Interesting & Important News & Analysis, August 31, 2019

CA’s Public Banking Act clears its final committee! On to full floor votes.

If this is enacted, it will be a huge, huge, huge deal. It will spread to all the progressive states in the Union. The holdouts will be shooting themselves in both feet relative to those states that do establish their own public banks.

Frankly, I've been advocating for something vastly more progressive about as long as Ellen Brown has been advocating for state and local usury-based public banks. I hope her plan is only a steppingstone to mine.

I advocate a one-bank, no-interest, no-loan system for the USA and, in fact, the whole world. The public bank for the USA would be a steppingstone to the same system for the world.

In the USA, that one bank would be the US Treasury, not the Federal Reserve Bank, which would no longer exist.

You can read the broad outline of my plan here.

The whole thing would eventually lead to a moneyless global-society.

Understanadbly, lots of prep, scrambling, and remaining questions and decisions:

Florida Prepares for Hurricane Dorian Evacuations; Governor Addresses Gas Shortage

Ransomware Bites Dental Data Backup Firm

Cloud data and backup services are a prime target of cybercriminals who deploy ransomware. In July, attackers hit QuickBooks cloud hosting firm iNSYNQ, holding data hostage for many of the company’s clients. In February, cloud payroll data provider Apex Human Capital Management was knocked offline for three days following a ransomware infestation.

The article goes on to discuss the insurance industry's handling of attacks, which I've covered before on this blog. What isn't mentioned, and never is (so far), is banning cybercurrencies, which are used by ransom gangsters to cover their tracks.

Google warns of system-controlling Chrome bug

Google is patching a serious bug in the desktop version of its Chrome browser that could let an attacker take over a computer simply by luring users to a website. ...
Google is keeping quiet about the specifics of the bug until it’s sure that “the majority of users are updated with a fix”.

Social media and enterprise apps pose big security risks

“Organisations should ... treat applications as part of their own network and aim to have complete visibility of their functions. Security should always be paramount when new applications are being deployed.”
The Gigamon survey also asked IT security professionals which applications they believe bring in the most malware to the enterprise. Social media applications were cited as the worst culprits (42%), followed by video streaming apps (17%), gaming apps (12%) and messaging apps (12%).

Microsoft Patch Alert: Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing

The August 2019 Windows patches aren’t yet complete, as of today, but they’ve been churning in convoluted circles, thanks to a bizarre beta test numbering scheme. Even at this late date, the DejaBlue vs VB/VBA quandary still hangs in the air.
... I think of it as Patching as a Keystone Kops Service

The Amazon Is Not Earth’s Lungs

We’re not just burning down the Amazon. We’re burning down all the forests in Earth history that we can get our hands on. For every worrying part per million that CO2 goes up from burning fossil fuels, atmospheric oxygen goes down an equivalent amount, and then some. As a result, oxygen is dropping far faster from burning fossil fuels, and their untold forests, than it is from burning just the trees available on the planet’s surface. We’re reversing tens of millions of years of photosynthesis all at once.

Luckily, unlike CO2, we measure oxygen not in parts per million, but in parts per hundred. In other words, we have been gifted such an absurd surplus of oxygen by deep geological time, and by strange ancient life we’ll never know, that it won’t soon run out by our own hand, whether by deforestation or industry. Thankfully, most of the organic carbon in the Earth can be found not in easily recoverable reservoirs of fossil fuels, available to feed our industrial appetites, but in rather more rarefied deposits—small whispers of this life diffused in mudstones throughout Earth’s crust. There’s plenty of oxygen. For now.

Nevertheless, our geological bonfire illustrates just how unusual the project of humanity is. We are trying to retrieve, burn down, and metabolize all the forests and sea life ever buried, from alien worlds long past. We’re not merely lighting a match to the Amazon and imperiling everything that lives in it with extinction, but also summoning creatures long dead to return to Earth’s surface and give up the ancient energy they took to the grave. This global industrial metabolism, this heedless combustion of the life at the planet’s surface and throughout its history, is a new phenomenon on the face of the Earth. It is a forest fire of the eons.

How the U.S. Government Falters on Support for Innovation

For many decades after WWII, the United States could afford its ad hoc innovation strategy which mostly worked by throwing massive amounts of money at defense and space spending (in the early 1960s the U.S. federal government invested more in R&D than all other nations’, public and business funding, combined). But after three decades of declining government support for R&D as a share of GDP, the U.S. strategy of winning innovation through overwhelming “force” can no longer work.

I agree that we need an industrial policy that focuses on research and development, but I don't necessarily agree with the particular suggestions in the article for going about it.

The real reason the US is lagging, along wit the reasons given in the article, is because the US exported industries to other nations. The so-called leaders in the US who thought the US would export the pollution while retaining the finance and innovation were terribly shortsighted people. My position at the time was to clean up the pollution and prevent it while retaining the industry and jobs and only export our systems to nations that agreed with high standards of democracy, labor health and safety, environmentalism, and the like.

Jimmy Patronis: With Hurricane Dorian in Caribbean, Floridians Need to Pay Attention to Insurance Preparation

That's true, but always prioritize. Protecting life and health comes first. Prep to evacuate in a timely manner. Prep your property as best you're able. Prep your documentation per the article to the extent you're able. Digital backups are very handy.

Read the next article below for more ideas. Many of them are just as useful to the personal as they are to the commercial.

Hurricane Preparation and Recovery Tips for Businesses

Will GSE reform get some clarity from long-awaited blueprints?

I'm putting my money on that no matter what they do, they'll make things worse.

Minneapolis Fed leader Neel Kashkari sees room for even lower interest rates

In business it always pays to be deeply suspicious of any talk of “this time it’s different” or “a new normal,” but as Kashkari described it, the American population is growing more slowly, and as a result economic growth will likely be slower than it has been in the past.

That means interest rates are likely to remain lower than we had once been accustomed to.

“Japan has faced this for 20 years, because their population is growing even more slowly than ours is, and culturally they are very resistant to immigration,” he said at the fair. “And they’ve basically been at zero interest rates for the better part of 20 years.”
The rate of inflation has been consistently low, with little evidence of wage inflation. And even though the unemployment rate has drifted down to levels last seen in the 1960s, every month it seems there are people coming back into the job market. So how can we be at maximum employment?

Kashkari noted that he frequently hears from employers in our region about how hard it is to find workers. But until employers have really tried raising wage rates to fill their openings, this sounds to him like whining. ...
... forward guidance, a wonky idea even among folks who follow Federal Reserve monetary policy for a living.

Basically, all it means is that the Fed openly commits to its plan. In this context that is not only keeping interest rates low, it’s hoping to stimulate businesses and consumers to invest more by publicly committing to keeping them low until the Fed’s target rate of inflation is finally reached. That could take a while.

“I’m trying to change the conversation,” Kashkari said of championing this crisis-era idea. “We ought to consider using at least this one other tool before rates get back down to zero. And maybe we can avoid getting back down to zero.”

Why investors are looking to retrofitting to future-proof assets

For investors with inefficient buildings in their portfolios, carrying out modifications now is “a smarter choice than not acting”, says Dana Robbins Schneider, managing director of JLL Energy and Sustainability Projects in the U.S.

“Green retrofitting existing buildings, while potentially of higher cost in the short term, can create more resilient, competitive assets in the long term while delivering measurable return ono investment,” she says.

Dangerous, short-sighted methane rollback proposal puts oil and gas companies on the spot

“The methane rule serves as a put up or shut up moment for oil and gas companies. We’ve seen major players issue statements of support for the methane rule in the past, all while remaining tethered to trade associations like the American Petroleum Institute (API) that have actively lobbied for its elimination. Given the level of investor scrutiny on this issue, it won’t be possible for companies to hide behind the API any longer. In the wake of this proposed rollback, you can expect investors to demand these companies decide, once and for all, where they stand.”

It’s Not Just Your Smart Speaker. How Amazon Is Coming For The $50T+ Commercial and Residential Real Estate Industries

I'm always concerned with security and privacy implications.

Everything Amazon touches turns to gold?

Everyone’s missing the endgame of Amazon’s real estate referral deal with Realogy

'Your numbers are fake': Puerto Rico newspaper slams Trump for touting hurricane aid claim

Puerto Rico's leading newspaper slammed President Donald Trump in a front-page headline that went after his repeated false claim that the U.S. has given Puerto Rico $92 billion for hurricane recovery.
... The newspaper reported that Congress, along with the executive branch, has allocated the country a total of $49.4 billion with $20.5 billion paid out so far.

Watch out! These [Whirlpool] glass cooktops are being recalled because they can 'turn on by themselves'

We need to stop driving Putin's Russia into the arms of Xi's China. Trying to make out that Donald Trump was ever under Putin's control in any sense is totally counter-productive. Trying to make out that Putin is beyond reach and reason, beyond democracy, is also totally counter-productive.

He doesn't trust the US because when he tried, he got stabbed in the back. He came to the conclusion that every US President will be an imperialist hellbent on reducing Russia and taking it over to the great detriment of the Russian people. We can only change his mind and the minds of the Russian people by our actions. The opportunity is still right there. We simply need to reach out and be decent.

Aaron Maté demolishes Lawrence O'Donnell's embarrassing Russiagate retraction

Aaron Maté slams MSNBC's latest Russiagate dud, exposing how Lawrence O'Donnell's embarrassing retraction is part of a pattern of bogus conspiracy theories that push the limits of political self-satire.