest to double down on new security and privacy features after Firefox announced new anti-tracking blockers last month, Microsoft’s Chromium-based Edge promised better granular controls to control your data, and Apple’s Safari browser began preventing advertisers from tracking you from site to site.


Margaret Thatcher elected 40 years ago today [May 4] – ushering in 11 years of discord and despair

The same old Thatcherite story. The effects are being felt, mainly by the young, to this day.

She liberated City bankers with a Big Bang, turning London into the speculator’s world capital.

To bonus-splurging Loadsamoneys, satirised by Harry Enfield, she declared greed was good. To the jobless losers, that there was no such thing as society.

Within a decade we had a banking system which spawned out-of-control Krug-supping spivs who crashed the economy in 2009.

Ordinary families were left to be poorer today than a decade ago while the spivs carried on picking up their bonuses.

Those bankers aren’t the only products of Thatcherism that haunt us today.

A generation of young Tories grew up worshipping her free-market views and her Euroscepticism. David Cameron thrust Brexit on us to try to placate them, taking us back to Thatcher’s days as a warring nation.

George Osborne brought in austerity to shrink the state and attack the poor taking us back to Victorian times. Look at her glorious Thatcherite legacy.

We work longer hours in less secure jobs, there are hordes of homeless on the streets, kids go to school hungry, families live off foodbanks, the NHS is in crisis.

Social mobility has stagnated as has productivity and investment. The North/South divide is huge, the gap between rich and poor is off the scale. Some might say, it’s what she would have wanted.


Preparing for the Worst: How NCEI Data Helps Model Hurricane Impacts


MTA retires old diesel buses as it moves toward all-electric fleet

Over the next five years, the MTA plans to add 500 all-electric buses and has pledged to convert its fleet entirely to electric vehicles by 2040.


The NRP Group Breaks Ground on Platform Lofts Affordable Housing Community in Charlotte

All of the apartment homes at Platform Lofts will be reserved for people making 60% or less than the median income in Meck County, about $44,460 a year for a family of four.