Interesting & Important News & Analysis, September 13, 2019

Buildings Damaged by Severe Weather, Including Likely Tornado, in South Dakota


Schools, Homes Evacuated After Illinois Derailment, Fire


Report: $221B in Western U.S. Homes at Extreme Risk of Wildfire Damage


Dorian Drowned People Taking Refuge in Attics with Its Storm-Surge of 20-25 Feet

In a nation where 80% of the land is less than 32 feet (10 meters) above sea level, people were confronted by “20 feet of ocean in their backyard,” ….


Heads up: Microsoft is back to snooping with this month’s Win7 and 8.1 ‘security-only’ patches

Two months ago, the July Win7 security-only patch was found to install telemetry software, triggered by newly installed scheduled tasks called ProgramDataUpdater, Microsoft Compatibility Appraiser, and AitAgent. As best I can tell, Microsoft never admitted that its security-only patch dropped a telemetry component.

The August security-only update didn’t include that bit of snooping, so it looked like the July snooping was a one-off aberration.

Now we’re learning that the September security-only patches for both Win 7 and Win 8.1 have this, shall we say, feature.


Press Freedoms

I am not a journalist, but that’s irrelevant to the fact that this blog is part of the “press.”

As for the charges against Assange, they are that he allegedly aided Manning in attempting to crack a password. The “evidence” is not compelling. There is no proof that Assange was the person who allegedly aided Manning. The real issue is whether what was submitted to WikiLeaks by Manning revealed illegality on the part of the US government. It did. Revealing such illegality can never be illegal. No lower law used to cover up governmental illegality can be allowed to stand as constitutional.


Trump blasts ‘Mr. Tough Guy’ Bolton: ‘He made some very big mistakes’

“As soon as he mentioned that, the Libyan model, what a disaster. Take a look at what happened to Gadhafi,” Trump said. “I don’t blame Kim Jong Un for what he said after that. And he wanted nothing to do with John Bolton. And that’s not a question of being tough. That’s a question of being not smart to say something like that.”

Why did he hire him in the first place? I certainly hope he doesn’t replace him with yet another neocon warmonger.


China still not doing enough to woo foreign investment, with local governments accused of harming progress

“So, it means there’s massive amount of capital flowing in and out [of China]. Right now, it’s still relatively smooth, but in the long term, do we want to keep our capital in China, do we keep our profit in China? It depends on how open the policy is.”

Can you trust Xi not to change the rules later anyway?


As the Amazon Burns, Indonesia Shows World How to Fight Forest Fires

Since 2015, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has implemented policies aimed at addressing root causes of fires, such as deforestation and poor management of peatlands. This includes creating a peatland restoration agency, fining companies and individuals responsible for fires, extending a deforestation moratorium and strengthening local enforcement and firefighting capabilities.

There’s early evidence that these steps are making a difference.

… the El Niño phenomenon in 2019 is shaping up as the biggest challenge for Indonesia’s new approach since 2015. How well the world’s fourth-most populous nation copes could determine the applicability of Indonesia’s model to a series of other similar tropical nations facing deforestation — from Brazil and Peru to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

… In early August, he announced a major move, making a deforestation moratorium permanent, meaning that millions of hectares of tropical forests and peatlands will remain off-limits to plantations forever.


Trump Ramps Up Assault On Workers’ Rights With Scalia Nomination To Department Of Labor

Donald Trump ran for president on the idea that he would help struggling Americans, the “forgotten man” as he referred to these implicitly white workers, rise up after years of neglect from a shifty labor market and stagnant wages.

Instead, Trump is pursuing the most hostile anti-labor agenda of any modern president, rolling back all kinds of legal protections for working people and ensuring big business can preempt attempts by labor to organize and bargain for fair wages and working conditions.

Trump’s pick to replace Alexander Acosta, who was forced to stepped down because of the shockingly lenient deal he gave convicted pedophile and Trump friend Jeffrey Epstein during his days as a Florida prosecutor, is in a way a crowing jewel of his anti-worker drive, which has already cost workers some $42 billion.

A “legacy” right-wing nominee in the nepotistic tradition of Trumpism, Eugene Scalia is the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, widely seen as the most reactionary justice on the court.

I don’t think it’s “implicitly white”, and Jeffrey Epstein was a pederast rather than a pedophile; but, otherwise, I think I’m completely on board with da Costa.


He says democratic means won’t work, and his father said he’s for a dictatorship; but, the left and Venezuela are the problem? The Bolsonaros are irrational and obviously dangerous.

Outcry as Bolsonaro’s son questions value of democracy in Brazil

Have you read about their extremely close connections with organized crime?


‘Why Are You Pissing In Our Face?’: Inside Warren’s War With the Obama Team

“When Elizabeth was as blunt and direct as she was in standing up to Geithner in those hearing, people in the progressive world were electrified by it and heartened that someone was willing to stand up to a Democratic White House,” says Mike Lux, a longtime Democratic operative who was an ally of Warren’s during the financial crisis.

As Obama positioned himself between the bankers and the pitchforks and took a hard turn from campaign poetry to governing prose, Warren’s furious rhetoric filled a populist void that many on the left had hoped Obama would occupy. Her response to the financial crisis led New York magazine to declare in 2011 that “in large swathes of blue America, Warren’s star actually eclipses Obama’s.”

She was always vastly more correct than the whole Obama team put together.


… the city of Los Angeles has about 8,000 shelter beds to serve the homeless population, and more are on the way. [More councilmembers now opposing ban on where homeless residents can sleep]

However, where do the homeless go and what do they do all day? They have to be allowed to sit down and lie down. They can’t simply stand and move all day long. Some of them are old. Some are in ill-health.

A nation is only as good as it treats its poorest.


Contested plan to build homeless housing on youth rec site in Echo Park forges ahead

O’Farrell also said that, as a “compromise,” he had already committed to requiring any proposals for developing the site to include plans for creating publicly accessible recreation space that faces Lemoyne Street—space that could be leased to El Centro del Pueblo for its use.


Judge decides not to block Embarcadero homeless center construction


Rising water stress could counteract ‘global greening’, study says

Plants react to higher VPD by closing their stomata – the pores plants use to absorb gases needed for photosynthesis – in order to prevent water loss, Yuan says. This causes them to conduct photosynthesis at a slower rate and, so, grow more slowly, he says.

Increased VPD also causes plants to dry out faster and thus can play a role in drought-related forest death, the study adds.


Adapting to climate change could add $7 trillion to the global economy by 2030

In its new report, Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience, The Global Commission on Adaptation has found that the overall rate of return on investments in improved resilience is very high, with benefit-cost ratios ranging from 2:1 to 10:1, and in some cases even higher.

Specifically, our research finds that investing $1.8 trillion globally in five areas from 2020 to 2030 could generate $7.1 trillion in total net benefits. …

… Global demand for food will increase by 50% by 2050 while yields may decline by up to 30% in the absence of ambitious climate action. A more resilient food future will rely on sharp increases in agricultural R&D which has demonstrated benefit-cost ratios between 2:1 to 17:1. The existing $500–$600 billion of public support for agriculture must be redirected to more inclusive, resilient and low carbon production and innovative technologies and finance to enhance the resilience of small-scale producers.

Nature, meanwhile, underpins the resilience of communities and economies, but is rapidly being degraded. Large-scale protection and restoration of nature will require accelerating progress to meet existing political commitments, such as through the Convention on Biological Diversity; appropriately valuing natural assets in land use and investment decisions; and increasing the scale of public and private resources to safeguard nature.

$7T is an extremely low estimate. Bernie wants to spend $16T+ right here in the USA. If other nations rise to that level (proportionately), the total global increase in sustainable economic growth will be more like $70T.


Inside the conflict at Walmart that’s threatening its high-stakes race with Amazon

Amazon now accounts for nearly 38 percent of online retail in the US, up from 32 percent in 2016, according to an estimate from eMarketer. Walmart, on the other hand, accounts for just 4.7 percent, up from 2.6 percent three years ago.

While e-commerce still only represents 5 percent of Walmart’s entire US business, it represents where the industry is moving.

This is the reality Lore is still struggling to get Walmart’s entire executive team and board to accept, though sources say McMillon also acknowledges it: E-commerce in the US is becoming a “winner take all” industry. Or, at a minimum, a “winner take most” market.

Amazon is a very real existential threat to Walmart’s entire future if the retailer does not significantly close this gap — and fast. …

… Amazon actually needs Walmart to be a strong No. 2 competitor in online commerce.

That’s because politicians and the Federal Trade Commission are already asking tough questions about Amazon’s business practices and market power. How much more intense would the scrutiny get if it became clear that even Walmart, with its history and its own market power, didn’t stand a chance against Amazon?


Charleston is No. 1 moving destination in U.S., study says; Columbia, Greenville in top 10

The study found that people are moving from larger metro areas that cost a lot more to medium-size markets where housing is relatively more affordable, has plenty of jobs and large baby boomer populations are present.


So, Bernie started closing the gap on Elizabeth in terms of policy and program proposals and even started passing her. Well, not to be outdone, Elizabeth has come roaring back via her Social Security plan.

Column: Elizabeth Warren offers a Social Security reform plan that checks a lot of boxes

On the benefit side, Warren’s plan is the most generous of the three. She’d increase benefits by $200 a month across the board. That’s a larger increase than either of the two rival bills offer, would apply to everyone and would take effect immediately.

The Baby Boomers sure will take notice of that. They’ll also take notice of the fact that Warren plans to pay for it via taxing the uber-rich.


8 Rental Property Deck Maintenance Do’s And Don’ts

Pressure washing can also do more harm than good when it’s used too much or incorrectly, which is why maintenance professionals emphasize keeping in mind that it has the ability to strip off the wood.


Elders Are Becoming Renters

Here are three changes landlords may face as older tenants enter the market: ….


I’m a conservative Republican. Climate change is real.

I’m a conservative Republican and I believe climate change is real. It’s time for my fellow Republicans in Congress to stop treating this environmental threat as something abstract and political and recognize that it’s already affecting their constituents in their daily lives.

If we don’t change our party’s position soon, our voters will punish us.

It is well past time for Republicans to recognize the increasing costs and dangers associated with a changing climate.


How Generation Z Is Embracing Bold Action in the Face of Climate Crisis


U.S. Recession Indicators Haven’t Made Up Their Minds

Tariffs, the Fed, fiscal spending/stimulus, and dumping governmental borrowing to issue currency are THE issues.

We should keep up the tariffs on Xi’s China. The Fed should not have raised rates in the first place. If there’s a slowdown the Fed can’t handle right away, there should be a fiscal stimulus large enough to reverse the recession ASAP! The money to do that should not be borrowed but simply issued by the Congress.


France urges EU rules on cryptocurrencies, warns of Libra risks

New EU-wide rules came into force last year to increase checks on virtual currencies’ trading venues with the purpose of reducing risks of money laundering and other financial crime.

Ban them.


No known fatalities or serious injuries after tornado, straight-line winds hit Sioux Falls

… when Metro Communication got the alert from the National Weather Service that hazardous weather was imminent, an employee in the dispatch center only activated sirens in the southeast quadrant of the city, TenHaken said.


Excellent overview:

48 States to Investigate Google: Anti-Trust or Politicking?

While there are real reasons to be concerned about Google’s immense power, this investigation is quite politically motivated, explains former financial regulator Bill Black.


The first time I saw video of Bldg 7 coming down, I said to myself, “That’s a controlled demolition.” I hadn’t heard anyone say it before that. Since then, plenty of highly reputable structural engineers and physicists have openly said they are positive it was a controlled demolition. The NIST explanation for how the building fell doesn’t stand up under close scrutiny.

Reality Check: Proof, WTC Building 7 Did Not Fall Down The Way Gov. Agency Claims

What really happened to World Trade Center Building 7 on September 11th, the Franklin Square and Munson Fire District Commissioners’ historic resolution calling for a new investigation, University of Alaska Fairbanks’ bombshell multi-year, $300K study of WTC 7 and how it collapsed.